Archive for December, 2010


from this to that, by Eamon Grennan

I get goose bumps every single time I read this. The imagery, both through the word-painting (flap-flee, blackwhitewhiteblack) and the descriptions (the lime-green toupees of weed the near rocks wear, the surprised cormorant) is absolutely stunning.

From This to That

Stepping overboard from the dream-laden vessel of sleep–
its cargo of foreign tongues, sunsplit stones of Italy, one
colored bundle of kindlewood, and the music of God knows who
played on the French horn by the poet’s only daughter–

you walk awhile by the actual tide-line, the ocean drawn back
to expose sea rocks colonized by purple-painted tribes
of young mussels, where three oystercatchers grown hysterical
at the frightful sight of you leave their lethal business

among the molluscs and flap-flee over the waves in baffling
blackwhitewhiteblack Escher flashes. You attend, then,
to the lime-green toupees of weed the near rocks wear, take in
the shoreline glint of scabious and coltsfoot, the quick ignitions

of a few leftover leaves of pink thrift, see one short-masted
black trawler riding the waves, and spot the head
and periscoped neck of a cormorant as it vanishes
between breaths, reappears, and looks about as if surprised

to find the world as is–sky, sea, the rugged bulk of Mweelrea
keeping one from the other–as you yourself look about, minding
the seabird’s amphibian gift to live underwater and in air,
to stand on its isolate perch in the wingspread very image

of a black phoenix rising. So stumble on to true wakefulness,
all dreams dissipated, and stop silenced on a seal-smooth rock
half-buried in sand, knowing nothing but the burden of
what you’ve seen, weighing the simple specific gravity of it,

the jag-line heading from this to that, before you turn for home.


don’t use that tone with me young man!

Apparently there’s a new feature available for certain email software programs called ToneCheck. This works much like spell-check, except rather than correcting your misspelling of “recommend” and overlooking the fact that you wrote “you’re” when you meant to write “your,” ToneCheck highlights content which exceeds some kind of preset filter for negative (or exceedingly positive) emotions such as anger, sadness, resentment, elation, etc.

ToneCheck was released as a plug-in with Microsoft Outlook in July, and will “allow for personal variations in tone, gauge a sentence’s level of emotional ambiguity and offer suggestions for revision.” Click here if you want to see it in action.

I can’t decide if this is really terrific, or laughingly absurd. We’ve all sent an email we’ve almost immediately wished we could unsend (the only thing I miss about AOL), we’ve all cringed at our own words when they come back to us at the bottom of a reply, many of us have probably adopted the if-I-write-it-when-I’m-upsetangrybitterlydisappointedresentfulstarkravingmad-I’ll-wait-for-24-hours-before-sending-it policy. But can we really expect a software program to be able to recognize the subtleties and intricacies of adult communication?

I guess the assistance of an objective “third party” giving us a virtual nudge and asking “are you sure you want to say it that way?” wouldn’t be a bad thing. I could always choose to ignore it. Maybe someone should develop a real-life version, something along the size of a digital recorder, which we can speak into for feedback before saying what we REALLY think at the next office meeting.


Let’s take that Christmas spirit on the road

As in, extend that spirit of generosity, patience, and consideration to:


people waiting for 11 minutes to make a left turn

people waiting for a parking space (that goes both ways — i.e. don’t run 3 people down to get into the finally-found open parking space, and don’t take 17 minutes to arrange all of your packages in your trunk while 3 cars vie for position and wait with their blinkers blink blink blinking)

the 3 people waiting to get into the grocery aisle that you are blocking as you catch up on your family’s goings-on over the past 11 months with a long-lost friend

postmen and UPS people who are working 12 hour days to get everything delivered

etc. . . .


In a not-entirely unrelated story — if your car is too big for you to maneuver it into a normal-sized parking space within 5 attempts you should DRIVE A SMALLER CAR. Or maybe just don’t drive.




now isn’t that ironic?

The “confidential” report of Julian Assange’s alleged sexual assault of two Swedish woman has been leaked to the press.

I find this to be very amusing.

Maybe it’s just me.

Also ironic is the fact that I couldn’t get the very funny ad at the beginning of this video to play again so my husband could see it.


what we all wish we’d known

from I Feel Bad About My Neck, by Nora Ephron; (with omissions, with which I do not agree)

People have only one way to be.

Buy, don’t rent.

Never marry a man you wouldn’t want to be divorced from.

Don’t buy anything that is 100 percent wool even if it seems to be very soft and not particularly itchy when you try it on in the store.

You can’t be friends with people who call after 11 p.m.

The world’s greatest babysitter burns out after two and a half years.

You never know.

The last four years of psychoanalysis are a waste of money. (HA!!!)

The plane is not going to crash.

Anything you think is wrong with your body at the age of thirty-five you will be nostalgic for at the age of forty-five.

Write everything down.

The empty nest is underrated.

You can order more than one dessert.

You can’t own too many black turtleneck sweaters (or too many black sweaters of any type).

If the shoe doesn’t fit in the shoe store, it’s never going to fit.

When you’re children are teenagers it’s important to have a dog (or a husband who loves you) so that someone in the house is happy to see you.

Back up your files.

Overinsure everything.

Whenever someone says the words “Our friendship is more important than this,” watch out, because it almost never is.

The minute you decide to get divorced, go see a lawyer and file the peprs.


Never let them know.

If only one third of your clothes are mistakes, you’re ahead of the game.

There are no secrets.



Elizabeth Edwards (1949-2010)

“We feel a lot of affection for public people and project our fantasies of something like perfection on them. . .and it turns out they’re not only imperfect, they can be deeply disappointing.”


I mean, it’s not like this surprises me or anything, but seriously? It’s no wonder we have such a hard time dealing with all of our political and civic problems; we’re still waiting for someone Perfect to come along and fix everything!

Elizabeth Edwards was a smart, capable, strong woman who loved her children and her family, someone who apparently thought it was more important to stay married to a man she obviously cared about, and to stay focused on the objectives upon which their lives and their marriage was built, than to avoid “betraying her following.”

What following is that, that she would have so woefully betrayed? The one who idealized her? Who thought it was appropriate to advise her to “focus on her children” or for her and John to “take care of each other”? How condescending! How about those who found her to be “domineering, aggressive and opinionated,” but still worthy of their admiration? Do any of these feel they are worthy of her consideration?

How dare these people, who know virtually nothing of this woman, her personal pains and joys and triumphs, the intricacies and cohesion of her marriage, feel they have a right to judge or criticize? Even the tone of the article, written in apparent tribute, condescends, with its referrals to her substantial hips and frumpiness, to this “hearty woman of substance.”


Can this article not be written without buying in/selling out to the culture of lookism and female-body-criticism-masked-as-praise we are so saddled with everywhere we look? Does the size of her hips have anything to do with the contribution she may have tried to make to better this country? Are we supposed to imagine John to be that much more noble because he stood by her, despite her frumpiness and the fact that she had the nerve to get cancer, twice?

“We all have very firm opinions about marriage. . .What it consists of, how far it stretches, what kind of deal it entails, and a woman whose husband humiliates her publicly just invites us to dilate on the subject, for our own sakes.”. (Stacy Schiff)

John didn’t humiliate Elizabeth publicly. John betrayed her, yes. But he didn’t broadcast it around the world — others did that. Why do the American people of the 21st century take it so personally when a public figure has an affair? What can we POSSIBLY know of their lives, their marriage, their choices, their struggles? What can it possibly have to do with us?

Jan Hoffman, the writer of the article, redeems him/her self a bit with the final paragraph, although the gist of it comes from Elizabeth herself:

“With her messy, tarnished life, Mrs. Edwards could never become the idealized role model that supporters from so many corners needed her to be. But did that mean she failed them?. . . Fallible, three-dimensional. On the day before she died, she wrote on Facebook: ‘There are certainly times when we aren’t able to muster as much strength and patience as we would like. It’s called being human.'”


which boy?

I sat, once, at the top of some back-stage steps

and listened to a twenty-year-old

(with a shy smile and red hair)

practice one of the Bach Suites for violin;

my back against one door jamb,

my feet against the other.


He commented once, after rehearsal,

on how clean my counters were,

and shyly ate four pieces of my banana bread.

The next day I listened to Jeff Buckley sing

“Lover, You Should Have Come Over”

twelve times in a row

and wondered about what I was too old for,

what I was too young for,

if it was, in fact, too late.


Today as I carried the screens to the basement

and checked the litter box I caught a

glimpse of Second Son sitting on his unmade

bed strumming the chords to some unknown

but recognizable tune;

and his features were blurred,

his hair over his eyes,

and he could have been any young man,

every young man.


I caught myself staring at his picture just earlier today

laughing toddler eyes and sailor hat

tiny little teeth

unsullied joy.


I can’t help but wonder now if the things

we can’t let go of are the things which kill us

slowly slowly bit by bit

and if the things that really matter always

have to be the things we lose.


Jeff Buckley; Lover, You Should Have Come Over


today’s headlines

World |  U.S. |  Politics |  Business |  Technology |  Sports |  Arts |  New York/Region |  Science |  Editorials |  Op-Ed |  On This Day


Judge Voids Key Element of Obama Health Care Law
A provision requiring most Americans to obtain health insurance starting in 2014, which has survived two prior court challenges, was found unconstitutional.

Lying Ahead for the Health Law, Years of Constitutional Wrangling
Just One Ruling, but an Outsize One
Law Will Proceed, Administration Says

Document Reader: The Judge’s Ruling
Room for Debate: A Fatal Blow to Obama’s Law?

Strong American Voice in Diplomacy and Crisis
Mr. Holbrooke made a career that started with Vietnam, had a highlight with Bosnia and ended in Afghanistan and Pakistan.

Slide Show: A Career in Diplomacy
Times Topics: Richard C. Holbrooke
Killings of Afghan Relief Workers Stir Strategy Debate
Aid groups wonder if the American military strategy in Afghanistan is putting their workers at risk.

• Home Page »
“Even as the government cedes control over large parts of the economy, its graft-ridden approach to privatization could leave long-lasting scars that hold India back from reaching its potential.”
ESWAR S. PRASAD, a professor of trade policy at Cornell University and an adviser to India’s Finance Ministry.

Stage scenes: Lily Rabe
Jennifer Jason Leigh enters “House of Blue Leaves”
Holiday gift guide: Theater books


INTERACTIVE FEATURE: The Growing Legal and Political Opposition
On Dec. 13, 2010, a federal judge in Richmond., Va., ruled that a key provision in the Obama health care law, which requires that most Americans obtain health insurance, is unconstitutional.


The Human Incubator
The success of “kangaroo care” for premature infants has shown that simple solutions are sometimes best.


Police Say Early Detonation of Bomb Averted Disaster in Sweden
The attack could have been devastating, said Swedish police, who also confirmed the bomber’s identity.

The Lede: Audio of Threat Sent Before Bombing
Swedish Bombing Suspect’s Drift to Extremism
Taimour Abdulwahab al-Abdaly was described as a friendly man who sought an audience for extremist views.

Telecom Scandal Plunges India Into Political Crisis
Allegations of bribery, abuse of power and privatization of public wealth have sent the Congress Party into a tailspin.

• More World News »

From the Delta to Winter’s Deep Blues
A graduate student and her sister are bracing for the onslaught of cold that will keep Creede, Colo., in a long embrace.

Court Chooses Guardians for Orphaned Arguments
About once a year, the Supreme Court appoints a lawyer to defend decisions the parties have abandoned.

Execution 150 Years Ago Spurs Calls for Pardon
Thirty-eight men were hanged, but President Lincoln had spared one, and now an effort is taking root on campuses and Capitol Hill to keep the story alive.

• More U.S. News »

Years of Wrangling Lie Ahead for Health Law
A federal court ruling against the Obama health care law highlighted both the novelty of the constitutional issues and the difficulty of forging consensus among judges.

Judge Voids Key Element of Obama Health Care Law
News Analysis: Just One Ruling, but an Outsize One
Law Will Proceed, Administration Says
Interactive Timeline: The Health Care Law
Embattled G.O.P. Chief Is Seeking a Second Term
Shrugging off criticism, the Republican National Committee chairman Michael Steele vowed to seek re-election.

Post a Comment
Tax-Cut Package Passes Crucial Test
The Senate advanced the tax-cut package negotiated by President Obama and Congressional Republicans, increasing pressure on House Democrats to set aside their opposition.

Manufacturers Say Obama Tax Cuts Will Spur Hiring
The Vote | Post a Comment
• More Political News »

Speculators Are Eager to Bet on Madoff Claims
Lawsuits filed by the trustee seeking money for Bernard L. Madoff’s victims are catnip for a breed of traders speculating on the bankruptcy case’s outcome.

Madoff Won’t Be Attending His Son’s Funeral
Post a Comment
Tax Breaks Bring Hope for Hiring
The cuts in the Obama administration’s plan that are intended for businesses may prompt manufacturers to spend on hiring and capital improvements.

Tax-Cut Package Passes Crucial Test
Fed’s Contrarian Has a Wary Eye on the Past
Thomas M. Hoenig fears that the Fed’s efforts to move the recovery along quickly will create the conditions for repeating past mistakes, like spurring inflation.

• More Business News »

Piracy Fight Shuts Down Music Blogs
Popular music blogs shut down by the government in a Thanksgiving weekend crackdown on online piracy often operate with the tacit aid and approval of major labels.

Panel Set to Study Safety of Electronic Patient Data
A panel created by the Institute of Medicine to study patient safety and health information technology will meet for the first time on Tuesday.

Billionaire Backs a Gas-Electric Hybrid Car to Be Built in Russia
Mikhail D. Prokhorov, the Russian billionaire who bought the New Jersey Nets basketball team, introduced another pet project Monday: a Russian-designed hybrid electric car.

• More Technology News »

Lee Accepts Late Bid by Phillies
Cliff Lee, the biggest name on the free-agent market this off-season, agreed Monday night to return to Philadelphia.

Darek Braunecker, Agent for Cliff Lee, Is Getting Noticed
Finally on a Field, the Giants Get the Job Done
The Giants (9-4) found a way to navigate a unique situation in Detroit, beating a Favre-less Vikings.

Photo Replay: Giants vs. Vikings
Favre’s Consecutive-Start Streak Ends | Photos: Brett Favre |  Comment
No Favre, but Plenty of Fans in Detroit
With Deflated Dome, Vikings Still Need a Home |  Video of Collapse
Contrite Jets Suspend Coach After Sideline Trip of Dolphin
The strength and conditioning coach Sal Alosi was suspended without pay and fined $25,000.

Post a Comment
The Colts’ Meaningful December | An Apology for Asking for Vick’s Autograph
• More Sports News »

When Overlooked Art Turns Celebrity
The excitement surrounding artworks discovered to be by masters raises a fundamental question: Why do we want these works to turn out to made by great artists, since the art is the same either way?

Interactive Feature
Mickey Moves to Another Screen
Disney Epic Mickey, the new video game from Disney, is a lot more fun to watch than to play.

McCartney Plays the Apollo, His ‘Holy Grail’
Paul McCartney played the Apollo Theater on Monday night, and was demonstrably proud to do so.

• More Arts News »

New No. 2 at City Schools Believes in More Testing
Shael Polakow-Suransky, who will become the No. 2 official at New York City schools, has gone from idealistic teacher to a data-mining administrator.

After Months in Limbo, Paterson Aide Charged in Abuse Case Is Fired
David W. Johnson was suspended on Feb. 25 after a report that he had assaulted his former companion, Sherr-una Booker, in a case that wracked Gov. David A. Paterson’s administration this year.

A Hole in Old Routines After OTB Parlors’ Last Day
As bettors collected their winnings, regulars mourned the loss of a favorite hangout in one of the last New York City OTB parlors to close.

• More New York / Region News »

Musk Oxen Live to Tell a Survivors’ Tale
Scientists are seeking to understand how the musk ox has managed to persist through repeated climate shifts and habitat upheavals.

More Basics Columns »
Real Evidence for Diets That Are Just Imaginary
When people imagined themselves eating M & M’s or pieces of cheese, they became less likely to gorge themselves on the real thing, research shows.

More Findings Columns »
In a Single-Cell Predator, Clues to the Animal Kingdom’s Birth
Recent studies suggest that choanoflagellates are among the closest living single-celled relatives of animals.

More Remarkable Creatures Columns »
• More Science News »

College, Jobs and Inequality
A college education does correlate with higher pay and better job prospects, but it isn’t a cure-all for joblessness and income inequality.

The Latest Health Care Decision
A federal judge declared a provision of the health care law unconstitutional. Yet there is still hope for reform because his decision limits the scope of the ruling.

Congress and the Court
A Supreme Court case raises questions about how Congress and the court should interact in giving meaning to statutes.

Sweden’s Near Miss
After a would-be terrorist detonated a car bomb in Stockholm, Sweden’s prime minister rightly declared that the country’s open society is worth defending.

• More Opinion »

Ben Franklin’s Nation
America should focus less on losing its star status and more on defending and preserving the gospel of middle-class dignity.

Columnist Page
U.S. Illusions in Lebanon
The West’s optimism has been undercut by a resurgent Hezbollah and the reality that a U.N. tribunal’s verdict on a prime minister’s murder will come too late.

Columnist Page
Adding Fairness to the Tip
How to settle wage disputes between restaurants and waiters.

What Ike Got Right
Why his warning against the military-industrial complex still matters.

• More Opinion »
On Dec. 14, 1981, Israel annexed the Golan Heights, seized from Syria in 1967.
• See This Front Page
• Buy This Front Page
About This E-Mail

I’m looking for something to write about, and it’s all bad news; well, except for the discovery of a better way to care for preemies, the Giants (!), and Paul McCartney’s pride. I guess I should also take comfort in the finding that “imagining” myself eating M&Ms, or cheese, makes it less likely that I will gorge on M&Ms, or cheese. Oh, and Epic Mickey (I’m not making this up) is apparently “more fun to play.” More fun to play than ???




ommmm. . .

My husband bought this “Zen” alarm clock for me for my birthday:

It’s a beautiful clock — the bamboo matches our newly-installed floors, and the alarm is a gentle chime that wakes you gradually so that you’re not wrested, writhing and resentful, from your deep and restful sleep.

The way this works is that the hammer strikes the bell first ~ 10 minutes before the time for which your alarm has been set. Around 3 minutes later it chimes again, and then continues, at increasing intervals according to a reversal of  the Golden Mean (also known as the Fibonacci Series, constructed by adding the previous 2 numbers in the series 1 1 2 3 5 8 13 21 etc.).

It actually works quite well. My concern at first was that the lack of insistence would make it unlikely that it would wake me at all. In fact, the first chime arouses me enough to realize that I will have to be getting up soon, and I adjust my dreams, and my expectations, accordingly. Yesterday morning I actually dreamt that the chimes continued, and that I had gotten up and turned the alarm off before the clock had actually chimed a second time. At that point I thought, well, as long as I’m awake. . . This morning it chimed once, I smiled and rolled over and hugged my pillow and then realized that I needed to use the “lav,” and got up before the second chime. My husband was curious, though, so I left the clock on so he could listen to it increase in frequency.

We then devised a series of “instructions,” as the clock would deliver if it could speak:

Chime 1: Good morning!

Chime 2: It’s going to be a beautiful day!

Chime 3: You might want to start thinking about getting up soon.

Chime 4: Hello? Is there anybody in there?

Chime 5: You know, you’re not doing anybody any favors just lying there like a lump.

Chime 6: If you don’t get your lazy a$& out of bed things are going to get really unpleasant.

Chime 7: ding   ding   ding  ding dingdingdingdingdingdingdngdngdng

We’ll see if I ever make it that far.


Merry Christmas!


cause, or effect?

What if all the stuff we put on our faces to cover imperfections — blemishes, blotches, etc. actually CAUSE these imperfections? Eye cream, face lotion, spot corrector, toner, (youth) serum, night cream, blemish concealer, under-eye concealer, foundation, face powder. Is all this stuff really necessary?

Here’s a picture of what I use on a daily basis.

I wonder how our skin would look if we all took a holiday from it all and just washed and moisturized. Of course it would have to be a long enough holiday for our skin to recover from years of “abuse” to find it’s true nature, and maybe none of us would have the stomach for it. I have noticed that if I go out into the world without makeup people tell me I look tired, but is that really so awful? I imagine I could look worse than “tired.”

Look at it this way — if I “had” to spend less time on “routine maintenance” I could probably sleep an extra half-hour every morning AND have time for a regular yoga practice. That could potentially solve the look-tired problem as well as helping me be in better shape physically; both could feasibly improve my overall appearance.

Then there’s all the money I could save!

Something to think about.


the same thing, over and over and over again

from “The Lacuna,” by Barbara Kingsolver

The, I assume, fictional, lead character is a young man, Harrison Shepherd, half Mexican, half Caucasian, who worked in the household of the artists Diego Rivera and Frida Kahlo when Trotsky lived with them, in hiding from Stalin. Harrison writes, in 1946, from South Carolina, to Diego, reporting on the nature of politics in the U.S.:

“So that is the report you asked for, not entirely good. Our newsmen mostly reviled the ‘worker’s rebellion.’ Politics here now resemble a pillow fight. Lacking the unifying slogan (Win the War), our opposing parties sling absurd pronouncements back and forth, which everyone pretends carry real weight. How the feathers fly. The newsmen leap on anything, though it’s all on the order of, ‘Four out of five shoppers know this is the better dill pickle,’ assertions that can’t be proven but sway opinion. ‘Dance for the crowd’ is the new order, with newsmen leading the politicians like bears on the leash. Real convictions would be a hindrance. The radio is at the root of the evil, their rule is: No silence, ever. When anything happens, the commentator has to speak without a moment’s pause for gathering wisdom. Falsehood and inanity are preferable to silence. You can’t imagine the effect of this. The talkers are rising above the thinkers.”

Hmmm. . .sounds familiar. . .


tick tock tick tock

When we’re children time seems endless — the day of school that won’t end, the 3-hour car trip that seems to take the entire day, the long long Sunday when we’re bored bored bored.

In our teens we “kill” time, like it’s the enemy.

When we’re in our 20s we spend it like it’s the spare change we find amid the lint in our pockets.

(I barely remember my 30s — I know, objectively, that “they” were ten years long, but it’s all just a blur, but “time” didn’t really seem to be something I thought about. . .yet. Haven’t quite tipped the scales, so to speak, since we figure we’ll live to at least 80, and we have more years left than we’ve lived.)

In our 40s we realize how little of it there really is, how fast it goes, and how it’s the one commodity we can’t borrow or negotiate.

In Thomas Mann’s The Magic Mountain the character Settembrini notes how, at a certain point in our lives, we look back, and past events seem chronologically both recent and distant, and speculates that this apparent dichotomy indicates a life well lived.

I try to let that be some kind of comfort to me as the years zip by.

There can’t possibly be enough time to read all the books I want to read and see all the movies I want to see and eat all the fantastic meals I want to eat and meet all the friends I want to meet.  I almost always wonder, when I’m doing something, if I “should” be doing something else.

Maybe I should have emotionally embraced my recent week-long bout of insomnia as a chance to “waste” less time sleeping.


21st century quality

This is a Dobie pad, some might know it is a Chore Boy (stupid name, that):

This Dobie pad is 2 weeks old.

I used to buy a Dobie pad and use it for months; only throwing it out when it started to smell so bad even microwaving it didn’t help.

So yes, they’re still cheap, but you buy 30 of them a year instead of 3. So not cheaper, actually much more expensive, cumulatively speaking.

Same goes for laundry machines, refrigerators, dishwashers, clothes, shoes, etc., all poorly manufactured in the name of being either “cheap” or “energy efficient.” I have a washing machine in my basement that, when running, sounds like giant chains being pulled across the prow of a ship, but I don’t dare replace it because it will probably continue to work for longer than any new one I would buy.

Is anyone calculating into these equations the cost of all of this broken crap in our landfills and wasted resources used manufacturing stuff that doesn’t last?

Just curious.


what makes us happy?

Can your spouse “make” you happy? Would a new job? New house? Car that gets better gas mileage? More respectful children? That vacation to Florence you’ve been postponing? Health? More money?

Contrary to popular opinion, none of those things will “make” you happy. Happiness is neither the result of physical nor emotional circumstance, but a state of mind.

If you don’t believe me, here’s the scientific explanation.

Reader Appreciation Award

Share This

Share |

Enter your email address to subscribe to this blog and receive notifications of new posts by email.

Join 177 other followers

Follow me on Twitter: sheriji1

Blog Stats

  • 114,783 hits