Things I Know

Yosemite Valley has been evacuated due to smoke from wild fires surrounding the park, and to allow the valley to be used to stage fire-fighting efforts.  It’s sad.  Yosemite is among the most beautiful places I’ve ever been, and I was lucky enough to go back last May.  I know fires are a natural part of the ecosystem in that area.  Still, I hope the park isn’t badly damaged and that nobody is hurt or killed fighting the blazes.

Professional writers who ply their trade in the English language really need to learn to write.  From today’s article about Serena Williams on the NY Post’s website: “Williams returned to competition this season after missing more than a year while pregnant.”  I was going to say, “Poor girl,” but she’s 36, so poor woman.  No human being is pregnant for more than a year.

The NY Daily News’ parent company, Tronc, announced it is laying off half its editorial staff including cutting the sports department by more than 70 percent.  I don’t have access to reader surveys, but I’m guessing that before this week, more people read the Daily News for its sports section and comics than for its news coverage and editorials.  Unfortunately, I don’t think the Daily News is long for this world.

The NY Mets announced that left fielder Yoenes Cespedes needs surgery on both heels and recovery will take at least 8-10 months.  This issue developed after Cespedes returned for one game after two months on the disabled list.  Having established a new category of MLB roster, the one-day abled list, one wonders why Cespedes and the Mets haven’t taken care of this mess much earlier.  Apparently, he’s had heel problems since before the Mets acquired him years ago.

If you are a man who wears suits, when someone takes your picture, you should button the suit jacket.  Leaving it unbuttoned will make you look heavier than you are.  If nobody has, someone ought to tell President Trump that.  If someone has told him that, it wouldn’t be the only advice he’s received that it would be good for him to pay attention to.

It strikes me as somewhat ironic that the Food Network’s show “Good Eats” runs occasional commercials within the show for Kraft Macaroni and Cheese.

July 11, was the anniversary of my discharge from the US Army.  It was for a little over five months, the happiest day of my life.  It was superseded by Christmas Eve that same year, when Saint Karen (who must be a saint to put up with me) agreed to marry me.

Obviously if the 11th was the anniversary of my Army discharge, the 12th was the anniversary of the day I went into the Army.  When I got home from basic training, my girlfriend (later to be canonized) walked right past me on the railroad station platform.  She didn’t recognize me because I had lost 42 pounds in the two months I was away.  I’m sure she’ll recognize me this September, because there’s no way I’m going to lose 42 pounds this year.

I spent a lot of second full weeks in July in Boy Scout camp.  I don’t do that anymore, but I occasionally miss it.  I don’t miss the food.  Nobody goes to Boy Scout camp for the cuisine.  I do miss the kids, the activities and the other adults though.  If I miss it, why did I stop going?  I really can’t sleep on those cots or on the ground anymore.

Things I Know

Thursday, another maniac shot his way into a place, this time a newsroom in Maryland, killing five people.  Clearly one thing that would help the rash of these shootings is bullet-proof thoughts and prayers.

Dan Ingram died this month, at 83, of side effects from Parkinson’s Disease.  He retired from radio about 15 years ago.  In his time, he was the best top 40 DJ I ever heard.  He was great at adlibbing.  It was Dan who dubbed the lower level of the George Washington Bridge the Martha Washington Bridge.  Think about it.

He was also in demand as a voiceover artist.  Even if you don’t live in New York, where he made his mark in radio on WABC and WCBS FM, you’ve heard him on commercials.  If you grew up in New York from the 60’s to the early 2000’s, and you make it to the beach this summer, “Roll your bod,” in Big Dan’s honor.  RIP Kemosabe.

We went to California in May, so I was looking at hotels around the airport in San Francisco to stay at the night before we came back.  Last time we went, I waited too long to do that.  Even if your bio clock is on east-coast time, getting up at 3:30 AM in Sacramento to get to SFO in time for a 7:30 AM flight is a bummer.  Maybe seven years ago, we stayed at the Inn at Oyster Point, and liked it a lot.  So, I was disappointed to find out that it closed last year.  We only stayed there once, so maybe that’s why it closed.

I have a simple solution to one problem with Yosemite National Park.  If you get there after around nine in the morning, parking at the visitors’ center is pretty hard to find.  Simple solution:  valet parking!

I find when browsing reddit that you can almost always skip the first paragraph of each post.  Usually the second paragraph too.  You can thank me later.

Things I Want (or Need) to Know

California has primary elections tomorrow.  In case you’re not aware, California has open primaries.  You can vote for whatever person you want who’s seeking an office, whether you’re registered in the same party, or not.  If two Democrats get the largest vote totals in the primary, they face off in November.  If two Republicans get the most votes, you’re not in California after all.  Also, political parties in California aren’t allowed to raise money for candidates.  So, why do they even have political parties there?

It was so chilly this morning, that I wondered if God was aware it’s June.

When renewing your car registration on line, New York State DMV won’t let you put a dash in the field where you fill in your license-plate number. Example, ABC1234, not ABC-1234.  So, why do they put a dash on the license plate in the first place?

Things I Want (or Need) to Know

Now that Spring is finally here, and grass is being mowed, wouldn’t it be nice if they made lawn-mower handles more adjustable, so tall people could use them whithout bending over, thereby not develop back pain in the process of tidying up the yard?

How cold has Spring been where I live this year?  Well I have some pictures of my lilacs from six years ago when they were in full bloom on April 20th.  On May 3rd this year, they haven’t bloomed yet.

Does anyone reading this know of a good way to get rid of English ivy, or how to destroy wild onions?  I’d like to kill the ivy without annoying my lilacs.  My onion problem is so bad this year, I’m thinking of renaming my family home “Vidalia Acres.”

What can I get Saint Karen (who must be a saint to put up with me) for her birthday, and Mother’s Day?  They’re always close together and sometimes fall on the same day.  I usually get her separate presents.  Twice before, I’ve gotten her one big, combined present for the two events.  Once, I bought her an iPad, and the other time, a 60” tv for the living room.  Unless someone has a better idea, and even if they do, this year, I’m getting another combined present:  I’m taking her to California to visit our son.

I was telling one of my doctors about all the muscle pain I’ve been experiencing.  He started complaining to me that he’s sore all over too.  Do you know what that means?  I think it means I need to find a younger doctor.

Things I Know

I spent part of my life in government and in media.  Consequently, I’ve met a lot of important and/or famous people.  Today, I received one of those Facebook friend suggestions, based on knowing someone who is also connected to that person—Markus Elliot Zuckerberg.  First, I don’t know Mark Zuckerberg, head of Facebook.  I can’t see why he’d have a personal interest in me.  I doubt I know anyone who does know him.  And, since the Markus Elliot Zuckerberg who was suggested as a friend to me had only 60 followers on Facebook at the time, I’m not convinced that it’s THE MARK ZUCKERBERG.

The African nation of Tanzania has just required internet content-providers to register and pay a fee equal to $920 American dollars.  That’s roughly an entire year’s income for the average person in Tanzania.  The government is cracking down on information it considers obscene, and information critical to its strongman-President John Magufuli.  The law seems designed to allow the government to prosecute anything on the internet it doesn’t like.  Obviously, the Tanzanian government can’t enforce this against anyone outside the country.  With VPN and other such technology to allow people on line to mask their location, I wonder if they can even enforce it inside Tanzania.

I read somewhere that the visitors to the website of the NY Daily News have dropped by close to fifty percent since the paper put the website behind a paywall.  I’m sure that’s a factor, but the paywall at the NY Daily News, like the paywall for many other newspaper websites, is very easy to circumvent.

Another factor must be how annoying nydailynews.com is to use.  The only thing most people hate that isn’t included on the website is a portal page.  There are popups that block content, distracting videos in the middle of articles, auto-playing audio and video, banners that cover articles or parts of articles.  You get the idea.  I’m sure there are worse websites, but frankly I can’t think of one.

If you search for the cheapest places tourists can visit, one thing that will strike you is nobody agrees on their entire list or on which one is least expensive.  I can’t find it again, but one of the lists I found earlier this year said the least expensive tourist spot in the world was Damascus, Syria.  Even if that’s true, it’s true for a reason and I know I won’t be visiting war

Hints for Redditors

For the uninitiated, reddit.com is a website that hosts communities of people interested in just about anything.  There’s a lot of interesting stuff there, if you can find it.  Semi-organized chaos is the way I look at it.  Redditors are what people who use the site call other people who read and post to the site, especially post.  You have to create an account to post.  Subreddits are the individual groups gathered under the reddit umbrella.  I have no idea how many there are, but there are lots and if you want to start your own, go ahead.

I haven’t posted on reddit, but I do read several subreddits.  If you want to read or post to reddit.com, here are a few hints for you, from me.  You can thank me later, or not.

Nobody cares if you’re posting via your cell phone.  Stop saying that.

Nobody cares if you’re posting from your regular account, a burner or throwaway account either.  You can stop saying that too,

If you make a mistake in formatting, don’t say you’re sorry, fix it.

If you think your post is too long, saying you’re sorry makes it longer still.  Instead, make it shorter.  If your post is more than half background, that’s where you can start making it shorter.

Don’t promise me something is relevant.

If you’ve written “but I digress (or I’m rambling)” eliminate that phrase and whatever you wrote just above it too.

Spelling correctly is good.  Maybe you could write your posts in a word-processing program with a spell checker, then cut and paste them into reddit.  Almost everyone on reddit who means “altar,” as one example, writes “alter” instead.  They’re not the same thing.

Punctuation would be your friend if you let it be.  I’m talking about things like periods, commas, quotation marks, apostrophes, hyphens.  They’re all good, and would make your posts more readable.

Anagrams, and jargon are both bad unless you’re trying to restrict your audience.  The people who already know will be fine with them, but new readers won’t know what the hell you’re talking about.

If you take those suggestions, reading reddit will certainly be easier for me.  So, thank you.

Things I Know

In case you’re wondering why TCM is running the movies it is today, it’s Doris Day’s birthday.  She’s 96.  In honor of the day, please don’t eat any daisies. 

Christine Shawcroft is a member of the British Parliament and was, until recently a member of the executive committee of the Labour Party, the largest out-of-power party in the UK.  She resigned from the executive committee recently over a controversy where she supported a local Labour Party candidate who had previously written a holocaust denial article.  The British Labour Party has been troubled because some members have been accused of anti-Semitism.  Ms. Shawcroft has been replaced in her leadership position by comedian Eddie Izzard. 

Saint Karen (who must be a saint to put up with me) and I have only spent a few days in England in our lives, but we approve of this substitution.  Worldwide, we believe, there are way too many clowns in politics, so we view comedians as a step in the right direction.

My local bagel store was open on Sunday, so it didn’t surprise me that they wished me Happy Easter.  For those who don’t understand the joke, bagels are ethnic food associated with Jewish people.  Easter Sunday was two days after the first night of Passover.  Observant Jews are prohibited by religious dietary laws from eating leavened bread during Passover.  Therefore, on this Easter Sunday, it was very unlikely for the owners, staff, or customers at the bagel store to be Jewish.

Let’s Get Ready to Stumble

Here’s the level to which political discourse has sunk in this country.  Two septuagenarians, one the former Vice President of the United States, and one the sitting US President, are now arguing with each other in public about which could have and/or would have kicked the other one’s ass in high school.

When I was in high school, I was the fat kid.  I’d like to sit on both.

Maybe Vince McMahon can promote this ass-kicking contest as a pay-per-view, once Trump leaves office, provided they both Biden and Trump are still alive then.

Elsewhere on the political discourse front, actress Cynthia Nixon has announced she’ll mount a Democratic primary challenge to New York Governor Andrew Cuomo.  Christine Quinn, former President of the New York City Council, called Nixon “an unqualified lesbian.”  If she’s saying Nixon isn’t qualified to be governor, she may have a point.  As far as I know, Ms. Nixon has never run for public office and never run any large organization.  If she’s saying Nixon isn’t qualified to be a lesbian, first, what has that got to do with being Governor, and second, how exactly does one become a qualified lesbian?  Ms. Quinn has apparently reconsidered, and apologized for her remarks, saying sexual orientation should have no bearing on anyone’s qualifications for public office.  So Christine Quinn and I do agree at least on one thing.

Things I Know

It’s hard for me to believe I’ve been writing this nonsense for ten years now.

I had a colonoscopy recently.  They put you to sleep for the procedure, but the anesthesiologist laughed, and conceded I had a point when I told him they should give anesthesia during preparation for the test.  The protocol my doctor told me to follow to prepare involved taking two-weeks’ worth of laxatives in two hours.  Ugh.

Lesson learned:  ethylene glycol is poison, but polyethylene glycol is a laxative.

Still, I’d rather have a colonoscopy than colon cancer, so I took the test as an outpatient at the local hospital.  Two days later, I got a clean bill of health, and a thank you note.  Who sends a thank you note to a patient who just had a colonoscopy?  New management I guess.  My wife had inpatient surgery at that hospital in 2016 and 2017.  We got bills for those, but no thank you notes.

I never thought the comic strip Beetle Bailey was funny before I served in the Army.  Once I did, I became a fan.  I just learned that Mort Walker, Beetle’s creator, died in January at the age of 94.  RIP Mort Walker.  Did anyone play Taps?

We’re going through a nor’easter here.  Not the worst one we’ve seen.  Concurrently, they’re going absolutely nuts about the “Beast from the East” over in the United Kingdom.  I heard that -10 C is the coldest it’s been in Wales at this time of year since 2001.  For our friends in Minnesota, that’s 23 F, plus 23!  Someplace, I believe in Scotland, got half-a-meter of snow.  For our friends in Oswego NY, and Truckee CA, that’s about 20 inches.

Look it up on a map.  You’ll be surprised how far north London is.  They say Britain doesn’t usually experience that kind of weather because it’s warmed by the Gulf Stream.  Fine.  But Long Island is warmed by the Gulf Stream before England is, and we got 15 inches earlier this year.  While that kind of snow doesn’t happen every year on the US East Coast, it’s hardly unusual.

Our son found a postcard on line that includes a picture of our home, circa 1915.  The house has changed surprisingly little.  103 years ago, the road was unpaved, the trees looked just planted, and there were no utility poles.  When the weather eases up, I’m going to try to take another picture from the same vantage point.

 

Parkland 3

At a time when a bomb in an Army in-processing center was a credible threat, I did search for a bomb in one.  I had nothing to help me find one but my eyes, and nothing to protect me if I did find one but the clothes I wore.  Today, possessing the wisdom that comes with age, I view what I did as foolhardy, rather than brave.  I would like to think I’d have rushed that Florida school the other day if presented with the situation, but I can’t honestly be sure I would.

I am aware that it’s their job—what they signed up for.  Broward County sheriff’s deputies at Parkland school should have confronted Nikolas Cruz.  I wish they would have, but I’m pretty sure the deputy stationed at the school, and the first ones who responded weren’t properly equipped to even try.  Keep in mind too that former deputy Scot Peterson said he thought the shooter was outside the school.

Most cops these days carry Glock 9mm handguns equipped with a 17-round magazine.  A round in the chamber (not the safest thing to do), makes 18 shots.  With a second clip, 35.  Put that against a crazy school shooter equipped with a semi-automatic rifle (maybe even automatic), and who knows how many higher capacity magazines.  Add to it that you don’t know exactly where the shooter is, you don’t know whether the shooter has body armor, but you do know you don’t have it. 

Remember also that shooting what you aim at, especially when under pressure is hard.  The other night where I live, cops and perps exchanged fire at close range near midnight and nobody hit anyone.  And a rifle is more accurate than a pistol, even at relatively close range.

I’m sorry, a single armed police officer, security guard or even several, won’t solve the school violence problem.  Even with a handgun, they really aren’t equipped to address an active shooter.  The school-shooting problem is multi-faceted, and we must face that fact.  Additional cameras inside schools would help security to figure out a way to confront the shooter more safely.  Yes, improved mental health screening, and treatment will help.  But, they won’t take the place of additional gun control, which—face it—is necessary.  Saying we shouldn’t ban or control some firearms because most gun crimes are perpetrated with handguns is nonsense.  Three lefts make a right:  two wrongs don’t.  If background checks exempt private sales, internet sales, and gun-show sales, background checks are basically window dressing.  Maybe some properly trained, armed teachers might help, but armed teachers come with additional problems.  What if school security shot, and killed a young-looking teacher who was trying to take out a shooter?  What if some kid overpowered a teacher in class and started shooting up the place with the teacher’s gun?  What if a female teacher carried her piece in her purse, put it down, and someone grabbed it?

I hate it when people suggest there’s one, single and simple solution to school shootings.  It’s much more complicated than that.  As they grew up, I always told my kids that if what they were doing wasn’t working, they ought to try something else.  Clearly, thoughts and prayers haven’t worked.  Just as clearly, it’s time to try a bunch of something elses.

Parkland 2

I got one reason why a lot of gun control advocates want to ban AR-15 assault rifles, and are less concerned about other semi-automatic weapons.  It’s a good one too.  It seems the AR-15 is the weapon of choice for a lot of the people who have perpetrated these awful mass shootings.

I suppose it has something to do with the military appearance of the weapons and the mental deficiencies of the sick people who perpetrate these disastrous crimes.

By the way, have you read about Nikolas Cruz’ defense attorney?  Florida does have the death penalty.  Methods of choice are lethal injection, or electric chair.  Her only hope for the kid is an insanity plea, but on TV she sounded sympathetic to him, talking about the impulse control of a 19-year-old perp.  At 19, he’s an adult and responsible for his actions.  The Catholic church says children know right from wrong in second or third grade and that’s when Catholic children are supposed to start going to Confession.  I was a lot younger than 19 when I came upon an attempted suicide.  My life would have been easier if the victim had succeeded, but I knew turning around and leaving was wrong.  I called 911.  That person did survive. 

Impulse control my ass!  There’s a huge difference between shoplifting a candy bar and killing 17 people.

Speaking of atrocious things happening in the USA, have you noticed how many news articles there around recently about teachers involved in inappropriate and/or illegal sexual conduct with their students?  There’s even one teacher who is suing claiming that the law against teachers having sex with their pupils is unconstitutional because it singles out teachers without mentioning other occupations.  Is this happening more and more often, or are we just hearing about these incidents more?  How do these people not realize that their actions will ruin their students lives and their lives too?

Parkland

If there’s a reason that assault rifles like the AR-15 are more dangerous than other semi-automatic rifles (for example: do they take larger magazines?) then I’d appreciate knowing.  Otherwise are all the calls to ban assault weapons just something people want to do as a symbol?

For the record, I don’t own a gun and never have.  I am familiar with them.  My dad was a cop.  When he was, he owned two pistols.  When he stopped being a cop, he sold both.  Like the 70’s TV detective, Mannix, and long before him, my dad wore his off-duty revolver (a snub-nosed 38) in the small of his back.  Doing that will eat a hole in the back of your car’s driver’s seat.  I always wondered why Mannix never had that problem.

As an MP, I used a pistol in my work.  Both in the Army and at Boy Scout Camp, I fired other weapons too.  I’m not a good shot, and never had the desire to own a gun myself.  I’m also for more gun control, provided it will help.  Clearly, we need something to help.  Just as clearly, I am at a loss what to do.

Thoughts, prayers and condolences aren’t going to do a lot to help all the dead people in Parkland Florida.  This problem, the 18th school shooting in the U.S. so far this year (more than two a week), requires far more than platitudes. 

After the fact, people said Nikolas Cruz was the one person they thought might shoot up a school.  He’s not the first school shooter that was said about.  So closer monitoring of potential problems is probably part of it.  Something like the way the FBI keeps track of possible terrorists.  I know that’s not the only answer.  I’ve read that the FBI was aware of Cruz 5 months ago.  Better mental-health treatment could be part of it too.  While nobody was paying attention, prisons seem to have become the most prevalent source of mental health care in the USA.  That’s wrong and needs to be fixed too.

I don’t have a solution, or even something I’m sure will improve things.  Since I don’t, I wish someone did.  I do know thoughts, prayers and condolences aren’t getting the job done.  Clearly, it’s time to try other things.

Things I Know

A couple of lessons learned. 

Review your home and car insurance occasionally.  When my car insurance renewal arrived with a 7.5% increase, I asked my broker about both my auto and my homeowner’s policies.  They requoted, and between the two saved me around $2,500 annually.  If your current broker can’t help you, get another estimate.  The savings could be very substantial.  Conclusion:  review these more often that I’ve  been doing.

I expected to receive a new camera body for Christmas, and I did.  So, I should have bought a spare battery and charger for it, before it arrived.  That way, when I opened the present, I would have a fully-charged battery, so I could use the new camera right away.  And, if I didn’t get the new camera, I could always have return the extra battery and charger.  No harm, no foul.

Kudos to Biddeford, the people who make electric blankets.  I have a dual control model that’s four or five years old.  One of the controls broke.  I called Biddeford about buying a new control.  Instead, they sent me a new one, free of charge.  They told me it would take up to three weeks to get here, but it didn’t.  It only took 11 days.

