Saturday, February 27, 2010

Weekly Dozen 02/27/10

Here are some new items mixed in with old items:

01. 2010: Solution to the monetary crisis: Even though the State of Missouri is having so many financial problems, they feel good that they have figured a way out of the situation. They will deduct $1 every week from their Governor's salary to invest in PowerBall, or whatever that Lottery is called. All money won will be used to pay down Missouri's debt.

02. 1998: Diabetes: CBS reports that an insulin inhaler is being developed. (Was it developed? I think that they already had the "pump" at that time.

03. 2010: Carotid clearance: A study has reported that a stent procedure to clear a clogged carotid artery works just as well as an operation. (Why didn't they tell me that two years ago!)

04. 2010: "Chips": In Britain, they are trying to develop a "chip" made out of meat. (Would that be a "potato chip" or a "chip" as in Britain's famous "fish and chips"?)

I wish I could find a place to eat true English fish and chips! You can get it back in New Bedford, Massachusetts, but I have not found the same thing anywhere in the Mid-Atlantic. The closest was at Arthur Treacher's Restaurant, but they closed down all of those places anywhere near where I live. I think there might be one left in Maryland somewhere, but I haven't found it yet.

05. 1998: WOW Chips: Speaking of "chips", in 1998 the FDA gave a "thumbs up" to Olestra. Products using it were supposed to be still high calorie, but have no fat grams. I tried some of them at the time and found that they did not like my digestion and haven't tried them since, knowingly. I guess you can still get Olestra products in the Super Market.

06. 2010: Mr. Toyoda: I have wondered why the head of the family-based car company doesn't have the same name as the car. I heard today, somewhere, that it is because the stroke for "T" is not as lucky as the stroke for "D" in Japanese ideograms, so it was changed.. (maybe they should have changed the stroke for the car name also, and they might not be having so many problems.)

Incidentally, I took my RAV4 in to the Toyota dealer for my 5,000 maintenance, and while I was there, they did the recall fix for the accelerator.

By the way, to graduate from a Japanese grammar school, a student must know 881 characters (ideograms). To graduate from High School, a student must know 1,850, and to read at a college level, a student must know 3,000.

All of these characters are built up from less than 300 elements or pictures. These pictures were drawn by the Chinese similar to Egyptian hieroglyphics. The Japanese borrowed these characters from the Chinese over 2,000 years ago.

07. 1998: Leo Buscaglia: One of my favorite people passed away on June 12, 1998. Leo Buscaglia was a California professor who taught a class in LOVE. In addition to his class, he gave televised lectures on the subject and wrote a number of books about love.

Luckily, I taped his presentations whenever I found them on TV. His whole life was built around letting people know what love was all about. At his lectures, everyone was hugged by him before they left. His death was a great loss to the world, in my opinion.

My cousin, Charlie, and his family live in Bethlehem, Pennsylvania and attend a Baptist church there. The preacher, until a few years ago, was from Baltimore and had a Bethlehem Steel background. I visited the church a few times and the preacher always had a line waiting for him after the services. They were waiting to get a hug from him. What a great idea! I don't see or experience many hugs any more. Perhaps it is because of a fear of the flu. I have read that hugs are good medicine and buttress our immune systems.. maybe after the flu goes away, we can get back to hugging.

08. 2010: Cartalk definitions:

Lymph: To walk with a lisp.

MacAdam: The first Scotsman.

09. 1998: Airline crashes: Tom Snyder (Remember him? The 6'8" Late Late Show host .. replaced by 6'8" Conan O'Brien!) said that statistics showed that more people are killed by donkeys each year than are killed in airline crashes. (Let that be a lesson to you!)

10. 2010: Healthy flies: A college professor has developed a method for exercising fruit flies so they will be healthier for use in experiments.

Time flies like the wind,
Fruit flies like bananas.

