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Rumilluminations March 2009
By: Esther M. Powell
Posted on: Sun, March 01 2009 - 11:46 am

March 31, 2009                              Valparaiso, IN

Only one more day not to be a fool!  Oh, no, I have an appointment tomorrow with the Social Security people!  April Fool's Day and an appointment with a Federal Bureaucracy!  Opportunity to be a double fool!

Oh, well, at least my appointment is not with the IRS.  That would be folly, indeed!  Worse than Friday the 13th or the Ides of March.

Not having earned any significant money for the last few years, I have nothing to say to the IRS, and the IRS has nothing to say to me.

Nothing foolish in that!

What would you call this, a bagatelle?  I think I would call it falafel!

March 30, 2009                             Valparaiso, IN

Why isn't an employee evaluation called a judgment?  Is it because it is supposed to be more objective than a judgment?  It isn't.  It is as much a judgment as any other kind of judgment.

Is an evaluation implied to be more between equals?  I guess not, since we often speak of evaluating objects and non-human conditions.

Is an Internet employee evaluation an eevaluation?

Are all Internet communications preceded by a tacit understood "e?"  Is an elandscape a virtual landscape, or a landscape graced with elands?  When you elope, do you just run across the monitor screen?

If the Internet is virtual reality, is an elie really a lie?  Some people seem to think not!

Is all Internet love really "elove"?  There's a new definition for my list of definitions of love!

And how come "e" if we are talking about virtual reality?  Why not v-mail and v-sale? 

March 29, 2009                                 Valparaiso, IN

Interestingly, during this time of flooding in Fargo, ND I pick up PrairieErth again and read about - flooding.  In Kansas.

One fascinating fact I never knew is that in the central U.S., you don't just abandon your house to the flood and come back when everything has dried up.  If you do, the mud will dry like concrete.

The residents have to keep stirring the muddy waters in their homes when the rivers start to recede.  They have to add more water with hoses or buckets, to keep the mud afloating out of their houses!

Ever had to clean the sludge out of the bottom of a bucket?  Imagine doing that with a whole room or worse yet, the basement and first floor of a whole house!

I wonder how they manage this in the freezing North?

March 28, 2009                                 Valparaiso, IN

"GOP says Obama Budget Threatens future prosperity"  - Yahoo headline for this a.m.

What a laugh!  Why doesn't the GOP want Obama to invest in infrastructure, build up our health programs (for a healthier, stronger baseline, by the way) and start green technologies that will increase our independence from Mideastern oil and help reduce fossil fuel pollution and global warming?

It is a mystery.  How could anyone who has been screaming that higher taxes for them would take away the capital they need to invest in business (in other words, let other people go into debt for future returns) object to us going into debt to invest in business?

On the face of it, it just doesn't make sense.

Oh, I get it.  If Obama increases our deficit, then if/when all too soon the Republicans get into power again, they might not have a nice fat pool of money to squander like they did at the end of the Clinton Presidency!

I just can't get over it!  We are in the worst economic times since the great Depression, and the Republicans who gave them to us actually have the audacity to try to block and criticize the Democrats, including the President and the American people who chose him, from executing the policies they have a mandate to deliver?

These guys are shameless.  Nobody can be that stupid!  You just have to laugh.

(Or maybe they are that stupid.  Maybe the kind of mind that can recognize a person it met once ten years ago (and thus get elected) just doesn't have what it takes to recognize its own circular reasoning.)

(Or are those days gone forever?  Today money buys election success, not personal recognition... Oh dear, I feel April Fooldom coming on!)


March 27, 2009                              Valparaiso, IN

Pop quiz:

This person not only looks a team of gift horses in the mouth - she ultimately accepts it and then shoots it!

This country's government has told the foxes that ate all the chickens to tidy up the chicken house and redesign it for a new set of fowl.

It sounds like this guy, who makes millions shouting off his mouth stupidly, has been told to shut up.  Where will he focus his attention next, to the detriment of whom?

If laughter is the best medicine, what is the best medicine for this ailing political party?

