Thursday, July 30, 2015

Taking care of business in a crazy world

The following notice from Blogger or Google (or somebody) has suddenly begun to appear on the Overview page in the bowels of my blog:

European Union laws require you to give European Union visitors information about cookies used on your blog. In many cases, these laws also require you to obtain consent.

As a courtesy, we have added a notice on your blog to explain Google’s use of certain Blogger and Google cookies, including use of Google Analytics and AdSense cookies.

You are responsible for confirming this notice actually works for your blog, and that it displays. If you employ other cookies, for example by adding third party features, this notice may not work for you. Learn more about this notice and your responsibilities.

In that last sentence, the words “Learn more” were in blue, and clicking on them brought up even more information. I show it to you below, but as I am now officially tired of looking at italic font you will just have to make do with reading it in regular Times Roman:

Cookies notification in European Union countries

European Union (EU) laws require you to give EU visitors information about cookies used on your blog. In many cases, these laws also require you to obtain consent.

As a courtesy, we have added a notice on your blog to help meet these regulations. The notice lets visitors know about Google’s use of certain Blogger and Google cookies on your blog, including Google Analytics and AdSense cookies.

Change the notice

How to change or disable notice

If you have edited your blog in a way that hides this notice, it will be your responsibility to notify your visitors about cookies used on your blog and if necessary, obtain consent. Also, if you have added other blog features that set cookies, including third-party analytics or advertising services, you’ll need to provide additional or a different notice.

It is your responsibility to determine, based on your cookie use, what else would be appropriate. If you choose to use a different notice, be sure you still comply with Google’s EU user consent policy.

See the notice

To see the notice if you’re outside of the EU, view your blog and change the country code, for example or If you use a custom domain, you won’t see the notice outside of the EU.

I showed you all of that to say this:

1. I have no idea whether I have edited my blog in a way that hides this notice.
2. I have no idea whether I have added other blog features that set cookies.
3. I have no idea what third-party analytics are.
4. I have no idea what advertising services are.
5. Even though Blogger or Google or somebody tells me it is my responsibility to determine what else would be appropriate, we Americans have been historically and remain to this day a rebellious lot who do not like to be told what to do by such entities as the European Union or England’s King George III.
6. I am definitely outside of the EU and therefore cannot see the aforementioned notice, but I have no intention of changing the country code to, for example, or in order to see it.

Therefore, I am asking my EU readers (Neil, Michelle, Gary, Adrian, others, this means you) to tell me in the comments section of this post whether you see from your vantage points the pesky notice Blogger or Google or somebody is so insistent that my blog provide. I am also asking non-EU readers who care to to let me know whether you have received similar instructions and what, if anything, you plan to do about it.

Furthermore, I would also like to inform Blogger or Google or somebody, and especially the EU itself, that I did not go to the EU users, they came to me, and if they want to take steps to comply with EU laws on their end and choose to do so, they can. I, on the other hand, being a citizen of the United States and not the EU, am responsible for complying with U.S. laws, not those promulgated by the exalted leaders of the EU. Put that in your pipe and smoke it.

Perhaps I am making a mountain out of a molehill.

Monday, July 27, 2015

Fourscore and zero years ago...

...may sound like a very long time to you, but in the overall scheme of things it is practically yesterday.

Time flies when you’re having fun (and even when you aren’t).

All of which is to say, today is Mrs. RWP's 80th birthday!

We celebrated it yesterday (because it was easier for the family to get together on a Sunday afternoon than on a Monday evening) at our oldest son’s home. Here is the culinary proof:

All 14 members of our clan, plus Chester the dog and Gracie the cat, were in attendance. You’re going to have to take my word for it, as everyone was too busy enjoying one another’s company to take a photograph of the honoree.

But it can be reliably reported that a good time was had by all, especially in the consuming of the cake.

Friday, July 24, 2015

We are all connected, but some are a little more connected than others

“Six Degrees of Separation” original artwork by Daniel Walker, 2010, licensed under CC BY-SA 3.0 via Wikimedia Commons

Some people say that every person in the world is connected to every other person in the world by not more than six degrees of separation. I have no idea whether this theory is true, but I do know one thing.

Sometimes six degrees are far more than are necessary.

