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”

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”

Lyin’ Eyes

Written in 1975 by Don Henley and Glenn Frey of the Eagles, the song Lyin’ Eyes was nominated for Record of the Year. In concerts following the song’s release, Henley and Frey shared that the song originated when they witnessed a curious encounter in an LA bar. They imagined the scene as an illicit love affair between the man and woman; soon after, the song was born.lying eyesLyrics from the song came to mind today as I was mulling over revelations about Rachel Dolezal, a prominent civil rights activist and current president of the NAACP in Spokane, Washington. Though most of the song’s lyrics refer to a bar romance, the verse shown below could apply to almost any entanglement in which a woman might find herself.

She wonders how it ever got this crazy …
She thinks about a boy she knew in school.
Did she get tired, or did she just get lazy?
She’s so far gone she feels just like a fool.

In case you’re unaware of the predicament of Rachel Dolezal, you’ll find here and here two articles that fill in the details. Perhaps neither Frey nor Henley could have imagined their lyrics might be tied to such a tangled tale! Continue reading “Lyin’ Eyes”

Fiction As Resume Enhancements

In my first job at the ripe old age of sixteen, I didn’t need a résumé. All I had to do was fill out an application, have an interview with the personnel manager and they hired me! Those were the good ole days when one’s personal presentation generally meant more than a résumé … so there was no need for fiction, no reason to pad my minimal (i.e. non-existent) credentials. Padding my résumé would be a future acquired skill.PaddingResumeThough my experience as a baby-sitter wasn’t a résumé enhancing accomplishment, I’d have had no qualms about highlighting it – it was legit. I had the actual experience. But who among us hasn’t written a rosy résumé featuring skills and experience presented in their most favorable and hyperbolic light?

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Eye For An Eye, Log For A Log

From the time of childhood, we’re admonished not to point fingers at others. Whether it’s because “it’s rude to point” (as my mother often told me) or because a child is trying to shift blame for a misbehavior, pointing one’s finger remains a transgression that’s generally frowned upon … even though it’s a tactic used almost everyday by nearly everyone. Not one of us is immune to hypocrisy.clinton pointed his finger at us_thumb[1]The old saw about finger-pointing … three fingers pointing back at the one who points … occasionally discourages us from engaging our index fingers, but as illustrated above, some ignore that rule of thumb (if I may employ that expression here). The seventeenth anniversary for that infamous denial/finger-pointing event passed just last week. Who has forgotten the strenuous denial, later proven to be laughably false?

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How Much Wood Can A Groundhog Chuck?

Since as early as the 1840s, Groundhog Day has been observed in parts of Pennsylvania. In places like Punxsutawney, Pennsylvania, the observation has become a highly-celebrated tradition, thanks in large part to the Punxsutawney Groundhog Club, which hosts a series of events throughout the weekend.

One of the best things to ever happen to Groundhog Day (in my opinion) was the movie of the same name. It is a great comedy, as well as a unique view of human behavior and change. It wears well and even after multiple viewings, the predicament of the main character still resonates … we identify with Bill Murray’s Everyman.GroundhogDay

A number of my mother’s ancestors hail from Berks County PA where the earliest observations of Groundhog Day took place (in Morgantown PA), so I enjoy knowing something about PA festivals. These are my peeps! However, celebrants in Punxsutawney PA claim their tradition goes back more than a century. Those are not my peeps, though having watched the movie several times, I find their enthusiasm for this event contagious!

Continue reading “How Much Wood Can A Groundhog Chuck?”

Set a Spell

It’s easy to talk about how great education was a generation ago. People do it all the time, and they don’t even have to offer but maybe one or two anecdotes to “prove” what they see as the abysmal condition of education today. Now I’m not going to knock today’s education (nor am I going to compare it to the good ol’ days). I think both eras likely typified instances of excellence and shoddiness … depending on multiple factors.

sometimesIn my case, I’m confident I received a relatively high quality education, though I’d venture to say there were faddish practices embraced in the 1950s and 1960s just as there are today. If I have a complaint, it is that education often becomes captive to trends; I’ve wondered if it’s because teachers get bored teaching the same material every year. Rather than stick with what they know works (can we say phonics?), they eagerly adopt “new, improved” methods. Continue reading “Set a Spell”


My dear mother was released from the hospital yesterday afternoon. (I posted about her recent hospital stay here.) During her time in stir (as it were), she was poked and prodded and put through the usual battery of tests. Considering her recent 88th birthday, hospital staff operate with the standard presumption that she’s lost her wits, so she’s quizzed by everyone who enters her room:  “What’s today’s date? What year is it? What are the names of your children?” She’s usually very patient with the questions, answers them compliantly, but quickly makes known her desire to be at home. (It’s as much like prison for her as it could be … which is why I described her being in stir.)hospital-patient-elderly

Mom is used to the hospital routine because before her blindness set her back, she’d been a long-term hospital volunteer. (She loved it!) Additionally, her history of past TIAs and hospital stays due to DVT has made her familiar with some of the staff and several of the physicians.

When she and I finally had a chance to talk by phone (in between repeated interruptions of hospital personnel coming in to speak with her), she told me she’d actually been sitting in her doctor’s office (for a routine visit) when nonsense word salad poured forth from her lips. The doctor observed for a bit and then excused herself to consult a nearby neurologist. Soon thereafter, Mom was checked into the hospital.

Because of her blindness, the normal hospital television remote is a challenge for Mom. She can’t see well enough to watch the programs, so the noise coming from it bothers her. When she thinks she’s pushing the “Off” button, she’s actually hitting the “Call” button, unintentionally summoning every nurse on the floor to race toward her room! (Apparently, this happened more than once during her short stay!) There’s another down-side for my mom in connection with the “Call” button:  if she really needed help, she’d likely have trouble finding the right button! These are the kinds of challenges from blindness she’s encountered over the last five years.

Continue reading “Breakout”

Hole Cloth

If you recognize the object pictured below, you probably hail from an older era or your hobby is related in some way to hand-crafts or antiques. This unique little object is a stunning example of an early 20th century darning egg. I love unusual objects like this one, and I must confess my amazement that this extraordinary example of bygone days was once an important tool in the sewing box of the expert seamstress. This particular darning egg looks nicely used.


I’ve never personally owned a darning egg. In my younger years, I occasionally darned a sock or two by hand, using a randomly selected hard object, whatever was close at hand. As time went by, pieces of clothing that required darning languished in my sewing box. Perhaps if I’d had a tool like this, I’d have been more adept at darning.

Eventually, I learned to maneuver my sewing machine (with a special plate attached) to perform machine darning. By machine, the stitches were better, tighter and my fingertips didn’t suffer from repeated poking by a needle. (Occasionally, I’d work without a thimble! Argh!)  If I’d ever wished for a darning egg, I dismissed it in favor of my machine-applied repairs.

But again, the effort to repair clothing by darning fell out of favor. Like many of my peers, I decided it was cheaper to replace clothing items and preferable to repairing them. Don’t get me wrong. I continued to hoard items in a so-called “mending basket” fully intending to repair them at some future date … a time that has (to date) never arrived. (Talk about delusional, huh?)

If memory serves me correctly, I must also admit my failure to teach my daughters (or my sons) how to wield needle and thread for darning. I taught my girls to sew (by hand and by machine) and taught my boys to sew on buttons, etc. The boys ran a few seams on the sewing machine, but quickly declared their distaste for further instructions in “girls’ work.Continue reading “Hole Cloth”

Bucking the System

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The innocence of youth is always refreshing to observe. Back in June, I posted about my grandson’s perspective when he discovered a cache of coins on the bathroom counter. He was instantly convinced the coins belonged to him and he expressed the belief it was his “lucky day.”

The incident was amusing and reminds me how perfectly happy little children are without an understanding of money and value. Everything is valuable and because they don’t quantify paper into denominations, cash money is just another non-essential product. Further, if you offer a child a nickel or a dime, he or she will likely take the nickel because it’s larger. Value is irrelevant.

I was reminded of this incident with our grandson when my Beloved told me about a similar incident with his mom a couple weeks ago. The two of them were sitting together at her apartment. My mother in law reached for some papers on the table and flashed them at my Beloved. The papers were a stack of “Razorbuck$” which she’d been collecting. She looked at her son and flashed a wide grin, saying, “I’m rich! I’m really rich.

Razorbuck$ are one of the popular ways in which this particular assisted living facility rewards their residents and keeps them involved in the various programs of the facility. If a resident (1) discovers a number on their chair at lunch, or (2) answers a question correctly in one of the trivia games, or (3) wins at bingo, the resident is rewarded … they earn one or more Razorbuck$. Eventually, those Razorbuck$ may be redeemed for an item in the facility’s periodic auctions. One of the goals of this reward process is trying to keep the residents engaged and feeling appreciated. Continue reading “Bucking the System”