Democrats have been in charge of the top offices in New York’s Nassau County and the Town of Hempstead, for a month now.  So far, nothing terrible has happened, and I don’t expect anything will.

On the petty side, the newly elected Town Clerk arrived to find her office stripped of furniture and computer equipment.  A town-owned car was also missing.  That situation, which never should have happened, has been corrected.

An employee of the Town of Hempstead was riding an elevator at Town Hall, recently.  Another passenger in the elevator asked him what he did for the town.  His answer: “As little as possible.” Even Especially a smart ass should probably take the time to learn what the newly-elected Town Supervisor looks like.

Supervisor, Laura Gillen, says she’ll have a performance audit of snow removal during the recent storm.  Makes sense for the new management to see how things are going and whether they can be improved.

Blessings Counted

We’ve had some pretty bad weather around here lately.  Not the worst we’ve ever seen locally, and since we’ve also been elsewhere, not the worst we’ve ever experienced.  I could have easily handled the 3-6 inches of snow we expected.  The 15 inches we did get, not so much although it was powder.

But we managed, as we always do, in part because we have some nice neighbors who help with the snow.  The youngest son next door is about 20 and he owns an ATV with a plow.  He zips around the neighborhood taking care of sidewalks and other snow he finds.  The neighbors across the street have a big snow blower.  They also chip in.  Still, we were snowed in on Thursday night.  So, I went out to try to clear about six feet from the end of my car to where the driveway meets the street.  I got half of it done at night, and started again Friday morning, but the driveway apron was another story.  The municipal plow came through and the driveway apron was icy.

I started, but decided I couldn’t complete it in time for my daughter to get to work or for me to keep my doctor’s appointment.  So, we cancelled both, and I soaked away my aches in the tub for a while.  The folks across the street showed up and finished the job.  I thanked them, and offered to add to the kids hot-chocolate fund, but their mom turned it down, saying they were just paying a kindness forward.

It’s great to have nice neighbors who think of you.

Speaking of people who think of you, our daughter-in-law is from Bulgaria.  We visited there after she married into our family.  It’s a very interesting place, with lots of history.  We met her family, all of whom seemed lovely, and treated us wonderfully well.  Over the weekend, her grandfather told her he was worried for us after the storm, and if he had our phone number, he’d call us (a third of the way around the world) to make sure we were okay.  Isn’t that a lovely thought?  Our daughter-in-law pointed out, however that it wouldn’t be very practical since we don’t speak Bulgarian and he doesn’t speak English.

So, in the past few days, we’ve received kind thoughts from across the street, and around the world.  Two weeks ago, my sweet wife got me a new camera.  As it says on the t-shirt, “Life is good.”

Things I Know

In addition to being copyrighted 2009-2017, sisyphusproject.org is also copyright 2018.  Happy New Year.

Here’s how to think about what a long life 94 years is.  Rose Marie, the singer, comedian and actress probably best known for her role as a comedy writer on the Dick Van Dyke Show, died recently at the age of 94.  She started her career as a child in vaudeville as a singer.  She sang for three U.S. Presidents, the first of whom was Calvin Coolidge.

Between the two of them tonight’s Mega Million drawing and tomorrow’s Powerball will total at least $801 million.  If you’re wondering what you’ll do if you should happen to win both, you probably don’t have to concern yourself.  The odds of two events happening is calculated by multiplying together the odds of wining each of them.  So, the odds of winning Mega Millions tonight and Powerball tomorrow night are roughly one in 85,800,000,000,000,000.  That’s one in 85.8 quadrillion to one against.

If I should win both, I will still jump on my bed.

Things I Know

At Christmas time, remember, it’s not the gift, it’s the thought that counts.  We’re getting a new water heater for Christmas.  I didn’t think about that.

BTW, the phrase “Hot-water heater” is redundant.  If the water was already hot, why would you need to heat it.

Last night, a couple of hours after I ate, I went into the kitchen to clean up.  My wife had already put away the half a tomato I didn’t use when I made my sandwich.  I told her that’s one reason I love her, and one reason she wants to murder me in my sleep.  She laughed.  As long as she laughs when I say something like that, I figure I’m still safe.

Also, last night, I ordered something for her from LL Bean.  Their website told me it would arrive on January 2.  No problem.  I didn’t order it until Christmas Eve eve.  Retail workers and package delivery workers deserve holiday time too.  But, the same website told me that if I paid an additional $15 for express delivery, the package would come on January 2 instead.  Hmmmmm.  What would you do?

There’s a tv commercial for Optimum Cable showing soccer star Cristiano Ronaldo, accidentally locking himself out of a hotel room.  Then a female housekeeper shows up to let him back in, takes a picture of him in his underwear, posts it on social media, and the pic goes viral.  Funny, I suppose, but in real life a hotel housekeeper who posted a photo of a famous guest in his or her underwear would be fired.

It was funny to hear Democratic Senators complain about not having time to read the Republican tax reform plan.  Funny because the Republicans made the same complaint about the Affordable Care Act years ago when the Democrats rammed that through Congress without giving anyone time to read the bill.  What’s sad is both complaints were accurate.

It looks like I shouldn’t vote for a Republican or a Democrat.  My income taxes went up substantially to pay for Obamacare.  I live in a high-tax state, so my federal income taxes will also go up because of the limit on state and local tax deductions contained in the new tax reform bill.

My wife told my daughter the other day that my mother called her when I was first in the Army to tell her (my girlfriend at the time) my address.  Saint Karen (who must be a saint to put up with me), told my mom that she would number the letters she had already written each day since I went in (this was pre-email in case you’re wondering).  I asked Saint Karen how it was that I told my mother my address before I told her.  She said I did tell her first. 

That’s just one reason why Saint Karen should have been the public relations person in our family.  Instead, I did PR for 20 years or so.  Another reason she should have done it is because she’s a genius at not answering the question you ask her.  I, on the other hand, will answer you directly if you ask the right question. 

What do I mean by not answering the question?  Q:  Do you want to go out to dinner?  A:  I’m tired.  Okay, but that doesn’t tell me whether you’re willing to go out to eat, does it?   

Examining That Horse’s Mouth

You’ve heard the expression, “Never look a gift horse in the mouth,” haven’t you?  A horse’s teeth wear down over its lifetime, so examining a horse’s teeth is one way to evaluate whether the horse is young or old.  I other words, the expression arose to admonish people not to evaluate gifts based on how much they cost. 

On the Today Show this morning, the cast was asking what the worst gift you received is.  

I’ve mentioned here before that one of the earliest memories I have of my grandmother is her telling me in her kitchen that it’s not the gift, it’s the thought that counts.  Since I was 4 or 5 years old at the time, I thought my grandmother was nuts.  At that age, my parents, my grandparents, and any of my numerous aunts and uncles could easily afford to get me lots of things I wanted but couldn’t get for myself on my allowance which I believe was a quarter a week.

As an adult, of course I realize my grandmother was right, just not for a kid of kindergarten, or pre-k age.  Maybe I value the thought so much because there are still people who could buy me something I can’t afford for myself, but I don’t know anyone with that much money, so it isn’t going to happen.

The Today Show question caused me to recall two gifts I thought at the time were terrible.  Each actually turned out to be among the most useful things I’ve ever received.  My father’s older sister and her husband, my Aunt Catherine and Uncle Charlie were childless, and they were very generous at Christmas to me and my sister.  They were, for example, responsible for most of the electric trains I had when I was a kid.  One year, and one gift, stands out in my mind.  I think they gave me something else too, but they once gave me three or four wooden clothes hangers.  They were good hangers, the curved kind where the pants hangers unhook at one end, so you put your pants on them, closed the hanger and the pants wouldn’t slip off.

I have to think they got me something else too, but I don’t remember.  I do remember how disappointed I was and at my advanced age, I hope I didn’t show it, but I’d bet I did.  Obviously, as a kid, I wanted toys or money.  The thing is, my aunt and uncle passed away many years ago, but I still have those hangers.  I’ve bought and paid for more of them too, and they still hold clothes in my closet every day.

Second disappointing present came from the other side of the family.  I was 17 at the time, so I hope I was better able to conceal my disappointment.  My mother’s sister, my Aunt Mary, came to the party my parents held to celebrate my graduation from high school.  She gave me a leather Dopp shaving kit.  It could hold all my toiletries for when I traveled.  At 17, I was more sophisticated than when I was 12.  I didn’t want toys or money.  I just wanted money.  I’m not going to tell you that I still have it, but in college, in the Army and in my travels through adulthood, I used it a lot more than any other gift I ever received, except those hangers.  I wore it out after constant use over 20 years or more.

Things I Want (or Need) to Know

My Daughter came up with an important question over the four-day weekend.  Can vegans eat beefsteak tomatoes?  She must get it from her mother.  God knows I’m completely normal.

Among the things Amazon recommends I buy this holiday season is an RF transmitter, and six receivers I can attach to my key chain and other things they think I’ll lose.  I agree I’ll lose my keys, but how to they think I’m going to find the transmitter?

Google is a proper noun, so obviously it’s capitalized, but how about when it’s a verb?

What do you want for Christmas?  I’m easy to buy for because I’m a photographer, and I collect music.  It’s hard to buy music for me because I have so much, so a gift card is appreciated.  But as far as photography is concerned, I do have a new body on my wish list.  A new camera body, that is, although come to think of it, I could use a new body to replace the one I currently live too.  It’s kind of wearing down in places.

Things I Know

The first time my wife complained she was getting older, I told her, “That’s good.”  When she asked why I said that, I replied, “Because if you were still seventeen, you wouldn’t have anything to do with me.”  With the recent news about Alabama senate candidate Roy Moore, I realize there’s another reason why it’s good she’s getting older.  If she were still seventeen, I wouldn’t have anything to do with her either.  I was interested in a 14-year-old girl once myself.  Until 32 days after my 16th birthday when she turned 15.  In my opinion, 14 and 32 don’t add up to anything but creepy.

A t-shirt I saw recently read, “I have CDO.  It’s like OCD, except the letters are in alphabetical order, like they should be.”  At first, I thought that was funny.  Then I realized it ought to say, “as they should be.”

I tried Uber on a recent trip to Boston.  I do wish they used bigger cars.  We had a Toyota Corolla and a Mazda 3.  I don’t know about elsewhere, but if you call for an Uber in Boston, you’d better be ready to go.  The two times I used them, they showed up in a minute or two. The only glitch was the first time, their computer told my phone that Pedro was showing up in a Honda Odyssey, so when Jing showed up in the Mazda 3, I didn’t realize it was for me.

I’m happy for Mavis Wanczyk, the Massachusetts woman who won more than $750 million in the Powerball lottery in August.  But, by coming forward right away, she didn’t follow the recommended procedure of getting financial, and legal advice before claiming the prize.  I hope she manages that new-found wealth prudently, using it to benefit herself, and whatever good causes she believes in.  She does seem to have achieved the privacy I’d certainly want if I won.  There doesn’t seem to be anything else in the news about her since then.

I couldn’t stop the robocall urgent public-service announcements about my current electric bill, so I switched land-line phone carriers from Verizon to Altice.  Why?  Verizon wanted to charge me about $15 a month extra for caller ID while Altice reduced my cable and Internet bill by $10 a month when I signed up for phone service too.  Maybe I could get a similar deal if I switched to FIOS for cable and internet, but there are several reasons I want to keep Altice, including News 12, and retaining my email address.

Saint Karen, who must be a saint to put up with me, just asked our daughter if she wanted to split some zucchini sticks.  It’s okay.  After all this time, she knows I don’t like zucchini.  Joking around, I told her that if she split them they’d cook faster.  Then, I said, “I’m clever that way.”  She laughed, and said she married me because I’m clever.  I told her I married her because I’m clever too.

The other day, I saw a BMW headed north on Long Island’s Meadowbrook Parkway, doing the speed limit in the left lane.  I’ve never seen something like that before.  I always imagined that if a person in a BMW was observed driving at or below the speed limit, someone from Stuttgart would show up and confiscate their car.

Baseball

I know it’s beyond my control, but it’s not okay with me that Major League Baseball is over for 2017.  After all, baseball causes warm weather, and I don’t like to be cold.  Don’t believe me?  They play baseball all winter in the Dominican Republic and it never gets cold there.  On the plus side, it’s only a little over three months to pitchers and catchers.

It was also fine with me that the Astros won the World Series.  After all, I root for the Mets, and whoever is playing the Dodgers.  Since the Astros played the Dodgers, I’m fine with the outcome.  Still, I could really do without games that last 5 hours and 17 minutes, using 14 pitchers.

The series reminded me of something though.  My uncle (my mother’s brother) was married to a woman who was the oldest daughter in a large family.  At least one of her sisters was younger than me, and younger than some of my aunt and uncle’s kids (my cousins) too.  The sister’s name was Paige.  If you’re following closely, you’ll realize that means my cousins had an aunt who was younger than they were, but not related to me at all.  I was interested.  She was petite, which is my Kryptonite, and I thought she was cute.  She wasn’t much of an intellectual though.  When I learned her name, I quoted a Mark Twain line from “A Connecticut Yankee in King Arthur’s Court.”  I told her she wasn’t big enough to be a paragraph. 

Much like Britain’s Queen Elizabeth, Paige was not amused. That’s when I learned it’s possible to strike out on only one pitch.

Things I Want (Or Need) to Know

Did you miss me?  Saint Karen (who must be a saint to put up with me) retired and I took a little while off from the Sisyphus Project.  We went to Boston, we went to the Poconos, we went to the Delaware Water Gap to see Fall colors, because when we went the only Fall color where we live was green.

Did you vote?  I hope so.  You can still complain if you didn’t vote, but still, you should vote.  And, it’s more important to vote in local elections than in the Presidential election.  Local elections have fewer voters, so each vote is a bigger percent of the total.

Why is everything more expensive in an expensive hotel?  Five dollars for a cup of coffee, not a fancy, Starbucks-style coffee drink, a simple cup.  And valet parking was convenient, but it was almost three times as expensive as parking in a public garage.

Speaking of expensive hotels, why don’t they offer services that are common in less expensive places?  Specifically, free breakfast and free Wi-Fi. 

I went to the men’s room in the Burger King across from Boston Common.  There was no urinal, so I lifted the seat to take care of my needs.  A question arose when I finished.  Was I supposed to put the seat back down, or since it’s a men’s room, should I have left it up?

Why doesn’t the Lupus Foundation or Big Brother and Big Sister contract with local governments to collect all their trash?  I understand charities are exempt from the federal no-call law.  Because each has a worthy purpose, I’m less inclined to be rude to the people who call on their behalf to advise us they have a donation truck in my area.  Still, I think both are seriously overdoing their telemarketing efforts by a long shot.

Things I Know

Lesson learned: 

If your birdbath falls over, check as soon as you notice to see if something made it turn over, because recently deceased racoon is a lot more pleasant to clean up than racoon that’s been dead, in hot weather, for most of a week.  I’ll spare you pictures. I spared me pictures too because I didn’t take any.

Theories you’d think are true confirmed to be true:

Rotten racoon doesn’t smell very good.

As you might expect, Raid for flying insects doesn’t kill maggots.

Maggots can’t swim in water heavily laced with chlorine bleach.

Things I Know

President Trump’s recent attacks on Attorney General Sessions suggest he may be trying to bully Sessions to get the Attorney General to fire Robert Mueller, former FBI director, and recently appointed special prosecutor.  Mueller is charged with looking into possible Russian interference in the 2016 Presidential election, and any collusion that may or may not have occurred between the Trump campaign and the Russian government.  Firing Watergate special prosecutor Archibald Cox didn’t work well for President Nixon.  Just Google “Saturday Night Massacre.”  Attorney General Richardson and Deputy Attorney Ruckelshaus both resigned over Nixon’s order to fire Cox.  It didn’t work too well for Robert Bork either.  He actually fired Cox, but was later denied confirmation to the U.S. Supreme Court. 

Let’s not overlook the positive aspect of OJ’s parole. Once he’s out, his tireless search for the real killer can resume.

A Honda dealer on Long Island, Babylon Honda, is advertising on TV its “exclusive” vehicle exchange program.  According to dictionary.com, one meaning of the word exclusive is, “Shutting out all others from a part or share.”  To me, that means Babylon Honda is the only car dealer in the world that is both willing to sell you a new car, and willing to accept your old car as a trade in.  Either that, or only a select few dealers do.  I doubt both.

Lake Montauk at the eastern end of Long Island’s south fork isn’t a lake.  It’s a harbor that opens to Block Island Sound.  But it’s called that because it was a fresh-water lake until about 90 years ago when a developer blasted a channel to turn it into a salt-water port.  I’m sure that if the EPA had existed back then, a permit would not have been issued.  Still, on a sunny summer afternoon, there’s almost nothing I like better than sitting on the deck of Gosman’s Restaurant at that harbor, enjoying lunch and watching the boats going in and out.  The restaurant is good.  Its location is stellar!

My wife was supposed to retire Friday, so I was invited to her office where a small party including coffee and cake were planned to mark the occasion.  She put off her retirement for another few weeks, but she still got cake.  It just wasn’t her cake.  After she changed the date of her retirement, another worker in her office decided to retire Friday instead.

Things I Know

In solidarity with all the dogs in my neighborhood, I’m planning to spend tonight hiding under the bed, thankful that except for licensed professional displays, all forms of fireworks are illegal where I live.  Just imagine how noisy the evening of the Fourth of July would be if anyone could buy firecrackers.

I’ve read on a couple of internet forums that certain Nissan Frontier trucks have a known problem.  They have a transmission cooler inside the radiator.  As the trucks age, some of those coolers leak, allowing engine coolant into the transmission.  That requires an expensive transmission rebuild.  Concerned, I checked my aging truck.  It has an external transmission cooler.  That means a leaking cooler won’t brick my transmission, and I don’t have to add an external cooler, because my truck already has one.  Money saved!

Things I Know

Sometimes, you just can’t win.  I took my old GPS unit with me when I went on a 500-mile trip two weeks ago.  On the way home, it took me 14 miles out of my way because I hadn’t updated its maps in about three years.  So, this week, before I went on a 300-mile trip, and in preparation, I tried updating the GPS.  The update failed, and in the process bricked the GPS.

Yes, I can use my phone as a GPS, but the display is uncomfortably small, and the phone eats batteries when used that way, plus it gets really hot.  I have to decide whether to get a new car that has GPS, buy another GPS unit, or confine myself to going places I already know how to get to.

I went to the Barrett-Jackson car auction in Connecticut this week.  I like old cars.  I could pay for some, but far from all the ones for sale there, but I have no place to keep one, so I just look, and take pictures of them.  I like taking pictures too.   But about half the cars at the auction are displayed in a parking garage at the Mohegan Sun casino, and resort.  That garage is brighter than it was last year, but it’s still a difficult place to photograph cars.  Frankly, it’s not a great place to examine cars you might want to buy either.  If I go back next year, I must remember to bring my big-boy Speedlite.

Driving from Uncasville CT to New York the other day, traffic was really bad.  So, I found myself wondering if people who live in Connecticut have jobs, homes, and families like the rest of us, or if they just drive aimlessly on I-95, and the Merritt Parkway.

If you haven’t been to Connecticut recently (as I hadn’t), you may be as surprised as I was to learn that they have finished I-95 east of New Haven.  I went to Binghamton NY two weeks ago, and was not surprised that they haven’t finished NY Rte 17.  I’ve been driving that road since I was 17, and I’ll probably die before it’s completed, if it ever is.

Earlier this month, I played radio dj for two hours.  It’s been a long time.  My first dj stint since college.  When I was paid to be on the air, I was doing news.  I’d say playing music on the radio is easier than it used to be.  The records are longer, the bathroom is much closer to the studio than it was at the last place I worked, and you don’t get to talk as much.  Still, I don’t think it’s as much fun.

The Proposed Laptop Ban

All of the reporting I’ve seen on proposed expansion of the laptop ban says they’re thinking of banning everything larger than a cell phone.  This, of course, would ban iPads and Kindles.  More important to me, it would ban digital cameras.

I could put my cameras (plural) and laptop in checked baggage.  They all fit in a backpack designed for the purpose.  However, they are all fragile and airplane baggage isn’t always (or even usually) handled carefully.  They are all portable, easy to steal since I can’t lock them up due to existing TSA baggage regulations, and once stolen they are easy to sell.  They aren’t necessarily easily replaced either and worst of all, each costs more than any US airline is willing to reimburse me if they are lost, stolen, or damaged.

I suppose this leaves me with two alternatives, if there really is an increased threat of bombs:  don’t fly; or insure and ship  that package to wherever I’m going ahead of time.  In this case, fortunately for me, I don’t fly nearly as much as I use my cameras. Unfortunately, if I want to go to Hawaii, or back to Europe, I can’t drive there.

