Fun Fact: Life in Stalinist Leningrad

These two marketing blogs must really be getting desperate because they keep linking to my posts. Every time I see a link, I make that post private. I’ve done this with a lot of my posts the past week. Mostly my posts about Mendocino and Philo. These people have NO imagination.

It’s so beautiful to see them today. How are you? When every single one of my posts is private, maybe I can finally concentrate on writing a book.

I haven’t been able to join Bloganuary. Despite all the fanfare, I’ve only received one prompt in my ‘In’ box, and I check every day.

Fun Fact 1 from All the Frequent Troubles of Our Days:

  • Over forty thousand residents of Leningrad are murdered in 1937 — a number that reaches sixty-thousand in 1938. (Because executions are carried out at night and mass graves are hidden, most of the population remains blissfully ignorant of Stalin’s killing spree)

But, sixty-thousand people in the space of a year? Surely those people had family? Friends? Co-workers? Wouldn’t they notice if their family members and/or friends simply vanished? I mean, we’re not talking six or even sixty or even six thousand people. We’re talking sixty-thousand, which is 3/4 the population of self’s city in California.

Stay tuned, dear blog readers. Stay tuned.

My Heart, p. 76

For the second day in a row, no prompt from bloganuary. Where are these prompts going? She’s been checking her spam folder. Nada. When she presses on the bloganuary link, she gets a message: YOU ARE ALREADY A MEMBER OF THIS SITE and nothing else. Does any one else on WordPress have this problem?

Still enjoying My Heart, though it is not a novel. It is more a travel book, or a collection of essays. Who knows, maybe Semezdin Mehmedinovic has nothing in common with the main character: Maybe he never had a heart attack, which prompts such loneliness that he contacts his estranged son. Or maybe he did have a heart attack, but not at 50. Or maybe he did have a heart attack at 50, but doesn’t have an estranged son.

Whatever the reason, the book seems merely an excuse fro Mehmedinovic to let his wonderful, supple mind wander — for example, a few pages ago, there was a meditation on the word macadam, which exists as makadam in Bosnian.

Father and son are on a surreal trip through Arizona. There’s been wonderfully quirky insight on every page.

Without further ado:

  • The front bumper of Harun’s pickup truck is broken, which makes it look mistreated and vengeful. Conscious of its threatening appearance, he abused it today on Artists Drive, a narrow one-way road that winds through the hills in the heart of Death Valley; he drove close behind a white Toyota Prius, which evidently alarmed its driver, who stopped to let it pass. In this country people are wary of trucks.

They are.

Illustration from My Heart, p. 74

Disclaimer: Not Associated with Any Travel Sites

I have noticed in the past few months that a particular travel website keeps linking to my posts (all they do is “like” and their blog logo shows up). I’ve tried different ways to stop this from happening, but WordPress says they cannot help.

You’ll notice I’ve begun making the past month’s posts private. It’s for this reason.

This blog is a hobby. I just happen to travel a lot, also another hobby.

I don’t like my posts being linked to travel websites, ESPECIALLY SINCE THERE IS NEVER ANY ATTRIBUTION.

Almost all of the posts I made for the Squares Challenge are Private now. And that’s a shame, because the greatest joy of blogging is sharing.

And to the travel website cherry-picking through my posts, pay your writers and let them act professionally and do their own travel/research.

(And of course, right after I posted this, that Travel website truly went crazy all over my previous posts. AARGH)

WSJ Readers Respond to “President Trump Responds on Pennsylvania”

LETTER 1:

Although I can appreciate the value of your newsletter printing letters from writers of various views, it seems extremely important to vet these letters for truth, fact, and veracity. Yet you publish a letter from former President Trump, who doesn’t accept truth and fact. He continues to destroy our institutions and norms to advantage himself.

The decision to publish his letter was a mistake. It is not “cancel culture” to refuse to print false allegations and lies. It is important to support cold, hard facts. Because Mr. Trump’s assertions of “rigged” elections and “corruption” are so damaging to the fabric of a democratic society, a response to these fabrications from these editors is necessary.

