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Saturday, March 31, 2007

An Unusual Party

I've just come home from a party. The theme was quite unusual, I've never heard of this type before.

The hostess/guest of honor has just collected her first social security check and she wanted to celebrate. All the decorations were red, white and blue in honor of our government's funding of this party. A few people came dressed in red, white and/or blue. The cake was decorated to look like a social security card. Instead of a social security number, the date of birth was used.

We all had a wonderful time. As one of the guests said, "It's not too often that a woman will admit her age, much less, admit to collecting social security."

We have a wonderful Uncle. He just keeps sending those checks.

Friday, March 30, 2007

CNBC Million Dollar Challenge

Today is Friday. That means it's time to report on my progress with the Million Dollar Challenge.

I've moved up from last week. Then I was in the top 41% with a portfolio value of $1,028,941.17. Today, I'm in the top 32% and rank 149,124th with a portfolio value of $1,029,803.71. My money value only went up less than $1,000, I guess that means several other people did worse than I. If I were playing against the celebrities, I would be in fourth place.

I've gotten more aggressive by buying 1000 shares of companies, and selling when I have a decent paper profit. I've even managed to answer some of the bonus questions to add to my portfolio value.

Tiffany gave me my best profit. I always say, if you can't afford to shop at Tiffany, buy the company's stock. I've made a total profit of over $10,000 so far in spite of the fact that I've had a busy week and couldn't watch the market more closely. Maybe this week will be better.

My goal for next week is to move up to the top 28% and increase the value of my portfolio to $1,033,500.50. Let's see if I can do it.

Thursday, March 29, 2007

TV Voting

Let me start by saying that I don't watch American Idol, in fact, I think I'm the only person who has never seen the program. I have seen clips when there is some controversy as there seems to be now.

These shows that depend on audience participation in the form of votes are more popularity contests than talent shows. From what I heard today, one of the performers seems to have no talent but is being returned each week because of viewer votes.

This is similar to what has happened and seems to be happening now on Dancing With the Stars which I do watch. About two seasons ago, a rapper came back for several weeks even though he could not dance, nor did he seem to have an interest in dancing. He was so bad, he would have made me (who has no rhythm) look like a fantastic dancer. It looks like this season will be the same. I have nothing against Billy Ray Cyrus, but he was not as good as Paulina Porizkova who the judges added class and grace to the show. I guess she's not as well known as Billy Ray Cyrus.

Some commentators have said the controversy adds to the show and will get people to watch. I think they're wrong.

Let's call these shows what they really are - popularity contests with no regard for talent. If they want to emphasize talent, listen to the judges. If they must include the audience, let their vote count for a fraction of the judges' vote. Then we'll really know who is the most talented newcomer or best dancer.

Wednesday, March 28, 2007

In Support of the Internet

I love the internet! I know there are some problems, but I think if used correctly, it can be very useful.

Because of a website classmates.com, I have reconnected with some members of my grammar school class. We started with just three of us and now we can account for 22 out of 39. That's a pretty good percentage. St. Sylvester School's class of 1953 is getting reacquainted, if only we could find more.

The cost of stamps is going up again. It will soon cost $0.41 to mail a letter and pay bills. I just go on line and pay my bills. I also keep in touch with family and friends via e-mail. It's so much easier, and it's getting cheaper and it's quicker.

I'm going to be better informed for the upcoming presidential race because of the number of newsletters I receive from both sides.

I also receive newsletters relating to health, decorating, diet, etc. All this information and no paper, unless I decide to print one page.

Of course, there is a downside. If I'm away for a day, my inbox is chock full of mail, but there's no junk, no catalogs that I haven't requested.

I'm a big fan of the internet.

Tuesday, March 27, 2007

Weird but True

Here are some more Weird but True stories from the NEW YORK POST.

Raccoon is back on the menu of an Indiana town fund-raiser. Hunters have bagged 103 of the critters for the annual Hibernia Community Building event, which has not offered raccoon to guests since 2002 when the chef who had been handling raccoon-cooking duties since the 1950's retired. He agreed to return this year after townspeople complained the event was not the same without raccoon.

Meanwhile across the "pond", London comedians are seeing red over clown noses. Health and safety chiefs at historic County Hall have banned the audience of a Comic Relief Does Fame Academy show from wearing foam red noses for charity - because they're a fire hazard. One show insider fumed, "It's a bit ridiculous to stop adults from wearing red noses." The noses were to be worn on Friday, which has been dubbed "Red Nose Day".

