From the Editor

Paula

 

 

The snow storm, already impacting a large portion of the United States, will arrive on my doorstep tomorrow evening.

It will be our first snow of the season; we have had a few flurries, but not enough to be inconvenienced by, or to color our world bright and pristine.

Today we ran around and did a few of those post-holiday and pre-holiday errands; and stopped at the grocery store, to stock up on items needed to finalize our snow storm menu.

In case you are wondering, Kate would like some white bean, sausage, and spinach soup, I a pot roast, and we both agreed to turkey sandwiches, on white bread with mayonnaise and pickles; Kate will be making our sandwiches, it is one of her many areas of expertise.

In between our trips out into the world, we came home to find our first Christmas card, and an incredibly beautiful and thoughtful, handmade wreath; what a lovely surprise! In fact, the woman who made the wreath, Paula, who is married to my cousin, has been one of the nicest surprises of this year.

Paula and her husband make care boxes for men and women on active duty. When her husband shared a picture of Paula hard at work, packing the boxes, I was first reminded of my Aunt Helen, whose church also sent care boxes overseas, and secondly, I was moved by the kind gesture. I wanted to reach out to Paula, but felt like she could not possibly want to hear anything I might have to say.

But then she invited me to join her group, Paula’s Prayer Warriors. On a good day, I am shall we say eccentric. I cannot easily check any of those little boxes, which help us to define one another, and figure out where we belong and what kind of relationship we should be having with someone else. Yet, Paula thought I was good enough to join her group; and of the many things, which I miss about my Mother, having someone to share a prayer request with, is right on top of the list.

Nevertheless, I was a bit intimidated to write Paula; we had only met once, and I remember thinking how perfect she seemed. I thought she seems so normal, in the best possible way. But like my Mother, I am quite fond of mail and appreciate the joy a note or card can bring; thus I kept thinking about how much this act of kindness would be impacting the receivers, and finally decided to reach out to Paula and find out if Kate and I might be able to help.

So I bravely wrote Paula, and oddly, as she is this person who knows and does the right thing, she wrote me back! She was kind, courteous, and accommodating; in fact she told me that my sister, Caroline, had too reached out to find out if she could contribute to the boxes.

Paula sent me her address, and we began to correspond, mostly electronically, but as we both appreciate the joy of the post office, we have also interacted through real mail!

Perhaps it is the medium in which we communicate, but as Paula and I began writing each other, we seemed to have let down any and all pretension, and just honestly talk not only about our lives today, but about our past, our families, and the family we share. Again, I have thrown caution to the wind with Paula and I just keep being honest with her, and oddly she keeps answering me!

We do have cast of common characters involved in our narrative; and that initially helped us to catch each other up a bit on our lives. But there have been many stories to tell and pictures to share, and few moments of vulnerability, which perhaps needed to be shared, if we hoped to be known to one another.

Paula has been a gift from the Cooper Cousins. A little over two years ago, I started a private group on Facebook; initially it was to make contact with my cousins, on my Mother’s side of the family. It has grown to include aunts and uncles, as well as nieces, nephews, in-laws, second and third cousins, and almost anyone else who is related.

My initial desire was to share the photographs I have, to make sure they were out there, available to anyone who wanted access to them; and of course I also hoped other family members would share their pictures, as well. The site has been good, and oddly, one of my favorite pictures, shared by someone else, was actually shared by my cousin, William, Paula’s husband!

 

 

(Me, William, Joy, and Caroline)

 

I am in no way speaking for Paula, but I would say we have both had a year marked by bitter-sweet moments. We have both lost people we have loved and cared for this year, and we have both enjoyed the pleasures of the road, and the sheer delight of spending time with the children in our life that we so love. We have also just lived our life, spending time with family and friends, running errands, and doing chores. We have spent time in prayer for those we know and for those who have shared a need. We have had good days and bad days, and somehow, we have decided that even at this stage of life, we are open to the pleasure of making a new friend, even if, at least for me, the fear of rejection always looms.

This past month, Leona, my Mother’s friend of over 50 years passed away. Their friendship had its share of ups and downs, but they truly and deeply loved and cared for each other; and were fierce prayer partners.

Kate grieved Leona’s death with me, as Kate too spent time with Leona, as she did with Pat, and Sister Becerra, and Tursia, all of my Mother’s closest and dearest friends. My Mother treasured her friends; and despite the fact that her friends lived miles apart from each other, telephone calls were insanely expensive, and time spent together was difficult to arrange, my Mother always did what she could to maintain and sustain those relationships. My Mother taught me many things, which matter, including how important our friends are. I am grateful to God that Kate was able to meet all of the women who meant so much to my Mother, and to break bread with more than one or two of them, with my Mother – friends matter.

Leona’s passing means the last of my Mother’s friends are gone; I grieve all of their losses. Kate and I have shared our sorrow over Leona’s passing, and she has comforted me while I cried over this heartache, which impacted me deeper than I could have known.

