accepting…a hug…

I’m usually the one giving out hugs, but I’m on the receiving end this time…and loving it. Small PhotoConnie Wayne of Hope For Today at http://hopefortoday.com recently told me that she’s also a…hugger, hugmamma, and a hug-gramma. So no small wonder that she created the Hug Award. Now why didn’t I think of that? Oh yeah, right. I’m not adept at creating awards…just receiving them.  We’ve all got our talents…according to God‘s wisdom.

The guidelines are many for nominating a blogger into Connie’s Hug Award hall of fame. They can be viewed in their entirety by clicking on the link below. They’re worth a look-see.  http://ahopefortoday.com/hug-award-guidelines/ 

Among the guidelines is one that requires I nominate at least one person who I think fits the description of having hope…”to look forward to with desire and reasonable confidence,” as defined by Webster. I’m certain I know of many more, but the ones that immediately come to mind are these whom I have followed for some time, and whom I’m almost certain have not yet been nominated. Although I could be mistaken because Connie is in the midst of compiling a list of recipients, as I type.

Christine Grote of Random Thoughts From Midlife at http://randomthoughtsfrommidlife.wordpress.com is a published author, having written of her deceased sister in Dancing In Heaven. It’s a compelling story of a woman who lived her life disabled…but did not let it disable her. Her life touched others in ways that continue to resonate. And now Christine’s family is revisited by sorrow once again in that her dad is stricken with Alzheimer’s. That she can endure life with steady resolve is a tribute to Christine’s hope in the dawn of a new day…each and every day. You won’t be disappointed when you visit my friend and fellow blogger. Give her a hug for me.

My friend at Sweet Days Under The Oaks is a Missouri girl down to her shoes, which run the gamut in her gravatar photo…currently, moccasins. PhotoHer blog is a front row seat onto the wide open spaces of rural America. Snapshots abound beautifully depicting country life among the birds, the horses, and others of God’s  critters, including humans doing what they do…like eating homemade rolls hot out of the oven. Makes me want to sit a spell…and hope that we all might partake of my friend’s…little piece of heaven on earth. Go see for yourself at http://sweetdaysundertheoaks.wordpress.com. It’s likely you won’t be in a hurry to leave.

My final nominee for the Hug Award is a man who has relocated to London…and taken his readers with him. Small PhotoTBM of 50 Year Project has challenged himself to visit 192 countries, read 1,001 books and watch the top 100 movies. Quite a goal! But if you peruse his posts, you’ll see that he’s dead serious. I could only hope to accomplish half as much as he. Given the time I’ve left to enjoy on this earth…I think I’ll pass. I’ll live vicariously through TBM. Now there’s someone with everlasting hope…for many, many, many tomorrows. God bless him…which I think He does. I recently gave TBM a hug, which he more than graciously accepted.

…I’m hoping these…and all my friends…accept the hug award…with huge hugs…

…here’s to hugging…cheers!!!…okole maluna (“bottoms up” in hawaiian)

………hugmamma.  🙂

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superstitious…in this day and age?

It was with uncharacteristic smugness that I read “Snow Job: Ski Resorts Call on Higher Authorities to Save Season…After a Native American Ceremony, Vail Gets Blanketed; ‘Pray to Ullr’.” It wasn’t so much a chest popping moment for myself as it was an “aha” moment for all indigents whose cultures have been trampled by white settlers…here on the mainland…and in Hawaii, my ancestral home and place of birth.

Native American Indians and Hawaiians have regained considerable pride in their ethnicity, owing in part to tourism and government intervention on their behalves. What amazes me is the respect assigned cultural superstitions in modern society.

English: Photograph of an Old Hawaiian woman b...

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It’s been a long-standing practice in Hawaii, that a new construction site is blest by a religious minister as well as a representative of native beliefs. The latter is especially required if the land is known to have been a Hawaiian burial site, or a heiau. The tenants of the building would not want to co-habit with island ghosts. Take my word as a native Hawaiian…you wouldn’t want to see one of my ancestors coming at you in the dark. Imagine your worst nightmare…it’d be even more hair-raising than that. I wouldn’t want to be in your shoes…and I’m one of their own.

According to the article, written by Ben Cohen, Vail Resorts invited Eddie Box Jr to “perform a snow dance.” A member of the Southern Ute Indian Tribe of Colorado, 66-year-old Mr. Box hasn’t skied in 40 years. Since his intervention on January 7, Vail Mountain back bowls have had 25 inches of snow.

Uintah Ute couple, northwestern Utah, 1874

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As a result of Vail’s success, other resorts followed suit. Park City Mountain Resort in Utah “invited 30 Northern Utes to a plaza near its base for a mountain blessing at high noon. Park City had reached out to them around Christmas. ‘We felt like it was time for Mother Nature to kick in,’ said Park City marketing director Krista Parry, as she watched five inches of snow drop outside her window Wednesday.”

Lake Tahoe skiing areas expect “enough snow to salvage the season’s dismal opening,” after a snow dance was performed by descendants of several Native American tribes at a nearby state park.

North side of Vail Mountain, and Vail Valley.

Image via Wikipedia

So what exactly does a snow dance entail? Read on

     In Colorado, conditions on New Year’s Day were the driest since 2002, according to the National Resources Conservation Service. Mr. Box received an email from Vail on Jan. 2. The Southern Utes had been to Vail before, including in 1999, the year the mountain hosted the Alpine World Ski Championships.
     “We would love to celebrate the Native history of the area, and hopefully help put an end to our ongoing drought of snow,” the email read. Mr. Box chose Jan. 7. The weekly forecast then called for more dry weather. Immediately he incorporated requests for precipitation into his daily prayers and sweat-lodge ceremonies.
     In Vail, he began the ritual at 8:30 a.m. Snow showers already swirled around a few hundred spectators. In the colorful regalia he might wear to a powwow, Mr. Box danced to the rhythm of hums, drums and an eagle-bone whistle. He also led what he called a “friendship dance,” in which skiers and onlookers joined hands and moved in a circle.
     Vail promoted the event using Twitter and Facebook, but not through advertisements or media invitations. The resort covered Mr. Box’s expenses and lodging while he was in town. Mr. Box says he doesn’t accept money for snow dances.
     Before closing, Mr. Box presented Mr. Jarnot, the COO, with a package of tobacco and asked that he find a special place on the mountain and sprinkle it in all four directions.
     Mr. Jarnot and three others rode up to a run that overlooks the back bowls. They skied down a trail, clicked out of their skis and hiked five minutes to a secluded location. “We took a little moment to make our offering and show respect,” Mr. Jarnot said. “Then we snapped our skis back on and skied down.”
    It was snowing so fiercely by then that Mr. Box’s wife, Betty, had convinced him to drive home to beat the storm. “My honey said, ‘We have to get out of here before it gets really bad,’ ” Mr. Box recalled. “We had to four-wheel it.”

