Wednesday, December 23, 2009

'Tis the Season

In the midst of all the parties, toys, and goodies - may the world take the time to teach its children the real "why" of this celebration.

Thursday, December 03, 2009

American Hero Insulted

The citizens of Henrico, Virginia have insulted a true American Hero and holder of the Medal of Honor. This 90 year old WWII vet (plus Vietnam and Korea) has been ordered to take down the flagpole in his front yard on which he daily displays the American flag. These fools that don't appreciate how honored they should be to have Col. Van Barfoot living in their town. They should be erecting a monument for him in the center of their town and put up a flagpole in every front yard. I don't suppose anyone from Henrico is scheduled to go to Afganistan soon.

Sunday, November 29, 2009


After Thanksgiving Dinner most of us remained at the table just chatting. One grandson was telling us all about how painful a recent football injury was. He got a little carried away and we all wondered how to lighten the mood.

Quietly , a younger grandson spoke out, “Would you care for cheese with that whine?” It broke me up.

Saturday, November 28, 2009

TV Commentary

Breaking News: It has dawned on me that we are about to suffer the end of the (TV) world as we know it. Not that that’s all bad. I’m not referring to bad shows that were doomed to fail from the get-go. Successful shows have a natural lifetime either in our individual minds or in the minds of the folks that schedule the networks. This has applied to all but news, sports, “Meet the Press” and perhaps, “Law and Order”.

If Oprah isn’t going to end, at least she will be changing her format it a few years. Personally, I (and I suspect most men) had had it fifteen minutes into the first showing. Too mushy. But she certainly has been an enormous success.

Another program that is quitting at what may be its peak is “Monk”. There certainly is a limit to how long you can make obsessive compulsive behavior seem funny.

The writers of “House” have struggled to maintain interest in a drug addict. However, as they have taken away the chief character’s dependence, his excuse for mean and nasty behavior has disappeared. He has become just plain nasty, mean and unlikeable. I’ve quit watching already.

“NCIS” worries me. They act like the original may disappear, replaced by “NCIS - LA”. The latter belongs in the category of “didn’t survive the first year”. I have been sort of hoping I would go off the air before the original.

News broadcasts have already shown new faces. The old time network news attempted to appear non-partisan. Now this approach is giving way to Fox News (O’Reilly), MSNBC (Olberman), and Comedy Central (Stewart and Colbert). Blatant partisanship has shown more opportunity for entertainment and higher rantings than “just the facts, M’am”.

The Wall Street Journal the other day had a wonderful column about the end of sportsmanship and how that is causing a slow death of TV sports. I regret that the newspaper went out in the trash with the kitty litter so I cannot cite the author, but he clearly made his point. Players have turned over all responsibility for fair play to officials. What we used to call dirty play or cheating is now OK if the perpetrator doesn’t get caught. Incidentally, I hope you saw the punter the other night. He executed a graceful somersault immediately after kicking the ball. I don’t think he was really trying to feign he’d been fouled, bur rather he was probably spoofing all the punters who routinely fake a knock down on every kick. The Ref ignored his act.

I doubt that “Meet the Press” will survive the grouch that replaced Tim Russert. He has lost me already.

I do expect that “Law and Order” will be commissioned to turn off the cameras when TV itself is finished.

Saturday, November 21, 2009

Someone Should Speak Up

November is two thirds over and our area looks like it will survive this year without a hurricane. I hope I am not setting up a jinx by saying that. While the temptation is to publicly proclaim joy at being spared, the knowledge that the Carolinas and the Northeastern coast took a licking creates a sort of emotional conflict. I suppose one way to avoid that is to have property in New Jersey and Florida. OR just be quiet.

No matter where the folks live who think the environment is of no consequence -- between tornados, earthquakes. Noreasters, hurricanes, wild fires, floods, blizzards -- there is always something which should remind us that there are gigantic forces that we have no control over. Yet the world’s population continues to diddle with the atmosphere and the known limits on natural resources. There is a general oblivion of the consequences of this careless manipulation of nature.

