Friday, March 27, 2015

My Cousin Charlie

A great loss.

My cousin, Charlie Kraihanzel, passed away this week at the age of 79.  I thought he was going to live to be 100, and I was very shocked to get the news. 

Charlie Kraihanzel, was in reality:  Charles S. Kraihanzel, PhD.. famous in Physics and a Professor at Lehigh University in Bethlehem, Pennsylvania.  Folks in his area called him Chuck, I believe, but he would always be "Charlie" to me and to his dear wife of at least 55 years, Pauline.

Let me tell you a little bit about Charlie and me.. we go "way back"....

1940's:  I spent a lot of time at the Kraihanzel house at 100 Rockland Avenue, New Bedford, Massachusetts.  My mother would take me there probably at least once per week.  While Charlie and I would play on the floor, my mother and Charlie's mother, and their sisters and friends would gossip across the room, not realizing that Charlie and I were "little pitchers" that had "big ears."  After they had their fill of gab, the sisters would take turns at the upright piano, and everybody would have a great time singing.  As a side-effect, Charlie and I would be entertained.

Charlie's great mind was recognized at an early age.  He was able to "skip" two grades, and be at the same grade level as me, even though two years younger.

After the weekly singfests stopped,  I still visited Charlie's house every Saturday for some time.  Aunt Hattie would take Charlie and me shopping in New Bedford's bustling South End.  We got to ride on the trolley cars and I still remember looking out of the barred windows as we sped along South 2nd Street.  After our shopping adventure, we would suffer the indignity of a scrubbing bath by Aunt Hattie.  After that, it was bed time.. however, we could listen to Grand Old Opry on the radio until we fell asleep.  

1950's:  As I got older, I became a "street kid" and saw Charlie a little less, until he began to attend the First Baptist Church.  Aha! A great idea struck everybody.. "see if we can get Joe to go to church with Charlie and maybe he won't get in any more trouble."  Well, that worked.. kind of.. I did my "thing".. during the week and then reformed on Sunday.  Charlie's father would drive to our house on West Elm Street and then patiently (I doubt it) sit outside waiting for me to get ready for church.

Almost immediately, Charlie showed me the Church's little library.  Prior to that time, my only non-school reading was done in comic books.   As soon as I found the Wizard of Oz and all of the other Baum books, I gave up comic books completely.  I borrowed armfuls of books to read, as Charlie did as well.  We also read all of the Hardy Boys mysteries.

When the Kraihanzels moved to West Middle Street, Charlie and I discovered outside sports. 
Baseball:  Both Charlie and I had paper routes, but because mine was bigger, the manager put me on the all-star baseball team instead of Charlie.  That was a mistake.  I was lousy. Charlie was good. He found that out quickly and rectified his mistake.
Basketball:  The First Baptist Church team was renowned for losing games.  I don't think that I even scored one basket during my basketball career.  Charlie was very good and scored lots of baskets.  He enjoyed practicing in the mud at the Sherman house nearby.
Horseshoes:  Both Charlie and his father used the twisty form of horseshoe throw.. so, even though my underhanded flip style resulted in lots of ringers, their style allowed them to cover my ringers with theirs.

Charlie was good at indoor sports as well.
Monopoly:  I never... I mean never.. won at Monopoly against Charlie.
Chess:  At some point, I taught myself to play chess.  Charlie asked me to teach him to play.  That was it... I never won even one game against Charlie.
Checkers and Dominoes were games where Charlie also shone.

In New Bedford High School, Charlie and I had mostly different classes.   However, one class that we took together was Algebra 101.   Mr. Worden was the teacher, and a nicer guy you might never meet.  Charlie and I both got constant 100% scores on tests, so Mr. Worden (not knowing we were related) had us do a "tournament" with very tough questions.  We came out with the same score, which amazed him.

At the end of the semester, class members were asked to perform little entertainments... a while earlier, Charlie had worked out a mysterious looking "psychic" routine with me as his "shill".. we had used it at a family gathering beforehand and nobody could figure out how we did it.  We had the same outcome in the class.. and to confound Mr. Worden more, we had pretended that we made the routine up on the spot.  We had him believing in magic and he almost fainted when we confessed our relationship.

Of course.. in our teens,  eventually hormones kicked in and Charlie and I both decided that it was more fun to be with our girl friends than with each other... and our families know the rest of that story.   I am so happy to have been able to share over a decade of my young life with a man, a cousin, a co-conspirator, a God-fearing gentleman, a role-model, and a buddy....... Rest In Peace, Charlie.


