The UNSHARE button: Can we all just step away from the propaganda?

A heed read

Progressive Culture | Scholars & Rogues

Our social media activities would benefit from a dose of critical thinking.

A lie can run round the world before the truth has got its boots on. – Terry Pratchett

I had an exchange with my sister earlier about something she had shared on Facebook. If you haven’t seen it, it’s the one alleging that 11 US states now have “More People on Welfare than they do Employed.” Hint number one: cluelessness regarding the mysteries of punctuation. And no, I won’t link to it.

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Like a Scene from a Bad Movie

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Photo by Dane Gussin

It’s that time of year when I get my house ready for winter. This year I called a local handyman to help since I have a wonky shoulder and want it to get better. I thought that lifting and climbing ladders and such would not be good for me right now. So, I called them out to move my room air conditioner to the garage, cover two larger in the wall air conditioners, flip the mattress, and move some things.

They came on time and one did the outside work while the other came in to move my room air conditioner. He opened the window while grabbing the air conditioner and it slipped from his hands. The cord was stretched taut over the window sill. I thought maybe it didn’t hit the ground. Then, he pulled the plug and looked out the window. The look on his face was not good.

He said, “I think I’ll need a screw driver.”

He left the room. I was afraid to look. I thought I’ll at least plug it in in the garage to see if it works. I went out in the back yard to look. It was in pieces. This wasn’t going to be solved with a screw driver. I went back inside and called the business owner and left a message.

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Who drops an appliance out of a window except in some sit com? I think I was in shock. Things like this do not happen in real life. And then I just had to laugh. It was so ridiculous. I got myself together and went back outside where they both apologized. I really wasn’t all that upset. It wasn’t a family heirloom. And it was funny.

I went outside again and the handyman said they would get me a new air conditioner in spring when they were in stock again. They left and I started laughing again. The business owner called and said they would get me another air conditioner. She thanked me for being good about it. How could I tell her that it was the funniest thing I had seen in along time.

Olga’s Kitchen for Lunch

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I have been wanting a gyro sandwich for several weeks. I think the desire started when I took a continuing education class for work. I had worked in that office in the summer and one of my memories was of the gyro sandwiches I had ordered from the Athenian Coney Island across the street.

I was walking through a local mall when I spotted Olga’s Kitchen. I remembered that they serve a gyro they call Olga’s Original and decided to give into my craving. As I thought, it was on the menu. So, I ordered and my mouth watered with anticipation. It was described with having the beef and lamb meat, vine ripened tomatoes, onions and Olga sauce. When it came it was all tightly contained within the pita bread. I couldn’t see the sauce. I took the toothpick out, opened the pita and looked. It may have have had tablespoon of sauce under the rest of the ingredients. I had to lift up the meat and tomato to find it. I had not been to an Olga in over a decade and this was not as I remembered. It certainly fell short of the gyro I had pictured in my mind. The sandwich was light on ingredients and dry. Maybe the sad sandwich was why I hadn’t been there for so long. The server was adequate but did not come back to offer a coffee refill which might have done a little to salvage the experience.

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I had pictured something like the picture above. It had the moistening, tasty tsatziki sauce practically oozing out of the pita. The sandwich was full of tomatoes and onions. The pita is so full that eating it requires a fork to get all the goodness. I will be near the Athenian Coney Island tomorrow and will make time to get a real gyro.

Stardust at the Milton Show

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Last Monday night, I went to Harbor House to see the Milton Show. It was an unusual night so once I spent most of the night socializing with a group in a booth. This was not my normal pattern. So, for this evening, the music was background music. Well, not really. We did listen to the music but is just was not until they played “Stardust” that I listened intensely.

I probably was drawn to listening since this one was not on the usual playlist. I didn’t take pictures that evening. The first picture below is the normal group off Greg Cook, Milton Hale and Phillip Hale taken on a different evening.

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James O’Donnell played the memorable solos on “Stardust” and his picture taken at Bert’s Jazz Room in below.

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Everyone did a great job on the number and made it truly memorable.

