Monday, May 25, 2009

Charter is more dead than "live"

I get the notification through email that I have "earned" Charter "Live it" points, or some such nonsense. I can "redeem" these points for discounts and "unbelievable" rewards.

When I click on the link it takes me to the redemption center where everything is "sold out". My email is dated may 11, 2009 and here it is the 12th and all of the prizes are "sold out". Riiiiight. I sure do believe those items were all available in the first place.

In the second place, the "unbelievable" rewards? They are BOGUS! I have accumulated 4,666 points by spending $113 a month for cable and internet. We do NOT have any movie channels as part of this deal! We do not "bundle" our phone in because we get TWO lines from Vonnage for the same price that Charter is charging for one. Yeah, we need two for a variety of reasons. But if we were only getting one line it would be 17.99 from Vonnage and it is $35 from Charter ($25 for the first six months, but even then when I talked to Charter about that supposed special it was only for new Charter customers NOT pre-existing ones).

With my 4,666 accumulated points I look through the redemption pages of "sold out" items and they are asking for 24,800 points for a Wilson BASKETBALL!! They want 11,000 points for a barbeque set (a pair of tongs and a spatula)! Riiiight, sold out! How many did they have at the beginning, four? I actually find it hard to believe that someone has saved up a year's worth of points to spend them on a barbeque set that you can buy at Deals Only (or any dollar store or Walmart) for $9.99, maximum.

I shunned the ridiculous and went for the ludicrous. I spent my points on the supposed entries into the sweepstakes. I should have seen how many points each was first. As it was I saw three sweepstakes and when the first one said that it would cost 1,000 points assumed the others were the same and redeemed for one, a chance to win "32GB iPod® Touch, Bose® SoundDock® portable music system, and $200 iTunes gift card."

For 2,000 points I could go for either the " Panasonic Plasma HDTV, one (1) Phillips Home Theater System, and one (1) Sony Playstation 3 with Motorstorm and Wireless Controllers" or One day of surfing lessons for two at Billabong Surf Camp in Manhattan Beach, CA; Round-trip coach air transportation for two to Los Angeles from a major metropolitan airport in the continental U.S. (travel June 12-14, 2009); two nights hotel accommodations; $250 American Express® gift card. I went for the home entertainment center.

I really don't like Charter. I wish we had more choices for internet and cable. We have either Charter or Satellite. Having tried both, Charter is only slightly better and that is only because we live in a bit of a dip of land which makes finding a good line of sight for the sattelite difficult on rainy days when there is cloud cover. Our friends on Green Mountain have had NO difficulties getting their internet off the satellite, although they have had problems with bandwidth.

Bah, humbug on Charter.

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

19th Street ~ And so it begins

Can you recall exactly when a story has begun? Can you say, "This story begun here!" and go forward without any explanation necessary of where various parts came into play? As I read the book my eldest daughter compiled for me (and avoid the phone messages and emails from the attorney general's office, lawyers giving me their opinion, emails denying any knowledge, messages of "no comment" etc...) I laugh as I know, "the rest of the story" or the "real story" or sometimes wonder, "what the heck?" on stories I don't know about at all!

Each of them weave in and out of others so I am unsure of how to tell the rest of the story, answering questions asked and half told tales. All I can say is that for now, this is how I will try to do it. I am sure I will hear from you if you are not satisfied. Remember, you asked and you know you are a part of it so you cannot complain that I am, "telling tales out of school" as Grandma Bea would complain.

I was the eldest of five siblings, now the eldest of four. We lost one soul to drugs. Her body remains to plague us at the oddest times but the soul we loved is long gone, leaving behind a crazed being who has the memories of the playmate we grew up with but uses them in vile ways to pounce when we are often at our most vulnerable.

Living next door to us was my mother's younger sister who had four children and the nine of us made up a pack who ran (or so it seemed to us) 19th street on Irving. All the neighbors knew us by name, and they were all Mrs. this or Mr. that, no first names used.

