Monday, November 29, 2004
  We Love You Arnold

Now that the election is over, the Republican party can get on with their none too subtle paving of the way for Arnold to become President. I can't imagine why. The man has hardly had a chance to succeed or fail at being Governor of California. How can anyone judge his ability to run the country?
At the moment, Arnold is ineligible to run because he is foreign born. Changing that would require an Amendment to the Constitution of the United States. The Arnold Amendment. My objections to this have nothing, and everything, to do with Governor Schwatzenegger. If there are those who feel that the Constitution needs to be amended with regard to naturalized citizens holding the highest office in the land, then they should open a dialog about it. If they feel it needs to be amended then convince me with logical arguments that the the concept needs to be fine tuned. But don't embark on this history making endeavor as the means to a specific end. What if they don't support the politics of the next person who would benefit from it?. Would they try to change it back?
I am currently not in favor of this proposed amendment. I am sure that my reasoning can(and possibly will) be picked apart by people who are much more knowledgeable than I about politics and the Constitution. A lot of it is just a gut feeling that you shouldn't change that which isn't broken. I can see the value in amendments that more closely define what is in the original document, but not in one that would negate one of the original tenets.Still what bothers me the most is the feeling that this is not prompted by the needs of a nation, but by the desires of those that would promote self interest.


Sunday, November 28, 2004
  It's a Boy

Or at least that's what they tell me. We are counting the days now til the baby's due date, instead of months. He will be our first grandchild, the first great grandchild, first nephew and first grandnephew. And we know his name will be Rhys.
It's kind of neat , this knowing ahead of time that the baby will be a boy. It has given him an identity even before he is born. Not like the old days when you went into the delivery room armed with two sets of names and a green or yellow outfit for the new arrival.
The banner at the baby shower stated "It's a Boy". There were no frilly ruffles on the outfits we all "ooed" and "ahhed" over. They had trucks and dinosaurs and sports motifs.
We have assigned him sort of a temporary personality. He isn't "the baby", he's Rhys, who will go to the baseball game with his Dad and his Grandfather and hold our hands when we take him to see all the places we took his Mom and his Aunts.
As his arrival draws closer I try to imagine him in more detail. Chances are he will be fair haired like both of his parents. And there is a better than average chance that he will be tall. Will he have his Mom's artistic eye and her musical proclivity? Will he be athletic and strong like his Dad? When we get our first glimpse of him on our computer monitor will we see images of other loved ones in his features? Will we attribute his mannerisms to his genetic make-up ?
Rhys- I feel like I know you, but I can't wait to meet you.


Friday, November 26, 2004
  Christmagiving II

Yesterday's Christmagiving celebration was most enjoyable. The family , minus Sarcas-sis and her hubby who are stationed in Japan, and one brother stationed in Italy was all together. That made 17 of us in the same place at the same time. No small feat of organization. And there was sliced turkey and stuffing as part of the buffet table. Apparently, my nephew, an Annapolis plebe, made the case to his Grandmother for the traditional Thanksgiving fare. As a growing boy, a college freshman and a first year student at the Naval Academy, he thinks about food a lot.
After dinner the cousins got out the Trivial Pursuit 90's edition and from the sound of it had a good time and a neck and neck competition. It is fun just to watch them all together. They range in age from 12(I think) to 31 and they seem have a good time in each others' company. I grew up in a very small family and I am glad my kids have this extended one. They are a particularly good looking bunch too if I say so myself. I was sorry we had not thought to bring a camera, but I am hoping to get copies of pictures other people took.
I think it says a lot that the offspring who have moved on to lives in other places made the trip home to spend the holiday with their family. I wish them all a safe journey home.


Thursday, November 25, 2004
  Happy Christmagiving*

If you are celebrating Thanksgiving this Nov. 25, I wish you Happy Turkey Day. I find a lot of joy in Thanksgiving. I enjoy the planning, the cooking,and the eating. I get to have as much of my family that I can gather with me . The daily paper is four times it's normal girth because of the ads to kick of the "Official" Xmas shopping season. What a great day.
This year we have been invited to Sarcasdad's mom's for dinner. She will be travelling over Xmas and she wanted to have an early holiday with her family here. Since family members who live far will be here for Thanksgiving it was the obvious solution. She has put up her Xmas tree and will be handing out her gifts, and we will all gather for dinner. Chrsitmas dinner. Ham and baked zitis. On Thanksgiving. I understand all the reasoning behind it, but still I am still a bit disappointed. But she has always been very good to me so if it makes her happy I'll suck it up.
However, tomorrow while you are having turkey sandwiches for lunch and turkey hash for dinner, I will be roasting that turkey and rising that cinnamon bread.


* term coined by the ever clever Sarcasmo to encompass our new holiday.


