Sunday, December 31, 2006

A Look at 2006

A sure-fired way to get rid of the doldrums in January: an amaryllis or two...

March: A visit to the sculpture garden at the DeCordova Museum, Waltham, Mass. If you ask me, this winter tree is a beautiful enough sculpture:

March: My best friends from high school, Janet (below, left), and her daughter, Amanda, visited us during their whirlwind tour of the northeast looking at colleges. Where did Amanda end up? I don't know, but Fordham University was the lead school last I heard from my New Mexico pal.

April: Bob and I enjoyed a walk through Boston's public garden on a spectacular early spring day.

Late May saw us travel to Portland, Oregon, to visit my brother and his soon-to-be wife, Tara. Here are some of the highlights (or at least some of my favorite pictures):

My August birthday celebration featured a Red Sox T-shirt of one of my favorite new players, Jonathan Papelbon. Hey, how many days till spring training?

Our favorite Labor Day celebration is our visit to the Tanglewood Jazz Festival. Hard to see it here, but this is Elvis Costello playing with a jazz pianist Marian MacPartland. Nice, except the weather in the Berkshires was a bit chilly. This is Seiji Ozawa Hall, a beautiful place, both visually and acoustically.

Our Tanglewood trip is almost always followed by a visit to our favorite local museum in North Adams, Massachusetts: the Massachusetts Museum of Contemporary Art (or Mass MoCA). Below is a self-portrait of the two of us in their large fesitival installation:

And this rather interesting installation that is way too hard to describe but was more interesting than you can believe. It involved projectors and lighting and some willingness to play along...This is Bob and me where I touch his heart from 10 feet away.

Late September was bad at the office, but we salvaged a beautiful day at the Cape, visiting our friend, Joan (center). My best pal, Susan, is on the left and my great buddy, Ethel, is on the right:

Columbus Day: We took at day-trip to Newport, Rhode Island, flew some kites, did a little shopping and had a great dinner at a local restaurant. This is sunset in Newport Harbor - a favorite picture:

In October, my friend, Julie, suggested we take in the Topsfield Fair, one of the oldest of its kind in the country. We saw farm animals, kids' 4H displays, tacky, tacky souveniers and food that would give you a heart attack. Here, Julie seems to enjoy my skepticism at looking at the rather large cows. (We did miss the 29-inch high horse, supposedly you had to pay $1 to see it, even though one of us just walked up and saw it when its keeper wasn't looking. And NO, it wasn't moi or Julie.)

November brought us many happy events, not the least of which was the Democrat takeover of Congress (sorry, I can't resist a political comment), but it also included Bob's birthday:

Mary Lou's Birthday, November 22: The girls in our family, minus 1
Thanksgiving and Jennifer's wedding are documented on my flickr site (see the left column to see them in detail). But I especially liked this one:

Christmas 2006: Our tree was especially nice this year and has held up really well ...even tonight as I type.

Our friends, George and Sharon, bring their daughters every Christmas for a visit when they come to see their own family. We were lucky to have a concert this year by Amelia (almost 5) and Zhen (nearly 10):


Saturday, December 30, 2006

He Even Lies About His Bedtime

Well, ol' Saddam finally got what he deserved last night. But the Crawford Village Idiot supposedly didn't even take note of it.

Before the hanging was carried out in Baghdad, Mr. Bush went to sleep here at his ranch and was not roused when the news came.
This was 9 pm Central Time, folks. Do you really think he was tucked in for the night? Highly doubtful, but he's trying to portray a "what? me worry?" persona. I have a feeling that he was watching the whole thing, with his Father Complex all hanging out. "He tried to kill my Daddy. But, I killed him!"

Probably gave Laura the night of her life.


Wednesday, December 27, 2006

He Was Jerry Ford; and You're Not

You've all heard by now that Gerald Ford died last night. I was in college when he succeeded Tricky Dick as President. At the time, nearly all young Americans were fixated with scorn and anger at Nixon and we had spent at least a year (probably more) awaiting his leave-taking from the White House. When it finally happened, the day before my 20th birthday, I accepted it as a personal gift as I left my teens behind.

But I also recall that I was just a little disappointed with Jerry Ford and his blandness. With his elevation to the presidency, there was a total transformation of the White House. It became a much more approachable and more modern place. There were normal teenagers in his family and this President actually cooked his own breakfast. It seemed as if one of our suburban neighbors had been named president.

And then, of course, came Saturday Night Live and Chevy Chase's hilarious imitations of Mr. Ford. I remember watching this brand new show in a pot-smoking haze and although it may be hard to believe, this show was revolutionary for depicting a president as a bumbling fool. And I have to say, even though I have always been a dyed-in-the-wool Democrat, his wife Betty has always been a particular favorite of mine. She always seemed a lot more left-leaning and I suspected had a great influence on him. I heard tonight that we can thank JerryFord for putting Justice Stevens on the Supreme Court. Certainly wouldn't hear of that kind of moderation these days.

