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Wednesday, August 29, 2007

ALASKA

Monday I had an Alaskan adventure. I visited a dog sled camp and had a ride in a vehicle pulled by a team of dogs. It was a short ride, but very exciting. We were in the woods on a narrow road. The musher was in back and gave commands to the lead dog.

The dogs work very hard. We also saw some puppies. Everyone else held a puppy, but I declined because dogs aren’t like cats, they don’t jump and land on their feet and I was afraid I would just drop him.

We also had a short presentation by Hugh Neff who finished 18th in the last Iditarod. When they are racing, the dogs consume 10,000 calories a day and wear booties to protect their feet from the ice and snow.

There have other adventures, a whale watch, Hubbard Glacier, Russian Dancers. There is not enough time to do everything and still write about it.

Friday, August 24, 2007

TRAFFIC LIGHTS & PIGEONS

It's a beautiful day in the neighborhood! I took a walk this morning and noticed a huge difference between New Yorkers and Seattleites.



I'm from New York where crossing the street and dodging pigeons are olympic type events. In New York, the "Don't Walk" sign is merely a suggestion. Here it is a command. New Yorkers traditionally cross the street if there is at least 6" between them and the oncoming traffic. Here, the pedestrians dutifully wait until the light changes and we are allowed to walk. On earlier trips, I would ignore the signs and cross if nothing was coming until my son told me that the police issue tickets for jaywalking. Not wanting to get a ticket, I've changed my ways even if I do get antsy waiting for the light to change.



Now about the pigeons. I was enjoying myself watching the sand sculptors do their magic when I noticed that the pigeons were getting agitated because their space was being invaded by all those tourists. Knowing the habits of pigeons, I decided to leave the area very quickly so as to give them one less target.

Seattle

Today in Seattle, the sun was shining and according to the weather reports, it was raining back home.

I took a walk early in the day and saw that there are having a Sand Fest this weekend sponsored by Starbucks. There were a few artists making their sculptures. They were quite good. Here are a few samples.

It's hard to believe these were made of sand. The only problem now is hoping it doesn't rain before Saturday.

Thursday, August 23, 2007

VACATION

Here I am in Seattle, on my way to Alaska. I tried something different on this trip.

I flew First Class. It's another world. I had a delicious chicken dinner, salad and chocolate cake for dessert. I could also have anything I wanted to drink.

All this for $10.00 round trip.l All I had to do was cash in some miles. If only every trip was like this.

Tuesday, August 21, 2007

Rule Breeaking

After 12 years of Catholic school teaching by those good Nuns and a lifetime obeying the rules which are for my own good of course, I have become a Senior Sneak.


After all, it really isn't my fault. The lifeguards at our pool are often late. They should be at the pool by 7:45 am the latest since the pool opens at 8:00 am. Lately, they have not been arriving until 8:20 or 8:30 am, so, the other Senior Sneaks and I have been using the old credit card in the lock trick to "break into" our pool and swim without a lifeguard and "at our own risk".


It's not as if the lifeguards do anything. Often, they step away from the pool for a cigarette or they spend the time reading or on their phones. Some of them even wear their sunglasses and I think they may be sleeping behind those lenses.

The first time I went to the pool without a lifeguard I felt so guilty I could only stay for a little while. I kept expecting someone (I don't know who) would come and chastise us, or even worse we would get detention. Who knew that breaking the laws would get easier as time went on. I'm on my way to a life of sneaking around, next, I'll probably eat in one of the off-limits rooms, or even not clean up after myself.

Monday, August 20, 2007

TV's Funniest

I was just watching a program showing the 30 funniest moments from the last 60 years on TV. It was good to see some of the clips again - Tim Conway as the clumsy dentist and Harvey Korman as his patient. I remember watching the Carol Burnett Show and hoping to see Tim and Harvey together in a skit. Tim always managed to break up Harvey. Another great scene was their spoof of GONE WITH THE WIND, which they called WENT WITH THE WIND. Carol as Scarlett O'Hara makes a dress from the draperies. The line was priceless, "Thank you, I saw it in a window and just had to have it."

There were other good clips, some which I saw when they originally aired. Bob Newhart made a great happy drunk ordering food. Who can forget when Sammy Davis, Jr. appeared on All in the Family and kissed Archie? Or when Raymond's parents backed their car into the house.