Wouldn’t it be amazing if all cultures could reach out to one another as easily as the skiers and the Indians did earlier this month. One of the finer moments of our capitalistic society, I think. The rich looking to sustain their wealth by asking the not-so-rich for a little help. And the not-so-rich offering it for room and board…and nothing else. Except perhaps…respect for their heritage…

English: Neris Juliao And Native American Indi...

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…and that’s priceless…don’t you agree?…

………hugmamma.  😉 

righting…a wrong

A couple of Wall Street Journal articles caught my attention because they reminded me of my heritage, Chinese and Hawaiian. In both cases the news was good. The first was reported from Hong Kong, where my father had been born. And that is the article about which I’m writing now.

English: whole-shaped Shark fin Stew, Chinese ...

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“Ban on Shark Fin Soup Advances Through Asia was something that needed to happen…long before now. That sharks are caught, their fins hacked off and their writhing bodies tossed back into the ocean is the height of human arrogance in my estimation.

As a child I refused to eat shark fin soup as a guest at a Chinese restaurant. Consuming any part of a shark was pretty scary then. When we had occasion to dine out, our family enjoyed egg noodle or won ton soup. It was more our style and more befitting my mom’s pocketbook. According to Jason Chow, the article’s author, “Shark fin, which can cost up to $400 a pound in Hong Kong, is traditionally served as a soup and is seen as a status symbol in Chinese culture, revered for its supposed powers to enhance sexual potency and skin quality.”

Island Shangri-La Hotel 香格里拉酒店
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A major supporter of the ban is the luxury Shangri-La hotel chain, which refuses to serve shark fin in all of its 72 hotels. Shangri-La Asia Ltd. has been at the forefront of the surging opposition which environmental and animal-rights groups have long championed. In December 2010 the hotel continued to serve shark fin soup upon request, but as of this week the ingredient has been banned altogether. According to Maria Khun, director of communications at the Shangri-La in Hong Kong, ” ‘the feedback…has been phenomenally positive…in the long term, the ban won’t have an effect on business.’ ”

Joining the efforts to bring a halt to hunting and trading the endangered fish are The Peninsula Hotels, whose ban preceded the Shangri-La’s.
     “The Peninsula said that before its ban, more than nine-tenths of its
     Chinese banquets at its Hong Kong hotel served shark fin. The hotel
     said its banquet business hasn’t suffered since the ban was announced.” 

 
Hong Kong harbour and Kowloon from the Island ...

Image via Wikipedia

Singapore retailers FairPrice, Carrefour and ColdStorage have also halted the sale of shark fin in their Hong Kong outlets. Chinese restaurant chain South Beauty has also climbed aboard by removing the soup from its menus. Within the U.S., legislation has been enacted banning the trade, sale and possession of shark fin in Hawaii, California, Washington and Oregon.

Bucking the trend is “Sun Tong Lok, a high-end restaurant in Hong Kong’s Kowloon district that is renowned for its shark fin soup–the dish can cost up to $390 for a tureen that contains a 500-gram (1.1 pound) fin–there are no plans to take it off the menu.”

I shudder to think what sharks would do to humans if the roles were reversed…in a topsy-turvy world.

English: NOAA agent counting confiscated shark...

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…could you blame them?…

………hugmamma.

acknowledging…friends

It’s so easy to make friends among fellow bloggers. We’re all carving out our own niches, trying to tell stories others might want to hear. Communities form quickly among like-minded spirits, kindred souls. Those who are creative, design awards of recognition for meritorious efforts. They compel us to stop…and smell the roses…enjoy the scenery…be grateful for this moment.

Kate of Believe Anyway at http://believeanyway.wordpress.com has invited me to join others in accepting The Lovely Blog Award

Her exact words were…

Gosh oh gosh hugmamma you are beyond kind and thoughtful. Hope you are doing well today. i do so enjoy your blog, posts, photos, poems, videos, philosophy, outlook, etc. I am giving you the Lovely Blog Award :-) . Cuz your blog is lovely! http://believeanyway.wordpress.com/2012/01/20/it-is-beginning-to-look-like-bragging-but/ [that is the link}. Have a lovely day/weekend. 

Theresa L Wysocki

It’s gratifying to receive the well wishes of friends, and even more so when bestowing them upon others as deserving, if not more so. I therefore pass along The Lovely Blog Award to Thirdhandart’s Weblog at http://thirdhandart.wordpress.com

Theresa Wysocki is a photographer of quality and excellence. Her elegant blog belies the country girl she seems at heart. Though her lens is focused upon her native Kansas, her photographs and accompanying short stories gather the world at her feet…in awe. I’m one of her greatest fans…

…i’m certain you will be too…

………hugmamma.  😉

abc…awesome blog content award

I’m impressed with bloggers who create awards. It takes imagination and technical skill. I’m not certain I could get my act together well enough to pull off such a thing. So I’ll have to content myself with being a humble recipient.

I’ve Marcia Clarke of Marcia Writes at http://mecwrites25.wordpress.com to thank for the Awesome Blog Content Award. In accepting it I’m obliged to present a bio of sorts in the form of the alphabet. So here goes.

I dislike apples.
My body needs reshaping.
Cats rule my life.
My dog wants…out!
If I could only cut out eating.
Fear of heights keeps me grounded.
Ghosts hover…I fear.
Hawaiian…through and through.
I’m forever chasing rainbows…
James, my first crush; Jake, my first
beau, BJV, my everlasting one.
Kehaulani…my morning dew.
I’m in love…with life.
Me, myself and I…practicing self esteem.
I’ve finally learned to say “N-O!” 
Open arms…close arms…and hug!
People watcher… par excellence!
We can all be queens…in our hearts.
Rain, rain go away…and don’t come back!
You are my sunshine…my only sunshine…you make me happy…
I’ve always had a hankering for tall guys.
Ups and downs…that’s life.
V as in Sierra…(sorry…inside joke)
My favorite group of humans…women.
One day I might be signing an “X,” instead of my name. Hope not.
You keep reading…I’ll keep writing.
Zero tolerance for bullying!

Another stipulation to accepting the Awesome Blog Content Award is that I hand it off to another deserving blogger or bloggers. While there are many deserving of the honor, at the moment I’d like to name one… The Laughing Mom at http://thelaughingmom.wordpress.com 

Terry writes with tongue-in-cheek humor about life. I’m always smiling when I read her posts…laughing out loud…at times. Moms need to laugh…a lot. If we didn’t, there’d be a torrential downpour of tears…

...the likes of which you’ve never seen before…

………hugmamma.  😉

google…stung!!! (part 2…read part 1 first)

Google's Server Error page

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So who was the operative used by the Feds to snag Internet giant Google? Someone like you and me? Not really. Unless you’re a person living on the edge…a risk-taker…a reality star in the making. Meet…Mr. Whitaker…

The Tennessee native suffers from bipolar disorder, according to court submissions by his lawyers, and has a history of manic spending and fraud sprees. When he was 16 years old, Mr. Whitaker took his mother’s credit card, rented a private jet and flew his girlfriend for a shopping spree in Knoxville, the documents said.
     Mr. Whitaker’s path to undercover operative began in 2005, when he took millions of dollars in orders for Apple iPods and other electronics at below market prices and skipped town without filling the orders, according to his account and court documents. He hopscotched around the U.S. in a private jet, evading arrest and protected by a private security detail. He briefly rented a Miami mansion for $200,000 a month.
     He fled to Mexico in 2006 and started an Internet pharmacy, selling steroids and human growth hormone to U.S. consumers through Google ads, he said. The two substances–sold in the U.S. by prescription only–are sought by body builders to add muscle and by older consumers seeking to slow the signs of aging; they aren’t approved in the U.S. for such uses. Google’s policy prohibited advertising their sale online.
     “It was very obvious to Google that my website was not a licensed pharmacy,” Mr. Whitaker wrote to the Journal. “Understanding this, Google provided me with a very generous credit line and allowed me to set my target advertising directly to American consumers.”
     Mr. Whitaker was arrested in Mexico in March 2008 for entering that country illegally and returned to the U.S. to face charges of wire fraud, conspiracy and commercial bribery in the iPod case. Mr. Whitaker told U.S. authorities about the alleged role Google played in helping his Mexico-based pharmacy.
     Federal prosecutors, seeking to test the allegation, set up a task force in early 2009 with Mr. Whitaker’s help. On weekdays, he was escorted from the Wyatt Detention Facility in Central Falls, R.I., to a former school department building in North Providence, R.I. There, under the watch of federal agents, he set a snare for Google.
     Posing as the fictious Jason Corriente, an agent for advertisers with lots of money to spend, Mr. Whitaker bypassed Google’s automated advertising system to reach flesh-and-blood ad executives. Federal agents created [a website] designed to look “as if a Mexican drug lord had built a website to sell HGH and steroids,” Mr. Whitaker said in his account of the sting.
     Google first rejected it, along with an anti-aging website … But the company’s ad executives worked with Mr. Whitaker to find a way around Google rules, according to prosecutors and Mr. Whitaker’s account.
     The undercover team removed a link to buy the drugs directly–instead of requiring customers to submit an online request form–and Google approved it. “The site generated a flood of email traffic from customers wanting to buy HGH and steroids,” Mr. whitaker said.
     To pay Google’s fees for the growing online traffic, undercover agents made payments every two or three days with a government-backed credit card.
     Federal agents grew more brazen. They created a site selling weight-loss medications without a prescription, according to Mr. Whitaker and people familiar with the matter. They also added another site selling the abortion pill RU-486, which in the U.S. can only be taken in a doctor’s office.
     Google’s ad team in Mexico approved the site, so U.S. consumers searching for “RU 486” would see an ad for the site. Google ad executives allowed the agents to add the phrase “no prescription needed.”
     Days later, federal agents added links to buy the drugs directly. Such sales broke U.S. laws prohibiting the sale of drugs from outside the country and without a prescription. “There were photos of the drugs, descriptions, labels that clearly printed out that we were shipping without a prescription and it was from Mexico,” Mr. Whitaker said.
     By the end of the operation in mid-2009, agents were buying Google ads for sites purportedly selling such prescription-only narcotics as oxycodone and hydrocodone. Agents also got Google’s sales office in China to approve a site selling Prozac and Valium to U.S. customers without a prescription.
     “Google’s employees were instrumental in bypassing policy regarding pharmacy verification,” Mr. Whitaker told the Journal. “The websites were blatantly illegal.”
     At the agents’ direction, Mr. Whitaker said he signaled his illegal intent to Google ad executives, including Google’s top manager in Mexico. As a tape recorder ran, he walked Google executives through the illegal parts of the websites. He said he told ad executives that U.S. Customs had seized shipments, for example, and that one client wanted to be “the biggest steroid dealer in the United States.”
     Agents at first ignored the flood of orders. But as the ersatz sites morphed into full-fledged Internet pharmacies, they worried that clients, some sick, would be expecting medication.
     So customers were told they had to become members by filling out an online form and to receive a “membership kit.” The kits never arrived, but it stopped users from placing orders, Mr. Whitaker said.
     In the summer of 2009, U.S. agents visited Google’s headquarters in Mountain View, Calif., to tell corporate executives about the evidence they had collected. Prosecutors served grand jury subpoenas and eventually collected four million pages of internal emails and documents, as well as witness testimony.
     The federal task force, which also included the Food and Drug Administration’s Office of Criminal Investigation, was preparing criminal charges against the company and its executives for aiding and abetting criminal activity online, prosecutors said.
     Google hired attorney Jamie Gorelick, the former deputy U.S. Attorney General under President Clinton. Two years later, the company reached a settlement with the government, a decision that stopped the likely introduction of emails to top Google executives had the case gone to trial.
     “Suffice to say this was not two or three rogue employees at the customer service level doing this on their own,” said Mr. Neronha, the U.S. attorney. “This was corporate decision to engage in this conduct.”
     Six private shareholder lawsuits have so far been filed against Google’s executives and board members, alleging they damaged the company by not taking earlier action against the illegal pharmacy ads.
     Google has other potential legal exposure. Record companies and movie studios say Google wilfully profits from illegal Internet piracy–an issue raised last week, when Congress dropped antipiracy legislation after opposition from Internet companies, including Google.
     A 2011 study commissioned by NBC Universal estimated that nearly a quarter of all Internet traffic relates to pirated movies, TV shows and games. “There’s big business in being agnostic about what sites you place your ads on,” said Jay Roth, national executive director of Directors Guild of America, which backed antipiracy legislation.
     Online scams pose another potential legal threat. Searches relating to mortgage refinancing have been among the most popular on Google, Eric Schmidt said in 2009 when he was chief executive. An investigation by Consumer Watchdog, a consumer advocacy group, found that a large number of companies selling “mortgage modification” on Google bore the hallmarks of fraud.
     The special inspector general’s office for the Troubled Asset Relief Program in November said it had shut down 85 alleged online loan modification schemes that defrauded homeowners through Google ads.
     “Google has a natural longterm financial incentive to make sure that the advertisements we serve are trustworthy so that users continue to use our services and we aren’t afraid to take aggressive action to achieve that goal,” the company said.
     To end the sting, federal agents killed off Mr. Whitaker’s fictional character. They sent the Google employees a final email, allegedly from Jason Corriente’s brother, saying the online entrepreneur died in a car crash.
     Mr. Whitaker, who pleaded guilty and faced a maximum 65-year prison term, was sentenced in December to six years, following what federal prosecutors called “rather extraordinary” cooperation. He is due for release in two years.

