Been There, Done That

commentary on many different thoughts

Month: August, 2014

After This Weekend

I, on the other hand, am looking forward to Tuesday morning, when I will wander over to the local masseur and recover from the stress of five days spent on my feet.

Recap of fascinating events of the weekend will appear tomorrow.

Decatur Book Festival

Something else to do this Labor Day weekend if you’re in Atlanta or within a reasonable distance of our city.  The Decatur Book Festival (in, I believe, its 15th year) is one of the biggest of its kind in the country.  Joyce Carol Oates is the keynote guest of honor, and there are dozens of local and national authors who do readings, sign autographs, do panel presentations, and, in general, answer questions from people who are actually capable of picking up a BOOK!

My one regret is that this festival conflicts every year with my previous commitment to DragonCon.

If you have no interest in science fiction or fantasy, or if you are poor of purse (the DragonCon tickets are not cheap), get on the MARTA and head on over to Decatur for several days of literary enjoyment.

DragonCon Starts Today

I’m working security for the Art Show again – we meet all sorts of people from all walks of sanity.

This year, they’re figuring on 75,000 paid attendees.  If you are in Atlanta and have nothing better to do, take the MARTA (for heaven’s sake don’t even think about driving – or parking) to Peachtree Center Station, walk to one of the hotels and sit in the lobby.  It’s a people-watcher’s Paradise.

Centerpiece class 005

Did You Know?

Did you know that Pizza Margherita was created to honor the Empress Margherita, wife of Victor Emmanuel II of Italy?  The colors red (tomato), white (mozzarella) and green (basil) are the colors of the Italian flag.

Margherita herself is buried in the walls of the Pantheon in Rome.

Rome one 040


Happy 84th Birthday Mr. Connery!


19th Amendment

Today, we celebrate Women’s Equality Day by honoring the 94th anniversary of the passing of the 19th Amendment to the US Constitution, which gave women the right to vote.  1920 was the year of victory.

The battle started (officially; it had been noised about for years prior, sponsored by no less than Abigail Adams herself.  She regularly reminded husband John – you’ve heard of him – “not to forget the ladies” in his nation-making endeavors) in 1848 with the Seneca (New York) convention on the rights of women.  It was a hard and sometimes brutal fight for rights which, a large majority of the population felt were unnecessary.  Why, after all, should a woman want the vote?  Her delicate little brain is way too delicate to handle matters like politics.

That being said, please remember that this is an election year.  Mid-term, yes, but election year nevertheless.  If you have not registered to vote, get your delicate little buns out and do so immediately (registration closes 30 days before the election).  If you have registered, good for you – now get a newspaper, get on line, or turn on the tv and educate yourself on your candidates, and, whatever else happens:

GET OUT AND VOTE!!  A good many of your sisters worked hard so that you could.


Finally got all my shots for the projected trip!  The Hepatitis A shot was nothing (I’m an 11-gallon blood donor so far, so the tiny little shot needles don’t bother me much).  I had a choice between oral and injected typhoid vaccine and opted for the shot (get it over with quickly, rather than a week’s worth of pills …) The typhoid shot was as I remembered – nothing at first, then a sore arm for a couple of days.  But that too went away, and here I am, all shot up.   Which brings a trip down Memory Lane:

We grew up in the Foreign Service.

Uganda 1964

We therefore did a lot of travelling, and rapidly came to the conclusion that going anywhere meant getting an array of shots (like yellow fever, cholera, typhoid, typhus, etc.).  There was one lovely time that I remember in detail.  We were in line at some clinic awaiting our turns.  We were in the 6,5 and 4 year-old range or close to.  So Mother had 3 little ones in tow, standing in line for a kid’s least-favorite experience – shots.  We had been bribed with an offer of ice cream if we behaved and did not make a fuss or otherwise disgrace ourselves. Directly in front of us in the line was this big old guy, a sailor.  He must have been all of 19 or so, but definitely old.

