Monday, December 31, 2012

Ring in the new year

Here were my predictions for 2012, given a year ago today, with the actuals in brackets:
Dow $13000 (actual $13104)
S and P $1400 (actual $1425)
NASDAQ $3000 (actual $3020)
Unemployment 7.5% (Nov. 2012 7.7%)
President Obama will be embarrassed by the OWS demonstrations at the convention, but he will be  re-elected. (he was re-elected and OWS was but a memory)
Congress The House will remain in Republican hands, the Senate in Democratic hands. (turned out to be true)
China There will be a Chinese spring with widespread protests and rioting. (didn't happen, at least not on a large scale)
Middle East will stabilize but no major changes except the Muslim Brotherhood will take power in Egypt. (happened)
Europe will offer travel bargains for Americans. (air fares remained high)

So overall, not to brag, but my predictions were pretty good. Not bad at all. Now let us take a look at January 1, 2014. 

Dow $14000
S and P ($1500)
NASDAQ ($3300 and a comeback for Microsoft)
Unemployment (7.1%)
Fiscal Cliff Will be solved before the Inauguration. Taxes and milk prices will go up for everybody.
Middle East Gunfire but no war.
Philadelphia Eagles New head coach, new quarterback, no playoffs. 
Life in General Higher interest rates, higher prices, life will be the same muddle but there will be some decent movies released this year. The hip people will leave Brooklyn, get married and move back to the Suburbs. 

Thursday, December 27, 2012

A well documented life

Going through old pictures is fascinating. I found a picture of my grandfather, Aunt Rock, Aunt Emma Dell in an old box. I scanned them and now they are preserved for posterity. One black and white faded picture each of these treasured relations. Compare that to the documentation that takes place of a young person in today's society.

A two year old child can expect to be videotaped for at least one hour of his/her existence for every week of childhood. Hours of movies. Baby's first tooth, Baby's first lunch, Baby's first splinter, Baby's first communion, Baby's first period, Baby's first boyfriend, Baby's first fight with Mother, Baby graduates from pre- school, etc.  By the time Baby is forty years old she will have 2080 hours of film. Every snicker doodle of her life will have been recorded and viewed by bored relatives on You Tube.

She can drop her cable subscription at fifty and do nothing but watch the progress of  her own life and have enough programming until she reaches her eightieth birthday. Socrates said, "An unexamined life is not worth living". I guess life today must be really worth living.

Saturday, December 22, 2012

Santa rides on a fire engine

When I first moved into my neighborhood I was startled to hear fire trucks and police sirens in my neighborhood. #(*&*(^*&)% I said, there must be a fire! Hurrying to put on my shoes I looked out the window. There was a red fire truck with Santa Claus waving from the engine. This being a new facet of the holidays I had never seen, I was still relived to be able to go back to my Masterpiece Theatre and put my pajamas back on.

Recently at a department Christmas lunch the conversation (these things can get dull) turned to the topic of when children discover the truth about Santa. The thought occurred to me of how to explain to a Santa believer the presence of Santa on a fire truck. The best story I could think of is that he does this to spy on the little children to make sure they are being nice and not naughty. This has the double advantage of keeping the Santa story alive (you can always blame him when the kids don't get what they wanted under the tree) and to keep the kids from getting too bratty in the month of  December.

I am getting jaded in my old age. Last night I heard all the commotion outside and ignored the whole thing. We have now all been trained to ignore the sound of fire alarms during the days preceding Christmas. Hope there never is a real fire during this time of year.

Editor's note: Here is cute video you might enjoy. It contains frank language. Happy Kringles!

Thursday, December 20, 2012

The record that ruined Christmas

Before this record came out we sincerely believed in Santa, God, country, Perry Como and Pat Boone. Then this record came out and we all became cynical. Christmas greetings became ironic. Ironic as in 30 Rock, SNL, The New Girl, etc. We went from sincere people who really cared about the holiday to cynics who could only say Merry Christmas with irony.  This record ruined Christmas for a generation. 

Tuesday, December 18, 2012

Slate's Christmas Favorites

Slate published a list of the great Christmas records today. Not bad.

Of course I would make a few changes. I'd substitute the Chrismas Waltz by Peggy Lee Frank Sinatra's version. I'd also include some of my personal classics like "Got a code inda node for Christmas" by Gayla Peevey,  and "Grandma Got Run over by a Reindeer" by Elmo and Patsy. Of course,  no Christmas would be complete without "Italian Jingle Bells" by Lou Monte. I also like Christmas Time in Harlem by Louis Armstrong.  I guess this year I'm doing the lazy way of making a Christmas cd. 

