Wednesday, December 30, 2009

'09 Year Ends ♪ ♪ ♪

Everything comes to an end!
Memories linger on.

Auld Lang Syne by BBC's Symphony Orchestra


Should auld acquaintance be forgot,
and never brought to mind ?
Should auld acquaintance be forgot,
and auld lang syne ?

CHORUS: For auld lang syne, my dear, for auld lang syne, we'll tak a cup o' kindness yet, for auld lang syne.

And surely ye'll be your pint-stoup !
And surely I'll be mine !
And we'll tak a cup o' kindness yet,
for auld lang syne. CHORUS

We twa hae run about the braes,
and pou'd the gowans fine ;
But we've wander'd mony a weary fit,
sin' auld lang syne. CHORUS

We twa hae paidl'd in the burn,
frae morning sun till dine ;
But seas between us braid hae roar'd
sin' auld lang syne. CHORUS

And there's a hand, my trusty fiere !
And gives a hand o' thine !
And we'll tak a right guid-willie-waught,
for auld lang syne. CHORUS

Thursday, December 24, 2009

♫ Happy Holidays ♫

Hope your holidays are bringing you much joy and pleasure!

Ray Conniff and The Singers create a holiday mood prompting many happy memories for me with their medley of Christmas songs:

I've chosen to be home this holiday season. Family members are unable to join me here in sunny California. Our current daytime temperatures are in the sixties to seventies, but colder days with rain are predicted for next week. Given the Midwest's and East's snow, sleet, and icy weather conditions, I'm glad to not be experiencing travel delays and air cancellations trying to fly to those destinations. I even respectfully declined an invitation to join close friends to share in their festivities with their Las Vegas family. I just want to be quietly leisurely at home this year for reasons not even fully understood by me.

Traveling is not a deterrent, but long distance air trips are less inviting to me than they once were. Jet Blue has provided my most recently appealing direct coast to coast flight. I experience the actual comfort level on many other domestic airlines as barely acceptable and often quite undesirable, even if all goes well flying across country with required plane changes. I miss the exciting anticipation of flight travel I recall enjoying years ago.

The risk prospect of maybe having to rough long hours waiting in an airport lobby, slouched down in an uncomfortable seat, or in a corner on the floor, is also less inviting than when I was much younger. Even trying to seek flight or airline scheduling changes should that be warranted seems much more complicated. No longer familiar to me is how to readily proceed using today's ticketing systems to achieve quick timely flight or airline change actions should I be unexpectedly stranded in an unfamiliar airport suddenly needing one of only a few much-in-demand seats others would also be seeking.

I'm too late flying east this winter as I've already missed one of my favorite seasonal joys, walking in the first snowfall, watching the flakes gently falling around me and feeling the brisk bracing cold air on my face. I am content to settle for seeing snow-capped mountains through my kitchen window. Here are those mountains much as they look today though the photo was taken last spring from a nearby park:

Family and friends are disappointed we'll not be with each other in person, but we can avail ourselves of instant real time communication by voice, live pictures/video, including print via email/chat, given the computers and cell phones camera systems for communication available to us today. I've always embraced the idea special occasions could have a make-good or rain check day for in-person sharing, just as my mother and I sometimes needed to institute. We did not have to rigidly celebrate together an important occasion on a specific date if life's events made doing so unduly complicated. This approach sometimes could prove to be doubly enjoyable with two celebrations, one apart, and another later, together.

Expecting to be alone this holiday I elected to forgo decorating a larger Christmas tree. Instead, I'm enjoying this tiny little tree with miniature ornaments that other years I usually have set out as a separate room decoration. I particularly like miniatures of many items.

Family members had a huge box sent to me with strict instructions to not open before Christmas. I decided to let them see how large and cumbersome this box was, but I got cute and draped a red throw over it. I knew they wouldn't be able to tell whether or not I had violated the "don't open before Dec. 25th" requirement. Then, I determined to set my little tree atop the red throw-draped box, scatter around a few early greeting cards I had received and take a photo. I suddenly thought I'd fill the picture frame with a few of my indoor plants. I caution you in my haste this amateur gave little consideration to a professional artist's photo composition as you can readily see.

Here's how my Christmas Eve day has evolved. I started with an early morning hair appointment seeing a different hairdresser since my regular gal is visiting family out of state for a couple weeks. I'm quite pleased with my hairs finished look, but what will really determine success will be how well this styling maintains itself with very little help from me through the next few days.

Next, following a quick hot oatmeal and fresh fruit breakfast at home, I proceeded to a modest work day with fewer patients since I've decreased the number of days I provide services at one of the retirement community sites I serve. This season is being professionally rewarding as I have patients progressing to safely eating and drinking foods that more closely resemble a regular consistency (i.e. rather than through a tube, being pureed, or requiring liquids to be thickened.) We're all thrilled with such progress as is the individual, their family, and the facility staff. We rarely fully appreciate the joys of eating and drinking as much as when swallowing problems impair our ability to safely do so.

I then rushed off to the new-to-me Elephant Bar restaurant to join for a holiday lunch the rehab team members with whom I work -- the first we've met as a group this year. I was delighted with the establishment's food, menu choices, prices and ambiance, so will look forward to introducing my friends and family members to the restaurant when they visit in the future.

Returning home I was greeted by welcomed holiday greeting cards filled with friends pictures and letters. After enjoying them, I took a short nap, though I don't usually do so in the afternoon, but I felt really drowsy. I awoke this morning with a rare but slight headache, possibly sinus-related. I also am aware I've probably not been getting adequate sleep for quite a few nights so must resume greater care to curtail my night owl tendencies.

The remainder of my afternoon and evening has consisted of consuming a small green salad, small quarter inch thick turkey slices with cornbread dressing and gravy along with a self-mixed cranberry pomegranate juice beverage. For desert I ate a piece of pecan pie and sipped a cup of decaffeinated coffee. I managed to work in viewing some TV news, glancing through some newspapers, checking some emails as the PBS evening of Christmas music programming began.

'Along the way' I did eat a couple chocolate chip peanut butter cookies. Well, actually, I started out with only two cookies, but then somehow I think there were only a few left so I brought them in to have nearby my computer as I type this just in case I might need an energy boost. You'll be surprised to learn I have needed to replenish my energy supply so those cookies are now gone. Not to worry! There are enough other cookie containing vessels plus additional candies and goodies in this house to easily keep me rejuvenated throughout this holiday season. Hope you, too, are amply supplied with sustenance to please your taste buds.

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Medical Insights with Dr. A. Gawande

Fascinating reading is available in two books by Dr. Atul Gawande I’ve read during the past couple of years I am finally briefly reviewing here. I was reminded of my intent to share my impressions of this author’s writing and books when I read “Health Care Reform Revelation” at “Time Goes By” introducing blogger Ashleigh Burroughs who blogs at “The Burrow.” I highly recommend you spend some time reading Ashleigh’s account.

Dr. Atul Gawande is a highly respected researcher and writer whose books I consider to be quite entertainingly informative since I first noted some of his science writing in the New Yorker Magazine. Given our concern with our nation’s health care state you may want to click on this June ‘09 piece I wrote “Health Care Dollars Dilemma” based on his then New Yorker article.

A biography of Dr. Atul Gawande notes this surgeon and writer has extensive medical credentials acquired in his young life. He has associations with Harvard Medical School, Brigham and Women’s Hospital, Boston.

”He has published research studies in areas ranging from surgical technique, to US military care for the wounded, to error and performance in medicine. He is the director of the World Health Organization's Global Challenge for Safer Surgical Care.”

“In 2006, he received the MacArthur Award for his research and writing. His book COMPLICATIONS: A SURGEON'S NOTES ON AN IMPERFECT SCIENCE was a finalist for the National Book Award in 2002 and is published in more than a hundred countries. He was editor of THE BEST AMERICAN SCIENCE WRITING 2006. His most recent book, BETTER: A SURGEON'S NOTES ON PERFORMANCE is a New York Times bestseller and one of's ten best books of 2007.”

Dr. Gawande writes in layman’s language an account of some of his own medical experiences. “Complications…” is a compilation of New Yorker articles he wrote using real-life scenarios, how doctors gain experience, cope with mistakes, consider ethical issues. He realized later he was using these writing experiences to understand matters that bothered him.

