Saturday, October 31, 2009

Best "Wait, Wait" Halloween Show Yet?

Some of the topics for the October 31, 2009 "Wait, Wait, Don't Tell Me" show were interesting. Zombies, beer, Barbie, toplessness in Disney film, hoaxes, Colonel Sanders, homelessness, golf, Halloween.

01. Beer: Officials at DC's FedEx Field admitted that they were selling beer in the men's restroom. (Is this is what is known as "The Cycle of Life".. ? It seems ecologically sound to me; however, it probably could be considered discrimination to women.)

02. Avoiding Discrimination to women: In response to a claim that women are left out of the President's athletic endeavors, President Obama played golf with a woman. (A number of other Presidents have also enjoyed sports with women.. although of a more intimate nature.)

03. Zombies: I learned that Zombies do not run, because they would snap their legs off at the ankle. Also, I learned that they may be organizing.. like Italian Americans, and Afro-Americans, they would be called Zombie-Americans.

04. Halloween: A man dressed himself as Colonel Sanders (KFC) and invaded the UN offices in New York. He even got so far as to meet the Secretary General before he got caught. Apparently, everyone thought that he probably was the head of some country that had had a military take-over.

(I remember great times when I was in elementary school when my Aunt Marjorie would get us kids together on Halloween and lead us into a dark cellar where she would pass around grapes and say they were eyes, licorice sticks and say they were ghost's hair.. you get the idea.. she would scare the daylights out of us.. and we loved it!)

(The first time that I went to a Halloween Party where grownups were, (First Baptist Church) I dressed as a clown magician. I had some simple pocket tricks and a deck of playing cards. As I was doing one of the card tricks I had practiced for hours, one of the "'church ladies" grabbed my cards, chewed me out, and made me leave. It took me a while to figure out that I was ousted because I had violated one of the Ten Commandments, in the view of the Church.)

05. Barbie: I hear that Barbie has a new boy friend... supposedly, he is called: "Palm Beach Sugar Daddy Ken."

06. Disney movies and Sex: It was mentioned that in one 1977 Disney movie, as some cute little animals are cavorting in a building, if you looked closely through one of the windows, you would see a topless woman.

Disney once made a movie called: "The Story of Menstruation", sponsored by Kotex.

07. Bed Clothes: It was reported that some bedding clothing company is making bedding that looks like the nighttime coverings of homeless people. You know, cardboard and newspapers and that sort of thing.

08. Surprise!: I learned that ex-President George W. Bush has started a new job as a motivational speaker! (His mother has been one for a while. I'm not sure about his father, who likes to spend his spare time jumping out of perfectly good airplanes.)

09. Thieves: A one-legged man stole one shoe... and was quickly caught.

And remember the dumbest burglers of the year: They disguised themselves by marking their faces using black markers. What these guys didn't realize was that these were "permanent" markers.. and they were also quickly caught.

... If you have never listened to "Wait, Wait, Don't Tell Me", do yourself a favor. It has to be the funniest program on the radio. If the broadcast time is bad for you, "google" the title and plug into their easy to find website where you can easily listen to the show whenever you want.


Thursday, October 22, 2009

More Old News

Things are a bit hectic right now, so, to relax, I'm looking through my 1962 scrapbook again. Take a look over my shoulder, read the articles and enjoy the pictures.. let your mind wander back to that year.

01. A nice aerial view of Ocean City at the height of its flooding by a terrific northeaster in March. It was termed worse than the famous 1933 hurricane. The city is completely covered by the ocean; however, it looks like there is not much damage, except to a luxury apartment hotel on the beach at 39th street.

An expensive, at the time, $80,000 home survived the storm by being on steel pilings.

02. The Russians claim to be planning a 160 mile tunnel under the Caspian Sea, linking Baku with Krasnovodsk. They want to use atomic blasts to dig it out... but Western countries think that this is just a ploy for the USSR to get moving on secret weapons testing.

03. Frank Lloyd Wright made some sketches for a planetarium to be built on Sugarloaf Mountain south of Frederick, Maryland. The planetarium was never built.

04. University of California scientists have discovered that the chloroplast, like the gene and the virus, contains genetic material and controls its own reproduction within the living cell.

