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Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Commercials

I think I watch too much television. Tonight I'm going to again critique a commercial.

This time the Brita water treatment is the subject of my complaint. The commercial usually opens with a shot of a bottle of water and subtitles such as "30 minutes on a treadmill", or "45 minutes in a meeting" and ends with "forever in a landfill".

As someone who has always recycled, even before it was mandatory, I find this very offensive. I may drink bottled water, but my bottles never find their way to a landfill, unless of course, the recycler dumps them. I save all my bottles and recycle all of them.

I still haven't found a better series of commercials than those of Liberty Mutual. This series shows people witnessing someone helping a stranger and then the witness helps someone else and so on and so on. The theme is responsibility. This series is my all time favorite.

Yes, I probably do watch way too much TV.

Monday, September 29, 2008

Uncharitable Charity

Yesterday I attended a fundraiser for cancer research. It was a good day and I'm sure they raised a lot of money, but they created no goodwill among those at my table.

The main attraction of the day was a silent auction. For those who don't know what that is, let me explain. There are many items on a table and each one has a sheet of paper on which to write your bid. If someone else wants that same item, they raise your bid and sign their name.

Initially, they announced that if you submitted the winning bid, you should come up to the front, pick up your sheet and pay for your item, then come back with your sheet to pick up your item. They also said that if you had bids on many items, you could pay with one check. The instructions sounded good on paper.

A friend of mine had the best bid on one item and one of the workers brought her prize to her even though she hadn't paid. They also brought one to another friend at the table. A short time later, my friend had another winning bid, but was told she had to pay before she could get her prize, then they took the first one away until she paid. All the while, they paid no attention to the other item on the table. In fact, they kept bringing gifts to anyone who submitted the winning bid.

This angered my friend so much, she was ready to go home without paying for anything and leaving everything there. When I left she was telling one of the organizers what had happened and how she felt. I later heard that they apologized to her, but I think they were very unfair to someone they know well and can be trusted not to run out with her prizes without paying.

Even though this was a charitable event, the organizers were very uncharitable to the donors. If the same people are in charge next year, I doubt if I will go.

Sunday, September 28, 2008

Busy, busy, busy

This has been a very busy week for me. I don't usually like to be busy every day, but for some reason, I had signed up for so many things last week.

It started on Sunday when I did the walk for cancer research, then Monday I made my contribution to the economy of Atlantic City. Tuesday is my usual busy day - scrabble in the morning, the desk in the afternoon and our meeting in the evening. Wednesday, fortunately, was free except for cleaning and laundry. Thursday was the bus ride to Pennsylvania and then the photography meeting. Friday we had a luncheon and then canasta in the evening. Yesterday we had the Arts & Crafts Show. And today we had a brunch and silent auction for cancer research.

I'm exhausted. Hopefully this week will be more quiet except for food shopping and my usual Tuesday activities. Maybe if I don't look at my calendar, I won't have anything to do. I could use a week with nothing to do except make some phone calls and plan more activities.

Saturday, September 27, 2008

Arts & Crafts Show

Tonight our community had its 2nd Annual Arts & Crafts Show. There were exhibitions of stained glass, models, oil painting, water colors and photography. I decided to exhibit a "few" of my favorite photos. I printed them, then matted them. I thought they looked quite good. Here are two of the evening's favorites.

The first was taken on a to the Canadian Rockies two years ago. This is a picture of Lake Louise. The lake was so still I was able to get a good reflection.


This second picture was shot from my front door during an ice storm we had back in 2007. Everyone was quite impressed.
Now that it's over, I keep thinking about other pictures I should have brought. I'm sure they'll have another show next year. I may even do a special exhibit of the cats, they'd like that.

One of the women was so impressed that she wanted to paint one of my pictures. I offered it to her tonight, but she asked me to e-mail it to her. The only condition I'll give it to her is that I get to see the finished product.

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Surviving Hard Times

This morning I read a blog on http://www.blogher.com/ by The Accidental Housewife. She posed the question, "Could you survive the Great Depression?"


My immediate answer was, of course. After all, didn't I grow up in the '40's and '50's? I remember ration books and tokens. I remember my father's repairing our shoes by re-heeling them himself and sometimes we had to put paper or cardboard inside to protect our feet from the holes in the soles. To save money on our rare visits to the movies, my mother, brother and I would stop at the supermarket for candy and get to the movie before 5:00 pm when the price went up. Shortly after 5:00, my father would meet us there on his way home from work.


We didn't have much, but it was a good life. I learned how to "make do" and do without. With this background, I decided it would be easy for me to cut back and I would start today. I would stop all unnecessary spending, I would buy only "needs", not "wants". I would turn off the lights when I leave a room, open the windows on these cooler days. I CAN cut back.


Then I looked at my calendar and saw that I'm going to Pennsylvania tomorrow and I have a fundraiser on Sunday, and of course, Joan Rivers will be on QVC this weekend. I'll have to start cutting back next week, but, wait, I have to go to Wegmans for my weekly food shopping, and that always means a higher grocery bill. They have so much good stuff - specialty meats, pre-made soups, etc. Then there's Atlantic City.


It was then that I realized that I have been living a very spoiled lifestyle. It would be a big sacrifice for me to cut back. I'd have to let my hair grow and go gray. I'd have to clean my own house and wash my dishes and clothes by hand. I'd probably have to cook the food for the cats and tear up newspapers for their litter box. I might even have to drink tap water, and turn off all unused lights and geographical explorations.


I think instead of cutting back and trying to live on less, I'll keep getting my hair done, having my house cleaned, using the dishwasher and washing machine. The cats will be happy, I'll keep buying cat food and kitty litter. And I guess I'll go to Atlantic City by bus. After all, we need people to perform these services and I'll be keeping the unemployment rate down.


Now, how else can I help the economy?

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Really Old Buildings

On my recent trip to France I saw a lot of very old buildings. The first one I saw was the Arc de Triomphe which was started by Napoleon in 1806 and completed in 1836. It is a beautiful work of art and engineering. But . . .



It doesn't compare with these arches at the outskirts of Paris.

These arches are remnants of the Roman empire. Now, that's old.

Monday, September 22, 2008

Senior Moments

Every Friday evening I play canasta with three other women in the community. Now, we're all fairly intelligent with no obvious signs of aging. But if you had seen us last week, you would not have believed it.

For the first hand, the dealer stopped dealing at 11 cards each instead of 14. One of the rules of the game is that if you get a red three, you get to lay it down and take another card. Well, this woman constantly forgot to take her free card, sometimes for two rounds.

Later in the evening, none of us could remember whose turn it was to deal or who dealt last. Then, we couldn't even remember whose turn it was, or even who went last. At one point, I, as the scorekeeper, gave the other team a score of 200 for a canasta, when it's standard to give 300.

In spite of all the mistakes and forgetfulness, we all had a good time, with a lot of laughs. I can't wait for next Friday, it should be even more fun.

Sunday, September 21, 2008

Race for the Cure

This is the third year that my community has participated in the "Race for the Cure", and the first year that I have participated. Although, last year I attended a brunch and silent auction, does that count?

Obviously I didn't race, or even run. We walked. We had the option of walking either one mile or two miles along a route in the community. I started out planning on walking two miles and I was quite surprised when we came to the one mile breakoff point. I did walk two miles and probably could have done more, but that all that was planned.

Walking is so much easier when you have distractions, whether it's someone to talk to, or something to listen to. Hopefully, as the weather gets cooler I'll do more walking. I really enjoy it.

Saturday, September 20, 2008

Historical Building

What struck me most on my recent tour of France was age. So many of the buildings, churches particularly, were hundreds of years old. On our second day, we visited the Basilica of St. Remi in Rheims. This church was started in the 11th century, but as is often the case with new construction, funds ran out and work stopped. Work was later started on a smaller, less grand, building.

After the French revolution, the Benedictine Monks were expelled from the Basilica and the Vandals of the Terror took over. The furniture was ransacked, the mosaics destroyed. In the early 19th century, some repairs were made. Then World War I caused much damage and parts of the building collapsed. Work was started to rebuild, but it took 40 years. On the 1st of October in 1958, the Basilica of St. Remi was finally available for worship. It is classified as on historical monument on Unesco's list of World Heritage.

While there are some new parts, it is still amazing that so much of it is the original building. Some of the original furnishings are in a museum, but there are also some in the church. The first picture is a statue of an Entombment from the 16th century.




