Category Archives: Media

The Bookmark

I have never spent much time thinking about who has read a book before I have.  Every now and then I get a book from the library that is old enough that it still has the check-out card in the little pocket in the back and I love to see the dates on the card, but even that only suggests when it might have been read prior to computerization. 

Last week I found a bookmark (photo above) in a book from the library, left by the prior reader.  It’s not a store-bought bookmark, but a little piece of artwork that some parent (probably) grabbed when they need to mark their place.  This resonates with me because I often use a folded post-it note, an old receipt or even a piece of used envelope when the need arises, although I do have massive numbers of official bookmarks.  When I was working in the bookstore, publishers often sent bookmarks and I always grabbed one.  If I found a bookmark when I was traveling, I always picked it up.  And, of course, I make bookmarks, often as gifts, but I always make one for myself any time I do that.  But you know how it goes; if you are downstairs when you get to a good stopping point, you’re not going to go upstairs just to find a bookmark!

This particular bookmark looks to belong to someone who works in a financial advice company and is the parent to a four- or five-year old.  The book that I found it in was How to Fly in Ten Thousand Lessons by Barbara Kingsolver, so clearly a poetry lover and someone who prefers library books to purchased books this year.  But in my fantasy world I’d love to think that the last person who picked up this book was Shirley Jackson.  I just finished her book Life Among the Savages and she mentions reading several times.  She had four kids and I can imagine her grabbing a scrap of kids’ scribbling when she needed to put down a book.

What was the last book you finished?  Who would YOU like to have read it right before you? 

Extra! Extra! Read All About It!

The only South Dakota news I noticed Saturday in the Fargo Forum was an article about a woman cracking open an egg that had four yolks.  Well, it is  1 in 11,000,000,000 occurrence, but I still imagine there is a lot more going on South Dakota than that. Plus, it is such a stereotypically Midwestern, rural story.

I have become a real news junkie over the past four years, mainly out of anxiety.  I do so look forward to the future when news might become more dull.

What sort of beat would you want to cover if you were a reporter?  What print media do you like to read?

Temper, Temper

I am rather chagined to admit I had two tantrums at work this week. They involved cussing and slamming doors.  I am considered a pretty calm person at work, so the times when Dr. B,  as I am known  there,  loses her temper,  are alarming to my coworkers. I need to apologize.

There have been continuous changes at my work over the past two years in all aspects of what we do to  provide mental health services.  Covid has accelerated technological changes that were on the State back burner.  This has resulted in less than smooth rollouts of new technology.  This week, our telephones were decommissioned and replaced with a system tied to Microsoft Teams, so that we can only receive and make phone calls through our computers via head phones . The State IT department is pretty poor about communicating exactly how to set these things up.  “Just read the email and follow the instructions.”  Sometimes, that just doesn’t work! Don’t get me started on how absurd and vague were the instructions on how to set up e911  on my computer! Well, this leads to frustration, hence my tantrum. They are lucky I didn’t throw my phone through my office window.

I have had to engage in new technology to an extent I could never had imagined a year ago. I can’t wait for this all to be over.

What new technology have you used this year?  How has the pandemic changed your interface with technology? What have you done via technology or in other respects in the past ten months that you could never had dreamed of?

Unsuitable

I received a very funny email from Talbots, the clothing company earlier this week.  I don’t buy new clothes very often.  I need to look somewhat professional (this is western ND, after all, so nothing too fancy)  but I need to be comfortable.  Working with small children makes heels and power suits impractical.  I have settled on sweaters and corduroy pants.  I also really don’t like clothes shopping, and the nearest  fairly nice stores are 300 miles away in Fargo, This means I catalogue shop.

Talbots  has always been a favorite of mine, and their clothes fit me. They also last, so I only have to get new clothes every couple of years.  I bought a few things from Talbots  this fall, and the email this week asked  if I would be on an advisory board to help them stay current with the needs of their customers.  I declined.  I don’t think I am the most suitable person for this, since I have no interest in fashion, and I  don’t  have time, but I was enormously amused.

I imagine there are very few people in my State west of the Missouri River who buy clothes from Talbots. I can imagine  a marketing person desperate to increase sales looking at the data and saying “What’s up with her? Let’s see why she buys our product line. Maybe we have a new market to focus on.”

When have you been unsuitable for a task or out of your league? What is your sense of fashion?

Polar Bear Glue

I was quite amused to read in the Fargo Forum the other day an  article about the problem tracking male polar bears in the Arctic.  Scientists who track animals typically track them with collars. Female polar bears have  have large heads and small  necks. Their collars stay on.   Male polar bears have small heads and large necks.  The smaller heads on the male polar bears means that their tracking collars slip off, rendering the tracking collar useless.   Leave it to 3M, and the lead researcher from White Bear Lake (how appropriate), to solve the problem.

3M developed Polar Bear Glue to stick tracking devices on the male bears’ fur that would track the bears until they shed their fur in the Spring.  The tracking devices could then be retrieved from their radio signals, and the bear travels documented. The test bears would be Churchill, Manitoba polar bears.  I have a soft spot in my heart about anything from Manitoba. Taking the Polar Bear Express from Winnipeg to Churchill is on my bucket list.

What are some inventions you would like to see for what P. G. Wodehouse referred to as “our dumb chums” to make their lives easier?  What are some of your favorite recent news items?

Legal Eagles

I read with relief and joy the Friday decision of the Supreme  Court to dismiss the Texas suit to invalidate Biden’s win.  I know the suit was doomed from its inception,  but a person worries about these things (or at least I do).

I don’t have any lawyers in my immediate family,  although my paternal grandfather had two uncles and a cousin who were lawyers and judges.  I have always enjoyed  court room dramas, and I sometimes enjoy doing expert witness testimony in real life. It is interesting to see the games and maneuvers that occur to settle things.

I suppose that Gregory  Peck’s portrayal of Atticus Finch is the most wonderful exemplar of a good attorney.  I have fortunately not needed much personal legal help aside from wills and such.

What are your favorite court room dramas?  What are your experiences  in court and with lawyers? 

Problematic Hymns

Our church choir, usually at about eighteen voices, is now down to five, (two altos, one mezzo soprano, and two tenor/baritones). The director is an operatic type of soprano who can sing and direct at the same time, and the accompanist is a very fine bass/baritone who can’t sing and play at the same time.  He just accompanies, and does it very well.  We sing masked and socially distanced, which is interesting in terms of listening to one another and blending.  We sing once a month.

I love to sing in the church  choir.  I have mixed feelings about sitting in the congregation and singing hymns.  I grew up in a Norwegian Lutheran congregation in South West Minnesota, and we had to sing every blessed verse in every hymn on Sunday.  To this day I just cringe when I have have to sing  four or more verses in the hymns.  I like the sentiment in the early verses, but I am more drawn to the melody and harmonies.

The folks we sing with in choir are an opinionated bunch when it comes to hymns. The accompanist, a retired high school choir director,  blanches when Amazing Grace is in the bulletin.  He can’t stand it for some reason.  The mezzo soprano, an elementary music teacher, refuses to sing Blessed Assurance  because she finds it so smarmy, and my fellow alto, a college librarian, cringes at Holy, Holy, Holy  because she had to sing it so often as a child.  I am drawn to mournful Scandinavian, German, and English tunes, but please don’t make me sing more than two verses of anything.

When I attended Concordia College in the 1970’s, the Concert Choir sang what I thought was a very odd song written by Paul J. Christiansen,  the choir director at the time,  based on Carl Sandburg’s  Prayers of Steel:

Lay me on an anvil; O God.
Beat me and hammer me into a crowbar.
Let me pry loose old walls.
Let me lift and loosen old foundations.
Lay me on an anvil, God.

Beat me and hammer me into a steel spike.
Drive me into the girders that hold a
skyscraper together.
Take red-hot rivets and fasten me into the
central girders.
Let me be the great nail holding a skyscraper
through blue nights
into white stars.

I don’t know If I would have chosen this as the text for a sacred song, but hey, it only has two verses.

What are your favorite songs?  What songs can’t you stand?  What do you like to sing?

The Millie News

Out tortoiseshell cat, Millie, was recently  diagnosed with what is probably lymphoma. It could possibly be a form of leukemia, but we would need to do a bone marrow test to find out, and the treatment is the same in either case. She gets a smear of prednisone cream in her ear every day, which we will gradually reduce to a maintenance dose every other day in a week or so.  She is rallying, and is almost back to her pre-cancer goofy self.

Our children are real cat lovers, and insist I give regular news updates regarding her condition  and prognosis. It feels some days as though I am running an official Millie news network. I could call it MNN.

I myself have been consumed with the news of late, and go to my regular news sources. NPR, CNN, Reuters, and MSNBC too frequently  for my own mental health. I am alarmed  by 45’s plan to start his own news service, which I can’t imagine being at all reasonable or accurate. I doubt I would ever look at it.

What news services do you follow or not follow? What kind of news service would you start if money was no object?

Mrs Pollifax: Spy

I just saw a headline (yes, big enough to warrant a headline) that the tv series Friends is doing a reunion show in the spring.  I never saw an entire episode of Friends when it was originally airing – the bits I did see didn’t make me want to tune in.  But between what other people talk about and all the various commercials, I know enough that I’m thinking an enjoyable reunion show almost 20 years after the fact will be hard to pull off.  I’m sure I’ll be passing.

But there are a few bits of entertainment that I would like to have seen more of —  Mrs. Polifax, Spy for one.  There are boatloads of Mrs Pollifax books by Dorothy Gilman but just two movies.  The first one came out in 1971 with Rosalind Russell and Darren McGavin.  It’s clever and a bit silly, but just what I need every now and then.  Rosalind Russell was perfect but a follow-up was never made.  Then in 1999 Angela Lansbury starred in The Unexpected Mrs. Pollifax.  Good enough to waste a couple of hours on a Saturday afternoon but that was about it; she was too old for the part and the movie took itself much too seriously.  It really just felt like an episode of Murder She Wrote

The 1971 version is currently available on Amazon Prime and I will admit that I’ve watched it several times since March.  I wish that Rosalind Russell had made a few more of them!

Anything that you would have like to see more of (or read more of)?