Saturday, May 25, 2019

Memorial Weekend

Memorial Weekend (in the USA) has come around once again. Memorial Day itself will be on Monday, 27 May.

I can, in good conscience, do no other but post the following, with which I wholeheartedly agree.

In 1974, Howard Zinn was invited by Tom Winship, editor of the Boston Globe, who had been bold enough in 1971 to print part of the top secret Pentagon Papers on the history of the Vietnam War, to write a bi-weekly column for the op-ed page of the newspaper. He did that for about a year and a half. The column below appeared June 2, 1976, in connection with that year's Memorial Day. After it appeared, Zinn's column was cancelled.
Memorial Day will be celebrated as usual, by high-speed collisions of automobiles and bodies strewn on highways and the sound of ambulance sirens throughout the land.

It will also be celebrated by the display of flags, the sound of bugles and drums, by parades and speeches and unthinking applause.

It will be celebrated by giant corporations, which make guns, bombs, fighter planes, aircraft carriers and an endless assortment of military junk and which await the $100 billion in contracts to be approved soon by Congress and the President.

There was a young woman in New Hampshire who refused to allow her husband, killed in Vietnam, to be given a military burial. She rejected the hollow ceremony ordered by those who sent him and 50,000 others to their deaths. Her courage should be cherished on Memorial Day. There were the B52 pilots who refused to fly those last vicious raids of Nixon's and Kissinger's war. Have any of the great universities, so quick to give honorary degrees to God-knows-whom, thought to honor those men at this Commencement time, on this Memorial Day?

No politician who voted funds for war, no business contractor for the military, no general who ordered young men into battle, no FBI man who spied on anti-war activities, should be invited to public ceremonies on this sacred day. Let the dead of past wars he honored. Let those who live pledge themselves never to embark on mass slaughter again.

Thursday, May 23, 2019

The Good (but rather whiffy) Old Days

This question at Quora a few days ago received an answer from yours truly. This is what I wrote in response to:

Are you old enough to remember when outhouses were used?
I am indeed! My grandparents lived in a tiny village in East Yorkshire, England. They had no indoor plumbing until the early 1950s, so water had to be brought in from a pump in a communal yard, catering to a row of five cottages. Each cottage had a long narrow garden at the back, at the end of which was the outhouse - though it wasn’t called an outhouse in Yorkshire. I don’t remember what we did call it in conversation; in formal language it was called an ‘earth closet’.

I also recall visiting my great grandparents’ small farm in an even more rural setting, and seeing their earth closet : an earth closet made for two. Very sociable! :)

Using earth closets wasn’t pleasant, but imagine the poor souls whose job it was to empty them! These men, of ultra-strong constitution, were called ‘scavengers’ , they toured the area once a week or so, emptying the earth closets into a big specially designed truck with sliding lids. The stink was indescribable as the scavengers passed by.
After pondering, later, on the question of "what we called it", I eventually recalled my grandparents' comments when they were about to use the earth closet: "I'm just going up t'garden" - translated into British English = "I'm just going to the loo."

Monday, May 20, 2019

Monday's Mumbles about Movies

On Saturday evening we watched a couple of movies via Amazon Prime. I picked them because, from the brief outline themes, neither promised beaucoup gratuitous violence, blood and guts.

Big Night (1996)

Big Night is one of those often engaging "foodie" stories. Two Italian brothers, immigrants to the New Jersey Shore, run a restaurant, The Paradise, serving fine Italian food. Primo is the chef, Secundo Maitre d'. The business is not doing well - near to foreclosure in fact - possibly Primo's wonderful food is simply "too good for this place". Another restaurateur with a business close by hears of their plight. He suggests that he should contact a celebrity and friend of his to ask that he and his entourage should visit The Paradise one evening to bring in some custom and help in spreading the word about the excellent Italian fare available.

I'll not spoil the film's theme further, but will say that, though we didn't dislike the movie, there were some weird omissions and a really iffy ending. It was nice to see Tony Shalhoub (Monk) in an early role here, and Allison Janney too (CJ Cregg in The West Wing).

The film received very good reviews - most of which I feel were way overblown - but the sight of great food can do that to some people!

