Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Has the world gone mad?

Today was a great day, until I read the newspaper. We traveled to DC to see the National Geographic Terra Cotta Warriors exhibit. It was unbelievable. Even though it was chilly, the flowering trees were out everywhere and the sky was blue.

By the time we got back into Maryland, it was raining and the wind was blowing a gale. But even that was ok.. and I heard that the stock market was way up today, and that was good. Then I made my mistake, I opened the paper to check the obits and make sure that I was still alive.. and found these stories:

01. The father of a marine who died in Iraq has been ordered to pay the legal costs for the anti-gay protesters from Kansas who picketed his son's funeral. Freedom of speech? I believe in it, but to do what these professed Christians have done to this poor family is reprehensible. I think that it is time for the Southern Poverty Law group to get involved in the activities of this hate group.

02. Nine alleged members of a so-called Christian militia have been charged with plotting to kill and slaughter scores of people at the funeral of a police officer. Thank God they have been caught before they could do this mayhem.

03. Two teen-age female suicide bombers have killed 38 people in the Moscow subway system. DC Metro employees and the police are stepping up their protective activity to avoid such activity there.

04. A 12 year-old boy will be charged as an adult in the shotgun killing of his father's pregnant fiancee when he was 11. (Are you getting depressed yet?)

05. A Frederick man has been found guilty of tossing a puppy off a bridge because he was angry at her owners for ordering him off their property.

06. Crowds of Hindus and Moslems are attacking each other with stones and clubs in Southern India.

07. An editorial by a man who calls the recently passed health care reform bill a disaster shows by his words that it is easy to criticise without learning about what he is criticising.

08. Three people were quoted on their view of the health care reform bill:

Lady in her 50's: says that health care needs to be overhauled, but not by the people in Washington... Me: well, then who is going to do it? The Insurance companies?

Lady in her 40's: says that the government can't even run the Post Office.. Me: Well, the Government doesn't actually run the Post Office any more..

Man in his 70's: says it stinks.. not happy with BO.. Me: He's got his.. Medicare or Medicaid, so to hell with everybody else.

Already, one feature of the reform should make all parents happy.. and it has already gone into effect: children may now stay on the health plans of their parents until the age of 26! That provision would have saved me thousands of dollars a few years ago.

OK.. enough of this.. let's see if there is anything pleasant in the newspaper:

01. Giant Food in Westminster, Maryland will be installing gas pumps. Sounds great to me. Gas and go shopping.

02. A burglar worked so hard getting his loot ready to carry out of a house, that he fell asleep on one of the beds and awoke to the welcome of a policeman.

03. Nicolas Sarkozy and his wife are enjoying themselves in New York City.

04. Apple will soon release its iPad multimedia tablet in competition with Amazon's Kindle. Hopefully, this will bring down the prices for these e-book items.. also, the iPad will do more than just allow you to read a book the old way, but should allow video and interactivity. This should expand our minds.

05. The iPhone may be coming to Verizon sometime soon. I haven't wanted to work with the iPhone because of its current link up with AT&T, a company that I had lots of problems with over the years.

Let me end by telling you two jokes that I heard today.

A 50-ish lady was being examined by a young doctor when she started screaming and ran from the examining room. An older doctor stopped her and asked what had happened. He then went into the examining room and confronted the younger doctor.

"You know that she is a grandmother, why did you tell her that she was pregnant?"

"Does she still have the hiccups?"

A 16 year old boy wanted to learn to drive. His father said that he could learn to drive if he would bring all his grades up to A's and B's, begin to study the Bible, and get a haircut.

A few months later, the boy came to his father and said, "My grades are all A's and B's now, and I have been studying the Bible everyday for months."

The father said: "The grades are great and I'm glad about the Bible study, but what about your long hair?"

The boy said: "From what I read in the Bible, Sampson had long hair and so I think did Jesus."

The father said: "Yes, and they walked all the time too."


