Category Archives: Uncategorized

Farewell, Dear Readers

Fakename regrets to inform you that there will be no more discussions on politics, animals, food, and books … and the occasional insect here. She has departed this mortal coil, a victim of pancreatic cancer. Her last day on this Earth was Friday, June 12, 2015 and she left while in the company of her dear friends, Brenda and Lebron.

I, Fakesister, penning this note for her, will miss the weekly sharing of solving the Saturday New York Times crossword and many other things besides. Fare thee well.


2014 in review

The stats helper monkeys prepared a 2014 annual report for this blog.

Here’s an excerpt:

A New York City subway train holds 1,200 people. This blog was viewed about 4,700 times in 2014. If it were a NYC subway train, it would take about 4 trips to carry that many people.

Click here to see the complete report.

Cars and Country Music, Part I

Go together like love and marriage, horse and carriage., as the song says, and I was reminded of just what a role cars (mostly trucks) play in country music.  Along with trains, Momma, and prison.

This is an experiment to see if I can get a video to play here on WordPress.

First World Problems (Point, Counterpoint)

First, my new wireless keyboard and mouse. I love them…except there are no lights on the keyboard. So you don’t know whether the Num Lock and Caps Lock keys are on or off, which leads to some interesting errors. Especially when you’re half awake. Why can’t I type in my password? (I have electricity. I have a computer. I know how to use it, mostly.)
My hair. I’ve had this cowlick for forever on the left side, just above my ear. A few months back, I developed an identical cowlick on the right side. And now, in its old age, the hair on the top of my head has decided it wants to part from right to left. What? Here in Fakename world, we do not do parts. The hair on the top of my head is supposed to look neat, but tousled at the same time. It is resisting my efforts, and those of my hairdresser, to do what we want it to. I’m only half kidding about the old age part. It seems that something genetic is going on. Not to mention that my hair is the wrong color now, in its old age. But it isn’t gray. (I have hair. I have a hairdresser.)
Last week I smashed my car into a concrete column in a parking garage, doing minor ($892 USD) to the rear passenger side door. I am totally annoyed. (I have a car. I know how to drive it, mostly.)
Yesterday, I suddenly remembered, for no apparent reason, this bar I used to go to with my friends in New Orleans, the first year I lived there (1992). This bar may have been called 701, in any case, the name of the bar was a number that was also its address. Every Monday, they had free red beans and rice, as do a number of bars in NOLA. And they had a jukebox. So every Monday, I would put a quarter in the jukebox and play Garth Brooks’ “Papa Loved Mama”. 1992 was the year that song came out. This bar was not a country music sort of place, but when that song came on, everybody in the place would sing along. I think they liked to see me coming, because no one else would embarrass themselves by playing it!
Yesterday when I remembered this, I wanted to post that song for one of my friends from that era, and guess what? You cannot find individual Garth Brooks songs on YouTube or even iTunes. Garth has a thing about that. I was thwarted! (Refer back to: I have electricity. I have a computer.)
Like I said, First World Problems. But these are problems I can probably solve by myself, if only by adjusting my attitude towards them.

