Thursday, May 31, 2012

Tomorrow Is Take Off Day

Tomorrow, seventy-five years ago, Amelia Earhart will leave Miami to officially begin the flight from which she will allegedly never return.
"Prior to that dawn of June first, when A.E. took her silver plane up into the sunrise at Miami, she confided a secret," wrote C. B. Allen of the New York Herald Tribune. "Amelia Earhart's equatorial flight around the world was to have been her last great aerial adventure - a final fling at spectacular flying."  Amelia herself remarked that, "I have a feeling that there is just about one more good flight left in my system and I hope this trip is it." She asked that these remarks not be made public until she had completed her journey.  Of course, those who have read But This Is Different know that many years would pass before Amelia would complete that journey.
And on this date seventy-five years ago, Amelia surely took time for last minute plans. Small, almost invisible, islands in the South Pacific are hard to find -- especially if they aren't on any maps.

Wednesday, May 30, 2012

This Date She Just Wanted Time To Sit In The Sun

As the time for take off grew nearer seventy-five years ago, what Amelia Earhart wanted more than anything was time for a swim and a sun bath.  "I just don't get the chance," she was heard to remark.  Reports do indicate that she got several sun burns from sitting in the pilot's cabin of the all metal Lockheed Electra while testing its instruments and engines.  Those exposures to the sun, she was heard to say, were "... not the same thing at all as a good sun bath; I want to soak up a little sunshine, not be fried by it."  Of course, as told in But This Is Different at, Amelia would soon have all the time in the world for swimming and soaking up a little sunshine.  Until that time, though, the best she could hope for was a little time to stretch and rest.

Tuesday, May 29, 2012

She Is Counting The Days

 In Miami, Amelia is counting the days until she leaves for her around the world flight.  On But This Is Different' Island of Nani, another person is also counting the days as she, too, makes final preparations as told in

And perhaps both women are growing anxious to carry out their well planned conspiracy.
"The most effective way to do it, is to do it." - Amelia Earhart

Monday, May 28, 2012

Memorial Day 1937

It was May 30 that year and the Chicago Police Department shot and killed ten unarmed demonstrators during the 'Little Steel Strike'. History records the incident as the Memorial Day Massacre of 1937.  As her preparations to leave Miami near completion, Amelia doubtless heard the news and recalled a piece she had written when she wrote for Cosmopolitan Magazine.

No Man's Land

It is the annual Memorial Day tradition of to post this poignant song written by Eric Bogle:

Well, how d'you do, Private William McBride?
Do you mind if I sit here down by your graveside?
I'll rest here awhile in the warm summer sun;
Been walking all day and I'm nearly done.
I can see by your gravestone you were only nineteen
When you joined the glorious fallen in 1916--
Well, I hope you died quick, and I hope you died clean,
Or, William McBride, was it slow and obscene?

 Did they beat the drum slowly, did they sound the fife lowly?
 Did the rifles fire o'er you as they lowered you down?
 Did the bugles play "The Last Post" in chorus?
 Did the pipes play "The Flowers of the Forest?"

Did you leave a wife or a sweetheart behind?
In some faithful heart is your memory enshrined?
And, though you died back in 1916,
In some faithful heart are you ever nineteen?
Or are you a stranger without even a name,
Enshrined forever behind a glass pane.
In an old photograph, torn and tattered and stained,
Fading to yellow in a bound leather frame?

The sun's shining down on these green fields of France;
Warm winds blow gently and the red poppies dance.
Trenches have vanished under the plow;
There's no gas and no barbed wire, no guns firing now.
But here in this graveyard it is still No Man's Land,
Countless white crosses in mute witness stand
To man's pained indifference to his fellow man
And a whole generation that's butchered and damned.

I can't help but wondering, poor William McBride,
Did all those who died here know just why they died?
Did you really believe them when they told you, "The Cause?"
Did you really believe that the war would end wars?
Oh, the suffering and the sorrow and the glory and the shame,
The killing and the dying, was all done in vain.
For, William McBride, it all happened again
And again, and again, and again, and again.

 Did they beat the drum slowly, did they sound the fife lowly?
 Did the rifles fire o'er you as they lowered you down?
 Did the bugles play "The Last Post" in chorus?
 Did the pipes play "The Flowers of the Forest?"

Sunday, May 27, 2012

Amelia Impresses The Men

Reports indicate that one of the best times Amelia had while in Miami was when she visited the Pan American airways' international air terminal and maintenance base at Dinner Key Marina.  There she was taken for a tour of the huge hangar/workshops where the company's Sikorsky Clipper ships were taken out of the water after each flight for a complete inspection.  Her guide, W. G. Richards (the airline's chief mechanic) was captivated by Amelia and her 'amazing efficiency apparent in every department of the maintenance base ..'.  Of course, Amelia expertise at airplane mechanics will serve her well on the remote island of Nani as told in But This Is Different -  Proving herself not only as a pilot for as a woman was very important to Amelia both in Florida and on Nani.

"[Women] must pay for everything.... They do get more glory than men for comparable feats. But, also, women get more notoriety when they crash." - Amelia Earhart

A Pan American Airways' Sikorsky Clipper Ship

Saturday, May 26, 2012

Food Journal Update

In case you were wondering; Yes, the food journal is still a "thing." I just made this entry regarding my breakfast: "5/26/12, 9:30am - The best thing about having some time on the weekend is that I get to do some juicing for breakfast. And, the thing I love most about my "Ninja-3000" juicer is not how well it emulsifies leftover cheeseburgers, but the fun, frothy, beef mustache I have afterwards." - Michael Walker

Amelia Prepares At Miami's Pan Am Terminal

Seventy-five years ago, Amelia Earhart and her mechanic Bo McKneely worked with the mechanics of Pan American Airways to make sure her Electra was ready for the flight around the world.  C. B. Allen, aviation correspondent for the Herald Tribune, reported that " ... no one could fail to be impressed by the calm, unhurried manner in which Amelia went about the preparations for the flight.  She knew her stuff.. knew exactly what she wanted done."  Amelia's relationship with Pan American Airways plays a large part in another version of her adventure as found in But This Is Different at  

"The more one does and sees and feels, the more one is able to do, and the more genuine may be one's appreciation of fundamental things like home, and love, and understanding companionship." -- Amelia Earhart

On The Festival of Shavuot

Shavuot begins tonight, May 26, 2012, the sixth of the Jewish month of Sivan.  (The Feast of Weeks) marks seven weeks after Passover.  It is the anniversary of God’s gift of the Torah to the Jewish people.  
Just as Mount Sinai, where God chose to give the Torah, was not the highest or most beautiful of the mountains in the world, Shavuot is not the most exalted of holidays.  Sukkot and Passover, the other two pilgrimage festivals, last eight days each, but Shavuot is only a two-day affair.  Instead of the large, meat-centered feasts of other Jewish holidays, Shavuot is celebrated with dairy foods, especially sweet ones.  Blintzes and noodle puddings are special Shavuot favorites. 
Shavuot is often celebrated by a Tikkun leil Shavuot, a study session which begins after the festival evening service and lasts, for those who can take it, all night, until the festival morning service.  The study session may consist of prescribed passages from the books of the Hebrew Bible and medieval mystical texts, or it may be whatever a particular group decides to study.  Legend has it that at midnight, if you cease your study and go out and look up at the evening sky, you will see the heavens open, and be able to see God and the angels, also studying the Torah.
So tonight, take out your bible, or some other book of Jewish study.  Read a few passages, have a couple of blintzes with sour cream, or a piece of pie a la mode, and celebrate the giving of Torah.  And if you make it to midnight, you can go out and look up at the starlit sky, and try to see into heaven.

Friday, May 25, 2012

And Somewhere In The South Pacific Someone Else Is Making Plans

On this date seventy-five years ago Amelia Earhart is making public preparations for her around the world flight.  Privately, however, is there another woman somewhere in the South Pacific arranging for Amelia's very secret and never to be discovered landing?  Find out in the pages of But This Is Different at
And who is this woman photographed on that hidden island in the South Pacific?

Thursday, May 24, 2012

Amelia Earhart Is In Miami

Once safely on the tarmac of the correct airport, Amelia will not leave Miami until June 1.  During this stay the public preparations will continue.  The Lockheed will be checked and rechecked for air worthiness.  Charts will be reviewed and re-reviewed.  Weather forecasts will be carefully studied.  And of course, she will want to make absolutely certain that her navigator, Fred Noonan, directs her to the correct landing site on each leg of the journey to avoid another misadventure like yesterday's when she briefly landed at the Eastern Air Lines 36th Street Airport which was closed with no one in the control tower.  She taxied up, realized Fred's error, took off and six minutes later landed at the Miami Municipal Airport.  While the mechanic Bo McKnelly stayed with the Electra in a hangar, Amelia, Noonan, and Putnam went to a hotel.
Even though her navigator directed her to the closed airport, Amelia must surely have noticed on approach that the control tower was closed.  How distracted was she with her private plans, the island of Nani, and Pilapan?  The only place you can discover her distraction is But This Is Different at

"My ambition is to have this wonderful gift produce practical results for the future of commercial flying and for the women who may want to fly tomorrow's planes." - Amelia Earhart
In the photograph Amelia continues to make public plans for her around the world flight.


