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Sunday, August 31, 2008

Scratching

Before she went away, my mom decided to stop me from scratching the furniture and she sprayed something on it that's supposed to smell bad. I didn't notice it. Then she sprayed some catnip on the scratching post. She expects me to use the post instead of the couch which is more steady and doesn't move. I don't think I'll give in to her.

Of course Burnie uses the post. Again another way for him to get attention. He's so needy.




I'd like to hide it on him and see what happens.





Saturday, August 30, 2008

Caretaker

Whenever mom goes away, she gets a friend to come in and feed us. Last year, Burnie hid and scared our sitter. She didn't see him for 2 days. She got very nervous and asked someone else to help her look for Burnie.

He finally came out of hiding, but wouldn't tell us where he was.

She doesn't want to take care of us anymore. Hope Burnie behaves himself this time.

Friday, August 29, 2008

Takeover

Crash here. My adopted mom always reads the blog of Daisy the Curly Cat and her adventures, so I decided that while she's off on another of her geographical explorations, I'm taking over her blog. If he's good, I may let Burnie help out occasionally. I have to be very careful with my typing so I don't make too many mistakes (mom's a perfectionist). My paws are very small and my nails are long, so I may hit the wrong keys.



Permit me to introduce myself. My name is Crash. I'm a calico and am very special. I'm about seven years old. We don't know for certain because I was a stray (how common) and I allowed myself to be taken in by my family. They've been pretty good to me. I don't have to work and I still get fed. How great is that?





Unfortunately, I have to share my house and couch and bed and food with Burnie who just walked into our house and into our lives a year after me and stayed. (I'm not too pleased about that). Burnie is a black & white boy cat who sleeps most of the time. He annoys me. He gets coughing fits which sometimes wake me up and he has a limp. I think he coughs and limps just to get attention.






Isn't that a clever combination - Crash and Burn.


It's a pretty good life, but my mom keeps going away on her geographical explorations.

Wednesday, August 27, 2008

The Economy

I'm not an economist, I didn't do that well in the economy courses I took at St. Johns University many, many years ago. That being said, I don't understand how raising taxes on corporate profits and the rich will solve that problems that are affecting all of us.

From what I can see, the corporations are the ones who create the jobs which result in lower unemployment rates which result in more people working which results in more income taxes being paid. When people are empoyed, there is a need for products, food, automobiles and services. Even the individual wealthy person consumes more expensive products resulting in higher sales taxes.

I've recently read that the higher wage earners pay a greater percentage of the total taxes received by the government. I don't know how true it is, but it is food for thought. If this is true, I can't see how punishing the successful can help our country.

I know we should help the poor lift themselves out of poverty, but how can a handout help. It just tides them over for a short while, and until they help and educate themselves, the poverty will remain.

After all, when was the last time a poor person or neighborhood created a job. Jobs are created when corporations are allowed to prosper.

I may be wrong in my thinking and I will listen to anyone's correction.

Tuesday, August 26, 2008

Underage Drinking

Some college presidents are pushing for the drinking age to be returned to 18 instead of the present 21. They've given their campaign the harmless name of Amethyst Initiative.

Their thinking is that the laws forbidding legal drinking by college students have encouraged an underground culture of binge drinking on many campuses and have tied the hands of college officials who want to discuss ways for underage kids to drink safely, assuming they won't accept abstinence.

What these "intellectuals" fail to realize is that there will always be kids who drink before they reach the legal age. If this age is reduced to 18, you will have 15 year olds either trying to get a drink, or succeeding with false ID's. And there will surely be bartenders who will serve 15 year olds.

At least with the 21 year limit, it will be much harder for a 15 year old to pass for 21 than it would be for that same teenager to pass for 18.

The solution to underage drinking is to raise children who respect the laws and don't try to fudge on them and, also to put severe restrictions and punishments on anyone who sells or serves to underage kids, or even anyone who does a kid "a favor" and buys their beer or liquor.

Making it easier to drink is not the solution to ending underage drinking.

Sunday, August 24, 2008

TiVo

I'm so proud of myself.

For years I've been using a TV with a built-in VCR to tape my shows. Last week I decided to enter the 21st century and bought a TiVO unit. When I got it home, I connected it to my TV and followed the directions completely. There was a problem. The picture was green and there was a slight hum.

I called TiVo to set up my account and mentioned the problems I was having. The customer service representative helped me with the green picture by having me adjust the tint and color. We were not so fortunate with the hum, in fact it got worse. We were on the phone for an hour and a half, but still couldn't get rid of the hum.

Saturday, my cable company came to install a cable card into the TiVo. He was very concerned about the hum and tried to fix it. He even changed the cables, but nothing worked. He suggested that I might have a bad TiVo unit.

After he left, I started playing around with the controls for the TV. I adjusted the bass and treble, but the hum was still there. Then, I played with the balance and suddenly there was no hum. Nobody thought about the balance before.

Now I'm ready to tape (or should I say record since there's no tape involved).

Saturday, August 23, 2008

Speed Limits

The dog owners of my community claim that they can't curb their dogs and they must let the dogs relieve themselves on various homeowners' lawns because the cars come speeding down the street. They must be going at least 30 to 35 mph. I don't understand why the dog owners can't hear the cars and then move the dog, but it's easier to complain.

The board has decided that the way to solve this problem is to reduce the speed limit from 25 mph to 24 mph. I don't know how long the signs have been up, but I first noticed them the other day. Now, some of the residents are complaining about the new speed limit. One person feels that it's illegal, but since the community is private property we are free to set our own limits. Another is afraid that a driver will suddenly slow down causing the car behind him to crash into him, as if we get that much traffic. Others don't see how lowering the limit by one mile can make a difference.

My conclusion is that these people have too much time on their hands.

Thursday, August 21, 2008

Restaurant Recommendations

Tonight a couple of friends and I went to a local Chinese Restaurant. We chose this place because it received a wonderful review by the editor of our community newspaper. I won't take any of his recommendations again.

I had a spicy beef with orange which I asked the waitress to make a little milder. It was too mild, in fact it was bland. My friends' dinners were also very bland and the tea was not much more than hot water.

We were all very disappointed, so we went to Sams Club to do a little shopping. While my one friend and I were checking out the wines which seemed to be priced right, my other friend went about her shopping. After about a half hour we started to get restless, finally we were paged and went to the exit without buying any wine.

It was a very non-productive night.

Wednesday, August 20, 2008

Ouray, Colorado

The other day I came across some pictures of a trip my husband and I took back in 1968. We had flown to Denver, spent a few days with his sister and then drove through Colorado to the Grand Canyon, then California and Disneyland. We took basically the same Colorado route we had taken about three years earlier.

On the earlier trip, we passed through the town of Ouray Colorado which was basically a ghost town. The only life we saw was an old woman in a rocking chair on a porch and some tumbleweed that tumbled across the road. This scene stuck in my mind because it seemed so typical of the Old West. There was even a livery stable.

On our second trip through Ouray, we could hardly believe our eyes. The town was transformed. It was very lively and busy. Since it was getting late, we decided to stop for the night. We got a room at the Hotel St. Elmo on Main Street. This was a very quaint hotel, they only had a few rooms. The hotel was built in 1898, but it was very neat and clean. As we were checking in, the owner told us that in the fall, they would be filming the movie TRUE GRIT with John Wayne, Glen Campbell and Kim Darcy.

We went to dinner at one of the restaurants which was very busy. A woman who was eating alone asked us if we would like to join her. After our typical New York reaction of suspicion we joined her. She was from California, but she was thinking of moving to Colorado because California was getting two crowded.

I wish I had had a digital camera at the time so I could share those photos with you, but, alas, the digital age had not begun. Some day I hope to scan those photos into my computer, but that day is not now.

I have some good memories of that trip.

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

Alternative Energy

We all know that we need more oil and alternative means of energy. However, the NIMBY's are already starting to let their voices be heard.

There is a ready market for the wind and solar power generated in the deserts of the southwest. In order to use this energy, the utilities need to build transmission lines to connect this electricity to the consumers homes. Unfortunately, the utilities don't expect to be able to complete the lines until 2014 because of the time necessary to obtain regulatory approval and rights-of-way, plus the possible lawsuits.