A champion British racing driver is a stand-up guy - he couldn't go to a wedding, so he sent a life-sized cardboard cutout of himself. Andy Priaulx was supposed to be best man at the wedding in Guernsey, but had to unexpectedly head to Brazil for a race. He sent the 6-foot photo, along with a recorded speech. And during the race, he wore a crash helmet with a message on it wishing the couple good luck.

Some folks in New Zealand have declared that their local government council has "gone totally insane" after they decided to sue themselves. Town fathers in Waitakere were informed they may have ordered some home removed from a flood plain without proper paperwork. Their response was to sue themselves in court, and then they were ordered by a judge to pay themselves a $4,800 fine.

Back on this side of the "pond", a group of wackos in Trenton, NJ has been trying to dodge arrest for petty crimes with a weird new tactic - claiming that they are from the Abannaki Indigenous Nation, which hosts citizens from Earth, Mars and Venus. Included in this group was an accused druggie, a guy wanted on a warrant and someone stopped for speeding. All produced official looking papers that identified them as diplomats from out of this world. Cops didn't grant the suspects diplomatic immunity - but added a charge of displaying fraudulant documents to their rap sheets.

You just can't make these stories up.

Monday, March 26, 2007

Parenting

Today I read an interesting article in THE WALL STREET JOURNAL. In it, the author said that parents who worry too much are teaching their children a counter-productive lesson. Their worries rub off on their children depriving the children of their self-sufficiency. Children need to take chances and not be protected at all times. Children who are forbidden to eat candy go overboard when exposed to it.

An Australian report found that playground accidents increased after safety measures had been increased. It is suspected that the new play equipment was so boring, the kids took more risks in order to have fun. Some schools have banned games of tag because someone may run and fall.

This seems to follow through with people obsessed with cleanliness. Now, I don't believe we should live in filth, but a little dirt is OK. I've seen people afraid to touch the handles in the subway, and always carry anti-bacterial soap. Some of them won't even touch the door knobs in a public bathroom, unless they have a paper towel. I've also seen that these same people are the ones who catch every cold they're exposed to. They're always sick with something. I think it's because they've never developed their immune system.

The lesson, take a chance, have fun, run around and be daring - touch that subway handle, let your kids have one piece of candy.

Sunday, March 25, 2007

Quality Control?

Every week I receive a newsletter from Consumer Affairs listing some lesser known recalls. The list averages five recalls.

That doesn't count the recently highly publicized recall of dog and cat foods, most of which were prepared by one company, Menu Foods. Then, a few weeks ago, peanut butter was the problem. Last summer, spinach from California was recalled and lettuce was suspect. Of course, we all remember the problems Taco Bell had with their scallions or green onions.

Whatever happened to Quality Control. How can so many defective and contaminated products leave the factories and farms and turn up in our supermarkets and homes.

We consumers need a well-known celebrity to bring attention to this lack of quality control. It would make a great cause, maybe Al Gore or Michael Moore would like to attach his name to a problem that affects all of us now. What do you think?

Friday, March 23, 2007

CNBC Million Dollar Challenge

It is week #3 of the CNBC Million Dollar Challenge and I have good news. No, I didn't make the top ten, but I have moved up in the standings. Last week I was in the top 86%, this week I made it to the top 41%. My portfolio is now worth $1,028,941.17. If I were playing against the celebrity traders like Johnny Bench, James Cromwell, Judy Gold, Stephen Collins, etc., I would be in the fifth position.

I've gotten a little more aggressive and now buy up to 1000 shares of any particular company. I also sell when a stock goes up two points to lock in a profit. This week, though, I wish I had not sold my Morgan Stanley on Tuesday. I did make a small profit, but on Wednesday, it was up five points and I would have made more. Oh well, at lease I made some profit.

I've even correctly answered the bonus questions once or twice. Correct answers give you either $2,000 or $1,000 to add to your portfolio.

Someone once gave me this advice about the stock market. "You can be a bear, you can be a bull, but you shouldn't be a pig." Good words to live by.

Thursday, March 22, 2007

Parking Lot

Today I went food shopping and violated the first rule, which is don't go shopping when you're hungry. I doubled my bill.

While I was wheeling my overloaded shopping cart through the parking lot, I saw a car back out of a space. There was another car driving next to the parked cars. Fortunately, the driver of the second car was alert and stopped before she could hit the car that was backing up. The driver of the first car just kept backing up, turned and exited the lot, completely unaware how lucky she was.