So, rest in peace, Mr. Ford. It is a successful person, never mind President, who in death is described as decent, honorable, a man of integrity, capable, humble, kind, sincere and wise. His wife and children can be very proud.

UPDATE: This morning, I woke up to news reports that President Ford told Bob Woodward that he would not have gone to war in Iraq, back in 2004! This on top of Nancy Reagan's mini-swipe at the Chimp for not supporting stem cell research (in her remarks noting the passing of Jerry Ford). The cheese really does stand alone these days, doesn't he? Damn.

Saturday, December 23, 2006

Christmas: The Prequel

It's a mellow night here on Russell Avenue. Bought a SHIT-load of great food, the house is decorated, the presents all bought (but not all wrapped as yet). The strange thing about December 23, 2006 in Massachusetts, is that it was 53 degrees today - it sure is strange to do Christmas shopping wearing a light jacket and with the smell of spring in the air. Will we pay in January? Who knows?

Had a great swim today, haven't been to the Y for a couple of weeks due to a nice head cold and the other pre-Christmas duties. It was a little crowded at the pool, but since I didn't have any other plans today, I just relaxed and went with the flow. I shared a swimlane with a woman somewhat older than me who swam in a bright red suit - perfect for the season, I told her. She complained the whole time about what a job it was to exercise and when I turned at the deep end I would see her with her head laying down on the side of the pool. It was strange because she wasn't a bad swimmer, but she sure was fighting it.

Me, I love to swim. I give myself a situation or a problem to solve and noodle on it the whole hour I swim back and forth. When times were tough at work in the fall, I solved a prickly problem during my laps. Today, I figured out the last coupla presents for Bobbers. In upcoming swims, I will probably plan our trip to Ireland this June for my Brother's wedding. For some reason, I don't have the same kinda luck with problem-solving when I'm on the treadmill - I find that dreadfully dull unless I can watch tv or focus on a visual.

Just enjoyed our dinner appetizer of fried calamari, among the many treats I bought at Trader Joe's yesterday. I'm watching "One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest" on tv...and remembering what a B-i-t-c-h that Nurse Ratched is. I think she's probably the meanest villain EVER. I don't think I'll watch it much longer because it will spoil my Christmas buzz. McMurphy just figured out that he's not getting out when his jail sentence expires. *click* I've turned the station. Ahhh, "Hitch," a much better choice for blogging and sipping wine.

Ahhhh well, I wish everyone a wonderful weekend - more to come, I hope.

Monday, December 11, 2006

Christmas Giving

Want to do something nice for a veteran? Here's your chance. Working Assets, along with other partners, is collecting donations to provide calling cards for wounded veterans:

Working Assets, Veterans for Peace, CODEPINK, Iraq Veterans Against the War and Gold Star Families for Peace have teamed up on a project to thank our veterans by sending them phone cards loaded with 125 minutes of domestic long-distance calling time. We'll purchase these cards and deliver them to VA Medical Facilities all over the country on December 18th. (If you want to join in delivering the cards to a VA hospital near you, just click on the link you'll see after making your gift.

$10 will cover the cost of phone cards for three veterans. $20 will buy six phone cards. $33 will buy ten cards. $100 will buy phone cards for 30 veterans to call home over the holidays. 100% of your gift will go directly to buying phone cards -- so please give as generously as you can.

It will make you feel great, I guarantee you.

Saturday, December 09, 2006

The Christmas Story

For some bizarre reason there isn't a survey I don't like. I'm one of those very strange people who don't mind expressing an opinions (hence, the blog). So, if you don't want an opinion, don't ask, ok?

In keeping with all my opinions, here's a Christmas meme (thanks to Susan!) :

1. Eggnog or hot chocolate?

I worship eggnog, but my arteries don't. (You'd think I'd like the Eggnog Latte at Starbucks, but it sucks. Big time.)

2. Does Santa wrap presents or just set them under the tree?

Santa doesn't wrap presents! Everybody knows that!

3. Colored lights on tree/house or white?

White outside. Colored lights inside on the large tree in the living room; white on the smaller tree in the dining room.

4. Do you hang mistletoe?


5. When do you put your decorations up?

Later than most people, but not on Christmas Eve I (at least not yet).

6. What is your favorite holiday dish (excluding dessert)?

Don't have any specific favorites from days of yore. In recent years, I've made Jambalaya on Christmas Eve - it's starting to be our tradition.

