Betsy Devine: Funny ha-ha and/or funny peculiar

Making trouble today for a better tomorrow…

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Plenty of fish

July 18th, 2013 · Comments Off

Plenty of fish by betsythedevine
Plenty of fish, a photo by betsythedevine on Flickr.

We now have three fish again eating up mosquito larvae that try to start new lives in our backyard pond. In this photo you can see two of the three — the two you can see are named Silver and Trigger, for two cowboy horses of our TV childhood.

There was a time when our fish were fancier. A few small koi lived in the pond when we bought his house, years ago. But despite a deep under-rock hole where they can supposedly live all winter long, our koi died in the winter. Koi are delicate blossoms, say the knowledgeable young folk of Uncle Ned’s Fish Factory in Millis, MA (it’s well worth a visit to those true a-fish-ionados.)

So now, we avoid springtime sadness with comets and shubunkin, sturdy small fishlings who survive and even make babies out there in the pond.

Another thing (my) longevity taught me: how to name pond fish. There is a counter-story behind that knowledge. One earlier fishless springtime, I named three small new fish for the three kids’ roles in a play I once wrote — Beauty, Truth, and Justice. But not long thereafter, I had the sad job of telling the family, “I’m sorry to say that for some reason Beauty died…”

It was a sad moment.

So now I name animals after other animals, a practice I recommend to you. And who knows what new wisdom I may discover in my next sixty-plus years?

Comments OffTags: Cambridge · Sister Age · Wide wonderful world

Ice cream Odyssey #1

July 10th, 2013 · Comments Off

Ice cream badge by betsythedevine
Ice cream badge, a photo by betsythedevine on Flickr.

Frank and I have a wild and crazy idea for celebrating our 40th wedding anniversary — we are going to visit a whole lot of local places that serve ice cream cones. Maybe even 40 of them, although that would take time. So I’m making some numbered badges to keep count of our progress.

Arnie’s Place ( 164 Loudon Rd., Concord, NH) was our first ice-cream-Odyssey destination. It’s part of the NH Dairy ice-cream trail. Delicious ice cream, lovely people serving it, and the place itself is enough to lift your spirits. I recommend it!

Comments OffTags: Frank Wilczek · New Hampshire! · Wide wonderful world

Not Yet Clear

July 9th, 2013 · Comments Off

Not Yet Clear by betsythedevine
Not Yet Clear, a photo by betsythedevine on Flickr.

Early this morning, walking beside the lake, thinking about things of the future.

I’ll be working with a small start-up nonprofit called (Wide-Open Online Conversations) that wants to be some kind of ombudsman/curator/consumer protection for the onslaught of new MOOCs. But how WOOC is going to proceed — like this image pre-daybreak — is not yet clear.

Comments OffTags: Wide wonderful world

Whoa, Internet, you almost got me killed

April 13th, 2013 · Comments Off

Ice storm in Concord, NH by betsythedevine
Ice storm in Concord, NH, a photo by betsythedevine on Flickr.

Dear Internet weather gurus, see this stuff on the ground in Concord, NH on Friday morning? That is not rain, it is ice, and the stuff falling hard from the sky and piling up more of it is not rain it is sleet, snow, or hail.

Next time I will believe my eyes, not the Internet, but when a couple of weather services agreed that the current weather in Concord was “rain,” I figured I must be in some local bad spot from which I could easily drive into “rain.”

After I passed the second major multicar accident on Route 93 south, with the precipitation continuing to be small ice chunks, busily piling up on the highway, I reconsidered my idea of trusting the Internet weather guys. I got off the highway onto back roads and drove very slowly south to Manchester, where it was also ice-ing not raining.

Next time I’ll remember that Internet weather reports are based on computerized sensors and stale algorithms, not on actual human beings who live within one thousand miles of NH.

Comments OffTags: Wide wonderful world

Zooming into the future with new technology

March 8th, 2013 · Comments Off

Technology and money by betsythedevine
Technology and money, a photo by betsythedevine on Flickr.