The basis of “Better…” is the doctor’s very honest straight forward descriptions of his training to become a surgeon. He illustrates how patients grapple with surgical decisions weighing risks, making choices. I urge you to click the links on each book’s title for more specific in depth content.

I believe exploring issues from the medical provider’s perspective helps each of us as patients to better interact with our own doctors. Dr. Gawande certainly represents well the thoughtful, caring, intelligent, compassionate doctor, able to view treatments, surgical considerations and ethical issues in a manner such as I desire from my own physicians.

Wednesday, December 09, 2009

Mother's Gift of Life

Nature's way of providing life for all creatures is seldom easy. "Life Is Hard," one of my earlier pieces here, features videos of sea turtle eggs hatching. The hatchlings struggle to escape their shells in a process designed to test and build their strength preparatory to coping with the world they would enter after first emerging from a mound of sand, to then rush seaward.

We see each tiny turtle's long neck extending forward with their head's piercing eyes absorbing new sights they encounter while seeking their saltwater destination. Under their protective still-soft shell four short paddle-like legs protrude moving to carry their bodies across the sandy beach toward the ocean. Humans present serve to protect these babes from airborne predators, but upon entering the ocean to experience the joys of turtle life, these hatchlings are on their own to experience not only life's pleasures but potential deep sea dangers.

I've had the opportunity to observe the birthing of various creatures. Chickens, ducks, geese and hummingbirds I've noted all emerge from eggs the mother keeps warm in nests above the ground. The method by which some other animals I've seen give birth is quite different. The mother carries the egg inside her own body through the beginnings of intelligent life for varying time lengths depending upon the species. I think of certain animals I've been privy to seeing born including kittens, puppies, piglets, and calves.

The most personally significant and profound births have been those of my children. Having been witness to all these other births, during which I noted each mothers demeanor and process, I intentionally elected to experience natural birthing. I had only the slight apprehension one might expect could accompany any such major new important event. When the time came, an overhead mirror enabled me to view my participatory process when one of my own children made their joyous world entrance.

All of these memories come to mind because coincidentally following publication of my "baby turtle" blog topic I received a link to a truly unique animal birthing event quite unlike any I've seen before live or on video.

This is a very graphic video, so be cautioned if you perceive viewing life processes and events as objectionable.

Spectacular birthing of baby elephant, Riski, which means prosperous, is seen with English commentary in this 6 minute video taken at Elephant Safari Park, Taro-Bali. Unexpectedly the mother realizes special life-stimulating efforts are required for her baby to survive, much like that with human newborns. Thanks to DiAne Gillespie for sharing the elephant video link of this tension-filled miraculous never-routine life-affirming event.

DiAne Gillespie is a multi-talented artist, woman, mother, wife. She shares her appreciative perception and interpretation of life's beauty with her creative art and music (view her website by clicking on her name above.)

Monday, December 07, 2009

U.S. Remembers The Day

Sunday, December 7, 1941

Commemorating the forever altered lives of so many

…some of us recall the day

…some of us recall our parents describing the day

…some of us recall a school history book account of the day

The horrors of war had once more been set in motion.

My deepest gratitude to all those whose lives were sacrificed then and later
so our families could survive in a continuing free nation.

Friday, December 04, 2009

Life Is Hard

This is an interesting video link about effects of climate change on the world wide declining sea turtle population I discovered after publishing this piece. The "saving sea turtles one nest at a time" appeared in a NYTimes Nov. edition, video runs about 5 mins. with a brief introductory commercial.

A few months ago my daughter sent me photos of newly hatched baby turtles racing for their lives to the Atlantic Ocean's protection. Airborne predators were circling above their South Carolina beach sand covered nest and pathway but were discouraged from attacking by human presence. Once the hatchlings were in the water other unseen sea creatures with which they would later have to contend were probably present awaiting to confront these naive innocents. Or, do you suppose they're genetically predisposed to instinctively know danger awaits them there?

My daughter and granddaughter happened on the end of the scurrying turtle babes exodus from their nest describing all this to me. The only short video they were able to make is at the end of this piece. The other videos depicting the activity I selected from the Internet.

I think this must be an exciting event to witness happening. I've always been intrigued watching baby chicks emerge from their eggs as well as piglets, puppies, kittens and other animals birthing. I was motivated to view some baby turtle YouTube videos I enjoyed and will share a few here.

When the baby turtles begin to hatch from their eggs, then leave the nest the activity is referred to as "boiling."

Here's a short video of one baby hatching that reportedly took over 20 minutes to escape the egg.

The baby turtles receive care and assist of individuals designated to help protect the various endangered species as can be seen in one of the videos. Enabling survival of turtles along those east coast areas is an organized activity in which designated coastal residents and other regular residential visitors engage. The adult female returns yearly to perpetuate the species. These little hatchlings who survive will return here to lay their eggs. This is why it is so important they be allowed to struggle from their nest, through the sand and across the treacherous beach imprinting the pathway in their brains for their return trip when adults.

Loggerhead Sea Turtles -- official reptile of South Carolina -- protected as an endangered species.

I recall seeing a television program years ago documenting ocean turtles challenges for survival, their mothers nesting, laying of eggs and the little ones cycle to adulthood. The Pacific Ocean's Green Sea Turtle is also endangered. My memory from that program is still haunted by the vision of sea gulls, frigate birds swooping down from the sky to grab in their talons these tiny defenseless baby turtles plodding as fast as their little legs could carry them toward the ocean's waters.

This is one of the helpers my daughter's short video shows trying to keep the hatchling from being washed back on the beach.

I've never observed this fascinating turtle event, but perhaps some of you who live near the ocean locations, vacation, or visit turtle nesting sites have.

Sunday, November 29, 2009

Route 66 Ends at Santa Monica Pier

Santa Monica Pier is now the official end of historic U.S. Route 66, originally established November 11, 1926. Finally, this highway made famous in song by Nat “King” Cole ends directly at the Pacific Ocean where unofficially many have presumed the highway terminated anyway.

Here’s a short ABC News video account noting the recent Route 66 events of November 11, 2009 at Santa Monica Pier.

The road from Chicago to L.A. has been variously known as the humorist Will Rogers Highway, colloquially as the "Main Street of America" or the "Mother Road" in John Steinbeck’s novel "Grapes of Wrath." This was the road taken by migrants traveling West “including those escaping the devastation of the drought’s “Dust Bowl” in the 1930’s.

I wrote earlier about "Route 66, Music, Memories" including a video of Nat Cole’s vocal solo backed by his musicians. An additional video features a years later recording of the vocal group Manhattan Transfer’s popular arrangement made about the highway. This link is a Rolling Stones version for those who might enjoy a rock arrangement. Maybe it’s just a matter of my personal music tastes, but after listening to several Stones YouTube versions I concluded their arrangements, instrumentation and sound quality hardly did justice to Bobby Troup’s tune. Maybe the first arrangement we ever hear of a song somehow influences our preferences whoever is the performer. You may be the judge.

A 1960’s television series named Route 66 caught the viewing public’s fancy for a few years. Here’s Nelson Riddle’s memorable recording of the shows musical theme.

The "Route 66" TV series made television history by being shot on location entirely. Ironically few scenes were ever shot on the actual U.S. Highway 66 which is so typical of reality in TV series and movies. The show’s seriousness in the beginning focused on pertinent issues of the time that often had political implications. CBS network executives reportedly were concerned about the potential adverse effects on viewership such thought stimulating episodes could have and wanted the show to add more “broads, bosoms, and fun.” Finally acquiescing to network demands the producers “introduced young female guest stars such as Tuesday Weld and Suzanne Pleshette” Another such young actress, Inger Stevens can be seen in this nine minute video of the first of her two appearances on the show.

The person posting this YouTube video noted he was doing so as a tribute including to older TV series “…in the best interest of Fair Use…” He added his intent was to bring new appreciation for the talents of Inger Stevens whose death was untimely.

Series stars Martin Milner portrayed Tod and George Maharis was Buzz. Milner is retired, still lives in Southern California. There’s quite an extensive Route 66 blog with comments as recent as September 2009 specifically about Maharis for anyone interested in reading more. Several writers reported their positive experiences having personal contact with him, including a woman who worked for him for about a year and another individual identified herself as having written about him on Wikipedia.

