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Tuesday, October 30, 2007

Weird but True

It's time for some more weird news.

The Malaysian Health Ministry Secretary has advised senior citizens to take up video games as a way to help fend off Alzheimer's disease. He said that senior citizens should engage in mental activities by using the Play Station 3 or some other computer or video games as a way to keep alert. Anyone for Letter Linker or Free Cell or Bounce Out?

Dozens of robots took to an indoor field in Tokyo and played soccer at the "Robot Athletic Meet 2007" recently. It's only a matter of time before they catch up with humans and outrun us. They're going to take us over, hide the batteries.

A team of mountaineers built a Jacuzzi at the summit of Mount Blanc. They rigged a wood-burning fire to melt the ice and heat the makeshift spa. One of the climbers said it was freezing working against the wind, but they got to enjoy it in the end. They had champagne at 15,000 feet.

Here's a great Christmas gift. A jewelry store in China has created the ultimate in lingerie - a two piece set made entirely of gold. It took a team of four goldsmiths four months to make the intricate bra and undies . The owner of the store said it's for demonstration, not sale.

Monday, October 29, 2007

A Pleasant Surprise

I'm getting ready for another trip. I can't call it another vacation because I'm retired and every day is a vacation. But I digress.

I was checking out a pocketbook I took on my last trip and looking into all the various pockets. For some reason I don't understand I left quite a bit of money in it. It was quite a surprise. It's better than putting your winter coat away and leaving $5 in one of the pockets, then finding it again the next year. I often try to do that with my pocketbooks, but I didn't think I did it this time.

Now I have a little extra cash for my next trip.

Saturday, October 27, 2007

Media Interference

This week most of us have heard the story of Lt. Michael Murphy who was awarded our country's Congressional Medal of Honor posthumously. His story has been told by Marcus Luttrell a Navy SEAL who served with Lt. Murphy in Afganistan.


In the early part of their mission in 2005 they came upon three Afgani goatherders. These goatherders were not at all friendly to the Americans. The members of Lt. Murphy's team took a vote to decide whether or not to release the goatherders or do the militarily wise thing and kill them as possible enemies. Marcus Luttrell was the deciding vote to release the goatherders. Mr. Luttrell said in his book LONG SURVIVOR that he voted for release because he could envision that the headlines in the United States papers would say that we were killing civilians without even knowing the circumstances. And he regrets it to this day. We don't know for sure that the released goatherders let the Taliban know where the Americans were, but it is possible.


We also learned recently that when three U.S. soldiers were kidnapped the efforts to start a rescue mission were stalled for nearly 10 hours while lawyers discussed the legal grounds for wiretapping the suspects. Under recent interpretations, fourth amendment rights against unlawful government searches of American citizens were extended to foreigners, including suspected terrorists, because the copper wires and fiber optics that carry their conversations and e-mail traffic go through major hubs in the United States.


It's a shame that our military cannot do their jobs without worrying about what the press will say.

Friday, October 26, 2007

Mom

There's a very good video on You Tube. Anita Renfroe is a very clever writer and mom. This says it all.



http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=o6P2w5GkXmU

Thursday, October 25, 2007

Old Friends

Today I went back to New York for lunch with two friends from school. What started out as lunch ended up as a full day of gabbing and laughing. I'm so glad I've been able to reconnect with my classmates. We all get along so well, it's hard to believe we hadn't been in contact for such a long time. I'm looking forward to the next time we can get together for some more laughs and reminiscences.

Old friends are the best friends.

Wednesday, October 24, 2007

Success

Well, the luncheon is over and I must modestly say it was a success. Everything came together at the right time and my committee all cooperated. Of course, I was my usual self and doing as much as I could on my own.

On my way to pick up the food, all I could think of was that the food would not be ready, they cancelled my order, etc. Fortunately the caterer was very professional and everything was ready as promised.

In spite of all my worries, it felt great to be in charge of an event again. It brought back all my memories of planning annual meetings, ski meetings, golf outings, etc. I felt like I was back at work again. It felt wonderful, but I wouldn't want to go back to the old 9-5 routine again. Being retired is great, but maybe I could have a second career as a party planner.

Now that this event is behind me I can start finalizing my plans for my vacation next week. Ah! It's good to be retired.

