Browsing All Posts published on »October, 2013«

A Halloween Treat: Robbie Burns’ “Tam O’Shanter”

October 31, 2013


Perhaps you are familiar with Cutty Sark Scotch Whiskey, with the ship on the label.  You may know that the liquor is named for the Cutty Sark, a clipper built in 1869 for the tea trade, and later used in the wool trade.  She was fast, holding the speed record from Australia to Britain for […]

Joan Larsen’s Tales of Very High Adventure: Start the Revolution Without Me

October 30, 2013


By Joan Larsen   As we have all come to know, it is a single phone call that is often responsible for changing the direction of our lives – for good or for bad. Rarely do I recall dancing around the room after a call… in fact, never.  But this time – when the phone […]

Saudi Women and the Driving Ban: Every Woman in a Gilded Cage

October 29, 2013


There is no legal ban.  There is no religious ban.  But Saudi Arabia is the only country in the world that refuses to issue driver’s licenses to women.  Last Saturday, women once again got behind the wheel in protest. During my initial training as a young officer, there was a Saudi officer in one of […]

Chris Brown: DC Isn’t LA. Hope You Enjoyed Your Cell.

October 28, 2013


Chris Brown in yet another brawl.  More proof that money doesn’t buy class. I had no idea Chris Brown was in my area until I opened up the news yesterday morning to learn that he was arrested for felony assault outside the W Hotel sometime around 4:30 AM Sunday. Now, first point:  the W Hotel […]

Halloween is One Week Away. Children’s Costumes to Avoid

October 25, 2013


If your little girl is wearing this stuff, she’s a pedophile’s dream.  If your teen is wearing it, she’s jailbait.  That’s all there is to it, so pick something else. Halloween is a week away, and you may be hitting the stores this weekend to get costumes for your kids to wear while enjoying the […]

Looming Obamacare Failure: It’s the Medical Costs, Stupid

October 24, 2013


Cost must taste really bad, because no one wants to eat it. This week, President Obama expressed his frustration at the dismal performance of, the website where the uninsured are supposed to go to sign up for health plans approved by the Affordable Care Act (ACA, or “Obamacare”).  It’s true that the site has […]

Joan Larsen Presents: Growing Up Rockefeller

October 23, 2013


By Joan Larsen Back in those long-ago teenage years – when dreaming seemed to be a major pre-occupation –the newspapers were filled with the lives of the rich and famous.  “Oh,” I am sure I must have thought, “oh, to live the life of a Rockefeller!!”  The grainy black-and-white newspaper photos of their mansions, their […]

Why the Quality of Your Fire Department Matters Even if you Never Have a Fire

October 22, 2013


Home insurance premiums can double or even triple based largely on how well your firemen do their jobs. Lila has had occasion recently to look into home insurance policies.  While doing some cost comparing, the conversation with the agent turned up a little fact that I was previously unaware of:  not only do insurance companies […]

Gypsies, Stereotypes, Offense, and Truth (Updated)

October 21, 2013


Back in the days when parents still told their children fairy tales and scary stories at bedtime, the old saw about Gypsies stealing children was a staple (one famous example was Victor Hugo’s The Hunchback of Notre Dame, in which Esmeralda had been kidnapped by Gypsies as a child).  I had never given the idea […]

Lawsuit Over School’s US Flag Ban: Focusing on the Wrong Issue

October 18, 2013


Recall that back in 2010, a California high school banned students from wearing American flag-themed clothing on Cinco de Mayo.  Yesterday, the resulting lawsuit found its way to the 9th US Circuit Court of Appeals, but the problem warrants a different kind of attention from us all. Live Oak High School administrators cited safety concerns, […]

Food Stamps: Example of a Lot That’s Wrong With Government Entitlements

October 17, 2013


Government handouts of any kind should enable basic emergency survival only, nothing more. When we wrote about “Mountain Dew Mouth,” we touched briefly on one advocate’s efforts to ban the use of food stamps to buy sodas.  I agree, but not because of obesity or dental ramifications; what concerns me is that food stamps – […]

Joan Larsen Encore: Alone in Australia’s Outback

October 16, 2013


By Joan Larsen Mysterious.  Remote.  A faraway place of endless wonders.   Another world – all its own – lies in the direct center of Australia, just waiting to be explored.  Australians call it The Outback — but surprisingly few of them have visited.  Fewer still have explored it from its bottom to The Top End. We did. […]

