Apologies

I know that many of you look forward to Wednesday morning’s ‘Good People’ post, and I do know how important it is in these troubled times to remind ourselves that there are a lot of good people out there doing their part for humanity.  But tonight, a good degree of angst over yet another school shooting with at least one fatality, among other news, has my mind bouncing and keeping me from the task at hand.  Fear not, for there are many good people about which to write, and it is not their fault, but only my own.  I have tried for four hours and have produced very few words on the page.  I am simply not able to provide a ‘good people’ post right now.  I hope to have one later this week, however today, I simply cannot, and for that I apologize.  Thank you, my friends, for your patience.

Saturday Surprise — Artists Take On Notre-Dame

Welcome to the

weekend

I was not at a loss for this morning’s Saturday Surprise post, in fact was debating between taking you to either a turnip festival or a bread-arches festival.  But then an email popped up and when I saw it, I thought … hmmm 🤔 … maybe.  Monday’s fire at the Cathedral of Notre-Dame has prompted an outpouring of sadness from all around the globe.  It has also inspired artists to do some beautiful artwork that I thought I’d like to share with you today.  But first, I must share with you my embarrassingly funny story from this past week.

Those of you who have followed this blog for a while may remember last September when my dishwasher went kaplooie.  I contacted the rental office … day after day … for 8 bloomin’ weeks, then finally contacted the property owners, and it was fixed the following day!  The apartment manager was also terminated that week, but I’m not sure if there is any connection.  Anyway, just before Thanksgiving they did bring a new … brand new, still in the box … dishwasher, and all was well.

Then last week, I turned the dishwasher on Tuesday morning, but … nothing happened.  Nada.  Zilch.  Sigh.  So, I contacted them … actually, Miss Goose did, for I don’t think she liked seeing me getting ready to go to the rental office with my 18-inch rolling pin in my hand.  They said they would ‘try’ to get to it within two weeks.  Frustrated I was, but what can one do but … wait.  Well, this week on Tuesday, I had just gotten out of the shower and come downstairs, hair still wrapped in a towel, and there was a pounding on the door.  The maintenance dude!  Okay … I happily lead him to the kitchen where … there was a blob of cat puke right in the middle of the kitchen floor.  I wanted the earth to open up and swallow me.  Unfortunately, it didn’t.  But wait … it gets even better!

The maintenance man walks over to the dishwasher, looks at the wall above it, flips the switch on the wall, and … PRESTO! … the dishwasher springs to life.  Now I really, really wanted the earth to open up and swallow me.  Again, it didn’t.  Folks, I had checked the breaker, had inspected all around the switches and contacts for some food particles or grease, had tried everything short of taking the thing apart.  But I never even thought about the switch.  We never turn it off!  Best I can figure is it accidentally got turned off one time that one of us was turning off the switch next to it that controls the garbage disposer.  I felt about as stupid as I’ve ever felt, and I kept repeating, “I’m so sorry … I am so stupid …” until he finally patted my shoulder (I’m pretty sure he just wanted to get away from this crazy ol’ hag so he could go to his truck and have a good laugh) and assured me it could have happened to anybody.  Sigh.

And now, how about those pictures I promised?

On 15 April 2019 around 6:50 p.m., a fire broke out in the Notre-Dame Cathedral in Paris. One of the most famous historical buildings, it has a strong value to Parisian and French culture and is one of the most famous buildings in the world with around 13 million tourists every year. After the tragic news about the iconic cathedral burning went viral, many artists showed their respect to the monument by drawing it.

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The construction of Notre-Dame started back in 1163 and it was finished almost 200 years later in 1345. It’s important to mention that the iconic spire was added only in the 19th century. Notre-Dame isn’t only known for its incredible architecture, it was also the cathedral in which Napoleon’s coronation by Pope Pius VII took place in 1804.

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Since Notre-Dame was first built around 700 years ago, the building required constant renovation. During the last few years, it was in desperate need of reconstruction and that’s exactly what was happening before the fire broke out. The renovation was supposed to cost €6 million. Fires often break out during renovation so it is believed that this might have been the case with the Notre-Dame Cathedral.

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Recent news declare that there have been €1 billion donated to the reconstruction of the Notre-Dame Cathedral which has caused some controversy online. Many people claim that during the past few years there have been many tragic losses around the world, with many people losing their home and their loved ones, yet nobody has ever donated this much money to any of the causes. Notre-Dame example shows how many of the world’s problems could be solved if the world’s richest people would donate to those in need.