The next three pictures are of some of the 48 engraved flagstones which were part of the decorated pavement of the abbot's house from the 14th century. They show various parts of the Old Testament. They are now on display on the wall.




I just find it amazing that they have lasted so long.

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

Truth in Advertising?

In the September issue of LADIES HOME JOURNAL, there was a five page interview/article on Barack and Michelle Obama. The editor said that they hoped to do a similar article on John and Cindy McCain for the October issue. I decided to wait to read about the Obama's until I received the October issue so that both interviews would be fresh in my mind and I could be objective.

Well, the October issue arrived but there was no interview with the McCain's, nor was there even an explanation as to why there was none. Instead, there was a short piece entitled, "What Makes a Great President", or how to vote with your heart.

Now, I know it's important to have a leader who is compassionate, who is cheerful and courageous, but it's more important to have a leader who knows the issues and how to govern. It's more important to study the issues and the candidate's stand. You should vote with your head, not your heart.

I wonder if LADIES HOME JOURNAL will ever publish an interview/article on the McCain's.

Airlines

I recently flew on Air France and it was a wonderful experience. This was my first overseas flight so the comparison with domestic airlines might be unfair.

My most recent experience with a domestic flight was also very positve. I cashed in miles in order to fly first class. On the domestic flight on Delta there was a bottle of water at my seat and shortly after take-off the flight attendant came around offering drinks, which they did frequently during the flight. I was also served a meal, even though the flight was only about three or four hours.

On Air France where I flew coach, I was also offered a choice of drink - water, wine, coffee, tea and a snack. I chose champagne. Since this was a seven hour flight, there was also a meal. We received a choice - meat or fish. Again, a choice of beverage with the meal. I chose wine. Later on, we also had another snack.

I do agree with the management of domestic airlines that they are in the business of transportation, not meal service. After all, I would prefer to arrive at my destination hungry, than not arrive at all.

The meal, drinks and snacks are not necessary to a pleasant flight, but they are a very nice touch.

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

To the Rescue

I’ve been following the recent activity on Wall Street. The loss of one of the biggest houses, Lehman Brothers, marks the end of an era. Lehman had been one of the most respected companies, up there with Morgan Stanley. Over the years we’ve lost many firms like Drexel Harriman Ripley, Eastman Dillon, Loeb Rhoades, Hornblower & Weeks, etc. They’ve been assimilated into other companies, but the loss of Lehman is very sad. It’s too bad that some of the old money on the Street couldn’t come to their rescue.

This is what I’m waiting for with AIG. The price is now so low that it would be attractive to someone with a lot of capital, someone who would be able to revive the company, someone with the discipline to take over and run the company. Someone like Hank Greenberg.

I’ve always thought he wanted to get the company back. Now is his big chance. He could be a hero to his loyal employees. Where are you Hank? Why not come to the rescue. You and your sons could come back and save the jobs of thousands of employees. I’m sure they wouldn’t even mind if you changed the name of the company to, “Greenberg & Sons”. They miss you at 70 Pine.

Sunday, September 14, 2008

Gargoyles

I don't know when I first heard about them. It was either in elementary school at St. Sylvester's or Bishop McDonnell High School, but I ever since then, I have been fascinated by gargoyles. This trip through France was the perfect place to see them. They were all over the churches, and I got a few good shots.



The angle on this one looks like he's ready to jump.


My camera has a great zoom. This gargoyle was quite high up and I was on the ground.



Saturday, September 13, 2008

Airport

I'm back from my latest geographical exploration and have managed to take back my blog. Unfortunately, Crash made me promise to allow her to write from time to time. For a while, I'll be writing about my adventure.

I had a wonderful time in France, but I want to purge my memory of the worst part of the trip so I can have only wonderful memories.

I arrived in Paris at Charles deGaulle Airport around 8:30 AM on a weekday. Now, I'm not a frequent traveler and this was my first trip overseas, but I expected the plane, an Air France flight, would connect with a jetway. Instead, they rolled a set of stairs onto the tarmac to meet our plane and we had to walk down those stairs. Then we got on a bus to take us to the terminal where our passports were stamped. I've been told this is quite common out of the United States.

On the return trip, we had a flight from Strasbourg at 6:45 AM to Paris. Again, we had a set of stairs rolled up to our plane on the tarmac. There was a difference this time though. From the plane, we walked to a bus which took us to a terminal. Then, we had to walk to a train which took us to another terminal where we had to go through security all over again.

This airport, while huge, is new. I can't understand why they could not have made the terminals closer, particularly since all the flights were with the same airline (Air France).

Now that I have done my complaining, I can concentrate on remembering all the good times of this trip, such as the wines, cheeses, chocolates, and architecture. Did I mention the wines, chocolates and pastries?

Friday, September 12, 2008

Homecoming

Oh! I'm so happy. Mom is due home from her geographical exploration in France. I'll be glad to see her, but I can't let her know that. Please keep my secret.

She has to be punished for leaving us and having fun without us. I think I'll run to the door when I hear her key in the lock and then, when she comes in, and then just walk away.

She's has to do some serious bribery to make up for this time.

Thursday, September 11, 2008

Sharing

Sometimes when the windows are open I like to sit in them and watch the world go by. It's fun, but one day Crash decided that she wanted that same window even though all the windows were open.






We almost had a fight but I decided to be the better cat and shared the window with her.

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

Family Album

Aren't we cute. We're so good. I think we were just resting until we could think of more mischief. These are our beds that our mom bought for us so we wouldn't get our hair all over the furniture. When we discovered that was the reason she gave them to us, we decided not to use them anymore and now we sleep right on the furniture.


This is a nice picture of me. It looks like I'm smiling.


Here's Burnie in the toy box. He doesn't like to share his toys.


Here's Burnie looking so innocent.



Tuesday, September 9, 2008

Decoration

A little while ago my mom made a decoration for the table. It had lots of fun toys in it, but we weren't allowed to play with them.



Burnie kept getting us into trouble because he just wouldn't leave them alone and he was very noisy whenever he went on the table and moved the eggs. I got away with it a lot more because I was very quiet and nobody knew what I was doing.




The fuzzy chicks were a lot of fun to play with. I'd throw them up in the air and catch them and then bat them around the floor. One time I even killed one of them. That was bad.




It's a good thing they weren't real.

Monday, September 8, 2008

Pictures

According to mo, Daisy has a lot of adventures and even has her own Sunday comics on her blog. Sometimes Daisy even models new clothes, they are very nice. My mom and I enjoy watching Daisy's adventures, but she better not try to dress me like Daisy. I prefer the nature look. I don't even wear a collar.

Here are some pictures of us. On the first one, I was watching the space shuttle come in for a landing.


I guess I needed a nap after all that tv watching.



Doesn't Burnie look so innocent. I wonder what he had been into.




Saturday, September 6, 2008

Ladders

I also like to climb ladders. My mom usually tries to lock me up before she brings the ladder out, but sometimes she forgets and I climb up to the top.




Sometimes I get scared when I'm on the top. It's so embarrassing. I have to be rescued.

Friday, September 5, 2008

Boxes

I like to play with boxes. Sometimes I just sit in them and sometimes I like to bite off pieces. I don't eat them though, they don't taste too good. They taste like cardboard.





And sometimes I even like to sit in the box and bite off the pieces.

Thursday, September 4, 2008

I had so much fun last night. When it was time for bed, I quickly went into the room and waited and waited for Crash to relax. Then I quietly walked around the bed and there she was on the floor relaxing. I went up to her and scared her. She didn't want to play, so she just started hissing and growling as usual. I chased her around the room for a little while, then gave up.

When she had calmed down, I juped into a box and she jumped. It was so much fun to scare her.

Tuesday, September 2, 2008

Hiding

Burnie here. I also like to hide. One time (this was so much fun) I hid under the bathroom sink and didn't answer my mom. She called and called and then went out in the street to look for me, as if I would ever leave this comfortable home.

After a while I decided she had been punished enough and wanted to jump out and surprise her, but the door to the cabinet was closed and I couldn't push it open. I cried and cried for such a long time until she came. The joke was on me.



I still like exploring.

Monday, September 1, 2008

Burnie's Turn

Burnie here to give my side of the story. Yes, I do sleep a lot, but that's because I'm bored. I have no one to play with. Crash doesn't like to play with me, she just hisses and growls and then I get into trouble. I'm always getting yelled at. Poor me.




Once we lived with two bigggg dogs and two other cats and a rabbit and a bird. I didn't sleep much then. I always had someone to play with.