Friday, January 30, 2015

Wagner; Drugs; Tights; Malarkey; Zip Code; RIP Woody; Drones; Satellites; Pet Phones; Bachman; Guns; Terrorist; Costly Laughs; Mugshot; Burger!

Hi!  My XM Satellite Radio is on Met Opera Radio Channel 74 and is playing nice music from Lohengrin by Richard Wagner.   It amazes me that a confirmed bigot like Wagner was able to produce such marvelously melodic music.  Some of the top-graded Nazis loved his music.  They wouldn't have liked it if Wagner had Jewish blood... although there were some rumors to that effect.

I read the other day that some German Generals were enjoying watching the horn-wearing fat ladies sing in Walhalla even as Russian troops were penetrating the outskirts of Berlin in one of the last days of World War II.

But.. as melodic as Wagner was.. he could never come close to equaling Herr Mozart.

Well.. that's enough of that .... let's see if I can come up with a dozen (probably unrelated) items of interest from the last couple of months.

01.  Maybe the dumbest guy in jail.

If I remember correctly, a State Policeman stopped a car for a traffic violation.   When the cop asked the driver to show him some identification, the guy pulled a baggie out of his pocket, in which there was a white powder, and on which was written in ink in big letters: DRUGS!

02.  I get no satisfaction!

According to The Week magazine, a woman sued the manufacturer of Kushyfoot Shaping Tights because they didn't give her the "super-satisfied" feeling that was promised in their advertisements.

03.  Behold!  The Heavenly Hoax!

All of those folks who were feeling comfortable about their demise will now have to rethink it all,  because Alan Malarkey has finally admitted that he made up the whole afterlife story outlined in:  The Boy Who Came Back from Heaven.  It was all just a bunch of malarkey!

04.  Why do you need to know my zip code?

Watchit.. if you give your zip code to the clerk in a store when it is not necessary, the store may be able to sell it .. and I don't know how.. they may be able to get you on a junk mailing list.. (btw I love junk mail.. but that is a story for another time).. However, you may need to provide a zip code when you use a credit card at an untended gasoline pump.. its an added security measure. 

05.  Rest In Peace, Woody.

Today, I attended the funeral of my friend, Ralph Wood, alias Woody.  Woody passed away after suffering illness for six months.  Woody worked at the Social Security Administration for many years and was a member of my Carroll County Chapter of the Social Security Alumni Association.  He was also a fellow member of the Carroll County Chapter of the National Active and Retired Federal Employees. 

Woody's wife, Val, had chosen a coffin with the same color and look of the Corvette that he cherished for many years.  It also had the number "3" emblazoned on its lid.. that number having importance to car guys like Woody.

One of his friends gave a eulogy and mentioned how when his daughter was born and was to be baptized at home, the preacher forgot to bring holy water.. so, Woody reached into  his pants pocket and brought out a small bottle of Kentucky moonshine, which was used appropriately, in place of the holy water.

06.  Harper's Index Items

These are from Harper's Magazine for May 2011  (Yes, I'm a little behind in some of my reading.)

(Drones)  A minimum of 600 people were killed by CIA drone attacks in Pakistan in 2010. (Think about that!)

(Satellites) There are at least 22,000 man-made objects orbiting earth. (Including Space Station waste?)

(Pet Phone) On my 77th birthday, a U.S. patent was issued for a phone with which pets can call their owners.

(Jailbird) The youngest person facing life without parole in the U.S. in 2011 was 13.  (And I'll bet that was in Texas.)

07.  The Week Items

OK, well then here are some items from The Week magazine for December 2011. (Same excuse)

(Scholar) Michele Bachman said that if she became President, she would shut down the embassy in Iran.  Unfortunately, the U.S. hasn't had an embassy in Tehran since the 1980 hostage crisis.

