Category Archives: The Porch Swing

Where's Joe?

I’m looking for Joe Biden.
Has anyone seen him since the election?

I mean, besides that one time when he drank a beer
in the Rose Garden with those other guys?

If you see him, ask him to contact me, ‘k?

Where’s Joe?

I’m looking for Joe Biden.
Has anyone seen him since the election?

I mean, besides that one time when he drank a beer
in the Rose Garden with those other guys?

If you see him, ask him to contact me, ‘k?

The Delicate Art of Reconnection

Have you ever used Facebook to get in touch with someone you hadn’t talked to in many years?
Sometimes, it’s simple, fun, and easy. For example, I’m now FB Friends with a bunch of my younger second cousins, a far flung group some of whose members may barely remember me. I get a kick out of keeping up with them. One young woman is a cool San Francisco artist whom I last saw when she was a year old.

Other times, the whole reconnecting thing seems trickier. C’mon, you must know what I mean, right? Well, maybe I’m the only one, but there have been occasions when something like this happens:

1. Idly enter Long Vanished Person’s name in FB search.
2. There they are!!
3. I click “add friend” and “enter personal message.”
4. Then, I dither and debate the perfect tone and content for the brief message:
“Hi, remember me?!” (of course he remembers me, we flipping lived together for over a year.)
“Wow, Facebook is really something, isn’t it!” (too lame.)
“Gosh, it’s been so long. I grew up, got married, had kids, and what about you?” (I’d never friend someone who said that.)
“I heard about your dad passing away, and I’m really sorry. What else is new?” (wrong, wrong, wrong.)
5. Finally I compose a message, hit send, and wait.
6. Well, lo and behold, I’m now FB Friends with Long Vanished Person!

So far, so good, but what happens next?
I’ve decided to try to reconnect with a few of these folks.
Just in case that’s not modern enough, I’ll blog about it!
Here are the victims, er, beloved new FB Friends:

1. First, and easiest, an old friend from the town where my DH and I lived as newlyweds, * cough * about 27 years ago. This friend I’ll call “Nancy” because that’s her name. She was one of a shifting group of SAHMs with babies & kids in the same age range. I remember her as really funny, smart, and kind.
However, I didn’t much like living in this particular hot, sprawling, military town whose name starts with an F (I’m looking at you, Fayette-Nam), and in 1988 we moved to the Land of the Tarred Heels and never looked back. She sent me a funny birthday card about 17 years ago, but basically we’re totally out of touch.

Her son gave me the email address and encouraged me to write, but What to say? What if she’s joined a cult? Wants to convert me?

2. and 3. are equally challenging, so, flipping a mental coin,

2. A young man whom I last saw when he was 3 years old and who is now in his 20’s. I was a good friend of his father’s. Unfortunately, his dad committed suicide when the young man was a toddler. I was So Mad at his father for doing that, although in retrospect, I see warning signs that weren’t obvious then.

I was determined that, when the little boy grew up, I would be available – maybe to tell him more about the positive fun side of his dad, or just to listen if that’s helpful, maybe pass on souveneirs I’ve kept all these years. The son has the same wild look in his eyes as his dad did, it’s spooky.
Anyway, after I wrote a mild-mannered, hopefully-not-crazy-sounding message, we are FB friends. I have no idea where to go next, but I’ll let my nonexistent public know when/if I figure it out.

3. Last, and a bit of a classic – my first “serious” boyfriend. With the perspective of * another cough * decades, I see that we were just doing what young 20-somethings always do – engaging in Much Drama About Nothing – you know, jealousy about such burning issues as “you talked to her all during the party!!”
I liked him before all the drama, and would like to be friends again, but there are a couple of weird quirks (aren’t there always?)
First, we grew up in the same area. I knew his siblings and still know a couple of them, and in general we know each other’s childhood families. I don’t know, maybe that’s not such a weird quirk.
Secondly, after we split up (*cough in the 1970’s *) he went on to become a fabulously successful film producer. Name 10 blockbuster movies of the past decade, I guarantee you he was involved with a couple. He’s basically in that “rich and famous” category that includes a lot of public information about a person. So, I don’t know, you don’t suppose he’ll think that is why I’ve looked him up, do you?

So, where on earth to start? I’m going to take these people in order, decide whether or not it’s a good idea to contact them, and see what happens!
If you’ve had similar experiences, bring ’em on!

Pete & a Grammy & My Cousin-in-Law

Time for some bragging. Y’know my cousin Mai?
mai
I knew you’d remember her.
Well. Y’know Mai’s husband, David Bernz?
davidlrg2
Right, that’s the one.
Well, Pete Seeger won a Grammy award for folk music, for the CD
Pete at 89.
pete-seeger

David Bernz, my cousin’s husband, or as I’m calling it cousin-in-law, was the Co-Producer of the album. I think that’s pretty cool!

Let’s Talk About the “Suleman Eight”

I’m a little irritated by outrage over Nadya Suleman,
the California woman who had octuplets.
So, maybe if I write for a few minutes, it will become
clearer exactly why the furor bugs me.

I don’t dispute the Obvious Conclusions drawn
by Everyone Out There.
Of course! it’s ridiculous to have eight babies at once,
still crazier for someone who isn’t married, and
weirder still if you already have six kids.
And, yes, the mom might have a screw loose,
or be seeking attention, who knows?
Furthermore, the doctor did indeed
take a big foolish risk.

So, okay. We all agree.
Ms. Suleman showed bad judgment by seeking fertility
treatment, given her circumstances and
the large brood she already had.
The doctor showed bad judgment by accepting her as
a patient and by implanting so many embryos.

But . . . what?
Well, for one thing, on any given day a zillion people
use bad judgment regarding choice of mate, timing of
child-bearing, family planning or lack thereof,
marriage, divorce, family size, child-rearing, and every
other aspect of family life.
Every single day some folks have kids without having
a spouse, and other people marry the wrong person,
leave perfectly good spouses, and still more people
decide not to have kids or to have more children, even
though it’s the wrong decision for them to make.
Every single day some folks bribe children with candy,
others allow too much TV, or hit their kids, or they’re too
strict or not strict enough, or whatever.

Most of the zillion daily instances of bad judgment
never require Official Action, but when bad judgment
crosses certain agreed-upon lines, then the Law or
Social Service may intervene.

Other than that, why is it anyone’s business?
Wait!
I hear a voice saying “it’s our business because it’s
going to cost the taxpayers a lot of money!”
Nonsense.
Of course children in an impoverished family
will use more tax-supported services than children in a
middle class household. But – these eight don’t use up
any more tax dollars than eight kids dispersed among
three or four poor unmarried mothers.

Plus, since when is “costing taxpayers money” enough to
make someone else’s mistakes into my business?
Cigarette smokers cost us all more money than these babies
ever will, and what about tax money spent on
injuries and illnesses that are traceable to alcoholism,
addiction, obesity, riding motorcycles, etc.?

Don’t get me wrong – If Nadya Suleman were my daughter
or sister, I would have stronglyadvised her against having
octuplets. But, being as she’s a total stranger, I guess I don’t
think it’s our business.
I think We All should just Back Off and Butt Out.

Besides, am I the only one anywhere who is kind of curious
about them? Nadya is pretty – I bet the octuplets will be
cute! And what if, against all the odds, she makes something
of her life and is able to raise them? I mean, I know it was
a dumb thing to do, but it’s done now and it’s not the babies’
fault, is it? Here they are – Welcome to the World, babies!

Let's Talk About the "Suleman Eight"

I’m a little irritated by outrage over Nadya Suleman,
the California woman who had octuplets.
So, maybe if I write for a few minutes, it will become
clearer exactly why the furor bugs me.

I don’t dispute the Obvious Conclusions drawn
by Everyone Out There.
Of course! it’s ridiculous to have eight babies at once,
still crazier for someone who isn’t married, and
weirder still if you already have six kids.
And, yes, the mom might have a screw loose,
or be seeking attention, who knows?
Furthermore, the doctor did indeed
take a big foolish risk.

So, okay. We all agree.
Ms. Suleman showed bad judgment by seeking fertility
treatment, given her circumstances and
the large brood she already had.
The doctor showed bad judgment by accepting her as
a patient and by implanting so many embryos.

But . . . what?
Well, for one thing, on any given day a zillion people
use bad judgment regarding choice of mate, timing of
child-bearing, family planning or lack thereof,
marriage, divorce, family size, child-rearing, and every
other aspect of family life.
Every single day some folks have kids without having
a spouse, and other people marry the wrong person,
leave perfectly good spouses, and still more people
decide not to have kids or to have more children, even
though it’s the wrong decision for them to make.
Every single day some folks bribe children with candy,
others allow too much TV, or hit their kids, or they’re too
strict or not strict enough, or whatever.

Most of the zillion daily instances of bad judgment
never require Official Action, but when bad judgment
crosses certain agreed-upon lines, then the Law or
Social Service may intervene.

Other than that, why is it anyone’s business?
Wait!
I hear a voice saying “it’s our business because it’s
going to cost the taxpayers a lot of money!”
Nonsense.
Of course children in an impoverished family
will use more tax-supported services than children in a
middle class household. But – these eight don’t use up
any more tax dollars than eight kids dispersed among
three or four poor unmarried mothers.

Plus, since when is “costing taxpayers money” enough to
make someone else’s mistakes into my business?
Cigarette smokers cost us all more money than these babies
ever will, and what about tax money spent on
injuries and illnesses that are traceable to alcoholism,
addiction, obesity, riding motorcycles, etc.?

Don’t get me wrong – If Nadya Suleman were my daughter
or sister, I would have stronglyadvised her against having
octuplets. But, being as she’s a total stranger, I guess I don’t
think it’s our business.
I think We All should just Back Off and Butt Out.

Besides, am I the only one anywhere who is kind of curious
about them? Nadya is pretty – I bet the octuplets will be
cute! And what if, against all the odds, she makes something
of her life and is able to raise them? I mean, I know it was
a dumb thing to do, but it’s done now and it’s not the babies’
fault, is it? Here they are – Welcome to the World, babies!

"The Road to Inner Peace"

Om . . .

I am posting in its entirety an email I received this morning with the subject line
The Road to Inner Peace:

I am passing this on to you because it definitely works, and we could all use a little more calmness in our lives. By following simple advice heard on the Dr. Phil show, you too can find inner peace. Dr Phil proclaimed, “The way to achieve inner peace is to finish all the things you have started and have never finished.
So, I looked around my house to see all the things I started and hadn’t finished, and before leaving the house this morning, I finished off a bottle of White Zinfandel, a bottle of Bailey’s Irish Cream, a package of Oreos, the remainder of my old Prozac prescription, the rest of the cheesecake, some Doritos, and a box of chocolates. You have no idea how freaking good I feel right now!

Pass this on to those whom you think might be in need of inner peace…

Hee hee, giggle, giggle.

“The Road to Inner Peace”

Om . . .

I am posting in its entirety an email I received this morning with the subject line
The Road to Inner Peace:

I am passing this on to you because it definitely works, and we could all use a little more calmness in our lives. By following simple advice heard on the Dr. Phil show, you too can find inner peace. Dr Phil proclaimed, “The way to achieve inner peace is to finish all the things you have started and have never finished.
So, I looked around my house to see all the things I started and hadn’t finished, and before leaving the house this morning, I finished off a bottle of White Zinfandel, a bottle of Bailey’s Irish Cream, a package of Oreos, the remainder of my old Prozac prescription, the rest of the cheesecake, some Doritos, and a box of chocolates. You have no idea how freaking good I feel right now!

Pass this on to those whom you think might be in need of inner peace…

Hee hee, giggle, giggle.

Duke Hospital Visit: Review

Sunday morning:
I have to take my father to the Duke Eye Center this morning.
(crossing fingers)

Monday morning:
Review of Duke Hospital:
1. Medical care – the important thing.
The nurses and doctors were kindly, patient with my dad’s longish answers to questions, competent, and reassuring.
2. Physical facility:
Really dirty, like no one cleaned/washed/vacuumed in a week.
3. Cafeteria:
Okay. Par for the course.
4. Gift Shop:
Substandard: crowded, understocked, and staff lacked information.
5. Security:
Ridiculous!! They actually have a rule against knitting!
Even the airlines don’t do that!
It’s just stupid, since they have never ever ever had any kind of incident in the hospital involving knitting needles. No, it’s NOT a matter of “better safe than sorry” it’s stupid. There should be SOME dim connection between the item being seized and the likelihood of it’s being misused, other than “Um, it’s sharp?” ANYTHING can be used for ill, including ballpoint pens, fists, a pocketbook slung at someone, a waiting room lamp thrown at someone, a shoe, etc.
Rant, rant rant . . .

Prayer on Inauguration Day

Heavenly Spirit,
Grant Barack Obama wisdom, strength, and humor.
Keep him safe as he leads our country forward.
Grant us patience, resolve, and humor. Give us the
ability to change habits that no longer serve us well.
Grant the peoples of the world compassion, kindness,
and tolerance towards each other.
Thank you.

The Non-Transferability of Human Experience

True or false?

Excerpt From Sam Harris Column

By Sam Harris | NEWSWEEK
Published Sep 20, 2008
From the magazine issue dated Sep 29, 2008

The point to be lamented is not that Sarah Palin comes from outside Washington, or that she has glimpsed so little of the earth’s surface (she didn’t have a passport until last year), or that she’s never met a foreign head of state. The point is that she comes to us, seeking the second most important job in the world, without any intellectual training relevant to the challenges and responsibilities that await her. There is nothing to suggest that she even sees a role for careful analysis or a deep understanding of world events when it comes to deciding the fate of a nation. In her interview with Gibson, Palin managed to turn a joke about seeing Russia from her window into a straight-faced claim that Alaska’s geographical proximity to Russia gave her some essential foreign-policy experience. Palin may be a perfectly wonderful person, a loving mother and a great American success story—but she is a beauty queen/sports reporter who stumbled into small-town politics, and who is now on the verge of stumbling into, or upon, world history.

The problem, as far as our political process is concerned, is that half the electorate revels in Palin’s lack of intellectual qualifications. When it comes to politics, there is a mad love of mediocrity in this country. “They think they’re better than you!” is the refrain that (highly competent and cynical) Republican strategists have set loose among the crowd, and the crowd has grown drunk on it once again. “Sarah Palin is an ordinary person!” Yes, all too ordinary.

We have all now witnessed apparently sentient human beings, once provoked by a reporter’s microphone, saying things like, “I’m voting for Sarah because she’s a mom. She knows what it’s like to be a mom.” Such sentiments suggest an uncanny (and, one fears, especially American) detachment from the real problems of today. The next administration must immediately confront issues like nuclear proliferation, ongoing wars in Iraq and Afghanistan (and covert wars elsewhere), global climate change, a convulsing economy, Russian belligerence, the rise of China, emerging epidemics, Islamism on a hundred fronts, a defunct United Nations, the deterioration of American schools, failures of energy, infrastructure and Internet security … the list is long, and Sarah Palin does not seem competent even to rank these items in order of importance, much less address any one of them.

Yes oh yes Wonkette

What they said:

“Is This Tomorrow?”

Sarah Palin makes me want to scream. Part 1

If I have to listen to one more media type seriously and respectfully discussing Sarah Palin’s “qualifications” for office, as though there were any remote way on earth she has the intelligence, education, skills, or background to be even a cabinet member, I will just scream.

Sarah Palin is lamentably ignorant, narrow-minded, uneducated, small-minded, and lacks ANY experience in the kinds of thinking, analyzing, compromising, or big-picture seeing that a president or vice president does.
Let’s put aside (although it’s hard), the lies and misrepresentations in her speech, her ethical lapses in Alaska, all the family & baby dramas, and let’s even set aside (although it’s hard), her extreme right wing views on so-called “social” issues.
Putting all that away, the real problem is that there is NO indication that she has ever taken even a passing interest in foreign affairs or international relations, or has EVER engaged in thoughtful study of economic  policy, environmental science, globalization of labor and production, the social dynamics of largely Muslim countries, climate change, constitutional law, the role of the judiciary in our society, financial markets, the structure of our tax code, health care, space travel, infrastructure repair, educational issues, effective consensus building (she’s been a bully in Alaska), or any of the other issues that the next president & vice president will have to deal with.  Does she even speak a foreign language?
Honest-to-Pete, I could care less who is more “down to earth” or who has a “story” I can “relate to.”  Haven’t we learned anything from eight years of a president chosen on the basis of who would be more fun to have a beer with?
What is “elite” anyway, besides the newest insult?  If elite means more intelligent, better educated, more practiced and adept at analysis of complex multi-faceted issues, better spoken, better able to interact appropriately with world leaders, possessed of a greater fund of general cultural knowledge, and being the Law Review editor of Harvard – then, yeah, I want the elite one.  Field-dressing a moose, watching kids’ hockey games, firing state officials who won’t fire your sister’s ex-husband – these are neither the things the president does, nor are they preparation for being vice-president.  It’s not who has more “executive” experience, or who is the best speaker, whose family is the most engaging, or who is “just like us.”  Leading the free world – damn right, I want someone in the top percentile of everything.
Far as I can tell, Palin was overmatched as mayor of Smallville, Alaska.  I shudder to think of her with potential responsibility for the whole country.

Richardson for Vice President!

Yesterday I sent Barack Obama an email. Of course, I realize he doesn’t have time to read emails, but it did me good to organize my thoughts. The main reason was that it hit me like the proverbial ton of bricks what a great choice Governor Bill Richardson would be for a vice presidential candidate. Here is most of the email:

Dear Senator Obama,
Hi! It’s me again, your new best friend. It’s been awhile since I’ve written and I was starting to think you wouldn’t need anymore amateur advice, but alas, you are floundering just a wee bit. So, here goes, in order of importance:

1. Pick Gov. Richardson as your running mate. Biden would be a BAD choice because (a) he’s a loose cannon; (b) picking him looks like you’re insecure about foreign policy experience; and (c) a lot of people dislike him (I like him fine.)
Richardson, is a GREAT pick because (1) he has boatloads of foreign policy experience; (2) he contributes in those poll-driven ways such as being a Catholic Hispanic from a Swing State; (3) he’s nice! People like him!; (4) choosing Richardson would be a surprise to everyone but you and me, and would fit the “new” image.
So, are we agreed? Richardson for your running mate.

2. Please don’t ever start another sentence with “Understand.” It is patronizing and lecture-y. Understand, I’m not trying to criticize you, but the pointing finger and the “understand” have to go.

3. McCain is really playing dirty with the lies, etc. Understand, (ha!) there is a difference between staying above the fray in terms of policy and being a passive doormat. Do something about him. I don’t know how, ask your strategists.

4. It bears repeating that nothing is gained by ignoring their attempts to “frame” the race or by whining about how they aren’t playing fair. What you have to do is challenge the underlying assumptions.
Example: “Obama is an elitist liberal.”
Underlying assumption = there is something wrong with being intelligent, articulate, thoughtful, and progressive. Unlike McCain and Bush, you clearly are not “elite” in the sense of being to the manor born.
Any “elitism” you have is based on your own God-given gifts and hard work. So, presto – “If getting a college education makes me elite, if being elected to the Senate makes me elite, then I’d like to promise every child in America the chance to join such an elite.” “If being liberal means extreme left-wing views, then no, but if being liberal means adopting policies that start and end with YOU the American people, then I’m proud to be that kind of liberal.”

Them – “Obama won’t admit the surge is working. Obama doesn’t want to win the war.”
You: “The Bush-McCain approach is to keep lowering and changing their definition of ‘victory’ rather than to define what our goals should be.”
“Talking about this quagmire in terms of win or lose is a simplistic approach. We aren’t fighting against a nation with a leader who can officially represent a country or who will one day officially announce a surrender. We’re fighting against shadowy insurgents and terrorists with no central leader and no real agenda except destruction. This war is not a footrace in the Olympics, with a single clear winner. We must take a more thoughtful approach.”

5. Finally, you have to find ways to summarize your specific plans in bite-sized ways that (unfortunately) don’t capture the particulars or the nuances. Sorry, but there are a lot of attention-challenged voters out there.
How about Americans Deserve Better, does that work?
All Americans deserve fairness and integrity in their government.
Every child deserves a great education.
Every American deserves health insurance – every single one.
Every serviceman deserves respect for their service and proper benefits when they come home.
Every American deserves clean air and water.

“I will make it harder for companies to go overseas; I will make it easier for them to stay here. I will make it easier to get retraining, and easier for companies to relocate in areas in economic difficulty.”

Okay, so I’m not a political writer! Thank you (or your staff) for taking the time to read this. I’m truly grateful that your campaign allows regular people to make suggestions.

Check KnitPurr Please

I’m not suggesting that anyone has any reason to check anyone’s blog to begin with, but on the off chance that someone has wandered by, I’m over here for the summer at Knit One, Purr Two   I’m going to start adding “real world” stuff there, not just knitting posts.  So . . . IYC, well, now you know!

Hillary Must Be Furious at Edwards!

Y’know who really got screwed?
Hil ‘n Bil.
If Edwards, knowing he couldn’t win what with a “love child” and all,
had dropped out months earlier,
Hil would have had a much better chance.
Phwew. Close call.
As an Obama supporter, I have to say thanks, John.
But, if I were a Hillary supporter, I’d be so mad.

Blog Infidelity

I’ve been using my knitting blog this summer.  Time to return to the porch swing at least some of the time!

Don’t Mess with this Movie

Saw “You Don’t Mess with the Zohan” today with my son.

On the plus side, it was cool, air conditioned, and I did giggle frequently.

That said, what a dumb movie.  And, I usually like movies with humor aimed at boys.

Don't Mess with this Movie

Saw “You Don’t Mess with the Zohan” today with my son.

On the plus side, it was cool, air conditioned, and I did giggle frequently.

That said, what a dumb movie.  And, I usually like movies with humor aimed at boys.

Unintended Irony

I saw the following headline this morning:

“Opponents of Evolution Adapt, Adopt New Strategy in Schools”

So, the “opponents of evolution” are adapting to changed conditions and coming with a new approach.  Gee, they’re evolving!!

Obama!! Sweetie!!

1. The reason that Obama called that reporter “sweetie” is not because he’s a sexist — it’s because he has two daughters and probably says the word “sweetie” about a million times a day.

2. He can call me ‘sweetie’ any time.

Hillary – Do the Right Thing.

It’s time for you to do what Bill Richardson and John Edwards already did – drop out and work for the Democratic party not for your own glory.

Thanks in advance,

Your Porch Swing Correspondent

Brina Surfaces!

Was it the blog post or coincidence?  I don’t know, but I was so glad to hear from her!

Where's Brina?

In 1977 I took a job at a local bookstore.  The store was a beloved local landmark, the owners were related to more famous media personalities.  The job, however, was awful.  Hours that felt like days dragged on between the occasional live customer.  The customers tended to ask if we “had that book, you know the one that’s been on TV?” The career employees/lifers at the store squabbled constantly about nothing.  Four ancient “jazz” tapes played over and over.

Worst of all was the incredibly stupid rule that, no matter how dead the store, we were forbidden to ever ever READ the books.

One day a woman came by and applied to work there.  She seemed nice, so I told her the “right” answers  to the questions on the application and she got the job.  So, then there were two of us who hated working there.  After a few months I wandered down the street and got a job at a hippie health-food cafe.  Another local landmark which, like the bookstore, has been gone for a few years.  But, anyway, my friend from the bookstore also moved down the street, and we both worked at the restaurant.

We stayed in touch through several decades of my going to school, her going to school, my moving and then moving back, her moving to New York City, my getting married and raising a couple of kids, her involvements with men, theatre, costuming, and the academic life.  But now — alas!!  I don’t know where she is.

Consider this a virtual milkbox.  Have you seen this woman?

brina.jpg

Brina, where are you??  Whatcha up to, kiddo?