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Thursday, February 28, 2008

William F. Buckley, 1925-2008

William F. Buckley died yesterday. He is generally considered to be the founder of Conservatism.

My first exposure to the Conservative Party was back in 1962 at the beginning of the Cuban Missile Crisis. I had gone to a rally at Madison Square Garden with a friend, the same night we heard about the missiles and President Kennedy's response. The speakers were very compelling, and at times I thought we were all going to raid Cuba.

Over the years, I have learned more about Conservativism and am now a conservative and proud of it. I've also done some reading about Bill Buckley. I read his last book, "Miles Gone By". During the reading of this book, I was fascinated by the parallels with the Kennedy's. Both families were wealthy Irish Catholic families, both families were large. The similarities ended there. The elder Buckley insisted that his children learn music and he was very much involved in their lives. It's a very good book, but it's long and can't be read in a weekend.

I loved to listen to Bill Buckley, his voice had a very interesting tone, but I must admit that it's not possible to listen to him without a dictionary nearby. His vocabulary was unbelievable and his diction impeccable.

I've put off reading his work for too long, I'll have to start now.

Wednesday, February 27, 2008

Too Old?

I recently saw an editorial in THE WALL STREET JOURNAL that asked if John McCain is too old to be president. This editorial listed the world leaders who assumed leadership of their countries when they were 60+.


Remember Winston Churchill? He was 65 when he was prime minister during the war, and when he took office again in 1951 he was 76. Konrad Adenauer became the first chancellor of West Germany when he was 73. He led his country back from the destruction of WWII. Golda Meir was 70 when she became prime minister of Israel. She addressed Palestinian terrorism and presided over Israel's victory in the Yom Kippur War. After being imprisoned for 27 years, Nelson Mandela became the first democfatically elected president of South Africa. He was 75 and his was a presidency where his nation went from apartheid to integrated democratic rule.


There was a time when I thought John McCain was too old to be president. I changed my mind when I saw that he brought his mother to one of his campaign stops. She's 96.

Tuesday, February 26, 2008

Academy Awards

If the news and ratings reports are to be believed, I'm one of the few people who watched the Oscars on Sunday.

It was an OK show, I particularly liked the film clips of previous years. Whoopi Goldberg though was miffed because she was not shown in the clips of previous hosts even though she was the first black woman to host the show and also win an Oscar. Poor Whoopi.

A lot of newscasters who don't seem to have a problem with illegal immigration and outsourcing of jobs complained that all of the top awards went to foreigners - English (2) top actor and supporting actress, French top actress and Spanish, supporting actor. There were also comments that the supporting actor spoke part of his speech in Spanish. It seems that his mother doesn't speak English, even though she lives in Spain.

There have also been comments about Diablo Cody winner of the award for best script. She is a former stripper. Doesn't the media believe in rehabilitation?

It seems that the American media and some performers are sore losers.

Monday, February 25, 2008

Found Money

Friday night when I got home from my walk, I discovered that the dollar I had in my pocket was missing. It must have fallen out when I took my key out of my pocket.


This morning as I was returning from the Clubhouse, I found the dollar on the sidewalk in front of my house. It must have fallen out and into the snow. The snow has now melted and the dollar is soggy, but still a dollar.


There could be many reasons why the dollar was still there. One of the main ones is that hardly anyone walks around here, or some of our residents don't need the money, or many of us older folks find it hard to bend down to pick something up.

Sunday, February 24, 2008

Politic

Today I heard the news that Ralph Nader has again thrown his hat into Presidential race this year. This is the fifth time he has run.

There have been many rumors circulating about potential candidates this year. Last week, I heard that, if Hillary Clinton wins the Democrat nomination, NYC Mayor Mike Bloomberg will give Barak Obama a billion dollars to run as a third party candidate and that Mike Bloomberg will be his vice president. I didn't put much stock in that rumor because I can't see Mike Bloomberg taking second place to anyone.

I wonder who else will decide to run. Ah yes, it will be a very interesting year.

