Saturday, December 31, 2011

It's party time

"Youth is when you're allowed to stay up late on New Year's Eve. Middle age is when you're forced to." — Bill Vaughn, author, syndicated columnist for 31 years for the Kansas City Star who published under the pseudonym Burton Hillis

DO I KNOW how to tie one on or what?!? Now that I've finished soaking and cleaning our stainless-steel kitchen garbage can, I'm on to cleaning the refrigerator. Yee haw. I am a party animal!

Three shelves done, one shelf and two drawers to go. I'm taking a break right now while Paul and I listen to jazz and work The New York Times crossword puzzle.

Happy New Year everyone!

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Friday, December 30, 2011

Farmer Tan Funk Band

"Play that funky music white boy. Lay down that boogie and play that funky music till you die." — Robert Parissi

PAUL USED TO play in a funk band with Andy Classen, director of Turner Center Jazz Orchestra and Jazz Studies at Drake University. Andy decided to get the group together Wednesday night for a reunion gig at The House of Bricks in Des Moines. I figured I'd better go because they might not ever play again! But they all had so much fun that they've decided to gig once a month at THOB. Pictures and sound bites included.

They played lots of Tower of Power tunes.

And some Average White Band. The horn section: Paul far left, 
Andy second from right.

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Tuesday, December 27, 2011

Paul says husbands should know

"Whoever said money can't buy happiness simply didn't know where to go shopping." — Bo Derek

FOR CHRISTMAS Paul shopped at two of my favorite stores — Ann Taylor and White House/Black Market. He got me a blouse, a dress and a jacket.

According to Paul, at WH/BM the store personnel were confounded that he was shopping on his own without asking for help from the sales staff. They seemed to believe he couldn't possibly know what he was doing.

They kept showing him other options to which he'd say, "Nope, the cut is wrong; too boxy" or "No, the neckline isn't right" or "No thanks, she'd hate that fabric."

In the end he bought what he thought I'd like and would fit and flatter me, but addition to gift boxes and tissue paper, he said his purchase was accompanied by sighs and knowing looks exchanged between sales personnel in the it-will-all-end-in-tears kind of way.

Everything fit perfectly. If I return anything, it will only be because I wouldn't have spent that amount on myself. Remember me, the $20-or-less sale shopper?

Paul told me he wanted me to have something that was newest out, making it less likely that someone else will be wearing it. He also said that a husband knowing his wife's size in dresses, jackets, blouses, skirts, pants and shoes shouldn't be such a rare occurrence that it makes the store staff's heads spin around and their eyes roll back. He's a stud, what can I say?!

Sunday, December 25, 2011

With apologies to Clement Clarke Moore

"I stopped believing in Santa Claus when I was six. Mother took me to see him in a department store and he asked for my autograph." — Shirley Temple

TWAS the night before Christmas, when all through the house

Not a creature was stirring, not even a mouse.

The stockings were hung in the hallway with care,

In hopes that St. Nicholas soon would be there.

The kittens were nestled all snug in their beds,

While visions of Fancy Feast danced in their heads.

And daddy in his jimjams, and I in my cap,

Had just settled in for a long winter’s nap.

When out on the lawn there arose such a clatter,

I sprang from the bed to see what was the matter.

Away to the backdoor I flew like a flash,

Tore open the deadbolt and drew back the sash.

The moon on the breast of the hard frozen ground

Gave the lustre of mid-day to objects all 'round.

When, what to my wondering eyes should appear,

But a GIGANTIC opossum standing ever so near.

With a weird pointy nose, and a long skinny tail,

He searched for dry cat food, but to no avail.
He moved very slowly, no not very quick,

And I knew in a moment it wasn't St Nick.

Happy holidays to everyone everywhere — on two legs or four.

PS: We put food out for the 'possum.