Monday, October 22, 2007

Discovery

Tomorrow night, our Singles Club will have elections for the coming year. I'm so happy. My term as president is over. It's been a wonderful experience, but also, a lot of work. Do you know how hard it is to get 30 women to stop talking?

It's also been a year of self-discovery. I've been president of other organizations and held other positions as well. I now realize that although I like running the show, I'm actually a better worker than a leader. It all goes back to my inability to delegate. Somewhere in my mind I have the opinion that no one can do a job as well as I can, so I wind up taking over. I guess they call that "micro-managing".

I'm still going to be an officer, but now I'll be treasurer. It will be so much easier working with numbers, especially when those numbers mean money.

Sunday, October 21, 2007

AS TIME GOES BY

About two years ago I started watching a British sitcom called AS TIME GOES BY. It's the story of Jean, a nurse played by Judi Dench, and Lionel, a soldier played by Geoffrey Palmer, who were lovers during the Korean War and were separated when letters were lost.

They meet again 50 years later when Lionel hires a temporary secretary from Jean's agency. Since I started watching in the middle of this series, I've always been curious about their meeting and rekindling of their relationship. Now, PBS has started reruns of this series from the beginning.

This week's show has them returning to a town near the army camp where they first met. Of course, after 50 years everything has changed and the people they meet are all much younger than they. They finally find an inn where they had dinner and then spent the night. Lionel suggests that they spend the night and arranges for a room. Jean, however, doesn't think the time is right, so they each go their respective homes.

There are no obvious jokes, but I find myself laughing at the situations and comments. The characters are very interesting and very British. What I found so refreshing about this show is that Jean and Lionel did not immediately jump into bed after their first date, although you can see that the feeling is still there.

I look forward to that show every week.

Friday, October 19, 2007

Joe Torre

The big news around here today was the fact that Joe Torre told the Yankees and George Steinbrenner that he wasn't interested in the contract they offered. I don't really blame him, there were a lot of strings attached to a one year contract. Even with a contract, there's no guarantee that Steinbrenner won't get up one day and decide to fire Joe, and then a few days later decide to rehire him.

For 12 years, Joe Torre was a great manager. The Yankees seemed to always be in the playoffs. What I found surprising was the amount of people, even some players, who seemed to be on his side. I guess for a lot of people, he's the only Yankee manager they've known.

He is a native New Yorker, his family is here. His sister was the principal of a school in the Woodhaven/Ozone Park area.

I wish him lots of luck in whatever he chooses to do.

Thursday, October 18, 2007

Planning & Delegating

Our group is planning a luncheon and games afternoon for about 70 people. It was my bright idea to chair the event. It should be an easy thing to do, but I have a problem with delegating. Usually, I feel that I have to do everything.

I'm having a final meeting tomorrow morning and I thought everything was ready. Then I pulled the file that was supposed to have my agenda. I even delegated some jobs for everyone along with the times for them to come. I found the file, but the agenda was gone. I remember typing it, but I must have forgotten to save it. I had to re-type it and plan everyone's jobs and schedule.

I hope this isn't an omen and that everything goes well next week. They say, "Pride goes before a fall", I hope I don't fail with this luncheon.

Wednesday, October 17, 2007

Community Meetings

I just got back from a meeting of our community association where we got a first look at the proposed budget for 2008. Of course, our maintenance will be going up and of course, there were complaints about amounts budgeted.

Some of the people proposed that we had too much in the budget for snow removal and for a lifestyle administrator. If we eliminated these expenses, our maintenance would be reduced by the large sum of $5.00. What they don't consider is that if we have a hard winter, next year we would be hit with a large bill to cover those expenses.

I also think some people just want to hear themselves talk. One question was clearly answered and someone asked it again.

I never stayed to the end, it just got too boring.

Tuesday, October 16, 2007

Homes

I have got to stop watching House Hunters. That's one of my favorite shows, but it's making me dissatisfied with my present home.

Some of the homes they show are just beautiful, and in some parts of the country, homes twice the size of mine cost the same as mine and the taxes are much lower. Those are the times I look around and see that my kitchen should be twice its size and have at least two times as many cabinets. I would love to have a walk-in pantry instead of my small one.

I also see those homes on large lots, not the small one I have. I'm so close to my neighbors that I have to have curtains or blinds on my windows for some privacy. The best part of my home in upstate NY was the yard and the visiting family of deer. There were five of them at times.

