Monday, February 29, 2016

Information Manipulation

In a room where writers write somewhere in a little suburb near Rome a generally unknown educated man, let's call him Mark, sat and put to paper a story.  He wrote a biography of a guy who had died around 60 years before.  He never knew him; never saw him.  But the stories were corroborated by many and handed down more by word-of-mouth than anything else.   The book was a great success and then others followed about the same fellow.  Three more actually.  From different authors and areas.  These four books would end up being kind of a rallying cry for action and were, in essence, campaign biographies for a guy named Yeshua.  This guy, before his untimely death, had been running around talking about social justice, took a page out of Bernie's rigged economy, and told his listeners the real bad guys were banks and lenders.  These campaign manuals were distributed to religious leaders and, in turn, told to followers much like a Sunday sermon.   They were written to enhance an idea in the first 100 years after the death of a guy called Yeshua.

Yeshua, called Jesus when the book was translated from Hebrew to Greek ended up, having quite a story to tell.  While John Paul told the facts, just the facts, one of the other biographers, let's call him Matthew,  wrote his version about 30 years later, began to embellish some things.  While Mark had mentioned a "young man" at Yeshua's gravesite,  Matthew describes him a "radiant angel".  Well, clearly we have jumped the shark, have we not?  That Yeshua lived is not in question.  What he actually said and did, is conjecture.  Stories back in those days were written but since there was no mass publishing system tucked away for safekeeping read only by the religious leaders.  They would tell stories - the movies of their day.  Information Manipulation.

The word "manipulation" has a bad reputation.  Back in my MDH days we even had a set of problem areas that get you in trouble and one of them was "manipulation".   It wasn't an easy sell to the kids. How can you get in trouble by skewing the story to your favor?  Isn't that we all do?  Well, yes.  We all do.  

Going back to the old Biblical days, one of my favorite classes was the one where we dug into the miracles of the Bible and attempted to decipher the truth, or lack thereof, according to the language.  We tackled a lot of them and discovered that the writers manipulated events to make for a better story.  Yeshua's walking on water story was born of particular optics at that time of day, that the parting of the Red Sea was every bit about a kind of water reed that was prevalent at that time.  If you like the miracles, then by all means cling to them.  For others, a reasonable explanation doesn't diminish faith, but simply makes it work in a world where understanding how things work helps.  It's kind of however you like your steak, well done or raw - it's still steak, isn't it?

The point of all this is, we all have stories and we all try to manipulate the information to sell or ourselves, sell others, sell an idea, sell a candidate, sell a news story, sell a movie, sell a baseball team, you name it.     

Another week, another mass shooting.  America the beautiful.  TV news, that arm of the press that is so concerned about your ability to comprehend will filter out the violence and blood for your viewing pleasure. NBC's Lester Holt came on early in the crisis with full concern and about three ongoing questions just recycled for the next 6 hours.  This isn't about gun sales or the 2nd Amendment.  This is more about the News.  Choppers giving you full coverage. but not so full that you risk seeing something gruesome.  We don't televise Middle East beheadings and, in fact, many organizations no longer televise the planes flying into the Twin Towers anymore.  It is sanitized, filtered, hashed and re-hashed before it reaches our eyes.  Then it is put through a committee sieve then televised into our living rooms for mass consumption. 

Question by newsman to guy who survived San Bernardino attack: "How frightened were you when the shooting started?"

Gee, the guy's answer was: "Very."

That is the state of our news: vapid.  Do I want to see beheadings? Hell no.  Do I want unfiltered news? Yeah. Thus the conundrum.  The guys who send their correspondents out to see what is happening get the right to send it back to us in any fashion they choose. It's their money, it's their right. It is, in essence, information manipulation.  

Information manipulation is nothing new in media.  The brothers known as the Grimm's revised their children's tales from the 1st edition to the 2nd by removing some really gruesome stuff.  Yes, the parents went ballistic over that first edition. 

Walter Cronkite, a Democrat, ended a newscast on February 27, 1968 with these words: 

"To say that we are closer to victory today (referring to the Vietnamese War) is to believe, in the face of the evidence, the optimists who have been wrong in the past.  To suggest we are on the edge of defeat is to yield to unreasonable pessimism.  To say that we are mired in stalemate seems the only realistic, yet unsatisfactory, conclusion.  But it is increasingly clear to this reporter that the only rational way out then will be to negotiate, not as victors, but as an honorable people who lived up to their pledge to defend democracy, and did the best they could."

