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miriam's ideas

Updated: 2017-11-21T01:01:00.181-05:00


Not good enough for the New York Times


A relative has kindly given me a subscription to the Sunday New York Times.  I enjoyed it for a while, then I didn't.

  Why?  Looking at the advertisements--expensive new New York apartments, jewelry, fashion--I realize that I am not a member of the demographic being sought by the New York Times.  I don't have enough money to buy any of the stuff they are selling.  So my readership is not valuable to the newspaper.  Also, I don't agree with the editorial policies of the paper. Only people who can buy expensive apartments overlooking the Hudson are in sympathy with these policies.  They don't fly with paupers like me.

  I also don't like to see President Trump brought into every issue discussed.  No issue can be mentioned without a disdainful mention of Trump being dragged in needlessly.  Just to show that the author of the piece exhibits and is shown to exhibit the proper disdain for Trump and the Americans who voted him into office.

  Endless publicity is given to Congressmen who draw up articles of impeachment of Trump.  The fact that these are unlikely to succeed and are not intended to go anywhere is not mentioned.  They are simply instances of cheap politicians showing off.  Trump is as likely to be impeached as I am to be named Miss America in 2018.

Ulysses wins another one


That's Ulysses S Grant, not the Ulysses of Homer.  He won the war with me because the book by Ron Chernow  is just to heavy for me to hold.  I will have to get the Audible version from Amazon.  I already know how it ends, but I have tremendous admiration for Grant and want to know more about him.

  Why can't they publish books in two volumes any more?  It worked for Dickens.  It worked for Trollope.It would work for me, too.  Even three volumes would be fine.

  Only don't make a musical out of this one.  Grant was not a music lover.  He is rumored to have said that he only recognized  two tunes:  "One was Yankee Doodle, and the other wasn't."

What's with this Russia thing? And Mueller, and other related bafflling topics


I have never understood politics--not since the Watergate break-in.  What was the brlght idea of breaking in to Dem headquarters?  The Republicans were a shoo-in to win anyway.  They actually won about 45 states, and would have won more if there had been  57 as  Obama seemed to believe. 

  So I can't quite understand what the Mueller investigation is about.  Wasn't it about Russia influencing the 2016 election? .  It's like you call an exterminator to get rid of the ants and he shows up and confiscates your car.  Is Mueller crazy?  Or is everybody in Washington crazy?

  Then there's the problem, greatly exaggerated, of delicate individuals getting sick or resisting Trump's election.   All they are doing is trying to undermine public confidence in  the election system which has served us pretty well for 200 years.  They should all go stand in a corner and repeat "res ipsa loquitor" over and over until they get it, which will probably take three and a half to seven years.  Or you can give them coloring books  Lots and lots of coloring books.  And don't forget the crayons.

  Meanwhile, perhaps we could dig up a few politicians under the age of  eighty to run for office.  An ability to walk up (or down) stairs unassisted would be a nice quality in a person running for office.  It would also be nice if they stayed sober a good part of the time. 

New biography of Ulysses Grant


I actually ponied up $24--a record for me-- for this new book by Ron Chernow and temporarily sidelined John Quincy Adams.  Grant is even heavier than JQ was, but he's always been a favorite of mine.  The book leaves a lot to be desired, physically.  The typeface is small and fiddly, and has a grey texture, not quite black but off-black.  The margins are too small, and so is the type.

  Whatever happened to books being published in two volumes?

 Let me give a shout out for the Library of America editions.   They are printed on thin but very good paper, with legible type, and are a pleasure to read.  I read Grant's autobiography in a Llbrary of America edition and did not get a hernia from lifting it.

  About that $24:  every once in a while I buy something at the local Barnes and Noble, in the desperate hope that they will not go out of business.  Perhaps if they tried publishing books in two or three volumes?  On nice preservation paper, with legible type?

I feel slighted


I've never been sexually harassed.  Oh, I've been harassed plenty on the job,  not because I am a woman, but because most local politicians are scum of the earth. I only know about New Jersey, but my husband informed me the New York variety  were the same, or even worse.  It really makes you wonder about democracy.  Could these pinheads be what the founders envisioned?  Did John Quincy Adams stay up nights to set our nation on the right course so these guys could play grab-ass-- or worse?

  When one woman complained about her butt being felt up by an ancient George H W Bush, I started to feel that I'm lacking on the sexual harassment front.  Even the choir director of a local church, who was known far and wide as a sexual harasser, left me alone.