Friday, February 22, 2008

Yesterday while I running some errands, I realized that Spring is only a month away. So I stopped into the local crafts store and picked up some silk flowers to put around the house. I realize that all the top decorators frown on silk flower arrangements, but I have two cats who would try to eat the real thing.


I scattered some nice arrangements around the house to bring the look of Spring home. This morning, this is what I awoke to .....























And this is yet another reason why cats make better pets than dogs.



Thursday, February 21, 2008

Manners, Part II

Today was my second day at the gym and the second lecture. No, this is not going to be a daily recitation of my progress on the treadmill. It's a comment yet again on manners, or a lack thereof.


Naturally, when meeting someone at the gym, we greet, then go on with our exercise. Today, one of the women in our singles group came in, we greeted, she asked if I was listening to something, I said yes. She then proceeded to try to chat with me about our meeting next week, a get together tomorrow, etc. Fortunately I was nearing my goal and I could stop and go home.


Why don't people accept that when one is connected to earphones and a discman that they don't want to talk, unless there is an emergency.


Or am I just a cranky old lady?

Wednesday, February 20, 2008

Education

I've got a few trips planned for later this year, and that calls for a lot of walking. I really haven't done much lately, so I decided to go back to the gym and the treadmill.

It gets boring just walking for a half hour or so and I don't really care for the tv programs that the others pick, so I recently ordered a set of cd's from The Teaching Company. For the next few weeks, I'll be getting an education in Shakespeare, his comedies, histories and tragedies. Each lecture is about 1/2 hour, so until I'm more used to working out, I'll cover one lecture a day.

Today's lecture was just an introduction and a little history of the state of the theater in England in the 1500's and 1600's. Among other things, I learned that Dame Judy Dench calls Shakespeare, "The man who pays the rent".

If this works out, I'll get more lessons and further my education. I've always enjoyed the work I did, but I do wish I had gotten a degree. There's something magical about that piece of paper. I've gone to college three times, but always stopped for one reason or another. I think part of the reason is that I don't like to sit still for too long. Now I can learn at my own pace.

Monday, February 18, 2008

Shopping

This past Saturday I went on a spending spree. I don't often do this, but I did.

First I bought a small camera that will fit into my pocketbook. I've downsized from a totebag to an over the shoulder pocketbook and my other camera doesn't quite fit. I'm the unofficial photographer of the Singles' events. The last time we went out, I was chastised for not bringing the camera, but I saved the day by taking pictures with my cell phone. The quality wasn't great, but it worked. After all, the pictures are only going into the newspaper and even the best quality looks pretty poor.

Then, I decided I wanted a slow cooker. I saw the one I really wanted, but it cost over $100 and I couldn't justify spending that much on something I won't use that much. I picked another one and this one had a bonus of a small pot that could be used for fondue, sauce, dips, etc. The price was only $49.95, but when I brought it to the register, it was on sale for $29.95.

I decided I had spent enough, but when I got home I ordered a new tv for my bedroom since the old one has muffled sound. I should get that one in about a week.

I've tried to find out why I went on such a spree. The only explanation I can come up with is the fact that I had to spend a lot to get my car repaired and I felt that I deserved to have a little fun with my money and not spend it all on repairs.

Sounds good to me

Sunday, February 17, 2008

The Fighting Sullivans

This past Christmas my son gave me "The Fighting Sullivans", one of my favorite movies. For anyone who doesn't know, it is the story of five brothers growing up in Waterloo, Iowa during the depression. The movie begins with the Baptism of each boy, then progresses through their childhood and young adulthood. The youngest is the only son to marry and have a child.


Then, Pearl Harbor. All the brothers struggle to stay together when they join the navy. They are assigned to the USS Juneau in the Pacific. There are seven sets of two brothers, one set of four brothers and the Sullivans.

