Saturday, May 18, 2019

Who Caused HWSNBN to "Win"?

Yeah, we know he didn't really win. He got the Electoral College vote with Russian help. That's not winning.

But we keep reading about how comedian Seth Meyer's roast of HWSNBN at the 2011 White House Correspondents' Dinner is what caused He-Who-Shall-Not-Be-Named to decide to run. (See it here:)

And now some self-proclaimed "researchers" have claimed that Jon Stewart is the reason HWSNBN won. (And, again, let's be clear: He did NOT win.)

But at least these people have taken back their claim, citing a "computational error." Really? This is frankly hard to believe. How can you make an error like that in a paper that you know is going to be read and commented on all over America and the rest of the world? Here's a clue, so-called "researchers," something the rest of us learned in second grade: CHECK YOUR WORK.

Because, yeah, they had to take it all back. 

But the article went through technical review, peer review, etc, etc, etc. Here's the truth, well, I shouldn't say that; let me say, instead, here's what some other "researcher" said about the process, as quoted in the article where I first heard about this:

But this isn’t a case of bad science so much as it’s a reality of the scientific process itself. The paper had been through peer review, a process that science journalist Ryan F. Mandelbaum described Friday as “like a restaurant telling you that the food is cooked—it might still be awful or give you food poisoning.” (Mandelbaum was reporting on another tall claim that seems to have been taken back: that a researcher in the U.K. had decoded the infamously tricky Voynich manuscript). In this metaphor, researchers rushing to double-check, and then correct, their own work in the face of peer criticism—which is what happened in this case—are like cooks rushing out to your table midmeal, apologizing, and handing you a Pepto-Bismol themselves. (A paper that’s faulty due to fraud might involve a cook sprinkling in a laxative, and then fleeing the scene.)
As if coming up with a stupid metaphor of a cook at a restaurant making a mistake that might poison you really explains it...wait, yeah, maybe that's not so far off.

When Life Begins and Ends

A couple of days ago, a beloved relative of mine sent me a link to a news article about the new Alabama (or Missouri or Mississippi or Arkansas or Georgia or Kentucky or Louisiana or South Carolina or  Florida or Texas---I don't remember which state---take your pick) anti-life legislation.

My relative was delighted to read, and to share with me and all the other people he regularly emails, the news that the rights of women in all these states to control their own bodies and their own lives will now be further restricted.

Oh, please don't tell me this is about being pro-life. It's not. It's about denying power to women. We all know that, so let's cut the crap, okay? 

The no-nothing legislators brag, yes, they BRAG about how they in reality know nothing about the process of the beginning of life in the womb, who talk about "mutual consent" rape, who claim that it's impossible for a man to rape his wife, who claim that many reports of rape are just the victim trying to get out of admitting she "really wanted it," and so on---these people have no interest in the rights of women or the rights of "the unborn."

For the best treatment of the subject of the beginning of life, and who should control it, please read Alexandra Petri's May 17 column, "When life begins and ends."

She writes that science should be able to explain to us when life begins and ends. Here's a bit from the article:

There is a timeline. Somewhere between conception and when you perish at age 26 after rationing your insulin, or at 27 after undergoing an unwanted Caesarean section, or at 32 in your car during a traffic stop, the moment comes. After that moment, preserving your heartbeat is a matter of total indifference. We must identify this moment. We must study it. We must see how long we can delay this moment’s unfortunate arrival.
When, exactly, do you stop being worth protecting? Is it when you turn 18 but before you can quite graduate when your life starts to weigh less than a gun? Or does your life cease to be worth protecting at 12, when on the playground you can be shot by a police officer?
It must be before 28, or we would not have let Sandra Bland perish in a cell. Maybe it is when your wisdom teeth come in. Or, no, I think, earlier. It must be before 7, or 6, rather, or Sandy Hook would have been utterly impermissible.
And here's another way to look at it: If "we"---that is, THEY, the male legislators who think it's their business to control women's bodies and lives---are really so interested in human life, how about they take care of the women who are forced to bear the children of the men who raped them. How about they force the rapists to pay child support. How about they make sure these "persons" are included in the census. How about they provide health care insurance for that child, or even life insurance. Is this ridiculous? Yes indeed it is. But it's the logical consequence of the new rape laws. See "If a fetus is a person..." for more. I am so outraged I can't continue right now.
Except, I need to add, if you have been raped or sexually assaulted, there is help for you, not from your state legislature, but from the National Sexual Assault Hotline.  Call 800-656-4673.

Friday, May 17, 2019

Fiction Friday, May 17, 2019: Pavane

Pavane"Pavane," by Keith Roberts, is the weirdest sci-fi/fantasy/steampunk/alternate reality book I've read in a long time. Check out the cover art, apparently by the author. The structure of the book is indeed like the structure of the musical and poetic structures called pavanes. But this pavane is nothing like any musical composition or poem I've ever heard or read: It's full of violence and misery. But here I am, reviewing it, because it's so well written, so intense, so .... good a read. 

On the other hand, it's not a book I plan to keep, so if any of my Dear Readers would like to read it, just let me know, and I'll send it to you.

Check out this version of composer Gabriel Faure's "Pavane," and you'll see what I mean.

So, in the Roberts novel, the peasantry of England in the Middle Ages is suffering under the Church, which is keeping not only the peasants but everyone, even the town burghers and the land-owning classes, from the life-saving benefits of technology. 

I guess I don't have much to say about this book right now,.mostly because I'm too tired to think, let alone write anything interesting---except I don't understand why it was so very highly recommended that I actually paid for a "Used, Like New" copy of it...So, if no one who reads this review wants to take me up on this offer of a free, really good, though I've done a horrible job of reviewing it, book, I'll donate it to my wonderful local library for the upcoming book sale.

