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Thursday, May 31, 2007

Cats

The other day I bought collars and a leash for Crash and Burn. I thought if they got used to the collar and leash I could take them out onto the patio whenever I go out there.

Today, I decided to put on the collars. Crash, prima donna that she is, didn't like hers. She kept trying to take it off. Burnie, being the very laid-back cat, let me slip it over his head. He seemed to like it, even the bell didn't bother him.

After a while I decided to try the leash. Again, Burnie didn't care. The fun part came when he started walking around the house trailing the leash which was followed by Crash. I had to take the leash off because Burnie kept stepping on it and pulling the collar around his neck.

I removed Crash's collar this afternoon and Burnie's this evening. I'll try again tomorrow. These things take time.

Wednesday, May 30, 2007

The Good Old Days

The other day when I was cleaning out the closet I found two insurance policies that my parents bought when I was 7 and 11. The weekly premium was $0.15 and $0.33 and the value was $216 and $500. Since they had to make payments weekly, I can only imagine what a struggle it was for them.

This has me appreciate the struggles they must have had. My mother stayed at home until I was about 11 while my father probably made no more than $35.00/week. Still, they were able to give my brother and me good private school educations which prepared us for our future.

When I'm tempted to complain about the high prices of gas, I should remember to be thankful that I have a car and can travel wherever I want. My parents couldn't afford a car, we used mass transit to visit family. Those visits to Staten Island or Manhattan or the Bronx were only about two or three times a year.

Tell me again, what was so great about "the good old days".

Tuesday, May 29, 2007

CNBC MILLION DOLLAR CONTEST

The CNBC Million Dollar Portfolio Second Chance contest ended last Friday after two disappointing days on Wall Street.

I tried to find my final standing, but received a message to check back on June 5. I then tried to find out my final profit, and it wasn't pretty. Two weeks just aren't enough time to buy and sell stock. You need at least a few months, unless the Dow is rising 100 pts./day.

I will check back on June 5 to find out my final rank. I know that I didn't win the prize, but I had a lot of fun making and tracking all my purchases.

Monday, May 28, 2007

FOX DEBATES

Sunday's NEW YORK TIMES had a front page article on the fact that many Democrats refuse to participate in a debate on the Fox News Channel.



What are they afraid of? Maybe exposure to someone of a differing opinion? The Republicans had no objection to appearing on MSNBC. They relished the opportunity to offer their positions to a wide range of people.



Senators Obama and Clinton and former Senator Edwards have shown their narrow-mindedness in refusing to appear. If any of them were elected president, would they only meet with world leaders who agree with them? Would they ignore congressmen of the opposite party?



I think that candidates who are afraid to expose their opinions to the opposition may be hiding their true reasons for wanting to become our president. Congratulations to Senator Joseph Biden who will appear. He at least believes in his position and is not afraid of exposing it to others who may not agree with him.

Sunday, May 27, 2007

Cleaning Time

Today I had an attack of neat and decided it was time to clean and organize the closet in my office.

I took all the boxes out, sorted some of the papers and threw out a lot of stuff. It took several hours. There are still boxes and papers to be sorted so I left them out of the closet. Now my office is messy.

Why is it that things sometimes look messier after you clean than they did before?

Saturday, May 26, 2007

I'm in heaven. My air conditioner is fixed. It was just a blown fuse.

I learned a valuable lesson in dealing with people. I called the service company and had to leave a message on their 24 hour line. When then returned my call, instead of being my usual demanding self, I was empathetic. I didn't insist on moving to the top of the list because I have a service contract and that my unit worked before it was serviced.

They said they might not get here until tomorrow, it depended on how much work the other units needed. I agreed and understood that they are very busy and said I would be patient.

About a half hour later I got a call that they were here. The unit was fixed in about 10 minutes and I'm comfortable again.

I guess if you're understanding and patient you might get pushed ahead of the more difficult customers, or maybe since the temperature is 92 they don't want the "old folks" getting too hot.

Friday, May 25, 2007

Summer

Today marks the unofficial start of summer. Our community had its official opening of the outdoor pool.

