Friday, February 29, 2008

The Problem of Suffering

I have been thinking about this topic for awhile, and have planned to do a post on it. The thoughts just keep rolling around in my head, and I have not been zapped with any burst of insight on the subject.

But, last evening, just as my husband arrived home from an evening meeting (half-way across our state), he was greeted by our dog. . .who had thrown up her dinner in the entrance way to our house. Then, she proceeded to go out to our sun porch and repeat the process. So, I had two big messes to clean up. Since my husband was tired, I told him to go ahead to get some rest while I cleaned up. After I was done, I tried to help settle the dog down in some comfortable place. Since she likes to sleep on a couch, I tried to get her up on the couch. In picking her up, I obviously hit some tender spot, because she yelped. I felt awful--and I kept wishing that she could vocalize and tell me how I could help her. She was suffering.

Animals clearly experience suffering. One of the essays I have my students read is about animal rights--and, one of the arguments made there is that since animals feel pain, they should not be purposefully subjected to procedures that intentionally cause them pain, e.g. experimentation. It is always interesting to listen to the students discuss this issue, as they struggle to establish some rational balance--some things we do will cause animals pain, but there is a utilitarian end that helps justify the pain.

What about the suffering that the human animal experiences? I recently heard Terry Gross interview Bart Ehrman. Ehrman has just published a new book entitled God's Problem: How the Bible Fails to Answer Our Most Important Question--Why We Suffer. He has wrestled with this question which is one of the oldest facing any religion. It goes like this: if God is all-powerful and loving, why is there pain and suffering in the world?

I listened to the interview with fascination, because as I thought of some of the classic answers to this question, Ehrman would knock them down. For example, one of the answers is that suffering is the consequence of choices we make, and that it is a necessary component of our having free will. Ehrman says--fine, if you make the choice that causes your suffering, but what if the one suffering is an innocent bystander. One by one, he knocks down these various reasons as to why there is suffering. Well, I will just have to get the book and ponder his reasoning.

Then, almost as a companion to hearing that interview, my daughter proposed that I get and read a book with her--one that she would be discussing in one of her grad school classes: Susan Sontag's Regarding the Pain of Others. In fairness, Sontag is not looking at the problem of suffering. She examines photography and art that depicts pain and then looks at how we respond to such works. She argues variously that some photos make pain real to us, but that they can also inure us to pain.

A final ingredient in my mix of pondering is a movie we saw last year: Zwartboek (or Black Book). Now technically, this movie isn't just about suffering. The plot revolves around the Dutch resistance during World War II and a young Jewish woman who agrees to become the lover of a Nazi military leader. True--many people in the movie do suffer and experience pain. What fascinated me, though, was the question about what people are willing to do to help alleviate the suffering of others--Rachel, the heroine of the story, agrees to become the Nazi leader's lover because for her, the end justifies the means. Her actions are self-sacrificing, but they can also be seen as questionable at times.

It's a bit of a stretch--putting this movie along side the two books which are distinctly on suffering. In some ways, for me the problem of suffering gets wrapped up with the problem of evil. There does seem to be a connection--at least, sometimes evil causes suffering. I suspect Ehrman probably rejects that explanation--I will have to see when I read his work.

Enough of this amorphous thought process--for now, the dog is on the mend; my brain is in a whirl (per usual) and the computer is working, albeit not as a laptop but as a desktop tethered to an external screen. Maybe that's why I am musing about the problem of suffering.

Wednesday, February 27, 2008


Over the past several months, I have noticed that the monitor on my laptop seems to be red when I first turn the computer on. Then it slowly "fades" into view. And finally is completely bright--a nice cheery LCD monitor.

Well, a couple of days ago, after I undocked it, the screen suddenly went black. PANIC. So I re-docked it, and the LCD shone as brightly as ever.

Then, yesterday, I took the laptop to a meeting, opened and turned it on. . .and it slowly faded to black.

Brought it back home, docked it and it was fine. It seemed to be when I closed it, while undocked, and reopened it, was when the problem occurred.

