Friday, October 31, 2014

Halloween; Health; Sleep; Cousin Charlie

Two dismal days.. but not really cold.

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

Ogden Nash

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 1.  What about "loss" dreams?

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

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

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

2.  What about sleep learning?

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

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

02.  Cousin Charlie

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

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

Sunday, October 26, 2014

Grandparents Day at Montessori; Piggies Day at the Delicatessen.

A beautiful fall day..

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

Samuel Johnson (2709-1784)

01.  A Delightful Friday Morning.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

A Marvelous Day!


Tuesday, October 21, 2014

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

Another coolish but sunny Fall day.

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


1.  Another surprise and loss

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

Rest in Peace, Dee!

2.  Missiles

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

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

3.  BJ's

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

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

4. My Itralian Toast Recipe

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

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

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

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

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

4.  Soak bread in the egg/garlic mixture.

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

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

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

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

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

Servings: 2 granddaughters  (or)  1 Prepop

5.  Wonderful Tips from Readers' Digest

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

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

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

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

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

6. School Daze

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

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

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

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

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

7.  Too much good food?

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

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

Enough for now.

Sunday, October 19, 2014

Good: Bridget's Shower; Bad: Doris' Passing

Nice cool sunny Fall day.

"Pour out the pack of matter to mine ear,
The good and bad together."

Shakespeare  Antony and Cleopatra

This has been both a happy and a sad weekend, let me tell you why:

1.  Bridget's Shower

My granddaughter, Bridget, received a surprise wedding shower on Saturday.  She thought that she was going to get a family picture before her old Prepop (me) passes on to  some kind of reward. 

Relatives and friends met at my old home, now the home of my daughter, Diane, her husband, John and sons, Dylan and Jackson. 

I was able to go into the back yard and commune with the vibes of my late wife, Elaine.  Diane keeps a statue and urn with her ashes there where Elaine would have been pleased to have them.  That night, I had a dream in which I saw Elaine smiling and waiting for me at a restaurant.  It was very very clear and memorable.. I'm sorry that I woke up at that point.  If I were a religious person, I would say that she somehow saw me standing at her memorial and wanted to give me a sign that she was doing ok wherever she is.  She would have loved to have seen her granddaughter, Bridget, all grown up and ready to be married.  I think she would have also have liked Bridget's choice of beaus, Erik, a very nice young man.

Bridget  was surprised with the shower.  Kathleen, Beth and Diane worked very hard to make it a success.  They had goodies to eat and pieces of  a marvelous castle cake from Herman's famous bakery in Highlandtown.  Even though she is diabetic like me, my partner Elaine, ate two pieces.  Her blood sugar level was only 116 this morning, which was a also a surprise.

Bridget got lots of gifts.  Her future mother in law and sisters in law provided enough orange-colored kitchen utensils to last for the whole 80 years of her marriage to Erik. She also received two crock-pots.

I didn't watch it all, but I know that Bridget also got lots of fuzzy towels and bath mats from Elaine and me.. as well as a castle piggy bank with a couple of gold pieces.. so they would never be without money.  Baltimore custom.

Erik's relatives are very nice and friendly.. eharmony match?  They came all the way from Bucks County, Pennsylvania.. somewhere near Allentown and Bethlehem, where cousin Charlie Kraihanzel and his family reside.

Diane's enormous flower gardens are still blooming.  In the back yard, I saw the trees that I planted, and which are now gigantic.  Diane and John have made the yard into a nice retreat, with a hammock, pot-bellied stove, tropical fish pond with lots of koi.  Very nice!

Elaine's grandson, Luka, made himself a hit with the ladies.  He is a charmer.

Elaine's granddaughter, Lily, was a big help in the kitchen, getting a snack food prepared.

I tried to stay out of sight. 

Great Grandson Cameron is getting taller every time I see him.  Elizabeth and Danielle say he doesn't eat much.. but whatever he does eat.. it seems to be doing him a world of good.

Son in law, John Cole, had to rush off to a gig in Damascus  (no, in Maryland, not the one in the Middle East). Later that night, he would also be playing in Westminster.