7. Favorite holiday memory as a child?

It may be strange, but a favorite memory for me was the weeks leading up to Christmas. My dad was a jeweler, and worked non-stop from Thanksgiving to Christmas. Truth be told, I don't think we saw him much over those 4 weeks - he even worked Saturday AND Sunday all day. During that time, the house was totally run by my mom and us kids. The best part about it was having breakfast for dinner - pancakes, scrambled eggs. Part of this is because my mom was the World's Worst Cook, but also because my dad was a real "meat and potatoes" guy and I suspect she wanted time off from the regular routine as much as we did. In later years, we found out that all the overtime Dad put it in actually provided us Christmas itself. My mom would 'charge' all our toys and gifts early in the season and pay them off at Christmas with the extra pay. How did he do it? I'm not sure I could ever be so selfless. Thanks, Dad.

8. When and how did you learn the truth about Santa?

I really don't remember, although I think Patty vanden Eynden from down the street had something to do with it.

9. Do you open gifts Christmas Eve or Christmas morning?

When we were little kids, we opened Christmas Day, when we were teenagers, it all moved to Christmas Eve. For all my married life, it's been Christmas morning.

10. How do you decorate your Christmas tree?

I do it all...I'm thinking of adopting a teenager to take over soon.

11. Snow- Love it or dread it?

Now that I don't have to drive in it much anymore (telecommuting, what a concept!) and we bought a snow blower, I really like snow. I've really tried to make an effort to enjoy each season as it comes and not to complain too much about it. To me, one of the pleasures of winter is the beautiful sky - best enjoyed while shoveling snow in late afternoon.

12. Can you ice skate?

Nope, the one and only time I tried to ice skate, I fell and someone behind me skated over my hand. Kinda turned me off a skating career. Although I have to say it looks like great fun...especially at Rockefeller Center.

13. Do you remember your favorite gift?

I don't have a particular stand-out gift as a child, but I have to say that two Christmases ago, I got a bunch of presents from Bobbers that were out of this world. Everything was well-thought out and bought with love. Especially important was the fact that all the gifts were purchased a mere two months or so following his major heart surgery - very impressive. (I still - to this day - marvel at how he slogged through the mall with all that heavy stuff when he wasn't supposed to be carrying anything really heavy at the time. Wouldn't that be just great to have your husband keel over buying Christmas presents for you?)

14. What's the most exciting thing about the holidays for you?

Catching up on sleep, watching movies, hanging out with friends, cooking some great meals.

15. What is your favorite holiday desert?

1) A desert I can make: Garbage candy -- one part white chocolate, one part peanuts, one part pretzels; 2) Grammy's fudge (although I don't get to have it often). As my cousin, Susan, said on her blog, "My uncle makes the most awesome, decadent, melt in your mouth fudge you will ever taste, using my Grandma's recipe. (Funny note: the recipe has this instruction on how long to stir it: Until your arm falls off. I miss Grandma)." Me too, Susan, me too! Except, isn't she called "Grammy?"

16. What is your favorite holiday tradition?

Watching "White Christmas" (favorite song: "Sisters") and "It's a Wonderful Life" (favorite scene: when George Bailey just barely prevents himself from heaving the newel post knob; second favorite scene: when he tells off Zouzou's teacher: "What kind of teacher are you, anyway?"; third favorite scene: "Hello, 5 and Dime! Hello, Savings and Loan! Hello....everything else....!")

17. What tops your tree?

A green and gold painted aluminum star from Pier 1.

18. Which do you prefer- giving or receiving?

Well, I must confess I really like....receiving!

19. What is your favorite Christmas song?

"I'll Be Home for Christmas" sung by just about anyone. So very bittersweet. Second favorite: "The Christmas Song" by Mel Torme.
20. Candy canes?
Nah, not so much.

Now what about the rest of you?

Wednesday, December 06, 2006

Iraq Study Group

In listening to the accounts of the today's release of the Iraq Study Group's report, it occurs to me that I believe we heard the same "blah, blah, blah" before. Remember the "9/11 Commission" report? What ever happened to that? Our government officials (right and left) seem to have ADD. They get all excited on the day of the report (prompted by TV cameras) and then drop it when there's actual work to be done.

Let's just say I'm not holding my breath expecting big change. But, by God, I hope change comes, and quick.

Monday, December 04, 2006

Bush loses another ally as UN ambassador Captain Kangaroo resigns in face of Senate hostility

Have you heard the latest?

"The White House yesterday bowed to Senate opposition and gave up its attempt to keep its controversial UN Ambassador, Captain Kangaroo, in his job - the latest sign of President George Bush's diminishing authority. Mr Bush issued a statement denouncing the senators, including a Republican moderate, who had blocked Mr Bolton's confirmation process in the chamber's television affairs committee.

