My younger daughter sitting on a cannon at Fort Ticonderoga, where we beat the British in 1775.
Wednesday, June 30, 2010
even though he knows better.
"White folk done took this country," Wright said. "You're in their home, and they're gonna let you know it."
He had a good education. His father was a clergyman and his mother a school principal. I bet they didn't talk like that around the family dinner table.
Dell had computer problems, and I had Dell problems.
In the past five years, we have had serious problems with two Dell computers. The latest one, after a year of use during which it never worked properly, had a defective motherboard.
I figured it was something to do with me, considering how little I know about computers. The only thing I actually know about them is: I need one!
You know how, when you take your car in for service, the mechanic tells you the flugelhorn is defective and the rubella needs a new part, and you try to nod sagely like you understand what he is talking about? I have the same lack of understanding the most elementary facts about computers. However, most cars work.
Now imagine you purchase a new car, which is fine but has four perfectly square wheels. But you are told it's fine. It's supposed to work that way.
Makes you crazy, doesn't it? The hell with you, Dell, including all the supercilious Indian male-supremicist outsource guys with ununderstandable accents. Bad cess to you!
Monday, June 28, 2010
This is the earliest picture I have of my parents together. He is wearing spats. Yes, spats! On a warm summer day in the Midwest, a man is wearing a jacket and tie and a woman is wearing a light summer dress. Neither is wearing a T-shirt which says FCUK, or for that matter, anything else. And yet they are smiling!
or paying a "restocking" fee.
I, too, use more than one library, and sometimes return books to the wrong library. The fees can really mount up.
When I worked in the library I always told the pages, who were temporary minimum wage high school students, that they were the most important employees in the library. Pages put the books away, and a book put away in the wrong place is a book which for all practical purposes has ceased to exist. Inter-library cooperation with shared databases has helped the situation greatly, but does not benefit the person who needs the only copy today, for instance for a report due tomorrow. This happens more often than you would think. For instance, with summer reading assignments. The week before school begins in the fall there is not a copy of any of the books on the list to be found within 10 miles, either in libraries or in bookstores. The kids who think ahead take them out of the library on the first day of vacation and then take the book on vacation with them, generally leaving it somewhere. It falls into the lake, is buried in the sand of the beach, or left in a hotel room.
Meanwhile, libraries get tough on people who don't play the library game. The library game has two moves: 1) check out a book or books; 2) return it or them in a timely fashion. I have mastered move 1, but have trouble with move 2. A large part of my motive for using the library is to avoid having any more books take up permanent residence in my home, which is groaning with books. They have overflowed their shelves, filled the nightstands, piled up on tables and counters, moved into boxes stowed in strategic locations, and now reside in piles on the floor, their last redoubt. So why don't I return library books in good time, like a decent citizen?
There are root causes for this, as for other forms of crime. I used to work in libraries, you see, and everyone who works in libraries has at least 50 outstanding overdue books. That's because we are fine-exempt. If a book really gets lost at home--I'm talking years, here--we insiders remove it from the database, eventually.
But we get tough on ordinary citizens who don't return their books, and charge them restocking fees. Someone has to obey the laws, you know.
However, pages being temporary and poorly paid high school students, they sometimes misplace books, so I would check the shelves if someone were going to charge me $100 for a lost book.
Posted by miriam at 10:26 PM
Egon Ronay, 94
My favorite quote:
He inspected airports, motorway service stations, hospitals, schools and park cafés on behalf of the ordinary public, for whom his round blue seals of approval, stuck on a window or a door, soon became a sine qua non of dining. He found Lyons Corner Houses very acceptable. To check transport cafés he would even don an anorak and cap, while the Rolls was parked around the corner.
Posted by miriam at 5:54 PM
I've always had a great fondness for West Virginia. A large percentage of mother's clients came from there to work in Columbus's factories, and while in Columbus, they often got in trouble, with the law, with their wives, and with other West Virginians in rundown bars, which we called beer joints. That's where mother came in. My uncle claimed that there was a tunnel leading from West Virginia straight to mother's office.
