Tuesday, November 24, 2020

Where's Darius?

I'm worried about Darius, the lifer at Western Illinois Correctional Facility that I correspond with through my church's penpal program. It's been more than a month since I've heard from him.

Maybe he was moved to another facility. I've learned how often that happens.

Or maybe he got bored with writing to me. That would surprise, but not shock, me. At the beginning of our correspondence, he indicated that he hoped for in-person visits from me. I made it clear that I was committed to answering his every letter, but that was all.

Or maybe he's ill. I checked the stats, and 62 inmates have been confirmed to have the corona virus, and 49 have recovered. Does that mean the remaining 13 are dead? I don't know.

I understand, and agree, that Darius did something society can't forgive, and that prison is where he belongs. 

I also believe what the Book of Matthew tells us: "Whatever you did for the least of these brothers and sisters, you did for me."

So I hold Darius in my heart, and am grateful to him in a way. I'm not sure that, before I enrolled in this penpal program, I gave the incarcerated one moment's thought. I'm glad he taught me that my heart has room in it for them, too.


 WWW. WEDNESDAY asks three questions to prompt you to speak bookishly. To participate, and to see how other book lovers responded, click here

1. What are you currently reading? Mrs. McGinty's Dead by Agatha Christie. The McGinty murder trial was in all the papers, but Hercule Poirot was uninterested. A little old lady was bludgeoned and robbed of a small amount of money and her boarder was found guilty after overwhelming evidence was presented in court. Our favorite sleuth dismissed the public's fascination with the tawdry case as just another indication of how "senseless, cruel and brutal" English society had become. 

Then his friend, Superintendant Spence, reached out to discuss the McGinty case. Spence was sure that the wrong man had been convicted -- the evidence was just too convincing -- and would soon be executed. Now Poirot is interested because he's offended. Hanging an innocent man would be wrong ... uncivilized, even. Poirot responds to Spence's plea for help and we're on our way.
So far I'm liking the book because I just enjoy being in Poirot's (egg-shaped) head so much!

 2. What did you recently finish reading? JFK: Coming of Age in the American Century, 1917-1956 by Frederik Logevall. This is Volume 1 of what promises to be a comprehensive biography of President Kennedy. I can't wait for Volume 2!

Kennedy presents biographers with a challenge: the 35th President is at once familiar and elusive. We know he was capable of inspiring us with soaring rhetoric, but we don't know what inspired him. We also know that, on the one hand, he had the drive and discipline to become the youngest man ever elected to the Presidency, and yet lacked the self-control to keep his zipper shut.  

Logevall comes very near to solving the riddle. The evidence points to the famous Kennedy Clan, but not in the ways often assumed. Because his parents concentrated their expectations and aspirations on their eldest son -- the stronger, more handsome Joe, Jr. -- their second son was given space to develop his own personality. He was naturally funnier and more charming than Joe, and more original and rebellious than the older son could ever be allowed to be. Because Jack was spent so much of his childhood and adolescence alone in his sick bed, he became more bookish, curious and creative. He also developed a physical courage and self-sufficiency that not only surprised his family, it helped save the lives of his crew and made him a Naval hero in WWII.

The costar of this book is patriarch Joe Kennedy, Sr. He came to understand and appreciate his second son's strengths and supported him but didn't dominate him. Certainly old Joe damaged his children, too (his womanizing corrupted his sons' relationships not only to their mother but women in general, and there was, of course, Rosemary), but I had no doubt that he loved and valued them, too.

 3. What will read next? Mystery? Another biography? I'm not sure. But it won't be Meet Me in Monaco. I finally got this popular chick-lit from the library and found it simply didn't grab me. It wasn't any one thing, I just found myself not caring about the characters. Maybe it's me.

Sunday, November 22, 2020

Nine wonderful years have come to an end


The Cubs and team president/boy genius Theo Epstein have parted company. I was shocked at the news, but have gradually accepted what I cannot change.

He built this Cub team. Without him as architect of this roster, I wouldn't have an armoire filled with Cubs playoff t-shirts. 2015, 2017, 2018 and 2020. And, oh, yeah, there was 2016! The year when the Cubs went from Lovable Losers to World Champions!

I don't like this. There is a prevailing trade-them-all attitude in the air. Theo brought Joe Maddon, the skipper I loved so, to Chicago and now then escorted him to the city limits. Jake Arrieta and Jon Lester are both gone. And now there are whispers that Javier Baez and Kyle Schwarber -- two players Theo considered untouchable -- are on the block. And Kris Byrant, who puts the BRY in BRYZZO, too.

But, so far, no one is talking about wresting my darling Anthony Rizzo away. I don't see how they can. He's not only the team leader on the field, the city has come to love him for his philanthropic work. Last week, he raised $850,000 to battle pediatric cancer. (And what did you do last week?)

There's a school of thought that it's time. This team is older now, and athletes have a short shelf life. They will never win another World Series together, so let's break them up.

I don't subscribe to this school of thought. My dad never saw the Cubs win the World Series. Neither did his parents. Nor my uncle. I would feel beyond greedy to expect to see TWO World Series championships! I just want to watch guys I've come to love take the field in pinstripes, perform admirably, and keep me company on sunny summer afternoons. 

Is that really too much to ask? 

Apparently, for those who have some sort of fetish for winning.

Saturday, November 21, 2020

Fascinating and heartening

Rent it here
Being a nerd, I spent my Friday night watching a documentary about the 1960 Wisconsin Primary. As a film, I appreciated it. The action feels spontaneous and authentic. You're just there in the car with Humphrey or the hotel room with Kennedy, watching history unfold minute-by-minute. I can see why Oscar-winning directors like Scorcese, Redford and Pollack championed its preservation.

As an American, I found it downright inspiring. Here were two Senators, crisscrossing Wisconsin in April, vying for votes. And guess what: they never derided one another. After the Trump-era's nauseating nicknames (Crooked Hillary, Sleepy Joe Biden, Low Energy Jeb, Pocahontas ...), this left me giddy. As Trump recedes, I hope we can go back to the future.

Hubert Humphrey concentrates his efforts on the farmers, who are just naturally less effusive and so his events have less juice than JFK's. But they're listening, and they care about what Humphrey is saying. Kennedy is a rock star in the metropolitan and ethnic areas. It's especially touching to see the men trade places: No one seems to know/care about Humphrey in the city and factory workers shake Kennedy's hand without even looking at him. You can practically see their "Yeah, whatever" thought bubbles. There is a beautiful humility in these moments as Kennedy and Humphrey asked apathetic citizens for their votes.

I noticed things in ways the filmmakers couldn't have intended because in real time, they didn't have the benefit of hindsight.

•  While Humphrey tends to be filmed straight on, it's spooky how many shots are framed over JFK's shoulder so that we see the back of his head. As Lee Harvey Oswald did.

•  On election night, Kennedy is almost as interested in Nixon's Wisconsin vote total in the Republican primary as he is in his own. He was already thinking ahead to the general, and knew he'd have more trouble with Nixon than Humphrey. (He beat Humphrey in the Wisconsin primary, but lost the state to Nixon in November.)

•  Jackie was not yet JACKIE. She was just some politician's wife, an appendage of her husband. She waded through a waiting crowd and ... nothing. He followed her by a few seconds and was greeted by cheers and pandemonium. There's a lovely shot of her clasping and reclasping her white gloved hands behind her back, betraying her nervousness as she spoke Polish to the largely immigrant crowd. I wanted to say, "Girl, calm down! You're thisclose to being an icon!"


Friday, November 20, 2020

Saturday 9

 Saturday 9: Walking on Broken Glass (1992)

Unfamiliar with this week's tune? Hear it here.

1) Annie sings that she feels she's walking on broken glass. What's the most recent item you broke? I can't think of anything, which is weird because I'm such a klutz. It seems I'm always dropping things and cracking/breaking them. The dinner plate I use most nights is chipped. I did that right after I bought the new stoneware. Literally, as I was bringing the service for 4 up to my apartment, I chipped one of the dinner plates. Hadn't even taken them out of the carton yet. That is so me.

