Wednesday, December 17, 2008

This and That

I was perhaps too optimistic. The doctor sent me back to the hospital last week. They pumped me full of blood again and when the tank was full I came home. Hospitals allow for a lot of thinking, but these largely consist of random, scattered thoughts. For instance:

Boy! Am I out of step with most of the political talk I see on TV and read in the papers! I watch congress people, Senators and Representatives, tell the CEOs of three giant American corporations that they have mismanaged their companies for years. I watch these congress people and I have my doubts that the majority of them could profitably and honestly run a simple, local automobile agency. These are experts in corporate management??

I like a large car. I have a large car. Why shouldn’t the companies have made it, and continue to make cars that I prefer? Note that the sales of foreign made cars tanked at the same time that domestic manufacturer took a dive. Don’t you think that the failure of the financial institutions (regulated by the government) may have sparked the collapse of the auto market.

Perhaps I am crazy, but I swear there are fewer out of state license plates to be seen on the streets and in the parking lots of Palm Beach County. It’s winter. The snow birds should be here. My bet is that they flew down and rented Florida cars.

Our faithful old (17 years) TV was beginning to hiccup at all the wrong times. This made us nervous, particularly since the date of the switch-over to all digital is fast approaching. Even with cable, our old friend was going to need its own special box to convert. A quick glimpse in any electronics store (or doctor’s waiting room) was all it took to show we weren’t getting the best picture. So in a clever bit of scheduling, I managed to be in the hospital when our choice of flat screens was delivered and installed. Dear wife did a wonderful job and I arrived home to an all-set-up beautiful new TV. Science and my wife are amazing.

I have a lot of little yellow stickies floating around the desk that contain more brilliance which I will delve into as time passes. Just one more thought before I go to bed—

When will some courageous gas company accept another 1/10th a cent for gas and stop the silly pricing that ends in 9/10 of a cent? Eliminating all the extra fuss and arithmetic involved could save the economy, maybe?

Good night!

Friday, November 28, 2008

Long Ago - But Memorable

December, 1945, and the war had been officially over since September: Christmas was a-coming. Company A was still sending patrols out to try to convince the Japanese hiding in the mountains behind Manila that the war was over. These forays could get dangerous when they weren’t believed that Japan had surrendered. But as Supply Sergeant, I happily didn’t have to go.

When it was announced that Episcopal services for the holidays would be held at another regiment several miles away, I decided to go to the Christmas Eve celebration. I used my job to get a spiffy new uniform and I found a native woman from the near-by village to iron the proper creases into it. I shined my shoes as they hadn’t been shined before. I even found some Vitalis in Manila to use on my wavy locks that evening. (Don’t laugh. That was pre-shiny scalp.) Oh, I was going to be the sharpest guy in the chapel.

We awoke on the day of Christmas Eve to pouring rain and it continued all day. But this did not deter my plan to be “Dapper Dan” of the 342nd. The transport truck backed up to each tent where someone had signed up to go. A quick dash and each of us was aboard. However, this extra maneuvering took time and we arrived late. The service had already started. The chapel was actually a large tent with open sides. The truck backed up to the tent where vanity was soon to take its revenge. As I jumped from our transportation, my heel caught on the tailgate and I went plop! – into a very deep mud puddle. My reflex reaction was to utter words spoken in infantry talk at the top of my lungs. Quite inappropriate for the time and place.

After the service, the priest laughed mightily as he looked at this mud encrusted GI. He forgave my language with a brief reprimand . (He, too, had been in the infantry for several rough years.)

Happy Holidays!

Friday, November 21, 2008

Hillary Clinton

Someone on TV just said that there is a lot of support for Hillary Clinton as Sec. of State on the internet. I would like to go on record as being on the internet and NOT supporting Hillary. I feel that appointing her will give Bill credibility that he does not deserve. We do not need Wild Bill traipsing around the world preaching the word according to Bill .

Sunday, November 16, 2008

A Sunday Morning Thought

I love eggs. But for the biggest part of my life they were a forbidden food. Now -- They are practically a health food. The rehab I've been in served eggs in a different form almost every day. On Monday - poached, Tuesday we had scrambled , and so on.

I spoke to the nutritionist and she said that eggs are now considered a good protein source. Fine, but do I have enough years left to make up for all those decades of egg deprivation?

Friday, November 14, 2008

Oh Boy! Home Cooked Food

That was a long stay! Well, it really wasn't a "stay". I commuted between the hospital (lousy food) and the rehab place (good food, but institutional) innumerable times. I sure missed this computer, but I had lots of time to watch TV. I admit I did get quite tired of the political nit-picking. It was a historical event, however. No, not that one, the self-destruction of the Republican Party!

