Saturday, February 28, 2009

Cleaning & Organizing

The other day I learned that my new desk will be arriving on Tuesday. That means that I only have two days to get my office cleared out of the old desk and other pieces of furniture that I've been using for storage.

This morning I started on the task and set up my computer to play my music. I made a little progress with the paperwork. I must have filled three garbage bags with shredded papers. I also did some filing (I hate filing). Then I started getting hungry and stopped for lunch. Since then I've had a hard time getting back to work.

I found a box of pictures and of course, had to check them all out. Then the mail came. Of course I had to stop and read it. All the while I was cleaning and sorting I had to take time to check my email occasionally. At some point I hurt my thumb, probably the strain of filing and tearing up papers that don't have to be shredded.

Then it was time to get ready to go out to dinner with friends.

Will I ever get this room ready?

Friday, February 27, 2009

Internal Injuries

About four months ago I was stopped to let traffic pass and someone came up behind me and ran right into my car. The driver admitted it was his fault as he was late for an appointment. We exchanged telephone numbers and since I couldn't see any damage to my car, we drove on. A little further down the road, I saw that the same driver was pulled over to the side of the road, probably receiving a speeding ticket.

I checked with the dealer and he said that since all my doors were working, there probably wasn't any damage. I recently noticed that the area with the spare tire wasn't laying flat so I mentioned this when I brought my car in for service.

Then we discovered the internal injuries. The underside of the car is pushed up and the muffler is slightly bent. I'd heard so much about the expense of repairing new cars that I was nervous about visiting the body shop. I expected a five or even six figure repair bill. Imagine my surprise when I found out that it will only be a three figure repair.

So, as soon as I finish with jury duty, I'll get my car fixed as good as new. And, I lost the other driver's telephone number, so I'll have to pay.

Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Jury Duty

I got a pleasant surprise today. A few weeks ago I got a summons for Jury Duty. It was confusing. It said that I'm supposed to call on Friday to see if I'm supposed to report, but it also said that I was to report on Wednesday. I didn't know which was right.

Now, I'm from New York, the city. I've served on juries there a couple of times. There, the judges and lawyers are all very pleasant and helpful. But the clerks can be rude and uncooperative sometimes. Because of my experiences, I was reluctant to call to find out exactly when I'm supposed to report.

Today, I got up the nerve and got the most helpful clerk. She even gave me her name, which I promptly forgot. She explained that I definitely should call over the weekend. I asked if I should report on Wednesday even if they don't call my number. She said that they almost definitely will call my number and I will have to report on Wednesday.

After all my years in New York dealing with the clerks in Jury Duty and the clerks in Motor Vehicles, I'm pleasantly surprised by the helpfulness of the clerks in New Jersey. I may even stay here for a while.

Monday, February 23, 2009

Burnie's Tale

I've been tricked. I should have expected it. All week, Mom kept saying that I was going to the doctor, but she took advantage of my liking to crawl into boxes and lured me into my carrier.

This is my favorite way to spend the day.

Not anymore. Today, she put one of my favorite toys in the carrier and I followed it in. THEN, she locked the gate.

Off we went to the car. As soon as she started belting me in, I knew something was up. I thought we were going to a new house again. But no. She was taking me to the doctor. I let her know my displeasure right away and yelled all the way to there. I even yelled in the waiting room, everyone came out to see who was making so much noise.

The vet agreed with everything I already knew. I either have asthma or a hairball I can't get up and my limp is probably arthritis. He also said I'm a big boy, a healthy 13.5 pounds. He gave Mom some medicine to help me cough up some hairballs. That takes all my fun away. I like getting her upset with my coughing.

Just when I was starting to like this vet, he jabbed me with a needle. I really let him know how I felt. I did like him though when he agreed that some calicos, like Crash, can be "difficult".

When we got home, mom felt guilty about this visit so she gave me, just me, some of that special cat milk. I love it, maybe I'll forgive her.
Right now, I'm so tired, I think I'll take a nap on her new chair. She wouldn't dare complain. I think she's going to be nice to me for a while. I really made her feel guilty for putting me in my carrier and taking me to the vet.
Bye for now.