"They chose to obstruct his confirmation, even though he enjoys majority support in the Senate, and even though their tactics will disrupt our diplomatic work at a sensitive and important time," Mr Bush said. "This stubborn obstructionism ill serves our country and discourages men and women of talent from serving."
So how does the Senate feel about Mr. Green Jeans?

New World Record

Yesterday, Bobbers and I made a concerted effort to accomplish more than we usually do on our lazy Sundays. Part of the plan included various household chores, a swim at the Y, preparing for some snow (where are those damn shovels?), general housekeeping and buying our Christmas trees. We always buy our tree from the Westboro Civic Club ("Hey, don't call us the Rotary!") and we were able to walk up to the first row of trees, pick out our baby tree for the dining room, and a medium-tall tree for the living room within 10 minutes! But for the brief stop at the grocery, and having to follow a giant SUV slowly up a hill with it's own tree tied to its top ("It's not a nuclear weapon, for God's sake!" ) we would have accomplished all our chores by 3 pm. Phew!

Now Ill have to see whether we actually get the trees up and the house decorated anytime Sunday we may have to clear a path to the decorations down the basement. Stay tuned for my breathless updates on our Christmas plans! I know you're all a-twitter!

Call Me Magellan

You all need to be the first to know.

I'm forming an exploratory committee to decide whether I'm going to run for President. Hey, if Tom Vilsack, Barak Obama, John McCain, Mitt Romney (oh, please!), Evan Bayh, Mike Huckabee, Chris Dodd, Duncan Hunter, John Kerry, Sam Brownback (who?), Bill Richardson, John Edwards, Chuck Hagel, Joe Biden, Al Sharpton, Wes Clark, Tommy Thompson, Newt Gingrich (oh, barf!), Hilary Clinton and Rudy Guiliani (::rolling eyes::) can do it, why not me?

Anybody wanna go explorin' with me?

I Officially Hate Blogger Beta

This evening I wrote a great response to a great post by my favorite hubby without logging in first. The freakin' thing ate the whole post. Argghhhhh. I think this so-called beta version of Blogger is what has prevented me from posting in recent days. It feels overly complex and that's a damn shame. The best part of Blogger was its simplicity. I suppose there are improvements in Blogger Beta, but I haven't found them. AND I can't post Youtube video any more.

Bah. They can keep the freakin' thing.

Thursday, November 23, 2006

Giving Thanks

Another Thanksgiving in progress...and for a change we're celebrating with family in Ohio. Lucky for us it's a beautiful day, not a cloud in the sky, and we're getting ready to enjoy a great dinner (and I'm not cooking, yay!)

Since I'll be having dinner with probably four of my 10 readers (give or take one or two), it'll be nice to be with people in real time and not cyberspace.

Hope everyone has a great holiday! More to come!!!

Wednesday, November 22, 2006

GHWB Defends GWB

Just came across this story on a cursory review of my favorite blogs. I don't know about you, but I have been wondering how Papa Bush handles the criticism of his son. Here's a link to find out more.

It would have been fun to be in that audience, eh?

Friday, November 17, 2006

All dried up, and no place to go

Where have I been for the past week or so? Nowhere. Just haven't had much to say, I guess, not that you want to read about that.

I am not certain that I'm all that thrilled with Blogger Beta, which I upgraded to last weekend (kinda accidentally...don't ask). Now I can't post YouTube videos at will, which pisses me off. Once I figured that out, I felt burned out on the whole damn thing. So it goes.

We're leaving early Sunday morning for our week in Ohio, where one of our sweet nieces is getting married the day after Thanksgiving. Good times. I love that our family is expanding at long last. We've had too many contractions over recent years.

Still basking in the afterglow of the midterm elections...

Still basking in the afterglow of the possibility the Sox may sign the best available starting pitcher on the planet in the weeks ahead...

Life is good.

Saturday, November 11, 2006

The New Reality

Browing this morning, I came across this headline:

Talk about shock and awe...I stood up at my computer and literally applauded. It's been a long, long time since headlines were so fabulous.

Keep 'em coming.

Friday, November 10, 2006

Take a Guess

In recent years, Bobbers and I have taken more of an interest in the food that goes into our bodies. In that vein, I offer this short quiz where you get to test your knowledge of restaurant food. It's one of those tests that you think you should know the answers to, but you find out that you actually don't.


A Veteran's Tale

With all the happiness and relief brought about by Tuesday's election results, I was truly brought back down to earth by a veterans' tale I saw on CNN today. It moved me more than anything I've seen in a while, but I think it's critical for all of us to recognize the sacrifices of our young'uns serving in Iraq.