Sunday, December 9, 2012

Dear Aunty Florence

Delco woman sentenced for food-stamp fraud

November 30, 2012|By Aubrey Whelan, INQUIRER STAFF WRITER
A Darby woman who pled guilty to allowing patrons at her food market to exchange food stamps for cash was sentenced today in federal court in Philadelphia to 21 months in prison and ordered to pay $225,000 in restitution.
Federal officials said Florence Kingsley, 59, the former owner of Aunty Florence's West African Food Market, would give food-stamp recipients cash in exchange for the stamps and then falsify register transactions.
In one instance, officials said, Kingsley purchased $200.23 in Food Stamp benefits and gave the Food Stamp recipient $120 in cash, keeping the remaining monetary value for herself.

Not Dear Aunty Florence? 

the Fiscal Cliff

Charles Krautheimer has a new column on the fiscal cliff. Maybe he's right that it's all politics. Things usually are. Obama has some nice cards right now. The Bush tax cuts are going to expire on January 1 automatically. Obama won the election and the Dems have a few more Congressional seats stating in 2013. He has the big MO. So what's the hurry?

Nobody knows how things will turn out. Still it will make for some nice holiday dinner conversation.

Thursday, November 29, 2012

45 rpm records

I always like to brag that I have music in all formats. I have a few seventy eights, lots of singles, albums, cassettes and cd's. One thing I  forgot is how I got all those singles. The truth is that most of them  were not bought at the standard price when the records were on the charts. Most of them were bought when they were put in plastic bags. These records have little holes punched in them at the corner of the labels.

One summer day I was at the Modell's record department and I noticed something new. Plastic bags containing  singles were on sale for three for a dollar or thirty nine cents. The records varied and contained  different artists with hits and almost hits of the past year or so. You might find "I got you babe" or "Sweet talking guy" or a Solomon Burke single. Or Mary Welles, Petula Clark and the Kinks. The artists were very varied, but except for the one time I found "Ain't she sweet" they contained no Beatles, Stones, or Dylan. You never found a Capitol recording but otherwise I remember seeing all the labels. I even discovered three Jimi Hendrix records together.

The other day I spent an hour or so playing old singles. They still sounded good but getting up every three minutes to change the record is hard on the back. A lazy man's way of listening to old records is searching for the titles through You Tube. It's amazing how many records from that era are available there.

Saturday, November 24, 2012

the day after Thanksgiving

One of the weirder American holidays is the day after Thanksgiving, also known as "Black Friday". It is a day when  all school children get off but many adults have to work. I remember when I worked in Denver on that day. It was the day we got to see all the husbands of the key punch operators in the office. Mom would have to work, Daddy would be off, the kids would be off and the pay checks were given out at noon. One by on at twelve o'clock the husbands would all troop in with the kids to pick up the checks. It was fun matching up the families to the staffers. 

I wrote a newsletter column back then for the house organ of the company. I wrote how great it was to see every body's family on the day after Thanksgiving. That article must have caught the attention of somebody because the next year the company made that day a vacation day. I always felt is was my column that was responsible. 

Probably for me my happiest memory of this day is being home from college and seeing all my college buddies on that day. I remember taking the bus to New York with old friends on that day. I think we ate Chinese food. 

Nowadays the day after Thanksgiving has become the major shopping day of the year, "Black Friday". I guess getting up at three a.m to go to the stores is a ritual by itself. This year, however, the stores are opening on Thanksgiving night. More convenient but probably not as exciting. 

Thanksgiving being a Thursday can be traced to Washington. I often wonder why it isn't a Friday. Wouldn't it make more sense than creating an orphan day and a day care nightmare for millions of working parents? I guess in the good olde days Mother was home on that day, catching up on the canning.

Wednesday, November 21, 2012

Come ye thankful people come

I went to the same school from kindergarten to grade 6 in dear olde Hackensack. The day before Thanksgiving, every year, the 6th grade choir would march from classroom to classroom in choir robes and sing "Come ye thankful people come". Nothing being more sentimental than a fourth grader during a holiday period, I remember having moist eyes as I would hear the choir sing that song. As a sixth grader I got to wear a robe myself.

At that age I swallowed up elementary school traditions lock stock an barrel. It was a big event in my life, one that would repeat seven times through my childhood. When I was in high school I would tell you how school was meaningless and a symptom of an over regimented society but as a kid I was a true believer.

By fifth grade I knew the cynical version of the song. "Come ye thankful people come, blow the school to kingdom come, first the teachers, then the ... I forget the rest. Even school kids had their non believers.

Editor's note: Lock stock and barrel is a cliche, best avoided in writing.

Tuesday, November 13, 2012

Morning television

The other day I was sitting in the dentist chair waiting to have my teeth drilled. It was early and I was staring in terror at the TV screen watching Good Morning America. I guess it was supposed to anesthetize me but it had the opposite effect. I can't believe it, everybody is so happy! Everybody is so hyped up and the audience is screaming with delight. The public in Times Square looked like a group of methedrine users topping off their highs with coffee and sugar donuts. And all the bright primary colors.