11. 2010: Accident: It had to happen. Two police segways crashed into each other. (By the way, did you know that the first automobile accident in the U. S. occured in Baltimore?)

12. 2010: Vital statistics:

The most dangerous food in the U.S. is the hot dog. (Apparently, children choke on them, and scientists are trying to change their shape to make them safer.)

The laziest people in the world live in the United States. (Maybe that fruit fly professor should come up with an innovative way for everyone to exercise.)


1998 and 2010: Words: Back in 1998, I read where no word rhymes with month, purple or orange. I have been trying since then to find words that did complete those rhymes. No luck, yet. Perhaps my long-lost brother Joe (if he is reading this) may have found some already since he is a noted word expert.

Can you find rhyming words for month, purple or orange?

Saturday, February 20, 2010

Weekly Dozen @ 02/20/2010

Here are some backlogged items:

01. Last year, Time magazine mentioned two special inventions that they did not particularly like:

a. A bra that can easily be converted into two gasmasks.

b. Software that scans the smiles of Japanese railway employees to make sure that they exude the proper amount of cheerfulness.

(Japanese-watchers have also been reporting on the depth of Mr. Toyoda's bows when apologizing for automobile glitzes. Apparently one can tell a lot about people's intentions by how low they bow.)

02. Why is it that all real famous people were born on holidays? (Washington, Lincoln, King, etc.)

03. Who was this "Red" Roundtree who was arrested in 2003 for trying to rob a bank at the age of 91?

04. The Vice President of Nigeria has a great name: Goodluck Jonathan. (Baltimore's own H.L.Mencken gets into "different" names in his classic study The American Language. For instance, at one time, Doctors at Johns Hopkins would name the babies for poor women who had their labor in that hospital.. one of the names given out, supposedly appropriately, was Positive Wasserman Johnson.)

05. Some art experts are declaring that the Mona Lisa is a self-portrait of Leonardo Da Vinci in drag. (Take a good look and compare after dropping the beard.. there may be some truth to this.)

06. I'm sure that now you have heard about the famous cricketeer who shocked the sports world by biting the ball during a match. This is cheating at cricket on a large scale, similar to throwing a "spitball" at a batter's head.

07. Recently, a Denver advertisement for a job as "medical marijuana reviewer" netted lots of applications.

08. A woman has filed a lawsuit against her boss for "breaking wind" in her cubicle.
(Cruel and unusual punishment, now probably considered on a par with smoking in one's area.)

09. John Gay died in 1732, and had chiseled on his tombstone:

Life is a jest,
And all things show it.
I thought so once,
And now I know it.

10. Sarah Palin had crib notes written on her hand for her recent Tea Party Convention speech. (I wonder if someone was able to photograph those notes. They would be worth thousands of dollars.)

11. Dallas, Texas police have been issuing tickets to people for not speaking English. (What law does this break?)

12. A freight train was parked in front of a woman's house for six week. During that time, she had to scoot under the train to get out into the world.

When I was in High School and walked to school down a certain street, there was always a large truck parked across the street and sidewalk, taking on items for delivery. This was a challenge to us boys, who scooted under the truck.. while the motor was running and the gearshift was about to be engaged. The girls were not as dumb as the boys.. they waited for the truck to move out of the way or took another route.

Extra: South Carolina's Mark Sanford, thinking ahead, had the "faithfulness promise" removed from the wedding vow for his marriage.


Saturday, February 13, 2010

Valentine's Day

She slinked into the bedroom and climbed onto the wide soft bed. She was ready for the loving caresses that she begged for each night. She looked forward to these nightly expressions of love, so important to a female. As she was caressed, she let out little sounds of delight. Yes, SuZee, our pretty little Siamese cat needed those reassurances that she was loved.


On Valentine's Day all females, human and otherwise, need to be reassured that they are loved. So, guys, if you haven't gotten something for your loved one yet, you'd better get moving before the stores close.