Monday, May 13, 2019

Was Shakespeare a Woman?

Shakespeare's Dark Lady: Amelia Bassano Lanier the woman behind Shakespeare's plays?We've all heard of the controversy, but this was new to me: some people have suggested that Shakespeare's plays were written by a woman, Amelia Bassano Lanier.

Check out the article, which I think makes a good argument that the plays attributed to Shakespeare couldn't have been written by him, and another good argument that the plays might have been written by this woman.

So, of course, you know me, I'm just going to have to read the whole book.

And knowing about this came just in the nick of time, as I had checked out a book from the library that was supposedly a historical novel about Shakespeare, "The Secret Life of William Shakespeare," by Jude Morgan. And I was worried because I hadn't had time to read it yet, and had to turn it back in. So now I'm not worried about that any more. Because who wants to read a "historical novel" based on a bunch of lies and made-up stories in the first place? 

Here's the blurb from that book: 

There are so few established facts about how the son of a glove maker from Warwickshire became one of the greatest writers of all time that some people doubt he could really have written so many astonishing plays. We know that he married Anne Hathaway, who was pregnant and six years older than he, at the age of eighteen, and that one of their children died of the plague. We know that he left Stratford to seek his fortune in London, and eventually succeeded. He was clearly an unwilling craftsman, ambitious actor, resentful son, almost good-enough husband. But when and how did he also become a genius?
The Secret Life of William Shakespeare pulls back the curtain to imagine what it might have really been like to be Shakespeare before a seemingly ordinary man became a legend. In the hands of acclaimed historical novelist Jude Morgan, this is a brilliantly convincing story of unforgettable richness, warmth, and immediacy.

See what I mean? "There are so few established facts about..." I'm really more interested in reading about possible explanations for those established facts....

Sunday, May 12, 2019

The Sunday Book Review, May 12, 2019: Girls and Women, Succeeding

Eve Ensler is one of my all-time writer-heroes. And she has done it again, with "I Am an Emotional Creature: The Secret Life of Girls Around the World."  
The blurb on Amazon says it's a "daring book." Usually I just laugh at such claims, because they're usually just hype. But this really is, if not daring, a book that dares the reader to think about how she has developed into adulthood, and how she may want to help her own daughter(s) and granddaughter(s) to develop into adulthood.

It dares to focus, in girls' very own words, on the struggle between remaining strong and true to themselves on the one hand, and their cultural identity as pleasers.

As the book jacket says, "[Girls] are taught not to be too intense, too passionate, too smart, too caring, too open. They are encouraged to shut down their instincts, their outrage, their desires and their dreams, to be polite, to obey the rules."

Sound true to anyone? It sure sounds true to me.

I checked this book out of the library, but it's available on Amazon, used, like new, for a very reasonable price.

While I'm at it, let me just mention another book I've read recently. This one I did buy from Amazon, used, like new, for a very reasonable price.

How to Be Successful without Hurting Men's Feelings: Non-threatening Leadership Strategies for WomenIt's called "How to be Successful Without Hurting Men's Feelings," and, boy [sic], is it powerful. So funny you have to laugh; and so real and personal and true to the experience of every woman in every job in every industry in the country, you have to cry.

If any of you Dear Readers would like to read this, I'll gladly send you my copy. As one Amazon reviewer wrote, "Love it or hate it, you will talk about it.

Oh, yeah, you bet there's a pattern here. Hang on to the edge of your seats, because there's more to come, in good time.

Saturday, May 11, 2019

Playing Patriarchy Chicken

Brilliant idea. I've already been playing a variant of the game on local hiking and jogging trails, where some joggers and runners, take up the middle of the trail, even if another person is approaching from the opposite direction.

So my version of the game has been Jogger Chicken: I persist in the track I've beem walking, forcing these people to give way. No big deal, right? Because they don't own the trail, any more than I do. And so instead of moving over to the side and even stopping to let them swing past, which I used to do, and without aggressively walking into their path, I keep on.

I'm not working lately in a big city where the sidewalks are crowded with self-important men, or the subways are full of men who spread their legs out wide to take up more space than the women around them. But I have had the experience very recently, even in my little sleepy town just across the river from Portland, Oregon, of being almost walked over by a man who appeared not to even see me.

So, here are the very simple rules of the game of Patriarchy Chicken: "do not move out of the way of men." Dr. Charlotte Rile, a lecturer in 20th-century history at the University of Southampton, writes:

The point of Patriarchy Chicken is not just that you get where you’re going marginally faster (although you do) or that you irritate a number of men (which you also do). The point is that men have been socialised, for their entire lives, to take up space. Men who would never express these thoughts out loud have nevertheless been brought up to believe that their right to occupy space takes precedent over anyone else’s right to be there. They spread their legs on tubes and trains, they bellow across coffee shops and guffaw in pubs, and they never, ever give way.
Women have not been socialised to take up space. Women have been socialised to give way, to alleviate, to conciliate, and to step to the side.
This is so ingrained that we don’t even think about it. We might stand up in meetings and make our point even when we know a man will take the credit; we might dutifully delete the exclamation marks from our emails so as not to undermine ourselves – but we will still step to the side.
I am an able-bodied 5’ 6” white woman. I move through this world with a lot of privilege. I’m not going to pretend that Patriarchy Chicken would work for everyone. But for me, it’s a way of reclaiming a little bit of space, and reminding myself to question some of the other assumptions that might sometimes be holding me back.
And I'm going to be teaching my granddaughters to play Patriarchy Chicken, too, because, as Dr. Rile notes, "it's a way of ... reminding [them] to question some of the other assumptions that might sometimes be holding [them] back," and that, I add, might hold them back in the future if they don't start now to question those assumptions and assert their right to exist, to take up space, in the world

Friday, May 10, 2019

Fiction Friday, May 10, 2019: The Spook Who Sat by the Door

My brother gave me this book years ago. I read it then, and I've just finished re-reading it today. I wish everyone would read it. The insights to how racism continued into the 1960's, when it was published (1969), are still valid. I mean, the language is different, but not that much; and the cynicism of politicians and liberal do-gooders, and law enforcement---are all familiar. It's astonishing, and it hurts my feelings to read it. 