Jesus mingled and worshipped with beggars and prostitutes.  But McCain's campaign team wasn't good enough for this God-talking Republican "to hold hands and pray with"!

(I have been told by my partner in crime that part of this quiz should be called a mom quiz!  Wow, we're up to triple entendre here!  Whoopee!)

March 26, 2009                               Valparaiso, IN

For years now I have been kind of wondering why Americans have been out-technologized (often by Asians) and out medical-schooled (by students from India, often.)  Were we really that inferior?  That much stupider and lazier?

Well, evidently, the answer to the first question is "yes."  I have been reading Malcolm Gladwell's Outliers and part of the answer, in his opinion, is that we have a summer vacation which allows too many of us to lie a little too fallow for three months of the year.

When I was a kid I crossed off the days of the calendar before summer vacation.  I pined for it.

When I was a mom, the first month of summer vacation was wonderful.  After July 4, well, it wasn't quite hell, but let's put it this way:  I was relieved when school started again in the Fall.

As a working adult, I resented the fact that summer vacations seemed to be gone forever.  The only way I could have recaptured them would have been to teach, and many teachers work during the summers now.

There seems to be no question that we, as a society, have to give up or at least transform summer vacation.  Obama mentioned the long summer vacation this very day, I understand, as being an agricultural society relic.

Sounds like he's been reading Malcolm Gladwell (and others, I'm sure!) also. 

March 25, 2009                             Valparaiso, IN

Well, dang!  It looks like I should have watched 60 Minutes the other day, where Obama (according to Chris Matthews yesterday) had already used the same phrase I used (the "gallows humor" thing) to explain his seeming levity.  Oh, well, I meant to watch it.  Great minds and all that..... ha.

Today I am wondering why socialism is such a dirty word for so many people.  "From each according to his ability, to each according to his needs."  Is that so very terrible?  Isn't that what the capitalist system wants to do?

People going into business in what they are good at, people getting jobs doing what they are good at for other people - doesn't that sound like capitalism?  Throw charity into the mix - (and who wouldn't, honestly?  Does anyone really want people in need dying on their doorsteps?)  Throw charity into the mix, and what is the difference between capitalism and socialism?

Is it a matter of who is in control?

Individuals don't want to be forced to do something just because they are good at it, but does that really happen in socialist countries?  Is a state-sponsored college education such a rotten thing?

I would rather have an impersonal state that is trying to work for the good of all, me included, than an equally impersonal business structure that doesn't give a hoot whether I live or die.  (And you know, hoot is too lovingly "o"-filled to be the word I'm thinking of!)

A little socialist counseling might have done me a world of good when I was young and aimless!  No one seemed much interested in exploiting my intelligence or talents.  (That's not to say I didn't have an offer or two of help - but a minimal time was put into discussing the implications with me.  (One minute, maybe - and I am not kidding.  I think the answer I got to a pretty basic question was, "I don't know."))

I'm not quite willing to admit I have wasted my life.  I have brought up three wonderful children and done a little good work here and there on this and that.  I have spent what seemed to me a good deal of my life serving people and creating order out of chaos.

But what might I have done if there had been someone around who really would/could assess my skills and inclinations and help facilitate my access to paths that would develop them for the good of us all?  A mentor would have been nice.  Or some encouragement other than the ubiquitous (and really quite meaningless) "You can do anything you want."

I'm not whining.  I've had a good life in many ways, and I've had a lot of fun.

But neither do I think I am speaking only for myself with regards to this issue.  There are many, many people in our capitalist system whose talents are wasted.  Don't believe me?  Ask around!

(Maybe it is our own fault if our talents are wasted, but if society wants to get the best out of all its citizens, it should perhaps work a little harder to get it instead of falling back on the blame game.  Perhaps another form of "blame the victim.")

Oh, and by the way, how are the "socialist" countries doing economically compared to us these days?

March 24, 2009                                  Valparaiso, IN

Oh, spare me!  Every time Obama turns around, he is damned if he does and damned if he doesn't.

The latest criticism is his sense of humor.