Many years ago, when finances were tight, my wife and I decided that we would not get anything for each other for Valentine's Day. I went to work, pleased that I did not have to rush around finding something appropriate to the day. However, on that same day, I had to wait outside of a computer room while a job was run. When it was over, I would be able to test a computer program.

As I sat there, I heard two secretaries talking: One said: "My boyfriend and I agreed that we would not get something for each other for Valentine's Day." The other said: "Are you serious? Do you think that he really won't get you anything?" The first lady said: "Well, if the son-of-a-bitch doesn't get me anything, I'll cut his ----- off."

Being an astute student of humankind, I took these comments to heart and after work made sure that I bought an appropriate card and some cheap chocolates. On the next day, my wife presented me with a nice card and was extremely happy that I had gotten her some gifts as well. See.. I'm not as dumb as I look, and I listen to what others have to say.

A certain lady of my acquaintance had the same experience.. she and her husband "agreed" to forego giving gifts on Valentine's Day. On that day, she looked for at least a card from her husband.. but he hadn't gotten the message and replied: "You said we weren't going to give each other anything this year, so I didn't get you anything."

Well, it is now 40 years later, and she hasn't forgiven him yet.. and never will.

Gentlemen, take these words to heart and remember: If mama ain't happen, regardless of what she says in advance, nobody is going to be happy. So, get your butt out there and get her a Valentine's Day card and some nice juicy chocolates before the damn store closes!


Wednesday, February 10, 2010

I Love Snow

The poet Shelley (you know, the Blythe Spirit guy) said:

I love snow, and all the forms
Of the radiant frost.

I also love snow, but maybe not so much of it.

When I was in grammar school, I was required to memorize several poems. Unfortunately, I was only able to remember the first few lines of each, try as I might.

(The only feat of memorization that I accomplished was the books of the Bible, when I was in a Baptist Sunday School. However, when it came time to demonstrate my prowess, I got stage-fright and couldn't even start to talk.)

One of the bits of poem that I was able to memorize was from James Russell Lowell's poem:

The First Snow-Fall.

The snow had begun in the gloaming
And busily all the night,
Had been heaping field and highway
With a silence deep and white.

The rest of the poem was kind of sad, so I was not eager to memorize it. This sadness surprized me, because Mr. Lowell was the only one of the famous Massachusetts 19th Century poets who normally did humorous and satirical work.

(By the way, Mr. Lowell was the author of the influential Biglow papers.. the first series of which lambasted the Mexican War.. the second series of which was concerned with the Civil War.)

I was interested in this word "gloaming" = dusk. I found that the word probably was derived from Middle English "gloming", from "glom" meaning "dusk". The words "gloom" and "gloomy" come from these roots.

Remember: "Roaming through the gloaming, with my sweetheart by my side." I think this was a line from a Scottish song popularized by Sir Harry Lauder.

Well, the TV announcer says that Eldersburg, Maryland has now received over 20" of snow today.. on top of the 28" they received a couple of days ago. (That's four feet of snow in one week, folks.. more than at Vancouver for the Winter Olympics.) Eldersburg is about 10 miles away from where we are.. and we probably have received as much as they have.

The 40 mph wind gusts are still heaping drifts around our house.. in addition, a Bobcat with a snow blower keeps going by and blowing snow all over the drifts.

Things like mailboxes and fire hydrants disappeared from sight long ago. The poor birds are flying around looking for food and we have cabin fever, but there is no way we could venture out in this blizzard.

The snow is supposed to stop in three hours, but the winds will keep it drifting until tomorrow morning when the sun will miraculously appear to warm us up a bit and melt all of the icicles.

If I were younger, I would now be out shoveling snow. I loved to do that, especially when I was a teenager. On a day after a big snow storm, I could sometimes make $10 shoveling people out. (Ten dollars was big money when I was a kid.)