The timing was perfect. The temperature today was 90 degrees. We had hot dogs, soda and ice cream. There was a dj, but no one went into the pool. I heard that the water was still too cool.

I wish that were the case in my home. Even though it worked when I did a test of my air conditioner a few months ago, it doesn't seem to be working tonight. This is the second time. The week I moved in it broke down and the unit had to be replaced. Hopefully, it won't be a big project this time.

I guess I'll have to keep cool the old-fashioned way - open windows.

Wednesday, May 23, 2007

Self Defense

Last night our Singles Group had a self defense demonstration by a retired State Trooper. It was very informative.

While I never felt particularly vulnerable, I never realized I had so many means available for my own protection and defense. He stressed that the main thing to keep in mind when out is to be aware of your surroundings and to have a plan in case of an attack.

I never knew that a head butt could be so effective in protecting yourself. Of course, yelling is the first thing to do, then run, if possible. There were so many other ways of protecting yourself, elbows, knees, feet, etc. You can even use common items such as keys or a pen like the woman who was attacked in a church.

I guess though the main way to keep safe is to avoid certain situations and places, but if that's not possible, have a plan and yell.

Monday, May 21, 2007

Road Trips

Today I was speaking with a friend about my road trip last year. She mentioned that she was worried about something happening on the trip and would be afraid to make such a journey.

I told her that you can't spend your life worrying about things that may or may not happen. That used to be me. The only thing all that worrying got me was some gray hairs and a long list of things I want to do.

Now I'm retired and have the time to do all the things I put off because of fear. It's time to make all those dreams come true.

The final decision - she has always wanted to visit Savannah, GA, so that will be one of my vacations in 2008. We'll make the road trip together.

Sunday, May 20, 2007

CATS


I've had cats about half my life.


My Burnie did something the other day that I've probably seen other cats do, but I don't remember it. I had dropped a piece of ham on the floor for him. He had a hard time licking it up, so he picked it up in his paw and put it in his mouth.


Saturday, May 19, 2007

CNBC Second Chance Portfolio

This is the end of the first week of a two week second chance in the CNBC virtual portfolio.

I started Monday with $1,000,000 to spend. At the close on Friday, my portfolio was worth $1,018,262.00 which is a 1.83% return. I rank in the top 9%. It's a pretty good return for me, but not enough to win.

I'll keep trying because I'd like to move up to the top 6 or 7%, and I don't like to quit.

Friday, May 18, 2007

Bob Newhart

Last night I watched the PBS show on Bob Newhart. It was very good and I learened a few things about him.

I did not know that he had a couple of shows before his hit series based in Chicago or that he had a second comedy album. I guess not too many others didn't know either, since they had very low ratings. Who can forget the ending of his other series set in Vermont. That was a classic, reminiscent of the time Patrick Duffy returned to DALLAS.

A few years ago I took a bicycle trip to Vermont and stayed in the Inn whose exterior was used for the opening scenes of the show. The interior had some similarities, but not too many. That Inn was called The Waybury Inn in Middlebury, VT. Middlebury is a very nice town surrounded by farms. In fact, the Inn is right next to a farm.

Thursday, May 17, 2007

Old Television

This is fundraising month at PBS. I must admit that I rarely watch PB S except for "AS TIME GOES BY" on Saturday night.

Tonight while surfing the channels I found a program on Victor Borge. What a great entertainer, both classical pianist and comedian. Watching some of his routines, I found myself sitting alone in the house and laughing out loud, even though I saw many of them before. I particularly enjoyed his inflation language. Instead of things being "wonderful", they were "twoderful", "create" became "crenine", etc. His talent as a pianist came through when he would play "Happy Birthday" in the manner of various composers - Verdi, Beethoven, Brahms, etc. What a fun hour.

Now Bob Newhart is on. Time for more good times. I still have a copy of his album, "The Button Down Mind of Bob Newhart", and of course, his two series were great. More on Bob later.

Wednesday, May 16, 2007

Weather Aleert

Today we had a severe thunderstorm warning, along with high winds. I took all my plants into the house and put them into the bathtub because I didn't want them mixed with the house plants.