2) She sings about being cut until she bleeds. Tell us about a time you needed stitches. In Spring 2013, I had the beauty mark near my lip removed. (On my arm, it would have been a mole.) My dermatologist wanted it biopsied but because it was on such a prominent spot on my face, he didn't want to remove it himself. He sent me to a plastic surgeon, and it was an interesting experience. While she was carving, I didn't feel a thing. So I was surprised to see three very thick black stitches. When the anesthetic wore off, the site throbbed and looked awful. But damn, she was a good surgeon. Today the scar is barely visible. (Most important: the mole turned out to be benign.)

3) This week's featured artist, Annie Lennox, was born on Christmas Day. Do you know anyone whose birthday falls on a holiday? Some years, my birthday falls on Thanksgiving.

4) When Annie met Dave Stewart, with whom she'd form the duo The Eurthmyics, she was living in Australia and staying in a tiny apartment called a bedsit. The occupant has his/her own combination bedroom/livingroom with cooking facilities, but must share a bathroom. Tell us about one of your early apartments. Third floor walk up in an old Victorian. Two rooms with a separate kitchen. Tub, but no shower. It was tiny, but I was very happy there for a long time.

5) After the Eurythmics broke up, Annie went out on her own. Would you rather work independently, or as part of a group? I'm pretty independent.

6) Among her many honors, Annie Lennox was named chancellor of Scotland's Glasgow Calledonia University. What's the last college campus you visited? What brought you there? Last year, I went to Western Illinois University to visit my nephew. This year, it hasn't been possible. WIU is being strict about their covid protocols. Even their mascot, Rocky the Bulldog, wears a mask. (Good for you, Rocky!)

7) In 1992, the year this song was recorded, compact discs outsold cassette tapes for the first time. Back in the day, did you enjoy making your own mix tapes? It was an obsession of mine back in the long-ago 80s.

8) Also in 1992, Johnny Carson made his last appearance as host of The Tonight Show.  The catchphrase, "Here's Johnny!" was associated with the show. Can you think of another popular TV catchphrase? Laura Petrie: "Oh, Rob!"

9) Random question: Think of your past week. Now look ahead to the coming week. Would you like it to be more, or less, exciting? More exciting, thank you. But I'd like to request only good news.



Thursday, November 19, 2020

I hope I don't mess up

My art director and I have worked together -- day in/day out, more or less well but not always without friction -- for the last 16 years. Our relationship is close and complicated, because I'm easily exasperated and she can be competitive. But we know each other well and are interdependent.

She has breast cancer. The corona virus makes this more complicated. No one from her family (in California) can fly in. Once chemo begins, she's been warned to keep her circle very small because she'll be especially vulnerable to infection. Her boyfriend has two teenagers that live with their mother. When treatment starts, will he choose her or his kids?

Oh yeah, and it's a rather large lump 2cm x 2 cm. Stage 2. Her oncologist wants to shrink the tumor with chemo to minimize the amount of cutting they have to do when the time comes to remove it.

She calls me a lot, even when she there's no work to discuss. I don't know what to do, exactly. I don't want to diminish what she's going through: the woman does have cancer. On the other hand, I can only recite the bright side of the situation -- we have great insurance, she lives within walking distance to a world-class hospital with a reputation for cancer treatment, our new boss is far more sensitive to her situation than our old one would have been -- so many times. It begins to sound rote and condescending.

So I babble. I tell her tales of Henry and Key West in anticipation of my upcoming trip. Last night I shared my fascination with dynastic families where everyone is successful -- like Chicago's Emanuel brothers (Mayor Rahm, Dr. Ezekial and superagent Ari). It seems random to me, just sharing whatever pops into my head, but she keeps calling.

In a way, she reminds me of a toddler on a trike. When they tumble, there's often that split second when they look to you to see how you react to the mishap. If you gasp, they cry. If you smile and say, "Oh well, that happens," they get back on the bike. I think my normalcy in dealing with my art director comforts her.

At least I hope so. I know that she's looking to me for support that she feels I can give and I don't want to disappoint her.

