Sunday, May 31, 2009

Names and News

Today, I will make comments on the pronounciation of Mucha and Sotomayor, recommend a couple of books to read, and pass on some observations from Wait, Wait, Don't Tell Me, my favorite radio show. (BTW: look up pronunciation and pronounciation online.. then maybe you will be as confused as I am about which spelling is correct.. or which pronounciation of either is correct.. ain't English great?)

At an art gallery in Towson, Elaine and I were recently shown l0ts of works by Alfonse Mucha. The owner spoke Mucha as MOO-CU(p). I speak Mucha as MU-SHA and sometimes as MU-CHA. Since Al was a Czech, I found out that his name in Czech is pronounced: MOO-CA(r). Suggested pronounciation in English is the same as in Czech. So.. we were both wrong.

In any event, the owner has gone to the Czech Republic and brought back lots of Mucha stuff which she has reframed for sale. One of the items is a framed print of a beautiful (zaftig) young lady, a copy of which I paid $4 at a small antique store in Westminster, Maryland. She is selling it for $250! Her prices are a bit out of range for me; but perhaps not for people who live in Towson.

Once, we found a framed print of a mother with her two daughters at an antique mall in Frederick. We paid a very large price for it. Two store stalls later we found the identical item for much much less. Guess what... the first person gave us our money back and we bought the latter print. (It's still my favorite picture because it looks just like my two beautiful daughters watching my new-born son who is in his mother's arms.)

Now that I have learned how to pronounce Mucha, I turn my attention to Ms Sotomayor. Apparently, there is a Conservative commentator who feels that we should not succomb to the temptation to pronounce her name as though we were Puerto Ricans, but rather pronounce it the good old fashioned American way as: So to mayer. OMIGAWD! What next!

Yesterday, we were happy to attend granddaughter Bridget's college graduation. It was a great day and we are very proud of what a fine young woman she has become. Usually on Saturday morning, I listen to my favorite NPR show: Wait, Wait, Don't Tell Me! So, this morning (Sunday) I listened to the show on my PC. I kind of like this better, because it cuts out 13 minutes of unrelated news and advertising. Some of the things I learned today:

01. Panelist Charlie Pierce has published a new book that will anger a lot of people. I have read parts of it, and I highly recommend it for "thinking" people.. the title happens to be: "Idiot America." You will be hearing a lot about this book, I'm sure.

02. Panelist Roy Blunt, Jr. also has published a new book that will be great, especially for those interested in "words" and their derivations and current and past meanings. I read a couple of pages out on Amazon and found it quite enlightening. The title is: Alphabet Juice (had he already used Alphabet Soup?)

03. Somebody on the show mentioned that for 17 years, Jay Leno "has pretended to be funnier and dumber than he is." Elaine and I feel that since the Writers' Strike, Jay's monologues have not been funny at all. However, we also feel that his most unfunny moment is far and away more funny than anything we have ever seen Conan O'Brien do on his "show". Prediction: The demise of the Tonight Show.

04. Prisoners in France will be participating in a 400 mile bicycle race. It is meant as a rehabilitation aid. One prisoner stated: "It's kind of an escape for us." Time will tell.

05. Robert Earl Keen, Austin, Texas, singer and song-writer had a couple of different type jobs while he was struggling to make it in the business: Singing at Yard-Sales and digging ditches. (His father had always told him: If you stick with music, you'll end up digging ditches.) Once he caught his wife shooting at cats while dressed in her underwear. He was inspired to write a Country song about it.

06. I can not vouch for the truth of this, but it was mentioned in a discussion of the Skull and Bones Society at Yale University. They mentioned that H.W. Bush was the "most sexually experienced" member and W. Bush could not decide on an appellation, and was called "Temporary." ??

07. It was mentioned that a DC Councilman wants to ban pizza joints that serve giant slices of pizza, because these deals draw unsavory customers.

08. This I find the most amazing of anything I've heard lately. Apparently, the city of Hardin, Montana, has a new jail that is empty. They have said that they would like to house the Gitmo prisoners in their new facility. They think that this would result in more income to the city from notoriety, tourism, or whatever would be connected with the move.

How about..... gang members and/or drug sellers being sent to Montana to serve their time, at hard labor. It might keep them out of contact with their buddies and girl friends who smuggle cell phones and other contraband when they visit. Russia had the Gulag.. and just think, some of the prisoners might just find the feeling of accomplishment that Ivan Denisovitch finally felt when his building was completed in spite of the bitter cold, etc..... (read: One Day in the Life of Ivan Denisovitch... a marvelous book that you would never forget.)

09. People from Yuma, Arizona are called yumans.

10. An inventor in France has invented the Dogomatic dog washer.

11. A three year study at Oxford discovered that ducks like water.

12. The people living on Butt Hole Road in Great Britain have successfully changed the name of the street. (There is a group of people on the Internet who are lobbying them to have the name changed back to what it was before.)

13. A man was caught after slashing the tires of 50 automobiles. When asked why he did it, he said it was because his mother made him wear braces 20 years ago. He even carried a picture of himself wearing the braces. The cops agreed that he looked pretty bad then.


PS: if any of my Baltimore readers remember the Electric Park on Belvedere Avenue, please let me know.

Thursday, May 28, 2009

Life in the 1950's

I attended a Crime Prevention seminar last month and heard from law enforcement persons a common theme: Wouldn't it be nice if we could have the society today that we had in the 1950's? Most of the people saying that were not even born in the 1950's.

What was different about the '50's?

The gangs were more like those in Westside Story. Kind of unsophisticated and nowhere near as violent as they are today. I belonged to a couple of "gangs".. I believe I've mentioned this before, but I joined a "North End New Bedford, Massachusetts" gang in order to play "street football." All we did was get together to play in the streets or to talk about girls. I only played in one game.

The night before the game, the "gang" came together to discuss a problem. One of our members was "beaten up" by a member of the "gang" we were going to play on the next day. We shook hands and vowed to slaughter that team to avenge the beating. They "skunked" us! As I nursed the bruises and cuts all over my body, I decided that a gang life was not for me.

Unfortunately, I still thought that I might become a great football player. So, since I was a Freshman in High School, I asked to join the Junior Varsity football team. On the first day of practice scrimmage, I donned my protective gear and ran out on the field. You might have said that I was "bright-eyed and bushy-tailed".. ready to show the world that I was a natural in this sport.

On this day, the Junior Varsity was having an honor bestowed upon them: the captain of the first team was going to show us some great moves. The captain's name was Bobby Watkins and he later became "All American" at Ohio State. (A friend of mine in the service came from Ohio, and was thrilled that I came from the same town as his hero, Bobby Watkins.)

Captain Watkins was, I believe, 5'8" and weighed 280 pounds of solid muscle. (He was "built like a 'fridgerator" as Jim Croce might have said.) Anyway, in the first 2 minutes of the scrimmage, Bobby hit me dead on. Suddenly, my madulla oblongada (sp?) must have come to life.. I said to myself: "To hell with this! A person could get killed." I picked up my mangled body and slinked off the field, never to be heard of by anyone connected with football ever again.

Since I try to make something good out of every experience, I was able to do so this time as well. I realized that even though I no longer was a member of the Junior Varsity.. I could use their initials to good advantage. "JV" Every time there was a New Bedford High School game at Sargeant Field, I would tell the ticket taker: "JV" and he would wave me in without paying. This was certainly not dishonest because "JV" was my initials.