Sample Saturday

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Saturday is not my favorite day for grocery shopping since it is more crowded that usual. I ended up shopping since I had a coupon for free bread that was expiring on Saturday. I also used the five dollars off meat coupon. The good part of Sturday shopping is that there are people, usually women, who are giving samples of food hoping the shoppers will buy.

As I was walking by the deli counter trying not to look, one of the sampler women was pushing hummus and pita chips. She was telling the shoppers that this is a low calorie snack and we could eat as much as we want because it it low calorie. The picture above is one serving of the hummus and pita chips. It is about two tablespoons of the hummus (1oz.) at 40 calories and three pita chips (1oz.) At 78 calories. Or 118 calories for one serving of both. I stopped to talk. I told her that eating a lot of the product adds calories. She continued to tell me how low calorie it was. There was no example of a serving on the table although she did mention correctly that it was two tablespoons.

I was planning on buying the hummus and pita chips so I picked up what I wanted and started to leave.
She tried again. ” Take the large size, its low calorie.”
I asked her if I ate the whole package would I still not gain weight. This caused her to pause.
She relied on her sound bite. “It’s low calorie.”
I gave up. I was stunned that two people could have such a different thought process. I’m sure she had been told what to say about the product and possibly didn’t think about it. I can tell you that when I was in sales I checked the hype and had a different message than the canned one.

Dirty Dog Jazz with the Dwight Adams Quartet

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As you may notice, this post is quite a while after the event which took place October 17, 2013. I got some feedback that was a little upsetting and it stopped me cold. It took a bit of time to process. I also didn’t go out much. The other part of the hiatus was the feeling that I was in a rut. And I was hearing the same numbers that I liked at the same places. I am in the place rut but I have heard quite a few different numbers when I have gone out recently.

When I heard the Dwight Adams was playing at the Dirty dog, I really wanted to go. At the Dirty Dog, the people really listen so that part of being there is great and they listen very quietly and still. I am one of those who move my body to the music when I feel it. Dwight is a favorite because I feel his music easily. The best place for me in this kind of environment is in a corner so I can move to the music. So when I got there I took the available corner.

Dwight was playing with musicians I had never heard him play with before. Mark Lipson was on drums. Tony Viola was playing guitar and Gary Shunk was playing the piano. Also, Bruce Caterer(sp) was on bass. Also Angie Smith did “Take a Chance on Love” and “My Funny Valentine”. They played a number called “Hibernian Nights” composed by Mark Lipson and Tony Viola added vocals to a samba.
Left to Right: Tony Viola, Dwight Adams, Bruce Caterer, and just a peek at Gary Shunk

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The music I heard during the set was different than most of the things I heard Dwight play. It may have been that he was taking the audience into consideration. So I got to hear a new side of Dwight Adams with musicians that I had not herd him play with before that evening. As usual with Dwight, his playing is great. The clarity of his notes and how he hits notes without slur or hesitation is a listeners delight. He decorates his notes with ornaments which adds such depth and feeling to his music that I can hear him through the music and I love it. All the musicians got to play solos that exhibited their strengths. All in all the set was satisfying but not in the way I had anticipated.

Dinner at the Dirty Dog

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Last night intent to the Dirty Dog Jazz Cafe in Grossed Pointe for dinner and music again. I had planned on trying the 3 for 30 which is three courses for thirty dollars. This particular venue has quite an upscale menu and prices to match. When I saw the menu, I changed my mind. I ordered the spinach salad and fried chicken. They are both foods I like and do not do at home.

The spinach salad was described as spinach, mushrooms, red onions, egg, white balsamic with stone mustard crème. The spinach was baby spinach and all the other ingredients were there plus some roasted red pepper slices. It was good although the various ingredients were not well integrated into the salad. Of course, I did manage to do that for myself at the table. They also served me two fresh hot rolls at the same time. The rolls were served with butter that had seasoning on the top of the piece and was served with a little olive oil on the plate. The butter was soft and melted easily into the the warm fragrant rolls. The butter seasoning added just extra flavor. Unfortunately, I took the picture after I had elated half the salad.

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The fried chicken was not what I had expected at all. It was described as fried chicken, sage dressing and garlic spinach. It was served with the garlic spinach in the center of the plate with the sage dressing arranged around it. The fried chicken was on top. Where do I start? The garlic spinach when I found it was overlooked for my taste. I prefer it just wilted. The flavor was good though. The sage dressing, on the other hand, was wonderful. The actual bread pieces were much larger than usual and soaked with a deep savory gravy. Each piece was a satisfying nugget of wonderful. The fried chicken was actually a paillard of white meat breaded in panko. The chicken was dry. I saved it by eating a piece of dressing and a bite of chicken and sopping it up in any gravy I could find. I won’t order the fried chicken again but if they ever offer a side of dressing, I would take it in a minute.

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The Bomb

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Sather Gate, UC Berkeley, 1969

The evening started as a typical weeknight evening in winter. The rainy season was just ending so most evenings were cool and damp. For those of us in Berkeley, Ca, winter was the rainy season. David, my boyfriend was out for the evening at a political meeting and Chara, my six year old daughter, was sleeping. I was planning on an evening of reading and studying.

The house was a small, older brown shingle house quite common to the Bay Area and part of the area’s charm. It was close to the center of downtown near Provo Park known officially as Civic Center Park, the library and my daughter’s school. It was also right across the street from the Berkeley Police Department. We felt as if our house would probably not be burgled so we took the extra traffic in stride. In reality, it made no difference in our daily lives. The front porch was shaded and covered with vines so thick that we could not see the street or the police station from our front windows even in winter.

The interior of our house was just perfect in my eyes. The main room of the house had a bay window at one end of room that caught the morning light. There was a fireplace at the other end of the room to warm the evenings. Around the room, there was shoulder high red oak wainscoting with a plate rail. There were built in bookshelves on both sides of the fireplace mantel. We had a worn burgundy print Persian carpet on the floor. The couch was covered with an orange Indian striped bedspread that was common to the era. There was a worn comfortable black leather chair with an end table next to it and was perfect for reading. It was the the usual beat up eclectic style favored by students in 1970.

On that evening in February, I was sitting in my living room in a nightgown and robbe is tending to Earth, Wind and Fire and finally catching up on the reading I needed to do for class. It was the day before Valentines Day and I wanted a clear evening for a celebration. The crackling fire in the the fireplace was taking the dampness out of the air. My dog, Stoney, was lying by the fire contentedly. Our two cats were roaming around the house and occasionally draping themselves on the mantel to catch the warmth of the fire.

I had my usual cup of coffee by my side and thought this was a perfect night without interruptions so I could get all my work done. As I was getting up to refill my coffee cup, there was an explosion so deafening that all the windows in the house rattled. Stoney jumped up and barked frantically. The cats fled towards the back of the house. I dropped the coffee cup in my hand spilling the last drops of coffee on the rug.

I stood in the middle of the home I considered a refuge from the world not knowing what to do. My mind was frozen. My blood seemed to stand still in my veins. Everything stopped for a moment.

Next, I ran. I’m not sure what possessed me but I ran to the front door. I threw the door open and raced to the street. All the street lights were still on. The Berkeley Police Department had all its light blazing and looking just as it usually did. I looked up and down the street and saw nothing that could explain the deafening noise I heard. There was no smoke or fire. I did see about ten of my neighbors in various stages of dress out on the street. All the dogs in the neighborhood seemed to be barking or howling.

“What happened?” Asked Nancy, my next door neighbor.
I came back with “I don’t know.”

None of us in the middle of the block had any idea do what had happened. Then we all turned towards the police department when we heard screaming and shouting. We saw over a dozen Berkeley police officers racing out of the police department building. All the police officers had their guns drawn and were running every which way waving their guns wildly. Some ran towards the parking lot. Some stayed in front of the station. One ran towards the bushes. And one ran back inside. They all looked just as scared as I
and all my neighbors were.

Then, there was another thunderous roar. This time it was so much louder since we were outside. All of us, the neighborhood, who were still on the street, turned and ran for our homes as If we were one body and slammed our doors. I still had no idea what had exploded. I could hear the sounds of activity and chaos outside. There was yelling and there were sirens. And I was still in the dark.

Being in the dark has never been easy for me. I remembered seeing two of my next door neighbors outside. So, I went out the back door after checking on my sleeping daughter and walked through an opening in the hedge to get to my next door neighbors house. I knocked on the door and heard a muffled squeal.