Wednesday, March 18, 2015

Diet; Fitbit; Wi-Fi; Email; BBC Music; Board Mtgs; Netanayu wins; Southern Poverty Law Center; Nutbags.

"My soul is dark with dismal riot,
Directly traceable to diet!"

(A misquote from somebody or other.)

Yes, I'm back on a diet.  My goal?  To lose 10 pounds and see if it makes a difference in a number of ailments.  I've had a few this past week.. but I've tried hard not to be grumpy or depressed even though:

1.  I had a week of struggles to get my breath.  (Much better yesterday and today.  I go to see my physician on Friday and my cardiologist next week.)

2.  My computer keeps telling me that it can't find the Fitbit "tracker".. hey, Dummy computer, it's on my wrist.. I guess it needs to be charged up.  Even without being charged, I can still easily keep track of my calories through the Fitbit app.  That's much better than having to keep updating a pad with a pen.

3.  Some workmen installing the neighborhood future universal free wi-fi tubes and such apparently hit my Comcast cable when they were shoveling and suddenly I had no Internet access.  Talk about grouchy then...  But, with the help of Comcast  telephone help and my itty bitty knowledge, it took only a couple of hours to get my main computer network back and working.  However, then my access through my cell phone was lost.. and I had to do a lot of things to get that doggone thing working again.

4.  Ah yes, computer access again... better check my email... I know I had 375 unread email messages before all of the activity mentioned above.... well, how do you like that?  It's now over 500.  Maybe I should just delete all of them without looking... unfortunately, I am expecting some important (to me) messages and can't dump anything without examination.  (Yes, Hilary Clinton and I have email problems.  But, at least I don't have dogs biting my heels over something called Benghazi-Gate.)

5.  My BBC Music magazine issue showed up with the container ripped open and the CD missing.  I didn't think that thieves would be interested in classical music.. I guess I was wrong.

6.  I had to cancel my trip to the Social Security Alumni board meeting in Woodlawn because I didn't think that my breathing was quite good enough to manage the quarter mile walk from the parking area.  I should be able to manage it in April... I hope.

7.  But I did show up at the March AARP board meeting... I was the only one... somebody probably told me there was no meeting.. but did I listen?  No. 

8.  I spent time putting an automated notice out to the Carroll County Times about the monthly AARP members meeting.  It never showed in the paper and emails from me asking what happened have not been replied to.  But, it's just as well, the Elks' Lodge was closed anyway as they did some painting.

9. Netanayu pulled a win in Israel.  Everybody is wondering what  President Obama will say in his congratulatory phone call.  (Well, Bibi, even though you helped the 47 Senators stab me in the back over Iran, I still wish you well in your upcoming thankless job of herding  your fellow politicians into a coalition.)

Well... now that I've unburdened some of my frustrating activity to you, I would like to tell you a few jokes..... but first:

The Spring Intelligence Report of the Southern Poverty Law Center showed up today.  Some of the information on current day Hate Groups is depressing.  However, some of the SPLC information about individual Hate Mongers is hilarious, for instance:

U.S. Representative Steve Scalise (R-La.) gave a 2002 speech to a group headed by a notorious Klan leader.. Scalise said that he was only speaking about the Stelly Tax Plan.  OK, Steve, but isn't it true that the Stelly Plan activity began months after  the 2002 speech date?  Yes, but... (anyway, even though his pants were on fire, Steve was able to hold on to his Republican whip position.)

A Michigan state legislator authored an amendment banning same-sex marriage.  He thinks that businesses should avoid hiring LGBT people because of the "severe medical consequences" of homosexuality.

Another Representative from Wisconsin likes the proposed bill in Uganda making homosexuality a capital offence.  He is also supposed to have proposed to make it a felony offense for doctors to perform abortions to save mothers' lives. And he does not think much of Martin Luther King, Jr Day.

A Colorado state legislator claims that he can cure LGBT people by casting out their demons.  He also thinks its ok to discriminate against  gay people because they are not going to heaven.

Think about this one....  a young man who says that his mother never gave birth to him.. and whose last name is Noone.. went to court in Massachusetts to defend himself against a charge of driving without a license, and said that as a "sovereign citizen" he was not bound by law.  The judge disagreed and he was fined $500 plus $407 court costs.. Noone (definitely not Odysseus by the way) said that he would appeal the verdict, got into his car and drove a short distance where he was arrested for driving without a license. 

