Chapter 14: Nine-Eleven.

Well, Bush has had an object lesson in how the US can be attacked by terrorists without launching missiles.
Indeedy.
The response to new US foreign policy would appear to have started.
What price ABMs now?
Blair cancelled a speech.  We reckoned he went to call Bush to say "It wasn't me.  Don't shoot!  Look I've got my hands up."
I presume they'll blame pilot error.
He is kind of swarthy...
I am just horror-struck.  My emotions about my Judaism, our role in the Middle East, how incredibly cute I think most Middle Eastern guys are, and all of that are just horribly jumbled.   I want to suck my thumb and take a nap.
I can't stand to watch the coverage on TV, especially that horrible shot (which will probably win a Pulitzer) of the plane plowing into the second tower and the resultant fireball.  I know that probably over 30,000 people will be found to have died, but the fireball bothers me the most.  I know that we will probably never know, but I'm spinning stories of the entire passengers and crew being knocked out by some kind of gas before the highjacking... not likely.  But oh, my, I feel bad. 
You will be reassured to know that Seattle Police took immediate action and shut down the Space Needle.  Whew, that threat to national security is contained.
The US response at present seems to be "We don't know who did it so we'll bomb all the usual suspects."
Actually, the news here is playing that down quite a bit.  They barely mention Osama bin Laden. 
bin Laden's picture has been all over the news here.   I must say, whoever did it, it was an impressive performance.  It probably -is- his style.
They are focusing on interesting but not controversial things, like the buildings' strength and whether or not they needed extra bombs on board the plane or in the building.  (As someone who actually has fueled a 727, I can tell you they didn't.) 
Yes I heard that silly suggestion too.  To make a difference they would need about a ton of explosive smuggled on board.  I can just imagine "Did you pack your truck yourself sir?  Has anyone else had access to it?"   Why do they think all the flights they hijacked were transcontinental flights?  For the fuel load of course.
As to strength of buildings, I'd say the towers did what you would expect under the circumstances.  What is more worrying is fire control.  It was the fire that brought them down, not the impact.  If you drop half a dozen stories down by one floor in any building it will bring it down, you can't design for that.  However sprinklers are wonderful things in this sort of situation.  I guess they had a one-shot gas discharge system which is fine for a burning waste-paper basket, or any of the sort of normal internal hazards you might expect, but it can't cope with a military attack.
Very few things in the U.S. of A. are built to do so.  We are smug.
I haven't heard of any Arab-Americans being harassed yet; maybe they're just staying inside because they are not stupid.
That should fail to suppress the attack, aid the attacker's cause and lead to reprisals.
So Seattle and LA could be next.  :(Maybe they could get Bill Gates. :)
One can hope.  I'm in Kent, south of Seattle.  The only thing of strategic interest we have here is a Boeing plant that makes airplane seats.  Don't worry, we're boringly safe.
 
An interesting take on it...(Michael Moore email)
Sounds good to me. Except
"Am I being asked to believe that this guy who sleeps in a tent in a desert has been training pilots to fly our most modern, sophisticated jumbo jets with such pinpoint accuracy that they are able to hit these three targets without anyone wondering why these planes were so far off path?"
For 'guy' read 'rich arab sheik'.  He doesn't 'do' it, he just funds it.
Flying the planes into the towers ain't that difficult. 
Heck, I know that.  When Midway was in its infancy, the Aloha Air pilots would let me "fly" for a while, kind of like my dad letting me drive when I was six.  I sat in the pilot chair and held it steady.  They showed me how to make gentle turns, and I did it.  This was, of course, on a 727 when we had no passengers other than Midway employees on it, and over open ocean.  And they let us all try it.  But I am sure that I could do it, no problem.  Now landing... that's the hard part.  And the hijackers didn't worry about upsetting the passengers, or breaking FAA rules, or anything else.
As airline pundits have been saying all day, any kid can buy a reasonably realistic simulator in the local game shop and can learn to fly light planes.  If you can do that you can hit the towers.  Hitting the Pentagon is a bit harder but it doesn't need any ace pilots.  It's nothing difficult like say, landing.
The planes weren't particularly off path if you allow that ATC thought they were being hijacked and under directions to fly to JFK.  That doesn't seem like that dramatic a situation until the last minute or two.  Hijackers don't always file flight plans, and a bit of wobble is expected.  Maybe they imagined the hijackers just said they wanted to see the Statue of Liberty.
Hijackers never did ground strikes before.
 
Observations

1. Now it had been demonstrated what effective weapons they are, I hope no-one will hand over control of an airliner without a fight to the death. The policy of 'no resistance' was based on the assumption that most likely they would get the plane and passengers back, and at worst that was all they would lose.  A few high profile incidents destroyed the popularity of hitch-hiking, the same just happened to hijacking.  How about sueing the airlines for their contribution to responsibility for the disaster by supplying the weapons.  If you left your gun cupboard unlocked and someone stole your rifle and committed murder with it you would be held partly responsible.
The following are random thoughts, and don't make much sense.  Bear with me.

The continuing problem is cockpit access.  The doors have to be able to be kicked in as per FAA rules, in case of trouble. 
Yes, look at the locks we put on a few hundred in cash.  If the FAA designed safes they'd have to have quick-release locks in case anyone got locked in.
The other problems are, I think, silly rules, squeamishness and not enough knowledge.  I am trained in FAA regulations, as I used to be the person who searched people on Midway before they got on our plane. 
I bet guys came back for more! 
No.  I was distinctly humorless when I was doing that.
It is legal to bring a knife with up to a four-inch blade.  I have always thought that that is a stupid rule.  When I was training with the FAA, I asked about it, and they guy said, "Some people have pocket knives that are heirlooms."  Fine, pack it in your checked luggage or don't bring it, period.
I accidentally packed a 3" locknife from my toolkit in my handbaggage on a flight from Manchester to Dublin, the rest of the tools were in the hold after having been given a special X-Ray grilling.  It was impounded. They're kind of keen on that run, I wonder why.
No!  Does the IRA hijack things?
I have heard that the hijackers had boxcutters and plastic knives from concessions stands.  A boxcutter, in the U.S., is a metal or plastic knife with a triangular blade that slides out, about one inch long.    It can't actually do all that much damage, but I'm sure if they held it to someone's quivering eyeball the passengers were grossed out and scared out of their wits. Serrated plastic knives, applied with enough force, can cut you really nastily but can't stab you deeply.
A wound an inch deep and several inches long can be pretty distressing to most people, even if it is not medically significant, and as you say there are plenty of places where vital structures come within an inch of the surface if you know what you are doing and are in control.
There are plenty of engineering materials that will make a knife and won't show on x-ray or metal detector, glass for example.  (It might break. Oh, pity!  That's the victims problem. Get two.) Then there are other weapons, my first thought when I realised that the gun theory wouldn't stand up statistically (some would have been caught)  was that they had quietly garrotted the crew.  They didn't really need to intimidate if they didn't need the pilot's skills.
I reckon I could make a serviceable glass dagger, d'you think there might be a market for them?  Glass hypodermics too.  There's a real bitch trick, if you wanted a customer to get caught you could make his knife of lead crystal.  It is totally opaque to x-rays, but you can hardly tell the difference by looking.
You just need to *ping* it.  Ah, the sound of fine cutlery.
I also know that all the major airports have these very cool explosives-sniffing machines that work very well.  If someone held up a box on a plane in the U.S. and said it was a bomb, I would not believe him, and would be more likely to do something desperate.  
There is always the inside job, if they can wait long enough to train pilots, they can get someone into airport security.  Then again, bombing planes is passť
I have passed the tests that the FAA gives to people.  They do something like hide a knife in a carry-on bag lining with a lot of smelly, icky laundry in the bag and expect you to find it, or hide a big metal thing in their crotch, where they think you will be too embarrassed to search when the metal-detector wand beeps.  The big airports often have no more than a 60% pass rate. 
Jesus.
"60 Minutes" had a very dispiriting piece on this Sunday about that.  They had someone from the elite FAA test group.  He had a 98% failure rate.  He said that the one time he was caught with a fake bomb, he was able to talk his way onto the plane with it, so he thinks he really had a 100% failure rate.
I, personally, feel that if an airport has less than a 100% pass rate, they should shut down until their pass rate goes up.  I've felt that for a long time. 

