Thursday, April 30, 2009
I thought about having a party, but I decided that would look like a bid for presents and would be tacky. Instead I'm going to open a small bottle of champagne and toast myself, give Crash and Burn some treats and look forward to another year.
There is one thing I did find amusing. Aside from the usual greetings from friends and relatives, I have received a card from my broker (I guess he feels guilty that he didn't get me out of the market in time), Dress Barn that gave me a coupon for $10, a bank that probably wants some of my money, Mensa, Webshots.com, Cunard Lines to remind me that they are still sailing and a casino. Funny, my friends and relatives wished me well, the others just want me to spend my money. Why can't they send me real presents?
That's all for now. I'm going to open my champagne now. Cheers!
Tuesday, April 28, 2009
Yesterday's flyby over downtown Manhattan and New Jersey to take pictures of the president's 747 with F16's following was, in my opinion, foolhardy, insensitive and a colossal waste of money. How much fuel was used flying Air Force 1 from Andrews AFB to New York City and back? It probably cost about $240,000 for a few pictures.
How can the president justify such an expense in a time of huge deficits just to take pictures of the Statue of Liberty? Aren't there any stock photos? I would think it would have been possible to get these shots from a satellite, or even Google Earth without flying so low. Don't they have any cameras with zoom capability?
Now to the point of the fears of the people. The president's office has said that a deputy mayor and the police department were advised this would take place but they were asked to keep it quiet. Mayor Bloomberg and Police Commisisoner Kelly should have been notified directly, if not personally, by the president and it should have gotten full publicity. Some of the buildings were evacuated and workers stood around the building while others started walking away from the area, heading north.
I can only imagine the fear those people felt when they saw this low flying plane directly overhead. I would have been a wreck. I know when I see tape of that flight, I get a sinking feeling and I know that it was a harmless flight. You don't get over 9/11 if you were anywhere in the vicinity of NYC on that horrible day.
I have some questions for the White House. Why all the secrecy? Why was this on a "need to know basis"? What was so important that this flight had to be taken on a workday when so many office buildings were occupied? Why couldn't the people be given a heads up? Again, why was it so important that this fly-over be kept secret? Who was on that plane and why were pictures needed? Why all the secrecy from an administration that promised transparancy. We deserve answers.
The White House has now banned such flights. Too little, too late.
Monday, April 27, 2009
I don't want to minimize the people who have this flu, but we have to consider the size of our population before we panic. Most of the students are already recovering and the school has taken steps to thoroughly clean the building. Most of the affected students spent spring break in Mexico.
The residents of California, Arizona, New Mexico and Texas have a right to be concerned. Those states are being infiltrated by illegal aliens from Mexico. These are in all likelihood poor people who have not had adequate diets to improve their immune systems. This is probably the reason why the only deaths from the disease so far have occurred in Mexico. This is yet another reason to increase our border security.
Other countries are starting to panic. Russia plans on stopping importation of US pork and beef, although there is no evidence that this flu can be caught from eating those foods. I can understand someone's not wanting to travel to Mexico, besides the flu they have other serious problems.
I don't see this epidemic becoming like the pandemic of 1918. At that time, most countries were isolated from other countries, nutrition was poor and everyone's immune system was weak.
This may just be another of those crises that President Obama's people don't want to waste. See how quickly he reacted? I'm just waiting to hear him say that he inherited this problem out of force of habit.
I'm not minimizing the problem, but let's keep it in perspective and be alert for symptoms. And, above all, eat properly, get enough rest and you should be OK. Don't panic.
Sunday, April 26, 2009
She has written a series of stories with Alexandra Cooper as the main character. Alex Cooper is an Assistant District Attorney in NYC. The stories revolve around crimes in various parts of the City, and include some little known history.
In this story, there are two murders and there seems to be a connection with a priceless edition of Alice in Wonderland. Most of the action takes place in the New York Public Library on Fifth Avenue and 42nd St. Before reading this book, I already knew that there used to be a reservoir on the site of Bryant Park just behind the library. But, I never knew or dreamed that there were so many subterranean levels. There is an area where the books and maps are repaired and a crew of artists work.
I also learned that there is an apartment in the building for the chief engineer and his family. One of the characters describes living there as a child.
The story then takes us to an ancient cemetery on 2nd Avenue and 2nd St. called New York Marble Cemetery, Incorporated in 1831. It really exists, I Googled it!
I've read most of Ms. Fairstein's books and have thoroughly enjoyed them. They give the reader an insight into old New York while taking place now. Alex Cooper and her two detective friends, Mike Chapman and Mercer Wallace work together to solve crimes and when time permits try their hands or minds at Final Jeopardy.
If you get a chance, try to read one of her books, Killer Heat, Bad Blood, Entombed, The Deadhouse. They're interesting and informative. I think you'd like them even if you don't come from New York City.
Saturday, April 25, 2009
It was so nice that I opened a few windows to let in some air. As soon as they were opened, this is what happened. They came from near and far just to sit in the window and watch the world go by. It didn't even bother Crash that Burnie was sitting so close to her. She really wanted that fresh air.
This is what Spring looks like in my house. At one point there were three birds in the grass, but Burnie meowed and they flew away. He was so disappointed.
Later, after I closed the windows, he got his claw caught in the curtain and knocked the curtains down. I now have a nice curve in the rod.
Thursday, April 23, 2009
There were many dire predictions put out at that time, some resulted in dramatic changes. Lake Erie is the prime example. At that time, the lake was dying, the pollution was so bad. Over time and as a result of some laws and a lot of clean-up, Lake Erie is again thriving.
There were other predictions, I'll let you be the judge about them. Some experts predicted that food shortages would raise the level of world hunger and starvation to unbelievable proportions. Yes, there is world hunger and starvation, but most of it is the result of corrupt governments.
Pollution was considered to be a such big danger in 1970 that within a short time citizens would be forced to wear gas masks in order to breathe and life expectancy in the US would be reduced to 48. Various clean air acts were passed and that never happened.
There have been a lot of positive changes since that first Earth Day, but there have also been some failures.
I don't know whether or not this would be considered a failure, but it is a double-edged sword. DDT had been implicated in the decimation of several bird species due to egg-shell thinning and several human cancers including breast cancer. DDT was banned by 1972. DDT was originally used successfully to reduce deaths from malaria. However, since it was banned, there was a resurgence of malaria-carrying mosquitos worldwide. It has been estimated that there are between 600 and 900 million cases of malaria a year and that about 2.7 million people die of it annually. It's too bad that it can't be used only in the areas where malaria is prevalent. Maybe some lives could be saved.
But then, that would lead to an increase in world population, and maybe to the famines they were predicting in 1970 and reduction in natural resources and increase in air pollution.
Newsweek magazine in January 1970 did something unheard of now. They actually printed two sides of the same story. One story predicted that the world is threatened with a rise in average temperature which if it reached 4 or 5 degrees could melt the polar ice caps and raise sea level by as much as 300 feet and cause worldwide flooding. The magazine also noted that several scientists saw temperatures dropping. If the trend continued from the previous 20 years, the world would be about 11 degrees colder by the end of the century. This is about twice what it would take to put us into an ice age.
Maybe the latter scientists were right. Maybe we're not undergoing global warming, but the normal end of the ice age that was predicted in 1970. It's something to think about.
Yes, most of those predictions were wrong, either because the experts guessed incorrectly or because we took control and cleaned the air, rivers and lakes. We're wasting less, recycling more.
Tuesday, April 21, 2009
I still love books, but I find it so hard to find the time to read now that I'm retired. There always seems to be something else to do. I have such a backlog of books and now I've learned that James Patterson has another book in his Women's Murder Club series. There's a biography of Yogi Berra that I simply have to read, Dan Brown has another book coming out soon, and I just found out that Lis Wiehl who is a legal analyst for Fox News has written her first novel, Face of Betrayal which is about three women - a reporter, a Federal Prosecutor and an FBI agent - as they investigate the disappearance of a senate page. It looks very interesting. Iris Johansen also has a new book out. When are these people going to take a break so I can catch up with them?
Maybe I'll try setting aside an hour each day to read. I tried that a few years ago, but gave it up because it seemed that my phone never stopped ringing, even though I normally got few calls.
Or, maybe I can sleep less and use that time to read.
Or, I could just try a little self-discipline and sit down and read.
Monday, April 20, 2009
My dinner was delicious, unfortunately others at the table weren't so fortunate. We had filet mignon that was supposed to be cooked medium rare. Mine was cooked right, but there were several that were well done. I guess that was an omen that we should have stayed home.
They had a wonderful assortment of gifts that we all took a lot of chances on. They had gift certificates for local restaurants, an overnight in Atlantic City, some wine, some Bailey's with glasses, and pocketbooks with pashmina scarves. There was one that I made a deal with one of my friends on. A local Italian restaurant offered a $25 gift certificate and four Toile Placemats that I really wanted. I offered the gift certificate, but even that selfless gesture didn't enable me to win the placemates. I did win a basket containing a crystal vase with silk flowers, a mirror and a picture frame along with a table lamp. The last time I went to the fundraiser I saw a book on a lovely blue throw which happened to be placed on a chair. When I won, I discovered that I also won the chair which didn't fit into any of our cars. One of our neighbors had to take it home for us.
Some of our group did win gift baskets including an assortment of Joan Rivers (my favorite) jewelry, another won a selectioon of cat products, but the big winner was on the 50-50. She won $435.00. Good for her.
Maybe we'll have better luck next year.
The dinner and auction lasted longer than we all thought and I had just enough time when I got home to change my shoes and head over to our meeting of the wine club. We tasted five different Cabernet Sauvignons. It's amazing how different the same grape can taste when it comes from different vineyards and countries.
We're just starting, this was the first real tasting. We have about 30 members and I've spoken with a few others who are interested in joining. There is one thing I did learn last night and that is that I can "eyeball" a serving of 2 ounces or 1/4 cup. I'm very proud of that.
Saturday, April 18, 2009
Last Monday, I saw this headline in the NY Post online edition, "Cheers as Yanks beat the Pirates". I was confused, I couldn't understand why there would be such inter-league play at the beginning of the baseball season. Then I read the article and understood.
That was the catchy headline for the story about Capt. Phillips' rescue by the Navy Seals. This is truly a great story. Here, this captain was willing to be taken prisoner by the pirates so that his men and ship would be safe. He had no idea what would happen to him, yet he was willing to risk his life for his men. He is truly a hero.
Also to be commended, are the three Navy Seals' Snipers who were able to take out the pirates with a single shot each. Amazing.
I've been critical of the president recently, but I understand that he gave the orders to shoot if Captain Phillips' life was in danger. Good work, Mr. President.
Friday, April 17, 2009
According to an article from NBC Washington that was on the internet when President Obama made his speech on the economy last Wednesday, it seems that the White House asked the university to cover a symbol of Jesus. The gold "IHS" monogram inscribed on a pediment was covered over by a piece of black painted plywood. The university said that they had been asked to cover all university signage and symbols behind the stage in Gaston Hall. If the president didn't want a sign of religion visible, he should not have spoken at a Catholic, private university.
There has been a lot of controversy over Notre Dame's inviting the president to speak at the commencement this year. I have conflicting thoughts on this. You have to separate the office from the man. Having the President speak is a good thing, however, giving him an honorary degree is another. His views and actions are quite different from Catholic teaching. His allowing federal funding for embryonic stem cell research is wrong, as is his desire to rescind the Freedom of Conscience Act. There are enough doctors and nurses who are willing to perform abortions, no doctor or nurse should be forced to perform these procedures that are contrary to their beliefs.
Along the same lines, have you heard about the College of Alameda. It seems that a student met a teacher who was feeling ill. The student asked the teacher if she would like the student to pray for/with her. Evidently the teacher consented. Another teacher came into the room and told the student that praying was not allowed. This student was suspended, but the administration backed away from the suspension with the warning that the student cannot engage in disruptive behavior. This prayer was between two consenting people.
The school may revise the district's policy so that prayers would not be prohibited as long as they are not disruptive. This student occasionally makes quiet, nondisruptive personal prayers during class, such as saying, "Lord, Jesus, help me".
How many of us are guilty of the same statement, or something similar. We'd better be careful where we speak, it may be considered disruptive or offensive in the mall, subway, etc.
Thursday, April 16, 2009
I started looking at my calendar tonight trying to find some time. This month is already full, and May is looking pretty full too. The first week of May I'm going to Lake George in New York. I'll be away for three days, one riding up there, one day there and one day returning home. I had originally planned on my Gettysburg trip in May, but I realized I can't leave Crash and Burn again. As it is, Crash follows me all over the house. I'm surprised she isn't trying to walk along my desk right now. She's not like other cats, she doesn't need much sleep.
I think I'll invite my friends for a visit in May and go to Gettysburg in June. Now I know why I didn't spend much time with my friends when I was working. There just wasn't enough time. I'm so glad that they didn't give up on me and we can now catch up and renew our friendships.
I'm so happy to be retired. It's wonderful, even if sometimes I plan too much to do.
Wednesday, April 15, 2009
The crowds were loud but orderly, quite different from some of the rallies and protests I've seen in the past. There were signs protesting the deficits, socialism, bailouts, etc. There were also signs protesting the president and congress.
Tonight I decided to get another perspective and tuned in MSNBC. I caught parts of the Rachel Maddow show and Keith Olberman. Their attitude seemed to be that these were just a bunch of ill informed and ignorant people. They both took great delight in the idea that "tea bagger" has a double meaning, understood only by sophisticated people like them. They asked several people in the crowds if they knew the meaning, which, of course they didn't. That became a joke. Apparently decent people don't know all about the coarse slang understood by the people at MSNBC. I'm proud to be among the "ignorant" who don't understand this slang.
I'm glad to see people beginning to protest the way our country is going. I think part of the impetus for this is the fact that Obama ran on the idea of change and transparancy, but we're seeing a lot of the same overspending that we saw during the Bush administration and no change. The only change I've seen is the fact that we are now spending more of our tax dollars to pay for abortions.
Tuesday, April 14, 2009
We had our first planning session tonight and I was made a co-chair. Being the Foodie that I am, I'm looking forward to checking out the recipes and maybe even trying them. It's going to be a lot of work and I'm hoping we get a lot of submissions from our neighbors.
There are so many things to be done. We have to plan the cover and format, set a date for publication, make sure all the recipes are written in the same format and most importantly sell enough to make a profit that we can give back something to our community.
Oh, what have I gotten myself into? I have to volunteer for everything. Does anyone have a cure for volunteeritis?
Sunday, April 12, 2009
I accepted her invitation and have just gotten home from a fun day. She's a wonderful hostess, the food was delicious and of course, the desserts were great. I had such a wonderful time, seeing my nieces and their husbands and their children. The only thing about the day that bothered me was seeing all those used to be babies graduating college, high school and even having babies and grandchildren of their own. How could they have gotten so old while I still feel like I'm 35.
These people were all my in-laws. How many people can say they really enjoy the company of their in-laws? I've been very lucky to have such wonderful in-laws. They are such a happy group of people and so interesting too.
Oh, and my niece, the hostess, is having surgery on her vocal chords tomorrow. I don't know how she does it, I would be a nervous wreck.
