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Monday, March 31, 2008

Weird News

It's time for some more weird news.

There's a seagull in Minnesota who tapps on the front door of the lobby of a Super 8 Motel until staffers give him a doughnut. The bird, Steven Seagull, has for years shown up at the Duluth motel to do his tap routine and chase other gulls away so he can get his daily doughnut.

That reminds me of Knute, the polar bear in Germany. When he was born, his mother refused to take care of him so the employees of the zoo raised him. He's no longer the cute little cub, he's now a full sized polar bear who makes all sorts of sounds unless there's a crowd of people watching him. He wants the limelight and gets upset when it isn't there.

Members of India's Olympic shooting team are threatening to boycott the Beiing Games. They want their government to end a shortage of ammo for training. The government recently stopped providing the National Rifle Association of India with bullets. This team was the best hope for a medal for India.

Sunday, March 30, 2008

Spring Planting

Spring is in the air. It's still fairly cool, but I can see some buds on the trees. So today I decided to visit the local nursery to see if they had any herbs for sale.

They did, so I bought some basil, dill, oregano, parsley. I really enjoy growing these herbs, and have been moderately successful doing so indoors. I have one basil plant left from two years ago, but it has just a few leaves left.

Last year I bought basil from the local hardware store's nursery. It did beautifully for a few weeks, then it slowly died. This is why I decided to go back to the nursery from two years ago. Hopefully, all my plants will do well and I can have some delicious salads and sauces.

I also bought another houseplant. This time I bought a coleus. Let's hope Burnie doesn't decide to eat or knock down any of my new plants.

Saturday, March 29, 2008

Old Papers

Today as part of my cleaning/organizing program I decided to tackle the office. I started with my file cabinet. I cleaned the bottom drawer and found some envelopes I didn't know were there. Then, I went to work on the top of the cabinet.

It seems that whenever I empty one box, I put whatever I want to save on top of the cabinet without really looking at it. Today, I went through those old envelopes, and learned a lot. My house in Woodhaven was assessed for $5,100.00 in 1929 resulting in a tax bill of $135.66 which at that time I'm sure was a huge amount. I also found some old funeral bills. When my father's father died in 1926, the cost was only $356.00. The letterhead of the bill had a logo of a horse-drawn coach. Nineteen years later, in 1945, the cost had risen to $433.50 with a sales tax of $3.50. They used the same funeral director, but this time theyincluded the services of a lady director. Now it would cost about $10,000.00 and they probably wouldn't use the services of a lady director to prepare a woman.

I also learned a lot more. For one thing, I always thought my father's middle name was Charles, but according to his Baptismal certificate his name was Frederick. I also found my grandmother's death certificate. I don't remember much about her, she died when I was six years old and all I can remember of her is the little old lady laying on a bed in my aunt's dining room. The day she went into the hospital for the last time, my cousin wanted me to say good-bye, but I guess I was scared so I ran away. Unfortunately, I couldn't cross the street, so I hid behind a very small tree on Rockaway Blvd., but that's a story for another day.

Because my father's mother is the only grandmother I ever met, I've always felt that my family started with my parents. I've always envied people who could trace the family back for three or more generations. But today, I learned more about my grandmother and I may be able to trace the family back to their roots in Germany. Another project to keep me busy - tracing my family tree.

Friday, March 28, 2008

Burnie

Tonight was my regular canasta night. We had a very good time tonight, lots of laughs and not much concentration on the cards.

I got home very close to my usual bedtime, but I decided to unwind a bid and play a game or two of Letter Linker. I was just getting relaxed when I heard a loud bang. Burnie knocked a plant down, the same one he knocked down last week.

All this would not have happened if I had just gone to bed as soon as I got home. Now the cats are all wound up and they'll probably decide to fight as soon as I get to bed. It looks like it will be a long night.

Thursday, March 27, 2008

City Mentality

The other night after our meeting, a few of us were discussing the bus service into the City. Some of the ladies like to get the bus on Route 9 a short distance from home. They asked where I get the bus and I told them I go to the terminal in the next town.

One of my reasons for this is that I get on at the first stop, get my choice of seat and on the return trip, which usually is after dark, I don't have to watch for my stop and if I'm tired, I can sleep.

Someone commented that the terminal is in a not so good neighborhood, especially when travelling alone at night. My answer - I'm from New York, it doesn't bother me.

Tuesday, March 25, 2008

Generations

Depression Babies, Baby Boomers, Generation X, Generation Y, etc. I've always wondered where I fit in this naming of generations.


