Thursday, December 31, 2009

Bad, bad blogger

I've been busy, busy, with holidays and family. I know that's a good thing, but I've been a lousy blogger. With a trip to Florida for a week, a flight back to Salt Lake (very late the day after Christmas), a 300 mile drive back home with my California kids already there, so a house full of activity, I haven't taken the time to attend to my blogs.

I have occasionally checked in to see what others were doing, but posting myself seemed too time consuming. My company goes home on Saturday, then in a day or two maybe I'll have something to say. Don't give up on me.

Have a wonderful New Year!

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Are we that gullible?

I wonder......are people really as dumb as some advertising agencies think we are?

I watch few commercials (can't do without my TiVo), but this morning I just had the television on while baking. A car dealership ad made me chuckle. If they can't beat another dealer's price by $250, they'll actually pay you $250. What do you think are the chances that they can't beat the other's deal?

My personal favorite ad is the "if we can't give you the best deal, we'll give it to you free." I heard that one today too--a mattress company. Yeah, how many $600 mattresses do you suppose they give away rather than beat some other company's price by a few dollars?

Are there some of us gullible enough to believe that if we owe more on our car than it's worth, a car dealer can "save" us by selling us a newer car? Or that we can buy a car for "$88 down and $88 a month"--listen carefully to the high-speed disclaimer that follows.

What frightens me is that the advertisers or businesses think consumers are stupid...or even worse, maybe we are.

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

Holiday Decor

I actually love the holidays! That said, for at least 5 or 6 years, we haven't done any home decorations. Christmas is about children and ours weren't here anymore (whichever place we were). So we went to them.

It seemed silly to put up a tree or lights when we left home days before Christmas and normally didn't come back until after the New Year. That is a busy time anyway, and it just felt like more work than fun. After flying from one coast to the other to play with grandkids, coming home to taking down decorations was too big a bother.

This year will be a bit different and hubby thought we needed a few decorative touches--weird coming from him. We are leaving on the 19th to go to Florida, but after Christmas my California kids are coming back this direction. The kids want to play in the snow and the 12-year-old has plans for a snowboarding lesson. So, we bought a couple of 4-foot topiary trees, some cute little solar-powered snowmen for the walk, and I dug out a few things from my Christmas boxes. I can't compete with neighbors who go all out, but it feels kind of nice to have a little holiday inside and out. Besides, it isn't enough to be a big deal to put away.

Next year? Who knows.

Friday, November 13, 2009

Sneaky changes

My mother's biggest product annoyances have to do with quality and container size changes.

She says that when Dawn detergent first came out, it was much better than the competition. It made lots of suds, was very tough on grease, and only a little squirt was necessary. Since that time, however, the quality has slipped away until it is like all other dish washing products. My mom loves to cook so she speaks with some authority about dish washing.

Charmin introduced Plus bathroom tissue (that's the correct term for what used to be called toilet paper). When it first came out Mom said it was very soft and one could actually feel the lotion/aloe. Now, however, when one can actually find the Plus version of Charmin, it is nowhere near as wonderful as it once was. She even sent a hand-written letter to the company to complain.

Mom, who is an excellent cook, also decries all the sneaky changes in container sizes. She has family recipes that call for a "can" of Eagle Brand Sweetened Condensed Milk--not any more, the cans are smaller. Who knows what amount to add now? Same for cans of pumpkin and pie fillings, condensed soups, and evaporated milk. I guess the people who first wrote the recipes didn't foresee that the companies would ever change their packaging. Who could have predicted that rather than raise the price of a product they would choose to instead make the container smaller? Did they think we wouldn't notice? We did, and found it extremely irritating.

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Products I've doomed

I've doomed quite a number of products, simply by liking them. It's just a sad fact that I am now resigned to accept. If companies knew that when I buy something repeatedly, they are in trouble, it would probably be worthwhile to keep things away from me. A few years ago, hubby and I actually made a list of things we have liked that disappeared from the shelves. I don't remember all the things on our list then, but it is still growing.

Anyone who knows me, knows that I love potato chips of all kinds. Years ago we unintentionally encouraged the demise of Eagle Potato Chips, but more recently I'm responsible for the loss of Lay's Dill Pickle flavor. They were soooo yummy and I miss them.

Costco has been recipient of my jinx with a number of products: Kirkland Roast Beef in a can (wonderful for sandwiches), dried peaches and dried strawberries (don't remember the brand names but they were so good), and fresh bran muffins.

I am amazed that I can still buy TAB (the first diet cola), but maybe it is safe because I drink it less now that they have started to add Aspartame to its formula. Coca Cola got lucky--or smart.

Mom and I were talking about this yesterday and she mentioned a number of products she has loved that have not disappeared, but have changed until they are mere shadows of their former selves. A post for another day.

Sunday, November 1, 2009

Halloween Surprise

I spent Halloween at my son's home in California. It is becoming quite the trick (pun intended) to make 4 children ages 4 to 12 happy on Halloween. Complicating the evening is that they just moved to their new house in June and wanted to spend some time trick or treating in their old neighborhood too. The girls (youngest two) wanted friends to come along, the oldest (boy) wanted to go with friends, the second son didn't care that much about the whole thing.

