By: Esther M. Powell
Posted on: Mon, March 01 2010 - 9:28 pm
March 31, 2010 Valparaiso, IN
"I will not serve." I saw that written in The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao. His mother supposedly had that attitude, but I think she worked for a living. At least part of the time!
I had a friend who said that. "I will not serve." He would do stuff if he wanted to, though. So I guess it was not helping out per se that he was set against. What he didn't want to do was anything that he didn't want to do.
When I was growing up nobody was interested in whether I wanted to do something or not. After a while, for most chores in life I didn't care, either. Why waste emotional energy fighting against doing something that had to be done?
Some people seem to go the other way, becoming completely rebellious against doing anything they don't feel like doing.
Of those people, some become rich and famous doing whatever they wanted to do. At least, so I have read in a success story or two.
Others just become famous for not serving.
Or they become famous for serving time, as in "serving time" for doing something that they wanted to do while desperately trying not to serve. Maybe what they wanted to do didn't please the people they did it to.
I admit I've never served time.
I'd much rather serve pizza!
March 30, 2010 Valparaiso, IN
I'm speculating now about why an extreme right group has emerged from the Republican Party - the Tea Party, I'm talking about, which is an appropriate name for these folks. After all, they are in some kind of fantasy land where all present are as looney as the Mad Hatter and the March Hare! (The others are just hanging around in their empty teapots like the Dormouse.)
I'm seeing a parallel here. Just as a thankfully small percentage of the American public has suffered a complete breakdown of humanity as the result of the election of a black President, a portion of the Republican Party has split off from the GOP. A black man at the head of the Republican National Committee? Unthinkable!
If I am right, racism is playing a much larger role in the United States today than any of us who have hope for the entire human race want to believe.
For people who still aren't convinced that in dealing with others humanity trumps varietal description, it must indeed seem like the end of the world.
March 29, 2010 Valparaiso, IN
The be- words continue to beset me. I am befuddled and bedraggled. What is "to fud"? Oh, of course. I remember hearing the word "fuddled." Or am I thinking of "muddled?"
I think I know what "to drag" is, although I certainly don't remember being draggled. Certainly I've never been draggled through the muddle!
I know what being decked is. Is being "bedecked" being an ornament on a deck? I thought it meant ornaments on a person, who is considered bedecked. Maybe someone who was bedecked is bedecked - ornamented with quite a shiner!
If some guy is beleagued, is he on a ball team?
If something doesn't beseem you, doesn't that mean it doesn't suit who you seem to be? Or does it mean it doesn't suit what the other guy thinks you should be? And so, doesn't beseeming seem like not seeming?
Oh, I am confused and bemused!
Does that mean I am a muse or I have a muse? Does it mean that I am amused? Does it mean that a muse is making a fool out of me? I am befooled!
Oh, no! I just realized something. April Fool's day is sneaking up on us.
I'm betimes! It must be the time change.
March 28, 2010 Valparaiso, IN
I was kind of wondering about the be- words, like beloved and besmirched.
They both pretty much mean the same thing as the words without the be-, so I thought maybe the be- was an intensifier.
Without putting very much research into it, I have discovered that be- means just "to be": to be beloved is to be loved. To be besmirched is to be smirched.
Doesn't that make the be- in these words redundant? So how did they evolve?
I suppose I could research it, but I am betired right now. Perhaps, betimes, I might!
Why don't we have more of these be- words in our language? They are kind of poetic. Don't you think it would be softer and more romantic if you could say with a melancholy sigh, "Alas, I have been bedumped!"?
Maybe they are intensifiers of passivity - to be beloved doesn't seem to require much energy, and to have a fate befall you rather than just come about - that seems truly hapless! It may be, behap, that I have stumbled upon something here.
Maybe these were developed for poetic meter: "Gaily bedight, the gallant knight..."
Here I am, ruminating without much illumination, speculating about poetic originations about which I am benighted! (I might go so far as to say I am bewildered, but I don't know what "wildered" used to be! Gone to the wilds?)
I'm absolutely bewitched!
Bewitched by the question, "To be- or not to be-?"
Some long ago would-be poet surely had a be- in his sonnet!
March 27, 2010 Valparaiso, IN
Science fiction and fantasy works seem to have taken off in recent decades. In these there seems to be a lot of fighting between us (humans) and them (some other alien species.)
Video games, too, are popular. A lot of these involve virtual fighting and destruction, in this case between largely non-human avatars.
