Thursday, July 31, 2014

Rogue Cows; Dow Jones Drop; Crime Stupidity; A Poet; Romper Room; J.P. Souza; Crime Recycling; Mergenthaler; Roger Angell; Found: Piano; Gershwin; Cheney

Its 85 degrees and sunny.. very pleasant.  I brought in another red tomato from our deck.. that makes 6 so far, I think.  That's probably already more than we ever got before.. thanks to my daughter, Diane of the Green Thumb, who gave us 3 of the plants.  All of the flower plants she gave us are blooming as well.  I'm anxious to see her house right now.. I'll bet it is covered with beautiful flowers of all kinds.

01.  *Rogue Cows still on the loose

Two of the cows that "jumped ship" are still missing.  Both are 500 to 600 pound heifers in running shoes.  I asked Elaine to look for fatter than usual deer when she checks out the back yard in the evening.  Meanwhile, a motorist said that a cow hit him last night and then got up and raced off, apparently not too badly hurt.

02.  Oh Oh, there goes the Dow again...

Somewhat based on the lousy predictions for Corporation profits, the market took a big hit today and is now down in 16,500 territory, not a nice place to be if I want to be a millionaire again.  What goes up must go down... how about .. what goes down, has to go up?  I hope.

03.  Crime .. Label Matching

Robert Lord (26) was stopped by police for driving on a suspended license and was asked if he had a wallet or weapons in his pockets.  "The Lord" said that he did not and to prove it pulled out a bag from one of his pockets.. on it was appropriately labeled: "DOPE."

By the way, I would like to know how the police knew about his license problem without pulling him over first.  Was this part of the license scanning software features in cruisers?  Did the software assume who the driver of the car was?  I'll have to bring that up at our next TRIAD meeting with Police representatives.

04.  I was wrong

Yesterday, I mentioned "doobies" in relation to Hodge Podge Lodge... I was mixed up.   "Doobies" were good children seen through Miss Rhea's magic mirror on Romper Room, another favorite TV show of my children.  By the way, Miss Rhea (Feiken) still looks good at the age of 130.

05.  A Poet in our Midst

Our next door neighbor, Steve Malin, is a poet of some repute.  He has had his poems published in many journals and anthologies.  He is giving a reading of some of his works tomorrow.  I signed up to attend, but then found that I had a previous commitment.  I was able; however, to obtain a copy of
Steve's latest book of poems.  His poems paint pictures in my mind.  I like them.  Remember that name.. you'll be hearing more about him in the future.

06.  A Portuguese German?

The Vereinsnachrichten Newsletter for the German Society of Maryland mentioned that John Philip Souza, who wrote those amazing marches, was raised by his German immigrant grandmother and mother.  His Portuguese father wasn't around when J.P. was a child.  (I've often wondered if my father was German or Portuguese, since I learned that he probably was not Italian as I always thought.)

07.  Crime .. Unauthorized Recycling

The large metal gates at Battle Acre Park on North Point Road in Baltimore County have been stolen to sell for drug money.  Also, metal parts on cemetery monuments have also been pried off to sell.

08.  Crime .. Mergenthaler .. Forgotten Inventor

The Director of the German Society of Maryland, David Crosby,  visited Mergenthaler Vocational High School (Mervo) in Baltimore to see the statue of Ottmar Mergenthaler that once graced that campus.  It is missing.  Perhaps it has been melted down for its metal.  Its perhaps just as well, questioning some teachers and students, nobody now even knows who Mr. Mergenthaler was, and what he did that was notable.

Ottmar Mergenthaler invented the linotype machine.  From the first printing press in 1439 until Mr. Mergenthaler invented the linotype machine in the 1880's, all type had to be set by hand.   Mergenthaler revolutionized the printing industry with a typewriter-like machine to set type, thus creating modern printing.   It is a shame that he is now all but forgotten in the Baltimore area.

09.  *Roger Angell .. Baseball

I wrote about Mr. Angell's wonderful autobiographical piece in the latest New Yorker magazine.  At the age of 93, he is about to get an award for being a great baseball writer over the years.

One of Roger's claims to fame is that he wrote the world's longest palindrome.  I'd really like to see that.  I'm sure my brother Joe knows about that one and can fill me in.

10.  Lost and Found

Manhattan residents were recently surprised to find a Mason and Hamlin grand piano resting on the shore under the Brooklyn Bridge.  Nobody has claimed it yet, or offered to move it to a better location.  The BBC Music magazine has speculated that the ghost of George Gershwin may have had it laid there... remember his song: "There's a boat that's leavin' soon for New York...".. possibly a clue.

11.  Longevity

Talking about George Gershwin, always makes me think about the great lyrics in Porgy and Bess.. for instance:

"Now Methuslah lived nine hundred years,
Yeah, old Methuslah lived nine hundred years.
But what use is livin' when no woman will give in,
To no man what's nine hundred years?"

12.  Mr. Vice President!

Talking about "old timers," Jim Hightower writes about Dick Cheney (pronounced chenny, not chainy now) and has this to say in the latest Progressive Populist newspaper:  "... they ("warmongers") never got close to being in (a war).  Cheney,  you might recall assiduously avoided serving in Vietnam by getting not one or two draft deferments, but five of them!  He later explained that he 'had other things to do.'  Yet, without a twinge of conscience, he's now lambasting Obama for not dispatching other people's loved ones into the fiery vortex of Iraq's Sunni-Shia civil war."


Wednesday, July 30, 2014

Uber; Lizzie Borden; Voice Recognition; TV; Ads; Nixon; Marriage; Rogue Cows; Trickle Down; Ninja; Crime; VA Head

Nice Spring day in July.. 75 degrees and lots of sun.

01. Uber .. How does it work?

Perry Garfinkel of the NY Times interviewed Lucas Evans who drives for Uber and when he was asked how it works, said:

"Passengers who have the  Uber application on their smartphone can post a message requesting a ride.  The driver closest to the passenger has up to 15 seconds to accept the request or not.  The passenger also sees the driver's name and location and can decide whether to accept the ride.  It feels a little like a TV game show when you have to hit the buzzer quickly or lose  your turn."

02.  *Lizzie Borden .. Ballet and Operas

The NY Times mentioned some entertainment options for those interested in the infamous Lizzie Borden case.  (I am one of those.)

a.  Agnes de Mille's 1948 ballet: "Fall River Legend"

b.  Jack Beeson's 1965 opera, "Lizzie Borden."  The Times says that Beeson and his librettist, Kenward Elmslie, created a memorably anxious, creepy work, its three acts all but ensured it would remain a rarity."

c.  Last year, Boston Lyric Opera presented a condensed version by  Todd Bashore and John Conklin.   It is being played in Tanglewood this week.

03.  *Voice Recognition .. Frustrations

A.  The CVS Caremark mail order prescription service uses voice recognition.  When  you call them, you may never get to talk to a human being.  I have a problem with this system.  For instance, when I called and was waiting for a response:

I cleared my throat..

A sweet but stern female voice suddenly said: "I didn't get that." 

So, I said.. "I was just clearing my throat."  The voice said: "Please repeat your message.  I did not understand it."

I'll leave the rest to you.. I never did get through to a human so I left a message and a human did get back to me after a few hours.

B.  When I call my General Practitioner I always get a recording that says:

"We are having an unusually large volume of calls and you will have to wait."

In a few seconds, another voice always says, "We apologize for the wait."

In another few seconds, the voice returns to say, "You are number one in the queue." 

(I'm always number one in the queue.. how can that be if they are having an unusually large volume of calls?)

04.  *TV Shows ..  Nature Plus

Elaine likes to watch "nature" shows, where animals eat other animals.  "Survival of the Fittest!'

Last night she was watching honey badgers eat cobras, and cheetahs eat warthogs, and then cheetahs trying to eat honey badgers.  Who eats the cheetahs?

What ever happened to funny shows on TV.. like Bob Newhart or Frazier

Although, I do like to watch one show, and only one show on TV.. no, it's not Duck Dynasty anymore, and definitely not the Bachelorette... instead, I love America's Got Talent, even with Howard Stern as a judge... he kind of keeps his obnoxiousness at bay on AGT. 

05.  New York Advertisements for the Rich and Powerful

The New York Times weekly magazine always bends my mind with its ads.. like the one for HSBC Premier, an investment company that requires you to open a checking account with them and maintain a $100,000 equity balance... or, an ad for One Riverside Park, "A Luxury Condominium" with 4 to 6 bedroom residences, with "expansive terraces" and private pools... priced from $8.4 million to $26 million.

06.  *Nixon ..  John Dean's New Book

John Dean was on the Diane Rheem show this week to plug his new book: "The Nixon Defense, What He Knew and When He Knew It."  Dean said, among a lot of other things:

Nixon set up the environment for Watergate to happen.

Nixon told Holderman to place a bug in McGovern's office, but the "plumbers" got caught first at the Watergate.  They were a bunch of "amateurs."

Nixon made horrible decisions, including trying to cover it all up, offering hush money and suborning perjury. 

Dean said that he spent years of research for this book and had access to some material that had never been seen before now.  I'm not sure if I want to read the book.  Maybe.

07.  Marriages .. Who officiates?

I've noticed in the New York Times, lots of the marriage notices indicate that the person acting as the marrying official becomes a Universal Life Minister for the occasion.  Many people do not realize that the only thing required for a valid marriage is a paid-for license, and two persons, of any gender who love each other and say that they are willing to spend the rest of their lives together. 

08.  *Rogue Cows Acting Up Again!

Our local 4H and FFA Wild West Show did not quite go off as planned because some of the participating cows never showed up.   Apparently, they thought that they were going to the slaughter house, and jumped out of their truck.  Members of the Carroll County Sheriff's Office spent last evening trying to round them up, as they cavorted through State Routes 140 and 31, near our house.   I suppose tomorrow morning's paper will let us know what happened.

09.  Trickle Down Dammed Up

Tom Zirpoli writes in his monthly column about Kansas' attempt at "Trickle Down Economics."  they gave large tax breaks to rich folks, expecting the extra money would cause a trickle-down effect and increase funds to the State.  Just the opposite happened, and now Kansas finds itself in another "recession."  I like Tom's final words:

"...the rich in Kansas are happy with their 25% tax break!  They can now move to California for a higher quality of life."

10.  Ninja Nonsense

A new violent movie designed for the childish among us is about to be released. It is called, "Teen Age Mutant Ninja Turtles."  There was a glitz in the posters for the movie that were readied for Australia.. it showed Ninja's jumping out of an exploding skyscraper.. unfortunately, all that activity appeared above the date of release:  September 11.  Lots of people considered the poster to be thoughtless and troubling and it was recalled so that another thoughtless and troubling poster could be designed for this thoughtless and troubling movie.

11.  Crime .. Cheating the Crooks

A guy and his buddy drove a box truck to two Postal Service bulk mail centers near DC and stole 2,000 "over-the-road" metal containers. They sold them to a metal recycler for $323,000, for an average of $116 each.  The containers were worth  $2.8 million, which is about $1,480. each.  So, it looks like the crooks got taken.  They have now been taken to jail, and will have lots of time to think about their adventure.

12.  VA Head Guy

Robert McDonald, the President's pick to head the Department of Veterans Affairs was unanimously confirmed by the Senate on Tuesday.  He now holds a job that pays less than $200,000 a year, while the compensation he earned as chief executive of Proctor and Gamble had to have been in the millions of dollars.  Well, money ain't everything.


Tuesday, July 29, 2014

Social Security Computer System; Crimes; Mr. Peroutka; Obituaries; Sarah Palin; Georges Bizet; First Amendment; Immigrant Kids; Emoji; the Law; Words

Sunny cool day so far.. 68 degrees!

01.  Social Security .. Computer System

An article in the Baltimore Sun on July 25, 2014 reports "Social Security Computer System not working after six years."

An independent analysis by a private concern was commissioned by the Social Security Administration to determine why a projected computer system is not ready after the spending of $300 million dollars and six years of effort.  The analysts studied the system that is supposed  to speed the processing of disability claims, and found that the system, being developed by Lockheed Martin, is still in the design stage and has been "mis-managed and poorly executed." 

Congress sharply criticized Acting SSA Director Carolyn W. Colvin for this problem and also for the long delays to process appeals.  (Nowadays, everyone knows that if they get turned down by SSA for disability benefits, they can get representation by one of the TV Lawyers.. and they don't have to pay until they get their first benefit check.  Administrative Law Judges are overwhelmed with disapproved cases asking for reexamination.)  Carolyn has been nominated by the President to become the official head of SSA; however, she will now have to be confirmed, and we know how that works with Tea Party and other Conservatives wanting to kill that agency or at least cripple it.

 Two of my fellow Social Security Branch Chiefs passed away last week.   Elbert Batton and Fred Buddemeyer and I worked on many computer systems at SSA and we were always successful.. and we did it with the staff we had, not with outside assistance.  Of course, now that the experts have left the Agency, there is no longer a body of workers who can do what our people did.  In that regard, I agree that there was mis-management at SSA, in that our smartest and most knowledgeable workers were not properly  rewarded and were encouraged to leave.

02.  Crime .. a Bunch

a.  An Annapolis teen-ager had his Air Jordan tennis shoes stolen right off of his feet.

b.  State Police tactical gear was stolen from a State Police vehicle in Bel Air.  Included was a bulletproof  vest, ammunition, a pry bar, and a gas mask.

c.  The traffic stop of a California truck uncovered $1 million in heroin and $100,000 in metamphetamines. (sp. New word, not in my dictionaries.) 

d.  Baltimore had eight shootings over the weekend.  Three of the shots hit the legs of the victims, all three of whom hobbled into different emergency rooms.

03.  *Mr. Peroutka .. Defense

Mike Hagadon  of  Emmitsburg told the Baltimore Sun that they smeared Mr. Peroutka. "Mr. P. is a respected scholar and teacher of the U.S. Constitution.  The Southern Poverty Law Center's portrayal of the League of the South as a 'hate group' is just another meaningless label."

04.  Obituaries

The Carroll County Times has been taken over by the Baltimore Sun and  their obituaries have changed enormously.  They now appear to be written in humor, in a small font, and are in print boxes.  Today, I see:

Loyal Swan died at age 91.  His obituary says appropriately that he was "honest and loyal to a fault."

William Dean Worthley died at age 53.  Mr. W. was renowned for his ability to capture small wild animals bare handed.  "Bill made the best catch of his life when he married his high school sweetheart wild thing Judy Phillips."  He alo had a beagle named Andrew Reese Worthley.

Mr. Worthley's mother is Jean Reese Worthley (Miss Jean of Hodge Podge Lodge to all of us "good little Doobies".  He also had "furry" nieces China and Lola.

05.  *Miss Sarah returns

Sarah Palin now has her own online video channel.  Buy a subscription and you will be able to see and hear  Miss Palin comment on important issues.

06.  Georges  Bizet

As I am composing this blog entry, Bizet's Symphony #1 in C is playing on the radio.  This piece of music has been occupying a corner of my brain since I first heard it in 1955.  In that year, I purchased a record of that work and listened to it over and over.  I was able to do that because I was stationed on a mountain top in Germany and I had the barracks to myself all day, while my fellow Airmen attended to their radar screens.  I, in contrast, worked either from 4 pm to midnight, or midnight to 8 am.  However, when my fellows were there I picked their brains because they were all college graduate students who had enrolled in a special Air Force program which would be paying for all of their future college courses.  I learned a lot from them.

These enlisted guys liked to talk about the arts, world events, and psychology.  The Officers I came in contact with only wanted to talk about their college's football and basketball teams.  No offence to them or you, but their conversations were boring as hell to me.

Incidentally, Georges Bizet wrote his Symphony in C when he was 15 years old!

07.  *First  Amendment News.. Steel Cross at the WTC

A cross formed by steel beams pulled from the rubble of the World Trade Center can be on display at the memorial museum.  Atheists had filed to block its display, but the suit was dismissed last year and upheld now by a Federal appeals court.

08.  *Immigrant Kids .. A plot ?

It was reported in the New  Yorker for July 28, 2014 that some Republicans suggest that the surge of immigrants is part of a plot.  "Governor Rick Perry (Texas)...said: 'We either have an incredibly inept Administration or they're in on this somehow,' invoking a theory that children were being lured into the country so that they would grow up to be Democratic voters..."  UNBELIEVABLE!!

09.  Emoji

According to Fortune Magazine for July 21, 2014, emoji are the next step up from blogging.  Emoji were developed in Japan and are now used around the world to spice up correspondence and even to allow persons to communicate without the bother of knowing lots of big words.  There are now emoji art exhibits, emoji poetry and even emoji music videos.  Check out the Fortune article with this appropriate title:  A Return to Hieroglyphics, Author: Erin Griffith.  (I wish I knew how to use them in my blogs.)

10.  The Law is the Law

Chuck Shepherd reports that while a Califonia  workman was installing a sign on a lamppost and waiting for the cement to dry, a policeman gave him a ticket for parking over the "75 minute limit." The cement normally takes more than 75 minutes to dry and the sign he was trying to put up said: "Parking Limit: 75 Minutes." 

11.  The Boston Job

Chuck Shepherd also reports about Susan Coppinger, who was promoted by the City of Boston to a higher paying job, even though a month earlier, she had been arrested for her second attempt to rob a Bank in Quincy. Luckily somebody remembered seeing her mugshot somewhere, and she was fired.

12.  Too many words, Herr Maleckar

Dave Maleckar writes in the Funny Paper:  "My friends were telling me about their grandchild, who is a year old and has a vocabulary consisting mostly of 'Mama,' 'Dada,' and 'Please.'  Which is nearly enough.  By the time we're two, we find out about 'No,' and then we go on saying it over and over for the rest of our lives.  It's odd that it takes us only a year or so to learn how to talk, and then so many decades to learn to shut up."


Monday, July 28, 2014

Taneytown; Social Security; Privacy; Genealogy; Marriage; GOP Whip; Mr. Yoo; Social Engineering; Opera Loss; DNA Search; Hotels; Electricity; Holocaust

Nice day.. not much sun and a little rain... lots of strong wind, but comfortable.  Our tower fan died, so I bought another one at WalMart today.  You know.. I went  to WalMart with a long list, some of which I had tried to get in other places because I don't think much of WalMart.  But.. I was able to get everything on the list.. that is the allure of that store.. they have everything and the prices aren't too high usually. 

01.  Taneytown, Maryland

(The Life and Times Section of the Carroll County Times has some interesting articles this week.)

Taneytown's 10 year old museum is celebrating their anniversary with free ice cream.  My fellow former Commission on Aging colleague with a remarkable name, Fairy Flickinger, is the chair woman for the museum, which is closed to give it time to be made handicapped accessible.

I had always thought that Taneytown was named after Chief of the Supreme Court, Roger Taney, who helped make the Dred Scott Decision the reason why the US had "Separate but Equal" facilities for many years.  Instead, it was named for Raphael Taney, who laid out the map of the town in 1754.

02.  Social Security .. Information?

Donna Engle, retired lawyer wrote what is, in my opinion, the most confusing article about married and divorced Social Security benefits that I have ever tried to read.  If you want "the straight poop", take a trip to the local Social Security office and talk to one of their experts.

In the mean time.. if  you insist on using the web to find out the amount of benefits  you may be entitled to, try these sites mentioned today by the Wall Street Journal:

AARP.ORG                               Search for "Social Security Calculator"


FINANCIALENGINES.COM   Search for "For Individuals"  or "Retirement Readier"

TROWEPRICE.COM                Search for "Social Security Benefits Calculator"

But.. I still think that a visit to an SS office is the best bet for getting legitimate information.

03.  Short Depressing Note

Carroll County Times Editor, Jim Lee says: "We are being observed, tracked and analyzed by a variety of sources and at a much deeper level than most of us probably know."

04.  Genealogy .. 1890 Census Information

Mary Ann Ashcroft (Mimi) informs us that even though the 1890 U.S. Census information was lost to a fire in 1921, there was another census taken that year.  It enumerated surviving Civil War soldiers, sailors, marines and their widows, a surprising lot of them for being 25 years after the end of hostilities.  This "census" survived for Carroll County and Maryland in general. (I'll have to find out if it is still available for Massachusetts.)

05.  The Carroll County Family Status

Sadly, across from the smiling faces of newly engaged couples shown in the Carroll County Times,  and the names of 89 couples applying for Carroll County marriage licenses in June 2014, are the names of 75 couples getting divorce decrees in the same month.

06.  New GOP Whip

Representative Scalese, the new Republican Whip in Congress, is known as a Tea Party member and he was interviewed Saturday on CSPAN.  The Representative showed his ability to dodge all tough questions asked of him.. and not once did he answer a direct question.  Boy is he good.

He did say his  goals for this year were:

Replace Obamacare.
Raise the Medicare age to 67.
Raise the Social Security age to 70.

07.  *Mr. Yoo again

Recently deceased Mr. Yoo, built scores of cabins and had a marble-lined art gallery added to the ferry Sewol.  This made the ship top-heavy.

08.  And We're Movin' On Up!

A new development on the Upper East Side of Manhattan will be marketed to both affluent folks and working stiffs.  The rich people will live in three million dollar apartments and have a nice guarded entrance while the "less rich" will live in $1,000 per month apartments with a rather less luxurious entrance.  Some call this "a brand of distasteful social engineering."

09.  Opera World Mourns a Big Loss

Carlo Bergonzi, famous operatic tenor died last week in Milan at the age of 90.  Mr. Bergonzi was considered the foremost Verdi tenor of his time.  He sang 300 times with the Metropolitan Opera in New  York.

Carlo was a short, tubby kind of guy.. he said that to make  up for his lash of dashing physique, he let his voice help him to act so well that nobody noticed that lack.

It was not widely known, but Mr. Bergonzi spent three years in a German concentration camp for his anti-Nazi activity.  He weighed 80 pounds when rescued.

10.  CSI in Europe

Italian police took DNA samples from 22,000 citizens and finally got a match.  Would we do that in the U.S.? And if we did, would it trigger a lot of privacy law suits.  (By the way, I am reading the CSPAN book about the Supreme Court and Chief Justice Roberts says very strongly during an interview that the United States is different from all other countries because we are a nation of "laws!")

10.  The Funny Paper .. Hotels, by the Rich and Famous

a.  Gilbert Gottfried: "I always wish the hotels were like they are in movies and TV shows where if you're in Paris, right outside your window is the Eiffel Tower.  In Egypt, the pyramids are right there. In the movies, every hotel has a monument right outside  your window.  My hotel rooms overlook the garbage dumpster in the back alley."

b.  George Carlin:  "In some hotels they give you a little sewing kit.  You know what I do?  I sew the towels together.  One time I sewed a button on a lampshade.  I like to leave a mark.

c.  Garry Shandling  (I really do not like this guy, but I think that his remarks here are a lot funnier than his usual stuff.)  "Here's a little tip from me to you as an experienced traveler.  Wake up calls are the worst way to wake up.  The phone rings.  it's loud.  You can't turn it down.   I leave the number of the room next to me, and it just rings kind of quiet, and you hear a guy yell, 'What are you calling me for?'  Then  you get up and take a shower. It's great."

11.  The Funny Paper .. Punishment

Chuck Shepherd mentions a case from 1989.. "... convicted South Carolina murderer Michael Godwin won his appeal to avoid the electric chair and serve only life imprisonment.  In March, while sitting naked on a metal prison toilet, attempting to fix a TV set, the 28  year old Godwin bit into a wire and was electrocuted.

12.  A humorous Holocaust book?

This book sounds like a winner to me.  Its about a guy who forges Holocaust survivor accounts to obtain reparation money from Germany.  It doesn't sound funny, but reviewers say it is hilarious. The book is called A Replacement Life by Boris Fishman, and is $8.99 as a Kindle download.


Sunday, July 27, 2014

Disabilities; Spoofing; Scamming; Immigrant Kids; Lawsuit; Alabama Guns; Magic; Baking People; Cheating; Psychic Passes; Island Ferry; Stupid Crooks

Nice 85 degree partly sunny day. 

01.  Americans with Disabilities Act

Twenty four years ago.    the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) was signed into law, and there is an ADA Center in Rockville, Maryland.  The Director of Carroll County's Citizens Services and the Coordinator of the Carroll County ADA reminds us that every person will experience some degree of disability in their lifetime and will need accommodation.  There are lots of places that Elaine and I can't visit because she is in a wheelchair.  Also, when we go on a trip, we have to make sure that the hotel bed is not too high off the floor, otherwise it would be too hard to get into. High thresholds are also a problem as well as hard-to-open doors.

02.  *Spoofing .. How to they do it?

How do scammers do the "Spoofing" action?  That is, have a legitimate telephone number and caller ID name show, even though the call is from someone else?  I guess, if more people knew how to do it, lots more con men would be able to do it. 

03.  Scamming .. Carroll County Message

Be advised: "Anytime that anyone contacts you, whether by phone, email, or even through a social media website, demanding money, you have  to know that its probably a scam.  The best advice is to always take the name and information from the caller, hang up and then call the people or institution at a number that you know, to see what is going on."

04.  *Immigrant Children ..  White House Proposal

The White House is considering a proposal that would allow Honduran children to apply for admission to the U.S. as refugees or on humanitarian grounds, while still in their country.  American immigration officers would interview each child and offer them temporary shelter in Honduras while their case is being examined.

05.  *Boehner's Lawsuit against Obama

The House Committee on Rules reported out the lawsuit against the President, claiming he overstepped his executive powers in carrying out the Affordable Care Act.  Now the whole House can vote on it.

Remember the Arabic saying:  "The dogs bark, but the caravan continues on."

06.  Guns galore!

Under Alabama State law, anyone who legally owns a gun is entitled to strap on a holster and carry it in plain sight.  Owners of private buildings like churches have the right to prohibit firearms.  Robert Kennedy, a founder of BamaCarry Inc., chose not to vote because he didn't want to take off his pistol to vote in a church annex.

07.  Magic Trick?

The local newspaper reported that "John .... was arrested Thursday and charged with 'failure to appear'".   Well, how did they find him?

08.  Well Done, Rikers Island.

A heating problem in a New York prison caused a 56  year old homeless man to be "baked" while he was awaiting sentencing.

09.  Gentlemen do not cheat!

The Air Force Officers who are entrusted with the care  and storage of our stockpile of nuclear weapons are required to take tests periodically to make sure that they perform their jobs adequately.  Unfortunately, it has now been found out that some of these "gentlemen" have been cheating on those tests.  Gives you a warm feeling, doesn't it.

10.  Psychic to the Stars Passes

Kenny Kingston died a little while ago at age 87.  He supposedly had the ability to communicate with "the rich, the famous, and the titled"  alive or dead.  He was a regular on television shows like "The Merv Griffin Show" and had lots of clients for whom he held "readings".. and with whom he communicated after they died.  He wrote some books like "Sweet Spirits" (1978), promoted psychic hotlines through infomercials, and charged $400 for those private "readings."  I wonder if he now is in communication with Harry Houdini? 

11.  Ferry from New York to the Islands

The New York Times reports that it is now possible during the summer to arrive in a taxi at 35th Street and the East River on a Friday at 3 o'clock and board a ferry to Martha's Vineyard for a 5 hour trip that offers 12 flat-screen televisions and a cash bar.  Each week, 250 people take this trip. (You can't even get to Nantucket from New Bedford, Massachusetts by ferry, although it is only about 15 miles away by sea.  ... Unless some entrepreneur has set something up since I last was up there.  My brother in law, Moe, used to ferry people in his  plane from New Bedford to Martha's Vineyard in 10 minutes.. up and down.)

12.  Incompetent Criminal

Chuck Shepherd writes in Funny Times (July 2014) "Ryan Trembly, 29, was charged with trying (futilely) to rob Bubbles Hair Salon in Annapolis, Maryland.  Explained the salon's receptionist, 'He was like, Give me all your money, and I said, Not today!  Who tries to rob a salon?'  Trembly left, to the sound of her laughter, and was picked up at his mother's house."

(This is the same situation that I wrote of recently about the place where Elaine and I go for haircuts, and a jerk came in and tried to rob the place.. but the owner chased him out with a broom.)


Saturday, July 26, 2014

Bomb Threats; Spoofing Scams; Yoo found dead; Mr. Wan and Mr. Tiu; Hacking Cows; Donut Song; Farms; Fall of Rome; Religion; Tea Party Logic

Bright blue sky today.  Red crepe myrtle are blooming and look beautiful with the blue sky in the background.  If I could figure out how to get pictures into this blog again, I would do so.

01.  Phoning bomb and fire threats is not smart

Myra Marcy Baird, who had a friend phone bomb and arson threats to  County Court locations because she didn't want to have her day in court.. will now have lots of them.  The newspaper says she works at Giant.. and now I know where I know her from.  She must be going downhill in the brains department because she certainly has done some dumb things lately.

02.  Spoofing Scams

a.  The Howard County State Police Barrack's phone number and name appear on caller ID and the male caller says the victim owes fines that must be paid immediately or suffer arrest.  If you get such a call, hang up and notify the State Police.  The State Police do not solicit fines.

b. Today, the phone rang and the caller ID said my name and showed my telephone number.  Curious, I picked up and a woman told me to press 9 for a very important notice.  I called her a "bitch" and hung up.  I was trying to figure out what  else to do.  I'll have to talk to my TRIAD police guys.

03.  You who?

South Korean, Yoo Byung-eun, aged 73, was found dead this week lying next to a copy of a book he had written, empty alcohol bottles, and suitcases full of cash.

In his life, he had co-founded a church, held a photographic exhibit at the Louvre, and served jail time for fraud.  He headed the family that operated the Sewol, the ferry that capsized in April, killing 300 people, mainly teenagers.  Police had been searching for Yoo for two months.

04.  Asian Names

I've told this story before, but here it is again.  Many years ago, one of the governments of Viet Nam, whatever it was called back then, sent a couple of its employees to the United States to see how we handle computer projects.  At that time, thanks to Mr. Bob Crum, at the Social Security Administration (SSA) where I worked.. we implemented a control system called TRIM; I can't remember what the acronym stood for.

One afternoon, a Mr. Wan and a Mr. Tiu (one and two)  appeared at my desk and a translator asked me to explain the TRIM system to them, because I had the most computer projects at SSA and used the system to control most of them.  The translator could not stay, and because of the language barrier, I had to think of some other method than talk to explain the system.   So, I rustled up a bunch of phony control forms and instructions and had a secretary make them into book format for the two gentlemen.  This pleased them no end.  As I tried some pidgin English with them while pointing to each page's material, they would ooh and aah and nod their heads.  Finally, at the end of the session, I motioned that the books were for them to keep and they hurriedly grabbed their copies and scampered away as though they had found holy relics.

I am sure that today the antiquated TRIM system of over 50 years ago is still being used for government projects  in Viet Nam, and Mr. Wan and Mr. Tiu are enjoying a well deserved retirement for having invented that computer control system.

05.  Hacking Cows

An Eldersburg farmer had been losing his internet connection several times in the past two weeks.  The Comcast technician found bare spots in the internet supply cable and patched it.  The next day, the Comcast guy came out again and once again found bare spots.  He patched it again.

The next day, the farmer happened to be looking out of his side window near where the cable lay and observed his favorite cow busily munching on the metal cable.  This was the source of the trouble.  The Comcast guy came back and armor plated the cable... but the cow chewed through that .. the Comcast guy tried PVC piping.. yep, the cow liked that too.  Finally, some sort of steel cage was placed over new cable.. and, if this doesn't work, the cable will be strung up high, out of the rogue cow's reach.

06.  The Donut Song

Burl Ives gives us all a bit of philosophy in the words of this song.

"When you walk the streets, you'll have no cares
If you walk the lines and not the squares

And, as you go through life, make this your goal..
Watch the donut, not the hole!"

07.  Farm Life

Carroll Corn is now 73 inches tall.. right on schedule.  All Winter Wheat and strawberries have been harvested and soybeans "have emerged."

08.  Come on now, Fred.

Fellow NARFE member and right winger, Fred Frevert wrote to the Carroll County Times today:

"... contrary to the statement of the current administration, it (immigration reform) must begin with securing our borders."  Fred then cites the history of Roman rule in the 5th Century and how loose borders led to the fall of Rome.

09.  Religion .. Mr. Peroutka

Michael Anthony Peroutka, who donated the dinosaur fossil to the Creation Museum belongs to the League of the South, a secessionist group that the Southern Poverty Law Center says is a "hate group."  Embarrassed, Republican leaders are trying to get Peroutka to resign from that League. 

10.  Religion .. The End Times

Reverend Mike Taylor is pastor and president of RAPHAH Ministries Christian Center, an evangelic outreach in Taylorsville, Maryland.  He writes in the weekly religious column that Jesus' parable of the wheat and tares tells of the pending "harvest" and "end of the age."  He says that God is now "wrapping things up."  Preachers have been scaring their flocks with "end time" baloney for 2,000 years.  I guess that sooner or later they will be right though.

11.  Religion .. Sing

The sign outside of the Deer Park United Methodist Church says:

"Can't sleep ... don't count sheep.. talk to the shepherd." 


12.   Tea Party Logic?

Last October, a rally was held at the National Mall by Tea Party guys and some truckers and veterans who believe their crap.  They came to denounce Obamacare and the President.  "Don't Tread On Me" and Confederate flags were flown.  As reported by The Week magazine, one Tea Party leader, Larry Klayman, said in a speech that the U.S. is ruled by "a president who bows down to Allah" and called on Americans to demand that Obama "put the Quran down" and leave the White House "with his hands up." Sarah Palin and Senators Ted Cruz and Mike Lee saw nothing wrong with this nonsense and cheered along with the rest of the nutcakes.  Unbelievable!


Friday, July 25, 2014

Roger's Story

Nice Day..  blue sky smiling at us.. not  a cloud in  that sky...

Earlier this  year, Roger Angell wrote a piece for the New Yorker.  Roger has had an affiliation with the New Yorker and still has, even though he is in his nineties.  Let me make some comments on this wonderful piece that he has written, and recommend that you catch a copy of the New Yorker for February 17 & 24, 2014, and read this great article for yourself.

"Check me out.  The top two knuckles of my left hand look as if I'd been worked over by the K.G.B... arthritis.."  (Several knuckles in my case.)

"Now... if I cover my left, or better, eye with one hand, what I see is a blurry encircling version of the ceiling and floor and walls or windows to our right and left but no sign of your face or head: nothing in the middle... but if I reverse things and cover my right eye, there you are, back again...Macular degeneration."  (Just like the Macular degeneration that I have.. in the same eye.)

"The lower-middle sector of my spine twists and jogs like a Connecticut county road... this has cost me two or three inches of height, transforming me from Gary Cooper to Gepetto."  (Four inches in my case.)

"I'm not yet dead and not  yet mindless in a ... facility.  Decline and disaster impend, but my thoughts don't linger there.  It shouldn't surprise me if at this time next week I'm surrounded by family, gathered on short notice... to decide what's to be done with me.  It must be this hovering knowledge (of impending demise) that makes everyone so glad to see me again. 'How great you're looking!  Wow, tell me your secret!' they kindly cry when they happen upon me crossing the street or ... departing an x-ray room, while the little balloon over their heads reads, '... he's still verticle!'"

Roger has had a lot of disasters in his life, and a lot of nice times with his wifes and two daughters; one of each has pre-deceased him.  His stories about his relationships are delightful, entertaining and informative.. in my humble opinion. 

He does own up to being a complainer.. especially when he is ignored, which is evident when he tries to enter into a conversation with groups of younger men.  (Not like in China or Japan, where old age is venerated...  I have a problem in restaurants now.. waiters ignore me and forget  my orders.  Obviously its they who are really having the problem.. it couldn't possibly be me.. right?)

Roger also reveals: "I've also become a blogger, and enjoy the ease and freedom of the form: it's a bit like making a paper airplane and then watching it take wing below  your window."  (Yes, that's it.)

Roger also says:  "The thoughts of age are short, short thoughts.  I don't read Scripture and cling to no life precepts, except perhaps to Walter Cronkite's rules for old men, which he did not deliver over the air: Never trust a fart.  Never Pass up a drink.  Never ignore an erection."  (I must apologize for that to my children and grandchildren.. and also for the following jokes that Roger likes to tell, even at age 93.)

(I shortened this one.)  The teacher was asking her students what kind of work their fathers did. One little boy said: "My Dad is dead."  The teacher said: "Oh, I'm sorry.. what did your Dad do before he died?"  The little boy seized his throat and went: "N'gungghhh!"

(I shortened this one too.)  A couple had been trying to have a baby for years and finally it happened. At the hospital, the wife told her husband to stop by the local newspaper and arrange for a birth announcement to tell all their friends the good news.  Early the next morning she asked if he had done the errand.
"Yes, I did," he said, but I had no idea those ads were so expensive."
"How much was it?"
"It was eight hundred and thirty seven dollars. I have the receipt."
"That's impossible, you must have made a mistake. Tell me what happened."
"The clerk gave me a form to fill out and I wrote down all the pertinent information about the baby and handed it back.  She counted up the words and said, 'How many insertions?'
I said twice a week for fourteen years, and she gave me the bill.  O.K.?"

(Finally, Roger says:)  "Getting old is the second-biggest surprise of my life, but the first, by a mile is our unceasing need for deep attachment and intimate love.  We oldies yearn daily and hourly for conversation and renewed domesticity, for company at the movies or while visiting a museum, for someone close by in the car when coming home at night...everyone in the world wants to be with someone else tonight, together in the dark, with the sweet warmth of a hip or a foot or a bare expanse of shoulder within reach.  Those of us who have lost that, whatever our age, never lose the longing..."

I can relate to Roger's story and I hope you can too.   

Thursday, July 24, 2014

Ten Books that shaped the American character.. selected by American Heritage Magazine

This subject intrigued me, so I thought I would share it.

Some time ago, American Heritage magazine compiled a list of ten books that shaped the American character.  Jonathan Yardley was a book critic and columnist for the Washington Post and the author of Ring: A Biography of Ring Lardner; he was asked to do the compilation.

01.  Walden and Civil Disobedience by Henry David Thoreau

Walden was written in 1854.  Thoreau's American themes were:

The longing for Independence;
The identity with the natural landscape;
The skepticism toward government;
The skepticism toward formal social institutions.

02.  Leaves of Grass by Walt Whitman

Whitman published his first edition of twelve of his poems in 1855.  One of these "American" poems starts like this:

A child said What is the grass? fetching it to me with full hands;
How could I answer the child? I do not know what it is any more than he.

03.  Ragged Dick and Mark, The Match Boy by Horatio Alger

Alger combined the two novels in this edition, in 1867.  Alger wrote some 100 books, which sold 20 million copies.  They taught that with "pluck and luck" any person can make it from rags to riches in a laissez-faire market like America.

04.  Adventures of Huckleberry Finn by Mark Twain

Twain published this book in 1884.  Besides being an American classic, it is required reading by every Russian school child.  I can't even remember how many times I have read it, and it wasn't even required in my schools.

05.  The Boston Cooking School Cookbook by Fannie Farmer

Fannie published her book in 1896.  It was addressed to the housewife because Americans rarely had servants to prepare our meals.  (My mother was cook and housekeeper for a wealthy couple for a number of years.. but I would not dare tell her she was a servant.. not if you didn't want to be hit on the head with a cast-iron skillet!)  Yardley suggests that you use the first edition because later editions have been "tarted up,"  whatever that means.

06.  The Theory of the Leisure Class by Thorstein Veblen

Thorstein wrote his book in 1899.  I must confess that I have never attempted to read this book.  Its a tough read because of his Scandinavian-influenced English (Scandlish?)  His message:  In order to maintain its position at the top of the heap, the leisure class must exploit all those below it, and that the conspicuous display of wealth is a condition of membership in this class.  It was a message that entered the U.S. into the study of Sociology.

07.  The Souls of Black Folk by W.E.B. DuBois

Mr. DuBois brought out his book in 1903.  He insisted that blacks had to demand higher education in the sciences and humanities, and that they had to be able to compete with whites for white-collar jobs.  He reminded everyone "Would America have been America without her Negro people?"

08.  In Our Time by Ernest Hemingway

This was a collection of fifteen short stories in the short, staccato style that everyone relates to Mr. Hemingway.  He brought it out in 1925.  Mr. Yardley put this book on the list even though he had no regard for the man or his works.  He thought that Mr. Hemingway's "manly" image (which we would probably call "macho" today) was phony.  Anyway, I really like Hemingway's short stories, especially his "A Clean Well-Lighted Place." 

09.  How to Win Friends and Influence People  by Dale Carnegie

This blockbuster came out in 1936.  Had there never been this book, we would probably never had been exposed to Norman Vincent Peale, Richard Simmons, and that wonderful lover of all people, the late, great Leo Buscaglia.  Everybody wants to improve themselves.. well, maybe almost everybody.

10.  Baby and Child Care by Dr. Benjamin Spock

Although this book was published in 1946, it is still being read today.  I always had a beat-up paperback copy near at hand to the cribs of my three children.. and I read it and used it (mostly).  My kids never got spanked by me or their mother (although she would threaten them with a giant kitchen spoon from time to time.)  and all three of them turned out  amazingly well... three kids and now adults that any parent would be happy to call their own.  Thank you, Dr. Spock... and my son liked your cousin from Star Trek too.

..Well, that's it.  American Heritage's 10 best. 


Criminal Calls; Chokehold; Beretta; Hot Car; Spell Check; Dogfish Inn; Oldest Joke; Funniest Joke; One Liners

Some sun today, but not much.  Elaine is ill.

I'll finish the items I had yesterday when I had to interrupt.

03.  Criminal Caller?  Mistaken Identity?

Myra Marcy Baird, age 64 looks very familiar.  She lives in Hampstead, Maryland and works at a Giant.. and maybe there is where I remember her from.  Apparently, she got a friend to call in a bomb scare to Carroll County Courts because she did not want to go to a session concerning not paying credit cards.  She was arrested by a State Policeman and threatened him supposedly.  Also, she told a fellow arrestee that she would have to have the policeman shot by the guy who phoned in the bomb scare.  At least, that is what was reported.  If true, its another case of not telling a book by its cover.

04.  *Garner ..  Eric age 43

Since Eric Garner died in a police chokehold, NYPD officers are getting retrained.  However, I don't think this is going to appease the public.

05. Beretta is Leaving Maryland

The Beretta Gun Factory had been threatening  to move from Prince George's County, Maryland to Tennessee if Maryland imposed any more gun control.  Well, Maryland did, and Beretta did.

Vincent DeMarco says that  Beretta headquarters are in Italy, where they have strict gun control laws..  why haven't they moved out of there?  (Tennessee's cost of living is lots less than Maryland's.. so it surely is a matter of Money.)

06.  Hot cars again!

This time, a 67 year old mama's boy left his 98 year old mama alone in his pickup truck for five hours while he gambled away her bank account at a Maryland Casino.  He wasn't all bad though.. he left one window cracked a half inch. Luckily, she survived.

07.  Baltimore Sun Paper Spelling Check?

The Baltimore Sun must use a different spell check program than I do, because when they wrote an ad for a show featuring Beyoncé, her name does not have the accent as it does in my writings.

08.  The Dogfish Inn

Dogfish brewer, Sam Caligione is opening the Dogfish Inn  in Delaware and crowds are lining up to reserve stays at the 16 room motel that features Dogfish memorabilia.  Good beer!

09.  World's Oldest Joke?

Mr. Weems, author of HA!, has found a 2,000 year old joke somewhere in Roman ruins:

Garoulous Barber to Client:  How should I cut your hair?
Client:  Quietly.

Well, I guess you had to be there.

10.  World's Funniest Joke?

Richard Wiseman founded Laughlab to find out which jokes are funniest.  As a British scientist, Mr. Wiseman enlisted the help of the British Association for the Advancement of Science in a survey that asked:  "Is this joke funny?"

A year and a half and 1 1/2 million responses later, he found the so-called "funniest joke in the world,"  at least for the Brits:

A German Shepherd went into a telegraph office, took out a blank form, and wrote: "Woof, woof, woof, woof, woof, woof, woof, woof, woof."

The clerk examined the paper and politely told the dog:  "There are only nine words here.  You could send another "Woof" for the same price.

"But," the dog replied, "that would make no sense at all."

11.  *Religion .. One Liner

Wife to Husband:  Who was the first man?
Husband:  I thought I was.

12.  *Marriage .. One Liner

Wife to husband:  If I asked you to jump off of a bridge into icy water, would you?
Husband: Not again.


Wednesday, July 23, 2014

Eggs; Obamacare

Overcast and 95 degrees!  Elaine and I hurried to the CLV pool to cool off.. meanwhile, a young man power washed our house (kind of).

01.  The egg came first.

The Carroll County Times and the Sun Paper had the exact same bunch of pages about food and diet. One article was about storing eggs.  Europeans store their eggs at room temperature; Americans store theirs in refrigeration.

Care must be taken to avoid potentially fatal salmonella, so American egg producers are required by the USDA to thoroughly wash their eggs before going to market.  They are rinsed in hot water, dried and sprayed with a chlorine mist as soon as they are laid.  This procedure is said to protect us from salmonella.  European eggs are treated differently and do not need to be refrigerated later.  Apparently, the European method (whatever that is) protects better against salmonella, and their method will be adopted in the U.S. sometime soon.

02.  *Obamacare .. He's for it.

Tom Zirpoli wrote in  his column today:  "... millions of Americans suffer...because they live in the 24 Republican controlled states that refuse to allow their constituents to sign up for Medicaid.  One has to wonder how some of these politicians can call themselves pro-life while continuing to block millions of their constituents from the health care that they desperately need while offering them no alternative."

I have to break off this blog entry here so that I can go and pick up some  special medication for Elaine.  See ya!

Tuesday, July 22, 2014

Skin Treatment; Miller's Grant ; Apology to China: Immigrant Kids; Doctor Misconduct; Baltimore Crime; Treatment of Indians; Buckyballs; Booktitles; Caterpillar; Supremes

Overcast and not too hot, nice day. 

Elaine accompanied me to the dermatologist's office today.  I was checked to make sure that the 3 cancer spots that I sprouted have all gone away.  They are gone; however, something has popped up near one of my ears, and had to be biopsied.  The dermatologist prescribed something to get rid of all the sunburn related spots and funny places on my forehead. I have to put cream on one half of my forehead for three weeks, then let it all heal for a week and do the same for the other half.  During the three weeks, I may experience pain, itching, squeezing and some other stuff.. if its too unbearable, I am to discontinue the treatment.  Also, as a bi-product of the treatment, I may get very red, have what looks like acne.. and maybe even look like what the doctor said .. that I might look like a truck hit me.   (Great to look forward to.  But in the end, I should look beautiful, with forehead skin smooth like a baby's bottom.  Believe that?)

01.  Miller's Grant

On July 10th, ground-breaking was held for Miller's Grant, a sister continuing care community like the one we live in.  Its sponsored by the same Lutherans.  Already, 80% of the residences have been  reserved.  The required shovel-wielding photo had a note that read:  "Lisa Albin/submitted photo".  So now, everybody will know who submits a picture.. even those that are self-serving, especially from politicians.  I have pictures to submit, but they are stuck somehow in my camera and I can't extract them.. a mystery that I have to solve.

02.  Sorry, China

McDonald's and KFC have apologized to the Chinese people for some food misdemeanors. 

a.  MCDonald's accepted meat from an American affiliated supplier that had been dropped on the floor and picked up and returned to where it was.

b.  KFC accepted chicken pumped up with excessive amounts of anti-biotics.

On another day, WalMart suppliers in China attempted to pass fox meat off as donkey meat!

03.  Immigrant Children ..  John Culleton agrees with me

In his column today, John Culleton gives the quote that I have been suggesting that our leaders remember:  "Suffer little children to come unto me, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven."

John reminds everyone of the William Wilberforce Trafficking Victims Protection Reauthorization Act of 2008, signed into law by George W. Bush.  this law requires judicial action before removal but the required judges are overloaded right now with cases.

04.  Immigrant Children ..  Governor Martin O'Malley agrees with me

Maryland Governor Martin O'Malley, meeting with "future leaders" said that these immigrant children should be held in foster homes while awaiting judicial action.  I have mentioned this solution before.  I like it.

05.  Immigrant Children ..  Dan Rodricks Lambastes Andy Harris

In his Baltimore Sun column today, Dan Rodricks lambastes Republican Representative Andy Harris for his stand against helping the immigrant children.  He says: "Harris is a doctor, but apparently not a compassionate one.  Maybe he should start his own organization as a conservative counterweight to rampant humanitarianism.  He could call it Doctors With Borders.

06.  Johns Hopkins .. $ for Doctor Misconduct

World-famous Johns Hopkins Hospital in Baltimore has agreed to split $190 million among the thousands of women who had their pelvic exams surreptitiously videotaped by the gynecologist, Doctor Nikita A Levy.  It will be covered by insurance.

07.  Crime by Repetition

An 18 year old staggering drunk visited a Baltimore liquor store several times last week, and stole a bottle of liquor each time.  One time, he was accosted by a clerk and he hit the clerk with a bottle of vodka.

During his arrest, a box of Mucinex DM was found on his person... supposedly it can be abused to gain a special "high."  (Thank you, Sun Paper, for giving this information to kids who like to get "high" by trying novel things.)

08.  Ashamed?

I came across this statistic in an old American Heritage Magazine, and I felt a great sadness come over me.

"In 1864 one of the most shameful chapters in American history was written at Sand Creek (Colorado): U. S. troops slaughtered 130 men, women, and children of the Arapaho and Cheyenne tribes after they assembled in response to a U. S. - convened peace parley."

Sounds like the actions of Hitler's Storm Troopers!

09.  Buckyballs

Buckyballs are finally being recalled at the end of a long legal hassle.  The magnetic balls can do a job on your insides when more than one is swallowed.  They clump together.  Although the Company Maxfield and Oberton has shut its doors, the more than two million holders of Buckyballs could receive refunds.

10.  Brother Joe's Booktitles

Here are a few more of the booktitles re-written by my brother Joe:

Hemingway tale about a farmer who makes sure his boy gets up early: The Son Also Rises

Dicken's book about a guy who can really spit:  Great Expectorations

Tolstoy tome about a guy who fatally scratches himself:  The Death of I've An Ill Itch

11.  The Caterpillar Crawls Offshore

Caterpillar, Inc, the world's largest maker of construction and mining machines has used a tax loophole to abuse the public trust.  Even though I do have some Caterpillar sock, I must report that they have quietly shifted some 8 billion dollars in profits gained from selling parts on the global market into a Swiss subsidiary in order to avoid paying more than two billion dollars in taxes owed to the US.

12.  *The Supremes ..  Opinion

Frank C. Rohrig writes "this court (the male justices) shall go down in history as the most radical, extreme, conservative cabal to ever be so antithetical to the very meaning of the word JUSTICE.  (Some day) the moneyed interest these justices shill for in their rulings shall be exposed and eventually overturned in some legislative way by the majority who hold out for belief in the Equalitarian Society promised but not yet achieved."


Monday, July 21, 2014

Duck Tolling; Torch Clubs; Garner; Golf Danger; Scam Illegals; Lawsuits; God; VBS; Lung Cancer Award; Cowboy Movie

Overcast all day with thunderstorms threatening, so Elaine and I  were not able to go swimming. Maybe Wednesday instead.

01.  Dog show

Our 4H Dog Show was held on Monday and the newspaper has a picture of Kenna Fox, showing her dog, Finlay, a Nova Scotia Duck Tolling Retriever.  Such a dog is a "gundog", bred for hunting.  It looks a lot like a small Golden Retriever.  The Internet says that "they get their 'tolling' name because they can lure waterfowl within gunshot range."  (How do they do that?)  I've looked in quite a few places for a definition of "tolling", but with no luck.

02. Torch Clubs

There was an article in the Carroll County Times today about Torch Clubs.  These are groups that get together to talk about each person's favorite subjects.  One of my Toastmasters friends asked me to  join him in such a club.  He said that periodically, I would be asked to prepare a "paper" on a subject of interest to me, and deliver it to the group.  That requirement reminded me of Graduate School obligations.. something I don't want to be tied to while I am in retirement.  I would rather form a Mensa Type Group in Westminster, where members just sit around and discuss any and all subjects. I think that would be more fun. 

03.  *James Garner .. Garner #1

James Garner was an entertainer for 60 years.. imagine that.  I liked him in his TV roles: Maverick and Rockford.  Also, he was great in Support Your Local Sheriff, Victor/Victoria, and The Notebook.
More on Jim later.

04.  *James Garner .. Garner #2

Eric Garner was 43, half the age of James Garner, and at 350 pounds, probably twice as heavy.  Eric was resisting arrest when a New York policeman put him into a "chokehold" causing Eric to stop breathing and die.  More on Eric later.

05.  *James Garner .. Theme Music

It is really weird, but as I thought about Mr. Garner's death, I suddenly realized that the theme music from the Rockford Files was playing in my head.  It's doing it again! Amazing!

06.  Golf, A Dangerous Sport

One normally doesn't think that golf is dangerous; however, yesterday a Westminster, Maryland man fell out of a golf cart and had to be flown to the University of Maryland Shock Trauma Unit.  I hope he is OK.

07.  Scam .. Illegals

The FBI is looking for scammers who are targeting family members of children living illegally in the U.S. Two approaches are used:

a.  The person claims to represent a charitable organization needing money to assist in reuniting illegal children with parents.

b.  They use Caller ID Spoofing.. that is, the Caller ID will show the name of a legitimate business asking for travel expense money of from $300 to several thousand dollars.

08.  *Lawsuits .. Targeting God

This one is hard to believe.. Through some kind of convoluted reasoning, Nebraska State Senator Ernie Chambers (Democrat) filed a lawsuit against God in 2008, accusing God, the defendant, of causing untold death and horror and threatening even more.  Ernie figured that God could be sued in  his (Ernie's) home County because He is omnipresent.  Ernie sought a permanent injunction against the Almighty.

Chambers said the lawsuit was triggered by his reflecting on a Federal suit filed against a judge who banned words such as "rape" and "victim" from a sexual assault trial. (Go figure.)

The suit was dismissed because God could not be properly notified, not having an address and Zip Code. 

09.  *Lawsuits .. Targeting God's Representatives

I don't know when this was filed:  A Romanian prisoner, "Pavel M.", a convicted murderer, filed a lawsuit against the Romanian Orthodox Church, as God's Representatives in Romania.  He claimed that the Church had failed to keep him from the devil.  He said that his baptism was a binding contract.  The suit was dismissed because the defendant (God/His Church) was neither an individual nor a company.

10.  *VBS .. Names

Elaine set me straight about Vacation Bible School names that I assumed were invented by each VBS church sponsor to lure kids to their programs.  Instead, Elaine says that Churches contact organizations that publish VBS programs that can be purchased.  These programs come with booklets and each has one of those "catchy" names, such as "Jungle Safari". 

Years ago, Elaine had a great idea to help reinvigorate sagging VBS attendance.  She suggested that it be done at night, with supper provided to the kids.  Her church members liked and adopted the idea.  It was a success.  Members donated hotdogs and other food and the VBS was very well attended.

11.  *Lung Cancer ..  Punitive Award

Forgive me if I talked about this earlier.. as an old dude, I repeat myself a lot.

A Florida jury has awarded the widow of a chain smoker who died of lung cancer, punitive damages of more than $23 billion ... that's "billion," guys!  R.J. Reynolds, the Tobacco Company that was punished, will, of course, appeal the "runaway verdict" as they say.  Anyway, even though she probably will not get this much, she originally asked for only a few million, which she may get.

====== Now, I don't want to shock you, so, do not read any further, because it is kind of naughty.

12.  Movies ..  Cowboy film

Many years ago, I used to travel to Boston from my home in New Bedford, Massachusetts.  On that trip (we didn't have all of the fast and straight highways that we have now and had to weave in and out of small towns along the way).. we had to pass a Drive In Movie (remember them?) on the top of a long hill.  They had a massive marquee that could be seen from miles away.  For a couple of weeks, the marquee advertised the cowboy movie that was playing there and which was very popular.

The name of the movie was Tall In The Saddle.. I think John Wayne was starred, but I'm not sure.  This title was emblazoned on the massive marquee using very big letters for the  Capital letters and very small letters for the other letters.  From the distance, all you could see of the marquee was:

Tall In The Saddle.   


Sunday, July 20, 2014

Robotics; Boehner Law Suit; Immigrant Children; Hobby Lobby; James Garner; DEA Scam; Coffee with a Cop; TRIAD; Social Security; GOP; Tosca; Opera

Summer day.. 80 degrees, but no sun. That's OK, we've had a lot so far.

01.  Robotics

Reading about the youngsters designing and building robots for this year's 4H Fair is very pleasant.  For the past six years Carroll County has sent a team to the Robotics World Championships, and each year they have won an award.  These smart kids in the Robotics Club give me a feeling of hope for the world.

02.  *Boehner's Law Suit .. Why it will fail

I am reading where legal experts say that there are four reasons why Congress' upcoming lawsuit against Obama (for delaying parts of the Affordable Care Act) will fail.

a.  Members of Congress do not have "standing" to file constitutional lawsuits because they would have to prove an injury in a personal and intentional way.

b. If Congress feels that Obama has broken the law, impeachment is the way to go.. but then, impeachment is appropriate only if the President has committed "high crimes and misdemeanors, clearly not the case here.

c.  Delays are commonplace and not a refusal to enforce a law.

d.  There is not enough time to get a suit underway because the law will be all phased in during January 2015.

The Representative that is shepherding this lawsuit through Congress and, he hopes, to the Supreme Court,  just finished talking on CSPAN.  I'm sorry, but from what he said, I got the impression that he had some mental problem.  Who is going to pay for this frivolity?  Why, you and I, of course.

03.  *Immigrant Children .. Judges' Workloads

Some hearings for these children can't be held until 2017 because of massive caseloads for the 243 Immigrant Judges, most of whom already have a 1,500 case workload.  Could some of these children be farmed out to Foster Care?  Some form of Adoption?  Probably, to just make all of these children citizens might solve the situation.  Why not?

04.  *Hobby Lobby ..  Arguments Con and Pro

Richard Nicolaus argues with Mitch Edelman's recent column as being similar to "public outcries from bleeding-heart liberals" and "is little more than a liberal-activist's attempt to stir up public anger and public resentment to (the Court's) decision."

But, Victor Wilkotz writes:  "Who knew that Hobby Lobby was a religious institution?  It took a monumentally stupid finding by the Supreme Court to find that corporations are individuals and have the religious rights of individuals to sanctify that crafts store."

05.  James Garner dies at 86

My hero, at least on the TV and Movie Screen has passed away.   More about Jim to come.  Stay tuned.

06.  *Scams ..  DEA Call

A man calls you and says he is a Drug Enforcement Administration agent.  He says that someone has misused your credit card for prescription medication, a very  bad crime.  Until it  is all straightened out, you will need to pay a fine or risk arrest as an accomplish.  Send or wire money to ........  Or, if  you don't have the money to send, let me have your credit card number again so I can pay the fine with the card.   ..... or words to that effect... (Before  you hang up, try to get the telephone number of the caller and report it to the police.

07.  *Police ..  Coffee with a Cop

On July 30th, Sykesville, Maryland police officers will be available at a coffee shop for informal discussions with citizens.  This program is called; "Coffee with a Cop" and is designed to get citizens to form a good relationship with the police community.  (A good idea.)

By the Way, the Carroll County TRIAD meetings are based on the same premise.  We meet every third Thursday, every month at the Westminster Senior Activity Center, and the meeting always includes at least one policeman or States Attorney employee.  I am the Citizen coordinator.

08.  *Social Security ..  When to file

As an employee of the Social Security Administration, I supported the advice from the agency that one might do well to take reduced benefits at age 62 rather than 65, because, God forbid, you just might die before you were 65.

Of course, now, times have changed and one might say that age 65 is now 55, so chances of dying between 62 and 65 is probably no longer to be worried about.

Jonathan  Clements writes for the Wall Street Journal and suggest that one wait until age 70 and shows figure that indicate that yearly benefits could be almost $10,000 more if you wait.. of course, you could get early benefits and still work and have your benefits recalculated each year including your new earnings.

09.  New York Times Advertisement

An ad says: "Addressed to Perfection.. The Carlton House at 21 East 61st Street.. at the fashionable intersection of East  61st St and Madison Avenue.  Prices start at $8.6 million."   Wow!

10.  The Grand Old Party?

Michael Quick writes to the New York  Times:  "The Republican Party was the party of powerful ideas in the 1980's and '90's.  Since then, the rise of the Tea Party, Fox News and talk radio have made the GOP the party of shallow thoughts and simple slogans.  Bereft of deep thoughts and big ideas, it has become the party of tactical political advantage ... opposing everything that the Obama Administration proposes...

11.  Tosca!

As I'm writing this, I am listening to  XM/Sirius radio playing an old transcription of a live Met performance of Tosca.  In a minute, Tosca will stab Scarpia and later jump off Sant 'Angelo.  Brava!

12.  Opera!

It used to be: Damn everything but the Circus!  But I think its should be Damn everything but the Opera!  Opera makes me cry sometimes.. and laugh sometimes..  but it always triggers some kind of emotion..  Opera has everything:  Glorious singing;  expressive acting;  interesting plots (sometimes); beautiful costumes; fantastic sets.. usually with slanted stages (how do they keep from sliding down?); and most of all.. wonderful orchestral music! (Try it you'll like it!)

Saturday, July 19, 2014

Immigrant Children; Religion; Hole in the Ground; Write-Ins; Auto Repair Scam; Pizza Con; Wait, Wait; Civil War Draft Notices; Transgender Deaths

Cool day.. in the 70's..  it would be nice to sit outside on the deck and read.. however, our "in the valley" neighbor, Burnie, is doing just that.. burning pine wood pallets on his patio and the smoke is permeating the neighborhood.  Elaine would like to complain about him, but it is easy to tell that Burnie would not like that and then we would have a lot more problems than smelly smoke.  Burnie has lived in his little "pleasure dome" for a lot longer time than we have lived here, and I would rather have him as a neighbor than somebody with a lot of teenage kids with loud amplifiers. 

01.  *Immigrant Children ..  a Different Viewpoint

John Cullom Jr writes to the Carroll County Times:  "Many of the individuals brought into the country illegally have been proven to be criminals and gang members, and have also been diagnosed with communicable diseases."

(I've heard that a lot around Carroll County, but I have not seen or read anything that confirms it.)

02.  *Immigrant Children .. Saving other Honduran Lives?

Members of the "New Hope Church Fellowship Team Honduras" spent a week in Pena Blanca, Honduras. and did "good  works" there. 

Did the Government of Honduras ask them for help?
Did they see any evidence of children preparing to illegally enter the U. S.?
Did it look like a bad place for children to live?
Was this a missionary activity?  Weren't they already Christians?  Maybe Catholics?
Who paid for all those people to travel to Honduras?
Would that money have been better spent in Carroll County?

03.  *Religion .. Psalm Sign

The North Carroll Assembly of God configured their outside sign to say:

"Psalm 33:12  Blessed is the nation whose God is the Lord."

Could someone explain this to me?  Isn't the Lord God?  Isn't God Lord?
I'm mixed up.

04.  *Religion .. More VBS Titles

Two more churches advertised their Vacation Bible School schedules today, with the "catchy" names they have given to their one week fun time for kids. (I can't remember right now, but I think that I sent my three kids to some of these type of Summer sessions: I can remember going to some myself... a long time ago.  In those days, our VBS sessions did not have tricky names to "catch" attendees.

VBS 1:  Gangway to Galilee .. Amazing Grace Adventure
VBS 2:  Jungle Safari

05,  *Religion .. New Caliphate

The new State (Islamic Caliphate) established by force in parts of Syria and Iraq has issued rules that must be followed by Christians and others, if they want to live there.

1. You must be Muslim,  or,
2. You must convert to ISLAM, or,
3.  Pay the Jizya tax, or,
4.  Stay there with your head cut  off.

06.  *Hole in the Ground ..  Pictures?

The newly discovered Siberian "hole in the ground" appeared in 2012, but did not get noticed until now. (How do they know that?) There are interesting pictures on Google, but I could not find any pictures looking down into the hole.  Perhaps the photographers don't want to take a chance and fall down and down and down.. just like Alice in Wonderland.

07.  *Politics .. More Write-Ins

Sean Shaffer will join Jim Rowe in challenging Richard Rothschild for District 4 Commissioner.  Sean was in the Primary, but only got around 4 % of the votes cast (and there sure were not many votes cast!)  Anyway, both Sean and Jim will be  write-in candidates.  Unfortunately, this means that votes against Rothschild will be diluted.  Time will tell.

08.  *Scams ..  Auto Repair

In a twist on an old scam, an auto repair man would send a 94 year old woman a bill each week for over $900.  The lady paid it for a long time until a relative found out and notified police.  The 94 year old had taken her old Plymouth in for minor repair, and each of his bills apparently had a note attached, telling her that the car repairs were almost completed.

(I hope the Judge orders that this auto repair scammer is to have his dip stick removed!)

09.  *Criminals ..  Chutzpah

A shoplifter asked that he be given the phone so that he could make the one call that he was entitled to upon being arrested.  Nobody noticed who he called, until the pizza guy showed up with his order.

10.  Wait, Wait, Don't Tell Me!

The show I love, Wait, Wait, Don't Tell Me! mentioned the following items that interested me:

a.  CIA employees are angry about the food served in their cafeteria:

.. regular Pepsi is coming out of the spigot for Diet Pepsi! and there were cherry tomatoes in the Jazz salad, instead of grapes!

(Poor babies!)

b.  Briefs.. a new case to hold your valuables.. it is painted to look just like a pair of dirty men's Jockey Shorts.

c.  First Lady, Bess Truman, would send her clothes back to Missouri for cleaning.

d.  Food experts have now done magic to create Brusselkale.. yes, all kids will be happy to know that now they can get their Brussell Sprouts and Kale together in one pretty green vegetable.

e.  Chinese couples in Hong Kong love to get married at the Hong Kong McDonald's.  It is famous in that area for staging weddings.

f.  At a Canadian college, one of the classes has the title:  Beyoncé.  I have no idea what is taught in the class, but I can guess.

(Wait a minute!  My Spell Check put that accent over Beyoncé, not me... see, it did it again... amazing!)

g.  A study using brave candidates (in England, I think) spent a lot of time smelling "hydrogen sulphate (namely: fart smell).  Their finding:  smelling farts may prevent strokes and cancer.

(Eleven year old boys have recognized the benefits of fart smelling for years.)

11.  *Government ..  Computer Bug

The United States Selective Service computer had a weird bug, because it caused draft notices to be sent to (the ghosts of?) 14,000 men who were born in the 1800's.  (I'd love to get hold of the one sent to my grandfather Vaughan.)

12.   Transgender Tragedies

For the second time in a month,  a transgender woman was killed in Baltimore.  I hope that this is not a "Jack the Ripper" type crime.  Police are not sure yet if the crimes are related, but I'll bet they are.  There are a lot of nuts out there and transgender people need protection until our culture finally grows up. 

Friday, July 18, 2014

Brother Joe; YUM; Karnak; Master Race; Immigrant Children; Holocaust; Four-winged Fossil Raptor; Teeth; IRS; Pot in DC; North Sudan; HA!

Beautiful Summer day.. low humidity, not too hot.  Went to the Drawing Room Meeting where I live and learned that we are getting closer to obtaining wi-fi in the homes.  Also, put together 10 boxes and now I can get off my dead butt and fill them with stuff and get my "den" in order.

01.  *Joe .. Book Titles

I've mentioned my brother, Joe, before in many places in these blog entries.  Joe is an expert in the English language and is a puzzle expert (sometimes called Ishmael) and he has revised some famous book titles and I will list a few of them every few days:

Harper Lee book about a drunken bird:  Tequila Mockingbird

Victor Hugo book about a runaway thief who gets a pardon:  Less Miserable

Dickens book about a guy who fondles women on the subway: David Cop A Feel

Dumas book about a member of royalty who gets rich inventing a lard substitute:
The Count of Monte Crisco

02.  *Stocks ..  YUM

the Dow Jones average fell, due to the plane crash in the Ukraine;  Stocks were sold off and money was poured into "safe haven" investments like gold and Government bonds.

My YUM stock isn't so "Yummy" because of poor Pizza Hut and  Taco Bell results lately.


Answer: Taco Bell
Question:  Name the Mexican phone company.

03.  County Improvements .. Study Cost

I'm afraid that I have to agree with Richard Rothschild on this one.   A company that will want to sell "improvements" to Carroll County, wants to do a study to find out what "improvements" are needed, and will charge the County $125,000 to do the study.  I find this ridiculous.

04.  The Master Race

In 1934, a Hitler organization magazine featured the picture of a 6-month old child on its cover.  They claimed that this was a picture of a "typical beautiful Aryan child" and Nazis all agreed.  However, this week, Hessy Taft (age 80) donated a copy of the magazine to an Israeli museum because she was the child shown.  The Hitler folks did not know that she was Jewish and the child was kept hidden by her parents and smuggled out of Germany so that she could not be murdered like other Jewish children.  (A fascinating story that shows how stupid the Nazis were.)

05.  *Immigrant Children .. True Colors

Judy Smith of Union Bridge, Maryland, says: "Two of our Commissioners who pray to Jesus at the beginning of Board of Commissioners meetings showed their true colors (in the Immigrant Children situation).  Rothschild and Frazier are, in my opinion, just plain hypocrites, revealing their bigotry once more." 

06.  *The Holocaust .. War Crimes

The U. S. Holocaust Memorial Museum in DC now has a full copy of the U.N. War Crimes Commission archive that was locked for 70 years at the U.N.  The archive, in digital form, is now available for research at the museum.

Individual Criminal examples are  listed in the file, such as:

Helmut Steinmetz murdered a crippled man on the street and also killed a porter with a stick for refusing to carry his luggage.

Elmar Luder Precht, chief dentist for some concentration camps, selected Auchwitz inmates for execution if they had valuable gold or platinum teeth.

I remember reading about some guards killing inmates with nice tattoos, because the skin could be made into beautiful lamp shades.  I assume that is mentioned in the archive.

If I were religious, I would say: "May the Nazis and their sympathizers burn forever in the fires of Hell!"

07.  *Creationism ..  4-wings!

A scientific report says that a newly discovered set of fossil remains indicate that they were from a 4-winged raptor... however, that article did not give an age of the remains.. but I'm sure that they were under 5,000 years old.

08.  Brush and Floss

The English are notorious for having bad teeth, even the Royals, and the actors who play them on television.  And now a report says that a study reveals 26,000 British kids aged 5 through 9, each year, have to be treated for rotten teeth. 

09.  *IRS Scandal .. Or is it?

Are the Republicans hunting for a White House conspiracy?

Democratic Representative Elijah Cummings said it:  "This is not the basis of a White House scandal.  This is the latest example of Republicans desperately searching for one, and then using any excuse they have to manipulate the facts until they no longer have any resemblance to the truth."

10.  *Pot Laws .. District of Columbia

In spite of Republican Representative Andy Harris' underhanded attempt to overrule DC  "home rule type" actions, Reduced Pot Penalties are now in effect in the Nation's Capitol.

11.  New Country in Africa

How are things going in that new African country, The Kingdom of North Sudan?  This was originally an unclaimed piece of empty land in the African desert between Egypt and Sudan.  "King" Jeremiah Heaton claimed the land for his six year old daughter, "Princess" Emily.

12.  Book to  Read ..  HA!

Fellow Boston University graduate, Scott Weems, has written a wonderful book about laughter. I've only read a little of the book so far, but I've learned a lot.

Aristotle said that babies don't have souls until their first giggle  and every baby first laughs at the fortieth day of life.

Scott mentions the laughter infection that started in a girls' school and lasted for months, even infecting villages.

He also mentions that dirtiest of all dirty jokes, The Aristocrats.  If you haven't been exposed to it, avoid it if possible.  If you are overly curious.. just think of every smutty, scatological, dirty word or phrase or situation that an eleven year old snotty-nosed naughty boy has ever dreamed of.. its worse than that.   All of the famous comedians have told their versions of this joke and have hoped that none of their fans have heard them tell it.  It should never be heard outside of the Friars Club.

Scott doesn't actually tell the joke, just talks about it, as a good scientist should do. And there is a lot more to the book than what I have mentioned, and I will be keeping you informed on my progress through this wonderful tome.