(Amir Efrati and Amy Schatz contributed to “Con Artist Starred in Sting That Cost Google Millions” by Thomas Catan)

American Greed

Image via Wikipedia

The height of capitalism…or greed? This is the stuff of movies and novels, far removed from the lives of commoners like you and me. That these people, Whitaker, Google execs, and government agents, are born ordinary Joes only to take center stage later in life…is beyond comprehension.

Scenography for the movie Greed. 1926.

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Trying to make a buck gets us up and out every day. Most of us plug along, making a buck here, a buck there…legally. Then there are those who make handfuls of bucks…any way they can.

 

Goya's

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sooner or later…the bogie man’s gonna get them…i hope!…

………hugmamma. 

out of the mouths of…rappers

Nederlands: 2 Opkomende Limburgse rappers

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Visited the site of Jaymel Songwriter, curious to learn about a new subscriber to hugmamma’s mind, body, and soul. The visit did not disappoint. In fact it amazed me, as it always does, that someone probably half my age might be interested in what I have to say. I think it’s good for the generations to switch channels once-in-awhile to listen to a different kind of yada, yada, yada. We can all learn something. I did.

I’ve defended Obama’s right to be President of the United States, much to the chagrin and consternation of a sibling. But to each his own, and no amount of dueling will change either of our minds. So we’ll “let sleeping dogs lie.” I hope.

I’ve not been a fan of rap, mostly because I could never distinguish the words to learn the message. But I think you’ll agree that Jaymel’s voice comes through loud and clear in his song, which I’ve reprinted below.

LAY OFF OBAMA

September 23, 2011 //
 
YOU ALREADY KNOW WHAT WE FACING
HE TRYING TO SAVE A NATON FROM A PAST BAD RELATION
JAPAN SHOWS APPRECIATION FOR THE RELIEF OF THE QUAKING
HE SHOWED, MUCH LOVE TO THE HATIANS
HOW EVERYBODY ELSE GONNA LOVE ‘EM
AND HIS OWN HOMETEAM TREAT HIM LIKE HE AIN’T TRYING DO NOTHING
THE RICH MAD BECAUSE THE POOR IS EQUAL
BE THANKFUL, I WOULD FEEL SORRY FOR YOU PEOPLE
IF THE LESS FORTUNATE IS AT THE SAME TABLE
WITH BOLOGNA, BUT YOU HAVE A STEAK, IT WOULD A KANE AND ABEL
BUSH IS THE ONE TO BLAME
HE THE ONE THAT TOOK LADY AMERICA THROUGH THIS PAIN
LIKE A MAN OBAMA GAVE HIS SHOULDER AND DIDN’T COMPLAIN
I’M GLAD HE LET US WALK WITH MCCAIN
EVERY SOUL SHOULD KNOW THE FEELING
OBAMA PICKING UP BAGGAGE THAT NEEDS FOUR TERMS OF HEALING
HE NEED TWO TERMS TO CLEAN UP BUSH FIRST TERM
AS FOR THE RE-ELECTION, IT WAS BUSH’S WORST TERM
LOUISIANA STILL REBUILDING FROM THE HURRICANE
OBAMA JUST STILL TRYING BLOW OUT THE 9/11 FLAME
FAMILY OF THE VICTIMS, WE STILL FEEL YOUR PAIN
THE BEST THAT BUSH DID WAS SADDAM HUSSEIN
BUT OBAMA IS THE ONE THAT GOT THE GRAND PRIZE
WHEN HE TOLD BIN LADEN, “YOU CAN RUN, BUT CAN’T HIDE”
YEAH, HE MIGHT BE COOL AND SERENE
BUT MEET THE BAD GUY IF YOU FOOL WITH HIS QUEEN
YES, I’M TALKING ABOUT AMERICA, SO BE PATIENT
A CHANGE GONNA COME, BUT IT’S UP TO US TO MAKE IT.
 

With his family by his side, Barack Obama is s...

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Interesting…life.
 