These are some of the many "nutbags" loose since President Reagan had them released to save money.  Seems like false economy to me. Unfortunately, some of them are in positions of power.  God help us!

Wednesday, March 04, 2015

Bluebirds; Exercise; Stature; President Lincoln; Guess my Age; Defensive Measures

There's a bluebird on my shoulder,\
It's the truth, it's actual,
Everything is satisfactual.

Zip a dee doo dah!  Zip a dee ay!
Wonderful feelin'
Wonderful day!

Yesterday, there must have been 30 bluebirds on our feeders... today, not quite so many, but still some.  The sight of them makes Elaine very happy.

I cut up some nutty suet and put some in each of 4 empty flower pots.   The bluebirds get down inside to eat the suet and keep popping up their heads to make sure they are safe.   So far, the squirrels have not found out.  Lots of birds like the suet.. especially the woodpeckers.. we get both the red-headed ones and the other.  Also, Tit-mice like it and hang upside down to peck at it.

We've been seeing other colorful birds recently too... one yellow bird that we can't place .. some real  big blue jays .. and of course, Mr. and Mrs. red Cardinal.  

Today, the temperature went up to around 40 degrees Fahrenheit and most of the glare ice on our sidewalk and driveway melted in the afternoon.   This morning, it was still too icy to attempt to go to my NARFE Board meeting.  They seemed to manage without me.


Jon Winokur listed some exercise sayings from some of my favorite people:

Ellen DeGeneres:  "I really don't think that I need buns of steel.  I'd be happy with buns of cinnamon."

Phyllis Diller:  "My idea of exercise is a good brisk sit."

Mark Twain:  "I have never taken any exercise except sleeping and resting."
      and            "I am pushing sixty.  That is enough exercise for me."

Miss Piggy:  "Never eat more than you can lift."

Monsieur Poirot?

President Abraham Lincoln stood around 7 feet tall, especially when he wore that tall beaver hat which he used as the repository of his important papers and mail.   I'm told that he liked to talk about a little Frenchman, that he saw walking during a snowy, Wintery storm..  He said that the Frenchman's legs were so short that the seat of his trousers rubbed out his footprints as he walked. 

Birthday Joke from Edith Keeney

An 85 year old man was accosted by five old ladies at the retirement home.  He asked what they wanted, and they said that they would like to guess his age.  He told them to go ahead.  They told him that it involved three tests, and he would have to do as they said or they would not be able to guess.  He said that was ok.

First, they asked him to take off his pants and walk in a circle.   Next, they told him to take off his underpants.   He balked at this, but they were insistent.  And next, they asked him to jump up and down with is underpants off.  Although very embarrassed, he did so. 

Giggling, the ladies then said that he was 85 years old.  Amazed, he asked them which one of the three tests gave them a clue.   "None of them, " exclaimed one lady.   "Then how do you know how old I am?" he said.   "Well," said the ladies: "We were at your birthday party yesterday!"

Mysterious Defensive Measures

Dick Cavett recently wrote about important books in his life... He was asked by a reviewer if he had ever gotten in trouble for reading a book?

Dick mentioned that the book "Modern Judo" (1943) contained details about a chokehold so lethal that repeated fatalities caused it to be banned from competition... Dick says: "In a fight on the sixth-grade playground, my friends stepped back in horror when I clearly killed my classmate Herbert Langhus with it.  He turned gray, a tear came down.. and then he stirred and was helped inside.  He's fine."

This reminded me of an encounter that I have written up elsewhere:  Once in Nuremburg, Germany, I walked into a bar where a lot of American GI's hung out.  These were tough guys who ran bulldozers and stuff like that.  I was with a German girl and I was wearing a green suit.. by God, I sure looked like a German.. a couple of the drunk GI's did not believe I was an American and started to harass me.  As a dozen or more other GI's wandered over to see if they could beat on me for fun... I decided to act.. I utilized a kind of a chokehold on the biggest, toughest guy in the crowd... luckily for me, he was a sucker for the movement and fell down on the floor, crying for his mama and scaring the hell out of his buddies, who immediately parted and let me out of the door.

I'm glad that I did not kill  him, and I'm glad that I never had an occasion to use the grip ever again, neither in Germany or the U.S.

Well, that's enough for tonight.  I need to get ready to the 8 to 12 more inches of snow that we will be getting within the next 12 hours.