And, does banning these things to the cargo hold ensure our safety?  What about the danger of fire from all the additional lithium-ion batteries in the cargo bay?  Can any bombs hidden in portable electronic devices be detonated remotely?  If so, shouldn’t we be lining the cargo holds of all commercial aircraft with Faraday cages?

Things I Know

For a long while now, the pop-up flash on my camera wouldn’t pop up.  I finally figured out why and fixed it.  I noticed that there appeared to be something in the crack between the camera body and the flash.  I cleaned it out with an Exacto knife and a little alcohol on a swab.  Then, the flash did open, and fire.  What was keeping the flash stuck closed?  Best guess is a drip from a chocolate ice cream cone.  New rule:  don’t eat a chocolate ice cream cone while your camera is hanging around your neck.

It’s larynx, not larnyx.  For some strange reason, the name of an organ we use to produce speech is among the most mispronounced words in the English language.

When the Colgate toothpaste TV commercial says, “80% of bacteria aren’t even on teeth,” it’s trying to make the point that bacteria lodge elsewhere in your mouth too.  But all I can think is that’s true.  A lot of the bacteria are in sewage treatment plants.

City fathers in Seaside Heights NJ have banned smoking on the beach.  Good.  I don’t smoke.  Second-hand smoke bothers me, but for me that’s not the real problem at the beach because the beach is outdoors, and it is a breezy place.  What bugs me is too many beaches look like the ashtrays that look like butt-filled cans of sand you often see outside elevators.  Cigarette butts are litter.

I’ve seen this word misused so many times, most recently earlier this month on the website of a major newspaper.  Your kids are your descendants.  They are not your ancestors.  Relatives who came before you are ancestors, not the ones who came afterwards.

If you’ve seen the current TV commercial for Pennington grass seed, you may wonder what the music behind the spot is.  It’s a song called “Tall Cool One,” by a group called the Wailers.  Not the Robert Plant song and not the Bob Marley Wailers either.  It was popular, but not a huge hit.  It reached #36 in the Billboard top 100 way back in 1959.  Whenever someone makes a TV commercial using a song that’s too old to play on the radio, I wonder why.  Are they trying to sell to people old enough to remember the song?  If that’s the case, it didn’t work for me.  I recognized “Tall Cool One” immediately, but instead of deciding to buy some grass seed, I went to my reference books to find out if it was whalers, or Wailers.  It was the second.

Things I Want (or Need) to Know

It’s a boy!  April, the internet giraffe, finally gave birth at the Animal Adventure Park in Harpursville NY.  Owners of the animal park announced they’re going to have a naming contest for the newborn baby giraffe.  Can Spotty McSpotface be far behind?

I recently watched a rerun of the PBS special, “50 Years with Peter, Paul and Mary.”  In all the years I’ve watched and listened to them, I only just noticed that the three of them sang into two microphones.  Peter had his own, but Mary and Paul shared one.  Why?  They could easily have afforded a third.

Have you ever seen the TV show “Expedition Unknown?”  Do you think Josh, the host, will ever find what he’s looking for at the start of an episode?

I like pepperoni, either on pizza, on Triscuits, or with scrambled eggs, but to me it tastes more like salt than pepper.  I know saltaroni sounds stupid.  Still, whenever I have it, I do wonder why they call it pepperoni since it doesn’t taste much like pepper.

BTW, if you like pepperoni, but aren’t fond of salami, don’t order pepperoni pizza in Pernik Bulgaria.  The pizza was good, better than I expected, but what they think of as pepperoni tasted like salami to me.

Have you seen the TV ad for gradsoflife.org?  Big deal.  I got through high school without a car, phone or computer too.  In fact, I also got through college without a phone or a computer.  Just to be clear, I think the cause is a good one, but I’m not impressed with the TV ad.

The supermarket tabloid, “US Weekly” said recently that Donald Trump and his wife don’t sleep in the same bed.  Whether that’s true or not, whose business is it?

Things I Know

It’s Palm Sunday, and I know what that means. I have one week to clear away all the stuff I have stored on the dining room table, and put the Christmas tablecloth away.

My friend, Richard (not Feder) and no longer of New Jersey, let alone Fort Lee has resumed blogging.  His blog is recommended by my blog.  You’ll find a link to the Riklblog below and to the right. I’m happy to see he has resumed writing it. 

I’ve complained previously that the audiologist I visit has no regard for punctuality.  Six days after my last visit, I received a post card telling me it was time for me to come in for a checkup.  Why did it come six days after my visit?  Because it was mailed three days after my visit.

I had two teeth pulled on Monday.  If I think of something that having teeth pulled is better than, I’ll let you know.  The oral surgeon gave me antibiotics to stave off infection.  But the pills are the biggest I’ve ever had.  I think they kill germs by crushing them to death.

If my daughter was right that the tooth fairy brings people my age dentures instead of money when we lose teeth, then she is late—very late.

The new principal at Harrisburg HS in Harrisburg PA reportedly suspended almost half the student body recently because those suspended had at least five unexcused absences in a nine-week period.  She has a point.  Going to school is important for learning.  It’s also an important discipline to learn because only showing up for a job when you feel like it will get you fired in the real world.  Public schools don’t have a lot of options for disciplining students either.  Still, if I understand correctly, the punishment for not going to school is not being allowed to go to school.  A lot of those kids are probably thinking, “Great!”

Too Much Is Too Much

I don’t have anything for the truck Big Brother and Big Sister is sending around, on Tuesday. I didn’t ask for a call back about a back brace. No, Diane, I don’t want my chimney cleaned, and if I did I wouldn’t use a company that violates federal law to try to sell me its services. I don’t need the interest lowered on my credit cards. What CVS/Caremark considers a courtesy call, I consider harassment, especially when I get two of them in half an hour. I can’t recall the last time I used the word plethora in a sentence, but there is a plethora of robocalls afoot today. Be careful, folks.

Time to Leave

Just after Nassau County NY Executive Ed Mangano, a Republican, delivered his state of the county address on Monday, Republican members of the Nassau County Legislature called on him to resign.  Mangano was arrested last October 20th on federal corruption charges.

Mangano said that his party’s members of the County Legislature have supported him from the day of his arrest until today and that their change of heart is motivated by political posturing.

He’s right.  But they’re right too, finally.  I would have liked it better if they were right before last November 1st.  Republican members of the Nassau County Legislature, what took you so long?

Perhaps the GOP legislators revised position came about because last week, Hempstead Town Councilman and Deputy Town Supervisor Edward Ambrosino was arrested and charged with evading something like 250 thousand dollars in income taxes on legal fees he received.  I’m guessing here that with two prominent officials facing federal charges GOP officials are concerned that it will impact this November’s election.  

Ambrosino should step down too. Hempstead Town Supervisor Anthony Santino did replace Ambrosino as Deputy Supervisor promptly, and also called for his resignation from the town council.  Ambrosino should listen to Santino.

Sadly, accusations of political corruption, and non-political corruption tied to politicians in New York State are neither isolated nor restricted to one party.  There’s a long list of public officials, on Long Island, in Albany, and in both parties, who have been convicted or have federal charges pending against them.

To be sure, unless and until these people are convicted or enter a guilty plea, they have a constitutional right to be presumed innocent.  Still, if a U.S. Attorney formally accuses you of a crime, your chances of getting acquitted are very small—much less than ten percent.

Someone elected to public office is said to occupy a “position of trust.”  It’s hard to trust someone who’s charged with a felony.  It’s also hard to be a leader when your followers stop following you.  So, I think elected officials should be a special case.  Yes, you’re presumed innocent until proven guilty, but if you are an elected official who is charged with a crime, I believe the honorable thing is to resign and concentrate on preparing your defense.

Things I Know

Keith Palmer is the British police officer who was killed in a terrorist attack on Westminster Bridge, and the British Parliament.  I know that British police have a tradition of going unarmed, but as the world is today, I’m surprised that all the police at a likely terrorist target such as the British Parliament are not armed.  Some are, but Palmer wasn’t.  If he had a gun, he might be alive today.  Arming all members of the security detail at Parliament is now being discussed.  It’s a smart move.

I think all terrorist attacks are awful, but Wednesday’s attack on the British Parliament was a little more personal for my wife and me than others we’ve heard of.  Three years ago, Saint Karen (she must be a saint to put up with me) and I were at the very location where the attack took place.

To be clear, the Republican proposal to repeal, and replace Obamacare didn’t fail because it cut too many benefits for American taxpayers.  It failed because members of the conservative, Republican, Freedom Caucus wanted more cuts. 

Considering that House Republicans has voted to repeal Obamacare multiple times a year for years, I was surprised that they didn’t have a workable alternative they could agree on ready to go back in January. 

Now, there’s talk of moderate Republicans in Congress trying to work with moderate Democrats instead of with the right wing of their own party.  I worked for Congress many years ago.  It would be nice to return to a time when Republicans and Democrats were people who disagreed with one another, not mortal enemies who must be battled to the death.  I don’t know how that stance evolved, but it’s not good for the country, and as far as I can see, it’s not good for Republicans or Democrats either.

My wife wanted me to put gas in her car, but I had to check whether I won the lottery first.  I told her if I was super rich, I might get a different car that already had gas in it instead.  I did win the lottery, but only a dollar, so I filled her car up with gas as she asked.

My daughter has a plan to show appreciation to her friends, and relatives if she wins a multi-million-dollar lottery.  She says she’ll gift those people with a nicely framed photo of her with the giant check.  I told her she didn’t really need to have the pictures framed, but she insists she’s a class act.

I’m sure Staples, the office supply store, knows what items make the most profit per square foot of retail space.  Still, it seems odd to me that there are dozens of office chairs in every Staples store I visit, but no desks.  I’d rather not buy a desk on line because I can’t tell how sturdy it is and if I find parts broken as I try to assemble it, repacking it to return to an on-line seller is a huge pain.

www.pseudodictionary.com is a website that contains words people have made up over its years in existence.  You must spell out the word, provide a definition, and use it in a sentence, just like vocabulary homework in high school.  I discovered the website recently and contributed three words I’ve made up, and used in this blog.  I used my real name in submitting these words, so if you can figure out which words, you can unmask me.

Occasionally, when I’m bored, I use the internet to look for people I used to know.  Unless they are or were very important in my life, I don’t try to reconnect.  I’m still good at being nosy, but need to practice to retain proficiency.

I’ve mentioned a few times here that I remember one high school girlfriend not because she was important to my life, but because I managed to humiliate myself in her presence more than I usually did with girls I dated.  The last time I wrote about her was last Christmas Eve when baking cookies reminded me that she sent me a care package of cookies during my Freshman year in college.

At that time, I hoped she and her husband were well and happy.  In my nosy, bored searches, I’ve since learned that her husband, Bill, passed away about two years ago.  Bill was a high school friend too, and we attended the same college.  My wife and I haven’t seen them in decades, but I’m still sorry to learn that he died.  I hope enough time has passed that Leslie’s memories of him are mostly of the good times, not of the grief she must have felt as he slipped away.  Even though I now know where she lives, I’ve changed my mind, and won’t be sending her any homemade cookies.

Maybe I’ll stop looking for people that way because sometimes I learn things I really don’t want to know.

I’m having a couple of teeth pulled tomorrow, so I wondered aloud at the dinner table whether the tooth fairy brings money to people my age.  My daughter said she didn’t.  According to my daughter, people  my age who lose teeth receive dentures from the tooth fairy, not cash.  She must get it from her mother, because God knows I’m completely normal.

Pathologically Punctual

I admit I am pathologically punctual, and although I understand how people get behind in their schedules during the day, I don’t understand how people in the medical profession are consistently late for their first appointment of the day.  Most people, anyway.  Every dentist I’ve ever used has been extremely punctual, throughout the day.  If you’re not on time when you start, you’ll never be on time.

Maybe I should have stayed in broadcasting.  At least there, I ran into some people who valued and understood the fact that they must be on time.  When I was on the air, broadcasting news, it made a difference if I was five seconds late starting.  If I was five seconds late finishing, I’d get cut off by a computer.

Case in point is Monday, when I had an 8:00 AM appointment to see an audiologist.  I was there at 8:00 AM.  The door was locked.  I phoned.  No answer.  The receptionist arrived a few minutes later.  No apology.  The audiologist came in at 8:10 and saw me at 8:15. No apology there either.  Not only that, but the audiologist seems completely unaware of time.  When I left the office, she told me to enjoy the rest of winter.  I already did that:  Monday was the first day of spring.

Things I Know

If, like me, you are Irish-American, diabetic, and planning to celebrate St. Patrick’s Day, be advised that corned beef and cabbage won’t do bad things to your blood-sugar level.  Potatoes and soda bread are another matter.

I saw a commercial for Scott’s Turf Builder lawn fertilizer.  The ad said now is the time to apply Turf Builder to my lawn.  I went outside to do just that, but I can’t find the lawn right now.

From prior to the recent snowfall, I’ve never seen this before, and I bet you haven’t either.  It’s a legally parked UPS truck.

Spam

This is supposedly where the idea of electronic communication being called spam comes from.

If you run your own blog and are new to it, feel free to welcome comments if you will.  However, I suggest you moderate the comments, and if you get one that doesn’t appear to relate to anything you’ve written, don’t publish it. 

What some spammers do is send out what seems like a real comment to test a blog.  Then, if the comment gets published, they start with the spam for Viagra, Cialis, etal.  I made that mistake at least once, and now I get at least one comment an hour that has nothing to do with what I’ve written. 

It’s too bad the people who do this never check back to see if the spam messages they send get published.  They won’t get published here.  Regular comments are more than welcome.  Spam comments aren’t welcome, and won’t get published, even if they are accompanied by spam, spam, spam, spam, baked beans, spam, spam and spam.

Things I Know

This just in, the minority leader of the U.S. Senate, New York Senator Charles Schumer, has called for a special prosecutor to investigate Russian Dressing.

I should have mentioned this much sooner.  I apologize.  Alan Colmes, the liberal political commentator, passed away recently from cancer at the age of 66.  Best known for the Fox News TV show, “Hannity and Colmes,” among the many places Alan hung his hat was talk radio station WABC, where he was called Alan B. Colmes.  His middle initial wasn’t B, it was S.  Early in both of our careers, I was the newsman on his Sunday music show on a now defunct Long Island radio station.  “Nice,” is a word anyone who ever knew him, including me, would use to describe him.  He was also kind and gracious to those of us he passed on his way up.  Condolences to his family and RIP Alan S. Colmes.

There are lots of local elections coming up for villages in New York State later this month.  Some New York villages vote at other times though, so if you live in a New York village, call village hall and ask.  I know there are people who only vote in national elections and people who don’t vote at all, but your vote counts most in the smallest jurisdictions because each vote is a larger part of the total in a more local election.

The League of Women Voters has accomplished a lot toward civic awareness even beyond its initial purpose of encouraging American women to participate once they could vote.  Because village elections are coming up, I attended a League of Women Voters candidate forum last night.  If I could bet every man, woman and child in the United States that I’ve attended more League of Woman Voters forums than they have, I’d win more than I’d lose, a lot more.  Still, nobody runs a more boring forum than the League of Women Voters.

It was meant to be.  I collect popular music.  Mine is a medium-sized collection of around 8,000 songs.  Joel Whitburn’s “Top Pop Singles” is a reference book that lists every song that made the Billboard top 100 charts.  My copy is a paperback and covers 1955-1993.  I’ve used it a lot over the last 24 years, and a paperback book that’s 24 years old is likely to be falling apart.  To nobody’s surprise, mine is.  So, I looked on line and found a hardcover version that covers 1955 through 2012.  It’s not the latest edition and it was on sale for $48.94, including tax and shipping.  I happened to have an Amazon gift card with a balance of guess how much?  $48.94!  I ordered the book.

Baseball causes warm weather.  I’ve told you that before.  So, when your team’s games are on the radio, please put the game on in your car and drive around with the windows down.  It will do a lot more toward making the weather warmer than waking up some dumb groundhog in early February in Pennsylvania.

Oscar Night in America

I don’t think it was a setup, or fake news if you will.  After all, the screw up on announcing the Oscar for best movie cast PricewaterhouseCoopers in a bad light.  The reputation of any of the giant accounting firms is important (as in worth a lot of money) to them, so I doubt PWC would go along with a fake announcement.

It might have been a legitimate mistake.  Mistakes do happen, or so I’ve heard.

On the other hand, perhaps “La La Land” won the popular vote, but “Moonlight” carried the Electoral College.

Things I Want (or Need) to Know

Can you believe that nine years of this nonsense passed on Friday, without notice?

Has the website Floridaman.com ceased operation?  Looks like it.  It’s a website that chronicled the adventures of some of the idiots who do idiotic things in Florida.  First, they didn’t post anything for four weeks.  Now, if you type the URL, there’s a note for the domain owner to contact the ISP.

Burger King, in its recent TV commercials has been touting its breakfast Croissan’wich made with “100% butter.  I don’t understand.  Wouldn’t a Croissan’wich made with 100% butter be butter, rather than a Croissan’wich?

There were 19 slices of bacon in each of the last three packages of Oscar Mayer bacon consumed in my family.  I don’t know about you, but when I have bacon for breakfast, I usually eat six slices, because I have no self-control, and six is the number that fits comfortably in my largest frying pan.  Depending on the size of your frying pan, and your level of self-control, you may eat anywhere from two slices up.  I don’t know anyone who has enough self-control to eat only one slice of bacon.  But all this leads me to one question:  do the people who sell Oscar Mayer bacon know that 19 is a prime number?

Amanda Knox claimed she had a lesbian experience in an Italian prison.  Why on earth did that qualify for the front page of the NY Daily News?

Do people who live in Australia refer to the United States as “up over?”

Are the chickens who manufacture the eggs we eat for breakfast trying to discourage us from eating them every day?  The reason I ask is there are seven days in a week, but eggs are sold in multiples of six.

What if there’s a guy with a heavy Indian accent, and a very American sounding name who actually does work for Microsoft support?

I’ve been battling a miserable cold.   You know, the kind where you go to bed and sleep, but in a couple of hours, you wake up basically drowning because of post-nasal drip.  This made me realize that post-nasal drip is a misnomer.  Shouldn’t it be pre-nasal drip, since it comes out before it gets to your nose?

Things I Know

I seem to be late mentioning this most years, but material posted to Sisyphusproject.org is copyright 2008 – 2017.  All rights reserved.

This isn’t a complaint, by any means, but I have noticed that the lady on the cover of Sports Illustrated’s 2017 swimsuit issue isn’t wearing a whole swimsuit.

The Powerball jackpot this Saturday night is $349,000,000!  And, since Monday is a holiday, if any of us win, we can’t collect until Tuesday.  Just in time, I have a new plan.  If I win, I will jump on the bed, but that won’t be the first thing I do.  First, I’ll giggle all day Sunday, and all day Monday as well.

Black Sabbath recently performed its “Final Concert” in the pioneer heavy-metal band’s hometown of Birmingham, UK.  So many performers have had much-ballyhooed final appearances, and then continued appearing, that I hereby propose a new law:  Once you’ve charged extra for a final appearance, you are no longer allowed to charge admission to any other shows you give for the rest of your life.  Maybe Black Sabbath will never do another concert, who knows?

I don’t want to stamp out live shows.  I want to do away with faux final appearances.  For example, I don’t know how many final appearances Barbra Streisand has made so far, but she’s got at least nine shows scheduled in 2017.

My wife and daughter both have jobs meeting the public.  I don’t.  I got a flu shot.  They didn’t.  All three of us got the flu.  But between Tamiflu and the fact that I got a flu shot, I was only sick for 48 hours.  They were sick for a week or more.  Flu shots and Tamiflu are both great stuff.  I recommend them highly.  My wife told me that if she doesn’t get a flu shot on her own this fall, I should drag her by the hair to get one.  I want her to get a flu shot, but me dragging her by the hair is never going to happen.

Congratulations to our son, and our daughter-in-law.  They are in contract to purchase their first house.

It might change in the future, but for now, I’m making a conscious effort not to discuss President Trump too much.  I didn’t vote for him, but he did win the election.  I do hope he calms down.  If he’s going to be the leader of the free world, he’s way too sensitive to criticism and way too defensive.

Post Game Analysis

So, which Super Bowl ad did you like best?  I liked Peter Fonda’s ad for Mercedes AMG.  I think you have to be a certain age to like that commercial, which I am.  I believe you must be wealthy for it to have the desired effect; I am not.

Ground Hog’s Day in Punxsutawney

What’s the point of Ground Hog’s Day? 

I’m talking about the day, not the movie, which is kind of funny.  Doesn’t Punxsutawney Phil always see his shadow because of TV lights?  Punxsutawney Phil is a fraud too, because according to Google Maps, Gobbler’s Nob is actually just outside the boundaries of the borough of Punxsutawney.  Also, the same map shows Punxsutawney is not far from Alaska, so it should be cold there at this time of year.  I mean Alaska, Pennsylvania, of course. 

I’ve been to western Pennsylvania, more than once.  I was tired of Winter before it started.  I’d like Spring to start soon too, but to the best of my knowledge, Spring has never showed up  in Punxsutawney, PA, in early February.

So, what’s the point of Ground Hog’s Day?

Things I Know

Sally Yates, acting U.S. Attorney General, instructed the Justice Department not to defend President Trump’s executive order restricting entry of people coming from seven predominantly Muslim countries.  She must have anticipated she’d be fired, and she would have been out of a job soon anyway.  So, as an action, it wasn’t very effective, but as a statement it was.  Being fired for not doing what the boss wants is pretty standard.  There are lots of jobs where being right is no excuse.  I’ve had more than one of those myself, although nowhere near as high profile.

For an added perspective on the President’s immigration restrictions, try listening to talk radio from  overseas.  LBC from London is an interesting one and they’ve been discussing this a lot lately.

If the restrictions were have even a pretense of making sense, shouldn’t they at least include Pakistan, Afghanistan and Saudi Arabia? 

Almost everyone now agrees it was wrong for the US Government to confine Japanese Americans to internment camps during World War II.  The fact that so many people do agree with the President’s ban on people entering the US from those seven countries makes it easier to understand why a lot of people agreed with locking Japanese Americans away something like 75 years ago.

Bernard Baruch, James Schlesinger and Daniel Moynihan, among others have observed something I’m paraphrasing because I can’t quote all three.  You’re entitled to your opinions.  You’re not entitled to your own facts.  Kelly Ann Conway talked about alternate facts on ABC last week.  There’s no such thing.  You can put forth different facts to support different sides of an argument, but you can’t cite different facts about how many people attended President Trump’s inauguration.  Crowd figures are estimates, so different sources can have different numbers, but the fact that fewer people attended President Trump’s inauguration than President Obama’s first inauguration is indisputable.  There are photos that show the later crowd was much smaller.  And the President of the United States has more important things to worry about anyway.

President Trump moved into 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue, aka The Trump House, on January 20th.  I’m kind of surprised he hasn’t had it painted gold yet.

If you hate some of your friends ranting endlessly about President Trump on Facebook, I recommend an add-in for the Internet Browser Chrome called Social Fixer.  It enables you to filter Facebook content so you don’t have to read all that stuff.  I don’t object to, or argue with anyone about, their political views. Everyone is entitled to them. What I hate is the same people telling me, and all their other friends how much they approve/love/dislike/hate Donald Trump multiple times a day, every day since last year in June.

For the record, I didn’t vote for him either. I also objected to the people who did that with respect to Secretary Clinton, but they have mostly stopped. By now I know what my political-rant Facebook friends think of President Trump. Whether they admire or despise him, it’s equally annoying. I also believe they aren’t changing anyone’s mind.

If the same people express the same views to the same audience repeatedly, and endlessly, it becomes annoying, even if I agree. Admittedly the political issues are more important, but if you told me multiple times every day for the last eight months that you hate asparagus, I’d be annoyed with you and I’d want Social Fixer to include an asparagus filter, although I hate asparagus too.

On an entirely different and much lighter subject, two weeks to pitchers and catchers.

#My President, #Yours too

The other day, I heard Sean Hannity on the radio saying it was wrong to try to delegitimize President Elect Trump.  He was correct.  It is wrong.  Come noon on Friday, Donald Trump will be your president and mine, even if you, like me, didn’t vote for him.

However, those people who kept the birther argument about President Obama going for most of his presidency were trying to do exactly the same thing, and that was wrong too.

Famed editorial cartoonist Herblock always used to depict Richard Nixon with an overly exaggerated five-o’clock shadow.  When Nixon was elected President, Herblock drew a cartoon of him in a barber chair, getting a shave.  He said every newly elected president was entitled to a free shave.  He continued to object to many of President Nixon’s policies, but didn’t depict him as needing a shave again.

I’m sure I will disagree with many of President Trump’s actions, but does still wanting to respect the office of President really make me a codger?

Things I Know

My sister is an elementary school teacher.  Recently, they had an active shooter drill at her school.  The kids were worried that it was real, not a drill, so she told them that if it was real, the principal had special code words to use to alert the staff to that.  She also told the kids she has a baseball bat she calls “Duke” for anyone who attacks the school. 

You may think Duke is no match for a school shooter.  Don’t be so sure.  During her years on earth, my sister, even without Duke, has mugged two muggers, and beat up a guy who tried to rob the ice cream store she used to work at as a teenager.  She punched one mugger in the face, and pushed the other one down the stairs in a New York City subway station.

What’s at least as scary as my sister is that kids that young understand, and ask intelligent questions about school shootings.  Even one school shooting was too many, but we’ve had so many that little kids are aware of them.

My local TV news told us about a new study that says any amount of exercise will “lower your risk of dying.”  Sorry, nope.  Exercise may increase your chance of living longer, but you will still die eventually, so your risk of dying remains the same:  100%.

I stayed a Boy Scout leader long after my son reached his 18th birthday.  Consequently, I have more technical outdoor gear than a lot of people my age.  This weekend, with temperatures under 20 degrees and more than 8 inches of snow on the ground, I got dressed to go shovel it.  As I did so, I noticed that one set of my thermal base layer was made in Honduras.  Don’t know why I never noticed it before, but when I did, I asked myself what people in Honduras know about the need to keep warm.  I didn’t have an answer, so I selected a different thermal base layer.

New word department.  If someone is acting so stupid that it’s really funny, they’re being imbisilly.

Here’s an example of why I say my wife, Saint Karen, must be a saint to put up with me.  We both battling a nasty virus for two weeks after Christmas.  It gives us stuffed noses, chest congestion, and a really awful, hacking cough.  Immediately after I failed at an extended effort to cough up a lung or two, she started coughing.  When she was finished, I looked at her, feigned annoyance and asked, “Why must you repeat everything I say?”

Our department of unnecessary detail hears from the NY Post which recently wrote a headline, “Columbia Professor Found Dead After Writing Suicide Notes.”  Well, he could not have died first, could he?

Things I Know

Our not the smartest thief department has read the news reports of a robbery at the Walgreen’s drug store nearest my home.  The thief reportedly escaped with 15 tubes of toothpaste, brand not specified.

Note to the UPS driver blocking my street the Thursday before Christmas:  I know UPS requires its drivers to always park illegally, still, if you’ve got to talk to my neighbor for several minutes, blocking both my driveway and the street while doing so, I have a problem with it.  In the future, if you park at the curb in front of my house so I can get by, I promise I won’t report you to your supervisor.

In case you encounter a moose while wandering around Alberta Canada, here’s the official government advice.  

Phone companies have the technology to block robocallers.  I don’t know what percentage of phone company revenue comes from robocallers, but I’m guessing the money is why the providers of telephone service don’t allow land-line customers to block them.  So, here’s a suggestion.  If you cancel your land line, tell the telephone company that their refusal to provide a tool to block robocallers is the reason.  If enough people do that, maybe it will move the companies to help us block them.  It’s a thought, and a hope, anyway.

It would be wrong, but reasonable to assume that everyone’s nether regions are in the Netherlands. 

I have a lot of problems dealing with CVS Caremark with respect to mail-order prescriptions.  It seems to me that every error that they make is in their favor too.  Here’s one thought to improve their customer service:  Calls I make typically take an hour or more, including being placed on hold several times for prolonged periods.  So, I suggest they get a second piece of hold music.

Actor Alan Thicke passed away in mid December, after suffering a heart attack while playing ice hockey.  My daughter commented that if you must die, many Canadians would prefer to die playing hockey.

According to all the supermarket tabloids, Tarek and Christina’s marriage appears to be at an end, so maybe HGTV should change the promos it’s currently running for their show, Flip or Flop.

Cookies are for Christmas

chocolate-chips-12-22-16

It’s hard for me to believe that I’ve been writing this blog for almost nine years now.  The third story I ever told here was about a high-school girlfriend named Leslie.  I was reminded of that blog post, and of Leslie the other day because I have been baking, and eating too many chocolate chip cookies leading up to Christmas. 

The cookies reminded me of Leslie because when I was a Freshman in college, long after we broke up, she sent me a box full of delicious, homemade cookies.  She didn’t want to rekindle something between us that had never really caught fire in the first place.  She said she felt like baking, and didn’t want the cookies to go to her hips.  So, she sent them to my hips, instead.  I gained a few pounds eating those cookies.  I’ve also gained two or three pounds eating the cookies I made this week. 

Leslie and her husband invited Saint Karen (who must be a saint to put up with me) and me to their place in New Jersey during the first year we were married.  I don’t think I’ve seen them since.  While I hope they are well, and have had a happy life, I don’t know where they are.  If I did, I’d send the cookies I made this week to Leslie’s hips so I wouldn’t eat the rest of them.

Revenge is sweet; so are cookies.

Things I Want (or Need) to Know

Since the first night of Hanukkah and Christmas Eve coincide this year, who’s going to anchor the TV news tomorrow night?

Now that the electoral college has voted, how soon after he takes office before one of the sore losers begins impeachment proceedings against President Trump?  I didn’t vote for either one of them.  Still, I hope the level of sore losing exhibited by many Clinton supporters proves unfounded.  I already think it’s unprecedented, at least in my lifetime.  I suggest it’s time to stop name calling, and to save the criticism for things he proposes and things he actually does.

Do the people who want to do away with the electoral college want to do away with the U.S. Senate and allow Congressional district lines to cross state lines too?  I mean that would only be consistent, right?

Have the people who want to do away with the electoral college considered that it would require an amendment to the US Constitution, and amending the Constitution isn’t a one person-one vote proposition either?  It requires ratification by two thirds of the states.  Does anyone think Utah, Nebraska, Montana, or either Dakota among others would ever vote to abolish the electoral college?

Joan Baez has been elected to the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame.  Isn’t that all the evidence you need that the place needs to change its name?  No quarrels about her as a musician or as a cultural figure.  But I am unaware of any song she’s ever sung that would be considered rock.

What’s the point of security cameras when the images are usually so blurry you can’t recognize anyone in the picture or read a license plate either?

Bath sheets are about 80 percent larger than bath towels, so why do they cost twice as much?

Things I Want (or Need) to Know

How does one judge progress on the comment front?  This week, most of them were still plugging drugs for the treatment of erectile disfunction, but one was for Propecia, which is a treatment for baldness.  I spared you all of them.

A Southwest flight en route from Philadelphia to Orlando was diverted recently when a woman passenger gave birth in the air.  I couldn’t help wondering if the new mom had to buy a seat for the kid, and whether that airline charges an in-flight birth fee.

As the holiday season is upon us, I’m compelled to ask, if the President of the United States is the most powerful person in the world, what the hell is he doing pardoning turkeys?  And why do the media cover it?

Also since the holiday season is upon us, isn’t egg nog redundant?  What other kind of nog can you drink besides egg nog?

Woodbury Commons is a large outlet mall, north of New York City, near where NY Rte 17 joins the New York State Thruway.  During the holiday season, you can take a helicopter from Manhattan to the shopping center and back for the low, low price of $390.  If you can afford that, why are you shopping at an outlet mall?

Why is the second “C” in Connecticut silent?

Do you like creamy or tangy coleslaw?  I like tangy.  The only time I eat creamy is to taste it to find out if it’s tangy.

If mice is the plural of mouse, shouldn’t hice be the plural of house?

My wife watches the Animal Planet show, “My Cat from Hell.”  I was walking through the living room during the opening shot of the host, Jackson Galaxy, driving along.  You could only see the interior, but obviously, a convertible and obviously old, because it has vent windows.  I took one look and asked, “Why is he driving such an old Lincoln?  When he parked, you could see it was a ’57 Lincoln convertible.

But that’s not my question.  What I want to know is how I can instantly recognize the interior of a sixty-year-old car, but I don’t know anything that would make me a ton of money, or remember the name of anyone I met yesterday?

Things I Know

Today is Thanksgiving for every turkey that survived yesterday.

Aretha Franklin took four minutes and thirty-five seconds to sing the National Anthem at the Lions-Vikings game on Thanksgiving Day.  Anyone who takes more than one-and-a-half or two minutes to sing that song is showing off more than singing.  Still, even at age 74, Aretha Franklin sings wonderfully.  She’s a national treasure and has, no need to show off.

Our founding fathers did not want to develop a governmental class in this country.  They expected people to come into government and then leave.  George Washington was elected President in 1789.  Donald Trump was elected in 2016.  There’s no way to tell at this late date of course, but I bet our founding fathers would be astonished that it took 227 years for a President to be elected who had no governmental or military experience.

Social Fixer is an extension for the Chrome internet browser.  It is better than nothing for ridding your Facebook wall of endless comments your friends insist on continuing to make, whining or gloating about the recently concluded Presidential election.

Things I Know

The NY Post reported on Sunday that Melania Trump and ten-year-old Baron Trump will not be moving to the White House in late January, so that Baron won’t have to change schools during the school year.  That’s kind of common when someone takes a new job during their child’s school year.  Still, if the report is true, it would not be a good idea to assume that the Secret Service and the NYPD are delighted.

I got 43 comments on my “Not My President” blog item.  All of them were trying to sell us Cialis or Viagra, so I spared you.  Comments are welcomed.  Spam isn’t.

My daughter voted for Hillary.  Her reaction to Trump’s election, “But you need two years of experience to be a receptionist.”

I get so many snail-mail ads for Verizon FIOS TV that my phone bill occasionally slips through the cracks.

One of the silliest Christmas gifts I’ve seen on sale this year is a down-insulated skirt.  I can see how that might make it a little warmer to sit down on a cold surface, but all skirts are open on the bottom, which is what makes them skirts after all.  And, because they’re open on the bottom, I don’t see how the skirt being insulated does much to insulate the person wearing it.

Irrelevant Popular Vote

To those people who say Hillary Clinton won the popular vote, and, therefore, should be our next president: that’s irrelevant.  It’s a little like saying that the Cleveland Indians should have won the World Series because the Cavs had more three pointers than the Cubs.  The World Series wasn’t determined based on basketball prowess, and the race for President didn’t hinge on popular vote. 

In addition, please consider this.  If the contest were for popular rather than electoral votes, the two candidates would have campaigned differently.  The outcome might have been the same or different, but I guarantee you that one way or another the vote totals would have changed.

You may ask why.  It’s simple, the two candidates’ campaigns would have concentrated more on population centers.  In 2016, New Hampshire with its three electoral votes was a battleground state.  With such a small population, do you think either candidate would have spent any time in New Hampshire if it were the popular vote that counted?

Except for a small handful of states that have changed the way they distribute electoral votes (Maine is one), in all the other states, whichever candidate wins the popular vote in the state gets all the electoral votes.

So, under the current system, Hillary Clinton got all the electoral college votes from California, Illinois, and New York; Donald Trump got nothing.  If the popular vote counted, Hillary would have gotten the majority of votes from these three states, but votes Trump received would have counted too.

Then, there’s the issue of voter motivation.  If you think your candidate is going to win in a landslide, you might not bother to vote.  If you think your candidate has no chance, you might also stay home.  If the national vote totals counted, you’d be more likely to vote for your candidate, even if the other candidate were stronger where you live.

The founding fathers deliberately created a system that didn’t rely solely on the popular vote.  The Electoral College is one example.  The Senate is another.  They intended to limit the strength of the masses and to increase the influence of the less populous, more agricultural states.  Should we change it?  Maybe, but it’s not easy, and it would take a long time.  It would require a constitutional amendment.  Should we also change the Senate for the same reasons?  Would that ever pass the Senate?

Had popular vote counted in the just completed Presidential election, the vote totals would certainly have changed and the change would not have guaranteed that Hillary Clinton would now be President-elect.

#NotMyPresident

On Wednesday, after the election, I posted on Facebook my hope that people would stop hectoring each other about politics, at least for a little while.  That post attracted two of my friends who hectored each other about politics in the comments.  So, I guess it’s over, but it’s not over.

President-elect Donald Trump was heavily criticized for saying he might not accept the result of the election.  He’s not saying it was rigged anymore, is he?  And he has accepted the result too.  Secretary Clinton and President Obama have also accepted it.  The President is meeting with the President-elect at the White House today.

To be clear, I didn’t vote for Trump or Clinton.  But the people who disturb me are the ones who have taken to the streets demonstrating, and perhaps even rioting.  Among the things they chanted, and a hashtag on the internet, “Not My President.”  Well, not yet, but effective January 20th, when he moves into 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue in Washington, and renames it the Trump House, yes he will be.

One of the things America has always been rightly proud of is its peaceful transition of power.  Let’s keep it that way, please.  Give the guy a chance.  Even if you did vote for him, you won’t like everything he does as President.  It’s the nature of the job.

His impact on the country is likely to last beyond his Presidency because there’s one vacancy now, and there are a lot of old judges on the Supreme Court.  With a Republican-controlled Congress he shouldn’t have any trouble getting one appointee through.  It’s not beyond the realm of possibility that he’ll get to appoint two or three justices before the end of his first term. 

As for the rest of it, if he screws up terribly, the American people will have a chance to thwart him by changing the House and Senate in just two years.  For most of the past eight years, Congress and the President have been battling each other constantly.  It might be nice to have the two bodies largely in agreement, if only for a short time. 

That is, by the way, the beauty of a parliamentary system. The prime minister and the parliament agree.  There’s usually some compromise involved because countries that have parliaments often have multiple political parties, so instead of one party being in charge it’s often a coalition.  In the event the parliament and the prime minister disagree significantly, they don’t wait for the next election.  They hold a vote of no confidence, hold a new election and vote for a government that will agree.

Election 2016

Here’s the thing.  Never in American political history have two more unpopular people run as major-party candidates for the Presidency.  I have a theory about why issues played practically no role in the campaign.  Each candidate set about trying to convince the voting public that the other was more unlikable.  So, the Presidential campaign was even more about personal attacks than it usually is.  If you wonder why political campaigns often descend to the level of personal attack, the answer is simple:  they work.  So, by the way, does pandering.

Back when I was on Congressional staff, I made a satirical political radio commercial that was never intended to air, and never did.  It was to be played at a victory party, if there was one.  The commercial said, “Vote for me because my opponent is a son of a bitch and I’m a really swell guy.”  Because of the tone of the 2016 Presidential campaign, I’m surprised that my idea wasn’t used this year.

I always vote.  I only missed one time, when I didn’t live where I was registered.  I’ve even voted by absentee ballot in a school board election.  This year, I don’t know what to tell you.  I will vote tomorrow, but right now, I think I’ll skip the first office on the ballot. 

In a few months, maybe I can make a ton of money selling bumper stickers that say, “Don’t blame me:  I didn’t vote for either one.”

Things I Know

Over the weekend, every Democrat on the national political scene called FBI Director James Comey’s letter to Congress, “unprecedented.”  What may have happened is unprecedented.  The FBI exposes crimes, and possible crimes all the time.

Comey is in a damned if you do, and damned if you don’t situation.  He revealed the possible existence of new, previously concealed emails from Hillary Clinton.  Remember, that’s possible existence, not existence, or at least not existence yet.  If there’s nothing there, he’ll possibly have influenced the Presidential election.  If he didn’t reveal them, and they prove to be something, he would be excoriated for a cover up. Remember too, nothing that’s covered up ever stays covered up.

I know that Huma Abedin and Anthony Weiner are both public figures, but how can anyone, even two anyones, have 650-thousand emails on one laptop computer, and why would two high-level government officials share one laptop for work?

To be clear, I am a person who always votes.  I once voted by absentee ballot in a school board election, but I’m so appalled by the choices we face next week that I may not cast a vote for President this year.

There will be baseball in Cleveland on Tuesday.  I’d like to see the Cubs win the World Series, but more than that, I would have hated to see the Indians win it at Wrigley Field.

Dos Equis beer has a new most interesting man in the world.  He can tie one hand behind his back with one hand tied behind his back.  I guess a new most interesting man makes sense; they shot the old one into space a while ago.

I am astonished that Ammon and Ryan Bundy, and their cohort were acquitted recently on charges stemming from their occupation of federal land in Oregon last year.  I can’t fathom what the jury could possibly have been thinking, or whether they were thinking at all.

Things I Know

Last week, I was observing to my wife that even though the election was only three weeks away (and now less than two), we hadn’t heard a word from either New York Senator Charles Schumer, or his opponent, Wendy Long.  The thought was hardly out of my mouth when a deluge of commercials began for Senator Schumer, including one featuring a guy I used to work with, Jeff Veatch.

Nassau County Executive Ed Mangano and Oyster Bay Supervisor John Venditto were indicted last week on federal corruption charges.  If they did what they’re charged with doing they may have thrown the Republicans running in Nassau County, NY under the bus.  More than that, they may swing the majority in the New York State Legislature from Republican to Democratic too.  Republicans only hold the majority because of a coalition with some rebellious Democrats.  Only one or two seats changing hands could repaint the entire picture.  Damage is done even if they’re both acquitted because their trials will take place long after the election.

Five women I went to high school with wished my wife and me a happy wedding anniversary recently on Facebook.  Saint Karen (she must be a saint to put up with me) and I have similar senses of humor.  We each thought perhaps they were all thinking, “Better her than me.”

