Things I Know

The Daily News website on Friday announced that Jimmy Fallon was hospitalized after surgery. I’m just guessing here, but he was probably hospitalized for surgery and then remained hospitalized afterward. Get well Jimmy.

I hope this doesn’t happen to you. I installed the Chrome browser on a computer at work. Then I signed in to my personal Google account to gain access to my list of favorites. To be clear, a lot of those favorites have to do with my work. When I was done, I signed out of my Google account and erased my browsing history before closing Chrome, but not uninstalling it, and signing off the computer. Next time I used Chrome on that computer, without signing into my Google account, I was alarmed to see that all of my favorites, not just the business-related ones, were shown in the browser. Don’t know if I did something wrong or if Chrome is programmed to act like that, but it’s something to keep an eye out for.

“It’s a free country, which is why we should take down the flag that says it isn’t.”–Larry Wilmore.

On the other hand, when Apple removed a game from its app store because it contained a Confederate battle flag, I think they went a little overboard because it was a Civil War game. By the way, that flag which is now so controversial was not the official flag of the Confederate States of America. It wasn’t even the battle flag of all the Confederate troops. It was the battle flag for the Confederate Army of Northern Virginia, in other words, General Lee’s army.

Here’s a map of all the states I’ve been in, courtesy of maploco.com. I think it’s pretty impressive, considering that I’ve never had a job which required me to travel extensively. I’ve been a couple of miles from Mississippi, Michigan, and Wisconsin, but I didn’t go out of my way to cross those borders just to say I’d been there.


Create Your Own Visited States Map

Oooohhhhhh, What He Said!

I don’t have any problem with President Obama’s appearance on comedian Mark Maron’s podcast. For those who missed it, the President said, “Racism, we are not cured of it. And it’s not just a matter of it not being polite to say nigger in public. That’s not the measure of whether racism still exists or not. It’s not just a matter of overt discrimination. Societies don’t, overnight, completely erase everything that happened 200 to 300 years prior.”

I don’t have a problem with it because he’s right. It is impolite to call someone that and the fact that it’s impolite, or even the fact that we’ve elected an African American President, and reelected him, doesn’t mean there’s no more racism. Also, please note that while President Obama said an offensive word, he didn’t call anyone that.

I do have a small problem with people who say, “the n-word, the f-word or the s-word.” If we know what all of those things are, why aren’t the substitute phrases just as offensive as actually saying the words? Plus, that structure is illogical. Based on the number of pages starting with each letter in a dictionary, there ought to be two or three times as many s-words as either of the other two, but there is only one of each.

Things I Want (or Need) to Know

The late radio commentator Paul Harvey used to observe that people who did terrible things often did so to become famous. Then, he wouldn’t use their names in his radio reports. So, did you see the pictures of the Charleston mass murderer? The one that caught my eye was the scrawny kid wearing a shirt from Gold’s Gym. Since racism and anti-Semitism often go hand in hand, I hope he has learned that Joe Gold, sometimes credited with popularizing body building and the founder of Gold’s Gym, was Jewish.

You have to wonder not what, but whether Joyce Mitchell was thinking. She’s the 51-year-old former employee of New York’s Clinton Correctional Facility in Dannemora NY. Mitchell is charged with aiding two convicted murderers to escape from the 170-year-old prison. What positive outcome could she possibly have envisioned? I’m guessing that if they had gone together to kill her husband, the two escaped murderers would have killed her as well.

You also have to wonder whether the two convicted murderers who escaped from the Clinton Correctional Facility are more comfortable hiding out in the woods and scrounging for food over the last two-and-a-half weeks than they would have been if they didn’t escape.

And, if you wonder what Dannemora and the now infamous prison are near, the answer is they aren’t near anything.

In my house, furniture like bookcases and bureaus that you place against, but don’t attach, to the wall wind up with a lot of dust on their backs. But the wall behind the furniture doesn’t have the same problem, or at least doesn’t have it any near as badly as the furniture does. Why? Is there good physics behind that?

Am I being unreasonable? I assume that any company unethical enough to violate the federal no-call law to sell me something will also be unethical in dealing with me if I buy from them.

Have you seen the TV commercials for Liberty Mutual Insurance that are shot near the Statue of Liberty? If so, what’s a torque ratio? I’ve never heard the phrase before.

Optimum cable has a very cute commercial for their multi-room DVR service about an older sister and younger brother signing a formal peace accord. Funny, but obviously fiction.

A security officer was shot and the two gunmen responsible were killed during an incident in Texas a while back at a Muhammad cartoon contest. No question that Muslims are offended by any representation, even a respectful one, of the Prophet. Also no question that in the US the contest was legal. Still, who thought it was a good idea?

Now that Heinz is making mustard, shouldn’t they change it to 58 varieties? Also, now that Heinz makes mustard, I suppose it was inevitable that French’s should make ketchup and they are.

What’s up with major league baseball players and beards? Do any of them look good?

Father’s Day

My father was a remarkable man. He shouldered far more responsibility than most people would want. As the oldest son, he shouldered it beginning when he was 10 years old and his father died. He quit school at the end of eighth grade to support his mother, brothers and sisters. He married pretty late in life and continued to support his mother until she died.

He didn’t complain when his wife spent a great deal of her time and effort caring for her father, even though it meant that they were separated by 30 miles or so for weeks on end. He gave up the job he loved, he was a cop, at my mother’s request and never had another job that was as good. I’m aware of some of the sacrifices he made for my sister and me, but I’m pretty sure I don’t know the half of it. He had an incurable disease and I think he could have survived at least a little longer, but gave up, while he was in the hospital, near the time when his hospitalization insurance expired because he didn’t want to be a burden.

He died when I was 22 years old. He didn’t get to see me or my sister graduate from college, get married or have children. He liked young children a lot better than he liked most adults. He understood that children like whimsy. He would have loved grandchildren and they him. When he was a school bus driver, he’d ask little kids on the bus questions like whether they were married and what kind of job they had, just to make them laugh and relieve their nervousness over this new thing called school.

One memory I have of him is that when we were little if we said he was handsome, he’d insist he was pretty and we’d argue about it until we were laughing.

Because he passed away before I had a family, I never spoke with him about the responsibilities he assumed every day until he died. I couldn’t ask, because I didn’t understand or appreciate them. And because we never had that discussion, I can only speculate about why he did what he did, so I still don’t understand, but I sure as hell appreciate them now. I only hope that he saw himself they way I now see him: a remarkable man.

Things I Know

Donald Trump for president will at least be interesting. I’m actually surprised he declared since he has flirted with running both for the presidency and for NY governor before. Mr. Trump certainly has name recognition, although a lot of it is negative. He may be too brash and too blunt for politics and the way he goes on the attack when anyone criticizes him suggests he may have too thin a skin. For now, I think he has very little chance of getting the nomination, but he has accomplished an awful lot being him, so I’ll wait and see what develops.

All the news from Dannemora NY about two convicted murderers escaping from the Clinton Correctional Facility reminds me of a story. Back when I was a radio reporter a convicted murderer was brought from Dannemora to NY Supreme Court in Riverhead to testify in someone else’s trial. Another radio reporter, not me, I swear, walked up to said murderer, stuck a microphone in his face and sang out a question: “How are things in Dannemora?” He sang it, of course to the tune of the Irish ballad, “How are things in Glocca Mora?” from the Broadway show “Finian’s Rainbow.” I don’t think he got any kind of answer other than a scowl and you can’t show a scowl on the radio, but we all thought it was funny.

Clinton, by the way, at 170 years old, but it is only the third oldest prison still in use in New York State. Auburn and Ossining (popularly known as Sing Sing) are older. The first state prison in New York, Newgate, built in the 18th century, was north of New York city in Greenwich Village, so being sent there was called being sent up the river. Thus the origin of that phrase. Sing Sing was built to replace Newgate, which no longer exists.

From the NY Daily News’ website a while back:

“Thomas Brennan, 25, and his girlfriend face an array of charges in connection with the death of Scott Stephen Bernheisel last month. A man and his girlfriend were arrested Sunday night in connection with the alleged murder of a man whose rotting body was discovered in a leather suitcase near Philadelphia International Airport last month, according to reports.”

They are alleged murderers, but it’s not an alleged murder: The corpse had been bludgeoned and stabbed. I know the first commandment of journalism is, “Though shall always remember the allegedly.” Still, in my opinion, the Daily News overuses the word.

Rachael Dolezal: It would be great if what race we were never mattered, but we’re not really there yet, are we?

I like old cars and occasionally go to local show and shine events. On Friday, driving home from one, I was behind a ’57 Chevy. They don’t build ’em like they used to. Compared with modern cars, the taillights on a shoe-box Chevy are tiny, and dim. Plus, the high-mounted center brake light on newer cars does make a difference. ’57 Chevy convertibles are pretty valuable cars. If I owned one, after what I saw on Friday, I’m pretty sure I wouldn’t drive it at night.

Bernie Sanders (I-Vermont) sure doesn’t sound like he’s from New England.

Things I Know

Bob Schieffer retired last weekend. He’s 78 and said he wanted to go while he could still do the job. And since he can, he’s moving on to a fellowship at Harvard for the next three semesters. I hope I don’t have to tell you who Bob Schieffer is, but in case I do, he was a reporter, anchor and host of Face the Nation since beginning at CBS in 1969. Did you know how he came to national attention? He was a newspaper reporter in Dallas TX when President Kennedy was killed and it was Schieffer who interviewed Lee Harvey Oswald’s mother and drove her to the police station where her son was being held.

We’ve lost a lot of TV programs recently. Chelsea Handler, Craig Ferguson, Don Imus, Dave Letterman, Bob Scheiffer and soon John Stewart. Steven Colbert is gone too, but he’s coming back as Letterman’s replacement. Scheiffer may not have been the most entertaining, but he was the most informative and probably the most informed too.

They’re removing all the padlocks, some 45 tons of them, from the Pont des Arts bridge in Paris. About a decade ago, people started putting locks on the bridge’s railings to symbolize their love. Last year part of the bridge railing collapsed, causing authorities to decide to remove them and to revamp the bridge so they can’t be put back.

When I was in London last year, there were a few padlocks on the Millennium pedestrian bridge across the Thames too. I wondered why they were there, because I hadn’t heard of the Paris tradition. Now, I know.

Former NY governor George Pataki is never going to be President of the United States. He’s never going to be the Republican nominee for President either, despite declaring his candidacy last week.

Donald Trump isn’t either. In fact, Trump has flirted with entering politics as a presidential or gubernatorial candidate enough times that nobody should consider taking him seriously in that regard unless and until he actually does go through the process of officially declaring his candidacy.

Things I Know

My wife’s high school reunion is coming up in August. We’re going. I sent in the check and it cleared. We went to the same high school, two years apart, so unlike some married couples, there will be people I know at her reunion. In fact, there will be women I dated in high school at her reunion. Before the story I often tell about how I met my wife and noticed, by being a volunteer chauffer at a high school play rehearsal, we were introduced (and I didn’t notice) by one of my girlfriends. I like high school reunions, because I get to see some people I liked in high school and, because it’s not high school anymore, I get to like some people I didn’t like in high school too.

There was a very cute and outgoing toddler in the supermarket the other day. I remarked to his mom that all cute little kids had to step up their game thanks to Reilly Curry.

Another example of fail on the part of Amazon.com’s search function, this one particularly egregious: I searched for Samsung blu ray player and sorted it by price, lowest to highest. I wanted a Samsung because I bought a Samsung TV and think the Samsung remote will probably work well with both of them. The first Samsung blu ray player I turned up in that search was on page 255 of 291 pages of search results. I imagine it would have turned up sooner if I sorted by relevance, but I wanted to find the cheapest one and thought that would be an effective way to search. It wasn’t.

I saw a list recently on the Internet that purports to contain the top ten professions for psychopaths. There was no attribution, so I have no idea how accurate it was. However, I have held four of those ten jobs, so maybe it’s right on target.

Things I Know

Ronald Nelson, an 18-year-old high school senior from Tennessee, turned down all eight Ivy League colleges to attend the University of Alabama this fall. Nothing against the Crimson Tide, they do have a great football program, an honors college and their alma mater is the same tune as Cornell’s. Plus, my son and one of my nieces are grads. Still, the reason he said he chose Alabama is he got more financial aid and didn’t want to accumulate a huge student-loan debt. Maybe it was a sensible decision. One that wasn’t: the article I read suggested he applied to at least 14 colleges. That costs a pretty penny too.

Proms have changed a lot since I was a kid. Mine was held in the high school gym. Today, where I live, a prom must be held in a catering hall. I took my date and another couple to the prom in my car. Today, a limo is de rigueur. One school in Connecticut raised the ire of parents and students when it announced it is enforcing a dress code, but announced it a week before the prom, which is long after all the girls have purchased their dresses. The dresses are different too. Many are backless or have slits exposing a leg.

Invitations are different as well. One guy created a fictional crime scene with himself as a corpse and said he was dying to go to the prom with his girl. Another baked his prospective prom date a fancy cake with the word “Prom” on it. One more posted a video of himself skydiving, carrying a sign with the same word. At least the fad of seniors inviting celebrities to the prom seems to have passed its peak of popularity.

I attended high school shortly after the earth cooled and early in my senior year, I experienced a bad break up, so I stopped dating for a while. I wanted to go to prom, so I started again, dating two girls at the same time which was unusual for me. I asked one of them, a junior, to the prom and she said yes, but then called me and told me her parents would not let her go.

So, I asked the other, a sophomore. Did you know that the roots of the word sophomore are Greek and essentially mean wise fool? Neither invitation was elaborate. Both, in fact, were phone calls. When I asked the second girl she said, “Well, it’s about time. How many other girls did you ask before you asked me?” Since she asked, I told her, “Only one.” I have an excuse for my boorish behavior; I was a 17-year-old boy.

I don’t think a senior prom is a life-altering event, but maybe mine was. From that point, I dated my prom date exclusively for seven or eight months. During that time, she introduced me to a classmate who eventually became my wife, Saint Karen, who must be a saint to put up with me. I’ve told a different story about how I met my wife and both are actually true, because when my prom date introduced us, Saint K made no impression on me at all, but when she finally did impress me, the other girl who introduced us was also a friend I met through my prom date.

I bought my wife, Saint Karen (who has to be a saint to put up with me), a big TV for the living room. It’s a combination birthday and Mother’s Day present. Every once in a while, her birthday and Mother’s Day coincide, but not this year. Still, I don’t usually buy combo presents. But, it’s a REALLY big and therefore expensive TV. I’m considering mounting the TV on the wall, or buying a piece of furniture to put it on. Since we often watch TV in a reclining chair, the furniture would ideally be tall enough so that it appears above my big feet when I’m reclining in said recliner. If you haven’t tried to find something like that on line, you’d probably be surprised at how hard it is to find out how tall a piece of furniture is on a sellers website. Kudos to Raymour and Flanigan, a big furniture retailer in my area. You can filter their selections using a range of heights and a range of widths too.

Skelos

Newspapers reported over the weekend and this morning that Dean Skelos, indicted Majority Leader of the New York State Senate, would be ousted today from his position of power. This, after Skelos received a vote of confidence from the Senate’s Republican conference just last week.

There is, unfortunately, a lot of history with regard to indicted legislative leaders in New York, and that history suggests that Skelos’ ouster following his indictment was bound to happen. So, one has to wonder why he sought the confidence vote last week, when he had to know he would face the end of his leadership very shortly. The confidence vote just prolonged the agony and the bad publicity.

There are a couple of other things one has to wonder as well. First, why doesn’t the New York State Senate have a rule governing what happens when the Senate Majority Leader is indicted? There should be a rule. Skelos is the fifth Senate Majority Leader in a row to be indcited while in office. And, second, since five New York State Senate Majority Leaders in a row have been indicted, why would anyone want to succeed Skelos? Why are at least two people vying for the position?

Things I Know

According to several newspaper reports about the soon to be released documentary “I Am Big Bird,” Caroll Spinney, the puppeteer who plays Big Bird, was supposed to be on the Challenger space shuttle that exploded killing its entire crew back in 1986. Some PR genius thought it would spark children’s interest in the US space program if Big Bird flew on the Challenger. It was only after NASA determined that the costume would not fit on the shuttle that the idea was dropped and Spinney’s place was taken by teacher Christa McAuliffe. The Challenger explosion was a disastrous setback for the space program and a tragedy for those killed and their families. Not to diminish the impact of those deaths in any way, but can you imagine the space program even continuing if millions of kindergarten kids had watched Big Bird explode, live on TV? Sometimes a PR stunt that would be good if it worked would be so bad if it failed that it just shouldn’t be considered at all.

I want to buy my wife a new TV for her birthday, but figuring out which one isn’t easy.

When I’m in the market for a hat to keep the sun off my head and face, as I am now, I’d like to know how wide the brim is and what kind of sweatband it has. Both of those things are missing from the description of most hats I see on line. I want to know about the sweatband because if it’s stiff, wearing the hat for a while will give me a headache.

Honestly people, go to the DMV, get the driver’s license booklet and review the correct way to make a left turn. If you’re in the left lane when you start your turn, you’re supposed to be in the left lane when you finish. Similarly, if you’re in the right lane when you start, you should be in the right lane when you’ve finished. If you didn’t do that on your driver’s test, that’s why you flunked.

Yesterday, I was at the intersection of two four-lane roads. The one I was on had two left-turn lanes. I was in the right-most of the two because I wanted to get all the way over to the right soon after turning. The SUV to my left made its left-hand turn across four lanes of traffic, cutting me off and all without signaling! What’s more common and what I experienced earlier in the week, was someone making a right turn across three lanes of traffic and winding up in the left lane. Again, cutting me off as I tried to make a left at the same intersection, but headed in the other direction.

Most people do this wrong. It’s wrong because the intersection can handle cars heading in opposite directions turning at the same time if it’s done correctly. But it’s done wrong many more times than it’s done correctly. In fact, I assume (and you should too) that all drivers are going to make these turns much wider than they’re supposed to. If you assume everyone is going to do it wrong, you’ll save a lot of money on collision insurance.

Things I Know

It didn’t occur to me until I saw a picture of the US Capitol being used as a backdrop on the news set at CNN, but there’s scaffolding all around the Capitol Dome and CNN hasn’t bothered to use an up to date picture. Since I noticed that, I’ve seen a lot of other articles in print and on the Internet use an older picture, sans scaffolding. The scaffolding is there because the dome is undergoing a multi-million dollar restoration that will be completed sometime next year.

My lawnmower has an electric starter with a rechargeable battery. The battery has worn out, so I opened the case to get a part number. On the battery it says BP3-12. I trotted off to the Toro dealer to buy a new one and he said he couldn’t tell what battery it needed unless I knew the model number of the mower. I don’t know where on the mower that’s hidden, but I do know it’s hidden. So, I went on line and found any number of replacement batteries based on the number printed on the battery. Instead of installing a new battery this afternoon, I have to wait till it’s delivered on Friday.

I understand that manufacturers use parts created by subcontractors, but they ought to be able to provide a replacement part based on the part itself, rather than the piece of equipment the part belongs to. I had a similar problem with an Andersen window. Took the sash balance into an Andersen dealer who told me he needed the sash, not the part. Again, I was able to order it on line based on the part.

I understand needing the VIN on a car (not VIN number, the n stands for number). Cars have lots of options and sometimes changes occur during a model year. But you ought to be able to find a replacement part for a lawn mower or a window if you have the part. You can too, you just can’t get it from a dealer.

The Catholic Diocese of Rockville Centre NY has a religious TV channel called Telecare that can be found on channel 29 of my cable system. The other day, while switching from TLC to HGTV, I came across what is probably the single most boring show on TV. They had a priest reciting the rosary. I have nothing against praying, but I don’t think someone reciting the rosary is compelling television.

A 26-year-old guy from Oregon communicated on-line for two years with a 24-yaer-old Alabama woman, then moved across country to meet her for the first time and live with her. She led him outside, had him sit at a table and close his eyes, then fractured his skull with a baseball bat. She said she did it because she didn’t want to be his girlfriend.

When I was in high school, I dated a girl once or twice. I liked her, but apparently it wasn’t mutual, so when I called for a date, she had her mom tell me that she’d gone to some exotic locale with her airline-pilot father for the weekend. This happened several times before I caught on.

Either of these women could have just said no. I know I would have accepted that and I suspect the poor guy from Oregon with the fractured skull would have too.

Things I Want (Or Need) To Know

Kim Kardashian and Kanye West made Time Magazine’s list of the world’s 100 most influential people. So, either it’s not a very serious list, or God help us it is. Which?

What happened to all-night diners. Years ago, they were ubiquitous around here. But I gave my daughter a ride to the airport in the predawn hours this morning and all the diners I encountered were closed at 5:00 AM. One of them still hadn’t opened at 6:00.

The Transportation Safety Administration announced recently that they collected $675,000 in loose change from people who forgot to pick it up or deliberately left it when they went through security at airports policed by the TSA. I have a jar on my dresser that contains my loose change. When it’s full it has about $200 in it. What size change jar does the TSA have on its dresser if it holds more than half a million dollars?

Would the world in general be a better or a worse place if when anyone lied their pants actually did catch on fire?

If polling companies are going to use computers to telephone me and conduct opinion surveys, is there a computer program I can get to answer them? Until I find out, I’ll just hang up. Also, is there a way I can get telephone pollsters to stop calling me? Some of them are really salesmen and even if they’re not, I don’t want to talk to them either.

I wonder if anyone in the world follows the oil-change recommendation on a 4 cylinder, 2008 Nissan Frontier pickup. The owner’s manual specifies 3,750 miles. Who can remember that? I do 4,000, but oil-change intervals are getting longer. I could probably easily get away with 5,000 and either four or five is a lot easier to remember than 3,750.

Why are green seedless grapes almost always more expensive than the red ones?

I’ve seen it several places, so I can’t attribute it, but it’s an important enough question I thought I’d repeat it here. If Apple or Google does create an autonomous, or self-driving automobile, will it have windows?

Things I Know

Editing just isn’t what it used to be. On its website this morning, the NY Daily News describes the Arizona cop who hit an armed felon with his patrol car as “a former NYPD veteran.” I guess the article cleared the redundancy desk at the paper, but got lost between there and the copy desk.

As you may have sumarized based on the occasional mistake I make, this website doesn’t have a copy editor, but I hope the Daily News still does. If you send me too much money, I promise I’ll use some of it to hire one.

I have to assume that Bruce Jenner wants his personal life all over TV and supermarket tabloid rags, because if he’d like to keep his private life private, he’s doing it wrong.

Northeastern University in Boston needs to find a bigger venue for its graduation ceremonies. When my nephew graduates on May 8th, he only gets four tickets for family and friends. So if a graduate has even one sibling and his mother and father have both remarried, all of their immediate family can’t see their achievement celebrated in person. On the other hand, I don’t really need an excuse to visit Boston for a weekend. I can do that anytime I want. And this proud uncle doesn’t have to sit through another two-and-a-half hours of boring speeches. There is that.

Brits are right. Americans should call soccer “football” and find another name for American football. “Running into people” is too long for a name, but I’m sure the NFL could come up with something, maybe even something starting with “F” so they don’t have to change their initials as well. After all, kicking is a very small part of American football and an integral part of what we call soccer.

There’s an ugly statue of the late TV star Lucille Ball in her hometown in upstate New York. Citizens of the town are correct that it doesn’t look anything like her. There’s a campaign on to replace it or to at least replace the head. But why now? The statue has been there for six years.

I stumbled across a website that discusses the meaning of people’s names. It said that the name Thomas means twin. My daughter said she already knew that, but what she couldn’t find is a name that means other twin. So, she thinks if you have male twins they should both be named Thomas.

Things I Know

Happy Passover to my Jewish friends and Happy Easter to my Christian friends. If you celebrate something else at this time of year, I hope you enjoy that too. In fact, I hope you enjoy them whether we’re friends or not.

With all the controversy lately, especially in Arkansas and Indiana, over how to protect a mythical baker from providing a wedding cake to Adam and Steve, there’s one thing I don’t believe anyone has mentioned. As far as I know, baking a cake doesn’t violate anyone’s religious beliefs except possibly if you’re Jewish and it’s Passover.

You’ve no doubt heard the expression, “Dirt cheap.” Lately, not so much. Amazon.com informed me recently that I can buy from them a 15-pound bag of earthworm castings (that’s worm manure to you Bunkie) for roughly $20 including shipping. I think I’ll pass.

l can’t help doing math in my head. Sometimes, this makes me notice something almost nobody else would notice. I was browsing on line to find a place I can rent next March so I can go to baseball Spring Training. One place I located rented for $149 a night or $1,100 a week. Since 9 times 7 is 63, I know the answer has to end in 3, but the question is how much am I saving at $1,100 a week? Nothing. A week costs $57 extra although I have no idea why. Seven times $149 is $1,043. Don’t think I’ll rent that one.

The warranty on any car you own is longer for certain pollution controls and safety items than it is for other things. The check engine light was aglow on my truck and after pulling the code, I took it to the dealer because it was part of the emission system. I had to sit around an uncomfortable waiting room for over three hours, but the repair was free.

In case the New York International Auto Show was expecting me today (I go almost every year, usually on opening day), I’m still coming, but the easiest way for me to get from Penn Station to the Javits Center is to walk and it’s supposed to rain. Expect me Monday when it’s not supposed to rain instead.

And speaking of rain, if April showers bring May flowers, by the end of next week, we should be ready for more flowers than you can shake a stick at. I’m not 100 percent sold on the idea that April showers do bring May flowers anyway. In my experience, April showers tend to bring mildew and black mold.

Things I Know

On this, the last day of the month, I would certainly like to see the lamb that March is supposed to go out like. But snow is predicted today in some parts of the NY Metropolitan area.

I don’t think it’s too late to snow around here once Spring rolls around because I remember it did snow during the Mets’ home opener in 1996. I should know. My daughter and I were there and we left in the second inning.

The controversy over Indiana’s new religious freedom law baffles me. Mr. or Ms. Baker, gay couple doesn’t want you to marry either one of them, they just want you to make them a cake and they’ll pay for it too. So, don’t get hitched to either of them if you don’t want to, but if you’re business is selling cakes to the public, gay people are public too.

My to do list has some things on it that are going on five years old. So, today, I’m starting a don’t do list, if I get around to it.

I hope you had a happy St. Patrick’s Day. Did you try my recipe for Irish coffee? I have it black with no coffee.

I just streamed the movie “Mr. Sherman and Peabody” on Netflix. In case you’re wondering, Mr. Peabody’s first name is Hector. It was never mentioned in the cartoons or in the movie, but it was revealed once in a promo.

Rumer Willis, Charlotte McKinney, and Michael Sam are on the new season of the TV show Dancing With the Stars, but they haven’t changed the name of the show to eliminate the word “stars.” I don’t watch it, so I don’t know if any of them have been voted off yet.

After all the negative publicity (and all the former-ness) former Congressman Anthony Weiner achieved from texting a woman named Sydney Leathers a while back, you’d think that no politician would ever contact Ms. Leathers over the Internet again. You’d be wrong about that. Just ask Indiana State Representative Justin Moed, otherwise known to Ms. Leathers as “bitchboy.”

I think Winthrop University Hospital is a bad name for a good hospital because the hospital isn’t affiliated with Winthrop University, but rather with Stony Brook University. I couldn’t find it on their website, but I presume the “Winthrop” part is the name of someone who donated a considerable amount of money toward the hospital. While the school has been around since the 1860’s, in the hospital’s defense, the school changed its name to “Winthrop University” in 1992, after the hospital assumed its present name. So, there is that.

You’re not supposed to make cell phone calls while driving, unless hands-free (the calls not the driving), I know that. But you’re not supposed to park in the right-turn lane at the exit to Home Depot to make a phone call either, even if you put your flashers on.

In most villages in New York State, the real property tax assessment roll becomes final tomorrow. That’s an April Fool’s joke if I ever heard one.

Things I Know

Amazon.com’s recommendation algorithm never ceases to amaze me. You’d be amazed too if, like me, you had purchased AC Delco 24ACD Clear Vision Wiper Blade with Wear Indicator. I usually run down to the auto parts store for those, but they were on sale. Since I bought them, among many odd things, Amazon.com has suggested that because I did, I should also purchase toilet paper (several brands), moisturizer, cleaning wipes, and gummi bears, among other things. Some of them I can understand if the algorithm picked up the word “wiper” without any context, but some of the ones I haven’t written down are beyond my comprehension.

While listening to the Moth Podcast, I learned that there is such a thing as the Astronaut Hall of Fame. It seems unnecessary to me because I think they should all be in it.

Lesson in writing from the NY Daily News website on recently: “An overweight arsonist who said his clothes were allegedly stolen at Riker’s Island is headed to prison after being sentenced Monday.” The first commandment of journalism is, “Thou should always remember the allegedly,” however, here, it’s unnecessary. As long as the man actually said that, “alleged” is redundant. I, on the other hand, tend to over-use parenthetical phrases.

Department of all-too-common mispronunciations: it’s pundit, not pundint; there’s only one a in masonry; repeat after me – – double-u, not dubba-ya; there are two c’s in Arctic and Antarctic and there are also two t’s in Antarctic; jewelry, not jew-la-ry; and of course nuclear isn’t Nuc-U-lar either. I’ve given up on February because Feb-U-Ary has been going on for so long that it’s now considered a second acceptable pronunciation. The NBC Handbook of Pronunciation has been out of print for decades, but you can still find one, even a new one. Surprisingly, right now on Amazon, a new one in paperback is much more expensive than a new one in hard cover.

And as long as I’m examining pedantry in a pedantic manner, MS Word’s spell checker thinks Antarctic should be capitalized, but doesn’t particularly care if I capitalize Arctic.

The popularity of streaming services, downloadable MP3 files and file sharing have reduced the market for music CD’s. If anyone’s wondering whether streaming has or will substantially reduce the market for movies on DVD, just check the catalogue of Oscar winner Julianne Moore. Hardly an overnight success, Ms. Moore has been in lots of movies. a few aren’t even available as DVD’s, but very few are available to stream on Netflix. So, there’s still a big market for DVD’s, especially since lots of people would rather watch a movie at home than go to a theater to see one.

I don’t usually sign Internet petitions, but I signed this one.

I suppose some Presidents’ Day sales offered substantial savings, but we only got $30 off the new sofa we bought. I’m happy for my wife though. She was satisfied with a sofa we saw at the first store we stopped in. Usually, she has to visit multiple stores before making up her mind.

I was unable to add a date to a photo I put up on Facebook because the photo is older than I am.

Disillusionment has set in because I learned that most of Munich Germany’s famous Oktoberfest is in September. Since I spelled October the German way, I would spell September the German way too, except September is both the English and the German way, although it’s pronounced differently in the two languages. Of course, March Madness lasts well into April, so I guess there’s a precedent of sorts.

I’ve been saying for years that if I should win one of those big lotteries, you know, Powerball or Mega Millions, I’d jump on the bed. I found out watching Nancy Giles’ CBS Sunday Morning report last month that there are people at a mattress factory in San Francisco who are actually paid to do that. I don’t know about you, but being paid to do it would take a lot of fun out of it for me.

Things I Want (or Need) to Know

Today is the seventh anniversary of the Sisyphus Project. I haven’t had anything profound to say in the last seven years, so why should I start now?

Another incidence of who do they think they’re marketing to. Expedia ran a commercial on Valentine’s Day showing lots of couples kissing. The ad went on to say that if you booked a room through Expedia.com on Valentine’s Day, they’d give you $50 off. My problem with the ad? The soundtrack is “This Is the Night For Love” by the Valiants. The song is 56 years old! What demographic are they trying to reach here?

I have the same complaint about the Bank of America’s current TV commercial which uses “Danke Schoen” by Wayne Newton as a sound bed. Exactly what demographic are they marketing to?

Cho Hyun-ah, granddaughter of the founder of Korean Air and a vice president of the company, was sentenced in Seoul to a year in prison because of an incident at Kennedy Airport last December. You may remember news reports that she threw a tantrum when she was served macadamia nuts in a bag rather than a dish, confronting the cabin crew and ordering the plane to return to the gate to throw one crew member off the plane. According to a NY Post article attributed to the Associated Press, “The court said Cho was guilty of forcing a flight to change its route, obstructing the flight’s captain in the performance of his duties and forcing a crew member off a plane.” I don’t think what she did was right, but I do wonder how she gets to go to jail in South Korea over something she did in New York.

Do you have a memory foam mattress? If so, do you know what memory foam remembers? I know I don’t. Nancy Giles asked that question recently on CBS Sunday Morning and I wished so fervently that I had thought of it, I brought it to you to see if we can solve the mystery together. If I thought for a moment that memory foam mattresses were digital, I’d ask what kind of memory they had, and how many MB, but I don’t.

Things I Know

If you’re off TV for six months, network executives expect the audience to forget you. I’d be more surprised than ever if Brian Williams returns to TV in his former role as sole anchor of the NBC Nightly News after his six-month suspension is up in August.

Otto Von Bismark, the first Chancellor of Germany in the late 19th century, once said, “Laws are like sausages — it is best not to see them being made,” except, of course he said it in German. Still, I was in a market the other day that was selling sausage at $13.99 a pound and I do wonder what the hell is in that.

I’ve arrived at a new way to think of one of my pet peeves, the phrase “Very unique.” To repeat myself, unique doesn’t mean rare, it means only. So, if something is unique means there’s only one, then it follows that if something is very unique it doesn’t exist at all.

If your mechanic gets a Ferrari before you do, it’s time for a new mechanic.

Montana State Representative David Moore of Missoula made national news when he tried to get the state of Montana to outlaw yoga pants, claiming they’re too revealing. His effort failed and Matt Lauer on the Today Show said it was kind of a stretch.

An editorial in the Long Island newspaper Newsday called recently to make the New York State Legislature full-time, increase legislators salary and bar outside income as a way to fight corruption. New York State legislators salaries were last raised in the 1990’s and something needs to be done to fight corruption. Since former Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver was criminally charged, former Senate Majority Leader Malcolm Smith (a Democrat) was convicted of trying to bribe his way into being the Republican candidate for Mayor of New York. Still, Newsday’s editorial board should know, but didn’t mention, that giving the New York State Legislature a raise can only be done for the next session. In other words, legislators elected last year can raise the salaries of legislators elected in 2016, but not before that. New York’s state constitution mandates that, so while it could be changed, a constitutional amendment can only pass the legislature in two consecutive sessions. Therefore, amending the State Constitution to give legislators a raise or to bar them from making outside income, would take longer.

You may have read newspaper or Internet reports or heard on TV or radio that a house trailer in Amagansett, Long Island, is for sale for $1.1 million. That’s misleading, deliberately misleading in my view. What’s for sale is the land the trailer sits on which is roughly .4 acres. The land is worth what a buildable lot in Amagansett close to the ocean is worth. It’s worth that, plus what it costs to remove the trailer. You can build a 4,000-square-foot house on that parcel. If you want the trailer, and who would, you can probably have it for free as long as you get it off the lot.

My shoulders hurt, as usual. I was wondering if I could blame the nuns I had in Catholic grade school instead of myself, but I decided not. First, they hit me with a ruler on the hands, not on the shoulders and second, I was talking.

He never worked under just one name, as some other singers have, but if you look up the name “Waylon” in Google, you get over seven million hits. The first nine, and lots of the rest, refer to Waylon Jennings. In case you didn’t know, Waylon was a protégé of Buddy Holly and was on the Winter Dance Party tour with Buddy in February 1959. Buddy and Waylon chartered a light plane from Clear Lake, Iowa to the next tour stop. Waylon agreed to give up his seat on the plane to J.P. Richardson (the Big Bopper). Buddy told Waylon he hoped he would freeze on the tour bus and Waylon told Buddy that he hoped the plane crashed. It did, in the pre-dawn hours of February 3rd, killing Buddy, J.P. and Richie Valens as well as their pilot. Years later, Don McLean wrote a song about it and called it “The Day the Music Died.” Because of his off-handed remark, Waylon felt responsible for the crash for years. He even gave up performing for a while because of it.

The Life of Brian

George Washington probably did lie from time to time. In fact, it wouldn’t surprise me if he never chopped down the famous cherry tree or any other. But, when George was alive, there was no Internet and there were no cell-phone video cameras.

Brian Williams, anchor of the most popular network newscast for the past ten years, “misremembered” his role in flying around in helicopters in a war zone in 2003. Then he repeated what he misremembered multiple times, in public and on TV. If you are a television news anchor, you are selling a few things. The most important of these (in no particular order) are your good looks, the personality you project on TV, your ability to read out loud in a pleasant speaking voice and your credibility. Can you misremember something? Sure particularly if the something you misremember is insignificant to you. I am unsure if my wife and I attended a wedding for the woman I took to my senior prom or whether we attended a wedding of another high school friend and that prom date was a bridesmaid. If I were shot down in a helicopter though, I’m pretty sure I would remember that, accurately.

One lie diminishes Brian’s credibility. Now, everyone in the media is out looking for other lies he might have told and several media outlets claim to have discovered some. And of the some, a subset seems significant. Did Brian Williams misremember or lie about whether he rescued one puppy or two from a fire? Who cares? Did he have to be rescued from possible gang attack in a stairwell of the hotel he stayed in during Hurricane Katrina? Did he see a corpse float by the same hotel? If they didn’t happen, did he report those things on TV? Those things reflect on whether he’s a good reporter or a good story teller. We know he’s a good story teller. He’s been a charming guest on the Late Show and the Tonight Show. A good story teller has to be entertaining, but to be a good reporter, we have to be sure we can believe him.

So on Saturday, he said he had decided to remove himself from his newscast for a few days. I have no personal knowledge of this, of course, but if he did decide, I suspect it was at the suggestion of his superiors at NBC News, NBC, or even its parent company, Comcast. When that kind of suggestion comes down, there’s always the possibility that if you don’t do what’s suggested, said suggestion will be imposed upon you. If Brian’s self-imposed hiatus lasts more than “a few days” I won’t be surprised.

Have the ratings tanked in the few days since the controversy erupted? Will ratings fall off this week with Lester Holt in the anchor seat? Is there anybody else on the horizon who could quickly take Brian Williams’ place? How much money would it cost the company to keep him, vs. how much it would cost to eat his recently signed multi-million contract is a big consideration. You can also be sure lawyers for the company and for Williams are looking into how much they would have to pay him to go away.

Do I think the few days Brian Williams will be away from the anchor chair at the NBC Nightly News will be more than a few days? Yes. In fact, even if he does comeback, I believe there’s a good likelihood that he won’t continue in his current role for very long afterwards. A lot of prominent media analysts are calling on him to resign. I’m not a prominent media analyst so nobody has consulted me on the matter.

Things I Know

I neglected to mention this earlier, so pardon me, but the Sisyphus Project is copyright 2015, as well as 2008-2014.

It also contains material that may be unsuitable for adults or other people with a modicum of maturity. I should probably have warned you about that years ago.

I want to like Comedy Central’s new Nightly Show with Larry Wllmore, but whether it’s a live audience or a laugh track, they find it a lot funnier than I do.

If you are responsible for making the payments on more than one student loan through Navient, the company’s bill collector tells me it cannot split a payment. If you’re on the hook for four years of loans, and using your bank’s on-line bill pay feature, I’m told you have to send four separate payments. I berated their computer programmers and suggested they switch to Quicken, which can handle split payments. BTW, four years ago, Navient’s predecessor, Sallie Mae, could handle split payments. Progress, I guess.

Sheldon Silver is out as Speaker of the NY State Assembly and Governor Cuomo was “shocked” to learn of the charges of corruption against him. There have been questions and rumors about Speaker Silver’s possible ethical lapses and involvement in outside law firms for years. U.S. Attorney Preet Bharara now says he has proof Silver accepted bribes and kickbacks. It remains to be seen whether Bharara’s proof will stand up in court, but Governor Cuomo being shocked reminds me of Captain Renault in the movie “Casablanca” being shocked that there was gambling going on in Rick’s Place.

If the reports I’ve read about the terrible train accident in Valhalla NY a week ago on Tuesday night that killed six people are true, it was entirely avoidable, and having not been avoided, the woman driver whose car the train plowed into could at least have saved herself. First, you can drive over railroad tracks, but you should never drive on to them. In other words, don’t get on the railroad tracks if you can’t proceed across the tracks without stopping. Second, if you do get stuck on railroad tracks and there is a train coming, you exit your car and run toward the train. Why? Because when the train hits your car, both the train and the car will hurl in the direction the train is going. If you run to where the train just was, at least you won’t get hit by flying debris from the collision.

In addition to the Super Bowl, Sunday’s TV programs included the Puppy Bowl, the Kitten Bowl, the Lingerie Bowl, and the Fish Bowl. My next genius idea for TV programming is the Cereal Bowl. I figure we’ll have a bowl of corn flakes getting soggy and a bowl of Rice Krispies making that noise compete against each other.

The recorded voice on the phone said, “Hello. This is not a sales call.” I can’t tell you what kind of call it was though, because that’s when I hung up.

If you are a telemarketer or a survey operator, it’s bad enough from my perspective that you’re calling me at all, but when you call, at least be prepared to talk to me. If I say to you, “You called me. Talk,” you’d better have something I want to hear and say it fast or I’ll hang up.

Things I Want (or Need) to Know

Do Jehovah’s Witnesses ever proselytize at the homes of other Jehovah’s Witnesses by mistake?

If you get a blood transfusion, do you have to bring them some orange juice, so they’ll have it to give to the people who are donating blood?

Have you seen those commercials on TV where the car salesman tells you that if you have $200 and a job, he can put you in a new car? I’m not picking on one dealer. Lots of them do it. They do it with loans that may last longer than the car does. Subprime car loans are an increasing problem that may eventually bite the economy in the ass in much the same way the subprime mortgage crisis did back in 2008. If you have a job and only $200, you don’t belong in a new car, unless it belongs to someone else.

Over the weekend, my wife was making lunch and she asked if I wanted some bacon. I found myself wondering if there are really multiple answers to that question.

I know they’re all repeats because Tommy passed away late last year, but Click and Clack on NPR’s “Car Talk” asked an interesting question recently: Have you ever seen a UPS truck legally parked? I know I haven’t.

I’m not adding to my collection of CD’s as fast as I once did, but I got four or five new ones for Christmas and when I went to put them away, my CD storage was full, again. Every time I go to Ikea to buy something else to hold them, the store has discontinued the last thing I bought. In this case, it was an inexpensive wall-mounted metal rack. You can still find them on Ebay, but if you want them, you’ll pay about ten times what Ikea used to charge for them. If demand exceeds supply by that much, why did Ikea stop making them? I think the next time I want a CD cabinet, I’m going to have to make it myself. One made of wood will be heavy enough that I should probably mount it to the wall using French cleats.

I’ve been listening to a lot of old time radio. You’d be surprised how many of the radio dramas from the thirties to the fifties are available for free as MP3 downloads. One thing strikes me. A lot of people on those shows spoke English in a way different from what you and I are used to hearing. It’s an accent closer to British English than anything I hear today. Did a large group of people actually speak like that, or was it something they affected to be on the radio?

Corruption in New York

You don’t want ANY U.S. Attorney crawling up your ass. You especially don’t want the U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of New York there. The Southern District of New York is one of the highest profile posts in the U.S. Justice Department. Slouches don’t get sent there. And’ it’s Preet Bharara, not Preet Bahara. It’s an Indian name and it isn’t that hard to pronounce. Seriously.

New York State government, especially the state legislature, has a problem with corruption–a big problem. I hope I didn’t miss any but as far as I can recall, six members of the New York State Legislature have been formally charged crimes having to do with corruption in the last six years. The latest is Sheldon Silver, Speaker of the New York State Assembly. Silver has reportedly submitted his resignation as Speaker effective tomorrow after more than 20 years on the job, because of the charges against him. He has been accused of accepting millions of dollars from law firms, doing no legal work for the money, and using his public position to benefit the law firm and himself. In other words, bribes and kickbacks. He’s 70 and, if convicted, he could be spending the rest of his life in jail. He’s also one of the three most powerful political office holders in the State of New York, so if he tries to swing a deal, who knows who else he could bring down.

In addition to Silver, I can also think of three other former Assembly Speakers in New York and one Senate Majority Leader who have been charged with crimes, Perry Duryea wasn’t convicted, and neither was Stanley Steingut. Mel Miller was convicted of something that had nothing to do with his Speakership. Across the aisle in the State Senate, Joe Bruno was first convicted, then the law was thrown out by the US Supreme Court, then he was tried again and acquitted, but it cost him millions of dollars. Then it cost the taxpayers of New York over two million because the people reimbursed that much of his legal expenses. In New York in my lifetime, we’ve also had Governor Eliot Spitzer and his prostitute. And then there was Sol Wachtler, former Chief Judge of the Court of Appeals who did 15 months in jail because of threats he made toward a former lover.

The New York State Legislature doesn’t work like most representative bodies. It is controlled almost 100 percent by the Assembly Speaker and the Senate Majority Leader. State budget negotiations in New York don’t involve committees of both houses. They involve the “three men in a room” that Bharara referred to in his news conference. The Governor and the leaders of both houses take care of it personally and the two houses of the legislature go along with their leaders or they are disciplined.

A lot of people have been calling New York the most corrupt state in the nation. It could very well be. I don’t follow politics in other states and as far as I know, in recent experience, Illinois only had a governor who tried to sell a US Senate seat after President Obama was elected back in 2008.

I’ve spent my career as an appointed, not elected public official, but to be elected or appointed where I live, you have to be active in politics. I’ve never been in a high enough echelon to encounter any of the corruption we’ve all been reading about lately, but I guess I am a politician and I think it’s not a perfect system. There’s more than one thing that needs to change, but corruption is at or near the top of the list.

My father-in-law used to say often and loudly that, “All politicians are crooks.” That’s not true. A lot of them are really trying to improve society and a lot of them are also in it for power rather than money. I finally got fed up with with my father-in-law and told him that he was welcomed to think whatever he wanted to think, but if he said all politicians are crooks again in my house, he would not be welcomed in my house anymore. Still, it often seems as if the old joke about car dealers applies here. The dishonest ones are giving the other five percent a bad name. It’s been my contention that the American public gets much better government than it deserves or has any right to expect, considering the low level of public interest and participation.

When U.S. Attorney Bharara announced the charges against Sheldon Silver, he advised the public to “stay tuned” for further developments. Since he implied more is coming, if you’re a corrupt politician in Albany, my advice to you isn’t to stay tuned, it is to quake in your boots.

Things I Know

I have a part-time job. Most part-time jobs are a few hours a week. Mine is a few weeks a year, and a few hours from time to time otherwise. I just finished the few weeks a year, so I’m back.

Ernie Banks has passed away. Mr. Cub was the embodiment of those things we’d like to believe are right about baseball. In his honor, let’s play two.

Bullying is pretty much constantly in the news these days. Out of curiosity, I recently Googled the guy who bullied me in high school. One day, for no apparent reason, he chased me through the halls of the school. When I got around a corner, I stopped and when he rounded the same corner, he found me with my hands clenched together. He was running full-speed ahead when I hit him hard in the stomach, as if I were batting right handed. He didn’t bother me a lot after that. Unless there are two of him (and his last name is unusual), he couldn’t attend his class’s 10th high school reunion because he was doing time for selling a little marijuana–two tons of it!

My car insurance covers damage to rental cars. So does the insurance most people carry on their own cars. The only reason I can think of why you would want to buy the insurance they sell at the car rental counter is if you intended to trash the car. Last time someone asked me if I wanted to buy rental car insurance, I told the woman that if I bought it, I’d really, REALLY use it.

It’s really kind of frightening how little privacy there is in the world. Every once in a while, I try to locate someone I knew in the past. I recently located the second girl I ever dated. Women are harder to find than men, because most of them still change their last names when and if they marry. Not to narrow it down too much, Shirley is married and lives in Connecticut. I’m just proving something to myself and I’m not going to look her up. If I were ever to run into her, my only thought is I’d say I was sorry for acting like a jerk in the way I broke up with her. My only defense for acting like a jerk then is (and you have to admit it is a good defense) I was a 15-year-old boy.

A recent survey by the Oklahoma State University department of agricultural economics found that more than 80% of respondents favor a government-required label on all food containing DNA. Every living thing contains DNA. I’m telling you this because based on the result of that survey, a lot of people don’t know it.

I like the Barrett-Jackson collector car auctions. I try to watch them when televised and I’ve even been to one a few years ago. Since Speed Channel went out of business, I don’t like the TV show as much as I used to. First, having different parts of it on different channels is a pain, especially when I don’t receive all the channels. I’ve always thought it could be a better TV show if they had a few features about special cars, but they’re more likely to highlight bidders than delve deeply into a car. And recent trends toward emphasizing social media and hiring people who don’t know much about the cars for the telecast are bad. I don’t have any research to prove this, but I think people who watch this on TV are mostly interested in the cars.

You can’t tell it from shopping where I live, but you can still buy Lifesavers roll candy. Around here, they only sell the pouches of big, individually wrapped Lifesavers. If you want the rolls, you may have to order them on line.

I am not one of the 100,000,000 Americans suffering from . . .whatever: I’m one of the 300,000,000 Americans suffering from robocalls.

Woe’s Tale

Sad on-line shopping tale. I’m a photographer. A hobbyist, not a pro, but I have almost enough equipment to make a pro think I’m a pro too. One more lens and one more speedlite ought to do it. The other body I have my eye on will probably overdo it. If I ever win a big lottery, I’ll buy Canon lenses until the money runs out. And I’ll hire someone to carry all this stuff for me too.

So, I ordered a small quantity of drawstring bags on line. I want them to hold and protect things like spare camera batteries, the battery charger and wireless flash triggers. The bags come from China. It took the vendor seven weeks to ship me the wrong ones, too small and too thin for my purpose, but at least they shipped nine times as many as I ordered. There is that. It took three weeks and two email exchanges to get them to agree to ship what I actually ordered. Since the mistake was not mine, I asked for expedited shipping. They didn’t say no, but they didn’t do it either. They said expect them in six weeks. Shipping costs more than the bags, so they don’t want the wrong ones back. That would be cool except I have no use for what they’ve already sent me. Six and three and seven equal sixteen, don’t they? Three-and-a-half months for some little bags. I hope I still like to take pictures by the time they get here.

Things I Know

I don’t want to be Debbie Downer here, but if you file quarterly estimated federal income taxes, today is the deadline for your fourth quarter filing. I’ve already mailed mine. Have you?

We visited the Library of Congress in Washington DC over the weekend to see the copy of the Magna Carta from Lincoln Cathedral on display. This is one of the four copies dating from 1215 known to still exist. It’s amazing to see a written document, 800 years old. It’s displayed to protect it, but the way it’s displayed makes it hard to read and hard to photograph. Can’t read it anyway. It’s in Latin and the writing is surprisingly small.
The Jefferson Building of the Library is amazingly ornate and beautiful. It also hosted an exhibit on the Civil Rights Act of 1964 which was extremely informative as well. The Magna Carta exhibit closes on January 19th.

Sunday, January 11th, was a day when some New Yorkers took to the subway, wearing no pants. They did wear underwear, just no pants. I’ve been living for two weeks in this climate with no winter coat, making do with layers and a windbreaker. If I were going to ride the New York City subway sans pants, I’d pick a much warmer day for it.

I’ve never met the writer Larry Doyle. Among other things, he used to write a blog in Huffington Post, but I don’t read the Huffington Post regularly. I came across one piece of his work on a recent rebroadcast of the NPR show, “This American Life.” The episode is called, “It’s Never Over.” If you’ve ever been dumped by someone you dated and thought of as the love of your life, download this podcast, or go to Larrydoyle.com, find and read the piece he wrote in 1990 called, “Life Without Leann.” I’m sure it won’t appeal to everyone, but I found it hysterical! I found out that Larry did finally discover love with someone else. I have too.

I hate to say anything nice about Navient, but at least this month, they didn’t call me before the end of the grace period. And, perhaps, if they knew the maker of the loan was not going to pay in December, calling me before the end of the grace period was a way of alerting me so I wouldn’t pay late fees. That would probably be a good idea, but the call sounded too bill-collector for my tastes and for the fact that I wasn’t late.

Update on my jacket. The good folks at the sportswear company have agreed to send me a warranty replacement for the jacket that suffered unusual wear on the right sleeve. Mistakes happen. A reliable company deals with mistakes and stands behind its merchandise. If this one follows through (and I believe they will), I’ll let you know which company it is when I receive the new jacket.

Since it’s going to take another five to ten business days to get the coat, I am doing without a winter coat for essentially the entire month of January. Let that be a lesson to me. If another coat ever needs warranty replacement after one season of wear, I should return it in the summer, not after Christmas.

Things I Know

I would probably procrastinate if I only could get around to it. I bought a new winter jacket for the 2013-2014 season. I wanted a warmer one than I had and the new jacket was warmer, but it started to wear out in a few months. I should have tried for a warranty replacement during the summer, but I didn’t until after Christmas. I’ve always been pleased with the brand I bought, so I hope they’ll replace it, but in the meantime, it’s January and I’m cold.

I like to call the bank I deal with, “Bank of a Large and Powerful Country.” That’s not its real name. The computer program they use to answer the phone has been modified since last time I called. I don’t know when it was modified because I don’t call them a lot, but it now wastes a lot more of my time than it previously did. So, I guess that’s new and improved.

It really annoys me that when I call the bank, the phone robot tells me the balances on all my accounts. I wouldn’t mind if it asked if I wanted my balances, but it doesn’t give me a choice. This wastes time because first, they do send out statements unless you ask them not to, and second, as I understand it, a few people now have computers in their homes and this thing called the Internet, so they can look that up on line. My cable company does the same thing and it annoys me for the same reason.

But, what bothers me most about my bank, and my bank isn’t unique in this, is when I call someone at the bank who is designated a “specialist,” but doesn’t know basics about their operation. I asked a loan specialist why the balance on my home equity line of credit doesn’t go down a little more each month I make a regular payment on the same day. She said it was because of the variable interest rate. The loan has a variable interest rate, but the rate hasn’t changed so that isn’t and can’t be the answer. Whether you’re interested or not, I covered the real reason in my blog post on Friday.

