Saturday, September 29, 2012

H&M, Light Rail and a Glorious Fall Day

Living in the suburbs of Denver, I am totally dependent on a car as a means of transportation.  But the lure of going, "downtown" and shopping at H&M, a trendy Swedish store, made me consider using Denver's light rail.

In the frivolous part of my heart, is a "girly-girl."  Love clothes, reading fashion magazines, lamenting the fact that I cannot wear many styles or high heels anymore, I still like dressing up, just like I did when I was a little girl trying on grown up clothes and longing to grow up and enter the mysterious world of womanhood.  Little did I know what it really meant.

I had read about H&M.  It's a kind of IKEA but for clothes.  H&M began in 1947 in Sweden as a woman's clothing store and now has shops all over the world.  The clothes are trendy, some classic, and inexpensive.  The philosophy behind the store considers the environment, working conditions of the factory workers who  make the clothes, uses organic cotton,  team approach to management, very IKEA.  The H&M website outlines its history.

I shared my idea of going downtown via light rail and visiting H&M with a girlfriend; we set a date and were off on our downtown adventure.

We have a station a short drive away.  Parking is easy in a four level garage.  We bought our tickets and were off.  What a pleasure it was not to have to drive as we whizzed over the rails, chatted and watched Denver neighborhoods pass by.

Thank you H&M.  It was fun!
We ended up at Denver's Union Station, took the free shuttle to the heart of downtown and stepped off the shuttle in front of H&M.  What could be better?  But first, lunch at the Hard Rock Cafe nearby.  We ate outside, right on 16th street, the main downtown street.  People watching was perfect.  Living in the suburbs, the big city idea is forgotten.  I guess I miss it, remembering New York City, where I spent the first seven years of my life.  Blue skies, a bit cool, looking down the street, remembering Denver  as it was, added to the perfect day. Then, fortified with yummy hamburgers, we crossed  the street and entered the world of H&M.

Men have no idea about the pleasure of shopping.  They usually know what they want, buy it and get out.  We love to look and touch, especially touch and sometimes take hours to wander around and enter the world of  "how would that look on me?"

Time passed quickly as we shopped.  Then, happy with our purchases, we left H&M, retraced our steps to the light rail and then home.  The end of a perfect day with a good friend.

Post Script:  Sometimes, to get away from politics, personal problems, and serious issues, I think it helps to have a frivolous (not serious) day.

Wednesday, September 26, 2012

Rally for Romney in Colorado

Last Sunday, September 23rd, My husband and I attended a rally for Romney/Ryan in Jefferson County.  Colorado has 9 electoral votes which could go either way, so both Romney and President Obama are paying special attention to this state.

We arrived a little early, but not early enough and were surprised at the crowds that were gathering, more than we expected, as we walked quite a way to the school grounds where the event was held.  Later the crowd was estimated at more than 6, 000.

The mood was happy and positive.  Young people, old people, little kids, babies, were there.  Some signs read, "Hispanics for Romney, "  "Democrats for Romney." and of course, "Romney for President."  No negative signs or impolite written comments.  People were helpful, kind and friendly.  American flags were everywhere.

The mood intensified as we waited for Romney to appear.  First,  a few films, then a country and western group revved up the crowd and then. . . . there he was, just a few hundred feet away, wearing the white shirt and jeans that seem to be his standard rally gear.  He was passionate about jobs and the need for creating more of course, and the need to stem the tide of enormous debt we have, 16 trillion dollars, and that America still has great days before it, but we need to get our fiscal house in order.  We need to increase our military not decrease it, all that we had heard before.  But on that chilly October night, I felt a connection to all the people there.  We are still proud of our country and will work hard if given the opportunity.  We don't want handouts.  We are still the best hope.

For one way to help visualize numbers, my engineer husband likes to relate it to time, since we all deal with time, all the time.

     One thousand seconds is about 17 minutes.
     One million seconds is about 12 days.
     One billion seconds is about 32 years.
     and one trillion seconds is --  are you ready? -- 32 thousand years.

Our debt is 16 trillion dollars.

Note:  The Denver Post's headlines the next day:  "Romney rolls out his sales pitch."  Would they say that about President Obama?  A bit condescending?

Sunday, September 23, 2012

"The Canary in the Coal Mine" or Romney vs Obama

The "Canary in the Coal Mine" refers to the practice years ago of coal miners taking caged canaries down into coal mines to warn the miners of gases that might have been present.  If the canaries stopped singing and died, it was a warning to get out of there.  This cliche is appropriate for the coming election here in the United States.  Mitt Romney, the Republican candidate is warning all of us that there are great dangers ahead for our country.  Our debt now is 16 trillion dollars and continues to climb.  The jobless rate is high.  We are downsizing our military and reducing the number of naval aircraft, and the number of planes.  We are dismissive of our allies including Israel, and the UK.  With others, we have not kept our promises.  In 2009 President Obama cancelled a deal which we had with Poland and the Czech Republic in which we would build an interceptor site and radar that would provide protection of the US homeland and allies from rogue ballistic missiles. Meanwhile we send billions of aid, money which we borrowed from China, to countries like Egypt who cannot keep our embassy personnel safe.

The fiasco of President Obama's misplaced foreign policy led to the burning of the embassies in many Muslim countries all over the world, and the murder of embassy personal, and an ambassador to Libya, Christopher Stephens.   Two Navy Seals who died defending the embassy and saved many lives inside, we understand, was not even mentioned by President Obama's remarks when the bodies were returned to the United States.  And when our embassies were burning, President Obama flew to Las Vegas for a fund raiser.  President Obama spoke before the United Nations today, September 23, with no plans to have private talks with any leaders, because of "scheduling conflicts" but will have time to chat on The View tomorrow.

In past election years, if my candidate did not win, I was still assured that the candidate who did win would still have the best interests of America at heart.  I do not feel that way this year and I am very worried for my children and grandchildren.

The canary's voice is getting fainter.

Saturday, September 15, 2012

Frank Sinatra and "Once upon a time, the world was sweeter than we knew"

Last night, my husband and I attended a performance of The Chick Sings Frank  at our local castle.  Yes, we have a castle in the neighborhood.  Years ago, a wealthy Denverite, built a stone castle in the hills of Castle Rock.  This was modeled after a Scottish castle and built from rhyolite, a stone common here..  The last owner, "Tweet" Kimball, bought the castle and land and created a showcase where she put all of her treasures:  paintings, antiques, and family heirlooms.  After she died, she left her home to the county with the stipulation that the castle and 3,100 acres of  land not be sold but kept in perpetuity.  Now, the Cherokee Ranch Foundation uses the castle for all kinds of events to raise money to continue the work of the foundation. If you are fortunate enough to see them you may glimpse some of the  elk, bears, mountain lions, that roam the land and eagles and hawks that soar overhead. If you are in the Denver area,  it is a worthwhile visit.  Yes, I know, it's not like European castles, but. . . .

It was a cool, fall evening as we drove up the hill from our home, just minutes away.  A huge tent awaited the performance as we made our way into the castle for a tour and dinner.  Dinner among the paintings and the other memorabilia was perfect.  After dinner we walked  to the tent finding just the right seats.

Frank Sinatra was not from my era.  Here in Denver we had just heard of the Beatles, and in the years following in college, there were folk singers:  Judy Collins; Peter Paul and Mary; John Denver; the Smothers' Brothers; The Four Freshman; The Kingston Trio.  Rock and Roll was here and there, but not quite the hit  in the Midwest as both coasts had the latest music first.  But Frank Sinatra had a comeback with his movie roles and was having hit songs again.  All of us in the throes of those sweet first loves felt that his songs spoke to us.

 Lannie Garrett, a well-known  pop and jazz singer here in Denver, was introduced along with her accompanist/arranger. And then magic, as she began to sing songs Frank Sinatra had recorded or sung publicly,  from what she called, "The Great American Songbook."

"Once upon a time, the world was sweeter than we knew. . ."  so timely now..  I suppose every generation feels this looking back.   Another, "Last night when we were young, love was a song, a song unsung. . ,"  "Strangers in the Night,"  "Summer Wind,"  "They Can't Take That Away From Me."  On and on through the evening as the memories of my younger years washed over me.  The coming election, the burning of the American flag, the murders of our embassy personnel, the political rhetoric, the sad pictures of the hatred of young men storming our embassies, all vanished into the nostalgia of my younger world of my boys, school, work, and of the time when I had all those years ahead of me.

Wednesday, September 12, 2012

Apologies No Answer to Mayhem and Murder

On 9/11 two American Embassies were attacked by Muslim extremists, one in Egypt and one in Benghazi, Libya,.  Christopher Stevens, our ambassador to Libya, was murdered, as well as two Marine guards and one other person.  I believe that an embassy official was also murdered in Egypt.

Yes, there was a terrible YouTube video concerning the Muslim prophet that was their justification for the attacks, but since this video came out some time ago, I think it was just used to foment these attacks to coincide with 9/11.

Please consider that a Muslim in this country is safer than a Christian in any Muslim country today.  We have free speech in this country, sometimes it is unpleasant or worse.  I know there are Libyans and
Egyptians in both countries who deplore this kind of violence and want their countries to be free of tyrannical rule, but exchanging what they had before for extremists is not the answer, either.  Always. . .be careful what you wish for.