Grandson, Dylan, was working at his job and showed up as we were about to leave.   He just received an Employee of the Month award.  He'll be running the place someday.  Right now, he needs to finish college.  A degree will be a big help to him.

Grandson, Jackson, was working at his Panera Bread job all day.  He is doing good at Catonsville Community College and has been selected for their famous LaCross team.

Enough.....  I know.. I have forgotten to mention some folks and some activity.. but I need to get to another subject.

2.  Doris Smith

I was completely surprised when I saw an obituary in this morning's Carroll County Times for Doris Smith.  At first I thought that this was a different Doris Smith than the one I knew.  She was 91 years old and in Carroll Hospice.  How did that happen?  I saw her at the October NARFE meeting and she looked great.. in fact I remarked on how good she looked.  She seemed to be enjoying herself.

For a couple of years, I had my Carroll County Social Security Alumni Association Chapter meetings at Bullock's Restaurant.. in fact, they still carry us in their schedules even though we haven't met there for a number of months.

The group had great attendance for a few months, and then, like a lot of groups, attendance began to wane... why? one reason.. no trips any more.  another:  no problems to be solved;  ... another: folks began to die off;  another .. no way to do entertainment at Bullocks, etc etc.   So, we didn't completely disband.. members just stopped coming and I did not pursue it, because there are lots of other more important things for people to think about.  We probably will have a luncheon in the spring, and maybe that will be enough, because we definitely do not want to lose contact with each other.

However, there was one member who came every month without fail.. Doris Smith.  Each month, I would get my 2 chicken legs and coffee and wait for members to show up.  First a bunch, then, less and less.. until one day.. only Doris and I were there for a meeting.  That was ok, because we could spend a lot of time talking about our Social Security experiences, and that was very pleasant. I told Doris that we were not going to meet again and she expressed a little sadness, because I think she enjoyed the contacts with her friends.

There was one thing bad that happened on that last meeting day.   Doris drove herself and entered Bullock's parking lot via the wrong (but I think the safest) entrance.  Unfortunately, a State Policeman had just finished lunch and he gave Doris a ticket. 

I was looking forward to talking with Doris about my throwing an obnoxious person out of one of my TRIAD meetings...who just happened to be 90 years old too.  (shame on me... but you had to be there.)  I'll be going to Doris' funeral next Wednesday.

Farewell, Doris, good friend, I'm going to miss you

Friday, October 17, 2014

Credit Card Debt; Ring Bearer; Shaving; Your Life House; Washing Hands; Marilyn Monroe; Sun Downers; Drunk Drivers; Omega-3; Rheos; Clots; Blood Pressure

Nice Fall day.. the trees are turning colors.. more than usual.  Not as much as in New England, but we'll take what we can get.

This is the 400th entry for this blog!  Wow, pretty soon I'll be as productive as Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart!

"A son belongs to his mother until he takes a wife.
A daughter belongs to  her mother for the rest of her life."

Tomorrow, we go to a wedding shower for my granddaughter, Bridget, who is getting married in December.  She is now is her 20's and is a beautiful, caring, responsible person.  It seems like only yesterday that she was a baby.   "Sunrise, sunset..."  Oy!  I'm going to cry.
I think that today I will just go through some old items that I tagged for the blog.  Not much that is mind-bending.. but maybe just a bit.

1.  Owe on a Credit Card?  Live in New York?

In the State of New York, credit card debt dies with a person's death.   So, don't despair, you won't owe that money forever.

2. Wedding Day Logic

A little kid in the wedding party was growling as he went down the aisle.  After the wedding, someone asked him why.  He replied: "Because I was the ring bear."

3.  Facial Hair

The cap on my Snapple drink says:  "Man spends on the average: 5 months of his life shaving." (That's why I gave it up.)

4.  The House of Your Life

Readers Digest:  Everyone should think of their life as a house with many rooms, and the following rooms should be in everybody's house:

01 Art
02 Letters (Literature)
03 Music
04 Outdoors
05 Sentiment
06 Children
07 Sports (play)
08 Food
09 Religion
20 Work

Does your house have a room for each of these activities?

Based on remarks by Dr. Frank Crane (1881-1928)

5.  Schmutzig!

Readers Digest:  Researchers discretely observed about 4000 people after they used public toilets, and found that only 5% washed their hands long enough to kill germs, 10% didn't wash at all. and 25% didn't use soap.  (Maybe the EBOLA scare will get them to begin to wash their hands.)

6.  Beauty and Brains

Marilyn Monroe was so annoyed at the ignorance of Congress that she bought every member a subscription to I.F. Stone's Weekly.. a newsletter that specialized in lambasting Congress.  (Every member now gets a copy of the Washington Spectator.. similar, I think to Stone's Weekly.) 

7.  When the Sun Goes Down

People who work in the area of Alzheimers Disease, tell us of the Sundowners Syndrome.  This affliction affects many Alzheimers and Dementia patients, and Nursing Home personnel probably all know about it.   The involved patients are quiet and rational all day, until the sun goes down.  Then, all hell breaks loose.  They become abusive, do weird things, and sometimes escape their caregivers.  I don't think anyone knows why.

8.  Drunk Drivers

For many years, I was slightly involved with the MADD organization in Carroll County, Maryland.  The lady who ran it belonged to our Toastmasters Group.   MADD stood for Mothers Against Drunk Drivers and the members of that group were very strong in their campaign against such drivers.  So strong, in fact that some lawyers wanted to stop them from testifying in court, because they said it resulted in punishments that were too harsh for whatever crime was being prosecuted.  I believe that the courts had a hand in making this organization go away in Carroll County.   I could be very wrong about this.

I see where there is now a similar organization in the county.  Catherine's Cause.. run by Phil and Cyndy (whoever they are.)  Good luck to them.

9.  Omega-3?

Harvard Medical School has found no connection between Omega-3 supplements and heart health, and decided that they did not lower triglycerides or prevent heart attacks and strokes.

(Well, I'll continue to take them until my cardiologist says not to.)

10.  The Rheos System

Harvard Medical School mentions a new device designed to lower Blood Pressure as much as 35 points.. the Rheos System works like a pacemaker. 

11.  Clot Busting

Harvard Medical School again:  Some company has come up with a clot-busting drug called alteplase.

12.  Blood Pressure

Harvard Medical School (that fount of medical information) says that you should take your Blood Pressure in both arms.  If you have a difference of 10-15 points or more, you may have cardiovascular  problems.

Maybe it's time that I should subscribe to the Harvard Heart Letter.


Monday, October 13, 2014

Lawsuit against God; Alzheimers story; Social Security story; Bill Cosby Story; Underwear; Hell; Freeze!

Has the Universe gone mad?

01.  Ernie and God

Fox News:  On Sept 17, 2007, Nebraska State Senator Ernie Chambers filed a lawsuit against God in an effort to stop natural  disasters from befalling the world.  (I guess he lost his suit.)

Ernie Chambers, Atheistic State Senator for a North Omaha, Nebraska district represents the New Alliance Party.

Ernie is called the Defender of the Downtrodden.

He chooses not to have an email address..

He wants to eliminate state property tax exemptions for religious organizations. (Sounds good to me.)

He wants to repeal a state cougars hunting season .. on the 22 cougars living in the Pine Ridge area.  Hunters are now allowed to kill up  to 4 of them. (The season closes after one female is shot or the overall quota is met.)

02.  Kind of Sad Story

Every day, a gentleman living at CLV goes to the Health Section to see his wife and feed her breakfast and lunch.  She suffers from Alzheimers, but still recognizes him as her boyfriend and they spend a while each day kissing and saying loving things to each other. Let's hope this situation continues.

03.  Social Security Story

One day, in my early employment at the Social Security Administration, I was walking in the hall behind a rather hefty lady.  All of a sudden, she saw a friend and turned quickly to say "Hello".. and pinned me to the wall.  (I was skinnier then.)  She was so embarrassed by this, that she went on a strict diet and became a beautiful slim lady.  So, you see how I have been able to change people's lives.

04. Bill Cosby

New Yorker Magazine:  During one of his routines, Cosby reminded his children of the father he used to be:  "I changed your diaper," he said.  "I wiped your behind.  When you threw up on yourself, I took the shirt off and cleaned you and put a fresh one on." 