Well, last night, the LCD screen faded to black and stayed. . .that. . .way.

GASP. Air, I need air. Stand back. H-E-L-P!

Well, that woke me up early, and now am using my husband's computer that will soon be going to work with him.

Next steps? Stay tuned.
My husband went shopping, first on the Internet, then to a store that sells office supplies. There he purchased an external monitor, which I set up this afternoon, so I am now back on the Internet. The next step will be to call the manufacturer of my laptop--the replacement for IBM--and see what it would take to fix it, and where it needs to go to be fixed.

Sunday, February 24, 2008

All the News that's Fit to Read

There are really so many things that irritate me when I watch the local news on television that singling one aspect out seems hardly worth the bother.

For example, I am annoyed at the story choices--what leads on the evening news. Never mind the state of the world--our local news invariably chooses the most inane stories as leads. There is even a cycle to this inanity--every year, Groundhog Day (just past) gets top billing. I am so tired of the d*mn groundhog that I feel like hunting down and killing the critter. Oops--careful, control yourself. Or in January, the farm show. And the Farm Show weather. Local legend has it that Farm Show weather is always icy and snowy. Except it isn't. So if it snows that week--well, it's always icy and snowy. But if it doesn't--where's the snow and ice? See?--an endless round of news. On and on it goes.

Then there's the breaking news syndrome--a fire somewhere in our nearby city trumps almost any other story. Breaking news has a close cousin in the exclusive report.

I am always flabbergasted when a news report begins with these words: "We bring you this exclusive report"--the implication being that this channel is the ONLY one to know about and cover this news.

Eh? If it's exclusive--i.e. no one else is covering it--is it really news? Try these headlines--


--Pearl Harbor Bombed

--Tsunami Hits Indonesia

--Planes Fly into World Trade Center

--Princess Di Killed in Paris Crash

You get the picture--if it's news, EVERYONE covers it.

Another tendency--salacious video. We've all seen helicopter coverage of police chases in Los Angeles--hello! this is central Pennsylvania. Why on the earth would we want to see L.A. police chases on our LOCAL news? Or grim murders from somewhere in Nevada? It's almost the equivalent of "aliens captured me" stories or "two-headed calf born" stories that grace the pages of National Enquirer. Our local television news now shills the same kind of trash that the newspaper rags feature.

I've already ranted about local weather forecasters--any time the temperature rises to abnormal levels in the winter, they laud it! They inveigh against cold of any kind. As a cold weather lover, I am driven nuts by this tendency. And I have a sneaking suspicion that such coverage of the weather contributes to our human inertia in face of global warming--why do anything, we ask, we like it warm. Way over-simplified, of course (but, hey, it's my blog).

Oh, and who can ignore the constant tease approach. "Coming up. . .a dog adopts a duck. Where this happened and what people are saying about it." At each news break interval, the same promo. Finally, 5 minutes before the end of the news, a 30 second video clip of a "cute" story. That's it. So, you get 3 minutes of promotional tease for a 30 second nonsense story.

I almost forget--the comments from the person on the street. Some national tragedy may be reported, but it can't possibly be authentic until you get a comment from Joe Schmoe. Now, I don't know Joe. I have no idea what he knows. I don't know if he is interested in the news, if he reads to inform himself, if he has any of the same values that I might have--but, hey, I know what he thinks about this important story. Far too often, it seems to me, Joe Schmoe appears to have gone no further in schooling than 3rd grade. He forgot to shave this morning (how was he to know he would be on local news). And, to top everything off, his fly is unzipped. OK--I made up the part about his fly.

So what's left to complain about where local news is concerned? Well, I'll tell you--pronunciation.

Any local newscaster should be required to have a crash course in pronouncing place names. Of course, every area has its local peculiarities. I live in central Pennsylvania so we have some words with odd pronunciation. In our town we have a street named Muench. You might think--well, that looks like MUNCH, and you would be wrong. It is pronounced MINNICK.