So, Grandma stayed at their house to hand out candy to trick or treaters there. WOW! For a time, I just stood in the open doorway because there wasn't time to actually close the door. This entire area is full of families with children. That's one thing my son and daughter-in-law liked about it. After a couple of hours, the second boy and the youngest girl came home and helped me, but it was a busy night.

Normally, I don't like handing out candy on Halloween. I used to bribe my youngest son with pizza and a friend staying over to answer the door. I've left a large bowl of candy on the porch with a note to take a piece, or I've been sure to be away. However, the trick-or-treaters here were unfailingly polite. Everyone had a smile and a thank you. Most were accompanied by parents, but even the adolescents on their own were courteous and pleasant. One little boy was a chef, complete with a stainless bowl for his treat, a very small child had on an adorable Nemo costume (his mother was a red crayon). This is a very well-behaved neighborhood; I can see why they like it here so much.

Thursday, October 22, 2009

It's a wonder

It is a wonder that intermediate/middle school students ever learn anything at all. They are so energetic; so interested in what their classmates are doing or thinking; trying so hard to fit in yet be just a little unique; and feeling so unsure of themselves. They want to entertain each other--usually with small insults or exaggerations--so everyone knows they are there, but they shy away from too much attention. It's a very complex time of life and it doesn't leave much room for actual learning work. I guess we just have to hope that something sneaks in and attaches.

Subbing is nice because there is no real preparation and no follow up. The tough part is stepping into someone else's routine and someone else's expectations. But I'm home now, in one piece, and I left no damage behind. Hopefully I even helped a little.

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Comics speak to me

Sometimes certain comics really speak to me. Whoever writes/draws Non Sequitur has tickled me several times, enough that I actually cut them out and save them. I'm sharing a short series today because I've been thinking about this kind of stuff. I hope you can read them--enlarging will help--because I don't have a scanner; I just took pictures of them.Sometimes those really smart kids are the toughest.
Of course, unless they are paired with the really smart teacher.
Naturally, those same smart kids also need savvy parents.

I'm substituting tomorrow for a math teacher in an Intermediate school. I hope I remember what to do.

Saturday, October 10, 2009

Talking to children

I love to be in a public place and see parents talking to children. Notice I said talking TO them, not just yelling in their general direction.

So often I hear, "Mommy, Mommy, Mommy...," without so much as a glance at the child. One day I counted 12 times as the mother was too involved in what she was doing to acknowledge her child. Now it was probably true that what the child needed was not earth-shaking, but how important must he/she feel when mommy is so difficult to reach. Worse than that, though, are the threateners, the arm jerkers, the snappers who drag tired children through store after store and expect perfection. I am always offended by parents who refuse to buy a small candy or toy for a patient child while filling their carts with expensive energy drinks, beer, and cigarettes.

Sometimes, however, I see conversations. I overhear discussions about which cereal would be best, which aisle contains the tomato juice, or what kind of apples to buy. I see parents and children engaged. Those warm my heart.

As children are listened to, their opinions considered, their choices allowed, they gain a vital sense of importance and worth. It gives them a sturdy foundation, a confidence in themselves. Even before I became a teacher and saw the various ways parents could hamper children's development, I knew that talking TO kids was vital.

They understand more than you think they do and they know more than most people give them credit for. My mother (and her mother) knew that too.

Friday, October 9, 2009

Smiling faces

I just got back from a leisurely trip through a super store (that has everything) and I smiled at three toddlers and two babies--they all smiled back.

I noticed years ago that while a parent may look through me or around me, children--especially the little ones--always look at my face. I read somewhere that babies are genetically programmed to look at human faces. It must be true. So, I always look back and smile. Most of the time they respond with a smile of their own, even the very small ones. Occasionally a parent will notice and acknowledge me with a smile, but often it is just the child and me.

Try it. It is pretty cool and there is nothing like receiving a bright, happy smile from a little one.

Thursday, September 24, 2009

Another political cartoon

Just posting another newspaper political cartoon that exemplifies the worries that many of us have about the overhaul of "health care/insurance."

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Politics continued...

This political cartoon was in the Deseret News this morning. Too bad it wasn't in yesterday; it goes so well with my concerns.

If anyone is truly interested in delving into the difficulties and possible solutions for the health care/insurance debate, here is a very long, but well-written article. The author is even a democrat, and although his piece is lengthy, I thought he had some very valid points. Take a look.

Monday, September 14, 2009

Beware, I'm a bit political today.

When it comes to estimating the cost of a program, the government--no matter who's in charge--cannot be trusted. When President Obama and his congressional supporters estimate his health-care (insurance) plan will cost between $50 and $65 billion a year, you can laugh or cry.

Let's check history. When Medicare began, in 1966, it cost $3 billion. President Johnson and the House Ways and Means Committee estimated that Medicare would--adjusted for inflation--cost $12 billion by 1990. It was more than $107 billion. That's $107,000,000,000.