“Whose there?” Barb asked.
“Marsha”” I said.

Barb looked from side to side to see if anyone was with me and opened the door. We found after a short conversation that neither of us had any clue as to what had happened. I asked her if she wanted to come over. I couldn’t stay at her house because of my sleeping daughter. Barb decided to stay on her home. So I crept back through the hedge to my home.

At that point, any pretense of studying or reading was out of the question. My mind was racing a mile n minute with nowhere to go. And I still didn’t know what had happened. At this point, I thought I knew some bombs had exploded. I didn’t know if anyone had been hurt or who had done it.

I went back to check on my daughter. I checked the clock and it was only 9:00 p.m.. I began to busy myself around the house. I picked up the coffee cup off the rug and wiped up the spill. I got another cup of coffee and it tasted terrible. I felt as if I had been up for two days. My curiosity was out of control and I went to the front porch to see if I could catch sight of anything through the vines. After all, curiosity only kills cats. The vines on the porch made it impossible to see anything. Stoney came out fto survey her domain and after a brief inspection returned to the warmth of the fire. I followed her back inside to wait for David to come home. He had planned to come home early so now I began to wonder where he was. I called a couple of friends and found out he was not there. The friends were far enough away so that they had not heard the explosion. I told them that I thought a couple of bombs had exploded. We speculated on who might bomb anything and we thought maybe it was a splinter group of SDS(Students for a Democratic Society) called the Weathermen. But, we didn’t know.

Another coffee didn’t appeal to me so I opted for a beer. I hoped the beer would calm me. I tried reading and couldn’t. My next stop was the TV for the 10:00 p.m. news hoping the news had the story. At they moment, someone knocked at the door. I looked through the window and saw two very large cops. When I opened the door, one of the cops wanted to know if I had seen or heard anything before the explosion. The other one asked if I had seen a stranger in the area who looked out of place in Berkeley. I really hadn’t. I mentally wondered what would look it of place in Berkeley – maybe a pin stripe suit. They did tell me that the explosions had blown up two police cars in the police car parking lot and there were no injuries. They told me they would be searching my yard.

It scared me to think the “bomber” could be in my back yard or my crawl space without me knowing about it. They noticed my reaction and told me to lock the doors. My reaction must have been visible. They told me not to worry because the neighborhood was sealed and no one was getting in or out. With that piece of information, I knew why David wasn’t home. After the cops left, I looked out the bay window and could see the beams of two flashlights moving around the yard. I felt like a prisoner in my own home.

Another sound on the steps and I was on my feet checking to make sure the door was locked. This time it was David. He had been stopped at the end of the block. Both he and the car were searched. The cops had not found anything but made the comment that they were sure they could find something if they really looked. I told David all about my evening before we went to bed.

For the next week, everyone on the block was searched when ever we left or came home. They never found the bomber and no one claimed credit. It was attributed to the SDS splinter group called the Weathermen. All I can remember is how scared I was at the time.

The Dirty Dog Jazz Cafe – The Music

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The Dirty Dog is a great place to go for music. It has really excellent food. The sound is good. They ask patrons to keep the conversation down during performance. The music is almost always a real gig. You know who and what you are getting when you walk into the place.

A friend and I saw the Rayse Biggs Quartet last Thursday. Thursday is a “no cover” day for the most part. They do want you to order food. There are sides and appetizers available for the frugal.

20131012-161807.jpgLeft to Right: Gayelynn McKinney, Ib Jones, Rayse Biggs, and on the screen you can see the hands of Buddy Budson.

The first number they played was “Oriental Folk Song” which is a Wayne Shorter composition. I really like the melody on this one and was pleased to hear it. I don’t hear it often. sometimes I tend to go see the same folks play and altering my choices can renew my joy in the music. this set was one of those that pushed me back into music. Also, Thursday is a quiet night and it is so nice to sit and listen and not have a loud table right next to me. It was about the music. They also did “First Light” by Freddie Hubbard and the flugelhorn was wonderful. And “Break City” by Horace Silver was another number. For me, this was an especially good set since I do not hear these numbers often.

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