I knew that it was highly unlikely that someone who had been on Midway for a week would have anything to cause trouble with, but I also knew that I was the only one searching them and using the metal-detecter wand and if something happened, I would be the only one to blame.  

I know it is WAAAAAAY too easy to avoid going through the metal detectors at the airport.  I just show up, limping, with a cane, and tell them I have a Port-A-Cath and a plate in my leg, flash a little ID card from the company that made my metal implants , and they are nice and let me walk around the metal detector.  As I wear dresses, they don't wand me, because they would have to run it up between my legs and they don't have a set-aside area to do that.  They don't search my cane, either.  It's metal and hollow, and could be holding all sorts of stuff -- and could be a weapon in itself.  FAA regs require you to pop the rubber ends off the cane and look inside it.  If you can't look inside it, you're supposed to tell the person he or she will have to check it and get a wheelchair for him or her.  No one ever does that to me.    I'm a jolly-looking woman with a big smile.  Sooner or later the terrorists are going to get REALLY smart and start using women, cripples and old people to do their stuff.  No one expects us to be wicked.
There are a million and one ways to think outside the envelope.  The terrorists would only be catching up with the drug smugglers.  Maybe now they'll tell you that if you are metal you have to travel in the hold, you old cyborg you.
I was at a huge pet supply store today and saw a carrying case that I could fit into fairly comfortably.
I am a sturdy woman who has worked with crazy people in the past, and I know that people never expect a woman to fight back or to attempt to disarm an armed person violently.  I have learned that once one has had to fight back against someone being violent, it is not as bad as one expects, and one can do it much more easily in the future .  Of course, I have never been on a plane that is being hijacked, but hey.  I think we do not do our kids any favors when we teach them not to fight.  Hell yes, its not even politically correct to teach them to compete. I think people need to know what they are capable of.  You can fight and hurt someone when they've scratched you up badly with a pocket knife -- I've done it, though I was pretty hysterical at the time.  Of course, we don't call it fighting when it's with a crazy person and it's your job to do that.

When I was seven, a boy picked on me in school, and punched me.  I came home crying and my father taught me how to punch him back.  That made me much more confident about my body and what it can do.
2. Concentrating population in small land areas makes wonderful targets for all sorts of weapons.  Cities always made me feel claustrophobic, that looks a bit more rational now.  Maybe house prices in London will level off a bit, but I doubt it.

3. W calls this war.  Perhaps he would like to think on about the implications of that statement.  In Vietnam the US found a new kind of war that it was ill-equipped to handle - guerilla war, and lost.  If this is war, then it has just found another one.  This new sort of war is fought by global guerillas, by a diffuse army with no base and no country, and obeys no rules, never claims vistory and like Mary Poppins, never explains.  If the US (or the so called 'free world') reacts in the traditional manner then WW3 is a war fought between the victims of 'globalisation' and those who exploit them, on a civillian battlefield, and maybe it just started. Anthrax in the air cond anyone?

4.  They plan to attack all countries which give shelter to terrorists. That should sort out the IRA for us then.  Will they also bomb the states that sell arms to terrorists or train the pilots?  Seems logical, I wouldn't take a holiday in Florida just now if I were you. <g>
Because of the things you mentioned, I think our response is just SO stupid. I really think we should re-think our position on Israel.  (I'm Jewish, I can say that.)  I've thought that for a long time, though; this is not new. 

As long as we are dependent on foreign oil, this will happen to us.  I don't approve of our friendship with Saudi Arabia, but I understand why it is there.  I wish we would develop alternative energy sources.
And yes, I hold my husband's SUV directly accountable for this. 