I'd love to hear your thoughts on this very special young man after you've seen the video.

Wednesday, November 08, 2006

I Think I'm .... Speechless

Whew! What a freakin' good day! The Democrats actually did it! And to top it off, Mr. Incompetency resigned.


I mean...DAMN!

I won't presume to do a full-out political analysis of the election. There are many more expert at that than me, and you'll decide which of those experts you want to read.

I will say that it the election results represent, for me, a giant step back toward behavior that is more respectful of the US Constitution. What has worried me in recent years has been the incompetence, the bravado, the sense that the Administration is above the law and unaccountable (I guess this means we can take a second look at the torture bill, the illegal wiretaps now!).

I have also been concerned that the rest of the world feels such hatred toward America. Today, my friend Gerard from Belgium IM'd me to ask if it was true that the Democrats had taken over the Congress, asking whether I thought this would signal a change in Iraq? "Too many dead people," he said. At the time, Rumsfeld hadn't resigned and it was not as clear that we're likely to take over the Senate, so all I could say was "I hope so." Now I feel a little more confident about this, needless to say.

In the days ahead I hope the Democrats will use their newfound power wisely. Because they have been so badly mistreated in the minority, I suspect they'll move ahead an abused spouse might after moving out of the house.

In the meantime, I will soak this victory in, be thankful that the dollars and time I contributed were not for naught. (Just heard the Virginia Republicans say "we should let all the votes be counted!" Channeling Al Gore, I suppose.)

Most of all, I am very much looking forward to the State of the Union address. I'll have my popcorn ready and sit back and enjoy watching Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi sitting next to Cheney as the Chimp delivers his speech.


I mean, DAMN.

Tuesday, November 07, 2006

Happy Election Day

Well, to some of us, this day feels much like Christmas. And hopefully tonight we get some presents, and not the coal.

Been watching some coverage on MSNBC and CNN and their endless pundits and journalists, and they are increasingly talking about how badly the Republicans are doing today. On what basis do they make these statements, I wonder (as I well remember we thought the Chimp lost both his elections early in the day)? I guess we'll find out soon.

This morning, as I waited in our town garage for Bobbers to finish voting, I recalled my first Election Day experience. I was a kindergartener and my Mom, one of the millions of postwar stay-at-home mothers, had volunteered to work at the poll in our school. As a kid, I enjoyed seeing her at school that day, especially watching the grown-ups eating lunch in our cafeteria. It may be the fog of memory, but I seem to recall that this was a sunny, warm day, which means this election could have been the presidential primary, which was held in Ohio on May 3, 1960 (you gotta love Google, eh?).

Anyway, I distinctly remember hearing the word "poll" for the first time, and learning exactly what that meant. And, for me, this introduction seemed to propel me, seemingly by osmosis even at this tender age, to learning about the political landscape that year. Of course, Senator Kennedy was a significant figure that year, especially in Catholic families like ours. There was a personal harbinger of things to come as I think he and his family were responsible for introducing me to a faraway placed called Massachusetts.

Anyway, it's 8:00 and time for the first poll results.

::fingers crossed::

Monday, November 06, 2006

My Sentiments Exactly

This poor kid! I hope the baby's parents are reported to Social Services as this truly is abuse:

Well, tomorrow is the Big Day. My prayer is that this country wakes up from its collective stupor and decides that some checks and balances are in order. At the very least, we won't have to look at these commercials much longer. AND, we'll all be able to answer our phones. Even though I'm making some of the calls myself, it is amazing to see how many people (from Planned Parenthood, Massachusetts Democratic Party, Moveon, etc.) have called me, as well.

There's been so much going on that I haven't had a chance to do much original posts, but I hope to get back to that soon. However, now that Election Day is near, I am thinking about why I enjoy politics and all the election craziness so much? It's a question that occurs to me every other November when it feels as if I am the only one I know who actually seems to enjoy this stuff.

For me, finding the political blogs (Daily Kos, My DD, Americablog, Firedoglake, etc) was an awakening. For the first time, I found like-minded people who are as entranced by the ins and outs of elections as I am. I think that's why when I think about blogging, these are the sites that amaze and inspire me. To tell you the honest truth, I'm not so interested in people's everyday life (no offense) as I am in watching history being written as we live it.

So, enjoy the day, in whatever way you'd like. I personally will be watching the returns and ticking off each Congressional District and Senate seat on my own personal tally sheet and cheering for my fellow Democrats across the country. (And, I will also be welcoming our new Massachusetts governor, the first African American one, Deval Patrick.)

Sunday, November 05, 2006

Shocked, Shocked, Shocked

Can you believe that Saddam Hussein was found guilty of crimes against humanity? I never would have thought it.

