Monday, May 31, 2010

Hazy, smoky air

This morning was beautiful, sunny, brilliant sky, very mild breeze. Toward noon I looked up from the sewing I was doing and saw a haze in the air. Last Sunday when I walked on the beach there was a thicker haze at the ocean's horizon and in the late afternoon it was visibly rolling in -- clouds of mist, rather romantic looking.

I did not know until I went to the store and heard others talking that the haze is not fog, it is smoke from wild fires in central Quebec. Since I do not have a TV and do not, therefore, watch weather on TV, nor listen to news either, I did not know there were wildfires in Canada. I do not remember ever hearing of wildfires there before. I am not without news. I read the NY Times, online during the week, and my AOL home page has capsules of news. But I'm feeling very out of touch.

On the other hand I'm wondering if Americans ignore what's going on in Canada -- until the smoke begins drifting our way. The fires have been blazing a while but there was not a word in this morning's Times and nothing on AOL's news. I know Canadians sometimes feel like the forgotten people of North America. If that is because they are a peaceful, law abiding [for the most part] quiet people good for them. Since I have no respiratory problems the haze is just a visual matter for me. But I like to keep up with the news. I certainly know about the BP oil spill in the gulf, and about the violent tropical storm -- maybe not actually a hurricane but much like one -- in Guatemala. I much prefer news about such things even if they don't affect me in any direct way, than about which television actress is having a baby or getting divorced.

Saturday, May 29, 2010

Saturday Summary #2

Random things I've learned this week:

There are 5,274 active farmers markets in the US. [Maybe one near you.]

A thirteen-year old boy has become the youngest person to summit Mr. Everest. [It's all downhill hereafter.]

In one three-day period the German Roman Catholic hotline for victims of sexual abuse was overwhelmed with 13,292 phone calls.

The chemical methyl metacrylate is in short supply. It is necessary for the white paint used for the center lines of highways. [So a highway near you might not get it's center line repainted in the near future. Drive carefully.]

Only the top numbers of the most recent population figures for the whole world that I have come across: total population 66,817 billion people. Chinese people, 1,330 billion, Indian people,1,173 million, in USA, 310 million. Of course these numbers change by the second.

Researchers a geolocators with which they can tag birds to follow their migrations which weight less than two grains of rice. [The locaters,not the birds.]

Friday, May 28, 2010

No Old Cat Lady I

Avoiding age related stereotypes is not always easy, one has to be on the look out all the time especially when one's hair is white and younger people with well constructed mental images abound. Plus I am always aware of avoiding doing the stereotypical -- which is especially hard when my most serious hobby is quilting. Who quilts? Those who live with stereotypes instead of experience think it is little old ladies. [They are quite wrong most of the time.]

And what kind of stories are little white haired ladies likely to write? Of course, sweet "I remember, kiddies, when I was your age..." stories or -- stories about golden retrievers or darling cats and, of course adorable grandchildren. All these I have avoided, not so much consciously but because it's not what I am interested in reading or writing. In fact I am, by my own defintition, not a short story writer. But in the last year I've become a short story writer somewhat by happenstance. Swap-bot, a site I enjoy for the swaps [what else? and some camaraderie among those over 50] offers writing swaps which usually start with a prompt of some type and require either a poem or a short story. Consequently I have written several of each and I'm getting the knack of the short story.

The current swap's prompt is in the form of two sentences chosen at random from a book and sent, with no context, to a partner to be the inspiration of a story. Alas and alack! I was sent two sentences the day before yesterday that inspired a story with a cat as a main character. I had an idea that the main event would be the birth of kittens. I resisted this impulse for about 24 hours. I don't write that kind of thing! Not me, no way. So this morning, after breakfast, before I even got out of my pajamas I sat down and wrote a 2500 word short story about a cat who has kittens. Yuck! It's a really sweet story. I amused myself with an arch kind of tone and choice of words of too many syllables to put it in the children's category. No, it's more of an adult parable but a disgustingly gentle and sweet one. And I greatly enjoyed writing it.

What the hell? Should I give in and admit that despite periods of considerable grumpiness, as has been evident in a few recent posts here, I really am a rather sweet white haired lady? I have written that I enjoy surprises both in writing and in quilting. I will admit that in fact, this morning's outpouring of feline "ah, gee!"- ness was a surprise that I enjoyed.

Thursday, May 27, 2010

Paul: The Mind of the Apostle

The author of this book about Paul, A.N. Wilson, is a British historian and academic. He treats Paul like any other citizen of the Roman world and delves into what is actually known about Paul and his milieu, social, political, economic. The subtitle, "The Mind of the Apostle" is not very accurate. Wilson makes a few psychological suppositions, especially in the early part of the book, having to do with Saul's conversion into Paul, but always with many qualifiers. He certainly realizes we cannot know the mind of a person about whom only scant basic facts are known. I was surprised, however, how much is known about historical events and people of 2,000 years ago, and by the political texture of the Middle East.

From the several Google entries about this book, many people objected to Wilson's ideas and definitely don't want to try to see Paul in this historic context, nor are they interested in Wilson's suppositions about either Paul's letter writing or about Luke's gospel and it's accuracy or inaccuracy. Wilson is not a particularly graceful writer so reading his repetitions and suppositions and keeping straight what was fact and what not was difficult

But I learned a lot about the Roman world and about historic events, the progression of the rulers, none of which had have ever studied in a consistent way. Traveling is indeed mentally broadening. I have been to Ephesus and Myra, to Corinth and Jerusalem and learned some Roman history through those places. I think many, like me, who grew up reading the Christian Bible as a religious object and perhaps later learned a little Roman history in a broad kind of way and perhaps supplemented it with some Latin and a touch of Shakespeare, can fill in a few obvious gaps in our understanding by reading a book like this.

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Crativity is not all fun

Drudgery exists. It engenders negativity and self-doubt. It produces eventual results and sometimes reaps rewards. Why am I nattering about the obvious? I've reached the point in writing the novel I've been working on for months, when I'm doing line editing. Trying to see the missed period, the not that should be now, the in that should be on, and making some larger changes too -- like the page of text that had to be moved somewhere but where? It took two days to solve that and of course meant rewriting both where it disappeared and where it went. So it goes.

In my other blog [Calenderpages], I often complain of the drudgery of the final quilting, the binding. It always takes longer than expected. Ugh -- a long periods exists when the creative part is finished but the project is not finished. Drudgery! So I'm complaining this morning and wondering if it's worth the effort. As I always think, when a quilt is done an object exists that will be useful. Not so a manuscript. It may be seen by very few and most of them might not particularly like it. It might have been a waste of time. But it's my craft, my creation and I now have more options than formerly, that is, in terms of last ditch efforts. Publishing on demand is not longer entirely demeaning [but somewhat at least in my eyes]. So I pull up my socks and slog on.

Monday, May 24, 2010

Wild Roses on the Beach

Summer is most of a month away but the wild roses on the beach are in fresh, full flower, red, pink and white. A few years ago I wrote this prose=y sort of poem about them.

Well able the wave-washed ribbon of sand, among
the tough dune grasses but before the hearty
shoreline trees, thorny wild roses spread low.
Their meager diet comes from what soil lines within
and beneath the drifting dune. The salty sea winds
have forced the roses to flatten their tangles
like a scouring pad, impenetrable except
to small flying or crawling creatures.
In August their fat, red hips are storage vats
for vitamin C for the few who use them for tea.
Amid the dangerous bramble the plenteous hips
glow like glass balls hung on Christmas trees,
festive and not so fragile, the shell-hard skin
is polished by the wind blown sand
to a gilded crimson -- choruses of hallelujahs.

Saturday, May 22, 2010

Saturday Summary

I'm going to start a Saturday "feature". I read a lot and pile up all kinds of information in my head and rarely find a way to work it into ordinary every day conversation. So on Saturdays I'm going to dump my info for anyone who is curious. Starting today.

A cat burglar, caught on surveillance film, stole five paintings from the Paris Museum of Modern Art, including a Picasso and a Matisse. Alarms did not go off.

Rover spacecraft has been on Mars for 2307 Earth days, which is 2245 sols of Mars days. This is more than six years.

Ma Yaehai, a Chinese professor of computer science who lives in a two room apartment with his mother who has Alzheimer's disease, was arrested for having arranged 18 orgies in his apartment within the last two years. It seems partner swapping and orgies are very prevalent in China.

A 1794 US silver dollar, thought to be the first one ever struck in the US, was purchased [by whom, unreported] for $7.85 million.

The Dalai Lama visiting in New York City was able to speak live to approximately 8,000 Chinese on Twitter, thanks to a Chinese man recently turned Buddhist, who translated for him. Twitter is banned in China but many people hack into it anyway.

Anecdotal evidence says that taking two tablespoons of pureed asparagus each morning and evening will cure many kinds of cancer. There was no report of oncologists going out of business.

New news next Saturday.

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

Everyman, PHilip Roth

For many years I have avoided reading Philip Roth. His early books seemed to be whiny and obsessed with sex in a way that possibly was new in the 1960 but is now ho-hum. It seemed to me I could spend my time reading authors who are more interesting. But Roth has persevered and keep getting awards. And a friend whose taste I generally respect likes him and thought I should be more open minded.

So when Everyman was recently remaindered by Dedalus Books I bought it and have just read it and I have not changed my mind. He's still whining. He's writing about a very narrow man who has extreme physical problems and seems unaware that advanced peritonitis surely has such serious symptoms that only a moron would ignore them to near death -- likewise the effects of heart disease so severe it requires quadruple by surgery. I cannot believe or care about his main charater who is lead by his inability to stay in love with a loving woman and goes off with a stupid much younger one. To read a lot of fiction written by Jewish authors of the late 20ths century it seems no man is able to see a woman as a full human being and is a slave to his penis. Sorry guys. I don't believe it. I am beginning to thinl that Jewish men may have stronger sex drives and less good sense about women than men of other ethnic groups -- maybe it's a tribal [race is the wrong word, we're told] thing that has made it possible for Jews to continue as an ethnic group for some 3,000 years of general persecution.

But I don't think that's what Roth is writing about. He's got an old man who gets what he deserves at the end of his life, loneliness, boredom, and despair. I don't like this character, I don't empathize with him and I don't learn anything from him as he didn't learn anything from life. I wasted part of three or four evenings reading the book and will pay attention to my gut feelings about such authors in the future.

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

The Friendship Quilts

This post is not about quilts. It is about writing. The Friendship Quilts is the name of the novel I finished yesterday. Finished the third draft which was largely a matter editing. Part of the reason I have lately been so concentrated on bad grammar and bad writing is that I've been fighting that battle with myself for two months now. I care about how sentences read; I know I sometimes write weak sentences. I have been weeding out "waffle" phrases that make statements less clear than they should be. I sometimes don't think clearly enough to make paragraphs coherent. Rewriting of this sort is much slower than the original writing. In the first draft the story is simply flowing; in this draft I stop, start, rewrite, reconsider, words, commas, phrases.

I fight the simple blind spots, the typos that are so easy to overlook when the fingers have typed in instead of on, than instead of then, when a comma has been left out or a quotation mark. These matter. Very lucky people have careful, erudite secretaries; most writers have to do it themselves. [I envy those the men who have dedicated wives who take on that role.] This kind of "writing" is drudgery but it is also an opportunity to buff the hardwood floor and make it shine.

Of course I do not know that the novel tells the story perfectly. [Is it linoleum instead of hardwood?] I know I have blind spots. Perhaps sometime I'll be told by an agent or editor "This doesn't work" -- about only certain sections, not the whole, I fervently hope.

The novel makes me happy because it came quickly and seems a gift I have given myself for so many years of working at and caring about the writer's craft. The story, the characters, spewed forth like a decorative fountain turned on after being turned off during the winter. An apt analogy because I had not worked on a novel for probably ten or twelve years. And now --? Well, actually, I must read through once more because of those sneaky hidden typos [and, as I find them, no doubt I'll find other missed opportunities to be clearer]. But beyond the novel now comes the part I hate: trying to write a good synopsis and a good query and then the waiting and then the rejection. Then an amended query and another rejection ... after a while, maybe a tentative "maybe" or even "yes" ... or not ...

If I make a quilt, when the binding is on and the label too, I can sleep under it and stay warm. I can share the novel with friends who will say nice things and I will appreciate their kindness but my goal has always been to communicate with strangers from whom I expect nothing but that they read what I write. I am always happy to give away my quilts, they are usually accepted with gratitude. The world is such that giving away a novel is almost impossible, and so the rejections ... sigh.

Sunday, May 16, 2010

Reading and Writing, to hell in a handbasket

If you write without punctuation, no periods, commas, apostrophes, if you do not know the difference between their, there and they're, if you do not know that an apostrophe indicates possessive nouns [do you know what a noun is?], can you comprehend anything you read? This thought has been haunting me since I read that transcript mentioned a couple of posts ago. I presume people who write so badly read very little. But in our society some reading is necessary. Even more to the point, if you do not know that communication is done in sentences, can you actually understand what others say to you and can you think clearly enough to function well socially or in a job? Are education academics asking these question when they emphasize testing students but not via their writing ability? I'm not surprised a garbled phonetic spelling makes up most text messages -- will those young people whose only written communication and reading is in this form of texting ever be able to read a newspaper or write a business report? [Oops, sorry, I forgot, business reports these days are Power Point presentations and those have bullet points, not sentences.]

I'm aware the certain levels of a-literacy [to make up an inadequate word for people who supposedly are literate but can't write a sentence] has been around a long time and that even illiterate people function -- but have an extremely difficult time. Imagine being a truck driver entering a large city and being unable to read highway signs! When I was growing up I went to a very small rural school. In many classes students sat in an alphabetic arrangement. So from 1st through 12th I often sat by a boy named Eddie. He was not dumb although he was lazy and he did not pay much attention to teachers and probably copied test answers from my papers part of the time. I remember that our 12th grade English teacher was talking about grammar and I was horribly bored because I had learned grammar basics in about the 6th grade. But that day, when we were about to graduate, Eddie whispered to me, "What's a verb?" This has stuck with me because my opinion of him took a deep dive at that moment. He's a dunce, I thought. He'll come to no good end. He didn't.

I'm told by my daughter who works at a superior charter school that the students in her school have to do a great deal of writing. The school's goal is that every graduate will be able to get into college and they prove their ability on exams. Still she says many write badly. She believes many young people graduate from other schools in the area -- an affluent area -- unable to write any better than the abysmal transcriptionist of that interview.

This is one of my "hell in hand basket" scenarios. As I get older I more and more often see things that make me think this or that is going to hell in a hand basket -- literacy, American civil rights, the environment, the fitness level of junk food eaters -- oh, I could go on and on. I'm told it comes with gray hair and liver spots on the hands. I think it comes with caring and looking seriously at the world in which we live.

Friday, May 14, 2010

In Praise of the Stepmother

Mario Vargas Llosa, the Peruvian novelist, is a man I'd love to meet. I've read a quite a few of his novels, liked some more than others, of course. My favorite is, I think, not generally a favorite of critics. The Story Teller takes place in the Amazon among a primitive tribe. It explores the importance of the story teller in a simple society. Most of his books are set in Lima or elsewhere in Peru and often have a politics as part of the plot -- after all he actually ran for President of Peru at one point -- but wasn't elected. I think he may have run against Fujimoro and surely could have been a better President.

I've just finished what is really an erotic novella, In Praise of the Stepmother. It was a quick and easy read with somewhat more attention to the husband's bathroom routines that I needed to know. The step-son is an unbelievably angelic child and causes major trouble. Enough of the plot except that it has a nice novelistic twist at the end, almost Jamesian. Llosa is a very handsome man, perhaps a bit older than I ... yes, I would enjoy meeting him.

Thursday, May 13, 2010

White Coat Effect

I'm not sure about my memory but I think I read in last Sunday's NYTimes that Massachusetts has the highest healthcare cost of anywhere -- not just in the US, but in the world. This sounds outlandish but it seems to me, today, that it could be true. I had a simple appointment with my cardiologist, the purpose of which was to tell me the outcome of a carotid ultrasound since I'd complained of dizziness and he wondered if my brain was getting it's necessary blood supply. He also changed my diuretic and my dizziness ceased. So I almost called to cancel the ultrasound but having never had the test and being officially diagnosed as a person with congestive heart disease -- and those congested arteries could be carotids as well as heart arteries and lead to much feared strokes, I wanted some reassurance that the blood was flowing properly to the good old brain.

The technician did an EKG ["it's routine" said she]. and after a five minute wait in walked the august M.D. who said, "Hi how are you?" with the intonation of a grocery store check out person. He wasn't asking "how are you?" as my doctor. He gave me a limp hand shake, glanced at the EKG read out and the slightly high blood pressure reading [it's always high in the doctor's office, I have what's known as white coat syndrome"]. He listened to my heart and I breathed as he told me to do. He told me the carotid ultrasound was normal with some "lumps and bumps", talked about prescriptions briefly and said goodbye. All this transpired in less than five very impersonal minutes.

He will be paid by Medicare and I will receive a bill in a couple of weeks for an additional $50 for my "encounter..." This means that I will be paying, on top of the Medicare, $10 a minute for a bit of information that could have been delivered by phone or email. Yes, perhaps it is good to have BP and EKG at regular intervals; when one is almost 73 it's assuring to know that the ticker is tick-tocking as it should be. Back in NYC I did not receive an extra bill on top of Medicare -- why does it cost that much more in Massachusetts? I am a "healthy" patient; I wonder what people with problems have to pay. Oh, joy. I now have six months before we repeat the same routine again. Ia Big Brother looking after me or am I just muddling along, mostly doing the healthy things and deteriorating at a comfortably slow rate.

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

More about ignorance

Yesterday's ignorance [mine] was alleviated by some helpful readers of my blog. Today I came face-to-face with an example of ignorance that has me muttering in consternation.

Several weeks about I was interviewed by a young woman [not SO young, she is in her early 30s], a nursing student at the community college. The psychology teacher had her students interview older people. A good idea. The students transcribed their recordings. I worked as a professional transcriber for over 25 years so I know it can be difficult to catch just what is said [but much less difficult if you were the interviewer]. This young woman seemed generally bright enough, a bit awkward as an interviewer but then it's not a familiar position for most people. She was friendly and thoughtful toward me.

The transcript is a mind boggling mess bordering on illiterate. In a half page of single spaced typescript [supposedly a paragraph] the words run on with out a period, comma, capital letter or any other punctuation. Apparently the homonym there/their/they're are all the same and may be spelled any of those ways without regard to meaning. Apostrophes do not exist in either contractions of possessives, know and now and no are interchangeable -- those are only the immediately noticeable problems. Some parts are impossibly garbled and proper names of places are neither capitalized nor spelled correctly. At a few points I cease being June and become Jean.

This makes me worry about young people today. On an Internet social site I frequent I find young women from college students up into thirties, maybe forties, who also don't know their/there/they're or two/to/too or other very common, and easily spelled words. Granted punctuation can be problematic [that's why the Word program has a grammar check function] but surely students must learn early in their schooling that sentences exist and are denoted with capitals at the beginning and periods at the end. Woe is me! Is writing in general going to hell in hand basket? Didn't this girl ever have to write assignments in school? Will anybody teach college students at least what a sentence looks like on the page?

Monday, May 10, 2010

Ignorant and a bit baffled

Lately, the last month or so, a number of comments have been left on my blogs, both of them, in an Asian script. I am so ignorant I don't know if it's Japanese or Korean. Somehow it doesn't look Chinese. I LOVE comments on my bogs and LOVE knowing someone is reading them. But I am totally ignorant of even how to speak an Asian language, let alone how to read its script. I'm baffled about why suddenly these comments are appearing when, over a few preceding years, I never got comments in a foreign language. So we add to ignorant and baffled, frustrated because I don't know of a program or how to use any such program to translate these comments. Obviously I cannot respond in any way but this note.

Saturday, May 8, 2010

Moose Dreams

Leslie, my older daughter, is a bit of addle about moose. In a week in Yellowstone and Grand Tetons we looked and looked for moose, got up at 5:00 a.m. to search reported feeding grounds. On the last day finally saw one -- young, no antlers but sizable and imperturbable.

Reading a back issue of Poetry I came upon this poem by William Johnson:

Moose Deams

There are times when all the chutzpa I
can muster isn't enough, guf and bluster
all I can do, and damned if it doesn't
just stand there,legs straddling
a berm of washboard dust ruts
and in late noon sun stare me
blue in the face; lord, we could almost
trade places, my back strained
by the weight of those great bone wings,
my tongue itching for lily roots.
And musk, lord, the pheromones,
a day so sweet with elderberry's too rank
fume. I could die twice over snuffling.
While the truck mumbles and a trout spanks
the cooler, I almost outdo myself.
But reason, that too-convenient shortcut,
creeps back, if only so far; the rest as we say
is silence, dust and sputter of flies
and when lumbering to go, it pauses
and throws me its last worst look
its sorrow is Christ's dewlap,
jeweled, a beatitude of moss.

Friday, May 7, 2010

Walking with the Fiddler crabs

As I have written before my usual walk is on a spit of land about a mile long [Long Beach -- surprising name?] with the ocean on the south side and an inlet of a small creek on the other. The creek side has areas of salt marsh. The path is beside the water only a quarter of the way and otherwise a narrow beaten path in the marsh. All along the path and beside it are neat round holes -- homes of the fiddler crabs. The picture above is actually on my track. The picture below is from Wikipedia so you can see the strange, awkward looking single claw of these little creatures. In the past two weeks they have been out by the hundreds, scurrying along, diving into their holes at footfall, if they are near enough, otherwise swarming into the marsh grass.
I have just read the Wiki entry and was reminded of what I had been told [or maybe I read] before. Only the males have the claw. Which means I see about twice as many females as males. The ones I see are about an inch and a half long and the majority seem to be the same size.

Not stepping on them takes concentration. So far as I know I have not stepped on any but sometimes I take to the grassy areas to avoid the thick swarms on the path and worry that I am stepping on ones hiding under the grass. My intentions are to walk without harming them. They are not pretty or endearing but they are clearly sensate creatures eager to survive and they seem to be thriving. I don't know if they have natural enemies. I have never seen a bird trying to eat one. Perhaps they are protected by their claws and shells and have too little meat on their surely very tiny bodies to be worth eating if you're a gull or plover.

Many people find creatures of this size and general ugliness repulsive or just icky. Rachel doesn't like to see them at all and I've warned her against walking that path around midday. I am not repulsed by them and somewhat curious about their lives. The majority of their holes are covered with water when the tide is high, so when the tide is low what are they looking for on the land? Are they mating this time of year? Are there tiny insects that they eat or is it plant material that is their diet? I'll have to explore the Wiki references one of these days.

When I walk their presence forces me to focus on my footsteps. That is a good thing, for I can walk beside the ocean on the other side of the spit and become lost in reverie and barely hear the wash of the waves -- letting those chattering monkeys of the mind take over when awareness would be soothing and peaceful. I even find it peaceful to share the path with the crabs.

Wednesday, May 5, 2010

The brackish water as Icr

April's poetry posting has become a habit a bit hard to break. Here's a short one by Wendy Videlock, "There's Nothing More"

There's nothing more
erotic than

one red

Chilean plum
slumbered in

the brown palm
of the curved

hand of the right

A friend recently send me a couple of back issues of Poetry Journal and that poem was in it. Short and sweet, punny how sweet. [Sorry the picture is mangoes and not plums.]

There was also an essay about the Canadian poet Daryl Hine who also spent a period of his life in the US as editor of Poetry Journal. This is the first stanza of his poem "Don Juan in Amsterdam"

This also is a place which love is known in,
The hollow land beneath a lifeless sea
Remote from whatever region he was born in,
How far it is impossible to say.
The brackish water as I crossed
A bridge was delicately created
And stained and stale, like love-disordered linen.

I'm glad he gave the place in the title, it makes references here clear, otherwise I wouldn't be sure what he was talking about or where he was. For me it's important to know such things. It's a wonderful thing to go to the mailbox and come back with a hand full of poetry and thoughts about poetry.

Tuesday, May 4, 2010

What is Wrong with US (us?)?

Are we talking about throwing out all the constitutional rights? Now I read there are people who think an American citizen who is a "suspect" of a terrorist act [the unexploded car bomb near Times Square] should not have been read his Miranda rights. Should we now start water boarding him to find out what he knows about other terrorist activities? Some people apparently would answer yes.

For many years we have had to read mafia hit men their Miranda rights when they are captured. They surely could lead us to other criminals, perhaps could give information that would save lives. But no one has suggested they should not be read their Miranda rights. The man -- who at this point is a suspect, not a convicted terrorist -- became an American citizen a year ago. A great many [unfortunately and sadly] American citizens carry out acts of terror whether they bomb federal buildings in Oklahoma or go into a classroom or some other public place and begin shooting people. We read them their Miranda right, if they haven't been killed by the police.

The American Constitution provides for fair treatment whether it is a Mafiosi, a psychotic teen, or a madman who sends letter bombs but since 9/11 we've acted as if terrorists are not human beings acting on beliefs no more dangerous than those of Timothy McVee or the kids who walked into Columbine high school and began shooting. The Constitution does not provide for a double standard -- although we lived with a double standard [for black and white] for most of this country's history. I am appalled at John McCain and anyone who agrees with him that this man should not have been read the Miranada rights?

Sunday, May 2, 2010

Eternal Life?

Another question that will be asked of the panel I mentioned yesterday [senior citz talking to a class of nursing students who interviewed us during the past few months] is "if you could live forever would you? Why, or why not:?" I will be interested in others' answers and I have a feeling many will say no. I could be wrong. I've thought about it, "forever" of course is a very long time but in such a question one doesn't deal with little oddities like money or arthritis. The question is about our relationship with the world -- the whole big world, not just the relatively few people we know or the small portion of it we have experienced.
My answer would be yes. My reason would be that what we call civilization is really not very old in forever and geologic terms. We tend to think we're come a long way and certainly we've managed to learn a lot, invent a lot, and procreate a lot. But I think we have a long way to go and I would be curious how it works out. I think there are many mysteries to be unraveled, much to know about the world and it's physical laws, about ancient peoples, about every other form of life on the planet. Much technology will be invented. And, most interestingly, we humans will learn much about ourselves, individual potential, and how to live together. We will eventually have to learn to live without war, we will have to learn how to colonize other planets or to restrict our reproduction if we are to sre to survive on Earth. Very, very much will have to change just to remain viable in our numbers on a finite planet. I wonder how that will happen. I wonder about many, many things that I will certainly not learn the answers to in the finite life I have ahead. That will be my answer; I suspect it will be one of a kind but I don't really know ... Does anyone else have a view on this?

Saturday, May 1, 2010


I moved from NYC to Cape Cod exactly a year ago. I had no real idea what I was doing or what life would be like here. Oh, I'd been here often, Rachel and family live here. But I was starting a new life. I knew about doing things on my own, I had plenty to fill my time [writing, books, quilting, piano, exercise].

To my surprise I found I have skills I did not know I had and that the bothersome [I won't way painful for it wasn't really] shyness of much younger years was gone. I had learned some of life's lessons about getting involved, going to some effort to make connections and above all I knew I did not want to stagnate with little mental stimulus beyond the challenge of writing a book I've been researching for years. I resolved those problems by becoming involved with the local Academy for Life Long Learning, enjoying courses, teaching a writing course. It's been exhilarating -- seeing DVDs of operas, documentary films, Shakespearean plays, above all meeting many people who also are vital and interesting and very alive in the last third or quarter of their lives. Closer ties with family has been warm and with the astonishing addition of a great-grand child -- astonishing not for any physiological reason but the psychological ah-ha of aging being physicalized by a new human being.

I have some questions to answer later in the week [I'll post about most of it then] the first of which is "What is your definition of successful aging?" I've thought of an answer; To reach 70+/- and find that your bucket list is fairly short and that everything on it is gravy. If that's the case you have lived a fulfilled life. More may be good [getting that book written and published] but not attaining it would be only disappointment, not regret, and so on with places I would like to travel. It's going to be a week of thoughtfulness due to a panel discussion Tuesday so I'll come back this general topic.