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Thursday, December 22, 2011

Phone paranoia, Christmas cards and cats

"As a teenager you are at the last stage in your life when you will be happy to hear that the phone is for you." Fran Lebowitz

I DROPPED MY iPhone Tuesday. It took a couple of hard bounces on concrete and afterwards, although I could still send and receive emails, it no longer functioned as a phone.

It's weird how reliant we've all become on having a phone at the ready every moment of every day. Tuesday night when I drove to the main post office downtown about 8:00 PM to mail the Christmas cards I'd been writing all day with generous 'help' from Shye, Shiva and Boy Boy, I felt strangely vulnerable without my phone. Alarming scenarios began materializing in my head. 

What if I run out of gas? What if the car breaks down? What if I'm involved in an accident? What if I'm accosted in the parking lot? What if I'm hit by a stray bullet in a drive-by shooting? They were becoming progressively more melodramatic and less probable. I survived the trip.

We used to all drive around and not worry about whether we could make a phone call at any given moment. There were plenty of pay phones available in gas stations, grocery stores, bars and restaurants. Talk about an industry that died — pay phones! Not unlike harnesses and buggies when cars were invented and typewriters after personal computers became ubiquitous. Makes you wonder what else we're using now that will seem quaint in a few years.

Paul bought me a new i-Phone last night on his way back from western Iowa where he's been photographing 450 individual parts and pieces of equipment for the past two days for a client's catalog. He shot more than 300 items yesterday alone from 7:00 in the morning to 5:00 PM, having had to be up and at 'em at 5:00 AM to get there.

So it was particularly nice of him to stop at the Apple store on the way home to get me a phone. He had his own motives, though; he didn't like being unable to call me.

Shiva being extra helpful.

Shye also provided her assistance.

Boy Boy took what he felt was a necessary break from 'helping.'

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Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Sweet equity

"All I really need is love, but a little chocolate now and then doesn't hurt!" Charles Schulz

LAST MONTH Paul and I were happy to donate items to the silent auction and be hosts of Sweet Equity — a fund-raising event for One Iowaa local organization dedicated to assuring equality and justice for gay, lesbian and transgendered Iowans.

Various amateur and professional chefs prepared appetizers and desserts, and then attendees voted for the best offerings. I overate — big surprise when there are all these extravagant treats just sitting there begging to be sampled. One chef came all the way from Cedar Falls with boxes and boxes of what she'd made. Now that's commitment.

None of the ones I picked as the best won. What can I say, I go my own way. Here are pictures and the list of winners.

  • Best Professional Chef:  David Baruthio, Baru 66
  • Best Amateur Chef:  Mary Kay Wilson
  • Best Decadent Dessert:  Mary Kay Wilson’s almond bars
  • Best Savory Dish:  Emily Bollinger and Maggie Walker's white raspberry fusion dip with homemade crackers 


There were some very fancy displays.

This one was a delicious mix of sweet and savory.

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Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Baby, it's cold inside

"I usually take a two hour nap from one to four". Yogi Berra 

FRIDAY NIGHT WHEN came into the office, the furnace had died, and it was freezing!! We stuck it out as long as we could.

Since it was still not fixed or replaced as of yesterday I worked from home writing ad copy on the laptop and addressing envelopes for holiday cards to send to Brainstorm clientsShye and Boy Boy really, really wanted to help.

With Boy Boy determined to lay on the envelopes and Shye equally intent on the keyboard, both tasks proved challenging until they finally sacked out for their long afternoon naps.

The adorable Miss Shye taking a nap on the futon.

Shiva chose this spot yesterday afternoon.

Our 22-pound, very big Boy Boy, is particularly 
fond of naps on the back of the couch.
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Saturday, December 17, 2011

All that holiday jazz

"I never believed in Santa Claus because I knew no white dude would come into my neighborhood after dark." — Dick Gregory

THURSDAY NIGHT Paul played with the Turner Center Jazz Orchestra in the Turner Center at Drake University. It was a special holiday concert and featured the fabulous Janey Hooper on vocals. It was so good! Paul's parents were in the audience as were friends Terry and Kathy Lebo.