Another big lie was Social Security. It began in 1936, started gently, and the Congress's promise was that after about twelve years we would pay up to $.03 for each dollar earned, and up to $3000 a year was the most anyone would ever pay. Have you checked your FICA deductions lately? Even worse was the closing line in the original Social Security pamphlet: "...the United States government will set up a Social Security account for you. ...The checks will come to you as a right."

There is no Social Security account containing my money, and the Supreme Court has ruled twice that Americans have to legal right to Social Security payments.

So, I am very skeptical of government promises.

Ask yourself why President Obama (and his colleagues) were in such a hurry to pass "health care" reform. Why was it so important that it get done in August, or before the year's end? The provisions of the bill don't take effect until 2013. If it was so necessary and beneficial, why the wait? If we don't need it until 2013, what's wrong with the normal process of hearings, the study of pros and cons?

I would think, if things are as dire as he says they are, the President would want people to experience the benefits of this package before the next election. Oh, maybe that's just it. Maybe no one is supposed to see how this really works until after the election.

It just seems like our current government is trying to push through things that have not been done in the past, before the people know what is really happening.

Remember, we were assured it was vitally important to get the stimulus approved very quickly. Our economy depended on it. But why? Much of it will not be distributed for more than another year. I guess, for those who are seeking more power over the economy, there was the possibility that things would start to improve on their own--and that would be bad.

When the President's Chief of Staff talks about not letting "a crisis go to waste" or how "it's an opportunity to do things you could not do before." It seems about gathering power and control while circumventing and deceiving the public, not serving the people.

Wednesday, September 9, 2009

Happy Birthday Lindsey

My youngest grandchild is 4 years old today. The time is going by incredibly fast.We were able to spend the Labor Day weekend with her family (Grandpa hadn't see their new house), and we enjoyed it immensely. We took a day to visit the San Diego Zoo, and she is always willing to pose for the camera.She looks angelic, sweet, and pretty enough to be on magazine covers.

But watch out for the twinkle in her eyes and big smile on her face....she can also be a ball of fire.She loves fancy princess dresses and tiaras, lip gloss, shoes, make believe games, pre school, jumping, running, dancing, and riding her bike (training wheels don't slow her down).

Happy birthday, princess. We love you.

Saturday, August 29, 2009

USPS troubles

I've been alive quite a while, and for most of that time the U.S. post office was the way to communicate with those far way. I've used the mail to pay bills, send gifts and cards, and correspond with friends and relatives in far-flung places. For the most part, it worked. It was a little slow, but seemed dependable and efficient. Sometimes people would blame the post office if something didn't show up when it was expected. I assumed that the post office was just being used as a scape goat, when someone didn't plan ahead far enough to ensure timely arrival.

My first problem was maybe two years ago. I use my bank's online bill paying services for most of our routine expenses. But, my local utility is small and not set up for electronic payments. So, the online service contracts with a company out of state that would withdraw the money from my account and send a check. Then one month, the utility bill showed that the previous month's payment was not received. I had no idea because the money had been taken from my bank account. When I investigated, the post office was blamed (lost in the mail). I have no idea who really dropped the ball, but I paid for both months. By the next month, the check had shown up. After that, I mailed my own check. At least I could tell whether or not it had been received and deposited.

In late January I sent a Priority envelope with a cashier's check in it. It vanished! It didn't get where it was going, didn't come back to me, no one knows what happened.

In June I sent a birthday gift to a friend in Texas. I didn't hear from her, which was highly unusual. When we corresponded later--by e-mail--she told me she had sent a thank you card. I've never gotten one. Maybe it's with my priority envelope.

Now this came in my mail.

It was less than half of what was sent, but luckily our names and address were on one of the remaining pieces. This is what was printed on the other side of the plastic bag.

I had to laugh. I thought the postal service was struggling because of a declining volume of mail. I've contributed to the decline, but this year has not made me more confident. I use UPS more because they can actually track packages. Yes, it is more expensive, but I haven't had anything disappear or arrive as pieces in plastic.

Monday, August 17, 2009

Does no one care but me?

I got a kick out of this comic, even though it was a slap at teachers. Considering the grammar and language mistakes that permeate society now, there must be lots of poorly performing educators. Just some examples that come to mind:
Signs that encourage us to "Shop Local" and "Drive Safe."
A commercial for a tire shop that "Does it right and does it complete."
A radio traffic report said that things "are running smooth."
With this service, one can get their auto loan "quick and easy."
A certain bed means you will "sleep fantastic."
At the Outback steakhouse, you can "live adventurous."
NAPA has something that will "keep your engine running strong."
A customer testimonial says that her "fireplace turned out beautiful."

A news anchor on television wondered where someone was at.
A sportscaster described a football player as "running explosive."

Many seem not to have ever heard of subject/verb agreement, especially when there is a prepositional phrase included. Few know how and when to use an apostrophe.
Communication by text message, notes on Facebook walls, and blog postings often contain lazy language. Shortcuts, fragments, crazy or missing punctuation, and misspellings are common, all in the name of speed.

I will assume that, given a different circumstance, many could write a decent, coherent thesis, but sometimes it is difficult to believe. From my perspective, it is all very sad.

