A Long Day

Geese in Columbian Park
Geese in Columbian Park

I took this picture a few years ago on a hot September day. I know it was September because we were at the park celebrating the birthday of a little girl. I know it was hot because I remember wanting to stay in the shelter rather than going out in the sun. Another reason for not venturing out from the shelter was because it was difficult to step anywhere where the geese hadn’t fertilized the grass.

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 It occurs to me that even though many federal government employees are going to be furloughed one day per week without pay, they will still be working more days per week than a member of Congress. Their typical work week runs from Tuesday through Thursday. I know they claim to go home to take care of constituent services, but I also know they have staff to take care of a majority of those services. They spend most of their time at home campaigning and fund-raising. I wonder if Congressional salaries will be effected by the sequestration of funds?

***

I saw crawling across the bottom of my TV screen a headline that said that a landmass that was once between India and Madagascar is now on the bottom of the Indian Ocean. That kind of makes sense to me since what was is no more, so where could it go but down? Follow?

***

It has been a long day; longer for Cindy than for me. It started for Cindy by going in to work, and then meeting me at a funeral. From there we had an early lunch and then went to visit Flo, Cindy’s mother, at the nursing home. Flo has had a couple of rough days, and we ended up having an ambulance take her to the hospital. We spent a couple of hours in the emergency room while they ran tests and decided to admit Flo. As of now they think her problem is primarily that her congestive heart disease if getting worse. We were in the ER so long that Cindy missed a second funeral she had planned on attending. We left the ER and I came home, but Cindy went on to help facilitate an eating disorder group. She hasn’t come home yet, so she is either back at the hospital or helping a good friend clean house. Relaxation is not Cindy’s middle name.

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Some TV remains relevant

Gone but not forgotten
Gone but not forgotten

This image was on the wall of the back of the building that houses Cindy’s office. It appears to have been done with a stencil, but I haven’t seen it anywhere else. I’m glad I took this picture, because this image was removed and the wall was painted over a year or so back.

***

One of the reasons I watch DVDs of The West Wing is because the story lines still seem relevant. The episode I watched Saturday morning, War Crimes, was originally broadcast in 2001. Yet the episode dealt with gun violence, the twenty-four hour news cycle causing a lot of “crap” to be on cable, as well as the possible elimination of the penny. The title comes from the part of the show that dealt with U.S. soldiers possibly being taken before a world court for war crimes. As much as we might like to think that the world has changed a lot since 2001, all of those topics, especially the first and the third, have been in the news recently. The other two topics are often discussed in magazine articles, or long newspaper articles. The disheartening thing is that there has been no progress on any of these issues. Well, except for the fact that there have been more violent gun deaths since then. If anything, weapons are easier to get, and they have more fire power.

***

As much as I complain about our Congress, at least Silvio Berlusconi isn’t on any ballot in the U.S. We have enough clowns of our own.

***

Legislators in Indiana are attempting to pass am law requiring some people who receive Aid For Dependent Children, a.k.a. Welfare, to pass a drug test in order to receive benefits. It wouldn’t be everyone, certainly not the dependent children,  just those who take a written test and show a propensity to take drugs. I don’t know who will administer that pre-test, or what the validity and reliability are for it, or even if it has been chosen yet. I do know that Florida passed a similar law in 2011, tested 4,086 people and found only 2.6 percent tested positive, costing the state more to conduct the tests than was saved by denying benefits. That probably won’t matter to Indiana legislators.

Spelling Bee

One of the relifs hanging in Sunnyside Middle School
One of the reliefs hanging in Sunnyside Middle School

There are a number of similar reliefs hanging in the school, but I don’t know anything about them, so I guess I need to do some research. They all have similar historic themes. I took this picture yesterday when I was at the school attending the Lafayette Adult Resource Academy’s (LARA) annual Spelling Bee for Literacy.

I enjoy going to the Bee every year, though I’ve missed a few. It wasn’t as much fun when I worked for LARA, because I was always saddled with a job that I had to concentrate on, rather than concentrating on the Bee itself. This year’s bee was a little different from previous years, in that LARA has a new director, and there were subtle differences.

For one thing, there was a new pronouncer who did a good job of pronouncing, but lacked the warmth of some of the previous pronouncers. Maybe if he does it again he won’t make it look like a job, but rather, a pleasure. There seemed to be fewer teams with young people, and that’s a pity because the young kids bring an air of excitement and fun when the participate.

That isn’t to say that there was a total lack of children, because at least two of the teams had children with adults, and it was obvious that the kids were the better spellers in those teams. One of those teams had an adult who, if he had worn glasses, would have looked like Michael Moore. It was unfortunate that his team was knocked out when he was spelling the word, because it was painful to watch him struggle with the word.

Students from Purdue once again fielded teams in the Bee, and they are fun to watch. There was a team of young women (Volleyball Team?), there were members of the football team, there was the team of gay men from one of the fraternities, and there was another team of men who seemed to be in it for the sheer joy of participating. I think that last team was also made up of athletes, but I’m not positive.

It was a good Bee again this year. Now I’m looking forward to next year.

Memories of Paris

Guess where, 2003
Guess where, 2003

We were in Paris for a weekend. Cindy had presented at an international conference of parole/probation officers in Manchester, England, and I had taken vacation time to go along. Most of her trip was paid for by the conference, so we only had my expenses, except for the side trip to Paris after the conference.

This was the year of the heat wave in Europe that killed a number of people. Air conditioning was not widespread anywhere we went or stayed. We were there at the beginning of the heat wave, before things got really bad. We (Cindy and I along with Kipp and Pat from the probation department) took a train from Manchester to London, and then took a train under the English channel to Paris.

After a harrowing taxi ride from the train station to our hotel, we arrived around midnight only to find that they had given our rooms to someone else. They put us up in a cheaper place next door in the student quarter. We were tired, but Cindy was hungry so we went out looking for food. Cindy bought something from a street vendor and then decided to sit at an outdoor table of a restaurant, even though they were trying to close for the night.

The next morning we took a tour of the city via a mini-van, rushing from one place to the next with little time to see much of anything. I think we spent more time at Montmartre than anywhere else, and that was fine. In the afternoon we decided to walk around the city as much as we could. I don’t know how far we walked, but I estimated at the time that it was about fifteen miles. Of course, it could have been my tired feet and legs that made that estimate. We did some shopping, saw Notre Dame, saw a number of statues and fountains, and saw the Louvre.

At Notre Dame Pat and Kipp decided to climb to the top. Cindy and I decided to skip that, so we went a sidewalk cafe where I ordered a beer and Cindy ordered ice water. My beer was brought to me, but Cindy had to ask the surly waiter for her water three times before he grudgingly brought it.

Unfortunately we arrived a the Louvre after they were closed, so we saw very little. So, after walking around the outside of the building and going down under the pyramid, we walked back to hotel. If my memory serves me correctly, we stopped on the way back at another restaurant and ate dinner.

On Sunday we flew home. I hope we can go back sometime when we have more time, and don’t have to rush from one place to another. Maybe in a couple of years.

Heidelberg and personal ads

The Neckar River as seen from the castle at heidelberg, Germany
The Neckar River as seen from the castle at Heidelberg, Germany

I took this in either 1970 or 1971 when I was stationed in Heidelberg. I used a Kodak Instamatic camera. The Instamatic was certainly not a high-end camera, but it was alright until I bought my first 35mm camera a few years later.

I spent thirteen months in Heidelberg, and enjoyed it as much as anyone can who was in the U.S. Army, on enlisted man’s pay, in a city where the university students were as against the Vietnam War as any student back home. A month after I was discharged someone set off a bomb in the area where I was stationed.

I have stories about Heidelberg that involve people I served with, a girl from Indiana, New Year’s Eve, and other incidents that I may relate in future posts. By the way, the list in the previous sentence are separate items, not one big story.

***

I spent a large part of yesterday going through a big box of old photos. I scanned a few of then and sent some individual photos to some friends. I sent one picture to my friend, Bob Cornell, of the two of us in the Lafayette, Indiana office of the Indiana Job Service (or whatever name it was going by in those days) shortly after I moved to Lafayette. The picture caused him to remember where he bought the coffee cup he was carrying in the picture. He still has that cup, by the way.

He related that memory to me, and this morning I started reading Sexually, I’m More Of A Switzerland: More Personal Ads from the London Review of Books by David Rose (not the one of The Stripper fame). That caused me to remember that Bob used to enjoy reading the personal ads in Nuvo, the alternate newspaper in Indianapolis. He introduced them to me, and I have to admit that some were fun to read. I think Bob would love David Rose’s book, as well as it’s predecessor They Call Me Naughty Lola: Personal Ads from the London Review of Books. They are short books, and I have to ration myself when reading them, so that I don’t finish them in one sitting. They are that funny.

Movies

Fountain at the library in Auburn, IN
Fountain at the library in Auburn, IN

I took this picture the last time I was in Auburn. It was at least five years ago, maybe longer. I spent a few days driving around on my own, going back to some places I hadn’t seen in quite a while. I used to live in Auburn. That’s been more than twenty-five years ago. The library was within walking distance of my apartment. It is about time that I went back for another visit. Maybe I’ll do that in the spring.

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I was watching the movie Murder At the Baskervilles on Saturday. It is a Sherlock Holmes movie starring Arthur Wontner. This was a pre-Basil Rathbone movie about Holmes. What really drew my attention to the credits was the fact that Doctor Watson was played by Ian Fleming. That surprised me because the actor didn’t look like the Fleming who wrote the James Bond novels, and whose picture was on the back cover of some of the paperbacks I bought back in the ’60s. Of course te actor was a different Ian Fleming. The actor was famous long before the first Bond book was published. Ian Fleming the actor lived a longer life than Ian Fleming the author. The actor was born twenty years before the author and died almost five years after the author.

While I enjoyed Fleming’s portrayal of Watson, I will always consider Nigel Bruce my favorite Watson. I have enjouyed other actors in that role. I especially like Martin Freeman in the BBC television show, Sherlock. But, as I said, Nigel Bruce is my favorite. That’s probably because he was the first I remember seeing.

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Here’s some good news, Mississippi finally ratified the 13th ammendment to the Constitution of the United States. That’s the ammendment that abolished slavery. Their State Legislature actually ratified the ammendment in 1995, but they didn’t file the ratification with the National Archives. Evidently someone in Mississippi checked on it after watching the movie Lincoln. See, mo

My first time

Moose at Yellowstone National Park, August 1961
Moose at Yellowstone National Park, August 1961

Yes, I know they aren’t easy to see, but trust me, there are three moose in this picture. It was one of the first pictures I remember taking. I was quite proud of it. Using a magnifying glass, the moose are actually pretty distinct. That summer I was just a month away from being a freshman in high school.

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I did something for the first time this weekend. I unfriended two people on Facebook. I finally got tired of the vitriol that some people are showing to our president. I have other friends, real friends, who don’t like the president, and occasionally post sloganeered “Like if…” things, and I give them a pass because a) they are friends who are reasonable about most things, and b) they don’t do it constantly. The people I unfriended this weekend aren’t real friends, just acquaintances. One has ben passing on posts saying, in effect, that the president breaks the law every time he does something, and the other person passes on posts that imply that anyone who doesn’t agree with them about the president will go to hell. Both of those views are pretty extreme, and I don’t need to let them run up my blood pressure. I did this for me.

Along with these actions, I have tried to cut back on my political posts. I used to post links on Facebook that led to videos from The Daily Show and The Colbert Report, but I’ve stopped doing that because they don’t change anybody’s minds, and may even alienate some people. Why bother?

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In our home, when I was growing up, the terms “front room” and “living room” were used interchangeably. That may not be true for everyone in my generation. Yesterday I mentioned the front room when talking to Cindy, and she reacted as if she had never heard the term. When I said living room, she understood. Perhaps she just didn’t hear me the first time. I need to check that out.