I wonder if these works of fiction help feed the us vs. them mentality, which in the absence of real life aliens from another planet or non-human avatars, has again made it seem acceptable to take life-and-death stances against, alas, humans. You know, people - like your local abortionist or those of another race than yours. After all, aside from wild animals, humans are the only ones we can cast in the "them" role in everyday life.
Too bad we cannot perceive the us vs. them to-death-shall-we-fight attitude as anachronistic. In modern day life this kind of approach to our fellow beings is really highly inappropriate.
Habits of mind absolutely can affect our actions. More anarchy is not what we need. The order we already have and struggle mightily to maintain seems all too illusory at times!
March 26, 2010 Valparaiso, IN
Comment on a comment on yahoo. Oh, high school jocks were more "litterate," all right. Beer cans all over the place.
Comment on Osama bin Laden: Osama been bad'un!
I wonder what his mother thinks? (In looking for this, I stumbled upon an article in www.theonion.com which is hysterical.) Not, perhaps, enlightening with respect to how Osama's mom feels, but very funny.
Sarah Palin is Sarah Bailin'.
Communication among dogs: peemail!
That last is a contribution from my partner, who thinks up lots of funny punny stuff.
It is still early in the day. As the world jostles my humorous bone (and my memories of yesterday's jests), I'll add 'em on.
March 25, 2010 Valparaiso, IN
The Senate is having a nervous breakdown, evidently.
The world is changing too fast for the evidently iron-clad value systems of the good old boys, and the quicker, stronger, lither more emotionally vulnerable model of being is something they just cannot assimilate.
It happened to me once as an individual, but I had to learn that maybe changing a little (a lot?) was preferable to shutting down entirely.
These Senators who have stopped business (if you haven't heard about it yet, watch the news) obviously haven't learned this. They would rather waste taxpayers' money by the bucketload (wasted tickets from Korea and Hawaii for people who were going to testify before now-shut-down committee hearings, for example) than deal with the reality before them in a constructive way.
What are they trying to do? Get their constituents to fire them? This isn't an automobile workers' strike, which would affect a segment of the society. This is a governing body refusing to conduct affairs of state!
What are we going to have to do? Start electing alternates to step in when the petulant schoolboys refuse to do their jobs?
Why is it that the party who is always saying we can't afford to do good things, always seems willing and able to spend money in destructive ways like the Iraq war and expensive power plays?
I'm shaking my head in disbelief. What will they think of next?
March 24, 2010 Valparaiso, IN
How universal does a work of art have to be? (Or an attempted work of art have to aim for?)
I read a poem about being glad winter is over to my daughter and she said with a self-deprecating chuckle, "Except for skiers." Needless to say, she was absolutely right, but I let my poem stand. I figure near universal is okay.
But lying in bed this morning, I thought of a new final line to accomodate the winter-lovers - at least some of them.
So I wrote a revision that turned out comic.
Well, that's all right, too!
Anyway, the fact that I've gotten two poems out of one shows why it is a good thing to share your work - if you can call it that!
My poems, Blaster Blasted and Revision 1 are in my article Poetry Then and Now (Dos) which can be found by scrolling down the list you get on the right when you hit More... on my menu.
Of course I have an ulterior motive. Some people have expressed confusion about navigating my site. Hopefully this has gotten your curiosity up and given you incentive to set sail! And for those of you who are curious about how poetry is rewritten and edited, well there you are: an example.
(Even if it is just attempted poetry, thankfully not a crime punishable by imprisonment!)
March 23, 2010 Valparaiso, IN
I read recently that AIG is planning to pay off a good deal of what we gave the company in the bailout - hundreds of billions of dollars, but that the American taxpayer might have to "eat" 12 billion (the low number in the estimate) of the AIG bailout. We might not ever get it back.
People who owe a measley $10,000 (this is not measley money to me, just compared to $12 billion) are pursued by the IRS for their delinquent taxes. Perhaps this will not be able to continue. How can the IRS pursue even a $100,000 tax bill if AIG owes 12 billion?
I have a suggestion. Call off the pursuit of petty offenders by the IRS, and put those employees to work regulating the financial community. It seems that might be a better way to spend our money!
I'm not advocating failing to monitor income from taxes at all. I know that isn't practical. But can't the IRS use computer programs to flag unusual or suspicious patterns in tax payments?