These are only a few of the artists’ pictures inspired by this tragedy.  For more, check it out on Bored Panda. Have a great weekend, my friends!

Saturday Surprise — Izzy and Spiders!

Welcome to the WEEKEND!!!  I know you’re all excited to have a three-day wee … what’s that?  It’s not a three-day weekend?  Let me look at my calendar again … I could have sworn … oh … never mind.  Well, let me start over … I know you’re all excited to have two days off from work!  Yeah, kind of falls flat, doesn’t it?  Still … spring is nearly here, so that is definitely something to be thankful for, don’t you think?

I start this morning’s Saturday Surprise sharing a bit of a personal story.  You remember when I introduced you to the Significant Seven back in May of last year?   Since then the Sig-Seven have become the Sig-Six, for Orange died last summer, at the ripe (for a cat) old age of 19.  I mentioned that Isabella, Izzy for short, has serious issues, the most likely scenario being that she has the feline version of autism.  She comes out from under the sofa several times a day, but all it takes is a look or a word to send her scurrying back under.

The other day, I was at the store buying the usual 50-pound bag of kibble when I spotted a toy.  It was about 2-feet long, shaped like a wedge of cheese, with holes of varying sizes and two toy mice dangling from strings inside.  Now, our cats have two laundry baskets filled with toys, plus a kitty condo, kitty beds, and … well, they are spoiled.  But when I saw this toy, something just tapped me on the shoulder and said … Izzy will like this.  It was on sale, so long story short, we now have a cheese wedge in the living room floor along with a myriad of other “kitty things”.

But I was right!  Izzy does like it!  See for yourself …20190307_144857.jpg20190307_144908.jpg20190307_144912.jpgEven better, though … she actually let Miss Goose brush her, for the very first time ever!20190222_162702.jpgSo, perhaps she is beginning to get just a smidge braver?


I was doing my usual scan of news sources yesterday when I came across something in The Guardian that I thought would make a lovely Saturday surprise!  Now, I know some of you have an aversion to things that walk on eight legs, but these are truly so gorgeous, so different, that even you will be enchanted.  Well, all except perhaps the last one. blue-legged-tarantulaThis is the Blue-Legged Tarantula, only recently documented by arachnologists Ray Gabriel and Danniella Sherwood in the Journal of the British Tarantula Society (who knew there even was such a society?)  Isn’t he beautiful?  Malaysian naturalists, however, claim that they first photographed the spider in the wild and that the specimens were illegally removed from their habitat.  A fight over a spider!


peacock-parachute-spiderThis Peacock parachute spider is huge – about 20 centimeters or 8 inches in diameter! He gets his name from his purply-blue, metallic legs and his habit of jumping down from trees.  According to Matthew Robertson, senior keeper of invertebrates at ZSL London Zoo, this spider …

“Can deliver quite a painful bite as it parachutes on to the top of your head.”

Ummmm … maybe not, thank you anyway.  They are extremely rare and indigenous only to a small area in India.


peacock-jumping-spiderPeacock jumping spiders are extraordinarily colourful, with the additional draw – particularly compared with the peacock parachute spider – of being only a couple of millimetres long. According to the experts, jumping spiders behave much like dogs or cats.  Hmmmm …


 

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Mirror sequined spider

Robert Whyte, an Australian spider expert, first caught sight of this tiny spider when its sparkly abdomen caught the light like a disco ball. The silvery sheen is made of guanine, a digestive by-product. Says Mr. Whyte …

“Instead of excreting it all out into the environment through their poo, some of it excretes out onto the surface of the gut.”

Well, that’s rather … yuck … but it is a beautiful spider!


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Red-legged golden-orb weaver spider

This spider – found in South Africa, Madagascar and elsewhere around the Indian Ocean – is not just four pairs of pretty legs. Like others in the Nephilinae subfamily, it is known for its webs of impressive structural stability, strong enough to entrap birds and even bats. The web also glows gold in the sun, hence the name.


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Wasp spider

This very large, very colourful spider resembles a wasp in order to protect itself from predators, although it is not dangerous itself. Its commitment to the aesthetic extends to its web, which has a wide, white zig-zag strip running down the middle for no clear functional purpose.


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Crab spider

The crab spider isn’t quite as eclectic as some of the others, but I think it’s cute!  Instead of spinning a web, it conceals itself within flowers to ambush its prey, changing its appearance to match.  Clever little dude!  Rather like a chameleon.  According to Mr. Robertson …

“If they live on yellow flowers, they tend to be yellow. They sit there waiting for some poor unfortunate bee to come along, then they nab them. It’s quite grim.”