Tomorrow is National Feral Cat Day

October 15, 2013


Tomorrow, 16 October, is National Feral Cat Day.  I would never have known this if not for some cat interactions around our own house some time ago. It all really started over 20 years ago now, when we rescued two kittens from a rather dismal shelter.  My husband called it “taking them off death row,” […]

In Honor of Columbus Day: That Yummy Columbian Exchange

October 14, 2013


When I lived in Europe, I once had the chance to stay in one of the older homes in Zurich.  The keystone above the doorway was engraved with “1402.”  “Oh, was this house built in 1402?”  I asked, impressed with its age.  “No,” came the reply, “It was renovated in 1402.”  Wow!  As I lay […]

Special From Joan Larsen: The World of Alice Munro

October 11, 2013


By Joan Larsen Author Alice Munro has just become the 13th woman to win the Nobel Prize for literature. There is a limit to the amount of misery and disarray you will put up with, for love, just as there is a limit to the amount of mess you can stand around the house.  You […]

Every School Should Send Out A Letter Like This

October 11, 2013


Carol Hampton Rasco (Since 2001, President and CEO of Reading is Fundamental) sent this post around on Facebook and is encouraging everyone to share.  I think it’s well worth a look… and if you are a school teacher, principal, or administrator, please consider… strongly consider… initiating something like this as a tradition in your own […]

Chicken Nuggets: “Parts is Parts”

October 10, 2013


For the past few days, the headlines have been screaming about the content of fast-food chicken nuggets.  Ever wondered what’s in there?  Well, some enterprising scientists put some under the microscope to find out, and now we’re acting all surprised to find that the mysterious nuggets are less than half meat.  At least, what most […]

Joan Larsen Presents: A Second Look at Tippi of Africa, the Child Who Lived With Wild Animals

October 9, 2013


By Joan Larsen “Fascination” has to be the word so many of us have for that little French girl, born in Namibia (with photographers as parents), whose photos taken with African wild animals – who actually looked tame in her presence – were both beautiful and – yes –  mind-boggling !   Many new photos of  […]

Prospects of Default: Why Are Republicans So Stupid?

October 8, 2013


I’m not liking either of the major parties in American politics these days.  I may very well never vote for any candidate from either of them again.  But the Republicans take the dubious prize for stupidest, most reckless, and most clueless about… well, just about everything, but at the moment I am thinking of a […]

Gloria Allred: Don’t Go After the Wrong Person

October 7, 2013


As a terrified auto driver fled from a threatening mob of motorcyclists in Manhattan, one of the bikers, Edwin Mieses, was run over and injured.  Now Gloria Allred is in the act, but I suspect she’s looking in the wrong direction for someone to blame. As O’Ryan Johnson reports for the Boston Herald: The lawyer […]

In Honor of Oktoberfest: Trachtenmoden!

October 4, 2013


This weekend marks the final days of this year’s Oktoberfest.  Who hasn’t heard of this annual German festival, with its beer and bratwurst, its oom-pah bands and fest tents, and dirndl-clad women and lederhosen-clad men performing traditional Bavarian dances? When we were in Germany, we never did go to the “big Oktoberfest” in Munich.  What […]

Dear Congress: F— You, Too.

October 3, 2013


This Internet meme turned up on my Facebook page a few days ago.  Ironic, isn’t it, that we have to keep paying our taxes… that government workers are furloughed… that government-owned facilities like parks and museums are closed… that veterans may soon lose their VA disability support… that new applications for social security or passports […]

Joan Larsen’s Travel: The Midwest’s Wondrous Hidden Getaway – The American Club

October 2, 2013


By Joan Larsen   More often than we might admit, we find we need a change from the “every day” that has felt – well, often mundane.  A “jump-start” is truly what we need… and perhaps, just a little time “away” would do a world of good.  A special hand-picked getaway, one not too long […]

The Ethics of Postmortem Parenthood

October 1, 2013


As Mikaela Conley reports in Medpage Today:  in Israel, a 17-year-old traffic accident victim’s family obtained a court order to remove and freeze her eggs before taking her off life support, but judges have declined the family’s petition to have the eggs fertilized with donated sperm until the family can prove that their deceased daughter […]