Wall Street Journal, Letters to the Editor, Weekend, Oct. 30-31, 2021

LETTER 2:

If Democrats rigged the 2020 election employing the nefarious tactics alleged by President Trump, why didn’t Democrats apply the same dishonest devices to win more of the 435 House and 35 Senate races? The hundreds of Republican incumbents and challengers who lost their races haven’t complained to the Federal Election Commission or file lawsuits. Had Democrats possessed the power to rig elections in 2020, they surely would have used it to secure sufficient seats to avoid the congressional deadlock that plagues the American people today.

Wall Street Journal, Letters to the Editor, Weekend, Oct. 30 – 31, 2021

Intelligence Briefing: “Window”

Such fortuitous timing: It is summer, it is hot, and she can’t work in her yard because at the moment it is filled with piles of gravel (She’s having her driveway re-done). What else can she do but read? And she has excellent reading material in Inferno: The Fiery Destruction of Hamburg, 1943, by Keith Lowe.

This book. THIS BOOK. Wow. Until this book, she didn’t think it would be possible for her to be so engaged in reading about the destruction of a German city during World War II (Because — depressing, right? Besides, a lot of other things happened during World War II. Such as the death of two uncles, all the way across the world, in the Philippines. And the horrible hand-to-hand fighting in the streets of Manila. Nevertheless)

What Mr. Lowe is really good at is painting a picture, putting the reader in scene. Just look at how he describes the night before the British aerial attack on Hamburg — important because, as the pilots were told, Hamburg was “Germany’s main center of submarine production.” There was distribution of a quantity of “brown paper packages” filled with “silver foil strips” called “Window.” Window was going to give the British aerial supremacy over the Germans. Window was going to win the war!


Intelligence Officer: “You will already have been told how to drop Window. It has been worked out as carefully as possible to give you maximum protection, but there are two points which I want to emphasize strongly. Firstly, the benefit of Window is a communal one: The Window which protects you is not so much that which you drop yourself as that which is already in the air dropped off by an aircraft ahead. To obtain full advantage, it is therefore necessary to fly in a concentrated stream along the ordered route.”

“Secondly, the task of discharging the packets of Window will not be an easy one. You are hampered by your oxygen tube, intercom connections, the darkness, and the general difficulties of physical effort at high altitudes. Despite these hardships, it is essential that the correct quantities of Window are discharged at the correct time intervals.”

The officer “went on to explain that Window was considered so important the Air Ministry was already developing machines to ensure a steady flow from the aircraft. In the meantime, however, it was up to the airmen themselves to maintain a machinelike regularity when dropping the bundles down the flare chute.”


Unfortunately, the dropping of “Window” did not exactly work out as well as visualized! The long strips of foil got tangled, especially at high altitude, and sometimes blew back into the plane, filling the interior with strips of foil that hampered the crew’s visibility . . . oh Lord, this was hilarious!

btw: Is there any system stupider than the new WordPress block system, which won’t let self indicate that the previous paragraphs are a quote. And if you try contacting WordPress customer service, they will tell you to e-mail. She really doesn’t know why they had to change the old system, when no one complained. And they applied the new system without giving anyone a heads-up. Who’s in charge of decision-making over there?

Anyhoo, they are a quote from pp. 74 – 75 of Inferno.

Stay cool, because self isn’t.

The New Yorker, 1 February 2021

A subscription is expensive, but is so worth it.

Self saves all the back issues in a huge pile, and now and then, when things calm down a bit, she picks an issue from the pile to read.

The one she picked today is dated 1 February 2021, meaning shortly after Biden’s inauguration.

For all that Trump tried to trash America’s democratic governance, his fellow-Republicans had been doing damage to the idea of government itself long before he became their standard-bearer. The extreme belief in small government that so many in the G.O.P. have espoused . . . That attitude got a big assist from Republicans in the Senate who have successfully wielded the filibuster — the mechanism that requires a super-majority of sixty senators to move a bill to a vote — to block progressive legislation and prevent even the discussion of, for example, a public option for health care.

— Margaret Talbot, The Talk of the Town

“espoused” without an ounce of sincerity, self might add.