While we are still talking about the '50's and initials, let me tell you what I feel is an amazing story. While attending Boston University, I traveled in a car pool to Boston every day for a year with a friend with the initials PM. (Now I am going to tell what is probably still a secret, but I will not tell the person's real name and maybe that will be ok.)

Under his real name (P.M.), this guy had a radio show each evening from 5 to 7 pm in New Bedford, Massachusetts. At the end of his show at 7 pm, he would quickly drive the 10 miles to Fall River, Massachusetts, where he did another radio show from 8 to 10 pm, under the name Paul Mills (P.M.). The people in New Bedford did not know that he was the same person broadcasting in Fall River.. in fact, he even had a rivalry going between the two shows, and still listeners did not catch on.

Forty years later, after I had been long gone from Massachusetts, I returned for my 40th High School reunion. P.M. was there and we talked. I found out something even more amazing about him. At the same time that he was broadcasting as two separate people from two different cities in Massachusetts, he was somehow squeezing in another two hours a day on an Attleboro, Massachusetts radio station. (Under a different P.M. name!) This guy was and is truly amazing. I wish that I had had more time to talk to him; I"m sure he has other interesting things that he has done with his life.

Another of my friends in the '50's opened a "coffee shop" in New Bedford. (Was that what they were called?) It was in a run-down store-front building. Strong coffee was served and folk songs were sung and stand-up comedians performed. No drugs! No female b
elittling joking! Hardly any profanity. It sure was a gentler time then.

And guess what.. you could walk down any street in my home town without being bothered, mugged or killed.

Parents backed up teachers.

The police walked a "beat" and were friendly towards the people in the neighborhood.

A cup of coffee or a small glass of beer cost 5 cents. I would put a $1 on the bar of the Buttonwood Grill and me and my grandfather would sit there for hours sipping our beer and sharing some of the 20 glasses with friends. (Even with Charlie Wilcox, but that is another story that needs to be told.)

Evenings, I liked to stop at Portuguese bars, have a beer and listen to fados.

Gasoline cost 18 cents a gallon.

I earned $1 per hour at the YMCA.

Life was so much simpler then. Or maybe I'm living in a dream world because I am now an old man.

(Oh.. I forgot about the other gang I was in. It was a very small group.. One day I went to meet with the guys and a new person was there to talk to us. He was a big fat guy, and he took an instant dislike to me. He said that he did not want me there, but my friends talked him into my staying. He talked to us mainly about how we could make it to the "big time" by robbing gas stations and small "mom and pop" stores. Huh? What was this guy talking about? This was not something that I wanted to get involved in. I was definately not an angel, but I did not want to become a "big time" or even a "small time" hood. So, in the middle of this guy's spiel, I got up and walked out, never to return.

I later learned that this guy spent a lot of time in jail, became a "hit man" and later squealed on his buddies. He was given a new identity, which lasted a little while.. but his "buddies" found him and "rubbed him out.") But the "rub-out" was in the '70's, not the idyllic '50's.

Monday, May 25, 2009

Being Short in a Tall Century

Here we go again. North Korea has exploded another nuclear device underground, defying the World. It has been reported that the people of North Korea are starving to death, while a crazy "leader" fools around with "WMD's".. supposedly, he is also about to give up his "leadership" to a relative who probably is as mad as he is.

I read that he is upset that most world leaders are a lot taller than he is. (I'v heard that he wears 6" heels in public.) Maybe this is why he acts the way he does. A lot of the other tyrants were quite short: Napoleon, Hitler, Stalin, and many others. Of course, the matter of shortness has changed quite a bit since I was a child.

When I was eleven years old, I was 5'7" tall and towered over most of the kids I played with. At that time, around the WWII era, average height of Army enlistees was 5'6" (the same height, it might be noted, of Hitler and Stalin). Everyone thought that I was going to grow to be quite tall. However, my body decided that this was the time to stop growing upwards, and stayed at that height for many more years, while all of my pals grew much taller. (Could my mother have been right to say that smoking would stunt my growth? Because, at my eleven year birthday, I started smoking those black, smelly Parodi cigars.)

Anyway, when I was getting ready for being drafted into the Korean War, the Army average height had jumped to 5'7". Now, instead of being above average, I was just "average".

By the time I got back from my "wartime duties" (haha).. the average was 5'8" and has been growing up steadily for years. I think that the last time I saw statistics on height, the average was now up to 5'10". And now... since I am an old dude, I have shrunk! I don't even want to think about how far below average height I am now. But it doesn't really matter. When you are old, people expect you to be short. A friend of mine would be 6'3" if he was able to stand upright. Instead, I can see the top of his head when he "stands" next to me. He is 80 years old, so what does it matter?

I've written somewhere in these blogs about the time I secretly got some of my co-workers at Social Security to attend a meeting. There was no agenda and the only requirement for attendance was they had to be 6'3" or taller. I never did find out if any of them realized by looking around the room that there were no short people there. (Think about that, Randy Newman!)

Take a look at old movies.. Leading men like Humphrey Bogart were short. In the movie Shane, Alan Ladd had to stand on a box during his scenes with other actors. (He was 5'7" supposedly, but probably that was an exageration.) However, there are still a few short famous people around today: I read that France's Nicolas Sarkozey stood on his tiptoes for his photograph with President Obama and Michelle.

Is it the food that is making people so tall? Can we blame this on fast food? I understand that the cattle in the US are raised on growth hormones. Are those chemicals passed on to the eating public? Are vegetarians who do not partake of meat shorter than those that do?

Has anyone done a study on the eating habits of basketball players?

Two of my childhood acquaintances were not growing very fast and were very short, even by the standards of 60 years ago. They were taken by their parents to some doctor (endocronologist?)
where they were given shots of some kind of growth chemical. (I never found out what.) But, whatever it was, it worked.. they grew taller... or was it just that they were late bloomers?

What about Japanese people who were quite short before WWII? Aren't they much taller now that American occupational forces introduced hamburgers and hotdogs into their diet?

And what about the Chinese.. always shown in American movies as very short people... now they probably have more 7-footers than any other country. (Of course, they also have more people than anywhere else.)

Where is all of this going? A scientific study that I read some years ago recognized this tallness phenomena and said that this could only end in disaster because mankind's optimal supportable population would have to be a lot shorter because of the dwindling of Earth's resources. A study I read about last week said that information flows to the brains of short people much quicker than to those of tall people, and this had to be an evolutionary advantage.

Bottom line: so what! Be happy with yourself, even if you are short. The world can't afford any more short dictators with inferiority complexes.

Sunday, May 24, 2009


Elaine tells me that she read where city fathers in a beach community in California are concerned about hundreds of seals who have taken over one of the beach areas. They are going to install recorders and a series of loud speakers and broadcast the sounds of barking dogs in an attempt to scare away the seals. The cost will be $700,000.

By my calculations, with that amount of money they could buy 1,000 large naturally barking dogs, lots of leashes and restraints, and dog houses, and ex-CEO's to manage the dogs. Wouldn't this be a better solution. They must realize that after a while, listening to barking recordings, the seals would just tune them off, or use white-noise headphones.

But with actual dogs, that lunge and jump and chase while barking, the seals would soon get the idea and disappear.

What about those poor home-owners who paid extravagent prices to own beach-front property? What do they think of the sound of barking dogs all day long and probably at night?