As with all dvd's, this one had a lot of extras. Among them was an interview with Frank Holmgren, the last living survivor from that ship. The interview was very interesting, but I thought some of the questions were a little odd. Evidently the interviewer was very young, he didn't realize that after Pearl Harbor, people didn't think about it, they just enlisted. He kept pushing Mr. Holmgren about his feelings, "How did you feel during the battle?", "How did your parents feel?", etc. At that time, people didn't have the luxury of exploring their feelings, they just worked to survive.

I did a litte research (I just love Google) and found, according to one survivor, that George, the oldest, did not die when the ship was blown up. He was one of those in the life raft, but after four days at sea in the life raft, he was delirous and tried to swim to shore, but was attacked by sharks that were circling the rafts and waiting.

About 100 survived the sinking of the ship. Of that, only ten survived being on the water for seven days before a seaplane landed and rescued them.

So today, armed with tissues, I sat down to watch. I thoroughly enjoyed the movie and the cry. I cry every time I see it, I even cry when I think about it. I don't know why I cry, maybe it's because of that family's loss, or the loss of a simpler time.

If you don't mind a good cry and want to see a family story, I would recommend this movie. Actually this movie was the inspiration for "Saving Private Ryan".

Saturday, February 16, 2008

A Slip of the Tongue?

I must admit that I'm not a fan of the Clintons so I was not surprised to hear a clip of a radio show on which Bill Clinton called to get out the vote for Hillary. He was recounting the problems of our country and said that the solution would be to vote for him. He didn't seem to realize his slip, or was it a slip? I think he wants to get back into the White House and run the government any way he can.

Thursday, February 14, 2008

Cars

Today I finally took mySubaru in for service - 90,000 miles. I was told the car was in very good condition ...except for the catalytic converter. I thought about my options, but was told it could not be repaired or tampered with so I would have to replace it.

I was tempted to tell them I wanted to trade it in for a new car, but I'm so close to my goal of 100,000 miles so I said go ahead. When I picked my car up late this afternoon, I asked the price of the car I'd like to get and said I wouldn't buy it until I hit 100,000 miles on my present car. The salesman said that psychologically, it would be better to sell or trade in at 99,000 miles and they expect to have some good deals, rebates and discounts on the 2009's.

So, I guess I'll wait until later this year before I seriously consider a new car. In the meantime, maybe I'll take a few road trips.

Wednesday, February 13, 2008

Jon and Kate Plus Eight

This week TLC ran a marathon of Jon & Kate plus Eight. I continue to be fascinated by their story. You can see their minor annoyance with each other, and all is not perfect with the children, they act like other siblings. But, you can see the love they all have for each other. They're also very brave. Who would have the courage to take eight children under age 6 to an amusement part or zoo.


They achieved their family with fertility treatments, and are so lucky that they are living at the present time. Until as recently as 30 years ago, their only alternative to having children would have been to adopt. I'm sure we've all known a family or friend that could not have children. They either remained childless or they adopted, which can be very expensive. Now almost every couple who wants children can have childeren.


There are some abuses in fertility treatments though such as single women or women over 50 going through these treatments to have a baby or a second chance at raising children. Children deserve parents who stand a very good chance of seeing them graduate from college. In spite of the abuses, it is wonderful when a husband and wife are able to have the children they've always dreamed about.

Monday, February 11, 2008

Changing Rules

According to an editorial in today's NEW YORK POST, Hillary Clinton's advisors are trying to have the vote for delegates in Michigan and Florida count toward the nomination. Originally, because both Michigan and Florida chose to have their primaries early, the Republican National Committee removed half of the delegates from those states. The Democratic National Committee stripped both states of their delegates.

In Michigan all candidated except Senator Clinton removed their names from the ballott. Naturally, Clinton defeated uncommitteted delegates. In Florida, all Democratic candidates agreed not to campaign. This favored Clinton who was better-known and she won and had a victory rally on primary night. This was supposed to be for show.

But now the race is very tight and there is a move to recognize those two delegations. If that's done, it would definitely favor Clinton. This doesn't seem fair. It sounds like something a child would do, if he's losing, he changes the rules in the middle of the game.

Is this a sign of things to come?

Sunday, February 10, 2008

Grace

A very good friend died this past week and because of a warning light on my car and possible overheating problems, I can't go to pay my respects and say goodbye so please bear with me while I take this time to pay my respects.

She was a neighbor in Woodhaven for all the time I lived there and I knew her, liked her and spoke with her. She was very fond of all the children on the block and would support the various school fundraisings. She was what my mother-in-law called a "maiden lady", she lived with and took care of her parents.

But it wasn't until I was out of work about 12 years ago that we really became friends. One year we had a blizzard and for weeks after I would not drive, but I would see Grace driving to her various activities even though there was still a lot of snow on the roads and no where to park.


I would often go over to her house for tea in the afternoon while I was home and when I went back to work, Sunday became our day for tea. We would discuss anything and everything. I would give her the NY TIMES BOOK REVIEW every week and she would remind me whenever a favorite author had a new book. After I finished reading a book I would give it to Grace. Sometimes when I would visit I would get a history lesson often on the royal families of the world, but particularly on the English.

One year I had wanted to visit my son on his birthday, but made my decision too late to get a decent fare. On the day of his birthday, Grace called to tell me she wasn't feeling well and needed help. I went over to her house, called an ambulance and went to the hospital with her for treatment of her heart attack. Even though she was having a heart attack, she was quick witted. When she was being treated by the paramedics, she quipped that she had never before had so many men in her bedroom. She also didn't want to tell her age, because a lady never divulges her age.


She was very active in the Eastern Star and I went to many luncheons with her and met all her friends. Wherever she went everyone was glad to see her. Even when she was in a nursing home recently, her social worker said that she was such a pleasure to work with. Her nurse also said she was a wonderful patient.


In recent years, because of back problems she was pretty much confined to her bed, but that didn't stop her from reading and opining on the state of the world.


I will miss her, my reading buddy, but I know that she is no longer in pain. By the way she was 89 years old and proud of it.

Saturday, February 9, 2008

Cat Show

Tonight I couldn't find anything on TV that I wanted to watch so I decided to try Animal Planet. I caught a show called, "Cat People" and thought it might be fun. It's about the people who enter Cat Shows in particular the Santa Monica Cat Show.


At the first meow, Burnie woke up and started staring at the TV. Crash turned her back on the TV, but she is stealing glances at the cats while trying to appear disinterested. Burnie is really interested in the show. He actually stayed awake for the whole show. His hearing is very good even though it's selective. Whenever there is a dog barking or cat meowing on the TV, his ears pick up and he stares. Occasionally, a flock of birds will fly over the house and he runs from room to room trying to see them.


Back to the show, some of the breeders have up to 30 cats, which are their pets and they enter in the shows. One woman leaves her Christmas tree up all year and has filled it with ribbons that her cats have won. She travels all over California with her cats.



There was a beautiful copper colored Persian that was doing very well until the final part. Unfortunately, he didn't win. The best cat was a smaller version of a leopard called an ocicat. It's a really interesting looking cat.


All in all it was a good show.

Thursday, February 7, 2008

The Pianist

Tonight our Singles Club held a pizza and movie night. At our last meeting we took a vote and the movie selected was, "The Pianist". I was quite surprised that so many of the ladies chose not to watch, especially since so many voted for it.

Some said it would be too depressing. I didn't find it that way. For those not familiar with it, it is a true story of a Polish pianist on the radio who was a Jew during WWII. It was a very hard time, we see him and his family being sent to the ghetto in Warsaw, then the naziis come and force them all onto a railroad car to a camp. The pianist is saved and along the way he meets several people who hide him and bring food.

He is found by a nazii officer who brings him food and then just as the Russians are entering Warsaw, he gives him his coat, which almost gets him killed when the Russians think he is a nazii officer.

Eventually he is free and resumes his life playing the piano on Polish radio. This was a true story. I don't remember his name, but he continued playing in Warsaw and died at 88.

This story, while showing the brutality of war, shows the will of the human spirit to survive and that there are some people who will help at the risk of their own lives. It was a good movie and I enjoyed it even though I had to sit still for about 2 1/2 hours.

