Olde England, carrying on

Most often these days my posts tend to be dark and depressing. I think it is time we all have a breath of fresh air!!! My dear friend Mary, writing as memoirsofahusk, has written one of the most uplifting posts I have read in a long time. Mary lives in the UK, and as we all know, they have had their share of troubles lately. She was in need of some time spent in nature to re-gain her perspective, and she shared the experience with her readers in both beautifully crafted words and gorgeous pictures (she is both a writer and a photographer). Please do yourself a favour and spend a few minutes reading Mary’s beautiful post … I promise you will smile and feel a bit of peace. Many thanks to Mary for permission to share this with my readers!


It wasn’t a dawn chorus, it was a cacophony. And it went on, and on, and on.


The lambs joined in.

Then the donkey.

Then we heard the clippety-clop.

Clutching my camera, I leaned through the tiny window, in the thick stone wall, of the old farmhouse that’s now an inn. An unusual inn…

‘Good morning,’ I called.

‘Good morning to you,’ replied the passing stranger, ‘how are you?’

‘Fine,’ I replied, ‘how are you?’

’I’m very fine,’ he responded with the biggest, sunniest smile you’ve ever seen, ‘I’m on holiday.’

A flat cap on his head, greying moustache on his upper lip. A spring in his step and a twinkle in his eyes, the gypsy was walking beside a horse pulling an old-fashioned, brightly-decorated gypsy caravan. Looking barely big enough for a man his size.

But I doubt he lives in it year round. For this is a…

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The Trump Legacy … Potties!

Okay, folks … you all know by now how I feel about Donald Trump, right?  And you know that, in my ever-so-humble opinion, the man has not done one single thing right … perhaps in his entire life, but certainly since January 20th, 2017.  But … Filosofa must give credit where credit is due, and it turns out there is one industry that he has boosted over the top.  What is this, you ask.  The porta-potty industry!

President Trump vowed on the campaign trail to boost economic growth and be the “greatest jobs producer that God ever created.”

His economic legacy is far from sealed, but it’s safe to say he has made at least one industry flush: the Washington region’s portable toilet industry. – The Washington Post, 20 May 2017

Doesn’t it make perfect sense that Trump’s legacy will be that he boosted the toilet industry?

Turns out that the connection is all the protests that have taken place, are taking place, as a result of his policies and behaviour since entering the Oval Office.  The Women’s March on 21 January, for example, required some 600 port-a-potties, which was still insufficient, I am told.  Rob Weghorst, chief operating officer of Virginia-based portable toilet rental company Don’s Johns (don’t you just love the name?  🙂  ), said the increase in political advocacy — typically among protesters with left-leaning political affinities — has translated to boom times. His company provided toilets for the Women’s March, the People’s Climate March and others on the Mall this year.

pottie-2Weghorst isn’t complaining. “All I’m going to say is that we love the activism. I’ll leave it at that. It’s been good. It’s made for an interesting and lucrative spring.”

The National Park Service (NPS), which oversees the Mall, requires demonstration permit holders to provide one portable toilet for every 300 participants, 20 percent of which must be wheelchair-accessible. NPS said it has seen more than a 30 percent increase in permitted protests compared with this time last year, with some attracting tens of thousands of people.

Frederick Hill III, owner of the District-based Gotta Go Now (another catchy name!), says his port-a-potty company has seen about a 40 percent increase in revenue each month of 2017 compared with a year earlier. So far in May, business is running 50 percent ahead of last year. Depending on the bulk of the order, Gotta Go Now charges between $85 and $125 per toilet, including delivery and pickup.

Jordan Uhl, who is planning the June 3rd March For Truth, said that the potties will be his single largest expense, around $5,000.  Most who have contributed to the online funding campaign for this event probably had no idea that their money was going to rent toilets!


Given the current state of the Trump administration, there is every reason to believe that protests will continue and draw increasingly huge (or is it yuge?) crowds, as more and more people are affected and become cognizant of the chaos Trump & Co. has made of our nation.  Thus … the demand for port-a-potties is not likely to diminish any time soon!  My advice?  Buy stock in Don’s Johns!  And as for Trump … well, never let it be said that he didn’t fill Washington D.C. with a bunch of … er … poop.


One-way glass porta-pottie


A Breath Of Fresh Air!!!

Tonight I wanted … nay, I needed … to write about something other than … well, you-know-who.  So I spent some three hours searching for a story that had nothing to do with U.S. politics.  You wouldn’t believe how hard that was!!!  Even the European news sites had all you-know-who … every single bloomin’ story!  But I knew I had found my story when I saw this picture …Milner-1This woman’s office is the first I have seen that looks worse than my own!  The woman is one Dr. Brenda Milner, a professor of psychology in the department of neurology and neurosurgery at McGill University in Montreal, best known for discovering the seat of memory in the brain, the foundational finding of cognitive neuroscience. Now, if I knew what all that meant …

Milner-3Dr. Milner is 98 years old and still going strong!  Dr. Milner continues working, because she sees no reason not to. Neither McGill nor the affiliated Montreal Neurological Institute and Hospital has asked her to step aside. “People think because I’m 98 years old I must be emerita,” she said. “Well, not at all. I’m still nosy, you know, curious.” 

In 2014 she won three prominent achievement awards, which came with money for research. She has a project: a continuing study to investigate how the healthy brain’s intellectual left hemisphere coordinates with its more aesthetic right one in thinking and memory. (Perhaps I should travel up to Montreal, because I am fairly certain that my left and right hemispheres do not coordinate with one another at all!!!)

She has made some concessions to her age … she only goes into the office about three days a week now.  “And I have some rules,” she added. “I will take on postdoctoral students, but not graduate students. Graduate students need to know you’ll be around for five years or so, and well” — she chuckled, looking up at the ceiling — “well, it’s very difficult if they have to switch to someone else, you know.”

Dr. Milner changed the course of brain science for good as a newly minted Ph.D. in the 1950s by identifying the specific brain organ that is crucial to memory formation. I will leave out the technical detail, as I do not understand it myself, but for any interested, this New York Times article gives more detail about her work and is quite fascinating.

Milner-2Dr. Milner was born in Manchester, England, and was homeschooled until age 8 by her father, a music critic and piano teacher. By the time she was 6-years-old, she was fluent in German as well as English.  She fell in love with mathematics and science and earned a scholarship to Cambridge University.  She has over 20 honorary degrees and many distinguished awards, far too numerous to list here.

Though she does not drive, Dr. Milner did once pass her driving test …

The driving instructor wiped his brow with a handkerchief, and not just because of the heat. His student — a grown woman, squinting over the dashboard — was ramming the curb in an effort to parallel park.

“We reached an agreement, right then and there: He let me pass the test, and I promised never to drive,” Brenda Milner said, smiling to herself at the decades-old memory. “You see, my spatial skills aren’t so good. That’s primarily a right-brain function.” – New York Times, 15 May 2017

Fortunately, she doesn’t need to drive to work.  “I live very close; it’s a 10-minute walk up the hill, so it gives me a good reason to come in regularly.”

I admire this woman very much!  She is dedicated and has a sense of humour, and most important, she isn’t letting age slow her down, but just keeps on giving of her time and talents.  I am 23 years younger than she, and I suspect her energy levels far exceed my own.  I am so glad I stumbled across Dr. Milner tonight!

Are Animals More Human Than Humans?

I consider myself an animal rights activist. Though I do not carry signs and march alongside PETA, I support animal rights both financially and in my writing.  Frankly, today I think animal rights are probably a much worthier cause than human rights, since animals are more pure of spirit and, as I am given to understand, inhabited the earth long before humans.  I do not wish to write tonight of Trump, the disastrous health care bill, Tillerson, Sessions, or any of the other ugly aspects of our daily life.  Instead, I wish to write about … pigs.

The headline that piqued my curiosity read …

Woman who helps thirsty pigs evades jail

Of course, I first thought the pigs were jail-bound, but upon closer reading (with a magnifying glass), I determined the woman who was helping the poor, thirsty pigs, was for some reason, jail-bound.

The story, as told by BBC, goes like this:

An Ontario judge dismissed mischief charges against Anita Krajnc, ending a legal battle that captured the global attention of animal rights activists.

Judge David Harris said he was not convinced that Ms Krajnc obstructed the use of property when she gave water to pigs headed to slaughter.

Ms Krajnc said it confirms “compassion is not a crime”.

Mischief to property is a criminal offence in Canada related to the wilful destruction or damage of property.

Justice Harris wrote in his decision that he is satisfied that Ms Krajnc “did not obstruct, interrupt or interfere with the lawful use, enjoyment or operation of any property” when in July 2015, she gave water to a few animals being carried in a tractor trailer filled with 190 pigs going to a slaughterhouse outside Toronto.

Ms Krajnc, who co-founded an organisation called Toronto Pig Save in 2011, regularly gathered with other activists on a traffic island at an intersection near a large slaughterhouse to pet the animals and give them water.

But this time, the truck driver confronted Ms Krajnc and police were called. A video of the tense encounter was posted online by the activists.

During her trial, supporters crammed into the courtroom, many sitting on the floor. Members of the media sat in the prisoner’s box.

Despite her win on Thursday, Ms Krajnc told the BBC she has “mixed feelings” about the decision.

“We were hoping for recognition in the legal system that pigs and other animals are simply not property – that they are sentient beings, that they have basic rights,” she said.


So, doesn’t that raise a number of questions in your mind?  It doesn’t, you say?  Awwww … c’mon … play along here and don’t force me back into the world of … well, you know … just yet.  Filosofa is trying to de-stress here, and the least you can do is play along …

So, (for those of you still reading) the first question is:  Should animals have the same rights as humans? Well, in a case in New York in 2015, two chimps, Leo and Hercules, went to court.  Their lawyers wanted them removed from an animal testing facility to an animal sanctuary.  The judge, one Barbara Jaffe, suggested the chimps had the right of habeas corpus – the ancient legal principle under which the state has an obligation to produce missing individuals before a court.


But later, the judge changed the wording and suggested that the court does not consider the animals to be legal persons. Awwwwww …. This story was supposed to DE-stress me …  😥

The year before, there was the story of another chimp named Tommy, in which case a judge said a chimp was not entitled to the same rights as people.


And this led to the term speciesism, defined as: “the idea that being human is a good enough reason for human animals to have greater moral rights than non-human animals. …a prejudice or bias in favour of the interests of members of one’s own species and against those of members of other species.”

Now, folks … look around you at the world today.  Do ‘human animals’ ACT like they have ‘greater moral’ rights?  Do they even act like they have morals? If humans are to be considered “superior”, then does it not follow that they have a moral obligation to care for those who fall beneath them in the … um … food chain?

If you made it this far, thank you for putting up with this rambling-of-the-mind post, but the mind was rather like a rubber band wound too tight and needed to be let off the leash for just a bit.  I shall return in a bit with more of my usual fare.  Meanwhile, if you see a thirsty pig today … give him a bit of water.


Good Monday to all!  I don’t know about you, but personally, I am suffering a case of “political overload” at the moment, after Saturday’s primaries and caucuses, Sunday’s debate, and all the Trumpola thrown in my face for the last several days/weeks/months. Mondays are tough enough without adding angst to the equation. So, I decided today I would find other, more fun and interesting things to write about before returning to wading through the muck on the morrow.  Here are a few brief blurbs I ran across in my journeys through the netherworld.


The Guinness World Record book is famous for some of its oddball categories.  Bet you didn’t know there is even one for the loudest burp!  That record was broken by an Australian man who says it was the fulfillment of his lifelong dream. (The Week, 2016)  How loud was his burp?  110.6 decibels or louder than a motorcycle or power saw from three feet away.  “It’s been a bit of a goal from when I was a kid,” he says.  He credits his success to regular training sessions with carbonated drinks, including beer. There are also categories for the loudest female burp and for loudest fart.  Okay … well, um … moving along now …


A 16-year-old kid teaching a group of 70+ seniors to take selfies?  Well, it seems like an idea that just might catch on!  How many of us over a certain age have to ask our kids or grandkids to help us with our phones, computers and other 21st century devices?  Back in the day (I’m not saying which day), I could rebuild a computer, but these days, I cannot even make the DVD player display closed captioning without the assistance of my granddaughter.  A young man, Christian Magnuson, volunteered to help out at a retirement home (I like this kid already!), where he noticed that most of the residents had smartphones, but they were at a loss as to how to do much more than turn them on.  I can relate … until recently I couldn’t figure out how to make a call on mine though I could text like a pro!  Anyway, Christian, age 16, started teaching a weekly class to teach the seniors such things as taking pictures (including selfies), changing ringtones, texting, and what all those little icons mean.  He is also teaching them about something called “Siri” … whatever the heck that is!  I think I am the one who needs his classes.  Two thumbs up to this young man!  (Bahrampour, 2016)


R.I.P. Nancy Reagan.  While I frequently disagreed with Ronald Reagan’s policies and ideology, Nancy Reagan was a gracious First Lady.  She brought to the White House a sense of style, but, more importantly, graciousness, a gentleness, warmth, and charm.


Two brothers in Florida both won the lottery on the same day, but with separate tickets!  What are the odds, you ask?  The two brothers, James and Bob Stocklas, had been vacationing in Florida when, as they were heading back to their home in Pennsylvania, they each bought a lottery ticket.  Their winnings?  Well, James won $291 million while Bob won a whopping $7.  But never fear … James plans to share.  “We’ve been laughing a lot about it, he doesn’t need to worry about nothing,” James told the New York Daily News. “Family’s family. He’s not going to worry about anything.” (Moran, 2016)


butterfly and bee

Of butterflies and bees … one is in decline, but the other is making a comeback.  First, the good news:  the Monarch Butterfly population has more than tripled this year, after multiple years of decline.  Credit goes to a joint effort between Mexico, the U.S. and Canada for planting more milkweed plants, and cracking down on illegal logging.  Now the really bad news:  the honeybee population, which has been decreasing since at least 2006, has decreased by some 70% in Iowa, the Dakotas, Montana and Minnesota, and by 50% in California. There seems to be no single cause, but a complicity of climate changes, pesticide and fungicide over-use, genetically altered crops and other man-made causes.  This is critical because “no other single animal species plays a more significant role in producing the fruits and vegetables that we humans commonly take for granted yet require near daily to stay alive”. http://www.globalresearch.ca/death-and-extinction-of-the-bees/5375684.  Albert Einstein once prophetically remarked, “Mankind will not survive the honeybees’ disappearance for more than five years.”  Many efforts are underway to achieve a solution to this problem … let us hope it works!

No Politics Monday #2

Welcome once again to “No-Politics Monday”.  I have decided to make this a weekly tradition, as the one I did last Monday seemed to make a few people happy, and as I said last week, Mondays are hard enough already.  So every Monday I will abstain from my usual socio-political commentary and attempt to find more light-hearted, upbeat topics.  Mondays only, though!

Saturday night the time changed here in the U.S.  Clocks went forward by an hour … yes, a whole 60 minutes … whether we wanted them to or not.  I awakened yesterday morning with a headache, so I have decided that I will not participate in daylight savings time all at once, but shall accept the time change in increments of ten minutes per day for six days, starting today (Monday).  Therefore, dinner will be served at 7:50 p.m. tonight, 7:40 p.m. on Tuesday, and so on until finally on Saturday we will be back to eating at 7:00.  Apologies to my family for rumbly tummies or other inconveniences, but I simply cannot lose the entire hour at once.

I came across a few bits of interesting trivia this morning:

  • That lovely red condiment, ketchup, that which makes most any food palatable, is banned in primary school cafeterias in France. Not for any health reasons, but rather because “We have to ensure that children become familiar with French recipes so that they can hand them down to the following generation,” implying that ketchup is in some way ruining French cuisine,” according to the chairman of the National Association of Directors of Collective Restaurants. http://www.telegraph.co.uk/foodanddrink/8806553/The-French-have-some-sauce-to-ban-tomato-ketchup.html
  • I bet there are a lot of parents in the U.S., especially in the month of December, who wish we could adopt this Swedish law: television advertisements that are specifically directed at children under the age of 12 have been banned in Sweden since 1991. At the time, research showed that children could not clearly differentiate between advertising and regular programming until this age. http://www.commondreams.org/headlines01/0529-05.htm
  • Last month I told you my feelings about Valentine’s Day, so imagine my goofy grin when I found out the Valentine’s Day is, in fact, banned in Saudi Arabia! But not for the reason you might think … it is banned because, although it no longer has a religious connotation, it began as a Christian holiday, and Saudi Arabia is an Islamic nation.  Saudi Arabia actually bans Valentine’s Day and actively prevents celebration by raiding and confiscating any floral arrangements, chocolates, or gifts for sale in mid-February that may be seen as symbols of love. http://worldnews.about.com/od/saudiarabia/qt/vdaysaudis.htm
  • Do you chew gum? I don’t, have not since before I was a teenager with braces many years ago, but if you do chew gum, you may want to avoid Singapore on your next trip to Asia.  Chewing gum has been banned there since 1992 in an effort to make the country more sanitary and progressive, as the habit was seen as old-fashioned and disgusting.  I can’t say that I disagree with them, especially the way some people chew gum! http://www.bbc.com/news/magazine-32090420
  • Want to name your child “Bailey”, or “Lee”, or some other name that could be suitable for either a boy or a girl? Not in Germany!  In Germany a person’s first name must clearly indicate their gender. This means that babies cannot be named unisex names (i.e. Sam, Alex), names for the opposite gender (i.e. naming a girl Robert), or last names (i.e. Anderson, Emerson). If you want to challenge one of these rules you must go through a lengthy and expensive appeals process wherein a government office will evaluate your chosen name and it’s suitability. Other countries also have laws regulating what you may name your baby … be sure to check out the link: http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2014/04/24/banned-baby-names_n_5134075.html

Just a few days ago, I updated my October 2014 piece about driverless cars, then yesterday I came across this snippet and just couldn’t resist passing it along:

Spend enough time behind the wheel, and chances are you’re going to see some pretty wild things — if you work for Google, at least.

One time, an onlooker was so excited to see one of the company’s self-driving cars pass by that he ran out onto the street completely naked and leaped onto the vehicle.

Another time, the car had to slow down because there were as many as three other cars driving the wrong way up the street toward it.

There was the time a group of people hopped across the street in front of a Google car, interrupting its route with a real-life game of Frogger.

And then there was the mysterious case of a woman in an electric wheelchair chasing a duck in circles in the middle of the street.


So, that wraps up my non-political Monday.  I leave you with this from Calvin & Hobbes, arguably the best cartoon strip ever written:


Time and Distance … Lessons From History


A comment on a Facebook post Saturday night greatly disturbed me and set my mind on a path, trying to understand how or why anybody in their right mind would make such a comment.  The original post was by my friend A, and it was a relatively innocuous political post.  Nothing to inspire hateful comments, not really anything particularly controversial.  But one of A’s friends who I do not personally know, responded with the following:

“Everyone has their opinions, yes I voted for him but I would have voted for Hitler himself before I would EVER have voted for Hillary! I don’t debate politics nor do I disrespect anyone that did… This is simply my opinion.”

I was so incredulous that I had to read and re-read the comment several times to be sure I was seeing what I thought I was seeing.  Surely NOBODY would EVER say such a thing!  But she did. I responded with relative calm, telling her that her remark was exceedingly inappropriate and adding a suggestion that she invest in a history book or two.

Within an hour or so, the comment and with it my response were removed, so either she realized the error of her ways, or was just angry and removed her comment.  I neither know nor particularly care which.  But I did a lot of thinking, wondering why she made that comment in such a flippant, off-hand manner.

I have always heard that history is cyclic, and perhaps it is so.  I was born a few short years after the end of World War II.  My grandfather had fought in World War I.  My father and uncles had fought in World War II. I grew up hearing of the horrors wrought on the world by Adolph Hitler, thus the war and the Holocaust were as real to me as if I had been there in person.  I vividly remember the story my father told of going to sleep in a building in Dunkirk and waking up a few hours later … in the only corner that remained of the building.  Stories of brutality, of man’s inhumanity to man.  It was real to me, and by the time I was about five, I hated Hitler with a burning passion.

history-7When I had children of my own, I spoke of these things.  My now-grown children understand what Hitler did, despise him for what he did, but with a few degrees less passion than I, because of distance and time.  I liken it to parents trying to teach a child a valuable lesson that they, themselves learned.  More often than not, the child cannot learn from the parent’s mistakes, but must go out and make his own in order to fully understand the lesson.  For twelve years I taught history to my homeschooled granddaughter, and I suppose my passion on the subject got through, because she was almost as offended as I when she saw the comment that began this post.  But other young people I know are pitifully lacking in even understanding quite what Hitler did that was so bad, and they really have no idea how he rose to power, the set of circumstances that enabled him to do so.  Is this a failure on the part of our schools, or is it that to these young people it is such ancient history that they do not feel a connection, and therefore lack interest?

If this line of thinking is correct, and I have no idea whether or not it is, then are we doomed to make the same mistakes … is history destined to repeat itself? Perhaps we are enough generations removed from the horrors of the Nazis and the Third Reich that it is much diminished in the minds of those who are in what is now called the millennial generation. How, then, will people see Hitler, Stalin, Mussolini and others in another 100 years?  Will the memory, the lessons, be so diluted in another century that Hitler is seen as nothing much more than “just another bad leader”?

history-6And what does this say about us as humans?  Are we so self-focused that events not directly affecting us are irrelevant?  A fellow-blogger recently wrote a post where she suggests that we in the U.S. have been blind to the human tragedies in Syria, Aleppo, Sudan, Yemen, and many others.  And she is right … we have been, for the most part. Why?  Because they do not directly affect us?  Just as the past horrors that affected our ancestors no longer affect us.  I am reminded of the legendary feud between the Hatfields and the McCoys that transcended multiple generations until finally nobody remembered what the original feud was about.

Where am I going with this?  I have no idea.  The comment that the person ‘would have voted for Hitler’ just sent my mind tumbling around trying to figure out how anybody could think it is okay to say such a thing, and what you have just read is the result of those mind acrobatics.  Just something to think about.

Bits of Nothingness from Filosofa’s Mind

“Mindwandering (sometimes referred to as task-unrelated thought) is the experience of thoughts not remaining on a single topic for a long period of time, particularly when people are engaged in an attention-demanding task.”

mind-1Today is rather a sad day, President Barack Obama’s last full day in office.  Even if he were being replaced by an equally dignified, intellectual person, I would still be feeling, as I think many are today, a bit of nostalgia.  But to see the next occupant of the White House, a man who cannot speak well, who is a loud, insufferable bully, replace a well-spoken, intelligent law professor … it’s just too much, too sad.  So, to cheer myself today, and hopefully take your minds off politics and world affairs for a few minutes at least, I have decided to just let my mind wander where it will for this post.  Might be funny, might leave you simply shaking your head.  My mind, rarely let off its leash, is a strange creature …

keysI was thinking about keys this morning.  Why?  Because my keyring was residing on my nightstand, which is NOT where it belongs, and I was lying back against the headboard of the bed, just too tired to get up, yet knowing I shouldn’t go back to sleep.  So, I noticed my keyring on the nightstand.  My keyring, prior to my retirement in 2008, held many keys, in fact it was so heavy that periodically it made holes in my pockets.  I had a key to the outer building, to my own office, to the vault, to my bosses office, the mailroom, as well as my personal keys: house, car, mailbox.  Now my keyring holds a single key, the key to the house.  Until a year or so ago, I at least had three keys, but my granddaughter took over the task of checking the mail every day, so I transferred that key to her keyring.  Then I sold my 25-year-old car for $40 (it was dead anyway), and there went another key.  Now … just the house key.  But that’s okay, because my keyring no longer makes holes in my pockets!


And speaking of keys … a few weeks ago, actually shortly before Christmas, I took my daughter’s Saturn out to do a bit of shopping.  It is a medium shade of grey, and has a clicker thing-a-ma-jig with buttons to unlock the car.  So, distracted as my mind usually is, I came out of a store … walked to the car and hit the button with a picture of an open lock.  Nothing happened.  I clicked it again.  Still nothing.  Looking into the car, I noticed a child’s car seat, and thought … “Hmmmm – I wonder what that’s doing in here? (we have no young children, thus do not own a car seat)” Clicked the button again, still nothing.  Then a voice behind me says, “You can stand there and press that button all day, but it won’t open that car, because it’s my car.”  Oops!  Wouldn’t you think the car seat would have given me a clue?  I apologized, and luckily for me she was understanding, and we even laughed over it.  I actually did the same thing a week or two ago, but the car I slid into was unlocked, and as soon as I sat down in the driver’s seat I realized it wasn’t mine.  I really do need to stop and think sometimes.

lemonsSometimes it takes very little to add a spot of happiness to a person’s day.  Last night, that very little thing was soap.  Liquid soap, specifically.  We use liquid soap in bathrooms and also in the kitchen.  Once every three months we replenish our stash, as it were, and buy a variety of scents.  I am partial to citrus-y smelling things, while the girls like floral, strawberry, and other scents.  Anyway, we go through a lot of liquid soap and last night the pine-scented one in the kitchen squirted its final drops and it was time to crack open a new bottle.  The lemon smell … somehow brought a smile to my face, and I washed my hands yet a second time, just to smell the lemon for a little longer.  It takes very little to make me happy … sometimes, at least.

And thinking of the lemon soap reminds me that I need to toss a load of laundry into the dryer, unload the dishwasher, and do a few other chores, so I shall finish this senseless rambling and give you a few cartoons to brighten your day just a bit.  Meanwhile, I hope everyone has a good day … try not to let things get you down …

I have a funny story to go with this first cartoon.  Many years ago, a new restaurant had opened, and I was looking online at their menu, to see if they had anything that would make us want to try it out.  I saw Crab Rangoon on the menu, which is a favourite of mine, so I excitedly said to my daughter that we simply had to check out this restaurant, because they serve Crab Rangoon.  She mis-heard me (there is a LOT of that in our family!) and thought I said Cracked Raccoon … which of course led to much laughter and to this day, we all call it that.





Thanksgiving Thoughts

turkey-2.jpgTomorrow is the big day … a good one if you are a human or a domestic pet, but not-so-good if you are a turkey.  I thought in honour of the U.S. holiday called Thanksgiving, I would provide a bit of trivia for your reading pleasure.  Did you know ….

  • Thanksgiving was initially the last Thursday in November? Until 1939, that is, when the National Retail Dry Goods Association requested that President Franklin D. Roosevelt issue a decree changing the holiday to the fourth Thursday in order to extend the holiday shopping season in years that there happen to be five Thursdays in November, as there were in 1939.  No surprise … most monumental decisions have their basis in cold, hard cash. (Yes, I am snarky even on holidays!)
  • In 2009, President Obama pardoned a turkey named Courage?
  • In 2007, President George W. Bush pardoned two turkeys named May and Flower? May and Flower were then treated to a trip to Disney World in Orlando, Florida, where they were given the honour of being grand marshals for the Disney Thanksgiving Parade.
  • turkey.pngThere is no record that turkey was actually on the menu at the first Thanksgiving dinner, but lobster definitely was? Potatoes, also, were definitely not on the table, as they had not yet found their way to North America.

We all know the fairy tale we learned in our first years of school, about how the pilgrims arrived in the ‘New World’, needed help learning to grow their own food, the natives taught them so well that they had a wonderful harvest the next year, thus they invited their newfound native friends to join them in a three-day feast and they all sat around eating, smoking wampum, and eating some more.  We also all know that this is not quite the way things went down, but I’m not getting into all that.  However, I came across an interesting article titled What Really Happened at the First Thanksgiving? The Wampanoag Side of the Tale   I thought you might enjoy.

Today, I think the story of the first Thanksgiving, whatever version you relate to, has very little to do with our celebration of this holiday.  For many, sadly, the main focus is on materialism … shopping, shopping, and still more shopping.  Stressing themselves out by getting up at 4:00 a.m. to go stand in line in the cold to be the first to get that latest video game for young Johnny’s Christmas.  For others, it is a food fest … an attempt to put so much food on the table (and in their bellies) that the table has not a remaining square inch of surface showing, and the bellies are distended for days.  But I think that for the majority of us, at least I hope, it is simply a time to step back from the day-to-day business and enjoy the company of friends and family.  It is a day to take stock, to remember that we here in the U.S. have much to be thankful for even on our worst days.  It is a day to put aside the disagreements, the angst, and just enjoy loved ones, laugh, reminisce.  Good food?  Sure, that is a part of it, but we can be thankful even if all we are eating is a peanut butter sandwich.  Shopping?  If that’s your thing, then go for it, but don’t let it be the focus of the day … put it in perspective.

Today I put politics aside and wish everyone a safe and happy Thanksgiving holiday.  Enjoy the people sitting around your table, laugh a lot, enjoy your meal, and take this one day to be relaxed and happy before plunging into the frenzy of the upcoming holidays.  Live in the moment.  Happy Thanksgiving!


On Twitter, Twits and Tweets

I think we all need a break from the drama of this past week.  I have written extensively about da trumpeter, and I need a break.  However, all roads, as they say, lead back to Rome, or in this case Trump, eventually.  Today’s topic?  As the title suggests, today’s topic is Twitter.

“Twitter, the well-known but less-well-used social network of 140-character quips about the news, is polarizing. You’re either an addict, or you don’t get it.” – Farhad Monjoo, New York Times, 12 November 2016

twitter-1I am one of those who ‘just don’t get it’.  I have a Twitter account (@GrannieJ) that I never use, though I do post my blog there, and some people actually do ‘follow’ me, which I find rather creepy.  The main thing I don’t ‘get’ about Twitter is the 140-character limitation.  I don’t have thoughts of 140 characters or less.  Virtually all my thoughts happen in a minimum of 1,000 characters, as evidenced by some of my uber-long sentences.  The other thing I don’t get is why people think that the world, or even their friends, are interested in every little passing thought they have, or what they had for lunch.  And I have to wonder how people have time to tweet all these random and meaningless thoughts!  Personally, I have too much to do.  What … do people just sit around waiting for a thought to pop into their heads and say, “OH … a thought … I must tweet this so that all my friends will know I had a thought!”

During 2016, much of the world’s news was covered in real-time on Twitter.  Live coverage of the presidential debates?  Twitter.  San Bernardino and Paris and Brexit and Scalia and the Cubs … Twitter.  Not to mention that if you really cared what the latest foul things to come from Donald Trump’s mind at 3:00 a.m. were … Twitter.  More and more of late I find that when I am researching a topic, I often end up directed to a series of tweets, rather than a nice text article.  Sigh.  Perhaps I am old-school, but I find that short blips containing those annoying #hashtags are not conducive to serious thought.


But the end may be near.  According to the New York Times article, “As a business, Twitter had not been having a good run before the presidential election reached its spectacular conclusion. New users aren’t joining the service and longtime denizens have been using it less. When Twitter tried to sell itself this fall, nobody wanted to buy it.”  Apparently, Google, Apple, and Salesforce were all looking at the company, but none decided to buy, sending Twitter’s stock plunging.  The reasons cited were that Twitter isn’t growing fast enough, it doesn’t make enough money, and it is overrun by trolls, morons, and bullies. I would also suggest that it is one of those things that, like Hula-hoops and bell-bottom pants, the novelty is simply wearing off.

twitter-3Created in 2006 by Jack Dorsey, Noah Glass, Biz Stone, and Evan Williams, Twitter now has more than 310 million monthly active users.  Seriously???  That is almost equivalent to the entire population of the U.S.!  People really are bored, aren’t they?  According to Wikipedia, “On Election Day 2016, Twitter proved to be the largest source of breaking news, with 40 million tweets sent by 10 p.m. that day.” I got my updates from the Guardian and New York Times.

With much going on this year, the 2016 election, refugee crisis, the coup in Turkey, populist candidates in Europe (LePen, Hofer, etc), there has been much to tweet about, but can Twitter remain popular into the future?  My blogger-friend Erik Hare of Barataria wrote an article on this last month and he says, “The problem with twitter is a simple one. It’s something like a news ticker for everyone, which is to say anyone can put out any kind of news they want. There is no filter, no organization, and certainly no way to say anything substantial. There has never been anything useful on it.” I tend to agree.  Check out his article … Twitter Must Die! (and it will)

twitter-4Trump has been enamoured of Twitter this year, but one hopes he will find more traditional venues for expressing his thoughts after he takes office.  That, I imagine, will be another nail in the coffin of Twitter.  Twitter itself is not the problem, but the way people use it is annoying and even, at times, offensive.  But then, that is the nature of social media these days.  I resisted joining Facebook for four years until 2008 when my granddaughter convinced me I would enjoy playing Farmville with her. Today, I am considering going back to a life without Facebook.  These days, it seems that all social media are not much more than a venue for people to vent, to proliferate hate and turmoil, and some days the cost outweighs the benefit.

twitter-5We … well, some of us anyway … bemoan the fact that civil discourse and intelligent conversation seems to be a thing of the past.  I wonder if things like Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter might not be part of the cause.  Granted, education, or the lack thereof, plays the greater role, but when people get in the habit of speaking their minds with no filter in short, 140-character blips, and using acronyms rather than whole sentences, it seems to me that it inhibits sensible conversations.  There are even endless lists of acronyms, in case you do not understand what your friend meant when he said ‘ANFSCD’!  (and now for something completely different). That said, if Twitter goes by the wayside, no doubt it will be replaced by something equally bizarre.  Those of us who are still capable of coherent thoughts longer than 140 characters, will continue to soh.  (Shake our heads)