It has been a sad week hereabouts. One of the five American servicemen shot and killed in Chattanooga, Tennessee, on July 16th -- surely you heard about it even in other countries -- was a local boy. The local radio and television stations have been reporting almost non-stop since the moment he was identified as one of the victims. It’s safe to say that the entire region has been affected and we all share in his family’s sorrow. Most, of course, do not know the family personally.

We did.

Lance Corporal Squire K. “Skip” Wells of the United States Marine Corps was 21 years old at the time of his death. He graduated in 2012 from the same high school that my three children attended back in the 1980s. His mother, Cathy, was a classmate of our three children at the same school. They were all members of the school’s marching band. Mrs. RWP and I worked alongside Cathy’s mother (Skip’s grandmother) raising money for the Band Boosters Club. When my daughter decided to attend a university about a hundred miles away from home, her first roommate there was Cathy, who was in her second year there.

Corporal Skip Wells’s body was returned to a local funeral home yesterday. Many people stood waving flags on bridges and lined the streets between the airport and the funeral home. His funeral service will be held on Sunday afternoon at the largest church in the area; it can seat seven or eight thousand, I think, and it will probably be full. A public memorial service was held on Tuesday evening at his high school’s football stadium; it was reportedly attended by over five thousand people.

Sadly, the same sorts of events are taking place for the four other military men who lost their lives in the senseless attack. The people of Chattanooga have been hit especially hard.

This is not the first time in my life that we have had a personal connection to a major event.

The brother of a woman we have known for 40 years was killed in the World Trade Center attack in New York City on September 11, 2001.

I hope you can maintain emotional and physical distance from violent events in our world. For some, like Mrs. RWP and me this week, they sometimes come just a little too close.

Monday, July 13, 2015

If I should die before I wake

When I was a child and even well into my teen years, a framed prayer hung on my bedroom wall:

Now I lay me down to sleep;
I pray the Lord my soul to keep.
If I should die before I wake,
I pray the Lord my soul to take.

During the day it just hung there in its 8-1/2 by 11-inch frame, but at night it glowed in the dark, complete with a starry sky backdrop. I saw it from my bed every night and prayed it faithfully for years.

When I grew older, our culture’s Deciders (I’m thinking Dr. Benjamin Spock, not President George W. Bush) decided that it was better to give children warm, fuzzy, secure feelings rather than scaring them out of their wits. It became a bad thing to remind anyone, but especially children, that human life comes to an end and that we all die. Nowadays, there is a more sanitized, acceptable version of my childhood prayer:

Now I lay me down to sleep;
I pray the Lord my soul to keep.
Angels guard me through the night,
And wake me with the morning’s light.

As long as we keep waking up with the morning’s light, no one ever need worry his or her pretty little head about the elephant in the room -- our mortality.

Last week, our neighbor Joanne, who had been married to her husband Bob for 50 years, died during a very complicated experimental heart surgery. After several hours, her calcium-surrounded heart stopped and the medical team could not restart it. She knew beforehand that the outcome of the surgery was iffy. She had spent the last month preparing and freezing enough meals to last Bob for a couple of months.

When her son Erik sent around an email to tell her friends that “her heart stopped and she is bound for glory,” he included a music clip containing a simple song that I found incredibly moving and incredibly comforting.

Some of my readers are believers but I realize that many of you are not. Some of you are openly hostile to anything having to do with the Christian faith. That is certainly your right. But I dare you to listen to this simple song and not be affected. If nothing else, listen to it for Joanne:

Call On Jesus (3:45)

Perhaps I am naive. I pray that I stay that way until I draw my last breath.

If I should die before I wake, I can’t think of a better final post.

Saturday, July 4, 2015

Proclaim liberty throughout all the land unto all the inhabitants thereof

That’s from the Bible, Leviticus 25:10 in the Old Testament. And it is engraved (or cast or however they did it) on the Liberty Bell in Philadelphia.

(“Liberty Bell 2008” by Tony the Misfit on Flickr - Licensed under CC BY 2.0 via Wikimedia Commons)

The first time I saw the Liberty Bell (in 1955) it was located inside Independence Hall, not out on the mall as it is today. In fact, the first time I saw the Liberty Bell there was no mall at all -- just urban blight. Independence Hall, the place where 56 men pledged their lives, their fortunes, and their sacred honor when they signed the Declaration of Independence, was surrounded by a rundown, decaying neighborhood. Urban blight had won the day.

The clearing of the eyesores, the creation of the mall itself, and the relocation of the Liberty Bell from where it had been for more than 200 years to its new outdoor home occurred as part of preparing for America's bicentennial celebration in 1976.

I have seen the bell out on the mall too, but the effect just isn’t the same as standing inside the sacred space that is Independence Hall.

In preparing for this post, two questions occurred to me. I have done the research so that you don’t have to do it yourself. I’m sure that both Yorkshire Pudding and Adrian especially appreciate this.

1. What relation is Queen Elizabeth II to King George III?

The answer is that he was either her 3rd great-grandfather or her 4th great-grandfather depending on which line you follow. If you follow the line of succession on her grandfather’s side - George VI (father), George V (grandfather), Edward VII (great-grandfather), Victoria (2nd great-grandmother) , Edward Duke of Kent (3rd great-grandfather), George III (4th great-grandfather) - then he was her 4th great-grandfather. However, her grandmother Queen Mary of Teck was also descended from George III - she and her husband George V were 2nd cousins once removed. If you follow Queen Elizabeth’s line through her grandmother - George VI (father), Queen Mary (grandmother), Mary Adelaide (great-grandmother), Adolphus of Hanover (2nd great-grandfather), George III (3rd great-grandfather) - he is more closely related as her 3rd great-grandfather.

And the most important question of all:

2. Is David Cameron descended from royalty? How close would he be in line to the throne?

David Cameron, the current British Prime Minister, is the great-great-great-grandson of Elizabeth Fitzclarence (Jan 17, 1801 - Jan 16, 1856) who was an illegitimate daughter of William IV and his mistress Irish actress Dorothea Bland who was known by her stage name as ‘Mrs Jordan’. They lived together for 20 years when he was Duke of Clarence and had 5 sons and 5 daughters. When he became heir to the throne William married Adelaide of Saxe-Meiningen but they had no surviving children so when he died having no legitimate children his niece Victoria became Queen.

Therefore, David Cameron is the 5th cousin, twice removed of Queen Elizabeth II, but illegitimate lines have no claim to the throne. The Royal Marriage act of 1772, instigated by William IV’s father George III, requires members of the royal family to obtain permission from the monarch to marry. So William and Dorothea would have had to get permission from his brother George IV to marry and it would also have required ratification by Parliament. She was Catholic and would have had to renounce her Catholic faith for William to remain in the line of succession to the throne. In the very unlikely event that they had been allowed to marry and had done so before their children were born then their eldest son George Augustus would have had a claim to the throne. His great-grandson Geoffrey Fitzclarence, 5th Earl of Munster, was a Conservative politician in Winston Churchill’s government. David Cameron’s line through their 3rd daughter Elizabeth would have had only a very remote claim.

Although I am a self-confessed Anglophile, I’m glad we Americans do not have to deal with all that folderol.

I do wish a happy Fourth of July, America’s Independence Day, to all, even to our English friends. Have a cup of tea on us. We put some in Boston Harbor in 1773 especially for you.

Friday, July 3, 2015

If music be the love of food, play on.

Or something like that. I think Shakespeare said it. If he didn’t, he should have.

The following cleverness appeared on Facebook at Sick Drummer Magazine:

In keeping with our food theme, today’s musical offering will be Dinah Shore singing “Shoo Fly Pie and Apple Pan Dowdy” (2:50) from the big band era. Too bad there’s not one called “Chicken Tetrazzini and Pumpernickel Bread”....

Wednesday, July 1, 2015

A thing of beauty is a joy forever. --Keats

In his five-and-a-half hour walk yesterday from Exmouth to Exeter, my blogging friend Yorkshire Pudding took many photographs, one of which was of a swan and its cygnets. I hope YP does not mind my showing it to you here on my own blog:

This photo is so beautiful, so peaceful, so calm and serene, that I could gaze at it for hours.

It needs something though. But what could it be?

Ah, I know. Musical accompaniment.

Here is 13-year-old Stepan Grytsay of Argentina (a cygnet of the human type) playing “The Swan” by Camille Saint-Saens on the violin (2:40).


<b>The Queen is not dead. Long live the Prince of Wales.</b>

When Queen Victoria died at 81 in 1901, her eldest son, the 59-year-old Prince of Wales, became King Edward VII. Fast forward 80 years. (I...