Sunday, January 20, 2019

HOME CLEAN ENERGY -- CURSIVE SIGNATURE -- LETTERS


A few matters occupying some of my time and attention ......


RAIN – we got lots of soaking-the-ground rain with four successive storms over almost a week to combat the drought where I live – Hooray!  No one in our neck-of-the-woods was subjected to flooding, mud or rock slides, but we usually aren’t -- unlike other areas of Southern California in the Hollywood hills, coastal Malibu area near scenic Pacific Coast Hwy, or wild-fire damaged areas. 


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LOCAL CHANGES -- possible in future for other cities  ......

CLEAN ENERGY OPTION FROM POWER COMPANY
Our city has entered into a program with our electric power company that is providing options transitioning residents power source to clean energy.   Our local newspaper, The Claremont Courier, has offered a two minute plus video link HERE succinctly explaining our choices and what appears to be nominal cost differences.  I will be making a selection.

I wonder if any of you have encountered similar clean energy programs being offered by your community electric power companies?  If not, be aware this may be the future in more communities across the U.S. – or in the rest of the world, too(?).    Your comments and observations about such programs are welcome.

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LIVING COSTS -- going up .....

RESIDENTIAL INSURANCE
After all these years, in the past two we've started receiving notices from utilities, also the city regarding sewer lines, gas lines, disclaiming any responsibility for the integrity of that portion of pipes/lines beginning at our property line to our house should they develop leaks, breakage.  We’re then informed of Insurance for these lines we can purchase and have the cost automatically added to our monthly bill – five dollars more here, and five more dollars there as this contributes to increasing the  cost of living.   We’d already had an increase in general sewage and other fees.

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CITY REDISTRICTING .....

Our city is also changing our City Council composition from electing five city-wide Council members to establishing five defined districts with a representative from each.  Seems there is a purported risk legal action could be taken by others (though presently none immediately threatened) that would cost the city considerable money in attorney fees even if we didn’t need to change.    

One of the issues will be to guard against gerrymandering.   We do have some ethnic /minority groups making up the majority of residents in various parts of our cities.  For example, the report noted a predominance of Mexicans in one area and Asians in another area.   I wonder if this redistricting will bring to the forefront more meaningful representation or accentuate, even invite, more dissension based on what can be politically dividing factors?


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CURSIVE SIGNATURE OBSOLETE – LETTERS A NOVELTY?
I received a letter from my elementary age grandson this week.  We began exchanging occasional letters when he was younger.   His first letters were pictures he drew, then he progressed to printing words, later sentences.   I’m told that he really enjoys receiving letters.  I continue to use block print alphabet letters though he’s of an age now when schools used to teach cursive hand writing.    Then, I recalled, they don’t teach cursive in most schools any more.   That’s a change to which I have not yet completely adapted in my mind. 

We can tell a lot about a person by their handwriting that I don’t think hand printed block letters reveal.  This has been one area of assessment in my professional work which reveals vital fine motor, language, cognitive and other functional skills. 

On a personal level a family member or friend’s handwriting gave even a lay person some indication of a loved one’s physical health and mental status in ways that won’t be as readily revealed with other writing.  But I guess that’s what happens with most change – we lose some features that are useful and hope those losses are offset by more but different benefits than those lost. 

I suddenly found myself thinking – my grandson will have no signature – or at least the traditional signature as I think of it.   Of course, I know credit card companies no longer require signatures on charges.   But a person having no signature – that seems really strange to me as I think of a signature as highly unique and personal that everyone would prize as part of their identity.  

He could develop his signature at any age though, if he wanted one.   Also, there are free web sites that aid in creating a signature in any desired font to use on the Internet with keyboarding which I suppose someone could even practice developing to write in cursive if they desired.   But where would he use a signature?   We no longer are required to sign items – checks are becoming obsolete for financial transactions.

Seems really strange to me that eventually, actually soon, even now, many people will no longer be able to read cursive writing.    I recently heard an anecdotal news tale of a grandmother writing her teenage granddaughter an actual paper and pen letter, but the girl couldn’t read it – thought it was a foreign language.  

Meanwhile, I’m going to continue periodically writing letters to my grandson -- hand printing in block letters as I don’t want to run them on Word and off the printer.   His parents say he really looks forward to receiving my letters in the mail.   I wonder if they are so rare as to qualify for “Show and Tell” at school as a novelty, or would they just be out-of favor -- considered ancient,  old-fashioned and of no interest?   Will they be valuable antiques some day?  