Now, I live in a "continuing care community" and they don't advise any of us old dudes to shovel snow. At 3 AM this morning, I heard some Spanish, turned on my porch light, and discovered an older man shoveling my porch. He did a good job, but by 8 AM, we were snowed in again. A group of guys came by around ten AM and shoveled the porch again. The snow quickly piled up again and I guess they gave up because the porch snow is now shoulder-high. Maybe they'll come back in the early morning when the snow and blowing stops.

If I'm lucky, they will shovel out my driveway. However, there will still be six feet of snow on top of my car and I'll have to get that put somewhere. I am still young enough to be able to do physical things, but some of my neighbors are quite elderly. I hope they don't try to shovel anything because a heart is a terrible thing to lose.


Friday, February 05, 2010

Random Thoughts for a Snowy Afternoon in Maryland

I just got back from the Giant Supermarket. It was a madhouse! Everybody in Maryland must buy milk, bread and toilet paper before every storm, even if their larder is already stocked. On the radio, it was reported that people in a Columbia, Maryland market were fighting over bread!

We are supposed to get over a foot of snow. This means that everything will stop in this area. Of course, there will still be young folks out there driving as though it were a sunny Spring day. As a former taxi-driver in New England, I lived through quite a few snow storms of very large proportions (once about 48"). We learned early in our driving careers about how to maneuver in slippery, slushy conditions.

How many people remember when one had to put chains on your tires in order to move in the snow? It took only a couple of big snow storms to learn how to quickly apply those metal life-savers. Of course, they usually broke a few blocks away from your goal and you had to "get out and get under" to get them repaired and ready to use again. Some years ago, snow tires were invented and that did away with chains, except in the more northern climes of the U.S.

Now I have to tell my Baltimore snow stories. If you have heard them from me before, just scroll through to the end.

I left Massachusetts in 1960 to come to work for Social Security in Baltimore. Relatives and friends advised us not to take Winter clothes because Maryland was below the Mason-Dixon line and warm all the time. We made our scantily-clad way to Pulaski Highway and holed up at a truckstop motel made of cinder blocks that were not quite matched up on the ends.

This would not have been a problem if the weather was indeed warm. But, instead, it was below freezing, and the wind was blowing snow through the cracks between the cinder blocks. We had never been so cold in our lives.

But, we stuck it out and borrowed enough clothes from co-workers to allow us to be somewhat warm until I got my first paycheck and we could buy some coats and sweaters.

My first Social Security assignment was to get training at the Standard Oil Building in downtown Baltimore. Some might know that it is situated at the side of a very steep hill. While in training, Baltimore was hit with a 6-inch snow storm during the day, and because there was no snow policy at the time, we were required to stay in our training area all day.

We had a lot of fun though, looking out the window overlooking the steep hill. The year before then had been a year with no snow precipitation at all, so the City of Baltimore sold all of their snow removal equipment and the hill remained very slippery with snow. Cars were having a hard time getting up and down. Some local politician got the bright idea that this condition could be fixed by using the hose unit of a fire comany truck.

The truck pulled up to the top of the hill, hooked a hose to a hydrant, and began to pour water down the snow-covered hill. This worked great in removing the snow.. but it wasn't so great when the water froze. I had never seen so many cars ski down that hill. Most of them made it to the bottom without hitting anything.. but some didn't. It was a great show.

Since the 1960's snow has been a regular visitor to the Baltimore area, but still not enough to allow drivers to learn how to maneuver in it. I taught safe driving to seniors for eight years and learned that it is almost impossible to explain how to drive in snow and ice when you are teaching in a classroom environment. One needs "on the job" experience.

In cities like Montreal, Canada, people adapt quite well to Winter weather. I visited there once in February and there was snow everywhere. People were doing cross-country skiing all over the place. Not many cars were being used at all. Besides skis, people were using the excellent subway system and shopping in Montreal's underground city.