And what a ride watching the stock market the last month! Between the politics all the time, the market on week days and football on week ends TV actually was fun recently. I had my computer set to receive Aol Stock Alerts to report when our stock moved up (HA!) or down. They practically filled my inbox. I deleted them all when I got home yesterday. Ugly.

So all you smokers, make this the day you quit. Quitting is not as hard as waking up each morning with IVs in your arm and oxygen in your nose.

Friday, July 25, 2008


Let me tell you a little story that illustrates why I think of nurses as angels on earth.

I was chatting with my nurse one afternoon at our “Care Center”, aka Skilled Nursing Care or SNC. I was bemoaning that the next day was my wife’s birthday and there was no way I could get her even a card. Linda, the nurse, volunteered that she would get me one. I said something about that being too much and I thought that was the end of it. BUT, next morning there was a bag hanging on my room door-handle. In it there were two cards, one comic and one lovey-dovey, and a cute stuffed animal, a black and white lion. The cards were perfect and the lion thrilled my wife too.

In the Army, medals are awarded for going above and beyond duty. Nurses simply earn a few more love points to cash in at St. Peter's door.

Monday, July 14, 2008

Day 3

Sorry I missed a day (yesterday). There is just so much to catch up on. We have arranged for a nurse to come in once a day to re-dress my "wound". And today I am expecting to have someone come in and arrange for more physical therapy. I have trouble with phys and occupational therapy. The exercises are so boring that I listen to all the conversations going on in the room and I lose count of how many silly exercises I have done. I simplified the process of trying to remember where I was and always start over at nine. I figure that there must be some statistical proof that nine is a valid average and it all evens out in the end.

Right now I have to go wrap plastic bags around my leg to water-proof the incision site so I can take a shower before before the nurse comes. Somewhere in there there is a logic to that sentence, but who cares? Also in ten minutes I have to take twelve pills and huff and puff on an inhaler to cure my wasted lungs.

I have cleared out the over one thousand e-mails and several hundred g-mails. Blogs remain a different story. I want to read all that I have missed instead of the heartless deleting I practiced on the daily mail from Penn State, the New York Times, etc. More later.

Saturday, July 12, 2008

Home Sweet Home

Well, we beat the operations and nursing home one more time. We arrived back home on Thursday and are happily catching up on things. I saw some highlights of the decorations for the Beijing Olympic Games this morning and had the thought that the Olympic Games are replacing the World Fairs as "Show-Off " events for countries. Wish we could go, but I'll be lucky to get to DisneyWorld this year.

Just before I left for the hospital the 14th or 15th of April I upgraded to Mac's Leopard operating system. I've almost totally forgotten how to use it. If anyone sent an E-mail my way and had it returned, please try again. I exceeded the limit (1000) of messages received and the rest were bounced. Sorry about that.

More as the days go by. Incidentally, I had a birthday while I was gone, so I have to edit my template prose to read 83 years old. I don't have the faintest idea how to do that at the moment.

Friday, April 11, 2008

Ugly Day

Wednesday is usually our “errands day” This week was scheduled to be pretty routine, but it didn’t turn out that way. Our first stop was the “labs” over near the medical center to have a blood sample drawn for the tummy doctor. No problem. The next stop was the vascular surgeon’s office for a routine follow-up. Not routine. S- said later that she could sense trouble on the surgeon's face while he was checking the pulse in my left leg. He sent me downstairs to the Vascular Institute for long, high tech tests on both legs. I actually fell asleep. Instead of the nice lunch we had planned at Too Jays, we grabbed a bite at Burger King. Then we hustled back to the surgeon’s place for the results.

Big trouble! We go into the hospital Tuesday where after an angiogram and angioplasty, he will decide whether a complete redo of the bypass in the leg is necessary. Bah!

It was around 4PM by the time we got to the CPA’s office way out in Wellington to pick up our completed tax return. That was not good news either and we had to hurry to the bank (thank goodness they stay open late) to free up some cash to give the IRS. We never did get our planned browse through the mall!. Bah again!

Then yesterday, we had to spend half the day at the hospital for pre-op tests. Three times Bah!

Who are these people that fear having nothing to do in retirement?

Monday, April 07, 2008


There seems to be another form of discrimination that gets little publicity. I have observed that as I have aged, lids and caps are placed on products with additional torque. Cokes have their twist type caps welded to the bottle and this morning I had a terrible fight getting the lid off a new jar of prunes.

Saturday, April 05, 2008

Frustration Day

I have a new cause. I have become an advocate for the establishment of an annual Federal Holiday for each individual in the country. The individual would be allowed a free day from his employment and other responsibilities. His holiday would fall on the day after his purchase of a new piece of electronic equipment and would be called “Frustration Day”.

He would spend the day trying to decipher the instructions and manual that came with the electronic equipment. (Note: Thirteen year old children would not be eligible for the day off as they, strangely, have an innate understanding of the arcane language used in these instructions. This skill fades away upon their discovery of the opposite sex.)