I enjoyed that television series. We didn't drive a Corvette, but my husband and I did share enthusiasm for short to long cross country driving trips. He traveled all of Route 66 years before we met. Years later we drove the historic route's highway segments that were still open.

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Weekend Jinx Before Thanksgiving

This piece was written before I experienced the most recent malfunction that peaked last night with my laptop. Previous and current blog comments, along with some other computing functions are affected. I’m unable to access my comments and don’t know whether or not visitors are able to comment now. Some of this may or may not be associated with occasional blog comment troll corruption the past two weeks. Hope to resolve before weekend over.


Have you ever noticed that if any appliance or utility is going to breakdown or malfunction the occurrence is almost always on a weekend, close to a holiday or special celebratory occasion, if not actually on that very day?

I can recount numerous instances when that has occurred, including a Thanksgiving Day years ago when the guest bathroom commode overflowed. In the kitchen we were busily preparing our dinner feast so didn't welcome this distraction. Makes me wonder if I’m the only one to whom these crazy-making disruptions happen, or if some how I’m jinxed?

This current event was one of those jinxes designed to upset a weekend just before another Thanksgiving holiday. I was convinced that not only was I slated to face a physically uncomfortable weekend or longer without heat, but that I could likely expect resolving the problem would result in major furnace repair costs. How disappointing to much later discover I brought this all on myself. I can’t blame the equipment, an incompetent service person, some other household member, or even a pet.

The work week had not been exempted from requiring my involvement in emotionally filled situations with patients and family members. They were necessarily having to make major life changing decisions limited by choices, none of which were desirable. I welcomed the week ending.

Finally, on my way home I made a brief stop to purchase some fresh vegetables and fruit featured at one of my local farmers market type grocery stores. My mouth salivating from the colorful food’s visual stimulation, I was primed for dinner and spending the remainder of the evening engaged in mentally relaxing activities. First I would wind down with PBS financial reports followed by national and International news, then Bill Moyer’s habitual thought provoking weekly program.

I had long since perused the now quite old news from my daily newspapers delivered to my driveway about 5 A.M. early that morning. Even then their news was old, but I still enjoy holding a newspaper in my hands, scanning the pages, sometimes settling in to read more in depth some respected writer’s perspective about some issue. What grabs my attention lately are the ongoing investigations into monies paid to individuals associated with our California Public Employees Retirement (PERS) pension plan investments. I read with disgust some more excessive consulting monies being paid, financial greed going on, as some other cities, counties and States have discovered within their own similar pension plans, but I digress.

My default mode in many instances when I bypass reading, television, other activities is to seek my computer’s screen and keyboard. That night I violated my commitment to myself to go to bed at a reasonable hour, meaning before midnight, or at least right after Charlie Rose’s PBS TV show ended at 12:30 A.M. but I finally retired. When I awakened much later Saturday morning I delighted in lounging in bed, then performing my regular exercises and listening to L.A.’s one remaining all news radio station, KNX. Instantly, I hear the latest local, national and international news including sports headlines, weather and freeway driving conditions. If I want more in depth information on any story, I make note and can refer later to the Internet.

Another radio conveniently located in my bathroom is perpetually tuned to National Public Radio (NPR) allowing me to enjoy their fare on every visit. I’m inclined to believe I listen to this station more since I’ve gotten older. I don’t think it’s my imagination that I perceive myself taking more frequent excursions to this increasingly popular room in my house and lingering there longer. A couple more radios in other rooms, including one old-fashioned dial radio that also plays cassette tapes, allows me to extend whatever program fare I might choose to follow further when I leave those back rooms.

Saturdays and Sundays KNX airs two special several hour long shows, portions of which I occasionally hear. The first program is a call-in cooking show conducted by former caterer, Melinda Lee. Everything you might ever want to know and information you might never have thought of to ask is discussed either by her, call-in listeners or on her web site. She almost makes me want to cook some previously untried by me foods as a consequence of the serious but fun manner in which they’re discussed. I wish she had been on the air years ago when I was cooking more.

Her program is followed by “Make It Work” with Jeremy Anticouni and Tim Conway, Jr offering the latest tech news, other technical information and support with their on-air program and after-the-show webinar (that’s a live listener participation Internet interaction.)

Lolling in bed debating with myself about when I would arise, I began to notice my bedroom felt much colder than usual. This realization occurred somewhere in the middle of Melinda Lee’s resolving one home cooks concerns about how to prepare sweet potato fries prior to Thanksgiving Day and another caller’s query about what kitchen pan could be used to bake some fancy concoction since he didn’t have the exact one specified in the recipe. The remainder of her show and that of Jeremy’s and Tim’s became background commentary for me as my actions necessarily began focusing on the house heating question.

I slid out of bed, slipped on some shoes, walked across the room to stand beneath the wall register situated above the master bath doorway. My arm reached upward with outstretched fingers to just above the register’s edge. Yes! There was air coming out, but it felt rather cool. I turned and walked out into the hallway to the thermostat (without my reading glasses) but could determine the temperature was heading toward 60 degrees, lower than where I had it automatically set to turn on. I moved the thermostat settings to jog any possible interior mechanisms sticking, but detected no appreciable change in the furnace function.

A few years ago I elected to keep my semi-automatic thermostat when our son offered to install a new completely automatic digital unit shortly after his Dad died. I just remember hastily thinking I don’t want anything new, nothing changed until I can become more familiar with the status quo. Now, I was thinking, I should have let my son put in that new unit, as I bent my head slightly to check the settings for first the air conditioning and then the heat. I squinted my eyes to better see those small printed words. Even though they weren’t clearly visible the settings on each seemed to be appropriate. A few trips back and forth to feel the register air, then alter the thermostat A/C and heat settings, listening to the furnace sounds confirmed no change, no heat.

I opened the door to the furnace closet immediately noticing the chart my husband had drawn and placed inside the door to track the permanent filter cleaning record. Uh oh! I had forgotten all about that little cleaning task these past six months. I had broken my very efficient upkeep record established since assuming that new filter care responsibility from my husband those few years ago. Surely, the filter couldn’t be so dirty as to prevent any warm air, but what did I know, maybe it was possible. Nothing to do but clean that filter now.

Hastily returning to the bedroom I pulled a sloppy-looking pair of knit slacks on over my pajama bottoms, grabbed an everyday wear fleece jacket I put on over the P.J. top and headed back to the furnace. Out came the filter with my usual struggle after reminding myself which of the furnace door fronts had to be removed first in order to remove the other one. I double-checked for the arrows presence on the filter frame’s end so I’d be sure to re-install the unit proper side down later and know which side to penetrate with spraying water when I cleaned it.

The not unusually dirty-looking filter and I went outside where I immediately turned on a water hose forcefully spraying the cleansing force all through that filter. I was really hurrying because the time was now 2 p.m. The sun was out, but would be falling off the horizon’s edge all too soon after being hidden much of the previous hours after I had awakened for my expected leisurely day. Once the sun is out of sight, the outdoor air becomes increasingly colder and my filter’s drying time might not be sufficient, I knew.

Unable to stimulate my furnace to produce heat I decided a call to those who installed our unit was the next step. Considering this was a weekend, probably they wouldn’t be available for service until the first of the coming week. I knew we were predicted to have some cooler temperatures this weekend, ones that would normally cause me to want to take the edge off with some heat indoors, especially at night.

Having grown up in the Mid West I was well-acquainted with fall chills and winter’s truly cold freezing below zero climate. After almost forty years in the southwest and southern California I have become acclimated and more sensitive to temperatures I once wouldn’t have thought of as very cold. The temperatures I could expect without heat this weekend until service repair people could come would be considered a lovely warm winter day in traditional colder climes, but not quite so for me anymore. So, I reconciled myself that with heavier clothing layers, an extra bed blanket or two I could be quite comfortable without furnace heat. Consequently, I concluded I might as well wait a while to call the furnace repair men or the gas company.

About three hours later the sun was gone from the sky, the outdoor and inside air was decidedly becoming much cooler, so any further fast filter drying time was past. I examined my furnace filter noticing only the slightest darkened color indicating moisture residue at one frame corner’s bottom edge. I determined the filter was mostly dry enough and returned the now clean product to it’s permanent furnace resting place where it now belonged.

