My wife and I have a symbiotic relationship.  It reveals itself in two main ways:  She’s adorable, and I adore her; plus I lose things and she finds them.

One of the extremely few things my wife has ever done that annoys me is when I lost something, she would ask me where I had it last.  It annoyed me, of course, because if I knew where, the missing item would not be lost, would it?

She has mostly stopped doing that because she knows it annoys me and she is seldom interested in doing that.  But I’ve taken it up.

I own a good (relatively expensive) photo scanner.  Three months ago, in preparation for a high school reunion, I was looking for it.  I was on the reunion committee and wanted to help prepare a slide show.  The scanner should have been in one of two places, a chair in one corner of our dining room, or in what my wife calls the den and I (more accurately) describe as our junk room.  I couldn’t find it and neither could my wife. 

Today, three months later, I found it.  Our junk room was once a porch.  It has a slanted ceiling.  I’m not sure it’s grand enough to be called cathedral.  The room also has a closet that doesn’t go all the way up to the ceiling.  The top of the closet could be used to store things, but you would need a ladder to see them.  That’s where the scanner was. 

I told my wife I had found the scanner.  She asked me where it was.  I told her it was where I had it last.  That didn’t annoy her because she tolerates my sense of humor.  In fact, the second thing that attracted me to her was that she tolerated my jokes and even laughed at some of them.  I was only 18 when I noticed her, so I’m not quite that shallow anymore, but the first thing that attracted me to her is she was pretty.  Since then, I’ve found innumerable things to love about her, I’m not going to continue the “where I had it last” gag for very much longer.  Why?  I don’t want to annoy her.

Two Things About Facebook

I wonder how the program comes up with people you should know.  Lately it’s been suggesting I should know actors, including a couple who are well known and more than one who played in the famous HBO series “The Sopranos.”  I guess it’s because I was once on the radio and do know a handful of people who are in the SAG-AFTRA union, although I am not and never have been a member myself.

They also suggested long ago that I should know the first wife of a rock star.  We met when she was a little girl, but I have no idea where Facebook got that from.  And they also thought I should know the woman I took to my high school senior prom.  She did introduce me to my wife, but that woman and I haven’t been in touch in many, many years.  Incidentally, or perhaps strangely, Facebook has yet to suggest I might know my date to my high school junior prom.

To me, the strangest one is Facebook suggests I might know Roger Stone.  If his name doesn’t ring a bell, look here:

The only way I can consider my path having possibly crossed his is he also has a radio show, and therefore is probably a member of SAG-AFTRA too.  I was on congressional staff 40-years ago but have not been involved in federal government or national politics since.  I don’t know and have never met him.

Even more odd to me is the Facebook page for a dear friend, mentor and former boss who passed away in 2012.  I like to read my Facebook memory page and recently, one of the memories that popped up included a comment by this man.  Out of curiosity, I checked to see if his Facebook page still exists.  It does.  If you read it, the page does say he died.  Yet in recent years, some people have been visiting the page to wish him a happy birthday.  If you read down in the content, it does say he passed away.  This made me wonder what those well-wishers are doing. 

Do they think there’s Facebook in the afterlife?


Roughly ten years ago, I was in Lake Tahoe CA.  I don’t remember where I wanted to go at the time, but I put the address in the GPS and headed off.  The GPS wanted me to drive up the west side of the lake.  I drove up the east side.  Admittedly, the east side was a little longer, but I had been to the west side and wanted to see what the other side was like.

It was then I first had the fantasy of not following what the GPS wanted me to do until the GPS abandoned its very calm voice and screamed at me.

This morning, I wanted to go to Manorville NY.  I know at least one way to get there from where I was but decided to ask the GPS.  Its answer was very strange.  It told me to switch between two major east-west roads by using a small side street when I could use a major local street to move between the two big highways both sooner and more quickly.  It told me to travel through a construction zone to avoid a major intersection on Sunrise Highway that didn’t have any problems.

So, I decided to move from the GPS’ chosen route to the one I know.  I headed north on the Seaford -Oyster Bay Expressway and east on the Long Island Expressway.  The GPS wanted me to get off my chosen route at every exit.  Finally, it stopped doing that.  I thought the GPS had gotten to a point where it agreed with the way I was going.  I was wrong.  The GPS never yelled at me, but it did stop talking to me.

When I reached the proper exit on the Long Island Expressway to take me to my destination (exit 69, if you must know), the GPS didn’t tell me to exit the expressway and head south.  It didn’t say anything at all.