Wednesday, November 01, 2006

Using the Cell Phone for Good

Tonight, I'm volunteering to make calls for's "Call for Change" program. People from all over the country are making phone calls to voters in districts with close races. I've made 12 calls so far on behalf of Jim Webb, Democrat running for the Senate against "Mr. Macaca." So far only 3 people actually picked up the phone (out of 11 calls made), but they've been nice and what the hell? They don't know who I am and I'd like to think I am making a small contribution.

Besides, since I never use all my cell phone minutes, I might as well donate them, eh?

So, for those of you reading this in Ohio's first or second Congressional District, I may be calling YOU soon. LOL!

Tuesday, October 31, 2006

McCain's an Opportunist

If John McCain is so utterly pissed at Kerry for his comments about the troops, why the hell does he need to READ it off a piece of paper? You'd think he could open that giant mouth of his and let it fly spontaneously. Duh.

Talk about desperate. The GOP is gonna go down and they are grasping at straws. It's pretty bad if they have to take on an off-the-cuff remark by a former presidential candidate at this late date.

Gimme a break. God help us if McCain runs for President.

Who Gives a Fig?

:: Rant alert :: Rant alert :: Rant alert ::

  • Why in God's name does anyone give two hoots whether Madonna adopts a child?

  • Who gives a care whether Britney Spears has another child and what she names it?

  • Does anyone think about when or where Tom Cruise and Katie Holmes get married? Or even IF they get married?

Arrrrrrghhhhhhhhhhhhhhhh! Enough already.

Saturday, October 28, 2006

Clarke and O'Leary Go Batshit

One night last summer, the all-time funniest riff occurred during a Red Sox game, when Lenny Clarke and Dennis Leary visited the broadcast booth. It occurred a few days after Mel Gibson's infamous meltdown. Well, long story short, hilarity ensued.

Our local announcers were laughing so hard, I wasn't sure they'd be able to carry on...Same sort of thing was happening at our house! I wanted to post this clip as we face a long, cold lonely winter without Red Sox baseball. For those of you who are a little more PC than me, beware!

Congratulations to the Cardinals (I guess), but it's interesting to note that they ONLY won 83 games this year. Even the Red Sox won 86 games. Sheesh.


Friday, October 27, 2006

I Hate Halloween

I do hate it. Not the scary, semi-religious, eerie children's homemade-costume Halloween, but the commerialized, plastic orange pumpkin, store-bought costume, mall-decorated marketing event that it has become.

The worst part of all is the crap being sold in every store, that is rapidly being superceded by Christmas decorations, with an occasional Thanksgiving turkey rearing its head.

At this time of year, all I can do is dread the Christmas holidays, and long for the bleakness of January...that is, until someone promotes the idea of Martin Luther King decorations. Ooooops, I forgot, before the Christmas decorations are stripped from the grocery stores and malls, we'll be planning our Valentine's Day extravaganzas.

I think my fondest wish would be to experience a season in the present, without feeling rushed on to the next one.

Oh, well....Happy Halloween!

Monday, October 23, 2006


Hmmmm....Barak Obama says he's thinking of running for President. Now there's an idea I can support. He's been everywhere in the past week promoting his book, and it's simply a pleasure to watch the man.

As a side's even funnier when a reporter slips and refers to him as Osama, which I've heard several times.

Oh God.

I just realized that if Barak Obama becomes president at 47 (in 2008), he'll be the first president YOUNGER than me. Perhaps I should rethink my excitement.

Nah. Go Barak!

Sunday, October 22, 2006

Another Favorite Photo

A photo that could be a jigsaw puzzle picture, but I swear I took it my very self:

Saturday, October 21, 2006

Laura Nyro - Poverty Train

Another classic, dedicated to my girl, Jenni.
Bob Dylan & Bruce Springsteen - Forever Young

Oh man! Two of my personal favorites in one video. Hot damn.

The Departed

Last night, three friends and I saw a movie filmed in Boston about Boston mobsters ("The Departed"), in a Downtown Boston theatre, making for an interesting phenomenon. Since it was Friday night, the theatre was packed to the rafters so my pals and I couldn't sit together. I ended up using the stand-alone seat next to the handicapped space up front, allowing an unfamiliar freedom, meaning I could fidget as much as I wanted, plus cross and uncross my legs without fear of annoying anyone.

But the most interesting part was that I was sitting in front of a row of young black women who kept up a running commentary during the movie. Normally I hate it when people talk, but these women were saying exactly what my inner voice was saying: "Oh, watch out, boy!" "Girl, you're crazy!", "Sheeeeeeiiiiiiiit!" A steady rumble of disapproval could be heard when a main character told yet another lie.
Unfortunately, the women also laughed out loud at all the wrong parts of the movie. Every time somebody was shot, they'd hoot -- and being a Scorsese movie, there was plenty of violence).

