Things I Know

  • Open mouth, insert foot, speak, and then think.  That’s the wrong order, Vice President Biden.

  • I’ve only worked one place in my entire life, a radio station, where former employees hold reunions and other former employees go to the reunions.  I go to the reunions even though the station fired me.  We had one last weekend.  It was nice to see all those people again.

  • I haven’t been fired since I stopped working at radio stations.

  • If you were wondering how hotel staff or police get into a hotel room when the door is locked with a chain from the inside.  One answer is a strong magnet.

  • I heard someone say recently that they wish they could go back to high school, knowing what they know now.   Because I know what I now know, I don’t want to go back to high school.

  • The Mega Millions Lottery on Friday has a big prize of around $220 million.  Your chances of winning if you don’t buy a ticket are zero.  Your chances of winning if you do buy a ticket are still virtually zero, unless, of course, you win.  So, make a joke about what you would do if you won, but don’t make plans to give it away until you do win.  And don’t bet the rent either.

Things I Want (Or Need) To Know

  • Can you remember the last time you saw a May Pole?

  • Do you need a license to run amok?

  • If I buy a buttered roll or muffin for breakfast at my local deli, the butter only sticks to one side.  Why?  Do you think it’s a plot by the people who manufacture plastic knives?

  • William Parente.  Why?  Once again someone killed a bunch of other people, in this case his wife and two daughters, in a Maryland hotel and then killed himself.  If, as has been suggested, he was in trouble with the law for running a Ponzi scheme, perhaps he thought his arrest and imprisonment would ruin his family’s lives.  They might have recovered.  They can’t recover from being murdered.

  • Chocolate candy cigarettes supposedly encourage smoking.  I wonder what chocolate Easter bunnies encourage.

  • If Chrysler does merge with Fiat, how long will it take before Chryslers rust that fast?

  • Did you think you’d live to see General Motors become a government agency?

Perfect Timing

A long time ago in a galaxy far, far away, I worked for a fictitious company.  Let’s call it Dun & Bradstreet for want of a better name.  The company was nice to me.  The boss was nice to me.  Working conditions were decent too, but I’ve mentioned before that I’m crazy so it may come as no surprise that I wanted to be on the radio.   I became a stringer for the best local news operation in the area.  A stringer gets paid by the story.  The more you work, the more you make.  I worked so much that my full time job was interfering with my stringing.  I made more money stringing than I did from meaningful employment.

One Monday morning, I arrived early at my place of business.  My desk normally had a rack on it which contained about 500 files.  That Monday morning, no files, no rack.  A few minutes later, my boss walked in with my rack and my files under his arm.  My poor boss.  Because he bore the mantle of leadership, he had taken my files home and spent the weekend reviewing them.  He told me as he walked past my desk that he wanted to talk to me in his office.

I never found out what he wanted to say.  You see, I wanted to talk to him too and as I entered his office I told him it would probably save some time if I went first.  My full-time job, I said, was seriously interfering with my career, so I quit.

Perfect timing!

Things I Know

  • I was kidding with a friend this week and said, “Have a nice day, or go to work.  Your choice.”  Today, I didn’t do either one; I went to the dentist.

  • Paul Giblin, one of two reporters who just won a Pulitzer Prize for local reporting, was laid off between the time he co-wrote the stories and the time he won the prize.  So was an editor who oversaw the project. 

  • I met a guy who won a Nobel Prize and one who won a Pulitzer, right after each prize was announced.  In both cases, I was more excited than they were.

  • If I’m listening to the NY Yankees on the radio and John Sterling is doing the play-by-play, I always hope no Yankee hits a home run.  One signature home run call is plenty for me.

  • In New York City, an SUV plunged out of the sixth floor of a parking garage and fell three stories to crash on to the roof of the building next door.  Newsday reported that the cause of the accident was not immediately known.  Attention Newsday:  gravity caused the accident.  Always happy to help.