Anyway, we’re waiting reasonably quietly as the nurse walks up to the big guy with his syringe.  He takes one look and is promptly flat on the floor.  Being practical, the nurse gives him his shot while he’s down and helpless, and then waits until he revives before shooting the three of us.  We, having been bribed and being experienced with shots, whimper a little but make no other fuss.

Mother smirked.  We got our ice cream.

Point to Ponder

More on Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire:

“Democratic states are most jealous of communication of the privileges of citizenship; monarchies or oligarchies willingly multiply the numbers of their free subjects. The most remarkable accessions to the strength of Rome by the aggregation of conquered and foreign nations, took place under the regal and patrician – we may add, the Imperial government.”

Interesting concept.  Carried further, one begins to realize why open borders can be a bit problematic.

Comments appreciated.

A Thought On What To Do

I am currently reading Gibbon’s Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire while working out on the elliptical.  Nourishing mind and caring for body at the same time!

A passage struck me.  Gibbon describes how during the reign of Augustus, Roman citizenship was conferred eventually on anyone who had performed services for the Empire, by the practice of “admitting the most faithful and deserving of the provincials to the freedom of Rome”.  Early on, it was the magistrates at the end of their term of service; but as these offices were annual, in a few years they circulated round the principal families.  Those provincials who were permitted to bear arms in the legions, those who exercised any civil employment, and those of special talent “were rewarded with a present [Roman citizenship] whose value was continually diminished by the increasing liberality of the emperors”.  But, Gibbon concludes, the gift of citizenship did bring substantial benefits, even diluted by liberal award.

Which brings me to:  we have a problem with illegal aliens in this country (statement of fact).  Many of these individuals are able-bodied, looking for a chance to better themselves and their families (statement of fact).  Why not do what was done during World War II and offer the able-bodied a streamlined chance at citizenship?

A good many refugees from war-torn Europe arrived in this country looking for haven, among them, my Father.  These individuals were given a choice:  drafting, with the promise of immediate citizenship in exchange for military service for a  specified time, or deportation back to where they came from.  Why not apply the same standards now to the able-bodied?  Our tax dollars provide medical care and welfare benefits for many as it is;  why not provide a process whereby these individuals can earn citizenship through service?  If language is an issue, a good drill sergeant will fix that in nothing flat.  The drafted individual would earn a salary, provide insurance for family (which, otherwise, we’d be paying for anyway), learn the language and a skill, and, as a benefit, earn citizenship.

Comments?  Thoughts?

Viva Les Nuns!!

OK, OK, it’s neither Latin nor Spanish nor any other language known to man, but hey:

This morning’s paper ran an editorial praising, of all people, nuns!  The op-ed piece begins “In an age of villainy, war and inequality, it makes sense that we need superheroes.  After trying Batman, Superman and Spiderman, we may have found the best superheroes yet: Nuns!”

The article cites a recently-published book by Jo Piazz, “If Nuns Ruled the World”.  “They don’t hide behind fancy and expensive vestments, a pulpit or a sermon.”  She points out that nuns are at the forefront of education, healing, and caring for the underprivileged. Unlike other religious, nuns are in constant contact with people of every stratum of society.  There are plenty of formidable nuns whom even warlords don’t want to mess with.  And we’re not even beginning to consider Mother Teresa here.

The nuns I knew in my grade-school years definitely fit this pattern.  Sister Lena taught gym class and would have made many a Marine drill sergeant proud.  My favorite TV show, Castle, boasts an Irish cop who defies a ruthless assassin by saying that he spent 12 years in Catholic schools and nothing the assassin can do will phase him.  This character also shows a healthy respect, in one episode, for a nun who is brought in as a witness to a murder, and who rapidly reduces him to fourth-grade status with a few well-chosen words.  Yes, it’s done for comic effect, but still it works.

I suspect that the warlords to whom Piazz refers were raised in Catholic schools by nuns with backbone, and were therefore hard-wired to respect these formidable women.  And the women who became those nuns learned backbone by developing survival skills in what is otherwise a man’s world.

Nice to hear praise of the praise-worthy.