I frequently berate the advertising industry for making commercials that appeal to the wrong demographic. For example, Eartha Kitt, singing a song from the very early 1950’s in French, to sell Vodka, when Vodka is associated with Russia and they probably can’t sell a huge amount of Vodka to people over 75. However, I do not do that with respect to the latest Honda commercials. Using Stretch Armstrong and Skeletor as spokesmen to sell Hondas to people in their 30’s and 40’s is positively brilliant!

Things I Want (or need) to Know

If my elf on a shelf takes a picture of itself, is that picture a shelfie?

What would you like to do differently in the new year? I think I’ll finally paint the walls in our master bedroom. My wife picked out a lovely shade of blue. I also hope to repair the back porch before I fall through. And now that I know how to build radiator covers, I have five more to create, but I’ll probably paint them instead of staining them. It’s a lot less work and I can make them out of less expensive material if I paint them.

I called my bank to ask why, if I make the same payment every month, the balance goes down some months a little less than it did the month before. Let’s call the bank, “Bank of a Large and Powerful Country.” The nice lady on the phone said it was because the loan has a variable interest rate. It does, but it hasn’t changed, so that isn’t the answer and she doesn’t seem to know it can’t be. After a few questions, we figured out it’s because the interest accrues daily. That means there’s a little more interest charged in 31-day months. My mortgage doesn’t do that, but my home equity loan apparently does. I know the people who answer the phones, even if they’re called “specialists” aren’t the highest level of the bank’s employees, but should I be concerned when I have all my money in the bank and I call up and have to explain what they’re doing to them so they can answer my question?

Should I also be concerned that changing banks wouldn’t help that situation?

Why does Flo, the advertising image of Progressive Insurance dress like a baker in all the TV commercials? I know why bakers wear white (it doesn’t show if you spill flour on your clothes), but why does an insurance salesperson need a white apron?

What is the purpose of an app that will add pictures to the contacts in your phone? If I have both a picture of you and contact information about you, wouldn’t I already know what you look like?

Things I Know

You can stop the automated “courtesy calls” from CVS drug stores by calling 1-800-SHOPCVS. I did it today and I only hope it works. After one, or MAYBE two calls, it crosses the line from courtesy to harassment. You have to listen to the whole top-level menu and then select other choices, but the option is in there.

One reason car dealers and manufacturers advertise so heavily that you should give someone a car for Christmas is that December is a slow month for buying cars, since people usually spend their money on less expensive presents.

If you got a fruitcake for Christmas, I didn’t give it to you. So, please don’t give it back to me next year.

Speaking of cake, in case you’ve ever wondered, bakers wear white because it doesn’t show flour stains. It does, however, show chocolate.

I recently made two roundtrips to Manhattan by automobile, a distance of 28 miles each way. One leg into Manhattan took about 45 minutes. The other three legs, one in and two out, took roughly one hour and 45 minutes each. I have driven to Manhattan twice in the last week. Also twice in the last 20 years. If I had to go every day, I wouldn’t consider driving.

Here’s a money-saving tip: If you have two cars and one EZ Pass, make sure you don’t leave the EZ Pass at home if you should drive to Manhattan. A roundtrip through the Queens Midtown Tunnel carries a $15.00 charge for tolls if you don’t have an EZ Pass. I hope I don’t have to explain how I know that.

We took my daughter to Manhattan to consult with a prominent neurosurgeon, Doctor Jeffrey Wisoff, at NYU. It’s easy to see why he’s prominent. He was very professional, spent almost an hour with us, went over her condition with us in great detail, and in language we could all understand. If I needed brain or spinal surgery, I would certainly want Dr. Wisoff on the list of doctors to consider engaging to do it. Our visit was frustrating, however, because our daughter’s neurologist thought her symptoms could be addressed by an operation and while nobody wants to have that kind of surgery, we were hoping Dr. Wisoff could help and he said her symptoms aren’t caused by something he can address. Now, we have to explore other avenues to try to figure out what’s wrong.

One great thing about living in the New York metropolitan area is access to some of the world’s outstanding hospitals, not one, some. You’ve got Weill Cornell, Columbia Presbyterian, NYU Langone, Memorial Sloan Kettering, Hospital for Special Surgery and many more. There are superior hospitals in other places as well, but I think New York has the highest concentration of them in the entire country, maybe the world.

Speaking of health care, my mother was the kind of person who would cancel a doctor’s appointment because she didn’t feel well.

A Season of Change

My father was sick when I got out of the Army. His illness was the reason I had been stationed thirty miles from home for my last year. That Father’s Day, my sister and I bought him a room air conditioner to help him breathe during the hot, humid summer. Father’s Day was just before I was discharged, so I didn’t have the money to pay half, so I bargained with my sister. She paid 80 percent of the price. I said I would give her enough money to make up the balance of my share before she went back to college. When the time came, I renegotiated the deal. I told her she could have the money I promised her, or if she waited until Christmas, I’d give her a TV instead. The TV cost more than twice as much as the money I owed her.

She waited.

My dad, the retired cop, was a school bus driver. But when school opened, he was too sick to work. He was 61 years old and he was dying. He was basically bedridden so I bought a TV set he could watch in his room, where the air conditioner was running to help him breathe. He did die, in October, four days after his 62nd birthday.

I didn’t want to, nor did I, forget my dad, but I changed a lot of things so remembering him and being without him wouldn’t be quite as painful. Among them I bought a new car, repainted the inside of our house, changing the color of every room, and instead of Christmas dinner at home, I took my mother, my sister and my girlfriend to dinner in a fancy restaurant on Christmas Day. On Christmas Eve, I went to my girlfriend’s family home, got down on one knee in her living room and asked her to marry me. She said yes.

Since it happened at her family home, her family knew about it right away. She and I went to Midnight Mass where she held her diamond ring up to the lights to watch it sparkle and I enjoyed watching her sparkle. I’d say I enjoyed her reaction as much or more than anything else I’ve enjoyed, ever. We shared our good news with a few friends we saw at mass, but I didn’t tell my mom and my sister until the big Christmas Dinner.

My father’s slightly used TV became the one I promised my sister. I’m not sure if it was because the TV was used, but I also bought her a record player. Added to the stuff she normally carried back and forth to college in Chicago, she couldn’t carry a TV and a record player too. So, I put her, her luggage and her Christmas presents in my little car, picked up my fiancé and all three of us drove off to the windy city.

From October to December, the end of my Dad’s life to the beginning of my lifelong commitment to my wife, I don’t think I’ve ever gone through more changes in a shorter period of time before or since. But all of that is why it was my most memorable Christmas.

Things I Know

Christmas is better with little kids around. I have adult children and no grandchildren, so if kids are here at Christmas, I have to wait for them to wake up. When I first became a father, I never thought that day would come, and now that it’s here, I’m honestly not crazy about it.

I don’t really need anything for Christmas and anything I really want costs more than the people who love me can afford to give. My camera equipment is Canon and while I don’t really have a need for the $16 thousand lens, all Canon stuff is pricey.

I love my wife, Saint Karen (who has to be a saint to put up with me), more than anything and she’s in the same boat I am. Neither one of us is big on spending extravagantly on gifts. For less modest gifts, frankly, I have bought enough of them over the years that I’m really out of ideas.

Since I have adult children and no grandchildren, one thing I could use for Christmas is a new Christmas tradition.

Just for the record, when I said I wanted a Vette for Christmas, I meant Corvette, not Chevette.

I paid Navient before the penalty date and they didn’t call me again, so I didn’t call them as I said I might either, because I don’t like to be frustrated, so why should I talk to Navient if I don’t have to?

Here, by the way, is my advice to Navient, not that they asked for it. If I were the maker of a loan and the cosigner was paying that loan, on time as required, I’d send the cosigner a monthly statement to make sure those payments continued apace.

My friend and former colleague, Wes Richards, had a nice turn of phrase in his blog last week. He said the Long Island newspaper, Newsday, is a shadow of its former shadow.

Things I Know

Today’s Patti’s birthday. We dated for a while in high school and I still have a soft spot in my heart (or maybe it’s my head) for her. Even though she hasn’t done anything influential in my life since she was 17 and I didn’t appreciate it then, she really was a big influence on me and how I grew up. Neither of us wants to drop our spouse and run off together, but I do wish her well and like to hear that she’s doing okay. I didn’t remember her date of birth from when we were kids, but I asked her years ago when we reconnected as adults. She told me, but said she would not tell me how old she was. She’s roughly 13 months younger than I am. If I could subtract one from 16 to get her age when we were dating, I can subtract one from my current age to figure out how old she is now. But I promised her I wouldn’t tell her unless she asked. She hasn’t asked, so I won’t tell. Still, happy birthday Patti, and many more.

I’m on the federal do not call list. I didn’t put myself on the list because I’m gullible and want to avoid buying anything someone calls me up and offers to sell me. I did it as a favor to myself because I find telemarketing annoying. That’s true. But I also did it as a favor to telemarketers, since there is no way in hell, and no way on God’s green earth that I will every buy something from a telemarketer, so why should I waste their time either?
Peter called me tonight to try to sell me solar panels. I told him that if he could tell me exactly how many times I had asked his company to never call me again this year, I’d listen to his pitch. He didn’t even try to guess. I didn’t bother telling him that I don’t believe his name is Peter, but I don’t believe it.

I know charities are exempt from the list, but I don’t give to charities that call me for donations either. I don’t because for the most part, I don’t know if the people who are calling me are who they say they are and I don’t know whether their charities are legitimate either.

If I want to donate to charity, I research it first to see if the charity is putting my money to a use that I approve of. Mostly, the ones that do the most telemarketing spend most of their money on more fund raising. That’s not a use I approve of.

I like Baskin Robins ice cream, but the store in my neighborhood isn’t very good at making milk shakes and despite the sign behind the counter, they don’t make malteds at all. The last milk shake I bought at that store will be the last milk shake I buy at that store, but they were good about giving me my money back when I took one sip and complained.

Navient Correction

The company’s statements do list the separate address for cosigners to send payments to. I said in my most recent blog post that they don’t. It wasn’t prominent enough for me to notice it, but the separate address is there.

Pardon the Profanity, but Navient

I’ve expounded here before about Sallie Mae’s collection practices. A little while back, Sallie spun off her student loan business to a new company called Navient. What the hell does Navient mean? Did you know that people are paid large sums of money to think up company names? But I digress. In my opinion, Navient’s collection practices are just as dumb as Sallie Mae’s were.

I find myself back in the business of paying a student loan I cosigned for. The economy is still tough for some people. Don’t cosign loans. Loan companies and banks are in the business of deciding who can pay them back and who can’t. If the loan company or bank doesn’t think the person who is trying to borrow money can pay it back, they’re probably right. They are, after all, the professionals in that business.

The statement from Navient says the payment has to be received by the 18th of the month to avoid late fees. That means, in case you are slow, or Navient (which I think is probably the same thing), that the loan payment will begin incurring late fees on Friday. So, why should I rush to pay it a long time before Friday? This is a trick I learned from mortgage companies when I was a tax collector. Mortgage companies generally pay the property taxes for mortgage holders and they generally do that on or near the last day of the grace period. I have instructed my bank’s automated bill paying program to take care of it on the 15th. So, naturally, I got a robocall on the 14th.

This is annoying for a few reasons. There’s no option on the robocall to talk to a human being. The options the robocall does offer don’t fit my situation. The robocall comes at a time when I can’t call them and talk to a human being because the human beings aren’t at work today. The website they refer you to in the robocall isn’t correct, so it has to redirect you to another website. It doesn’t say so on the loan statement, but the address for cosigners to pay is a different PO Box than the address for loan makers to pay. I don’t know if that’s going to be a problem, but I’ll probably find out tomorrow. I say that because I don’t have nearly enough frustration in my life, so I’ll probably give Navient a call then.

I just hope and pray that the automated phone attendant that picks up my call doesn’t tell me my call is important to Navient, because I’m sure it isn’t.

Things I Know

Former New York Governor George Pataki is testing the waters for a Presidential run in 2016. It’s the fourth time in the past five election cycles that Pataki has done this. He sat out 2008 when George Bush ran for reelection. In my political opinion, Governor Pataki has absolutely zero chance of gaining the GOP nomination, but his chance of becoming the Republican vice-presidential nominee are about ten times greater than that.

In case you’re wondering, I do know what ten times zero is.

The Bath Bus Company in Great Britain is running an experimental bus on bio-methane, made from decomposing human feces and food waste. I’m sorry, but that gives me a mental picture of a bus in which all the seats are toilets.

If you weigh yourself on the kind of scale they have in a doctor’s office, the kind where the weights slide across a beam, you may thing the scale is accurate, but maybe it isn’t. First, when it’s set to zero, the beam has to be adjusted so it balances. Second, the post has to be plumb and the base of the beam has to be level. The scale can’t be on a carpeted surface either. The scale in my doctor’s office said I gained seven pounds in the last two weeks. To do that, I’d have to eat an additional 1,500 calories for each of those 14 days. I know Thanksgiving was in there, but still I can’t see how that’s possible. But then, I noticed from my seat on the examination table that the scale isn’t plumb and level. I probably put on two or three pounds, but not seven!

I’m starting another effort to change American culture. Let’s all get behind it. Beginning when you reach the age of 70, instead of receiving your birthday cake at a party or a special dinner, everyone should be entitled to birthday cake for breakfast. After all, 70 is getting up there and life is short so, as the saying goes, eat desert first.

I get a kick out of seeing someplace I’ve been on TV. When the “Dark Water” episode of “Doctor Who” aired recently, showing Cybermen bursting out of the doors of St. Paul’s Cathedral in London and head south along Sermon Lane toward the Millennium Bridge was one of those times. I understand that scene is also an homage to another time Cybermen marched down Sermon Lane during a previous invasion when Patrick Troughton played The Doctor.

Now that they have legalized pot in Washington DC, the Congress has a better excuse than it has had previously.

Vaunted Ivy League institution, the University of Pennsylvania (no not Penn State, that’s a different school) will soon offer a course entitled “wasting Time on the Internet.” Surprisingly, to me anyway. I can’t find the course available for download so it can be studied at your home or in your place of business.

Amazon.com has a new feature for members of its paid Prime service. In addition to two-day shipping, free videos and a kindle lending library, they now offer free, on-line storage for an unlimited number of still photographs. Since I have around 500 GB of pictures, I decided to try it as a backup. It’s a good deal, but I don’t like the execution. I like the large thumbnails used to display the pics, but uploading is kind of slow. Plus in Amazon’s cloud storage, the pictures are displayed by date taken or date uploaded. Nothing else. I have organized my pictures mostly by subject or event. If I could display my file storage tree on Amazon’s cloud, I’d like it better. I have a lot of pics of friends and family and I’d like to be able to locate that folder in the cloud. You can upload pictures to Flickr too (also slow) but on Flickr, you can create sets of pictures which is better. But I use Flickr for pictures I want to share, not for general storage.

Thanksgiving Advice

Thanksgiving is a time when we gather together as families to give thanks for what we have, stuff ourselves with food and, in many cases, argue fruitlessly. If, in addition to or instead of stuffing yourself with food, you overindulge in alcohol, the fruitless arguments may turn angry, or even violent.

Maybe I overdo it and maybe you can find a happy medium, but especially among family and close friends, I do my best not to argue. I have my reasons. First, I was raised in an alcoholic family. If you have an alcoholic loved one, you know that arguing with them doesn’t do a lot of good. Second, when I was 16 years old, I was in 16-year-old love with a 15-year-old girl. We argued a lot, mostly about religion. She didn’t convince me of anything, but I convinced her that she should find a new boyfriend. Third, I’ve spent a lifetime in government and politics. In my experience, arguing about politics is about as fruitful as arguing about religion. You have about as much chance of convincing me to change my political beliefs as the Jehovah’s Witness who came to my door yesterday had of converting me to her religion: none.

So, I’d suggest that for a happy Thanksgiving, don’t overindulge in alcohol and don’t let any family arguments get out of hand. If you must, you can also watch football. I know that’s what I’m planning to do, except for the football part.

Stop It! Just Stop It!

As a country, America needs immigration reform and we’ve needed it for at least 40 years. What President Reagan did back in the day helped a little, but it wasn’t enough because it didn’t do nearly enough to regulate our borders. What President Obama did on Thursday night wasn’t enough either and for the same reason.

Our immigration policy should try to keep families together and it should concentrate limited resources on deporting the people President Obama prioritized. It should also try to keep more people from coming here illegally. But the way the President moved forward pretty much guaranteed continued polarization between the legislative and executive branches of the federal government. We used to have polarization within the legislative branch too, but not anymore since beginning in January, both houses will be controlled by Republicans.

During President Obama’s administration, neither the Republicans nor the Democrats have distinguished themselves by attempting to cooperate and compromise. I don’t know who started it, but the fact that it’s been going on for so long means the American public should do one of several things, none of which can happen for two years.
The voting public, what’s left of it since turnout in the last election was at record lows, should either elect a Republican President in 2016, elect a veto-proof Republican Congress (both houses) or elect a Democratic President and a Democratic majority in both houses of Congress. Perhaps President Obama thinks that by escalating the war with Congress, he can bring about the third option. If he does continue the war with Congress he will ensure his legacy as a less than effective President, perhaps the least effective since Jimmy Carter. And if that is what he’s thinking, his strategy could very easily backfire.

President Obama missed an opportunity to try to get along with Congress. The extreme members of the Republican Party need to realize that since they are no longer the minority, they have to try to govern too. They can’t just throw bombs. For example, if the first action of the Republican majority of both houses of Congress is to try to repeal Obamacare, that will fail. Over the past two years, the House has wasted a lot of time passing dozens of such resolutions which never even came up for a vote in the Democratic Senate. Republicans are a majority, but they are far from a veto-proof majority. If they retaliate for the President’s usurpation of legislative power, by trying to repeal Obamacare again, the President will veto the bill. To quote Otto Von Bismark (except he, of course, said it in German), “Politics is the art of the possible.” Recalling a doo wop hit of the 1950’s, everyone in Washington these days seems to try the impossible.

As I said, I don’t know who started it. I also don’t care who started it. But if it’s going to stop, somebody has to try to stop it and even if you agree with the President’s policy, what he did Thursday night threw an accelerant on the fire. If ours was a Parliamentary system of government, then the existing government , not the one that takes office in January, would have been turned out due to failing a vote of confidence. And it would be a lack of confidence in both parties, not one or the other.

Things I Know

A zoo in the Philippines is allowing visitors to be massaged by some big pythons. The snakes are supposedly not aggressive and the zoo management says doing this will help zoo patrons learn more about the snakes. I think I’ll just read a book, watch a documentary, or check out a couple of websites if it’s okay with you.

Two female school teachers in Louisiana are the latest I’ve read about in a disturbingly long line of teachers having sex with students. There was another one, this one male, in Brooklyn in September. Are these things happening more often or being reported more often? For the record, the most any of my high school teachers did for me in the romance department was introduce me to a Sophomore girl in his homeroom who I took to my senior prom.

Sophomore, in case nobody else has told you has Greek roots and basically it means wise fool.

The Yankees aren’t in the post season for the second year in a row. The Mets didn’t make the post season for what? I think it’s the third two-years in a row in a row. The Mets won-lost record was slightly better this year than last, five games better. But that’s nowhere near the ninety games GM Sandy Alderson said they could win this season. They didn’t fall off a cliff in the second half either and I suppose that’s a small step forward. They played mediocre baseball almost all season. They finished tied with the Braves for second place, but that’s 17 games back of the Nationals and nothing to brag about either. Some baseball pundits are saying they’re only two players away from contending. I don’t believe that, but they could break 500 next year. Hope does spring eternal.

What do we know so far that the Mets are planning to help improve next year? They’re going to move the outfield fences in again (second time since the stadium opened) to help Curtis Granderson hit seven more homeruns.

The Department of Great Lines hears from Jon Stewart and the Daily Show. When the NFL’s biggest sponsor, a brewery, said the NFL needed to be more active in combatting domestic violence and child abuse, and the NFL said it is formulating new measures, Stewart said the NFL “succumbed to beer pressure.”

My memory isn’t quite as good as it once was, but if “Don’t touch my Dart” isn’t the stupidest advertising campaign I’ve ever heard or seen, it’s got to be second.

I’m building new radiator covers for my 100-year old house. I bought a pneumatic nail gun to help with the construction. I finally got around to trying it. By using it, I figured out a couple of things the instructions didn’t tell me, but I didn’t make any major mistakes. It works, and I didn’t nail myself to anything. One tip: to make attaching moldings around the edges of the opening you cut in the plywood, you used to make the cabinet, it helps to make the opening big enough to fit the nail gun into.

Things I Want (Or Need) To Know

I have just learned (and am baffled to know it) that you can buy camouflage lingerie. I’m baffled because if you went to the trouble to wear sexy lingerie, wouldn’t you want your significant other to be able to find you?

Since I don’t get a new cell phone every two years and since I do let my contracts expire, how come my monthly phone bill doesn’t get reduced by the amount of the cell-phone subsidy I’m not using?

If you’re old enough to remember the TV show “Dukes of Hazard,” you recognize the car in the TV commercial for autotrader.com. Did you notice they never show the roof?

Have you seen the commercial for the Infinity Q50? The one that says, “Its instinct to protect leaves you free to drive.” It’s about what they call driver assists, things like warnings when someone’s too close to the side of your car. I’m all for safety features in cars, but the commercial, to me, seems to suggest the Q50 will help you if you are a habitual distracted driver.

When hair stops growing on top of your head, why does it start growing out of your nose and ears?

Birthday Boy

Today’s my dad’s birthday. He passed away many years ago and he was born many years before that. I don’t think of him every day, but on days like today, his birthday, or next Wednesday, the anniversary of his death, I do remember him, fondly.

I told you last month that I encountered my Dad’s ghost while out driving around. My dad didn’t hear too well and he didn’t hear the clicking sound when his turn signal was on, so he sometimes drove around doing what comedian Jerry Seinfeld once described as a perpetual left.

I found another manifestation of his ghost. Here it is.

41 Olds Coupe

It’s not my dad’s favorite car, but it is very much like it, a 1941 Oldsmobile coupe. I saw this black one at a recent car show. My dad owned one of these; his was blue. He loved it too. In fact, when it died, he kept it parked at the side of the house for a couple of years, hoping to figure out a way to get it back on the road.

Structure

Have you seen the TV commercials about converting your structured settlement to cash? J. G. Wentworth is probably the heaviest advertiser in this business, it certainly is where I live, but it’s not the only company doing it. Peachtree is another, but it’s not the only one either.

If you don’t know what a structured settlement is, you probably don’t have one. So, I’ll explain. Let’s say you’re hurt in a car accident, you sue and an insurance company agrees to pay you money. To quote Doctor Evil, let’s say the amount is “One Million Dollars.” Only, let’s say they get to pay it not in a lump sum, but over an agreed period of time, perhaps 20 years. That arrangement would be similar to the way a top lottery prize is paid, only you have a better chance of being in a car crash than you do of winning Powerball or Mega Millions, so pay attention.

Why would you agree to that and why would the insurance company? Well, you might agree because you’d get more money in the long run. That may or may not be a good thing. We can discuss that farther down the page. You might also agree if it saved you money on taxes. In the first place, some settlements of this kind aren’t taxable and in the second place the calculation is more complicated than you think, so it could appear to save you money on taxes without really doing so. I could discuss that too, but I’m not an actuary and I only want to bore some, not all, of the people who read this. Last, and the reason most individuals would like a structured settlement is because you fear you would squander the money if you got it all at once. Squandering a large sum of money can be fun, but if you got the money and need it to pay for long-term medical treatment, that isn’t the time to do it. In that circumstance, a long-term settlement is probably the best thing for you.

The insurance company likes it because it costs them less money. There are formulae to calculate the present value of a future stream of income, or you can beat it to death with a spreadsheet. But if the insurance company could earn 5 percent on its money and put $1,000,000 aside, it could pay you $50,000 a year for 20 years and at the end of that time, it would still have the million dollars. To pay you that money, again assuming a 5 percent rate of return, it would only have to put aside around $625,000 to pay you over 20 years and have nothing left. But that’s not even how the insurance companies think. If they put aside $625,000 for you and the other $375,000 for themselves, again at a 5 percent rate of return, at the end of 20 years, you would have $50,000 a year for 20 years, there would be nothing left of the $625,000 set aside for generating that income because in addition to the interest, the insurance company would pay the rest of the money to you out of the principal in that account. What about the other $375,000? Thanks for asking. At the end of 20 years, that would be worth almost $948,000! Your mom was wrong about what you should be when you grow up. You should have been an insurance company.

Okay, so how do these companies that convert structured settlements to cash work and how do they make any money? I mean, they’re in business to make money, aren’t they? Yes, they are. And there’s nothing wrong with what they’re doing as long as you understand what you’re doing when you do business with them. In the example I gave above, they buy the $50,000 annual income stream, or what’s left of it, for less than $625,000, or what’s left of that. The difference between what they pay you and what the insurance company put aside to pay them is their gross profit.

If you want a lot of money up front instead of a structured settlement, I suggest you take a lump sum payment instead of an annuity, even if the lump sum appears to be less money. After all, you can invest the money too. But if you’ve already opted for a payout over time, and your circumstances change, your job is to get the highest price you can for that income stream. So, go into this kind of transaction with your eyes open and go in understanding the math, or accompanied by someone who does.

Blue Cloud

In the car blog, Curbside Classics, someone started a thread of stories about running out of gas. I contributed a couple, but here’s another. We didn’t have a lot of money when I was growing up and my parents sacrificed a lot for the kids, including sending me to private school from 3rd to 6th grades. They were generous to us, at least as generous as their means allowed if not more so.

One way my dad was generous was he let me drive his car pretty much whenever I wanted to as long as he didn’t need it for work. During the school year, he even paid for the gas I used. As I said, we didn’t have a lot of money, so when the gas gauge on our old Plymouth (is there any other kind of Plymouth but an old one?) broke, it stayed broken.

If your gauge is broken, the simplest way to handle it is to fill up every 200 miles. Most cars have a cruising range greater than 200 miles. In fact, I believe that unless you had a ’72 Buick Electra and only drove it a mile at a time in the winter, that would work. Personal experience tells me a ’72 Buick driven under those circumstances has a cruising range of approximately 52 miles on a full 26-gallon tank. I hope I don’t have to explain how I know that.

Once, I was going someplace and when I got behind the oblate circle that was the steering wheel of that Plymouth, I thought it needed gas. Dad insisted it was fine. I think he was kind of low on cash, but I didn’t push it. I got in and drove about two blocks before it ran out. If I had gas money, the Blue Cloud (it was red, but it burned oil, a lot of oil actually) still would not have made it to the nearest station.

I’m sure I was as callow as any teenager who ever walked or drove the face of the earth. But after my first year in college, I couldn’t afford a second, so I got a job in a wholesale bakery. That was hot, hard work, but it was unionized and the starting wage for someone with very few skills was quite good. The overtime was good too. I worked something like 15 or 16 months that year.

I was single, living with my parents for free and not supporting my own car. My folks wanted me to save money to go back to school and I did that. I banked at least half of every paycheck I received. But I tried to show some appreciation too. My dad was still paying for the car insurance, but I don’t think he put another dime in that car during my year in the bakery. I bought him a battery, a carburetor, a four tires. I also put a speaker in the package shelf so I could blast my tunes from the AM radio. I don’t think Dad ever needed to put gas or oil in the Blue Cloud for a year.

Other than the bank and the Blue Cloud, what else did I spend money on that year? I met this super-cute, super-nice high school senior. She wasn’t a saint yet because she hadn’t put up with me long enough, but her name was and still is Karen.

Did Ya Miss Me?

I don’t know if or when you discovered that you couldn’t access this blog. I found out on September 20th. Since then, if I tried to access the site, I got a blank page, but now, I’m back. Not only back, but I’m delighted to see that I didn’t lose any content.

I’d like to thank a lady named Leofe at my ISP’s help desk for helping get me get the blog back up. I couldn’t have done it without her. I’ve never talked to anyone with that name before but this lady certainly knew her stuff and was very pleasant about it. If I have any future tech problems, I’ll be sure to use phone support because email support didn’t work very well for me although I’m sure those people tried too.

I’m no tech genius but as far as I can understand it, the theme being used on the website became incompatible with some software update and once that happened, no more website. So, I put up a new theme. I’m not entirely satisfied with the layout yet. I’d like to return to the picture of a raven, but it won’t fit on this theme. In the near future, there may be subtle or comprehensive changes in the existing layout.

But, I am back and I will resume posting about my off-kilter view of the universe later this week.

Things I Know

Ray Rice, a professional football player, is bigger and stronger not only than the average woman, but than most above-average women too. An average man is bigger and stronger than an average woman. An average man could probably beat up an average woman anytime he wanted to. Beating someone up, man or woman, doesn’t prove who’s right or wrong: It proves who’s stronger which usually isn’t in dispute. So, a man beating up a woman is a particularly despicable form of bullying. The good thing is most men don’t only not want to beat up a female companion, they can’t want to.

I agree with the people who say the NFL didn’t take domestic violence seriously enough, but it looks like the NFL has learned its lesson. I certainly hope so.

LRD. I have named a disease that’s existed for centuries, but never had a name before. LRD of course stands for Liverwurst Reflux Disorder.

So, now NATO is going to have a rapid response force. I hope the powers that be are bright enough to figure out a path somewhere between the over-zealous mutual-defense pacts that started WWI and the appeasement that started WWII, in order to avoid WWIII.

I keep hearing that Labor Day is the unofficial end of summer. It hasn’t been warm enough this summer for it to end, so I’m not going to accept its unofficial end. In fact, I may not accept its official end either. I know I’m still wearing white shoes.

After the news reports of hackers making nude photos of celebrities public, David Letterman asked his audience if they spend a lot of time taking nude selfies. If you’re not already glad there are no nude photos of me on the Internet, you should be. I know I am. I don’t take nude selfies because I have a mirror and I wouldn’t share them if I did.

Homework: Do it.

In my misspent youth, I was a champ at avoiding homework. Mom, I did it in study hall, honest. No, I didn’t do it at all. I hated homework because I didn’t need to do any homework in grade school through high school in order to learn the material. But nobody told me what I needed to know about homework. It’s not just about learning the subject matter, it’s also about learning how to work. And, since I hardly ever did homework, by the time I got to an Ivy League University (which will remain far above Cayuga’s waters) everyone was smart, all the courses I took were hard, I couldn’t coast and I was lost. I did know that downtown was down the hill, but otherwise, lost.

Homework: Do it.

But first, did you have vocabulary workbooks in high school? I did and I hated them. I have an extensive vocabulary, but I was interested in getting an even bigger one, so whenever we had vocabulary homework, I actually did open the workbook and look at it. If I recall correctly, the senior vocabulary book was a lovely, pale shade of blue. I often had mixed feelings after looking at the homework, because I usually knew all twenty words for the week so I didn’t learn any new words (bad), but I didn’t do the homework either (good). If there was a word I didn’t know, I would look it up and copy the definition into the book, but I wouldn’t write the other 19 definitions, and I always planned to ad lib the sentence I was required to write. And I hardly ever fell back on the old standby, “The teacher asked us to spell complementary.”

Homework: That’s how I did it, if I did it.

My English teacher had a pretty good idea what I was doing and when she caught me at it, she would deduct points from the weekly vocabulary quiz. She got up to deducting 20 points, but 80 is still a passing grade, so I was cool with it. And then, shortly after the beginning of our senior year, Janet transferred into our school from Dallas TX. She came in on vocabulary lesson day , so Mrs. Teacher had Janet look on with me until she could get a workbook of her own. I opened the book to the correct, blank, page. I don’t remember the word she asked me to go over, but I picked up the book and read the correct definition from the blank page. Then, I read the sentence I had not written down on the adjacent blank page. Both the definition and the sentence were correct, but both pages were blank and Janet found that funny. She laughed.

So, Mrs. Teacher came over to see what Janet was laughing at–my blank book. Another 20 points down the drain. I told Janet that as long as she got me in trouble, she might as well go to the school dance with me that Friday night, and she did. I’d like to say it was the beginning of a beautiful relationship, but it wasn’t. Nobody’s fault, we just didn’t click. But, that’s not the reason I now advocate for homework.

To reiterate, I got into a great college and couldn’t do the work because, while I was smart enough, I had never bothered to learn how to study. I never needed to before. I dropped out of college. It was bad, but it wasn’t a total loss. I did go back eventually. I learned to work eventually too, and while I was out, I did meet my wife, so I wouldn’t change that for the world. If someone had told me back then that doing my homework was important for me in learning how to work, I don’t know if it would have helped me, but I’m telling you this story in case it does help someone else.

Things I Know

President Obama is neither my favorite nor my least favorite president. Criticizing him for announcing that he doesn’t have a plan to deal with ISIS is fair. Criticizing him for wearing a tan suit is ridiculous!

Newsmax TV is running a radio ad for a poll it’s conducting. It asks, “Can Doctor Ben Carson win back the White House from OBama?” First, President OBama won’t be running in the next presidential election. Second, While Doctor Carson has taken up writing and politics after a distinguished career as a neurosurgeon, I don’t think he has a snowball’s chance in hell of getting nominated, let alone elected president.

We have so many people in jail in this country that we really should make both mental illness and non-violent drug crimes public health problems rather than criminal justice problems. I suppose locking up a few of those people is justified, but not all of them.

While out for a drive this week, I encountered my dad’s ghost. The guy who was in front of me in traffic had his left-turn signal on for about three miles and he hadn’t turned left by the time I got around him. Wrong kind of car, but definitely my dad’s driving style.

So the fraud guy from alleged Microsoft Support (which is a scam and has nothing to do with Microsoft), called again tonight. I advised him to take a stool softener. You can probably figure out why I said that. I also told him not to call again, and didn’t say please, but I still think he will.

I know this isn’t going to stop the calls, but just to be clear, I don’t buy anything from telemarketers. Doing so would only encourage a practice that needs no encouragement. I also don’t donate to any telemarketers who call alleging that they represent charities. First, like the sales calls, it only encourages a practice that needs no encouragement, but there are other reasons too. If you call me out of the blue, I have no idea if you are who you say you are and I usually have no background on the charity. I’m not that responsive to political telemarketers or people I’m already doing business with who try to sell me more stuff over the phone. I have no trouble saying no. I just took the trouble to get on the federal no-call list because I find all these calls annoying.

Classmates.com is a little nuts in the way it markets its service. I just received an email from them asking me about a guy who started in my high school after I graduated. Don’t know and don’t care. I suspect most guys don’t know or care about guys who weren’t even in school with them. If I were running their marketing campaign, I’d ask girls about guys who graduated up to two or even three years before they did and I’d ask guys about women who graduated up to two or three years after them. If I weren’t happily married, I might be very interested in some women who graduated from high school a year or two after I did.

According to several stories I read on the Internet (so it must be true) Jell-O sales fell by 19 percent between 2009 and 2013. I bet people don’t buy a lot of Junket anymore either. In fact, I was surprised to learn they still make that.

Ray Dean, recently retired police chief in the small Long Island village of Westhampton Beach received a retirement bonus of something like $400,000. It was for accumulated, unused vacation and sick time over his 15 years in the job. He’s been criticized for that and I don’t know why. The Village mayor and trustees who entered into the contract that required these payments deserve the criticism. If someone wanted to give me an overly-generous employment contract, I’d accept it, wouldn’t you. Current mayor, Maria Moore, to her credit, says the she and the present board of trustees will make sure the next chief’s contract isn’t anywhere near as generous.

By the way, did you know that according to New York State law, if a municipality gives its police a raise, it must also raise the salary of its police chief by at least as much as the dollar amount of the highest raise given to any of the policemen? According to one interpretation of that law, you can’t pay a new police chief less than you paid his or her predecessor either. That, to use the applicable technical term, is nuts.

Attention Geico Gecko: Bullwinkle’s last name isn’t “Winkle.” It’s “Moose.” Full name, Bullwinkle J. Moose. If I ever knew what the J stands for, I’ve long-since forgotten.

Things I Want (Or Need) To Know

Nadal Hasan, the army psychiatrist who killed 13 people at Fort Hood Texas in November, 2009 has written to ISIS asking to become a citizen of that group’s Islamic state. Can we now travel back almost five years and finally describe Doctor Hasan’s attack as a terrorist incident?

Isn’t the last weekend in August too early to be Labor Day Weekend?

August 20th was National Radio Day. I listened to the radio that day as I do every day. Why didn’t anyone on the stations I listened to mention that?

Would I be violating any trademark or copyright laws if I were to sell “Free Jessa” t-shirts?

Does the color of sprinkles make any difference in their flavor?

Why does Facebook think I need to see so many ads for Toyota RAV 4s?

So, I keep getting this robocall and the guy with a beautiful, sonorous, radio announcer voice that reminds me of my old friend and colleague Allen Shaw intones, “Don’t hang up! This is not a sales call.” What kind of call is it? I don’t know because that’s when I always hang up.

Who Review

I’m about as big a Doctor Who fan as anyone who doesn’t dress up in costume and attend conventions, so I watched tonight’s season’s premiere with the new Doctor, Peter Capaldi with great anticipation. I thought the acting was fine, but the script a little weak.

Every Doctor, when he regenerates emerges a little befuddled, but usually, by the end of the first episode, they have gotten themselves together. Peter Capaldi as the doctor seemed more befuddled than usual and befuddled for a longer period of time. As a result, I thought the premiere of the new season of Doctor Who was a little on the slow side. And, honestly, the dinosaur didn’t really add anything at all as far as I’m concerned.

But Clara was the real confusing one for me. During the Matt Smith era, we learned that Clara had existed through time for the purpose was of saving the doctor. She’s even shown once with William Hartnell’s first doctor. So, why was she so confused by Smith’s regeneration and so unaccepting of Capaldi as the Doctor?

I’ve been a big fan of Doctor Who since the program first appeared in America on PBS with Tom Baker as the Doctor. Like I’m sure everyone else, I like some Doctors better than others. Capaldi’s Doctor seems less approachable than either Smith or Tennant. I think it’ll take a while to warm up to him, but I’m perfectly willing to give him a chance. I do hope the next villain is more menacing and that the Doctor has a more direct role in resolving the next story arc.

Licensed to Drive

Back in June, on the anniversary of my high school graduation, I mentioned that I hardly remember anything about that supposedly milestone event. I also don’t remember the first time I kissed a girl. It must have been the first girl I dated and I don’t remember why we stopped seeing each other either. I do, however, remember taking my driver’s test; I remember that very clearly.

I was 17 and in dress rehearsals for a school play, so I had grey hair. I took the test in the family car, an ancient Dodge that can most kindly be described as a bomb! No steering wheel cover, no horn ring, no inside door panel on the passenger side, passenger door banged in, and the muffler was going, so it resonated inside the car rather obviously, even worse if I had the windows up. I had them down, all of them, in November, in New York.

Inspector gets in the car, checks my paperwork, looks at me and says, “How old are you? I told him I was 17 and since he didn’t ask why I had grey hair, I didn’t tell him. But he shoved his clipboard toward me and said, “Sign this!” so I did. Then, he noticed the steering wheel and asked if I could blow the horn. I said I wasn’t sure because I never had to. I blew it though, so he had to look for some other excuse. He noticed the absence of the passenger door panel and consequently the door handle. He asked, “How do you get out of this thing?” Wordlessly, I gave him the door handle. He didn’t ask for the handle to roll up the window, so I didn’t give him that. As I said, you could hear the bad muffler better if the windows were up.

I passed the first time I actually took the test. I always thought it was because the instructor wanted to be sure he never had to ride in that old Dodge again.

On top of all that angst, when the license came in the mail, the family car was parked in front of the house, but I walked to where I had to go that day, three miles away, because the car wasn’t properly insured for me to drive it. And the first girl I asked out once I had the license said yes, but her dad wouldn’t let her in a car alone with a boy he hadn’t met, so my dad had to drive us.

Things I Know

Don Pardo died. He was 96. Absolutely a household voice, although not a household name. Still, if you know anything at all about media, you didn’t just ask, “Don who?”

Arcadia publishing has made a success of publishing trade paperback books consisting mostly of photos of local areas. The series is called “Images of America.” The newest one is “Ithaca Radio” by Peter King Steinhaus and Rick Sommers Steinhaus with an introduction by Keith Olbermann. Ithaca NY is home of a highly regarded college curriculum in broadcasting at Ithaca College’s school of communications and one of the most professional college radio stations you’ll ever hear at Cornell’s student-owned and run WVBR. Because of that, a lot more successful broadcasters have passed through Ithaca than most radio markets of its size. I passed through Ithaca radio myself and I bought the book when it came out last week. If you worked in Ithaca radio or if you just follow the medium, I think you’ll like the book and, no, you won’t find a picture of me in it.

Two young Amish girls were kidnapped last week near Oswegatchie, NY. Fortunately, the girls’ abductors were arrested and the girls returned to their families. If like me, you’ve lived in New York most of your life and never heard of Oswegatchie, you may wonder what it’s near. It isn’t near anything.

If you’re interested in cars, as I am, you probably agree with me that the Woodward Dream Cruise and the Pebble Beach Concours D’Elegance should never take place on the same weekend.

A 1962 Ferrari 250 GT which was expected to bring a record price last week sold for only $38 million. A record price for a Ferrari 250 GT, in case you’re thinking of getting one for yourself or a friend, would be somewhere north of $52 million.

Things I Know

“Never wear sandals on a farm.” –Robin Williams. RIP Robin Williams. You made everyone laugh.

Frankly both Israel and Hamas are wrong in the current Middle East conflict. I’m not going to get into which side is more wrong, but with respect to the current issue, if you’re going to sit around firing rockets at someone, you should expect them to shoot back.

James Brady, President Regan’s press secretary, died on August 4th, at the age of 73. He was gravely wounded when John Hinckley tried to assassinate Regan. Bullets fired by Hinckley hit both Regan and Brady. Brady’s injuries were permanent. I didn’t know Mr. Brady, but I did talk to him on the phone a couple of times when I worked in the House of Representatives and he worked for Senator Roth of Delaware. After his shooting, Brady worked hard for and became a living symbol in efforts to pass stricter gun control laws. RIP James Brady.

There’s a radio commercial for B&H Photo, a huge camera and electronic store in New York. In it, his co-workers are planning a “surprise retirement party” for Bob. This suggests, at least to me that in addition to the party being a surprise to Bob, his retirement is also a surprise to him.

I was watching a rebroadcast of the 2010 Mark Twain Award ceremony, the one that gave the prize to Tina Fey. Jennifer Hudson is really talented singer. Still, In my opinion, nobody but Aretha should sing “Respect.”

Things I Want (Or Need) To Know

The phrase “duck-billed platypus” is kind of curious to me. Is there any other kind of platypus?

Suppose for a second, that you only wanted to eat half a package of Keebler’s Old-Fashioned Oatmeal Cookies. How would you get the plastic tray back into the bag without ripping the bag or breaking the tray or its contents? I know I could just eat the entire bag of cookies, and I am able to do that if I have enough milk in the house. However, I’m not supposed to.

I’m sorry, but I don’t understand the purpose of camouflage uniforms for baseball games. The uniforms are ugly, and besides, you can still see the ballplayers.

Why does the cost of renting a car have so little to do with the cost of the car?

I wanted to go sit on a beach for a week or two in October, but my wife can’t go with me because it’s a busy time of year at her job. I won’t go without her so the beach will have to wait. Where can the two of us go for a long weekend that’s not too far from New York City?

I don’t want to go to Florida in November because the weather can be iffy for the beach then. I would like to go in March, for baseball spring training, but vacation rentals and hotels are more expensive in Florida then. So the question would be, can we afford that?

Things I Know

Two 19-year-old junior hockey players for the US Hockey League’s Lincoln Stars were arrested because they allegedly had sex with a 15-year-old girl in a hotel room in Morehead MN, recorded event and then shared the recording. Here’s advice you may not get anywhere else. If you do commit a felony, make sure to record it and share it with as many people as possible. Be certain to post it on the Internet too. That will make it so much easier for the police to catch and prosecute you. Since I mentioned the team’s name, I should point out that the team has quite properly suspended the two players indefinitely.

It’s a sad commentary on the state of the world that when Orlando Bloom swung on Justin Bieber in Ibiza, Spain, it was international news. Because of his age and his past public behavior, I don’t expect Justin Bieber to behave like an adult, but Orlando Bloom is in his late 30’s, almost twice Bieber’s age.

So, I was looking through a bunch of books and I came across one by a professor, a woman with a very unusual first name. How unusual? I’ve only met or heard of one person in my entire life with that name. We went to school together from third to sixth grade. So, I Googled the author. Then, I Googled the first name. The first nine results for the name were the author. One of those turned up an email address. I dropped her a line. She answered. Yup, it’s her. I doubt we’ll ever get together, but it’s nice to know that one of my old classmates has had a successful career in academia.

Based on my experience riding in cars, both as a parent and as a child, “Don’t make me come back there,” is among the very best advice I’ve ever received or given.

Saint Karen (my wife who must be a saint to put up with me) received a mailing from Barclay’s Bank, offering her a black Visa card. Said Black Visa Card is made of stainless steel (patent pending, believe it or not). Since most cards are now swiped or used on line and not imprinted, I don’t know how important that is. I do know if I were a merchant, the black one wouldn’t impress me. It has some benefits that are good if you travel a lot and have a lot of problems while traveling, a lot. But the interest rate is nothing special and it has an annual fee of $495! So, thanks, but no thanks.

The nice thing about getting robocalls on my cell phone is that I can (and do) hang up on them without even answering them.

Some wag on TV said there’s a new word, precrastination, that means getting something done too early. Procrastination never made me any money, so I’m coining another new word: amateurcrastination.

Things I Want (Or Need) To Know

I’m an adult male. I graduated from college more than a decade ago (a lot more) and I have never played basketball in a way serious enough for me to have a team uniform. I went shopping for shorts recently. I wanted two kinds, running or workout shorts for the gym and cargo shorts for the street. Would it be too much bother for clothing manufacturers to include the inseam length on men’s shorts? To me, shorts that hang below my knees are longs and I don’t like to have to hold every pair to my waist in a nearly fruitless quest to find shorts that are shorter than longs.

Hanes now sells underwear in resealable bags. Why?

Hanes isn’t the only company that now makes underwear without tags, but it’s the only company I’ve seen make a big deal of it in TV commercials. In the commercials, Hanes claims it’s done away with annoying tags. I am not a garment-industry insider, but tags in underwear have never annoyed me and I suspect the real reason for the trend away from tags is it makes manufacturing underwear slightly less expensive.

Have you see the latest TV commercial for Subway’s pulled pork sandwich? Extra pickles, sure, but who the heck puts lettuce on a pulled pork sandwich?

Why is it necessary for people to set off firecrackers on the 4th of July? I think aerial fireworks are beautiful, especially the biggest shows like the one Macy’s puts on each year, but what’s the deal with firecrackers? To me, all they do is keep people awake and scare dogs. Also, get off my lawn!

Why are Social Tea cookies so expensive and how come they never go on sale?

Wal Mart is running TV ads touting its “all natural” steaks. Fine. As opposed to what? Those plastic steaks that all the other big box stores and supermarkets sell?

Pope Francis excommunicated the Mafia. Makes sense, but how come it didn’t happen a long, long, long time ago?

A Prescription for Disaster

Honestly, I’m grateful to have good health insurance, incorporating a good prescription drug plan. I realize a lot of people don’t have that. My wife has an identical plan. Each of us gets family health insurance through our employer. So in one instance, my insurance is too good because I have two accounts.

We switched prescription drug providers in January and the new one has a slightly smaller benefit in that if you get a prescription for a maintenance drug (one you’re supposed to take every day) you’ve never taken before, they send you a 30 day supply instead of a 90 day supply. I suppose this makes sense because if you have unbearable side effects, you won’t have to thrown away a lot of medicine. It does cost me a little more for a new drug though because they charge me a co-payment for each prescription filled, not for the number of pills I receive.

But my problem is that with two accounts all my prescriptions seem to wind up being new whether they are new or for drugs I’ve taken for anywhere from three to 20 years. Let’s say I take Victoza for diabetes and I’ve been taking it for three years. I’d prefer to take no drugs at all, but I am a diabetic and I don’t want to die so Victoza isn’t the only prescription drug I take every day. I got a 90 day supply of it in April and my doctor wrote a replacement prescription in July. They decided to fill the replacement prescription from my other account and charge a co-pay for 30 days worth instead of 90 days worth. In the case of Victoza, the co-pay is substantial so doing this raises their costs and my costs too.

They’ve also started giving me incorrect information about the problem. They told me my doctor wrote a prescription for a 30-day supply. In fact, they told me he wrote two prescriptions for a 30 day supply. No he didn’t. I asked them for a copy of what he sent them. They sent me one prescription for a 90 day supply, but they now insist it’s a new prescription, so they’ll only give me 30-days worth. I’ve spoken to at least seven customer service representatives Some of them have promised to clear it up. Some of them have actually helped me for one prescription. Some of them have told me things that just aren’t true. Are they lying? Maybe, or maybe they’re just repeating misinformation someone else put in the computer. In my career, I’ve had more than one job where being correct is not an acceptable excuse. It’s frustrating, believe me, but it doesn’t compare with being insured, being right and having that not be an acceptable excuse either.

I’m currently experiencing this problem with two of my medicines. I’ve experienced it with other medicines too, just not right now. I can only think of three possible explanations, but I hope there are others. My three are jaw-dropping incompetence on the part of everyone I’ve dealt with at the mail-order pharmacy, deliberate fraud, or a combination of the two. If they were jaw-droppingly incompetent across the board, I figure they would have hired someone who could solve the problem, just by mistake. I was told on July 8th that one of my problems would be straightened out and my doctor was told on July 17th that the other one would also be fixed. Sunday night, according to their website, the first problem is more messed up than ever. I’m scheduled for two renewals on Wednesday. The second problem isn’t even in the pipeline.

While they have yet to solve the problem, they finally did cause me to lose my temper on Thursday. I’m not proud of myself, but I certainly feel I had plenty of justification. Sisyphus would understand. He wouldn’t approve, but he would understand. Looks like I’m going to have to call them again. I dread that. Exactly what I’m going to call them this time, I haven’t decided yet. I wish SSG Mebane was still around. My old drill sergeant could certainly think of something creative to call them. He thought of enough creative things to call me when I was in Basic Training.

I’m not going to give up. I have written to the chairman of the NY State Senate’s Health Committee. If that doesn’t work, I guess I’ll check in with the consumer reporter for one or more of New York’s TV stations and also shame them by name right here in this blog. If you’ve read this blog for more than say four days, you may already be able go guess. Right now, if the readership of this blog is in the single digits, the digit I have reserved for my mail-order prescription provider is a middle one. Maybe two middle ones.

Things I Know

I just dare CVS Caremark to send me a customer satisfaction survey.

It’s not that I want to talk to telemarketers, live or robocalls. I don’t. But, if you’re not ready to talk to me when you call me, don’t call me. I’ll say hello once and hang up if nobody says anything back. I’ll also hang up as soon as I determine that it’s a telemarketer on the other end of the line, but first, I’ll tell them not to call me again.

With Bastille Day just passed, I was disappointed to learn that people in France don’t call it that. They call it La Fête Nationale (National Celebration) and commonly le quatorze juillet.

I had a dream that if I ever won a big lottery prize, I’d buy all the seats at Citi Field for one game and attend a major league ball game by myself. However, with as bad as attendance has been at Citi in this baseball season, I would no longer have to do that to do that.

The Mets played very well in the last week or two before the All-Star break, so I hope they don’t live up to their long history of fading in the second half.

I’d seriously like it if you could sort music libraries in iTunes by more than one category. For instance, it would be good to sort the song list first by artist and then by song. You could do that in MusicMatch a hundred years ago, so iTunes should be able to catch up.

Public Ridicule

Did you ever hear of Andrew R. Rector before the last week or so? Probably not, unless you watched the April 13 baseball game between the Yankees and the Red Sox. Rector is a guy who fell asleep in the stands. His image was broadcast that day, but unless you already knew him, you didn’t learn his name.

That name came up because this is the month in which Rector filed suit in New York State Supreme Court, seeking $10 million in damages from ESPN, Major League Baseball and the Yankees. I heard he sued the ESPN announcers, John Kruk and Dan Schulman too, but the article in the NY Times didn’t mention that, so maybe what I heard was wrong. Rector was mocked on Twitter, on Youtube and in other Internet venues, but unlike the bar in the old TV show “Cheers,” everybody didn’t know his name.

But they do now. The Streisand Effect is what journalists, public relations professionals and Internet wags call it. The Streisand Effect is when someone tries to censor, or block, or remove something from the public record (especially the Internet) and instead, the effort to remove it attracts attention to it. It’s named after famed entertainer Barbara Streisand who tried in 2003 to have certain aerial photos of her Malibu beachfront home removed from the internet by suing for $50 million. I know Wikipedia isn’t always an authoritative source, but according to Wikipedia, before the lawsuit, fewer than 4,000 people had seen the pictures on the Internet. Afterwards, more than 400,000.

If you’re interested and haven’t looked at the NY Times website too often, you can read about the Rector lawsuit here. The article says Rector claims people made fun of him everywhere he went because he was shown asleep at the game. In my opinion, the lawsuit will cause Mr. Rector to be ridiculed much more than his falling asleep did. If he was teased about that, no doubt the teasing had died down since the incident happened in April. Filing the lawsuit dragged the whole thing back into the public consciousness and Identified him by name to the public at large. His name hadn’t been widely known before. While I am not a lawyer, I firmly believe the lawsuit should and will be dismissed as frivolous. For just one thing, why is he suing the Yankees? They made stadium seats comfortable enough to sleep in, that’s true, but they won the game, 3-2, so they at least tried to keep Rector awake.

Things I Know

The phrase “The Fourth of July,” and the phrase “Independence Day” have the same number of syllables. If we could get everyone to call it Independence Day, we could change it to always have a three day weekend out of it.

At the end of June, General Motors announced another 7.6 million cars. The General has now recalled 28 million vehicles since January 1 of this year. That’s more cars than it sold in the past seven years combined. If this trend continues much longer, the General will run out of cars to recall that it manufactured. I predict when that happens, General Motors will start recalling Fords and Chryslers too.

Gold dust plants are susceptible to fungus. I didn’t know that until all the ones in my back yard started turning black while I was in Europe.

I’ve been listening to downloads of an old-time radio called “Broadway Is My Beat.” I don’t know why I like it. I’ll give it a slight break because the show, from the early 1950s predated the Miranda decision, but there’s almost no correct police procedure in it, beginning with the fact that before NYPD headquarters was at 1 Police Plaza, it was on Centre Street which is way downtown, not on Broadway between Times Square and Columbus Circle. Plus, very few people in New York used florid language like that in New York City in the early 1950s and I’m pretty sure not a single one who did was a police detective lieutenant like the lead character in the show, Danny Clover.

Twitter, with its 140 character limit, gave me the idea for a website where everything had to be a haiku. But someone else had an idea for haiku.com before I did. It’s not exactly restricted to haikus, but it’s similar to that.

Now that July is here, I suppose it’s time for end of summer and back to school sales.

The Mets are now 10 or 11 games under .500. And while we’re contemplating that, let’s remember that they usually fade in the second-half of the season.

Primarily Speaking

So, after the Congressional primaries are over, in New York’s 4th CD, it’ll be Democrat Kathleen Rice vs. the former Chairman of the Nassau County Legislature, Republican Bruce Blakeman. Since leaving the legislature a long time ago, Blakeman has made two unsuccessful runs for higher office. I have no inside knowledge of this or any other race, but at a guess, I’d say Blakeman’s name recognition is much lower than Rice’s.

The seat is already in Democratic hands. It’s open because nine-term incumbent Carolyn McCarthy is retiring. Voter enrollment leans Democratic too, but it is winnable for Republicans because the number of voters who aren’t registered in one party or the other is larger than the difference between Democratic and Republican tallies. At this point, and without the benefit of polling data, I’m guessing that Blakeman has to be considered the underdog.

While I’m sure the local GOP hierarchy would be happy to gain the seat in Congress, I don’t think Republican powers that be would be unhappy if Rice won this election. Why? Because that would mean an election for Nassau County District Attorney unencumbered by a three-term incumbent. As a general rule, incumbents have a built in advantage when seeking reelection.

Republican primaries are pretty unusual in New York, but this year, not so much. On Long Island’s east end, Republican State Senator Lee Zeldin defeated insurgent George Demos to win the GOP nomination in the 1st CD. He now faces an uphill battle against six term Democratic Congressman Tim Bishop in the fall. Because Zeldin is now a two-term State Senator, he ought to do better than he did the first time the two squared off in 2008 when Bishop beat the then novice by 50,000 votes. Still, as the race begins I’d call Bishop the favorite.

Upstate, in the 22nd CD, Republican State Assemblywoman Claudia Tenney didn’t duplicate Dave Brat’s surprise win against Eric Cantor in Virginia. Like Brat, Tenney is more conservative than the incumbent she challenged. Republican Congressman Richard Hanna outpolled Tenney 53-47% . A six point difference isn’t considered particularly close. The 22nd CD covers eight counties in the Syracuse area. There is no Democrat running in the November election, so Hanna’s primary victory is tantamount to election.

In New York City, 22-term Harlem Congressman Charlie Rangel claimed victory in an Democratic Primary against challenger, State Senator Adriano Espiallat. The City Board of Elections hasn’t declared a victor because absentee and affidavit ballots have yet to be counted. Unless you were in the North Korean Army during the Korean war, if you’ve ever met Charlie Rangel, he has charmed you. Once one of the most powerful men in Congress, Rangel’s influence has diminished as his later years have been marred by ethical problems. The ethnic nature of his district has also changed. Once almost exclusively African-American, Hispanics now make up the majority of the voting population. If Rangel is reelected, he is expected to wrap up his career and not seek reelection in 2016.

If you live in New York and like primaries, there are still lots of possibilities. Party nomination for state offices are up for grabs in September.

Graduation Day

I’m pretty sure today the anniversary of my high school graduation. I won’t tell you which anniversary. It was supposed to be such a milestone event in our lives and I’m not even 100 percent sure of the date. I don’t know about you, but I remember hardly anything about mine. I don’t remember a heck of a lot more about my graduation from college. High school graduation day was hot and sunny and by the end of the ceremony my face was the same red color as my mortar board and gown. The last graduate to walk got a huge round of applause because he was last, so it was over.

Do you remember anything your graduation speaker said? I don’t. I do know he went on to a distinguished career in education, but his reputation was tarnished by scandal years after he passed away.

I remember a little more about the party my family had afterwards than I do about the ceremony. I can describe in great detail what my girlfriend wore to that party. I wonder why that sticks in my mind. We broke up before the end of the year. I also remember what she and her parents gave me as a graduation present, a Bulova watch, and an extremely generous present it was too. The only other present I remember came from my Aunt Mary. It was a Dopp shaving kit.

I was disappointed, but it wound up being so practical, and so useful over such a long time that I gave my son something similar when he graduated from high school, and I explained why. He didn’t say, neither did I, but I’m pretty sure he wasn’t any more enthusiastic to receive a shaving kit for graduation than I was.

Things I Know

I get in trouble for nothing a lot. Since it happens frequently, I’m going to try to figure out how to get paid for it.

Insomniac that I am, I often go to bed hours after my lovely wife. This means I occasionally change for bed in the dark and Saint Karen (who has to be a saint to put up with me) leaves my night clothes on my pillow. Since I only need my glasses to find my glasses, I usually put them in the same place every night, on top of my armoire. Recently, I couldn’t find my glasses and Saint Karen found them in our bed. That means I took my glasses off while changing, laid them on the mattress and didn’t put them where they belong. It also means I was lucky I didn’t crush them in my sleep. More importantly than either of those things, it clearly means I shouldn’t go to bed when I’m tired.

I wondered why Bruce Blakeman is running TV ads for New York’s fourth Congressional District so far away from the general election. Then, I realized, voters in the 4th CD, NY are looking forward to the rarest of rare events, a Republican primary. It’s tomorrow, June 24th.

“All dictators should know a rigged election should be like a pleasant spring day — high 60’s, low 70’s.” –John Oliver

I have a scar a couple of inches long on my forehead. It’s there because the doctor cut off something else that used to be there. But when anyone asks me what the scar is from, I tell them it’s from my lobotomy.

I was unable to stifle ambition, so I dragged out my step ladder and changed the two burned out bulbs in the overhead fixture of our upstairs bathroom. Each bulb costs $7. Hopefully they’ll last a while. Now, it’s a lot easier to read in the bathtub than it was yesterday. It’s still difficult to read in the shower, but not because it’s dark in there. It’s not.

Going to the gym is good for something. A few years ago, I couldn’t lift my biggest room air conditioner, the one for the master bedroom into the window. Now, I can.

The community in which I live stopped paying to allow residents to carry their own trash to the local dump. I used to like to dispose of building debris from my remodeling projects that way, but now that I can’t, so I should probably sell my pickup truck.

Things I Want (Or Need) To Know

The Kentucky Derby is 1.25 miles. The Belmont is 1.5 miles. The Preakness, the one in the middle of the quest for the triple crown, is shorter than either at 1.1875 miles. I’m no expert at horse training or horse racing. Still, I can’t help wondering if winning the triple crown would be easier or harder if the races got progressively longer. In other words, if the Preakness was 1.375 miles, would it help or make things more difficult?

Who’s idea was it to design one of my room air conditioners so you can’t remove or install the air filter while the unit is in a window?

When Kim and Kanye got married last month, why did Kim get top billing when at least Kanye has some talent?

The display on a cell phone is programmed to tell whether you’re holding the phone horizontally or vertically, right? So, why can’t they make a cell phone that won’t record video in portrait (vertical) mode? Or at least one you have to override in some way in order to record video that way.

Whatever happened to Bill? We’ve had the same phone number in our last two homes. We like it and when we moved nearby, we kept it. We used to get calls all the time looking for Bill. We believe the reason is that Bill’s phone number was one digit different from ours. But it’s been quite some time since we’ve received one of those calls. Did Bill move away? Did he pass away? Did he just get tired of getting a lot of wrong numbers looking for me and change his number? I’d like to know.

Cesar Alvarez, 26, a make high school teacher in the Bronx, NY, was arrested after he took a 16-year-old female student on two dates during which he reportedly plied her with alcohol. The girl’s parents complained when she came home drunk. What I don’t understand is why didn’t they complain when she went out with her teacher, who is ten years older than she is?

Things I Know

I just watched the Johnny Depp Lone Ranger movie. I don’t think it’s supposed to be a comedy. I suppose that’s good since it’s not funny. But the one funny thing about it is it’s not good either.

If you have a good camera, you probably don’t need to bring a tripod on your European vacation, unless you want to take really sharp pictures of landmarks at night, or include yourself in the pictures. The places you would like to take pictures indoors with a tripod probably won’t let you take pictures with or without one, so you can save a kilogram or two and leave the tripod home.

If you have a big boy camera and a big boy flash unit and you bring them to a wedding, bring extra batteries for both to the wedding too. I knew that before, I just didn’t do it in Bulgaria.

Saint Karen (who has to be a saint to put up with me) and I were walking through first class on the way to our seats in a lesser part of the plane. This particular plane had those little compartments in first class that embrace one or two seats and keep the well to do from having to share an armrest. Some of the seats face the rear of the plane and my wife, who is prone to motion sickness, said she wouldn’t want to fly facing backwards. So I told her she was exceptionally fortunate that she didn’t marry a rich man.

Want to lose about five pounds? Go to Europe for two weeks. That’s what I did. A lot more walking than I’m used to and way fewer snacks between meals.

My friend Wes Richards claimed recently in his blog that the most important sentence ever written in the English language could well have been “See Spot run.” If he has a point there, it isn’t his only one. You can find his blog by Googling, or even Binging “Wessays.”

If I understand correctly, Sears and Land’s End finalized their divorce in April. However, I was in a Sears Store in Garden City NY in early May and they have a bigger display of Land’s End clothing than I’ve ever seen before, especially women’s’ clothing. Also, as of this writing, if you mail order something from Lands End, you can still return it to a Sears store if you need to send it back. For the record, my wife ordered a dress that didn’t fit. Sears took it back with no problem of any kind.

I recorded 700 Sundays, the Broadway one-man show starring Billy Crystal the last time it was on HBO. When I watched it, he said something I found really profound about meeting and beginning to date his wife. “You never let ‘The One’ get away.” I don’t think I’ve ever heard better advice in my life.

To me, it just makes sense that the bigger the coin is, the more it should be worth. But, before I get on England about that, I have to get on the US for its coinage that doesn’t work that way either. However the British could help us tourists out a little bit. Since I am unfamiliar with their coinage, I would have found it helpful if the value of each coin was listed on both sides.

Memorial Day 2014

I took this picture at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier in Arlington VA about a year and a half ago. To me, it’s a fitting reminder of exactly what we’re supposed to pause and remember today.

Unknown for Blog

Comment Policy Change

I don’t know if I changed it inadvertently, or if the folks at Word Press did during one of their software updates, but until today, you had to be a logged in user of Word Press to comment on the Sisyphus Project. However it got that way, you no longer have to log in to post a comment. The comment block does require some information, including an email address that won’t be published. I’m pretty sure it doesn’t have to be a real email address. I’m absolutely sure I won’t be verifying them.

I hope this will increase the number of comments and commentators.

All comments are moderated because I don’t want you to know how much money my friend’s cousin made last month working part-time from home on her laptop. A panel of moderators has been carefully selected by me. It is my blog, you know. This panel consists of me. All decisions made by the moderators are both arbitrary and final.

I’ve Been Traveling in Europe

I always wanted to say that, but now that I have, it seems kind of stuck up, doesn’t it?

Saint Karen (who has to be a saint to put up with me) and I went to London and then on to Bulgaria. The new masthead on the blog is a picture of one of the legendary ravens of the Tower of London. Chris Skaife, the Yeoman Warder who served as our tour guide, is also the master raven keeper at the Tower.

Chris Skaife for Blog

According to tradition, if the ravens leave the Tower, the British Monarchy will fall and so will Britain. Chris claims that his official title is Raven Lunatic. I swear. He said that. And, if you look for him, he does have a Twitter account, @ravenmaster1.

More later, but I was in Europe just long enough to become unaccustomed to the time zone for the Eastern United States and I haven’t been back long enough to become re-accustomed to it.

Things I Know

Rarely will an incumbent politician run attack ads against his or her opponent, especially very early in the campaign. It helps the challenger gain name recognition and implies that the incumbent takes them seriously. Some PAC is running ads attacking Rob Astorino, the Republican nominee to face Andrew Cuomo, the Democratic incumbent governor of New York. And it’s even stranger because Astorino is about 30 points behind Cuomo in recent polls.

it was really bush league for Yankee fans to boo Robinson Cano roundly during every plate appearance of his first trip back to the Bronx since signing with the Seattle Mariners. The Yankees weren’t willing to match what the Mariners paid Cano. The difference between the two offers was in eight figures. Even if you were as rich as a Major League Baseball star, you wouldn’t leave that much cash on the table either.

It’s hard to keep the story of the racist owner of the LA Clippers basketball team straight when the owner and the NBA commissioner are named Sterling and Silver respectively.

Talk about disillusioned, according to this this, Murphy didn’t formulate Murphy’s Law.

Kudos to the NY State Department of Taxation and Finance. I got my state tax refund in fewer than two weeks after I filed. The IRS is no slouch either. I received my federal refund before the end of April as well.

When I drive a car regularly, after a while I cut a hole in the driver’s side floor mat because of the way I move my feet while working the gas and brake pedal. You can’t buy just one floor mat though, so if I want mine to match, I have to buy two for the front and one for the rear. That can cost $150 or more. Being cheap, I took the mat to an upholstery shop and they’re sewing a heel pad on just the driver’s side mat. They’re doing it for a lot less than $150 too.

If I call my bank with questions about my accounts, they ask me a bunch of security questions. All of the security questions except one would be available to someone who found or stole my wallet. The one that isn’t is, “What’s your mother’s maiden name?” They have my wife’s maiden name wrong.

When CD players were first introduced, many of the early ones had a random play feature. Consumers didn’t like that because a random selection could play the same song more than once before all of them had been played. Really random is hard to achieve, but that’s beside the point in this instance. CD makers retooled and came up with a shuffle program. It would play all the songs in a different order each time, but it wouldn’t repeat any of the songs until all of them had played. I have a 10 CD player in my old minivan. It plays all the songs before it repeats, even if you shut the car off from time to time. To get it to reset, you have to play all the songs or remove and reinsert the CD magazine. I bring this up because iTunes shuffle button seems to play some songs more than once before playing all of them. ITunes says shuffle, but appears to means random. It would be both nice and not much of a software problem if you could choose between random and shuffle.

I recently had minor surgery on my forehead under local anesthetic. My wife, the lovely Saint Karen (she has to be a saint to put up with me) told the women she works with that on the occasion of that surgery she felt comfortable calling me a numb skull.

The doctor’s office had a lot of storage compartments labeled with what they contained. One of the compartments was labeled Xylocaine. That reminded me of two things: I’d still wonder how they come up with names for all these drugs; and I did once meet famous jazz musician Lionel Hampton.

Things I Want (Or Need) To Know

So, since Catholics traditionally name their children after saints, will we now have a rash of boy children named John XXIII and John Paul II?

Have you seen the HGTV show “Love It or List It?” Do you think Hillary will ever learn to add some extra money to her budget for contingencies?

When did they stop having a children’s section, complete with a matron, in the movie theater?

Recent headline on the NY Post website: “Columbia Student Reveals Secret Life as a Male Gigolo.” Other than male gigolos, is there any other kind?

And, here’s another one: “Flier busted at Newark airport with Soviet-style AK-47, ammo.” Aren’t al AK-47s Soviet style?

When I buy a new cell phone for $200, with a new, two-year contract, part of the cost of the phone is built into the contract, right? So, how come you don’t get a price reduction if you don’t get a different phone when the contract is up? Why doesn’t at least one carrier offer that as an option as a way to lure in new customers?

Do cell-phone processors “wear out” shortly after you’re eligible for an upgrade? My Droid X is an antique, I grant you that, and it sometimes takes more than a minute to connect and place a call, although the rest of the phone works fine. When that happens, I empty the cache and it helps for a while, but the guy in the Verizon store told me it’s because the processor is wearing out. I did political public relations for more than 20 years and so I’m an expert in bullshit, but even I am not sure if bullshit is what I was hearing from the guy at the phone store.

Things I Know

I shouldn’t be, but I am astonished at the news coverage People Magazine is receiving for naming the most beautiful woman in the world. Actress Lupita Nyongo is beautiful, but who’s most beautiful is a matter of personal preference and the whole idea is too trivial to deserve all the ink and all the electrons it’s getting.

Even banks don’t make much money on the float anymore. My school taxes are due by May 10th. My bank pays them through my mortgage escrow. My bank sent in the payment on April 9, a full month early.

I appreciate credit card loss and fraud prevention efforts. However, when I call my bank, all the security questions they ask me would be available to anyone who found or stole my wallet.

Also regarding credit card security, I can use my credit card in any other business I’ve ever encountered, twice in one day, but I can’t use it to get gas for both cars at the station nearest my house on the same day.

Had a couple of ultra-sound tests aimed at reducing the risk that I’ll have a stroke like the one my friend had recently. The tests got me thinking, tinnitus is bad enough, but you’d be hard-pressed to hear anything else if you could hear your blood circulating inside your body.

It’s bugged me since I bought my new laptop in December that when I plug in my earphones, it pings and puts a dialogue box on the screen telling me I plugged them in. Today, after four months, I finally figured out how to stop that.

I like old cars, I’ve been to one Barrett-Jackson auction and I watch them on TV when I can. Usually, I record them and watch later because I can’t sit in front of the TV all weekend. I don’t like the company’s new TV deal. They used to be on Speed Channel, but that was taken over by Fox Sports and the auctions now move around from Fox Sports 1 to Fox Sports 2 to the National Geographic Channel. First, I don’t see why these auctions fit with the rest of the programming on any of these channels and second, I don’t get Fox Sports 2.

TV production of Barrett-Jackson auctions hasn’t improved with the new deal and there is room for improvement. They could do a better job photographing the cars, an occasional short feature on a car or a car owner wouldn’t hurt either. They also need to work harder on incorporating social media. And, while April Rose is pretty, I think pretty is her major contribution to the event.

Hanging around for hours while what the surgeon cut out goes to pathology and before he or she finishes the operation is both annoying and boring, well, maybe tedious is a better word than boring, but the concept behind Mohs surgery is a clever idea and if it keeps my skin cancer from recurring, I’m all for it.

Don’t Die If You Can Help It.

I’ve known a lot of people for a long time. Like most of us, people have drifted in and out of my life. Nobody can keep everyone they like close to them for their entire life. I know I haven’t been able to. I’ve located some old friends and tried to rekindle relationships. Sometimes it works and sometimes it doesn’t. I’m no stalker, but these are people I like. I want them in my life if they want me in theirs.

My longest-tenured friend almost died last week because he’s a monumental idiot. I want to use stronger language than that, but friend. I say longest-tenured because I have friends who are older than he is, but he and I have never lost touch since we first met and we’ve known each other so long, neither of us can remember meeting for the first time. I’m guessing we met at a school bus stop in middle school.

I love the guy like the brother I never had. I was best man at his wedding. He would have been best man in mine, but he was in the service and couldn’t get there. We’re not as close as we once were because we’ve lived a continent apart, pretty much since he got out of the Navy and I got out of the Army. Still, when he’s called me up and asks me for something, I’ve always done it and I can’t conceive of him asking me to do something I wouldn’t do. Unlike some of my crazy relatives, he’s only called me in the middle of the night once and he was sober when he did it.

He had a stroke. No, I don’t know how big it was, but even a small stroke is a medical emergency. It’s not just a sprain and it won’t buff right out like a scratch on your car might. If you think you had a stroke, get to the emergency room. If your wife thinks you need to go to the emergency room, go to the emergency room. If your daughter who is close to graduating from nursing school thinks you need to go the emergency room, go to the emergency room. These are the people who love you most. They have your best interest at heart even if nobody else does. It’s probably a bad idea to drive yourself and you may not be able to handle a car, but get to the emergency room.

He didn’t ask for my advice and he didn’t follow his wife or daughter’s advice until it was nearly too late. He did survive the emergency craniotomy. It was needed to stop the bleeding in his brain and it was performed in a community hospital because taking him to the nearest big university hospital would have killed him. He now has a plate in his head. My dad had a plate in his head almost a hundred years ago. That’s well-established technology. He’s home now and recovering slowly.

I haven’t really got an ending for this, but I’m glad as I can be that this wasn’t the end of him.

Things I Know

Since the final four is nigh, perhaps this is the best time to remind readers you can’t go swimming in a basketball pool.

If you eat too much comfort food, it’ll make you uncomfortable.

I was really disappointed when I found out eating Thin Mints won’t make you thin. I ate them all anyway.

The phone rang. I answered it. The recording said, “Hello, this is a courtesy call from CVS Pharmacy. To continue, press any key.” I pressed the disconnect button and it didn’t continue, so that wasn’t true.

We keep our money in a big bank. Let’s call it “Bank of a Huge and Powerful Country” shall we? That’s BHPC for short. In reading Internet articles, I sometimes see stories of bad customer service involving them, but I’m usually quite satisfied, especially with my local branch. However, the credit card division is a little wonky. My pet peeve is that I can go to the grocery or the Home Depot twice in one day and charge both trips on my credit card, but I can’t buy gas for both of my cars on one day at the station nearest my house. I have to use different credit card accounts for that.

Anyway, I’m going out of the country soon, so I called BHPC and asked if they had cards that work out of the country and don’t charge a foreign exchange fee. They do. They said they’d send me one and told me when. I said I’d buy the tickets from here to out of the country before that with my other card. Then I did that and BHPC turned down the charge. Ticket broker sent me an email instructing me to call them and straighten it out. The email didn’t include that company’s hours of operation, so naturally I called three minutes after they closed.

Spring is here and glaciers have receded from around my Long Island home. When they did, I found two home-delivered newspapers, one from February 3rd and one from the 13th. The snow blower found another one, so I have no idea what the date was on that one.

I am in favor of instant gratification in certain circumstances. I’m even willing to pay a reasonable premium for it. The “right-now fee” for USB cables is too high though. I went to several stores on Friday and Saturday. They all asked for about $20 for one USB cable. You can buy one for two dollars or less from monoprice.com. I decided I could wait.

On “Face the Nation” recently, US Secretary of State John Kerry used a great word I’d never heard before, kleptocracy. I knew what it meant the moment I heard it (which is what makes it a great word); government of thieves. He used it to refer to the recently ousted government of Ukraine. And it’s not new word either. The dictionary I consulted said it was first used in 1819.

On an episode of “Ask This Old House” I saw a month or two ago, Tom Silva showed a homeowner how to get an over-sized box spring upstairs. He cut the bottom frame of the spring in half and folded it. I prefer the method I used in my first apartment on the second floor of an old house. We took out a second floor window and brought it in over the porch roof.

I am suggesting a new medicine. Since everyone now talks about flu-like symptoms instead of the flu, we should have flu-like shots instead of (or in addition to)flu shots. I had it all last week and now I feel like I should get a refund for my flu shot. I still have a cough so bad that I pulled a couple of muscles coughing. The rest of my symptoms have gone, but I still have to cough, only now it hurts, a lot. If you’re going to pull a muscle coughing, pull a back muscle. You can lean against a wall when you cough and that helps some. Quite naturally, I pulled a front muscle and I haven’t discovered anything to ease the pain of that.

Things I Want (Or Need) To Know

Did you watch the opening pitch of the Major League baseball season from Australia? It came a little after 4:00 AM where I live. Because the game was in Australia and because I know about the coriolis effect, wanted to see if curveballs break the other way south of the Equator.

You know what nunchucks are, right? I do too, but whenever you hear the name, don’t you get a picture of a chain holding two rulers together?

I was really, really sick for pretty much all of the past week. So were my wife and daughter. Maybe I brought it home from my recent road trip to Ithaca, NY. Now, I find myself wondering, can we all get a refund for our flu shot?

Does Jimmy Fallon’s audience always shriek “Wooooooo” instead of cheering or applauding? I hope not because it hurts my ears.

If the man of the house doesn’t watch much television, does he still get to control the remote?

What happened to the proposed NFL rule change to prohibit football players from using the “N” word on the field? And isn’t the NFL the league that’s brewed controversy because one of its owners refuses to consider changing the team name many people also regard as offensive?

The $400 Million Plan

I have maintained for years, some of them right here, that nobody should make serious plans for winning a big lottery, the reason being that your chances of winning aren’t serious unless and until you win. Instead, I advocate making silly plans for winning the lottery.

Powerball tonight is $400 million, so we need a new silly plan. We have one and not a moment too soon! It’s from my daughter who says if she wins she’ll use at least part of the money to establish a charity to assist destitute Nigerian princes. This is the same young lady who says if she wins she may send out for a pizza.

It’s really nice when you see yourself reflected in your children. Me, I’m still fixated on jumping on the bed. However, if she wins or if I do, you may never read it here. If I had $400 million, the one thing in the world I would not try to acquire is notoriety.

Things I Know

Two of the nation’s largest cable providers are merging when Comcast acquires Time Warner. A company spokesman will come to your house to explain the deal a week from Tuesday, sometime between 9 AM and 7 PM.

US Olympic skier Gus Kenworthy found five stray puppies at the Sochi Winter Olympics. He’s trying to arranging to take them home to Colorado with him. You may have heard that Olympic organizers were euthanizing Sochi’s stray dogs. Instead, they should have just given one to each Olympic athlete.

Let’s say you get a phone call and there’s nobody on the end of the line, but if you wait 10 or 15 seconds, someone picks up. A computer is calling your phone number because it anticipates that the person who’s making all these annoying telemarketing calls is about to finish with his or her previous victim. It improves there efficiency and allows them to annoy more people per hour. If a telemarketer calls me before they’re ready to talk to me, I hang up, This is actually more efficient, because if they call me when they’re ready to talk to me, I have to wait for them to talk before I hang up.

Not only does the groundhog always see his shadow because of TV lights, but it’s cold around here for more than six weeks after groundhog day. It’s cold in Pennsylvania where the official groundhog is located longer than that too.

I believe gossamer toilet paper in public rest rooms is a bad thing. Ultra narrow toilet paper is something else we should all band together to battle to the death.

An important new medical study has proven that eating a lot eggs does not increase your risk of heart disease. But, all the bacon you eat with those eggs will do you in.

Sometimes luck trumps stupidity more than once in the same driving situation. Last summer, I was headed south on a two-lane road. An idiot kid on a bicycle was headed north in the middle of the southbound land. I slowed to a crawl. At the last minute, he turned to his left and rode by my passenger-side door, while flashing me a gang sign. He sure showed me, didn’t he? At the same time, the guy in the Chevy Suburban following me sped past me on the right shoulder. I wasn’t signaling a left turn: there wasn’t any place to turn left. Both the kid and the driver were lucky they didn’t create a kid and bike sandwich on two trucks with no mayo. If somebody slows down in front of you for no apparent reason, perhaps there is a reason and you just can’t see it.

Snow plows are typically wider than the trucks they’re installed on. I was reminded of this last week when I was almost hit head on by a snow plow. The truck was in its lane, but the plow was considerably over the double yellow line.

“Procrastinate now, don’t put it off.” Ellen DeGeneres said that in a recently rebroadcast TV special and it’s still good advice.

Things I Want (or Need) to Know

The Super Bowl is over and pitchers and catchers report this week, so can we start talking about baseball now? And, no, I don’t want to talk about college basketball in the meantime.

What do you call Tater Tots once they grow up?

If my neighbor’s dog wanders near my property line, is it okay if I bark at the dog?

We’re going to Europe this Spring. So, this raises two questions. How much additional camera gear can I buy using the trip as my excuse before my wife has a fit? And how much of this new camera gear can I get her to carry? After all, I’m about maxed out myself. I could easily spend another $3,000 to $6,000 on more camera stuff and spending more than the cost of the trip wouldn’t be out of the realm of possibility.

Could a Tyrannosaurus Rex pick its nose?

If not, did they pick each other’s noses?

If it’s possible to be prone to infection, is it also possible to be upright to infection?

Things I Know

We’ll have six more weeks of winter. The groundhog always sees his shadow because of TV lights.

I hope you know that the people who phone you claiming to be from Microsoft Support are really scam artists. You have my permission to hang up on them. Anyway, Gary from the so-called Microsoft Support called last week. I told him I was glad he called because it gave me the chance to ask if he had accepted the Lord, Jesus Christ as his personal God and Savior. He asked me what I was talking about. If he doesn’t know, I sure don’t, so I hung up on him.

Since I’m not a football fan, I’ll be so glad when the Super Bowl is over.

Justin Bieber should be embarrassed for his recent run in with the law in Miami. First off, you should never drink and drive. You might spill it. Second, street racing is very dangerous and you shouldn’t ever do that either. But if I ever get picked up for speeding in a Lamborghini, you can bet I’ll be driving a hell of a lot faster than the 60 mph the Bieb was accused of driving in Miami.

If you buy a Dell computer from any other company but Dell, the first thing you should do is register it on line and check when the warranty expires. I recently bought two Dell computers. The first one broke in three weeks. That happens, but it was both new and out of warranty. I sent it back to Amazon.com and they were great about it, so great that I bought another Dell from an Amazon seller and the warranty on that one started three weeks before I bought it. Dell customer support adjusted it for me, but Dell ought to find a way that it doesn’t need adjusting. Either that, or it should stop selling computers through third parties.

I’ve got to say this computer came with less bloatware than I’m used to seeing on new PC’s.

However, attention Dell: I know I plugged in the headphones. Stop warning me about it.

Also, attention Microsoft: I stopped some programs in the start menu from launching when they want to; Windows didn’t. So, warning me about that way too many times is annoying, not helpful. And that’s an annoyance Microsoft has gone back and added to versions of Windows earlier than 8.1 I’m not sure how many earlier versions, but as far back as Vista anyway. At least give me a check box that says don’t show this to me again.

I’m getting used to Windows 8.1. It boots a lot faster than Vista did, that’s for sure. I know there’s a screen with all the apps on it, but I’d still like the restored start menu to contain a list of installed programs. I know I can get rid of the lock screen too and I plan to look up how to do that soon. This is not a telephone, it’s a laptop.

Microsoft will let you remove software like Office from one computer and install it on another, but the third computer, they don’t like so much. Understandable. So, when my first new computer lasted less than a month, I had to call them to install Office on my replacement. They let me. They let me with so little hassle that they didn’t even ask me why. So, if they’re not going to ask you why, I don’t think they should make you call at all.

A company called Cyberlink has a media suite that wound up on my new laptop. It might be good. I don’t know. But it bothers me to buy it frequently during my free trial period. It was doing that every time I booted my laptop. So, I went into my startup menu and found five Cyberlink programs set to start every time the computer does. I disabled them all. If it still finds a way to annoy me every time I start the computer, I’ll uninstall them all. Aggressive sales tactics like that can be self-defeating. They certainly are if you try them on me.

Catching Up

Amazon.com refunded my money for the computer that didn’t have a warranty as it said it would. On the day I received the credit, I bought another computer from Amazon. I couldn’t get exactly the same model, but I bought one similar. I hope this one has a warranty. One thing you can say about them is their reputation for stellar customer service seems to be deserved.

If you haven’t received a Christmas card from me yet, you probably aren’t going to get one.

Take down your Christmas lights. You were supposed to turn them off on Tuesday.

In addition to the Sisyphus Project being copyrighted 2008-2013, it’s also copyright 2014.

Shopping for Tech

Before I get down to the reason for this post, I’d like to observe that this is the 500th post to the Sisyphus Project since we began in 2008.

We now return to our irregularly scheduled program.

I don’t think I’ll mention the computer company because it was much easier to contact the merchant than to try to get around the computer company’s website.

I bought a new laptop computer from Amazon.com. It came on December 3rd and I liked it until December 23rd when it started randomly crashing. The crashing got worse until Thursday, December 26th when it crashed and wouldn’t restart unless I “refreshed” Windows. Doing that took hours and wiped out all of the programs I installed after I got the machine.

After refreshing, it crashed again and wanted me to refresh again. So, I went to the computer company website and entered the number on the bottom of the computer to get warranty service. However the website told me that the new computer I’ve had for 23 days is out of warranty. Boo for the computer company.

But, hooray for Amazon.com. Kudos too, if I ever figure out what a kudo is. I contacted Amazon and they issued me an RMA. The new laptop goes back as soon as I figure out a way to delete the confidential information I had put on it in the past three weeks.

Things I Konw

Speaking of Clarence and Dudley as I was yesterday, the same child actress played the little girl in “the Bishop’s Wife” and Zuzu of petals fame in “It’s a Wonderful Life.”

The weatherman got our hopes up needlessly last night. It snowed for a little while, but just flurries. Nothing stuck. If you live on Long Island and want a White Christmas, my advice is, listen to the song. Drifters or Bing Crosby, doesn’t matter to me.

Dear Santa, when I said I’d like a couple of CD’s for Christmas, I meant the kind with money in them, not the kind with music on them.

CBS News’ Charles Osgood has a beautiful voice and an engaging on-air personality. He either is one himself or employs top-flight writers on both radio and TV as well. And occasionally he proves on CBS Sunday Morning that he can also play the piano. But with all that talent, he demonstrated once again on the Sunday before Christmas with his rendition of “The Christmas Song” that one thing he can’t do is sing.

Plus, “The Christmas Song” is the wrong thing for anyone to sing. Nat King Cole recorded it four times, so as far as I’m concerned, “The Christmas Song” by Nat King Cole is the fourth best Christmas record ever. And third, and second and first too.

Not being able to sing is the only thing I’m confident Mr. Osgood and I have in common.

While I wasn’t sure if yesterday was Seasons Eve or Holidays Eve, I am sure today is Christmas Day. So, if you’re British and you celebrate Christmas, have a happy one. If you’re not British and you celebrate Christmas, have a Merry one. If you don’t celebrate Christmas at all, or if you do, I also hope you have a happy and healthy New Year.

Things I Want (Or Need) To Know

Is today Holidays Eve or Seasons Eve? Which ever it is, I hope you have a happy one.

While watching traditional Christmas movies I find myself wondering, do all angels have odd names like Clarence and Dudley?

I don’t really consider “Bells of St. Mary’s” to be a Christmas movie although it is traditionally shown at this time of year. If you recall, Sister Benedict is found to have TB and they decide to send her to the desert. That’s what they did before antibiotics were widely available. But still, didn’t they know that TB was contagious and transmission was airborne by the time the movie was made? I ask because Sister Benedict continues to interact with the kids for a while before she leaves the school.

I almost feel bad for the people who call me telling me they’re from the Windows support center. How awful must your life be if you work in a call center in India, presumably for the Indian minimum wage if they have one, and all day long you call people and try to get them to bite on what you know is a fraud? I keep telling them I know it’s a fraud and they keep calling back.

I also ask them if they know how many hits you get on Google if you use it to look up the following three words, “Windows, telephone and scam.” Last time I looked them up it was about 58 million.

McDonald’s is switching to another brand because the new head of the Heinz ketchup company is a former top executive of Burger King. I didn’t know there are other brands of ketchup besides Heinz, did you?

Isn’t sleeping in the top bunk bed dangerous? I mean, doesn’t it leave way too much room for monsters under your bed?

GPS units are amazing, but one thing I don’t understand: Why does mine want to send me home a different way than it took me to my destination?

Since young and tongue rhyme, why aren’t they spelled similarly?

Since slaughter and laughter don’t rhyme, why are they spelled similarly?

The word “wound” has two meanings, so do lots of other words, but why is this one pronounced differently depending on what it means?

Things I Know

Our new daughter-in-law and our old son sent us a lovely Christmas centerpiece. We’ll have it on the table at Christmas dinner.

A Wal-Mart worker in Deerfield Beach Florida shot up the car of a second Wal-Mart worker when the second worker was chosen employee of the month. Either that explains why he wasn’t selected in the first place, or ensures he won’t be selected next month either: maybe both.

My wife has decided to establish a telephone call center here in America and have it specialize in making annoying telemarketing calls to people in India.

This led me to plan a directory of the names and addresses of local Jehovah’s Witnesses so the rest of us can go to their homes and knock on their doors at inconvenient times.

Here’s why non-Yankee fans don’t like Yankee fans. The Yankees offered Robinson Cano somewhere between $160 and $175 million depending on which source you read. The Seattle Mariners offered Cano $240 million. And some idiot Yankee fans calling sports talk radio stations criticizing Cano for not signing with the Yanks. How can he go wrong? He gets all that extra money and an extra month off since the Mariners don’t usually work in October.

An atheist doesn’t believe in God. A big box retail store doesn’t believe in closing, at least not during the Christmas season.

Since Hanukkah and Thanksgiving took place at the same time this year, a wag suggested that we should all eat latkes instead of turkey. Not possible. There’s no such thing at a leftover latke. Not even at my house and I’m not Jewish.

According to the Fort Myers News Press, the human cannonball with the Cole Brothers circus retired after his final performance on December 1st. In other words, he was fired and then he quit.

Things I Know

We have one more thing to be thankful for this Thanksgiving. Our son got married recently. We hope our son and our daughter-in-law remain thankful for each other for the rest of their lives together.

Thanksgiving and Hanukkah coincide this year. It won’t happen again in my lifetime and according to most sources I’ve seen, it won’t happen again in the lifetime of anyone on the planet. I’m glad that Thanksgiving and Yom Kippur never coincide. Imagine having to gorge yourself and fast at the same time.

No news is good news, unless you have to report the news on a holiday.

Andersen windows are a plus if you’re buying or selling a house. I have them in my house. Renewal by Andersen is the replacement company that specializes in installing them. I think the installation company is related to the manufacturer, but I’m not sure about that. They have a commercial running that says, and I’m paraphrasing here, that no matter where you live the temperature is unlikely to reach -20 degrees. Then it says the windows are tested from 180 to -20 degrees. But honestly, there are plenty of places in this country where the temperature does hit -20 degrees. I’ve been colder than that in upstate New York and in Chicago and believe me I’m never going to do it again. The record low temperature was recorded in Antarctica and it was -128.5 degrees! There is, however, no place where the outdoor temperature hits 180 degrees. Not even close. The recognized world record highest temperature is 134. There was a higher reading taken in 1922 in Libya, but it was later determined that the reading was inaccurate. So, while I’m convinced that Andersen windows are quality products, that commercial doesn’t convince me of anything.

The Google doodle for Thanksgiving is proof positive that there’s a lot more bandwidth than there used to be. It’s both animated and accompanied by a soundtrack. I didn’t time it, but it must be a minute or more long.

Big brother may not be watching me, but Google certainly is. On my birthday, the Google doodle on my computer (and I presume only on mine, not yours) was a birthday greeting to me.

Laptops are harder to repair or upgrade than desktop computers. On my laptop, the hard drive is nearly full, the CPU is frequently computing at or near its limit, there’s one balky key on the keyboard and the left mouse button went out yesterday. So, now I have to decide whether I get a new laptop on Black Friday or on Cyber Monday. I also have to decide what kind and that’s hard because various trade surveys disagree about which are the most reliable makes. And, I hope I still have my disks for MS Office.

Things I Know

There are two big historical events to remember next week, the 150th anniversary of Lincoln’s Gettysburg Address and the 50th Anniversary of President Kennedy’s assassination. I was going to call it “The Kennedy Assassination, but his brother Bobby was also killed by an assassin so there were two Kennedy assassinations.

If you get a call from a guy with an Indian accent who uses an Americanized name like Jack or Roger and he tells you he’s from Microsoft Windows Service Center, or some other official sounding group, it’s a scam. Don’t fall for it. I just put the words “windows phone scam” into Google and came up with 58.7 million hits. I told the latest one that if he knows what is happening with my computer he must be with the NSA and that I’m running Linux so leave me alone. Maybe that will stop the calls. Nothing else has.

If you head west across the George Washington Bridge and intend to pick up NJ Route 4 West, your Garmin Nuvi will tell you that exit 72A is on the left, even after it’s on the right. So watch out, or you’ll wind up in Oakland, California when all you want to do is go to Paramus, New Jersey.

Also, someone ought to tell the lady inside that little GPS on my dash that the “W” in New York State Route 9W doesn’t mean the road heads west. It means the road is on the west side of the Hudson River. So, its name is Route 9W, not Route 9 West.

If I were in charge of the world, the New York State Thruway and the Northway would be I-95 because they head north and south. The road that heads east and west through Connecticut would have another name, maybe I-80, since it doesn’t go north and south. It’s confusing because east-west interstate highways are supposed to end in zero, like I-40, I-80 and I-90. So, the phrase, “head west on I-95” if used for any extended period of time, ought to be an oxymoron, except there’s Connecticut and part of Rhode Island too.

Things I Know

My family drinks a lot of soda. We usually buy two-liter bottles of brand name soda (Saint Karen favors Coke and I like Pepsi, so we buy both) and we only buy it on sale. How much is a lot? We’re not going to drink all of it soon, but we currently have something like 21 gallons in the house.

In New York State, it’s a little known fact that it’s illegal to park within 15 feet of an intersection. I know this fact is little known because it may be the single most violated law in New York. One of the largest groups of offenders is school crossing guards where I live. Many of them park so close to the intersection that you can’t see around them to be sure it’s safe to go proceed.

When it comes to insomnia, I much prefer difficulty falling asleep to difficulty sleeping through the night.

The strangest license plate I’ve seen in quite a while was a white Cadillac CTS 4-door station wagon with the NY license plate “COUPE.”

Since I bought a GPS, I find myself driving around, not following its directions, to see if I can get it to lose its temper and start screaming at me. And speaking of a GPS, don’t store an address in yours under the name “Home.” If you do and someone steals it, they’ll think you probably have other valuable electronic devices and they’ll know where you live too.

Groupon stopped sending me email offering me discounted stuff. I don’t mind because they never sent me anything I wanted to use, but I didn’t even notice when they stopped. This leads me to believe that email isn’t a really good marketing tool, except for the fact that it’s virtually free.

Speaking of email marketing, I believe CVS drug stores should be allowed to give people six-foot-long register receipts or tons of emails, but not both. I also find courtesy robocalls from CVS to be annoying rather than courteous.

Things I Know

If you plan on going trick or treating this Thursday and taking your dog with you, please do me two favors. Don’t feed your dog chocolate. Believe it or not, chocolate is poisonous to dogs. If they get enough, it can make them very sick or even kill them. And also, please don’t dress your dog up in a costume. I can’t imagine they like that.

I used to live about 30 miles from where I live now and when I moved, I didn’t change dentists. If I drive from here to the dentist, I pass a lot of things named after dead people. On that particular route, I knew (or at least met) all the dead people stuff is named after. I view this as encouraging because I’m still here even though they’re not.

Attention Amazon.com: If I buy a bottle of oil specially designed to lubricate paper shredders, the most likely reason for that purchase is that I have a paper shredder, not that I think I might buy a shredder. Therefore, it isn’t really necessary for you to recommend about 50 different shredders to me. Please stop it.

I seem to be harping on Amazon searches and recommendations. I think I’ll restrain myself on those topics at least for a while.

Jet Blue has a new TV commercial. At least it’s new to me. It touts the fact that they give you a full can of soda, instead of pouring a half can into a plastic cup as so many other airlines do. Okay, but I’ve never been denied a full can on another airline if I ask for it. The last time I flew from San Francisco to New York I flew Delta and got two cans of soda. I don’t think any airline lets you keep the cans and turn them in for a deposit though.

I am so old I remember when headlight lenses were made of glass and you didn’t have to polish them from time to time so they’d be clean and/or transparent enough to let the light shine through. In fact, I’m so old I remember when replacing a headlight cost less than my local car wash charges to polish one for you.

I used to think and I’ve said on this blog previously that the monorail that takes you around San Francisco International Airport is free to users. It’s not. Last time I was there, I rented a car. Various taxes and fees on the car added an astounding 46% to my bill. Twenty dollars of that went to pay for the monorail.

While I was on vacation, I splurged and bought a GPS. I certainly don’t need one where I live because I know the area as well as anyone, but on the West Coast, it was a Godsend. When I fly into SFO if I head north, I’ll come to the Golden Gate Bridge eventually. With the GPS, I arrived at the Golden Gate directly. Big difference! It’s not perfect, but it is surprisingly accurate. One thing I noticed though is there must be some margin of error for the altitude readings. Government flood maps say my house is 15 feet above sea level. The GPS says 28. Out west they occasionally have an altitude sign along the highway. The GPS didn’t agree with any of them, but was never off by more than one or two-hundred feet. And, of course the biggest advantage of a GPS over a map is you never have to re-fold the GPS.

Things I Know

We vacationed recently in California. We flew into San Francisco, rented a car and headed for South Lake Tahoe and the surrounding area. Yes, we hit Donner Pass and yes we crossed the border and visited Carson City NV.

In the area we traveled through, a majority of the people observe the speed limit pretty closely. This is unsettling to someone who’s used to driving in New York and New Jersey.

If I lived in a tourist area of California I wouldn’t trust the pedestrian in crosswalk laws as much as they do, because I’d assume there are too many out of state drivers for that.

Pretzels are more available in South Lake Tahoe than they are in Sacramento.

I couldn’t find rye Triscuits, Social Tea cookies or Good and Plenty candy in South Lake Tahoe. They have other kinds of Triscuits and the other things may be there, but I couldn’t find them.

Raley’s supermarket had some gorgeous looking fresh peaches, so I took a chance and tried them. But, it was late September, so they were mealy.

Every supermarket I’ve ever shopped at in California is nicer than any supermarket I’ve ever shopped at where I live.

The view of Emerald Bay from the overlook on Rte 89 is about as pretty as anything I’ve ever seen.

I told my daughter I had an idea to open a fast-food, Mexican restaurant in the area and call it Tahoe Bell. Someone thought of that joke before I did. A little way out of the town, headed toward Placerville, there is a place called the Tahoe Bell Grill.

Considering my destination, I thought it would be funny if the rental car company gave me a Chevy Tahoe, but they gave me a Ford Explorer. I liked it except for the MyFord Touch which is too complicated to use while driving if you’re not familiar with the car.

I’m not the only person who does this because at Taylor Creek Recreation Area near Lake Tahoe, I saw a woman wearing a t-shirt that said, “I put ketchup on my ketchup.” But it did make me realize that, in addition to putting ketchup on my ketchup, I also put ketchup on my t-shirts.

Back on the East Coast, it would cost me $169 plus tax to have Verizon visit my home to repair a telephone wiring problem inside my house. This was a powerful incentive for me to learn three things: Home Depot has the best price in my area for surface-mounted modular phone jacks; my house is old enough that the red and green wires are still line #1; and yes, I do remember how to do that myself after all.

On CBS Sunday Morning, they recently did a piece about the comic Billy Crystal. In it he said that if there is a heaven, when he dies, he and his wife will be the age when they first met, she will walk by in a bikini and they can start all over again. I like that. But I don’t know Billy Crystal’s wife, so I’ll be very happy to settle for mine.

Having someone come in to refinish the hardwood floors in your house is more work than moving. Why do I say that? In each case, you have to all the furniture out of the area. But when you move from one home to another, you have a moving van to put the furniture in. And when you’re done moving from one place to another, you don’t have to vacuum everything in the house, including the ceilings and the windows. But the floors do look nice.

Things I Want (Or Need) To Know

It’s been far too long since I posed a bunch of questions that need asking here, so:

Is there such a thing as a closet claustrophobic?

I went for a physical and wound up wondering how I can tell whether the doctor is caring for my health or just running up the bill. They rolled in an EKG machine. Okay, but I had that done in June and asked the other doctor to report the results to this one. They wanted blood. Okay, but I had that done last month, so I brought in the lab results. They read the three pages and wanted more tests. They also urged me to get a whole lot of other tests. I do have diabetes, but I see a specialist for that, so I tend to think some of the tests this doctor wants are really overkill, but I have no way of knowing.

The BBC announced during the summer that actor Peter Capaldi is the twelfth Doctor in the long-running series “Doctor Who.” But there have been 17 other actors who played the Doctor on television, three of the additional five served mostly as fill-ins for the prime doctors, but two of them (John Hurt and Toby Jones) appear to be future doctors. One, Peter Cushing, is famous for appearing in horror movies, played the Doctor in a couple of bad 1960’s movies. How come none of them count?

Don’t you just hate it when you call to make an appointment, get a recording, the recording tells you to call back during regular office hours and it is regular office hours?

“In” is a prefix that reverses the meaning of the word it precedes, right? So, famy must be a word, mustn’t it? I’ve heard of infamy, but I’ve never heard of the word famy. Have you?

Since an abductor is a muscle in your leg, why is kidnapping someone called an abduction?

Now that the guy who founded Amazon.com bought the Washington Post, how soon before the newspaper will be delivered via UPS and frequently in too large a box? Also, will same-day delivery cost extra?

In my continuing quest to improve the English language, shouldn’t the word “Swedish” have two e’s in it?

Reach Out and Touch

Rent-a-car

Are new cars too complicated to give to car rental customers? The question lept to my mind when I rented a car in San Francisco last week. Travelocity had a really good deal going on the Ford Edge, so I rented one for our trip through Travelocity, but from Avis. Of course, when I got to SFO, Avis didn’t have any Ford Edge’s, but Nancy at the rental counter came through for Avis with flying colors. She gave me a Ford Explorer. Not having the car you thought you reserved is an industry-wide problem, not one unique to Avis. The Explorer was, as you can see from the picture I snapped, black. It had a grey leather interior. It didn’t have every option Ford offers, but it had plenty. It had a proximity key. That’s a thing that looks like the power door lock key fob on your old car. The difference is when you get into the car with the proximity key in your pocket or purse, you just step on the brake and push the start button. I didn’t know that. I needed a guy from Avis to show me how to start the car.

It had MyFord Touch. That’s Ford’s touch-screen operating system. It’s complicated. When we started out, I couldn’t figure out how to turn on the radio. After driving from San Francisco to Sacramento with a side trip to Sausalito, I stopped to work it out. Don’t you dare work it out while you’re driving. That’s got to be even more dangerous than texting behind the wheel. I’ve read that the system crashes more than it should. It only crashed once for me. But it’s so distracting that you might crash if you’re not careful. Time was when you turned the radio on and adjusted the volume with a knob. You could change stations with a knob too, or push a button to scan for stations. Those functions are now on a touch screen and they’re not on the top level menu either. Same thing with the heat and A/C. All the controls are on the touch screen device and none of the settings I wanted are on the top level.

A lesser version of the entertainment system has a mini stereo plug so you can plug any kind of MP3 player into the radio and use the car’s speakers. The upgraded system this car had comes with USB inputs, RCA inputs (including video) and an SD card reader. But if you get that, you lose the mini stereo plug. The inputs are in a cubby hole at the junction of the dash and the console and the cubby has a door on it. The inputs are sufficiently inaccessible that you really shouldn’t try to use them while driving either. I didn’t ask Ford, but they may think that’s a safety feature. It’s not. Most people who rent cars are unfamiliar with the controls of the cars they rent and people will try to use those inputs while driving. It’s human nature. Plus, when you do stop to figure them out, that cubby isn’t illuminated, so a flashlight will come in handy. I have a little one in my camera bag. You can ask to borrow it if you want. I won’t lend you mine, but you can ask. You can’t even slip that SD card into the slot by feel, or get it out either, at least not easily.

While we stayed in Sacramento, I managed to get the radio presets to display four stations I like there. When in the Lake Tahoe area, I relied on an SD card for music. On the way back to San Francisco in the pre-dawn hours to catch an early flight, I wanted to listen to KCBS for traffic reports. I had, by that time, learned how to tune the radio directly to a station I hadn’t pre-set, but doing it while driving felt dangerous to me, so I had my wife do it. I lost count of how many times you had to touch the screen to get to that station. It was at least five and maybe as many as eight. For me to do it would have required stopping or having an accident.

I think the self-cancelling turn signals were computer-controlled too. Although they worked by the traditional lever rather than by the touch screen, in nine days I never did get the feel for the difference between signaling a turn and signaling a lane change. I was also unable to get the windshield washer to work. I’m not sure if that was because I couldn’t figure it out or because the car was out of fluid.

I believe Ford has had this system for three years now. I’m sure they’re working on making it more driver-friendly. It’s pretty logical. I was able to figure out most of what I needed to know without consulting the Explorer’s 586 page owner’s manual. But there are many functions I’d like to perform while driving that struck me as dangerous to do at 65 mph when you had to look and not work by feel.

I shudder to think how much more complicated the car would be if it had built in GPS. I brought my own and Ford isn’t the only company with computer problems. When I mounted my GPS, plugged it in and turned it on at SFO, the GPS thought it was still in the New York metropolitan area. Therefore, its directions to the Golden Gate Bridge were shall we say unnecessarily complicated.

I’ve just spent six paragraphs complaining about an electronic systems in a car so complicated that the car has a 586 page owner’s manual. And I really liked the car. It was quiet, roomy and comfortable. I loved the back-up camera. It has a warning system to tell you when you get too close to whatever you’re backing toward. Even though it’s pretty damned big, it carved the corners quite well in the winding road between Placerville and S Lake Tahoe. It wasn’t over-powered. Even though it was big, it averaged 21.6 mpg over roughly a thousand miles of driving. I left it at SFO thinking Avis had done me a favor giving me what must be a nicer car than the one I reserved. The difficulty I had with it was Ford’s fault, not Avis’. If I owned one, I’d probably love it in a week or two once I had the MyFord Touch set up to my liking, but trying to pick one up at an airport after lunch, hop in it and do 200 miles in it before dinner, that I didnt like so much.

I wasn’t about to sit in a garage and read a 586 page book before I started the car. In fact, I was on vacation, so I wasn’t about to read any 586 page book once I got off the coast-to-coast flight. While you could download the book to read on the plane, that isn’t really practical, because while you know what kind of car you hope you’ll get at the rental counter, I have never gotten what I asked for when I made a reservation.

Maybe what we need is a car designed only for the rental market. It could and should be simpler than what’s available to people who buy cars or lease them for an extended period of time. If you have followed my blog for any period of time, you know I want to call it an “Or Similar.”

Think Silly

I’ve mentioned before that people who make serious plans for winning huge lotteries annoy me. Why? I mean, after all, I buy lottery tickets myself. But I realize how bad the odds are and I understand that buying a ticket doesn’t make any significant difference in your odds of winning. I mean 0 in 175.2 million and 1 in 175.2 million are very close to the same thing. Unless, of course, you do win.

I use the opportunity to win (minuscule as it is) as a way to amuse myself. Mostly I tease my wife, Saint Karen, (who has to be a saint to put up with me) about how cheap I’d be if we won. At one time we lived in an apartment and our upstairs neighbors were noisy. My plan if I won at that time was to send the neighbors on vacation so we could have a little peace and quiet.

But with Powerball at something like $400 million tonight, and Mega Millions roughly $145 million since nobody won last night, I have just come up with a new way to be silly about plans to win. Yes, I will still jump on the bed because that would be fun and I could afford to replace the bed which would clearly break if I jumped on it. However, here’s the new part: If I win Powerball tonight, I will take a small part of the money and put it in a trust fund to guarantee the payments in perpetuity. Then, I will make the necessary arrangements so that when I pass away, I can be buried in a rented tuxedo. That’s it, dear reader. Now, it’s your turn to come up with a silly plan. If you do, I’d welcome your comments.

Buy a ticket or not, as you please. But if you do buy a ticket, make a silly plan. Buying a ticket is really entertainment, not investment. Now, if either you win or I do, then and only then it’s okay to come up with a serious plan to make sure you don’t run out of money and even to make sure that some of the money does good in the world. Just don’t make those serious plans until you win. And, if you win and still want to jump on the bed, take it outside first. I wouldn’t want a newly minted multimillionaire to hurt or kill himself by hitting his head on the ceiling.

Things I Know

We just booked a flight and a condo rental in California because our son is getting married to his fiancé (who else would he marry anyway?). The wedding is at the end of the month. Among the reasons I rented this condo is the on-line listing told me it has a king-sized bed and three televisions.

The first time I flew in a plane that offered extra legroom for a fee, it was Jet Blue and it cost $15 per seat. I’m tall while my wife and daughter aren’t. Still, for $45 for the three of us more comfort to me on a cross-country flight was worth it. This time, while searching for a flight, I checked both Delta and Jet Blue. The going rate seems to be around $90 per seat now. $270 for three of us so I can have extra legroom is more than I’m willing to pay.

I haven’t had enough summer yet! But while I may be in a distinct minority among American men, I have had more than enough football.

It’s already September, so eat fresh peaches while you still can.

I don’t know how long this has been true, but you can buy Ikea Swedish meatballs frozen in a pouch. Yet, the lingonberries and the cream sauce come separately and you have to put them together yourself.

From where and how much it hurt, I thought I had partially torn a tendon in my knee on Friday during the strenuous activity of stepping out of my truck. However, it’s getting better and tendons don’t do that, so I guess I just pulled a muscle.

The plural of man is men. Right? Anyone who has ever served in the U.S. Army, and I suspect in any other branch of the US Armed Forces as well, knows that the plural of “men” is “mens.”

I don’t like to bring up phlegm, but that’s another English word whose spelling needs to be revisited.

The Rigors of Travel

We don’t travel a lot as a family, but when we do, I like to stay in a suite hotel or in a rented vacation home or condo. The Internet has made vacation rentals a lot easier with sites like Homeaway and VRBO. But these sites don’t allow me to filter the results the way I want to.

If you rent a room in a hotel, the first thing they tell you is what size and how many beds you have. Two queen-sized or one -king sized bed are a couple of examples of what’s available. For a condo or vacation home rental, if the size of the bed is there at all, it’s buried. But most of the condos and homes I’ve seen have one queen-sized bed in the master bedroom. The place we rented in Florida last year didn’t have a king, but it did have two queens which is almost as good.

Every hotel I’ve ever stayed in has heavy drapes or window coverings that allow you to keep the room dark enough to sleep in. I’ve seen lots of rentals that have blinds or shades, but no drapes at all. I guess it’s one less thing to dust, but I’d like to stay asleep for a while when I’m on vacation. We even rented a cabin in Tennessee once where the bedroom was a loft and there was a huge wall of windows bringing in the morning sunlight, right in your eyes.

Most hotels these days have flat-screen televisions too, but not all of the rentals do and a lot don’t make it clear. Or if they are equipped with flat-screen television, they haven’t updated the pictures to reflect that.

If you want to rent me a condo or home for my vacation, I’d like a website that offers more filters. I want to know what size the beds are. If there’s more than one bathroom, is one en suite? How many TV’s are there, what type, what size and where. I want flat screens with one in the living area and one in each bedroom please. I also need to filter the search results based on whether there’s Wi-Fi and whether there’s access to a hot tub or pool. And can I please filter for things I don’t want as well?

No smoking is a must for me. Stale tobacco smoke is the only thing I can always smell. If I’m swimming laps in a public pool, I can even tell if the person I’m swimming behind is a smoker. Is your rental pet friendly? It’s not that I’m not, but I don’t know what the dog or cat did, where it did it, or how well it was cleaned up. I’m not quite as reliable at smelling cat pee as I am at smelling stale smoke, but it’s pretty close. So, please don’t let me bring the dog or cat I don’t have.

And, since I frequently am unfamiliar with the places I visit, I’d like to know roughly where the unit is located. I can get a hotel’s address pretty easily, so knowing where the rental unit is before I book counts a lot too.

Why has this all come up at this particular time? Saint Karen (who has to be a saint to put up with me) and I will be traveling to Lake Tahoe pretty soon. I don’t think it matters much whether we’re in Nevada or California. The lake isn’t that big, so we can go from one state to the other rather quickly. I’ve checked maps and flight schedules so I can tell you that Lake Tahoe isn’t particularly easy to get to from where we live. But, it will be worth the effort.

Why are we doing this? Our son, the lawyer, is getting married. We’ve met the bride to be last year and she seems very nice so we’re quite happy to welcome her to our family. We will signify that by actually showing up for the nuptials. Our adult daughter will be there too.

Our son is older than I was when Saint Karen and I tied the knot, but he does take after me in at least one respect so I hope his bride takes after his mother too. We already like her, no doubt, but we don’t know the bride to be well enough to know this going in. Nevertheless, I hope he’s marrying a saint just like I did. You see, I’m pretty sure she’ll have to be a saint to put up with him too.

Things I Know

Anthony Weiner, in case you haven’t heard, is a candidate for Mayor of New York. Do you think that Sydney Leathers isn’t attractive enough to risk a career on? Do you believe Olivia Nuzzi, the former campaign intern who wrote a damaging article for the NY Daily News should have honored her non-disclosure agreement? Should Barbara Morgan have watched her mouth when talking to a reporter? Is Huma Abedin, Weiner’s wife, enabling his behavior? Do you believe Abedin should stand by her man or divorce him? Whatever your opinion is about Weiner sending pictures of his penis to women, both while he was in Congress and since he resigned after his behavior made him famous as the peter tweeter, let’s all try to remember that candidate Weiner’s behavior is the worst part of this scandal and that the women surrounding him don’t really deserve to be savaged by the media.

The newest TV commercial for Swiffer cleaning products is pretty insulting to older people if you ask me.

According to Buzz Aldrin (who should know) a Saturn V rocket’s mileage on takeoff was 7 inches per gallon. Since what made Mr. Aldrin an historic figure happened a long time ago, perhaps I should explain that Mr. Aldrin was the second human being to set foot on the moon.

Things I Know

It turns out I’m probably already eligible for sainthood. I thought you needed three miracles, but you only need two.

We already knew that Kim and Kanye named their child “North” to go with Kanye’s last name of “West.” So, I was hoping that Kate and William would name their new rugrat “Chrysler” to go with their last name of “Windsor.” For a future King of England, George is so unimaginative. He’ll eventually be George VII. Even King Corey or King Jody would be better in my opinion.

I had a remarkably unpleasant experience with the Bank of America’s World Points credit card reward program. When I complained, the program’s representatives didn’t help me, but promised to refer my problem to the bank for response within 48 hours. I didn’t get any response so I don’t know if the customer service rep that made the promise actually referred me as she said she would. A week later, I called the Bank of America’s customer service number (as opposed to their travel reward number) and a representative there named Claire was extremely helpful and resolved the issue to my satisfaction. There are two lessons to be learned here: check elsewhere to see if the reward deal your credit card is offering is actually a good deal; and if you are unsatisfied with the first response to your complaint, escalate.

Nobody goes to Boy Scout camp for the cuisine and I lost three pounds just by being there for five days last week.

It was very hot in Rhode Island last week. Sleeping wasn’t unbearable though, because I kept the windows open and the walls too. And also because I didn’t bring my zero-degree mummy bag to camp.

I suggest that Classmates.com revise the way it tries to drum up business. From time to time the website sends me emails about the activities of both men and women who graduated from high school before I did. I’m not interested. I might be interested in the activities of women who graduated from my high school a year or two after I did though. I’m not super-interested because I married one of those. And women might be interested in what’s up with men who graduated a year or two before they did. Maybe even three years would work.

If my suggestion on this or any other matter makes you money, post a comment here and I’ll get in touch to tell you how to send me money.

Things I Know

I’m off to summer camp for a few days, but I have to find a new doctor. When I show up at my doctor’s office in shorts and a t-shirt announcing that I’m there for my summer camp physical, I don’t even get a chuckle anymore.

Paypal sent a guy in Pennsylvania a statement saying he had over $92.2 quadrillion in his account. That’s a lot more than the World Bank estimated the entire world economy was worth in 2012, so it was probably a mistake. Too bad, because the guy said he had a good plan for the money. He said he’d pay down the US national debt and then buy the Philadelphia Phillies if he could get a good deal.

I know Bill Cosby has an earned PhD in education. However, he’s a comedian and his recent appearance on the Today show had nothing to do with his academic discipline, so when the Today Show cast called him Doctor Cosby throughout the interview about his internet survey of favorite sweaters, it just sounded odd to me. I always thought that other than MD’s, DO,s and DDS’s, one didn’t use the term “doctor” outside the university or college setting.

If you are impeding the flow of traffic in the left lane on an interstate highway, move to the right or speed up, but not both.

Most cars today have cruise control. If you’re on a limited access highway and traffic is light enough to safely permit its use, please use it. I want to maintain a steady pace and I hate having to speed up and slow down because people who have cruise control don’t use it where appropriate.

There must be 20 resistance exercise stations at the gym I use and no two are the same. I’d guess that the vast majority of people who use each of those machines do something other than what the directions say.

I’m also doing cardio on an elliptical trainer. My goal is to become so fit that they can’t get my pulse high enough during a stress test. I believe I have a long way to go. I’m not even sure the goal is in sight. The peculiar thing about the exercises is that when I stop for a few days, the inactivity hurts my cardio fitness much more than it hurts my strength.

Things I Want (Or Need) To Know

Have you ever experienced anything “express” on or even near the Staten Island Expressway? I only ask because I didn’t again today.

If checkout time at my hotel is 11:00 AM, why does the free wifi expire at 6:08 PM?

Since the use of air conditioning became widespread, has any hotel or motel anywhere in the world been built with a quiet HVAC system?

I like to go to major-league baseball games, but usually go to only one a year because they’ve so expensive. A seat in the upper deck costs more these days than a field box seat cost 20 years ago. I went to one recently which made me wonder once again, why do they even bother with batter’s boxes? The first right-handed batter in the first inning obliterated the back line in the batter’s box. After that, if the umpires enforced the rule about batter’s boxes, every right-handed batter would have been out on every ball put in play because every single one of them had his right foot out of the box. Left-handed batters tended to stand farther up in the batter’s box because they want to eliminate an extra step or two when running to first base.

Have you ever done something advertently?

If you say or do something only once, is that dundant?

Whatever happened to velour upholstery for cars? On the other hand, I recently sat on velour upholstery in a tour bus.

And while I’m remembering days gone by, whatever happened to brown cars? Not UPS-truck brown, you understand. I’m talking about metallic shades of brown, bronze and copper. In fact, what happened to colors on cars altogether? Most of the cars I see around here these days are black, white, grey or silver.

Since the word “upholstery“is spelled with an h, why isn’t it pronounced the way it’s spelled? You know, why isn’t it pronounced ufolstery?

Sword? Board? Since both words are pronounced similarly, why are they spelled so differently?

Things I Know

I sometimes marvel at the possible contacts Linked In comes up with. I haven’t even told Linkedin.com that I’m married, but the last time I looked, the business networking website suggested I might know my wife’s boss. I also received an invitation to connect from a guy I haven’t contacted since the mid-2000’s and before that we were both beginning our careers. Of course, I accepted. My very favorite recommendation was they thought I might know the woman I took to my high school senior prom.

A man in Somerset England robbed another man who installs security cameras for a living, with predictable results.

I don’t think I’ll go see the new Lone Ranger movie, but from the reviews I’ve read, it should be viewed with giblet gravy and cranberry sauce.

There’s a report today that Tom Seaver will throw out the ceremonial first pitch at next week’s All-Star game in Citi Field. Really? Was there another candidate?

Before balloting was closed off, I decided I would vote for my favorite players for the MLB All-Star Game which is now a week away. But they want way too much information about me at the MLB website, so I passed.

I can get my annual car inspection anytime during the month when the old sticker expires. However, if I want my health insurance to pay for an inspection of me (read a physical), I have to wait the entire 365 days.

I wish people on TV would stop saying it’s hot when it isn’t. It was humid on Sunday in NY, but the temperature was in the low 80’s. An overnight low of 99 in Death Valley is hot: a daytime high of 81 or 82 in New York isn’t.

I’ve never had a job where I got scheduled performance reviews. I think I’d like one though. Nobody likes criticism, but everyone needs to know where they stand. If a boss doesn’t like something about the job you’re doing, it’s difficult to correct it if you don’t know what it is.

Health insurance eligibility is now sufficiently complicated that even my health insurance carriers can’t tell their employees which one takes precedence.

I’m teaming up Coinstar and Amazon.com to painlessly fund my music collecting. If I get an Amazon gift e-card instead of cash, Coinstar doesn’t charge a fee for counting all the pennies, nickels, dimes and quarters in my jar. When the jar’s full, it’s always over $100. If I got a bigger jar, I’d have trouble carrying it. So, I got an Amazon e-card for redeeming my pocket change and spent some of the money on CD’s and some of it on camera accessories.

In the area where I live, various supermarkets frequently put small cans of tuna fish on sale. They never discount the big cans. So, if you buy tuna on sale, it’s always cheaper per unit to buy it in small cans. Also, your cell phone probably contains a calculator. Use it while grocery shopping.

Things I Know

I like to take pictures. Sometimes, I take good ones, like the one at the top of this blog. I took that. I’m trying to learn Photoshop Elements 11. I have the software and I have a book. I’ve looked up tutorials on youtube.com too, but I’d like to find a tutorial that would take you through the program while beginning at a place that will allow you to start editing photos right away. That way, you don’t forget the first thing you learned while picking up the seventh. I’m open to suggestions.

By the way, the biggest step you can take to gain a reputation as a good photographer is to not show anyone your bad pictures.

If you live on the west coast, the nearest Dunkin Donuts store is not in Missouri anymore. It’s in Salt Lake City Utah.

If I ever open a funeral home, I’ll call it Mammoth—that’s Mammoth Undertaking.

I didn’t watch the Discovery Channel while Nik Walenda was wire-walking across the Grand Canyon. It was a risk-reward thing for me, as it was for Mr. Walenda. Of course, for him, the potential for both risk and reward were much greater. I would have hated to see him die on live TV, but I would have been only mildly pleased to watch him succeed, so I didn’t watch. But one thing I did like: during the crossing, someone tweeted that not only did the video remind him he was afraid of heights, it also reminded him that he was afraid of widths.

I don’t follow professional hockey at all, but congratulations to the Chicago Blackhawks on their Stanley Cup victory. The NHL has the coolest sports trophy tradition ever, though. Each player on the winning team gets custody of the cup for a while. They can take it home, or take it out to parties, just to show it to their friends. I imagine you could score a free beer or two if you showed up at the local sports bar with the Stanley Cup.

There’s an old joke among IT workers that if you search Google for the search term “Google” something awful will happen. You’ll break the Internet or send Google into a programming loop from which it cannot exit, or get a screen of death in some color other than blue. None of those things will happen, but you will get over 10 billion hits, so don’t do it unless you’re looking for something to read for several lifetimes to come.

Speaking of the dreaded blue screen of death, it’s been about a year-and-a-half since I looked for the t-shirt on etsy.com and progress has been made. You can now buy on etsy, and maybe elsewhere too, “Blue Screen of Death” T-shirts in 18 colors (it used to be 14) but still only three (it used to be three) are shades of blue.

And, it’s been a lot more than 18 months since I’ve seen a real blue screen of death in its native habitat. Do you think they are extinct?

Remember when M&M candies advertised that they melt in your mouth, not in your hands? Well, now Hershey’s has a product called Air Delight and Hershey’s advertises that it melts fast while you’re eating it. I wish somebody would make up their mind.

Things I Know

If you think you can get a carpet cleaned, ripping one up after it’s been on the floor for years and years will convince you otherwise. Last one I ripped up had at least enough dirt under it to fill a good-sized flower pot.

I was looking at car rentals on Priceline.com, a company that could stand to update its website. According to Priceline, examples of a premium or luxury car in my neighborhood include Mercury Marquis, Lincoln Town Car and the ubiquitous “Or Similar.” Fine, except I can’t think of any other large, rear-wheel drive, American-made cars that haven’t been manufactured in two (Town Car) or three (Marquis) years.

So it has been proclaimed throughout the land that Kim Kardasian’s daughter is named North West. At least the child won’t grow up directionless. It has also been proclaimed that her nickname will be Nori. Perhaps that will be reconsidered since Nori is Japanese seaweed.

My wife, Saint Karen, who has to be a saint to put up with me, can blink, but she can’t wink. She can stick out her tongue too, but she can’t roll it.

I’ve seen Home Depot stores all over the country. Most of them have overhangs at the front of the store. Generally, the stores keep shopping carts and hand trucks under the overhang. Not the one where I usually shop. They keep gas grills, plants, sheds, etc., under there and they take up dozens of parking spaces in the lot storing the carts. They use enough of the parking spaces this way that it’s getting to be a hassle to shop there.

Flikr was recently revamped. I’d like to suggest another improvement. You can drag and drop pictures from your computer to your browser to upload them to Flickr. I’d love it if you could drag and drop pictures within Flickr to rearrange them both in your photostream and in your sets.

Things I Want (Or Need) To Know

If I were in charge of Microsoft Excel, I’d make the height and width of the cells in the spreadsheets in the same units. Then, if the column width was 6 and the column height was 6, each cell would be square. It’s so logical I wonder why Microsoft doesn’t do that.

Shouldn’t we say “mathematic” (no “s”)? I mean we use the word as singular, not plural.

Here’s a question for car companies. You’ve already designed the hook that’s over the back window so it won’t accept a coat hanger. Why don’t you just eliminate the hook on both sides of the car and make yourselves maybe an extra dime of profit? I know you wouldn’t make the car a dime cheaper, so I didn’t bother to suggest that.

Do you like to stick your head out the window of a moving car? Neither do I, so why does your dog like it so much?

If I can find and buy a race horse named “Nobody,” can I clean up on stud fees when nobody wins the Triple Crown?

When toddlers try on a new (for them) curse word for the first time, they always pronounce the word clearly and use it in the correct context. I wonder where they get it from, don’t you?

Why is it you can modify some Facebook posts, but only delete others?

Where did I leave my car keys? No, really. Exactly where? I know they’re in the woods somewhere near Stony Point NY and I know I’ll never find them, but those car keys and those remote key fobs are mad expensive—more than a subsidized smart phone.

Things I Know

If you net $370.8 Million in the Powerball lottery the way Gloria MacKenzie did, I imagine it would be pretty hard to squander that much money. However, if you’re 84, as Gloria MacKenzie is, I think you should try hard to do so. Mrs. MacKenzie lives, or maybe used to live in Zephyrhills, FL, which is near Tampa. Her son is from Jacksonville, which isn’t near Tampa. Her new attorneys are also from Jacksonville. That leads me to speculate that she is probably relying at least in part on her son to help her plan for the money. I say more good luck to her and to anyone she chooses to be generous to as well.

When my wife heard that the winner is 84, she said, “I hope she has a lot of relatives.” I said, if she didn’t before, she probably does now.”

My daughter deserves to win the big prize in a lottery because she has a good answer to the news conference question, “What are you going to do with the money?” She says she’d reply, “Well, I was thinking about getting a pizza.”

News that the current director of the FBI is retiring soon lead me to wonder how much the FBI director earns. He is a public official, so his salary must be a public record, but in the few minutes I’ve spent looking for it, I couldn’t find it.

“Anyways” isn’t a word.

I get more and more junk mail, or if you prefer direct marketing mailers, that are too thick to put through even a pretty good shredder without opening them. I even got one recently that had two paper clips in it to prevent me from shredding it. Okay direct marketers, you win. I’ll open your junk mail before I shred it, but you still can’t make me read it.

I emailed Linked In, the business networking website, with a suggestion for change. I got two responses, one quickly and the other 13 days later. Neither one was anything more than generic and neither one gave me any confidence that the website will adopt my suggestion.

A guy came up to me in the library the other day and said hi. I had no idea who he was. I may have mentioned that I have a terrible memory for names. My wife tells me I learned her name the third time we met. Turns out the guy who said hi is the man I sold my old Chevy to something like 25 years ago. The car served him well until he wrecked it four years later. So, he didn’t remember me for doing something awful to him. I was flattered and said so.

Things I Want (Or Need) To Know

Yanira Maldonado, a 42-year-old Mexican-born American citizen, was released from jail in Mexico on Friday. She was charged with smuggling drugs after 12 pounds of marijuana was found under the seat where she was sitting on a bus. Her release came after surveillance video of the bus station showed she wasn’t carrying a package when she boarded the bus. That’s fine, but why did it take a week to look at the video?

New Jersey Governor Chris Christie is running for reelection. Have you seen his campaign commercials? If you’re the incumbent and if you’re ahead in the polls, isn’t it unusual to attack your opponent by name, especially six months before the election? Doesn’t that contribute to her name recognition and put her on a more equal footing with the governor in the mind of the public?

Have you ever named your car? My sister used to call our old Jeep “Jeepy Girl.” Not sure why. I have only named one car, a clapped out Plymouth we called “Blue Cloud.” The car was red, but it burned A LOT of oil.

If you sign up for a cell phone contract and get a new phone, the cost of the phone is subsidized, right? So how come if you let the contract expire and don’t renew or get another phone your monthly bill doesn’t go down once the subsidy for your old phone is paid off?

How do Linked-In and Facebook decide who they suggest I might know? I haven’t shared my contacts with either one. Both thought I might know the woman I took to my senior prom. That was a long time ago and while I’m grateful that she’s one of the people who introduced me to my wife, I really only see her at my wife’s class reunions. Linked-In recently told me I might know David Einhorn, the billionaire hedge fund guy who is probably most famous in this area for trying to buy into the NY Mets. I was in a group of 20-25 people introduced to him at a ball game, but I wouldn’t say I know him and I’m a thousand percent sure he wouldn’t say he knows me.

Things I Know

You can freeze cream cheese, but I don’t recommend it because it louses up the texture.

While Spring cleaning and before you take everything in your attic and garage to the curb or to the dump, you should know that a working 1976 model Apple 1 computer was auctioned recently for 516,000 Euros which translates to about $668,000. My mom probably threw one of those out along with my comics and my Lionel trains.

Internet advice can be funny. I was reading camping forums to find out how to repair the netting on my tent. I left the tent in my garage over the winter and despite the fact that it doesn’t look like an acorn, squirrels nibbled on it. Someone on one of the forums suggested I could repair the holes in the netting by using small patches made out of squirrel pelts.

Because I went to a meeting on Wednesday morning, I wasn’t home when the Jehovah’s Witnesses stopped by. I respect their religious beliefs; I wish they respected mine and left me alone after a few polite no’s.

I hate to watch really dark movie scenes on TV. Generally when that happens I can’t see much.

A newly released scientific study proves conclusively that anything anyone enjoys is harmful either to the person who enjoys it, whoever provides it, or both. Moreover, having made that determination, no more scientific studies need be conducted ever.

I was going to start a Twitter account to promote this blog but the twitter handles Sisyphus and Sisyphusproject are taken although neither one is used very often (like in years). I can’t complain though. I have Twitter account I only use to sign into a couple of websites I visit frequently.

Amazon.com’s search function continues to puzzle me. I searched for Canon Lens under electronics, sorted them by price highest first, and the third item that came up was a Leica lens. I searched for a particular song with a two-word title under MP3 music. The first song title was the 107th item on the list. Amazon does many things amazingly well, but its search function continues to be weird and unsatisfying.

Mother’s Day

If you’ve complimented or flattered me by reading all, some, or most of what I’ve written on these pages over the past five years, you may have noticed that I’ve fondly remembered my father on Father’s Day. You may also have noticed that I haven’t done the same for my mother on Mother’s Day.

Still, I hope you have fond memories of your mother. Even better, I hope your mom is still alive and you can tell her you love her. And, if you have a mother or if you are a mother, I hope you have a happy Mother’s Day.

Things I Want (Or Need) To Know

What should I get my wife for Mother’s Day? Frankly I’ve run out of gift ideas, not just for that but for anything. To balance things out, I’ve run out of gifts I want to receive as well.

When Queen Elizabeth dragged Prince Charles with her to the ceremonial opening of Parliament on Wednesday, my daughter wanted to know if it was bring your children to work day in Great Britain.

Is Martha Stewart being paid for looking for a date using Match.com? The website has experienced tons of publicity and a surge in membership, so I assume so, but if she is being paid by someone other than the Today show when she appears there to promote the search, I think it should be disclosed.

Why are there no B batteries?

I always confuse the word artisan with the word artesian. So, sometimes I wonder how cheese could ever be able to come out of the ground without benefit of a pump, or with for that matter.

Where did I park my car?

Don’t you need a gun and a mask to charge that much for a new ignition key and a new remote for your car? Admittedly they weren’t new cars, but I’ve owned more than one car that cost less to buy than the dealer wants for a new key and fob for my five-year-old truck.

Things I Want (Or Need) To Know

I’m all for recycling plastic, so why can’t they make the little numbers inside the triangles on the bottoms of the plastic containers big enough to read?

Diamonds are a girl’s best friend and a dog is man’s best friend. Is that unfair to men or women?

Every spring I wonder, shouldn’t the plural of crocus be croci?

Do you understand the show “Deadliest Catch?” I don’t. When I was growing up, nobody wanted to catch crabs.

Isn’t that Marshall Efron doing the voice of the cartoon general in the TV commercials for The General Insurance?

Why is my kitchen exhaust fan just as noisy on low speed as it is on high?

Are pancakes really so hard to cook that we need the Flip Jack pan?

Why are we supposed to tip the newspaper delivery guy? When I was a paper boy, I bought papers wholesale and sold them for list price. A tip, if I got one was a little extra for the convenience of getting the paper delivered to the door. These days the newspaper delivery person is an adult working from a car, very early in the morning. And, the cost of newspaper home delivery is higher than the price printed on the newspaper. So, they’re being paid more than retail for their service, right? Therefore, why are we also supposed to tip?

Things I Know

If you absolutely need to be miserable for three or four minutes, it’s really, really hard to beat a George Jones song. If you don’t like country music, that may not matter to you. If you do like country music, you already know they held his funeral at the Grand Old Opry, you could watch it live on more than one cable channel, stream it on the Internet, or listen on satellite radio. And the place was packed!

Evidently, the people who programmed MS Word aren’t big fans of country music. I say that because they think “Opry” is a misspelled word.

Don’t turn left off a busy main street into a side street if there’s no room to pull all the way out of the intersection.

If there’s a long line on the street waiting to turn right into a fast food drive-in window or a carwash, you have no business trying to turn left to cut that line.

If there’s a left turn lane on a ground-level street or a deceleration lane on a highway, please get all the way into it before turning. I just hate it when people hang the rear of their car out of those lanes so as to both occupy the turn or deceleration lane and also block the free flow of traffic.

Using the word magniloquent to describe someone’s speech or writing is in and of itself magniloquent.

Things I Know

Zubeidat Tsarnaeva, the Boston bombers’ mother says she regrets ever moving her family to the United States. We regret it too.

When I met my wife’s parents it was no big deal. She was still in high school. I went to their house to pick her up and take her to a movie. We said hello. If you start dating someone as an adult it can be more momentous. My son is going to meet his girlfriend’s parents and it involves a trip to where they live in Europe.

I was talking to a psychiatrist I know the other day and he said that the bombing at the Boston Marathon and the positive test (possibly a false positive) for the deadly poison Ricin on mail to the President and a US Senator were crazy. He should know, right?

The proliferation of fees in the airline industry continues. My friend Wes Richards has now proposed a fee collection fee. Just brilliant! I fear Wes will now become the head of a major airline as a result and if the fee collection fee gets implemented and Wes gets royalties for this idea he will soon be the only person able to afford to fly commercially.

Myself, I’m working on the fi-fo-fum fee.

If you use Facebook, you know that every once in a while your news feed will say one of your friends commented on an issue and so did 415,773.134 other people. Fine. But if you’re interested in what your friend said about that issue, you might click on it. And there’s no way you can find your friend’s comment among the 415,772.134 others. If you click on one of those through your friend, I think Facebook should take you to the page, but highlight your friend’s comment.

Our obsession with celebrity has gone too far. It’s been reported, far more widely than necessary, that when pop star Justin Bieber visited the Anne Frank house while in Amsterdam on a European concert tour earlier this month, he signed the guest book, “Truly inspiring to be able to come here. Anne was a great girl. Hopefully she would have been a belieber.” In case you’re not a young teenage girl, a beleiber is someone who’s a fan of Justin Bieber. Some people went nuts criticizing the kid. Maatje Mostart curator of the museum didn’t. She retained some perspective. While acknowledging that the remark was insensitive, she said, “He’s 19. It’s a crazy life he’s living, he didn’t mean bad… and also it’s nice that he made the effort, he didn’t have to come.” That’s about the size of it and that’s about the amount of coverage this gaffe deserves.

Things I Know

If someone tells you this April 15th is the 100th anniversary of the federal income tax, that’s not exactly true. The feds have been collecting income taxes for the past 100 years, but first, there was also an income tax during the Civil War and second, in 1913, your federal income tax deadline was March 1st, not April 15th.

I understand that telling a prospective employer what you make on your current job us a stronger bargaining position than telling them what you made on your last job. Still, I went on a job interview recently where the salary offered was well below the pay grade of the responsibility of the job opening. So, I withdrew myself from consideration. I’m willing to work for less than I used to make, but not for less than what the job typically commands.

The NY Post website on Wednesday had an article headlined, “One-Third of Air Force Including Blue Angels Grounded by Sequester.” Okay, except the Blue Angels are the Navy’s aerobatics team. The Blue Angels have been cancelled too, but the Air Force’s aerobatics team is called the Thunderbirds, so the headline should have said something about the Thunderbirds and so should the article.

If you have a car with a keyless entry system, don’t lose your keys. At the dealer, the remote for my truck costs around $100 without programming. I’ll be searching on Ebay in the next few days for a cheaper solution. Not only the remote. The key also has a transponder and has to be programmed to the car by a dealer or a locksmith with a reasonably expensive piece of equipment to do the job.

How come Jay Leno calmed down about being replaced by Jimmy Fallon? Money is my guess.

Like a lot of people, my garage is full of junk and I can’t park a car there. So, I don’t go into it much in the winter time. I went in on Saturday. I knew the car wasn’t parked there. I didn’t know the dead squirrel was, but now I do.

Apostrophe Catastrophe II

For reasons I can’t explain, when the most recent update of the blogging software I use stripped some, but not all the apostrophes from the entire five years of the blog, it stripped out some, but not all of the quotation marks in the blog as well.

The last time I wrote about this, I said there was a limit on how far back I could go and edit the blog entries. I have discovered, however, that the most recent update of the blogging software also removed the limit on editing. So, I can now go back to the very beginning to correct and edit entries. I can go through all five years of entries and correct them for proper use of apostrophes and quotation marks after all.

Since I can, maybe I will. But, don’t count on it happening quickly.

Things I Know

I just figured out how to improve U.S. relations with the People’s Republic of North Korea. America should set up a good barber school in Pyongyang. Let’s face it, Little Kim’s haircut won’t win a prize anytime soon.

The actor Daniel Craig, famous for playing James Bond, made a seven-minute appearance at the NY International Auto Show during press previews on Wednesday. He arrived at the Javits Center in a Land Rover, on behalf of that company, stayed for 7 minutes and didn’t say a word. He was reportedly paid one million dollars. I could never do that. Nobody who knows me thinks I could possibly go seven minutes without uttering a word.

So I was watching a show called Prime Nine on the MLB cable channel and it was about what the show’s producers consider the nine best seasons of all times for individual pitchers. Of course, one of the nine was Sandy Koufax in 1965. The film clip they showed was of his perfect game in September and calling that game, 48 years ago, Vin Scully. Other than Koufax’s performance, what’s remarkable is Vin Scully. If you had gone back another fifteen years, a Dodger film clip might have had Vin Scully doing play by play. If you get one from next Monday or later, it might still be Vin Scully, but the chances are lower because Mr. Scully doesn’t do every game anymore. He still does home games and a few road games in states neighboring California. And, he is 85 years old!

Verizon wireless sent me an email suggesting I spend $4.99 on two cleaning wipes for my cell phone. That’s not going to happen.

Things I Know

50’s and 60’s singing idol Bobby Rydell was a no-show for his appearance at Dick Fox’s Doo Wop Extravaganza at the NYCB Theater in Westbury NY last night. Jay Black, former lead singer of Jay and the Americans filled in for him. According to the concert’s MC, Emil Stucchio (who is also lead singer of The Classics) Rydell had open-heart surgery earlier in the week. Rydell, who is 70 years old, had a double organ transplant last summer, receiving a liver and a kidney. I hope Bobby Rydell makes a complete and speedy recovery.

Note to doo wop singers: If you didn’t have THAT operation when you were nine years old (and aren’t you glad you didn’t?) you can’t sing falsetto at 70 or 60 or even 50. Hire a woman to sing the high notes.

Occasionally, someone says something extremely profound about something else that’s not profound at all. Case in point, Smokey Robinson, legendary lead singer of the Miracles on early group harmony: “When you learn a Moonglows’ record, you learn the background vocals before you learn the lead vocals.” Smokey said that on the recently rebroadcast PBS special “Doo Wop Discoveries.” True. I know when my son was a toddler, if he sang along with some music I was playing, he’d sing the harmony parts. And I also know I love me some Moonglows’ records.

“The National Association of Realtors supports maintaining homeowner tax incentives.” If this ad’s purpose is to convince Congress, or to convince the general public, I think it’s an awful ad. Do you know what they’re talking about? I don’t think many people do. “Homeowner tax incentives,” means you can deduct the interest you pay on your home mortgage from your income taxes. Whenever Congress talks about closing loopholes in the tax code, that’s one of the issues they’re addressing. Are you more interested now? I thought so. And you would have been more interested earlier if the ad explained that.

Every once in a while you run across some really strange pricing. Here are two examples.

First, if you ride a bus in Nassau County NY, you can pay with a lot of coins or you can pay with something called a Metro Card. The fare, in coins, is $2.25. On the card, it’s $2.50! I know that acquiring and carrying 18 quarters for a daily, round-trip commute is a bit of a burden, but I can’t see why anyone would use the card.

Second, we use a lot of ketchup in my house. My daughter puts ketchup on baked chicken and I put ketchup on ketchup. Since we use so much, we buy a lot. Recently, in the supermarket, a humongous bottle of brand-name ketchup (is there more than one brand name of ketchup?) cost $6.49. What do I mean by humongous? 1.43 kg. Strange pricing was in effect, so two humongous bottles held together by a white plastic thingy cost $5.99. Which should I buy, one for $6.49 or two for $5.99? Not $5.99 each, $5.99. Oh the stress of making decisions.

Apostrophe Catastrophe

I’m at least as smart as the average person and since I possess a master’s degree I’m reasonably well educated. Still, I do make mistakes; everybody does.

I haven’t, however, made as many mistakes in the use of apostrophes as there are in this blog. I usually write it in MS Word, then cut and paste it into the blog. When I do that the blog software sometimes indicates spelling mistakes involving apostrophes. In the past I haven’t corrected those and they have appeared as I intended them to when I make blog posts. While my blog has its own domain name, the ISP I use runs blogs through WordPress software. I presume WordPress uses a different character for the apostrophe than MS Word does. Since the recent WordPress upgrade, a lot of my apostrophes have mysteriously disappeared. This isn’t going to work. I will not pay ransom for any of my missing apostrophes, not even the ones I love most.

There’s a limit on how long after posting I can fix mistakes so at this point I won’t go back and try to fix all the apostrophes I’ve accumulated over more than five years of blogging. I know there’s no such word as whos and when I wished our Irish-American President a happy St. Patrick’s Day, I wrote it as President O’Bama, not President OBama.

Since I’ve discovered this problem, in the future I will correct the blog entries for apostrophes once they’re imported from MS Word. So, please forgive the apostrophe stupidity you may encounter if you read previous blog posts. A few of the mistakes are probably mine, but most of them have been injected by the most recent upgrade to WordPress. We will now move forward and not look back at catastrophic apostrophic mistakes.

Calling the Bank

I have a problem and I’m pretty sure it involves either information downloaded from my bank or the software I run on a PC that uses that information. You see, when I download bank information it shows up on my PC with check numbers attached, even if the transactions aren’t checks. Moreover, the inserted numbers don’t necessarily relate to each other or to existing numbers for transactions that are checks.

I have another problem with my bank. When I use Google Chrome, I can’t transfer money from one account to another.

About the first problem, I’ve called the bank and the software company and each blames the other. When that happens, I get frustrated and give up until I have another problem. I called the bank about the second problem and decided to address the first again for probably the fourth or fifth time.

The first lady I talked to in customer service was very nice and she asked an intelligent question. She wanted to know whether I could transfer money between accounts if I used another browser. I tried it and the answer was yes. So, I had a work-around, but the customer service rep wasn’t able to solve the problem if I use Chrome. Next, she put me on hold to talk to another customer service rep about the download v. software problem.

The bank, by the way, has a problem too. Both when I called in the first place and when I waited on hold for the second rep, I learned that my call is important to the bank. I also learned that even though my call is important, they don’t hire enough customer service reps to answer calls promptly, even if you are a preferred customer and call on the preferred customer special telephone line.

The second lady was also very nice and also unable to solve my problem. I still wind up with transactions that have check numbers even though they aren’t checks. However, unlike the people I’ve talked to in the past at the bank or the software company, this lady opened a case, gave me a case number and said someone will call me back. I hope so and we’ll see.

While I was on hold, waiting for the second rep and listening to awful music at extremely low fidelity, I figured out the answer to my first problem for myself. Is there anything I do differently, I asked myself, when I use Chrome as opposed to the other browser? Yep, there is. In Chrome, I’m running an anti-tracking extension called DoNotTrackMe. So, I shut it off and, lo and behold, I could transfer money again. Frankly, I’m surprised that the extension prevents me from transferring money between accounts, but doesn’t prevent me from accessing the bank website or any other functions of my accounts, but that is the way it works.

Solving the problem by myself makes me feel better about myself, but also makes me a little less confident in my bank.

Things I Know

Happy to be back. Did you miss me? I did.

Apparently, the blog was down for the past couple of days because WordPress which supplies the software this blog uses, was updating its programs. I don’t know what happened to the old layout and I don’t have time to mess with a new one right now, but I will fix it soon, I promise.

Things I Know

Happy St. Patrick’’s Day. On the holy day, you may wish to try my recipe for Irish coffee. I recommend drinking it black, with no coffee.

Just to restate my Irish qualifications: My dad painted the first legal green line up Fifth Avenue for a St. Patrick’’s Day Parade. Before New York City took over, a bunch of guys got drunk and painted the line green on a voluntary basis. I once met one of the guys who used to do that too.

And I also wish our Irish president, Barak O’’Bama a happy St. Patrick’s Day.

I don’t believe I have any particular influence in local politics, but the Sisyphus Project hereby endorses Robert T. Kennedy for mayor of Freeport NY in the election to be held on March 19th. I recommend his running mates, the Unity-Home Rule candidates on Row B as well. As far as I know, most villages in New York State hold elections for mayor, trustee and village justice on the third Tuesday in March. So, if you live in a village in New York State and if your village is having an election on Tuesday, please vote. Turnout in these elections is usually low, so your vote means more in these elections than it does in Presidential elections.

I hope Pope Francis is successful in leading the Catholic Church more in the direction of helping the poor. I also hope he cracks down even further on child abuse among certain members of the clergy.

My wife made sauerbraten and potato pancakes for dinner. She told our daughter that if there were any potato pancakes left over, she’d freeze them. Our daughter replied, ““Mommy, you’re cute.”” She had a point. There weren’’t any potato pancakes left over. I’’ve never seen, or even heard of leftover potato pancakes, have you? And, if there’’s even a smidgen of justice in the world, there is no such thing as leftover potato pancakes. Nor, should there be! Actually, our daughter has two points: Mommy is cute too.

If the Girl Scouts find this out, they’ll probably raise the price of their cookies, but some commercially baked cookies sell for more in your supermarket than the Girl Scouts charge for their cookies. However, I think packages of grocery-store cookies generally weigh more than packages of Girl Scout cookies. If Social Teas weren’’t the most expensive cookies I like, I’’d probably eat a couple of boxes of them a day!

Speaking of Girl Scouts, they almost made a terrible mistake. They only tried to sell cookies to my wife, not to me. However, I tracked down a Girl Scout and managed to buy another five boxes of Thin Mints.

Dennis Rodman’’s trip to North Korea went exceptionally well since shortly after he returned to the USA North Korean dictator, Kim Jong Un, threatened a preemptive nuclear strike against the United States.

Things I Want (Or Need) To Know

One of the biggest questions of 2013 so far is who’se baby is going to get more publicity when it’’s born, Kate’’s or Kim’’s?

I’’m not a big fan of reality TV and I’’ve never seen the show “Fashion Star,” but I did see Nicole Richie on “Today” this morning. I know her father is famous and that she and Paris Hilton became famous for being famous, but how can she be a featured player on a TV show if she’s as inarticulate and stammers as much as she did on “Today?”

Why did Jody Arias take the witness stand in her murder trial? She’’s the 32-year-old Arizona woman accused of stabbing Travis Alexander multiple times. The NY Daily News reported, “Prosecutors claim she killed Alexander in a jealous rage, stabbing and slashing him 27 times, slitting his throat and shooting him in the head.” She says self-defense. It’’s almost never a good idea for a defendant to take the witness stand because it allows prosecutors to ask questions on cross examination that would not be permitted otherwise. Based on news reports, I don’’t think she’’s helping herself and she’’d stand a better chance with the self-defense claim if Alexander hadn’’t been stabbed 27 times. Generally, a lot of stabs and/or a lot of shots indicate rage was an element of the crime.

On the TV show “Pawn Stars,” I think I saw someone pawn something once, but I don’t believe I’’ve ever seen anyone buy anything at the store. Still, the time Saint Karen (who has to be a saint to put up with me) and I drove past the store in Las Vegas, there was a line to get in, so someone must be buying their stuff.

Whenever there’’s a big storm, the weather forecasters on TV keep talking about “The Eurpoean model.” Who is this European model? Heidi Klum? And why would a European model know anything about meteorology.

Things I Know

The TSA announced new rules about knives on planes. The new rules take effect on April 25th. Most of the reporting I’’ve read said it’’ll be okay to bring your Swiss Army knife on a plane after that date. However, if you read deeper into the articles they say the maximum length of a blade allowed will be 2.36 inches. I have a Swiss Army knife. If you measure only the sharp part of the blade, it’s about a tenth of an inch too long. If you measure the entire part that sticks out of the handle, it’s even longer. So be careful taking your Swiss Army knife on a plane, even after 4/25. Also, I wondered who has a tape measure you can use to measure 2.36 inches, but I’’ve decided they really mean 6 cm.

If you subscribe to Norton Internet Security, you may want to turn off the automatic renewal feature. Norton told me when my subscription was due to expire, but they charged me for a renewal more than two weeks before the expiration date. Also, shop around. You can get their product (which I have used for years and like) a lot more cheaply than the price they sell it to you for. If you should have a problem, Nathan, the chat guy on Norton’s website is a computer, not a person. I contacted the company through Facebook and their Facebook team consists of real people I found very helpful.

Obviously, the Dolan family that owns Cablevision is a lot more skilled at making money than I am. They’re worth billions of dollars because of the company Charles Dolan founded. However, the current TV commercial for Cablevision’s Optimum cable service is exceedingly dumb. If you don’t live in an area served by Cablevision, the commercial claims that Optimum’’s 800 number is so similar to the 800 number of singer Michael Bolton that Bolton is getting a lot of calls meant for them. Why would Bolton have an 800 number? Why would he make it public? And, why would he ever answer a publicly known 800 number himself?

I missed National Banana Cream Pie Day which was March 1st, but I have big plans to make up for that.

I’m glad I only learned that March 3rd was the date of the World Naked Bike Ride after it was too late to participate because it’’s way too cold for that in early March where I live.

In this economy, someone must have money. I was at the Garden State Mall in New Jersey and I know they’’re building a parking garage in part of the parking lot, but the rest of the lot was jammed, in the early afternoon on a weekday.

I believe it’’s true throughout New York State and know that on Long Island most village elections will be held on March 19th. There are fewer than two weeks to go. Vote early, vote often and vote for the candidate of my choice.

I haven’t done a blog item on things I want (or need) to know in quite a while. I have to work on that.

Things I Know

Today is the fifth anniversary of the Sisyphus Project. If, like my friend Richard (formerly from New Jersey) you have been with us from the beginning, or very near the beginning, then you may be a glutton for punishment, but you have my sympathy.

When a movie star on the red carpet at tonight’’s Oscar award ceremony is asked, ““Who are you wearing,”” just once, I’’d like her to say, “”It’’s from the sale rack at Kohl’’s”.” I didn’’t have that desire until Nancy Giles planted it in my mind when I watched her commentary on CBS Sunday Morning today.

I listen to the radio more than most people. I keep it on all night and listen on a pillow speaker when I’’m having trouble sleeping, which is most of the time. I just bought a new one; a Sangean CL-100. I’’ve only had it for a couple of nights, but so far, so good. I live in an area with lots of radio stations and it picks up the ones I like. On the first night, the display was too bright, but that’’s adjustable. I don’’t need the weather radio feature unless I move to Florida. That might happen if I can convince my wife, Saint Karen, who must be a saint to put up with me. I thought about buying a radio that would accept SDHC cards and play the music or podcasts on them. But this radio is less than half the price and it does have an auxiliary input, so I can make it play music from my MP3 player or my phone. The clock on mine doesn’’t seem terribly accurate, but it can reset itself from information broadcast by many radio stations. My biggest problem so far is that the display isn’’t large enough for me to read it in the middle of the night without my glasses.

The Sangean replaces a teenage Grundig Yachtboy 400. I like one thing better about the Sangean. It has a much lower center of gravity so it’’ll be harder to knock over at night. But if the Yachtboy was still being manufactured, I’’d buy another one. The Yachtboy is a good receiver and very sturdy. I’’ve owned it since around the turn of the 21st century. I’’ve dropped it several times. Two of those drops submerged it in water. After it dried out and I replaced the batteries, it worked just fine. It still works just fine except for one important thing: the earphone jack is now intermittent. So, if I want to listen to the radio all night, I can’t rely on a pillow speaker. Therefore, the Yachtboy gets retired to a secondary roll.

Things I Know

If you agree to sign a nominating petition to get some candidate on the ballot, please print your name legibly. I know nobody has a legible signature these days, but apparently the majority of people can’’t print legibly anymore either. If you attended the same grade school I did, I can assure you that Sister Mary Knucklebuster wouldn’t be pleased and neither would Atilla the Nun.

Got a call Friday night from a woman claiming to work with (not for) National Grid. She was intent on asking me if I heated my home with natural gas, so intent that she asked me again after I answered the question. The way she acted, I smelled scam, so I insisted she get to the point. She insisted on sticking to the script so I hung up. Sounded like a scam call to me and there are two I’’m aware of. In one, they ask for your social security number and bank routing number so they can enroll you in a program where the feds will pay your heating bill. In the other, they want to give you a new account number and a new place to send your payments. Don’’t fall for either. Never give personal information (especially personal financial information) to someone who calls you out of the blue and verify by contacting the company yourself if someone calls and wants you to send your money to a new place.

The recently-completed, much-publicized python hunt in the Florida Everglades yielded only 68 snakes. Either pythons are less of a problem in the Everglades than people thought, or they’’re very good at hiding.

Cable TV’s Biography Channel ran a show about Shirley MacLaine. I watched because she’’s the only movie star I’’ve ever talked to. I did that during Senator McGovern’’s campaign for President. She was an active supporter and sometimes campaigned with the candidate. The show said she’s 5′ ’7″” tall which surprised me so I looked it up and several other sources agree. When I met her, she struck me as tiny, but I guess I was so taken by her approachability and genuineness that I must not have noticed that she was standing lower down a slope than me, or maybe I was on a curb and she was on the driveway.

I stumbled upon an Internet list of the 16 most stressful airports in the USA. I’’ve flown in and out of 11 of them, so I guess I have some catching up to do.

I like my orange juice with pulp in it. I thought only kids who are picky eaters liked it strained, but I’’m almost certainly wrong. I base my judgment on the stock at local supermarkets. I was in one last week that only had strained juice. OJ with pulp wasn’’t even for sale. Of course, I prefer chocolate bars with no almonds in them and there, I’’m in the minority as well.

“Women have to grow up because guys need some kind of adult supervision.” Dick Summer said that and I think it’s kind of profound.

Things I Want (Or Need) To Know

I understand the need for security with respect to credit card accounts. I even appreciate it. Still, why can I use the same Visa credit card account twice in one day at the Home Depot a mile or so from my house, but my wife and I can’’t fill up our cars at the gas station three blocks from our house on the same day?

Since preposterous is a word, why aren’’t posterous and postposterous words as well? And yes, I know that posterous is a website that was sold to Twitter and is closing down in April, but it’’s still not a word and that’s preposterous.

In real estate, why do short sales take a long time?

The spam filter on my blog bounced a comment from one-third of my commenters (Richard formerly from New Jersey). Therefore, I shut off the spam filter. So, now I get spam comments. You don’t see them because the comments are moderated. For your comment to appear here, it has to meet two requirements: no spam; and no flaming. Why do the spam comments show up in posts I made months or even years ago? Is it just to create mischief? It doesn’’t seem to me that most people who visit blogs go through all the back posts in order to find spam.

When’’s the last time Paris Hilton was in the news? I don’’t want her back, I just wonder.

Happy New Year

Why were they talking about Chinese New Year this morning on Channel 2 in NY? I know the festival lasts two weeks, but wasn’’t the actual date of the Chinese New Year last Sunday? In any event, when you write checks from now on, be sure to write year of the snake, and to stop writing year of the dragon. And, have a happy new year.

Things I Know

Another tremendous product idea to serve a desperate need: teeth blackener for snowmen.

Naming blizzards is lame, unless it’’s a Dairy Queen blizzard of the month. I have enough trouble remembering when the blizzard of ‘’78 happened. I’’ll never be able to remember when Nemo hit.

Whenever I see one of those cable shows about ancient aliens or aliens yet to come, I’’m reminded of the old “Twilight Zone” episode in which the pretty assistant runs up to the ramp where her boss, Mr. Chambers, is getting on a flying saucer and she tells him that the alien book, “To Serve Man,” is a cookbook.

On the other hand, we already know there is no intelligent life on this planet, so we might as well look for it elsewhere and consequences be damned.

Speaking of extraterrestrial life, there’’s an alien-invasion movie called “Battleship” all over cable this week. It came out last year and it’’s kind of fun. It’’s not great, or believable, but it’’s kind of fun. One of the viewer-reviewers on Netflix said the movie had great special effects and a script written by a six-year-old in crayon. That’’s pretty accurate. No explanation about faster-than-light travel or faster-than-light communication, or the aliens blocking some kinds of wireless communication, but not all, or getting here and planning to rely on our equipment rather than theirs to call home, or sending only five ships to conquer a planet, or how a screw-up who broke into a convenience store and got caught can join the Navy, become an officer, continue to screw up and still get promoted twice in a relatively short period and in peacetime. There’’s more to object to in the plot, but the special effects make the movie and in the end, the senior citizens come through, the humans win and the hero gets the girl so like I said, kind of fun. Let’’s call it two stars (out of five), okay?

I didn’t have any further problems with the old Toyota’s thermostat. I had my friendly neighborhood mechanic change it, so the only problem I have is paying the bill.

Oh, and saving the best for last, happy Valentine’s Day. I’m sure that as long as I continue celebrating them with my wife all of mine will be happy.

Spring Training

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It’s Spring Training, so pack up your Slinky and send it to Arizona or Florida. Of course the good folks in Port St. Lucie Florida have changed the name back to Traditions Field because Digital Domain went bankrupt last year about the time I took this picture. Since Baseball causes warm weather, Spring Training is a great sign. Once the games come on the radio, drive around with the game on and your car windows down to help spread the warmth north more quickly.

Are They On Drugs?

So, toward the end of last year, my wife and I got new cards from our health insurance for our prescription drug benefits. We also got a lot of literature from the same program and I thought the literature said we weren’’t really eligible for the new program.

So, I called the program and on my first call, they said yes we were eligible and no, we weren’t eligible, at the same time. That’s both answers in one call. Last week, I called again and was assured by a very nice lady that we were eligible. So, this week, I went on line and tried to change my profile with the mail-order pharmacy we use so that it would be consistent with the new plan.

The on-line system didn’’t mind my name, but it didn’’t like my birthday, my prescription benefit member number, the prescription number, or my relationship to myself. Now, I could live with it not liking the member number and the prescription number, but I’’m almost certain that my birthday hasn’’t changed and that I’’m still related to myself in the same way I have been since I was born.

In previous phone calls I’’ve been given yes and no as answers in the same phone call and just yes. Today, I talked to Sandy and learned that Sandy isn’’t a bad word. I kind of thought it was because the floods last October devastated a neighborhood only a few hundred feet from where I live. Sandy said no, neither my wife nor I are under the new plan. We’’re both under Saint Karen’s old plan (she has to be a saint to put up with me). So, if you’’re keeping track, that’’s one yes, one no, and one yes and no. Being under my wife’’s old plan is a change too because before this she and I had separate old plans.

Without a request from me or any notice to me, all of my prescriptions were transferred to my wife’s plan. There’’s really no challenge in making me confused, so there’’s really no reason anyone should try.

I hope that it’’s all straightened out now, but last week, I also ordered a couple of prescriptions from a local drug store under the new plan. So, I also kind of hope what happened today is wrong. We’’re fortunate in having good prescription drug insurance, but we seem to have four plans between us and the trick is figuring out who pays what.

Are you confused too? Then, you understand perfectly and my job here is done, except for one last thing. Sandy said that according to her computer our prescription drug insurance doesn’t expire until 2099. I hope we don’t either.

Things I Know

Ancestor doesn’t mean the same thing as descendant. They’re opposites, or antonyms. Your relatives who came before you, like your father and grandfather are your ancestors. Your relatives who come after you, like your children and grandchildren are your descendants. Lately, I’ve been seeing the word ancestor used to mean both far too often, especially with respect to the recently discovered remains of England’’s King Richard III.

If a TV show I’m watching comes out with another story about Manti Teo’s fake girlfriend, I change the channel. But this coverage has given me an idea. I’m going to keep a list of TV news stories that I don’t consider news. If the list gets long enough soon enough, I might even post it here. Stay tuned.

I thought there’d never be a harder car thermostat to change than the one in a 1986 Ford Taurus. It’s hard because it goes into the block horizontally so it’s hard to keep everything in place while you bolt it down. But there is at least one harder one and it’s on my 1991 Toyota Corolla. First the drain pug for the radiator is inaccessible: you have to remove a plastic cover in order to get at it. Second, it’s very hard to drain the radiator without getting antifreeze up your sleeve. Third, the housing for the thermostat is shaped so that you can’t get a 12 mm socket wrench to sit on it well enough to use a socket wrench to loosen the bolts and remove the housing. Then, I had to go get a haircut. So, if there are additional problems with the thermostat, I’ll let you know once the project resumes.

If you’re driving 30 mph slower than the flow of traffic in the middle lane of a limited access highway, you’re definitely causing a traffic jam and you might cause an accident. The accident you cause might even be fatal to you! Don’t just pull into the right lane, get off that road as soon as you can and drive on one where you’re more comfortable keeping up with traffic. That thought occurred to me when I nearly rear-ended the driver of a very slow-moving gray Toyota last week.

Things I Want (Or Need) To Know

Has the Super Bowl pre-game show started yet?

It’s not football, but are you on Team February or Team Febyouary?

Are garbage trucks designed to maximize the noise they make?

I have never seen the TLC reality TV show “Here Comes Honey Boo Boo,” but I have seen the promos and they make me ask, is it shown with subtitles?

There’s a book called ““Dreams of My Real Father”” that claims President Obama’’s real father was a poet named Frank Marshall Davis. The book also says that Mr. Davis was a communist and that the President’’s mother posed for nude photos some of which were published in fetish magazines. The book is controversial and you can find lots of material on the internet claiming to debunk it. I don’’t know whether anything in the book is true, but if Mr. Davis was President Obama’’s father, that would be proof positive that the President wasn’’t born in Kenya. Wouldn’’t it?

Do you think real estate in New York and San Francisco is expensive? Have you heard about the guy in Paris France who lived in a 17 square foot apartment with a ceiling slanted so he couldn’’t stand up everywhere in the room? The rent was 330 Euros or about $442 a month and he lived there for 15 years before running afoul of building codes that say an apartment must be at least 97 square feet and have a shower.

Someone has asked you at some time to “keep an eye out” for something or someone, haven’’t they? But, if you actually did take your eye out so you could keep it out, wouldn’’t that make it harder (rather than easier) to see?

Things I Know

I know a lot of businesses were hurt very badly as a result of Hurricane Sandy. One company, however, is reaping lots of benefits: Pain-In-The-Ass Inc., makers of robocalls.

Some newspaper websites have links at the end of their articles. Some of the links are to other articles in their paper and some links are even sponsored. So that’’s how I noticed that there is a lifestyle website called mydailymoment.com. I suppose some people will find it interesting, but I didn’t. However, it did leave me wondering if there is a website called mydailymovement.com for people obsessed with their colons and GI tracts. Thankfully, no.

It should be obvious to any professional writer that I write this blog solo, with no independent editor. I make the occasional mistake and once in a while I repeat myself without realizing it. I also repeat myself deliberately. You try writing a blog for going on five years without ever quoting yourself. The reason I bring this up is if you use WordPress to produce a blog you can’’t edit the entries forever. I don’’t know how far back you can go, but I wasn’t able to correct a mistake I made in an entry from three or four years ago. An editor would have caught it when I wrote it, but it took me a while.

Hey, maybe if I hit a big lottery jackpot I’’ll hire an editor for my blog.

In New York State, most village elections are pretty sedate. Some candidates run unopposed. I think I remember a story about a guy who won because he wrote his own name in and nobody else bothered to vote. I’’m not sure that was in New York. However, the election on March 19th in New York’s second-largest Village, Freeport seems like it’’s already contentious. It’’s been in the newspapers and on TV already and nominating petitions don’’t have to be submitted for another week or more.

Barrett-Jackson did sell that 1953 Willys Jeepster at their auction in Scottsdale AZ. They never responded to my email claiming there is no such thing and I didn’t hear what they said about it on TV because I didn’t see it sold on TV. I’’m recording the auction so I can fast forward through the parts I don’’t care about. It saves a lot of time over watching all the extensive coverage in real time. If you like cars, you have to go to that auction at least once in your life.

If you can’’t fly around on a broomstick, but you play Quidditch anyway, you are definitely a nerd. Or, maybe not, if you’’re too stupid to be a nerd.

Comment Policy

If you have your very own blog, here’’s something to watch out for. It may take a while because I’’ve had my very own blog for almost five years and this just happened to me.

I don’’t do anything to publicize my blog because I pay for the bandwidth myself, I don’t want to pay more, and I write this more to entertain myself than for any other purpose. Nevertheless, the number of hits I get each month has continued to grow. It’’s now around eight thousand. Also, the first time I ever Googled the phrase “”Things I Want (Or Need) To Know,”” I got 8 hits. Most recently, I got 899,000. I’’ve even had one re-post that I’m aware of.

I am entertaining myself, I have a few readers and I’’ve had three legit commenters (I’’d like more). Two of them are friends who also blog. In the third instance, I stayed at a nice hotel in South San Francisco, not far from SFO, two or three years ago and while there, I lost the battery cover off a radio I travel with. I asked the nice people at the hotel to look for it and if they found it to return it to me. They looked for it, found it and returned it. I went into my blog, said thanks and said they were nice people. I got a comment from management thanking me (more proof that they are in fact nice). Oaf that I am, I managed to delete that one instead of posting it. Sorry about that.

It’’s been a while since I last talked about how I handle comments. Recent developments dictate that I do it again. Last week, I got two complimentary comments from people who seemed to speak English as a second language. They seemed odd, because the comments were very general and came in response to something I wrote 14 months ago. Still, I published them. Who likes compliments? I do. Who knows the difference between compliment and complement? Not me, so I look it up each time I use either one. Now, I think that perhaps those two comments last week were from a spambot trying to see if the comments would be posted. If I’’m wrong about that, I’’m sorry and I will continue to publish comments similar to those.

The software I use to post this blog gives me a good idea where the hits come from and I’ve known for a while that some of my hits are from spambots. Why do I think that last week’s comments may be fake? Because after I posted them, I got another bunch of comments, all of which seemed like spam. So, I didn’t post those. If I should ever receive a comment that seems like Spam rather than spam, I won’’t publish that either, but I reserve the right to eat it.

If you read my blog, enjoy it or hate it, agree with it or disagree with it, feel free to comment. I doubt that I’’ll edit your comments although I won’’t allow flaming. I know that spambots don’’t actually read blogs, but just for the record, all comments on this blog are moderated. If a comment seems like spam to the panel of judges I use to vet these things, it won’t be posted. The panel of judges consists of me. Decisions of the judges are arbitrary and final: It is, after all, my blog.

Things I Know

You’’re thinking Miss America shouldn’’t be from New York; she should be from some southern state. But it’’s okay. The new Miss America, formerly Miss New York, was raised in Alabama.

New York City may have the strictest handgun control laws in the entire USA, but cannon control is a different story.

I guess Barrett-Jackson isn’’t going to change the listing on lot 849 for their auction that starts today in Scottsdale AZ. It’’s for a 1953 Willys Jeepster and there isn’’t any such thing. They do have a picture of it up now and they didn’’t acknowledge my email about it. But on another auction site, the sellers explained that it was first sold and titled in 1953, hence the appellation. I don’’t know when the car will go across the block, but I’’d like to hear what they say about it on TV. Maybe I’’ll try to record the entire auction. I can’t sit there and watch it all as it happens. I went once, a few years ago, and had a great time. It took me two days to see what I did see and I could have stayed another day, but just going was one of the many things Saint Karen puts up with in order to be married to me. Putting up with me so well and for so long is what qualifies her for sainthood in my book.

I won’’t be hurried through my doctor’’s appointment because you’’re 15 minutes late for the first appointment of the day. I was on time and I didn’t overbook. So, don’t try to rush me through: I won’’t stand for it.

So, I went to the Hayden Planetarium in Manhattan the other day. Actress-comedian Whoopi Goldberg narrates the sky show these days. I wondered why. She reads fine, but she’’s not acting really and she’’s not funny in it. Maybe, because I was once air talent, I found myself distracted by the fact that she has an accent and a slight sibilant s (but I suppose the sibilant could be caused by the microphone). As much as I like her in other roles, I thought a more experienced narrator would be better at narration. My wife suggested that perhaps she was chosen because she played a character named Guinan in the Star Trek Next Generation TV series. Maybe.

If you go to the sky show at the Hayden Planetarium, you will be impressed, but don’’t sit in the front row unless you like having a crick in your neck. The visuals are spectacular, but I found the sound track too loud.

The planetarium is attached to the American Museum of Natural History. Mike, a security guard at the American Museum of Natural History is the most gregarious and friendly guy I’ve met in a long time. I enjoyed talking to him.

I have to imagine that when the Museum of Natural History was established museum exhibits were quite different. I say that because a different building would make it a lot easier to take pictures of the exhibits, especially the dinosaur skeletons.

I haven’’t been there in a long time and the T-Rex skeleton is now a lot less imposing in stalking mode than it was when they had it reared up at full height.

I go to Manhattan maybe once or twice a year, so I don’’t use the subway much. I expected that when I went up to street level at the 50th Street stop I’’d be at 50th Street, but I wasn’t. I was at 48th St.

More and more of the websites I visit have autoplay videos on them these days, and I HATE autoplay videos.

I have a great idea for a new reality show on the Travel Channel. I don’’t have a title for it, but the idea is you have a bunch of contestants cook for Andrew Zimmerman (the host of “Bizarre Foods”). Whichever contestant cooks food that Zimmerman eats the most of (or likes the best) gets eliminated, until the last contestant standing is the winner.

My blog received a nice comment from someone this week. I wasn’t certain what prompted it though because it was attached to a blog entry from over a year ago. If you have a comment, I’’d like to hear from you too.

Things I Want (Or Need) To Know

When do you take down your Christmas decorations? Or do you leave them up all year?

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This year, trying to look organized, I took ours down on January 7th. Yes, I am bragging.

Have you seen the TV commercial for Progressive Insurance where a guy is juggling three chain saws? Would it surprise you if Progressive doesn’t issue policies that cover chain-saw juggling?

German philosopher Friedrich Nietzsche said, “That which doesn’t kill us makes us stronger.” So how come you start losing strength many years before you die?

Have you heard the radio commercial for ROKU, the inexpensive device to make your TV Internet enabled? My daughter has one and she likes it. I have nothing against the device, but I think the commercial is strange. It suggests you should sit around and watch TV while other people achieve important things. Is that a selling point? And anyway, some of the things they suggest others will achieve have already been achieved. Mars rover? Been there, done that. Battery-powered battery charger? The have those. I can even charge my cell phone from my laptop.

Veal, meatball and chicken Parmesan. Why are they called that when they have Mozzarella cheese melted all over them, not Parmesan cheese?

Speaking of cheese, since the people who make Cheez Whiz spell cheese the way they do, why do they spell whiz correctly?

Things I Know

I’’ve already alerted Barrett-Jackson about an error on their website for their upcoming Scottsdale AZ auction, but I thought I should alert you as well. To the best of my knowledge, there’’s no such thing as a 1953 Willys Jeepster. They have one listed as lot 849. That might explain why there’’s no picture of the vehicle on the website. So far, Barrett-Jackson has neither changed its website nor acknowledged my email. This particular car was sold at the Silver Car Auction in Reno NV last August where they also listed it as a 1953, but in the text of the ad, they also called it a ’48 and said they were calling it a ’53 because that’s when it was first sold. I still say fewer than 20,000 were made between 1949 and 1950 and the last ones were sold as ’51 models. I also still maintain there’s no such thing as a 1953 Willys Jeepster. I wonder if the owner is really selling this car at Barrett-Jackson in Scottsdale. There’’s no picture on the Barrett-Jackson website and the car is also listed for sale in another company’s auction in Palm Springs in February.

Since I’ve ranted in this space before about strange choices in music used to produce commercials, let me say here and now, if I made Cheez Whiz, I’’d hire Carla Thomas to sing in my ads.

I don’t know why I didn’t think of this before. The light switch just inside the door to my den has always been hard to locate in the dark. Today, I installed a switch with a little light inside of it. It’’s so easy now. Problem solved.

If I ran amazon.com, I wouldn’t know what I’’m doing, but in my opinion, whoever put together their search function doesn’’t either. I searched the recommendations they made for me for computers. I got only 15 items, one of which was a netbook. None of the other recommendations were computers of any kind and the netbook was #6.

Another issue with Amazon.com’s search function. I looked for electric can openers. I sorted the results by average customer review. Only one item on the first page was an electric can opener. Two of the first three listings wouldn’t open cans at all.

On the other hand, some Amazon.com customer reviews are absolutely priceless. You’’ve got to check these reviews out: hilarious!

Hormel, makers of Spam the meat (or is it meat byproduct?), has announced plans to buy Skippy peanut butter, not a jar, the whole company. That makes me afraid you’’ll soon be able to buy pre-made peanut butter and Spam sandwiches in your local supermarket.

You’’re not supposed to pay retail for camera equipment and hardly anybody ever does. Nevertheless, if you own even a semi-elaborate camera, you’’ll never have any trouble coming up with ways to drop several hundred dollars.

There’’s a running joke in my family about plot development. Saint Karen (who has to be a saint to put up with me) likes soap operas and I don’’t. Sometimes, we’’ll sit in the living room and she’’ll be watching a soap while I’’m ignoring the TV and surfing the Internet. Someone on the soap will ask another character in what some would call a very dramatic manner (but I call over-acting) why they did something. I’’ll look up from my computer screen and say, “”Plot development.”” Over the years, my whole family has come to give those two words as an answer to why lots of things are going on either in entertainment or in real life. One of the soaps did it again and I said, “”Plot development,”” again and then I said that just once I’’d like a character on a soap opera to say, “”Plot development,”” too right there on the TV screen, during the show and without breaking character. We both think that would be funny.

Things I Want (Or Need) To Know

This isn’’t a question, but since it’’s my first blog post of 2013, the Sisyphus Project is copyright 2008-2013.

Is there a way to get a refund for unused credit from Google Voice? Most Google Voice services are free, but there’’s a small charge for overseas calls. From where I live to Shanghai, for example, costs two cents a minute. When my son and daughter were in Shanghai in 2009, I paid ten dollars in advance for the charges I would incur. But I didn’’t use it all up before they both came back. So Google Voice has had a small amount of my money for a year and a half. I’d like it back, but if there’’s a way to get it, I couldn’’t find it. I’d even be happy if I could transfer the credit to Google Music.

If someone wants a new car at Christmas time, can they get anything they want, or does it always have to be a Lexus?

Have you seen the new commercial for the Google Chrome web browser? As a music bed, it uses Louie Lymon & the Teenchords’ recording of “I’’m So Happy.”” If you were 15 when that recording was made, you’re 72 now. It makes me wonder again about the science of advertising, because I I’’m guessing the music bed distracts at least some older people who might otherwise pay attention to the commercial and I also think it might make some younger people change the channel. So, I repeat a question I’’ve asked before in similar circumstances: who exactly are they marketing to anyway?

Did you get what you wanted for Christmas? The instructions for the elaborate flash unit my wife bought me are 39 pages long. I have some reading to do.

Around this time of years, the military sends video recordings to TV stations of soldiers from the station’s’ areas who are stationed in a war zone and sending holiday greetings back home. Some stations run them and some don’’t, so you may never have seen them. All the ones I’’ve seen this year address their families and wish them “happy holidays.” I have no objection to that phrase. I celebrate Christmas, but you can celebrate whatever you want and I hope you both celebrated and enjoyed. However, if you’’re speaking directly to your family, shouldn’’t you know what holidays they celebrate? If you do, why not be specific?

Things I Know

Happy New Year.

I’’m enjoying the special New Year’’s Eve programming on Speed Channel: a rerun marathon of last January’s Barrett-Jackson classic car auction.

When I wished Rachel from Card Holder Services would stop calling me, I should have been more specific. Apparently there’’s a new woman voicing the robocalls, and what I really meant was I wish nobody from Card Holder Services would ever call me again.

Former California governor Arnold Schwarzenegger has a new, heavily advertised movie opening soon: It’’s called “”Last Stand.”” In it, he plays a sheriff. I can’’t be the only person who hopes there’’s a British guy somewhere in the movie who keeps calling him governor.

I had a problem with a Sansa Clip Zip. It started acting unpredictably with a micro SD card in it, differently depending on which card. The folks at Sansa were pretty good about taking it back and replacing it.

I’’m making a lot of progress: I used to just have trouble going to sleep, but now I also have trouble staying asleep.

Facebook recently suggested I might know Olivia Newton John: I don’’t. I understand that some of the recommendations are based on career or mutual friends, but I have no idea where that one came from. Maybe left field.

If you want to keep your sliced lemons and limes from turning brown, try rubbing the cut surfaces of the citrus with the freshly cut surface of an apple.

Christmas Presents

This Christmas, I got a Canon 430 EX II flash to go with my semi-fancy Canon DSLR. I also have two zoom lenses for the camera. The reason all this is just semi-fancy is I have a semi-pro camera body, not a super-duper one. It’’s not the best Christmas present I ever got; maybe it’’s second though. First, is the joyous reaction I got from my wife on Christmas Eve so long ago she wasn’’t my wife and she hadn’’t even been canonized as Saint Karen yet (she has to be a saint to put up with me).

I got her an engagement ring and while she was not surprised, she was thrilled. I wasn’’t surprise either, when she said, “”Yes.”” And I don’’t know if I was delighted or thrilled; maybe both. The reason I say she was thrilled is we went to midnight mass and she sat in church, holding the ring toward various light sources to see it sparkle. I was thrilled watching her sparkle too.

I don’’t really remember being overjoyed at receiving any toy from my childhood, but I do remember two Christmas presents I wanted very much, one of which came as no surprise and the other of which was both great and awful.

No surprise: I wanted barbells for Christmas. I thought, mistakenly as it turned out, that I could and would use them to turn myself into a sleek, muscular specimen. My dad had what we now call COPD, a very bad case of it. He couldn’’t do much in the way of physical labor. My mom came home one night and asked me to bring a box from the trunk of her car into our house. The box was no bigger than a foot on a side, but it was the heaviest thing you can imagine in a box that small. What’’s that? Weight plates for a barbell set. It’’s not easy to gift wrap the bar for a barbell set, but my help wasn’’t needed to get that into the house. Still, if you should receive a one-cubic foot box that weighs 100 pounds or so, it’s probably plates for a barbell.

Great and awful: At a time when very few people had home tape recorders, my Uncle George had a nice one, and, he let me use it when I was at his house. But, he lived 60 miles and three tolls from me and I was too young to drive. I wanted one of my own. I told my parents that while Uncle George’s recorder was a good one, newer models of the same brand had a reputation for unreliability. But I was a teenager, so what the heck would I know? My folks bought me a tape recorder, the unreliable model of the same brand Uncle George owned. When I opened the box, the case was cracked. It did work, but the case was cracked. I got the cracked piece replaced, but my machine was at least as unreliable as its reputation. I had it repaired again, and again, and again until I got tired of the effort and became a broadcaster so I wouldn’’t have to pay for tape recorders anymore.

I hope you were pleased with whatever you got for Christmas, or at least pleased with the thought behind it. The thought is, after all, what counts. I also hope you have a great New Year celebration. I won’’t be in Times Square on New Year’s. When my dad was a cop, he hated that duty so much he passed that distaste on to me and I’’ve never had any desire to go.

Things I Know

Click this link and scroll down the page past the wrist watch to see a mechanical worm made in 1820 which sold recently for about $415,000!

You should leave your Christmas lights up until the 12th day of Christmas. No cheating and taking them down this week or on New Years Day.

Some year, I’’ll put up my Christmas lights (or at least test them) in time to get replacements for the ones I discover aren’’t working well anymore.

One of the reasons I like the movie ““Miracle on 34th St.”” so much is that as a kid I wanted a fire truck that squirted real water too. I remember looking at one in a toy store, but I don’’t remember if I ever got one.

One of the reasons I dislike the colorized version of the movie ““Miracle on 34th St.”” is that the colors are too warm. Another is that there are places in the movie where the interior shot is in color, but you can see through the window that a black and white world exists outside.

I found out when I plugged in my Christmas lights that both electrical outlets on my front porch were dead. When I went to replace them, I also discovered that the circuit breaker labeled by my electrician as controlling the outside outlets doesn’t control them. I don’’t know what that one does, but the one labeled ““Living room ceiling fan” does control the outside outlets. It also controls the living room ceiling fan and frankly, that surprised me. So don’’t depend on the labels, test the circuit too.

If you are replacing GFCI outlets, you will probably need to reset them after you turn the power back on and before they start working. That bit of information may save you from a panic attack some day.

It would be nice if you could replace a light switch or an outlet using only one screw driver. I needed three different sizes for my GFCI’s.

As long as we’’re talking electricity, I had a three-way CFL bulb in the lamp where I usually sit to read. It’’s been crackling for a few minutes when I turn it on for months now. Today it stopped doing that when it burned out and tripped my #5 circuit breaker. That breaker also controls the TV in my living room, so I don’’t know if Ralphie shot his eye out this year or not.

Those CFL bulbs, by the way, don’t last in my house anywhere near as long as the literature suggests they should.

Patti celebrated her birthday a week ago today. She’’s one of two girlfriends I had in my youth whose birthday I recall. Well, I was 19 when I started dating my wife, so one of three. I remember Patti’’s because of difficulty. Her birthday is a week to the day before Christmas. When I was 16 years old, I had to come up with two presents for a 15-year-old girl in one week. Difficult!

Cookies

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I don’t do elaborately decorated Christmas cookies. Chocolate chips are fine for me. My recipe for holiday turkey is obviously a joke, but my recipe for chocolate chips isn’t. I start with the recipe on the back of the package of Nestle’s chocolate morsels. The recipe calls for 3/4 cups of white sugar and 3/4 cups of light brown sugar. Instead, I use 1-1/2 cups of dark brown sugar. If I have it in the house, I’ll add a tablespoon of heavy cream to make the end product more chewy.

Things I Want (Or Need) To Know

In the wake of the horrendous school shooting in Newtown CT., can we please concentrate on the innocent children and the heroic school personnel who lost their lives like Dawn Hochsprung and Victoria Soto? I’’d like not to direct any attention or notoriety toward the shooter who probably did what he did at least in part to spread his name all over the world.

When children play with their food, do they keep score? If they do, who wins more often, the kids or the food?

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

You never got that pony for Christmas and you never will because how can Santa possibly gift-wrap a pony?

I’ve told you some of my Christmas stories over the last several years. Do you have any you’’d like to share? Or Hanukkah stories, or Festivus stories, or stories from any other holiday that’’s celebrated this time of year?

Are what used to be known as broken families now the norm? Basically all of the made-for-TV Christmas movies I’ve seen this year are about single moms, widows, widowers, orphans, etc., and none of them about what we used to call nuclear families.

Things I Know

On Saturday, December 15, 2012, I watched a TV commercial that informed me there are 12 shopping days left until Christmas.

I hate to disagree with Michael Jordan, but tags on my Hanes underwear never annoyed me.

Handel’’s Hallelujah Chorus isn’t a Christmas song, but it’’s played a lot around Christmas time. As a teenager, most of my friends were in the high school chorus, so I can’’t listen to it without hearing the following three words,” ““Brillo soap pads.””

Bumper sticker seen on a Cadillac Escalade: “”Support your local repo man, —miss 2 payments.””

Never one to go out of my way to catch the latest releases, I watched “‘Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows”’ (both parts) recently. I saw them on TV, not in a movie theater, but large parts of the movies were so dark that I couldn’t really see what was going on and might as well have listened to them on the radio. I guess I’’ll have to read the books if I want to understand what happened.

So, Billy uses his Dell Ultrabook to take a picture of the sky and sends Charlotte the jpeg as a present for the holidays. He also sends a recording of his voice saying, “Happy holidays Charlotte.” First, I know it’’s the thought, not the gift that counts, but sending your girlfriend a jpeg as a present is mighty cheap. Second, if you were dating Charlotte, wouldn’’t you know whether she celebrates Christmas, Hanukkah or Festivus?

Alabama did win the SEC football championship (of course), so the Crimson Tide will face the Fighting Irish in the BCS championship game on January 7 and my son was wrong, the Tide’s season didn’t end with the Texas A&M loss. This is a tough one. My grandmother was one of those Irish immigrants who rooted for Notre Dame even though she never went to college and didn’t even know anyone who went to Notre Dame. I do know two Notre Dame graduates, however, my son and one of my nieces are Alabama alumni, so Roll Tide.

The Inflationary Blueberry

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If just one blueberry costs $2.79 at my local greengrocer, think how much a whole pie will cost. This kind of pricing makes me glad I have six blueberry bushes in my back yard, but the price of berries will probably go down before my bushes start to bear fruit again next July.

Things I Want (Or Need) To Know

Who is this Fiscal Cliff guy who’s mentioned in every TV newscast these days and why is everyone afraid of him?

What do you want for Christmas? Or since it starts this weekend, what do you want for Hanukkah?

At Christmas time, the airwaves abound with commercials where someone says, ““He went to Jared,”” when some guy buys some romantic jewelry for his girlfriend. Okay, but wouldn’’t, ““He went to Tiffany’s,”” be even more romantic?

There’’s another TV spot for TD Ameritrade, an on-line stock broker. The commercial, apparently designed to appeal to active adults, features a sky diver. It also features a music pad that comes from a TV show from 1955, once again prompting the question: what demographic are they trying to sell to anyway?

While walking along the sidewalk the other day I passed a tanning salon. In the window, they had a big poster of a pretty young woman in a white bikini getting a spray tan. If you wore a white bikini to get a spray tan, wouldn’t it stain the suit? And, if the spray tan doesn’t come off of you in the ocean, would it come out of the bathing suit in the wash?

Why does Bed Bath & Beyond even put expiration date on those 20%-Off-One-Item coupons they distribute everywhere? I used one on Tuesday that expired about 19 months ago.

Did you hear about the terrible crash between a parade float and a freight train in Midland Texas in November? Several people on the float were killed. I don’’t know what other contributing factors were involved, but it serves as a reminder that you should never pull on to railroad tracks if you don’’t have room on the other side to move off the tracks immediately.

Rutgers has agreed to join the Big 10 athletic conference, becoming its 14th member and raising the question, isn’t it time for the Big 10 to change its name?

Things I Know

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

New Powerball Plan

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

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

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

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

Thanksgiving

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

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

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

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

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

Things I Want (Or Need) To Know

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Things I Know

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

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

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

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

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

About Love

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

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

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

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

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

Things I Know

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Today I got a call in Spanish. I know a few words of Spanish, but the recording didn’t use any of those. At the end of the message a voice in English came on and said, “To repeat this message, press any key.” If I understood the message, I would be unlikely to understand the tag line and vice-versa, so that call made no sense at all to me.

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

Sandy

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

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

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

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

Things I Know

Don’t walk around outside in the hurricane-force winds of Hurricane Sandy or any other big storm. It’s not that the wind is blowing: It’s what the wind is blowing.

Advice for surviving the storm: You might be able to read a book by candlelight, but you can’t charge your Kindle with a candle.

Many years ago I made a parody radio commercial for an election campaign. It was a joke. We didn’’t actually put it on the air. But I think people are running commercials just like it now, only for real. My parody said, ““Vote for me because my opponent is a son of a bitch and I’’m a really swell guy.”” I worked in that field for many years, but I’’ll be so glad when the election is over.

I don’’t check the statistics on this blog often. In fact, I hardly ever do, but I’ve recently learned that I’’m up to about seven-thousand visitors a month. That’s pretty good considering that I’’ve never done anything to promote the Sisyphus Project. If anyone other than Richard cares to comment on anything we write here, commenting is encouraged.

At any given moment, lots of people who are in Washington D.C. are tourists. It’’s reasonable to assume that most of those will probably want to leave sooner or later. In order to facilitate leaving, especially for those people headed north, I strongly suggest that a few additional signs directing drivers to the Baltimore-Washington Parkway would be most welcomed. There are a few signs on the road I was driving, but the signs ran out before I got to where I was supposed to turn.

Also for the tourists in DC, illuminating the exit signs in the I-395 tunnel and repainting whatever it used to say that was once painted on the roadway there would probably help the flow of traffic too.

I recently returned from Florida which I determined suffers from an over-abundance of traffic circles, or as they call them, “roundabouts.” However, traffic circles in Florida work the same way they do in most of the civilized world. In our nation’s capital, there is a traffic circle that interrupts the ride from Arlington National Cemetery to the Memorial Bridge and onward to the Lincoln Memorial. In that traffic circle, cars entering the circle have the right of way over those vehicles already in the circle.

My hypothesis that everybody drives 75 miles an hour on the New Jersey Turnpike whenever traffic conditions permit seems to have been bolstered. I was doing 75 in a 55 zone and a state trooper came up behind me with his red and blue lights on and then passed me. Being passed by a cop car when you’re speeding is one of the best feelings in the world.

I am every bit as ashamed of the Boy Scouts of America for covering up adult leaders suspected of child abuse as I was for the Catholic Church doing the same thing for priests. When confronted with evidence of child sex abuse, the correct response is to report it to the authorities and press for prosecution. I am concerned about the release of all these records though for one reason: perhaps a few of the allegations are unfounded.

Bad PR move on the part of Delta Airlines. Five passengers traveling from New York City to Albuquerque NM via Atlanta were late arriving at the gate for the Albuquerque flight because the flight from New York was late. The plane was still at the gate and Delta would not open the doors and let them board. Why was it a bad PR move? One of the five was famed author of books for teens, Judy Blume, who happens to have something like 75 thousand followers on Twitter.

I always say that if you live long enough all prices become ridiculous, but I don’t think that’s the reason I’’m not looking at either of the $61,000 used cars currently for sale at the dealership nearest to my house.

One more thing about driving a convertible. For obvious reasons, the only tool you would need to steal something out of the passenger compartment is a utility knife to cut the top if it’’s up. The Chrysler 200 convertible I rented recently had a trunk release button on the dashboard, —no key needed. So if you don’’t need a key to get into the trunk either, don’’t leave anything of value in the car period.

On HBO the other day, I saw a documentary called “41.” It’’s about former president George H.W. Bush. In the documentary, he seems like a very decent man. I had the pleasure of interviewing President Bush on TV for an hour before he was President, when he was Chairman of the National Republican Party. At that time, all those years ago, I got the same impression.

Steak bones splinter easily, so I carefully chew the meat off the steak bones myself instead of giving them to the dog. Hey, someone has to make the sacrifice.

Money laundering is illegal. Even so, I doubt that I’’ll get in trouble for the 45 cents I mistakenly put through the washing machine this afternoon.

While in Viera, Florida a couple of weeks ago, I came across a car which was oddly decorated in red, white and blue, including a decorative plate where the front license plate would go if they had those in Florida. The plate said, “American Patriot.” Because the car was made in Korea, I found it ironic that the Mr. American Patriot’s car was a Hyundai.

Poetry

Thoughts on Driving North on the Jersey Turnpike
With Apologies to Joyce Kilmer and Ogden Nash

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I think that I shall never see
A service area lovely as a tree
Even if it’s named after me

EDITOR’S NOTE: I know I’ve put this poem in this blog before, but I didn’t have the picture then.

Things I Want (Or Need) To Know

Can anyone tell me when the Yankees were last swept in a post-season series? I don’’t recall. It was probably the 1963 World Series which was worse because it was the World Series, not the ALCS. I’’m actually quite surprised that even though he’s been dead for quite a while, we haven’t heard from George Steinbrenner about this. George must be spinning in his grave. Am I right?

You’’ve cleaned out the lint filter on your clothes dryer, haven’’t you? So, have you ever wondered why your clothes don’’t eventually disappear if you put them in there often enough? And, since they don’’t, where does all that lint come from anyway?

While watching the Washington Nationals and the St. Louis Cardinals play game five of their division series last Friday night, I thought of something I should have asked about years ago, many years ago. Why do the Cardinals’’ road uniforms include blue hats? Have you ever seen a blue cardinal?

Why does Advair runs commercials in which the medicine to ease breathing difficulties talks about employing a bronchodialator? I know that’s the right word and I know it’’s not missing a letter “i”, but whenever I hear it, I can’t help wondering why I would need medicine to make my horse open wider.

Things I Know

I like baseball more than the next guy, but baseball games from noon to almost 1:00 AM on Sunday, with one of the games starting at 9:00 AM local time for fans of the Oakland A’s is a bad job. I didn’’t even realize that the noon game was being played. The other games overlapped each other too. Playoff games take longer than regular season games and both MLB and the TV programmers know that so Sunday’’s schedule was terrible.

The schedule for the first round playoffs is also terrible. The team with the home-field advantage doesn’’t get that advantage until what might be the deciding game at which point, to take advantage of the home-field advantage, they have to win three in a row. I’’m guessing, however, that fans of the Oakland A’s are feeling better today about home-field advantage than they were on Sunday night.

I have another great idea for a new invention with no idea how to invent it: tomato slices that stick to bread, so they won’t slide out of my sandwich and on to my lap while I’’m trying to eat my sandwich.

The cell phone company known as Sprint is offering handles as phone numbers. In addition to your number, you’ll soon be able to register a handle which will connect with you if someone dials ** and then your handle. So, for example, if your name is Catherine, you might be the first to register **Cathy. I’’m sure that the handles **Maybe and **Ishmael will be among the first handles snapped up.

Eat bacon while you can still afford it.

Several towns on Long Island either have or are considering outlawing planting bamboo. It’’s really very invasive, so that’’s probably a good idea in a suburban setting. I wouldn’’t mind if they outlawed Wisteria too. We were in Florida a couple of weeks ago and saw some things that would no doubt terrify those same Long Island town boards: bamboo plants that grow something like 20 feet tall.

Back from Florida, I’’ll be happy not to see any traffic circles, or as they call them roundabouts, for a while.

My Google Voice number doesn’’t play well with my cell phone. Why? Because when I forward a call to my cell phone, Google Voice wants me to press a number to receive the call or send it to voice mail and when my cell phone receives a call, it doesn’’t bring up the dial pad.

I never argue with anyone about religion or politics. Here’s why. When I was sixteen years old, I was madly in love with a 15-year-old girl. We argued a lot, mostly about religion. She didn’’t convince me of anything: I convinced her to find a different boyfriend. There are a few things it’’s extremely hard to change someone’s mind about. Politics and religion are two of them.

It’’s a little over four months until pitchers and catchers for my Mets. Late in the 2012 season, they announced they would retain their manager and all of their coaches. I hope they do not also retain their entire major league roster.

Car Rental Again

I didn’’t say it outright, but in my blog on September 28th, I implied that I’’d consider a Camaro convertible more similar to a Mustang convertible than the Chrysler 200 I received when the rental car company said they offered Mustang convertibles or similar. I’’ve educated myself a little more and while I don’’t consider the Chrysler and the Mustang very similar, I can see one key factor that makes the rental car companies regard the Mustang and the Camaro convertible to be dissimilar. The Chrysler is a little less costly than the Mustang: the Camaro is more expensive than the Mustang. If you were the car rental company, which one would you consider similar to the Mustang? Yeah, if I was the car rental company, I would too.

I’’ve got to say also that in that price range you can argue none of the few convertibles made are very similar to each other.

I didn’’t single out the car company I rented from, because I consider the dissimilar-similar exchange an industry-wide problem. If you searched my blog for the term, “or similar” you’’d see I’’ve ranted about that before. However, I did post on the rental car company’s Facebook page that while there was nothing wrong with the Chrysler, I considered it inferior to the Mustang, not similar.

Did you know that if you post on a Merchant’s Facebook page and they respond, you have to go back to look for the response? Facebook didn’’t tell me that the company had responded, so it took me a while to realize it had. Their social media team invited me to email details which I did on Friday.

On Saturday, I heard from a manager for the company. We had a good phone conversation. I didn’’t expect any refund or free ride the next time I travel. I did accept the car and drove it about a thousand miles in a week after all. He did agree with some of the points I made and also said that in the future if I’’m dissatisfied with what I’’m offered I should ask for a manager. He even gave me his contact information so I can ask for him if I travel to Orlando FL again.

My son has a different strategy with car rentals and he worked briefly for Enterprise some years ago. He says when he travels he reserves the least expensive car available. He calls it “four wheels and an air conditioner.” He figures they won’’t have many of those and chances are they’’ll have to give him a free upgrade.

While I didn’t single out the company that says Chrysler convertibles and Mustang convertibles are similar I was impressed with the way that company’s Facebook page works and with the way I was listened to and treated on the phone by that manager in Orlando. So, I should single out the company that performed the good customer service. It was Alamo. I don’’t always rent from the same company, but I have rented from Alamo before in several locations across the country. With the kind of customer service I received this time, I will probably do so again.

Things I Want (Or Need) To Know

I’’ve been saving up some of these questions for a while because I’’ve been on vacation.

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Is it alright to buy odds and ends separately, or can you only get them together?

After doing the laundry, I wondered why some of my underwear comes out of the dryer right side out, while none of my wife’s does.

With topless photos, bottomless too or so I’’ve heard, of the Duchess of Cambridge all over the Internet, one has to wonder about the state of security for the British royal family. If a photographer sitting in a tree or by the side of the road can capture photos like that, what’s to stop a sniper similarly situated from killing Prince William?

Insurgents in Afghanistan have said they’’re trying to kill or kidnap Britain’s Prince Harry. Why does he have to be in Afghanistan in the first place? And, since he is, why isn’’t his location being kept secret?

The Today Show had a big feature on Justin Bieber which made me wonder, if instead of Justin, his mom had named him Bucky Bieber, would he appeal to a much older demographic? And would he be known for his teeth rather than his hair?

Dina Lohan, Michael Lohan, Lindsay Lohan. Why does anyone pay any attention to any of them?

Things I Know

Having recently returned from the American south, I’’m reminded that “y’’all” is not the plural of the singular “you.” As you know in English, “you” is both singular and plural. Unlike what some southerners claim, “y’’all” is the singular form. The plural of “y’’all” is “all y’’all.”

Here are a few things I didn’’t get around to posting earlier because I was on vacation.

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Returning home on Southwest Airlines, the flight attendant said that if there was anything she could do to make the flight more comfortable we should ask. So, I asked her to make the plane a few feet wider.

Twenty people were trapped for hours on a ride at Knott’’s berry Farm in California earlier this month. It was the second time in two weeks that the ride got stuck. If I ever get stuck on a ride like that for four hours, nobody better stand under the ride. That’s all I’’ve got to say.

Almost everyone who pays attention to world events has heard of the film, ““Innocence of Muslims”” because it supposedly supplied the spark that ignited riots in the Middle East, one of which resulted in the death of four US diplomats, including our ambassador to Libya. If it weren’’t for the riots, almost nobody would have heard of the film. I also find it too much of a coincidence to believe that the riots on 9/11 were inspired by a film nobody heard of.

Just because Mitt Romney’’s fund-raising letters are too thick to go through my shredder unopened is no reason I should read them after opening them and before shredding them.

It is a word, I’’ve never seen or heard it used before. Even if it didn’t exist, it is implied by the word impervious. The word is “pervious.” It means permeable, something that will absorb water or allow it to pass through. I saw it on tcpalm.com, a news website of Scripps newspapers covering the southeast Florida area known as the Treasure Coast.

Rent and Bait and Switch

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Car rental companies are the worst bait and switch people I’’ve ever encountered. I’’m not going to specify the company, because in my experience, they’’re all like this. I reserved a Mustang convertible (or similar). I even paid in advance so you might think that I’’d get preferential treatment, but no. I got a Chrysler 200. Now that car is better than the last Sebring I rented. It’’s got a smoother engine and it doesn’t shake as much on rough roads. But I don’’t consider it similar at all.

The base model Chrysler is $800 cheaper than the Mustang, MSRP. It’’s heavier, but it has a four cylinder engine as opposed to the Mustang’’s six. The Chrysler has about 57% as much power, it’’s a lot slower and it gets slightly worse gas mileage too. It’’s hard to believe the Mustang has worse rear seat legroom because the Chrysler doesn’’t have much. I wouldn’’t be able to sit in back if someone as tall as me was driving.

Worse, the company was willing to rent me a Camaro hardtop for $15 a day more than the 2012 “Or Similar” convertible they did have for me because the Camaro is a premium car, implying that the Chrysler isn’’t. Now, I’’d consider that if it was a V-8 with a manual transmission, but it was a six with a slushbox. I do think the Camaro is pretty similar to the Mustang, except that it’’s $15 a day extra and it isn’’t a convertible, but they did have some of those.

In fact, I don’’t think they had any intention of providing me with a Mustang this week and I don’’t believe I’’ve ever gotten the car I reserved. Last year in San Francisco, I wanted a big Caddy sedan for its big trunk’’s ability to contain and conceal the stuff my son brought home from China. I got a Lincoln Town Car which is about as big, but the Town Car was really out of date technically to such an extent that Ford stopped making them at the end of that model year. Before I got the Town Car, they offered me a Caddy Escalade. I don’’t want an SUV on vacation because I want to keep my stuff out of sight in a car’s trunk and an SUV doesn’’t have one of those. Twice I reserved Jeep Grand Cherokees (not on vacation and in places I wanted four-wheel drive). On one of those occasions, I got a Chrysler Pacifica (not four-wheel drive) and on the other I got a Subaru Outback (four wheel drive, but smaller). Once I reserved a Chevy Blazer and got a smaller Mitsubishi SUV. I reserved a Nissan Altima and was offered a Dodge Magnum. The Altima’’s a sedan. The Magnum is a station wagon. That time I complained and got a Honda Accord. Again, they told me it was really an upgrade. So I guess they think that on a rental car a trunk is an upgrade. By the way, I’m not saying I have anything against the other cars. I’m just saying I don’t consider them similar to what the rental company advertised.

At least the Chrysler 200 (as inferior as I consider it to the Mustang) is the same body style. I’’d really like to know the ratio of advertised cars to “Or Similars” in each rental car fleet. I doubt that my rental car company of choice had any Mustang convertibles at the Orlando International Airport. Have you ever gotten the rental car that was advertised to you?

Things I Know

I’ve heard that this is the first years there will be no political speeches at the September 11th memorial ceremony at Ground Zero. Good.

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I just learned that I once knew President Kennedy’’s Harvard roommate. I also learned that the man passed away eight years ago. I went to elementary school with his children and I knew him a little when I became both an adult and a broadcast reporter. He was active in local politics and government. He was always very gracious to me and the only problem I ever had with him (since I was his children’s contemporary) is that he called me Tommy on the air.

The most interesting man in the world has more than one Facebook page. Seriously! If you go on Facebook and look up that phrase, you come to a Facebook page and there’’s also a separate one under Dos Equis beer.

One-A-Day vitamins sells a product called Vita-Crave. It’’s a chewable gummy vitamin. The label recommends you take two a day, which I find somehow counterintuitive.

““A pedestrian is a man with two cars, a wife and two teenagers.”” –George Romney (Mitt’s father)

Cans of white, high-gloss enamel exterior paint are my new screwdrivers. I’’ve already told you I own dozens of screwdrivers. I discovered today that I have three gallons of white, high-gloss enamel exterior paint. I won’’t be buying anymore at least for a while.

By this weekend, I should be finished with a five-gallon bucket of tan paint I bought a while back. I’’m never buying another five-gallon bucket of paint. Yes, it is a little cheaper than buying five one-gallon cans, but five gallons of paint are too heavy to lug around comfortably.

Things I Know

I have been a fiscal conservative for all of my adult life. I believe there are more fiscal conservatives in the Republican than in the Democratic Party. I also believe there are more people who have no regard for science in the Republican than in the Democratic Party and that both disappoints and disturbs me. As the late New York Senator Daniel Patrick Moynihan said, ““You are entitled to your own opinion. You are not entitled to your own facts.””

Thanks to MLB TV, I am reminded that Vin Scully still sounds great. Maybe he’s lost a step, but he is 84 years old.

Jerry Stiller is in a TV commercial for Capital One Bank. In it, he says, ““Instead of earning bupkus, your checking account could be earning five times the national average.”” Jerry, five times bupkus is still bupkus.

The latest TV commercials for Walgreens Drug Stores claim that Charles Walgreen invented the chocolate malted. Wow. To me that’’s a lot more impressive than creating a nationwide chain of drugstores. I wish I could be remembered for creating the chocolate malted, or even the coffee malted, which is also pretty damned great, as is the vanilla malted. I’’ll certainly be remembered for consuming more than my fair share of all three.

I also wish I had created reality TV. I mean, I said, “”Oh my God,”” many times before the phrase became a staple of television programming.

Some things bother me a little about home improvement TV shows. On the show “Hideous Houses,” I’’d suggest that the product placements from Sears are a little heavy handed. I lost count of how many times they mentioned Sears; beginning with the large, portable shade structure they erected to shade the work area. It says Sears on it in huge letters.

On the same show, the designer is painting without covering her long blonde hair or removing her dangling earrings. She’’s also painting in a nice sweater, good black slacks and knee-high, high-heeled boots. The clothes I wear when I paint are basically indistinguishable from paint.

On the other side of the coin, I saw a “Property Brothers” show in which the producers blurred out the Chevy bowtie emblem on the grille of the Chevy (I think it was a Traverse) belonging to the property owners. Once I noticed the bowtie blurred out, I paid attention to that instead of paying attention to the show. I don’’t know why they do that. Some for-profit college ran a commercial a while back that blurred out the Ford blue oval on the grille of an SUV and that also distracted me from the message of the commercial.

Things I Want (Or Need) To Know

““The Blues Brothers”” was on cable this morning. Just how many full-sized Dodge four-door sedans were harmed while making that movie anyway?

Has America really aged so much that the Fonz has replaced Fred Thompson as the spokesman in ads for reverse mortgages?

Why does the dentist give kids lollipops? Is it to ensure future business?

Have you seen the TV commercials that say there are lots of jobs in cyber-security so you should earn a degree completely on line from the University of Maryland University College? My daughter suggests that with such a name, perhaps the University of Maryland University College also offers a program where you can earn two degrees at the same time from the University’’s Department of Redundancy Department and that for each degree you can both major and minor in redundancy.

I’’ve read recently of several arrests for kiddie porn. It’’s good that the cops are finding these despicable people. But how do the despicable people find each other? I’’m not going to try to Google, “”buy kiddie porn,”” and the town where I live, but I presume the cops are doing that all the time as one way of looking for them.

In need of some fast food, I went to Arby’s. The woman behind the counter gave me a selection of sauce packets. My wife, Saint Karen (who has to be a saint to put up with me), knowing that I don’’t care for horseradish sauce, expropriated the packets of Horsey Sauce that I bought home. So I asked her, “”Other than our lifetime together and all the times I’’ve said it, what makes you think you can just take anything that belongs to me and use it as you please?””

Were you glued to the TV during the Olympics? I know that’’s the only way I would have watched the whole thing.

If you never know, why do we even have schools?

Are mums for sale in the supermarket the first sign of autumn?

Moon Man

RIP Neil Armstrong. He died at the age of 82. He was the first human being to set foot on the moon and so he was once the most famous person in the world or on the moon. But that was so long ago that when he died way more than half the people alive on earth were born after he did it. At one time everybody knew who he was, but when he passed away, most obituaries I saw took considerable space to describe who he was and what he did. At one time, that would have been completely unnecessary.

I was a reporter when it happened and when I was, this is the only press kit I ever kept. I still have it.

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Things I Know

With Tropical Storm Isaac becoming stronger, churning in the Atlantic and headed first for Haiti and then for the GOP Presidential Convention, I’’ve said for years that the best way to survive a weather disaster is to watch the Weather Channel, find out where Jim Cantore is and be someplace else. Matt Hardigree, writing on the website Jalopnik.com, has a more nuanced approach, but ultimately agrees with me.

Roker-Cantore Coverage Scale

Some Local Reporter On National News — All is well, relax
Al Roker — Minor inconvenience, you’ll be fine
Jeff Morrow — Better start moving stuff off your porch
Stephanie Abrams — Things are getting serious
Mike Seidel — Uh oh…
Jim Cantore — Prepare your body for the Thunderdome

Just as I returned from the pizzeria and set foot on the porch, my daughter came downstairs and opened the front door lending credence to her claim that she’s gifted with P.S.P.: Pizza Sensory Perception!

Prince Harry should know (and so should you) that if you don’’t want naked pictures of yourself on the Internet, you shouldn’’t get naked when there’’s a camera (or phone which is the same thing) around. In fact, I would not be at all surprised if there are more pictures of naked people on the Internet than there are people.

I usually recommend removing one’’s foot from one’’s mouth before shooting one’’s self in the foot. In Representative Todd Akin’’s case, however, I’’ll consider amending my position. “Legitimate rape,” indeed. President Abraham Lincoln is widely regarded as one of our greatest presidents. He said a lot of smart things. This is one of them: ““Better to remain silent and be thought a fool than to speak out and remove all doubt.””

Things I Know

I have to take issue with what Brian Williams said on NBC Nightly News when Phyllis Diller died. There was nobody like her even after she came along.

In case you missed the news, eating eggs is bad for you again. I’’m beginning to think the Woody Allen movie “Sleeper” was more than satire when he woke up and everything that everyone thought was bad for you when he fell asleep was now considered good for you.

Soon, very soon, Nike will be selling LeBron James sneakers for $315 a pair. I believe that if I had that kind of money to burn, I’’d get more satisfaction from burning it.

Public Radio is apparently trying to attract younger listeners. While listening to “Car Talk” on Saturday, I heard a promo for a show called “WTF.”

I am totally disinterested in football, so it should come as no surprise that I’’m already really tired of news about football on radio, TV and in newspapers and we’’re still in preseason.

I really like baseball, but it should also come as no surprise that I’’m really tired of hearing about the Mets too. I suppose I should be satisfied with what the Mets achieved in the first half of the season, since everyone (me included) thought they’’d be awful all year. But, if we can only have one good half season, just once I’’d like to see them be good in the second half.

With all the seeds each sunflower produces, it’’s kind of amazing to me that sunflowers have’n’t taken over the universe.

I cheat during public TV pledge week. I DVR any pledge programming I’’m interested in and fast forward through all the pledges. One of the funniest things I’’ve ever seen on TV was when Oscar the Grouch from Sesame Street declared that pledge breaks were his absolutely favorite TV shows.

I’’m sure there are non-franchise carpet cleaners who do a good job and there are probably also franchise carpet cleaners who don’’t. But I had Stanley Steemer in to clean the carpet in the bedroom today. They showed up when they said they would, did a good job, did it quickly and left.

I saw a blog post criticizing GOP vice-presidential candidate Paul Ryan for calling Social Security a Ponzi scheme, while he also attended college using Social Security survivor’’s benefits. There are plenty of things to agree or disagree with Paul Ryan about without attacking straw men. He was entitled to those benefits because his father died when he was 15. Social Security was less of a Ponzi scheme 25 years ago than it is today. And there is one significant difference between Social Security and a Ponzi scheme: Social Security is legal. But anyone who thinks there’’s a Social Security Trust Fund is delusional. If you are retired now, you have probably already collected what you paid into the system. People who are working now are paying for people who are retired now. People are living longer, a lot of people are out of work right now, the general population isn’’t growing all that fast, but thanks to the post World War II baby boom, the population of retirees is. Sounds like a Ponzi scheme to me. Ask an actuary, if you can afford that. Actuaries are paid very well. There are lots of issues to talk about in the presidential campaign. Could we talk about those instead of doing this?

Things I Know

I hope my bank pays attention to this. I have Internet service. When I call you, I don’’t want to know my balance. I can get that on your website, or from any ATM. I don’’t want to pay you over the phone either. I can also do that on your website. Good website, by the way. When I call you, I have a problem I can’’t resolve that way and I need to talk to a person. Please put me through to a person, or at least let me talk to a banker.

A week or two ago, when the Powerball drawing was for a $212-million first prize, I won! I only won $4, but I’’m not going to let that ruin my life. I didn’’t win the $337 million drawing this week, so don’’t call me asking for money.

Clearly, the cost of doing business has nothing to do with the price of a car rental. As another part of looking into taking a vacation I found that a $20-thousand car costs about $25 a day where I want to go. A $40-thousand car costs more than four times as much. My problem with rental car companies is they don’’t guarantee the type of car. I might lay out the money for a Mustang convertible, but they think a Sebring convertible is similar and I think a Camaro is.

My doctor was less than a half hour late for my appointment today. That’’s not good, but it’’s not awful either. I contributed to him being later for patients who came after me. He was in the mood to talk about politics and I indulged him.

I wish I had my camera at the beach the other day because while walking along the waterline, I saw two young women in different locations wading in the surf while yakking away on their cell phones. It would be funny if they were talking to each other.

Here’’s a product recommendation. Nobody’s paying me for it and it doesn’’t do you any good because they don’t make it anymore. I have a Grundig Yachtboy 400 radio. Maybe it’’s 15-16 years old and it was a very expensive radio when I bought it. The company that now sells Grundig radios bought the brand when the company that used to make them went out of business, so I don’’t know whether current radios are as good. However, I’’ve dropped this thing several times and I’’ve managed to sink it in water twice, once in a bathtub and once in a pail of water. It still works.

If you drop any electronic device in the water, take it out right away, remove any batteries (they’’re ruined) and cover the device in uncooked white rice. Leave it alone for several days. The rice will absorb moisture and maybe it will help save the device. But maybe it won’’t.

Rambo III is a very weird movie when viewed today, considering what’s happened in Afghanistan since the movie came out 24 years ago.

Things I Want (Or Need) To Know

My friend Richard once tried to figure out what he could search for that wouldn’’t return any results on Google. That leads me to wonder what’s the largest number of results possible if you search Google? I searched Google for the phrase “Things I Want (Or Need) To Know.” While I got almost 400-thousand hits, the ninth one wasn’’t about this topic in my blog. I also searched Google for the word Google and got almost 14-million hits. I was kind of worried that searching Google for Google might break the Internet.

If Curiosity is on Mars now, can it still kill cats here on Earth?

Why can’’t the TV content producers, cable TV companies and the DVR companies get their act together so that when you use the program guide to set the DVR to record something, the DVR doesn’t cut off the beginning, the end, or both?

If my doctor’’s office called me yesterday to remind me that I have an appointment tomorrow, would it be rude for me to call my doctor’’s office today to remind the doctor that he has an appointment tomorrow too? I mean, I’’m not the one who forgets these things.

How do you throw away a garbage pail?

Things I Want (Or Need) To Know

Mayflower Movers is running a TV ad in which they specify that one of the services they offer is to provide “portable containers.” Isn’’t that redundant? If the container isn’’t portable, isn’’t it called a building?

USA 156, Nigeria 73 in Olympic basketball. There are several questions we can ask here.

Was it sportsmanlike for the US to run up the score THAT much?

Does Nigeria have any business sending a basketball team to the Olympics if they’’re that outmatched? Based on that match, I was going to question whether basketball should even be an Olympic sport, but subsequent games have been more evenly matched.

Why does anyone watch the opening ceremony for the Olympics? I’’ll admit there might be elements of it that are interesting to someone. The speeches, for instance, are probably interesting to the mothers of the people who make them, but on the whole I find the ceremony boring. Plus, don’’t we already know that Greece finishes first in the parade, thereby winning the gold medal in parade?

I lost a tiny MP3 player. It’’s tiny; it’’s easy to lose even though it’s red. Plus, I’’m good at losing things. Whenever I lose something, my wife, Saint Karen (who has to be a saint to put up with me) asks me where I had it last. This always annoys me. It’’s one of the few things she does that annoys me. Why? Does she think I haven’’t asked myself that question? And, if I knew the answer to that question, whatever I’’ve lost when she asks it wouldn’’t be lost. Would it?

Is a 4G phone heavier than a 3G phone? Shouldn’’t it be?

According to Louis Freeh’’s investigation, Graham Spanier, Joe Paterno and other former high-ranking officials at Penn State covered up a child sex abuse scandal to preserve the reputation of the university and its football program. That’’s worked out really well, hasn’t it?

I found the MP3 player. It was in the last place I left it. But, I found it by looking for it, not by remembering where I put it. If I could remember where I left stuff, I’’d never lose anything, would I? As an aside, I discovered this week that I have another utility knife. This one’’s blue. I think that’s seven, but frankly, I’’ve lost count.

Things I Know

I didn’’t watch the Olympic 200 meter butterfly on TV. I figured it would scare me because even Mothra wasn’’t that big.

Who wins an Olympic event or the most Olympic events has nothing to do with whether one country is better than another. The older I get the more homerism on the part of the TV coverage bothers me.

The eight badminton players who were expelled from the Olympics were trying to win the whole tournament. If the rules of a tournament make it advantageous to lose a game or match in quest of overall victory, there’’s something wrong with the rules, not with the players and coaches who understand the rules.

There’’s also something wrong with the rules for the overall title in gymnastics. If there are 24 spots in the finals, they should go to the 24 best performances leading up to the finals and not be limited to two people from any given country. If the preliminaries don’’t determine who’’s in the finals, why have preliminaries?

Chick-Fil-A. The guy who runs this company is against gay marriage. He’s entitled to his opinion, even though I don’’t care who you marry. People who disagree with his politics are entitled to spend their money elsewhere. They’’re also entitled to organize opposition if they wish and as long as it’’s peaceful. Likewise, people are entitled to organize support. But when government leaders say they’’re going to keep that or any other company from locating in their areas because of its owner’’s political beliefs, that’s wrong. Maybe it’’s not unconstitutional because the first amendment applies to the federal government, not local zoning boards, but it’’s still wrong and against everything America has always stood for. Love who you want, eat what you want is my position.

A tourist from Spain was brutally attacked this week by a man wielding a hammer while sitting in Manhattan’s City Hall Park at 3:00 AM. I can appreciate that someone from Spain, whose body clock is on Spanish time, would be wide awake at 3:00 AM New York time. However, if you are a tourist anywhere in the world, you should find out whether an area is safe before being out and about at 3:00 AM. I don’’t think I’’d walk around in my suburban neighborhood, let alone in a New York City park at 3:00 AM and very few good things happen anywhere in public places at 3:00 AM.

More Taxes

I got a letter from the IRS. Ominous, I know. I made a stupid mistake on my tax return, filed an amended return, sent them more money and, as a result, I owed them some (but not a lot of) interest. They wanted me to pay them 4 cents more than they wanted me to pay them last month, because, according to them, I didn’’t pay them last month. But I did. I paid it right at the deadline, due to my incompetence, not due to trying to earn more interest on the money in my bank account. I really don’’t have that much money in the bank and interest rates are awful these days. I don’’t think you can even measure the interest I would have earned over that short period of time on $15.00. When I pushed the deadline, I did have the envelope hand-cancelled at the post office just to be sure I was okay.

Automated phone attendants are machines designed to let a computer give you information you didn’’t really need while keeping you from talking to a human being who could help you, for an extended period of time.

I was impressed that the notice from the IRS was dated a week after I received it. Even though I don’’t think they mailed it next week, that’’s still really efficient.  The automated phone attendant was impressively efficient too since it kept me from talking to someone who could help me for about half an hour. It did tell me the waiting time would me more than 15 minutes, so that was right too. I would, however, have chosen different music to play in my ear over a low-quality phone line, and if I had it to do over again, I’’d call from a speaker phone.

But, eventually, through perseverance, and a sore ear, I got to talk to a very pleasant woman at the IRS. She gave me her name and ID number. I was surprised that she gave her name because I’’ve worked in a couple of local tax offices where the people who answered the phone wouldn’’t. They didn’’t want people coming over to their houses and harassing them.

Anyway, the pleasant woman looked up my account, confirmed that they did receive the payment and said the notice must have crossed with the payment in the mail. She also said I do not owe the additional four cents. I, of course, wrote down her name, her ID number and the date and time she told me I was good to go. There are bad apples in any bunch, but this woman is positive example that negative stereotypes of civil servants are anything but universally applicable

I understand the IRS deals with a stunning number of people, so I’’m not really kvetching too much about the long wait to talk to someone who could help. The point I’’m making is the pleasant woman who could help did help. So, thanks to her and to the IRS. I’’m not going to share her name with you, but if anyone from the IRS is reading this and contacts me, I’’d certainly identify and praise her through official channels.

Things I Know

If you get a phone call and there’’s nobody on the other end of the line for several seconds, you’’re being called by an automatic dialing system that tries to anticipate when the human caller will be available to annoy talk to you. Unless you enjoy receiving telephone sales calls, you can probably hang up any time that happens.

Figuring out how to repair the flush valve on my toilet isn’’t satisfying for all the water I’’m saving. It’’s better because I didn’’t have to call and pay a plumber. To paraphrase the credit card ad, $7 to fix the toilet, priceless!

Nothing against plumbers though. I call a good one when what needs fixing is beyond my skills. And that good plumber is very odd. He returns phone calls and shows up pretty much when he says he will. He still charges a lot. I said he’’s very odd, not weird.

$6.90 for returning deposit soda bottles and cans: at five cents a pop, or soda, or beer, that’’s 138 cans and bottles. Either I have to take them back more often, or it’’s a good thing I own a truck.

The only attention I ever pay to professional or college football is when my son’’s alma mater wins a national championship (as in the last two years in a row, Roll Tide!). I played as a kid, but stopped when the other kids started getting as big as me. That being said, the NCAA penalties against Penn State hurt an awful lot of people who had nothing to do with the child sex abuse scandal at the University and nothing to do with covering it up either. The guy who did the crime is in jail. One of the cover-up guys (according to Louis Freeh’’s investigation) is dead. Others have lost their jobs. I don’’t know if they’’ll be indicted, but they probably will be sued and so will the university. As a result of the lawsuits, I hope the victims are compensated and I hope that compensation helps them. I approve of all that punishment, but what the NCAA did hurts the university, hurts students who play other sports that cost more than they earn, hurts other programs paid for from football profits and it hurts the local economy too because a lot of people who have been going to games won’’t go, won’’t stay overnight, won’’t eat in local restaurants. You get the idea.

And, while I’’m happy that my son’’s happy if Alabama wins, all of the SEC schools are among the colleges and universities I believe value football more than they should when compared with academics.

If your insomnia is as bad as mine, you may have seen the show ““Comics Unleashed.”” Judging from some of the topical jokes it’’s in reruns on Channel 2 in New York after Craig Ferguson’’s show. If you’’re looking for a good laugh, there’’s really no need to see it though.

I’’m kind of stoked that I could buy repair parts for an Andersen window more than twenty years old. Still, newer ones are a lot easier to take apart than that one is. I took it apart, fixed it and put it back together again, but if I took it apart another time or two, I’’m pretty sure I’’d break something. You expect product designs to improve and in the case of Andersen windows, they have. The old one I just fixed used balances and one of them broke after close to 25 years. The new ones don’’t use balances and it’’s a lot easier to remove the sashes than it used to be.

Twenty-one people were treated for burns on their feet after trying to walk on hot coals following a program by motivational speaker Tony Robbins. If twenty people ahead of me got burned trying to walk on burning coals, I would get out of the line myself. But that’’s just me. It probably wouldn’’t even take twenty.

I’’ve often wondered how kids survive between the time they stop being cute and the time they start being bigger than we are. This answer from the website jezebel.com may explain it. I believe a man named Doug Barry is the author although I’’m not entirely clear on that because the article I lifted the answer from is an aggregation of news items from elsewhere. ““. . . they say your brain releases crazy chemicals after you have kids to keep you from eating them when they get too heavy to carry and there aren’t any mastodons to hunt.”” I think that’s sarcasm, but it sounds like a real possibility to me as well.

Tax Everybody

President Obama has once again proposed eliminating Bush-era tax cuts, this time for people who make over $250,000 a year. There’’s plenty of room for agreement or disagreement. Yes, the government spends a lot more money than it takes in. You would too if you could print money legally. So increasing the government’’s revenues would help the situation, but raising taxes on those making over $250,000 while it would increase revenue would not offset deficits. In other words, taxing the so-called rich would not raise enough to pay for all the things we’’re already spending money on. Yes, many of the $250,000 income earners are small businesses that can create jobs if their profits aren’’t taken in taxes, but have you seen the job creation numbers recently? Job creation is very slow. And yes, there are plenty of things you or I may think the government wastes money on, but your lists and mine are probably different and the federal government wouldn’’t be spending the money if someone didn’’t want it to.

Then, there is the question of whether $250,000 a year is actually rich. I’’d certainly feel better off if my family income was that high, but I don’’t think I’’d feel rich; upper middle class, probably, but not rich. On the other hand, I live in one of the most expensive areas of the country, I have high property taxes, and a significant mortgage payment. If your house is paid off and you live in a low-cost-of-living area, then $250,000 a year would put you on easy street.

No matter how much sense I make, I’’m not going to resolve the issue here, so I won’’t try. It’’s an issue that will be argued endlessly between now and the November election. What I am going to do is muddy the water because I can, by talking about the other end of the spectrum.

It’’s already true that way fewer than half of the people pay more, way more than half the taxes. Is that fair? Well, way fewer than half the people have way more than half the money, so maybe. And those people with a disproportionate share of the money can use some of it to buy political influence. Some of them do just that. But the people who have less than half the money are in the majority, the overwhelming majority, in fact. And the overwhelming majority can vote for its self-interest if properly motivated. That’’s why certain people are screaming about class welfare.

One statistic that has come up in the tax argument really troubles me. Only 51% of the people in this country actually pay any federal income taxes. A few of the people who pay little or no federal income taxes are rich. Most of their income comes not from salary, but from investments and they pay capital gains taxes, the theory being that low tax rates on capital gains encourage investment and investment encourages the economy to expand.

A lot of the people who pay no income tax at all are not rich by any means. Still, it disturbs me that almost half of the people don’’t pay any federal income taxes. It would disturb me a lot more if more than half didn’’t pay.

Paying taxes does make people feel more a part of the government and the overall society. Not paying taxes does alienate people from those feelings. We’’re already at a point where far too many people feel civic virtue isn’’t a virtue and that civic responsibility isn’’t their responsibility. Someone go look up the contributing factors to the fall of the Roman Empire. You’’ll come across the Latin phrase, ““panem et circenses,”” or its English translation: bread and circuses. I think we as a society are tottering on the edge of that cliff and I don’’t want America as a society to fall over or worse, jump off.

So, whether we wind up increasing taxes on the rich, I propose we tax the poor, but because I used to be a PR guy, I am not going to call it that. I’’ll call it, ““Tax Everybody.”” Seems fair, right? No matter who you are or how much money you have, man, woman, child, citizen, resident alien, undocumented or illegal immigrant, if you’’re here on April 15th, under my proposal, you have to cough up at least $5. I’’d call it a minimum income tax, except we already have one of those and it doesn’t apply to everyone even though you might think it would. I propose that you have to pay this whether you have any income or not.

I don’’t have sufficient information to calculate whether that would raise enough money to pay for the things we’ve already bought for ourselves or obligated ourselves to pay for. I suspect it wouldn’’t, but we do know taxing the rich won’’t take care of that either. However, instead of barely half the people paying taxes, everyone (or more likely almost everyone by the time Congress gets done with it) would pay at least a token amount so everyone would be a little more connected to civic life.

Maybe it would help restore civic virtue and civic responsibility. Maybe it would cause more people to look to themselves to pay for their own bread and their own circuses. Maybe it would only set the doomsday clock of the collapse of America back a few seconds, I don’’t know. When my kids do something that isn’’t working, I always suggest they try something else. What we as a society are doing isn’’t working, so all I’’m doing is suggesting we try something else. I don’’t think it could hurt and it might help. So whether we wind up raising taxes on the rich or not, I suggest we tax everybody.

Sheer Irony

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I know everything at the ballpark is expensive, but $15 for a Po’ Boy sandwich at Citi Field strikes me as ironic. I’d say it’s delicious irony, but it’s ballpark food.

Update: My son reports in from another dimension and advises that, “It’s called a Po’ Boy because at those prices it makes you Po’.” That pretty much covers the name, doesn’t it?

Things I Want (Or Need) To Know

There’’s a pool company on Long Island called “Brothers 3 Pools” that advertises heavily on cable TV. In the ads, a young woman urges you to remember, ““My uncle makes them: My father sells them.”” Okay, but what does the third brother do? She’s been keeping us in suspense for years.

My friend Wes Richards asked the following question in his blog recently (see my blog roll to get to his blog) and since I want to know the answer too, I repeat it here: If you throw your hat into the ring, it means you’’re in it to win it. If you throw your towel into the ring, it means you quit. If you throw a white terry cloth hat into the ring, does it mean you’’re in and out at the same time?

Khloe Kardashian has a new baby named Penelope. That raises the question, how can you possibly pronounce the name Penelope as if it started with the letter K?

Why do dogs LOVE air blowing in their faces?

Google Voice is, among other things, an inexpensive and practical solution to making overseas calls from the USA. I used it frequently last year to call my son when he was in China for three months. But I haven’’t used it for that purpose in over a year and I don’’t know anyone else who’’s overseas right now. Does anyone know how I can get a refund for the $3.82 in credit that remains in the account? I’’d even be satisfied if I could use the $3.82 to buy music downloads from them.

If cows could laugh, would milk come out of their noses?

Nobody but the security guard works the graveyard shift at a cemetery, so why do they call it that?

Things I Know

Depending on whose count you believe, Republicans in the House have voted to repeal Obamacare 31 or 33 times. They know the bills they keep passing will not pass the Senate unless the next election changes the composition of the Senate. Whether you approve of Obamacare or not, the Republicans in the House of Representatives are not impressing me by taking over 30 votes on legislation they know won’t pass the Senate. I think they’’re turning off a lot more people than they’re impressing at this point, including people who agree with them about Obamacare.

You can buy malted milk powder on Amazon.com, either Carnation or Horlicks. Hell. You can subscribe to malted milk powder on Amazon.com, so you don’’t even have to remember to reorder it.

Now, if you could subscribe to chocolate ice cream through Amazon.com, you’’d really have something. What you’d probably have is chocolate soup, because the delivery company would most likely leave the ice cream to melt on the porch.

I’’ve talked before about the concept of a material difference in accounting. If you’re short a few pennies or even a few dollars (like three or four) on a very large amount of money, it’’s not a material difference, so it doesn’’t matter. Remember that two-billion-dollar trading loss J P Morgan reported a while back? Today the bank reported that the loss is actually $5.8 billion. That IS a material difference.

I don’’t have to go to a podiatrist often, which is good because when I go, it’’s usually for an ingrown toenail and the podiatrist pulls a sliver of my toenail out with a pair of pliers. The doctor does use a local anesthetic which is also good because it only leaves me thinking what an effective form of torture pulling your nails out would be, not experiencing it first-hand. Still it’’s bad because injections of local anesthesia are especially painfully for me.

Bob Kane was the artist who first drew the comic book hero Batman. I went to grade school with a girl who claimed she was related to Mr. Kane. I believed her because she knew who Bob Kane was even though she was a girl and because she had a pencil drawing of Robin signed by Bob Kane in her wallet.

I’’ve been calling my wife Saint Karen for quite some time now on the theory that she has to be a saint to put up with me. I don’’t know why I didn’’t think of this before, but you can buy a Saint Karen pendant or medal. I’’m going to do that, but not just yet. However, if you have need of a Saint Karen medal or pendant, please know that you should shop around. The price for what appears to be the same sterling silver item varies by a couple of hundred percent. The gold one costs about twenty times as much as the silver.

This is not a complaint about Andersen windows. It’s a complaint about a different guy. I like the windows enough to buy lots of them (I’m pretty sure I have 18) for the house I own that didn’t come equipped with them. However, I needed new balances for the oldest one I have. I think it’s the only one that uses balances. A local dealer gave me some hints for taking apart the window and told me he could order the necessary balances if I brought in the old ones or if I provided the information on the lower corner of the window pane, plus the size of the sash. Very helpful. I took the old balances in and talked to a different guy at the dealer. The different guy told me he could only order the balances if I brought in or measured the sash. That’s not what the helpful guy said and you can order them with the old balance’s part number if you know about the Internet. I told the different guy I could order them no problem on the Internet. He was not moved. So, that’s what I did. They cost less and came in only two days. I’m sorry helpful guy wasn’t there. I would have paid a little extra for that kind of customer service. But if you want to charge more, you can’t have different guy not doing what helpful guy said.

Things I Know

Ocean Home Magazine has just come out with what it calls the 25 most desirable oceanfront homes currently for sale in the USA. I do know a couple of people who might be able to afford one of the homes on the list, although certainly not the most expensive. One in East Hampton is two blocks from the ocean. Is that cheating? The one in Alaska overlooks Cook Inlet. Since I can’’t afford it, I don’’t even have to politely decline because I hate to be cold. I do like to look and if you don’’t mind drooling on your computer keyboard, you might like looking too.

Teva sandals stink! Otherwise, they’’re great. I’’ve been wearing rubber Tevas like the current Hurricane model at the beach and for other outdoor activities for years and years. The ones I have on now are about seven years old so they last a long time. I have plantar fasciitis, and my podiatrist thought I was crazy when I told him that my beach sandals are among my most comfortable shoes. But the rubber gives a little while still having good arch support. Teva advertizes that the sandals have a zinc-based anti-microbial technology. I thought the zinc stuff wore out and that’’s why the sandals stink, but I’’ve been reading up on it. Turns out you should wash them even scrub them much more often than I have. I’’m going to try that because other than the fact that they occasionally smell, I love Teva sandals. Don’’t throw them in the washing machine though.

On the 4th of July, two women in East Farmingdale NY were seriously burned when aerosol cans stored under their barbecues exploded. I wouldn’’t have been that concerned about aerosol cans, but the barbecue I own has a cabinet under the burners and by design, you’’re supposed to keep a 20 pound propane cylinder in there. I did that. Once! It gets really hot in that cabinet. Now, I don’t keep anything in it. In fact, when I buy my next barbecue, I’’m going to see if I can find one without a cabinet beneath the fire. The cabinet adds to the expense of the barbecue and I think it’’s too hot to use for storage of anything flammable.

On the evening of the 4th, a 34-foot cabin cruiser capsized in the Oyster Bay-Cold Spring Harbor area of Long Island’’s north shore. Three children trapped in the cabin drowned. Police say they’’re investigating whether the boat was overloaded. I’’m no expert, but with 27 people on a 34-foot boat, I imagine it must have been. Even if it was overloaded, other factors could also have contributed to the tragedy.

On the 20th, I’’m going to see my first Dodger game in 55 years when the Dodgers play the Mets at Citi Field. No, I don’’t think they’’re going to come back, but I do want to assure everyone that I won’’t root for them.

If you have a Facebook application on your smart phone, under certain circumstances, Facebook will populate your phone’’s address book with the names of your Facebook friends and with any contact information they’’ve supplied to Facebook. This is not necessarily a good thing since I almost butt-dialed someone who lives in Brazil the other day.

When my son was in China, I got a Google Voice phone number and used it to chat with him. Now, I use it less often and have it set to forward any incoming calls to my cell phone. That’’s why I was glad my cell phone was off when someone I’’ve never heard of called my Google Voice number the other day at 5:30 AM.

The city council in Houston TX recently passed a $5.00-per-person fee for patrons of strip clubs. Wags are calling it a pole tax. The money is being earmarked to clear a backlog of something like 4,000 unprocessed rape kits. Pursuing rapists is something police everywhere ought to have the resources to do, but I’’m unaware of any evidence that suggests strip clubs cause rape.

If my wife and I could learn to fight with each other often enough, we could probably stop paying for all the cable TV channels that run reality TV shows.

I have a solution for the programmers who work on MS Word’’s grammar & spelling checker as well as for speakers of English. MS Word can’’t discern a correct usage of the word its or the contraction it’’s. So, it almost always labels their use wrong, even when it’’s right. I suggest that all English speakers be like my Irish grandmother and use the contraction ‘t’is instead of it’’s. ‘T’is can’’t be confused with it’’s. Of course, the substitution would bring into common use the contraction ‘t’isn’’t, which is the only contraction I can think of that has two apostrophes in it.

Things I Want (Or Need) To Know

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Do you realize that the phrase ““Independence Day,”” and the phrase, ““The Fourth of July.”” have the exact same number of syllables?

Do you also realize that if we could get everyone to call it “Independence Day” we could have it on a Monday every year?

Andy Griffith passed away at the age of 86. The actor was best known for his role as homespun sheriff Andy Taylor on the ‘60’s “Andy Griffith Show. He also starred in the successful TV series “Matlock.” RIP Andy. But did you ever wonder why he had such a strong southern accent while Aunt Bea, Opie and Barney Fife didn’’t?

Why do they call it the Albert Einstein College of Medicine? The school’’s website describes Professor Einstein as, “The renowned scientist and humanist.”” True. Professor Einstein is no doubt one of the most prominent scientists in history. But he was a theoretical physicist whose discoveries had little or nothing to do with medicine. I don’’t think he was wealthy enough to endow the college and it’s associated with Yeshiva University while he was a professor at Princeton. So, why do they call it the Albert Einstein College of Medicine?

Have you read Rielle Hunter’s book, ““What Really Happened: John Edwards, Our Daughter and Me?”” I haven’’t. It’’s been described as a tell-all book: I’’m waiting for her “I’’m never going to say another word” book myself.

Things I Know

All of a sudden today, I noticed orange links in my blog, links that were also underlined in orange. They were ad links. At first I thought they were put up by my web host, but that’s not the case and the links probably didn’t appear in your browser becaues they were put up by an application that wound up on my computer. The application is from yontoo.com. Don’t know where it came from, but at least it uninstalled relatively easily.

Latest rumor I’’ve heard is that Ann Curry is being paid $10,000,000 to leave the Today show. She’’s supposedly owed $20,000,000 on the remainder of her contract, so they’’re still talking. I’’ve never been paid anywhere near $10,000,000 to go away, and I believe I’’m a lot more annoying than Ann Curry. I’’m not even sure Ann Curry is annoying at all.

Government geeks like me know that initiative and referendum is a process whereby voters can petition to have a direct vote on certain matters the legislature either didn’’t pass or wouldn’’t consider. Under this procedure, decisions are often based on emotion rather than fact. That’’s why I’’m proud of the citizens of North Dakota who voted this month not to make property taxes unconstitutional. North Dakota’s economy is thriving right now, so they don’’t really need property taxes that much at present, but the responsible citizens of North Dakota know they might need them in the future, so they didn’’t outlaw them.

On Cable TV, the Speed Channel is rerunning a show called ““101 Cars You Must Drive.”” The show’’s about four or five years old. Some of the cars are interesting, but you really don’’t learn much about any of them. One of the cars on the list is GM chief stylist Harley Earl’’s 1950 Buick LeSabre concept car. The name was used on later production Buicks and some style elements of that car were seen in later GM production cars too, but there’’s nothing special about the way it drives, and they didn’’t drive it.

The dermatologist I go to has an aesthetician attached to his practice. I know it’’s not, but I can’’t help thinking that’s a person who’’s licensed to tell me what’’s pretty, and what’s isn’’t.

I learned this week that someone I know is related to Ponzi schemer Bernie Madoff. We’’re not close. I didn’’t know about the relationship when I saw them recently, so we didn’’t talk about it. And, I don’’t want to say anymore because I don’’t want to identify them. But it is a small world.

I would pay an insignificant amount of money for legal DVD’s or on-line streaming of Hoppity Hooper cartoons.

You would think that streets named First Street would be more common than streets named Second or Third Street. According to the National League of Cities, you’’d be wrong about that.

Things I Want (Or Need) to Know

What does the monster in the bedroom closet have nightmares about?

Why do they have a sign at the eastbound entrance to the Verrazano Bridge saying how long it’’s going to take to get across? First, the sign isn’’t correct. Last time I crossed it said 9 minutes and it took 24. Second, once you get to the sign, there’’s really nothing you can do about it but go across the bridge anyway.

If they want a sign telling you how long it takes to cross the Verrazano Bridge, shouldn’’t it be on the Jersey Turnpike west of the Goethals Bridge so you can make a meaningful decision?

Don’’t you just love it when you get to the head of a traffic jam and there doesn’’t seem to have been anything causing it?

How come New York City radio station traffic reporters ignore Staten Island?

Why do they even bother to have speed limit signs on the New Jersey Turnpike? As far as I can tell, most traffic goes about 75 mph whenever traffic conditions permit, no matter whether the limit is 65, 55, or even in work zones where it’s 45.

Has anyone ever pawned anything on the TV show “Pawn Stars?”

Did you know that if you have a Facebook account, you also have an email address ending in “@facebook.com?”

Did you ever use your email address ending in “@facebook.com?”

Do you know anyone else who uses such an email address?

If someone is running a robocall operation, can they tell if the people they call always hang up on them? Do they know what percentage of the people they call listen to the entire message? Do they cull their call lists based on that information? Do they even care?

Father’s Day

Nobody’s perfect, not even mom and dad, but I believe every child deserves two parents who never do anything they believe in advance will hurt their children. I had one parent like that, my wife had two, and I believe my kids have two as well.

I told you my favorite Father’s Day story three years ago, but I’m going to repeat it right now.

It’s an image that my daughter gave me a while ago. She said that when she was a toddler, she thought she was very strong because she could push open some really heavy doors. She learned later that I was standing behind her and reaching over her head to help her push.

That’’s what daddies do, isn’’t it? We help our children to do what they have to do. Sometimes we do it out in the open and sometimes, as in opening those big, heavy doors, we do it behind their backs, or over their heads, or both. Sometimes, we have to resist the temptation to do it for them. We have to let them do it for themselves, so they can grow up.

My dad was a very smart, and very uneducated man. Why was he uneducated? Obligation. It seems to me his whole life was about obligation. I know he sacrificed his childhood for his mom, brothers and sisters. He quit school to support them after eighth grade because his father died three years earlier. He didn’t marry until he was 38 years old and when he did, he and my mom continued to support and live with his mother. I never knew my dad’s mother and she only knew I existed, but never saw me. She died a couple of days after I was born.

He retired as a police officer as soon as he was eligible to, in order to please my mother, not himself. He took real pride in being a cop. He kept his uniforms in a wardrobe in the attic until he died. We threw them out after that. My son has his police night stick, the one made of teak wood so it won’t float. It won’t break if you hit something with it either. My son also has his police tie clasp. My sister gave it to him, and he wore it when he was admitted to the bar.

He sacrificed a lot for his kids too, including sending me money that he needed himself when I was a freshman in college. This grade-school graduate had two kids. Both of them have master’s degrees, but he died before either of us graduated from college. He never met any of his four grandchildren. When it looked like my son would be left-handed, it made me pine for my dad who was a lefty too. He liked little children a whole lot more than he liked most adults. His grandchildren all went to college too. One of them has a post-doctoral education.

My dad has been gone for a long, long time. Sometimes I miss him a lot more than you would think after all these years.

My father-in-law was a special guy too. Virtually every teenage boy is interested in one of only two things, and I don’t give a damn about football.  He welcomed me into his home and was nice to me when I took an interest in his seventeen-year-old daughter who would one day be canonized as Saint Karen (she has to be a saint to put up with me). If all my in-laws ever did for me was allow me to date their daughter, I could never repay them. They did so much more and wouldn’t let us even give them gifts, let alone try to repay them. They welcomed me into their family and were far nicer to me than most of my blood relatives.

Both my father and my father-in-law are dead, but I remember them and I remember that I was blessed in the father department.

Things I Know

Ithaca NY is still gorges, as the T-shirts say, but because of a rash of suicides on campus more than a year ago, Cornell installed high fences on all the bridges over the two gorges that border the university’’s main campus. Plus, the gorges themselves are fenced and locked because trails that used to allow hikers to descend into the gorges haven’’t been maintained and have become dangerous. If I lived there, instead of just visiting as I was last weekend, I’’d be happy to join a volunteer trail maintenance crew. The gorges are still gorgeous! In local stores you can still buy a lot of beautiful photos shot in Fall Creek and Cascadilla Gorge, but you can’’t go into the gorges to take your own pictures anymore, at least I couldn’t find a way to do so from the Cornell campus.

The steepest path up Libe Slope on the Cornell Campus is the one that tops the hill behind Morrill Hall. I was reminded of that because I took that path on Saturday. I didn’’t like climbing that hill as a freshman. At my age, I am happy I still can climb it.

I was watching a documentary about dinosaurs on the cable Science Channel and in my opinion, anyone who narrates a TV documentary in English ought to be required to pronounce the word “”Arctic”” as if it had two “’c’s” in it because it does. Similarly, such a narrator ought to be required to pronounce the word “”Antarctic”” as if it had both two “c’’s” and two “t’’s” because it does and neither pronunciation is that hard, really.

Anthony Bourdain has announced that he’’s moving from the Travel Channel to CNN. Good, because I sometimes watch the Travel Channel.

There’’s a TV commercial for Netflix. It features a beaver with a British accent. Instead of compelling me to sign up for Netflix, it impelled me to ask whether beavers are native to Great Britain. Ten, or even eight, years ago, the answer would have been no. The ones that were native became extinct some time ago. However, since 2005, there have been a handful of efforts to repopulate Great Britain with small colonies of Eurasian beavers. I wasn’’t interested enough to try to find out whether those efforts are successful.

I generally don’’t use apps on Facebook because they allow the owner of the app a lot of access to your data. There’’s one called profile view. When you sign up, it requests permission to access your data. There are two choices: allow; and disallow. If you click the disallow button, it just brings you back to the choices. It doesn’’t take you back to your Facebook home page.

Barbara Streisand has scheduled two shows in Brooklyn in mid-October. The first one reportedly sold out in minutes, hence a second. Nothing against Ms. Streisand, but I think nobody should buy tickets to any performer’’s show once that performer has concluded his or her farewell tour.

In commenting on the Zuckerberg-Chan wedding recently, I joked that they apparently waited until they were sure they could afford it. I am not a lawyer, but someone on TV suggested that they may have waited until he was a multi-billionaire and she was an MD so that neither her degree nor his billions would be community property.

Note to the guy in the navy blue Honda sedan: If you keep driving ten miles under the speed limit on the Wantagh Parkway, you’’re going to be rear-ended and possibly killed. Also, navy blue is a nice looking color on a car, but you don’t see them very often.

And note to the woman in the gold Honda Odyssey at the Ramapo Service Area on the NY State Thruway around 4:30 PM Sunday. Stopping your minivan so that you made it hard for other cars to get past you while, at the same time, blocking two handicapped parking spaces was the most boneheaded driving event I saw while traveling from Thursday to Sunday.

Things I Want (Or Need) To Know

Since it’’s Queen Elizabeth’’s diamond jubilee, shouldn’’t she be all sparkly? I mean, cherries jubilee is full of cherries, isn’’t it?

Do you ever wonder if the British media are as excited over Queen Elizabeth’’s diamond jubilee as Katie Couric was during her ABC 20/20 special on the event?

If MS Word’’s spelling and grammar checker can’t determine any proper use of the contractions it’’s and its’’, why do they flag them all as wrong?

Things I Want (Or Need) To Know

Groupon recently sent me a discount offer for bikini wax. That made me wonder why would anyone need or even want a shiny bikini?

Has anyone ever been arrested for touching a child appropriately? Of course not! I’’m not making fun of a problem, I’’m making fun of the way we describe a problem. Sex abuse and especially child sex abuse is very serious, so serious that I think euphemisms like “inappropriate touching” are really out of place.

Why are there so many different ends on USB cables?

Onions and garlic are in the same botanical family, right? So, how come onions don’t have any effect on vampires?

Things I Know

In his May 12th blog, my Internet friend Dick Summer tells a story he’’s told before about how his wife bought him a new pair of swim trunks because she didn’’t want to be seen in public with him anymore when he wore the Speedo he has had most of his life. It reminded me that I got a Speedo when I was 17. It was navy blue when I got it. It was kind of sun-faded brown when it disappeared from the pool locker room when I was 34. Did my wife, Saint Karen (who has to be a saint to put up with me) take matters into her own hands at the pool on that awful day that my Speedo disappeared?

We’ve only met once, but I consider Dick a kindred spirit because each of us has an off-beat sense of humor, each of us is very well aware that we’ve married above our station in life, and each of us is unabashedly in love with his wife.

I recommend that right-handed people buy sleeping bags with the zipper on the left and vice versa. I’’m right handed and it’’s easier for me to zip a bag whose zipper is on the left. I own four bags, not because I lose them but because I use them for different purposes. This past weekend, I used the only one I have with its zipper on the right and was reminded again of how much better I’’d like it if I remembered my recommendation when I bought it.

Among life’s frustrations, I’’ve never used the Blockbuster Video app on my Android phone, I can’’t delete it, and now it’’s bugging me every day because it needs an update.

Speaking of which, if you buy a new computer, and it comes loaded with bloatware, you can delete it. With an Android phone, it’’s not a question of “if.” Android phones do come loaded with bloatware,  a lot of which you cannot delete. Bad. For the uninitiated, bloatware is software you don’’t want, and didn’’t order that comes loaded on your new computer from the factory. It’’s there because the software publishers pay the computer manufacturers to put it there as a form of advertising.

I don’’t know or care whether the actor John Travolta is gay. Having said that, a lot of the reporting surrounding a lawsuit claiming damages because Travolta allegedly harassed men sexually while they provided massage services is deeply disturbing for its ignorance of proper English usage. Attention copy editors everywhere (professional writers too): There’s no such thing as a male masseuse and the phrase “male masseur” is redundant. By definition, a masseuse is female, a masseur is male. Plus, in either case, I believe the preferred phrase these days is massage therapist.

I don’’t think President Obama’s position on gay marriage has evolved over his presidency. He favored it as a State Senator. When he ran for President four years ago I believe he held off on saying so because he didn’’t want to alienate those people against gay marriage who would otherwise vote for him. I also believe that his recent announcement that he now favors gay marriage is a deliberate distraction from what should be the main issue. Let’s face it: The 2012 presidential election should hinge on the same issue the 1992 presidential election did: “It’’s the economy stupid,” or maybe that should be, It’s the stupid economy.

Just for the record, I think all governments should stay out of everyone’’s bedroom as long as what’’s going on in there is consensual. If two gay people want to get married, it doesn’’t bother me in the least.

Sometimes I just don’’t understand Amazon.com’s search function. I am considering purchasing a new laptop computer because a couple of keys on the one I have now have become unreliable.  Even if I fix the keyboard, my current laptop’’s hard drive is nearly full, and it only has 1 GB of RAM. I searched Amazon’s category “computers & accessories” for the word “laptop.” When sorted for average customer review, the first laptop computer was listed on page seven of the search results.

Mark Zuckerberg and Priscilla Chan got married over the weekend. They’ve been together a long time, but last week, she became a doctor, and he became a multi-billionaire, so I guess they waited to get married until they were sure they could afford it.

Things I Want (Or Need) To Know

Even if you use Facebook, and I do, why would you buy the stock when it’’s trading at THAT MANY times earnings? I’’m not saying the stock won’’t be successful, just that it strikes me as extremely overpriced. If it’’s going to be worth that stock price, they’’ll have to operate a lot more aggressively to increase their earnings enough to justify it.

Did you read about how a CIA drone was used to attack and kill Fahd Mohammed Ahmed al-Quso, an Al Qaeda leader on the FBI most wanted list who was reported planning a new and improved underwear bombing attack? Honestly, I don’’t understand underwear bombing. How are the 72 virgins who’’ll greet you in Paradise going to do you any good if you’’ve blown off your private parts?

If Google succeeds in its current effort to develop a driverless car, will someone riding in the car still have to have a driver’’s license?

Why is it that soda, or pop, or soft drinks, or whatever they call it where you live is sold in two-litre bottles while milk and orange juice are sold by the half gallon? And with ice cream and a lot of other goods being sold in smaller packages at no reduction in price, do the bottlers of soda realize that switching to a half gallon bottle would effectively raise the price?

Things I Know

There’’s an old science fiction novel by Arthur C. Clarke called “”Childhood’’s End.”” It’’s about the human race evolving to another state, not about you and me reaching adulthood. Then, there’’s the news today that Maurice Sendak has died. Talk about the end of childhood.

One of the biggest problems with politics and government in America today is that people accept and excuse certain unacceptable or inexcusable behaviors depending on whether those behaviors come from a politician they agree with. If any office holder does something another office holder of a different political party also did while in office, one can’’t be wrong and the other right. In the same circumstances, they should both be judged the same way.

I will allow though, that if your public stance on any issue, when compared to your private behavior, makes you out to be a hypocrite, that makes whatever you’’re doing worse, whether your private behavior is legal or not.

A guy test driving a white Ferrari California worth about $200,000 and considering buying it launched it into San Francisco Bay on Saturday afternoon. Even though I’’m not a Scooby Doo fan, I’’m strangely compelled to say, “”Ruh oh!””

Every parent makes mistakes. It’’s one of the things that keep psychiatrists and psychologists in business. Every child deserves to have two parents who never do anything they know in advance will be bad for their child: We don’’t all get that. The reverse is true too, by the way. Parents deserve children, especially adult children, who don’’t deliberately hurt them either. In any event, I hope your relationship with your mom is good enough that you can sincerely wish her a happy Mother’’s Day on Sunday.

My wife, Saint Karen (she has to be a saint to put up with me) celebrates her birthday this week which means that there are times her birthday and Mother’’s Day occur on the same date. I learned when her birthday is shortly after we started dating, but it didn’’t occur to me that I’’d have to buy two presents very close together or on the same day until our first child was born. It doesn’’t matter though; she’’s worth it to me. So, officially and for the record, happy birthday Saint Karen. I’’ve said that on lots of occasions (all of them her birthday), but I’’ll never be able to say it enough times to suit me.

BTW, I call my wife Saint Karen as a tribute to her patience with me. Calling her that got me curious as to whether there was a real Saint Karen. I’’ve found several brief references saying there is a Saint Karen who is the patron saint of love and marriage. Although there’’s almost no detail on her life and with no feast day listed, I find it appropriate that Saint Karen would be the patron saint of love and marriage since I love my wife and I’’m married to her. I searched the website www.catholic.org and didn’’t find a Saint Karen listed. I know that the name Karen and the name Catherine or Katherine come from the same root and I know there’’s at least one Saint Catherine so I’’m not worried. And there’’s a website called www.saintkaren.com. It’’s related to a performance artist who goes by that name. That’’s a different Saint Karen though.

Things I Know

In a currently running Allstate TV commercial, Dennis Haysbert, the announcer, says, ““Emily’’s just starting out, and on a budget. It’’s like a ramen noodle every night budget.”” That’’s a really strict budget! Ramen noodles every night I could understand, but only one?

Mercedes Benz is running commercials on radio and TV featuring young children saying that when they grow up they will take over their parents’’ certified pre-owned (used, but with a warranty) Mercedes Benz. I guess Mercedes has data showing that owners keep the cars long enough to pass them to children, but it surprises me. I do keep cars until they die (one of my cars is 21 years old), but I would have guessed that someone who buys a used, late-model luxury car would be less likely than I am to keep that car until the bitter end.

I had to laugh at Speaker of the House John Boehner when he suggested President Obama was playing politics with a bill to keep interest on student loans low. He was right, because Republicans in the House and GOP presidential candidate Romney want to keep the loan interest low too. The difference is in how each party proposes to pay for it. The reason I had to laugh at Boehner’’s remark is he proposed paying for it in a very political way himself; by taking the money away from the President’’s health care program.

There’s a bill in Congress to allow people who borrowed money under student loan programs to get out of the loans if they declare bankruptcy. Students, don’t get your hopes up about that bill passing. However, if it does, you’’re still stuck if your parents cosigned the loan. If you go bankrupt, the maker of the loan will just go after your parents.

I’m reading a book called “Dewdroppers, Waldos and Slackers” by Rosemarie Ostler. It’s about slang in the 20th century and it’s also about 10 years old. Someone familiar with my interest in language bought it for me as a gift. Part of it is like a dictionary and part of it is narrative. No book fewer than 250 pages long can be comprehensive. I’m not finished with it, but so far I have two complaints. It doesn’t give the definition of “Waldo” I expected to see, a machine to manipulate objects as described in Robert Heinlein’s novel, “Waldo.” I wouldn’t complain about that except the word is in the title. And while it does mention the word “Funk,” it doesn’t include its definition as a kind of music. George Clinton would be disappointed. Speaking of Mr. Clinton, he’s bringing Parliament Funkadelic to Huntington, New York’s Paramount stage this weekend. If you like the funk, perhaps you should check it out.

Based on the recommendations it offers me, Amazon.com seems intent on selling me music that’s 10-20 years newer than the things I like best.

The makers of SDHC memory cards appear to be obfuscating how quickly they’’ll write data. First, they print the class information in very small type on the label or the package. Second, you can buy cards that claim to far exceed the spec. I bought a micro SDHC card that says it’’s class 6. That means it can write 6 MB/second. The package says it can write up to 30 MB/sec. Granted there are two asterisks after that figure, but I can’’t find the footnote they refer to. I know there isn’’t any class 30, but there is a class 10. If I manufactured cards that were better than class 6, I’’d call them something better than class 6 and charge more than a class 6 price for them.

There are lots of radios that offer docking and charging for Apple phones, and some that offer an external input jack so you can play your Android or Windows phone. There are even MP3 players and phones that will play external memory cards. I’’d certainly pay for a radio that would also accept and play an SDHC card. I could load it with music I like instead of the music they now play on the radio.

I bought a Sansa Clip Zip which is a very small MP3 player. I like it except for two things: It’’s so small I misplaced it within five days of buying it even though I got a red one; and you can’’t play it while it’’s recharging. So, I can’’t plug it into my car radio and recharge it while I’m driving and listening to my tunes.

Things I Want (or Need) to Know

Right now, my daughter is watching an MTV show. As far as I can tell, it’’s called “Ridiculousness.” It’’s a show consisting of lots of clips of people hurting themselves while doing dumb things. There’’s also a small panel, members of which laugh at the clips. Why is this funny?

If eight hours is considered a healthy night’’s sleep, why don’’t I ever sleep more than six, no matter how tired I am or how late it is when I go to bed?

Don’’t banks make money on the float anymore? The bank that holds our mortgage paid our school taxes three or four weeks before the due date. If I were a stockholder, I’d object to paying early.

Don’’t you just love it when you pull up in the left lane behind a car stopped at a red light, and after the light turns green the jerk driving puts on his left turn signal? I know I do.

Why do they call it “rush hour” when it’’s anything but?

Did you ever clean the lint filter in your clothes dryer? Yeah, me too. So, why don’’t your clothes eventually disappear if you always put them in the dryer?

Let’’s say someone calls me on my Google Voice phone number, and I have it set to forward calls to my cell phone. If I don’’t answer, which voice mail service does it actuate, Google Voice, or the cell phone? Here’s one I’’ll find out soon. If someone texts me on my Google Voice number, and that number is set to forward to my cell phone, will the cell phone provider charge me for receiving the forwarded message? I don’’t like texting because it costs the recipient money, so I don’’t have a texting plan.

Things I Know

President Obama appeared early Wednesday morning on a special Jimmy Fallon show at the University of North Carolina to jawbone Congress because if Congress doesn’’t act, the interest on many student loans will double in July. Especially with interest rates on just about all other kinds of loans at record lows, this makes sense. What nobody mentioned on the show is that this is one issue on which Mr. Obama and his Republican opponent in the November election, Mitt Romney, agree.

I’’d say this no matter what candidate or office holder appeared. When President Nixon appeared on “Laugh In” saying, ““Sock it to me,”” it was entertainment even though it may have benefitted his campaign by making Nixon seem more human. When President Obama or any other official or candidate appears on an entertainment show to campaign on issues almost no entertainer is equipped to do anything but a softball interview. That serves the official’s purpose, but it doesn’’t contribute much if anything to advance public dialogue.

According to the Associated Press today, ““President Obama will headline his first re-election rallies next week, marking an important turning point in the race for the White House, as Republican nominee-in-waiting Mitt Romney intensified efforts to unite his party, and raise money for the battle ahead.

“The president will hit the campaign trail with back-to-back rallies May 5, in Ohio and Virginia, according to an Obama campaign official who requested anonymity to speak ahead of the campaign’s formal announcement.””

His appearance on Jimmy Fallon’s show at the University of North Carolina and a number of his earlier appearances have sure seemed like campaign appearances to me.

Pete Fornatale died this week. I’’m told he had a brain aneurism. He was a pioneer in the area of free-form rock FM radio in NY. I only met Mr. Fornatale once. My impression and the impressions of others who actually knew him was that he was a decent man dedicated to his craft and someone his friends and family will miss.

Bob Allen died this month too of pulmonary fibrosis. He lived in the shadow of the World Trade Center when it came down, and Bob blamed the debris plume for his disease, although he was also a heavy smoker for much of his life. Bob was a news broadcaster in Albany NY, on Long Island, and elsewhere. Unless you get to the top, doing that is a tough way to make a living. Like many who practice that trade or profession, Bob went into political and governmental public relations to better support himself and his family. Funeral arrangements, if any, were private so his family didn’t hear from the many people whose lives and careers he affected in a positive way. I’’m one of those people. He was associated either directly or indirectly with almost every full-time job I’ve had since I met him, and I miss him.

It’’s too bad we can’’t find a cure for natural causes. A lot of people die from that every day.

Things I Know

Happy birthday to our son (it’s tomorrow). He’s visiting for the weekend with his girlfriend. It’s the first time we’ve met this young woman, and she seems very nice.

I fixed the toilet in my upstairs bathroom this week. I’’m no expert, but every home toilet I’’ve ever seen was designed to be repaired by someone who’’s left-handed. If a manufacturer comes up with a toilet whose riser tube goes into the bottom of the tank on the right side as you look at it, I’’ll be their customer for life.

You can buy a replacement fill valve for this toilet from the toilet manufacturer’s website for just under $20.00. The part, however, isn’t made by the toilet manufacturer. It’’s made by a company called Fluidmaster which makes lots of replacement parts for toilets. A Fluidmaster fill valve costs less than half that from Lowes, Home Depot or your local plumbing supply house. I didn’t shop extensively for mine, but I did shop and I paid $8.00 for the one I bought. I got the “Pro Series” valve. I think they call it that because there are no instructions provided with it. But, it’’s an easy repair so if you pay attention to the way the old one was installed, the new one should not cause you any problems.

Before Dick Clark became synonymous with New Years Eve, big band leader Guy Lombardo had the most popular annual New Year’s Eve TV special. When Guy Lombardo died, New Year’s Eve survived. If the Mayans were right about December 21st of this year, then Dick Clark’s death is the first step toward fulfilling the Mayan prophecy that the world will end before next New Year’s Eve. RIP Dick.

The best quote I’’ve heard lately comes from conservative radio talk show host Mark Levin. Speaking on Don Imus’ radio and TV show, Levin said, ““I’’m annoyed at most people.”” If you’ve ever listened to Mr. Levin’s show, you find that statement completely plausible.

If you need a lift, try this: go to Youtube and search there for the phrase “baby giggles.” That ought to help.

And speaking of giggles, Merle, and Patricia Butler, a retired couple from Illinois were identified recently as having purchased one of three winning tickets in March’s $656 million Mega Millions lottery. The amount of that lottery jackpot seems to change every time I read or hear about it. Merle said that when he told his wife they won, she giggled –for about four hours. Seems reasonable to me. You haven’’t heard who the other winners were because some states don’’t require you to make your identity public in order to claim the prize, so the other two winners didn’’t. That seems reasonable to me too. I’’d much rather be rich than rich and famous. Just being famous would be awful because if you’’re famous, you need some money with which to buy privacy.

Things I Want (or Need) to Know

Have you seen Time Magazine’s list of the world’s 100 most influential people? Not a very serious list, is it?

Fifty years ago, you’d see stretched passenger cars or station wagons like this, called airport limos, around big airports and certain resorts.

airport limo

This one is a 1960 Chevy. The website where I first saw the photo said the car is rated to carry 18 passengers, but eight doors implies four bench seats which would mean it holds only 12. That is, of course, unless the station wagon before it was stretched had a third row seat. If that’s the case it probably holds 14 people. Still, that made me wonder, how many clowns do you suppose it would hold?

Do your kids take “English Language Arts” in school? What the heck is up with that? Is it an effort on the part of schools to give teaching English a higher status? To me English Language Arts is just poor English. The term doesn’t do anything more to describe the subject than the term English does. So, English Language Arts lends obfuscation to the subject, not clarity.

Which came first, the refrigerator or the magnet?

Would noise-cancelling headphones do anything for my tinnitus?

The expression ““head over heels in love”” has recently come to bother me. If by “over” you mean above, then my head is almost always over my heels, except while I’’m sleeping. So, is there really anything special about being “head over heels in love?”

Have we really sunk so low as a society that the question of whether and/or how Kim Kardasian acquired a hickey is worthy of network TV news stories? Yeah, we have.

During the run up to last month’s $640 million Mega Millions prize drawing, I kept hearing how much worse the odds were of winning the lottery than say being struck by lightning or eaten by a shark. This led me to ask, what are the odds of being struck by lightning while being eaten by a shark?

Things I Know

Yes, the Titanic sank 100 years ago today, and it’’s one of those rare instances when practically unlimited wealth didn’’t save everyone. More poor people died than rich ones, but not everyone rich survived. The richest person to die was John Jacob Astor IV. Isador Straus, one of the founders of Macy’s Department Store also died on the Titanic, as did his wife, Ida, who reportedly refused to get aboard the lifeboat without her husband, saying they had lived together, and would die together.

I believe I’’ve mentioned before that my great aunt won a newspaper essay contest years later with a first-person account of being on the Carpathia, the first ship to arrive on the scene and rescue survivors. She did come to the USA on the Carpathia, just not on that voyage.

All the news today is about the anniversary of the Titanic disaster, but do you know what else happened on this date? Abe Lincoln stopped breathing. He was probably brain dead as soon as he was shot the night before, but he was declared dead after sunrise the next morning.

The guest room is getting closer to being ready for guests, which is good because we’re getting guests on Thursday. It’’s painted now. I’’m putting things back where they belong. I’’ve moved most of the furniture, but the bed gets reinstalled last. I even got a new TV to replace the one that fell off the bed where I put it while I was moving the furniture it usually stands on. The old TV weighed 73 pounds: the new one, 11.

Update: I wound up taking the TV to the dump because nobody stole it from the back of my truck, even when I left the truck parked at the railroad station all day.

I saw this phrase elsewhere, liked it and hereby appropriate it for my own: I am a reluctant adult.

Things I Know

Rick Santorum has dropped out of the quest for the Republican nomination for President. We should all resist the temptation to say he aborted his campaign.

The Today Show touted a new, revolutionary treatment for cellulite. When I heard that, I couldn’’t help thinking it involved spinning the patient around, but I was wrong.

It costs $15 to get into the New York International Auto Show. It cost a lot less when I first started going, but when I first started going I was 12.

I usually think that Geico Insurance’’s TV ads are clever, but neither the insurance taste test nor the pig does it for me. BTW, if you type the word Geico into MS Word, the spellchecker thinks it’s wrong however; one of the things it suggests you might mean is gecko. I swear! Try it!

I’’ve been told that those wild onions that grow like weeds in your yard (because they are weeds in your yard) aren’’t edible. That seems like a terrible waste to me.

Tom Bergeron, or someone who writes scripts for “Dancing With the Stars” watches “Doctor Who.” How do I know? On last week’s Tuesday’s show, Tom allowed that, “Fezzes are cool.”

When the Message Isn’t the Message

A long time ago, a smart man named Marshall McLuhan became well known when he said, “”The medium is the message.”” Maybe the medium is the message, but I’m quite certain that, at least in once case, the message isn’’t the message. Facebook wants me (and you too, if you have an account) to get an email address that has the suffix @facebook.com. They sent me a message telling me that. I can skip the message, but I can’t delete it. Same thing for text messaging: they want me to turn it on, but while I can skip the message I can’’t delete it.

I think the fact that I can’t delete one or the other of these messages is the reason that my phone alerts me that I have a new message on Facebook whenever I pick it up and turn it on. I don’’t really need alerts from my phone telling me I have new messages on Facebook when I don’’t. It’’s kind of like when the phone rings and you pick it up, but there’’s nobody there: annoying. Usually, when the phone rings, and there’’s nobody on the line someone is using a computer to make a massive number of calls, and the computer guesses both how long the caller will be talking to the person before you and how long it will take you to answer the phone. If it guesses wrong on either point, when you answer the phone you get a dead line.

You may ask why I don’’t turn on text messaging in Facebook, and why I don’’t get a Facebook email address. I just don’’t want to. The only text messaging service I use (and I use it infrequently) is the one that goes with Google Voice. Why? It’’s free to the person who receives the message. Text messaging costs your cell phone company virtually nothing, but they charge you to get the message, not to send it. Yes, I could get cell phone service with unlimited texting, but I don’’t like typing with my thumbs, and I don’’t see any need for something faster than email.

I don’’t need a Facebook email address because I already have too many email addresses. I have two from my ISP, two from Gmail, one from Yahoo, and one from work. I suppose I could have one from at least one of the colleges I’’ve graduated from too. I also have too many more to count. Why is that? I own three domain names. The hosting company allows me 5,000 discrete email addresses for each of those. Among the three domains, I’’ve assigned four email addresses, two to me, one to another member of my family and one to someone unrelated to us. So, I have 14,996 discrete email addresses left to assign. If I assign them all to me and if I’ve counted correctly, I can have 15,004 email addresses without accepting Facebook’s offer, or hitting up any other free email provider. Can you say “@aol.com” boys and girls? If 15,004 email addresses isn’’t enough for me, I actually have an infinite number of unassigned email addresses. Any email sent to any of my domain names that isn’’t already assigned gets forwarded to the existing account I’’ve designated.

I don’’t object to Facebook offering me an email address, but once I’’ve ignored or skipped that message, I do object to Facebook nagging me about it.

Things I Know

It’’s a good thing I didn’’t win the Mega Millions lottery drawing on Friday. If I had won, I planned to deposit the check through the ATM at my local bank in an effort to figure out the largest transaction an ATM will handle. I’’ve since learned that the huge check they present at the award ceremony is too wide to go into the little slot in the ATM, and if you fold it up it’s too thick to go in.

Three winning tickets were sold so the $640 million prize will be divided into three parts, one for each ticket. If any of the winning tickets came from office pools, those parts of the prize will be divided even further. That division is the first time I can remember the word only applied to the phrase “$213 million.”

According to Yahoo News a guy in Kansas named Bill Isles was struck by lightning last Thursday while buying tickets for the record Mega Millions jackpot, or shortly after buying them. Reports vary. Bill didn’’t win so I guess the old adage is proven: “You stand a better chance of being hit by lightning than winning the lottery jackpot,” at least in Kansas you do.

I forgot something in my plans to win a big lottery jackpot. If I win, I will stop buying lottery tickets. It really is a sucker bet.

Without the Internet, I’’d know that the CRT TV I dropped and broke the other day is heavy. Thanks to the Internet, I know it weighs 73 pounds. It’’s in the truck and I’’m taking it to the dump later this week, unless someone sees it and steals it for me.

Form really does follow function sometimes. When you look at a tiger, nobody needs to tell you it’s a predator.

Sure There’s No Chance, but What If You Did Win?

First prize in Friday night’’s Mega Millions drawing is now projected at $540 million. That’’s up from the $463 million first projected when nobody won the big prize in the last drawing. That number is the total of all annuity payments if you take it over the years. If you take a lump sum, it’’s only about one-third of that, once all taxes (not just the withholding part) are taken care of. One hundred eighty million dollars, net after all taxes, taken as a lump sum, is still pretty damned lumpy. So a question around the water cooler this week is: “What would you do if you won?”

In accounting, there’’s a concept called a material difference. In the example above, if the prize was actually $179,999,999.99, instead of $180,000,000.00, the missing penny wouldn’’t make a material difference and you could ignore it. The odds of winning are about one in 175 million. So, you probably don’’t need a plan any more than I do. I don’’t expect to win. That would be a sign of mental illness that would probably go unnoticed by friends and acquaintances given all the other signs I have scattered around. Nevertheless, I can afford it and it amuses me to think about it, so I do buy the occasional ticket, I do check the numbers and I do have plans.

So many people have grand plans for who they’’d give money to. Me? I’’d keep it.

I’’d try my best to collect anonymously and I’’d hire a PR firm to keep my name out of the media as much as possible. I’’d much rather be rich than rich and famous. I’’d move, of course. I’’d get a new, unlisted, phone number, and hook my present phone number up to voice mail or an answering machine. I’’d also pay a lackey to delete all the messages without listening to them.

I’d jump on the bed. When I was a kid, I liked jumping on the bed, but my mom yelled at me that I’d probably break it. I’m now big enough that I’d certainly break it, but jumping on the bed was fun, and even though I would break it, with $180 million in the bank I could afford at least one other bed.

I’d take the check to the ATM at my local branch bank, and deposit it. I’ve always wondered what the biggest transaction an ATM machine can handle is, and it would be my chance to find out.

My wife, Saint Karen (who has to be a saint to put up with me) always says if she won, she’d throw away all of her clothes and go shopping in a sheet. So, I would buy a sheet, and hire a limo with a uniformed chauffeur to deliver said sheet to her at her job. I’’d call my boss and tell him I’’m not going to be at work today because I’’m rich. I’’d call in rich every day until I stopped laughing uncontrollably every time I did it. I’’d install a video camera near the entrance to my former job so every morning I could record people I used to know heading to work. Then I’’d watch it if I felt like it. I probably wouldn’’t feel like it, but it would be nice to know it’’s there.

With oil prices what they are today, I’’d turn up the heat a little and go for a long drive in my truck.

I’’d most likely buy a new laptop since the “b” key on this one is ecoming unrelia le.

I’’d announce that I’’m thinking of running for some important public office, but I wouldn’’t run, and I wouldn’’t think about running either. I’’d just like to make a few people nervous.

I wouldn’’t buy a car that screams, “I’’m rich,” unless it also screamed “and you can’’t catch me.” However, if I won on Friday night, I would be at the Barrett-Jackson auction in Florida next week, my wife would have at least one much newer car than she owns, and I would own a handful of much older cars than I now have.

My new house would have to have a porte-cochere, an indoor pool, a hot tub and anything my wife wanted. A porte-cochere, in case you don’t know, is a covered entryway that allows you to drive your car to the front door in the rain, get out and go inside without getting wet.

I’’d buy some more music because once in a while my wife says to me, ““Don’’t you have enough music?”” and I say, “”No.”” I’’m sure you’’ll agree with me that seven thousand songs aren’’t really enough.

I’’d go on a little trip designed to see all major league baseball teams and every major league baseball stadium this summer. I’’d take four more trips in order to determine which waterfront restaurants I liked best on the east coast, the gulf coast, the west coast and in Hawaii. I don’’t think I could accomplish the last four by the end of this summer though.

There must be something else I’’d do too, but I don’’t need to come up with everything by the drawing Friday night at 11:00. I’’d welcome suggestions on what to do, but not if they include giving money to or investing money in the suggester.

Finally, I want you to know I’’d throw a huge party: I don’’t want you to think you’’ll be invited: I won’t guarantee I’ll show up either, but I do want you to know I’’m throwing a big party if I win.

Things I Know

If every man, woman, and child in the United States was in one lottery pool for tonight’’s Mega Millions drawing, and if we won, we’’d each get a little over one dollar, before taxes! If I win, I’’m going to take the check to the ATM at my local bank branch. I’’ve always wondered what’s the largest dollar transaction those machines will handle.

Which reminds me, I was going to say ATM machine, but that would be redundant. The “M” in ATM stands for machine.

Actually, Mega Millions tonight is so much money that if you’re the only winner, you can have your newly-hired flunky ask that the president of your bank stop by your house, pick up the check, and deposit it for you.  He or she will probably do just that.

If you’’re ever down in the dumps, and need a little lift, go to Youtube and put the following three words, “dog,” “soldier,” and “reunion” in the search box. You’’ll get about a zillion videos. Or, for both dogs, and beloved family members, try www.welcomehomeblog.com. The videos may make you cry, but you’’ll feel a lot happier too.

Here’’s a disturbing trend. When I bought my current shredder, it was powerful enough to shred most credit card offers and other junk mail without me having to open the envelope. I’’ve had the shredder long enough for postal rates to go up substantially, but the credit card offers are getting thicker, and I now have to open most of them before shredding them.  I still don’’t read them though.

The people who hold my mortgage confused me this month. Confusing me is such a small challenge that I don’’t know why they bother. They sent me a statement telling me that my mortgage escrow was going up. I don’’t like that, but it’’s really no surprise. They also told me I have a shortage in my escrow account. That’’s an annual event too because they won’’t listen to me. I’’ve tried, believe me. They included the shortage in the new monthly payment, and in the same envelope included a bill for the shortage. The way the whole thing is worded, if I didn’’t pay attention I would have paid both. If I did pay both though, I probably wouldn’’t have an escrow shortage next year.

Rue Britannica

The recently announced death of the print Encyclopedia Britannica reminds me I’’m long-overdue for a confession. No, not my Easter duty, although that’’s overdue too, but a confession of a different sort.

I haven’’t worn a pocket protector since the Jurassic period when I found a girl willing to date me. I’’m not a “three-pen nerd” like my friend Richard (not Feder) from New Jersey (not Ft. Lee), and now improved with an additional state. In my formative years, however, my recreational reading did include encyclopedias. Dictionaries too, I’’m afraid. I even have my green CRC book of reference math tables around here somewhere. It’’s with my slide rule, I’’m sure: I can probably find both if I look hard enough. In case you’’re wondering, of course, the green book has my name on the cover in gold leaf.

That is my confession. I was one of those nerdy kids who chose volumes at random, let them fall open where they would, and read articles, tables, etc., about whatever popped up. I read those articles whether I was interested in the subject or had even heard of it before the book popped open. And that’’s important!

News reports suggested that the printed, leather-bound volumes of the Britannica became obsolete due to the Internet, particularly due to Google, and whatever search engines Google’’s success haven’’t driven out of business yet. That seems to be the case. I haven’’t verified this independently, but I read that fewer than nine thousand sets of the Britannica sold in the last year for which figures are available. How many door-to-door salesmen could make a living on nine-thousand sets of encyclopedias?

The Internet is better at finding stuff you are interested in than the print version of the Encyclopedia Britannica ever was. Even Britannica still exists on the Internet. The world-wide web has its faults, though. Anyone can say anything, anonymously, without checking a single fact and without editing of any kind. So, if you want to rely on the Internet for information, you’’d be smart to cross-check it with numerous sources. Directed searching is great on the Internet. Cutting and pasting are a lot easier for the fledgling elementary-school researcher than plagiarizing by hand ever was. You don’’t even have to thumb through a bunch of pages to find stuff. Since you don’’t have to thumb, you won’’t come across anything interesting that you weren’’t looking for.

That’’s where the Internet isn’’t better than an encyclopedia. If you can use it to surprise yourself as easily as you could use an encyclopedia, I haven’’t discovered how yet. Even if you use a news aggregator to comb the web for all the stuff you’re interested in, it won’’t find a single thing you might be interested in if only you were already aware of it. So the randomness of stumbling across something new, and interesting while browsing an encyclopedia is gone at worst or just invisible so far to me at best. That’’s why I rue the passing of the printed Encyclopedia Britannica. I don’’t roux its passing though because the leather covers would make the sauce I created using roux Britannica awfully lumpy.

Things I Know

Tuesday, not the day pitchers and catchers report to Spring Training, is the real first day of Spring, so happy Spring everyone.

I was trying to figure out how to support the new chandelier for my dining room while I wire it, and attach it to the ceiling, so I did a Google search for instructions. The almost universal advice from all across the Internet was to get someone else to hold it. My problem is I’’m tall enough and strong enough to hold the chandelier, and I know how to wire it: my wife isn’’t, isn’’t, and doesn’’t. The bracket that comes with many ceiling fans has a hook on it that you can use to support the fan while wiring it, but the bracket that came with my chandelier doesn’’t. Maybe I’’ll buy a fan bracket, and see whether I can hang the chandelier on that while I wire it.

Speaking of brackets, for several years I’’ve noted that “March Madness” now spills over into April. I’’m going to take that trend even farther and set an example by being mad all year long. You may ask yourself if by mad I mean angry or crazy. The answer is both.

I agree with almost everyone else who said for Rush Limbaugh to personally attack law student Sandra Fluke was wrong. That being said, there is no constitutional right to go through life unoffended although a lot of people seem to think there is one.

I’’ve spoken before about how I buy a hand tool, lose it, buy another one, and then find the first one (and then rinse and repeat), so it came as no surprise to me that I now own at least 26 screwdrivers. That’’s not counting those little jewelers’ screwdrivers. I have two complete sets of those, one in a black case, and one in a red case.

The Mega Millions jackpot on March 20th is $241 million. I’ve read that many lottery winners squander their prize money. In the extremely unlikely event that I win $241 million, I’m going to try to squander it.

Things I Want (Or Need) To Know

How did you observe Pi day? You know, 3/14, the day that celebrates the ratio of the circumference of a circle to its diameter which is about 3.14. That’’s why it’’s observed on 3/14 you see. I celebrated it with vanilla ice cream on top. Evidently enough people celebrated by going to www.piday.org to learn more about pi that when I tried, the page wouldn’’t load.

If it were daylight savingS time, wouldn’’t it also be eastern standardS time?

How can something be both new, and improved? If it’’s really new, it hasn’’t had time to be changed (in order to improve it) yet, has it?

Did you see the video on the Internet of two cute penguins on a Delta Airlines flight? Don’’t those penguins have to be able to fit underneath the seat in front of their owners?

Things I Want (Or Need) To Know

Can’’t you be against the government paying for everyone’’s birth control without calling anyone a slut or a prostitute?

Some ultra-conservatives are arguing that birth control shouldn’’t be widely available no matter who pays for it. I haven’’t talked to Bill Baird in a very long time, but wasn’’t the issue of contraception settled in this country in the 1970’s? If you don’t know who Bill Baird is, look him up. He must be close to 80 years old and March 22 is the 40th anniversary of a US Supreme Court decision involving him. Baird is both a birth control, and an abortion advocate. I know people who agree with him on one, but not the other.

I agree with those who say that the personal attack Rush Limbaugh leveled on Sandra Fluke was wrong. Still, which amendment to the US Constitution is the one that guarantees that nobody will ever be offended? I missed that one.

Why do they call them ticker tape parades, when they don’’t even have ticker tape anymore?

Do dead possums ever play live?

Does the tooth fairy ever take somebody’s dentures by mistake?

Things I Know

If you are an adult male wearing a tuxedo on stage at the Oscars or any other award show, and you wear a hat on an indoor stage, you are calling attention to your baldness, not disguising it.

My son got a job three months ago, so I can tell the economy is improving, but it isn’’t improving fast enough. Therefore, I’’m appalled that birth control has become a major campaign issue. I wish all the Republican candidates for President would take a page from former President Bill Clinton. Republican candidates, repeat after me (and after President Clinton too): It’’s the economy stupid.

Right after I commented that Congress hadn’’t dealt with the expiring payroll tax rate reduction, they did. I believe the two events are unrelated. I don’’t believe any member of Congress has read what I write since I stopped working for Congress during the second half of the twentieth century.

For various reasons I won’’t go into, painting the inside of my house is taking a lot longer than I anticipated. Except for minor touch ups, I have now finished the dining room. I have a little electrical work to do, mostly involving selecting and installing a light fixture.

Today the dining room: Tomorrow the guest room.

One thing I’’ve learned is that for a typical do-it-yourself paint job, buying paint in five-gallon buckets is a bad idea. Latex paint is heavier than water so, including the bucket, and the lid, I estimate five-gallon buckets of latex paint weigh 55-60 pounds. If you don’’t think that’’s heavy, try lifting one, and try pouring from one without spilling anything. Plus, if you don’’t use it up quickly, there’s more space inside the partially filled bucket for dry flakes of paint to form, then drop into the paint, and mess up your nice, smooth finish.

I don’‘t know for certain that the New York State Real Property Tax Law is the worst one in all the fifty states, but after working with it again last week, I find it hard to believe it isn’’t.

I wrote a lot of stuff about the Grammy Awards, but I didn’’t get around to posting it. It’’s no longer germane, so I won’’t post it. Once you die, your situation hardly ever changes, so I think that coverage of the death of an important celebrity, and Whitney Houston is just one example, is usually overblown, especially if said celebrity dies on what’s known in the business as a slow news day. It went so far, and was in such bad taste that I even saw an article that speculated on what actor would get the kind of publicity Whitney Houston’s death got if said actor died right before tonight’’s Oscar awards.

I’’m not terribly interested in the Oscars, because I believe the last movie I saw in a theater was about Rocky and Bullwinkle. I am, however, looking forward to Spring Training baseball games on the radio. Among the things I find most relaxing is washing, and waxing the car while listening to a baseball game on the radio. Once baseball games are on the radio you can hasten the change of seasons by driving around with your car windows down, and a game on. Spreading the baseball around helps spread the warm weather baseball causes around too.

Friday was the fourth anniversary of this blog, but I didn’’t have anything profound to say about it, so I didn’’t say anything about it. Perhaps, despite my best efforts, I am maturing at least a little. On Tuesday, I will probably not have anything profound to say about Leslie’s birthday, but I will pause, and remember. I can’’t remember people’s names, but humiliating moments in my life are easy to recall, no matter how long ago they happened.

Things I Know

I hope now we can start talking about baseball. Nine days to pitchers, and catchers.

If Jeremy Lin is going to insist on being the newest NBA sensation, he needs to learn to speak into the microphone at news conferences.

The Giants won the Superbowl.

I don’’t think they even have ticker tape anymore, so I recommend they change the name of ticker-tape parades.

Sir Paul McCartney has been one of the most famous people in the world for 48 years now. He got a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame on February 9, 2012.

Attention State of California: Yes, I would like your 214-page vacation guide; no, I won’’t give you my phone number. You don’’t need it to send me the guide, but you won’’t send it to me if I don’’t supply it. I won’t supply it, hence no vacation guide for me.

We’’ve already established that I need five utility knives, and four retractable metal measuring tapes for me to know where at least one is at any given time. I recently established that I need two saws of the kind you use to cut holes in wall board to know where one of those is. Right now, I know where both of them are. I needed to cut a hole for an electrical box and couldn’’t find the first saw. No wonder. It was in a storage box in the attic, not on a pegboard in the basement where it belongs.

Here’’s another tip about what are called old-work electrical boxes. You need a level to cut the hole because you don’t want the box to be crooked on the wall. If it’’s new work, the wall studs should be plumb, and square.  You attach the boxes to the studs before you install wallboard, so you need a level to install the wall, but not to install the electrical boxes.

Repainting my dining room reinforces what I already knew: The people who lived here before we moved in couldn’’t mud wallboard very well. I don’’t know why, but I can’’t do it anywhere near as well as I once could either.

Actually, I don’’t think I’’ve ever found a home repair the former owners of my house did that was done correctly.

My cell phone only works from the battery. If the battery dies and you plug it in to recharge it, the phone still doesn’’t work until the battery has achieved a specific level of charge. It won’’t work if it’’s plugged in and the battery’s removed either.

Speaking of batteries, it wasn’’t a dead one of those that kept me from starting my Toyota. I couldn’’t jump it to start it either. When I get it to run, I’’m going to sell it. It’’s a low-mileage Corolla. But since it’s 21-years-old, the low mileage is 152 thousand.

Some battery chargers you can buy for cars won’’t charge the car’s battery if it’’s completely dead. It needs a little charge in it or some chargers won’’t work at all.

Last Saturday in this space, I mentioned that I hadn’’t heard of Congress discussing extending the reduced rate for social security payroll taxes again even though it’’s due to expire at the end of this month. I heard about it this week. Same story as last time.

That Inconvenient Dedicated Tax

Since it is now early February, everyone who gets a paycheck has gone through at least one pay period under the reduced social security tax the congress passed and the president signed just about as late as possible in late December. Reckless is a good way to describe how the US Senate, and the US House approached extending that payroll tax reduction

During the debate, the Republicans in the House were correct that a two-month extension was no way to deal with tax policy, but voting against it would have been incredibly bad PR, so they acquiesced. Now, a little over a month later, we have a little less than a month to do it again. Have you heard any talk about another extension? Neither have I.

FICA is what the government calls it instead of Social Security tax. It stands for Federal Insurance Contribution tax. Reducing that tax was a bad idea in the first place. I know it was intended to fuel the economy by putting as much as $40 per pay period into lots of people’’s hands, but let’’s face it, $40 a paycheck is not a huge amount of stimulus.

Reducing the income tax would not have worked in the same, simple way because a lot of people don’’t pay income taxes, but everyone who works on the books does pay the FICA, or Social Security tax. Cutting that tax was a bad idea because it’’s the only tax dedicated to paying for Social Security benefits, and Social Security is severely under-funded if it’’s going to meet the obligations we don’’t even need an actuary to see coming.

Dedicated taxes are the ones that any government passes for a specific purpose. The FICA tax to pay for Social Security is one. The federal tax on gasoline is another as are lottery proceeds earmarked to support education as New York and some other states do. Dedicated taxes are good politically because they are more palatable to the electorate than most other taxes. Would you pay a gasoline tax to have a good interstate highway system? How about a Social Security tax to provide retirement and disability benefits? Or your local government may tell you it has to raise property taxes to hire more cops, and firemen or to avoid laying off the ones you already have.

So what’’s the problem? Needs change and so do the sources of the taxes. At first, the gasoline tax went to pay for federal highways like US 1 and US 101 or interstate highways like I-95 and I-5. But when most of the highways were built, the tax collected too much money. Did Congress reduce the tax? No. It siphoned some of it off to pay for mass transit, and for highway maintenance. Then, the gasoline crisis hit so people bought more fuel-efficient cars. Even though gas prices went up, tax revenue went down. That’’s why there are some in Congress now trying to come up with a way to charge us by the number of miles we drive each year, rather than by the amount of gasoline we consume.

In the case of Social Security, when the program started in the thirties as part of Franklin Roosevelt’’s New Deal, most people died before or just after they reached retirement age, there were a lot fewer people in the USA, and the ratio of workers to retirees was a lot higher than it is now. Today, we have twice as many people in the USA, a larger percentage of them than before are retired versus still working, and far too many are unemployed, so they’’re not paying either.

In other words, expenses have grown much faster than revenue, and every projection shows that trend will continue. Therefore, both houses of Congress, and the President in their extremely finite wisdom, teamed up to cut the tax without cutting the expenditures or providing another way to pay for Social Security. What would your family’’s balance sheet look like if that’’s the way you ran your finances?

To make up for difference, the government prints more money. If each of us did that, we’’d go to jail, but it’’s legal for Uncle Sam. The reduced payroll tax may stimulate the economy. It doesn’’t look like it from where I sit, but maybe it does. Printing more money does cause inflation. That’’s down the road a bit folks, but it’’s coming, trust me. When inflation does arrive, it will wipe out either all or part of the stimulus that the Social Security tax cut is creating, if it is creating one which is arguable.

I’’m against dedicated taxes in general, but I’’m against lowering this one in particular because even before it was lowered, it didn’’t bring in enough money to pay for the programs it was already supposed to pay for. You may have noticed through all of this that I haven’’t mentioned the so-called Social Security Trust Fund. That’’s because there isn’’t one. All of the Social Security taxes go into the general treasury.

Things I Want (Or Need) To Know

When I read that CBS is resurrecting the show “Person to Person,” it led me to wonder if they’’re resurrecting Edward R. Murrow too.

Have we reached the point in this country where you have to cheat on your spouse in order to run for public office? If so, that’’s one more reason I’’ll never run.

Attention iTunes programmers: I don’’t want the program to automatically download anything, so how (other than giving the program the information it wants) can I stop it from asking me twice to sign in every time I open the program to listen to some music?

When I turn on my Android phone, it says “DROID!” quite loudly in a strange voice that sounds as if it might be machine generated. Does anyone here know how to turn that off? The voice, not the phone. I know how to turn the phone off. I thought maybe I could replace the sound file that generates the word with a sound file that’s silent, but I can’t locate the appropriate file.

Since they have Caterpillar earth-moving equipment, why have I never seen any Moth or Butterfly earth-moving equipment? It seems as if it would be a natural progression to me.

Has the TV Show “Cheers” really been off the air for so long that when you hear that song on TV, you think of State Farm Insurance and not the show?

Grey Goose Vodka is now running a TV commercial that uses the song ““C’’est Ci Bon.”” The song is over 50 years old and, like its title, the entire lyric is written in French. This makes me wonder what demographic Grey Goose intends the ad to appeal to when vodka is generally thought of as Russian, and advertisers typically want to appeal to an audience fewer than 54 years of age because advertising agencies think older people aren’’t influenced very much by commercials.

Things I Know

As she resigns from Congress today, and we honor Rep. Giffords for her courageous battle to recover from the gunshot to her head, let’’s also take a moment to remember the other victims, the ones who died, like the little girl, the man who died shielding his wife, the young man from Rep. Giffords’’ staff, all of them.

I’’ve been to Las Vegas twice. I’’m not a big drinker, I don’’t gamble either, but I like the shows and the fancy hotels. One thing I like that surprised me is the fancy bathrooms in the nicest hotels. It’’s not that I spend a lot of time in them; it’’s just that the bathrooms in most hotels aren’’t all that nice at all so the ones in the large strip hotels look even more extravagant than they are by comparison.

My latest genius entrepreneurial idea is as follows: a service that will deliver prepared meals to people trapped in the waiting rooms of orthopedists.

I’’ve seen a couple of rants recently against touch screens in cars. This reminded me that I wanted to rant about the same thing. Why? Because you have to look at the touch screen to use it, and while you’re looking at the touch screen, you can’’t be looking at the road. I don’’t think the head unit in my truck could do quite as much if it had to rely on buttons, but I would like to return to buttons for radio presets.

Last weekend, a Boy Scout troop I’’m associated with went camping. When we returned to our cars, someone had written a racial epithet in the snow on the windshield. It doesn’’t matter what camp because I’’m sure that the camp staff didn’’t do it, and the council that runs the camp didn’’t condone it either. I emailed the camp’’s Scout Executive about the incident, and received an appropriate reply. The funny thing is when I first emailed the man through the Boy Scouts’ email server the software wouldn’’t even accept the complaint because I used the verboten word. So I had to complain a second time without being as specific about what happened.

I don’’t know if I like that or not because I’’m generally against censorship. I know the Boy Scouts of America don’’t approve of the word, and that’’s good, but they didn’’t use it and I only used it to complain about it.

It was such a hateful and ignorant thing to do that the only thing that encourages me about the person who actually did it is that he spelled the word right.

I read that Kim Kardashian has an Internet search alert that tells her whenever her name appears on the Internet. So, Kim honey, if you read this enjoy. It doesn’’t say anything bad about you. It doesn’’t say anything good either, but it doesn’’t say anything bad.

I have commented before on some of the surprising words that are included in MS Word’s dictionary, even proper nouns like Mandelbrot and Asimov. I’’m happy to report that MS Word doesn’’t recognize Kardashian as a word.

Things I Know

In case you didn’’t think so, and since I forgot to mention it for two weeks, the Sisyphus project is also copyrighted 2012.  All rights continue to be reserved.

At some time in the history of television, some show business professional fortunate enough to win an award must have made an entertaining acceptance speech. However, while flipping in and out of the Golden Globes, hoping to see Ricky Gervais say something really inappropriate, I can’’t think of one tonight.

As long as I’’m talking about award shows, if you win an award, and you’’d like to thank someone, don’’t tell us that you’’d like to, just thank them. Telling us you’’d like to thank them takes three extraneous words that someone else has surely already said.

Every politician, or almost every one, knows that if you try to thank everyone, you’’ll forget someone. That’’s why most of them don’’t try. Actors, directors, producers, etc., should know the same thing.  I hope they do know it someday.

I’’ve known for a long time, and said here before that the older you get the older both young and old get. I’’ve also said that growing older means having to explain things to grownups. Last Thursday night, I hung around for a few hours in Midtown Manhattan with a group of students who now attend a university I once attended. As I left that party, I realized that the older you get the MORE stuff you have to explain to grownups.

It didn’’t surprise me to find out there is a place in midtown Manhattan called “Peep World” (and while I didn’’t go inside, I don’’t think it sells baby chicks). Since I walked past it on Thursday night, if my reader needed to know where it was, hypothetically of course, I could now tell him or her.

I thought it only got as windy as it was here on Friday and Saturday on days I put those lightweight plastic garbage cans out on the curb to blow away, but Friday and Saturday proved to me that I was wrong about that. The cans apparently don’’t cause the wind after all.

I may be the last person in the world to do this, but I finally programmed my telephone for a personal ringtone. It took me a while to realize this, but personalized ringtones are actually useful as well as, of course, annoyingly cute. If you’’re in a room with a hundred people, and you hear a noise, you’’ll know either the phone call is for you or Doctor Who has just shown up in his TARDIS.

Oh God! Not only does the spell-checker in MS Word know how to spell TARDIS, it knows it’’s an acronym, so every letter should be capitalized.

If she hadn’’t died in 1971, Toughie Brasuhn would be 88 years old on Tuesday. If you don’’t already know, you don’’t care, so there’’s really no need to look it up. But I thought to look it up because I couldn’’t sleep last Tuesday morning and at 1:00 AM, modern-day Roller Derby was on Cablevision Channel 22. They didn’’t say, but I’’m pretty sure it no longer comes from the 69th Regiment Armory.

Kodak

I must be prescient: I do know how to spell it.

The weekend before Christmas I attended the graduation at Cornell where my niece received what she earned, a BS degree. I met her roommates, one of whom is an optical engineer, and is thinking of going to the University of Rochester because she says it has an excellent graduate program in that field. I asked her if she thought the university would be able to continue to afford that program if Kodak went bankrupt. I still don’’t know the answer to that question, but we may soon find out. Not quite three weeks later, the Wall Street Journal said Kodak is preparing for, and may soon declare bankruptcy.

Kodak is a company that didn’’t react quickly enough to changing technology. You may think I’’m talking about digital cameras, and I am, in part. However, years before digital cameras, Fuji mounted a challenge to Kodak in manufacturing photographic films. Kodak’s lack of reaction to Fuji eventually meant that Fuji film first became the equal of Kodak and then better than the photographic pioneer’’s products.

I hope that somehow Kodak can still pull things together. Its downfall is really too bad. Not only has the company been a major employer in Rochester, it’’s also been a marvelous corporate citizen, contributing to many, many good causes in that part of New York State.

Things I Want (Or Need) To Know

What’’s your New Year resolution? My New Year resolution is not to make any New Year resolutions. That’’s been my only resolution for a long time now, and I have no trouble keeping it.

Do Orthodox Christians celebrate New Year’’s Day thirteen days later than the rest of us too?

It didn’’t take Verizon Wireless very long to back down from that two-dollar charge for making one-time payments on line, did it? I believe they can hear us now, don’’t you?

Have you seen the TV commercial for a product called Hot Booties? They’re slippers and the soles that contain linseeds. According to the spot, you put them in the microwave oven, and when you take them out they keep your feet warm. The commercial even shows steam rising from the fresh-out-of-the-oven Hot Booties. That leads me to ask, do they come with their own dedicated microwave?

When it comes right down to it, aren’’t we all feckless? I mean, do you know anyone who owns even one single feck? Feck actually was once a word (it could be a noun or a verb), but most references list it as obsolete now.

Just exactly how American is apple pie anyway?

Have you seen those battery-operated finish nailers? The ones you can use without an air compressor? Did you know they cost at least as much, if not more than a compressor, and a nailer?  Since you don’’t have to lift up the compressor every time you drive a nail, the cordless ones are heavier than the pneumatic tool, and therefore more tiring to use too.

Things I Know

Have a happy New Year everyone: That’’s New Year, not New Years.

My dad retired from the New York City Police Department when I was six years old. Even at that young age, I knew he detested dealing with the drunks while he was on duty as a uniformed cop on New Year’’s Eve in Times Square. At that very young age, his hatred of New York City’s iconic New Year’’s Eve celebration impressed me so much that even when I was a teenager, I never wanted to be in Times Square on New Year’’s Eve to watch the ball drop from what used to be the NY Times building.

I occasionally comment on this blog about the correct way to handle crisis PR. If you want to see how to bring the entire Internet down on your head, then handle the crisis PR yourself and do it horribly wrong, Google either of the following two terms: “Paul Christoforo” or “Ocean Marketing.”

One thing that will happen in 2012 is the beginning of the end of incandescent light bulbs. They use a lot more energy to produce light than some newer technology does. On the other hand, they’’re a lot cheaper to buy than the new technology. It’’s not against the law to buy or use them, but it’s against the law to make certain wattage incandescent bulbs going forward.

Judging by what I’’ve seen this week on TV, we’’re going to have to deal with a lot of “documentaries” about the Mayan calendar that stops on December 21st, 2012. Lots of people have predicted the end of the world and nobody has been right so far. I predict that trend will continue, so when I take down my Christmas decorations next week, I’’m going to put them away, not throw them away.

If I can’’t figure out how to stop Google Music from launching when it wants instead of when I want, I’’m going to delete it from my computer sometime in January.

Even though the post office raised the first class postage rate to 45 cents, they raised the rate for post card stamps from 29 to 32 cents. This means that the post office remains one of the few American institutions that continue to push for the use of pennies.

I think we could do away with pennies, nickels and dimes. About the only thing I’’ve bought with a quarter recently was time at a parking meter.

There are two ways to be a successful broadcaster. Either learn the craft and do it better than anyone else, or do something compelling and entirely different from anyone else. In the second category was New York broadcaster Lynn Samuels. Lynn had a grating voice and a strong New York accent, both antithetical to the usual standard for broadcasters, and in a time of conservative talk radio she was a liberal with a decidedly independent stance. With that against her, she was smart, honest, funny, and well worth listening to. She once broadcast on WABC radio in New York, and was most recently heard on Sirius satellite radio. Lynn died unexpectedly on Christmas Eve, long before she ran out of things to say. Sad.

Rachel Redux

And before I get started, let me say that I’’m surprised MS Word’s spell-checker doesn’’t recognize the term redux. I mean the MS Word spell-checker knows Mandelbrot, so why not redux?

I heard from Rachel again around 2:40 this afternoon. You know, the robocalling voice from Cardholder Services. Honey, if you’re reading this, I’’m not falling for it. I won’’t buy anything from you, or anyone else who tries to sell me something over the phone. If you buy something from these people, it only encourages a practice that needs no encouragement.

The rest of you, just haven’’t done enough to stop this since I first posted about Rachel on December 15th. If you need more ideas than I suggested previously, try signing on to www.youtube.com and searching for telemarketer. There, you will find numerous recordings of Tom Mabe’’s classic telemarketer prank. Mr. Mabe has made at least two CD’s of calls from telemarketers who then received his off-beat reactions. The classic prank involves Mr. Mabe telling the telemarketer that he’s called a crime scene, the guy he wants to talk to has been murdered, and the cop he’’s talking to is going to call him in for questioning.

Since I have a terribly bad memory for names, another one I found on You Tube amused me a lot. The recipient of the call engaged the telemarketer for a few moments and then told her, that he had a bad memory and had forgotten why he called her. If you want a good laugh, Google the term “telecrapper 2000.” That’’s where I found the particular You Tube video, and other funny things too.

I had a telezapper when they first came out, but it died in a few years, and I didn’’t replace it. They’’re still available, but there are also more sophisticated robocall blockers available now. I haven’’t tried it, but I’’ve read that pressing the # key sometimes causes telemarketing systems to drop your number from their call list.

And here’s a warning. On the weekend before Christmas, I stayed in a Hilton Hotels property, in this case, a Homewood Suites. I liked the hotel a lot, but from my experience since then, and from the things I’’ve been reading on the Internet if you stay at a Hilton property, it appears you’’re likely to get called by Hilton’’s “Grand Vacation Club” which sells timeshares. I’’m on the federal no call list which kind of tells all telemarketers that I’’m not interested. Yet, one of the exemptions to that no call law is for people who have a business relationship with you. Hilton seems to interpret this as meaning that if I stayed in their hotel they have a relationship that allows them to call me and try to sell me a timeshare. The lady asked me if I was married, single or cohabiting. I said yes. She asked me again and I asked her why that was any of her business. She said she wanted to provide me with a trip to Las Vegas. I told her I am not interested. If that doesn’’t work, I can always call the Homewood Suites I stayed at, and tell them they have a relationship that enables me to never patronize Hilton hotels again if they keep calling.

While I have had the same telephone number for more than 30 years, in the future, I’’m going to give all businesses my Google phone number so that I can filter their subsequent calls.

Whether it’s a robocaller or a human telemarketer, I know that telemarketing provides jobs. However, the very concept is annoying, and an invasion of privacy. So I urge you not to buy anything from telemarketers, and either mess with them, or do what you can to block their calls, or all three.

Things I Know

Christmas is great, but it’’s even better when there are young children around to enjoy it with.

I’’ve bought my wife, Saint Karen (she has to be a saint to put up with me), a lot of nice presents over the years, and a few silly ones. I told you about the chocolate turkeys I once got her for Valentine’’s Day, but Christmas reminds me of more. Once, I rented a present. I bought a VCR and rented the video tape of a movie she liked. I presented the rented movie wrapped up as a gift. When I bought a new garbage can at Christmas time, I put it next to the tree as a present for her. Of course, I put all of her other presents, nicely wrapped, inside. This year, for Christmas, I got her a new squeegee. She keeps one in the car to wipe dew off the windows when she goes out in the morning, but the one she has is old and grungy. So, I bought her a new one, and because she’’s short, I got her one with a longer handle. How do you gift-wrap a squeegee? I don’’t know, so I just put a red bow on it and put it under the tree. She laughed and making her laugh was my own present to myself.

By the way, I think the secret to our long, successful marriage is I don’’t leave and I don’’t let her leave either.

I have to apologize to my daughter. She got me what I asked for this Christmas, a lens hood for a new lens I bought for my camera. Unfortunately, I wrote down the wrong model and it doesn’’t fit the right model, so one of us will have to take it back and exchange it for the right one.

I read a few months ago that public schools in lots of states are no longer teaching cursive writing or script as it’’s sometimes called. The idea is that very few people use script for writing anymore. I think they’’re right. Except for signing my name, I think the last time I wrote in script was last year when I filled out Christmas cards. Hand writing them this year seemed strange and my handwriting has never won any prizes, but with lack of practice, it is getting worse.

Winter started the other day so it is now appropriate to look forward to both spring and baseball spring training: February 18th is the first day for pitchers and catchers to work out for at least two major league teams, the Twins and the Cardinals. That’’s fewer than two months, so let the countdown begin!

The wood inside the walls of my 103-year-old house (lath, beams, rafters, studs, headers, etc.) is so hard that I can’’t drive screws into it without pre-drilling them. I’’m painting the dining room and before applying the paint, I have to fix the nails that have popped out and repair any cracks too.

I’’m kind of out of practice at using Spackle or other wall repair compounds. If I was as good as I used to be, this would be going a lot faster.

When placing doors, windows, molding, etc., you should always leave yourself enough room to get the necessary finishing tools like wallboard knives, and paint brushes next to them to take care of the exposed walls. I already knew that, but I didn’’t do that.

For some places, like behind the toilet, the best way to protect what you don’t want to paint is plastic food wrap.

I have a ten-foot-tall holly at one corner of my house. I planted it there when it was a foot tall to become part of my Christmas decorations. I light it like a Christmas tree. I’’d post a picture, but I haven’t pruned it in the last couple of years and it’’s not very cone shaped right now. I have a 15-foot-tall holly in my back yard. I found that when it was tiny, growing as a weed under one of the shrubs next to my house. So, if there’s one thing I know how to do, apparently it’’s how to grow holly. I guess there’s a future waiting for me as a holly farmer if I choose to pursue it.

I’’ve mentioned before that the spelling and grammar checkers in Microsoft Word have no idea how to discern the correct use of the word “its” and the contraction “it’’s.” Today, I suggest that Microsoft programmers either get a clue about that or stop trying to make the distinction at all. To be of some help, ““it’’s”” is the possessive form and means belonging to “it” while “”its”” is the plural of “it.” That was my weak attempt at a joke. I know both of the definitions I just provided are wrong.

Things I Want (Or Need) To Know

Is the world really going to end this time next year, or did the Mayans just go out of business (due to a hostile takeover by Spain) before they could publish a sequel to that famous calendar?

Can somebody please explain to me why some of the packages I order on line sit around my local post office for two days before they’’re delivered? According to the tracking data they provide, a package I ordered arrived at my local post office on Monday and was slated for delivery on Wednesday.

There is a small community off Rte 17 in upstate NY called Fishs Eddy. I’’m reminded of it because I drove past it over the weekend. Shouldn’’t it have an apostrophe in its name, or another “e?”

If you’’re in the express checkout line at the supermarket, do you mind if the person in front of you has more than the approved number of items? I hate it! If I ran a supermarket, and you got on the line with too many items, I’’d check out the number allowed, and tell you to go stand on the line again.

If you were looking for a recipe for Sushi, would you find one in a cookbook? I mean Sushi isn’’t cooked, right?

Do on-line merchants start their post Christmas sales after Christmas, or after they can no longer guarantee delivery of presents by Christmas?

I’’m pretty sure we won’’t have a white Christmas on Long Island, but if it stays as warm as it has been for much longer, do you think we can have fresh, home-grown tomatoes?

Things I Know

This is the ugliest carpet I’

I contend that the ugliest rugs in the world can be found in hotel hallways. I think it’s probably because a pattern like this will hide dirt, and stains pretty well.

I visited Cornell University over the weekend to see my niece graduate. I also picked up a new Cornell sweatshirt (I now have three, two reds, and a blue). My wife said I’’m not allowed to wear the new one while painting the house. I also picked up a new Cornell tie to replace the gravy-stained one. It would have been cheaper to order both over the Internet from the campus store, but I was proud to see my niece graduate, and we all had a nice time.

While we were in Ithaca, I took my wife to see the local Wegman’’s Supermarket. Now, she wants to move upstate, not to Ithaca, to Wegman’’s.

You’’ve lived with an interior paint job for years, and think it looks fine. They, you decide to repaint the room, just to change the color, of course. The walls are wrecked! I have a couple of days of Spackling to do in my dining room, and hope I can finish painting it before Christmas.

I capitalized “Spackling,” by the way, because it is a trade name, and it has so much of the market the company is probably in danger of losing the trademark. And, yes, I did use Spackle for my Spackling job.

I hate everyone who is more organized than I am. In other words, I hate almost everyone.

The lady in front of me in the express line at the supermarket must have had close to 100 items. For one thing, she practically bought out the canned cat food line. Hey, it was on sale. I know it doesn’’t work, but I still wish something awful would happen to people like that who abuse the limits in supermarket express checkout lines.

Usually, when someone says an investment lost money, they mean that the investment isn’’t worth what it once was. In the case of MF Global, apparently the now bankrupt investment firm really did lose $1.2 billion. My best guess: somebody or a bunch of somebodies stole it. I don’’t think you can have $1.2 billion in bad bookkeeping. If you have that kind of money, you’’d hire accountants who are too good to lose $1.2 billion, in other words, you’d hire virtually any accountants who hadn’’t done time for embezzlement.

If they really did lose the money, my wife is very good at finding my stuff, and I’’m sure she would be willing to look for the money for a percentage of what she finds.

Anne Coulter turned 50 recently. For those of you befuddled by Ms. Coulter, it helps to remember, she’’s not a political commentator; she’’s a performance artist.

If you are walking around the supermarket, and chatting a mile a minute with nobody near you, many people will think you’’re on the phone if you’re wearing a Bluetooth headset. However, I’’ll still think you’’re talking to yourself, and you’’re nuts.

Rachel from Cardholder Services

I have a theory that Rachel from Cardholder Services isn’t really working for a company called Cardholder Services, and she isn’t working for a telemarkeing company calling on behalf of that company either. I think Rachel is working on behalf of telephone companies to encourage people to buy caller ID services.

Rachel has called me three times in the past two days. I’m not that starved for human contact: It’s a Christmas present I really don’t need. I’m a little surprised that when I Googled “Rachel from Cardholder Services” I only got 42,400 hits. I’m not surprised that when I looked through the first two pages of the Google list, I didn’t find anyone praising her, and expressing the joy they feel whenever she calls (and she does call frequently). I find it hard to believe that annoying the vast majority of potential customers is an effective marketing strategy, but I guess it must be or they wouldn’t keep doing it.

I know being on the federal no call list doesn’t work to stop the calls. I know talking to a representative, telling them I’m on the federal no call list, and asking to be removed from their list doesn’t work. I’m told that dropping your land line doesn’t work either because they do call cell phones although that’s against the law too. I know selecting #2 so they won’t be calling me again doesn’t work. I’m told that if you talk to them, and ask for the contact information so you can send them a don’t call letter and begin suing them results in them hanging up on you although I haven’t tried that yet. I’ve heard the Federal Trade Commission got a multi-million-dollar judgement against the people they think are doing it, and that hasn’t worked either.

As 2011 comes to a close, I have a long list of people I’d like to annoy in 2012. Does anyone here know how I can contact Rachel? She must work inexpensively because I’m sure the number of people who buy Cardholder Services services is very low compared to the number of annoying phone calls she, and the company she works for place. Seriously, I’m plenty annoying on my own when I want to be, and if I’m not annoying enough, I’m related to more than one lawyer so I can always call on family for help. But I would like to stop Rachel.

So, here’s my suggestion with props to www.419eater.com. That website began as a way to go after the Nigerian email scam that tried to convince naive people that a Nigerian government official or banker needed their help to smuggle money out of that country, and that the emailer was willing to share large amounts of money with the gullible subject in order to accomplish this. They now go after other scams too. The person or people who run that website, and the people who send suggestions to them share ways in which they waste the time of the Nigerian scammers. By the way, I don’t even know if the scammers are Nigerian. I only know they say they are. They may not be. They’re scammers after all. Reading 419eater.com is entertaining. People trying to waste scammers’ time can be very creative. 419eater.com, however, deals mostly with email scams, not annoyance phone calls.

Let’s waste Rachel’s time and the time of her cohorts who pick up the phone if you press the right button. Press the right button to talk to a representative. Be cordial. Engage the person on the other end of the phone. Ask them if they know that George Washington wasn’t born on his birthday. See if you can get them to send you something in writing or give you a call back number so you’ll have more to identify them when you file a formal complaint with the FTC. If they ask how you are, tell them you have terminal cancer, or that although the doctors amputated your leg, it still feels like it’s there, and it still hurts. Tell them that your children are being really nasty to you, and trying to rob you of your millions, or that your dog just died, and you’re really, really sad. Tell them you have to talk quickly or the attendant at the mental hospital will make you hang up the phone. Maybe even breathe heavily into the phone, but don’t descend into obscenity-laced ranting. Don’t threaten them either. I believe obscene phone calls and threats of violence are illegal, and you don’t want to break the law yourself. Ask them to hold on for a minute while you go answer the door. Tell them you’re glad they called because it gives you the opportunity to ask them if they’ve accepted the Lord, Jesus Christ as their personal God, and Savior. Be creative folks. I can’t think of everything.

In other words, waste their time. Instead of hanging up every time they call, see if you can get them to hang up every time you call. If it takes them ten minutes to deal with everyone they call, and nobody buys what they’re selling, they’ll have to stop eventually. I’m depending on you dear readers. And if that doesn’t work, maybe we can get anonymous or 4chan to take thwarting Rachel from Cardholder Services on as a cause.

Things I Want (Or Need) To Know

Is “bookkeeping” the only word in the English language with three double letters in a row?

According to the Wall Street Journal, Sears Holdings Corp. owner of Sears and K-Mart lost $421 million in the quarter ending October 31st. Some retail analysts think the company is planning to milk its stores, sell its respected brands, and then sell off the real estate, and get out of retail. If Sears does go out of business, what happens to the lifetime guarantee on all my Craftsman tools?

How did Santa handle the naughty, and nice list before we had computerized databases, and tracking cookies?

Can you remember the last time you chewed gum? I can’’t remember the last time I did.

Has any supermarket anywhere ever had 2-liter bottles of Coke, and Pepsi on sale the same week?

Do you think my wife will buy it if I tell her I need a compressor, and a couple of nail guns to build radiator covers and book cases? More importantly, will she let me buy the kit?

Are there really very few people who want bubble lights on their Christmas trees? The reason I ask is that the replacement lights are getting harder, and harder to find. The hardware store down the street used to stock them, but stopped two years ago, and bubble lights burn out faster than any other Christmas decoration I have.

Things I Know

I don’’t suppose it’’s national news, but there’’s a cheating scandal over SAT scores here on Lawn Guy Land. Some high school students supposedly paid some college students to take the exam for them. As I understand it, one of the fraudulent test takers received several hundred dollars to achieve a combined score of 1,920 out of 2,400 on the test. As I figure it, that’’s a solid B. I got 1,500 on the test when the highest possible score was 1,600. I’’d be happy to take the test for others except for two things: I’’m too old to pass for a high school student; and taking the SAT for someone else is a felony, at least where I live.

In the last item, MS Word’s grammar checker objected to my use of the contraction “it’’s,” but would have allowed me to substitute “it is.” Sometimes it tells me both “it’’s,” and “its” are wrong, but it has never told be both are correct.

It’’s a little early to conduct the voting, but the current TV commercial for Fruit of the Loom t-shirts has to be considered a front runner for stupidest commercial of the year.

Pillsbury is advertising its cinnamon rolls on TV as containing Cinnabon cinnamon. That’’s fine, but on those rare occasions that I go to Cinnabon, it’’s not for the cinnamon, it’’s for the gooey, sticky white icing.

Speaking of cinnamon, I’’ve been experimenting with adding it to my oatmeal. I got up to two heaping teaspoons full, and I could barely taste it. At that rate, I don’’t think I’’ll continue to raise the stakes.

Thinking I would like it, my daughter bought me a geek present from a vendor on Etsy.com. I do like it, so I was looking through the website for something else and found a “blue screen of death” t-shirt. As one more proof that there’’s always someone who doesn’’t get it, the shirt comes in 14 colors, and only three of them are blue.

Vacuum cleaner is a peculiar term, because a vacuum is clean by definition. However, vacuum cleaner or shop vacuum for home use is a very simple tool, usually easy to repair. My wife’’s family kept an upright Hoover going for 40 years or more. I had to clean the powered beater bar on the carpet attachment for our canister vac yesterday. Two things about repairing a vacuum: it’’s handy to have a second vacuum around so you can clean up the mess you find inside the one you’’re fixing, and keep that mess from getting all over the house; and if I didn’’t have the manual for mine, I would never have been able to take it apart without breaking it.

I usually lose paperwork, so when I buy any appliance, if it has a manual, I try to download it to my computer. I haven’’t lost the computer yet, and while I have had a couple of hard drive failures over the years, I back up pretty regularly, so it hasn’’t been a problem.

We don’t use our formal dining room a lot, but we used it for Thanksgiving dinner. It was the first time since I reupholstered the dining room chairs. I didn’’t just change the fabric; I also replaced the seat cushions with thicker, softer ones, and replaced the plywood base of one of the chairs. What an improvement! Not only are the chairs much more comfortable, but the new fabric looks really classy. Additionally, I treated the chairs with Scotchguard so they ought to be stain resistant as well.

Thanks

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Things I Know

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Things I Know

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Things I Want (Or Need) To Know

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

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

Would the dog like it if I licked its face?

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

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

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

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

Things I Know

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Things I Know

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Linzer

linzer3.jpg

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

Things I Want (Or Need) To Know

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

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

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

When was the apostrophe dropped from Halloween?

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

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

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

Things I Know

A Stony Brook University Professor, Fred Friedberg, has received a $600,000, two-year grant to study home-management techniques for chronic fatigue syndrome. When I was in college, I had a couple of professors who could alleviate chronic fatigue with their lectures which put people to sleep. But that’’s not a home-management technique, so I suppose it won’’t be covered in the study.

The word “microcosm” exists. So does the less-often used word “macrocosm.” But I’’ve been unable to find any use of “cosm” as a word. Strange. Using Google, you can find several places that use cosm as an acronym though.

I knew about East Orange, South Orange and West Orange, NJ, but until I went and looked it up, I was unaware that just plain old Orange NJ exists too. There isn’’t, however, a North Orange, NJ.

I’‘m very impressed with Sta-bil, the fuel stabilizer. Two years ago, I didn’’t run my pressure washer until it ran out of gas before storing it for the winter, but I did put Sta-bil in the gas tank. Even though I put pump antifreeze in the pressure washer, the pump went bad, but in the summer of 2010, I had it fixed. I didn’’t use it last year though because I had shoulder surgery and couldn’’t pull start it. This week, it started right up on two-year-old gasoline! I’’m sure there are other products like Sta-bil, but I’’ve tried this one, it works great and I’’m going to go buy more.

I have to buy more because there’s no Sta-bil preserver. According to the product label, Sta-bil expires two years after it’s opened.

The odds of winning either Powerball or Mega-Millions is in the range of 200 million to one. Your mileage may vary. Buying a ticket for every drawing, 104 tickets a year, doesn’’t improve your odds enough to notice. Buying a ticket for every drawing and living to be around 2,000,000 years old would improve them a lot more.

Having just done it, if you live in a house with lath and plaster walls, I don’’t recommend hanging your new flat-panel TV on the wall. The instructions say you have to attach the mount to a stud. Finding studs in lath and plaster isn’’t easy. Electronic stud finders are useless. I found mine with a drill. I had to drill about a dozen holes and probe those holes with a wire coat hanger to do so. But the TV is up now and it looks great.

There is a business in Bellmore NY called the Bare Naked Bakery and Café. I haven’’t been in there yet, but it does give me the mental picture of formerly naked people made by the health department to dress in head-to-toe hairnets. That image may be enough to keep me out of the place.

It’’s supposed to be nice for the next few days, so I’’ll probably be staining the floor of my porch.

Things I Want (Or Need) To Know

Threatening a country with military action is called saber rattling. So, is threatening to attack someone’s computer or internet connection or network infrastructure known as cyber rattling?

If, as reported on the news Monday, the Occupy Wall Street protesters have received $300,000 in donations, are they keeping it in a bank?

I bought a TV from Amazon.com. Now, when I sign in and look at my recommendations, the list contains a lot of TV sets. Is this normal? Does it work? The same thing happened when I bought a camera from them. It annoys me. Does it happen to you and if it does, what do you think about it?

So, I was in the store buying a lottery ticket (because I could use $124 million). The store also sells loose candy (a much better bet), and the guy in front of me ordered a small bag of jelly beans. That prompted me to ask if he could sing the “Jelly Beaner” song from Romper Room. He couldn’t, but the lady behind the counter looked at me as if I was weird. Can you sing it?

What will society be like in a few years if children who are watching reality TV now think “Jersey Shore,” “Bridezillas,” “Real Housewives,” and other shows of that ilk represent both normal behavior, and the way they should act?

Some years back, the word geek became common in the English language. I’ve always wondered if all the nerds who existed at the time were grandfathered in, and automatically became geeks too. Someone told me recently that the word “nerd” was created by Dr. Seuss. Did you know that? I didn’t.

Was the copywriter for the latest Dos Equis beer commercial on the track team at some point in his or her life? I think the writer is or was a shot putter and I’m not being politically correct here. Women do throw the shot put; it’s an Olympic sport for women. The reason I say that is the most interesting man in the world bowls overhand. That’s a shot putter’s joke, a really old shot putter’s joke.

Things I Know

Even more than “you know,” I wish everyone who is professional enough to be paid for being on TV, and/or radio would stop forever saying the word “like.” “Dancing with the Stars” is particularly egregious in this matter.

I don’’t usually watch that show, but I’’ve noticed that a lot of the music they use is too old to play on most radio stations.

All of the participants in the baseball league championship series are located in the central time zone. That certainly makes it easier for their fans to stay up long enough to see the end of the games.

If someone tells you they can’’t hear you, try this: cover your mouth with your hand, turn away from the person you’re talking to and speak more softly; you’ll find out as I have that doesn’’t work!

Blackberry email service had multiple outages in multiple places in the last week. First, for something so vital to the company, it amazes me that Blackberry doesn’’t run a completely redundant system so that if part of it fails they could activate a switch, and keep on keeping on. Second, if your company is thinking of switching to another device because of this system-wide failure, you should know this: The phone directory app that came with my Android phone only sorts entries by first name, not last name, and not company name. To me, this means I have to use the search function to find an entry for almost anyone whose first name isn’’t Abe. Very un-business like!

If you have an Android phone, and you are a geek, check out an app called LHSee. It allows you to view in real time what’s going on at the Large Hadron Collider over in Switzerland.

It used to be a lot easier to set up a TV set, but that’’s the trade off because today’’s sets can do a whole lot more than the old ones did. The one I just bought for my wife, Saint Karen (she has to be a saint to put up with me) is right now streaming Netflix. I’’m sure it can do a lot more too. Unless it dies prematurely, I’’m sure we’ll like it a lot.

Most people still work Monday to– Friday during the day. So, we have to go to bed on Sunday night early enough to be able to get up, and go to work on Monday. That’’s why it has always baffled me that late-night TV and radio shows generally broadcast overnight Monday-Tuesday thru overnight Friday-Saturday. Five in a row beginning on Sunday night-Monday morning makes more sense to me. There is at least one radio show that does follow that schedule. It’’s Red Eye Radio with host Doug McIntyre.

In my continuing quest to improve the English language, I propose that we change the word palindrome so that the word that means palindrome is a palindrome.

Things I Want (Or Need) To Know

I’’m not trying to be snarky here; I really want to know what the Occupy Wall Street protesters are trying to accomplish. I haven’’t heard any goals articulated, have you?

Did you watch the first round of the baseball playoffs on TBS? I have older TV’s; no high definition ones and I can’’t read the graphic on the upper right of the screen telling you what inning, what’’s the score, and how many outs there are. I can’’t read it even if I get close enough to see the pixels in the cathode ray tube. Can you? I can read it on a high-def set though. I know that because the tire store where I bought a pair of tires today had a high def set in the customer waiting room. How soon do you suppose it will be before you have to buy high definition TV’s to see what’’s on the screen properly? Analogue CRT sets are already obsolete; how soon before they’’re unusable?

If laughter is the best medicine, why did my health insurance turn down coverage of my tickets to a comedy club?

The phrase “one another” recently caught my eye. What’s the maximum number of anothers you can have in one place at one time anyway?

Did Nancy and Sir Paul choose to get married on John Lennon’’s birthday, or was it just a coincidence?

Things I Know

RIP Steve Jobs.

I am extremely saddened that the “establishment media” thought it important on Wednesday to discuss whether Nancy Grace farted on “Dancing With the Stars” Tuesday evening.

There is a movie about to go into theaters called “Real Steel.” It’s supposed to be about robots that fight each other. My daughter said it should be called “Rock ‘‘em Sock ’em Robots: the Movie”

If I ever get one of those Ford Raptor muscle pickup trucks, I’m going to check with DMV to see if the vanity license plate VELOCI is available.

When I was a child, people went to movie theaters to see movies (or to make out). You paid the adult admission price at 12 years old, but had to sit in the children’s section until you were 16. I always told the ushers that if I was adult enough to pay the adult admission price, I was also old enough to sit in the adult section. If that wasn’t good enough for them, I maintained, they could refund my ticket, and I would leave. They only made me leave once.

My wife, Saint Karen (she must be a saint to put up with me) likes TV a lot more than I do, and watches a lot more of it than I do too. I’m thinking of buying a high definition TV for her for our anniversary. And, no, I’m not buying it for me to watch football. I don’t watch football, and neither does she. Although, she will occasionally check the score on University of Alabama is playing football because our son is an alumnus.

If anyone has a more romantic suggestion for an anniversary present for Saint Karen, I’m open to it. Last Year, I bought her a ruby pendant and took her to Las Vegas for a week.

I think my daughter was kidding when she asked if I knew that the guy who does all those TV commercials, especially for Ford, is also a baseball shortstop.

I learned a new medical term today. The dentist told me I have an “incipient cavity.” That means he thinks one is forming, so he’ll look for it at my next regular check up.

I’d much rather go to the dentist than to the doctor. It hurts more, but the dentist is much better at being on time.

Things I Want (Or Need) To Know

Denmark has passed a so-called fat tax on food that’’s high in trans-fats. Haven’’t the Danes heard about Danish pastry?

TV networks that air football games usually schedule them for three hours. On CBS, for example, the late-afternoon football game is scheduled to air from 4:00 PM and 7:00 PM. During the football season, the news magazine 60 Minutes always airs late. There must be statisticians around who know that a one-hour football game takes more than three hours. Why don’’t the networks schedule the games to air for at least as long as the median football game takes to be aired?

I heard audio clips of President Obama’’s speech last month before the Black Congressional Caucus’’ annual dinner. Where did he get that accent? Wasn’’t he born in Hawaii?

Do you think Jennifer Lopez has ever driven a Fiat 500 anyplace except in the TV commercial she does for the car?

Night games in the MLB division championships are scheduled for first pitch at 8:37 PM eastern time. I know they want the audience in middle and western time zones to be able to see the first pitch, but don’’t you think it would be nice to schedule the game so people on the east coast can see the last pitch?

I wanted to marry my wife, not her hand, so why did I ask for her hand in holy matrimony?

Do you have a Google Voice account? It’’s pretty amazing really. One of its features is if you get a voice mail message, you can set your account to email you a computerized transcript of the message. Wouldn’’t it be even more amazing if the emails you got were coherent? I don’’t get a lot of emails this way, but for the ones I have received, I’’ve been able to figure out what phone number to call back, but not a lot more.

Things I Know

I’’ve got a great idea about what President Obama should do:  He should pick up the bullpen phone and bring Mariano into the game.

There are two reasons you can’’t let sleeping dogs lie, or tell the truth:  Dogs can’’t speak any language people can understand; and they’’re sleeping.

I’’ve had it with all the changes in Facebook.  I think they should slow the pace of their changes.

Andy Rooney wasn’’t on the season opener of 60 Minutes for the first time since 1978.  Now, CBS has announced that this Sunday will be Andy’’s final “regular” appearance on the show.  They didn’’t say he retired or that he was forced out, although either is a possibility since he is 92 years old and his act seems to appeal more to older rather than younger viewers.  Who knows?  Perhaps CBS has initiated a late retirement program and Andy decided to take advantage of it.

On the Smithsonian Channel’s program “Aerial America,” the narrator talked about a monastery near Carmel California that houses nuns.  Then it isn’’t a monastery, is it?  Monasteries house monks.  Nuns live in nunneries or convents.  These days, some also live in private residences, rather than communally.

Not that you asked, but here’’s another progress report on remodeling our house.  All the living room walls are now coated with one coat of beige paint.  My wife accepted my desire for beige.  You see, if we decide to sell this house before it needs to be painted again, I won’t have to paint it again if it’’s a nice neutral color.

If Warren Buffet thinks he doesn’’t pay enough taxes, there’’s nothing to prevent him from donating something to the government to make up the difference.

Occasionally, in the middle of the night, I dream that the door bell is ringing.  When that happens, it always wakes me up.

I have to laugh whenever I hear teachers’ unions talk about class size.  From first to third grade, I went to Catholic school.  We didn’’t have small classes.  We didn’’t have teacher’s’ aides.  We did have 65 kids in a class, one nun with a ruler establishing, and maintaining discipline.  Her name was Sister Mary Knucklebuster.

I had a crush on a pretty little blonde girl in my first-grade class.  She sat by the classroom door because her surname was near the beginning of the alphabet; I sat near the windows because my name was near the end of the alphabet, so we never met.

Here’’s to horticultural success.  Last fall, I bought a couple of pots of mums to put on my front stoop.  When the flowers fell off, I divided the plants into several pieces and planted them in the bed in front of my porch.  They survived and within the last few days, they’’ve started coming into bloom.

On the agriculture front, I had more limited success.  My crop of tomatoes tasted good, but a lot of them were ruined by blossom-end rot.  When I clean up the beds soon, I’’m going to till some gypsum into the soil.  I’’ll do it again in the spring before I plant and that ought to prevent the same thing from happening next year.  Maybe I’’ll plant some winter rye too.

One of my trellises broke this summer though, so I’’ll either have to fix it or try a different kind.

Next summer, I’’ll also have to be more vigilant because this year, the birds got to my blueberries before I could.

Things I Want (Or Need) To Know

 

  • So the last two of the three of the young hikers arrested for spying near the Iraq-Iran border two years ago have been freed on $500,000 “bail” each.  I’’m pretty sure each of them has every intention of skipping bail.  But nobody paid any ransom, so it’s okay, right?

  • I hate being cold, so why do I live someplace that’’s cold for more of the year than it is hot?

  • Have you ever walked along a beach that is just covered with shell steaks?

  • Is there any other kind of cold than a miserable one?  I don’’t think so.  That’’s the only kind I’’ve ever had, and I had one starting last Thursday.  Unless a new symptom presents itself tonight or tomorrow, I think I’’m getting better now.

  • I’’ve lived in a lot of places, so I’’ve probably painted the inside of more houses, and apartments than most amateur house painters. That makes me wonder why I knocked over a bucket of paint today when I was trying to paint the walls, not the floor?  I’’ve never done that before.

 

Things I Know

 

  • When I first heard that Tareq Salahi had reported to police that his wife, Michaele, might have been kidnapped, my initial reaction was the two of them were such publicity hounds that perhaps authorities ought to look for her on a balloon in Colorado.  But no, she just left him for another guy.

  • If beating a dead horse doesn’’t work, a typical reaction from many government types is to add more dead horses.  President Obama’’s jobs bill is pretty much more of the same as the stimulus cargo (it was too big to be a package) of a couple of years ago.  Plus the President wants to pay for it with new taxes, so one of two things is possible.  Either the President doesn’’t remember the battle over extending the national debt ceiling earlier this summer, or he’’s introduced the bill believing it will not pass the House and intending to campaign against the Republican majority as being against jobs.

  • I believe both parties want to create jobs, but each thinks that what they’’re doing is right, and what the other party is doing is counter-productive.  That’’s why it’’s so hard to get anyone to compromise on this issue.

  • Whether you approved of Bill Clinton as President, you’’ve got to admit he is, and was a master politician.  He ran once on the slogan, ““It’’s the economy stupid.””  So, on the theory that imitation is the sincerest form of imitation, a candidate for President, either Republican or Democrat may be able to win next year’’s election simply by running on the slogan, ““It’’s the jobs, stupid.””

  • I will now be cold, probably until sometime in late April, or early May.  I hate being cold!

  • I found another store, this one a supermarket, within a couple of miles of my house that sells Good & Plenty candy.  But the market only sells the six ounce boxes, not the eight ounce bag.  At least, if I had the box, I could pretend I’’m the engineer on a steam engine, like Choo Choo Charlie used to do.

  • In the same supermarket, a one-pound bag of pretzels costs $3.29.  I maintain that if you live long enough, all prices are ridiculous.  I don’’t think I’’m there yet, but I remember when steak cost less than that.

  • I’’m doing my part to increase consumer spending.  I rolled up all the coins in my change jar, cashed them in, and injected $85 into the local economy.

Things I Want (Or Need) To Know

 

  • Are there any other Word Press bloggers out there who can tell me how to reset the time on the blog?  I only ask because I posted my piece on 9-11-11 very early in the morning, right after midnight, but the blog software decided for me that I posted on 9-10-11, making my references to “today” seem a little silly.

  • Did you know that if you buy them from Amazon.com, you can subscribe to Good & Plenty candy, and then they’’ll send you more at specified intervals?  Subscribing to candy appeals to me a great deal more than subscribing to magazines does.

  • You’’ve got a lot of holes in your head and so, of course, do I.  There’’s your mouth, your nasal passages, your sinuses. and in my case, the large space where a normal person would have a brain.  Because of something called head resonance, your voice sounds different to you than it does to anyone else.  That’’s why someone who hears their voice recorded for the first time may be surprised, and think the recording doesn’’t sound like them.  To overcome head resonance, radio broadcasters often wear headphones, and turn them up quite loud so they can hear what they really sound like.  I did that when I was on the radio.  I think that’’s at least part of the reason for my hearing problems.  I have tinnitus, so if there’s a lot of background noise, I have trouble understanding what people are saying to me.  Since I know I have minor hearing problems, this leads me to ask you, do you have trouble understanding the actors on BBC TV programs?  I often do, and it’’s not because of the accents.  I think the background music is too loud, and some of the actors’ speech sounds muddy to me.

  • Why would you quit cold turkey?  I look forward to the day after Thanksgiving so I can make myself a delicious turkey sandwich on rye with mayo and cranberry sauce.  Just for the record, I like hot turkey sandwiches with giblet gravy too, but I prefer those on white bread.

  • I don’’t understand this kind of marketing, do you?  I never subscribed to Rolling Stone Magazine, but somebody sent it to me anyway.  Rolling Stone did ask me to renew, and I didn’’t do that either, but I’’m still getting the magazine.  I understand the logic behind a free sample, but how does one make money by giving away the product, and continuing to give it away once the user refuses to pay to continue receiving it?

  • Having confessed my fondness for the British sci-fi TV show Doctor Who, I’’ve never understood the following:  Why doesn’’t the Doctor’’s miraculous sonic screwdriver (which disrupts things electronic and mechanical) disrupt Daleks or Cybermen?

9-11

 

You just can’’t avoid all the TV shows, and newspaper articles about 9-11 today and leading up to today, the tenth anniversary of the worst attack ever on American soil:  Nor should you.  Thousands of victims and hundreds of heroes died that day. Uncounted others risked their lives, and/or their health in the days and months afterward removing the rubble from the wrecked World Trade Center.  That;’s not even counting all the US military men, and women killed, and wounded in subsequent action against Iraq, and Afghanistan, and we should count them.

I’’m going to raise an issue that I haven’’t seen raised before.  It appears to me, based on the reporting I’’ve seen, some of the ceremonies surrounding the annual commemoration of 9-11 are keeping the early stages of mourning alive in some of the survivors of those killed.  In other words, I suspect that some of the remembrances have kept people from getting to the point where life can go on instead of helping them to reach that point.

I hope I’’m wrong and if I’’m right, I don’’t know what to do about it.  We should remember the heinous attack.  We should honor the heroes.  I just don’t know how to move the ceremonies more toward remembering, and more away from mourning, but after ten years, I suggest that people smarter than I am ought to be thinking about how to do that if they aren’’t already doing so.

I’’ll be participating in one of the ceremonies today, a small one at a local church.  I’’ve had no part in planning the ceremony, so don’’t know whether it leans toward remembrance or mourning.  We all need to concentrate on the bad things about our enemies who did these awful things.  We also need to concentrate on the good things we remember about those who are gone.  Nobody should try to get over their deaths, we should never forget.  But in addition to remembering, we should do whatever we can to help the living get on with living.

In the days to come, as well as remembering 9-11, it would be a very good thing if we could remember and even recapture the spirit of national unity that filled the country on 9-12-2001,  and for a long time afterward.

Things I Know

 

  • My wife, Saint Karen (she has to be a saint to put up with me), and I must be the only people for miles around who like Good & Plenty candy:  You know, the pink & white sugar coated licorice.  I say that because there’’s only one store within a couple of miles of my house that sells them,and when I buy the last package, it takes them a while to restock.

  • Whether you approve of Texas Governor Rick Perry or not, your Social Security taxes do not go into an account to pay for your retirement.  People working now are paying for the retirement benefits of people who are retired now, so in that sense, Governor Perry is correct that it is a sort of Ponzi scheme.

  • If President George W. Bush’s niece, Lauren, married designer Ralph Lauren’s son, Richard, she’’d be Lauren Lauren, and that’’s what she did.

  • If you are remodeling and staining rather than painting the woodwork, don’’t install (or let a contractor install) said woodwork before mudding and sanding the wallboard.  If you do, you’’ll only have to stain it a second time after it’’s installed.

  • My neighbor across the street has a large, beautiful crape myrtle.  It started blooming in mid August.  Because I like his so much, last year I bought one too.  Imitation is the sincerest form of imitation, I always say.  I believe mine is a slightly different variety because it burst into full bloom this past weekend.  My crape myrtle isn’’t as big as my neighbor’s is, but I am very satisfied with the way it looks and the way it’’s growing.

  • I heard that older women dress too young because they copy the way their daughters dress.  That’’s ridiculous!  My wife doesn’’t own even one black t-shirt with Rob Zombie’’s picture on it.  I do have one black t-shirt, but it has two big eyes in a yellow circle and says, “Moon equipped” on it.

  • I think I was wrong about how many utility knives I need to own before I can be sure I know where at least one of them is at all times.  I thought the number was four, but I recently discovered that I own two green ones, so now I think the number is five.

  • The Town of Smithtown Long Island has passed legislation to make residents contain bamboo on their property.  In case you’’re not aware, bamboo propagates with runners, is extremely hardy and difficult to contain or eliminate.  The Town of Islip is considering doing the same thing.  Maybe they should both get some pandas.

Things I Know

 

  • To all of the idiots out there (not just Michelle Bachman) who think that natural disasters like the eastern earthquake and Hurricane Irene are God’’s way of trying to tell us something:  God is more interesting than the “Most Interesting Man in the World” from those clever beer commercials.  If God wants to tell us something, and requests airtime from all the networks, He’’ll get it, when he wants it.  Plus, if God wants to tell us something, and get it across immediately, He can just tweet it.

  • First, President Obama decided to address a joint session of Congress at the same time as the next scheduled debate for Republican presidential candidates.  House Speaker Boehner suggested the following night.  Then President Obama agreed to the following night but reassured the nation that he will be done speaking before the first NFL football game of the season kicks off at 8:30 EDT.  Personally, I don’’t have a conflict since I don’’t plan to watch the debate, the speech, or the football game.

  • I’’ll become interested in the 2012 presidential race when one of two things happens:  when it becomes interesting; or when it becomes a whole lot closer.

  • During August, I attended two information sessions on New York State’s recently enacted two percent tax levy cap.  That thing is going to be a whole lot of fun!

  • My cable provider just started providing BBC America.  Good!  I’’m about as big a fan of the British sci-fi series “Doctor Who” as anyone who doesn’’t collect memorabilia, go to conventions, and dress up in costumes, but if BBC America is going to keep showing episodes three times a day, I don’’t think I’’m going to be able to keep up.

  • Doctor Who fans who do collect memorabilia, go to conventions and dress up in costume are generally called Whovians, but I think it would be funnier to call them Whoers.

  • I got another good idea for a business.  It’’s a combination coffee house and comedy club.  I’’m planning to call it “Brew Ha Ha.”

  • If you have any age on you at all, one thing that has improved a lot in your lifetime is adhesive or glue.  Why is it better?  A far greater degree of control over how well it sticks.  For example, toilet paper.  There was a time when the end of a roll of toilet paper was glued down so securely that freeing the end resulted in destroying a lot of the product.  Recently, preparing a roll of toilet paper for use has become much easier because the glue they use these days is nowhere near as sticky, but I encountered a retro roll today.

  • And speaking of toilet paper, softness is a very useful trait to have in toilet paper up to a point, after which it becomes a real problem.

 

Things I Want (Or Need) To Know

 

  • I keep hearing commercials (or maybe they’’re public service announcements) on radio station WFAN for the Jerry Lewis Labor Day Telethon.  It was all over the place when the Muscular Dystrophy Association split with Jerry who raised over a billion dollars for them since the telethon began.  Have they made up?  I know there was one report, later retracted, in the Las Vegas Review Journal that they had, but I’’m still under the impression that Lewis is no longer in the picture, so why are they still using his name on the telethon?

  • Is your power back on yet?  I hope so.  Luckily for us we never lost ours during Hurricane Irene.

  • I understand that the entire power grid is outdoors (the part that is indoors belongs to the people who own the buildings) and that Hurricane Irene was as big as or bigger than Europe.  What I don’’t understand is hasn’’t it been outdoors since electricity became commercially available?  And weren’’t there storms outdoors when electric companies started doing business too?  I know putting the electric power lines underground is more expensive than putting them on poles, but in the name of reliability, shouldn’’t they do that, at least in the places subject to big windstorms like hurricanes, nor’’easters and blizzards?

  • Rolls of toilet paper with no cardboard tubes in the middle are probably good for the environment as long they continue to unroll smoothly when you need them to.  But how does the manufacturer know that doing away with the tubes saves enough cardboard in a year to fill the Empire State Building twice?  And is that measurement taken with flattened or uncompressed cardboard tubes.

  • By the way, do you know what those tubes are called?  They are doot-doots.  The name comes from the first little kid who pretended such a tube was a musical instrument, raised it to his lips to pretend to play it and said, “doot-doot, doot-doot, doot-doot.”

  • Since they rhyme, why aren’t nude and glued spelled consistently?

 

MMMMMMMMM, Bacon!

I believe I’’ve accurately quoted Homer Simpson there in the title.  When I called recently for resealable packaging of God’s perfect food, bacon, my friend Richard (not Feder) of New Jersey (not Fort Lee) asked why I want such a thing and I replied because I can’’t eat a pound of bacon at a sitting anymore and if I did my cardiologist would have a heart attack.

Let’’s face it, anything that tastes as good as bacon is bad for you.  If cigarettes carry a warning label, bacon should too.  As I’’ve opined before fresh strawberries and fresh peaches are notable exceptions, but it’’s a pretty good general rule that tasty food and healthy food are inversely related.   One of the running gags in the comic strip “Zits” is that 15-year-old Jeremy can eat prodigious amounts of any edible thing he finds.  That’’s funny because in many circumstances, it’’s true.  I started life at two feet tall and weighing almost eleven pounds.  I was the biggest baby born in a large Manhattan hospital that year and until I stopped growing while others continued to, I was always extremely large for my age.  I was the tallest kid in my sixth grade; there wasn’’t even a taller girl, and if you remember sixth grade a girl is usually taller than any of the boys.  That’’s because girls mature relatively early and boys never mature at all.

I’’m still above average in both height and weight, just no longer extremely so.

My cousin and I were the two largest kids our age we knew and when we were together, nothing edible was safe from our grasp.  At a barbecue when we were about 14, the two of us teamed up to eat a dozen hamburgers, and a dozen ears of corn.  Lettuce, tomato, butter, salt, and ketchup were also consumed of course, maybe onions, pickles, potato salad, and cheese as well.  We could have eaten more, but they ran out of food.  And I could do that without his help.  Once, while staying at another aunt’’s house (not my cohort in gluttony’’s mother) I had a half dozen eggs and a pound of bacon for breakfast.  I had some toast too, but not a whole loaf; I left room for the bacon.  So I know from trial and error that I could at one time eat a pound of bacon at a sitting.  It’’s not bragging if you can back it up.

I met my friend Richard (not Feder) when we were freshmen in college he was and remains larger than I am so I suspect his eating habits, and mine were similar as he grew through high school. Since Richard asked why I wanted a resealable package for bacon, I’’m willing to allow that he may still be able to eat a whole pound at a meal, and therefore see no need for my proposed invention.  I know that no linzer torte is safe within his reach.  In fact, I know that Richard (not Feder) roams the countryside seeking out the elusive best linzer torte ever.

When I was say 16 or 17, I enjoyed a snack as I arrived home from a hard day of talking in class and avoiding homework.  To me, a snack might be something like a ham sandwich and a quart of milk.  In those days, I would also consider liverwurst, roast beef and several other cold cuts acceptable substitutes for ham.  I still like liverwurst, but I only like it once in any given day, so I don’’t eat liverwurst anymore.  Let’’s face it:  if liverwurst doesn’’t repeat on you, it certainly repeats on me.  My mother should have known better than to assert that I’’d spoil my appetite for dinner, because as a teenager, food never did spoil my appetite.

Not only can I no longer eat as much as I used to, but I also take a medicine which has as a side effect reducing my appetite.  That’’s both a blessing, and a curse, but it is why I need bacon to come in a resealable package.

Things I Know

 

  • I want one of those reverse 911 machines like the ones my local mayor and county executive used to annoy constituents through the long hurricane weekend.  After the recent hurricane, I have a list of people I want to telephone and order to get out of town.

  • We were ordered out of our home, but we didn’’t go and neither did any of our neighbors.  My house has been here for over 100 years.  I have checked the flood plain map.  We’’re not in the 100-year or the 500-year flood plain, and even if we were, we haven’’t lived here for 500 years, but we have lived here long enough to know that our storm drains don’t back up.  So we remained right here, unscathed.

  • Hurricane Irene, in all her fury, knocked a few twigs out of the 40-foot oak tree in front of my house.  Bully that she was she also knocked down a blueberry bush and a two-foot tall mountain laurel in my back yard.

  • We had it very easy in Irene, no flooding, no property damage, never without power, phone service, cable or the Internet.  If you are still without power, and will be for the rest of the week, or if your home was flooded or your boat is in someone else’s front yard, it’’s no laughing matter, I know.

  • One of my friends had both his blog and his personal website go down during the storm.

  • Since at least one of the supermarket tabloid gossip rags has a cover story every week about singer/actress Beyonce being with child, I suppose it was only a matter of time before at least one of those stories was true, even if being true was an accident, or the unintended consequence of making stuff up.

  • Congratulations to the impending parents, and I predict the baby will be named Babeyonce, or possibly Irene.

 

Things I Know

  • Where I live, public officials are using reverse 911 way too much.  That’’s the computer program that allows you to feed recorded information by telephone to people within a geographic area.  Where I live, they’’re using it beyond information dissemination to the point of self-promotion and dissemination of conflicting and even wrong information.

  • I predict a significant increase in the birth of girls named Irene on the east coast of the United States in late May of 2012.

  • As far as I know, this is serious as opposed to being a joke.

  • Don’’t make kissing your spouse or significant other routine.  Kiss them frequently of course, but put some passion into it at least once in a while.

  • I was in Queens, having lunch with an old friend from college when the earthquake hit on Tuesday.  We didn’’t feel a thing and we weren’’t even drinking.

  • I’’m pretty sure that someone could make a resealable package for bacon if they set their mind to it.

  • If you coat steel with zinc, you make the steel rust resistant.  However, if you leave a galvanized garbage can sitting in your compost pile for twenty years, the bottom of the garbage can will compost too.

  • In case you’’ve wondered how you can throw away a garbage can, I solved that one by taking it to the dump myself.

  • A hurricane is coming, so go to the store and stock up on milk and bread so you can pass the time making the traditional cream of bread soup.  That recipe isn’’t original with me.  I got it from the late and very much missed Newsday columnist Ed Lowe.

  • I really believe a hurricane is coming.  Otherwise, I wouldn’’t have been up on the corrugated metal roof of my garage adding screws to keep it in place after my wife got home from work Friday.  I don’’t like to crawl around on the garage roof when nobody else is around.  I’’d much rather have someone available to call 911 in case while falling off the roof I  break enough bones that I can’’t call 911 myself.

Things I Want (Or Need) To Know

  • Was hurricane iRene something Steve Jobs thought up before he stepped down as CEO of Apple?
  • With a hurricane churning up the east coast, I want to know where Jim Cantore of the Weather Channel is.  He turns up at weather disasters with such regularity I am beginning to believe he causes them.

  • I saw a five-series BMW driving five miles per hour under the speed limit on the New York State Thruway on Thursday.   Doesn’’t the factory have people they can send to confiscate a BMW from a driver like that?

  • Are you one of those annoying people who will swerve across lanes of traffic, cutting people off, because your highway exit came up unexpectedly?  That’’s not cool.  It’’s even less cool if you;’re driving a tanker truck like I saw in Ramapo NY yesterday.

  • To me, people who walk or drive behind cars or trucks as they are backing up fall into a special subcategory of jackass.  Why do you do that?  Don’’t you know it’’s dangerous?  A lot of cars and trucks don’’t have great visibility to the rear while backing up.  Mine doesn’’t, and I have three mirrors and a back-up TV camera.  If you had to back my truck out of a parking space, I bet you’d never walk or drive behind a vehicle as it is backing up again.

  • To the guy driving the silver Honda Odyssey in the left lane and the center lane and sometimes both lanes at the same time of the Cross-Bronx, Vehicle-Storage facility so slowly that everyone was passing you:  Don’’t you think you should sober up before taking your family for a ride?

  • Former Met and Phillies outfielder Lenny Dykstra was charged in Los Angeles with exposing himself to women who answered an employment ad he posted on Craig’’s List.  If the charges are true, does that mean he’s running for Congress?

  • When I see a commercial for the prescription drug Lyrica, I can’’t help pondering whether it helps you write better songs.

  • The new FM news station in New York, WEMP had a promo on yesterday about “weather whenever it happens.”  Weather happens all the time, so what the hell does that mean?

 

Things I Want (Or Need) To Know

  • My son the lawyer emailed the head of the California office of a large international law firm and asked for an informational interview.  The gentleman graciously agreed.  Do you suppose his willingness to see my son had anything to do with the fact that he and I were friends in college?  In any event, the guy apparently lied through his teeth about me.  My son said the first twenty minutes of their talk was about me and that all of the stories he told about me were good!  Can you believe that?

  • Have you seen the TV commercial for Direct TV that uses an Asian actor who calls himself a whale (as in the Las Vegas term for a big-spending gambler)?  If I were Asian, I believe the stereotypical portrayal of the Asian guy in that commercial would offend me.

  • What kind of minerals do they use to make mineral spirits?  I only ask because that stuff is expensive.

  • Why do you need a prescription for a mammogram?  If your insurance had two requirements, I think we could get by without prescriptions for mammograms and slightly reduce the cost of health care.  The insurance could pay for mammograms once a year and require that the results be reported to your primary care doctor, thus eliminating one doctor visit, or at least one point of contact with one doctor.

  • Why does everyone in town get to pay to fix the road in front of my house, but if the sidewalk breaks, I have to pay for that all by myself?

Things I Know

  • Anyone who knows me and is nice to one of my children because of it gets special thanks from me.  So, thanks the gentleman who took ninety minutes out of his busy day last Thursday to talk to my son and give him some career advice.  I always liked the guy and his family.  I like him even more now and because we live 3,000 miles apart, we haven’’t seen each other in many years, but I think I’’d better make a trip to correct that oversight.
  • The most brilliant marketing award for August and probably for the decade of the tens goes to Abercrombie and Fitch which issued a news release last Tuesday saying they have offered to pay Mike Sorrentino, known as “The Situation” on the TV show “Jersey Shore,” not to wear clothing from their company.  It’’s brilliant marketing because it got a lot more press than paying him to endorse their clothes would have.
  • Teddy Roosevelt’’s daughter, Alice, was famous for saying, “”If you haven’t got anything nice to say about anybody, come sit next to me.”  My grandmother would have said, ““If you haven’’t got anything nice to say about anyone, don’’t say anything at all.””  As of today, I’’m more inclined to follow my grandmother’s advice, but I bet Alice was a lot more fun than granny.
  • Because I’’ve been painting the inside of my house, I’’ve spent more time moving my hammock so I could mow under it this summer than I have relaxing in the hammock.
  • The philosopher George Santayana said, “Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to fulfill it.”  If that’’s true, then President Obama ought to study President Carter.   A good man, although misguided in some issues I think, Carter is widely regarded as a much better former President than President.  Why?  Because he wasn’’t a strong leader.
  • I told my wife that if she ever says to me:  ““Honey, I’’ve got something to tell you, but I can only tell it to you on the Jerry Springer Show,”” I’’m not going on the show with her.
  • Here’’s a way for a bike rider to get him or herself killed, but with the caveat that it’’s not 100 percent reliable.  I was headed south on Rte 111 in Islip.  A kid was riding his bike north in the southbound lane, not on the shoulder.  He flashed me what I assume was a gang sign and gave me the choice to stop or run him over.   I stopped, in traffic, on a state highway.  I already had an accident recently.  Having demonstrated his power over oncoming traffic, the kid swerved to pass me on the passenger side of my truck.  At the same time, the idiot in the Suburban behind me decided to pass me on my right.  The kid narrowly escaped becoming a bike-rider sandwich without mayo, mustard or ketchup—and when I say narrowly, that’’s exactly what I mean.
  • Here’’s proof some people have too much money.  It’’s a good TV show, but come on, $700?  And you thought I was going to complain about the 1957 250 Ferrari Testa Rossa prototype that sold for $16.39 million at the Pebble Beach auction Saturday night, including commission.  No, that seems perfectly reasonable to me.

 

Things I Want (Or Need) To Know

 

  • I wonder what the cause of Michelle Bachmann’’s public gaffes is.  Her latest faux pas was to wish Elvis Presley a happy birthday, not on his birthday (which is in January) but on the anniversary of his death.  She’’s achieved too much in life for me to think she’’s a complete moron, but if the gaffes were poor staff preparation, I have to think the responsible staff member would have been fired long ago.

  • When we pulled up the wall-to-wall carpet in our living room we found hardwood floors that were once very nice and are now badly stained because of various things spilled on the carpet over the years.  This led me to wonder if they make a carpet pad that won’’t let spills through to the floor underneath.

  • If you like doo wop music, did you know that Little Anthony’’s first name isn’’t Little?  It’’s Jerome.

  • The music I like is old enough that some of it isn’’t available as an MP3 download so I still buy the occasional CD.  When I look at a CD to buy on Amazon, the website only shows the first twenty tracks unless I click a second link.  There are even a few CD’s there where the website doesn’’t have a track listing at all and some that show who wrote the song rather than who sang it.  Why wouldn’’t I want to see all the tracks on a CD the first time I look it up?

  • I was delighted to be able to download the long-lost instructions for my ten-year-old cordless telephone system.  However, if I store it on my computer under its original file name, do you think that’ll be of any help the next time I need it?  The original file name of the downloaded instructions is PP_S2730_Cr_D57ACF1985235D4D9A0FA6E26EDB871C.pdf.  Just me,  but I would have thought Sony 2730 Cordless Phone Manual.pdf would have been a more helpful name, so I renamed it.

Things I Know

  • I think of Fitch Ratings as #3 in the financial ratings business behind Standard & Poor’s and Moody’’s.  So it’’s no surprise to me that when Fitch maintained its rating of United States debt at AAA, it made a lot less news than when Standard and Poor’s dropped it a notch.
  • President Obama’’s bus tour:  perhaps he’’s planning to become a country singer rather than run for reelection.
  • If he’’s not embarking on a career in country music, I think the President’’s bus tour is wholly political.  I have read, however that it’s being billed to the taxpayers as an official government function.
  • Even though I’’m on the federal no-call list, I keep getting calls from a company that identifies itself over the phone as “Card Member Services.”  All I know about the company is that it wants information I wouldn’’t give over the phone to anyone who calls me cold (beginning with my outstanding credit card balance), it cares nothing for the federal no-call list and there are lots of websites carrying complaints about them calling despite being told not to.  Those things taken together make it sound suspicious to me.  Today I told their representative who identified himself as Sean not to call me again.  I also made a list starting with today of the date and time of the call and beginning with that notice, I’’m going to complain to the Federal Trade Commission every time they do call.  If you wish to do the same about this company or any other, the link is: 
  • https://complaints.donotcall.gov/complaint/complaintcheck.aspx
  • I don’’t have any stock, but I do have more CD titles in my house than Best Buy does at my nearest store.  Of course, CD’s are nearly obsolete by now, so that’’s almost like saying I have more vinyl titles than Best Buy does, which is also true.
  • Unsolicited email must be an effective marketing tool, and I know it costs hardly anything.  I can tell both of those things because of the huge quantity of unsolicited email I receive every day.  It just annoys me.  Case in point:  I bought a couple of good-quality faucets from an online retailer.  I get a lot of email from them.  I have five faucets in my home.  All of them are good quality and relatively new.  I doubt if I’’ll ever buy another faucet as long as I live here.  People who sell faucets probably don’’t do a lot of repeat business, except with plumbers and contractors.  Those emails don’’t convince me to do anything but delete them.
  • If I ever get a kitten, I believe I’ll name it Caboodle.
  • I mentioned a while ago that we got some strawberry ice cream that had strawberry swirl in it rather than whole strawberries or chunks of strawberry.  I have an ice cream maker so I looked up some recipes for strawberry (sans swirl) ice cream.  Lots of them recommend that you puree the strawberries and refrain from putting chunks of fruit in the ice cream because the berries will freeze and the texture will be unpleasant.  Having been raised on Breyer’s strawberry ice cream, I like the chunks.  But I thought strawberries must be getting expensive,and I was right.  The Breyer’s strawberry ice cream we had last week had almost no chunks of fruit in it.  My solution to strawberry ice cream with no pieces of strawberry in it is to have the ice cream with slices of fresh strawberries on top of it.  That works nicely, trust me.

Things I Know

  • Standard and Poor’s has reduced the United States’ credit rating from AAA to AA+.  That’s still pretty good unless your country’s currency is the standard for international trading, which the dollar is, but maybe not for a lot longer.
  • The rating company said part of the reason it made the rating reduction was the bickering and brinksmanship on the part of the White House, Senate and House.  So, naturally, reacting to this news, the Democrats and Republicans blamed each other.
    • Well, I answered my own question about what I considered premature back to school sales.  School started the first week in August at least in some parts of Georgia and it starts this week in Florida.

    • Encouraging news:  when I went to the store, a little boy was standing near his parents’ car and without being told, he got way out of my way as I pulled in to park.  On the other hand, three adults walked behind my truck as I was backing out. 

    • Summer is over.  On Friday, I was at Home Depot and they had a big rack of flowers for sale in front of the store; a big rack of mums!

    • While I was at Home Depot, the skies opened up and we had a cloudburst.  After I paid for the stuff I needed there were lots of people standing under the overhang at the front of the store.  But I’’m not water soluble, so I walked to my truck, and came home.   I wouldn’’t do that around here in February, but it is August so I might as well enjoy it.

    • I’’m pretty sure now that the format problems I’’ve encountered with this blog are due to the fact that I’’ve been posting to the blog using more than one Internet browser.

    • I know I’’m part of a very small minority of US men here, but I don’’t like football.  I understand it, I even played it badly as a kid, but I don’’t like it.

    • I don’’t like reality TV either, nor do I understand it.

    • I didn’’t have to empty the attic entirely to have the electricians do away with knob and tube wiring.  I did get most of the stuff out though.  Before we put anything back, my wife, daughter, and I have agreed to throw away a few more things that are still up there and to throw away some stuff rather than take it back upstairs.

    • Progress report on the remodeling:  I’’ve painted the ceilings in the hallway, foyer, one bedroom and the living room.  I’ve installed the pot lights in the hallway and the ceiling fan in the living room.  I had an electrical inspection, but have to be reinspected because I took down some of the ceiling fixtures so I could paint.  I’’ve put them back, so I’’m ready for another inspection.  I have also stained all the woodwork that needs staining, but I have to put urethane or varnish on it to finish the job.  Once that’’s done, I can paint the walls in every room except the kitchen and the two bathrooms.

    • We pulled up the carpet in the living room and found lovely, inlaid hardwood floors.  They’’re badly stained and need some minor repair though, so I’’m getting a floor finisher in to tell me if they can be saved.

    • The thing that’’s going to take the most effort is paying the electrician.  With all the knob and tube wiring we found and replaced, that bill comes to around $4,000!

    • The Lowe’’s I was in last week had a deal going where they would install overhead light fixtures throughout your whole house for $249.  That doesn’’t include the cost of any new wiring.  I have six overhead light fixtures in my house and I’’d replace them myself before I’’d pay anyone $249 to do it for me.

    • I love to go to the beach and I have a pass to get into the beach for free, but I’’ve only been once this year.  I’’m going to fix that this week.

    • You’’ve probably read that all-time record high temperatures were reported in various places across the USA something like 9,000 times in the month of July.  But I also read a story in the Las Vegas Review Journal kind of complaining that it hasn’’t reached 110 degrees in Las Vegas even once this summer.

Things I Want (Or Need) To Know

  • How much extra would light fixtures, covers for wall switches, outlets and etc. cost if they made the screws that come with them just a quarter-inch longer?
  • Did you read as I did that in 43 states now grade school students are no longer required to learn cursive writing?  The theory is that everyone either prints or uses a keyboard now.  I suppose this means that once the few people with legible signatures die, nobody will be able to read anyone’s signature anymore, unless it’s a big “X.”  But the other big question is who will they get to write on birthday cakes?
  • Why do we need vacuum cleaners?  Isn’’t a vacuum already clean?  And aren’’t the vacuum cleaners we already have misnamed?  Aren’’t they really suction cleaners?

Shouldn’’t a salt bagel have more salt on it than this one does?

 

Things I Know

  • Once upon a time, I could care less about hockey.  Then I realized the implications, so I did care less.  Now I couldn’’t care less about hockey, so I voted no on the $400 million bond issue to build a new Nassau Coliseum as home for the NY Islanders.
  • At Houlihan’’s restaurant in Westbury NY, there’s a sign pointing to “additional parking for Houlihan’’s” and that additional parking is closer to the entrance than any of the other spaces are.

  • There’’s an ad on TV, seeking plaintiffs for a lawsuit regarding surgery using trans-vaginal mesh.  The announcer says the phrase “trans-vaginal mesh” several times and each time he does, I can’’t help thinking of the musical round we used to sing when we were kids.  It went, “George Washington Bridge, the George Washington Washington Bridge.”

  • While painting the inside of my house, I’’ve been watching a lot of true crime stories on TV.  But I hate suspense, so as soon as they mention the murder victim’’s name, I put it into a search engine to see whether they’’ve caught the killer.

  • Here’s an update on my plans for a band called, “Flu-like Symptoms.”  We’’re going to be really, really bad.  That way, I can be the lead singer and that way, when someone says they’’re suffering from flu-like symptoms, everyone will think it’s us.

  • Glucose is not just a sugar, it’’s also a carbohydrate and all carbs are important to diabetics, not just glucose.  This is true because most other carbs convert to glucose to one degree or another in the body.  If you look at sugar-free foods, that can be misleading.  Many of them are higher in carbs than foods with sugar.  Some of them have sugars other than glucose in them.  I saw a sugar-free iced tea powder that was loaded with dextrose and dextrose is a sugar.  I got an ice cream freezer, thinking I’d make sugar free or lower sugar ice cream.  A lot of the so-called sugar-free recipes I found called for agave nectar and that has more fructose in it than high-fructose corn syrup does.

  • I think they still have push-to-talk cell phones, but I haven’’t seen one in a long, long time.

The Coliseum: Thumbs Up Or Down?

I don’’t know what to tell you about the vote tomorrow to allow the County of Nassau in suburban New York to borrow up to $400 million to build a new Nassau Coliseum as home for the NY Islanders, concerts, trade shows, etc.  I doubt if I’’ll make up my mind until I’’m in the voting booth.

First, the vote is advisory.  There are an awful lot of details that haven’’t been worked out.  Revenue projections look pretty rosy to me.  We’’ll get around 800 new and badly needed construction jobs, but the county is laying off civil service workers and they need jobs too.  The bond issue, if approved, will raise County taxes more than the two percent allowable under a new state law.  The Nassau Interim Finance Agency is skeptical too because, frankly, Nassau County government is broke.

I don’’t buy the argument that a new arena will make the Islanders a better team.  The place wasn’’t run down in 1984 when they stopped winning Stanley Cups and they haven’’t won one since.  Plus, a new arena hasn’’t helped the Mets much, has it?  Of all the major professional sports, hockey draws the fewest people and when the NHL locked out its players in the 2004-2005 season, I’’m told Coliseum revenues hardly noticed it.

They say we’ll lose 2,000 jobs if the Islanders leave and the Coliseum closes.  Most of them are part-time and low-paying yet a job’’s a job, especially with the economy the way it is now.  I’d hate to lose any.  They say we’’ll have 3,000 permanent new jobs at a new arena, but that includes the 2,000 jobs they have now and is based on a projection that the Islanders will come close to selling out every home game.  I don’’t know if they ever did that, even when they were winning those four straight Stanley Cups.   

I don’’t care about hockey.  The only sport I follow is baseball:  I’ve been there for other things, but I haven’’t been inside the Nassau Coliseum for any sporting event since the Chinese ping pong team was there almost forty years ago.  I would like a place nearby to go for home shows, auto shows, concerts and other big shows. 

I think our taxes will go up whichever way the vote goes.  Building a new arena will cost us and so will closing down the existing Coliseum and not replacing it.  So, I guess I’’m sitting on the fence (which is uncomfortable) and when I jump off tomorrow, whichever side I land on will be uncomfortable too.  Sometimes if you’’re hurting either emotionally or economically you go out and spend some money you don’t have on a treat for yourself in an effort to feel better.  Maybe that’’s the mindset that will decide the question.

Polls are open from 6 AM to 9 PM.  The date was selected to ensure a low voter turnout in the hope that special interests (or stake holders, depending on whether you agree with them or not) will decide the issue.  If you’’re neither a special interest nor a stake holder and you vote anyway, perhaps the people will actually decide the outcome.  I know I’’ll vote; I just don’’t know how yet.

Things I Want (Or Need) To Know

  • Have you seen the promo on NBC for its upcoming series “Prime Suspect?”  The reason it caught my attention is the music in the promo is the song “”Mr. Sandman”” as sung by the Chordettes.  That song was published and recorded by the Chordettes in 1954.  Not just the song, but that version of the song, is almost sixty years old!  TV is advertiser driven.  Most advertisers want their ads to appeal to people under 54 years old because of the belief that older people are not swayed very much by commercials.  So, why does the promo for “Prime Suspect” use music designed to appeal to people who are about 70 years old?
  • The way TV news went overboard about the recent heat wave makes me wonder if people really tune into the networks’ evening newscasts to find out that it’s hot.
  • Is it autumn already, or did the extreme temperatures last week cause all the sycamore trees around here to turn yellow and start dropping their leaves?
  • The word “elderly” ends in “ly” so why isn’’t it an adverb?
  • Now that the last one has landed for the final time, I know all the NASA space shuttles are going to museums, but where are the giant crawlers that take the shuttle and its rocket from the assembly building to the launch pad going?  Wherever it is, I’’m sure they’’re going there slowly.  I mean, they’’re called crawlers, not runners, right?

Things I Know

  • A paper from the Hong Kong University of Science and Technology has concluded that time travel is impossible.  That’s going to put a damper on a lot of my recreational reading.  Actually, fiction about time travel has changed over the years.  It used to focus on the grandfather paradox and now it focuses on what’s called alternate-universe theory.  My very favorite paradoxical time travel story is one called “All of You Zombies,” by Robert Heinlein, one of the greatest science fiction writers ever.  I also love “The Immortal Bard,” by Isaac Asimov, because I came across it when I was in ninth grade.  It’s not paradoxical, but I love it because it pokes fun at English teachers, and my ninth grade English teacher read more into other people’s writings than I was (and still am) quite sure they ever intended to put there.
  • Roberto Alomar didn’t get into the Baseball Hall of Fame because he was a NY Met.  When he came to the Mets, he got old, all of a sudden.  But before that, he was a great second baseman and based on his record before he got to NY, he does deserve to be in Cooperstown.
  • Shutting down the manned space flight program will do bad things to the economy in certain parts of Florida and Texas, but I’ll bet you our taxes don’t go down at all, unless we’re the people who wind up without jobs because of it.
  • It’s too late for what already exists, but I propose going forward that the color of all clothing be descriptive.  I get that sage is green and khaki can come in different shades of tan.  All of that is fine, but the people who make Under Armor clothing make shorts in a color called “bureau.”  I don’t know what that is, and I bet the only people who do work for Under Armor.
  • I hadn’t seen it before, but here’s another way to make the payments on a car lease look much smaller than they actually are.  No money down and X amount per month, let’s say $69 for example for a compact car.  But there’s a 25-cents-per-mile charge for each mile driven.  Twelve thousand miles a year, which is about average, would make the lease cost an additional $250 a month.
  • My dermatologist gave me a simple suggestion on how to decide whether I need sunscreen.  If my shadow is taller than I am, it’s okay to go without.
  • You never ever need to shovel two feet of 100 degrees, so I will deal with this and not complain until it’s cold enough to snow.
  • I got a Groupon offer for up to 88 percent off on laser hair removal.  It didn’t seem like much of a bargain to me since I’m at least 88 percent bald already.
  • Amazon.com has a recommendation feature.  Sometimes it’s ingenious and sometimes it’s annoying.  One annoying thing is that when you sign in it asks if you want to see your recommendations.  If you say yes, it shows you some of them and you have to click on another link to see them all.  If I want to see my recommendations, I want to see all  of them.  Second, it sometimes recommends what I just bought.  For example, I just ordered supplies for my ink jet printer and Amazon’s recommendations now include ink for my printer, starting with recommendation #2.  I don’t need it because I haven’t run out yet, and I won’t order any at least until the ink I ordered Friday arrives.

Things I Know

  • A ten-year-old boy, Patrick Hannon, from Huntington, NY, died last Saturday at Camp Yawgoog, a big Boy Scout Camp in Rhode Island.  There was no foul play suspected.  Patrick, who had only been a Boy Scout for a few months, apparently died in his sleep, perhaps of an undiagnosed heart condition.  One week at a time, I’’ve probably spent close to six months at that camp.  My heart and my prayers go out to Patrick, his family, everyone who loved him, the other Scouts in his troop, and the adult leaders.  I’’m sure the boys, leaders, camp personnel, camp medical staff, and emergency responders from Hopkinton RI did everything they could to save him.  His parents, whose grief I can only imagine, asked that instead of flowers, people send donations to the Catholic Home Bureau, or the Boy Scouts.  Nobody expects a ten-year-old boy to die, and in the face of such tragedy, I can’’t help thinking what incredibly gracious people his parents must be to honor their son’’s life by asking for donations to charity.
  • Even if you think Casey Anthony got away with murder or manslaughter or negligent homicide, that doesn’’t give you the right to threaten her life.  Prosecutors failed to prove their case.  She wasn’’t found innocent; she was found not guilty.  If anyone takes matters into their own hands, they will be just as guilty as they think Casey Anthony is. 

  • Today on Today, a report that told us men like women’’s breasts.  No, really?  Today, and for the rest of the week on Today, reports that it’’s hot outside.  It gets this hot every year; get over it!  Next week on Today, a series that concludes water is wet.

  • Over the years, newspaper comic strips have gotten smaller, and smaller, making them difficult to read in the papers.  I read a lot of newspapers from around the country on line and very few of them even bother to link to comic strips on the Internet.

  • I already knew what to do if I win the lottery during the winter; I’’ll turn up the heat in my house.  If