Saturday, November 29, 2014

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

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

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

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

01.  Bzzzzz!

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

I see a lot in his picture: 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

02.  Freedom of religion?

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

03.  Freedom of location?

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

04.  Lower your blood pressure?

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

05.  Encounter?

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

06.  Catholic Viewpoints.

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

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

07.  Hello! Are you there?

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

08.  Get me 'outta here!

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

09.  Opinions on The Human Race.

Jon Winokur lists in the Funny Paper:

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

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

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


Wednesday, November 26, 2014

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

Snow: 3 inches.  Winter is here.

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

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

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

01. Here comes the parade!

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

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

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

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

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

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

02.  There goes the parade!

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

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

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

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

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

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

03. How's the weather up there?

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

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

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

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

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

04.  Hot stuff.

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

05. Facility with Language.

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

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

06.  Frustrating to Crooks.

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

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

07.  Take a deep breath!

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

Ok, let's take a breather now.

Monday, November 24, 2014

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

30 degrees yesterday, 70 degrees today.. wow!

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

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

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

01.  Personalized Salad?

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

02.  Home Invasions?

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

03.  Wipe your nose!

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

04. Shame Shame!

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

05.  Cluck Cluck!

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

06.  Coo Coo!

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

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

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

08. Christmas Gifts?

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

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

Restored Typewriter: $950. (1950's)

Stadium Infield Dirt from all 30 Ballparks: $249.

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

09.  Dumb Criminal

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

10.   Another Dumb Criminal

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

11. Oodles of Noodles

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

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

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

Monday, November 17, 2014

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

Rainy and cold.. three weeks to the full Moon

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

"Why do you do that?"

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

"Whaddaya mean?"

"It's my job."

"How is it your job?"

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

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

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

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

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

Thursday, November 13, 2014

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

S N O W  !!

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

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

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

What the hell is a Gloaming?

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

01.  Hawaii and Pineapple

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

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

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

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

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

02. Delaware and Tea Parties

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

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

03.  New York Style

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

04.  Telephone Report for October 2014

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

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

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

I received 25 calls that I could not identify.

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

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

05.  Pilgrimage Site?

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

06.  More on President Nixon

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

07.  More on the Election

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

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

 08.  Another Idea from Elaine Lottes

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

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

Think about that!

09.  A Billionaire's Advice

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

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

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

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

11. Leno-speak.

Funny Times/John Winokur:

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

12.  Coinages?

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

Tuesday, November 11, 2014

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

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

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

Alexander Pope (An Essay on Man)

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

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

01.  AARP Notes

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

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

Nice song.    Want to hear my latest?  Good:

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

So, be careful of what  you wish for.

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

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

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

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

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

02.  Dancing Joke

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

03.  The Senate's Big Shot

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

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

04.  Does the Religious Right feel energized?

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

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

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

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

06.  It was time..

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

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

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

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

08. New Source of Good Protein

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

09.  What's a Lame Duck to do?

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

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

or.. initiate Price Controls like Nixon did.

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

10.  Speaking of that "Tricky" President

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

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

11. Student Loan Forgiveness

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

12.  More Baltimore Trivia

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

Thursday, November 06, 2014

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

Rainy and 50 degrees most of the day.

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


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

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

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

01. Politics

OK, OK I was wrong.....

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

What is the plan for the Republicans in 2015 anyway?

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

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

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

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

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

02.  Time to Think

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

03.  Today in Westminster, Maryland

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


Tuesday, November 04, 2014

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

Beautiful Sunny Day for the Election

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

From Cole Porter (with modifications by Mitch Edelman)

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

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

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

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

01.  TRIAD .. Skimming Activity

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

02.  TRIAD .. Dumb Emailer

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

03.  TRIAD .. Dumb Neighbor

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

04.  Rest In Peace Elliott

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

07.  New Authors (to me)

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

Emile Gaboriau .. called the Edgar Allen Poe of France

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

08.  Can't keep us down!

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

09. Christmas in Baltimore, Maryland

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


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


Sunday, November 02, 2014

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

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

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

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

Ogden Nash

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

01.  Baltimore Trivia

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

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

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

02.  Voter-ID Law Reinstated

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

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

03.  Facebook for the Rich

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

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

04.  Maryland Churchgoers

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

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

05.  Wise Words

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

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