Things I Know

I visited the Victoria’s Secret store at the local mall today. It’s very economical to shop there because if I buy a present for my wife, it’s also a present for me. They had Christmas music blaring in there. I complained twice to the young sales clerk waiting on me about how loud the music was, but I don’t think she could hear me.

There must be a couple of new people here once in a while because the number of hits on the site is increasing slowly, but steadily. So, in case the newbies are wondering what the hell I was talking about in my most recent diatribe about Powerball, I’ll explain. When lottery prizes get big a staple of TV news coverage is to interview people as they buy tickets and ask them what they plan to do with the money. Everyone has plans to give it away. Nobody should think about that because the odds of winning are so bad buying a ticket doesn’t really improve your chances, unless, of course, you win. So, when a lottery prize gets huge, I think up silly stuff to do with the money if I win. Freeing the shopping carts is my latest silly idea; nothing more and nothing less.

I heard on the news today that your chances of winning the big Powerball prize are smaller you’re your chances of winning an Oscar. And you’re not an actor, so those chances are remarkably slim.

Since Kansas State and Oregon both lost their football games two week ago, Alabama is #2 in the latest college football rankings, back from #4 when the Tide lost to Texas A&M three weeks ago. So, perhaps my son was wrong that the Alabama season was over (meaning they had no chance to play for the BCS championship. It depends on who wins the SEC championship game.

I’ve never seen it done, but I believe it’s at least theoretically possible for someone to buy a week’s worth of groceries in a supermarket without ever blocking an aisle or having their path through an aisle blocked.

They ought to make shoes for mowing the lawn that are absolutely smooth on the bottom. Then, if you stepped in something, you would just wipe it off instead of digging it out of the tread on the soles of your sneakers or work boots.

Hostess brands going out of business makes me a little sad. No more Twinkies, no more Hostess cupcakes (well, no new ones anyway. The ones that exist are rumored to last forever if nobody eats them) and no more Wonder Bread. And, no more jobs for over eighteen-thousand bakery workers. I never made them, but the only union I ever belonged to was the American Bakery & Confectionery Workers Union. There is so little about that Union on the Internet that I have to assume it went out of business a long time ago. That’s okay because I retired at age 19 and if I had to find my card so I could go back to work, I couldn’t if my life depended on it. It’s hard work under bad conditions. I worked at it for one year and I can tell you, you don’t ever want to catch bread coming out of the oven in five-loaf pans.

So, around my birthday, someone called from the life insurance company that holds my policy. She said it’s been a long time since anyone has reviewed my policy with me and she’d like to come by when it’s convenient within the next couple of weeks. I said, “I’m really not interested in a sales pitch unless it will save me money,” and she hung up.

I saw a TV documentary recently about prohibition. It struck me as extremely similar to our modern day drug wars and just as futile. According to CBS Sunday Morning, 100-million people in the USA admit having tried marijuana and in Colorado on Election Day, more people voted to legalize pot than voted to reelect President Obama.

New Powerball Plan

One of the supermarkets in my town does something that really annoys me. They have a right to do it and I have a right to be annoyed. It doesn’t annoy my wife, so she shops there a lot more than I do. You need a quarter to use one of their shopping carts. They’re chained together and it takes a quarter to release one cart from the next one. It doesn’t cost a quarter, because you get the coin back when you chain the cart back up.

It cuts down on cart theft and frees the store from paying someone to retrieve the carts strewn all over the parking lot, but I dump all of my change into a jar on the dresser, so if I have to go to that store, I have to remember to get a quarter. Either that or I have to go to the service desk at the market.

Why do I bring this up at this time? Well, nobody won Powerball last night, so the next drawing will have a potential grand prize of something like $325-million. Since I’m annoyed about needing a quarter at the supermarket and since the Powerball prize is $325,000,000, I have synthesized a new plan if I should win the big prize.

I still know how unlikely it is that I’ll win, I’ll still jump on the bed if I win and I’ll still try to put that huge check in the ATM, but I’ll also go inside the bank, get a crate full of quarters and head for the annoying supermarket’s parking lot, where I’ll liberate all the shopping carts! Free the shopping carts!


What are you thankful at Thanksgiving? I’m so thankful for my family that I don’t usually get much beyond that. This year, I’m also thankful that we came through Sandy with a lot less damage than some people who live only a couple of blocks from me. I’m also thankful that we’ve been able to help that situation at least in some small way.

As I mention frequently, I love my wife and when we were married, I figured she probably wasn’t perfect, although the very few and very small ways in which she isn’t perfect hadn’t manifested themselves yet. Here’s one: I would still have married my wife if I knew she doesn’t like and won’t prepare giblet gravy for Thanksgiving. I like it, but I like her a whole lot more, so I endure. Whether you like giblet gravy or not, you probably know what it is. However, have you ever wondered where the word comes from? I have and finally got curious enough to look it up.

The website speaks thusly about the origin of the word “Giblet.”

“Today’s word is a slightly smoothed version of Old French gibele “ragout of game” (today gibelotte) derived from gibier “wild game”. French gibier originated in Frankish, an old West Germanic language. In Frankish gibaiti “falconry”, was a prefixed form of the word meaning “bite” and the origin of English bite. (Gibaiti has a prefix similar to that in German Gef√§ngnis “prison” from fangen “to catch, capture”.) Another word related to bite and gebaiti is bait, the only thing many of us think giblets are good for (Let’s all show the giblets to thank Laurie Hynes for seeing the fascination in this easily overlooked Good Word).

This concludes both the public-service and the educational portion of your holiday weekend. You are now free to return to football. I won’t join you, but I won’t try to stop you either.

Things I Want (Or Need) To Know

Why didn’t the FBI remove boxes of potential evidence from Paula Broadwell’s North Carolina home before the Petraeus scandal became public, instead of waiting until the Monday night after?

President Obama said there’s no evidence that General Petraeus’ affair with Paula Broadwell jeopardized national security. If that’s true, then even if the administration wanted him out, why did they make him jump under a bus as he left? And don’t we have something more important than that to take up half the network TV newscasts for a week?

If I don’t order something, under every business law I’m aware of, I don’t have to pay for it. So, how come I have to pay for a text message that someone sends to me, but I didn’t ask for?

Have you seen the new J C Penney TV commercial using music by T-Rex? The band broke up 35 years ago when the lead singer died. The song, “Bang a Gong,” is 40 years old. All the models in the commercial are at least ten years younger than the band or the song. Exactly what demographic is that commercial aimed at?

Do you think they’ll ever finish the New Jersey Turnpike?

Have you seen the Capital One commercial with the little girl who doesn’t want fifty percent more cash? How did they get any child that age to say yes so many times?

Why does my phone say, “Droid,” every night around 7:00 PM? Is there any way I can stop it from doing that? It used to do it around 8:00 PM, so how come Verizon Wireless didn’t switch that computer to standard time?

Also about my phone: if I let the battery die completely, plugging it in to charge it doesn’t allow me to use the phone right away. I have to get the battery up to five percent charge before it’ll work, even while plugged in. Why?

Last month, the History Channel ran a show called “101 Gadgets That Changed The World.” How can one take this program seriously when #87 was the Ginsu knife and the wheel, the lever and the inclined plane aren’t even on the list?

Things I Know

I hope Paula doesn’t boil the bunny; Jill too.

One headline in Tuesday’s Newsday, the Long Island newspaper, says, “Fiscal Cliff Will Test GOP Resolve on Tax Hikes.” No it won’t. Stalling legislation will no longer work to stop any and all tax hikes because if nothing happens, everyone’s taxes will go up in January. So now, some sort of compromise will have to happen so only somebody’s taxes go up, not everyone’s.

Hardly anyone has said something that should be obvious about the storm damage Sandy inflicted on Long Island. I don’t care what happened. If 90 percent of your electric distribution goes down over an area as big as Long Island, there’s something wrong with the way your distribution system is designed and built and it needs to be hardened. That’s especially true since much more than half of it was repaired last year in August.

It will surprise me if any member of the LIPA board of directors survives this fiasco. The chief operating officer has already announced he’s leaving at the end of the year. Same thing for the long-term survival of LIPA itself. Sandy came 14-months after Irene and it doesn’t look like LIPA learned a damned thing.

My son is a University of Alabama alumnus. After Texas A&M’s football team beat the previously undefeated and previously #1 ranked Crimson Tide, he said, “Our season is over.” I thought to myself that it sounded like the typical attitude of a New York Yankee fan and then I remembered my son is a New York Yankee fan.

About Love

Ancient Egyptians, as you may know, worshipped the sun god. They didn’t know that too much sun is bad for you. We didn’t know that either until late in the 20th century. In fact, we thought that sunlight was good for you and too much sunlight gave you a sunburn which was benign, other than the fact that it made your skin peel and boosted the sale of Noxzema. The product still exists. Now its sold only as a skin cleanser and I’d bet they don’t sell as much per capita as they once did.

Fair-skinned people my age usually got sunburned both regularly and frequently. When I first went to a dermatologist about what my skin has become, he asked if I’d ever had a bad sunburn. I consider this a dumb question to ask someone my age and with my complexion, so I asked him if he’d ever seen the Woody Allen movie, “Sleeper.” He asked why, and I said, “Remember when he woke up, he discovered that everything he had thought was good for him was bad for him and vice versa? Well, my parents wouldn’t let me inside in the summertime. Of course I’ve been badly sunburned and more times than I can count.”

So, over the years I’ve had more than one skin cancer (fortunately no melanoma) and I have a bunch of blemishes that the dermatologists assures me will turn into skin cancer if I don’t do anything about them. Because of my history, I believe him and Wednesday, I left the house early to go to his office and get a treatment that helps eliminate these blemishes. The treatment, however, makes the person treated unusually sensitive to light for about two days.

How is that about love? I’m not capable of thinking about much of anything for a couple of hours after I wake up, so I didn’t think much about my impending light sensitivity Wednesday morning except to bring a hat and I set that hat out the night before so I wouldn’t have to remember it in the morning. I returned from the doctor’s office after my wife left for work. Before she leaves, she always opens all the blinds and shades to. “let in some light.” But, when I returned from my treatment every shade, every blind and every drape in the whole house was closed. She thought about me and took care of me, without my even asking. She does it if I do ask too. I do the same for her.

So the mere fact that she puts up with me isn’t the only reason I sometimes refer to her as Saint Karen. Sunday was the anniversary of the first time we met that I noticed although she is quick to tell me that we met twice before that. I bought her roses. I like to observe the date in addition to remembering our wedding anniversary which was last month.

Things I Know

The Long Island Power Authority says if the predicted Nor’easter does hit the area on Wednesday there may be more power outages. I thought every tree on Long Island that could fall down did fall down during Sandy.

If there’s ever another storm as big as Sandy, maybe I will evacuate when a mandatory evacuation order is issued.

The storm made a lot of homes on Staten Island and in Long Beach and Freeport uninhabitable. If you can donate to a charity that is helping people in this predicament, please do so.

The fact that New York’s Holland, Midtown and Brooklyn Battery Tunnels all flooded does make a whole bunch of disaster movies a little more believable. I read that the Brooklyn Battery Tunnel was flooded with 43-million gallons of water. I wonder how they know that. I also wonder how much water the Holland and Midtown Tunnels hold. I also saw a report that the NY Subway was flooded with 400-million gallons and considering the size of the system, that seems like it might be low to me.

Although the community in which I live was clobbered, our beloved mayor sent out a robocall from the Emergency Management Director saying power would be restored by 10 AM Saturday. That was wrong. There are still lots of people without power. I live in a part of town that wasn’t flooded and consider myself fortunate that my power was out only 93 hours.

Years ago, radio comedians Bob & Ray had fake commercials for Quagmire Corporation, manufacturers of mud. I’m starting a new fake company: Pain-In-The-Ass, Inc., manufacturers of robocalls.

I’m on the federal no call list which, judging from the number of annoyance calls I receive, is toothless. These calls are apparently so cheap that it doesn’t pay Pain-In-The-Ass, Inc. (manufacturer of robocalls) to stop calling people who hang up on them every time, but hanging up is about all you can do to defend yourself.

Today I got a call in Spanish. I know a few words of Spanish, but the recording didn’t use any of those. At the end of the message a voice in English came on and said,

‘To repeat this message, press any key.”¬† If I understood the message, I would be unlikely to understand the tag line and vice-versa, so that call made no sense at all to me.

If you follow this blog, you know that I call my wife Saint Karen because she must be a saint to put up with me. For our wedding anniversary, I bought her a sterling-silver Saint Karen pendant. She laughed. I like the sound of her laughter.


Did you miss me? Sandy didn’t. So, why didn’t I leave? Why didn’t the people who drowned in their houses on Staten Island leave? Frankly, I think hysterical TV news coverage is at least partly to blame. It’s like the old fable about the boy who cried wolf. When the wolf finally showed up, nobody believed the kid. I understand that the news media have to say it might be bad because that’s better than saying, “Oops, that was bad,” but unless it is bad this time, nobody will listen next time. I do think, however that people will listen the next time a big storm heads this way.

I’ve lived through lots of mandatory evacuations before without leaving. I lived through this one too. I didn’t send my family to safety. I didn’t even move my cars although there are places near where I live where you should move your cars if it gets cloudy. Like all the other times, it turned out I didn’t have to, but Sandy was a one-of-a-kind storm and a lot of people who never evacuated before should have this time. Sandy’s winds weren’t sustained at hurricane force by the time she reached New York, but the flooding in Staten Island, downtown Manhattan and on Long Island was unprecedented. I don’t understand all the reasons, but she did come on shore at high tide and full moon and from the east, not the south. That last is important because the direction of the storm pushed more water into Long Island Sound, Great South Bay and New York Harbor than past experience would have suggested was possible. Plus Sandy moved more slowly than a lot of hurricanes and SHE WAS HUGE! About 800 miles wide instead of the 200 or so that’s more normal for a hurricane. Usually a hurricane blows through in a few hours and the weather afterwards is great. Sandy took quite a while to get through the area and the weather still isn’t wonderful. Winds didn’t die down to normal levels until five days after the storm.

People don’t move because they’ve been through what they think they’re facing before, because they don’t want to encourage looting, and because they think they can prevent or fix some of the things that could go wrong. I didn’t leave because, in addition to those things, conditions around my property are a little different than they are for most people around here. Fifteen feet above sea level isn’t a hill anyone would notice, but the Great South Bay knows it’s there. Also, no trees nearby are large enough to fall on my house. Most property south of Merrick Road in Nassau County, NY, is subject to flooding, mine isn’t. So, when the county executive says everyone south of Merrick Road, get out, I don’t. I realize he can’t specify the flood line street by street, and I think I’m an exception to that rule. You only had to try to get gas around here since Wednesday to know that almost everyone thinks they’re an exception to some rule.

I have a gas stove, a gas water heater and a wood stove big enough to heat my entire house. I’m now kind of low on firewood, but with all the trees down around here. I imagine there will be no shortage of firewood anytime soon. I don’t even own a generator although that may change. The house I live in is over 100 years old. I’ve lived in it for more than 20 years. and I’ve never been without power for more than a day. This time, it was four days without lights, central heat, phones, and Internet. Usually floods come within half a mile or so of my house. This time, it was two blocks. We have had two storms of the century in two years. If we get another one next year, I may actually heed the cries of wolf and evacuate.