I designed a poster to publicize it, Paul and I built a website, and Paul and Richard Early, who's the executive director of the Des Moines Symphony, did a bunch of work to get TCJO incorporated. Here's the poster and some photos from the concert. 

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Friday, December 16, 2011

Eau de toilette

"Long after one has forgotten what a woman wore, the memory of her perfume lingers." — Christian Dior

AS IN MANY bathrooms, in ours there's a cabinet directly over the toilet. Since ours is a very small bathroom and the only one in the house — BTW you have to be really, really happily married to survive such a tiny one as we have for almost twenty years — the cabinet is as tall as we could possibly make it, and as one might imagine, all three shelves are completely crammed.

Getting ready for work Wednesday, I accidentally knocked over the can of hairspray in the cabinet, and like a row of dominoes, all these items came tumbling out. I looked like I was performing a bad juggling act as I tried to catch all these things as they cascaded down. I didn't actually catch anything, but in the process I managed to deflect everything away from falling into the (fortunately flushed) but open toilet bowl directly below.

Except for my bottle of Cabotine de Grès. Kursplush! I grabbed it out as quickly as possible, immediately transferred it to the sink and ran gallons of water over it. But still — ewwwwww!!

I used it anyway because it's the only bottle of fragrance I have. Gives a whole new meaning to the concept of toilette water.

Monday, December 12, 2011

I'm counting to ten

"My sympathies are also with you in your desire & purpose to preserve your native language in your American homes, & keep it alive in the family along with our American tongue. My sympathies could not fail there, for this movement of yours, so publicly & trustingly expressed, is a high compliment to our free institutions. There are countries where it is a punishable crime for the alien subject to use the speech that was born to him, but in America we do not care what a man talks; for we know that the sentiment back of the words will be American, every time -- & deep & strong, too." — Mark Twain, in a letter dated 29 May, 1892

THE OWNERS and workers at Solar Nails, where I got my first manicure in five years this past Saturday, are originally from Vietnam. My time at the salon provided a golden opportunity for me to practice counting to ten in Vietnamese with expert correction at the ready.

It's an odd little obsession, I know, but in addition to EnglishI can count to ten in Spanish, French, German, Greek, Russian, Urdu (a dialect of Hindi), Japanese, Cantonese and now Vietnamese.

It started in graduate school. A Chinese couple and I were friends. They had two adorable little girls, and one evening after dinner when I was playing with them, I asked them to teach me to count. I can't remember why I did, but probably I was just trying to amuse them. Since they weren't old enough to understand that everyone else in the world doesn't speak Cantonese and English — after all, everyone in their little world did — they thought it was the silliest thing ever that a big grown-up person like I was, couldn't do a simple thing like count to ten. They giggled and laughed, laughed and giggled, and in between taught me to count.

Shortly thereafter, I performed my Cantonese counting trick for my friend Suzanne, who was taking French, so she taught me to count in French, and I already knew it in Spanish, and so 
began my little hobby. 

Ever since, whenever I'm around a foreign speaker for very long, I ask her or him to teach me to count. I can also say a few other, more useful words in most of these languages, but my vocabulary is sadly limited primarily to hello, thank you and goodbye . . . or various iterations of sweetheart, doll or girl, having been not infrequently thusly described. 

One thing I've learned from my minor fixation is that whenever you're in someone else's country or anyplace where your own language isn't native, even if your listeners understand and speak English, making the effort to speak their language . . . literally . . . is a meaningful gesture. It signals that you're aware that you're on their turf, and in spite of however ignorant you may be of their language and life, you still mean to be respectful and do your best to meet them where they live — again literally
Even a small offering can dissolve barriers. 

Years and years ago, after spending two months in Europe, I agreed to meet my estranged boyfriend in Greece and join him and a group of American car dealers on a cruise of the Greek Islands and Venice paid for by Lee IococcaI had been staying in a friend's apartment in Vrilissia, a suburb of Athens while she and her husband were away, long enough to at least learn to count to ten and a few basics such as good morning, good afternoon, good evening, thank you and you're welcome.