Not my original goal, but it’ll do.

Things I Want (or Need) to Know

Do you have apple ipod pro version 2? If you do, you may have noticed on the underside of the charging case in very small, light grey letters, something is printed. I don’t know what. I can’t read it and I doubt anyone else can either. I figure if it were important, Apple would make it legible, don’t you?
I have a bump on the left side of my head. I know why. Yesterday, I tripped and slammed into a wall. No big deal. At least I didn’t fall down. I put some ice on it and it’s already improved. This morning, my left shoulder is killing me. I don’t know why. If I also hurt the shoulder when the wall and I collided, why didn’t hurt yesterday? And, if the wall didn’t do the damage, I must have hurt it while I was sleeping last night. How did I do that and why didn’t it wake me up when it happened?
Why do so many people say Daylight Savings Time, when it’s actually Daylight Saving (singular) time?
Why do we call it that at all when Daylight Saving Time lasts much longer than Standard Time does? It’s about 7.5 months to 4.5 months, so shouldn’t Saving Time be renamed Standard Time? Then, we’d need another name for what’s now Standard Time. Maybe Daylight Losing Time?
And when will TV news and weather people stop saying we gain an hour of daylight? We don’t lose an hour. We’re just getting up earlier.
Sorry I haven’t posted much lately, I’ve been on my back a lot because of my back. I’ll try to be better about it.

Things I Know

I’ve used this change in punctuation before, but it applies to Rep. George Soros as well.  What?  Was he thinking?  It’s inconceivable to me that Soros didn’t think at least some of his lies would be exposed.  One report I saw said Santos’ campaign hired a research company to check his background and some of his campaign staff resigned as a result of the report.

Latest report on the NY Post’s website today says Soros’ SUV has five outstanding speeding tickets, four of them in school zones!  If you’re going to make the laws, you should take care to observe the laws.  Soros isn’t just notorious in New York’s third congressional district on Long Island.  I heard his story related on a news broadcast over the talk station LBC in London, UK!

During the rancorous events leading up to Kevin McCarthy’s election as Speaker of the House of Representatives, Congressman Mike Rogers of Alabama had to be restrained by another House member from lunging at Rep. Matt Gaetz of Florida.  To quote comedian Chris Rock who said it of another event with different circumstances, “I don’t approve, but I understand.”

Things I Know

The release date for Prince Harry’s book, “Spare,” is next Tuesday.  There have been so many news articles and gossip articles about the book that nobody will need to read it.  Personally, I don’t care about Harry, Meghan William, or Kate, and I don’t understand why anyone else does either.

In grade school, we were tasked with writing compositions about what we did on vacation.  This is reminiscent of those essays.  We were going to go to Florida in September, but the hurricane season intervened. 

In October, we like to go someplace that has some fall color.  So, in October, 2022, We went to Plymouth MA. The weather was awful on the drive there.  I’d call it a deluge.  It was also very foggy the whole time we were in Plymouth, but that didn’t really interfere with our exploration.  The weather turned nice on our last day, so we drove out Cape Cod.  Pretty area.  I understand why it’s a magnet for vacationers and those who can make use of a summer home.  The streets of Provincetown are so narrow I’d hate to take a car there in the height of tourist season though.

Have to shout out to Delta Airlines for a second time this year.  My wife and I finally got to go to Florida to visit our son and his wife’s new house, but in November, rather than September.  I lost my iPhone on the plane on my birthday.  A Delta gate attendant found it.  He answered my phone when someone called to wish me a happy birthday.  That’s how he learned where to contact me.  So, my phone and I were reunited the same day.  Of course, he earned our thanks and a little reward as well.

We like the house and of course we wish our son and his wife well with it.  We also hope to be invited back.

I’d still like to live in Florida, and my wife still wouldn’t, so we don’t.

One of my friends complained that Zoo Tampa at Lowry Park is very expensive.  I guess he hasn’t visited Busch Gardens recently.  Busch Gardens does have rides, but some of them were closed in late November and Busch Gardens is roughly twice as expensive as Zoo Tampa.

For the first time since they passed away, we visited my wife’s parents’ graves at the Florida National Cemetery in Bushnell Florida.  It’s really a lovely place, but we hadn’t been there since the burial, so we didn’t see the grave marker before.  I’ve said for many years that my wife should have been the PR person in our family since she’s much better at deflecting than I am.  Turns out she’s also quite the phrase maker.  Carved in stone on her parents’ grave are the words, “Together Forever.”  That inscription is both appropriate and touching, isn’t it?