Then, because a few years ago lightening blew out my TV and water pump I turned off the TV and my computer. Things seem to have cleared up, so I turned my computer back on. That was over 1/2 hour ago. It took this long to get everything back.

Now I know why I never turn the darn thing off.

Tuesday, May 15, 2007

DANCING WITH THE STARS

For the past nine weeks I've been watching DANCING WITH THE STARS. I really enjoy this show, even though I have absolutely no sense of rhythm or dancing ability.

I'm happy with the couples who made it to the finals, even though I disagreed with a few of the earlier eliminations. I'm looking forward to next week's final show. Unfortunately, I have a meeting which I must attend, so I'll either have to run through the meeting quickly or tape the show.

As a child, I really wanted to take dancing lessons, but at the time it wasn't possible. But I still see myself gliding across the floor in the finals of the competition. Then I wake up

Monday, May 14, 2007

Vacations

I've just come back from a meeting about a trip to Cape Cod next month. We went over the last minute details. Then we discussed future travel plans.

Here it is, not even the middle of 2007, and the community is planning our trips for 2008. The big trip will be a Mediterrean cruise in October next year. They are starting to take reservations now. There are other trips being planned - Washington/Baltimore, New England in the Fall and Ireland.

It's so hard to decide, I want them all.

Friday, May 11, 2007

CNBC MILLION DOLLAR PORTFOLIO

This was the last week of the contest. I finished in the top 11% with a total portfolio value of $1,149,412.73 and surpassed my goal of $1,138,361.24.

I had a total return of 14.9%, which I think is pretty good for someone with no training in the field. I went with my feelings many times, a few times I picked stocks in good, sound companies, and other times, I picked familiar companies such as Coca Cola, Microsoft and Walgreens.

It's been fun. There's a second chance contest starting on Monday in which I hope to participate. All in all, I'm proud of my results. I made my goal most weeks. If I had been playing against the celebrities, I would have finished in 4th place.

Thursday, May 10, 2007

Cats

I have two cats, Crash and Burn. Crash is a little princess, she won't eat from her dish if Burnie has been or is near it.

Burnie is a very curious cat. Today, he wanted to look out the back door so he sat by the door and meowed over and over until I opened the inside door for him. Later in the day, after I closed the door, he still wanted to look out so he tried climbing on the curtain. He didn't get far when he pulled the curtain off the door and scared himself.

Then, because he was frightened, he had a coughing fit. The strange thing about his coughing is that he stopped when I picked him up, but when I put him on the floor he continued with his coughing.

I got him because when he saw the door open, he ran right into the house. Kind of like the man who came to dinner and never left.

Wednesday, May 9, 2007

INTERNATIONAL WEIRD BUT TRUE

A British granny will stay in jail a month more because she refuses to apologize for shouting at neighbors and hitting them with her walking stick. She was first sentenced to six months in prison for violating an Anti-Social Behavior Order, but that had been reduced by two months. However, a judge said that her refusal to say she was sorry warranted keeping her locked up for at least another month. Those British judges are tough.

A German man failed his driving test - while three times over the legal alcohol limit, police said. When the man, 27, arrived for the test in Bendorf, both his driving instructor and the examiner smelled alcohol, although he assured them he had not been drinking. His driving was rather bad, so the examiner directed him to the police station without his noticing according to a police spokesman. Once there, he had to get out and take an alcohol test, which revealed he was well over the limit. I guess he didn't know you have to wait until after you get your license to celebrate.

A Canadian home will no longer receive mail because a postal carrier is frightened by a "very threatening cat". A Canada Post spokeswoman said the carrier feared for her safety after seeing the 8-year old, declawed, black feline. Its owner said the ban is "ridiculous", adding that his kitty "liked to eat and sleep and cuddle". Just one big lovable ball of fur.

Tuesday, May 8, 2007

Latest Terror Plot

This morning I heard the news that the FBI had uncovered a potential attack on our soldiers at Ft. Dix. They did a good job uncovering evidence and checking everything. But the real credit belongs to the clerk at the photo store.

One of the arrested group brought a video tape to the store to be transferred to CD. The clerk felt that the video was suspicious and reported it.