Saturday, February 21, 2009

Office Furniture

I've decided that this year is the year that I finally organize my office. For a start, I decided to replace the old kitchen chair that I've been using and that is starting to creak and groan whenever I sit down.

When I ordered my new chair over the phone I was told that if I couldn't assemble it, I could bring it to the store and have it assembled. I opted to assemble it myself. After all, how hard could it be. It probably only has a few pieces. How wrong I was. I had to assemble the whole thing.

It wasn't that it was too hard, it was really a two person job. But I did have help. Burnie supervised the whole job.
I found it easier to do the work on the bed since I didn't have to bend as much and the mattress was soft enough to help in balancing the chair.

I think Burnie approved of the job I did. I couldn't get a picture of him, he was too fast. He was the first to use my new, fully assembled chair.

I also ordered several desk pieces which will give me a lot of workspace. Unfortunately, I used the wrong model numbers for two pieces and I will have to assemble them myself. The other three pieces will be assembled, for a fee of course.
Hopefully, when I have all my desk space I'll be able to organize myself better.

Thursday, February 19, 2009

Books, Books, Books

Today I decided to stop in at my local Barnes & Noble, just to browse. Yeah right.

I did originally look for a cookbook for healthful eating and found it. Instead of buying it then, I decided to look around. Big mistake. I saw that three of my favorite authors have new books - Maeve Binchey, Linda Fairstein and Iris Johansen. Of course, James Paterson also has a couple of books out too.

I'm so far behind in my reading that I wasn't pleased to see all those books. But, I did order them (at a discounted price) when I got home. Now all I need is a week or two or maybe a month with nothing to do so I can sit and read.

Travelling President

Correct me if I'm wrong. I thought our president was concerned about our overuse of fuel. I thought he wanted us to drive less, thus reducing our dependence on foreign oil.

Why then has he spent the greater part of this week travelling all over. Over the three day weekend he flew to Chicago and back to Washington. On Tuesday, he flew to Denver and back to Washington. On Wednesday, he flew to Arizona and back to Washington. Today he has flown to Canada. I assume he will fly back to Washington. Then where will he go next?

If he worked for an employer other than the we taxpayers, he would have been obligated to fly to Chicago, then directly to Denver, then to Arizona and then to Canada and finally back to Washington.

I thought he was computer savy. Has this man never heard of teleconferencing? He could have saved all that fuel by just having his meetings via the computer in the Oval Office, or he could have just televised all his signings and rallies.

I don't expect him to fly commercial, but he is putting an awful lot of miles on Air Force I and burning a lot of fuel that could have been given to some of the states that could use it for their emergency vehicles, or even sold at a very low rate to poor people who need their cars for transportation.

This is a terrible waste of energy and our money.

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

Eating Too Much

Last year I wrote about drinking. Without realizing it, we are drinking more than we used to because of supersized glasses.

Today, I read an article in The Wall Street Journal that the same thing is happening to food. The cuprit this time is portion distortion in recipes. A study published this week in Annals of Internal Medicine looked at how classic recipes have changed during the past 70 years. They found an almost 40% increase in calories per serving for nearly every recipe reviewed.

The study identified the trend in numerous cookbooks, but it focused on Joy of Cooking which was first published in the '30s and regularly updated with new editions since then, most recently in 2006. Of the 18 recipes published in all seven editions, 17 increased in calories per serving. That can be attributed partly to a jump in total calories per recipe, but also to larger portion sizes.

The chicken gumbo in this series went from making 14 servings at 228 calories each in 1936 to making 10 servings of 576 calories each in the 2006 version. There was also a comparison with the book's brownie recipe from the '60s and '70s to the '97 edition. It was the same recipe, same pan, but in the '60s and '70s it yielded 30 brownies. In the '97 edition, it yielded 15.

A popular chocolate chip recipe that decades earlier produced 100 cookies made only 60 cookies during the '80s although no ingredients had changed.

The moral here is, if you're using a new cookbook you may be getting more calories from a recipe than if you used an old cookbook. Time to dust off all those old cookbooks.

Monday, February 16, 2009

Geographical Explorations

I've been trying to decide on a geographical exploration (vacation) for this year. I've heard about a couple of big trips, but this year I'm leaning toward several short trips.

This morning I started looking for someplace to go. I've wanted to go to Gettysburg for some time now, so I looked into that. It's only a 3-4 hour drive from my home. If I plan on staying for 3 days I should be able to see a lot.

Besides the battleground, I want to take a trip to the Eisenhower farm. I was a little disappointed to realize that his library is not on the farm, it is in Abilene KS. Since I visited the Truman Library a few years ago, I've set a goal to visit each presidential library. I'm going to Boston in the fall, so I'll see JFK's library then.

I was quite surprised when I looked at the map. For some reason I didn't realize that Gettysburg is so close to Maryland. I might be able to take a side trip there. I may also stop at Lebanon PA where I worked for one month many, many years ago. Just to see how much the town has changed. I think it may be nice to go there in May.

Our community is also running a trip to Lake George NY this year too. It will be a three day trip, so I'll probably take that one too.

And, of course, I'll go out to Seattle to spend some time with my son. I've seen a lot of the city, so he may have to find something to entertain me.

It's great to be retired. I can finally give in to my wanderlust. Just give me a destination and time to pack and I'm willing to go anywhere.

Sunday, February 15, 2009

I Found Another One

I've written before that I'm not a movie person. Well, tonight I found Gene Wilder in Mel Brooks' Young Frankenstein. I've seen bits of it many times, but I've never sat through the whole movie from start to finish. Tonight I did.

I really enjoyed it. Mel Brooks is such a funny man. I remember one time he appeared as Uncle Phil with Paul Reiser on Mad About You. It was histerical and I understand most of it was ad libbed. He started as a writer on the old Sid Ceasar show, Your Show of Shows which I used to watch on my neighbor's TV because my family had not yet gotten a TV. TV is considered such a staple now, it's hard to imagine any one never having a TV.

I enjoyed the song and dance with Peter Boyle as the monster and Gene Wilder. Their version of Puttin' on the Ritz had me laughing out loud. I also enjoyed their little game of charades while the monster is choking Dr. Frankenstein. The scenes with Gene Hackman as the blind man and the monster were great, even if they were politically incorrect.

Maybe I should just set aside two hours one day a week and sit down and watch a movie. There must be so many out there just waiting to be seen.

Saturday, February 14, 2009


Today I decided to take a ride to the local mall. The first store I stopped at was having a sale. This is a nice store, not high end, but a step or two above J.C. Penney and Sears.

I like shopping this time of year. The stores are anxious to get rid of the winter clothes and make room for the summer clothes. I try to always shop off season. You usually get some good buys and since I'm not getting any taller, everything will still fit next year. Today was no exception. In addition to the end of season sale, there was a discount for Presidents' Day and another for using the store's credit card.

I managed to get two pair of pants and three tops for less than half of the total list price. Not bad, almost as good as the shoes I bought last time. Then I got two pair for less than the cost of one pair.

I made two more stops then I decided that my bags were too heavy so I decided to head home with my buys.

Thursday, February 12, 2009

Stimulus Bill

I heard some news today that made me think that congress should delay voting on the stimulus bill for a week or more.

According to some figures that came out today, retail sales were up in January, not much, but up anyway. New claims for unemployment insurance were lower this week than last week. Again, not by much, but lower. I also heard that home sales were up in January. Could the recession be starting to end?

After all the doom and gloom we've heard the past few weeks, even this little bit of news is encouraging. In fact, I think that if the media took a vacation from economic news, we would see more improvement. People are afraid, they've heard nothing but bad news for months. Even I, an optimist, occasionally give in to the fear. It's time to think about the number of people who are working, the companies that are making money.