Monday, March 29, 2010

Weekly Dozen at 03/29/10

Some interesting items from my favorite news sources:

01. Yuk! President Bush and President Clinton were working and shaking hands in Haiti last week. Mr. Bush apparently thought that there might have been germs on the hand of his last shaker.. so, not having anything to wipe the germs, he turned and wiped his hands on Mr. Clinton's shirt... or so it seems to show in a video taken at the time.

02. Guiness egg record: A Texas man used his head to smash 138 raw eggs in one minute. The main question here is "Why?"

03. Supersize it! In an examination of all of the paintings of the Last Supper over the years, one can see a general increase in the size of the food shown in the pictures, from year to year.

04. Giant disappointment: Some British guys rowed 2,500 miles to try to win the Atlantic Rowing Race, but went aground on a reef less than one mile from the finish.

05. Crash! Last week, Wikipedia was dead for some time. I wonder how many term papers were postponed.

06. Dumb criminals: Thieves called a bank to let them know that they were coming to rob them and asked them to have the money ready. Police were ready instead.

07. More dumb criminals: A couple appeared on the Dr. Phil show and described how they stole toys and sold them on EBay. I guess they didn't realize that policemen watched the show.

08. Garbage Island: A floating island of garbage twice the size of Texas exists in the Pacific Ocean, 600 miles from California. A crew of scientists will be capturing a "shipload" of it in May. They wil be both cleaning up the Pacific, and also using the plastic obtained to try to develop a new kind of fuel.

09. Your way: A Burger King in Brazil takes customers' pictures with a hidden camera and delivers the burgers with the customers' pictures printed on the food wrapper.

10. Scumbag award: To the sushi restaurant that served its customers meat from endangered sei whales. They should throw away the key on the owners.

11. A bunch of baloney! Some company wants to etch a picture on slices of whatever animal was used in making the processed food. Pig; Chicken; Cow; Groundhog; Rattlesnake; Butcher;

12. Bad words. Well, now Vice President Biden has joined the ranks of the high Government officials who spoke before the microphone was turned off. Come on, Joe, you know better!

Saturday, March 20, 2010

Weekly Dozen @ March 20, 2010

Happy Spring! It is a beautiful 70 degree day here in Maryland where our weather goes from below freezing to Summer heat in a matter of days.

Lots of stuff going on today.. the Senate Rules Committee is getting ready to do their thing about the Health Reform Bill.. the robins are pulling skinny worms out of the moist ground.. the Mt. Airy, Maryland, St James Church now has two of our old television sets and 15 old telephone sets for recycling.. I delivered a lot of my beer making material to my son-in-law John so that he can make more of that wonderful brew.. and here is/are a dozen of things to think about. (Those tricky collective nouns! English must be a very tough language for foreign speakers to learn.)

01. Japanese. Speaking of foreign languages, every day recently comments have been posted on some of my blog entries, and most of those are in Japanese. How did they know that I am right now trying to learn to read their language? (It is an amazing experiece just to find out the history of each ideogram.)

Since I can't read the language yet, I used Google translator on one comment. The result, unfortunately, was unintelligible. So, maybe I'm dealing with some nuts, or I just don't know how to interpret Google's translation. I'll try again later.

02. Irish stuff: A leprechaun museum has been opened in Dublin, or so I've heard. Last year, I submitted a picture I took at Ocean City, Maryland, of a double rainbow. When I saw the phenomenon, I immediately tried to find the end of each to see if it was true that there were pots of gold there, hidden by those spritely elves that the Irish know exist. No luck, so I took a picture instead. It was a pretty good picture and was published in Creative Expressions. (When I learn to post a picture to a blog, I will add it.)

Faith.. and can ye tell me what beautiful green-colored Country is the richest in the world?

Why of course, it's Ireland, whose capitol is always Dublin.

The first time I heard that, I laughed so hard I fell out of my high-chair and spilled my Irish oatmeal.

03. Facebook: The Italian police have just found and arrested Pasquale (a famous crook) by reading his Facebook entries and profile.

Wait, Wait, Don't Tell Me says that there is a new Mafia social network site called Scarface Book.

