Walk.

I enjoyed a nice walk around the neighborhood this morning, exploring some dirt roads in the area. I ended up coming around the back of our property and coming along the horse trail along the bottom of the wash out back. It was a beautiful breath of fresh air.

Be.

Chris shared a meme on our family chat that I felt needed a wider audience. In today’s society we are told that appearing young and conforming to an expected body image gives us greater value. We should constantly keep track of calories and counteract any enjoyment we derive from eating with workout, lest that chicken sandwich end up on your hips. Ironically, the constant stress of achieving conformity wears us down just as much as not exercising and/or overeating.

Look, I encourage everyone to be as healthy as they can be. The general food supply for the country is loaded with fillers and sugars and fats and GMOs and all sorts of other crap. We are bigger on average than we were a few decades ago because of changes to the food available at the supermarket in the name of profit. I don’t put all the blame on High Fructose Corn Syrup and it’s brethren, but food has changed, portions have gotten larger, and lifestyles aimed at keeping up with the Joneses and meeting the demands of a capitalistic society have taking their toll on our eating habits.

Enough of the soap box.

Tomorrow we celebrate Thanksgiving here in the United States. I hope you enjoy the day as safely and as enjoyably as possible. And step aside from the guilt of eating a big meal. You can get back to your diet on Friday. Be aware, don’t be guilty, and most importantly, be yourself.

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Storm Chasing.

Photo taken outside of Denver in July 2011.

It’s not the season for storms in the Desert Southwest of the United States. This year’s monsoon was most impressive, even to those that have lived in these parts for decades, and I loved every minute of it. Normally at this time of year we’d start settling down for winter, with lots of cold and snow on the horizon. It’s not like that here in Tucson.

I’ve already mentioned to Earl that I’m very much interested in heading up/over into Texas and other weather rowdy parts next spring. I’ve always loved chasing storms, and when I can’t fly in the weather I want to chase it around and see Mother Nature at her finest. Up close and personal. When the derecho came through Chicago back in 2020 I loved every minute of it, though the destruction was an unfortunate byproduct of my adrenaline rush. It’s scary to think that storms are just going to be getting more violent as climate change continues to march us toward oblivion, but we’re still at the point where I find these storms to be incredibly awesome.

We started watching “Storm Rising” from National Geographic. The show features extreme weather chaser Reed Timmer and crew; the first episode has them chasing tornadoes along around the Texas panhandle. My husband said he liked the plot of “Twister” better since it moved along with better predictability, but I loved the cinematography, the chase, and the science of this documentary series. I’m looking forward to further episodes.

And I’m looking forward to putting the plans together for my spring 2022 storm chasing adventure.

2000.

The last gasps of the 20th century were an interesting time. Political turmoil was ramping up, though nothing close to the likes of the idiocy we have today. 9/11 hadn’t happened yet. Television was still in standard definition, if you wanted email you most likely were using a dial-up modem or a very slow data line, our cell phones were analog and not smart. Web 1.0 had done its thing and we were getting ready for Web 2.0, whatever that was going to be. We still had to know things, content on the Internet was a bit more honest, and things weren’t quite as “in your face”. We had hope for the 21st century.

Once in a while I take a listen to this live performance of Joni Mitchell’s “Help Me”, covered by k.d. lang in a slightly slower but more sultry way. The clothes, the vibe, the honesty … all seems to be part of that last gasp of the 20th century. I have always looked forward to the future, but lately I’ve been wondering about the past.

Privacy.

There were certain taboo subjects around the family dinner table when I was a kid. The news would be on the television in the other room; Dad was most likely keeping an ear on that. We didn’t talk about religion and we didn’t talk about politics. Ever. Once in a while politics would come up at Gram and Gramps’ across the street, when that whole side of the family was together, but they would end up in heated discussions and Dad would retire to the living room to read a magazine. It was usually an aviation magazine.

I was always taught that one’s religious beliefs were private. It was considered rude to be loud about your religion. Different kinds of religion were fine, just be quiet about it. So that’s what we did. My religious beliefs, which grew into more of a spiritual belief, were between me and what I believed in. The only thing we did that was outwardly religious on a daily basis was say prayer before supper and I don’t really know why we did that. Habit, I guess. Readers may be surprised to find out that I still say grace before dinner. It’s one of two rhyming numbers I’ve said all my life and the rest of my family here in Tucson goes along. Sometimes they slap their hands and yell “break!” when I’m done and then we start eating. I’m happy and fortunate that my chosen family goes along with this tradition from my biological family.