05. J. Robert Moskin, Look Magazine Senior Editor wrote: "In the next 25 years (1987!) it is likely that man will create life in a test tube. He will transform chemicals into living material that can grow and reproduce itself. He will perform an act of God."

Linus Pauling, Nobel laureate, foresees the day when scientists will be able to make artificial genes and put them into living bodies.

06. A cartoon of JFK sitting in an ambulance labeled Old Age Health. Running after him, hoping for a ride are three men, labeled: Health Insurance Companies, GOP Plan, and Rep Miller. (So, you see, even back in 1962 people were fighting over Health Insurance.. at that time it was for the elderly and was pushed through Congress as Medicare by Lyndon Johnson.. if Obama studies what Johnson did and he uses the resources that he already has, he should be able to push through universal health insurance.)

07. Mrs Leila Mae Simhof writes the Baltimore Sun that after paying their monthly rents, old people are left with the magnificent balance of from six to ten dollars for their month's food, clothing and insurance. (The time is right for Medicare.)

08. The Social Security Administration building in Woodlawn, Maryland, receives hundred of foreign visitors each week. It also sends out major press releases in 22 languages. They also publish pamphlets in Spanish, for distribution in New York City and in areas along the Mexican border and in southern California.

09. A woman in a coma delivers a baby. She had been injured in an automobile accident.

10. Robert M. Ball becomes Commissioner of Social Security and its 34,661 employees.

11. Maurice, the book man of Greenwich Village is having a problem with the subway locker people. Even though he stores hundreds of books in 49 lockers, and even though he pays for them with dimes every time he thinks of it.. the "Locker Nazi" wants him to get his books out of the lockers so people can use them for personal items. Maurice says that each subway station has lots of unused lockers and he really is a good customer for the company.

12. The Smith College Club of Baltimore is getting ready for their 4th annual used book sale. (As my daughter, Elizabeth, was being born in 1961, I was not allowed anywhere near the Delivery Room, so I went outside on the street to wait. Next to the hospital was an empty store and inside the 3rd annual Smith College Book Sale was going on. I bought a lot of books before I went back in to see my new daughter. To celebrate Elizabeth's birth, I visited all of the Smith College Book Sales for the next 40 years! Changes in location and prices has made the sale quite different than it was.. but it still is fun... if you want to get that book that you always wanted to read.. you will find it there.

13. Arthur C. Clarke quotes K. E. Tsiolkovski (1857-1935) : "Earth is the cradle of the mind: but one cannot live in the cradle forever." Clarke says: "... as we reach out into space, sooner or later we will discover that we are not alone. It may well be that our civilization is one of the most primitive now existing..."

14. A review of African Genesis by Robert Ardrey. "This book is presented as a personal investigation into the animal origins and nature of man." Ardrey's basic argument is that man is instinctively an aggressive and ruthless animal .. an innate killer. This is a very provocative and controversial book.

15. A Long Island supermarket has worked out a plan whereby customers turn cash register slips in to any local church. The store pledges to pay churches one percent of amounts shown on slips.

16. A beautiful picture of snow-capped Mount Fujiyama in Japan.

17. Some beautiful prints by Japanese artist Harunobu from around 1720.

18. An interesting article about Tokyo, titled: On Ginza, Glitter, Gastronomy and Girlie Shows.. and Geishas.


Monday, October 19, 2009

Just a couple of things.

Think about these few things for a while:

01. The McDonald's bun plant in Bomporto, Italy, has made 1.5 billion buns since it opened. How do they get them to the stores before they get stale?

02. Mensan Gary Sitwell, Ph.D, has written Where was God? .. Evil, Theodicy, and Modern Science in an attempt to address the age-old syllogism: "If God is all-powerful and all-good, He would have created a universe with no suffering and no evil. But evil and suffering exist. Therefore, there is no God." Gary has proposed a new theodicy based on modern science.. quantum physics, relativity and chaos theory, that he feels may counter that atheist argument.

03. Mensan Elizabeth Amarante visited former President John Tyler's Virginia plantation in 1998. She found that a grandson of Tyler's was still living. Now, Tyler was born in 1790 and was six Presidents before Abraham Lincoln. How could he have a living grandson over two hundred years later?