04. Postal Delivery: I've been following the Postmaster General's recent testimony to the Senate on cost-cutting efforts. He wants to cut out mail delivery on Saturday. One of his reasons is because people don't really get much mail on that day anyway.. probably an average of only 3 pieces of mail. I just retrieved the mail from my mailbox, and it is Saturday.. there were 19 pieces of mail. I guess I am above-average. (Garrison has always said that I was.)

05. Announcements: Apparently, people in New York are complaining about emergency loudspeaker announcements being unintelligible. I would have thought that they knew that already.. haven't they ever tried to put in an order at a fast food drive in lane?

06. Q-Tips: Our Siamese cat, SuZee, has been provided with lots of catnip-filled cat toys. Does she play with them? No. Instead, she plays with Q-Tips. She wrestles with them, carries they around like they are prey, and vigorously seeks them out from wherever we hide them. We have given up.. she always finds them. Elaine thinks we should open a business selling them as cat toys. We could become rich maybe.. of course, we would have to pretty them us somewhat and make sure that the Q-Tip people did not sue us.

07. Fighting: This week I learned that there is a lady who teaches "Cane Fu" fighting. She teaches senior citizens how to defend themselves with their cane. She presented her program at a recent local Expo, but somehow, I missed it. I don't carry a cane anyway and I try to keep away from dangerous areas, as everyone should.

I did hear about a church somewhere near that sponsors violent fighting matches by their congregants so they can learn how to defend themselves in the real violent world. (I thought you were supposed to turn the other cheek.)

08. Government Work: Millie Parsons retired a while ago after serving 59 years with the FBI.. during that time, she never took one hour of sick leave. Somehow, she found time to become a champion ballroom dancer.

(I believe that Lil Steinhorn still holds the record for the longest work for the Government. She worked most of the time for the Social Security Administration in the Baltimore area. On the day she retired, she showed up at the Social Security Alumni Association office and volunteered for work. Lil passed away in 2009. She was over 90 years old.)

09. Texas Interview: Some folks have wondered what is in the latest schoolbooks in Texas.

Interviewer: "Hello, young man. May I ask you a question?"

Texas kid: "Yes, maam."

Int: "Who was Thomas Jefferson?"

Kid: "I don't know maam, was he in a TV show?"

Int: "Isn't he mentioned in your school history book?"

Kid: "No, maam.. and I just finished the whole book in class."

Int: "Do you know who wrote the 'Declaration of Independance?"

Kid: "Oh, yes, maam.. then you must mean Jefferson Davis, who was a hero at the Alamo and later tried bravely to get us independance from a tyrant."

Int: "Did you study about evolution in your classes?"

Kid: "You must mean revolution."

Int: "No, I mean the study of the origin and advancement of life."

Kid: "Oh yes, maam. We studied all about the Garden of Eden in our book."

10. Notch Babies: Well they're at it again. Brown government-looking envelopes are being mailed to senior citizens asking for donations so that they can lobby Congress for some money to make up for the reason they are "Notch Babies".

In a nutshell, years ago, Congress made a mistake in a Social Security benefit formula for a couple of months.. and some people have gotten a larger monthly benefit than people before or after them. If Congress voted to give money to those that came on Social Security right after the more-money persons.. they would have to then give money to all of the ones thereafter.. this would immediately bankrupt the US Government.. and Congress ain't goin' to do it! So.. save your own money and don't contribute to this scheme!

I brought this out as a SCAM to my fellow TRIAD members Thursday, and was informed, rightly, by one of the Police Officers in attendance, that this is not really a scam. It is just another way for unscrupulous people to say they are going to lobby for something that will not take place, while taking donations from lots of senior citizens who can't afford to donate.

My uncle Allen sent these folks lots of money. He passed away in 2009, as did many of the people who were affected by this. Apparently, there are still enough of these folks alive to make this a lucrative ploy.

But, because they will run out of "clients" in a few years, they are now recruiting other "notch babies". In fact, I got a letter this week, naming me as one who would be in the "notch" universe. Guess what? I do not get Social Security. And, I am also no where near old enough to be included in this universe.