Furnace doors replaced, closet closed, I turned to look one more time at the thermostat, thinking that I should try starting the furnace one last time just in case the filter’s cleanliness state actually had the power to prevent heat blowing through. This time, the hallway was just enough darker I sought a small flashlight to shed a little light on what I was doing, and picked up a nearby pair of my reading glasses.

What a surprise was in store for me with my visual perception enhanced! The heat setting was off, out of place by one mark. Once I set the thermostat correctly, put the desired temperature marker in place, this caused the furnace to not only turn on as it always had before, but enabled the blower to fully emit warm air. I’m still not sure what exactly happened, because the furnace was providing heat periodically as needed all this Fall. I had definitely awakened some mornings to the luxury of warmth.

I do recall a week or so ago a too warm room one wee hours morning. I, apparently, had forgotten to turn the heat down before I went to bed, so I stumbled from the bed half-awake to adjust the thermostat setting without my reading glasses. I can’t be sure, but believe there is a distinct possibility this is when I may have set in motion the events that disrupted my day.

I have learned that I better use my reading glasses and even a flashlight anytime I decide to adjust the furnace thermostat. Most importantly to me since we’re having consistently Southern California-cold nighttime temperatures, I do have heat and didn’t need to hire a repair person. Also, my furnace filter received a needed long-overdue cleaning. I’ll add the filter-cleaning task to my written calendar schedule now instead of assuming I’ll remember to do so every month or two.

I remember wanting to purchase an extra permanent filter when we had these high energy saving combination A/C and furnace units installed, but my husband insisted that wasn’t necessary. I think if the filter wouldn’t be dry enough to re-install sometime after cleaning, a spare on hand might be wise. I still like that idea, or maybe I can just use a disposable filter as a spare, so think I’ll look into those possibilities. Hm-m-m! Next time my son visits, I think I’ll allow him to install a new fully automatic digital thermostat, or maybe I’ll undertake the job myself.

♥ Hope you’re all enjoying your favorite holiday foods,
are toasty warm as I am. ♥

Sunday, November 22, 2009

Spirits & Simple Tech

Earlier this week I was with a group of young to older aged friends, all seated around a table, turn-taking reading aloud as we listened to each individual’s original written prose, poetry, and plays. During that experience we share the broad spectrum of feelings associated with accounts of real life experiences, and fictionalized stories. The reading content ranges from serious drama through ridiculous farce, satire with the humor bringing forth subtle chuckles, broad smiles, and deep stomach-aching laughter.

This particular evening we began to notice a periodic brief faint chiming sound. This erratically repeating tone interspersed with long pauses between the chimes eventually caused us to begin focusing on determining the source. One of our number commented this could be a communication directed to her from a loved one who she discerned entered a different dimension long ago, but has followed her about during the ensuing years.

A small grand piano situated 10to12 feet away from us in an open adjoining room was suggested by another friend to possibly be the communicator’s instrument. We all maintained an open curious mind in deference to anyone present who readily attributes these sort of unusual immediately unexplainable events to more mysterious ethereal causes. We continued our activity with one ear attuned to listening for another chime. Not long after we heard that chime and just as we thought there would be no more an additional faint chime was heard.

Noticing a four-legged furry creature suddenly scurrying about the room there was some speculation this elegant resident and active cat might have ventured into the piano’s interior, possibly flipping it’s tail or using a paw in such a manner as to strum one of the strings. We all agreed the cat could cause the musical sound with that scenario.

This prompted story-telling time as some began relating tales of cat accomplishments including felines learning to use a commode, and actually being able to flush the unit, skills usually reserved for humans. I recalled a delightfully funny video a musician friend sent of a cat perched on a piano stool, reaching out with a paw to play individual white and black piano keys, cocking its head from one side to the other, very aware of cause and effect, quite intrigued with the differing musical sounds being produced.

A short time passed during which the cat in our midst was also in our sight, no where near the piano, and we were aware of exactly what he was doing – throwing his toy into the air and making a flying leap capturing it in flight. Suddenly, the magical tone chimed exonerating the cat, but leaving some of us who were seeking logical scientific explanations even more perplexed. A couple others seemed quite satisfied there likely wasn’t any such explanation.

Our increasing interest in locating the chiming sound source escalated as this mysterious tone persisted. In an afterthought I reached for my purse sitting on the floor by my chair situated closest to the piano room and next to the person who believed her other worldly relative probably was trying to communicate with her. Simultaneously, as I was extracting my relatively new, unfamiliar cell phone from my purses exterior side pocket the little black rectangle cried out a now familiar chime signaling the battery was low. We all experienced and “Aha!” moment, perhaps feeling a mixture of relief, reassurance and maybe even a little disappointment there actually had been a logical explanation accounting for this mysterious sound.

I cradled my dear little possession in my hands, promised I would reinvigorate it’s life when we returned home if only it would quiet. I gently handed it across the table to the middle aged male tech-employed expert who took one short look, punched a key or two, handed the crying phone back saying he didn’t know how to turn it off. Once again in my grasp, I just kept pushing that “End” button and suddenly with one loud musical gasp the screen went black, the musical spirit to temporary sleep.

I guess I’m long overdue to take time to read the complex operational “quick” book and even the much longer master guide. I always used to religiously read operational books and instructions for everything I purchased. In the beginning with the advent of digital I continued to do so with clocks, radios, portable phones, answering machines, coffeemakers, microwave ovens, CD players, VCR and DVD players.

I wonder if the day will ever come when there will be more standardization in the digital tech world, or maybe we’ll all prefer there not be and we’ll each have a broad choice of same but different items from which we can select.

In recent years I’ve been challenged by our old sprinkler watering systems -- two-same-but-different ones. Then I’ve begun to notice with the washing machine, dryer, regular/convection oven, digital camera, old cell phone and even more so this new cell phone, the greater complexity and size of these “how to use” instructional books. They come close to being epistle length, are often not that clearly written, are either too concise or not specific enough, and skip some of the very basic basics for newbie users like me. Some may have contradictory directions and use language often subject to different interpretations, much like that about which many groups argue over politics, religion and philosophy.

My approach to using some of this technology has frequently become one of resorting to personal operational trial and error. I combine my actions with referencing these technical bibles for a specific answer needed at the time, instead of trying to understand and be able perform every function before I use the item. Integrating the myriad functions gradually into my knowledge base seems to work best for my “how to” retention.

Soon after I began using the computer a few years ago and shortly after my husband’s death a tech friend of his/ours recommended to me a book titled “The Laws of Simplicity.” He had come in contact with the author described in this Harvard Book Store “Scholarly Highlights” interview feature “…John Maeda is a world-renowned graphic designer, visual artist, and computer scientist at the MIT Media Lab, and is a founding voice for "simplicity" in the digital age.”

I enthusiastically purchased a copy and even had one sent to a technology-interested friend. Disappointingly, I never learned of that person’s reaction or opinion of the book’s contents but I never pressed when I didn’t receive a response. I have on rare occasion sent relatively inexpensive books to select friends, but have concluded in recent years to discontinue that practice, or, at least to be more selective about to whom they’re sent.

After I read this thin short book which incorporates the authors wonder, recognition, and descriptive accounting when he notices the simplicity associated with the behaviors of his young child, I have been particularly interested in a reaction to the book’s contents from some other person I know with a background other than my own.

The reason I say that is, my therapy intervention training is steeped in simplification, breaking down actions, behaviors into the most basic steps and then simplifying them even more, if possible. Educators also would likely note effective teaching methods, acquiring new skills in any profession or job setting are most successful when they approach new information building from the simple to the complex. Certainly that has been the case in all other employment business settings I’ve experienced or in which others I’ve known have engaged.

So, when I read this book primarily directed at a variety of technically oriented professions I was intrigued that they required prodding to simplify, that such an admonition from one of their own within their circle of expertise was reportedly regarded as having enlightened them with such a profoundly new insight, or maybe he was just reminding them of something they already knew, or should know.

