Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Midweek Musings

Just to prove how old I am, I will admit that once in first grade I took part in a bombing raid drill. It was very scary, but I do find myself wondering what good it would have done us to duck under our desks, since by then the weapons were nuclear. Is there some advantage to being evaporated under your desk as opposed to sitting at it? Maybe this is why we never had another one. It was very terrifying as a six-year-old to hear that strange siren, even scarier than a regular tornado siren, and then have to dive below my desk. This was at a Catholic school, so maybe they were behind the times since most people who remember these drills are a generation ahead of me. Still, the Cold War continued on through the 80’s yet we never did another drill. Had they realized the futility of hiding under a desk from a nuclear warhead?

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Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Super D@mn Holy

The other night I was talking with Richard Bonomo, Kathbert, and Luxuli when the subject turned to personal holiness, and Luxuli said something about people who are “super d@mn holy.” We all found that hilarious, and Kathbert said I had to write a blog post with that title, so here goes. How do you know when you are super d@mn holy? Is it like Zen enlightenment, when if you have to ask, you haven’t achieved it? In my experience, the further I progress in the spiritual life, the worse of a sinner I seem to be. From what I’ve read of the lives of the saints, that is a pretty common feeling, so the closer you get to super d@mn holy, the less holy you feel. Therefore, it seems likely that if you feel close to super d@mn holy, you must have a ways to go. Not that I am close, by any means, but my guess is that I’m closer now than when I was younger and more smugly sure of my own holiness. So here’s my assessment: if you know for a fact you are not holy at all, you are probably right. If you are working on your spiritual life but feel like you have a long way to go, you are making good progress. If you are sure you are super d@mn holy, it may be time to take another look at yourself.

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Monday, November 28, 2011

Thankful for Time Off

I hope you had a great Thanksgiving holiday break. Mine started well, when the Packers beat the Lions after Bad Guy Suh got thrown out of the game. If you missed it, let’s just say you don’t usually need to slam a guy’s head into the ground three times while trying to get back on your feet. The Lions seemed to be outplaying the Pack at first, but they got a LOT of penalties and lost a lot of yardage, and once they started playing nicer, the Pack wiped the floor with them. Maybe there is a lesson about playing nicely for the kiddies in all this, or even for politicians.

We had a smaller crowd at Thanksgiving dinner this year, only sixteen, but it was wonderful to have Rosa Peligrosa come visit from the West Coast. Too bad A-Fooze was unable to make it from the East Coast. Friday morning a few of us had breakfast with Rosa Peligrosa, then I delivered a cuddly rosary which was for a baby boy and was very masculine-looking, hunter green with a black Our Father bead. Ma Hat is still making them on commission, and she will happily make them whatever color you request. Then a small group of us had Thanksgiving Part II.

Saturday Tiffy came to town and helped me bake the light cookie dough recipe from 1942, which tasted a little like scones. It was really good and not too sweet. Now I have to decide which flavor would be better for the cookie exchange at work next month. Then Tiffy and I went to a Baroque music concert to hear some music free from the tyranny of equal temperament, and mostly in minor keys to boot. So lovely!

Yesterday for the first Sunday of Advent I actually made it to the Lutheran church and had some coffee there (Reformation Roast), then I had a cup of tea at Rich’s house, and then I met the Rosary Ladies at a coffee shop and had some Mexican hot chocolate, so I was well-caffeinated. Luxuli had a project for her music theory class, so Kathbert and I helped her with that after yet more Thanksgiving leftovers and more tea. Now I am back to work and will have to exercise like crazy and eat almost nothing to make up for this weekend!