It is a little like we all live in sunny Florida and the next generation is in New Jersey.

Friday, November 13, 2009

November 13, 2009

Random Observatons From a Sitting Position

• Don’t you just love it when some pompous policy makers say their policy is “zero tolerance”… and then have to back down? Remember when the little boy proudly brought his Cub Scout all-in-one eating utensil to school and was expelled for carrying a weapon (a knife)?
• Recession ? On our last drive we went along the ocean front road in Palm Beach, FL. We noticed six (6) new MANSIONS, big, BIG ones being built and one old one being torn down preparatory to building another.
• Sign of the times. Penn State has reported that due to the prevalence of cell phones, all landline phones will be removed from dormitory rooms. This will save $700,000 or $800,000 depending on the report you read. Oh, the joys of those days with a sore ear from all evening on the phone!

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Fort Hood Irony

Think how it must rankle the old-Army generals: With 43,000 soldiers under their command, hundreds of them armed Military Police, a mad man’s rampage is stopped dead by a short, little lady nicknamed “Mighty Mouse.” Worse – she is a civilian police-person. While the unarmed military wisely scattered and took cover, “Mighty Mouse” flung open the door of her squad car and charged straight at the mad man with guns blazing. Hit three times she kept firing until the maniac fell. She is a true heroine.

But will the grizzled old generals ever forgive this “FEMALE”?

I doubt it’s in their genes.

Tuesday, November 03, 2009

Suntan Proof Swimsuits

I love technology, but today’s WSJ suggest that the new high tech swimsuits may be “dirty pool”. The article goes on to tell of the controversy between users of traditional swimsuits, Speedos, and wearers of the polyurethane or neoprene bodysuits being favored by racers, young and old,. Michael Phelps, the win-all hero of the recent Olympics, was soundly beaten by a supposedly lesser competitor who availed himself of a “high tech” bodysuit. Phelps wore his usual Speedo. The new suits are expensive, provide extra flotation, smooth out the wrinkles and bumps on the human body, have less affinity for water, and make technology an important factor in a swimmer’s top speed. I think that the use of new technology is fair in sailboat racing, but I question its place in a contest intended to measure human strength and skill

Think what has happened to the pole vault. In 1942 (when I was making some feeble attempts at vaulting) we used a straight stiff pole with no bending capability to it. The World Record that year was held by Cornelius Warmardam at 4.77meters (15.65 feet). By 1994 the great Sergey Bubka had made a record vault of 6.14 meters (20.14 feet). But was Sergey really any better than Cornelius? Sergey used an elastic pole that bends almost in half then propels the jumper upward like a sling shot. How high would Warmarham have vaulted with the elastic pole to provide an extra shove?

I like competitive sports. Technology that improves the safety of the competitors is great, but not if it artificially improves performance.

ps. You can't get a good tan with the new suits.

Thursday, October 29, 2009

Big Business

Quite a bit of stirring in the old folk’s homestead these days. The bank which had a branch on campus went belly up the other day. We had FDIC and bank people here in droves. They tried to reassure people that the bank had been sold and it would be business as usual. But there is much unrest and I fear the new owners will find little left at this branch to justify it continuing. We were leery from the beginning and are hardly involved.

On the other hand, we have a gasoline credit card that is actually issued by one of the giant bailout recipients. They recently sent us a notice announcing an interest rate hike to 29.95 percent. As soon as we can find the little-used card, we intend to “opt-out” as they term canceling. Should I remind them that Shylock would have been hung for a charging such a rate? Since we are getting rid of the car it really doesn’t matter to us. (Nor them)

We continually hear the phrase “too big to be allowed to fail”. I’m not sure why that is true. If I were president, I suspect I’d let a few of these big fellows go under and find out how much worse that left us than the nation’s current circumstances.

