Monday, November 30, 2009

Trivia Trivia

The word trivia derives from the Latin tri + via, which translates as "three streets." As a major public service in Roman times, at the intersection of three streets, there was a kind of kiosk where further info was posted for travelers. Apparently these data were so useless that citizens often ignored them entirely: thus, they were truly bits of "trivia."

Ferengi Trivia

The Star Trek: The Next Generation series introduced the ultracapitalistic and ultrashort alien race called the Ferengi. The Ferengi are a part of the Star Trek universe, primarily in Deep Space Nine. They're a race of ultra-capitalists whose every business transaction is governed by the 285 Rules of Acquisition. There's a rule for every possible business situation -- and, inevitably, an interpretation of those rules that gives the Ferengi license to cheat, steal, and bend the truth to suit their needs.

Remind you of anyone?

Sunday, November 29, 2009

The Blind Side

Mother, my cousin Emily, and I went to see The Blind Side yesterday. It was so good! The tears started early and kept escaping down my cheeks periodically throughout the movie. All the actors did a great job. Sandra Bullock nailed the personality and look of Leigh Ann Tuohy. Quentin Aaron, Tim McGraw, Jae Head, and Lily Collins were good as Michael Oher, Sean Tuohy, SJ (the son), and Collins (the daughter). It was an inspiring, feel-good, true story about Baltimore Ravens tackle Michael Oher and his adopted family in Memphis.

From the Movie

Real Family

I laughed when Leigh Ann told him even if he went to the University of Tennessee, which she hates along with MikeinBama, that she would attend every game but would never wear that gaudy orange. I went to UT and did wear it but know what she means. Not a flattering color. Sean and Leigh Ann are die-hard Ole Miss fans and even have a condo in Oxford where they stay during games. We really did enjoy this movie.

Rest of Week and Weekend

After returning from Philadelphia, I hit a wall and was depressed. It was probably from being so social, having lots of fun, and then coming back and feeling lonely. It took a few days, but I'm feeling better now. I also don't like being old, but probably no one else does, either. Anyway, I'm doing better now after working on it.

We had a good Thanksgiving with lots of family members there. The food was wonderful and the company even better. My brother, sister-in-law, their children and four grandchildren, my son, daughter-in-law, their son, and my cousin Sally all went to Mother's. Which one of these is my grandchild? Yep!!

Reese (little legs - rest of her below), Brendan, Ally, Carter, Will (clockwise)

Friday, November 27, 2009

Sunday in Philadelphia

Sunday morning ( a week ago) Tina and I walked to Independence Square and had a tour of Independence Hall.

It was a beautiful day. Seeing where the Founding Fathers actually met and signed the Declaration of Independence and began our government as the United States of America was an amazing experience.

I taught American Literature and US History. My favorite part of teaching history is the Constitution. I often thought about how much fun it would be to teach U.S. History based on the Constitution - the formation of it, including the arguments, events, and reasons for all the parts of it and the Amendments. This fascinates me. I took the LSAT to go to law school when Brian was nine years old but couldn't figure out how to live on student loans and child support and pay for school and a place to live and all of that, so I didn't do it. If I'd gone, I'd have specialized in Constitutional law and probably wouldn't have made any more money than I did teaching since the career options for that would have been working for a federal judge or with the ACLU. I could have taught it, too. Sometimes I wish I'd done that, but teaching what I did had its rewards.

When I taught American Lit, I showed the movie 1776 for them to understand the format of a play but even more to see an entertaining interpretation of the First Continental Congress. This means that I saw the movie five times a day for many years as well as the play a few times in the theater. I know most of the lines and songs in it but will spare you my singing them.

Going into the actual room where the Founding Fathers met and seeing the tables where they sat was one of the most moving experiences I've had. I was overcome with awe and gratitude for what they accomplished. Those were the finest minds who had the foresight to write such a Constitution. The two areas we've had the most problem with were the definition of states' rights and inclusion of civil rights. We're still struggling with those. While I'm at it, the Electoral College needs to be abolished for so many reasons. Presidents should be elected by popular vote. Period.