Wednesday, February 6, 2008

Manners

Tonight I'm going to talk about manners, or the lack thereof. Tonight I went to a meeting of our homeowners association and after the meeting I spoke with one of my neighbors to compare notes on a home project I'm planning.

While I was speaking with her, one of the board members interrupted us to ask me a question. I answered the question and went back to my conversation. They interrupted again with some information. By that time my neighbor left. This is not the first time this has happened. It has happened to me several times at church. I'd be speaking with a committee member and someone else would come along and interrupt without so much as excusing him/herself.

Why do some people just barge into a conversation thinking that their thoughts are more important than what is going on. I think it would be more tolerable if they would first say, "Excuse me." I'm sure these same people would not have tolerated such interruptions from family members.

This is just example of a breakdown in manners. There are more which I'll talk about as they come up.

Tuesday, February 5, 2008

Idiosyncrasies

I have a dishwasher and for some reason I find it difficult to empty it as soon as the dishes are clean and dry. I even wash dishes daily because the dishwasher is full of clean dishes just waiting to be put away.

Originally I thought t was because until a little more than 10 years ago I never had a dishwasher and was used to hand washing. I've since found out that my niece has the same problem, she too will hand wash her dishes because she doesn't empty the dishwasher.

Is it genetic, or just one of my many idiosyncrasies of which I have many?

Monday, February 4, 2008

Super Bowl

I'm one of the few people who didn't watch the Super Bowl yesterday, and I'm sorry I didn't. It looks like it was a very good game. The Giants came from behind in the last few minutes and won the game. It was a real cliffhanger.

What I can't understand though is why the City of New York footing the bill for a parade and celebration for a team whose home is in New Jersey. New Jersey gets the benefit of the revenue for ticket sales, food sales and tolls and parking charges and New York has to pay for a parade. It just doesn't seem fair.

Well, I'll get off my soapbox now and congratulate the Giants on their surprise victory.

Sunday, February 3, 2008

Distractions

Yesterday I had company for dinner. I wanted to prepare a nice meal so I planned on a roast. The butcher didn't have the cut I asked for, so I took a substitute. I was a little worried, especially when I read in the cookbook that it's not as tender as most cuts. But I went ahead with the preparations.


To cook a roast, I preheat the oven to 500 degrees, then immediately lower it to 350 degrees when I put the meat in. As I was putting the meat in the oven, the phone rang, then I dropped the meat thermometer. I had a nice conversation, then went about with other preparations. I noticed that the thermometer didn't seem to be registering the internal temperature of the meat, so I switched thermometers. After I opened the oven, the smoke alarms went off all over the house, so I went around opening windows and hoping none of the neighbors heard. A little while later, the phone rang again. While I was on the phone, I saw that I hadn't lowered the temperature of the oven. After that conversation, I lowered the temperature, opened the oven, looked at the meat and found that the second theremometer had hit the heating element and had a bubble in the plastic. Of course, once the oven was opened, the alarms again sounded and I had to open more windows.


The rest of the cooking was uneventful. Fortunately, the meat was not ruined and it was as good and tasty as my usual cut, and my company and I enjoyed our visit.



The dinner was good and I was able to enjoy my company. It turned out to be a good day.

Friday, February 1, 2008

Comfort

This time of year we hear a lot about "comfort foods", but we don't hear much about comfort clothes. Those are the tops or slacks or skirts that we can always rely on to fit right and are just, well, comfortable and they are right for almost any occasion.

As part of getting my closets organized, I'm checking out all my old clothes. This morning, I took out an old friend, a pink sweater which, as far as I can remember, I bought in the mid '90's. It's been my old faithful, but alas, I now realize it's seen better days.

Some of the stitching has come loose and the sleeves no longer retain their shape once I roll them up, they keep sliding down. It looks like this will go into the trash tonight. I'll miss my old friend.

I have a few more comfort clothes, I hope they will still be wearable for a few more years.