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Another Retirement

Despite the fact that I am without doubt one of the best drivers on the road, that big day has come. We are turning in our leased car and giving up driving (sort of). I would like to say that I remember that day almost 70 years ago when I first got a driver’s license. Truth is – I can’t. Maybe that is part of my reason for this big step. Other, and more valid, reasons include macular degeneration, no wish to finish my career with an accident, and financial thoughts. Lakeside Village where we live provides transportation for most routine local errands and appointments. To prevent acute trauma to our systems, we are reserving the right to take an Enterprise rental car for big trips or leisurely Christmas shopping. We’ve worked it out and that’s lots less expensive than having our own car. Next week we have the lift for my “electric chair” taken off the back of the car. And the following week GMAC gets the car back. ‘Twill be a sad day in Lantana.

Saturday, September 19, 2009

Chem Lab

In all the nostalgia I’ve printed here over the years, I don’t think I really covered college life much. As as chemistry student I was blessed with the dreaded Saturday morning (8:00 AM to 12:00 Noon) lab – every semester. It meant standing for four hours and if there had been a good frat party or big dance the night before it could be torture. My lab bench and Harry’s were such that we worked facing each other. Harry was a nice fellow most of the time, but one Saturday he had obviously been partying on Friday night. He was really hung-over.

His lab project required that he pick up a full, heavy bottle if concentrated NH4OH (Ammonia). His shaking hands betrayed him and it fell to the floor and broke. A painful cloud of ammonia gas spread through the lab. Harry more or less paniced. He was jumping around repeating, “ Oh my God! What should I do?” I said, never dreaming how befuddled he was, “Pour a bottle of HCl on it.” For non-chemists, these two chemicals react fiercely and create an old style smoke screen that irritates the eyes and nose. I didn’t think he would do it, but he sure did it.

A liter of each of those could hide a battleship. Without a battleship to defend, the whole top floor of the laboratory building had to be evacuated. To add to the excitement, someone saw all the smoke and pulled a fire alarm. We had a very angry professor. I didn’t confess for several weeks.

Tuesday, September 08, 2009

Miami vs FSU

When I sat down to watch the Florida State/Miami game, I was torn. Back in Miami’s “bad boy “ days a lot of bad blood built up between my school. Penn State, and Miami. Lately I have mellowed as I have watched Miami’s new coach struggle to curb excessive exuberance in public by his young team. Plus, we haven’t played them in a while and I’m getting older.

On the other hand, JoePa used to be good buddies with FSU”s Bobby Bowden. But that has diminished as Bobby has sharpened his rivalry with JoePa to be the coach with the most lifetime wins. Bobby is appealing the NCAA decision to deduct 14 victories from his list and I don’t approve. Beside which, I don’t think Bobby is doing much coaching. His successor has been chosen and seems to be doing almost all the talking.

At midnight, it came down to someone up in the booth to judge who had won. He awarded victory to Miami and I think I am glad. He judged it on the result of the last play. He was correct . But if a single judge (and it were me) were asked to judge on the entirety of the 60 minutes of play --- I might have picked FSU. But I didn’t and he didn’t , so be it.

Monday, September 07, 2009

The Latest

Yesterday we installed the new Mac OS X Snow Leopard on our computers. I hope everyone is just bedazzled by the brilliance of our clarity and the new sharpness of our thought. From this end I have noticed a somewhat quicker pace to the computers' responses. Beyond that I haven’t explored any new features, so I can’t comment.

We also invested $5.00 per month in the “Big Ten Network” addition to our TV selections. Saturday we got to watch the Penn State vs Akron football game. Although the score (31-7 for PS) doesn’t reflect it. I was really more impressed by Akron than by Penn State. Penn State played a sloppy game without the crispness one expects from a top ten team. State obviously has the talent and the depth, so we can expect that JoePa will shape them up before the big games begin.

Sunday, July 12, 2009

Sunday Brunch

Sally and I went out for breakfast at John G’s this morning. Floridians will understand, but for those not familiar with John G’s --- It is a waterfront restaurant in Lake Worth famous for its generous and delicious breakfasts and lunches. They serve very high-end diner food, more gourmand than gourmet. A long line to get in always winds around the building. (Part of the panache of the place. There is a sense of accomplishment when you make it to the door.) Sally stood in the hot Florida sun while I went and sat in a chair near the entrance. My cell phone had not been charged lately and went dead after our first check-up with each other. But we got in before lots of other folks because we were just a couple.

Anyone who has been to the Crazy Horse in Paris will recognize the seating arrangement. (A not always welcome intimacy.) You must be very careful not to eat the omelet of the fellow at the next table. It is techniquely waterfront, but far to noisy to hear the ocean and too crowded to see it. But going there is a Florida thing to do, so every year or so we reacquaint ourselves with "must see tourist-land". Despite my complaints, there is a vibrancy and an excitement to the place that makes a meal memorable.

Saturday, June 27, 2009


I admit to being a pack-rat. People scorn my fear of throwing anything away. But, Gosh, I might need my 1949 Income Tax Return sometime. The same with the pictured ticket stub from the 1946 Army Navy Football Game. But look at all we can learn from that stub. That is a 50 yard line seat. Ergo, I had pull. (My uncle was a full professor at West Point.) Some things never change. The way to get good tickets to a good game is, and was, to know someone.

And the price!!! A 10th row seat on the fifty yard line for $4.80! Some things do change. $4.80 would not buy you a hotdog at a major game today. Not that the Army-Navy game is what it was 63 years ago.

I remember very little about the game, except that President Truman was there. And I remember less about the President than his Secret Service men who stood up all game and most faced back to the game looking at the crowd.

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Friday, June 19, 2009


It is morning and I am a year older. Imagine if you can – Eighty-four! It seem more when you spell it out. Actually, I know that this feeling will not last. By tomorrow I will be back feeling that inside I am only slightly out of my teens. I still get nervous when I talk to a girl or an audience of more than three. I still don’t like to get up in the morning or go to bed at night.

Of course, I realize that I have an appointment with the podiatrist in an hour and that suggests I have passed beyond the youthful state, but I also read the comics first when the Sunday paper arrives. Moreover, I am skipping my hyperbarics treatment this afternoon and I hope that indicates a spark of independence still moves me.

Thanks for all the greetings. I must leave now. I have not the independence to go out without a shave and a shower.

Ps. Isn’t technology wonderful?! I notice that Blogger automatically changed my age in my profile this morning.

Sunday, June 07, 2009

Update on Me and S-

I haven't been very good about keeping up with status reports, so this is a guilt laden attempt to update. Back around May 1st or maybe a week or so earlier, the site where I lost the last toe decided to spontaneously split open. In the best medical terminology, the circulation in that right leg and foot was, and is, "lousy". The surgeon decided that drastic measures (hyperbarics) were called for. You may have heard about this in an earlier blog. Since walking and standing are difficult, it takes me the better part of the morning to get shaved and showered. At noon it is time for a hurried lunch, and departure for the hospital. Then it is four or four thirty when I get out of the chamber. For reasons described in the next paragraph it is a hustle to get to dinner. It is about a forty minute drive from the hospital. After dinner, both S- and I are near collapse.

Meanwhile , Hyatt is undertaking a huge renovation of the dining rooms, lobby. beauty parlor, etc., etc. They have converted the auditorium into a pleasant , but crowded, temporary dining area. If you miss your assigned sitting time -- too bad. You have to wait until someone else breaks a leg or otherwise misses their time.

Add to all this and it started pouring rain on May 18th and hasn't stopped since. This has prevented our taking my electric scooter to the hospital and generally made life complicated.

This is a short lists of the events that have kept me from the computer. I'll try hard to catch up soon.

Prior to these busy days, we had a joyous visit from the kids and grandkids from New Zealand. They brought their 8 week old baby and we practiced our baby talk. Its been a while.

