I Dislike Gambling


No, not other people’s gambling. Although I consider it predatory on the part of Indian Tribes and the state of Nevada, among other things — if that’s how a retiree wishes to dispose of savings and Social Security income, however, it is still a free country in that respect. (Actually, I’ve always been a bit tickled by the suitability of the Native Americans’ revenge.)

No, I refer to gambling myself. I’ve been gambling for the last two months and finally tired of it. It all came to a head yesterday, and I’ve kicked the habit — at least for now.

I pine for the days when airfares were regulated, so when purchasing a ticket you knew what the fare would be depending on when it was purchased. No longer, of course. I’ve been tracking fares for our European trip. I watched the fares creep steadily upward for sub-optimal routings. Delta, which at one point had attractive fares for one-stop connections, came to only offer two stop connections via Toronto and Paris. But I continued to roll the dice; finally a combination arose that I figured was good enough to spring for it.

Ours is a slightly complicated agenda, flying from here to Rome, then later Rome to Paris, and finally a week later returning from Paris. Using Kayak.com was indispensable. Pretty much daily I would run our itinerary, looking for a good combination of timing and cost. The best prices were coming from American Airlines, but on the outbound leg it offered only 55 minutes to transfer to our Rome flight in O’Hare. That’s just not enough time. Finally, today, American offered a longer layover for the same price. Jumped on it. Now that is settled, we need to make a few more arrangements and the entire trip will be set.

From news reports, no one is getting to Europe this summer for much less than $1,000.


Words Department

In my mid-sixties, some words still elude me. For example, I think it took me two decades to finally gain an adequate understanding of “irony” and its distinct difference from “coincidence” — think about it the next time you read someone’s use of “irony” or “ironic”: did they really mean “coincidence” or “coincidental”?

Another word is “schadenfreude.” You’d think I could easily remember that it is “pleasure derived from the misfortunes of others.” I love the word, and certainly could find many places to use it, but I never seem to be able to connect the word to the appropriate circumstances.

Perhaps by writing it here my memory will be reinforced.


Memorials Department

Of all the movies dragged out for Memorial Day weekend, hoary and otherwise, by far the most powerful and emotional was HBO’s repeat of “Taking Chance.” It was hard to watch when first I saw it in February last year, and no less so last night.

It’s now available from Netflix, so if you’ve not seen it, I highly recommend it.

(Then, in a descent from the sacred to profane as only HBO can do it, “Taking Chance” was followed by “Sex and the City.”)


From the Caliphate Department

Story of religious police in an Indonesian province who are stopping women found wearing trousers, lecturing them, and requiring them to report others who similarly disobey Sharia law. I can’t find the words ….


Photography from Iraq Department

Finally this Memorial Day, photos from a Marine in Iraq and his Canon 20D. (And more of his photos here.)


Relief from the Heat Department

It would appear our flirtation with late spring heat has ended. Last night was blissfully down into the fifties — wonderful sleeping weather. Today sunny with highs in the low 80s — wonderful walking weather, which I will do in a bit.


A portrait.

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