Wednesday, November 24, 2004
  Self Worth

I thought I was priceless, but apparently not. I am worth $2,118,005.22. Want to see how you tally up? Do it here.


  Eat a Hershey Bar and Call Me in The Morning

Even if it doesn't cure the cough it would still make me feel better.


Friday, November 19, 2004
  The Magic Garden

I have blogged before about local artist Isaiah Zagar and his quest to save his mosaic and sculpture garden from being dismantled. For those of you just tuning in, Zagar is known in the Philadelphia area for his mosaics that adorn the outsides of buildings, such as the Painted Bride Art Center. More than 10 years ago, Zagar's art started spilling over to an a vacant lot that backs up to his studio and living space. The lot fronts on South Street. If you are not from this area, then think of the song by the Orlons "Meet me on South Street, the hippest street in town". That South Street. The lot soon became a place to see in Philly. Tour operators often make it one of their stops.
Earlier this year, the property's owners, from Boston, wanted the artwork removed so the lot could be sold.Things looked bleak until an anonymous benefactor came into the picture. THe unnamed good samaratin has agreed to help Zagar purchase the property for the $300,00 asking price.The benefactor will carry the purchase for 2 years, and if Zagar can raise $200.000 in that time , the benefactor will put up the remainder.
Numerous fund raiser and workshops are being planned. Details can be found at www.isaiahzagar.com.
So far, passersby have donated $10,000 in coins and small bills.


Thursday, November 18, 2004
  Wisdom of the Aged

I was having a pleasant after the movie dinner with Sarcas-dad at a local eatery. Music was being played in the background, and a particular song that was played triggered this memory.
I was in the car along with one of the Sarcas-kids. She was in her first semester at college and was probably home for Thanksgiving or Christmas break. "Mom" she said "a bunch of us were sitting around just talking the other night, and a question came up that we just couldn't settle. I thought you might know the answer".
In those few seconds while she took a breath between sentences my mind raced ahead. What was the question that these young minds were debating? I pictured serious minded young men and women sitting crossed legged on the floor in a room lit only by the many flickering (yet illegal to have in dorm rooms) candles, pondering their new found freedom and the meaning of life. Are you ready for the question. Here it is.
"In Purple Haze, is Jimi Hendrix saying 'Scuse me while I kiss the sky, or kiss this guy?"
Good to know I still had some of the answers.


Sunday, November 14, 2004
  WTO

On Sarcasmo's blog, she notes that 11/20 is World Toilet Day. How she knew that I don't know but she is none the less correct. I know it is a little early to celebrate but I want to take this opportunity to laud the public toilets in Japan. The ones with the heated seats! I don't know how a country like the US with it's appetite for creature comforts could have overlooked such an amazing accessory. Actually, I'm usually just pleased if public restrooms are clean here. I realize heated seats can be bought at Home Depot. I haven't entirely ruled it out. In Japan a heated seat is just the basic model. Some of them also play music!


  Japan Trip


Japan Trip
Originally uploaded by foster photos.
This picture, was taken by Sarcas-sis on our recent trip to Japan. It was taken on a day to honor children of certain ages. To me it represents a lot of what I saw there. Traditional Japan side by side with the modern Japan.


Friday, November 12, 2004
  Signs Signs, Everywhere is Signs

This post was inspired by one I read on one of my favorite blogs. In it, the writer expresses, quite eloquently, pretty much the way I feel. There has been an almost palpable shift in the public tolerance of individual freedoms. Small events have taken on a bigger meaning to me since the election.
In Cobb County Georgia, a school board has allowed stickers to be placed in Science textbooks stating that evolution is a theory and not fact. Thankfully this is being challenged in court. I am anxious to hear the outcome. The stickers' proponents deny that this is a religiously based adjenda, but as there are no stickers about the Theory of Relativity or the Theory of Gravity I find their assertions a bit hollow.( A Scientific theory is one based on facts. Until there are facts it is a hypothesis.)
ABC offered a showing of "Saving Private Ryan" on Veterans' Day. Many local stations opted out for fear of fines or public backlash due to language and the violent nature of the film. The film about war. This despite the fact that the movie has already been shown on television. Don't get me wrong. I am not supporting violence and bad language on television. What I don't support is fear of reprisal for disagreeing with the majority.
We have heard a lot lately about he degeneration of America's moral fiber. I agree. Things have got to change. We have to teach our children to value all human life. To respect the differences of others. What we don't need is a government that legislates the way we think and punishes those who personal feedoms don't fit their blueprint for life.


