magazine subscriptions

Anyone who has ever subscribed to a magazine knows how goofy subscription rates can be. There’s that low introductory rate, and then the regular rate. But depending upon how you renew, rates can vary greatly.

Cooking Light magazine coverTerry and I have been subscribing to Cooking Light for a very long time. The last few years we have been on credit card auto-renewal. The renewal rates have always been reasonable. Until this year. I got my auto-renewal notice recently and it said that I would be charged $39.95 for a year. What? I don’t think so. I thought that if I called and cancelled I would be offered a lower rate. But I never reached a human being. The automated voice recognition system just let me cancel.

Then, a couple of days later I got an email saying I only had one issue left and asking me to renew. I clicked the link and it offered one, two, and three year rates. The two year rate was $34.00 – five dollars less than the one year rate in my auto-renewal. That works. We both really enjoy Cooking Light and didn’t really want to lose it.

In the meantime, after my cancellation and before the email notice, I subscribed to Food & Wine at a very good rate. We had subscribed before, but let it lapse when we were cutting back at one point. As an American Express publication, the line between the editorial and advertising sides is rather blurry, but I don’t read it for the articles, I read it for the recipes. And they do tend to have really good recipes in Food and Wine. I’m looking forward to getting it again.

managing the transition

I wrote recently about my rector’s upcoming departure. When a rector leaves an Episcopal church there is a strict, formal process. It’s is business as usual for the parish as a whole until after the rector’s final Sunday, though less so for the vestry, the church’s governing board. No activity around finding a new rector takes place until after the old rector leaves, and the outgoing rector has no more contact with the parish.

Good Shepherd Hemet logoWhen the old rector leaves an interim rector is called. He or she may show up immediately after the outgoing rector’s last Sunday or the interim might arrive a few weeks later with another available priest filling in in the meantime. The first task after the rector’s departure is to create a parish profile. That profile describes the parish and its personality in detail. It gives the search committee and candidates a template to measure whether a given candidate might be a good match for the parish. Only after the parish profile is complete does the search committee begin its work of finding a new rector.

And why am I telling you this? I’m telling you this because the Senior Warden (board president) asked me to serve on the profile committee. I was surprised, flattered, and honored. It will be a challenge, but I look forward to serving.

A Walker in the City

A Walker in the City coverA Walker in the City
Alfred Kazin
Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, 192 pages
Kindle edition $9.99, Amazon paperback $12.92

I read literary critic Alfred Kazin’s two autobiographical works, A Walker in the City and New York Jew during my bookselling days in the 1970’s. I enjoyed the books at the time and decided that I wanted to return to them.

The present volume covers Kazin’s childhood and high school years. He describes his Jewish immigrant neighborhood of Browsville and how taking the subway into the heart of New York City felt like traveling to another world. He discusses life in the depression years with so many people out of work and how many immigrants became Communists or members of other radical parties. On the other hand, many immigrant shopkeepers in the Italian neighborhood displayed a picture of Mussolini in their front window.

Kazin is a master of painting word pictures and he brings New York City of the 1930’s to life. Whether it is his own home life, his school, neighboring immigrant communities, or protestors in the street, Kazin offers us brilliant descriptions. I look forward to re-reading New York Jew, which covers his adult years.

Sacred Music Friday: Durufle – Communion

Maurice Durufle, Requiem: VII – Communion. The Yale Glee Club,  Jeffrey Douma, Music Director
and the Elm City Girls Choir, Rebecca Rosenbaum, Music Director.


I first signed up with Goodreads in October 2013. Terry and I were headed to Cambria on vacation, and it was when the government shutdown was happening. Facebook was becoming too toxic, and I wanted a more pleasant online diversion. (Although I do have to admit to contributing to a “Things I like more than Congress” thread on Facebook. My contribution: Having a colonoscopy or root canal.) I stayed current on Goodreads for a while, but gradually drifted away from it.

In this election season Facebook has again become rather toxic. I have cut back considerably on my Facebook time. It makes me ill to see images of or articles about the angry hamster with the red mop. (In a similar manner, the mute button on the television is getting a lot of use during news programs these days, as is the mute button on the remote for my Internet radio when I’m listening to NPR newscasts.)

I have gone back to Goodreads. It has been owned by Amazon for some time now, but they don’t seem to be putting much investment into it, other than the various ways you can link back to Amazon. The user interface is pretty bad. The discussions are a pain to navigate. The iPad app is somewhat wonky.

Nonetheless, it is a pleasant diversion. It is fun to see what other people are reading and what they like and don’t like.

In spite of its shortcomings Goodreads is a pleasant space.


reusable grocery bags

I use reusable grocery bags out of a concern for the environment and to reduce waste. But I recently discovered another reason to use them: they are more practical and easier to handle.

GroceryBagsI was in the grocery store the other day, and I was apparently preoccupied as I had picked up a number of items before I realized that I had forgotten my bag. Terry wasn’t with me and I didn’t want to abandon my cart to go out to my car to get a reusable bag. So the bagger used the normal plastic bags. What would have easily fit into one reusable bag took three plastic bags. When I got home I put the groceries into a reusable bag before bringing them into the house.

That ought to remind me to grab a reusable bag before going into the supermarket.

now here’s an idea

EagleDroneI cannot believe the stupidity of people who fly drones over forest fires and prevent the firefighters from doing their jobs. When asked about drones in a recent Toastmasters Table Topics session I had some less than generous things to say about people who do such things. The Table Topics Master was referring to a news item about how in the Netherlands they are training eagles to take out drones flying over unauthorized areas.

Follow that link. It really is true.

My thought? Let’s add this capability to the CalFire budget!

In Twenty Years

In Twenty Years book coverIn Twenty Years: A Novel
Allison Winn Scotch
Lake Union Publishing (July 1, 2016), 334 pages
Kindle edition $4.42, Amazon paperback $4.65

I am a sucker for college novels, and so by extension of college reunion novels as well. Upon reading about this book in the spring, I therefore marked my calendar to download the Kindle sample on its July 1 publication date. I bought the Kindle edition shortly thereafter. I was not disappointed.

Six students, Bea, Annie, Lindy, Catherine, Owen, and Colin, shared a house in college. Bea bought the house after graduation, but died ten years later. However, she made arrangements through her attorney to ensure that the remaining five were reunited over the Independence Day holiday in the old house in yet another ten years—twenty years after graduation.

They are a diverse group. Annie is a stay-at-home mom with a nanny. Her husband is a high-powered professional. Lindy is a famous pop star with a female lover at home, but who is, in fact, bisexual and discovers herself pregnant.Catherine and Owen are married. Catherine is a Martha Stewart-like media mogul whose empire is declining and Owen has given up his law practice to be a stay-at-home dad. Colin is single and a plastic surgeon.

As you would expect, they do not leave their personal and professional problems behind for this reunion, and old hurts and slights return to the surface. Bea’s presence is pervasive. There are no loose ends wrapped up in this novel, and everyone leaves with the same problems they had when they arrived. In fact, for all except Colin they leave with their issues and challenges exacerbated.

Nonetheless, In Twenty Years is a highly readable portrayal of five people—six, really—and their personalities, their struggles, and their motivations.

Sacred Music Friday: This Is My Song (Finlandia)

This Is My Song (Finlandia), Jean Sibelius, The St. Paul’s Concert Chorale, St. Paul’s School for Boys, Brooklandville, MD.

sticking with what works

I had long thought of El Pollo Loco strictly in terms of chicken pieces with tortillas and salsa. El Pollo LocoBut recently I had noticed television ads that mentioned their chipotle avocado burrito. That sounded interesting to me. The other day after Toastmasters I wanted to grab something quick so I went through the drive through and got one.

I was disappointed. There was definitely avocado, but no chipotle flavor of any Chipoltekind that I could detect. It would have been just as easy to have driven another block to the Chipotle Mexican Grill and have gotten a burrito I would have known that I really would have liked. Since it was well after the lunch hour there wouldn’t have been a line, and it would have been only two dollars more than El Pollo Loco. And that’s only because I have to have my guacamole in my burrito. Without, it would have been about the same price.

Sometimes it’s best simply to stick with what works.