Monday, August 10, 2009

Camping with Grandsons

We had a terrific time playing with our three grandsons for a week. Our camp offered lots of fun hiking and exploring. Notice on this hike that the photographer was trailing--that's generally the case, especially uphill. My brain is willing, but the body requires several rest stops.
Grandpa knew where to go and we ended up in a lovely meadow.

Naturally, one cannot possibly camp without making S'Mores over a fire. Who cares if they are messy, they're required.
We also caught a few fish, played games, went for rides on the ATV (with helmet), practiced our target shooting, ate lots of good food, got a bit dirty, talked, and laughed a lot.

We took a day to visit Bryce Canyon National Park. Hubby and I hadn't been for many years and the boys not at all. It is still an amazing place!

Some of the formations are called HooDoos and we thought this one looked like two people standing on a precipice.
It was a fun time with three wonderful kids who don't get to see each other very often. We were sorry to have to send them back to their parents and sisters.
The three younger grandkids are our granddaughters (8, 5, and 3). We'll soon need to find a way to do something fun to get them together too. Darn these sons who end up on different coasts. The boys (and grandpa) are already planning to camp again next summer.

Thursday, July 23, 2009

The Garden Update

It is gorgeous again. It survived a week without my father-in-law (while he was cruising) and he will have another bumper crop. This is a shot of some of the potatoes and corn.This shows the peas, cabbages, onions, lettuce, and cucumbers and squash in the far end.
This view is carrots, beets, (you can still see the peas), with the pole beans, and two other kinds of beans at the end. Off to the picture's left are about 50 tomato plants (there may be more, I'm just guessing), and we've begun to enjoy the fresh tomatoes.
The radishes are gone, as is the Swiss Chard, and I'm sure I've missed stuff.

In addition, he has at least 8 peach trees, 3 pear trees, a plum tree, and a half dozen apple trees--most of which have fruit. It is turning into a bountiful year, and much of the work the rest of us can do is yet to come. Boy, it is worth it though!

Monday, July 13, 2009

Panic on the Zuiderdam

I'm not sure how many people who occasionally read this have cruised, nor am I sure how different cruise lines handle luggage, but this experience gave a serious panic attack to a normally calm traveler--me.

We dock in Vancouver during the night. In order to make leaving the ship organized and efficient, they ask that you set your luggage outside your stateroom the night before. They have already provided color-coded tags and paperwork so your suitcases get to the correct bus or airport.

We gave thought to what we'd need to carry, packed, put the luggage in the hall, and peacefully slept our last night on the ship.

At 6:00 the next morning we woke to clean up and leave the ship. MY PANTS WERE GONE! In hubby's packing zeal, he'd taken the britches I was planning to wear. It was my fault because I hadn't made it clear to him and they weren't with the rest of my clothes, but knowing that didn't stop the helpless panic. I knew the ship's shops were not opening that morning. I called the office and was told they could not get to our luggage; it was crated for transport. If I hadn't had a shirt, I could have used my pajama top and my jacket and been okay, but no pants?! The bottoms to my pjs were short, and very pj-looking.

Then the office told me that they had a collection of left-behind clothing and I could come and look. I threw on the robe that came with our stateroom and went down three decks to the front office. There was a pair of women's capris, but they were at least 4 sizes too big and wouldn't have stayed on without a belt. There were some white stretch pants, but they were very thin like long underwear. And there was a pair of blue scrub-type pants, just a couple of sizes big, and with an elastic waist. I was saved.
With the top I had planned to wear, they actually matched, and with the top out and my jacket on, it wasn't too obvious that they were kind of baggy.
I was saved from severe embarrassment holding up oversized denim capris, and probably no one even knew what we had done. Thank goodness that some people accidentally leave clothes for those of us who send too many away. It was a rocky end to a lovely trip, but all's well that ends well.

Wednesday, July 8, 2009

More Alaska Cruising

One of our shore excursions took us by "motor coach" into the Yukon Territory, then we rode the very scenic narrow gauge railroad back down. It was a fascinating journey, hearing about the gold rush and seeing where people actually traveled in the quest for wealth. This was one our our stops: Emerald Lake.

This strange place is call Tormented Valley because it looks unlike any other place. The guide told us they sometimes film science fiction movies using it, because it's different enough to look like another planet.
I admit that I don't remember the name of this lake (there are so many), but it was so calm that I got a beautiful reflection picture from inside the bus.
Our last shore excursion took us to this gorgeous Cirque. That is a steep-sided, half open valley where a glacier once began. We were very lucky to get a sunshiny day, but it is so difficult to get the majesty and size of everything from a 2-dimensional photo. Clicking to enlarge will help, but one truly has to be there.
We spent a day on the ship while visiting Glacier Bay. It is so cool (pun intended) to be close to these rivers of ice. I was taking the pictures from Deck 10 so you have to enlarge the picture to see some kayakers. Every so often we'd hear the cracking sound and hurry to look, but the park rangers on board told us that meant we had missed the ice falling: you could see it before you could hear it.
Those of us who had brought binoculars enjoyed watching several large brown bears wandering along the edge of the water. The biggest one had an interesting black and brown coloration.
Hubby's sister wanted to show her family how pretty the inside atrium of the ship was, so we took a few (this one with her dad and sister hiding behind). She has MS, but she got along beautifully and loved everything about the cruise--her first.
I've spoken to a number of people who have done way more cruises than we have, but I've not met anyone who didn't love the Alaskan Inside Passage. If you like magnificent scenery, it is one to try.

