Monday, December 24, 2012

The Quick Fix

We are a nation of quick fixes, and that is one reason why the issue of Sandy Hook, Columbine, and others have taken place.  Think about it for a moment.  Rather than find the reason for things that are wrong, we immediately jump to the quick fix rather than find the reason why.  For example, if you go to the doctor with a pain, they prescribe a pill rather than find the reason for the pain.

However, according to Michael Moore, there are three others; poverty, fear/racism, and the fact we are a "me" nation.  A lot of what he says makes a great deal of sense and I believe in many aspects he is right, especially about the fear thing. I have blogged about this before and I firmly believe it is one of the main reasons our nation experiences more instances of gun violence than any other nation in the world.

All of those things cannot be fixed quickly and will take time - possibly generations of time - before anything is changed and we see a difference.  But I believe if our country is to move forward we need to implement things that will make a change now.  So for Christmas and for your New Year's resolution maybe look at how you can take steps to turn things around.  If you want to keep the reason for the season in your heart, you have to make room by removing hate. Have a Merry Christmas and Happy New Year.

Monday, December 17, 2012

School Daze

The news of the events in Newtown CT saddened me like no other event has.  I have not been able to stop crying since I heard about it.  It is as if my own child was involved in the shooting and I am overcome with emotion every time I hear coverage.  Things like this just should not happen.  Little children should not be mowed down by gunfire.  School should be a safe environment where learning and happy memories take place. However, in this country more and more gun related violent acts are occurring at an alarming rate.

I cannot say that it is the lack of gun laws that is causing this, but I do admit that there is something lacking somewhere.  I am not a gun owner and have no real reason to have one.  I have participated in target practice and found it to be fun, like anyone else. But frankly firearms frighten me, I suppose because I know the deadly consequences of pointing a gun in the wrong direction.  I quite honestly don't think I could kill a person no matter how badly they may have hurt me or how much I dislike the person.  I guess it is just not in my nature to feel those things.  For that reason I can't put myself in a position to understand what goes through those people's heads.  I suppose one could call me a pacifistic, except I have a horrible temper.

Despite the laws these guns are getting into the wrong hands.  Despite the laws, people are getting shot every day for every type of reason.  I firmly believe that unlike other countries, our culture is one that relishes power in any type, and frankly that is what guns provide.  I read a book a while ago called The Culture of Fear. The author examines our fear and determines we are unique because of it. Along those lines, Michael Moore's video, Bowling for Colombine suggests that because of this culture America is obsessed with guns.  Both of these sources have helped me understand why guns are so desired, but neither of them suggest what can be done. I know that because of the Newtown CT incident that there will be much talk about gun control and gun rights.  The same thing happened after the West Virginia Tech event, the Aurora CO incident, and the Tucson AZ incident.  I only hope that this time something will come of all that talk.

Wednesday, December 12, 2012


12-12-12. It is the last repetitive date we will see in our lifetime. I didn’t think of that, one of my friends on Facebook did and it is totally correct.  Not until 2101 will we see this again. We had other repetitive dates in our lifetime and my favorite was 01-01-01.  I don’t know why but it was.  I suppose because it was my first and on is always in love with their first.
I don’t know if anything special will happen on this day.  I checked online and found that today’s date is a polygon and if we were to have a name for the numbers then it would be called ‘trihectatetracontaheptagon’ day. The US president was William Howard Taft (Republican), "Never Again, Never!", directed by Lewin Fitzhamon, was one of the most successful movies released in 1912. Henry Armstrong, a boxing great, was born on that day but otherwise nothing special happened. So in history this day holds no significance other than the arrangement of the numbers in the date.
The number 12 itself has significance and there are many instances listed in the Wikipedia article about the number.  There are 12 months of the year, there were 12 disciples of Christ, there are 12 days of Christmas, there are 12 hours marked on the clock, In Hinduism, the sun god Surya has 12 names, there are 12 Petals in Anahata (Heart Chakra.), there are the Twelve Labours of Hercules, and 12 of anything is called a dozen. There are several other items of significance for the number in various disciplines; sports, films, technology, and the Bible.  If something memorable does happens today then so be it, but for all intent and purposes it is just an ordinary day. UPDATE: Another cool site talks about all the repetitive dates.

Wednesday, December 5, 2012


In the beginning of this year, I came into work after a long weekend to find a calendar on my desk.  There was no note as to who it was from and no one claimed the gift when I asked around.  The calendar features pigs in various costumes and settings, some of which are very amusing. December’s pig is dressed like Scarlett O’Hara complete with a grand staircase behind her and posed on a suitcase featuring stickers from various destinations all over the world.  I looked at the picture today after flipping the page to this month (I know, I was late) and considered the world of stickers.
Children love stickers.  When I was working on the campaign last year we went to an outdoor festival and the children were clamoring for the campaign stickers we had.  I guess they may associate them with rewards and get a good feeling from them.  But adults like stickers too and some even collect them.  I guess I like stickers too but I don’t go crazy over them.  I somewhat collect political stickers and put them on a clipboard that I use for campaigning.  It matches the collection I have of political buttons I suppose.  The buttons are displayed in my guest room and a few are stored in a overflow box decorated with patriotic stars and stripes.
I suppose bumper stickers are stickers for adults. I used to think they were really tacky and had resisted putting any on my car until recently.  I still will not put a bumper sticker on the bumper, but I have a few on the rear window.  I like magnets more for the car.  I have two magnets on the car but I have a lot on my fridge and a few in my office cubicle.  I get a magnet whenever I travel and it sort has become a thing for me to do now.  But stickers to me are too temporary and once one peels them off they are no good to put back on something. Maybe magnets are similar to stickers in a way, but the bottom line is that it is all about a collection, I think. Since the dawn of time humans have been collecting things so maybe that’s where the fascination comes from.  Humans are often funny creatures.

Monday, December 3, 2012

Date Night

I follow several blogs online.  Some are about cooking, some about miniature building, and some are about gardening.  The other day I came across a posting for a blog named Not Without Salt, a cooking blog that has some great recipes on it. This particular post talked about something called Eaton Mess, an English dessert that the author took some liberty with. Many of the recipes I read of hers are great and often look wonderful.  I try to replicate some, but often my attempts don’t look as appetizing as hers.  Perhaps as she is an art major, there is a level of artistic skill that I just don’t possess.
The other day she was talking about a date night she spends with her husband.  They have young children and when the children are in bed, they turn their attention to each other and concentrate on their adult world.  I somewhat envy her not because of her young children or her young marriage, but because she has time to enjoy with her husband.  It seems as if I am always doing something outside the home.  I realize that much of these obligations are things that I have taken on myself and I only have me to blame for my lack of time, but I envy the time she talks about where she can spend quality time with her mate.
My husband and I do try to enjoy each other’s company and have done a pretty good job through the 28 years we have been married.  We don’t set up a specific date night, but often one of us will express the need for one realizing we haven’t done one in a while.  We usually leave weekend nights to watch movies on our DVD player, or have a fire in the fire pit, and enjoy a glass of wine at the same time.  I know those evenings don’t result in “sparkling conversation” as my stepfather was fond of saying, but it’s the togetherness that we share.  Our son is grown and flown so we don’t have to worry about him going to bed or worry about when he is coming home (trust me, there is always worry going on about him – well at least on my end), so it’s just the two of us.  But I think we have made the best of our marriage and our partnership through some pretty rough patches in our lives. I agree that it is important to have a date night with your significant other to rekindle the attraction you first felt for each other no matter the path each of you has taken.  It seems like time together away from the world is a piece of the formula that couples are looking for when aiming for a long marriage.

Friday, November 30, 2012


So I didn’t hit the lottery.  Oh well, the dreams were good while they lasted.  I actually very rarely play but after reading an article about the lottery, I just might do it more. 
Of the $2 cost of a Powerball ticket, $1 goes to the prizes and the other dollar is kept by the state lottery organization, said Lingle, who also is executive director of the South Dakota Lottery. After administrative overhead is paid, the remaining amount goes to that state's beneficiary programs.
Some states designate specific expenditures such as education, while others deposit the money in their general fund to help supplement tax revenue
I thought about what I would do if I hit the big one and won $500 million.  While I was thinking about all the groups I would give money to, including my school district, my municipality, and some other organizations I work with, I thought people who hit should share the wealth.  Sure there are taxes taken out and I believe the states who sell the winning tickets probably get a big share of that winner’s taxes, but it occurred to me that people who win lotteries pretty much keep the money for themselves where they should be helping others with it.  I have heard terrible stories of people committing suicide or spending it all on liquor, drugs, prostitutes, and fast cars.  I am sure there are plenty more who spend it wisely and help a lot of people along the way, and that’s the way it should be.
But overall knowing that the $5 or $10 that I spend on lottery tickets can help my state, maybe I might be inclined to play more.  I am certainly not advocating gambling as a way of life or as a way to pull us out of the debt our state is in, but it sure if fun to dream a little, and maybe that’s just the point of it.

Thursday, November 29, 2012

Invisible Illness

At this time of the year we often try to think of gifts for Christmas.  Often I see posts on Facebook about “invisible illnesses” where people look perfectly fine but are suffering inside.  These kinds of illnesses such as Chronic Fatigue Syndrome (CFS), Epstein Barr, Lupus, and other autoimmune illnesses can play havoc on ones lives and the lives of their families.  They often go undiagnosed for a long time because the person is uncertain why they feel so wretched yet look totally normal and don’t think they have something really wrong with them.  Many doctors often overlook them as well. 
For many years I suffered from CFS.  It was shortly after my son was born that I developed a high fever that lasted about three days.  After the fever went down, it stayed at 99 degrees for about 2 years and was accompanied by an incredible feeling of fatigue and a mild sore throat and swollen glands.  In addition, I had spells when my memory was so bad I couldn’t remember how to get to work.  Through it all I still went to work and cared for my young son with enormous help from my husband.  It is not an experience I would like to go through again.
I was lucky in that I found a doctor who was sympathetic with my condition and tried various things to determine what I had and how he could help me.  I ultimately went to a doctor who prescribed massive doses of certain vitamins which took me into a remission.  I also think that my symptoms were not as severe as others who may have the disease otherwise I don’t think I would have been able to continue working through it.
One needs to be understanding if a family member is going through such a time in their lives.  Outwardly they don’t appear sick, but inwardly they are fighting everyday to maintain some semblance of a life. It a time like this that they would certainly appreciate a small amount of help in doing daily chores that we often take for granted.  If there is someone in your life who is experiencing anyone of these conditions, doing a small job for them could be the greatest Christmas gift of all.

Wednesday, November 28, 2012


The company I work for has a rather well established Green policy and one part of this is a swap table in the break room where people can put books and other media on instead of throwing them away.  I recently saw a book on the table about ADHD which was written a few years back. Since my son and I have ADHD I am always curious to read any book on that subject to see the latest theory on the “disorder”.  I put the word disorder in quotes as I am not thoroughly convinced that it is truly a disorder.
I read a book a while ago called Attention Deficit Disorder: A Different Perception where the author suggests that rather than thinking of ADHD as being a disorder, that it be thought of as a different personality type.  This theory made all kinds of sense to me.  The author theorizes that there were hunters and farmers in early man times and those personalities have carried over to today.  The reason there are less hunters in the population (ADHD is less of the population) is that hunters are a high risk group and most likely to be killed so that gene was less likely to be passed on through the generations. 
I believe that telling a child they have a “disorder” even if you put it as “special” sets them up for failure.  I don’t think that you should tell your child anything other about why they have difficulties other than helping them cope with things that don’t really go their way during their development.  If you can send them to a school where they are surrounded by other children like them, then they will have less of a problem with self esteem and understand when they get older that everyone is different in their own right.  This is also true by helping your child become aware of diversity at an early age.  By not even thinking that ADHD is a problem and steering them toward thinking of it as a different personality type, then I believe that integration of teaching methods could be done to satisfy all personality types.  Since ADHD is being realized more and more due to population effects, it will eventually become less of a rarity and more of the norm

Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Sour Grapes

In what can be called a big sour grapes situation, Mitt Romney is now claiming that there were too many minorities how voted for him. A recent article points out that Romney’s campaign was probably one of the least diverse campaign offices around and that seeing a person of a color other than white was a rare sight during his campaign stops.  I noted this myself and was not shocked when I heard his “47% speech”. 
I am sorry to say I just cannot grasp why any minorities would registered as a Republican when that party has become one associated with elitism and privilege.  Being a woman and half Mexican, I don’t believe I could ever register in the GOP.  But being a different color wasn’t all he was complaining about when lamenting about his loss.  He pointed to “gifts” given by the Obama administration.  These so called presents are things like student loans, Social Security and Medicare. I hardly call them “gifts”, but I suppose anyone in the entitled class would consider any help outside of their trust funds and daddy’s wallets is just that.  I just look at all of this as a case of sour grapes and more of a reason why it was a good thing Mr. Romney was not elected.