Saturday, April 11, 2009
Last night I was watching TV with my two sleeping cats, one on either side of me on the couch. Crash was sleeping quietly, but Burnie was making noises. They were not his usual noises of snoring, wheezing or even purring. This was different. I decided to check on him, so I just put my hand softly on his back. I never saw him move so fast. This gentle, laid back cat, turned and sunk either his teeth or claws into my hand. After looking at the marks now, I think he bit me and slid his teeth along.
Here are some pictures which were very hard to take. He got my right hand which is the hand I use to snap pictures, so they might not be very sharp. I had to balance the camera on a box and hold on while moving my left hand to snap the picture. Also, please don't pay any attention to any wrinkles.
That's not a mark on my thumb, just the joint, although he did put a puncture in my thumb, but it's not visible.
Thursday, April 9, 2009
Of course, I immediately checked out New Jersey and found that there are quite a lot of interesting places. There's a zoo with the largest private collection of animals in the United States. There's also a living history farm, along with many state parks that I never knew existed. There are many museums and the Wheaton Arts and Cultural Center which has a museum with glass pieces by Dale Chihuly who I think is a genius with glass.
I also discovered that there is a wolf sanctuary in Pennsylvania that I hope to visit and quite a few placed in New York that I've never visited. I checked our the neighboring states and found a lot of places to visit. After those places, I'll head west and south and north. Can't go east since I'm very close to the Atlantic Ocean.
There are so many places I want to see and this book will be a great guide for organizing my day trips, two or three day trips and even week long trips. I can't wait to get started. So much to see, so little time.
Wednesday, April 8, 2009
Even my daylillies by the side of the house have started growing.
Indoors I've taken cuttings from my coleus and am rooting them. I'd like to put them outdoors when (if) it ever warms up. The front of my house gets full sun in the afternoon and they would be a wonderful red.
Monday, April 6, 2009
I'm a very good girl. Every night when my mom says that it's time for bed, I just walk into the bedroom, get my drink of water and wait. Then she has to wake Burnie up and carry him because he's too lazy to walk into the room.
Do you know what he did to me last night? Well, I'll tell you. When we go to bed, his spot is at mom's feet and I lay next to her pillow and we all sleep well. Last night, Burnie had the nerve to take my spot, then he went into a sound sleep and we couldn't move him.
Last week, he took mom's spot on the couch and now, my spot in bed. The nerve! I think he's trying to take over the house. What can we do about him?
Sunday, April 5, 2009
While I was waiting for the water to boil (it's true a watched pot never boils) I started thinking about "tea time". When I was still living in Queens I had an elderly housebound neighbor. Every Sunday afternoon I would go over to her house where we would chat and discuss books. Then we would go and have a cup of tea and a cookie or two. It was a nice way to end the weekend and relax to get ready for work the next day.
After I moved away, I tried to visit Grace whenever I was in the neighborhood. Because I had so many problems in my new home, Grace always said I should never have moved away. Sometimes I think she was right.
She recently passed away. I really miss our "tea time".
Saturday, April 4, 2009
While looking for a theme for our writing group, I saw in a book that you should write about familiar things, such as pets or driving. So, this is what I wrote on my adventures in driving. I try to put a little humor into everything I write. This is how I learned to drive.
I guess I was about 18 when I first attempted to drive. My brother was in Germany as a guest of our Uncle Sam. He begrudgingly agreed to let me learn on his ’54 Chevy which was a stick shift.
One day when we were at my aunt’s home in the “country” I talked my mother into letting me try driving. We went out to the dirt road and went over the routine of a stick shift. Then I was allowed to start the car and suddenly, we were moving. I felt good, unfortunately my mother didn’t agree. All she could see was a tree that was coming closer and closer. She started yelling that I should look out for the tree and turn. Being the sensible and reasonable 18 year old that I was, I stopped the car, got out and refused to go any further. So much for my first lesson.
About three years later I decided to try again. I signed up with a driving school. For my first lesson, I got in the car, started the engine and took off. The instructor gave me directions to Linden Boulevard, a three lane, busy street. I did do better this time, I managed to stay straight, even if I did seem to drive closer to the left side of the road than to the right.
After only six lessons, I decided that I was ready for my license. Ahh, the arrogance and confidence of youth. Of course, I failed. Time for more practice.
I asked everyone I knew to take me out to practice. I tried every type of car – sedan, station wagon. Eventually, I bought a car without a driver’s license and my
boyfriend, future husband, drove. He took me for many practice rides.
One Sunday afternoon, we took one of the back roads in the airport – Idlewild (now JFK). As I drove merrily on my way, I didn’t see the barricade come down as I was passing. All I saw was the barricade a short distance in front of me. Of course, I stopped, because as everyone knows, flashing lights and a lowering barricade means “STOP”.
After a short argument with my boyfriend about whether I should stop or go
ahead, I realized why he was so insistent that I go. Off to my right, there it was – a 707 taxiing down the runway. No, I wasn’t lost, at that time that particular street did cut across a runway, they’ve since changed that traffic pattern.
After cutting a 707 off, I decided I was ready for the test. It wasn’t a pretty sight. Even though there was no one behind me, I couldn’t get out of my parking spot and I screeched the tires on a turn. Even before the test ended, the examiner folded up my test results and put them away. Being the reasonable person that I am, I made a sudden stop and jolted the examiner. Obviously I failed again.
As they say, “The third times a charm”. I finally got my license and have been mobile ever since. I enjoy the freedom that driving gives me. Just give me a destination and the time to get there and I’m in my car.
Anyone for a road trip?
Thursday, April 2, 2009
A little later I had to get up to put a dish in the sink. When I got back I saw that he had moved into the corner where I was sitting. He promptly went to sleep and stopped tapping me. All he wanted was to curl up in the corner and go to sleep. I tried to move him, but he kept going back to my corner and I have to sit on the edge of my seat.
He looks so comfy I hate to disturb him, although maybe I should. After all, he often disturbs my sleep at 5:00 or 6:00 am by tapping my face or combing my hair with his claws.
Wednesday, April 1, 2009
After my trip to St. Louis and Independence Missouri I decided that I would like to visit as many presidential libraries as possible. Lincoln's library is in Springfield, IL. I could easily drive there in a day, take two or three days in Illinois and then another day home. It sounds tempting.
We live in such a beautiful country that it's hard to pick one destination. That's why I visited so many interesting sites on that trip.
My first stop of interest was St. Louis. I really wanted to see the Arch. It's quite impressive.
After St. Louis, I drove to Independence to see the Truman Library. I really don't remember much about him, but I wanted to learn more.
My next big stop was Colorado. I love, love the mountains. They are majestic.
After Colorado, I eventually stopped in Las Vegas where I didn't take any pictures, but spent a few wonderful days with an old friend from grammar school. We had a great visit. Even though it was many, many years since we had seen each other, it felt like just days.
After Vegas, it was on to Seattle - the real reason for the trip. I wanted to spend some time with my son on his birthday. I even got up the nerve to go up in the Space Needle for brunch. The view was spectacular. It would have been even better if the sun had been shining.
After Seattle, I drove (with a stop or two) to Yellowstone. There I fulfilled another dream. Ever since about 5th or 6th grade when we learned about Old Faithful, I've wanted to see it. I did manage to catch an eruption. It's quite a sight and not at all what I expected. It's much better.
I also made a stop at Little Big Horn and then Mt. Rushmore. That's another spectacular sight.
Where should I go next? I would like to see Texas or New Mexico or Arizona or Georgia. Maybe even a return trip to Maine or Alaska. I think until the weather settles down and is consistently warmer I'll stick close to home, maybe Pennsylvania or Virginia or Maryland.
Road trip anyone?