Monday, December 29, 2014

Benghazi; Bible; 911; Auto Racing; Mama's Lessons; Blood Pressure; Caller ID; Auschwitz; Potbellies; Beer; Breadsticks; Tatoos; Sneezing

40 degrees.. Winter weather.. only 12 more weeks until warmer times!

"Pro captu lectoris habent sua fata libelli."

("The fate of books depends on the capacity of the reader."  Terentianus Maurus ad 200

..or "buy a Kindle!"

Let's see if I can fill up an hour with cogent observation:

01.  Benghazi again.

The Week says that a Republican-lead congressional panel quietly exonerated the White House of any wrongdoing related to the Benghazi attack.  Whoever, House Speaker, John Boehner is planning to reappoint another House committee to reconvene a new investigation.  I wonder what it takes to get the Republicans to stop making fools of themselves in this regard?

02.  The Bible Tells Me So...

Texas once again:  New State approved textbooks say that the U.S. Constitution was based on the Bible.  Thomas Jefferson would say that you are "crazy as hell" if you think that is the case.  Old Tom even wrote his own version of the Bible to make Jesus' life more believable.

03.  Follow the rules, neighbor!

When a Florida man tried to get a neighbor to help him put out a small fire in his house, the neighbor told him to "get lost" and call 911.  By the time the firefighters got there, the small house fire had progressed enough to destroy the whole house.  By the way, his neighbor was an off-duty fireman.

04.  The Lord will protect me.

Televangelist Pat Robertson likes to push his automobile to 100 mph.  God must be his co-pilot.

05.  Things my mother taught me:

This is from the Funny Times for January 2015, and was written by M.D.Rosenberg:

My mother taught me foresight:

"Make sure you wear clean underwear, in case you're in an accident."

My mother taught me about anticipation:

"Just wait until  your father comes home!"

My mother taught me about justice:

"Someday you'll have kids, and I hope they turn out just like you.!"

06.  High Blood Pressure

Harvard Medical School says that there is some disagreement over the best target blood pressure in older people taking pressure-powering medications.  Recommendations:

Adults age 60 and over with high blood pressure: aim for 150/90

Adults age 30 to 59 with high blood pressure: aim for 140/90

Adults with diabetes or chronic kidney disease: aim for 140/90

07.  Caller ID

In October 2014, AARP told us not to trust "Caller ID", because it can be manipulated to display whatever name or phone number that the scammer chooses.   Why didn't I know this?

Some of the calls I receive show the following in my "caller ID".       "Joe Vaughan"  (hey, that's me!"  How the devil did they do that, because I definitely did not call myself?)

How about the following on my caller ID..  "000000000"   ?

Also.. "Unknown", or a State name, or such?

08.  Harper's Index

From Harper's Magazine, by way of the Funny News in January 2015:

a. In December 2014, a 93 year old former guard at Auschwitz was charged with 300,000 counts of accessory to murder.

b. Potbellies on Americans has increased 17% since 2000.

c. None of the top ten best-selling beers in the United States  are owned by us.

d. Olive Garden serves breadsticks to customers, but not all are eaten, and this results in a loss of five million dollars a year for that restaurant.

09.  Tatoo

The Southern Poverty Law Center Intelligence Report, Winter 2014 reports that Joseph David Burgoyne, aged 28, has the slogan "CWB" (Crazy White Boy) tattooed on his neck. CWB is a reference to a white supremacist street gang.

10.  Response

Kendra Turner, 18, said "Bless You" when another student sneezed.. and got suspended for using "Godly language" in class.

................Enough for now.....................................

Monday, December 22, 2014

Carroll County Maryland Politics; Net Neutrality; Manson; Barbosa

Cold... well it is now Winter, for crying out loud!

No time for a poem or quote.. I have just 45 minutes to plug some stuff into this blog entry.

01.  Republican Activity in Maryland

Flushed with victory, incoming Republican Governor Larry Hogan has appointed Carroll County's Republican Senator, Joe Getty, to serve as Senate Minority Leader and Legislative Expert.  Now there will have to be a pick by the Republicans of a smiling light to fill Getty's spot.

The Carroll County Times reminds us of a minor feud between Getty and Susan Krebs.  Everybody loves Lion Susan Krebs, but in my opinion, she seems like a "party hack" who  serves as a Charlie McCarthy to whoever is the current Republican Edgar Bergen. (In another blog entry, I will outline her plans to derail anything that the Democrats or moderate Republicans hope to accomplish, now, or in the future.  Since she says things exactly like every other member of the Carroll County Republican Club, I predict a distinctly negative outlook to her service in Maryland's legislative body next year.)

02.  Mitch hits another homerun!

In another article in the Carroll County Times, Mitch Edelmann gave us the "straight poop" on "net neutrality".. I wish that I had reached him earlier to be the Social Security Alumni Association's voice.  He certainly has a gift.

03. Love comes to a killer

Charles Manson is now 80 years old and has been allowed to get married while serving his life sentence in a California State Prison.

04.  Another Killer revisited.

I've written before about my run-in with Joe Barboza, New Bedford's own mob hitman.  Remember?  He ratted on his confidents in the New England Mafia and was targeted to get "hit".. However, they didn't succeed until 1976 or so.  I am really surprised that Joe was able to be in this world from 1932 through the 1970's... almost 40 years of brutality and killing.  He probably gets the prize for being one of the world's longest living sociopath.. if not the meanest.

In the 1940's, I visited two  of my friends in their New Bedford house, as I was wont to do quite often, perhaps twice a week.  I just walked in and climbed the three stories to my friends' attic room, and walked right in, as I had done hundreds of times before.  However, this time, in the middle of the room stood a short, fat, mean-looking guy who greeted me with a glare.  He asked who I was, and my friends said I was their friend, who had helped them to become healthy muscular specimens, by wrestling with them and showing them how to exercise with weights.

What was this guy's response?  He didn't talk to them; he turned to me and said: "get lost!"  In other words, he took an instant dislike to me.  And me to him, but I could sense an animal instinct in him, so I decided to leave.. and since my "former friends" did not stop me from leaving, I immediately wrote them out of my life.  And I am really glad that I did.

In a related Kindle book that I am reading, I've learned that in my "friends'" room, they were planning burglaries.  Apparently, these burglaries continued until 1949, when the police arrested Joe Barboza and sent him to prison, for one of his many incarcerations.  I believe that my "friends'" parents recognized the situation early in their relationship with Joe and shipped them off to San Francisco and a new life before they could get too involved with Joe.

It is hard for me to understand a person like Joe Barboza.. a human being with no regard for the life of another human.  Thank God that he didn't like me.  My slightly bad life turned around for me in that confrontation, and I did "turn over a new leaf", so to speak.

Well, I've rattled about for 45 minutes and I have to go get supper ready for Elaine.  See ya!


Sunday, December 14, 2014

Wedding of Bridget Vaughan and Erik Fetzer

50 ish today.. 40 ish yesterday

"May your life be long and happy,
And your cares and  worries few;
May the many friends around you
Prove faithful, fond and true.
And may your life-long voyage
   Be as happy and as free
As the dancing waves on the deep blue sea!"

My update of a Massachusetts whaler's toast to the married couple, Bridget and Erik.

Yesterday was a remarkable day!  It was Bridget and Erik's wedding at the Cloisters, a castle in the woods. Let me give you a "blow by blow" of the day's events.

But first, for the benefit of future genealogists, let me mention the other folks that were there from the Bride's side of the invited guests:

Chris and Kathleen Vaughan (Father and Step Mother of the Bride)
Kaitlin and Bjorn May (Sister and brother in law of the Bride.)
Kathleen's mother and her date (name?)
Elizabeth and Will Murphy (Aunt and Uncle of the Bride)
Diane and John Cole (Aunt and Uncle of the Bride)

 (segue: check out JohnnyCole on YouTube.. also John and his son, Jackson, have a gig coming    up.. John on his guitar and Jackson on drum and piano... don't miss it!)

Joe Vaughan and Elaine Lottes (grandfather of the bride and his partner)
Dylan and Jackson Cole (Cousins of the Bride)
Sean Murphy and his date (name?)  (Cousin of the Bride)
Adrienne Burrell (Cousin of the Bride)
Heather Clark and her date (name?) (Cousin of the Bride)
Danielle Clark and her son, Cameron Coates (Cousin and 2nd cousin of the bride)
Emily Leffler Schulman and daughter, Lily. (Elaine Lottes' daughter and granddaughter)
Mat Leffler Schulman and son, Luka.  (Elaine Lottes' son in law and grandson.)
Kathleen and Reverend Scott Clagg (The Bride's mother and step father.)
Donna Tripp and Gil DeSantos.  (Joe Vaughan's sister from New Bedford and her boy-friend.)

I'm sure that I've forgotten some people.. sorry about that.. but I'm an old dude and that is to be expected.


My grandson, Dylan, lugged in the container with the wedding gifts from the car in the parking lot.. he didn't even huff or puff.. I had almost died getting it into the car earlier.  Dylan says that he lugs lots of heavier boxes everyday at his Home Depot job.  (Jackson supervised.)

Close relatives sat on the stage and the other guests were in the audience.  Interesting arrangement.

Bjorn accompanied Kathleen to the stage.
Mr. Fetzer accompanied his wife to the stage.
Somehow, Erik got to the stage.  (I don't think there was a best man.)

The preacher lady performed a beautiful ceremony, and vows were exchanged.  Lots of pictures.
The newly married couple kissed and were presented to the audience. (Handkerchiefs were wet.)

After an Open Bar and hors d'eouvres time (tasty meat balls and marvelous crab dip.. I congratulated  the guy who made the crab dip and he said the secret is the sweet crab claw meat.. I wished that I could have sat there all day pigging out on the dip), .. but speech time had begun.

Chris gave a tear-jerking father speech, followed by one by Erik's sister, who is so happy to now have a sister, Bridget, to take the place of the sister that Erik was supposed to be when he was born.  (Wet handkerchiefs continued.)

Next, it was my turn.. I started to talk about the picture of a beautiful red-head that her memere always had posted to the refrigerator.. and how, now, Bridget looked even more beautiful than that picture.. but I teared up (as I thought that perhaps her memere might just be watching from somewhere "above") and instead recited my New Bedford-type toast, followed by a question:

Now that Bridget and Erik have said their two word "I DO!" phrases, there is another two-word phrase that they need to be aware of, because the use of it can help keep their marriage peaceful for 80 or more years.   I asked the audience what that phrase was...  shouted back at me was:  "I'm sorry!", "Love You!", "Help me!", and some others.. but, I did not hear the phrase that I wanted to hear:  "Yes, Dear!"  (Elaine taught me that, and I am grateful to her for that.)

After speeches, we partook of a nice meal of steak, green beans, garlic potatoes, and Caesar salad.. plus something else that I didn't try.  (A very nice spread.. and the steak was raw, the way I like it.)

With our tummies full... the DJ began to entice folks to the dance floor.. lots of music.  I made a boo-boo by saying I thought the singer was Jim Croce... it was Elton John..  I shut up for the rest of the music.  Lots of dancing... I didn't know how good a dancer Dylan was.  Amazing!  Other very active dancers were my sister, Donna, Elizabeth and Diane... and all of the female Fetzer clan, including the little 3-year old charmer. 

Elaine and I were able to dance (kind of) a couple of times.. we'll have to work on that.  I was able to contribute to the Apron to dance with my granddaughter, Bridget.. but only for a very short time.. I am a very teary grandfather.

Elaine and I left after Erik and Bridget disappeared in a limo.  All in all.. a wonderful happy day.  One could not ask for a better one!


Tuesday, December 09, 2014

George Washington

Cold rainy days... get used to it, Joe.

"I had rather be right than be President."
Henry Clay (1777-1852)  To Senator Preston of South Carolina.. 1839.

I have much to talk about.. much has been happening to me since my last blog entry... however, I'm going to segue for a while.

I found a book at a yard sale for the astronomical price of 5 cents.  Facts and Fun about the Presidents by George Sullivan in 1987.   I want to extract a few facts from that book.  Most of them surprised me quite a bit.  I also want to mention a couple of President Washington's quotes.

01.  George Washington (President Number 1)  1789-1797

George's salary - $25,000. 

George was 6 feet 2 inches tall.

George was the first president whose likeness appeared on a U.S. postage stamp, which was issued in 1847.

Washington was inaugurated in New York for his first term; and Philadelphia for his second.

Washington was born in Virginia.

By the time he was 57 years old, he had lost all of his teeth. (Take a trip to Mount Vernon, where you can find out about George's dental problems, and view his false teeth.)

George's birthday:  February 22, 1732.

George  Washington did not attend college.

George Washington had no children. (However, at Mt Vernon, there is a statue of him and Martha with children... ??)

George liked to eat, and his favorite menus were:

     Cream of Peanut Soup;
     Mashed Sweet Potatoes with Coconut;
     String beans with Mushrooms;
     Martha Washington's whiskey cake.

George is found on the $1 bill; and his name graces a State called Washington and a city called Washington, DC.

Washington was a military leader, surveyor and farmer. He was also an excellent horseman.

George Washington bred hounds and treated them like members of his family.  Some male dogs' names: Drunkard, Tarter and Trueman.  Some female dogs' names: Duchess, True Love and Sweet Lips. 

George was known as the Father of His Country, the Sage of Mount Vernon, and the Surveyor President. 

Parson Weems, in 1800, quotes Washington to his father:  "Father, I cannot tell a lie, I did it with my little hatchet."

In his farewell address in 1796: "It is our true policy to steer clear of permanent alliances with any portion of the foreign world."

In Spark's Life of Washington (1839).. Rules of Civility and Decent Behaviour: "Labour to keep alive in your breast that little spark of celestial fire, called conscience."

Bonne Nuit, George.

Wednesday, December 03, 2014

Lamb and lambs; Kardashian; Speed Cameras; Money

Rainy am; sunny pm.  50ish. 

"Some cry up Haydn, some Mozart,
Just as the whim bites.  For my part,
I do not care a farthing candle
For either of them, or for Handel."

Charles Lamb: Letter to Mrs William Hazlitt (1830)

Poor Mr Lamb, he missed a lot.

01.  Speaking of lambs.. If God is all benevolence, why all the senseless cruelty to "lambs" of our world by the "lions" of our world?

William Buckland had it all figured out early in the 19th Century:  He considered that although the depredation of the "carnivorous races" would seem to be a challenge to the ideal of the lion cohabiting with the lamb, God, in His wisdom, decreed that carnivores would actually increase animal enjoyment and diminish pain, by causing a swift and relatively painless end to a lamb's life.  This would spare the victim the "ravages of decrepitude and senility".. and the possibility of running out of food and starving to painful death.  Thus, the lamb that is spared would be able to continue to cavort and graze with it's buddies.. (for a time) ..  while the lion, lounging, his tummy full, would offer a prayer of thanksgiving for God's bounty.

02.  Dress like Kim and suffer the consequences.

In Kenya, women who try to dress like Kim Kardashian and other Hollywood types, are being stripped in public and kicked in their genitals.  Apparently, women's rights are not important to some men in that country.

03.  Big Brother is watching you!

According to Chuck Shepherd (Funny Times) one speed camera in Brooklyn, New York recently earned the city $78,000 in just one day, from 1,551 tickets it generated.  (That's one every 20 seconds of an 8 hour day!)

.. and yes, some parking places in New York City are being rented for one million dollars a year!  I guess that is "chump change" to a person who can buy a 3 bedroom condo near Central Park for $22 million dollars.  Members of the WalMart family could afford to buy hundreds of those condos and not even make a dent in their ready cash funds. 


Saturday, November 29, 2014

Cold; Bees; New Bedford; Maine; Religion; Blood Pressure; UFO's; Transgender; Prison Escapes; Opinions about the Human Race

Hamlet: "The air bites shrewdly; it is very cold."
Horatio: "It is a nipping and an eager air."

Yes.. it looks like Summer/Autumn is over, so let's get used to it.

I have one hour to dispense fantastic information to the world; well, maybe just to the 2 or 3 folks who read these words.  (I wonder if those Japanese English students are still using my blog as an English lesson?)

01.  Bzzzzz!

I'm looking at a picture of Burt Shavitz, the co-founder of Burt's Bees.  The ad copy says: "Wise and wry, ornery and opinionated, the reclusive Shavits is committed to living off the land and keeping true to his humble beginnings, despite his celebrity status."

I see a lot in his picture: 

1.  He wears a New Bedford scallop shell belt buckle as I do, on occasion.

2.  He lives in a log house, similar to one that my long-lost brother helped his friend to build in Bucyrus, Ohio.

3.  He has a gray and white Robertson beard that needs trimming.

4.  Gigantic Maine pine trees surround his house.  (If you go to Maine, you will get the wonderful constant smell of pine trees in your nostrils. Marcel Proust would let you know that this smell will bring you memories of Maine for the rest of  your life.)

5.  He is wearing a New Bedford Whaling Museum cap.  It is arranged so the logo doesn't show, but we cognoscenti know that it is there, just above his hair line.

6.  His house is raised from the ground so that bears and other wild animals can't make it inside.

7.  He is seated on a caned Shaker chair made near Springfield, Massachusetts. 

8.  Harder to see, are the millions of Maine mosquitoes attacking every inch of his bare skin sticking out from under his red and white Maine shirt. (At the time of this picture, his famous bees have retired to their hive for a nice quiet sleep.)

02.  Freedom of religion?

Harper's Index says that 30 countries require their rulers to belong to a particular religion.

03.  Freedom of location?

Doctor Kushner says that if I don't start to lose weight, I'll have to apply for my own zip code.

04.  Lower your blood pressure?

The Harvard Heart Letter:  A new device called the Rheos system may lower blood pressure by as much as 35 points.  It works like a pacemaker.

05.  Encounter?

Mufon Journal:  Udo Wartena (1903-1989) said that he once encountered  an alien crew that landed in Montana.  He says he was invited onboard while they extracted a large quantity of water from a stream.  He says he was told that they live among us from time to time to monitor the "progression and retrogression) of earth society.  These folks could easily pass as humans.

06.  Catholic Viewpoints.

Catholic University Student, Jeffrey Peters, says that the recent job switch of conservative Cardinal Ramond Burke was not retaliation by Pope Francis for not agreeing with his supposed modified view of abortion and same sex marriage.  He says this "erroneous viewpoint" was dispensed by the "left-wing media."

In my opinion, based on my readings of Jeff's periodic writings, he will make an excellent conservative priest, but not a person with the ability to look past his own perceptions.  I wonder what he would say about the Transgender Day of Remembrance, to be observed by Cedarhurst Unitarian Universalists.

07.  Hello! Are you there?

When people complain about their telephone service, I would refer them to the recent call from the robotic probe, Philae.. which sent photos and data back to earth from a comet 300 million miles away!

08.  Get me 'outta here!

Harper's Index reports that 5 inmates in Quebec, Canada prisons have escaped by helicopter in the last 15 months. 

09.  Opinions on The Human Race.

Jon Winokur lists in the Funny Paper:

H.L. Mencken: "The capacity of human beings to bore one another seems to be vastly greater than that of any other animal."

Mark Twain:  "Such is the human race, often it seems a pity that Noah didn't miss the boat."

Anatole France: "The average man, who does not know what to  do with his life, wants another one which will last forever."


Wednesday, November 26, 2014

Swinburne; Thanksgiving; Macy's Parade; New Bedford's Parade; Height; Underwear; Language; Pick Pockets; Air

Snow: 3 inches.  Winter is here.

"From too much love of living,
From hope and fear set free,
We thank with brief thanksgiving
Whatever gods may be
That no man lives forever,
That dead men rise up never;
 That even the weariest river
Winds somewhere safe to sea."

The Garden of Proserpine by Algernon Charles Swinburne (1837-1909)

Much to think of there...  and, to give you something more to talk about tomorrow at the "groaning" Thanksgiving table, think on these things:

01. Here comes the parade!

The Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade is watched in person by 3 and 1/2 million people in New York City.  For a good seat to watch from, one can reserve a hotel room (according to the New York Times.)

The Quinn Hotel on 57th St and Av of the Americas:  offers s parade-view room and access for two to the balloon-inflating festivities.. for $1,249 a night, with a three night minimum.

The Mandarin Oriental New York Hotel, at Columbus Circle, offers a room, plus a photo booth (whatever that is) and cookie decorating.  Their price is only $1,125 per night with a two night minimum.

The New York Hilton Midtown, on the Av of the Americas, offers rooms at $549 with a three night minimum, but folks will have to view the parade in an outside viewing area.

The Trump International Hotel and Tower New York, on Central Park West offers a room and a lanyard pass that allows private street access to the parade. (Three nights minimum for $1,400.)

If its ok with you, if I need a parade fix, I'll just turn on TV.  A lot cheaper, and I'm sure parade views are much better. 

02.  There goes the parade!

As a street urchin in New Bedford, Massachusetts, I was always scrambling to make a buck.  We were poor and I was able to help quite a bit.. I had a double sized paper route for years.. I mowed the grass for all the neighbors.. I shoveled everybody's snow..  I helped "put up" and "take down" circus tents.. I manned ring toss booths at festivals.. I swept the floor of a nearby drug store.. I collected paper to convert to cash.. I sold peanuts at sports events.. I spent 4am to 7am six days a week delivering milk.. and all of that was my job history before I went into 7th grade. 

Hey, we all had to work hard back then.  Times were rough.

In 1948, New Bedford celebrated it's Centennial with festivals and parades.  One of the parades was going to include something new... air filled comic characters and animals.  Once these balloons were filled, they would need humans to hold the ropes so they did not float away.  An advertisement went out that young men were needed for that job and would be paid $10 each for their efforts.  Wow!  A chance to earn what was a lot of money in those days.

So, I took my 14 year old body to the parade preparation area and volunteered to work.  They gave me ropes to hold to keep a character up in the air (I think it was Mickey Mouse).  It was a windy day, and holding those ropes was a hard job.  Some of the kids had to give up and give their ropes to bigger boys to include with the ones they already had.

I stuck it out for the 2 hour parade through most of New Bedford.  The vision of a ten dollar bill kept me going, even though my hands were in tough shape from holding the ropes. 

Finally, the parade was over.   Somebody came up and deflated the balloons, I can't remember how.  Now, it was time to get our pay...  but who was going to pay us kids?  Everybody we asked denied that they were involved.  The balloon guys were tough looking big men and we knew that they could knock us silly if we confronted them.  So.. lesson learned.. when it comes to money.. don't trust anybody you don't know.  

03. How's the weather up there?

Today, at the Giant Grocery Store, as I waited in a checkout line, a head suddenly appeared over the 6 foot high partition.  A giant!  This guy had to be maybe 8 feet tall, easily.  When you are a short guy like me who has lost 4 inches in height that I couldn't afford to lose, everybody looks like they are basketball stars compared to me.

I'm sure that now you have seen the picture of the world's tallest man shaking hands with the world's smallest man.  Chandra Bahadur Dangi is 21 1/2 inches tall;  Sultan Kusen is 8 1/4 feet tall  or 99 inches.  Quite a spread.

I was reading something yesterday about Great Britain in World War I.  Britain's draft accepted men who were 5 feet 2 inches or taller.  If you were shorter than that, they handed you a shovel and gave you a job shoveling defensive tunnels in case of invasion.

Remember my friend Alan's story about when he was waiting in line at a theater in Ocean City, Maryland?  He was standing behind a very tall person; Alan is 5 feet 4 inches tall.   Alan tapped the tall man on his knee and asked him: "Hey, Mister, do you play basketball?"

The tall man turned and bent down to reply to Alan: "No. Do you play miniature golf?"

04.  Hot stuff.

Speaking of Ocean City, did I mention that a drunken woman was arrested there two weeks ago for throwing a bottle through the front window of a salon?  Anyway, while she was in jail, she took her panties off and draped them over the plastic telephone on the wall and set them on fire.  The phone melted.

05. Facility with Language.

This is a poem by a Jamaican American (on TED, I believe):

I'm articulate.
I'm tri-lingual.
On my resume:

06.  Frustrating to Crooks.

The Clothing Arts Company ( is offering pick-pocket proof trousers.  Each pair has 10 pockets, 5 of which are doubly secure and two back pockets that are triply secure. 

Somebody reported that The Chicago Tribune wrote about the pants: "You'll feel so emboldened, you'll want to wander through a crowd of grubby street urchins."

07.  Take a deep breath!

The Baltimore-based Royal Farms gas stations are being sued for charging for air. Supposedly, Baltimore air is free and Royal Farms may have to reimburse those air customers who have paid in the last 12 years and provide air free now and forever, because: "It's air, for goodness sakes!" says a Towson Attorney.

Ok, let's take a breather now.

Monday, November 24, 2014

Algae Virus; SWAT Raids; Whale Snot; Pooh Pants; Chickens; Pigeons; Mucus; XMAS Gifts; Stupid Criminals; Spicy Noodles; Beer for Your Brain

30 degrees yesterday, 70 degrees today.. wow!

"I find it very difficult to enthuse
Over the current news.
Just when you think that at least the outlook is so black that it can grow no blacker, it worsens.
And that is why I do not like to get the news, because there has never been an era when so many things were going so right for so many of the wrong persons."  Ogden Nash

I mean, of course, the Republicans... only kidding.. kind of.

Well, let's see if I can find 12 weird things to talk about:

01.  Personalized Salad?

Scientists at Johns Hopkins in Baltimore, have found traces of an algae virus in people's throats.  We've known for years that some plant viruses replicate themselves in insects, but not in animals.  However, now we may have to rethink that knowledge, because the scientists think that there may be a link between an algae virus and human brain functions, especially like attention spans. 

02.  Home Invasions?

Harper's Index tells us that the average number of SWAT raids carried out per day in Maryland since 2009 is 4.5.  I assume the police had probable cause and got permission from the courts.  I wonder where these raids were held.  In Baltimore?  Frederick?  Westminster?  I would like to see more information on this situation, because since I run the local TRIAD group, I am very interested in such statistics.. and this statistic bothers me. 

03.  Wipe your nose!

Chuck Shepherd remarks in Funny Times:  Apparently, some folks are interested in the stress level of whales, and lie in wait for a whale to blow snot out of its blowhole, for indelicate human examination.  However, some engineering researchers are working on a more civilized collection method:  radio-controlled, mucus-trapping drones.

04. Shame Shame!

Officials in Tuszyn, Poland, have decided that a pants-less Winnie the Pooh is inappropriate for a children's playground.  While debating the issue, one town councilman posited that he thought that Pooh doesn't wear underpants because he doesn't have sex and is an hermaphrodite.  I guess they will also reject Donald Duck.. but I think Mickey Mouse will be ok.

05.  Cluck Cluck!

Apparently, there is not as much TV in Britain for Senior Citizens to watch, so Health Departments have decided that they need something to do to keep senior brains active.  So, now, senior citizens can get free chickens to care for.  This should keep those synapses working.

06.  Coo Coo!

According to Monica Hoose and Carolyn Naifeh, a few years ago, a Baltimore man was arrested for stealing 70 homing pigeons.  Police found some of them inside his pants. Thomas Waddell was waddling along in bulging pants.  An officer approached Thomas, and he began pulling pigeons from his pants.  He pulled out 21 live pigeons and 5 dead ones. 

07.  Didn't I tell you to Wipe Your nose?!

Internet information:  You produce a quart of mucus in your nose each day.

08. Christmas Gifts?

The New York Times says: "Shop our Holiday 2014 Preview for CollectiblesYou'll Treasure."
For example:

Vintage Rolex Watches:  $3,200.  (From 1970's and 1980's)

Restored Typewriter: $950. (1950's)

Stadium Infield Dirt from all 30 Ballparks: $249.

Red Crocodile Jewelry Boxes: $1,600 (Andaluz)

09.  Dumb Criminal

Chuck Shepherd says that a young man in Northern Ireland entered a supermarket, put a plastic garbage bag over his head and waited in line to get to a cashier.   However, he soon got tired of waiting and left, saying: "I'll be back."  He didn't get back.. he got arrested instead.

10.   Another Dumb Criminal

This guy tried to rob some folks by holding up a Xerox copy of a pistol. 

11. Oodles of Noodles

The Week:  A Chinese restaurant owner recently confessed to mixing opium with his noodles, to keep the customers coming back.  One of those customers tested positive for drugs during a routine traffic stop just after he had had a nice noodle meal.  Other customers tested positive and so police were able to figure out what had happened. 

12.  I've always said that drinking beer makes you smarter!

The Week:  A recent  study found that a flavonoid found in hops and beer made mice smarter.  Sounds good!  However, for humans to get the same Mensa effect, they would have to drink 3,500 pints of beer each every day.  A bit much, unfortunately.
That's my 12.. bye bye.

Monday, November 17, 2014

Moon; Comet Landing; Kadashian; Kate Smith; Fort Lauderdale; Saartsie Baartman

Rainy and cold.. three weeks to the full Moon

"When the moon comes over the mountain,
Every beam brings a dream, dear, of you.

Once again we stroll 'neath the mountain,
Through that rose-covered valley we knew.

Each day is gray and dreary,
But the night is bright and cheery.

When the moon comes over the mountain,
I'm alone with the memories of you.

When the moon comes over the mountain,
Every beam brings a dream, dear, of you."

Song by Beasley Smith, Howard Johnson and Harry Woods.
Sung by Kate Smith.

I'm afraid that following the marvelous achievement of the European Space Agency of getting a "lander" to attach itself to a speeding comet, we, in the United States, may have missed another fantastic as(s)tronomical event.. namely, the publication of a picture of Kim Kadashian's butt on the cover of Paper magazine!

It reminded me of a trip that my late wife, Elaine, and I took in Florida with Collette Tours.  We visited Fort Lauderdale and boarded a ship, to cruise the famous waterways of that town.   Five minutes into the cruise, we were informed to "look to the shore on the left".  And there, in full view, was a young man with his pants down, "mooning" us.   After the shock to  our New England bred psyches wore off, we continued on with our tour.

One hour later, near the end of the tour, the Collette voice again spoke: "look to the shore on the right".  And there, in full view again, was our "mooner" doing what he apparently liked to do.  I noted that after giving us a good "moon", he hurried into the bar which was in back of him.
I imagined this scenario going on inside that bar.  "Hey, Bill, where'd you disappear to?" says the bartender.

"Hey, man, I was out there showing tourists my naked ass."

"Why do you do that?"

"Well, because it keeps me in beer, that's why."

"Whaddaya mean?"

"It's my job."

"How is it your job?"

"Well, everyday at 6 pm, I go out and show my butt to a boatload of tourists."

"Then, at 7 pm, I go out again and show it to them again."

"And, guess what..  Collette Tours sends me a check for $100 a month for me to keep doing it."
I'm not sure if that is what happens.. but why would the same guy "moon" the same people twice each night if he wasn't getting paid for it?
Now, some people might think that Kadashian is callipygian.  But some people might rather think of her as having steatopygia. 

I wonder if she has ever heard about, or cares about, Saartsie Baartman, the so-called Hottentot Venus.  Saartsie was put on display in the 19th century because of her massive butt.  (She also had an elongated labia.. but that is a subject for another day.)

Anyway, if you haven't seen the magazine cover mentioned, you are missing another Kadashian image that will probably generate more discussion than that other astronomical event, the comet landing that you've probably already forgotten.

Thursday, November 13, 2014

Snow; Pineapples; Tea Parties; Style; Telephone Calls; Scam and Spam; Saints; Nixon; Elaine Idea; Living Wage; Texas Taxes; Leno; Macular

S N O W  !!

"Ou sont les neiges d'antan?"  Well, they're back.

"The snow had begun in the gloaming,
And busily all the night,
Had been coating the woods and highlands
With a something or other of white."

"Roamin' in the Gloamin'
With my bonnie by my side..."

What the hell is a Gloaming?

How about another dozen of weird  items from my daily notebook:

01.  Hawaii and Pineapple

I've told this story before.  Let's see if I can tell it again without too many embellishments.

While going to Boston University, my wife and I looked around for a place to live.  The University referred us to an apartment house just across Commonwealth Avenue.  A number of other BU married couples lived there and there was an opening.

The place was run by an elderly lady whose last name was Dole.  She said she was originally from Hawaii, and told us she was a member of the Dole family that had the big pineapple plantations on Lanai, one of the fertile Hawaiian Islands.  She said that she kept this apartment house for BU couples because she loved the school and what it stood for.

The Dole lady immediately took a liking to my dear wife and wanted to welcome us into her fold.  She especially liked Elaine's maturity and told her that she would like her to be the so-called "wife-in-charge"..  That was fine, until she told Elaine what her main duty would be.  She would be the "mother" for the tea parties to be held every day. 

Elaine's spirit of independence rebelled.. she did not like the idea of being tied to a daily regimen of "tea, glorious tea"..  so, even though it meant giving up a possible chance to tie into the vast Dole family fortunes.. she said "no", and we moved on to other venues.

02. Delaware and Tea Parties

Our Dole story reminded me of my cousin Tom's attempt to tie into the Delaware DuPont family.  Tom said that one of the DuPont relatives was experiencing dementia and the family was seeking an understanding person who could serve as her private butler and care-giver.  Tom felt that he was the person they were looking for, and he kind of hoped that the rewards would be great.

So, he was hired.  Each afternoon, his duty was to set up chairs and tables in the first foot of water near the family's ocean-front mansion and serve make-believe tea to the old lady and each of her dolls which he propped up in the chairs.  He said that he did this for years, until the old lady passed away.  When her will was read, nobody could find anything in it about my cousin.  So it goes.

03.  New York Style

For ten years now, the New York Times has been publishing a weekly New York Times Style Magazine.  I love the New York Times newspaper and the weekly word puzzles.  I even don't mind their advertisements for 13 million dollar condominiums, or their "Vows" section, where people who have "made it big" write "down" to the "little folks" and let them read about their weddings.  But the Style Magazine?!  Skinny-legged women showing off their spindly legs and weird hairdos in an attempt to sell "original copies of originals" ... I'm sure female readers of the Style Magazine, shortchange their families' budgets to buy some of the useless crap that is advertised. 

04.  Telephone Report for October 2014

I kept track of phone calls during the month of October.  I received  some calls that I did not  care to receive.  This is a summary of those calls:

I received 26 calls from "known" scam/spam artists.

I received 18 calls from "suspected" scam/spam artists.

I received 25 calls that I could not identify.

I received 2 calls from myself.  (How did they do that?)

Surprizingly, I only received one Robocall.. from local politician, Justin Ready (pronounced Reedy)  I think I was slighted.. after all, as an Independent, I expected  more.

05.  Pilgrimage Site?

Mental Floss magazine reports on St. Blaise Church in Vodnjan, Croatia.  Six, count 'em, six preserved Catholic saints are on display.  Make sure, if you visit, that you check out Saint Mary of Egypt's preserved tongue, as well as a thorn from Jesus' crown.

06.  More on President Nixon

I read recently that President Richard Nixon once said that his favorite breakfast was ketchup and cottage cheese.  (I don't think that I want to try that, but I'm sure it is very nutritious.)

07.  More on the Election

Timothy Egan in the New York Times (I think) said that Senator Mitch McConnell paid people to show up at his rallies and pretend to be excited.

Tim also mentioned that Texas had passed a selective voter ID bill that could keep upward of 600,000 citizens (students, Native Americans, the elderly) from being able to vote in the recent election.  He also says that you can vote in Texas with a concealed handgun ID, but not one from a four-year college.

 08.  Another Idea from Elaine Lottes

Elaine is full of ideas.  One of her recent ones:

Wouldn't it be better, if when you dropped something, it went up, instead of down?

Think about that!

09.  A Billionaire's Advice

The Progressive Populist:  Nick Hanauer, a billionaire Internet entrepreneur, recently warned other rich folks: 

a.  The true job creators are middle-class consumers, not rich businesspeople like us.
b.  The soundest way to shrink government is to decrease the need for it by paying wages so people do not need food stamps, rent assistance and the like.
c.  Stop the feudal low-wage policies and get rid of the widening divide, or "the pitch forks are going to come for us."

Remember the French Revolution?
10.  What about that, Mr. Governor?

Harper's Index:  Texas collects one and one half trillion dollars a year from undocumented workers.

11. Leno-speak.

Funny Times/John Winokur:

"Fifty percent of America's population spends less than ten dollars a month on romance.  You know what we call these people?  Men."   Jay Leno

12.  Coinages?

Every few months, I go to an eye specialist who injects a product into my macular degenerate right eye... before he does that, he puts drops in my eye and numbs it with lidocaine.   So:  I call that doctor a DROPTHALMOLOGIST, and the numbing material PREPARACAINE.
bye for now

Tuesday, November 11, 2014

Veterans Day; AARP Genie; Dancing Joke; McConnell; Religious Right; Money Giveaway; Marriage; Governors; Protein Source; Lame Duck ToDo; Nixon; Student Loans; Baltimore Trivia

70 degree day.. nice.. too nice for Fall, but, we'll take it!

"See how the world its veterans rewards!
A youth of frolics, an old age of cards."

Alexander Pope (An Essay on Man)

Yes.. its Veterans Day.  I spent a couple of hours looking out the window and wondering why the mail person was so late.  Dummy me!

Let me try to catch up on some interesting (to me) "stuff."

01.  AARP Notes

I tell so many "Genie grants three wishes" stories at our AARP meetings that people are beginning to sing:

"chills run up and down my spine,
Alladin's lamp is mine" .... da da da da

Nice song.    Want to hear my latest?  Good:

A man was  walking on the beach and he came across a beautiful lamp.  He began to rub it with his handkerchief to make it shiny, and a Genie popped out, and said:
"Master, you have released me from one thousand years inside that lamp.  Therefore, I would like to reward you with three wishes."
The man was excited and gave his first wish:  "I want to have a million dollars."
POOF!  His hand now held a briefcase filled with $100 bills.
He then gave his second wish:  "I want to have a new Mercedes automobile."
POOF!  He now was the owner of a beautiful car.
Excited even more, he gave his third wish:  "I want to become irresistible to women!"
POOF!  The genie turned him into a box of chocolates.

So, be careful of what  you wish for.

Unfortunately, fellow AARP members are passing away too quickly these days.

Dave, a very nice guy.. looking lots younger than his 81 years, passed away just one week after learning of his cancer.

Audrey, a lovely lady of 96 years, also looking much younger than her calendar shows, passed away after being sickly for a few months.

Milton, a still-practicing dairy farmer, passed away at 86 the other day.  I was trying to arrange for him to get a large wheelchair from somewhere.. preferably from his own doctor.  I have a small wheel chair that he could have had, but it would not hold his 300 pound body.

Norman, a real nice guy who was probably 7 feet tall, passed away yesterday.  We always joked that when he attended a meeting, the average height was raised by 6 inches.  And when he didn't attend, but I did, the average height dropped by 6 inches.  Its hard to believe that a guy like Norman, who took care of horses and his landscaping chores, could leave us in such a short period of time.

02.  Dancing Joke

A woman and her husband are attending a ball in their hometown.  On the floor, in the midst of hundreds of dancers is a man who is obviously enjoying himself enormously.
The woman clicks her tongue and says: "Look at him, making a spectacle of himself.  Did you know that he once asked me to marry him, and I turned him down."
The husband replied: "Well, it looks like he's still celebrating."

03.  The Senate's Big Shot

Even though Alison Lundergan Grimes  put up a great fight, Mitch McConnell beat her for his Senate Seat.   I liked what she said at one point in the campaign: "Thirty-five is my age, but it is also Mitch McConnell's approval rating.. if Mitch McConnell were a TV show, he'd be 'Mad Men' .. treating women unfairly, stuck in 1968, and ending this season!"

By being in control in both houses, the Republicans have a chance to do something other than to sit on their behinds as they have been doing for a long time.  If they do nothing, they risk losing the 2016 Presidency race.

04.  Does the Religious Right feel energized?

With the Republicans ensconced now.. will the Ultra Religious guys see their goals be achieved?  Such as:

a. The elimination of reproductive freedom and the reduction of access to birth control.
b. The institution of mandatory prayer in public schools.
c. The insertion of creationism and "intelligent Design" into school curricula in place of science.
d. The ignoring of election law by using tax-exempt churches to promote their political candidates.
e. The passing of laws that discriminate against the LGBT community.

05. "Buddy, could you use an extra $5?"

In September, to celebrate his 59th birthday, Bob Blackley stood on a busy street corner in Winston-Salem, North Carolina, handing out $800 worth of $5 bills.  He likes to make people smile.

06.  It was time..

After living together for 70 years, Vivian and Alice, now in their 90's, decided to "tie the knot" recently.  Let's hope they have many more years ahead of them.

07,  Illinois Joke.. holds true for other States too

Carolyn O'Hara in This Week magazine said that she heard this while growing up in Illinois:
"Our governors are always assured two terms: one in the statehouse and another in the Big House."

Reference: former Virginia Governor Bob McDonnell and his wife Maureen. 

08. New Source of Good Protein

According to This Week, a new company named EXO has started selling snack bars made from ground up crickets.. they want the world to know about the nutritional and environmental benefits of consuming insects.

09.  What's a Lame Duck to do?

Thomas Frank in the Progressive Populist suggests some things that President Obama could do, that would not be assailable by the Republicans:

a.  Instruct his (old or new) Attorney General to start enforcing the nation's antitrust laws the way Democrats used to do.
b.  Investigate and prosecute fraud committed during the housing bubble.
c.  Make it clear that he will no longer tolerate the college tuition price spiral.

or.. initiate Price Controls like Nixon did.

The President did say something about college tuition prices in a recent speech, but I doubt he said it  with all the force he could have.

10.  Speaking of that "Tricky" President

According to the Baltimore Trivia book by Dennis McClellan, (If its Trivia about Baltimore, It's Far from Trivial), in 1946, a Republican group in California needed a candidate to run against Jerry Voorhis, a wealthy democrat seeking a sixth term as a representative.  They actually placed 26 newspaper ads in an attempt to find somebody.

Eight men applied and were rejected. Then somebody thought of Richard M. Nixon, a 33 year old lawyer and Navy vet.   The group found him in Baltimore, of all places, and enticed him to California where he trounced his opponent unmercifully. 

11. Student Loan Forgiveness

The Nation:  In September 2014, the Occupy Wall Street offshoot organization, Strike Debt, purchased almost 4 million dollars in student loan debt owed by almost 3,000 students of the For Profit Everest College.  It then forgave the debts.  (How about that!)

12.  More Baltimore Trivia

From McClellan's book, cited above:  A widely known Baltimorean had the Washington Press Club falling on the floor laughing in 1976, when she said that some people in Congress had mistaken her for Carl Albert in drag.  That lady?  The irrepressible  and beloved Senator Barbara Mikulski.
Had enough?  Yeah.. me too.

Thursday, November 06, 2014

Politicians; Ogden Nash; Mitch McConnell; Bernie Sanders; David Koch; New York Times; Kidnapping; North Korea; the Prelude boat; Dung Beetles; Mistletoe Mart;

Rainy and 50 degrees most of the day.

"Behold the politician.
Self-preservation is his ambition.
He thrives in the D. of C.,
Where he was sent by you and me.


He gains votes ever and anew
By taking money from everybody and giving it to a few,
While explaining that every penny
Was extracted from the few to be given to the many.

Some politicians are Republican, some Democratic,
And their feud is dramatic,
But except for the name
They are identically the same."

A marvelously perceptive poem by Ogden of many in his book: A Penny Saved is Impossible.