But Paula has also grieved with me over Leona’s death, and offered me comfort, for which I am most grateful. I love my friends; I think of my friends like family. As we get older, one of the things which we must bear is that our friends and family begin to pass away; and frankly it is not easy to do all of the work required to catch a new person up on decades of life; but I think I have made a new friend. Yes, we are also family, but more importantly, I really do feel like I can pretty much tell Paula anything, and she is going to roll with it and still answer my notes. I am feeling very blessed and so pleasantly surprised. Thank you Paula; and I hope this storm passes you by. That Is All For Now.

Poet’s Corner

Fleeting

 

Why do I find this tree more beautiful now
Than when it bloomed in the spring
And was then covered by leaves
Bursting with life
In the summer sun

Is it simply because I know
That the rain drenched berries
will soon surrender to the night’s frost
And be forever gone
As the tree falls prey to winters grasp

But why do we appreciate what is fleeting
More than what is permanent
It does not seem right
That we value what we cannot have
But disregard what is every present

The world is littered with spent leaves
From trees that once flowered and bore fruit
Before flashing a brightly colored palette
And tumbling to the ground in surrender
Leaving their naked branches behind

~ Cristina Jill Mosqueda ~

Film’s Recommended by Marcial


 
 
This is a trading world and men, women and children, who cannot live on gravity alone, need something to satisfy their gayer, lighter moods and hours, and he who ministers to this want is in a business established by the Author of our nature.  If he worthily fulfills his mission and amuses without corrupting, he need not feel that he has lived in vain.
 
~ Phineas T. Barnum ~
 
It’s a Wonderful Life, US, 1946, 132 minutes, classic drama
 
Casablanca, US, 1942, 102 minutes, drama/romance
 
How to Steal a Million, US, 1966, 127 minutes, classic comedy
 
Beginners, US, 2010, 105 minutes, comedy/drama
 
The Debt, US, 2010, 114 minutes, espionage thriller
 
Larry Crowne, US, 2011, 99 minutes, romantic comedy
 
Ed Wood, US, 1994, 127 minutes, comedy
 
Keeping Mum, UK, 2005, 136 minutes, black comedy

The Mouse That Roared, UK, 1959, 83 minutes, comedy

The Party, UK, 1968, 99 minutes, classic comedy

Fair Game, US, 2010, 108 minutes, political thriller

The Right Stuff, US, 192 minutes, Drama

The Black Balloon US, 97 minutes, Drama

The Tree of Life, US, 2011, 139 minutes, Drama

Shopgirl, US, 2005, 106 minutes, Romantic Comedy

12 Strong, US, 2018, 130 minutes, Military Drama

In Therapy, Brazil, 2009, 93 minutes, Comedy

Soul Kitchen, Germany, 2009, 99 minutes, Comedy

Breakfast at Tiffany’s, US, 1961, 114 minutes, Comedy

Queen to Play, France, 2009, 101 minutes, Drama

Castaway on the Moon, Korea, 2009, 116 minutes, Comedy

Eat Drink Man Woman, Taipei, 1994, 124 minutes, Comedy

Bride Flight, Netherlands, 2011, 130 minutes, Drama

The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo, Sweden, 2009, 152 minutes, Thriller

Bonjour Monsieur Shlomi, Israel, 2003, 94 minutes, Comedy

Ladies in Lavender, UK, 2004, 103 minutes, Drama

Paper Moon, US, 1973, 102 minutes, Classic

Outsourced, US, 2006, 103 minutes, Comedy

Stranger than Fiction, US, 2006, 113 minutes, Comedy

Run Lola Run, Germany, 1998, 80 minutes, Thriller

Frida, US, 2002, 122 minutes, Drama

The Hours, US, 2002, 114 minutes, Drama

Garden State, US, 2004, 103 minutes, Comedy

American Beauty, US, 1999, 122 minutes, Drama

Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind, US, 2004, 108 minutes, Comedy

The Green Mile, US, 1999, 189 minutes, Drama

Rain Man, US, 1988, 103 minutes, Drama

Chicago, US, 2002, 113 minutes, Musical

The Upside of Anger, US, 2005, 118 minutes, Comedy

Scarface, US, 1983, 170 minutes, Thriller

The Notebook, US, 2004, 123 minutes, Drama

Million Dollar Baby, US, 2004, 133 minutes, Sports drama

Good Bye, Lenin!, Germany, 2003, 121 minutes, Comedy

Finding Neverland, UK, 2004, 101 minutes, Drama

Spanglish, US, 2004, 131 minutes, Comedy

The Aviator, US, 2004, 170 minutes, Drama

The Bridge on the River Kwai, US, 1957, 167 minutes, Action

Pulp Fiction, US, 1994, 154 minutes, Thriller

The Magnificent Seven, US, 1960, 128 minutes, Western

Zorba the Greek, Greek, 1964, 142 minutes, Classic

O Brother, Where Art Thou?, US, 2000, 106 minutes, Comedy

La Strada, Italy, 1954, 108, Drama

In Bruges, UK, 2008, 107 minutes, Thriller-Comedy

Whatever Works, US, 2009, 92 minutes, Comedy

Good Morning Vietnam, US, 1987, 119 minutes, Comedy

Awakenings, US, 1990, 120 minutes, Drama

Patch Adams, US, 1998, 116 minutes, Comedy

Captain Abu Raed, Jordan, 2008, 102 minutes, Drama

Bandits, US, 2001, 123 minutes, Comedy

Lucky Number Slevin, US, 2006, 110 minutes, Thriller

The Chorus, France, 2004, 97 minutes, Drama

Butterfly, Spain, 1999, 97 minutes, Drama

K-Pax, US, 2001, 121 minutes, Science Fiction

Winter in Wartime, Netherlands, 2008, 103, Drama, Suspenseful

Elling, Norway, 2001, 90 minutes, Comedy

Il Postino, Italy, 1995, 108 minutes, Drama

 

Connected

Our Smart Phones are Listening

 

Tech-016-300x225

 

Lately, I have noticed that I am receiving adds for items, that I have spoken about but have not searched for on the Internet. At first, I thought it was just a coincidence, but it has happened too many times for us to ignore. It has led me to wonder; are our smart phones listening to us?

When smart televisions were introduced to the market in 2008, they came with speech recognition so they could comply with human commands, such as increase volume without touching a remote. However, the privacy policy of smart televisions actually came with a warning stating that all spoken words would be captured and transmitted to a third party, so that your voice commands could be converted to text. Additionally, all data that is collected would be used for research to assist with additional improvements in their products.

However, in 2017, Vizio would pay over two million dollars to the FTC to settle a complaint that Vizio collected data through a built-in spy device using image recognition technology. Vizio televisions would capture data once every second from a segment of the screen. The data would then be compared against a database that contained other media content such as films, television shows and advertisement to ascertain what was being watched and correlated with the IP address. The IP address would also then know the demographic of the household, which was then used to sell to businesses that needed to understand their audience.

We have also invited Alexa, Google Home and Siri into our homes and we have found out that they too are listening, not just to our commands but to our conversations. While the companies have stated that they use humans to help improve their artificial intelligence, it remains troubling that the consumer is not able to choose which conversations are reviewed. And how do you protect from the rogue insider who has access to very sensitive information?

While it may seem that I have gone off tract from the topic, regarding is our smart phone actually listening to our conversations, the truth is, that they are using the very same technology that manufacture our digital products today, of course they are listening to our conversations.

In fact, the latest software update for iPhone resumes the use of humans to review Siri commands. In August, Apple had stopped and apologized for using people and not just machines to review audio files. Wow, a two month break.

Jill has been saying for a while that her new smart phone is listening to her. While I would play with the settings, targeted ads continued to show, not only on the phone, but also her computer.

How to we reverse the trend to our privacy and digital devices?

First, we need to take steps to turn off permissions to applications that have access to our microphone. This is not an easy task because I found when denying the microphone permission to the app, it would prevent the entire app from working. I then decided, how much do I use this app, and is it worth it to have the microphone on. I was able to only grant the microphone permission to two applications on Jill’s phone, yes I started with Jill’s phone.

If you have a phone that uses Android, go to Settings and then Apps. In the upper right hand corner you will see three vertical dots, touch the vertical dots and a menu appears. App Permissions is listed in the menu. Touch App Permissions, and go to Microphone. You should then see a list of applications that have access to your microphone.

Apple iPhone is similar in that you need to go Settings, but then go to Privacy. In the Privacy menu, you will see Microphone. Touch Microphone, and you will see the applications that have access.

Second, each manufacture of smart televisions will be different but basically you will look for Settings in the Menu and then System. Within the System Menu you will either find: Expert Settings or Smart Features and then find Voice.

We need to be the ones deciding the price we are willing to pay for privacy verses convince. The only way to stay safely Connected is to be in control of your devices, not the other way around.

 


Public Square

Reflections

Remembering the Attack on Pearl Harbor Day of Infamy Speech Delivered By President Franklyn Delano Roosevelt “Mr. Vice President, Mr. Speaker, Members of the Senate, and of the House of Representatives: Yesterday, December 7th, 1941 — a date which will live in infamy — the United States of America was suddenly and deliberately attacked...

Nature

Nature

First Snow     The first snow announces that winter has begun, regardless of...

~ Aristophanes~

High thoughts must have high language.

My Mother’s Favorite Verse

“Call to me and I will answer you and tell you great and unsearchable things you do not know.”~ Jeremiah 33: 3 ~

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