Thanks

On this great American holiday, Black Friday Eve, what are you thankful for this year? I’’d really like to know.

Here are a few of the things I’’m thankful for.

My son started a new job and I’’m thankful for that: So is his mother and so is he. That’’s as it should be. Everyone should have parents who wish them nothing but the best. I had one of those; my wife and my kids were fortunate enough to have two.

The son also earned an LLM degree last May and his mother and I got to go to California and see it.

Our son traveled to China to pursue that degree and our daughter went to China to visit him, so they both got to see more of the world than my wife and I have. Good for them.

Not only am I older than my father ever was, but now, my sister is too. We’’ve both lived longer than he did. After all these years, I still miss him more than I would have thought if I had ever thought about that before he died. I really wish that he could have known his grandchildren and that they could have known him.

I’’m thankful that one of his grandchildren, my niece, is graduating from Cornell in December. It’’s a great school and graduating is a tremendous achievement and something that I didn’’t achieve when I had the opportunity. Cornell would have taken me back when I got out of the Army, but by then I knew I wanted to marry Saint Karen (she has to be a saint to put up with me) and everyone I knew at college had graduated. So, I went to work instead and graduated from a different, and lesser college, later.

I’’m thankful that Saint Karen does still put up with me after all this time. I have never done anything smarter than marrying her and there’’s very little chance I ever will do anything smarter. In fact, I’’m a lot more likely to win a big lottery than I am to do something smarter than marrying Saint Karen. I’’m thankful that doesn’’t bother me at all.

Thanks to my son, who contacted him a couple of months ago, I’’ve reconnected with another old friend from college. The next time we’’re in California, or next June when we are both supposed to attend a reunion in Ithaca NY, we’’ll probably get to see each other and I’’m looking forward to that.

I’’m thankful that we can still afford some of life’’s little luxuries. I bought my wife a new TV and myself a new telephoto lens this year. With that lens, maybe I can get better pictures of my niece’’s graduation than I did of my son’’s most recent one.

I’m thankful for the pumpkin pie baking in the oven and the wonderful aroma that causes throughout the house. And that aroma makes it difficult for me to continue to think about what else I’m thankful for although I’m sure there’s a lot more. And the fact that there is a lot more to be thankful for–I’m thankful for that too.

Things I Know

Since Thanksgiving is only two days away, as a public service, I’’m republishing my recipe for roast turkey. Clean, wash and season the bird as usual. Stuff it with unpopped popcorn. Put the bird in the oven at 350 degrees. Baste every fifteen minutes with Wild Turkey bourbon. When the bird blows up, throw it away and drink the gravy.

Here’’s how I hung a shelf that has those keyhole things on the back to hang over screws driven into the walls. If the walls are made of wall board, you have to drive the screws into the studs or use wall anchors. I drew a level line on the wall with a pencil where the shelf goes and on that line, I put a mark showing where the center of the shelf will go. I put a wide piece of masking tape on the back of the shelf, covering the keyhole slots. I put a mark on the tape at the center of the shelf. I punched small holes in the masking tape where the screw heads go into the keyholes. Then, I removed the tape and put it on the wall along the level line with the center mark on the tape aligned with the center mark on the wall. I put screws through the holes, then after testing for fit, I tore off the tape and hung the shelf. You can’’t see the pencil lines I drew because they’’re behind the shelf. If you would see the pencil line, put masking tape on the wall and draw the lines on it, then remove it when you’re done. I do it that way because the holes that go over the screw heads tend not to be at an easy to measure distance from each other. On the shelf I measured today, the holes are 23 and 7/16 inches apart. If I made shelves to he hung over those keyhole things, I’’d put the keyhole things on 16 inch or 24 inch centers, so you could hang them on the studs.

Most people hang pictures too high on the wall. Having learned that lesson, I usually hang pictures half way between my eye level (I’’m tall) and my wife’s eye level (she’’s short). It works for us. However, if you hang a picture directly over the sofa, make sure you hang it high enough so nobody will hit their head on it. Unless you have really tall friends or an extremely tall couch, hanging the picture so the bottom of the frame is four feet from the floor ought to be plenty high enough. You might even be able to go a few inches lower than that.

I’’m so happy. I thought I had left the proprietary battery charger for my DSLR camera in some hotel room and was about to buy another, but before I did, I made one more sweep through the house and found it. The brand-name charger costs around $60.00 and while there are off-brand chargers that are much cheaper, the reviews say they are inferior.

I also ordered a new telephoto lens for my DSLR camera, although it hasn’’t come yet. It’’s a good thing the new lens has image stabilization because a 250 mm lens on a cropped-sensor digital camera is equivalent to a focal length of over 400 mm on a 35 mm film camera. That’’s a really long lens to try to hand hold. So, without image stabilization, you’’d either have to use a very fast shutter speed or a tripod to get pictures that aren’’t blurry.

Amazon.com comes up with some interesting suggestions of things for you to buy based on what you’’ve already bought from them. But their system isn’’t perfect. First, they sometimes recommend the same thing more than once. Second, they recommend something based on what you bought from Amazon and you don’’t need those things because you already bought them. One example: I bought my daughter a point-and-shoot camera before she went to China. Since then, Amazon has recommended a lot of point-and-shoot cameras. Third, I already know I want the things on my wish list; Amazon doesn’’t have to recommend those to me. And fourth, they tend to go overboard, especially on music, DVD’s and books. If I bought the Bear Family CD box set for a particular artist, they might recommend everything else the artist ever recorded. But if I bought the Bear Family boxed set, I already have everything they ever recorded. Bear Family CD collections are the most complete collections in the universe. Yesterday, I made the mistake of telling Amazon that I owned a couple of books they suggested by sci-fi legend Robert A. Heinlein. Today, they recommended I buy everything else by him. I did that, years ago. I have read everything I’’m aware of that he ever wrote.

I don’’t recommend wearing any kind of pants with text on the posterior. Especially avoid the word “ultimate.” Last week at the gym I saw a woman who wore pants that dubbed her glutes, ““Ultimate Style.”” In the first place, you’’re not ever going to be in a position to tell if your glutes are ultimate. That’’s up to someone standing or walking behind you to both observe and judge. In the second place, hers weren’’t. Mine aren’’t either and never will be. To be fair to her, she was exercising a lot harder than I was in order to try to reach ultimate style status.

I found a site that’’s supposed to tell you of other, similar sites. It’’s www.siteslike.com. I tried it on my blog and while I didn’’t go through all 595 it suggested, I found the few I did check baffling. I think it checks only for key words or key phrases.

I wear eye glasses. I’’m not crazy about them, but I don’’t see well and do get headaches if I don’’t wear them, so I do. Similarly, I see more doctors and take more medicine than I’’d really like to. I’m not crazy about that either. Whenever I go to a doctor, I bring a typewritten list of medicines. The list also helps me track changes in my meds since I save those lists on my computer. The doctor I went to this week has been accepting the lists for 15 years, but now he wants the list handwritten on a form of his design. He told me he couldn’’t read something I’’d written. I didn’’t snap back that nobody wanted the typed list.

You’’ve got to admit there’s a certain irony in a doctor complaining that he can’’t read your handwriting.

The doctor I went to this week also has a new form that asks, among other things, for your race. I didn’’t fill that in. The secretary who reviewed the form asked me if I wanted to. I said no for three reasons. First, it’’s nobody’s business what race I am. Second, they have choices on the form that aren’’t races: European isn’’t a race. And third, I have lots of freckles and polka dotted isn’’t a choice.

Things I Know

If you’’re looking for an extravagant Christmas gift for that special someone, I suggest a couple of pounds of lamb chops or veal cutlets. They’’re extravagant enough that you would hardly buy them for yourself, but as a gift, it’’s under $50, so not too bad. Of course, you can’’t mail them to someone overseas, but you could gift wrap them and take them to someone, telling them to either open them right away or put the package in the freezer until they are ready to open the gift.

I know it got good reviews on Amazon.com and average reviews on IMDB.com, but I hate the made-for-TV movie ““Single Santa Seeking Mrs. Claus.:” The plot is thin, and the lead actors, Steve Guttenberg, and Crystal Bernard, while good in other roles are horribly miscast in this story. Since the Hallmark Channel on cable is rushing the season a little, and running a lot of Christmas movies this weekend, I checked, and the good news for me is that this movie doesn’’t appear to be scheduled anywhere on broadcast or cable TV this Christmas season.

A Christmas movie I do like, ““Love Actually,”” is on the ABC Family Channel next weekend.

So, I was watching a TV documentary about the Roman invasion of Britain when the commercial break came up and on came an infomercial. Attention TV execs: When you do that, I change the channel and don’’t change it back.

Deep fried turkey was a fad a few years ago. If you’’re a little late on fads, look for some fried turkey video before you give it a shot. State Farm Insurance produced a couple of videos with William Shatner and there are a couple of videos on line from Alton Brown of the Food Network too. Brown goes so far as to rig a makeshift crane to lower the bird into the oil. Shatner, who has a good sense of humor about himself, takes the self-immolation route. If you deep fry a turkey wrong, there’’s a good chance you’’ll burn yourself or your house down.

I bought a couple of pairs of jeans today. I’’m at an awkward stage: I’’m losing weight and between sizes, but since the smaller size is still too small, I bought the larger ones. It’’s getting too close to my birthday and to Christmas for me to be buying myself a lot of other stuff.

Please contact your congressman civilly and ask him or her to oppose HR 3035. It’’s a bill that would allow people and companies to make a lot more annoying calls to your cell phone, including a lot more robocalls. If my congressman or anyone else’s congressman reads this, for what it’’s worth, I’’m against it and if it passes, I’’ll only be giving people my Google Voice number. My Google Voice account is already set to go directly to voicemail and then email me about it. I just won’’t respond to the emails from the robocalls.

I received a travel brochure for a 10-day trip to Ireland from a group affiliated with a college I once attended. It sounds lovely, but including airfare and incidentals, I figure it would cost around $8,000 and I don’’t want to spend that kind of money on a vacation unless, of course, I win the lottery.

Here’’s my latest idea for a good invention: a remote trouble sensor (blue tooth or wi-fi) for bottle deposit machines. The supermarket where I take most of my deposit bottles has machines that fill up with crushed bottles or just break too frequently. When it happens, I have to go into the market, find the person who takes care of that, and go back outside, frequently to the end of the line. It makes the three or four dollars I get from taking the bottles back totally not worth my time. A remote could be placed in the store where the person who’’s responsible could see it and respond appropriately.

Things I Want (Or Need) To Know

Why did my endocrinologist’s office call me yesterday and again today to remind me of my appointment with him next week? After all, I’m not the one who has been late for any of the appointments, so I’m not the one who needs reminding. To be fair to him though, he still isn’t good, but he has gotten better at appointments in the past two years or so.

What did people use to distract cranky babies before we had car keys? And what are we going to use once proximity starting fobs become widespread?

Would the dog like it if I licked its face?

Don’’t you wonder why outlook and look out don’’t mean the same thing? Especially after what Yoda did to grammar.

The most recent chapter in the Lindsay Lohan story is that she was released from her 30-day jail sentence in a few hours because of prison overcrowding. After all the times she’s been slapped on the wrist, can she possibly have any respect whatsoever for our legal system? Hell, she’’s been slapped on the wrist so often that she must think someone’s trying to find a vein and give her a blood test.

What’’s the difference between Lindsay Lohan and Rick Perry? According to Jay Leno on the Tonight Show, Lohan can finish a sentence in four-and-a-half hours.

If the world is my oyster, am I the oyster’s world too?

Things I Know

If you’’ve read this blog for any time at all, you know I don’’t curse much. However, if you are the Jerry Sandusky who is the former defensive coordinator for Penn State football, and if you did what you are accused of doing to young boys, you are a sack of shit. If you did it because you are mentally ill, you are a sick sack of shit. If you are one of the university officials accused of perjury to cover these reprehensible deeds, and you did that, you are a lying sack of shit.

I may have to reconsider what I just said because it wasn’’t a very nice thing to say about shit.

I never thought I’’d say it, but hooray for Star Jones. On Today this morning, she criticized the graduate assistant who allegedly saw Sandusky raping a young boy and didn’’t do anything, but tell his boss. She’’s the first person on TV or radio I’’ve heard criticize that man’s actions, and the question she asked is exactly what I’’ve been wondering.

I’’d like to spend part of the winter in Florida. As I’’ve said before, I don’’t like to be cold. So, I’’ve been looking on line for vacation rentals, and becoming frustrated by the lack of pertinent information. I know about the communities I’’d like to visit or I can find out about them easily enough. I want to know about the property itself. Tell me where the property is located, what size the beds are, how many TV’s and what level of cable service, whether there’’s Internet service, whether there’’s a pool, and hot tub. A lot of that information isn’’t provided consistently. I want to see the property too, but don’’t put pictures on the website if the pictures are years old, and they say so. I saw one place with pictures dated 2004. Fail!

I went to college with a guy I know is a real estate broker in southwest Florida. Maybe I’’ll call, and ask him for advice even though we haven’’t kept in touch.

Hearing that Michelle Duggar is pregnant with her 20th child reminds me of the old nursery rhyme that I believe was first told by comedian Andrew Dice Clay:

There was an old woman
Who lived in a shoe
She had so many children
Her uterus fell out.

Things I Know

Happy birthday Chevrolet. The company was formed on November 3, 1911, so it’’s 100 years old now.

I’’m not a big college football fan, but as far as I’’m concerned the college national championship game (I know there isn’’t one) will be played in Tuscaloosa Alabama this Saturday. And while I’’m not going to be on the edge of my seat, enough members of my family went to Alabama that I hereby say, “Roll Tide.”

We celebrated our wedding anniversary recently. The day before, my wife, Saint Karen (She has to be a saint to put up with me) made my favorite meal which is Swiss steak prepared according to her recipe. The next leftover night I had the last of the Swiss steak while she ate some of the things left over from our dinner at a fancy restaurant we went to on our actual anniversary. She asked me to save the remaining sauce so she could freeze it. I was kidding, but I said I was planning to pour it over ice cream, because it is that good.

In addition to taking her to dinner, I gave her some lingerie in a hard-to-find style she likes. I also ordered a new flat-screen TV for her, but it came early and it was too big to hide, so I gave it to her last week. Nothing has changed in the past year: marrying Saint Karen is still the smartest thing I’’ve ever done.  The smartest thing she’s ever done is not say what the smartest thing she has ever done is.

I took my wife out to dinner twice last week, so she’’d better not expect a present on my birthday.

I have no serious complaints about Cablevision which supplies both cable and Internet to my home. It does cost a lot, but at some point in your life all prices become ridiculous. They do rely too much on automated phone attendants though. Overnight from Monday into Tuesday, something happened to our service. When I woke up Tuesday morning, all of my cable boxes were rebooting, and I wasn’’t connected to the Internet. I called them about the Internet, and got a phone attendant. The problem with that is the attendant basically walked me through the following: Unplug your router and your modem; plug them back in; if that doesn’’t work, call us back. The bigger problem is that one sentence of advice took more than five minutes to administer.

From the department of improved products comes Cabot acrylic deck stain. When my front porch was rebuilt, I used oil-based Cabot deck stain on it and liked it; so did “Consumer Reports.” Last time I repainted it I used Cabot acrylic deck stain and didn’’t like it. The color was the same, but the acrylic came out with a really glossy finish and it was slippery too. I repainted it again this week and used the acrylic again because to go back to the oil stain I’d have to sand off the acrylic. The acrylic stain has been reformulated. It didn’’t dry shiny this time so I like it much better than I did the first time I used it.

Linzer

linzer3.jpg

My friend Richard (not Feder) of New Jersey (not Fort Lee and now,improved with at least one other state) loves Linzer Tortes. These Linzer Tarts are not completely authentic and they are mass-produced, but I wonder if Richard knows about these. Since Entenmann’s products are widely distributed, they might do in a pinch.

Things I Want (Or Need) To Know

Do people or companies that place robocalls get a report telling them how many of the people who receive calls hang up as soon as they determine the nature of the call? If they do, I want to know what percentage of robocall recipients listen to the entire call, and what percentage of recipients does not.

I know that political ads, and charities are exempt from the federal no call list, but if I’’ve gone to the trouble of getting on the no call list, what makes you think I’’d welcome your exempt calls either? Whatever makes you think that, by the way, is wrong! In fact, this week I called my state senator’’s office, and politely told the woman who answered that I believe the senator is overdoing the robocalls.

The word “nosey” has an “e” in it, right”? So shouldn’’t the word “noisy” have one too? And since Halloween has just passed, let me say that “scary” should have an e in it too.

When was the apostrophe dropped from Halloween?

Bouillon cubes I understand, but why do they call it cubed steak?

The electrician I called is so late for his appointment now that I think he may be a doctor too. Would it be wrong to call two electricians, and tell the second one to show up to get lost?

Lindsay Lohan was reportedly paid a lot of money to pose naked for Playboy magazine. Who cares? About Lohan or about Playboy?