Later, home I turned on the TV and there was Rachel Ray. Again, everybody is smiling and so happy. The audience is cheering with bliss. I guess they must get free pastries. Next week she is premiering smell o vision and giving out smell cards. I would have missed that fact had I been at work.

Next I watched the View. This was a downer after the other shows. Barbara Walters was bitching about Lindsay Lohan turning her down for an interview. After Barbara had a notebook full of notes. The audience cheered at the notebook. At least the View panelists are almost like real people. Real hung over people.

Finally I turned on the news. The big story was the Petraeus sex scandal. America loves sex scandals. And apparently there are reams of incriminating e mails. I keep my incriminating e mails stored on a cd rom. If I ever need to turn them over I'll be ready.

Wednesday, November 7, 2012

Old white men

It's official. With the re-election of Obama, Old white men no longer rule our country. The new results show that women, atheists,  along with various non white ethnic groups, voted together against the class of people that has run this country from the beginning. Old white men.

Us old white men enjoy our privileges. We make more than anyone else does at the office and when we leave we head for the bar. After a few libations, we head home. There we are met by the wife, who, recently arrived home from work herself, is making us a nice supper. Then she does the dishes, then the laundry. She takes care of the kids and allows us to watch the game while drinking another beer. We yell at the tv and everybody puts up with us because we are in charge. We are old white men.

We like things the way they are and voted for Romney to keep things that way. Dag nap it. They ganged up on us and put that Obama back in office for four more years. We believed in freedom and the right for a man to make his own mistakes. Now we're going to become socialist, just like the French. The French. Dag nap it. Fere Jacques. Pardon my Hungarian.

Tuesday, October 30, 2012


Well the big storm is over. Power is back. Luckily I had power during the evening hours last night. It was interesting going to the ACME this morning. They only sold cans and dry goods and the lights were real dim like it was being powered by a generator. The conveyor belts and electric doors didn't work. It felt like a scene from Foyle's War.

During a storm like this that gets a lot of media coverage, out of town friends and kinfolk are concerned. "Oh we were so worried. I hope you're all right!"

I can be truthful and say I got two days off from work and learned to read Agatha Christie by sunlight. Of course there is always the temptation to avoid disappointing your interrogators.

"Oh you wouldn't believe it. I was in the living room and the plaster fell off the ceiling and the basement flooded ten feet and the cat died. Remember the big oak in the back yard? It's now sticking out of my deck. And the roof of the car caved in." Makes for a better story.

Thursday, October 18, 2012

Gasoline prices

Sometimes it's better to be lucky than right. The day after Romney was talking about how gas has gone from under $2 (I think that lasted a day) to now going above $4. The next day I went out in the car and noticed that gasoline had gone down ten cents a gallon. It was almost like the gas stations wanted to boost up the president's standing.

 I somehow got the impression that both men were a little sketchy in their appraisals of gas prices at the pump. I am sure  that they both go places in cars that have already been gassed up by one of their underlings. The president hinted that if cars are more energy efficient, the price of gas is offset by miles per gallon. He didn't have the courage to say that, but he hinted at it.

I remember in 1973 when there were long gas lines. My father said, "They'll raise the price of gas to a buck fifty and then everybody will have gas". Father was right on that one. Gasoline is a funny thing. It's much higher in Pennsylvania and New York than New Jersey, and those states allow people to pump their own gas. I suspect that gas will stay under $4 until the end of the year. Then there will be a rapid increase as President Romney readies America for invasions of Syrian and Iran.

Wednesday, October 17, 2012

the Poconos

At some point in my youth, my parents discovered the Poconos. They found a resort called Mo No Mo Nock and got in the habit of going there for a few days every summer, often with Dad's golf buddies. Occasionally the kids went with them. I remember playing skittles, hanging out at the pool, and I remember they had a social director who engineered events like square dance night. I actually spent Woodstock weekend as an unhappy youth at Mo No Mo Nock.

I was sitting by the pool one day when I was almost kidnapped. A couple came up to me with their two daughters and asked if I'd like to spend the day exploring with them. My mother headed them off at the pass.
The last thing she needed was for poor Mr. Mustache to get involved with a strange family on what was supposed to be a family vacation. Later Mother said, "What is this, the Catskills?"

Mount Airy Lodge was the more expensive cousin of Mo No Mo Nock. Although my parents were too cheap to stay there, I remember my mother telling me they went there for lunch (I was in college by then). "Oh the clothes!" my mother commented on what she saw at Mount Airy Lodge. Apparently she was impressed by the ostentatious apparel worn by the diners.

Today, after forty three years, I finally went back to the Poconos. Route 611 is rather tacky and commercialized now. Driving up to Mount Airy Lodge to lose a few quarters, I came upon a Spanish diner. I ordered pollo guisado. The lady asked if I wanted plain rice or the bean laden rice next to it. I said "con frijoles". I am always happy to impress people with my high school Spanish.