As an aside: the picture above was taken just a block or two from where I work in South Boston, and you'll note the city skyline in the background. Like "Mystic River," this movie showed a Boston that felt real and very, very seedy. And for my money, this is the best movie Leonardo DiCaprio's done in a long, long time. Two thumbs up!

Wednesday, October 18, 2006

Interesting Factoid

When Bill Clinton was impeached, he had an approval rating of 72%. Seventy-two percent. The dingbat in the Oval Office has an approval rating of less than half of that right now.

Today, Bill preached about the "common good." Check it out.

Injustice is a Bitch

From the Center for American Progress:

CIVIL RIGHTS -- HUSBAND OF DECEASED FIRST OPENLY GAY CONGRESSMAN DENIED PENSION BENEFITS: "Gerry Studds, the nation's first openly gay congressman, pushed the country to another landmark development when he died Saturday," the Lowell Sun reports. The federal government "for the first time will deny death benefits to a congressman's gay spouse." Studds and husband Dean Hara were partnered for 15 years and married in Massachusetts in 2004. "Wives and husbands of deceased lawmakers have for years found financial comfort in their ability to collect more than half of the generous congressional pension earned by their late spouse"; Hara would have received $62,000 a year from Studds' pension program. But under the 1996 Defense of Marriage Act, the federal government does not recognize state gay marriage laws like the one in Massachusetts, and federal benefits normally passed along to surviving spouses are specifically limited to "a person of the opposite sex who is a husband or wife." Meanwhile, criminal former Rep. Duke Cunningham (R-CA) and Rep. Bob Ney (R-OH), who just pleaded guilty to federal corruption charges, will continue to collect their congressional pensions while they serve their time in prison."

Tuesday, October 17, 2006

Sweet Home Ohio

Here's the latest from my home state:
"The bellwether state of Ohio appears to have become hostile terrain for Republicans this year, with voters there overwhelmingly saying Democrats are more likely to help create jobs and concluding by a wide margin that Republicans in the state are more prone to political corruption than are Democrats, according to the latest New York Times/CBS News poll.

Ohio is home this year to closely watched races for governor, the United States Senate and a growing roster of competitive House seats, and the state has become one of the most contested battlegrounds of 2006 and one in which voters at this point are strongly favoring Democrats on many issues."
I'm so proud. Now don't make me kick your collective asses, ya hear?

Today's Word: Schadenfreude

"Schadenfreude"[n. SHAW-den-froy-duh] Taking malicious satisfaction in another person's troubles is schadenfreude. Even though there may be some guilt involved, this noun comes in handy when someone feels glee or gloats over another person's suffering. Example: "She had a feeling of schadenfreude when the boy who dumped her was unable to find a date for the prom." Sometimes capitalized, schadenfreude is a compound of two German words: schaden (damage) and freude (joy).

In recent days, I've been struggling with Schadenfreude. First, it was watching the MF Yankees lose to Detroit in the baseball playoffs. Somehow, watching a team of All Stars lose to a team that is young, hungry, and on the rise (and who will probably win the World Series) gave me the most satisfaction since 2004 (when we know what happened for the first time in 86 years).

Now, tonight, I am reading story after story (after freakin' STORY) showing the Democrats leading the GOoPers by wide margins:

"A bi-partisan poll of 48 congressional races believed to be competitive shows an even more uphill battle for Republicans in coming weeks than previously thought, RAW STORY has learned.

NPR commissioned the poll from Greenberg Quinlan Rosner and Public Opinion Strategies.

With just three weeks until election day, the survey found Democrats running with a commanding lead in districts currently held by Republicans, and just 44% of voters planning to support the GOP.

In races for 38 seats currently held by Republicans, Democrats held a 4 point edge in named ballots. On a generic ballot, Democrats' lead increased to 11 points. Independents say they plan to vote for Democrats by a 20 point margin."
This news makes me do the happy dance, but I want to be cautious about over-confidence. We felt like this in 2004 also and we know how that turned out, right?

Riiiiiiiiiiiiiight. ;-)

Sunday, October 15, 2006

aka Jetison

Several weeks ago, I recommended a new blog, called "aka jetison." At the time, I was being rather coy about the author, but it is none other than our dear Bobbers. Check it out when you have a chance. You'll thank me later.

Saturday, October 14, 2006

A Plea from the President

I urge all of you to listen to the man (for a change):

WASHINGTON, DC—In a nationally televised address Monday, President Bush urged all citizens, regardless of race, creed, color, or political affiliation, "to quiet down for just one minute" so he could have "a chance to think."