Where Benjamin Franklin sat.

Thomas Jefferson's table.

Tina and I walked about seven blocks to Independence Square and saw the Liberty Bell first. They have it blocked off, so people like me won't touch it.

House where Jefferson wrote the Declaration.

Statue of George Washington


For Brian, another picture of a sign!

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Happy T-Day!

Trivia: The name of the Pilgrims’second ship was the Speedwell. However, unlike the Mayflower, it had to turn back because it wasn’t seaworthy.

Hope everyone has a good holiday and celebrates it in whatever way means the most to you. I'll be at Mother's with lots of family members. I am thankful for all of them and look forward to spending time with them. I also appreciate my blog friends so much! Let's focus on what we are thankful for and wish for more blessings for all of us. A very Happy Thanksgiving to you all!


Those letters also stand for Walking Auntie Flame Day, and I'll tell you why.

Maddie called to let me know that he and Curt would be by to pick me up in front of the hotel. I kept watching for his car when he walked up and smiled! What a total cutie! We hugged and greeted each other like the good friends we are! We knew we wouldn't behave when we got together and of course didn't!

The Adorable Maddie!

I got to ride in the front seat beside the excellent tour guide, Curt, who told stories about the Curse of Billy Penn, where no buildings were supposed to be taller than William Penn's hat on the City Hall statue according to an ordinance when the city was planned by Benjamin Franklin. This site explains it, too:
For nearly a century, William Penn stood atop the city, one hand extended over the thriving society that had sprouted from the seeds of freedom which he had planted so long ago. For all those years, the wishes of the commissioners of his statue were upheld by a simple gentlemen's agreement - a handshake.

However, in 1984, that agreement was broken. Plans to build Philadelphia's first skyscraper - One Liberty Place - had commenced. The 945 foot glass skyscraper, to be located only three blocks west of City Hall, would exceed Penn's hat by a whopping 397 feet.

Philadelphia sports teams had, up until that point, enjoyed a wealth of success - back to back Stanley Cups for the Flyers in 1974 and 1975, an NBA title for the Sixers in 1983, and the appearance of all four major sports teams in their respective finals in 1980, concluding in a World Series Title for the Phillies. The Golden Age of Sports in the City of Brotherly Love was brought to a halt in 1985, only a few months after discussions to build Liberty One had commenced, when Wayne Gretzky and the Edmonton Oilers hoisted the Stanley Cup following a win over the Flyers in game five.

Since then, the Eagles, Sixers, Phillies and Flyers, have gone 0 for 7 in Championship finals, accumulating in an 88-season drought - the longest of any city with four professional sports teams. Meanwhile, the City of Brotherly Love now sports seven skyscrapers that rise above the ever mysterious statue of William Penn. Interestingly enough, all of the offending buildings stand to the west of City Hall as the city's founder faces northeast, conceivably giving Penn an unobstructed view of the Delaware River (where he and the Quaker settlers originally landed in the late 1600s). Whether the buildings were constructed keeping Penn's view in mind or not, the fact still remains that Philadelphia pro sports fans had been deprived of a championship until October 29, 2008, when the Philadelphia Phillies won the 2008 World Series, a year and four months after a statuette of the William Penn figure atop City Hall was affixed to the final beam during the June 2007 topping-off of the Comcast Center, currently the tallest building in the city.
You gotta love that!

Curt drove us around to various neighborhoods and gave fascinating commentaries. In South Philly we saw Geno's and Pat's Steak Houses. Each claims to be the first and the best. Curt said Geno's is like the Soup Nazi on Seinfeld where you have to order correctly or get put at the end of the line. He said John Kerry messed up when he was there during his campaign because he ordered one with Swiss cheese. I recall hearing about that on the news after he mentioned it. I probably should have gotten one but will do it next time I go there. Nutwood Beth said it was delicious, so Tina and I should have ordered one at the Market.