I have been co-teaching a course on the ways technology changes our lives. If you read research from even a few years ago, nobody had a clue how smartphones and cloud computing would create amazing new products and kill many old ones.

Case in point: the sophisticated in-dash navigation equipment for cars is being displaced by cheaper more flexible stuff whose brainpower comes from a smartphone.

I am also impressed by the way regulation does not keep pace with invention. Putting a display on the windshield is known to create problems of divided attention, as well as focus issues that cause people to misjudge size and distance of things past the windshield. Such displays are blamed for many airplane hard landings, because pilots imagine the ground is further away than in fact it is. There is no way people should be popping new displays onto car windshields, but there is no law against it, and the pressure against new laws will be a whole lot stronger than the pressure for them until the innovation generates a lot of dead people
lawmakers can point to.

This is my photo of an article in Popular Science, which owns all the rights to it.

Comments OffTags: Wide wonderful world

Goodbye to 2012

December 30th, 2012 · Comments Off

Christmas cookies about to happen by betsythedevine
Christmas cookies about to happen, a photo by betsythedevine on Flickr.

Not long ago this rolled-out cookie dough was a blank slate waiting for Christmas inspiration. Soon it became a close-packed array of differing choices — then actual cooked cookies, frosted ones, and small good feelings in tummies.

Not a bad metaphor of the year 2012, or perhaps of 2013, coming so soon.

Comments OffTags: food · Wide wonderful world

Cancer Treatment Centers of America, aka FreedomWorks funder

December 27th, 2012 · Comments Off

Last-minute mailer from NH Republicans by betsythedevine
Last-minute mailer from NH Republicans, a photo by betsythedevine on Flickr.

Following up on TPM story about scary gun-toting Tea Party meltdown of entiitled-rich-guy vs entiitled-rich-guy that was solved by an infusion of million$ to buy Dick Armey out as the power behind “grassroots” Tea Party group FreedomWorks. I was curious about where those millions of cash came from…

Dick Stephenson runs Cancer Treatment Centers of America. If you google for reviews of their centers you find similar comments from AZ and IL. Their target customer seems to be someone with terminal cancer and a boatload of medical insurance.

There is a business model suggested here, very intriguing and hypothetically very profitable. If your insurance company sold you a policy that has a limit of 1 million dollars on it, they really don’t expect you to spend those all before dying. Few patients do. But now, enter from offstage left, a savvy corporation dedicated to getting paid every single dollar your insurance said you could get. So sad for the insurance company’s expectation the insurance-buyer would be too naive and incompetent to collect the insurance they were promised … so profitable for somebody like Richard J. Stephenson, who now has millions and millions in profits to spend to push US election results his way …

Comments OffTags: Editorial · politics · Wide wonderful world

The Christmas tree, the pooping dinosaur, and the #slutvote

November 7th, 2012 · Comments Off

"On Vacation" sign accuses Obama of neglecting national security

Amateur anti-Obama sign says “On Vacation/Out to Lunch/Playing golf, basketball, pool, cards, etc/No time for National Security/I’ve got important business to do/The View, David Letterman, McDonalds …”

Wedge issues and election “red meat” filled the airwaves in 2012. The GOP paid millions of dollars to conmen to rile up their “base” to the point where they turned off many people who might otherwise have voted Republican.

You can’t stir up your base to a hot lather of racist fantasy and then expect them to shut up about it. Your supporters will support you in their own language, and unaligned people who hear them are going to shudder to hear our President denounced as lazy, or as a baby killer, or as the “Butcher of Benghazi.”

When I was in first grade, I loved to draw pictures on my dad’s old shirt cardboards from the dry cleaner. These had a shiny white side, ideal for crayon coloring, and a dull gray side, useful for sketching out ideas. The best drawing I ever made was a Crayola Christmas tree, on the shiny side, loaded with bright red balls and yellow stars. I proudly brought it to school to show off to my teacher and was mortified when she asked me, “Betsy, what have you drawn on the other side?”

What I had sketched on the gray side was a stegosaurus — no problem, except that, dissatisfied with what I had done, I had editorially crossed him out and then added poop to his tail end and throw-up from his mouth. It had not occurred to me that when I asked my teacher to look at my Christmas tree she would also catch sight of my very embarrassing dinosaur.

The GOP/Karl Rove/PAC wise men created a myriad of pooping dinosaurs from partisans that they whipped up to furious anger against Obama. In a world of social media and cellphone cameras, those pooping dinosaurs will never again be invisible. The GOP needs an infuriated angry base much less than it needs a lot more intelligent un-hating voters who just want to see our country on the right path. Because my pooping dinosaur was never as embarrassing as the #slutvote diatribe recently posted by the Christian Men’s Defense Network.

Changing their ultra-divisive campaign tactics would also be a lot better for our country.

Text clipped from #slutvote blogpost

Part of blogpost by Christian Men’s Defense Network blaming Romney’s loss on the “slut vote”

Comments OffTags: Editorial · politics

Reading the signs in NH: What signs?

November 6th, 2012 · Comments Off

NH Home Depot, home of white male demographic? by betsythedevine
NH Home Depot, home of white male demographic?, a photo by betsythedevine on Flickr.

The Home Depot parking lot in Nashua, NH — I turned my car in here to search for bumper stickers, figuring here if anywhere I would find Romney’s wheelhouse supporters, the male and the white. To my surprise, I saw not even one Romney sticker. Not one. Check these cars yourself, and I looked at quite a few more cars.

I saw one Obama sticker in this lot, just one, and no more. And as I continued up Rte 93 to my old home town Manchester, as I drove around Manchester, as I drove north again to Concord, NH, what I saw everywhere was no bumper stickers.

From the many “yard signs” (mostly not in people’s yards but on stretches of roadside) you might get the idea that NH is enthusiastic about this election. But what I am seeing is that people are mostly sick to death of being pestered by partisans and pollsters, just want this thing OVER.

I have seen more yard signs for Republicans by far, but a Vietnam veteran I met in Manchester (who was holding a big sign for Carol Shea Porter) told me his Obama yard signs just keep getting stolen.

Comments OffTags: New Hampshire! · politics · Wide wonderful world

Oh man, how stupid could I be?

October 30th, 2012 · Comments Off

Wham! oh wait .. oops? by betsythedevine
Wham! oh wait .. oops?, a photo by betsythedevine on Flickr.

Would you believe that I actually imagined that longtime GOP shill David Brooks aka (on Twitter) as @nytdavidbrooks was sincere in his many NYT columns expressing doubt about Mitt Romney, praise for Barack Obama?

Now, it happens that I am married to a certified (by the MacArthur Foundation and other folks) genius, who, when I expressed to him my fond hopes, argued that David Brooks would never endorse Barack Obama. All we were seeing, according to Frank Wilczek, was a momentary feint, a pretended diversion, from a GOP shill who would head back to show his true colors before the election. And boy was Frank right!

Well, duh Betsy, now that October is here, GOP’s concern trolls are opening raincoats, and what are we seeing? Could it possibly be that they are taking the path laid out by Karl Rove, pretending to be sadder but wiser previous Obama people?

Yes, that’s what we’re seeing.

In August: “Romney was a precocious and gifted child. He uttered his first words (“I like to fire people”) at age 14 months, made his first gaffe at 15 months and purchased his first nursery school at 24 months. The school, highly leveraged, went under, but Romney made 24 million Jujubes on the deal.”

In September: “Personally, I think he’s a kind, decent man who says stupid things because he is pretending to be something he is not — some sort of cartoonish government-hater.”

In October:”if Romney wins, we’re more likely to get bipartisan reform… He has more influence over the most intransigent element in the Washington equation House Republicans. He’s more likely to get big stuff done.”

Comments OffTags: politics · Wide wonderful world