Because we were always taught that religion is private, I still find it surprising when someone starts spouting hallelujahs or “Praise Jesus!” all over Facebook, like God needs an affirmation via Mark Zuckerberg. I have a few friends from high school and quite a few relatives that will post vague social media updates, “I really need prayers today. I can’t say, but pray for me”. I always picture myself dropping an American quarter down a well and hope for the best, because in my mind they’re basically using their power of prayer like a wishing well. My spirituality doesn’t work that way but I don’t mind throwing a coin in the wishing well if it makes others happy. It’s when people use their religion to beat you over the head with a Bible; that’s when I get cranky. Speak softly. Listen. Keep your beliefs close to your heart. No need for a billboard.

Having traveled in all 50 states I can safely ascertain that many Americans feel God needs a bumper sticker, he needs guns, and he hates a lot of stuff. This is the all loving God they talk about, of course.

Too many religions are just nuts.

Lessons.

Jennifer Anniston in “The Morning Show”, photo from indiewire.

Last night we watched the the season two finale of “The Morning Show” on Apple TV+. If you’re not familiar with the show, it’s available on Apple TV+, stars Jennifer Anniston and Reese Witherspoon, and chronicles what happens behind the scenes of a television network, and its flagship morning show, when one of the hosts are accused of sexual allegations, a la Matt Lauer.

We both found season one quite engaging and were excited when season two came out a couple of months ago. Apple TV+ has released the episodes on a weekly basis and last night the finale was released to the masses.

I’ll try to avoid spoilers best I can and will most likely speak in generalizations. However, you have been warned.


This is your last warning. (My read more widget isn’t working so this is the best I can do).


Season two takes place in the six or so weeks leading up to the COVID-19 pandemic. We relive the “what is social distancing?” comments and “I don’t even know what contract tracing means!” exclamations all over again. This really bothered me through the entire season, not because I didn’t find it engaging, but because I really didn’t feel the need to relive the entire COVID experience again. I don’t know if I share this feeling with my fellow citizens, but the pandemic has been a terrible time for everyone I know and reliving the experience again for “entertainment purposes” was very hard for me. Maybe it didn’t bother others. I don’t know.

Season two also leans pretty heavily on “cancel culture” and I found the way the show tackles the subject to be spot on. Society, and American society in general, seems over obsessed with a lot of things that lead to “cancel culture” and of course it’s all fueled by social media. All the bad things that happen and are reported by social media have been happening for a very long time. All the fringe lunatics and the social justice warriors, and all of that have always been there. Social media has emboldened these groups and there’s a scene early in the season where one of the “villains” is approached and loudly humiliated in public for their past transgressions even though they were just sitting there drinking a cup of coffee. The aggression depicted as a result of social media anonymity and the desire to become Tik-Tok famous is very accurately portrayed, and it made me sad. I still enjoyed the way the show depicted the fallout of this type of behavior.

The one thing that really stuck out to me didn’t actually happen on the show, but as a result of watching the show. As we relived the pandemic through entertainment, it really struck me how much society did not learn from going through this pandemic together. By the way, I know we like to act like the pandemic is over, but it’s not. It’s under control but it’s far from being over. Too many folks are dying from COVID-19 on a daily basis, whether through circumstance or willful ignorance or a combination of both.

The thing we didn’t learn from the pandemic is that we need to adapt to a changing world to survive. We had the opportunity to come together, calm down on the vapid aggressiveness to one another, and take stock in what’s important and what is frivolous. As a whole, the world, and American society in particular, completely missed this point and continues to do anything they can to be loud, be aggressive, be tribal, and “be normal”. Normal before the pandemic wasn’t great. It wasn’t even that good. We had the opportunity to hit the reset button and we blew it. “The Morning Show” kind of portrays that in the season two finale, but it’ll go over the heads of most.

While this season was uneven and felt scattered (it was filmed during the pandemic so I’m sure that contributed to the effort) I still recommend it. B+

Meditation.