Ah, well … a spider’s got to eat, y’know.


desertas-wolf-spiderAnd last, but not least, we have the Deserta wolf spider!  These guys are a critically endangered species, and in 2016 a captive breeding program was set up at Bristol (UK, not Tennessee) Zoo with 25 individuals being captured and taken to the zoo, over 1000 spiderlings were produced in 2017 and it is hoped that some of these can be reintroduced to Desertas to boost populations.

And I also stumbled across an interesting tidbit positing that a fear of spiders is actually in our DNA …

Recent research has claimed that a fear of spiders is a survival trait written into our DNA. Dating back hundreds of thousands of years, the instinct to avoid arachnids developed as an evolutionary response to a dangerous threat, the academics suggest.

It could mean that arachnophobia, one of the most crippling of phobias, represents a finely tuned survival instinct. And it could date back to early human evolution in Africa, where spiders with very strong venom have existed millions of years ago.

Study leader Joshua New, of Columbia University in New York, said: ‘A number of spider species with potent, vertebrate specific venoms populated Africa long before hominoids and have co-existed there for tens of millions of years.

‘Humans were at perennial, unpredictable and significant risk of encountering highly venomous spiders in their ancestral environments.’


And on that note, I shall leave you to your weekend!  Keep safe and enjoy it, however you spend it!Weekend

Stop Calling Me!!!

Seven.  Seven.  Eight.  Seven.  NINE!  This is ridiculous.  This must stop!  NOW!!!  Those are the number of scam or robo-calls I have gotten per day for the past few days.  It used to be two or three a day, and while I found that annoying, I could live with it.  But this has gone far beyond what I find acceptable and I am, quite frankly, highly pissed!  This is harassment, especially considering they start before I am awake and go as late as 9:00 p.m.!  I have to keep the ringer turned off on my phone, meaning I occasionally miss a call that I needed or wanted to receive.  I do not answer these calls, for I’m told that doing so confirms to the caller that it is a working number and the calls will merely increase in number.  I did answer one a few months ago with, “What the [expletive deleted] do you [expletive deleted] want???”, and perhaps that is why the calls have increased, but still, there must surely be a way to stop it, other than giving up my cell phone altogether?  And besides not answering, I immediately block every number from which I receive a call from an unknown number.  My ‘blocked calls’ list now numbers more than 400!!!  It doesn’t seem to matter, for these scammers buy blocks of hundreds of numbers, so if I block one, their computer just uses another.

Last year, the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) stepped up its fight against unwanted calls, implementing a rule authorizing phone companies to block scammers before they reach consumers by spotting invalid numbers and an initiative to develop an authentication system for caller ID.  Sorry, guys, but it ain’t working!

The problem, in part, is that although phone companies are now authorized to preempt scammers under the FCC’s rules, they are not required to.

It is not my imagination that these unwanted, harassing calls have increased.  In 2017, only 3.7% of all cell phone calls were by scammers.  Last year, the number jumped to 29%, and in early 2019 it is estimated at 45%.  For me, it is more like 90%, since on average I receive only one wanted call per day, and 7-9 unwanted ones!

As I said, I do not take these calls, and rarely do they leave any message, but a few times they have left a message warning me that I am wanted by the FBI, that there is a warrant out for my arrest in _____________ (name that state, typically one I haven’t been in for 40 years or more, if ever), and I must call now!  But imagine the person, most often a senior citizen (I refuse to think of myself as one just yet), who does answer the call.  Here are a few of the possibilities …

  • Callers use telephone numbers that mimic actual IRS assistance centers, claim to be IRS employees and use fake names and phony badge numbers. The IRS says victims are falsely told they owe money to the government and are urged to pay through a gift card or wire transfer. Scammers may also take advantage of the devastation caused by Hurricane Florence, the IRS warned. Scammers can pose as a charitable organization, preying on the generosity of Americans who want to help those affected by the storm.
  • Scammers also trick people into answering their calls with a scheme known as neighborhood spoofing, in which they manipulate caller ID information so that their actual phone number is masked. Instead, the calls appear to have been placed locally. A person looking at their caller ID will see a number that matches their own area code, as if the caller is a neighbor or a relative. Because the number appears familiar, people are more likely to answer the call. (Approximately 70% of my unwanted calls are from numbers where the first 6 digits match my own)

scam-callIt’s illegal for telemarketers to call someone whose number is on the national do-not-call registry (as mine is), unless they have an existing business relationship or the phone owner’s explicit written permission. But people who ignore the list or engage in deception are often hard to hold to account. They make calls from abroad, obscure their locations and place a tremendous number of calls.