01. Politics

OK, OK I was wrong.....

It looks like Mitch McConnell will become the leader of the Republican-controlled Senate, at least for the next two years.  As Archie used to say on the Duffee's Tavern radio show: "What a revoltin' development!" 

What is the plan for the Republicans in 2015 anyway?

Senator Bernie Sanders spells it out in a recent speech, mentioning how it echoes the goals of one half of the Koch Brothers (David), when he was running for Vice President of the Libertarian Party in 1980.  His goals, according to Bernie.. are the current goals in some of the Republican Party.

a. Repeal of federal campaign finance laws and the Federal Election Commission.
b. Abolition of Medicare and Medicaid programs.
c. Repeal of Social Security.
d. Abolition of the Postal Service.
e. Repeal of minimum wage laws.
f. The complete separation of education and government.
g. Abolition of the Environmental Protection Agency.
h. Abolition of all "aid to the poor" programs.

And of course.. now the Republicans will be embolden to try again to gut Obamacare.

So.. if I've paraphrased parts of Bernie's speech correctly, a group of Republicans want to repeal almost every piece of legislation passed since the Great Depression to protect the elderly, sick and the poor, as well as the members of the middle class.

Hey, guys, remember what happened to Marie Antoinette and her crowd.  And so.. "Don't mess with my Social Security!"

02.  Time to Think

The November 2nd, 2014 edition of the New York Times Magazine was extremely interesting to me. Several great articles, especially:

a.  The story by Theo Padnos who was kidnapped in Syria and held captive by Islamic militants for two years.  In that time, he was tortured and was under the threat of beheading every single day.  He survived by writing a novel in his head about his home state of Vermont. 

It was as hard for me to try and understand the thinking of his captors as it was for me to try and understand the thinking of Nazi officers in WWII.    This story will stay with me for a long time.

b.  Suki Kim taught English to students at Pyongyang University of Science and Technology in North Korea.  Because he was observed for 24 hours a day, he was very careful of what he said to anyone, including his students.  At one time, students asked him how America's "National Assembly" worked.  Suki carefully indicated that the people, through their representative and senators make the laws in the US... while the students were in a nation where all laws are made by the "Beloved Leader".  He did not want the students to get their brains working too much because they, as he, were observed carefully for any "deviation" from the leader's rules for thinking.

c.  The world's largest floating "boat" is called Prelude, and is being built in South Korea.  It is over 530 yards long (1/3rd of a mile), and 80 yards wide.  It's bigger than six aircraft carriers.  It took six full size pages of the magazine to show a picture of this monstrosity.  What is this weird thing?

It is a "giant liquefied-natural-gas refinery."  What ever the hell that is.  Anyway.. it's big!

d.  Douglas Emlen is a dung beetle expert.  He has observed that some male dung beetles grow massive horns to help them push dung into cave-holes in the ground and to fend off other dung beetles who want to mate with the female dung beetle, who, impressed with the large horns, attaches herself to the dung ball and is pushed into the hole by the happy male.  So, evolution has favored the big-horned dung beetle, right?

Well, not exactly, because just as the big-horned beetle is doing his pushing, a smaller beetle with no horns is tunneling up under where the dung will be and he finally steals the female away from the bigger male, and wins.   So, for a while, no horns is uppermost.. and for a while, big horns is uppermost... this is evolution. 

Douglas relates all this to the current political climate in the world.  The United States' massive armament is almost controlling the world, while a few able Chinese hackers is almost bringing us down.  I may not be explaining this very well, but maybe you get the picture.

03.  Today in Westminster, Maryland

a.  10 am .. Genealogy Group meeting to discuss family similarity.  During the meeting, I was physically compared to Ted Kennedy.  I've been told that before, and it doesn't bother me, because Ted was a  hero of mine.   As I've written in these pages before, Ted Kennedy and my Uncle Allen Vaughan died on the same day and I made my Massachusetts eulogy cover both of them... "both of my heroes."

b.  Some folks at the meeting convinced me that I should further my DNA investigations by trying the program at   Elaine said she would like to do that too and I will so treat her.

c.  3:30 pm.. off to the Mistletoe Mart.. an annual showing and selling of juried items.  A couple of our friends were not in the show this year and it was a disappointment to Elaine.

(1)  The lavender farm.  We always buy honey and dip and lavender stuff from them.  They retired this year.
(2)  Elaine's pottery company.  She always buys something from them.. they just didn't show up this year.
(3)  The old stuff store.. old toys and advertising material.  They also retired.

Right now I'm nursing massive heartburn from the Carroll County BBQ that I consumed just after I spilled half a pint of milk all over the table.

While in line at the food concession, a lady next to me said: "Hey, Joe Vaughan".. it was a lady I had not seen since I used to emcee senior conventions in the 1990's.  And, guess what, I did not have a "Joe Vaughan Fan Club" pen with me to give to her.  I must remember to be prepared because fame is fleeting.

We did run into Jan Flora and her husband.  Jan is one of the few persons (along with Elaine) that looks younger today than she did ten years ago.  A real nice person... not many of those still around.

One other strange thing happened today... Elaine got a letter from IRS saying that she had a $1.20 refund from her 2011 income tax.   However, in the same mailing, she got another letter from IRS saying that her $1.20 refund will be used to cover some money she owes for 2012 taxes.  Easy come, easy go.


Tuesday, November 04, 2014

Voting; TRIAD; Skimming; Email; Tractor; RIP Elliott; Charity; Egypt; Poe-type Authors; World Trade Center; Crabs for Christmas

Beautiful Sunny Day for the Election

"R's do it.
D's do it.
Even Independent fleas do it.
Let's do it.
Let's go and vote!"

From Cole Porter (with modifications by Mitch Edelman)

Well, Mitch Edelman has done it again.  Another excellent column in the Carroll County Times.  If the newspaper doesn't offer him some kind of contract, they are making a big mistake. 

I'm quite surprised that I have only gotten 5 Robo-Calls this year.  Lots of other calls that I haven't answered.. some of which may have been political.  

I am going to make a prediction..  the Republicans will miss out on controlling the Senate.. sorry, Mitch McConnell..

 If some of the anti-Obamacare nutcakes prove me wrong, I'll shut up, but in any event, I see nothing but more massive Congressional Crap for the next 2 years. 

01.  TRIAD .. Skimming Activity

A tech-savvy young crook is installing "skimming" equipment around the Frederick and Carroll County area and videoing people using the ATM machines.  He gets account information from the videos so that he can help himself to those folks' money.  So far, it is estimated that he has "skimmed" enough to get himself around $100,000.  Watch out!  If you must use an ATM machine, look around and if you see strange mechanisms, don't get your card out of your pocketbook.  Notify the police if you are able to.

02.  TRIAD .. Dumb Emailer

An Annapolis man, probably drunk at the time, sent an email to the White House threatening to behead the President and harm the First Lady.  This "bright bulb" mustn't have realized that his name and telephone number were posted automatically, as part of his email message.

03.  TRIAD .. Dumb Neighbor

A man's $10,000 tractor was stolen from his garage in 2013.  Six months later, he spotted his next door neighbor using it to mow his grass.  Well, his neighbor won't have to worry about mowing his grass now for a while.

04.  Rest In Peace Elliott

I was surprised today to see an obituary for my friend, Elliott... the only person, I think, that has hated me for years.  Some time ago, he visited our AARP meeting and made himself obnoxious about the future of Obamacare.  He wrote a nasty letter to the Carroll County Times about the meeting and had all of the facts wrong.   I sent a counter-letter to the newspaper saying that he must have attended a different meeting than I did, because nothing he said was what actually happened.

This made Elliott mad, and for years he would see me at functions and give me the evil eye, like that guy did who was in all of the Laurel and Hardy movies.  Once, by mistake, he sat down next to me in a theater.. but he and I survived.  The poor guy was the same age as me, and I hope that his hatred of me did not result in an earlier grave for him than was in the cards. 

05.  With Charity for All (Carroll County, Maryland)

"I see by the paper" that the President of Carroll Food Sunday says that his organization distributes 8,000 pounds of food every week to people who need it.  That's got to be a lot of food.

Let's say that each person wanting food selects 10 pounds... a fair amount?  That means that 800 people a week avail themselves of the service.  Is that possible?  If so, it is a shame that so many people in our community require so much help.   Why do they?  And what about the other charitable food suppliers, like NESAP and Catholic Charities?

06.  The Dark Ages are still with Us? (Egypt)

New York Times:  Egypt recently raided a Same Sex Wedding and arrested 8 men for homosexuality.   Egyptian officials point out that homosexuality is a social taboo for both Moslems and Coptic Christians.  (This sounds false to anyone who has waded through the Alexandrian Quartet.)

Somehow, I thought that Egypt was one of the free-thinking countries in the Middle East.   I guess I was wrong.  (Or.. maybe the couples did not pay the necessary bribes.)

