Monthly Archives: December 2013

2013 in review

The stats helper monkeys prepared a 2013 annual report for this blog.

Here’s an excerpt:

The concert hall at the Sydney Opera House holds 2,700 people. This blog was viewed about 12,000 times in 2013. If it were a concert at Sydney Opera House, it would take about 4 sold-out performances for that many people to see it.

Click here to see the complete report.

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old photos

phot on a cranehooverSennatt girls and carteddy rooseveltFDRcoal minerminer 1903


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4 more old baseball cards

B card 1B card 2 B card 3 B card 4

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a few more lincolns

Lincoln Memorial statue by Daniel Chester French lincoln painting lincoln head and hands lincoln 2 lincolnlincoln hotel


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outages and optimism

xmas sant and reindeer flying“Twas the night before Christmas, and all through the house ,

not a Facebook was stirring , with or without a mouse ……….

…………or something like that . Suddenly Facebook , AOL , WordPress , and a couple of other sites Ada visits were not working . I knew that it must be the server , that our equipment was good .

I know almost nothing about internet technology . But , after several hours of past conversations with India , and one or two with the Philipines , I know a little bit . I know enough to  ” power down ” and then to ” power up ” , as a start .  I don’t turn things off and then turn them on again these days . Instead ,  I power down .

I used to talk to the computer guy at work when I had  computer problems . Well , that is , when I had  concerns . A colleague of mine used to say , ” There are no problems here ; only concerns . “  Nine times out of ten , maybe ten times out of ten , the computer guy , said to be a tech whiz , said to be a computer genius ,  would tell me “Turn it off and turn it on . “

Turn it off and turn it on ? Are you kidding ? That’s the extent of his great computer knowledge ?  , I used to wonder . Turns out , now that I know a little bit more  about it , his frustratingly inane-seeming  advice that used to make me question his sanity  actually  held some essence of tech wisdom .  Maybe he should have told me to ” power down ” , though . I may have felt a little better , more  confident in his great technical genius , more optimistic as I turned my laptop off and waited a couple of minutes so the invisible internet armies could gather , could stealthily  marshal their magical forces to once again breath life into the now -useless  hunk of metal and plastic that sat quietly  on my desk waiting with me for the magic to happen .dancers old

A note about human capacity for optimism:

I walked over to Ralphs Market on Christmas morning to buy a bag of ice .  Ralphs was closed . There was not even one car in the huge parking lot . Not one delivery truck . As I got close enough to realize that the supermarket was closed , which was obvious from  about a half-block away , I saw a  small car with two people drive into the Ralphs parking area . They found a good spot near mid-lot and parked . They  de-car-ed . De-vehicled ?  Okay , how about  de-automobiled ?  The two of them de-autoed and walked toward the store. The entire place was dark .  Wouldn’t you think that one or the other of them would have picked up a couple of hints that the place was shut down for Christmas ?   One of them then tried the door , still not giving up ! It wouldn’t open .

Optimism is a good thing , but I suppose it’s on a continuum with brain-frozenness  . Maybe it’s a fine line, there’s a slippery slope ,  somewhere along that continuum when an otherwise intelligent , functioning person could slide from one condition to the other .

” Only those who attempt the absurd can achieve the impossible .”   ———Albert Einsteindancer old

One of my nephews was over on Christmas and Ada asked him to look at her laptop . Maybe he could fix the problem . He was sure that he could and so he got to work on the problem . Sorry , he got to work on the CONCERN .  But , after he worked through a checklist of possible problems ,  he gave up . 

It’s the server ,  I said again .  The server —-as if I know what a server is . I visualize something along the lines of the Wizard of Oz  man- behind- the- curtain , with a bank of computer hard-drive boxes lined up on shelves . But my nephew tried .  He had begun the task confidently , optimistically . But ,  I knew that he wouldn’t be able to fix it . I’ve talked at length  to gentlemen in India about such matters   and  so I know a bit about it .

Later on the same day , a friend of ours wanted to try her hand with the problem . Her optimism was almost visibly bubbling up . She monkeyed with the modem , fooled with the laptop , checked in on her smart phone , I think , too . She was filled with self-confidence , armed with computer know-how , staunchly  determined . She disappeared into our small study . I found her sitting on the floor in there  , now with two lap-tops , hitting keys  as if triangulating them with the blinking lights of the modem , going through a mental struggle , bound and determined to overcome it .  It’s the server , I said again , but she wasn’t giving up .

“It must be your settings on Facebook , ”  she suggested to me . ” Did you change any settings recently ?  You’ll have to reset it . “But I hadn’t . ” Maybe get rid of cookies . ” I insisted that she come out and re-take her chair at the table . We were in the middle of Christmas dinner , after all .  She did so reluctantly  .   She again joined us there  , where the  cookies around were gingerbread men , and snickerdoodles , and had nothing to do with computers .

Ada asked me later to call our internet provider to report the problem . I did . A pre-recorded message told me that there had been ” an outage ” and that service would be restored by 10:00 p.m.    Nothing , specifically , was said about a server . I think , to tell you the truth , that the server , simply , had too much eggnog on Xmas eve , bored , stuck in there alone along with his computers , and nodded off for awhile . He , no doubt ,  unexpectedly powered down to take a snooze . It happens . I know a little bit about these things . English bottle olde


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Have a good Christmas

xmas mary and josephNativity xmas candlesxmas JOYSanta Claus santa 1946 xmas greeting wish em snowmen christmas tree us capitol 1946 christmas tree farm christmas doggie 2 santa 1946
xmas reindeer lit
christmas old man greeting


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Christmas is for giving…………..

Christmas poster corpus christi 010This is an old Christmas story going back to when  I was in first grade . Last century stuff , ancient history . But it came to mind again today , and so here goes another post . That’s one of the nice things about having a meandering blog . I can put anything in here with no need to hold true to some particular topic . I can wander .  So , here goes :

My elementary school , I think , had a Christmas charity drive every year . It did while I was in first grade , at least . I attended a Catholic school . Sister Carmel Mary was my teacher . My friend Joe asked a couple of weeks ago if I went to  ” elementary” school or “grade” school . I was very sure at the time of my answer to Joe . No hesitation or shred of doubt crossed my mind then  . Now I momentarily don’t know if we called it the one or the other . I remember the first grade , though , and Sister Carmel Mary . She was , as my mother would have said of decent people , “one of the good ones”  .

Anyway , every kid in our school had to make a poster for this Christmas charity drive . Or , was it a Christmas fair ? CHRISTMAS IS FOR GIVING , SO WE’RE GIVING A……………..   I will need to dig the poster out of the garage . It’s sitting somewhere in the four-drawer file cabinet . My mother had saved it . I laminated it several years ago . CHRISTMAS IS FOR GIVING , SO WE’RE GIVING A ……………I should remember  the finish . I should . I should remember how I answered Joe , too . But , temporarily , I don’t . [ Never fear ; we’ll check the evidence ] I’ve been known to  forget my own phone number , too .  Nobody’s perfect .Christmas poster corpus christi 008

I procrastinated on the poster assignment . The due date kind of snuck up on me  . I had no ideas for a poster .  I wasn’t very creative . I wasn’t much of an artist .  I’d be out of luck if I dared show up to Sister Carmel Mary’s  class without a  Christmas poster . Desperation time came and still I  had no poster , and none in progress , and no ideas .

My older sister , Pat,  stepped in . I think that Pat was in eighth grade at the time . She was artistic and creative and she volunteered to do a poster for me .  It had a Christmas tree decorated with wrapped presents [ We’ll check the evidence to verify ] .  The words  there were : CHRISTMAS IS FOR GIVING , SO WE’RE GIVING …………Christmas poster corpus christi 007

My name went onto the poster . It was Pat’s work , of course , though .  I turned it in as mine . That , as it turned out , wasn’t a good idea .

Oh , did I mention that there was a school-wide poster contest ?  Oh  yeah .  Guess what happened ?  I’ll give you a couple of moments to mull it over .

Oh , did I mention that  the winning poster would be silk-screened by a local artist , published in the local paper , and a copy placed in the front windows of all the little businesses around town ?  Oh yeah .

So , there I was , my short , stupid little first grade self standing next to Sister Carmel Mary having my photo taken by a reporter from the local paper .  “My” poster won . That was devastatingly embarrassing  .  I should have come clean , confessed , spilled the beans . Honestly , honesty  is the best policy , after all . But , that ship had already sailed as I attempted to force a  smile for the photographer  .  I just helplessly closed my tiny six- year old’s work-in-progress conscience and rode the sunami wave of shame and humiliation .

For weeks afterward , as I walked past those posters in the store windows ,  my annoying guardian angel would continually  squeal in my ear : That’s not your poster , Danny . You know that , right ? You’re an imposter . You know that , right ?   I was imprisoned within the unfamiliar walls of an unfortunate  set of circumstances , but what could I do ?  An adult world had invaded my close and comfortable child  space and turned my helpless small self  suddenly ,  incredibly , into an imposter- monster .Dan with sisters in1950s

Here I sit writing about this all these years later . I somehow survived the bottomless depths of guilt over the incident . I survived the misguided praise that I don’t , to be honest , remember , but that I suppose  that I  got . I survived the outrage , as I remember it , from my sister who had been the creator of the winning poster , but who had been denied credit for it  . I was the center of attention , holding up her work ,  having my name on it , and having my picture with her poster placed all over our little town .  Ouch .

I  got over the trauma of it , though ,  eventually ; but I never forgot it .   I forget  a lot of things , important things sometimes , but some things won’t ever be forgotten . Funny how that works .

……………CARNIVAL . CHRISTMAS IS FOR GIVING SO WE’RE GIVING A CARNIVAL .  O.K. , the missing word is CARNIVAL . It was right on the tip of my tongue . Please review the evidence shown below . Apparently , I was the one who  scrawled the ghost-written words onto the paper . I had forgotten that .  And there you have it .Christmas poster corpus christi 009

Christmas poster corpus christi 003

Christmas poster corpus christi 005xmas elf


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