Thursday, December 30, 2010

Filtered black and white


Just messing around on Picasa.
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Wednesday, December 29, 2010

State of emergency?

Back in the day, we lived in Albany, NY, as Mr Charm worked for the state govt.  Now Albany essentially consists of a large hill running from Schenectady down to the Hudson River.  All the state offices are down by the river, and all the state employees lived somewhere on the hill, with some exceptions.  It's a great place to get stuck in traffic in a snowstorm, and city officials officially took note of this by placing large boxes full of sand at strategic intersections.  Because it gets lots of snow.  Not as much as Buffalo, but enough to serve as a topic of conversation.

So the then governor, once, when we had a decent sized snowstorm, hoping to ease a terrific traffic cluster****, informed  state employees that they did not have to come to work unless their presence was "essential."  They would get paid anyway.

Naturally, they all got in their cars and slid down the hill to work lest someone should think that whatever they did was not "essential."

Enjoying the snow, long ago

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Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Governor Christie is in trouble

It seems he went to Florida!  Florida!  and his constituents were hip-deep in snow!

Christie is drawing sharp criticism from local politicians and news outlets for vacationing at the same time as his lieutenant governor, Kim Guadagno, and for leaving a state senator in charge of the cleanup.

This is a cheap shot, the cheapest.  I lived in New Jersey for 18 years, and 1) we didn't have a lieutenant governor at all!  So when the incumbent was out of the state, a state senator was acting governor.  No-one noticed. 2) local government is in charge of cleaning up snow, and residents were always bitching about what an awful job they had done.

The man is allowed to take his kids to Disney World over the vacation, isn't he?  Or perhaps he should have taken the little tots to the Jersey shore?

I'm sure Christie can be criticized for many things, but this is a pretext.  He's a governor, for God's sake.

Sunday, December 26, 2010

Rules for cats and dogs

According to the local throwaway paper (no link, sorry) the Delaware State Veterinarian--who knew we had one?-- has issued a warning that no out of state dogs and cats can move to Delaware unless their papers are in order.  Such papers include a certificate from their vet that the animal is disease free and has had all its shots.

Undocumented people, fine.  Undocumented pets, no.

Thursday, December 23, 2010

Happy whatever it is you celebrate!

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College is a waste of time

from the economic point of view.

I have two young male relatives ambitious to be gourmet cooks.  A refused to go to college; B just graduated from a prestigious private college.   A works as a cook;  B is a busboy.  In mitigation, Be has no student loans; his father paid his way through college.

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Hoity-toity!

So many charities write to me lately.  It is sensible to make donations now, if you  are ever going to, because you can take it off your income tax.  It's tough to decide which worthy institutions to support.  The Salvation Army is a no-brainer.  So are the Delaware Symphony and the Delaware Art Museum.  WRTI, which I listen to all the time.  Second Harvest.  Doctors without Borders.  All of these can be sure of a check.

Then there are those which set off alarms.  Boys'Town?  I don't think they need me.  Likewise the American Red Cross.

Today I got a solicitation  which caused me no hesitation at all.  Last Summer I visited the Edna St Vincent Millay Society, which has taken over and is preserving the home of, guess who?  Not to keep you in suspense, it is Edna St Vincent Millay, she of the candle that burns at both ends and other soppy poetry.  As a general rule,  the poetry of authors who use three names is seldom first-rate.  But I digress.

We took the tour, which certainly revealed some insight into the lady.  Edna was an interesting woman, a beauty who married a rich man but did not let this stand in the way of  taking many lovers. If the husband could live with this, it didn't bother me.  She wanted things her own way, and more or less got them.  No-one could disturb  the order of the books in her study, for instance.

The most interesting thing I took away from the tour, however, was that she instructed the servants not to speak to her (or her husband) without being spoken to first.   I wonder whether they had to tug their forelocks when responding to her, or whether a dignified bow would do?

Somehow I don't quite feel like donating to the upkeep of her home.  I'll stick to the Salvation Army.

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Brilliant?

I just finished reading a book by Jane Brox called "Brilliant," which I liked very much, until I got to the the last fifth of it.