Spare me!  If Obama hadn't had a sense of humor, he would be just another angry biracial man.  Don't we have enough angry men around?

To have a sense of humor about a sensitive or difficult situation is not to downplay it or pretend it is not important.  Aren't people who work with crime scenes famous for a gallows humor?  This is not caused by levity or care-less-ness.  It is a way of coping.

As far as I can tell, this humor/deadly serious dichotomy is no more than a matter of style.  Thank God Obama can joke a little!  What better way to deal with a difficult situation and try to help us all keep some perspective?

Honestly, one would think these critics (often Republicans, it would seem) were being stu... er, I mean... disingenuous?

Never!  Ha, ha, ha, ha......

March 23, 2009                                  Valparaiso, IN

When I came back to Valparaiso a few years back, I was sorry to learn that our local paper, The Vidette Messenger, has become subsumed into a regional one.  I wondered what happened to the brother of a friend of mine, Kenny Dowdell.  He was a newspaper boy when he was in grade school.  When he was in high school he started reporting for the Vidette Messenger, I understand, and subsequently became a staff reporter.  (I have heard since that he is a reporter farther west, Kansas maybe?)

My mom still subscribes to the paper.  It has a few features she enjoys, most notably the crossword puzzles.  But I wonder how long even this regional paper can survive.

One still worries about what will happen to journalists.  Maybe some foundations will start offering grants to them for the kind of large long-term-project reporting that is so rarely supported any more today.  How would those reports be disseminated then?  Via the Internet?

Maybe now that so many of us are getting our national and world news on the Internet it is time to revive the small, intimate old-time local newspaper!  I read recently about a newspaperman in the East who has done just that.  After he lost his newspaper job, he purchased old printing equipment and went into business providing a local newspaper for the residents of his community.  I got the impression that by doing everything himself, he was making a go of it.

Wonderful!  It is too weird to think that we know what is going on halfway around the world, but nothing about what is going on halfway around the block.

Hmmm... wonder if I should start looking around for an old printing press?

March 22, 2009                              Valparaiso, IN

In the early nineties, when I was in my mid-forties, I started working out.  I went on a dozen Kaiser machines 3-5 times a week and started doing crunches in bed.

Everything in life became easier.  Bank doors that used to be well-nigh unmoveable would spring open at a touch.  (Well, that's what it felt like!  Once I was thankful no one was on the other side.  I could have injured them!)

Weeding was easy.

I was trying to eat in a more healthy fashion, also.  My woven leather belt started developing a long tail that dangled seven inches from the belt loop on the left side of my jeans.

I think that should be the new American status symbol:  a belt that used to fit becoming almost unwearable because its owner is tightening it so much.

Only people who have given the federal government more than they owe in taxes have a right to wear it.

We, who have so much less stuff than the very rich, can wear the status symbol with pride and sneer at the excessively rich as we trudge down the street in our boot-strapped footgear.  (What are boot-straps, anyway?  Have to look it up!)

Talk about a reverse snobbery that means something and isn't just sour grapes!

Ha, ha.  Another form of rebellion - pelt the rich with sour grapes!  (Just kidding.  That would be assault and/or battery, ultimately self-destructive behavior.)

Unfortunately, my belt was given away years ago to someone who needed a larger belt.  He is working out at the gym these days though, so maybe he will soon have the makings of a real reverse-snob status symbol of his own!

(Watch the rich try to buy theirs.  They could do it (anyone could) but nobody would be fooled.  People who feel like they are deprived if they can't wear Gucci and sport $300 hairdoes just cannot fake this status symbol!)

Their hanging belt-tails would just have to be diamond-studded.

That's okay.  We're inventive.  We'll find another badge of honor.  Wasn't there someone who made an accessory out of cut-up credit cards?

March 21, 2009                                 Valparaiso, IN

Why do they spell the pop name for Nadya the serial birther "Octomom?"  She's not an octo-mom, she's a tredecim-mom!  I think my spelling of octumom is more accurate - she is the mom of octuplets.  If you want to talk about her momhood in toto Tredecim-mom she must be!