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

A Fish Story

Two Christmases ago, S- gave me an aquarium. I may have mentioned before that the deal was that she would give it to me, but I had to take care of it. It didn’t turn out that way, but that is another story.

Last year we had built the fish colony up to an interesting mix – only to suffer a monumental fish kill in the fall.We cleaned the tank, put in new water, treated the water and bought kits to check for noxious materials. We left the aquarium fish-less for several months with the filter going full force. Finally, nervously we bought just two little red wag tailed platys. They were pretty, but inexpensive and ideal for “testing the waters”.

The fish thrived and we were about to add more “When what to our wondering eyes did appear…” tiny, wee, bitty, micro things with two eyes bigger than the rest of their bodies. Now, just a few months later, we have a tank full of at least twenty red wag tailed platys!

I suspect we have reached the peak of the population curve. There is no place left for the fry to hide.

Anyone want a dozen or more fish?

Sunday, May 17, 2009

Big Falling Out

Today is a sad day. I finally broke off my passion for "Meet the Press". I feel sorry of David Gregory. He just doesn't get it. He continues to act like his interviews must be tough gotcha games. His programs sound like bitter arguments. Tim Russert knew how to challenge a person with a smile. He and George Stephanopoulos could and can make their "...but you said this three years ago...?" come across as a friendly request for clarification. I'm just an old fashioned guy who thinks civility has a place in debate. (Except in the "frat" house where you can say anything you want just to get your opponents goat.)

Friday, May 15, 2009

Life in a Torpedo Tube AKA Hyperbaric Chamber

This was my seventh afternoon in a clear plastic tube. It could go on for as long as three months. I think I have already gone through the “getting used to it” stage and am getting bored with it. They roll you into this tube exactly the way they do in submarine movies when the bridge gives the order “Load tubes One and Two”. For hours the first “dive” I worried that someone would say “Fire One, Fire Two”!

Actually, the nurses do use dive jargon. For instance, they refer to a treatment session as a dive. The pressure you are subjected to is expressed in the equivalent number of feet under water. For example, I am under the pressure you would feel at 33 feet below water. When you are snuggly locked in the tube and can’t hear anything outside, they signal that they are starting to raise the pressure by signaling with the hands that you are going down. When, at the end of a dive, they signal with an upward motion, it means the pressure is starting down toward normal.

These times of changing pressure are the only times when there is a physical reaction to the dive. You are busy popping your ears by swallowing or taking a sip of water and swallowing or whatever works for you. If you have flown, you know about pressure changes. In my case, it takes about fifteen minutes for the pressure to get up to the treatment level and about the same time to reverse the process. I am taken to a pressure equivalent to 33 feet under water and held there for 110 minutes. Other folks go deeper for longer times. Doctor’s choice.

I guess everyone’s concern is claustrophobia. The concern intensifies when you ask, “Can I get out any time I want to?” The answer is, “Sure, but remember it takes fifteen minutes to return the pressure to normal and we can’t open the hatch until then.” But don’t worry. Everything to alleviate you concern has been thought of. The transparent tube is a big help. They promise that someone is always in the room with you. Then there are very large curved mirrors that allow you to see the whole room and everyone in it. If you rap on the tube, a nurse will pick up a phone and you can chat with her. She will reassure you all is well. Also large, school room clocks are visible so you know how long you have to go. A separate TV with DVD and tape player is clearly visible for each chamber with sound piped in to you.

There is no way to make a fashion statement in a hyperbaric session. On arrival you must be free of any antiperspirant, lotions, after shave, any jewelry, false teeth, and most important for women – no perfume nor make-up of any type.. As the nurses insist, you must be as God made you. You must change clothes, wearing nothing of your own, but just special hospital scrubs. No books, newspapers, watches, iPods, no cellphones, no nothing can go in with you

During your time in a chamber (tube) everyday air is replaced by 100% oxygen. This presents a very real fire danger and explains the restrictions on what can be on your skin or what can go in the chamber with you (nothing). To emphasize the point, a chamber blew up at a clinic recently with loss of life. Don’t cheat!