Now, enter our knight on the white horse (sarcasm intended), the United States Federal Government.  According to a February 10th article in The Washington Post

Thankfully, proposals in both chambers of Congress offer some hope. Rep. Frank Pallone Jr. (D-N.J) introduced a bill in the House last week closing the loophole on autodialers who today take advantage of outdated legal language. That should deter legitimate businesses from abuse. As for the spoofers, major carriers could deploy a technology as early as this year that will tell consumers whether an incoming call comes from a verified number. FCC Chairman Ajit Pai had already urged carriers to adopt these authentication systems, but he stopped short of mandating it. Mr. Pallone’s bill would do just that, as would legislation in the Senate co-written by Edward J. Markey (D-Mass.) and John Thune (R-S.D.). And Mr. Pallone’s sensibly would require phone companies to provide blocking services against spoofers free of charge.

My antennae automatically go up when I hear Ajit Pai’s name, for he is the one who killed net neutrality, thereby making it quite clear that his interests are tied with big business, not We the People.  However, we must start somewhere, for otherwise our cell phones have become naught but an albatross.  Congress needs to get busy on this and pass these bills, although I have doubts that it will be enforced.  It’s a damn shame that we pay exorbitant amounts to purchase and use our cell phones, and then find that we have no control, they are not for our convenience, but for the convenience of scammers and big business who have found a cheap way to market their junk.

♫ Grandma Got Run Over By A Reindeer ♫

Some years I find myself singing Christmas songs … rarely carols with a religious tone, but songs about Christmas.  This year, I have not once that I can recall, but this has been a difficult year.  But, it is Christmas Eve and I thought to share a personal story of a Christmas … oh, some 23 years ago.

Natasha circa 18 mos 2

Baby Goose

My granddaughter Natasha, aka Miss Goose, was just over a year old, having been born on 28 November 1994.  I worked long hours and missed most of her waking time, so when I was home, I made the most of the time I had to bond with her.  She loved music and loved animation, so I searched for things on the computer that might attract her attention.  That Christmas season she fell in love with a Christmas-themed song … of all things … Grandma Got Run Over By A Reindeer.  At only 13 months old, she hadn’t yet the art of verbal communication as we know it, but every time that song played, she started bouncing, clapping, and giggling uncontrollably!  I swear she understood those lyrics!

Granted, this is an utterly dorky song, and has been referred to as “the song that only gets worse with age”, but as the song has fond memories for me, and has a humorous bent, I share it with you on this Christmas Eve, some 23 years later.  And I thank Miss Goose for, despite loving a song about the demise of Grandma, being the light of my life for all these years.

There are two versions to this song … well, actually several … but I offer both the cartoon version and the … um … drunken grandma version …

Grandma Got Run Over by a Reindeer
Elmo & Patsy

Grandma got run over by a reindeer
Walking home from our house Christmas eve
You can say there’s no such thing as Santa
But as for me and grandpa we believe
She’d been drinking too much eggnog
And we begged her not to go
But she forgot her medication
And she staggered out the door into the snow
When we found her Christmas morning
At the scene of the attack
She had hoof-prints on her forehead
And incriminating Claus marks on her back

Grandma got run over by a reindeer
Walking home from our house Christmas eve
You can say there’s no such thing as Santa
But as for me and grandpa we believe

Now we’re all so proud of grandpa
He’s been taking this so well
See him in there watching football
Drinking beer and playing cards with cousin Mel
It’s not Christmas without Grandma
All the family’s dressed in black
And we just can’t help but wonder
Should we open up her gifts
Or send them back (send them back)

Grandma got run over by a reindeer
Walking home from our house Christmas eve
You can say there’s no such thing as Santa
But as for me and grandpa we believe

Now the goose is on the table
And the pudding made of fig
And the blue and silver candles
That would just have matched the hair on grandma’s wig
I’ve warned all my friends and neighbors
Better watch out for yourselves
They should never give a license
To a man who drives a sleigh
And plays with elves

Grandma got run over by a reindeer
Walking home from our house Christmas eve
You can say there’s no such thing as Santa
But as for me and grandpa we believe

Singin’ grandpa
Grandma got run over by a reindeer
Walking home from our house Christmas eve
You can say there’s no such thing as Santa
But as for me and grandpa we believe
Merry Christmas

