Your Weekly Diversion, Week 52


Week 52 has arrived and I’m pretty late in getting to it. I’m not sure why my blogging year is up before January 20th, but so it is! It’s been a busy week for us, nothing worth noting here, but plenty nevertheless. The news continues to create stress and distress, especially the devastating mudslides in Southern California. It’s heartbreaking to see the damage and even worse to learn about the deaths of people and countless pets. Sometimes it feels as if Mother Nature is trying to shake us loose with earthquakes, tornados, hurricanes, fires and floods.



Hillary Brooke (1914-1999) (photo from Wikipedia)

My first diversion this week is a tribute to a woman I knew in childhood, actress Hillary Brooke. She was an actress, first noticed in “New Faces of 1937” and she appeared in Abbott and Costello sketches and even had a role in the ‘70s TV show “Soap” and My Little Margie” decades before that. Her name was Hillary Brooke. I met her as a friend of my godmother, a lovely Englishwoman who worked as a diction coach in the film industry and taught Hillary her distinctive, plummy British accent. She was born in Astoria, Queens, after all! Hillary gave me my set of Mary Poppins books, and took me hitchhiking when I was about 12 years old during a stay at my godmother’s mountain cabin, after walking back from the little town center tired us out. She had a dog, a black Scottie named Barney. Hillary was the most glamorous, fascinating woman I’d met at that time. Growing up in Southern California, I met quite a few people in the entertainment industry, most friends and clients of my father. Hillary was the first, and I remember her with love.


Photo by Peter Landers, Wall Street Journal

Okay, next I have a weird diversion for you. In Japan an unusual version of Coca Cola is grabbing attention. Called Coca Cola Plus, it contains a high fiber, laxative additive that fans believe allows them to eat unhealthy food and not digest the fat, thereby leading some to dub it “weight loss cola” as opposed to regular or “fat” cola. If you have trouble accessing the WSJ article here, since they have a paywall, TimeOut Beijing has the goods. And the text in the second link is funnier!


Now, remember Superstorm Sandy? So does the City of New York, and the City as an investment entity recognizes climate change as the result of fossil fuels raising the planet’s temperature. Therefore, the City is severing ties with their fossil fuel investments. This divestiture could be a huge deal in global economics and spur positive change.

And there’s no one like Bob Dylan to remind us that A Hard Rain’s Gonna Fall.

Cheers, all, and…




Your Weekly Diversion, Week 47



Numbers in Graphics Calculated and Designed by Charlie Eppes

Now we find ourselves at Week 47. What to do? Carry on. Pray for peace. Run like hell. Stop and breathe. Do the next right thing. Look for the answer.


First of all, do you wear an Apple Watch? If so, here’s a diversion you might really need to use. You can track your sleep with the Apple Watch. I downloaded a good app recommended by CNET after trying one I didn’t like. I started wearing it to bed at night. It tells me how many minutes it takes me to fall asleep, how many times I get up in the night, how many hours of light sleep I get, and how many hours of deep sleep I get. After a couple of nights there’s a trend feature to show how I’m doing. I can even tell how long I read before going to sleep. Very helpful.


The Apple Watch can call emergency services to help you. Oh, you didn’t know that? Well, neither did I. Until the wee hours last night. I had just gotten up for the usual reason and was getting settled back in bed when my watch sounded a sort of siren. Afraid of waking my husband, I hurried into the bathroom only to see that my watch had dialed emergency services, having activated the SOS feature. I immediately tried to hang up. No go. They called me back. So there I am in the john talking into my watch telling the nice caller that I am fine, answering all her questions as to my identity and location, saying it was my watch and her telling me, “It happens all the time.” Assured I was fine, she wished me a good night and I hung up. I tried to get back to sleep. Again no go. I took off the watch and put it in the charger.

I’m lying there wondering what I’ll have to do so this doesn’t happen again. Then I hear a knock on the front door. I struggle into my robe in the dark and go to the door, cursing under my breath. A sheriff is there, asking if I’m okay. I explain it was my watch. Okay, he says and I shut the door. Again I tried to get back to sleep. No go, yet again. I got up and opened my iPad and Googled the issue. I learned how to disable the function. I can see how this could be helpful but I also know now how annoying it can be as well. My husband never woke up during this drama, leaving me with quite a tale to tell in the morning. Still too alert for sleep, I wrote this post.