OK, I was just blowing off steam. We bought (?) new cell phones Wednesday. All right, I’m caught again. We got them free for our years of dedication to Verizon Wireless.

First, I tried to set up an account online so that I could replace the awful ringtones that came with the phones. I got as far as establishing a user name. They said that they would send me a temporary password via a text message to the new phone. Picture the scene, we live in a big concrete and steel building, my office and desktop computer are located deep into the protective building where no cell phone signal can penetrate. So I have to run back and forth with the cell phone, out to the porch to get a cell message. No problem except the phone light fades after 7 seconds.The temporary password is 27 or 32 or something long and I can’t memorize it before the light goes out.

Solving that difficulty only led to the problem of how to find the ringtone I wanted and getting it onto the phone. I was following three different verisions of “how to”: those on the internet, those in the manual, and those on the phone. Frustration piled on frustration and the phone almost got thrown through the monitor screen.

But finally, my phone rings a snappy rendition of Feist’s “1 2 3 4”. I'm a happy camper. Now if I could figure out the DVD player.

Sunday, March 23, 2008

If the Choice is Death or Taxes, I'll Take a Good CPA

Two or three years ago, I tore from the newspaper a column by Dale Dauten. It was a short column, but chuck full of witty advice and observations. I filed the column away and found it again only this week. Such is my filing system. He started out quoting Bertie Wooster in P.G. Woodhouse’s The Mating Season.

A great weight had been lifted from my mind. Well, I don’t know what your experience has been, but mine is that there’s very little percentage in having a weight lifted off your mind because the first thing you know, another, and probably a damn sight heavier, is immediately shoved on.”

While doubtlessly a clever and true thought, it more or less, ruined my day. You see, on Tuesday, S and I will take such data as we (98% of the we is S) have collected concerning our coming income tax return to the CPA. He has the problem on doing all the right arithmetic and putting the numbers on the correct pages to satisfy the computers of the IRS. At that point, a great weight will be lifted from my mind. But then I will have “What’s next” to worry about.

Incidentally, does any one else have the same warm memories of Jeeves and Bertie that I have. I think it was back in high school when I got “hooked” on P. G. Woodhouse and read everything I could find. Age has erased the specifics but the feeling lives on.

Wednesday, March 19, 2008

Missing in Action

I got to be a Train Commander” by virtue of being the only one dumb enough to wear a shirt (or, at least the only one to wear a shirt with stripes on it) on a scalding hot California day. The bulletin board had listed those scheduled to leave the following day on a troop train from Camp Edwards bound for Camp Kilmer NJ where we would be discharged from the US Army. A casual formation was held in a company yard for the purpose of providing instruction for our train ride.. After we were told what to wear, what to carry and how to carry it, and how to dispose of the leftovers, my visible stripes got me appointed “Train Commander”. This mostly meant I couldn’t drink and play poker. The only real duty was to inform the Conductor of any serious sickness that required a special stop by the train for medical help. Nonetheless, I was impressed by the fancy title and stood tall.

When we reached Phoenix, Arizona, nothing important had happened to disturb my calm. Every few hours the train would stop in some desolate place so the troops could get off and exercise. After announcing that it was time to reboard the train, it was my responsibility to confirm to the Conductor that I could not see any soldiers that were not back on board and that it was all right to start the train. But at the Phoenix RR Station the train stopped for purposes of the railroad and I ran up and down the length of the train telling everyone to stay aboard. There were a few brave ones I saw dashing into the station to buy beer; but, knowing they were on the way home, most people were not going to take chances.

However, one fellow came to me and asked permission to go to the station post office and mail something home. He volunteered that he was afraid it would be confiscated if he took it into our destination, Camp Kilmer. Dumb once again, I asked what it was he wanted to mail. His answer repulsed and disgusted me. I had experienced a lot of quite horrible moments in the past years in combat, but the thought of shipping a Japanese skull home did me in. Stunned, I told him I didn’t want to hear about it. He was on his own. He opted to run for the station. I opted not to tell the Conductor that anyone was off the train.

Moments after the skull bearer went in the station, the train started. Last I ever saw of him he was standing in the doorway of the station, still holding the boxed skull, and looking a little stunned himself. What happened next? Did he sell the skull and buy civilian clothes and live happily ever after? Did the MP’s get him and put him in the pokey for thirty years? Or did he mail the box, sneak onto the next troop train, and blame it all on Army inefficiency?