She was very fortunate that the other driver was going slowly and was alert. I told her that she was good at avoiding the accident

Tuesday, March 20, 2007

Spring

HAPPY SPRING!!!!

It's finally here. Last week I thought Spring would never get here. We had snow and ice the day after our teaser 70 degree day. Right now, it's 36 degrees outside, but there is hope for warmer days and nights. Of course, around July, I'll probably complain that it's too hot.

Soon the leaves will appear on the trees and the birds will be back. The flowers will bloom.

Today, I put my bare white branches away and got out some of my silk flowers and made an arrangement by the front door so I have a cheery entry. Hopefully, the cats will leave them alone.

Monday, March 19, 2007

Pet Food

When I heard about the recent recall of pet food I wasn't too concerned because I don't use that brand. But, out of curiosity I decided to check their website just to find out more about this company.

I was surprised when I saw that Menu Foods sells or prepares pet food under a variety of names, including many store brands. I'm glad to see that my brand is not among the many that are being recalled yet. I also just realized that while I don't mind using store brand foods for myself, I would never buy store brand cat food. That has to change, I deserve better than store brand.

Because this recall is spreading, I think I'll cut back on the canned food and just give the cats dry food, if I can get away with it. They get very vocal when they're hungry.

Sunday, March 18, 2007

School Theatre

Today I went to the local high school's performance of FORTY SECOND STREET.

It was very well put together, the dancers were fantastic. Their numbers were well choreographed, at times they could have been mistaken for professionals.

I was not familiar with the story, but the music....It brought back many memories, songs like, "We're In the Money", Forty Second Street, "You're Getting to be a Habit With Me". It was a good afternoon.

At times, it was hard to believe these were high school kids, they were so professional. There's a lot of talent out there.

I guess all the dancing lessons paid off.

Saturday, March 17, 2007

On Writing

The other day I was cleaning out some clutter and found copies of the newsletter for parents that I published many years ago. I had forgotten about it.

It made me realize that I have wanted to write for a long time. After my newsletter, I wrote a children's story about a boy and his cat. I even went so far as to send it to a publisher, but they rejected it.

I've always been good at factual writing, but not at what I call "warm writing". On one job, whenever anyone needed a good complaint letter they came right to me. Whenever I had to write a memo about a party or promotion, I went to someone else.

Then I discovered writing as therapy. Since then I've been able to put my feelings and thoughts into words and onto paper, or in the 21st century, computer.

Maybe some day I'll rewrite my story about the boy and his cat and get it published. I have enough stories about cats to write a whole series.

Friday, March 16, 2007

Million Dollar Challenge

It's Friday and it's time for a report on the Million Dollar Challenge. I've learned a lot by being part of this contest, the most humbling being the fact that I'm not the Wall Street Wizard I thought I was.

I am playing under a handicap. There was a Tuesday in this past week and from research I've done, I've found that Tuesday seems to be a bearish day on Wall Street. October 29, 1929, October 19, 1987, March 7, 2000, March 13, 2001, October 27, 1997, February 27, 2007 and March 13, 2007 were all Tuesdays.

My ranking has dropped considerably. I now am in the top 86% with a rank of 270,221. I won't win any of the big prizes, but it is fun to spend all that money, even if it is play money. All I need is some good news.

Thursday, March 15, 2007

Memory Lane

A friend recently sent me this site www.forgotten-ny.com which contains pictures and some bits of history of various neighborhoods in NYC.

I had a good time checking out Woodhaven and Richmond Hill. Those are the two areas I know best. I grew up in Woodhaven and only left the area about eight years ago. It was a great place to live, but I grew tired of the concrete and crowding. If only we could have eliminated every other house on our block I'd still be there.

My ties to the area are so strong that I won't change my dentist or hairdresser, even though it takes at least 1 1/2 hr. to get there.

I had a lot of fun growing up. On hot summer days, one of the neighbors would set up a garden hose on a clothesline and make a shower for all the children on the block. Everyone knew everyone else. We were out playing all day, coming home only for meals. We knew when it was time to come in. When the street lights went on, we went home.

It was a great time. The pictures on Forgotten NY have brought back so many happy memories.

Wednesday, March 14, 2007

Reunions

I received a call from a friend about a week ago. She gave me some information on an all years reunion from my high school - Bishop McDonnell Memorial High School in Brooklyn. They are also planning a salute to graduates of special years. This year is the 50th anniversary of our graduation. There will also be a special 50 year reunion a month later in Queens.

I'm trying to decide whether or not to go to either or both. I've attended reunions of my grammar school class and they were fun. We still get together about once a year. I look forward to them because I really enjoyed myself in grammar school and I've renewed friendships with my classmates.

High School was another issue. I went from a class of 39 to a class of 60 (and as a senior, 64 in shorthand class). At 13, I was very shy and not at all equipped to travel 45 minutes on the train to go to school. The number of students was overwhelming. There were 300 girls admitted into the freshman class.

I would like to go out of curiosity, but I doubt if anyone would miss me if I don't. The logistics of a trip to Brooklyn would also have to be worked out. Do I stay overnight since it's about a 1 1/2 to 2 hour trip, or do I not attend the dinner so I can get home at a reasonable hour.

'Tis a puzzlement!

Tuesday, March 13, 2007

Animal Tales

Q. What is black, white and smells all over.
Ans. Torrance, CA where a housing boom has forced skunks out of their natural habitat and into the paths of more and more humans. They're under houses and getting hit on the streets. And if you've ever seen skunk roadkill, you know how bad that can be. It's even worse if you actually run over them.

Buddhist monks in Malaysia are bound by faith to non-violence and they don't know how they'll rid their temple of ants without killing them. One monk used a vacuum cleaner to gather up some of the ants and free them into a nearby forest, but that hasn't solved the problem.

A friend of mine has two cats. One is quite docile, but the other is an adventurer. Whenever the door is opened, he wants to run out. He is so desparate to escape that he has learned that if he jumps he can move the doorknob and open the door. He's escaped a few times using that tactic. Now his owner has to change her doorknobs from the modern lever type to the old fashioned round ones.

Monday, March 12, 2007

Road Trip

Today I travelled to The Ben Franklin Institute in Philadelphia to see the King Tut exhibit. It was truly worth the trip.

The exhibit was well laid out with information posted high on all sides of a display to make reading easier. I learned a bit of Egyptian history. I knew that King Tut was a child (9 years old) when he became king, but I didn't know he reigned for 10 years, I thought it was a much shorter time, after all he is known as the "boy king".

I was also reminded that the members of Howard Carter's team of archeologists all succombed to the curse and died shortly after entering the tomb, although logical people dispute the curse.

What I found amazing was the sculpture which has lasted over 3000 years and was done without the benefit of modern tools. The pryamids were built without power tools and they are still standing.

If you were royalty it was a wonderful time to be alive. If not, then not so good. There were two classes of people in those days - royalty and slave.

After our history lesson, we went to the science center. There is a giant heart which describes the progress of the blood through it. I took a walk through this heart, it was quite a trip up and down stairs and all the time hearing the thump, thump of a beating heart.

I also checked a pulse rate machine. The object is to sit still, hold on to two handles and listen to various sounds which included a gun shot, yelling, etc. Sad to say, I flatlined. I guess the machine was out of order since I'm sitting here writing this.

All in all, it was a good day. I think I'm going to add Philadelphia to the list of places to go. That will be an easy trip, it's only an hour away from home.

Saturday, March 10, 2007

Seniors Fight Back

Don't mess with the old folks.

There was news today about a mugging in Queens. That in itself isn't news, but here's the rest of the story. A 101 year old woman, using a walker, was leaving her apartment building yesterday to go to church. A young man offered to help her with the door and then proceeded to try to mug her. He hit her several times, and broke her cheekbone, but she resisted and grabbed at a chain around his neck. He finally knocked her to the floor and sent her walker flying, then he took her purse with $33. I saw an interview with this woman and she is one tough lady. She said that if this were 15 years ago, she would have given more of a fight.

A few weeks ago a party of 12 American seniors on a Caribbean cruise took a tour of Limon Costa Rica where they were set upon by a band of armed muggers. The tourists responded with courage. One 70 year old tourist, a retired military man, killed the lead mugger with his bare hands by putting a head lock on the mugger. Local authorities did not press charges feeling that it was self defense.

A few years ago I met my sons' former teacher and she told me about her experience. She was returning from mass on a rainy day when a young man tried to steal her purse. She fought him and kept hitting him with her umbrella. He wouldn't stop until she told him where she had been and showed him her rosary. Then he stopped and ran away emptyhanded.

I'm glad all of the above people survived their encounters. Maybe now the muggers will leave the seniors alone. They really are the greatest and toughest generation.

Friday, March 9, 2007

Million Dollar Challenge

We all have that fantasy. If I had a million dollars, what would I buy. Well I have a million dollars now, but it's just that - a fantasy. I have another virtual stock account.

I entered the CNBC Portfolio Challenge which started on Monday. The object is to see how much my portfolio will be worth by the beginning of May. Maybe I'm too conservative an investor, maybe I need to think bigger, but it's very hard to spend a million dollars on stock.

It's taken me a week, but I think I've finally spent my million. My portfolio is now worth approximately $1,004,800 and I'm in the top 44% of the challengers. It's really hard to think of enough companies worth buying. My portfolio includes insurance companies, entertainment companies, retail companies and pharmaceutical companies. It's really wierd to place an order for 1000 shares when I consider it extravagant to buy 100 shares with real money.

I've spent this past week building my portfolio and if the bulls stay on Wall Street, I'll spend next week selling and taking my profits.

Stay tuned for my progress report next week.

Thursday, March 8, 2007

Jury Duty

A few days ago I wrote about Jury Duty and my experience. Let me elaborate. I have served on two juries, both times drugs were involved and both times we found the defendants guilty.

On the second case, we were sequestered while we were deliberating. At first I didn't think it was too bad to be sequestered, but then reality set in. We were bused to a hotel. When we exited the bus we were told to line-up. I thought we were back in school.

We walked in a line into and through the lobby where we were given our room keys and told to go straight to our rooms for a little while and then meet outside the room to go to dinner. Again, we lined up with a guard at the front of the line and another guard at the rear. We walked into the restaurant under guard.

After dinner we were then again escorted to our rooms. Once we were settled in our rooms, our guards collected our keys so we couldn't leave. The guard then sat in the hall all night. The next day the routine was the same.

I found the experience degrading. I felt we were being treated as if we were the criminals. Fortunately we finished our deliberations later that day. I certainly didn't want to go through that again.

There has to be a better way to insure that members of the jury don't discuss the case after hours. This experience has made me reluctant to serve on a jury where I might have to be sequestered. I don't like being locked up while the defendant is free.

Wednesday, March 7, 2007

A New York Fix

Today I had a New York City fix. I had some errands in the city and then decided to meet a friend for lunch.

It's only been three years since I worked in the area, but so much has changed. Most of the area has been declared an historical site. There is so much new construction going on, most of it residential which is new for downtown Manhattan.

Since it was my friend's birthday, I decided to go to a great card store downtown. Unfortunately, it is no more. Even the post office which had been there forever was gone. Then we went to lunch at a restaurant in the building where I had my first job with an engineering company, and again later when I went to work in an insurance company. There have been so many changes to that building, starting with the elevators. When I started work, we had elevator operators, now of course, they are all automatic. And, of course, the security in the building is very tight. We used to be able to go about five blocks by cutting through the lobbies of the buildings, but not, of course, unless you work in the building, you don't get much past the door.

There have been so many changes downtown, some good, some bad. A lot of the old buildings with the fancy facades are gone, all in the name of progress. I like the new glass buildings, but some of the older buildings are very interesting with the sculptures on the sides. When the weather is nice, I just walk around staring at them, just like a tourist.

We had a wonderful lunch, the time just flew by. I couldn't do much shopping, most of the stores I knew are gone. If it hadn't been such a crumby day, weatherwise, I would have walked around more, but it was cold and snowy. When it's wet, either snow or rain, the streets of NY are miserable - dirty, messy, and slippery.

It was a wonderful day and I can't wait until my next NY fix. I'd like to take one day a month and just wander the city or the museums.

Tuesday, March 6, 2007

City vs.Country vs. Suburbs

I was speaking with a friend today and we touched on the differences between suburban and urban life. Except for the past eight years I lived in the city, then I moved to the country and then to the suburbs.

Besides the room and lack of sidewalks, the biggest difference is the people. Here, they are more laid back, until they hear of a crime, then they get all nervous. They expect the police to drop everything when they call, even if there's nothing to be done. I heard of a case where a woman was indignant because the police didn't come to her home after she discovered a footprint in the snow.

It was evening when she called them. As it was explained later, the 4:oo pm to midnight shift has a total of six policemen on duty for the entire town. Back in the city, we probably had more men on duty in one precinct than are on the entire police force in our town.

When I lived in the country I served on a jury (more about that at a later date) and found the defendant guilty. The other women on the jury were afraid to walk to their cars in the parking lot behind the courthouse because they feared the defendant's family was there to attack them.

There was a time when I was unhappy in the city because of the crime and dirt. I'm glad now that I was exposed to the city, it's made me more aware of the different types of people - good and bad. I'm not always looking over my shoulder in case anyone is following me. I'm not afraid to be on my own. I'm stronger, and I realize I miss the excitement of the city. I wish I had money to throw away, I'd get an apartment for a year in the heart of Manhattan.