Today I found out. Through an Op-Ed in today's WALL STREET JOURNAL I learned that I'm a member of the No-Name Generation. Of course, this editorial wasn't about me, but about John McCain which was another eye-opener for me. I always felt that he was so old, but now I realize that he is not that much older than I.


This editorial went on to extoll the virtues of the No-Name Generation. We have seen rationing, V-J Day, the Korean invation, the day the French left Dien Bien Phu and later our involvement in Viet Nam, the Cold War. I remember that during WWII because my father was an Air Raid Warden he was often out evenings. I also remember huddling under my desk and covering myself with my coat for air raid drills. We survived and I think we're stronger because of everything we've seen. We were old enough to realize what it meant when our President was assassinated.


We saw a lot of bad things, but we've also witnessed lots more good. There's TV, Cinamascope, Color TV, real spaceships, TV Dinners. We saw men walk on the moon, and we witnessed a telephone call from our President Nixon to Neil Armstrong.

It's good to finally know where I belong, but I really wish we had a better name than the No-Name Generation. It sounds so impersonal.

Monday, March 24, 2008

Food Warnings

Yesterday I was watching the medical segment of the news. The doctor was giving us some hints on staying healthy at Easter time. He said that the colored hard boiled eggs should not sit out at room temperature for more than two hours and should be eaten within four or five days. This surprised me because when I was younger, the eggs would stay in our basket for up to a week. I don't recall any of us getting sick. He also said that we should not eat raw eggs or cake butter. Again I'm guilty, in fact, I still take a chance.

What puzzles me is that now we have more sophisticated ways of transporting eggs from the farm to the supermarket. They get there more quickly so that when we buy them, they are fresher. The same goes for meat, particularly chopped meat.

I'm sure meat inspections are better than they were 50 or so years ago, and the conditions on the farms and in the slaughterhouses are much better and more sanitary. Yet, there are all these warnings. I once went to a diner and ordered a rare hamburger. The waitress frowned and said no she couldn't serve a rare hamburger. The one I got was OK, but certainly not as good.

I can't understand why we have all these warnings. Are we as a society not as healthy as 50 years ago, or are the farmers, supermarkets and diners afraid of being sued?

One other thing that disturbed me yesterday. They gave the calorie count of the Easter goodies that we all enjoy. I don't want to think about that. Just let me enjoy my Peeps and worry about the calories tomorrow. Tomorrow is another day.

Sunday, March 23, 2008

I Won!

Happy Easter all.

Since today is Easter, I decided to give the cats an Easter present. When I was a child, I always ate some of the candy in my Easter Basket, so I gave the Crash and Burn each a chick from the bowl.

After all the struggles I had with Burnie last week, today he wanted nothing to do with the chick. I put it on the ottoman in front of him and he knocked it to the floor, then went to sleep. Crash, on the other hand was very happy to finally get a chick to play with. She hugged it, licked it and batted it around the floor. Then she picked it up in her mouth and played some more.
As the day wore on, she brought it to me as a present.
Even though I gave the cats the chicks today, I still feel that I won. I kept the arrangement on the table. I think I'll leave the eggs and Peeps there for a few days more.

Friday, March 21, 2008

Cats & Chicks,

The sags of the cats vs. the chicks continues. The cats can be good for just so long, then they decide it's time to play with the eggs and wooly chicks.

The other day I had a thought. I decided to put some Peeps in the bowl with the eggs. The idea was that the cats would get stuck to some of the marshmallow and then leave everything alone. It didn't work too well. It's true they don't like the smell and texture of the Peeps, but Crash is very agile and can quietly move the Peeps to get to the chick. She keeps going after them, but when I tell her to drop it, she does, to my surprise and shock.

Tonight while I was playing a rousing game of Letter Linker I heard her crying. When I found her she just dropped a chick in front of me. She's not a very good sneak, first she lets me know she's doing something, then she drops the evidence in front of me.

I bought them some toys yesterday and I spiked them with catnip, but they would rather go after my chicks. It's a good thing they haven't discovered the three over by the candles. Oh well, only three more days and I will have won and I'll put them away until next year.

Thursday, March 20, 2008

English Only

A few years ago, Joe Vento owner of Geno's Philly Cheesesteaks hung a sign that said,

"This is America: WHEN ORDERING PLEASE SPEAK ENGLISH"

He posted this sign because of concerns over immigration reform and an increasing number of people in the neighborhood who could not order in English. He also said that he never refused anyone service because they couldn't speak English, but critics said that the sign discouraged customers of certain backgrounds from eating at the shop. Of course he was brought before the Commission on Human Relations.

Surprisingly, the commission by a vote of 2 to 1 found that the sign did not violate the city's Fair Practices Ordinance. This is good.

While it is difficult to learn a new language, immigrants should be encouraged to learn the language of the country that is providing them with a job. I'm tired of seeing eight language selections when I use the ATM, or having to press "1" to speak in English. There really is no reason why a person can't learn even basic English.

I remember a parish priest who was defending having Mass in another language by saying that people should be able to worship in the language in which they think. If that's the case, there should be a Mass for me in Pitman Shorthand since I often translate the words I hear into the various symbols in shorthand.

Wednesday, March 19, 2008

Jon & Kate vs. Supernanny

Tonight I caught another episode of JON & KATE PLUS EIGHT. This was the episode that covered her tummy tuck which was donated by a plastic surgeon, Dr. Glassman, of Nyack, NY. His wife had been watching an earlier episode and saw Kate's belly after the birth of the sextuplets. She asked her husband if he would perform a tummy tuck, which he agreed to do.

Before the surgery, Kate shopped for and cooked 14 meals and packed bags for the children who were going to be with various friends. Not only did he perform the surgery, but, after Kate and Jon spent a few days in a hotel room to recover from the surgery, Dr. Glassman and his wife opened their home to Kate when Jon had to leave to return to work and the children. If I were ever brave enough to want plastic surgery, I would want this doctor to do it. He sounds like a good man.

I hadn't realized this show was on tonight, so before I found it, I caught part of an episode of SUPERNANNY. I was struck by the differences between these two shows. On SUPERNANNY, the parents cannot control only two children. Of course, we know these problems didn't develop overnight, the discipline was missing from day one. On JON & KATE PLUS EIGHT, even though there are eight children, Kate or Jon is always in control, and for the most part, the children are smiling and happy. They will never need the services of the SUPERNANNY. Maybe some other families can take lessons from Jon & Kate.

What is it that makes some parents able to discipline their children and others just can't. Maybe it's because Jon & Kate had to work so hard to have their children that they appreciate them and want to spend as much time as possible with them.

Monday, March 17, 2008

High School Production

The local high school gave my community a block of tickets for their production of BEAUTY AND THE BEAST. Yesterday a friend and I went to their final performance. I had never seen this show and I was pleasantly surprised at the talent of these students, most of whom can't be more than 17.

It was a very professional performance and they all looked like they were enjoying themselves. There was no sign of nervousness or self-consciousness. I can't imagine that I would have been as poised as they were at that age.

I thoroughly enjoyed the show and am looking forward to next year's performance.

Sunday, March 16, 2008

They Killed It!

Last night I went to an event at the Clubhouse. When I got home, everything seemed OK. None of the chicks or eggs was disturbed. Burnie was on good behavior.

This morning, Crash found one of the chicks that Burnie had "liberated" from the bowl on Friday and she was playing with it. I hate to admit it, but she was cute batting it around and carrying it in her mouth. I took it away from her and put it on the counter.

Then I went out for a couple of hours. When I got home, all the furry woolen chicks were all over the dining room floor. They all looked OK, then I found this one.

They killed it. It was covered in cat fur, they must have been batting it around and it was broken in the middle. I had to throw it out.

I won't give in. Those cats don't know who they're dealing with. I can be very stubborn too. That bowl of eggs and chicks will stay on the table at least for a week, and I guess I'll get a lot of exercise chasing after the cats.

Friday, March 14, 2008

Burnie

Isn't this the picture of an innocent cat?



I don't think so. I try to decorate for the various seasons and holidays. This year I put a bowl of plastic eggs and little furry chicks on the dining room table, along with some chicks on a plate of candles. There are also some vases of flowers.



Today, Burnie was bored. He decided to play with the chicks and eggs. He only did this when I was busy typing some information for our Singles Group. Everytime I caught him, I sprayed him with water and he went running. Then he waited until I went back to the computer and he jumped onto the table and took an egg and chick and knocked them onto the floor. This went on for quite a while, he attacked the egg and chick and I sprayed him. He ran and waited until I started typing again.

Earlier this week I heard a crash and saw Burnie rolling around in the dirt from a plant he knocked down. That time, I turned the hand vacuum on near him and he ran. Of course, every chance he got, he went back to the dirt I was trying to pick up with the vacuum.
This is the plant he knocked over.


I don't know what prompted this week's mischief, he has plenty of toys which he keeps in a box in the bedroom. I guess he likes my toys better.






Thursday, March 13, 2008

Indoor vs. Outdoor

Yesterday I decided that my cold was just about over, at least I wasn't coughing and sneezing as much, so I decided to go back to the gym. I also missed my Shakespeare lessons. I managed to walk for 1/2 hour.

This morning, I got up with all good intentions to head to the gym again. Then I noticed that my legs were a little sore, so I stayed home. As the morning wore on, I started feeling guilty so I decided to take a walk around the neighborhood. I had forgotten how good it felt to walk outside and feel the cool air, and greet some of my neighbors. I also felt great all day.

It's hard to say which is better - treadmill or outside. There are good reasons for each. When I walk outside, I get some fresh air along with some variety in the scenery but I have to be alert to changes in the pavement and traffic. Walking on the treadmill really involves no thinking so I can get my lessons, keep track of the time and distance so I can chart my progress.

Wednesday, March 12, 2008

Hoarding

I recently had someone come and remodel my walk-in closet because the one problem with this house is that there is very little storage. I thought that would discourage me from holding onto things, but it didn't.

I have now some shelves and double racks for clothes. In order to have this work done, I had to empty the closet. It seemed to take forever. Of course now that it's finished I have to put everything back.

It's also a great time to weed out the seldom worn clothes, the slightly too small clothes and the leftovers from my working days. After weeding everything out, I managed to fill seven trash bags which I then donated. I also filled two bags for trash. There are still more clothes that I can donate, but it's hard to give up some of my old favorites. I really don't need 16 pairs of shoes, especially since I drive everywhere and hardly walk anymore.

This has made me realize that I'm a hoarder. It's quite an eye opener. I don't know if there's a cure, but I think one solution would be for me to stay away from the mall, the internet stores and QVC. If I stop shopping for a couple of years, I should use up my supply of clothes.

Next I'll tackle the kitchen and the pantry.

Tuesday, March 11, 2008

Changes

Tuesday afternoons I work at the Clubhouse. My usual duties involve taking reservations for events and answering questions of residents and potential buyers. For some reason, my duties have expanded and I usually have to type lists for events and adding names to our website. I do enjoy this extra work, but it means that I can no longer sit at the desk and read.

Today I had to type a list of over 200 names and then alphabetize the list. When I saw this list, all I could think was, "How did we ever manage before Excel?" It made me realize all the changes that have taken place in offices in the past 50 years.

It would have taken me hours to alphabetize that list, then I would have had to use my math skills to make sure each column was the correct size and everything was centered. Of course, if I made a typo, I would have had to erase or later use white-out, or type the whole thing over. To make matters worse, 50 years ago all this would have been done on a manual typewriter with maybe two or three carbon copies.
Most offices didn't have Xerox machines.

Telephones have also changed. Years ago, the phone would ring very loudly, not the chimes some phones have. If we were very busy and calls came in, we had to stop what we were doing and answer the phone, there was no voice mail. And, of course, executives never answered their own phone, the secretary had to answer and screen the calls.

Life is so much easier now. On my last job, I had to send about 100 invitations to a golf outing. I just typed the letter once, and had a list of the names and addresses and used mail merge. Everything was printed out perfectly. When I started working, if I had to send 100 invitations, each had to be typed individually.

I know that talking about how things were makes me look old, it doesn't seem like 50 years ago that I started working. I really appreciate the progress that has been made. To paraphrase the old commercial, "We've come a long way baby".

Monday, March 10, 2008

The Steamroller has been stopped. The Governor of New York, Eliot Spitzer, is now implicated in a prostitution ring. According to one news report I saw, there may be more involved, including money laundering.

This is the same man who went after white collar crime when he was Attorney General. Because of his campaigns against Wall Street and the Insurance Industry, many people were hurt. His investigations didn't only hurt the executives in these fields, but they hurt many lower level employees when the companies closed their doors or were forced to downsize.

This is the man who ran for governor as a reformer and who was going to clean up Albany. Allegedly he didn't think reform applied to him. His arrogance had led him to this point. Will he resign? He may think he can survive this.

Sunday, March 9, 2008

Laundry

I never knew doing laundry could be good and satisfying. Ever since I moved into this house, my dryer didn't dry the clothes. It would sometimes take up to three hours for a small load.

I called the builder who said right away that it was the manufacturer's fault. I called the manufacturer who said it was the builder's fault. I could see that this would be a case of each blaming the other, so I decided to live with it and make do.