Mount Airy Lodge is very pretty in a rustic parkish way, however I doubt my mother would comment on "the clothes" today. We live in a more informal time and people with real money don't go to the Poconos, unless, perhaps, they are skiing in the winter. The denizens of the casino were mostly seniors who apparently arrive by bus. I lost twenty dollars and went home. I stopped on the way at the outlet mall and bought a pair of leather gloves. This time I promise I won't lose them.

So the Poconos survive but it's different than the good olde days. Anyone up for a game of skittles?

Sunday, October 7, 2012

Pennsylvania voter ID laws

It's very significant that in Pennsylvania, Id's will not be required to vote. This should help the Democrats since they are less likely to have appropriate identifications or are too disorganized to produce one at the polls.

Mary Republican has a maid to watch the kids when she is at bible studies. On the way home she can vote and produce a driver's license and a passport.

Under the voter ID law:
Mary Democrat arrives at the polls five minutes before the polls close. Her kids are left in her car and are making a lot of noise. Mary Democrat gets distracted and  leaves her pocketbook in the car. It has all her identification and by the time she realizes she doesn't have it she can't vote because the polls are closed.
With the new ruling:
Mary Democrat can vote because the won't ask for ID.

Thursday, October 4, 2012

The Presidential debates

One of the nice things about the Presidential debates is that, because they are live and unscripted, you get a look at what the candidates are like in real life. Judging from the recent debates I now have the personalities of the two men figured out. 

Romney is the pushy guy who bawls out his caddy when he's at the golf course. At the 19th hole he complains because they put too many onions on his sandwich. He's not a generous tipper. 

At the debate Obama reminded me of a high school history teacher telling the students that class participation is 25% of the grade. As a teacher he is liked by the students, partly because he also coaches basketball.  He is a tough grader, but he can be dissuaded by a vociferous parent to up the grade of a taciturn student. He is a good tipper when he remembers. 

Tuesday, October 2, 2012

Smart phone use

Half of all adults in the United States have smart phones or tablets. I am not one of them. I have fallen behind. I also don't have HDTV, text on my phone or have a flat screen TV. I used to keep lists of things that one needed in order to be a successful American. Here is a synopsis by year:
1970: A phone, a stereo, a car, a television set.
1980: Add a VCR, a microwave oven and a cassette player.
1990: Add a CD player and a computer.
2000: Add a DVD player, a notebook computer, a kayak, a cellphone and a house.
2010: Add  HDTV television and a GPS.
2012: Add a tablet and a smart phone. Scratch the cassette player.

Golly, you never catch up.

Sunday, September 30, 2012

Rhubarb pie

"Beepop a ruooparb rhubarb pie". I finally ate rhubarb pie. I bought a pie at the Griggstown Quail Farm and produce market in scenic Griggstown New Jersey. Yes a series of serendipitous events has brought me to  Griggstown and made me a regular at the Tigers's Tale on Route 206. One never knows what roads may be traversed in life.

After years of listening to the Prairie Home Companion for years and hearing about the virtues of rhubarb pie my curiosity has been satiated. I enjoyed it, to a point, but don't know if I would have it again. Next I'll have to try genuine quail pot pie. 

Editor's note: A reader pointed out that the previous picture looks like a cherry pie. This photo looks like rhubarb to me. 

Saturday, September 15, 2012

The Life of Brian

 When the Life of Brian came out, nobody burned the British embassy. How come?

Thursday, September 13, 2012

Hobo Jack

One of the nice things about cable television is that occasionally when there is nothing on the regular channels or you've already seen the show, you can flip channels. Usually you come up with Gossip Girls or a religious show in Spanish but occasionally you come across a real gem. Monday night, for example, I discovered American Pickers, which was featuring an old codger named Hobo Jack. Hobo Jack lives "off the grid" in the woods, surrounded by collectible junk. Signs, old carburetors, 19th century lamps, etc. They are in barns that are hard to get into or scattered around the countryside.

Like many people we know, he is reluctant to part with anything. He always has plans for an item he is "going to use". Of course, we know that he will never rebuild that motorcycle or build a house out of elk antlers but he thinks he will. They do give him good prices for what he is willing to part with. He's not dumb, just a bit countrified.

The world needs more people like Hobo Jack. At least cable tv could use more of them.

Editor's note: I'm waiting for someone to tell me that Hobo Jack is a phony. He lives in a condo in Springfield and is really a retired professor from Cornell. He made a fortune in private equities, and sells stuff on E-Bay under a different name.

Sunday, September 9, 2012

It's Granparents Day

So today is Grandparents Day. Did you send your grandparents a card? Did you send your grandparents a gift? Did you visit your grandparents? Did you call them?  What about people you know who are granparents (if not yours)? Did you remember them?

I am sorry but I didn't know about it and I missed the whole thing. Sorry Grandpa.

