Sunday, February 28, 2010

Sports Segment

This just in....

Bad Ben is here with the sports report, having just returned from viewing his first-ever indoor soccer game...

Percolator Editor: Ben, thanks for checking in with us here at the old Perk...

Ben: Not a problem.

Ed.: How was the game?

Ben: It was a lot of fun and it was a great, new experience because I've never been to an indoor soccer game before, but I had a lot of fun with Dad and John...

Ed.: John? John, as in John Daniel, whose alter-ego has appeared here previously in the guise of Mr. J. Daniel, Illustrious Film Critic?

Ben: Um, that story has been circulating a bit, but I think he wants that kept on the Down-Low...for obvious reasons, if you know what I mean....

Ed.: *Clouseau accent* But of course...What kind of fun?

Ben: It's always fun to go to the MetroCentre, you know, for anything. It was really exciting, really energized, it was a really good game.

Ed.: Who played?

Ben: Rockford Rampage and the Milwaukee, Milwaukee....oh, I forget...

Ed.: Was it the Milwaukee Beer Suds?

Ben: NO! I can't believe you said that!! Don't you think that's just a little insensitive and intolerant? That's how stereotypes are perpetuated!!! No, it was the Giants, or the Titans, or something...not the Beer Suds, Mom. I think their fans were more well-behaved than ours. ...

Ed.: Which is probably not saying much...

Ben: I think you may need an Insensitivity Management Class or something...

Ed.: So, what's it like to watch a soccer game with John Daniel?

Ben: It was weird; he's like, during the game he was rooting for the other team, just to be silly, then he was like laughing at the cheerleaders, then he started commentating the whole "Oh, he's passing the center..."

Ed.: Gee, I didn't even know he understood the rules of soccer...

Ben: He doesn't...that's what made it so...creative--yeah, that's the word I was reaching for...

Ed.: Do you think it would have helped if there were explosions and gunfire...?

Ben: Well, probably, because, you know, John does "really kind of live for that sort of stuff"--

Ed.: --so I've heard...

Ben: Yeah, but he was telling me it was too loud!

Ed.: What was too loud?

Ben: The Soccer Game--if you're going to inteview me, at least try to keep up...

Ed.: Sheeesh....sorry...

Ben: Anyway, I'm just saying that I don't really understand how John thinks he'll be a military hero or football player if he can't take loud noises...

Ed.: Hmmmm, you have a point....perhaps it's a bit of cognitive dissonance there...well, anyway, what was the most exciting part of the game?

Ben: I'd say it was when we tied with them in the middle of the game, we were like two points ahead, and then, yeah, we got crushed.

Ed.: Ooooh. Exciting...

Ben: Well, in a tragic kind of way...sort of...well, anyway, there were some interesting fans. There was this one group of fans, they were like, Brazilian or South American or something and they were there with this one was like a big family and there was this guy they called Capatin Chaos and they would march around in the stands...and an official told him to be quiet, and he told him to----

Ed.:---OK, OK, this is a Family Interview Channel, Benito...

Ben: Oh, yeah...sorry...heh-heh...

Ed.: Anything else interesting or memorable about your first indoor soccer game experience as a spectator?

Ben: Well, they played "Bob O'Reilly" by The Who on the overhead sound system...that seemed kind of interesting...

Ed.: a culturally archaeological kind of way...

Ben: Exactly! Oh! And, also there were cheerleaders there...

Ed.: Nice. I bet THEY a bit of attention...

Ben: You could say that, but I don't think I should really say anymore, this being a Family Interview Channel and all...I'm just sayin', the outfits they were wearing were not what you would think of as family-friendly.

Ed.: OK, ANYway, did the Rampage win?

Ben: Um, no. I kind of gave you a tip off earlier when I said we got your notes. But I would go to a game again; it was still a fairly unforgettable experience.

Ed.: Touche.

Just So You Know...

This is a public service announcement...

It has come to my attention that Someone resident at this address [who shall remain nameless, but who is only three months younger than moi] was a bit confused on the significance of tomorrow...which would be the first Monday of March in the state of Illinois*

So, just to set the record straight, Tomorrow is

NOT 'Roman Polanski Day''ll find that celebration on the Left Coast...or possibly somewhere in Eastern Europe...

Tomorrow IS

'Casimir Pulaski Day' honor of a Polish military commander and American Revolutionary War hero

*and, Just So You Know, we Illinoisans still prefer to be recognized as hailing from the Land of Lincoln...Rod Blagojevich never lived here!!!!

Friday, February 26, 2010

Snippets and Comeuppances...

First, let me make it clear that the following "installments" should be read through a lens of, shall we say, Droll Amusement...I'm not here to honk anybody off...but on another snow-blanketed day, who can scoff at a couple of smiles provided by online media?

Headline found on the Web today, accompanying amusing video clip:

Power Goes Out on Chavez During Bush-Bashing Rant

Once the power was restored and the lights went back on, Hugo attempted an affect of humor and sipped his espresso...


From an online opinions piece:

'Al Gore has been found. The former vice president and green guru has been MIA since the end of December, but he cropped up to be abused at the Apple stockholders meeting in Cupertino, Calif. Gore has been missing conveniently during the same period where climate scientists have come under increased scrutiny for bogus claims, doctored science and use of propaganda. Gore, the Nobel Peace Prize and Oscar winner was last seen on CBS in late December. While the TV outlets have been running archival footage of the climate advocate, he hasn’t been interviewed on air throughout the controversy.

'He’s still been on the receiving end of many jokes during that time. Sen. Jim DeMint, R-S.C., said on Twitter: “It's going to keep snowing in D.C. until Al Gore cries ‘uncle.’” GOP Sen. James Inhofe’s grandkids built an igloo on the National Mall, naming it “Al Gore’s New Home.”'

