A welcome to readers

As a resident of this planet for more than four fifths of a century, I have enjoyed both successes and disappointments in a wide variety of vocations, avocations, and life experiences. This blog satisfies my desire to share some thoughts and observations--trenchant and prosaic--with those who are searching for diversions which are interesting, poignant and occasionally funny. I also plan to share recommendations about good/great movies I've watched and books and articles which I've found particularly mind-opening, entertaining, instructive. In addition, I can't pass up the opportunity to reflect publicly on how I am experiencing the so-called Golden Years. Write anytime:

Friday, June 28, 2013


This essay was shared with me a few weeks ago by Treva Oocha, a resident of my apartment building who is adding to her education by taking classes from time to time. Professionally she's a successful telecommunications saleswoman, but in her "spare time" she has been working on her writing. Now and then she asks me to help her with her compositions.

Treva wrote the following piece to fulfill an assignment for a writing class she's taking. The assignment required her to use the alphabet as a structure for an essay on any topic. I'll let you make your own decision about the writing's merits, but I was deeply moved. I asked Treva if I could publish her work in my blog, and she reluctantly agreed because she didn't feel her efforts merited sharing with the public. She also reminded me that this is a draft and not a finished product.

Tom West would have appreciated this. I do too.... a lot!

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by Treva Oocha

Annoyed Angry and frustrated.  A beautiful spring day, the cherry blossoms’ perfumed scent adding another layer of beauty to the newness of spring; happiness and shooting sparks of adrenaline and lots and lots of beautiful people.  For some, an adventure like none other. I can feel the heightened excitement all around me: water bottles, bright pink and blue tenny shoes, the new “in” thing-- florescent  shoe laces,  pink purple green, all so fun.

Burial, Black
Black all black, more black. Courageous smiles backed by depths of sadness and fear and anguish.  Unreasonable emotions that confront people not so much in the middle of the night but rather all day.  Good byes that don’t make sense, 6 second loops that play over and over. If only… and god damn fucking to hell why oh why…?

We got them, we have the suspects, our technology, isn’t it great?   Thank god for cameras. Somehow the victory seems not so much like a victory. It’s hard to put big emotions into a 24 hour day, emotions that are so conflicted.

We will scour the earth for the rest of them. What if there are other “theys”?  We all know that there are lots of other “theys".  We pretend to live an American life where we are free, where we are safe, where the bad guys always get caught.  But in a moment, all the badness overwhelms me. I’m bat shit scared….more scared than when my dad handed me a loaded .38 and dared me to shoot myself, more scared than when he took the gun and cocked the trigger and aimed at my head….that was scary, but now there is more fear, more pretending that I’m an American free.

Eager, Fear, Greedy
They stole from us, their greediness their need to prove something.  The idiots, they had no exit strategy, only hatred in their hearts, and minds good enough to make a bomb.  To be so bound up with meanness.  How do you make up words to define this horrible crime? I can’t find any, and my tears seem to lack strength.  They walked among us, this beautiful sunny day. They were one of us, they walked by a small child knowing in seconds if their plan worked this child and others would be blown up.  Just writing this makes me gasp, the horror so great, and in my own ignorance I wish everyone who is middle eastern or who doesn’t have an American name would just go home go home: go on just git.  I’ll use all my money to send everyone back, one-way tickets here we come.  My own ignorance and fears would make everyone a victim.

Hidden, Innocent, Jumpy
Blood on the boat’s deck, a tarp, he was wounded, bleeding, self inflicted they say,  no one wanted to read him his rights.  What rights?  If one more person says ‘innocent until proven guilty,’ I’m going to scream.  I hate our justice system.  Who came up with all these rules, these policies?  Do we have to feed him? 

Kill, Lemonade, Misery
The day was sparkling in its spring sunshine, healthy beautiful people of all ages wearing cool looking tenny shoes .  Muscular bodies, the serious runners whose legs bulge and their calves look like they’re made of steel… sun screen lots of sun screen, a handsome guy in a cowboy hat,  tee shirts and lots and lots of spandex.  An American flag waving, an explosion at first mistaken for fire works, another explosion, and then chaos.  Where to run? Where is safety?  What is safety?  Movie stars and actors get to go home when the movie is over but no one gets to go home this very fine spring day.

Napping, Outrageous, Prosecutor
Homeland Security was involved, and the FBI and Swat and the army and President Obama, and men in tanks running over the bright-colored shoe laces of a person, of a human being, a stranger.  A sterile room with guards, a man, an evil man being guarded.  I wonder if he knows that just down the hall, in rooms not far from his, are the victims of his handiwork?  But no, he naps because he’s injured, while we need to know why, why-what-how, when did blowing up people seem to you like a good idea?  How can you stroll down a sunny bright beautiful day with that kind of plan in store?

Questions, Regrets, Surprise, and Spirituality.
I wonder how they will treat him?  Special interrogators have been sent to find out the reasons why?  We are a world on alert.   If I were a nurse, am I supposed to feed him, and take care of him, make sure he has enough pain meds to keep him comfortable? My mind spins, I suffer my own sensory overload as I think about the duties of the nurse or the oath a doctor takes.  First, do no harm.  My mind does summersaults and I become breathless, a panic attack I think.  My thoughts are counteracted by the strength, the ungodly strength of the people affected.  They have stood up strong and proclaimed their strength, evil will not make us hide!  There will be another Marathon, and we might be afraid but we won’t let that fear immobilize our hearts or our spirits.

Time, Urgency, Victory
Time, lots of sweet time.  I work on my gratitude list. Somehow my gratitudes are more real, more hopeful, and more thankful.  I can’t hurry my grief, my sadness over this horrible event, I can only try to give more love to the people whose lives I touch on a daily basis.  I can only try and sort out my feelings so I don’t take my anger out on others.  For anger really is the child of fear.  I must quell my own heartache.  And keep giving goodness to the river of humanity.

Worthy, X-rated
What I would like to do to him would be x-rated, what a lot of us would like to do would be horrible.  But because we are Americans and good people we will keep our  honor-values-ideals and see he gets a trial and with any luck at all we will be safe for another day…until I guess ‘crazy’ makes another appearance.

Year, Zany
 I promise myself that next year I will run again, and not for my life…but rather for the joy of running.  It will be a bright and sunny day and I will wear the zaniest colorful pink tenny shoes I can find…

Saturday, June 15, 2013


If only I could speak the Truth with the accuracy and pathos of an Irish poet.

As I pursued my vocations of teaching and writing, friends and relatives occasionally suggested that what I was doing for a living could not be considered really "working," as if the label "work"  could only be applied to activities involving intense physical efforts that literally produce callouses and sweat-soaked shirts. Even today, in the minds of some folks, the appellation "work" is associated only with physical labor.

My father sold life insurance and went to the "office" to do his job every day. However,  I grew up knowing that he worked, even if there were no half-moon sweat stains on the armpits of his shirts. As an adult I also have worked in a similar way,  expending  my efforts dealing with abstractions. I confess that it is sometimes difficult for me to see what I do as 'worthy' because my job is not concrete and has few results that are measurable at the end of the day.

Consequently, I was glad to read in the blog of Silas House (http://silashouseblog.blogspot.com), a fellow Kentuckian, teacher, and writer, Seamus Heaney's poem that gave me an insight into (and modicum of solace about) how to view my chosen work even as I observe others laboring in more traditional ways. I almost envy Heaney's father who digs a row from 'here to there,' creating piles of potatoes and sod.

Seamus Heaney  (1939-)


Between my finger and my thumb
The squat pen rests; as snug as a gun.

Under my window a clean rasping sound
When the spade sinks into gravelly ground:
My father, digging. I look down

Till his straining rump among the flowerbeds
Bends low, comes up twenty years away
Stooping in rhythm through potato drills
Where he was digging.

The coarse boot nestled on the lug, the shaft
Against the inside knee was levered firmly.
He rooted out tall tops, buried the bright edge deep
To scatter new potatoes that we picked
Loving their cool hardness in our hands.

By God, the old man could handle a spade,
Just like his old man.

My grandfather could cut more turf in a day
Than any other man on Toner's bog.
Once I carried him milk in a bottle
Corked sloppily with paper. He straightened up
To drink it, then fell to right away
Nicking and slicing neatly, heaving sods
Over his shoulder, digging down and down
For the good turf. Digging.

The cold smell of potato mold, the squelch and slap
Of soggy peat, the curt cuts of an edge
Through living roots awaken in my head.
But I've no spade to follow men like them.

Between my finger and my thumb
The squat pen rests.
I'll dig with it.

- from Death of a Naturalist (1966)


To the following words and terms assembled by a college group in Michigan for the years 2012 and 2013, I would add a couple of my favorites: play at the next level, or play or compete at a higher level. And, going viral. How about dude and yo? And, I still see and hear comments being made about thinking outside the box and getting traction..

Then there is like. In a conversation with a very intelligent and well-educated college graduate the other day, in the course of five minutes while discussing a serious topic, I heard her like use the word like at least like 100 times like automatically, like you know! So how about you know itself?

The following lists are fun and can be the beginning of like a like curated collection if you like choose to like create one of like your own. Or you can, like, eliminate them all from your working vocabulary and communicate on a higher level. Like, you know.

The Worst Words of 2012
banished words, yolo, hipster, humblebrag, curate, 20122012 has been an interesting time in the life of our lexicon. From new coinages to new usages, English has had a nice growth spurt. Some neologisms quickly outgrow their usefulness, or through overuse, they become meaningless, like an overplayed song on the radio. Here are a few terms that many people have grown tired of in 2012.
Fiscal Cliff — the most-used term in 2012 politics.
This phrase rose to prominence when Ben Bernanke, the chairman of the United States Federal Reserve, used it in a speech in February. “Fiscal cliff” is meant to describe what will happen to America’s tax policy and spending plan in 2013 if Congress fails to address certain plans that are already in motion.
Is it actually a cliff? Not really. In fact, as the deadline draws nearer, it has been more accurately described as a “fiscal slope.”
Selfie — a picture you take of yourself by holding the camera at arm’s length, recognizable by the fact that your arm is in the picture.
Epic — hyperbolic synonym for incredible, great, important.
This word is so overused that it has been on banished word lists three years running. But epic refuses to be banished.
Humblebrag — using humility to cover up the fact that you’re actually bragging. This technique often backfires, making the brag worse, i.e. “People just won’t stop texting me, you’re lucky you have so much time to yourself.”
TLDR — acronym for “Too Long, Didn’t Read.”
How about TLSI (Too Long, Skimmed It)?
To trend/trending — to become popular.
As we predicted in our unheeded January list of words to banish from 2011, this unspecific verbification is still going strong.
To curate – to organize information on a web page or other non-museum entity.
Museums have curators, galleries have curators–are you a curator because you found 10 cute puppy photos and posted them on your wall? Probably not. Did we just curate this banished words list? We’d rather not say.
Bubble — used as a suffix to describe any group or community. . .ever.
The college bubble, the liberal bubble, the conservative bubble, the California bubble, the American bubble…if we get to the “Earth bubble” something is going to pop.
Hashtag — a Twitter symbol that has grown into an orthographic monster.
What began as a “pound sign” or “number sign” and became a method for Twitter users to search tweets with common topics has morphed into the new URL. (Wondering what “URL” stands for? Watch the computer terms slideshow.) See our thorough discussion of the hashtag–and its real name–here.
To reach across the aisle -- an attempt at bipartisan politics in the United States Congress.
What separates Democrats from Republicans? Is it fiscal policy? Social issues? No, it’s the aisle! Our legislators need only to reach across that small span of carpet to govern cooperatively, but once that gap is breached, what do they do? Perhaps they lightly drop an olive branch on the opposing party’s desk, or yank them back to their side by the lapel. We don’t know–the term only goes to the aisle.
Hipster — the flannel-wearing, liberal arts-educated, indie music-listening, director name-dropping, craft beer-drinking, 20-or-30-something dude or dudette that you’ve definitely seen.
Since the early aughts, the word “hipster” has become more and more prevalent and simultaneously more and more annoying to many English speakers. According to the Google Ngram Viewer, use of the word “hipster” spiked in 1961, dropped by over half in the mid 80s and clawed its way back to prominence in the new millennium.
YOLO – acronym for “You Only Live Once.”
Thanks Drake. Thanks a lot. The fun catch phrase born in the rapper’s single “The Motto” has spread like a forest fire through the vocabularies of what feels like every English speaker under 25, and now the term is just an excuse for teenagers to act like idiots. Sure, go ahead and YOLO. As far as science can tell us, you do only live once. But before you eat that live tarantula, take a minute and think about how long you want to be YOLOing for.

Read more at http://hotword.dictionary.com/worst-words-of-2012/#KOORi0q2mHc74oox.99 

The words you want to banish in 2013

Last week, we discussed the Worst Words of 2012. We were originally inspired by past lists from Lake Superior State University in Michigan. Every year they compile words that were misused, overused, and abused, and this week they released their list for 2013, which included some choice words that we had overlooked:

Kick the can down the road
Double down
Job creators
Spoiler alert
Bucket List
These kinds of lists are designed to capture an ort of our collective unconscious: the words that have become so a part of our temporary lexicon that we – newscasters, television writers, sports announcers, bloggers – cannot help but use them. Many of our fans did not like the idea of censoring any word use or diction, but of course we’re not talking about removing words or actually censoring select words. (Read our discussion of when words are removed from other dictionaries here.)
Many of you also understood where the impetus of the list was coming from and suggested additional words to banish like:
Wrecking ball
Going forward
Skin in the game
Gift (as a verb)
Slippery slope
Game changer
What others would you include? And what less-used words would you suggest that people replace the banished terms with? Let us know.
Author: Hot Word | Posted in Uncategorized 

Read more at http://hotword.dictionary.com/banish-in-2013/#l2rjlM6T6u8VzReh.99