Saturday, May 31, 2014

Coffee; Snowden; Stupid Crook; Bicycle Thieves; Food Thief; Facebook; Dow Jones; Burgers; Bomber and Prayer

Another beautiful sunny 70 plus day!  In less than one hour, I'm supposed to be at a Volunteer Appreciation ceremony.  Even though I said I would attend, one look at my Phantom of the Opera face this morning convinced me that I would just scare people if I showed up.  Maybe later, when my eye decides to unstick, I may try to place a big bandage or bandaid over my scarred face and venture out for groceries.

Wait Wait Don't Tell Me:


Somebody on the show said that Mr. Snowden insisted that he had been hired by NSA as a spy because they gave him a secret alias/code name.  (When I was on top of a mountain in Germany, my code name was Barber Foxtrot.  Well, I quickly found out that it was not a secret code name, but instead part of the nomenclature for the van in which I was located, so everybody who worked there would have that  name..  BF in Air Force talk was Barber Foxtrot.)

The High Life:

Starbucks has now served its most expensive drink.. it has 30 shots of expresso and costs $54.75. (My own choice for coffee is Donut Decaf, brewed in my Keurig machine .. cost = 50 cents a cup. .  Once in a while, I'll treat myself to a Dunkin' Donut decaf with lots of cream... cost = less than one dollar a cup.  Coming from Massachusetts, Dunkin' Donuts played a big part in my early manhood.)

Click and Clack:

Today, my favorite PhD-carrying mechanics from Boston mentioned the experience of a famous stupid criminal in that area:

At 2 AM on a dark night in Boston, the criminal in question visited a lumber yard that had some quarter-inch plywood stacked in an accessible location.  He made sure nobody saw him as he lifted 18 sheets, 1 by 1, and carried them surreptitiously to his car.  Having a regular sedan, the only way that he could get away with his loot was to lay them on the roof of the car and steady them with his arm out of the window.

As he drove at about 5 miles an hour, he was happily advancing toward his brother's house a half a mile away, when all of a sudden, a speeding car swerved by him, causing him to slam on his breaks and stop.  Now he could see the pile of plywood slide forward off of his roof, slicing through his hood, cutting into his engine, and lopping off his headlights. 

Baltimore News:

Bicycle Thieves:

The Baltimore Sun has more information about the kids who stole a bunch of bicycles this week.  May I quote:  "About 50 youngsters poured into Druid Hill Park and stole four dozen bicycles Monday evening that city workers had put out for a popular bike-sharing program, authorities said."

These bikes are marked with big black and white stickers.  Twelve of them have already been recovered.

The Ride Around Program  began in 2006.  I am really surprised that it has lasted this long.  I wonder what the New York City version is experiencing. 

Food Thief:

Baltimore's famous Dine and Dasher "criminal", who has been faking seizures for years to get out of paying in restaurants, has finally been sentenced to 5 years of jail food for his last excursions into beating providers out of cash.

In 2013, for example, at one eatery, he ordered Pork Chops, Macaroni and Cheese, Soup, and several drinks.  After consumption, he appeared to pass out.  911 was called and medics put him into an ambulance.   On the way, he confessed and was arrested.  Usually, when this happened, thanks to Public Defenders, he stayed out of jail.. except for a few 18 months stints.. but this time, a judge lumped a bunch of his exploits together so he could give him that mandatory 5 year sentence.

News in the Carroll County Times;

Money Talks:

Billionaire Mark Zuckerberg and wife Priscilla Chang report that they are donating $120 million to public schools in the San Francisco area.  This is part of $1.1 billion in Facebook stock thay had pledged to the nonprofit Silicon Valley Community Foundation.

The Dow Jones average closed Friday at 16,717.17.  I think that this is the highest it has ever been.  Maybe I'm rich. I'd better check.  (yeah.. sure.. ha)

Seltzer time?

Badass Burgers is now serving breakfast food from a truck along route 140 in Westminster, Maryland.  Are burgers breakfast food?  I wonder what their license cost them.  At one time, I think it was in DC, a license to sell anything on the street cost $350,000 a year and there always was a line of people wanting to get one of the few licenses available.   Now.. how many burgers would you have to sell to make one of those licenses profitable?


What is different about a suicide bombing directed against Syrian Government troops by someone named Moner Mohammad Abu-Salha?  .. He was an American from Florida.


Fellow Carroll Lutheran Village resident, Reverend Lou Piel, wrote about prayer in his monthly religious column.  I liked what he said.. that prayer should be directed to the goals of one's meetings.. just as Reverend Warren Wenger's prayers at the AARP Board Meetings are directed to helping the Board members make decisions for the good welfare of the organization.

I also liked Lou's sentence: "...sometimes we need to hear thoughts or opinions that are different to what we hold dear..."


Friday, May 30, 2014

Bicycles; Curfew; Malpractice; Spelling Bee; Elk; Snowden; Texas politics; Westboro Baptist; Evil; Zeno; Absurdity

I'm excited like a little kid with all that I can put into today's blog entry.  Isn't the world amazing!

Baltimore News:


The Ride Around the Reservoir program has been suspended after 40 of the available bicycles disappeared from Druid Hill Park.   This reminds me of something Emo Philips once said:

"When I was a kid, I used to pray every night for a new bicycle.  Then I realized that the Lord, in his wisdom, didn't work that way.  So, I stole one, and asked him to forgive me."


To curb this kind of illegal activity, the Baltimore City Counsel is about to pass a youth curfew bill.  This will require youths, under 14, to be off the streets by 9 PM.  Parents will be responsible for fines given out for violations.  Groups like the ACLU are not happy with this bill, and they have other ideas that they want to have considered.


A  "practicing" Baltimore area medical doctor has been charged by a 41 year old patient of rape.  Apparently, the doctor must feel that the medical degree he obtained in Costa Rica, gives him a license to  assault and rape women, sometimes at the point of a gun.  I think the Board of Physicians dropped the ball when they gave this guy approval for practicing in this area, because his record supposedly showed that he had problems before and was even in jail for a while for assaulting women.

National News:

Spelling Bee:

Two young men have tied for victory in the National Spelling Bee, held in Oxon Hill, Maryland. Here are some more of the fantastic words that these guys and the other contestants had to spell:

duello = Rules to follow when fighting a duel with your neighbor.
parseval = a non-rigid airship.  (huh?)
cachinnate = laugh loudly
epixylous = growing on wood like a fungus
commorients = people dying together at the same time
laulau = wrapped food
exsiccosis = form of dehydration

My spell checker doesn't recognize 5 of these words, but I am not going to look them up any further.. the definitions that I show are from my Android device.  If I try my Oxford dictionary, I will be hooked on that book for the rest of the day.

The Elks?

Policeman Sam Carter shot and killed a friendly elk that had been roaming and sleeping in a Boulder Colorado sub-division.  Residents loved the elk because it was so friendly; Sam loved it because its head would look great on his trophy wall. Sam says he shot it to protect the residents.  A jury will decide if what Sam says is true.  Meanwhile, residents are building a memorial to the friendly creature.


Mr. Snowden had a TV interview last night that I missed.  I'm told that he said that he was hired as a spy and is a patriot who is disillusioned with Russia and would like to come "home."

Texas Politics:

Some Tea Party candidates won in the Texas Primary. 

Jim Hightower reports that Governor Rick Perry is going all over the U.S. giving speeches,  saying that he is not running for President.  Meanwhile at home, Rick is paying $450 an hour for a lawyer to squash a possible indictment for corruption based on financial investigations.

To stop the investigations by the Ethics Office, the Governor vetoed the entire funding of that office.  However, that ploy didn't work when other money was made available.  Now the investigation has expanded to cover the veto activity.

Heaven Bound?

Westboro Baptist Church bigot, Fred Phelps died recently, and herein I quote part of Miami Herald columnist Leonard Pitts, Jr's eulogistic comments:

"Phelps was given the gift, the incandescent miracle of being alive in this world for over 80 years.. and he wasted it utterly."


World News:

More Civilization?


Two sisters in Lucknow were raped and then hung.  Two police officers have been arrested.


The husband of the woman who was stoned to death by her family revealed that he had killed his first wife.  Also, I have now heard that the real reason for the stoning was that the husband did not pay them enough dowery. Money! Money!


Some brain wanderings for the end of this blog entry:

Alexandra Schwartz opens a column in the Nation Magazine by reminding us of Zeno's paradox about the millet.  Drop a single grain of millet and it won't make a noise, but put a thousand of them in a bag and you'll hear them when the bag hits the ground.  Something to think about.


William James

"First a new theory is attacked as absurd; then it is admitted to be true, but obvious and insignificant; finally, it is seen to be so important that its adversaries claim that they themselves discovered it."

Oscar Wilde:

"People who count their chickens before they are hatched act very wisely because chickens run about so absurdly that it is impossible to count them accurately."


Thursday, May 29, 2014

Spelling Bee; Quiz Kids; Guns; Fat People; Conservatives and Mugwump

I'm writing this today with an eye stuck closed some of the time and with a face that still looks as though I've been scraped along the highway head first after being thrown off of a motorcycle.  Elaine wants to go shopping, and if  we encounter any friends in the stores, I will tell them that Elaine beat me up.

Lots of local news today, but lets go to National News first:

The National Spelling Bee is being held at Oxon Hill.  Comedians and comic writers have been hired to provide sentences for tough words and to make the proceedings interesting to TV viewers.  Some of these kids are able to spell words that I would not believe they had even ever heard before.

Salaam, catalepsy, mastodon, odyssey, belligerent, coloratura, Jacuzzi, and even sporran!

Now, come on, you know what a sporran is...its that pouch that hangs down kind of obscenely in front of your kilt.  It is usually made of skin and fur, and is designed to hold your money, ID cards, or left-over haggis.