When we think we’ve nothing in common…life shows us that we do.
 
Jaymel’s from Atlanta; hugmamma’s from Seattle.
 
He’s young. I’m…not so much.
 
He raps. I croon.
 
But we’re both…reaching for the moon.
 
Same sky. Same sun. Same earth.
 
Same dreams. Same hopes. Same pain.
 
Same journey…
 
Same Obama.
 
…can’t rap…can write…
 
………hugmamma. 
 
I recommend you check out songwriter Jaymel at http://jaymelsongwriter.wordpress.com. Let him know hugmamma sent you by…to rap…awhile.  😉 

google…stung!!! (Part 1 of 2)

Google 的貼牌冰箱(Google refrigerator)

Image by Aray Chen via Flickr

Hot on the heels of my previous post about Internet Goliath Google, is a sister story from today’s Wall Street Journal. Learning that it got caught in a web of its own lies was too good an opportunity to let slip.

Con Artist Starred in Sting That Cost Google Millions
by Thomas Catan 
    
Wearing leg irons and guarded by federal agents, David Whitaker posed as an agent for online drug dealers in dozens of recorded phone calls and email exchanges with Google sales executives, spending $200,000 in government money for ads selling narcotics, steroids and other controlled substances.
     Over four months in 2009, Mr. Whitaker, a federal prisoner and convicted con artist, was the lead actor in a government sting targeting Google Inc. that yielded one of the largest business forfeitures in U.S. history.
     “There was a part of me that felt bad,” Mr. Whitaker wrote in his account of the undercover operation viewed by The Wall Street Journal. “I had grown to like these people.” But, he said, “I took ease in knowing they…knew it was wrong.”
     The government built its criminal case against Google using money, aliases and fake companies–tactics often used against drug cartels and other crime syndicates, according to interviews and court documents. Google agreed to pay a $500 million forfeiture last summer in a settlement to avoid prosecution for aiding illegal online pharmaceutical sales.
     Google acknowledged in the settlement that it had improperly and knowingly assisted online pharmacy advertisers allegedly based in Canada to run advertisements for illicit pharmacy sales targeting U.S. customers.
     “We banned the advertising of prescription drugs in the U.S. by Canadian pharmacies some time ago,” the company said in its sole comment on the matter. “However, it’s obvious with hindsight that we shouldn’t have allowed these ads on Google in the first place.”
     The half-billion dollar forfeiture, although historically large, was small change for google, which holds $45 billion in cash. But the company’s acceptance of responsibility opened the door to potential liability for taking ads from other people involved in unlawful acts online, such as distributing pirate movies or perpetrating online fraud.
     Google has long argued it wasn’t responsible for the actions of its more than one million advertisers. But the forfeiture paid by Google represented not just the money it made from the ads, but also the revenue collected by illegal pharmacies through Google-related sales.
     In an important shift, the settlement “signals that, where evidence can be developed that a search engine knowingly and actively assisted advertisers to promote improper conduct, the search engine can be held accountable as an accomplice,” according to Peter Neronha, the lead prosecutor.
     Unknown is whether the company will toss aside advertisers as a result. “If Google were to adopt a much more restrictive definition of problematic advertisements, everyone would immediately notice a drop in their revenue,” said Eric Goldman, director of the High Tech Law Institute at Santa Clara University.
     The government’s case also contained potentially embarrassing allegations that top Google executives, including co-founder Larry Page, were told about legal problems with the drug ads.
     Mr. Page, now google’s chief executive, knew about the illicit conduct, said Mr. Neronha, the U.S. attorney for Rhode Island who led the multiagency federal task force that conducted the sting. “We simply know from the documents we reviewed and witnesses we interviewed that Larry Page knew what was going on,” he said in an interview after the August settlement.
     Mr. Neronha declined to detail the evidence, which was presented in secret to a federal grand jury. Other people familiar with the case said internal emails showed Sheryl Sandberg, a former top Google executive who left in 2008 for Facebook Inc., had raised concerns about the ads.
     Prosecutors could have used that evidence to argue Google deliberately turned a blind eye to lawbreaking to protect a profit stream estimated by the government in the hundreds of millions of dollars.
     Ms. Sandberg declined to comment through a spokesman. Mr. Page also declined to comment.
     Google says it has strict policies in place to prevent criminals from using its ad services and it bans advertisers who repeatedly violate its guidelines.
     “We ban not just ads but also advertisers who abuse our platform, and we work closely with law enforcement and other government authorities to take action against bad actors,” said Kent Walker, Google’s general counsel.
     Mr. Whitaker’s story, told here for the first time, presents a different picture. Shuffling into federal court in handcuffs and beige overalls last month, the 37-year-old prisoner looked like he could pass for an employee of a Silicon Valley start-up. …

Now let’s mosey along to part 2…to see how the sting…went down…

………hugmamma.  😉 

 

     

tiptoeing…through the internet…

Hover!

Image via Wikipedia

I lead a double life as I’m sure most of us do these days. We’re on the internet doing our thing, whatever that might be. Meanwhile the gods hover overhead controlling the maze in which we find ourselves. We’re mice looking for that tasty morsel, that “feel-good moment,” which momentarily quiets our brain in its perpetual hunt for satisfaction.

facebook engancha

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Addicted to social networking is putting it mildly. We’re as committed to the internet as we are to the automobile and foreign gas. Yes, there are those who have managed to side-step both life altering inventions, but they are decidedly in the minority. But I would venture to guess that they too are affected, just as non-smokers are by second-hand smoke.

The Human Body -- Cancer

Image by n0cturbulous via Flickr

According to Webster, “Cancer…1. a malignant growth or tumor that tends to spread. 2. any evil that spreads destructively. …” I liken the pervasive invasion of Google and Facebook into our privacy like a cancer that can only have dire consequences. And just as a victim of the dreaded disease is never certain of his prognosis, so too we users of the internet might be viewed as lambs led to slaughter. When and where we meet with our destruction is yet to be seen.

Image representing YouTube as depicted in Crun...

Image via CrunchBase

You can draw your own conclusions from the following Wall Street Journal article in today’s paper.

Google Widens Its Tracks
by Julia Angwin

     In a move that could make it harder for Google users to remain anonymous, Google Inc. said it would start combining nearly all the information it has on its users.
     This could mean, for instance, that when users search via Google, the company will use their activities on sister sites like Gmail and YouTube to influence those users’ search results. Google hasn’t done that before.
     Google’s move–which was disclosed in a privacy policy that will take effect on March 1–is a sign of the fierce competition between Google and Facebook Inc. over personal data. Facebook has amassed an unprecedented amount of data about the lives of its more than 800 million members–information that is coveted by advertisers.
     Google traditionally hasn’t had the same amount of personal data about its users, and has kept much of its personal data separate.
     But as Facebook gears up for its planned initial public offering this year, Google has amped up the competition.
     Last year, Google launched its own social network, called Google+ in members’ search results. Google’s latest move would allow the company to include insights from services such as Gmail and YouTube to search results as well.
     This could effectively rewrite the relationship between users and the world’s most-popular search engine.
     Google has long treated users’ search queries as sacrosanct–in part because they can contain very personal sensitive information–about topics such as health and finances.
     In June, at The Wall Street Journal’s All Things Digital conference, Google Executive Chairman Eric Schmidt said, “Google will remain a place where you can do anonymous searches. We’re very committed to having you have control over the information we have about you. So, for example, if you want to continue to use Google and don’t log in, and don’t tell us who you are, that will continue to be true forever.”
     Mr. Schmidt’s statement would remain true for people who aren’t logged into a Gmail, Google+, YouTube, Android phone or an other Google account. But as Google’s services become more ubiquitous and deeply linked, it could become more difficult for users to take Google up on that promise of anonymity.
     “Google now watches consumers practically everywhere they go on the Web–and in real life, when using a mobile phone,” said Christopher Soghoian, an independent privacy and security researcher in Washington D.C. “No single entity should be trusted with this much sensitive data.”
     Google said that it isn’t collecting any new information, just combining it to provide better service to customers. For example, the company said that it could alert a user that he is going to be late to a meeting based on Google’s analysis of the user’s location, calendar and analysis of traffic on the road to the meeting.
     “We’ll treat you as a single user across all our products, which will mean a simpler, more intuitive Google experience,” Alma Whitten, Google’s director of privacy, product and engineering, wrote on the company’s blog.
     Google added that it would continue its policy of not combining user’s personal information with data about their Web browsing collected by its DoubleClick advertising network.
     The company last year signed a privacy agreement with the Federal Trade Commission. The settlement requires Google to ask users for permission before changing some of its privacy settings and requires the company to submit to privacy audits for 20 years.
     This month, the company launched an advertising campaign touting its commitment to privacy.
     Google until recently refrained from aggressively exploiting its own data about internet users to show them online ads tailored to their interests, fearing a backlash. But the rapid emergence of rivals such as Facebook has caused it to change its policy over time.
     In 2009 Google for the first time started collecting a new type of data about the websites people visit, and using it to track and show them ads across the Internet.
     Last June, the company launched Google+, which was intended to rival Facebook, Twitter Inc. and other social-media companies whose users have willingly provided information about themselves.
     With Tuesday’s changes, Google is “setting the stage for one-upping” Facebook in terms of being able to better target online ads to website visitors based on what it knows about their interests, said Brian Kennish, a former Google programmer who runs Disconnect Inc., a firm that offers software to block Google and other companies that collect information about Web users.
(–Amir Efrati contributed to this article)

Makes me think of former New York Governor, Elliott Spitzer. He trolled the internet seeking sexual favors from women on online sites. I’m sure it’s safe to assume there are millions of men who do the same. What they do in the privacy of their own homes is their business…or is it? Not anymore it seems. Google is now the all knowing eye. Will it give up its information for money? To buy political favors? To get the Feds off its back? Who knows?

Profile shown on Facebook in September 2011

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Our privacy is no longer sacrosanct. It’s in jeopardy of being relinquished to the highest bidder, which in this case…are the deep pockets of the almighty advertisers. They want to know what we want…so they can sell us more of the same. A vicious cycle over which we’ve ultimate control. Or do we?

We seem willing pawns in the battle of the gods. All of this may seem far-fetched, and I may be the one who cried wolf once too often. My voice is lost amidst the din consuming the internet. I’m just Chicken Little running around shouting “The sky is falling! The sky is falling!” And the resounding response? Silence. 

English: A chicken running Français : Un poule...

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Even i have no idea what it is we should do…

Chicken Little (2005 film)
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…tomorrow…i’ll think about it…tomorrow…

………hugmamma.      

the oscars…not quite…but almost

I’m nonplussed at the various awards bestowed upon me by fellow bloggers, whom I consider to be good friends as well. “Nonplus…to render utterly perplexed.”

Ellen The Complete Fourth Season DVD Cover Art

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To be recognized for something I’d rather do 24/7, than tasks I could easily chuck such as housecleaning…culling through stuff to keep or to donate…prepping for meals and cleaning up afterwards…driving hither and yon running errands…is like having Ellen phone me just to chat, see how I’m doing, ask what’s new.

So I’ll just pretend that all of my friends have given me a few moments of Ellen’s time. That’s how honored I am to accept their congratulations for a job well done in writing for “hugmamma’s mind, body, and soul.”

 

The Versatile Blogger Award has been given me by 3 special ladies, Judy Berman of http://earthriderdotcom.wordpress.com, Ma. Novie Godmalin of http://misexperienciaspersonales.wordpress.com, and Doris of http://truthwithdoris.wordpress.com.

The Lovely Blogger Award was given me by Kate Kresse of http://believeanyway.wordpress.com.

The HUG Award was bestowed me by Connie Wayne of http://ahopefortoday.com.

And today Marcia Clarke of http://mecwrites25.wordpress.com advised I was a recipient of the Awesome Blog Content Award.