Saturday, September 1, 2012

I ran a small business

I watched pieces of the the Republican convention. I learned how a woman with a child with Alzheimer's husband started making upholstery. Her family built that business, so they say. If you listen closely you might notice they sold to the Defense Department (government) the Little League (municipal government) Israel (had to be coordinated through the State Department) but they did it on their own. Well they wold have gotten a tax break if they had a handicapped child. Anyway, I began to think that  I have never run a small business. Then I remembered Tasty Maid.

My one experience of operating a small business occurred when an older guy on my block came up to me with an idea. "Look", he said, "the kids around here love Lik-m-Maid but they can't buy it on their own."  This was because they, unlike us, were not allowed to go on Essex Street, the commercial boulevard one block over.  "We can buy it at Breslow's and sell it to them at twice the price!"

My contribution to the business plan was twofold. We would put a cute label over the Lik-m-Maid label and call it Tasty Maid. We would also take the names of all the purchasers and put them in a contest. At the end of the month we would have a drawing and pick out a prize. I don't remember what the prize was.

On the fateful day, we put all the names in a jar and pulled out two names. The first was random and the second I cheated because my mother wanted to make sure one of the girls who had bought too much Tasty Maid would at least win a prize.

Here I learned the basic rules of business. Have a product people want. Repackage it to make a profit. Market the product. Keep your landlord happy. I wonder how my story would have gone over at the Republican convention.

Editor's note: The Republican convention had that pseudo patriotism that reminded me of the Art Linkletter show. That's what we all want. The return of Art Linkletter.

Thursday, August 23, 2012

Spam and the Unconscious

I have just been cleaning out my spam or junk mail files in my e-mail. I do browse through the titles to make sure a long lost girlfriend or a publisher wishing to buy the rights to my blog hasn't been trying to contact me. Doing this I have discovered something. Spam is the secret to the subconscious mind.

If you secretly are worried about going bald or are searching for something in your life or have secret health concerns you probably did a search at some point. Advertisers are notified of your searches and they are reflected in your spam. Spam is like the Freudian inchoate subconscious. Read through your spam. It is talking to the real you. The hidden you. Your private red room of pain. Spam is the secret to the unconscious. There's a doctoral thesis lurking somewhere in my discovery.

Saturday, August 18, 2012

Paul Ryan

August 13: Irma is cutting hair at the beauty salon:
Obama, I don't want to hear that word. My son in law has been
out of work for a year. Obuma I call him. Give me that new guy any day. Romney is getting my vote.

August 22: I'll tell you. I need my Medicare. I have a heart condition. I hear that Ryan guy wants to cut my Medicare. I'll hold my nose but Obama is getting my vote. 

Monday, August 13, 2012

Closing ceremonies

The closing ceremonies had their moments. The Ray Davies bit, not shown on NBC, was nice. I also like Eric Idle. If he had sang "Always look on the bright side of life" hanging on a cross it would have been great but perhaps controversial. Liked the Spice Girls too. In general, though, it was too long for me. Too many people I didn't know, overproduced, singing songs I didn't know. Like most of the events, NBC should have had it on live and then shown that show they wanted to promote, followed by a "best of presentation" starting at 9.

Tuesday, August 7, 2012

Fifty Shades of Grey

Recently I came upon a copy of EL James, "Fifty Shades of Grey". The hot book of the decade so far, called by critics "Mommy porn" and "bondage and discipline for corporate types". So far, I've read the first two hundred pages. Not bad, it reads well. The writing style reminds me a bit of English chic lit writer Marian Keyes. Somehow the fact that the author is British seems to have influenced my reading of the book. The author sounds British to me, rather than like a writer from the West Coast. 

It is a fun book, at least so far. I like the contract. The billionaire good looking guy into domination wants the poor virginal protagonist to sign a legal contract before he begins his kinky doodlings in the "red room of pain". Writing a contract seems like a wonderful idea for people entering into a relationship. I wonder if our parents had contracts like that when we were growing up. "If it becomes too painful say yellow" for example. 

Poor Anastasia seems to alternate between loving her times with Christian (was he a Christian?) and hating herself for the whole idea. Christian is the over priviledged billionaire of the book. The thing he has that I admire most is his loyal servant Taylor. I wish I had a Taylor. Someone to bring my clothes to the cleaners. Someone to do my shopping. Someone to stay home waiting for the air conditioning repairman. Ah Taylor, so crisp and helpful.  

The book has brought a mini boom to the construction industry as men build "red rooms of pain" extensions to their garages. I can see a reality show here. The real submissives of Seattle.   

Editor's note:  A nice podcast on the book is available here

Friday, August 3, 2012

Eliminate August

David Plotz of the Slate Political Gabfest wrote this about the month of August. Enjoy.

Saturday, July 28, 2012

Olympics Opening Ceremonies

Everybody seems to have an opinion about the opening ceremonies. I liked them, more or less. I liked the first part where we got to see the bucolic England. The next bit I liked to with the smokestacks and the whole stadium filling up with smoke. I actually thought the queen had parachuted into the stadium until I was told otherwise. Liked the Mr. Bean bit. Liked the English literature bit. Like JK Rowling. Liked the salute to National Health Service as did Mitt Romney I'm sure. The other things Britain are known for are the great rock bands of the sixties and the sitcoms. Liked that part too. I knew Queen would be featured. Once, when visiting England I was informed that Queen was HUGE in England.

The story of the guy and girl I thought was a little weak. I know the rap singer was obligatory to make the thing multicultural. Like many baby boomers, I see hip hop the way our parents viewed rock and roll. A curiosity for thirty seconds then annoying. "Turn that &*^%#* music down!"  is my normal reaction. I've become my old man.

Ending was nice.  Overall a good show, and compares well to the China thing of a few years ago. Now on to a pleasant week of women's beach volleyball. Heard this time they are going to be dressed in bloomers.

Friday, July 13, 2012

Ban on women driving

Saudi Arabia has a ban on women driving, a ban many newly activist Saudi Arabians are fighting. I was reading about this controversy when my mind began to wander... My how wonderful it would be if women weren't allowed to drive in America ...

To drive to work with only half the traffic. Young children would have to walk to school like we did, with their mothers unable to drive them. That would help the obesity problem in children. Oh the buses would be so crowded with women as men would smile as they pass them all in their empty cars.

Like all good things that come to an end, it appears inevitable that Saudi Arabia will allow women to drive. Within a few years I suspect.

Editor's update: October 25, 2013 was a the day of a country-wide action where women drove as a protest. In 2018 women will be allowed to drive. Oh well.

Friday, July 6, 2012

3 dimensional printing

One of the big stories circulating today is that 3 dimensional printing could be the way manufacturing can return to the United States in a big way. In the future, the theory goes, this technology will allow the manufacture of virtually anything without a mould. Bobble heads could be made here instead of China, for instance.

Saturday, June 30, 2012

The "if you get hit by a bus" argument

One argument you'll hear in favor of Obamacare is that, today, if you don't have insurance and you are hit by a bus and taken to a hospital, they have to treat you anyway and the taxpayers pay, according to the law. Hence Obamacare only  makes people pay for a service they are already getting. The other side will be against it because they believe in freedom and didn't spend three years in Korea so that the government could tell them they have to have health insurance.

We can expect to hear this argument in bars, barber shops, family get-togethers, neighborhood barbecues and other places.  Right now the "hit by a bus" people are ahead but that could change with the presidential election.

Editor's note: Here is the Supreme Court decision.

Thursday, June 28, 2012

Tibby is dead

Like most men, when the games on tv are over, we enjoy knocking down a few cans of beer while enjoying the Traveling Pants series. I myself have enjoyed an evening with the guys discussing the significant moments in these magical trousers.  However for those of us who have made Lena, Bridgett, Carmen and Tibby a part of our lives it is quite difficult to accept the fact that dear Tibby is now dead. So many of us have fond memories of the year she worked in a store and met Brian and helped make his movie while hanging out with Baley. A part of our lives is now tragically gone.

Today, thanks to these books,  I now am an expert on the transformation from girlhood to adulthood.  Sadly, the latest installment has us all grieving and lamenting the passing of dearest Tibby.

Sunday, June 24, 2012

Repossessions in the burbs

We all have the image of a repossession. It's one AM and two young men are sitting near Temple University drinking King Cobras. Suddenly, a tow truck drives up to a car and tows it away while the young men are jumping up and down reciting excerpts from a rap record. However, repos can happen in any neighborhood including the suburbs.

Last night at 2 AM I heard this loud sound outside my window. It sounded like a garbage truck, but what would a garbage truck be doing at this hour? Perhaps there is a fire. I looked out the window and saw no fire truck,  just a nice new SUV on a tow truck being escorted out of its space. This is the second repo I've witnessed since moving to this quiet suburban neighborhood.

Editor's Note: I love when the fire truck drives by with Santa.

Saturday, June 23, 2012

Snooki vs. Kate Middleton

Snooki's bedroom in Jersey City
Duchess Middleton's future bedroom
The role models for young women in America and Britain are different. The symbolic leader for Americans  is Snooki while Britain's major role model for young women is Kate Middleton, Her Royal Highness the Duchess of Cambridge. The places of residence for the two idols are quite different, yet somehow similar in tone.

Snooki's digs in Jersey City lean heavily towards lion prints, recalling "Treetops", the royal enclave in Kenya. The soon to be refurbished digs for Prince William and Kate Middleton, Her Royal Highness the Dutchess of Cambridge, is  Kensington Palace. Looking at pictures of both residences one is struck by the fact that both places are somewhat ostentatious. Soon we will hear that the Dutchess of Cambridge is expecting, joining her American equivalent in that special time in their lives.

Editor's note: Here they are together in print. To think, for the next year we are going to be inundated with stories about the royal cake in the royal oven. I can't wait.

Thursday, June 14, 2012

The new turntable

Recently I acquired a family heirloom, a turntable. It is pontificated upon in my sixties blog.

Saturday, June 2, 2012

Will it be a donut or an apple

Today I went to the Trenton Farmer's Market and it is always a treat. There is a great selection of foods and stores there. There's Polish places, Italian places, Amish places and fruit and vegetable stands, crowded together in a building that looks like it hasn't been remodeled since D Day.  It's kitschy but that's part of the charm of the place. 

Unexpectedly I learned about my true self. I had a couple of bags from the other farm stand I went to so I told the merchant he could put my apples and green onions in the bags I already had. "Well," I was told, "if you bring your own bag you get a choice of an apple or a donut."  Perhaps I was unwittingly part of a graduate student's case study. My mettle was being tested. At any rate I chose the donut over the apple. Mayor Bloomberg is right. Given the choice, most of us will choose something bad for us over something nutritious. 

Friday, May 18, 2012

An Internet treasure

Now I know why we have the Internet. So everyday we can watch this. Just think, for the rest of our lives we are going to watch Yahoo's Broken News Daily. Every single day.

Public radio in New Jersey

When NJN radio was divided up, New York's WNYC radio got the northern stations and Trenton and WHYY Philadelphia got the South Jersey stations. I listen to the Trenton station.  Although I enjoy listening to Brian Lehrer and Leonard Lopate on a local station without the crackle associated with listening to 820 AM,  the pitching is rather confusing to dear me. This morning I was pitched to by the New Jersey station saying I should give money to them. Later I was pitched to by Brian Lehrer, saying I should be giving money to WNYC. Being subject to fundraising by two different radio stations on the same station is rather confusing. Now that WNYC is a network and not just a station I wish it would start acting like one.

Saturday, May 12, 2012

Should I buy Facebook

Many of us remember when we had a chance to buy Google stock at it's IPO of $85 (now it's in the 600's) and think,"I am not going to miss out on another opportunity" and are tempted to buy Facebook. It's true, lots of people use Facebook but I for one think it has peeked in popularity and that it will be replaced by a new social networking site in a few years. The reason for this is the hipness factor.

When Atlantic City first got gambling, young hip type people were drawn to it (see above photo) then over time Atlantic City looked more like the other photograph. Facebook started out like the above photo but today  is becoming more like the other photo. Most people don't want to hang out with their grandmothers. Hence, there will soon be a new social networking site that attracts the young, hip set. This site will eventually attract the more desirable demographic and Facebook will look like the Taj Mahal on a Wednesday morning. Yes, we will see use Facebook to share our new boat with our aunts, but the attractive co-worker at work will be at a different on-line location. There probably already is a hip Facebook out there but I don't know about it. If you know what it is please share.

Thursday, May 3, 2012

I graduated from kindergarten

Yesterday I had lunch in a restaurant and noticed a board next to the cash register with posters. One said "Tim Lee graduated from kindergarten".  Another said "Simon graduated from the third grade".  A third said "perfect attendance in the second grade".   

It made me think of what things were like in my day. If you failed kindergarten you got a pop on the head. If you cut school you got a pop on the head. No awards for graduating from anything, but if you failed you got a pop on the head. 

I can see Tim Lee at work. "Mr. Hamerfuffer, I didn't call in sick last month, where is my party and cake?"  "Mr. Kantenfauchnen, I didn't screw up my assignment, where is my poster?"  

Sorry, guess I had too many pops on the head as a kid. 

Tuesday, May 1, 2012

Happy May Day

I remember as a tot in elementary school there was an assembly on May Day. There would be a May pole on the stage and a few lucky students would walk around the May pole wrapping ribbons around the thing. Later I found that the holiday was associated with Communism.

I also remember when I worked in Denver the staff would be dragged to a local park for a May Day celebration, and someone remarked "Where are the Communist flags?" We ate cold chicken then went back to work. We didn't have a may pole. 

May Day has a double meaning in the United States. It is a minor spring celebration and is also tied in with left of center politics. The Occupy Wall Street people want to make a big to do for today. I wonder if children are still forced to dance around May poles? Apparently so, at least in Portland Oregon.

Monday, April 16, 2012

Pippa Middleton

Looks like the George Zimmerman case is going to be pushed off the front pages. As will gas prices, North Korea and the upcoming presidential election. For the rest of this year, we are going to obsess over the Pippa Middleton affair. American's love their royals, and their royal scandals even more.  A lurid trial in Paris. Pippa Middleton in shackles on her way to a French prison. Perhaps they'll allow her boyfriend to join the French Foreign Legion. He seems to know his way around firearms. It was only a year ago American was introduced to the Middletons. And now it's come to this. 

Editor's note: I was wrong. Someone put the kibosh on this story. Just shenanigans among fun loving young people. 