Yankee (Or Whoever You Are) Go Home

I “grew up”, at least from the time I was around 10 or 11 years old until I graduated from high school at 17, in a small town in North Carolina called Waynesville. Waynesville is exactly halfway between Asheville, NC and Cherokee, NC, and it’s on the outskirts of the Great Smoky Mountains National Park.
Asheville is the “big city” (population 83,393 as of 2010). Cherokee is the headquarters of the Eastern Band of Cherokee Indians. The Eastern Band consists of the people who hid out in the mountains and didn’t get caught, thereby being forced to move to Oklahoma on the Trail of Tears.
I was very unhappy there. Before we moved there, I had always lived in the “flatlands” of Tennessee. I found the mountains intimidating. Today, I can appreciate the beauty of the mountains, but I still wouldn’t want to live there.
Part of it was family issues. My parents separated the year we moved there. I had always been my father’s favorite, and when he left, that left me at the mercy of my mother, who didn’t like me. For real. This is not some childish whine. The fact that my father left and that I had been his favorite didn’t help me in the eyes of my mother, but it had started long before that. According to my Aunt Ruby (the amateur psychologist of our family), when I was born, my mother was not ready to have a child, and highly resented the fact that it happened anyway. So, it’s hard to overcome the fact that what you did wrong was being born.
Still, even with those problems, I could probably have overcome them better if I had had a support system of really good friends, but that didn’t happen until I was a senior in high school, when I was already preparing to leave. I was very lonely. I spent most of my free time at the library, or at home reading.
But a funny thing has happened. I’ve developed some nostalgia for Waynesville, and now through the miracle of the Internet, have become good friends with people I went to high school with that were previously only acquaintances.
So, why didn’t I have that support system for a lonely six years or so? Part of it was undoubtedly me. I had moved a lot as a child, and was subjected to the taunts and exclusion that are the fate of the “new kid”. So I became suspicious. But even more of it was Waynesville itself.
Not only is Waynesville a small town (around 7,500 when I lived there) it’s a small town in the mountains. In addition to the Cherokee, the mountains of western North Carolina are mostly occupied by the descendants of Scottish, Irish, and English people, who had their own reasons for hiding out, and therefore had a great distrust of “outsiders”. Just like in war, natural barriers (such as mountains) provide protection, but they also prevent exposure to the wider cultural world.
Today, xenophobia is alive and well there.
I joined a Facebook group called “Remember Waynesville When…” Recently a friend did a post asking if anyone remembered the sinks in one the elementary schools there. Apparently these sinks were extra-wide, with multiple spouts, and allowed several children to wash their hands at the same time. Seems harmless, right?
But today, that elementary school is home to the performers for an international festival known as Folkmoot USA. One of the commenters made the mistake of saying the school needs repairs (apparently those sinks are still there), because it makes a poor impression on their international visitors. Incidentally, the festival only lasts for two weeks a year.
My God, you would have thought Waynesville was being taken over by aliens or was under attack by terrorists. One irate poster absolutely sneered at the idea that money should be spent to upgrade the school to “impress” international visitors. Who needs these people? Nobody comes anyway, because it’s too hot when they hold it and it does nothing for local business (well, unless you believe the State of North Carolina, which says 75,000 visitors and $4 million).
My favorite complaint was that the year the Russians were there (2007), they built a bonfire in the yard and drank vodka until 4:00 A.M. The nerve of those people!
Obviously, not everyone in Waynesville is a xenophobe, otherwise they would never have landed Folkmoot. But you can see what I was up against.

Do You Get Colder Than Other People?

Or warmer, as the case may be.
Many years ago I went for a consultation with an endocrinologist, and had to answer a very lengthy questionnaire, which he read to me. This was one of the questions. I answered, “I don’t know. How cold do other people get?”
I wasn’t even trying to be a smartass, although that’s how he took it. I just thought it was a dumb question. He looked at me, sighed, and said, “If most people want the window to be open, do you want the window to be closed?” That made sense to me, and the answer at the time was no. There wasn’t any difference, as far as I could tell, between my sense of temperature and that of other people. But that has changed.
At the time, what they were looking for was a disorder of the pituitary gland or maybe a pituitary tumor, because somehow the pituitary plays a role in how you sense temperature.
But now, yes, I get colder than other people. When they want the window open, I want it closed. When they want the air conditioning on, I want it off. And it causes a problem at work, because when I’m comfortable, other people are hot. What to do?
It turns out the owners have a rule about where thermostats have to be set. 74 degrees plus or minus 2 degrees in the summer; 68 degrees plus or minus 2 degrees in the winter. Those temps in the winter will probably kill me, but…I’ll cross that bridge.
I already wear sweaters and jackets in my office, and always in restaurants and stores.
I will live with it.
How about you? Do you get colder (or warmer) than other people?

Hair, Hair, Long Beautiful Hair

It has occurred to me recently that we humans are obsessed with hair–what color it is, how long it is, and whether we have any or not. (I threw in that last part for the men in the audience.)
Exactly what is up with that? Who cares? What difference does it make?
For ages, I’ve known women who keep their hair long, even though, in my opinion, it looks like complete crap, because their men like it that way. Well, here’s my question: why? And why would you do it anyway for that reason? Long hair is really hard to take care of, and men don’t have to trouble themselves with the issue of taking care of it.
Recently I went to see a doctor who asked me how long my hair had been short. Obviously this had nothing to do with the problem at hand, but was his way of breaking the ice apparently. This particular doctor not being big on social skills. I sort of felt sorry for him, that this was the best he could do in an attempt to bond. I bet he was really good at algebra and chemistry.
He shared that his wife was considering cutting her hair and he didn’t know how he felt about that. I told him he would get over it. (I was pretty good at algebra.)
The answer to his question was that I cut my hair short 40 years ago, when I had long blonde hair and I’ve never looked back or even contemplated growing it long again.
Now for color. My hair was blonde for ages but as I’ve gotten older, it’s darkened and I would now call it “light brown”. You could call it ash blonde I suppose, but I consider that mincing words.
But here’s the deal: I’m 64 years old and have never had a gray hair, which is without a doubt thanks to my Irish grandmother. In her youth, she had carrot red hair which only faded to blonde as she got older. She died in her early 90’s, with blonde hair. Genetics is a very weird thing.
I am inordinately grateful for not having gray hair, because then I would have to make a decision. Color it, or go with the flow?
For the men in the audience, we women don’t care whether you have hair or not. We don’t like you for your hair. Try to return the favor. It’s the Age of Aquarius.