Wednesday, November 10, 2004
  Fifteen minutes of Fame

I have worked in customer service for over 20 years. I've seen a lot of people wait in a lot of lines. Waiting is an art, and therefore each waiter brings their own particular nuances to the genre. Still, we can categorize somewhat. Even after all this time there is one thing I cannot quite get a handle on. Why is it that the person in line who is sighing outloud, tapping their foot, and checking their watch every 30 seconds-is- the exact same person, who when it is their turn, plants themselves firmly at the counter and hunkers in for the duration. The same person who made just slightly audible comments about every transaction they witnessed is the one who isn't prepared for their turn, is surprised when they are asked to pay for a purchase and has to root around a pocket or purse for loose change. Or for some reason decides that the person waiting on them is a long lost friend who is dying to know the intimate details of their daily life, despite the fact that there are people in line tapping their feet and looking at their watches? Why. I ask you. Why? Do they think that is their 15 minutes that Andy Warhol predicted? And in case you are wondering- I went to the Post Office today.


Tuesday, November 09, 2004
  Oh Yeah It's Ladies' Night

Here is the latest development in a story I posted about in June.


Sunday, November 07, 2004
  My Luggage Went to Vancouver & I Didn't Even Get a T-Shirt

On arriving in Tokyo we were surprised to find our name on a sign tacked up on a wall as we entered the airport. THis could not be good. A Japanese representative of the airlines told us that one of our bags did not arrive. Actually, she worded it a little differently. She emphasized that they had managed to get 3 out of 4 bags to Tokyo and only 1 was left behind. I thought at the time this was a Japanese thing but after my total travel experience with Air Canada, I think that maybe their outlook on customer service.
We wouldn't know which one didn't arrive until we picked up our luggage. We had checked 4 bags. One for my husband, one for me , and 2 containing gifts for a baby shower we would be attending. THe shower was the next day, and to be honest I wasn't sure if I would be more relieved to see my bag or the gift bags come off the belt. As it turned out, my bag didn't make it. It had gone from Philly to Toronto and then to Vancouver instead of Tokyo. We had 1 carry-on for the both of us because we like to be unencumbered when we travel. Most of that was books for The trip.
Let me tell you about my bag. Not the suitcase itself which was in poor shape anyway. Actually I wondered if it had just fallen apart in transit and that was the cause of the problem. It was the way I packed. It was perfect. I had everything I needed for a week in Japan in 1 bag. I was quite proud of it. Outfits planned to coordinate so I could mix and match. And for the first time ever I didn't panic at the last minute and stuff extra stuff in just in case I needed it,which I never do. For once in my life I did not overpack. I was proud of that suitcase. SIgh.
I learned a few things from the whole experience. One is that every woman needs a daughter. (I have three!!) My husband was sympathetic and tried to make me feel better by suggesting we would have to shop for new clothes. As nice as that sounds, first of all I want to shop when I want to. Usually when I shop out of a need, like for a dress for an occasion I can't find anything. And I didn't want to waste time we could be exploring Japan looking for clothes. Plus I don't think men get how women form an attachment to certain pieces of clothing. Like my Jean jacket that I had folded so carefully and placed on top of the other packed items. Or the boots that took me forever to find.. Sure they could be replaced, but not really.
My son-in-law, who is I think of as my son, commiserated with me and asked if I there was anything in the suitcase I needed for the immediate future. . I was thinking "everything" but really I had an extra set of clean underwear in the carry on and as we were staying with the kids, we would have access to a washer and dryer, so I just requested a toothbrush which he said was no problem as they had some.
There was paperwork of course. After 15 hours in the air and and a language barrier that was a chore but we got through it. THen there was a 3 hour bus ride to take to the kids' house. During the ride my son-in-law called my daughter. He talked to her and then put me on the phone.
She asked how I was doing and I said okay except for the missing suitcase. SHe couldn't believe this was the first she was hearing about it. She ran out to a store and when I got to her place there was 2 new outfits, new underwear, deodorant , a toothbrush and contact solution.
That is why every woman needs a daughter.


Saturday, November 06, 2004
  Thanks George W......

...for that really long line at Us Customs and Immigrations the other day. We were in Toronto waiting for a flight into the Sates. I have done my share of travelling, and I always find it less of a hassle to enter a foreign country than to re-enter my own. While I stood in the long, long line I could hear snatches of conversations.Several names were being taken in vain. Among them Tom Ridge, Homeland Security, The Patriot Act and the aforementioned , back by popular vote George W. When we finally get to the counter the agent wants to know why we are so early for our flight .Apparently terrorists like to get there well ahead of time. We had missed our original flight due to an airline screw-up.
In my recent trip to Japan I was so aware that there were no metal detectors in front of the ancient shrines we visited. The Japanese haven't encased their national treasures in glass or erected barriers around them like we have in Philadelphia.Granted they did not experience our "911" but they are certainly aware of terrorism. THey are a missle's throw away from North Korea. And there is security at the airport and other places, but it is more reasonable than the paranoia induced state we are in.


  Language Barrier

Until Sarcas-sis and her hubby, Sarcas-bro moved to Japan my knowledge of that country and it's culture was limited to TV and Movies. Using that as a reference point I was surprised to find that English is not as prevalent as I thought it would be. Now don't go assuming that I am one of THOSE Americans who travels abroad expecting everyone to be able to speak English. But it has been often touted that other countries teach a second language, often English, from early childhood as opposed to the US where it is not required til we are in High School. There is a lot of English sinage. Sarcas-sis tells me there is a law that require some things to be posted in Kanji,in Japanese using the Greek/Roman alphabet, and in English. BUt that is not the rule in every case. When face with a menu or a sign written totally in Kanji, you are just out of luck. In most other languages you can at least sound a word out and maybe get the gist of it. But Kanji, while beautiful is totally unfathomable to the Western world. Another preconception of mine was that Kanji was an old language and that most Japanese would used Greek/Roman letters, but the trains I saw people reading books and magazines all written in Kanji. It is intriguing to look at. Maybe before my next trip I can try to learn a little. THe characters appear very complicated to me and often similar to each other.
The Japanese have an interest in learning English. The Sarcas-kids actually had some English students who would come by weekly to learn conversational English. It is apparently a common practice for parents to pay for the service of having their children play with American children to sharpen their English skills. We were greeted with "Hallo" by a group of Japanese students near the hase-Dori shrine who seemed quite pleased with themselves. On the train near the shrine Sarcas-sis and I heard a young girl practicing saying"My name is" but she never managed to approach us. At a rest stop, 2 Japanese women were asking Sarcas-sis about her pregnancy. I thought they were being nice, and they were. but they were also practicing English. SHe said it happens all the time.
Sarcas-bro told me that the Japanese learn the written English language first, and then the spoken one. So often, they can understand something written easier than the spoken word.
Language barriers can be overcome. One of the funniest moments of the trip is when we got a cab for the last leg home from a day in Tokyo.Three of us squeeze into the back and Sarcas-sis is up front with the driver. We needed to get back to the hotel at Hardee Barracks. Japanese don't use street names or addresses the way we do do if the driver is not familiar with your destination it can be difficult. All the cabs we were in had these nifty GPS units in them. So if you can picture this, the driver is flipping through screens on the Gps and kind of muttering to himself in Japanese and Sarcas-sis is telling him to go to the corner and hang a right, in English. Between the two of them, we got there.


  Japanese Fashion Sense

I did notice while we were in Japan , that Japanese women are very stylish. (Japanese men, not so much). Especially in Tokyo but also in other regions we visited. Sarcas-sis said that what is in Tokyo today will be all the rage in the States soon after. One thing I don't think US women will adopt is the pointy shoe. I mean Wicked Witch of the West pointy. Usually they were high heels, but we saw pointy flats and boots as well. Some tapered to such a fine point that all pretense of your foot actually fitting up in there was gone. They actually curl up in the front like Jester's shoes. I think I may speak for all American women when I say that a shoe that makes you foot look bigger is not a fashion we will embrace.
There also seems to be a penchant for glitz and glamour among the younger women. Faux fur accents. Ugg boots and as many glittery baubles or cartoonish characters attached to you purse or cell phone as possible.
Sarcas-sis related the following story. A Japanese women does some ordering for a store on the a US Army Base. The store received a shipment of various color neon visors. Each visor had a big glittery bow on the back. THe person in charge of the store was so aghast at the tackiness of the item he didn't want to display it in the store. But having no choice, he did and they sold within days. They were soon being sported by Japanese women playing golf on the award winning 18 hole golf course at the base.


 

I am just back from a vacation to Japan. It was actually more about seeing family than a tour of the country, but we managed to squeeze in a lot of sightseeing. My original intent when I left, laptop in tow, was to blog at the end of everyday about my trip. That didn't happen once. I was too exhausted to boot up the laptop or anything else. On that subject, I have to say this- "Sarcas-sis, you rock" Thirty five weeks pregnant she led us every step of the way, up mountains, through subways, for many, many miles. On Wednesday we had a self imposed day of rest. We told ourselves it was to give her a chance to rest, but let me tell you, I needed break, as was evidenced by the Thermacare heat wrap I had to stop and buy.
So here is my plan. Instead of giving you a day by day recap of my trip, which would be sort of like looking at my pictures, I am going to blog about things I experienced , in no particular order, and whenever the spirit moves me. Actually I have given myself permission to leave the unpacking for a day and just blog away if I feel like it. That's a big deal for me because I normally put off the fun stuff til all the work is done. A lot of times that means I don't get to the fun stuff though.
Hopefully you will check back for more later. I am off to write a letter to the airline. as my trip to Japan included some unplanned time spent in Canada. More on that later


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