Category : Personal

SMILE

Are you ready for something silly?

These days I’m finding it hard to be cheerful, to see the humor in life. I wake up in a land I’d thought of only in sci-fi terms. A flare-up. An outbreak. An epidemic. A pandemic? When someone cracks a joke (rarely), my smile or laugh seem foreign to me, as if my lips and mouth are not used to the configuration.

So for this week, I thought I’d look for Quotes that make me laugh, or, at least not depressed.

• from George Carlin: May the forces of evil become confused on the way to your house.

• from Woody Allen: My one regret in life is that I’m not someone else.

• from Steven Wright: A lot of people are afraid of heights. Not me. I’m afraid of widths.

Fordham, c. 2020

• and this one is an original from my colleagues in our physics lab at Fordham U., c. 1965.

Me: The spectrograph is off kilter again. It’s going to take hours to fix it.
Ron, a classmate: Let’s just rotate the Bronx.

Keep safe, everyone!

WORD OF THE WEEK

I’m reading Susie Steiner’s MISSING, PRESUMED, an excellent British police procedural.

This evening I came across the word toerag, used by one of the detectives to describe a colleague. I figured out from the context what was meant, but decided to check it out. Was this an invention of the author or a widely used word in the UK?

My search produced no fewer than 72 synonyms, but here’s the best definition.

I might need to use the word in the near future.

Enjoy!

Another Thurso

I’ve gotten used to LOL, BFF, OMG, and other abbreviations, but there’s another trend that I’m seeing in Comments on social media and in other blogs.

Here’s the new rule: any word of more than one syllable gets knocked down to one or two. Thus, conversation becomes “convo.” Problem becomes “prob,” or, in a perverse twist, expanded to “problemo.”

Thinking about it, haven’t we been using “info” and “demo” for ages?

What new ones have you heard? What do you think of the new landscape of vocab?

Still Life with Books
attributed to William Notman
Metropolitan Museum of Art

The Real Me Comes Back

The Real Me is back.

Thursday, March 19, 2020

I wish it were all good news, but the upheaval in our lives in the wake of Covid-19 is frightening. I hope you are taking the necessary precautions and making the best of inconveniences.

My sympathies and best wishes for recovery to anyone who has not been able to escape the virus. 

What’s there to do or talk about while we struggle with isolation?

• Here’s a relatively new blog that’s perfect for your time at home, or otherwise:

            Check out Sara Bly’s PHOTOCRAFTING FUN. Neverending ideas for DIY projects for yourself and gifts for others. Currently there are instructions for a memory-matching game on the site. Check out Recent Posts for more ideas and sign up to follow!

It’s never too soon to start holiday shopping, especially when it’s as easy and satisfying as this. And please share the results of your crafting with us!

•  Books

            — Catching you up with a short story I contributed to the anthology of mid-century crime fiction. Read “Lorna” and let me know what you think! And read all the rest, too!

           

— A new series will debut on May 5: guess who Elizabeth Logan really is. You can preorder Mousse and Murder, the first Alaskan Diner Mystery.

            — My local Castro Valley library participates in the “Reads” program. This year, Attica Locke’s Bluebird, Bluebird was the choice. Because of gathering restrictions, the discussions have been cancelled. To be rescheduled, I hope, because the book is outstanding. If you’re looking for a great read, give it a try.

Let me know if you have interests or hobbies you’d like covered here. Book reviews? DIY crafts? Writing topics? Your own “book of the week” to recommend?

For more of The Real Me, or The Real You, SIGN UP for my newsletter and visit www.minichino.com

That’s it for this week. I hope you’re all taking care!

Kumbaya

Everybody is a genius. But if you judge a fish by its ability to climb a tree, it will live its whole life believing that it is stupid. — Einstein

I’ve always liked that quote. Probably because I have spent a lot of my life believing I’m stupid. Now I realize that’s true, but only about half the time.

I had a mother in the era where many women didn’t want to be mothers, felt they had no choice, and took it out on their children. My mother’s favorite pastime was to point out all the ways I was stupid. One of them related to music. I didn’t have music lessons because I was too stupid to learn. (I now believe that the real reason was that the school didn’t offer lessons, and we couldn’t afford private lessons.) Also, she told me I couldn’t carry a tune—I’m not sure why it mattered that my mother persisted in reminding of this. Maybe she thought that, otherwise, I’d be walking around the house singing and disturbing her peace.

Yes, there I am in the centerfold.

Jumping forward to the days when I was a Roman Catholic Sister—I attended mass every lunch time in the college chapel. With me in the photo above are other students, the man on my right a seminarian, Bob C.

Guitar masses were all the rage, and Bob lead the singing every day. But one day he didn’t show up, and those of us in the pews started to look around for someone to take over. After all, we needed music to inspire us: This Little Light of MineKumbaya . . .

A woman I didn’t know well, in the pew behind me, tapped me on the shoulder. “Sister,” she whispered, “You’re going to have to lead the singing today.”

I turned back, panic rising in my body. “I can’t sing,” I told her.

She frowned. “What do you mean? Of course you can. You’re a nun.”

I don’t remember what I said out loud. Something like “Oh.”

And I lead the singing that day and for the rest of my time at that campus. I still wonder what became of Bob.

Academy Award NOMINATIONS

Academy Award nominations were announced on Tuesday morning January 22. They will air live Feb. 24 at 5 p.m. PT/8 p.m. ET on ABC. As far back as the 1980’s, we’ve had a houseful of family and friends watching the show in our home. Let me know if you can come!

Table display at last year's party. (The statues are plastic replicas, alas.)

HERE is the complete list of this year’s nominations. And below is to tempt you to attend.

Remember this Clooney movie? The cake mimics his roll-on luggage.

The 12 Days of Christmas

The Adoration of the Magi. Hugo van der Goes (Netherlandish, late 15th century)
 Medium: Oil on wood; from the collection of the Metropolitan Museum of Art.

Never mind what the retail scene tells you — The Twelve Days of Christmas actually start on Christmas Day, December 25th. The twelfth day ends at midnight on January 5th of each year. The Holy Day of the Epiphany is followed on January 6.

Here’s the symbolism of the 12 days.

The first day of Christmas – My True Love, the Partridge in a Pear Tree (Jesus Christ is my true love). In ancient times a partridge was often used as symbol of a divine and sacred king.

The second day of Christmas – Two turtle doves are the Old and New Testaments of the Bible. The doves symbolize peace.

The third day of Christmas – The three French Hens are Faith, Hope and Love. These are the three gifts of the Holy Spirit.

The fourth day of Christmas – The four calling birds are the four Gospels – Matthew, Mark, Luke and John.

The fifth day of Christmas – The five golden rings describe the first five books of the Old Testament.

The sixth day of Christmas – The six geese a laying stood for the first six days of creation.

The seventh day of Christmas – The seven swans a swimming represented the sevenfold gifts of the Holy Spirit. These are Prophesy, Serving, Teaching, Exhortation, Contribution, Leadership and Mercy.

The eighth day of Christmas – The eight maids a-milking are the eight Beatitudes. These are Jesus’ teachings of happiness.

The ninth day of Christmas – Nine ladies dancing are the nine fruits of the Holy Spirit. These are Charity, Joy, Peace, Patience, Goodness, Mildness, Fidelity, Modesty and Continence.

The tenth day of Christmas – The ten lords a-leaping are the Ten Commandments.

The eleventh day of Christmas – The eleven pipers piping represent the eleven faithful apostles.

The twelfth day of Christmas – The twelve drummers drumming represent the twelve points of belief in The Apostles’ Creed.

MEN: Take Care

Now and then something gender-related gets to me. This time it’s a surprise proposal party: he’s going to surprise her by proposing in front of family and friends.

Don’t get me wrong–I love the young woman; I’ve known her since the day she arrived home from the hospital and I’m happy for her. And the young man seems very nice, caring, and is a responsible adult. It’s the circumstances of the proposal that bother me.

I went to one of these surprise parties a few years ago– it was was as sexist as they come: friends and family gather; she arrives at the house expecting to have dinner with her sister and brother-in-law; instead she hears  a chorus of “Surprise!” He gets down on one knee, opens a ring case and declares, I love you, hashtag-Babe, you are my life yada yada yada. Old folk are in tears, young ones break out the champagne . . .

What’s wrong with a little romance? Nothing, but what if we turned it around: the test for sexism. SHE gets down on one knee, opens the little ring box, etc. If it doesn’t work, then neither should the first scenario.

Let’s take it to a more serious level. Some enlightened FB friend, took the “rules” for women, to keep themselves safe from a #Metoo moment, and turned them around, giving the same advice to men, to keep them from being falsely accused. Here’s how that looks:

Several people have expressed concern that men might be falsely accused of rape, sexual assault, sexual harassment or sexual misconduct going forward. Sharing these tips to keep yourself safe:

1. Don’t put yourself in compromising situations.

2. Stay alert and aware at all times. If you are at a party with a woman who you think will falsely accuse you of sexual assault, limit your alcohol consumption. She is free to drink, but your impaired judgment is not an excuse for her false accusations.

3. If you walk or jog for exercise, try to vary your route and time on the street. To be predictable is risky. Don’t give women the opportunity to falsely accuse you by having an exercise routine.

4. Keep your body covered. If you expose certain areas of your body she may get the impression you are interested in sex with her. Don’t give her that impression by revealing more of your skin than necessary. Modesty is the best policy.

5. Think before you talk. Flirting with a woman is fine but be careful not to give her the impression you’re interested in sex. Chaste words will help you maintain your virtue and good name.

6. Don’t make yourself an easy target. Hold your head up, walk confidently, directly and at a steady pace away from the woman you think may falsely accuse you of sexual misconduct. Don’t forget, you’re a strong capable man too.

7. Attract attention to yourself if you feel like you might be falsely accused of sexual misconduct. Make noise, call 911, use a whistle in hopes that someone will come to your aid as a witness. You can get “Falsely Accused of Rape” whistles at your local shelter.

8. If you are being followed, head for a well-lit area where you think there will be other people who may be able to help you. Well-lit areas could be the difference between a pleasing evening stroll or a night that will forever change your life.

9. It’s probably best to stay home after dark. If you’re worried that while you’re walking home at night you might encounter a woman who may falsely accuse you of sexual assault, it’s best to avoid that situation completely. Consider a self-imposed curfew.

10. If you do have to be out after dark. Stay away from suspect women. Keep your guard up and keep your distance. Remember to bring your “Falsely Accused of Rape” whistle at all times.

11. Trust your “gut instincts.” Even if you get the feeling a woman is about to falsely accuse you of rape leave her alone immediately.

12. Always make sure you lock your car doors, whether or not you are in the car. Always check the floor and rear seat for suspect women before getting into your car.

13. If you suspect that you are being followed by a woman while diving, keep on going—do not stop and pull over until you get to some place that is well-lit and where there are other people to assist you and attest to your innocence.

14. If your car should break down, raise the hood and remain in the car with the doors locked until the police arrive. Don’t stand outside your car. This may give women the impression your helpless circumstance means you want to have sex with them. If a woman should stop and offer to assist you, roll down the window just enough to tell them you called the police.

15. Stay safe at home. Be sure you know whom you are opening your door to. If a sales or repair woman is legitimate, they will not mind your asking to see her identification and confirming their identity with the company they represent. If you still feel uncomfortable, schedule all appointments at a time when your wife can be home to help you.

16. For men who live by themselves in a house or apartment, never advertise the fact by listing your full name in the phone book or on a mailbox. This makes you an easy target for false accusations because you have no alibi.

17. Attend large parties with friends you can trust. Agree to “look out” for one another. Try to leave with your group, rather than alone or with a suspect woman.

18. Be cautious about revealing any personal information over the telephone and/or Internet. Don’t make yourself a vulnerable target.

19. If you have roommates, talk to them about the importance of everyone following the safety strategies at all times.

20. Lastly, stay safe out there. There are plenty of good women ready to help you if you need it. Don’t let a few bad apples change the way you feel about all women. Most of us are good and trying to help you do the right thing. #NotAllWomen Disclaimer: Following these tips and strategies does not guarantee that a false accusation will not occur. They are offered as strategies to reduce the likelihood of you becoming a victim of false rape accusations.

See what I mean?

Rock Center 2018

Sharing a couple of images from the Rockefeller Center tree lighting — 11/28/18. I wait all year for this! And this year 1) Tony Bennett was on TWICE and 2) the tree was lit in the middle of the show so we could watch it longer!

Tony Bennett (nee Anthony Dominic Benedetto) at 92

60,000 lights!

HAPPY THANKSGIVING

AND Throwback Thursday. Here’s my favorite (and only) photo of Thanksgiving Day from my childhood. I’m not sure why I’ve kept it, or why I like it. Maybe because everyone is smiling, even my mother, which was very rare.

Thanksgiving Day, mid-century

At the head of the table: Uncle Al. Then, clockwise: my father, my sister, my mother, Al’s wife Aunt Teresa, (me, the photographer, not shown!), Aunt Louise, cousin Jean, cousin Gloria, and Uncle Louie.

Wishing everyone a Happy Thanksgiving Weekend!