A local creek is named Swatara--derivative of an American Indian name. The emphasis is on the second syllable--SwaTARa. But some newbies on local news have said--SWAtara. Or worse. A nearby town is Carlisle. Now, the only way that sounds right to me is to say CarLISLE. Emphasis on the second syllable. But many local announcers have taken to saying CARlisle. Can't figure out why.

Then there are "regular" words. The other night, a newscaster said something about having to repeat something. Only he said REpeat. Huh? I say rePEAT.

It has gotten so I spend so much time "correcting" these peculiar pronunciations that I end up not really listening to the news.

Maybe that's why I prefer print news. No mispronunciations there!

Friday, February 22, 2008

In Praise of Patient Sons

When my husband and I made our quick trip to western PA last weekend, we stayed overnight (on very short notice) with our son.

While my husband went to the viewing, I sat down with my laptop to do some editing with Photoshop on some of the old slides I had scanned. For whatever reasons--old film, the actual color tendency of the slides when taken, too much light, too little light--some of the slides don't have the "trueness" of color and lighting that my current photos do.

So I was fiddling around, trying to adjust some of these photos when my son sat down next to me. Now, perhaps it helps to know that he is a "Senior Software Engineer" (I think I got that right) in his employment. So, I was not surprised that he knew more than I where computers and programs are concerned. What did surprise me (a bit) was that Photoshop was one of the programs he has mastered. He might not claim mastery--but, trust me, compared to my knowledge, he has mastered it.

We were trying to adjust this photo. First day home for our daughter--this photo was taken on a brilliant sunshiny fall day--the sun was streaming in the window, so when the men in my life sat down with the new little girl in my life, I closed the drapes. The result? Their faces are in the dark, and light keeps on streaming in the window. And the overall cast of the photo was yellow.

So, my son began tinkering with Photoshop--showing me new tricks all along the way. We used layers (didn't know how to do that); we used the magic tool wand, selecting portions of the photo; we used increasing and decreasing color.

Here's where the patience part comes in--the trick to doing any of this successfully is to do a little, check it, keep it or not, then do a little bit more. Back and forth, back and forth. This tedious but productive process is something that my son excels at. It's part of what makes him a good "computer" guy.

And I do understand his approach--it is very akin to my approach in editing this blog, for example. I want the font just so. I want the spacing just right. And I want the photo placements just here. So I go back and forth. I probably edit EACH blog I write three or four times at a minimum. And if I find a spelling or grammatical mistake--oh, oh. Must. . . fix. . . it. . . now. (It is this insistence on presenting a document perfectly that I apply to my students' papers, and as a result drive them crazy.)

But I am most grateful for the Photoshop lesson--after all, I have several more boxes (that's right--BOXES) of slides to go in the basement.

Tuesday, February 19, 2008

Teddy on the turnpike

This past weekend, my husband and I made an unplanned trip to western Pennsylvania. A work colleague of my husband’s had died suddenly, and my husband wanted to be present at the viewing and attend the funeral.

So we drove west on Sunday, stayed overnight then returned home on Monday. During the portion of the trip that it was my turn to drive, I was merrily flying along that great original superhighway, the Pennsylvania Turnpike. Since it is such an old road, most places the four lanes are right side-by-side. To keep traffic safe (and separate), the turnpike is lined with jersey walls—those concrete dividers. I hate them because they give you a claustrophobic feeling when you are in the left lane. Add to that the fact that small animals run to the center of the road and then get trapped—well, you get the picture.

So, as I was driving along, I scanned the roadway, and suddenly saw an abandoned teddy bear*. Who deposited it there? Was it inadvertently dropped out the window by a toddler, who didn’t know that was the last she would see of Teddy? Or did a malicious sibling dangle it out the window, taunting a brother or sister, only to lose the grip on Teddy who fell to the road? Who knows?