Goodness, I love playing these pedantic word games, especially if they are initiated by me!

March 20, 2009                           Valparaiso, IN

Of all the wonders of the Internet, one of the greatest must be the opportunity to hear bird calls.

Today we were out on a walk.  Was that a song sparrow?  But the song seemed longer and more intricate!  A meadowlark?  There is a meadow over there.  But lately I haven't heard or seen as many larks as I used to.

Later on, a repetitious phrase or two.  Mockingbird?  A little early in the spring.  Probably a catbird, which really can fool you into thinking a cat is lurking nearby when he's not singing!

Not sure what you saw, but you heard a great song?

Well, go eavesdrop on the birds via the Internet!  Maybe it will help you confirm your identification.

We've given our resident finches a great concert today.  A wren seemed to inspire them the most to faithful imitation.

But who knows, maybe that wren just had the most inspired message to deliver!

March 19, 2009                                 Valparaiso, IN

Jay Leno is a hero of mine.  What a lovely trait!  Trying to see the humor in any situation!  I cannot pretend to come close to that ideal.

But I can't help wondering.  Why does he always put his hands in his pockets after touching paws with the great unwashed at the beginning of his show?

I have a theory:  in his pockets are cloths imbued with that antiseptic stuff and he covers his hands in that.  Ever noticed how he rubs his hands a little when he brings them out of his pockets?

Well, I hope that idea is worth a chuckle, anyway.  Personally, I wouldn't blame him for trying to avoid infection and disease in any way he could.  (Oh, and I must confess, try as I might I cant see any wiggling going on in his pockets that would suggest that my theory is true.)

Poor Jay Leno!  What price fame?  How horrible to be so scrutinized!

Barack Obama is another of my heroes.  Can you believe that the Republicans, whose President George Bush was criticized for taking an unprecedented amount of time off playing, have the gall to criticize the President for combining business with business (really!) and appearing on the Tonight show (airing tonight, by the way.)

I wouldn't miss it for anything.  My two heroes!  I plan to learn something and laugh, too!

March 18, 2009                                  Valparaiso, IN

Wow.  Spring.  Going around outside without jackets.

Packing up bulky woolen blankets and heavy flannel PJs and storing them in the attic.

Buying five pairs of winter gloves for the original price of the most expensive, and putting them away for the summer to use/give away/lose next winter.  A possible head start on next year's Christmas presents, or impossibly selfish luxury!

Smelling sweetness on the air that is impossible, right?  Do crocuses and scylla smell that sweet?  Is the scent wafting up from Tennessee which is already in bloom?

Seeing a little chipmunk whip from an upheaved slab of sidewalk so fast that you can't even see exactly what he is until he peeks his little head out to see where you are, because even he can't stay inside in this weather!

Wow.  Spring.

March 17, 2009                                  Valparaiso, IN

Don't you love it that Obama is part Irish?

I'm part Scotch-Irish.  Does that mean I have Scottish ancesters who lived in Ireland?  Or that I am a blend of the two?  Or that I had an Irish ancestor who preferred Scotch to Irish whiskey?

One of my family names is MacLaren.  Sounds and is Scottish.  If my family has an Irish name I don't know it.  Certainly not an O' name.  Darn.  Missing the power of the O!

I didn't put on any green this morning.  I didn't even think of St. Patrick's Day - only weighed the pros and cons of taking a morning shower.  I decided once I was outside and saw everyone in green that my gray socks really do have a greenish cast!

Nobody threatened to pinch me anyway - not even in the gym!

March 16, 2009                             Valparaiso, IN

So the AIG bonuses aren't coming out of taxpayer money.  The money is being newly minted and coming out of the U.S. treasury.

I don't care.  All that flooding the economy with new bucks is going to make everybody else's bucks worth less.  There should be some guarantee that the AIG bailouts be payed back to the gov. in the same value, not just numbers, as what they are getting.  (In other words, those bucks better have just as many points on their antlers!)