We drove over to the train station to pick up David, who was on the phone with his Mama Bunny when I first saw him. We hugged and pantomimed until he was off the phone. It was so funny because he said he rarely gets phone calls and got two as soon as we met. It was wonderful to get to be with our fearless leader, who dragged himself out of his sick bed and rode the train to be with us. I felt so honored and appreciated it so much! He's wonderful like that and still lots of fun even when sick.

See how proud I am to hug our talented, wonderful David?

We went back to downtown, parked the car, and walked about 20 blocks to the Franklin Museum. OK, I'm sure it was closer to 20 than to 15. We had so much fun talking along the way and commenting on everything. Then we walked back! Did I mention how young all of them are? I did it, and the walking was good for me, but my feet and knees complained.

Fountain at Logan Square

I think I offended Curt only about three times, which was pretty good for me. He's not used to me the way David and Maddie are and at one time glared at us and asked, "What are all of you - 12!!!" Yeah, probably. He reminded me the most of my son Brian, who rolls his eyes and tolerates me at times but mostly thinks I'm pretty funny. I couldn't believe Curt and Maddie hadn't seen 1776 since I've seen it almost a hundred times because of actually seeing the play three times and the movie 5 times a day for years when I showed it to my American Lit classes. I wasn't trying to be stereotypical that time. Yes, I know I said "that time" - I'm bad.

The Franklin Institute Science Museum has exhibits about all kinds of wonderful things - the Earth, electricity, sports, space, the heart, the sea. Tina, Frogponder, and many others would love it there. I want to go back and take Brian, Melissa, and Brendan. Check it out HERE. We went to the Planetarium to see a show about the Sun. David and Curt were sleeping bookends while Maddie and I learned all kinds of things.

Maddie Looking at the Constellations

Giant Heart You Can Walk and Climb Through

Foucault's Pendulum INFO

Maddie and Curt Fascinated by Shiny Objects

We walked back to the hotel where Tina joined us and ate at a sub place in the gayborhood. It really is - there are rainbow strips on the street signs. We laughed and had more fun there and then made our pilgrimage to the Naked Chocolate Cafe. David doesn't like chocolate and ordered a cupcake and iced tea, but the rest of us indulged - especially Maddie and me! I ordered a frozen mocha blend, which I thought would probably be a normal size, but no! See the comparison! I drank most of it - delicious! - and bought a few things to take with me for later.

It was a wonderful day with my nephews! David gave up his Saturday to be with me when he needed to recuperate and was as much fun as I knew he'd be! Maddie presented me with a thoughtful gift bag filled with a box of delicious buttery sand tarts he baked himself, a print of the Philadelphia Museum of Art created by a friend of his, and a knitlace made of eyelash and other novelty yarn. As if giving his time was not generous enough, that was so sweet of him!

I was treated so well and felt like royalty! Thank you Maddie, David, and Curt!!! I miss you and want to get together again soon.

Why don't I have more photos of David, you might ask. The answer is that he asked me not to, so I didn't - even though he is totally cute!

Coming next - Sunday at Independence Hall!

Caption This


Some of you discovered from the news that there was a computer glitch with a router that caused delays in many flights, including ours to Philadelphia. We got to the Nashville airport parking lot at 8:30. Our flight was originally supposed to leave at 10:20, but it was postponed until 11:20 and then 12:15 and 1:15. We boarded the plane around 2:00 and waited again on the runway, so we spent way too long at the airport! It was a bumpy ride through dense clouds as we got near Philadelphia where it was raining.

I had one of those nights before the flight where I couldn't sleep because I kept thinking about how I had to get up early to be on time at the airport and then reviewed what I packed over and over. So I didn't get but about an hour and a half of sleep because I also woke up about an hour before the alarm was supposed to go off and couldn't go back to sleep. Tina said she did almost the same thing. When we got to our room, we noticed that we had a handicapped room, which meant we had lots of space and lights on the fire alarm and for the phone. We were too tired to go out and ate dinner at the hotel restaurant Annex.

My bed was comfortable, and we watched some TV. We wanted to watch Project Runway but no Lifetime. It felt good to be at our destination and relax after the day we had.

The view from our window was great! City Hall was right out the window. It's a beautiful and ornate building. More information HERE.

