Things I Know

  • So Duke Snider died Sunday The Dodgers left Brooklyn so long ago and Duke lived to be 84, so very few people in this area cared very much.  And Newsday published a picture of the Duke, batting right handed for God’’s sake!
  • How has baseball changed?  Duke was #8 on the all-time homerun list when he retired, with 407.  He would have hit for more, but when the Dodgers moved to LA they played in the Coliseum which was 425 to center and 440 to right center.  The Duke wasn’’t a dead pull hitter, but even down the line in right, it was 395. 
  • Tuesday, March 1, is National Pancake Day, in honor of which IHOP is giving away a free short stack between 7 and 10 AM at participating restaurants.  But they are asking people to contribute some money to a worthy charity they’’ve designated.   Check a local IHOP for details.
  • #1 son has arrived safely in Shanghai China, found the studio apartment he rented, and started work on Monday morning.  He reports that the car horn is the official noise of the city.  Shanghai is ten hours ahead of where he lives, so he’s pretty jet lagged right now.  I understand that plum blossoms are considered very pretty in China in the spring; prune blossoms, not so much. 
  • Prunes, by the way, are among my very favorite foods.  This can be either a blessing or a curse, but never both at the same time.
  • In the news recently, there was a heart-warming story of an 82-year-old woman from Memphis TN, Jean Wilson, who had a pizza delivered to her home every day.  Ms. Wilson lived alone; she fell in her home, and couldn’’t help herself for three days.  She was rescued by a Domino’s Pizza delivery driver, because she ordered from Domino’s every day for three years, and the driver became concerned when she stopped.  My daughter works in a government office.  One of the clients there is an elderly woman who goes to church every day.  If that lady doesn’’t show up at church for any reason, the pastor goes to visit her.  So you could eat a more varied, and balanced diet than Ms. Wilson has, yet still have someone watching your back.
  • I doubt that anyone influential in US military policy or foreign policy on the east coast of Africa reads this blog.  However, in case someone does, please Google the following phrase:  “”Stephen Decatur, Jr.””  That should be all the guidance American foreign policy requires with regard to Somali pirates.
  • They had a mullet toss over the weekend in Matlacha Fl.  The fish, not the haircut.

Things I Want (Or Need) To Know

  • Today is the third anniversary of the Sisyphus Project.  As I stated at the beginning, I’’m doing this to entertain myself:  So far, so good.  After three years (and without making any effort to analyze what’’s most popular and why, or to promote the thing), I get between four and five thousand hits a month.  I’’m aware that figure doesn’’t mean four to five thousand individual readers.  During that time, as far as I know I’’ve been linked in one other blog and I’’ve attracted two commenters.  One of the commenters is an old college buddy, and fellow blogger.  So, if you haven’’t chosen to comment in the past, why are you reading it?
  • If four Americans were murdered by Somali pirates, why were only two Somali pirates killed when the Navy boarded the captured yacht?
  • Why do we say, “Going to hell in a hand basket?””  The prevailing theory is that they used hand baskets to carry the heads of people executed by guillotine.  But a hand basket doesn’t seem like an effective way to get anyplace to me.
  • February 18th was National Drink Wine Day.  Just February 18th?
  • Did you know there’’s now an iPhone app to tell you where to buy Girl Scout Cookies?  That answers my recent question about how retired and jobless people can get their fix of Girl Scout Cookies.
  • The New York City Health Department has developed an app for iPhones and Androids.  The app tells the user where to go to get a free condom.  If you can afford a smart phone, why can’’t you do your part to reduce government spending and buy your own damned condoms?
  • Were you surprised to learn there’’s also a phone app for Catholics to help them with confession?  As I understand it, the app doesn’’t grant absolution, but it’’s supposed to help you keep track of your sins.  Keeping track of your sins seems a little obsessive-compulsive to me.  How does it strike you?
  • If the word “Google” is used as a verb, should it still be capitalized?