One of the places we visited on Mr. Iococco's 
tour was Ephesus, an ancient Greek city that's now part of Turkey. Imagine if you will how unpleasant a bunch of grumpy, ugly-American car dealers — most of whom were at least slightly hungover from eating and drinking too much the night before — could be setting out early
 in the morning to visit an archeological site.

To illustrate the general attitude that prevailed, let me mention that at lunch the day before, after growling at a waiter, one of the dealers complained loudly, "Why can't they speak English around here?" I said, "Uh, maybe because were in GREECE." I wanted to add, "you dolt" but I didn't.

As we filed into this historic site, we passed several postcard vendors who said good morning in English, but received only stony silence or surly grunts in reply. Pained and embarrassed by what I was witnessing, I said "kali mera" — good morning in Greek. The postcard vendor threw his hands in the air, repeating "kali mera, kali mera" as if he couldn't believe his ears, hugged me and thrust free postcards in my hand. I replied, "epharisto" which is thank you. More hugs ensued and the next postcard vendor who had overheard what transpired did the same thing — and the next and the next! 

One of the sullen car dealers growled, "What'd YOU do that's so special?" I replied, "I said 'good morning.'"

While I was at Solar Nails getting manicured, I was talking to a worker who was came to the US from Vietnam when she was two. She speaks perfect, unaccented English whereas Loan who came in her twenties, has a much harder time. According to brain scientists, the difference is that our brains develop in such a way that there's a limited window of opportunity — up until the late teens or so — during which a person can learn to speak a second language without an accent. After that, you can certainly still learn a foreign language, but never speak it without an accent.

Which reminds me of another conclusion I've come to about attempting someone else's language. Unless you've learned during that critical window of opportunity, you're going to sound pretty much like a two-year-old, and that has the unintended consequence, I've found, of making your listeners let down their guard without even necessarily meaning to because you sound vulnerable and helpless, and instinctively they feel sympathetic and eager to help. 

I feel ignorant for being uni-lingual. I took a year of Spanish in high school, but being young and short-sighted . . . and in my defense, following my natural interests . . . I switched to art classes when, after the first compulsory year of foreign language, I had the option of choosing one or the other.

In the years since, I've taken small steps to maintain my smattering of Spanish, taking one adult ed conversation class and speaking as much as I can wherever I can, but really my ability is sad. Paul on the other hand is gifted at language acquisition. He took four years of German in high school, took more in college as well as French, and became so fluent in German that he spoke French with a German accent.

Since Paul is a musician, he has what are called in the business 'big ears.' He's very sensitive to minute differences in sound, and he's a natural-born mimic. In the two times we've been to Mexico, I swear he's picked up more Spanish without even trying than I can speak, which I find a tad discouraging.

In another, mostly failed, attempt at language acquisition, eight years ago when Brainstorm was doing a lot of work for an entirely deaf-owned company, I felt inspired to take American Sign Language classes, and I took three quarters of it. I had been used to having always been an A student throughout my life, but despite my best efforts, I was pretty bad at ASL, ending up in tears a few times after class.

My teacher and I finally figured out that I was struggling so much because I have a hard-wired difficulty mirror-imaging. She would demonstrate a sign facing the class, but I couldn't flip it mentally to make the mirror image of it. She took to spinning around with her back to me so that I could see over her shoulder how it was supposed to look from my side.

While I was in the throes of taking ASL, Paul and I returned to Rio Caliente near Guadalajara to celebrate our tenth wedding anniversary. Naturally I was trying to gear up to speak Spanish, but I had been so recently intent on trying to learn ASL that whenever I'd try to speak Spanish, the first place my mind went in translation was from English to ASL. I'd have to bring my brain to a screeching halt, go in reverse to English, then shift to Spanish. Hardly anything came out and certainly not in a timely manner.

One of the most frustrating thing about learning Spanish or any of the Romance languages is gender specificity. Every noun and pronoun has a gender (male or female) and all modifiers have to match the noun in gender. It's ridiculous IMHO!!! A table or a watch or bank does is not male or female; they're its, for heavens sake!!

And that would be the one thing I like about English, other than I can actually speak it; you don't have to try to figure out the sex of a refrigerator.

That's about all I like, though. Actually it drives me batty because it's so darn random. According to Wikipedia, English is a fusion of languages and dialects borrowing heavily from German, Latin, Old Norse and French, and boy howdy is that evident.

I complain so much about the English language to Paul, that he knew I'd like the following poem that someone sent him via Facebook. It sums up my sentiments perfectly. 

Dearest creature in creation,

Study English pronunciation.
I will teach you in my verse
Sounds like corpse, corps, horse, and worse.

I will keep you, Suzy, busy,

Make your head with heat grow dizzy.
Tear in eye, your dress will tear.
So shall I! Oh hear my prayer.

Just compare heart, beard, and heard,

Dies and diet, lord and word,
Sword and sward, retain and Britain.
(Mind the latter, how it’s written.)

Now I surely will not plague you

With such words as plaque and ague.
But be careful how you speak:
Say break and steak, but bleak and streak;

Cloven, oven, how and low,

Script, receipt, show, poem, and toe.
Hear me say, devoid of trickery,
Daughter, laughter, and Terpsichore,

Typhoid, measles, topsails, aisles,

Exiles, similes, and reviles;
Scholar, vicar, and cigar,
Solar, mica, war and far;

One, anemone, Balmoral,

Kitchen, lichen, laundry, laurel;
Gertrude, German, wind and mind,
Scene, Melpomene, mankind.

Billet does not rhyme with ballet,

Bouquet, wallet, mallet, chalet.
Blood and flood are not like food,
Nor is mould like should and would.

Viscous, viscount, load and broad,

Toward, to forward, to reward.
And your pronunciation’s OK
When you correctly say croquet,

Rounded, wounded, grieve and sieve,

Friend and fiend, alive and live.
Ivy, privy, famous; clamour
And enamour rhyme with hammer.

River, rival, tomb, bomb, comb,

Doll and roll and some and home.
Stranger does not rhyme with anger,
Neither does devour with clangour.

Souls but foul, haunt but aunt,

Font, front, wont, want, grand, and grant,
Shoes, goes, does. Now first say finger,
And then singer, ginger, linger,

Real, zeal, mauve, gauze, gouge and gauge,

Marriage, foliage, mirage, and age.
Query does not rhyme with very,
Nor does fury sound like bury.

Dost, lost, post and doth, cloth, loth.

Job, nob, bosom, transom, oath.
Though the differences seem little,
We say actual but victual.

Refer does not rhyme with deafer.

Foeffer does, and zephyr, heifer.
Mint, pint, senate and sedate;
Dull, bull, and George ate late.

Scenic, Arabic, Pacific,

Science, conscience, scientific.
Liberty, library, heave and heaven,
Rachel, ache, moustache, eleven.

We say hallowed, but allowed,

People, leopard, towed, but vowed.
Mark the differences, moreover,
Between mover, cover, clover;

Leeches, breeches, wise, precise,

Chalice, but police and lice;
Camel, constable, unstable,
Principle, disciple, label.

Petal, panel, and canal,

Wait, surprise, plait, promise, pal.
Worm and storm, chaise, chaos, chair,
Senator, spectator, mayor.

Tour, but our and succour, four.

Gas, alas, and Arkansas.
Sea, idea, Korea, area,
Psalm, Maria, but malaria.

Youth, south, southern, cleanse and clean.

Doctrine, turpentine, marine.
Compare alien with Italian,
Dandelion and battalion.

Sally with ally, yea, ye,

Eye, I, ay, aye, whey, and key.
Say aver, but ever, fever,
Neither, leisure, skein, deceiver.