And while LBJ was watching the Cronkite newscast live, he then said to his aides, "If I've lost Cronkite, I've lost Middle America." 

LBJ, no stranger to using information manipulation to his advantage, just got bitch-slapped by it.  This moment was the beginning of the end of the war, a war we would lose, and to the reputation of LBJ who had done so much legislatively such as  Medicare/Medicaid, Civil Rights, and Great Society enactments, historically deemed significantly to the good.

So what brought all this on?  When Chris Christie, failed presidential candidate,  sauntered up on the podium behind Donald Trump, successful presidential candidate so far, and endorsed him, we learned a good lesson about information manipulation.  Christie had been harping about how lousy Trump would be for the past 8 months, then does a switcheroo.  Maybe not so bad after all, especially if you are wrangling for a Vice- Presidential appointment.  

We all know about media bias; even old Walter Cronkite couldn't remain totally objective.  Each news source slants their news in just a way that suits their ideological boardroom.   

To further muddy the waters, its not just the news.  We all come with our own own press secretary, or surrogates as they are called now, to promote the "me" that needs to be promoted.  Movies with product placement, every single commercial ever made, every news organization, every conversation, every blog post, billboards - they all contain information that has been filtered, sifted, sugared, edited in such a way as to win support, favor, or maybe even to buy some time.  You can't stop them - they invade your home through the TV, junk mail,  and radio.  

  • If that TV political commercial doesn't end with the candidate saying "I approved this message..." then it was sent to you by some other organization.  Check for the fine print at the end of it and you may be surprised.  If you haven't heard of them get on the web and look them up.
  • Be aware that if you buy things online, that product may flag an  organization to buy your name off lists and begin sending you advertisements online or in the mail.  For instance there are many collectors who purchase coins through the mail.  I purchase silver dollars for Kenzie every Christmas.  I have had my name sold to fringe Montana groups who collect gold as a kind of hedge against the apocalypse.  
  • On average children watch 15 food commercials daily.  Of these 98% tend to be low in nutrition.  What do you think these kids are going to want when they go with Mom to the grocery store? (1)
  • Studies have shown that products with labels sell better than products without labels.  A taste test gave Coke the edge when they placed the product in a cup with Coke on it than a cup without. (2)  A similar study found that kids liked food placed in McDonald's packaging than when placed in unmarked containers. (3)
  • Media influences body image and forces us to buy products that will help make us look like whatever they think we should.
  • Media influences music - remember Tipper Gore's campaign to label questionable album lyrics?     

Bias is everywhere.  Even the blog you are reading right now.  Existing In BFE editor in chief has the sole power of its posts.  I've done plenty of embarrassing things that you won't read about here, regardless of how objective I try to be.  Politically I have leaned left most of my life, but have found myself to be more conservatively inclined in recent times.  This primary season notwithstanding, I tend to think that the swinging pendulum theory that ushers in the other party once in a while is a check-and-balance that keeps this American machine running.  But I also tend to see politics as a sporting event rather than an all-encompassing passion.  I am an issue agnostic:  things happen and legislation passes "when it is its time"  regardless of party.  Anyway, I've got my popcorn and a seat close to the TV in order to follow every soap opera moment.

I apologize about this 2 coffee cup post.  It's Monday and you surely have others things to do and worry about.  This started as a simple recognition of the media influences that bombard us daily and seemed to have grown into a personal tirade of watchdog advocacy.  Or maybe it is just because when I was in Northlandia in December the political commercials were endless.  Now, in Floriduh, those same commercials have invaded me here, so I haven't been able to get away from it.    

I think we need to be aware of who is behind the info we get.  As consumers of news, as purveyors of information we hear about, I think it would all behoove us to peel back the curtain to see who the wizards are that control the knobs.  Most of the time it is fine.  Information can be distributed without bias, fault or favor.  But the old adage "information is power" is true.  Just ask Matthew, the guy      who made the critical change from "young man" to "angel", he started a religion.     

1. Teen Health and the Media. Retrieved on 18 September 2014.

2.  McClure, S. M., Li, J., Tomlin, D., Cypert, K. S., Montague, L. M., & Montague, P. R. (2004). Neural correlates of behavioral preference for culturally familiar drinks, Neuron, 44, 379–387

3.  Robinson, T. N., Borzekowsi, D. L., Matheson, D. M., & Kraemer, H. C. (2007). Effects of fast food branding on young children’s taste preferences. Archives of Pediatric and Adolescent Medicine, 161, 792–797

Friday, February 26, 2016

Flashback Friday

The march of time toward Spring in Northlandia.  Today I want to repost a few pictures of our back yard we had at Grove Street in G-Burg.  It was a constant ritual of cleaning, weeding and pruning.  It wasn't a hobby as much as a Frankenstein - beautiful and rewarding, but a monster of time and effort.  At its zenith we had three ponds, two electrified, with koi and all but a small spit of ground to mow.  

It was in its way a paradise of color.  When the toads would be in mating season in the Spring the sounds coming from the big pond was teeth-filling shattering to behold.  We'd sit on the bench late night, hear the little duffers craoking, the in-pond lights casting a gentle evening glow.  I loved that sound.  A cacophony of horny little frogs in heat. 

The back yard was host to Tiki Fridays - late night drink-and- conversation-athons with the Gerdes',  Makeevers and others who would drop in.  Things change - the Gerdes are separated and in different parts of the country, the Makeevers still across the street but Lisa and Dave have had their health issues.  And that back yard paradise?  The owners have had the ponds taken out, gardens undone and back to a very ordinary backyard.  The frogs?  They no longer sing.      

Thursday, February 25, 2016


Lost in my stash of pictures taken in Northlandia were these of a conjunction between the Moon and Venus.

In astronomy a conjunction occurs when two astronomical objects have the same right ascension or the same eliptical longitude.  In other words, when two objects in the sky are close enough to dance or kiss, it is a conjunction.  Of course, they aren't really close to each other, but where we are in space on earth, these two objects shared the same space. 

Way back on December 7th Venus and the Moon played around with each other for a few days.  It was cold, again, when these were taken and a kind of haze in the sky until it burned off a few minutes later.   Most recently we had 5 visible planets in the morning night sky, but alas, I didn't get any pictures - a conjunction of babysitting, late nights and laziness.   

Wednesday, February 24, 2016

Literature 101

Back in high school we had to read books for English class.  One was the standard classic To Kill A Mockingbird and another one was The Great Gatsby.  The first one I read, but the second one didn't interest me after the first few pages so I gave it up.  It was pretty easy to find a cheat sheet for it to get by in class so it remained most definitely unread.  It remains that way to this day.  In fact, my Gatsby radar never did lock into anything that caught my eye - not the movie with Redford or the one with DiCaprio.  The whole spoiled rich people thing just didn't register.  

I did, however, watch Ebert's biographical documentary Life Itself.   At the end it is mentioned by someone that the final page of Gatsby was his favorite piece of literature.  

"Most of the big shore places were closed now and there were hardly any lights except the shadowy, moving glow of a ferryboat across the Sound.  And as the moon rose higher the inessential houses began to melt away until gradually I became aware of the old island here that flowered once for Dutch sailor's eyes - a fresh, green, breast of the new world.  Its vanished trees, the trees that had made way for Gatsby's house, had once pandered in whispers to the last and greatest of all human dreams; for a transitory enchanted moment man must have held his breath in the presence of this continent, compelled into an aesthetic contemplation he neither understood nor desired, face to face for the last time in history with something commensurate with his capacity for wonder.  
And as I sat there, brooding on the old unknown world, I thought of Gatsby's wonder when he first picked out the green light at the end of Daisy's dock.  He had come a long way to this blue lawn and his dream must have seemed so close that he could hardly fail to grasp it. He did not know that it was already behind him, somewhere back in that vast obscurity beyond the city , where the dark fields of the republic rolled on under the night.  

Gatsby believed in the green light, the orgastic future that year by year recedes before us.  It eluded us then, but that's no matter - tomorrow we will run faster, stretch out our arms farther...And one fine morning -----

So we beat on, boats against the current, borne back ceaselessly into the past." 

When I am at the North Henderson Community Center working on my 6th or 7th beer, I'm going to do a reading of this page and we should be good for another couple hours of heavy conversation.

One can quibble with Bill's reading of the last page - he talks too fast, as if it were a contest for speedreading, and he says "org-i-astic" rather than the correct "org-astic", but he was Ebert's friend so I'll keep him in the post. 

