Category Archives: uncategorized


Peace on Earth

Peace on Earth

Hilary and Paul - December 2015

  My daughter and her husband – Hunting Island State Park – December 2015


The Little Prince and the fox

The value of mediocrity

Each of us reserves a portion of our income for costly purchases. Typically, we’re well aware of what we’re doing. Some of the men in my extended family are gearheads. A few of my friends splurge on travel. Not a small number of people among my acquaintances, naturally, collect beautiful books. A lot of Americans are house-proud, and some are obsessed with their wardrobes.

To fund our pleasurable or righteous obsessions, we economize when we spend on the things that don’t matter as much to us. I’ve seen parents invest in sports and cut corners on education for their children. I’ve noticed people with extremely modest living quarters driving impressive cars. A devotion to healthy living and environmental conservation, for some, involves spending money that their neighbors would have applied toward entertainment or hairstyling.

In our pursuit of happiness, we permit ourselves, and certainly ought to permit each other, to decide where to cut costs. Fortunately, in the United States, there are as many sources for cut-rate consumer goods as there are for luxury goods. The variety and freedom of choice is not a problem, folks. It’s a good thing.

And yes, I do see education in the U.S. as a consumer good that many parents make great sacrifices to obtain for their children.


Want to be one of the characters: in MJB’s songs

Day 27: Trying to think of which literary character I’d want to be was giving me a headache. I almost skipped today’s prompt, but while I was watching one of my favorite old music videos I thought, Yes! I want to be Mary J. Blige.

MJB writes or co-writes many of her often autobiographical songs, and Hal Leonard Corporation publishes them in songbooks. They’re stories, and she’s a character in them. She didn’t write “One,” but there’s a great story behind it as well.

If I can’t be Mary J. Blige, then I’ll be Penelope.

BookADay-The Borough Press

Should have sold more copies: ___________________

Day 26: Seriously?

BookADay-The Borough Press

Least favorite book by favorite author: Streets of Laredo

Day 4: Larry McMurtry is the author of nearly four dozen books, so maybe he’s too easy a target for the stone I’m casting today. He’s the classic example of a distinguished author whose most famous works are so widely admired that his newer efforts are judged too harshly in comparison.

In this case, right after reading McMurtry’s novel Lonesome Dove, which remains one of my favorite books, I bought Streets of Laredo and found it oppressively dark and pessimistic. I didn’t stop valuing the author’s work, but I stopped reading it.

In Grantland, a new interview with McMurtry and his writing partner Diana Ossana shines some light through the gloom over Laredo:

In 1991, McMurtry suffered a heart attack, leading to quadruple-bypass surgery. The experience was transformative. McMurtry endured deep emotional and psychological trauma. He tried diving back into life—he literally started swimming—but then something bad happened. “I was fine for about six weeks,” McMurtry said, “and then I was standing in front of a bookcase one day and I began to feel myself vanish.”

McMurtry retreated to Tucson and holed up with Ossana. He recuperated there over a period of almost three years. During that time he finished Streets of Laredo, the sequel to Lonesome Dove, at her kitchen counter. Ossana remembered reading it and feeling the weight of its sadness.

Streets of Laredo is a mournful old folk ballad whose American lyrics might have more in common with McMurtry’s state of mind than the novel at the time he was writing it.

McMurty’s new novel, published just last month, is The Last Kind Words Saloon. I should read it.

Streets of Laredo

As I walked down in the streets of Laredo
As I walked down in Laredo one day,
I spied a cowpuncher, all wrapped in white linen
Wrapped up in white linen and cold as the clay.

“I see by your outfit, that you are a cowboy.”
These words he did say as I slowly walked by.
“Come sit down beside me and hear my sad story,
For I’m shot in the chest, and today I must die.”

“‘Twas once in the saddle I used to go dashing,
‘Twas once in the saddle I used to go gay.
First down to Rosie’s, and then to the card-house,
Got shot in the breast, and I’m dying today.”

“Oh, beat the drum slowly and play the fife lowly,
And play the dead march as you carry me along;
Take me to the valley, and lay the sod o’er me,
For I’m a young cowboy and I know I’ve done wrong.”

“Get six jolly cowboys to carry my coffin,
Get six pretty maidens to bear up my pall.
Put bunches of roses all over my coffin,
Roses to deaden the clods as they fall.”

“Then swing your rope slowly and rattle your spurs lowly,
And give a wild whoop as you carry me along;
And in the grave throw me and roll the sod o’er me.
For I’m a young cowboy and I know I’ve done wrong.”

“Go bring me a cup, a cup of cold water.
To cool my parched lips,” the cowboy then said.
Before I returned, his soul had departed,
And gone to the round up – the cowboy was dead.

We beat the drum slowly and played the fife lowly,
And bitterly wept as we bore him along.
For we loved our comrade, so brave, young and handsome,
We all loved our comrade, although he’d done wrong.

(Lyrics courtesy of Wikipedia)

BookADay-The Borough Press

Overclocked tech-enhanced brain

power on

  Photo courtesy of Ayhan Yildiz

Working online, creating patterns and connections doesn’t seem like a real job most of the time. A mind loves the rhythm and satisfaction of decoding and encoding, of creating order from confusion. It complains when the body demands a break for food and rest. Intellectually enhanced by the minute movements of fingers on a keyboard and eyes tracking symbols onscreen, the mind could stay on the job, if only the body were more resilient.

When the demand for physical relief brings work to a halt, the abrupt transition evokes a momentary revulsion, as when a vivid dream is interrupted. The disjunction is frightening and difficult to express.

To an insatiable learner, a job that capitalizes on web technology is ideal. Now that so many industries rely on the web to reach other businesses, investors, and consumers, the innovations in information technology are constant. In order to remain productive and employable, knowledge workers must adapt continuously to new methods and applications, mastering something new all the time.

The web also has facilitated the dissemination of knowledge, making it exponentially easier to acquire skills, especially of the technical variety. Simultaneously, access to knowledge enables one’s competitors, makes it tougher to excel, and increases the pressure to perform and create.

Another hour at the keyboard and the skin, already tender and scraped inside the wrists, will object. But the synapses are firing. There’s more work in the queue.