"Right now, I'm going to poop on myself," he said, "and I expect you to fetch soap, a towel, some deodorant, a clean pair of underwear for me, and take care of me."

"First one tries to dial to put me in a home, you're dead, every last one of you."

05.  Lost and Found

Harper's Index:  So far, in 2014, a total of 569 pieces of underwear has been brought to the New York City transit system's lost and found office. 

06.  Maybe

The Week:  Aldous Huxley:  "Maybe this world is another planet's hell."

07.  Freeze!

New York Times:  A 16 year old Japanese exchange student in Louisiana had been invited to a Halloween party.   Unfortunately, he went to the wrong address and rang the bell.  The homeowner came out with a gun and yelled "Freeze"... the student didn't understand him and didn't "Freeze" and was shot and killed by the homeowner.  Now, the Japanese Government is trying to teach all people who go to the US to understand the word "Freeze."

This reminds me of the time I advertised to buy a piece of barbell equipment and when I went to examine one that was offered, I noticed a machine gun next to the front door.  I asked about it and was told that if the owner didn't recognize who was at his front door, he would gun them down.  Amazing!

OK... enough!

Department Store Adventure

A dark and dismal day for a change.. and rather chilly.. upper 50's.

Elaine had a very frustrating session at Westminster's Boscov's department store recently.  I wrote up her experience to send to Mr. Boscov, but Elaine doesn't want me to.  However, I am including it here so that any Boscov customers may read about the experience and be wary.  As you can see, Elaine had both good and bad encounters.

....................................................................................................................................................                                                         ..............................

A Question for Mr. Boscov

(This is a recap of my four hour adventure at Boscov's Store in Westminster, Maryland on 10/03/2014)

3:00 PM to 5:00 PM

A pleasant and helpful clerk assisted me in selecting a number of bathroom items for a bridal shower.

I paid for my selections with a personal check for around $67. In the middle of checking me out, the computer froze, and the clerk had to input all of the items again. (Personal observation... you might need a new computer system. The clerk was very frustrated with it.)

I took my selections to the gift wrapping area and another nice clerk wrapped them in a special way that was thoughtful and pleasing to me. (There, I saw a smiling cardboard Mr. Boscov, with his hand out in friendship.)

5:00 PM to 7:00 PM

Next, I took the elevator to the first floor, where I attempted to return some items. I usually purchase only Alfred Dunner clothes, but a few weeks ago, I decided to try other brands. I purchased 3 blouses, 1 by check and the other 2 by in-store credit.

I wore each of these items only once, because each shrunk to almost half of their original size, even though I followed the washing instructions. So, I brought the three items in for refunds.

I was told by a clerk that I could only get a refund on the blouse with the receipt. She was very adamant about that. Luckily, I had brought along a copy of the Sunday advertisement for Boscov's, in which a headline read.

"Refunds readily given if not satisfied. We're not happy until you smile."

This resulted in some sighing and telephone calls, apparently to management somewhere in the building.

After long consultation, it was decided that I could get a refund for the one blouse with the receipt, and a $2.99 refund for one blouse because it was still on sale in the store. There was to be no refund for the other blouse because it had been discontinued.

So, for three blouses costing about $42 when purchased, I received $9.99 in in-store credit for the defective items. I was not smiling, but did not pursue it.

Next, I picked out two suits and a sweater after squeezing through very narrow aisles in my wheelchair. I asked a clerk if I could hang them on her clothes hanger near the checkout while I looked for some other items. She said "yes". When I came back with the new items, the original items were nowhere to be seen. One of the clerks had re-stocked them.

Back I went through the aisles until I found the 3 items. I retrieved them and took them back to the clerk's area. Now my new items were gone. Restocked while I was retrieving my original items.

I told the clerk that I needed to get my newly picked items back and would she let me keep the 3 original items there again while I tried to find my new items again... yes, they had also been restocked.

Guess what... when I returned with my newly found items, the other stuff had been restocked.    Now I knew that this wasn't real life and I was in a Marx Brothers Comedy.

After another trip I got my original 3 items back and the new stuff was somehow retrieved.. and now, I could pay for the items and get some food because my stomach was in turmoil.