One cannot quibble, however, with the sheer mastery and beauty of those words.  It's almost enough to make me want to pick up a copy and finally read it.  Miss Billings would be so proud of me.  

Tuesday, February 23, 2016

Tuesday Tidbits

I'm one of those guys who likes weather.  Nothing better than coming out of sleep hearing raindrops on the window, anticipating a big snow, the crack of thunder and lightening at night.  Florida's same-old same-old has me thirsty for some good old Northlandia Sou-wester bags this summer. 


I had an appointment with my nose specialist, Dr. Phlegm, last week.  The latest report was encouraging.  The polyps have not reformed and I am able to reduce my steroidal flushes to every other day, and I don't have to go back for 6 months.  Good.  Double good.  I am pleased.


Cosmo's is a breakfast and lunch diner not far from Bedlam.  We catch it every once in a while on Saturday mornings - the whole crew.  Cosmo himself is about a 400 lb guy who is the cook and tries his best at English.  His wife, an amiable lady, waits on the tables and has taken a shine to Norah.  You can see Cosmo there peeking through the serving window waving. It's the kind of place you want to find when traveling - good food, low prices, illegals not wanting any trouble. 

   Last Saturday Norah requested a pancake and this is how it came to her.  Nice touch.  Guess I won't call Immigration. Besides, I bought a T-shirt from them and I think I'm an honorary Dreamer.


It must be Spring - I've signed up with my three fantasy baseball leagues.  But I shot myself in the foot with my favorite one, however.  I was last at the start of the season last year and made it all the way to 2nd place by season's end.  Screwed myself over having lost a good 1st round draft pick.  


Best TV show ever?  You might tread lightly if you answer anything other than Breaking Bad.


Finally returned downtown to take some night pics.  Since the move up to Bedlam it is not quite as easy to get back to St. Pete where the picture taking opportunities abound.  Not difficult, just takes longer.  When I was at Shawshank I could hop on the bike and be there in 10 minutes, but now it is a 30 minute trip.  With the Marina, Alfred Whitted Airport, the skyline and the empty street, it is fun to take the camera and wander.  Of course it is not without some risk - this is Bum City when the bars close and they role up the streets.  They will approach with their hand out and if you have a camera that can make for a dicey situation.   

This is a picture of the boat ramp at the Municipal Marina.  I'll post some of them soon, but until then here is one for your viewing.  


One more harangue about our health system.  I have new and hopefully better insurance for this year.  Took my card to the Walgreens and tried to get a new batch of my steroid solutions for the polyp flush.  The insurance company denied it because according to them it should not be given to anyone over 4 years of age.  Hopefully Dr. Phlegm's office can put a waiver on that but if they can't I will not be able to do the flushes - the cost would be prohibitive.  Single payer, universal - sure sounds good to me.


Thought you might like to see my latest babysitting client.  

Yeah, I think she likes me.  Stockholm Syndrome.

My favorite times of the day.

Till next week.



Monday, February 22, 2016

Finally, We Are Almost Done WIth Night

This finishes the Northlandia nighttime pictures.  I'm sure you are all getting quite tired of them and ready for other things, perhaps warmer things from Floriduh.  Although, from the weather reports it has been exceedingly warm up there and you are now very close to March which signals the beginning of Spring.  It has been a mild winter for you and you have earned it.  I have been heating the cabin in the woods so it has helped me as well.  So, wordlessly, here are the final shots, all are from the outskirts of Emerald City.Some may appear to be duplicates from previous posts, but they are not - simply a tweaking of location, or exposure length.

You are now excused to resume your day, having a brief bolt of BFE-ness to get the juices flowing.  That and coffee makes for a perfect beginning. 

Friday, February 19, 2016

Flashback Friday

Holy cow.  Another college shot with the Wombie.  That big guy on the right is Mark N., son of Canonsburg, PA.   That's how I learned about Iron City beer and he was the only one on the floor who had a copy of Stairway To Heaven.  That made him and his room very popular that freshman year in McKibbin Hall.  I still remember the way he would swing his keys around his finger and stop them and then do it all over again, making a kind of marching sound as he strolled through the dorm hall.  All would be quiet except for those keys somehow reverberating throughout the dorm.  "Time and tide wait for no one." His favorite line.  He was coach-like even back then.  

We all ended up Phi Delts and for a few years after graduation some of us met up here and there to talk old times and have some fun.  Mark was a football coach and when he retired a few years ago had risen to school superintendent status in the Arizona area.  Now he plays golf and sells houses.