(Gun Control) A duck hunter from Utah disembarked to set some duck decoys.  He left his loaded shotgun in the boat and his excited dog somehow discharged the gun, wounding him in his butt with 27 pellets of birdshot. (Serves his ass right!)

(Gun out of Control) On November 25, 2011, Americans bought at least 129,166 firearms... a record.

08. More items from The Week.. but from 2014

(Terrorist Tot) Atlanta school officials made a kindergartner sign a "safety contract" promising to not hurt herself or other kids.. after she pointed a crayon at a classmate and said "pew, pew".   (The so-called school officials should be made to sign a "stop being stupid contract."

(LOL) A comedy club in Barcelona added 38 cents to customers' bills for every time they laughed.  (I read that Jay Leno is doing stand-up again... the last monologue I watched him do would have not cost me one cent...  he sure needed a new writer.)

(Mugwump) A woman in Ohio went into a police station  to complain about her unflattering mug shot on their website.  It had been posted because they were looking for her to charge her with robbery.  Guess what?

(Birthday Burger)  Ruby Tuesday emailed me a coupon for a free burger for my birthday.   So... I want a Glamburger like they sell in London.. it is made with New Zealand venison and Kobe beef, topped with Iranian saffron, white truffle from Italy, and Beluga caviar from Russia.  It's topped with a 24 karat gold leaf and sells for $1,800.

OK.. that's enough, I'm sure you will agree.

Wednesday, January 28, 2015

Snow and Blow; Trust Fund Transfers SSIDI; Taxes; UFOs; Eating while driving; Mozart and Haydn; Social Security; Arthritis;

Well, we missed the big snow blow that hit New  Bedford, Massachusetts pretty hard, sticking out into the Atlantic the way it and Cape Cod do.  Now, tomorrow, the excitable weather folks are warning of another "snow storm of the century".  Come on, guys.. there has got to be other news that you can concentrate on.  How about in depth reporting on the changes just made concerning Trust Fund transfers that will probably reduce SSIDI payments to people who really need it.  And, why no reporting on the lack of tax increases for the wealthy 1%?

Well.. I have only 45 minutes.. let's see how much commentary I can come up with for a few items.

01.  "They are probably monitoring our stupidity."

Information from the Air Force's "Project Blue Book" is now online, and folks who have read the information have found 700 "unidentified" objects from 1947 to 1969. If this piques your curiosity, check on current UFO "sightings" at  Very interesting.

02.  Wait a minute... we can't do this?  Are you serious?

According to The Week magazine, a Georgia man was ticketed for "distracted driving" while eating a hamburger.  The cop was quoted as saying: "You can't just go down the road eating a hamburger." 
I'll bet you can in France!  "To hell with you, copper, I'll continue to eat as I drive.  Try to stop me!"

03.  Oh, Wolfie.. you rascal!

The BBC Music magazine writes about a bit of Mozart fun.  He and Haydn once had a bet for a case of champagne.  Haydn said that Mozart could not write anything that he, Haydn, could not play.  Mozart called his bluff and wrote a piece of music that required the right hand to be playing at one end of the keyboard, while the left hand played at the other end.. and with a note to be played right in the middle of the keyboard.  Can you play it? Haydn said: "Impossible."  Mozart showed the skeptical Haydn by simply leaning forward and pressing the key with his nose.  So.. Wolfie won the bet "by a nose."  Unfortunately, the musical piece has been lost. 

04.  When to take Social Security.

When I worked in a District Office capacity at the Social Security Administration, I often answered letters from people who wanted to know if they should begin their Old Age benefits at age 62, or wait  until age 65.  One of those persons who wanted to know was my father in law.  He had been a Republican business man who always thought that he would never want to take Social Security money.. he said that he didn't believe in it.   I told him that he had contributed all of his working life and the money was there for him  to use as he saw fit. 

