To read about F's and my London trip, start here and click "newer post" to continue the story.

Thursday, May 31, 2007

Kerry's Regrets About John Edwards

Edwards had told Kerry he was going to share a story with him that he'd never told anyone else—that after his son Wade had been killed, he climbed onto the slab at the funeral home, laid there and hugged his body, and promised that he'd do all he could to make life better for people, to live up to Wade's ideals of service. Kerry was stunned, not moved, because, as he told me later, Edwards had recounted the same exact story to him, almost in the exact same words, a year or two before—and with the same preface, that he'd never shared the memory with anyone else. Kerry said he found it chilling....

A facile liar. Nice.

Wednesday, May 30, 2007

Job search, again. I've talked to people in various places ... Florida ... Kansas ... elsewhere in Tennessee.

Why can't I stay where I am? Well, when you want to take X material and turn it into Y, and sell it, you pretty much have to have a supply of X material. If you expect to sell vast quantities of Y, so that you must run your process nonstop at a high rate, then you need a steady stream of X coming in. That is not happening. I don't see any prospect of it happening. Apparently it isn't just us, either, it's others in the industry. And I needs my paycheck.

Leaving Memphis is definitely a consideration. I like my house but I can't pick it up and plunk it elsewhere. Yes, we could move out to Cordova or somewhere, but crime is increasing there too; and my job would still be in a notoriously high-crime area.

So there it is.

Monday, May 28, 2007

Mine eyes have seen the glory of the coming of the Lord:
He is trampling out the vintage where the grapes of wrath are stored;
He hath loosed the fateful lightning of His terrible swift sword:
His truth is marching on.

I have seen Him in the watch-fires of a hundred circling camps,
They have builded Him an altar in the evening dews and damps;
I can read His righteous sentence by the dim and flaring lamps:
His day is marching on.

I have read a fiery gospel writ in burnished rows of steel:
"As ye deal with my contemners, so with you my grace shall deal;
Let the Hero, born of woman, crush the serpent with his heel,
Since God is marching on."

He has sounded forth the trumpet that shall never call retreat;
He is sifting out the hearts of men before His judgment-seat:
Oh, be swift, my soul, to answer Him! be jubilant, my feet!
Our God is marching on.

In the beauty of the lilies Christ was born across the sea,
With a glory in his bosom that transfigures you and me:
As he died to make men holy, let us die to make men free,
While God is marching on.

- Julia Ward Howe, Feb. 1862

Saturday, May 26, 2007

I have not dropped off the face of the Earth.

Been working hard of course, that's a given. Had a very nice visit with the Class Factotum again. It's funny to feel like you've known somebody forever when you've only met F2F twice - I guess that's what reading blogs gets you.

Then a little virus, not too bad but enough to keep me home a day or two, resting, which I clearly needed. And now we are embarking upon home improvement projects, again, because we need to and because we may be pulling up stakes before too long. Because I don't have much confidence in my job continuing, or in finding anything else in Memphis, and I'm not sure we want to stay here anyway. I feel funny leaving F at home during the day, with the doors locked and all, and that's just wrong. Can't live that way.

Saturday, May 19, 2007

There was an attack in Memphis this past week. A woman was bringing her 12-yr-old son home from school when she was met in the driveway by a couple of men who went into her house with her and raped her. One man called someone on his cell phone and bragged about the rape as it was occurring. That cell phone call is what helped find the perps.

There's a lot of outrage, rallies and meetings and so forth, because the rape occurred in one of the wealthiest, if not the wealthiest, part of the city. The populist(?) in me wonders if that makes it worse than the rapes that happen every day elsewhere, including to little girls in their homes and neighborhoods. But just because X group of people is apparently willing to put up with something doesn't mean Y should be, right? (And let me add that the SCLC has had signs up for quite some time trying to get people to think about not attacking each other - I drive past one every day going to work.)

There's an article in the paper today with this stupid quote from our governor, who I thought I liked:

"Ultimately we have got to get these kids out of high school, we've got to get them into college and we've got to get them good jobs," the governor said. "That in the long run is going to do as much about crime as build more jail cells."

1 - Every single person doesn't need to go to college. College isn't the new high school. Or is it?

2 - More to the point, not going to college doesn't make a person a violent thug. I went to college and I don't remember that being a turning point in my life preventing me from being a person of violence. Not having a good job also doesn't make a person a violent thug. Everybody doesn't need to go to college, but every able-bodied adult ought to be able to support himself or herself. But what in the world does that have to do with breaking into a woman's home and raping her? What?

3 - He's talking about "ultimately" and "in the long run". Ultimately, Memphis is going to consist of whoever is left after people who can have fled the city with its violent crime. What can we do in the short run, Mr. Governor?

Wednesday, May 16, 2007

It seems that Lemoyne-Owen, the historically-black college here in Memphis, will get 3 million dollars from the city over the next 3 years.

I'm cool with that, really.

What I'm not cool with is this from Councilman Rickey Peete:

"I hope that my colleagues will look beyond race and petty politics and vote for this resolution," he said.

If his colleagues were truly "looking beyond race" then a HBCU would be no different from any other school. That's not what he meant. He meant, stop being the racist and the petty politician you are every single day, for a few seconds, so you can vote for this resolution. I swear, some of the verbiage that I read about the white council people having to take would give me a stroke. Like Edmund Ford saying "sometimes you just have to bring out the sheet." I would have gotten up and walked out. Don't know how they do it.

Monday, May 14, 2007

Saturday in the park ...

Tuesday, May 08, 2007

This is Bonnie ... don't believe I've put up a picture of her.

(We have a new camera.)

Sunday, May 06, 2007

F thought of a couple more poems: The Highwayman and Lochinvar. And I bet Paul Revere's Ride is on that list.

A poem that I bet is not on that list is WWI poet Wilfred Owen's Dulce et Decorum Est. It would make an interesting contrast to "Charge of the Light Brigade" though.

Friday, May 04, 2007

Thursday, May 03, 2007

We retrieved F from school today. Because of having to drag all her stuff home from the dorm, we took both my car and R's pickup, so I have driven for 6 hours and I'm tired.

I think that's my mantra lately: I'm-tired. The new medication the neurologist has me on has a possible side effect of fatigue. I don't think my fatigue is a side effect of the medication, though, I think it's a side effect of being tired. (I like the new stuff. The tremor is definitely knocked back down. Not sure about helping the migraines, although a few times I've found myself thinking "I'm tired and mad, where's my headache?" so perhaps it is.)

It's raining, which complicates the business of getting her things in. We thought we'd wait it out, but it looks like it will never stop.

So I'm going to write a few thoughts about poetry. I read recently about a book for boys that apparently lists 5 poems every boy should know. I don't know what those 5 poems are, but I tried to come up with some myself, although I'm not big on sexism. I thought of Kipling's If, of course, and Tennyson's Charge of the Light Brigade. The latter, by the way, would be a good jumping-off point for a conversation about when to follow the rules and when to break them. There is an absolutely terrific book, The Reason Why, which tells the background story of that famous charge, and also explains how the Crimean War marked a turning point in British military history.

F thought Casey at the Bat, and of course she's right. It's a fun poem and it makes a good point about hubris. And another, serious poem about hubris is The Convergence of the Twain, Thomas Hardy's poem about the Titanic. To F's surprise, I had never run across this poem before. It's really quite something. I wonder if Hardy got hate mail about it.

And then we thought about Lewis Carroll's Jabberwocky too.

There was another poem I thought about, and I'll put it in here after I tell this story.

When F was a senior in high school, I worked with the mother of one of her classmates. This coworker told me one day that her daughter had called her, crying, because a boy had died the day before. When I got home I found F on her bed with a look on her face.

"Are you OK?"


"Did you know that boy?"

And F started crying. Yes, she knew that boy. His name was Okechi Womeodu and he was in her math class and her study hall. Okechi was in the very tough and challenging magnet school program that F was in, and in addition he missed a good bit of school to play tennis. One day Okechi had been playing tennis in the morning, and in the afternoon he had a soccer game. He didn't feel well, so the coach had him on the bench. During the game, Okechi suddenly tumbled over. His mother, a physician, ran to him; the paramedics were called, CPR was started, but he couldn't be saved. Apparently he had a heart defect; if he hadn't been an athlete, or if it had been caught and corrected, it might not have been a problem. As it was, it was a very tragic one-of-those-things.

The kids didn't know till after Okechi died that he was a nationally ranked tennis player. What they did know was that he had a smile that would light up a room. It made you feel good, F said, just to be around him. F said he was kind of a klass klown, except that he never carried it too far. If his teachers told him to be quiet, they were laughing too. In the days after his death, F told me that the kids and the teachers all were crying. The math teacher rearranged the seats, because even though Okechi's desk was empty when he was playing tennis, it was too painful to look at it and know he was never coming back. The study hall teacher, who had previously spoken to the kids only to tell them to be quiet and get their books out, talked to them at length about Okechi, and then talked to them about themselves, asked questions about their plans, and so forth; and he kept this up the rest of the semester.

At some point later on F and I were talking about the poetry of A.E. Housman, and she remarked that for her, "To an Athlete Dying Young" would be forever linked to Okechi. She said that again today. That's the thing about poetry: like all art, it's a repository for ideas and feelings to be expressed and shared and understood. It connects us to each other and to the universality of the human experience.

To An Athlete Dying Young

The time you won your town the race
We chaired you through the market-place;
Man and boy stood cheering by,
And home we brought you shoulder-high.

To-day, the road all runners come,
Shoulder-high we bring you home,
And set you at your threshold down,
Townsman of a stiller town.

Smart lad, to slip betimes away
From fields where glory does not stay,
And early though the laurel grows
It withers quicker than the rose.

Eyes the shady night has shut
Cannot see the record cut,
And silence sounds no worse than cheers
After earth has stopped the ears:

Now you will not swell the rout
Of lads that wore their honours out,
Runners whom renown outran
And the name died before the man.

So set, before its echoes fade,
The fleet foot on the sill of shade,
And hold to the low lintel up
The still-defended challenge-cup.

And round that early-laurelled head
Will flock to gaze the strengthless dead,
And find unwithered on its curls
The garland briefer than a girl's.

Wednesday, May 02, 2007

Because I am an analytical person, things that defy analysis irritate me.

We laugh at home about feng shui, and talk about it seriously too, even though neither of us really knows what it is. And we'd probably scoff if anyone tried to explain it. For example: Last year we needed to replace the hood over the stove. Also, I'd been concerned about the safety of our 24-year-old microwave. (Yes, really. They don't make them like they used to.) So we ended up buying a combination hood and microwave that goes over the stove, freeing up space and so on. The new microwave is white, the old hood was that weird yellow color they used to use (goldenrod?) and the old microwave was black and chrome. Somehow the end of the kitchen is dark to me now and it's off-putting to walk up to the counter. We'll do something about it ... as soon as we can figure out what to do.

In the course of the housework/nesting things I've been doing this morning, I've gone through and identified a bunch of clothes that need to go to Goodwill or somewhere. This is also irritating because I find things that I bought because I liked them, but somehow they never get worn. When I've put them on, I've taken them off again for some reason. I still approve of them in theory, which is why it's irritating to let them go.

Sometimes my offbeat purchases work, though. I bought a skirt a couple of years ago at the MIFA shop. It's a very nice skirt and probably ended up there because it got separated from its jacket. Kind of a spring green, longish, with a slit/kick pleat over the left shin. I tried pairing it with a couple of blouses - yuck. Couldn't wear it. Then I bought a blouse for a totally different skirt, wore them together once and saw right away that that wouldn't do. So then I put the blouse with the spring green skirt - voila! Very cute outfit. I've worn it many times and gotten compliments every single time. I'll have to take a picture of it and post it. So I'm not totally unable to shop.

But the can't-analyze-it thing also extends to clothes that I have, that I look at and am not thrilled with, but that I wear over and over. Because they fit just so, or they feel just so, or they are just right in a certain temperature. I ran across a top like this, while I was going through things, that I had been looking for because I wanted it last winter. This is the antithesis of "why are you keeping things that you don't ever wear." This is "why do you wear this so much when you don't necessarily really even like it." Ha ha.

Tuesday, May 01, 2007

Home this morning. I probably won't go in till close to noon, because of having to stay late. At least there may not be any more 14-hour days for a while. Can't do that.

Now I would like to address the issue of our buying food material from a country that doesn't allow FDA inspections. Apparently some chickens have eaten melamine-tainted food. Did anybody think this would stop with dogs and cats? I didn't.

And stuff like this raises the hair on my neck.

The agencies also said there was a “low-risk” to humans and no food recalls were expected at this time. They are uncertain how many chickens were involved, how many entered the food supply or where they went.

“We haven’t completed counting yet,” said USDA spokesman Keith Williams.

They don't know yet how many chickens ate the stuff, or where those chickens ended up, so there is NO WAY they can state that there is a "low risk" to humans. No way. Maybe there is low risk, maybe there isn't, but they can't possibly know that until they complete their investigation, so they have no business making such a statement. And define "low risk" while you're at it. This smells strongly of "placate the stupid public".

Once again: FDA inspects food producers in this country and are quite stringent in applying regulations. Why are we importing materials that enter the food chain from countries that do not allow FDA inspections?