Maybe then that person thinking about a new car would actually buy one. The business owner thinking about layoffs might try to postpone them for a month or so to see how his business goes.

I truly believe that voting on the stimulus bill should be postponed for a month. This was put together in a panic and panic action is rarely good. Besides, I think we have a right to see the entire bill since it is our money that will be affected, along with the money and lives of future generations. Let's not make the same mistake as we did with the original bailout last year.

Tuesday, February 10, 2009

Weird but True News

It's been quite a while since I looked at the weird news, so here's some.

At the beginning of the month, there was drunk driver clocked doing 2 mph in a stolen construction lifting machine. He told the cops that he had been dared to take the equipment by a stranger he met on Craigslist. The Mountlake Terrace, WA man was operating the device from the bucket atop the machine's lift arm when stopped. He originally told them he was just driving to the store.

Meanwhile in Germany, the plans to recycle an old bank safe were abandoned when a steel plant worker opened it and found $128,000 inside. The worker returned the cash to Germany's Postbank which blamed the carelessness of an employee who forgot to empty it when a branch office was closed down.

And in England, it's not just the living who get national health care. Hospital administration have hired an exorcist to treat a ghost seen wandering the corridors of Derby's new Royal Hospital. The spirit is thought to be that of a Roman soldier killed on the spot in ancient times. A manager said that he's taking it seriously, as the last thing he wants is staff feeling uneasy at work.

And the best news, which unfortunately is considered weird, but I think is wonderful. A Georgia family was deeply mired in medical debt. They put all their belongings, other than their house, on eBay and received a $20,000 bid. But, and here's the best part, the winning bidders, Donnie and Keith Blair of Texas told the couple to take the money - and keep their belongings.

Wish there were more people like that.

Monday, February 9, 2009

Furniture Placement

The more things change the more they remain the same.

For the first year I was married, my husband and I rearranged our living room 13 times. I was just never satisfied with the outcome.

Even when we had our house in Queens, I was constantly rearranging. The other night I looked around my current living room and saw that not much had changed.

Both in Queens and here in NJ, I have the couch opposite the TV and stereo, to the right, there is another couch with the coffee table. Off to the left there is a chair. The only difference is that there was a door to the left in Queens.

No wonder I consider my living room to be non-descript and not interesting. I'm so boring. Maybe it's time to rearrange again, after all I've had this arrangement for almost a year.

Sunday, February 8, 2009


I've written before that Burnie likes to climb, I guess that's because he has a bad hip that makes jumping difficult. I've always felt confident about leaving things on the counter because of this.

Yesterday I bought a rolling cart for the kitchen. I don't think there is a kitchen anywhere that has enough storage and counter space. This cart adds 2 ft of counter and is at the same level as the counter. I guess I wasn't thinking about the arrangement because I put the cart at the end of the counter, right next to my garbage pail which is next to a small table that Burnie sits on to look out the window. Big mistake.

This morning I heard a noise, but I ignored it. About 15 minutes later I walked into the kitchen and there was Burnie sitting on top of the refrigerator not able, or knowing how, to get down. I had to show him where to go. He seemed to climb onto his little table, then onto the garbage pail, then the cart and then walked along the counter to the refrigerator where he was able to climb onto the top.

That's one of his favorite things to do - climb, but then he "trees" himself and needs help.

Saturday, February 7, 2009


I usually don't like movies, mainly because I don't like to sit still that long. About 1/2 hour is my limit. After that I get restless.

Tonight was the exception. My local PBS station was showing Rain Man. That is the one movie that I can sit through without getting antsy. It's such a good movie and Dustin Hoffman is a fantastic actor. He was so believable as Raymond, and Tom Cruise, although his character was not so nice, wasn't too hard on the eyes.

This was the second time I saw the movie and also the second time I was able to sit still for two hours. I thoroughly enjoyed it.

Friday, February 6, 2009

A Day in the City

Yesterday I had plans to meet four of my friends (three work in the city and the other was commuting like me) in the city for dinner. Plans had been made weeks in advance. Because I enjoy walking around the city, I left early and took my camera.

Evidently the three workers thought that I would not be coming in since it was very cold yesterday. They discussed plans via e-mail and somehow they decided not to show up. My other friend and I were the only ones who went to the restaurant where we had a great dinner. If we had only know the others were not coming, we would have uptown and had a discounted meal. Twice a year, for a week, major restaurants in the city get together and offer a special meal at a much lower price than their usual fare.

One thing confuses me. It seems that they expected to hear from me again that I was going. I explained that I would have definitely called if I were not going. Oh well, at least I got a few pictures of the changing neighborhood of downtown Manhattan.

Here are a couple.
The building with the American Flag is the New York Stock Exchange. You can see how crowded this area is. The streets are very narrow.
This is a shot of Trinity Church at the head of Wall Street. This church is one of the oldest in the city and even has a gravesite dedicated to Americans who died in the American Revolution.

Another view of Trinity Church, this time on Broadway.

This is just an old building. I love the decorations on the facade. I wanted to get some of these pictures before these old buildings are demolished for residences or more modern office buildings.

Hope you enjoyed these pictures.

Wednesday, February 4, 2009

Newspeak is Here

This morning I had the bright idea of blogging on newspeak. I first heard this word many, many, many years ago when I read 1984. Then it seemed so far in the future, now the year 1984 is so far in the past.

I went to google to check out the word - according to the newspeak dictionary - it is propagandist language marked by euphemism, circulocation and the inversion of customary meanings. I looked for some examples. I heard this one today. Some of Obama's selections for cabinet positions are "tax challenged". That's such a nice way of describing a tax cheat or tax evader.

Another one is "fetal reduction" which in reality is aborting/killing a developing baby or babies when there is a chance of multiple births. That has been suggested lately in the California octoplet case.

There is one case of newspeak that I would like to see. I think we should change the description of the recent government bailout of banks to taxpayer bailout of banks or the nationalization of banks. The proposed stimulus bill should be called the Taxpayer Pays for Everything bill.

But that will never happen because once the taxpayers realize they are paying for all this, they will rebel. Maybe that's not such a bad idea.

Now, I'll step off my soapbox before I'm thought to be a crimethinker by Big Brother.

Tuesday, February 3, 2009

Snow - New Jersey Style

The weatherman finally got it right. We have snow! And it's the perfect snow, nice and crunchy underfoot. AND, so far the roads and driveways are clear - the snow is not sticking. The lawn areas and trees have kept the snow. This is the way I love it.

Here are comeshots I took this afternoon.

Everything looks so clean and fresh. There's a chance we'll get more later, but I'm not holding my breath. I know this is nothing compared to the rest of the country, but so far it's the best we can do.

Sunday, February 1, 2009


Last week I mentioned the book Hard to Place (pub. North Star Press) written by a friend of mine, Marion Goldstein. Yesterday it finally arrived.

I sat down to read and stopped only for dinner and sleep, then started again this morning until I finished it. It's a wonderful story about Marion and her desire to be a mother. She also covers memories of growing up in Brooklyn, NY.

After she had three children and the death of a premature infant, she and her husband decided to look into the prospects of adopting a hard to place child. Eventually they heard about two very young boys who had been neglected by their parents and removed from the home by the Canadian Social Service Department. Marion and her family adopted these two boys and this book is their story.

Marion also goes into other parts of her life, her parents and her return to school to become a psychologist while raising five children. There were parts of this book that I especially liked because I knew the people and places she mentioned.

Naturally, not everything went smoothly for this family, but they got through it as a family. Marion mentions her aprehension when the boys wanted to search for their biological family, but she and her husband supported that search. They even accompanied the boys on a reunion with their two sisters and mother.

This is a wonderful book - some tears, some chuckles, lots of love between husband and wife, between parents and children and between brothers and sisters. I heartily recommend this book.