Or, since the money is just being "created," does AIG not have to pay it back at all, ever?  Or when they pay it back, does the treasury just destroy it?

I like that MSNBC is educating us as much as it is about this stuff.  I could still use more information.  If you folks know so much you have no clue as to what we don't know, just visit my site!


March 15, 2009                                 Valparaiso, IN

AIG is giving out more of our taxpayer money in bonuses.  They say they have to do it because it is in their contracts.  I don't get it.  If they were bankrupt and completely kaput they wouldn't be paying out those bonuses!

Spare me!  Can't a gift from the federal government be earmarked?  Can't it be contingent on the money being spent in certain ways?  Isn't it illegal to give out government money to people in bonus form?

I don't know much law, but I know an illegal contract cannot be honored by law!

I saw a financial expert say (of perhaps another company, I don't recall) that it is not the "same" money - that what is going out in bonuses is from another fund.  So what?  Restructure!

I have only had one job where I got bonuses at all.  Don't reduce bonuses next year at AIG by 30% - abolish them!  Give a commission or a decent salary and let it go at that.

Oh, and why is everyone so careful of Madoff's wife?  She has profited for years from his misdealings.  If he were an ordinary person who had just lost his job (and she her support) wouldn't we say that's just life?  And doesn't she feel any responsibility for making his victims whole?

Hey, this is Sunday, and I guess I feel like playing a hell-and-brimstone minister!

Bolts of lightning!  Thunder galore!

March 14, 2009                              Valparaiso, IN

This morning I heard what sounded like sandhill cranes outside, and I rushed out in hopes of seeing them.  Wow, did I ever!  They were flying fairly low, directly over my head - about thirty of them - and they didn't seem in a hurry to go anywhere, so I got to watch them for a while.

Thanks to a big book about birds on display at the public library the other day, I was able to guess what they were up to.  No, they weren't circling around looking for food.  They were riding a thermal!  Every time they circled, they were a little higher in the sky.

Eventually their gliding flight took them away.  The book said that birds which use this flight technique can tell where they can catch another thermal:  all they have to do is spot a little cloud where the rising warm air meets cold air and condenses into droplets.

I couldn't see any clouds from my vantage point.  The sandhill cranes were pretty high up and far away when I was distracted from them.  I'm sure they had a much better perspective than I did for locating their next elevator!

My distraction?  Three cardinals in our back yard - two males and a female.  First time I have seen more than one at a time here!  Pretty exciting day!

If I'm not careful I'll be like I was when I took ornithology at Valparasio University.  I lived in a little house (by the cemetery on Union Street) which had a pond in the yard.  In the month of May I had trouble staying inside for twenty minutes at a time, there was so much noisy bird life around, luring me outside! 

March 13, 2009                           Valparaiso, IN

Are optometrists optimistic?

If you hang out with plasterers, will you get plastered?

If you are succinct, are you sucking on a sink?

There are "bear" (bare?) and "bull" markets.  Are there "boar" markets that stay level?  Are they boring?  How about "monkey" markets?  Do they conduct monkey business?

Sounds like what has been going on for the last eight years on Wall Street!  Should that be "Stonewall Street"?

If you have a spat, did you spit?

If you roast a chicken on a spit, is it spat?

If you are roasted, do you get toasted?

If you boast, do you get broasted?

I think I'd be skeered to get seared!

March 12, 2009                                   Valparaiso, IN

Today we walked out to the Catholic Church.  It is about two miles west of our house, out in the country.  On the same parcel of land is the Catholic School and a elder daycare center.

We walked inside and saw the modern stained glass windows that span the front of the worship area.  It was good to see bright reds and blues and golds after the still-drab walk past old brown cornfields and bare trees.

But why is the Catholic Church so far from the center of town?  I associate Catholic Churches with, if anything, the inner city.  I always imagine them as in the center of any community of which they are a part.

I am tempted to think of that as an analogy for the Catholic Church itself these days.  How can any modern spiritual community (as in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil recently) excommunicate the mother of a nine-year old girl impregnated by her father for the act of getting an abortion for the child?  According to some renderings of the story, the child has been excommunicated also.

(The erring (to put it mildly!) father, according to this version, being innocent of the deadly sin of abortion, remains in the church's fold.)

Yeah, maybe the Church is far out.  Way out!  Awesome in its fidelity to the old days and the old ways.

If punishing the innocent for the sins of their fathers is "God's way" God's way is, evidently, the way of the beasts.

The Church, perhaps, belongs in the countryside.  Way on the outside of civilization!

March 11, 2009                                   Valparaiso, IN

What would happen if the media basically stopped coverage of mass killings?  What if it they were reported in bald statements in local news only, and in short declarative sentences buried in newspapers?

What would happen if the visual media stopped the endless interviews, the exposition of endless gory details?  How about if they tried that just for a year as an experiment?

Would so many unhappy, angry people choose to go out in a blaze of glory (or infamy!) if there were no blaze?

Sure, I know that some people are going to go for the destructive route no matter what.  But what about the borderline cases?  I wonder what would happen if for one year the media stopped giving these emotional infants so much attention?

Just for one year?

I wonder....

March 10, 2009                              Valparaiso, IN

I realized the other day while I was talking that talking is how I solve problems and get ideas.  (Writing does the same thing, I've noticed.  Often I get my best ideas after I sit down to write.  It's all about the flow, I guess.)

Of course this is not the first time this idea has occurred to me.  Pity the poor people around when I'm indulging in a brainstorming monologue!  Often I don't even realize there is anything fomenting until (blip!) a new angle, idea, or solution pops out.

Of course, as I have been told on occasion, not all my ideas are any good.  (Actually the comment was even more insulting than that, but I believe in softening such experiences, as part of being easy on myself.)

I may envy those who keep their own counsel, but I cannot become one of them.  Whether that makes me more kinesthetic than auditory or visual, I don't know.

But when it comes to words, let 'em flow, let 'em flow, let 'em flow!

March 9, 2009                            Valparaiso, IN

When I was young I didn't have health insurance and didn't feel irresponsible.  I never went to the hospital, tried to eat well, exercised.

Neither did I feel deprived - much.  I may have been surprised to discover that I didn't have health insurance after I turned twenty-three or so, but it was no big deal.

Now I have no health insurance.  I feel a little more vulnerable, but I don't feel irresponsible (although other people seem to tsk tsk me for not having it).

Health insurance is just too expensive - and stressful.  When I see the fights people have to endure to get their benefits from the health insurance companies, I feel I would rather have enough money to eat, thank you.

Now it turns out that a business that contracted to insure insurance companies didn't have the resources to pay up when their customers needed them.

Talk about hypocrisy!  You need to be insured, but we don't.

The insurance industry can't have it both ways.  Oh, yes they can, I forgot.  They can take money from their clients and the government (us), too!

If I get some traumatic terminal illness, will the government save me?  I can assure them my medical expenses would be in the thousands, not billions of dollars!

And how do you like that average medical cost of $7,000 per year per citizen?  Can we rack up credits for using less than that?  I bet my medical expenses have averaged no more than a tenth of that for my whole life! (If that!)  How about if the government gives us health credits that work kind of like carbon credits, maybe?

Maybe that could be part of the national health care plan!

March 8, 2009                             Valparaiso, IN

There is a pond in the four corners area of our neighbors' and our properties.  Ever since I saw a hawk hanging around this temporary pond last year I look for him when the pond appears.  So far, no hawk.

This morning I saw a squirrel with a big walnut in his mouth acting as I would expect him to act in the fall, looking for a place to bury it.  Maybe squirrels have to relocate their food caches when floods threaten!

Now we have word of a tornado warning.  The basement has already flooded a little and the sump pump has been kicking in.  Not a place I want to hang out for two hours until the tornado threat passes!  To make it worse, there is only one chair.  I wonder if we have enough water-resistant chairs hanging around to store so we can have enough chairs down there for all of us?

I don't ever remember a real tornado hitting Valparaiso.  Maybe we are getting too complacent, but we are only heading downstairs if we have to!