Wednesday, May 23, 2012

May 23 - Amelia Earhart Flies From New Orleans to Miami

Before she leaves New Orleans, Amelia sends a telegram to her navigator's wife reassuring her that Fred is only drinking milk.  History indicates that Noonan was an alcoholic subject to frequent relapses. Fully aware of his history, Amelia nevertheless chose him as her navigator.  In But This Is Different she will put Fred's fragile sobriety to her own uses.  To learn more about this, visit
As evidenced in the photograph of the Lockheed's first moments on the ground in Miami, the crowds were not yet large.  In part this may be because Amelia first landed at the wrong airport.

Tuesday, May 22, 2012

May 22 - Amelia Leaves Tucson, Lands In New Orleans

In her own words:  "The next morning at Tucson a dense sandstorm blocked our way.  But despite it we took off, leap-frogging at 8,000 feet over El Paso with a seemingly solid mass of sand billowing below us like a turbulent yellow sea.  That night we reached New Orleans ...."  The four stayed in the hotel at the Shushan Airport, constructed on a man-made peninsula in Lake Pontchartrain.  When the airport opened in 1934 its opening ceremonies hosted the Pan-American Air Races which, ironically, banned women from participating.
In the photograph is the Shushan Airport where, during her over night stay, Amelia might very well have yearned for her secret destination where another waited for her as told in But This Is Different at

Monday, May 21, 2012

Amelia Leaves Burbank Headed To Tucson

On this date seventy-five years ago and just several minutes ago (2:25 PM or 1425 Pacific Time), Amelia Earhart took off from her home field in Burbank, California, headed for Tucson, Arizona.  Crowded into the Lockheed, in addition to Amelia and her navigator Fred Noonan, were her husband George Putnam and a mechanic named Bo McKneely.  The mechanic was needed to make sure the repairs made after the Lockheed's Hawaii event were holding and Putnam because, well, he could.
History does not tell us where Amelia landed in Tucson.  There was no newspaper coverage of the landing nor are there records of her arrival and departure in the archives of Tucson International Airport or the Pima Air and Space Museum.  Viki Matthews, a spokeswoman for the Tucson Airport Authority, is quoted from the archives of the Tucson Citizen, "The only thing we can come up with is maybe she came onto a small airstrip at Ryan Field or someplace like that. There were so many airstrips and places a plane could land all over Tucson in those days."
We do know that on the ground in Tucson an engine fire caused some minor damage to rubber fittings but was cleaned up in a few hours.
Amelia, it seems, is no stranger to secrets.  To learn more about her secrets read But This Is Different at

"I lay no claim to advancing scientific data other than advancing flying knowledge. I can only say that I do it because I want to." -- Amelia Earhart
Mechanic Bo McKneely and Amelia Earhart inspect the Electra.

Sunday, May 20, 2012

Today's The Day, Amelia

Not quite confident that the Lockheed Electra was fit for the flight after the damage it sustained in Hawaii, Amelia leaves Burbank today and flies to Oakland.  She then flies from Oakland back down to Burbank.  The is a secret test run before the world watches her begin her around the world flight. She lands in Burbank at what is now Bob Hope Airport (called Union Air Terminal on this date seventy-five years ago) at about six in the evening.  Apparently satisfied that the Electra can make the trip, she goes to the home she shares with her husband G. P. Putnam on Valley Spring Lane in Toluca Lake.  Tomorrow she will officially begin her almost flight around the around.  Only she and one other person on this date seventy-five years ago know her true destination.  Of course, you can easily find it out by reading But This Is Different at

"Adventure is worthwhile in itself." -- Amelia Earhart

Amelia Earhart is at the controls and the Lockheed Electra is leaving Oakland.

Saturday, May 19, 2012

Tomorrow Amelia Takes Off -- But From Where?

