Tuesday, October 27, 2009


A psychiatric inpatient kept safe in a hospital ward snapped. A dangerous implement was used. An off-duty security guard is being hailed as a "hero" for having shot the patient dead.

I work with a child who has psychotic episodes. I parent a child who has psychotic episodes. I—-and, no doubt, many others—-had thought that a psychiatric hospital ward would have procedures, screenings, and safeguards in place; that a psychiatric hospital ward would prioritize protecting patients from their own unpredictable impulses; that a psychiatric hospital ward was ultimate safekeeping for society's sometimes dangerous, but not willfully dangerous, offspring.

Remember, everyone, that there is a big difference between a convicted evildoer waiting for his moment to lash out, and a confused and terrified person subject to command hallucinations. This is frigging crazy.

Monday, October 26, 2009


(from the Daily Dish at The Atlantic)

—-This just astonishes, in good and bad ways.

Sunday, October 25, 2009


My cousin on my father's side had a heart attack yesterday, I heard this afternoon. It was a serious heart attack. She had to be defibrilated in the ambulance and again at the hospital. She is now scheduled for surgery on Tuesday because one artery is completely blocked. She is ten days older than I am.

My husband has to have surgery in the coming days and weeks. People speculate that the reasons for the surgery may be genetic. I was a lot more relaxed about it until I heard about my cousin today.


The body decays, naturally. Plastic will not.

Saturday, October 24, 2009


I was told while taking these pictures that photography is not permitted. So I wasn't able to capture my two favorite pieces: an egg-sized, egg-shaped, well-frosted cobalt blue, and a small, triangular, deep turquoise/azur. Sorry not to be able to offer images!

These are, of course, submissions for Shard of the Year. The winning one was a lozenge-sized red cone; it could even be the one below the Y in Year, above. My submissions are depicted here, on the table absolutely full of pieces of glass. The shards are too small on this page to be clear, but one was black, one teal, and one jade green. I also had two pink-and-white pieces of art glass entered. No prizes.


There were contrasts along the shore of Lake Erie. A newly abandoned asphalt plant. A 10-mile-long park, along a peninsula. Marinas and luxury accommodations. A hospital that, I was told, has been there forever.

The asphalt plant employed a goodly number of workers until very recently. Thus there is a low-income neighborhood within sight of the lake, now largely without work. It is quite big and quite sad. I wonder how long before gentrification gobbles it up.


I tried to take pics that, to my mind, are representative of Erie. The streets are wide and nondescript—-though, at top, a train is on the overpass, crossing the street. A few buildings stand out.


I did like staying at the Wingate in Erie. My room was quite large (only one photo turned out, above). I liked my rental, too: a Nissan.

I tried to eat only at places I had never been before, but that didn't work out. A Jamaican/Caribbean place was closed when I went, and a Dominican "family" restaurant was, I was advised, not in a good part of town. (As if any Flint native is intimidated by the "bad" part of another town... but that night, I was too tired/falling ill to head back downtown.)

I did try a chain restaurant that was unfamiliar: Smokey Bones. Loved, loved the pulled pork that was billed as seasoned only with salt and pepper. Also went to a pub, Molly something-agin, right next door to Starbuck's. Lovely leek-and-potato soup, and I had a yummy blackened chicken chipotle alfredo there, too.


I read my blogs this morning, having omitted them for most of the week (PA, ill, final). I am alarmed to see that the financial-mismanagement cycle has begun anew, apparently unseen by the administration, and ignored by the Congress. So, my fellow citizens, start making some noise.

A pharmacist cannot decide to administer a controlled substance that seems warranted by a person's condition. A nurse cannot decide to discharge a sick patient from a hospital. In health care, there are rules–-even when we can perceive little advantage in breaking them, we do see human error as a risk.

In banking, there are too few rules. And, strangely, in banking of nearly any type, the incentives for outrageous behaviors are plentiful. And sizable.

It is common sense to regulate financial transactions heavily. I mean heavily, heavily, heavily. Again, the incentives are too plentiful and sizable for outrageous behaviors.

Tuesday, October 20, 2009


Monty Python and the Holy Grail is on this Thursday, on IFC at 10pm. IFC is the channel that is broadcasting this week a six-part documentary on the Pythons.

The Grail is worthy of attention. I used to have a semi-annaul party for viewing the Grail. People came from up to 800 miles away.

I've watched a couple of previously aired Python documentaries. I've read Michael Palin's diaries. I've actually watched everything I've ever heard of that features any Python. We are committing this six-parter to vid.


I have the world's worst cold. I pray I haven't infected anyone.

I'm home sick, less than 24 hours after coming home from PA. Being unexpectedly at home puts me in a strange, but not unfamiliar, frame of mind. I'm thinking about the trappings of my existence.

While I was in PA, I thought about writing a book. The book would be on GRID—-Greed, Recklessness, Indulgence, and Delusion—-and how these in the last 20 years have damaged U.S. culture and social relations. 'Indulgence' was a hard call; I considered 'Intolerance.' But I think the latter addresses another area of thought, distinct from GRID. The realm I hoped to address was that of the "comfortable." I fear I have become one of those.

I own too many things, I have eaten too much chocolate in the last week, there is too much paper clutter in my home, and I'm too fat. Each of these represents a dissonance between values and reality that does not settle my soul. The word "comfortable" above does not mean at peace.

Saturday, October 17, 2009


Speaking of wishing I knew where to go, I've had two conversations to date with Erie residents (neither resident was taking part in the festival). Our talks centered on what spots I should visit while I'm here.

One Erie personage had a thing for chocolate. He sent me to his favorite sweets shop, saying that they had an incredible treat called Sponge.

So I went, and I got a 5-oz bag of Sponge. Oh my goodness. It's like a (British) Cadbury Crunchie, sort of, except that the crunchy, burnt sugar/toffee-like interior melts on your tongue. And it's enrobed in fantastic milk chocolate.

I had intended to bring some home to share, but I'm afraid that will not be possible at this point. Ahem.

The Lake

I am in Erie, PA, for the Sea Glass Festival that I've been talking about since May. This is pretty cool. So many festival participants have enormous glass collections from Lake Erie that I went to the shore of the Great Lake to have a look. I found two sharp, non-tumbled pieces of glass, which I threw into the water for refinement. I wish I knew where to go.

Monday, October 12, 2009

Ship Wik

I'm thinking about creating a shipwreck wiki.

I used to have a website, via Verizon. There I had a well-researched page full of links to info on shipwrecks. For reasons unknown, Verizon took the site down. This action was not directed at my site; they took lots of customer sites down, as they had provided them at no cost and could do whatever they wanted. However, all that research lost with no warning... it hurt.

My hope is that, this time around, the research can be shared. If anyone besides me cares to read about shipwrecks, that is.

Friday, October 9, 2009

Three-fifths Funny?

Since I was little, I've been hearing my non-American mother express shock and outrage, over the tendency in U.S. culture to make buffoons out of those with darker skins. The TV shows of the 1970s were particularly guilty, although remembered 'fondly' nowadays, even by many who should know better.

Yesterday, in Australia, Harry Connick Jr. refused to play along when a Gong Show-like television program had, as contestants, a group of singers made up as though they were of other races. They pretended to be the Jackson 5. Harry was having none of it. He spoke at the program's end quite clearly about fighting against the 'make-them-buffoons' tendency in the U.S. (endearing himself to me, I must say).

A family member described her experience working in a southern state. In the medical field, a supervisor directed her to fail to service any African-American person. The treatment she provides is often life-saving, and she simply acted as her conscience directed her to. The result was that she was told she had better not roller-blade outdoors, or ride her bike too close to certain points, and then her barn got shot up. The year was 2005.

Never kid yourself that we're done with this race thing. And kudos to Harry.

Thursday, October 8, 2009


My husband has recycled Sunday's Globe Magazine.

Not a big deal, you may think. Well, the first letter in the Letters to the Editor section was mine. I kind of wanted to hold on to the issue, or at least to the relevant page.

I had fun writing to the Globe. It was my first time, and being selected to run was, of course, exciting.

The recycling went out yesterday morning.

Monday, October 5, 2009


I had the good fortune to hear Rep. John Tierney speak at the end of last week. He spoke about (wait for it)...health care reform!

It was truly fascinating to hear some of the statistics on the health insurance industry. Here's one: There's this insurance CEO in Houston. His salary is $80,000.
A day.

There's another insurance CEO whose annual salary would cover every penny spent on Medicaid and Medicare—-both of them, the poor and the elderly—-for three full months.

Ron Paul was on The Daily Show on Thursday, and he uttered the complete crap that the government spends far too much money on welfare. Really? A tiny percentage of the original, FDR-era earmark in real dollars, at a time when shocking numbers of our peers are out of work and homeless? It should be criminal to tell such resentment-spreading lies.

Sunday, October 4, 2009


I have said before that there are dollars being spent on the military that really don't need to be spent.

I just saw a chart on Andrew Sullivan's blog (the_daily_dish) that identifies international military spending in billions of dollars. The U.S. spends $607.3 billion on its military. The next in line? France, which spends $65.7 billion—-one tenth of what we spend.

Thursday, October 1, 2009

Ancho Apple Pie

I actually made a successful apple pie today.

This is quite a feat. Baking and I do not mix. Recently, while making cookies, I somehow managed to turn the oven off mid-bake. Another time, I made a mocha sponge roll with butter-cream frosting, but didn't mix the frosting quite long enough—-so it got served with big lumps of butter in it. Also, I just made an apple cake this week that isn't sweet. Not sure what happened there.

But my pie is good! Recipe follows. I modified the one on the pie crust box.

Ancho Apple Pie

9” pie pan or dish
2 very large bowls
1 pkg pie crusts
3 lb apples
2/3 cup sugar
1/3 cup brown sugar
3 tbs flour
1 tsp cinnamon
½ tsp ancho chile powder
¼ tsp ground cloves
¼ tsp salt
1/8 tsp nutmeg
2 tbs butter
2 tbs milk, half-and-half, or cream

Core, peel, and slice apples. Set aside in very large bowl.

Preheat oven to 425. Prepare bottom crust according to package directions.

Mix 2 types of sugar together in second very large bowl, then set aside 2 tbs sugar mixture. Combine remaining sugar with flour, cinnamon, ancho chile powder, cloves, salt, and nutmeg.

Add sliced apples to bowl and pour back and forth between bowls until apples are well coated and there is little mix still loose.

Cut butter into very small pieces. Mound apples in bottom crust, and dot with butter.

Place top crust over apples and crimp edges over bottom crust. Brush with cream and sprinkle with set-aside 2 tbs sugar. (If cream ‘pools’ anywhere, add enough sugar there to make a loose paste.)

Slit top to vent pie.

Bake on bottom rack for 15 min. Remove pie and cover edges with foil.

Re-set oven to 350. Return pie to middle rack and bake another 45-60 min.

Cool for one hour before cutting.

Cheese Souffle

I once, on the Outer Banks of NC, spent more than an hour putting together a cheese souffle. The results were... well, I think I said, "Seriously? All that work, for this?"

At Trader Joe's, they have frozen nuggets of souffle. You drop them into an oven-safe cup, cook for half an hour, and get souffle. I just ate one. It wasn't a shockingly delicious souffle, but it was damn good. It was MUCH better than my OBX souffle. And all I had to do was pour some nuggets into a dish, and put the dish in the oven.

You have to try this. And to my big sister, I will find a way to get you some TJ GCs.

Bless Colbert

When I heard that the Senate Finance Committee had not voted for the public option, I confess to having had an impulse. I wanted to reach out to everyone in my Windows Contacts file, and tell them to send their unpaid medical bills to those Republications and Democrats who had just cast votes opposed.

Well, guess what? Stephen Colbert—-who has a hell of a lot more clout than I have, doy—-just told all his viewers to send those very bills in to Max Baucus! Woo-hoo! I. love. Colbert.