Cathy McGowan, Adam Brandt, Andrew Wilkie

Australia has just legalized marriage equality, and as Parliament voted in the affirmative, the entire chamber erupted in the national anthem. What a joyful time! Same sex marriages will begin to be performed there in the new year.


Photo courtesy of Purrfect Pals

Prisoners in the US and abroad are fostering dogs and cats, helping to socialize the animals and prepare them for adoption. The actress Glenn Close and Oprah Winfrey have supported the building of a place for prisoners to train dogs at the famed Bedford Hills women’s prison in Westchester County, New York. The rehabilitation is reciprocal and everyone benefits. Researching for this post, I found that there is a cat fostering program in a prison in Washington state (see photo above). And there are similar programs all over. This diversion was inspired by Xenia Tran’s Whippet Wisdom on a greyhound prison program. What a beautiful idea!


A friend in Denver just started an Etsy shop selling her beautiful hand knitted items. Since we’re in Florida, we don’t need warm hats, but maybe you do. Here’s a link to the Mad Hatted Boutique. I salute her entrepreneurial spirit!

So that’s it from me, writing to you from my living room, the only light coming from the cable box and a nightlight. Adrenalin level back to baseline. Wishing you all the best for a lovely weekend. You know, it’s all right.



Workers of the World, Unite!


Pete Seeger, in Shielagh’s translation of a photo originally appearing in Bluegrass Today

Today is May 1st, May Day, the International Day of the Worker, a day to show solidarity with labor unions and their hardworking members everywhere. If you work an 8-hour day, thank a union. If you work a 40-hour week, thank a union. If you get a break in the morning and the afternoon, thank a union. If you get paid overtime when your hours exceed the 8-hour day or 40-hour week, thank a union.

Lest we toss the Workers of the World Unite slogan, attributed to Karl Marx and Friedrich Engels, into some extremist dustbin, read what Abraham Lincoln said in his first annual message to Congress in 1861:

Labor is prior to, and independent of, capital. Capital is only the fruit of labor, and could never have existed if labor had not first existed. Labor is the superior of capital, and deserves much the higher consideration. Capital has its rights, which are as worthy of protection as any other rights. Nor is it denied that there is, and probably always will be, a relation between labor and capital producing mutual benefits. The error is in assuming that the whole labor of community exists within that relation. A few men own capital, and that few avoid labor themselves, and with their capital hire or buy another few to labor for them. 

— U.S. President Abraham Lincoln, December 3, 1861


Union blood runs through our veins in this family. My parents were both union members. My dad, an architect and set designer for the motion picture industry (MGM and Twentieth Century Fox) in the 1960s, belonged to the IBEW, The International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers. My mother worked as a draftsperson and also as a set designer for RKO Pictures in the late 1940s and belonged to the IATSE, The International Alliance of Theatrical Stage Employees. I belonged to the CWA, The Communications Workers of America, when I worked in the business office of Bell Telephone of Pennsylvania and then belonged to the IBEW during a brief stint as a directory assistance operator. My husband retired as a member of the CWA after a career in the public sector. His father belonged to the APWU, The American Postal Workers Union as a postal worker. His mother belonged to DC 37 of AFSCME, the American Federation of State, County, and Municipal Employees, as a human resources clerical employee for the City of New York. And for almost 20 years, I maintained my psychotherapy office in the Amalgamated Lithographers Union Building near Union Square in New York.

This country was built on union strength. Let’s support those thousands of hard working men and women lending their collective strength to extend the union movement and thereby strengthen this great nation. Our best times as a country have been when unions have surged, bringing freedom from want, freedom from preventable illness through affordable healthcare, and freedom from job insecurity.

So, let us turn up the sound and let our voices ring, as we join Pete Seeger singing, “Union Maid” with its iconic refrain, “You can’t scare me, I’m sticking with the union.”

And perhaps you remember the ballad of Joe Hill, a martyr to the union cause, as sung so beautifully by Joan Baez: