Friday, January 21, 2011

More on LOVE

In my last blog entry, I mentioned that I had found a tape of some of Leo Buscaglia's lectures. (I had spelled his name wrong as Buscalia.. sorry) Since Leo was concerned so strongly with LOVE, I thought that I might write some more on the subject. Especially now, when all of the stores are beginning to display Valentine's Day gear.

Just as the word "HON" is now connected with the Hamden area of Baltimore, the word "LOVE!" has been long associated with Felice Leo Buscaglia.. in fact, when he wrote his book LOVE!, his publisher found that there was no other book before that time that had that title.

Leo said that all people need three things:




He asked: "Why is it so hard to say 'I love you?'"

During the time when Leo was giving his famous lectures, my family followed them and my wife and I taught our kids to say those words whenever they meant them. Luckily, they meant them a lot when we spoke to the members of our family.. "Te amo! a la familia!" as they said in the wonderful movie: Moonstruck.

However, even though I thought I was half-Italian at the time, we said our love words in English. Today, I'm so happy to say, my kids still say: "I love you, Dad!" or "I love you, Pop!" to me when we talk... and my grandkids (and their friends and families) say: "I love you, Prepop!" to me whenever we communicate.

Leo also suggested doing these things each and every day:

1. Do or say something nice to someone else.

Small example: The other day I happened to be in a high-rise continuing care facility, where the people did not look as happy as I would have expected, living at friendly Carroll Lutheran Village as I do.

A very old looking man was hobbling down the hall on his cane, bent over, with his head down. I noticed that he had a T-shirt on with the words: "Are You My Type?" on the front. When he passed, I read the words on the back: "Become a Red Cross Blood Donor." This made me smile and I told the guy that I really liked his shirt. He immediately perked up and smiled too.

We talked a bit and little by little it seemed that he was getting taller and in better spirits. All this guy needed to feel better was a little attention and respect. I felt better too, talking to him.

If you think something is nice about a person.. say it to them! Make their day! And your's too!

2. Do something nice for yourself. (you deserve it!)

3. Do something you've been putting off.

4. Challenge your brain. (use it or lose it)

5. Before you go to sleep, think about something you are thankful for. (at least, you didn't find your name in the obituary columns today!)

Leo also said:

If you have a negative thought.. crush it!

If you have a positive thought.. express it!

If you want to read more about the subject of LOVE! check out Leo's books or a nice little book entitled A Thousand Paths to Love by David Baird; all very inexpensive on Amazon.

End of lecture, and thanks for listening. Just remember what Bette Midler once said:

"L'amour, l'amour.. really, that's all there is!"


Monday, January 17, 2011


This is the 40th anniversary of my membership in the National Puzzlers League and also in the American Cryptogram Association. Over these four decades, I have increased my knowledge of many types of puzzles and ciphers. However, I still am nowhere being the expert I expected to be when I joined these organizations in 1971. I still have a lot to learn.

Although I am still a word novice, let me discuss a few "word" subjects with you.

01. New Words: AARP has listed words that were new in 2010. Here are a few:

bargainous = costing less than expected

bromance = close platonic male friendship

lovacore = one who primarily eats locally grown food

matchy-matchy = excessively color coordinated

webisode = episode or short film made for viewing online

staycation = vacation spent at home

turducken = roast of a chicken inside a duck, inside a turkey

own = to utterly defeat or humiliate

cheeseball = lacking taste or style

chillax = to calm down and relax

02. Metaphors.. from Raymond Chandler, via Harpers.

As cute as a washtub.

As much sex appeal as a turtle.

As clean as an angel's neck.

A face like a collapsed lung.

A mouth like a wilted lettuce.

A nose like a straphanger's elbow.

03: Words in common:

See if you can figure out what these words (from Jack Kolb) have in common:


Give up? Check the answer at the end below.

04. Euphemisms.. from George Carlin.

toilet paper.. becomes bathroom tissue
loafers.. become slip-ons
toupees.. become hair appliances or hair replacement systems
false teeth.. become dental appliances
dashboards.. become instrument panels
dump.. becomes landfill
buckteeth.. becomes overbite
hair spray.. becomes holding mist
constipation.. becomes occasional irregularity
diarrhea.. becomes lower gastric distress

George Carlin showed us hundreds of euphemisms for everyday things.. he was a master with the English language.

05. Puzzledom: In the world of puzzles, I am called AHAB and my brother Joe is called ISHMAEL. (Check out Moby Dick by Herman Melville.) Ishmael is a much better puzzler than Ahab. I have puzzles from him that I haven't solved in over twenty years. I'm still trying.