But it did remind me of a long ago childhood trauma. Like most children, I had a favorite stuffed toy—really a kind of floppy doll. I carried it everywhere. It is even immortalized in this photo where its stuffing was coming out. I am sure my mother (or one of the wonderful missionary women I called “aunties”) stitched it back together.

I have no recall of any name I might have given this doll. But I do know its fate. I lost it. And I even know where I lost it—on one of the trains in Africa. We were going on a family trip—probably for a vacation. We went several times to South Africa, visiting Cape Town or Durban. And the best means of transportation was by rail. The old-fashioned style trains had separate compartments; our family of (then) four would occupy a compartment with seats facing each other. The seats converted into one upper and one lower bed on each side. In the center was a pull down table and also a small sink. Quite efficient—and great fun as a way to travel.

Well, somehow I lost the doll on just such a train trip. I had it when we boarded the train. And when we left the train, the doll was nowhere to be found. Forever lost. Just like the teddy on the turnpike.

I really wasn’t deeply traumatized, but the fact that I can recall this doll, and know how I lost it, suggests some deep imprinting on my child brain.

Anyone else out there who lost a favorite stuffed animal? Hmmmm?? So, tell.

*the photo of the teddy is from a website--I did NOT grab my camera, stop the car in the left lane of the turnpike and take a photo!

Saturday, February 16, 2008

Saturday Soup 8 - 2008

I have not posted a soup recipe for quite some time. I have noted in the listing of blog subjects that "family" and "soup" as subjects are neck-and-neck. Hmmmm--with today's post, and subject entry of "soup" that topic will surge (or slosh) ahead. Oh well, I will just have to tag more entries as family--especially old photos!

This soup recipe is the one I made for our Super Bowl party this year. Every year, we have a FEW friends in. They are dedicated football fans, and cheer wildly for the game. This year, fortunately for us, they also cheered wildly for the Giants. Our daughter's fiancé is a long-time die-hard Giants' fan. So, in his honor, we cheered for the Giants. (Plus I don't like teams that cheat--ahem--any Patriots' fans out there. . .sorry.)


Serves 10


2 large Spanish onions, diced
1 pound linguica, sliced (Portuguese sausage).
You can substitute chorizo or, I used kielbasa since I could not find either linguica or chorizo
1 pound fresh kale
4 cups of chicken broth or stock
1 tsp. black pepper
2 T. thyme, dried
4 large potatoes, peeled and diced into 1/2 inch cubes
1 pound canned red kidney beans (or 1/2 pound dried)
12 oz. V-8 vegetable juice
12 oz. canned stewed tomatoes


1) If using dried kidney beans, pre-soak and cook according to package directions.
2) Dice onions 1/4" thick and cut sausage into thin slices. Place both in a large stockpot and cover with water. Let simmer for 20 minutes.
3) Wash kale, remove the spine from leaves, then roll leaves and slice thinly.
3) Add kale, chicken stock, pepper, and thyme. Simmer for 10 minutes. Add the beans and potatoes to the pot.
4) Pour in V-8 juice and stewed tomatoes. Cook on low heat until vegetables are tender. Let soup continue to simmer for several hours on low heat. This soup may be refrigerated and keeps well for serving days later.

The recipe recommends serving this hearty soup with corn bread (which I did for the Super Bowl). All in all--a very tasty winter hearty meal. And kale is so good for you!

I will continue to post Saturday soups, but only occasionally.

Thursday, February 14, 2008

Squirrel - 1/ KGMom - 0

Birds are finally returning to the feeders.

Cats are actually lying side by side (this NEVER happens. . .must be Valentine's Day!).

I am enjoying the sunporch.

Then, I see him (or her)--brazen little fellow.

Just sits on the feeder rim and helps himself.

I am taking photos from inside, then decide I had best go out and shoo him away before he gets all the sunflower seeds.

So, I open the sliding glass door and walk out saying, Go on, shoo. Get. Those seeds aren't for you.

Instead of the usual mad scramble up the tree, this little guy sits and looks at me, and keeps eating seeds. So, finally I get up close, and he runs up the tree. Then he sits on a branch, seemingly saying--you looking at me?

So, I ball up a small wad of snow into a mini snowball and toss it at him.

What comes next absolutely cracks me up! The squirrel catches the snowball and begins to munch on it.


I did, however, give him the match.

Squirrel - 1/ KGMom - 0

Wednesday, February 13, 2008

Reflections on being an almost-Boomer

Despite my husband’s best efforts, I began this day—the occasion of my 63rd birthday—just a tad earlier than I had planned. My teaching schedule—Tuesday and Thursday first thing in the morning class—necessitates I get up early on those days. So, today, my birthday (and a Wednesday) he had hoped I would sleep in. But I was awakened an hour (at least) earlier than I had planned by the phone ringing. He had set out to walk the dog, after waiting a couple of minutes past the time he should have been called, if his work were delayed today. Of course, as soon as he headed out, the call came in—hence, my being awakened.

So, I have a jump on thinking today. For whatever reasons, my family has never made a “big deal” of birthdays. Oh, we acknowledge them—send cards, and gifts—but we don’t do all-out-splash parties. When our children were little, we had a few special birthday parties for them. Some of these parties were actually quite memorable—one for our son where we “booked” our local Y and had a swimming party. Since he was born in January, that was quite a nice touch. Swimming for a mid-winter party. For our daughter, an October baby, we once attended a local performance scheduled for Hallowe’en—the performance featured spooky stories and “ghosts.” Since the performing company used a darkened theater, and trailed gossamer cloth across the audience, the effect was quite “real.” So much so, that one of our daughter’s friends began weeping uncontrollably in terror.

I have had two “special” parties—both arranged by my husband. When I turned 50, he had planned a surprise (and it was) party—with our friends, and family at a local restaurant. One of the special touches was that he had arranged to have table flower baskets, enough for each guest couple (or single) to take along home. He also arranged to have a lute player there—I love this soft gentle music.

Then, when I turned 60, he arranged a somewhat smaller party, but also at a favorite restaurant, and this time not a surprise. No sense in giving the honored birthday person such a fright as to set off a cardiac arrest (it has been known to happen).

I was born just before the end of World War II. That makes me just ahead of the wave of baby boomers, which usually is pegged to begin with January 1, 1946. I guess I think of myself as a boomer—and when I read descriptions of boomer characteristics, I puzzle over whether that describes me or not. To my knowledge, there is no name for the generation immediately before boomers. My parents’ generation has been dubbed “the greatest generation.” Rather puts succeeding generations in their place, that!

Herewith some of the characteristics (source ):

  • more optimistic economically—not having experienced the Great Depression

  • better educated—men stayed in college to avoid the Vietnam war and women, seeking equality, sought a college education

  • women worked outside the home in greater numbers—while raising young children

  • more comfortable with technology, growing up within the age of computers

  • individualistic generation, with a focus on self and a tendency to reject authority

  • hectic lifestyles—leisure time infringed upon by the various demands of life.

Well, I can identify with most of those characteristics! One quick example: I always felt rather like a pioneer generation as regards working outside the home, but I also had wonderful role models in my own mother and in my mother-in-law.

Of course, one of the main reasons why this generation was named “boomer” was the sheer number of babies born. Spurred by the return of soldiers at the close of World War II, the boomer generation produced 78 million children. A veritable wave of babies. Now, as we reach our 60s, the boomer generation is affecting all sorts of areas in our economy—from the sheer purchasing power of that many retirees, to the impact on social security and Medicare—boomers still set new records.


Photos from my 50th birthday party. . .yet, another use of the new toy!

Sunday, February 10, 2008

My New Toy

Gettysburg battlefield, a photo I took about 30 years ago. . .read on.

Every year, as my birthday approaches, my husband asks--what do you want for your birthday. Sometimes he has an idea, sometimes I do, and sometimes I am at a loss. I was sort of at a loss this year, until I suddenly thought--I want a new toy.

Here it is.