So that they know of my appreciation before more time passes, I wanted to acknowledge their recognition posthaste. I will be visiting their blogs to properly accept the awards and fulfill the conditions of acceptance. Meanwhile, I recommend you peruse their blogs and enjoy their offerings…

…almost as much as i do…

73rd Academy Awards

Image via Wikipedia

 

…thank you…mahalo…muchas gracias… nice chatting with you, ellen…

………hugmamma.  🙂 

weekly photo challenge: simple

Snapped this photo in the Queen’s garden at the Palace of the Holy Rood in Scotland. When visiting, Queen Elizabeth resides here.

The simple majesty of this lone tree toward the back of the garden, alongside the castle was magical.

.

…grand need not be grandiose…simple can be just as grand…

………hugmamma.  😉

pioneer woman…duh…i don’t think so…

Betsy Ross sewing flag

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Had I been a descendant of Betsy Ross‘s I might’ve come up with a new flag for our country these last several days. While hubby was enjoying the bright lights and warmth of Seattle, I was hunkering down here in the burbs just trying to keep myself, 3 cats and a dog from going stir crazy…and freezing to death!

The weather forecasts predicted impending doom in the form of snow and ice. What they didn’t tell us was that the ice would turn tree limbs into makeshift spears that were sure to impale if you happened to be out and about…walking your dog…fetching your mail (the post office takes its job seriously!)…or just stepping outside for a breath of fresh air.

So that he wouldn’t miss work, God forbid, my husband opted to join other employees who stayed in a hotel at the company’s expense to ensure they’d be at work each morning. It seemed almost certain that meant 3 nights, which it was.

The first 2 nights were fine since the power was still intact in our area. However flickering lamps and TV images that froze intermittently, should have warned me of imminent darkness and cold. 

Just a bottle of Beringer White Zinfandel

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Refusing to acknowledge the inevitable, I happily ate some cheese and ritz crackers while sipping a small wine glass of White Zinfandel. Aaahhh…the single life, I thought. No cooking big meals. No cleaning up afterwards. Just me, my book, my wine, my pets.

Of course I missed having my other half, but I figured he was better off not commuting back and forth in bad weather. Seeing him stuck on the side of the road because of icy conditions would have had me stressing through the night. Nope. We were both better off doing what we had to do.

English: Aerial photograph of Mt. Rainier take...

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My tune hit a sour note when I awoke Thursday morning to freezing temperatures…indoors. OMG! I thought. I can deal with the dark. I can deal with not having hot food. But I sure as heck can’t deal with the cold. Being Hawaiian, I might as well have been standing buck-naked atop Mt. Rainier!

When our power goes, so does Comcast service. No telephone! No internet! And wouldn’t you know it…my cell phone‘s battery was dwindling. After a few calls back and forth to let my husband know I wasn’t happy with my predicament, and to learn how to start a wood-burning fire in the fireplace, I had but one bar left with which I could call for help.

My neighbor came by after I’d asked for assistance in starting the fire, even though I’d called him back to say not to come because a tree in our front yard broke under the pressure of mounting ice. I didn’t want to see him speared like some poor, unsuspecting fish. He came anyway. God bless him. Although he needn’t have because my fire was well underway.

During one phone call to my husband I broke down into tears. I thought I’d put too many fire starter logs into the mix. I was sure the mounting flames would burst through the glass doors. He reassured me that they would diminish, which they did. I felt better. However I was gripped by fear once again when I realized the fire might be dying out, and soon the cold would be back to keep me company. So I stoked the embers, putting on more logs as I retrieved them from the garage.

image of the statue used on a tee-shirt

Image via Wikipedia

I must admit to having felt like a  pioneer woman who could do just about anything. Until I realized I’d run out of wood. “Could I chop wood?” I wondered more than once. My mind’s eye wandered the property trying to picture any fallen branches that I could easily cut to feed my small fire. “Cut with what?” was my next question.

I just got my back to where I could walk upright, and now I wanted to hunch down over a log, in the blistering cold, sawing back and forth…back and forth? You can imagine I had a few choice thoughts for my hubby. And they weren’t all loving ones either. Needless to say I didn’t roll up my sleeves and pretend I was Ma Kettle.

A can of Franco American Spaghetti & MeatBalls

Image via Wikipedia

I watched the last embers of the fire die down. I warmed a can of soup in a crock over a small tea-candle warmer, checking it every half-an-hour. I think it was edible 5 or 6 hours later. I did the same in another crock with a can of Franco-American spaghtetti and meatballs. In the interim I had several more glasses of Zinfandel.

After settling my menagerie of pets down for the long haul, I burrowed deep under the many blankets and quilts I’d laid out on the sofa. I read my book until the last threads of daylight succumbed to the dark night. Lit candles weren’t equal to the task, so I lay listening to the battery-powered radio.

Are You My Neighbor?

Image via Wikipedia

For what seemed like an eternity, I heard voices reaffirming the mess in which our state was mired. A local station was airing “Neighbor to Neighbor,” a program where people called in to tell of their predicament, resourcefulness, or good fortune at having their power restored. In some cases, the deejay offered to find out when electricity would be restored because a caller had a particularly distressed situation. Announcements were also made about locations where listeners could find warm shelter.

I slept fitfully and was grateful when dawn broke. When my husband returned home mid-day Friday, I think I finally exhaled a sigh of relief. But I couldn’t bring myself to get out from under the covers until he got the generator started, and the temperature in our house climbed into the high 60s. 

It’s no small wonder I found myself thinking of those who suffer the cold, living on the streets year ’round. How they manage to live on, hoping for a better tomorrow, is unfathomable to me.

…there but for the grace of god…

………hugmamma.

blogger to the rescue…embedding youtube

There’s a definite camaraderie among WordPress bloggers. It’s no more evident than when someone reaches out to lend a helping hand. Friend and fellow blogger, Kate at http://believeanyway.wordpress.com answered my request for someone knowledgeable in inserting Youtube videos into posts. I’d been able to do it before, but for no apparent reason that I could discern, I was no longer able to do so.

Wensicia

Image via Wikipedia

Coming to my rescue like a princess on a white charger was Kate’s friend Connie at http://ahopefortoday.com She emailed me the following instructions which even I could easily understand. I’ve been wanting to share them with you should you ever find yourself up a creek without a paddle…or canoe…as is usually my situation.