I do not think we have anything to apologize for, as in the tepid responses of both Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and President Obama in their first comments after the attacks.  Now their comments are a bit stronger.

It seems to me that what the Obama administration is doing is what I call  "reactive foreign policy," that is reacting to events rather than protecting our interests.  Apparently there was an incident in Benghazi last month when WW II graves of our soldiers were desecrated.  Anticipating an attack on both these embassies prior to 9/11 might have been a good idea.

"All that is necessary for the triumph of evil is that good men do nothing." (Edmund Burke)

Tuesday, September 11, 2012

9/11, Thoughts and Prayers

Today marks the day, eleven years ago, when our country received a blow to its heart.  Two planes rammed the Twin Towers in New York, another the Pentagon in Washington, and another crashed in a field in Pennsylvania, diverted by the passengers who saved whatever goal the terrorists had in mind.

I tried to find some kind of poem, or writing that I could use for this post, but could not find anything that seemed to reflect or   adequately describe what happened that day.  But through this book, a personal story is told and reminds us that 9/11 is an individual, personal story for every one who lost their lives that day and their families.

Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close is a novel written in the first person by a young boy who loses his father in 9/11.  The boy has Asperger's, a form of autism, but reflects the high end of the spectrum.  He is 9-years old, bright, sensitive, and deeply mourns his father who was in the Twin Towers on 9/11

The Atlantic Journal Constitution said,  in a review, that this book was the first great novel written about 9/11.  It was made into a movie which was difficult to watch but well done with Tom Hanks playing the father.

I read the book, a little at a time.  And always during the day, not at night before sleep.  Mr. Foer is a brilliant writer who makes his main character, Oskar Shell, seem very real as the reader is there every step of the way with him in his journey to make sense of what happened.

There are no answers or explanations for 9/11.


Monday, September 10, 2012

Blog makeover and intellectual property

Still tinkering with changes.  OK, I made the header photo smaller plus the title.  I liked Stephen Tremp's suggestion to use the space on the sides for comments on books, other blog recommendations, etc.  Meanwhile, one of my ideas for themes was to discuss Wall Street Journal article, especially the weekend edition.  But, being wary of the intellectual property warning, I called the WSJ today to find out if I could just chat about an article on my blog.  They have a website where you can  order reprints and ask permission.  I decided to fill out the forms and ask for permission to use an article I read in the Saturday/Sunday issue.  In order to reprint the article on my website, and to have it available for 6 months it would cost, are you ready?  $925.00!  I decided to pass.  I did not need the 6 month option, but there was no other.  All I wanted to do is to quote a few lines or just to paraphrase some sentences, and use quotes and attributions.  Oh well.

A few years ago, I self-published a book called, Hobbes Goes to South America, using a stuffed lion puppet's "voice."  We had gone on a cruise around the perimeter of South America and I wanted to share the trip with my grandsons.  Instead of the usual narrative, "we went here, we went there," Hobbes was photographed going here and there and talking about it in his lion's "voice."  It was so  much fun and I published it on  The book has my copyright.  But my object was to give the book to family and friends which I did.  However, if I had chosen to sell the book, I would have had to get every single person's written permission to use their image, every steward, every entertainer, etc. etc. The photographs were ours.

I do understand from the point of view of the creator of the article, poem, book, movie, music, etc.  I do.

Another question:  What about posting book covers on our blogs, this would be books that are not written by us?  This would be to promote the book.  Technically, this is intellectual property, I think.

I am continuing to learn.

Sunday, September 9, 2012

Blog Critique and Makeover

Yes, it's Fall and time for new beginnings.  I needed advice about how to improve my blog and found a  Laura is a marketing consultant and author.  She offers advice on layout and general comments about ones blog by posting your blog on her blog and asking for others to add to the critique of your blog.  I emailed her a few weeks ago and she was kind enough to add me to her list.

Since I am not writing a book, I just needed help in improving my blog itself.  And I learned so much from  her and those of you who took time to comment.

This will take time.  Over the next few weeks you make see tweeks here  and there.

First there is the layout.  I am such a non-geek when it comes to the techy stuff, but will learn how to delve into the "advanced" google layout.  Everyone liked my header photo, but said it was too large, there was other advice as well.

1.  Improve layout.

2.  Re-do profile to say more

3.  Too many topics - - theme, if there is one, is not clear

4.  Be careful about intellectual property

5.  This is my idea:  visit other blogs to study layout, this would help.

I would welcome more comments, about your own blogs as well.  Thank you especially to Laura.

Here in Colorado Fall is in the air, chilly mornings and evenings, trees are changing color, my favorite time of the year.  A perfect time to re-think my blog and the thought of starting over: like a new semester in school, new books, new teachers, new crayons  (in elementary school), improved blog.