It is a scanner that can convert slides to digital images. Whoooppeeee! Now I can take all those slide trays I have in the basement, with photos from 20, 30 or maybe even 40 years ago, and started scanning them.

Then I can start posting them. This evening, my husband warned our daughter. But I promise to be very judicious--giving careful loving thought and promising to post nothing embarrassing to anyone.

So, here are a few early samples.

Jeremy, Johanna & Geoffrey (our son)

Four generations--my father-in-law, his father, my husband, & our son (c. 1975)

Our son & me--two shore "birds"

Our son, Geoffrey


All the photos here are at least 30 years (or very nearly). Isn't technology wonderful!?!

Friday, February 08, 2008

The Current Crop

So far, I have not written about this current semester and the class I am teaching. The course I am teaching is Eng Comp 102—with an emphasis on developing argument. I have only one section this time, and thankfully my class falls on a Tuesday/Thursday schedule.

Each semester, when I get my schedule, I keep my fingers crossed that I will be placed in a SMART™ classroom. A SMART™ classroom is equipped with a computer, projector to display the computer screen, along with DVD and VHS players, as well as overhead projectors. Even though I have gone through the requisite training, and use the SMART™ technology all the time, each semester there seems to be no correlation between my use of the equipment and what classroom I am placed in. You see, not all classrooms have this technology—and, truth be told, not all professors use it. But I do.

When I saw my schedule for this spring, I was most disappointed that the room I was assigned to did NOT have the technology. So, I checked the schedule, and emailed two professors who were placed in SMART™ classrooms. Eventually, one agreed to switch with me for the semester.

So, the semester began with a kind of comedy of errors. We met in the originally assigned classrooms the first day, and informed students to report to the NEW classroom for the second day. First, the secretary forgot to make the needed signs, so I made them up, and stuck them outside each room. Then, the other professor did not think to KEEP announcing that the classrooms had been switched; he announced it the first day, but said nothing the second day.

I had THREE students who managed to miss the first day, so they trudged into the assigned room on the second day, sat through class never saying a word. Only, it wasn’t my class—it was the OTHER class they sat through. I emailed my colleague and asked if, by chance, he had three extra students. Why, yes, he did.

So on the third day, two students appear; the third wanted to stay in the other class, so we worked that out. Then one of the two delayed students missed the next two classes (i.e. he attended ONE class out of five). Finally, he showed up at my office with a DROP slip in hand. The third student, who is a transfer student, has come intermittently, showing up some days, not on others, and generally arriving late. Not a good way to start.

Then the first paper was due. And, for the first time since I have been teaching here, we had an ice storm on that day. I have a very strict no-late-papers policy. I have found students to be incredibly creative. . .when it comes to reasons why their papers are late. So I say—if your paper is late, you lose a letter grade for each class day it is late. But, since there was an ice storm, and normally very responsible students didn’t make it to class, I relented this time.

After I had received and graded the papers, I noticed one student had no grade next to his name. Hmmmmm. Missing paper. So when I saw him in class, I asked—am I correct that you have not turned in a paper? Um, yes, he replied. So, I lifted an eyebrow and said—well? He mumbled something about not being able to get into the assignment. I just said—well, you know it loses a grade for each day late, AND you have to do all the assigned papers. Yeah, I know—he said.

The first assignment is this: take a controversial topic of your choosing; then write two papers—one brief paper explaining the topic to someone who knows nothing about, then a second paper arguing a position about the topic. One student picked the autobahn as his topic. He did not do well on the papers, so when I met individually with him –I asked, what’s the problem that you were writing about? Blank look. I asked if he had ever been on the autobahn—no, he just saw a special on it and thought it looked cool. As I talked with him, I understood that the real issue for him was that he believes there is no need for speed limit on U.S. roads. But he didn’t quite convey that.

One unusual development is that my class is not “full”—technically, I could have up to 26 students. Only 20 signed up, and since I had one transfer to the other class, and one drop out already, I now have 18. While that is a great number to work with, given the typical attrition rate, I expect to end up with even fewer students. Maybe Miss Mac Cheese from last semester has spread the word—don’t take her; she’s tough. She makes you write!