Things I Know

  • You never see Charlie Chan movies anymore.  These are movies and before that books about a fictional, inscrutable Chinese-Hawaiian detective.  First, the movies are very old now and viewed in today’’s climate of awareness, their stereotype of Mr. Chan is no doubt offensive to many, many people.  I’’m reminded of them today because Chan referred to his oldest son as “#1 son,” and my #1 son leaves in the morning on a three-month internship for his Master’’s Degree in International Law.  Where’’s he going?  Shanghai, China. 
  • I preferred when Washington’’s and Lincoln’’s birthdays (except of course when I lived in Richmond VA where Lincoln’’s birthday wasn’’t celebrated) were observed to the current practice of a generic “President’s’ Day.”  In the first place, I’’d much rather have a three-day weekend in August than in February.  Additionally, on generic President’s’ Day, someone might celebrate William Henry Harrison, Warren G. Harding, Chester A. Arthur, Millard Fillmore, Andrew Johnson or U.S. Grant (as President, not as an army general) by mistake.  I may have left someone out, but my list isn’t designed to be all-inclusive.
  •  Arianna Huffington was paid something like $315 million by AOL for her Huffington Post website.  Many of the blogs on that website are written by bloggers who are not paid for their efforts.  I bet they’’re thrilled.
  • I hereby suggest that the NY Mets move the TV broadcasts of their games this year to the Oprah Winfrey Network.  Why?  The Mets stand a chance of becoming a win-free team this year.
  • Along the roads I normally drive, the last cars blocked in by the post-Christmas snow storm have finally melted out of their winter cocoons.  We did have more snow today and there’’s more scheduled overnight tonight too.
  • One of my thumb drives survived a trip through the washer and drier, but I don’’t think I’’ll try it again.
  • Natalie Munroe, a teacher in Bucks County PA, has been suspended and new reports suggest she’ll probably be fired because she wrote a blog called “Natalie’’s Hand Basket,” in which she complained about the students she taught.  But, she wrote it anonymously and she didn’t identify the students by name either.  However, and I can’’t stress this too much, people:  Anything you put on the Internet is public.  

Things I Know

  • Pitchers, and catchers are reporting all over Arizona, and all over Florida this week.  Spring training is here and spring is nigh.  Check your local listings for time and station.  The first game I’’m interested in is February 26th.  The games don’’t count, but you have to watch or listen, because baseball causes warm weather, and the broadcasts help the warm work its way north.
  • The latest Easter Sunday can possibly be is April 25th.  This year, it’’s the 24th.  So you still have some time to renew your license and get your equipment in order before Easter-Bunny hunting season starts.
  • Thirty days have September, April, June and November.  All the rest have 31 except February which has 417 or in leap year, 418.
  • When people retire, resign, or otherwise leave certain categories of job, they often say they are doing so to spend more time with their families.  I have learned that spending more time with your family is overrated.  My wife told me it is.
  • Let’’s see, we have Lincoln’’s Birthday, Valentine’’s Day, Washington’’s Birthday (both of them) and President’s’ Day.  I’’d gladly give up one or more February holiday in exchange for one in August.  In fact, I’’d gladly give up February in exchange for pretty much nothing at all.
  • Google isn’’t omnipresent yet.  In the short while I’’ve been using the Chrome Internet browser, I’’ve found a handful of sites that are incompatible with it.

Things I Want (Or Need) To Know

  • Who won the puppy bowl?
  • More importantly, who won the lingerie bowl?  I mean it was all over the news who won the Super Bowl, but the outcomes of the other two contests got no coverage at all.
  • I’’m listed on Linked In, which is a social network for business contacts.  The site has been guessing at people I might know, based on the information I’ve given it, and apparently based on information I haven’’t given it too.  I have no idea how it makes these guesses.  I’’d like to know.  It even suggested last week that I might know a woman I met yesterday.
  • How much money can the people who make Eskimo Pies and Klondike Bars possibly be saving by omitting the stick?
  • Why doesn’’t the pop-up blocker on my computer work on newspaper websites?
  • I’’m cleaning up my basement.  Do you think it’’s alright for me to throw away my installation floppies for Windows 95?
  • How desperate for circulation are newspapers?  I bought a one-year, pre-paid home delivery subscription to the NY Daily News today for $52.  The newsstand price is $4.50 a week.
  • During a recent job interview, my cell phone fell off my belt.  New cell phone, new case, new clip, but still, it isn’’t the first time it’’s happened.  Does anyone make a good system for clipping your cell phone to your belt?  I’’d keep it in my pocket, but I have enough snapshots and videos of the inside of my pocket.

Things I Know

  • It was cold enough the other day that I found myself wishing there was something called “longer johns” which would, of course, be warmer than long johns.
  • Facebook keeps telling me that two of my friends in particular have used its friend finder to locate people they know on Facebook.  First, there’’s no way I’’m going to turn Facebook loose on everyone in my e-mail list and second, one of the two friends Facebook is touting as actively using friend finder is also actively dead.
  • I’’m teaching a class soon.  To that end, I would buy a package of 4 x 6 file cards for my notes.  However, my local office supply store, “Paper Fasteners,” sells 4 x 6 file cards five packages of 100 wrapped together in one package of 500 and I don’t think I’’ll use 500 file cards during the rest of my life.
  • If you do use file cards to keep your notes, number the cards in case you drop them.
  • No matter what baseball team you root for, pitchers and catchers take the field one day next week.
  • Mets Spring Training games televised on SNY this year will be broadcast in HD.  Unfortunately, this year’’s Mets will still be playing in them.
  • In case you’’ve ever wondered why there’s a South Oyster Bay Road in Syosset and Plainview New York, but no Oyster Bay Road or North Oyster Bay Road, here’s the answer.  Many, many years ago, what’’s now Jackson Avenue in Syosset was called Oyster Bay Road.  I don’’t know when it changed or who the road is now named after, but that’s my story, and I’’m sticking to it.