No, really, I truly think it is our fear of offending Muslim countries who sell us oil that keeps us from taking REALLY serious action.  I'm not all for the serious action, though; I think that the Muslim world has some serious gripes against us.  Oh, heck, I'm just still so confused right now about *what* I think, I don't know what I'm thinking.  I am just through with watching TV.  David is sitting in front of it 24 hours a day, and to me, I hear the grinding sound of spin beginning.  I don't like it.  I'm afraid I'm being mislead or actually lied to by my government (a government I still don't belong still has the right to be there), and I am upset.
Did I say this before?  Our present government has made the British heartily sick of spin.  I believe that if a party wants to get itself elected next time all it has to do is show itself to be honest. It only hasn't happened yet because of the dearth of honest politicians.  I voted for Thatcher way back then because she had real pragmatic honest policies that cut the idealist crap.  I'd vote for that again.  Being lied to by government is a way of life in most countries including UK.  A politician sleeps with his secretary and gets fired.  He is caught lying through his teeth and he gets promoted.  Whatever happened to our priorities.
I don't understand it.  I really don't care about a politician's sex life, and I don't know anyone who does.  The media just keep pumping it out: for whom, I don't know.
Hmmmph.  I think I will go to the library and pick out some lovely fiction to lose myself in.  And I'm going to buy some candy on the way home.
Ta-ta for now.

Yeah, where was Bruce Willis when we needed him?
Artyom points out that the Spiderman movie intro now looks dated - he is swinging between the towers.
They whipped that out of the theaters in the U.S. last Tuesday.  They are re-editing it.
 
I thought you would like to see this.  Second thing from Michael Moore.  Very interesting thing at the end.
Aye.
Some more random thoughts and rantings.
We can all say "Our side good, your side evil" but if someone does something horrendous, we are fools if we don't ask ourselves in detail why they did it.
Yes.  And that voice is being silenced here.
The BBC radio news is regularly reading out (among others) letters from people of similar opinion.  One said:  "The people killed were not innocent civilians, they were the footsoldiers of capitalism."  OK, that is a broad and perhaps unfair brush, but it makes the point.  Well, they were the footsoldiers of capitalism and the Thai consulate. Your Michael Moore piece refers to a feeling that there is a groundswell of opinion the same way there, but that is not the media image we see. I'm afraid it's a very quiet groundswell here.  It doesn't show up in any media here.  It's scary.
Why do our and your politicians not pick up on this?  Like you say, the grinding noise of the spin machine starting up.  One would not imagine that our (wonderful, moral, decisive, independent .. .. ..) UK leaders might be just a tiddy bit scared of saying anything that might offend our large and rumbustuous friend?  A true friend will tell you when they think you are wrong.  I am reminded of Cruella DeVil "What sort of sycophant are you anyway?" and her sidekick "Uh, what sort of sycophant would you like me to be?"
It seems to be politically incorrect to even consider that the other side may have a point. 
David is constantly screaming at me because I consider the other side's point.  I've been sooooo quiet this past week. We just went through all this in Ireland.  We started off in a position of saying "We won't have terrorists in the government while they still have guns.  Final answer."  Then we find that there is a significant minority who will vote for the terrorists, so we have to look at what it is that makes them popular.  So we end up having terrorists in government, and not a single gun destroyed.  (But then, Nelson Mandela was called a terrorist.)  I don't like it a bit, but I've learnt enough law to know it isn't enough to take a moral stand.  We lost that round, the terrorists' politicians were better at it than ours.  Even if you are whiter than the driven snow, unless you can prove it beyond reasonable doubt, it always ends in horse trading.  Being upset that you don't get your 'rights' is a waste of energy, and anyway none of us is moral enough to cast the first stone.
To stand up and imply that America/NATO/The West/G7/The heavenly host (or whoever) is fault free and everything is the other guy's fault is disingenuous.  Are there still people around naive enough to fall for that rot? 
About 200 million of my compatriots. Get real, we have a problem and what we need is to solve the problem, not to frighten it back under the carpet.  Emotive talk of good and evil obscures the real issue and does no-one any favours.  It may be good for rousing the people to give their lives in a good old fashioned face to face battle, but kicking the shit out of the enemy doesn't usually make them agree with you, only genocide does that.  The enemy has grown up past that stage.  Can we?
I can't reconcile the fact that we are expected to admire the dam busters in WW2 who killed 2000 enemy civilians (was it, I can't remember) by a technically brilliant attack, but we must throw our hands up in horror when it is done to us.  I'm sorry, my emotions don't work that way, they both look the same to me.  I admire the technique and am frightened and horrified by the killing in both cases.  I appear to be odd that I can think about the method and the result separately, yet I'm not, all soldiers at least must do that.