Let's back up a bit now.  "Brillliant" is the story of Prometheus, essentially.  It relates how humanity ascended from darkness to  our current state of empowerment.   From cave dwellers burning animal fat, to whalers seeking sperm oil, to the use of oil in the form of kerosene and up to the present, the story she tells is one of triumph, of brilliant scientists harnessing nature and making people's lives easier, more productive, and happier.  Especially vivid is the account of how rural electrification  freed small town residents and country dwellers from the drudgery that up until then had consumed most of their waking hours.

The last few chapters, however, are full of envirosludge, pious blitherings about alternative energy and conservation, featuring our old friends, solar panels, wind farms, and recycling, and full of apologies for using irreplaceable resources.

Friday, December 17, 2010

A song sung by my high school choir

Song: Lost in the Night (Finnish Song, 1929, Tr. Olav Lee)

Lost in the night doth the heathen yet languish,
Longing for morning the darkness to vanquish,
Plaintively heaving a sigh full of anguish:
Will not day come soon? Will not day come soon?

Must he be vainly awaiting the morrow?
Shall we who have it no light let him borrow?
Giving no heed to his burden of sorrow:
Will you help us soon? Will you help us soon?

Sorrowing brother, in darkness yet dwelling,
Dawned hath the day of a radiance excelling,
Death's dreaded darkness forever dispelling:
Christ is coming soon! Christ is coming soon!

Light o'er the land of the heathen is beaming,
Rivers of life through its deserts are streaming,
Millions yet sigh for the Savior redeeming:
Come and save us soon! Come and save us soon!


Yes, our high school choir sang it; we possibly even sang it in a church, because we sang in churches more than once.  I'm talking public high school here.


How times have changed.  Our choir director would be hung from the lampposts today if he taught a bunch of high school students to sing this song.  I liked the song, without quite understanding what it was about. The meaning just went over my head.   You probably think that my head was rather thick.  Remember that I was only 15 and completely ignorant of theology.  I  thought the song was rather pleasingly mournful, as songs from northern countries tend to be.  Something about the long winters, I believe.  Or the short winter days.
I still remember the melody and most of the words.

I like hymns, anyway.

Thursday, December 16, 2010

Another contender for most useless Christmas present


Vendors have outdone themselves in providing kitchy, ugly gifts, which no-one in their right mind would give anyone at any other season. This one can sit pridefully on your dresser, helping burglars to find your most expensive and valuable jewelry conveniently. Yours for $29 from Pottery Barn.

An aside on putting your good jewelry on top of your dresser. Don't do it. I speak from experience. Don't hide it in the freezer, either. Criminals know about that one. Where to put it? That's a tough one. Perhaps in a locked box under your bed?--no, that might make them mad, and you don't want angry burglars approaching your bed, especially if you're in it.

Anyway, you can have these replicas of the Taj Mahal or the Eiffel Tower by Christmas if you order before 10 am December 23.
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Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Moral idiots

I never thought I would see the day.

Do these people want to abolish the social compact entirely?  Some activities are morally repugnant to every group that pretends to be civilized.

Shall we revert to a state of nature, when the lives of men are brutish, nasty, solitary and short?

Must drivers  going through a traffic light at 3 a.m., even though there is no-one in sight and nobody is harmed,  be held accountable for breaking a law, while a man who has sex with his daughter should be left to get on with it because she's over 18?

Friday, December 10, 2010

It's nice to go to college

but it's not going to get you anywhere.

In 1992 119,000 waiters and waitresses were college degree holders. By 2008, this number had more than doubled to 318,000. While the total number of waiters and waitresses grew by about 1 million during this period, 20% of all new jobs in this occupation were filled by college graduates.

So if you want to go to college, do so in a disinterested pursuit of knowledge for its own sake.

Or consider it a four (0r five) year adventure in drinking beer and having fun.

Garden scene with statue

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Thursday, December 09, 2010

New painting


I took this at night with my iPhone. The colors are not accurate.  Actual colors are much more subtle. It's still a work in progress.

By the way, I'm thinking of rolling out a new website just for my paintings after the first of the year.  Maybe someone will buy some of them?
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Wednesday, December 08, 2010

The last day of Chanukah

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Christmas letter, sort of



To everyone who deserves a personal note: You're not going to get one. We are another year older and that's about it. No, Mr Charm is not better. No, it's not likely he ever will be. Yes, we are coping. We have some laughs. And two lovely daughters. And two adorable grandchildren. And as much wine as we need, from our daughter and son-in-law's winery.

