I know Halloween has its lovers and its haters, though probably more lovers than haters.
I happen to be among the Halloween lovers.
I've always loved Halloween, even past the time when I was still considered young enough to put on a costume and go house-to-house collecting candy bars, full-sized candy bars being the Halloween treat de rigueur back in my day.
I remember even being excited on the first Halloween that I stayed home to give out candy to trick-or-treaters instead being among them. It was 1964. I was in eighth grade. I felt very grown-up, even though I still played with Barbies. (See post from 3/6/2014, https://www.ailantha.com/blog/our-barbies-ourselves).
...and thinking that was a cool song for Halloween because it sounded kind of spooky and The Zombies was kind of a spooky name. I think it's because of that song that this particular Halloween stands out so saliently in my memory.
Maybe it's because of the memories of Halloweens past,
...even after our own little ghosts,
...have long grown.
...and remember ourselves being young.
Today I thought I'd rerun a post I wrote on 10/26/2016, two years ago to the day.
...I thought this post might be appropriate and educational and perhaps a clue for anyone who doesn't get what was offensive and wrong with Megyn Kelly's breezy defense of white people wearing blackface on Halloween; for anyone who doesn't understand that Megyn Kelly, for all her success, fame and $17million-a-year salary, is not only dense and tone deaf, but has shown herself to be just another variation - though in her case a public and blaring one - of The Thing. In fact, one could say that Megyn Kelly is The Thing personified.
Read on, and, if need be, may you experience an unfortunate evolution of your own.
Yesterday occurred the regular Wednesday morning meeting of the Panera Posse - my group of gal pals, there are eight of us altogether, though it's a rare week that we can all make it - who get together once a week to have our coffee or tea while we talk about all sorts of things, what we've been up to, our families, our grandkids, our pets, our life events,
...the books we've read, the movies we've seen, a great new recipe or restaurant we've found, our happy news, our sad news, the local news, the national news, politics, basically whatever's on any of our minds.
So yesterday one of the Posse members told us about a day trip she and her husband had taken with a retired colleagues' group to which they belong to Granville, a scenic little Ohio college town about 30 miles outside Columbus.
After lunch in a nice restaurant my friend wanted to visit some of the cute little shops in the town. But when my friend and her husband entered the first store The Thing happened. The Thing that that still happens once in a while when my friend, who is white, and her husband, who is African American, enter a public place together. The sudden silence. The feel of eyes on them. My friend's desire to leave, just leave.
It didn't happen in every store in the town, of course, and it doesn't happen all the time. But it did happen again that day.
"Oh, I know what you mean," sympathized one of our other friends who just turned 70 and who spent most of her career working in Washington D.C. in the Office of Human Resources Management.
"Oh, that happens to my daughter, too, when she goes shopping," said my first friend, whose daughter is biracial. Then she went on to tell us of a variation on the theme that happened a few days ago.
He daughter, an attorney in her early thirties, was shopping with a white friend at a local White House Black Market store. As they roamed the upscale boutique, each picking out clothes to try on, a white saleswoman approached the white woman and asked if she could open a dressing room for her. The salesperson did not return to my friend's daughter, who also had some items draped over her arm, to ask if she could open a dressing room for her, but stayed attentive to the white woman, returning and retrieving items to and from the racks for her while ignoring my friend's daughter.
"At least it's not as bad as it used to be," sighed the friend who threatened to end up kissing a too-closely-following salesperson.
"No, it is bad!" I jumped in, "When it happens to you, even if it only happens once in a while, or once a year, or once every few years, even if it only happens once, it's bad! It's wrong!" I ranted on, telling my friends that I was so sorry, that I felt so badly that they still had to put up with that kind of thing.
My first friend smiled at me. "You've evolved", she said.
When I asked her what she meant she reminded that when she first met me years ago and talked about the kind of treatment she and her husband sometimes received in public places I'd been incredulous. I just couldn't believe that that sort of subtle racism was still alive and well and thriving in and around Columbus, Ohio.
"But now you believe it," my friend said.
Yes, now, sadly, I believe it.
A couple of days ago, after the Mega Millions jackpot had crept upwards of one-and-a-half billion dollars, I posted this on my Facebook page:
...which generated a few shares and a subsequent flurry of comments over where the money is really going and how come the schools aren't flush with money.