Don't these Californians know that after being scared away for a little while, the seals will come back to this place that they have bonded to?

A little while ago, our city of Westminster, Maryland, decided that wild geese and ducks were making too much of a mess at a popular pond where children play and people go to have picnic lunches. They made a concerted effort to scare the birds away, and I think that they even transported a lot of them to other ponds.

Guess what? In a little while, they all came back, and are now once more happily honking and pooping all over the place. The kids and their parents don't seem to mind.

The Social Security Administration headquarters at Woodlawn, Maryland, is the home of hundreds of geese. They come there to enjoy Svahn Lake (a large pool authorized by a Commissioner named Svahn), get fed by some employees and raise their families. Every morning a crew goes around cleaning up all the poop. Nobody even tries to get rid of these birds, because it doesn't work.

So.. the California city managers will learn that you can't fight Mother Nature.

PS There is one similar case that did work but with humans, not animals or birds.. I think it was in London where teenagers were hanging around a mall area and making a mess of it. The merchants bought a big sound system and started playing loud classical music near the congregating area. The teenagers immediately left the area, never to return.

Saturday, May 23, 2009

Saturday News May 23, 2009

Its Saturday and time to bore you again with some probably useless information that I learned this morning from NPR, newspapers and magazines. I'll restrict myself to 10 items.

01. During a Belgian bodybuilding contest, all of the contestants disappeared suddenly when they learned that a steroid tester had arrived.

02. India has 41 cities with over one million people. The total Indian population of one billion is three times the population of the United States. (Genius level IQ is supposed to be had by 2% of any population. This means that India has 13 million more geniuses than the U.S.)

03. Paula Deen's husband is drinking Slim-Fast, trying to lose weight so that he can write a book with the title: I Lost 95 Pounds While Married to Paula Deen. Should be a best-seller.

04. I'm not sure I heard this right, but I think that one of Paula's recipes contains hamburger and Krispy Kreme doughnuts. The doughnuts take the place of hamburger rolls.

05, The Car Talk guys talked about sounds coming from the trunk area of a Toyota Camry. (I have this problem.) Click and Clack suggested replacement of the "anti-sway bar bushings," whatever and wherever they are. (Elaine had her own suggestion: " Take the body out of the trunk!")

06. If you ever need to locate a tire that is grossly underinflated, touch all of them and the hottest one is the choice.

07. The careless co-pilot of the plane that crashed in Buffalo made $16,000 per year. (You get what you pay for, right?)

08. The Vatican now has a website called "Pope2You" (I figure that they might have wanted to use "Pope-Yes", but that was already taken by an American fast food company.)

09. A couple found a Cheetos bite that resembles Jesus. They plan to offer it on EBay.

10. A New York court has ruled that golfers are not legally required to yell "Fore!" when teeing off. The court said the the danger of getting hit is a natural risk of playing the game.


Thursday, May 21, 2009

Mail Call for Joe

This is an exercise to find out if I can talk intelligibly about the most trivial things.

I will talk about my mail today. It came at 1 pm and consisted of:

A letter from an Insurance Company offering me a fantastic mortgage rate.. "because you are a good customer." Well, I dropped that Insurance Company over a month ago when I got a better automobile insurance offer somewhere else. In fact, I found that they had been overcharging me for years. I guess the word hasn't gotten throughout the company that I no longer am a customer of theirs. ACTION: throw into paper recycling.

A notice from my secondary health insurance payer letting me know that the hospital where I recently had a procedure submitted a duplicate bill for reimbursement. This resubmission occurs a lot because billers get antsy when the insurance companies don't pay quickly and resubmit just in case. ACTION: File with Joe's medical insurance info for 2009.

A very large bill from the provider of my cable TV and Internet access. A lot of money each month, but I don't know what I would do without 250 channels of HD TV and instant Internet access. ACTION: Pay the damn bill.

A postcard from some guy in Manchester, Maryland who hasn't got the word that I sold my last house in September 2008. He wants to buy the house "as is" for cash. Too late guy. ACTION: File with other material to be discussed at the June TRIAD meeting, where we talk about possible scams.

A statement from the bank where I keep my checking account showing that money out actually was slightly less than money in during April. Maybe things are changing in the economy. ACTION: Log in and balance to my checkbook. (Included is a "Debit Travel Rewards Catalog".. except that I don't do debit transactions.. that's a way to go broke.)

A publication from the Arthritis Foundation suggesting that I contribute to a Charitable Gift Annuity and "get income for life." They suggest a $10,000 donation, which at my age will earn 6.3% interest. My calculation is that I would receive about $600 per year ($50 per month) .. and if I live for ten more years, I would have received about $6000.. ($4000 less than invested).. a CD at only 4% for the same period would also have received about $6,000 in interest... but.. I would still be able to cash in and get my $10,000 back. Charitable Gift Annuities do not seem like good sense to me. ACTION: Put into paper recycling.

A sneaky offer from a former bank of mine. They offer to send you a free Credit Report upon receipt of a form that binds you to Identity Theft Protection at $13 per month payments. What they don't mention is that everyone is entitled to a free Credit Report each year by law. Also, some of the protection that they offer is automatic with credit card usage. ACTION: Put into the TRIAD file to be discussed at the June meeting of police and senior citizens.

The latest issue of Integra, The Journal of Intertel, the 1% High IQ club. Contents include an article about psychic senses in daily life and how that relates to Rhine Research Center studies. Another article cites quotes from Mark Twain's book: Innocence Abroad.. and compares them to the current situation in the world.

There also is a rather depressing story (I think its fiction) about an ordinary human being confronting the problems involved in being such an ordinary human being. (Intertel members probably are not "ordinary" human beings.. at least they are classified as having Ultra-Genius IQ's)
The rest of the journal is taken up mainly with original poems from members. ACTION: Read the rest of the journal when time permits.

An invitation to two Police/Senior Citizen meetings. One is a quarterly TRIAD meeting held in the State Capitol. Last quarter, I mixed up the date for the meeting and got there a day early.. but I wasn't the only dummy.. another fat old guy was there at the same time as me.

At these quarterly meetings, we sing the TRIAD song... an unashamed mess-up of Yankee Doodle Dandy. Most of us just silently move our mouths while a few people "sing" at the top of their lungs. But the rest of the time, we talk about new scams affecting our senior citizens and how to become protected from them.

The other invitation is for a Crime Prevention Seminar where we will discuss the danger of gangs and the prevention of financial exploitation of seniors. I think this is a duplicate of a seminar I went to last month. This was where I got so depressed over the discussion on gangs.

My final piece of mail came from the Comptroller of Maryland. It was a check.. I hit the lottery! For 4 whole dollars! ($4) I'm rich! ACTION: Deposit it.

Don't I get great mail? Elaine got a bunch of mail too, but that is her business not mine.

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

Elaine and Ellen

Today was the day when Elaine's doctor removed the 4 screws holding her foot together since December. She is keeping the nice long and shiny screws that were removed as souvenirs. While she was in surgery I watched the Ellen Degeneris Show and was amazed at what I saw.

During the show, Ellen gave away a lot of stuff to an audience of screaming, jumping, yelling 40ish women. Older than 40ish , there would probably be lots of broken hips; younger than 40ish, the ladies would probably not be interested at all. But that is my (maybe sexist) take on the audience. They must have a wonderful advance man that is able to get all of these women keyed up and wild. Perhaps they hand out free very strong coffee before the show.

At one point she mentioned giving some of the audience their money back if they weren't laughing. Does she charge an entrance fee? If so, it still would be a bargain because of the vast amount of stuff she gives away. I thought only Oprah did that.

To get some of the freebies as prizes, four screaming and bouncing women (all dressed almost exactly alike) came out of the audience and donned eye masks and raincoats. They were told that there was a lot of ice cream on the table in front of them, and two of the ladies had the two other ladies stand behind them and reach through and shovel ice cream into the mouths of the ladies in front. Gross! They all won gifts.

Then Ellen interviewed Ben Stiller who is plugging his latest "movie" that takes place in the middle of the night in the Smithsonian. (Managers at the Smithsonian are praising this movie because they feel it will lure more 12 year olds to visit.) Yes, like all of Ben's movies (in my opinion) it is geared to 12-year olds, or adults with that degree of intelligence. Those "movies" of his that I have seen, seemed to be very concerned with human excrement and gaseous emissions. And, of course, these are the topics that make pre-teens giggle with glee. We've all been through it, right?

Ellen presented Ben with some sexy short (hot?) pants for him and his wife. That exchange used up ten minutes of the show. However, they did get to discuss a project that Ben is involved in that concerns poor African children, and I'm glad to know that his "ill-gotten gains" are being used to good effect.

A guy named David Cook played the guitar and sang on the show. He was last year's Idol winner and of course, everyone is keyed up to find out who will survive tonight's Idol show and be this year's winner. Naturally, both of the finalists will earn record contracts after coming through so many weeks of singing. I'm getting old and it seems to me that these guys are singing the same songs week after week (even though I don't really listen.. but Elaine does and I can't help hearing the sound.)

Something bothers me about TV singers. Most sing with the stationary microphone right up in their faces. That way, nobody can really see their faces when they sing. Why not use the little clip-ons? I used them in some of the videos I have made here in Carroll County Maryland. I feel it is more conducive to a conversational method of communication. However, I do know that using the mike like an ice cream cone is better if you want to breathe and sigh audibly while engaging the audience.. especially during stand-up comedy. It does create more intimacy.

David Cook mentioned that he was doing a gig for a Cancer Cure program. That's good. More power to him.

Ellen introduced a family that is having some problems. I believe they have lost their jobs. They own two cars, both of which have 120,000 miles of wear, and need new brakes, batteries, tires, etc. They also had recently lost all of their furniture in a flood. They had other problems as well. Ellen presented them with a Jetta diesel automobile and a gift card for $5,000 to Sears.

Ellen gave each member of the audience DVD's, CD's, cosmetics, $100 gift cards, and show tickets. Someone in the audience won a trip to Hawaii.

I was a nervous wreck after watching the hour-long show... all of those women yelling and jumping and expending all of that energy.. each person must have lost 20 pounds of weight. It was quite an experience learning what millions of American housewives probably watch and participate in every day of the week. I was lucky, most men probably don't ever see (or care about) what their ladies are interested in.

Saturday, May 16, 2009

My Saturday Morning Delight

Time flies so fast.. its Saturday again and time for me to enjoy listening to my favorite radio shows: Wait, Wait, Don't Tell Me, Car Talk, and CSPAN commentary. I also like to use this time to review favorite magazines like This Week and Bottom Line Health. In case you do not have the time (or inclination) to do as I do, let me tell you what I am learning today.

01. The lack of sleep has now been linked to hardening of the arteries. We all need to get at least 6 hours of uninterupted sleep each night. (Ben Franklin didn't think much of sleep. Two of his quotations: "Plough deep while sluggards sleep." and "There will be sleeping enough in the grave.")

02. Time magazine has an article titled: The Future of Work, in which 10 educated predictions are made about the workplace of the future. Widespread working at home will be a major change. Managers who are just as technically knowledgable as their workers will be commonplace. Clashes between Baby Boomers who won't retire, and Generation X'ers. Etc.

03. Atlantic Magazine has an article Do CEO's Matter? Why do companies continue to pay a lot of money to the very CEO's who have taken them down?

04. President Obama has nominated the Republican Governor of Utah for Ambassador to China. He has spent lots of time in China and is respected there.. also, he speaks Mandarin. When he is confirmed, he will be one less potential adversary for the next election. But.. mainly, I think it is a good move in Obama's attempt at making his administration more bi-partisan.

05. Somebody with a Mac computer keeps trying to break into my home computer network. I wonder if there is some way to track by the numbered id. I know that this can be done through some virus checker programs but I don't know yet about Trend, which came with my laptop.

06. Wolfram Alpha debuted last night. It is a new search/computational engine. I went out to and tried it out. First, I keyed in my birthdate and found that I was born on a Thursday. (But, I had programmed for that back in the 1970's.. so what else is there?)

Next, I keyed in "New Bedford" and it assumed I meant New Bedford, Massachusetts and not one of the other ones in the US. It told me that the population is now 93,102 (down from 110,000 in its heyday..) and it told me that it is part of a metro area that contains 1.612 million people. Then, it gave me an excellent satellite picture of the city so that I could see the top of a house that I had lived in. (Are Google's satellite pictures from the same source?)

A couple of times, a pop-up said that I had lost connectivity to Wolfram Alpha, but that wasn't true.

Next, I tried the computational part. I keyed in 95,000 x 200. I can multiply this in my head in 5 seconds or less.. the answer didn't come back to me from Wolfram Alpha for almost a whole minute. Perhaps that would not be a problem with a more complicated problem.

Finally, I keyed in General Motors and recieved an enormous amount of information about the compay.. except that it did not give the current price on the market. It also told me that they are currently paying $1 per share dividend. I don't recall ever getting a dividend from them, but I will check it out.

So.. it was kind of fun going to Wolfram Alpha, and I highly recommend it. It will get better and faster in time.

07. A man was attacked in a WalMart store by a nutria.

08. Miss California blamed a gust of wind for her "toplessness".

09. Sexual assault victims in someplace in Texas have to pay $700 to cover the emergency room rape kit used in their case.

10. A 17-year old Amish boy was busted for having beer in his buggy.

11. My screen just had a pop-up that said: Is Santa so jolly because he knows where all the bad girls live?

12. Scientists enjoy looking at the 75 KM high plume of gas and dust that spews from a volcano on IO, one of Jupiter's moons. It's called the Prometheus Plume. (Looks like Old Faithful)

13. Because of its health claims, Cheerios must now come under the scrutiny of the FDA.

14. Toothpicks can now be used by acupuncturists when their patients are scared of needles.

15. If you play on the computer while at work, you are now engaging in "weasure time."

16. A Baptist school suspended a student for dancing at his girl friend's prom. (I was once kicked out of a function for my Baptist church's Sunday school because I had a deck of cards in my pocket. But then again, I was also rapped on my head for nodding off at a Quaker meeting.)

17. The aroma from your home can now be put into an aerosol can and taken with you on vacations. You can then spray it in your motel room so you won't feel so homesick.

18. A HAZMAT crew rescued office employees overcome with noxious fumes from decaying leftovers in an office refridgerator.

19. An irate consumer called his local grocery store to complain that his frozen pizza had no topping. It looked like just baked dough when he took it out of his oven. After ranting and raving for a while, he realized that he had baked it upside down!