Wish I could give you more details on the picture, but when you are young you tend not to think what you will need and/or miss decades in the future.  If I had to guess I would surmise this picture was taken on a trip to KC area after graduation.  This is definitely a motel room and we likely gathered to catch up - which kind of means you can't quite let go of college.  We did this maybe another time or two then circumstances and life would prevent further gatherings.  Mark would go to Utah for his first coaching job.  Tom would head up to Marengo, Iowa to the family business.  The rest of us would pursue whatever it was we felt pursuable.  Life would simply get on with it and these last clinging attempts to stay in the college bubble would simply fall away.

With cigarette in hand and a glass in my hand, it was probably a party weekend.  The Wombie looking dark and menacingly as was the fashion of the day.  Usually at my side.  Usually helping me to navigate what was obvious to most.  Whatever would I have done without him.

Thursday, February 18, 2016

On My Bookstand Right Now

If you are going to have a title like that you need to come up with a good plot and some answers.  Scotton's first book looks an awful lot like he thinks it will be his last.  He threw everything at it like a pasta cook throws spaghetti at the refrigerator door.  The genre is roughly coming-of-age, set within a murder mystery.  That might be enough right there, right?  But no.  We also have the sub stories of the relationship between a kid and his grandfather, newly located in the Appalachians because of the death of his younger brother.  We also have the mother mentally screwed up over the accident and his finding a new best friend.  And on top of all of that we end up with an Appalachian tramp that is a lot like a spirit or vision quest.  Sound ponderous?  Well it's not.  There is a lot there but Scotton seems to navigate the potential landmines rather well.  

Kevin, blamed for the death of his little brother is more or less exiled with his mother to grandfather Pops Peebles house in a very town in Eastern Kentucky.  Kevin meets Buzzy, a holler kid who has a lot of secrets of his own.  Kevin begins traveling with Pops, a vet, and we meet all the locals, good and bad, and soon there is a hate murder of one of the towns beloved citizens. 

Firstly, I'm a sucker for coming-of-age stories.  I like the notion that we learn, that we grow, that we can change, or that a revelation, or epiphany, we can be better people.  I like the lifting of the veil.  I'm still waiting for mine.  

One of the routines Kevin and Pops have is to sit on the front porch while friends drop by every once in a while.  Their relationship becomes one of true admiration and love.  It is here that Kevin becomes an adult, of sorts, learning the ways of small towns and the poeple who inhabit them.  When Buzzy and Kevin go exploring around the country side, he becomes an adult, of sorts, too.  When all three head out on a trail adventure, he becomes an adult, of sorts, as well.  

The book isn't without its flaws.  Pops is the archetypal grandfather almost to the point that i wouldn't have been surprised to see the townsfolk wearing WWPD bracelets.  I would also have liked to have more porch front discussions and maybe a little less Appalachian trail hike.  But the writing was always engaging.  Here is a brief paragraph to give you a flavor:

"Now we both went silent, staring into the fire at the dancing light of the single flame and at the flame's reflection on the sweating walls; listening to the slow drip of water somewhere down in the cave and the irregular popping of dying coals; fresh friends from completely different worlds faced with the hard shapings of truth and deceit, of right and wrong, and the equivalent damage when high expectations and low expectations are devastatingly unmet."

I read only once daily, at bedtime; they help me get to sleep.  Some books help me get to sleep fast, others slower.   The Secret Wisdom of the Earth was like having a pot of black coffee.  The plot was fairly convoluted, some of the characters one-dimensional, maybe a tad overlong, but overall I raced to bed to get this read.  Kevin probably received all the education from his summer he would need to navigate a stelar life.  Sadly, I don't think it happens over a summer, or an event.  I think we lurch into adult cognition like an old Plymouth with one rear brake locking up at the worst times.  Of course, I only speak out of personal experience.   Now where are those car keys?    

Wednesday, February 17, 2016

Largo Christmas Lights - Part 2

Here are some more pictures from the Largo Botanical Gardens all gussied up for Christmas.  Look at Norah's expression on the picture below.  Now that alone is worth the trip.  First time back in a couple years and worth it if you want to get in the Christmas spirit in this god-forsaken abscess of a state.  

I was going to keep quiet but this picture reminded me that this cone cost $8.  Norah was a bit insistent after I un-deftly tried to sway her to a McDonald's cone on the way home.  She stuck to her guns, wanted that strawberry gold bar, and darned if she didn't eat the whole thing. 

Okay, that's it for today.  I know it's February and Christmas is long gone, but you can view this as a pleasant reminder of Christmas's past or a precursor to Christmas's in the future.  

Tuesday, February 16, 2016

Tuesday Tidbits

Last week while driving by the exit gate here at Bedlam, I noticed this activity in the pond.  Otters?  Muskrats?  Weasels?  Don't know but I've never seen them before and will certainly be on the lookout for them again.  I got out of the car to take a picture of them while they were on land but saw me and headed to the water.  Shy, I guess.


Something keeps puzzling me.  Norah wants to see Mickey Mouse CLubhouse when she is at the place and while it pleases her it turns me into a stuttering zombie.  Absolutely stultifying.  Anyway, Goofy is a clothed. talking dog.  But Pluto is also a dog.  I wonder what kind of dystopian event created that class difference in their canine world?  


Binged on Better Call Saul last week.  It's good.  Not quite Breaking Bad good but close enough.  A new season started last night.


The tennis courts right next to us are being dug up.  "Hello Clarice, do you still hear the lambs?"


Norah called me early on Sunday.  "Happy Valentimes Day, Papa".  Best call I've gotten in a long time.


Nature can be unbelievably majestic and undeniably cruel.  A couple weeks ago I mentioned a car clipping a seagull diving for food on the road.  It was a wrenching sight.  A week ago while strolling Vinoy Park, a pelican was sitting on the seawall with the usual bikers, fishermen, walkers, and bikers approached.  It didn't move.  It became obvious that he or she was wounded, sick or dying.  Meanwhile, its partner was swimming in the Bay close by.  At one point the partner flew up and sat side-by-side with the other.  I'd like to tell you a happy ending, but I kept walking; let's pretend all went well.   


Sunrise yesterday morning at Bedlam.

Monday, February 15, 2016

Night Again, Again

Continuing our nighttime series, here are some more shots taken outside while in Northlandia mostly just for the heck of it.  Comet Catalina was a bust, to small, too tough to find, and then when I knew where to look for a window of a few days, too much cloud cover.  Oh well, as we always say, there will be other comets.  

This is one more picture from the ball diamond in Seaton.  It is all but abandoned now,  there are no more leagues.  Another sign of change.  This isn't the best photo, not nearly very interesting enough, lens flare and some lens aberration, but its the stars we wanted anyway.

Early morning somewhere near Emerald City and the cabin in the  woods.  I made a few early morning forays out to the country side.  I just liked the red coming through the morning haze and the barely perceptible farm building on the right.   

Early morning scene.  A farm in the distance shrouded by the haze.

There really is no such thing, at least around here for night shots without man's imprint.  Actually the night horizon is fairly well peppered with lights, towers, and farms.    

Finally this morning, a few grain bins in the middle of a field with its night light shining toward the heavens.  A lonely, solitary shot.  Emerald City light pollution is coming from the left.  Night shooting is an entirely different bag of goodies compared to daylight.  The sunlight exposes everything - the night hides in mystery.  Glance at those bins at noon and you don't give them a second thought.  But in the night they haunt.  

Friday, February 12, 2016

Flashback Friday


On my last trip to the cabin in the woods in Northlandia I took a picture of the old family homestead.  The Wombie had told me that the beautiful picture window had been removed and replaced with more a energy efficient window. 

Except for the gutted deer hanging from our tree in the Fall, the weird amphitheater in the back yard and the screenless back porch, the place otherwise looks good.  But the wonderful 9-pane picture window is gone and changes, irrevocably, the architectural integrity of the house.  

Marj designed the house, inside and out.  She insisted on 3x6 lumber instead of the more conventional 2x4 for floor and rafter joists.  She came up with the room configurations and sizes.  And she came up with that picture window.  

Back in the Day

The place as we were growing up.  The huge window was the window to whatever was happening in the East End.   

My current mantra is, "Everything Changes."  I know we are in an age of efficiency and high energy costs.  Perhaps the wood had begun to rot due to age.  Not everything can be saved.  But maybe the window was thrown out because the siding company threw in new windows.   I don't know and I try not to care.  It's not my place anymore.  Some things are born pretty.  Marj's house was pretty.  But it's not quite the place it was.