  Am I missing something?  or have I just lived too long to be part of this nationwide trend?

  I dragged John Quincy Adams into this conversation because I am reading a biography of him, page by agonizing page.  It's interesting, all right, but the book is so heavy I have to read it sitting up or it falls out of my hands.  I'm thinking of bequeathing it to my heirs.  (Note to heirs:  you can start on page 307, if you want to skip his formative years.)

Met opera broadcasts


I'm very grateful to the Metropolitan Opera for these live broadcasts, since I could never afford a ticket to actual performances at Lincoln Center.

  I have seen two of these broadcasts over the last two weeks of two very different operas.  Let me mention at the start that the singing is superb in both.  No complaints there.  The orchestra, which was conducted on both occasions by James Levine, is one of the best there is.

  The two productions I saw could not be more different otherwise.  Norma, by Bellini, was unrelieved gloom.  Much care was taken to build authentic sets depicting the lifestyle of the Druids.  A great deal of money was spent building a realistic set, with the result that the entire opera looked like a black and white television show from the fifties.  Ralph Kramden would not have appeared out of place on this set, nor would I Love Lucy.  The only thing different was the lack of jokes.  Ayatollah Khomeini stated that there is no fun in Islam, and apparently there was not much fun in Druidic Gael.  

  The Druids worshipped Nature.   Apparently, if this depiction is accurate, they dressed in burlap.  Both men and women wore droopy burlap robes tied carelessly around the waist with something or other that might have been a vine.  Norma,the high priestess, however, had other problems.  Her lover, and father of her two children, was no longer interested in her, having transferred his affections to her second in command.  Then on top of that, the Romans were threatening the tribe.
  After much gloom and doom, the lovers were defeated by those pesky Romans but reunited in their love.  They agreed to be burned alive on a pyre together, which is as close to  a happy ending as it ever gets in Druidland.

  On the other hand, the Magic Flute sparkled.  Stars twinkled, fireworks went off, dancers danced.  The costumes were lavish and colorful.  The players had a wonderful time, and so did the audience.  All were excellent. Markus Werba as Papageno was a delightful clown, and the rest of the cast were uniformly excellent.  Especially notable was Golda Schultz--not the Golda who payed mah jong with your grandma, but a young, vivacious black woman from South Africa who played Pamina.

Does the mayor of San Juan speak Spanish?


I watched her interview and read the comments, which found it incredible that she could have found a shop which would print a T-shirt for her on an island that has no electricity.  That didn;t bother me.  I remember having to print silk screen items on a huge hand-cranked machine.

  What seemed out of kilter to me did not enter my consciousness until later.  (I've never claimed to be a fast thinker.)  Why in the world did she have her anguish printed on a T-shirt in the English language?  If I were crying for immediate help I would do it in my native tongue, which is English.  In my desperation I probably would not even remember the word ayuda, or aidez moi or even aiuto, or if I could I would not remember how to pronounce it.  No, help is the mot juste in this case.

  When I visited Puerto Rico seven or eight years ago, the people spoke Spanish.  Have they all gone to Berlitz since then?  Unlikely.



I admit I was mysled (Debbie Wasserman Schulz and I know what this means) by the brouhaha about the kneeling of Football players during the national anthem.  (That would be the Star Spangled Banner, in case you've been living in a lead-lined cave.)

  Apparently the American public cares deeply what millionaire football players do prior to game time.  It has been suggested that there is no reason to play the song before a game.  It's not in the Constitution, is it? Does it cost anyone money? But that does not matter.  What's important is what is usual and customary, which has been honored for such a long time that it seems a necessary part of the game.

  I'm not interested in football myself.  Or in any activity which involves a ball.  I remember my complete astonishment and indignation when someone threw a ball at me for the first time
 in volleyball.  I was very nearsighted and almost fell over when the ball hit me. That was my introduction to ball sports, and it confirmed my suspicion that the universe was not designed for me.  Annoying, but there it is.




Cheap thrills


The people of this nation like to take an idea and run with it.  There's lots of comment, resentment  and nastiness on all sides, then the whole thing is completely forgotten.  It changes nothing.  As if it never had been.

The football players who protested the national anthem is an example of this.  What could be easier than to go down on one knee--unless you have arthritis--for the duration of a song.  Real easy virtue signaling.  Almost costfree and doesn't take much time either.  And how satisfying the response! You get people all riled up; it's wonderful fun.

Nothing makes a permanent impression on the American mind.  Scandals come and go, they disappear as though they had never occured.  Remember Russia interfering with our last election?  Me neither.  Hillary's e-mail scandal?  It's as dead as Betsy Ross.  Vallerie Plame?  Don't be ridiculous.

So you might as well get down on one knee to protest the national anthem.  Next season  it will be forgotten, replaced by unisex bathrooms or nutritious school lunches.



I'm reading a new book how.  It's one I read as a student but I don't recall it very well--Daniel Deronda.  I love it.

  I don't mind long books.  In fact I like them.  My favorite books are Middlemarch and Anna Karenina.  Once you become immersed in a book. you are transported to a new world where Melania's shoes are of no consequence.  Or Trump wishing the Harvey survivors to have a good time.

  One of my Facebook "friends" wondered whether Trump will pay for damages if his Florida property is destroyed by the hurricane.  Why wouldn't he have insurance, even as you and I do?  The comment dripped with motiveless malignancy.  Why so much vitriol?  Did Trump steal something from you personally?

  It will be 2020 before you know it.  If Trump is not re-elected, who will you take it out on?

The art business


I have relatives in the wine business, and it has been a revelation to me to discover how difficult a business it is.

  I thought you planted grapes, harvested them, made the wine, bottled it, and a truck backed up to your loading dock to deliver the wine to eagerly waiting customers.  I thought, in short, that after making the wine your work was done.  You might want to pour yourself a glass and sit back and enjoy the fruits of your labor.

  Wrong!  wrong, wrong , wrong!  It is at this point that your troubles begin. You have to stir up interest in the bloody wine and persuade customers  to actually buy the stuff.  That's the hard part.

  I find the same problems in the art business.  I have exhibited in juried shows and actually have won prizes and received accolades from those who should know.

  I still find myself with quite a bit of inventory.  My walls are full.  My children and friends already have some of my artwork.  A couple of people have actually bought paintings almost by happenstance

  So now what?

Sleepless nights


I appear to have lost the ability to go to sleep.  It's like losing a key; I have no idea where it is.  I rack my brain but can't find it. 

  I go to bed, but sleep does not happen.  I feel like Macbeth, or is it Lady Macbeth,  but without the guilty conscience.  On some occasions, I do finally nod off, waking in the morning to find I have migrated to some hitherto unvisited part of the bed with sheets and blankets tangled around me.  But lately, even this has eluded me.

  So I lie there, trying to think of something, anything, to divert my mind and coax it to release me.

  Sometimes I get up and have breakfast and then sneak back to bed.  This sometimes fools my sub  conscious for a time, not always. Or I move to another bed.  I open the window.  I close the window.  I turn on the ceiling fan; it get too cold; I turn it off.  I turn on the electric blanket.  Then I turn it off again. I go downstairs, lie on the couch, and turn on the television.  My feet get cold.  Alternatively, I feel hot all over.  Neither condition lasts.

  I am wide awake, and alert enough to do my income tax.  But I don't want to do my income tax.  I want to sleep.  I want to knit  up the ragged sleave of care.

Evil machines


It is an established fact that mechanical devices are malevolent; I have proved that electronic devices are also imbued with evil intent.

Take, for instance, my GPS.  It was working okay, until Thursday night, when it was invaded by an evil spirit.  I had found my way to an area I was not familiar with, and was now headed home.  I turned on the GPS and programmed it to go home.  It led me out to the wilds of Pennsylvania, places which have never heard of street signs or lights.  From there it led me to Winterthur, three times.
Needless to say, I do not live at Winterthur.  Yet I went around Winterthur three times.

  It then directed me down a one-way lane, unlighted and creepy, and from there ordered me to turn at Dairy Barn Rd.  I refused to do so.

  I finally recognized my surroundings and found my way home without help from the GPS.  No one can ever persuade me that that device did not intend to do me harm.  Once lured down Dairy Barn Rd I most likely would never be seen again!  I'm sure of it!

Customer service


There isn't any.

Try calling Verizon, with which I have a hideously expensive account, to ask them to move the cable from one location to another in your house, and see where it gets you.  Clearly, the company has never heard of such a ridiculous request.  Verizon customers should leave their equipment where it was originally installed..  Or move to another house, if necessary.  End of discussion.

  Now suppose you are an. airbnb host.  Someone has sent you a message requesting the use of your house for a certain date.  You reply with an enthusiastic afirmative message.  Airbnb cannot forward your message except on their app, which has no link for sending messages.  Try the website.  It will notify you of wonderful venues where you can stay.  Anywhere in the world.  You could probably book a room on top of an active volcano in the remotest Godforsaken venue.  But there is no way to send a message to a potential guest.  Call the phone number provided for customer service.  Leave your number and they promise to call you back.  That is a lie.  They won't.

  End of rant.

Advice to mystery writers


In many mysteries I have read over the years, the villain makes a fatal mistake.  Having captured the hero (or heroine) and rendered him or her defenseless, he (or she) takes a much needed respite.  He decides to leave the victim where he is for the time being and go get some food, or take the dog for a walk, or any of a number of things that need doing.  He can always come back and murder her later.

  This is foolhardy.  The victim is bound to find a coat hanger or something and free herself.  You can make book on it.  In any room, no matter how little furnished, there is something that can be fashioned into a weapon in less than 10 minutes.

  In your absence, he (or she) will take a curtain rod from the window and fashion a lethal weapon out of it, a weapon with which she (say a 130 lb woman,) will subdue you, even though you're a 250 lb football player.  She will then take the discarded curtain and tear it in strips, which she will bind you with, before calling the police with your mobile phone.

The moral of this story is, Don't procrastinate.  Or as Lady Macbeth put "If 'twere done ,when 'twere done, 'tis best done quickly."  Or words to that effect.

What's the name of the new Communications director who just got fired?


This new guy, the new communications director who came and went like Haley's comet, is it worth my time for me to figure out his name?  He came on like someone from the Sopranos, only lower class.  What was his starting salary anyway?

  I'm  jealous.  In a just world, I too would get hired for a job I'm incompetent to fill, but with an inflated salary. I'm open to any reasonable offer.  An unreasonable one would also find me willing if the money was enough.

  During my last session of gainful employment, I had to cope with the public, politicians, and vicious Board members.  (You know who you are, Ed R, you slimeball.)  And all this for a meager paycheck.  Unfair..

What's wrong about being Myzled?


People have been having great fun at the expense of Debbie Wasserman Schulz because she mispronounced the word misled--pronounced misled.  Like this; miss led.  Just think of it as one of the contestants in Donald Trump's beauty pageants, like Miss Hospitality.  If there were a venue called Led, she would be Miss Led.  (It's in the Balkans, perhaps.)

  She actually pronounced it Myzled, with a long I in the first syllable.  Like this;  My- zled.  I totally sympathize.  Having read the word in books, but never heard it in conversation, I too was myzled.  I've been myzled  for a whole year, not to mention bewitched, bothered and bewildered.

  I think mysled is a fine word.  It sounds more important than misled, with an extra dollop of outrage.  You keep up the good work, Debbie.  Don't be mysled by your IT guys.  Or anything else they throw at you.

Odds and ends


Who had the good idea to appoint a special prosecutor?  I can't remember.  Now he's like an advanced case of cancer--can't get rid of him.

  The idea seems to be, if enough people say mean things about Trump, his feelings will be hurt and he'll resign.  Then we will get free health care, free college, free birth control and a bunch of tee-shirts with cute sayings on them.  No more mortgage payments!  No more rent!  Free food without GMOs.  Everybody will be in a union, whether they want to or not.  Nobody's feet will hurt!  No more bad hair days!

  I'm willing to bet my feet will still hurt, whoever's president.

Believing six impossible things before breakfast


What universe am I living in, where the President appoints a special person, a Grznd Guignol kind of guy, to investigate his doings? Why doesn't he just tough it out, as Bill Clinton did when his lying caught up with him. He said he was just going to do "Ma job." and by golly they left him to it. I don't believe any of this about Russia and furthermore I don't care. It's all over my head. Who cares about this stuff? You would have to be obsessed with getting the Donald as I believe they got Al Capone. Just keep looking through his life, his history, his associates and you will be sure to find something, as Patrick Fitzgerald did with Scooter Libby. You can dig up dirt on anyone, if you dig long enough.

I have great hopes for the movie "Dunkirk"


Going to see it tomorrow God Willing and the creek don't rise. I told a friend what it was about and she said, "How do you know this?"
I thought everyone knew about Dunkirk, like everyone knows about Gettysburg. Doesn't everyone?
Anyway, I love anything about WWII. Or the Civil War. I got that way from typing Mr Charm's essays and term papers. He majored in British History, but the Civil War was his passion.

