Been & Going

[Desert Droppings] The Comeback

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Desert Droppings is making a comeback! To start, we offer a little lighthearted distraction  from the dreary din and drone of primary politics, the dire Dow downturn, and the unseasonable (and un-alliterated ) snowy weather that’s making ABQ feel like can-I-get-my-money-back-I-thought-this-was-the-SOUTHwest!
In anticipation of this weekend’s NFL play-offs, this Desert Droplet of wishful thinking was prompted by an article in The ABQ Journal  announcing Desert-011516-glenngthat Glenn Gronkowski, younger brother of New England Patriot’s star tight end Rob Gronkowski, plans to skip his senior year at Kansas State and declare for the NFL draft.
Oh…and with a nod to my all time favorite care provider – Dr. Seuss…get ready for…

One Gronk, Two Gronks- Red, White, and Blue Gronks

The sun didn’t shine on the Patriots’ play,
When they lost to the fish in Miami that day.
The playoffs were coming.
Oh, what would they do?
Both offense and defense were missing a few!

Gronk #1 did his best,
But the Pats needed others.
When- what’s this?
From Kansas, Gronk #2
It’s a brother!

Gronk #1 and Gronk#2.Desert- 011516-gronkfamjpg
What a sight!
What a pair!
Chiefs beat the Patriots?
They wouldn’t dare!

Gronk #1 and Gronk #2 on the field-
See them run.
See them catch Brady’s passes.
The play-off games won!

Whatever it takes
And what ever the cost here-
C’mon Mr. Kraft,Desert-011516-gronknoshirt
Get Gronk #2
On the roster.

Gronk #1 and Gronk #2
What a duo!
How nifty!
I’m betting New England
For Super Bowl 50!


[Desert Droppings] Yes, we have no La Reina

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Recently, in the northern NM town of Espanola, there was a to- do over a queen, her stolen crown and scepter, and a royal outburst on Facebook. While this little story is more faux pas than fairytale, there is a moral here eventually.

Some background:Desert- 071415- tulipqueen
When it comes to royalty, my ancestors and their fellow villagers in the Old Country didn’t exactly
“Tselebrate the Tsar” or crown a “Pogrom Princess.” Still, I do know a thing or two about proper royal behavior.  Once upon a time in Albany, NY, a close family member was enthroned as Tulip Queen at Albany’s annual Tulip Festival which honors the region’s Dutch heritage. Our Tulip Queen’s silver and garnet crown was never stolen,but it was bent out of shape ( as was the jeweler who designed it) when it rolled off her car roof where it had been placed for safe keeping while her Majesty donned a special event t-shirt and cap during one of her many regal appearances. The crown was re- shaped, polished up and throughout her year- long reign, the Tulip Queen was relentlessly charming, cheerful, and always upbeat about Albany and its beloved Tulip Festival.

Totally different story in Espanola where folks were already a bit touchy about being labeled a center for crime and corruption by local media. The tale goes like this:
A lovely young lady was chosen as La Reina (The Queen) of the Espanola Valley Fiesta which celebrates the arrival inDesert- 071415- conquistador northern NM of explorer and conquistador  Don Juan de Onate. I know,  I know. One person’s conquistador is another person’s crummy oppressor, but that’s a debate for another post.
Moving on… Burglars broke into La Reina’s mother’s house and stole her silver and turquoise crown and scepter. The Fiesta Queen was devastated and tearfully begged the thief to return the royal loot, no questions asked. All ok so far. BUT, unlike the Tulip Queen who knew that her royal role was to make Albany (not a perfect city by any means) look good, no matter what, La Reina got pissed and vented on Facebook. Oops! One of her comments, “I hate coming to this effin town.” went viral. KA BOOM! La Reina wept and apologized. Not good enough.  The Fiesta Council met to decide La Reina’s fate. “Off with her head!” was not an option, but her conduct was deemed “not in keeping with the traditions and role of La Reina…the damage could not be rectified.” (Neither, some might say, could Onate’s …but…another time.)
The Fiesta Council stripped La Reina of her crown and posted on their Facebook page
“We have no La Reina.”

Ah yes, the moral…
Whether you’re ruler of a country, Queen of a city festival , or La Reina of a town Fiesta,
be a savvy sovereign and Never slight the land that fetes you!
Desert- 071415- queen

[Desert Droppings] What$ in a Name?