  • The way the Yankees chose camera angles during the ceremonies when the new Yankee Stadium opened, you couldn’t tell if Yogi Berra was able to reach home plate without bouncing the ceremonial first pitch.  I don’t care if he did.  Mr. Berra is a baseball treasure.

  • Close proximity to a very attractive woman decreases the typical man’s IQ by a measurable amount; a large, and easily measurable amount.  The effect is sometimes temporary.

  • The bad news for New York baseball fans is if you average Chien-Ming Wang’s and Johan Santana’s ERA’s, the answer you get is about 17!  The good news for Mets fans is Johan’s ERA is under 0.50.

  • The strangest headline I’ve seen in a long time is: “Stephen Hawking Is Gravely Ill.”  A brilliant mathematician and physicist, Professor Hawking has been seriously ill with Lou Gehrig’s Disease for most of his life, so that headline isn’t news at all.  Now, sadly, Dr. Hawking is hospitalized, suffering from another serious, but undisclosed illness.  Lou Gehrig’s Disease is incurable.  We hope he recovers from whatever else ails the body which encases his remarkable mind and spirit.

  • Finally, a warm weekend!

Things I Want (Or Need) To Know

  • Do you think paving over the area where Shea Stadium used to be got rid of the strong smell of urine?

  • What did the golden goose ever do to merit so many people trying to kill it?

  • Why do we need any ado at all, let alone much ado or further ado?

  • If you could care less, wouldn’t you?

  • Why don’t people ever watch TV on television?

  • The ground hog saw its shadow.  Isn’t the six weeks up yet?

  • Isn’t it too early to rehabilitate Eliot Spitzer?

  • Madonna says she fell off a horse on Long Islands fashionable east end because paparazzi jumped out of the bushes and spooked the animal.  So, how come there aren’t any pictures of the event?

Things I Know

  • In the second inning, I’m thinking Mike Pelfry may have been the wrong choice as the Mets’ starter in the first official game at the new Citi Field.  Tom Seaver was the only choice to throw out the ceremonial first pitch.  I’m glad Seaver was able to throw it to Mike Piazza without bouncing it.   He bounced his ceremonial last pitch at Shea.

  • As a culture, we over-use the word “Hero,” but just for the record, Richard Phillips:  Hero!

  • If we are in fact waiting, as David Gregory said on NBC Sunday morning, for official confirmation of the arrival of the “first dog” at the White House, then many of us who do not have them now should get lives.

  • It’s hard, but don;t pay attention to rumors.  What actually happened is I got reappointed to the job I already had and to a second job as well.  So I have more work to do and I like that.  I now have a reserved parking space too.  In order to get to it, I turn left when leave the building at night.  I used to turn right.  Believe it or not, it’s a change I’m having a hard time getting used to.

  • I’m older than the median for the US population.  That’s no surprise; half of us are.  So, if you’re walking in the same area I am, chances are you’re fast enough to keep up, agile enough to get out of the way, or both.  Pedestrians in Manhattan used to be good at walking in crowds and not getting in the way.  They aren’t anymore.

  • Rule #1:  The boss is always right.

  • Rule #2:  If the boss is wrong, refer to Rule #1.

  • In my experience, Rule #2 is immutable.

  • Change happens.  So does entropy.

  • I don’t think there’s a person in the USA who thinks the baby sitter killed Caylee Anthony.  And since Casey Anthony doesn’t have any money, all I can see that the baby sitter is accomplishing in pursuing a lawsuit is giving publicity to and repeating the false charge that the baby sitter did it.

The Vagaries of Language

We do some funny things in the English language.  A friend and former colleague commented on it last month in his blog,  It’s entry 527.  I would have called it to your attention earlier, but I’ve been away and it took me a while to catch up. 

Wes says the word misspeak actually means lie and it is but one example of watering down the English language.  I think Wes made a small omission because misspeak also means mistake, but both mistake and lie are stronger words than misspeak, so Wes is correct with respect to the principle of the thing.  Reading Wes’s blog regularly is anything but a mistake; I recommend it.

We do water down the language; we also distill it.  The word hero is overused and the way it is used takes a strong word and uses it as if it were weaker.  People are lauded as heroes when they didn’t even do something brave, just considerate.  When I was a fine young physical specimen (if you blinked you missed it) if I jumped into warm water to rescue someone who appeared to be drowning, I would have been nice, not heroic.  I’m a good swimmer and I learned how to rescue people without drowning myself.

If I did the same thing in icy water, I would have cramped into a ball, sunk to the bottom and drowned.  That wouldn’t have been heroic either, even though it would have been done at risk of my life; it would have been stupid.  Incidentally, I never became a lifeguard because the one time I took the lifeguard test, the water was extremely cold and the testers pulled me out after I cramped up but before I sank.

To be heroic, I think the hero has to exhibit bravery and risk life and limb.  Today, most headline writers have a much lower standard.

Things I Want (Or Need) To Know

  • There are several ways to spell Chanukah, so why is there only one way to spell Passover?

  • Is radio and cable TV host Glen Beck like that, or is it an act?

  • If I had a dog named Trick and I taught it to roll over, would I be guilty of turning a trick?

  • Do they still dye pistachios red?  Why?

  • The people who run the cable channel that carries NY Mets games schedule the live broadcasts of games for two-and-a-half hours.  They almost always last longer than that.  So why do they do it that way?

  • When Chrysler president Jim Press arrived at the New York International Auto Show the other day in a Fiat 500, he said Fiat and Chrysler didn’t have a merger to announce yet.  He also said that Chrysler was conducting business as usual.  That’s not a good idea, is it?

If Dying Was Easy, Everyone Would Do It.

When you were young, if you tried something and failed, did anyone ever say to you if whatever you tried was easy, everyone would do it?  Not correct!  Dying isn’t easy and everybody does that.  Depending on how fast you go, dying can be easy or hard on you, but it’s always hard on the loved ones you leave behind, assuming anyone does love you.

Everyone dies and everyone experiences grief and a sense of loss that accompanies the death of someone we care about or even a much-loved pet.  But when we talk about dying, we dance all around it.  He passed away.  We lost her.  He kicked the bucket.  She met her maker.  There are endless euphemisms; I won’t bore you.  I’m kind of fond of saying someone reached ambient temperature.  It takes a lot of people a long time to figure out what that means.  If we’re not going to be direct, I say obfuscate as much as humanly possible.

The usage that baffles me about death is what happens afterwards; she will be missed.  How do you know that, unless you are going to miss the deceased?  If you are planning to miss him, why not do it right now instead of putting it off?  Miss him now, not later.  Or miss her both now, and later.  Just don’t wait to start.  How long would it be appropriate to wait anyway?

I barely speak English.  Do they do that in other languages too?

I used to be nuts about death.  I would insist that when I die I didn’t want a wake.  Personally, I think Shiva is much more civilized than a wake.  Jewish people bury the deceased right away, usually the same day.  Then they gather at the home of the survivors and remember the one who is no longer there.  Irish Americans like me tend to stuff the old bat and have a party. 

I don’t worry about it anymore.  I haven’t been very good at controlling what goes on around me while alive, so when I die, I’m going to stop trying.  Maybe I’ll stop trying before that.  Whatever ritual surrounds the demise of someone is to comfort those left alive.  They should do what comforts them, not what would have comforted the person who died if they were still around.  So, the survivors should decide what happens and the dead person should relax and stay out of it.

Things I Know

  • The baseball season opens tonight.  Yay!  And it opens in the USA at a time of day when I don’t have to alter my sleeping habits to watch. 

  • Sunday is the first day of the week, but by Saturday, this will probably last as the dumbest thing I’ve heard all week.  On the radio this morning, I heard a doctor say we’ll have a worse pollen season this year than last because daylight saving time came three weeks earlier, so the plants will have more daylight to grow under.  Hello!  Daylight saving time does not make days longer.  It makes you get up an hour earlier so you don’t sleep through as much of the sunshine.

  • I may have to mow my lawn this week.  I knew there was something I didn’t like about warmer weather.

  • If I forget to lock my Blackberry before I put it in my pocket, either I take interesting photos of the inside of my pocket, or I call a random someone, sometimes someone I don’t know at all.

  • The phrase two-a-day no longer refers to football practice.  It now applies to someone killing a bunch of people and then killing him or herself.  This is bewildering, tragic and very, very sad.

  • Appointment update:  I’ve been told I will have a job after tomorrow night, but not the one I now have, or one I really like.  However, in this economy, jobs being as hard to find as they are, being employed full-time with benefits has more to recommend it than it once did.

Things I Know

  • Note to the brunette woman in the old, red Mercury Tracer headed north on Rte 17 in Ramsey NJ last Tuesday afternoon:  If everyone is passing you on the right, you have no business in the left lane.  Move over and stop blocking traffic.

  • Note to everyone who cut me off on Friday afternoon on the NY State Thruway (and there were lots of you):  If you do that, could you please drive faster than I am afterwards?  I don’t like to slow down either.

  • Central Avenue in Albany NY has joined the rare group of roads I won’t drive on anymore unless someone else pays to fix my car.

  • I made a big mistake when I bought something over the Internet using the e-mail address that goes to my Blackberry because the Blackberry doesn’t have a SPAM filter.

  • If you have 500 bored people with Blackberries in the same room, all of them won’t be able to get on the Internet at the same time.

  • I have a hard time sleeping in hotel rooms, especially the first night I’m there.  Because of that, I have no trouble sleeping in conference meeting rooms.  The solution should be obvious; put the beds in the meeting rooms and have the conference sessions in the hotel rooms.

  • I was at a conference this week.  I’ve been going to it off and on for 14 years and the one that just finished is the first one where I got a ribbon to go on the bottom of my badge.

Birthday Wishes

I come from a big family.  Not counting their spouses I had 12 aunts, and uncles, and “cousins by the dozens“was a reality for me.  If you count spouses, it gets harder because the question is do you count ex spouses?  If they are widows or widowers, certainly.  If their ex-ness is as a result of divorce, I make the judgment on an individual basis.  Truth be told, I liked some of the spouses better than some of the blood relatives. 

While I still have cousins by the dozens, I only have one uncle left.  He married one of my mother’s sisters and he loved her.  She didn’t make that easy.  She died many years ago.  He could have walked away from my crazy family, but didn’t.  Maybe he’s sad sometimes, but I think of him as upbeat and cheerful.  That’s the way he always is when I see him.  He’s also helpful.  He lives near my sister and he’s always been nice to her.  He’s a good man.  I wish I did share some of his genes.  His family is very long-lived and he is a remarkable physical specimen for a man of his age which is nearly 80.  I wish I was as physically active as this uncle and I’m nowhere near 80.

Why does he come up today?  It’s his birthday.When I was in grade school, he was a school bus driver and he used to tell the children on the bus that if they were good, he would take them to the circus for his birthday.  All but one of the kids looked forward to it.  I was the one who didn’t.  He was my uncle and I knew his birthday was April 1st, April Fools’ Day.  He never did take us to the circus.

Many years later, I was a Cubmaster and we were taking the tigers, bears and wolves to see the lions and elephants.  I ran into my uncle shortly before the Cub Pack’s trip to the circus and told him what we were doing.  Then I told him that he should really pay for the whole thing since he promised to take lots of kids to the circus over the years and never delivered.  He laughed.  He didn’t take the Cub Scouts to the circus either, but he thought it was funny that I remembered that as an adult.

Early in the life of this blog, I told you I remembered Leslie’s birthday because of humiliation.  I remember my uncle’s birthday because he didn’t take me to the circus.  Happy birthday Unk and Happy April Fools’ Day to everyone.