Friday, December 27, 2013


I read Funny Times, which is a monthly newspaper that's a collection of humor - cartoons, articles, what have you.  I usually enjoy most of it, sometimes all of it, but I've never had the urge to write to an author before this month, when they carried an article by Roz Warren, a librarian and a humor writer, on the idea that men are from these books, while women are from those books. 

Warren says she has learned that it's possible to predict the gender of a reader from what they're checking out.  Bodice-rippers?  Almost certainly female.  War novels?  Other side of the aisle.  But why? she asks.  If each type of book is keyed to a given gender, why not read the books of the  'other side' just to see what they have to say to you?  You might learn something interesting.

Here's her original article, which she was kind enough to send to me.

Thursday, December 26, 2013



Elementary School | Smalltown, GA, USA

(I am an intelligent child, but easily get bored after getting my work done. One day, one of the student teachers decides she is tired of me talking to my friends after I am done. She tapes my mouth shut with duct tape. I went home and told my mother, who decided to take me to class the next day.)
Mom: “Are you [Teacher's Name]?”
Teacher: “Yes, ma’am. How can I help you?”
(My 5’1″ mother proceeds to grab the teacher’s shirt and pull her close.)
Mom: “If you EVER touch my son again, I will crush your windpipe so fast you won’t even REGISTER why you can’t breathe!”
(My mom lets go of the teacher, who drops to the floor. As my mom goes to leave, she sees the principal coming over.)
Mom: “You may wanna pick your teacher up off of the d*** floor.”
(That was the last day I ever saw that student teacher. She quit and started working at her family’s restaurant!)

I admit, it did strike me as funny, initially.  And then it didn't.


I received two amazing gifts today.

The first, from a friend in southern France,  amazed me -- a box with French cookies, French candy, and a bottle of French wine.  Unbelievable, I thought, and I still do.  Incredibly generous.

The second, from a Canadian friend,  stunned me -- a simple Christmas card saying that she really liked knowing me.  This floored me. I am always a little startled when people actually like me, and when it's someone that I've never even met.... wow.

If these had been all that I received this year, I would have had ample reason for gratitude.  My language partners are awesome people.

Wednesday, December 25, 2013

Feline Induced Guilt

In two days we are packing the cat off to a kennel for a week.  I am pretty sure she didn't like it there, last time.  Now I look at her and think sorry, cat......


I'm not sure if I've ever believed in religion -- at least, since I was able to think for myself.  It seems to me that it's always seemed onerous.  I've never seen the point of it.  This does not mean that I was a brave young thinker; quite the contrary, I went to Catholic religious services all the time when I was a kid, and even briefly fostered the classic Catholic thought of becoming a priest.  But once I was out of high school, that participation decreased markedly, except for when it served a secondary purpose, such as getting me away from the regimentation of Air Force basic training.

My mother was deeply religious; my wife is also religious, although less so.  I have asked her more than once what she gets out of it, and she tells me that she feels a sense of community, and that she has the feeling that she's not alone in having problems.  I know that some people mock this attitude, stating sternly that they are the captains of their life, but I have no problem with something that gives such relief.  It just never seems to work for me.

I'd like to say that my conclusions and feelings are the result of thoughtful observation and contemplation, but they're not.  They're more the feeling that it takes effort to participate in religion, and I don't see benefit flowing in the other direction.  Sure, I dislike things about religion generally and the Catholic church specifically -- all that money flowing in, no public accountability?  no one thinking that maybe having unmarried men in charge of children couldn't be a problem?  -- but thats not the reason I don't like to participate.  The reason is: I just don't get it.

I cringe when I read, in an article about the current pope, that parishioners at - I think - a Canadian parish speak brightly about their newfound sense of hope and participation, a newfound desire to participate, with this new pope.  I think shouldn't that come from the religion, not the person running it?

Still: maybe this pope is a first, faltering step toward reinfusion of the human values back into the Church, getting it away from worrying about things that it can't change or about which it should not care, thinking more about caring and less about dogma.  If so,  I wish him well. Certainly,  I like what I hear of him.  I'm sure he's still way more religious than me -- but I get the sense that he's a real person, not a fixture on a throne.  I think that's a good thing.

