Things I Want (Or Need) To Know

  • With the imminent arrival of the Fourth of July, have you been to the beach yet?  I went today and the Atlantic off Long Island was much warmer than I expected it to be.

  • I don’t get Pippa Middleton.  I have nothing against her.  I recognize she’s attractive and understand that she and her family are wealthy, but why is she now a celebrity?

  • Come to think of it, why are Prince William, the Duchess of Cambridge (not Princess Catherine, not yet anyway) or any other member of the British royal family celebrities in the United States?  I know British royalty had celebrity status here hundreds of years ago, but didn’t we fight and win two wars with the British to get out from under the British royal family?

  • Why is Bristol Palin famous, and can we do anything about that?

  • Has Charlie Sheen calmed down, or are we now completely bored with him?

  • I wonder how many people who are now adults, but were raised with Cabbage Patch Kids, have the word “Xavier” tattooed somewhere on their bodies.

  • My daughter asked me the other day if you get hearing aids from sharing loud music with intravenous drug users.  She must get it from my wife, Saint Karen (who has to be a saint to put up with me), because I’m obviously completely normal.

Things I Know

  •  If you’re very good at paying your bills on time, make a mistake, and miss a payment, your credit card company may be willing to waive the interest and penalties if you ask nicely.  I just got that courtesy from one of my banks.  I don’t know how often you can do that because I’ve done it way less than once a year.
  • It’s not a good thing if the people at the auto body collision shop remember your name.

  • My daughter bought a Kindle and I downloaded the Kindle application for my PC.  I’ve used it to read a few books from the Guttenberg Project for free.  Kindles, Nooks and other e-readers, if successful, will put a big dent in the sale of book cases.  And that’s their biggest advantage.  You can store a lot of books in electronic form in a lot less space than paper requires.

  • There are a lot of e-books available for free, but most of them aren’t the kind I read.  I think most of the ones I do want to read are too expensive as e-books.  If I can buy a 500-page paperback book for $8.00, an e-book should cost less than that.  But a lot of e-books only cost a dollar or two less than the hard cover version.

  • The two biggest problems with electronic books:  books now require batteries or AC power; and if you like to read in the bathtub, as I do, it costs a lot more if you drop your e-reader in the tub than if you drown an $8.00 paperback book.

  • I read that romance novels are about the most popular kind of e-books because people can read them without the embarrassment of those lurid covers.  If that’s true, perhaps Barnes & Noble should rename its e-reader from Nook to Nookie.

  • The “Most Interesting Man in the World” commercials for Dos Equis beer are very clever.  Two of the traits of this man that particularly amuse me right now are:  both sides of his pillow are cool; and objects in his mirror appear exactly as they are.

  • We are about two months into a three-week remodeling project in my house.

  • An electrician who’s also a carpenter would do less structural damage than an electrician whos only an electrician, in an older house.  The electrician rewiring the second floor of my house carved up the attic floor with a reciprocating saw.  I asked him why he didn’t use a circular saw.  He said he had a reciprocating saw.

  • The floor in my attic is ¾ inch plywood covered by ¼ inch luan plywood.  No, I don’’t know why they did that.  The carpenter said if they had cut away a good section of the luan and then a narrower section of the ¾ inch plywood, they could have reused most of the flooring instead of having to buy more to patch it.

  • While drilling through a sill plate to snake wires, the electrician accidentally drilled a hole in my roof.  To his credit, he did tell me about it and said his company would pay to repair it.  If you install a new roof on your house, save a few extra shingles in case you need to repair it later.

  • I saved a few pieces of siding too, but I’m having a hard time storing the siding and may have to give that up.

  • I can’t begin to calculate how much money my wife has saved us over the years by refusing to buy either Coke or Pepsi unless they’re on sale.  Sometimes the sales are up to 50% off, and where I live, one or the other is  on sale every week.  

No Laffing Matter

The guy who murdered four people during a drugstore robbery in Medford, Long Island last Sunday, walked away, according to Newsday, with ten thousand addictive narcotic pain pills.  I gathered from what I read that these pills are oxycodone, hydrocodone or substances related to them.  In other words, they’re strong, highly addictive, narcotic pain killers that are popular among drug addicts and relatively expensive when purchased on the street by junkies.

Three days later, twenty Suffolk County police gathered outside a house, burst in and captured a suspect, David Laffer.  They also arrested his wife, Melina Brady.  Laffer had facial injuries when police brought him out of the house.  Police said he resisted arrest.  The crime was so heinous that if I were one of those cops, I would have prayed that he resisted arrest, so it’s probably good that I’m not a cop.  If they got the right people and it certainly looks like they did, then the Suffolk police force did an excellent job and deserves commendation.

News reports say Brady gave police useful information about the case.  As she was being transported from police headquarters, she told reporters that Laffer did it for her and she was sorry.  That certainly makes everything better, doesn’t it?

Let’s assume for a minute (and I don’t) that everything she said is true.  Then her husband killed four people while robbing a drug store of so many addictive pain killers than the two of them couldn’t use all of them themselves.  He did it for her and she threw him under the first bus that came along.  More than they can use themselves is important here because depending on what ten thousand stolen pills were and how strong, they could have what cops like to call a “street value” of over $100,000!

Who knew you could rob a drugstore of that much money?  Junkies!

Why would someone gun down four innocent people when they didn’t even resist the robbery attempt?  That’s a question I can’t answer.  It certainly didn’t help the apparent murderer evade capture.  In fact, four murders made tracking him down a much higher priority, and probably made nailing the guy happen a lot faster than it might have been if he’d stopped at robbery.

Things I Want (Or Need) To Know

  • Five days before their scheduled wedding, Playboy Magazine founder Hugh Hefner, 85, announced via Twitter that his fiancé, 25-year-old Crystal Harris had a change of heart and the wedding is off.  If those two crazy kids can’t make it, is there any hope for the rest of us?
  • Was the whole thing a publicity stunt?  She did back out when it was too late to change the July issue of Playboy which features her, semi-nude on the cover, as the new Mrs. Hefner (or so I’m told).  I read that the magazine now has a “Runaway Bride” sticker on the cover.

  • I didn’t tangle up my 100-foot-long outdoor extension cord before I put it back in the garage, so how come it was tangled when I got it out again?

  • If I did tangle it up before putting it away, would it be tangle-free when I needed to use it again?

  • Blinds to Go is a chain store that makes blinds and other window coverings to custom fit your windows.  I’ve bought a lot of things from them over the years.  I guess they don’t have appointments at Blinds to Go because while I’m punctual, not many other people are.  However, when dealing with Blinds to Go, the waiting time is horrendous so, couldn’t we at least call ahead to be put on the waiting list the way you can at Outback Steakhouse and a lot of other restaurants?

  • Why did Rep. Anthony Weiner hold a news conference to resign?  It was bound to be impossible to control.  He could have just sent a letter (which hadn’t been received as of noon the day after the news conference) or resigned on a Youtube video.

  • I don’t have Sirius or XM.  Did Howard Stern use any of the questions he sent an idiot member of his staff to that news conference to yell on camera on his show the day after?

  • Have you seen a map of New York’s ninth CD?  It would astound Elbridge Gerry!  And why would anyone want to run in a special election there, since it is rumored that the current ninth CD will be eliminated when they redistrict for the 2012 Congressional election?

  • Why is there confusion about Elbridge Gerry’s name?  He was a pretty famous guy:  gerrymandering was named after  him and he served as a member of the Continental Congress; delegate to the Constitutional Convention; signer of the Declaration of Independence; governor and U.S. Vice President, but I’ve also seen his first name spelled “Eldridge.”

Things I Know

  •  Crystal Harris, 25, and Playboy Magazine founder Hugh Hefner, 85, are no longer headed to the altar.  Hef tweeted that Crystal had a change of heart.  I would have thought Hef more likely to have a “change of heart” as in transplant.
  • The word “small” has 66-percent more letters than the word “big.”

  • If you waste any time at all browsing the Internet, you may have come across one or more of the websites purporting to be the last page of the Internet.  Some of them are funny, but I don’t think anyone has it right.  I believe that if anyone does reach the real last page of the Internet, the results will be similar to the ending of Arthur C. Clarke’s Hugo Award-winning short story, “The Nine Billion Names of God,” which ends, “Overhead, without any fuss, the stars were going out.”

  • If you haven’t read this classic Clarke story, look it up.  The entire text is available on line.  You’ll probably love the ending.   He wasn’t kidding when he called it a “short story:”  It really is very short.  And the story is almost 60-years old, so a little historical perspective is needed.  When it was written, taking a computer to a monastery in Tibet involved enormously more work than stuffing it in your backpack and hopping a jet.

  • Rep. Anthony Weiner hasn’t gone away yet, but I’m still hoping.  On Sunday, new pictures were (okay, I can’t resist a bad pun and there really isn’t any point in any other kind) uncovered.  They depict a partially clothed Rep. Weiner standing in the House gym, grabbing his crotch.  Perhaps, in those pictures he’s expressing a desire to become a big league baseball player.

Things I Know

  • It disturbs me when someone defends a public figure’s actions based on whether they agree with that public figure politically.  Some things are morally wrong and some things are factually incorrect, whether you are liberal or conservative.
  • House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee chair Steve Israel and Democratic National Committee chair Debbie Wasserman-Schultz all released statements (within minutes of each other on Saturday) exhorting Rep. Anthony Weiner to resign.   The statements came after Weiner announced he was asking for a leave from Congress to get treatment for his Internet escapades.  Said escapades have been so widely reported, I have no need to repeat them again.  I have no personal knowledge of these events, but I suspect Weiner decided to seek treatment after he learned that the statements from House Democratic leaders were coming.
  • I served on Congressional staff for five years and I’ve never heard of a formal leave of absence from Congress.  There might, however, be such a thing.  I served there a long time ago.
  • I read a lot of science fiction and alternate history.  I like far fewer movies and TV shows in those genres than I do books.  However, I just saw “The Man from Earth,” written by Jerome Bixby.  I wasn’t familiar with this movie or his books, but I liked the movie and I’m going to become familiar with his books.  The movie is anything but action-packed; in fact it’s basically a conversation lasting an hour and a half.  It’s a movie that works if you buy into the premise.  There are holes in the script’s logic and devout Christians may very well find it offensive, but I found it thought provoking and I’m going back to the Netflix website to give it three or four stars out of five.
  • June is when fresh strawberries abound.  That reminds me that when my son was a very small child, he knew that food grew on farms or in gardens and he had heard New Jersey called the “Garden State.”  He decided that when he grew up, he wanted to be a farmer in New Jersey.  I asked him what he would grow and he said “strawberry ice cream;” he became a lawyer instead.  If he had developed a plant that grew strawberry ice cream, you can bet I’d have lots of them growing in my garden right now.

Things I Want (Or Need) To Know

  •  Do you think that if Rep. Anthony Weiner had covered himself everyone else wouldn’t be covering him?
  • When Sarah Palin made her idiotic statement about Paul Revere warning the British, did anyone consider that perhaps she had confused Revere with Mark Lindsay?  That used to happen a lot as I recall.

  • Does it disturb you (as it does me) that you see gasoline below $4.00 a gallon as a hopeful sign for the economy?

  • Perhaps Harold Camping was right after all.  Do you think the Rapture might actually have happened last month, but that too few people were faithful enough to go directly to heaven, so nobody noticed?

  • There’s a new TV show called “My Big Fat Gypsy Wedding.”  It bills itself as looking at the secret world of gypsies.  But how secret can it be if it’s on TV?

Things I Know

  • I’m not catching up with the Times, the Times is catching up with me.  The NY Times recently reported that blister packs or clam-shell packaging is going out of favor because it wastes oil.  I suggested this should happen in this very blog  almost three years ago.

  • Yes, there is someone who enjoys the 90+ weather we’ve had the last two days:  me!  I have arthritis and I don’t ache as much in warm weather.  I call this warm rather than hot because I have been to the central valley of California.

  • I took advantage of the weather and went to the beach.  The water was cold and full of seaweed.  Several kinds of gulls were on hand, but the rest of the sea birds haven’t turned up yet.  Or maybe they haven’t terned up yet.

  • “When I throw rocks at sea birds, I leave no tern unstoned.”  Ogden Nash.

  • If I were in charge of the beach I go to, I’d build a bench or two where the boardwalk meets the sand, so you could sit down and brush the sand off your feet before donning your sandals.  That way, the combination of sand and sandal straps wouldn’t irritate your feet and you wouldn’t risk splinters by going barefoot on the boardwalk.

  • To me, the taller and thinner a young woman is the more flattering a bikini looks on her.  That surprises me a little since all other things being equal I find petite women the prettiest.

  • I don’t care for tattoos at all, but judging from today’s sample at the beach a lot of young women do.  In fact, I believe I saw more tattoos on women than I did on men this afternoon.

  • I don’t want to rush from here to August, but I did plant tomatoes in my garden.

  • I never want to rush past June because of fresh strawberries.  I bought three pounds yesterday.

  • I hereby declare my pea crop for this year a failure.  I sowed 36 plants.  Three came up and bugs got them.

  • Twenty people in a workplace pool recently won over $200 million in the Powerball lottery.  If you take the cash instead of the annuity and pay all the taxes, you net about a quarter of what the lottery says the jackpot is.  Therefore 20 people won $50 million or so, net after taxes.  In other words, they won $2.5 million apiece.  If some of the winners are relatively young, they can’t stop working.  At today’s interest rates, the younger ones shouldn’t even do anything extravagant.

  • So you won $2.5-million and people think you won $200-million.  Still, if it happened to me, I wouldn’t let it ruin my day.

  • This does demonstrate that you should join any office lottery pool.  In the extremely unlikely event that your coworkers win, you don’t want to be the only one left on the job.

  • Sixteen-year-old Eduardo Vanegas-Fuentes fell into a cesspool in Farmingville NY recently.  His friend, Edgar Calderon-Castro, 19, bravely, futilely and fatally jumped in to try to save him.  You probably can’t rescue someone from a cesspool without special equipment.  Here’s why.  In addition to being filled with exactly what you think it’s filled with, a cesspool almost certainly contains a high level of methane gas.  You can’t breathe methane.  So, even if you can swim and think you can save your friend, tragedy for two is a likely result as it was in this case. 

Weiner’s Wiener Redux

First, and to be totally honest, I need to issue a clarification.  There was once a photograph (the old kind on film) of me in my underwear.  It wasn’t a close up of my crotch, so I stand by my original statement and I doubt very seriously that the picture still exists.  In fact, it may not exist by unanimous request of those few people who saw it.  The photo in question was snapped years ago, during an Army field exercise.  I was stripped down to my underwear while being put through a situation designed to give young soldiers a little taste of what being a prisoner of war would be like.  I thought then and still believe that being a prisoner of war for real is a lot more unpleasant than that exercise was.

If you remember, a few days ago, I advised Congressman Weiner to tell the truth, or a plausible story that couldn’t be proven false.  When I did that, the story I suggested allowed for unseemly pictures of him and while I didn’t insist that he sent the picture in question, his actions to that point convinced me the picture was of him and I allowed that he could have sent it as well. 

Now, of course, there are two questions:  “What?” and, “Was he thinking?” The dance marathon Rep. Weiner engaged in while skirting the question of whose picture was it, does make the story he told on Monday, June 6, completely believable.  So, whether he ever learned of my advice he is now following it, even though he’s following it way too late.

As for Mr. Weiner’s likability affecting the eventual outcome, well, House Democratic Leader Nancy Pelosi did call for an investigation by the House Ethics committee.  I’ll leave it to you to form your own opinion as to whether “House Ethics Committee” is an oxymoron.

I’m pretty sure I would never vote for a candidate for Congress if I knew in advance that he or she was that stupid.  And kids, if you’re reading this and thinking of adults in your life who have told you that sexting is bad, let this be a lesson to you:  If you do engage in sexting, it can turn out badly.  And, once more with feeling, what you put on the Internet may be personal, but it isn’t private.

Weiner’s Wiener

Yeah, I had to comment on this, but at least I spelled Weiner right, and wiener too.

It appears to me Congressman Anthony Weiner is ignoring any advice he’s receiving with respect to crisis-management PR.  Either that or he’’ doing just the opposite of what he’’ been advised to do just because he likes to be contrary.  He’ clearly made matters a lot worse by handling it about as badly as possible.

I don’’ believe the chick who received the now famous crotch shot is his mistress.  If I had a mistress, I know I wouldn’t want her to be 3,000-miles away.

On the other hand, I do know, with certitude, whether there are any crotch shots of me in existence (there are none).  Furthermore, I would expect a US Congressman to keep better track of that sort of thing than I do.  So, Congressman Weiner’s behavior has made me think the picture of a cotton-covered bulge is of Congressman Weiner’s wiener.  By the way, his PR people didn’t advise him to use the word “certitude.”  If they thought about it, they advised him not to.

I’d say “on the other hand” again, but I don‘t have three hands.  I have no idea whether he posted the picture on twitter, but he could have.  Congressmen, especially New York Congressmen do strange things sometimes.  I give you Rep. Lee and Rep. Massa as examples.

If I were Rep. Weiner I would have gone with the truth, or a plausible story that could not be proven false, gotten it all out at once in hopes the story would only last through one news cycle, apologized for what I did, what I didn’t do as well, and then attempted to move on.  I’d say something like, “Hey, I was a single man until I married last year at age 45.  There could be inappropriate pictures of me floating around.  I don’t know, but if there are, I regret them.  I didn’t send the picture in question; my Twitter account was hacked.  I’m turning the whole matter over to the appropriate law enforcement authorities.  And, while I didn’t send the picture, I do apologize for all the commotion it has caused.”  

Bill Clinton survived in large part because he’s likeable.  Eliot Spitzer didn’t survive because he’s not likable and his public persona made what he did seem extra hypocritical.  Weiner is closer to Spitzer than to Clinton on the likable scale.  But he is a Democrat, and Democrats are much less likely to resign over something like this than Republicans are, because Republicans generally seem more hypocritical to their constituents when they eschew family values.

Only time will tell whether Congressman Weiner is kicked out of THE House or his house, or which one happens first.  But if either of those things happens you’ll hear about it on the 24-hour Weiner’s wiener cable TV channel.

And I haven’t called this Weinergate because I’m really sick of adding “gate” to the end of words to create a “clever” name for a scandal.  A lot of adults don’t know anything about Watergate because it happened before they were born.