Embedding a Youtube Video
by Connie Wayne

1. Select your Youtube video.
2. Click on “share.”
3. Click on “embed.”
4. Copy html code in pop up box.
5. Return to your post draft.
6. Click on HTML (upper right corner above body of draft).
7. Place cursor where you want to insert the video. Paste. html code should “drop” into place.
8. Click back to Visual.
9. Save draft.
10. Voila! You’ve done it. You’ll either see the html code, or an empty colored box.
11. Preview post. You should see the Youtube video.
 

You might want to check out Connie’s daily, inspirational offering of the day. When you visit her blog, tell her…

…whatever you like…she’s all ears…and all heart…

………hugmamma.  😉

beneath…the lemon tree

English: lemon tree Italiano: limone

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I promise this will be my final post regarding lemons and WordPress.org. At least I hope so. Depends upon the “powers that be” and their lemon tree.

Received welcome news from Yoav of WordPress support. Seems I’m not losing my mind. I didn’t switch from WordPress.com to WordPress.org. Funny, or not so funny, is how one can be convinced of something one is pretty certain is incorrect.

In my mind’s wanderings…there’s a lot of that…I likened internet sites, including WordPress, to our democracy. We’re free people with rights. But in exercising our freedom, we must wend our way through a jungle of obstacles…some visible…some invisible. It’s the ones we don’t see that can keep us from moving forward.

How to proceed?

Sitting Bull (c. 1831-1890). Sitting Bull was ...

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We can either shrug our shoulders, make a u-turn, and go back the way we came. Or we can very stealthily look to gain entrance through a back door…ssshhh!…someone might see us. Or like the proverbial bull in the china shop, we can see red and become bellicose!

On the other hand, there’s always diplomacy.

Talk, talk, talk…until someone deigns to listen. I think only one in a hundred take this route. With my gift for gab…I can’t help but be one of them. Having a thousand thoughts bombarding my mind like yellow jackets that sting unless I cooperate, when one argument fails I try another…and another…and another. My husband is understandably worn down after 41 years of being wedded to a woman with bees in her belfry. Poor, poor man.

Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets

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Of the 4 or 5 queries I made to WordPress support, one finally got an answer. Admittedly, I would’ve been content with any reply just to know someone took notice; that I wasn’t doomed to remain in limbo forever.

It’s that feeling of talking and not hearing one’s own voice reverberate back. One begins to wonder if one’s vocal chords suddenly went mute. Like when I accidentally hit “mute” on the TV remote. Whaaa happened???

So I’m eternally grateful that Yoav plucked me out of my dilemma and set me back down on two feet…kerplunk!…in the wonderful, democracy that is WordPress.com.

Hi,

> John Burke of Word Ads informed me by email today that I wasn’t accepted for
> application because your records were not updated to show I had transitioned
to
> WordPress.org. I am truly surprised, for I never altered my WordPress status.
At
> 62, and a housewife with minimal technical skills, I have no aptitude for
> managing my own blog. I would really appreciate having my status with
> WordPress.com reconfirmed. The only change I agreed to was buying my domain
name
> “hugmamma” through WordPress in June of last year.
>
> Thank you and look forward to clarification of the matter.

This might be an error – sorry about that.
Please feel free to apply to Word Ads again.

Best,

Yoav

WordPress.com Support

In the future I’ll be laying low, keeping my head at ground level so as to stay out of the range of the overly abundant lemon tree. The two times WordPress has taken notice of me were not favorably memorable…spamming my comments and then obliterating my blog from the community a year ago, and now, banishing me to WordPress.org. I think it best “hugmamma’s mind, body, and soul” remain in the hinterlands…far from a system gone amok!

Wait a minute. Are we talking about WordPress…or…the mess our country is in?

English: flowers of the lemon tree in our garden

Image via Wikipedia

lemon tree very pretty…and the lemon flower is sweet…but the fruit of the poor lemon…is impossible to eat…

………hugmamma.  😉

 

raining…lemon drops…

Photogram created by slices of lemon on colour...

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Ever hear the expression…”When it rains, it pours?” You’d literally expect that here in the environs of Seattle. However with my recent good fortune of having lemons dumped in my lap…I’ve now got lemons falling from heaven.

How’s that you say? Raining lemons? Well for this Hawaiian hugmamma it might as well be. Snow has been falling steadily since 4 a.m. this morning. By tonight I might be up to my eyeballs in the white stuff. That’s if I venture out to romp around in it. Which you know I won’t. Maybe when I was a spring chicken. I’m afraid I’m an old goat now. My romping days are definitely over…sigh.

Mocha, on the other hand, would love to take me sledding. I can see us. She bounding along on one end of her leash…me bumping along on my butt on the other end. No. I don’t think so. Especially since my back is finally returning to that of a walking, talking 62-year-old, and not that of a bent over, wizened old crone. You think I jest?

Dr. Öz at ServiceNation 2008

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But what got me out from under my cozy covers to scribe this post was the effects of my latest vitamin supplement, SAMe. According to both Drs. Oz and Amen, its suppose to brighten my mood. I’m here to say it does seem to have that effect. No matter the situation, I’ve been able to  weather the dark mood that tries to settle in on my brain, by flooding it with positive thoughts.

So what can I make of the snowfall? Projects! Numero uno on my “to do” list is reorganizing my half of the garage, the side where I can’t park my car because it’s full of my opala…Hawaiian for…junk. The other half is where my husband parks his car. So, yes. As I type, my poor little Betsy is freezing her buns off…as she shivers in the cold…parked in the driveway. But she’s from Seattle, so she’ll manage.

Deutsch: König Midas, Öl auf Leinwand, 71 x 54 cm

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For crafty folk…no, not the deceitful ones…who love to putter away making things to keep or sell, what better time to get to it. I use to be one such. I’ve the supplies filling plastic bins in the garage to prove it. Those days of laboring for pittance are long gone. Now I prefer to write…for nothing. Actually both were, and are, done for the love of the thing. I never thought, still don’t, I’d become King Midas. I may lay an egg…but for sure it won’t be golden.

Meanwhile…

Lemon drops keep falling on my head…but that doesn’t mean my eyes will soon be turning red…cryin’s not for me

………hugmamma.  🙂