I finally convinced him to think about filing... he then wanted to know if he should take it now.. at age 62 or wait and get a larger amount at age 65.  I convinced him to "take the cash and let the credit go," because who knew how long one would live.   He did so and was so happy that he had a separate "small" check coming in each month that he could use for coffee and donuts and fishing line and other things.. that way, he never had to tap into his bank accounts.

Michael Silverstein has written a poem in the Progressive Populist.  The title is When to Take Social Security.  Michael writes that financial planners usually advise clients at 62 to wait until age 67 or 70, to get a larger monthly amount.  Michael's poem goes:

Wen it comes to So. Security
All the experts seem to feel
Wait to take this pension money
That's the long-run better deal.

I ain't saying that their numbers
Aren't figured right or rigged
But another way to figure
To a poet's view I've twigged.

Take the cash said  Omar Khayyam
And the credit due ignore
Cash today is spending money
When you wait the take ain't sure.

True at some time in the future
This approach may leave you broke
That's kinda sad but something sadder
Before that time arrives you croak.

Michael has written some satirical books of poetry, including: Songs of Wall Street, Beltway Follies and Street Verse.  I can't wait to read a comic novel he has written:  Fifteen Feet Beneath Manhattan.  Check him out at

05. Do your Joints Ache?

Elaine and I both have touches of arthritis.  But, we both go to appointments with one of the nation's foremost arthritis experts.   His name is Robert Shaw,  MD and he is an instructor at Johns Hopkins, is on all kinds of medical boards related to his practice, which centers on Carroll County Maryland.  We take his advice very seriously.

We have also read where local weather factors can increase arthritis pain.  There is a place where you can get information on the weather where you live and the predicted daily joint-pain level.

There is also another place where you can find information on how arthritis is bothering you and can offer ways to treat and manage it.

OK.. my time is up.  See Ya!


Wednesday, January 21, 2015

Snow; Birds; Sarah Palin; President Obama; Relaxation

SNOW!!!  A nice wet heavy snow.. lingering on the tree limbs and it looks very nice..  the guy next door is out shoveling his sidewalk...  he is older than I am, and should be taking life easy.  But, he is a nice guy .. and if he wants to play "macho man", that's ok with me.. but I'm not going to.

I talked to another friend earlier today, and he said that his wife was out shoveling...  smart man.

"The snow had begun in the gloaming..."  That damn "gloaming" again...  today's snow was predicted for the morning rush  hour... but it didn't show up until ten a.m.  It just stopped about an hour ago so that our backyard deer can forage around while it is still light out.   Or.. do deer have eyes like cats do?  I doubt it.

Hundreds of birds were jumping all over our feeder set up today.  Getting their tummies full so they can survive for another month.

"Ou sont les neiges d'antan?"  Yes, snow has this habit of looking great for a short time and then it melts... even in Alaska.  Hey, I wonder how Sarah Palin is doing?  Haven't heard from her for some time.  Maybe she is still on Fox News..?

The President gave his State of the Nation Speech last night... I though it was a wonderful speech.. his best yet.  However, listening to criticism from some callers on CSPAN this morning, I felt queasy in my stomach... this was the President of the United States of America, for crying out loud!  Why would you want to insult him?   However, he did have lots of people who agreed with what he said and thought that he said it very well.

I find it very easy to detect bigotry in the words that some callers used.  It seems to me that they would not sound so bitter with life if they would just relax.  "Let the good times roll!"   The Market is way up; inflation is way down; gas prices continue to drop; I see "help wanted" signs around town; 7 weeks from now, it will be Spring again;  "We should all be as happy as kings!"

A Dios, Muchachos. 

Friday, January 16, 2015

Cold; Encyclopedias; Mortgage Refinancing; Ben Bernanke; Hitler; Citizens United

Cold.... how does one become a "snowbird" and vacation during January and February in Sarasota or Fort Lauderdale, Florida?

"A little rule, a little sway,
A sunbeam on a Winter's day,
Is all the proud and mighty have
Between the cradle and the grave."