Heron, granary, canary.

Crevice and device and aerie.
Face, but preface, not efface.
Phlegm, phlegmatic, ass, glass, bass.

Large, but target, gin, give, verging,

Ought, out, joust and scour, scourging.
Ear, but earn and wear and tear
Do not rhyme with here but ere.

Seven is right, but so is even,

Hyphen, roughen, nephew Stephen,
Monkey, donkey, Turk and jerk,
Ask, grasp, wasp, and cork and work.

Pronunciation (think of Psyche!)

Is a paling stout and spikey?
Won’t it make you lose your wits,
Writing groats and saying grits?

It’s a dark abyss or tunnel:

Strewn with stones, stowed, solace, gunwale,
Islington and Isle of Wight,
Housewife, verdict and indict.

Finally, which rhymes with enough,

Though, through, plough, or dough, or cough?
Hiccough has the sound of cup.
My advice is to give up!!!
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Sunday, December 11, 2011

Perfect nails

"I believe in manicures. I believe in overdressing. I believe in primping at leisure and wearing lipstick. I believe in pink. I believe happy girls are the prettiest girls. I believe that tomorrow is another day, and I believe in miracles." — Audrey Hepburn

SHARON STEIN'S nails are always perfect. Mine, on the other hand (corny pun, I know), pretty much look disreputable most of the time. I'm often slapping on a quick coat of clear polish at my desk or in the car while Paul drives. Sometimes I try to make a proper job of it, but it never looks that great and only lasts two or three days.

I'm too parsimonious to pay someone to do my nails once a week, nor do I feel like I giving up the time. I tried acrylic nails a long time ago, but they bugged me. I didn't like the smell of getting them done, and it sort of hurts when they chip away at the bottom of the base to fill them in, so I had them taken off altogether and defaulted back to scrubby-looking nails. My last professional manicure was probably five years ago.

Thursday night I again remarked about Sharon's soft hands and perfect nails. I knew that she gets them done somewhere, but I assumed her salon schedule to be one I couldn't see my way clear to adopting. I was thoroughly surprised when she told me that her last manicure had been three weeks ago. I asked her how on earth she kept them looking so nice for so long, and she said, "It's shellac," and gave me the number of her nail salon.

I thought when Sharon said "shellac" she meant the stuff they sell at hardware stores. I figured it must be a method that involves mixing color into it and then painting it on like nail polish. Sounded weird, but if Sharon said it works, I was willing to give it a go.

I paid a visit to her salon yesterday for my shellacking. I felt relieved and rather silly to discover that it's just a brand of nail polish! I had my nails 'shellacked' the same color as Sharon's. They look awesome, and if they last three weeks, I won't feel bad about the expense and time. It's a better solution than trying to whip something up in the basement with stuff from Home Depot. 

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Saturday, December 10, 2011


"She was 14 and had gotten pregnant from a rape. Social workers persuaded her illiterate grandmother to sign the consent form with an X." — Kim Severson

BETWEEN 1936 and 1977 an estimated 7600 men and women underwent forced sterilization operations in the state of North Carolina, according to a news article that appeared yesterday in the New York Times.

It's unspeakable, and unbelievably, it was still taking place in 19****ing77!!! As a citizen of this supposed "land of the free and home of the brave" how can I wrap my head around this?!?!?!

Below are excerpts from the story. To read the entire story, click hereNote that the current governor, Bev Perdue, is fighting for compensation for the victims of this atrocity. 

Thousands Sterilized, a State Weighs Restitution

By Kim Severson 

December 9, 2011

LINWOOD, N.C. — Charles Holt, 62, spreads a cache of vintage government records across his trailer floor. They are the stark facts of his state-ordered sterilization.

Now, along with scores of others selected for state sterilization — among them uneducated young girls who had been raped by older men, poor teenagers from large families, people with epilepsy and those deemed to be too “feeble-minded” to raise children — Mr. Holt is waiting to see what a state that had one of the country’s most aggressive eugenics programs will decide his fertility was worth.

