Sue and Neil's Story - Part 1: November 24th 2012 to February 14th 2013

This is not so much a blog...more of a book-in-the-making...but it will be in instalments. So, when and where does this story begin? Well, it seems to have begun at a little after 4am on the morning of Saturday 24th of November, 2012 when (presumably) Sue was browsing on one of the dating websites which she frequented and where she must have stumbled upon my profile. Sadly I cannot recall which of the dating sites produced the result - it would have been Plenty of Fish, OK Cupid, Match.com or EHarmony - those were the ones I remember us frequenting. FWIW my money is on Match.com. Anyway, before we get onto our exchange of correspondence, here is Sue's profile which is the first thing(s) I read about her:

Username - SueParis Age: 61

City/Province: Tillson, New York

Marital Status: Divorced

Seeking: woman seeking man

Intent: I am seeking a partner for a long-term relationship.

Body Type: Average

Height: 5' 9" (175 cm)

Faith: Non-Religious

In 5 years: I want to be happily in love and in a committed long-term relationship.

My Background

Ethnicity: White/Caucasian Hair Color: Grey Eye Color: Hazel

Exercises: 1-2x per week

Education: Masters

Longest Relationship: 10+ years

Smoking: Never

Has Children: Yes, they live at home Wants Children: No

Drinking: Drinks socially

Occupation: teacher

Zodiac Sign: Virgo

In My Own Words

I'm a warm, spontaneous, non-linear, random abstract, creative person who embraces life with a positive outlook. I'm looking for someone to cherish and be cherished by....I value integrity, and witty, impish humor (because frankly that's my style too). I am an artist and a teacher and consider myself a life long learner. I'm looking for someone who is intellectually curious and connected. I don't think having a lot of degrees makes you smarter (but it does show commitment!) I think there are many different types of intelligence...I am NOT a serial dater. I'm very careful about who I go out with.

I would appreciate someone who is a divergent thinker in many ways. I hate routine and always take the path least traveled. I will never approach things in a straight line (not my style). The side roads are way more interesting and who says we have to get places in a hurry.

I don't like making grocery lists of things I like but know you have to find out something about me so here goes: I love reading and anything with a historical perspective, I also read a lot of books about art and artists as well as educational philosophy (for my work). I love music that moves me, emotionally, and physically. I am a dancer...so R&B,Delta Blues, Old rock (60's-70's), classical, Brazilian tango ...you name it . I live in a beautiful natural setting and my spirituality is tied up in the natural world. I am a liberal in my outlook but like to keep an open mind..I'm interested in finding ways that help the world not increase profits for corporations...I'm a humanist first and foremost....Hope that's enough. I've written too many of these essays in the past few months. POF, OK Cupid.....hope to hear from someone out there.

I would like a first date to last however long makes sense.

I think a typical first date should be spontaneous -- I like to set a time and place to meet and then see where our date takes us.

My Ideal Partner

• Is between 56 and 68 years old.

• Never smokes.

• No preference about parental status.

• Minimum education: Some College/University.

This was the first message I received from Sue:

From suparis Sent: 11/24/2012 4:47 AM

Hi, I liked your profile. I'm becoming a connoisseur of such things lately! Your work seems very interesting. My parents loved to visit churches and stained glass windows were high on their list of favorites. I spent many a summer looking at them! I once lived in the Bronx myself (Riverdale) years ago. I know I live pretty far away from you but ,"nothing ventured nothing gained"... -Sue

Unfortunately I did not keep a copy of my own profile from that time but my response will at least give you an idea of what it would have contained:

From neilepi Sent: 11/24/2012 6:26 AM

Hi Sue,

My profile is not entirely up to date but the changes may actually appeal to your non-linear, artistic, creative and less-traveled side(s?).

For a little over a year I have been a resident caretaker in the Edgar Allan Poe Cottage at Fordham. The deal is that I get to live rent-free in the somewhat rudimentary basement apartment and in return I give conducted tours of the cottage for a few hours on Saturdays and Sundays. It is an arrangement that dovetails neatly with my chronic underemployment.

I still do the artistic "stuff" as well although the sparse revenues from commercialisation of my StainedGlassPhotography (add a dot com and you will have my main content site) has given way to exploiting the art of others on CafePress. For two of my "shops" there append /ralley and /fineartdesigns to cafepress dot com There is some creativity in imagineering the items, deciding what will appeal and presenting them in an attractive way but it is a long way from the creativity put in by the Pre-Raphaelites, Klimt, Van Gogh, Monet and countless others.

Last not least I am hoping that some of Edgar's spirit lingers on here and that it may inspire me to complete RiskPremium, which was once a contemporary thriller in the making but is in danger of becoming a historical novel. If you are so inclined you may read the Prologue and Chapter 1 at the website of the title with a dot net appended.

I have not been at all active in terms of dating, unless you call one date in over 12 months "active". This is partly a function of slender economic resources but almost certainly due to other factors that I have not totally analysed. Frankly, not having a car and having weekends fairly tied-up, the feasibility of conducting a relationship with someone 70+ (?) miles up the Hudson is tricky, to say the least. However, as someone who once successfully conducted a relationship which spanned the Atlantic Ocean, I suppose I should not be discouraged or deterred.

I too am becoming a connoisseur of dating profiles and when I apply my selection skills, which were honed in the corporate world, I find your profile interesting and you appear to be a very attractive person. I like your photo a lot - it was clearly taken on a day and in company that you were very happy - and was a little disappointed when you mentioned the short, grey hair (you spell your way, I'll spell mine...). I hope that it does not mean that you totally look your age unlike your photo which portrays someone several years your junior.

Actually, who am I to talk? Right now, as I type, I have a shock of white hair on my face having re-grown the beard I sported for much of my adult life; my hair is also somewhat unruly. However, it's nothing that a shave and a haircut won't fix.

That's all for now.

Sincerely,

Neil

This was Sue's response: From suparis Sent: 11/24/2012 7:12 AM

Hi Neil,

Actually most people's reaction to my grey hair has been enormously popular! I should tell you that it wasn't by choice. I recently had a battle with ovarian cancer, (which I won..I'm now cancer free.) The hair is a result of 8 months of chemotherapy. And if I do say so myself I look better now then when that other photo was taken! I am very young at heart and working with kids has helped with that attitude! It's amazing just to be still on the planet!

I remember the Poe cottage. It always looked so incongruous in that neighborhood. Is it still fairly Irish? It sounds like a really interesting set up. I also love history and have read avidly. Mostly European and Japanese history. My ex-husband had a huge (1200 volume) collection of history books. He had dual degrees in History and anthropology (BA and MA). It's one thing I miss from that relationship. (otherwise, I'm glad to be out of it).

