Friday, February 27, 2015

Wedding Dress Color; Homeland Security Funding; Florida; Bigotry; Home Schooling; Sensitivity Training; Florist and Gay Marriage

"I believe in Michael Angelo, Velasquez, and Rembrandt; in the might of design, the mystery of color, the redemption of all things by Beauty everlasting, and the message of Art that has made these hands blessed."  The Doctor's Dilemma (1906)  GBS

Well, have you decided if the wedding dress is blue and black or white and gold? 

Ahhhh!  Ain't life great!

Right now, the Republicans are fighting with each other, trying to figure out how to salvage some good out of giving in and funding our Homeland Security folks.  I understand that the House Speaker has locked all the reps up and will not let them out until they have figured out what to do.  Well, they've been in tight places before.. and they still have 5 hours to go.

I think that I want to talk about something that is bothering me right now.. and not much really bothers me these days, now that I'm an old dude.  I expect that people who live in the Senior compound with me, kind of think the way I do.. in other words, they have lived long enough and have had experiences enough to realize the absurdities of life and have learned to relax and get along with everyone.. because everyone at our ages have probably suffered the same absurdities as we have.

So the following exchange surprised and bothered me:

Joe:  Hi!  So how was it down in Florida this year, away from the snow and cold?

Neighbor:  Oh.. it was nice and warm.

Joe:  Maybe I'll try to save some money this year so Elaine and I can spend some time down there next year.

Neighbor:  Oh.. you won't like it.  It's not very nice anymore.

Joe:  Why not?

Neighbor: (putting her finger on her cheek)  There are too many black people.   They are everywhere.

Joe:  Does that mean that the weather is not nice anymore or the ocean water is real cold?

Neighbor: (missing the sarcasm)  I don't think I'll go back there next year.

Joe:  (under my breath)  I don't think you'll be missed.


This reminded me of an exchange that my late wife had with a neighbor child:

Miss Elaine:  Hi, Lisa.  How was your first day back at school?

Lisa:  I have a new teacher.

Miss Elaine:  Is she nice?

Lisa:  Miss Elaine, she's black.

Miss Elaine:  But is she nice?

Lisa:  Miss Elaine, she's black.

Lisa is learning to be a bigot, based on her family's attitudes.  Perhaps she may learn to think on her own later...
 I also worry about bigoted people who home-school their kids. (The parents of 19 kids and counting do not appear to be bigots, but I wonder how their kids will learn about other people who do not think like they do.)
Shocked by the usage by McDaniel College students of "the N word", the college has conducted some sensitivity training.
I'm a little surprised at the florist grandmother who refuses to sell flowers for the wedding of a gay couple, even though she has sold flowers to one of the men before, for other occasions.  She pleads her case by saying the Bible says a marriage is between a man and a woman.  Law suits are being prepared and the case may end up in the Supreme Court.   In my view, this is like Southern café owners refusing to service black customers.  Grandma is violating these guys' civil rights.

I need to study this.. what about those restaurant owners who reserve the right to refuse service to anyone... like drunks....?


A lot for my poor Mensa mind to think about.

Thursday, February 19, 2015

Casterbridge; Thomas Hardy; Lowell and Pluto; Dope and his Bag; New PC; Budding Chemist; Rene Ricard; COLD Weather.

More Trivia

01.  English Lit 101

I just finished reading The Mayor of Casterbridge by Thomas Hardy (1840-1928) and was struck by a very perceptive paragraph, showing the "small town" mentality of certain citizens of this mini-metropolis:

"That Mr. Farfrae 'walked with that bankrupt Henchard's step-daughter, of all women" became a common topic in the town, the simple perambulating term being used hereabout to signify a wooing; and the nineteen superior young ladies of Casterbridge, who had each looked upon herself as the only woman capable of making the merchant Councilman happy, indignantly left off going to the church Farfrae attended, left off conscious mannerisms, left off putting him in their prayers at night amongst their blood relations; in short, reverted to their natural courses."