"PS. Three days ago, I learned from someone at ABC News that ABC had videotape -- an angle of the second plane crashing into the tower -- that showed an F-16 fighter jet trailing the plane at a distance."
Well, weren't they on the ball.  Presumably they didn't get authorisation to shoot down a civil airliner over a city quickly enough.  The news has come out that they were scrambled, but could not catch up with the second plane.  The Pentagon has confirmed that two National Guard jets were dispatched to shoot it down but did not achieve that.  Cheney (the vice president) says that he ordered them scrambled, but never was asked for the go-ahead to shoot because they didn't catch up.  Can you imagine giving that order and taking the rap for wiping out a few hundred because -maybe- it was going to hit the tower and -maybe- the tower would fall.  I can just see explaining that at the inevitable court-martial and when the bereaved families sue.  I don't imagine they -knew- at that time that the towers would collapse, and before everyone got out. And I don't imagine the plane flew safely out over the sea either.
We have since also learned that the buildings were engineered to take a hit by a 707, but at a low speed as if it was lost in the fog.  
It wasn't the speed that killed it, it was the heat.
There was an article on this in New Scientist, but anyway it was fairly obvious from the way the buildings fell that it was thermal.
A plane on a normal landing approach would have empty tanks. They obviously hadn't accounted for a plane that had just taken off.
I think even at stall speed an airliner would penetrate, insert its fuel load and knock the cladding off the steel.  Removing the cladding in the fire area lets the steel heat up quicker and to a higher temperature.  If the heating is slowed then the rest of the building can act as a cooling fin and keep the structure temperature lower.  I wonder how much of this the terrorists had researched, or whether it just seemed like a good idea at the time.
I'd like to think it was dumb luck, but I'm afraid it wasn't.
"Is it becoming more clear now that the plane that went down in Pennsylvania was shot down to prevent it from attacking its destination?"
Sounds about right, the only one they caught in the open.  Either that or a mutiny among the passengers.  The hijackers told them they were about to die, so maybe they rushed them, nothing to lose.  They found the voice recorder so if they don't publish a result, it must have been shot down. That evens the score a bit: terrorists 3, heavenly host 1.  Way to go!   Er, shouldn't we be celebrating that, or isn't that politically correct either because some civvies still got dead.  Or because families might sue.
Any tie-in between that theory and the story that the Pentagon plane diverted from a run at the White House?
It's still circulating.
Hey I liked the tough guy President running off somewhere safe.  After all he is irreplaceable, he got one more vote than his nearest rival. Oh, God... for one brief minute, I thought we would have Dick Cheney as president -- the male Margaret Thatcher.  But NOOOOOOO.
You know, my sister teaches at UT Austin (where one of the Bush daughters goes) and she said the campus swarmed with Secret Service types that day.
 
Shudder.  I have also noticed that Muzak has a new tape out, filled with Springsteen, Sousa, Whitney Houston singing the Star-Spangled Banner, Irving Berlin, other patriotic stuff, and, weirdly, Vivaldi's "Four Seasons."  (Why?  He wanted to immigrate?  Benjamin Franklin was a fan? The Jutes and Kallikaks think it's real classy-like?) 
This bothers me more deeply than all the other saber-rattling that's been going on lately.

How is everybody?  What is Natasha doing in school these days?  How is her reading?
She is in year 3, which means she is now a Junior not an Infant any more and is very proud of her new status.  Well, how fab!  They use a different entrance and have a different playground.  She does well at all her studies, generally top or second in the class, alternating with the orthopaedic surgeon's son.  She reads some herself, but still likes to be read to.  We have just started on the Harry Potter books.
You must do the Narnia ones.
Yes.  I don't have those any more, I'll have to go shopping.  We got a few childen's classics as presents and were working through those, 'The Secret Garden', 'The Railway Children'.  We started on 'Children of the New Forest' not so long ago.  It took quite a lot of explaining because the language is so old, and the setting even older.  And what really upset me was when he referred to "an old woman of 50".
Oooh!  Oooh!  What about the E. Nesbit ones?  'Five Children and It', 'The Enchanted Castle,' 'The Phoenix and the Amulet," etc.  Those were always my best best favorite ones, especially if you can find the ones with color plates in them.  The illustrations are luscious.
She's not quite up to serious reading by herself yet, because it is much faster to have Daddy read it to her.  I'll have to back off a bit so that she has an incentive, otherwise you are giving me quite a workload.
Well, be sure to remember them, because she'll love them.
And do you know Eloise?  Written by Kay Thompson, illustrated by Hilary Knight, she is six, and she lives in the Plaza Hotel in NYC.  Might I send those books (there are only four) for Natasha for Christmas?  I would also love to introduce her to Wallace, the escaping orang-utan from 'Where's Wallace?'  Hilary Knight wrote and illustrated that and I think it is one of the finest picture books for any age.  I have already given these to all my nephews and my niece, now I feel the need to branch out.  But of course, I understand if you don't want strange people sending presents to your daughter.
You're welcome.  Strange maybe, but not a stranger.  You did mention Eloise once long ago, and it sounded fascinating, but I have never seen those books.
Well, sometime bettween now and December 1, send me your mailing address. 
It's on my website: 121 Blackburn Road, Haslingden, ROSSENDALE, Lancashire, BB4 5HL, UK
(Why do we say dot-coh-dot-you-kay and not dot-coh-dot-yuk?)
Because you can get Cadbury Flake there?
Huh?
You mean you can't?  Last time I was there you could.  It's a wonderful candy bar.
Yes of course we can. Natasha often asks for them, less often gets them. There is also '99' ice cream, an ice cream cone with a flake stuck in it. They make special small versions of Flake especially for the purpose.  But what has it got to do with .co.yuk?
Well, it's a stretch, and explaining it makes it seem very labored, but dot-coh-dot-yuk sounded to me as if one was pronouncing dot-you-kay as "yuck," as if the U.K. was a yucky place to live. 
So I was saying that it couldn't possibly be a yucky place to live, as Cadbury Flake bars are available there.  Sorry.  (tucking tail between legs and retiring under the bed)
Ahh.  Yes, a stretch. But we also have Crunchie and Lion bars and Fruit&Nut and Aero and KitKat and ...(drones on into the middle distance). What I missed was that Flake should be singled out, after all it is the same chocolate as the rest of the Cadbury range, and IMHO Nestles chocolate is better anyway.  Natasha does particularly like it and tries to get it on my weekly shopping list.
Well, we have KitKat and Nestle's Crunch and $100,000 bars and... we don't have as much fruit in our chocolate as you do, though.  I'm also fond of Aero bars.
There is a Daphne du Maurier novel whose name I can't remember about the US and the UK merging and forming a country called the USUK.  I remember laughing immoderately over that around the age of 13. 
Natasha wants to know why I'm laughing.
Speaking of which, my Chemo Angel sent me a recent copy of MAD magazine, and I've been snorting and snickering over it.  It really is subversive.  No wonder my parents didn't like it all that much.  And so disgusting, too... I forgot how much gore a teenager can tolerate.
Do you have any rules like no Santa Claus wrapping paper or anything like that?
No rules, but it probably isn't a good idea to think outside the envelope here! :)
My only problem with giftwrapping is that I learned to do it in a department store.  Everything I wrap is designed to be shipped, and I do it with doublestick tape.  On occasion, when I've had to open something I've wrapped, I get mad at myself.  Consider that a warning.  At Christmas, you will need scissors when N. opens my present.
Artyom just got sacked again.  After being laid of for a couple of weeks for being late, her persuaded them to give him another chance.  He did a week of afternoon shifts, then his bastard boss gave him earlies on the weekend and he wiped out on the turn.   That rat fink!  He had managed to get his getting-up time back from 1330 to 1130 for the 1400-2200 shifts, but then going on to 0600-1400 the next day he couldn't get to sleep early enough and overslept, so he got fired.  He's a jerk, he had all week to get his body clock around but left it to the last minute as usual.
The good news is he had an interview for a trainee network supporter job. He says it went all right, and hopes to get to a second interview.  He should hear about that next week.  He told them he understood what maintenance work was like because it was what his Dad did.  I hope that helped.
Did it even make you feel a teensy little bit affectionate towards him?