I really have a nice home, and the best part of the community is the clubhouse and activities available to me. I've made a lot of friends and am very involved here, but....

Maybe someday I'll move to a bigger house on one to two acres that are visited by wildlife. Until then, I'll just sit back and enjoy my home and my friends.

Sunday, October 14, 2007

Knives

Yesterday I went to the local mall. I drove there more cautiously than I have ever driven. When I got there, I went straight to Sur La Table without stopping at any of the other stores. The reason for my caution? In October, Sur La Table will sharpen two knives for free. I had a 12"kitchen knife in my pocketbook.

On the drive to the mall, I kept wondering what would happen if I were pulled over for a traffic infraction and the knife fell out of my bag. How would I explain it? I got to chatting with the saleswoman at the store and told her how I felt. She said I wasn't alone, most people take great pains to hide the knives. There was one exception though. She said there was a man who held his knife up against his chest in clear view and kept saying, "I'm going to Sur La Table, I'm going to Sur La Table, ..." while walking through the mall. We agreed behavior like that wouldn't be so reassuring and it's better to hide the knife.

At least when I pick it up tomorrow, it will be wrapped in the store's paper and bag. And the knife will be just like new.

Friday, October 12, 2007

A New York Experience

There are some things or people you don't give up just because you move from a neighborhood. One of those is my hairdresser. She does a wonderful job on both the cut and the color.

I always feel like I'm going to confession when I say it's been six weeks or two months since my last cut. Today it was two months so I drove up to Queens. While I was sitting there getting my touch up, the smoke alarm went off. While one of the hairdressers tried to stop the constant ringing of the alarm, the rest of us just kept doing what we were doing. I was concerned that the alarm might be wired into the fire station and I might have to evacuate the place with my hair half done. Fortunately, that didn't happen, and there was no fire.

The alarm finally stopped, but I was remined that that was typical New York. One time I was in a movie theater with a friend when we saw firemen coming down the aisle. No one wanted to leave until the movie was over, only one person left her seat and that was because the sprinkler went off and she got wet. My friend even suggested that we leave by the door that was nearest the firemen because she likes men in uniform.

We don't get upset by these alarms. We're so used to them from cars, fire engines, police cars, ambulances, we don't even notice, except to get annoyed by the noise. I'm sure, if there had been smoke or flames, we would have left (I think).

Wednesday, October 10, 2007

CRICKETS, PART II

Yesterday I heard another cricket, this time in the garage. It's beginning to look like an invasion.


Tonight, I noticed that Crash and Burn weren't hovering around me like they usually do. I went looking for them and found them in the kitchen around the stove. It seems the kitchen cricket ventured out of his hiding place, probably to look for food. Both cats were fascinated, they were just watching the cricket. It was left to me to get several paper towels, pick up the cricket, run it under water and throw it out.


I always thought that cats were natural hunters, I think these two are the exceptions. They even seem annoyed that I took their "friend" away from them.


In case you're keeping score on the cricket hunt, it's Cats 0, Mom 2.

Tuesday, October 9, 2007

Shrinking Deficit

According to today's WALL STREET JOURNAL, our economy is doing very well. Since 2004, deficit spending has fallen by $251 billion, one of the most rapid three year declines in our history. The deficit as a share of the economy is down to 1.2%, about half the average of the last 50 years.

The IRS received a record $2.568 trillion in taxes in 2007, or 6.7% more than in 2006. Federal receipts have climbed by $785 billion since the 2003 investment tax cuts. Also, in fiscal 2007 the growth in federal spending was slower.

Unfortunately, this may not last. Congress is already planning to spend $35 billion in expanding the children's health program, $286 billion on a five-year farm bill, $23 billion in water projects and $22 billion in non-defense discretionary spending.

The best lesson here is that the best antidote for deficits is faster growth, not tax increases. The budget deficit has declined quicker in this decade after the Bush tax cuts than it did in the 1990's under the Clinton tax increases.

To quote Larry Kudlow, our economy is "The Greatest Story Never Told", and I thank him for trying to get the word out.

Monday, October 8, 2007

An Obituary

Today, while paging through our local paper, I did something I rarely do. I saw an obituary that was two columns long. I just had to read it.

