Thursday, December 1, 2011

Thanksgiving in Prague

After a 12 hour trip home including changing planes in Amsterdam and stopping in Bangor,Maine to refuel (how does a plane not know how much fuel it needs?) the very unpleasant customs office snarls at us "Prague, that's pretty far to go for just four days". Thanks, Sherlock, would never have known that.
To be honest I was not looking forward to the trip based on a combination of not being with my cousins on Thanksgiving,touring a city in the winter with 22 other people and going so far in such a short time. However, I was wrong. Yes, I know ,that's a shocking occurrence. The trip went incredibly smooth and everyone had a great time. Prague is a beautiful city. The twisting cobblestone streets,vendors selling mulled wine in the town square,and a fairytale castle,are so untouched by time that it looks fake. At any moment you expect to see them carting away the facades or Cinderella to pop out of the castle. We all loved it, though I do not recommend visiting in the winter. Its grey,cold and damp. Ken calls it Iron Curtain weather!
A few highlights, and low-lights.

Although I hate US airways and even tweeted something nasty about them before leaving they probably didn't deserve my getting sick for an hour all over the plane. Sorry USair

The Four Seasons in Prague has the kind of service that makes you want to move in, forever. When you leave your(free)newspaper laying around the maid neatly refolds it. Your loose change is gathered up and put into a lovely paper box. Sewing kits are delivered on a silver tray.

There is a ton of fascinating,though sad,Jewish history. We had an amazing Jewish tour guide for all 4 days-Sylvia of Whitman tours. She was incredibly knowledgeable, fascinating,opinionated and bossy.She drove some of the group mad but I thought her strong personality and very politically incorrect opinions were part of the experience. When you get to talk to European Jews you realize they have lived through the history the rest of us have only read about. Both her parents survived the camps only to be arrested and persecuted again under the Communists.

We decided to go to the main square Saturday evening for the lighting of the Christmas tree. It seemed like a tree lighting in Czechoslovakia would be a once in a lifetime experience.Fortunately, it will be.I get very claustrophobic in crowds so we decided to go to the outer edge of the square. We got about halfway across the square when the crowd of several thousand people merged together trapping us without even space to turn around or raise our hands. I'm short in America and in Prague, land of incredibly tall blond people, I am even shorter. After a few "I can handle this moments" I realized I could not. By some miracle I was able to weave my way out to the edges again in what seemed like the worlds longest 15 minutes. The tree was nice, thought!
So, its always good to be home but I do miss dashing to the square every afternoon for hot wine and the doughnuts cooked on stocks over hot coals!

Sunday, October 23, 2011

OWS: what's the worst that could happen?

A lot of people keep saying to me, what's the point of the Occupy Wall Street movement. What will it really accomplish? So I thought, what's the worst that could happen?
Lets say in a few weeks, or a few months, everyone gets bored or tired or simply cold and goes home. What will have been accomplished?
Well at the very least several thousand people, most of them young, will have had the life changing experience of getting involved. They will have had the experience of devoting their time and energy to something outside of their social life, their work life, their computers. They will have had the experience of volunteering to try and make a difference in the world. And no matter what happens with OWS their lives and their attitudes will have been changed. When they look back on this time what will stand out won't be the cold and the dirt and the bad food. What they will remember will be the thrill of working together with other people for something bigger than themselves.
In a year, or five, or ten, someone will come to them to ask them to 'help out'. And whether its to take on a pro bono case, or volunteer a few hours at a food bank or help out with an elementary school fundraiser, I bet they say yes.

Go here to donate food or money.
Or CALL at 202-544-9355 to make a telephone donation.

Sunday, October 9, 2011

the 99%

I’ve been fascinated and mildly thrilled by the Occupy Wall Street movement. It started pretty small with the variety of fringe elements and demands that reminded me of my old college Anarchist organization. If you think an Anarchist organization sounds like an oxymoron I can assure you that the ‘meetings’ were exactly as you imagined.
However, the Occupy Wall Street movement is now growing into a real force. There are thousands of people joining in including unions and clergy and the movement is spreading to cities all over the country. And the national media is now taking them seriously.
No matter what your politics every American should get a thrill of seeing a real, spontaneous, non-violent grass roots movement emerge in this country. It’s the truest reflection of what is best about America.

Can such a movement really wake Congress up to the fact that they are there to protect homeowners, teachers, firefighters, credit card users, not large corporations, banks, and billionaires? Well similar movements ended the Vietnam war, segregation, the British occupation of India… Hey a girl can dream.

Want to know what they stand for? Essentially, the 99% of Americans who make less than $593,000.
We are the 99 percent. We are getting kicked out of our homes. We are forced to choose between groceries and rent. We are denied quality medical care. We are suffering from environmental pollution. We are working long hours for little pay and no rights, if we're working at all. We are getting nothing while the other 1 percent is getting everything.
Want to help? You can go here to donate. Just don’t bring it up at Thanksgiving with your hedge fund manager cousin!

Tuesday, August 30, 2011

best and worst

Best line of the year...
In response to a comment that living together in a studio apartment would be difficult because " its such a small space, my mother replied, "Honey, marriage is a small space".

Worst marketing idea ever...
A calender given out by the Holocaust museum in Washington as a fundraiser. Monthly delights include photos of boots and sunglasses left behind from victims. Really makes you look forward to the next month! Who's idea was this and why do they still have a job?

Best song line heard in a while....
"You put yourself between a bullet and a target"

Saturday, August 6, 2011

You get what you voted for...

What a shamble these tea party folks are creating. I almost feel sorry for John Boehner having to try and control them. What's that expression, like wrangling cats? What I don't feel sorry for is the folks that voted for them and are now getting financially screwed as the economy tanks, borrowing gets limited and their savings dwindle. But really what did people expect?

Imagine interviewing a candidate for a job. He tells you that he has no experience, thinks the 'company' is horribly run, has no interest in learning how the system works, or working well with any of the other employees. He doesn't even care if he keeps the job. Would you hire this guy? Probably not. Yet America elected him to Congress. Unbelievable.

Tuesday, August 2, 2011

Oh Canada

Promise no endless travel itinerary details. Just some random thoughts on our, Ken and my, trip to Banff, Jasper and lake Louise in the Canadian Rockies.

First, it's true. Canadians are incredibly nice , everyone in every store, restaurant and hotel is super sweet, helpful, cheerful and polite. Too polite to mention how screwed up our country looked that week. Watching the horrendous behavior of the self righteous tea partiers on the news each evening made Canada seem more and more appealing each day. Except for the weather. It's really cold there. Banff was having a huge heat wave when we visited- temps shot up to 72 degrees! And this is mid July. The people are great but they've got to warm the place up.
Second it's unbelievable how many people from all over the world come here to visit. At every street corner, lake and waterfall you could hear French, German, Spanish and Japanese all being spoken.Who knew the Canadian Rockies were a must see for the whole world?

Like all good vacations I learned stuff about myself. While looking at mountains and lakes is cool it's really the waterfalls that thrill me. Hiking in the woods, I can skip. Apologies to my mountain climbing loving cousins. I did think of you often, though.
I also learned that 6 straight days of nature is too much for me. I do better with a blend of city and nature. After so many days all the beauty blends together. Not to mention that all those woods and wildflowers left me with a killer sinus headache. Endless thanks to my acupuncturist who saw me on a Sunday.

Last, but not least, despite signs, billboards, highway postings,and flashing warning signs all insisting that elk ,caribou and most definitely grizzly bears were all over the highway, we didn't see any. Not a single stinking bear. Obviously this whole Canadian bear thing is a giant lie. Simply false propaganda to make them look more appealing. I'm starting to wonder whether they really do have national care. Has anyone actually met a Canadian doctor?

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

One step forward, two steps back...

If you have had the recent pleasure of talking to young women in their
20s you are,I am sure, delighted with how absolutely incredible they are. Amazingly smart,ambitious,and confident, they just seem to have it all together. However, in a recent conversation with several young college-age women I was shocked and bummed to find them in a not much better place in their relationships with men than we were ,years ago, or probably where our moms and maybe even our grandmas were. They are in relationships where they feel unappreciated,insecure, and where they put in 90% of the effort and compromise. Behavior they would refuse to accept, understand or shrug off in their jobs ,or from their girlfriends or family, they endure without complaint from their men. Agh! What can we tell them to change their ways, to demand to be treated better? Or will be be having the same conversation about our granddaughters?

Wednesday, April 6, 2011

Bill Moyers at Penn

Once again had the wonderful experience of accompanying my D to an Annenberg lecture, this one with Bill Moyers. His career has included press secretary to LBJ, best selling author and over 30 Emmys for his work with CBS news and his 40 years on PBS.
Listening to him talk is like having history come alive, especially with his amazing LBJ stories. His voice with it's wonderful folksy accent is just as wonderful in person as on TV and his mind is just as sharp. Here's some of the best of what he had to say...Anything in ( ) is mine!
-News is what people want to keep hidden, the rest is publicity. ( Makes me realize how little of what I'm getting is really news)
-Truth comes from hearing contrasting views and comments. (Rarer and rarer in today's fragmented and polarized media. Also makes me realize how nice it is to have a president who is interested in looking at all sides of an issue before making decisions) )
-NPR offers the finest reporting in journalism today, without spin. We would be a more poorly informed public without it. (thanks to Dad who made me an NPR addict!)
-I'm a journalist because I Don't know the answers ( how wonderfully refreshing from today's so called 'journalists' who fit their facts to prove their opinions)

Sunday, March 13, 2011

this and that

Just heard that Michelle Bachman, the tea party darling, told a gathering in New Hampshire that they should be proud of being the state of the Battle of Lexington and Concord where 'the shot heard round the world' started the Revolutionary War. Too bad that was Massachusetts. Somewhere an elementary school teacher just blew his brains out.

So the boy went back to school after a Spring Break week that consisted of sleeping till noon, watching TV until 3pm, then hanging out with his friends until 3am. My suggestions/demands that he devote some small amount of that time to studying or reading or getting a jump on his school work were ignored. While it was great to see him, it's almost just as great to see him back. At least my blood pressure can go down, my hair can stop turning gray and I can sleep through the night.

Not that I needed a reason to not take a cruise. Yes, I know people love them, yada, yada, but not me. Anyway,daughter called from her ship yesterday (at $2.50 a minute) to tell us that the ship would be arriving a few hours late and she might miss her 1:15pm flight home. By the way, the ship arrived 12 hours late!
Three hours,and numerous phone calls to and from US Airways, we got her re-booked on a 7am flight the following day. Cost? The old, non-refundable flight, the new,last minute flight,the $25 baggage fee(pigs), the $150 change fee(double pigs),$22 for a sea(hogs),a hotel in New Orleans for the night, and numerous calls and texts to and from the Atlantic Ocean. Who thinks the insurance she bought will pay for any of that?
Sorry, I was away for so long!

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

My Best of Awards: The State of the Union

Loved the speech last night. Here are my fav parts

Best Shout Out: The one to teachers, and future teachers.

Here in America, it's time we treated the people who educate our children with the same level of respect. In fact, to every young person listening tonight who's contemplating their career choice: If you want to make a difference in the life of our nation; if you want to make a difference in the life of a child - become a teacher. Your country needs you.

Best Smile: Joe Biden grinning like a proud parent listening to his kid give the valedictorian speech.

Best Metaphor: Sputnik. Brilliant. Would love to know who came up with that one.
Half a century ago, when the Soviets beat us into space with the launch of a satellite called Sputnik, we had no idea how we’d beat them to the moon. The science wasn’t there yet. NASA didn’t even exist. But after investing in better research and education, we didn’t just surpass the Soviets; we unleashed a wave of innovation that created new industries and millions of new jobs.
This is our generation’s Sputnik moment.

Best Joke: The lox joke! The President made a lox joke! Unless he was implying that the Interior and Commerce Departments are getting high?

The Interior Department is in charge of salmon while they’re in fresh water, but the Commerce Department handles them in when they’re in saltwater. And I hear it gets even more complicated once they’re smoked.

Best Way to watch the Speech: While playing State of the Union bingo. You win when he says certain phrases like tough, efficient, or bipartisan. Good job Penn.