The system of health care in California is: if your income is lower than a certain level, your health care is shunted off to MediCal. And God help you, because none of the doctors self has been seeing for the past 20 years accepts Medi-Cal. She’s scared to ask WHICH doctors accept Medi-Cal. She’d rather stick with the doctors who know her medical history. Which means she still pays through the nose, her Medi-Cal card means nothing. But that’s better than the alternative, which is being dead.

Stay safe, dear blog readers. Stay safe.

Cee’s Fun Foto Challenge (CFFC): Natural Light vs Man Made Light

Here’s the link to this week’s Cee’s Fun Foto Challenge.

Self loves natural light. She will never not use natural light, even at night. Which means, since she has very shaky fingers, that night shots present quite a challenge.

Last night, there was the most unusual moon. Round as round, but with all kinds of silvery light behind it. Self tried to take a picture from her yard, but her neighbor heard and came out, too. Then she was no longer alone, and she hates being in the backyard at night, crouching under a bush, wondering if someone’s listening to her every move.

So, here were her shots. The last one was from the kitchen window, which has very dirty window panes. Plus a dirty window screen.

Stay safe, dear blog readers. Stay safe.

The End of Life

I have a friend whose elderly mother lives with her and is driving her crazy. Her mother was once a talented artist, an intellectual with myriad interests. Now, my friend says, “she gets up in the morning and makes a cup of coffee and she’s so slow, doing it. I mean, I just watch her sometimes to see how she can possibly be so slow. Then she sits at the kitchen table and talks about what might be for lunch. I just can’t stand it! All she talks about is her cup of coffee in the morning and the weather and what her next meal will be. I really wonder . . . is there any meaning to the end of life?

I’ll Be Seeing You, p. 193

Gah. This is a depressing book. The author’s final reflections are “How young and strong and beautiful they were” and she remembers telling her mom, “I’ll miss you.” (To which self is tempted to say: HA. HA. HA.) To her readers, she says that her parents “belonged to each other more than they did to us.” (Imagine! Incredible!) The last page talks about love and blah blah.

Stay safe, dear blog readers. Stay safe.

Things About Sandman Slim

Things that are cool about Sandman Slim:

  • He is Nephilim.
  • He has a flaming sword called Gladius (like a light saber, but cooler).
  • He has PTSD from being in Hell.
  • He can go anywhere, anywhere in the world, as long as he can find a shadow.
  • His ride is called the Hellion Hog.
  • While in Hell, he developed a taste for Malediction cigarettes.

Things that are not cool about Sandman Slim:

  • Janet
  • Janet
  • Janet again
  • Just, in general, Janet and their lack of ambition. She works in a donut shop. (This does not seem like a “transitional” phase.) She explained to Sandman Slim that she is against binary pronouns — he/she. He must always refer to them as “they” or whatever.
  • Janet is tiresome. They are the type of woman who likes their men to rescue them. Notice I have to submit to calling Janet “they/them” because that is how they want Sandman Slim to refer to them. And they are mixed up. Did self say already how weird they are?
  • They belong to a club where people find sexy ways to commit suicide, such as rushing straight across a freeway during rush hour traffic. To get into this club, Sandman Slim must show how adventurous he is by killing a vampire. He does it handily because of supernatural ability. Also because of flaming sword. Mostly he just does it to impress Janet. Which is lame, boring. Because they are boring.

Anyhoo, self is reading fast now and hopefully will get to her next book, a memoir by Elizabeth Berg, about aging and how we all must go through it, blah blah blah. Hopefully it will NOT be depressing, because nothing’s worse than reading a book about aging and being depressed. Also, it’s about a real-life couple who have a great love, and sometimes it’s depressing to read about that.

But oh, it’s such a gorgeous day. And oh btw, she edited a story and sent it out. Her story’s about exploration, and discovery, and about how a one’s character can pretty much dictate the arc of one’s life, and when you get to the end, do you say, What’s next? Or do you say, What was that all about? Or do you say nothing.

Stay safe, dear blog readers. Stay safe.

After Parkland

WILL WE EVER LEARN?

March for Our Lives, March 2108: Courthouse Square, Redwood City, California:

This generation of kids has been through the wringer. How many of them, self wonders, had to start college on zoom?

Stay safe, dear blog readers. Stay safe.

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