In California, hundreds turned out to protest a connection between the solar and geothermal fields of the Imperial Valley to Los Angeles and Orange County. The environmentalists are lobbying state commissioners to kill a 150 mile link between San Diego and solar panels because it would cover 20 miles through Anza-Borrego state park.

In Pennsylvania, Governor Ed Rendell who adopted wind power as a main political plank, now along with Senator Bob Casey, is leading a charge to repeal a 2005 law that makes transmission lines slightly easier to build.

Many states, such as Oregon, Arizona, Tennessee, West Virginia, Maine and even New York are fighting these transmission lines while insisting on clean energy.

One of the arguments against drilling in Alaska and offshore United States is that we won't see the oil for five to 10 years. Yet, even if we opt for wind power we won't see that for at least six years, assuming there are no lawsuits from environmentalists because some trees will be disturbed, or even some birds may be bothered.

They can run some transmission lines through my backyard, they can even install some solar panels and drill for oil off the Jersey shore.

But something must be done and done soon.

Monday, August 18, 2008

Olympics

Today's WALL STREET JOURNAL had a few great editorials. This means that they agree with me. I'll only mention one today.


I admit I haven't been following the Olympics, except for the occasional report on Michael Phelps and his record breaking eight gold medals. According to the Journal, Kobe Bryant of the NBA who is playing with Team USA told one reporter that he got "goosebumps" when he received his Olympics uniform. He just looked at it for a while, held it and laid it across his bed and just stared at it for a few minutes because as a kid he felt this is the ultimate in basketball. He went on to call the U.S. the "greatest country in the world. It has given us so many great opportunities and it's just a sense of pride that you have; that you say, 'You know what? Our country is the best.'"

The reporter asked if that was a cool thing to say in this day and age. That you love your country, and that you're fighting for the red, white and blue. Mr. Bryant replied, "No, it's a cool thing for me to say. I feel great about it and I'm not ashamed to say it. I mean, this is a tremendous honor."

After all, Mr. Bryant and his teammates on the basketball squad are giving up their offseason to play for nothing except possible medals. Mr. Bryant has also been an enthusiastic spectator for other members of the U.S. Olympic tams, waving the Stars and Stripes at various events.

After hearing all the negative things about our country, it's refreshing to hear from someone who truly loves his country and appreciates all the opportunities offered to him.

Go Kobe!

Sunday, August 17, 2008

Digital Age

The Digital Age is going too fast for me.

I have a digital camera that is only four years old. The other day I went looking for some additional memory cards, just to have on hand. The largest card that my camera will accept is 512 mg. The smallest card available in the stores is 1 g. I tried several stores and none of them had any cards. One of the salesmen even suggested that my camera is obsolete and that I needed new one.

This is a good camera. I get great pictures with it. It has a fabulous zoom, I get wonderful close-ups. I won't discard it for a newer model. Then I had an idea. I went online to www.overstock.com and found the card I was looking for. So I ordered five.

I never thought a four year old camera was obsolete, especially a very good camera. I guess the idea behind the planned obsolescence is to keep the customer buying. Thank goodness there's an overstock.com that carries older merchandise so I can keep using this camera.

Thursday, August 14, 2008

Phil Rizzuto, Poet

We've all heard about Yogisms. He's been widely quoted such as, "It's de ja vu all over again", or, "If you come to a fork in the road, take it" or "Always go to other peoples' funerals, otherwise they won't go to yours".



Well, on my return trip from Seattle, I needed a book to read and found O HOLY COW! which is the selected verse of Phil Rizzuto. It's a series of his commentaries during the play by play of Yankee games. Some of them make you stop and say, "What", but some of the others are thoughtful. Like this verse from April 12, 1991 in Kansas City



Absolutely!

If you don't get a little,

A few butterflies,

No matter what you do,

On the first dasy of anything,

You're not human



OR



All right this is it,

The whole season coming down

To just one ball game,

And every mistake will be magnified,

And every great play will be magnified

And it's a tough night for the players,

I'll tell ya.

I know last night,

Being in the same siuation many times

With the great Yankee teams of the past,

You stay awake,

And you dream,

And you think of what might be,

If you are the hero of the goat



He said this on October 14, 1976 at the final game of the American League East Playoff between Kansas City and New York.



It was interesting the way he just went from his thoughts back to the game



Did you hit me, Seaver?

Somebody hit me.

STRUCK'M OUT!



July 6, 1992 Minnesota at New York.



It's a very fast read and I think you would have to be a Yankee or Phil Rizzuto fan to appreciate the book. On this, the anniversary of his death, it should be noted that the Phil Rizzuto Estate has donated all royalties from this book to a veriety of children's charities, including St. Joseph's School for the Blind in Jersey City, the Hale House Center in New York and the Children's Specialized Hospital in Mountainside, NJ.

Wednesday, August 13, 2008

Fun and Games

Today our Singles Club hosted its third annual luncheon and games afternoon. And I learned something about myself. Last year it was my responsibility, I had to order the food, arrange for centerpieces, etc. This year I just had to take orders and pictures. It was much more fun.

Our theme was New York, The Big Apple and it went over big, even with the Jersey natives. We had egg creams which I haven't had since I was a teenager. We even introduced our maintenance man to them. He's from Louisiana and had never heard of them. After our lunch of pastrami, corned beef and turkey sandwiches and dessert of New York Cheesecake with a small black and white cookie on the side we all went off to play our favorite games.

Three of my friends and I played canasta and my team won. It was a good day. I won at cards and no responsibility for the outcome of the day.

Tuesday, August 12, 2008

Fat Can Be Healthy

Today's WALL STREET JOURNAL had the results of a new study that suggests that about half of overweight people have normal blood pressure and cholesterol levels, while some trim people suffer from some of the ills associated with obesity.

The article goes on to say that you can be hefty, but still healthy. They also say that stereotypes about body size can be misleading. In this study, 51% of overweight adults, or about 36 million people nationwide had mostly normal levels of blood pressure, cholesterol, blood fats and blood sugar. But, about a fourth of adults in the recommended weight range had unhealthy levels of at least two of these measures.

It's well known that thin people can develop heart related problems and that fat people often don't, but the millions that defy the stereotypes came as a surprise. Health officials rely on the body mass index, a weight height ratio that doesn't distinguish between fat and lean tissue. The limits of that method were highlighted a while back when it was reported that this system would put nearly half of NBA players in the overweight category.

Of course, there's always a downer. Half of overweight people do face elevated risks for heart disease, but for thosewithout elevated risks, losing weight might be important only from a cosmetic perspective.

This is good news. Now maybe doctors won't be bugging me to lose weight even though my blood pressure is normal and my good cholesterol is extremely high. I probably have a more healthful diet (lots of fish and chicken and fruits and vegetables) than most of my thinner friends. I drink lots of water and very little soda, diet or otherwise. My biggest vices are cookies and chocolate, and I'm working on the chocolate.

Monday, August 11, 2008

Foods

Yesterday on SUNDAY HOUSE CALL, Dr. Isadore Rosenfeld debunked the myth that eggs are bad for us. He said that recent research has shown no connection between eating eggs daily and high cholesterol. He added that we should eat eggs because they are very nutritious, almost as good for us as broccoli. He also said that this study showed that dieters who ate two eggs for breakfast every day consumed fewer calories than another group of dieters who did not.

That reminded me of an article in the HARVARD HEALTH LETTER which states that coffee may protect against disease. Coffee might also have anti-cancer properties. Last year researchers found that coffee drinkers were 50% less like to get liver cancer than nondrinkers. Some studies have found ties to lower rates of colon, breast and rectal cancers. Heavy coffee drinkers may be half as likely to get diabetes. It may contain chemicals that lower blood sugar.

Now we can have coffee and eggs for breakfast. When will someone find out that bacon is full of vitamins and other good things. I feel a little sorry for all those people who gave up their cup of coffee to improve their health.

All things in moderation.

Sunday, August 10, 2008

Cane Fu

This morning on FOX NEWS they had a demonstration of Cane Fu, that's right Cane Fu. The idea is to teach seniors and anyone else who needs a cane how to defend themselves, and to use the cane as a weapon.

It reminded me of the time I met one of my son's former teachers at St. Elizabeth School in Ozone Park. She told me that one rainy day, someone tried to mug her on her way home from morning Mass. She tried fighting him off with her umbrella, hitting him with it and poking him too.

Finally, she summoned up her toughness and spoke with him, scolding him and telling him he should be ashamed of himself. She added that she was returning from Mass and showed him her Rosary. I guess he had a conscience after all, because he backed off and stopped fighting her and apologized to her. By the way, she was probably about 70 at the time.

Saturday, August 9, 2008

The Mountain

On my last full day in Seattle, we went to "The Mountain", or as we non-Washingtonians call it, Mt. Ranier. It's an impressive sight when it's "out", but even when it disappears into the clouds it's impressive.

At our first stop, we read the following sign. The print is very small, but the gist is that debris flows and global outburst floods can happen at any time. If you hear prolonged rumbling or an earthquake occurs, move quickly uphill, away from the rivers and streams. That instilled a lot of confidence in the day.

Here are some of the pictures I took. Here it's disappearing in the fog. We got as high as 5000+ feet, the mountain is 14,000 feet.
To get this shot of the waterfall, I had to walk down a dirt trail with some rock steps. Going down was easy, it was going back that was hard, but so worth the trip.
I'm always fascinated by the fact that trees and plants will take root wherever possible. Here, this tree is growing out of a rock.
Another mountain view.
We had hoped to see some wildflowers along the way, but as you can see winter left late this year and the wildflower fields were covered by the snow.
Unfortunately, I missed the best picture of Mt. Ranier ever. When we were going into our descent into Seattle, I saw the top of the mountain that had disappeared in the clouds. We were above the clouds, which looked like a blanket of snow surrounding the mountain. I was so in awe that I didn't think of getting my camera out of the bag and snapping away. Oh, well, maybe next time.

Thursday, August 7, 2008

The Park

While in Seattle we also visited the Washington Park Arboretum which had a Japanese Garden. This arboretum was designed by James Dawson of the Olmsted Brothers firm and was developed in the 1930's with WPA funds and labor.

One of the first things we saw in the lake was this turtle. It was sitting on that rock so still that I stared for a long time trying to decide if it as real or a statue. It was real.

This is a restful park even though at times we could hear the traffic on the Freeway. There were several statues scattered throughout. They even had a Tea House, but it wasn't open. I'm sure the Tea Ceremony is very nice.

At one point we took a break from our walk and sat on a bench opposite the lake. Then I looked down at the ground where it was wet in spots. I had to take a picture. The figure on the right looks sort of like a silhouette of a man. Just one of those oddities. Some people see shapes in the clouds, I see shapes in puddles or wet spots of concrete.
There were some fish in the lake also. Apparently people are allowed to feed them because whenever anyone got near the edge of the water, most of the fish came swimming over. We didn't have any food, so they didn't stay near us.

It was a good day and the park is very restful and calming. It almost reminded me of Forest Park in Woodhaven, after all, they're both parks.

Wednesday, August 6, 2008

Sculpture Park, Part II

The first thing we saw as we entered the Sculpture Park as this giant safety cone and it brought back many memories.

Many, many years ago when my son was very young, he was into construction. My husband, wanting to indulge him, would stop whenever he saw abandoned cones and bring them home. We must have had about 25 of them in the yard. My son would set up barricades, or "safe" areas in the yard.

He would often come home from school and tell me that Brooklyn Union was doing construction in the neighborhood and would I take him to see it. I felt like a construction groupie. The workers were very nice to the neighborhood children, the only time they said anything was if the children were in a risky position.

For one of his birthdays, I made a cake and formed it into an orange consruction cone and instead of the usual "Happy Birthday", I decorated it with "BUGCO" (Brooklyn Union Gas Co.). It was a hit.

Tuesday, August 5, 2008

Sculpture

One of my days in Seattle was spent at the Olympic Sculpture Park. It's filled with many kinds of pieces of art. Some of it was different like this piece called Perre's Ventaglio III by Beverly Pepper.

Or this one which I think was my favorite. For those of you too young to recognize this, it's a typewriter eraser by Claes Oldenburg and Coosje van Bruggen. The pink part was used to erase the error and the brush was used to clean the area. It's probably my favorite because it reminded me of my days as a secretary, before computers. I certainly used my share of erasers and probably helped Eberhard Faber make some nice profits in the '60's and '70's.


We then saw the Eyes by Louise Bourgeois. They seem to follow you. There actually are three sets and if you get close enough and walk around to the back, you see that they really are benches.

I thought this sign, while not a piece of art, was very interesting. It very politely asks that you not touch the art because touching can harm the art. Here in the East, the sign would just say "Do Not Touch", or "No Touching".


This is a fountain also designed by Louise Bourgeois. It shows a Father and Son reaching out for each other. At various times, the water covers the boy and other times the father.

It was a very enjoyable day, even though some of the art was different from what I'm used to. I guess there's room for all expressions of creativity.




Monday, August 4, 2008

Power Failure

While I was away, my community had a power failure. I'm told it lasted about five hours. Unfortunately, the outlet in my garage has some sort of safety feature. After power has been disrupted, this particular outlet has to be reset. I had forgotten about that and never told my cat sitter about the refrigerator in the garage.

Saturday afternoon I decided to take some butter out of the freezer in the garage. I was so surprised when I opened the door and the loaf of bread dough started to ooze out of the freezer. It had risen when the temperature in the freezer reached 70 degrees. I don't know when we had the power failure, so I had to throw all the food out. It was quite a mess and I don't envy our garbage collectors tomorrow when they open the garbage pail.

I was very disappointed at having to throw all that food out - ice cream, meat, pies, green beans and corn. I've never had a problem like that before. I'll have to figure out how to make that outlet a normal one. I'm so tired of all these safety features that cause more problems than they seem to be worth.

Sunday, August 3, 2008

Passport Photo

When I went through security at the Seattle airport on Friday, I showed the TSA agent my passport. He studied it and studied it. Hoping to make light of the situation, I joked that it was indeed a terrible picture.

He agreed and said that I looked angry. He also added that he wouldn't like me if all he saw was my photo. He finally let me go through and now I understand why so many people don't like their passport photo.

I wonder if I can get a do-over on the photo.

Saturday, August 2, 2008

How I Spent My Summer Vacation

I returned home late last night. When she heard my key in the door, Crash came running, then she promptly turned around when she saw it was me. She wanted nothing to do with me. Burnie, on the other hand, was very glad to see me. He never left my side all night. This morning, Crash was a little better and by late afternoon, she "forgave" me for going away.

My flights were beautifully uneventful. They may have left late, but they arrived on time. No luggage was lost or broken and my ride was on time and greeted me with a sign with my name on it. I felt so important. That's just what I used to do for the vice presidents of my company when I made their travel arrangements.

I saw a lot while I was there, but I am getting tired of telling people that, yes, Seattle does have a lot of rain, but it's not at all like we get here. They rarely get a downpour and when it does rain heavy, by the time you've put your umbrella up, it's time to take it down.

We went to the Museum of Glass in Tacoma and saw several of Dale Chihuly's pieces. Of course, we made the mandatory stop at the Gift Shop and while there I saw a piece by Dehanna Jones for sale. About two years ago I bought the same bowl (in a different color) on a trip to Seattle. I didn't check the price, don't want to think I could have gotten it for less.

My son was a very good tour director and he was very patient with me. I had only one request for my time there and that was to see either Mt. Ranier or Mt. St. Helens. We went to Mt. Ranier, or "the mountain" as the locals call it. It took up the whole day, but the views were wonderful. Of course, the clouds obscurred the top of the mountain, but what I saw was very impressive.

I had a wonderful time in Seattle and it was good to spend the time with my son. We saw a lot more, and I'll comment on them another time.