Sunday, September 28, 2008

My Town Monday: A Foggy Day in San Clemente

In some parts of the country autumn means brilliant colors as the leaves change, but in Southern California, autumn at the beach means foggy mornings and sometimes foggy afternoons. This is the view from our house at about 10AM Sunday morning. Still, I'll take a cool, foggy day over a hot sunny one anytime, so don't think this is a complaint.

This will be an exceptionally short My Town Monday. My sciatica is still bothering me, so my online time will be limited this week. I apologize to my blogger friends in advance for not visiting as often as usual, but it hurts to sit for too long. I've set up the laptop on a chest of drawers so I can type standing up, but it's not connected to the internet.

Hope your week is going better than mine.


My Town Monday is the brilliant brain child of writer/blogger Travis Erwin, Thanks, Travis! Go to his blog to read his latest post and find links to the other participants.

Friday, September 26, 2008

Friday Fun Quiz: What Kind of Sandwich Are You?

It's been a nervous week here in the US, what with the talk of economic meltdown, a massive bailout, and uncertainty over the presidential debate, so I thought a little comfort food was in order.

You Are a Ham Sandwich

You are quiet, understated, and a great comfort to all of your friends.

Over time, you have proven yourself as loyal and steadfast.

And you are by no means boring. You do well in any situation - from fancy to laid back.

Your best friend: The Turkey Sandwich

Your mortal enemy: The Grilled Cheese Sandwich

I love sandwiches and ham is my favorite, but I don't have anything against grilled cheese. Honest. ;)


Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Happy Birthday, Libra!

I can't believe it has been a year since I started doing my monthly astrology blogs, but here we are, a year later. The sun enters Libra at the Autumnal Equinox when the days and nights are of equal length. Libra's symbol is the Scales, the only inanimate object to represent a sign.

Note: Most signs are represented by animals, but two are human: Virgo the Virgin and Aquarius, the Water Bearer. Sagittarius, the Archer, is reprsented by the Centaur, a mythical being.

Libra, the seventh sign of the Zodiac, represents balance and harmony. In the natal chart, the seventh house is the sign for matrimony. However, as we all know, balance in life, or marimony, is never static but something to strive for. Venus rules the sign of Libra, as well as the sign of Taurus. Though Venus energy is typically seen as feminine, Libra is a "masculine" sign in the zodiacal system. Personally, I don't give much credence to the masculine/feminine designations for the signs, but traditionally this is what's done.

Libras have a reputation for indecisiveness as they weigh the pros and cons of everything, alway seeking the balance and harmony in life. Libras value fairness, justice and beauty; they dislike conflict and vulgarity. On the positive side, they can be diplomatic, idealistic, trusting, romantic, charming, and sensitive. On the negative side, they can also be manipulative or gullible, unreliable, or frivolous. In romance, they are supposed to be most compatible with the other air signs of Gemini and Aquarius, and with the fire signs, Aries, Leo and Sagittarius.

For more on Libra, go to

Is there a Libra in your life?


Sunday, September 21, 2008

My Town Monday: Worst Tree In The World?

Autumn is my favorite time of year, everywhere except here in Anaheim, that is. Where other parts of the country have trees with leaves changing colors, we have Chinese elms shedding yellow crud all over everything. These trees are a pet peeve of mine. :( I'm currently suffering through an attack of sciatica, so that's not helping my mood any. It hurts just to sit.

According to Wikipedia, the Chinese elm, scientific name Ulmus parvifolia, are native to China, Japan, North Korea and Vietnam. They're described as "a small to medium-sized deciduous, semi-deciduous (rarely semi-evergreen) tree growing to 10-18 m tall with a slender trunk and crown, and has been described as "one of the most splendid elms". I looked it up and 10-18 meters is a range of 32 to 59 feet, which sounds pretty big to me, but what I know about trees can be scribbled on the back of a postage stamp. Some may find the trees "splendid", but to me they're just messy.

To continue: "The flowers are produced in early autumn, small and inconspicuous,.." To whom, pray tell?

"... with the seed maturing rapidly and dispersing by late autumn." Around here, the yellow flowers and appear and drop off within a couple of weeks, followed by reddish leaves that drop off later in the season. The green leaves finally turn brown and die around December. So the trees basically shed something or other from Sept. through the end of the year, blanketing the sidewalk, the yard, not to mention any cars parked anywhere nearby.

"The Chinese Elm is highly resistant, but not immune, to Dutch elm disease... The tree is arguably the most ubiquitous of the elms, now found in all the continents except Antarctica. It was introduced to Europe at the end of the 18th century as an ornamental, and is found in many botanical gardens and arboreta. In the United States, it appeared in the middle of the 19th century, and has proved very popular in recent years as a replacement for American Elms killed by Dutch elm disease."