A year ago, around this time, I complained about how much the Nissan dealer charged me to replace tire pressure monitors.  I replaced two of them in two months.  At least one more has failed, but I haven’t replaced it.  I’ve decided to live with the warning light lit up.  After all, I have two tire gauges and the two of them together are much less expensive than the inflated (Sorry.  I couldn’t help myself) price the dealer charges for one TPMS replacement sensor.  But, I probably will replace the two remaining sensors soon, when I need new tires on the truck.

I’ve been informed that the idea of having Charlie Sheen throw out the first pitch in a Cleveland World Series Game was widely discussed on sports talk radio in Cleveland.  The consensus was that Sheen’s antics as the character Ricky Vaughn in the movie “Major League” were funny.  Sheen’s antics in real life, much less so.  I just thought it would be funny.  I also think it would be funny to have Bob Uecker in the broadcast booth for a little while during a game.  Uecker was the Cleveland play-by-play announcer in the same movie. Uecker is 81 and retired, so I don’t know if he would be interested, or able to do that, but it would also be amusing.

World Series

No prediction from me, but I do hope the Cubs win.  Generally, I root for two teams, the Mets, and whoever is playing the Dodgers.  The Cubs beat the Dodgers, so I hope they beat the Indians too.

With respect to the Indians, I hope that somebody who works for the team thought to invite Charlie Sheen to throw out the first pitch in one of the Cleveland home games.  If they do invite him, of course they should give him an Indians jersey with 99 on the back.

charlie

Things I Know

When all the accusations emerged about Donald Trump and sexual misconduct, because there were so many, at first I thought most if not all of them must be true.  Then, I thought it could be the best orchestrated last-minute smear in political campaign history.  But, those two things are not mutually exclusive, are they?

If the accusations are true, and I have no way of knowing, it would have been useful to know these things during the primary season.

Polls still indicate that both Trump and Hillary have unfavorable ratings over 50%.  Those poll results seem entirely reasonable to me.

It is amazing to me that the leaks of Hillary’s email haven’t gained more traction, but the Trump campaign has made so many mistakes he might even lose if he were running unopposed.

I bought an auto mechanic’s creeper seat the other day and used it to paint the foundation of my house, by wheeling it along the driveway and patio.  I thought it might be great for interior painting too, but I used it on the porch.   The wheels are designed for hard surfaces, so they left an impression in my porch’s pine decking.  If I want to paint baseboards with it, I’ll probably have to put different casters on it.

Back to our family vacation.  The US Department of Defense runs a resort at Disney World for active duty and retired military personnel.  It’s called “Shades of Green.”  If you visited Disney a long time ago, it used to be the Disney Golf Resort.  Twice a year, in September and January, they make it available to anyone who served in the military and was honorably discharged.  I fit in that category, so my wife and I were honored to be able to stay there.  It’s very nice.  And, it’s self-sufficient.  It doesn’t cost the taxpayers anything to run it.

Our daughter-in-law, when she travels, takes quite a few photos at night.  I like them a lot, so I’ve started doing the same thing.  I got a Halloween-theme picture of Mickey on Main Street in the Magic Kingdom.

main-street-at-night_edited-1

After the Orlando theme parks, we spent a couple of days at Siesta Key on Florida’s west coast.  It’s the nicest beach I’ve ever been to.  I wanted to swim in the Gulf of Mexico and take sunset pictures.  No gulf swimming because of red tide, but I did capture a few pictures of sunset.

siesta-sunset_edited-1

Finally, we headed back to Orlando and flew home a week before Matthew hit.  We had a lovely time.   As winter looms, I find myself wanting to move to Florida.

Things I Know

I’ve been away and I’m going to fill you in or bore you to death.  Your choice.  But first, I’d like to deal with a couple of events that happened while I was gone.

And speaking of gone, I don’t think baseball will be quite the same with Vin Scully gone.

When John Stumpf, CEO of Wells Fargo bank testified before Congress, I found myself guessing that many employees didn’t come up with the idea of opening fraudulent accounts without some boss, or bosses pushing them toward it.

The Presidential debate didn’t change my mind.  I still don’t like either of them.

Gary Johnson is never going to be elected President running on the Libertarian Party ticket, but he sure didn’t help getting his ideas out there with his recent foreign policy goofs.   East Korea Gary?  Really?

Saint Karen (who has to be a saint to put up with me) and I have been vacationing in Florida.  I’d like to move there, but our vacation has made me reexamine things.  Saint Karen thinks Florida is too hot.  That’s nonsense.  Our house in the New York metropolitan area isn’t air conditioned.  It’s hard to find a house in Florida that isn’t air conditioned.  So, if we moved there, she’d enjoy AC and I’d be cold all the time because she turns it down and I turn it up.  Something to bicker about.  Not something new, because we generally don’t bicker now.

New theory:  Florida is so much warmer than a lot of other places because they have fire-breathing dragons there.

dragon-fire_edited-1

We spent three nights at the Portofino Bay Resort Hotel in Orlando, FL.  It’s one of the hotels associated with Universal Studios Florida theme park.  It’s nice, but it’s expensive.  A few minor things went wrong, but the hotel stepped up to fix them just fine.  Things always go wrong from time to time, so isn’t how things get fixed the real test?

Lindsay at the concierge desk was able to switch my reservation for the Blue Man Group show from Thursday night to Friday night, with no extra charge to me.   I was hoping to take a nap before a Thursday night show, but we had a late check in and without a nap, I was too tired to go.  So, kudos to Lindsay.  The late check in, by the way, is one of the things the hotel stepped up to make amends for.

The Blue Man Group was very good, but extremely noisy.  Before the show, they tell you to turn off all electronic devices.  In case you’re wondering, unless you’re profoundly deaf, you can include hearing aids in that.

This isn’t a complaint about this hotel, but about the hotel industry in general.  Services that are common at lesser hotels frequently carry additional fees at full-service ones.  I have never heard of a hotel where the rooms cost over $200 a night that provided a free continental breakfast.  And, honestly, luxury hotels, free WiFi is almost a basic human right by now.  You don’t charge for cable TV anymore, so stop charging for high-speed internet.  Less expensive hotels don’t, and your Internet isn’t any better than theirs.

We’re on vacation to lift my wife’s spirits.  She had surgery recently.  But, because of the surgery, she didn’t think it wise to ride the roller coasters.  If you’re not going to ride roller coasters, I’d say there isn’t a lot for you at the Universal theme parks.  Also, in late September, the hours are short and they have a separate Hallowe’en event with separate admission after the day’s attendees are turned out.  Admission to the theme parks is costly too and I didn’t like that separate second admission at all.

More on our travels next time.

Facebook Friends

How do Facebook and Linked-In come up with all the people they think you might know?

Both of them have suggested I might know the woman I took to my high school senior prom.  I do, but we stopped dating about five months after I graduated from high school.  She introduced me to my wife the first of three times we met before I noticed.  Since I was dating her at the time, I didn’t pay any attention to the lovely Saint Karen (who must be a saint to put up with me).  My wife teased me about that for years.  I only see her at my wife’s high school reunions where we always seems to sit together at the Saturday night banquet.  I wind up saying how nice her parents were to me, and apologizing all over again for being such a jerk when I broke up with her. 

I was a jerk, which is why I keep saying I’m sorry about that.  I have nothing against her.  I hope she has nothing against me too, but I’m pretty sure neither one of us feels the need to share our deepest Facebook thoughts with the other.  Curiously, Facebook has never suggested I might know the woman I took to my high school junior prom, but I do.  I’d describe the current state of my family’s relationship with her and hers as Christmas-card friends.

The reason I bring this up now is that last week, Facebook suggested I might know singer Billy Joel’s first wife.  Where in the world did they get that from?  Did Facebook suggest she might know me too?  I haven’t received a friend request from her, and I haven’t sent one to her either.  We have met, long before she met Billy, but I’m sure she wouldn’t remember.  In grade school, I was friends with one of her older brothers.  I used to go over to their house where we would play with his model trains and I would read “Tales from the Crypt” comics.  My mom wouldn’t let me buy those, so I read them at his house. 

How closely do people’s paths have to come before Facebook suggests them as possible friends?  I have either met or known someone who has met four New York governors, one Nevada governor, one Virginia governor, a California governor, four (now that I think about it, maybe five, and maybe even more) U.S. Presidents and one of the richest people in the world.  None of that has ever done me any good at all.  Some of those people have since passed on, but perhaps things would be different for me if Facebook had only suggested that the rest of us become friends.

Things I Know

During the Olympics, I keep wondering when Michael Phelps is going to forget and dive into that pool still wearing his headphones.

The AP reported on August 11, that 70 prominent Republicans had signed a letter to the Republican National Committee asking it to stop helping Donald Trump.  We should also see a letter asking Donald Trump to stop helping Hillary Clinton.

A man in Georgia was arrested recently because he lost his temper at his wife.  In doing so, he yelled at her, spit on her and prevented her and their daughter from calling 911.  According to the wife, he had a history of violence against her.  What set him off?  She made a grilled cheese sandwich with three slices of cheese, when he wanted two.

“A man you can bait with a tweet is not a man you can trust with nuclear weapons.”  That’s Hillary Clinton’s strongest argument against a Trump presidency. Trump’s impulsiveness is a big concern to a lot of people.

Have you seen the TV ad the Clinton campaign is running?  The one that features Donald Trump saying nice things about her, including that he thought she’d be a good president.  If I were her, I am not certain I’d run any other.

I don’t think Mrs. Clinton succeeded in redefining herself at the Democratic National Convention and I don’t think Trump has tried to redefine himself.  I don’t think either of them can.  These are probably the two best known and least liked major party candidates ever to seek election to the US presidency as non-incumbents.  Also the oldest.  Whichever of the two is elected President will be older than any previous US President beginning his or her first term.

I’d really like to return to the political system where we didn’t hear much from the major-party presidential candidates between the conventions and Labor Day.

Last year, my phone company, let’s call it Horizon, okay? Anyway, Horizon wouldn’t repair my copper, land-line phone service, so I was forced to switch to Horizon’s fiber-optic service, or switch to my cable system’s phones which are also fiber-optic.  I am aware of the benefits of fiber, but I didn’t want to switch because of the main disadvantage:  fiber-optic phones depend on the electric utility for power while copper phones have independent power.  I lived through Sandy and had no outside power for four days, but my phone still worked.  I’m not complaining about the power, by the way.  The local electric company worked round-the-clock to fix things, and a lot of people suffered much worse damage than I did.  Some of those houses are still uninhabitable.  Last month, my phone’s battery died.  It’s not a little one.  The battery would probably start my lawn mower.  I was not happy.  Horizon sent me a new battery for free and sent it overnight.  I was happy about that, because sometimes the best description for Horizon service of its equipment in customers’ homes is “glacial.”  But, this battery is supposed to be serviced by the customer, and since that’s true, it would be nice if the wires connecting the battery were a little longer, the battery compartment was a little bigger and the battery cover was easy to put back on.  I finally got the battery connected. I had to grow a third hand to do it, but I haven’t figured out how to reattach the cover yet.

Things I Want (or Need) to Know

Have you seen the new Liberty Mutual Insurance commercial that tells you that you already know what winning an Olympic medal is like?  No, I don’t.  Frankly, I’d rather the young lady call me Brad and that isn’t my name.

What’s the most clichéd question in the world?  I think it’s asking a really old person the secret of their long life.  Al Roker asked Tony Bennett that on the Today Show recently, on his 90th birthday.  Al (and everyone else), the secret to a long life is don’t die.  It really is that simple.

Do empty, light-weight, plastic garbage pails set at the curb cause strong winds?  That’s my working hypothesis, anyway.

If English made any sense, wouldn’t great and meat rhyme?

Superstitious is a word.  I know that.  What about stitious?

You may wonder why I say my wife, Saint Karen, has to be a saint to put up with me.  Well, last night, I told her that if I have made her even half as happy as she has made me over the years, she is one lucky woman.

The latest Jaguar commercial starts out, “Being British, it’s not in our nature to boast.”  Isn’t that a boast?

How long has it been since you last saw a reel-type lawnmower that doesn’t have a motor?  Every power mower at my local Home Depot is a rotary. I bet more than half the people alive today in the United States haven’t even seen a reel-type mower that does have a motor.  They cut grass better than a rotary mower does, but they don’t cut certain kinds of common weeds at all.  I’m guessing that’s why they fell out of favor.

The Food Network’s website has a feature called “50 states, 50 pizzas,” in which they say they have discovered the best slice in every state.  Is it wrong for me, as a person from New York, to maintain that some states don’t have a best slice?  I’ve been to Alabama.  I haven’t tried BLT From Trattoria Centrale: Birmingham, Alabama, but it doesn’t sound good to me.

Are UPS trucks even capable of parking legally?

Things I Know

Donald Trump urging the Russians to try to find Hillary’s missing thirty-thousand emails.  It was funny, it got Hillary’s emails into the news again, and the Russians didn’t need Trump to suggest it.

The Democrats blaming the Russians for the DNC email leaks.  If the Russians were responsible, that was wrong.  Foreign nationals and foreign governments are not supposed to try to influence US elections.  But, blaming the Russians was an attempt to change the focus of the story.  Nobody denied the facts revealed in the DNC email leaks.  Bernie always wants to be left, but he was right that the DNC was against him.

Bill and Hillary Clinton each get paid a lot of money to make speeches.  Still, I bet they did their speeches this week in Philadelphia for free.

Rep.  Debbie Wasserman Schultz seems to have been fired from her job as Chairperson of the Democratic National Committee.  So, she resigned, effective at the end of this week.  When I was in radio, we used to call that leaving by mutual consent:  the boss said, “you’re fired,” and you said, “If that’s the way you feel about it, I don’t want to work here anymore.”

It’s fun to see that both the Republicans and the Democrats have party unity issues.

Protestors at the Democratic convention seem to me to be louder than the ones at the Republican convention.  What do you think?

In order to appeal to younger voters, my daughter suggests the Republicans call their 2020 convention “Republicon.”  She’s trying to tack con onto the word Democrat too, but hasn’t come up with a euphonic way to achieve that.  Democon would work, but it could also mean a convention of pollsters.

With the recent departure of Roger Ailes from Fox News, and reports that he’s being paid some $40 million to depart, I’m reminded once again that the highest paid job in network TV appears to be leaving your job.

I can tell you from first-hand experience that leaving your job in local radio is more likely to cost you money than to make you any.

Sprinkles (or if you prefer, Jimmies) come in different colors, but they’re all the same flavor.

If you’re going to pull off to the side of the road, pull off to the side of the road.  Don’t park with the rear end of your car stuck so far out into traffic that you choke two lanes of traffic down to one.

It’s one thing to run a red light.  It’s quite another thing to get angry at me and the other driver who just managed to avoid hitting you when you ran the red light.

If a road crew fills a pothole, it would be good if someone, maybe a supervisor, came by later to see if the thing sank and needs to be filled some more.

If they don’t repave Main Street in Hempstead NY, south of Front Street pretty soon, I’m going to stop driving on it until someone else agrees to pay for the damage to the suspension on my car.

The spell checker I use now says ginormous is a real word.  Egantic, though, still isn’t.

GOP Convention Short Takes

For the first time since I was eligible to vote, I don’t know if I’m even going to vote for President this year.  Like many people, I’m not keen on either the Democrat or the Republican candidate.  This is reflected in the fact that both of them have extremely high negatives in voter polls.

One of two things happened the other night when Ted Cruz spoke at the Republican Presidential Convention.  He may have been the guy lots of people consider him to be–someone who insists on being right and on sticking that in your face.  Or he took a tremendous political gamble, one which will only pay off if Donald Trump goes down in flames, but will kill Cruz’ political career if Trump is elected and goes on to a successful presidency, and may kill Cruz’ career anyway.

Either way, the polite thing to do would have been to pass on speaking at the convention. I understand not supporting someone who made personal attacks on your father and your wife.  I wouldn’t either.  Still, in my opinion, what he did was the equivalent of having a fight with the birthday boy, showing up at the party anyway, and defecating on the birthday cake.

I’m not going to watch gavel-to-gavel coverage of Philadelphia either, but if I have any opinions on what goes on there, I’ll let you know here.

Things I Know

It was hard for me to believe, but Trevor Noah said something funny the other day.  I’m not in the demographic the Comedy Channel is targeting with the Daily Show, so they probably don’t care, but I just don’t find Mr. Noah. Funny.  YMMV.  But the other night, he was joking about breaking into Donald Trump’s house.  He said it was easy to defeat the alarm system because the password was TRUMP.

I told Saint Karen (who has to be a saint to put up with me) a terrible joke.  Those are the best kind.  I think it was, what do you call a patronizing criminal who is going downstairs?  You know, a condescending con descending.  She made a face, that face.  Before she could say a word, I said, “You knew long before you married me.”  She admitted that’s true, and that’s one of the reasons I love her.

This morning, while we were both looking for my wallet, she said I was driving her crazy.  I told her I’m pretty sure she’s immune.  After all, it has never taken me this long to make anyone else nuts.

I recorded CBS Sunday Morning on my DVR.  I started watching it 18 minutes after it began.  By fast forwarding through the teases and the commercials, it took me 41 minutes to catch up. 

We need to try again to understand the meaning of the word “after.”  NY Post headline: “Man injured after suicide attempt at mall.”  I’m just guessing here, but the suicide attempt is probably what caused him to be injured.  Man injured by suicide attempt at mall, would be more accurate. 

I’m disappointed.  While I came up with the pun “electile dysfunction” all by myself, I Googled it afterwards and found lots of other people came up with it both independently and before I did.

Addenda

It has been called to my attention that another Supreme Court Justice, Sandra Day O’Connor, expressed her hope that George H.W. Bush would be elected over Michael Dukakis in a 1988 pre-election letter to Senator Barry Goldwater.  To be bipartisan about it, I think that was inappropriate as well, but Justice O’Connor’s statement wasn’t made public for many years after that election.

Too many people in this country judge public figures’ actions by whether they agree with the public figures’ politics.  I wish that wasn’t so.

I’ve been challenged too by someone who says the judicial canon I quoted yesterday doesn’t apply to the U.S. Supreme Court.  I am not a lawyer or a judge and I don’t know whether that person is a lawyer or a judge. I don’t know if the canon applies or not.  I just think Justice Ginsberg’s statement was both inappropriate, and contrary to her own political interests.

I also think the Senate should have held hearings on Merrick Garland’s nomination to the court, and that the Supreme Court over at least the past 40-50 years has become entirely too political.

My penultimate comment is that Mr. Wolfson’s tweet which I quoted yesterday had a heart-shaped emoji between I and RGB.  The software used to publish the blog somehow managed to remove it.  I’m sorry about that and don’t know how to fix it.

Above all, I know (not think) that my opinions on this or any other issue don’t matter to people in power.  My opinions are my own.  They are given here freely and worth what you paid for them.

Stepping Over the Line

Hon. Ruth Bader-Ginsberg, a justice of the US Supreme Court, said in a newspaper interview that she would consider moving to New Zealand if Donald Trump became president of the United States.  It was first reported in the NY Times, but I saw it in the NY Post.  I have never heard of any federal judge, especially a member of the Supreme Court, saying anything like this.  Why?   Because it’s specifically prohibited by Code of Conduct for United States Judges.  This is from the website uscourts.gov: 

“Canon 5: A Judge Should Refrain from Political Activity

(A) General Prohibitions. A judge should not:

(1) act as a leader or hold any office in a political organization;

(2) make speeches for a political organization or candidate, or publicly endorse or oppose a candidate for public office; or

(3) solicit funds for, pay an assessment to, or make a contribution to a political organization or candidate, or attend or purchase a ticket for a dinner or other event sponsored by a political organization or candidate.

(B) Resignation upon Candidacy. A judge should resign the judicial office if the judge becomes a candidate in a primary or general election for any office.

(C) Other Political Activity. A judge should not engage in any other political activity. This provision does not prevent a judge from engaging in activities described in Canon 4.”

This judicial canon applies to all federal judges, part-time, full-time and retired with exceptions made, under certain circumstances, for retired federal magistrates and retired federal bankruptcy judges.  It does apply to members of the US Supreme Court.

It’s astonishing that any sitting Justice of the U.S. Supreme Court would publicly oppose a candidate for President of the United States.  It’s also astonishing that Justice Bader-Ginsburg would consider this course of action.  If Trump were elected and she abandoned her post it would be antithetical to her political beliefs and interests.  It would allow a Republican President to appoint another member of the U.S. Supreme Court.  For the record, I’d be appalled by her statement if she had endorsed Donald Trump instead of saying she’d consider moving to New Zealand if he were elected.  This country, since its inception, has prohibited federal judges from participating in electoral politics.

I haven’t researched it thoroughly, but the last Justice of the U.S. Supreme Court that I recall participating in electoral politics is Arthur Goldberg.  He resigned from the court before running against incumbent governor Nelson Rockefeller of New York in 1970.  He lost.