I gave the clerk my personal check for about $175. and it was refused. I was told first that it was a computer problem (computer again?) and then, after looking at some kind of Boscov standards sheet, that instead, it was because of identity theft safeguards. Huh? What about the check of $67 that was accepted almost three hours earlier.

My checking account contains thousands of dollars and I have never been questioned about a check before. This was extremely embarrassing and frustrating. After many more telephone calls by the clerks, I was told.. "sorry". But, instead of just leaving everything there and walking out in a huff, I managed to get someone else to use a credit card to get my purchases out of hock.

In spite of some good experiences at your store.. there was an almost overwhelming amount of bad experiences. But I'm sure this is funny and I will get lots of laughs when I mention this at my clubs. But maybe not.

So, I put my question to that smiling cardboard man named Mr. Boscov who was putting out his hand to me in friendship at the gift wrapping counter, hoping to make me smile because of a great experience in his store:

What would you do for a formerly smiling customer of Boscov's to keep her as customer?


Wednesday, October 08, 2014

Winterthur; Kidney Stone; Mae West; The Pope; Koch Brothers; Biology; Wendy's; Sculpture Trap; Pet/Master Burial; Triggering; Dead or Alive

Nice day... sunny, windy and warm.

"How pleasant it is to have money, heigh-ho!
How pleasant it is to have money."

Arthur Hugh Clough (1819-1861)''

01.  Winterthur

Yes, the DuPont's had money, lots of it.  Elaine and I visited Winterthur yesterday on a bus tour.  We took a tour of the mansion (now a museum) and saw all of the goodies that money could buy in the 1920's.  This is, of course, where the US is heading these days.. the moneyed "haves" and the poor "have nots"..  and this mansion with it's 53 beautiful rooms of antiques and Americana reflect affluence..  indeed, this mansion was where the US State Department sent foreign visitors to let them see how the "average rich American" lived during the 1920's.

After the house tour, we ate some lunch and then came back to the museum for the Downton Abbey Costume Exhibit.  I had wondered how they would be able to make an exhibit out of costumes actually worn in the show.  But it was very well done.. with clips from the television sequences in which each costume was worn. It was extremely interesting.  I had to hustle Elaine out of there or we would have missed the bus.

Incidentally, in attendance were 500+ women of Red Hatter age and 5 men of indiscriminate age.

02.  The Agony.. no Ecstasy

Per Chuck Shepherd:  Steve Grossman,  running for Governor of Massachusetts, was at a candidate forum recently and answered questions of all kinds, while simultaneously passing a painful kidney stone.  (Give that man a medal!)

3.  Naughty Advertisement

"If you get an erection lasting four hours or more, call me."  Mae West

4.  Over Flight

Only 2 World War  II airplanes showed up at the Westminster Air Port last weekend for the Wings of Freedom Tour.  The Carroll County Times says that it costs $5,000 each hour to fly one of those air crafts.  I wonder what it cost in WWII, when petroleum was a lot cheaper.

5.   The Pope and Catholicism

Jim Hightower:  "Like a hurricane, a new pontiff - and a new ethic - hit the Catholic hierarchy.  Pope Francis lives a Spartan life and goes openly and gladly among the masses, while stressing simplicity and personal humility as the proper demeanor for the clergy."  Archbishops are already arguing about this... some want to retain the "kiss my ring" philosophy. 

Archbishops and Cardinals are kind of conservative anyway, and kind of funny sometimes too.  When I was about 8 years old, my friends and I would listen to the Archbishop of Boston recite the Rosary on the radio.. and we would crack up because what he always said was:  "Hail Mary, full of grass..."  We certainly were irreverent little bastards, and we knew that Grass meant Pot at the time. 

6.  The Koch Brothers

Progressive Populist:  The Koch brothers "control the Republican Party from sea to shining sea, and have made clear their agenda:

They don't believe in climate change, and want no regulations on their oil companies;

They want their taxes reduced to almost nothing;

They oppose reform and regulation of Wall Street;

They don't believe in a minimum wage;

They don't believe in unemployment compensation;

They don't believe in student loans;

They don't believe in Social Security;

They don't believe in Medicare;

They don't believe in Medicaid;

They think public education should be privatized."

7.  Biology Class (for incoming Freshmen)

David P. Barash in the New York Times:09/28/14

Argument from complexity:  "As the existence of a complex structure like a watch demands the existence of a watchmaker, the existence of complex organisms requires a supernatural creator."

Darwinian rebuttal:  "An entirely natural and undirected process, namely random variation plus natural selection, contains all that is needed to generate extraordinary levels of non-randomness.  Living things are extremely complex, but still within the range of a statistically powerful, entirely mechanical phenomenon."

Argument from centrality: "Human-beings are distinct from other life-forms.. made in God's image."

Darwinian rebuttal:  "Even though species are identifiable, there is an underlying linkage among them, literally and phylogenetically." 

Argument about theodicy:  "Efforts to reconcile belief in an omnipresent, omnibenevolent  God with the fact of unmerited suffering; (see: Job)"

Darwinian rebuttal: "The more we know of evolution, the more unavoidable is the conclusion that living things, including human beings, are produced by a natural, totally amoral process, with no indication of a benevolent  controlling creator."

 Note:  I have altered Mr. Barash's words a little, but I believe I have kept the meaning intact.

8.  Wendy's

As a shareholder of Wendy's, from time to time I visit one of their shops to see how they are doing.  Last week I went to the one in Westminster, Maryland and this was my experience:

Elaine ordered 1/2 Asia Salad

She got a whole Asia Salad
Chicken was hard and dry.
Edamine was burned.
No cashews.
Asked for cashews, got spicy nuts.. not cashews.''

Elaine ordered raspberry lemonade, she got a non-mixed mélange of bad tastes.

I ordered a hamburger.. absolutely no cheese.   I got a hamburger with a slice of cheese on top and a slice of cheese underneath.

The clerk was new obviously and paused after every item was ordered or prepared.  It took a long time to get our food and we opted not to complain because we felt it would take more time to be resolved.

Now.. why am I writing this?  Because I also am a shareholder in Tim Horton's, the Canadian firm that Wendy's will be matching up with.  Tim has a lot more sales in Canada than Wendy's has in the US.  How will that work?  I don't think Wendy's will succeed in Canada unless they start  to do a better job of training their personnel.

Meanwhile, I'll try another Wendy's to see if our experience was an exception .. if not, I will write to the corporate headquarters. 

9.  Home to Mama

Harper's Index:  An American student became somehow trapped in a 32 ton sculpture of a vagina in Germany.  It took a whole firefighting company to free  him.

10.  After Blessing Your Pet

Harper's Index:  It costs $795 to be buried beside  your pet at the People and Pet Gardens in Hermitage, Pennsylvania. 

11.  Dangerous Workshop?

Carroll County TimesIMA World Health, a faith-based international non-profit, is based in New Windsor, Maryland and is sponsoring a workshop on sexual and domestic violence.  One sentence about the workshop says "Some workshop content is sensitive and may cause 'triggering' for survivors and those affected by violence."

12.  Is he really dead?

Chuck Shepherd:  James Jordan died in Brooklyn, New York in 2006, but police officers have pushed themselves into his home 12 times since then, looking to arrest  him.  Police have said that they don't believe his death certificate, which is taped to the front door.. and continue to search the home for him. 

Monday, October 06, 2014

PCB Contamination; Supreme Court Picks; God; Canine Sniffing; Little Buddy; Michael Phelps; Voting Age; Bomb Threat; Farming; Legislation; End Times; Animal Blessings

Coolish day, but very sunny and pleasant.

"Matilda told such Dreadful Lies,
It made one Gasp and Stretch one's Eyes;
Her Aunt, who, from her Earliest Youth,
Had kept a Strict Regard for Truth,
Attempted to Believe Matilda:
The effort very nearly killed her."

Hilaire Belloc (1870-1953)

01.  Why I am the Way I am.

While doing the New York Times Sunday Puzzle, there was a clue about PCB's and I went to the Internet to learn more about the compound.

At NOAA (Nation Ocean Services) I read that "PCB contamination is high in the Housatonic River and New Bedford, Massachusetts."  Since I grew up at New Bedford, this, of course, caught my interest.

PCB (polychlorinated biphenyls) was banned in 1979 ... PCB's were made for things like capacitors and electric appliances such as TV sets or refrigerators and were output from factories like New Bedford's Cornell Dubilier (I think that my mother worked there for a while during World War II.) Cornell Dubilier waste was pumped directly into New Bedford's Acushnet River.

I spent a good part of my early years swimming in all of New Bedford's water... there was an 11 mile coastline, with river and ocean frontage...  and I took advantage of it all.. playing there almost every day, except for the Winter months.

So.. these chemicals have probably made me the way that I am... you can decide whether that is a good or bad condition.  (I did notice that whenever I went swimming with an open sore on my body, by the time I dried up from my swim, the sore had caked over and had begun to heal.)

02.  Important Cases Pop Up

The Supremes have decided not to hear the same sex cases this term.  So, same sex marriage will now be legal in states like Virginia and Utah.

The Justices will, however, hear some other interesting cases, including, as follows:

a.  The appeal of a fishing boat captain who threw his undersized catch overboard and was charged with obstruction of justice
     (Yates vs US)

b.  Alabama moved 120,000 black residents into already majority black election districts, ensuring racial gerrymandering, which is supposed to be illegal. 
     (Alabama Legislative Black Caucus vs Alabama)

c.  Is it an exercise of free speech to threaten to kill your wife on a post to Facebook?
     (Elonis vs US)

d.  Should pregnant women be exempt from normal duties because of their condition, such as lifting 70 pound packages"?
     (Young vs UPS)

03.  Old Story about God's Picture

On the Ted radio program, one of the presenters told an old story, as follows:

A 7-year old girl was drawing a picture and her grandfather asked her:
"What are you drawing, dear?"
The little girl said: "I'm drawing a picture of God."
"But nobody knows what God looks like."  said the grandfather.
The little girl answered: "Well, they will now."

04.  Canine Sniffing

Our good friend Hermine Saunders wrote her Sunday column about the many breakthroughs being made by using dogs to sniff out diseases.  They apparently are very good at it.  However, we were sorry to see that Hermine left off information about "Lab reports."

05.  Funny News

Wait Wait Don't Tell Me:  Soon, you'll be able to get a cell phone that comes with a little phone ("little buddy"

WWDTM:  There was a food poisoning outbreak at the recent food safety conference.

WWDTM:  A guy waited in line to get to the teller, where he put in a request to "give me all  your money."  The teller said: "I'm sorry, but I will need two forms of ID."

The guy got back in line while he searched his wallet for the two items.

06.  One of our Sports Heroes

Olympian Baltimorean Michael Phelps was recently arrested for driving 84 MPH and crossing double lines in the Harbor Tunnel.  He is also charged with DUI.

Good work, Michael.... time to grow up!

07.  Voting Change

Did I hear correctly?  16 year olds are now allowed to vote in Scotland.  OMG!

08.  Marcy's Charges Dropped

Giant employee Marcy has had her charges dropped for arson and threat against a public official because a witness evaporated.  Also, a guy named Michael was solely charged with the false statement of a destructive devise in Court. 

So, was all of the story wrong?  Was she just sitting at work minding her own business and casually said "maybe I should call in a bomb threat to avoid a court date"  and was Michael just standing nearby and decide on his own to help her out?  Did Giant fire her?  Will she take action to get redress for false imprisonment?  Time will tell.

09.  Produce etc

Farmers are doing OK.  Soybeans are fully podded and tomatoes are almost all harvested.   Winter crop planting has begun in fields that have been harvested.

10.  Truism

Fellow NARFE member, Dave Pyatt, quotes Otto von Dismarck:

"Two things the public should never see being done is sausage making and legislation."

11.  The End Times

The Reverend Mike Taylor is at it again, trying to scare people about preparations for the "End Times" in his periodic "religion"  column.  Yes, I know, we have free speech.. however,, the problem with what Mr. Taylor says is that some people might believe his nonsense.

12.  Bless my Pet Skunk!

Another questionable religious activity (in my opinion) is the upcoming "blessing of the animals" at the Deer Park United Methodist Church in Smallwood, Maryland.  If it rains, the animals are welcome to come inside to poop.