Yes distance and finances are an issue for me as well. I was in a relationship last year with someone in Schenectady(75 miles away)...I did all of the driving every weekend. It ended after I became ill and couldn't do the drive. My car is a junker and it almost expired as well!

I will try to look at all your websites etc. I only have pretty bad photos of my art work. I'm getting my daughter (she's a photography student) to re-do them and then i want to set up a website. I'm determined to finally put it out into a public arena etc. something I was always too insecure to pursue...I have some of the pictures on my profile on OK cupid..(sueadam is the profile name) It's also a free site.

Well ,it's been nice chatting with you...-Sue

I then visited OK Cupid and left the following message: Nov 25, 2012 – 5:15am Came here to look at your art - interesting and I can suggest ways you can develop and/or market it. Stopped longer than intended and answered what felt like interminable questions of varying degrees of irrelevance. Have now stopped despite having only reached about 1/3 of the way.

Nov 25, 2012 – 7:00am

Oh Neil,I'm sooo sorry. Answering those questions gets to be addictive for some reason!!! It's as if you 're caught up in a labor of Herculean proportions...Hope it was a little fun!

Thanks for looking at the art. The photos are god awful so I'm surprised you got any kind of idea what they look like. I would be really interested in how you think they could be developed/marketed (other then better photo's, which I'm working on!). I see you were up at 5:15am, so hopefully you're getting some rest..hope to hear from you again, Sue

There then followed almost a month of nothing, no communication, while we both went on with our lives, until December 19th when the following exchange took place:

Message from sueadam Dec 19, 2012 - 8:10pm

Hi Neil, How have you been? Is the Bronx still standing? Hope all is well. -Sue

Dec 19, 2012 – 9:09pm

Hello, Sue. You probably noticed that I clicked on your profile earlier. It was to jog my memory because I was trying to explain how I came to have a profile on OKC to someone who had asked about it. That said I was left with a lingering thought that you do sound like a quite interesting person.

I'm OK and the Bronx is still standing and actually feels quite safe and peaceful compared to some places in Connecticut that I'm reading about. (This was in reference to the school shooting at Sandy Hook) I have been enjoying modest sales on CafePress (see CafePress dot com /fineartgifts) which is a seasonal blip for sure but it is telling me that I can make at least a half-decent living there with just a bit more time and effort. Would you believe I have sold some shower curtains (Klimt and Turner artwork but others are in the works), a duvet cover and a couple of yoga mats? CafePress has come a long way since it was just tee shirts and mugs.

Had my first real date in over a year last weekend. As a date it was not a huge success, not even close. I was 97% sure from what I had seen online that there would be no chemistry, at least not on my side, but she asked and she was a nice person so I accepted. We met at the Met and looked around the Matisse exhibition (I picked it with her in mind, Matisse is not a great favourite of mine) and I will say that the atmosphere felt good. I also had a quick look in the Met shop before she arrived and got a few ideas for designs for CafePress - I'd actually like to go back and spend more time in the shop. It is excellent value once I get over my English tendency to follow "the line" and make the full, recommended, $30 'donation'. I pleaded (genuine) poverty and donated $1.

Did I ever send you a link to my blog? I have taken up the cause of Scottish Independence and you will find some posts there. It is at stainedglassandfood.blogspot.com I would especially like you to scroll down (a long way) to March 2007 and read the excerpts from real trial transcripts, they are funny, especially the ones by pathologists. I dare you not to laugh...

You did well, you got over 2000 characters out of me!

Take care,

Neil (a real person, honestly)

Dec 19, 2012 – 9:11pm

Sorry, I meant cafepress dot com/fineartdesigns (I have used "gifts" in so many other domains but this time I opted for the classier "designs"

Sue's response: Dec 19, 2012 – 9:35pm

wow...well I hope future encounters have a more favorable outcome. The Met shop is one of my favorite places in NY. My ex-husband and I used to go to the Met every other week or so when we lived in the Bronx ( before child) and about once every other month or so when we had moved upstate. NEVER pay the asked for admission! I used to pay a quarter when I was a student at Pratt. They have plenty of patrons and rich tourists from Ohio picking up the tab....

I only like Matisse's paper cuts (of course). If you go back what would you look at? The American wing has some great possibilities. I know one of the furniture curators (husband of a good friend). I'll look at your blog...why Scottish independence? My family came here in the 1600's from Scotland. Another branch came over in the 1850's also from Scotland....so I guess I have a little curiosity. Is it a real "thing"? I thought Edward the III (or was it the IV? one of those pesky Plantagenets) kind of put an end to all of that....anyway you're very interesting too. Keep in touch, pen pals are fun too you know...-Sue

Sue added: Dec 19, 2012 – 9:50pm

Ok I read it . That was one of the funniest things I've read in a long time. There are actual tears in my eyes right now! Thanks....-S

Dec 19, 2012 – 10:25pm

"If you go back what would you look at?"

What would you like to show me? I feel sure that you will have at least one day through the holidays when you could fit in some sightseeing....Me? I'm even free weekends until after New Year.

On weightier matters, yes "it" really is real and bodes to be a very interesting and multi-dimensional campaign. Summarising, Scotland became part of the UK, per se, in 1607 but has enjoyed varying degrees of separateness and to a significant degree it's own identity, over those 4 centuries. In recent years there has been a Scottish Parliament in Edinburgh which has had some power over some governmental functions but a long way short of true "independence".

The latest situation is that the UK government agreed that Scotland could have its own referendum in the Autumn of 2014 and that the result would be a Yes/No decision between remaining part of the UK with the existing state of devolution OR full independence with all that might entail.

What makes it very interesting and complex is the situation vis a vis the EEC. Right now most people will tell you that the population of Scotland breaks down 1/3 in favour of independence, 1/3 in favour of staying in the UK and 1/3 undecided. Because of the inherent risk-aversion of people in this kind of situation the chances of getting a majority in favour of independence hinges heavily on reducing the "unknowns", the biggest of which is membership of the EEC on similar terms to those enjoyed by the UK right now and those terms are kind of unique to the UK such as still having the pound and not the Euro.

It is really quite hard to simplify and distill the issues but suffice it to say that the situation is hugely complicated by the fact that Europe itself is in crisis mode with major economic problems in Greece, Ireland, Italy and Spain (others too) spilling over into Europe itself and threatening the future of the Euro.

In my opinion (right now, unlikely to prevail) the very best solution would be for (North Sea oil-endowed) Scotland to go for full independence, not only from the UK but also from the EEC. Along very similar lines, in fact, to Norway which is actually in enviably good shape.

Anyway, from my stance, what started as a calendar and tee-shirt marketing project (which from that standpoint has been a spectacular failure, so far) has evolved into an active campaign, if only one of assisting with the circulation of info and opinions. To see some of my designs (if you have Scottish blood pay close attention to the calendar) go to CafePress dot com/ralley and scroll down until you find a Scottish-looking section. It has also got me "twittering" which, if you didn't know, is the crack cocaine of electronic communication.

You almost got me to 3000 characters this time and if I'd allowed myself to bore you more with the Scottish situation I'd have gone over 5000 I'm sure.

Neil

Dec 19, 2012 – 10:48pm

Ah shucks, I was hoping to get you past 5000! I'm known for my lengthy e-mails so watch out and I(shudder) don't watch the word count. I'm very spontaneous that way...

I'd love to come down and "see" the Met with you. My favorite parts were never the stuffy painting galleries though. I love the historic rooms and the Asian and Islamic art sections but my absolute favorite was always the Medieval section. I always tried to get in to see the tree with the Neapolitan figures ,which I love, this time of year so that's one place i would go...the imagination runs wild in that place..the Cloisters is also a special place for me...but a bit chilly this time of year! The Met has the most beautiful collection of ancient musical instruments which are quite exquisite. I could see you using pictures of those on various items...what say you? they'd perhaps be better sellers then Scottish Independence T's. Lots more music lovers out there.

Thanks for the explanation about Scotland. I didn't mean to sound flippant, we really don't hear much about it in the press here. The fiscal crisis i knew about but not that Scotland has a referendum coming up. Thanks for the info I'll try to keep abreast of it now.

If you're serious about meeting me there let me know. No pressure no expectation; just like to show you a place that's special.. it's only a train ride away...I'm off next week until the 8th of January...it's been nice re-connecting with you...-Sue

Ps I don't twitter...no cocaine for me mon...

Dec 19, 2012 – 11:36pm

I was serious. Do you want to do it before or after Christmas? Saturday would work for me, and it's open longer giving us more flexibility but I will leave the timing entirely up to you. The only fixed commitment I have is lunch this Friday when I am being treated by my boss from the Historical Society, other than that the entire rest of my life is at your disposal. Well, at least until January 5th when my weekend duties get resumed.

Your idea about musical instruments is a good one. Not sure about the rules re photographing exhibits, I do know that commercial use of any pics is strictly taboo but I suppose one old banjo looks much like any other old banjo...

Sorry, you are going to have to wait for the other 4,262 characters.

Dec 20, 2012 – 5:31am

Good morning, Did I mention I get up with "the chickens"? I think I could make my way down there Sat. It will probably be a madhouse but then again the whole holiday season is like that for the Met. After Christmas is just as bad...so we might as well just go. If possible earlier rather then later...I'll have to consult train schedules but how about 11:00ish? Trust me on this one, the afternoon will be chaos there. By the by do you still sport the beard? If you're taking a survey put me in the positive column...no way do you look like "Santa"?? best regards, Sue

Dec 20, 2012 – 6:04am

Hey, Would you be OK switching to regular e-mail. This site is confining..then you wouldn't have to count characters... if so i'm at saparise@gmail.com -Sue

Dec 20, 2012 – 6:05am

Good morning, Sue. 11-ish on Saturday is just fine, just let me know the where & when once you have consulted timetables etc. In case it slips my mind my mobile is 646-250-3954 which might be handy for fine-tuning on the day.

I was seriously contemplating a shave an a haircut but will hold back a while, at least on the shave part, in light of your comment. A bit disappointed about not looking like Santa in Rise of the Guardians - it's probably the only time in my life that someone has told me I looked like a Super Hero.

The weather forecast is good - over 43 degrees and partly sunny with only a 20% chance of rain. Even Cloisters might be quite pleasant.

Our messages are about to cross....

Good Morning Sue,

Just thought I'd wish you a Happy End-of-the-World Day. Found this quote on the UK Daily Telegraph Website: The exact timing of today's cataclysm is unclear but, according to some self-appointed experts, it could occur shortly after 11am UK time - the time of the winter solstice - leaving Britons chance for a final breakfast. (That makes it 6am EST) The article does go on to say that modern Mayans believe it is just a transition from one cycle to another and not a falling off a cliff as the scaremongers would have it. I really do hope the the world doesn't end today, I would hate for something cataclysmic to get in the way of our date tomorrow. That would be just typical - the first time I meet someone really nice on a dating site and the end of the world happens - what a bummer... Taking a glass-half-full approach, and assuming that today proves to be just like any other in the history of the planet, your plan for Saturday sounds great and I am looking forward to meeting you in person. CafePress? Nothing so complicated as dealing with suppliers. It is print-on-demand, pure and simple. If someone wants a shower curtain or a yoga mat that's what they order and that is what is made and shipped. No inventory, no risk. The profit margins are not what they used to be a few years ago but provided CafePress can bring in large numbers of customers, through advertising and search engine optimisation, the volume can compensate for the loss of margin. You can also buy any items from your own stores, without a mark-up, so you can buy to resell at fairs, gallery shows etc. There is another enterprise called Zazzle which operates along similar lines. What Zazzle has that might be of interest to you is printing onto custom-sized canvases which you could use as a base to build on or you could just print your finished works onto canvas. I'm thinking of the former of the two options because there you would be creating a 3D art form beginning with an image printed onto the canvas. Here are links to a shop I have on Zazzle: http://www.zazzle.com/preraphaeliteart

Hi Neil, Yes the planets DIDN"T misalign apparently. I do have a slight head cold (hazard of being a teacher of small fry) but nothing significant..I sound a little like a combination of Kermit the frog and Talleulah Bankhead but otherwise I'm fine...I look forward to finding you in amongst the tourists at the Met! ( I taught a year long study about Central America focused on the Mayan culture for 6years so I KNEW the whole thing was hokum)

Neil, So I'm curious about the mysterious P. in front of your name. I've been ruminating about various names it could be...Paul, Peter, or Philip just seem too prosaic. You'd probably use those..why not? But what if it were Philpot, or Peregrine? How about Philbert or Poindexter,.. hmmmm, I'm also favoring Greek references like, Pythias for instance or Prospero (very Shakespearean and all that) ah a mystery to be solved in time I'm sure...see you tomorrow

Hadn't I told you already? I guess not...