These kids are very smart..and yesterday's Carroll County Times had an article about a smart young man (20) who has had a PhD for a couple of years already and who will be using his brain power productively. 

And on this week's  America's Got Talent, a 9 year old loquacious pianist told that panel that he had already "skipped" 5 grades in school and was in the 8th grade.  He said that he would be skipping a couple of more grades this year.  He played well, but a Mozart he wasn't.  I'm afraid that if the panel had "buzzed" him, he would have broken down and had a tantrum right there on stage.  I think that "skipping" grades is not good for all kids, because some kids need peer activity.  My cousin, Charlie, was an exception.  He skipped a couple of grades, but still retained a great personality.... he eventually became a well-known college professor and had a physics discovery named after him.

Do you remember the "Quiz Kids?" Maybe you are too young.  These were smart kids, mainly from New York, who were on a weekly question and answer show.  One of my co-workers at Social Security had been one of those kids.  His name was Murray Freed.. and he definitely was one smart guy.  His brother was also well known..  Bert Freed... you remember him I'm sure.  He was in almost every detective mystery movie.  He was a big tough-looking guy and usually played the gang leader. Murray said that his brother was really a "softie."  I wonder if there is a book about the "Quiz Kids" show ..  a "Where are they now"  type?

But not all kids and young people that are smart have common sense.  For instance, the 22 year old California student who killed six people and wounded 13 in a mad rampage.  Oh.. and he had recently purchased three semi-automatic handguns.. legally. 

And speaking of guns.. what about the three year old who shot his 1 1/2 year old brother with a neighbor's gun?  And he was too young to take the NRA's gun safety course.

Guns were also used to assault and rob Pontius Pilate in Silver Spring.  No.. you Bible reader you, this was an actor who was playing the part in The Last Days of Judas Iscariot.

There is hope though.  The Associated Press reports that 30% of the world is obese, and is getting fatter.  That is good, because fat people do not like violence.  How many fat people's faces do you see on Wanted Posters? 

Local News:

The Carroll County Time published a scathing opinion piece about our current County Commissioners whose accomplishments in office include:

Staging an off-site summit for climate change deniers.
Declaring English as the official language.
Opposing new gun laws.
Hold closed-door meetings.
Upholding religious prayers at open meetings.
Screwing up the Carroll County budget.

Dean Minnich mentioned in his monthly column today that Commissioner Richard Rothschild is calling the three "Conservatives" running together for the School Board, as his "guys."  (Will that kill their chances of being elected?)

Dean also gave some details about the Carroll County "game" of stealing opposing politicians' signs
or else putting their signs up so that the others are blocked.  He mentioned that the husband of one of the candidates was "caught in the act" of playing this game a couple of years ago. 


Carroll County, Maryland average Teacher's salary is $56,670, the 4th lowest in the State.

Maya Angelou spoke 6 languages.

Sebastian Agudelo, poet, has three poems in this issue of the Nation magazine.  One of which has the title: Mugwump.   His first line is ""If you got to look it up, don't use it."

Well, I had not heard the word used for many years, so I looked it up.. and I will not use it after today. It's a Wampanoag word from that tribe that populated my birth State of Massachusetts.  For them, it meant war-lord, or similar.  The colonists adopted the word and this is probably a time line of its usage:

1633:  duke, officer
1800:  boss, bigwig (of a minor sort)
1884:  Republican turncoat, politician who would not commit
(Someone who sits on a fence, his mug on one side, his wump on the other)
Today:  minor official.. self-important and obnoxious


Maya Angelou Wisdom

Dan Rodricks, Baltimore Sun columnist and celebrity, wrote a column today in which he put some quotes from Maya Angelou, who died a few days ago.  In case you do not have access to his column, I will list the quotes here:

"You don't have to think about doing the right thing if you're for the right thing, then you'll do it without thinking."

"There is nothing so pitiful as a young cynic because he has gone from knowing nothing to believing nothing."

"I have found that, among its other benefits, giving liberates the soul of the giver."

"I've learned that you shouldn't go through life with a catcher's mitt on both hands; you need to be able to throw something back."

And.. this is my favorite:

"I've learned that people will forget what you said, people will forget  what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel."

Rest in peace, Ms. Angelou.

Wednesday, May 28, 2014

Monica, Michelle, Mrs. Priest, Stoning, W, Korea, Baltimore Water, Getting Taller, Weaponry, Prayer, Budget and Candidates

After my surgery yesterday, the doctors told me that I might experience pain, a black eye, and maybe even a closing up of my right eye.  Well, they were right.  Yesterday the elephant sat on my eyebrow and today my right eye is bruised and almost shut.  I look like I just got out of a fight with Mohammed Ali.  But I will live to fight another day.  I just may have to hide out today and maybe tomorrow.

World and National News:

Monica Lewinsky Returns:   You remember her, right?  Monica wrote an essay in Vanity Fair bemoaning her fate since her notoriety.  If you want to get a good insight on her story, you can read extended articles about it in The New Yorker, and in The Nation.

Helping Kids Become Un-Healthy:   The Associated Press reports that House Republicans are attempting to allow schools to opt out of the program to follow healthier food guidelines for their cafeterias.  This has made Mrs. Obama mad. 

Mrs. Priest?:  Pope Francis indicates that he might be amenable to a possible change in the 1,000 year rule that Roman Catholic priests should be celibate.  "The door is always open to  change..." says Il Papa.

W:  George W. Bush (former President) just received a new (partial) knee.  He celebrated by walking up and down a flight of stairs.  (Now.. if he just could get  a new brain.... no, no, I didn't mean that.. just fooling.)

Civilization?:  In Lahore Pakistan, a pregnant woman was stoned to death by her family because she married someone she loved instead of the person who was arranged for by the family.

More Dangerous than Baltimore or Detroit?:  It must be very hard to live in South Korea.  The people are constantly bombarded by nuts from North Korea, recently 33 elderly patients and a nurse were asphyxiated in a nursing home fire, 300 or more people are dead or missing in a ferry overturning, and major accidents have occurred recently in two different subway systems.  I wonder if there are muggings on the street there?

Baltimore, Maryland News:

Disappearing Street:  The folks who had their street  disappear during the April rains had good news this week.  They will be able to return  to their homes by June 15th.  The cost to repair and invent a new street will be 18 1/2 million dollars... I think that is just the cost to the City.  I assume the railroad company will pay a bit too.

Don't Drink the Water!:  Baltimore harbor water earned a failing grade for water quality last year.  The year before, it received a C minus.  So please.. no longer "swim or splash around" in the trash and sewage-fouled upper reaches of the Patapsco River.

Even though the score went down, officials say that's just the result of how grades are developed and the water was as disappointingly polluted last year as the year before. But I'm sure everything will turn out better, at least before the harbor catches on fire.

Little People No More:  The Baltimore Sun reports that a young lady from Arkansas has had limb-lengthening surgery at Sinai Hospital.  She has achondroplasia, a form of dwarfism in which limbs do not grow in proportion to the person's torso.

This lady is extremely happy now that she has grown from 3'10" to almost 5'.  Now she can walk without pain, drive the family car, use "normal" sinks, and function in a "tall" world.

I'll have to check to see if Sinai can get me back the 4" in height I have lost just by becoming an old man!

Carroll County News:

Weaponry:  Carroll County is an area where almost everybody is an NRA member and knows what to do with firearms; however, new weapons emerged suddenly this weekend:

1. A man threatened his neighbor with a butcher knife.
2. A woman sliced up her neighbor with broken glass.
3. A man chased and tried to hit his neighbor with a child's scooter.

Prayer:  The Sykesville Town Counsel recently talked about opening future meetings with a prayer instead of the usual moment of silence, because of the recent Supreme Court ruling that such prayers are not unconstitutional.  I thought that one of Counselors made a very interesting comment, when he said that to incorporate a Christian-themed prayer would open the door to all creeds and religions wanting to participate. . 

I wonder if the feisty Carroll County Commissioners have thought of this point yet?  I think not.

CC Budget: Speaking of the Carroll County Commissioners, the 1915 Budget was passed yesterday by a vote of 3 to 2.  The 2 being the usual commissioners that, in my opinion, do not have a serious grip on what it is like to be a rational human being, one who cares for those who are not as well off in wealth or health.  These are the persons who  advocate for closed or offsite meetings, school funding cuts and meeting opening prayers.  Its a wonder anything gets accomplished when the 5 Commissioners get together.  Maybe things will change for the better after the upcoming elections.

Candidates for the Maryland House of Delegates:  I guess I am just dense, but I can't see why one of the Republican candidates wants to show an episode of Criminal Minds to buttress her thoughts on funding.  Elaine likes that show and I do watch it sometimes.. usually, it depicts some nut-case who has figured out a novel way to slowly torture and kill a vulnerable woman or child.  At exactly 8 minutes before the end of the show, the FBI raids the house of the "unsub" and rescues the victim. This is followed by a "post-mortem" kind of session on a jet plane, where a pithy quote from some famous author completes it all. 

This is a well written and produced show, but if my kids were under 21, I would not let them watch it.  Too damn bloody and besides, I'm sure it has given lots of "good" ideas to generations of serial rapists and murderers.  Why it should help us learn why a candidate is running, is beyond me at the moment.  Let's see if Dean Minnick addresses this in his monthly column in the Carroll County Times.


Tuesday, May 27, 2014

Surgery, The Watchman, Cartooning, Health Tips, The Brain and Managers.

Boy have I got a headache!  Today I had surgery to remove the last vestige of forehead cancer.  Now I really am a cancer survivor.  My son went with me in case I couldn't drive, but I was ok.  It was great to be able to talk to my son for two hours.  He's a great guy.  Extremely smart.. and good looking too... he must have gotten those traits from his mother.

My son is a writer and while waiting for me to get carved up, he was reading a book on how to make "war stories" better.  He also knew all about the "Watchman" book that I was just learning about.  I will try to download it to my Kindle Fire so I can see all the colorful graphics and bend my mind a little.  As Tacitus (I think) said:  "Who watches the watchman?"  Why, superheroes of course!

My son is a natural cartoonist.  I practice a lot, but I will never be as good as he is.  I'll bring some of his work up on a blog soon.   His daughters are great cartoonists and graphic artists too.. they have always been into Anime and Manga (sp?)  You know, the Japanese characters with the big eyes.

The other day I bought a small sketch book so that I can draw something every day, and maybe when I am 100 I will be able to create something that really looks like a human.. maybe not, but at least its a lot of fun for me.  I was doing the daily cartooning bit for quite a while about 10 years ago and those are the cartoons that I have plugged into my blogs of that time. Most of my cartoons were lousy...  ah... but a few were good.. so I'll keep on keeping on.

Joke: When my wife and I got married, we decided to share everything, even our checking account.  I got the deposit slips.

Health Tips: What I learned from brochures in the mail and at Hopkins:

1.  The 5 second rule for dropped food  doesn't always work.  Sometimes one gets an instant pick-up of germs.  It depends on how clean you keep your floors.
2.  Cinnamon may help maintain healthy blood sugar levels.
3.  Becoming a vegetarian may lower your blood pressure.
4.  Tomatoes protect some women from breast cancer.

Words of wisdom: George Orwell said: "Dickens told small lies to reveal big truths."

Mystery:  What animal broke a chain and stole our suet holder, which had been a big hit with the birds?  Attached next to it was a bag of so-called squirrel deterrent.  I guess it didn't work.

Brain power:  Sometimes I feel like that poor guy 30 years ago who had a brain operation to relieve him of violent epileptic seizures.  The surgeon decided to remove a big hunk of his brain.   This did take care of his seizures, mostly, but it also caused him to immediately forget everything that happened to him, although, he did have some memory of long past experiences.

For this guy, every day was filled with new and exciting experiences.. and new friends.. he even had to be reintroduced to his doctors because he couldn't remember ever seeing them before. 

Anyway, when he died, his brain was sliced like ham and is constantly being examined, as medics try to learn more about how his brain worked.

I feel like he must have felt when I try to remember whether what I'm saying in today's blog entry is just the same as I said in yesterday's.   I probably repeat myself all the time.. but I'm not going to analyze my entries to see if that is true.. I just hope that I'm consistent in what I say.

My son subscribes to Geek Magazine, a great mind expander.  I was looking at an article in the latest issue about a company that has formed to upload (download?) all of the content of your brain so that you will be immortal.  Your body isn't really you.. is it?  Lately, people I know are getting replacement knees, hips, .. even shoulders.  Why should great minds be confined to broken and twisted bodies anymore?  (More on this later.)

Management:   "Frederick Herzberg dismissed "job hygiene" as motivating..  Instead, he felt that man has a need to achieve, and through achievement experience a psychological growth.  He does suggest letting Mickey Mouse people (who do not want job enrichment) do Mickey Mouse jobs."

I don't know who wrote that, but it reminds me of when I was a manager.  I had three kinds of people in my Branches.. 1.  Super achievers, who loved coming to a new adventure each day.  2. Everyday kind of folks, who did their jobs for 8 hours and then went home, satisfied.  3. The  under achievers, who had to be given those "Mickey Mouse jobs".   Luckily, I had enough jobs to satisfy all three types of folks... usually.  However, a big problem with Government jobs is the "feast or famine" effect.  When that happened, the super achievers would leave to go where they could do some more of that "achieving" stuff. 

After a while, if the jobs kept on being scarce, the everyday folks got antsy too and started to leave... however, the third group never left, and were a big pain in the butt.. usually.  That is where the good manager figures out how to give out "made work" that doesn't look like "made work."

Enough of this stuff.. I'm rambling.. good night.

Monday, May 26, 2014

Memorial Day, Evil Kid, Pot, Mandatory Sentencing, Most Wanted, Birds, JFK Assassination, Whitey, Evil and Villains

Good Morning!  It's a beautiful sunny, hot Memorial Day in Maryland.  Over 85 degrees and climbing.

All over  the State, as  I'm sure it is in the rest of America, parades are weaving through cities and towns in honor of our veterans, living and dead.  Even me... I was technically in the Korean War, even though I spent my 4 year enlistment in Germany, the still bombed-out Germany of the 1950's.

Crazy news!

A 16 year old boy in Scranton told police that he shot and killed a cab driver because he was: "taking the long way and ripping him off."

When the police asked him why that bothered him enough to kill, he responded: "That's what I do to people who don't listen."

Wait for the copycats!

Marijuana:  Candidates for the Maryland House of Delegates from my district were asked their position on the legalization of pot.

Republican candidates gave a resounding NO WAY!  Democratic candidates said LETS WAIT AND SEE how those places that have legalized it make out.

Mandatory Sentencing:  The Alleyne v United States decision by the Supreme Court last  year found that juries, not judges, should decide whether a defendant committed crimes that trigger a mandatory minimum sentence.  This has apparently caused mass confusion in some Court systems, especially in Pennsylvania. Interesting.

Most Wanted:   My colleague, Jim,  on the local TRIAD/SALT counsel, is the guy who puts pictures of criminals in the newspaper each week.  They show up under the Most Wanted heading and some characteristics are listed to  help in identification.   Today, one guy's entry showed: HAIR: Blonde. However, his picture shows a guy with a billiard ball shine where hair should be.  I'll have to needle Jim about that one.

Nice Bird News: A lady named Sue Yingling writes a column in the local newspaper about birds seen in her backyard.  Elaine and I enjoy her insights.  We are privileged to see lots of birds where we live, for instance:  blue birds, red winged blackbird (only one shows up), mocking birds, woodpeckers (2 kinds), blue jays, mourning doves, sparrows, cow birds, chickadees, cardinals, robins, starlings, finches (some yellow), and others like the giant hawks that Elaine often sees but I miss.

Book: I finished Mortal Error: The Shot That Killed JFK by  Bonnar Menninger.  This was the book hinted at by Anonymous when I inquired about the Sun Paper reporter, Ralph Reppert.  When I started the book, I believed that there was a conspiracy about the assassination.  However, having read the book and reviewed the evidence presented over the years by Baltimore Gun Expert,  Howard Donahue, I now believe that the third shot, and the one that killed JFK, was accidently fired by a weapon that was already primed to fire when it was hurriedly picked up by a Secret Service Agent, who was jostled as he stood on the car seat.  I don't think that the Secret Service has wanted to hear that and have ignored and/or maligned Mr. Donahue and his evidence.  Read the book for yourself and decide.

I started to read: Whitey.. a life of Whitey Bulger, Southie Boston's answer to crime in the big city. The book was written by Dick Lehr and Gerard O'Neill.   Reading about his young life in Boston, I am reminded of myself at that age.  My activity paralleled a lot of his.  So... why did I turn out to be a "goody goody" person, and he turn out to be a vicious gang lord and murderer?  I have my theories, which will be included as blog entries from time to time.

EVIL:  The 16 year old boy mentioned above.. as well as Whitey.. and Hitler.. and Stalin.. and others could be called EVIL persons.  Do you believe in SATAN?  Do you think that he causes humans to do bad things?  Why do some non-Christian religions believe in a benevolent SATAN?  Fallen, but still "good" angel?  Challenger of God?  Or.. is EVIL just an evolutionary trait that helped mankind become master of other creatures?  Whatever your belief, keep your eye out for an advertisement for my seminar on EVIL.. probably in August of this year.

Another Book: I just downloaded a book sample to my Kindle because I heard an interview on the Kojo Nambe Radio Show (DC) about it.  The title is Villains, Scoundrels and Rogues by Paul Martin, retired National Geographic official.  I read the first chapter, about the Bristol, Rhode Island merchant who was involved in the slave triangle during the 18th and 19th century.  The triangle was: Shipping rum and household goods from Rhode Island  to the West Coast of Africa, exchanging these goods for slaves and carrying them across the ocean to southern slave cities where the slaves were sold and goods bought to bring back to Rhode Island. Mr. DeWolf was the man who maintained this triangle, even when it was against the law.  His ancestors today are trying to do good works in order to clean up the DeWolf name.

Other villains and scoundrels that I am anxious to read about are:  John Parker, Abraham Lincloln's "would be" bodyguard who disappeared after Intermission, and whose disappearance allowed John Wilkes Boothe free access to Mr. Lincoln.  Also: a Mr. Davenport, who developed the nasty science of Eugenics.  (I am related to Davenports and I need to know if he was a kin.)



Sunday, May 25, 2014

H.L. Mencken, Politics, ID Theft, Credit Reports, Funny Times, Religion, Ambrose Bierce, Prayer, Faith, Boston University, and Harper's Magazine.

Let me open with a political note from Baltimore's own H.L. Mencken:

"If a politician found he had cannibals among his constituents, he would promise them missionaries for dinner."

Today's Carroll County newspaper is once again filled with campaign statements and accusations. Hard to find any real news.  However, there is a great piece on identity theft, some of the information of which I will be passing on to my "crime" session next month at Carroll Lutheran Village.

The main piece of advice from all people interested in your financial protection is:

Check out your Credit Reports!  There are 3 credit agencies (I used to work for one of them) and you are entitled to a free report from each one every year.  It would be good to stagger your requests so that you get to look at a different report periodically.. perhaps in January, May, and September.

