Showing posts from January, 2019

Meditation 1.31.19 - A Pen and Ink Tangle.

Dear Henry,

Reading the newspaper this morning, I wished for a "Prince Charles News Day" - the day when the newspapers of the U.K. obliged the Prince of Wales by only reporting the good things that happened that day.

I would like to see this happen one a week, at least.  Even if it has to be a "special edition", good news needs to get out. 

Of course, reading about the royal family is always fun as well.  They are very good at keeping a very positive, uplifting front on things.  Sally Bedell Smith, the biographer who wrote my favorite Queen Elizabeth biography, has just released "Prince Charles: The Passions and Paradoxes of an Improbable Life", I think I need to add it to my reading list.

xoxo a.d.

I, Robot - Isaac Asimov - Summary and Review of a Good Book

A short summary of I, Robot: Stories of a future.

Questions to ponder while reading I, Robot: Should technology replace human interaction?
Should we rely on our inventions?
My thoughts about I, Robot: Great stories of the future.
A good look into the ethics of AI.
Voting no on robotic weapons.

Meditation 1.30.19 - Pen and Ink Tangles

Dear Henry,

I am occasionally stunned by how much we don't know.  Of course, I only realize we didn't know it after we find out the answer, hence, now, we know about it. So it becomes a moot point.

For example, I just learned, we have just barely figured out how long a day is on Saturn.  I had assumed (the mother of all mistakes) that we had already gotten this information somehow, and we do, for most of the other planets, but because Saturn is entirely blanketed in a thick, uniformly colored atmosphere, and has a near vertical magnetic pole, no one was able to tell how long a day is on Saturn. 

Finally, someone used the rings, and the science of kronoseismology, which measures the effects of the spin on the rings (I think, we have now passed beyond my limits of scientific thought) but, was explained as being similar to a bell.

So now, we know how long a day is on Saturn. 10 hours, 33 minutes, and 38 seconds.

I can't get enough done in 24 hours.

xoxo a.d.

Orange is the New Black - Piper Kerman - Summary and Review of a Good Book

A short summary of Orange is the New Black: NOT the T.V. show or stupidity in sentencing laws

Questions to ponder while reading Orange is the New Black:
How do you feel about mandatory sentencing?
Is incarceration really the best option for addiction?
My thoughts on Orange is the New Black: Points at the stupidity of the U.S. Criminal Code.
Incarceration without addiction support does nothing.
Why, WHY haven't we (as a society) figured out how to treat everyone equally?

Meditation 1.29.19 - A Pen and Ink Tangle

Dear Henry,
I love to get out and see the world and I have been grateful for the many travel opportunities I have been given but flying really can take it out of me.
I feel like such a slug these last couple of days and I think I need a massage.
Here is to a couple of more days of lying around!
xoxo a.d.

41 - A Portrait of My Father - George W. Bush - Summary and Review of a Good Book

A short summary of 41: Let me tell you about my dad, the president.

Questions to ponder while reading 41: How much do you value friendship?
Do you write letters?
My thoughts about 41: I have changed some perceptions about his presidency.
I truly admire his kindness.
I may try skydiving.

Meditation 1.28.19 - A Pen and Ink Tangle

Dear Henry,

I found an amazing service project I may start participating in.

A website called Old Weather is currently transcribing old whaling captain's logs to gather the weather information from the 19th and 20th centuries.  This is requiring human volunteers, as computers are not yet able to accurately transcribe the written text.

The project sounds fascinating, and not just for the weather information.  The history to be gleaned from these pages has me intrigued.

I have been looking for service projects and transcribing data is something I can do from home.  This sounds like a great historical preservation project. What do you think?

xoxo a.d. 

Every Man in This Village is a Liar - Megan K. Stack - Summary and Review of a Good Book

A short summary of Every Man in this Village is a Liar: A correspondents tale of the Middle East.

Questions to ponder while reading Every Man in this Village is a Liar:
Should we have done more?
By what criteria do we intervene?
My thoughts about Every Man in this Village is a Liar: Huge cultural difference.
Similes abound in this book.
I still don't know why we are even there.

Meditation 1.27.19 - A Pen and Ink Tangle

Dear Henry,

The word of the day is brumation.

Brumation is what reptiles, including alligators, do when they get too cold.  It shuts down everything but breathing and allows them to survive freezing temperatures.

Alligators, because of brumation, have actually survived several winters as far north as Philadelphia.

Learning this word has terrified me.  When we moved to Arkansas, I learned there were alligators here.  Fish has assured me that they only live in the very most southern part of the state because it gets much too cold in northern Arkansas.

I am not sure he is correct any longer.  I may need to sell the house.

xoxo a.d.

Meditation 1.26.19 - A Pen and Ink Tangle

Dear Henry,

You are never going to believe who I saw on the airplane.


I am not kidding. 

When we were leaving the Dallas Airport flying to Maui, I saw him get on the plane and I was very excited.  Then, I realized, we are staying in the same hotel and then, at our banquet, he performed.  It was AWESOME!  And, you aren't going to believe this WE WERE ON THE SAME PLANE HOME! 

You may try to tell me he died a long time ago, but no, no,  he looked pretty healthy to me.

Maybe next time I will tell you about when I saw Bigfoot.

xoxo a.d.

Meditation 1.25.19

Dear Henry,

Waking up to my last morning on Maui and as beautiful as the island is "there is no place like home".    I have seen so many beautiful things and I am excited to start getting images uploaded and I have been inspired with so many new "doodle" ideas.

It is weird to think that by the time I get home, it will be tomorrow - at noon - such is the flight time and time zone changes, I think I may need a nap.

xoxo a.d.

Case Closed: Lee Harvey Oswald and The Assassination of JFK - Gerald Posner - Summary and Review of a Good Book

A short summary of Case Closed: Shutting the door on the Kennedy Conspiracy Theory.

Questions to ponder while reading Case Closed: Do you believe there was a cover-up?
Did you feel comfortable with the evidence?
My thoughts about Case Closed: In-depth and covers every angle.
Debunks much.
Case closed.

Meditation 1.24.19 - A Pen and Ink Tangle

Dear Henry,

In Joan Didion said "The ability to think for one's self depends upon one's mastery of the language" and it is a quote I take very much to heart.

I am always on the lookout for new and cool words and the last couple of days has provided two really great words.

The first is shibboleth - a longstanding belief or custom which distinguished a particular group of people that rather out of date and unimportant.  I can think of several organizations off the top of my head that has several shibboleths.

The other is crumpsy - short-tempered and irritable.  I actually used this one in a sentence today.  Specifically, it makes me crumpsy.  Try saying it out loud.  If you are crumpsy, after you say it, you will laugh and no longer be so.

xoxo a.d.

The Vanquished - David Putnam - Summary and Review of a Good Book

A short summary of The Vanquished: A cop goes rogue for the right reasons.

Questions to ponder while reading The Vanquished: Are law and justice the same?
Can you want to help too much?
Thoughts about The Vanquished: Fast-paced and hard to put down.
Roller coaster ride to the end.
Too many twists to count.

Meditation 1.23.19 - A Pen and Ink Tangle

Dear Henry,

What do you do when you are frustrated and stuck in traffic?

May I suggest knitting?

Claudia Webster, from Bavaria, did just that.  When changes to the public transportation system almost doubled her commute times, she knitted about it.

Her project, in which she added two rows per day had the following color scheme, grey stripes for little or no delays, pink for those delays lasting up to 30 minutes, a red for wait times exceeding an hour.  After a year, she had a beautiful four-foot scarf, with more red than the area transit authority wanted to see.

Ms. Webster even got a bit of pocket money out of it.  The scarf called the Bahn-Verspatungsshal (rail delay scarf) sold on eBay for about $8.650.  She donated the money to charity.

So, there is a new mantra for traffic delays - Don't get irate, create!

xoxo a.d.

Moll Flanders - Daniel Defoe - Summary and Review of a Good Book

A short summary of Moll Flanders: Words from a working girl.

Questions to ponder while reading Moll Flanders: Is society to blame for our woes?
Should it be so hard to make a living?
My thoughts about Moll Flanders: A book I wish I had read when I was younger.
I admire Moll's spirit.
A must read for all girls.

Meditation 1.22.19 - A Pen and Ink Tangle

Dear Henry,

I had to share the story about Magic and Sphen because their tale tickles me greatly.

Magic and Sphen are two male penguins at Australia's Sea Life Aquarium and they are in love. 

Not only are they in love, but they have also become parents.

Sea Life Aquarium has a group of penguins, many of which have laid eggs. Noticing a neglected egg from another (heterosexual) couple, the keepers confiscated the egg and gave it to the boys, who adopted and nurtured the egg, and when it hatched, have become admirable and loving parents to their offspring Sphengic (no one knows if it is a boy or girl yet).

Oddly enough, theirs is the only egg that hatched, proving that parenthood and orientation have absolutely nothing to do with one another.

I smiled and even choked up a bit when I read about the budding family.

xoxo a.d.

Helter Skelter: The True Story of the Manson Murders - Vincent Bugliosi - Summary and Review of a Good Book

A short summary of Helter Skelter: The Prosecutor's case.

Questions to ponder while reading Helter Skelter: Can you ever learn too much about a topic?
Can someone be truly unredeemable?
My thoughts about Helter Skelter: 1969 was a very crazy year.
A good, in-depth look into a disturbing case. 
I am really glad he is gone.

Me Talk Pretty One Day - David Sedaris - Summary and Review of a Good Book

A short summary of Me Talk Pretty One Day: Essays on the life of David Sedaris.

Questions to ponder while reading Me Talk Pretty One Day: How is your relationship with your family?
Do you speak French?
My thoughts about Me Talk Pretty One Day: Dysfunction can be so much fun.
It always helps to laugh.
When all else fails, eat candy.

Meditation 1.21.19 - A Pen and Ink Tangle

Dear Henry,

Have you ever lost something?  Did you ever find it?

Alaskan rodeo promoter Frank Koloski has lost his cow, Betsy, and she is making sure she isn't found.

You see, seven months ago, Betsy got out and has been on the lam ever since.

While the sightings of a rogue cow have peppered Anchorage police.  She is still at large.

I am kind of rooting for her and her bid for freedom now, although, Alaska is an awfully cold place to roam without shelter.

xoxo a.d.

Meditation 1.20.19 - A Pen and Ink Doodle

Dear Henry,

In Michigan, there is a super shroom. 

An Armillaria Gallica has taken over 180 acres in the upper part of the state and (this part is really cool) is more than 2,500 years old.

Although larger than the other sprawling life form Pando, Pando still holds the record for being the oldest, as scientists estimate the aspen to be more than 80,000 years old.

I wonder how many more of these ancient beings exist?

I kind of which they could talk.

xoxo a.d.

Meditation 1.19.19 - A Pen and Ink Tangle

Dear Henry,

I have just learned, to my embarrassment, that I have been wrong for years.

Which really wouldn't have been a big deal, if I hadn't shared my misinformation for years.

You see, years ago, I read somewhere (I think), that the only reason mammals survived the Chicxulub asteroid (or comet) was because they were very small and could burrow. 

I had *assumed* (the mother of all major mistakes) that meant there were no large mammals alive during the period of the dinosaurs.

I learned I was wrong.

Dicynodonts, the early form of mammals, did, in fact, get quite large, some as large as elephants and while you may argue that they technically weren't mammals, that is only because mammals (as a classification) didn't exist and while investigating the specifics, I have come to the conclusion that their mammal status largely depends upon the scientist discussing them.

In fact, they just uncovered a new type of dicynodont in Poland.  It is amazing how much stuff science s…

Meditation 1.18.19 - A Pen and Ink Tangle

Dear Henry,

On the planet, news has become fairly depressing lately, so it is time to look to the stars.

T.E.S.S. (an acronym for Transiting Exoplanet Survey Satellite), the satellite NASA launched to search for planets outside our solar system, has been coming up with some great stuff.

Unhampered by the government shutdown, TESS (I LOVE that name) has been finding a lot of stuff.

So far, since her launch on April 18, 2018, she has racked up about 200 possible planets to look at, several of which have been confirmed by independent study.

While not finding another "Earth-like" planet yet, our girl has only been in space for less than a year.  Who knows what she may find.

xoxo a.d.

House of Stone: A Memoir of Home, Family, and a Lost Middle East - Anthony Shadid - Summary and Review of a Good Book

A short summary of House of Stone: Rebuilding a life in Lebanon.

Questions to ponder while reading House of Stone: Where is your home?
Have you ever remodeled?
My thoughts about House of Stone: An amazing journey through the past and present of Lebanon.
I can't imagine rebuilding a house in a war zone.
I think the chaos would have overwhelmed me.

Meditation 1.17.19 - A Pen and Ink Tangle

Dear Henry,

Are you ever "drawn to" actors?

Is it their character or the actor themselves that you are drawn to?

I pondered that question and I have come to the conclusion that (at least in my case) it is the character I become enamored with, not necessarily the actor - although I do acknowledge it is the actor's skill that makes the character come to life.

I realized that it was the characters, more than the actors themselves, when I thought about the actor Orlando Bloom and, despite his successful and accomplished roles in the Lord of the Rings and the Pirates of the Caribbean movies, I struggle to picture him as anyone other than Paris in the movie Troy, a character I loathed.  He played the part too well.

I quickly drew up a list of my favorite "on screen" characters (and the actors who played them) - they are in no particular order.

Jules Winfield in Pulp Fiction, played by Samuel L. JacksonJean Villeneuve in The Patriot, played by Tcheky KaryoJane Bennett…

Fat Land - Greg Critser - Summary and Review of a Good Book.

A short summary of Fat Land:  How America got fat.

Questions to ponder while reading Fat Land: How much processed food do you eat?
Has the global agricultural revolution hurt or helped our diets?
My thoughts on Fat Land: A great look at the dietary mishaps of the U.S.
There is no single smoking gun.
Check your labels, check your waistline.

Meditation 1.16.19 - A pen and ink tangle

Dear Henry,

Astronomers think they have witnessed the birth of a black hole/death of a star.

Back in June of 2018, the Haleakala Observatory in Hawaii picked up a star exploding in the Hercules Constellation.   The scientists assigned it the number AT2018COW and have continued to monitor it.

Scientists initially thought "The Cow", as it has been lovingly monikered,  was a supernova. Now, however, they are no longer sure and are starting to believe it was the birth of a new black hole.

More than 200 light-years away, this new black hole is going to be an awesome source of information for the astronomy and physics disciplines.  I am excited to hear what they learn.

xoxo a.d.

Hitler's Furies: German Women in the Nazi Killing Fields - Wendy Lower - The Summary and Review of a Good Book

A short summary of Hitler's Furies: How Nazi women kept busy during the war.

Questions to ponder while reading Hitler's Furies:
Are women just as capable of evil as men?
Could you have maintained your values during that time?
My thoughts about Hitler's Furies: It made my heart hurt.
WWII was such a horrible time.
Feminism includes acknowledging that women can also be accomplished in evil.

Meditation 1.15.19 - Pen and Ink Tangle

Dear Henry,

"Everyone" talks about the decline of U.S. agriculture and the failure of American farms and it saddens me to think that we will (and largely have) stop producing our own food.

Lately, though, I have been reading about an emerging trend that I hope goes viral.  Because there is a new set of ranchers and farmers that have emerged and it seems they are taking back and re-inventing the farms.

Women, largely the daughters of retiring farmers, have been fighting back against the dismantling of agricultural acreage for development and are encouraging other women to help them in the new farming world.  The USDA is even offering classes for new farmers and, if the press is to be believed (which I do), these new farms are becoming more holistic and, in the case of animal husbandry, more humane.

I have always harbored a secret fantasy of owning a farm, although, I admit, when I look at the work it takes to create and maintain one, I have never followed through with the ide…

Hitch-22 - Christopher Hitchens - Summary and Review of a Good Book

A short summary of Hitch-22: The autobiography of a correspondent.

Questions to ponder while reading Hitch-22: How was your education?
How do you feel about religion?
My thoughts about Hitch-22: Great story about a man who lived.
Political and religious opinions abound.
I was sad to learn that he will never write anything else.

Meditation 1.14.18 - Pen and Ink Doodle

Dear Henry,

Like other local newspapers, Maine's The Portland Press Herald, due to declining subscriptions, was being forced to cut costs.

The feature they had planned to eliminate was a book review section, which featured books that were either written by a Maine author, or whose topic is related to the state of Maine.

Stephen King protested.

I am glad he did.  Publicity can be hard to come by and authors (as well as others, such as artists and photographers* like myself) can often struggle to find the smallest bit of press and recognition.  I was truly happy that Stephen King still remembers what it was like in the beginning and is will to fight for a section that benefits the local authors.

His protest didn't solve the subscription problem, however, and, The Portland Press Herald still required those subscriptions to run the feature, so The Portland Press Herald proposed a deal (Stephen King called it blackmail but whatever): They would keep the program if he delivered the…

In The Distance - Hernan Diaz - Summary and Review of a Good Book.

A short summary of In The Distance: A Swedish hawk's tale.

Questions to ponder while reading In The Distance: Could you have gone on alone?
Do you believe every story you hear?
My thoughts on In The Distance: Hakan broke my heart.
Life is unfair and people are cruel.
I think I would have lost my mind.

Meditation 1.11.19 - Pen and Ink Tangles

Dear Henry,

While I live in a TV-free house, we do have a streaming service subscription and occasionally I will find myself intrigued in a show.

Such was the case when Fish and I were sucked into a "survivor" show.

In this production, several pairs were dropped off on an island in British Columbia and left with ten items. The winners were the pair that survived the longest without tapping out (or dying).  The prize was $500,000.

While a couple of the teams left due to injury, most left because of hunger.  I remember thinking "If the couldn't find food, why weren't they eating bugs?" I thought this because I would be eating bugs, particularly in a situation offering $500,000 (I do acknowledge that I am saying this from a warm, dry house with plenty of food, so the "reality" of the situation may be different).

I bring this up because lately, there are a plethora of bug-eating articles and it made me wonder, would/could I develop a taste for cricke…

Meditation 1.10.19 - Pen and Ink Tangles

Dear Henry,

This morning I learned that the literal translation for a stapler in South African is "paper vampire". Which, I think, is both a better description and a funnier one.

Of course, after getting this knowledge, I immediately fell into the rabbit hole of Google in my search for other literal translations.

 I made a list of my favorites.

In Sweden, you don't have a sandwich, you have a butter goose.  Coffee with milk is a miracle upside down in Israel and peanut butter is actually peanut cheese in the Netherlands.

Myanmar residents don't get married, they enter house prison and a roller coaster is a Russian Mountain in Spain.

My ultimately favorite comes from German:  One does not wear pasties to cover one's nipples, one wears them to cover their breast warts.

I could go crazy with all of these translations (unless I was in France, then I would become a goat), but I think you get the picture.

What fun literal translations have you found in your travels?


Meditation 1.9.19 - Pen and Ink Tangle

Dear Henry,

The great Emily Post advises the old railway adage of "Stop, Look, and Listen" before engaging in a topic of conversation.

This advice has become more crucial in the digital age, as most of us are now conversing with total strangers over the internet, and, because you can never be sure who is on the other side of your network connection, it pays to think a bit before you speak.

I just read of a recent example. A woman had just met a man on a dating app.  They were hitting it off and having a great conversation, at least until the subject turned to deer hunting.

Now, hunting, in and of itself, can be a volatile subject, and probably not one to bring up during the first meeting.  It is also unwise to bring up any "ethical mishaps" regarding hunting season.  Finally, be careful sending pictures over the internet to strangers, especially if the picture is of you and a deer hunted out of season.

In this case, the gentleman involved happened to be a game war…

Meditation 1.8.19 - Pen and Ink Tangles

Dear Henry,

There is a rough plan to send humans to colonize Mars around 2030.

Corporate giants are gearing up for the event and all sorts of technologies are being developed that will enable a Mars colony to survive.

However, Georgia's (the country, not the state) Space Research Agency has expanded the scope of survival to include more just food (rightly!) and has launched a project to find the perfect Martian wine grape. 

Viticulture is a big deal in Georgia and it has existed there for more than 8000 years, making Georgia one of the oldest (if not THE oldest - a fact hotly debated) wine producers in the world, so I suspect Georgian vintners are more than qualified for the task.

Early research has led the vintners to the Rkatsiteli grape as a good candidate, meaning the Mars wine would be a tart, white, wine.  I wonder what it pairs with?

xoxo a.d.

Meditation 1.7.19 - pen and ink tangles

Dear Henry,
Fish is business tripping for a few days and I have the house all to myself.
Fortunately, business travel isn't commonplace and so when it happens it is more of a treat than a hardship and turns into a couple days of lounging about and eating foods he doesn't like.
Tonight I may even go crazy and cook with onions and watch a rom-com.
xoxo a.d.

Meditation 1.6.19 - Pen and Ink Tangles

Dear Henry,

This morning, in the newspaper, there was an article about Jeanne Calment.

To refresh your memory, Jeanne Calment was a French woman who lived until she was 122 and is considered to be the oldest "documented" person to have lived.

The article wasn't about how, Jeanne Calment who, despite smoking the occasional cigarette and eating two pounds of chocolate a week made it to 122, but rather, it was an article about how she, according to a mathematician, lied about her age.

According to Mr. Nikolay Zak, and based upon (to be fair) some compelling bits of evidence. Jeanne Calment could, perhaps, have only been 105 when she passed.

I am angry about this.

I am angry that Mr. Zak (and by default Eli Rosenberg) are making an effort to debunk the wonderful story of Ms. Calment.

Do we really, as a society, need to dispunge the evidence put forth by the city of Arles, France, and other scientists? Because really? Who cares if she didn't live until 122?  The story is…

Meditation 1.5.19 - A Pen and Ink Tangle

Dear Henry,
The weather is warm today and, as the holidays are over (yes I know, it isn't official until Ephinany tomorrow) I am ready for Spring.
Never mind that it is still several weeks away.
I have been outdoors, with the grid paper, mapping the new flower beds.  
I can hardly wait until Spring.
xoxo a.d.

Meditation 1.4.19 - Pen and Ink Tangles

Dear Henry,
Every now and again I am curious about the Freudian slips within the creative flow of my doodles.
Today for example.
Instead of an intricate and complex design of subtlety muted colors, I end up with.....peas and carrots?
Maybe tomorrows will be more interesting.
xoxo a.d.

Exit West by Mohsin Hamid - Summary and Review of a Good Book

A short summary of Exit West: Stepping through the doorway of a new life.

Questions to ponder while reading Exit West: What rights should refugees have?
What can we do to make these situations more humane?
My thoughts about Exit West: The story is believable, and appalling because it is so believable.
Why, can't we (as a race) come up with better and more humane solutions for displaced people is beyond me.
Still, though, you can't just take over someone's home.

Meditation 1.3.19 - Pen and Ink Tangles

Dear Henry,

What do you look for in a hotel? Is it a nice bathtub? 

Me either, but after reading an article about New York's choice hotels and their amenities, the best hotels have a luxury bathroom.

I have always treated hotels as a place to sleep while I am exploring a new location, so a high-end bathroom hasn't been on my required amenities, although now that I have gotten a glimpse of what the good life offers, I may start searching for the marble tubs.

I have also developed a sudden urge to remodel the master bathroom...a deep granite tub certainly looks like it would be a good addition to my dream bathroom.

I'm creating a Pinterest board right now.

xoxo a.d.

American Street by Ibi Zoboi - Summary and Review of a Good Book.

A short summary of American Street: Immigration to America.

Questions to ponder while reading American Street:
Do you agree with American immigration policy?
Would you want to stay in American?
My thoughts about American Street: An in-depth look into problems facing both immigrants and Detroit.
Is this really how it is?
Can we hope for better outcomes? Better endings?

Meditation 1.2.19 - Pen and Ink Tangles

Dear Henry,

Heroes are important, don't you think?

I do.  I have often looked towards my heroes when I am at a crossroads and often think "what would XXXXX do about this?" when I am truly stumped and searching for an answer.

I think that everyone should have good, solid, heroes, fictional or otherwise - and really, this is the 21st Century, we no longer require that everyone have heroes within the same gender/ethnicity - I mean really, do I need to say this? - embrace your heroes, whoever they are.

xoxo a.d.

A Good Book to Read: Out of Egypt by Anne Rice - Summary and Review

A short summary of Out of Egypt: A short tale about a young boy named Jesus.

Questions to ponder while reading Out of Egypt: How much should young children know?
How would you feel?
My thoughts about Out of Egypt: I was pleasantly surprised by this book.  
Ms. Rice did a great job bringing to life a precocious and empathetic child.  
I can't imagine how I would feel after finding out such a secret.
  I was devastated to think that a child would ultimately have to carry that type of burden.