Friday, March 14, 2008

A Loss

I have recently suffered a demi-disaster. I leaned back in my favorite chair and something in the framework of the chair gave way. My favorite chair no longer supports me in the manner to which I have become accustomed. This chair has seen me through pain and joy, good moods and bad. For years it has been my retreat, my nest, my comfy spot. Memory tells me I have had three favorite chairs, maybe four, in my life. Two were “easy” chairs and two were office chairs. Each parting was cause for grief. Only once has it been anger provoking. At work, I started out with an all-wood, factory veteran, painted a quite awful green. There was no cushion to protect my then-skinny butt, but it and the chair grew to know each other. As I changed offices, I always took my green chair with me. Always, until we built a snazzy new R&D Building. I thought I outranked the office manager, but she won that day. She wheeled away my friend and short of physical force or an unbecoming temper tantrum, I could not stop her. The replacement was pretty, but it never replaced solid oak.

While I’ll bet that most everyone has a favorite, I recall no blogger confessing his/her affection for a simple piece of furniture. I don’t what I will do next. You can’t really go to the store and ask to look at future favorite chairs, can you? That would strike me as the same as going to e-harmony to find a favorite spouse. Although it is possible to go to a pet store or a kennel and immediately know the puppy that licks your face will be a life long friend. Maybe I'll go for a puppy.

Oh woe is me!

Thursday, March 06, 2008

Surviving Our Youth

When you get to the age of 82, pushing 83, you occasionally wonder how you made it this far. I mean, how did I survive those stupid things I did? For instance, riding our bicycles down South Mountain (OK, folks from Colorado and the like would laugh at calling this overgrown hill a mountain, but in NJ it stands out) as fast as we and gravity could move a “racing” bicycle. It was a concrete road with tar strips every thirty feet or so to allow for expansion during the summer. These required that you hang on to the handle bar with all your strength to avoid a flying exit into the trees on the side of the road. Also, no helmets, no gloves, no knee guards, etc.

Why, for heavens sake, did we invent surfing while crossing the North Atlantic in January? We were in a troopship which, despite the time of year, got very hot below decks. The waves were sweeping over the bow of the ship and down the length of the deck. Ropes were strung along the decks for those whose duties took them on deck. We used them to take a fast action bath and cool off. Damn, that water was cold! Hanging on with hands, our feet were straight out behind us. It was difficult to hang on, but the consequences of letting go were all too obvious. Somehow we survived.

We got no more cautious as time went by. In Germany, our company occupied the Ford factory close to Cologne on the east bank of the Rhine River. A buddy and I had to go out and up the river to repair phone wires that had been broken by shell fire. Like most American workers, when the job was done, we took a little time for ourselves before going back to headquarters. In the dark of night, we sat up on the river levee and watched the tracer fire from the German side of the river. It was pretty, but it never seemed to occur to us that if those machine gunners lowered their sights a few feet we would have been mincemeat.

And, most foolish of all, we smoked for thirty years,

Tuesday, March 04, 2008

Traveling Down Memory Lane

It’s true, when real travel becomes difficult, almost anywhere you start on the internet can lead to old memories and new interests. Last night I was pursuing a course I sometimes take when I’m too tired to do anything useful and it is too early to go to bed. I was sampling all those URL’s you find in the ads at the back of travel magazines. I had “Yankee” magazine on my desk . As you might imagine, this led to
New . There was a feature on a toboggan chute which claimed to be the only remaining such chute in New England. My mind was already tingling with memories of youthful thrills on a toboggan chute at Lake Hopatcong in New Jersey. I wondered if that chute was still in existence. So I “advance Googled” toboggan chute and Lake Hopatcong. That led nowhere. I simple “googled” toboggan chutes and that established that New England may have only one, but the rest of the country has many.

I day dreamed awhile about plunging down (it felt like straight down) a hill and being shot out onto frozen Lake Hopatcong. The ride down was thrilling, but the slide across the ice was the tense part. There were four on the toboggan and if anyone even twitched we would turn over or go into a scary spin. I still remember one spill when a guy was thrown on top of a girl and they slid across the rough ice with him pressing her face into the ice. Ouch! She recovered well and I still remember her name. If you are here, Jane, drop me a note.

I once more Googled Hopatcong and went on reading, learning much I never knew or had forgotten about its history. I’ll bet you didn’t know that iron ore was brought by horse wagon to the shores of the lake where it was loaded on barges. These were towed across the lake by steam boats to the Morris canal, a canal that crossed northern New Jersey. Mules dragged the barges down the canal to the Hudson River.

There were lots more fascinating facts about the history of the area, but I left the iron ore unclaimed at the Hudson and went to bed. And you wondered what old folks do in the evening while you are out at discos having fun.

Friday, February 29, 2008


The other day I was back in the hospital for a bunch of tests to see if the last angioplasty was working. I must admit to being increasingly blase about this business. I fell asleep during a large part of the testing.