As you know, I love the Funny Times, a newspaper consisting of cartoons, sayings, and funny pieces.   I don't think they will mind my mentioning a few things in their latest issue:

Jon Winokur collects funny sayings by so-called curmudgeons:

The most notorious curmudgeon is of course, the above-mentioned H.L. Mencken.  Here is something he said about religion, according to Jon:

"A church is a place where clergymen who have never been to heaven preach about it to people who will never get there."

How true!  And the clergymen themselves will probably never get there either.  Some of the clergymen I have been involved with over the years were just playing a game with people, as you could tell by searching through my blogs for examples.  I'll just recap on one of them...  a certain well-respected married Baptist preacher who sat in a rocking chair while leering obscenely at my Aunt Mary.  He liked her so much that he hired her to call religious questions into his radio show anonymously (questions that he wrote himself.)

The author, Ambrose Bierce, also had something to say about religion.  Here are a couple of quotes that Jon found in Mr. Bierce's famous dictionary:

"Pray, n. To ask that the laws of the universe be annulled on behalf of a single practitioner confessedly unworthy."

An example of such a prayer:   (I was told, while in Virginia Beach, that this really happened.)

A hurricane was coming up the coast and it was predicted that it would hit Virginia Beach.  A famous preacher got lots of people together to humbly pray that the hurricane would change its course and not hit Virginia Beach.  They prayed long and hard.. and lo and behold, the hurricane miraculously did change its course and missed the city completely...   However, the change caused it to instead hit another city in Virginia, with lots of damage and loss of life.

"Faith, n: Belief without evidence in what is told to one who speaks without knowledge, of things without parallel."

I attended Boston University, which is a very liberal college in Massachusetts, but which graduates bucket-loads of  Doctors of Divinity each year (including Dr. Martin Luther King).  How can such a liberal school entice religious folks to study there?

Well, I believe their teaching philosophy is to give Freshmen information that forces them to question their mamas' religions and become rabid atheists or agnostics.  Then, as Sophomores and higher, they can learn to look more critically at the whole religious experience and choose the path they want to follow throughout their lives, or stay unaffiliated with any "faith." In other words, let's clear the plate and no longer take for absolute truth the pablum that may have been fed to us when we were kids. 

I could be wrong.

Mr. Winokur has lots of other curmudgeonly written sayings that he would love to share with us if we subscribe to the Funny Times.

The newspaper also publishes the Harper's Index of facts, so you can get the flavor of Harper's Magazine without paying for the magazine, although I do recommend subscribing to this very enlightening publication. Following is one of Harper's interesting facts. I will rephrase it for those not used to the Harper's Index turn of phrase:

"The number of pubic-hair grooming injuries in the U.S. increased 5 times between 2002 and 2010."

Well, with that startling statistic, I will end today's blog entry and depart to our back deck, to sit in the sun and try to deflect that big bumble bee that terrorizes me every day.  Yesterday, I bought a gigantic fly swatter and I'll try to "knock him for a loop."  What does that mean?.. especially for a very fat bee?  As I've mentioned many times before, I do not want to kill or hurt him in any way.. I just wish he'd go the hell away!


Saturday, May 24, 2014

Anonymous, Political Signs; Profiling; Editorial Cartoon; The Bible; Shootings; Knifings; Levis; Clothes and Underclothes; and Cigarettes

Another glorious day in sunny Maryland.  70 degrees or so and not too humid.  Summertime in May.

Today, I want to thank three of my recent "Anonymous" commenters.

Anonymous #1.  Thank you for your note, but my Japanese is very sketchy and I can't really understand what you said.

Anonymous#2.   Thank you for your note about Godzilla.   However, my Polish is also very sketchy and I cannot figure out much of your comment.

Anonymous#3.  Thank you for the very encouraging note and suggestion that I submit certain of my blog entries to a contest.  I'm glad that you liked the entry about my late wife's birth day in 1937, which had lots of pictures and graphic material embedded.  I haven't gotten back to attachments since I restarted my entries, but I will. 

Now.. for the news from the Carroll County Times:

---One of our Commissioner candidates apparently doesn't want to have his large political signs removed from the side of the road, even though they violate a municipal ordnance.  It seems to me that if one is elected to a position for a certain location, one should follow the legal dictates of that location.  The candidate is probably a nice guy in person.  He can't be bad if he always wears a very large NRA pin on his jacket.  I would like him better, though, if he would stop being so confrontational and relax. Mr. Candidate, like everybody, you will be gone someday,  so why not try to make people happy while you are here, and let them have a good memory of you.

---Another Commissioner says that his political signs disappear rapidly.  He says he has lost over one hundred dollars worth of signs so far this year.

One of Elaine's TV shows always has a "profile" segment, where the good guys outline for the police just how the "unsub" looks and acts, and how he or she was brought up.  So, my profile for a political sign criminal is:  age: 27; height: 5'6"; hair: brown;  eyes: gray;  weight: 150;  single; likes to smoke pot; drives a Chevy pickup truck with chicken wire and burglary tools in the truck bed; .... let's see how that works out.

---The editorial cartoon today is a typical "bad mouth The Man" cheapshot at Obama and shows an IRA person with his arm around a VA person holding a Secret Waiting List.  That's ok, sometimes the CC Times prints liberal leaning cartoons too.  The IRA person appears to have either a real messy baldspot or is wearing a yarmulke.  Right underneath the cartoon is printed the title of a letter to the editor: Vote to Uphold Christian Values.  Do you think that someone will try to link the cartoon and these words?  I'll bet they will.

By the way, part of this letter to the editor asks us to vote for the people who are "in line with God's word.. The Bible..."  Hey, wait a minute.. who owned the Bible first?  Wasn't it the Jewish people?

Now.. news from Baltimore:

---There were two "triple shootings" in two days in Baltimore.  That doesn't count the other shootings and knifings that seem to occur daily, although the Mayor says that crime is down this year and there have been 71 fewer killings compared to last year.

---A jealous District of Columbia experienced a "triple knifing", where there women were robbed and slashed yesterday.  No wonder tourism is down this  year.

---The "do-nothing" House finally interrupted their bill filing, trying to destroy Obamacare and beat Benghazi to a pulp again, to pass an NSA reform bill.  What will the Senate do now?  The President has comments and recommendations for the bill.  Interesting.

Now..  new from Wait, Wait, Don't Tell Me

---The Levi's Company says: Do not wash Levis!.. It's better for the environment.   Huh?  The other day, I saw a 30's lady wearing a very nice blouse, lots of lipstick, 6-inch heels, and torn and tattered jeans (Levis?).. the height of fashion?  I was tempted to give her a few bucks so she could buy some decent clothes.

---A Chinese dress designer has come up with a "Subway Dress", which expands to give you more room during your commute.

--- A man in underwear stole a bread delivery truck and continued to make deliveries to the scheduled stops.

Also.. probably important:

--- The other day I noticed that a carton of cigarettes now costs at least $43.50 a carton.  The Maryland General Assembly is being targeted by an initiative to add another $1 tax on one pack (or $63.50 for a carton).  This is supposed to curb teenage smoking and provide more funding for health projects.   OK by me!

Adios Amigos

Friday, May 23, 2014

Cryptics Success!

This is an extra blog entry today, because I am very pleased with myself about something and I needed to get it all out of my system by writing it down, so I can relax.

For over 20 years I have had a subscription to the BBC Music Magazine, and for that long, I have been trying to complete one of its cryptic crossword puzzles.  Today I did!

Why should I be happy about the completion of a puzzle?  Well, for one thing, it is a British cryptic, normally very hard for most Americans to figure out... next, all of the clues are related to music, usually classical, but not always.

In order to complete such a puzzle, one must be able to figure out cryptics as well as know a bit about composers, conductors, artists and musical theory.  For instance, let me give you some examples from today's puzzle (I'm sure that the BBC Music Mag won't get mad about a little intro to one of their best features.. another great feature of the magazine is the CD that accompanies it each month.. almost always classical, but once in a while Jazz.)

Clue:  Composer leaving a bench that's collapsed.

Answer: Offenbach

Get it?

How about another?

Clue:  Radio broadcast involves new advance.

Answer:  Inroad

That's as far as I'm going to go.  Unfortunately, these two examples are the two easiest clues this month, in my opinion. 

If you would like to learn how to do cryptics... or, if you would like to learn how to get a subscription to a great music magazine, let me know.

Bye again.

Rolling Thunder, Incense, Boils, Nazis, GI Bill, The End Times, Slide Fire, Party Affiliation and AARP

Today and tomorrow are big days in DC for those who love motorcycles.  Tomorrow, DC will host "Rolling Thunder" where thousands of Harleys visit the Heart of our Nation.  And today the National Cathedral will hold "the blessing of the bikes."  I wonder how they do that.  Do they sprinkle holy water or incense on them?

Looking into religious practices, I noted that the use of incense in the Catholic masses was to cover up the smell of their unwashed attendees.

When my late wife's grandmother died in the late 1950's, I was a pall-bearer, and sat on an aisle seat near the casket. The funeral was held in St. Joseph's Catholic Church in New Bedford, Massachusetts, an enormous, cathedral-like edifice.  During the service, one of the priests swung a large incense holder over the casket for a while, and then, he walked over next to me and swung it 5 or 6 times in my vicinity.  Did he know that I wasn't a Catholic?  Or did I just smell bad?

---Speaking of smells, I've told this story before.. at one time when I was in the Air Force stationed in Germany, I developed a very painful boil on my neck.  I went to the Air Force doctor to get it taken care of.  This doctor was a German national who had enlisted in the US Air Force and was made a Captain.

The first thing this doctor asked me (in his very broken English) was: "You need to wash up before you come to see me."  Huh!  I took a long shower every morning and had just stepped out of one before I got there.  I was highly insulted, but all I was allowed to say was "Yes, sir."