These impressionable readers are the highly intelligent engineers I respect who design all of this equipment that continues to become prevalent in ever-expanding areas of our lives. The readers also include many of the graphic artists, computer scientists such as this author John Maeda and other creators, professionally related technicians from whom we seek technical answers when our complex machines, tools, soft and hardware programs breakdown, malfunction, or just go kaflooey (or as the Spanish say, kontera.)

I was quite surprised to read accounts this book had such a significant impact on their thinking. I have labored under the false perception most of my life that simplicity was just the nature of things, guiding most of us in just about everything. I can only hope all those who continue to create the future technical innovations we’re all going to be using at least remember John Maeda’s message and follow his laws of simplicity.

Better yet, maybe they should remember how a patient, former career military man, once paraphrased my genteel carefully worded instructions to him for producing more intelligible speech:
He said, “Oh, you mean KISS!”
My puzzled response was: “What?”
He replied, “You know! Keep It Simple Stupid.” :

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Same Name Awkwardness

I feel awkward and uncomfortable calling by name friends and acquaintances who have the same first name, or nickname as my own. I don’t know why that is. Many years ago I was writing one such same-named person an emotionally filled out-pouring of thoughts and feelings. We were both experiencing difficult times in our lives for quite different reasons, but had become intimately familiar with the nature of each others individual issues. Responding to my letter she replied, “I hope you know you’re writing to yourself.”

She was an English professor whose teaching included conducting writing classes, so I thought she likely knew about writing in ways I did not. I was quite startled by her analysis since I never once realized this aspect in the words I wrote her. I couldn’t help wondering at the time if simply starting the letter with her name (“my name,”) coupled with the intimacy of our friendship, knowing each others families so well, had sent me off into this self-writing mode she perceived.

I always meant to talk with her about the whys, wherefores and significance of such writing. Later years when she visited from out of state there were much more current matters to share and that letter exchange had long since been forgotten. She unexpectedly died pre-maturely several years ago, though much younger than me, so that conversation will never take place.

Her full first name, quite different than mine, was used when we were first introduced. I didn’t know for some time that others called her by a shortened version of her name that was the same as “my name.” I tried using our shared short name a few times but uttering “my name” as though it was hers felt awkward, so I reverted to using her full first name as I always had. She was the first person, friend, acquaintance or co-worker with whom I shared that common name until a few years ago.

Tonight I received an email from that new person/co-worker known by the informal shortened name close friends and associates use with me. She was part of our company before I joined them, so had seniority rights to continue being called by that name – “my name.” I was designated to be called by my more formal full length name that is generally used only by those with whom I don’t have such a close personal relationship. Even after all these years, my full name used in this company situation continues to sound strange to my ears when they address me, considering I know these individuals so well.

As unusual as this may sound, I somehow don’t feel quite as close to these people when they speak my name. Consciously, unintentionally, they just seem to be a bit more distant to me on some level. I doubt that they feel that way, and I don’t understand why I am so subtly aware of this perceptual difference within myself -- just seems to be that way.

Interesting what slight insignificant events can trigger other memories such as this one.

Maybe such a subtle name reaction is unique to me, but I wonder if others are ever aware of perceiving feelings such as this, or what they do sense when addressing another person sharing their same first name?

Sunday, November 15, 2009

Our Nation's Dilemmas

Our nation is facing numerous dilemmas including, but not limited to:

-- how best to provide all our citizens health care while reducing the system's overall costs.

-- how best to extricate our nation's military troops from Afghanistan while successfully combating terrorism and reducing war's overall costs.

A lively discussion on these topics has been taking place at "Rainy Day Thoughts." I have periodically been contributing comments of my own there. A recent post there, "Health Care or Afghanistan" with the most recent one focused on the issue of U.S. military troops in Afghanistan. I wrote at such length as I sometimes am prone to do in comments on others blogs, I concluded I should probably just post these thoughts here.

The Taliban is not going away. They will regroup as they always have for generations. An American citizen former Afghan in our community explained the history of that group soon after we attacked Iraq.

I came to conclude he understood the situation better than any U.S. government officials, so-called experts and others that I've ever heard expound on the subject. He explained the history of the whole region and that of the Taliban's coming into being -- how their strength has always ebbed and flowed.

His grandfather was, reportedly, a highly respected War Lord compared to some of lesser repute. His father served in the Afghan government. When the Russians came into the country this now-former Afghan was allowed to attend the Afghan Air Force Academy, later trained in Russia. Then Russia was eventually replaced with the U.S. This now-pilot was brought to this country to train, then U.S. pulled out of Afghan. He stayed on becoming an American citizen, eventually successful businessman in our community.

He described how the Taliban has always stepped in to establish order with many Afghan people welcoming them as the lesser of evils -- when the country repeatedly disintegrates into chaos vs some sort of structure, and/or they are faced with "occupiers" of their country and they unite to eject them as they did the Russians.

This former-Afghan has just gone to Afghanistan for a year ostensibly to establish a business per a recent article in our local paper (available in the Claremont Courier recent archives with a fee or subscription.)

We can't undo the failure of the previous administration to aggressively go after Bin Laden in Afghanistan. They seemed too busy with avenging Saddam's years earlier attack on our then-President's daddy (who was our President during the Kuwait War.) They created a nightmare based on lies, betrayed this countries ideals based on the false premise of defending our nation, and have blood on their hands. Maybe we would ultimately have had to attack Iraq from Afghanistan, but we'll never know. We do know not enough focus was placed on capturing Bin Laden in Afghanistan. Pakistan was then and increasingly is now a problem.

Meanwhile, Bin Laden must be laughing in his lair at how our countries leaders fell into his trap and our nation has reaped greater inner destruction than his wildest dreams.

We have a true "catch 22" with Afghanistan and whatever choice we make will not be the correct one. Meanwhile the blood of our young people flows as does that of many innocent Afghanistan people.

Sunday, November 08, 2009

Health Care Passes House -- Senate Next

U.S. House of Representatives has passed the health care bill. Next the Senate must do the same, reconciling their bill with the House bill.

I think our Congresspersons should stay in session all the rest of this year, if need be, so they can complete a citizens assignment to get a bill to President Obama for signature by December 31, 2009.

Happens in business quite frequently where special projects require employees to work long hours, days, even weekends sometimes, for successive weeks to meet a deadline. Our Congresspersons have postponed addressing the health care issue for years and years, so an end of the year deadline is not unreasonable now, finally. If our Senators and Representatives really concentrate, don't waste time with political blather, posturing,and game-playing, maybe they can be home for the holidays, or sooner. That's an incentive employees in business often are given.

Representatives and Senators work for us. We need to let them know we're way past the point of tolerating their "business as usual" approach to legislation important to us -- we mean business! Each of us has power with our vote that can affect whether or not they are re-elected come Election Day.

Here's a refresher course describing Congressional bills evolution from birth to realization. This is the process I recall learning from Jr. High/High School civics/government classes.

A Congressperson writes a bill or receives one written by a lobbyist that is then presented to Committee for consideration. If the proposed bill garners Committee passage it can then be presented to that Congressperson's House or Senate membership. Wikipedia effectively provides the following description beginning with a bill in Committee:

"A decision not to report a bill amounts to a rejection of the proposal. Both houses provide for procedures under which the committee can be bypassed or overruled, but they are rarely used. If reported by the committee, the bill reaches the floor of the full house. The house may debate and amend the bill; the precise procedures used by the House of Representatives and the Senate differ. A final vote on the bill follows.

"Once a bill is approved by one house, it is sent to the other, which may pass, reject, or amend it. In order for the bill to become law, both houses must agree to identical versions of the bill. If the second house amends the bill, then the differences between the two versions must be reconciled in a conference committee, an ad hoc committee that includes both senators and representatives. In many cases, conference committees have introduced substantial changes to bills and added unrequested spending, significantly departing from both the House and Senate versions. President Ronald Reagan once quipped, "If an orange and an apple went into conference consultations, it might come out a pear."[23] If both houses agree to the version reported by the conference committee, the bill passes; otherwise, it fails.

"After passage by both houses, a bill is submitted to the President. The President may choose to sign the bill, thereby making it law. The President may also choose to veto the bill, returning it to Congress with his objections. In such a case, the bill only becomes law if each house of Congress votes to override the veto with a two-thirds majority. Finally, the President may choose to take no action, neither signing nor vetoing the bill. In such a case, the Constitution states that the bill automatically becomes law after ten days, excluding Sundays. However, if Congress adjourns (ends a legislative session) during the ten day period, then the bill does not become law. Thus, the President may veto legislation passed at the end of a congressional session simply by ignoring it; the maneuver is known as a pocket veto, and cannot be overridden by the adjourned Congress."