Photo of the clock tower on our campus is from our college website
The Dean of the division I am in programs the clock tower chimes which play melodies on the hour all day

Wednesday, February 06, 2008

Another Mystery Solved

I like mysteries. Among my favorite books to read are mysteries. I think I like them because most mysteries can be solved by an application of logic. Of course, you need all the relevant information to be able to apply the logic.

Several weeks back, I posted about the
mystery of missing birds. Then I saw the peregrine (which I have seen many times before zooming through, but never roosting, watching and waiting), and the mystery was solved.

Well, on a recent Saturday morning around 10 a.m. I was sitting at my computer, doing the usual check of emails, websites, blogs I like to read when the phone rang. As it happens, my husband was at a Saturday meeting, and I though it might be him, calling to see if I was awake (ahem, I do sometimes like to sleep in. . .but never until 10 a.m.). Anyway, the phone rang.

So, I answered with my usual “hello.” Nothing fancy, no “This is the ***** residence.” And no unusual pronunciation of Hello, either. I had an aunt from western Pennsylvania who always answered “Yellow” in a kind of up-tilt of voice. And my mother-in-law, who had worked as a telephone operator back in the days when they had such things, always answered as she had been trained—HUDDO.

Anyway, I answered plain Hello. The voice on the other end said, tentatively, “Is this M & * Bank?” No—I said. That number is the same as this one, except it has a different area code. Ahhhh—you might be wondering. Why would I be so forthcoming with such information instantaneously? Well, we’ve gotten such calls before. Many times.

Since I was so helpful, the voice on the other end said—well, the Internet lists it as this number and area code. AHA. Mystery finally solved! But, why would the M & * website give the wrong number for one of its branches? Oh no, said the voice—not the bank; it’s on the Yah** site that way.

AHA, AHA! Now we are getting somewhere. I had all along suspected (after all, it is a mystery) that it couldn’t be the bank that was giving out wrong information. And it didn’t make sense that the Internet sites that are telephone directories would have it wrong. Now, it was solved—a search engine somehow coded in the incorrect information.

So, off I went to the Yah** site, did a search, and BOOM back came our home address and phone number as a location for an M & * bank in our area. And Yah** even offered to “map it” and give directions. Thank goodness, we never had anyone show up at our house. Double thank-goodness since we have had a rash of petty bank robberies lately. I think if a bank robber did show up, I would say—excuse me, sir, we don’t serve any customers here who wear baseball hats, hoods, or stockings over their faces.

So, I wrote a review on the Yah** website at the so-called bank listing, and said—THIS INFORMATION IS INCORRECT. Then I gave the business a one-star rating.

Now the next objective will be to see how long it takes either Yah** or M & * to change their information. (As of when I posted this blog, Yah** still has our phone number and home address listed as the local M & *.)

As I said, mystery solved.

Have you solved any mysteries recently?

Monday, February 04, 2008

Eight Reasons for my beard

Ha! I bet I caught a number of you off guard.

My father sent me the list below explaining why he grew a beard, and since he does not have a blog, I thought it might be fun to post this. . .along with the photographic evidence.

by David C.

1. I wanted to.

2. My wife's Christmas present to me. She finally gave me permission.

3. This is my Christmas present to my wife.

4. I’m old enough now. Eighty eight years old and if I want to I may!

5. This is my mid-life crisis. I’m a late bloomer.

6. I’m re-inventing myself
(or is that one too politically loaded to use?).

7. For a long time I’ve wondered what I would look like and feel like with a beard. Now I’m finding out.

8. My father and grandfather had beards. My son and grandsons have beards. Why can’t I have a beard?

9. I wanted to.

And if I don’t like it, I’ll shave it off.