President Tyler had 15 children by two different wives. In 1853, at age 63, he fathered a son, who, in turn, fathered the current Tyler grandson in 1928 at the age of 75. The grandson, Harrison Tyler lives at the plantation with his family.

04. Mayo Shattuck III received $15.7 million dollars in compensation from the Constellation Energy Group, Inc. Nolan D. Archibald received $13.7 million dollars in compensation from the Black and Decker Corporation. Bill Smith received $48,500. in compensation from one of these companies for a job which required him to put his life in danger 40 hours a week.

Sunday, October 18, 2009

Portuguese Treat

My daughter, Diane, received about one thousand pounds of kale from a friend. She offered it to me and I quickly took it off her hand. I found an authentic New Bedford, Massachusetts, recipe for Portuguese Kale Soup and I spent a couple of hours today making the best smelling kale soup I have ever had the experience of smelling.

I had to change the recipe a bit because Elaine doesn't do garlic. I love garlic, so I sneaked in some garlic powder. Also, I couldn't get linguica, so I got a similar sausage to use. The great thing about Kale Soup is that you only have to cook it for 30 to 40 minutes, after sauteing the meat and onions.

We usually have fun on a Sunday night making special food that we can't get at the restaurant we use on other days, so we will now enjoy our kale soup with some nice red wine.. Elaine will probably have milk instead of wine. Perhaps, as we eat, I will regale Elaine with some Portuguese phrases that I learned as a child in New Bedford.

New Bedford is a great place for people who like good food. Some of the food: Quahog chowder! Twin lobsters! Lobster rolls (even McDonald's serves them)! Portuguese wine.. Madeira, Port, etc; Portuguese rolls; Linguica/curica (sp?); mussels; clams, scallops, etc etc.

I talked to my daughter, Elizabeth, and she reminded me that my late wife made kale soup quite a bit. The first time that Elizabeth ate some, her mother asked her if she liked it... Elizabeth said.. "Oh yes! Except for the green stuff!"

My daughter, Diane, accompanied me to New Bedford for my uncle Allen's funeral recently. After the service, we had supper at Davy Jones' Locker... we had New Bedford seafood and Diane loved it. I would highly recommend a trip to New Bedford, and a sampling of the great food.

New Bedford is a great place for tourism. However, the Fisherman's Union for years has downplayed the tourism issue because they want the city to be known more for scallops and fish instead. I always wanted to offer my services to advertise the city around the world. At least the city finally was able to get the cobblestoned area declared a National Park.

There are still scores of beautiful homes in the city.. most were the homes of Whaling Captains. I lived in one of them for a couple of years. It was a beautiful building.

After the demise of whaling, because of the discovery of oil in Pennsylvania, the textile industry took over in the City. However, when the union movement bothered the mill owners, they moved down to the South and New Bedford became a poor place (after being the richest US city during the whaling era).. until fishing took over .. I think that New Bedford is now the largest fishing port in the US.

If you get a chance to visit New Bedford and/or try kale soup... bon appetit!


Saturday, October 17, 2009

Just some weird news again.

These are some of the stories in the news that interest me this week.

01. Sheriff of Maricopa County, Arizona, Joe Arpaio.. you remember, the guy who makes jail inmates wear pink underwear.. and who has been called America's toughest sheriff .. has been stripped of his federal authority to make on the street arrests of suspected illegal immigrants by using racial profiling. (Maybe he should quit his police job and go to work for Victoria's Secret.)

02. David M. Rubenstein celebrated his 60th birthday by donating $10 million to the Lincoln Center. I guess this is small change for a guy worth almost $3 billion. When he turned 54, he said: "I have 27 years to go. I could be like the pharaohs and say 'bury me with my money'. Or, I could start giving it away." (Hey, Dave, how about giving one of your billions to cancer research!)

03. WQXR is the only classical music station in New York City. New York and it's surrounding suburbs has a population of 16 million people. Surely the city could support a few more classical music stations. Anyway, WQXR will now become a public radio station.. I wonder how that will affect the amount of music to be played. (I'll bet there are hundreds of rock stations in NYC.)