Saturday, November 07, 2009

Congress Listen -- Americans Want Change!

Congressional Senators, Representatives -- are you listening?

The American people are angry!

The American people want change, Change, CHANGE!

We don’t care to which political party you’ve given your allegiance, since both major parties have been betraying the American people through too many Administrations.

We don’t like much of what you’ve done for many years, regardless of the political party in power, or who is President.

We don’t like much of what you’ve NOT DONE for many years, either, including allowing our health care and social security systems to flounder without taking truly meaningful measures to ensure their solvency.

We don’t reject the idea of jettisoning both major political parties for a third party committed to the American people over the special interests you’ve come primarily to represent.

We don’t like what you’re doing now to protect the commercial interests over the interests of the individual in the instance of health care reform.

We don’t like the fact that all American citizens will not have health insurance.

We don’t like that many of you ignore the fact the majority of American citizens want a public option in our health care reform.

We don’t like the fact so many of you are determined to provide for-profit insurers more money by requiring citizens buy insurance from those companies rather than providing a truly viable competitive public option choice.

We don’t like the fact you’re not willing to make available an affordable health care plan to all American citizens such as we offer you.

We don’t like the fact some of you made an effort to hoodwink us into believing adding a “trigger” to a healthcare plan was an effective helpful addition rather than the meaningless proposal it was.

We don’t like all the campaign contribution $monies$ you receive from for-profit insurance and pharmaceutical companies with the unsavory implications that behavior suggests.
(Readers, check on “Open Secrets” the $$$$ your Representative(s) and Senator(s) have received.)

We don’t like the fact that financial markets self-policing regulating authorities did not do their job leading to banks, investment houses, other institutions dissolving and little has since been done to correct that situation.

We don’t like the fact that through the years government regulations were eliminated contributing mightily to the financial markets collapsing debacle.

We don’t like the fact that what market and government financial regulations did exist were not enforced.

We don’t like the fact that meaningful regulations are not now being established for both our banking industry and the financial markets.

We don’t like the fact that financial insiders from the previous Administration literally gave away our tax money to the financial world which the current Administration enabled while individual citizens continue to receive little or no benefit.

We don’t like the fact our tax monies were given to all those banking corporate entities without requiring accountability.

We don’t like the fact so many years went by and so little was done to address the critical issues surrounding climate change.

We don’t like the fact that even now select energy commercial interests are being promoted by many of you under the guise of responsiveness to climate change, despite knowing those companies products are detrimental to citizens health.

We don’t like the implication you do not respect American citizens strongly expressed views as evidenced when you disregard us.

Quite frankly, there are many more actions you've taken, or non-actions, that we don’t like, but I’ll let others describe those here or elsewhere.

Wednesday, November 04, 2009

Enjoyable Blogs Part 2

"Grammology" with Dorothy offers a variety of topics about family, parenting, travel, health and career from “Gramma’s” perspective. Earlier this month she elicited comments from readers as to whether or not they planned to take the flu, pneumonia shots and get vaccinated for the H1N1 Swine flu. She wrote about her husband’s hip surgery and the same day having a grandchild born. Coping with even one of these events alone can be quite enough I would think, but we aren’t given those choices.

Currently Gramm shares some thoughts about happiness in relation to our personal self-esteem. Earlier pieces have her waxing philosophical at times wondering about taking time to enjoy the moment. She engages in questions regarding our young teenagers relationships, how they view love and sex. For those of us interested in the ideas, beliefs of the younger generation today, especially if we have grandchildren, or want to compare current thinking to our own childrens views and our own, a topic such as this can be very informative. I’m always interested in what’s the same and what’s different with other people, other generations, other cultures from my own perspective.

This blog has had visits from me periodically for a long time, so needs to join my blogroll.

"gabbygeezer" is the moniker former newspaper editor Dick Klade has adopted. I’ve always had a pretty negative view of “geezer” term usage applied to males. It has always conjured a picture in my mind of a less than respectable really old man. Perhaps it’s another of those stereotyped words and I need to view the term in a much lighter, even humorous vein. Reading his profile he certainly sounds respectable enough, has written a couple of books, not that book writing automatically makes one respectable. He describes the contents of one of his books as featuring stories much like those he writes for publishing on his blog.

My interest in reading more of what he writes was captured when I clicked on the 2006 Archive button and read the July 12th post, "Give Yourself A Proper Sendoff," I’ve decided what he proposes is the way to prepare “…for life’s last great journey” as he candidly words it. I highly recommend you click your way over to Dick’s blog, read that post. Furthermore, I think we all might want to consider writing for ourselves as he did for himself – sort of our last blog and testament.

Dick is a blogger who has more than a passing interest in the Green Bay Packers football team, but then living in Wisconsin I shouldn’t expect less. You’ll find a few blog pieces about his Packers as he examines their current woes. His last piece, as I write this, raises concern over a one-time favored Packer player who returns home now playing for their arch rival’s team. The score is in on that game, so I wonder what Dick will have to say on that matter?

Those Packer fans are never lacking in passion for their football team. After all, the town’s residents own the team, as my football fan husband explained to me years ago. The town’s whole population are avid Packer supporters. I recall in the early sixties a young Green Bay couple we met at a southern Ohio university. The fortunes of the then invincible Packer team was uppermost in their minds and conversation throughout the season. Better that you read for yourselves in one of his earlier pieces what Dick has written about the Packer’s and Green Bay resident’s $$ investments than my trying to explain.

“Grapplin’ with Gremlins” Oct. 15th Dick poses some interesting observations he’s noticed between keyboarding type on a computer screen and “print appearing in ink on paper.” It is a puzzle and one about which I hadn’t thought before. I expect he might be interested in knowing whether or not any of you reading this have been aware of what he reports observing. So, click over their and share your opinion.

"First 50 Words" is the blog where Virginia DeBolt introduces written ideas, generally accompanied by thought provoking pictures, inviting readers to “Write the first 50 words of your story in a comment.” I find writing limited to 50 words to be an enjoyable experience since I try to rigidly adhere to that number. No doubt more serious writers use this blog as a stimulating writing exercise, with some even developing complete stories from their created beginning. I’ve considered continuing some of my own offerings after I leave there, and may well do that some day.

Some of the more interesting recent writing prompts there are accompanied by a variety of photos, faces most of us would recognize. Take a look, you might be motivated to write about “A Beautiful Woman,” or a “A Handsome Man.” Then, there’s “Happy,” “Sad,” “Honey.” I’ll bet we could all write an interesting story on “Customer Service, “ or how about “Twirl,” – that could send our thoughts circling in a dance. Here are a couple of the most recent topics, “Crane,” and the humorous idea “The Cat Set Back.”

I started visiting this blog periodically soon after I started my own blog. I don’t know what has taken me so long to add "First 50 Words" to my blog roll. Yes, this is the same Virginia, the "TGB Elder Geek" who simplifies ‘computer technical stuff’ you’ll find in her posts listed there.

There are other blogs whose writers I enjoy reading. Eventually, I’ll add them. One bookmarked blog grouping has been erroneously deleted when we cleaned my desktop P.C. and set up my laptop. One such blogger whose link I lost drew story pictures frame by frame recounting events. Perhaps in the future I’ll find some of them in the blogosphere again.

Sunday, November 01, 2009

Enjoyable Blog Varieties

Here are a few enjoyable blog varieties that I've placed on my blogroll with more to be added later. These are receiving some long overdue recognition here. They are randomly listed with no significance to their order.

'Elder Music' with Peter Tibbles appears as a regular feature on “Time Goes By” (a blog already listed here.) You might want to visit there if you’ve been missing his Sunday musical features. He has been a radio disc jockey becoming familiar with all genres’ of music as you’ll read in his profile. I note he is on Facebook, but I don’t believe he has a blog. I’m sure he’ll welcome comments on TGB, or any you want to leave him here.

(Correction added following Peter's comment here -- he is NOT on Facebook. Sorry, my mistake, Peter.)

Peter’s ‘Elder Music’ posts generally include music audio/videos such as his recent “Classical Again – Part 2 of 3.” He interestingly integrates little-known facts about the composers, music and performers. His earlier writings with music have focused on “Fifties EPs,” “Pop Music Through The Years,” and “Some Jazz.” Unusual music groupings include “Songs You Love To Hate.” He also offers “Australian Pop” allowing us to experience music tastes of another nation some of which are the same as our own. I expect we can continue to look forward to more entertaining music Sundays with Peter. You might want to check some of his earlier music offerings at 'Elder Music.' if you’ve missed any of them.

You’ll note some other 'Elder Music' listings, too, with commentary written by TGB’s Ronni Bennett including titles like: “Cat Songs,” “Dog Songs.” “Old TV Tunes,” “Happy Music” and some all time favorites written by “Johnny Mercer.” Cowtown Pattie at “Texas Trifles” even provides an enthusiastic offering of “Texas Tunes.”

"Xtreme English" writes “love notes to the English language.” Avid readers, especially elders, will appreciate her profile note you’ll want to be sure to see. Her blog writing offers some serious thoughts with a sometimes humorous undertone – often of incredulity when it comes to our nation and the world functioning sanely, or is it insanely? Consider her recent post, “Yup, that’s what we need all right, more WAR we can’t pay for.”

I was especially intrigued with her October 2nd piece “Things to Think About” with “TED” video. She features some really delightful classical music on several subsequent posts. One, includes a true story of our times about an extremely talented well-known celebrity musician and his musical performance experience in a Washington, D. C. Metro Station.

This is another blog I have enjoyed during my sometimes erratic blog visiting travels. Finally, I’m adding her to my blog roll. I know it’s a cliché’ and writers are supposed to avoid using them, but ….. better late than never.

"Cyberspace Dawdler" by Alan G. has come to my attention more recently. I’ve enjoyed my visits there which all started, as best I can recall now, with a discussion about fish. To be more precise, carp. A link Alan G. provided led me to a fascinating story about a particular type of carp that can be deadly to fisherman with it’s wild leaping out of the water – grass carp. He actually caught one, and lived to tell about it! You best read the true fish story: 'Hello, Catfish' posted Sept. 26.

Fishing isn’t all Alan G. does, he writes songs. He is a musician, after all, so he's written an original piece or two. Inspiration comes in many ways, so you must read another of his true stories about how 'The Tomato Song' (posted Oct. 7th) came to be.

Fishing and being a musician isn’t all he’s ever done since he’s also had “a real job” like every self-respecting musician I’ve ever known (not counting the mega-stars) usually says. You can read about all that on his "Cyberspace Dawdler."

Getting back to some of his other blog posts…..these titles intrigued me:
'How naïve were you waaaaay back then…..?'(posted Oct. 23.) Time is the fifties, there were words we didn’t say and finger gestures we did not do, if we were nice. I had lots of laughs reading Alan’s account of his youthful learning experience, adding one of my own, about what they all meant.

And then there’s the 'Proust Questionnaire,' but you can explore his blog and find that on your own. I think by now you gain a sense there is occasional irreverence in some of what he writes. If you enjoy reading a good story, having a few laughs, getting your memories for the “old days” tickled, even thinking a bit more seriously on some current topics, then you’ll want to click yourself over to "cyberspacedawdler."

I’ll be writing about more blogs to be added to my blog roll another time.

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

"Trigger" Congressional Buyout

Health care reform emerging from the U.S. House of Representatives appears to include a Public Option. Just how that choice will occur, if it does, in the final bill the House and Senate members must formulate, then pass and send to the White House for our President’s signature, remains to be seen in the next few weeks, months ahead.

Bipartisan support for this bill has been abandoned by the sole Republican who earlier alarmed her political party by supporting in committee the bill’s formulation until the Public Option was added without the "trigger" element she wanted. Others in both political parties seem to lack the courage to step forward and vote positively for what the majority of the American people have said they want -- the Public Option.

I strongly urge reading Ronni Bennett’s recent discussion on “Time Goes By” – ‘The (Non)Public Option.’ She gives a succinct analysis on the bill-castrating “trigger,” also offering a view of what is really going on in Washington. She provides an excellent source link to a web site, Open Secrets, by which we can easily see some of the specific corporate and interest groups efforts to wield congressional influence. Their self-interest views may well take precedence in our legislators issue positions over those actions that would be in each individual citizen’s best interests – including yours and mine.

"Open Secrets" is an excellent credible web site reference, for now and in the future, that tracks the monies our duly elected Congressional persons in House and Senate accept in campaign contributions and provides other factual information. Everyone supporting any political party, also Independents, would be wise to read there exactly where the monies and the legislation come together.

"Follow the money!" in relation to specific issues before Congress. Being an intelligently informed citizen is especially needed now and in the decision-making process regarding whether to re-elect some of our Congresspersons on their next election day.

Presently, the correlation of that site’s data can inform us on such issues as health care reform. We may recognize a need to stress our favorable view for a Public Option to select Congresspersons to offset the weight of their political contributors unfavorable views. Your Representative’s and Senator’s name is easily located there.

What's especially interesting right now are the monies the health insurers and pharmaceutical companies are pouring into our Congresspersons’ campaign coffers.

We can be assured that these health care reform plans coming out of Congress are being tailored to be exactly to the benefit of those companies income and not our own best interests, especially if they eliminate the Public Option.

Once again the American people are being sold down the river. Far too many citizens are allowing themselves to be deceived into believing these companies and interest groups so-called compromises reflect legitimate bargaining. Their actions are part of a show-case design process in which they support, alternately protest, then acquiesce to some weakened plan variation. They are attempting to convincingly mislead the public into believing that they are genuinely seeking a solution to the health care issue instead of sincerely assisting with the development of a viable system that’s needed and best for our nation.

The insurance, pharmaceutical companies and their lobbyists are all about strengthening their monopolistic grip on the American health care purse contents. These companies have enlisted far too many of our Congresspersons who either directly or tacitly cater to them. Our nation's intense need for health care costs to decline will not occur except on a most superficial level, if at all, and costs will continue to rise unless private insurers are challenged with an alternative system giving everyone choices including a Public Option.

I care about the kind of country and government that will exist for each of us, our citizenry and future generations. This is not the time to throw up our hands in discouragement and swear off further advocacy for a Public Option, or to abandon our future voting privilege.

It is time now, and will continue to be time, to let our Congresspersons know our views and that we hold them accountable for their actions based on our informed knowledge.

We now have an unprecedented number of ways to communicate our views quickly and easily. Our taking action is always important during the best of times and the worst.

“The price of apathy towards public affairs is to be ruled by evil men.”

A truth as important today as when issued by Plato.

“The death of democracy is not likely to be an assassination from ambush. It will be a slow extinction from apathy, indifference, and undernourishment."
Another truth of which we should be mindful from educator Robert M. Hutchins.

This is not to say we must dedicate every waking thought and action to focusing on issues of our day. We want to enjoy life, lead active lives in all respects, but we do need to devote some time to exercising our right and responsibility for living in these United States by participating in the striving democratic system within our republic.

Health care reform is one of the most critical and important issues of our time. Continuing to do our utmost to bring about needed health care changes including a Public Option may be the most crucial action we can take that will directly affect our own lives, significantly impact that of every American and future generations to come -- our legacy.

Saturday, October 24, 2009

Third Year Blog Anniversary

Three years ago I took the great leap into the blogosphere with "Along The Way." I'm giving my blog a slightly new look for the second time. Launching my blog when I did was a consequence of accidental mouse clicking, coupled with my panic at having done so and lack of technical knowledge to rectify the situation.

I had been toying with the idea of starting a blog but had already intentionally passed twice on doing so. I first thought I might start on my husband's October birthday, and later on my own but did neither because my blog was not ready. I was awaiting some future to-be-determined date. I definitely was busy making plans. That said, I am reminded of one of my favorite sayings, "Life is what happens when you're busy making other plans."

I fully expected first to acquire many new computer skills, create a unique appearing blog, shape and polish writing subject matter, establish categories about which I would write, and generally organize my blog in an orderly fashion before ever beginning publishing. Then when suddenly my blog was "out there" for all the world to see I lurched ahead. I had little idea of what I was doing but concluded the prospect of writing here was intriguing.