Songwriters: Randy Brooks
Grandma Got Run Over by a Reindeer lyrics © BMG Rights Management

A Knock …

wakingI awakened this morning, a bit confused as usual, and wondering if the pounding on the door downstairs was part of a dream or if some fool was actually beating on my door at … 8:39 a.m.?  It took less than five seconds before my question was answered … it was really some fool who didn’t know I had slept only a scant two hours at that point.  Mental checklist:

  • Am I decent? Sweatpants, sweatshirt, socks … oops, only one sock, but still good enough.
  • Glasses?  Check.
  • Who could it be? UPS?  Nah, our regular UPS driver is John, who used to have a crush on my daughter … he’s a cool guy and knows better than to bang on my door.  The mail carrier?  Nah, that’s my friend Lisa and she knows better than to bang on my door.  That leaves FedEx, who never send the same driver twice, so I haven’t come to know them.

You’re probably wondering why I don’t take the 5 steps to my bedroom window and look out, solving the mystery once and for all, right?  But that is not how my mind works.  I am an analyst, and thus I have to analyze everything first, then look out the window to verify the conclusion I drew as a result of my analysis. FedExOnly thing was, they banged on the door again before I got to the window and damn near stopped my heart, so instead of peeking through the blinds to see the FedEx truck in front of the house, I ran to the bedroom door, flung it open and called out at the top of my lungs, “I’m coming, you moron!!!”

And then I trotted down the 15 stairs (I know there are 15 because I count them every single time I ascend or descend them.  Been doing it for more than 20 years now. What?  No, I’m not OCD … I just need to make sure nobody snuck an extra in on me!) and peeped through the peekie hole in the center of the door.  Only, all I saw was the evergreen branches from our Christmas wreath.  Sigh.

Unlocking the door and opening it, fully expecting a smiling FedEx driver on the other side holding anywhere from one to thirteen packages (remember I did all my Christmas shopping online last week), you might imagine my surprise … nay, utter shock … to see a local yokel (our affectionate name for the country sheriffs and deputies) accompanied by two men in dark suits and dark glasses.

heart stopsHeart stops … begins re-boot process during which time all I can do is stare and say … huhhhhhhh?

I’ve been telling a few friends for a while now that this was inevitable, but … thing is … I was joking!!!  I never really believed that me, a nobody, would come under scrutiny of … gulp … the Men In Black!  As I had been trotting down the 15 stairs just seconds earlier, it had briefly occurred to me to run into the kitchen right quick and grab my solid wooden 18-inch long rolling pin, but so convinced was I that it was only the FedEx driver … oh, how I wished I had listened to that little voice!

The bells in my head were subsiding, my hearing, what little is left of it, began to return, and ‘coherent’ thought began to return.  I could see that the shorter of the two men in black was saying something … either that, or convulsing, for his lips were moving.

“Ma’am … is your name Jill Dennison?”

“Um … could you repeat the question?  I just got up, you see … heh heh … late night.”  (Oh how f***ing brilliant!!!)

“What is your name, ma’am?”

“Um … Grannie”

And at this point, the deputy standing slightly in front of and to the right of the men in black, rested his hand on his gun and said …

“What is your name?  Are you Jill Dennison?”

“Yes, and you are … ?”

“I’ll ask the questions here.  Do you live here alone?”

By this time, I was getting my bearings and had decided I wasn’t taking any guff from the local yokel, for I knew him from another encounter many years ago.  So, I turned to the first man in black and … he had disappeared!  The second, the taller of the two, was standing next to his empty spot.  Grinning.

“May I see some I.D.?”

He seemed taken a bit aback, and just then I noticed his partner coming around the back of their car carrying … a cage!  No way were they putting me in that!  Heck no!  It was only about 18-inches by 24-inches at most … I am 5-foot 6-inches and weigh 140.  They ain’t squishing me into that!!!

“Ms. Dennison … is this your cat?”

And inside was Princess Nala who, it turned out, had escaped when Chris left for work earlier that morning, was found by a neighbor who called the Humane Society.

“I just have one last question”, I said, once the confusion was all straightened out and we all had a slightly strained chuckle over it.  “Why are you wearing dark glasses?”

“The glare of the sun, ma’am.”

What you have just read is fiction, just a figment that came to me earlier this evening, hopefully humour, although it wouldn’t surprise me some day to awaken to find ‘Men in Black’ on my front stoop, given my well-documented aversion to Trump.  Frankly, I think I’m not quite important enough to set off any alarm bells, but you never know.  And for the record, Princess Nala is safe and sound, lying atop her pizza boxes in the kitchen!  And please forgive my brief detour from my norm … I promise to get serious after a few hours’ sleep.  Assuming, that is, that I don’t awaken to a pounding on the door!nala-pizza-boxes.jpg

Stuff From A Bouncing Mind …

Today I have a bouncy mind … too much inundation of both news and holidays, I think.  Have to bake birthday cookies, do birthday cards, get a package ready to mail overseas, Trump did a convoluted interview yesterday that I’m struggling to get through without throwing something, and a new federal judge is about to be confirmed who supports extreme voter suppression.  No wonder my mind is bouncing!  So, I share with you a few of the thoughts that have crept out from the crevices during the bounce …

FacebookYesterday morning when I logged onto Facebook for the first time of the day, planning to check messages and post my latest blog post, I was immediately assailed by a large message from Facebook itself, asking me to donate money to one of several charitable causes, and promising to match my donation.  HAH!!!  Mind you, though I haven’t much to give, I do give … I give to St. Jude’s Children’s Research Hospital, the Humane Society, the local foodbank.  I give to a variety of local homeless shelters.  So, it isn’t that I’m not willing to help out … it is, simply put, that I do not have any reason to trust Facebook!

Entrust my bank account number to Facebook after their recent data breach that exposed the personal data of millions of users???  And … trust them to actually match my donation?  I think not.  This is a case of “Let the buyer beware”.  I will continue to carefully choose my own causes, thank you very much anyway, Mr. Mark Zuckerberg!

packagingAnd speaking of letting the buyer beware, I am once again grumbling loudly over one of my old pet peeves.  Note to all readers:  If the package says “Easy open – pull here” … get your scissors and sharpest knives out, be prepared to spend a minimum of ten minutes fighting to get to the product inside the package, and while you’re at it … be sure your first-aid kit is handy!  I’ve been putting it down to my being old, my hands and fingers not being as agile or strong as they once were, but even the youngster in this house has trouble opening things these days.  I still get her to do it, though, for she has far more patience than I, and is therefore less likely to throw and break things.  Besides, she doesn’t swear, so it is less traumatic for the kitties!

But seriously, is there any reason that opening a new bottle of ibuprofen requires a degree in rocket science?  Or a bag of chicken tenders … “pull tab” it says … “tear along perforation” – what perforation???  There is no tab, there is no perforation … there is a dotted line, but it is not perforated!  Get the scissors … snip, clip … okay and … nothing!  I cut along the dotted line, but it is too far above that part where you can pull it open.  Finally, a butcher knife right to the heart of the package does the trick.  How much time was just wasted?  Luckily this time only a small bandage was required … last time it was a roll of gauze and adhesive tape!  And to think … people get paid big bucks to come up with these packaging designs.  Sigh.

MSNBC is not one of my ‘go-to’ sources.  First, they are owned by Comcast.  Second, they are left-biased.  Now, granted, my own leanings are toward the left of center, but when I want news, I want news … facts, reported accurately and without significant bias toward either side.  As Joe Friday used to say in the old Dragnet show, “just the facts, ma’am”.  That said, today I give MSNBC a thumbs-up for refusing, for the second time this month, to carry a White House press event.

The first time was on November 1st when the network refused to transmit live a fearmongering presidential address about immigration and the caravan in Mexico.  The second time was yesterday afternoon when, for the first time in about a month, White House Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders deigned to hold a ‘daily’ press briefing.  The briefing was a joke, naught but propaganda such as Larry Kudlow, Trump’s Director of the National Economic Council, saying, “We’ll see what happens. … Our economy’s in very good shape right now”.  Sounds rather like a replay of something Trump has said many times, doesn’t it?  Toe the party line.  The entire briefing, from what I can gather, was more of the same.  National Security Advisor John Bolton saying that he hasn’t listened to the audio recording of the killing of Jamal Khashoggi and sees no reason to do so. sanders-msnbcSanders herself rang in with, “I don’t think the president has any concerns about the [Mueller] report because he knows that there was no wrongdoing by him and that there was no collusion.”  It was a waste of the press’ time and a waste of anybody’s time who bothered to watch it.  Press briefings have become repetitious and uninformative.  You may disagree, but I think MSNBC made the right decision in this case, and I’d like to see more of the media outlets be a bit more discriminating about just what they choose to waste our time with.

And so, you now know how a bouncy mind works, and I shall return you to your regularly scheduled life!  Thanks for bouncing along with me today!bounce

Has Anybody Seen My Mind …?