Oh, and what is going on with your situation where you didn't get paid for the work you did for the new factory?
Ongoing.  They are defending against the last attack, the current hope is that we get them to put the money in a neutral account while we attack on the other flank.  I did a Statutory Demand, which is the first step in getting them shut down because the can't pay their bills.  They couldn't ignore that.  To escape it they have to prove they have the money.  If we get the money held then it is just a matter of time, we go sue them for it and once we get a judgement, bingo.  Had I gone the other way around they could have gone to ground once we got judgement, moved all the money out of the company, let me close it, then start up again in another name.  To escape now they need to find a way of convincing the court they can pay, without actually producing the cash.  These things take months however.
(Cooing) You're so slick.  My little legal genius.
Not really, I've handed it all over to solicitors now it is coming to court actions, and the last bit was their idea for making the most of the work I had already done.  I don't know enough to handle it from here on.

Oh, heck.  I've told you I have an iMac now, right?  It does not have Solitaire on it, which I require when I'm on hold on the phone.  I bought a Hoyle card games CD, and have installed it on my computer.  It is so much fun to play with.  You can create faces on it.  It has all sorts of background music, about sixty different card games, and many resident characters who talk.  I have been playing Go Fish with a Martian named Roswell, a Tyrannosaurus Rex named Marvin and a Jamaican guy named Jasper all night long.  I couldn't sleep anyway, but this is just so addicting.  First I made a cartoon version of me, then I made a cartoon version of what I *wanted* to look like, then I switched the backgrounds, etc.  I am so simply amused sometimes.  It's good practice, though... I had forgotten to play Go Fish and I believe it is an essential part of the knowledge base of a good aunty.
What's Go Fish?
A very simple card game. 
Everyone gets five cards, and the remainder are placed in a pile in the middle.  You look at your cards.  The object is to collect and discard as many four-of-a-kinds (all the twos, all the aces, etc) as possible.  You get a point for each set you collect and retire.
So you look at your cards, notice that you have two threes, and ask the person to your left if s/he has any threes.  If s/he does, he has to hand them over to  you.  If s/he doesn't, s/he says, "Go fish," and you take a card from the pile in the middle.
The strategy, of course, is when *you* get a three, you remember that Susie across from you was asking for threes, and you ask *her* for a three.  Then with great gnashing of teeth she has to give it (or them, ha ha!) to you.  Ah, I understand.  I have played a similar game once.
Part of the fun of the game is thinking of as many elaborate ways to ask for cards as possible, and as many chagrined, multi-worded ways to give them up.  ("Natasha, could I possibly trouble you/ would you be so kind as to," etc.)  I am pleased that the CD's huge storage capacity perpetuates that.
Now I'm playing War, the game with no end.  I was, up until now, kicking posterior at Kim's Game, which they call here Memory Match.  That was always *my* game.
Is that the one where you spread cards face down on the ground, turn up two at a time trying to get a pair, and if they are not you turn them back again and try to remember where they were?
Yes.  Actually, different from Kim's Game, which we call Concentration here, but same principle.  It occurs to me that this is a good thing to train the chemo-damaged brain with.  I now play it religiously.
Concentration.  Yes that's what I was thinking of.  One of the card games my grandmother taught me.  She played bridge relentlessly and possibly as a result she was as sharp as knives right up to her death at the age of 92.
I wish I knew how to play bridge.  I'm trying to learn it.  Maybe I'll be more intelligent when I have more hair.
Don't look at me, I never learnt that.  Granny thought it was too complicated for me.  (But then I was about 10 at the time.)  The nearest I ever came to bridge was playing solo whist at school.  Mostly we played canasta, but not for money, just for 'points'.
Neither of my parents played any card games, and as a result my knowledge is sorely lacking.  Everything I know is a children's game.  People just aren't interested in teaching complete novices how to play bridge.  Too bad, because the same people are always bewailing the lack of good bridge partners.
I think, overall, that today I'm around the age of eleven.  My ex-husband is apparently doing the step in AA where one makes amends for all the rotten things one did while drinking.  I received a package yesterday which contained about four thousand photographs and all of my childhood report cards.  They had all been left behind when I decamped in the middle of the night and, frankly, after thirteen years, I had forgotten about them.  What with the children's card games, MAD Magazine, and such comments as this from my fourth-grade report card (age nine), I am living in the past very happily.
"Coco (childhood nickname -- there were a LOT of Cathys in my cohort) needs to concentrate more on tasks that draw her away from books!  She is a very well-informed child and contributes a great deal to our class discussions."
Next semester -- supply scary, doom-laden music:
"Coco is still having difficulty concentrating on 'menial' (I had apparently been trying out my vocabulary) everyday tasks.  She rarely ever completes her work and is heading for serious difficulty in math!!"
(Note:  that semester was the semester where I met long division.  Neither one of us came out of that encounter looking pretty.)
Heavens, I was a horrible child.  The pictures are not attractive, either.  I do not understand why current fashion is demanding a return to the '70s.  They were awful the first time around.
Sorry to take you on such a tour through my childhood, but it all came flooding back when I opened this package.
I must remember not to try to send you video clips. I have this package that came with a webcam that will -sqeeeeze- ten second of video & sound into a 200k email attachment.  But being an .exe it won't play back on a Mac, I once sent someone one and couldn't understand why it wouldn't work until she mentioned that she had an iMac.
Hmm.  Well, I'll get an @home.com address off of David's account, and you can send them to me at that address on his (non-Mac) computer.  We now have a cable connection, and it's just faaaaaaaaabulous.
Well as long as you've got access to a PC you could always transfer them by ethernet or floppy or something.
Yes.  I now have a 240 mb exterior disk drive.  Very handy, as the iMac is not really happy about backing things up.  We have an ethernet cable router between my computer and David's so that I have access to the cable connection, too.
It would be nice to have something a bit faster than a dialup, but the technology hasn't reached us yet here.  The local loop is too long for ADSL and the fibre optic cable outside the door can only supply crap TV.  The company that now own it (NTL) is now rolling out cable modems, but apparently this was not on the agenda of the original installers (Nynex) or of C&W who owned it in between.  And they haven't got here yet, there is a trial installation supposed to be happening about now about five miles away, so they have posters around advertising this wonderful new but not actually available service.
Well, let's hope that if they're rolling out the cable modems they'll upgrade your cable loop.  Even if there aren't many people in your area who want cable Internet access, the improved cable will likely give them digital TV, which is just wonderful if you watch a lot of TV.  I would think that being able to order pay-per-view movies, have the TV scheduling for all 400 or so channels on the TV, and etc. would be making all the TV addicts scream for better cable.
I think they have the technology to do all that, its only been in about ten years and it is fibre optic, but it never seems to have occured to them that anyone might want any significant back-channel bandwidth.
Ah.