John Dyer 1700?-1758

Yes, Baby, it's cold outside! But, don't despair, there are only 7 weeks to go before we can enjoy Spring again.  Yesterday, a guy  told me that he had seen crocus blooming!  I planted hundreds of crocus bulbs during the past couple of years... not one came up.   Why?  Squirrels, I bet.

Hey, how many of you used to sell Encyclopedias?  How many of you still have encyclopedias in your home?  How many of you have ever looked something up on your encyclopedia?

At one time, it was a sign of upper middle class snobbery to have a set in your home.  It was an expensive item that gave one a feeling of being in the knowledge nobility.  Some college students may have even used them once in a while.  Now we have Google and everybody is a noble genius, regardless of class.

Before I moved to my current location, I had to get rid of three or four sets of encyclopedias.  But Yard Salers would not take them; my grandchildren did not want them;  the garbage man would not take them.   I finally did find a Goodwill store that would take them off my hands.. I took them out of my car, put them on the ground in front of the store, and a guy came out, picked them all up and transferred them to a giant garbage dumpster.  He didn't want to give me a receipt.

Sorry.. that wasn't interesting at all.

Something that I did find interesting was what Ben Bernanke mentioned recently.. he was rejected  when he tried to refinance his DC home.  He no longer is employed, so some computer program did not think he was a good financial risk.

Chuck Shepherd reports that the Swiss retail firm Migros printed Hitler's face on a batch of the company's coffee creamer pods.  A company spokesman said he had no idea why that happened.

Arthur Blaustein says that the only hope to overthrowing Citizens United, will be the retirement of Justice Kennedy, Scalia, or Thomas, when a Democratic President will be able to appoint a moderate to the Supreme Court, who could vote to reverse it. 

Ok Ok.. I know this is a lousy blog entry.. but I needed to enter something to make sure that my limited audience knows that in spite of two weeks of hacking coughing, I am still alive.  So is Elaine.  See ya!

Monday, January 12, 2015

Coughing; Bigamy; Monogamy; Frazier; Rothschild; Carroll County, Maryland;

Damn cold!

Well, it's been over a week since I entered something into this blog.. Elaine and I have had bad coughs..  I feel better right now.. but Elaine is still hacking away.

Oscar Wilde: "Bigamy is having one wife too many.  Monogamy is the same."

Now.. I'm in big trouble if Elaine sees this.  So, don't let her know.

Let's catch up on a few items in the news:

01.  Carroll County Maryland Commissioners ... on the mark ... get set....

Carroll County elected 5 commissioners (at least 3 too many, in my opinion).. the voting outcome: Commissioner Robin Frazier lost her seat and tried to be a write-in.   Lost both time.  I'd say, the people have spoken in this regard.... but... not so fast, because one of the elected commissioners was tagged to help out the new Maryland Republican Governor, and a spot was open for a pick by the Carroll County Republican leaders... and guess who they picked?   That's right.. a lady that one of the other commissioners says was the choice of outhouse rats:  Our favorite loser: Robin Frazier.

In addition, the voters returned violent anti-Socialist and other conspiracies champion, Richard Rothschild.  So.. there we have it... the Mutt and Jeff.. or Abbott and Costello, ... or Martin and Lewis.. whatever... I am looking forward to another year of comedic relief from my favorite nut-balls, Frazier and Rothschild.  Lots of fun ahead in 2015.

02.  Getting rich on mail

Hey, another day of mail with money attached.   This month, so far, I have received around $1 in loose change from various organizations trying to give me a guilt trip for receiving coins in the mail.  No.. sorry.. if you send it to me.. it's mine.  Today, there was a total of .55 cents attached to my mail.  That money is going into my piggy bank.

During each month, I receive notepads, pictures, greeting cards, books, stamps, and lots of other stuff.  I bundle it up and donate it to AARP where it is distributed to poor folks.