04. A flock of sheep in Jordan suffered spontaneous combustion because of methane in the soil and a stray spark. (I wonder if that could be the cause of some of the many spontaneous combustion human cases over the years.)

05. A mile of manatee poop has washed ashore in Vero Beach, Florida. (How did they determine that it came from manatees?)

06. The Wall Street Journal reports that 1.8 million bags checked at airlines last year did not arrive at their destinations at the same time as their owners.

07. Former Vice President Cheney will be bashing his former boss in a new book he is writing. The Washington Post reports that Cheney accuses Former President Bush of "going soft," and becoming just "an ordinary politician."

08. Aesop tells about the crow who drops stones in a pitcher to get to the water. Now, researchers have found that this intelligent action is indeed something that crow-like birds can do. The only other creature (outside of man) who would be able to do that is an orangutan.

09. Stray dogs in Moscow have taught themselves to use the subway, or so it is reported in the tabloids. Every morning they take the train into central Moscow, where food is easier to obtain.. and at night they take the train back home to sleep.

10. New Justice Sotomayor has asked more questions in her few days on the court than Clarence Thomas has asked in all the years he has been a Justice.

11. Rubik's Cube has gone high tech. For $150, you can get a cute little cube that flips colors when you swipe your finger against its sides. There are no moving parts.. a "kachunk" sound is broadcast when the flip occurs. (I struggled for many hours with an old-fashioned Rubik's Cube years ago, got frustrated, and gave it up. My son did not have to struggle at all. He just picked it up and solved it in a few seconds!)

12. I haven''t looked recently, but sunsets are supposed to be more colorful than usual, because of the eruption of Russia's Sarychev Peak in June. A lot of sulfur dioxide was thrown into the stratosphere and its tiny particles are scattering blue light and mixing it with the normal red, to produce some weird purple colors.


Thursday, October 15, 2009

Knives and Common Sense

Two scenarios:

#1. I am a teen-ager.
I have a straight A average in High School.
I am an Eagle Scout.
I have saved a relative by using CPR.
I am a safe driver, with no citations and no accidents.
I want to attend West Point.
I am a church-going good kid.

A teacher asked me if I carried a weapon in the car I drive to school.
I said that I just had a small 1 1/2" blade in the emergency kit in my car.
I let the teacher open my glove compartment and take out the blade.

The teacher reported me to the principal, and I was suspended for 45 days.
The suspension was changed to 30 days, but will still be on my record.
I will probably not be able to go to West Point now.
Question: Where was the common sense in this punishment?

Scenario #2:

I am six years old.
I am a cub scout.
At a camping trip, I was given an eating tool, with a knife, a fork, and a spoon.
I use my eating tool all the time.
I took my eating tool to school so that I could use it when I have my lunch.
I dropped my eating tool in the school bus.
The school bus driver reported to the school that I was carrying a dangerous weapon.
I was ordered to go to reform school for three years.
My sentence was dropped, but not before the school board amended a rule at a special meeting.

Question: What would have happened if the rule had not been changed? Reform school for elementary school kids? Where is the common sense in that?

My TRIAD police friends agree with me that there should be common sense applied to cases that fit into such categories.

Some people are of the opinion that "La loi est la loi!" The law is the law. Like in Les Miserables, where a man is hounded for the rest of his life because he stole a loaf of bread many years earlier when he was dying of hunger. It didn't matter that he had become an honored man, who had helped make the world a better place.

The position of Judge was created initially to make sure that the law is upheld... and that should still be the case for the Supreme Court of the United States. But other judges are supposed to temper justice with mercy. I agree that "Three strikes you're out" seems to be fair, and seems to work... but "One strike you're out" is ridiculous in my opinion.

When I worked at Social Security, I had a chance to become an Administrative Law Judge. I wanted to be a judge and make sure that applicants and beneficiaries got a fair hearing before being arbitrarily eliminated from consideration. My boss said that I was too valuable to him to lose, so my hopes in the legal direction fell through. However, as an empath, I still am deeply concerned about the two cases I mentioned above.

Will the teen-ager be able to overcome his record of "bringing a weapon to school?" Will West Point or other colleges hold that against him? Will a potential employer decide not to hire him because of this "horrible" infraction?

Will the six-year old's school record show that he brought a weapon to school? Will this cause his future teachers to watch him extra closely and maybe search him for more "weapons"? What about the seven and eight-year olds in the same school... if they have the same utensil, will they get the mandatory 3 year reform school term... where they can learn some real neat criminal tips from the older inmates?

Come on school teachers and principals... let's bring some common sense to our schools and stop trying to cover your butts by destroying the lives of little kids.

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Solution for Unemployment?

According to Parade Magazine for October 11, 2009, the State of Georgia has come up with an innovative and cost-effective way to reduce unemployment. The Georgia Works program allows jobless citizens to work part-time for up to six weeks at businesses with job openings. No salary is paid, but Georgia pays unemployment benefits and also a weekly amount for transportation and other expenses.

The businesses involved do not pay the workers, but they do provide on-the-job training. So far, 58% of the people in tthe program have been hired by the places where they are working. Michael Thurmond, Georgia's State's Labor Commissioner has said that the employers have saved 15 million dollars in training and labor costs, while the State of Georgia has saved 5 million dollars in money they would have paid to these people, had they remained unemployed.

Sounds like a good idea to me.

It's funny, many years ago, the labor secretary of New Jersey came to SSA to discuss unemployment and he mentioned that (for instance) there were 2,000 job openings in the Newark classified pages.. and 2,000 people looking for work in Newark at the time. He said that his job was to do a match up. Unfortunately, people are picky about the jobs they want. An engineer will not submit to a job at McDonalds, I'm sure.

However, in my work effort mentality, I would not mind working at whatever job there was, in order to provide my family with food.

What happened to the immigrant work ethic? It is probably still alive in the Hispanic neighborhoods.. and that is a good thing, in my opinion.


Monday, October 12, 2009

Survival of the Fittest

In skimming through a book proof (Simply an Inspired Life) by Mary Anne Radmacher and Jonathan Lockwood Huie, I found this observation of theirs that I think is a great insight: "Fear of the unknown is ... probably our greatest fear, and it has undoubtedly been intensified through evolution."

"Paranoia has had great survival value for the human species. Someone who is very afraid of everything becomes very careful, and lives longer - at least long enough to reproduce and nurture offspring."

"The ancestors of those who are alive today were the men and women who were very afraid of all the potential dangers and acted cautiously. Those who were fearless and foolhardy tended to die at a young age, before they could reproduce and pass on genes carrying their tendency toward fearlessness..."

Doesn't this ring true? And how does this match up with the theory that the medula oblongata of young males does not mature until they are around 25 years old and that accounts for the foolish and foolhardy stuff that they do?

When I was a young High School freshman, I thought of myself as a tough daredevil kid, so I went out for the football team. I had played sandlot ball and loved to take chances and run with the ball.

The coach had me "suit up" for a practice scrimmage. We "new blood guys" would be playing against a few of the first team, including a refrigerator-shaped guy named Bobby Watkins. (Bobby later went on to become an "all American" at Ohio State.)

At the first play, I grabbed the ball and started to run towards the goal, knocking guys down as I ran... all of a sudden, I experienced an earthquake of a high magnitude.. Bobby Watkins hit me and knocked me down. I laid there for a minute, pain coursing through my body, when a great insight ocurred to me... You could get hurt playing this game!

I got up, shook the dust, dirt and blood off of me, wobbled off the field, and said "goodbye" to contact sports forever.

So... I was a survivor.. and therefore my genes were able to be passed on to my progeny.

But what about guys like Evel Kaneval (sp?).. Johnny Unitas? .. Flacco (?) the Hulkster?

These are deep things to think about, my friends. Meanwhile, I would advise my grandson, Jack, to take a lot of extra care while he is playing football. He is really good at the game.. but I would rather that he played baseball.. or maybe golf.. or maybe tiddly-winks and therefore make sure that he will be able to pass his genes (diluted from this old grandfather) on to his progeny.


