Monday, October 31, 2005

Trick or Treat Thru J-land

Malcolm will be up and about tomorrow. Until then -

Halloween in 1920's Siberia -

"Trick or treat / have a beet / we have nothing / else to eat."



Sunday, October 30, 2005


Malcolm is indisposed. If he is feeling better, the puzzle page will be up tomorrow.


Thursday, October 27, 2005

The 202nd Coming

Rochester has finally received its very own visitation from the Savior. Now all we have to do is figure out how to sell it on ebay.

Image of Jesus seen on city tree

'This is God giving us a sign,' one believer says of silver maple

Greg Livadas
Staff writer

(October 26, 2005) — Call it a cry for peace, a test of faith or a random act of nature, a tree growing on Rochester's North Clinton Avenue so far has attracted several dozen believers who say they see the image of Jesus Christ on the tree's trunk.

"I see it clearly," said Yomaira Otero of Rochester, who stood in the pouring rain Tuesday with six members of her family to see the tree. She spoke in Spanish to her relatives and pointed out the facial features, including the beard of bark she saw. "He looks like he's sleeping."

The "Jesus tree," as some are calling it, is a silver maple growing on the front lawn of the Hickey-Freeman Co. factory at 1155 N. Clinton Ave. It's a few feet from the sidewalk and behind a black metal fence.

The factory, which makes Hickey-Freeman, Bobby Jones and Burberry tailored clothing, has been at the site for 92 years. It sits in the heart of Rochester's infamous "crescent," known for high crime rates.

"It's a sign from God that there should be peace," said Maria Trinidad, who lives on Clifford Avenue. "There is a lot of crime here. People should have faith in God. This is God giving us a sign."

Her daughter, Keila Negron, 13, said she also believed it was a divine sign, but admitted she had trouble visualizing the image on the tree in the rain, which darkened the bark. She vowed to return in better weather and take pictures of the tree.

Jim Holtz, 54, of Greece, said he noticed the image Monday when he stopped in the Cash King pawn shop directly across the street from Hickey-Freeman.

"I was looking out that way as I usually do and saw that on the tree," Holtz said. "I said, 'Am I seeing things?'"

Holtz walked across the street to see whether the image had been spray-painted on. It wasn't.

"I said, 'We gotta get some pictures of this,'" he said, and he contacted the media.

Holtz doesn't know whether the image is a coincidence or a message. He says he believes in God but doesn't regularly attend church.

Karen Marshall, 43, of Rochester also stood on the sidewalk looking at the tree Tuesday. She held newspapers over her head to help keep dry as she pointed out the tree's features to her sister, Ann Manigoult, who had trouble picking out the image.

"We can't physically see Jesus, so we only have signs," Marshall said. "The only way we can know he's here is through signs. He's everywhere. You just have to have faith."

Officials from Hickey-Freeman Co., who were unavailable Tuesday to discuss the tree, so far have tolerated the cars stopping in front of their building and the groups of gawkers on the sidewalk. They aren't sure what else to do because, as the facilities manager said, "there's no protocol for this sort of thing."

Mark Day, 30, a shipping clerk at Hickey-Freeman, took a picture of the tree after seeing others standing outside the factory looking at it.

Day said he believes the tree's design is a coincidence. "I don't think it's a message because God is everywhere," he said.

Doug Mandelaro, a spokesman for Rochester's Roman Catholic Diocese, said he "wouldn't dare to comment on someone else's moment of inspiration or religious experience. Religious experience is and always has been a mystery and very personal."

enlargeEnlarge image
JAY CAPERS staff photographer Some people can see an image of Jesus Christ's face in the bark of this tree on North Clinton Avenue. The eyes are said to be a little below the branching. Day in Photos

  • A 10-year-old grilled cheese sandwich that bore the likeness of the Virgin Mary sold on eBay last year for $28,000.
  • Another image of the Virgin Mary was reported in a salt stain at a Chicago underpass.
  • A Virgin Maryimage was seen in windowpanes of an office building in Clearwater, Fla., in 1996. The building was converted to a shrine.
  • We excitedly await the next coming.  


    Monday, October 24, 2005

    I'm Shocked! Shocked, I Tell You!

    You Are A: Chipmunk!

    Everyone adores these cute woodland animals, known for the stripe that runs down their back. Famously timid, chipmunks will quickly scurry to the safety of their burrows if danger approaches. As a chipmunk, you eat mostly seeds and nuts, but you may sample bird eggs and insects from time to time.

    You were almost a: Mouse or a Groundhog
    You are least like a: Parakeet or a Duck

    Borrowed from Lori, Celeste, Deanna, and probably others.

    We presently cohabit with mice, as you no doubt know; we have, in the past, cohabited with parakeets, and if you have read the Artsy Essay on animals, you know my chipmunk tale. This is, as they say, a kick in the head.


    Wandering in the Wilderness with Montag

    I have previously mentioned my early discovery of and love for science and speculative fiction, and referenced one book in particular, Ray Bradbury’s Fahrenheit 451. The body of work that Bradbury has produced is suffused with the essential wonder, curiosity and awe with which we humans regard the world and the universe, but this one tale seems to me to distill the experience of a person who is compelled to break out of the comfortable shell of his existence and discover a new and better way of viewing the world, and finding his place in it. The scene at the end of the book, that marvelous depiction of people memorizing works of literature and becoming living stories, is a powerful one that I shall never forget.

    So it is with this amazing medium that is so young, and yet is already being taken for granted by so many. I refer, of course, to J-land, this marvelous library of living, breathing tales. It is, in a way, something new under the sun, a real-time serialization of countless lives being lived simultaneously; vaster, perhaps, than the fabled Library at Alexandria. Imagine yourself entering, say, a Barnes & Noble, and glancing about you at the shelves upon shelves of books and publications. You are just here to browse, maybe, but the sight of all those books draws you forward, as though you were an iron filing and this storehouse of literature a magnet.

    There is an indefinable difference, however, that you cannot at first lay your hand upon. A certain title may catch your eye, inveigling and intriguing you. You might reach out and pluck the book from the shelf, perhaps running your hand over the cover to feel the texture.