Our dearest neighbors were the Gilleses. Mr. Gilles was the "head custodian" of Central School and later the Junior High School where our grandfather worked, after retiring from 25 years in the Coast Guard. Mrs. Gilles had polio and sat forever in a wheel chair. They both had nothing but kind words for us children. Their daughter, Pam and Gale, were (on the rare occassions that our parents went out) our babysitters. Mr. Gilles took great care of Mrs. Gilles and would always bring her outside on sunny days. Their home sat at the very top of 19th street, up a very steep driveway. His yard was straight down and he would use a rope to mow it, lowering the mower down and pulling it back up with the rope.

We had a HUGE apple tree in our yard which gave us the best apples. Small and crunchy, mostly sweet but just enough bitter to make the taste last a bit longer. In the corner of our picketed yard was a tall, tall, yew tree. In the winter time it would freeze and the top would droop over from the weight of the frost until it looked like a question mark.

A spring ran through our side yard and down into our basement, which was partially cement and partially mud until my father "finished it". Our house started out one floor, one bedroom, with an unfinished basement and an attic. When we moved, almost a dozen years later, the house was two stories with a finished basement, five bedrooms, a dining room, t.v. room and living room. We have all said, many times, that the stupidest thing we ever did was sell that house.

It was built in 1924ish, we found a newspaper in the attic once which had a date of the '20s on it. Long gone now. It was bigger on the inside than it looked on the out. You know those kinds of houses. The kind of house that you lived in when you were young and was so very big but when you go back now it is so very tiny.

The inside of our house contained pirates' ships and wonderlands. Wherever our children's imaginations fell short our father filled in for us most adeptly. The three-toe man waited fiendishly every night to chomp off two of our toes if we left feet dangling out of the bed. Witchie Poo was in the closet, waiting to fly around the room. And in the basement lived the cat with the razor blade in its mouth!

For years we only had three bedrooms. One bedroom for mom and dad. One bedroom for me and d with the other three sharing. As we grew the configurations would change. Mom and Dad gave up the master bedroom for the four girls, the lone boy had the middle room (which the stairs came up into and there was no privacy, with mom and dad taking the much smaller end room.

In the summer time the upstairs was hot and humid. There were only two windows in the whole of it and the doors would have to left open of the master bedroom and the small bedroom in order for a cross breeze to get through. In the winter we had heat from the wood stove in the basement. A real wood stove. The kind with a tinder box, an oven, hotplates on top that you lifted up with a tool. It made the best chili and corn bread. We knew it was the woodstove because our mother, um, well, she lacked necessary time it took to properly cook on an electric stove (that must be it, she still likes to cook "cajun").

Our yard seemed so very HUGE. In the back was a HUGE fence and when we climbed it to peak over was a deep gully between our home and the homes down on Irving. The fence was lined with morning glories, which made the best "squash bombs" a kid could want. Much better than water balloons, you never had to ask if you could have a squash bomb fight, it "just happened".

Along the fence neighboring the McDonalds (a strange, recluse, couple who we rarely saw but heard on occassion when she was yelling at him as he departed hastily from the home), was a thick laurel hedge, which we refered to as money trees. The leaves financed our "stores" and were our "loot" in our bank and train robberies. We also used the leaves as tacos, plates, hats and a variety of other foods. No matter how many leaves we picked those bushes never went bare.

Our apple tree was our constant companion. It's limbs were low enough for even the smallest of us to start up it, yet at the top it was even with our roof. It was out pirate's ship when the wind blew or it was an exotic tree in the tropics when we played Tarzan. We hung rope swings from its boughs and had small platforms for temporary tree forts. Because it was a fruit bearing tree we didn't put nails into it or weaken its limbs (much, just 14-20 kids clambering all over it, jumping, hopping and leaping).

