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Tuesday, November 27, 2007

Birth and death...

I have to go to a wake tomorrow evening; the mother of one of my friends from college passed away. I found out from another one of our friends; sadly, we had lost touch over the years (no reason for it really, as he only lives about 40 mins or so north of here, but between the distance, work, wife and kids on his part, activities and interests on both of ours, I guess that happens.) At our ages, the death of an aging parent is to be expected I suppose. I feel bad that we'd lost touch...

My best friend from home, he and his wife had their first child Sunday! Mom, son- and even dad!- apparently all came thru with flying colors; he's certainly happy and proud, as he should be. And obviously I'm happy for him and his wife. But it is yet another things that serves to give me pause regarding my life...

Being just about in the middle of the ages between my first friend's mom, and my second friend's newborn, there probably is a lesson in there for me about the fleeting passage of time, the dance of life, those sorts of things. But as usual, I'll probably be too busy, too pre-occupied, too stubborn, to even see it, much less learn anything from it to apply to my life.

"Please don't tell me how the story ends..."

Friday, November 23, 2007

I hope everyone (anyone?) reading my blog had a relaxing and enjoyable Thanksgiving yesterday (in the US.) Mine was nice, spent the day at my mom's... the weather was gorgeous, too; close to 70 degrees, pretty good for November in New England! Picked up a few pastries (at Mike's Pastry, in the North End- yum!) the day before to bring... it was a nice day! Went out for a lil while last night as well ;)

I've probably mentioned it before, but I have never understood the whole Black Friday shopping thing! The prices cannot be that good to endure the madness! I suppose it wouldn't be so bad if you're just going to browse, to be out and about, but to actually try and get some meaningful shopping done today... yikes. (And my condolences to those who have to work the shops today.)

Speaking of shopping, I did a lil- pre!- Black Friday shopping earlier this week... except for socks, there wasn't anything I needed, but (besides socks!) I ended up picking up a brown leather skirt (a bahgin!) a pair of brown slingback heels, and a white and black 3/4 sleeve top I saw...Also saw a pair of black ankle boots I may pick up (I need a new pair.)... Gotta get my hair cut again soon... been growing it out a bit again for awhile now (in part because the last time I had it done, she cut it too short- I have to find someone who can cut my hair right... even as wavy and puffy as it gets- waaahhhh!- it shouldn't be that difficult to get a decent cut, short, but not too short, just right!)

27-2, good guys (Sharon sucks!)

"Take on me (take on me)/Take me on..."

Tuesday, November 20, 2007

Alright, I'm gettin' a lil tired of hearing and reading so many national "pundits" ripping into my New England Patriots! Suddenly the team that was all about TEAM has, in some minds, morphed into a latter-day version of the Oakland Raiders (back when the Raiders were, well, good.) Whether it is the so-called "Cameragate" thing (and interesting to note that the response by most other coaches around the league to that was very muted... perhaps because most other teams had employed similar scouting tactics?) allegations of the Pats "running up the score", Don Shula (who is a better man than this) whining about the Pats possibly eclipsing his undefeated'72 Dolphins team, or general dislike of the dry-as-toast Bill Belichick- enuf!

The last time I checked, this was the National Football League, not the Hockomock League (gratuitous local reference!) Is it the Pats fault that too many of the teams they've faced have been no more competitive than Sharon High (sorry, couldn't resist!) Many of their games have been decided by half-time; what are the Pats supposed to do for the entire 2nd half? Yes, I suppose they could run four straight fullback dives into the line. The problem with that is that the Pats running backs haven't been that healthy this season as is; are Belichick and staff going to risk the possibility of further injury to an already-depleted running game (one that will become more important as the dicier late-season weather arrives) by pounding them play after play after play? Are the Pats supposed to "ease up?" As any coach or player from Pop Warner on up will tell you, going less than 100% increases the risk of injury.

Go Pats! (Opening as 22 pt. favorites this week? Yikes!)

Monday, November 19, 2007

I came across these comments today... no matter one's politics, I believe the speaker's emphasis upon keeping our present challenges in perspective bears noting:

I get very, very frustrated when I . . . hear certain Americans talk about how difficult the problems we face are, how overwhelming they are, what a dangerous era we live in. I think we've lost perspective. We've always had difficult problems, we've always had great challenges, and we've always lived in danger.

Do we think our parents and our grandparents and our great grandparents didn't live in danger and didn't have difficult problems? Do we think the Second World War was less difficult that our struggle with Islamic terrorism? Do we think that the Great Depression was a less difficult economic struggle for people to face than the struggles we're facing now? Have we entirely lost perspective of the great challenges America has faced in the past and has been able to overcome and overcome brilliantly? I think sometimes we have lost that perspective.

Do you know what leadership is all about? Leadership is all about restoring that perspective that this country is truly an exceptional country that has great things that it is going to accomplish in the future that will be as great and maybe even greater than the ones we've accomplished in the past. If we can't do that, shame on us.

-Rudy Giuliani, speaking at this year's Federalist Society annual National Lawyers Conference.

Sunday, November 18, 2007

Sunday thoughts while waiting for the Pats game (and sippin' on- again!- a Berkshire Imperial Stout; I really wish more establishments would carry more on draught besides Guinness...)

Thanksgiving is fast approaching; it's early this year. I've always luved Thanskgiving, might be my fav holiday, or at least tied with Christmas... it's just a great holiday; family, food, football... and it's always seemed the quintessential New England holiday as well; to me, Thanksgiving in, I dunno, Alaska, or Arizona, or Florida (or the Caribbean!) would seem odd. It's just the holiday I've always liked...

Got beaten like a rental car on college football again this week, dang. This has easily been my worst season, in a l-o-n-g time anyway... Only the NFL has- barely- kept me in the black... Doin' alright with the- early- college hoops season (tho' Stanford losing to Siena last night didn't help.) Whaddya want- I have few vices left! ;)

Still staying far busier than I'd like... I get out when I can, and have had a few nights out that have run the gamut from good to fair to so-so, but as always the biggest problem is simply that I cannot- or perhaps will not- find, make, or take the time to do more of what I'd like to be doing (yes, this means you!) And I still marvel at people who seem able to create balance in their lives, who are able to indulge all of their interests and passions, not have one part of their lives overshadow, overwhelm, or dominate the rest. That is something I've never been very good at; I don't know why. As one- very- good friend said to me recently: "Life keeps movin' on, Kellie - it's always later than you think." Indeed.

I'd be remiss if I didn't mention this: Transgender Day of Remembrance These sorts of events sometimes leave me personally ambivalent; I whole-heartedly applaud and support the intent and the effort to remember those who were- and are- victims of violence simply because they are who they- we- are, to hold those who commit such acts of violence accountable, and to call on those in power to enforce with equality laws against assault and to prosecute with vigor those who break them. My one problem has been that events such as these sometimes devolve into partisan political screeds and agendas that drift afield from their primary purpose, remembrance. But bottomline- no one should suffer violence simply for being who they are.

"Everybody's got a hungry heart..."

Wednesday, November 14, 2007

Random ramblings...

Two local radio stations have already started their 'round-the-clock Christmas music- ack!!! TOO SOON!!! In the past they've often started this the week of Thanksgiving, but this year they even jumped that by a week (and Thanksgiving comes early this year as it is.) Besides the obvious- ears bleeding by early December from too much Christmas music- I just hate to see Thanksgiving seem to get such short shrift, as Thanksgiving has always been perhaps my favorite holiday, or at least tied with Christmas...

I've had friends and acquaintences occassionally criticize me for taking them to task when they seem to take little interest in me and my life, suggesting that this is because I don't talk so much about myself (difficult for regular readers of this blog to believe, I know!) I'm relatively outgoing, and pretty willing to discuss/talk about- almost!- anything about me... when asked. I do find it a bit- what?- self-absorbed, or self-centered, or pretentious, or sumthin', when folks, be it in conversation or correspondance, go on and on (and on and on and on!) about themselves, without asking/inquiring about the other person in the conversation! I usually ask about/inquire into others because I'm interested, as well as- quite often- being able to pick up or learn something from their life, their experiences, etc... that I can apply to improve my own. But it does get frustrating sometimes when folks will not take the initiative/extend the courtesy of reciprocity (this is a longtime bugaboo of mine, I know.)

How many other folks always think they look absolutely horrible in photos?!

One more thought (for now!) on the upcoming elections... there's a lot of talk in Republican circles that they must nominate a candidate who can "stop Hillary." I know it will shock a lot of you to discover that Hillary is not my cup of tea (yes, that is sarcasm;) I would prefer that she not be elected President. But as we've seen from very recent history, the GOP would, IMO, be making a very big mistake if their primary rationale is not to put forth the candidate who best reflects their views and values but simply the candidate some party activists believe can best beat the other guy (or, in this case, gal.) This is largely what the Dems did in '04 with John Kerry (how many of you who cast a ballot for the Dem nominee were actually voting for Kerry, as opposed to against President Bush?) with the predictable results (refresher; Kerry lost.)

I'm probably jinxing them, but wondering who will win 11 games first, the Celtics or the Patriots?! C's are looking good so far...

"Oh you know her, would you look at that hair/Yeah you know her, check out those shoes/She looks like she stepped out of the middle of somebody's blues... Come on, rip her to shreds..."

Sunday, November 11, 2007

Bye week thoughts while sipping on my first Berkshire Imperial Stout of the season...

The upcoming- and all too accelerated- Presidential primaries... One of the more maddening things I hear is from people who say they will vote for Candidate X because "it's time"- no, not time in terms of the candidate's political philosophies, views, etc... but because of their background. Most of this talk has centered on Hillary Clinton and, to a somewhat lesser extent, Barack Obama. And it is true, in the US we have never had either a woman or a black as a major party nominee, let alone as President. But people would vote for them solely because they believe "it's time" we had a woman, or a black, as President?! Couldn't a similarly inane case be made that "it's time" we elect an Italian, or a Mormon, as we've never had one of those either? And what do you do if you're a black woman voting in a Democratic primary, who do you support, whose "time" is more timely? Do you vote your race or your gender?! Similar question if you're a Mormon of Italian descent (there must be a few!) voting in a Republican primary; is it "time" for a co-religionist, or a paisan? The only people more ignorant than those who would vote for a candidate because that candidate is a woman, or black, or Italian, or Mormon are those who would not vote for a candidate because that candidate is a woman, or black, or Italian, or Mormon. (Related thoughts here.) Look at what the candidate proposes and stands for, and more- look at what the candidate has actually accomplished. See how their proposals, their past achievements, their rhetoric, and their political philosophies square with and come closest to those things you support.

One item that does tend to sway me- other things being roughly equal- is executive experience. In my lifetime every President has previously served as either a Vice-President (Johnson, Nixon, Bush 41) or as a Governor (Carter, Reagan, Clinton, Bush 43.) I believe that chief executive experience is something that being one of 100 Senators or 435 Representatives cannot match. In the current race, to my best knowledge there are three candidates who meet that criteria; one current Governor, one former Governor, and one former Mayor.

While not etched in stone, I have a pretty good idea of who I'll be supporting. The pickings are, admittedly, a little slim. There is one candidate who seems a likeable, agreeable sort, charismatic and compelling who, unfortunately, has such a dramatically different idea of what government should do (and relatively few things that it shouldn't do) - and how to fund them- that it would make it almost impossible for me to vote for this candidate in the general election. There is another who has an admirable personal history of service to our country, one whom I could support in a general election, yet one whose campaign has yet to offer much substantively, let alone fire my imagination. There is a third candidate whose overall political philosophy is closest to my own; there's much I agree on, very little I don't... except for this candidate's views on arguably the most important issue currently facing our nation. The last candidate, and the one I currently plan on supporting, while not perfect, has the best record of accomplishment on issues of importance to me, a proven track record of not merely rhetoric but results as a political chief executive; a candidate who has exhibited under-stated but strong leadership at a time when it was vitally needed; and a candidate whose personal narrative is one I can relate to more readily than that of any other candidate.

Don't forget; remember- and thank- a vet.

Thursday, November 08, 2007

My friend Jim sent these to me the other day; thought they were worthy of posting...

Five lessons about the way we treat people.
1 - First Important Lesson - Cleaning Lady. During my second month of college, our professor gave us a pop quiz. I was a conscientious student and had breezed through the questions until I read the last one: "What is the first name of the woman who cleans the school?" Surely this was some kind of joke. I had seen the cleaning woman several times. She was tall, dark-haired and in her 50's, but how would I know her name? I handed in my paper, leaving the last question blank. Just before class ended, one student asked if the last question would count toward our quiz grade. "Absolutely, " said the professor. "In your careers, you will meet many people. All are significant. They deserve your attention and care, even if all you do is smile and say "hello." I've never forgotten that lesson. I also learned her name was Dorothy.

2. - Second Important Lesson - Pickup in the Rain. One night, at 11:30 p.m., an older African American woman was standing on the side of an Alabama highway trying to endure a lashing rain storm. Her car had broken down and she desperately needed a ride. Soaking wet, she decided to flag down the next car. A young white man stopped to help her, generally unheard of in those conflict-filled 1960's. The man took her to safety, helped her get assistance and put her into a taxicab. She seemed to be in a big hurry, but wrote down his address and thanked him. Seven days went by and a knock came on the man's door. To his surprise, a giant console color TV was delivered to his home. A special note was attached. It read: "Thank you so much for assisting me on the highway the other night. The rain drenched not only my clothes, but also my spirits. Then you came along. Because of you, I was able to make it to my dying husband's bedside just before he passed away... God bless you for helping me and unselfishly serving others." Sincerely, Mrs. Nat King Cole.

3 - Third Important Lesson - Always remember those who serve. In the days when an ice cream sundae cost much less, a 10-year-old boy entered a hotel coffee shop and sat at a table. A waitress put a glass of water in front of him. "How much is an ice cream sundae?" he asked. "Fifty cents," replied the waitress. The little boy pulled is hand out of his pocket and studied the coins in it. "Well, how much is a plain dish of ice cream?" he inquired. By now more people were waiting for a table and the waitress was growing impatient. " Thirty-five cents," she brusquely replied. The little boy again counted his coins. "I'll have the plain ice cream," he said. The waitress brought the ice cream, put the bill on the table and walked away The boy finished the ice cream, paid the cashier and left. When the waitress came back, she began to cry as she wiped down the table. There, placed neatly beside the empty dish, were two nickels and five p ennies.. You see, he couldn't have the sundae, because he had to have enough left to leave her a tip.

4 - Fourth Important Lesson. - The obstacle in Our Path. In ancient times, a King had a boulder placed on a roadway. Then he hid himself and watched to see if anyone would remove the huge rock. Some of the king's wealthiest merchants and courtiers came by and simply walked around it. Many loudly blamed the King for not keeping the roads clear, but none did anything about getting the stone out of the way. Then a peasant came along carrying a load of vegetables. Upon approaching the boulder, the peasant laid down his burden and tried to move the stone to the side of the road. After much pushing and straining, he finally succeede d. After the peasant picked up his load of vegetables, he noticed a purse lying in the road where the boulder had been. The purse contained many gold coins and a note from the King indicating that the gold was for the person who removed the boulder from the roadway. The peasant learned what many of us never understand! Every obstacle presents an opportunity to improve our condition.

5 - Fifth Important Lesson - Giving When it Counts. Many years ago, when I worked as a volunteer at a hospital, I got to know a little girl named Liz who was suffering from a rare & serious disease. Her only chance of recovery appeared to be a blood transfusion from her 5-year old brother, who had miraculously survived the same disease and had developed the antibodies needed to combat the illness. The doctor explained the situation to her little brother, and asked the little boy if he would be willing to give his blood to his sister. I saw him hesitate for only a moment before taking a deep breath and saying, "Yes I'll do it if it will save her." As the transfusion progressed, he lay in bed next to his sister and smiled, as we all did, seeing the color returning to her cheek. Then his face grew pale and his smile faded. He looked up at the doctor and asked with a trembling voice, "Will I start to die right away?" Being young, the little boy had misunderstood the doctor; he thought he was going to have to give his sister all of his blood in order to save her.

Friday, November 02, 2007

Paint It, Black- Rolling Stones

I see a red door and I want it painted black
No colors anymore I want them to turn black
I see the girls walk by dressed in their summer clothes
I have to turn my head until my darkness goes

I see a line of cars and they're all painted black
With flowers and my love both never to come back
I see people turn their heads and quickly look away
Like a new born baby it just happens ev'ry day

I look inside myself and see my heart is black
I see my red door and must have it painted black
Maybe then I'll fade away and not have to face the facts
It's not easy facin' up when your whole world is black

No more will my green sea go turn a deeper blue
I could not foresee this thing happening to you

If I look hard enough into the settin' sun
My love will laugh with me before the mornin' comes

I see a red door and I want it painted black
No colors anymore I want them to turn black
I see the girls walk by dressed in their summer clothes
I have to turn the head until my darkness goes

I wanna see your face, painted black
Black as night, black as coal
I wanna see the sun blotted out from the sky
I wanna see it painted, painted, painted, painted black