My technical skills were very limited as I had only started using a personal desktop computer a few months earlier. I could easily see the many attractive features I might want to adopt from various blogs I visited. My aspirations and expectations were to quickly learn how to adapt many of them for use on my own blog, but that was not as simple as I thought.

Primarily the difficulty for me was needing much more concentrated time than I had to devote to the different tasks. My expectation of coming to my computer for fifteen to twenty minute blocks daily or focusing an hour or two on acquiring more technical knowledge was not a realistic approach that worked for me. Given the events during that life period, I also had need for self-indulgent time which could waffle between extreme activity and doing nothing.

My reality was that I became what some might consider addicted to writing, of every kind. The fascination of connecting with all these interesting bloggers I had never personally met who were scattered about every U.S. State and around the world caught my attention. I enjoyed commenting on their blogs, and exchanging lengthy incredibly frequent emails with some. I can best describe my activities then, as I have before, that I was like a squirrel running madly round and round on a perpetual nonstop rotating wheel. Time to learn many technical skills could not fit into that regimen, much less allow me many instances to explore the rest of the Internet.

My periodic part time work in health care as a Speech-Language Pathologist demanded some preparation time. Though I was no longer providing inpatient and outpatient therapy in acute care hospitals, or a local rehabilitation hospital, the retirement community settings I primarily was serving could become very busy with complex therapeutic patient needs. In addition to their speech, language, voice, hearing, visual and cognitive problems, I was continuing to encounter many individuals with a wide range of eating/drinking/swallowing difficulties.

My husband's pre-mature death some five months before I started my blog was a major life adjustment for me that absorbed time in multiple ways, becoming much more complicated than I could ever have imagined. We had shared much but each of us had acquired our own niche of responsibilities that we pretty much left to one another. After his death I gradually began to encounter much he had routinely handled, for which I had then to assume responsibility. He had remarkably left information and records I found that were of great aid. There were also a multitude of "little things" of major proportion I had to ferret out on my own that erratically, but perpetually, surfaced when I least expected.

I've not recorded all my specific life ups and downs in writings over these past three years, but a glance at the archive postings frequency from one month to the next reveals a wide variation in blog post numbers. The reasons for this vary, but here are a few influencing factors. Sometimes the numbers reflect my emotional state. Other times they show how I self-imposed set publishing demands, and how, occasionally, I became disenchanted with my perceived blogging obligation, so I stopped writing.
Some other instances correlate with social activities, trips I've taken away from home, or when I've had visitors.

I have been genuinely interested in the topics about which I have written. Following that criteria I can always count on at least one reader, me, the person for whom I initially stated this blog was being written. Once again I have surprised myself with the realization as to how much I value all of you who come to read my words. You have proven over and over again what I've always believed. As much as we are all different in many ways, we are also very much the same in so many other ways. Our differences are what make life interesting for me. Our sameness is what causes me to feel a deep sense of belonging to others, such an important component for mind, body and spiritual health. Thanks to each of you for being you and sharing some of yourselves with me.

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Almost Forgot ..... A Special Occasion

My mail arrived containing an envelope that clearly looked and felt like a greeting card of some sort was inside. I wondered to my self what was the occasion that would prompt a card? I carefully slid the letter opener along the envelopes flap, removed the card and read the words that answered my question .....


B I R T H D A Y !

Why, yes, I realized, I am another year older.

The sentiments inside the card brought tears to my eyes as I knew they were heartfelt personal expressions from the sender.

Do others tend to forget their birthdays, too, as they've gotten older, I wonder?

Of course, the day rarely goes unnoticed by others who care about us so we aren't likely to completely forget the day, and I don't want to. That card arrived yesterday, the day before my birthday which is today, so I'll have all day long to celebrate.

Last year at this time I was visiting my son and his wife. We drove to northern Michigan where we enjoyed dinner with his wife's parents. Coincidentally, my daughter-in-law's mother's birthday falls on the same date as mine, or is it that my birthday falls on the same date as hers? A dear friend who lived in Florida and I also shared the same birth date.

I passed on a last minute opportunity suggested by friends a couple weeks ago for a long desired repeat of a driving trip my husband and I took years ago up the east coast to Maine during peak fall colors. My friends flight east leaves today. Maybe another year. We'll enjoy their photo journal after they return and we experience one of our laughter-filled weekends together.

You may check for fall foliage maps across the United States. Some lovely fall photos can be seen on that web site, also.

Time for me to start celebrating. This song holds special significance to me. I initially heard this musical arrangement at my then very young daughter's first dance recital. I think I'll listen to it again today.

Kool and the Gang's YouTube video can't be embedded so I'll have to click on this link to "Celebration."Why don't you join me?

Thursday, October 15, 2009

Climate Change - Blog Action Day

This is Blog Action Day! Addressing the very serious topic of climate change in a superb informative colorful concise photo and link-filled article is the writer at "Darlene's Hodgepodge."

I strongly urge readers to click on the link above and acquaint yourselves with the myriad issues facing our world today -- not to be discouraged, depressed or frightened, but to discern what each of us in our own small way can do to mitigate some of the effects. We can choose ways in which to adapt our own lives as we adjust to these climate changes.

We feel these changes in California as we cope with drought. Our city and water company have instituted some voluntary conservation measures. These consist of determining a typical range of water usage for various size households. Water rate charges will be broken down into increasingly larger amounts with pricing accordingly. Watering restrictions for our yards, washing autos continues to be voluntary but likely those will begin to become more specified and limiting. Soon dollar penalties and fines will likely be administered.

I am in the process of converting part of my yard to drought resistant plants, eliminating some grass in this normally desert-like area of Southern California.
I will write more about this in the future.

I am enthusiastic about learning better ways in which to adapt to our environment and determining how to best preserve for future generations this spectacular planet on which we are privileged to live. I hope you are, too.

Monday, October 12, 2009

Blogs of Interest

During the past months I slipped into my blog roll without fanfare some more blogs I enjoy visiting. They deserve a bit more attention in case you aren’t already aware of them and haven’t already been visiting them.

“Photoblogging In Paris” features the photographic delights that Claude shares with us from Paris and her travels elsewhere.

I first enjoyed Claude’s commentary and photos in her blog titled “Blogging In Paris.”

Claude has created a new blog emphasizing her photography. I am ever more mesmerized by the wide range of colorful photos she offers from that of the simplest objects, ancient to current architectural locations, spectacular scenes and lovely flowers that bring much viewing pleasure. Her most recent post visually showcases her trip plans to a faraway exotic location. I’m looking forward to the forthcoming photographs.

"Darlene’s Hodgepodge" is a most enjoyable visit with a variety of interesting commentary from the humorous to extremely serious. Her Southwest perspective includes sharing photos and family accounts that enable me to know her better. Sometimes pithy observations on current pertinent issues accentuate her advocacy on matters such as health care reform that is of such vital concern today.

Darlene evidences such a positive outlook that encourages me on effectively adjusting to health changes as they occur throughout our lives. She has had the unique experience of receiving a cochlear implant to enable her to hear again, some of the details of which she has interestingly shared. Most recently I’ve been fascinated with her occasional accounts of the re-learning process required to appreciate the pleasures of listening to music again.

"Hattie’s Web" takes me many places including to Hawaii’s Big Island which holds special personal interest to me. I’m always interested in what’s happening with Pele’, the periodically erupting volcano whose continuing lava flow into the Pacific Ocean is actually increasing that State’s size. What other U.S. State can say their land mass is growing? If Pele’ begins ‘dancing,’ as I like to characterize what happens when her lava flows, Hattie will know and share her observations. During Pele’s long quiet times I can enjoy the variety of Hattie’s commentary.

I’ve been virtually traveling with Hattie recently to some delightful European locations. Now that she has returned home she’s written a fascinating piece providing a list with brief reviews of many books she’s been reading. Hattie is not shy about expressing her views on the vital issues affecting Island life locally and nationally, often raising broad-ranging ideas that are important to me, too, on the Mainland.

Hope you enjoy visiting these bloggers as much as I do. I’ll be adding some new blogs I've recently started reading very soon.