Make AIG pay off every penny. Put them on relatively small annual payments, if necessary, the way the IRS does the individual taxpayer.
Oh, and how about some interest? Paid in full before the principle starts to diminish?
I've always paid my federal taxes, so I'm not angry or disgruntled at being hounded for money I owed.
I'm just an objective observer, and from where I stand, AIG's and all those other financial bailouts should be paid off in full.
Better a slow, tardy trickle than a full stop in payments.
Come to think of it, for a long time I have been meaning to start paying the Santa Fe, New Mexico indigent fund for a hospital bill incurred by my (at that time minor) daughter.
Maybe I'll start now. Follow my example, AIG! If I can do it, so can you!
March 22, 2010 Valparaiso, IN
A health bill at last!
My sister and I were tssk-tssking yesterday about all the people who want to keep the programs that protect them, but don't want them expanded to cover anyone else, calling similar new programs "socialist."
Have you noticed how many Medicare-covered gray-heads were protesting against this health insurance bill?
Reminds me of my family member who said, "Too many kids is one more than you already have. You love the ones you have, but you don't want any more."
Anti-abortionists, take note: the position of people in this society who don't have health care and want it is similar to that of an unborn baby whose parents don't want another child and might be tempted to consider abortion.
Being anti- this bill is like being pro-abortion.
Whose side are you on? Pro-life?
Well, have this baby!
March 21, 2010 Valparaiso, IN
Is haggling a sport to you?
I hate haggling. Obviously some people love it. Senor Slim, now the richest man in the world, I read, recently spent two hours trying to get the price of a necktie down to $10.00.
Maybe Senor Slim enjoyed the contest, but it's hard to believe the salesman did. How do you risk offending a customer with billions to spend? On the other hand, how can you afford to let him save a few bucks (euros) at your expense?
Isn't that like arm wrestling an Easter bunny? Or a newly hatched chicken? Maybe some people think that is funny or praiseworthy, but isn't it just plain mean?
When I visited Mexico many years ago, I was told that vendors despise people who don't haggle. Okay with me! I could afford not to haggle and I didn't want to spend my time that way. Let them despise me. They need the money and I'm just passing through anyway!
Senor Slim, usted no debe estar tan pinche!
And pardon my probably inaccurate Spanish, but don't correct me! The contest would be too unequal. I'd end up with a broken little pigeon-Spanish wing!
March 20, 2010 Valparaiso, IN
I'm a protester. I protest clouds!
I protest clouds on the last day of winter!
Turn the page, winter!
It is Spring's turn! I want to burn in the sun's turning!
I protest lawns' dog-poo litter remains from winter!
Use your pooper-scoopers, dog owners!
My robin has moved away. I protest!
So what if the neighborhood (my yard) has been going downhill for years: fewer shrubs, smelly oil-spills in the avenue!
I can hear your song coming from across the street!
Come back! Come back! We even saved your nest!
I confess. I protest!
March 19, 2010 Valparaiso, IN
I was first made aware of sexual abuse in the Boy Scouts by a man who questioned me: Have you ever noticed how many of the guys up in towers shooting people were Eagle Scouts?
Well, no. I hadn't noticed. Since then I have heard more about The Boy Scouts of America and the sexual abuse of boys.
It isn't really the organization's fault that it happens, just as it isn't the Catholic Church's fault that abuse happens. If the opportunity is created for adults to get together with children, some abuse will occur.
When the organizations try to cover up the abuse, then they become responsible by a power of - well, how many children can one person abuse? Hundreds.
If you consider that most abusers were themselves abused, and that a certain percentage of the next generation (so to speak) will go on to abuse multiple children, the rise of abuse will be exponential.
The havoc wreaked upon the life of a person sexually abused in his or her youth cannot be overestimated in your imagination. Most people have no concept of it.
What society has to realize is that this crime is next to murder. It is worse than taking 100 people's life savings. It is worse than rape of an adult, even. It creates severe, personal, and effectively permanent damage.
The penalties for child molestation should physically keep the child molester off the streets for decades, not months.
I would love to say life imprisonment, because God's priests (and the Boy Scouts) know that many a grandfather is still capable of molesting his own grandchildren.
Life imprisonment for this heinous (not too powerful a word) crime I cannot hope for. But a few months in prison is a slap on the wrist for a crime more serious than most people realize.
I would rather have worked hard, saved all my life, and lost my entire life's savings than have been molested as a child.