I was born on April 21 1952 which just happens to be the Queen's birthday and so apparently I was destined to be christened either Elizabeth or Philip and fortunately my parents spared me the embarrassment of opting for the former. Not sure why it was that Neil became the name I used, I'm fairly sure it wasn't any of my doing. What was a conscious decision was actually using both initials. When I was young I would simply use 'Neil Ralley' at school and on homework etc but when I got to about 16 and opened a bank account I used my full initials as a (very early) identity-theft/cheque signature protection device. So, sorry to spoil your reverie and fantasies about what kind of name I might be ashamed of. It is probably just as well that when I was at school I was not doing the pretentious thing of using the first initial and middle-name combo - I would probably have got myself knicknamed the PNeil implant! There is a kind of family tradition with names. My father was named Alexander Reid Ralley - the Alexander from his father and Reid being the maiden name of his grandmother who didn't like using "Ralley" after being deserted by my Great Grandfather. Reid was the name my father went by rather than 'Sandy" which is the abreviation for Alexander in Scotland. My eldest brother is Andrew Reid and goes by Andrew and my other (also older) brother is Alexander Edwin (I have no idea where the Edwin comes from, probably should but don't) and he is known as Sandy. Prosaically, P. Neil R

Ahh another dream shattered! Actually I figured it was Philip because of the time period you were born in. I don't think i was named for any Susan in particular in 1950's American culture. My mother was not a fan of Susan Hayworth as far as I know...certain names are big in my family too. Robert Alexander is the most prevalent with 3generations and 3 variations at the moment and my middle name, I always hated as a kid because it made no sense to me, was a "family" name: Hazlett.. I kept the Parise because i was buying a house at the same time i was getting divorced and couldn't handle any more legal stuff...now I wish I had changed back (choices choices) ( Darn I was hoping for Percival at the very least...). sue

I'd like to share this with you and test your reaction.

A few weeks ago, via a tweet I received from one of my Scottish connections, I learned that a much-liked and admired singer/song-writer called Mike Marra had died. I had not heard of him but, not least because he was the same age as me, I decided to dig around and the tweet I had received contained a link to this song he did at a recent Burns night concert in Glasgow. I played it and I really find it quite haunting. I also have a strong sense that Marra was a very NICE and very humanistic person. The song was originally written by Burns and I have read at least one person say that THIS is how it should be sung but there are countless other arrangements and versions by singers of all nationalities, even REM did a version of it. Here it is: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Io-n-WIcj_M&list=PLD586B09A5D6335DD By way of a balance here is one of my all-time favourites, it is the main theme from a film called Local Hero. The soundtrack was (very cleverly) written by Mark Knopfler, a brilliant composer and guitarist: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hm-ZHUfCTwk&list=PL2C00662925EC6FFD&index=20 I will also throw in a very cheerful rendering of some Irish music by a couple of hugely talented instrumentalists: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ywMPtwM8avs&list=PLD586B09A5D6335DD

Thanks Neil those were really lovely. Local Hero is one of my favorite movies. I love the shots of the Northern Lights and he's trying to describe them to his boss in America..priceless...I also fell in love with the Scottish Isles because of a movie from the forties called, I Know Where I'm Going...do you know it? I first saw it on TV when i was about 13 and it has stayed with me all this time. The music was so beautiful and the B&W photography was gorgeous. I come from a long line of Presbyterians (naturally) but both sets of grandparents, who lived in completely different parts of the country, were Scots Covenantors, a very strange off shoot of Presbyterianism. It's hard for Americans to have a sense of identity other then American, especially if your family has been here for multiple generations. I work with a woman who is from Scotland and she has a dance class after school that teaches kids Scottish dancing and it's very popular (you don't have to be Scots to join).They perform at a local Burns Night in Poughkeepsie every year...traditions live on...My father would always say, Scotch is something you drink..Scottish is what the people are...-S

It's not a film I'm familiar with but I was able to find a clip for you: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=yNomqxjRYlw

Have you heard Kiki Dee? Here are two of my favourite tracks by her. Song for Adam is quite sad but the low tones she hits at the ends of the verses are just wonderful, very earthy and very sexy. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jVg1V27OYMI&list=PL2C00662925EC6FFD This next one is just a very beautiful song, you will probably want to play it more than once: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CCWg19JSZzM&list=PL2C00662925EC6FFD

You've got me going now, Sue...

Here's an artist you probably will not have heard of. He is a Brit called Chris Rea and is very talented. I am sending you 2 tracks which could not be more different. The first has one of the best intros you are ever likely to hear. Back in my corporate days one of my 'perks' was a company car and I managed to wangle 2 back-to-back, super-fast Ford Sierra Cosworths. The second was 4WD and would do 0-60 in about 5 1/2 seconds and would easily do 150mph on a good stretch of road with no police around. Well, this was my go-faster track. There is a moment about 2 minutes into it when it just explodes and that is when I would accelerate and really DRIVE. By way of a total contrast the second track is also by Chris Rea and it is just breathtakingly beautiful and a total antithesis to the first track: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=abZlWqVeLzg&list=PL2C00662925EC6FFD&index=12 http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vuIdHjbxomM&list=PL2C00662925EC6FFD&index=14

Ok I'm going to sleep now...the concert has been lovely...but I'm very tired. (i got up around 4:30) see you soon. I'll wear a bright turquoise scarf and be on the left side of the staircase...g'night - S

Hi Neil, I'm afraid we tempted fate when we mocked the end of the world. I've been up since 3 with a flooded basement.My house is built in a wetland area. After Hurricane Irene I had 4ft of water down there and needed to be pumped out by the local fire dept.. It's ground water, the water table rises etc...Anyway I woke up because i heard something and went to check and sure enough I had about 2 inches of water..AND my cockamamie sump pump wasn't working! I had to pull it out and thump it around a few times and now it works but I'm afraid to leave it in case it stops again. I've been up sweeping water into a trough that feeds water to the pump trying to get it out but it keeps refilling..(ground water..after Irene the pump ran continuously for 4 mos.) also the hose on the pump sprang some leaks so I've been battling those with my trusty duct tape. I really need to move to a nice apartment this is ridiculous...

It's so stupid! I'll call you in the morning but right now I may have to stay and "babysit" it or even get another pump to install as a backup...so sorry I was really psyched to meet you and see the Met..(sigh)..-sue ( I know now the true meaning of the phrase "rain check")

hi Neill, I'm sorry about that call. My whole head is completely stuffed up and coupled with lack of sleep and terrible phone reception I was less than conversant (also I have laryngitis)...I think Thursday seems like a good day. Weekends in that museum are chaotic so maybe we'll luck out(we're due for some) The pump won't be an issue by then. The water table should be fine and if not I'll just unplug the D@*& thing and deal with it when I get back. My brother was supposed to help me with it back in the fall but he got too busy so now I'll call him and "guilt" him a little about it (lol)..anyway, have a good day and I'm sure we'll talk some more before Thursday.. -Sue