Monday, November 16, 2020

5 minutes/day

Here's a true-life tale about a gal and her digital timer. I was complaining to my shrink that I am forever lazy, lack discipline and can't get out of my own way. That instead of attacking one of the BIG things in my life that needs doing -- sorting and parting with books, cleaning out the closets, exercising -- all I do is fart around on the internet and nap. And my self loathing grows.

She suggested I get a timer and set it for five minutes each day. Just five minutes.  

Five minutes spent on my books. Five minutes spent doing steps on my lateral thigh trainer. Five minutes organizing paperwork that I've let build up. 

In December, I'm supposed to bump it up to 7 minutes a day. Then 10 in January.

It sounded silly when she suggested it. Five minutes? I mean, really!

Maybe I don't know better than everyone about everything. Maybe she did something to earn all those letters after her name.

It works! It makes whatever I'm about to tackle feel manageable, feel doable. It makes me happy. And I'm seeing an improvement in my overstuffed den.

She's sorry

My aunt is a Trumper, and very outspoken about it. Four years ago, it caused a rift between her and her oldest son and grandchildren that still hasn't healed. Her son (my cousin) has a hard time accepting that his mother is "a racist homophobe." I can see why he's disheartened, but I still refuse to believe it. Before he was born, when my aunt was still living at home with my grandparents, she had President Kennedy's photo in a frame in her bedroom. I insist on believing that if she ever watched anything but Fox or read a newspaper, she wouldn't be aggrieved and angry 24/7 and would regain a compassionate, real world perspective. At any rate, I have gotten around this problem by simply refusing to engage with her on politics.

I quit following her on Facebook months ago. I stay in contact with her, via email, but I stopped acknowledging or even looking at her social media feed. I assumed she had stopped looking at mine.

Well, last week I found that wasn't true. After Joe Biden hit 270, I opined that our (current) President is really not interested in a free and fair election. He is only interested in winning. I reasoned that his own election night criteria for questioning PA's results -- that Philadelphia is known for corruption and Pennsylvania is is run by Democrats -- also applies to FL. That state's results were also very close. It's not like corruption is unknown in Miami-Dade, and Ron DeSantis is such a Trump loyalist that Don Jr. gives him regular shout outs on Twitter. Why isn't he insisting on a second look at FL then? Oh, yeah, because Trump won FL. 

My aunt was livid. She thought I was saying that Florida's vote was "rigged." I wasn't. I don't think it was. I don't think Pennsylvania's was, either. My point is that our President is completely self serving and self interested.

She told me I "need to take this down." Um ... no. I really don't. She lectured me. She was unhinged and unreasonable. I didn't delete her comments, but I hid them. I didn't want my friends challenging her. That would not go well.

We went a week without contact. She may be my aunt and godmother, but on some level, we are both just women and she has no right to speak to me that way. I don't speak to her that way. I don't scroll up and down her Facebook feed and dress her down.

Today she reached out to tell me how excited she is about my birthday present. She tagged me on a jokey Facebook post about grammar. 

She is telling me, in her own way, that she's sorry. I accept it. I don't need to hear the words.

I wonder how many other families Trump has divided. 

I hope that, once we have a gentleman back in the Oval Office, we will be able to disagree again without the fury of the Trump years. I think his all-caps Tweets just overheat everything.

Saturday, November 14, 2020

Sunday Stealing

Something Different

This week, Meme Mistress Sykes suggests we post photos for each answer. I'm going to let Blogger's search function choose my pix. The photos/illustrations you see here are what came up first when I searched my blog for these keywords.

This was an interesting exercise. Some of these posts felt new to me! I guess I should read my own blog more often.
1. Something held together with ribbon, string, or rope.

2. Something related to travel.

3. Someplace people gather

4. Something cold/frozen

5. Something with a hole in it.

6. Something striped.
7. An animal.



From 2/6/18. But instead, here's the link to Fried's Cat Shelter. Theirs is an inspiring story, and they could use your help.
8. Something cute.