At one point I added this comment:
...to which another reader replied that I might want to research that myself, to which I replied:
And so I did. I had to search and search the internet to find some answers - most sites had to do with how to play the lottery or how the jackpot money would be paid out or how to collect the jackpot money if one won - but I did find some answers, more or less, though what I found turned out to be a weence more complicated and involved than I'd anticipated.
Therefore, if anyone else besides me is interested in the simple-version answers to the above questions, read on.
So, then, the Mega Millions lottery - and the Powerball lottery, too - is jointly run by a coalition of the 44 states which sell the lottery tickets. According to a report by cnbcnews.com the money taken in from the sale of Mega Millions tickets is divided thus:
60% is given out in prize money.
15% goes to retailers, marketing and operations.
25% goes back to the states to spend as they wish.
Therefore the most recent $1.6 billion prize, most of which was won the other night by somebody in South Carolina, was only 60% of all the ticket revenue taken in. Which, according to my calculations, means that people in this country spent over $2.6 billion since July 24 when the last Mega Millions lottery prize was paid out.
In the past 3 months a little over $2.6 billion was collected in Mega Millions money.
$1.6 billion (60%) was (or soon will be) paid out (minus the taxes) in prize money.
A little over $400 million will be paid to retailers, marketing and operations.
And $600 million will be paid to the states.
But that $600 million has to be divided among 44 states, so that means that each state will get a little over $13.6 million.
So that answers the questions of how much lottery money is collected, how much is paid out, and how much the states get. Which begs the next question of what the states do with their share of the Mega Millions money, which, as far as I could find out, nobody seems to know for sure.
Most of the states purportedly earmark lottery income for education, though the money tends to be tossed into the general state fund, and how much of it is actually spent on education is a question of faith. In any case, it's obvious that lottery money has not, as initially promised, bailed out education in this country.
In Ohio, for example, an investigation by the Columbus Dispatch found that, while state officials did use lottery money for education, they then cut the amount of the lottery money out of state funding for education.
So for Ohio, the lottery is a zero net profit for education, but more money for the general state fund to spend on whatever state legislators want to spend it on, which is, well, who knows what?
Come think of it I guess the Mega Millions, Powerball, and all the other state lotteries are, in effect, a sneaky way to collect more taxes.
In fact, with the U.S. national debt up over $21 trillion maybe the U.S. Treasury should start running a Mega Trillions lottery to raise more revenue. But it would probably be smarter hold off doing it until the next president. By then our country will be mega-broke.
This morning when I looked at the front page of the New York Times and saw this:
...I felt as if I'd had the wind momentarily knocked out of me.
I felt worse after reading the article under the headline.
According to the article the Trump administration, which has already tried to bar transgenders from the military and take away their rights to health care under the Affordable Care Act, is considering "a government-wide effort to roll back recognition and protections of transgender people under civil rights law."
The Health and Human Services department contends that government agencies need to adopt a uniform definition of gender and must "define sex as either male or female, unchangeable, and determined by the genitals that a person is born with."
This definition would initially be applied to Title IX, the civil rights law that bans gender discrimination in federally-funded education programs, but Health and Human Services is calling on The Departments of Education, Justice, and Labor to likewise adopt its definition in order to establish uniformity in government regulations.
And if the Justice Department rules that everyone must be defined as either male or female based strictly to the genitals they were born with, then this rule can be enforced across all government agencies.
According to the Times, this new ruling would "eradicate federal recognition of the estimated 1.4 million Americans who have opted to recognize themselves — surgically or otherwise — as a gender other than the one they were born into."
In other words, when it to came to protected civil rights and human rights, transgenders would cease to exist and so would their rights. They'd have no laws on their side protecting them from discrimination, sexual harassment or sexual assault. How could they have any laws on their side when legally they don't exist?
It's likely that I'm more outraged than most Americans with a shred of decency are outraged by this latest act of inhumanity by the Trump Administration; and in truth I'm more frightened than outraged.
Because for me this is not just a matter of conscience, of justice, of doing unto others as I would have them do unto me, of being my brothers' and sisters' keepers;
I can't protect or save them alone; please, every American who reads this, please don't let this happen to our country.
Please don't let this happen to my child.
So then, Saudi Arabia's latest story du jour of what happened to journalist Jamal Khashoggi, who went missing two weeks ago after he entered the Saudi Consulate in Istanbul to pick up some paperwork for his upcoming marriage, is that Khashoggi died inside the Consulate during a fistfight that he got himself into. With eighteen men.
President of the United States Donald Trump, when asked if he believed this fist fight story over the previous ones that (1) the Saudis had no idea what anyone was talking about because Khashoggi left the Consulate in good health, and (2) Khashoggi died during an interrogation that accidentally went a little too far, he replied, "I do. I do." Donald Trump believes the fistfight story. (He likewise believed the previous explanations. Because Saudi Arabia has promised to buy - but has not yet bought - $110 billion in arms from the U.S. And because the Saudis do buy apartments and hotels from Donald Trump and have paid him lots of money since he took office).
Fine. If Donald Trump believes it then I'll believe it, too.
I'll believe all of the above on one condition:
Show me the body.
"Saudis Make Arrests in Killings," https://www.dispatch.com/zz/news/20181019/saudi-arabia-fires-five-top-officials-arrests-18-after-admitting-khashoggi-was-killed-in-fight-at-consulate
"Saudi Arabia Says Critic Was Killed In Consulate Fight," https://www.nytimes.com/2018/10/19/world/middleeast/jamal-khashoggi-dead-saudi-arabia.html
"2017 United States - Saudi Arabia Arms Deal," https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/2017_United_States%E2%80%93Saudi_Arabia_arms_deal
"'I Like them Very Much:' Trump has long-standing business ties with Saudis, who have boosted his hotels since he took office," https://www.washingtonpost.com/politics/i-like-them-very-much-trump-has-long-standing-business-ties-with-saudis-who-have-boosted-his-hotels-since-he-took-office/2018/10/11/0870df24-cd67-11e8-a360-85875bac0b1f_story.html?utm_term=.48686c13da75
A few days ago I talked to my daughter who lives on the Southern California coastline.
She was worried about last week's report by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change that warned of near future devastating droughts, world-wide shortages of food and water, rising coastal waters, behemoth wildfires and a massive dying off of sea life, all due to a catastrophic warming of the planet from greenhouse gas emissions from fossil fuels (1).
My daughter and her husband were talking about keeping several month's supply of non-perishable food, water and other life-sustaining necessities on hand. She wanted to know if Tom and I were planning on doing the same.
"What for?" I asked her, "According to the report the crisis is twenty years away."
"Mom," said my daughter, "the crisis is here. There are already food, water and gas shortages in Florida."
"Oh, well, that's just because of the hurricane," said I. But then it hit me: It's warming global temperatures that are causing the bigger, slower, wetter - and consequently stronger and more destructive - hurricanes (2).
...and this past summer's historic droughts and biggest wildfire in history in California (5).
And because of these global warming climate changes, parts of California, Texas, North Carolina, Florida, and, most tragically, Puerto Rico,
...remain unlivable or barely livable.
Looting is rampant.
According to the the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, unless fossil fuel emissions stop immediately in twenty years the whole planet will be suffering the likes of what the residents of the Florida Panhandle are suffering today.
My daughter is worried. I'm worried. Much of our country and the world is worried.
And the the response to the dire Climate Change report by the person who has the power to get the wheels turning to do something to prevent the coming disaster?
1. "Major Climate Report Describes A Strong Risk of Crisis as Early as 2040," https://www.nytimes.com/2018/10/07/climate/ipcc-climate-report-2040.html
2. "A Warmer World Makes Hurricanes Wetter and More Intense,"
3. "Record-breaking rain leads to DFW's Wettest Autumn Yet. Will We See More Flooding?"
4. "Flooding Concerns Stretch Into Another Day in Central Texas," https://abcnews.go.com/US/flooding-concerns-stretch-day-central-texas/story?id=58581093
5."California Fire Now the Largest in State History,"
I asked her if she'd like me to come to Cincinnati for a day of shopping and dinner, which is what we did last year (see post from 10/14/2017), but she said she would rather drive up to Columbus with Theresa - my daughter, her wife - for some shopping since in Columbus there's a big and tall women's shop called Torrid where she hoped to find a pair of dress shoes.
As Theresa had to put in a few hours of work on Saturday morning, it was early afternoon before she and Callie arrived, .hence we decided to start out with lunch at Panera.
After lunch Theresa - who hates clothes shopping - begged off the shopping trip, and so Callie and I headed for the Torrid at Easton Town Center,
...where she found several cute pieces,
...and some cute shoes.
Unbeknownst to us it was Homecoming night, and so in addition to the usual Saturday night crowd, .were crowds of nicely-dressed teenagers.
...and were soon chowing down on that soft, warm, out-of-this-world bread with the herb butter that is the Spaghetti Warehouse hallmark,
...followed by appetizers.
