The Weather has been clear most of the week. We had a couple of inches of snow Friday (while Willow was driving home in it), but it melted the next day. I’m not sure how, most of this week it has been BITCHY cold. I am so happy to have my feather beds and furs to sleep in! On the other hand, right now the thermometer out back says it’s 60º (the hi-lo thermometer in the entryway says 85º, but the warm air collects there, so we sort of ignore it. On the other hand, it does record 10º as the recent low- although one assumes that heat leaking around the front door might ameliorate that as well. It has felt cold.
The truth is that this week I did very little worth mentioning. I read a lot, streamed a LOT of news shows, “watched” movies (while coloring), did some mending I’ve been meaning to get to. I tell you there is nothing for getting stuff you’ve beem putting off done, like putting off something you want to do even less! I finally did break down and spent a great deal of time trying to get onto the Social Security website. When I put in my legal name and address, birthdate and social security number, they blocked me, saying that it didn’t match their records. I waited on hold on the phone for a person to suggest that maybe it’s because I hadn’t gotten a new card in my married name when I got married, and I should get my wedding certificate to get one now. Really? Another call got me an appointment for a interview to apply for survivors benefits, and they didn’t have any problem finding me under my married name. So I’ve started that process. I probably should have started in January before I turned 65, but I was waiting to see if I was going to get sent something. If I did, I missed it. (I’m not saying that’s unlikely.)
The picture of a fox came from the advertising flyers in the mail- I guess I’m not the only one out there coloring. I’ve now tried markers, sharpies, colored pencils and crayons. I’m beginning to feel ready to start painting again, so I guess Willow’s clever plan worked. I do have to admit that just picking a color and trying to stay inside the lines IS meditative.
I’ve also been distracted by the political situation. (Hence watching many hours of news programs each day.) I have to say that Trump has really motivated the people I am in contact with to be more active, more aware of their rights and the constitution, more involved with their senators and representatives, more careful with how they view reporting. This is a very good thing, I think.
Willow mailed off the queen sized bedspread last week, and when Tyra got it, she loved it. Also, apparently her cat remembers Willow from when she was down there. It immediately went for the box in a way it is not normal for it to do, and started meowing “Willow? Willow?” in a way they had learned to interpret one of it’s sounds. They think it smelled Willow on the fleece. (The way Willow does the meow, it does sound both like a cat and her name.) After making this HUGE blanket- which took a week, she said she’d NEVER do that again, but after ruminating on it for a week has decided to put the option up on her Etsy site. It’s a very hard thing to translate what you are willing to do for a friend, who’s willing to pay something because they like you, and you’re willing to do it because you like them, into what should it cost for a stranger when it takes X hundred dollars of materials and Xxxx hours to make, and come up with a price that isn’t wasting your time and effort. Last week was vacation week, and while she had less hours, she told Avi not to feel bad, because at least she wasn’t having to make them do their homework. She is VERY grateful for days off, and the money. She will soon be able to afford to get the replacement gas tank for her car. (since her last inspection she hasn’t been able to fill it more than half full, but Mr. LaPlante was able to find a replacement. Sadly, it’s “somewhere” in the junk yard, and he’s not quite sure where.)
This weekend the girls went down to Raye’s birthday party. She was thrilled to be able to dance- they had told her that she wouldn’t be walking at 30. I am reminded of Megan who was told she wouldn’t live until 30, and is still going strong! She and Joannie are great friends! I stayed home, read and watched political stuff and wrote an essay I posted on my website (I guess that’s what is called a blog post): Learning from History.
Sunday girls went to Curia. It wasn’t in Manchester, so the Gold Key is STILL in the back of my car, and one of these days I’ll have to just break down and drive it up there. I have no social life, and have decided that it’s my own fault because the house is messy. If it weren’t I could invite people in.
The “major excitement” of my week was when, on Monday, the Ciardelli man came and cleaned the furnace. He has no idea what might cause the intermittant failure of hot water. It’s pointless to keep looking when they’ve checked everything. I think that’s the same as the problem in the car. They’re pretty sure it’s a wiring problem that causes the readouts on the dashboard to go dead (and often come back on when you thump the dashboard), but trying to track it down could take hours, and might still never find it. I can deal with it by making sure I never get too low on the gas (so don’t need to see that), and drive whatever people around me are driving to live without the spedometer. I do wonder if when it comes back on it will have missed the miles we’ve driven while it was not powered up. Who knows?
I went down to the town offices and got the car and trailer registered and paid the property taxes (most of them, the furnace repair ate up a lot of what I’d been saving toward it). Sadly, I forgot to turn off the lights (the old car did that automatically and I got complascent), and when I headed out for my acupuncture appointment the battery was dead. Willow got me jumped, but I had to reschedule. I really had expected faster improvement. At this point I’m wondering if my face is actually more mobile, or if the muscles in my face are just contracting. I guess we’ll know in another six months. I have to admith that I’m discouraged.
This week I cut my “bangs” or “forelocks” again. I feel more “like me” when I’ve got them, but worry when I’m doing a lot of events that we have no documentation for people wearing that style in my period. Oh, well. The simple fact is that when someone with fairly curly hair cuts it short, it curls up, and that’s what naturally happens to mine when I cut it. Luckily, I like the way it looks. I fear my poor hair was greatly damaged while I was sick last fall, but it seems to have stopped falling out or breaking off. At least my brush is no longer quite full every day. (Perhaps because there’s so much less left.) But after Honour’s hair was weaked that time that the VA gave her the wrong drug, we were able to watch as it filled in again, so I am hopeful. In theory the newest two or three inches is since then. At least the color didn’t change noticably. Oh, how vain I am!
One thing I’ve noticed as I read and watch more news is that I’m being exposed to more “other” news as well. I am so cross about the Rhino killed in the Paris Zoo. I really hope that not only do they catch the killers and throw the book at them, that they find the buyers of the rhino horn. They say it’s worth about €40,000. (or $300,000 according to a two year old article in the Atlantic). Yes, it’s used in eastern medicine and people are willing to buy it. But they should be going after the people who are willing to create the demand for it. The ones who set the price, who are willing to pay that much per dose are the ones who should be locked up. My first response was “cut of THEIR “horns” and see how long the demand lasts!” usually I don’t think punishment is much of a deterrent. But we know that as long as you only arrest the prostitutes and not the johns, prostitution keeps happening. If we actually followed the trail to the rich guys who were paying for this product and punished THEM, not their gofers, then we might get somewhere.
The political posts on facebook are way down- back to cute animals, injuries, frustrations, food, trips, and funny stories. Many have mentioned actively avoiding political posts for their mental health. I totally understand that. The first political post I saw on today’s fb was making fun of the people who named the Weeping Angel program- “Nerds!” (Weeping angels are a type of monster on Doctor Who.) I suppose people who are really good at hacking are liable to be appreciators of science fiction. I was amused at the consensus that yes, they were working on a way to get some audio spying out of Samsung TVs, but gave up on it because they couldn’t figure it out. I expect they are still working on a way to do it, but who knows? I’m sticking with my theory that if they are going to be offended by something I say, they’ll have plenty already.
Oh and if you are among those protecting yourself from political aggravation, here’s your warning- if you want to skip politics, go down to after the next break.
I continue to try to figure out HOW we could have gotten ourselves into this situation. I like history, so I’m looking at the fall of the Roman Empire, the rise of the Third Reich, the French Revolution, and anything else I can think of. What makes people act like this? Some of the articles I’ve read this week have talked about the Backfire Effect, which explains why no amount of facts is going to change someone’s mind when they believe something deeply. I expect that this could be used as a diagnostic to figure out whether something is a core belief or just something you’ve accepted because it seems OK. That’s where you get situations like my father being unwilling to accept any evidence that ESP was real, and possibly explains my feeling that the people who’s tests don’t support it have probably built in their biases. My world view includes a spirit component, and it makes sense to me. I have friends who will not accept any evidence that there is climate change going on- every piece of evidence is explained away. Clearly it is important to them that climate change isn’t happening, and I’m not sure why. I saw an interview with a couple of women, “Diamond and Silk” who are apparently fameous on Youtube, who vehemently denied that Trump had ever said anything wrong. Ever. Never makes mistakes. oh really? I have to wonder why. I wonder if this a variation on Stockholm Syndrome. We’re stuck in this situation when our leader is freaking out the rest of the world, and a lot of us, and the people who voted for him have to keep telling themselves that he’s going to actually help them somehow. I feel sorry for them, but still worried. The “Obama had Trump Tower bugged” tweet is just one more indicator that Trump has no clue that he has no idea how what the job of President is. He seems to think that now that he’s president, he gets to write orders and that will change things to the way he wants it. Admittedly, those executive orders do initiate changes. Like drilling in National parks, removing environmental protections, keeping refugees out of the US so many will probably die. The Republicans are having a field day pushing through things they’ve been wanted to. We’re like those jugglers spinning plates in the air; we can’t keep track of all the things we want to! Bills have been introduced while we were all watching the circus about Sessions and others meeting with the Russians, that are fairly awful! H.R. 861: To terminate the Environmental Protection Agency, H.R. 899: To terminate the Department of Education, H.R. 370: To repeal the Affordable Care Act, H.R. 354: To defund Planned Parenthood, H.R. 785: National Right-to-Work legislation, H.R. 83: Mobilizing Against Sanctuary Cities Act, H.R. 147: To criminalize abortion.
I get that big businesses want to cripple the unions, and not have to comply with environmental protection rules, because they cost them profits. I get that people who believe that a fetus is a person consider abortions murder, but that’s a religious opinion that doesn’t justify the risks of criminalizing abortions, nor defunding the OTHER 97% of Planned Parenthood. NOTHING justifies ending the Department of Education. If the states handle it, the southern states will re-institute segregated schools. And the Affordable Care Act, while it doesn’t go far enough, is so much better than the one the Republican alternative they just rolled out. While I realize that many of their constituents were sold on the idea that they’d be better off with a Wall, a Muslim Ban, no union dues, and no “Obamacare”, what they need is an explanation of how the world works, not to have their credulity taken advantage of for the benefit of the shareholders in mega corporations. I will not wish on them the results of their ignorance, but rather that they should gradually come to understand.
Despite his claims to be “really smart”, Trump doesn’t seem to get that anything he tweets about becomes declassified. I’m sure someone will explain this to him. They’ve already done a lot of make-over. His hair is smaller, his bronzer is toned down, he managed to stay on script when he addressed Congress last week. Someone is trying to explain to him how things work- but he just doesn’t get it, so he goes on tweeting and doing horrible things.
OMG! VOICE (Victims of Immigration Crime Engagement)! This is like Hitler’s propaganda demonizing the Jews! Since statistics show that immigrants actually commit fewer crimes than others, he’s reacted this to come up with anecdotal evidence to justify the actions he wants to take. I worry about giving a mandate to the newly created immigration officers to go out and get immigrants to capture. I remember the Standford Prison Experiment, and how it displayed how “Power Corrupts”, or at least it makes it more likely that people will abuse the power given to them. For propaganda you need “victims”. I have read about how Justinian wanted to convert all the pagans in the Empire to Christianity, and he started out with the old “we have to protect the children!” concept and prohibited non-Christians from teaching. A few years later they were prohibited from being doctors, then from the military, and civil service, and the death blow was that they weren’t allowed to make pass their belongings down to their children. We’ve seen this in the progression of things the Jews were excluded from in Germany, what made forigners the bugbears in Donald Trumps nightmares? Perhaps working with them? I don’t know.
I was amused by a satire done to the the Ruddigore patter song I saw on the internet today. The artist calls himself Bald Piano Guy, and the song is Gilbert Sullivan explain Trump Lies. He has some others, also funny. (this is why following links on line can eat up time!) I really liked watching him play. He’s good!
I fear that this week I passed on a fake news story- it claimed to be NPR so I trusted it, but in the morning there were 63 corrections (and no shares) all telling me I’d passed on fake news. I took it down, but put up another post admitting what had happened and got 54 comments on the mea culpa, most of which were forgiving me for being human. So once again we see a good effect Trump is having on the country. We are so much more careful now.
This week I accidentally took the Soundtrack to La La Land out of the library and realized that it’s a musical. Cool, now I want to see it even more. Why is it that there is a general idea that people don’t like musicals and that they won’t sell? Maybe it’s that musicals are expensive to produce and need to make more than other movies. But musicals have always been popular, and every time someone makes a new movie musical, I hear a big song and dance about how risky it was, and how surprised they are that everyone loves it!
Musicals are the ultimate “feel good” theatrical. (If they don’t make you feel good, then what’s the point? That’s why I’d rather only watch certain numbers from Caberet.) Indeed this week I watched Hello Dolly again, and after that Wall E because one runs into each other. One of my favorite bits from Dolly is when she says “Money, you should pardon the expression, is like Manure, it’s not worth a thing unless you spread it around encouraging little things to grow.” Dolly understands. George Bailey (It’s a Wonderful Life) understood, when he was dealing with the run on the bank, the money doesn’t represent bullion horded in Fort Knox – although it did then, at least for banks- it’s in your neighbors homes and businesses. We understand that, why doesn’t Trump?
I’ve been reading American nations : a history of the eleven rival regional cultures of North America (a chapter a day) I am struck by how much of what we’re taught about our forebears is so much mythology! We get the story of Pocahontas, and even before Disney turned it into a romance, it was still “brave settlers”, not a bunch of young nobles who (as John Smith put it) “would rather die than work”, but had planned to come and capture natives to dig up gold and plant fields for them. The Puritans came to the new world because they couldn’t deal with their kids picking up the tolerant attitude of the Dutch, so they came over where they could be alone and not be “contaminated”. The Separatist Pilgrims (Plymouth Colony) didn’t really get along with the Puritans (Massachusetts Bay Colony) who were Church of England. They never told us that. The Pilgrims were like Islam, very big on community, but not big on tolerance of other ways of doing things. They told us nearly nothing about the Spanish and their abuse of the (surviving) native populations. I was actually amazed at the French “colonial” attitude. They came for the furs, and stayed for the way of life, a large part of them “going native” because that worked better than trying to reproduce the European system (which wasn’t so hot for the laborers) over here. The New World seeming “empty” after the diseases of the columbian exchange, was a place to create theoretical utopias. Oglethorpe’s plan with Georgia was to set up the worthy poor (released from debtor’s prison with no means of support) up as family farmers, to deal with one of the problems created by urbanization. Sadly, they were over-run by the land-hungry rich slave plantationers of Barbados. Another thing they don’t cover in school is the first American rebellion (18th of April- but in 1689) when a Puritan militia objected to James trying to “streamline” and unite all the colonies. Each section wanted to keep doing stuff their own way, and each had local revolts, which mostly coincided with the “Glorious Revolution” in England (when William of Orange replaced James- the background to the pirate movie Captain Blood). As I said, we are taught little of history, most of what I know about Spanish California I got from watching Zorro. Mostly we get “Explorers- Balboa, Cortes, de Soto. Do we hear that St. Augusine, FL was founded in 1565? Santa Fe, NM was founded in 1607? or Quebec in 1608? Maybe not in a way that’s interesting to a school kid.
I’m also reading a chapter a day of Dark Age America which talks about how the chances are good that our civilization is liable to collapse. As Greer illustrated in Retrotopia, the costs of maintaining a bureaucracy constantly rise. Like the problem with frakking, when you’ve exhausted the plentiful resources, you are left trying to continue using those resources, but it costs increasingly more to extract them, until they are no longer worth the trouble. Similarly, when something doesn’t work any more, usually something else comes along, but the first thing doesn’t go away, we just have layers and layers of middlemen trying to justify their own existence. The rich take from the middle classes, who take from the lower classes (each taking from those they can get away with it), and sooner or later the people at the bottom, who are actually feeding everyone else, can’t keep up with the demand and give up. In the near future we’ll also be dealing with climage change, which leads to rising sea levels, and also some dead zones whether created by nuclear or chemical contamination or loss of topsoil or insufficient water (we’ve depleted the aquafers that took ages to fill). So we’ll have less arable land, current seacoast cities will need to be relocated, and this will probably lead to a new Age of Migration (which I’ve studied extensively from the 3rd to the 6th centuries). With or without war, famine, and disease, population can be expected to drop to 5% of what it is now, at which point it will stabilize, and we’ll be able to start rebuilding. Cheerful, huh?
I have switched to Daily Life during the Holocaust from Daily life in the 60s. I’m just more focused for looking at warning signs for how they managed to get good people to do horrendous things. One thing is clear, the punitive damages that were put on the Germans after WWI led to WWII. Treating a whole people horribly for the mistakes of their leaders “radicalizes” (to use the modern term) the whole group. The USA during the Depression was horrible, but we never got to teh point where inflation was so bad that they had to pay people twice a day so they could try to buy something quick before the money wouldn’t cover it. This totally destroys the economy. One thing I haven’t figured out yet, is how did they get from carrying money in wheel barrows to by bread, to the point where they were able to buy kids uniforms and trips to the country to indoctrinate them in Hitler Youth? Someone must have worked really hard to get out of that level of Depression! I’d also never heard that Jehovah’s Witnesses were “enemies of the state”, along with Jews, Romany, and Communists. One thing I’m definitely going to be watching for is any sort of “Prevention of Deficient Offspring” or similar actions. He’s already undermined the free press, and is trying to destroy the school system. I continue to research. I am expecting some sort of “crisis” like the fire in the Reichstag building that he used as an excuse to declare martial law. We must be really, really careful not to panic and allow that to happen, no matter what alarming explosion or attack takes place.
I’m reading The Drunken Botanist, most recently chapters on drinks made from apples and pears, and drinks made from barley- like beer and whiskey. Although not a drinker, the author describes the flavors with such admiration that I become curious to taste them.
I picked up a book at the recycling center, and when I’m done with it I figure I’ll put it back, but each night I do one of the 25 tests in the Psychologists Book of Self Test. I am not surprised to discover that I am smart, but apparently I am off the charts in my ability to test. This is probably at least part of why I enjoy tests. I do seem to be afraid of success, and I will find out more as I go along.
In fiction I read the book Someday the Rabbi will Leave. Rabbi Small continues to refuse to back down when asked to compromise, and ends up staying even when he annoys people because he’s able to figure out things that make it possible for the police cheif to solve murders. This one was up to the 80s. Willow has finally finished Monday the Rabbi took off. I continue to be amused by the depiction of so many different kinds of people, and how the different things going on in each of their lives has an impact on other lives around them. I enjoyed Tabula Rasa, in Ruth Downie’s Medicus series. I have started the next one-Persona Non Grata, which I have to say has one of the most gripping first few paragraphs I’ve read. I’ve got Vita Brevis waiting. I also saw and read a Neil Gaimon rethink of the Sleeping Beauty, The sleeper and the spindle which had some lovely pen and ink illustrations. It addressed the whole “why did everyone else fall asleep?” question which is usually left hanging.
Mark came over and read to me again this week, and last week he suggested an old movie How to Steal a Million which may have inspired the fan fic he’s sharing with me. It’s from the 60s, and starred a very young Peter O’toole and Audrey Hepburn and was very silly and charmingly enjoyable. When I’d finished reading the book about the 20s and 30s, I figured that there are recordings from that period, fanciful, of course, but still, they contain the cadences of speech, and unconsciously portray the attitudes of the time when they were made. So I ordered a bunch of them from the library. This week I watched The Awful Truth, an awful “comedy” about a husband and wife who decide to get divorced when they discover that they are jealous and suspicious of each other. “Where there is no trust, there can be no love”. Over the three months (and dating) it takes for their divorce to come through, they discover “I have been a sap” and “I’m still crazy about him.” and get back together at the last minute. The oddest thing about it was that while she was briefly engaged to another man, at one point her fionce asked her for a kiss, and she refused because someone might see. Apparently they’d gotten engaged without ever kissing. That seems odd to me!
And I watched Public Enemy twice- once with the commentary. It didn’t take me long to recognize it as the story I knew from Johnny Dangerously, except not as a comedy. If I hadn’t read up on the period, I wouldn’t have figured out what the opening scene was- where the kids took buckets to bars to get a quart or so of fresh beer (no canned beer back then) for their fathers to have with supper. This was introducing the idea that prohibition created the growing medium for the mobs. The commentator pointed out that gangster films came out during the same period, and the gangster may have filled the same role in the minds of the audience as the monsters did. You can find King Kong or Dracula scary, but appealing, and hate his actions while still feeling sorry for him when he’s destroyed at the end. The moment when his brother opens the door and steps aside so we see him there propped up dead, tied up like a mummy, and then fall. That’s powerful. I’ve got more 30s movies coming. I also realized as I watched that I seem to recognize a lot of the songs. They have to be from my grandmother and mother’s time, but somehow I heard them enough to recognize them (and remember the words). I wonder how many songs from my childhood my kids will know just from hearing them around me?
Oh yes, today’s New Normal was pretty good. I did have trouble getting on. I tried the usual keys and they didn’t work, so I had to call in like a guest and was able to talk on the phone- although the first time I didn’t connect, and neither did Jason, my guest when he called in the first time. I wonder if it’s something we’re doing. The producer insists no one else has this problem. And I noticed the last time I was going to Fitch’s for milk, that there was a strange humming in the radio. I figured- Granite State, mountains interrupting the radio waves. But when I started back I hadn’t plugged in the phone charger yet, and it was clear- until I plugged the charger in. Perhaps there’s some of the many appliances (phones, chargers, etc.) around the computer that are setting up some sort of interferance. Experimentation is necessary. Jason Nadeau and I talked about working with the ancestors and it was good. The best thing I got from it was that even Catholic ancestors don’t seem to mind what may look like a pagan practice (setting up a shrine for them, giving them offerings). And given how many cultures have similar shrines and offerings, it’s not surprising that our ancestors like them too.
(Two sig quotes for one this week)
Nobody made a greater mistake than he who did nothing because he could do only a little. Edmund Burke
Those who don’t know history are destined to repeat it. Edmund Burke