The Eugenics Board of North Carolina sterilized
Charles Holt when he was a teenager.

The Eugenics Board of North Carolina operated from 1933 to 1977 as an experiment in genetic engineering once considered a legitimate way to keep welfare rolls small, stop poverty and improve the gene pool . . . . . . . a task force appointed by Gov. Bev Perdue is again wrestling with the state’s obligation to the estimated 7,600 victims of its eugenics program.

Thirty-one other states had eugenics programs. Virginia and California each sterilized more people than North Carolina. But no program was more aggressive.

Only North Carolina gave social workers the power to designate people for sterilization. They often relied on I.Q. tests like those done on Mr. Holt, whose scores reached 73. But for some victims who often spent more time picking cotton than in school, the I.Q. tests at the time were not necessarily accurate predictors of capability. For example, as an adult Mr. Holt held down three jobs at once, delivering newspapers, working at a grocery store and doing maintenance for a small city.

Wealthy businessmen, among them James Hanes, the hosiery magnate, and Dr. Clarence Gamble, heir to the Procter & Gamble fortune, drove the eugenics movement. They helped form the Human Betterment League of North Carolina in 1947, and found a sympathetic bureaucrat in Wallace Kuralt, the father of the television journalist Charles Kuralt.

Over all, about 70 percent of the North Carolina operations took place after 1945, and many of them were on poor young women and racial minorities. Nonwhite minorities made up about 40 percent of those sterilized, and girls and women about 85 percent.

The program, while not specifically devised to target racial minorities, affected black Americans disproportionately because they were more often poor and uneducated and from large rural families.

“The state owes something to the victims,” said Governor Perdue, who campaigned on the issue.

Before most of the programs were closed down, more than 60,000 people nationwide had been sterilized by state order.

The reasons were chilling, reports from state records and interviews with survivors and researchers show. There was a 14-year-old girl deemed low-performing and “oversexed” who came from a home with poor housekeeping standards. A man who raped his daughter at 12 signed her sterilization consent when she was 16 and pregnant. A mother of five was deemed to have a low I.Q.

Victims began filing a handful of lawsuits in the 1970s, but outrage has been slow to build. In 2002, The Winston-Salem Journal ran a series of articles on eugenics, prompting official apologies and initial legislative efforts aimed at compensating victims.

But nothing came of it until Governor Perdue, a Democrat, took up the cause. She has vowed to put money in the 2012 budget. The House speaker, Thom Tillis, a Republican, said in October that he, too, would work on a bill to compensate victims.

The state estimates that about 3,000 victims of state-mandated sterilizations may still be alive. Of those, 68 have been verified in state records. But not all sterilizations were done through the state board. Counties had programs, as did private doctors who were part of the eugenics movement. Those people will not qualify for state compensation, Ms. Fuller Cooper said.

Still, her office in Raleigh receives about 200 calls a month. People who suspect they were part of the state program must send her a notarized letter. Then, their names have to be found among eugenics board records stored in dozens of cardboard boxes in the basement of the state archives. People have died or moved or use different names. It is needle-in-a-haystack work.

One woman who submitted her name fears it will become public. In a recent interview in her small home in Lexington, N.C., she said she would be embarrassed if her co-workers at a local hospital knew her story.

Now 62, she was adopted but sent to a state school at 7 because her parents thought she was mentally deficient. She remembers being told as a teenager that she was getting an appendectomy. When she was 27 and started having uterine trouble, a doctor requested her records and discovered that she had been sterilized in an operation that had been botched, her medical records show.

She went to her mother, who said she was going to tell her before she got married. Welfare would have ended if she had not consented, her mother said.

Elaine Riddick, 57, who also lives in Atlanta, was sterilized in 1967. She was 14 and had gotten pregnant from a rape. Social workers persuaded her illiterate grandmother to sign the consent form with an X.