...and spinach artichoke dip.
For dinner we ordered among us:
After dinner we stood out in the Spaghetti Warehouse parking lot for a moment to take in the pretty view of the Columbus skyline,
...then we drove to Tommy and Emily's place in the Brewery District, where their sweet poochie Cici waited patiently,
...and where we had a Dairy Queen birthday cake.
As we sat around eating our ice cream cake Callie at one point said, "This is my best birthday ever."
I was a little surprised to hear her say that. After all, what was so special about going shopping, going out for dinner at the Spaghetti Warehouse then having a Dairy Queen Cake?
I asked her why this birthday was so much better than any other but she didn't explain much, saying that it just was.
But I think I know what she meant. This is Callie's third birthday as a transgender woman. I think she meant that each year life gets better.
The other day I walked into the Kroger's at the Hunter's Ridge shopping center in Gahanna, Ohio,
It looked like some high-tech shopping gadgetry not intended for the likes of techno-challenged individuals of a certain age such as moi, and my initial intimidation caused me to quickly pass by the kiosk, which I imagined most folks were doing, considering that most of the gadgets were sitting in their holders unused.
But then I thought, heck, if this is the wave of the future I might as well start surfing now.
So I turned around and headed back to the kiosk,
...and a few of the plastic bags provided (these days I usually bring my own recycled bags to the supermarket, but alas, this trip I left my bags on the front seat of my car and had not the patience to go and retrieve them, of which I'm not particularly proud),
...then I followed the start-up instructions on the scanner, which were in fact not at all difficult follow,
...and commenced my maiden voyage on the Kroger Scan, Bag, Go.
How the operation works is that one points the scanner at the bar code of the item one wishes to purchase and presses the scan button, which causes the price of the item to appear on the screen and apparently in the memory of the scanner.
Should one change one's mind about an already-scanned item one has the option of erasing the item from the scanner's list.
Now, the produce section is a weence more involved, though, I thought, quite ingenious.
First one scans the bar code on the fruit or vegetable.
Next one brings the item over to the weigh station and places it on the scale.
Then one scans the bar code on the scale, and the scanner puts all the info together and the name, weight, and price of your purchase pops up on the scanner screen and is added to the shopping list stored in your scanner,
...which will let you know when all the info has been digested, at which time you will be directed to put your produce into your cart and move on with your shopping.
Then when you get to the self-check out,
Then you just pay and, your groceries being already bagged, you're ready to go. And that's how Scan, Bag, Go works.
So, was it faster and more convenient?
I'm not really sure.
First of all there was the issue of the scanner, which you have to carry around in your hand, or else set in the child seat of your cart while taking care that it doesn't fall through one of the spaces or slats.
I generally had to hold the item in my hand while I scanned it, or else put it into my cart and reach into my cart to scan it,
...though I eventually figured out that it was easiest to scan the item if I first set it on the child seat.
Then there was having to stop and bag each item as it was scanned. That felt like kind of a hassle.
Not to mention that the whole process was complicated by the fact that my daughter called me while I was doing my Scan, Bag, Go-ing, so trying to scan and bag things with one hand while trying to hold my phone in the other hand was a real juggling act and, I'm sure, slowed the process down by many percentage points. In fact I had to put down my phone often just to get the scanning and bagging done, so I can say with assurance that the Scan, Bag, Go model is incompatible with the talking-on-the-phone-while-shopping model. Unless maybe one has a Bluetooth.
However, I did have one moment of dismay.
After I'd removed my credit card from the machine and returned it to my purse I turned back to my cart to get my scanner and return it to the scanner-return rack at the end of the pay area.
My scanner wasn't in my cart. I looked under my cart and all around on the floor. I looked in my purse and in all my bags. I'd had that thing literally seconds ago. I had a scary moment of wondering if I was having an initial episode of some category of dementia. I didn't really know what to do. Finally I approached the cashier who was monitoring the pay area and, embarrassed, told her that I'd somehow lost my scanner.
"Oh, no, I grabbed it from your cart and took care of it," she said cheerfully.
I'll withhold my verdict on this new shopping technology until a future occasion.
Last Sunday, September 30, as I stood at my table beneath my tent in my designated spot on Mill Street in Olde Gahanna, Ohio for the purpose of pedaling my books at the Gahanna Historical Society Flea Market, I thought to myself, Well, here's something I never saw myself doing.
