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Forget Match.com or eHarmony.com. It’s time to create a new website to connect with a compatible mate. Forget those “walks on the beach.” Tell us what magazines you have in your bathroom (or by the bed). This could tell us more than your answers to a personality quiz.

This thought came about at the lunch table with my son and his employee. I mentioned that I tried to cut back on magazine subscriptions, but my mail box is still choked with them: Wired, Writers Digest, Oxford American, Garden & Gun, Prevention, First Line, The Florida Writer and NRA magazine, to name a few.

My son says, “Well, I have Playboy, Maxim and several biking magazines.” His employee named ESPN, some hockey magazine and another cycle magazine. I happen to know my other son reads Wired and NRA magazine because he takes mine. My daughter has her nose buried in one book after the other and I don’t think reads a lot of magazines. Her books run the gamut from action thrillers (her favorite) to literary books.

Reading choices don’t tell you everything. You still can’t know what wonderful fathers my sons are from their reading material, or what a strong, lovable person my daughter is, but you can certainly get an idea of interests they invest their time in.

Perhaps my view is skewered by the past. When I met my husband he worked as a librarian at the Navy base in our town. He read every history book he could get his hands on. In later years he added action thrillers, reading at least two novels a month. OK I do still have a stack of Playboys he saved over the years along with general aviation magazines–all telling something about his personality and experiences.

So, go to your online dating sites, if you must, but when you meet, ask him/her what they read. Of course, if they look twenty years older than their picture and four inches shorter or taller, ask to see the subscriptions.

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By coincidence I have been reading “Lincoln Lawyer” between updates on the Casey Anthony trial for the death of her daughter. The fictional book has begun to feel like an overlay on the live drama on my TV.

Haller, the protagonist in the book is a defense lawyer, a jail house lawyer, if you will. He hangs around the lockup with his bail bondsman friend as those charged with crimes are brought before the judge. They have many repeat clients and it is rare to represent an innocent one. The fear Haller lives with is that he will not recognize an innocent person, cop a plea and be complicit in sending that person to prison. I won’t spoil the book, or movie, for you. Haller lives for the big money client, the “franchise”, with a case that goes to trial and generates a big income for him. He finds it.

As I switched from trial watching to reading another chapter, Haller begins to look more and more like Jose Baez, Casey Anthony’s attorney. You would think Baez would not fare well with the comparison my mind was making, but you would be wrong. I believe in our system of justice even with mistaken incarcerations coming out all too often as results of the Innocence Project, a team that works to free those wrongly convicted. Everyone in this country deserves a good defense, guilty or not. This is the heart of our justice system. Those attorneys who choose to spend their days defending the accused at the risk of burning a hole in their own souls by association with scum are doing the dirty work of our justice system. They have my gratitude.

Sure I scream at the TV when Baez puts on a client obviously slanting his testimony toward the defense, who is paying him. I cringe at some of the stretches in credulity that are presented as fact in order to create doubt in their client’s guilt. But that’s his job. As slam dunk as it looked opening day for the State, this is a circumstantial case. All Baez’s team must do is create reasonable doubt in one juror. Will they do it? And if they don’t will Baez worry that he has let an innocent woman go to jail or die? When this is over, will he be back at the lockup as another night’s suspects are paraded before a judge? Or will the Casey trial be a “franchise” in the lingo of Haller, and one that keeps on giving?

Everyone I know in the Orlando area was praying they would not end up on this jury. Everyone I know is now playing juror in their mind. It is impossible not to. But it is not up to us to decide if another person lives or dies because of the tragic death of a precious little girl. Nor do we have to hand our business card to suspect after suspect at the next bond hearing. We don’t have to live and wallow in that world because other people have chosen to. Thank God! And justice for Caylee.