So what have I been doing for two and a half hours everyday? Well, I watch DVDs and television, I sleep a little, and I think a lot. You know in normal life we seldom have the freedom to think. Previously, cross-country trains were my favorite think places.

All this for a little bitty wound that does not want to heal.

Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Good Gracious Sakes Alive!

We went to the mall this noon for lunch. There is a door right next to the restaurant we enjoy, so we parked near by and ducked in without really glimpsing the mall proper. After lunch (we commented that it was unusually lacking in people eating) we made our plan for attacking the mall, my wife to the department stores and I to the Apple store and the like.

Now by way of background, The Mall at Wellington Green is quite classy, in keeping with its name. First class merchants all have stores there. The second thing to remember is that I have not been out of home, nursing home, or hospital for several months.

Well, I got on my little electric go-cart and headed off to see the sights. I wasn’t gone a minute when it struck me – My God! Where are the stores? I have been hearing lots about the recession on TV, but this was the first I had seen it up front and personal. My first impression was that every other store was empty. It wasn’t quite that bad, but pretty desolate. The only store that showed any bustle was the Apple store. I went in Dillards Department store to buy three pair of socks and there I saw the other side of the phenomenon . In the Men’s Dept. it was 40% off on everything and 70% off a wonderful array of racks of long sleeve sports shirts. The few men that were in the store were hovering over the racks looking for more shirts than the ones they had clutched in their arms. In retrospect, I should have bought six pairs of socks.

I had a question for someone in the Verizon telephone store. I am used to standing in line there. Today there were four idle clerks and me. They all wanted to “help me” and they didn’t even back off when I said I just had a question.

I was too young during the Great Depression to realize things were different than normal then. This time I was shockingly aware that change may be coming that could be irreversible.


Friday, February 20, 2009


I forgot to record on this blog that I would be absent for a month or so. Sorry bout that. I probably have mentioned that my years of heavy smoking (even though I had quit 35 years ago) have been catching up with me. This hospital trip was for the removal of another toe which was infected in rhe bone. It hurt like the dickens and it is a relief to have it gone. Poor circulation, don't you know. Had to go to Rehab for two weeks to get my balance under control.

When I was in the army, our Supply Sergeant didn't want to go to the Far East after we got back from Europe. He took a forty-five and carefully shot off his big toe with a bit of "collateral damage". It was an effective way to get out of our company, but not the army. I never saw or heard from him again. I cringe when I think of him trying to put on an army boot and walk after he healed up. That must have hurt!

Monday, January 05, 2009

Small Notes

While attacking the mess in my office recently, I came across one of the notebooks my wife had provided me to make notes while in the hospital. I had added a bunch of ideas from the past (and some the present) which might make blog subjects. That ended my efforts at cleaning up. I sat down to read.

My first thought came not from anything I wrote, but from what I didn’t write. Why the blankity blank can’t I date things? I write notes like, “Dr. Garcia, Friday, 1:45PM” No month! I have gazillion menus with no dates. I don’t know why I care, but it would help me figure out how many times I had peanut butter and jelly sandwiches in any given week.

I remembered that my Dad could not hear high frequency sounds. He wired a light into the phone so he didn’t have to yell “Is THAT the phone?” His hobby was building HiFi phonos, He had meters to see if something that he built really worked. Nothing got him down.

Dad never told me (or anyone I knew) that he couldn’t tell me what he was working on at work. He simply didn’t tell. Once I twitted him about that and he told that on that day he and coworkers took a radar up on to the roof of the building he worked in. They shot at pigeons with a radar gun and killed several. Since I had no idea at that time what a radar gun was, I didn’t know if I was being teased or not.

Wish I had dated the note that read: “Today, I had the nurse from Hell. Bad Breathe, Chewing gum, and Body Odor.”