Hi Sue,

No need for the apology. I should warn you that my mobile phone is not the best either, it is one of those that is only used for making phone calls (remember those? You probably had one when you were a kid) but the speaker is not the greatest and I'm now thinking that the mike might not be the greatest either. I will replace it eventually but for now it is not a #1 priority. If you ever want to call me at the cottage use the land-line there which has quite a good handset. The number is 718 329 3795; unfortunately the Historical Society has a very limited contract with Verizon and I can't use it to call mobile phones unless they are on the Verizon network or local or something. It is a shame, really, I was quite looking forward to hearing what a cross between Kermit the frog and Talleulah Bankhead sounded like, the more so because I can't recall having heard Kermit "speak" and have not the foggiest idea who Halleluiah Bunkbed is... For the record I think with just about any other date I can remember, at least these last couple of years, my reaction to the postponement would have included at least a tinge of relief but today's meeting was one I was unequivocably looking forward to. I thought a Noah quote would be appropo here and so I googled. Among the interesting, ludicrous and irrelevant answers these 2 stuck out. Not because they are relevant or appropo but just because they are interesting: “Never be afraid to try something new. Remember that a lone amateur built the Ark. A large group of professionals built the Titanic.” ― Dave Barry and “My Sunday school teachers had turned Bible narrative into children's fables. They talked about Noah and the ark because the story had animals in it. They failed to mention that this was when God massacred all of humanity.” ― Donald Miller, Blue Like Jazz: Nonreligious Thoughts on Christian Spirituality Neil

for this one be sure to have a box of paper hankies to hand when he talks about learning Welsh, trust me... http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dLDzJ28V49U

AS A FRIEND OF MINE WOULD SAY "ONLY IN AMERICA" - https://www.care2.com/causes/should-teachers-carry-guns.html

My mind is blown by this stuff...now I'm expected to carry a gun! The first principle for educators is "keep the children safe" be it physical safety or emotional safety or what have you..This is ridiculous. Those women teachers who died trying to protect their classes did it because it's instinctual to protect our young...it's part of our biology for crissakes. It's what keeps the human race going. It is not instinctual to use a gun to do that! I spend a lot of time and energy helping young children learn how to "get along" with each other, how to negotiate disagreements and how to settle disputes so that everyone benefits and feels Ok about it. I DO not want them to think I'm so fearful of the world outside that I need to tote a gun! What are these lunatics thinking???? The first week of every school year I brainstorm with my students what kinds of behavior are necessary for them to have the best year in school. We call them guidelines, not rules. Thank god most of them end up saying some variation of the golden rule! which as far as I remember is not" An eye for an eye". I'm completely, as you English say," Gobsmacked"( (i read a lot of Roald Dahl in my class). sheesh

Hi Neil, Wanted to wish you a happy Christmas Eve..any plans? I've been up looking at other people's art sites all morning and am beginning to feel overwhelmed. I received an "invitation to jury duty" for the week of Jan.2nd...ah the joys of participatory democracies. i postponed it from September..they wanted me the week school started but you're only allowed one postponement so I'm on the hook. Hopefully I won't be called (hope springs eternal). Enjoy your day. At least it's sunny! -Sue

Yes, Vernon is further north and it is not a million miles from Orange County. That said, what I actually typed was Verona!

Verona is in Essex County, in the triangle between the Caldwells and Montclair and Livingston Where in Orange County? My in-laws lived in Otisville and so I got to know the drive up route 23, past High Point, quite well and also Middletown and the surrounding area. Have fun playing Clue, or Cluedo as it is known in the UK where it was first published in 1949 by Waddington, the world-renowned board game-maker which made most of the games I can remember. I quite liked Monopoly but my favourite was Risk which appealed to my liking for strategy. When I think of toys and Christmas I tend to think of train sets (Hornby 00) and Scalextrix (electric racing cars on a rubber track) because Christmas was the only time I recall those games getting put up because they took up a lot of space and that cut across my Mother's need to tidiness. It's not that we lived in especially small houses but neither of the houses I grew up in had what you would call a family or games room. Neil

Oops, I need to have my eyesight tested! I lived for 20 years in New Windsor on the edge of Newburgh. It was suburban hell. We bought a house without really doing our homework and had no idea the Newburgh schools were worse then anything in the inner city of NY. What a surprise we had in store. My daughter was in early infancy so I had time to investigate other options. That's how I embarked on finding out about alternative private schools and ultimately teaching in them.

Oh how funny, i didn't realize Hasbro or whoever had "acquired" English games.We played a lot of Monopoly too. I remember summers spent playing card games like canasta as well.My backyard neighbors growing up always had Croquet set up and we'd spend hours after dinner in the summer "killing" each other off. We were merciless! Kids don't seem to play those games anymore, what a shame..

I know all about train sets too. My brother and father had an HO scale train set that also only came out at Christmas. It had all kinds of geographical features. My favorite was the mica lake. The little houses and roads were so cute. I loved watching the train whizzzz by. Now and then my brother would even let me do the switches! Ok nostalgia hour is over..back to the kitchen...-Sue

Hi Sue,

I just wanted to let you know that I actually had to resort to Google to look up a word you used earlier. This wasn't a case of 'knowing the gist' but maybe needing clarification, as sometimes happens when I am both reading and writing. This was a case of plain "durrr" - I had never seen of heard the word before and yet you used it so easily and naturally. Fortunately I was able to establish (I think) that it is a truly American word and for all I know isn't even IN the Oxford dictionary and is certainly not in common parlance in the UK. Here's what I found online:

con·nip·tion

[kuh-nip-shuh n] Show IPA

noun

Often, conniptions. Informal. a fit of hysterical excitement or anger.

Also called conniption fit.

Origin: 1825–35, Americanism; origin uncertain

The nearest colloquialism from the UK would be "have a fit" or "throw a fit", the more modern, less 'correct' but perhaps more expressive would be "go apeshit" or, slightly less impolitely, "go nuts", "go absolutely nuts". "Go beserk" is one of the 'better-spoken' person's expressions.

I guess conniption is a word Poe would have used - he might even have invented it, there's a thought!

So are you a better-than-average Scrabbler? I used to think I was quite good, maybe am, but when I play against a Philippina friend, a Special Ed teacher who plays seriously, she beats me 9 times out of 10. Through her I was also introduced to a school nurse from a school here in the Bronx who is a REALLY serious player and talks of regular scores in the 300-400+ range. I've not played her but I am sure that her boasts are not empty.

Oh dear..scrabble? probably not. I played it once or twice when i was young. While I do have a fairly extensive vocabulary apparently I have always had a problem with developing logical or sequential patterns. (also I was known in my family as little" Miss Malaprop" because I used words in the wrong context frequently as a child), I am much more free form in everything I do. I've often thought it's because I'm left-handed and ambidextrous to some degree and my brain just won't "go there". Number doesn't play"nice" either. I can never hang onto numbers in my head I always have to write them down, the sequential order starts flying around and jumping out of order...on the other hand I am a pretty good "speller" again visual memory plays its part. I bequeath to you "conniption" ; use it as you will...it might be a good word to use in a mystery/thriller! By the by, have a lovely Christmas...-S

Dalai Lama's Christmas Tweet: - Compassion brings peace of mind and with it better health; so cherish compassion.

Merry Christmas to a fellow Left-Hander

On Tue, Dec 25, 2012 at 6:27 AM, P. Neil Ralley <neil.ralley@gmail.com> wrote:

Good Morning Sue,

Someday you can explain all that stuff about sequential patterns and numbers, clearly not over a game of Scrabble, but meanwhile here's a recent article about left handedness: http://www.livescience.com/19968-study-reveals-lefties-rare.html and an excerpt from yet another one:

Whether you're a righty or lefty may say more about you than what hand you use to write or play sports. CREDIT: Igor Kovalchuk | Shutterstock

Left and Right Handedness

In this weekly series, LiveScience examines the psychology and sociology of opposite human behavior and personality types.

To get a sense of human handedness, take a survey of those combination chair-desk furniture pieces in classrooms. The desktops tend to wrap around from the right. That's so right-handers can comfortably rest their arms while jotting down notes with their dominant hand. For that uncommon left-hander, if he or she is lucky, there might be an odd-looking desk or two with an oppositely molded desktop.

Such classroom chauvinism reflects the puzzlingly strong bias toward right-hand dominance in our species. All over the planet, nine out of 10 people, on average, favor their right hand for writing, throwing and so on. ("Footedness" roughly follows this same breakdown, though for sensory organs, such as eyes and ears, preference is less skewed; true ambidexterity occurs in less than 1 percent of the population.)

Despite more than a century and a half of research, scientists have yet to find an answer for what causes handedness. "It's a very good question but we don't know," said David P. Carey, a neuropsychologist at Bangor University in the U.K.

Clues relating to asymmetries in our bodies, and especially in the brain, however, could help explain the paucity of "south paws."

To the left, to the right

Are you a righty or a lefty? CREDIT: Karl Tate, LiveScience Infographic Artist

Left and Right handedness

The selection of one hand for fine motor control might reflect the fact that much of our anatomy and function is not balanced.

Our internal organs do not mirror the body's exterior, bilateral symmetry — that pattern of two opposing legs, hands, nipples, eyes, ears and so on. The heart and spleen, for example, normally form on the body's left side, the liver on the right; each lung bears a distinctly different shape.

And so it goes with our brain. That wrinkly pulp in our skulls divides down the middle into two hemispheres and, in a quirk of evolution, each hemisphere controls the opposite side of the body; that is, the brain's left hemisphere operates our right side, and vice versa. The same process occurs with vision — what our left eye "sees" is processed by the right rear of the brain. [10 Things You Didn't Know About the Brain]

Although the two halves of our brain have broadly similar anatomy, certain tasks tend to be handled by one side of the brain more than the other. Scientists chalk this up to efficiency's sake, as performing duplicate, simultaneous actions on each side wastes energy and available brain power.

"For a lot of actions, it's a good idea to have the boss living in one place," Carey said.

Hand to mouth

That phenomenon of brain laterality and division of labor could help explain handedness. Among the more demanding and recently evolved tasks for our brain is language processing and generation. Intriguingly, in 90 percent to 95 percent of right-handers, the left hemisphere is dominant for language and speech functions, suggesting evolution has honed one side to handle skillful work.

"If I have one part of my brain controlling my fine motor movements, it would make sense to have this part handle language, too," Carey told LiveScience.

Yet the relationship is not so simple. About two-thirds of lefties are also left-hemisphere dominant for speech and language, Carey said, and some 5 percent or more of righties have right-hemisphere dominance. [Constant Battle as Brain Pits Right Hand Against Left]

Delving into genetics has not yet explained away the extreme bias toward human right-handedness either, though hints of inheritance emerge. The chance of two left-handed parents having left-handed offspring, for instance, is around 25 percent, compared with 10 percent in the general population. A gene discovered in 2007, called LRRTM1, shows up more in lefties as well.

Paws to claws

Researchers have also looked to other animals to help them solve the human riddle of handedness. Many mammals, including our closest living relatives the chimpanzees, bonobos and gorillas, exhibit a preferred hand. So, too, do dogs.

"Your dog is one-pawed," said Carey. "If you force a dog to reach for a toy through an aperture, it will tend over many trials to use one paw over the other."

But this breakdown for left versus right in Fido as well as Coco is about 50-50, eschewing humans' overwhelmingly right-sided population-handedness. That even-handed, if you will, split extends to non-mammals such as fiddler crabs, whose enlarged claw for fighting develops on either side in equal measure.

"Sinister" lefties?

Whatever handedness' origin in humankind, it's clearly been around a long time. For example, cave paintings have shown the occasional lefty ancestor clutching a spear.

The relative scarcity of left-handedness, as with many "otherisms" in human history, has provoked cultural superstition and discrimination. Even just several decades ago in the U.S., parents and teachers still snatched pencils out of children's left hands and tried making lefties write like a righty.

The ancient prejudice against lefties remains embedded in the English language. "Sinister" shares a Latin root with "sinistral," meaning "in regards to the left side," and "left" derives from the Anglo-Saxon word for "weak."

For biological reasons yet unknown, lefties might indeed be slightly cursed. That gene associated with left-handedness, LRRTM1, is also associated with the mental disease schizophrenia. Correlations have been found for left-handedness and illnesses such as inflammatory bowel disease and alcoholism.

On the other hand, some evidence points to lefties possessing on average more intelligence or artistic giftedness than righties, perhaps given their alternative brains. Interestingly, four out of the last seven presidents have been left-handers, including Barack Obama, Bill Clinton, George H.W. Bush and Gerald Ford.

Living as a lefty

Overall, handedness ­— inasmuch as it offers insight into an individual's cerebral and bodily abilities, tendencies and deficits — is just one of many elements in a complicated picture.

"There is not a one-to-one correlation. …. It is not as if you are left-handed [so] you will become brilliant or get a disease," said Amar Klar, a geneticist at the National Cancer Institute's Center for Cancer Research in Frederick, Md.

Although the stigma against left-handedness has largely lifted around the world, Carey pointed out that righties still have it easier.

"Poor lefties have to live in a right-handed world," Carey told LiveScience. "The fly in your trousers is right-handed; even a can opener is right-handed."

Did you know Obama is left-handed?