I'll bet that these scumbags are now buying mailing lists of any and all senior citizens in an attempt to milk some more money out of the gullible.

11. Parachuting bears: Wait, Wait, Don't Tell Me mentions that someone has come up with a great solution for finding Osama Ben Laden. Parachute bears down from planes over Afghanistan or Pakistan. Bears are known for being great trackers and would go into the caves and come up with their prey. One might ask how bears would like to be put into a parachute.. which would have to self-destruct on landing.. also, who would train the bears.. Russians are good at training bears, but they, like Alexander the Great and others since, no longer want to have anything to do with Afghanistan.

12. Lunch?: Can this be true? As a guy was sitting in his car, he felt the car shake violently. Upon investigation, he found a bulldog consuming one of his tires. After being unsuccessful in stopping the dog, he gave up and watched as the dog consumed another of his tires and also half of one bumper. Finally, I guess someone shot the dog. I'm not sure of this and I need to investigate.. it sounds fascinating. Was the car a formerly accelerating Toyota? A recalled Honda? Was this really a stunt dog for a movie filming? Was this a CIA training session for an Afghanistan military secret weapon, like the parachuting bear? Perhaps that is what happens when the bear lands on the ground, it seeks out Taliban or Al Quida vehicles and like the bulldog, tears them to bits. ???


Saturday, March 13, 2010

Weekly Dozen @ March 12, 2010

Old and new stuff.

01. 2010: I-PHONE Love: A study has found that many people are addicted to their I-PHONES. In fact, they found that many people even sleep with them under their pillows. (Well, you don't want to miss an important call.)

02. 1950: Cremation: A man in Wellington, New Zealand, specified in his will that his body be cremated and the ashes put to work in an hour glass. (Good idea.. he will be serving a purpose even though he is not breathing anymore.)

03. 2010: 3-D: A newspaper in Belgium has put out a newspaper edition in 3D. They even supply the glasses. (The news just jumps out at you.)

04. 1950: Gun Control: Police in Chicago melt down the weapons seized from gangsters and makes them into medals to give to brave crime-fighters. (It's probably more lucrative these days to sell them back to the crooks or export them to formerly peaceful countries.)

05. 2010: Netflix spin-off? A new company has been formed to mail fresh underwear to guys each month. (Do you have to send them back after you have used them for one week? In the 1950's, guys did not wear underwear.)

06. 1950: Teeth: I've seen George Washington's wooden (ivory actually) teeth and a guy in 1950 made a set of false teeth for himself out of pieces of scrap aluminum. (During the 1950's I worked for a time in an aluminum chair factory.. I wasn't very good at the job and lots of my chairs got dumped into a molten aluminum bath to be reformed. Perhaps they could have used my rejects to make sturdy false teeth.)

07. 2010: Drunks Crossing: In some part or Rumania, signs have been put up to warn drivers about drunks who may be staggering across the street. (Deer Crossing signs in the US show a leaping buck.. what is the symbol for the Rumanian drunk?)

08: 1950: Divorce: A man in Milwaukee who lost his wife in a divorce suit, asked the judge to at least award the family dog to him. (Sounds reasonable to me. After all, "a man's best friend is his dog.. but a 5 cent cigar is a smoke.." or something like that.. probably some wisdom from H.L. Mencken that I can't figure out.)

Incidentally, a chiropractor met with our NARFE group yesterday. I mentioned H.L. Mencken's 1927 article in the Baltimore Sun about chiropractic. It didn't seem to bother him at all.. he did say that if you look up "curmudgeon" in the dictionary, you will see a picture of Mencken.

09: 2010: Diet: The French have developed the "air diet".. yes, it's like "air guitar" etc.. Like Marcel Marceau, you pretend you are eating. You make the motions with the empty glasses and plates but no food enters your gullet. This is guaranteed to help you lose weight.

A diet poem I like is:

My soul is dark with stormy riot,
Directly traceable to diet.