But there also was a bunch of sitting around in waiting rooms without a stash of magazines. So I stepped up the people watching. After a while the thought struck me. "All the female staff members are obese." Obviously, that is an overstatement. but it is almost true. The doctors of the world are preaching the hazards of being overweight and the folks that work closely with the MDs are the worst offenders. As I adsorbed this observation, I noticed the the male employees are also porky, in general. Mind you, I was watching administrative employees, not the nurses and medical technicians. They seem normal.

Disclosure: I am no fly-weight myself, but it takes one to know one.

Saturday, February 16, 2008


Back in the early 70's we bought a Sunfish sailboat for the kids (?). Despite my size (I was perhaps the heaviest Sunfish sailor in the Club), I enjoyed the boat more than the kids. We debated naming it "Mirthful Girthful" but settled on "Tackless", no sailboat has ever been sailed more poorly. At the end of the season, at the awarding of the cups for most Sunday morning races won, I was given the "Mighty Mo", an award for trying but never succeeding. I was honored and considered changing the name to "Prowless", but didn't.

Every Sunday after the race, I would take the rudder home. I would lightly sand it and add another coat of some sort of shellac which was supposed to glide through the water with no resistance. I devised pulleys and slings so that off-season we could store Tackless up near the ceiling of the garage over the ping pong table. There was no room for a car. I installed a compass and a little feathery thing to go on top of the mast and tell me which way the wind was blowing.

My most excitement was the time I got caught in the middle of the bay in a heavy, heavy fog. With my trusty compass I knew which was east and which way was west. I knew I wanted to sail east because if I missed the inlet, I would hit solid ground, whereas west would just lead to the dreaded marshes. Of course, after thinking that through, it dawned on me that in the fog, there was no wind. So I just sat there for several hours until a breeze chased the fog away and I could make some headway. Sitting in nothingness with a 14 foot slab of fiber glass as your only connection to reality gets tiresome soon (and works on the nerves).

But it was fun!!!

I apologize if the picture above is covered by a copyright. I couldn't find a picture of the real "Tackless". I never took a passenger on my voyages at sea.

Monday, February 11, 2008


I wrote some limericks this week-end for the local newsletter. They weren't wanted so I thought I would inflict them on the readers of this blog. Names of folks and places are all taken from the people and locales we know here at the "old folks home".

There was a real beauty named Lisa,
Her friend was a gal called Theresa.
They went to the fair,
Ate more than their share.
That comes with a yen for real pizza.

There was a young lad from City Place,
Who hungered to soar into outer space.
When NASA said, "No".
He built a rocket to go.
Now, of him they've found ne'er a trace.

There was an old lady from Lantana,
Who planned for a trip to Savannah.
She longed to look nice,
No matter the price.
So from Hermes she bought a bandana.

There was an old gent from Lakeside,
Who looked at the world from the bleak side.
But he spied a young Miss,
That he longed for to kiss.
She ended the day on her backside.

If the last one was offensive to you, I apologize - You just don't know the single guys here at Lakeside. And I know that "Hermes" should have a thingy over the last "e", but I don't know how to do that on a computer.

Sunday, February 10, 2008

Double Duty

Those of you who have experience with hospital stays know that it is helpful to figure out some "coping" tricks. No, I don't mean holding your nose while eating hospital food, although that might qualify as helpful. A better example was one stunt I learned. When the technician comes in the room, switching on the bright lights at 4:30 in the morning, the temptation is to put your head under a pillow and pretend you are still asleep. It is a little difficult to act alert and happy when you know that she (or he) is going to stick a needle in your arm and draw blood. But believe me, rather than gritting your teeth and staying silent, you'll feel better if you smile and start a conversation. An easy question in the situation is, "What kind of shift do you work?" There are so many different shifts in a hospital that some times I was surprised by the answer.

One of my surprises was a young girl that told me she worked at the hospital drawing blood from 4:00 AM to 12:30PM. She was good at it, too. But then, after a little house work, she went to work as a cashier at the local super market from 5:00 PM until 11:00 PM. She was obviously from the islands and whether legal or an illegal, my thought was that this country could use a lot more young people like her.

Wednesday, February 06, 2008

Southwest Airlines, Where Are You When I Need You?

Over on the other blog, I was talking about a minor embarrassing moment I had today. It reminded me of a biggie I had years ago. The picture is of a quite remarkable vehicle our Company put on the road a long time ago. It contained four washing machines, two electric dryers, a lab bench with radio tracer facilities. It had one of the first mobile telephones in commercial use. It had tanks for 1800 gallons of cold water, heaters and tanks for 900 gallons of hot water, and waste water tanks that could hold the 1800 gallons when it became waste water. There was a fancy little bathroom where our hard-surface cleaaning products could be demonstrated. Not in the picture is a generator which could supply seven homes, but instead provided electricity to the lab vehicle.

