Archive for December, 2008

History repeats itself…

Sunday, December 28th, 2008

I am intrigued by history. And as anyone who is intrigued by history knows, we can learn a lot from the generations before us. We can see distinct correlations between times long ago and today. Since I am currently reading as much history on all the Presidents of the United States I can get my hands on… I am finding other Presidents have faced similar challenges Barack Obama must face in the coming years. Tonight, I re-read FDR’s inaugural speech and thought it worth sharing. It seems much of it is as relevant today as it was back then. Let’s learn from history, shall we?

Here, let me share it with you…

[begin]

I am certain that my fellow Americans expect that on my induction into the Presidency I will address them with a candor and a decision which the present situation of our people impel. This is preeminently the time to speak the truth, the whole truth, frankly and boldly. Nor need we shrink from honestly facing conditions in our country today. This great Nation will endure as it has endured, will revive and will prosper. So, first of all, let me assert my firm belief that the only thing we have to fear is fear itself—nameless, unreasoning, unjustified terror which paralyzes needed efforts to convert retreat into advance. In every dark hour of our national life a leadership of frankness and vigor has met with that understanding and support of the people themselves which is essential to victory. I am convinced that you will again give that support to leadership in these critical days.

In such a spirit on my part and on yours we face our common difficulties. They concern, thank God, only material things. Values have shrunken to fantastic levels; taxes have risen; our ability to pay has fallen; government of all kinds is faced by serious curtailment of income; the means of exchange are frozen in the currents of trade; the withered leaves of industrial enterprise lie on every side; farmers find no markets for their produce; the savings of many years in thousands of families are gone.
(more…)

The monkey on elmo’s back…

Saturday, December 27th, 2008

And so it goes, and so it goes… =) I am 34 now. Though, I do not feel any different than yesterday or the day before. But I like happy birthdays, mine and other people’s. Fun for everyone. I like to celebrate life and people, including myself. =) As always, my mind is a scattered reflection of many things. I have thought about Cuba, baskets, puffins, elmo, socks, friends, food, snow…crows… and a plethora of things in between. I am fortunate to have friends who are thoughtful and I know I am loved. For this, I am profoundly grateful and humbled.

Thank you.

By the way, my birthday was the 18th…not today or yesterday. I just never finished this post. It is incomplete but so am I…

Snow way out…

Monday, December 22nd, 2008

We are snowed in. We have had snowfall for days… and an ice storm last night. This leaves an interesting imprint in its wake, packed snow…ice sheet and then more snow. This makes making an igloo difficult and driving impossible and heating expensive. It also makes it impossible to get iced tea with lemonade and chocolate. And now I am acutely aware I am an addict. I am addicted to caffeine. I did not realize to what extent until I got snowed in. Now I am searching for people to be angry at for my lack of caffeinated goods and the slightly-out-of-control feeling rising inside brings it to the forefront of my conscious. I am a caffeine addict. Maybe for my News Year resolution I should give up caffeine.

However, at this moment…that sounds like the worst idea on earth. We will see…

It looks like, whether we want it or not, we are going to have a white Christmas. I feel relieved I did not wait till the last minute to send things out or to get things. We celebrated the 12 days of winter in lieu of Christmas day. Our last day was today and it went well. =) Now, no matter the weather, I can play my new game, 1701 A.D. Gold, for the holiday. Fun for me.

Here are some random snow shots of my powdery prison for you to enjoy.

Company of Liars

Monday, December 22nd, 2008

I felt like I should share the books I have been enjoying. And so, I will. I just finished reading Company of Liars by Karen Maitland. This is a historically relevant fiction spin-off of the Canterbury Tales. It is creative and engaging. The characters have believable strengths and flaws, both endearing and annoying.

Set in England, circa the 1400’s, a story of nine wayward misfits who come together by chance attempting to escape their pasts, as well as the Black plague. There is Camelot, the one-eyed elderly man selling hope in relics; Rodrigo, the passionate musical performer, and his promising, yet, troubled student, Jofre; Zophiel, the narcissistic magician; naive Adela, who is pregnant and should not be on the open road, and Osmond, her serious but devoted husband; Cygnus, the one-winged man accused of a heinous murder; Pleasance, the healer; and the eerily strange, devious albino child she has unofficially adopted, Narigorm.

Their journey is arduous and wet. It hasn’t stopped raining for months. Imagine traveling by foot or by wagon and horse on dirt roads, through forests and swamps, with constant rain! EGADS! That would be horrible.

The author does justice to the time period, researching interesting facts to make the story more believable. In a dark time this lost and confused, wayward band find protection, comfort and often suspicion in one another and in their beliefs in the supernatural, spells, relics, charms and folklore of the time.

But it isn’t just the Black Plague these nine must avoid along their way to an unspecified destination. They have to avoid supernatural predators, everyday hassles, angry mobs, and other dangers presented in the medieval times. They have nothing but one another and their limited shared resources. But can they really trust each other? They do not actually know each other and most of them know the others have lied about something or are running from something in their pasts, but what? And how will this affect them?

Where will they end up? How will they be betrayed? Will they survive? (Read the book to find out!)

An interesting side-theme in this book is the way the story demonstrates the religious journey for the side-characters, the villagers these nine pass in traveling. The plague and death must have taken its toll on the religious beliefs of people during this time. Was this the catalyst for the Enlightenment? The book tells how the people turned to God and the Church, which they were taught to do since birth. Then as death smothers all around them, they first try to cling to their religion and their priests, who often take advantage of them. Soon, the Church and the priests abandon them altogether to perish. Alone, they begin to question their beliefs. This is interesting to me, historically speaking. Don’t worry, this book is not religious. This was just a back burner theme I picked up on and found intriguing.

This book provided a engaging tale and motivated me to research more about that time period. Overall, I am extremely pleased with the read. This is the first book I have read by this author, I will be looking for more.

I definitely recommend this book to anyone who likes a good story, strong characters or anyone who has an interest in history (or historical fiction), particularly the medieval times. 

Vandalism is not always bad…

Thursday, December 18th, 2008

I went to my bathroom and discovered I had been vandalized… birthday vandalism… fun stuff! We have a tradition of such sweet vandalism in this house… on everyone’s birthday there are little reminders of how happy we are they were born. I think they like me. =)

What in the Sam Hill?

Thursday, December 18th, 2008

I love words and phrases. I am always curious about the etymology of them, their origins. I look them up in my etymology or origin books or online. I am always finding clever ways to not swear, like “what in the Helinski?” or “What in the Sam Hill?” It is fun to create new ways to not swear…clever ways. Of course, I did not think up “What in the Sam Hill”. It has been around for quite awhile.

I wanted to know what the origin of this phrase was so I looked it up and the following explanation is what I learned about its origin.

Sam Hill was always running for political office but since no one really knew who he was the phrase was born, “Who in the Sam Hill?” Apparently, there is little evidence he was ever around aside from his infamous perpetual campaigning.

The more interesting part for me (because I am a location narcissist) is that apparently, Seattle journalists frequently used this phrase in the turn of the century. =) The first recorded use of this phrase in print was in 1839 in Seattle newspapers referring to railroad tycoon, Jim Hill. The story is as follows:

Jim Hill, the legendary ’empire builder,’ whose railroads, including the Great Northern, remained his last monument, was a man given to notable rages when anyone dared to oppose one of his grandiose schemes. So frequent were these tirades, according to Roessner, that the papers carried as a standing head: ‘Jim Hill is as mad as Sam Hill.”1

  1. “Morris Dictionary of Word and Phrase Origins” by William and Mary Morris (HarperCollins, New York, 1977, 1988). []

CEO’s are overcompensated

Sunday, December 14th, 2008

I think Hasbro and Mattel should build more factories in the U.S. and pay a proper living wage to their employees. They can cut their CEO’s salary — sheesh! That guy makes over 5.2 billion dollars after all his “extras”. Even without his extras (bonuses, stocks etc.), he makes $800,000. I hardly think he does that much work. I am not a socialist but I do believe the cut throat capitalism we are practising right now is not work, obviously. Look, Brian Goldern, if you would give up some of your excessive pay, open some American factories and pay some American workers…but not necessarily close all the Chinese factories…then this would create jobs and boost the economy. When workers have jobs, they buy crap, your crap even. So, stop being greedy and do what it is right. Are Chinese people buying toys with their paychecks? I don’t think so. The majority of the toys on our shelves (9 out of 10) are made in China. So, the Chinese are underpaid. Certainly…this saves you a few duckets than you gladly pocket. However, what do they do with the rest of their paycheck? Pay their bills IN CHINA, shop IN CHINA, buy food IN CHINA, pay retailers IN CHINA. So, it is helping their economy and ours is suffering. Now, we are heading quickly into a depression. And we are not buying, not even the cheap lead-coated crap from China. So, you lose too. How about some real corporate social responsibility. When a society is thriving, it helps you too. Get it?

I reaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaalllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllyyyyyyyyyyyyyyy think for the next 4 years we should have mandatory soft capitalism. If you gauge our eyes out with prices which will line your pockets, you pay exorbitant taxes. The more you charge, the more you pay, exponentially. If you are responsible and charge what you need to cover your costs and get some profit, then you are rewarded with tax breaks. See how simple this would be? No one needs to be making $800,000 a year, let alone $5.2 million. Gah!

When will one of these companies start making the right decisions, decisions that benefit everyone? We will never get out of a depression unless we fix the problems that caused it: deregulation, corporate greed with no restraints, no employee protection, price gauging, and job loss. We need to keep jobs in our country and in other countries, we could do this if we were more savvy than greedy.

Name this tune…

Monday, December 8th, 2008

I have the guts of a music box and I love the song it plays but can’t name it… can you?  Please!!!??!?!

I recorded it with my phone (as best as I could)…can you help me name this tune? Click here to listen to it.