Dieting is not easy and no fun. Here are some tips that I have found helpful:

a. Count every calorie that you consume.
b. Put exercise time on your schedule every day.
c. Drink green tea or water before meals.
d. Chew every bite 20 times (or more).

Personally, I don't always observe these tips.. although every calorie I have had since New Year's Day has been recorded. Have I lost weight? I won't know until I go for my next check-up in April.

10. 1950: RIP?: A man in Petersburg, Virginia purchased 2,180 tombstones discarded from a cemetery and built a house with them. (Question: Why were they discarded? Is that the fate of all tombstones? At the Cushing Cemetery in Mattapoisett, Massachusetts, there are headstones and footstones going back to 1810, if not earlier. One would expect these tombstones to be cared for until the sun burns the earth all up, or until cloning gets so good that we will all be recreated, and people live forever so that such stones are no longer of any use.)

11. 2010: Belly dancers: A group of 11 belly dancing teachers and students will be performing for the local AARP Chapter next month. They call themselves Anerneic Magic. I am unable to find the word in any of my dictionaries. (Kind of similar:

aneroid: containing no liquid (maybe they don't drink before performing)
anerly: merely .. Scotch dialect.
an: no with ern/erne: sea eagle (crossword puzzle word) .. (Maybe "no sea eagles" ? After all, these are belly dancers, not birds)

I am alerting the emergency people to stand by for a 911 call if the dancers turn up the heat too much for us old timey dudes. I'll let you know what happened, if I survive. You may know the story of my belly dancer who caused the Social Security Administration to outlaw such folks from entering the premises.. I don't think that will happen at the Elks Lodge in Westminster.

12. 2010: Funny phrases: Elaine mentioned a phrase yesterday in connection with a guy who tried to kill his wife with a hammer. She said: "His ass is grass." and was surprised to learn that I had never heard the phrase before.

Recently, she was amused when I refered to someone I liked as "a hot ticket."

I was surprised to find the phrase "moseying around" in a book about the Civil War.

In my library, I have a book that gives the derivation and usage of slang phrases.. I should try to find it and educate myself.. there are probably lots of swear words that I could be using, but don't know about yet. And you probably know that I have a book with French swear words and I have been trying to use those instead of the common ones in United States usage that bore me... I was, however, surprised to learn that my beautiful daughter in law already knew some of those French swear words. Tsk Tsk!

My late wife was French Canadian and her family spoke lots of French... however, when they swore, it was American words that they used.

I am going to say something that you probably will not believe.. my late wife of 43 years and I never swore in front of our kids.. and only swore on rare ocassions in each other's presence.. like when hitting a thumb with a hammer.. or when dropping something gooey all over the mail.. but you know that it is the S word that is commonly used on that occasion.

Basta! (no that is not a swear word.. it just means that that is enough of this nonsense!)

Friday, March 05, 2010

Weekly Dozen @ March 5, 2010

Some of these items come from me, some from newspapers, and some from The Week magazine, a wonderful sheet that hits all sides of a story.

01. Famous Book Sale. The well-known Smith College in Massachusetts has an active alumni group in Maryland. They put on an annual book sale that is a book-lover's dream. I first discovered the sale while I was waiting for my first daughter to be born at a Baltimore hospital. (I won't tell you how many years ago that was because maybe my daughter doesn't want you to know how old she is.)

Over the years, I purchased thousands of books for my collection, mainly at their sales. (They sell gently-used books on any and all subjects.) When we made plans to move to our current location, I realized that I could not take all of these books with me, so I boxed them up, knowing that I could always donate them to the current year's sale. However, when the time came, I was told that they already had so many books to sell, they had no place to put my 118 boxes of books. (I have already written how I finally got rid of the books, so, if you want to know, call me up or search my blogs for Salvation Army.)

Anyway, this year's sale is the 52nd annual sale. It will take place on April 9-11 at the exhibition hall of the Maryland State Fairgrounds in Timonium, MD. Apparently that is the only site big enough to hold all of the books. I guarantee that if you go, you will get hooked, and start to amass your own gigantic library of great books. (... at cheap prices)

02. Intelligent Billing: Elaine got a bill today from a well-known company. It was a bill for $0.00 ! A nasty note was attached, saying, in effect, "If we do not receive your payment by March 31st, you will be required to pay a $0.00 late fee!"