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I was all set to write about some laughably ill-advised name changes which have occurred in Albuquerque over the past few months. First, there was the re-naming of the University of New Mexico sports stadium (aka “The Pit”) as Wise Pies Arena (aka “The Pit”) to pay homage to a nondescript mini-chain of local pizza parlors who will pay a grandiose $10 million over the next ten years (aka”S-u-u-u-re they will!”)
And there was the ABQ credit union that ditched its staid albeit cumbersome moniker “New Mexico Educators Desert- 062815- nusendaFederal Credit Union” for the catchy new name,”Nusenda.”  That’s  right, “Nusenda.” Does it have some arcane monetary meaning? Well, Nusenda, the credit union, was named after…after failing to realize that it sounds more like an anti-bacterial bathroom cleaner than a financial institution. “Nusenda, usenda those germs down the drain.”
In fact,” Nusenda”has no meaning. It just sounded to some marketing consultant like a name folks would associate with ” the future of banking.” They really said that!  Even the obvious “We lenda, uspenda @ Nusenda!” has yet to make it onto a billboard.

THEN- came the name change of all name changes. Not, alas, in ABQ, but in that star tossed realm where media Desert- 062815- catikardmeets mashugannah to spawn reality TV and  tabloid fodder like the Kardashians and their spin- off Caitlyn ( formerly known as Bruce) Jenner. Now, I mean no disrespect  to transgender people. I say be all ( or who) that you can be. Let your inner guy or gal out. It’s a somewhat freeish country, after all.
Welcome, Caitlyn. You look mah-velous, girl! Weren’t you clever to flaunt your independence from the Kardashian Klan by choosing the name Caitlyn with a “C”- a refreshing change from Kris, Kim, Khloe, Kendall, Kourtney, and Kylie. (Yes, there is a website devoted to Kardashian names!) Caitlyn-with-a-C, you amaze me. You really do. Especially, your spectacular debut in that girdlely garment on the cover of Vanity Fair. I haven’t seen a push-it-up, pull-it-in corset like that since I wore one to fill out and hold up my strapless, yellow, chiffon frock at the Junior Prom!
And tell me, please, how can Caitlyn at 65 look younger than Bruce did in 1980? Was it his bushy eyebrows and 5 o’clock shadow? (Yes, indeed, I did my research and scrutinized all 21 of the Bruce to Caitlyn photos that Us Magazine posted.)Desert- 062815- caitlin

And just one more thing –
Your striking Vanity Fair image aroused my curiosity, raised a question, brought up a point I’d like to clarify,while stiffening my resolve to be totally accepting and non-judgemental. Is lovely Caitlyn once, twice, three times a lady? I mean… If Mattel makes a Caitlyn doll (and she soooo deserves that accolade), would Caitlyn the Doll be …um…you know..anatomically correct?
What? Don’t tell me some of you weren’t wondering!
But, hey, I’m sure all will be revealed in mind- melting detail when Caitlyn’s very own reality series airs. That is, if Desert- 062815- rachelthere actually will be a show, because, before you could say, “Estrogen plus Photoshop”  the media spotlight shifted from “Cashin’ in on Caitlyn” to “Racin’ Around with Rachel.” Transgender, say Hello to Transracial.
Just like that, in the 24 hour news cycle , Caitlyn disappeared like yesterday’s tweet, while Rachel, a white woman passing as black- now that’s BREAKING NEWS! A deluxe perm, hair dye, tan blush, and attitude trumped 10 hours of feminizing surgery!
(And speaking of Trump, is he the GOP’s answer to Kim, Khloe, et al, or what?!)

But as for Caitlyn and Rachel…
Don’t read another word here! I am soooo sorry. I forgot to post a trigger warning at the beginning of this post. Now don’t go all NRA on me. A trigger warning, while providing protection, has nothing to do with firearms.  According toDesert- 062815- trigger Kathleen Parker, a syndicated columnist featured in the ABQ Journal, trigger warnings are trending on college campuses. A trigger warning is a sign or notice that a speech or course  “might express an idea that could trigger an emotional response” which could make some students uncomfortable. Should students  unwittingly be exposed to disconcerting discourse, colleges are providing “Safe Zones” where they can hug a teddy bear or blow bubbles to calm their troubling thoughts. Here I’ve been delving into topics which might just be a tad more thought provoking than the latest cat video and I totally forgot to warn readers that a burst of critical thinking and prolonged mental stimulation could be serious side effects.Desert- 062815- baby

QUICK! Picture fluffy pillows and cuddly blankies. Ahhh that’s better. Everybody comfy? All pleasant and p.c? Good.

Whew! Following the lead of Georgetown, Rutgers, and Brandeis Universities, future Desert Droppings posts will be purged of all that is snide, satirical, sharply opinionated  or apt to trigger emotional eruptions. Ok? Good. Look forward to sensitive, brain – numbing posts like “Learn to Love Your Swamp Cooler” and “Getting Along With Garden Snails.”
Shhhhh  Look around. Have those intellectual Tinkerbells flown off to Never Clever (or contradictory or conflicting or confounding or concerning  or controversial ) Land?
Is it just us curmudgeons who believe that college is where if you’re not uncomfortable , you’re not learning? Hey, kids! What good is it  to be broadbanded, if you’re narrow minded?