Sunday, January 13, 2019

JEANNE CUMMINS SPREAD SUNSHINE


We can consider ourselves fortunate to encounter individuals in our life with whom we develop  a special relationship.   Miles may separate us -- time may pass -- but a bond remains.  Highly valued are the rare opportunities to actually spend time with one another, but we augment with occasional contact  via other means.   Always present is the knowledge of that caring person still being present in our life.  And then comes the day when some of that changes. 

First thing one morning this past week, unwelcome news greeted me when I answered the phone.   I was just awakening, so was unprepared to process the information that such a special friend’s daughter phoned to impart.   Telling me how much my friendship had been valued, she ultimately revealed her mother had not awakened one morning after retiring the night before.  

Her mother and I had reminisced on the phone several months earlier.   I’d been thinking of her and planning to call her again in this new year now that the holiday rush was past.  I knew she had a large and very attentive family nearby, so felt her days would have been activity-filled, possibly tiring, or at least as busy as she could tolerate, given her declining health. 

The last time we had actually seen one another was in July of 2006.   I had been in town for a short time where we first met and finally was able to phone her before my departure flight.  She surprised me by coming to the airport where my hour ‘s wait for boarding allowed us special moments together to talk about so much in so little time.  So many years had passed since we last saw one another but she appeared just as vivacious and attractive as I had remembered her.

Since learning of her death, thoughts of her keep entering my mind.  I know she had a full rich life, but her time ran out at 94 years.    

“Ms. Cummins was born Ethel Mae Thompson ... By the time she was 15, she was singing in nightclubs in central Ohio. That’s where the [New Yorker] hotel’s bandleader, Bernie Cummins, on tour with his orchestra The New Yorkers, found her and signed her up. “I wasn’t allowed to date anyone in the band, so I married the bandleader’s brother,” she explained.”  as reported in The Morning News.

When they toured the country, after starting in Akron, Ohio, one frequent performance location was at "Pappy's Showland" located between Dallas and Ft. Worth, Texas.  The orchestra had played all the famous NYC hotels along Park Ave., 5th Ave. for dinner and dancing including The New Yorker. 

This historic New Yorker Hotel had a 75th Anniversary in December 2005 to which Jeanne was invited to participate in the festivities since she had been the house singer with the band.  Those years later, she and her husband, Walter, decided to settle in our Midwest Ohio capitol, Columbus, Ohio, leaving NYC and the touring band routine behind to raise their family.   

Music was evolving into a quite different style from the twenties music, while Jeanne was singing with the band. It wasn't until the late 1950's that I met her as the family was growing and the road tours had long since stopped.   I was young and single, delighted to visit their home for moonlight ice skating on a frozen pond, thanks to her daughter loaning me her skates. A nearby bonfire provided warmth when the winter's chill penetrated our woolen wear.

Here's a video compilation for Jeanne's 90th birthday that includes photos of the TV shows casts including the band.



Jeanne was the popular vocalist on the live audience participation television talk show with which I was associated at WLW-C.   Her appeal to the viewing and studio audience was such that even when the TV show’s host changed, first to actor, Dean Miller (a regular on a popular network sitcom TV series “December Bride”) she continued as a show vocalist.    Then there was  Nick Clooney hosting for a while.  His son, George, was just a budding boy who, I've been told on good authority, was not shy about sharing his intent to be an entertainment star some day.  He may have reached his prophetic goal.

Jeanne’s talents were in demand for the show’s next and fourth reincarnation with a locally popular TV personality as host, Spook Beckman.   This rare video of her impromptu singing (B&W but the show broadcast in color) reveals her vocal skills and sensitivity but quirky sense of humor.    The host spontaneously relating her song's title to a personal event in her life went a bit awry.    She had been the recipient of a small inheritance from a woman who died at age 94, but once she began to sing Jeanne found the lyrics of the song not quite appropriate.  This is a good example of why live TV can be so entertaining, but also risky.




I always delighted in listening to the several decades of standards Jeanne sang, but especially remembered her as epitomizing the theme song and title “Happy Face” of a children’s TV show she created on which I  enjoyed working with her.    “Put On A Happy Face” lyrics from the Broadway show “Bye Bye Birdie” were so characteristic of Jeanne’s good humor and positive outlook on life.

 I wish there was a recording of Jeanne singing this song, but here are Dick VanDyke and Janet Leigh.




“Spread sunshine all over the place” is exactly what Jeanne did with her presence and her song vocalizations. 

You will be missed, Jeanne, but remembered for the pleasure your lovely sensitive lyric  interpretations gave others -- also with love and affection.   

RIP










Sunday, January 06, 2019

HOPE MIDST FEAR -- SHAKER WARNING -- TWILIGHT ZONE


We’re off on another whirlwind year of who knows what in this unpredictable life we lead.  Taking stock of what it looks like for me, I’m just continuing to batten down the hatches, as the saying goes, to stay afloat wherever events lead and hope for the best. 