A lousy movie


I went to see "Hero" with Sam Elliot at what passes for an experimental film venue in Wilmington. I strongly recommend that everyone make a point of skipping this movie. Sam Elliot is being promoted in this film as a serious actor. The filmmaker obviously thinks he is an attractive person, and trains the camera on him for hours--well, it seems like hours--as he pensively smokes a marijuana cigarette. Or stares gloomily at the incoming waves on a beach. He does have his virtues: slim and trim, with lovely wavy grey hair, an interesting voice. He also does not mug or overact. In fact, he hardly acts at al; he is all but comatose. It is creepy to see the camera lovingly focusing on him. I don't remember seeing this sort of thing in films about men, only those featuring beautiful young women like Liz Taylor or Audrey Hepburn. Sam Elliot is neither beautiful nor young. Nor interesting. Another annoying thing about the film is that everybody speaks very slowly, all the time. The whole thing could have been completed in 45 minutes, if it had gone at a normal pace. Miss it, you'll be glad you did.

Drifting away from sanity


During the past few months I have been plagued by insomnia. I tried to ride it out, but nothing solved the problem. Even sleeping pills just made me groggy. I truly cannot sleep four or five nights out of seven. It's making me crazy.
I decided to just ride it out, I figured eventually I will get tired enough to sleep naturally. Last night was a totally sleepless one, so I got up at 5 o'clock and tried to get something done. I resisted the desire to go back to bed, but went to the gym instead, doing my usual routine, but sluggishly. I was very tired when I got home, and my feet and legs were tired, so I lay down on the couch with a book. (Sometimes when I elevate my feet it relieves the tiredness. I'm a great believer in elevating the feet.)
I could feel myself drifting off, even though the air was hot and still. I woke up completely disoriented. I only knew I had been asleep a long time. My watch told me it was 5:30, but whether in the morning or the evening I could not tell. I looked at my phone and found it was still Tuesday. I was relieved. (I think.) Maybe not.
I could not help remembering a time, long ago, when I never knew what time it was. I was maybe 13. My family had just moved into a new house, my parents were separated, the house was horribly hot. I stayed up late, very late. I would be reading. Two o'clock would come, then three, and I would tell myself to go to sleep, but I wouldn't. I was reading P G Wodehouse at the time, I remember. I would wake up at 2 or three in the afternoon, feeling completely adrift from the society around me. It was unpleasant. More than that, it was frightening. I felt so separated from everyday life, unmoored from the ordinary life of ordinary people. Nowhere to be, nowhere to go. It was like being dead, but still alive.

Computer problems


So I wanted to order my medication over the phone, using Humana's automated service. I put in the prescription number. then was asked for my birthdate. I gave them the only birthdate I have, but the computer did not recognize it. So what to do? I am stumped. I can't change my date of birth, much as I would like to.

Blogger is driving me crazy


Yes, Blogger is cheap. In fact it is free, the very best kind of cheap. Otherwise, no-one would use it. It's a very clumsy tool. For instance, since I haven't been blogging, I forgot that, even though I put page breaks in, Blogger does not recognize them. They print all my stuff in one block of text--the print equivalent of a speech by the late lamented (but not by me) Fidel Castro.

By the way, for those who want to impeach Donald Trump: Getting rid of Trump doesn't mean that Hillary would be president. That's not how it works. Mike Pence would become President. I hope you all like him. He probably would not employ his son-in-law, and it's a sure thing that Melania is prettier than Mrs Pence.

Damn upset


I was expecting my airbnb guest today, but he stood me up. Admittedly, I was of two minds about having a stranger in my house, but now that he does not want to come I am desolate. I cleaned the house as though expecting an inspection by my most censorious aunt, a woman who has been dead for 20 years. I know this attitude on my part is unreasonable. I am fully aware of the stupidity of it. The feeling is strong though.
I am trying to get back to my usually scintillating self, but it's hard to get back on track. Bear with me please.
One pleasant development--I am glad to hear from my old blogfriends. Being surrounded here by incendiary Democrats, I am afraid to open my mouth lest I become a social leper. One Facebook friend expressed her annoyance with readers who commented only on personal matters but failed to respond to her political rants. Apparently it is not enough to live and let live, to agree to disagree, to withhold commenting on matters about which we disagree; she wanted full-throated agreement or nothing. Nothing is what she got, from me. Since I refused to join the Trump Assassination Club, I was persona non grata. Tough. I can live with that. But I like to know that out there in the Internet, there are people who agree with me!.