BTW , did you hear  the one about the snail, the cop, and the politician with a leaky swamp cooler?
Relax. Just testing. Nothing to think about here.Cal-Seething--062815--monke  Nothing at all. Cal Seething- 062815- sleep

[Desert Droppings] Another Desert – Another Passover

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Lucky for Moses, all he had to do was free the Israelites from Egypt, part the Red Sea, and listen to their kvetching for 40 years in the desert…oh, and get the Ten Commandments. Moses didn’t have to orchestrate a Passover Desert- 040115- mosescelebration for the “chosen people ” who turned out to be pretty choosy when it came to their desert lifestyle. “What?! Manna from Heaven, again!” “Oy, another day of hot, dry, and dusty!” “Who made Moses the boss, anyway?”
Although Moses was forced to re-check the Tablets in the hope of finding “Thou shalt not whine” on there somewhere, he didn’t have to meld centuries  of Passover tradition with modern mishagas.
It starts with cleaning. Spic n’ Span pales beside Spoon n’ Feather.  The Passover custom is to rid the whole house of every crumb of non- Passover food (called hametz), like bagels, Oreos, Cheerios, and Spaghetti Os. Before Passover can officially begin, we’re told to search the house for any leftover bits of chametz, poking about with the feather, sweeping stray crumbs onto the spoon, and burning them. And who is supposed to scour the house so that there’s hardly a chametz crumb to be found? Not the Rabbis who for centuries pondered and produced these customs, but the hapless, harried housewives of the Shtetl! As Tevye sang to Mrs. Tevye while she scuttled about checking that no piece of schmutz had been passed – over, “Tradition! Tradition!”

And then there’s the food. Those of you who live in east and west coast cities with pro sports teams and large Jewish populations can stop reading right now  and go back to scrubbing and Swiffering. You can find shelves of Passover food at your neighborhood supermarket – no problem!
But, here in ABQ, where a few descendants of those ancient Israelites have settled in another desert, rounding up the Passover staples  is a challenge that makes the Exodus look like a romp along the Nile. Although ABQ supermarkets have been awash in purple bunnies, marshmallow chicks, and spiral hams since Valentine’s Day, Passover items appear in tiny end-of-aisle displays of random Jewish fare assembled by some corporate intern in the product distribution department who vaguely recalls the Passover Seders she yawned through at Grandma’s house.
So, with Passover shopping list in hand, I went determinedly from store to store  – here a box, there a can, is that Cal Seething- 040115- gfreematzognarled thing a horseradish root? Oh look! Gluten free matza made from potato starch, tapioca starch, palm oil, vinegar, honey, and egg yolks. Ewww! Could the “Bread of Affliction” be any more afflicted? And potato pancake mix? What is this, Hanukkah?!

Suddenly, right in the middle of my marathon shopping schlep,what should arrive  in my mailbox, but a Wegman’s Passover Food Catalogue sent by a family member who lives outside of Boston. Now while Massachusetts may have winters that last from October to May with outrageous accumulations of snow that only a polar bear could love, it does have Wegman’s. Another family member from Metro DC describes Wegman’s as the Disney World of supermarkets (minus the measles, of course.) Although I’ve never set foot in Wegman’s, for a long time I’ve been following family members’ comments on Facebook.  “We grabbed Chinese from Wegman’s international buffet.” and “Wegman’s has the freshest baby octopus tentacles for sushi.” and “Who needs Whole Foods, when you have Wegman’s with its three aisles of gluten-free foods.”
And for Passover- don’t ask! The catalogue was bursting with such Seder ready selections as
plus a recipe for Potato Latkes with Salmon and Cream Cheese!Desert- 040115- wegmans
But for me in the ABQ wilderness, Wegman’s is as distant as the Promised Land was for my Israelite cousins many times removed and I don’t have forty years to meander through ABQ supers searching in nooks and crannies for foods to fill the Seder table. I don’t even have  40 days! Passover guests are arriving…Soon!  Passover guests with wheat allergies, peanut allergies, extreme aversion to green veggies, gefilte fish phobia.
And remember the spoon and feather, clean – every- corner thing? Well, should I throw out this stack of newspapers dating from September or clear out that cupboard full of cottage cheese containers that just look sooooo potentially useful? Decisions! Decisions!
Did I mention that guests are coming SOON? Lots of  guests! Do you think I could throw a towel over this old shower bench and use it as a table for the vegetable kugel and salt water?
And what about dragging in the big table from the garage and putting it in the center of the living room, with the kitchen table in the hall, and then use the bookcase  for the brisket  and wine bottles?  Wine! Holy Moses! I still haven’t found any! Would Barefoot Chardonay….?
No! No! Gotta get the Manischewitz.
Ok, folks. Gotta run.
However you celebrate spring – with a roasted egg, a Cadbury cream egg, or some vegan vaguely egg- like substitute, Desert- 040115- wineenjoy!
If you are fortunate enough to live near Wegman’s, raise a glass of their Israeli Barkan Classic Pinot Noir to us desert dwellers.

