Thursday, August 21, 2014

Buy A Nun A Book Day... Update #1 (Below the fold!) approaching.  I'm consulting my nunnish sources, but all the evidence points to Real Soon - September 17.  Once again, I will be sending books to the good sisters who taught me in my callow youth.

It's a nice way to say "Thanks"!

Wednesday, August 20, 2014

Brain Cancer Killed This Blog

I was tidying up a bit, cleaning out the MIA list, when I noticed that Kate had updated her old blog.  The title struck me as odd.  Then I read the post.
Consider this a "bleg".  Kate is truly good people, and needs help.  I Cannot. Imagine.
 And, RTWT:
 August 1st, 2014

Brain Cancer Killed This Blog

When I started back in 2003, my son was a toddler and my husband was an active duty soldier in the U.S. Army who was gone a lot. A lot. Then we relocated to a rural area in Hawaii — which isn’t nearly as pleasant as you’d think — and he was gone even more. There were times when two, sometimes three weeks would pass and I hadn’t spoken with anyone over the age of three.

I’ve often said this blog saved my life back then, because it put me in contact with people all over the world and gave me a reason to think. Now, I’m hoping this blog can help save my husband’s life, or at least make what’s left of it a little bit better.
You see, about a month after my last post — on July 12, 2012 to be specific — we learned that my husband has brain cancer. At the time, his tumor was considered slow-growing and following surgery, radiation and chemotherapy, and he was expected to have a very good shot at living a normal lifespan.

Earlier this week, we learned that his tumors (he has two now) have progressed to glioblastoma, which has a median survival rate 14 or so months. Since he’d had an MRI in May which showed the tumors being in check, the growth between then and his July MRI indicates the clock started ticking in the past month or two.

The Venomous Hubby

Frankly, we’re terrified. We’re also in need of your help. Although Mike has been working throughout his various treatments, he is no longer able to do so. His cognitive and speech skills are rapidly declining, and he is physically exhausted from nearly 18 straight months of daily chemotherapy.

Although his boss did everything he could to keep Mike on, his condition is such that he just can’t keep working. As I type this, Mike’s resignation letter is sitting on in his office, awaiting his signature.

But Mike is worried about retiring. It’s not just that he’s a workaholic, though he is (and that fact is responsible for about 70% of this blog’s content, come to think of it). He’s also afraid of what’s going to happen to our family financially once he’s no longer bringing home a paycheck.
See, Social Security Disability will take a few months to kick in, as will his Federal medical retirement pay. Until then, we’re broke. Flat. Broke. (Having a daughter who only just graduated college and a now-teenaged son who’s in braces and band will do that to a family.)
So we’re raising funds to help Mike complete his Bucket List in the time he has remaining, and to hopefully cover some of the gap between his last day of work and his first day of disability payments.

If you can, please contribute. It doesn’t have to be big — even $3 would be great! And, if you can’t contribute, then please know as we do that prayer is the most valuable form of currency there is. We could sure use some.

•To read more of Mike’s story, or to contribute to his fundraiser, please visit his campaign here.
•To follow Mike’s progress, please “Like” his Facebook page: Mike Berry’s Brain Cancer Battle.

Thank you,
Not so “Venomous” anymore Kate


Found at Gerard's

Thursday, July 24, 2014


One contestant I met last  year was horrified when I told her that I don't have a TV.  (Full disclosure - I own two boxes, but they haven't been connected or turned on in three years.)  Mostly, I'm fed up with the constant barrage of advertising - especially the same six ads, over and over and over...

And, as Wiley observes, the content doesn't help much, either:

I *do* watch TV shows, but thru the services of Netflx.  I'm working on Longmire and Ripper Street at the moment.  Two shows that I highly recommend.

Paper media may be fading, but reading is still your best entertainment value!

Wednesday, July 23, 2014

Letter To Mary

I haven't been in touch with too many of my friends lately, and I received a polite enquiry from my cousin.  I responded:

Sorry I've been incommunicado for so long.  I apparently don't do "broke" very well, and I guess I've been suffering from a bit of the blues.  That said, things are looking quite bright!
First off, Jen was a bit stiff & sore as expected, but she found a good chiropractor, and didn't suffer the aftereffects for very long.  The car was ultimately totaled, so there's that.  I'll forward the e-mail she sent me with a couple of pictures she took at the scene.  Carole flew up & spent a week with her.  They got her moved into a new room rental - the one she had was unworkable.  The owner is pretty dysfunctional, and it seems really didn't want a roomer after all.  She's still looking for work, which is tough.  She had a rough three or four years.

In the last month or so, I've had four job calls, three of which resulted in interviews and jobs!  I actually worked for the Post Office for a week, but decided that I much prefer teaching to delivering mail.  I just started teaching last week, at two different schools that are owned by the same holding company, Delta Education.  I'm teaching Web Scripting at Berks Technical Institute (BTI) in Wyomissing, just outside of Reading, and Intro to Computers and Office Documentation (typing - heh) at McCann School in Carlisle.

It's got my head in blender... I have, at last count, eight different accounts for the schools - a couple are common, but a couple are unique to each campus.  In addition, I have two or three (?) accounts with the textbook vendors as well.  I still can't log in to do attendance, which is a hoot!  I also don't have access yet to the account I need for my typing class, that I need to use to track progress.  And one student can log in until *I* log in first.  No pressure.

The good news is, I'm off tomorrow as well as today, because McCann is having some kind of in-service, but I gather it's only for the admin types.  An extra day to track these loose accounts down and nail them to the wall!

Met a couple of local folks thru Twitter, and attended a July 5th party.  It was up in the hills, and I was told to bring my .45, so I did.  If you've looked at the blog since then, you'll pictures of some of the damage we did.  I can see why guns and alcohol don't mix.  When we were done shooting, I wound up putting a pretty good dent in a bottle of something interestingly nasty from North Korea.  I noticed that my right shoulder was sore, down into my right pectoral muscles.  It took me a couple of days to connect the dots that it was most likely from the recoil from the .45 carbine.  (Which shoots quite nicely, by the way.)  I was either just buzzed enough to not feel the full effect of the recoil, or it was somehow not really noticeable but still strong to cause some soreness.

So, I really like McCann, but Berks not quite so much.  McCann is smaller, and I know my director and the school boss pretty well already.  BTI is much bigger, I've met my Dean and the  guy who runs the program, but it isn't as friendly, the the program guys seems to be well known as a micro-manager, and I get the sense he's considered a "dick". (Sorry)  I was chatting w/ the boss at McCann yesterday, and she seems quite OK with giving me a full load of four classes next term, which would preclude me working at Berks.  The commute to Berks is only 10 miles more, but I'm finding it to be psychically much longer.  So there's that.

Suzu is noodging me for a walk, so I'm gonna go do that.

Glad to hear that everyone is OK.  Buying any cannabis goodies?  ;-p

Yes, The P.R.B. - People's Republic of Boulder.  From what I hear, it's getting an awful lot like California (which I do not miss!)

Give my love to all when you see them!

On 7/11/2014 1:05 PM, Mary wrote:
Lee, I just caught up on your blog…….how is Jenny doing?  I hadn’t heard about the accident.  Sounds like she is OK, but I’m sure those first few days she was pretty sore.  How about your job prospects?  Did anything materialize for you?  Hope so.  Has Jenny found work yet?  Hope she has found something that is a good fit.

We are fine.  Summer is slipping by quickly.  Just picked the first ripe tomato today.  You can see that we deal with all kinds of major issues every day. J

Everyone in  Hardin is fine, also in NM.  Susan, Ardell’s oldest, just had her fourth baby, a boy named Benjamin Ardell (“Huck” for Huckleberry) McDowall.  Everyone is very happy with the new addition.  He is quite the porker (as most babies are), but if his siblings are any indication, that will remedy itself in due time.   The guys are still farming (Darell will be 76 in the fall), but have cut their beet acreage down to 125 from 300.  Gerry’s contemplating retirement within the next six months, maybe sooner.  Then he’ll have lots of house projects to keep him busy for a while.

Well, that’s the news in the Republic of Boulder.  Hope you are doing well……drop a note when you have a moment……XO, Mary

Monday, July 7, 2014

How I spent My Weekend

I was invited to 's place for BBQ on the 5th, provided I bring the .45 for some shooting.  I brought the 1911, and the Hi Point .45 carbine, just for completeness on the .45 part of the deal.

We had my two .45s, an AR-15, and a nice little laser-sighted .380.  Damage ensued:



Petey said he'd gotten them from a gal named "Lois", who used to work at the I.R.S. He said she was glad to get rid of them.

@DoreenHDickson showed up later. Embarrassingly and sadly, I had comsumed was too many "Chocolate Cake" shooters, and some interestingly nasty North Korean Ginseng liquor to be good company.

Which is why I don't keep the hard stuff at home.  Important safety tip.

Lunch Conversations

This is fairly typical of the conversation we used to have at our Friday lunches:

Lady and Gentlemen….
You would have to do an MRI scan to know what part of the brain is at a high functioning level to draw a conclusion in this experiment. Several extremes are in play here. Beauty is in the eye or should I say the ear of the beholder. This is a place where a man who falls from the platform. No one stops to help. What value did the observer place on the man? Actually Rob and I have some great discussions. I love the opportunity. Retired or not. 
Great to hear from you Lee.  Let us know when you are going to visit Ca. and we can all get together and catch up.
Carole, The wife of the Great and Powerful Oz!  Oh I mean Rob…..

From: leelu []
Subject: RE: Joshua Bell Plays in Subway

First:  Carole, has Rob gotten more like this since he retired?  Does he need to get out more??
Late to the thread, I know.  The value discussion has some, well, value, but I don't know if that is "it".  I'm inclined to think that it more about basic human psychology, and the states of mind of the people passing thru.    How aware are they of what is actually going on around them?  Are the focused on where they've been, or where they're going, or what just happened??  We're fairy accustomed to muzak, so there might be a tendency to take Bell's playing and treat it as such.
I remember Nordstrom's at SCP would, from time to time, have a pianist at a full grand piano, playing lovely music.  I was one of the few, if not the only passer-by to stop.
I guess one other way to find out would be to get Mr. Bell to play again, and ask the passers-by why they did or didn't stop. In the case of Nordstrom's, my answer would be, "I liked the music, and had the time."  Heck, I've even stopped for a player piano...
On May 14, 2013 at 2:45 PM rob wrote:

I'm still stuck on this discussion a few days ago about the value of performance art. It caused me to perform a little, as Einstein used to call it, “thought experiment” to help put the issue in the abstract.

Suppose you are transported to the planet Oozor where evolution has taken a very different path. Fortunately for you there is a breathable atmosphere with a slight smell of Magnolia blossoms brought on by the thin jasmine-colored film of algae covering the vast bog laying before you.

As you investigate closer, you can see hundreds of tiny colorful slug-like creatures along the shore. Whether they are near-sighted or simply don’t care about your approach is unclear. As you kneel down and watch, you observe a few of them blowing colorful bubbles of various shades of blue and green, and on rare occasion, of purple or red.

For a few of the pseudopodia blowing bubbles, the other creatures surround them with bits of sand and moss and appear to watch transfixed as the bubbles float away. As the bubbles rise to a height of eight or nine inches the observers begin to squeak in what you can only interpret as approval. The herd pushes more and more pieces of moss toward the central creature encouraging a frenzy of bubbles to be formed until finally the creature can blow no more and collapses from exhaustion on the mound of moss. The herd disperses.

Other pseudopodia blow bubbles also, but curiously these mostly going unwatched and unappreciated by their kinsmen. These solitary creatures blow their equally delightful bubble without the remuneration of any gifts at all.

You begin to wonder why. Fascinated by the admiration surrounding some bubble blowers and ignominious nature surrounding others, you slowly begin to realize that the purple bubbles seem to attract great attention and the green ones do not. The color seems to be the only difference that you can perceive for the apparent diversity of attitude.

Being of a curious and thoughtful nature, you speculate why the purple bubbles have more apparent value than the green ones. Is it because purple bubbles contain some needed nutrient more than the green ones? The bubble flow away and are never consumed so that is not likely the reason.

Still the purple bubbles are clearly more appreciated than the green ones. Is it because the purple ones are so much rarer than the green ones? Yes, that is it! The rarity is the answer and you are quite satisfied with your discovery, that is until you see a single pseudopodia blowing red bubbles only inches from many other creatures without being noticed for its efforts. Obviously rarity, though a possible factor, is not the only pertinent factor.

Then is comes to you. This is art. Given no practical reason other than the bubbles are just appreciated, they are art. If you can blow purple bubbles, you get attention. If you blow green ones, you don’t. Personally I prefer the red bubbles and I can save myself a few bits of moss.

Now don’t ask me why people like bagpipe music. That’s just a completely different planet.

From: ed
To: rob

Subject: Re: Joshua Bell Plays in Subway

Rob, this is why I miss our lunches with you -- you always bring up interesting points...

Value *is* a subjective quality (as I'm sure Carole will attest to with real estate prices) and varies with the audience and the demographic that pays for $100 tickets is certainly not the same as the ones rushing for the Metro.  However, it seems to me that a musician who has a world-wide reputation must have sufficient credible skills to impress a larger percentage of the estimated thousands that passed by him without a second look.

On the other end, which I think is relevant to your point, a given individual may detest Bell's playing and think another "ignominious" musician's performance heavenly, so for him the assessment of value would be different.

I guess the proper scientific method would call for the same set of people who paid for $100 tickets to be followed around and see if they would pay attention to another violinist of Bell's stature in an unconventional setting.
On 5/7/2013 9:13 AM, rob wrote:
Well, true or not, it raises a plethora of  points. The "stop and smell the roses" point notwithstanding, it is normal that humans filter their environment.  It is dysfunctional to focus on everything.
I'm uncomfortable with the superficial concept of value. An ignominious musician's music can be more valuable than a famous musician's. A child's finger painting can be more valuable than a Picasso.
> Date: Mon, 6 May 2013 22:14:24 -0700
> From: ed
> To: gay, rob, lawebber
> Subject: Joshua Bell Plays in Subway
> Got a link to this, wasn't quite sure if this was legit, but snopes
> checked it out:

"When is leelu not in trouble?"
Korben Dallas