Also in our yard was a whirli-bird, a swings set and slide with a glider, a sand box which (when covered) could also act as a stage, a camillia bush, various flower gardens (trampled), sometimes vegetable gardens, dogs, cats, rabbits, stray hamsters, deer, moles, possum, raccoons, and children, more children and then some more children. Oh yes, and bikes and balls. Every sort of sport equipment that was possible to have in the sixties. Skateboards, mitts, footballs, baseballs, basketballs, hoops, ping-pong tables, those little shorty pool tables, anything and everything.

We were surrounded by woods. Neither the Mean People, nor the Nice People had built their homes yet and all that land was woods. Our neighbors were the Riggs, the Pattersons and the Grahams (aside from the McDonalds and our aunt). After the Riggs moved the Vetriceks moved in and after them Perry and his chows. And for now, I will leave it at that.

Sunday, May 10, 2009

The swinging doors of life

I sat and cried for over an hour looking at my mother's day gift this year. I have never been more shocked, honored, pleased, humbled, and truly amazed in my life. You all pulled this one off in SPECTACULAR style! And I thank-you, most humbly, thank-you!

This was going to be a smart ass post. I was going to give the "correct" [i.e. MY] version of stories that were told, finish the half-stories, add my own but today I just can't. Each time I open the book I am overwhelmed at the labor of love it took to pull this together, the love notes from old friends, family, and my children's friends. It takes my breath away. And yes, I am crying AGAIN.

Eldest rounded up old friends and asked them for memories they have of childhood with me. Then she asked for family to contribute stories from our childhood, and then stories from her and her siblings friends of me. She posted the last on her facebook.

The response she got was incredible. The people were such a diverse group from all walks and different chapters of my life and to see them all unfold in one place took my breathe away. While I can see how I have changed over the (mumble, mumble) years, it is amazing to see how much of the essence of me was there from the very start.

Always in the lead, always looking for adventure, always directing the "action", always wanting everyone to "be involved" (whether or not participants wanted to be), always planning (some might call it plotting), always worrying, always caring, always finding a 'cause' and an 'adventure', leading more than one down the wrong path only to end up in the right place safe and sound (okay, slightly bruised and a little late but we arrived and inevitably saved the day - okay - okay - suffered consequences -whatever)!

Over the last few years we have prepared more than a few funerals and Eldest said that it is sad that people have to wait until they are dead to hear good things about themselves. She wondered what it would do if people heard these things while they were still alive. Although she has said this on more than one occassion I never had the slightest clue that I was to be the first "victim" of her idea. I cannot express in words how delighted I am to have been the "victim" of this act.

And so I thank you, one and all, old friends who contributed to this marvelous book. Eldest bound it in hard cover, and filled it with the pictures you gave her. To all of the dear friends of the children who replied I thank-you for allowing me to be a part of your lives. I never knew but you have inspired me to thank those who maybe have never known what they meant to me and how much they influenced MY life. We each chose whose shoulders to stand on, I am honored you chose to stand on mine.

For those who have no idea what I am writing about, over the next few weeks I hope to be blogging about many memories this book has dredged up. For those who hate trips down memory lanes, don't check back for a couple of months! For those who want to hear about the TRUE stories of witchy-poo, the adventures of the blue gremlin, the lost children of the Irving Forests, stay tuned. And, if the statute of limitations hasn't run out yet in your family you'd better email me so I can use a pseudonym for your name!

Love you all so very much ~ cb

Saturday, May 09, 2009

Sushi in the Kremlin

What color is God's skin? What color is God's skin? Is it Black, Brown, Yellow or White? Everything is equal in the good Lord's sight.

Consultation is finding out, what everyone else is thinking about. You listen to them, they listen to you, then you do what MOST want to do.

I speak English, Hans speaks Dutch, we don't get together much. Everyone should learn one way, to say the things they want to say.

A plea for one world, is heard in many different lands, this is a plea from a world that is hungry for peas (one reason that we should learn to annunciation better).

Red Grammer songs (we were sooo excited to see him on Sesame Street). Listen can you hear the sound. Hearts beating, all the world around. Down in the valley, out in the plain. Everywhere around the world, a heartbeat sounds the same. Black or white, red or tan, its the heart of the family of man. Oh oh, beating away. Oh oh, beating away. Oh oh, beating away.

Baha, Jalal, Jamal,'Azamat,, Nur, Rahmat, Kalimat, Kamal, & Asma, Izzt, Mashiyyat, Ilm. Qudrat, Qawl, Masail, Sharaf, Sultan, Mulk, Ala. Splendour, Glory, Beauty, Grandeur, Light and Mercy, Words, Perfection and Names, Might and Will and Knowledge, Power, Speech, Questions and Honour, Sovereignty, Dominion and Loftiness. Sovereignty, Dominion and Loftiness. These are the names of our months! Yah!

Car songs of Baha'i families.

Friday, May 08, 2009

Rumminations on Ruhi

Wow, what a month has zipped by!

Ruhi Book 7 was completed and was FANTASTIC, from the presenters point of view, at least. I have so much fun giving a class or seminar with hubby. I love it when we are in-sync with one another and it seems, of late, we see each other so seldom that we don't have time to be in or out of sync so five weeks of having two day six hour seminars was grand.

On the last day we had a facilitator gathering for the last two hours, with everyone in Clatsop & Tillamook Counties who had completed book 7 invited for a potluck dinner first. We then went into a half hour devotional and then discussion on the Ridvan message and The American Baha'i, reading about growth in many communities and how that pertains to our communities in Tillamook and Clatsop Counties.

We then had a fifteen minute break during which hubby and I quickly set up the projector, netbook and cd player. Everyone was asked to adjourn to the outdoors for five minutes so they couldn't see what else we were up to. They were told that when they entered the house they should do so by the front door and quietly take their seats, remaining silent, read section 7 of the third unit of book 7. Those who have taken the course know that this is the dramatization section on the Seven Martyrs of Tehran.

One of components of the RUHI curriculum is appreciation of the arts, to make all art forms an integral part of community life, from devotionals to Feast, and in all parts of Baha'i culture look for the beauty and that which creates a sense of awe, joy, and upliftment of senses. We are asked to take story telling to the next level, not merely reading from a book, but to try to evoke a spiritual connection to these Dawn Breakers.

This particular part of Baha'i history is quite bloody, with the Babis being tortured in heinous ways for, basicaly, daring to challenge traditional thought. The Seven Martyrs of Tehran stand out, amongst the 20,000 Babis that were killed, because of their devout steadfastness and public declaration of refusing to recant their faith, even with the executioners blade hanging over them. Most of the 20,000 were not given a chance to recant, with many being killed and/or literally ripped apart by mobs.

As each of our guests entered the home after the break, we greeted them at the door with a urn of rose scented water where they washed their hands as it was poured into a bowl. We then dried their hands and dabbed on attar of rose. This would have been done had they entered the home of a Babi or Baha'i in Persia 100+ years ago. After everyone had entered and took their seats the lights were dimmed and we played the presentation. Afterwards we discussed how using the arts sets an atmosphere, bonding those present, making consultation more conducive to a focused and holistic outcome.

We read that during the Sassanid dynasty before a weighty desicion had to be made the greatest musician at that time, Barbod, would be called to play music to set the tone for the consultation and talked about how consultation would change if we were to listen to music before we consulted (or if congress had to listen before voting on legislative matters) how different the outcome may be. Many made the observance of how teens always say they study better when listening to music, and that we often say we use music to "set the mood".

Here is the presentation we found on You Tube. It played well blown up via the projector onto a screen, but lost the quality for sound. Luckily, we have Grant Hidin Miller's cd Songs for the Martyrs so played the song straight from the disc while playing the You Tube video.

I recommend turning off the annotations. While informative, they can be a distraction, especially the first time listening and seeing these photos and drawings. I had not seen many of these before. Some are graphic in depicting what was done to Babis. Some are actual photographs of Babis and Baha'is in chains.