Tuesday, December 24, 2013

Make it.....

Grinching It

I'm not saying that I'm the Grinch.  But this morning I learned that one friend's mother has cancelled their holiday party because she is divorcing her father; a second friend was unable to talk with me today because she is very sick; and a third has said on Facebook that it 'might be necessary for her to forget him' - the him, presumably, being her boyfriend. I may not be the Grinch, but perhaps I'm a carrier?

I was in a tearingly bad mood last night, the result of a bad experience in a hotel, and one or two other things, but these people have me beat, hands-down.  I wish I could do something for them.

Darth's Bike

I've no desire to ride a motorcycle, let alone to own one. I'd do serious damage to myself and to others.

But if I *did*...... this is the one I'd want.

Sandy's Place

It would be inaccurate to say that I need a place like this, near here..... but I certainly would LIKE one.


Saturday, December 21, 2013


Most things labelled 'hilarious' are at most mildly amusing.


I always think it's funny when I go to add a new site to Feedly -- and it's already there!

Though at least this time it confirmed something that I'd heard, did believe, but didn't understand:  what's in mincement.

Now I just would like to know why it's called that.

Friday, December 20, 2013


Interesting article about stores who want to do what I'll call the CHEERS move = I enter, they know immediately that I'm there, they know what I like, they make me offers designed to appeal to me. Everybody knows my name.

Healey Cypher, the head of retail innovation at eBay, tells a story about a bookseller who was convinced that online commerce would kill his business: ‘‘I said to him: ‘How do you know when someone’s in your store? You don’t, unless they bought something, and then only after the purchase. What if you had a platform for the first time ever that said, ‘‘This person is in your store, they like these things, they bought these things on your web store, and here’s an offer you should give them based on their purchases’’? 

I find it seductive, but also scary.  I do want them to recognize me, but I don't want them coming up to me and saying here's a book that 83% of the people who bought that last one you bought, the one you got at the airport book kiosk in Bozeman, say they liked, too.  You should buy it.  I want anonmymity until it helps ME.

Thursday, December 19, 2013

The Burka Avenger

She's freaking awesome.

The Pakistani superhero—and star of the animated series Burka Avenger—won international acclaim this year for both her gender (she’s the first female Pakistani superhero) and her mission (she fights corrupt politicians, using books and pens and knowledge as weapons, in an effort to promote girls’ education). The Urdu-language series is now in talks to go global, and may soon be broadcast in 18 languages in 60 countries.

Found here.

Maybe We Should... this in those places where small-minded people have chopped music budgets.

Wednesday, December 18, 2013

Tuesday, December 17, 2013


I realized today that I have more French-speaking friends than English-speaking ones. They tell me things, and I'm getting, at least a little, involved with their lives.

This week, I ordered gifts from Amazon.Fr for the children of one conversation partner whom I visited last summer.  He was pleased, and  tells me that they want to call me to thank me.

A different French correspondant found two weeks ago that her sister had attempted suicide.  She has no idea why, and tells me that their family is shattered by the news -- as was the family of a second  correspondant who told me a few months ago of the suicide of her sister.

A new contact tells me that her boyfriend thinks things are okay between them, and wants to continue, but she's not sure if they should.  She wants to do right by him, doesn't want to let him down, but she's just not sure.  She's  so tense about it (and other things) that she grinds her teeth at night, to the point where she broke a tooth.

Another tells me that her parents are getting divorced -- and the mother has asked her if its okay with her.  She would rather not be involved at all. While a woman in the north of France tells me of the birth of her second daughter, and sends me pictures.   I'm arranging for flowers to be delivered to her home.  Do I do that with my own family?  Never even occurs to me.

I feel for all of these people.  For some reason that I can't explain, they're more real to me than people in my own life. 

Sunday, December 15, 2013

A French Story


Round Food

Our project last night.....

Saturday, December 14, 2013

Liberal Arts

In A World....


Every so often, if I am lucky, I read something that is so well written, I have to stop before the end, just to let the sheer pleasure of the words percolate through me, and so as to stretch out the period of enjoyment of the piece.

The Case of Death and Honey, by Neil Gaiman, in the collection A Study in Sherlock, is such a piece.

Thursday, December 12, 2013


How is this even possible?

Wednesday, December 11, 2013

Loops and Giggles

I know, that title doesn't make sense.  But I'm not in a particularly creative mood.

Two days ago, energetically demonstrating to my mento how I'd seen a teenage boy fling himself forward, I flung myself forward, and crashed to the ground, banging up my wrist and the little fingers on both hands.  Not entirely sure that I didn't break the finger on one hand, though, since it pretty much works even though it's still swollen, I'm guessing not.  I dislike getting reminded that I'm getting older.

My blood sugar readings are way high.  I'm telling myself that its connected with that prolonged swelling.  Wish there was a way I could just ask a medical person.  But then again, I've found that medical people are just as bad as others at making something up when they aren't sure - like the nurse practitioner who assured me that my bent toe was arthritis (I think it was a badly-fitting shoe, since the curve of the toe precisely matched the curve of the  shoe's inner sole).

I baked caramel, as I've done before, and decided to make a double batch.  Found you can't do that.  At least, I can't.  Overnight, it was still soupy.  I redid it,making a single batch, and it was fine.  Then I made a batch of chocolate caramel, and it failed -- because somehow I tried to use the last two steps of the first one's recipe to finish it.  Again, I redid it and it worked just fine.  But it irks me to think of all the eggs I wasted.  And then there's the filled cookies I made, that came out more like filled scones.  They're actually not bad, but not what I wanted to make.  Two tries on that one, too. Batch of flour and eggs wasted then, too.

Daughter's a bit unhappy because we're not going to get a christmas tree this year.  There isn't a good reason to have one  -- for the three weeks we could expect a tree to live, we'll all be gone ten days, and she'll be gone two days.  Didn't make sense.  Cuts no ice with her.  I think she sees us as shredding memories of her youth.

People who put microfuses into strings of christmas lights -- the kind that require tweezers to get out - should have their fingers glued together.  Ttwo of the three strings of lights on our small artificial christmas tree - don't work.  If we hadn't spent so much money on gifts, I swear I'd pitch it and get another.  Might do it anyway.  Maybe we should just go artificial for the big one, too.  I do love the aroma of a real tree, but after a while -- I don't know, it just seems a bit strange to haul it home, stare at it, and then pitch it.  After all that effort...... 

Cat just walked across the keyboard, leaving little hairs as she went.  Glad I have this stupid little plastic sheath on it. I do not want to have to replace the keyboard again.

Saturday, December 07, 2013

Jack Vale

I don't normally like the idea of 'pranking', but this guy is amazing.


This morning I discovered that if a recipe for caramel will bubble up to about 60 percent of the pot after you add milk and butter, doubling the recipe will result in creation of a moderately messy stovetop.

Friday, December 06, 2013

Thursday, December 05, 2013

hot water

Showers should let you preset a temperature and not start flowing until that temperature is deliverable....

Wednesday, December 04, 2013


My mother used to make lists.  Things to do, things to remember, how to do things.  Some of the lists were fairly lengthy.  Others were short -- reminder that the hot water turned to the left, while the cold water turned to the right, for example.

I've been working my way through our new Bose radio -- building a playlist in Windows Media, getting the Bose to stream it from the PC to its own speakers.  Generally, its easy to do, but, like the Apple It just works (but it doesn't), the way to get it to work isn't always obvious.  I'm sure, after a few days, it'll be 'intuitively obvious', but now, not so much.  (Why, for example, can I say 'play' for a Playlist, but in Bose, I have to pick a song to start with?)

So as I find things, I make a list.  For example, my current list:


The list helps.  But, of course, I'm not my mother.  I don't need the list.  It just helps.

So far.

Monday, December 02, 2013


Over the weekend, I finally made it to Kramerbooks in Washington, DC.  And now I know why people I speak so highly of it. I'll take it over any three story Barnes and Noble, anytime.

I now have about fifteen books waiting to be read.