Wednesday, June 29, 2005

... I'll Be Watching You

(With thanks to

In the last few months, several major companies reported that customer data, including credit-card information, was compromised. The list includes:

CardSystems Solutions


Bank of America



Time Warner


Polo Ralph Lauren

Boston College


DSW Shoe Warehouse




Tufts University

Northwestern University

Every breath you take

Every move you make

Every bond you break

Every step you take

I'll be watching you.

Isn't it about time we consumers were given some control over the voluminous amounts of information that are disseminated to organizations of which we are told nothing?

Do YOU feel comfortable about this?



... But It Was Long Ago

Where were you ... ? (Part 2)

8. ... when the Berlin Wall came down? Nov. 9, 1989. As with so many other historic events, we were watching it on TV, two 40-year olds who had been through a lot, but all unsuspecting that the worst decade of their lives was crouching on the horizon. The fall of the Wall represented hope for a lessening of the tension that the world had suffered for close to 40 years (spanning our lifetime.)

9. ... when the US invaded Iraq the first time? January 1991. This will serve to illustrate where we were:

In 1991, an ice storm struck western and northern New York from Jamestown to Watertown. In all, 20 counties were affected, 13 of them under a Federal disaster declaration. Rochester was especially hard hit with schools and many businesses closed for a week. Once again, thick ice accumulations from freezing rain knocked out power. In all, almost 325,000 customers were without power. It was the costliest storm ever to strike New York State ...

10. ... when the US was attacked on 9/11/01? I was asleep, in preparation for going to work at 4:00 pm. Bonnie was awake and watching TV, and when I awoke and stumbled groggily up the hall, she met me with tears streaming down her face and the words "It's just like a Tom Clancy novel." We had read "Debt of Honor" a year or so before, and yes, it was just like a Tom Clancy novel. (I sometimes wonder what he thought, watching his book come to life.) It was damned hard to go to work that day.

This has been a thought-provoking and sometimes painful journey into the past. I doubt I will do this again.



Tuesday, June 28, 2005


I interrupt this quiz to bring you this unscheduled announcement:

I love women. Most particularly, I love Bonnie. Without my wife (the other half of who I am), I honestly don't know what would have become of me. Our marriage was undoubtedly the best thing that has ever happened to me, and I cannot imagine what my life might have become without her. She filled a hole that I didn't even realize existed. Marriage has been, in large part, a roller coaster ride, as I'm sure it has been for every married person who has discovered this journal, but, as in every roller coaster ride, the car eventually returns to the beginning and the ride is over. The exhilaration of the ride remains, but I am glad that the ride is over, and I can settle into the contentment that indicates that I have survived the ride.

True, lasting love is one of the most marvelous miracles that the Creator has bequeathed to us.

I have much, much more to say upon this topic, but for now this will have to suffice. Bonnie, I love you.


It Seems Like Yesterday ...

I don't normally answer quizzes; I prefer to reveal myself in my own way at my own time, but this quiz was irresistible. So ...

Where Were You?... (Borrowed from CyberChocolate, en route from "Midlife Musings", en route from "Sorting the Pieces")

1. ... when Alan Shepard became the first American in space? May 5, 1961 is a loooong time ago now. I would have been 12, reading science fiction by that time; I was watching TV with my dad, who was an engineer for Stromberg-Carlson and was interested in space. I remember being excited that humankind was taking its first baby steps toward exploring the universe.

2. ... when John Kennedy was killed? Nov. 22, 1963. I was in class in Junior High, a 14-year old finding his place in life, and I'm almost embarrassed to admit this, but I remember one of the students was detailed to announce the news to all the classrooms, and when I heard the words "Kennedy has been shot," I said to my neighbor "Why would anyone want to shoot the janitor?" because the school janitor was named Kennedy.

John Kennedy's death caused some awkward moments in our household, because my mother was devoutly Catholic and my father was Protestant and a staunch Republican. She loved Kennedy because he was Catholic, but my father wasn't thrilled about having to endure a Democratic president.

3. ... when Robert Kennedy was killed? June 5, 1968. I don't really remember where I was; possibly at home, or probably at work. It was a hectic time; I was 19 and attempting to discover what the future held. Bonnie and I were going steady at this time.

4. ... Martin Luther King Jr. was killed? April 4, 1968. See above.

5. ... when Neil Armstrong took that first step on the moon? July 20, 1969. 13 days away from becoming a married man, I still took time out to avidly watch the news coverage. I couldn't get enough of space news.

6. ... when Ronald Reagan was shot? March 30, 1981. I was 32 years old. I remember watching the news coverage, but much of the '80s is obscured by mist now. I do remember not being a fan of Reagan. Anyone who claims that catsup qualifies as a vegetable and that trees kill is no hero of mine.

7. ... when John Lennon was killed? December 8, 1980. The Beatles and their music formed a big part of the backdrop of the life Bonnie and I had begun to build together; we were horrified that someone could commit such an act. An interesting comment about my father: he grudgingly acknowledged the fact of John Lennon's importance to us by mentioning his death without any prompting.

I'm going to pause here; this is exhausting my mental reserves. To be continued.





Monday, June 27, 2005

Spirit in the Sky

There are days like today, when the Spirit is moving so strongly, that I feel compelled to witness just a tiny bit. I don't witness like the Jehovah's Witnesses; one of my aunts is a Witness, and a more dour, joyless sect I can't imagine. I have learned all I want and need to from her; if you want to know, I'm sure there are Witness websites that will be happy to educate you.

I have previously mentioned that my religion is my own; it is a simple distillation, a concentrating and streamlining, of what most extant religions are supposed to teach.

I had an epiphany during a trying period in my life, I shall not forget it. It came not long after I found myself openly, unashamedly sobbing in the middle of a small parking lot. A witness told me later that it was the most gut-wrenching thing he had ever seen, and I believed him. It's not something you see every day.

At that moment, I had doubts that I could go on. Without realizing it, I had been given the strength to carry on and perform the acts needed to survive and prosper. I was still unaware of the presence of the Creator in my life, but I did engage in some unfocused prayer, something I had not done in many years. It took the epiphany and the resolution of my troubles to compel me to realize that there was indeed a true Creator, not an intellectual construct but an actual Presence.

Allow me to say that I am not in contact with the Creator; I do not receive calls on my cell phone as some congressmen seem to be able to; I have had only one vision, but it was that vision that compelled me to believe.

And I do. Truly. I have no words to convey how I know that the Spirit is within, it is simply a feeling, a fullness that is not normally there. It comes and goes; unfortunately, it usually precedes a drop into the depths, but I'm getting used to it, and I sometimes wonder if the depression is the result of the emptiness that occurs when the Spirit has left.

I am a sinner. I have not lived an exemplary life. But I know now that it is inconsequential. There are only two requirements that are asked of me. The first is to believe. Oddly enough, I am forced to believe, because my life has become so much better, so much more meaningful, since I gave over my attempts to remain a skeptic.

The second requirement is only this: follow the Golden Rule. Respect others as you would be respected.

It sounds so simple, I know.

Since I have begun to truly believe, I have never prayed; not for wealth, not for health. I have asked for nothing, and yet I have received so much. I have been granted a small talent for craftsmanship, and a peace that I had never before realized was possible. I do not, will not pray, but I offer thanks and affirm my belief every single day.

I'm sorry this was so long, and I hope I haven't offended anyone, for I am not out to convert, but only to witness.

God/dess bless and keep you.


Sunday, June 26, 2005

In Appreciation of Edgar Allan Poe

In dark and silent reaches of the night

when embers of the day have burned to ash,

sad spirits rise.


Faint whispers of those times that long are gone

and echoes of the person I once was,

eidolon sighs.


Unbidden, ghostly vapors of the soul,

bleak memories that force hot tears to flow

from sapphire eyes.


Must I relive anew the distant past,

recall events I thought were buried deep,

and hurtful lies?


In melancholy solitude I sit

and wait for sullen shades to slowly fade

and softly die.



Birds Fly Over the Rainbow

This will be my last falcon entry. No, I mean it! Here is one final picture of the last lonely falcon. Little Aconcagua finally flew early this morning (shakily, but still ...)

All the siblings except the little one have tumbled into the smokestacks at least once, but they've all managed to extricate themselves without human aid (I don't know why they don't put some sort of wire mesh over the stacks ... incidentally, the stacks are not part of Kodak, but one of Rochester Gas & Electric's old generating stations.)

Because of my lack of discrimination, we have accumulated well over 100 images, from nest inspection to this final picture (oh, yeah. Photo courtesy of Eastman Kodak Co., leading the way into our digital future.)

We hope you've all enjoyed the show.


... puzzle in my head ...

It's another one of those days where the desire to inscribe witty, scintillating and possibly uplifting commentary (Stuart Smalley, where are you when I need you?) is thwarted by the unfortunate fact that I seem to adhere to everything I touch (thank you, humidity) and frequent ablutions are of only momentary usefulness, so I'll inflict upon you another of those mazes that y'all seem to be clamoring for.

(Well, the graphics are slightly less murky this time. I count that as a small victory.)

I learned a new word today! The word o' the day is vilipend! If you haven't encountered it before, look it up!

We hope you all stay cool and equanimitous (is that a word? It is now.)


Saturday, June 25, 2005

... hotter than a match head ...

Fahrenheit 98. Too hot to do anything but ramble through the dim and dusty corridors of the mind, fighting through the cobwebs, seeking mental coolth.

Fahrenheit 451 was a favorite of my youth; I had joined one of those wretched book clubs where you could get 6 books for 1 cent, and it was one of the few choices that pleased me, because I had read previous Ray Bradbury efforts and enjoyed them. The theme bore especial significance for me, for even at the tender age of 11, I had discovered that books contained multitudes of worlds that begged visitation, and they kept me entranced for hours on end. The very thought that the events depicted in the book might actually transpire in some shadowy future was horrifying to me. The most terrible scene, in which Montag feels compelled to reevaluate his life, was the vision of the elderly woman futilely attempting to protect her lifetime accumulation of precious books from the fascistic aims of the firemen.

I shudder every time I hear someone condemn reading material. The book-burners, of course, have ever been among us, and on occasion they have achieved a fleeting triumph. Their motivations are somewhat of a mystery to me; I can only presume that they are afraid of the freedom of thought that books represent.

By the same token, I am dismayed whenever attacks upon the media occur, because as lacking in quality as some media organizations appear to be today, owned as most of them are by corporations, there exist still enough dedicated individuals within these organizations who care about their profession, and who try to provide a modicum of decent reportage upon which we citizens depend.

The latest attempts to discredit the media (and yes, I do see a conspiracy here) are reprehensible to me. Without the checks and balances provided by a free press, the republic, our democracy, may eventually be trodden under by those who wish to keep us ignorant and repressed.

I'm sorry. This seems to be my day to fulminate. It must be the heat. Once again, thanx for listening.



You're My Home

I am New York.

Sandstone and shale compose my bones.

Sand and clay constitute my skin.

Maple, oak, pine cover my scalp.

The waters of the Hudson and

Genesee constitute my blood.

I am New York.

(my) anger was born again . . .

You all know that I seldom comment on the flash-in-the-pan antics of various celebrities, because I have better things to occupy me. However, after witnessing the interview on the Today Show between Tom Cruise and Matt Lauer, I have to speak up.

Matt Lauer is not my idea of a heavyweight, but he has experience and knowledge, and to be so totally disrespected by that nonestimable blowhard is inexcusable. Let's start with the fact that Cruise is in the process of marrying a woman nearly half his age. Has the man no dignity? Has he not progressed beyond childhood? What can he be thinking? (Well, I understand what he's thinking, but that's as far as it should go.)

He is also on the road supposedly promoting War of the Worlds, except that it barely rates a mention because he's much too busy promulgating his warped view of the psychiatric profession. This self-proclaimed 'expert' presumes to advise Brooke Shields on how she should be conducting her therapeutic regimen, and offers his view that no one needs therapy, antipsychotic drugs or ECT. A few vitamins and a little exercise will cure everything that's wrong.


As one who has been there and done that, I can say with absolute certainty that this 'man' needs to walk, and walk for miles, in the shoes of those who have trod that path. Until he does, he has no right to speak out so publicly about a subject with which he has, at most, only a nodding acquaintance.

Mr. Cruise, shut your mouth.

I personally hope that you soon sink back into deserved obscurity, because you disturb my hard-earned equanimity.

Thanx for listening.



Friday, June 24, 2005

Tip of the Day #3

An amazing domestic discovery!

A disposable lighter makes a quick (note that I do not say painless) way to remove pesky nostril hairs. However, a caution - if you have a moustache, as I did, you must be extremely careful.


Thursday, June 23, 2005

. . . of the people, by the people, for the people . . .

I am forced to bring my head down from the clouds for a moment, and offer a portion of a news story which clearly demonstrates the state of our "more perfect Union":

By Hope Yen

Washington (AP) - Cities may bulldoze people's homes to make way for shopping malls or other private development, a divided Supreme Court ruled Thursday, giving local governments broad power to seize private property to generate tax revenue.

In a scathing dissent, Justice Sandra Day O'Connor said the decision bowed to the rich and powerful at the expense of middle-class Americans.

The 5-4 decision means that homeowners will have more limited rights.

And this decision was rendered by the so-called "liberal bloc" of the Court.

Perhaps this is why George W. Bush is insisting that we all become homeowners and have a "stake in our country."

As Pogo said to Albert, "We have met the enemy and he is us."




. . .there I am, up on the stage . . .

This entry is inspired in part by Cynthia (sistercdr) of "Sorting the Pieces;" I'm sure you all have visited her journal, but if you haven't, the link is below.

William Shakespeare (or a shadowy personage from whom he may have borrowed) had it that 

"All the world's a stage, and all the men and women merely players: 

They have their exits and their entrances; and one man in his time plays many parts . . ." 

Looked at from another perspective, all the world's an odeum, and all the men and women merely concerts . . .          

Or, all the world's a gallery, and all the men and women merely artworks . . .

And my favorite, all the world's a library, and all the men and women merely stories . . .

For that is what we are - whatever category of the arts you choose to name, we symbolize the components thereof, except that we are incomplete, our lives works in progress.

Five billion unfinished symphonies, partially painted canvases, chapters in a drawer, supernumeraries in the wings . . . 

We are all artists, all 5 billion of us, playing our parts, composing our songs, painting our pictures, and writing the chapters of our lives . . . 

It is not always easy to be an artist, to excel at what we attempt, but unless we retreat completely into a world where nothing can reach us and where we can touch nothing, where there is no emotion, no soul, we must go on, because the spirit so moves us. 

 Our efforts are not pointless, for somewhere there exists that stage, that odeum, gallery and library, where the works of our lives will be housed, displayed, and discussed . . . and, we may hope, admired.



Thursday Morning, 5 AM

I could live like this forever. This is my time of the day; I've always been a creature of the night. I sit, waiting for the sun to creep in on little mouse paws. A cup of lemon tea soothes the throat, and the music soothes the mind. It is quiet; only a distant train and a possum on the roof disturb the silence.

I have my work to keep me occupied, thinking how wonderful it is that this laptop makes my work so immeasurably easier than before. I used to work on a typewriter older than myself; it sits at the back of a closet now, gathering dust. It is still in good shape; if necessary, with a fresh ribbon, (do they still make ribbons for manual typewriters anymore?) it could easily be returned to service. But I adore this laptop.

I plan to derive as much enjoyment as possible from this day. I hope you all do too.


Wednesday, June 22, 2005

Away Above the Chimney Tops . . .

This is, in some ways, a difficult entry for me to write, but I need to write it.

There exists a symbol that has a specific and fitting connotation for certain of our fellow citizens, and some close friends of mine, but it also holds particular significance for me. It represents, in a way, a personal epiphany. I have tried, many times and without notable success, to formulate an appropriate and powerful way to explain the why and wherefore of my beliefs, but this will have to suffice.

The ancients, our early forebears, were fascinated, and intimately affected, by the physical aspects of their environment. They thought to perceive four chief elements: fire, water, air and earth. Although science has matured, and true elements have now been determined, still the perceptions of old possess the ability to resonate in our minds and hearts.

The destructive potential of fire, as embodied in the form of our daystar, is inarguable. Photons, propelled from the inferno of the sun, born of and powered by the cosmic furnace that warms our fragile ecosphere, traverse the 93 million miles between and, at literally the speed of light, penetrate the atmosphere.

Awaiting them, suspended in air, are miniscule molecules of water, drawn from earth's oceans by evaporation or atmospheric abnormalities. The havoc wrought by water, in the forms of flood and hurricane, is also undeniable.

Tiny particles, begotten of awesomely powerful natural processes, contained in a metaphoric womb, itself composed of tiny particles and also capable of terrible destruction.

Photons, an unstoppable force, and airborne water droplets, immovable objects, come together, not in a demolishing cataclysm of force and fury, but gently, in a heavenly display of ephemeral and inexpressible beauty and grandeur, conceived of the union of fire and water, midwived by air, and seemingly grounded upon the earth.

Is it any wonder that I believe in a Creator who can fashion such gentle miracles from elements of such utter destructive capability?

I have mentioned that my mother was a woman devoted to the teachings of the Catholic Church. As such, she believed in the idea that homosexuality was evil and an abomination against the Lord. I grew to young adulthood, having been thoroughly steeped in those teachings, believing the same.

It took a few years of study of history and religion, and more than a few exercises in self-examination, to overcome that early training and reach the conclusion that the Church was committing an abomination of its own by excluding members of the faith community because they were misunderstood and feared (and, it must be said, hated.)

That this bigotry continues today, that so many among the most devout conservatives feel it imperative to continue to discriminate, testifies to the sometimes inimical ability of religion to shape our lives. Truly, there is no logic to religion.

I have matured, in some respects, and years ago personally experienced bigotry such that it forcibly brought home to me how other victims must feel when confronted by those who unreasoningly hate.

Hold up your heads, everyone, and be proud of who and what you are. Let no one denigrate you who knows you not, for the ignorance of those who hate or fear will one day be their downfall. Stand tall, and you will tower above them.

Peace and good will.

Tuesday, June 21, 2005

Tuesday Afternoon

It's always nice to wake up and discover that "You have mail." Especially when it concerns friends.

My entries have been rather spotty lately because I have embarked upon what is, for me, an ambitious and (I hope) productive undertaking. Our IRA is invested in mutual funds; one of them tracks the Russell 2000 index. It contains roughly 3500 stocks. The last annual report that we received did not list every stock as we expected (apparently fund companies can issue abbreviated lists now.) I went to the trouble of downloading and printing the complete list from the fund's website and am now in the process of alphabetizing the list, a tedious and time-consuming procedure, but one that I am ideally suited for (I have a high tolerance for tedium and I can sit on my ass for hours on end.)

However, it does eat up time that I normally devote to other pursuits, so my journal entries may suffer for a bit.

You may ask yourself, what kind of moron would go to all that trouble, and why? Well, me. My reason for doing so is that I like to set up and run fantasy funds to determine if I possess a flair for that sort of thing, and this particular fund contains a myriad of small-caps that I am only now learning exist. It represents a fine database from which to begin research.

This is boring even me, so I'll wrap it up.

Peregrine update: All chicks have ended up on the walkway, although Esperanza resisted leaving the nest for 3 full days after the others had fallen. She looked awfully lonely. From the few glimpses one can get, the chicks are exercising their wings and within a week should be able to take short flights. This is where things get dicey. Last year a chick had to be extracted from the inside of one of Kodak's smokestacks, and one landed on the sidewalk in front of the building and mingled with the pedestrians. The best source of news is the discussion board on Kodak's website.

(Aside to Albert: I have, on occasion, indicated that I believe implicitly in an afterlife. My mother died on the operating table in 1982 and was returned to life, lasting for another 10 years before she died for the final time. She never really talked about that experience, but that she experienced something was evident. For a year after she returned home, she had a faraway, wondering look in her eyes. She had always been a fully religious woman, and I think her belief was repaid. I suspect it was she who sent me a vision the night my father died, and I received it before I learned that he had died. I won't describe the vision, because it was personal to me and would mean nothing to you. It was a rather prosaic vision and putting it in cold print would only devalue it. It was enough, however, to convince me that we go on from here, that there is a further road to travel. We are meant to be more than we are.)

Well, I promised to wrap this up, and it's time.

May you all have peace.

Sunday, June 19, 2005

And an Island Never Cries

Much has been written about mother-daughter relationships; not so much about father-son relationships. There are good reasons for that - and I'm not going to buck the tide. If I started writing about the interweaving of my father's life and my own, I might never stop, so complex did it become through the years.

This I write simply in remembrance. My father was a good man, a gruff but quiet man, a man who was raised in a strict family and adopted some of the strict practices of that family. He worked all his life to make certain that his family was well-cared for. He accepted Catholicism for the sake of his wife, having no concrete beliefs of his own. He never did have convictions, and at the end of his life he was still searching for something to believe in. He questioned much but received few answers.

He was a rock-ribbed Republican, and he believed implicitly that the paternalistic party ideals of the time were the blueprint for how the country should be run.

He never quite understood, I don't believe, why his sons deviated from the way of life that he had so firmly tried to lay out for them. We were both, in our own ways, disappointments to him, and neither of us ever told him that he, in turn, had disappointed us. That is something we could never bring ourselves to tell him.

He was not a demonstrative man, but he loved my mother, and she loved him. Their love, too, was complex, and there were elements to it that to this day I don't completely understand. When they met and fell in love, the times and mores were different, and with the addition of my mother's fervent religious beliefs (and her dislike of men), it became a relationship that was  . . . difficult.

Her death was very hard on him; the love my mother offered him did not quite conform to his notion of what ideal love should be, and to the end, he never really understood why he felt as if their relationship was incomplete.

He was a lonely man.

When he was diagnosed with cancer a little over two years ago, he didn't fight for life. He wanted, I think, to see and be with my mother again. He had always been proud of the fact that he had a seemingly iron constitution and rarely was afflicted with illness (although on those few occasions when he was sick, he was laid low.) He wasn't a man to admit weakness, and when he was overcome he thought it very unfair of life to treat him in such a fashion.

He is now reunited with my mother. I know this; I have been shown it in convincing fashion. It pleases me and gives me much hope when my time comes.

I hope you have resolved your uncertainties and received answers to your questions, Dad. I'll be seeing you.

Peace. And Happy Father's Day.

Saturday, June 18, 2005

Puzzle Page

Yes, it's time once again for one of those fiendish mazes. (For some reason, perhaps because of a download I accepted last week, the graphics suddenly appear to be muddy.)

At this very minute, Skye and Esperanza have left the nest; one 'flew' to the top of the box and the other is to the right of it. It will be interesting to see what happens now.

Thank you, Cynthia and Albert, for your kind words; I await relief.



I never wanted, or planned, to make of this journal a chronicle of My Struggles with PVD. Many folks use their journals to enlighten others about their travails, and I consider that commendable, but I have wanted to do something different, to attempt to be entertaining. Whether I have succeeded is up to you to judge (nothing like stating the obvious.) Be that as it may, I have tried to keep mention of my condition to a minimum, at least in part because there are many excellent sites to be found if you do a search for PAD or PVD, and I encourage those of you who seek knowledge to go visit and learn.

I would not mention it now, except that lately it seems to be claiming more of my attention than I like. I once had a toothache that sent me to the ER in the wee hours of the morning, and when the admitting nurse began asking me for preadmission data, I discovered that the pain was so great that I was literally unable to remember my address or phone number. I had to prevail upon Bonnie to finish the interview. Thankfully, a dental internist (student) from the University of Rochester (contiguous to the hospital) was roused and quickly gave me a most marvelous injection that completely obviated the pain for a good while.

PAD pain can be like that sometimes. I am occasionally wakened from a sound sleep by excruciating pain in my calf (generally the left, but sometimes the right) that feels like the worst cramp I have ever had, tripled, and (if I am covered) have to struggle to untangle myself from the blanket, reach the edge of the bed, and stand upright while fire runs through my leg and up my back. My presumption is that at some point circulation has ceased in that muscle, and the act of standing seems to start the blood flowing again.

Additionally, I have peripheral neuropathy in both feet, so that they feel as if they were encased in cement. I have very little sensation, except for pressure and the occasional pain (of course.) This, and the pain in my legs, explains why I seldom leave the house.

Lately, the pain has been such that my thoughts are often unfocused, and this, perhaps, is the most frustrating part. It is hard to concentrate on reading material or  television, and it is distressing to be not only a virtual shut-in, but to be unable fully to enjoy my few forms of entertainment.

There are people who suffer much more than I, and for this reason I feel ashamed to express my weakness. Nevertheless, I need to do this, if only to comfort myself. Now please excuse me while I repair to my favorite bottle of bourbon and blow out the lights for awhile.



Wednesday, June 15, 2005

. . . you get tired . . .

Good Lord, I feel old today.

When Bonnie or I would express this sentiment at work, a co-worker (invariably younger than us) would dust off and cough up that hoary old bromide, "You're only as old as you feel!" (Spare me from cheery, chirpy co-workers.) To which we would reply, "It's a miracle! I've aged 30 years overnight!"

Yes, as you get older, the systems begin to freeze up and break down with disconcerting regularity, and a good day can sometimes mean that you've managed to wake up and haul your ass out of bed for one more day (Donkey! Arise!)

All those energetic oldsters that are depicted on television are a lie. The only plausible explanations for their cheerful exertions are that they're either heavily medicated or heavily made-up. I feel no fellowship with them; it tires me out just watching them. Not only that, those commercials make me want to reach for the Pepto-Bismol. (Could there be an insidious plot here?)

Ennui. Angst. Inadequate words to describe how I feel. The world, perhaps, is too much with me. I am absolutely disgusted with politics and its practitioners. Each day's news seems to bring a new example of how badly we humans can treat each other. Corporations are jettisoning workers and pension plans, acting legally but irresponsibly, while hard-working Americans are being made to shoulder more of the burden for their retirement and health care. And Creator forbid that a life-changing event should occur that would alter one's financial circumstances, because bankruptcy, that remedy of last resort, that fresh start, will be so much harder to claim successfully. The Republicans have enriched their rich contributors and ridden roughshod over the concerns of the average worker.

The humidity, I suppose, has much to do with my dyspepsia. It's forecast that the oppressiveness will break sometime this afternoon, so maybe we'll get some relief. It's seldom that we hit the '90s in mid-June in these parts, but this year has been a miserable standout. Climate change is a fact for all but the numbskulls in D.C.

Mariah and Kaver have embarked on a regimen seemingly devoted to encouraging the last 2 chicks (Skye and Esperanza) to leave the nest. The parents refuse to enter the nest box now, but stand on the perch outside to feed the chicks. This morning, I believe, one of the parents brought a meal and dropped it in the box, forcing the chicks to pick at it themselves instead of having it handed (so to speak) to them. Within a week at most, the parents will fly by the nest with a meal, encouraging the chicks to take it in mid-flight. Nature is truly wondrous.

I hope you all have good days.



Tuesday, June 14, 2005

Guilty, Guilty, Guilty (Not)

I have no idea whether Michael Jackson committed any acts of which he should be ashamed, and I don't really care. I must presume that parents knew what they were doing when they let their children sleep over at Neverland without their supervision. If they were so incautious as to think that it was all innocent fun, be it upon their heads and hearts. Celebrity should be no excuse for throwing caution to the winds, especially latterly after there had been sufficient warning signs to alarm anyone with common sense. As for Michael, let us hope that he has, at long last, learned a valuable lesson - there are some behaviors that the authorities will not tolerate.

Here's a different type of maze. I haven't seen anything like this anywhere else, although in all the wide world I'm certain that others must have had this idea. Nevertheless, you saw it here first.

You are an infiltration agent whose cover, unfortunately, has recently been blown. You are being closely pursued by the internal security forces of the country to which you have been detailed. Needless to say, if you are apprehended, affairs shall not go well for you.

You run down an alleyway and pause by the rear door of a newly constructed building. Hearing growing sounds of pursuit, you try the handle and discover that the door is unlocked. You duck inside and quietly shut the door.

You are confronted by a series of unfurnished, interconnected rooms. Your mission is to find your way through the maze and make your escape through the front door of the building, where a confederate is waiting who will whisk you to safety and procure for you a new identity.





I hope you will forgive my bit of whimsy.

Aconcagua has fallen out of the box now, so there are 3 chicks scurrying about on the walkway. They are keeping each other company, and none seem able to fly quite yet. More news later.

Lastly, in remembrance.


Saturday, June 11, 2005

Changes/I Believe I Can Fly

(The cover of McGurk whispers open, and again the pages begin silently to riffle.)


Think back to the day after graduation - the day when the comforting academic routine was ended and real life, with all its uncertainty, began. How did you feel? Did you wonder, with some trepidation, what lay ahead? Or were you eager to try your wings, to fly fearlessly off into the great unknown? Perhaps you had already planned a course for yourself and were prepared to set out upon it, secure in the knowledge that you had a handle on things, or maybe you waited for life to whisper in your ear and give you a sense of direction.

However you may have felt on that day, however your journey may have begun, I feel certain that, whether you have paused at a metaphorical rest station, or whether your journey continues uninterrupted, you have encountered twists and turns, and obstacles in the road, that have caused you to detour and perhaps occasionally come to a stop. It is even possible that you may have been compelled to alter your presumed destination.

Existence, it sometimes seems, is the Creator's casino (to change metaphors), with a myriad games of chance beckoning you to sit at the table, to lay your money down. The rules of the game, however, are subject to change without notice, and how, and how quickly, you adapt, determine whether you hit the jackpot or empty your pockets.

The point, I guess, if there is one, is that we just never know. When we first spread our wings, when we take our first flight, we cannot know whether we have been trained well enough to survive on our own in a largely uncaring world. Parents and educators can only teach so much, and are themselves often imperfect, and life is often the true classroom. The tests we face there are more rigorous and demanding, and as for the final exam . . . . 

(All photos, as ever, are brought to you courtesy of the wonderful folks at Eastman Kodak Co.)

The two shots above depict Fulmine, near the box, and Ihteram on the walkway. They apparently tumbled from the box during a feeding session a little after noon yesterday. They are both okay and being fed; Fulmine can flutter from one side of the box to the other, and Ihteram, at least for now, scurries around on the walkway. The photo showing all 5 was taken not long before the incident, and will be the last portraying the whole family.

Now the waiting and worrying begins.


Wednesday, June 8, 2005

More Family Fun

Here in the (great, adequate, lousy - take your pick) city of Rochester, it is very hot and humid today - not a felicitous environment for your humble correspondent.

It is difficult to think in this type of environment, so I'll fall back on one of my occasional dodges - here's another maze:

I hope you enjoy these mazes - it's the only creativity I seem to be able to indulge in at this point in time - they're not Diatoms but . . . .


Tuesday, June 7, 2005

You Oughta Be in Pictures

Of the many chick pix we have garnered, without a doubt this is our favorite:

How can you resist a mug like this?


Monday, June 6, 2005

Words to Live By


Smoke 'em if ya got 'em.


And Then Along Came Mary

The fundamentalist conservatives (hereafter Fundacons - I do so love coining words) were right! We do have activist judges! And on the Supreme Court, no less!

For those judges who are protecting us from the very dregs of society, those violent, degenerate pot smokers among the general populace, here's a blast from the past.

Perhaps we should give the Supremes the benefit of the doubt - maybe they are simply, by their ruling, attempting to goad Congress into performing their Constitutional duty and giving states the right to decide issues such as this. Maybe?


Saturday, June 4, 2005

Fun for the Whole Family

When I need to feel better, I play with the Microsoft Paint program (I know you think it's primitive, Albert, but it works for me.) Here's my latest effort:

I hope you enjoy it.


Friday, June 3, 2005

Old Friends

It was only a coffee cup.

On one of my infrequent forays into the outside world, I found myself, one night, having to make a terrible decision. Exiting our car, I placed the foot of my cane on the driveway and draped the straps of my laptop bag over the longer extension of the cane's handle. I slipped the handle of my empty coffee cup onto the index finger of my right hand, the one grasping the cane. This was an operation I had successfully hazarded hundreds of times, stretching back four years to when I could still walk easily and needed the cane mainly for balance. This night, however, the laptop bag began to slide off the cane handle as I was halfway to my feet. My left hand was engaged in bracing myself against the car door, so my only option was to allow the cup to slip from my finger as I reached frantically to catch the bag strap. The cup fell to the driveway and shattered. It was only a coffee cup.

I can't even remember the year that Bonnie bought that cup for me; it had to have been sometime in the early '70s. We were in some specialty housewares store, perhaps Lechter's, we saw a revolving rack filled with cups bearing various male and female names. We were pleasantly surprised to discover that both of our names were represented. We couldn't resist, and each of us bought the other a cup bearing our respective names.

That cup had been close to me since then; it had been my constant companion through so many glorious times, so many crises; it never, through all the years, occurred to me that someday it might not be there. Goodbye, old friend.

I have a multitude of stories of old friends lost; people, pets, and objects that held emotional resonance for me. Of such losses, much of life is composed. Goodbye, old friends.

When the Creator comes to me and informs me that there are new things to be created in some other place, I suspect that I shall look behind at the life I have led and say "Goodbye, old friend."


Thursday, June 2, 2005

If I Leave Here Tomorrow

Today was banding day at Kodak. The eyases were removed from the nest box and taken to the banding area at roughly 10:15 am (I was sound asleep, dammit!) The chicks were sexed and banded; here are their names and sexes:

Esperanza (Spanish - Hope) - Female Silver

Ihteram {EH -t'ram} (Arabic - Respect) - Female Yellow

Fulmine {FUL-meen-ay} (Italian - Lightning) - Male Blue

Skye - Female Green

Aconcagua {ah-cone-CAH-oo-ah} (Andes Mt.) - Male Red

Aconcagua was the last chick to hatch. (All colored bands are on the chicks' right legs; there are black/red and black/green bands on the left legs; these are DEC bands denoting females and males.)

I'm not going to comment on this, I just wanted to put it out there. It's a post from the Discussion Board.

Sharon from California - "Call me jingoistic, but once again, all of the eyas names are foreign and 4/5 very difficult to spell and pronounce. These are American birds -- are there no American names available to give them??

(Note - the names were given by various members of the banding audience - including schoolchildren.)

If you'd like to view a gallery of today's occurrences, here's the link: 

The eyases are all sleeping in a pile right now, exhausted after a long and draining day.



Wednesday, June 1, 2005

Summer Reading

A while ago now, Bonnie began to methodically haunt our (really decent) local library for reading material, and she devoured every author she could find. We encountered many such, but one of her most enjoyable discoveries was an author named Donald Westlake. He is awesomely prolific, and has penned many styles within the mystery genre, but some of his best are what are termed 'comic crime capers'. If you have never had the pleasure of reading any of his work, please give it a try. Many movies have been based on his books; you may even have seen one or two.

My particular favorites are these:

'Dancing Aztecs' - 'Trust Me on This' - All the Dortmunder novels - and 'The Busy Body'

Movies have been made from 'The Busy Body' and four of the Dortmunder novels.

We hope you will enjoy.



Hey! We've been lied to all these years!

Peter Piper couldn't have picked a peck of pickled peppers! To pickle them, they must first be picked! What a scam artist he was!

I know I'm being picky, but . . .