Will someone send me some Dutch elm disease, please?

"The tree can become invasive, notably in southern Africa, and is known as one of the 'Nasty Nine' in Namibia, where it was planted as a street tree in Windhoek. The Chinese Elm has also shown invasive species tendencies in some gardens in North America."

Not to mention some yards in Anaheim. We have several baby elms trying to grow in the middle of our hedge, the Bird of Paradise, the hibiscus bushes. (Yes, we need a professional gardener and the sooner the better.)

What do you think? Is the Chinese elm the worst tree in the world? Or at least the messiest?


My Town Monday comes to us via Travis Erwin, Thanks, Travis! Click on his site to read his latest post and find links to the other participants.

Friday, September 19, 2008

Friday Fun Quiz: What Power Element Are You?

This has been a busy week and I haven't blogged since Sunday. I did get some writing done, so that makes me happy.

I took this quiz twice, a couple of weeks apart and got two different answers: Earth and Metal. Both are at least partially true, so I'm posting both of them.

Your Power Element is Earth

Your power color: yellow

Your energy: balancing

Your season: changing of seasons

Dedicated and responsible, you are a rock to your friends.

You are skilled at working out even the most difficult problems.

Low key and calm, you are happiest when you are around loved ones.

Ambitious and goal oriented, you have long term plans to be successful.

Low key and calm fits me, most of the time, and I think I'm responsible. Not so ambitious, though, and my goals tend to be flexible and fluctuating.

Your Power Element is Metal

Your power colors: white, gold, and silver

Your energy: contracting

Your season: fall

You are persistent (and maybe even a little bit stubborn).

If you see something you want, you go for it.

You have a lot of strength, and it's difficult to get you down.

Very logical, you tend to analyze everything going on in your life.

Fall is my favorite season and I'll admit to being a little stubborn at times, and I do tend to over-analyze things. I wish I could say it's difficult to get me down, but my moods can swing wildly, sometimes in the space of a few hours. (Maybe that's just the hypoglycemia. A little protein always helps balance me out.)

Have a good weekend.


Sunday, September 14, 2008

My Town Monday: A Local Tragedy

I'm sure by now you have all heard of the catastrophic wreck on Friday, Sep. 12, of a Metrolink train and a freight train in Chatsworth, Calif. Chatsworth isn't really close to Anaheim, but since all of Southern California shares a large media market, it seems local. I know people who live in that area; thankfully none of them lost a loved one on the train. This kind of tragedy is a sobering reminder of how fragile and precarious life can be and how dangerous modern technology sometimes is.

Currently the death toll is at 25, but there are still patients in critical condition so it may rise again. Out of app. 222 Metrolink passengers and crew plus 3 people on the freight train, 135 were injured, 81 in serious or critical condition. It could have been even worse, since each double-decker car holds 150 people sitting down and passengers are allowed to stand in the aisle. This train was apparently only half full. There are no seat belts on the Metrolink trains and people were thrown around, resulting in head, chest and leg injuries. Motor vehicle-style seatbelts might have prevented some of the injuries, particularly in the second and third cars which remained upright. No amount of safety measures could have helped the people in the first car which was rammed by the train's locomotive. We still don't know how fast either train was traveling, but the force of the collision had to be enormous. This is the worst US train wreck in fifteen years since an Amtrak train ran into a bayou near Mobile, Alabama in 1993, killing 47.

All Friday evening, television helicopters hovered over the scene, capturing the horror of the wreck and showing the rescue efforts. Firefighters in yellow safety suits, policemen in dark blue and sheriff's deputies in khaki worked together to carry people from the wreck to a triage area where they were assessed by paramedics before being transported to area hospitals by ambulance or helicopter. It was heartbreaking to watch, but the old cliche about not being able to look away from a train wreck is all too true.

As I write this, it now appears that the wreck may have been caused by human error. Metrolink has issued a statement saying that their engineer, who worked for a private subcontractor, failed to stop at a red light. He didn't survive the crash, so we won't be able to hear what he has to say. We're now hearing rumors that he may have been text messaging a few minutes before the collision. But we shouldn't rush to judgment. I'm sure safety engineers are checking the signal lights to see that they're working properly. It's common in California for commuter trains to share single stretches of track with freight trains. The Metrolink train missed a red light that should have sent it onto a siding to wait for the freight train to pass. But no matter how many safeguards are in place, there's no way to prevent human error. The NTSB is conducting a thorough investigation, but it may take a year for them to issue their report.