A review of the recent holiday calm for me included sending and receiving fewer greeting cards than the previous year.   I still enjoy the letters updating past year events, learning of everyone’s well-being and sharing information regarding our families which often include photos. 

Sadly, there are fewer to whom I sent my holiday letter because they departed this life during the preceding year – a major negative about aging.    Now, I’m left to wonder about the status of those who didn’t write with numerous explanations possible.  

Much like the rest of you, I’ve been absorbing what is happening around our world for some hint of what might be expected in 2019.    Economic issues concern us all as we wonder what  might the stock market’s acrobatics portend?   China is exploring the far side of the moon, so what implications might that have?   Then, there are all those other countries I won't name.

Environmental concerns continue with devastating weather conditions uprooting people’s lives, others flee oppression in some countries with resulting challenges for other communities where they seek refuge.  That’s only a smattering of the humanitarian issues too many people face.   We’re not immune in the U.S.A. to nature’s whims or to our own continent’s largely South American refugees seeking asylum in our country.   

Their doing so has been made unbelievably complicated by our Administration whose leader chose, beginning when he was a candidate, to instill in our general population an excessive fear of different others from the traditional ones like him -- as though we did not already have effective protective screening systems in place receiving continuous technological updating for use with those seeking admittance to our country.   

Implying previous security inadequacy to then claim increased terrorist threat has created a divisive political state.   Much more meaningful and unifying would be addressing how best to secure our nation’s border by implementing long ago bipartisan determined actions that also have provisions for using funds in a financially reasonable manner.

Our leader and many of those elected to represent the citizens continue to demonstrate just how out of touch they are with the majority of ordinary people’s wishes, much less their day-to-day financial lives.   These political leaders persist in pursuing further destructive governing actions demonstrated by failure to authorize selected government budgeted department funding.   Consequently, affected government employee wages are withheld though they must continue to work.  

Government legislators and our leaders continue to draw their salaries.   U.S. Senators seem to have abandoned the working population.  They had no problem last year passing tax reductions for the extremely wealthy which includes many of themselves, too.   The President signed that bill from which he, his family, and their businesses profited.  

I would like to see teeth put in Federal legislative deadlines requiring budgets funding be established, passed and signed by the President before any of those responsible for their passage, and their staffs, can receive their salaries each year.   We, the people, should demand our legislators pass such legislation -- NO BUDGET ... NO PAY!

Our leader’s poor judgment evidences no real comprehension of how important timely receipt of a regular paycheck is to most citizens – how their lives are impacted without that regular income.   He has never known what life is like for everyday people so is completely insensitive.

I’m reminded of one of the speakers at a memorial honoring former President G. W. Bush, of whom I was not a major supporter, but I did have some respect for him.  This intimate personal friend of the former President described what insight Bush said he had acquired for the lives of ordinary people to which he had previously been much less aware.    Bush came to realize he had been raised in affluent circumstances with amenities he took for granted that ordinary people did not have.   This knowledge was becoming acquired as his usual daily benefits ceased once he entered the military during WWII.  

Bush has said he acquired increasing insight on this dichotomy during a period of his military service when he was required to review and censor for security purposes letters written by troops to their family members and friends.   He spoke of gaining awareness he previously lacked about the everyday lives, needs, concerns, which would include financial in some instances, of ordinary people that he previously had not had -- and how they differed from his own.  He realized that the vast majority of Americans did not have the benefits he had known from birth, or the given financial security he had throughout his life. 

We have a leader now whose attitudes, behaviors, actions and past life give no indication that he has acquired such insight or ever known anything but affluence from birth – has never had to encounter day-to-day living challenges to budget affording basic needs dependent on receiving a regularly scheduled paycheck.  There has been little demonstration he is capable of being empathetic with others.   

Keeping a roof over his head, putting food on the table, purchasing clothes, paying for health care – not only for himself, but his children and family as most citizens experience has been on an entirely different level far above one of mere subsistence that necessitates budgeting from paycheck to paycheck.  Having fare for a train, bus, cab or buying gas and maintaining a vehicle to even get to work has not been a necessity for him because his paycheck was suddenly being withheld and he had no other funds or family to assist him.  

His pronouncements of government workers endorsing his obstinance in which he refuses to support authorizing budget passage are unsubstantiated and highly suspect.  Who among them would want to speak up in opposition given the leader's penchant for being vindictive toward most anyone whose views differ from his own?   The leader’s rhetoric for what he claims to be doing for our nation’s security is simply puffery he wants to put forth as justifying his actions and to avoid what could and should legitimately be done to prevent this situation. 

California where I live is starting 2019 with a new Governor.  I hope his policies will continue to keep our state in forward motion, maintain the reserve fund our previous Governor built for a rainy day, and not deplete it, insuring we stay within a realistic budget.   I have welcomed not having a showboat Governor and hope our new Governor will be the same, unlike what we’re subjected to at the federal level from the White House.

Term-limited retiring Jerry Brown has been California’s longest serving governor who inherited a seriously indebted state.  Despite our rainy-day fund reserve the public pension funding continues to be an elephant in the room few speak loudly about, but Brown’s other policies have been financially benefiting.   He’s been a strong leader on environmental, climate and health issues among other major matters.  He’s also stirred controversy with promotion of a bullet train and the monies that will require.  How our incoming Governor Gavin Newsom addresses that issue and others remains to be seen.

Earthquake Alert Warning System is finally operative in Los Angeles County only – the first in the United States.   Apps are available for iPhone and Androids. 

You may read about the system at the United StatesGeological Survey site (USGS) here.  You’ll note on the site its operation and current uptodate dissemination of information has been adversely impacted by our government’s failure to pass funding in the current budget situation.

The earthquake warning may only be up to 20 seconds, depending upon the quake epicenter’s distance from the signal’s recipient, but even a few seconds can be time for some safety steps, such as a surgeon removing his knife, person getting off a ladder, stopping a car.  We’re told there may be false alarms and other imperfections.   The system is continuing to be developed and refined. 

Locally, we have several new City Council members who I look forward to providing our community new ideas and sound governance through the coming year. 

Our first rain in the new year with welcomed snow in the mountains has arrived tonight as I write this.  We’re still below water table levels considered to be the needed average this time of year, but we do look forward to more of the wet stuff in the weeks ahead to avoid drought conditions we’ve had for too many years.  Unfortunately, some So Cal areas experience mud and rock slides as a result of the devastating fires we had last year.  Scenic Pacific Coast highway overlooking the ocean is temporarily blocked for this reason as I write this.  

I’ve previously shared here that I choose to have antenna TV and have never had cable or satellite since living here.    Access to broadcast signals in the Los Angeles area provide me programming from all the stations.  The only problem I have is when storms move off the coast eastward -- when they pass over the mountain top where some of the TV stations towers are, the signals can be affected, interfering with my reception.  Often one or more other station’s towers located elsewhere do  allow me access to their programs.  Other times, depending on the storm(s) I receive no stations, but this rarely occurs.  Interestingly, through my Roku I am still able to access Netflix, if I want their offerings with clear reception and also have my computer Internet, of course. 

"BERNARD HERRMANN THE TWILIGHT ZONE~ 1ST. SEASON 1959 - Main and End titles music composed and CONDUCTED by BERNARD HERRMANN Original Soundtrack Recording Twilight Zone 40th Anniversary Edition"



This afternoon unable to find a movie on Netflix I cared to view, I came across a favorite old but timeless classic TV series “Twilight Zone”.   Rod Serling’s stories and those some others wrote have plots that resonate even today. 

One of my favorites Serling wrote is “The Monsters Are Due On Maple Street” which aired in 1960’s first season.  The focus in this program is on aliens and how they can easily take over our world, neighborhood by neighborhood, by manipulating everyday routine functions.   We see ordinary people gradually becoming paranoiac and panicking. 
Narrator Serling’s closing has meaning for today:

The tools of conquest do not necessarily come with bombs and explosions and fallout. There are weapons that are simply thoughts, attitudes, prejudices – to be found only in the minds of men. For the record, prejudices can kill – and suspicion can destroy – and a thoughtless frightened search for a scapegoat has a fallout all of its own – for the children – and the children yet unborn. And the pity of it is – that these things cannot be confined – to the Twilight Zone.”



In 2003 the program was remade and renamed "The Monsters On Maple Street".
The focus is:

“...more about the fear of terrorism...caused, not by aliens, but...the government, specifically the United States Army, experimenting on how small towns react to the fear of terrorism.  In the end, the neighborhood takes out its anger and frustration on a family” in their midst.  

Forest Whitaker is the narrator who opens the program saying the neighbors will soon discover the monsters they fear may already be among them.

Whitaker’s closing narration seems apropos for our time:

“It isn't enough for a sole voice of reason to exist. In this time of uncertainty, we are so sure that villains lurk around every corner that we will create them ourselves if we can't find them – for while fear may keep us vigilant, it's also fear that tears us apart – a fear that sadly exists only too often – outside the Twilight Zone.”