9. A food.

10. Something warm

Friday, November 13, 2020

Saturday 9

Saturday 9: All of Me (2013)

1) John Legend sings he loves his woman's "perfect imperfections." Tell us something quirky or imperfect about a loved one that you would not change. No matter what is going on in her life -- and it seems there's always a lot going on her in her life! -- my oldest friend always begins each conversation with, "Hi, Dear! What's new with you?" I swear, if her arm were just gnawed upon by a bear and she had a tourniquet on what was left, she'd still open the phone call with a perky, "Hi, Dear! What's new with you?" The incongruity is wacky, but so uniquely her.

2) John wrote this love song to his wife, Chrissy Teigen. The couple recently lost their baby after pregnancy complications. To whom did you most recently send a sympathy (or "thinking of you") card or message? My art director has been diagnosed with cancer. I sent her a card letting her know she can lean on me.
3) While adventurous in his creative career choices, John admits his taste in food leans toward the tried and true. His favorites are chicken (rotisserie or fried), macaroni and cheese, and steamed vegetables. What's on your weekend menu? I don't know, specifically, but I'm in a carnivorous mood. Beef would be good.
4) When he was growing up, John's mother, Phyllis, helped support the family as a seamstress. Are you any good with a needle and thread? I can hem and mend, but that's it.

5) As a child, he was such a big fan of Andy Griffith and Matlock that he wanted to be a lawyer. If you grew up to have the same occupation as the TV character you liked best as a kid, what would you be doing? I'd be an underemployed actress who has many adventures, impossibly thick eyelashes and a fabulous wardrobe.    

6) John is a judge on The Voice. Do you watch that show? Or America's Got Talent, or American Idol? I watch Idol on occasion. The Voice has too many rules about teams and steals and I get confused and bored.
7) In 2013, the year this song was popular, twin baby pandas were born at Zoo Atlanta. Their panda parents had been given to the US as a gift from the Chinese, with the understanding that any offspring would be given to China. So, in 2016, the panda cubs were flown to a Chinese conservation center. They had a hard time adjusting at first, confused by jet lag, unresponsive when spoken to in Chinese, unimpressed by their new diet. Have you ever found yourself similarly overwhelmed when you traveled far from home? (BTW, the pandas are doing just fine now in their permanent Chinese home.) I remember having a terrible time adjusting when I got home from my one and only trip to Europe. All I wanted to do was sleep, and sleep some more.

8) Also in 2013, The Pope posted his first tweet. What social media platforms do you regularly use? Facebook and Twitter.

9) Random question: Have you ever a) written something on a public wall or b) carved anything into a tree of bench? What  is the statute of limitations?


HE offered to cover for ME

Because of the spike in covid cases, we may be on our way to another shutdown. And it's supposed to rain all weekend. Those two factors combined made me really want to get to the vet's office this afternoon. Both Reynaldo and Connie are on prescription cat food and I want to fill my larder but I don't want to haul the cans across town in the rain.

I sent an email to my teammates, saying I was knocking off at 4:00 and I was honest about why. My new boss answered almost instantly: "Of course! This is important. Let me know if there's anything you need me to block and tackle so you can take the time."

For. My. Cats.

My boss was willing to take over my projects this afternoon so I could pick up kibble. He's been my boss for about two months now, and he's been terrific. Last week, when I was off on vacation, he actually told me to stop monitoring my emails. He kicked off this week by telling me how well I handled a presentation.

My head is spinning.

My old boss never covered for me. He wasn't involved enough in what I did and wasn't interested in learning. That meant I often had to answer emails and handle calls from my vacation. I always knew it wasn't fair, but I'd gotten used to it. It did always bug me, however, that my boss expected me to cover for him, which often meant I'd be doing jobs (his and mine) for a week at a time.

That was then. This is now. My new boss is supportive. My new boss is kind. My new boss appreciates that there are things I am uniquely qualified to contribute.

I'm delighted and relieved.

This fellow deserves some credit, too. Since I live my life on Zoom, all my coworkers have gotten to know Reynaldo. He's often in my lap as I work. The mic has caught him yowling on occasion. My first meeting with my new boss, I wasn't aware Reynaldo was photobombing from the counter behind me. I used to apologize for his furry intrusions, but was told by no less than the VP in charge of market research that I "should never apologize for Reynaldo!" He's a member of the team.

Thursday, November 12, 2020

It feels like they're always circling

Cancer and the coronavirus remind me of the Jimmy Buffett song "Fins." They're circling, honey. They're schooling around.

My art director has cancer. There's a 2x2 cm mass in her breast, making it Stage 2A. It's growing quickly, but hasn't spread to her lymph nodes. I am heartened by her oncologist's interest in preserving as much of her breast as possible. That's preferable to frantic concern about saving her life, isn't it? Plus, we have very good insurance through our employer, so she's being treated in a hospital with a national reputation for cancer care. She is otherwise healthy, has the enthusiastic support of her lover, and there's no reason not to believe that, after chemotherapy and a lumpectomy, she won't be OK. 

But still, it's disturbing. In the last decade, my friends Ed, Barb and Kathleen have all battled cancer. As have Ed's daughter and Barb's husband. (He died from it.) So I'm afraid of cancer. 

Illinois is experiencing a spike in corona virus cases. So far this month -- and it's only the 12th -- my immediate community has 43 reported cases. That's more than 3 cases a day. Right here. Not in all of Chicago or all of Illinois. Just here in my neighborhood. My local library just emailed me that they are closed until 11/19 because an employee tested positive. So I'm afraid of covid.

I'm still going to Key West for Christmas because, frankly, I'm more worried about the asswipes who flout the mask mandate at my neighborhood Target than I am flying. I was impressed last month when I went through both ORD and GRR. Travelers complied with masks and distancing, maybe because if they didn't they couldn't fly. I'm not interested in what's in my fellow man's heart, though. I just want to stay safe.

I spoke to Henry about this yesterday. I told him that this year, our holiday celebration would be different. I am NOT going to Christmas Eve service with him. I am not going indoors with a group of people who will be singing hymns.* I am not eating in restaurants with him and his friends. I asked him instead to explore outdoor, open spaces -- like parks, beaches and piers -- where we can eat lunch every day. I told him I envision spending a few hours every day picnicing, and that's it. No more spending days into evening together, dining and drinking and behaving like tourists. The important thing is that we spend a few hours a day together in safety. Because  of his brain injury, I'll remind him of it again before my trip.

I am trying to maintain my perspective. Most people in Key West, just as most people here, do not have covid. On the other hand, no one plans on contracting this disease. So I insist on being careful.

Fins to the left, fins to the right.

*My church still isn't meeting live, so I can worship with my own congregation from my phone.


Monday, November 09, 2020

Atta girl!

This morning I did another Zoom presentation. Since March, I've done a gazillion of them. I'm always a little nervous beforehand -- stage fright? -- but once I start I get into the groove. I know my clients like me and therefore want to like the work. I have long felt my presentations are my strength.

My former boss -- who retired in April -- never commented on this, though. In fact, during the 10+ years we worked together, I can't recall him singling me out for praise or thanking me

He may have felt competitive with me. And I may have become like the slowly boiled frog. Because I never received encouragement or praise, I stopped expecting it. I also began questioning whether meetings and projects had really gone well. I've become quite the worrier since the pandemic. At least, when we all met in person, there was always the apres meeting moment when everyone is collecting their coffee cups and pencils and phones on the way out of the conference room compares notes. That's when I used to get the confirmation from my coworkers that was never forthcoming from my boss. But during the days of coronavirus, when the meeting ends everyone just hangs up and we're each isolated and alone in our homes. 

ANYWAY, guess what showed up in my email this morning, moments after the meeting ended ...

Subject line: Great job today!

Gal, I thought you presented so incredibly well. I am really impressed by your confident but friendly style. I took notes.

Obviously, I have a new boss!
I was so happy when I received that message, I wanted to rub up against his leg like a kitten.


Sunday, November 08, 2020

It's a new day

There were many spontaneous celebrations Saturday, wonderful release valves for the relief and joy of the election outcome. Here's my favorite photo (courtesy of the Sun Times). It's on the Wabash Bridge, just past Trump Tower. Last Tuesday we did more than vote out a divisive bully. We voted in the first female VP of color.

Joe Biden is already working his magic. We're already healing. The world feels safer and brighter.

Sunday Stealing


1. What’s something no one wants to hear but everyone should? To be told you're wrong. Everyone is occasionally, but no one enjoys hearing it.

2. What’s the most annoying animal you’ve ever encountered? Henry and Reg's late dog, Nikko. Geez! That collie mix really was obnoxious. Every time you entered or re-entered the room (even if you had just gone to the bathroom), he'd bark and jump on you. He also humped the other family dog all the time. I know it wasn't Nikko's fault -- Reg and Henry should have disciplined him -- but he was unpleasant to be around.

3. How much does language affect our thinking? I'm not sure I understand the question. Do you mean "language," as in word choice? Or "language," as in Spanish vs. French? I suppose my questions about this question illustrate something, but I'm afraid I'm not clever enough this morning to come to any profound conclusion.

4. Do you prefer to watch movies in the theater or in the comfort of your home? I dearly miss going to the movies! I hope that, when the pandemic is over, my local movie theater has survived.

5. What topic could you spend hours talking about? The mid-20th century. I really think we experienced a Renaissance from the mid-1950s to the mid-1970s.

6. If you could run away from it all and start fresh somewhere new, would you? Good question! I admit I fantasize about it a bit whenever a "witness protection" scenario presents itself in a movie. I wonder how I'd fare with a completely clean slate. Have I gotten wiser? Or would I just make similar mistakes in a new setting?

7. What’s the most polarizing question you could ask a group of friends? Anything related to religion. People who believe tend to
proselytize, which is tiresome, and people who don't can sound smug, which is annoying.

8. Do movies have the same power as books to change the world? I think movies are more powerful because they are easier. This answer makes me a little sad.

9. What would you rate 10/10? Cherry Coke. It's my official beverage of the pandemic. I went decades drinking nothing but Coke -- except at the office, where Pepsi was free and, therefore, more delicious -- but now I like Cherry Coke. Go figure.
10. What are you really good at, but kind of embarrassed that you are good at it? I am good with dogs and cats. Being unmarried and childless, I know that plays into the dotty cat lady stereotype, so sometimes I keep it to myself. And then there's my knowledge of the electoral process. Some of my coworkers were surprised last week when I told them which local official's website to ping if they wanted to confirm their vote-by-mail ballot had been received and processed. I thought knowing this was just part of being a responsible voter, but apparently having the information on the tip of my tongue makes me a nerd of a high order.

11. Who do you go out of your way to be nice to? The homeless, and people struggling with the door at my local Chase Bank branch. (Of the two doors, only the one on the left works. After swiping their ATM card for access, I've seen many become frustrated and stymied when they hear the click, pull on the door on the right, and remain locked out.)

12. What problems will technology solve in the next 5 years? What problems will it create? Oh, hell, this is way beyond my paygrade.

13. What from the present will withstand the test of time? Indoor grills. They make healthier eating so much easier for the culinary challenged among us. (Like me.)
14. What movie would be greatly improved if it was made into a musical? Rebel without a Cause. I don't know how a musical version would work, but it's one of those classics that I simply cannot stand. Maybe I would like it better if the kids broke into song, like in West Side Story or Grease.

15. What is something common from your childhood that will seem strange to future generations?


Saturday, November 07, 2020

Now let's move toward that more perfect union


Thank you, Kwizgiver


On the peaceful transfer of power

Last Tuesday, we elected our next President. As of now (6:00 PM on Saturday) our current President shows no signs of conceding.

Donald Trump doesn't have to, of course. Joe Biden will become President at noon on January 20 whether or not Mr. Trump does the right thing.

It's just that in this country, the peaceful transfer of power is a proud tradition. None of these modern presidencies ended joyfully or well. And yet, every one of the men and women shown displayed grace and dignity for the sake of the nation. Let's just hope Donald and Melania Trump have it in them.