Mike and Chris have built some Alexa automation routines to turn the pool room into a meditative space. We simply tell Alexa we’d like to meditate, and the colors go to a calming blue/green, the heat comes on to keep the space warm, and nature sounds play from the speakers sprinkled about the room.

I’m still not jumping in the pool until my swimming “allergy” is figured out, plus I’m still feeling under the weather, but it was beautiful to spend time with the family in the calmness after the work week came to an end.

Nope.

How can I sit here and type about the wonders of the latest ABBA album or the corporate greed around the latest season of “Star Trek: Discovery” and its distribution or any other trivial thing in my life when a Wisconsin jury decides a man killing another man is not guilty of all charges?

I don’t recognize the United States of America anymore. I really don’t.

Time Passes.

In fourth grade I was the only student in Room 202 to be selected for the new “Enrichment” program at our elementary school. Funded by the local BOCES*, “Enrichment” gave select students considered “gifted” the opportunity for educational pursuits outside the traditional classroom paradigm. As described in a newspaper article from back in the day…

“… this program is aimed at meeting some of the special education needs of the school’s more gifted students. One of the more pressing of these needs is that of providing stimulation for the “gifted” child to pursue his or her school learning experiences beyond the limits of the regular classroom curriculum. … Placement is made on the basis of scores achieved on a (locally developed battery of tests. Exceptional social, intellectual, psycho-motor and creative development are among the personal attributes which the tests are designed to identify”.

The Pulaski Democrat, May 2, 1979.

I remember my mom going to the school for a parents’ meeting to discuss the new program, having concerns of me being the only one in Room 202 that was eligible, and ultimately telling me I would be participating in this new program. I can vividly remember my participation in grades four and five, by grade six the funding disappeared and we no longer attended “Enrichment”. The program kept me sane as a student, especially in fifth grade. It was that year that a normally second grade teacher taught fifth grade for the first time and the school decided to mix things up when it came to deciding who would be in what classes. This fifth grade class contained many of that year’s instigators, and it was decided to put five or six of the smarter kids in the class to provide balance for the classroom experience. The experiment was ultimately a failure, I learned what it was like to be bullied for being somewhat intelligent and very different, professional psychologists were brought in to help get the class under control, and it was the very first time I had seen a teacher walk into a closet and shut the door behind her. That was in Room 209, and luckily, the “Enrichment” room was across the hall in Room 210 and the teacher would encourage those of us in the program to go across the hall when things were getting crazy.

This was also the time when it was starting to click even more that I liked boys in the way that I was suppose to like girls and there was one teacher that really piqued my interest, and that was the Enrichment teacher. He was in the building only a few days a week, as he also conducted the BOCES-funded program at neighboring schools. I remember him being a super-nice guy, with a big, red, bushy beard, a very pleasant demeanor, and to a fifth grade boy that was starting to like other boys, super cute. One day he came in clean shaven and I still found him super cute, it didn’t change his demeanor at all, he just looked different, and then he grew a mustache within a month. I last saw him when I was in high school, he was attending a gathering of some sort with the special education teacher and other teachers from the county. He had the big beard again, gave me a hearty hello, and shook my hand. Honestly, my heart melted again, I felt my teenage hormones kick in, and I entertained that memory of him later that night.

I was bored the other night and decided to Google the teacher’s name to see what he was up to. I don’t know why he crossed my mind, but I had remembered him being a couple years younger than my folks and that he was originally from the western part of the state.

He passed away this past December. No photo, no family mentioned, and very little other than his birth date and where that happened, the date he passed, and the funeral director handling the arrangements. No mention of spouse or children, what he was doing, where he was doing it, just that he passed and handled by a funeral parlor.

This made me a little sad.

As I grow older I sometimes wonder if we’re suppose to thank people in our past for the joy they brought to our life or apologize for something we did when we were stupid and then realized it was stupid when we were smarter. Is this suppose to be part of this thing we call life? I’m sure my Enrichment teacher was very private about his life, obviously his obituary points to this, so I share these thoughts here.

Thank you, Mr. Rayburn, for being a steadying force in a tumultuous fifth grade experience by just being there in Room 210. Thanks for being my first crush. Rest In Peace.

 *BOCES stands for Board Of Cooperative Educational Services. This is a New York State Educational program providing shared educational services for a region. When I was in school it was generally by county, since then the regions have become larger and the services more centralized.