I only express it this way to put the crimes into perspective. Neither of those things should happen to anyone.
March 18, 2010 Valparaiso, IN
I know I don't text, sex- or otherwise. I am so far from twittering I might as well be a condor.
I haven't even emailed lately. Is there such a thing as personal email? It is as rare (okay almost as rare) in my inbox as personal snail mail is in my mailbox. In fact, I have noticed that I (and therefore probably many other people) am far more faithful in checking my snail mailbox than I am in logging onto my email accounts. (Especially that old one which has been too accessible to too many commercial and political sellers for far too long. I'm lucky if I check that one twice a month!)
It is always a good sign when you don't call me on your cell phone for a long time. It means that you are having a lot of fun and/or are out of reach of the signals.
Unless, of course it's a very bad sign that you are depressed.
I'm looking forward to the development of mental telepathy. That way I can hack my way into your minds and find out what kind of mood you are in and your latest change of address so I can send you your birthday stuff on time.
I'm sure telepathy is just a trick of mind. I won't need to know how these relatively simple technological gadgets work and I won't have to remember an especially clever password that is as easy to access as that important paper I last tucked into a special hiding place.
All I have to do is zone into the right spiritual wavelength and kazoom! I will know everything I need to know.
The only problem is, you probably have to die to access that particular wavelength, and if I am spiritually evolved enough I won't need to know all the stuff I needed to know while I was still alive.
For what will I need your address, then? I'm a good mom - I don't intend to haunt you!
P.S. (Don't worry, I know. I can get a lot of information on the Internet. I know, I know! What are you trying to do - spoil my rant?)
March 17, 2010 Valparaiso, IN
Ah, Wikipedia! I put a link to it in my blahg yesterday, but failed to mention its possible fallibility.
This is the People's encyclopedia, and anyone can edit the articles.
After we saw Alice in Wonderland in 3D and I was reminded that Lewis Carroll was a pseudonym we looked it up in Wikipedia and read that one Ben Cook was the author's real name.
This definitely did not ring a bell. Cook is one of my family names, and surely I would remember if the author of Alice in Wonderland was a Cook! The author of Alice in Wonderland was a Dodgson, as many people know without resorting to "authorities." (Perhaps one of the actor Ben Cook's prankster friends made this false entry.)
So beware the jabberwock, my friends! Wikipedia may be a first source of information, but it should not be the last!
Maybe the people have the right to determine the meaning of words, and maybe all of us will have to start boning up on our vocabularies before breakfast every morning in order to speak the people's language, but the people messing about with the truth about the natural sciences and history could have disastrous consequences.
I myself am not an avid lover of hierarchy, but if the people start advocating running like lemmings to the seashore to party while viewing the next tsunami, you can count me out!
March 16, 2010 Valparaiso, IN
I am like one of Konrad Lorenz's geese. The place in the house (yes, in the house! as I remember it) where she got fed changed, but it took her a while to adjust. Every day she would head first to the stairs, then veer off to her new breakfast location. Gradually her detour was reduced until she took the shortest possible route.
I am that way about the Internet. If I need information my first impulse is still toward telephone, library, book. Only if I am already sitting at the computer is it my first research impulse. I'm usually not only veering towards the stairs, I'm going halfway up the flight!
Now, of course, I know that the Internet is likely to be the fastest way to find out what I want to know about any given subject. I still like books to get overviews and factual frameworks, but the Internet is quick quick quick for essential nuggets of research.
My favorite thing about the Internet, though, is the way you find out about things you never thought to think about!
One of my favorite pastimes is looking up cities from which I get hits. (I know, I know, a symptom of my failure to get very many.)
It has turned out to be very rewarding, though. Did you know that Uitgeest, Netherlands was the birthplace of the man who invented the first wind-driven sawmill? A question I never thought to ask, but discovered by Googling Uitgeest, Netherlands! www.Wikipedia.com
Another city that hit on me (my, I sound like a wild one - whole cities hit on me - whoopee!) yesterday is Stavanger, Norway. As it turns out, Stavanger is Norway's oil capital. Who would have ever thunk, let alone known!
After five years writing on my website, I have a new ambition. Visit every city that has even one citizen log onto my website! What fun! It would take a lifetime, but I can't imagine a more interesting ambition for my last decades!
Of course, by visiting the Internet I'm sure I will be exposed to more possibilities than I have imagined so far.
March 15, 2010 Valparaiso, IN
The March Hare has transferred by some alchemy in my mind to March Hair.
I just realized I may have the longest hair I have seen lately in Valparaiso, Indiana.
There are lots of old hippies in Corvallis, Oregon. Men and women with long gray hair are not unknown there. Even people who no one would call hippies often have long hair. It is not an uncommon look.
In Santa Fe, New Mexico I have seen Asians who could sit on their hair, and one beautiful Native American woman I saw in the Bureau of Motor Vehicles (or whatever it is called in Santa Fe - I forget) contained her lengthy locks by tucking them in her right-hand jeans pocket.
Here in Valpo, though, I see very little hair on men or women. Hair in Valpo, I see very little hare...
Uh-oh. It looks as if the March Hare has returned!
March 14, 2010 Valparaiso, IN
It is kind of difficult to avoid coming to the conclusion that the Biblical literalists are intellectually lazy.
I've known Christians who had a lazy attitude toward morality: just do what the Bible says and you don't have to worry about it. I guess they mean the ten commandments. But even those are subject to interpretation! By thinking people, anyway.
It's hard to imagine a life in which one never has ethical dilemmas. I have trouble believing that even the ten commandments can save you from experiencing any of those.
But refusing to learn any science in depth; refusing to believe anything discovered by scientists even if you are too lazy or disinterested to pursue scientific knowledge yourself; just dismissing everything that is not in the Biblical understanding of the world and the history of man - now that is something I just cannot fathom.
Maybe I'm a little lazy myself. The only way I can believe in such a desire to live in denial of the real world is to think that these people are either stupid or intellectually lazy.
I like to give them the benefit of the doubt.
I believe they are too lazy to study science, so they believe what they want to believe: that science can be discounted from having any relevance to a Christian life.
March 13, 2010 Valparaiso, IN
Well, I'll be! Do you know the difference between "farther" and "further?" I thought they were more or less interchangeable - different spellings based on different dialects, perhaps.
Nope! It turns out that "farther" refers to distance while "further" refers to time.
Who would have thunk it?
You, maybe? Do most of you out there know that?
How about the difference between presume and assume? I read that assume is theoretical and hypothetical while presume is supposed to be based on some kind of evidence. I also read there is "a faint suggestion of presumptiousness" about presuming. www.askoxford.com Does it follow that someone making an assumption is being assumptious?
Since sumptious is luxurious, is assumptious ascetic? Works for me!
If assuming is theoretical and presuming is presumptious, wouldn't presuming be more likely to make an ass of you and me than assuming is?
Or is assuming kind of like adorning or donning? I clothe myself in my assininity.
Nothing could be further from my mind. Er, I mean, farther. Or, then again, if I'm talking about making an assumption, that would be in time, wouldn't it? So it would be further. But not by much, maybe.
Now I'm getting really confused. I keep thinking about fur.
I sure hope it's not fur of ass!
Oops! Now that sounds obscene! Please don't make any obsumptions!
March 12, 2010 Valparaiso, IN
Haiti's loss of so many future nurses and up-and-coming young professionals underscores something I have been meaning to write anyway.
Little countries - consider joining big countries!
Little countries - consider banding together to become bigger countries!
I was thinking about Jefferson's vision of one United States that would stretch from one ocean to the other and how prescient that was.
I'm not failing to consider the decimation of the native Americans that happened during those times. That was horrible and inexcusable. But if there had been two European powers plus one United States here it probably would have been worse for everyone.
Can you imagine mid-America a constantly fluctuating, tense border? It has been bad enough between the states at times!
What was the history Jefferson was probably trying to avoid repeating? Stuff like the 100 years' war. And all the fighting between teeny countries. Look where World Wars I and II originated.
Not to mention the different consequences of natural disasters in countries of of different sizes. When New Orleans flooded, it was a tragedy, but at least the citizens had a huge country to find refuge in and huge resources to help heal it.
What can the people of poor Haiti do? They either stay and stew, or they get out - all the way out to some place like the U.S.
If Haiti had been one of the United States, or a true equal state of France (like, say Hawaii) instead of a slave state still buying its freedom, it would be in better shape than it is now, I bet. Its buildings would have been more earthquake-proof, and more of its young professionals would be alive today.
If the Middle East would band together into one big country, how much more prosperous could it be?
Tribal loyalties and sectarian enmities are the biggest pitfalls of the Middle East and other parts of the world comprised of little countries. If people with more in common than they realize would band together, they and their descendants could have better lives.
March 10, 2010 Valparaiso, IN
Homeland security has really gone wild when it comes to domestic IDs. As far as I can tell, the only people who will be able to come up easily with all the identification they need to get a driver's license or a duplicate social security card are those who have fake ones.
How much ID does it take, for example, to get a life insurance policy? And yet a life insurance policy is something that would help you get a duplicate social security card. Part of the original documentation with the social security number and a statement of lifetime taxes from the Social Security Administration mailed to your current address is not good enough!
A few years back a friend of mine had to get her citizenship (after living here for fifty years - since she was five!) in order to get her driver's license.
The young'uns probably don't realize what a trial these bureaucratic hoops are to those of us who used to just walk into the BMV and get a driver's license! (Well, with the three tests - written and driving and vision.)
Put a ball and chain on them while they are young and they just get used to it!
Ah, the courage and adaptability of the young!
March 9, 2010 Valparaiso, IN
Damned if I do, and damned if I don't, seems like:
If I wish my mom a long and happy life, she thinks it is because I want my present circumstance. If I disclaim that as one of my major concerns, she thinks I want her to die so I can get my inheritance. If I threaten to strangle her, she thinks I want her dead. (Ha, ha. That is a joke. I don't threaten to strangle her, although she did threaten to strangle us as children. (That was a joke, too, of course. She comically pantomimed wringing our necks.))
If I don't check on my mom when she sleeps late, I'm concerned she will think I don't care about her condition. (Admittedly, this is my hang-up/possible projection, although not unreasonable on my part.) If I do check on her, she thinks I'm hoping she has died and acts like, "Nyah, nyah, I'm still here!"
If my partner and I hang around, we are underfoot. If we leave, Mom often asks, "Again?" as if we were gad-abouts. (I might plead guilty to that impulse; my partner certainly will not.)
What do I expect? Just, after over five years living in my mother's house, to put a vent or two in the roof so that all the collective steam gathering in here doesn't blow it off.
Hopefully, my ventilation (heh, heh) will help provide catharsis for those in my position who are much more tolerant and/or reticent about airing their elderly parents' dirty Depends.
The only thing I can say in my defense is that I could have written something every day for the last five years about my mother. Lucky for you I haven't! All your hair would have been blown off by the wind!
March 8, 2010 Valparaiso, IN
The temperature hit 50 degrees F this afternoon. We saw more spring flowers - snowdrops - on the way home from the library.
Today at noon we saw Alice in Wonderland in 3D. It made me feel as if I were five years old and in the theatre for the first time. I hope I never get jaded about this new 3D technology!
We took my 91-year-old mom along and she said she enjoyed the movie, but I don't know if she was that impressed. Does her almost-blindness in one eye lessen the 3D effect? Or did she go to sleep during the movie?
After we got home my mom seemed kind of down. I don't know if she was depressed or exhausted.
I can understand people facing death getting depressed by something like this fabulous 3D. Look at all the exciting change and development that has happened since my mother was born! It is a never ending story, and I admit leaving the world will feel like leaving a party at the height of the festivities.
If I can follow in my mother's footsteps, though, it looks like I have another thirty years or so to play with. Who knows what a movie will look like in 2030?
March 7, 2010 Valparaiso, IN
I wish our grade school educations were better. It wasn't until I got to college that I realized how much there was out there to learn. Well, actually, that is not correct either. I may have realized it, but I had no clue.
Still don't, but at least I have a clue that I don't have a clue.
That is why it saddens me (movie-lover that I am) that so many people stay on the superhighway of popular American culture. Many are not only on this multi-laned path, they are obsessed with it. Maybe not clinically or emotionally; more like they do not know anything else in the world has any importance or even exists!
Realize this, and remember this: however much you learn about a subject, there is more to learn. And learning almost anything about our culture, someone else's culture, the natural world around us, mathematics - almost anything - is more useful and important to most of the rest of us than learning more about an entertainment star's life, marriages, and taste in toothpaste.
Thus endeth my Sunday sermon.
Oh, and I read lately that most of the young spend most of their time with electronic gadgets.
Put them down, young'uns. Go outside and howl at the moon. Or go outside and watch a weird bug that you've never seen before. Learn how to mentally map out your city.
Virtual is not as heady as real. Believe me.
And if you don't believe me, go outside and prove me wrong.
Go ahead! I dare you!
