Wednesday, August 31, 2011


Here’s a photo of the Earth and moon that one of our space ships took recently as it was flying around Jupiter. This is what our little planet and its satellite looks like from 600 million miles away.

Sort of looks precarious and insignificant, right? I mean, we’re just a little bitty speck, perilously suspended in the void. Some huge, errant object could come whizzing along and, bloink! The speck and everything on it would be gone.

Back in 1986, I owned a really cool Honda CRX and I loved that car. That little two-seater thing was the coolest car ever. I sold it so that I could live in a downtown high rise in Austin, Texas, and I’ve always regretted that decision.

Seeing our whole world as one tiny blip sort of puts things into perspective, I guess. Everything we know of, everyone we love is on this little, tiny dot.

It could all be gone in an instant.

Still, somewhere, at one time, on this little blip, I sold my Honda CRX and it will always be a huge deal.

Tuesday, August 30, 2011

This Says It All


Sunday, August 28, 2011

Morning Scene: Hummus for the Homeless

If you’re a Chicagoan, here’s a sight you’ll see quite often along downtown streets: Food containers from restaurants full of “doggy bag” food.

You see, many homeless people will ask for money, saying that they want to get something to eat. Naturally, there are lots of restaurant patrons in downtown Chicago who have just finished a meal and are walking along with their doggie bag, so they give it to the homeless people instead of cash. That’s why one sees so many food containers full of food along the sidewalks. I don’t think the homeless are actually wanting food. 

This morning, I was walking to church and there it was: A whole catering try full of hummus, baba ganoush, and pita bread sitting atop a newspaper stand. It was right near the Trump Tower and Hotel. 

I can just see it. There was some event there the night before with way too much Middle Eastern food left over and someone decided not to let it go to waste. Some homeless guy probably asked this person for money so he could get something to eat and the poor guy was presented with a whole tray of fetid, leftover fare that had been catered hours before.

But why can’t the homeless people throw it away in an appropriate receptacle? There are trash cans all over the city, practically one on every block. I see stuff like this on my way to work so very often. 

I would say that this was an awful waste of food, but I can’t stand hummus (I don't like garlic); so good riddance. I tossed it in a nearby garbage can after I took the photo.

Thursday, August 25, 2011

Afternoon Scene - Window Washing

I watched a pretty intricate window washing process going on at the Aqua building.

There's a guy on a little platform that moves up and down the building.

The horizontal boom moves him in and out according to the width of the balconies. He then reaches out and washes each window by hand.

Very impressive.

Labels: ,

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

We're A Resilient Nation

Labels: ,

Monday, August 22, 2011

Just Something Beautiful . . .

In October, a music colleague who's a very fine violinist and I will be performing a truly beautiful piece by the Estonian composer, Arvo Pärt, called Spiegel im Spiegel (Mirror in the Mirror). It'll be part of a concert series in which we were asked to perform. 

Anyway, not only is this piece just about one of the most moving, pensive things, but I was also captivated by this quote by the composer:

"I could compare my music to white light which contains all colors. Only a prism can divide the colors and make them appear;
this prism could be the spirit of the listener."


With that, here is Spiegel im Spiegel

Labels: ,

Thursday, August 18, 2011

Giggly Anderboo

A close friend of mine refers to Anderson Cooper as "Anderboo". She's even met him a couple of times. 
The clip of Anderboo totally losing it and getting the giggles has gone viral today, but she sent it to me early this morning.
Ya gotta admit, it really is cute and funny. 

Labels: ,

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

"You're Soaking In It . . ."

Last night, I had a very vivid dream that I was attending a dinner banquet of some sort and was seated next to Madge, the lady from the Palmolive commercials.

Remember her? She was the manicurist who always surprised her clients by dunking their hands in Palmolive dish detergent because, “It softens hands while you do dishes.”

Madge and I were having a wonderful time together at this banquet. We were coming up with hilarious remarks and trying to work in the phrase “You’re soaking in it” as much as we could. I woke up from the dream feeling like I had a new best friend. I wanted to have Madge as my next door neighbor.

I’m sure many of you have grown up seeing Madge in the Palmolive commercials. After all, she appeared in these commercials from 1966 through 1992 – twenty seven years!

Madge’s real name was Jan Miner and she was a Broadway and Off-Broadway actress during the 1960s and 70s. Originally from Boston, she was also a very prolific radio actress during the 40s and 50s.

The lucrative Palmolive commercials enabled her to accept the stage roles she most wanted, including a few Shakespearian roles.

"I'd dip my hands in Palmolive the rest of my life," Miner once said.

Madge left this world in 2004 at the age of 86. I’m sure her hands were soft and beautiful.

Labels: , ,

Sunday, August 14, 2011

Afternoon View - A Gull

Since Chicago is hundreds of miles from the nearest ocean, this pretty fellow cannot be a sea gull. 
Is there such a thing as a lake gull?

Thursday, August 11, 2011

Cursory Cursive

Here’s some news that took me by surprise recently. Apparently, 46 states have discontinued the teaching of cursive writing for all students. Do you remember learning to write in cursive in the second grade? Well, kids won’t be doing that anymore.

I think I have mixed opinions about that. First of all, I’ve always been a little obsessed with my handwriting and still continue to try to improve it. I think it’s important – for me anyway. When I studied Russian in college, I was totally inept at the vocabulary and grammar, but my Russian cursive could put Lee Harvey Oswald to shame. 

Here's an excerpt from a letter of mine to a Siberian pen-pal about ten years ago. (Mail to Krasnoyarsk was awfully iffy, but I could scan my handwritten letter, email it to him, and he could read it at an internet cafe.)

But here's my Russian cursive: 

Now, isn't that elegant? The grammar is horrid, but it looks nice.  (That's what a Russian friend told me.) 

But you have to admit that it looks like it came from someone who was educated; who had a good handle on what they were expressing.
Like I said, I've always been a little obsessed with my handwriting. 

Now, take a look at a hand-written note from teen idol, Justin Bieber:

This is normal handwriting from anyone under thirty. Their scrawl is hardly legible and it looks like that that of a second-grader. Yes, Bieber's penmanship is horrible but don’t EVEN get me started on his spelling. (In my opinion, he should cancel all his concerts until he learns the proper use of the apostrophe.)

But really -- does this look like someone who is intelligent; or who you'd want to hire to do anything on your behalf -- or someone you'd want your daughter to hitch her wagon to? 
Take a look at the notes again. . . Really. 


 Me, in a third language I'd learned, although badly:

Honestly. Would you want your son or daughter hitching their star with someone like Justin or the latter?

Call me old-fashioned. . .  

So, why should kids have to learn to write in cursive? Other than taking essay tests in school, I can’t think of an instance when they would need that skill. We just don’t write anything anymore.

Lots of skills go by the wayside once technology makes their use obsolete. After all, how many people in my generation learned to extract a square root? (Or even know what that is, for that matter.) It’s awfully tedious and calculators freed us from having to learn it.

Believe it or not, I still write letters. I have a pen-pal to whom I’ve written for over thirty years. Writing. Letters only. We don’t even have each other’s email addresses. There are even snail mail clubs – groups of people who write letters to each other the old fashioned way. I’ll admit, I enjoy the retro appeal of it. 

As a pianist, the fine motor skills of the hand that express nuances of thought and emotion pretty much tie in to expressing myself through pen and paper. A postage stamp sends it on its way. 

Does anyone remember what it’s like to receive a handwritten letter in one’s mailbox anymore? Oh, to see that distinct handwriting from your loved-one or family member peering out from your mailbox . . .

I recently wrote letters to my niece and nephew, ages 13 and 10 just so they could experience that. In my letters to them, I explained that this was how we used to communicate; we didn’t have texting or emailing or twittering and phone calls were awfully expensive. I told both of them that I had in my possession, 865 letters written to me from their great-grandmother. Letters like this are a treasure;-- they're like supernatural documents of love from whence we came.

My niece and nephew were probably be quite perplexed at receiving these letters. Knowing my nephew, he probably felt like I'd given him homework to do.

Granted, these kids nowadays have skills that I have not. They can text like lightning; a hand-brain ability that is beyond my comprehension, but one that I can appreciate. They have an innate ability at troubleshooting and repairing PCs that absolutely blows my mind. Their handwriting may look like 2nd grade scrawl to me, but I have to admit that, maybe,  these kids' brains make up for it.

The little darlings are exceedingly sharp.

But if my kid ever wrote a note like Bieber’s, he’d have his cell phone and all electronics taken away until he got that apostrophe thing nailed. 

And if my teen-age daughter ever received a note from a guy written like Bieber's,  -- oh my god -- I cannot imagine the uncontrolled arguing and screaming that would take place in our household. 

Most of it, admittedly, would be mine. 

Labels: ,

Monday, August 08, 2011

Afternoon Scene - Buildings

You know, if you just look up, one can see some pretty interesting geometry.

Labels: , ,

Morning Scene - Monday Blues

I went into work early this morning and encountered this poor fellow on the way.

Dang . . .

Now, I totally can't get Rainy Days and Mondays out of my head.

Labels: ,

Thursday, August 04, 2011

Finger Food

For years, I’ve had this weird proclivity of not liking to eat anything with my fingers. This applies mostly to any food item that’s the least bit oily or one that could leave anything on my fingers.

Getting anything oily on my fingers just sends shivers down my spine. Even watching someone eat fried chicken with their fingers causes me to look away. KFC commercials are usually difficult to watch.

Hamburgers, fries, pizza, chicken all get the knife and fork treatment. Popcorn usually gets eaten with a spoon. However, for things like potato chips, I keep a box of disposable latex gloves in the kitchen.

Here is how I eat sour cream and cheese chips without distress:

Oh, and I'm right-handed but eat with my left hand. I don't know why.

I recently bought my first bag of Cheetos but ended up throwing them away. I was at work, had no gloves and the cheese dust was driving me crazy.

I would say that picnics are particularly difficult, but, hello?
Eating outside?

What am I  - - - homeless?

Tuesday, August 02, 2011

The Ivory Soap Experiment

If I was baby-sitting for a kid, we would SO be doing this experiment.