[Desert Droppings] Final Frontier

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I was halfway through composing a new Desert Droppings post, when our son called to share the sad news that Leonard Nimoy aka Mr. Spock, had passed away at the age of 83.
Eighty three no longer sounds as old and long-lived as it once did. And to lose Leonard Nimoy at any age is too soon.
I put aside my post – in- progress  and let memories flood in. I could picture a toddler sized shirt with Star Trek characters on it. I felt again an appreciation for Star Trek’s sly messages of respect, tolerance, and acceptance of diversity whether it be a half white- Desert- 022815- rockhalf black humanoid or a rock (which Spock’s painful mind- meld revealed to be a mother protecting her pebbly offspring). I recalled a 1980’s day at the mall where, while his sisters cringed in embarrassment, our son and I dramatically acted out Spock’s death scene from “The Wrath of Kahn.” We pressed our hands against an imaginary glass pane, gasped out the soulful dialogue, and sank slowly to the ground.

Ah, Spock. You came back to life in Star Trek III as both character and director, but, sorry to say  the encores are over.

There are people who leave a positive imprint on our lives even though we never actually meet them; people whom we expect to be there…always, whenever we choose to happily recall them.  It’s like knowing that the porch light’s lit back home, even though we haven’t been back  in a very long time.
Maybe I feel a special connection to Leonard Nimoy because he was brought up in a Yiddish speaking home as I was. Maybe I feel an aging Trekkie’s admiration for the half human- half Vulcan Mr. Spock and his humane, unshakeable logic calmly delivered with that superbly ironic arch of an eyebrow. Maybe, in the rosy glow of nostalgia, Spock represents a robust, optimistic rationality that appears to be fearfully lacking these days. From Congress to cyberspace, those that profess to inform and direct the rest of us,Desert- 022815- eyebrow go about their dubious machinations with less common sense than a tubful of Tribbles. While the media reports ever more ominous threats from “extremists” and “terrorists,” whose malevolent message we shudder to comprehend, our lawmakers toy with the notion of spitefully shutting down Homeland Security!

“Logic clearly dictates that the needs of the many outweigh the  needs of the few.”

We hear you, Spock!

Star Trek, of course, lives on in TV syndication and websites where nearly every detail of every scene can be viewed and commented on. Despite the now gawky special effects – “Turbulence!” (i.e. Everyone sway to the left. Now everyone sway to the right. Now fall out of your seats.)  and the sub-Shakespearean dialogue -(i.e.  “All phasers on stun!”) the show and Leonard Nimoy’s character still speak to a current audience.

Imagine if TV culture and technology had been such that each Star Trek episode was followed by a commentary show a la “The Desert- 022815- sadshatnerTalking Dead”. Think “Trek Talk” – which would have given Trekkies insights into the inner workings of the series which has inspired such a passionate, decades long following. Imagine how well we would have known Leonard Nimoy. Imagine…
Captain Kirk famously said of Spock, ” Of all the souls I have known in my travels, his was the most human.”  Considering the depravity which characterizes some human behavior today, I’m not sure that was a compliment!

Mr. Spock said of Kirk, “I have been and always shall be your friend.”  In the broadest sense of the word, the character of Spock will always be my friend, too.

Leonard Nimoy’s last  tweet said:  “A life is like a garden. Perfect moments can be had, but not preserved, except in memory. LLAP.”

Leonard Nimoy/Mr. Spock, thanks for the moments and the memories. In crossing the final frontier, may your Katra live long and prosper.

Desert- 022815- nimoydead


[Desert Droppings] In Case You Missed It- They WON!

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Note: Some of the pictures have been inserted at the discretion of the editor who’s a grumpy, bitter Jets fan. Deal with it. Desert-020715-jets