Monday, July 6, 2009

Cruising the Inland Passage

When we arranged our cruise, we opted to fly to Seattle and take the "motor coach" (bus) to Vancouver. Of course ships leave from Seattle, but to get the specific date and tour we wanted, this was our choice. We actually arrived in Seattle the day before and stayed in a lovely hotel, because we did not want to worry about airline delays or tight schedules. We spent some time the next morning in the SeaTac Airport waiting for our turn to be called.I'm cheating with the chronology a little because this picture wasn't taken at the Vancouver dock, but it does show our ship, the Zuiderdam--along with hubby and his two sisters.
Holland America really knows how to take care of its guests. My father-in-law celebrated his 82nd birthday and, without our saying anything, he was brought a birthday cake and fussed over and sang to.
The dining room option was nice. They had two formal nights when we dressed up, but the food every night was fabulous. This picture is a little dark because of the light from the window (stern of the ship), but that's okay because I didn't ask permission from the family to put their pictures in here anyway. If a dining room was a bit too...serious....there was always the more laid-back buffet, or the grill, or the taco bar, etc.
This cruise took us up into what is called the Tracy Arm. It was just beautiful with the glacier and all the mini icebergs. The ice in the bottom of the glaciers is very blue because of the pressure from above. Something about the way the crystals change and oxygen is forced out.
Our first shore excursion was in Juneau. Of course we had to visit the Mendenhall glacier. There is a trail that leads clear out to the ice, but we didn't have quite enough time to walk it. All the pictures can be bigger with a click, if you enlarge the one below, you can see some people in a canoe. If you enlarge the glacier above, you get a much better look at the blue ice.
We had to take our whale-watching dinner cruise. That was very exciting because we saw humpbacks bubble-net feeding. The person narrating the trip said she had been doing these excursions for three years and this was the first time she had seen that behavior. Hubby and I were lucky enough to have seen it before on an earlier trip, but it was just as cool the second time. We also caught a very young whale playing near the surface. It wasn't at all shy and gave us a lively show. It is, however, very difficult to have the camera pointed at the right place at the right time. Hubby did get a little video of the youngster.

I think that's enough for today. I'm driving back home tomorrow, then I'll have some time to share some more of our trip.

Friday, June 26, 2009

North, to Alaska

This afternoon we're flying to Seattle: hubby and I, his parents, and two of his sisters. Hubby's brother is in charge of the garden, and his other sister is making progress fighting off the effects of her stroke. She is doing better all the time, but there is a long and tedious road ahead.

We stay in Seattle tonight, then travel to Vancouver where we board the Holland America Zuiderdam headed for Alaska. It seems a little callous to have fun when family members are struggling, but this has been planned for months and hubby's hospitalized sister insisted we not change plans. Maybe she'll have good surprises for us when we get back.

We're not taking computers because it's iffy as whether we could get them to work on the ship's system, so I'll be quiet until we get back. I hope to return with beautiful pictures and fun stories. I'll catch up after Independence Day.

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

It's that time of year again

My father-in-law asked for some pictures when his garden started growing. I took this first picture a month ago. My mother-in-law was skeptical about getting it all planted before the end of May, because often they have a freeze before mid-June. But, he was optimistic and eager to get it going, so he took the chance.
The reason it looked so weed-free and healthy is shown in the above picture: dedication.

This was the way it looked on Sunday. He was disgusted with the wind blowing because it was drying things out too quickly.
It is too big to get in one picture, so I snapped from a couple of angles. The corn rows are separated by rows of potatoes. The corn was planted at slightly different times to try and keep it from all being ready at the same time. Sometimes it doesn't work.
There are rows of tomatoes, carrots, radishes (won't be good for much longer), beans, onions, peas, cucumbers, squash, Swiss chard, beets, cabbage, and other good stuff. What you won't see are weeds.

He will turn 82 while we are on our cruise next week. We think his beloved garden is what keeps him young.

Monday, June 22, 2009

Decency and Responsibility or Laws and Rules?

I've read a couple of pieces written by Walter E. Williams, a professor of economics at George Mason University. I found myself agreeing with many of his points about how people seem to have changed--and not for the better.

His contention is that somehow parents have failed to completely pass along the values and traditions of preceding generations, and that some of today's accepted behavior would have been "despicable" a number of years ago.
1. Television advertisements that promise to help people get out of paying half of what they owe. (Included in one of my old posts--bothers me too.)
2. Ads that promise help getting someone out of paying their tax debt. (Also in my post.)
3. Foul language spoken even by children, often to adults and teachers.
4. Baby showers for unwed mothers.
5. Men sitting while a woman or elderly person must stand.
6. The fact that it is a newsworthy event when someone returns some valuable thing to its proper owner.
7. Big, white weddings for couples who have lived together for years, and may even have children.