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Honor your grocery bagger on Memorial Day? Maybe. A couple of weeks ago I remarked to the gray haired gentleman taking my groceries to the car that it was surely hotter than advertised. He said this heat didn’t compare with living in a two man tent in full gear when it was 110 degrees in there. I stopped and really looked at him. He went on to explain he was in Special Forces in 1957 and parachuted into many countries and many weather conditions. By then I had forgotten about the parking lot heat, soon to be relieved in my air conditioned car. I was watching his eyes light up as he described jumping time and again from airplanes.

“The earth keeps moving toward you, and you are floating,” he said. Because of that bagger and others like him many living on that earth below are free–and so am I.  Thank you to all the unsung heroes we look past every day. You are the best.

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I’ve learned a thing or two about choosing books in the three months I’ve owned my Kindle—or it has owned me. Very catlike is this little device. It sleeps as much as you will let it, even as it tugs your thoughts to the page (or pages) it holds for you, waiting—waiting until you give it the equivalent of a scratch behind the ears and bring it to life. One you’ve flipped that little switch Kindle has your undivided attention.  Your whole (new) library lies in your lap. If you are one who reads multiple books at a time, you find you begin to do this on steroids.

There may be good reason for switching from book to book on Kindle, especially if you’ve downloaded a lot of freebies or 99 cent books, and here’s why. You read a few reviews of a book and it sounds pretty good, Pretty good is enough to hit the “one click” button if it’s free. How bad can it be? I’ll admit I haven’t gotten books with a lot of misspellings as others have, but some have broken very basic principals in writing. You have to wonder how they got on Amazon. Yes, this is early e-book era and yes, they are free or cheap, but supposedly an editor or critique group at the very least has read them before they made it this far. The sad thing is that some have good stories and characters and I might have really enjoyed them had not POV ping ponged back and forth so freely that I didn’t know who was thinking what. Then there were fairly prominent characters flimsily developed.

Several of these experiences have been with Christian lit. Now you don’t know they are Christian lit until you get into them in most cases. I am a Christian and the characters’ actions seemed natural to me even as they stood out because I rarely see characters in mainstream literature doing or thinking as these do. “Invisible” by Lorena McCourtney falls in this category. I thoroughly enjoyed her self-appointed senior investigator Ivy Malone. She was endearing and daring, a real fun read. I will not name the book I forced myself to finish (the POV gone wild book) because I am hoping for better ones from this author. Her plot was interesting, as were most of the characters.

Even as I read the last word of my favorite blind download I was asking, “Was this Christian lit?” and perhaps that’s the best compliment of all. I suspect the title, “The Dirty Parts of the Bible” will attract a wide, curious audience: They won’t be disappointed in this humorous novel set during the Great Depression. The humor wanes a bit during the odyssey Tobias is forced to take in desperate times. He is son of a fundamentalist preacher who questions all he has been taught and gains insight from the unlikeliest of characters. Sam Torode has written an unforgettable novel I suspect will do well.

You can’t go wrong with the (free) classics. This was my chance to re-read “The Secret Garden,” last heard when my second grade teacher read it to the class. I have since learned that every child in Texas apparently had this novel read to them in school. I was just as engrossed today as I was then, and probably learned the lessons the author intended even better. There is also Poe, Twain, London and so many favorites there for the taking.

I’ve even downloaded something called “Anywhere Abs,” which gently prods me to exercise my abs on the road or anywhere. Of course, I have to open it up, get on the floor and sweat.

For reference I have a dictionary, familiar quotations, the Bible, and Kindle Users Guide and Shortcuts—so far.

Kindle is changing the way I entertain myself. When the daily TV schedule shows few or no shows I enjoy, instead of disappointment I see a chance to open that new download or continue with one I am reading. In waiting rooms I open one of several books with short pieces, like “Stupid American History.” The rest of the time my Kindle sits there in its little red cover purring like a kitten—or is that me?

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Raise your hand if you look forward to putting away Christmas decorations. Raise your hand if your decorations fight you while going down. I didn’t think so. You know that disgusting commercial where food fights the person with the sensitive stomach, slapping his/her face with vengeance? That commercial plays in my mind as I try to put away my outside wreath and small tree today. Except instead of becoming horrified, as the actors do, my acid-free belly shakes like a bowl full of jelly. I feel so stupid laughing maniacally alone in the garage slipping a wreath into plastic bags as it lights up with stored solar power.

I pull myself together, stash the still lighted wreath on its shelf and return the small tree to its box. It, too, suddenly comes alive with piercingly bright LED lights. Last year I called these zombie lights, but they are way too much fun for that moniker. For turning my dark, cluttered space into a twinkling, garish, fun garage for a day each year, let’s call them Vegas. They don’t mean any harm – I don’t think. . .

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2010 in review

The stats helper monkeys at WordPress.com mulled over how this blog did in 2010, and here’s a high level summary of its overall blog health:

Healthy blog!

The Blog-Health-o-Meter™ reads Wow.

Crunchy numbers

Featured image

A Boeing 747-400 passenger jet can hold 416 passengers. This blog was viewed about 5,100 times in 2010. That’s about 12 full 747s.

 

In 2010, there were 41 new posts, growing the total archive of this blog to 336 posts. There were 34 pictures uploaded, taking up a total of 27mb. That’s about 3 pictures per month.

The busiest day of the year was February 1st with 100 views. The most popular post that day was No. 1 Song on Day You Were Born.

Where did they come from?

The top referring sites in 2010 were facebook.com, en.wordpress.com, mail.live.com, mail.yahoo.com, and klarfamilyalbum.blogspot.com.

Some visitors came searching, mostly for little jesus, anhinga, florida caterpillars, green polka dot shoes, and 1 song day you were born.

Attractions in 2010

These are the posts and pages that got the most views in 2010.

1

No. 1 Song on Day You Were Born March 2009
3 comments

2

Mary Had a Little Jesus December 2007
3 comments

3

Nature Article September 2006

4

Green Polka Dot Shoes May 2007

5

Best Used Books – Best News! July 2009
6 comments

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I advance my calendar every day, but none is so satisfying as when we go from December 31st to January 1st. I swing that magnetic ball on a string slowly back to the beginning – January, and place the other ball on “1.”  It begins its 365 day trek all over again.

I gave away the operating method of the calendar above, I’m sure, but you would be surprised how many look at it and ask, “How does it operate?” In a technological world this calendar is the lowest of low tech. Perhaps its futuristic design tricks you into believing there must be some mysterious way it moves through the year. No. Just me.

At this lame attempt at a New Year’s blog, I’ll add one story that always comes to mind this time each year. “Dick & Jane” readers were how I learned to read many years ago. The only story I remember was about a character named Nancy. She was one of the gang in her neighborhood and I was as upset as her friends when Nancy announced she was moving. The friends were upset to see her go and threw a beautiful going away party for her. The following day the moving truck backs up to Nancy’s house and loads everything as her friends watch with sad faces. Then it drives two doors down on the same block and carries it all into her new home.

I’ll never forget the feeling of relief, though I realized Nancy had taken advantage of her friends a little. Everyone had enjoyed a wonderful party and good wishes among friends, the move had come and gone, and nothing important was going to change all that much—kind of like the new year. Have a happy one and visit me often in the same old neighborhood.

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I urge you to read the Five Days of Christmas Prayers from a favorite blogger. If these don’t capture your feelings, you are out of the mainstream.  Prayer #4 brings you down to earth, while #5 puts it all in prospective. (I realize there are two #4’s. I am referring to the one on Dec. 25th.)

http://cheles.wordpress.com/

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It was a simple idea. My son and I were at Sam’s for Christmas desserts, so why not fill his prescriptions there? His usual pharmacy had been out this morning of all three of the prescriptions from his pain management doctor at MD Anderson Cancer Center where his recent surgery was performed. One was to reduce inflammation, one for pain and another for breakthrough pain. J had decided not to fill the latter one. Sam’s had only the lower dose pain pills in stock, and only 37 of those. If he took those, he would have to get another prescription for the remainder. So we decided to go to Wal-Mart and get the proper quantity. Only Wal-Mart closed the pharmacy for lunch just as we arrived. So we went to the Publix up the road. They were out of all the pills. By this time the Wal-Mart would be open, so we circled back, got in the long line. They, too, had none of the prescriptions. This was beginning to look crazy.