 I live in Albuquerque, New Mexico THEY WON! so why THEY WON! THEY WON! am I so excited that THEYWONTHEYWONTHEYWON! the New England Patriots triumphed in Super Bowl XLIX?
NM has no professional sports teams. So, in ABQ folks root for the Dallas Cowboys, the Denver Broncos, the Arizona Cardinals (Really?!), or as in the case of Super Bowl XLIX (love those Roman numerals!), the supposedly stronger, swifter, smarter Seattle Seahawks, because they’re a “west coast team.” In case you were under a rock, locked in a vault, or trapped in a cave, Seattle lost in a heart-stopping, jaw-dropping, eye- popping 28-24  finish that will be forever recounted in the annals of Super Bowl History. And in case you’re wondering why as a desert dweller, I’m so passionate about the Patriots, it’s because I’m a New Englander at heart.
Once upon a time, before there was even a Super Bowl,I was a newly wed, college graduate, rookie teacher in the Boston area. I ate lobster by the ocean in Rockport; fettuccine Alfredo at midnight in the North End at the very restaurant that was rumored to be Jackie Kennedy’s favorite; spring rolls in urban Chinatown near Filene’s Basement; and pastrami on rye ordered from a plastic coated mile high, ten-page menu in a deli in suburban Newton. And that was just the food!Deset-020715-jfkeating
Nationally, it was Camelot time.  JFK was in the White House and in Massachusetts, the Kennedys felt like everyone’s hugely successful second cousins. Their epic misfortunes and dramatic family minutiae were chronicled daily in the Boston Globe.
Even after leaving New England, as an American History teacher in Upstate New York, I returned to the Boston area to walk the Freedom Trail, search out the site of the Boston Massacre,and knock on the door of Paul Revere’s house. In case you’re imagining him answering…I’m not THAT old!
In case it’s been a while since eighth grade social studies, that sharp jawed, stony-faced Patriots team logo is SURPRISE! – a Patriot! Think John Adams and Sam Adams (Yes, the beer one) ,The Minute Men, and of course the legendary Paul Revere. Maybe if the Patriots were called the Boston Bulldogs, or the Mass. Marauders, it wouldn’t resonate , but “Patriots” just stirs up a slurry of memories thick and tantalizing as steaming clam chowder on a snowy New England day and as elusive as the true story of Paul Revere’s ride or the “real” reason those footballs deflated – which brings us to Super Bowl Sunday, an event this year which no marketing maven could have scripted better. Deflate-Gate, the Hernandez trial, Brady’s sniffles,the whole snide, sly, suggestive pre-Game media mix that guaranteed SB XLIX a massive audience for its multi-million dollar self-consciously clever ads and hyper-hyped Half Time glitz gone wild.
In case you’re puzzled by this post’s lack of wink-wink references to Tom Brady’s balls, we’re just resisting the urge to add one more smirky “What did he squeeze and when did he squeeze it?” joke to those that made us feel for days like we were chortling and high- fiving in a corner of the boy’s locker room in Middle school.
In the end, it appears that the only thing the Patriots deflated was the Seahawks. The Patriots won! Get over it!
Homer, the ABQ Bio Park porcupine, who predicted by eating raisins near team signs, that the score would be Seahawks 32- Desert-020715-porcupinePatriots 26 WAS WRONG! Didn’t figure on Brady’s perseverance, Carroll’s catastrophic call, and Butler’s miracle catch, did ya, Homer?
Once more, everybody!  THEY WON!
We now return you to the post – Super Bowl world. In case you’re curious, guess what has its mid-season premier on February 8?



[Desert Droppings] Toast my iPad, Please!

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I love my iPad. I really do. For months and months, we had so much fun together, texting and FaceTiming and emailing. Then one day, something, somehow went terribly wrong. I tried to sign  in to FaceTime and iMessage. I put in my password. The little wheel Desert-012215-sadipadthing went around and around and around and around and finally a message appeared: “Could not sign in. Please check your internet connection and try again.”  Everything seemed connected. I tried again and again. I tried a day later. I tried 5 minutes ago. The message is the same. Where did I go wrong? Is iPad angry? Sulky? Diabolically obstinate?
Don’t roll your eyes and say,” Stop personifying your iPad!” On CNBC recently, a commentator was babbling on in her fit, blonde, smartest-one-in-the-room voice about the coming-someday-soon Apple watch which knows when you’re looking at it. Not only that, but it knows how long you’re looking at it. Give it a quick glance and one screen appears. Look at it longingly for an extended time and another screen appears cajoling you to interact with it more intensely. Not one of the other in-the-know CNBC commentators said, “Whaddya mean it knows how long you’re looking at it?!” No one thought that this sensitivity on the part of a high tech trinket was creepy or weird or overheated PR. No one.
So, I ask you  – if an Apple watch can perceive your attention span, why can’t  iPad have moods? Never thought about it that way, did you!  Well, I miss FaceTime and iMessage, so I’ve thought about it…alot.
I know my iPad password is valid because it was acquired after a lengthy, convoluted, demonic process involving my hamster’s middle initial; 9 characters including letters, numbers, symbols, and 10 lords a leaping; and wavy writing designed to prove I was human. (No robot would have wasted the time!)

So what could be wrong?