The clock is ticking.  Amelia has just hours to go before she begins her second attempt - this time heading east - at flying around the world.
Me, I put off packing until the last minute and then take way too much.  To plan something like this -- something verified by history and something quite different existing in But This Is Different at, Amelia must surely be packing her suitcase today.  And come tomorrow she will doubtless locate her Lockheed Electra and begin one of the most famous journeys history has to tell.

"Preparation, I have often said, is rightly two-thirds of any venture." -- Amelia Earhart

Amelia can't over pack.  The Electra doesn't have room for much of anything besides fuel.

Friday, May 18, 2012

But Wait A Second Amelia

With just two days to go, we discover that Amelia Earhart's Lockheed Electra -- which is supposed to take off from Oakland to fly east around the world -- is in Burbank under repair.  On the first leg of her first attempt to fly around the world, Amelia left Oakland on March 17, 1937, and headed west.  Her departure from Hawaii to, yes, Howland Island, was delayed three days because of problems with a propeller hub's variable pitch mechanism. These repairs were done at the Navy's Luke Field on Ford Island in Pearl Harbor.  When she could finally resume her flight, a tire blew during take off and the right landing gear collapsed.  The Lockheed sustained significant damage and was shipped back to the Lockheed facility in Burbank for repairs.  Some blame the damage on pilot error and others on mechanical failure.  Whatever the reason, here it is two days before departure and the Lockheed Electra is still in Burbank!

"Flying may not be all plain sailing, but the fun of it is worth the price." - Amelia Earhart

Amelia's Badly Damaged Lockheed Electra 10E on Ford Island

Thursday, May 17, 2012

Amelia Has Barely Three Days Left

In less than three days, seventy-five years ago, Amelia Earhart will take off from Oakland and head east in her famous and presumably unfinished attempt to fly around the world.  The time for public planning is wrapping up.  Her secret plans can be discovered in the reading of But This Is Different

"The most difficult thing is the decision to act, the rest is merely tenacity. The fears are paper tigers. You can do anything you decide to do. You can act to change and control your life; and the procedure, the process is its own reward." -- Amelia Earhart

Amelia Earhart perhaps making her secret flight plans.

Wednesday, May 16, 2012

Only Four Days To Go

Doubtless at this time, Amelia's focus was divided between making sure the Lockheed was ready for the flight and wondering if her secret plan would actually work.  It's all there for you to discover in But This Is Different at  Step into this speculative world for a completely different story of Amelia's final attempt at flying around the world.

Meanwhile, back in Oakland, Amelia's Electra, designated NR16020, was a modified Lockheed Model 10E with a range of more than 4,000 miles, a cruising speed of approximately 190 miles per hour, and able to climb to over 19,400 feet above sea level. She had multiple modifications made to the plane so it could handle long-distance flights. She added more fuel tanks for a total of six in the wings and six in the fuselage, increasing the total carrying capacity to 1,150 gallons of fuel. Basically, she turned it into a flying fuel tank with barely enough room for her navigator. She also modified the electronic equipment, adding a Western Electric radio and a Bendix radio direction finder—cutting-edge technology at the time. These numerous modifications made Earhart’s Electra a oneofakind aircraft.

Tuesday, May 15, 2012

Five Days Until Amelia Leaves Oakland

With just five days before she begins her final attempt to fly around the world, Amelia Earhart took time out for a hair cut.  Perhaps she anticipated the thousands of fans and reporters who would meet her at each stop or perhaps she looked forward to meeting someone else on the island of Nani.  Want to know more?  Read But This Is Different and learn another way of looking at this remarkable and haunting disappearance.

"...decide...whether or not the goal is worth the risks involved. If it is, stop worrying...." -- Amelia Earhart

Speaking Of Airplanes and Travel

I'm sitting in Terminal 2, waiting for my flight to Toronto, and I've just come up with the one that will surely be my legacy: "I cried, because the airport Wi-Fi was slow, until I saw a guy stuck talking with his horrific nag of a girlfriend, because he had no internet at all." - Michael Walker

Monday, May 14, 2012

Six Days Until Take Off

Amelia has only six days until she leaves Oakland, headed east, to fly around the world.  Doubtless her public plans focus around exact routes, lodging when on the ground, maintenance of the Lockheed Electra, and keeping her navigator sober.  Privately we know from allegedly fictional account of her flight But This Is Different she is making very different plans as is the icon of the Museum of Natural History Margaret Mead.