You'd never want to meet nicer, more open-hearted people. Though poor, they would give you the shirts off their backs. And they adored mother. Another point in favor of the state was that, when Virginia seceded from the Union, West Virginia seceded from Virginia. Take that, you aristocratic slave-holding planters!
Byrd was well known for bringing home the pork. Does that mean West Virginia was prosperous? Did he leave the place better than he found it?
West Virginia's relative median household income is 51! among the 50 states. I don't know whether this proves that Obama was onto something when he talked about visiting all 57 states.
It's tied with Arkansas at #5 among the states for poverty.
So all West Virginia has to show for his efforts is a bunch of federal buildings, highways, etc, named after the old dodderer, and the occasional statue of him.
Posted by miriam at 1:13 PM
Sunday, June 27, 2010
Saturday, June 26, 2010
Friday, June 25, 2010
I had lunch with a cousin the other day, someone who had been very fond of mother, and she inquired whether I had a picture of mother. I have very few, and this is for a reason: she immediately tore up any and all pictures of her. I have a picture of a little girl with one arm--the little girl was me and the other arm was around mother and subsequently sacrificed to the Gods of Not Getting Your Picture Taken Looking Fat.
She also refused to be seen in a bathing suit, and then to try on a bathing suit, and then to go swimming altogether, although she loved to swim and was good at it. Thus she denied herself a pleasure which would have been good for her health and maybe helped her to slim down.
I am beginning to see this as a manifestation of family wackiness. The aforementioned cousin had a salad without dressing and four cups of coffee for lunch. Another cousin regularly eats a can of sardines for lunch. A third cousin met me for breakfast and had an English muffin without anything on it. I would as soon eat the box the muffin came in.
Being fat is a sin for which you must be punished by going hungry. That seems to be the reasoning. I have another theory. I think weight gain for some people is like the gusher in the gulf. Do nothing, and the oil will continue to spill and the fat accumulate. Heroic measures are required to contain the oil and curb the appetite.
I used to believe that Americans were physically slothful and that if they got up off their butts the butts would get up off them. My visit to Dublin cured me of that belief. Our bed and breakfast alndlady, Mrs. Marr, ran up and down the steps of her establishment all day every day, making beds, bring things up, taking things down, dusting, cleaning, cooking, laundering, yet she was a large woman, at least 180 lbs at 5'6. If exercise didn't keep her slim, it wouldn't work for me.
Posted by miriam at 2:46 PM
Tuesday, June 22, 2010
This young man was hidden in a picture frame I bought at the same tag sale where I bought the photo of the young girl. I can't date his picture as accurately as I can hers because men's clothing styles don't change like women's do, so his picture could have been taken any time.
I fancy the two have a family resemblance, but that may just be my overactive imagination. Anyway, his picture was turned face inward within a picture frame and I only discovered it when I took the picture out to insert one of my paintings.
I must make a mental note to leave all my photographs to a library if I don't want strangers buying them or worse, discarding them.
Posted by miriam at 9:38 PM
Monday, June 21, 2010
There was a newspaper article in the local paper about a stylish young lady. I was unable to download it, due to some mysterious software weirdness. Unfortunately, I only wanted to use her photo as a horrible example. She was dressed completely in beige. There should be rules about this. Beige suits hardly any woman. Particularly if you have beige hair and skin and pale eyes, you look like you are trying to disappear into the walls. It's not that becoming to black women either, although they can get away with it better. But why try? Beige is boring, at best. Even navy blue is better than beige.
Let's stamp out beige clothing.
Posted by miriam at 10:50 PM
Sunday, June 20, 2010
I bought this picture at a tag sale; I have no idea who she is, but judging by her hairstyle she was photographed in the Roaring Twenties, when girls first started "bobbing" their hair. I think she's lovely, particularly her hands. It's sad that no-one from the family wanted her picture.
A tag sale of somebody's belongings tells you a lot about what their lives were like. This family reminds me of my Uncle Doc and his wife--the same sterling silver, linens, petit point, and crochet. You just know that Mrs. Tag had her women friends over for tea and cards. She probably served little cucumber sandwiches and tarts filled with cream, along with tea poured from her sterling silver teapot into her bone china cups. Her silver sugar tongs were used to serve lumps of sugar. The fingertip towels in the guest bathroom were made of real linen stiffened with starch. Her husband was probably a doctor, and they attended dances at the country club where they played golf with their friends.
My aunt and uncle were the Jewish equivalent of this Roman Catholic couple. They just went to different country clubs and celebrated different holidays. My aunt actually had a room--a small one--filled with shelves to house her sterling silver belongings. Of course the household help polished the silver.
Nowadays these sterling silver teasets are in thrift shops and antique stores. The good ones are valuable, because of the workmanship and the value of the silver, but silver-plated ones are available cheaply at the Good Will. No one wants to polish this stuff any more. The women who would have been hostesses are doctors themselves nowadays, or lawyers. Or they work in "development." All my female cousins work in "development" nowadays and instead of hosting teas with rich buttery desserts they are spending their few spare hours working out.
Posted by miriam at 9:05 PM
Saturday, June 19, 2010
Friday, June 18, 2010
BP chairman Carl-Henric Svanberg said that Hayward would step aside from daily involvement in BP's oil spill response.Let's admit that Hayward is as guilty as Osama bin Laden and works for a big, evil, capitalist foreign entity. he has been told that he is liable to criminal prosecution. Why must he be publicly shamed? What purpose is served by putting him through an auto de fe on the floor of Congress? Not the purpose of getting at the truth. It's to allow Congressmen to swan around, get their self-righteous on, and get their ugly faces on camera.
It's humiliating to me, as an American, to have these disgusting public servants posing and preening for all the world like the prosecutors of Law and Order. I have no doubt they are all crooks. Obama too, the big tough Chicago bully. His behavior is nauseating and not befitting the dignity of his office.
Peter DeVries once said that he had been taught in church to believe in the omnipotence and omniscience of God and the total depravity of man, and he still believed in one of those things. Me too.
Posted by miriam at 9:11 PM
Thursday, June 17, 2010
Wednesday, June 16, 2010
Having cut their teeth on American automobile manufacturing and banks, whet their appetites taking over health care, the Chicago Gang found it the work of a moment to blackmail BP (which Obama persists in calling British Petroleum even though they have changed their corporate name)into setting up a trust fund. It used to be called extortion but is now known as The Chicago Way.
If only they could be as tough as that with Iran!
Posted by miriam at 11:05 PM
in a nutshell.
I've always loved Great Britain, the land of Shakespeare, P G Wodehouse, Winston Churchill, Jane Austen, and--don't laugh--Mary Poppins. As a child, I loved to read books about English children who had crumpets for tea and celebrated Guy Fawkes Day. I have no trouble adopting the Pilgrims and Puritans as ancestors even though they didn't grow up in Pinsk.
The United States would never have developed as it did and become the country it now is without its British heritage. Our Constitution grew out of theirs.
Since Mr Charm has a PhD in British History, I knew the British had a constitution, albeit an "unwritten" one. But this post clarifies the British Constitution and I found it interesting. I also liked the idea that the oak tree, the national tree, symbolizes the British Constitution.
Read the whole thing. It's admirably clear.
Posted by miriam at 10:57 PM
Monday, June 14, 2010
My father had shingles recently. It was very painful, so he recommended that I (and everyone else who had had chicken pox) get the vaccine.
I'm not going to recount the hassles that I underwent, except to mention that I got advice from both my private insurer and Medicare that was contradictory. I finally got the shot, which I paid for myself and then struggled to get reimbursed. This was two years ago, and provided a foretaste of what Obamacare has in store for us.
Now I am trying to get an infusion of Reclast, having found out that women with osteoporosis in their hips, which I have, should either get preventive treatment or start picking out something becoming to wear at the funeral. Because, apparently if you break your hip all that remains is to choose a casket and line up pallbearers.
The local hospital offers these infusions, but refuses to administer them except under a maze of stringent rules and restrictions which make it almost impossible to actually get the drug.
Medicare can't decide whether Part B or Part D covers these infusions, and doesn't care, preferring that patients break their hips and die so they can streamline their patient lists.
I would like to fight this monster, but it has so many tentacles that I don't know which one to tackle first.