A Geek Squad Guy came to our  house, complete with regulation Geek Squad shoe covers, to fix another computer. (Don’t ask!) I brought out iPad, hoping for a quick diagnosis and solution.Desert- 012215- geekbaby
“FaceTime and iMessage won’t work on my computer,” I said, holding out iPad like a sick kitten.
“That’s not a computer,” Geek Squad Guy said.
“No. An iPad is a data retrieval device for downloading games, music, movies, books.”
“But, I don’t download stuff,” I replied, bewildered.
“Do you use email and take and store photos?” asked GSG.
“Sure, that’s what iPad does really well,”I boasted, hoping to bolster iPad’s self- esteem (and mine).
“Well, you’ve probably run out of memory and can’t download updated versions of the iPad operating system and you need that to run iMessage and FaceTime.”
“Ok. I can buy more memory, right?” I asked, confident that a solution was near.
“Nope. There’s no way to add memory to an iPad.”
“What! They never said that when I bought it!” I squawked, beginning to panic and wondering why the heck people can store  48 hours of their kid’s Bar Mitzvah videos on their iPhones and iPad can’t handle a few hundred measly photos.
But GSG had gone back to scrutinizing a family member’s Mac Air, a “real” computer which presumably does have memory and is worthy of repair.
iPad and I slunk away despondently.

I then sought advice from a genuine computer pro in Washington, DC. Sigh…he confirmed the not-enough-memory problem but had a suggestion. Since my accumulated iPad photos use a lot of memory, why not store them in the cloud?
Sounds logical, sensible, just beam my collection of treasured photos right on up…aaaaaaaah!Desert-012215-cloud
The cloud! What if they get lost up there? What if my cloud password/PIN/username suddenly doesn’t work and a cyber storm deletes everything?! And why is this amorphous storage area? space? sector? spot? thing? called “The Cloud” anyway?  That’s hardly reassuring. Why isn’t it called “The Vault,” or “The Fortress,” or “The Castle with an Alligator-Filled Moat?”
Clouds are wispy, ephemeral. Here today. Gone tomorrow. Like FaceTime and iMessage.
Look what happened to Sony! I’ll bet they had plenty of valuable data stored in the cloud, plus a whole geek load of tech support to watch over it and ZAP! I don’t want Kim Un Dun and his nefarious minions phishing in my photo stream.
Why does it all have to be so complicated? Why can’t iPad be more like a toaster? Now there’s a solid, dependable device. No apps. No passwords. No mystery about how it works. Plug in. Add toast. Select “light, medium, dark.” Push the handle down. Pop! Done! Day in and day out… for years.
Why weren’t iPads modeled after toasters? Toasters never say,”Can’t make toast. Check your server connection and try again.” Toasters just work and toast gets served.
BUT…not for long! Toasters and other simple appliances are, I’ve read, destined to be replaced by “smart” versions that text, turn on and off remotely, and interact with you via a smartphone app. Folks, this is not going to end well! Do you really want your fridge broadcasting that there’s a jar of South Korean Kimchee on the bottom shelf behind the Bubbe’s Pickles and the Sabra Desert-012215-toasterHumus?
At the risk of being labeled a Luddite, a laggard,or even a loser, I propose a make-tech-simpler movement called T.O.A.S.T.E.R – Take Out All Stuff That Encumbers Real-life. (You remember real-life, don’t you?) To join, just sync up and sign in with your user name and create a 14 digit…


[Desert Droppings] Frozen Frigid Slushy

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No, that’s not the holiday forecast for Buffalo. It’s my take on a Disney animated film that has been immensely popular among Desert-123014-frozenpicfemale movie goers, ages 6-12. I first heard about Frozen from two young family members who rattled off the plot and then began whirling around, flailing their arms and warbling, “Let It go! Let it go!” (Frozen‘s signature song) I didn’t quite get the story straight, but was impressed by the exuberance it inspired. When Frozen appeared on cable. I decided to watch.
What an experience! Incredible eye dazzling icy special effects; lively  singable tunes; beautiful
princesses; a handsome mountain man; a conniving villain; cute licensed plush- ready sidekicks; and the most abominable, mind-twisting message ever for young girls!

I won’t go into every detail of the plot – ask any 8 year old wearing an Elsa cap with blonde braid attached or primping in front of her Frozen light-up vanity or sporting an Anna/Elsa t-shirt inscribed “Sisters Forever” or coloring in…well, you get the picture. For Disney’s bottom line, it’s not the message, of course, it’s the marketing.Desert--123014--apples
Still, the message gets disturbingly reinforced with each licensed product sold and that includes everything from apples to  inflatable Xmas lawn displays.
The message?  In short- Once upon a time in the kingdom of Arendelle, there lived 2 sisters, Princesses Elsa and little Anna. Princess Elsa had the unique power to produce ice and snow with a wave of her hands. As a child, Elsa accidentally hurts Anna with her frosty touch. Trolls heal Anna, but  insist that Elsa be locked up away from everyone, because her freezing powers were destined to grow stronger as she matured.
Years pass. The King and queen of Arendelle  (Elsa’s and Anna’s parents ) are lost at sea. Elsa, making a supreme effort to control her frozen powers, comes out of hiding to be crowned queen. Within moments, Elsa loses control of her emotions and in a massive Princess Mood Swing, triggers a frozen frenzy and plunges Arendelle into endless winter. Whew! Gotta watch that PMS thing! Elsa, distraught at the arctic angst she’s caused, flees up a mountain where, alone, she’s free to unleash her powers, create a frozen fortress in which to isolate herself, and TA DA cast off her prim Nordic garb for a sparkly blue, filmy, off- the- shoulder gown worn by thousands of Elsa wanna- bees  this past Halloween!
Are you following all of this? Cue music. Twirling with joyful abandon, Elsa sings the song that went viral, “Let It Go!”  She belts out the message that she no longer has to be the “good” (i.e controlled) girl everybody wants, but is free to “let the storm rage on” and exercise the full extent of her sub-zero strength…as long as she stays locked away in her mountain ice castle.