I have a post office box that I devote to weird mail, and for years, I received mail with $1 enclosed.. "for filling out a survey".. hey.. no problem.  I got my dollar, they got my advice.   Recently, that has slowed down considerably... times must be tough.

03.  Sad day for Scandinavians.

Anita Ekberg has passed at age 83.  You know.. she still looked good at age 80.

I've mentioned elsewhere on this blog about the Norwegian fishermen friends of my wife before we were married.  She said that they were always talking about someone named Annie Take-back....   well, in Norwegian, that is what Anita Ekberg sounds like.

04.  Christian Science Monitor Newsletter

I received the first copy of the Monitor today.  I'm trying it to see if it is still the good source of news that it was the last time I subscribed... some 50 years ago.   It that time, it was mainly a newspaper... with different sections.   One section, was a translation of Christian Science information in a European or African language.   For instance, this was the first place that I found some Afrikaans to translate.

Anyway... the religion was minimal, the International news was massive... my interest was also massive.  I enjoyed the paper.. until the price became too high for me to continue.

I'm trying it again to see if it can get my interest again.

Incidentally, while I went to school in Boston... from time to time, I would visit the church's offices in Scolley Square ( I believe) and get free copies in different languages that I could use to practice my language skills.  Boston was an azazing City for language study.


Well, enough brain stuff for today.  See ya.

Friday, January 02, 2015

Beer; AARP Meeting; Elk Mountain; Belarus Boozers; Embalming Fluid; Buttonwood Cafe; Telephone coin boxes; Green Beer; Capacity and Weight;

Getting colder!

"Life ain't all beer  and skittles, and more's the pity;
  but what's the odds, so long as you're happy?"

Trilby Part I.    George Louis Palmella Busson du Maurier (1834-1896)

Today, before I get to the matter of beer and skittles, I want to tell you about another small matter
 which tickled my funny bone:

The AARP Monthly Meeting

Every month, I submit information to the Carroll County Times, to make sure that people read about our up-coming meeting.  Recently, the receiving program has been changed.  So, first, I had to spend hours convincing the new software that I was not a terrorist.  Once that was done, I had to get our information into the CC Times calendar.  In my submission, I was redundant with the location: The Elks Lodge in Westminster, Maryland.

On December 31, 2014, I finally was able to locate our information in the online section of the calendar.  They had altered my words somewhat, but the information was there enough to allow a searcher to read about the meeting.  And.. for those who needed the location.. instead of Elk's Lodge in Westminster, it was shown to be either:  Elk Mountain, Colorado; Elk Mountain, California; Elk Mountain, Wyoming; or Elk Mountain, California..... take your pick.(Bring your skis!)

To help you get to the meeting.. you could access the GPS set up on their website.  I asked for a list of the travel steps..  as reward,  I was given directions down Maryland Rt 140 to Rt 795.. to the Baltimore Beltway.. to the Baltimore/Washington expressway.. to the Washington DC beltway.. to an area in DC.. then back on the DC beltway.. and finally, off the Beltway and to a Federal building .  Huh?? 

Luckily, all of these instructions became moot today, the day of the meeting.  I wonder how many people tried to find us based on the Internet instructions.  We did have a small crowd.. ?  I'm anxious to see what will happen when I try to get our February 2015 information published. 

All right.. let's get to the matter I hinted at in the beginning of this blog entry:


The Wall Street Journal says that people in Belarus drink more alcohol than any other people in the world.  They consume 1.75 liters of pure alcohol per person per year.  Americans drink just 9.2 liters... but people in Moslem Pakistan drink the least of anybody:  Just 0.1 liters.

I was talking to somebody today who is a world-traveler... and he said that as soon as most Moslem folks get on an airplane, they remove their ethnic identifiers and booze it up just like everybody else on the plane.

I've mentioned that when my Grandfather worked in the family undertaking business during Prohibition, he was forced to drink embalming fluid.   Yuk!