Mary Alene Tilley Haithcock was 101 when she died at her own home. She was born and raised on a farm in North Carolina where she had no running water. She had to walk down to the nearest creek to draw water, she had no indoor plumbing, all cooking was done from scratch. Walking for miles was the norm and sunlight, candlelight and kerosene were the only source of light that she worked and read by. Her only food was what was raised or grown on the farm. Clothes were handmade. She witnessed the first radios, automobiles, airplanes and all the other firsts that we now take for granted.

At the age of 100, she converted to the Roman Catholic Faith. She raised three children, one of whom became a professor of English and another founded Madonna House which helps poor and needy children. She was know for her poetry, music, flower gardens and artistic abilities.

She had a long and wonderful life. I don't know this woman or her family, but I wish I had, She seemed like a warm, loving and optimistic person.

Sunday, October 7, 2007

Crickets

Earlier this summer I had a cricket in the house. He was somewhere in my kitchen, around the stove. After about two days, he ventured out of hiding and Crash, the great hunter that she is, meowed gently and stared at it until I picked it up and disposed of it.

Now, there's another one. About three weeks ago I heard his clicking, it's very annoying and very loud. Again he was hiding around the stove. His clicking stopped after a few days and I was relieved and felt that he probably died. Then it started up again, stronger than ever. Every few days it gets strong, then a couple of days later, it gets weak. Now, it's getting very weak, hopefully it will find its way out, or die. I just hope it's only one cricket and not a family.

I've heard that in some cultures, having a cricket in the house is good luck. This is the kind of luck I can do without.

Friday, October 5, 2007

Insecurities

The past two night I've had dinner with friends. They are all very friendly, nice, sociable and accomplished people.

Some of us though share a problem. We're reluctant to make the first move to invite someone for dinner or lunch, or even a shopping trip. We've all kept this pretty much to ourselves, but for some reason, this week we've decided to share.

I have this problem too. I just assume that when I extend an invitation, the answer will be, "No". The other day I invited someone to dinner. When she said she couldn't make it on the day I suggested, I changed the day to suit her schedule.

What is wrong with us, why are we so insecure. You'd think that once you've been in this world for 50+ years, you would have enough self-confidence to go ahead and invite people and expect that they will say, "Yes, I'd be delighted to join you".

It's hard to make that phone call, but the reward is great.

Thursday, October 4, 2007

Lately I've been watching reruns of WHO'S THE BOSS. I always thought it was a good fun show. I used to watch it often when it was originally on.

Tonight's show was one of the few I've missed. In it, Tony reminisces about his grandfather and the grandfather's dream to become an American citizen. Even though he had passed the written test, his swearing in had to be postponed because Tony had gotten into a little trouble. To make the story more interesting, the writers had the grandfather die before he could reschedule another time for swearing in. Of course, it all worked out in the end, Tony and Angela begged a judge to grant citizenship posthumously, which he did.

I started thinking about this. If this show were written today, would the grandfather have had such a dream to become an American, or would he have kept his native language and not encouraged his grandson to work hard and follow his dream and become somebody. It's so sad that so many immigrants want all that this country offers, but they don't want to become a part of it by learning our language, celebrating our holidays, and becoming citizens. I can't wait for the pendulum to swing back.

Tuesday, October 2, 2007

Fall Cleaning

It's that time of year again. Time to put the light clothes away and take out the heavier ones. While I was doing that this year, I finally accepted the fact that I won't be going back to work and therefore won't be needing my suits. I've been holding on to them for some reason, maybe because they reminded me that I really enjoyed working, I really don't know. They don't even fit anymore.

I managed to fill two garbage bags with some of my old work clothes. I also filled three shopping bags with clothes that are good enough to donate. And I still have a full closet.

I took all the boxes out of the closet, emptied the hangers and made a complete mess of my bedroom. That made me wonder why does an attempt to clean up always create a bigger mess. Now I have to reorganize all those boxes and put them back in the closet.

Monday, October 1, 2007

Cards

We've all heard the expression, "Not playing with a full deck". Well, tonight at my weekly canasta game, we did the opposite.

We use two decks of regular playing cards for canasta. Tonight, one of the players had four Jacks, then I put four Jacks down. A comment was made that now all the Jacks were out and it would be hard to get a canasta. Then the third player chimed in saying that all the Jacks were not out since she had two. After that hand was over, we had to check all the cards. Fortunately, the Jacks were the only cards that were extra. After that everything went well and we all had a good laugh.

In spite of our playing with a full+ deck, I won, actually I slaughtered them (she said modestly).