Anybody see a problem here? Imagine if Elsa had been a prince with frosty fingers? Would he have been confined to a “kingdom Desert-123014-malelsaof isolation” and later chained in a dungeon and forced to wear iron mittens (Yeah, they forgot to include those in the Frozen travel dress- up trunk!)? No way! A prince with frosty powers would become  His Excellency, the Entrepreneur, cheered for securing the NHL and Ice Capades franchises for Arendelle, and landing on the cover of Forbes. “Savvy Sovereign Turns Cold Touch to Gold Touch!”
But, alas, Elsa is a powerful woman whose “frozen fractals” and “icy blasts” are reviled as dangerous, rather than admired as profitable assets. In Frozen, the only way to deal with a frigid, forceful female is to isolate her until the heart- warming (literally!) slushy finale. In the final moments of Frozen, Elsa saves Anna from a fatal frost attack, as sisterly love melts away Elsa’s icy powers and she becomes, at last, the “good”  (i.e no more special powers) queen. ICK!Desert-123014-hilaryelsa

Of course this would never happen in real life, right? Blonde ruler? Special powers? Hilary?

Girls! No matter how many Snow Glow Elsa dolls you own , don’t fall for Frozen!
Get your Anna and Elsa dolls out of that ice palace play set and let them run for office, launch a start-up, and buy out Ben and Jerry!

According to the Wall Street Journal, a sequel to Frozen is in the works. What are they going to call this one- Melted? Queen Elsa goes through menopause and scorches everything in sight.Desert-123014-forbes
What do you think, trolls? Will Elsa be a hotty? Will the new hit song be “Let It Show”?
Let it show! Let it show!
Fifty is what thirty used to be.
Let them know. I’m CEO.
No defeat! There’s no heat that’s too hot for me!

Sounds viral to me!

Ok, so now that I’ve gone all Bah Humbug on Frozen, should I close with a cheery salute to Christmas and Hanukkah just celebrated, and to 2015 about to assail us like one of Elsa’s ice storms? I don’t think so. I’ll also leave the end- of- the- year lists & resolutions to other wits and pundits. The obligatory l&r’s  will be as ephemeral as other media morsels. Remember 2014’s child immigrant crisis, Ebola, Cosby’s alleged moral meltdown, mid- term election mud-slinging, Middle East hot spots ( take your pick!) – not exactly gone, but faded from view, as 2015’s Breaking News awaits its nano-second of attention.
Hey! Let’s talk breakfast. Trying to change the subject? Moi? Take a closer look. Breakfast is right on theme. Guess what I found Desert-123014-cerealat Smith’s supermarket? FROZEN- The Cereal! The “Collector’s Edition!” On sale! The box is a marvel of glittery snowflakes and 3- D ish  illustrations of the Frozen characters including Elsa and Anna in a creepy embrace.

Woo-Hoo! You can have your New Year’s champagne. I’ll take Kellogg’s gluten filled chunks  “with snow and ice crystal marshmallows” and  a fairytale touch of sodium hexametaphosphate, blue 1, BHT, and red 40.
L’Chaim! Happy New Year!  Let It Go!
And now…back to watching the New Year Walking Dead Marathon! Ring in the New! GRRRRRLK!

[Desert Droppings] My Four Thankfuls – Skeletons, Chile, CNN, and You

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Let’s see…according to the Bosses of Been and Going Thanksgiving posts are encouraged to be “angry and political.” Well, so much for my cheery nostalgic look at Thanksgivings past, when huge golden-brown turkeys were cooked by someone other than me; when cranberry sauce with high fructose corn syrup was a staple; and gluten- free stuffing wasn’t even a glimmer in Whole Foods’ eye (and Whole Foods wasn’t even a glimmer in a super market world ruled by A&P markets.)Desert- 113014-tgiving
I guess it’s good-bye to Norman Rockwell and say hello to the new normal November where Bill Cosby is an alleged sleaze; Darren walked; Ferguson burned; and according to Yahoo News,  the polluted Great Lakes are turning to jelly; HIV is out of control in the US; a nor’easter is headed to, where else, the Northeast; and Angelina Jolie is considering a political career  (Lara Croft for Congress?).  Kind of a thankless scene, but definitely a nod to ” angry and political.”

