Still one of my favorite albums

March 8, 2015

One of my favorite kitchen “toys” is a CD and mp3 player mounted under the cabinet. I can prepare meals or wash dishes and enjoy listening to music on tap. This afternoon, I was rolling meatballs and reveling in the sun pouring into my kitchen windows while listening to one of my favorite albums of all time. It’s CRYSTAL ILLUSIONS, by Sergio Mendes and Brasil ’66.

I first heard the album when I was in sixth grade…and loved every track on it.  But the song that blew me away…and still does…is the title track: “Crystal Illusions.” It’s an  eight minute masterpiece that still sends shivers down my spine with its complex rhythms, variations in tempo, and crescendo ending. Whenever I hear it, I am in Ear Heaven!

Hear it for yourself…and let me know if you like it, too.



Fingerprinting at some theme parks

February 10, 2015

One of my favorite pictures hanging on our wall shows our family at Disneyworld. It was 1999 and a helpful employee snapped a photo of all of us just after we had enjoyed a delicious breakfast with Winnie the Pooh and his friends from the Hundred Acre Wood.

It was an expensive trip…but filled with wonderful memories for our family.

But what I heard today makes me glad that we no longer have young kids to take to Disneyworld…or Seaworld or Universal in Florida.

I just got off the phone with my sister, who said she and her husband had just returned from a trip to Florida. On the way back home, they visited Disneyworld. They expected to spend a lot of money at Disneyworld…but they didn’t expect their fingerprint to be scanned at Disneyworld.

Boy. Until today, I had been living in ignorant bliss about the realities of visiting a Florida theme park in 2015. After the initial shock, I started researching this  story and discovered it started in 2006. And it also happens at the Seaworld and Universal parks in Florida. They all use fingerprint scanners.

Why? After the initial shock and feeling of intimidation, my sister actually visited guest services to find out the purpose for the fingerprint scan. She talked to an employee there who said it was…drum roll…park policy. (Never mind that it was my sister’s policy not to be fingerprinted at a theme park!) But my sister asked for a more specific reason than “That’s our policy.” The employee left for a while to talk with a supervisor. Then she came back and told my sister that the fingerprint scan was for her security!

Imagine planning a trip to Disneyworld…arranging time off for yourself and your kids…making hotel reservations…waking everyone early…driving to the park…paying for parking…walking with a sea of people ready to flood the entrance gates and hundreds more behind you waiting their turn to enter. You see no signs telling you what to expect. Then you buy your ticket and step up to enter the park. That’s when you’re told to place your finger on the scanner.

There’s no sign about the fingerprint scan before you buy your ticket. So after you buy your ticket, how likely is it that you’ll say “no” to the fingerprint scan…especially if you think that’s the only way you can now get into this park? After all you’ve gone through to get to this point, the pressure to go along with this procedure is immense…even if you believe that your privacy is being violated.

In such a high-pressure environment, how many people would have the presence of mind to ask if there’s another way to get through the gate?

After reading articles about this on Boing Boing and Fox 35 in Orlando, I learned that there is another way you can get inside the park: You can show a photo ID instead. But you have to ask…because there’s no sign about that, either.

Back in 1999, when we were planning our family trip to Disneyworld, we bought several of those guidebooks that tell readers what expect at Disneyworld. We learned the best strategy for maximizing our day at the park…including starting our day at the back of the park and working our way toward the entrance by nightfall.

Little did we know that in 2015, families also would need to decide if they should let their fingerprint get scanned.

If Winnie the Pooh were asked for a fingerprint scan before he could enter the Hundred Acre Wood, I bet he’d sit down at his Thoughtful Spot and ask himself if he’d rather visit somewhere else.




Jazzy National Anthem is hauntingly beautiful

November 4, 2014

Okay, I must be on a National Anthem kick. (Please see my earlier post of Marvin Gaye’s sexy rendition of The Star-Spangled Banner.) But today is an election day. So I thought I’d share a video of jazz trumpeter Chris Botti performing the National Anthem at a recent football game.I love Chris Botti’s music. Like the Colts WR Reggie Wayne, I also found this rendition emotionally touching. I hope you enjoy it…then go out and vote!


Good advice for writers

September 30, 2014

I saw a column written by AK Turner on The Huffington Post: 10 Rules for Aspiring Women Writers.  I encourage all writers…women or men, aspiring or experienced…to read this short piece. From her list, my favorites are:

“Never dwell on what you have not done.”

I feel this is good advice for everyone. After all, there will always be many more things we could do compared to things we’ve done. Focusing on our never-finished to-do list will only feed our guilt and make us feel less-than. I’ve also found that focusing on what I’ve already done inspires me to do more.

“Do unto other writers as you would have them do unto you.”

So true! That’s why I feel blessed to belong to a supportive and inspiring group, called Detroit Working Writers. I find it therapeutic hanging around with people who don’t consider me anal for editing out adjectives or rearranging paragraphs for better flow.

“Never feel ashamed of time spent reading.”

Ah, sometimes I do find that reading seems like a guilty pleasure. I enjoy it as much as eating dark chocolate…except for reading and eating dark chocolate at the same time! Yet reading is vital for writers.  Mrs. Millie Loftus, who taught sophomore composition at Dominican High School in Detroit, used to say: “If you want to be a good writer, be a good reader.” So true, Mrs. Loftus!

I’d like to add my own item to the list: “I don’t know what I think until I’ve written about it.” I’ve come to accept that the process of writing is magical and spiritual in its own way. Just engaging in the act of writing transforms and refines my thoughts…if I let it. If I don’t let the process take over, then my writing stinks.

And on that high note, I’ll stop writing and let you look at that list from AK Turner.




Drive-Up Funeral Visitation…Yes or No?

September 15, 2014

I just saw an article in our local Patch news site about a funeral home in Michigan that’s offering drive-up viewing of deceased persons. I realize the funeral home owners offered some reasons for this service. Still, I’m not convinced that this is the wave of the future.

Maybe I’m old-fashioned. But I thought people decide to spend an hour or two at a funeral home for more than just viewing the remains of the deceased. After all, many people today are choosing to cremate their remains, and there’s not much to see there except an urn or box.

I thought the main reason to visit a funeral home is to offer condolences and comfort to the surviving family and friends. Many families share photos or stories of their loved ones, and visitors share their memories and prayers.

To me, this tradition of physically keeping company with the grieving survivors is most important.

What do you think?




Mandate of Growth

May 13, 2014

“Only in growth, reform and change, paradoxically enough, is true security to be found.”

Anne Morrow Lindbergh


Wish I’d seen this earlier

February 23, 2014

…but at least I’ve seen it now.  I was skimming The Huffington Post this morning and saw a story about a rock band performing an unconventional version of “The Star Spangled Banner.” Okay, maybe it wasn’t everyone’s cup of tea, so to speak. But I give the band kudos for originality.

Then I scrolled down to the bottom of the article where there was a YouTube link to a version of our national anthem performed by Marvin Gaye at a 1983 basketball game.    Wow.    It was the sexiest national anthem I’ve ever heard…and the crowd even found itself clapping along with the groove that Gaye had laid down in that basketball arena.

Truly amazing! I think it’s well worth three minutes of your time!


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