06. Life lesson words: When my son, Chris, was young, I gave him a phrase to think about. "In the land of the blind, the one-eyed man is king." I wanted him to realize that if he studied hard and /learned more than the "other guys" he would definitely succeed in life.

I was pleasantly surprized a year later when my son presented me with a desk plaque that read:
"Joe Vaughan, One-Eyed King" I cherished this plaque for many years at the Social Security Administration, and it was a constant source of discussion by visitors to my office.

George Carlin has a euphemism for this phrase also: "In the kingdom of the visually impaired, the partially-sighted person is fully empowered." Doesn't have the same zing, does it?

07. The Rev and his words: In my last blog, I mentioned that I would like to be able to see programs from the 1980's involving Reverend Ike... I said that I did not know how to find such shows. Well, I should have guessed, my brother, Joe told me how to get to see them. I can't wait.

08. LOVE words! I started to review a vhs tape from 1986 that had the title Buscalia on the label. It is a tape of Channel 67 (Maryland Public Television) showing Felice Leo Buscalia interacting with an audience of admirers at Towson State University (Maryland). Mr. Buscalia was the acknowledged expert on the subject of love.. he loved to be hugged and hugged anybody he could get his hands on.

He had lots of stories to illustrate LOVE. In one of them, he talked about an old philosopher he once met. He asked the philosopher about the difference between heaven and hell. The old man gave the following definitions:

In hell, there are beautiful tables filled with wonderful food and delicious desserts. But.. all of the people are starving to death. Why? Because they are required to use 4-foot long forks to eat with.. and the forks are too long to allow them to get food to their mouths.

But.. In heaven, there are also beautiful tables filled with wonderful food and delicious desserts. And.. all of the people are happy and healthy. Why? Because although they also are required to use 4-foot long forks to eat with... they know that they can eat very well by feeding each other. (A loving response.)

09. Huh? Harper's magazine makes this statement in its Findings listing: "Particle physicists were optimistic about the possiblity of creating something out of nothing, because nothing is actually something.""

10. Last Words: The Week Magazine reports that Ohio has imposed a time limit on the last words of condemned prisoners. This came about because one murderer apologized and recited the "Hail Mary" for 17 minutes before his execution.

11. Canadian Words: Canadians are squeemish about killing Canada geese because of their name. Most people think that the Canadian Goose (actually "cackling goose") is their national bird. Each of these birds deposits two pounds of poop per day. Think about that.

Hundreds of Canadian geese have taken up residence at the Social Security Administration in Woodlawn, Maryland and it is difficult to walk on the sidwalks without stepping in goose poop. Every day, water is sprayed on the sidewalks to clear them off; however, as far as I can see, it isn't that effective.

12. Words of Wisdom about Education: (as reported by Jon Winokur in Funny Times)

"If the Romans had been obliged to learn Latin, they never would have found time to conquer the world." Heinrich Heine

"I respect faith, but doubt is what gets you an education." Wilson Mizner

"I read Shakespeare and the Bible, and I can shoot dice. That's what I call a liberal eduction." Tallulah Bankhead

"It is only when we forget all our learning that we begin to know." Henry David Thoreau

Answer to #03 above: For all of the words shown, take the first letter, put it at the end of the word, and then spell the word backwards. It will be the same word that you started with!

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

It's cold and snowy outside!

Hi.. meet SuZee, our Siamese cat. SuZee was found in a barn, the survivor of an attack by some kind of "varmint". She spent the weeks that she should have been with her mama, living with two dogs who let her have some food if there was any left in their bowls after they had theirs, and who apparently terrorized her. But, she was able to hold her own in some scuffles and even pushed one of the dogs out of his bed and slept there in relative safety.

We were given SuZee as a free gift and she has been a joy to us for almost two years. I especially like that she hasn't realized the range of noises that she could create. Now, she has only a small "meow" and a few other soft sounds. Elaine has tried to teach her the "AARP AARP" song that she used to sing with her former Siamese cat named BufFee. No success yet.. thank heavens!

SuZee does make a unique sound whenever she see a bird perched on the topmost part of the neighbors' roof. I wonder if this is an in-bred mannerism developed over the years in Siam when these cats were guardians of the temples. Yes.. she is warning us that something is desecrating the temple next door.

OK.. time for another dozen observations.

01. Graduation: My beautiful granddaughter, Bridget, graduated from Towson University last week. She is the first grandchild to get a Bachelor of Arts degree. I hope that her success will motivate my other grandchildren to continue their educations.

02. Red heads. Bridget has beautiful red hair. So does AnnE in the movie, Anne of Green Gables. Elaine and I watched this 3 1/4 hour flick last night. It was filmed in beautiful Prince Edward Isle, Canada, and is a monumental tear-jerker. (I defy you to watch it without blubbering!)