    Oddly enough, as you begin to spread the covers apart, the book insists upon falling open at the rear rather than at the anterior, and, in astonishment, you watch as a miracle occurs. As you gaze upon the blank pages immediately preceding the back cover, words appear, as if from nowhere, before your wondering eyes. Your very gaze seems the impetus for new writing to inscribe itself upon the page, and for new, untouched pages to magically add themselves to the tome.

    Perhaps you turn to the beginning of the book, to see how this story got its start, or perhaps you are so intrigued by the continuing saga that you don’t feel the need to examine the past. Whatever. As you look around, other books begin to open their leaves, and new stories delineate themselves. You find yourself slipping inevitably into a botanical garden of endless paths and byways, a fairyland of marvelous, exotic blossoms, each tempting you with an astonishing variety of petals and scents.

    Such is this toddling medium. The blossoms continue to grow and spread, and the stories are alive, continuing to write themselves on a daily basis, leading the reader into the future to discover what lies ahead. But there is more to this, of course. It is also like a worldwide cocktail party, where guests wander here and there, stopping to listen to intriguing conversations, joining in on occasion, and sometimes discovering someone with whom one feels a connection, someone who may eventually become a friend and companion on the promenade we call life.

    Has there ever before existed such a miracle? Bonnie and I think not.

    (I hope I have made some sort of sense here and offered an intelligible point.)

     (P.S. - puzzle update - Bonnie has demonstrated that there is more than one way to solve the puzzle, if the solver does not realize that the top left box in the bottom right block is supposed to be a vowel. This is wholly due to my inexperience; I hope to remedy that in future.)


    Sunday, October 23, 2005

    Bon & Mals' Sunday Puzzle Page

    Bonnie is thrilled that LeAnn has been solving 'Rungs', and has actually sent in a solution. As so often seems to happen, particularly with a puzzle like 'Rungs', alternate answers can be discovered; such was the case in this instance. First, Bonnie's answer, and then LeAnn's.

    SWEET                SWEET              

    SWEEP               TWEET

    SHEEP                TWEED

    CHEEP                TREED

    CHEEK                BREED

    CREEK                BREAD

    CREAK                TREAD

    CREAM                DREAD

    DREAM                DREAM

    Congratulations to LeAnn; stop by and say hi to her.

    I am standing in as guest puzzler this week; Bonnie has been more than ordinarily busy, and has also discovered a new, favorite type of puzzle: you may have seen it in USA Today or the new, larger version of TV Guide (free subscriptions appreciated!) - it's called Sudoku; Bonnie says she has heard mention of them on tv, and thoroughly enjoys them, so nothing will do but that I sit down and teach myself to construct them, so that Bonnie will have a continual supply of them.

    After I had managed to construct a few, a thought occurred to me - I could personalize these puzzles for J-landers by placing a name in the puzzle grid and adding a little anagram that refers to the person in some way. I am beginning with visitors to our journal, in no particular order; if you are reading, you will eventually see a puzzle devoted to you.

    This inaugural puzzle is dedicated to someone who is undergoing surgery - Bonnie and I wish her the best of luck and a speedy recovery.

    This is the way the puzzle is solved: each row, column, and block of nine small boxes must contain one each of the nine listed letters. When solved, the puzzle will contain a J-lander's first name. For extra points, you may solve the anagram - in this case, the person's first name and the name of her journal.

    I hope I have explained this clearly; if not, send us an email with any questions and we'll be happy to clarify. My chief consultant, official tester and rater gives this puzzle a rating of 5.

    Happy solving and may the coming week bring you the best.



    Friday, October 21, 2005

    'I've Fallen and I Can't Get Up'

    I had a 'senior moment' yesterday morning. I climbed out of bed and left the bedroom to visit the bathroom. Feeling slightly wobbly, I moved to brace myself against the wall. Instead of pressing firmly, my hand slid along the wall and lost contact, and I followed it down, landing like the proverbial ton of bricks and momentarily losing consciousness. Bonnie heard me fall and came rushing down the hallway to find me lying half in and half out of the bathroom, my eyes closed and my body motionless. After her initial shock, she checked to see that I was breathing and felt for a pulse. After placing a fluffy towel beneath my head and a damp washcloth on my forehead, she waited and prayed.

    I eventually revived, feeling as groggy as I have ever been. Bonnie hurried to help me up, but I insisted that she not attempt to lift me; in 2003 I tried to help her up and something in my back emitted an audible snap and, for the rest of that year, pain was a constant companion and I could barely lift anything without paying an agonizing price. I didn't want the same to happen to Bonnie, so I asked for my cane. She gently helped lift me as I levered myself to an erect position and shuffled off to bed, where I slept for a further seven hours.

    Aside from the aches and bruises, I seem not to have suffered anything serious, and I am now using my cane whenever I move about, something I have previously resisted doing, at least in the house, to give me a small illusion of independence. Alas, that illusion must now be relinquished.


    Tuesday, October 18, 2005

    They're At It Again

    October 18, 2005 01:32 PM ET Producer price inflation at 15-year high

    WASHINGTON (Reuters) - U.S. producer prices shot up by an unexpectedly large 1.9 percent last month, the biggest gain in more than 15 years, as energy costs surged in the wake of hurricanes that devastated the U.S. Gulf Coast, a government report showed on Tuesday.

    However, outside of volatile food and energy costs, (oh, by all means remove the volatility)

     prices received by farms, factories and refineries rose a relatively subdued 0.3 percent, the Labor Department said.

    Stock prices fell on the producer price report, which kept alive concerns over inflation and profit pressures, and the likelihood of further interest-rate hikes from the Federal Reserve.

    And who, pray tell, found this information to be unexpected? Why, it's our old friends ...

    Wall Street economists had expected producer prices to rise just 1.1 percent, with prices outside of food and energy up a tame 0.2 percent.

    Analysts were divided on the degree to which the higher costs producers face from energy prices would feed through to the prices consumers pay.

    Energy prices at the producer level soared 7.1 percent in September, the biggest jump since October 1990, while food prices gained 1.4 percent, the largest rise in nearly a year.

    "The real question is whether companies will squeeze their (profit) margins as costs increase or if they are going to increase prices," said Michael Metz, chief investment strategist at Oppenheimer Holdings Inc. in New York. "I think they will increase prices."

    Batten down the hatches, people, we're in for rough waters.



    Monday, October 17, 2005

    Pages From an Unkept Journal



    There was a time, not so long ago, when Halloween was a time to let the wildness inside loose for a night, and children of all ages could be out after nightfall, wandering the streets and entertaining their neighbors with their costumes and masks, and their high-pitched entreaties (or veiled threats) of "Trick or treat!" Granted, the ritual still occurs, but the innocence of yesteryear has been partially dispelled by the minority of sociopaths who lurk among the population, deriving sick thrills from insinuating harmful objects into apples or candy bars, and parents nowadays are probably well-advised to host parties, where they can control events, rather than trusting to fate to keep their children safe.

    Many of my recollections of Halloweens past are jumbled together, but three stand out. In 1961, when I was 12, I was an avid reader and viewer of whatever examples of the horror genre I could locate. My costume for that year was decided by my having recently seen the Boris Karloff thriller, "The Mummy." I implored my mother to allow me the use of some old bedsheets, and I set about tearing them into strips and augmenting their yellowed condition by the judicious use of food coloring. Clad only in a pair of briefs and socks, I spent a couple of hours carefully wrapping myself in the strips of cloth and securing them with safety pins. Despite my mother’s protestations, I was determined to display to the world what an awesome costume I had created.

    The temperature was dropping into the mid-forties and it was quite breezy as I stepped out into that crisp October evening with my candy bag in hand. Once the members of our little band had gathered, we began going from door to door, occasionally pausing to swap information with other groups about where the best candy might be obtained. Our subdivision consisted of two long streets, with a few extra houses at each end of my street on what were called ‘circles’, so it took awhile for us to thoroughly cover the neighborhood.

    To my discomfiture, about 15 minutes after we had set out, I discovered that the acts of walking and stretching forth my arms were causing my ‘bandages’ to gradually shift and loosen, so that by the end of the evening my head was the only part of my body that retained its original wrapping. There were a few strips dangling from my shoulders, still held together with safety pins, and a few strips still attached to my scrawny torso, but my legs were completely naked and I was forced to take the excess strips and stuff them into the waistband of my briefs, so that they hung down like some sort of bizarre skirt. Of course, I was thoroughly chilled by that time and beginning to shiver and tremble. I must have looked like a complete ass. The other youngsters must have thought so too, as I heard giggles and snickers from each group that we passed. Thoroughly humiliated, I cut short my candy gathering and headed for home, where I was treated to a lengthy lecture about decency.

    The second incident occurred in 1965, when I was a sophomore. I had been invited to a costume party, and, once again deciding that I would concoct a marvelous costume, I gathered together my list of appurtenances. I slathered Karo © syrup all over my face as an adhesive and plastered shredded cotton and cotton balls to it. For added gruesome effect, I took half of an eyeball from a model kit called The Visible Head (from Renwal, I think), inserted a brown iris applique, affixed it about halfway down my left cheek and shaped cotton around it to form a drooping lid. I completed the horrid mess by sponging the cotton (and my hands) with a hideous mixture of blue and green food coloring. I threw on a ratty plaid shirt and ragged jeans as an appropriate ensemble to heighten the effect. Inspecting myself in the mirror, I thought even a zombie might flee from me in fear.

    The party was not due to take place for a couple of hours, so my parents prevailed upon (ordered) me to spend that time handing out candy to the neighborhood children. I eventually got into the spirit of the thing, especially after I had received more than a few compliments on my sickly, rotting countenance. I was thinking what a hit I was going to be at the party when my 7th grade math teacher, who lived on the street opposite ours, came to the door with his 1 year old daughter cradled in his arms. She opened her eyes, got a good look at me, and began to shriek and screech at the top of her tiny voice. I was startled, and even more taken aback when a torrent of righteous wrath was unleashed upon me. Mr. Parker actually shouted at me, berating me in no uncertain terms for scaring the bejabbers out of his precious baby girl, turning beet red as he did so. I mumbled a profuse apology, all the while thinking, "What kind of parent takes a 1 year old out on Halloween? What did you think she was going to see, Easter bunnies?" But, being a mere teenager compared to his 36 years, I restrained my wiseass tendencies and attempted to placate him. He eventually calmed down and apologized for his overreaction, all the while continuing to lay the majority of the blame on me, as if I should have anticipated some such occurrence.

    As the party was due to begin shortly, I left off dispensing candy and asked my dad to drive me to my friend’s house. Thankfully, I had no further confrontations with Mr. Parker, and, presumably, his little girl grew to adulthood without any trace of lingering trauma. (And yes, I was a hit at the party.)

    The final incident occurred sometime nearer to the first than the last, and may even have taken place earlier. For a time, I was of the opinion that since people were unwise enough to put candles in jack o’ lanterns, I and my friends were entitled to them. I can not now remember how I conceived this notion, but I do now recognize it for the act of petit thievery that it was, and this is how I was cured of the activity.

    We had finished gathering candy in our own neighborhood and the night was still comparatively young, so our little band traveled to a nearby subdivision to garner as much sugary goodness as possible. Approaching one ill-lit house, we could not help but notice the brightly shining grin of the huge carved pumpkin resting on the stoop. Understanding that so much light must mean a sizable candle, I greedily reached for the lid of the pumpkin and had just touched it when it startled the daylights out of me by announcing, in a loud falsetto voice,"Hi! I’m Suzy Pumpkin!"

    As it turned out, the man of the house was some sort of tech freak who had wired the pumpkin with a microphone and was waiting, crouched in the dark behind his living-room curtains, for some unsuspecting group such as ours to approach and be duped.

    Needless to say, perhaps, that episode completely cured me of the urge to covet candles.


    Props - Part ???

    Welcome, Sie. Welcome to our humble cottage in the woods.

    This is Sie's journal - Pfft. If you drop by her journal, you'll find some mighty fine writing. Hie thee hence.


    Prop-erly Respectful

    "Welcome back, my friends, to the show that never ends. We're so glad you could attend. Come inside! Come inside!" Emerson, Lake and Palmer, Karn Evil Nine First Impression, 1973

    We'd like to say a first-time hello to Vince of the journal To Grow is to Be Anxious. It was nice of you to stop and come inside. Drop by Vince's place and say hi, if you please.


    Sunday, October 16, 2005

    Night-Owl Props

    The fire is burning low, but the tea is still hot and our eyes are still open, so we'd like to say hail and hello to another visitor, Donna of the journal Dust Bunny Protector. Stop by and see what she likes on her salad.

    Update: Donna has featured a site in her journal that more of you might like to discover. Go to:

    Add yourself and watch the mushrooms sprout.


    Unclear On the Concept

    The cobwebbed corners of J-land ...

    This is neither a plug nor a prop; it is offered simply for your bemusement. This 15-year old gentleman did visit our journal a while ago, so I should at least mention it.

    Warning - he has not yet learned to speak respectfully.


    I Was Going to Go Lie Down, But ...

    uh oh ... props ...

    Because turnabout is fair play, and because ... because ... well, just because she really deserves it, here's a plug for Celeste and her journal the dailies. If you crave the finest in kneeslappers and speedy poetry, stop by and share some chamomile tea. You'll be glad you did.



    We waited as long as we could, so someone could finish if they wished. It's now time for the new installment of 'Rungs'.

    This is Bonnie's answer to last week's puzzle:







    And here is this week's (slightly longer) puzzle:










    Bonnie says "Good luck to everyone. May the rest of your Sunday be a good one."



    Yet More Considerations

    Oh, dear. Our little lacquered chest of similes is empty. We'll just have to do without.

    We'd like to welcome another visitor to our breakfast nook, Ms. Tamara Gerkin, who has a bona fide website that you may want to visit.

    This is Ms. Gerkin's official website.

    And, because she's so nice, we're plugging Christina's journal, My Journey With MS.


    Saturday, October 15, 2005


    By now some of you may have noticed that Bonnie and I possess a predilection for the macabre, so this tickled us pink when we saw it. Many thanx to Vicki (see previous entry) for digging this up.


    It's a good thing we're not superstitious, eh?


    More Considerations

    We check our recent entries on occasion to see if we've missed any alerts (you all must know about spotty alerts by now) and so we discovered that another visitor has signed our guestbook. We wish we knew her name so that we might greet her properly, but for now she must be known as mymaracas, and her journal is entitled,simply, Maraca. She has a delightful journal; go see.

    Update: She has kindly informed us that her name is Vicki. Hello, and welcome, Vicki.


    Friday, October 14, 2005


    The stream of electrons that passes through our laptop continues to carry visitors through our little clearing in the cyberwoods. Hello to Pennie of the journal A Pennies Worth. Nice to have met you. Stop by and say hi to her, if you please.




    Statistics. Numbers beloved of economists and analysts. Numbers and equations are their lives - they are comforted (one presumes) by all those neat little columns of figures. They refer to those of us who have actual lives as 'the consumer.' To economists, we form a collective of indistinguishable automatons, marching into stores with wallets and pocketbooks in hand, blithely (and blindly) spending, spending, spending. Core inflation is low, these educated, academic idiots say, so the consumer is fine. Never mind that the items that have risen in price the most, food and energy, are necessities, not luxuries; take them out of the inflation numbers because they are volatile, and voila, the consumer is just fine.

    It never fails to amuse us when this happens, because we are consumers, and we understand what those intelligent morons apparently do not:

    CNBC Market Dispatches
    10/14/2005 10:19:39 AM ET
    Consumer concerns trump inflation relief
    The latest measure of consumer confidence shows an unexpected decline. Consumer prices soar in September, but excluding energy prices show a modest gain. GE meets profit and sales targets.

    Blame it on the consumer.

    The market's giddiness about low core inflation, excluding food and energy prices, was short lived. A weaker-than-expected measure of consumer confidence, combined with disappointing retail sales numbers, cut the legs from under the early rally.

    It was only weaker-than-expected by economists. Anyone who has to live by a budget could have predicted otherwise, as Bonnie and I did last week when we read that the consumer confidence report would be released today. But economists live in some cloudland in the high ether where the sun always shines and the consumer is flush with cash and happy to work at a dead-end, low-paying job.

    The University of Michigan's preliminary measure of October consumer confidence came in at 75.4, compared to 76.9 in September. Economists were expecting October confidence to bounce back this month as consumers saw lower prices at the pump. But today's number was well below the consensus expectation of 80.

    Retail sales weren't as encouraging either, rising just 0.2% in September, according to the Commerce Department. Economists predicted a 0.5% rise in retail sales. But excluding auto sales, retail sales rose 1.1%, stronger than the 0.8% expected.

    The consumer price index (CPI) rose 1.2% in September, the largest jump in 25 years, compared to a 0.5% rise the month before, the Labor Department reported. Economists were expecting a rise of 0.9%. But the sharp rise was largely driven by high energy prices, which rose 12% following disruptions to supply by Hurricanes Katrina and Rita. Gasoline prices soared 17.9% last month.

    The core CPI, which excludes food and energy, rose just 0.1%, half the 0.2% rise economists predicted.

     "... which excludes food and energy ..." If we didn't have to feed ourselves, our furnaces, or our cars, we'd have enough money to circumnavigate the globe two or three times, living it up at each stop along the way. BUT ...

    Economists. Will they ever learn???


    Thursday, October 13, 2005

    Weekend Assignment #81: Favorite Sci-Fi Movies

    John Scalzi has rattled our cage, so here we go.

    The one movie that impressed and affected us the most, the one that we catch each time it comes on, has to be Close Encounters of the Third Kind. Steven Spielberg showed us a marvelous portrait of a man who is touched by the inexplicable and whose whole life gradually falls apart as he tries to fathom what has happened to him. We witness his wonder and confusion as he is compelled to recreate his experience, and the effect on his family and neighbors. The end of the film rewards him, and those who were alike affected, for reliance and trust in his feelings and intuitions.

    Our favorite runner-up is The Day the Earth Stood Still, one of the first of the early atomic-age efforts to seek to point out the unintentional folly of humankind.

    Our three favorite cycles would have to be the Alien series, the Terminator series, and the Star Wars films.

    As far as the fantasy genre goes, the Lord of the Rings trilogy wins hands down. The Harry Potter series comes in a close second.

    Our favorite worst genre movie of all time is Manos: Hands of Fate, a truly awful effort by a man named Hal Warren who wanted to make a standout on a shoestring and succeeded admirably, if not in quite the way he wished. If you can catch the MST3K show on which it was featured, pop some corn and get ready for a rousing good time.

    I have to agree with John's estimation of Ripley as the most successful, well-developed character in science fiction. Throughout the series of films, and especially in Aliens, the sheer guts of this woman and the fearlessness against exceedingly long odds that she displays are inspiring.



    Autumn, for Bonnie and I, is a time to reminisce about pleasant memories of times past, when we were much younger and the world was new and exciting. As I have been rummaging through the chest of Penfield’s beginnings, so has Bonnie been doing in regard to Webster, and she wished to include here a tale of the early years of what we think of as our first home town. The story is taken from a book entitled Webster ... Through the Years, written by the town historian Esther A. Dunn in 1971.

    "Old scrapbooks and diaries give a real insight into the lives of people and events of the time. Many interesting items were found in Lorin Hendee’s scrapbook which were taken from a local paper between 1879 and 1881.

    "The cases of trichinosis in West Webster attracted considerable attention. In 1879 Mrs. Haines of Webster and her sister Mrs. Heslor took tea at the home of Mrs. Langdon, the wife of Esquire Langdon. Among the other viands partaken of by the quiet little party was some fine raw ham. It was eaten by all who were present, including Mrs. Langdon, Mrs. Heslor, Miss Dellie Langdon, daughter of Mrs. Langdon, and a fourteen year old son of Mrs. Langdon, named Henry.

    "Some two weeks after the party they were all taken ill; violent pains were felt in all parts of their bodies, particularly their muscles. Dr. Dunning of Webster, to whom the cases were intrusted, decided that nothing but the dreadful trichinae could produce these symptoms.

    "Mrs. Haines died first. Dr. Dunning sent a piece of muscle of the deceased to Dr. Porter Farley in Rochester for examination. The report proved the doctor’s diagnosis to be true.

    "The only person to survive was the son Henry who had been very low and out of his head for a long time. The father Esquire Langdon escaped only by reason of his absence on the day of the fatal meal.

    "The article concluded with a stern warning for everyone to be careful not to eat raw ham, sausage, or pork of any kind."

    A caution that we might all profit from, even in these latter days. One can only imagine the consternation of Esquire Langdon and, indeed, any other family members upon learning of the diagnosis.


    Props for the Heck of It

    This is a site that seems to be a well-kept secret, so we would like to attempt to give it wider exposure (besides, we can't resist those pictures of Fidgi.) At Food for Thought and MoreLori is offering healthy recipes. Go visit and eat your heart out!


    Wednesday, October 12, 2005


    "You discover how much you have aged when you realize that the past has become more important and interesting than the future." - Malcolm Mott

    Until I see a similar quote elsewhere, I will attribute this to myself. If you know of someone else who has gotten there before me, feel free to alert me so that I can feel properly humiliated.

    I forgot, in my previous entry, to credit the author of Penfield's Past; she is our late town historian and her name is Katherine Wilcox Thompson.

    I'd like to reproduce a portion of what it was like for early travelers in these parts, to give you an idea of how the lay of the land, in large part, remains:

    'The steep sides of the [Irondequoit] valley separated Penfield from the rest of the country to the west. Until the advent of the automobile a trip to the booming city of Rochester was a nightmarish journey in earliest days, a tedious affair by stage or wagon later, and a roundabout way by subsequent railroad or trolley routes.

    'Recalling very early days, Edwin Scrantom, who was nine years of age when his family occupied the first cabin on the site of Rochester in 1812, wrote about early roads:

    " ... and now I may as well speak of a far worse and more horrible locality, because much longer, secluded, dense, and intricate. The place of dread was down through the labrynthian 'dugway' going to Penfield village. The rains always gullied that skulking place of robbers and Indians, and one had to keep his eye strained to keep his horse and himself from going headlong into the deep yawning ruts on either side, and when by dint of good piloting, one got down safely on to the narrow bridge that carried him across Allen's Creek at the bottom, the flat land that he came into, studded with a young growing thicket that stood high and shaded the road on both sides the whole length of the hill beyond, was a dreary dark passage, muddy and full of holes that made one wish that every time he passed through it he might not be obliged to repeat the adventure. All around this flat passage are hills, and to the north of it are clusters of sugarloaf hills,where John Atwood and one Cobb, an old recluse of that day, and others dug for [Captain] Kidd's treasure and told lying myths about striking the chests and how they moved because some of the company in their sudden joy at finding the treasure, spoke or shouted, and thus broke the charm! I say, these surroundings with the stories that had their history here, always created a dread whenever we went over them - an apprehension of coming evil, a terror of suspicion, that though it never resulted in any disaster or circumstances confirming our fears, was, nevertheless a disturbing element in our day experiences, and our night dreams. I will mention one, and the severest one I had through this dark and dreary road. I had been dispatched on horseback by William Cobb, the first edge-tool maker and blacksmith general ... to Daniel Penfield, Esq. of Penfield, to get a package of $1000 in money. I went, and received my package, strongly bound up in the yellow post-office paper; and, as I was about leaving, Mr. Penfield, following me outside of his office, told me I must not stop anywhere, nor show it, nor tell any man I had it, nor take it out of my pocket where he had pinned it in cautiously. And he added, "You may be robbed and murdered if anyone knows you have so much money." I can distinctly recollect the trim little man now, ... his hand raised, and his index finger bent to give awful meaning to his solemn injunction to me. ... And so, impressed with the responsibility of my errand, and holding my breath, I mounted my horse and began my journey. All came out safe and well - but it was a regular 'Tan-O-Shanter'(sic) ride, with all the witches and hobgoblins that beset him, and all the dread they inspired. And when I came to a certain pine tree - just above the mouth of the Dugway - near where tradition had it that a certain pedlar had been murdered years before for his money - I put whip to my horse (and he was a good one) and shutting my eyes for the next half mile, I listened to the clatter of the feet of my flying horse as they woke the echoes of the woods and floated away into them."

    Such is the undeniably horror-ridden region which we call home, and it still retains a slight flavor of those old times, at least late at night when the chill wind whistles through bare branches. The bowl of the flood plain, where the bridge over Allen's Creek exists to this day (although constructed of concrete and steel now) is still surrounded by sugarloaf sand hills, and beautiful country it is.


    Tuesday, October 11, 2005


    Those of us who maintain journals are, each in our own ways, small publishing concerns. I recently ran across a story from our town’s history that Bonnie and I would like to share, because it is, like many stories in J-land, equal parts sweetness and poignancy.

    I don’t think I’ll be giving away any big secret if I state that we live in the town of Penfield, east of Rochester. It is, after all, a sizable town, and I doubt that anyone plans to hunt us down. The story that I would like to relate is taken from a book entitled Penfield’s Past, published in 1960 and reprinted in 1990.

    The book begins with a beautifully written prologue that tells of a young man of 23, Leroy K. Williams, and his 13-year-old sister Nellie. Through the agency of a poker game, Leroy’s father had assumed possession of a printing press and had given it to his son, who began publication of a weekly newspaper called the Penfield Extra.

    On Thursday, August 28, 1862, Leroy passed on the title of publisher to Nellie, as he, along with many of his friends, had just enlisted in the Army of the Union as a member of the 8th Cavalry. He was never to return to Penfield; he was shot and killed on November 12, 1864, in the Shenandoah Valley.

    Little Nellie, for so she was called by those who knew her, set to with a will and produced a prospectus for her paper. This is how it read:

    PROSPECTUS of the PENFIELD EXTRA, published by NELLIE WILLIAMS. A Little lass of Fourteen Summers, who is the sole EDITRESS AND COMPOSITOR, And probably the youngest Publisher and Proprietor Of a weekly Newspaper in the world. Terms only Fifty Cents a year, invariably in advance. WEEKLY CIRCULATION FOURTEEN HUNDRED COPIES.

    At the very bottom she had written: All Editors giving an extract of my new prospectus & small corner, I will consider it a birthday present.

    A partial front page of issue #33 is reproduced in the book; at the top, between the words Penfield Extra, is an illustration of the Holy Bible inscribed with the words ‘Our Hope’. Below, between two engravings of scrollwork, are the words ‘Little Nellie’s Little Paper’.

    Ellen Therressa Williams published her paper, called by the Rochester papers a "creditable weekly", from the date of her brother's enlistment until April 2, 1866, when the costs of publishing became too onerous. She was married in 1867, had a daughter and a son, and died of consumption on May 20, 1875.

    Her efforts contributed greatly to the preservation of Penfield’s early history, so that it could eventually be passed on to the readers of the waning years of the 20th century. For a young girl in her teens, her accomplishments were, and are, truly impressive. May we all, of whatever age, be able to say the same.


    Update - This is One Way to be Found

    If you must die alone, make sure people know that you have something worth stealing - that way you might be discovered more quickly.

    AMSTERDAM (Reuters) - A Dutch burglar phoned police after fleeing in panic when he found the corpse of an 89-year-old woman in a house he broke into in The Hague.

    Police said they were still searching for the burglar who "got the fright of his life."

    "He said he was the burglar and that he found a corpse," a police spokesman said. "He found the mortal remains in one of the rooms and left the home to call emergency number 112."

    Police were investigating if anything was stolen and believed the woman may have been dead for some time.

    This seems to be happening with disturbing regularity.



    We can't help but wonder how new visitors manage to discover this rustic backwater, but somehow they do, so we'd like to welcome Liza of the journal Liza's Life. Drop by and read about her car.


    Monday, October 10, 2005

    Don't Let This Happen to You

    Automatic bill paying is extolled by many who think that it is a wonderful and convenient system. However ...

    Man lay dead in bed for two years
    Condo fees and bills were still being paid
    Body finally found in mummified state

    WINNIPEG—His telephone number was still listed in the telephone directory and his condominium fees and bills were automatically being withdrawn from his bank account.

    No one knew Jim Sulkers had died in his bed almost two years ago.

    Neighbour Sam Shuster said residents in the complex often wondered where the man they knew only as Jim had gone, but were told his condominium fees were still being paid.

    "How can that happen, for God's sake. Two years!" Shuster said yesterday of the man who had been a resident in the building since the mid-1980s.

    "I used to ask the president of the board of directors where in the hell is he? She said all she knew was the bank gets the monthly money so we don't worry about it."

    Sulkers' remains were discovered Wednesday. Manitoba's chief medical examiner, Dr. Thambirajah Balachandra, determined he had died of natural causes.

    Sulkers, believed to be in his 50s, had multiple sclerosis. Balachandra said there were no signs of trauma and he was able to quickly rule out homicide, suicide or accident as a cause of death. But because the body was in a mummified state, he could not determine an exact cause.

    He said a newspaper dated Nov. 21, 2002, was found in the man's apartment and a wall calendar was opened to November 2002 — evidence the man died nearly two years ago.

    A cousin, Kim Dyck of Winnipeg, said she lost contact with the man after his mother died about 10 years ago, but relatives had attempted to make contact with Sulkers last summer when they were in the city for a wedding.

    "They knocked on his door and he didn't answer," she said. "You assume he isn't home. You certainly don't assume he's dead."

    She said the man's bills must have been covered by a pension cheque automatically deposited into his bank account.

    Neighbours said Sulkers' mailbox had become full several times and was always emptied by a letter carrier.

    Canada Post spokesman Brian Garagan said letter carriers are required to clear full mailboxes and inform a supervisor, who calls the condo owner. He said the corporation was trying to determine if that policy was followed.

    He said Sulkers' mail delivery was halted at some point but he wasn't sure when. He said he would be talking to the letter carrier on the route.

    Marcel Baril, executive director of the Family Centre in Winnipeg, called the situation bizarre and sad. "It's odd that we live in a society where technology can take care of our affairs like that, even if we passed away two years ago, and nobody's noticed."

    A spokeswoman for the Multiple Sclerosis Society of Canada said the disease itself was not fatal but complications could be.

    Canadian Press

    The article doesn't explain what occurred to cause someone to enter Mr. Sulkers's apartment and discover the body. Maybe the money ran out?



    Sunday, October 9, 2005

    The Puzzle Page

    First, we must say a very humble thank you to Celeste for her generous comment. We like to think that all of J-land is friendly, except for the infrequent spammers (may they receive the Blue Screen of Rejection.)

    And now, it's once again time for BONNIE'S SUNDAY PUZZLE PAGE. Here is the answer to last week's 'Rungs':







    Bonnie is worried that this week's may be too easy; she had less time to spend on it because she was busy tending to the pathetic lump. Nevertheless, here is this week's 'Rungs':







    May you all enjoy a pleasant Sunday.




    Saturday, October 8, 2005


    Though I have professed for years untold that I do not enjoy being surprised, I have found that my philosophy has changed. I still don't like sudden knocks upon the door or anonymous phone calls, but J-land is different because there is no pressure or trepidation involved. It's a very nice surprise to open one's journal and discover that someone new has visited and left tracks in the snow, so to speak; it's like awakening on Christmas morning to discover that Santa has come in the heart of the night to deliver a delightful present.

    In yesterday's entry there was another present - I am making the reasonable assumption that her name is Kelly, and many of you already know her journal In my opinion, and Yes I have an opinion on EVERYTHING. If you don't, you might want to stop and say 'hi'.

    Oh, and while you're at it, go say hi to Brandy at her journal, My world, my rant if you need waking up.


    Friday, October 7, 2005

    Weekend Assignment #80 - Bonnie's Entry

    A young man, the first of his family to ever attend school, was sitting at his desk doing his homework. His father came up behind him, studied the papers for a moment, and then said, "Well, son, how do you like school?" "Oh, I like it fine." the boy replied. "Guess what we learned today? Pi r squared."

    The father frowned deeply and said "What kind of thing is that to teach children? Everyone knows that pie are not squared, pie are round!"


    Thursday, October 6, 2005

    Weekend Assignment #80

     Okay. John Scalzi (you all know J.S.) has afforded me the opportunity to reprint one of my old favorites, for any who might have missed it.

    Weekend Assignment #80: Share a favorite joke. Keep it clean, of course. Otherwise, go nuts.

    There once lived a woman whose husband worked long hours and enjoyed stopping in at the bar after work, frequently arriving home very late and quite drunk, and often in a bad mood. This made life increasingly lonely and unhappy for the woman, so one day she decided to purchase a pet to provide a pleasant antidote to her grumpy and remote husband.

    Entering the pet shop, she spent some time looking around at the variety of animals, unsure what sort of companionship she craved, and finally, in frustration, she turned to the proprietor and inquired of him what he thought might make a suitable pet.

    "I have a lively and affable bird here that you might like," he said, leading her over to a creature that resembled nothing so much as an enormous toucan, with black and white feathers and a gaily colored beak.

    "What type of bird is this?" the woman asked. The proprietor, who was setting up a terrarium, said, "It's called a 'crunch bird'." "Why is it called that?" she asked. He explained, "It's the literal translation of what the inhabitants of its native region call this bird. Watch."

    He plucked a decorative branch from the terrarium and placed it upon the countertop. "Crunch bird, branch," he said. The bird speedily flew to the branch and, with its exceedingly sharp, serrated beak, reduced the branch to a small pile of chips within the space of a minute.

    "It will consume anything that you order it to, if you preface the name of the item with the words 'crunch bird', so you must exercise some care," the proprietor said. The woman carefully approached the bird, which gazed soulfully up at her, nuzzled her hand with its beak, and made a low warbling sound. "I'll take it," she said.

    That night her husband spent a particularly lengthy time at the bar, and upon arriving home, began to berate his wife for some imagined wrong. His loud and indignant voice elicited a raucous squawk from the bird. Rolling his bloodshot eyes in the direction of the creature, he snarled, "What the hell is that?" "It's a crunch bird," his wife said. He roared, "CRUNCH BIRD, MY ASS!"

    Extra credit: Seriously: Do people think you're funny?

    Well, that depends. Does it mean I'm funny if people point at me and double over, guffawing, as tears of uncontrollable hilarity pour down their cheeks? (There's no way I can be serious about this. Scratch the extra credit.)





    Pepperoncini - Just for grins, I checked out the Googlism website yesterday (borrowed from Cynthia), and it was quite entertaining. The list was much too long to include here, but this entry, I think, matches well.

    "Malcolm is an incoherent thing of theatrical shreds and patches."

    This is a shorter version, obtained by using the search term "Malcolmis" (courtesy of Celeste) :

    Malcolm is ...

    ... less warrior prince than California surfer boy.

    ... key criticism.

    ... an historian specializing in seventeenth century English constitutional history.


    ... waiting for his paperwork to be completed.

    ... currently Head of the English Language Unit at Arabian Gulf University, Manama, Bahrain.

    ... more attractive than the current housing market.

    ... our seven year old son.

    ... better off asleep.

    ... still alive.

    ... below.

    Lettuce - (These next two sections are for Lori, for whom they should bring back memories.)

    Sad to say, our local home-improvement center and a large piece of the Wegmans empire, Chase-Pitkin, has lost the battle and the war against the forces of the big-box generals, Lowe’s and Home Depot. All of the stores are slated to be closed, and Wegmans will now concentrate on expanding its core business, groceries and food service. It remains to be seen whether Wegmans can continue to hold its own against the price-slashing strategy of Wal-Mart. (Unhappily, there will be no more incidents of the popular pastime of chasing Pitkins.)

    Tomatoes - Also sad to relate is the impending bankruptcy of another local institution of 40 years or so, Hill TV. Back in the ‘70s and ‘80s, they ran a series of commercials featuring , at one time or another, most of the members of the Hill family, and they became famous for their tagline (which also became a local buzzline) "... because ... when they’re gone, they’re gone." Lamentably, due to the likes of Wal-Mart, Circuit City and Best Buy, the time has come to say "... they’re gone."

    Red Onions - From the Democrat & Chronicle ‘Police Beat’:

    A 34-year-old Penfield man was arrested by Monroe County sheriff deputies and charged with robbery and reckless endangerment about 4 p.m. Sept. 25. Deputies said the man took three DVDs from the Wal-Mart at 1200 Marketplace Drive and walked out of the store. When approached by security guards, he fought with two guards and got to his vehicle with one of the guards hanging onto him. The man pulled away in his vehicle with the guard holding onto the vehicle and him, then struck two parked cars, throwing them both from the vehicle, deputies said. The guard was unhurt but the suspect suffered a cut to his head.

    As Bonnie said to me, "Wal-Mart, at the least, should give that guard a raise. That was above and beyond the call of duty." Yes, it certainly was, and they definitely should.

    Cucumbers - On the lighter side, also from the ‘Police Beat’:

    While working at a home on Erie Drive at 11:50 a.m. Sept. 21 a roofing contractor saw his client inside his house waving a handgun and yelling obscenities. The roofer called 911 and the homeowner left the scene. Several guns were confiscated from the home. The homeowner said he was joking when he was waving the gun. No charges were filed.

    It seems to me that, if you own a collection of guns, the last thing you want to do is wave them around while shouting obscenities. It looks bad.

    Croutons - Penultimately, I admit to feeling frustrated. I have plucked from the ether the first line of a joke that holds the possibility of being quite humorous, but, try as I might, I cannot complete it; the full joke maliciously eludes me. So I’m going to throw this first line out, in hopes that one of our readers can supply what’s missing:

    "A mime and a blind man walk into a bar ..."

    The joke, of course, would have to be on the bartender. Have fun with it, and if you come up with something, I beg of you to let me know.

    Catalina dressing - Lastly, a demonstration of what Bonnie and I have come to think of as "a more perfect union" - last night, before retiring, I asked Bonnie if there was anything that I could bring her, and at first she said, "No, I’m all set." Then, as I began to shuffle away, she said "Umm ...Could I have some more water, please?" An idea occurred to me and I turned to face her, with a gleam in my eye and a slow smile spreading across my lips, and, knowing as she does how my mind works, she divined my thought as if by telepathy, and we spoke in unison - "a lass and a lack!" This, I think, is what marriage is supposed to be.



    Tuesday, October 4, 2005

    Ruminations of an October Evening

    Hearth. A medieval and pleasant-sounding word. A marvel of evocation, it conjures a flock of images and sensations, as gulls rising in unison from the ruffled surface of a lake.

    It can be taken to mean a fireplace, a construction of stone or brick that represents not only a primary heat source, but also feelings of coziness and intimacy, recalling a scene of couples snuggled in deep soft cushions, close to the fire, watching sparks spring from the fracturing, fragrant wood and scallops of smoke ascend the wavering air currents, as the boreal wind bays outside the walls, announcing its pain to the heedless darkness. It often invokes a response from the subconscious, harkening back to the time when our ancestors huddled with trepidation around a mound of burning branches, offering not only warmth but protection from the ceaseless prowling of famished predators.

    It can also be taken, in a more general sense, to mean home - the place in which we have chosen to live and to love, where we may feel assured of security and solace, comfort and closeness; where we can dream aloud without fear of being mocked, where we can relax and hide away from the vicissitudes of the uncaring world outside.

    It has been used to describe a wellspring of creativity, a place thrumming with the energy of the human urge to produce something meaningful and eternal.

    In subtle ways, the area of cyberspace that we inhabit, this world of journals, can rightfully be termed a hearth - a place to which we retreat to pour out our pain, uncertainties, fear, even contentment. We give voice to our hopes and dreams, and share the small joys and discomforts of life. And, like the mean campfires of millennia past, there are predators lurking about, but we have our defenses against them, and they represent no more than a momentary annoyance.

    Rejoice, friends and acquaintances, that we have this forum, this hearth, to sit before and to watch visions take shape in front of our wondering eyes, to have a friendly venue where we can share the minutiae of our everyday lives, and where we may always feel welcome.


    Monday, October 3, 2005

    Once More, with Feeling


    OK. QBO has posted my list in her journal, and I’m going to post it again, newly updated.

    The enemy has landed. Offensive ads are infecting journals like a plague. Here is a list of sn’s that deserve to be blocked and TOSsed.













    There may be more to follow. If we work together, maybe we can stop this storm of perversion.

    AOL’s Spam Controls Blocking Filter informs me that shadowhawk3680 and jenniferlikesit are unknown users, but their member profiles still exist, so draw your own conclusions.


    Plague Update

    AOL is to be commended for cleaning up its Daily Pulse Blog, an action that is proceeding as I write this. For those who are interested, I have discovered two more sn's and am adding them to my list.


    The Lost Entry

    It’s evident that AOL was uncomfortable with my decision to publicize the sn’s responsible for those annoying ads that are plaguing J-land, because I discovered this morning that the entry of October 1st had been deleted from our journal and archives. This doesn’t bother me unduly, because those sn’s are enshrined in my Word program.

    In addition to the by now well-known sn’s, I have discovered five more in one of AOL’s own journals, their Daily Pulse Blog. It appears that the editor of that blog has made a lackadaisical and sloppy attempt to expunge some but by no means all of the ads, although they are certainly diligent in deleting one entry of ours.

    The fact that (at least) ten sn’s exist suggests that the person or people responsible for disseminating these ads own at least two accounts.

    We hope that AOL will in future be more diligent about policing their account holders.


    Bonnie and Malcolm Mott

    Sunday, October 2, 2005

    Endless Props

    Here's a prop for a journal that deserves more exposure. Stop by and say hi to Debra at the journal called Debra's Dose. Also, check out the cute picture of the kitty.


    Sunday Puzzle Page (and props)

    Yes, it's time for BONNIE'S SUNDAY PUZZLE PAGE.

    But first, we'd like to say hi to a new visitor who passed through yesterday, Betty, who pens the journal Of Mini-paws and Menopause. Drop by for a visit.

    And now, on to this week's version of 'Rungs'. But first, here is the answer to last week's puzzle:







    Some versions of these puzzles have no theme; Bonnie has taken great care (and spent much time) to ensure that these are themed.







    May you all enjoy the puzzle and a quiet Sunday.