Some of my favorites were missing though. There was one time on the Carol Burnett Show when Tim Conway played a young man who was allergic to cats and went to the doctor for treatment. After receiving a shot to build resistance to the allergans, Tim took on the mannerisms of a cat - washing his face with his hand, jumping on furniture, etc.

Tonight's show said that a Chris Rock routine was the funniest. My vote would go to the Bob Newhart Show's final episode. This is the series where Bob is the owner of an inn in Vermont. In the final episode, he wakes up from a dream and tells his wife Emily (from the first series in Chicago) about the weird dream he just had about the characters from Vermont.

I think I watch too much television.

Sunday, August 19, 2007

A Murder Mystery

Today I went to a murder mystery luncheon at the local Charlie Brown's Restaurant. The cast were members of Without A Cue Productions and they were terrific.

The story involved an Egyptologist, his alcholic wife, his arch rival and wife's lover and an Egyptian assistant. It started with the Egyptologist recording his problems in his diary. His biggest problem was the lack of pencils. The jokes and puns went on from there. It's hard to remember them all. They even included a play on the Hope/Crosby Pattiecake routine as a means of escape. At the end, the audience was given a chance to determine who murdered the wife and one lucky person received a prize. Of course, I wasn't that lucky person. I didn't even pick the right murderer. (Jessica Fletcher would be ashamed of me.)

The show was well done, the food was delicious. The restaurant did a wonderful job of serving during intermissions. My only complaint is that they overlooked my table when it came to serving coffee, at least I didn't miss dessert.

Friday, August 17, 2007

Recognition

The other day I was at a meeting in our community when a woman approached me by name. She then introduced herself and said she recognized me from our block party. I didn't remember her.

She also said that she enjoyed my articles in our newspaper on my travels. I felt so good. It's nice to receive some acknowledgment for something I've done. Makes me want to travel some more.

Thursday, August 16, 2007

TOY RECALL, PART II

The other day I saw another news conference on the recent toy recall. It had already started when I tuned in. Evidently there was a discussion about the loose magnets on some of the toys. The woman who was leading the conference was discussing the danger of the loose magnets. She said that when two are swallowed, they attract each other and may form a blockage in the intestines.

Evidently, there is no danger when one is swallowed.

I know this is a very serious matter, but I got a mental picture of a child who has swallowed a magnet being pulled and stuck to the refrigerator.

Tuesday, August 14, 2007

#10

Phil Rizzuto died today. Even though I lived in Queens, I was a Yankee fan. My father took me to many games and he would patiently walk around the stadium after the game in case I was lucky enough to see one of the players.

Phil Rizzuto was a great shortstop and according to the reports I heard today, a great man. Listening to the various tributes today, I suddenly felt very old. I remember the player who became an announcer, but most of the people interviewed today remember the announcer who, somewhere in the past was a player.

Most of my old Yankees are gone now - Casey, Mickey, Billy and now Phil. Time marches on.

They say celebrities' deaths come in threes. Sunday - Merv Griffin, Monday - Brooke Astor and today Phil Rizzuto. I guess they're right.

Monday, August 13, 2007

NANNY STATE, PART II

Today I heard that some companies are thinking of fining overweight employees, or worse yet, not hiring overweight candidates in the first place. Their excuse is that obese employees take more time off for weight related illnesses.

This is just wrong. I'm very overweight and when I was working I rarely took time off. In fact, during a company sponsored physical exam, the doctor had to look long and hard to find something wrong with me. Even now, as a senior citizen, I take no medication and the last cold I had was three years ago. I can't take any credit for this, I have good genes, but because of a number I would be passed over for a job.

In another case, I heard that the bakeries in Putnam County routinely give day old pastries and doughnuts to senior citizen centers. The powers that be in these centers have decided not to take these baked goods because, they decided, the pastries and doughnuts are not good for the adults. Senior citizens are adults and as such should be allowed to make the decision whether or not they want these baked goods.

Sunday, August 12, 2007

Educating Baby

Just this week I heard the results of yet another study of early childhood development. The new findings show that babies exposed to the series of Baby Einstein tapes and dvd's are slower in their verbal development. I also found out today that this series is visual, there is no talking.