I did not know anything about the author until I looked him up on Wikipedia:

Samuel Eldred Greenlee, Jr. (July 13, 1930 – May 19, 2014) was an African-American writer, best known for his groundbreaking novel The Spook Who Sat by the Door, which was first published in London by Allison & Busby in March 1969 (having been rejected by dozens of mainstream publishers), and went on to be chosen as The Sunday Times Book of the Year. The novel was subsequently made into the 1973 movie of the same name, directed by Ivan Dixon and co-produced and written by Greenlee, that is now considered a "cult classic".

Also, according to Wikipedia: "In 2012, the film was added to the National Film Registry, which annually chooses 25 films that are "culturally, historically or aesthetically significant", and are, at least, 10 years old.." 

So, next, I guess I'll have to find that movie and see how the book was translated to the screen. It has to be good.

Meanwhile, do read this book. It will change your outlook on the politics of race in the U.S. 

Spook Who Sat by the Door 1973.jpg

Saturday, May 4, 2019

Don't Believe in Climate Change? --- Well....

Back on soapbox.

Don't believe in climate change? Well, climate change believes in you, and it may get you sooner than anyone expected.
Triatomine bug occurrence by state, according to the CDC.
Latest attack: Kissing bugs.  Not where you live, yet? No problemo, amigo mio. They're on their way north.

According to the article:

In September, the CDC warned that the deadly bloodsuckers were on the move up from Central and South America and had been reported as far north as Maryland, Pennsylvania and Virginia.

I'm not even going to write more about this, because you should go ahead and read that article.  

And, as I was writing about our political situation, keep paying attention.

Off soapbox.

Oglala Sioux Tribe Disinvites SD Governor

Trump and Noem seated at a conference table.
The Guv'nor, with her pal, HWSNBN
So, maybe the Governor of South Dakota doesn't realize that the Oglala Sioux are a sovereign nation? Or, being, as she seems to be, a pal of HWSNBN, she doesn't care. She has been showing up on the Oglala Sioux reservation, uninvited, apparently sneaking in, because...I don't know...why? Just a poke in the eye? Because she doesn't  think the Indians matter?

But she's on notice now: After she supported two new laws that would make protests against the Keystone XL pipeline illegal, she is not welcome. From
“I am hereby notifying you that you are not welcome to visit our homelands, the Pine Ridge Reservation, until you rescind your support for [the two laws] and affirm to your state and this country that First Amendment rights to free, political speech are among the truths you hold to be self-evident,” Julian Bear Runner, the tribe’s president, wrote in a letter to Gov. Kristi Noem....
The Oglala Sioux, many of whom are opposed to the pipeline because it would run through sacred tribal lands and have participated in protests against it, also allege the state legislators crafted the bills with the input of TransCanada, the company behind the project to build the pipeline, and without that of the tribe, in violation of the tribe’s sovereignty according to the treaty it signed with the U.S.—something the leaders were “particularly offended” by, according to the letter.

Predictions, and Beto

Why is everyone so worried at this point about which Democratic candidate will end up being the nominee in the 2020 presidential election?

Ha! After I wrote that, I realized that I'm already worried, myself. It's got to be someone who can beat He Who Shall Not Be Named, right? And that's the problem---b/c HWSNBN bragged yesterday about a one-hour phone conversation he had with the Russian leader, whose main goal in life is to disrupt our participatory democracy so he and his oligarchs can take over the world.

Those two did actually collude, yes, collude*, to deny the presidency to Hillary Clinton, and the Russians' plans are already being implemented for the 2020 election, to knock Joe Biden off the map, b/c HWSNBN thinks Biden is the only person who can beat him. So they're ginning up a story to name Biden's son in some kind of fake, yes, fake, conspiracy involving Ukraine, which is a joke, b/c taking over Ukraine is really a Russian, not a Biden, goal.

*Not a real legal term, I know, which the Mueller Report emphasizes: those investigators did not find evidence of "collusion," because they weren't looking for it. But we all know it happened on several levels in the campaign, as certain dim-wits and suck-ups tried to worm their way into a few moments of glory, or a few million dollars in debt relief for their stupid financial decisions, by offering themselves as go-betweens, some even going so far as to try to set up their own private "back channels" to the Kremlin.

Back to where I thought I was starting from: I think it's impossible to predict at this point who will end up running against HWSNBN. I personally don't think the so-called Three B's (Biden, Bernie, and Beto) will be the finalists. Biden can't win b/c HWSNBN and his Russian pals are already working hard to make that impossible. Bernie can't win b/c he lost his chance earlier, and his best ideas are being co-opted by people who have a better chance with the electorate. And Beto can't win b/c he's such a nothing-burger.

And, after all this, here's where I've been leading: "Beto O'Rourke blew it." As Margaret Carlson wrote on Thursday, May 2, "Reacting by losing to Ted Cruz by running for president is like failing to land a role in a community theater production and deciding to take your talents to Broadway."

Here's more of Ms. Carlson's brilliant analysis:

According to my unscientific poll asking every woman I see, Beto reminds them of the worst boyfriend they ever had: self-involved, convinced of his own charm, chronically late if he shows up at all, worth a meal or two but definitely not marriage material. When he should be home with the kids or taking out the trash, he’s jamming with his garage band or skateboarding at Whataburger. He’s “in and out of a funk” which requires long and meaningful runs to clear his head. Every thought he has is transcendent, worthy of being narrated, videotaped, and blogged. He is always out finding himself. At age 46, the man asking to run the country is currently lost.
It’s an old story, the boy who doesn’t want to grow up, whom we fall for briefly and then quickly move on from. But it’s harder for the population at large to snap out of it. A fresh face is all the rage, someone authentic without the varnish of political consultants and the canned bromides of speechwriters. When he burst on the scene, or jumped on the counter, to challenge Sen. Ted Cruz, people all over Texas came out to swoon over him, although not quite enough of them to actually elect him.
And more:

Women feel Amy O’Rourke’s pain, even if she doesn’t. He was home for five minutes before he was off again. The kitchen where he made German pancakes for posting to his Instagram page was meticulously organized for him to swoop in as if he were taping an infomercial for a non-stick griddle. Right after his announcement, he blithely admitted his wife, who held a Nancy Reagan gaze for three minutes, would raise the children, “sometimes with my help.” He thought that was amusing. His 8-year-old told him he was “going to cry all day if you run” adding that by all day he meant “every day.”
I could go on, but I won't. You should read Ms. Carlson's entire article.

But, oh, this year is getting to be way too long, isn't it.


Checkerboard pattern alongside the Priest River in northern Idaho
Along the Priest River in Northern Idaho

Bear lake on the Utah-Idaho border
Bear Lake

I used to think this state was just some kind of a joke. Sorry, people of Idaho. Most people from other states would think so. But once you've visited the place (besides driving through it on your way to some other state), it grows on you.

And check this out:  Looking for a map for how to get to Coeur d'Alene, to visit my new favorite Little Free Library, I found this great information about it. And here are some photos from the "Reference Maps of Idaho" site. And a map.

Idaho covers an area of 216,632 km² (83,570 sq mi) [1] the "Gem State" (its nickname) is somewhat smaller than the island of Great Britain (229,848 km²) or about half the size of Iraq (438,317 km²). Idaho is about the size of Utah, but would fit into Texas more than 3 times.

Reference Map of Idaho

Friday, May 3, 2019

Selling Your Soul: What's Your Price?

I can't help worrying about politics lately. For a while, bouncing back from being obsessed with what the non-elected-so-called-president of our country was doing, I was trying not to pay attention.

But I'm back, trying to find some middle ground, not watching MSNBC for quite as many hours every day:) but still keeping up on the news. Because if we don't pay attention for too long, it will all be gone.

Here's what James Comey, someone who refused to be bought, wrote about this two days ago: 

Amoral leaders have a way of revealing the character of those around them. Sometimes what they reveal is inspiring. For example, James Mattis, the former secretary of defense, resigned over principle, a concept so alien to Mr. Trump that it took days for the president to realize what had happened, before he could start lying about the man.
But more often, proximity to an amoral leader reveals something depressing. I think that’s at least part of what we’ve seen with Bill Barr and Rod Rosenstein. Accomplished people lacking inner strength can’t resist the compromises necessary to survive Mr. Trump and that adds up to something they will never recover from. It takes character like Mr. Mattis’s to avoid the damage, because Mr. Trump eats your soul in small bites.
Comey goes on to describe the process of being led into the spider's web and then being eaten up, bit by bit. It is depressing. And those people who say that elections will solve the problem are wrong, absolutely wrong. Because He Who Shall Not Be Named, along with his Russian pals, have been rigging the elections, and are working hard, along with certain despicable members of Congress, to rig the courts, too.

So, I'm paying attention. I'm writing to my know-nothing member of Congress and my two senators, and I'm supporting worthy counter-movements and potential Democratic nominees for the 2020 presidential election. And I hope all of you, Dear Readers, are doing everything you can do, also.

Thanks for listening. Off the soapbox, for now.

Street Branch of the Little Free Library

Such a charming story, especially for someone like me who loves the Little Free Libraries. Some of our nearby neighborhoods have these, but not as cute and elvish as this one.

Sharalee Armitage Howard had to have an old cottonwood tree in front of her house cut down, so she did what any true book lover would do: She made it into a library.

And it's in Coeur d'Alene, which means we might be able to visit it sometime.

About Coeur d'Alene, from Wikipedia: The city is named after the Coeur d'Alene People, a federally recognized tribe of Native Americans who lived along the rivers and lakes of the region, in a territory of 5,500 square miles (14,000 km2) extending into Washington and Montana. They were first encountered by French fur traders in the late 18th and early 19th century, who referred to them as Cœur d'Alêne, meaning "heart of an awl", reflecting their experience of the tribal traders as tough businessmen, "sharp-hearted" or "shrewd".

Yep, I'm definitely going to find this library and bring some books that I think and hope other people will enjoy reading. Someday. Someday soon. Also, I'm hoping we can add a Little Free Library to our own neighborhood. Again, someday, and, hopefully, someday soon.

Fiction Friday: May 3, 2019: Chronicles of a Radical Hag

Chronicles of a Radical Hag (with Recipes): A NovelThe writer of a regular column in her local newspaper, Haze Evans suffers a massive stroke on the way home from her 81st-birthday celebration with her friend Lois.

That's how the book begins. "Chronicles of a Radical Hag (With Recipes)" is one of the best books I've read in a long time. I recommend it highly, though I'd warn off my friends who don't believe any good can come from same-sex love, or whose ears turn pink on reading an occasional vulgar word, or who just can't stand the thought of a good person who had an extra-marital affair, or who are fans of our current (and, I must add, because I'm me, and this is how I feel, non-elected) president, or, I guess, who wish the world had slowed down around 1954 and stayed there.

While Haze is in the hospital, her co-workers at the newspaper where she got her start go through her old columns and reprint them, along with some of the responses from readers. And so we see how history has affected the people in a small Minnesota town. Whoa, this could have been boring. But in Lorna Landvik's hands, through the eyes of Haze and Lois and all the others, it's funny and enthralling. The characters seem like your own neighbors, even with all their faults and weirdnesses. (Funny, I had to add this word, "weirdnesses," to my Spell-check "dictionary"!)

What else? Oh, yeah, the recipes. Early in her column-writing career, Haze gets a letter from a reader saying her columns are horrible, so why can't she just put in recipes. So she does. And I checked this book out of the library mostly because I am a sucker for those so-called "cozy" mysteries where the heroine is a chef or master baker or whatever, because I love the recipes, even though I don't think I've ever tried even one of them.

The good news about the recipes is that they're all simple, and some of them (lemon bars and brownies) are even recipes that I've already tried, and they're good, and you don't have to be a master baker to make them. So maybe I'll try some of the others.
I checked this book out of the wonderful Camas Public Library, but you can get it on Amazon for just under $18 or on your Kindle for just under $15.  (I had to add "Camas" to my Spell-check dictionary, too. Weird weirdness.)

However, even after recommending this book so highly, I'm not recommending that you buy it. It was a fun and satisfying read, but I will never read it again, and it's not worth $18 to keep it in any of my already overflowing bookcases at home. Just check it out of the library.

Sunday, April 28, 2019


Oh, yes, you bet I'm vaccinated! I'm sure I've written about this before. But it is worth repeating how important it is for all of us to be vaccinated. 

This story from today's Washington Post, "My parents didn't tell me....," is shocking, but it could have been even worse, even heartbreaking. The man telling the story mostly recovered, at least, and he writes that his parents are "predisposed to be suspicious of 'unnatural' medical intervention, and they stand behind their decision. I love them, and I try not to judge them too harshly..."

Thing is, he could have died. Would his parents have been sorry then? Would they have changed their minds? At least the author has been able to talk to his siblings about science and  medicine, and some of them have gotten themselves vaccinated. But what about the others? And the many others out in the world who may get the measles and NOT EVEN KNOW THAT'S WHAT THEY HAVE, and go around infecting others?  

(The "I" in the article is Josh Nerius, a software product manager from Chicago, and the story is "as told to" a Washington Post editor, Sophia Nguyen.)

In not judging them harshly, he's a much better person than most! He makes excuses for them like how in the 1980's not as much was known about measles as is known now. Really? I don't even believe that! And people who are making excuses for their anti-vax beliefs now are still hiding behind the idea that nobody gets measles any more.

Here's the problem with all those excuses, as the author writes to conclude his article: All these people "...don’t seem opposed to it, but the risk of infection doesn’t feel urgent. Everyone is healthy, so everything is fine — until it’s not."

Exactly. Until it's not. 

Wednesday, April 24, 2019


I bring a pile of items upstairs and start to put them away. In order to do that, I have to move a pile of things to another room where I should have put them some time ago. When I bring that pile of things to the other room, I find still another pile.

That pile includes a book that I've been meaning to return to the library. I take it downstairs and put it by the garage door so I'll remember to stop at the library next time I'm out. That reminds me of the other library book I've left by the couch in the family room, which I haven't finished reading, and I need to finish so I can return it, too. So I take a minute to open it and read a few pages.

Then: Oh my goodness! It's time to go somewhere! I put that book down, go upstairs to change clothes, and find one of those piles on the bed. I start putting some of them away, and then my ever-so-patient husband asks me when I'm going to be ready, so we won't be late...

Keep plugging away, Aunt Louise! You'll get it all done, so don't give up now!

Tuesday, April 23, 2019

A Chance to Start Over

A statue of Jesus Christ against a painted backdrop resembling the night sky.Once when I was writing a weekly column ("Sunshine From Sugarland") for a local newspaper, I noted in my New Year's column that I wasn't making New Year's resolutions any more. I'd stopped, I wrote, because I never kept any of those resolutions, so it was obviously a waste of time and emotional energy to come up with new ones every new year.

I added that the one New Year's resolution I'd ever kept had been the one, a few years earlier, never to write another one. 

And I'm still keeping that resolution. 

However, after celebrating Easter in a hospital bed this year, I'm deciding that it's time to fix myself up before it's too late for me. I've been thinking a lot lately about when I want to die (never, obviously!) and about how I want to die (peacefully, in my bed; or while embarked on some great adventure: nothing in between!). 

I'm not going to die for a long time, but I've got to make sure now that this long time is a pleasant time, not filled with weakness and illness and ... well, you know the drill.

Meanwhile, we are praying for a dear woman whose family is gathering from all over the world as she has been placed in hospice care, awaiting her death. 

One more thing, my testimony: Whenever and in whatever circumstances I die, there's the huge relief of knowing that I will live again, without the pain and sorrow that are part of this life's experiences. And I will see my family who are waiting for me there, and greet joyfully the ones who follow.

Saturday, April 20, 2019

The Saturday Book Review: Everything Trump Touches Dies

Everything Trump Touches Dies: A Republican Strategist Gets Real About the Worst President EverI've just finished reading the funniest book ever about The Unelected President, Donald Trump. The subtitle is "A Republican Strategist Gets Real About the Worst President Ever."

The author is Rick Wilson, a Republican strategist who was one of the first Never Trump people in the GOP. And he is among only a few who have maintained their standards over the past two years.

His biting wit is just what I've needed, but I don't recommend that anyone buy the book because it's already out of date, and has been since even before its publication date. (This is typical in these latter political days of a "24-hour news cycle" constantly being fed by that huge pig-like platinum-haired and orange-faced-with-raccoon-eyed buffoon whose name I even hate to write here.

But you should borrow it from your local library, which is what I did. But also you should not spend a lot of time with it. Just search for the witticisms.

Here is one of my favorite quotes from the book, about Alex Jones: "The dog's breakfast of conspiracy-driven, industrial-scale kook media in Trump's orbit has nothing on Alex Jones, the red-faced, hyperventilating host of the Infowars 'network.' Jones makes Breitbart look as measured and considered as the New Yorker in William Shawn's day."

Wilson has no compassion for anyone foolish enough to have entered the political arena. He is an equal-opportunity basher not only of He Who Shall Not Be Named and his allies, but also of mealy-mouthed, weak-spined, lying Republicans and self-proclaimed conservatives who have lost their way in this political climate, and of most Democrats. He does not spare Hillary Clinton or Nancy Pelosi, either. I would add more of his biting sarcasm here but, you know, life is short, and the day is long, and tomorrow is Easter, so now I'm going to turn my thoughts toward the good news.

Happy Easter!

p.s. I've never been an admirer of Ronald Reagan or of anyone who admires him, but here's a great quote from Reagan that Wilson (a Reagan admirer) favors us with:
Freedom is never more than one generation away from extinction. We didn't pass it on to our children in the bloodstream. The only way they can inherit the freedom we have known is if we fight for it, protect it, defend it and then hand it to them with the well thought lessons of how they in their lifetime must do the same. And if you and I don't do this, then you and I may well spend our sunset years telling our children and our children's children what it once was like in America when men were free.
So, Reagan obviously didn't write that himself, but he was good at delivering a good line. And it is a good line, and one that we could be thinking of as Easter approaches, and as we contemplate the lessons of Passover.  And, on the subject of Passover, and resisting evil, here are some great Passover stories of resistance. 

Friday, April 19, 2019

Fiction Friday, April 19, 2019: The Little Paris Bookshop

M. Jean Perdu, AKA "John Lost," runs a bookshop on a barge in the Seine River in Paris. He calls his bookshop a "literary apothecary," and he dispenses advice in the form of books he recommends to his customers to cure their ills. Can literature save one from heartbreak or from the pain of working in a boring job for an unfeeling (or lecherous) boss? Yes, it can, he tells whoever comes into the shop, and after listening to their troubles for just a few minutes, he knows just what they need.

But he himself is heartbroken, having been left by his girlfriend of almost seven years, who goes back to her husband without telling him why.

Fortunately, as he works to solve a neighbor's problems, that lady finds a letter that his girlfriend had left for him, and, after he finally brings himself to read the letter, he knows what to do.

He unmoors the barge and takes off. One of his other neighbors, a suddenly famous novelist who needs to escape from his overly fanatic fans, jumps on board with him, and they follow the rivers and canals of France on a sometimes hilarious and sometimes tragic journey to find the solution to Jean's own problem.

Fair warning: You may not like this book if you don't like the moral background of the setup, or if you don't like the use of certain words (you know what I'm talking about).

But even I, who disapprove of extra-marital affairs and don't like vulgarities, got past all that to enjoy the characters, the plot, and the trip through the French countryside.

I got this book for free in exchange for volunteering in my local library (shout out to the Camas Library!), but you can buy it on Amazon ($11.87 new, and as little as 25 cents used).


Oh my goodness!

While looking through my past posts, I found this one:

"Unprecedented: Weird Word of the Week."

That was posted on September 6, 2018.

Weird Words of the Past 2 Years: Unprecedented, etc.

I'm so sick of hearing MSNBC people say that each and every new outrage performed by Donald Trump is "unprecedented," and all the other words they use to say that he's a lying, cheating, adulterous, idiotic, monstrous mistake who should never have been elected to the previously great office of president.

He lied, he continues to lie, he surrounds himself with liars, toadies, and suck-ups; and he and all his pals are coming close to ruining our country.

Here's my best word for this week and this coming year: Impeach.

Monday, April 1, 2019

Top Ten Reasons I'm Off Facebook

Buh-bye. Time to go. My cheeks are about to crack from smiling so much. So, my top 10 reasons:

10. I realized I was only checking in to see my son's hilarious posts.

9. I realized I was wasting more than 15 minutes per day on it. (I used to set my kitchen timer for 15 minutes every time I checked FB, but then I would turn it off and keep going if I was reading something interesting, or, I have to admit, if I was bored to death and simply didn't want to get back to the work I was supposed to be doing.)

8. I realized that I don't actually know about a quarter of the people who are my Facebook supposed "friends."

7. I was tired of reading ridiculous posts written by anti-vaxxers who are my Facebook supposed "friends."

6. I started getting angry when I read those ridiculous posts written by anti-vaxxers.

5. I realized that any response I made on FB to those ridiculous anti-vax posts would be met with umbrage and anger. (Umbrage and Anger, my new favorite law-firm name.)

4. When my birthday came around year after last and I got those typical "Happy Birthday!" posts from about 100 FB "friends," and I didn't even know who they all were, I made the change so that my real birthday doesn't show up on FB, so the FB people don't notify my FB "friends" that it's my birthday....and

3. The following year on my birthday I got "Happy Birthday" posts from fewer than 10 people, those who really knew it was my birthday w/o FB reminding them. Which was enough. Way enough. Know what I mean?