March 7, 2009                                   Valparaiso, IN

What do you think of the "reset" button for Russia?

Funny enough that we used the wrong Russian word.

What is even more funny, to me, is that the object itself looks more like Tom Lehrer's "dangerous knob."

Well, maybe that is a good thing.  When the Russian "well-paid man in charge of the dangerous knob" gets frustrated, he can slap the fake reset button.

"Take that, you idiotic Americans!" he can shout with glee, while he "resets" the relationship or "annihilates" us.

The same verve my mom used to display kneading bread when she was angry with my dad.

"Take that!  And that!"

March 6, 2009                                Valparaiso, IN

What causes the onset of birth?  Does the mother's body say, "Enough already" and start putting out the hormone that induces labor?

Or does the baby get restless and begin the kicking and wave-making that initiates the birthing process?

Is it a complex series of hormonal give and take responses?

I was a forceps baby.  Does that mean I didn't want to go anywhere, thank you, I was quite comfortable where I was?

Or did it mean that no matter how hard I kicked, I couldn't get out until I was rescued?

Do we hang around in life until we are really comfortable, then - wham - get kicked out to the next life stage?

I like to think that our own restless spirit initiates all the changes we go through.  There is something comforting about not getting too comfortable with comfort!

March 5, 2009                                Valparaiso, IN

I've been kind of obsessing about the "tw" combination lately.

Oh, the lack of respect for and the insignificance of "tw!"

"Tw" is the vehicle for many an insult.  "Twit," "twerp," "twee," to be demeaning.  "Twat" to be obscene along with insulting and demeaning.  "Twaddle" has to be worse even than "chatter," and Tweedle-Dee and Tweedle-Dum are silly characters.

"Twist" is used more darkly when describing a character and not a yarn.  A "twisted yarn" does imply more than a pun, I bet, literarily speaking.

I wonder where the word "tweed" comes from.  It seems innocuous enough (I like tweeds) but "weed" is in there.  I'll have to look it up and report back.  And what about twill?

Does "tw" relate to "two" and the idea of inferiority?

Samuel Clemens became famous as Mark Twain.  Did he use the name Twain because his pen name represented a second, alter-self?  Or to be a little self-deprecating and humorous?

"Twilight" has good implications - it is kind of a second (or merely reflected) light.

Research time!  I'll get back to ya!

P.S.  "Tweed" an inaccurate "twill" as it turns out - with some association, it is speculated, to the River Tweed.  Don't know where that name comes from.

Any more "tw" words? Twitter.  More insignificant, shorter, faster than email?

March 4, 2009                                   Valparaiso, IN

When did Octomom cross the line?  You choose:

a) when she voluntarily started working double shifts for monetary gain instead of employers' need, thus setting herself up for injury.  (This is the first possible line I can glean from the past, which is murky.)

b) when she decided to have a child out of wedlock

c)  when she turned to medical science to have a child by implantation

d, e, f, g, h) when she decided to have a second, third, fourth, fifth, sixth child intentionally by implantation

i) when she decided to have a seventh child intentionally by implantation

k) when she deflected some of what must have been a meagre income to give herself cosmetic surgery (sorry, I can't fit this into a chronological position on the list)

l) when she decided to turn down help from an agency that would have given the kids medical and other care in a house big enough for all of them (her and the children) to live in together

m) when she lied about practically everything

n) what are you talking about?  She hasn't crossed the line yet!

o)  it's none of my business.

Well, hell, that's only 13 of the 28 lines possible if you are using an average piece of lined notebook paper!  There are plenty more lines to cross!

Go, Nadya, go!  Compound your mistakes!  Twenty eight is the limit!

After that - you have to turn over a new leaf!

March 3, 2009                                     Valparaiso, IN

We were walking across the railroad track, and my partner said, "This is the Grand Trunk railroad.  I don't know where that came from."

I said, "Why, I've never thought about it!"  Isn't that the way with stuff we first experienced as young children?  A name was just a name.  Things I might wonder about now I just accepted as a child.  It never occurred to me that the name might have a meaning.  After all, what did my name mean?  Me!