In fact I was thinking the same thing at the several previous First Friday Gahanna Arts in the Alley events - which I guess were technically flea markets, too, if smaller and artier ones - at which I set up a table in July
But as I've learned - as I guess all authors learn very soon after their books are published if they didn't know beforehand - books are like art pieces, and just as artists need to be involved in marketing and selling their art, authors also need to be involved in marketing and selling their books.
Strangely enough - or at least it seems strange to me - I haven't had to search around to find venues at which to sell my book. The opportunities seem to seek me out, as was the case with the Gahanna Flea Market.
It was during one of the Arts in the Alleys that an event organizer from the Gahanna Historical Society came up to my table and asked me if I would be a vendor at the Historical Society's up-coming flea market and offered me a discount on a table.
And so I signed up to be a flea market vendor, declining the discount offered, considering it a civic duty to support the Historical Society.
In truth I was a weence nervous about the event, especially about where I would park my car on narrow Mill Street, how I would find my spot, and how I would schlepp all my stuff from my car to my spot.
However the process went quite smoothly, in no small part thanks to my hubby Tom, who came along to help with the schlepp and the set-up.
Apparently each vendor was given an arrival time, and we arrived at Mill Street at my appointed time of 7:15 to find that the vendors were just parking their vehicles any old where on Mill Street, even in the middle of the road, and leaving them there until they were finished setting up.
And so we did the same.
Thankfully, Tom had come up with the smart idea of bringing along a wheelbarrow in which to cart my table, chairs, tent, and wares.
Also thankfully, event organizers rode around directing everyone to their spots.
And so we found my spot and began the set-up,
...starting with the tent I found on clearance at Menard's for $21.99,
...not counting the four 89-cent concrete blocks I bought to stabilize the legs,
After we were all set up Tom left and my daughter Theresa arrived to help me woman the table.
Our next-door tent-neighbor was a vintage crafts business,
Shoppers began arriving early, and though the flea market was scheduled to begin at 9:00 am, I'd sold my first book by 8:50.
Soon after and for the rest of the day Mill Street was crowded,
As for Theresa and me, we spent most of the day at the table,
...selling a few books, giving away a lot of bookmarks and sample pages from my novel,
Theresa and I each took turns taking occasional breaks, for lunch,
...or for zipping over to nearby Creekside Plaza,
...where can be found some of the cleanest, nicest public restrooms on the planet.
The Flea Market closed at 4 pm, at precisely which time we vendors were urged to quickly close up and pack up our respective shops so that Mill Street could re-open for business and traffic.
...and now I can add "flea market vendor" to my resume.
Though the fix is probably in for Brett Kavanaugh becoming the next Supreme Court justice, today I nonetheless called the offices of Susan Collins, Joe Manchin, and Jeff Flake and left each a message urging them to vote "no" on Kavanaugh's confirmation. You do what you can.
If anyone else wants to call their offices to leave a last-minute message here are their numbers:
Susan Collins: (202) 224-2523
Jeff Flake: (202) 224-4521
Joe Manchin: (202) 224-3954
To me it's no longer a question of whether or not Brett Kavanaugh assaulted Christine Blasey Ford when they were youngsters. That's something that even the FBI seems to be unable to prove beyond a shadow of a doubt. But what is 100% true is that while sitting at a Senate Judiciary hearing Kavanaugh was rude, flippant, arrogant and extremely partisan.
But more critical than his bad behavior is the fact that he lied.
Oh, maybe the lies were over insignificant things, little white lies. But they were lies all the same, and the man was under oath. Which begs the question: if it wasn't important that "Devil's Triangle," "bouf" and "FFFFF" referred to sex acts then why did Kavanaugh feel the need to lie about what they meant?
In truth it doesn't really matter why Kavanaugh lied but he did, as everyone - including myself - who googled those words knows. Of all the things that can't be proven about Brett Kavnaugh's past behavior we have proof of the kind of man he is today.
The question, then, for the several Senators who are still on the fence about Kavanaugh is whether or not white lies matter.
Some of us would say that for a prospective Supreme Court justice they do.
by Patti Liszkay
Buy it on Amazon:
by Patti Liszkay
Buy it on Amazon:
"Equal And Opposite Reactions"
by Patti Liszkay
Buy it on Amazon:
The Book Loft
of German Village,
Or check it out at the Columbus Metropolitan Library
I am a traveler just visiting this planet and reporting various and sundry observations,
hopefully of interest to my fellow travelers.