During that Montreal trip, I put on an unplanned exhibition for the Royal Canadian Mounted Police, but that will have to be the subject of another blog. Meanwhile, I am going to sit here at my kitchen window and watch the snow fall.


Wednesday, February 03, 2010

A Fairy Tale

Several people have sent me this fairy tale via email. It has to be a fairy tale because it is simply too amazing to be true.. but, of course, we live in a time of amazing stories. Here goes:

Immediately after the shooting at the military base in Oregon, the armed guard at the fort hospital was surprised to see the President arive alone in a car he was driving. After the startled guard recognized and allowed the President to enter the facility, the President met with the wounded people and paid his respects to the fallen.

Wow.. what a story... a President who cares enough to come to the base and pay his respects. But wait, who was that President? Why it was George W. Bush! President Obama didn't show up until a few days later.. shame on him.

Now.. that's a great story, that shows us what a kind and thoughtful person President Bush is and how thoughtless President Obama is. And isn't it amazing that:

President Bush drove 2,000 miles alone, in his own car to reach the base.

President Bush somehow convinced the Secret Service men who are assigned to every retired President 24/7 that they should allow him to drive unaccompanied all that distance.

Where were the newspaper reporters? Where was Laura? What about his staff?

Where did the President stay over night? Did he drive all the way through without stopping? Did he sleep in the car? Did he have a change of clothes? A toothbrush?

Why didn't anybody recognize him when he stopped to eat lunch or to pee?

Perhaps he parachuted in and rented a car in town.

Perhaps it was a George W. Bush look-alike. Some of these guys are "dead ringers" for Mr. Bush. Why didn't that guard ask for identification? What were his orders about letting unauthorized people onto the grounds?

Suppose it was a terrorist in Bush disguise.

I didn't know that Carl Rove was back in business.


Some folks will make up any story to discredit President Obama, by making it sound like he doesn't care. As an Independent, I try to see what both parties are about and I know that "dirty tricks" are not confined to just one Party; however, to try to make up stories in an attempt to cause a President of the United States to fail, is disreputable, in my opinion. Even those who thought that President Bush was ill suited to the job, did not want him to fail. Methinks I detect some racist tendencies here.. I hope I am wrong.


Monday, February 01, 2010

Love Stuff

As a tribute to the up-coming Valentine's Day, the Nation magazine has published a critique by Miriam Markowitz on a book by Cristina Nehring titled: A Vindication of Love (Reclaiming Romance for the Twenty-First Century.)

You've heard of a "Chick Flick".. well this sounds to me as though the book is a "Chick Book".. I recommend that you read the review, think about what it covers, then maybe buy and read the book itself, because it sounds good. (I might buy it and I'm not even a "chick") Besides, who is not "in love" with "love" and doesn't want to learn more about it?

Some "love" books that are mentioned by the reviewer, (and also recommended by that "love expert" me) and which are supposedly mentioned in the subject book are:

Plato's Symposium.

Ovid's Ars Amatoria (The Art of Love.). advertised for years in the back pages of comic books and detective magazines.. to be sent for by adolescent boys just trying to discover what "love" or maybe "lust" is all about. (Want to borrow my copy?)

Diane of the Crossways by George Meredith (18th century).

A Vindication of the Rights of a Woman by Mary Wollstonecraft.

The Allegory of Love by C.S. Lewis. (A theory of the invention of courtly love.)

The End of the Novel of Love (1997) by Vivian Gornich. (Love in full bloom in the Bronx of World War II.)

When did romantic love begin anyway? Adam and Eve? King Arthur's Court? Stratford upon Avon? The Galapagos Islands? Woodstock?

If it wasn't for "love" where would the music industry be?

"I'm in the mood for love"
"Love makes the world go round."
"Love me or leave me"
"Be my love"
"Love me tender"
"I'm not at all in love"
"I'm in love with a wonderful (guy/gal)"
"L O V E, love"
etc., etc., etc., etc.

I love "love", don't you? Happy Valentine's Day!