Well, of course, later I did begin to wonder about such things.  But not the Grand Trunk.  Today, prompted to think about it, I figured of course a railroad was about as big and grand a trunk as you could possibly imagine!

On the way home we passed a clothing store called La Grande Trunk.  It never before occurred to me that the name was a play on words, named after the railroad which ran within a block of it!

Wouldn't it be helpful if we could be more flexible in our perceptions and more willing to increase our perception of meaning in names and relationships?  How much could we improve and increase our understanding of the world and our appreciation of what is?

March 2, 2009                                   Valparaiso, IN

Who insures the insurers?  We, the people, evidently.  Isn't that a funny outcome?

Another funny thing - Rush Limbaugh trying to be respectable.  Ridiculous!

I tried to watch his speech at the Conservative Political Action Conference, but after a minute or so, I couldn't stand any more.  Worse even than listening to George W. Bush, to whom I haven't listened for years.

I'll never forget the first time I heard Rush Limbaugh.  I was working for an attorney who had a radio talk show on.  It wasn't usually audible from my office, but one day I was doing a mailing on his side of the building and automatically started listening.

I never heard such sexist blather in my life.  I asked my boss, "Why are you listening to this crap?"

He chuckled and said he was doing to it for a laugh.

Maybe, but I still have my doubts.

Another "funny" thing - that the media are shocked that professionals are losing their jobs.  Don't they think engineers are professionals?  They've been having their jobs outsourced for years!  Does it only matter when the people losing jobs are journalists and photographers?

Not to mention that for decades now people have been getting higher educations and have still been unable to get the jobs they worked hard to prepare for!

It's so funny I'm crying.

Oh, and if Rush Limbaugh wins a place of power in the U.S. government, I'm moving to Mexico!  I bet two or three of us could live pretty well down there on the social security I'm supposed to be getting soon.  (Not good for the U.S. economy, but if the financial sector and the G.O.P. don't care, why should I?)

If I ever get social security, that is.  If I don't, won't that be funny?

March 1, 2009                                    Valparaiso, IN

The current economic situation in this country reminds me a little of the American Revolution.  Ben Franklin at one point said, "If we don't hang together, gentlemen, assuredly we will hang separately."

A lot of conservatives (just saw Orman saying it today - by the way, isn't she the one that a few years ago grabbed national attention by sporting a daring platinum spike hairdo?) are saying, "Save your money!"  "Don't spend!"  Hunker down!

That may be short-sightedly good for the individual.  But if our whole economy goes down because we are all hanging around in caves, all us individuals will be hurt.

Save if you must.  But many people have savings and are spending even less than usual.  Many people are rich and are spending less than usual.  Maybe now is the time to indulge in conspicuous consumption if you can afford to.  Live a little more!  Live a little better!  Sacrifice some of your savings for the rest of us! 

I'm spending about the same as I have been because my income is the same.  I certainly am not going to save more now!  Not only I, but the economy needs everything I've got.  (Which isn't much, I admit.)

About saving money - well, I'm not one to talk.  I've never saved money because in my opinion there was never enough money to save.  Spending (according to at least one young and one old male fellow-shopper over the years) my money for "all the expensive stuff" at the grocery store (like grapefruit instead of oranges when I am allergic to oranges - irresponsible me!) has been worth every penny.  We lived well and enjoyed our food at home - cheaper than eating out!  We fed our kids nothing but (expensive) organic foods for years.  (Cheaper than cancer now, I bet!)

(Truth - I do like to eat out, too.  When I have the money, I do it!)

I have been worried about the middle class for years.  It has been diminishing in numbers for a while now.  Don't talk to me about "redistribution of wealth."  We are talking about the survival of the middle class, not its enrichment.  And economists say that a strong economy needs a strong middle class.

Let's go for it - even if some of the upper classes do have to be brought kicking and screaming back into the middle class to get a strong economy.

Poor them.  Let them eat coffee-cake!

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