What surprises me more than anything else about this is that it hasn’t created a public outcry.  I am glad to hear that she has been criticized for the comment by some political commentators and especially heartened by a tweet from Howard Wolfson who was an aide to Hillary Clinton and to NY Mayor Michael Bloomberg.  Wolfson tweeted: 

“I  RBG but I don’t think our Supreme Court justices should be publicly offering their opinions about POTUS candidates.”

Good on Mr. Wolfson.  This shouldn’t be a partisan issue.  The Justice has crossed a line she should not have drawn.

Collecting

Yesterday, I received a letter dated late last week from a collection agency.  Let’s call the agency Confluent Collection Company.  That’s not its name, but it’s far enough away from its name that I believe firmly that libel and slander laws don’t apply here.  Plus, what I’m saying is true and it’s a nice alliteration.  Anyway, I think the alliteration is nice. 

The letter said I owed someone else some money, so I should pay them.  Actually, it said I owe Ken’s Hospital $20, and maybe I do.  Who knows?  I certainly couldn’t tell from the letter because it didn’t give an account number, a patient’s name, a date of service, or any other detail than the collection agency’s account number and an amount, $20. 

This is a fault of many collection agencies, sending you a demand letter without giving you enough information for you to tell whether you actually do owe the money.  If I sent you a letter and it said you owe Frank some money (with no explanation at all), so you should send it to me, would you?  If you would, please send me your address and I’ll send you such a letter.  I won’t, however, guarantee in that letter that you actually do owe Frank any money. 

What happens, if you don’t know, is that frequently corporations sell their debts to a debt collector for some percentage of the original amount and the debt collector gets to keep anything they can collect.  Frequently, the sale is just a spreadsheet with no documentation.  Less frequently, I hope, the debts are invalid or beyond the statute of limitations for debt collection.  If you should receive such a demand, do not admit to the debt.  Ask for proof.  If you receive proof and if you owe the money, by all means, pay it.  That’s what I do.

On Tuesday, I got a letter dated three days before the one from the collection agency.  This one was from Ken’s Hospital telling me that I owed them $40 and I should pay it.

Following my own advice, I called Confluent Collection Company to ask them to send me documentation of the debt so I could determine if I owed it.  I called the number on the letter I received yesterday.  I didn’t reach anyone.  I didn’t even reach an automated phone attendant.  What I got was a recording, several minutes long, containing various ads, and telling me I won a free, five-day cruise.  Don’t fall for that one, by the way.  At the end, it told me the number I called (from the letter I received yesterday) had been changed.  Seething, I called the other number.  Same damned thing, except I didn’t stay on the line long enough to find out if the number had been changed again.

I steeled myself for the loathsome task of writing a snail-mail letter, but before that, I called Ken’s Hospital (actually, I called Ken’s Hospital’s parent corporation) to find out if and why I owe them $40.  After minor problems with their automated phone attendant, I spoke to a very pleasant woman named Noreen.  She answered my questions.  She explained what it was all about.  I now understand that I do $20 and may owe the other $20.  Noreen said she would send me the documentation.  If I do owe all the money, I will send them all the money sometime next week.

Noreen was also able to tell me that the other $20 was the account that had been sent for collection.  She said she’d remove it from collection.  Good job, Noreen.  I did explain to her that I objected to being notified I owed money without being told by the collection agency what money or given the opportunity to find out what money.  I also said if they were going to send me a collection notice over the 4th of July weekend, they ought to give me time to sober up and answer them before submitting it to a collection agency. 

Minor mistake on the part of Ken’s Hospital’s billing department to go along with my minor mistake in not paying them promptly.  I usually do pay my bills quickly and if I miss, I usually catch up the next month because it was an oversight on my part.

As an aside, as far as I’m concerned, Ken’s Hospital is one of the best hospitals on the planet.  If you get sick or injured, I hope you have a place as good as that one to get treatment.

There are two lessons collection agencies should take away from this.  If you want someone to pay you money, tell them what it’s for, not just who it’s for.  And, if you don’t tell them what it’s for, but you do give them a phone number to find out, let them find out at that phone number.  Maybe there’s a third lesson.  I was so offended by the phone response that I will never buy anything from the companies that were advertising on that reverse robocall.

The lesson you should take from this is that if you receive a collection notice, find out what it’s for before you pay them.  If they can’t tell you what it’s for, don’t pay them.

Old Cars

'60 Edsel Ranger L

I really like old cars.  I have since they were new.  So, on Thursday, I saddled up and went to the Barrett-Jackson collector car auction at Mohegan Sun Casino in Connecticut.  Even attending the auction without registering as a bidder is fairly expensive, especially considering what it costs to attend a local cars and coffee or show and shine event.  They’re usually free.  But you’ll hardly ever see a wider selection of cars.  I went to one of their auctions in Scottsdale AZ years ago.  This is the first one they held at Mohegan Sun. Uncasville, CT is a lot closer to where I live than Scottsdale AZ.

The auction staff and the casino staff were cheerful and helpful.  If I could offer two suggestions for improvement, the first would be more signs.  My son has a superior sense of direction.  When he was four years old, he could tell you how to drive to his grandparents’ house—eight states away.  I think he would have gotten lost inside the casino while trying to find the cars before they went on the auction block.  My second suggestion would be to find a different place to exhibit a large portion of the cars instead of using one of the casino’s parking garages.  That place was too dark to really display the cars well. 

You don’t think of Ford as building extremely rare cars.  But a 1960 Edsel convertible is extremely rare.  Ford built only 76 of them and around 3,000 total 1960 Edsels in any body style.  Before closing down the failed brand, Ford only built 1960 Edsels for about five weeks.  This isn’t an Edsel convertible, though.  It’s a Ford that was changed into an Edsel later in life, or what collectors call a clone.  

I’m a casual fan, not an expert, but it fooled me.  When you go to a Barrett-Jackson auction and look at the cars before the bidding starts, most of them have a detail card attached to the passenger side of the windshield.  This car didn’t have such a card when I saw it on Thursday.  It was properly described in the catalogue and on line.  I haven’t checked whether it crossed the auction block yet, but I’m sure that when it does, or if it has, it was also properly described too.

Still, until I looked it up more than 24 hours after I took this picture, I was pretty excited to think I had seen an actual, real-life unicorn.

Things I Know

There are a little over 6,600 commercial, FM radio stations in the United States.  Tonight, between 10 PM and midnight, I’m going to be on one of them.  Which one is up to you to figure out.

In California this week, two judges were reelected and the fact that they were makes you question democracy.  One was the judge in Santa Clara who recently sentenced a rapist and star athlete at Stanford to six months in jail.  The other, in Orange County, was reelected despite having admitted to having sex in the office with an intern and with an attorney who had cases before his court.  I call both of these events electile dysfunction.

A man in England, Richard Huckle, has been sentenced to 22 life sentences for raping children in Malaysia.  I’m okay with that.  The article I read said he’ll have to serve a minimum of 25 years in jail.  25 years for 22 life sentences?  I’m not sure which, but if one of those is right, I have to think the other is wrong.

My Daughter has a good idea.  Have you ever watched the TLC TV show “Cake Boss?”  They have several shops in the New York area.  One of them is a few miles from our house.  My daughter wants to go in there and find out if they can make her a cake that looks like a cake.

These days, my wife usually hits the hay around 10:00 PM.  I usually go to bed around 1:00 AM.  When we started dating as teens, she would let me hang out at her house, sometimes until 1:00 or 2:00 AM.  It just occurred to me that she married me so she could get some sleep.

I’m not necessarily claiming credit here, but the most recent TV spot for Burger King’s nuggets does tell you what in them.

66 SS 4 Sale 2

I’m trying to convince my wife, Saint Karen, that I’m a saint too because I didn’t bring this car home from a local cruise night.  It’s for sale and it’s a ’66 Chevy Impala SS with a 396 cubic inch engine.  Not buying it, though, didn’t take as much willpower as she thinks:  it’s an automatic.

When I was a Freshman in college, her parents allowed my then 16-year-old girlfriend to travel 250 miles to visit me for a weekend.  I was surprised all those years ago, but astonished recently when I learned they did not let her go on her high school senior trip a year later.  Her parents really liked and trusted me.

I keep a few packets of duck sauce, soy sauce, ketchup, and mustard around the house.  You know, the ones you get with your take-out food orders.  But I never keep extra Arby’s Sauce around.  If I ask for five please give me five, but if I ask for one and you give me five, four of them are going in the garbage. 

 

Somebody at New York’s DMV Needs to Think

On the 19th of May, I went on line to renew the license plates on my truck.  They expired on May 31.  It’s great that you can renew on line.  They tell you it can take ten days to get the new registration, Amazon can deliver in two, but at least they allow you to download a ten-day, temporary registration in case you don’t get the renewal on time.  Both of these are good things.  My registration did arrive on time, also a good thing. 

This morning, I wanted to put the new registration on my truck, but I couldn’t find it.  That’s something I’ve come to expect.  I lose things frequently.  My fault. 

While I was looking, I decided to print out that downloaded temporary registration, so I could go to the gym.  I’m a pretty literal guy, so I expected that the 10-day temporary registration would expire ten days after the old, permanent one did.  Wrong!  That’s when I found out the ten-day temporary expired on the 29th, two days before the old, permanent registration.  What good is that?  How would that have helped me if the new registration hadn’t arrived on time?

Fortunately, I did find the registration.  I mean, it would have been terrible if I had to walk a mile to the gym, wouldn’t it?

Remember

Memorial Day first became a holiday (originally known as Decoration Day) in the northern states after the Civil War.  The Grand Army of the Republic, a veterans’ organization for those who fought for the North first declared it to be May 30th in 1868.  Its name gradually changed to Memorial Day and eventually came to represent Civil War veterans from both sides and later from other wars. 

I was surprised to learn that Memorial Day wasn’t adopted as the official name of a federal holiday until 1967.  The law that changed the date of Memorial Day and three other holidays to Mondays was enacted in 1968 and took effect in 1971.

Memorial Day has become a lot more than just remembering the troops who died in our nation’s wars, but because it is still that, this image is from Gettysburg National Cemetery.

Civil War Graves

Things I Know

It’s been cooler than usual in April and May where I live.  I’m going to plant tomatoes this weekend.  The danger of frost is past, but the ground may still be a little cool for tomato plants to thrive.

I guess Mother’s Day was also breast-cancer awareness day for major league baseball.  I’m against breast cancer and in favor of breast-cancer awareness.  Still, the uniforms in the Mets-Padres game were ugly.  They made me pine for the Padres’ old brown ones.

I don’t begrudge breast cancer research a dime.  I have contributed myself from time to time, but from the publicity it gets you’d think breast cancer was the number one cause of death among women.  It isn’t.  Lung cancer and heart disease cause more deaths than breast cancer does.

I may need to get a new doctor.  My test results came back and now this doctor is trying to tell me I’m completely normal.

Over the years, I’ve asked lots of questions here, some of them serious, and some meant as jokes.  One of the serious ones came four years ago when I wondered whether noise-cancelling headphones would help with my tinnitus.  Since the last time I looked into it, sound therapy has become helpful, but not a cure for tinnitus.  Certain frequencies generated by special hearing aids help cancel out the annoying ringing of tinnitus.  So, while noise-cancelling headphones won’t help, there are now hearing aids that supposedly will.  I can hear without hearing aids, but because of the tinnitus, and because of some high-frequency hearing loss, I don’t hear people well if there’s a lot of background noise.  I’ve ordered a pair of hearing aids designed to help with both.  If they work well, I may review then here in the future.

Here’s an update on my Panasonic bathroom fan.  I have replaced it, with another Panasonic fan.  So, I’ve bought three of them in eight years.  The one in my upstairs bathroom still works.  I have mixed feelings about the fans.  They’re high quality, very quiet, and Panasonic makes more than one fan that will fit in my existing opening which is a little over ten inches square.  On the other hand, they’re very expensive, the light kit on mine (not the bulb, the fixture) failed after eight years.  The ballast for the light isn’t easily replaceable and neither the ballast nor the light fixture is available from Panasonic anymore.

The light in my new fan is bright enough that I can probably grow tomatoes in there now.  But, I won’t.

I have a compressed disc in my neck, and I tore both rotator cuffs for the second time after I’d already had surgery to repair each one.  I guess what I’m saying is working over my head is painful.  So, I didn’t replace the fan in the ceiling myself.  It annoys me to pay someone else to do something for me that I know how to do.  Still, the electrician did a bang-up job, took about half an hour and cleaned up after himself.  Good job there.

Things I Want (or Need) to Know

Have you noticed that when Burger King advertises “Ten nuggets for $1.49” on TV, the commercial doesn’t say a word about what’s in the nuggets?  Do they, for instance, contain chicken?

My only deductions are real estate taxes, mortgage interest, and charitable contributions.  So why does it take so damned long to do my taxes?

If you’re not supposed to pick at scabs, why do they itch so much you have to scratch them?

Why don’t babies have freckles?

Why is knowing a thing or two better than being a know it all?

Wouldn’t sock sizes make a lot more sense if they corresponded to shoe sizes?

Things I Know

The masthead photo here changes from time to time.  The end of April and beginning of May is time for cherry blossoms at the Brooklyn Botanic Garden.  It’s a really beautiful exhibit.  If you’re in the area, you should go.

Austin Texas school officials have decided to rename Robert E. Lee Elementary School.  They opened the renaming process to public suggestions.  After Boatie McBoatface was shot down even though it was the popular choice for the name of a new and expensive British research ship, you’d think everyone knew this is a bad idea, but nooooooooooooooooooo!!!!!!!!  In the race to rename the school in Austin, Donald Trump came in first and Robert E. Lee came in second.  Adolf Hitler got eight votes.  A commenter on the website Deadspin.com came up with the cleverest thing I’ve heard on the topic.  Someone who identifies as Yusuf-Darba chimed in with, “Say what you will about Adolf Hitler, but he did kill Hitler.”  And, here I’d lived my entire life until today thinking nobody could say anything good about Hitler.  How wrong was I?

I’ve mentioned before that it’s a bad idea to screw up on a slow news day, but it’s okay to die on one.  I should have pointed out that if you’re famous, you shouldn’t die on the same day as someone who is substantially more famous.  Since I didn’t point that out before, I’m doing it now.  If you don’t believe me, just ask Lonnie Mack or Joanie Laurer.  RIP to Joanie, Lonnie, and Prince as well.  Yes, Prince was a great talent and an important cultural icon.  But I have to question whether his death deserved over a third of the NBC Nightly News.

Speaking of Prince, he apparently died without a will.  Nobody is happier about this than the tax man.  Even if you don’t have hundreds of millions of dollars, if you expect to have anything left over when you die, a will is a very good idea.

This blog doesn’t have a copy editor.  It could use one.  Most writing would be improved by copy editing, certainly mine.  I am incapable of catching all my own mistakes, although I’m good at catching those of other people.  I occasionally catch a mistake I made in this blog a long time ago, and when I do, I correct it.  Yet copy editors are laid off at news and publishing organizations more than any other people involved in the process of publishing.  People argue that correct grammar and spelling don’t equal intelligence.  That’s true.  What they indicate is attention to detail and if someone doesn’t care enough to get them right, what’s their attitude toward facts?

I’ve recently started paying attention to radio talk shows and TV news from outside the US.  BBC TV news is easy to find on cable.  Lots of radio stations stream.  Today, I listened to stations in Dublin, Ireland, London, UK, and Sydney Australia.  Their perspectives are considerably different from ours.  It’s educational.

Things I Know

Happy birthday, April 21st, to our son, and to Britain’s Queen Elizabeth.  Even though they share the same birthday, and you’ve never seen them together, they are not the same person.

In the European Union, Google has been hit with anti-trust charges in part because it requires Google apps to be installed on all Android phones.  What gripes me about Android phones is all the apps that come with the phone, and can’t be uninstalled.

When Ted Cruz criticized New York values back in Iowa, I’m sure he thought (as most of us did) that the New York primary wouldn’t be important.  He finished third statewide.  In at least one CD, New York’s 16th in Westchester, he finished fourth, behind Ben Carson.  Didn’t Carson drop out of the race?  Yes, he did, but he dropped out too late to be removed from the New York ballot.

Big shout out and many thanks to Deputy Inspector Christopher Ikone, NYPD.  I had a nice chat with Inspector Ikone at the NYPD exhibit at this year’s NY Auto Show.  I mentioned to him that my dad was a cop, showed him a picture and asked if he knew what the collar brass, BHS, stood for.  He didn’t, but said he’d look into it for me.  In less than a week, I received an email and a phone call from the Inspector.  He had found a few things about my father, and enclosed scans of them with the email.  He apologized that there wasn’t a lot about my dad in NYPD records, but Dad was a cop a long, long time ago so that’s okay, and certainly no fault of the very helpful Inspector.   I was absolutely delighted with what Inspector Ikone sent me.  I thanked him both profusely, and privately.  I just wanted to mention it again in public.  Incidentally, all those years ago, BHS stood for borough headquarters squad.

From the Daily News website on Saturday, April 2, 2016:  “Shane Thompson, 43, a Navy veteran deep-sea diver, was exploring the treacherous cavern underneath the Blue Hole, a popular diving spot known for its crystal clear waters off the coast of New Mexico.”  Not to diminish Mr. Thompson’s death or his life, but what coast of New Mexico?  Doesn’t anyone edit, or fact-check anything anymore?  New Mexico, as most people know, is landlocked.  Thompson actually drowned in a cave in a lake.  At least the article didn’t make the same mistake.

The early bird may get the worm, but it’s the second mouse that gets the cheese.

Effective in June, the word internet will no longer be capitalized, according to the new edition of the Associated Press style book.  I hereby jump the gun.

Vote

Consider, if you will, presidential primaries.  For the first time in recent memory, the New York primary means something, especially the New York Republican primary.  So let’s consider the New York primaries.  Why not?  They take place next Tuesday.

There was a time when presidential primaries were winner take all.  It only took a plurality, if there were more than two candidates, for the winner to get all the delegate votes in that party’s presidential primary.  The trend has been to change that, but the way New York has changed it is particularly odd to me.  The rules are a little different in the Democratic and Republican primaries in New York and I’ll talk about the GOP primary which means a little more, because if someone else does really well, it might keep Donald Trump from winning the GOP nomination on the first ballot in Cleveland this summer.  Polls suggest Trump will be the winner in New York, but that’s why we have elections, isn’t it?

While it’s no longer winner-take-all, it hasn’t progressed to one-man-one vote either.  It might even turn out to be less equal than the winner-take-all way of allocating delegates.  You see, in New York the delegates are apportioned based on election results in each congressional district.  That’s where direct representation falls apart.  Some congressional districts are heavily Democratic and some are heavily Republican.  Let’s say in a heavily Democratic district in New York City (District D) there are 500 votes cast in the GOP primary and in a heavily Republican district somewhere upstate (District R), there are 5,000 Republican votes cast.  Assume then that in District R, Donald Trump gets 2,600 votes.  He then gets all three delegates from that district.  If he gets 2,400 votes, he gets two of the three and Cruz or Kasich gets the other one depending on who finishes second.  In District D, maybe Cruz gets 260 votes.  He then gets three delegates.  That’s three delegates for 260 voters vs. three delegates for 2,600 voters. 

All other things being equal (and they’re not) it would make sense for the GOP candidates to concentrate on heavily Democratic districts and the Democratic candidates to concentrate on solidly Republican areas.  Who thought this system up?  Did anyone think it up?  If someone did, it’s plain to me that they didn’t want New York’s delegates apportioned based on the total vote each candidate polls.  If they wanted that, the votes would be counted statewide.

If you live in New York and are a registered Republican or Democrat, please vote on Tuesday.  New York doesn’t have open primaries, so you have to be registered in a political party to vote in its primary.  When you go into your local polling place, please vote for the candidate of my choice, or the candidate of your choice, but vote.  And if your party is a minority in your congressional district, then your vote counts all the more.

600

“Half a league, half a league, half a league onward.  Into the valley of death rode the 600.” –Alfred, Lord Tennyson

This is the 600th blog entry to the Sisyphus Project. That’s 600 in roughly 8.1 years.  I think we’re pretty much on target.   I started this to entertain myself, and it does that.  I sometimes try to inform, and also to make occasional jokes that other people find funny.  You’re the judge of whether I achieve those goals.  I said I’d write about my frustrations, but also about other stuff.  I’m still doing both. Perhaps I’m not quite as frustrated as I used to be because I don’t have THAT job anymore.  One thing that has surprised me is I don’t write as frequently as when I was employed full-time.  Since I have more time, I thought I would pontificate more.  But I just don’t.

Usually, my posts consist of random assertions, and/or questions.  When I rant on a single topic, it’s most frequently about politics, and/or government.  Still, I’m trying to go light on the 2016 Presidential contest.  Is this really the best that the USA can come up with in the way of major-party candidates?