I believe that Masterpiece Theatre ran this story as a serial some time ago.  I plan to try to get a copy for myself.  It's a good "read" IMHO and is probably a good "watch."

02.  Heavenly Body

Mars canals loving Percival Lowell obsessively searched the skies for a ninth planet. But this planet was instead found in 1930 by Clyde Tombaugh.  The name of the mysterious planet is Pluto, to honor Percival by its first two letters PL.  Nowadays, Pluto is no longer considered a planet... but I still like to think it is.

03.  A Dope

Allow me to repeat a story that I like.  A Carroll County Maryland State  Trooper stopped a young man for a moving violation and asked to see his license.  The driver nervously emptied his pockets looking for it and a plastic bag fell out.  On the front of the bag was the word "DOPE" printed in ink.

04.  New PC

Today, I had an hour to kill and visited an Office Depot store in Reisterstown, Maryland.  A Laptop/Tablet PC was on sale and I couldn't resist it.  The laptop that I ran over and the laptop that I dropped from a great height are too big to keep by the kitchen table, and my cell phone set up is too small and the rest of these machines are used for Kindle purposes and Crossword Puzzle googling.  This PC is just right to address the 100+ emails that come in every day. 

The salesman tried to give  me the "bait and switch" maneuver, but I was adamant and prevailed.

I asked when Staples would be taking over Office Depot.. he didn't have a clue about what I was talking about.  Am I wrong about this.. I am a Staples stock holder and need to know.

05.  Future Chemist?

Elaine's granddaughter, Lily, was the subject of a cell phone video today.  She was filmed causing a Mount Vesuvius eruption in the kitchen sink, which expelled lots of green lava.  Very interesting.

06.  Another "Celebrity" brought up in the New Bedford, Massachusetts area

Albert Napoleon Ricard was born in Acushnet, Massachusetts and after graduating from Junior High School, made his way to New York and changed his name to Rene Ricard and became a kind of protégé of Andy Warhol. He also became a movie star, a poet, an art critic, and a painter.   Warhol called him "the George Sanders of the Lower East Side, the Rex Reed of the art world."  Some day I may get interested enough to read more about his life, but not right now.

Tonight, it is COLD in Westminster, Maryland.  Wind chill is well below zero.  I will have to let the faucets drip so the pipes don't freeze up.  This year, it seems as though we are getting the weather here that I remember from my youth in Massachusetts.   And.. now Massachusetts is getting much colder and snowier weather than when I was a kid.  Global warming deniers will have a lot of ammunition this year.  

Bye..... keep warm, y'all.


Saturday, February 14, 2015

Valentines Day; Sleep Hours and Tips; Cursing kids; Marriage Joke; Average Height; Campaign Promises from Governor Hogan; Professor Powers Pointers

Happy Valentine's Day! Elaine and I exchanged cards and chocolates, and later will eat a special supper that we had delivered yesterday.  Maryland Crabcakes... yum!

"Hail, Bishop Valentine, whose day this is,
All the air is thy Diocese."

John Donne (1571-1631)

Let me list a bit more trivia on this auspicious occasion:

01.  Do you sleep well? (National Sleep Foundation)

Sleep hours recommended:

0-2 months:                10 1/2 to 18  1/2 hours
2-12 months:              14-15 hours
12-18 months:            13-15 hours
18 months to 3 years: 12-14 hours
3-5 years:                    11-13 hours
5-12 years:                    9-11 hours
12-18 years:                  8 1/2 to 9 1/2 hours
18+ years:                     7-9 hours

They also recommend trying the following tips:

o Maintain a regular bed and wake time routine.. even on weekends.
o Avoid stressful activities near bedtime, like working on the bills.
o Make the bedroom dark, quiet, comfortable and cool.
o Use blackout curtains if necessary.
o Use eyeshades or earplugs if necessary.
o Use white noise, ocean sounds, fan sounds if necessary.
o Don't eat two or three hours before bedtime.
o Try not to consume fluids close to bedtime.
o Exercise often.
o Avoid caffeine close to bedtime. (Coffee, tea, soft drinks, and chocolate.)
o Throw away your cigarettes, including the e ones.
o Avoid alcohol close to bedtime.

02.  Children cursing. (Ann Landers)

A lady says that her 16 year old has started using curse words in the home.  What can she do about that?

Ann says: The kid is trying to let you know he is grown up now.  Once you let him know that people who have truly grown up do not usually curse, tell him that he will not be allowed to leave the house again, except for school, church and essential appointments until he has managed to go two weeks without uttering a curse word within your earshot.   The main thing is to make him realize that you will not tolerate cursing while he lives in your home.

03.  Classic Joke

A mild mannered man is tired of his wife always bossing him around, so he decides to go to a psychiatrist.  The Doctor tells him that he has to develop self-esteem and gives him a book on assertive training.

He reads it on the way home.  When he walks through the front door, and his wife comes to greet him, he tells her, "From now on I'm the man of this home and my word is law.   When I come home from work I want my dinner on the table.  Now.. go upstairs and lay me some clothes on the bed because I'm going out with the boys tonight.  Then draw my bath.  When I get out of the tub, guess who is going to dress me and comb my hair?"

She replies: "The Undertaker!"

04.  I told you we were getting shorter!  (Associated Press)

The United States had the tallest people in the world for years, but now it's in the middle of the pack. However, people who live in American cities are shorter that those who live in our rural areas.  (Could that be somehow related to manure?)

Average Height by Country:

Filipinos:      5'4"
Chinese:       5'5"
Brazilians:    5'7"
Americans:   5'10"
Germans:      5'11"
Norwegians: 5'11"
Dutch:           6'

Well, I used to be slightly taller than an average Brazilian.. but now.. with so much age, I'm about even with an average Filipino.  Maybe it's time to try Elevator shoes again.  Years ago, when I was taller, I tried a pair.. but nobody believed I was suddenly almost 6 feet tall, so I gave it up.

Yesterday, at our NARFE meeting, someone  brought a little baby and I was told "Hey, at last there is somebody shorter than you at our meeting."

Also, when I was in Air Force Basic Training, the Drill Instructor stared me right in the eyes and asked:  "Do you know why you are so short?"  I barked: "No, Sir!"  He replied:  "Well, it's because a rebel beat the *#$@ out of you!"  "Yes, Sir!" I answered, and he went away.  The funny thing was, he was even a few inches shorter than I was. 

05.  Campaign Promises?

Newly elected Maryland Governor Larry Hogan ran on a cost-cutting agenda, but of course, everybody felt that the cost cuts would not affect themselves. However, check this out:

o State employees, who after years of pay freezes, got a 2% cost of living adjustment in January, will lose the increase in July.
o State employees will not receive COLA or  Merit Raises next year.
o K-12 Education will be cut by 50% based on a geographic formula.
o State Agencies will be cut 2% across the board.

06.  Professor Powers' Pointers

Here are a few more vital things to think about ..  from my Brother Joe in Ohio:

o  Never argue politics while getting a haircut.  Remember, the barber is waving sharp scissors about your head.
o  If you get notification from Publishers Clearing House that you are a "finalist" in their sweepstakes, do NOT give up your day job.
o  How do you know a political candidate is lying?  His lips are moving.
o  When choosing a proctologist, for God's sake, pick one with skinny fingers!

That's enough for now.   Bye!

Thursday, February 12, 2015

Louis Armstrong; Russian good News; Caffeine; Rich Folks; Linotype Machine; Tristram Shandy; The Calm Act; WWI Action;

"All music is folk music.
I ain't never heard a horse sing a song."

Louis Armstrong

Let's see if I can get another dozen weird things in again:

01.  Good news? Forget it! (The Week)

A reporter for the Russian website tried to report only positive news stories for a day.  This resulted in a dramatic drop in people who accessed the site and they had to go back to the usual tripe.

02.  Caffeine (Bottom Line Health)

The FDA advises getting no more than 400 mg of caffeine a day.  (Consumer Reports says that most adults can safely consume up to 400 mg per day; pregnant women up to 200 mg.)

The average US adult drinks about three cups of coffee a day, with up to 200 mg in an 8 ounce cup. (Decaf has about 12 mg per cup!)

Generic green tea  has 67 mg in an 8 ounce cup  of black tea and 43 mg from the equal amount of decaffeinated green tea.

Dark (yummy) chocolate has about 20 mg per ounce.

Excedrin provides 65 mg per tablet.

Hey.. good news: coffee drinkers get fewer gallstones.  However, if you consume too much caffeine, you may suffer jitters, insomnia, rapid heart  rate, abnormal heart rhythm and increased blood pressure.

03.  Rich Folks (The Week)

There are 62,800 super wealthy persons in the US.. with a net  worth of more than $50 million each,  compared with other nations, such as China, at 7,600 and 5,500 in Germany.  (Would it spoil some vast eternal plan, if I were a wealthy man?)

04.  Baltimore's German Heritage Hero (German Society of Maryland)

Gutenberg's printing press needed a man to set type by hand and it was done that way for 400 years. Then Ottmar Mergenthaler, a member of the German Society of Maryland invented the linotype machine.  With the linotype, newspapers swelled to hold lots more news.   A school in Baltimore is named in his honor.. but I'll bet a majority of the students there haven't the faintest idea who Mergenthaler was.

05.  Soporific (New Yorker)

I've mentioned in this  blog before how a fellow worker at SSA let me borrow his favorite book Tristram Shandy, and how I tried to read it many times, and how it put me completely to sleep.  I just learned that it was the basis for the movie of the same name, appearing in 2005.  I think that I will try to download that movie and watch it very carefully, to honor the memory of my book loving friend.

06.  Loud Ads? (Consumer Reports)

The Commercial Advertising Loudness Mitigation Act (CALM Act) took effect at the end of 2012 and requires that commercials have the same average volume as the show they accompany. If you think a broadcaster is violating the law, you can report them to the FCC at

07.  How unlucky can you be? (German Society of Maryland)

At one minute before 11 am on the day set for the end of World War I, Sgt. Henry Gunther attacked a German machine gun nest and was killed.  He was the last American killed in World War I, and because he was a German American Marylander, he has been honored for years by German descendants in the Baltimore, Maryland area.  The German who  shot him, carried his body on a stretcher to the American lines and apologized for his unavoidable death. 

Well.... that is enough for now, my friends. 

Monday, February 09, 2015

Weather Rules; NSA; Grandma's Ashes; Footprint; Furniture Replacement; Food Locations; The Improving Economy; Fluid Intake; Kim again; Exercise Benefit; Drone Attack; Orfeo; Coma? Too bad!

Red sky at dawning,
Sailor take warning.
Red sky at night,
Sailor's delight.

For years I have thought that this was a valid poem, but yesterday matters were reversed:

Early in the morning, at the dawning of the sun, the sky was the reddest I have ever seen it.  Later in the day, we had a nice pleasant day.   However, in the evening, the sky was once again filled with red color... and today.. it has been an overcast, dismal, rainy day.

Oh well..  never mind.. let me try to catch up a bit on my blogs by listing a dozen items to talk about (if I can):

01. Is NSA looking at me?

Today, I attended the second presentation of Great Decisions, and we talked about Privacy in the Internet  Age.  Extremely interesting to me.

David Scott, moderator, spoke about his 40 years experience at NSA, so I believe him when he says anything about the Government.  Like him, I have 40 years experience in Government work, and am  interested in anything he says about his job.

Is it true that only routing information is being held?  For instance, if I call Germany, would my information (time, equipment out, equipment in) be held .. or would the actual words of my conversation be held... Dave says the former is true, and it makes sense to me, except that, based on my experience building keyword indices, more intelligence could be obtained from recording and reviewing actual voice correspondence. If correspondence is being data mined, then keywords can be used in order to pick important conversations, matches on specific keywords would be important .

02.  A Different Type of Donation

The staff at the Fenton, Michigan Goodwill Store are trying to find the person who donated an urn containing grandma's cremated remains.  They were neatly contained in a box labeled appropriately: Grandma's Urn."

03.  Even Clouseau could have caught him. (The Week)

A while ago, Australian police captured an elusive disabled burglar.   They were able to do this because the Spring thaw had made the ground a muddy mess and the burglar's one-legged footprints formed a neat map directly to him. 

04.  What a nerve! (The Week)

A Washington State man went into his neighbors' home while they were away and replaced their furniture with his own.  He told police that he thought that his neighbors had abandoned their apartment. 

The late Joan Rivers once said that a burglar broke into her home, stole all of her furniture and replaced it with exact duplicates. (Or was that Henny Youngman?)

05.  Where did your supper come from?

Lila Jenkins (German Society of Maryland)  says that the first two letters of a product barcode tells where it came from:

00-09 - USA
30-37 - France
40-44 - Germany
49      - Japan
50      - UK

3 letters show:

371 - Taiwan
690, 691, 692 - China

06.  Conservatives don't want to give Credit to President Obama.

(So, what else is new?)  The National Review in December 2014 admits that the economy appears to be gathering strength.  Job growth and industrial production are up, oil prices are down and inflation remains subdued.  And I quote: "Conservatives will naturally fear that the good news, if it lasts, will redound to the undeserved credit of President Obama and the Democrats...(but)... better policies would have made for a stronger and earlier recovery and would still have a positive effect."

07.  Watch your Fluids!  (Harvard Heart Letter)

If you have heart problems, your body may be retaining salt and water in an attempt to boost your blood volume.  this causes fluid to build up throughout the body, leading to weight gain, swollen ankles and feet, and shortness of breath.   So, some people need to restrict liquid input and have no more that 8 cups of fluid per day.  What counts as fluid anyway?

Ice Cream

(one cup of these items equals a cup of liquid)

Ice Cubes - 1 cup = 1/2 cup of fluid

The following fruits and vegetables contain large amounts of liquid.  One cup of each of these counts as a half-cup of liquid:


08.  When the Moon comes over the Mountain.. revisited. (The Week)

Brian Moylan says in  "Yes, Kardashian has a big shiny butt that resembles 'a glazed Krispy Kreme doughnut,' and now we've all seen it.  But'that is the end.. pun intended.. of it."

09.  Good News if heeded.  (Bottomline Health)

Kate Wolin (Loyola School of Medicine, Chicago)  says that men who exercise just one hour a week may have a reduction in the need to get up twice or more during the night to urinate.  (Hmmmm.)

10.  Watch out for Drones!  (The Week)

A drone was flying around a TGI Fridays in Brooklyn, when it spun out of control and nipped off the tip of a patron's nose with its propeller. Law suit is probably pending.

11. Beautiful Opera Music.  (XM Radio)

While I am writing this blog, the Met Opera Radio station is playing a recording of a 1958 Met performance of Gluck's Orfeo ed Eurideci. (sp)  Amazing music with Rise Stevens.   (A different opera is aired every night at 7 pm.)  It's not Mozart... but close.

12.  Ohio Welfare Decision.  (The Week)

 An Ohio woman had her welfare benefits terminated after she failed to attend mandatory job-training sessions, because she was in a medically induced coma.  I'm not surprised at anything coming out of Ohio after Speaker Boehner's arrival in Congress.  (How can my long-lost brother survive in Ohio's stifling atmosphere?..  I know... I know.. it can't be all bad.)

Ok.. now my juices are stirred.. and I need to wrap up.   A Dios, Muchacos.