The vehicle and its crew traveled the North east and the South east . It got the attention of a TV station and as the young hot-shot (I wish) in charge of it, I was invited along with my boss to appear on the talk show which would also provide a tour of the "bus". The lady conducting the show asked me a question and I launched into my pre-written answer. Right in the middle of it, I went stone cold blank. By the time I got myself together, the show had gone on without me. I was horribly embarrassed, but my friends watching said it was barely noticeable . The hostess, of course, knew what I was going to say and picked right up - I'm told, but talk about wanting the earth to open up and swallow myself---

Pets Don't Like Me

Fish don't like me. Notice that the fish turn their backs when I try to photograph them. I also have trouble with the cat. She closes her eyes when I aim a camera at her. I've deleted those pictures so I leave to your imagination the image of a siamese cat with no eyes.

Sunday, February 03, 2008

Just a Small Corner

Recently I wrote of our house at the shore. The purchase of it was a drama in itself. The original owner started out with a double lot, side by side lots. When his sons got older, he split the lots in two and gave the original house and lot to his sons. He built a ultramodern place on the extra lot. Unfortunately the sons' wives did not get along and sharing the house led to more fights than sun tans. They stuck with it until they could not stand the bickering any more. They put the house on the market.

We came along, and said we would buy it. All went well and the closing date arrived. We sat happily at the closing with the bank's lawyer and the sons. When the paper signing was over, the lawyer asked if the sons wanted to give us the keys. They did so along with the obligatory hopes that we would have many happy years, etc.

Then followed a long, awkward pause. I didn't know what was going on until one of the sons asked if they didn't get the money then. Calmly, the lawyer folded up his files and casually said, "No, not until you can give the L-s a clear title". It seemed that when the old man gave the kids the house, the garage was one foot by 6 inches over on the father's retained lot. The father was so angry that the sons were selling his gift to them that he refused to sign over the little corner to them so they could sign it over to us.

Stalemate ensued. We got to stay in the house weekends, but we dared not touch or move a thing. The boys had been given 60 days to clear the title and it was soon apparent they couldn't do it. As the deadline approached one Saturday afternoon, the original builder of our(?) house arrived with a crew. In no time they had sawed one side of the garage free. They moved it over six inches, nailed it back, and sawed off the overlap on the adjoining wall.

Like magic, a surveyor appeared and found that our house was no longer on the wrong lot. The sons got their money, we got the house. And the lawyer patted himself on the back.

My Theatrical Successes

In my very young, youth, I fancied myself something of an actor.
Starting in high school, I played the father of Emily in the "Nine Lives of Emily". Emily was played by a beautiful girl named Nan Bowes. She went on to be a successful model and actress. I went on.
Later I played in:
Arsenic and Old Lace
Over 21
The Man who Came to Dinner
and many others I have forgotten - such was my success.

Amateur theater was to suburban life then what soccer is today.

False Alarm

Years ago, late on a winter Friday, I was at work in New York when I received a panicky call from my wife. She in turn had received a call from the police on Long Beach Island. They told her that a pipe must have broken in our summer house. They could see from the outside that the living room ceiling had fallen and that water was running out under the front door. I, too, panicked and hurriedly called our real estate agent on the Island. I asked that he call a plumber, give him a key to the house and send him out to turn off the water.

On the train going home I started to think straight and remembered that I had brought one of those long socket wrenches. I thought I remembered turning the water off out at the street. It was dark by the time I got home. If the ceiling had fallen, I reasoned that the electricity would be off. So after a restless night, our son and I set out at 4:00AM for the shore. By then I was imaging that a rogue wave had hit the house (the front steps had been washed away in a storm in '57).

We arrived at the island just at dawn. Thinking to save time, I drove the back way to our house (a mistake). There it sat, pretty and perfect. We went in and found no sign of damage. The faucet wouldn't deliver a drop of water. We relaxed for awhile and decided to go the local diner for a big breakfast. As we drove a different road to the main drag. we saw it! A house on a corner in the same relative position as ours. It had the same house number as ours, Its ceiling was hanging, and water was pouring out the front door. The cops hadn't known their streets and had reported the wrong address. Those were pre-cellphone days, so we drove to the police station. How do you tell a big police sergeant, "Hey, you guys screwed up?" But we did and as the adrenaline subsided we ate that big breakfast and grieved for the people whose house was really largely destroyed.

We went back to the house, got out our gear and went surf fishing for the rest of the day. That is called a happy ending.

Wednesday, January 30, 2008

We went to the South Florida Fair yesterday and had a ball. To remember it by, I ate a large Italian sausage with onions and peppers and a soft ice cream cone dipped in chocolate. I took two Tums at 2AM.

Despite the fact that Florida and Palm Beach County are among the largest farming and cattle areas in the country, each year we see a reduction in the farm animals exhibits and awards for pickled beets and the like. I guess people are more attracted by the evermore complex fright-rides and the carny-type games of chance (Ha!) But we enjoyed the exotic chickens and rabbits. There were some enormous bulls and beautiful horses. They still have the racing pigs, but we weren't there at the "They're Off!" call.( Missed that)

We went at noon when the old folks go, so the rides were largely quiet awaiting the young after school and evening crowds.

Oh yes, I also shared a funnel cake with Sally. It was a "forget the calories" day. Can't wait for next year.

Monday, January 28, 2008

Gotcha !

According to Blogger this is the 224th blog I have written. Combine that with my age and the harsh year I have just experienced and I will make no excuses if this is a repeat. I have no intention of going through 223 blogs to see if I've told the story of Steve Allen and Sol Levy. The name, Steve Allen, is real; but I fear I have forgotten the name of the character I am calling Sol Levy.

Sol was a traveling salesman for our company. One night he found himself in Seattle without a business dinner. He was alone in a strange city and as in other similar circumstances, he decided to see the sights and have a grand dinner up on the Seattle Tower.Now Sol was often teased and accused of being a dead ringer for Steve Allen. (For those too young to remember, Steve ran the Tonight Show on NBC for a long time before Johnny Carson took over. If you don't remember Johnny Carson, you shouldn't be up this late) Sol noticed that Steve Allen was present sitting with a large group on a tier higher that his. As his dinner progressed, he saw members of Steve's party point at Sol, nudge Steve and smile. Sol soon realized that the curse of looking like Steve had caught up with him again.

After finishing his dinner and paying the tab, instead of leaving, he went up to Steve Allen. Before a word could be spoken, He said, "Sir, do you realize that you look just like Sol Levy?" Reports were that Steve went into a laughing jag such as he was known for on his show. He was still laughing when Sol got on the elevator to earth.

Friday, January 25, 2008

Here we go again!

Just when I was beginning to feel comfortable with my iMac, Apple decides to come out with a new version. I have Tiger and now there is Leopard. Now from what I read, Leopard is a wonderful OS with many advantages and improvements over my now-old Tiger. Half of me says "Stay with what you know and like." BUT the other half keeps reading magazine stories about the new system and not wanting to be old fashioned. This is one of the reasons I left Windows, except their new versions didn't get such good reviews. What to do? What to do? Of course, after all those medical expenses, the objective side of me says I'm not going to do anything in the immediate future. I stopped in the Apple Store the other day and heard the price. $129.00. That would fill the gas tank a couple times.

Monday, January 21, 2008

A few notes about my Pop

My father was a quiet man. But his mind was always working. He was a electrical engineer and worked for Bell Laboratories from the time he graduated from college until he retired. His interest was electronics and he spent long nights in the basement putting together radios and phonographs from scratch. Pop never could hear high frequencies. When his interest turned to HiFi he had meters all over his bench which told him if he was successful or not. During the war (II), he didn't anyone what he was working on. He couldn't tell, so he just didn't. Years later I learned that it was the miniaturization of radar so it could be installed on airplanes and such uses.

Although Pop didn't show much emotion, he knew how to have a good time. He was active in the Boy Scouts and enjoyed the hikes. (I have written about the time the snake wrapped itself around his ankle on a hike on the Appalachian Trail.) He would sit on the committees that gave the oral tests for advancement or for merit badges. He was on all sorts of committees and quietly got a lot done for the town.

Nothing discouraged Pop. There is good evidence that he was part American Indian. I used to tease him that I was proud he got his picture on the 5 cent nickel. He would just turn and show his profile. I think that nickel has been out of circulation for years.

Friday, January 18, 2008


I don't think I have told the story of my biggest goof ( also called my greatest embarrassment). I was in high school and I was invited to West Point by my Army uncle to see a football game. It was Army versus a team that I have forgotten. I do remember that it was a rough game and fought out to the very end. This was Saturday, of course, and the next day was church . I was very much in awe of the preacher - and more than a little afraid of him. When he approached a group of high schoolers, I was forced to speak to him. He was a rugged guy, so I thought football might be a good topic. Unfortunately, in telling what a rough game it was, I said (that other team) played dirtier than any team I had ever seen. The Reverend looked at me for what seemed like ages, then dropped his front teeth down with his tongue and said, "I lost these teeth playing football for (that forgotten named team"). It didn't help that all my friends laughed at me

Tuesday, January 15, 2008

Fire Whistles

I'll tell you something that is missing these days - fire whistles. Back in the days when communications were simpler (but after the days of the Indians waving a blanket over a smoky bonfire), there were loud whistles mounted on a telegraph pole outside every fire house. The town was divided into many areas and each area had a unique signal. For instance, ours was 3-pause-3-pause-3. They would toot the "area code" several times so all the volunteers were sure to hear it. This saved them going to the fire house to find out where the fire was. Every year the would publish a list of all the "codes" and areas. Thus, chasing a fire was a much easier and bigger recreation than it is now. Besides, going to a fire didn't interrupt any TV show since there were none of them to interrupt. Now, if ten or fifteen minutes went by and you heard the same signal repeated, it meant "Hey!, this is a big one. All you volunteers who haven't responded, get your butts out here"

At that point, my mother, always the sport, would throw on some clothes and hop in the car and head for the excitement. She would take me if I got to the car in time, but she wouldn't wait for a laggard. I was always embarrassed when my pajama pants showed below my trouser legs. Those were the days!

