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I was calmly reading a review of what seemed like an interesting book, The Fear Factor, about the abnormal lack of empathy that characterizes some humans, so that they have no compunction causing pain and terror to their fellow beings. The author, Abigail Marsh, a psychologist and neuroscientist, goes into the subject and has an interesting thesis to offer. However, she then opens up into a more general discussion of human behavior, and I was charmed by the following quote:

"Describing the extraordinary evolutionary change that enabled mammalian mothers to feed their young with milk, she writes: “Imagine if you one day discovered that you could shoot hamburgers out of your armpits at will. That’s basically how incredible lactation is.”

HAHAhaha! That certainly livened up my morning commute! I kept my arms firmly DOWN at my sides, in case any errant hamburgers might be squirting out.

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Burglar, banker, father

My father loved the poems of Emily Dickinson; quoted them often, so that those poems are twined in the hearts of his children. One of them was in my mind yesterday.

I never lost as much but twice,
And that was in the sod;
Twice have I stood a beggar
Before the door of God!

Angels, twice descending,
Reimbursed my store.
Burglar, banker, father,
I am poor once more!

The mother of a close friend of mine died recently, and it was a sad bad time for her. For me too, not that I knew her mother so well, but that she was a part of my life, as the parents of your friends often are.
In the midst of life we are in death.
But in the midst of death we are in life!
Yesterday I got two joyful messages from two friends–both new grandparents, both so happy to welcome this new soul to the world. These two new humans were born on opposite sides of the Atlantic, both are hale and hearty, and both bring such happiness to their families.

Welcome, little ones! And farewell to the woman who had lived on this floating world for so long, almost a hundred years.

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The other day as I plodded down the escalator–GOING HOME AT LAST! -the station suddenly burst into song. “Plinketty plinketty plinketty” sang the speakers. What ghastly fresh hell was this? Then, the train roared in, I got on and forgot all about it.
Except, the next evening, and the next, and the next, there it was, that offensive noise. What deranged buffoon thought this was a good idea? Perhaps Metro has a Department of Irritating the Customer Even More Than the Loony ‘Schedule Adjustments’ Already Do?
Finally, it maddened me to the point of complaining to the station master–and just as I finished my polite but heartfelt statement, up trotted another elderly lady who loudly disagreed with me, saying that she LOVED, LOVED the music.
Sighing, I retreated to the bench to await my train. “Plinketty plinketty plinketty” sang the speakers, and I silently ground my teeth in rage.

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Hollywood Razzle Dazzle

While listlessly trolling through the entertainment options on the various services, I noticed that Academy award winner La La Land had appeared amidst the thronging contenders–and in a moment of unwarranted optimism, clicked.
BLAM!
We’re in Los Angeles! A freeway, clogged with thousands of cars, honking, beeping–and then, one woman starts singing, gets out of her car–AND EVERYBODY STARTS DANCING!

High jinks!
Well, medium jinks actually.
Slipping towards low jinks, even.
The music is unmemorable, the dancing is merely competent, the costumes uninspired.
But wait, perhaps it was just my jaded point of view–stop being such a KVETCH, old lady!
So (despite all temptations to move to other stations) I doggedly kept watching.
The ladies, really, quite lovely! The young man quite handsome! Plus, he plays the piano!
So, the young couple, finally together, are on a hill with the city lying before them, all magic and twinkling lights! A song is building! Our young hero twirls on a handy lamp post–!
And alas, having foolishly invited the deadly comparison with Singing in the Rain, the movie sinks like a stone.

Ryan Gosling is a likeable lad, but he is no Gene Kelly.
Sigh. The music so pallid, the dancing so uninspired. This is Hollywood? How are the mighty fallen.
Really, for a shot of pure brilliant joy, just watch Singing in the Rain. It may be 65 years old but it has that wonderful youthful happiness so lamentably absent from La La Land.
Back in the 50’s, dear friends, Hollywood was truly dazzling.

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I remember reading a story once about someone who forced himself to watch a bunch of gritty John Wayne war movies to convince his TiVo that he was a Manly Man–even though he had watched Pretty Woman. TiVo had made its own conclusions, and had been showering him with romantic lady flicks.
Well, Pandora is another thing altogether–it seems to be trying to BEND my mind towards its own preferences. Pandora will make you a so-called radio station out of any song you identify as sort of template. So, say you confess to a tendre for Chopin’s Piano Concerto #1 in E Minor, Pandora (for a slight monthly fee) will then regale you with other music that its labyrinthine logarithms indicate are similar to that charming piece of music.
All is well! Music fills the air!
But bit by bit, other music slips in and all of a sudden Pandora is playing an instrumental version of The Music of the Night from Phantom of the Opera. Eh…?? Something of a winding tortuous path to get to Andrew Lloyd Webber from Chopin.

Well, they both composed for musical instruments, I suppose. Violins featured in both pieces of music.
But I am not powerless in this! A quick click on the Thumb Down icon, and BOOM, Pandora is obediently playing Chopin again, head deferentially bowed.
However, as time goes by Pandora slyly starts interposing other music, music which I like, do you see–but which eventually will lead to Andrew Lloyd Weber.
Or even worse–to BARBRA STREISAND.
This has happened.
So I find I must be ever vigilant, ready to clamp down without mercy.
For this aggravation I pay $54.89 a year.

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August

The air today was horrid muggy–like having a hot and sweaty hand clasped around your face. Disagreeable, very. But—FRIDAY! So, I left work a little early, to do some shopping and then consider whether a Pina Colada (SO 1970s!) or a Strawberry Daiquiri (SO 1980’s!) or a Dark and Stormy (SO 2016!) would be the best drink with which to celebrate the evening.

HOWSOEVER.
Some sad person decided that today would be a good day to jump in front of a train, and though I of course sympathize with her desperate grief and despair, I will own that one could wish that she had chosen a method that did not discommode thousands of commuters.
But how shameful of me to even think such an unsympathetic thought! Poor fellow human! Who, apparently, did not in fact succeed in her project of self-immolation.
So there’s that.

Also, it turns out that sitting in a well chilled train with a book in hand is not the worst way to pass some time on an oppressive summer afternoon.
So there’s that.
Anyway, I eventually arrived at the station, boarded the bus and made my way home. The sky was ominous with louring clouds–huge storm on the way! As soon as I got home I grabbed shopping list and drove off in haste to grocery store, to get shopping done before apocalypse.
A flash lit up the car dashboard! Was it lightning, announcing the deadly storm?
No, it was that DAMN TRAFFIC CAMERA.
Sigh. Can’t win for losing.
But here is the good thing about today: it is my dear sister-in-law’s birthday! So, Happy Birthday Claire!

May the traffic cameras never see your car and may the rain clouds miss your celebration!

PS. In case you’re wondering, the pina colada won the coveted Which Drink Is Most Lovesome Prize.

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While topping up the litter box I happened to notice some text on the bag: Instructions. ‘Cleaning out Solid Waste and Clumps every day, proper disposing of, blah blah blah’–and— ‘WASH OUT LITTER BOX ONCE A WEEK WITH SOAP AND WATER’.
Well, knock me down with a feather.
You know how many times I’ve washed out a litter box with soap and water?
That would be…. NEVER.
Image result for victorian cleaning ladies
In related news, you are probably wondering how often I clean my coffee machine–twice yearly, monthly…eh?
Well, NEVER is once again the winner over here in Bethesda.
I often think about doing it though, so there is that.

Emptying and cleaning the fridge?
Ah. NEVER is clearly on a winning streak here.

Still, I make the bed every day, so I think I get points for that.

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