This is the Masonic Temple. For more information and a look inside, check HERE.

Friday morning I explored the Reading Terminal Market where all kinds of produce, flowers, crafts, food, and just about anything is sold. I had breakfast there and had a good omelet, toast, and coffee. I tried scrapple and don't like it. It's some kind of greige mushy glop that has been formed into a square and fried. I took one small bite and was sorry. Now I know what it is. I watched them make a Philly cheese steak and decided not to try one. They probably have all the fat grams and cholesterol for a year in them. Heavy!

When Tina got out of her sessions, we went back to the Market and looked around some more. It was so crowded that I knew I wouldn't be able to digest from having the nervous heebie jeebies with so many people scrunching me up. Tina agreed, so we ate at an Italian restaurant on the corner - Maggiano's Little Italy. Quite good food and wine.

Here is Tina talking on the phone standing outside it. More HERE.

The rest of the day was fairly uneventful but restful. We ordered room service, which is from Chili's, and watched several episodes of Criminal Minds. Sorry for the dullness of my life, but I like it. I also like not having any drama in it right now. Tina needed the rest, and I was glad to be somewhere else for a while.

Next - photos of the nephews and sightseeing during WAFD (Wholesome Auntie Flame Day)!

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Coming Soon

I had errands, phone calls, naps, and DVR recordings to catch up on yesterday. I'm getting ready to meet friends for lunch and will write about part of my trip to Philadelphia and the WAFD (Wholesome Auntie Flame Day) this afternoon. Stay tuned!

Monday, November 23, 2009

Groan Trivia

During the Renaissance artists could not depict woman’s toes or bare feet in their paintings. This way, they were spared any "callous" remarks from critics.

Shall we check this out?

My Blog

I changed the number of posts on my page and think it made it load more quickly. It's been really slow. Let me know if you notice a difference. I do but will make other changes if it's still too slow.

Sunday, November 22, 2009

Short Update

Unfortunately I can't post to or comment on my own blog with my Blackberry Curve. I checked and found out that it's a Blackberry thing and not user error. That made me feel better in some ways but not much because that means that it's not something that can be learned. I do hope Blackberry fixes this, so we won't be restrained like this! Sometimes I could post on some of your blogs and not other times. How irritating!

I'll download my pictures and write about my weekend tomorrow. I'm really tired right now but do want to say how much I appreciated David's coming down on the train, sick as he was, to spend the day with us. He was exactly the way I thought he'd be, and it was like spending time with a friend I've had for ages! Wonderful! Tina really enjoyed meeting David and Maddie and just loves them, too! Curt was a great tour guide driving me around Philadelphia and telling stories and making comments about various parts of the city with Maddie in the back seat adding more comments. Maddie is adorable and a hoot! We knew we wouldn't be able to behave and kept encouraging each other! It was so much fun! More to come. Stay tuned!

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Marriage Trivia

After 11 years of living together, Danny DeVito and Rhea Perlman were married during a Taxi-lunch break in 1982.

Cat and Girl

For all us social networkers. Click to embiggen. Source HERE.

Philadelphia Here I Come!

Tina and I are leaving in the morning for Philadelphia. We're flying and will be back Sunday night. I can now comment on blogs with my phone at last! I actually checked "help" on my BlackBerry, got better advice this time, and can comment on blogs and post on my own. It's been really frustrating to read posts and not be able to comment on them. I can also mute my phone. I got wrong information from the Verizon store about how to do that, but a former student helped me with it on FB. So I'll leave some blog and FB updates when I can. Wish I'd known how to do that when I was on my cruise, but it worked out. I'll probably leave updates on FB because it's easier and less time consuming since I have to do all that with my thumbs. I'm not a teenager!

I'm really looking forward to seeing David and Maddie Saturday! We're going to talk and talk and talk! Can't wait!!

I discovered that the Reading Terminal Market has many $7 meals, so I'll be heading over there while Tina is at the conference. She'll have breakfast and other meals there. It will also be fun to check out the shops and all they have there. From what I read, it sounds like a good place to browse and shop. The Naked Chocolate Cafe and a gelato place are nearby, too, which will be ever so tempting. We'll have to find somewhere to have dinner unless we eat early at the Market. The hotel will have information.