C’mon. Whatever happened to over the river and through the mall and all that? Let’s look on the bright side. “Desert Droppings” is, after all, a product of Albuquerque, where snow’s not likely; my cage-free, antibiotic – free, turkey hind quarter is roasting; and my fridge is bursting with a soon- to- be – prepared cornucopia of organic produce thanks to family generosity and Skarsgard Farms.
Looking back, when I first encountered ABQ, I found several things puzzling. Why did all these houses appear to be made of beige Play-Do awaiting a final layer of bricks or siding?
What natural disaster had turned front lawns into expanses of gravel, rocks, and prickly weeds? And why did gift shops have all sorts of skeleton trinkets that were cute rather than creepy?
I was quickly enlightened about Adobe architecture ( no bricks or siding ever!), xeriscaping (those rocks and spiky plants were Desert-113014-nmmagazinemeticulously placed and paid for ), and Dia de los Muertos (Day of the Dead), a joyful, early November celebration of Mexican origin which honors the Dear Departed. Parades, colorful altars adorned with items reflecting the personality of the deceased, and a rich array of traditional foods happily commemorate Day of the Dead. Imagine feasting on round loaves of sweet pan de muerto, sugar skull candies, and skull shaped cookies!
Make Thankful #1 – ABQ’s unique, fun, multi- cultural milieu which includes this light-hearted, gone but not forgotten, tribute to the Grim Reaper.
And no, Day of the Dead is not a sneaky lead- in to a burst of The Walking Dead fan talk…
Yes! It is! As TWD Season #5 has taught us DON’T TRUST ANYBODY! “Cooks,” clergy, cops, care providers, scientists, they allDesert-113014-beth LIE! TWD mid- season finale coming up. Get Carol and Beth outta there! Fight Walkers! Fear Humans! Runnnnnnnn!

We now return you to Thanksgiving DD- style already in progress.

From sweet to spicy – ( Yes, I’m writing this on an empty stomach!)  On the East Coast, I was never a particular fan of hot peppers, but they’re such a NM staple, I decided to try timid tastes at first, just a tongue tip of mild Desert Gardens brand Roasted Garlic and Olive salsa (  then a cracker full. Now, I eat it for breakfast along with O’Hara’s Holy Habanero  jelly and avocado sandwiches  (  and picante sauce on rice cakes. This summer, we raised a bumper crop of green chile peppers ( which redden when left on the vine). I dried a few just for fun and saved a bagful in the vegetable cooler to be added to winter salads, Desert-113014-chilissoups, and spreads.
Not a big thing really, chile peppers, but sometimes it’s the cheerful small stuff that really counts. Trust me!
NM chile peppers – Thankful #2

Coming after down home (or down casa) skull cake and chiles, the next “Thankful” thing defies a segue. It’s CNN and its 24 hour news cycle. What?! No, really. For several weeks, Dish cable company and Ted Turner were feuding over the billions in fees that Dish owed Ted that Dish felt were detrimental to its bottom line and to its customers whom Dish prefers to gouge all on its own. Our CNN channel said, “Removed by Ted Turner,” like he had personally blocked CNN’s satellite beams or whatever from each individual Dish customer’s rooftop. Dish substituted MSNBC for CNN- bad idea! Every time I checked for a glimpse of breaking news, there was a program on prison life with a smirking tattooed hulk in neon orange, describing in nauseating detail why he or she was totally justified in eviscerating his/her ex.
The worst part was that without CNN, I didn’t know what looming threats to national and international well being I had to worry about. Were Ebola carriers lurking in ABQ malls?
Was ISIS plotting a south west caliphate?  Had Congress imploded?  The pre-digested news dollops from Yahoo hardly sufficed. I need Fareed Zakaria, Wolfe Blitzer, Candy Crowley, Don Lemon, et al to tell me what’s wrong or right with the world, because if an impending disaster isn’t being covered by CNN, it isn’t worth the worry. Luckily, given the short attention span of the 24 hour news Desert-113014-turneraudience, bad stuff just fades away after we’ve heard it a few times and CNN finds new crises to again briefly capture our interest. Turner and Dish made up and CNN returned just in time for the Cosby revelations and fiery drama in Ferguson, both of which are now old news and will soon give way to fresh headlines designed to keep viewers engaged and advertisers satisfied.
So – Thankful #3 – The return of CNN and informed anxiety.

Finally- a traditional Thankful #4 for family and friends who have grinned and grimaced at a whole year’s worth of DD posts. It’s been a challenge and a grand adventure to seek out and share the strange, the silly, and, at times, the serious sides of life in the desert and beyond.
With luck and a huge effort at time management, there’s lots more to come.
Happy Thanksgiving!