Straight-Up Grandstanding

Honestly, it sounds almost so silly to say but . . . few things raise my ire as much as careless (or ignorant) use of language. Yesterday, this video (below) by Rep. Alexandra Ocasio-Cortez (AOC) received attention on various web services and blogs. Referring to her as the “Bronx Bolshevik,”  Biz-Pac Review ridiculed her cringe-worthy assertions.

One of AOC’s Democratic challengers, Michelle Caruso-Cabrera said: “keeping AOC in office makes us (the citizens of NY-14) look like fools.” Twitter posts were amusing and predictable. I leave it to others to express their reactions as they may.

For me, my first impulse was to ignore the video. I dislike contributing additional views to any video I consider inane. But AOC’s statement irked … specifically the repeated use of that non-word:  patroning. My spell-checker rejects the nonword, and so do I!

Continue reading “Straight-Up Grandstanding”

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Know When To Hold

The recent commemorations of D-Day have sparked my reflections. With this final day of June 2019, my thoughts center on my father-in-law (FIL) whose birthday it is. He was born in 1921. I’ve mentioned him in several previous posts, most recently here.

Born in Kansas, the second child of Fred and Georgia, Max learned early the importance of hard work, a way of life embedded deep in their German heritage. He often reminded his sons how his own father tied a block of wood to the child’s foot so he could reach the tractor’s gas pedal. Able-bodied children learned the value of work to help families survive.

This work ethic propelled young Max into adulthood. Ambition and aptitude directed him to Kansas State College of Agriculture and Applied Science (now Kansas State University) where he prepared for his future career as an engineer. As sometimes happens, these plans were interrupted by the shadow of war. Like many of his peers, this engineering student enlisted in the US Army.

When Max reported for active duty, he served with the Signal Corps stationed in the Philippines. His eldest son (also named Max) was born during this overseas deployment.

Following World War II, Max pursued various engineering and corporate positions that brought him success. He was wise and expert, an admirable man. He and his wife raised four sons, each of whom exhibits distinct character qualities (even facial expressions) learned from their father.

Looking back though, I’ve come to realize … to my regret … I didn’t know my FIL well. He was an imposing figure to me, tall and commanding as one might expect of a former Army officer. As his daughter-in-law, I found myself unable to establish a comfortable level of familiarity where I could characterize him as my friend. Though he was kind and cordial, he seemed a generally quiet man, sometimes prone to share stories, but usually content to observe the interactions and conversations of those around him.

Mostly, what I know of the man is what I’ve seen reflected in my Beloved. The second child of a second child, my Beloved mirrors his father’s disposition as a generally quiet man. Observing my Beloved’s love for me and for his children and grandchildren, I’m grateful to his father for being a good dad and provider.

Perhaps more than anything else, I realize my FIL passed on to my Beloved a precious spirit of play. Pictured at right in the final years of his life, Max displays the winning hand in a monumental match of Texas Hold’em. To start, there may have been eight or ten competitors sitting at that roundtable contest. One by one, they went down in defeat to the most seasoned (and senior) card player at the table. Even as a man in his 80s, Max delighted in being champion of all.

We don’t have much occasion to break out the cards these days, but whenever my Beloved splashes his grand-twins in their mini-pool or welcomes the grandchildren to hop on top his truck for a raucous ride around the lawn, I’m gratified by his joyous spirit of playfulness … and how Scriptureonce again – demonstrates its essential Truth to our everyday lives.

Jumping the Cactus

No matter how often I’ve seen it, this 2017 Progressive Insurance commercial always makes me laugh. I’m reminded what the commercial says about human nature. More to the point, it demonstrates the human propensity to ignore the old adage:  speak less, listen hard. When someone mentions taking the kids to soccer practice and you’re willing and ready to jump the cactus, there’s a definite failure to communicate.

This week’s news didn’t highlight the failure to communicate, but it did cause people to re-think their understanding about what it means “to hear.” Yes, I’m referring to the Laurel/Yanny debate initiated by a Reddit user posing a simple question:  what do you hear? Continue reading “Jumping the Cactus”

Survivors All

Our culture reveres survivors … and rightly so! The stories of concentration camp and holocaust survivors so stir our emotions, we often see these stories turned into movies. The Diary of Anne Frank was produced multiple times. I’m surprised The Hiding Place (from 1975) hasn’t been remade. In 2014, Unbroken was produced and directed by actress Angelina Jolie who deemed the survivor story of Louis Zamperini compelling.

Cancer survivors have their unique stories. Sexual assault survivors reveal horrific tales of abuse and torture. Given the admiration we accord survivors today, marketers exploit our curiosity by producing numerous movies, games and television series with a survival theme. (I must confess my fascination with Alone, now in its third season on the History Channel.) Continue reading “Survivors All”

My Days Are Numbered

Given the bleak title, people may automatically expect to read a wretched tale announcing I’ve contracted a dreadful (probably incurable) illness. Not so for this post, though there’s no avoiding the truth:  my days are numbered.

Frankly, so are yours. Though we try to forget it, we are all mortal. As 2016 wound down and the obits began to stack up, we became ever more cranky reading the list of friends, family, celebs and high-profile individuals whose days had ended, some whose days were seemingly “cut short.” Mortality sucks, doesn’t it?

Bad-temper seems incompatible with ushering in a New Year. Usually, it’s celebrations, parties, champagne and fireworks, plus people flocking to New York City for the Times Square Ball Drop. But this year, people expressed open animosity toward the waning year. A headline from WIRED proclaimed:  Goodbye, 2016. We Couldn’t Take It Anymore. Continue reading “My Days Are Numbered”

Between Friends

Friends don’t let friends drive drunk. You’ve probably heard a version of this message from the Ad Council, a gentle caution for drivers and passengers alike.Friends-Dont-Let-406606-web

I’ve decided a similar message should apply with respect to social media. Maybe something like this:  Friends don’t let friends contrive junk. I know, I know! It’s clunky and doesn’t roll off the tongue as nicely as the Ad Council declaration. But the meaning should resonate.

The sterile contrivance that is social media purports to keep us “connected” to friends and family. In truth, it’s a time-consuming distraction that draws us away from numerous activities and human interactions which once occupied our time and attention.

Social media in its varied applications also tends to work as an echo chamber … a mishmash of individual posts to which others respond by clicking share or like. But for me, the dreaded copy, paste and post if you agree is most exasperating. What if I agree with a post but choose not to copy, paste and post? Is my non-compliance misconstrued? (Oh, dear! What will people think if I don’t comply?) Continue reading “Between Friends”

The Big House

On separate occasions over the last couple weeks, two of my grandchildren have asserted:  “My house is bigger than yours.” Perhaps this is a twenty-first century equivalent to the claim from my era:  my dad is stronger than your dad!strong man

When the five-year old initially made the statement, I gently disagreed with him. “Yes, you live in a big house, but not as large as this one.” Factually, I was correct but this grandson would have none of it. Some weeks later, when my four-year old granddaughter posited the identical suggestion, I admitted the possibility. (She does live in a larger home than the grandson.) Continue reading “The Big House”

Endowed By Our Creator

Today, we celebrate Independence Day, the official 239th birthday of our country, memorialized at the top of our Declaration of Independence.

In our family, we also commemorate this day as the 73rd wedding anniversary of my Beloved’s parents. With grateful hearts and thankfulness to God, we salute both my in-laws’ union and the historic beginnings of our United States.OneNationUnderGod

Supreme Poetaster

Here’s a word that doesn’t get much use these days: Poetaster. One of the memorable ways to define this word – as well as to remember its pronunciation – is to take the word Poet, marry to it the last two syllables of disaster, and you have Poetaster.poetaster-n-s

A Poetaster is simply “an inferior poet, a writer of indifferent verse.” There’s some latitude in the word I think. A Poetaster might be someone who fancies himself (or herself) a fine poet because of a perceived ability to witness flowery and inane rhetoric flowing from his or her pen. By definition, what flows from a poetaster‘s pen is insipid, even foolish. Hence, my personal mnemonic, explained in the first paragraph. Continue reading “Supreme Poetaster”

Image Is Everything

As a genealogy enthusiast, I find the stories of other people (even unrelated) almost as fascinating as the stories I’ve learned about my own ancestors. When the television series Who Do You Think You Are? (WDYTYA?) began in 2010, I thought it was a show I’d enjoy. As a subscriber of Ancestry.com, I figured I might even pick up a few helpful hints to assist me in my own research.ancestry leaves

As the first couple seasons progressed, I found the emphasis on celebrities less interesting but I kept watching … though by the third season (after which NBC cancelled the show), I had tuned out. Yes, I was disappointed. I think my interest might have continued with stories of everyday people hoping to solve the mysteries of their ancestry. As it was, there seemed to be a focus on trips to faraway and exotic places where the research was already completed and all the celebrity had to do was show up and look amazed. Continue reading “Image Is Everything”