Surely CVS, a stand-alone drug store up the road would have them. None. Nada. None of the three were in stock. Possibly another CVS could have it, the pharmacist said. So we drove to another CVS. Do I have to tell you they had none? If you have been counting, we covered six drug stores and one twice. The most encouragement we had was, “Check back in a few days.” J has only a few pills left. He only yesterday began feeling more industrious and able to concentrate on things other than pain. Christmas is two days and his sons are coming in four.

He was exhausted and fell asleep on the couch while I watched the ABC news. It was then I realized we had a lot of company across the country today. “Critical U.S. Drug Shortage” was the title of the report. Cancer drugs, blood pressure, surgery drugs, even drugs used in lethal injections are in short supply. Why? Some are no longer being made because they were not profitable, others had plant issues. Government can’t force a company to make a drug. If they decide to stop, they stop. The Philadelphia Inquirer ran this article December 12, this month. http://www.philly.com/inquirer/business/20101212_Critical_U_S__drug_shortage_worsening.html

As I researched this, I can see that the problem has occurred earlier in the U.K., Canada and other countries. Did no one see this coming? Is this Big Pharma’s push back from the push to insure more generic drugs?   So many more thoughts are running through my head here, but I am worn out from a day spent trying to fill a simple prescription.

J goes for a blood draw a MD Anderson tomorrow. Will the hospital pharmacy have the medications? Hospitals reportedly don’t always  have the proper drugs for surgery or chemo, so I won’t get my hopes too high. I just have one question: how could we reach this point?

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Our Thanksgiving dinner spread the length of a couple of tables near a stand of moss covered oaks and cypress. The thought of not sitting at a table with china and silverware at first seemed odd, but then I thought back to the first Thanksgiving. Our setting was much more in tune with the Pilgrims and Indians. This arrangement had an unexpected bonus, too, the chance to meet new people.

The camper in the next site saw the bald eagle as I was moving closer to get a photo. When it flew back into the trees he thought he saw where it landed, so we moved farther into the grove as he told me he had never seen a bald eagle in Florida. He was in his thirties, olive skinned, and his dark eyes lit up at such a sighting. Unfortunately we didn’t see the eagle again. The only birds above us were a flock of buzzards. They didn’t mind having their picture taken.

Do you have any idea how much you can learn about a person in a few minutes while you walk back to camp?

“See that small tent?” he said, pointing to a dark green, small pup tent by the larger one. I’m working on a design for a bear proof tent. That one is much stronger than our large, commercial one, but not strong enough.

“My next one will be made from high tensile strength airplane cloth.” This is where he got really excited. “With that cloth you can make a hole only if you really hammer something into it, and then to rip it takes 600 pounds of tensile strength.”

I took it word for it that that was really strong.

I asked what he did when not designing bear-proof tents. He had been a pilot for a cargo company before the economy went down. Now he buys and sells cars. That led to a discussion of the economy and presidents’ effect on it. We were on opposite sides of the political spectrum, but discussed the influence of Obama, the Bushes, Clinton and Reagan, agreeing on some points while remaining a chasm apart on others.

As we neared our camps I wondered about his wife, still sitting in her camp chair. Did she have these conversations with him—or with strange men she wandered into the woods with? And was she hot sitting there wrapped from head to foot in a long garment with a scarf around her head? So yes, you can learn a lot in a short walk in a campground, but you can also end up with a lot more questions than answers.

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