Anyway, I wish you all the very best and hope that you have a great day,

Yours sinisterly,

Neil

Sue replied: Too funny! Thanks for the information. I was recently told that left handedness was a result of too much testosterone in utero! haven't found any evidence to back that one up...although it was a PhD scientist geek who told me that gem..all I can say is thank god we don't live in the 14th-16th centuries. I don't think I'd like being burned at the stake..how about you? the pattern stuff is my own attempt at trying to explain why I'm so illogical..just observations about how my own brain seems to function (or not). -S

The light is just coming up outside and when I looked there was snow on the ground! Not much, just a dusting but enough to make everything look clean and fresh..I love snow when it's just fallen and the world is bright and shiny! I capture, just briefly, that feeling from childhood that the" world is your oyster" and you have to go out and plunge into it...before it melts and is gone. I'm feeling somewhat nostalgic today...my daughter is at her father's house so it's just me and the cat..and apparently you (online).-s

You obviously are at an advantage upstate in terms of the light dusting. Here in the Bronx the roads are wet but it is probably from a light rain-shower from long-gone clouds because the sky is clear and blue and it promises to be a bright, sunny morning.

Shouldn't it be "the cat and I"? I guess either construct is OK. Yours apparently and affectionately, Neil

Oh nit- pick nit- pick: she and I, her and I, the cat and I....(she's currently curled up in a ball sleeping the sleep of the innocent) grammar has never been my strong suit...enjoy the sun. Hopefully it lasts. Affectionately, me or I or ....???

To Susan: me or I or meow?

To Neil: I was having a "I have to listen to Christmas music" moment earlier and realized I have no access to music in this house! I don't get the channels on TV that play music (too cheap to pay more), and the only stereo I have is about 15 years old that I bought for my daughter years ago and is currently residing in the makeshift shed i call a "garage", Soo, off I go to the shed..15 minutes later having dug through seven years accumulation of (oh I might need that some day stuff) I located its battered, dirt encrusted carcass. Lovingly dragged it inside, cleaned it off, dug out my collection of Celtic Christmas and Baroque music CD's and.....it didn't work....probably the reason it was put out to pasture in the shed in the first place...so i had to resort to youtube and the very faint speakers that are part of this laptop..I MUST get an Mp player and some kind of speaker for the new year! You must think me barbaric! I actually love music can't fathom why I don't have anything to play it on in here....very odd realization...

to susan

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Z24EMr1DKNE http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=U0aL9rKJPr4 http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JiqcjFQBukM http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=iWlgDARDPzo&list=PLA7CFD5E00E9A8073&index=18 http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WUwQpBLiDDQ&list=PLA7CFD5E00E9A8073&index=19

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4cP26ndrmtg&list=AL94UKMTqg-9BuG4UmtqVqg2g9shaQoGtM&index=1

The good news is that your thirst for music is probably symptomatic of a healthy frame of mind, at least that has been my experience. Maybe, also, the fact that you do not have at hand the means of playing music is telling you something...

I wish I could share my sound with you.

It's not state of the art but my 2 small Sony stereo speakers which are hooked up to my computer pack quite a punch. The speakers in my TV monitor are not bad either but I've not figured out how to get them working with the computer. (Trying to be creative) Do you have a set of headphones or a phone headset that will plug into the computer? For the New Year all you really need is a pair of speakers that can be plugged into your laptop which will act as your MP3 player, assuming it has a CD/DVD drive (does it have a DVD drive? I'm interested because I have been building up a folder of MP4 videos from YouTube which I was going to copy onto a DVD for you but that is only going to work if you have a DVD player, either in your laptop or through your TV. Come to think of it, if you have a DVD player there is at least a possibility that it will play CDs, if you have try one, it will either work or not, I don't think you can damage it.

yes, my daughter told me to get speakers for the laptop too. I wish I had done it already...I was working on a painting and wanted to hear music playing..The laptop does have a CD player. I think it should act as a DVD player too..I'll try one of Laura's netflix DVD's and see if it works or not. In the meantime there is always the Yule Log on channel 11...although their playlist is astonishingly awful..but beggars can't be choosers. I'm off to Connecticut around noon. We spend Christmas with my sister-in-law's family. I've known them all since we were little kids. They live within a heartbeat of Newtown (will be a little strange to be over there). Be of good cheer and i hope you have a good time today. It's been fun sharing Christmas morning with you! - Just to be sure..are we still going to the Met Thursday? I don't think you ever said yea or nay?? let me know if it still works for you. -S

I make it 48 hours 10 minutes and 47 seconds from now, give or take a few seconds.

The answer is "yes". N

OH! I'm not quite the time keeper you are but great! Thanks for the choral music that hits the "spot". i have been yearning for music. It was a big part of my life growing up. My father's mother was a concert pianist in her day 1920'2-30's and my dad always had symphonies playing..It adds so much color to the world i think...it does feel like the springtime of my life is arriving after some pretty rough weather...-S

The perfect sketch for the technically challenged

Dec 25, 2012, 11:04 AM

to susan You will like this: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kAG39jKi0lI

Neil PS The precision was for emphasis, as a general rule I'm not big into timekeeping

Later, on the evening of Christmas Day Sue sent this one, entitled "STUFFED" oh my, the problem with holidays is everyone stuffs you to the gills! Just returned from my whirlwind trip to Ridgefield CT. It's nice to be with a crowd of people you know really well and then it's just as nice to get the hell out of there and back home! Did you go anywhere? I hope you had an enjoyable day. The snow disappeared as quickly as it came..c'est la vie..-S

Hi Sue and Happy Boxing Day (almost, as I type, maybe actually, as you read),

I am glad that you had a fun day with your family. My day was very quiet but OK. I don't mind quiet Christmases where I am exercising choices, there have been one or two which turned out that way other than through my choosing and that was not so good. I will not bore you with the blow by blow account but there are one or two minor achievements buried there including a nice email exchange with my son which I will follow up with a Skype call when he is back in Cambridge and the uploading of several hours worth of music videos onto the Kindle device I won at a raffle a Foxwoods around this time last year. I had tried a few times to get music or videos onto it but Amazon didn't make it easy to get non-Amazon "stuff" onto it and somehow I couldn't get things into the right format. Today, however, it all magically came together and so I now have lots of things to listen to on my next long spell away from the cottage. In the course of doing that I found a new song that I like which I had not heard before. The version I first heard was by Linda Ronstadt, whose singing I like a lot - I even saw her live at a charity concert in Newark some years ago, she is very talented. The song is called "Feels Like Home" and I have (now) heard versions by several other artistes, including Bonnie Raitt, but the song seems to be a perfect match for Linda's voice and so hers is the one I will append. It is apparently from a musical called "Faust' which I had not even heard of (shows my ignorance of the live show music field - there was a time in the 80s when I saw a few in London - the usuals, Cats, Evita, Phantom, Les Miserables - but then I started to travel and somehow lost touch with the stage world. Faust interests me, though, I will need to check out the soundtrack. Anyway here's the link:

PS Glad the English (and Welsh) hymns worked for you.

Sue replied: That was truly beautiful. i believe it was part of the soundtrack for a pretty sad movie about a young girl who had cancer..(My Sister's Keeper) but it's still beautiful just on its own..i loved Linda Ronstadt long ago. i don't hear much about her these days. She has one of those "pure" voices that can just pierce you...I liked her partnering with Emmy Lou Harris another beautiful voice.So, Happy Boxing Day to you as well. I always thought the English held boxing matches the day after Christmas, when I was blissfully ignorant..It created quite a visual image I can assure you! " Hello Auntie Joan", (KABLOW!) Happy Boxing Day! Oh you English, you're so eccentric! -s

I'm noticing you like beautiful voices so here are two of my favorites..(I hope I'm getting the hang of this cut and paste thing) If not, it's Emmylou Harris and Sarah MacGlaughlan(sp?) singing "Angel"

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UIjEpAXoECE - S

Very nice. Sarah's version is among the 100+ tracks I transferred onto my Kindle yesterday and have (so far unsuccessfully) been trying to connect together on a DVD. The other Sarah track I have on there is this one: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=uHooH4464dQ

Some other EmmyLou duets:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=G03Iw8qdBCk&list=AL94UKMTqg-9CS4Ji3Ldq9VxmMmBmDe5SD&index=2 http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OfCS1yXg8gk&list=AL94UKMTqg-9CS4Ji3Ldq9VxmMmBmDe5SD&index=17 http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7hMrRspL8oc&list=AL94UKMTqg-9CS4Ji3Ldq9VxmMmBmDe5SD&index=23

and a Judy Collins track: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xXIfP-EJx2M

Happy St Stephen's Day, Susan

It sounds so much more elegant than "stuffed", don't you think?

Here's another Boxing Day tradition for you: (courtesy of Wikipedia) "Boxing Day is a popular day in the UK and U.S. for mounted fox hunters. Despite fox hunting being banned in the UK by the Hunting Act since 2004, Boxing Day remains the biggest meet of the year for most hunts, who use Drag hunting instead of live quarry." Does this mean that the poor foxes have to dress up as vixens and get chased by foxy hounds? That could be an even funnier sight than your duelling aunties. The song was written by Randy Newman for what I think was just an album called Faust, I don't see any reference to it having been taken to the stage. James Taylor played God and it starred both Linda Ronstadt and Bonnie Raitt. I'm not sure but I think that Bonnie may have sung Seems Like Home on the original. It was released by Linda in March 1995 on an album of the same name. I haven't seen a reference to it being used in a film soundtrack but it certainly would fit. Just as an FYI it seems that our Myers Briggs profiles are a perfect match. It is a couple of decades since I did the test, way back in my corporate days, but my profile is/was INTJ: http://www.personalitypage.com/html/INTJ_rel.html

From Neil: It has not come up in our exchanges but, for the record, I greatly admire good teachers and see the job, when done well, having the potential to bring about positive change and impact humanity well beyond the immediate context. The ripples can spread long and far, over generations. Not to be underestimated.

From Sue: I believe in the saying about "standing on the shoulders of others" to learn how to be a better teacher. My mother was a HS English teacher and I had an Aunt who taught what used to be called Civics , now social studies. They were truly inspiring teachers( and people) and helped me see what teaching is really about..nurturing the love of learning in young folk. They can learn many things on their own but, "how" to learn and to appreciate and want to develop your own learning for your own sake is the most fundamental.. that's why the bureaucracy and politicians will never "get it". A statistical score represents nothing but a snapshot of that person at a given time, it does not show what they are truly capable of doing.. .(sorrry, tendency to get up on soapbox)....-S Enjoying the music by the way...thanks

SOME OLDER ICONIC ENTERTAINERS (from Neil)

Petula Clark started her career in radio in WW2. This video is from a show she did in 2010 at the age of 78. She turned 80 last month and I think did a couple of 80th birthday concerts. Absolutely amazing. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LyoWBlytqtA

These 2 are from a concert in London a year earlier: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=uWbeOULyoyQ&feature=endscreen&NR=1 http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=B0T_EPeGj20 Cliff Richard was the first of the UK superstars to clock up 50 years of performing, at least a year ahead of the Beatles, The Rolling Stones, The Who etc. He was born in 1940 and started perfoming in 1958. This video is from a couple of years ago when he was in his late 60's. He is gay but managed to stay in the closet until a few years ago and even now declines to talk about his sexuality when interviewed. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8Xnn2_OzLgE http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ixjWxh6cvHM http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dFakvMtrKEg

On December 26th I forwarded to Sue this weather advisory which I had received from the Parks Department:

Good Afternoon:

How else would we close 2012 than with some more inclement weather – it has been quite a year – violent thunderstorms, tornadoes, and Hurricane Sandy.

The Forecast is calling for some severe weather for later today and tomorrow – please use extreme caution at the sites as there remain a number of damaged trees that could be further compromised from this approaching storm.

The forecast is calling for:

Forecasters are tracking a powerful winter storm heading toward the tri-state area that could make post-holiday travel treacherous and complicate the commute Wednesday and Thursday for people back to work after Christmas.

The storm is expected to move in after lunchtime, and get messy quickly.

Meteorologists say the system will bring a heavy sleet and snow mix or heavy rain, depending on the track. Intense winds, downed wires and localized flooding are possible with this storm.

Rain is expected to develop Wednesday afternoon, with a wintry mix forming over parts north and west of the city. Heavy precipitation is expected Wednesday night into Thursday morning. The city is expected to see mostly a mix of freezing rain and sleet, while areas further north and west could see up to 8 inches of snow.

Forecasters predict moderate snow mixing with heavy sleet and rain, moderate coastal flooding and damaging winds of up to 60 mph for the city, Long Island and the coast. Nearby suburbs in Westchester and Fairfield counties could experience heavy rain along with sleet and snow with damaging winds. The possibility for ice accumulation is also possible, especially in Sullivan, Duchess and Ulster counties.

A high wind warning is in effect for most of the area Wednesday evening to Thursday morning. The National Weather Service also issued a flood watch for northeast New Jersey from Wednesday evening to Thursday morning as meteorologists predict up to 2 inches of rainfall could sock the area.

Seas on coastal Long Island could peak at 15 feet during high tide, so Sandy-weary residents are advised to take additional precautions to prevent flooding in their already storm-ravaged homes. Another round of high tide flooding is expected to affect parts of Queens and the Jersey shore in the morning, with swells of 6.5 to 8 feet possible in areas like Sandy Hook and Freeport.

On Wed, Dec 26, 2012 at 1:42 PM, P. Neil Ralley <neil.ralley@gmail.com> wrote:

My first instinct was to ignore this and pray but that probably is not a smart thing to do.

As far as I can tell Manhattan will be fine by late morning. The wind will begin to drop around 6am and there is not even rain forecast. That said I