I never really bought into the idea that propping a baby in front of a tv would make them smarter, but I thought it was because sometimes I'm resistant to change. I still prefer Big Bird to Barney.

I also believe there is no substitute for actually playing with and talking to your baby. That's how they learn. When my son was about 2 or 3, I decided he should learn the alphabet. But I didn't want him to parrot the ABC's, or worse, learn from the tv. I thought of a game using his Playskool mailbox. I printed the letters on index cards and would lay them out on the table, tell him the names of the letters and then tell him to mail the m, or e, or w. He may not have know the exact order of the letters, but he could recognize them and he learned to read at a very early age.

My unsolicited advice to parents is to throw out the tapes and dvd's and talk to you child. Make him aware of this wonderful world of colors, shapes, sounds, and read to him, everynight even if you're so used to the story that you don't need the book anymore.

Friday, August 10, 2007

Coffe

Last night I had dinner with a good friend and, over a glass of wine, we discussed our second favorite beverage - coffee.

I mentioned that I take my coffee black because when I add milk I can feel my heart racing. It doesn't make sense that I can drink cups and cups of black coffee, but add milk and I have to stop at one. That made me think.

Maybe it's not the caffeine that affects people, maybe it's the added milk and sugar. Afterall, any teacher will tell you that excess sugar makes children hyper.

I'm beginning to think that my completely unscientific theory ranks up there with my mother's. Her feeling was that it was the ice in a drink that makes you sick, not the amount of liquor. Am I becoming my mother?

Wednesday, August 8, 2007

Rain vs. Pool

Today I went for my water exercise class. During the class, it started to rain, not like the rain they had in the city, this was a quick shower. When it started to rain, most of the class asked that the windows be closed. Then someone realized the absurdity of worrying about rain when in a pool. Someone asked for an umbrealla because she didn't want to get wet. We all laughed about that.

That got me thinking. Why are we afraid of a little rain and getting wet when we are already wet. I think we've all been so conditioned to use an umbrella or come in out of the rain that we don't think about our surroundings.

I must admit, I fell into that trap also. When I saw the clouds, I went back into the house for an umbrella so I wouldn't get wet in the rain when I was coming home in my wet bathing suit.

Tuesday, August 7, 2007

Fisher-Price Recall

I was very disappointed when I heard the news last week that Fisher-Price was recalling many toys because of high amounts of lead in the paint.

Fisher-Price was always the epitome of quality in children's toys. If you had a toy from Fisher-Price, you knew it would never break, you might have to get rid of it because of lost parts, or your child outgrew it.

Their customer service was excellent. When my son was about 3, he received the Fisher-Price Circus Train for Christmas. Around that time we also got a puppy who was a chewer. The dog chewed all the animals and I had to write a letter to Santa Claus asking him to replace the animals. Fisher-Price promptly replaced them, at a small price.

I guess the quality of the product started when they moved the manufacturing overseas to save a few dollars. I think the move may prove more costly. As far as I'm concerned, their reputation has been damaged.

Monday, August 6, 2007

Walking more damaging than driving

This morning on the John Gambling Show I heard about an article from THE TIMES in London. Chris Goodall, auther of "How to Live a Low Carbon Life" and Green Party parliamentary candidate, is the latest serious thinker to add his two cents to the global warming controversy.


Mr. Goodall believes that walking does more than driving to cause global warming. Food production is so energy-intensive that more carbon is emitted providing a person with enough calories to walk to the shops than a car would emit over the same distance. The climate could benefit if people avoided exercise, ate less and became couch potatoes, provided they remembered to switch off the TV.


The full article can be reached at http://www.timesonline.co.uk/, then click on UK, then on Science. The title of the article is WALKING TO THE SHOPS 'DAMAGES PLANET MORE THAN GOING BY CAR'. Hope you can access it.

There are some interesting items in this article, such as trees, regarded as shields against global warming because they absorb carbon were found by German scientists to be major producers of methane, a much more harmful greenhouse gas.

The answer seems to be just sit on your couch, eat less but eat locally grown food and carry it home from the supermarket in paper bags in your car.

That article gave me the inspiration to cancel my exercise class today. I've done my part to save the planet.

Sunday, August 5, 2007

New York City History

I'm always clipping or printing articles that I plan on reading some day. Today was some day. I threw most of the articles away, but found one very interesting. On July 4th of this year, the NEW YORK DAILY NEWS ran an article on the top revolutionary war sites in New York City. Here are a few of them.