Today, besides being told that we are not responsible for our own debts, we are constantly reminded that we "deserve" a new car or a well-paying job. Why?

As Professor Williams states, "high rates of illegitimacy make a positive contribution to a civilized society?" Do couples or children benefit from living in uncommited, temporary situations. It used to be controlled because it was considered shameful and undesirable.
Talking back to a teacher would have immediately earned a trip to the principal's office and a call to parents. And parents probably would have sided with the school. Now even a stern talking-to comes with a potential for litigation, because children (and parents) cannot be held accountable.

Now we seem to require ordinances that set aside bus or train seats for "Seniors or Disabled," because no one would think of it otherwise? The behavior of gentlemen used to shield women from "coarse" behavior. Today, we used sexual harassment laws instead.

Professor Williams explained that during the 40s, his family lived in North Philly, in a housing project. He goes on to say that there were no bars on windows, no locked doors during the day, and on hot nights many slept outside on lawn chairs. He continues, "Keep in mind that the 1940s and 1950s were a time of gross racial discrimination, high black poverty and few opportunities compared to today. " His conclusion is that these neighborhoods were far more civilized and that should make one wonder about the excuses that try to blame today's problems on poverty and discrimination.

Laws and rules are poor substitutes for traditions, morals, and values. His final sentence was, in my opinion, powerful. "Our increased reliance on laws to regulate behavior is a measure of how uncivilized we've become." When did it become so unusual or difficult to just do the right thing?

Friday, June 12, 2009

Living brings trials..

I haven't posted for a week because thoughts have been difficult to pull together. I am very worried about the direction of our country. I'm afraid my children (and grandchildren) are going to have a big price to pay for the enormous and growing government debt. (A post by itself.)

I am concerned about the level of education and intelligence of our population. Did you ever watch "Jaywalking" on Leno, or listen to the mangling of our language on television and radio? Does it concern anyone else that young people know more about Britney Spears and Kobe Bryant than Abraham Lincoln , Ben Franklin, or today's leaders? (Another post.)

Finally, our own family has had its own stresses including a younger sister-in-law who just suffered a massive stroke. We're all saying prayers for her.

One a fun note, I'm traveling tomorrow to watch four of my fabulous grandchildren while my son and his wife move to their new house. In reality, I'll mostly be trying to contain and entertain the 3-year-old (nicknamed Tornado). I don't think I'll take my laptop because I'm not sure when their Internet connection will be switched, and I doubt I'll have much time to spend on it anyway.

Hopefully, by the time I get back home, my sis-in-law will be improving, and family struggles will be subsiding. Then watch out, because I'm likely to get prolific and opinionated. Wait, I'm already opinionated. Aren't we all?

Thursday, June 4, 2009

Desert Springtime

Believe it or not, this is the sun.  It has been windy all day and I love the variety of the sky.  We have high cirrus, fluffy-looking cumulus, and kinds in between.  It is still warm at 7 p.m.--I'm guessing low 80s, but hubby says I always guess too cool--so I had a lovely walk.   
I have a couple of serious posts working around in my head, but they're not ready yet.  So I decided to join SkyWatch Friday.  I hope hubby's flight home isn't too rough tonight.

Monday, June 1, 2009


Saturday, I cheered at a graduation.  My brother's daughter graduated with her Bachelor of Science Degree as a Registered Nurse.  I was particularly proud because hubby and I were allowed to share her a bit as temporary surrogate parents for three of those years.  Never having had daughters, it was fun to have her (and her younger sister for a while) in the house during the week.

When she was accepted into the nursing program before her junior year, the advisor told her she would have to choose: nursing or basketball--it was not possible to do both.  Since the basketball scholarship was what made it possible for her to attend this private college, and she was determined to become a nurse, she was not deterred.  Maybe everyone could use a slice of her optimism.  Her basketball team made it to the second round of the NAIA national finals, she finished her nursing degree, and--in addition--she got married midyear when she found 4 free days.
She is a terrific girl and we are nearly as proud of her as her parents are.

Friday, May 29, 2009

New Camera

Well, I did it.  I broke down and bought a new little camera to replace the one that disappeared.  I know that one of the rules of life states that as soon as I popped for a new one, the other one would turn up.  I told hubby that the purchase was certainly worth it if only to know where the other one has been.  So far, though, we haven't seen it.

I read the reviews to see if I maybe should switch to a Nikon Cool Pix, but this camera won me over.  With some little cameras you could get 12 megapixels, but who needs that?  I don't plan to make posters.  And some reviewers say because of the difficulty of squeezing in that many pixels, some of the pictures are "noisier."  This little camera is a lot like the one I lost, with a few new features.  I am taking VERY good care of this one.  When my other one shows up, I'll tell you where it has been hiding.
Finally, it was less money than I paid for my older one, and from the Costco pack I also got a leather case and a bonus 2 GB SD card.  Pretty cool. 

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

A new collection of vanity plates

I had 13 recordings on my phone of new personalized license plates I've seen.  I'm not sure why they are also called vanity plates, although there are a few that lend themselves to that way of thinking:  A silver sedan was BUILDT; a black BMW coupe was SO SEXY; and a big, black Sierra truck was NICE HUH.  But there is the difficulty of whether the plate is referring to the vehicle or its owner.  The occupants are much harder to read.

Then, on the other hand: a big, red Dodge truck was OLD DUDE, but the old dude's wife was driving.  And I wasn't sure about the charcoal-gray Dodge truck that was DIRT DR.  Can just anyone be a soil physician?  Exactly what does that entail?  Is there much study involved?

Some plates convey an attitude like the white Honda sedan that said HOME (too much time in the car?), or the PT Cruiser convertible that was COZZEE.  Another PT Cruiser (black this time) was TUMCHFN, and a pretty blue Jaguar was LOCAL (but I don't remember whether or not it was a Utah plate).  Maybe the Jag is comfortable anywhere.  I'm guessing a Jaguar owner can afford to be.  

Somewhere I saw ITHAPNS.  I made the recording standing outside in the wind and I couldn't tell what I said the vehicle was.  It would have been very clever on an older car with dents and paint problems.  BUBBSY was on a red coupe, and I am assuming that it was an endearing nickname; a gray Honda said ANT HIL.  That could mean a lovely aunt named Hilary or Hilda, or a home for 6-legged insects--maybe both.

My favorite, though, was on a cute yellow convertible Thunderbird.  It's a favorite quote from a movie my family has watched multiple times: ASUWISH.

Until next time...

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

What's in a name?

A columnist in my newspaper really made a good point, and I want to share part of his column.  I know that every child is unique, and every parent wants to make sure we all recognize that individuality.  But, pleeaase, have a heart.  Any of us who have spent time in large groups of children (from preschool up) know that names can be a source of great amusement.  You young parents to be need to be aware of the difficulties when names are too odd, spelled in unusual ways, or require constant repeating.  

The columnist is Doug Robinson: 

 Apparently, my recent column  on weird people names struck a nerve. There are strong feelings about alternate  spellings — Soozy, Mychal, Stefanee, Arika — and “made-up” names— Diggery, Moon Unit, Lea (I’ll explain later) and so forth.

  One reader wrote:  At my job, I take appointments, and I’m required to write down the person’s name with correct spelling. The strangest spelling I’ve ever seen is the name “Susie”— spelled “Siouxzy.”

That poor girl would automatically have to spell her name every time!  He continues:

  From a reader named Jo Ellen:  Two true stories from a niece who worked as a nurse in a St. Louis, Mo., hospital: A baby named “Le-a.” Want to try to guess the pronunciation? “Ladash-  a.” (Note: This name was reported by several readers, as was Da-Da or “DaDashda”).  There was also a baby boy named Marco. Want to try to guess the pronunciation? “D-marco.”

   To quote the mother,  “The d is invisible.” 

Invisible letters...quite a trick.  Besides, Le-a should really be pronounced Lahyphena, but maybe I shouldn't give anyone ideas.

He has some general guidelines he thinks parents should follow.  I think they are pretty darn sensible.

1. If you can’t walk into a truck stop or gift shop and find a key chain or a coffee cup with that name or the same spelling, then try something else. 2. You must be able to determine  the gender of the child when you hear/see the name.

  No more girls named Stevie, Mychal, Jordan, Chase, Devon, Drew, Kyle or, for all we know, Harold and Arthur.

There are lots of unisex names: Morgan, Tyler (yes), Tracy, Kelly, Kris (Chris), etc.

  3. You must be able to say it when you see it. Use of punctuation  doesn’t even come up for consideration. Le-a is out. If you plan to name your next kid “& Smith” or “* Johnson” and expect anyone to call him/her “Asterisk” or “Ampersand,” think again.

  4. You should be able to spell the name when you hear it — for the most part, people should not have to ask. Let’s nationalize the spelling of some names and move on — is it Shayne, Shane, Shain, LeShane? Attention,  future parents, if you have doubts about the spelling  of a name, ask for help.

Different can be good, but it can also be a real pain.  He has more general rules.

 5. Please, enough already with using last names for first names — Taylor, Kennedy, Madison, Johnson, Anderson, Lincoln.

  6. No naming kids after weather phenomena— Misty, Dusty, Smoky, Winter, Autumn (Autymn), Spring, Stormy (Stormee), Windy (Windee), Nimbus, Precipitation,  Humidity (Humiditee) and so forth. Those are pony names, not human names.

  7. It must be a name for people, not for objects, etc.  “Apple,” doesn’t cut it, and neither does Avocado nor Celery nor any other fruit or vegetable.

  8. If you get too cute with the name, you’re probably trying  too hard. A reader named Derek (Darrick?) reports that a co-worker gathered these names from his Facebook account: Jermagesty, Tequila, Bacardi, Champagne, Abcde (pronounced like “rhapsody”).

I heard a young mother in a store, calling to her runaway toddler, "McCartney, come back."  Obviously, I'm not sure of the spelling, although I thought immediately of Paul--must be my age.

His last bit of wisdom was about using great characters, like from the Bible, for names.  Lots of pressure for Abrahams, Isaacs, and Jacobs.

Mom and I have talked about this too and we agree that if a child is exceptionally bright, friendly, and beautiful, he/she can survive a weird name.  But, woe be to a child who has any weaknesses.  

As I have many young nieces and nephews who are planning parenthood, I hope they read his last thought: “A man’s name is not like a mantle which merely hangs about him, and which one perchance may safely twitch and pull, but a perfectly fitting  garment, which, like the skin, has grown over and over him, at which one cannot rake and scrape without injuring the man himself.”  

He ended by signing, Duhg Robynson, but he could have used another y.

Saturday, May 16, 2009

Newspaper Corrections silliness

Just a quick thought before I go to exercise this morning: I need some language help again.  I've posted before about the strangeness of newspaper corrections, and I'm still confused.

My newspaper printed a couple of corrections today because a man accused of a crime was "incorrectly identified" in the paper yesterday.  Does that mean the wrong man was identified yesterday?  The picture is the same.  Shouldn't he have been identified yesterday?  Was the middle name they used yesterday not his?  

Even more confusing: a city was "misidentified."  Just how does that happen?  Is the city in the correction accurately identified?  Was a different city in the paper before?  Did someone spell something wrong?  

I hope my city isn't misidentified, unless it's for something bad, then maybe it is okay, but what if it is incorrectly identified?  Is that different?  Is it better to be incorrectly identified or misidentified?  I'm so baffled.

Friday, May 8, 2009

Lost forever?

I'm having trouble with a real mystery.  I have a Canon EOS Rebel camera that I got quite a few years ago.  It is a lovely camera, but when planning our trip to Italy last year I wanted something smaller.  So, I bought a little Canon ELPH.  It was so convenient and easy to carry, and the menus were much like my other Canon so there was little to learn.  It took good pictures and because it was so small, I carried it around all the time.

I can't find it!  I used it for the SkyWatch posting on April 23, and I took it when hubby and I went to visit our parents a couple of days later.  That's where my memory ends.  I don't remember getting it out at either place (and our parents don't remember seeing it).  I drove back to the city early the next week and made sure to pack the battery charger, but don't recall packing the camera.  We have looked everywhere!  

This really bugs me because I don't normally lose things.  Hubby has been known to misplace stuff from time to time, but I usually know where things are.  Until now.  This is soooo frustrating.  I've checked in the logical places, the weird places, and the bizarre places.  Where could it be?

Hubby's solution is that we'll buy me another one before our cruise in June.  You know what will happen?  As soon as I have a new one, the lost one will turn up.  But that's not possible, I've looked everywhere.  There must be a hole in the space/time continuum.

Wednesday, May 6, 2009

The last one?

Maybe this is the final installment.  There are some real truths underneath the humor.

I'd better go now and check my Facebook page to see if anyone wants to be my "friend."  Then I think I'll go out and actually converse with people for a while.  Moderation in all things.  

Tuesday, May 5, 2009

To Twitter or not to Twitter?

I guess Brian Crane is thinking about the technological world in sort of the same way I have been, only he's funnier and a much better artist.
I'll be interested to see what's in tomorrow's newspaper.  In the meantime, I'll try and figure out something to post that actually belongs to me.

Monday, May 4, 2009

Follow up

Here's the next Pickles about blogging.  I thought I'd share. 

Of course, I don't advocate violence....but it is a comic strip and it made me chuckle.

Friday, May 1, 2009

Blogging sounds bad?

Don't have much time for a thoughtful, considered post today.  I have to do a couple of things then be ready when hubby finishes his work week.  We are in the city and he will drive our 300 miles home with me this time.  But, this comic was in my newspaper this morning and I thought others may enjoy it too.  

My youngest son tells me I need a FaceBook page and although I'm considering that, I refuse to Twitter.  I'm not sure anyone needs to know--or cares--that much about what I'm doing.   Are young people forgetting how to socialize and speak to each other in person?  I hope not.

Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Finally gotten around to it.

I've finally taken the time to post and give credit for several awards fellow bloggers have bestowed on me.  I do, and did, appreciate them.  It just took me almost forever to do something with them.  Even that was with the patient instruction of one of the award presenters.  Thank you.  
Next, I need to figure out how to give an award myself.  I'll work on that; hopefully it won't take nearly as long.

Sunday, April 26, 2009

Last old slide.

This is the last of grandma's slides that show the dresses my mother made for me--at least since I was about 12 years old.  I know my sisters could put together a similar set.  She was so much more clever than I realized at the time.

When I was a senior in high school, the music/theater director led us in writing a play (or maybe it was an operetta).  The plot was about lonely miners and a bunch of women who are looking for husbands.  My part was that of a tomboy, a pal of the miners, who naturally falls in love with their leader.  He doesn't look at me as a bride, until I dress like the other women and show my feminine side.  
Of course there was a predictable happy ending with lots of brides and grooms.  

I'm not certain this was the only killer red dress.  I remember another one too, but apparently there was no picture taken.  Okay, that's my stroll down memory lane.  Besides making me more aware and appreciative of my mother's talent, I took my sewing machine in to be serviced.  I think I'll try a little sewing of my own.  I'll start small.