Things I Know

  • It’’s Super Bowl Sunday, so I have to remind you of the following; please don’’t tell your daughters that all men are interested in only one thing.  It isn’’t true!  A very few of us don’’t give a dam about football.
  • I installed the Google Chrome Internet browser.  It’’s a lot faster than Internet Explorer.  It’’s a little different too.  One of the differences is I have to remember the sign-ons for any web sites that had cookies in my other browser.
  • A lot of people think some of software features, and code that developers have patented are silly, and I do too.  One example:  what are called “favorites” in IE are “bookmarks” in Chrome and a couple of other browsers I’’ve used too.  I can deal with that.  But the bookmarks are in the upper right hand corner of the screen and I’’m having trouble adjusting to that.
  • BTW, I think calling the new browser “Chrome” is very misleading.  It is neither shiny nor yellow!
  • My wife has ordered five boxes of Girl Scout cookies.  They ought to last a day or two.
  • It was Conan O’’Brien who recommended that if the government of Egypt wants people to stay home, and not do anything, Egypt should turn the Internet back on.
  • I keep hearing about the Muslim Brotherhood in connection with the current unrest in Egypt.  For some reason, anything called a “brotherhood” sounds sinister to me, probably because I read the comic strip ““The Phantom”” as a kid and the Phantom was always beset by the Singh Brotherhood, which was a fictitious, evil crime syndicate.

NIFA

Nassau County, NY, is a place where a lot of people have a lot of money.  It’’s one of the wealthiest counties in the United States.  Nassau County government spends a lot of money, so much, that it has gotten in financial trouble in the past.  This resulted in creation of the Nassau Interim Finance Authority.  Last week, the NIFA board voted 6-0 to take control of Nassau County’’s finances, as required by state law if its budget deficit exceeds one percent. 

A budget is out of balance if revenues exceed expenses or if expenses exceed revenues.  In the first case, the people who created the budget are happy.  They have money left over at the end of the year.  In the later case, they have year left over at the end of the money, and to quote Rocket J. Squirrel, “That trick never works!”

NIFA says Nassau’’s new budget is a case of the second case.  The people who serve on NIFA’’s board have pretty strong financial credentials.  You are qualified to render an opinion on the budget:  It’’s a free country, and we have freedom of speech here.  The NIFA people are qualified to render an opinion too, and unlike most people, they know what they’’re talking about.

I know what I’’m talking about too.  My first exposure to municipal budgets came when a radio news director who was about to hire me gave me a municipal budget the size of the Manhattan telephone  book, and asked me to write a 40-second story about it.  The test was designed to find out if I knew that a 40-second story was about ten lines of copy, that a budget has a summary page, and a budget message.  That’’s where you look first to find out how much taxes are going to go up.  Do they ever go down?

Later, I made municipal budgets for a while, and analyzed them for a bigger while.  I once interviewed for the position of Nassau County Budget Director, but didn’’t get the job.  I’’ve never created a budget as big as Nassau County’’s, but any budget input I’’ve ever seen from an elected official wanted to pump up revenue projections, and minimize predictions of expenditures.  The website thinkgeek.com sells a t-shirt that says, ““2+2=5 for extremely large values of 2.””  That seems to be the mantra of many elected officials who direct preparation of municipal budgets.

NIFA has given Nassau County Executive Ed Mangano until February 15th to come up with a plan to handle the deficit.  Mangano has said he’’ll sue to keep NIFA from controlling the County.  The Long Island newspaper Newsday has reported that Mangano might need NIFA approval to hire a lawyer to do that.

So, is Nassau County’’s budget out of balance?  NIFA says it is; Mangano says it isn’’t.  Each has a vested interest, no doubt about that.  Let me be clear that I have not reviewed Nassau’s current budget.  Still, my educated, but uninformed opinion is that it’’s much more likely to be unbalanced than balanced.  Who’’s responsible, the current Republican administration, the previous Democratic administration, or the Republicans who were in power before that?  The answer is a simple yes.  Elected officials of both parties in Nassau County have been giving away the store for so long, I can’’t imagine there’’s any store left.