Monday, November 26, 2012


My husband said to me the other day that he was having a hard time being a Democrat.  It’s not like he was going to register as a Republican or anything, but he was tired of being in a party that was associated with giving handouts.  He and a neighbor were talking about it the other day and both of them were fed up with working hard and getting nothing and seeing others doing nothing and getting so much.  To some extent I agree, but I agree to the point that something needs to be done with the abuses going on.  I believe that if these abuses were taken care of, that a measure of the budget would be taken care of too.
The Wall Street Journal wrote an article about this issue and made some very interesting points.  Their main premise was that entitlements are corrupting this country and have grown significantly over the last twenty five years.  In addition, even though Democrats have been the party associated with entitlements in actuality, according to the WSJ article, it is Republicans who have really jacked up the amount distributed.
What is monumentally new about the American state today is the vast empire of entitlement payments that it protects, manages and finances. Within living memory, the federal government has become an entitlements machine. As a day-to-day operation, it devotes more attention and resources to the public transfer of money, goods and services to individual citizens than to any other objective, spending more than for all other ends combined.
The argument can be made that with today’s economy more and more are deserving of things like food stamps.  It is true that there are more people on food stamps primarily because they have been unable to find a job.  However, entitlements are not just programs for the poor.  Medicare and Social Security are also part of that pot of money, and to me seniors are deserving of it because they have put into the system all those years and should be permitted to take from it.  My issues, like my husband’s issue is the one where generations have lived on handouts and are a leach on society rather than a contributor. 
I personally don’t have issue with paying taxes to help invest in our schools, provide needed infrastructure, and help those who are less fortunate.  But I do have issues with handing over my hard earned dollars to give to someone who is abusing the system and who are making a living off me. In my opinion the abuses to the program is what is in serious need of work rather than the actual amount of money going out.

Friday, November 16, 2012

Hank the Cat

Hank is a 10 year old cat who is running to be a US Senator.  No, really.  And even stranger, he appears to be coming in third for this race. Hank received enough write-in votes in the state of Virginia to even be considered and now they are petitioning the White House to request he receive an honorary status on the Senate floor.
A friend of mine and I had this little fantasy that our cats would battle for State Rep a few years back.  She and I live in neighboring districts and thought this would be fun project to do to see how many signatures we could obtain to get them there.  Both of our cats have human sounding names but we decided that we would probably get caught for fraudulent activity and didn’t pursue it.  We actually never thought of doing a write-in campaign. 
This is actually the funniest election news I have heard in a long time.  Hank is a Maine Coon, and my cat, Simon is one too.  He is quite the handsome cat too but I wonder how he will govern if he wins.  Would he create “Hankcare” to allow universal access to vets?  Would he promise a fish in every bowl?  Would he legalize catnip?  What exactly are the issues that Hank would work on?  It’s a fun little fantasy and takes the stress out of all this Election Day related news of suppressed voting and voting irregularities that are going on in Philadelphia. 

Thursday, November 15, 2012


I ran into a person who I have known for a while but have not talked to for some time recently.  At first when she came up to say “Hello”, I didn’t recognize her face, but did recognize her voice.  She really looked different.  It turned out that she recently had gone through cancer and had lost all of her hair, which was slowly growing back, so she looked quite different than before.
I am not very good at remembering people’s names, and it has gotten worse as I have aged.  Usually when I meet a person it takes me a while to remember their name even after they have told me.  I try doing that thing where I use the name three times in succession and try to build a memory key, but that doesn’t always work.  I think it is odd that often I can remember a person’s voice though and then after a while their name comes to me.  It was that way with my husband.  We had met and dated briefly and then parted for a couple of years.  When I saw him again I couldn’t remember his name when I saw him, but as soon as he spoke his name, and the memory of knowing him before, came to me. 
Memory is a funny thing and age does strange things to it.  It is said that the sense of smell is one of the best triggers for memory there is.  When we smell something that is familiar to us, say the scent of cookies baking, we can remember many things that are associated with that smell.  This is because the olfactory bulb is part of the brain's limbic system, which is an area closely associated with memory.  So maybe if there was a way I could associate a name with a smell maybe that would help me remember better.  But then again, sometimes the smell of some people just makes me sick.

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

Year of the Woman

According to an article I read recently, 2012 was the Year of the Woman, with women making large gains in getting elected.  Women still represent a meager 12% representation on all governmental levels in this country where they are over 50% of the population.  In the United States, as you know, we have never had a women president while in other countries they have had several women leaders.  The USA does not have any quotas to fill to get more women in office and therefore leave it to chance, while other countries such as Ecuador actually mandate that a certain percentage of women should hold elected office.  Even with those countries taking a progressive lead, overall, women represent only 20% for holding elected office worldwide.
Many factors decide these numbers, mostly it is the expectation that woman are to raise the family and simply do not have the time to dedicate to running for office.  In this country the time both for running and for governing is considerable, not to mention obscenely expensive.  Additionally, the acceptance for a woman to hold an elected office is low even considering a recent study showing that women actually govern better than men.  Since women have gotten the right to vote only in 1920, they have done it in record numbers.  It is a proven fact that when women do vote, their participating numbers are higher.  No wonder every candidate has catered to women to get their vote.
Whether this year is the year for women in office, to me it is not going to THE YEAR until we actually represent the total percentage of total population.  Unfortunately I believe that will be a long, long time coming and I will be worm food when it happens if at all.  Unlike past generations, there is a growing enthusiasm for women have to be taken seriously, both in the boardroom and in the legislative chambers.  Regardless of our uterus, we must be accepted as equal partners who are just as capable as men.  Until that time, the thought of a woman as the leader of the free world will be a small voice yet to be heard.

Tuesday, November 13, 2012


I read recently that several states have petitioned the White House to secede and create their own governments.  This is following the election and predictably came from states that supported Mitt Romney.  However, it appears that some blue states have also sent petitions.  This is highly disturbing to me.
President Lincoln went through the same thing when he was elected in 1860.  Seven southern states petitioned the White House to secede, and four more followed in quick succession. While they have this right under the constitution, Lincoln refused saying that secession would destroy Democracy:
The distinct issue, "Immediate dissolution or blood"...embraces more than the fate of these United States. It presents to the whole family of man the question of whether a constitutional republic or democracy -- a government of the people, by the same people -- can or cannot maintain its territorial integrity against its own domestic foes.
However rather than politics this time, I believe the reason these states’ actions is purely racial.  Will Bunch, author of The Backlash suggests that the Tea Party movement has largely risen because many of the older, white Americans are scared to death their culture is going away.  After reflecting on that premise, I wholeheartedly agree.  We all have to get used to the idea that we are a widely diverse country, and our idea of the leader of these UNITED States is not always going to be an older white male, and frankly I am glad for that. 

Monday, November 12, 2012

Little Things

It’s the little things that excite me.  As you may know my husband built a cold frame for me and I ordered an automatic opener for it.  If the temperature goes up above 60° the lid will open.  As you can see from this picture, the lid did open the day after we put it together.  I am so excited!
I know that it is silly that I get so excited over this, but I don’t want my plants in there to have issues because it is too hot and I am not there to open and vent the cold frame.  Since I leave early in the morning, these temperatures don’t rise until well after I have left and I am not really in a position to run home to take care of it.  Even though it is advertised as solar powered it doesn’t have panels, the opener operates on with a piston that adjusts to temperature inside the cold frame or the greenhouse.   When I had heard of these things I thought maybe I would have to run electricity out to the garden, so not having to do that is great.
The one thing I do have to remember is to water.  I do see a fair amount of condensation on the plastic panels so I know that some moisture is happening in there, but I have set up a schedule to water, or at least check the cold frame, weekly to determine if it needs to be watered.  It only takes one 5 gallon watering can so it is not that much and I don’t have to drag the hose out there as I did during the summer.  Maybe next year I can get a water source closer.  My husband did talk about a rain water collection system but it never got done.  I will have to work on him for that. His honey-do list is quite full!

Friday, November 9, 2012

Different Perspectives

As you may know, one of my team members at work recently became an American citizen.  He and I have engaged in various political discussions for the short time I have known him, and I suppose he uses these talks to learn more about the political process.  I am flattered that he would think my experience in the field is worth listening to, but I sometimes wonder what his take on all of this is.  I tend to go a bit off at times standing on my soapbox, as my husband is so fond of saying, but is rather refreshing to be able to talk about this stuff to someone who is so eager to learn.
He is not able to vote quite yet basically because of timing.  He gained his citizenship after the deadline for registering for this election.  It is a pity, because I think it would probably be really cool that his first voting experience is in a big, high profile, Presidential election that we had.  But I am so impressed that he wants to vote while so many don’t.  So many don’t care about the direction this country moves in, and so many don’t think about where their local municipalities are going.  If you look at the numbers of citizens versus the number of registered voters, it is quite alarming to think that basically a third of this country actually takes the time to have their voices heard, and that’s just in a Presidential election.  Despite the fact there are two Election Days in a year, far less vote in what they call “off-cycle” elections - but I digress.
This week we had Election Day, and I hope you exercised your civic duty and voted.  Whether you stood in a long line to do so, you took your time and did your duty.  But don’t stop there.  Exercise your civic duty as often as you can and pay attention to those people who are your public servants. Make sure they are doing what you think they should.  After all, you are living in a country where you can.

Thursday, November 8, 2012

Putting the Garden Down

Over the last several months since I built the raised beds, I have been taking pictures showing the growth, or in some cases, the failure of growth, of my garden.  Today I compiled those pictures into a video.  I wanted to do a time lapse kind of thing, but I don't know how to do that so this will have to suffice.

I also ripped all the old plants out and laid straw on top of the beds so that they are prepared for winter.  We had our killing frost and the peppers and scarlet runners were very sorry looking indeed.  I think I was supposed to allow the beans to dry on the vine, but only two of them did. So I may have to lay them out and let them air dry before opening them up and storing them.  If there is something else needed, then you can comment below. I also harvested several of the herbs and bundled them to be dried from the basement rafters. I had planned to make some tea mixes with those; lavender, stevia, chamomile  and lemon verbena.  It will be several weeks until they are dried enough to do that, though.

So the end of another growing season has come.  I am very pleased with the raised beds this year and know that I will have fun planning where things will be growing in the next season.  Meanwhile, I have things in the cold frame that I can concentrate on in the coming winter months.

Wednesday, October 31, 2012


I belong to an organization that was formed to save the Selma Mansion located in Norristown. The house was built in 1794 and is one of the most important historical structures in the town.  During the late 1980s, the organization was formed because the house was in danger of being razed.  A deal was struck by the original organization members and a builder to erect an apartment complex on the property of the mansion with the plan to renovate the house to be either office space or a community center for the complex. The builder pulled out of the project before the renovations to the house were started and the organization has been trying to obtain rights to the mansion ever since.
Some time ago, someone posted on the group’s Facebook page claiming the apartment complex was built over a graveyard.  Since it was not uncommon in the days when the mansion was young to bury family members in a plot on the property of a large house like Selma, it is extremely possible that such a graveyard existed.  The person making the claim grew up in the area and delivered the local newspaper to the last resident.  He had the opportunity to speak to her on many occasions and was often treated to cookies and iced tea, as well as hearing many stories, when he made his deliveries.  He came out to the mansion shortly after the posting and showed us where the graveyard was reported to be; under the rear drive to one of the buildings and he said he distinctly remembered seeing the workers pulling up the gravestones and putting them in a dump truck along with shrubs and trees not wanted during the construction phase.  If this is indeed true, that area is hallowed ground and paving or building over it is illegal.
Now we have the job of trying to substantiate his claims.  There is much research that is needed up to and including x-raying the ground to see if bones can be seen. Since the county’s historical society has done an exhaustive inventory of all the graves in the county, the research should not take long at all.  If we do find out that there are bodies buried there, then a decision has to be made.  One way or another, a paved over graveyard could really help toward the renovation efforts.  Who knows, maybe those bones will take on a new form.

Thursday, October 25, 2012

Shaky Prediction

Although not scientific, Spirit Halloween, the country's largest seasonal Halloween retailer has predicted that Obama will win the Presidential race.  They say that the Obama masks are outselling the Romney masks by 20% and the charting of such sales has correctly predicted the election since 1996. 
"A lot of people are going out and supporting their candidate by wearing their masks," said Lisa Barr, senior director of marketing for Spirit Halloween.
While I don’t believe that is necessarily the case, I find it fascinating that such a prediction exists.  But then again it’s the same mindset as betting on the horses using the logic that the horse looked at you when it passed by.
People are going to have crazy ways of making predictions on who is going to win this race, but the real caveat here is if they go out and vote.  Presidential elections do pull out more voters than other years, but still the majority of voter turnout in my area at least is still only 45%.  It is still a dismal showing for such an important event.
Whether the mask sales are correct this time around is anyone’s guess. I only hope that such predictions do not keep people home thinking that their candidate doesn’t need their vote. We will find out after the fat lady has sung on November 7th. Go Vote!

Tuesday, October 23, 2012

Dubious Anniversary

Today is the anniversary of my father’s death.  Last year at this time I was very involved in a local campaign and had even taken a leave of absence from my regular job.  I knew that the end was near and we were waiting for it, but it still didn’t make it any easier when it actually happened.  Things were so crazy at that time that I only got time to go to the funeral and then get right back to the campaign office.  I still kind of forget that he is actually gone when I think of calling him to tell him something.
Losing a parent is hard they say.  I guess but I think it would be harder if I were younger and more dependent on my parents.  Being as old as I am now and away from the house not dealing with them as often as I did back then, makes me a little more removed from the situation.  My father was really good about calling me often and even though we really didn’t see eye to eye on a lot of issues, it made me feel important in his life.  I found out at the funeral that he did that a lot with people he was close to.  I often mean to do that with my friends, but somehow things just get in the way and much time goes by and I suddenly realize that I haven’t spoken to someone who used to be a daily part of my life for a while.  Maybe that part of him didn’t make it into my DNA. 
Since he lived in Delaware I haven’t even made it down to see his grave.  It’s not really important to me to do that though because I don’t need a place like that to remember him.  I have a picture of him on my desk and often one of his selections comes up on my iPod, so I think of him pretty frequently.  I kind of miss him, but I often think I should be missing him more.  Maybe if we were closer it would be more of an issue and in some ways I feel guilty it isn’t.  Then again maybe death doesn’t bother me that much because I believe I will see him again.

Wednesday, October 17, 2012

Welcome to the USA

Two people with whom I work received their US Citizenship; one just yesterday.  Our team went all out and hung red, white, and blue banners over their desk and arranged a USA Themed lunch.  I asked the most recent one what the process was and he told me that he had to have had his green card for at least 5 years and then take a test.  As a curiosity I looked up the possible questions to see how difficult they were.  There are actually a few sites on the web with information about citizenship and one has a list of all the potential questions (and answers) that could be asked. Ten of these questions are asked and the goal is to get six correct. 
These questions are relatively easy, at least for me because I am pretty well versed in American civics.  But there are few which I don’t know the answer to.  For example I was not sure who said “Give me liberty or give me death” (Patrick Henry).    I also did not remember the name of Chief Justice of the Supreme Court (William Rehnquist).  Some of these things are pretty trivial in respect to our daily lives.  I wonder how the average fifth grader would score on these questions.
Being an American is important to many who come here both those who come legally and undocumented.  Knowing our history, pledging allegiance to our flag, and voting is something that people born in this country sometimes take for granted.  No, it is not important for living our daily lives, but it is important if you want to call yourself an American. Check out the questions and see how you score.

Tuesday, October 16, 2012

It Could Be Worse

There are few things that bother me more than whiners.  There is a person I work with who gets so crabby and unapproachable whenever they are having a bad day.  This person doesn’t actually whine, but they get very nasty.  It affects the team adversely because this person has a far more technical understanding of everything and one cannot approach them when they get this way to ask any kind of a question.  And this person is in this mood a lot.  Because of that situation I have tried to not be that way as much as possible.  It is a challenge but one that I think is important in dealing with people in general. 
This morning, as is my habit, I went over to the cafeteria to get my morning coffee.  The manager over there was running around like a chicken without a head and I asked him if he was having a bad day.  It appears that one of his chefs shattered their ankle, the cashier is sick and probably out for the rest of the week, and a replacement cook that came from another building did not come prepared to work at this building and therefore would not be able to start on time.  Yes, he was having a bad day but unlike my coworker he was able to smile and joke about the whole thing and take things in stride.
My mother loaned me a book named 90 Minutes in Heaven written by a Pastor who was in a horrible automobile accident and apparently died and came back to life.  His body was shattered and his recovery took several years filled with pain and suffering. I can’t think of anything worse and look at that person's story as helping to put my life in perspective whenever I feel as if I can’t handle my problems.  In a flash of an eye, anyone of us could be in that situation and a lot of who we are depends on how we deal with the situation.  We can take everything in stride understanding that there are others who are far worse than we, or whine about how horrible our life is now and make the lives of those around us miserable as well. Which one will you be?

Monday, October 15, 2012

Cold Frame


This weekend my husband helped me build a cold frame for the garden.  We got the design from the book Year Round Vegetable Gardener by Nikki Jabbour, who I heard talk at the Flower Show this year.  She lives and gardens in Nova Scotia, so I think she really knows what she is talking about.  I had to do a little re-arranging in my garden to accommodate the new structure and it involved moving two pepper plants which are going to go anyway, but maybe I will get a few more peppers before then. 
With our first estimated frost date looming on October 28th, the cold frame could not have been done any later.  I checked our extended forecast and it indeed shows that we are expecting temperatures in the 30s at the end of the month.  We made the cold frame moveable so that it can sit inside the frame of the raised bed and we can put it on any bed in the garden depending on what I have planted so I can practice crop rotation easily with this. 
This year I did a fall planting of lettuce in the first bed, so we put it over that.  I then planted carrots, radishes, and spinach once the frame was built and in place.  We are expecting temperatures not unlike spring temperatures in the next two weeks so I believe they will grow since they are cool weather crops.  We’ll see.  This whole thing is an experiment because I have never done this kind of thing before.  I hope it works out.  

Friday, October 12, 2012

Compost Happens

I came across a website the other day for a company called Philly Compost.  This is a woman owned company that will pick up your food scrapes and create compost from it.  Right now, they offer their service to six zip codes in the Philadelphia area.  I found them after reading a blog entry that referred to Compost Cab, a Washington DC based company.  Compost Cab presented at Green Festival which has summer and fall events in DC, Los Angeles, and San Francisco. 
Urban settings do not allow many people to do home composting, and these services will help provide that.  They partner with local farmers, create compost from the scraps you give them, and help reduce material being sent to landfills along with excess methane created from those landfills.  It is a win-win situation in my mind but of course is a fee based service. Philly Compost charges $15 a month, and I am not sure what the city charges in fees for waste collection, but if it is based on tonnage allowing Philly Compost to pick up your organic materials it could end up saving you money. 
I know in my house we end up putting out one bag every other week.  We compost our kitchen scraps, recycle our paper and cardboard, recycle our plastics, and save our used batteries to take to the hazardous waste collection offered by the county.  Bear in mind it is only two of us now, but even when our son was living with us, we didn’t produce that much more.  I look around every week on trash day at our street and our neighbors have mounds of stuff on the curb.  It feels good that we are doing our part to reduce greenhouse gases. I think if everyone does what they can we could help reduce the hole in the ozone and produce amazing fertile soil that will grow more food.

Thursday, October 11, 2012


I woke up feeling a little queasy today. It could have been something I ate, or I could have a little stomach bug. Whatever the cause, it was unpleasant. Lying in bed this morning, I debated whether I was going to call out sick but decided against it because that would mean that I was caving into whatever I had and there was a good chance I would feel better later in the day.

I remembered back about 20 years ago to the days when I had Chronic Fatigue Syndrome. Every day was a struggle getting out of bed and going on with my life. Everything hurt and I just wanted to sleep. But there were so many things that needed doing; a small child needing caring for, I had to “bring home the bacon” and maintain my job, I had to cook dinner for my family, and sleep was not an option. I was lucky though. My case was not that bad and I beat it. It took 3 years and a lot of vitamins, but I eventually got better and the effects of the illness faded into the background.

Not all people have that luck. There are some who are sick for years, hanging on until the end. Not much is known about autoimmune illnesses like Epstein Barr, Lupus, MS, Fibromyalgia, and others, and they are not always the kind that make one so sick it is obvious to everyone around them. Even doctors don’t agree that some of them are “real” diseases and dismiss them. I often wonder what the causes are and whether there is some cure out there just waiting to be found, or better yet some way to prevent them. In the meantime, we just have to press on regardless, and we have to be a little more understanding with others because even if they look okay on the outside, they may be suffering on the inside.

Wednesday, October 10, 2012

Introvert or Extrovert?

I came across a blog entry that linked to a video of Susan Cain talking about introverts and their power in leadership.  For years I have often felt that I am painfully shy because I am so self conscious in a group setting.  But after watching this video I have come to the conclusion that I am actually more of an introvert than I thought I was.  She says that often introverts are uncomfortable in their skin and try to be more outgoing because society chastises those who like to go off by themselves.  She talks about the change in society during the Industrial Revolution where people who were used to being in smaller groups of people had to start to prove themselves in big cities.
She also talks about solitude.  Maybe it’s age and experience but I have felt more and more comfortable with solitude than I used to be. Quite possibly it is also because for a greater part of my adult like I have been a practicing Quaker where the weekly service is all about silence. It is an active silence, however, where we sit and contemplate God and when we feel moved to speak, we rise and do so.  Often the entire meeting is silent, which can unnerve someone if they are not familiar with it.  To me it is similar to the feeling I get when I am reading with a group of people.  However, instead of encoding words on a page, I am deep in thought about whatever comes into my mind.
The bottom line is that it is okay to be an introvert, Cain says.  Those long times of self introspection can often produce marvelous ideas.  Sometimes the documents created from that introspection can be preserved and read by and inspire others.  There will always be those who are extroverted and gregarious and whose bubbly nature balance the quiet times in your life.  

Tuesday, October 9, 2012

Killing Big Bird

There has been a lot of talk about the potential demise of Big Bird if a certain candidate wins office.  This morning I read an article about the funding of public television written by LeVar Burton.  He talks about the importance of PBS and how it is helping to provide education through their various children’s shows.  If PBS was unfunded, he says, much of the local level funding would be cut and there is a potential for rural area PBS affiliate stations to be affected most. 
The most interesting part of reading articles on the web are the remarks afterward. One such commenter talked about the fact that education is not mandated by the constitution and should be administered on the local level.  He cites the creation of the Department of Education as the reason teachers are teaching to the test and the nation wasting money. 
Whether it is constitutional or not, I think as a nation, we have a responsibility to our future.  I believe we need to set a national standard which then can be managed locally.  Administering the standards is better on the local level, but nationally we need to identify the educational expectations of our children and the standards that our schools need to achieve.  Education needs to be kept as a national priority.  Big Bird should remain alive and participating in that expectation.

Monday, October 8, 2012

Smart Phones and Super Humans

A fascinating article appeared in a recent copy of CNN Tech, about mobile phones and the reasons they have taken over our lives.  They have almost become “phantom limbs” being ubiquitously attached to our person and allowing us to capture the world and stay connected.  Many of the phones are actually life changing, like the phones being used in place of textbooks in an African school.
I know that my phone has been a part of my life steadily since I first got one.  I can’t even remember when I got my first phone, but I do remember that having it created such a send of security knowing that I could connect with someone if there was an emergency.  Thinking once that I would only use it when I absolutely had to, I now find that I use it almost every hour of my waking.  Not having it renders me not unlike an addict without their dose. 
Smart phones are now part of our lives and many people, about 6 billion of us worldwide, know that all too well.  It has been stated that even 68% of us sleep with the devices and 3 out of 4 people are constantly connected.  If something was to happen and mobile phones stopped working, there could possibly be a wave of panic all over the world as we reach for our phones to be connected to nothing.

Friday, October 5, 2012


When I was younger I heard about Crones; aged women who were well respected and who knew things. In some stories, she is disagreeable, malicious, or sinister, and often associated with having magical or supernatural powers.  Pictures of crones show wrinkled faces and often long, grey, unkempt hair.  Some pictures show a gentle smile, while others depict a haggard woman with a wart on the end of a long, crooked nose.  Now that I am getting closer to the age of crone-ism, I discount the later description and prefer to aim toward the former.  I want to be respected for the knowledge that I have learned over the years and at the same time, I want to retain some of my former looks, not that I consider myself a raging beauty, but I don’t really think I resemble a witch.  The other “itch” word, maybe.
I appreciate knowledge attained over long years of experiences.  When I was in my teens I didn’t have the time to listen to my elders.  While I was appreciative of the message, I was intolerant with the messenger.  I still am to an extent if that messenger is one who repeats themselves continually and who smells bad.  I hope I never get to that point. 
But as I have gotten older I have been increasingly uncaring of how people perceive my message.  I suppose I am getting to be like my mother who I have often joked views others as being entitled to her opinion.  So if I rant on this blog, take it as my view; raw, uncut, and uncensored.  I make no apologies for them and appreciate your time in reading them. I hope they spark thought and perhaps action.

Thursday, October 4, 2012


I should have taken a picture, but forgive me.  I am pretty sure you all have seen sweet potatoes before.  The other night I was in my garden and looked into the potato box.  The sweet potato vines are immense and as I have never grown sweet potatoes before I was looking to see if there was any way I could tell when to harvest or even if I was going to have a harvest.  In the corner of the box, sticking up was an end of a sweet potato!  I pulled it out eagerly and I suppose I could have waited because it was more like a large carrot than the tuber sized ones I get at the store.  Since I had picked it and it was really not big enough for a meal, I roasted it with other thing; garlic, onion, and eggplant all from my garden along with a store-bought organic carrot.  I sliced them into coins and drizzled a little olive oil on, then added some salt and pepper, and put it in a 400° oven for about 20 minutes.  It was delicious.
I am anxiously waiting for more now.  I still have to research when to harvest.  Most of what I have found says that they take about three to four months after planting the slips, so I have to look through my garden journal and find out when I planted.  I did read that frost and cold weather can hurt sweet potatoes, so they recommend harvesting right before the first frost.  The frost apparently kills and blackens the vines above ground and if you don’t harvest, decay can start in and get below the soil. In this same article, it said that if your sweet potato plants suffer a frost one night, cut the vines off right above the soil first thing the next morning. That way you may be able to leave the potatoes in the ground for a few more days. 
You are supposed to cure them for a while, so I guess my using it as soon as I picked it was not recommended.  They say that curing should be done for 10 to 14 days keeping sweet potatoes in a warm, dark place with some ventilation. The temperature should be 80 degrees with high humidity. Under these conditions, bruises and wounds will heal quickly, sealing out rot organisms.  I don’t have a root cellar so maybe just an open box in the basement will suffice. Bottom line is that now I am really anxious to see what my garden as wrought.  It is another new garden experience.

Wednesday, October 3, 2012

Okay, then…

Here’s something that should generate a giggle – at least it did in me.  A man was caught masturbating in aisle 10 of the Radnor Giant.  He was charged with indecent exposure.  There were no further details such as where the man was from and how he got caught.  I can’t help but wonder about those details. 
It often makes me take pause as to why someone would do something like that.  They probably wanted to get caught.  I haven’t been to that Giant so I am not sure what is in aisle 10.  Perhaps it was the sight of all those chips that got him going.  Or perhaps it’s the cereal aisle and he was thinking of bananas.  Okay, I will stop now.  That last one was just not right…

Tuesday, October 2, 2012

The Oldest Trick in the Book

My poor old mother fell for one of the oldest scams there is and I am shocked that she did so.  She has always struck me as a person who was so with it.  As she has aged, and she is over 80 now, she has gotten increasingly frail.  It is a shame to see a woman who was once so vibrant and capable begin to slide into the image I have of an old, frail, woman, tottering along with a cane.
She emailed me yesterday in response to an email I sent her about an event we are going to.  I emailed her because I thought she could print out the email rather than talk to her on the phone and risk her forgetting the details.  It appears that a person, or persons, stalked her on FaceBook and called claiming to be her grandson (not my son but my brother’s) saying that he was in New York City and had been in an accident.  He didn’t want her to call his parents but to wire money to him right away.  She said she questioned him about the sound of his voice but he claimed that a broken nose had changed it.  She wired the money he asked for and then sent more the following day when the person called back to say the hospital needed additional funds.  She apparently has contacted the authorities and they are on the case and apparently have found the suspects.  However, she is unsure if she is going to recover anything.
I told her that for the future, she needs to have a password in place with her grandsons.  If someone calls again, she is to ask them the password and if they don’t know it, or give the wrong one, she is to go to the police immediately.  With FaceBook, these kinds of scams are relatively easy.  One simply searches for women over the age of 70 and then looks at their accounts or people they know until they find a young family member they can claim to be. Then it is a simple cross reference with the phone directory to find the phone number and they are set. 
FaceBook is great, but there are risks.  This situation points to another reason why you really need to review your security settings to make sure that others cannot view anything about you unless they are friends.  Even with that you should not put any of your personal information on your profile unless you are sure there is no way someone can use it against you.  You need to be responsible for your own safety and constantly vigilant in this day and age when your life is an open book in the ether.

Friday, September 28, 2012


The shiny new hospital has opened up in a neighboring town and is in the process of closing Montgomery Hospital built in 1933 in Norristown.  An article appeared today about the rememberances of the employees.  For decades Montgomery Hospital took care of the sick and injured, delivered babies, and pronounced the dead, and now it is closing.  For me, even as a relative newcomer to Norristown, I am sick that this is happening.

The new Einstein Hospital built on Germantown Pike in East Norriton is a LEED certified building with state of the art medical technology; something they say would not be able to be done at the old building.  The new hospital is attracting some of the best talent in the medical field to treat patients so the area has the potential of being a leading star in the industry and offer our residents, as well as people from outside the area, new treatments and possibly save more lives.  Of all the bragging they did with how "green" their building is, the real “green” technology would have been to recyle the old building.
While it's great to the best and brightest of everything, it’s not the need for new machinery and cutting edge techniques that caused the new operators of Montgomery Hospital to build anew.  It was the people.  Yes, they now have a new facility – and everyone loves new stuff – and it is their silent hope that the people they were used to treating at the Norristown place won’t go to their new one.  While they claim that is not the case, I strongly suspect differently.  During the discussions about the eventual closing of the hospital I attended many meetings where they presented data showing who they treated and the reason they were losing money because of it.  By presenting the data they did, they were slowly building the case for the move.  So now it is a totally done deal and Norristown will be left with a large unwanted building.  It will now be up to Norristown officials to deal with.  It is my hope that since they knew of this closing for several years they are prepared to act on it swiftly.

Tuesday, September 25, 2012

School Music

I read an article about our local school district and the removal of the school band program.  It is not the reason that normally everyone thinks of - lac of money - but lack of participation. That is a real shame.  Not only is music an happy part of the students life, it is important to the well being of a student.  People often don't believe that music lends anything to young people but aside from the ability to help with stress and improve their self-esteem, the study of music especially at young grades, helps the brain understand math and science concepts. 

There have been many studies that show there is a direct relation with music and math, and with the emphasis in getting more scientists and math people, music can play an important part.  It is really sad that the reason is not enough interest on the student's part.  That says something about the environment at home and in their social circles.  I thought with the popularity of the TV show, Glee, that music would have a lot of intersest, but maybe that interest is singing and acting. 

I hope that this trend doesn't continue.  Music is said to soothe the savage beast, and it also helps out the unruly student too.  A world without music would be a ver dull world indeed.

Monday, September 24, 2012


Okay, so I know this was incredibly immature and unnecessary, but I just felt like doing it.  I drove past the protesters in front of the mall yesterday and they were holding up those ridiculous signs saying how bad Obama is and how we should vote him out of office and I got so offended I gave them the finger as I drove by.  I don't know why I was so offended, I guess I was just outraged at their ignorance and the ignorance of the other Tea Party people in this world.  Yes, I know they have just as much right to be out there as I do but if they would listen to the facts and not the trash spewed on Fox News maybe they might have another opinion.

We are better off than we were 4 years ago; housing starts are up, the employment figures are up (albeit not as much as they should be).  Heck even the market is up.  Obama did a good job with the mess he was left with and a congress which was the most divisive in history.  Furthermore, I don't want a president in office who only cares about half of this country.  I don't one who flips on all the issues that are important to me.  I just can't vote for someone like that.

Maybe that's what really offends me. That these people are really willing to have a person in office who would totally turn things upside down and remove the things that we have fought so hard to implement.  But then again that's what makes this country great.  The mere fact we can have a person like that run for office in the first place.  I just hope he doesn't win.

Thursday, September 20, 2012

Wardrobe Malfunction

I guess I was really tired this morning or maybe I have been dressing in the dark too long, but this morning I came in with my shirt on inside out and no one said anything.  It wasn’t until I tried to unbutton my top button that I realized my top button was inside the shirt rather than out. 
I have had incidents like this before like the time I ran out the door with one black shoe on and one brown.  It is common enough mistake when you have more than one color of a certain shoe style.  I was so embarrassed that I sat at my desk all day and practically ran to the bathroom and back when I had to go before anyone could say anything to me.  Then was the time that I was walked from my car to the building and right in front of the huge glass window that faces out from the cafeteria during the lunch hour, my slip fell off.  I was actually pretty proud of myself for not tripping over it but calmly stepping out of it and quickly bending down to scoop it up.  To this day, I have no idea if anyone saw me.  I remember a friend of mine wore a dance wrap skirt back in the day they were popular to a fancy wedding and the doorman closed a piece of it in the car door without her knowledge.  It came right off leaving her standing there in the leotard part of the outfit.  It could have been much worse.
Wardrobe malfunctions, as they are called now after Janet Jackson’s infamous boob incident do happen.  Sometimes the results are amusing and sometimes they are quite embarrassing, but happen they will.  One can only hope that the end result doesn’t leave you hanging all out there – not unless you want to be.

Wednesday, September 19, 2012

The Tax Man

Candidate Romney stepped in it this time, I believe with is comments said at a fund raiser in May that were release by Mother Jones. During those taped conversations, he shows his true distain for people that are not like him – basically most of America.  Those statements show that his presidency will be for the few, for the privileged, and for the minority.  In the words of Jennifer Granholm “where the cars get the elevators and the workers get the shaft.”  It really convinced me that Romney is out of touch with this country and what this country needs.
The one good thing that has come out of all of this is that the American public finally understands that yes, only 47% actually pay federal taxes and there are reasons for that.  It is somewhat easier to understand why we are in the situation we are in when you know where the revenue is coming from and why those who do pay federal taxes are stretched so thin.  But many of those people aren’t irresponsible and living off welfare and playing the system.  Many of those people are struggling to make ends meet, and many of them are our friends and neighbors. 
I ran across a list of things that our taxes pay for and the list is very extensive.  Furthermore, taxes are not all bad and are not totally there to pay for programs for the poor.  I found a great essay on what taxes pay for, and a quote from Franklin Delano Roosevelt who once remarked that “Taxes, after all, are dues that we pay for the privileges of membership in an organized society.”  But the best example of what taxes do for us, in my opinion is found here.  After reading that, I felt so much better about why we really need to contribute our fair share to society. 

Monday, September 17, 2012

Another One Hits the Deck

Every day you turn around and there is another shooting, another home invasion, another angry person.  What is it with people these days?  Why do people resort to violence as the way to solve problems?  It saddens me that violence is often the direction people go. 
In my humble opinion the biggest reason that violence is used is due to ignorance.  But, I have heard many reasons such as poverty, high school drop outs, and drugs as a reason for violence, and I am sure many of them are good reasons.  When one is ill-educated, they can’t really think of any other way than to react; they have no experience learned or otherwise in not using violence.  That seems to tie in with the low economic status as well, but many people who are highly educated have been involved in physical altercations, so it is not clearly a one to one relationship.  Drugs certainly have a factor, especially alcohol.  We have all heard of “beer muscles” being a reason for many scuffles that come along. I am sure there are many studies out there on why people use their fists rather than their words to fix problems.
But the biggest disappointment is when they bring a gun into the equation.  Moreover, I think that in some cultures it is more accepted to swing fists or shot first and ask questions later.  At the risk of sounding sexist, violence is much more prevalent in the male species probably due to hormones and the expectation that a guy is going to stick up for themselves or be labeled a “sissy”.  It continues to be my biggest wish that people will use other methods to decide life’s problems in the future.  It is a big wish.