We have some of the finest investigative procedures and investigators in the world, but it took a video store clerk to discover this plot. Wasn't a similar plot uncovered in December 1999 when an alert border guard noticed that a driver was nervous. That driver had the chemicals to make explosives in his car.

Why all the concern about phone tapping and profiling. The average alert citizen does as good a job without all the sophisticated equipment. Like they say in NYC, "If you see something, say something".

Monday, May 7, 2007

French Election

Congratulations to the French people. They have a new president. And, he's conservative. He promised to reduce the welfare rolls and improve employment. Let's hope he can do it. Congratulations to him.

The best part of this election is the fact that 85% of the eligible voters came out. That's probably twice the amount of Americans who vote. We should be ashamed of our turnout.

Oh, and he's a fan of America.

Saturday, May 5, 2007

Words

I've always been particular about grammar, spelling and the use of words. My secretarial training enforced this.

There are certain words and phrases that when used improperly drive me crazy. The most common combination is, "different than" when it should be "different from". I don't remember how this was drilled into me in elementary school, or what method was used by Sister, but I cringe whenever someone says, "different than".

The other day I was listening to John Gambling on the radio. Several times in discussing the Republican debate he mentioned the podiums. I was so tempted to call his show to inform him that the plural of podium is podia, but I couldn't because I was driving my car.

Another phrase that annoys me is, "between you and I". You would say, "between us", not "between we". "I" should be "me" which is the objective case.

The word "healthy" is misused when referring to food. Healthy is defined as having good health, showing or resulting from good health. Food that is good for you is "healthful".

I could go on and on with these examples, but I'll end with a few words I heard on TV. Someone was describing where they had been with the words, "had went".

Friday, May 4, 2007

CNBC MILLION DOLLAR PORTFOLIO

Today is Friday and I'm glad to report that it's been a very good week. The Dow was up a total of 143.68 on the week and it keeps setting records. I've done pretty well too.

Last week my goal was to end in the top 10%, which I did, with a total value of $1,128,368.50. I finished the week with a total of $1,132,861.24. Most of my increased money comes from the Bonus Bucks. I've been able to research and find the answers to most of the questions and win the maximum amount. Occasionally, I've been able to make a lucky guess and get the answer right without the research.

I've locked in a few gains, but I can't bring myself to sell my losers, and there are a few. Since I can't think of anything else to buy, I guess there's no harm in holding the losers as long as they don't go down any further.

Next week, I'd like to move to the top 9% with a total value of $1,138,361.24. As long as the Dow continues to rise I'll be OK.

Wednesday, May 2, 2007

Exercise

I've been talking for quite a while about my lack of exercise since I retired and today I realized how much walking I did when working and how little I do now.

I know I walked quite a bit from the train to the office each morning, I usually walked about 1/2 hour at lunch time and again in the evening. I had forgotten about the stairs. The subway station is about three levels below ground. I now live in a ranch style house, the roads in my community are level. I never climb stairs unless I ride the subway.

Today I went into the city to meet a friend for lunch. I was reminded about the stairs when I got off the train. After the first flight my knees began to hurt, by the time I got to the street, I was winded. It was quite enlightening. I hate to admit it, but I'm out of shape.

I've got to do more walking. I don't know where I'll find stairs, but I've got to. No wonder I gained 30 pounds when I retired.

Tuesday, May 1, 2007

Binge Drinking

This morning I read an article in the WALL STREET JOURNAL on binge drinking. Not the binge drinking we normally think about, but the type we unknowingly engage in as a matter of course.

This article stated that glasses, like most everything else, have been supersized. Because of this, we often fill the glass not realizing how much we're pouring. Tara Parker-Pope, the author of this article, suggested an experiment. She suggested you take your favorite wine or beer glass and use water to estimate drink size.

I tried this with my usual wine glass. I filled it half full, the way I usually do with wine. I then poured the water into a measuring cup and found that I had 8 ounces of water, almost twice the standard serving of 5 ounces. I then tried this with a cocktail glass. That glass only took 4 ounces, probably because it's a glass from the '30's.

I'm so glad that I usually only have one glass of wine with dinner.