My heart goes out to the victims and their family members and to the emergency responders who did such a phenomenal job of rescuing the injured, and worked through the night under dangerous conditions. Special recognition goes to the firemen who had to cut their way into the first car. Fire Captain Steve Ruda "said his firefighters had never seen such carnage". There's no way to be sufficiently trained or psychologically prepared for what they must have witnessed. Coming a day after the anniversary of the terrorist attacks of Sep. 11 didn't make it any easier to watch.

I'll update this post as more information becomes available.


I forgot to mention that My Town Monday comes to us via Travis Erwin. Thanks, Travis! Check out his site to read his latest post and find links to the other participants.

Scheduled posts

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Friday, September 12, 2008

Friday Fun Quiz: What Modern Bombshell Are You?

Fridays tend to be busy days for me, so I decided to make them quiz days. There are lots of fun quizzes out there. This one is for my female friends.

You Are Most Like Liv Tyler

“I don't want to spend so much time obsessing about myself.”

Have a good weekend!


Tuesday, September 9, 2008

Palin Book Banning Update

Palin Book Banning Update

A few days ago I wrote a post asking if Governor Sarah Palin tried to ban books from the local public library when she was mayor of Wasilla. The wonderful has come through with an article debunking some of the rumors flying about the mayor. You can find the full article by clicking on the title of the blog. You have to scroll down to find the book banning section.

According to

"One false rumor accuses then-Mayor Palin of threatening to fire Wasilla’s librarian for refusing to ban books from the town library. Some versions of the rumor come complete with a list of the books that Palin allegedly attempted to ban. The story is false on several fronts: Palin never asked that books be banned; the librarian continued to serve in that position; no books were actually banned; and many of the books on the list that Palin supposedly wanted to censor weren't even in print at the time, proving that the list is a fabrication.

"It’s true that Palin did raise the issue with Mary Ellen Emmons, Wasilla’s librarian, on at least two occasions. Emmons flatly stated her opposition both times. But, as the Mat-Su Valley Frontiersman (Wasilla’s local paper) reported at the time, Palin asked general questions about what Emmons would say if Palin requested that a book be banned. According to Emmons, Palin "was asking me how I would deal with her saying a book can't be in the library." Emmons reported that Palin pressed the issue, asking whether Emmons' position would change if residents were picketing the library. Wasilla resident Anne Kilkenny, who was at the meeting, corroborates Emmons' story, telling the Chicago Tribune that "Sarah said to Mary Ellen, 'What would your response be if I asked you to remove some books from the collection?'

"Palin characterized the exchange differently, initially volunteering the episode as an example of discussions with city employees about following her administration's agenda. Palin described her questions to Emmons as “rhetorical,” noting that her questions "were asked in the context of professionalism regarding the library policy that is in place in our city."... We can't read minds, so it is impossible for us to know whether or not Palin may actually have wanted to ban books from the library or whether she simply wanted to know how her new employees would respond to an instruction from their boss. It is worth noting that, in an update, the Frontiersman points out that no book was ever banned from the library’s shelves."

I'm glad to learn that no books were banned from the library, probably because of the librarian's strong stand against doing so, however the impulse to ban may have been there.

I apologize for passing along inaccurate information.

Sunday, September 7, 2008

My Town Monday: Dormont Memories

Though I was born at Allegheny General Hospital in Pittsburgh, I grew up just outside the city in the little borough of Dormont. Incorporated in 1909, it was the first independent municipality in Greater Pittsburgh's South Hills area. The name is a play on the French mont d'or meaning gold mountain. At less than one square mile, Dormont is compact and walkable, if you don't mind the hills. There's also good bus and light rail service. In 2000 the population was 9,305. Can you say densely populated?

I don't know if it was that densely populated when I was growing up there back in the 1950's and early 60's, but many of the houses were duplexes, so it might have been. As a child I didn't pay attention to statistics. Though small and urban, Dormont in that period wasn't all concrete. There was a large wooded area near Kelton Elementary School, complete with a swinging rope hanging from a large tree for the more daring kids.

On the other side of town is Dormont Park, a lovely, green park. The Fourth of July was a big day in Dormont. In the morning my dad would drive me to Dormont Pool, located in the park, where every child was given a grab bag full of little toys, candy and lots of peanuts in the shell. My dad always ate most of my peanuts. Then there was a local parade along West Liberty Avenue. In the evening, we'd head back to the park, where we sat on a blanket in the park to watch the annual fireworks display and was it spectacular!

Dormont Pool is the oldest (1923) municipal swimming pool in Pennsylvania as well as one of the largest at >60,000 square feet. I spent many a hot summer day at the pool, getting cooled off, only to walk home uphill and end up as sweaty as I'd started out. Apparently the pool is now in need of major repairs and locals are pitching in to save it. Details are at

The church we attended, Dormont Presbyterian, is now over 100 years old and has been designated as a historic place by the Pittsburgh History & Landmarks Foundation.

(A view of downtown Pittsburgh from Biltmore Avenue in Dormont.)

Dormont offers the best of two worlds in its small town atmosphere and its proximity to a big city. I remember riding the streetcar into Pittsburgh with my mom to shop at Joseph Horne's or one of the other big department stores. In the 1920's and 30's Dormont was touted for its clean air, South Hills being relatively free of the smoke and pollution in Pittsburgh. By the 1950's, the area had switched from coal to natural gas and the air was much cleaner everywhere. As a child, I thought most of the buildings in downtown where made of black stone. Then one day I saw a building being sandblasted and realized they were all covered with coal soot!

Famous Dormonters include comedian Dennis Miller and Republican Congresman Ron Paul who ran for president this year and, of course, me. (Just kidding.)

Dormont was a great place to grow up, and to judge by this article at, it still is. Maybe one of these days I'll even get to visit again. It was fun getting re-acquainted with my home town again, and I was happy to learn that's it's still a nice place to live.


My Town Monday comes to us via Travis Erwin. Thanks, Travis! Click on his site to read his latest post and find links to the other participants.

Saturday, September 6, 2008

Did Palin Try to Ban Books?

UPDATE: The list of books at the end of this post is inaccurate and we know now that no books were banned from the Wasilla Library. - LM, 9-9-08 8:15AM

As a librarian, any mention of book banning catches my attention, and that was one of the tidbits mentioned as the press explored John McCain's new running mate. Reporters flocked to Alaska in the last week to visit Palin's home town of Wasilla. Time Magazine has posted an article on their website entitled: Mayor Palin: A Rough Record.

The article starts by quoting John McCain as saying, "I found someone with an outstanding reputation for standing up to special interests and entrenched bureaucracies,"... Does "entrenched bureaucracies" include the local library?

The article goes on to interview, Joe Stein, the town's former mayor who, in all fairness, was defeated by Palin for the position. Here's what Stein had to say:

Stein says that as mayor, Palin continued to inject religious beliefs into her policy at times. "She asked the library how she could go about banning books," he says, because some voters thought they had inappropriate language in them. "The librarian was aghast." That woman, Mary Ellen Baker, couldn't be reached for comment, but news reports from the time show that Palin had threatened to fire Baker for not giving "full support" to the mayor.

People have tried to ban books for "inappropriate language" for years now. In some cases, like The Catcher in the Rye, it's because of the use of profanities, esp. the "F" word. And then there's the politically correct crowd that wanted to ban Mark Twain's The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn for using the "N" word. And sometimes the objections come from the author "taking the Lord's name in vain". No matter the reason, it's still censorship and a violation of the First Amendment, or so we librarians tend to think.

So what books did Palin want to ban? There are lists making their way around the internet and via email, which may or may not be accurate. Both lists I saw (one sent to me by email, the other at start with A Wrinkle In Time by Madeleine L'Engle. Say what? This is a children's science fiction classic. I've read the book twice, once as a pre-teen and again a few years ago. I know there's no "inappropriate language" in that book. All I can figure is the book's world view isn't sufficiently Christian for the social conservative mindset.

A list of the books Palin supposedly wanted to ban:

A Wrinkle in Time by Madeleine L'Engle
Brave New World by Aldous Huxley
Catch-22 by Joseph Heller
Clockwork Orange, by Anthony Burgess
As I Lay Dying, by William Faulkner
The Canterbury Tales, by Geoffrey Chaucer
Confession, by Jean Jacques Rousseau
Death of a Salesman, by Arthur Miller
Flowers for Algernon, by Daniel Keyes
Lady Chatterley's Lover, by D.H. Lawrence
Leaves of Grass, by Walt Whitman
Little Red Riding Hood, by the Grimm Brothers
Lord of the Flies, by William Golding
Lysistrata, by Aristophanes
Of Mice and Men, by John Steinbeck
To Kill a Mocking Bird, by Harper Lee
One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest, by Ken Kesey
The Chocolate War, by Robert Cormier
Pigman, by Paul Zindel


Anything by Stephen King, everything by J.K. Rowling, just about everything by Roald Dahl, both of Mark Twain's major works, most of Judy Blume, most of William
Shakespeare, and (this is truly mind-boggling) Webster's Ninth New Collegiate Dictionary by the Merriam-Webster Editorial Staff.

Some of these come as no surprise, but others have me scratching my head. Little Red Riding Hood??? Webster's Ninth? Can this be for real? And if it is, do we really want this woman as vice-president? I just hope they don't let her anywhere near the Library of Congress.