It's supposed to rain Thursday and Friday, so that might curtail some of my sightseeing. I'll go on the historic walking tour if I can. Hope so but won't be walking all over the place in the rain. I'm taking a good book and some knitting and stay at the hotel. I'm easily entertained.

Temp Trivia

Back in the 1600s, thermometers were filled with brandy instead of mercury.

Maddie would never have known the temperature from drinking the thermometer.

Tuesday, November 17, 2009


I went to see The Men Who Stare at Goats this afternoon with friends and thought it was hilarious! Have any of you seen it? Great cast and quirky writing!

Here's what Roger Ebert wrote about it in his 3 1/2 star review HERE:
Bear with me here. Imagine "Ghostbusters" is based on a true story. Imagine the Dude from "The Big Lebowski" as a real-life U.S. Army general. All factual, right? That's what "The Men Who Stare at Goats" sort of wants us to believe. I think I sort of do -- to a small degree, sort of. "More of this is true than you would believe," the movie announces in an opening title. I'm waiting for the review of this one in Skeptic magazine.

We begin with a newspaperman named Wilton (Ewan McGregor) from Ann Arbor. That's a poignant note, because Ann Arbor recently lost its daily newspaper. He interviews a goof who tells him he was a member of the New Earth Army, a super-secret Army team of paranormals who were being trained as stealth weapons. In theory, they could spy at a distance, kill by the power of their sight alone and penetrate enemy lines in spirit, not in body.

Wilton hungers to hunt where the headlines are. In 2002, he flies to Kuwait, hoping to cross into the war zone. He runs into a legendary guy he heard about from the crackpot back home. This is Lyn Cassady (George Clooney), said to be the best of the New Earth trainees. Wilton pumps him and learns of an acidhead Vietnam veteran named Bill Django (Jeff Bridges), who sold the Army the notion of fighting men who could transcend physical limitations. We see Django in flashbacks; Bridges essentially plays him as the Dude in "The Big Lebowski." Members of the Church of Lebowski will be able to enjoy this film as apocrypha.

The movie flashes between the recent Middle East and events 20 years earlier, when Cassady trained under Django to become, he explains, a Jedi Warrior. Clooney doesn't overplay and is persuasive, making Cassady as a sensible, sane man who has seen the impossible and has no choice but to believe it. He shows Wilton videos of a goat and a hamster killed by brain power. In theory, mind power can even allow men to run through walls -- if, of course, they believe they can.

The two of them unwisely journey into wartime Iraq, where they run into hostility. Cassady attempts to deal it with using paranormal techniques. He explains his theory of Jedi Warriordom to Wilton, who has apparently never seen "Star Wars" episodes I, II and III. Little joke. Their troubles are intercut with scenes of Cassady's early training, which included such self-persuasion exercises as fire walking. I think it is impossible that a flywheel like Bill Django could survive in the Army, but then again, he has top security clearance in a crucial secret program, so maybe he gets a pass. It may be that psychotropic drugs are justified as a pathway to higher powers. Whatever.

Kevin Spacey, who has been absorbed in London theatrical adventures, comes back in a good role as Hooper, who hates everything that Cassady stands for, whatever that is. All of the actors play without winks and spins, unless you consider Lebowskism itself a wink and spin. And we're faced with the fact that the movie is based on the 2004 book by Jon Ronson, a writer for the Guardian, who wrote it humorously but (he said) truthfully about an Army experiment. It was this real program, he says, that inspired playing the "Barney the Dinosaur" theme as a torture technique.

It actually doesn't matter if the book is truthful. It doesn't claim the paranormal powers are real. Ronson simply says some officials thought they might be -- and that if they were, we had to get there first. The movie is funny either way.

But figure this out. The book inspired a BBC-TV series which interviewed the real Ret. Gen. Albert Stubblebine III, who explains on camera exactly how men could walk through walls. He may be correct. Judge for yourself: