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

Making trouble today for a better tomorrow…

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Life in the Frank Wilczek lane

August 15th, 2013 · Comments Off on Life in the Frank Wilczek lane

Life in the Frank Wilczek lane by betsythedevine
Life in the Frank Wilczek lane, a photo by betsythedevine on Flickr.

Doing my bit to get this little vignette added some day to a learned biography of Frank Wilczek:

Me: (sitting in living room, working on Internet stuff) (silence)
Frank: (sitting on porch, working on physics stuff) (laughing and laughing)
Me: (still in living room, not working) What? Oo, what’s funny, what?
Frank: (walking in from porch with open book in his hand, full of enthusiasm) It’s a great quote from Wittgenstein!

And if you didn’t know yet that he’s a sweet-natured guy, he agreeably posed for this picture with his great quote in view on top of the new Viking book he bought at the supermarket and is having fun reading.

Comments Off on Life in the Frank Wilczek laneTags: Frank Wilczek · funny · geeky · Wide wonderful world

Ice Cream Odyssey #3: Dips on North Main Street in Concord, NH

July 23rd, 2013 · Comments Off on Ice Cream Odyssey #3: Dips on North Main Street in Concord, NH

Ice Cream Badge #3: Dips on North Main Street in Concord, NH by betsythedevine
Ice Cream Badge #3: Dips on North Main Street in Concord, NH, a photo by betsythedevine on Flickr.

Today (July 23, 2013) Frank and I played hookey from both our to-do lists to continue on with our plan of 40 ice cream cones (in honor of our 40th anniversary.)

Once the hookey plan had been formulated, we completely did it in spades. We went out to lunch at the Weathervane over near Concord. We went to a very enjoyable movie (20 Feet From Fame) at an art house theater in Concord. We bought some health foods at the Concord Co-Op in Concord. And finally, we made our way to a new destination called Dips, where you can make your own frozen yogurt dessert from Stonyfield Yogurt and NH dairy products plus really awesome toppings including my favorite, Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups.

I tried three different flavors of frozen yogurt: Original Tart, Salted Caramel, and (sinfully sweet) Cotton Candy. All were super, but I couldn’t finish my cup.

If you are wondering what became of #2, Frank and I had breakfast together last week in Great Neck on Long Island (NY) and our breakfast was (yum) frozen yogurt with granola topping. Sadly, neither of us now remembers the name of the restaurant, but we definitely will go back there.

If you are still reading this .. please, go buy yourself your own ice cream cone!

Comments Off on Ice Cream Odyssey #3: Dips on North Main Street in Concord, NHTags: food · Frank Wilczek · New Hampshire! · Wide wonderful world

Plenty of fish

July 18th, 2013 · Comments Off on Plenty of fish

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 Off on Plenty of fishTags: Cambridge · Sister Age · Wide wonderful world

Ice cream Odyssey #1

July 10th, 2013 · Comments Off on Ice cream Odyssey #1

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 Off on Ice cream Odyssey #1Tags: Frank Wilczek · New Hampshire! · Wide wonderful world

Not Yet Clear

July 9th, 2013 · Comments Off on Not Yet Clear

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 WOOC.org (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 Off on Not Yet ClearTags: Wide wonderful world

Whoa, Internet, you almost got me killed

April 13th, 2013 · Comments Off on Whoa, Internet, you almost got me killed

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 Off on Whoa, Internet, you almost got me killedTags: Wide wonderful world

Zooming into the future with new technology

March 8th, 2013 · Comments Off on Zooming into the future with new technology

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 Off on Zooming into the future with new technologyTags: Wide wonderful world

Goodbye to 2012

December 30th, 2012 · Comments Off on Goodbye to 2012

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 Off on Goodbye to 2012Tags: food · Wide wonderful world

Cancer Treatment Centers of America, aka FreedomWorks funder

December 27th, 2012 · Comments Off on Cancer Treatment Centers of America, aka FreedomWorks funder

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 Off on Cancer Treatment Centers of America, aka FreedomWorks funderTags: Editorial · politics · Wide wonderful world

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

November 7th, 2012 · Comments Off on The Christmas tree, the pooping dinosaur, and the #slutvote

"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 Off on The Christmas tree, the pooping dinosaur, and the #slutvoteTags: Editorial · politics