07.  New Authors (to me)

I had not known about these two authors until today, but I will be learning more about them in days to come.

Emile Gaboriau .. called the Edgar Allen Poe of France

Eugene Sue .. weird French author.. (One of his lovers stipulated in her will that her copy of Sue's Les Mysteres de Paris be rebound in her own skin.... it was.)

08.  Can't keep us down!

The new 104 story #1 World Trade Center opened yesterday.  (It is the tallest building in the U.S., but not the world.)

09. Christmas in Baltimore, Maryland

The famous yuletide record entitled: Crabs for Christmas was recorded and released by Baltimore actor, singer, and playwright, David de Boy and his group: "The Fool Brothers."  That was in 2007 or so.. but the song had been around for at least 25 years before that.. in fact, I think that it was originally sung by Ed Walker of WAMU Radio.  But.. why don't you go to YouTube and view DeBoy singing the song at Geppi's, with HON stuff around.  Fun time.  I will be Santa at our NARFE meeting in December, and maybe I can get a recording of Crabs to play as background.  Hmmm.


Well, I guess I've covered enough stuff for today.  See ya!


Sunday, November 02, 2014

Baltimore; Voter-Id; Facebook for the Rich: Maryland Churchgoers; Show-offs

Dismal AM: Sunny PM  ..  low  temperature.. Fall is definitely here.   Lots of winds.. radio says 40 mph.. I believe them.  But.. it's nice just the same.  The Best of all Possible Worlds.. Pangloss.

"The wind comes walloping out of the West,
And the sky is lapis lazuli,
And the hills are bold in red and gold,
And I cannot take it casually.

Oh, cruel day for a man to spend
At counter or desk or forge!
I think I shall stray from duty today,
And turn it over to George."

Ogden Nash

Well, I don't have a George to turn my chores over to, so I will just grin an bear it.  Sunday night is when I have to gather all the garbage, recycling, etc and get everything out to the street before midnight, if possible.  Since its not always possible, I apologize to my neighbors for the Little Night Music that I produce every week.

01.  Baltimore Trivia

I just found a wonderful book in my library that I had forgotten about.  The title :  If It's Trivia About Baltimore, It's Far from Trivia.. by Dennis McClellan.

This is an amazing book... just as Baltimore is an amazing city.  Lots and lots of great stuff has been hatched in this city.  I will list a bit from time to time, here on my blog.  But first, get this!

Edgar Allen Poe wrote A Narrative of A. Gordon Pym, which was influenced by Baltimore.  It tell of three survivors of a shipwreck who were floating in a lifeboat and killed and ate a cabin boy named Richard Parker.  Fifty  years later, 3 survivors of a shipwreck actually did kill and eat a cabin boy.. also named Richard Parker.   In 2013, a movie portrayed the shipwreck of a boy surviving with a wild tiger as a companion.  As I recall it, the tiger was also named Richard Parker.  !!

02.  Voter-ID Law Reinstated

Yes, we are back to the State tricks to prevent minority voters from being able to cast their ballots for Democratic candidates.  Calvin Trillin wrote a poem in the Nation magazine about Texas:

We'll stop them for the documents they lack,
And then we'll try to get the poll tax back.

03.  Facebook for the Rich

I know, you probably haven't heard of Alibaba.. not the guy from Baghdad legend, but the Chinese company that will soon be challenging Amazon in U.S. sales.

However, perhaps you have heard of Netropolitan.. the social network founded by James Touchi-Peters.  This is Facebook-like for rich folks.   It costs $9000 to join and yearly dues are $3000.  I wonder how many people belong... not me.  Touchi-Peters is a composer, performer and former conductor of the Minnesota Philharmonic.

04.  Maryland Churchgoers

Reverend Samuel Nsengiyumva became the rector of Westminster's Church of the Ascension in September 2014.  This is an African-born gentleman who has a lot of experience as an Episcopal Priest.  As I've mentioned before, there is a Southern-style bigotry located just below the surface on some residents, who in many other respects are fine, upstanding members of that church. (My opinion.) I wonder how they have welcomed this man.  I wonder if the Congregation voted on his acceptance.

I look forward to encountering him at the upcoming Mistletoe Mart.

05.  Wise Words

My fortune cookie says:  "Confucious says: Show-off always shown up in showdown."

.................. That's enough for today...

Friday, October 31, 2014

Halloween; Health; Sleep; Cousin Charlie

Two dismal days.. but not really cold.

"The Doctor gets  you when you're born,
The Preacher, when you marry,
And the Lawyer lurks, with costly clerks
If too much on you carry.
Professional men, they have no cares,
Whatever happens, they get theirs."

Ogden Nash

Cheer up, it's Halloween..   the wait staff at our Bistro is in costume.. some quite provocatively.  They are young and know that us old-timers don't have the energy to get fresh (whatever that used to be).

01.  How are we doing?  You'll be sorry you asked.

Elaine and I have been kind of screwed up for a few days:  I have had achiness and chest pains for three days.. no.. its not a heart attack.. when I take two Tylenol, all of the uncomfortableness goes away for a few hours.  However, on the good side of that,  I have noticed an unusual uptick in my metabolism and am doing "stuff" again.  Also, my pants keep falling down... Maybe I am losing weight at last.   Maybe I just need suspenders.   We'll see.

Elaine was also feeling very bad for a couple of days.. but on Thursday, she received a passing grade from her urologist and she is feeling much better.

I think that both of us need a couple of more days for rest.. to feel 70% again (we never feel 100%.. that is for you young folks.) 

I just got through listening to 24 lectures on the subject of sleep.  The lecturer wants us to learn all of the mechanisms of sleep and learn how to love the 8 hours of sleep that he recommends for everyone.  He says that sleep deficits build up and Have To Be recovered, however long that can take.

As a  young man, I never slept more than 4 or 5 hours a night.  For instance, on weeknights I would stay us to watch Jack Paar, or Johnny Carson.. or whoever.. until 1 am... then I would go to bed and get up around 6 am to lift weights until I had breakfast and left for work that began at 8:30 am.  I did that for years... so my sleep deficit must be enormous.

After learning the mechanics of sleep, I had a couple of questions that I wanted to ask the professor..

 1.  What about "loss" dreams?

Example: After my wife died in 2000, I would have recurring dreams where we would be going somewhere and when I turned to look at something .. when I turned back.. my wife would be gone and I would spend a long time trying to find her.. but not finding her.

I had those dreams for  years.  And what about the dream I mentioned last week... during the day I had stood at the statue holding my wife's ashes and thought deeply about her.. later that night, I had a dream where I was to meet her at a restaurant.. as I came to the restaurant, I saw her inside and she saw me and she smiled her famous smile.... but when I went in, she wasn't there.  (I still almost cry when I recall that dream.)

The professor did not get into such dreams., in fact, he did not say anything significant (in my opinion) about the meaning of dreams.

2.  What about sleep learning?

During the 1950's, I obtained a German Grundig tape recorder and played German tapes through headsets while I slept.   I believed that I was able to learn German that way.    However, after the 50's, such learning was said to be "debunked" and disregarded. I still did it a bit in college.

The professor did read my mind on this subject and elaborated.  He said that studies in Israel are showing valid results for some kinds of sleep learning... I don't want to get into his technical explanation for this; however, he did predict great things for sleep learning in the  years to come.

02.  Cousin Charlie

As an empath, news about my cousin, Charlie K., is affecting my sleep.  Charlie is undergoing dialysis and also just had surgery to implant a heart monitor, a pacemaker.  Charlie and I grew up in New Bedford, and I have always looked on him as my younger brother. 

Charlie is a brilliant person who made some important discoveries in Physics.  He is also a great family man and an asset  to his community in Pennsylvania.   He does not deserve to suffer as he has for some time now.  But he is resilient, and will overcome his current  physical problems.  Meanwhile, I will just suffer a bit along with him, empathetically.. I just hope that I can draw off some of his pain and make his life more comfortable.  

Sunday, October 26, 2014

Grandparents Day at Montessori; Piggies Day at the Delicatessen.

A beautiful fall day..

"Knowledge is of two kinds.  We know a subject ourselves, or we know where we can find information upon it."

Samuel Johnson (2709-1784)

01.  A Delightful Friday Morning.

The Montessori School in Baltimore County celebrated Grandparents' Day and Elaine and I attended. Elaine's granddaughter, Lily, and grandson, Luka, are students there.  The last Grandparents' Day I was involved in, was when my granddaughters, Heather and Danielle were in Elementary School.  This one was quite different.

We arrived just five minutes too  late to partake of the offered "breakfast".. but, we were on time to hear the headmistress discuss things, such as  how this school got started, what its future will be, and how the grandparents will be able to help... (stand by for the donation letter)..   This headmistress was quite different from those depicted in Disney movies.  Very well spoken.  Obviously quite intelligent and well organized.

Grandparents were in attendance from all over the world.. Iceland, Denmark, South Africa, Canada, and a few other places.  Of course, Maryland and bordering States housed many of those in attendance.  I did not see anyone in dungarees or shorts.  A classy clientele indeed.

We were not able to get the wheelchair up to Lily's class, but we were able to easily get to Luka's class.  I think the teacher's name was Miss Emily.  We were greeted at the door in Spanish and English.  Nice.  These are the ages when young minds pick up languages easily.  I hope they keep that up for other classes, and maybe throw in some French as well.

Luka spotted his grandmother immediately and his face was bright as the sun.  He had three badges that he had made for us.  He signed one of them himself.  We wore them proudly the rest of the day.

Luka showed us how well he can stack blocks of different sizes.  He showed us all kinds of learning things.  At one point, he did the following:

He picked up a yellow tray from a shelf and brought it over to a table.
He unfurled a yellow table rug to put under the tray.
He picked up a small jar from the tray and went away somewhere and came back with it full of water.
He poured some of the water into a small vase.  (without spilling any of it!)
He picked up a small bunch of flowers from the tray and trimmed them with a pair of scissors. (neatly)
He took the trimmed flowers and placed them into the vase of water. 
Afterwards, he cleaned everything up .. also neatly.

Now... tell me how many three year olds could do all of that without spilling a drop or knocking everything on the floor.  Or even retaining interest long enough to complete the task.

We had an hour in Luka's class room and ten minutes before leaving, the teachers got out guitars and had the kids all sing in Spanish.  The song was kind of like Old McDonald's Farm.. with the kids being able to do some animal sounds.  Very impressive.

When our time was up, we headed back to the Gym for some more singing.  First, we heard from some of the higher graded kids, "singing" ....  well, I wouldn't really call it that.. in line with the Montessori ideal of personal differences.. each of these kids appeared to be singing a different song.. the only thing the same was that it was a song about "the world".. and I'm sure, if my hearing aid was working right, it would have been about "peace in the world."

But, after that things began to look up.. a 9 or 10 year old pianist ably accompanied all of the other, younger kids in songs with recognizable lyrics and melodies.  Very nice.  Lily and Luka were in this group and Elaine got a couple of nice pictures.

We got to see Francine and Neal, who had been able to visit Lily's classroom.

After saying goodbye to all these beautiful kids, we went through the Book Fair.   I couldn't resist, and bought a book about caves and tunnels, a book of crockpot recipes and a large book about the Holocaust.  Elaine bought a book for Lily (birthday gift I guess) and a Spanish book, that she bought and then donated to Luka's class.

All in all...  a wonderful experience in a beautiful setting.  The next Grandparents' Day is in May 2015 and Elaine is already planning to attend.

2.  Pot of Gold (Well, actually Pea Soup)

After our Montessori adventure, we decided to try to find the Suburban House, a famous Baltimore County delicatessen that has moved around from time to time.   We were anxious to once more experience its remarkable pea soup and perhaps a Kosher hotdog.

We searched through those places where it had been located.. with no luck.  So, discouraged, we headed for home.. just as we hit the Beltway, I saw a sign.. Suburban House Restaurant.. this way.
Yes.. it found us.

We each had the biggest bowl of pea soup ever made, followed by one of their famous Kosher dogs, mine with baloney, of course (actually, it was National Baloney Day, believe it or not).. Their cole slaw on the side is not your mother's cole slaw.  The only bad feature was that the Kosher pickle on the side had lost its Kosher taste.  But, we really enjoyed pigging out on the great food and with our normally chubby bellies bursting with even more chubbiness, we wallowed home to lay down and sleep it all off.

A Marvelous Day!


Tuesday, October 21, 2014

Dee Deardorf; Missiles; BJ's; Itralian Toast Recipe; Tips; Armed Texas Schools; Time to Diet

Another coolish but sunny Fall day.

"Peace is in the grave,
The grave hides all things beautiful and good:"


1.  Another surprise and loss

It was indeed a great surprise to learn today that another friend has died.  Dee Deardorf passed away last Friday, the same day as Doris Smith.  Dee was a real nice person and extremely pleasant.  She used to help run Maryland Public TV Channel 67, out of Owings Mills.  She worked with Miss Jean and Hodgepodge Lodge and was a good friend of Rhea Feiken.  Dee listened to my stories about some of the Channel 67 people, and backed them up.  The last time I spoke at length with Dee was at the Carroll County Historical Society.. one of the docents there used to work with her at the station and contributed lots of interesting information to our conversation.

Rest in Peace, Dee!

2.  Missiles

In my magnum opus, yet to be written.. I'm thinking of having a chapter on material thrown/cast on or by my person.  Some of the chapter stories will be like these:

a.  BB's shot at my by my good friend, Casey, many years ago, and the outcome.
b.  Skunk guts spurted on my car on the way to work.
c.  Poop saved up and  thrown at us kids by an old landscaper as we bicycled by.
d.  The game we kids played where we threw stones and gravel at the kids in the middle.
e.  The '45 bullets shot at me in the Crypto Van by someone I bested at the game of 21.
f.  The snow balls I threw at a passing car, and the driver who wanted to kill me.
g.  The snow ball I threw through the stained glass window of a Whaling Captain's home.
h.  The sneezing powder I threw into a classmate's face and for which I am sincerely sorry.
i.   The 2,000 paper airplanes I threw across the class room and into a closet, as a punishment.
j.  All the unwarranted aspersions that I have cast over the years.
k.  Tantrums I threw when I was a very young teenager and quite stupid.
l.   Etc

3.  BJ's

We went to BJ's today to get some patent medicine that we needed.  Every time we go to that store, the book display gets smaller and smaller.   Once, it held thousands of interesting books at reasonable prices.. now, there are a few hundred.. mostly kids' books, recipe books, some Debbie Macomber paperbacks, and a bunch of Fox News favorites.. Bill O'Reilly and such.  Sad.

Elaine and I each ate one of BJ's quarter-pounder hotdogs.. now with an extra added attraction.. packets of sauerkraut!  Imagine that.

4. My Itralian Toast Recipe

(This recipe was developed when I still thought that I was half-Italian.) 

Ingredients:  2 nice clean eggs (150 calories)
                     2 garlic cloves (20 calories)
                     2 slices Banana Nut Bread or equivalent (180 calories)
                     1 tblspn butter or margarine (100 calories)
                     1 dash water (0 calories)

1. Heat an iron pan on medium for 2 minutes.

2.  Break eggs into a Humpback Whale Mug;  add a little water.  Blend with a small whirrer.

3.  Crush the garlic cloves with a garlic press.. or end of a sharp knife (you know how).  Add the crushed garlic to the eggs in the mug.  Blend with the whirrer.

4.  Soak bread in the egg/garlic mixture.

5.  Grease pan with margarine or olive oil (extra virgin, if  you please).

6.  Add toast to pan.  Pour remaining fluid over the toast.

7.  Cook until golden brown.  Then move onto a clean fat plate.

8.  Add butter or margarine to the top of the toast.

9.  Salt to taste and eat with knife and fork.  (mang' con gusto!)

Servings: 2 granddaughters  (or)  1 Prepop

5.  Wonderful Tips from Readers' Digest

a.  Sprinkle chia, hemp, pumpkin, flax and sunflower seeds on your food.  Lots of neat nutrients there.

(wait a minute.. is chia the stuff that sprouts on cute little ceramic doggies' backs?  and.. doesn't hemp come from marijuana plants?  will we be breaking the law by eating such seeds?)

b.  If you have bags under your eyes, apply hemorrhoid cream, chilled wet tea bags, avocado, cold spoons or cucumber rounds.  RD says that models do so when their eyes get a little puffy. 

c.  If you use the following acronyms, you should learn what they really stand for.

(1)  WD-40 = Water Displacement - 40th formula
(2)  CVS = Consumer Value Stores
(3)  M+M's = Mars + Murrie's, the last names of the candy's co-owners

6. School Daze

The Progressive:  If you were a teen-ager again, where would you like to go to high school?

 If you said that Texas might be nice,  look at this:

The Pentagon recently gave surplus armaments to ten different school districts in Texas, as follows:

64 M16 rifles
18 M14 rifles
25 automatic pistols
magazines capable of holding 4,500 rounds of ammunition
armor plating
tactical vests
15 surplus military vehicles

And this is for schools, not the police!  What the hell is going on?!

7.  Too much good food?

Center for Disease Control and Prevention:  American's waists are growing.  The average is now 38.8 inches and 54% of Americans are now considered obese.

Yesterday, I bought a new sports jacket... I though that a size 44 or 46 would do it.  Instead, I had to get a size 50 in order for the doggone thing to button.  Size 50....!  Big Arnie wears a size 50!  But, he has a few more muscles than I have, even though he's getting up there in age.   So.. Time for a diet!!

Enough for now.