Wednesday, May 13, 2009

Mr. Bumble

How can full-grown human adults be terrorized by a 2 ounce bumble bee? That is totally irrational. However, this was the case last week, before we learned more about the fat little rascal that had been dive-bombing us. The guy we are talking about is called a borer or carpenter bee. These bees bore a completely circular hole in wooden items that lead to larger areas within, where the females deposit eggs to propagate their species. The females then go about their business gathering nectar for nourishment while the males "protect" the area.

We guessed that much.. however, we didn't realize that the male has no stinger and could not harm us. His duty is just to scare away trespassers. He does look big and mean... he has a square yellow spot on his head that I guess has evolved because it must be scary to other creatures. Well, it sure did scare us for a while!

I had encountered borer bees at my last house. They had made lots of circular tunnels in my wooden side deck. But they didn't bother me at all. They came and went and we lived in harmony. Not so at this house... this guy was a regular kamikazi pilot. To counteract these attacks I swatted at him with rolled up newspapers, yardsticks, fly swatters, shovels, shoes and broomsticks.. to no effect.

This was getting to be a desperate situation.. we were now not able to go out on our back deck without being attacked. So.. I hurried to WalMart and consulted their famous garden experts. They suggested hornet spray. I bought the wasp spray. I followed the instructions: I covered myself all over with a hurricane slicker and waited for dusk when the little fellow was supposed to be going 'beddie bye." And then.. I sprayed upward in the direction that I thought he might be hiding. A twenty foot long bead of fluid went flying upwards.

Unfortunately, I forgot about the direction our constant wind was blowing at the time, and got most of the spray on me. But, you know, the more I thought about it, the better I felt because I hate to kill any creature. Some times I do kill some of the large black spiders who resent us living where we do, because they lived here first. However they must be killed because my experience with spider bites has not been good, and I don't want to spend any more time in a Wound Care Center.

When I kill the spiders, I get a strong guilt feeling. My imagination tells me that someday I will have to stand before a spider judge and 12 spider jurors who will decide how to punish me for killing an innocent creature that never did me any harm and just wanted to be left alone in peace.

So, instead of being a borer bee murderer, I decided to learn more about them. Googling "borer bees" produced lots of learned articles. That is where I learned that the male borer bee is a "macho" creature who is all bluff and bluster. He has no stinger, so he can't hurt a soul. His mate; however, does have a stinger and can stab you if you try to put your finger in the circular hole... but, if you just mind your own business, this lady will mind hers and leave you alone.

So, with these bees, all you have to do is live with the "macho" male bothering you from time to time. I have now learned to ignore him and we are getting along quite well. (I do swat at him from time to time if he gets too close though, just to let him know that I also am "macho". )

This was not my first encounter with bees. Seven years ago while I was working on the computer in the second floor of my house in Gamber, Maryland, I felt a buzzing going by my ears. And then I felt another, and another.. When I investigated further I discovered that little baby honey bees were coming out of the air duct in the room and heading for the closed window. They were coming out in formation, one after another, just as though they were programmed for a cartoon show.

Very gingerly, I opened the window so that they could fly out. But they kept coming for a long time. As the line got smaller I started a search to find out what was going on. Apparently, these little bees were hatching in the attic and going out on their first excursions to search for flowers. And then, I was amazed to find that millions of bees had swarmed on the front of my house and had found a little hole where they entered, probably to find a pleasantly warm place for their queen.

Not knowing what to do, and not wanting to be stung, I phoned every bee person I could find in the phone book. Bee keepers did not want to help me, but they all mentioned a guy who provided bees to bee keepers. I called him and he was delighted to get some more bees and came out with a big vacuum machine late one night. He sucked all of the bees out of the house.. It was too dark to see what he was doing and I really didn't want to see what was going on. I just was glad that the bees would not be killed and probably would get a new home soon.

Fast forward to last year when I was trying to sell my Gamber house. You guessed it.. the bees came back. If I knew how to post a picture to this blog I would be able to show you what a zillion bees stuck on a house looks like. This time, the bee vacuumer refused to come out. He had enough bees.. and he knew of noboby else who would take them. Now what could I do? I could not sell a house with a zillion bees attached.

So, I gave in.. I didn't want to do it, but I had to. I contacted an exterminator company and they came out and did whatever it was that was necessary. Once again, I didn't watch them. And now, I could sell my house. (But.. guess what, a few of the bees have come back again. My daughter and son-in-law bought the house and they are keeping a close watch to make sure that the larger group of bees doesn't come back.)

The Mail Lady just dropped off our latest Netflix movie: The Secret Life of Bees.

Sunday, May 10, 2009

Opera's Demise in Baltimore

It's a sad time for opera lovers in Baltimore. Grand Opera at the Lyric has gone away. Everything belonging to the Baltimore Opera Company is being auctioned off. There is a report about the situation by Tim Smith in the Baltimore Sun today. Even though Tim mentions some activity that is going to allow for some opera performances in the future, it still is a very sad situation.

For some years, my son and I were patrons and attended many operas at the Lyric. We usually attended on Sundays and were happy to get to learn about the operas in the preceding lectures by prominent opera experts. We also always opted for the best seats in the house. It seemed a lot nicer to sit in separated upholstered seats, and we always were able to sit in the front of the box, until one of the season ticket sellers made a mistake and we had to sit in the back of the box. This was o.k. to a point.. there were a couple of drawbacks.. first, we could not see the sur-titles... second, squirming people in front of the box were a distraction. It just did not feel as elegant and special. (Yes, I did complain, but it didn't make a difference.. after that we always got the back of the box.) But, aside from that, the productions were marvelous and very well done, even if sometimes, the lack of sur-titles caused a language barrier. (There are a few operas where sur-titles are a great help, in my opinion.)

The Baltimore Opera combined so many things: beautiful instrumental music, beautiful individual vocal music, beautiful choral music, marvelously developed sets, wonderful acting, sometimes ballet, colorful costumes, etc etc. Although needing an overhaul, the Lyric was a great place to enjoy an opera.

My son and I also belonged to the Baltimore Opera Guild and we attended many of their luncheons where opera luminaries gave samples of their vocal skill. At these functions, many of the dowager patrons would cast a friendly eye on my handsome son. Once a year, we would attend a free wine and cheese function where my son and I were offered the chance to become officers in the organization. Because of our other committments, we had to decline. But it probably would have been a great experience to get to know the opera folks better. We also toyed with the idea of becoming extras. We met some of them on a night when we got to tour backstage at the Lyric. What a world it is, back there where the audience can't see all the marvels that are taking place to make magic on the stage!

Tim Smith mentions other opera opportunities for Baltimore:

The Washington National Opera to perform at the Lyric.
The Baltimore Opera Theater will debut at the Hippodrome and the Meyerhoff.
The Baltimore Concert Opera will perform at the elegant Engineerss Club.
Opera Vivente will present at Emmanuel Episcopal Church.
At the Theatre Project, American Opera Theater will perform.
The Peabody Opera Theatre will perform.

But.. as Tim laments.. there is no longer Grand Opera in Baltimore.. and this is sad!

Saturday, May 09, 2009

So Much to Learn

It's Saturday again.. and I want to talk about: a book about Karl Rove, Star Trek (the new movie), porker quarantined in Kabul, Disney flashers, Joe the Plumber, embassy tours, KFC riots... and of course some of this came from the marvelous show: Wait, Wait Don't Tell Me! (now on TWITTER and FACEBOOK.)

KARL ROVE: I just finished Boy Genius (subtitled: Karl Rove, THE Architect of George W. Bush's Remarkable Political Triumphs) by Carl M. Cannon, Lou Dubose, and Jan Reid. I strongly recommend this book to anyone who has followed politics for any length of time. Democrats, Republicans, and Independants should all find this book very interesting. I found the book to be very well balanced and informative and not filled with bias like other political books I have read recently.

STAR TREK, the New Movie: I didn't know this, but there is a new Star Trek movie being made that will feature young folks playing Captain Kirk, Spock, etc. Some of the techie stuff will apparently be updated so that things (like the Communicators that looked like old-style cell phones) will be more "believable".

Wait, Wait... says that Leonard Nemoy will make a cameo appearance.. and "William Shatner's toupee makes a cameo appearance as a 'Tribble'. "

PRESIDENT OBAMA: Wait, Wait.. says that the President ordered Dijon mustard to be put on his cheeseburger at a fast food restaurant. I wonder what VP Biden asked for.

EMBASSY TOURS: Today, several embassies in DC are opening their doors for tours: Germany, Denmark, Italy, and some others. People in DC should take advantage of these tours. I have mentioned before that I went on such a tour one time and the wives of the Supreme Court Justices were the hostesses. (I repeat myself, sorry) When I met the wife of Thurgood Marshall, I got flustered and said: "We really enjoy your husband." She laughed and said: "Me too."

DISNEYLAND: Wait, Wait.. says that Disney is eliminating its camera cops.. those are the people who stand by the photographer and stop them from taking pictures of ladies who try to "Flash". BTW: once while waiting for Elaine to go up in her sky-diving plane, the lady who runs the place flashed her breasts as a good luck sign to the pilot and passengers.

JOE THE PLUMBER: Wait, Wait.. says that Joe the Plumber has become disillusioned with the Republican Party and has switched loyalties.

PORKER IN AFGHANISTAN: Wait, Wait says.. Afghanistan quarantined its only pig, which is in the Kabul Zoo. The reason they only have one pig is because they are a Moslem country and meat from pigs is forbidden. The quarantine was put in place, of course, because of the Swine Flu scare.

WILLIAM SHATNER: I did not know that Mr. Shatner starred in the movie INCUBUS, or that the movie's language was Esperanto. (Tom Goodman, Baltimore SSA and Mensa, was for many years THE expert on Esperanto, the International language developed by a guy named Zamenhof. At one time I was able to read books in Esperanto. If you know a couple of European languages, Esperanto is extremely easy to use. It never really caught on though. If you "google" Esperanto you can learn all about it.)

KFC: Wait Wait... says that Oprah put a coupon for free KFC chicken on the Internet and millions of people descended on these restaurants and they were overwhelmed. Some had to call in the police to control the crowds.

SLEEP: WW says: The French sleep 9 hours a night on the average. The Japanese: 8 hours. (When I worked, I slept between 4 and 5 hours a night.. 6 on weekends. I wonder what the American average is.)

PORT-A-POTTIES: Recently, a Cessna crash landed into a "herd" of port-a-potties. The pilot walked away unscathed.

As Robert Louis Stevenson said: "The world is so full of a number of things, I'm sure we should all be as happy as kings."

Friday, May 08, 2009

Cheer up!

Yesterday, I got very depressed during a police update on "gangs" so today I want to talk about a few things that I find cheering: my monthly AARP joke, "waddling carp", Mother's Day, and William Donald Schaefer.

I believe a joke is in the "public domain" unless someone can prove that they are the only one who ever thought of and developed it. I emcee'd the annual Senior Citizens Banquet for several years when it took place in Union Bridge, Maryland. One year, as part of my duties, I told four elaborate jokes with senior citizen themes. The audience seemed to enjoy them.

An hour later, the entertainer arrived. A gentleman who was, in effect, a "one man band", and in between sets told jokes. Guess what... his four jokes were the same jokes that I had just told. Coming in late, he, of course, did not know what I had said, and I didn't own the jokes. (The audience enjoyed them for a second time.)

In case you were not at the May 2009 AARP meeting, this is my monthly joke:

A guy was hurrying to get to a cafe before "Happy Hour" ended. There were no parking places to be had. As he drove around and around, he got very frustrated and decided to pray for help.

"Lord, if you find me a parking place, I will go to church every Sunday for a whole year!"

He drove around some more.. still no parking place. So he prayed again:

"Lord, if you find me a parking place, I will also say the Rosary every night for a year!"

Still no space.. but then, all of a sudden, a car drove away and a nice wide space opened up. The man prayed again:

"Lord, never mind. I found one on my own!"

FISH: The Carroll County Times (Maryland) had a couple of remarkable pictures of giant carp "waddling" through shallow water foraging for food. The carp are half in and half out of the water. Is this evolution in action? ;0)

I'm reminded of the time one of my kids let the water in the goldfish bowl get so low that the poor fish was half in and half out, just like the carp. (Thankfully, that kid is now grown up and is a fantastic caring person for all kinds of creatures.)

Years ago, when my kids were very young, and gas was cheap, we would go on Sunday drives. One of the favorite places we would like to go to was the Loch Raven Reservoir where giant carp resided. We would take a couple of loaves of bread and the kids would have a ball feeding these voracious fish. I wonder if they remember this. (The kids, not the fish.)

MOTHER'S Day: The burning question: Does an apostrophe come before or after the S?

Just a reminder. We should all remember our mothers every day of the year, but especially on the one that is set aside for that purpose. By the looks of the traffic yesterday at the local mall, lots of people are doing their duty.


I read that former Governor Schaefer has, at 87, just received a pacemaker. I hope that this device allows him to have many more years of life.

I'm told that he now resides in Charlestown, a local continuing care community in an historic Baltimore setting. I have several friends who reside there as well, and they seem to enjoy it.

Once, many years ago, my late wife and I were visiting Baltimore's Harbor Place. After a lot of walking, we sat down on a large bench in one of the buildings to rest, next to an older man. As we sat there, we noticed a sign over the bench that said that the bench was reserved for Mayor (at the time) Schaefer whenever he was in the building. We then took a good look at the man we were sitting next to: yes, it was Mayor Schaefer. He was very gracious and talked to us for some time.. and didn't even ask us to leave his bench.

Another time, I went to the Engineers Club building in Mount Vernon Square, Baltimore to attend a Computer Users meeting. It was my first time attending. The Engineers Club building is a wonderful mansion with an atrium, massive staircases, marvelous statues, etc. I was met at the door by an elegantly attired doorman. He bowed and asked me if I was there for the "function." I assumed he meant "meeting", so I said "yes." He gave me directions on how to get to the "function."

I ascended one of the massive staircases, walked past the marvelous statues and arrived at a group of people filing past an enormous buffet, with food that I had rarely seen in my lifetime. I thought: "These Computer Users really know how to put on a spread!" .. and I helped myself.

As I began to eat, I noticed that some of my fellow buffet mates looked quite familiar... especially one of them: Mayor Schaefer. I also noted several people whose faces I recognised from the newspaper and television. Some of them even shook my hand and said "Hello." (I did have a nice suit and tie on.) Eventually it dawned on me that I was at the wrong "function", and slipped slowly downstairs (but not before I finished my caviar!) I found my meeting group in the building's basement.