Tuesday, April 10, 2012

Bottle baby boogie

In Seattle women will now be allowed to breastfeed in public. Makes me think of Bob Wills.

In 1950 my mother was feeding my older brother with a bottle in a park in the Bronx. A man came up to her and said, "You know, you feed them milk from humans they act like humans, you feed them from animals they act like animals."

Saturday, April 7, 2012

Trader Joe's

People of a certain socioeconomic class and background eventually become exposed to Trader Joe's. After yoga class they hear about it. At their daughters dance recital party it comes up in the conversation. "You must try Trader Joe's" we are told again and again. Finally, I gave in yesterday and went to this most discussed grocery chain. I do say the prices are fairly low. And there are lots of prepared foods, which surprised me. Some of them are a little weird I'll admit, like the Quinoa Duo instant cereal. The Trader Joe's cranberry juice is sour and should be diluted with water and mixed with something sweet. The breads look good and are cheap. I did like the "Trader Giotto's bruschetta". They have beer and wine too. Methinks they make a lot of their profits from liquor sales.

At any rate, it's a fun place to shop. The checkout man didn't like the way I packed my bag so he repacked it for me. They never did that at Shop-Rite.

Editor's note: This morning I was asked to join a recipe club. Here is the recipe I submitted  To think that yesterday I didn't know what bruschetta was and now I'm tossing it around like an expert:

Bruschetta Spanish style chilli

A smidgen of salad oil
For a more Mediterranean flavor you can substitute olive oil
1 garlic clove    sliced
¼ cup onions   sliced
2 sliced cayenne peppers
Enough chilli powder and cumin to coat meat
¾ lb. ground turkey
½ a bottle Trader Giotto’s Bruschetta (bought at Trader Joe’s)
A smidgen of ground pepper
½ a cup dried garbanzo beans aka chick peas
Salt to taste (actually the bruschetta has a lot of salt)

Wash beans and place in water. Microwave until soft.
Pour oil into iron skillet. Heat. Add onions and garlic and stir a minute or two.
Add ground turkey. You can strain after a couple of minutes. I don’t.
Dump and stir in cayenne, cumin, chilli peppers. Sear meat.
After a couple of minutes you can stir in the bruschetta.
Add ground pepper.
Strain beans and add (a little bit of bean water can be added too).
Reduce temperature.
Stir occasionally. Make sure meat is cooked before eating. 

Tuesday, April 3, 2012

What keeps you awake at night

Today at work I was checking my email. I got a questionnaire from a professional organization. It asked what vendors I use and what kind of training I would like to be offered. The last question was "What keeps you awake at night?" 

I didn't know what to say. My first response was "hemorrhoids". I would love to read what other people said. Sometimes being cute can be an invitation to mischief. 

Monday, April 2, 2012

Dick Van Dyke marries

Chim chim cheree! You gotta watch those old Dutch guys 

Friday, March 16, 2012

St. Patrick's Day, Revisited

Were it not for St. Patrick, Ireland today could be a center for Zoroastrianism instead of a place with lots of Catholics. And so I reprint my classic blog on St. Patrick's Day. I sound grumpy. Hope you all enjoy your corned beef and cabbage. Thankfully, the days of green dyed beer seem to be behind us.

Monday, March 12, 2012

The Monkees

I wrote about the Monkees today on the sixties blog.

Monday, March 5, 2012

See a man about a horse

Recently I was at the doctor's office and the nurse practitioner was taking blood. I mentioned that the doctor mentioned he wanted to do a urinalysis. The n-p gave me a cup and said go into the bathroom and "letter following 'O' into a cup". I was quite shocked. I never would say the letter following "O" to a lady. Actually I prefer the old English term, "I'm going to see a man about a horse".

"Sir, take this cup and go into the restroom and see a man about a horse". Sounds more proper to me.

Saturday, March 3, 2012

Fishtown vs. Belmont

Charles Murray has a new book that's getting alot of attention, almost as much as the "Bell Curve". In his new book, "America: Coming apart" he describes two typical towns, the upper class successful Belmont and the white trashy Fishtown. In Belmont everyone is married, lives in the suburbs, goes to college, attends church on Sunday and has good jobs. In Fishtown, nobody goes to church, graduates from college, or gets married. People might have kids but they don't get married.

In a way, this is true. Most of our bosses are married, have kids, live in the suburbs, go to church and have wives. When they come home, their clothes have been cleaned and dinner has been cooked by their spouses, or possibly their maids. The folks in Fishtown go home from crappy jobs (if they have jobs) to their cluttered dirty apartments and they warm up a tv dinner while guzzling a beer. Ideally we should all aspire to live in Belmont, but somehow Belmont doesn't sound like a lot of fun.

Editor's note: I like the part where he says that marriage civilizes men. I guess it's time to go out in the woods and skin a squirrel for dinner.