Obviously, this doctor had been and probably still was,  a Nazi, because he took great pleasure in his painful treatment that day, and every day after that for about a month.  First, he lanced the boil and dug a gaping hole in my neck, which he proceeded to fill with thread.. at least a mile's worth, if I estimated correctly.  Then, he had me come back the next morning, where he rapidly pulled out the thread, grabbed another thimble and shoved another mile's worth into the hole.

After a month's time, I guess he decided that his torture would not get any Top Secrets out of this American cryptographer and gave up, leaving me instead of the hole, a big bump on my neck, which probably concealed a lot of thread, and which I carry to this day.

---Did you know that a boil problem like I had would have qualified as a 5% service-related disability and would have allowed me to have all of my college class books paid for under the GI Bill.  I did not know that, so I had to sometimes decide if it was more important to put food on the table or suffer my professors' snide remarks about me not having class books available at the start of a semester.

---The Westminster area will be welcoming Dr. Thomas Ice at the end of May.  He will be giving an "End Times" seminar. (I hope he makes it on time.) A couple of topics for discussion: 1. Current Events in Light of the Bible.  2. Battle of Gog and Magog.  The subject of "the end times" has been around since before Jesus' birth.. but we are still here.  It's still a good moneymaker though, I guess.

---I have been concerned about the title of a large fire in Arizona called the "Slide Fire."  Everything I read until today has mentioned it as though everybody knew why it had that name.  Finally, in the fifth Google article I read, I learned that the fire was "north of Slide Rock State Park."

The other "Slide Fire" is a company that manufactures "pure American firearm components."

---I mentioned party affiliation the other day and today one of the Carroll County Republican candidates for office has accused another of talking her Democratic friends into switching part affiliation so that they  can support her in the Republican Primary.  There is a problem this time for Republicans because of Democratic Gerrymandering based on the 2010 Census.  Shoe-in areas for some Republicans have become unwinnable districts because Democratic areas have overwhelmed the Republican areas.  Such is politics.  Both parties love to Gerrymander when they can.

---I received a couple of nice emails from Patti Ritter of the Carroll County Times.  She did slight changes to some of my submissions because of dates and titles that I messed up.  She will be publishing all that I sent shortly.  Now I won't be lynched by my fellow AARP Board Members.


Thursday, May 22, 2014

Rogue Goats Again, HERB the Robot Actor, VA care, Happiness in Iran, Unhappiness in France, and Party Affiliation.

Hey! Lots of interesting news today.

A second "head-butting rogue" goat has been captured.  Good work!  Let's keep those kids off our streets.*

Carnegie-Mellon University in Pittsburgh has put on a one-act play with a robot as second banana. Besides being an actor, HERB (Home Exploring Robot Butler) has learned how to separate OREO's, load a dishwasher, open the refrigerator and take a book down off of a shelf for you to read.

The play mentioned above was: Sure Thing, by absurdist playwright David Ives. I'll bet that our Carroll County rogue goats would be good actors too, if we would just give them a chance.

The U.S. has sent 80 military personnel to Chad.. next to Nigeria.  Hopefully, with the help of our troops and drone fleet, we will be able to locate these sub-human Boko Haram characters and get those kidnapped girls back to their homes.

On the Diane Rheem Show this morning, some top-level guys were arguing about the VA and their care of veterans.  As I've said before, I've heard nothing but good reports about VA hospital service.  However, the American Legion President is pushing to have all high-level managers fired (at least, that is my understanding)...  I think this would be a major mistake and I think it is right for Obama to stick with his VA crew unless drastic mismanagement is proven.

Iran has arrested  7 "happy" young people for engaging in "decadent Western behavior" on social media.. that is, they were "happily" dancing.  Shame on those stupid youngsters for trying to make Iran a "happy" place!

Some French engineers have rouge faces today.  In planning for 341 high-speed trains, they failed to notice that the trains would not be able to stop at any one of France's 1,000 train stations, because they were too fat.

Dean Minnich had a column today in the local newspaper, in which he mentioned that 900 Democrats in the County had changed their party affiliation to Republican so they would be able to vote in the upcoming Republican primary and perhaps help get rid of these incompetents that we now call our County Commissioners.  At least, I think that is what he said.. I will read his column again to see if he really approves that action or not.  A little unclear to me, I think.

I changed my affiliation to Independent some time ago, to show my disgust with some of what goes on by politicians of both sides.  So now I can't vote in the primary election.  That was kind of dumb of me. 

A Dieu!

* PS The Carroll County Humane Society has now reported that the goats recently caught are no longer "rogue" goats, but "horny" goats, that cannot be let outside of the compound. Fences would not be a deterrent to them and nearby farmers would have to hide their female goats.  (Reminds me of magazine that used to be published:  Satyr Dairy View.)  The goats' former owners will probably never be known, because they might be asked to pay for the damage the goats did when they were still "rogue."

Wednesday, May 21, 2014

Senior Calendar, Stupid Criminals, Elevators, and Matzohs.

This was my calendar for today (typical for a senior citizen?)"

10 am Maryland Senior Citizen Hall Of Fame.. board meeting
11 am Carroll Lutheran Village .. Train the Brain program
2:30 pm  Amazon Self Publishing seminar
2:30 pm  Haircuts.. for Elaine and me

When I got up at 7 am, it was raining cats and dogs and I felt hung over because I had not slept more than an hour (too much to think about).. so I did the Senior Citizen thing, and canceled 3 of the 4 scheduled activities..opting to keep only our haircut appointment..

Why do I tell you that?  Just to show how independent I am in my old age.

We really needed to get to the haircut place because we wanted to learn more about their last week's excitement. A young (29 years) guy was successful in holding up a bank and a fast food place a couple of weeks ago, by brandishing a kitchen knife. However, as soon as the money ran out and he needed another "fix," he thought that he would knock over an easier mark, namely a beauty shop.  Surely, those broads would give in easily.

Well, was he in for a surprise!  He came in and brandished his knife and asked for all the money in the cash register.  The lady in charge (close to 70 years old, I'm told) asked him who the hell he thought he was and slugged him with a broom.  He made a fast getaway, almost losing his pants, as all  the ladies laughed and jeered.  The heroic slugger noted the look of his underwear and was able to give the local police that vital clue, which allowed them to catch the guy.  I really like this story.. it's a lot like one of Mr. Bean's episodes.

Another bright light in the annals of crime is a  young (also 29) man who robbed 7 London jewelry stores.  Unfortunately for him, he left his cell phone at store number 7.  Police quickly noticed that he had put his "selfie" into the phone as his screen saver.

It's a good thing that Elaine and I didn't go up in the recently reopened Washington Monument when we visited Mount Vernon, because Elaine would be blaming herself for the failure on numerous occasions last week of the high speed elevator.  She has a history of problems with elevators on buses, mansions, and theaters.

After the recent Passover season, Matzohs were put on sale at enormous discounts at Giant Supermarkets.  I like Matzohs and they are good for my diet, so I purchased a group of 6 packages that normally cost around $14.. for (can you believe it?)  $1.  What a deal! Anyway, I encountered a recipe today that will allow this goy to use up some of these crackers on a regular basis.

Soak 2 matzohs in warm water for 20 seconds to slightly soften them.
Melt 1 tbspn butter over medium heat.
Crumble the Matzohs into bite size and add to a skillet.
Add two beaten eggs and cook until set.
Place on serving plate after adding some diced brie on top.

Sounds delicious... this will become my breakfast  for a little while.  If I try to use up my Matzohs this way, I calculate that this will take 20 weeks... not counting Sundays when Elaine and I always have SOS.


Tuesday, May 20, 2014

Godzilla's Grandpa, Maryland State Police, Carroll County Times, and Primary Elections


1.  The thigh bone of Godzilla's great, great grandfather has been found in Argentina.

Based on the length of this bone (7.9 feet), scientists estimate that Grandpa G was over 66 feet tall and 132 feet long! 

(Still a little guy, compared to the current day Blue Whale, whose tongue weighs as much as an African elephant.)

Burning question:   Since Grandpa G weighed about 176,000 pounds, how many trees and elephants did he have to consume to get enough calories for day-to-day existence?

 2. The Maryland State Police stopped 300 cars on Interstate 95 last Saturday.  Almost that many citations were issued for infractions, including new ones that Marylanders are subject to, such as talking or texting online while driving, and failing to move over when passing police cars on the side of the road.

Burning question:  Are out of State drivers subject to Maryland laws that they know nothing about? Or, is this similar to those traffic laws in small Georgia towns, designed to add money to their measly coffers by targeting unknowing drivers?

3.  The Carroll County Times has apparently divorced AARP.  They have not published anything I have sent to them for a long time that is connected with that organization.

I probably should not complain too loudly because my NARFE group gets its pictures in regularly, and Carroll Lutheran Village does as well.    Maybe they are saving them up for a future "spread." 

I have been told that there is a big backlog at their office.. and the paper has recently been sold, and there might be less interest in local events as before.  

It's time to send them another press release and see if they print it.

4.  Election time is fast approaching.  During June, the Party Primaries will be held.  Carroll County is definitely a Republican County, and in order for a Democrat to win an election, they have to change party affiliation.  Commissioners, States Attorneys, and Sheriffs were all Democrats in previous incarnations, I believe.

I changed my affiliation from Democrat to Independent..  This is ok because it indicates my true status, but I therefore do not get to vote in a party related primary.. so I disenfranchised myself.  Dummy!

Enough of this nonsense, Joe!

Ralph Reppert and JFK

Yes, people do read my blog entries.. believe it or not.

Usually, I get Chinese and Japanese responses from "Anonymous", and once I got a message from an Oriental reader saying that my blogs would be required reading in English language classes.   Sometimes, I get responses with embedded advertisements for the usual Viagra-type products.  However, I do read my anonymous comments and whenever I get an interesting one, my juices get moving. Such an interesting "Anonymous" response appeared in my email list yesterday.

In 2009, I published an entry in which I asked if anyone knew what happened to Baltimore Sun reporter, humorist and cartoonist, Ralph Reppert  "Do you remember Ralph?"  Yesterday, 5 years later, I got an answer, which I will duplicate below, in part.

From the Wikipedia page on "Mortal Error: The Shot That Killed JFK is a 1992 non-fiction book by Bonar Menninger."

"Donahue was encouraged in his investigations by Ralph Reppert, a reporter for the Baltimore Sun. In 1977, Reppert published Donahue's theory {on the assassination of President Kennedy} in two articles, which appeared on Sunday, May 1 and the following Sunday, with the second article accompanied by an editorial.  These two men were keen to collaborate on a book on the subject, but this was cut short by Reppert's ill health and subsequent death..."


Apparently, Mr. (Howard) Donahue's continued push for a book related to his theory, led to the book mentioned above by Mr. Manninger.  

With my interest piqued, I downloaded a sample of the book and found the first three chapters very well written.  So, I purchased the book from Amazon, and downloaded it to my Kindle and look forward to finishing it.

My ideas on the assassination at the time seemed to me logical and probably were triggered by
The Manchurian Candidate.

1. A SWAT team fired at the President, from several locations.
2. Oswald was a "loser" and not a marksman.
2. Oswald was just groomed to be the Fall Guy, and couldn't be allowed to talk.
3. Jack Ruby was an undercover CIA guy, planted in the Dallas underworld.

The Warren Commission (which included Gerald Ford, by the way) concluded that there was no conspiracy and Oswald was the sole shooter and "that was that."

The biggest problem with my own conjecture.. people don't keep secrets for 50 years.. unless all the conspirators  including the last person (like a Tontine) was dead. 

Anyway, as I read the book mentioned above, if anything jumps out at me, I will let you know.

Monday, May 19, 2014

Wait, Wait, Don't Tell Me, Radio Shows, Search and Replace, Kirtland Warblers and the Buzzard Bash

Well, I think that I have gotten through a whole week of blog entries.. that means that I have successfully started up again.  We'll see.

My favorite radio show, Wait, Wait, Don't Tell Me, was on again on Saturday (sometimes it's superseded by fund raising.. but that stopped on Friday.  Carl Cassell, the famous announcer has retired from announcing and will, instead, be the show's vote counter.  Carl's mellifluous voice has been heard for many years and he will still place his voice on the answering machines of show winners.

I will quickly repeat myself about my friend, Pete Mandell, a radio announcer who traveled with me daily on our long trips to Boston University.  Even while an under-graduate, Pete had a radio show in New Bedford, from 4 pm to 5:30 pm every day.  He used his real name for this show: Pete Mandell;  from 5:30 to 6 pm each day, he traveled to neighboring Fall River, where he had a show from 6 pm to 8 pm under the name: Paul Mills.  Nobody in those towns knew this was the same person.  He even had a rivalry going between the two stations.

I lost touch with Pete for a while, and met him again at a High School reunion, where he confessed to me that he also had another program each day at a Middleborough radio station.  I can't remember the name he told me he used for that one.. but I'm sure it had the initials: PM.

Boston University was kind of loose with its attendance requirements, and Pete used to make the rounds of the Boston radio stations and sound studios instead of sitting through boring lectures.  Pete had one of most inventive minds of anyone I have ever met, and our daily two hour trips to Boston were really "trips."

This week, after WWDTM, I listened to Radio Lab.  Part of the show was spent discussing the Search and Replace function of Word Processors.  As we all know, of course, the computer can be set up to look for certain words or phrases, and replace them with other ones.   For instance, if you had a long newspaper article that you were writing about Carl Rove (why on earth would you want to?).. and suddenly realized that in the 50 times you wrote his name in the article, you misspelled his first name Karl. Rather than going through word by word, you could set the computer up to scan your article and wherever you found Karl, it would change it to Carl.  A nice function to have.

During the program, a couple of examples were mentioned where this function caused unforeseen results:

An author decided to change every reference in his story about lifestyles from "gay" to "homosexual".  This was ok, until that part of the story that told about an athlete named "Tyson Gay."

A newspaper decided it was not polite to call newsman Walter Chronkite  by just his last name, for example: "In the evening, Chronkite reported on the event."  They plugged in instructions, so that everytime Chronkite appeared in a news story, it would be changed to Mr. Chronkite.  Well, their ideas about Walter's longevity were greatly exaggerated, and when he died, their obituary said, in part:  "In attendance at Mr. Chronkite's funeral, was his wife, Cathy Mr. Chronkite, and his son, Walter, Mr. Chronkite, Jr.

Later in the program, they did a piece on the Kirtland Warbler, a Michigan bird that becomes extinct if it doesn't encounter new tree growth from burnt forests.  Conservationists who want to preserve this specie of warbler, arrange for controlled burns.  However, as expected, the burns do not always work the way they are planned, and humans and buildings get burned as well.  Consequently, some people in Michigan wish the bird would become extinct and root for cowbirds that sneak their eggs into warblers' nests.  The warblers are too dumb to recognize the new eggs and resulting gigantic baby birds and feed them while their own fledglings die of malnutrition.

My friend, Ivan Gibbs, knows all about Kirtland Warblers and at coffee break time, he and I and other folks sometimes spent time talking about birds, as well as the Buzzards Bash, that takes place in Hinkley, Ohio each year, when the buzzards come home to roost.

Bye bye, Birdie.

Sunday, May 18, 2014


Another nice Sunday.. not too warm, not too cool, just right.  These are the kind of days when my grandfather would "go to church on the radio."  He would spend his Sunday mornings scanning the dial until he found a service he liked.  He would listen to any he could find until the baseball game came on in the afternoon. 

He and his friend Joe Cronin would sit in front of the radio, staring at the  yellow dial light and experience every game as though they were there, at the ballpark.   While they watched, they would do the "beer thing", which I have mentioned before.  Under the table on which the radio sat, was sometimes hidden a case of Dawson's Beer.. a locally brewed lager beer.  This was not known by my grandmother for many years.. She had been the official piano player for the hymns that were sung at the weekly Temperance Union meetings and she had tried to keep my grandfather away from booze for all of their married years.

While my grandfather and his friend watched and listened to the game, they were also attuned to where my grandmother was located.  When she was not nearby, they would each sneak drinks of their beer, which was in cans shaped like bottles, and sometimes bottles shaped like cans.. but never cans shaped like cans, or bottles shaped like bottles... that came many years later.   Right now, I'm talking Depression  Years (1930's).

When the containers were empty, they would slide the window screen over and throw them down into the alley,  8 or 10 feet below.  Over the  years, the alley amassed a mountain of empty beer containers, never noticed by my grandmother because my Aunt Marjorie would wash that window when it was needed. 

However, one Sunday my grandmother decided to wash the window herself, after my grandfather and Joe had slipped off for a walk in the sun (actually to go to the nearest pub.)  As my grandmother leaned out to wash the outside of the window, she saw the pile of containers.  I had never heard my grandmother yell like that before, and I sure did not know that she knew all of those cuss words!

Dawson's Beer was brewed in New Bedford, Massachusetts for many years.  In the late 1950's I got to taste it "in the rough."  While I was finishing my degree at Boston University, I spent my evenings driving a cab in New Bedford.  One of my steady customers worked at the brewery and invited me in to have a drink while I waited for him.  The potable in question was retrieved from a rusty faucet over a not altogether clean tub.  But it apparently ran through refrigeration of some kind and it was cold and GOOD!  Of course, today, I would never dream of driving after wetting my beer whistle like that.  Times change.

Saturday, May 17, 2014

Preakness, Yard Sales, Tomato Plants, Walters Art, and Restaurants

What a beautiful day for Baltimore's Preakness!  Sunny, 65 degrees, low humidity, and a fast track.  Lots of people getting drunk in the infield.  A few years ago, the infield was closed to the public because they trashed it.  But... the public prevailed, and its once again a playground for the drunks, show-offs, nudists, and nuts of all kinds.. including some folks that are there for the races.

Elaine and I love the races.  The last time we were at the racetrack we actually made money.. and the restaurant connected with it serves seafood, the smell of which, will make you ravenous.    I wish that I had thought earlier about the Preakness.. I would have treated my kids and their families to it.  Of course, then Chris and Kathleen would have to have postponed their yard sale.

The yard sale was probably the best-looking one that I have ever been to.  No junk.   I bought two opera CD's for $1 each. (I made Chris take the money, he wanted to give them to me.  He's a great son!)  Cosi van Tutti in English...Hear that?  It's Herr Mozart rolling over in  his grave.  Also, Le Nozze di Figaro... in Italian this time.  My copy in VHS is awkward to play.. I have to find a VHS to play it on.... but the CD can be played in our RAV4.

Unfortunately, our RAV4 doesn't have a cassette player, and I think that our next car will only have an MP3 player.. then what do I do?

My next stop was my daughter, Diane's house.  She had some great looking tomato plants for me, as well as some flower plants.  Now, I need to get my motivation moving and get these things and my Earth Boxes planted.  I can't blame the possibility of frost for my inaction any more.  I just have to get off of my dead ass. (excuse me for being blunt, but true)

 Hey.. good news in downtown Baltimore... the world-famous Walter's Art Gallery has digitized and catalogued 600 works of art that can be now accessed.. including some Mary Cassatt's that haven't been thought of much while they were hidden at the Walters.

Carroll Lutheran Village is having a Mystery Trip next week.. however, the trip is not handicapped accessible so Elaine can't go in her wheelchair.  So.. my task is to take her on our own mystery trip at the same time.  I have a couple of ideas.  There are lots and lots of good restaurants in the Baltimore/DC area.  Tomorrow, my three kids and their spouses will accompany us to Baugher's Restaurant in Westminster, Maryland for a nice supper meal.  It's a country restaurant and Elaine knows the owner from swimming rehab sessions at Change, Inc.

That's enough for today ... 

Thursday, May 15, 2014

Social Security Alumni Luncheon, Mail Order Scam, Behold I Knock, Goats and Squirrels

Today was a wonderful day.  Elaine and I attended the 40th annual reunion luncheon of the Social Security Alumni Association, of which I am the perpetual president.  It was great spending time with old and new SSA buddies.  Peggy Syzmanski, who works in our office won a $ door prize and then won the 50-50 for more $. Lucky!

We all pigged out on homemade (mostly) desserts, including some sticky little poor excuses for brownies that I made.   I bought the mix at Home Goods.. and it was from some foreign company.  I should have known better and bought the mix at Giant.

Before I go on, let me tell you about a scam that I thought I could avoid.  Mail brochures often arrive with offers that you can't afford to pass up..  once you sign up to get the dirt cheap item, more items (at bigger prices) begin to show up in you mail box.  No matter how many of these you send back unopened and no matter how many times you tell them you don't want these items, the companies completely ignore you.

Such was the case when a company offered a book about 1942 for a couple of bucks.. like a dummy, I sent for it.. and it really was a nice book.   Along with my payment, I told them not to send me any more.  Did they listen?  Hell no!  A short time later, another book showed up, which I sent back to them unopened.  Today, I got a bill for that book, plus another that has never shown up, with a late charge!  Shame on me for getting hooked.  However, they will never get another cent from me and I will be reminding my policemen and civilian friends at my next  TRIAD/SALT meetings about this scam.

So you too will know... the company is Live It Again Books, PO BX 8000, Big Sandy, TX 75755-8000.

I'll be also talking about this scam, as well as others at my crime presentation in June 2014 at Carroll Lutheran Village in Westminster, MD. 

Speaking of crime... yesterday the radio announcers at Baltimore's WMAR station were startled to hear someone banging on their locked door, asking to be let in.  It was GOD!  (or so he said)  When he didn't gain entry, he just put his truck in gear and blasted through the door. His beneficence apparently kept him from hitting anyone.  I trust that his future cell-mate, Bubba, will be very pleased to make the acquaintance of a demiurge.

The police in Eldersburg, Maryland,  are searching for one or two rogue goats which are terrorizing the neighborhood. This deserved a headline in today's Carroll County Times

Also, a rogue creature, which I suspect to be a squirrel stole the suet feeder which I had chained to my side porch railing  (.. could it have been one of the goats instead?)  The culprit (or should I say Unsub?) left the feeder under a bush when it couldn't get it open because of wires that I had put around it.  However, the rascal did manage to suck most of the suet out through the holes in the holder.  I'll have to think of some other way to preserve suet for the birds because I can't have an unknown creature besting me!

Well, I have so much to talk about... and no time left to do so.... hope to see  you next time.

Wednesday, May 14, 2014

Literature, Non-Profits, and My Brother Joe

Lisa Albin, information person for Carroll Lutheran Village called me this morning in an attempt to assuage me for complaining about the editing of an entry of mine for our Creative Expressions magazine.  I had attempted to write a short piece about a former SSA secretary who had been a twin, and how that fact affected many of us at the time of her death.  The editing committee decided that my sentences were too short and my spacing too long.  I disagreed.  I felt that this was the way I wanted it to be.. similar, in my mind, to the work of Norman Mailer or Earnest Hemmingway. 

Lisa, a very nice person by the way, suggested that instead of editing, a phrase might be added under the title:  ala Earnest Hemmingway..  or:  in the style of Norman Mailer.   I agreed.

Lisa has also been very successful in getting pictures for CLV into the local paper.  However, she did tell me that there is a large backlog of pictures at the paper and it may take a long time to get something published.  I have about 7 pictures that I've been waiting to see.

In addition, the local paper has been sold.. so, I expect big changes coming soon in how they handle news and pictures coming in from Non-Profits, speaking of which:

Our Carroll County, Maryland, commissioners (5, count-em), when they are not busily praying and conducting off-County Conservative forums, have granted another $400,000 to be given out to home-schoolers and private-schoolers to cover their non-scholastic expenses.  They granted a previous $400,000 last year.. not all of which we're told has been given out yet.  Democrat Neil Ridgely  was published today questioning this practice of giving out so much money to a Non-Profit.. The "catch-all" non-profit group that handles this  money, is run by an honest lady.. but some are concerned that somebody else in her office might consider the temporary usage of that money to be appropriate.  I hope not, but $800,000 in available funds might be an enormous temptation.   As Bruce Lohr says:  There is no crime unless there is an opportunity.

The Non-Profit group is not required to account for the use of the  money... can you believe that? We, in TRIAD/SALT for Carroll County, were told once that we could apply to get covered by the CC Non-Profit group, but I could not see any use to that for us unless we decided to expand "big-time" and needed to solicit funds.  Our source of expense money comes from the sale of old cell-phones and they do not bring in much money at all.

Change the subject, Joe:

My brother, Joe, who lives in Ohio, turned 78 yesterday.  I have a card for him, but I've lost his address again and I don't have his phone number. It's tough  to get old!  Anyway, a while ago, he sent me a literary "bucket list".. a short list of books and movies to see before dying.

1. Jack London:  To Build a Fire

(There are several versions.. I downloaded them all to my Kindle and reread them.)

2.  Earnest Hemingway:  A Man of the World

(Looking forward to reading it.)

3.  Shirley Jackson:  The Lottery

(A classic that I enjoyed again recently.)

4.  Mark Twain: Literary Offenses of James Fennimore Cooper

(Must be the only MT writing that I haven't read yet.)

5.  Movie:  Bagdhad CafĂ©

(Haven't seen it  yet.)

6.  Movie:  Pritzzi's Honor

(Can't remember it, so maybe I didn't see it yet.)

My brother has great insight when it comes to matters of the mind, so I will make every effort to acquaint myself with these works.

By the way.. a little set of statistics on Baltimore by the  Nation magazine (my favorite).

Life expectancy in a not so classy anymore neighborhood:  63
Life expectancy in a still classy neighborhood:  83
Median household income in the first neighborhood: $13,000.
Median household income in the second neighborhood: $90,000.

A worthy goal would be to get  a lot of folks FREE educational opportunities, so they can get  good, well-paying jobs.. so they can migrate from the first neighborhood to a neighborhood similar to the second.   Does anyone in Congress share my view?  I don't think so.


Tuesday, May 13, 2014

Summer in May, Hopkins, Baltimore's Washington Monument, Fan Club and Snyder's Willow Grove

Well.. Summer is here already.  85 degrees in Westminster, and 92 in downtown Baltimore, Maryland.

I spent another couple of hours today at the Dermatology Surgery Department of Johns Hopkins Hospital.  They covered my eyes so I wouldn't see the blood, as they sliced a cancerous lesion from my right forearm. The cutting and sewing were done with absolutely no pain felt by me. Whatever was incised will be reinterpreted to see if there might be more left to extract....

Leaving the hospital, as usual, I got on the wrong one-way street and had another nice tour of downtown Baltimore.  I see that the Washington Monument in Mount Vernon Square (Baltimore, not DC) is enclosed by scaffolding with stairs showing through glass or clear plastic so that the bosses can watch and make sure nobody is goofing off.  Maybe not true.. but anyway, the effect is eye-catching, like a piece of modern art.

I was wrong yesterday about DC's Washington Monument.  It had been weakened by an earthquake, not by a weather event.

On the way home from Hopkins, I spent a while grocery shopping at Giant.  Sometime in the process, I dropped one of my "Joe Vaughan Fan Club" pens.  I couldn't find it.  I wonder if the sweeper will notice the legend and keep the pen for me to pick up. 

When I write these blog entries, I always feel like London's Samuel Pepys, who chronicled everything that happened to him for years.  Pepys did not think that anyone would ever read his diary entries, but I think that mine will be read, at least by my son, Chris, who was my first "follower" and an excellent blogger himself.

My medical adventure caused me to miss the monthly gathering of some Social  Security Alumni folks at the Tokyo Buffet in Woodlawn.  You do not want to miss that place!  Indescribable food.. half of which is Oriental and half of which is European.  You know an Oriental restaurant is good when a large number of clients are of Oriental extraction.

There is a sad restaurant note though.   Because of the recent flooding by the Patapsco River, Snyder's Willow Grove will be closing.  This was their 7th flooding over the years and they finally gave up.  A shame.. although it wasn't a famous place like Hausners, it did have good food and a loyal clientele.  We had our Social Security Alumni functions there for  years.  However, our members let us know a couple of years ago that they would like to try someplace else for a change.

We tried the Candlelight Inn last year (another classy place),  but this year they decided to sell.  We finally decided on a place called Bare Bones for this  year's annual luncheon.  Why don't you join us, we are going to have a lot of fun and you can try my famous brownies (we bring our own desserts.).

Monday, May 12, 2014

Back Again!

(This is an unpublished account of my medical problems in 2012 and 2013.  Skip it unless you want to hear a boring story.  However, members of my family should read it, because of the hereditary information.)

I'm back from fighting leg wounds that  would not heal! After spending a while at the local hospital's wound care facility.. it was decided that I would need other eyes to look at my condition and try to figure out  why I had a constant 10+ pain level, even with the usual amount  of  pain killers given to people with bad wounds.  So, off I went to the very best hospital in the  world (look it up)..  Johns Hopkins in Baltimore.

Their first line of attack was to eliminate the constant pain.. which was accomplished with a massive combination of narcotics, high density pain patches and other medications.  Once done, they were able to redo all of my prior tests and discovered that the blood going down my legs, was not being returned.. a condition that I discovered was one of my mother's late-life conditions... and is hereditary. 

An ablation procedure was prescribed on one of  my legs.. that's cauterization of clogged veins.. this was a traumatic experience for me because they  treated it as a major procedure rather than a relatively minor procedure that  it normally is and gave me serious sedation. My mind did not appreciate the drugs that were applied to keep me sedated and I had a major nightmare type of waking up... I imagined I was in a coffin and a roomful of people were peering down at  me and talking.  It was so real I had the fun of reliving it (so to speak) over and over for a couple of weeks.

Anyway, I refused to have the second leg done soon... and my  major wound care doctor agreed with me and said that I was  too old a dude anyway to have the second leg done, but that would not be necessary as long as I did my post-op exercises and such for the rest of my life... this includes the squeezing of my legs by big blue coverings for two hours each day.. and the wearing of tight stockings almost all of the  time.

Once my leg condition cleared up,  I was very happy and felt good.. however, now I had to go through a couple of months of major withdrawal symptoms from all of the drugs I had become used to.   You've heard of these symptoms... so I'm not going to mention them here.. suffice it to say, I was not the nice person I normally am during that time!

Mount Vernon and George

Today was a very interesting day.  About 50 of us Carroll Lutheran Village folks took a Rill's Company bus to George Washington's home at Mount Vernon, Virginia.  The rain held off until 5 pm, so we had nice weather

And guess what?  The wheel chair lift worked!  I think I have mentioned the problem we had in Philadelphia with the same bus.  We froze our fingers working on the lift for two hours until somebody figured out how to work it manually with a pair of pliers.

Also, last week, on an Eyre's Bus to the Maryland State Archives in Annapolis, the lift did not go either up or down.  Elaine was first stuck for a while in limbo, until it suddenly worked. Later, it wouldn't work again, and we had to wait for an Eyre's mechanic to drive down from Baltimore to figure out how to get it to work. He never did figure it out, but he did finally get it to go up and at our destination, to go down.  Nobody knew why.  At least Elaine didn't have to sleep on the bus.

Today, our only bus problem was the narrow seats where one had to suffer painful "cheek separation."  Of course, this could be fixed by diet.

At Mount Vernon, we encountered 85,936 children in yellow t-shirts.  The shirts each had a long-winded message emblazoned on it's back, that, in effect, outlined a police initiative in the District of Columbia. Plain-clothed (in yellow t-shirts) policemen shepherd underprivileged kids to historical points of interest in the DC area.  The operation under which the cops do their fine work is called "Seminole."  (I couldn't find anything about it on Google.)

This reminds me of the program in our Carroll County (Maryland) called "Shop With A Cop," where local policemen go with kids to buy them gifts for Christmas. Sargeant Keith Benfer, of the Westminster Police Department, is the main worker on this very noble activity.  Keith is a loyal member of our local TRIAD/SALT effort in Carroll County.

I pushed Elaine (uphill) to the Mansion House at Mount Vernon, and we took a look at George Washington's first floor.  The second floor was not handicapped accessible.  Instead, a docent gave us a book with pictures of the second floor rooms and we sat on George's front porch and looked at it, and at the beautiful view of the Potomac River.  The river looks nice and clean now, but I've read that it and the Anacostia River were once quite polluted with DC waste of all kinds.

We also  looked in on the slave quarters.  Elaine was worried about where female slaves relieved themselves, not seeing any porcelain equipment in the vicinity.

The area abounds with gigantic trees: elm, magnolia, oak, etc.  One tree was so fat, it must have been a good size when George was a boy.  Of course, we could not see any cherry trees, because little George chopped them all down, or so Parson Weems told us.  I'm planning to manage a discussion group session on TRUTH later in the Summer, and I will make sure we talk about little George's honesty.

Our group ate a very nice lunch at the Mount Vernon Inn, right there at the mansion site.  Nice ham slices, with skinny string beans, salad and mashed potatoes..  and, of course, a nice slice of cherry pie.

After lunch, we had 2 (count-em 2) hours to spend in either the souvenir shops or the on-site museums.  Elaine chose "shop",  I chose "museum".. although I did buy 5 books later.  The museums outlined George's life..  his early occupation, his military campaigns and his political life.  And.. naturally... his TEETH.  Not wood, by the way..  we've been lied to.  Poor George, his teeth were bad  all of his life and kept falling out, so that he had to write to England to get  some false ones made out of animal bone and plaster.. hinged on the sides by wire like that used by the Tin Man in OZ.

When he was inaugurated as our first President, George took the oath while trying to hide his last remaining tooth.  Mr. President, I know the feeling.  I had massive teeth problems in high school that required some false ones to secretly replace bad ones, so that my fellow high-school friends did not notice. 

This is probably much more than you would care to know about our trip to our Nation's capitol... except..

Yesterday, the Washington Monument was opened again, after needed repairs because of our bad weather.  As we drove along the river, we got a great view of the monument.. as well as a marvelous view of the Lincoln Memorial.  Helicopters and jet aircraft were flying through our vista... I thought that air planes were not supposed to fly over DC.


Sunday, May 11, 2014

Mother's Day, Prayer, Hopkins, TB, Education, Health

It's a beautiful Mother's Day... Sun is shining.. temperature is 70 degrees..  very nice!

Elaine's daughter, Emily, and her family, sent Elaine a vase filled with her favorite flowers.. lavender.  We might even be able to plant some in our deck garden.  They have a smell that Elaine really likes.  They are said to calm one's nerves and to  allow one to fall asleep fast and have pleasant dreams.  I'm all for that.

Last night, I heard some music on A Prairie Home that I really liked.  It was by a guy, who I confess, I had never heard of before..  Brad Paisley.  One of his songs was a recent creation with a Geologic twist (his hobby):  "Your Sub-strata Makes My Lava Flow."  It's a crowd-pleaser.  I'll have to take a closer look at this guy's music. 

It seems as though everybody in the world has heard about some of our County Commissioners and their "looney tunes" activity.  One of their adventures was to continue to do "Jesus prayers" at County meetings even though warned not to by a judge.  Now, based on the decision by a majority of the Supreme Court in Greece v Galloway, they think that they have no reason at all to stop.

My reading of the situation is that they have misinterpreted the Supreme Court ruling.  Now, in Greece (NY) meetings can continue to have "Jesus prayers" because the prayers are given by members of the clergy, and the opportunity to do so is open to clergy of all faiths.  This is not the case in Carroll County, Maryland, where the Commissioners themselves do the prayers.

Michael Meyerson of the University of Baltimore wrote a book in 2012 entitled: Endowed by Their Creator; The Birth of Religious Freedom in America.  Quoted in the Baltimore Sun today, Mr. Meyerson says that the drafters of the Constitution tried to find language that would pertain to everyone, regardless of their beliefs.

Years ago, when I was President of an AARP Chapter, we opened each meeting with a "Jesus prayer" and everyone thought that was ok except for a couple of people.  The person who gave the prayer was a retired preacher who was liked by everybody, so I did nothing about the complaint and never heard anything else from the complainers.  I thought: what harm does it do to listen to such a prayer even though you are not a "believer".. just don't participate.  Now, based on Greece v Galloway, the prayer practice was within the law.   (What do  you think?)

Famous public speaker, Cathy Hiebler, confronted the situation very early in her Toastmasters activity.  Called upon to emcee and run numerous public functions, she wrote a generic prayer that would be acceptable to people of all faiths.  In effect, it calls upon whatever "higher power" or "ethical guide" that one believes in or follows.  As far as I know, she has never gotten a complaint about her creation.

Today's Baltimore Sun also has an article about a rally by Johns Hopkins employees who want a raise in salary.  I assumed that an organization as well-liked and world famous as Hopkins would pay their employees a living wage.  The article mentions persons who must use food stamps to feed their families, while working in a wondrously wealthy place.  Surely Hopkins can't afford to lose highly trained and regarded personnel because of money matters.  Shame on them!

Good news for the Social Security Administration. The Agency's website: SSA.GOV has gotten great praise for it's clarity.  I think it scored second in a survey of Government websites.  Steven Patrick gets a "thank you" for pushing the use of  "plain language" in the written products of SSA.

Another bit of good news for Baltimore.  In 1966, Baltimore had the highest Tuberculosis rate of any large city in the US: 75 per 100,000.  But in 2013, the rate had dropped to only 4 in 100,000.  The drop resulted, in part, due to an outreach program developed in 1978, whereby nurses would visit patients and watch them take their medication.   A simple solution, but apparently very effective.

The Carroll County Times has been having a "forum" for all election candidates in the County.  Today they asked candidates for the Board of Education to talk.  A friend of mine from Social Security and Toastmasters, Charlie Bud Nason participated.   Charlie was and is a gifted analyst and public speaker.  While I do not usually agree with his political stance, I'm sure that he would bring some "class" to the Board.  Good luck to him.

Finally..  Bottom Line publications report that eggs may reduce high blood pressure, based on the research work of Jianping Wu, PhD, University of Alberta, Canada.  Dr. Wu says that egg proteins have effects similar to those of ACE inhibitors, prescription medicines used to treat hypertension. (My question:  I eat lots of eggs.  Can I throw away my ACE inhibitor prescriptions?)

And.. Dr. Bess Dawson-Hughes of Tufts University, Boston, suggests that we eat 8 to 10 servings of fruit and vegetables daily to preserve muscle mass as we age.  (My question:  I think that I eat a lot of fruit and vegetables each day, but when I count them up, it usually comes to 6 at the most. How can I increase that?)