"Anticipation, I suppose, sometimes exceeds realization." - Amelia Earhart

Sunday, May 13, 2012

At Any Rate, Happy Mothers' Day

“M” is for, “Male Seahorses,” who never get their due recognition today.
“O” is for, “Oh crap, it’s Mother’s Day again?” ~or~ “Olive Garden, here we come.”
“T” is for, “Tupac,” whose “Dear Mama” is my mom’s favorite, because she’s a little thuggish, and that’s how she rolls.
“H” is for, “Happy Mother’s Day to all moms everywhere. Most of you are pretty good, but mine’s the best!”
“E” is for, “Eww, seriously? A card and some flowers would've been just fine." - Oedipus's Mother
“R” is for, “Really glad you waited to adopt until after you had me: Your favorite.”
“’” is just an apostrophe, but it frequently gets forgotten by anyone whose mother never took the time to correct their punctuation.
“S” is for the, “Smug ingratitude” that mothers ignore 364 days a year if they want that card bad enough.
“Space” is for the moment of silence every mother should take to reflect on her abandoned dreams.
“D” is for all the “Dumpsters” you’ve ever passed without ever wondering if you made the right choice.
“A” is for my, “Adolescent years,” which you survived surprisingly well.
“Y” is for the “Y chromosome” you lack, but never judged me for having.
Happy Mother’s Day, to mine, yours, and all moms everywhere (except for celebri-tard mothers like Octomom, Snooki, and that creepy, dead-smile mom on the cover of Time who doesn’t realize that once a kid is old enough to ask for it, they’re dating). - Michael Walker

On This Day In 1937

On this day in 1937 Amelia Earhart was seven days away from beginning her second attempt to fly around the world.  Her first attempt ended in Hawaii when her Lockheed had to be shipped back to Oakland for repairs.  For the second attempt she decided to fly east instead of west.  Common wisdom tells us that the flight ended in disaster.  I know differently and so will you by visiting and reading But This Is Different.

"Women must try to do things as men have tried. When they fail, their failure must be but a challenge to others." ~ Amelia Earhart (George Palmer Putnam Collection of Amelia Earhart papers, Courtesy of Purdue University Libraries, Karnes Archives & Special Collections)

Friday, May 11, 2012

Probably Should Have Been At The Top Of The List

There's really only one reason I don't recommend that you invite me to join your assorted facebook groups. Not because I'm antisocial, or I don't play well with others. But, during my recent "hiatus," I received an invitation to join the group "The Bucket List: 100 Things To Do Before You Die," and after looking over the list, I felt compelled to leave the following comment, "Really? Out of 6,585 members, not one of you put "Yell for help" on the list?

Thursday, May 10, 2012

Beware The Basset In The Bush

Walking the family Basset Hound can be quite an adventure especially when he sticks his head in a bush.  It's never good.  Just now we were taking our evening constitutional and he stuck his head in a bush.  I didn't even have to wonder if he was hiding anything in his mouth when, with a friendly tug on the leash, he pulled his head out of the bush.  I just reached my hand in his mouth and pulled out something that greatly resembled part of a hoof.  I didn't spend too much time examining it.  I just threw it back in the bush.  So far I've pulled a couple of rocks out of his mouth, candy wrappers, hardened bread crusts, and a nail.  Yes, you read me correctly.  A nail!  Having no idea what he intends to do with the things in his mouth, I just assume no good can come of their present location and either put them in the trash (in the case of the nail) or toss them onto the hill behind the house.  So far he has offered no explanation for this really unacceptable fetish.  It's just as well. Some things we just don't need to understand.

Wednesday, May 9, 2012

Speaking of Courage

At a time when any other politician running for office would dance around even the most mundane topics, President Obama took a stand on what may be one of the most volatile issues of his campaign and spoke out in favor of same sex marriage -- spoke out in favor of social justice.

Tuesday, May 8, 2012

The Dinosaurs Did What?

We have only recently learned that the dinosaurs farted themselves into extinction.  I don't know why we didn't come to that conclusion long ago but at least we know the truth now.
Come to think of it, flatulence has played a big role in my family history also.  Okay, we didn't fart ourselves into extinction as evidenced by this writing.  However, my grandfather did get fired from one of his first jobs because of one last fart.
He was a cowboy riding the range and may have been the inspiration for the campfire scene in the Mel Brooks film Blazing Saddles.  Papa (my grandfather) and his trail driving colleagues were sitting around the campfire farting.  This type of after work activity has diminished somewhat with the advent of iphones and also with the almost complete disappearance of trail drives or for that matter cowboys.  However, I imagine back in his day there wasn't much else to do around the campfire because, believe it or not, most trail cowboys didn't carry around guitars and even if they did they probably couldn't sing all that well anyway.  At any rate, the trail boss got fed up with the farting, stormed out of his whatever (probably not his tent but maybe his bed roll) and shouted that he would fire the next man who farted.  My grandfather, never one to pass up such an opportunity, stood up and let one last good one rip.  He was immediately fired.  Such an act is no laughing matter because the trail drive may very well have been out in the middle of, for lack of a more detailed location, nowhere.
This really happened.  I know it did because my mother told me the story.
Such are family legends.

Monday, May 7, 2012

We're A Really Big Country

And I am not talking geography or land mass.  I'm talking body mass.  I just learned today that no state in the country is exempt from the obesity issue.  And that obesity is a predictor for massive health problems.  The presenter at the workshop I attended wasn't talking about no state being exempt from morbid obesity.  There is not, she said, one state where the average weight is not overweight.
I'm going to be writing more about this but right now I've got to go take a brisk twenty minute walk.

Saturday, May 5, 2012

How Do They Know?

In my comings and goings around Glendale, California, I have often passed the Kabab Way restaurant on Glendale Avenue and Acacia Street, and whenever I do, it gets me wondering.  Their sign boasts that you will not get heartburn from their food.  Well, of course I hope not.  But how can they be so sure?  I once had a stomach ailment for a few weeks and just about everything I ate gave me heartburn.  If I had eaten a meal at Kabab Way during that time, it probably would have given me heartburn.  I'm sure there are people whose insides are far more delicate than mine, and eating their kabab would probably set them off.  And if you do get heartburn from their food, what are you supposed to do?  Go back to the restaurant with a doctor's note and get your money back?

Someday, I will eat at Kabab Way, just to get the answers to some of these questions.  But in the meantime, it keeps my mind busy while I'm driving around.

Little Gestures Of Kindness

It's often all to easy to think - to believe - that what we do doesn't matter.  The next time you (or I) start thinking that way, watch this video about a volunteer fire fighter and a pair of shoes.  We matter and our little gestures of kindness matter, too.

Friday, May 4, 2012

Changing Sizes

They say that the world -- because of technology -- is getting smaller.  Except that when someone you love with all of your heart is on the other side of it, the world is unbearably large.

Thursday, May 3, 2012

The Main Thing Is That We Keep Reading

From The Huffington Post --

I recently witnessed a passionate conversation between dear friends championing the merits of the printed word over the digital word and, conversely, the merits of the digital word over the printed. Even though I love and seek impassioned discourse, I couldn't participate in the discussion because when this subject comes up, I hop right on the fence and straddle it.
As an avid reader I take pride and comfort in my library of printed works ranging from Primo Levi's The Periodic Table to Sue Grafton's methodical trek through the English alphabet. I enjoy my books. I wander from bookcase to bookcase gazing at titles. I marvel that I have read so many books and that I have so many more to read. To further complicate my fence straddling, I own a digital reader from which I frequently, well, read. I love my books. I like my digital reader.
As an author I also straddle the paper-versus-virtual fence because my novel But This Is Different is available in both printed and digital form. The format in which readers experience the speculative relationship between Amelia Earhart and Margaret Mead matters less to me than their act of entering the story's 'what if' world. On days when the digital versions outsell the printed version, I am not devastated, nor am I on days when the print version appears more popular than the digital versions. Either way, I am honored that people purchase and read the book.
The rising popularity of digital readers, according to the conversations I overhear (but in which I cannot participate because of the fence thing) is perceived by the devotees of paper as a threat to the very existence of the printed word. The defenders of paper truly care that books as we know them today not disappear. They cite a variety of observations to prove that print is more meaningful than digital.
"You don't have to stop reading when the airplane takes off or begins its descent."
"I like to underline and make notes and that's harder to do with an eReader."
"I like the feel of a book. I like to hold it and turn the pages."
"I don't have to plug in my paperback book. I can read it during long power failures."
Those are all valid points and if I were participating in the conversation I would not argue against any of them.
Devotees of the digital don't seem so impassioned. They don't seem to worry that the way they read might be putting an entire industry, an entire culture or even civilization itself out of business.
"It's convenient."
"When I go on trips I can take a lot of books with me without lugging around the actual books."
"It's fun. I read more."
Oops. I may be sliding off the fence and moving into the land of 'As Long As We Read It Doesn't Matter How We Do It.'
While I'm still straddling the matter, though, I will share some observations. My first observation: Guests in my home will know because of the books I display that, while I am not Catholic, I am a person of catholic interests. They will also know that I am a lover of the written word and hopefully will take the next step and presume that I am also a reader of the written word. My second observation: When I am a guest in a home, I can browse the books and better know the person I visit. My third observation: If it's the middle of the night and I want to delve deeper than a quick internet search into any given topic, I can have immediate access to thousands of books in digital form. My fourth observation: My home can contain a finite number of books and bookcases. Unless I rent or buy a second home just for my books, there can only be a set number of books in my home that I have yet to read. With my digital reader I can own a practically unlimited number of unread books and thus feel even more overwhelmed with the knowledge that I can never in my lifetime read everything of interest than is my current dilemma with my library of printed books. My fifth and final (at least for now) observation: Hearkening back to my first observation, by our libraries are we known. Our digital reading provides invisibility and with invisibility can come anonymity and isolation. Isolation and anonymity concern me because neither taken to extreme speaks to wellbeing.
With this writing I have abandoned the digital versus print fence to claim residence in the land of 'As Long As We Read It Doesn't Matter How We Do It' with only one caveat. For the sake of our own and for the sake of all critical thinking, caring communities, let's keep talking with passion about what we read. Let's agree, disagree, and challenge but let's keep the discussions alive. By so doing we contribute to our own survival.
Come to think of it, let's also keep the digital versus print debate going and hope that the issue is never resolved. After all, it's the conversation and not the outcome that matters. It's the reading and not the format that defines who we are individually and collectively.

by Mary Walker Baron

Wednesday, May 2, 2012

Mood Ring Puppy

She said that her dog had been getting sick lately.  So sick, she said, that the dog had required several visits to the vet.  She also spoke of her own family stresses. Her husband recently received a promotion which involved not only higher pay but longer hours.  "It's a good thing," she said. "Except that he comes home late and too tired to do anything around the house."  She added that they had been fighting on and off over the past several weeks.  "Nothing like we're getting a divorce but we have been yelling at each other.  And I feel angry much of the time."  Then she began putting the pieces together.  The dog had started getting sick shortly after the husband's promotion and the beginning of the fights.  "Oh, my!  Our stress is making our dog sick."  It was then -- because of the dog -- that they decided to incorporate immediate stress reduction into their lives.  "We stopped shouting and started talking.  We played soothing music. We spoke gently to each other."  The dog got better.  In fact, there hasn't been a vet visit for some time.  "The dog is healthier and we are so much happier," she concluded.
We visit our moods onto our dogs.  When we practice healthier emotional habits we're not the only beneficiaries.  And, as the now far less stressed woman concluded, if we can't do it for ourselves, we can certainly give stress reduction a try for our dogs.

Tuesday, May 1, 2012

Stopping Time At Social Security

Time really does stand still when you're in the Social Security office.  I know this for a fact because I entered the crowded Ellis Island like room at 12:15 and, after going through a metal detector, noticed right away that the big clock on the wall had stopped at 8:40 either morning or evening on some day or other.  For the two hours I sat waiting to beg for a replacement social security card because I had put mine years ago in a now forgotten safe place the hands on the clock did not move nor did anyone even seem interested in getting them moving.
When time stands still at the Social Security office no one cares, apparently.
I waited two hours.  Toward the end of my wait the security guards cautioned people just entering the large and completely not an empty chair crowded waiting room that the wait would be at least three hours.  What the security guards didn't mention was that the office closed at 3:30 so there wasn't a prayer of a chance that someone entering at 2:00 would ever make it up the line to talk to anyone except the security guard.
I should mention that my number was 53.  When the next number was 12 a woman just entering asked someone to shout out that she was in the restroom should her number be called.  Her number was 87 and unless she was planning on performing a major organ transplant on herself in the restroom there was little chance 87 would be called that day.
Finally it was announced that anyone waiting to ask for a replacement card should line up at window 7 and I was first -- you better believe me -- in that line.  The woman who helped me was charming, efficient, and polite.  Come to find out we share the same birthday.
Her mood, the way she treated me, and that she took the time to share with me our common date of birth made the wait seem like nothing.
And that, my friends, is the power we have when we choose positive energy.
Go for it.