Additional info on the 'back story'...

"A critical cog in the machinery that drives the theory of global warming is a small white box not too far from where you live. Inside the box sits a thermometer that tracks the local temperature, which in turn becomes part of a data trail for the monitoring of climate change on Earth.

"But there's a problem: Nearly every single weather station the U.S. government uses to measure the country's surface temperature may be compromised. Sensors that are supposed to be in empty clearings are instead exposed to crackling electronics and other unlikely sources of heat, from exhaust pipes and trash-burning barrels to chimneys and human graves."

And, finally, more possible evidence for my category of Things God Is Revealing as the Cosmic Clock Winds Down....

"JERUSALEM — Two parts of an ancient biblical manuscript separated across centuries and continents were reunited for the first time in a joint display Friday, thanks to an accidental discovery that is helping illuminate a dark period in the history of the Hebrew Bible.

"The 1,300-year-old fragments, which are among only a handful of Hebrew biblical manuscripts known to have survived the era in which they were written, existed separately and with their relationship unknown, until a news photograph of one's public unveiling in 2007 caught the attention of the scholars who would eventually link them.

"Together, they make up the text of the Song of the Sea, sung by jubilant Israelites after flanuscript brought to Jerusalem. The new exhibit chronicles how the Song of the Sea was written through various ancient manuscripts, from the 2,000-year-old Dead Sea Scrolls to the manuscript known as the Aleppo Codex, written nearly a millennium later.

The reunification of the two pieces adds an important link in the chain, showing how the writing of the Hebrew Bible evolved through the so-called "silent" period — between the third and 10th centuries — from which nearly no Biblical texts survived. While in the Dead Sea Scrolls the song is arranged like prose, for example, in the newly reunited manuscript it is written like a poem, the same way it appears in the Hebrew Bible today.

"The manuscripts are "filling the gap," said Israel Museum curator Adolfo Roitman. "We can see we are dealing with a tradition that is still alive."

"The museum exhibit displays the manuscripts along with other depictions of the Song of the Sea from the museum's permanent collection, including artistic renderings of the biblical passages in frescoes and Renaissance paintings and recordings of the song as it is chanted by Jews in different communities worldwide."

[The above article is from]

Your Faithful Correspondent will be gone this weekend at a women's retreat, but will hope to return at the beginning of this coming can take that as a warning, as a reprieve, or as a teaser, as you like...

Thursday, February 25, 2010

Once More Into the Breach...

The Percolator Takes Another Stab at Interviewing J. Daniel Holliday, Illustrious--and Sometimes Persnickety--Film Critic

Editor: Well, Mr. Daniel, it is certainly game of you to give this film review business another chance.

J. Daniel: You're right. It is.

Ed.: OK, then. I can tell already that this is not going to be a warm, fuzzy interaction, but we do press on. I'm told you very recently screened the vintage cinematic gem, "Hans Brinker" or "The Silver Skates" at a classmate's home. What kind of experience was that?

J. Daniel: Well, they have a very cool home theater with movie seats and a gigantic screen TV, and sometimes they even have popcorn. So that part was really OK.

Ed.: Well, that's a good start. What did you think of "Hans Brinker", or "The Silver Skates"?

John: Well actually, Hans Brinker and the Silver Skates are the same movie. Just to let you know. And I thought it was OK, but it wouldn't be something I would prefer.

Ed.: I believe there are at least two versions of this movie, and that you saw the live-action Disney version. How would you describe the overall quality of the film?

John: I think Hans could have been better at acting...he kind of said things a bit robotic-like..."Do you need help, Mother?" He wasn't casual. I think he could have done better. 'Cuz you want people to act good, not like you just want this to get over with.

Ed.: I see. Well, to each his own. I noticed in the credits that Hans was played by an actual Dutch actor, Rony Zeander, so there must have been some verisimilitude there...

J. Daniel: Huh? Well, all I know is that they wore ridiculously baggy pants. I mean, clown-like. No camouflage at all.

Ed.: What did you think of the other actors?

J. Daniel: Well, there was his father; he was a likeable person in the beginning but then he fell over when they were trying to repair a dike during the storm and he injured his head and then he was, like, had amnesia and didn't recognize his family and stuff. And then there was an even weirder part where he got up out of his house and went on a rampage and saw this mischievous other guy that was going to skate against Hans and they were trying to get away from them and then he was running away from the bad guy who threw the skate at Hans' father....and then Hans found him...then the authorities appeared.

Ed.: Whew! That sounds like some serious action there. Was it exciting?

J. Daniel: Only if you're into lightweight action. Which I'm not.

Ed.: Did you think it was an interesting story?

John: Yeah, I guess.

Ed.: Was there much of that gross crying and hugging and stuff like in "Heidi"?

John: Well, it was better than "Heidi", so it wasn't as much mushy stuff, but they were losing hope and they kept hugging and stuff like that...

Ed.: So, you could have done without that part?

John: Absolutely.

Ed.: Did the skating race remind you of the speed skating that we're seeing in the 2010 Vancouver Olympics right now?

John: No, but it reminded me of rollerblading, where you have to throw your arms and get momentum and stuff.

Ed.: Hmmm, sounds quite a bit like speed skating to me, but suit yourself, Mr. Daniel. So, overall, would you recommend this movie?

John: Yeah, I mean it was good, but it wasn't that good. It wouldn't be something I would watch again.

Ed.: Well, just for curiousity's sake, what movie WOULD you recommend?

John: "Saving Private Ryan", to those who could take blood and stuff, NOT like YOU.

Ed.: Yes, well, as I think I mentioned during a previous time we met, this is ME interviewing YOU, and not the reverse. But, in any event, did this film give you a good idea about what Dutch life was like?

J. Daniel: Mmmm-hmmm.

Ed.: Would you have liked living back then?

J. Daniel: *head shaking* There was no technology, no comfortable chairs or anything. Sheesh.

Ed.: Well, I suppose that is an honest perspective from a young citizen of the 21st century. By the way, as long as I have you here, how did the "St. Crispin's Day" speech go in class the other day?

J. Daniel: Who spilled the beans about that?

Ed.: Oh, you know, word gets around....

J. Daniel: Well. You ought to know how I did, since you were there.

Ed.: Pardon me, but I, the Percolator Editor, was NOT there. There may have been someone who looked quite a bit like me, but that would have been an alter-ego of mine who was unceremoniously asked to substitute-teach your class at the last minute...

J. Daniel: Yeah, I'd say that was a pretty good job of acting...

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Royally Mistaken Identity

The Percolator Interviews John [King Henry V] Holliday, Thespian

Editor: John, word on the street is that you will be impersonating King Henry V of England in the near future.

John: Well, it's not exactly impersonating..

Ed.: Could you clarify?

John: It's actually "reciting." As in, I will be saying the words of King Henry in a section of the play, "Henry V" by William Shakespeare. You HAVE heard of HIM,haven't you?

Ed.: *Clouseau accent* But, of course!

John: Well, there you have it.

Ed.: There I have what?

John: I'm NOT an impersonator!! An impersonator thinks they're another person...or, they try to make other people think that...or something...ANYway, it has nothing to do with me. If you really need an impersonator, I suggest you check out old clips on YouTube....I assume you've heard of THAT....

Ed.: Touchy, touchy!! Sheeeeesh. Pardon me if some of my advance information is not completely accurate.

John: Just to let you know, this is how rumors get started...are you a gossip reporter?

Ed.: Of COURSE not! Excuse me for pointing out the obvious, but I'M the interviewer, you the interviewEE. OK, are you playing the part of King Henry or not?

John: Look, do you see a crown on my head?

Ed.: Not yet. Are you in costume already?

John: OK, that's it. You must be someone's apprentice because obviously you aren't the real person who's supposed to be doing this interview...

Ed.: *indignant* Ouch! Mr. John Holliday, let's begin at the beginning, shall we? I came here to talk to you about your just-announced role in Shakespeare's classic drama, "Henry the Fifth." So, how do you feel about portraying someone so famous?

John: Well, he's not exactly famous.

Ed.: Um, I think there are a lot of people in the United Kingdom, not to mention almost any English professor you can find, who would beg to differ...

John: Beg? No one's begging! For Pete's sake!

Ed.: It's just an expression. I'm saying that a lot of people have heard of King Henry V and when a person is well-known, they're considered famous. Just sayin'.

John: Where's my agent?!

Ed.: Aha! If you have an agent, you MUST be famous!!

John: I'm NOT famous, even if I am kinda popular with some of my girl-classmates...wait, you're getting me off the point! I'm NOT Henry...not I,II,III, IV OR V! I am in the sixth grade. I have to recite a speech from memory tomorrow in class. I was nervous before, but NOW I feel sick!

Ed.: Now, now, sir, having pre-performance butterflies is VERY common, especially before a big opening night...

John: [head twitching uncontrollably as he begins to sputter] I AM not having an opening night!!! What, are you sick?

Ed.: No, you just said YOU were sick...

John: Gack! How am I ever going to finish memorizing the St. Crispin Day speech if you're playing mind games on me?

Ed.: Oh, I'm glad you mentioned that, because I've been trying to find out, is it "St. Crispin" or "St. Crispian"? I've seen it both ways in the text...and who was he, anyway?

John: ORDERLY!!!

Of Axiomatic "News" Stories...

Amid all the ink and electrons devoted to pointless celebrity "news" and unreal reality TV, I came across what was purported to be a bona fide news story today, somewhere on the Web...

"Smokers Found to Have Lower IQs Than Non-Smokers"....I mean, not to be insensitive, but HELLOOOOOOOOOOOOO!!!!

I think this jaw-dropper makes a nice bookend to another special social phenom that used to exist here in the Forest City...a cigarette outlet store called "Pick-A-Butt"...*Craig Ferguson voice* "I know!"

Thursday, February 18, 2010

Fragments of Truth: The Dead Sea Scrolls

This morning found us wending our way northward for a Community School field trip; fortunately for all concerned, I did not have to drive, thus averting another Adventure in Missed Directions. Instead, we joined Mrs. L. and Megan in their Caliber where high-tech navigation was provided by "Suzy", the trusty GPS Dashboard Assistant. Just think of all the adrenaline I saved today, not having to stress about which adjacent motorist was most likely to cut me off as I tried to find the correct exit ramp...

The desired destination was duly reached, and we found ourselves at The Milwaukee Public Museum []in good time to begin our tour. The goal of this trip? the January-June 2010 exhibit:"Dead Sea Scrolls[DSS] and the Bible: Ancient Artifacts-Timeless Treasures." [As a footnote, my husband tells me that the nation of Jordan is still contending with Israel to gain possession of these artifacts, which were discovered on territory that is now part of Jordan.]

Editor's Comment: One can hardly expect any reference to the word "Truth" in a public museum these days, and I didn't carry such expectations. However, it was hard not to note that for some of us, this exhibit was about much more than 2,000year-old scraps of parchment discovered by Beduoins in the 1950s.

The content, the preservation, discovery and, most significantly the Source of these artifacts constitute the Real Point. But, somehow, I don't think that was the intent of the curators here...all the B.C.E. and C.E. references were kind of a tip-off there.* [See * footnote below for slightly biased blather about the year-numbering have been warned...]

ANYWAY, after getting our wrist bands and regrouping, we ascended to the second floor of the museum and entered several connected rooms and alcoves of displays. The first two cases contained 'pay slips' issued to Roman soldiers, which had been recovered at sites near Qumram in what is now Jordan. No mention of whether their salaries took the form of currency or salt...

Moving on, we came upon several wall-mounted cases containing unrolled scrolls covered with remarkably uniform, intricate characters. Were we looking at documents that had come down to us over milennia? Well, actually, no, not yet. The first several displays were clearly marked facsimiles, created to approximate the originals in every respect except actual age. There were printed English translations adjacent.

Also helpful were a few "Stop and Learn" stations, staffed by museum guides,which allowed visitors to feel samples of papyrus and goatskin parchments, reed pens, facsimile inkwells, etc. It was also interesting to see copies of manuscript guides, used as comparison references to help identify and date the writing on various ancient documents.

At last, we moved into the heart of the exhibit and found ourselves peering at glass-encased actual fragments of the DSS. I confess to feeling awed by this. Despite not being able to decipher a single character, I find there is something about being in the presence of real evidence that is undeniable. Mr. K., who happens to be Hayden's dad, shared some interesting insights that he had learned as a Biblical theology student.

For example, the largest fragment on display was from the book of Isaiah, and included passages on Messianic prophecy. Prior to the discovery of the DSS, there was little to prevent scholars of liberal persuasion from asserting that such passages were written after the earthly life of Christ, and thus couldn't be considered literally prophetic. With the discovery of these fragments and the gravitas of Carbon-14 dating, this position became much less 'convenient' to maintain, at least if scholarly integrity was factored in...

In these days of rampant revisionism, I find it more and more important to 'know what I know;' the longer I live (and my life is probably 2/3 over now) the more I value the ability to affirm or refute matters of fact based on my own life experience.

For example, when I hear people haul out that tired old line about the Holocaust being a myth, I go back in my mind to the summer of 1979, when I toured the camp at Dachau, and stood in front of blown up photos of the victims. Sorry, not fabricated.

When one of my kids asked me once about the Challenger space shuttle blowing up, I clearly remembered how the air seemed to go out of the office I worked in as we all hurried back to the where one of the graphic artists had turned up the radio for the live know what you've seen and heard in life.

So, I'm hoping someday that John and Cecily will perhaps have a moment when they can access memories from today - when they literally looked through the glass and saw demonstrable evidence that 'the word of the Lord stands forever.'

Other tidbits I learned today:

- The Septuagint (LXX or 70) version of the Old Testament books, written in Greek, was created when Ptolemy II, an Egyptian king, who was persuaded to commission it and include it in his legendary library. But its name comes from the fact that between 70 and 72 scribes created now you's in Greek, by the way, because it was commissioned after Alexander the Great had conquered this region and brought with him Greek cultural influence...

- A codex is a book, as distinguished from a scroll

- The Masoretic Bible is the oldest extant codex of the Torah and is on loan to the US from the British Library.

- The two most significant early German language Bibles are the Martin Luther Bible of 1710, and the Anton Koberger (sp?) of 1483.

- The Gutenberg Bible, of which we saw one actual page, was printed but the unctials, or capital letters were all hand lettered in red ink. I would estimate the page size at about 12 inches x 18 inches...

Note on B.C. v. B.C.E...
[If you haven't been 're-educated', these are the politically correct abbreviations that refer to epochs in human history. When yours truly was a wide-eyed little school girl, we knew that B.C. meant Before Christ and that A.D. meant Anno Domini (year of our Lord)- and for several generations, at least, it was perfectly sensible to use the time that Jesus walked the earth as a reference point to divide history. But in these enlightened times, this is apparently considered non-inclusive, or ethno-centric, or some such infraction. So now we are either Before the Common Era or in the Common Era.

It seems to me that this numbering system still has A Lot in Common with the old system; according to Wikipedia (which, I realize, is not an unimpeachable source)"the numbering of years using Common Era notation is identical to the numbering used with Anno Domini (BC/AD) notation, 2010 being the current year in both notations and neither using a year zero.[3] Common Era is also known as Christian Era[4] and Current Era,[5] with all three expressions abbreviated as CE... (Both the BCE/CE and BC/AD notations are based on a sixth-century estimate for the year in which Jesus was conceived or born..."

In the Butterfly Garden at The Milwaukee Public Museum today...guess who "loves the camera" and who barely tolerates it...

"Have a Heart!"

LegoLand Field Trip: Miss Cee and Her Gentlemen Assistants Learn about Reinforced Foundations

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

You Know It's a Reality Check When...

...your high school-age daughter is writing her semester paper on An Historical Topic and that happens to be the world-stage-magnitude discourse between Ronald Reagan and Mikhail Gorbachev just prior to the dissolution of the Soviet Union...

...and you remember it as 'not that long ago'....; and then remember your oldest child (now 20) was a newborn when the Berlin Wall came down in 1989...

...and you remember passing through Checkpoint Charlie 'not that long' before that, as a college student in Europe one summer...were you ever really that young???

...and last week a friend sent you an e-mail forward with the subject line 'Remember This Guy?' ....and it's all about....Ronald Reagan. Have there really been four successive incumbents in the White House since his tenure?

...and about a week ago, you heard on the radio that this month would have marked President Reagan's 99th birthday (he was born on 6 February 1911).

Saturday, February 13, 2010

Real Valentines

Happy Valentine's Day to all!

This is not my favorite holiday (that would be Thanksgiving) because it always seem a little muddled...the actual history of St. Valentine mixed with red heart boxes of chocolates, frantic floral orders and, increasingly it seems, rather offensive commercials meant to guilt men into spending money on women out of ignoble motives...

Tonight I received some special 'valentines.' First, we went out for dinner with some dear friends to a 'fancy' restaurant at which all the women guests were given a single long-stemmed red rose. That was nice. No cooking, no dishes, no cajoling smaller people to finish everything on their plates.

Then, a loquacious little sprite clad in pink flannel pajamas danced over to me here at the computer, saying "Good night, Mommy, but now I need a REAL kiss!"

And finally, I was privileged to get a brief report from my older daughter on her weekend thus far. She and two of her best friends returned this afternoon from an overnight purity retreat held at church. Apparently 70 to 80 girls were in attendance, and it sounds like the event was well done.

"Well, there were some girls who shared their stories, and some of them were good and some were sad, but really they were all good in the end. The first one talked to us about guarding our purity"...what that means, how to do so, why it's important, and potential consequences...

Another couple of girls shared their own stories of rejection, looking for love and acceptance, learning hard lessons, 'secondary virginity,' and experiencing the love and forgiveness of Christ.

Later, a man came to share a male perspective on the effect of girls' dress ...modesty vs. immodesty, etc.

"A lot of that stuff I already knew from you, Mom,...which...thanks for telling me that stuff, by the way...but they were good reminders. And then this morning was more my favorite part, because they talked about the meaning and symbolism of wearing a white gown, throwing rice, something old, something new, something borrowed, something blue...sixpence in your shoe...well, I'm still not sure about that part."

Then, she reported, a couple of English ladies came and served them "real English tea in pretty teacups, and with little cakes and finger sandwiches...which I couldn't eat most of them [Alina has celiac disease] but that was OK, and they had these cool veddy British accents."

All this for $25.00! What a great investment in heart training.

"Oh, and Mom..."


"I just wanted to tell you, thank you for marrying Dad. I like him!"

Blessing upon blessing.

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

"My Cat Jumped!"

Breaking news is announced in all kinds of ways.

This afternoon I learned from Hayden (a previously mentioned classmate of Miss Cee's, and an observed object of her....interest) that we had an earthquake here in northern Illinois in the wee hours of this morning...with feline implications.

[solemnly] "There was an earthquake this morning..."
[wide-eyed]: "....and it made my cat jump!!!"

If a third grader isn't a credible witness, there probably isn't one to be found.

Now, the Circle H Ranch backstory...

This morning at 4 am, straight up, we two Ancient Hollidays awoke and sat bolt upright, seemingly in unison.

"What was that?"

"I don't know, but it seemed to be outside."

Eyes peering into the blackness, ears straining...and picking up faint Cecily tones.

Apparently she didn't get far trying to rouse Brother John because a moment later we heard what sounded like a small body displacing its weight onto a bed.

With no further excitement pending, we succumbed to sleep again.

A few hours later, as I walked into our closet, I noticed a cellphone box had fallen off the shelf and onto the floor...could this possibly have made so much noise?

Sad to say, with my rapidly declining mental acuity,I did not link these two events together until a short time ago. I had heard of small earthquakes in the Illinois area before, but I'd never 'felt' one.

Bill says a colleague at work dismissed this as of little note...but that's because she's a California native and lived through the 1994 Northridge temblor, so I suppose anything's tame compared to that...or the devastating Haiti quake of a few weeks ago. Still, as I recall, the Port-au-Prince quake was measured at about 7 on the Richter scale, and our little bump this morning was a 3.8; so an event a little less that twice the strength we experienced wrought all the havoc we've seen in the media.

Sobering. Things are shakin'.

Below is a cut-and-paste excerpt from today's Rockford Register Star:

Magnitude: 3.8

* Wednesday, February 10, 2010 at 09:59:33 UTC
* Wednesday, February 10, 2010 at 03:59:33 AM at epicenter
* Time of Earthquake in other Time Zones

Location 42.053°N, 88.412°W
Depth 5 km (3.1 miles) set by location program

* 2 km (1 miles) SSE (168°) from Pingree Grove, IL
* 6 km (4 miles) SW (215°) from Gilberts, IL
* 9 km (6 miles) WSW (243°) from Sleepy Hollow, IL
* 10 km (6 miles) W (279°) from Elgin, IL
* 34 km (21 miles) NNW (344°) from Aurora, IL
* 65 km (40 miles) WNW (292°) from Chicago, IL

Location Uncertainty horizontal +/- 7.3 km (4.5 miles); depth fixed by location program
Parameters NST= 16, Nph= 16, Dmin=179.1 km, Rmss=0.54 sec, Gp=104°,
M-type=regional moment magnitude (Mw), Version=8


Event ID us2010snay

* This event has been reviewed by a seismologist.

Tuesday, February 9, 2010


It's a frosty winter night, it's been snowing all day, and only the hard-boiled cabin fever cases are venturing out. There's nothing like dipping into a little heady aural stimuli to distract one from the monotony. And I have just the ticket...Bazzini.

ParDON?, you say?

That's what I said. Well, not really. I encountered Signior Bazzini's legacy by stumbling upon a youtube clip, and at first thought there was something wrong with my computer sound card. Nope. Supernatural ability is just a prerequisite here.

If, like moi, you are not well-versed in 19th Century violin virtuosos, enjoy my "discovery", as performed in the link below by Itzhak Perlman. To call it remarkable seems to be an understatement. Let me know what you think.

And if, for some cyber-gremlin reason, you are not able to connect to the above link but are still interested just go to and enter "Bazzini" in the search field. There are several filmed performances, but Perlman seems to have the most "liquid" fingers of the few clips I sampled...and he seems to be in the 'joy zone' as he performs. Enjoy...marvel...replay...well, that's what I did, anyway.

For any "inquiring minds" who want to know more, I've cut and pasted a brief excerpt from the wikipedia entry, below. Time to put the kettle on...

Antonio Joseph Bazzini (March 11, 1818 – February 10, 1897) was an Italian violinist, composer and teacher. As a composer his most enduring work is his chamber music which has earned him a central place in the Italian instrumental renaissance of the 19th century. However his success as a composer was outstretched by his reputation as one of the finest concert violinists of the nineteenth century.

Sunday, February 7, 2010


This being Super Bowl Sunday all the menfolk, usually in residence here at the Circle H Ranch, are elsewhere, presumably glued to a big-screen TV watching the annual hypefest. Did that sound underappreciative?

Alina and I took a "pass", which is the closest we get to Football Lingo.

Me: Do you understand football?

She: Well, I know there are guys who tackle each other, or something.

Me: Yup, and they try to run the football across the endzone line, but I'm never sure if the line they want is at the opposite end or not...

She: Opposite end of what?

Me: This is why we don't watch football.

[Where is Miss Cee, you may ask? She is with the menfolk, but of was a no-brainer that there would be more excitement going on at Coach's Annual Super Bowl Party, not to mention lots of yummy grub, and the Loveable Lola.]

Our hunch was long as we stayed away from sports bars (not a real danger), we would steer clear of any long queues at eating establishments. In fact, it was if a giant testosterone vacuum had sucked up anyone of the male persuasion at our restaurant...even the bartender was a woman.

"Yeah," the hostess shrugged, "all the guys who work here traded all their hours with the girls for tonight. It's like an annual thing with them, I guess." Yeah. Annual, like in Super Bowl every year...I think there are some clever marketing strategies to be developed here, to capitalize on the preponderance of female clientele, but that's just a guess.

Even I figured out it was half-time, though, when the TV over the restaurant bar started blaring out The Who...well, to be honest, I at first thought it might be one of those demographic-niche cell phone ads, like the current one featuring Eric Clapton with the Fender-edition phone...maybe The Who ad is still in development.

But, no, there were Pete and Roger rockin' it at centerfield in the midst of a fairly respectable-looking light show. Surely there is some social/cultural commentary inherent in the fact that the 2010 Super Bowl halftime show features 60-something rock legends...but, I'll leave that to the sociology grad students.

* * * * *

Speaking of sociology or, perhaps, it's socio-pathology, I have a confession to make. No, nothing juicy. Just kind of a 'confession is good for the soul' and 'I indulged in further morbid curiousity' - courtesy of cable TV - mea culpa.

Do the initials "T & T" mean anything to you? If you can honestly say 'no,' I tip my proverbial hat to you. I, myself, have crossed the line.

For the uninitiated who still have their self-respect intact, "T & T"--as it relates to small-box media--refers to *inhale* "Toddlers & Tiaras". Yup. I said it.

It is exactly what you would expect. Tiny little females (with the odd boy thrown in) who are primped, prepped, and spray-tanned all for the glory of the rhinestone crown and obligatory savings bond. It's a contemporary blend of reality-docu-drama and vicarious parenting-gone-wrong that just cries out for an Intervention!!

Somehow, there is an inverse relationship between the age of the contestants and the pathology of their is...surreal. As in, I-can-hardly-tear-my-eyes-away-from-this-bizarre-spectacle. Thus, commercial air time is sold.

One can only hope that the savings bonds won can be used for the future therapy sessions these little Regal Gems, Ultimate Supremes, Sapphire-Ruby-Emerald-and-Diamond Supremes and crestfallen Runners-Up will, no doubt, need. Or, perhaps, it's the unfathomably motivated moms and pageant directors who are in most dire need of help.

Wait...Silly me. Anyone who would imagine that a therapeutic perspective is called for here wouldn't be caught dead in one of these hotel meeting room pageant venues to begin with. So, it's all good. Isn't it?

I suppose the one thing that kept me watching all the way to the end (in addition to the fact that I left my Lunesta upstairs) was the uncanny perspective with which all this video footage was shot and edited. It was deftly balanced between wide-eyed buy-in of the whole pageant phenomenon and finger-shaking indignation at the willful exploitation...but maybe that's the point, afterall. Is it really exploitation if everyone in front of the camera is so knowingly cooperative?

I think one episode is enough.

Saturday, February 6, 2010

Plumbing New Lows

There is nothing new under the sun, we're told in the book of Ecclesiastes, and I am the last to argue with a biblical source. Neither is there much quite so hackneyed and predictable as political scandal...only the names and eras change, for the most part.

Still, while channel-surfing several months ago, I stumbled upon the singular press conference conducted by SC Gov. Mark Sanford. It didn't look like 'business as usual', even to a jaded eye. Apart from the tears and convincing angst, it was obvious that his statement was neither prepared nor "spun." He had, afterall, been virtually ambushed by an intrepid reporter who figured out that he hadn't really been "hiking the Appalachain Trail" as he had told an aide; no, his destination had been both more exotic and more suspect...visiting his Argentinian mistress.

The reason I return to this sorry topic at all is that the governor seems to have broken some new ground, in spite of himself. Not in the immorality department, but in the very degree of his callousness. I found myself shaking my head as I read the following snippets from a review of Mrs. Sanford's just-released memoir:

"How he was a jerk early on: The first Thanksgiving they were married, they joined Mark's family at the Sanford farm -- where Mark informed her he'd be bunking with his brothers, not with her. 'I've always slept with my brothers and I don't see why that has to change now that we're married,' he told her.

"How he pinched pennies: One year, for her birthday, he gave her a drawing of half a bike; for Christmas, he drew the other half. A few months later he handed her a $25 used bike. [Nice.]

"Then there was the time he had a staffer pick out a necklace for her -- but when he saw her wearing it, he said, 'That is what I spent all that money on? I hope you kept the box!' He returned the jewelry the next day. And he was once too cheap to hire an exterminator when their Charleston house was infested with bats.

"How his disregard for her turned callous: When Sanford needed a tubal ligation (she had been through four difficult pregnancies and could not risk another), she went to the hospital alone. 'As I was wheeled in for surgery, the nurse asked me why I didn't have anyone with me for support.

"And shortly after she discovered his long-running affair, he began 'pestering me for permission to see his lover ... so he could find the 'key to his heart.' "

"When she demurred -- she knew she could forgive him for what had happened, but condoning continued adultery was another matter -- he asked her, 'Do you want to wake up when you are eighty and know you never had a heart connection?'"

There was also the jaw-droppingly insensitive comment about how he was "trying to fall in love" with his wife, after his return from one of the assignations. And what must have been an excruciating moment when Mrs. Sanford discovered her sons reading verbatim quotes from some of their father's graphic e-mails to his mistress, published in the Charleston newspapers.

But, every now and then, life seems to give us a heads-up, which we would do well to heed. Apparently for Mrs. Sanford, her early warning signal flashed during their wedding preparations, two decades earlier, at which time her husband-to-be "did not include the vow to be faithful" in his wedding vows. Warning, warning.

Thursday, February 4, 2010

Movie Review

The Percolator Interviews Illustrious Film Critic J.Daniel Holliday: "HEIDI"

Editor: Mr. Daniel, it's a pleasure to meet you.

JD: It's a pleasure to meet you, too.

Ed.: I understand that this afternoon you were privileged to screen the vintage version of the film, "Heidi."

JD: Well, "privilege" might be stretching it a bit.

Ed.: How so?

JD: Well, they did have, like a romance part, and it didn't seem very exciting. I mean, it might be good for a girl, but not for me.

Ed.: Ah, I understand completely; I have observed that the Male Mind is An Entity Unto Itself. How did you happen to view this film today?

JD: Our teacher, Mrs. Brown, wanted us to see some of the scenery and stuff, since we're studying Europe in class right now. It's in Switzerland, ya know...The Alps, goats, well, you get it.

Ed.: Indeed. So, who starred in this cinematic treasure?

JD: Like, Jennifer Somebody...anyway, I know it wasn't Shirley Temple.

Ed.: Who was Grandfather?

JD.: Beats me.

Ed.: Hmm, well were there any exciting scenes?

JD: Unfortunately not...not exciting to me, anyway.

Ed.: What kind of scenes are exciting to you?

JD: Explosions. Gunfire.

Ed.: Blood and gore?

JD: That's not exciting, it's just gross. Even though I do live for that sort of stuff.

Ed.: OK, well, then. Isn't there a mean headmistress character or something, named Miss Rottenmeyer? I've always loved that name...

JD: Well, there's a governess, but she's not mean. It's not like a sinister movie or anything.

Ed.: So, what grade would you give this film?

JD: A 'D'

Ed.: Hmm, so this isn't on your list of favorites, I gather.

JD: Nope. Well, it was kind of what some girls would think is 'cute' in a few places, but that doesn't apply to me.

Ed.: Aha. Well, if you could give the filmmakers any advice to improve their efforts, what would you suggest?

JD: Get a new director!! If it was a different movie, it might have a hope.

Ed.: You don't beat around the bush, do you Mr. Daniel?

JD: Apparently not... What bush?

Ed.: So, overall, would you recommend this film?

JD: Nope. Not for any reason. I just hope the next movie we have to watch for school is better there isn't so much crying and hugging and such... *eye rolling*

Ed.: I understand your next film screening will include another European venue.

JD: Well, I don't know about that, but it's about a kid named Hans who skates around in Holland. I'm not too excited, though, because he's not an Olympic speed skater or anything cool like that.

Ed.: I see. Well, Mr. Daniel, we do appreciate your time with us.

JD: Anything for the public.


Wednesday, February 3, 2010

Mending Thumb


I almost feel funny posting again about Ben's thumb, but so many people have kindly asked about it, even as of yesterday, that I thought I'd put in a few words from yesterday's follow-up appointment. This seems like a lot of appointments and follow-up treatment for one small digit, but we know better than to take a chance on any nasty bacteria surviving...and they don't seem to go down without a fight.

Bill reports that Dr. S. was much more satisfied with the way Thumbkin looked, and there was no need for further draining (or long anesthetic needles). He also said that Ben can stop the hydrogen peroxide soaks, which is one less thing to do.

Ben does need to continue on the antibiotic and was also given a refill for 10 more days. Dr. S. wants to make sure that this infection is killed. He is going to be out of town for a few days, and he wanted to make sure something did not flare up while he was gone.

He wants to see Ben again next Wednesday (I think we can just set the car on auto-pilot to get to Rockford Orthopedic now) to check on it for, hopefully, the last time. The plan is for Ben to stop the med on Sunday, allowing a couple of days without it before the next appointment. If these last 10 days of antibiotic do not kill the infecting bacteria, then the couple of days without meds will allow it to flare up just before the next appointment, when Dr. S. can get another look. If this last course of meds kills it, then we are done. If not, we will not be happy campers and will have to see what's next: probably a stronger drug that is harder on the system. But, I remind myself that in the days before antibiotic therapy, a lot of people died from rampant bacterial infection.

Perhaps some of this extra caution means he is taking Ben's recent medical history into account with this treatment. We are cautiously hopeful that this little incident does not mean Ben will be more susceptible to and harder hit by infections in the future.

His glucose readings have been more reasonable lately, but still bouncing a bit [104, 87, 140,11, 74]. Of course, Ben still is not testing often enough or noting the times he eats or exercises in relation to the timing of these readings. I have nagged him about this repeatedly, and even spoken to him in English...we are supposed to fax more detailed readings into the endocrinologist next week. Ben knows that this testing scenario can be as pleasant or unpleasant as he wants to make it...compliance = no loss of privileges or outside activities, while the reverse is also true. This stuff makes me old and tired.

The last two days, Ben has gone to track practice and, though he comes home exhausted, he is able to keep up. He has also returned to work (three or four nights a week at the frame shop); so far he reports that the eccentric lady who strongly resembles me (perhaps my secret lunatic twin) has not appeared lately...but that may be changing. Word on the street is that she unearthed the Scottie travel poster that was supposed to be framed and hung in the powderroom, after our painter friend transformed it to Highland Green....

Tuesday, February 2, 2010

Knowing and Feeling

Bon Soir--

Well, we have been without internet service for most of the day and evening, so this is a quick post (don't I ALWAYS say that?) since my highschoolers have to get on to do their homework. Once again, I marvel that I got through grade school, high school, and college with nothing more potent than an electric Smith-Corona that resembled a chocolate Chunky bar.

Anyway, Punxatatawney Phil is already vindicated here in northern Illinois with his 'six more weeks of winter' has snowed ALL day long.

But, I digress...

Today, for the second day in a row, Bill went to visit a friend in the hospital here. Exactly our age. With kids the ages of our kids. We haven't seen him in quite some time, and were never really close...but had spent some time with him and his wife some years back...

He is a patient now because of advanced liver disease due to alcoholism. Bill says he looks 20 years older than his chronological age. We have no idea what the prognosis is, let alone what his outlook is emotionally, physically, or spiritually.

Bill visited with him briefly, and he managed to get his hand out from under the sheet to hold Bill's while Bill prayed for him. It is a long and tortuous road that brings someone to the point that this man is at now, and he has traveled a long way in not so many years. We have no way of knowing if this man felt strengthened or encouraged in any way by that prayer. It was raised out of trust and obedience.

Today, Bill said he looked better and was talking on the phone, which requires at least a little energy.

Just a few minutes ago, I was catching up on my e-mail and found another church prayer request. A lot of times, I don't know the person that the request is about. But, this time, I did.

It seems that when it comes to our moments of crisis, and moments of prayer, the perceived reality can vary. I have experienced times when I prayed for others and not only "knew", but "felt" I was being heard by the One I addressed in prayer.

I have had my own moments, whether as a hospital patient or in moments of emotional extremity, where my anxiety or pain seemed to blot out anything else, while I prayed on. I have times, as probably everyone does, when it seems pointless to pray--usually because my focus is downward and my trust is frayed.

But I've also had moments, and I pray this for the individuals referenced above, and their loved ones, when I both Felt and Knew. I knew we were being lifted in prayer, and I felt an inexplicable security and certainty that I new to be the fruit of the prayers of others.

Feelings, as we all know, come and go; they can't be trusted to bring you through the deep water. "We walk by faith, not by sight." [can't remember the reference now].

But there must be some kind of circular path there...the memories of that peace that passes understanding have buttressed my faith for the next time....

Monday, February 1, 2010

Feb. 2nd: A Double Whammy...

Consider this a head's up....tomorrow is a double-jeopardy day...first, it's election day in this neck of the woods...federal representative seats, judgeships, and other municipal posts will appear on the ballots...which means I'll have to get up extra early if I have any hope of having DH (dear husband) buy me a coffee after we "cast" our ballots....I'm sure there's a back story to that expression...

Today I worked at school and during lunch duty, it was explained to me that I needed to move the little lunchers away from their usual roosting spot because election workers were coming in with voting machines, etc. The church that our school lmeets in is an official lpolling place.

Being the only adult in the area at that moment, I imagine I was the only one to inwardly chortle at the juxtaposition: many US voters go to cast their ballots in polling places that happen to be within church buildings. No doubt, it is the only time many people enter a church building. I'm not sure why so many polling places are in churches....and I realize it is probably not the majority. Obviously the 'separation between church and state' spin doesn't carry much weight here...maybe there's an inherent understanding that houses of worship tend to be 'safe havens' where it is reasonable to expect some orderliness...I hope so, anyway.

I hope the first through fourth graders (who were temporarily inconvenienced at lunch time to make way for the voting machines) all grow up to appreciate the costly freedom they have inherited to live in a democratic republic. Or, perhaps, I should hope that it still is so when they are old enough to vote.

And FURTHERMORE, tomorrow is Groundhog Day! Holy Toledo...that's a lot of gravitas for one day! My husband has an "old" [in both senses] friend--going back to kindergarten, in fact--who was born on Groundhog Day. But *head scratch* for some reason, he didn't like to be reminded of that little coincidence. So they obligingly call(ed) him Earth Pig...

Which brings us back to the "heads up"'s that for a clever segue?...OK, never mind. But, tomorrow, we'll at some point find out what happens when Punxatawnee Phil, or whatever his name is, pokes his little mammalian head out into the daylight and either does, or doesn't see his shadow.

With all due respect to my beloved dad, who used to work as a meteorolgist back when I was a tiny tot, I think the Groundhog Method of predicting the duration of winter is about as valid as all those computer models, satellite images, etc., etc. And, it's MUCH more fashionable. I've heard tell that some groundhogs have even been persuaded to pose in tophats for their moment(s) of glory! I suppose after the flash, they "eat their hat"...