Sunday, October 11, 2009

Extra Protein

Watch it! WATCH IT! If you received a free sample of Nature Valley Granola Nut Clusters with your morning newspaper. I received two.. one with the Baltimore Sun and one with The Carroll County (MD) Times. The little packets looked very appetising. Elaine ate one and enjoyed it. I ate half of one and then noticed little creatures running through the remaining crumbs.

Weevils, apparently. I threw up a bit and immediately drank a bottle of beer to see if the alcohol would kill the little rascals. Maybe.. maybe not.

I appreciate General Mills giving me that extra protein.. but I would have like to have had it in a better form.

I wrote an email to General Mills to complain, but their web contact info appeared to kill my message as it was being sent.

I called to General Mills, but nobody was there to hear me.

Anyway, be careful... I don't think weevils will kill you, but they probably will tickle the inside of your gut and make you giggle a lot. Also, if you put the little buggers in your closet, they will have a ball, getting into your flour and other grain products.

Thursday, October 08, 2009

A Horrible Event

A 100 year old woman was found strangled at Brandon Woods nursing home in South Dartmouth, Massachusetts. This woman was in good health and had been out shopping with her son earlier in the day. This disturbs me even more than it normally would because my mother and step-father were residents of this facility for some time in their later life.

Was this a case of euthenasia by some nurse who believes that a 100 year old person has lived long enough? Was it the act of some nutcase elderly patient? Brandon Woods had a number of nutcase patients, if I recall correctly. Thank God that my sister was able to keep tabs on the situation of our mother and at one time found a fellow patient striking her.

Yes, fellow patients as well as care-givers can sometimes be a problem for incapacitated seniors.

During my TRIAD Conference on October 29th of this year at Carroll Lutheran Village in Westminster, Maryland, Ms. Toni Katz will be telling us about drug abuse at nursing homes and hospice locations. I've heard this lecture and seen the secretly filmed activity of some care-givers. Some nurses have even taken pain patches off the bodies of terminally ill patients and sucked the drugs out of the bandages! Toni also can tell lots of stories about the physical abuse of patients.

There is an ombudsman program in Maryland where nursing homes are visited by caring persons who listen to the complaints of residents and take measures to have abusive situations corrected. I hope that the program is being used in other States as well.

Sunday, October 04, 2009

Home from down 'e ocean, Hon (good bye ghost!)

(Yes, we had a ghost!)

Well, we are back home after three weeks at the ocean. It was an interesting time. The first week was "biker week".. with 100,000 motorcycle guys descending upon the town. They were everywhere 24 hours a day. It was an adventure trying to drive down the main drag without hitting any of them. One was hit a block ahead of me and clothing was strewn all over the highway.

The next week was "Sunfest" week... Elaine was able to see the "Village People" and also to buy lots and lots of special stuff at the little shops.

The last week was a bit quiet.. lots and lots of fisherguys with trucks parading up and down the sand. I did not see any of the surf fishers catch anything, but that isn't the real reason they are there anyway. Of course, it is to get away from the wife for a few hours.

Our big fun this three weeks was dealing with the "micro ghost." The first morning there, we put Elaine's coffee into the microwave to be zapped. After taking the heated coffee out, the microwave decided to start up again, on its own. It did this over and over for a long time, until I pulled the plug.

When I plugged in again to heat something, it immediately began to heat for 4minutes and 59 seconds. I put water in a cup and placed it in the microwave oven. The micro "ghost" began to heat it for 7 minutes and 45 seconds, on its own.

The next time, it was quiet for a while and let me heat something. After about an hour, it went: beep, beep, beep, beep, beep, and different numbers appeared on the dial. It settled on 2 minutes and took off. After two minutes, it went for two minutes again. After a few iterations, it started its strange beeps again and gave us a cute little melody. I pulled the plug.

For three weeks we suffered the playful vagaries of the "micro ghost". (It was kind of fun, not knowing what the damn thing was going to do next.) The owner, Rose, was contacted and warned about the ghost... I could tell that she didn't really believe me... but, since she showed up just as we were leaving.. I'm sure she got the ghost's treatment. I'll have to call her and find out.

Even though it gave us a few laughs, it was nice to come home to a rational, conservative microwave.