Posted by miriam at 10:12 AM
Saturday, June 12, 2010
Friday, June 11, 2010
If you lined me and my cousins up in a row, we would look like this: 1110111. The round shape in the middle is me. at 5'2" and 116 lbs, I was the fat kid. Since that day, I have expanded my franchise, so to speak.
When I was a kid, I looked like a craft project made of pipe cleaners. Then at the age of about 11, just when you need a boost, I developed a little round stomach. I could guess what was in store for me by looking at mother and bubbe, both of whom were rotund and getting rotunder. I believed and did not want to believe that rotundity was inevitable. Everyone in the family helpfully suggested that I would look really great if I lost (choose one:) 5/10/15 lbs.
I fought the good fight for a long time. Diet, exercise. Exercise, diet. No fat, no carbs, walk fast, walk slow, lift heavy/light weights two/four days a week. Still, the numbers on the scale kept inching up.
I am not alone. Everyone I know is on a diet. And all these dieters are agreed that despite really cutting calories they are really not hungry.
For me, however, I find that when I am on a diet I really am hungry. Very hungry. Waking up in the middle of the night with gnawing hunger pains type hungry. Starving. Every day on a diet is a potential Yom Kippur.
Now here's the tough part. I could totally forget about diets and be comfortable just as I am, except that I don't stay as I am without watching what I eat, I just get fatter.
Heredity sure is a bitch.
Posted by miriam at 11:20 PM
Sunday, June 06, 2010
We have been having some really nasty weather. Hot, humid, sultry, with an unhelpful wind that doesn't blow anything good, but supposedly foreshadows a storm. It's a wind that so far as I know doesn't have a name, like a mistral or Santa Ana, but should.
My plants look like they've died of heat exhaustion, and no wonder. I can almost see them panting for water. I'm thirsty myself.
I wish the storm would come, but when it does, we will probably have another power outage. We had one earlier in the week, and were just comfortably settled down with our candles and flashlights to do a bit of grumbling when the power came back on.
Posted by miriam at 6:14 PM
Saturday, June 05, 2010
The ethnic background that dare not speak its name.
Nowhere in the controversy concerning Helen Thomas is her ethnic origin mentioned. She's not Welsh, like Dylan Thomas, she's not Jewish, like Michael Tilson Thomas.
She is what Tim Blair calls a Presbyterian.
If a Jew suggested that the Palestinians need to go back to Egypt, from whence they came, I'd hate to hear the ruckus.
Posted by miriam at 5:02 PM
Friday, June 04, 2010
Good grief! Nixon was as bad as George W Bush.
or maybe not.
Ironically for that administration, the crew seemed to have concerns about making sure such job offers were legal. A handwritten note penned in the corner of the memo notes, “Malek: This must be fully approved by AG before any action is taken.”
That's pretty ironic, all right.
Posted by miriam at 4:11 PM
Wednesday, June 02, 2010
Red light cameras are taking over Delaware.
There are red-light enforcement cameras at 47 intersections in Delaware, and the state is adding 10 more cameras this spring. The first cameras were installed in 2001 in Wilmington. In 2009, the cameras caught about 61,000 violations and generated more than $5 million in fines. The number of violations has dropped in recent years, and DelDOT says the cameras have led to a 15 percent decrease in accidents at intersections covered by red-light cameras.
I don't believe accidents have been reduced. That's bull****. This is nothing more than a scheme to shake money out of the pockets of Delaware residents. If I had wanted to pay more in unreasonable charges I could have stayed in New Jersey.
What I want to know is, what's the total take, and how do they split their ill-gotten revenues with the company that provides the cameras? I hear it's fifty-fifty. Oh yes, and is this "provider" a local business, or foreign?
And can citizens plead not guilty and have their cases heard, and possibly reversed, in court? Or is there an automatic presumption of guilt?
Posted by miriam at 9:31 PM
Tuesday, June 01, 2010
[T]here is a lot of noise of how this raid was especially outrageous since a "Nobel laureate" and a "famous writer "were travelling on one of the ships; how exactly should that give a ship immunity from boarding?
Simple: famous people are much, much more important than clods like you and me. Famous people should be treated much, much better.
Posted by miriam at 5:26 PM