RICHMOND TOWN in Staten Island. This is a 25 acre historic village and museum complex that includes Treasure House where British officers hid gold coins in the walls and Christopher House where local patriots and spies met to organize against British rule.



CITY HALL in downtown Manhattan. This is at the edge of an area known as The Common where the Declaration of Independence was read for the first time on July 9, 1776. Upon hearing the reading, people toppled a 4,000 pound lead statue of King George and melted it down to make 41,000 musket balls, which were used against the British.



GLOVER'S ROCK in Pelham Bay Park in the Bronx. This site marks the Battle of Pell's Point on October 18, 1776. Although outnumbered, Col. John Glover and his brigade of 843 "Marbleheaders" held off 4,000 British soldiers so that George Washington could escape to White Plains.



PRISON SHIP MARTYRS MONUMENT in Fort Greene Park, Brooklyn. Americans captured at Fort Washington were marched down to the city and into British prisons. An estimated 11,000 American prisoners died on overcrowded prison ships. Their bodies were buried in shallow graves along the shore and the remains were eventually gathered and placed in the crypt in this monument.



I've listed just four of the ten sites mentioned in this article, but I'm disappointed that there is no mention of any revolutionary event in Queens. I'm sure there must be something. I do know that Rufus King, although originally from Massachusetts and a signer of the Constitution, was one of the first senators from New York and had a home in Jamaica on what is now Jamaica Ave.

Surely, Queens had more involvement in the revolution. I'll have to keep checking.

Friday, August 3, 2007

Adventures in Driving

This morning I had to take my car in for service and to have them take a look at a slow leak in my tire. I knew the tire was getting low, but I thought I could make it to the dealer. About halfway there I realized that I had lost about half of my tire and was riding on the rim.

I pulled over to the side of the road and called for road service. I'm so happy I have a cell phone, it really came in handy. There are no phone booths on country roads. About 8 of about 30 drivers stopped to see if I needed help. They were all women. Someone, however, called the police. The officer stayed with me until the tire changer got there.

Everyone was very helpful and I had a nice chat with the police officer about the types of calls they get. Suburban or country people are so different from city people. Here in this small town, some people find it necessary to call 911 for directions or gestures from other drivers.

I finally got to the dealer and instead of getting some air or fixing my tire, I had to get a new tire, at least I didn't have to replace the rim. If that ever happens again, I'll either change the tire as soon as it looks low, or stop and get air.

Thursday, August 2, 2007

Street Paving

Some people are never satisfied.

My community is fairly new, only about half of the proposed homes are completed. Since there is so much construction going on, the streets have not been permanently paved. As a result, the manhole covers are raised a couple of inches above the road. Naturally, everyone is complaining about this. It makes driving very difficult, we have to swerve to avoid them.

Now, some of the older streets are getting their permanent paving. Those streets will be closed so the work can be done. The job will take about four days and only certain streets will be closed each day. Now, I'm hearing complaints about the street closures. They want to know how long the street will be closed, how can they get in and out of the community, etc.

You would think they would be glad to be getting their street paved and no longer having the manhole covers raised, but no. I wonder how they expected the street paving without a little inconvenience.

Wednesday, August 1, 2007

The Nanny State

Nanny Bloomberg is still trying to convince us that only he knows what's best for us.

Now his public health crusade is taking on the baby bottle. Usually, when a new mother leaves the hospital with her baby, she receives a gift bag containing various baby supplies including free formula samples. Now, the Health and Hospitals Corp. has decided that their 11 hospitals will no longer give out formula, instead the bag will be stuffed with disposable nursing pads and a mini-cooler for breast-milk bottles. They seem to think that breast milk is the only thing that babies should drink and that's the only way to bond. A mother can bond with her baby just by holding him and feeding a bottle.

The other case involves the 9/11 Tributes. Mayor Bloomberg has decided that it wouldn't be safe because of the construction at Ground Zero, and that the ceremonies will take place in a park next to the site. I'm sure that on that day, construction will stop. After all, you can't have all the noise of construction while the names of the victims are being read. I don't think the park is large enough to accommodate all the family members who will be there. I also think it would be good to show that we are coming back from that attack. We are rebuilding.