2. I realized that a ridiculous number of my FB "friends" are politically retarded.

And, DRUM ROLL, my NUMBER ONE reason for quitting Facebook:

1. One of my FB "friends" replied to one of my posts with such an earth-shatteringly and ridiculous excuse for her political retardation that I knew, finally, for sure and forever, at last, it was time to drop out.

Friday, March 29, 2019

Carol Burnett, as the Queen....

...because, after Johnny Carson, of course:

Adam Schiff, My New Hero

Oh, I know, I'm always saying So-and-So is my hero. But Rep. Adam Schiff is true moral hero in our Congress. Here's the speech he gave yesterday during the House Intelligence Committee meeting on Russian interference in our election.

First, some background: The Republican members of the committee, led by the spiteful and ridiculous little man Devin Nunes, read aloud a letter "demanding" that Rep. Schiff resign as chairman of the committee. (Of course they have no right to make such a demand, and the fact that they did this idiotic stunt is just another one of the many demonstrations within the past two years of how low the Republican party has sunk under Trump.)

Here is Lawrence O'Donnell's summary of what happened, including Rep. Schiff's entire response:

And here is the transcript of Rep. Schiff's speech:

“My colleagues might think it’s OK that the Russians offered dirt on the Democratic candidate for president as part of what’s described as the Russian government’s effort to help the Trump campaign. You might think that’s OK.

“My colleagues might think it’s OK that when that was offered to the son of the president, who had a pivotal role in the campaign, that the president’s son did not call the FBI; he did not adamantly refuse that foreign help – no, instead that son said that he would ‘love’ the help with the Russians.

“You might think it’s OK that he took that meeting. You might think it’s OK that Paul Manafort, the campaign chair, someone with great experience running campaigns, also took that meeting. You might think it’s OK that the president’s son-in-law also took that meeting. You might think it’s OK that they concealed it from the public. You might think it’s OK that their only disappointment after that meeting was that the dirt they received on Hillary Clinton wasn’t better. You might think that’s OK.

“You might think it’s OK that when it was discovered, a year later, that they then lied about that meeting and said that it was about adoptions. You might think that it’s OK that it was reported that the president helped dictate that lie. You might think that’s OK. I don’t.
“You might think it’s OK that the campaign chairman of a presidential campaign would offer information about that campaign to a Russian oligarch in exchange for money or debt forgiveness. You might think that’s OK, I don’t.

“You might think it’s OK that that campaign chairman offered polling data to someone linked to Russian intelligence. I don’t think that’s OK.

“You might think it’s OK that the president himself called on Russia to hack his opponent’s emails, if they were listening. You might think it’s OK that later that day, in fact, the Russians attempted to hack a server affiliated with that campaign. I don’t think that’s OK.

“You might think it’s OK that the president’s son-in-law sought to establish a secret back channel of communication with the Russians through a Russian diplomatic facility. I don’t think that’s OK.

“You might think it’s OK that an associate of the president made direct contact with the GRU through Guccifer 2.0 and WikiLeaks, that is considered a hostile intelligence agency. You might think it’s OK that a senior campaign official was instructed to reach that associate and find out what that hostile intelligence agency had to say in terms of dirt on his opponent.
“You might think it’s OK that the national security adviser designate secretly conferred with the Russian ambassador about undermining U.S. sanctions, and you might think it’s OK that he lied about it to the FBI.

“You might say that’s all OK, that’s just what you need to do to win. But I don’t think it’s OK. I don’t think it’s OK. I think it’s immoral, I think it’s unethical, I think it’s unpatriotic and, yes, I think it’s corrupt – and evidence of collusion.”

“Now I have always said that the question of whether this amounts to proof of conspiracy was another matter. Whether the special counsel could prove beyond a reasonable doubt the proof of that crime would be up to the special counsel, and I would accept his decision, and I do. He’s a good and honorable man, and he is a good prosecutor.

“But I do not think that conduct, criminal or not, is OK. And the day we do think that’s OK is the day we will look back and say that is the day that America lost its way.”

“And I will tell you one more thing that is apropos of the hearing today: I don’t think it’s OK that during a presidential campaign Mr. Trump sought the Kremlin’s help to consummate a real estate deal in Moscow that would make him a fortune – according to the special counsel, hundreds of millions of dollars. I don’t think it’s OK to conceal it from the public. I don’t think it’s OK that he advocated a new and more favorable policy towards the Russians even as he was seeking the Russians’ help, the Kremlin’s help to make money. I don’t think it’s OK that his attorney lied to our committee. There is a different word for that than collusion, and it’s called ‘compromise.’

“And that is the subject of our hearing today.”

Off Facebook

I've quit. Too much angst. I'll keep posting things, but on this blog:)

Thursday, March 28, 2019

Saturday, March 9, 2019

La Croix

This is hilarious. Last June I was at a family picnic following the Huntsman 140 bike ride, a huge multi-generational and multi-inlaw-in-all family picnic. And one of the families had volunteered to bring drinks, and they brought a bunch of cans of La Croix beverages.

I felt bad about my reaction to the three flavors of La Croix drinks I tasted that day: I was, frankly, disgusted, but I felt bad because these very nice relative (actually, relatives of relatives of relatives, if you know what I mean) had done their best to bring some nice beverages which they'd heard were the new thing and everyone loved.