At one point the dryer vent hose fell off the back of the dryer and suddenly my clothes were drying. I kept it that way for a while and then decided to try a different vent hose. Again I was left with wet clothes.

My niece suggested that the hose might be blocked and suggested I have it cleaned. I called a duct cleaner and he discovered that while the duct had been connected to the outside, there had never been a cut made in the roof for the vent.

The builder came back last week and cut the hole, the dryer now vents outside and I have dry clothes in only a half hour. It's wonderful.

Thursday, March 6, 2008

Commercials

I've been taking it easy for the past week and a half because I've got a cold and cough which is very annoying. Because I'm not doing much, I've been spending a lot of time watching television and feel qualified to critique the commercials. Some of them are better than the programs.

Pedigree dog food has a very touching commercial. They show a dog looking longingly at the feet of someone approaching his cage, Then they leave. The voiceover states that for every dog that gets adopted, one is left behind. Then they say that if you buy Pedigree dog food, they will make a contribution to a shelter.

This commercial is very powerful. After watching it, I wanted to go out and adopt a dog, and I'm not a dog person. I don't have the patience to train and walk a dog. Besides, I don't think the cats would allow it.

Wednesday, March 5, 2008

WABC Radio

WABC Radio did it again. Evidently the parent company decided that they are not making enough money in the 10:00 am to 11:45 am spot weekdays, so they fired John Gambling and George Weber. There was no advance warning, Friday John signed off as usual and over the weekend it was announced that Curtis Sliwa would be on in that time spot.

Now, I can't get too upset about this because I like Curtis. I even like the way he butchers the language, but I also liked John Gambling. I used to listen to him on WOR and was happy when he landed on WABC. He had a calm demeanor, very unlike most radio personalities.

I know it's just business, but there was no explanation given. I e-mailed the station asking what happened to John Gambling and their answer was, "He's no longer at the station". It was left to Curtis Sliwa, a gentleman, to let us know what happened.

John will be missed, but we now have Curtis back.

Monday, March 3, 2008

New Home Slowdown

Just what does the slowdown in new housing construction really mean? To most people it means they pretty much have to stay in their present home for a while.

Aside from the usual, it also means fewer jobs in construction, fewer sales in appliances and housing supplies. According to an article I read in the WALL STREET JOURNAL today, there are other industries affected.

It costs more to board horses today because there is a shortage of sawdust and wood shavings which are used for bedding. Dairy farmers also have to find substitutes for the sawdust bedding. The sawdust is softer, so the cows lay down more which increases milk production. If you use wood shavings for your pet hamster, you will be paying more. There just isn't enough to go around.

I was surprised to learn just how many industries are affected by this slowdown. There are so many industries that depend on wood scraps. Wineries use oak sawdust as a flavoring agent for some wines, Perdue Farms uses about seven million cubic feet of wood shavings annually. Oil rig operators use wood shavings in their search for oil. If you own a pellet stove, the pellets are made of compressed sawdust.

Of course, whenever we have shortages, the ingenuity of the American goes into overdrive and we have new products. Some farmers are finding ways to process cattle waste into methane gas and selling it to electric generators. One dairy has found a way to turn manure into bedding for his animals and is selling his extra to his neighbors.

Some Boy Scout troups in Oregon collected discarded Christmas Trees and sold them to a lumber recycler thus adding money to their treasuries.

The housing market had better pick up, a lot of other industries are depending on them.

Germs

Anyone who has watched television for even a day would be convinced that we are a nation of germophobes.


It seems that every other commercial reminds us of all the germs and viruses that are just waiting to attack us. I'm not advocating that we live in filth, but we've gone too far. It's not necessary to disinfect every surface of your home unless you have no immune system.


My mother used the same wooden cutting board for years and she never bleached it, or disinfected it and we were a very healthy family. We never worried about the germs on doorknobs or subway straps and poles.


In their attempt to "warn" us about the dangers in everyday life, some companies have gone overboard. There is one commercial (I don't remember the name of the product) that shows a mother, in front of her children, opening a door with her foot because she's afraid of the germs on the handle and with no regard for the person who next touches this door.


It's my opinion that we need a certain amount of exposure to germs and virus in order to build immunity. I can't help wondering if the emergence of "superbugs" is the result of all the anti-bacterial soaps and sprays that are on the market. This may be just a coincidence, but I've found that the people who are most careful about touching surfaces in public are the ones with the most colds. What next, do we have to start wearing surgical masks in public?

Or maybe I'm just cranky because I had to miss a party today because I have a cold and didn't want to expose my friends to my coughing and sneezing.