I took the photos on a recent visit to my father and step-mother. When I sent the photos by email to my father, I copied my brother and sister. Within minutes, my siblings answered, both expressing astonishment at our father's beard--neither had ever seen him with a beard. So, we have all had a bit of enjoyment out of this late-blooming effect!

And the Answer Is. . .

Well done, all who played. It was difficult narrowing down to just 10 quotes--there are so very many more out there. So, maybe, sometime another quiz, if you are willing to play along.

1. All right, Mr DeMille, I'm ready for my close up.
~Sunset Boulevard

2. Frankly, my dear, I don't give a damn!
~Gone with the Wind

3. Plastics.
~The Graduate

4. Of all the gin joints in all the towns in all the world, she walks into mine.

5. I'll be back.
~The Terminator

6. I could dance with you till the cows come home...On second thought, I'd rather dance with the cows when you came home.
~Duck Soup

7. Get busy livin', or get busy dyin'.
~The Shawshank Redemption

8. Dave, this conversation can serve no purpose anymore. Goodbye.
~2001: A Space Odyssey

9. Little girls, I am in the business of putting old heads on young shoulders, and all my pupils are the creme de la creme. Give me a girl at an impressionable age and she is mine for life.
~The Prime of Miss Jean Brodie

10. I've got a feeling we're not in Kansas anymore.
~The Wizard of Oz

Friday, February 01, 2008

Once More, with feeling. . .

I just couldn't resist beginning my final review (of this Academy Award crop of movies) with that quintessential movie director quote.

Come to think of it, there are other wonderful single lines from movies. Here are a few--can you name the movie?

  1. All right, Mr DeMille, I'm ready for my close up.

  2. Frankly, my dear, I don't give a damn!

  3. Plastics.

  4. Of all the gin joints in all the towns in all the world, she walks into mine.

  5. I'll be back.

  6. I could dance with you till the cows come home...On second thought, I'd rather dance with the cows when you came home.

  7. Get busy livin', or get busy dyin'.

  8. Dave, this conversation can serve no purpose anymore. Goodbye.

  9. Little girls, I am in the business of putting old heads on young shoulders, and all my pupils are the creme de la creme. Give me a girl at an impressionable age and she is mine for life.

  10. I've got a feeling we're not in Kansas anymore.

OK--enough. You and I both know this list could go on almost forever.

Last review--Michael Clayton

When I started reviewing this year's movie binge my husband and I took, I began with Charlie Wilson's War, the first one we saw. Michael Clayton was the last one we saw, and these two movies share a straight-forward story, tautly told. Charlie Wilson's War is a bit more playful. Michael Clayton is deadly serious.

Michael Clayton is a legal thriller. The opening scenes show us a climactic event, where people are literally sweating what appear to be terms of a deal. We meet Michael Clayton (George Clooney) who is a "fixer" for his law firm. He cleans up messes clients of the firm make. He has been sent to retrieve a partner Arthur Edens (Tom Wilkerson) in the firm who has had a spectacular meltdown where he stripped naked in the middle of a deposition.

Suffice it to say, partners aren't supposed to do that. So Michael tries to fix the situation. Just as he appears to wrap up this situation, he is sent on a call to help another client who has had a hit and run accident. Michael drives out to the Westchester county countryside, cleans up the mess, and then leaves. As he is driving away, he stops his car in the early morning, walks up a hill in seeming reverie of the weight of events. Suddenly, his car below him explodes.

The movie then goes into flashback to lead us up to the explosive moment. Why did the partner Arthur meltdown mid-deposition? What case was he working on? Why do we see Karen Crowder (Tilda Swinton), a corporate lawyer turned CEO, in full crisis in a women's bathroom? Why does someone try to blow up Michael Clayton's car? As the movie unfolds over a brief two hours, you learn the answers to all these questions.

The movie is wonderfully woven, with a tour de force performance by the three actors nominated for Academy Awards--George Clooney, Tom Wilkerson, and Tilda Swinton. You will stay riveted through the entire movie, puzzling out with Michael Clayton the moral dilemmas of working just to fix things, not working to make things right.