I visited PEI a number of years ago and feasted on some of the most delicious seafood I have ever had (outside of New Bedford, of course).. I understand a bridge has finally been built to get to the island. When I went, I spent five hours waiting my turn to get on the ferry. But PEI certainly was worth it, despite the fact that they monopolized on the fame of the book.

Folks.. forget about a European trip. Visit Canada. There is so much to see there.. and you can do it in your own automobile.

03. Where's the Rev? For some time now, I have been trying to find tapes of the shows of Reverend Ike, my favorite preacher. You remember his motto: "I've got what it takes, to take what you've got." One of the few preachers that I have met who were not hypocrites. If anybody knows how to find such tapes, please let me know. I gave away all my BetaMax tapes and I had some of his shows taped on them.. I wish I had kept them.

04. Deep thought: Stephen Hawking says that God did not create the universe. He says that the Big Bang was inevitable and didn't need any help.

05. Thieves in high places: In Greenbelt, Maryland, a Federal employee was found guilty of obtaining over $600,000 in erroneous disability benefits. Also in Maryland, an official at the Maryland Legal Aid Bureau stole over a million dollars from court orders.

Now, if that is almost two million dollars being stolen just in a small area of Maryland, there probably are other thefts going on throughout the U.S. by people in positions of trust. (Of course, if there were no scumbags, thieves and scammers at work, who would be able to afford those multi-million dollar homes that are advertised? Oh, that's right, I forgot about the lawyers.)

06. Grades? Letter grades are now being given to automobiles, based on fuel economy and tailpipe emissions. .. I have been buying groceries and prescriptions at the Giant grocery store in Westminster, Maryland, for several years, and now they have a program where a percentage of money savings is given for Shell gasoline, based on the amount of money spent in that store. Recently, I have had 30 cents a gallon taken off one of my gas fill-ups and 40 cents a gallon taken off another one. I think its a good deal. I wonder why other stores are not copying the program?

Hey.. I remember when gasoline cost 16 cents a gallon. At that time, I had a 1935 Chevrolet with bald tires and broken wheel bearings. I could fill up for $2, whenever I could spare that much money, which wasn't too often. Luckily, I could coast downhill the mile from my house to the high school. (Coming home was the problem.)

Also, my future spouse lived three miles away and by a judicious usage of coasting and light gas usage, I could use very little gas to get to her house and back.

07. Calendars: Many people are are concerned that the world will end in 2012. They base this on some old predictions which failed to take into consideration calendar changes.

I read somewhere that there was a calendar change in the year 1750. The day after September 2nd became September 14th. Crowds of people rioted, demanding: "Give us back our 11 days!" I can't find a reference to this, but if you are interested in calendar changing, please check out:

08. Prayer heals all? A French priest, mad because of the expulsion of gypsies, said: "I pray, I beg your pardon, that Mr. Sarkozy has a heart attack."

Another person who wasn't happy about the expulsion was EU Justice Commissioner Vivviane Reding who called it "a disgrace" as well as something she "thought that Europe would not have to witness again after the second World War."

09. Poor Ming: My Snapple diet drink bottle cap says: "The oldest living animal ever found was a 405 year old clam named 'Ming.'" After all those years, he was dug up, and died during the assessment of his age!

(Hey.. look it up in Wikipedia if you think I'm kidding you.)

10. Marriage of convenience? A marriage announcement in a June 2010 edition of the Carroll County Times reads: (married) Carroll County Department of Social Services and Michael E. Francis, of Hanover, Pa., June 15.)

11. Crooked banks? A recent Harper's Index says that the number of Wall Street banks so far which have been tried on criminal charges related to the financial crisis is 2. It also says that the number of banks which have been acquited is also 2.

12. Honoring our veterans? Harper's Index also says that an estimated 2,266 U.S. veterans under the age of 65 died in 2008 because they lacked health insurnace.

So that I won't leave you completely depressed.. let me tell you the words on a birthday card I received from my late friend, Bob Whisenand: "If you think I sent you this card just because it's your birthday... you're wrong! ... it's also out of respect for the elderly!"


Saturday, January 01, 2011

Happy New Year! 2011! Gasp!