In a televised address to the nation, Bush called for "a little peace and quiet."

"Every American has an inalienable right to free speech and self-expression," Bush said. "Nonetheless, I call upon the American people to hold off on it for, say, 60 seconds. Just long enough for me to get this all sorted out in my head."


"Bush then closed his speech by exhaling sharply, tightly closing his eyes, and massaging his temples. "I just—Christ, I just need a goddamn minute, you know?" he said."

For the rest of the story go to the Onion.

Friday, October 13, 2006

Today's Word: Hypocrisy

How come when gas prices were very high, many GOoP pundits (and the Chimp himself) said they couldn't be blamed, and now that prices have come down they go around taking credit for it? Just wonderin'.

UPDATE: Here's the story from Bob Woodward's new book about the Saudi agreement to ensure oil prices were low before the election.

Thursday, October 12, 2006

Olbermann on the Murder of Habeus Corpus

Good Lord, now that I've figured out You Tube, get ready for a bunch of video links!

(This is way too easy.)
Had Enough of Mean Jean Schmidt? Vote Victoria Wulsin!

This is for my friends and family in Ohio's Second District!

Wednesday, October 11, 2006

Nuns Everywhere Are Crying

Remember learning to write "cursive?" When I went to Catholic school, we didn't call it that, of course, we called it "penmanship," or "handwriting." All we knew is that learning to write these magic letters on the lined tablets was a huge step forward in parochial education. Maybe this was a girl thing, but I never minded penmanship and got fairly good grades in it.

Well, apparently cursive is dying, thanks to computers and other electronic devices. Perhaps those younger than me don't hate the idea of cursive going the way of the rotary telephone and black and white televisions. But it's another reminder of just how freakin' old I am.

Here's an excerpt of the story:

"The loss of handwriting also may be a cognitive opportunity missed. The neurological process that directs thought, through fingers, into written symbols is a highly sophisticated one. Several academic studies have found that good handwriting skills at a young age can help children express their thoughts better -- a lifelong benefit. Children who don't learn correct technique find it harder to write by hand, so they avoid it. Schools that do teach handwriting often stop after third grade -- right after kids learn cursive. By the time computers are more widely used in classrooms for writing, perhaps in fourth or fifth grade, many children already have decided they don't like to write.

In one of the studies, Vanderbilt University professor Steve Graham, who studies the acquisition of writing, experimented with a group of first-graders in Prince George's County who could write only 10 to 12 letters per minute. The kids were given 15 minutes of handwriting instruction three times a week. After nine weeks, they had doubled their writing speed and their expressed thoughts were more complex. He also found corresponding increases in their sentence construction skills.

But Graham worries that students who remain printers, rather than writing in cursive, need more time to take notes or write essays for the SAT. Teachers may say they don't deduct for bad handwriting in class, but research tells another story, he said."

The other thing that disappears along with penmanship lessons is the individuality that it presents - I remember my Mom's neat, even handwriting, always perfectly spaced. And her sister's rather odd, but equally even, distinctive backhand.

I think about generations that come after us...Will they use emoticons to express themselves, rather than their own hand? Kind of sad to think of the Declaration of Independence typed by a machine, eh?

Time marches on.

Monday, October 09, 2006

Let's Go for the Twenties!

Well, a new record low for Bush...33% approval rating from today's Newsweek:

"Meanwhile, the president’s approval rating has fallen to a new all-time low for the Newsweek poll: 33 percent, down from an already anemic 36 percent in August. Only 25 percent of Americans are satisfied with the direction of the country, while 67 percent say they are not. Foley’s disgrace certainly plays a role in Republican unpopularity: 27 percent of registered voters say the scandal and how the Republican leadership in the House handled it makes them less likely to vote for a Republican Congressional candidate; but 65 percent say it won’t make much difference in determining how they vote. And Americans are equally divided over whether or not Speaker Hastert should resign over mishandling the situation (43 percent say he should, but 36 percent say he shouldn’t)."

Oh, What a Beautiful Day!

At the close of each sunny 70-plus degree day, we say goodbye once again to summer, thinking it certainly must be the last such gorgeous day. During the last month, we've enjoyed several of these days, with today being another beauty. In celebration, we traveled to Newport, Rhode Island, to soak in the sun and fly a few kites.

Here's some great photos of our day...enjoy! (Come February, we'll look back on this day fondly.)

The view at Breton Point State Park:

A beautiful kite (not ours):

Bobbers does his thing:

Two of our many kites:

Newport Harbor:

Again...Newport Harbor:

Bobbers (love this photo):

An early-closing diner:

A beautiful garden along Thames Street: