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The Latest Catch-Up

Celebrity Death Watch: Tony Tanner was a British actor, who played Littlechap in the film adaptation of Stop the World – I Want To Get Off. Shere Hite wrote about women’s sexuality. Ronald Bell played saxophone and wrote songs for Kool and the Gang. Toots Hibbert was the lead singer of Toots and the Maytals. Florence Howe was a feminist scholar. Sir Terence Conran was a designer, who defined modern décor from the 1970’s through the 1990’s. Bill Gates, Sr. was a lawyer who had a nerdy son. Stanley Crouch was a jazz critic. Winston Groom wrote the novel Forrest Gump. Robert W. Gore invented Gore-Tex. Terry Goodkind wrote the fantasy series, The Sword of Truty. Georgia Dobbins wrote the song “Please Mr. Postman.” Lee Kerslake was the drummer for Uriah Heep. Donald M. Kendall was the CEO of PepsiCo. Jackie Stallone was an astrologer and mother of Sylvester. Tommy DeVito sang with The Four Seasons. Cat Bordhi was a knitting designer. Gale Sayers was a football player, best remembered by people of my generation for the movie, Brian’s Song about his friendship with Brian Piccolo. Sir Harold Evans was a journalist, whose work included editing The Times and, later on, heading Random House.

Diana Rigg played Emma Peel on The Avengers. As a child, I loved to dress my Barbie doll in a black unitard like the one she wore in that role. She also performed in numerous plays, including winning a Tony for Medea.

You don’t need me to tell you who Ruth Bader Ginsburg was. I’ll note that I think her career prior to serving as a Supreme Court justice is actually more significant for her influence on the expansion of civil rights. She was a brilliant and astute lawyer, and, most importantly, knew how to work with people who disagreed with her.

Non-Celebrity Death Watch: Clayton Williamson was a storyteller, who was known for his entertaining story poems. I will miss hearing him at various story swaps on-line.

Anti-Semitic Microaggression: I’m not really thrilled about Ruth Bader Ginsburg lying in state, since that whole concept is antithetical to Jewish tradition, which calls for burial as soon as possible. But what really has me furious was that several people, who should know better, made the sign of the cross in front of her casket. That is a symbol that was used for hundreds of years as an excuse to murder Jews. It is, in my opinion, pretty much like spraying blood on her coffin. I am sure they were not thinking and were acting on autopilot, but I am sick and tired of this casual ignorant microaggression. Shame, shame, shame.

Another Two Comments on Jewish Practices re: Death: A lot of what we do has to do with the idea that everyone is equal in death. We bury the dead in simple shrouds, in plain wood coffins. This is another reason why lying in state is not really appropriate.

Also, we don’t do flowers. The proper thing to do is to donate to charity in memory of the deceased. Flowers, however, are not offensive – just not traditional.

Rosh Hashanah: Last weekend was Rosh Hashanah. I attempted to participate in some services via Zoom, but found things feeling more like performances than I wanted. I am trying yet another shul’s on-line service for Yom Kippur, which at least had their machzor (holiday prayer book) on-line.

National Book Festival: The National Book Festival was this weekend. I would normally have been down at the Convention Center volunteering at it. This year is, of course, abnormal, so the festival was virtual. Due to limited time, I could listen to only a handful of presentations.

Amy Tan talked about her new memoir. There were aspects that seem interesting (a suicidal mother, the deaths of both her father and brother from brain tumors when she was young), but her talk was rather too short to be satisfying.

Heather Cox Richardson is well known for her series of Letters from an American, which are widely reposted on facebook. In this case, she was talking about her new book, which is about how the South became culturally dominant despite losing the Civil War. Her major point was that this represented a philosophy of the few and wealthy dominating over the many poorer people.

Heben Girma is a deaf-blind woman who graduated from Harvard Law School and has become an activist for disabled people. I was intrigued by some of the adaptive technology she uses, e.g. a keyboard someone can type on that translates their typing into braille for her.

Madeleine Albright was interviewed by David Rubenstein and I found their conversation absorbing. Her stories ranged from her famous pins (which will be displayed in a new State Department museum) to funny things her grandchildren say to her experiences at Wellesley. She also talked about her current projects and her friendships with various other people, including Condoleeza Rice and Hillary Clinton. Overall, this was my favorite talk of the ones I listened to.

David Rubenstein also interviewed former Secretary of Defense Robert M. Gates. I thought he was articulate in his emphasis on soft power versus military power in foreign policy, which is an interesting position for a former SecDef to take.

KDMS Lecture: The Katherine Dexter McCormick Society is one of the groups one becomes a member of by making certain donations to MIT. They have one or more annual events. This year, the annual talk was virtual, of course. The speaker was John Durant of the MIT Museum and he talked about the new museum being built at Kendall Square. It looks like an excellent facility – far larger and brighter than the Mass Ave facility. I’m looking forward to being able to see it.

Other Stuff: Other things I’ve spent time on include book club, playing board games, storytelling (both listening to shows and participating in a story swap). Being busy is good. This entry was originally posted at Please comment there using OpenID.
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Lollapuzzola 13

Catch-up is going slowly because I am busy with pre-retirement things to do. Here is a bit of an overdue write-up from last month.

I’m not a huge fan of doing crosswords on-line, since most of the time, I have issues with the interfaces. (The NY Times is an exception, as their interface doesn’t annoy me too much.) But Lollapuzoola has long been my favorite puzzle tournament, so I couldn’t resist giving it a go. Which is why I found myself spending August 15th (i.e. a Saturday in August) hunched over my computer solving crosswords.

Bottom line is that I was right to avoid doing on-line tournaments. There were some practice puzzles and I found myself frustrated enough with the interface during those. But I soldiered through and on to the actual tournament.

Puzzle #1 was by Brooke Husic and was straightforward enough. I managed to solve it cleanly in 8:06, which was not quite as quickly as I would have liked. At the end of that puzzle, I was in 267th place, out of something like 1250 participants.

Puzzle #2, by Sid Sivakumar, had a weird grid, of 12 x 25. That’s significant because I couldn’t see the whole thing on my laptop screen. Which means that I didn’t notice a stupid typo and ended up with one error, as well as being slow (16:57). I dropped down all the way to 976th place.

That might have been okay, had I solved the rest of the puzzles cleanly. On puzzle #3 (which had a cute theme by Rachel Fabi), I accidentally hit something that resized the grid, losing way too much time figuring out how to fix that. It took me 20:26 and, with the stress of that screw up, I missed a typo and slipped even further in the standings to 984th place.

Puzzle #4 was by Joon Pahk and I am fairly sure that it wasn’t the interface that made that one difficult for me. At least the one error I made on it was something I legitimately didn’t know, especially since grasped the theme about 30 seconds after I turned the puzzle in. I solved it in 29:55 (with one error). At least enough other people had trouble that I went up to 772nd place.

I did grasp the theme of Puzzle #5 by Stella Zawistowski quickly, but still managed to make an error, while solving it in 23:46. So I ended up in 716th place, which was decidedly mediocre.

Despite doing so poorly, I did enjoy the puzzles themselves, which were, in general, interesting ones. But I finished the day with a sore back and a sore ego. And, of course, I missed the social aspect of a real tournament. (There was an opportunity for conversation on a twitch channel, but that was too much for me to keep up with.) Can this pandemic please come to an end already? This entry was originally posted at Please comment there using OpenID.
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Shoes and Strings and Sealing Wax (None of the Above)

Celebrity Death Watch: Robert Trump was the president’s brother. Ben Cross was an actor, best known for playing Harold Abrahams in Chariots of Fire. Jack Sherman played guitar with the Red Hot Chili Peppers. Fern Cunningham was a sculptor. Joe Englert was a restaurateur, who was largely responsible for the growth of H Street NE in D.C. as a nightlife destination. John H. Hager was the lieutenant governor of Virginia from 1998-2002. Allan Rich was a character actor. Lori Nelson was an actress who appeared in a number of low-budget science fiction films. Arnold Spielberg was an electrical engineer who designed the first computer-controlled point of sales cash register, though he is probably more famous as the father of Steven Spielberg. Gerald Carr was an astronaut. Joe Ruby co-created Scooby-Doo. Ronnie Kole founded the French Quarter Festival. Seymour Schwartz wrote a widely used textbook on surgery. Virginia Bossler was a musical theatre and movie actress, best known for playing Jean McLaren in Brigadoon. Ian Mitchell played bass with the Bay City Rollers. Irving Kanarek was Charles Manson’s defense lawyer. Gary Peacock was a jazz double bassist. Bruce Williamson sang with the Temptations. Kevin Dobson was an actor, best known for appearing in Kojak. Constance Weldon was the first woman to play tuba in an American orchestra. Gerald Shur developed the Witness Protection Program. Luiz Dilipe Barbosa was a choreographer who popularized Israeli folk dance in Brazil. Mel Krupin ran Duke Zeibert’s restaurant in D.C. before opening an eponymous deli.

Gail Sheehy was the author of Passages, a very influential book about aging, particularly for women. She also wrote a lot of long-form magazine pieces, notably one abut Grey Gardens, which led to a documentary about Edie Beale and her daughter and their hoarding issues.

Chadwick Boseman was an actor, who played a number of Black heroes. That includes not only Black Panther, but also Jackie Robinson and Thurgood Marshall.

Tom Seaver was a pitching ace for the New York Mets. For those of us who grew up with the team, he will always be Tom Terrific, their all-time leader in wins. There are too many accomplishments to list them all, but one that is unique is having struck out 10 consecutive batters. Reggie Jackson allegedly said that blind people came to the ballpark just to hear him pitch He was one of my favorite players when I was growing up and will be sorely missed.

Kank Kek Iew, better known as Comrade Duch, was the overseer of the Tuol Seng prison during the Khmer Rouge era. He was an evil man, responsible for torture and mass murder and the world is better off without him.

Lou Brock was an outfielder, primarily for the Saint Louis Cardinals. In addition to his batting accomplishments, his biggest claim to fame was breaking Ty Cobb;s record for stolen bases. (His record has since been surpassed by Rickey Henderson.)

What I Hate About Geni: For those who are unfamiliar with it, is one of several sites that is trying to build a world family tree. It is somewhat useful for finding relatives, but there are a number of things that annoy me about it. At the very top of the list is the long, complicated lists it shows for how someone is related to you.

So the other day, I got one of their periodic lists of DNA matches. Most of those are around the 3rd cousin level, which is probably further away because of Jewish endogamy. In a few cases, it gives me a list of how a match is related to me. This one showed someone as “second cousin once removed's wife's sister's husband's second cousin's wife's great uncle's ex-wife's great nephew.” This would be mildly amusing, but, no, DNA doesn’t transfer across marriages.

Don’t Analyze This Dream – Part 1: Bert Convy was singing the song “Convoy..” ( woke up focused on the word, “convey.”

Don’t Analyze This Dream – Part 2: I have a lot of dreams that seem to involve architecture. Or, at least, that is the part I remember. I had a dream last week that involved climbing lots of stairs in a white tower.

Code Names: We have continued playing frequently. The most amusing evening this past week was one in which one team (not mine!) hit the assassin 5 games in a row.

Rabbit Holes: Looking at real estate possibilities is always a bit of a rabbit hole. Providence is surprisingly affordable, so I need to look into it further. (I’ve been there multiple times and like it, but visiting and living somewhere are different.)

The bigger rabbit hole I fell into recently was the Try Channel on YouTube. Basically, they have videos of Irish people taste testing foods from other countries (mostly American). There are also ones involving them watching television programs or doing various things while drunk, but those are less my speed.

Retirement Preparation: I got a really great retirement gift today. My boss told me I don’t have to do our annual performance review! Just what I always wanted. This entry was originally posted at Please comment there using OpenID.
storyteller doll

Leftover from June -- the National Storytelling Conference

Resuming the catch-up, much of the first week of June was occupied with the National Storytelling Network virtual conference. I understand going virtual, but I was irritated by replacing a 4 day conference in August with a 9 day conference in June. I was even more irritated by the schedule being published only 5 days before things started – and being published largely incorrectly since they published times as Standard time vs. Daylight Savings Time. This is particularly egregious for an international conference, which should really include both local time and universal time (UTC) so that automated schedule conversions can get it right.

Anyway, because of the short notice, I was only able to go to a very small number of the events, which were at least as much festival / performance as conference. The real conference has some showcase performances and fringe performances, but is at least ¾ workshops. I really missed the fringe, which is an opportunity for greater diversity in telling, albeit often less polished. For the record, for anything that involves more than an hour or two of my time, I would like at least 6 weeks notice. Otherwise, one week is appropriate. Yes, my life is a schedule conflict.

In the end, I registered for the opening keynote by Ekansh Tambe and Elizabeth Ellis, a workshop on virtual events, and 4 performance events. I also attended the NSN member meeting and the Oracle Awards. I should also note that the registration was frustrating as there were repeated server errors when trying to pay. I did eventually get things to work but it took two days. (I had a contact to email, but she wanted to call me, without allowing me to specify a time. This does not work as I am in meetings most of the day nearly every day.)

I didn’t manage to take notes during the keynotes. I remember that Elizabeth spoke well (as always) but not any of the specifics. I was hoping to go back to listen to the recorded version, but there is another screw-up and I can’t see that recording. (More about that below.)

The workshop on virtual events had some interesting tips and a potentially useful handout. Though, to be honest, it mostly convinced me that virtual events, in addition to being unsatisfying, are more trouble than they are worth.

Summary of the membership meeting was that NSN is, again, in dire financial straits. I was also annoyed that the existence of state liaisons (which I am one of) was never even mentioned. As for the Oracle Awards, my one disappointment is that there was never a call for nominees from our regional director to state liaisons for nominees, but we were without anyone in that job for a while and our current regional director is new on the job so it probably just slipped through the cracks.

That leaves performances. I’ve been unable to watch the performance by the Oracle Awards winners yet (and, as you will see below, probably at all). The first performance I watched was the Mid-Atlantic Regional Showcase. I was already familiar with several of the tellers and I am pleased to say that the ones from groups I am involved with were the best of the evening.

I ended up watching the show of Multi-Cultural Stories from Israel after the conference – in fact, just a few nights ago. Most of the stories were Ashkenazi (i.e. Eastern European), but there was one Bedouin story and one Druze story. I was somewhat surprised there were no stories from Mizrahi or Sephardic Jews. The most powerful story was one by the son of a Shoah survivor. Overall, I thought this show flowed well, balancing styles and tones of stories.

The absolute highlight of the whole conference was a concert of Hot Stories From Boccaccio’s Decameron with Paola Balbi, Germana De Ruvo, and Davide Bardi. They told some very adult stories without crudeness or vulgar language. Davide’s guitar playing enhanced the stores and the whole show was absorbing and magical. I hope that someday I get to see them perform in person.

Everything was supposedly recorded and would be available to attendees. However, I never got the email with the link for the recordings and only realized that they’d expire September 1st when I saw a facebook post on the viewing time being extended to then. And when I logged in and went to watch, both the Oracle award winners’ concert and the keynote speech (which I had seen, but wanted to refresh my memory on) were missing from the list. I’m still trying to get that straightened out, but I don’t really expect to have time to view those.

The moral of the story is that rushing through planning for no valid reason is likely to result in significant disappointments. (Or even more disappointment since 99.99999% of the value of the conference to me is the random conversations in the hallways between workshops.) This entry was originally posted at Please comment there using OpenID.
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More Catch-Up

Random odds and ends, though I am still way behind.

Beisbol: All of the teams I care about are doing horribly. The only team with a worse record than my beloved BoSox is Pittsburgh (who I don’t really care about). The Nats, the Giants, and the Royals are all cellar dwellers and the only reason the Mets aren’t is because they play in the same division as the Nats. Even worse, the Source of All Evil in the Universe is In second in the AL East, which is, as always, a bad sign for the universe in general. Sob.

Quick Political Note of the Day: I am not watching much of the Democratic Convention, but I couldn’t resist watching the roll call. I have two questions: 1) What on earth was the woman from Iowa wearing? And 2) Does anybody actually think of calamari when they think of Rhode Island? I could see clams, but tentacles? Really? (Note: when I think of Rhode Island, I mostly think of johnnycakes and coffee milk.

Other Places to Consider Living: I should probably also look at Rhode Island (both Newport and Providence) and maybe Southern Connecticut, though the latter suffers from lack of great airport access.

Looking at Boston-area real estate (on-line) is depressing. I am spoiled where I am now, with a lot of space (1100 square feet) and full size washer and dryer in my unit, as well as various yuppie amenities in my condo complex (aside from the expected like gym, pool, and sauna, there is, for example, a golf simulator). It looks like prices in, say, Somerville, would beat least half again as much as what I would be likely to get for my condo, with taxes about double what they are here and none of those amenities, not that I really make much use of them. To be fair, HOA fees are about half what mine are now. But still …

And, no, I don’t know why I am even looking since I have no intention of moving for at least 3 years.

10 Rules For Pairing Potato Chips: I forgot to write about this virtual play I saw a douple of weeks ago. The premise was interesting enough. The world expert on crispology, the art of what potato chips to serve with any given main course, has to avert a diplomatic crisis when a White House menu has both potato chips and French fries on the menu to accompany hamburgers. An agent of a rival country is opposing her, as is another expert on potato chip pairing. She is assisted by her young protégé. This should have been funny, but it didn’t quite work for me.

Code Names: We’ve continued to play Code Names a couple of times a week. I’ve noticed that when we are teaming up, we most often do it along gender lines.

Wednesday night, I thought I had given a rather clever clue, by using “Frenchman” to clue the words “cheese” and “monkey.” Alas, my teammate had never heard the phrase “cheese-eating surrender monkey,” so it didn’t work.

Film Talk: I went to a n on-line talk with Eric Anjou, director of Deli Man and other Jewish-themed movies, including a couple of documentaries about Jewish music, last night. He spoke well, though he was wrong about several things. For example, he claimed that Katz’s is the only Jewish deli left in Manhattan. Er, no, there’s Ben’s, Pastrami Queen (which is opening a branch at the old Fine and Shapiro’s), and, my favorite, 2nd Avenue Deli, as well as others I don’t generally go to. He also said that Kenny and Zuke’s in Portland is gone, which is not true. This entry was originally posted at Please comment there using OpenID.
storyteller doll

Catch-up Part 1

Celebrity Death Watch: Charles Evers was the mayor of Fayette, Mississippi and brother of Medgar. Joan Feynman was an astrophysicist who did a lot of work re: space weather, including auroras. Bo Black directed Summerfest, a major music festival in Milwaukee. Rene Carpenter was the ex-wife of astronaut Scott Carpenter who became a columnist and television personality. Zheng Shouren was the chief designer of the Three Rivers Dam. Peter Green founded Fleetwood Mac and wrote songs, including “Black Magic Woman.” John Saxon appeared in a number of Westerns and horror movies. Bill English was a co-developer of the computer mouse. Bent Fabric wrote the song “Alley Cat,” which we used to dance to when I was a child. Irene Pollin co-owned the Washington Capitals and the Washington Wizards. Reese Sconfeld was the president of CNN in the early 1980’s and founded the Food Network. Andre Ptaszynski was a British theatre producer. Lou Schwechheimer was an executive for the Pawtucket Red Sox. Balla Sidibe founded Orchestra Baobab, an influential Senegalese band. Karen Berg co-founded the Kabbalah Centre. Herman Cain was the CEO of Godfather’s Pizza and a tea party politician. Sir Alan Parker was an English film director, known for such movies as Midnight Express. Ruth Weiss was a beat poet.

Wilford Brimley was a character actor, best known as the spokesman for Quaker Oats. Leon Fleisher was a pianist, best known for playing one-handed for many years, due to a neurological injury. Michael Peter Smith wrote the song “The Dutchman,” best known for Steve Goodman’s cover of it. Doris Buffett was a philanthropist (and the sister of Warren). Frances Allen was the first woman to become an IBM Fellow and to win the Turing Award. Elmer Petersen sculpted the World’s Largest Buffalo. Pete Hamill was a journalist, who wrote numerous pieces about New York City. Horace Clark played for The Source of All Evil in the Universe. James “Kamala” Harris was a wrestler. Carroll Hardy was the only person ever to pinch hit for Ted Williams. Trini Lopez was a singer, best known for his performances of “If I Had a Hammer” and “Lemon Tree.” Russell Kirsch was a developer of the scanner. Belle du Berry was the lead singer of Paris Combo. James R. Thompson was the longest serving governor of Illinois. Howell Binkley was a Tony-winning lighting designer. Robert Trump was the younger brother of His Orangeness. Claire Shulman was the first woman to serve as Queens borough president. Ben Cross was an actor, best known for playing Harold Abrahams in the movie Chariots of Fire. Marvin Creamer was the first person to sail around the world without aid from navigational instruments.

Regis Philbin was a talk show host and game show host. He held the record for most hours on U.S. television.

Olivia de Haviland was an actress, most famous for playing Melanie in Gone With the Wind. She earned me 17 ghoul pool points.

John McNamara managed the Red Sox from 1985 through 1988. That includes 1986, when he made a few dubious decisions in the World Series, resulting in Bill Buckner’s fielding error in Game 6 and the disaster of Calvin Schiraldi ‘s relief pitching in Game 7.

Brent Carver was a musical theatre actor. He originated the role of Leo Frank in Parade and won a Tony for his performance as Molina in The Kiss of the Spider Woman.

Eric Bentley was a theatre critic. He was primarily an advocate for European plays and his reviews of, say, Tennessee Williams and Arthur Miller, were generally negative. He earned me 16 ghoul pool points.

Brent Scowcroft was the National Security Advisor under Presidents Ford and Bush 43. While I may not have agreed with his actual recommendations, I thought he was well-qualified and thoughtful. Comparisons to recent incumbents in the position are too depressing to write about.

Adin Steinsaltz translated the Talmud into modern Hebrew and English. His edition is almost certainly the most widely used one and is widely praised for its accessibility.

Quick Political Note: She wasn’t my first choice, but I am comfortable with Kamala Harris as Biden’s running mate.

Placeholders: Among the things I still need to write about are the storytelling conference I went to in early June and the genealogy conference I went to last week. Also, Saturday was Lollapuzzoola , my favorite crossword tournament.

Virtual Visit to Armenia: I have been to Armenia (back in 2003). Last night, my alumni association had an on-line event with the Armenian ambassador. It would have been nicer to have been able to actually go to the embassy and enjoy Armenian food and wine (and, especially, cognac). But it was still a good event. He started with three things people should know about Armenia. Those were unsurprisingly: 1) Christianity, 2) Mount Ararat, and 3) the Velvet Revolution. He talked a lot about wine, economic improvements, and relations with other countries. Over all, he was a good speaker and it was worth zooming into. This entry was originally posted at Please comment there using OpenID.
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Appointments and Errands

I had an overdue dental appointment on Wednesday. Technically, not overdue, since it had been scheduled 6 months ago, but I normally alternate between my general dentist and my periodontist and I’d missed the cleaning at my general dentist’s in April when everything was shut down. The protocols were fairly strict – mask until actually in the chair; hand sanitizer, symptom checklist, pulse oximeter, and temperature check before being allowed to go into the inner sanctum. This was mostly a routine cleaning but I also had to schedule removal of a broken splint on a front tooth. At any rate, it’s done with.

I took my car in for service on Thursday morning. This was, perhaps, less urgent, but it is coming up on a year since I bought Twain and, despite driving so little, I like to keep up on general maintenance. At any rate, it amounted to an oil change and replacing wiper blades (and doing an overdue state inspection, so I now have an up to date sticker). I was not very impressed with the COVID protocols there, however, as the seats in the waiting room could have been further apart and some of the staff were wearing their masks below the nose.

I took advantage of being in Manassas to stop by McKay’s used books, for the first time in well over a year. I am making more of a point of not building up a balance of trade credit after Hole in the Wall Books in Falls Church closed last year, leaving me with roughly $30 worth of unused credit. (Their system was annoying to begin with, since they only let you use credit for half the price of a book and some books were cash only. But they had a particularly good selection of genre fiction, i.e. mysteries and, especially, science fiction. By the way, they closed mostly because the owners were in their 70’s.) Anyway, McKay’s took 18 of the 33 books I’d brought in to trade. I came home with only 5 books in exchange and still have about $9 in credit. I have plenty more books to get rid of, but I need to find time to record them in my tracking system. The other bookstore I trade at is not accepting books now. And The Book Thing of Baltimore, where I used to donate the books the stores I frequent didn’t take, is completely closed. Someday, I should try Book Bank in Alexandria, but they are not taking books in yet. And, while there are several stores in the District, driving and parking in D.C. is too stressful for me. I will probably just drop a few things in some nearby Little Free Libraries.
storyteller doll

Three Things

Three things for now:

  1. I am really frustrated with the sleep issues I’ve been having. I fall asleep just fine, but wake up 4 or 5 hours later to pee and then can’t get back to sleep. Usually, I give up after at least a half hour and get up and futz around on-line. I may get another hour or two of sleep later on in the night, but I’m definitely not getting quite as much sleep as I need.

    Oddly, heavy rain seems to help me sleep. What definitely does not help is waking up from a weird and violent dream like the one I had last night that involved hiding from a guy with an uzi and several biological weapons.

  2. I really enjoy being able to bring together people who can help each other. I’ve had two opportunities to do this in the past couple of weeks and both made me happy.

  3. I am still enjoying what I refer to as cooking for the end of the world. This week’s grocery shopping was at Wegman’s and they had kosher Italian sausage, which led me to buy peppers as well. When I got home, I had a quick inspiration and found a recipe for Cajun jambalaya, which apparently differs from Creole jambalaya in not containing celery or tomatoes. I made it last night, which also used up the last of the chicken I’d had in the freezer and it was really delicious.

storyteller doll

The Past Week or So

I am still having trouble with executive function. That is, there are lots of things I should be doing, but it’s hard to motivate myself to do them. Today, I did manage to set up an account I need at work (a temporary thing for a specific project) and I made an appointment to get my car serviced next week, so I feel somewhat productive.

I have been fairly busy with entertainment of various sorts, however. The Sunday before last was a story swap with Community Storytellers, the Los Angeles group that introduced me to storytelling.

Tuesday night was a Profs and Pints lecture by Allen Pietrobon on “The Truth Beyond White Picket Fences.” This is the third of his talks I’ve been to and he is always engaging, informative and entertaining. He talked about the post-World War II housing shortage and how that led to the development of suburbia, with its environmental impacts and explicit racism. My home town was a fishing village turned suburb, so this had some personal resonance for me. We were always aware that Mr. Garrett, who had developed our neighborhood (if not other parts of town) had what was, by far, the nicest house in the area. (We always made a particular point of hitting up his house when trick or treating, for example.) I don’t think there were explicit racist covenants there, though there were in many other places. The really chilling story involved the Pennsylvania Levittown, which harassed a black family for 4 years before they gave up and moved away. There were perfectly nice looking women interviewed by a reporter about how they wouldn’t have bought their houses if there weren’t racial covenants. There was a little discussion at the end about the trend now for younger people to want to live in cities and the uncertainty about whether that will continue with the pandemic. Overall, a very interesting talk. (The recorded talk is available on line if you are interested.)

Wednesday night, I played board games – Code Names and Wise and Otherwise.

Thursday night was an on-line musical theatre trivia game run by York Theatre, which is a theatre in New York that I like a great deal. I mostly go to their Musicals in Mufti, which are concert versions of (generally) obscure old musicals. There were four rounds with 8 questions each. I had a perfect score in the first two rounds, but the last two had more questions I needed to guess on, so I didn’t win any of the prizes. It was still fun.

Friday night saw me listening to a program of Broadway musical performances by Upper Room Theatre Ministry. It was reasonably entertaining, but there was nothing really surprising. Before and after that, I listened to bits and pieces of the Lowell Folk Festival (which went on all weekend).

I spent the weekend doing some household odds and ends, including grocery shopping. Sunday night was a Chavurah meeting, which included some rather bizarre political discussion. Er, no, Biden is not a puppet of “those three girls.” And, no, it is not unreasonable for vaccine manufacturers to get paid for their products. To be fair, this was pretty much on the part of one person and other people pushed back.

Which brings us back to doe, er board games. We had a quick round of trivial pursuit and spend the rest of the time playing Fibbage.