I always thought that Mr. Schaefer was a great mayor. One of the things that I liked about him I have already written about, but I think it bears repeating. Whenever someone would call him directly about a problem (and he sometimes had an open phone) he would handle the problem as in this example: Someone called and said there was a giant pothole in front of their house. Mayor Schaefer called his maintenance people in and said: "Fill in the pothole." But, he would not tell them where it was. !

Once, when Mr. Schaefer was between jobs, he was honored by the Toastmasters organization. At the ceremony, Mr. Schaefer said that it was the first time that he was on his own.. for years he had been chaufered here and there and other people bought his food for him and shopped for clothes for him, now he had to do it himself, and he recounted his experiences in a Super Market, where he had not been for many many years. He gave a funny account of how he interacted with the conveyor belt and scanner .. and how he learned how to pay for things with a credit card. He is a very entertaining speaker.

I hope that Governor Schaefer has many more years ahead of him.

Wednesday, May 06, 2009

Curating the news?

The Union representing Boston Globe workers gave in at the last minute to demands by the New York Times corporation on the matter of job guarantees. Now the Boston Globe will continue to publish. Papers like the Globe are having trouble because of a number of problems: people are leaving print media for what they can find on the Internet, advertising revenue is down because of the Recession, the cost of print supplies is rising, monetary promises to retired workers are getting hard to honor, etc.

Senator Kerry will be holding a hearing today about the future of printed newspapers vs Internet news. Perhaps, someday, we may have to kick-in a few bucks to be able to get our news via Yahoo, Google, or some other Internet source. (Right now, I have a computer start-up screen that gives me news from all of the major sources. Actually, it gives me all the headlines and I pick which stories I wish to look at in greater detail. Also, I get TWITTER and FACEBOOK new information. All of this is FREE... and I ought not need to read a print newspaper... but of course I do. I wonder how many young people ever read a print newspaper.)

I believe that Senator Cardin will be pushing legislation that would make print newspapers non-profit entities. I wonder if that legislation has a chance of getting anywhere.

And.. there is talk of a "bail-out" for newspapers, similar to that for the auto industry.

I've heard that France has a newspaper subscription subsidy program that doesn't seem to be working very well.

Do we in the US want the Government subsidising newspapers and probably telling them what to tell their readers? Haven't we already had a taste of that? Where were the pictures of returning coffins from the Gulf Wars?

Probably we are heading to Sunday only print newspapers for the major sources. Local newspapers will probably survive.. I hope so.

Many newspapers no longer have the money to go after stories on their own.. or do investigative journalism. In fact, according to what someone said today on the Diane Rehm show, newspapers in 27 States have no representatives in Washington, DC and have to rely on what their National feeders tell them.

Give yourself a treat and view It Happened One Night, the famous 1934 movie with Clark Gable and Claudette Colbert. Besides showing what life was like 75 years ago during the "Great Depression", it also depicts how newspapers worked in those days.

Back to local newspapers: Most of the groups I'm involved in, like NARFE, AARP, SSAA, etc., have come to the conclusion that my picture has been shown too often in local Carroll County (Maryland) papers... so, that will no longer be the case (except in rare situations). I know, I know, my many fans will be protesting this decision, but they must realize that other notables need to be seen from time to time and Joe Vaughan has had enough publicity already. ;0)


Monday, May 04, 2009


I keep getting bugged by Facebook to take their IQ test. As a member of Mensa and other high IQ groups, I am always interested in IQ tests. If you are too, I would suggest a book I just finished. The Big Book of IQ Tests by Norman Sullivan and Philip J. Carter. Its a great book, but I must warn you... these guys are "puzzle fiends".. and you will get a massive workout taking their tests.

Based on their scoring system.. with average being 100: I scored (variously) at 118, 132 150, 169, and 182. Now, according to research about the Stanford-Binet scoring system, which used to be the normal test that all school kids in Massachusetts took in the 4th grade: the average medical doctor has an IQ of 120. Under that system, 132 is considered "genius level" and 2% of the population should have that score. (According to that, there must be 20 million geniuses in China and 6 million in the U. S.)

A 2% level or above in any recognized IQ test will get you a membership in Mensa. A 1% level will get you a membership in Intertel (not an International Police or Spy organization.) High scores on College Entrance Examinations might get you in also. Especially the LSAT.. except, for some reason, there aren't that many lawyers in Mensa. (I wonder why.) ;0)

I have always been good at taking tests and have always scored high. (Except for my first IQ test in the 4th grade, where Miss Savage reduced all my scores until they met her expectations for students in her jurisdiction. This is another story that I love to tell, and if I haven't already covered it in a blog yet.. I will.) Armed with these scores, I joined Mensa and Intertel and a couple of other groups of lesser renown.

Good test takers run in my family. Once, I took an Australian IQ test, supposed to be the toughest one around. There were only 10 essay questions. I was given credit for getting all questions right. And guess what.. my "long lost Brother" (another blog subject) took the same test and got 9 of the questions right. We had not conferred with each other about the test. I think that the Australian author wasn't prepared for two Americans to get such a high score, and went back to the "drawing board"... and hasn't been heard of since. (He never did learn that we were brothers. I have another brother.. and I bet he would do as well.. and my sister as well.)

We owe it all to the fact that we had the same super-intelligent mother. Thanks, Ma!

I know, this all sounds like bragging. Maybe so, but I haven't even told you about other people who have recorded astronomical IQ's, like Elaine's daughter and my three kids. 80)

Sunday, May 03, 2009

The Curse of Learning to Read

I learned to read at a very young age and enjoy reading every day of my life. Without something to read before bed, I cannot sleep. I'm a lot like Felix in the Odd Couple TV series. In one episode, Felix finds himself in a hotel room with no reading material. He is in agony looking for something to read. Finally he finds a toothpaste tube with writing on it... after he reads those words, he is able to go to sleep.

Elaine is also an avid reader. The reading material does add up. Magazines, catalogs, newspapers, etc. Years ago I taught myself to speed read, but even with that, it piles up. A year ago, I set myself a task to read at least three magazines each day. I was able to do that for a whole year; however, it seems as though there are even more magazines to read than when I started. I wonder if I could do ten a day? Probably, the solution would be to throw all of the piles of magazines into the recycling bin and start over.

Why do I need to know everything that is written? Its an impossible task. Maybe I should just stick with the books that I read and the puzzles that I do. No.. I couldn't do that.. I might miss something.

This morning I sat down with the Sunday edition of the Baltimore Sun. I recently renewed my subscription (the price was right.) I started on page one and read for one hour. This is what I learned:

01. Mine That Bird won the Kentucky Derby. This was a 50-1 shot payoff! When I go to the track, I usually bet on the long shots. Why bet on the probable winners when the odds are not high enough to make you rich?

2. Preakness sales are very slow. (No wonder. No balloon festival. No BYOB to the Infield. No Mardi-Gras like fun anymore.) Will Pimlico be sold? Is this the last year for the Preakness. (Will the Baltimore area throw away another tourist bonanza, like Hausner's?)

3. The front page headline story is about the Lehigh Heidelberg Cement Company that is planning a 4 1/2 mile long conveyer to carry limestone from New Windsor to Union Bridge. The Lehigh Plant in Union Bridge, Maryland, is an amazing place with a sky-scraper tall building. My Men's Club spent some time there touring the facility. Its well worth a trip to find out what is going on in the cement business.

I've never been able to understand why Union Bridge, with all of its cement dust in the air, isn't a major home of people with lung cancer. I guess the company takes good precautions.

4. Colleges are luring students with all kinds of perks.. such as: climbing walls, swimming pools, Internet access, etc. It looks like the average college tuition in the Baltimore area is about $40,00 per year. Its quite a bit lower in outlying areas.

5. The Orioles lost again. But, I guess its still very early in the season for fans to get too worried.

6. There are now 4 or 5 cases of Swine Flu in Maryland. Four schools have closed down for 14 days because a student is suspected of having the flu. (Another source of news says that Mexico is saying that the flu epidemic is slowing down there.)

7. Representative Jack Kemp passed away. He served 9 terms in Congress and was Bob Dole's mate in a run for the White House.

8. Baltimore mayor, Shiela Dixon is planning a 60 mile bike ride today.

9. Governor O'Malley babysits his own children.

10. In 1789, Louis XVI called a meeting in Versailles. In attendance were the Etats General: 1st Estate: 300 members of the clergy; 2nd Estate: 300 nobles; 3rd Estate: 600 commoners. Years later, Edmund Burke referred to the Press Gallery of the House of Commons as the 4th Estate.. and the press has retained that name to this day.

11. Next week's temperatures will be in a range from 50 degrees to 73 degrees. Now that is more like Spring.

12. There will be a full moon on May 9th. BELLA LUNA! (Last nite I watched the movie Moonstruck for the hundredth time. I think that it is the best movie ever made. A LA FAMILIA!)

13. Humidity is around 75% today. (We have a weather indicator: a wind sock. We know that when it flaps, it is windy. When it hangs limp, it is calm. When it is wet, it is raining. When it is standing stiff, it is below freezing. When we can't see it, it is foggy. When it is covered in white, it is snowing. When it is warm to the touch, we are having a heat wave. When it has blown away, we are having a hurricane.)

14. Today, Ocean City, Maryland waves will be 3 feet high. (We got a call today that the condo we rent in OC is available for the three weeks we want in September and October. It is ocean front and we can sit on the balcony and watch those waves roll in... that is, if smokers don't rent the condo next door.. since they can't smoke in the condos now, they smoke on the balconies and the smoke is pushed towards us by the ocean breeze. For years, smokers could poison their lungs inside and we did not have that problem.)

15. Today, sunset is at 8:02 pm. (We had early Daylight Savings this year and some clocks are still screwed up. When I "save" this blog, the time is shown as one hour earlier than it is. Some clocks in Government buildings that adjust automatically, still have not switched over. Is this similar to the Year 2000 situation?)

16. Today, it will be 91 degrees in Las Vegas. (I swallowed a toothpick in LV back in 1958. It was buried in a sandwich and luckily I "burped" it up. If that happened in 2009, I would be able to sue the restaurant for millions.)

17. Today, Boston, Massachusetts is cooler than Anchorage, Alaska. (Perhaps "cooler" in many senses.)

18. It was 96 degrees in Frederick and Cumberland, Maryland last week. (How did I miss that?)

19. The City of Baltimore has found $40 Million dollars that had been in a file forgotten for a decade. (This also happened in Carroll County Maryland a couple of years ago, while I was on the Commission on Aging. I forget the actual amount, but it made a lot of people happy.)

20. Members of several Baltimore area communities had fun at the 2nd annual Boundary Block Party. (Baltimore's Butcher's Hill residents have block parties too.)

21. The Baltimore Sun has begun a newsroom restructuring.

22. Nicholas D'Adamo will not seek reelection in 2011, after 7 terms on the Baltimore City Council. He has ties to Highland Town. (New to Baltimore, I asked our landlords how to get to the famous Hausner's Restaurant. They told me to go to Hollandtown. We never found it that night because Hollandtown is how Highland Town is pronounced in Baltimorese. Luckily, we found it later and it became our favorite restaurant for many years.)

23. Crosswalk painting has faded away at one intersection and a student was struck by a car there. (Another case of the lack of maintenance because of a lack of money or motivation. When William Donald Schaefer was mayor of Baltimore and people would call him to complain about a pothole, the mayor would tell his maintenance people: "There is a pothole out there, find it and fix it." He would not tell them where it was. A lot of potholes got fixed that way. Maybe Shiela should say the same thing.

24. Four new trial judges have been appointed by Governor O'Malley.

25. I see the winning lottery numbers for Maryland, Delaware, Pennsylvania and DC. Also the Megamillion numbers.

26. I see an ad for a very low rate of interest for a home equity line of credit.

27. I see an ad for a paving company that does demolitions.

28. I see an ad for the auction of upscale condos and homes in Baltimore.

29. I see an ad for a free seminar about dental implants. The ad shows Linda and Howard, "actual patients" with amazingly white and straight teeth.

OK... enough! This has been a recap of what I learned in one concentrated hour of reading the Baltimore Sunday Sun. I only got through 4 pages of the first section... so now you understand about my reading curse.

I should "Go and SUN no more!" But I can't.. as I said, I'm afraid I will miss something.

Saturday, May 02, 2009


I just listened to another edition of NPR's Wait, Wait, Don't Tell Me. I love that radio show. I learn so much from it. For instance, today I learned that Fema has been advertising "911 Coloring Books for Kids" on their website. Pictures of large planes crashing into skyscrapers!

I also learned that Rock music is being used to scare away crickets in Utah.

In addition, I learned that the same parts of men's brains fire up when they see scantily-clad women as when they look at tools in catalogs.

Tinker Bell (a chiuahaua) blew away in a 70 mph wind gust and was found in a tree after the owners consulted a psychic.

Another source of education is of course, The Week magazine, where I learned that Lake Chargoggagoggmanchauggagoggchaubunagungamaugg was misspelled on some road signs in Massachusetts.

I hear that a Florida man is trying to open a "nude dude" ranch. (Wouldn't that be a bit painful?)

BTW: At a nudist wedding, who is considered the "best man"?

Also, at a nudist wedding, where does the best man keep the ring?

It is sad to hear that CEO's are currently feeling the pinch of the recession ... (and are opting for pay raises.)

Pirate impersonators are having a bad image problem these days because of the Somali guys. They would like to see those guys called something other than "pirates".

In the "Who can you trust?" category: It has been determined that the Four Corners State marker is in the wrong place and that people who stood at one location and thought that they were at the corners of Arizona, Colorado, New Mexico and Utah, were misinformed.

Segue to cetology:

Whale's brains are larger and more convoluted than human's brains.

The tongue of a grown blue whale weighs as much as an African elephant.

Scientists just learned that dolphins can rest one half of their brains at a time. (Wouldn't that be great for some of us? Of course, we all know many folks who rest all of their brains all of the time.)

BTW again: Pete Seeger just turned 90 years old. Does anyone remember the 60's and 70's?

Some thieves stole an ice cream truck but abandoned it when the music drove them crazy. The police found the truck easily because of the music.

The Supreme Court voted 5 to 4 that it is ok to fine TV stations for allowing cussing.

A woman called in to CSPAN yesterday when the discussion was on who should replace the retiring Justice. She suggested that a black woman would be the best pick for "the Supremes."
I think that would be a good idea too.

Did you ever realize that Beetle Bailey has lived through several wars and "police actions" and has never been shot at.

"Think on these things and be enlightened."