The Virgin Suicides (1999)

Based on a 1993 novel by Jeffrey Eugenides, the film was directed by Sofia Coppola (in her feature directorial debut), co-produced by Francis Ford Coppola, and starring James Woods, Kathleen Turner, Kirsten Dunst, and Josh Hartnett. The film also features Scott Glenn, Michael Paré and Danny DeVito in minor roles, and a voice narration by Giovanni Ribisi.

I found this to be a rather peculiar movie. Like Big Night, above, it received excellent reviews. Perhaps I just didn't get it. Maybe I don't remember what it was like being a teenager (but actually, I do, though I was not one of five!)

I like a movie with a good plot, a twist or two, and a satisfying end. I do wonder if the famous surname of the director of this movie might have....well...influenced critics more than a tad! None of this story felt at all real, reasonable or believable to me - except, perhaps the first suicide.

Without giving away too much (as though the film's title doesn't!) the story's focus is on 5 young sisters, aged between 13 and 17, living in suburban Detroit with their loving but ultra-strict and over-protective parents. Those facts along with the title is really all you need to know, apart from continually needing to ask, "Why?"

I read around some reviews of both the novel and film later. I came across one comment which put a more metaphorical spin on the novel's, and therefore the movie's theme: "I see the suicides in this book as an expression of the often senseless loss and decay that is happening in the world around us today." Remember, too, that the story is set close to Detroit, a centre of recent loss and decay. So... watching the movie through that lens, perhaps it wouldn't seem quite so peculiar.

Saturday, May 18, 2019

Astrology in the 21st Century

A good read for anyone with views on astrology and its validity:

Approaching Astrology With a 21st Century Mind
Written by: Armand Diaz, PhD.

Some paragraphs from the beginning of the piece:

When I tell people that I am an astrologer, I get a range of reactions, from bemusement and even anger at one pole, to excited enthusiasm at the other. Many people seem to wonder what went wrong – how could an educated, intelligent person in the 21st century possibly give any credence to something like astrology?

This article is in no way an attempt to convince anyone of anything about astrology. All I’m doing here is laying out a few prerequisites, things that are “necessary but not sufficient” to consider that astrology may have some validity. Without some experience of astrology – good astrology – none of this is going to seem particularly compelling. To be honest, we’re going to have to get a bit heady if we really want to understand how we can approach astrology with a 21st century mind.

Not Fitting In
If you’re already comfortable with astrology, it might not seem necessary to work out the details, but I think it is worthwhile to try to see how things fit together. Many people who have an interest in astrology or other metaphysical things tend to keep quiet about it, because although they see value in them they know that they don’t quite fit in with the rest of their world view.

In recent years, astrology has gotten a bit of support. For example, Richard Tarnas, who wrote The Passion of the Western Mind, a popular book on the history of Western thought that is widely used in colleges, has also written Cosmos and Psyche. Stanislav Grof, a pioneering psychedelic researcher, physician, and psychologist has endorsed astrology as means of predicting when transformative breakthroughs will occur.

However, suggesting that astrology may have some value frequently does less to elevate astrology than to lower the status of the endorser. It is a trap that catches anyone who looks outside of mainstream thought: no matter how “skeptical” and careful you are, if you are even looking at astrology, energy healing, psychics, life after death, any anomalous phenomenon, you are already something of a kook.
[Note from me: Ain't that the truth!!]

The first thing we should consider is temperament. William James, the great American psychologist, used the terms idealist and materialist, which Jung saw as something like what he meant by introvert and extrovert. But this distinction in temperament has been in operation for a long time. In the West, we usually trace it back to Plato (the idealist) and Aristotle (the materialist).

Materialists see the physical world as the real stuff, and mental and emotional contents as somewhat ephemeral. To them, the reality of a material object with all of its concrete, measurable properties, is obviously more substantial than the changeable world of ideas, which are just “in your head.”

Idealists think very differently. For them, the material world is real, all right, but it is transient. This or that physical object will be around for a while, but the underlying idea or form of it is transcendent. This snowflake or that leaf will last a short time, but the overall pattern of the seasons is a different story – it remains while the particulars change...............

Last paras:

Almost no one today could hear about astrology and think that it made sense or that it was coherent with their view of the world. Experience with it might do the trick, assuming that one has both an idealist bent and the requisite understanding of the creative nature of symbols, and a sense that matter and meaning may co-occur.

Even so, it’s a lot of work. If all we got for it was a bit more understanding of our relationships and a good time to ask the boss for a raise, it probably wouldn’t be worth it. But astrology – for those willing to take a look – offers something more: an experience of the harmony of matter and meaning, experiential evidence that we are not empty shells scattering through a meaningless void.

Wednesday, May 15, 2019


The International Day of Families is observed on the 15th of May every year. The Day was proclaimed by the UN General Assembly in 1993 with resolution A/RES/47/237 and reflects the importance the international community attaches to families. The International Day provides an opportunity to promote awareness of issues relating to families and to increase knowledge of the social, economic and demographic processes affecting families

In honour of the day, I'm borrowing some vintage photographs of families, identities unknown, from my husband's collection at Lost Gallery and Flickr

If you look deeply into the palm of your hand, you will see your parents and all generations of your ancestors. All of them are alive in this moment. Each is present in your body. You are the continuation of each of these people.
Thich Nhat Hanh quotes (Vietnamese Monk, Activist and Writer. born 1926)

The family is one of nature's masterpieces.
George Santayana

Rejoice with your family in the beautiful land of life! ~Albert Einstein

The Only child?

In every conceivable manner, the family is link to our past, bridge to our future.
Alex Haley

Proud Relatives of Sons "called to arms"?

A family is a unit composed not only of children but of men, women, an occasional animal, and the common cold. ~Ogden Nash

"The occasional animal" (+ my husband's caption)

Oh. I was just looking for my um...ball. Yeah, that's it. Pork chop? No. No, I haven't seen any pork chop.

Monday, May 13, 2019

Maximum Age Limit for Voting ?

A question posed at Quora: Should there be a ‘Maximum Age Limit’ for voting in elections?

Oh dear! A quote: “Discrimination on the basis of age is as unacceptable as discrimination on the basis of any other aspect of ourselves that we cannot change.”
― Ashton Applewhite, This Chair Rocks: A Manifesto Against Ageism.

Elections, in the UK, USA and in most other countries are an opportunity to vote for representatives in government (local and national) for a limited period - 4 years, 5, 6 and with the opportunity, in future elections, to extend, within limits, those periods. Older voters most certainly have a stake in how their city, town, county, state or country will be governed during the next few years. To argue otherwise has no basis in fact.

A few snips from Quora answers:

At what point do you feel a Senior Citizen’s opinion has become so worthless that his/her Constitutional right should be revoked? As I see it: understanding, knowledge, experience, preferences, and opinions do not come with a shelf life like a carton of milk. (from Al Nolf's answer)

But just to be devil’s advocate, the best reason to limit the voting right of the very aged (say 85+) is that they are not going to have to live with the long-term consequences of their vote and so their votes should not have as much sway. My own parents actively decided not to vote once they got to be in their mid-late 80’s for just this reason. They felt the world belonged to the younger folks and they should be the ones to decide how it went forward.
(From Ellen Garbarino's answer.)

Yes, there should be a maximum age limit for voting. It’s better known as death. Up to that point — but hopefully not beyond — we need the input from people who have actually been around the block a few times.
(From Susan C Weber's answer)

Absolutely not. Only someone young and inexperienced who has not experienced the process of aging, who has not looked back on their lives with regret in regards to the assumptions they were so sure about would propose such a ridiculous idea. (Ridge Green's answer)

Mark Hartman wrote (with the added disclaimer "/sarcasm"):
I am all in favor of imposing a maximum age limit, and raising the minimum age limit.
No person below the age of 30 should be permitted to vote.
No person above the age of 150 should be permitted to vote.

And Al Eisenmenger wrote:
If it were not for the Senior Citizens that fought for your right to vote you wouldn’t have a Country to vote in….

Wednesday, May 08, 2019

Step Right Up .......

Insightful and fun (?) piece by Paul Street at Counterpunch:

Step Right Up to the Quadrennial Extravaganza!

A few examples from a much longer list of spectacular events listed in the full piece:

Malevolent Narcissists and Wall Street Sell-Outs Masquerading as Champions of the Middle and Working Classes!

Elitism Masquerading as Populism!

Dazzling Issue-Avoidance!

Step Right Up! Watch the Biggest Issue of Our or Any Time – the Climate Crisis – Get Amazingly Avoided!

Savage Class Inequalities – a New Gilded Age – Papered Over!

Subtle Neo-McCarthyite Machinations Performed by Vacuous Cable News Automatons!

Amazing Death-Defying Destructions of Democracy, or What’s Left of it!

Peek Behind the Curtain to View the Faces of the Terrifying Un-Elected and Interrelated Dictatorships of Money and Empire!

Remarkable Feats of Nauseating Racism, Sexism, Classism and Ecocide!

Ride Through the Astounding Tunnel of Identity!

Watch Democratic Socialists Get Eaten Alive!

Watch Live Sex Acts Between Financial Institutions and National Party Committees!

Calculate the Candidates’ and Media Operatives’ Carbon Footprints as they Fly Constantly Around the Nation!

Kiss the Species Goodbye at the Extinction Gallery!

Friday, May 03, 2019

World of Today (through the eyes of teenagers from the 1980s)

I've been lacking inspiration this week; today I'm calling on a Quora colleague, Ian Lang, to help out once more. (I do have Ian's blanket permission to use his Quora answers here.)

The question:
If teenagers from 1980s could see our modern-day world, what do you think that they would be shocked by the most and what kind of questions would they ask?

By Ian Lang, Leading Technician:

So, here I go with my spotty face from 1982, travelling into the future and —— it’s 2019!

What the feck-

Why is everybody staring at a little glowing box and typing out vacuous messages to one another rather than talking? What the feck is a Facebook and how can you possibly have eighteen bajillion friends?

Hang on. Last time I looked at the top forty, we had Madness, The Police, Blondie and Adam and the Ants. Dexy’s Midnight Runners. Now it looks like you’ve got a bunch of bland pretty boys and clone-women all singing the same bleedin’ song. And what do you mean you don’t go down the record shop? Download an MP3? Knob off. I want my boom-box.

Your mum and dad drive you everywhere? Have you never heard of a bus? Where’s all the Wimpys gone and what the feck is sushi? Or burritos? Starbuck was the cocky bloke on Battlestar Galactica- what’s he doing selling coffee? What do you mean they remade it and turned him into a girl?

You want to work in what? Marketing? Do you mean advertising? No? Well, what the bloody hell is it, then? Holistic sales promotion? You’re just talking bollocks, aren’t you?

Why in the name of all that’s holy do you say everything as though it’s a question? What are you babbling about when you say “OMG, LOL, it’s like you’re a caveman, dude?”

Why are you all dressed in running shoes when your parents drive you everywhere and how come you’ve all got five bleedin’ computers but hardly any of you know how to program them? Or change a fuse. How come you all go to university but none of you can change the wheel on a car? You’ve all got twenty million A levels each? So how come when I ask you a question the answer’s always, “oh, I dunno? Google it?” And what’s a bloody Google anyway?

God almighty. Send me back to 1982. You’re all at university now, even if you don’t pronounce the -versity bit, so there must be someone who knows how to do it.

No, I’m not bloody Googling it. Google off you spoilt little bleeders. And go and vote in this Brexit thing. Whatever it is. I’m going to see if anybody’s got work for a turner.

Saturday, April 27, 2019

Saturday & Sundry Thoughts on This & That

Not many or particularly deep thoughts. Over the past week or so I've been feeling tired, exhausted, fatigued, fed up.... It's not really connected the breast cancer issue. Both incisions are healing well, and the pesky drain was taken out at last, on Thursday. Stitches likely to be taken out on Monday. There might be a course of radiation sometime in my future, but I have not yet made my appointment with the radiation oncologist for assessment - I need a little breathing space, damn it! It's our 15th wedding anniversary on Tuesday. We missed a celebration last year, have missed celebrating my birthday and husband's birthday already this year.

My secondary issue, lymphocytic colitis, discovered after colonoscopy, has been causing more problems after it had gradually started settling down. I suspect that side effects from the 6-week course of meds I bought - at the knock down price of $1,400 - have been kicking in during past days. I have only 5 days' worth of tablets left. Side effects of this med do include unusual tiredness, and various types of discomfort stomach/bowel-wise. These should subside once I finish the course (I hope).

Other thoughts, unrelated to health issues:

If Joe Biden eventually becomes the Democrats' nominee in the 2020 presidential election - it simply has to have been "a fix".

Happy to see the name of Mike Gravel around once more, this time in context of the 2020 election.

Two of my posts on Mike Gravel from 2007 and 2008:

We watched "I, Daniel Blake"
on Netflix this week - a 2016 British movie. It made me as angry as I've ever felt watching any movie or TV drama. Angry, not at the movie itself, but at the circumstance described in it, which are present for far too many people in the UK (and in the USA too as it happens). Gold Star to the movie's director, Ken Loach (also famous for other hard-hitting films such as "Kathy Come Home" and "Kes"). Thank the gods for the Ken Loaches of this world - unafraid to say what needs to be said in ways that strike at the heart.

 James Spader as Alan Shore, Candice Bergen as Shirley Schmidt
David E. Kelley, in the USA, is another such writer/director, though not as raw and hard-hitting as Ken Loach, he still managed to get said things that needed to be said. We've been re-watching (by DVD) the whole series of "Boston Legal" this week. Alan Shore's wondrous closing speeches are the jewel at the heart of each episode; these address issues that needed to be candidly addressed at the time the show originally aired. Those same issues mostly still need a candid airing in 2019 - because really nothing much changes, does it? "Boston Legal" managed to last for 5 seasons on ABC channel, 2004-2008. Those outspoken closing speeches did, eventually, raise the hackles of the network's owners, or their advertisers, I guess. Where is today's comparable show?

Monday, April 22, 2019

April's Cruel Side

Around this time in April, in several past years, I've posted listing some of the best known dark deeds coincidentally all happening in mid-April. My 2013 post went like this:
It never ends does it? Man's inhumanity to man. The dreadful events, deaths and horrible injuries in Boston yesterday are the latest addition to a blood-soaked list of tragedies here in the USA, and let us not forget, in countries abroad - some at our own hands.

I've written before about the darkness of this month in recent US history: 19 April 1995, the Oklahoma City bombing when 168 people, including children, died at the hands of home-grown terrorists; then the shootings at Columbine High School, Colorado on 20 April 1999; and April 16 2007 was the date of the Virginia Tech. massacre when 32 people were killed by a gunman, fellow student of those he murdered.

There's no rational explanation for this growing cluster of horror in what ought to be a happy and optimistic time of year, long winter behind us, trees greening - but .......

And in despair I bowed my head;
"There is no peace on earth," I said;
"For hate is strong,
And mocks the song
Of peace on earth, good-will to men!"
(From Longfellow's Christmas Bells)

In 2010 I wrote the post accessible at

These and others can also be accessed via the label cloud in the sidebar, by clicking on "April Events".

In 2019 April is keeping up its cruel reputation: Notre Dame on fire; attacks in Sri Lanka with at least 290 people losing their lives.

On a very personal level (and these pale into insignificance on a world wide scale):
On 23rd April 1992 my father died.
On 21 April 1996 I and my late partner lost everything we owned, except the few clothes we were wearing, my purse and our car, in a fire which consumed the apartment in which we'd lived for 24 years.

This year I found that the lumpectomy carried out a year ago wasn't sufficient, so I underwent full mastectomy left breast. That still wasn't sufficient, so a few days ago I underwent re-excision mastectomy and learned that the right breast ought also to be removed in the near future. As I said, insignificant in the great scheme of things, but a bit wearying for yours truly, again, in a month that promises renewal and all things bright and beautiful.

Let us hope, very sincerely, that future Aprils will not continue in this pattern!

Postscript - The post's title uses a thought from T.S. Eliot's poem The Wasteland.

Friday, April 19, 2019


Here in the USA, Christmas still seems like Christmas did in the UK (and then some!) Easter doesn't feel the same as it did in the UK.

In England, especially during my quarter century in the civil service, we'd look forward to a welcome Easter break when our office ran on skeleton staff from mid-day on Maundy Thursday to Good Friday around 4pm - then office closed until the Tuesday after Easter Monday - even on Tuesday we'd have a quiet day, because in Leeds most solicitors' offices were traditionally closed on Easter Tuesday. So, not much going on for us in an office connected to legal matters: employment tribunals.

In my younger days, Easter at home meant lots of hot cross buns and simnel cake. My Dad baked both for his small bakery and shop; people formed a line outside to get some of 'em! Dad baked wonderful stuff - a truly talented perfectionist in the bakery he was, bless him.

In the USA, at least in Oklahoma, Easter Monday doesn't seem to exist; Good Friday isn't much different from most other Fridays, apart from extra church services being held. Hot cross buns and simnel cake are not easy to find. I don't like American chocolate, so my old annual treat of a yummy Easter egg has disappeared. But still - it is Easter weekend so...

Wishing y'all, whatever kind of holiday you keep:

Wednesday, April 17, 2019

More Medical Updating

Yesterday, Tuesday 16 April, we had to be at the hospital at 6.30 am to prepare for me to undergo a procedure/surgery : left breast re-excision mastectomy. "Oh, good," thought I on hearing the arrival time, "I bet I'll be the opening act." I was.

Surgery was needed to remove two very tiny (microscopic) spots of potentially cancerous tissue close to the skin, a little way apart, just outside the line of the original incision, only perceptible via microscope. These were discovered during pathology of tissue removed on 2 April during my original mastectomy.

Preparing for the surgery (any surgery at our local hospital, and maybe in all hospitals these days) includes taking three showers using Hibiclens - antiseptic skin cleanser - in a prescribed manner: twice on day before surgery - morning and evening; once on morning of surgery. Freshly laundered towels, washcloths and clothing after each shower. That last shower was fun, timed just before 4 am. I was not playing with a full deck after a mainly sleepless few hours on the recliner, wrangling a dangling drain bottle which kept making a nuisance of itself in the shower! "Using Hibiclens will greatly reduce your risk of developing a staph infection" says the instruction sheet.

No food after midnight, before surgery. That is a direction that doesn't bother me one bit, but it must bother some folks, according to stern warnings on the instruction sheets the hospital provides.

I knew nothing. I was wheeled into the operating theatre, and once shuffled onto the operating table, a nurse applied a mask to my nose and mouth, in preparation for what I think is called intubation, then out I went.

Now...I'm still not 100% sure what was what, but the surgeon had explained that he would need to do a bit of re-aligning of the original incision, from a straight line to a more wavy or angled one, necessitating the move a bit of fleshy tissue from one place to another in order to "pull it all together". I'm still vague about the detail. Later, my husband and other visitors were told by the surgeon that the procedure had "gone well". We were home, amazingly, just after 11.30am. The procedure will probably leave me with a "tight" feeling for a while, but it'll gradually go away with ordinary use of left arm.

Going forward (as they are wont to say in business circles) there will be a few weeks' healing time, with follow-up appointments at surgeon's office, first of which will be on the first of May.

Mastectomy of my right boob is TBA (to be arranged). I'd like to have a few weeks of breathing space, to enjoy what's left of late spring, before summer comes a ragin' in once more, with triple digit temperatures. When it's 103 degrees outside, maybe I'll be glad of the ultra-cold temperatures inside the hospital. Yesterday morn I had 3 warmed blankets atop me and was still shivery cold - 50% temperature 50% nerves, I guess.

Thursday, April 11, 2019

Unpleasant Update

I received unpleasant news at my appointment at the surgeon's office on Wednesday afternoon. Pathology shows that there is a little more tissue that needs to be removed where indication of cancerous cells has arisen on the margin of the tissue removed during mastectomy last week. Margins should always be clear. Surgeon will do what he calls re-excision to extract a small amount more tissue and adjust the incision, hopefully then drawing all together. Tricky but doable, he says. Alternative would be to look into possibility of radiation but he'd have to consult others on that. I opted for re-excision.

It'll be an outpatient procedure, on Tuesday, no overnight stay this time.

Here we go again! The incision and drain are still in process of healing from last Tuesday.

More unpleasant news. Surgeon advises having right breast removed, as and when I feel up to it, so that we don't have all these same issues again, a year or so down the line. It isn't a certainty this would happen but it's a clear possibility. I feel this is sensible, and as soon as left-side work is all healed, I shall do as advised. As far as they know, from my mammograms, and breast MRI a few weeks ago, there is no cancer in the right breast at present, so it isn't madly urgent that it be removed, but asap will be preferable, because a few weeks ago these extra cancer cells were not visible on the left side. It'll be for peace of mind as much as anything - and I'll be better balanced when all's done!

(Astrological thought) - I wondered what Pluto and Saturn retrograding over old ground had in store for me - now I know! A few more months of medical hassles still to go!

Tuesday, April 09, 2019


“Mother used to say escape is never further than the nearest book.”
― David Mitchell, Cloud Atlas
During my early to mid-teenage years I loved to read novels, or see films, about prisoners of war in Germany or Japan during World War II, and their attempts to escape. A book by Paul Brickhill, Boldness Be My Friend began my fandom of such stories, I think. I'd scour the library for similar tales, and found several.

I've wondered why I had this penchant for prisoner of war escape stories. My conclusion has been that, back in my teen years, I was feeling "imprisoned" by school and home strictures and wanted to escape myself. Or...perhaps I just enjoyed reading about the way human nature adapts, sometimes never gives up - no matter what.

Over the years I've loved, read/seen (more than once) versions of A Town Like Alice by Nevil Shute; The Great Escape; Stalag whatever; The Naked Island (that was a grizzly one if I recall correctly); Papillon (1973 version) and others whose titles I now don't recall.

At the weekend I noticed that Turner Movie Channel was showing "King Rat" on Saturday afternoon.
King Rat is a 1965 World War II film directed by Bryan Forbes, starring George Segal and James Fox. They play Corporal King and Marlowe, respectively, two World War II prisoners of war in a squalid camp near Singapore. Among the supporting cast are John Mills and Tom Courtenay. The film was adapted from James Clavell's novel King Rat (1962), which in turn is partly based on Clavell's experiences as a POW at Changi Prison during the Second World War.

We decided to give the movie a whirl. It's an excellent, excellent film - should be much better known! There's a lot more to it than a straightforward POW movie. Escaping isn't an issue in this tale; escape would be virtually impossible due to the geographical situation of the Changi prison camp. The film examines the varied attitudes of individuals to the camp's horrendous circumstances; different psychological ways of dealing with what has to be dealt with. Acting is first class throughout, and many familiar faces (especially familiar to British viewers) pop up frequently.

James Clavell's book is now on my "to read" list - once I get through Winston Graham's 12 Poldark novels of which I'm currently in the midst. 1945 Changi, Singapore will offer quite a culture shock after so many tales of 18th century Cornwall, England!

Monday, April 08, 2019

Music Monday

I guess this should be my theme song for the next week or two:

While looking for something else, I came across this lovely song by John Denver, it's one of his I hadn't heard before. We still miss the wisdom of John Denver.

Sunday, April 07, 2019


Our two young Redbud trees have bloomed! It must be spring. Christmas, when we bound the wee trees with solar lighting, seems like a lifetime ago, considering all that has happened since.

At Christmas the trees looked like this:

Now they look like this:

“Spring drew on...and a greenness grew over those brown beds, which, freshening daily, suggested the thought that Hope traversed them at night, and left each morning brighter traces of her steps.”
― Charlotte Brontë, Jane Eyre

“Spring is the best life coach: It gives you all the energy you want, all the positive thoughts you wish and all the boldness you need!”
― Mehmet Murat ildan

“Spring is made of solid, fourteen-karat gratitude, the reward for the long wait. Every religious tradition from the northern hemisphere honors some form of April hallelujah, for this is the season of exquisite redemption, a slam-bang return to joy after a season of cold second thoughts.”

― Barbara Kingsolver, Animal, Vegetable, Miracle: A Year of Food Life.

Thursday, April 04, 2019

Glad That's Over!

Having been a "more than a handful's a waste" kinda gal for all of my adult life, the loss of one scant handful is not nearly as traumatic for me, psychologically, as it would be for some naturally better endowed ladies. Small mercies! Anyway, I'm now "One Boob Annie" , with a little drain bottle hanging by my left hip, hopefully hidden by loose shirt and tee shirt. From a distance I might bring to mind Annie Get Your Gun- this is Oklahoma, USA so, "is she carrying?"

It's no joke, but ya gotta larf or you'd cry! I just now did the latter, by the way, after finishing, but before publishing this post, husband's other daughter left a bouquet of lovely lilacs in a vase outside the front door. Tension needed to break and it did!

All went well surgery-wise. We arrived at the hospital at 7.30am, Tuesday. It wasn't long before I was being wheeled in to the operating room . That was a huge relief because waiting is always the worst part of the job for me. Husband tells me that Recovery Time was a longer drawn out affair than expected, but I doubt that was anything to do with my own condition, because I felt amazingly alright when I first opened my eyes, and really for the rest of the time spent in hospital, apart from the last few hours. Husband stayed with me all day and through the night, plus we had visits from husband's daughter, son and their spouses, which proved uplifting - if a tad loud!

I guess it was understandable that hospital nurses, who were all wonderful, seemed to be unaware of my secondary current issue being managed after a colonoscopy a week ago. The lymphocytic colitis. When the nurse suggested that I should take Miralax stool softener, because surgeon doesn't want me to strain on the toilet, and affect the stitched incisions, I had to larf! It worried me a bit until my GP happened upon me during his hospital rounds; the sight of a familiar face, who didn't have to ask the ubiquitous robotic question "What is your full name and date of birth?" , was kinda soothing and helpful.

On Wednesday, during the afternoon and early evening hours, the surgeon's "office day", he had become otherwise engaged somehow, and I couldn't be discharged without his visit and say-so. We'd hoped to go home early afternoon-ish, Wednesday, but didn't get home, after a frustrating time feeling somewhat imprisoned and unsure of what might happen next, until around 8pm, clasping some pain pills in hand.

All's well after a decent night's sleep on my own lovely recliner in our living room.

It's not that I'm a control freak, when it comes to what others do - honest ! I hate, hate, hate though, not being in control of myself. That has been the source of my lifelong "white coat syndrome". Hatred of hospitals has grown over time after heart-breaking experiences when my father, then my mother, then my beloved longtime-partner died - in hospital during the 1990s and early 2000s. During the past two years I've had to fight hard to overcome those feelings. It's a work in progress!

Next stop, tomorrow, will be a visit to surgeon's office for nurses there to inspect my drain bottle, decide if I still need it, and maybe loosen the tight binding around my chest a wee bit. Husband was taught how to empty and measure drain contents (mainly smallish amounts blood and fluid) regularly and to keep a record of date, time and amount of each collection. Not thinking much further ahead than that, at the moment.

Tuesday, April 02, 2019

I'm off to see the....... my case instead of the wizard it's the surgeon. I'll be back soon, probably with a tale to tell.

Monday, April 01, 2019

Music Monday

Keepin' in light today with tunes from both sides of the Atlantic.

From the USA- a favourite of mine from Stan Freberg; my 2007 post featuring him is HERE.

From the UK - Jake Thackray's contemplation of marriage and his new in-laws: La-di-dah

Saturday, March 30, 2019

Saturday and Sundry Robot-related Reflections

A weekend chuckle courtesy of Ian Lang at Quora who has, very kindly, given me blanket permission to use his Quora answers on this blog.

Can we build a robot that has a brain of a human being?

ANSWER by:Ian Lang, Qualified Electronic Engineer BTEC National 3.

Now look, I have, in the past, met human beings who:

had to ask how to turn on a laptop computer

failed to cook a pie, because they couldnt work out how to light the gas on an electric oven

put a 13A fused plug onto a 30A cooker and then complained that it was tripping the breakers.

seriously believed that leaving Europe meant we’d move the country into the middle of the Atlantic

asked what I was listening to on my MP3 player and when came the answer “Beethoven” replied “what, that film with the dog?”

have to wear a digital watch because an analogue one is too confusing

tried to use a computer mouse upside down and complained it’s not working

have not plugged a printer into the mains “because it’s supposed to be wireless”

have bitten into a bar of fancy soap in the belief that it was white chocolate

and have phoned their mothers to ask how to make a jam sandwich.

Really? You want robots to be like that?

" Sure, thery're handy little things to have around, but you can't deny they're potentially dangerous."

Unless mankind redesigns itself by changing our DNA through altering our genetic makeup, computer-generated robots will take over our world.
Stephen Hawking

Wouldn't it be a strange twist of fate if we discovered that we were the original A.I.
Anthony T. Hincks.