Let me reiterate a "boozer" story here.. if you heard it before, close your ears. 

Small Beer:

When I came back from Europe in 1956, I sometimes would treat my Grandfather (the Senator) to some beer at the Buttonwood Café (a local "watering hole" in the West End of New Bedford, Massachusetts.)  At the time, you could buy a "small beer" for 5 Cents.  This was 4 ounces of Dawson's beer.. a local delicacy back then.

I would lay a $1 bill on the bar and my Grandfather and I would enjoy 20  of the 4 ounce beers.  That equates to 80 ounces of beer, or 40 ounces each, a little more than a quart  apiece... an amount that we could definitely handle.  It was an enjoyable social time.. I loved my Grandfather and guess what... today..60 years later, I look exactly like him.

Anyway, one day, while we were drinking our beer and swapping stories, the radio was playing in the background (TV? what was that?)... and the announcer said something like this: "Today, the telephone bandit struck again in the West End, escaping with the contents of two telephone coin boxes..."

A few minutes later, my old friend, Charlie walked into the café.  Charlie had helped me deliver newspapers some years earlier.  I had to let him go after I found that he was also helping himself to some of the collection money.  In spite of that, my Grandfather and I liked Charlie and invited him to sit down with us and have some beer.  Charlie thanked us and then offered to buy the rest of the beer.  We thought that this was great, and accepted his offer, as he reached into all of  his pants pockets and pulled out piles and piles of nickels and laid them on the bar.

Here's another one.. be forewarned:

Green Beer:

When we lived in Randallstown, Maryland (1962-1975) I liked to make beer and mentioned it to one of my co-workers who was the son of Polish immigrants.  He told me  about some beer that his father used to make in Poland. Kumiss.  It was made of horse urine!  He said it was very tasty.  Well, maybe, but I didn't try it.  Instead, I tried another recipe that he suggested.. it was basically just hops and yeast and sugar.  However, there was a secret ingredient: grapes. 

I made a large batch of the water, hops, yeast and sugar, and let it ferment for a few days.  Then I bottled it, placing a grape in every bottle before capping them.  The theory was that the grape would cause more fermentation in the bottle and give the beer a sparkling taste.  I put the newly filled bottles on the shelves lining the pathway from the front to the back of my garage.  I used some green bottles that looked very nice.

After a few more days, I went out to the garage and checked the bottles.. it looked like the grapes had gotten even fatter in the enclosed bottles, which I took to be a good sign.  Then, I went to the back door and walked out into the 30 degree cold Winter day.  I felt very uncomfortably cold, so I immediately stepped back inside where I noticed that something strange had just happened.

Apparently, the sudden cold reacting on the warm grapes had caused each and every bottle to explode and shards of green glass were everywhere embedded in the shelves and the wall.. if I had been inside a second before, I would have been covered with green glass slivers.. and probably would not have been alive.   A close call, and a very instructive one.

But.. I kept on making beer.

"Who's fond of his dinner
And doesn't get  thinner
  On bottled beer and chops"

from Patience.. Sir William Gilbert.

Elaine thinks that I should only have one beer per day... I'll agree to two.. although I try to keep to one because I want to lose weight.

A gentleman told me today that his father got off work in Baltimore at 4 pm.. and didn't get home until 7:30 pm ..  6 days a week, because he had to drink a case of beer each day.  Except Sunday.. because he was a very religious man.  When he retired, he weighed over 300 pounds.. but when he stopped drinking so much beer, he got down to 160 pounds.  Wow!

I've already told you somewhere about my late wife, Elaine's uncle Didier (Eduard), who came to visit us in Baltimore with a case of beer under a block of ice in his trunk.  He kept drinking beer throughout the whole trip and then got more for the trip back to Massachusetts.  But he did not get fat from beer drinking.. he just died early from liver problems.

I could go on for hours with stories about beer, but I think that is enough for now.  See Ya!