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!