03. Tricky Timing: The usually completely accurate magazine I mentioned above, gave the following information: "2010 is the year of Mark Twain, ... it marks the 100th anniversary of the American author's birth, and the 125th of the publication of the Adventures of Huckleberry Finn..." He sure was a darn good writer to get stuff published even before he was born.

03 1/2. Telephone Help Desk: At today's AARP meeting, I was able to give my stand-up routine about a telephone call I made a while ago.

I called the 800 # for a well-known Internet provider. I had a problem and was not able to access the web. The call went something like this:

"Allo, wat is your name?"
"Joseph Vaughan"
"Allo, Yosef, wat is your broblem?"
"I cannot access the Internet."
"Yosef, do you ave dial-up or dsl?"
"I have cable."
"Yosef, wat is gable? I do not understand gable."
"May I speak to your supervisor?"
"May I help you?"
"Yes, I cannot access the internet."
"Wat is your name, sir?"
"Joseph Vaughan."
"OK, Yosef, do you ave dial-up or dsl?"
"I have cable."
"Yosef, wat is gable? I don't know wat is gable."
"It's an electric line running into my house, like a telephone line."
"OK, Yosef, I will look that up. Where do you live?"
"I live in the U.S. In Maryland."
"I don't know wat is merrylend."
"Maryland is a State in the U.S."
"I'm sorry, Yosef, but I ave no record of merrylend."
"Do you have Massachusetts?"
"Yes, I see that, but no merrylend."
"Oh.. to hell with it! Goodbye!"

After explaining my frustrating experience to a County administrator, I was given a local number for the company involved. I called the number and a guy said: "Hey, how ya doin? What can I do for you?"

I told him my problem, he went away for one minute, came back and said, "is it ok now?" I checked, and it was. Total time for call and fix.. about two minutes.

04. Traffic cameras: We've talked before about speed cameras and red-light cameras.. now we have "rolling right turn" cameras. In Los Angeles, there now is a fine of over $400 for doing a rolling right turn. This must be a real money-maker, because it's hard for me to believe that the word has gotten out that you must make a full stop before making a right turn on a red light.

05. Air Traffic Controllers: They are getting younger and younger. Check out the youngster who gave instructions to several planes recently at the JFK Airport.(I know that President Reagan fired a lot of controllers years ago, but I didn't know that the Government had dropped the age requirement so they could hire more of them.)

06. Oink:Oink - This is the tenth anniversary of the successful cloning of a pig. (Name of Deli?)

07. IQ: An Israeli study has found that the lower a person's IQ is, the more likely that person is a heavy smoker. (Us former-smoker now-smart guys knew that already.)

08. Brushes: A lady named Dawn Stephens has invented an all-in-one toilet-bowl-cleaning brush. (My grandfather, Arthur Stephens Vaughan, in 1900, invented the all-in-one shoe brush, consisting of a "polish dauber" on the end of a handled "polishing brush.") If I could figure out how to put pictures on this blog, I would show what his prototype looks like today. I have it on display in my den.

09. Cursing: Nepal has an annual "cursing festival". One of the curses I like best is: "May your buffaloes all die of diarrhea!"

10. Fusion? Bloom Energy says they have developed a fuel cell that can generate energy without going through the process of combustion. More power to them!

11. Crabby? Marylanders love their crabs, but sometimes they get careless about getting them. Recently, Maryland environmental police found and pulled up over 1,500 abandoned or lost crab pots from inlets to the Chesapeake Bay. These pots endanger fish and crabs. I wonder what they did with any crabs (or their skeletons) found in these pots.

12. Exercise? I read that there is an aerobic exercise called "spinning"... please don't tell me what that is, I want to conjure up an image of this exercise... in my mind's eye.. just as I did years ago listening to the radio and visualizing the scene being described. Visualization is a great exercise for the brain.

... enough!