So, wait, were you wondering what was hilarious? That "This" I mentioned at the beginning? It certainly wasn't my spitting out the drinks, or dumping out the rest of each can. It's this:

The statement from the CEO of La Croix about his brand. 
SAN ANSELMO, CALIFORNIA - MARCH 08: LaCroix sparkling water is displayed on a shelf at a Safeway store on March 08, 2019 in San Anselmo, California. LaCroix sparkling water maker National Beverage Corp. had its first quarterly sales decline in 5 years and  a 39 percent decline in profits from one year ago. The company reported earnings of $220.9 million. (Photo by Justin Sullivan/Getty Images)
Check out the article at the link above to read the entire statement, with commentary. Oh, let's say you're not interested in reading any entire article. So, here are the final three bits (in bold), with the commentary for each one (not bolded):

There is no greater passion than the kind that creates the wonderful refreshment and contentment described as unique!
I’m beginning to worry Caporella has never had a LaCroix. Tasked to come up with any specific quality about the beverage, he just shouts some adjectives in true Trumpian form.
No doubt, the sound and personality of the word LaCroix, coupled with the awesome experience of its essence and taste … is unique. One can be induced to purchase by cheapening price or giving away a product, but falling in love with a feeling of joy is the result of contentment.
Seriously: Prove you actually know one thing about your own drink.
Just ask any LaCroix consumer … Would you trade away that LaLa feeling? ‘No way, they shout – We just love our LaCroix!’ I am positive they respond this way each and every time.”
Mr. Caporella, do you … need a beer?

Saturday, February 23, 2019

That Parenting Moment

There will come a time in the life of every parent when your child will look at you with that look that says, "You're an idiot."

Sometimes the child will even say it out loud.

But it doesn't matter whether it's spoken or not. You will recognize that look because you, yes, you, yourself once looked at your parents that same way.

And it doesn't matter how smart or not-smart you are. This will happen.

What to do about it?

I don't know. The best you can, whatever that is? Explain your reasoning? Use the tried-and-true "Because I say so, that's why"? Or the other tried-and-true "Because I'm the Mommy"? I've tried all of the above.  If whatever you've done that made your kid think you're an idiot can't be explained by any reason and/or doesn't make any logical sense at all, then acknowledge that fact. 

I wonder what is the youngest age that you can explain, "Mommy/Daddy knows this doesn't make sense, but it's the way we're doing it here, and you need to go along with the program. When you get to be a mommy/daddy, you can do it your own way."

I don't know, but I remember my parents explaining things to me that way when I was a teenager, and I remember that it didn't go over well with me, nor did it go over well with them when I explained back that they need have no worries about my doing things differently, as it was obvious to me that I would never be like them and would be moving out as soon as possible and would go on to create my own life that would be totally different from theirs.

I do know that your best revenge as a parent is knowing that someday that child of yours will have a child of theirs look at them exactly the same way.  And you won't even have to say, "I told you so."

Friday, February 22, 2019

Fiction Friday, Feb. 22, 2019: The Crane Wife

The Crane Wife

Not the CD by the Decemberists. Though, sure, go ahead and take a listen---this music has inspired more than a few poets and fiction writers.

Not the well-known Japanese folk tale of the man who saved a crane's life by mending its wing, and the crane who became his wife out of gratitude, and then the man, that same man, who caused the gentle bird-woman's death by his greed. Though, sure, go ahead and remember or re-read this story, because it's so beautiful and sad.

Not the Illimat Crane Wife Expansion. Though, sure, no, I take it back, not, not at all.

The Crane WifeI'm talking about the book, "The Crane Wife," by Patrick Ness, which takes that original Japanese folk tale and makes it into something almost as great, almost as thought-provoking, and equally as beautiful and sad. And also funny, in parts.

It's so good that I'm ordering copies to send to my reading friends so they can enjoy it, too.

I am not going to take time to write more about it here because if I do I'll be late for an appointment. Maybe I'll write some more, later. Meanwhile, please do see if you can find a copy of this book and devour it.

Thursday, February 21, 2019

My Daily Quarrel with Life: Thurs., Feb. 21, 2019: More on Skin

Such good news! I had a so-called video appointment this morning with my dermatologist.

She looked at the horrible red splotches all over my face---this looks much, much worse than those photos we see in the paper every day of little kids with measles---and said, "Good, very good."

Really? What's so good about it? I've been using this Efudex on my face for 2 weeks now, and the red splotches mean it has been working, and I can stop using it. That's the good news!

Now I'm just supposed to smear plain Vaseline all over my face every morning and every night for the next 6 weeks, or until the pain and the redness go away, whichever comes first. And then I can start using regular lotions. And then a few weeks after that I can use regular sunscreen. So, yay! And I'm looking forward to the pain going away now.

I'm still not going to post a photo of my face here. It's scary, really, I'm not kidding, it's scary. I did go to the PDX Playwrights meeting on Tuesday, and no one stared, no one made any comments---they're all actors, they're used to seeing strangeness, I guess---but couldn't summon the courage to go to Mandarin class last night.

I know, from previous experience with this treatment, that my face will not start to look better now. As the red splotches go away, a general overall redness will cover my face, and then it will look even worse before it gets better. Oh well.

I mean, I don't know what else I could have done. As my dermatologist said, all those splotches represent actinic keratoses, which often go on to become full-blown skin cancers such as squamous cell carcinoma.

Here's more information on actinic keratosis. If you think there's any chance you have these on your face and/or hands, you may want to see your dermatologist and get started on this or some similar treatment. Also, it's good to do it in the winter, because the pain is much worse in the heat and sun.

So, am I really "quarreling" with life every day that I post these comments? Yes, I am! I would love it if life could just be smooth sailing all the time, the way I imagine remembering it from earlier in life. But, seriously, I am glad to be alive and to get treatments like this to save even worse pain and problems and regrets later.