March 6, 2010 Valparaiso, IN
Funny how things work. It used to be that a hamburger was ordinary, if not routine. (In fact, one boyfriend of mine used to like White Castle Burgers, which I considered about the size and taste of one of the squares a rook would sit on - you know who you are!) I was perfectly happy in those days to eat a burger.
Now I know they are not supposed to be good for you (understatement?) we almost never touch the stuff. Consequently a gourmet hamburger has become a rare treat that is a special meal for a birthday.
But still no McDonald's. Never McDonald's.
(In keeping with bad publicity being better than no publicity, I can imagine someone reading this and thinking, "Oh, yeah, McDonald's. Hmmm, come to think of it, I could enjoy one of those right now...")
Growl, gnash gnash gnash.
March 5, 2010 Valparaiso, IN
How hard could it be, taking care of a "so sweet" little 91-year-old woman?
I would compare it to taking care of three kids.
Think about it - she would weigh about as much as three children.
Her laundry would probably about equal theirs in bulk.
Helping her bathe takes easily as long as giving three kids a bath, although admittedly it doesn't happen as often.
Getting cooperation is not so easy. If a kid doesn't want to do something, if worse comes to worse you can pick her up and carry her to the desired site.
Not so Grandma!
Well, I'm not entirely serious, of course.
But think about it.
Lots of doctor and dental visits...
Food and clothes shopping -
One 91-year-old equals three kids.
March 4, 2010 Valparaiso, IN
What is going on in the morning when the kids are waiting for the school bus?
This morning the black kids were on one corner (actually, truth be told, two different corners - sibling quarrel?) A white kid and her mom were on another corner, and a Hispanic family was waiting on the fourth corner - cattycorner from the bus stop.
Obviously the neighborhood is changing. Older people are dying off and/or selling their homes; younger people with children are moving in. When I first came five years ago I don't remember a bus stopping at this corner at all.
But why don't all these children wait on the same corner for the same bus? That's what I'm used to seeing a block south of here, even though the teens there don't always act like the best of friends.
Maybe nothing is happening on the corner observable from our window. Maybe there is no racial fear or nervousness or prejudice keeping these kids apart.
Maybe they are just shy.
I'll keep watching and let you know my conclusions about my mini sociological study!
In the meantime, I'm happy to report our first sighting of the first flowers of our Spring - two intensely orange diminutive crocuses! Siblings!
March 3, 2010 Valparaiso, IN
Much has been made in recent years about making money by just shoving papers around. Clever stockmarket ploys, currency trading, trading in futures, mortgage bundling and similar transactions have been supporting many people in high style for years. They have certainly seemed legitimate in everybody's eyes.
But what if they are really no more than fancy forms of pyramid and ponzi schemes? What if, beyond a certain number of transactions necessary for business, all these ways of making money are ultimately card houses built with sleight of hand card tricks?
If that is true, then the fall was inevitable, no matter how righteous the participants felt about their role in our economy. In the end, food and clothes and housing are the real material wealth, and we know who create this wealth.
March 2, 2010 Valparaiso, IN
The world is divided into two groups of people: those who don't mind speaking and being spoken to through bathroom doors, and those who do.
It is as if some people take Jesus' admonition to pray alone in the closet as meaning watercloset rituals.
I was taught to observe my poop and, as much as possible, my privacy, but I never felt that my isolation in the bathroom was some kind of holy rite which necessitated sacred silence.
Heaven help me if I ever have a heart attack in a bathroom. My strange gurgling noises would probably be interpreted by outsiders (those outside) as me speaking in Pentecostal tongues.
I don't want to die in a bathroom. Please! If you hear me making weird noises, don't assume I'm talking through my ass. (Although my partner assures me my conversation would be Charmin!)
Gotta go! (er, I mean, leave.) I'm wiped!
March 1, 2010 Valparaiso, IN
It seems just as dark as ever outside. The ground is just as snowy, and I'm just as sick. I have been flattened by this winter as never before (well, not my stomach) and I'm still out for the count.
But I saw the sun peeping out from the far end of the five-day forecast this afternoon, and this morning I could have sworn I heard the gabble of cranes from beyond the clouds.
The earth moved off its axis by three inches during the Chilean earthquake; maybe that is what it took to make the health care bill have a chance at passage. That is news to revive us to consciousness!
Even my mother is talking about spending part of next winter in the South.
Wow, the earth must have moved three inches off its axis.
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