Monday, March 5, 2007

Animal Tales

Today I was cleaning my office and discovered some old newspaper clippings from the NEW YORK POST.

Back in February three climbers were rescued from Mt. Hood. They survived a brutal night huddled in sleeping bags, shielding themselves from high winds, but it was their faithful black Labrador who made the difference between life and death. The dog probably saved their lives by lying across them during the freezing night. The people were taken away in an ambulance and their dog leapt in after them. That dog really is man's best friend.

A Vietnamese farmer has found the secret to plumper pork - Beethoven. Nguyen Chi Cong said he started playing recordings of classical symphonies six years ago for his workers and found the music also had a soothing effect on the pigs. The pigs started eating more and they gained weight faster than usual. Guess I'd better get rid of my classical music.

Thai zookeepers are hoping a low-carb diet will get an overweight panda in the mood to mate. Chuang Chuang, a 330 pound panda is too heavy to have sex with 253 pound Lin Hui caretakers said. So they created a special diet for Chuang Chuang - replacing loaves of bread with low-fat bamboo branches. They'd better stop the music too.

Pigs now outnumber people in a German state. The farmers' association of Lower Saxony said that the end of 2006, the number of swine topped 8 million. The state's human population, meanwhile, dropped to 7,996 million. Have more bacon and eggs for breakfast.

And the last weighty item. A cat owner in Britain blamed her feline's once-fatty figure on his lifestyle in the States. Willie shed 4 1/2 pounds after his owner moved him across the Atlantic to Britain where his veterinarian put him on a diet program that included 15 minutes of daily play. I wonder how they got him to stay awake that long.

Sunday, March 4, 2007

Reunions

Last night I got a call from a girl I've known since grammar school. We went to high school, Bishop McDonnell Memorial High School in Brooklyn, together, but then lost contact for about 45 years. It's great to be back in touch again.

Now it seems that our high school is planning a reunion for all graduates, with special celebrations for selected years, ours, 1957, among them. It's hard to believe that I graduated from school 50 years ago, I don't feel that old. I feel about 35 or 40 myself.

In addition to the reunion planned by the school the end of March, there will be another specifically for our 50th in the end of April.

I might as well go to both. It will be interesting to see how well everyone else has aged.

I have already renewed friendships from grammar school, St. Sylvester School in Brooklyn. It's amazing, but we seem to have just picked up as if all that time had never passed. I guess the friends we make as children are always our friends.

Friday, March 2, 2007

Switzerland Invades Liechtenstein

I saw this notice streaming across the TV tonight while watching Bill O'Reilly.

"Swiss Troops Accidentally Invade Liechtenstein. "

What began as a routine training exercise almost ended in an embarrassing diplomatic incident after a compay of Swiss soldiers got lost at night and marched into neighboring Liechtenstein.

According to Swiss daily BLICK, the 170 infantry soldiers from the neutral country wandered more than a mile across an unmarked border into the tiny principality early Thursday before realizing their mistake and turning back.

A spokesman for the Swiss army confirmed the story, but said that it was unlikely that there would be any serious repercussions for the mistaken invation. Officials in Liechtenstein also played down the incident.

Interior Ministry spokesman Markus Amman said nobody in Liechtenstein had even noticed the soldiers, who were carrying assault rifles, but no ammunition. "It's not like they stormed over here with attack helicopters or something," he said.

Liechtenstein, which has about 34,000 inhabitants and is slightly smaller than Washington DC does not have an army.

Looks like Switzerland is not so neutral any more.

I guess they will have to add a compass to the legendary Swiss Army Knife.

Thursday, March 1, 2007

Congressional Medal of Honro

In case you didn't read THE NEW YORK TIMES' page 15, three lines from the bottom on Tuesday, I thought I'd mention that President Bush awarded the Congressional Medal of Honor to Major Bruce Crandall. He was a helicoptor pilot in Viet Nam 42 years ago and evacuated 70 wounded soldiers in the la Drang Valley. He made 14 flights in 14 hours to evacuate the men.

This medal is the highest military honor and is often given posthumously. Two men have received this honor for service in Iraq, they are Army Sgt. First Class Paul R. Smith and Marine Cpl. Jason L. Dunham, both died in action.

They are heroes. Bruce Crandall is now 74. I'm glad he has lived to receive this honor. It's too bad the major newspapers didn't feel it was worth front page coverage.