I feel pretty good most of the time. I don't know whether this is the result of exercise, good genes, or beta blocker, or if I am just to dumb to know better.

To Eleanor: I got a letter from Patti and answered it, but the answer came back Address Unknown. So either I got it wrong or someone at the Post Office is an idiot. So please tell her to write me again.

To Jacquie: I hope you are okay and that your family is doing well. I'd love to hear from you.

To Natalie: How is Florida working out?

To Joan K: How is retirement working out?

To Pat: I hope you are feeling better.

To Kay: I hope you are feeling better.

To all my friends in New Jersey and elsewhere: I miss you guys.

I am taking an art class at the Delaware Art Museum—also scanning photographs into my computer. Taking pictures with my iPhone, which takes surprisingly good pictures. And I usually manage to bring it with me, which I can't say about either one of my Olympus digital cameras.

I am volunteering at the Delaware Symphony, stuffing envelopes from time to time. I love it. The orchestra is unusually good. Not just for a small town orchestra, but compared to any other orchestra.

The above is a picture of our last year's Christmas decorations. All of them. It is in place again this year.

So I did write a Christmas letter, after all. And this is it.

Reviewing my purchase for Macy's

Macy's sent me an e-mail asking if I wanted to review my recent on-line purchase.  Do I?  In the words of Sarah Palin, you betcha!  But before I could review  said recent purchase, I had to log in.  I have a passionate desire not to log in to anyone's site.  I don't want to remember 1,000 passwords, some of which contain letters as well as numbers, other of which are case-sensitive, and so on.  I don't want to marry Macy's, I don't even want a relationship other than this:  you sell me stuff, I pay for it.  Even that is too much.

So my dear readers are going to have to read my review of my recent purchase, because I am brimming with the desire to tell all. Here goes:

I should mention here that I am one of Macy's favorite customers.  They tell me so repeatedly. So special am I that they keep sending me special offers only for their  favorite customers.!!!

I bought three pieces of jewelry from aforementioned Macy's website.  They were tiny, but came in a huge padded envelope.  One was a gold necklace which had looked okay on the website, but resembled dental floss in person.  I decided to return it to my local Macy's store.  I took the necklace, with tag attached, and enclosed in a little tiny baggie, and put it in my purse.  The envelope wouldn't fit in my purse, so I left it home.

The clerk at the jewelry counter claimed to be unable to take the necklace because I didn't have the packaging.  Even though I had charged it to my Macy's card.  She claimed to be unable to look it up in my account.  I figured she really didn't want to go to the trouble, but I was too polite or stupid to say so.   So I tucked the little tiny thing back into my purse.  I knew in my heart that I would lose the thing before I could manage to return with the bulky envelope.  In the words of P G Wodehouse, it had the stark inevitability of a Greek tragedy.  And so it proved to be.

Went home.  Got envelope.  Returned to Macy's jewelry counter.  No little tiny baggie.

So now I'm mad as hell at Macy's, but even madder at myself for being so stupid and gormless.  It's a lose-lose proposition.

Tuesday, December 07, 2010

Tendentious

This article, linked by instapundit, is tendentious.    Definition of tendentious:

having or showing an intentional tendency or bias, esp a controversial one.

Is all of America turning into Detroit? Hell, no.  Not even close.  The author cites a number of distressing problems in an  attempt to prove that we are going down the tubes.  In his zeal to make his point, he is mixing apples and oranges and throwing in a grapefruit or two and maybe a papaya.

The second most dangerous city in the United States - Camden, N.J. - is about to lay off about half its police.
I hardly know where to start taking this one to pieces:  1)  Camden has been a hellhole for ages; 2)  Some of those policemen are unemployables who are assigned to sit around the courthouse all day and never have any effect on crime; 3)This is an old game--those in charge want to make the citizenry feel their pain so that someone, somewhere, will give them more money; 4) Police in New Jersey are overpaid and have benefits the average working stiff would die for.
I could go on, but I'll let someone else have a go.  Read the article.

Late-breaking:  Linked by instapundit! 

Monday, December 06, 2010

Thursday, December 02, 2010

Good jobs for writers

Another shameful story from higher education, the Potemkin Village du jour.