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Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Construction Guys

Did you ever want to trade jobs with someone? For example, my view is being blocked by a new building going up, and I love to watch the construction guys. Sometimes they saw holes in the walls and sometimes they ride around on things that look like zambonis. Now I am too scared of heights to want to ride a zamboni nine stories up, but it still seems like a fun thing to get paid to do. When the weather is lovely, then I really envy them, but they are also out there when it is cold or rainy, although one day when it was snowing they all seemed to have the day off. One day they all left at 3:00 as if their shift was over, but other times they work long after dark, using floodlights. I wonder if they ever look at my window and wonder what the person behind it does, and if they wish they could trade places, but I doubt it. Presumably they are not afraid of heights, and if they love being way up there, then they are probably super happy… plus they get paid! Pretty well, from what I hear. It is easy to idealize any job that is outdoors, but of course it is always possible that they wish they had desk jobs. After all, people always seem to want what they do not have.

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Tuesday, November 22, 2011

I Hab a Code

Whud? I cad hear you. By ears are sduffed ub. How ab I?  I’b good. A code? You cad dell? Baybe I’b a liddle sduffed up. Add hoarse, yes, I dode usually zound ligue dis. Dode worry, I wode breed on you. Do you hab a gough drob? My droad is gillig be. Dangs! Dad’s all I hab to zay dooday.

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Monday, November 21, 2011

Lutheran Cathedral Cookbook Potluck

Saturday night Richard Bonomo and I went to a potluck at Lutheran Cathedral of the West, and I brought my 1942 cookies, which were a big hit. What I hadn’t realized is that it was a Lutheran Cathedral cookbook potluck, so we were supposed to make a recipe from their brand-new cookbook. However, the parish had created a cookbook previously, and it just happened to be in 1942, so then everyone thought my cookies were from the original cookbook so I actually looked cooler than everyone else, not more clueless. Rich, of course, was the man of the hour because of his speech defending their church. There was a raffle in which everyone seemed to win except for Banjo Player’s husband and me, and a Lutheran Cathedral trivia game that our table did terribly on, since we were either not parishioners or relatively recent ones. What did we not win? The chance to have our photos taken while wearing paper chef hats and holding plastic spoons! So you can see what a disappointment that was. What I really was disappointed about was that the bus buddy who gave me the 1942 cookie recipe, who is a member of Lutheran Cathedral, injured her knee and so was not at the potluck. I was imagining the look on her face when I told her where I got the recipe!

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Saturday, November 19, 2011

1942 Cookie Recipe

Just an update to my Military Cookie post: I did actually try making the cookie recipe for dark dough. The dough was really sticky and hard to work with, but the cookies turned out pretty well, especially when frosted using the recipe also included. I did not make military shapes but just used a wine glass to cut out circles, which I then decorated using my copper-color food coloring and copper sprinkles. The sweetness of the frosting recipe offset the dark, strong flavor of the molasses cookies. I liked them, but because the dough was so difficult to work with, I am going to try making the light dough recipe to see if that would work well for the cookie exchange. I would give the dark cookie recipe three stars out of five, because it tastes good but is a lot of work to deal with. It is worth making once just to see what cookies were like in 1942, which is a lot less sweet than modern cookies.

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Friday, November 18, 2011

Cuddly Rosaries in Any Color

Ma Hat has decided she is not going to make any more Cuddly Rosaries unless people commission them. She says they are fun to make, so feel free to commission one or two or however many you like. They are $21 and can be any color you like. Here is what her most recent commission said:

It's a great toy that makes NO noise :)

Contact me if you would like to commission Ma Hat to make a Cuddly Rosary.

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Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Christmas Cookies This Year

We are doing a cookie exchange at work again, and just today a bus buddy gave me this ad from 1942. Nothing says Christmas like cookies shaped like bombs and tanks!

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Monday, November 14, 2011


I don't know who to give credit for this, but Hardingfele sent it to me to post on the blog, so I am.

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Friday, November 11, 2011

Misadventures in Music: Baroque Eye Doctor

Hardingfele requested that I blog about a misadventure yesterday, which wasn’t so much a misadventure for me. The two of us were planning to attend a talk on the eye doctor who did surgery on both Bach and Handel, and since I had come to work early for a meeting, I left a little early to get to the talk on time. Hardingfele, who had told me about the talk, then sent me an email after I would have left normally saying she couldn’t make it, was I still going? Meanwhile I went to the talk, which was very entertaining, but which did not have much to do with Bach or Handel. They were only mentioned briefly. It was mostly about the career of this eye doctor. Hardingfele says this is the misadventure I should blog about today, but I’m not sure if she means that she missed it, or that it had so little to do with music. Anyway, it was a good talk except that some of the descriptions of eighteenth-century eye surgery were very cringe-inducing. I’m glad I had my eye surgery in the twenty-first century when we have Valium and antibiotic eyedrops and lasers! It is a wonderful thing to be able to open my eyes first thing in the morning and see what time the clock says.

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Thursday, November 10, 2011

Misadventures in Music: Greeting Card Blues

Fourth in a series of musical misadventures.

When I was in high school, I had a crazy civics teacher who was entertainingly easy to confuse. One day someone took the mechanism out of a musical greeting card and stuck it to the ceiling of the classroom, where it continuously played “Happy Birthday to You.” Our teacher was a little hard of hearing so at first he didn’t notice, but eventually he became aware of music emanating from… somewhere. He asked us if we heard it too, but we all denied it. He nearly went crazy searching for the tiny mechanism, and it used up quite a bit of the morning too. (This was a summer school class, so it went much longer than classes during the year.)

That teacher did have some good stories. He kept promising to take us to the courthouse to watch a trial, which he never did, but at least he told us about trials he had seen. One day he took his morning class to a personal injury lawsuit, where the defendant, a large corporation, had a slick, big-city attorney and the plaintiff had a small-town guy like from a TV show, in a jacket and bowtie. It was very entertaining, he told us, but the afternoon class was sitting in on a murder trial, so he warned them it would probably be a lot of boring forensic evidence. Instead, they were cross-examining an eyewitness who got so tired of the questions from the defendant’s attorney that she stood up, jabbed her finger at the defendant, and said, “I know what I saw! I saw this son of a $@#* attack her!” So apparently murder trials aren’t always boring.

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Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Misadventures in Music: Instrument of Peace, Man

Third in a series of musical misadventures.

When I was in first grade at Catholic school, we went to music class once a week. One day the music teacher told us we had an instrument that was part of us, did anyone know what it was? The other kids were throwing out random guesses: “Drums? Trumpet?” I thought of the plaque my parents had on the wall of the St. Francis prayer that begins, “Lord, make me an instrument of Thy peace,” so I guessed, “An instrument of God’s peace?” The music teacher just kind of stared at me for a moment, then she said, “Yes, that’s true, but I was thinking of a musical instrument.” She meant our singing voice. But that’s the kind of kid I was; when Sister Mary Pat was trying to teach us the difference between “there” and “their,” I immediately thought of a sentence in which neither seemed right, so she sighed, went to the blackboard, and wrote “they’re.” “I didn’t want to bring this up today,” she said, “but I guess I have to.” I must have been one of the reasons teachers have such high rates of alcoholism.

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Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Misadventures in Music: The Capricorn CD

Second in a series on musical misadventures.

Once I received a catalog in the mail full of all sorts of New Age things, and I was most intrigued by CDs for each sign of the zodiac. There was no explanation of what sort of music was on the CDs, other than that each one was specially formulated to appeal to that sign of the zodiac, so I called the company. You would think I had asked them what they made pretax in the previous year, they were so secretive about it. The person I talked to repeated what the catalog said, that each CD was specially formulated to appeal to each sign of the zodiac.

“Yes, but what sort of music is it?” I asked. “Classical? I like Baroque but not Romantic. Should I assume all Capricorns feel the same?”

The gentleman on the phone said that he would have to ask and get back to me. I never did hear from him, and upon further reflection I am guessing the CDs were all New Age music that was supposed to, in some vague way, be oriented toward a particular sign of the zodiac. I was not curious enough to order the CD, but to this day I still wonder if I actually would have liked the music on it, and if not, could I have gotten my money back? And would I have had to provide a birth certificate to prove I am an actual Capricorn who didn’t like their CD?

Tangentially, I would like to commemorate the passing of Smokin’ Joe Frazier by wondering why so many boxers are Capricorns. Not just him, but George Foreman and Mohammed Ali. OK, that’s three, but they are the only three boxers I know. I wonder if Smokin’ Joe would have liked the music on the Capricorn CD?

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Monday, November 7, 2011

Misadventures in Music: The Vivaldi Haters

This week on Famous Hat: a series about my misadventures with music.

The spring that I was eleven, I made a shocking discovery: a piece on one of my parents’ records that was attributed to Bach appeared on another one of their records attributed to Vivaldi! What could be going on? The Bach record did include this mystifying phrase: “Bach often borrowed themes from inferior musicians.” First of all, there’s borrowing a theme, and then there’s simply changing a violin concerto into a keyboard piece. Secondly, were they trying to say that Vivaldi, one of my favorite composers ever, was inferior?? This required action in the form of a strongly-worded letter addressed to “The Vivaldi Haters at XYZ Records.” Despite my annoyance, I wrote the note on floral stationery and ended with something like, “Peace, and have a good day.” I never received a reply, and to this day I wondered if anyone actually read my letter or if they all figured they didn’t hate Vivaldi, so the letter wasn’t addressed to them.

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Thursday, November 3, 2011

Pumpkin Carving Fuel

They say a picture is worth a thousand words, so instead of having a wordy post today, I thought I would just show this picture Rich took of our pumpkins right after we had carved them. I think the evidence of our liquid refreshment speaks for itself.

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Wednesday, November 2, 2011

Halloween Photos

Here are some photos from Halloween, courtesy of Kathbert. First is a shot of our pumpkins: hers, Rich's (which has Maxwell's Equation on it), and mine.

Here is a close-up of Kathbert's pumpkin, showing its ears:

This is Rich's house, with the post ghost before I put sunglasses on it:

Here I am as the Popcorn Ninja with the post ghost:

Here are the pumpkins lit up with a creepy tree branch shadow:

Here is a close-up of Kathbert's pumpkin lit up:

And here is a close-up of Rich's with Maxwell's Equation (Rich's photo):

And here is a close-up of my pumpkin:

And finally, here is Rich's porch with the lights and jack-o-lanterns (second photo courtesy of Rich):

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Tuesday, November 1, 2011

Popcorn Ninja

I hope my 5.6 loyal readers had a great Halloween. I spent mine at Richard Bonomo’s house, giving out candy with him and Kathbert. I was the only one who dressed up, wearing my kimono with clouds on it and an obi wrapped around my head. Rich put up the Halloween lights he accidentally bought, thinking they were Christmas lights. Our three jack-o-lanterns looked spooky in the shadow of a pine tree. Rich and Kathbert even made the post that will someday be part of the railing on Rich’s front porch into a ghost wearing sunglasses. The stage was set and we were ready to give out candy. Rich and Kathbert took photos, so I will hopefully post some soon.

Since Rich lives in the ‘hood, the kids who came to his house were mostly black or Hispanic, and they were all very polite. No problems in his neighborhood with “commuter” trick-or-treaters like in Hardingfele’s neighborhood! As I was happily handing out candy to one group, a boy of about eight said, “You’re a popcorn ninja!” As soon as they were gone, I asked Rich and Kathbert what he meant by that.

“Is it because I’m white?” I wondered.

“No, it’s because the clouds on your kimono look like popcorn,” said Kathbert.

Then I felt very lame, seeing possible racial slurs where none were meant. I also thought what an awesome title Popcorn Ninja would have been for this blog. Just a reminder that sometimes the obvious and benign answer is the correct one, after all.

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