Some call it multi-tasking … I call it ‘losing my mind’.  An example.  Yesterday morning, after the usual morning ritual of hair & toothbrushing (different brushes, thankfully), bed-making and tidying the bedroom/bathroom, I headed downstairs.  Being caffeine-deprived and not yet quite “with the program”, I forgot to stick my cell phone and smokes in my pocket.  It was an hour or so before I realized my oversight, and trotted (yes, trotted, for by now I had 20 ounces of lovely caffeinated coffee running through my veins) back upstairs to retrieve the errant phone and cigs.

forgetfulOn the way up, I grabbed the spare Tide pods that were waiting on the stairs for somebody to take them up to the supply rack in the hallway.  When I got to the top of the stairs and tried to place the pods on the rack, however, there was no space.  So, I tidied and organized the rack to make room for the Tide pods.  Much better … now there was actually extra space, for I had found a couple of empty light bulb boxes that nobody had bothered to throw out, so I trotted back down the stairs to toss the empty boxes.

confused-pandaWhere was I …???  Who knows … okay, must be time to fold the towels I washed a while ago.  That done, I sat down to take a break, check the news and … wait … where are my smokes?  Oy Vey!!!  I remember now … I went upstairs to get them but got sidetracked by the rack.  Okay … back up the stairs (the trotting has slowed just a bit now).  Into the bedroom … now what did I come up here for … oh yes … cell phone and cigarettes … wait, what’s this on the night table … a receipt?  Oh yes, my last grocery trip … I haven’t put that receipt into the computer yet … better do that while I’m thinking of it.  Back downstairs, reach for a smoke and … where are my blasted cigarettes???  Oh yeah …

Well, you get the picture, right?  It might not be so bad if I could just chalk it up to a one-time thing, but … this, my friends, is my life!  Every. Single. Day.

Ziggy-job-interviewI once interviewed for a job and the interviewer asked me how well I was able to multi-task.  That was back when I was 30-something and still (mostly) had my wits about me, but even then, I told her that in my opinion, multi-tasking was a fallacy, that nobody actually managed it, and that it cut down on efficiency and productivity.  Lovely speech, don’t you think?  I didn’t get the job.  That’s okay … there was another job I didn’t get because the interviewer, who was a head-hunter (recruiter) didn’t like my shoes!  And another I didn’t get because the interviewer asked me a stupid question (If you could be any animal, what would you be, and why?) and I told her it was a stupid question and had nothing whatsoever to do with my qualifications for the position.

But in the end, it was for the best that I got none of those jobs, for it wasn’t long until somebody saw what a great accountant I was and hired me almost on the spot.  Okay, they were desperate, and I had a big strike against me, as I had recently quit a job in favour of my ethics.  You know what?  Ethics can get you in trouble in corporate America.  In the situation to which I refer, I was asked to fudge some numbers, to break the law and risk losing my CPA license were it ever revealed so I refused and resigned before I could be fired.  But, it remained a black mark on my record.

confused-donkeyHow the Sam Heck did I get off on THAT topic?  You see what I mean?  I simply cannot stay focused … I wander, I drift, and I end up in places, not having the foggiest idea how or why I got there!  And then today in my email, I had an offer from an “assisted living” place to come and tour their facility!  And I keep getting notices in the mail from funeral homes, informing me of the urgency of planning now for the inevitable!  Sheesh … just because it takes me 14 trips up the stairs to finally remember to get my phone and smokes, they think I’m ready for the ash heap?  I’ll have them know that I am just … where is my coffee … where are my smokes … why am I eating a bowl of tuna???maxine-forgetful

On Being Found Wanting

Today, our friend Roger wrote a post that I have to share with you all. In the politically divided world we find ourselves in today, it is altogether too easy to wake up one morning and find that ‘we’ have become ‘they’, that our own voices are just as toxic as those with whom we disagree. Several times in the past year I have written a post, then scrapped it after a 2nd reading, realizing that it was more vitriolic than informative. Roger’s post speaks of his own struggles to remain above the fray, and his words, spoken from his heart, have value for us all. Many thanks, Roger, for sharing your thoughts and for your kind permission to re-blog.

Eight Years Ago Today …

WP Anniversary

This morning, I found the above amidst my comments ‘n likes.  My jaw dropped.  Eight years?  I’ve been writing this blog for eight years, since 2010?  Who knew?  Of course, in the beginning it was only used as another venue for my book reviews, as I was hoping at the time to work my way into being a paid reviewer.  What could be better than getting paid for doing what you love to do anyway, right?  But, things happened, times changed, and I somehow … I’m still scratching my head here … gave up doing book reviews, stopped working on my Ph.D., and became a political blogger!  In truth, as I went back through my archives, I wrote only one post in 2010, and did not write another until 2012, when I wrote four, three of which were book reviews, including one of my favourites, Unbroken by Laura Hillenbrand.

The anniversary notice and the subsequent realization that it had been eight years already gave me some food for pondering about this blog, my blogging family, and what it all means to me.

Today, I have over 2,100 followers, but I well remember the day somewhere around 2013-2014 when I did a fist-pump because I had progressed to 30 followers!!!  I thought I was in the big leagues with my 30 followers.  Until I ran into Jason of HarsH ReaLiTy, aka aopinionatedman.  Jason had 56,000 followers and counting.  He and I have since parted ways, for he didn’t much care for my political views, but he helped me a lot in those early days, explaining the ins-and-outs of blogging, giving me pointers, and re-blogging some of my work, for which I remain eternally grateful.  I still don’t know how he does it, for he answers every comment, writes several posts each day, works a full-time job as a computer guru, and has a wife and two small children!  I struggle to write two posts a day and answer most comments, usually at 3:00 a.m.!  I hope I never get to 56,000, or I shall have to hire a staff.

The name?  This blog started as jilldennison blog.  Creative, huh?  My friend Herb — both of us speak fluent Spanish — suggested I rename it Filosofa’s Word, ‘Filosofa’ being Spanish for ‘philosopher’, and ‘word’ being English for … well, ‘word’! I liked it and so, that is what I named it!

In April 2015, my blog took a turn that was to change its face entirely and it turned into a socio-political blog with the shooting of Freddie Gray in Baltimore.  I remember that I couldn’t stop the tears, and I wrote about it as a catharsis, I needed to speak about it.  Since then I have written only three book reviews.  There goes my dream of becoming a paid reviewer, huh?  And then, of course, in June 2015 came the tsunami that would turn this into a political blog – Donald J. Trump announced his intention to run for president.  And nothing would ever be the same.  Other events in June 2015 also played a role:  The Supreme Court upheld subsidies for ACA (Obamacare) and most important of all, they ruled on Obergefell v Hodges, making same-sex marriage legal nationwide.  Also in June 2015, a young man named Dylan Roof walked into an African-American church in Charleston, South Carolina, and started shooting, killing nine people, and we came to realize that the face of our nation was changing.

And so, this blog changed its direction and is what I consider socio-political commentary, though obviously under the regime of Trump, it is more political than socio!  A few times, I fleetingly thought of giving it up, but in the back of my mind, I knew better.  It was just a debate me, myself and I needed to have to get my head back on straight, for sometimes the topics I write about take a very dark turn and send me down the rabbit hole.  So, what does this blog mean to me?

This blog takes up at least half, usually more, of my waking hours, and I would spend even more time on it if there weren’t such petty things as laundry, cooking and household chores to be done!  What I do … well, I’m pretty sure I’m not convincing any republicans that Donald Trump is a bloomin’ fool, and as my friend Hugh sometimes reminds me, I am mostly spitting in the wind, or preaching to the choir.  But, it gives me an outlet to share my thoughts, occasionally vent my angst.  But the best thing to come from writing this blog?  YOU!!!  Yes you … if you are reading this post, then you are a friend, a member of my blogging family, and you are a very real part of my life.  When I started this blog eight years ago, I never dreamed that I would meet such a wonderful and diverse bunch of people and that you guys would become friends.  Yes, friends, just as much as any that I see on a semi-regular basis.  Sometimes I tell you guys things that I don’t even tell my own family!  (No, they rarely read my blog, and then only if I threaten to withhold supper!)  

The future?  Who knows? Obviously, the best laid plans, etc., etc.  I suspect the U.S. political scene will continue to keep me busy for a few years yet, but time will tell.  A relatively new reader, Ellen, has suggested that I add an archive section to my blog, which I think is an excellent idea, and I plan to do so within the next couple of weeks.  Another reader, rawgod, has asked me twice now to feature myself in a ‘good people’ post, for he thinks I am a good people.  I don’t necessarily agree with him, but I love him for thinking so, and he is rather insistent, so who knows?

I love you guys and want to tell you all how very much it means when I see that you liked a post or left a comment.  And … well … 🥂 … here’s to another eight years together!  Thanks to you all for sticking with me and for being such great friends!

A few links to the aforementioned posts: