Friday, August 30, 2013

What is I.G.Y.?

I have always been intrigued by these lyrics:

Standing tough under stars and stripes
We can tell
This dream's in sight
You've got to admit it
At this point in time that it's clear
The future looks bright
On that train all graphite and glitter
Undersea by rail
Ninety minutes from New York to Paris
Well by seventy-six we'll be a.o.k.

What a beautiful world this will be
What a glorious time to be free

Get your ticket to that wheel in space
While there's time
The fix is in
You'll be a witness to that game of chance in the sky
You know we've got to win
Here at home we'll play in the city
Powered by the sun
Perfect weather for a streamlined world
There'll be spandex jackets for everyone

What a beautiful world this will be
What a glorious time to be free

On that train all graphite and glitter
Undersea by rail
Ninety minutes from New York to Paris
(more leisure for artists everywhere)
A just machine to make big decisions
Programmed by fellows with compassion and vision
We'll be clean when their work is done
We'll be eternally free and eternally young

What a beautiful world this will be
What a glorious time to be free

These lyrics were written and sung by Donald Fagen in 1982, in his first solo album after Steely Dan.  The title of the song is "I.G.Y.".

What is I.G.Y.?  It stands for International Geophysical Year, which ran from July 1957 to December 1958.  The purpose was international scientific research into earth sciences, such as gravity, geomagnetism, meteorology, cosmic rays, ionospheric physics, seismology and solar activity.

Both the United States and the Soviet Union launched satellites into space during the year.  Also, discovery of the Van Allen radiation belts and mid-ocean submarine ridges, confirming plate tectonics.  An international body participated in an 18-month study of Antarctic science.  Halley Research Station was founded in 1957.  The Amundsen-Scott South Pole station was was erected in 1957.  The work in Antarctica resulted in the Antarctic Treaty, which called for the use of Antarctica for peaceful purposes and cooperative scientific research.

In the song, Fagen mentions solar-powered cities, spandex, undersea rail from New York to Paris, and recreational space travel, all of which were either invented or predicted during the I.G.Y.  Now, in 2013 some are indeed working to bring about space tourism and an undersea Atlantic Tunnel.

Not many songs have impelled me to look more deeply into the lyrics and learn something in the process.  When he mentioned the "trains all of graphite and glitter" and "that wheel in space" and "a just machine to make big decisions, programmed by fellows of compassion and vision" I had to pay attention.  It sounded so hopeful for the future.  It would indeed be "a beautiful world" and a "glorious time to be free".

Wednesday, August 28, 2013

Bon Voyage!

My niece Aubrey turns fourteen years old today.  She couldn't be here for her birthday because her class has gone to Washington, D.C.  I think it's cool that they are there for the 50th anniversary of Martin Luther King's iconic speech.

Anyway, she didn't want to have her birthday party before her actual birthday, because of a family superstition about not celebrating the even before the even has happened.  She did, however, want to receive her "birthday money" before the trip so she would have spending money.

The solution?  They had a Bon Voyage party instead of a birthday party!  It was Sunday at my sister's house, with the whole family attending.  I had to look hard to find a Bon Voyage card!  They seem to be out of fashion these days.  My sister made and decorated the cake above, along with help from Aubrey's younger sister Molly.

Aubrey is a huge fan of Dr. Who; her birthday wish list contained many Dr. Who related items, including soundtracks from the show.  She also received a complete Dr. Who outfit; bow tie, fez, trench coat and something called a "sonic screwdriver".

Here are pictures of Aubrey in the outfit:

This photo is an uncle and an aunt figuring out how to make the sonic screwdriver work:

This is her grandmother photo bombed by an alien:

Here is Aubrey, highlighted by the sonic screwdriver:

Aubrey is a very cool, intelligent, thoughtful, imaginative girl.  Her father's family were all born, raised, educated, and still living in Kentucky.  All three girls have talked about going to college in Kentucky.  I am the subversive aunt; I keep encouraging them to go out of state and "broaden their horizons".  I think they are tired of me telling Aubrey she should go to Stanford.  I've been there and I know she would fit right in.

Tuesday, August 27, 2013


Watching the news this morning, I had a sense of deja vu.  My mind took me back to March 19, 2003.  My husband and I were still living in Philadelphia.  We were with another couple, enjoying a day of exploring Bucks County.  We were browsing in a market when we heard President Bush announce that we were going to war in Iraq.  We all looked at each other with a silent "oh no!".

This morning I am listening to the news, hearing that we are about to send missiles into Syria.  I read a news site that says only 9% of the American people approve of that.  Yet, it seems as if it's probably going to happen.  I have that same sense of "oh no!".


I see the photos.  Heartbreaking and sad.  People are being bombed out of their homes.  Civilians of all ages are being killed.  Who is carrying on this madness?  Why?  Is it because of religion, or ethnicity, or power?  Does it matter?  I can't see any chance that this world can have peace.  Syria has warned of serious retaliation against the United States and says there will be "global chaos" if this begins.  It makes me so sad.  Yes, I am a little bit frightened by the prospect of World War III.  But mostly I am just very, very sad.  Our beautiful planet and much life on it would die.  Look at nature; we have been given so much.  But trees will die, flowers will die, mammals will die, fish will die, humans will die.  The earth will be stricken.  It's just all so sad.

As I look out my window I see a beautiful day.  How many more like it will there be?  Am I over-reacting?  I hope so...

I've been told that I worry too much.  Maybe this is an example.  I am a Cancer, after all.  They worry.

Sunday, August 25, 2013

I LOVE Berries!

Berries are my favorite food.  I eat them every day.

For breakfast or lunch I make a blueberry smoothie, made with Greek yogurt and protein powder.

I keep frozen raspberries in the freezer, and eat them on top of oatmeal.

I love pancakes with strawberries on top.

Of course, an all-time favorite... strawberry shortcake!

Yesterday I made blackberry muffins.  The recipe made 12 muffins; they were all gone by 10:00 this morning!  (My husband loves berries too.)

One of my favorite desserts, a berry tart.  I will even choose it over chocolate, which my chocoholic friend just doesn't understand!

Also, berry bars and berry crumble:

They never last long around my house.  Usually they are gone within a couple of hours.

More good news about berries... they are good for you!  What could be better?

Friday, August 23, 2013

To Spray or Not to Spray, etc.

My husband and I are having another disagreement about the exterior of our house.  First, he wanted to hire someone to prune a tree in a front yard.  I wanted to leave it the way it is because it has a pretty natural shape.  He wants to impose "order" on everything.  He's a "topiary" person and I'm a "natural" person.  He gave in to me about that one.

Then he wanted to paint our front door because it's been white since we moved in and he thought it looked too plain.  I liked the look, the contrast with the darker brick.  I gave in to him about that one.  So now we have a dark red front door.  It doesn't look too bad, but I still liked the white better.  In this photo it was still white (obviously).  I will take a photo of it it its present state when it stops raining.

Now he has hired one of those companies that come and spray stuff on all the trees and shrubbery.  I hate the thought of chemicals being sprayed around.  He, however wants to "control" things, and thinks there are all kinds of bad things out there that will kill our trees and shrubs.  I am concerned for the feral kitties that we care for; we have "adopted" them and they consider our yard their home.  I don't want to poison them, not to mention the air and the water supply.


My argument this morning:  "Why should we be paying this guy $55 a shot when we are both retired and trying to watch our spending?"

His argument:  "I am just trying to save the trees you love so much."

And so it goes... 

Thursday, August 22, 2013

All Five Books

Well, I finished it... all five books of A Song of Ice and Fire.

Five books, 4,764 pages in all.

It was brutal, believe me.  It was a little like reading about the War of the Roses, except there were "seven kingdoms" all fighting each other.  All the best characters are treated the worst.

So, why did I read it?  It was imaginative; I always seem to fall for that.  I even have this map on my dining room table, so I can keep track of the action.  The story zigs and zags all over the place!

Also, I fell for the Starks and their wolves.  In the first book, they find the pups beside their dead mother.  There just happens to be six of them, one for each Stark child.

Their wolves follow them through the story.

But some times their stories are heartbreaking.  I think the author must be a curmudgeon.  See for yourself.  (If you click on the picture you can read the fine print.)

One character who remains intact (except for his nose) is Tyrion Lannister, the dwarf.  He's a reason to keep reading and watching.  He is played by Peter Dinklage, and he is a bright spot in the whole thing... even though he is treated badly too.  He always seems to keep his sense of humor though.  I think that's what keeps him going, and also keeps readers and viewers going as well.

I hear there is another book coming out sometime in 2014.  Will I read it?  Probably.  There are too many loose ends left to tie up.  There are still a couple of characters alive that I care about.

Tuesday, August 20, 2013

Elmore Leonard

Elmore Leonard died today at age 87.  He wrote crime novels, several of which were made into movies.  He created the character Deputy Marshall Raylan Givens, who is the main character on the TV show "Justified".

He liked the way his characters were written in "Justified".  He said "It's never overdone.  It's just right."

I like "Justified" too.  As one critic said, "the language just sparkles and pops".

Noah Adams of NPR did a segment about Elmore Leonard today, calling him "the Dickens of Detroit".  When I read that, at first I thought he meant "Dickens" as in "isn't he a little dickens" but then I realized he was probably referring to the author.  I guess I thought that because Raylan certainly is a "little dickens".

Friday, August 16, 2013

Fans' Reactions

Well, last night we watched the episode of "Game of Thrones' that I had been dreading.  You see, I have read the books so I knew what would happen, but my husband has not.  It never occurred to me to record his reactions, some people did record reactions of their friends who had no idea.

This is a clip of Conan talking with the author, while they watch fans' reactions:

Thursday, August 15, 2013

Busy Reading

I haven't been posting much here recently, and I feel I should explain.  The thing is, I've been too busy reading. Right now I'm reading book five of A Song of Ice and Fire.  The HBO series "Game of Thrones" is based on these books.  I have the five books on my Nook, and I am now on page 3679 out of 4784.  I'm dying to find out what happens to my favorite characters, but I'm afraid this might not happen since the author is planning to write books six and seven.  Will I be left hanging after reading 4784 pages?  Ugh.

My husband and I have been catching up on seasons one, two and three of "Game of Thrones" before season 4 begins next year.  My progress in the books is ahead of what we are watching on TV, so I usually know what is coming before it happens on screen.  I have to resist telling my husband what I know is going to happen.  (They have changed some things though, so I can still be surprised.)

Right now we are getting close to watching the episode that includes the infamous "red wedding" and I find myself dreading it.  I keep thinking I should warn my husband, but I know I won't.  I read about one viewer who was so upset that he decided to stop watching.  Viewers who hadn't read the books were stunned by the "red wedding" massacre when season three aired earlier this year.  I'm kind of glad I hadn't begun watching it yet.

Even though I know what will happen, I think I will have to have a few glasses of wine before I watch the penultimate episode of season three.  It's not as if I haven't been warned.  As the author himself has said, "If you expect a happy ending you haven't been paying attention".

Tuesday, August 13, 2013

My Head's In The Clouds

Clouds in Hawaii...

Sunset in Hawaii...

Clouds in Mexico...

Sunset in Mexico...

Sunset in Florida...

Clouds at Home...

Thunderclouds at Home...

Sunset at Home...

Saturday, August 10, 2013

Where Have I Been?

I haven't posted for a few days.  I was away from home and away from my computer.  I was visiting a small town in Michigan, my husband's home town.

It has shady neighborhoods:

And well-kept houses:

There are picket fences:

And porches:

We visited the family's gravesite:

We visited my husband's brother and sister-in-law:

And friends from college at their house by the lake:

There was a festival in town:

After that, we drove to Ohio and saw a play at a town hall theater, with my mom, sister, niece and her husband, and great niece and two great nephews:

This is my niece and her two sons.  We went to the play with them and my mom and my sister.

Their sister, Emma was in the play.  She played Queen Fleawig in "Stone Soup".  That's Emma in the pink wig.  This was her first acting experience.

After the play, we met with the cast who were busy signing autographs.

Then we had dinner with the family, followed by ice cream at Graeter's.

Nice long weekend!