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.