I was recently able to restore some of the format elements of the blog, including a title picture I’ll change once in a while, and the list of three blogs I endorse.  One caveat on the recommended blog list: my friend Richard’s blog is still entertaining, and well worth your attention.  He just doesn’t post in it very often anymore.

Going forward, I’d like to propose a holiday this year.  It will be one day (or preferably a three-day weekend) when no media in the United States mention Donald Trump, or any member of the Kardashian/Jenner tribe.  It’s a desirable goal, and an achievable one as  well.  After all, we don’t hear about everything Paris Hilton or Charlie Sheen does anymore.  I suggest we do it in August.  We could all use a three-day weekend in August.  Let’s work on that, shall we?

I’m the kind of person who can’t help doing math in his head.    Because of that, this sign caught my attention. 

Parking

It’s at a parking lot on 34th Street in Manhattan, just east of Ninth Avenue.  No, I don’t know why an hour of parking costs more than two half hours.  That’s the thing about the sign that caught my attention in the first place.  There was nobody around I could ask.  My best guess is this particular parking lot has hours that contain more than 60 minutes each.

On TV news last night, I heard that the majority leader of the New York State Senate, “. . . prides himself on being open and transparent.”  I pride myself on being opaque.  I feel very strongly that if I were transparent, that would be disgusting.

I can’t wait for the baseball season to begin.  Tomorrow, I won’t have to. I had hoped to attend Baseball Spring Training, and catch a few games in March, but my wife felt she had to work.  I’d rather be with her than at a ballgame, but that’s about the only thing I’d rather do.

I still haven’t hit the lottery, so I have yet to hire an editor or proof reader.  I go back from time to time, to correct past mistakes I’ve made.  Lately I’ve been working on apostrophes, and Oxford commas.  If you should find a mistake, you’re more than welcomed to keep it to yourself.

Things I Know

March 22 is National Goof Off Day.  Who decides these things anyway?  I looked it up on Google and one of the links was to a list of 28 things to do on National Goof Off Day.  Doesn’t that miss the whole point of the day?  Should there even be 28 things to do?  Well, I clicked on the link and it doesn’t work anymore.  That is more like it!

I have an older, expensive Panasonic bathroom light and fan.  That’s kind of redundant because all Panasonic bathroom fans are expensive, but they’re premium fans, very quiet and made of quality materials.  The light stopped working.  It’s the fixture, not the bulbs.  The fixture is modular.  It would be simple to get the old one out and plug in a new one.  Except, the part is no longer available.  If I was the Tsar of building supplies, I’d make the ceiling opening for bathroom fans in standard sizes, the way the openings for various electric boxes are standard sizes.  I dread replacing the whole fan because the openings aren’t standardized and because a lot of them aren’t easy to install without access from above and mine is in a first-floor bathroom of a two-story house.  Sometimes, replacing a bathroom ceiling fan involves replacing the bathroom ceiling too.

Also, you can’t read the model number of this bathroom fan unless you remove the light, and even then, it’s not easy to read.  The location of that all-important model number is a bad design, Panasonic.

I’ve been telling my kids since they were kids that if what they’re doing isn’t working, they ought to try something else.  So, I approve of President Obama easing diplomatic and trade relations with Cuba. Of course, Cuba’s record on human rights isn’t good, but the US has imposed restrictions of one sort or another on Cuba since October of 1960.  Clearly they haven’t worked to get Cuba to do some of what we want in more than 55 years, so we might as well try something else.

The automatic ice maker in our freezer stopped working.  There was ice in it.  The machine just wouldn’t push the ice into the bin below it.  I messed with it without success.  My wife tried to pry the ice loose too, also with  no immediate results.  But, about an hour later, it worked. For the first time in two days, it dropped the ice into the tray.  Ninety minutes later, it did it again.   Maybe the ice maker was just constipated.

If for no other reason than to clean it, there should be an easy way to get the sliding-drawer freezer out of the larger combination refrigerator-freezer.  There isn’t.  Being easy to remove the drawer would also make it easier to replace the ice maker if that should be necessary.  There still isn’t.

It’s nice that my wife, Saint Karen (who must be a saint to put up with me), takes my word that I’m a prince.  After all, I wasn’t a frog the first time she kissed me.

Every time I go back over the blog items I’ve written since I started this blog in 2008, I find at least one typographical error.  When I find ’em, I fix ’em, but I find new ones every time.  To be fair to me, some of them were caused when my Internet host changed the software and messed up a lot of the apostrophes.  To be fair to the Internet host, the software change didn’t cause all of them, by any means.

Things I Want (Or Need) to Know

If there’s one thing I don’t understand about St. Patrick’s Day, it’s green bagels.  Can you explain them?

Can you remember the last time you went twenty-four hours without reading or hearing the name of a Kardasian/Jenner pseudo-celebrity in the media?  I can’t, but I’d like to.

I haven’t received any email spam trying to sell me either Cialis or Viagra in ages.   Have you?

Does anyone you know or anyone who reads this follow the directions on the shampoo bottle and wash and rinse their hair, and then do it again immediately?

Similarly, is there anyone who owns a box of Q-tips, or any other cotton swab for that matter, who has never used them to clean the wax out of their ears?  The directions on that box say don’t do that.

Things I Know

We’ve already got Spring Training and now we have a crocus.  I’m pretty sure it’ll be warm before long.

First Crocus

With an ad premiering tomorrow night, Dos Equis beer is abandoning Jonathan Goldsmith in his role as the most interesting man in the world and taking its advertising in a new direction.  I’m guessing the ads are being changed because Dos Equis thinks the public has lost interest.

New research seems to indicate that certain carbohydrates, such as  bagels and pretzels increase your risk of getting lung cancer.  I have been  known to inhale pretzels,  but even I know you’re not supposed to do that, and now I guess I’ll stop in the interest of health.

Other new research indicates that dying significantly reduces your risk of getting cancer.

Things I Know

It’s not a big deal, but it was a pleasant surprise.  The reclining handle on my old La-Z Boy recliner broke last week.  I contacted the nearest dealer and they’re sending me a new handle, for free.  The recliner is easily 10 and maybe as much as 15 years old.

The weather forecast for this week and next shows daily high temperatures in the New York area over 50 degrees.  The heather is already in bloom:  time to keep an eye out for the first crocus of 2016. 

It must have been Doris Day’s birthday over the weekend or something.  TCM ran the old movie “Send Me No Flowers.”I came home while my wife was watching it.  In case you’re unfamiliar, Doris’ husband, played by Rock Hudson of course, is a hypochondriac.  He thinks he’s going to die and sets about trying to find an ideal second husband for her.  I told Saint Karen (who has to be a saint to put up with me)  that if I should die before her and if she decides to remarry, I won’t try to pick out a second husband for her.  Why?  Because she did such a spectacular job picking a first husband that I figure she’s up to the task. 

We’re way overdoing Presidential debates.  The candidates probably agree, scheduling them to attract the smallest audiences.  This week, the Democrats had one opposite the final episode of “Downton Abbey.” Still, all the personal attacks aren’t really helping me to decide who to vote for in November.

With all the proper nouns MS Word’s spell checker knows, I’m kind of surprised it doesn’t know Downton.

 In addition to being a saint for putting up with me, Saint Karen is a saint for other reasons as well.  Last week, I asked her if she knew where the tickets we had left over from our last visit to Disney World are.  We were there in 2005.  She knew. Each pass has three days left.  I want to go back.  I’d like to go right after Easter, but Saint Karen doesn’t know if she can get off work then.  I’m not sure it’s the happiest place on earth, but it is fun and since we have three days of prepaid admission, I’m ready.

The jar I keep loose change in is almost full.  That means about $200.  I’m thinking of adding another $100 and buying a wide-angle lens for my camera.

A few years back, during one of my rants about doctors who are perpetually late, I noted that someone owned the web domain www.punctualdoctor.com.  At the time, I said they hadn’t figured out how to use it yet.  Apparently they never did.  When I checked a week or two ago, you could have bought it for ten bucks.

Things I Want (or Need) to Know

What’s the largest number of hosts it’s possible to have on one TV show?  And, has the Today Show reached that number yet?

The Bugatti Chiron is the about-time replacement for the Veyron.  When it was released, the Veyron was the fastest road car in the world at around 230 mph.  The Chiron is reputed to hit 260 mph.  My question is, where?

Have you seen Quicken Loans’ TV commercial for Rocket Mortgages?  Isn’t that exactly the kind of thinking that precipitated the real estate crash nine years ago?

Miss Dior Fragrance has a TV commercial out that uses Janis Joplin, Big Brother and the Holding Company singing “Piece of My Heart.”  I’m always in favor of playing Janis Joplin’s music, but when it’s associated with Miss Dior Fragrance, I can’t help wondering if the perfume smells like bourbon or weed.

Things I Know

I complained here back in October about how expensive tire pressure monitoring sensors for my 2008 Nissan Frontier pickup truck are.  They are expensive, but it turns out it’s worse than that.  The dealer I had repair the truck marked up the parts by something like 30-35% over what the same dealer charges at retail for the same part at their parts counter in the same building.  I told the service manager that’s the reason I will never do business with them again.

If I go to a local garage, they mark up the parts above what I can buy them for.  It makes sense.  They can’t carry a lot of parts for every vehicle they might have to repair.  They have to pay someone to order them.  They have to deal with a parts supplier who will deliver them the same day, and there are a couple of other reasons as well.  But if I go to a parts store and buy the part myself, they don’t charge me more than retail.  For an auto dealer parts department, the ancillary costs are built into what they sell the parts for at retail.  So, for me anyway, a dealer service department charging me 30-35% for walking back and forth to the parts counter is outrageous.  I won’t pay it again.

I was right about Ben Carson’s chances of becoming the Republican Party’s nominee for President this year.  It looks like I was wrong, very wrong, about Donald Trump’s prospects though.

Nominations to the US Supreme Court are very political.  Depending on who’s confirmed, the current vacancy can turn the majority on the court from relatively conservative to much more liberal.  I don’t think it’s right to obstruct any president’s nominations for the U.S. Supreme Court, not a Democratic president and not a Republican president either.  But what’s going on now over a replacement for Justice Scalia isn’t new.  In fact, a previous Republican president’s nominee who was scuttled by a Democratic majority in the Senate had his last name turned into a word in the dictionary.  Three lefts make a right.  Two wrongs don’t.

As I write this, I’m watching a Spring Training baseball game on TV.  You should watch or listen to baseball in March as often as possible.  Baseball causes warm weather and observing it here in the north will help to warm things up.  Just wait and see.

Leap Year

Whose idea was it to add a day to February in Leap Year? I know it’s the shortest month, but it is still February, so it should be as short as possible. Next time, in 2020, let’s add an extra day to June instead.

Things I Know

The Sisyphus Project, in addition to being copyrighted for 2008 – 2015, is also copyright 2016.  All rights reserved.  Additionally, some of the blog posts contained herein are only suitable for immature audiences.  You’ve been warned, again.

If it’s as cold in New York tonight as they say it’s going to be, I have a plan.  When I go to bed, I’ll turn my electric blanket all the way up to broil.

Back in the 1950’s and 60’s, a lot of popular singing groups were named after cars.  Thanks to the Super Bowl commercial, I now know that Buick has a new convertible called the Cascada.  To the best of my knowledge, it’s the first car named after a singing group.

A sign of inflation:  In early January, I went to an ATM at Penn Station in New York City and it gave me $50 bills.  Before that, I had never gotten anything larger than a $20.

You may recall that I bought a Hyundai Santa Fe Sport last summer.  It has all-wheel drive.  One advantage of having all-wheel drive is when you get two feet of snow as we did recently, you don’t have to take advantage of the all-wheel drive and go out in it.  You can still stay home and turn up your electric blanket.

Another advantage is in snow, I spin my wheels a lot less often with AWD than I do in a 2WD Nissan pickup truck.

I visited Europe in May, 2014.  I’d like to go back some day.  Although I didn’t notice at the time, from what I’ve read since, wearing white sneakers is a sure sign in Europe that you are an American.   I doubt if I’ll pass for a local anyway, but if I do go back I’ll consider getting the sneakers I wear in black or brown so I can fit in better.

If I visit Europe again, I’ll buy a wide-angle lens for my camera and I’ll probably leave my tripod home.  You can’t use a tripod inside any of the historic buildings I visited in London, and it’s a couple of pounds less weight for me to carry around.  The wide-angle lens will be useful for landscapes and for building interiors. 

Things I Want (Or Need) to Know

Is New Hampshire’s first-in-the-nation Presidential primary as important as news coverage would have you believe?  Will anyone who is currently running for President of the United States visit New Hampshire again this year?  How about for the rest of their lives unless they run again in 2020?

Who ever thought Groundhog Day would be a believable annual event?  Has Spring ever arrived in Pennsylvania in the middle of February? 

Does anyone here know how many blocked numbers you can maintain on a Samsung Galaxy S5 phone?  I block every robocaller who calls my number and I’m hoping there’s no limit.

A national drug store chain lied to me.  I got a robocall from them.  It said, “This is a courtesy call from (insert name of actual national drug store chain here) for (insert my daughter’s name here).  To continue, press any key.”  I pressed the hang up key and it didn’t continue.  Why?  When I get an emergency robocall from the county I live in, hanging up on them doesn’t make them hang up on you.

I love my Weber gas grill.  It’s expensive, but everything about it reeks quality.  Except for one thing.  Why can’t Weber put decent wheels on it?  And, since they don’t, why doesn’t Weber, or someone else, sell decent wheels for a Weber grill as an accessory?  I don’t move mine often, but every time I do, I wish it had better wheels.

Things I Know

He’s wrong, but it may help Ted Cruz to criticize New York in the rest of the country and it doesn’t hurt him in New York.  There’s no way in hell Cruz will win the New York Republican primary and if he does get the GOP nomination, there is also no way in hell he will carry New York in November.

I believe it was so windy this morning because I put my light-weight, plastic garbage can at the curb last night.  I’m sorry.  And, many thanks to my wife, Saint Karen, who has to be a saint to put up with me.  She got up before me this morning and managed to chase the can down before it disappeared from the neighborhood.

My daughter has an idea for a new TV show.  She says TLC should have a show about people trying to recover from eating disorders, gain weight and live healthy lives.  She calls it, “My 60-Pound Life.”  She must get it from her mother, because God knows I’m completely normal.

I had an idea for a reality TV show too.  I suggested one about a family that sits around in their family room, watching TV.  My daughter tells me there has already been a show like that.

Don’t schedule an appointment with your diabetes doctor right after the holidays.  If you do, your blood tests will reveal an A1C level higher than what you usually get.  I’ve learned my lesson.

I found out what happens if you accidentally put too much milk in your scrambled eggs.  Try not to do that.

During the recently passed holiday shopping season, I purchased all gifts on line from our living room couch.  I haven’t been to a shopping mall in a months.

Just once, on a TV real estate show, when the prospective house buyers say they want space in which to entertain, I’d like them to say it needs a stage, professional lighting, a killer sound system, lots of parking and a satellite uplink.

Powerball

For many years now, I’ve advocated making silly plans for what you would do if you win a big lottery.  Yes, it’s fun to dream about being suddenly rich, but my reasoning is that the chance of winning is so low that making serious plans is a waste of time, unless and until you win.

So, there’s no need to figure out in advance whether you’d pay off your nephew’s college loans, or what charity you’d contribute to, or what the goal of your personal charitable foundation would be, or what university you’d endow a professor’s chair at in order to leave your name around after you die, or where you’d move, or how many new cars you’d buy.

I have had other silly plans, but for years, I have usually maintained that if I win millions of dollars in Powerball or Mega Millions, I’ll get someone to carry my bed outside and then, I’ll jump on the bed.  Yes, I know that I’d break the bed if I jumped on it, but jumping on the bed was fun when I was a kid and if I had millions of bucks, I wouldn’t care if I broke my bed.  I’d just get a new one. Tonight, however, is different.  As I write this the Powerball jackpot is expected to be $800 million.

Absolutely nobody has asked me if I’ve changed my silly plan to accommodate the largest jackpot in US History.  Still, in response to zero interest from the general public, I am here to announce that I have changed my plan.  Tonight’s Powerball jackpot is so big that if I win, I will jump on two beds.  Maybe three.

Christmas 2015

Every year at Christmas, my friend Dick Summer uses his blog to tell Christmas stories sent in by readers and by people who remember listening to him on the radio.  By the way, if you remember Dick from his distinguished career on the radio, he’ll be a guest on WBZ in Boston on Christmas Eve around 10 PM.  I lifted this Christmas story directly from Dick’s blog, but I don’t think he’ll mind, because I wrote it.  Merry Christmas, everyone.

I still remember my grandparents Christmas traditions. My cousins and I would build our blanket fort under the dining room table. The tree filled the little, unheated sunroom off the living room, unheated so that the tree wouldn’t dry out so fast. The tree had bubble lights on it. Remember those?

We always had turkey and my grandmother’s turkey always had more legs than any turkey was ever born with. I don’t know whether she purchased extra legs, or claimed that the largest wing joints were legs. We had pumpkin pie too, but my aunts and uncles always raved over my grandmother’s plum pudding which she doused in brandy and set afire before bringing it to the table. That stuff was disgusting–worse than fruit cake. I don’t know how anyone ate it. 

I was still a little kid, maybe 5 or 6 years old and I don’t know how the issue came up, but I do remember my grandmother sitting me down in her old, dark kitchen and telling me: “It’s not the gift, it’s the thought that counts.” I also clearly remember thinking at the time that my grandmother was crazy. I had an allowance, maybe it was a dime a week, maybe a quarter, but it certainly didn’t allow me to buy any of the cool toys I lusted after. It wasn’t even enough to keep me in caps for my official Lone Ranger six shooters. I didn’t care what people thought about me, I wanted the cool presents any adult I knew could get for me, but I couldn’t get for myself. 

I’m older now than my grandmother was when she told me that, and today I know she was right–not for little kids, but certainly for adults. The fact is, I have everything I need and a lot of what I want. Nobody likes me enough and has enough money to get me anything I can’t afford to get for myself. I’m sure there are people who have enough money to do that. I’m equally sure I don’t know any of them. When my friends take to Facebook to send me Christmas greetings, I like it. When my junior prom date sends me a Christmas card, it warms my heart. Things would be quite different for me without the life’s lessons I learned from her. I doubt I would have been open to my wife if I hadn’t failed miserably to get back together with Miss Prom Date about five months before I met the woman I’ve spent my life with. 

I think about what my grandmother said that day every Christmas, and any time I remember her. It’s not crazy once you grow up. It really is the thought–not the gift that counts.

Thank God for New York

There’s a joke among people who don’t think much of the State of Alabama, that the state’s motto is, “Thank God for Mississippi.”  It’s supposed to indicate that yes, Alabama is bad, but Mississippi is worse.  I’m not taking a stand.  I haven’t been to Mississippi.  I’ve spent some time in Alabama, not enough to know a lot about it though.  My observations tell me that Alabama has its good and its bad points, like pretty much everywhere else.

People who live in Illinois, or New Jersey, or anywhere else with a reputation for political corruption, have to be saying to themselves these days, “Thank God for New York.”  Why? Because New York, it’s state legislature in particular, makes other states look good by comparison.  In 2014, Sheldon Silver was Speaker of the New York State Assembly and Dean Skelos was Majority Leader of the New York State Senate.  Each was indicted for political corruption, Silver in February and Skelos in May.  Each lost his leadership position.  That’s not automatic in New York.  But they remained in office as an Assemblyman and State Senator.  Each was convicted too.  Silver on November 30th and Skelos on December 11th.  Silver was charged with using his political power to line his pockets to the tune of $4 million.  Skelos used his power to line his son’s pockets, getting his son highly paid jobs in which he wielded his dad’s political influence either with the state or with Nassau County.  Upon felony conviction, each was removed from the legislature.  That is automatic.  Considering their age, Skelos and Silver could each spend the rest of their lives in prison, but while in prison each will collect a state pension.  The exact amount hasn’t been made public, but it’ll be around $100,000 a year.  Not too long ago, the state pension system was reformed so that elected officials convicted of corruption do lose their pension, but it only applies to recently elected officials and Silver has been in Albany for 40 years, Skelos for 30.

The convictions themselves are terrible, but what’s worse is they aren’t unusual.  I am not sure my count is accurate, but I believe that makes five legislative leaders convicted and removed from office in 15 years.  Some newspaper editorials are hailing the most recent convictions as an avenue to legislative reform.  Maybe so, but please reread the first two sentences of this paragraph.  They give me reasonable doubt.  In fact, one State Senator was quoted in a newspaper as saying he had doubts that new laws were necessary, because the leaders were convicted of violating existing laws.

Power in New York State is unusually centralized. .  The leaders of each house have close to dictatorial control of the legislature.  The leaders aren’t subject to term limits, committee chairmen are weak and revolts against leadership are unheard of.  Budget negotiations take place between the Governor and the two legislative leaders and they are frequently described as, “Three men in a room.”  The fact that two of the three have been convicted in one year has lead to public speculation that  the third man in the room, the Governor, or senior members of his staff may soon be implicated in corruption as well.  I have no idea.

I suppose increasing the power of the rest of the legislature would help.  Meaningful power for committee chairmen and term limits for the Speaker and the Majority Leader would be a beginning.  I wish I knew what would help.  With five leaders shot down in 15 years, I hope somebody knows how to fix it and I hope somebody does fix it.

Things I Know

My last post to this blog garnered five comments over two days from “Bradley.”  The comments were all links I didn’t follow.  I’m almost certain that “Bradley” is a spam bot.  I welcome both new readers and comments on my blog, but the comments are moderated to spare me and my reader the annoyance of spam bots.

According to a TV report I saw this morning, a man flew from California to New York, went to his estranged wife’s house, and shot her sleeping boyfriend five times, killing him.  The perpetrator plead not guilty, claiming self defense.  I am not a lawyer and I haven’t stayed in a Holiday Inn Express in a year and a half, but I’m pretty sure that isn’t going to work.

Our anniversary trip to Washington was a success. We drove to DC, retrieved our daughter-in-law from Dulles Airport and went out to dinner at a nice restaurant on Saturday night.  I’m not being paid for the endorsement, but it’s the second time we’ve enjoyed dinner this year at Ristorante La Perla on Pennsylvania Avenue just before you enter Georgetown.

We apparently got married at a good time of year to do things.  There are usually baseball playoffs on our anniversary, for instance.  Our niece got married on the day before our anniversary.  And this year, the day after our anniversary was the Marine Corps Marathon in Washington.  We thought we might go to the Smithsonian for a while on Sunday before heading back home.  But the marathon ran right past the museum, so we decided to avoid the area and just head home.

The trip down and back in our new Hyundai was comfortable.  The EPA estimated highway mileage for the car is 24 and we did 25, so I’m happy with that.  We could probably have done a little better if we had gone less than 10 miles per hour over the speed limit.  Of course, if you drive under the speed limit on the New Jersey Turnpike when traffic volume permits you to go faster, you’ll get run over, so we didn’t do that.

One disadvantage to owning an SUV, CUV or minivan is no trunk.  So, if you give your car over to valet parking, you can’t leave anything in the trunk because those vehicles don’t have trunks.

Things I Know

My wife and I usually celebrate five-year-incremental wedding anniversaries by taking a trip.  Five years ago we went to Las Vegas and ten years ago, to Disney World.  Our daughter-in-law has to be in Washington next week for a conference.  Our son flew here a couple of days early to visit.  So, instead of a more elaborate trip, my wife and I will join our daughter, our son and his wife in Washington on Saturday night for a family dinner.  On the day our son called and told us he was coming, I was looking into taking my wife to London for a week.  So, even though a weekend in D.C. isn’t cheap, this is saving me a ton of money.

My wife usually drives our new Hyundai.  Most people get less than the EPA estimate for around-town gas mileage.  So does she.  I’ll be driving it to Washington and I’ll be interested in seeing what kind of gas mileage it gets on the highway.

Silver, gold, ruby, sapphire, diamond?  Why are there no traditional wedding anniversary presents for guys?

Last night, I found an anniversary card that tells the woman recipient that marrying her is the smartest thing her husband ever did.  Of course, I bought it.  I’ve been saying that to so many people for so long now that even Hallmark knows.

While our son is here, I’m going to get him to help me carry two old, metal radiator covers out to my truck so I can recycle them.  I never liked them and I recently replaced them with wooden covers I built myself.  I stained them to match the wood trim in the house and they look much nicer than the old ones.

It now appears that Paul Ryan will be the next Speaker of the House of Representatives.  It’s hard to imagine why he wants it.  The Republican caucus in Congress is fractured.  A sub-group, the Freedom Caucus, is very conservative and disinclined to compromise, so being Speaker is a job that is a lot like herding kittens.  Plus, since he ran for Vice President in 2012, it’s reasonable to surmise that Ryan has designs on the White House.  The last Speaker of the House to become President was James K. Polk who was President from 1845 to 1849.  Polk was, in fact, the only Speaker to go on to be President.  It’s an awfully high ranking dead-end job, but if Ryan becomes Speaker and wants to be President, his most likely way to achieve the Presidency is if both the President and Vice President die.  It’s relatively little known that the Speaker is next in line to the Presidency after the Vice President.

If California Congressman Kevin McCarthy withdrew from the race to become the next Speaker of the House of Representatives to keep rumors of an extra-marital affair from becoming widely known, that didn’t work very well at all.  For the record, I read those rumors in the newspapers, as most people did, and have no idea whether they’re true.

Verizon wants you to update the software on your computer that interacts with your Verizon cell phone.  So, they send updates, a lot of updates.  And, in the lower right-hand corner of your screen, a little dialogue box appears urging you to install software that’s been downloaded.  The box doesn’t tell you what software or carry a Verizon logo.  Until I found out what it was, I would never touch it, even though it nagged me.  I did update once, but it’s still nagging me.  I can tell it to install later, and it asks me again multiple times a day.  Eliminating the nagging is more important to me than updating the software.  If Verizon doesn’t change its ways soon, I’ll just uninstall the software to end the annoyance.

I used to think I had made two mistakes in high school:  I thought I was the only person that awkward; and I thought I’d get over it.  Turns out I made three.  I also thought I’d eventually be too old for pimples.

Things I Know

It should go without saying around here, but let’s go Mets.  Okay?

I’ve got a solution to the California drought.  All we need to do is get everyone in the state to wash and wax their cars on the same day.

A deranged young man shot up a community college in Oregon.  Nine dead, not including him.  In Tennessee, an 11-year-old boy got his father’s shotgun from an unlocked closet and murdered his 8-year-old neighbor because she wouldn’t let him play with her puppy.  I don’t pretend to know the answer.  I hope someone smarter than me knows what to do to make this situation better.  But I do know what I’ve told my kids since they were little:  If what you’re doing isn’t working, try something else.  More mental health initiatives might help.  Holding gun owners responsible if they don’t secure their guns from their kids might help too.

From the latest Arby’s TV commercial:  “Bacon is a present pigs give you when you’re good.”  I never thought of it that way before, but, yeah.

It’s hard to imagine living a better life than baseball great Yogi Berra who passed away last month at age 90.  He served in the Navy during World War II, aboard one of the small rocket boats that bombarded the French coast on D-Day.  He was one of the best catchers ever to play the game, a fabled bad-ball hitter, tremendously clutch, managed both the Yankees and the Mets to the World Series, played and coached in more World Series than anyone else, was married for over 60 years, was successful in business too.  Although his funeral was in Montclair, NJ, Timothy Cardinal Dolan traveled from Manhattan to celebrate Yogi’s funeral mass.  Considering what baseball players make these days, it’s astonishing to realize that Berra was never paid more than $65,000 as one of the best players around.  And the unintentionally funny way he twisted the language kept him in the public eye even after he retired from baseball.

It probably helps Garmin technical support to reply automatically to emails, based on key words.  But, their replies would be more useful if they had some human read the requests before answering.  I got a lengthy answer from Garmin recently.  Lovely.  It contained lots of information, except it didn’t answer either of my questions.

Also, a suggestion for Garmin:  If someone is trying to get to Washington, D.C., I think it would be good if the software would accept that, as well as “District of Columbia” when it asks for state or province.  It took me a while to figure that out when looking for directions on my next trip.  I know how to get to D.C., but I don’t go very often, so I still need help navigating around once I get there.

I recently bought a lightly used 2014 Hyundai Santa Fe Sport.  The Sport has five seats.  The Santa Fe minus the sport has seven.  So far, I like it just fine and my wife likes it too.  She drives it more than I do.  But, if you’re an obsessive-compulsive type who needs to make sure locks are locked, you might not.  The front doors have a button and a handle.  If you have the proximity key with you, the button locks and unlocks the car, while the handle unlatches the doors.  The hatch just has a button that locks, unlocks and opens the hatch.  So, if you close it, lock it and want to be sure it’s locked, touching the button to try to open the hatch unlocks and opens it, provided of course the proximity key is in your pocket or purse.

The car came with a free trial of Sirius/XM radio.  I’m not sure how many channels it has, but I basically listen to two.  I like it, but don’t spend enough time in the car to justify paying what it costs to subscribe.

I’ve gotten pretty used to the proximity key to unlock, start, and lock the car.  However, when I leave the car, I still try to pull the non-existent physical key out of the ignition.

Do you know what a counter-balanced hood is?  It’s a car hood that uses springs to hold it open, instead of propping it up with a rod or stick.  The Hyundai has a counter-balanced hood.  I don’t remember if I bought the last car I owned with a counter-balanced hood in 1987 or 1980.

My 2008 Nissan Frontier has generally been reliable, but when it hasn’t been, the dealer has been good, but the parts that have broken are expensive.  While it was still under warranty (thank God!) a seatbelt sensor failed.  To replace that, you have to replace the whole seat assembly.  That just reeks of poor design to me. You ought to be able to fix something without replacing other, expensive things that don’t need fixing.  In the past two months, I’ve had two tire pressure sensors fail.  The dealer charged me $115 each for the sensors.  And the dealer’s shop manual says it takes an hour to replace one.  I didn’t stand and watch, but I doubt it does.  I’m not sure if that’s the going rate for sensors.  I couldn’t find any OEM sensors, but I found some in the range of what they cost for other cars, around $40 each, and the most expensive one I found outside my dealer’s shop was about $80.  I know tire pressure sensors have been required on new cars for more than a decade, but it just doesn’t make sense to me.  Each one (and a car has four) is a lot more expensive than a tire gauge (and you only need one of those).  Plus, even with the sensors, you still need a tire gauge to tell you whether the tire is actually low on air or if one or more of the sensors is broken.

If the tire pressure sensors on my Nissan truck continue to fail at the rate of one every two months, I’ll be selling it and getting something else before the end of this year.  I hate buying cars and generally keep each one way longer than the average driver does, so if I buy two cars in one year, that will be a record for me.  One a decade is more typical behavior on my part.

Things I Want (or Need) to Know

I hope the Mets clinch the National League East pennant today, but will they?

When the Pope said mass before 20 thousand people at Madison Square Garden, how many ushers did they need to pass the collection plates?

Why do I have to tap my cell phone three times to turn it off?  If I could turn it off by mistake with only one tap, I’d need just a second tap, not a third, to turn it back on.

Why does fixing the tire pressure monitoring system (TPMS) on my Nissan Frontier cost so much more than it would cost to buy a tire gauge?  And, don’t I need the gauge anyway to see if the TPMS is broken or if my tires really are low on air?

Text messaging costs the telephone company almost nothing to provide.  Yet, the phone company charges for it and doesn’t charge for it the way any other company charges for its merchandise and/or services. The phone company the person who receives the messages, not the person who sends them.  If I had to pay to send text messages, it wouldn’t bother me:  paying to receive them does.  As far as I know, this is the only instance in the world where someone who didn’t order something from a private business has to pay for it.  What makes the phone company so special in that regard?

Speaking of the phone company, I got a letter from them telling me I have to call them to make an appointment because they’re changing our whole area over from copper to fiber.  Should it bother me as much as it does that they don’t seem to know they already changed me over to fiber?

Daily News

There’s an old riddle:  What’s black, and white, and read all over?  Because  people who hear, rather than read, it will think red not read, many people who’ve never heard the riddle before don’t come up with the answer which is, a newspaper. Today, thanks to technological advances, newspapers are suffering.  Black, and white,  and red still means a newspaper if the red is the kind of ink most of them buy by the barrel for their accounting departments.  It’s no trade secret that the NY Daily News has been bleeding money for years.  Recent reports say the paper loses more than $20 million a year.  The owner, Mort Zuckerman, has been trying to sell it for quite a while, without attracting a buyer who’ll pay a price he can live with.

Within the past week, the NY Daily News laid off a huge number of its brand-name writers, the people who made the paper what it was.  Sports columnist Mike Lupica has a lucrative contract, but reports say he’s gone as soon as it’s up.  Eight other sports writers including Filip Bondy and Hall of Fame baseball writer Bill Madden are gone.  So is David Hinckley who has covered broadcasting for the paper since I was a broadcaster, music writer Jim Farber and others.  When historians said a Roman legion was decimated, they meant one of ten members was killed.  This is worse than that.

In fact, laid off is really the wrong term for it.  Laid off used to mean that when business got better the company wanted to hire these workers back.  The Daily News has fired the writers who created its personality, most of what its remaining readers  bought the paper for.

I did my little bit to help.  I have it delivered to my house on a daily basis.  My wife still reads it, but I hardly ever do.  Like so many people these days, I get a lot of my news and information from the Internet.  I certainly don’t have an answer for the Daily News.  Even in a city like New York where almost everyone commutes to work on public transportation and people used to read newspapers on the subway, circulation is falling.  People have their noses buried not in a paper, but in a phone, an iPad, some other tablet, or they’re listening to some kind of MP3 player on ear buds.  Ad revenue for newspapers has sunk too because basically all auto, real estate, movie and classified advertising has moved from daily newspapers to the Internet.  A lot of people who used to work at the NY Daily News don’t anymore.  It won’t surprise me and I’ll be sad when it happens, but I think pretty soon nobody will be working at the Daily News and what was once New York’s largest circulation newspaper will be no more. 

Things I Know

If you want to run for Congress in New York, next year, you should probably declare by next month at the latest, in other words, a month before this year’s election.  Why?  Because nominating petitions go out in March and party primaries are in June.  So, the Presidency is no longer the only office you have to start campaigning for prior to the year you hope to be elected.

If you’re 45 minutes late when you call to tell me you’re going to be late, I already know that.

Just one guy’s opinion, but if I had Mavis Staples on my new TV show (and I don’t have her on and don’t have a new TV show or an old one either) I wouldn’t put her on as a cameo and last. I could certainly have her close the show, but if I did that it would be as a featured act and she would get billing.

I enjoyed Stephen Colbert on Comedy Central’s Colbert Report.  I thought the first two nights of his new Late Show on CBS were kind of shaky though.  Too much of what was supposed to be funny wasn’t funny to me.  That’s to be expected.  I think I’ll give him a couple of weeks to settle in before I watch again.

If you answer the phone after one or two rings and nobody is there, it’s a robocaller that guessed wrong on how long it would take you to get to the phone.  When that happens, my warped mind thinks they’re selling quiet.  Since I used to be on the radio, I don’t want any dead air.  My sister is a librarian.  They should call her.  Librarians can always use a little more silence.

Things I Want (Or Need) to Know

According to the website of the NY Daily News: “A 24-year-old mother is in custody after her two young children were found barefoot, dirty and living in a wooden shipping crate in an underground cave on the eastern edge of Kansas City, Mo.”  This is, of course, a terrible way to treat children.  Still, I must have missed something.  What kind of cave isn’t underground?

 Hungary doesn’t want refugees from the Middle East and the refugees just want to pass through to get to Germany. I know you’re supposed to register when you enter an EU country, but still why is Hungary keeping the refugees from leaving?

Every time I buy medicine at my local CVS drug store, they ask me for my date of birth.  Is it too much for me to expect them to send me a birthday card?

Do you know what a TPMS warning light is, or what it’s warning you about?  It’s a system in all late model cars that tells you if the tires are under-inflated.  If it comes on, you should check the tires, inflate them if necessary and get the system serviced.  It doesn’t bother me if you don’t know that, but the one in my truck is on.  It was on for two months and I’ve repeatedly checked the tire pressure.  It’s fine, so I called the dealer.  What bothers me is the woman who answered the phone  in the service depart didn’t know what it is.  The other things that bother me are I had it fixed, two months later, it broke again, and these things cost a lot more than a tire gauge.

Prince William is bald.  Kate isn’t.  Why don’t they make him wear the silly hats?

Have you ever installed a new electric box and found the hole in the drywall was too large for the box to fit snugly? I didn’t do that, but the electrician I hired did, and hid it.  The outlet is seldom used so it’s long past the time when any complaint would seem legitimate.  There are two kinds of electric boxes:  new work boxes are attached to the studs before the wall board or paneling is installed; and old-work boxes fit in a hole in wall and use ears on the outside and little, moveable tabs on the inside of the wall to keep the box in place.  If the hole for a new work box is too big, you can buy an over-sized cover plate.  If the hole for an old-work box is too big, they don’t make a box with bigger ears and tabs.  You have to fix the wallboard.

How do you make the hole for an old-work box too big anyway?  You don’t measure them.  You hold a box up to the wall and trace around it with a pencil.  Then, you cut along the lines.  Maybe that’s why they don’t make an box with big ears and tabs to fix it.

Things I Know

Rowan County KY clerk Kim Davis isn’t having her religious beliefs violated. She is in charge of issuing marriage licenses in that area and says her religious beliefs forbid her to sanction gay marriage. Fine, but the law requires her to issue the licenses, so she should do that or quit her job. If I had a job that required me to work on the Sabbath and my religious beliefs forbade that, I could quit my job. That’s what she should do if that’s what she believes.

GOP presidential hopeful Mike Huckabee is going all out to support Ms. Davis, urging her release from jail where she’s being held for contempt of court.  Huckabee says you should obey laws if they’re right.  In the past, civil disobedience meant violating a law you thought unjust and willingly accepting the consequences.  I’m kind of torn,  Should I vote for Huckabee because he thinks we should ignore laws we disagree with and suffer no consequences, or should I vote for anyone but Huckabee because he thinks we should ignore laws we disagree with and suffer no consequences?

No matter what the weather maven on TV is telling you, today is not the last day of summer.  There are still about two weeks left.  Don’t let them rob you of the beach.  If your schedule permits, for instance if you’re not stuck in school, keep going to the beach until the weather is too cool for you.

I should know better than to upgrade iTunes without reading reviews. I hadn’t updated that software in a long time, and this summer, I installed version 12.2.0.145. I like the list view and the ability to sort by any of the columns on display that existed in the version I was using.   I didn’t note what version I was using before. I found how to restore the list view for all my music, but either that view is missing from playlists or I can’t find it. So, I officially hate iTunes version 12.2.0.145. I rolled it back, but not to the exact same version I was using.  Can any of you readers suggest another good program I can use to play music on my computer? I have Media Monkey too and I’m not really happy with it either.

If anyone reads this with any regularity, they know I call my wife Saint Karen because I figure she must be a saint to put up with me. She just walked into the living room and asked me if I put new light bulbs in the range hood over the stove. I told her I had placed my hands on the hood and said, “Heal.” Then I said, “Worship me, or at least put up with me.” She said she could put up with me for a little while longer, so I guess we’re still good.

The lovely Saint Karen and I took a ride out east on Long Island at the end of June and again in August. We went to Montauk and had lunch at Gosman’s Restaurant which is on the west side of the entrance to Lake Montauk. By the way, Lake Montauk isn’t a lake, it’s a harbor. It’s been years since we’ve been there, too many years. The cuisine is simple, fresh and mostly seafood. On our first visit, we had a lovely waitress from Ireland. The check indicated her name is Anna. It’s more expensive than it used to be (lunch for the two of us was $66 plus tax and tip), but on a sunny summer day, there’s really no place I like to be more than sitting outside at Gosman’s under an umbrella, watching boats go in and out of the harbor, and enjoying lunch with my wife.

The problem is that it now takes about three hours on a weekday to drive from where I live to Montauk.  Since it’s Labor Day and still warm, maybe we’ll make another attempt in a week or two.  I know there’s no really good solution to traffic on Long Island’s south fork, but it would help if they widened State Rte 27 to four lanes for a mile or two after it merges with 27A by the diner just east of Southampton Village.  The two roads come together and merge into one two-lane highway.  Big bottleneck!

Last month, Citibank cancelled my Master Card because I hadn’t used it in a long time. Fair enough. No complaint here about that. But, four weeks later, they sent me a mailing inviting me to apply for another Master Card with a special, introductory rate.

I’m Back

This site has been broken for a couple of months and I didn’t have time to fix it because Saint Karen was sick.  If a new reader should happen along, Saint Karen is my wife and I call her that because I figure she has to be a saint to put up with me.  What she had isn’t supposed to be serious, but it is surgery and I certainly took it seriously.  She’s better now and she’s recuperating.  By that I mean the surgical scars have healed and she’s no longer sore, but she does still tire easily.

However, Saint Karen isn’t just more important to me than anything else in my life.  She’s more important to me than everything else in my life.  So, if she needs my attention or care or even if she just wants it, she comes first.  I’m not sure where the Sisyphus Project comes, but it isn’t first and when Saint Karen calls, everything else gets short shrift.   Anyone who doesn’t like that can complain to me.  Once said complaint is received, I promise I will ignore it.

The blog/website isn’t completely fixed yet, but it is now legible and all posts are accessible.  That hasn’t happened in quite a while.  I have managed to restore the ability to post at least some photos, but I still have to work on improving the layout and features of the space.