I'm quite pleased with myself. Elaine and I pigged out on pizza and shrimp while we watched the ball drop at Times Square. In spite of that, I only went 173 calories over my daily allotment.
I'm trying to lose 30 pounds and I am using an online program to monitor what I eat and how much exercise I use. So far, I have found it very easy to use and it has a lot of features that I like. If you are interested, take a look at:
Based on my diet program, I will reach my goal on July 11, 2011. Hopefully, I am motivated enough to avoid my version of the famous Allen Curve, which I call the Alden Curve, named after a famous Pilgrim relative of mine.
(This Alden Curve works well to show how Gyms make their money ... because most people never follow through with their gym visits.. it also works especially well with diet plans. For instance, when you start, a daily motivation graph line leans upward from zero for about a month. At the end of the month, when it dawns on you that you don't want to diet quite as much, your daily motivation graph line starts to work its way back down to the zero point. When you finally quit your diet, a median line drawn across the graph creates an A. This is the Alden Curve.)
Now, to talk about other stuff.
01. Arachnid Statistic? Somebody has reported that 20% of people engaging in sexual activity, maintain an open contact with the Web at the same time. (How did they get that statistic?)
02. Car Talk: If you visit the Car Talk website, you can see all of the famous staff names that you have heard mentioned over the lifetime of the radio show. Here are a dozen of those names that I thought were interesting:
Ulanda U. Lucky - Air Traffic Controller
Turner Luce - Animal Control Officer
Dot Matrix - Director of Computer Services
Collette O'Day - Clock Watcher
Phyllis Steen - Art Critic
Dot Snice - Art Critic II
Hugh Jass - Clothing Designer
Ed Amame - Bean Counter
Bud Uronner - Appeals Specialist
Hugo First - Bunji Jumper Instructor
Orson Buggy - Assistant Transportation Coordinator
Eureka Garlic - Breathalyzer Administrator
See them all at
03. Litigation. Wait, Wait, Don't Tell Me reports that the mayor of Batman, Turkey is suing the makers of the Batman movie because they have not paid royalties for using the town name.
04. Fishy: Connecticut now has a State fish: the shad. (I wonder what ever happened to an SSA worker named Fred Shad?) Is Massachusetts State fish the scrod? (Check out the words to that famous song: Crabs for Christmas.. my favorite song of the season.)
05. Pay Scale: I may have mentioned this before. Mayor Bloomberg of New York City gets a yearly salary of just $1. However, he only gets 93 cents because 7 cents gets deducted for Social Security.
06. Conspiracy Theory: Carroll County Times (Maryland) columnist Tom Zirpoli says that one of the candidates for Governor of Colorado wants to end the city-wide bicycle rental program in Denver because it is a first step in bringing the US under UN control.
07. Necessity: While the Carnival Cruise Line's Splendor was stranded off of Mexico. The U. S. Navy airlifted a supply of Spam so that the strandees could have some protein.
For those of you young folks who have only heard of one kind of spam, check out this site:
08. Ailurophiles vs. caninophiles: Fellow Mensan, Richard Lederer, writes:
"Cats are smarter than dogs. (This must be true. Tests conducted by the University of Michigan concluded that while a dog's memory lasts no more than five minutes, a cat's can last as long as sixteen hours, exceeding even that of monkeys and orangutans. And you never see eight cats pulling a sled.)"
"Dogs drool; cats rule."
"If you command your dog to 'Come here', he runs right over with a 'Yes, what can I do for you?' The cat's response is, 'Put it in writing, and I'll get back to you later.' This is why dogs have masters, and cats have staff."
09. True adventure: A new biography by Geoffrey Wolff called: The Hard Way Around outlines the life of Joshua Slocum. Joshua was a young ship's captain who had many adventures, such as violent storms and mutinies even before he left Fairhaven, Massachusetts in 1898, and sailed alone around the world for three years. (Fairhaven is across the Acushnet River from New Bedford (my hometown) and there is a little park with a monument to his voyage next to the river and right near a wonderful Bed and Breakfast, which commands a marvelous view of the New Bedford harbor right out of the bedroom windows.)
10. Reward for speeding: A Massachusetts woman was arrested for throwing a bag of dog poop at a speeding car. It went through his open window and hit him in the face. She has been charged with assault.
I may have mentioned this before, but when I was about ten years old, a nasty guy working at cleaning up a yard, flipped dog poop at me as I rode by on my bicycle. This gave him a marvelous laugh. (I wonder if he was still laughing as he surveyed the flat tires on his truck.)
11. Hard to believe, but true: Google has logged almost 1,000 miles on their self-driving Toyota Priuses in California. Robot cars don't drive drunk, distracted or sleepy. (What happens when a State Trooper tries to pull them over for an equipment violation?)
12. Religious knowledge: According to Tom Harbold in the Carroll County (Maryland) Times.. The Pew Forum on religion and public life conducted a quiz of 32 questions given to a random sampling of over 3,000 people. The persons getting the highest number of questions right were Atheists, Agnostics, Jews and Mormons.
Have a great time in 2011!