Monday, January 14, 2008

The Thrill Of Snow

The football game in Green Bay on Saturday was exciting to watch as the snow built up during the course of the game. I have loved snow. I love the memory of a childhood "belly wopping" down the street I lived on and down Bunker Hill back in the woods. (Bunker Hill was the only hill which had a name that we had heard off so we decided to name our hill that. It was an enormous pile that the developer had built up and never disposed of. It made for great sledding.) I long for the days at Penn State in the cold country of Pennsylvania. The snow would grow to unbelievable depth. But if we could make it to campus the college had steam pipes under all the main paths. They melted the snow as it fell. But driving the five miles to the campus was a course in: Hazardous Driving 101.

Alas, I have aged. Now my memory reverts to the feel of a wet foot and shoe after stepping into a puddle on the way to work. Heading for my office (where I always stashed dry socks), trying to look the dignified executive while every step taken yielded an audible "squish".

I think that snow in the North probably contributed to the designation "Greatest Generation". We were the last generation that cleared driveways and sidewalks using the basic snow shovel. We had no snow blower or gas plows. We all knew of someone who had dropped dead clearing snow.

The advent of the snow tire has changed our world. Not many of today's generation know the lack of fun connected with putting on or off snow chains. Then there was the sound made when a cross link of the chain broke and slapped against the fender on every revolution. Believe me, you doubted the car could survive such a beating.

But lastly. there are the mental pictures of a winter vacation and a spring vacation in Zermatt, Switzerland. I have nothing but pleasure remembering those snowy days.

Saturday, January 12, 2008

Stray Thoughts Without Thinking

I don't have a lot of faith in economists. In my experience they tend to pay no attention to themselves. So often they say something one month and then the next month they say something entirely different - without explaining why what they forecast the previous month never happened. Have you noticed in the paper that we are supposedly facing a recession? The prescribed way to avert this is for the consumer to spend more. But how long ago were the economists criticizing the consumer for not saving more? Fortunately, in my case my pension and social security payments are such that I can neither save more nor spend more. Sorry economists, you will just have to work around me.

Ever notice that women don't mind saying they have dry skin, but are far less likely to admit to "oily skin"? We put out a product once that came in three versions: for dry skin, for normal skin, and for oily skin. The dry skin version was a big hit while the oily was a total disappointment. Of course, like an economist I must contradict myself by telling the story of the little old lady we interviewed while doing door-to-door market research. This lady stated that she had oily skin, but didn't like our oily skin product because it was too drying. One look at this lady established she was living in the past. Her skin was so dry it was flaking off as we talked. The oily skin version she had used only made it worse.

Hospital food is worse than airline food.

Monday, January 07, 2008

If It Ain't.....

Well, If it ain't one thing it is another. After I had been home a few days, my computer went on the fritz. I could read, but not write. That's even worse than having a sore throat and not wanting to talk. It finally got fixed so all is right with my world. In the interim, I read many blogs and really began to feel back in civilization.

For the first time in ages, I went swimming this morning. Tiring, but it felt grand. After the pool, I entertained the visiting nurse who has little to do but "take my vitals". As usual, they were normal so we conversed a while and she went her merry way. Then the In-home physical therapist arrived to completely exhaust me. I think I am beginning to feel my age.

Over at the nursing home they have an aquarium with a variety of brightly colored tropical fish. I found them really more interesting to watch that continuing reruns of Law and Order that were the main offering on the restricted TV menu we had. I mentioned that to Tom, who came all the way from Singapore for a short visit. He passed the word to his mother. So for Christmas I received a large (12 gallon) aquarium. We have it decorated with greenery and a quaint old mill for the fishies to hide in. But so far the fish store wont sell us any fish because the water is not yet "properly balanced". Pretty fussy for a little thing that does nothing all day but swim back and forth. One book suggests just buying some guppies and letting them die. It says that will provide the bacteria we need to fix the water. But somehow the thought of having a beautiful aquarium with dead guppies floating around in the currents does not appeal. I'll wait.

Best wishes to all those shoveling themselves out of the snow. Now you know why we chose to move to Florida. Come on down!