We visited one of our favorite places, the north public beach on Siesta Key.  There were no warnings about it, but I guess red tide is a problem because there were a lot of dead fish washing up on the beach.  Still lovely at sunset though.

The Mazda CX-5 I rented was a nice car, but some of the controls are located in places where they’re hard to read and reach.  Also, the symbols on the remote key fob are too small to read without glasses. 


I’ve really been goofing off, haven’t I?  Three months since I last wrote.  Took some time off.  Have been traveling and doing physical therapy for my hip.  Traveling was good.  Therapy isn’t really helping that much as far as I can tell.

And since it’s 2023 now, I should mention this blog is copyrighted 2023, as well as in every year since I started it back in 2008. 

I wonder what George Santos was thinking.  He’s the Republican who was elected last November in New York’s third congressional district.  Beginning with an article in the NY Times after he was elected, it’s become clear that Santos lied about so many things it’s hard to know if he told the truth about anything.  Santos explained, according to the NY Post, “My sins here are embellishing my resume. I’m sorry.”  No, George. Those things are called lies. I have no medical background or expertise to make a diagnosis, but the term pathological liar does seem to this layman to describe his behavior. 

It’s safe to say the knives are out for Santos.  He’s being investigated by the Nassau County DA, the US Attorney’s office, the NY Attorney General. There’s an open fraud case against him in Brazil where he’s alleged to have passed about $700 in bad checks when he was a teenager.  There is also reportedly a House ethics complaint against him for trying to use his swearing in as a fund raiser.

The Republicans and Democrats in his district have to bear at least a large part of the blame for Santos getting to where he is.  2022 was his second run for Congress, and apparently neither party nor either opponent did any background checks on him.  I worked for a congressman decades ago.  He and his campaign did do perfunctory checks of his opponents’ backgrounds.  After Santos, both major parties and all candidates will look more closely at who they run for office and who their opponents are. 

With all the investigations going on, I think at least one of them will come up with something that requires them to bring charges against Santos.  Local Republicans have already announced they won’t support him for reelection in 2024.  I will be extremely surprised if Santos serves a complete term in Congress, and a complete term is only two years. 

Things I Know

After the Braves clinched the NL Eastern Division title, the Mets were ahead of the Nats 8-0, the game had lasted long enough to be official, it was pouring, and the outcome of game meant nothing except maybe to a player’s personal stats. Why didn’t they call it? Todays Mets-Nationals game also meaningless, the weather forecast doesn’t look favorable to complete a game until 8 or 9 o’clock. Why is it in rain delay? They should have call this one off too.  Instead, they started a 4:10 PM game around 6:00.

Gotta say thank you to Delta Airlines. Saint Karen and I bought tickets for a Florida vacation starting the day after Ian made landfall in Florida. As you might have expected, our flight was canceled. The tickets were eligible for changes, but not for a cash refund. However, since the flight was cancelled because of Hurricane Ian, Delta offered us the option of a full refund. We accepted. Good job, Delta!

We’re probably going to Florida in November now, but we may drive there.  Because of all the flooding, a lot of autos were ruined, including a lot of rental cars.  To rent a car at the airport in Tampa now costs a lot more than it did before Ian arrived.

Also because of all the flooding, I would be very careful in buying a new or used car with a Florida title for a while.

According to a photo caption in an article recently on the NY Post website recently, a former high school football player and his girlfriend were “fatally killed” in a traffic accident about a week ago. Condolences to both families, of course, but “fatally killed?” Is there another kind? Editors used to exist for reasons, and that’s one of them Bring back editing!

I bought a new paper shredder last February.  It has a one-year warranty.  It broke recently.  Warranty information is hard to find, but apparently, the company wants to send you parts and have you repair it yourself.  Boooo!  I liked the company before this.  My last shredder broke too, but after more than 11 years.  I told my wife it looks a lot easier to just buy a new shredder. She said, “Not from them.”  Smart lady.

Things I Know

Both cataract surgeries were successful.  I don’t need glasses to drive, but I do need them to use the computer, so I took the last two months off.

I saw Steven A Smith and Christopher Russo on ESPN this morning.  Assuming they hired the same person to buy each of them a different pink sports coat, neither coat works, IMHO.  I’d either pick out my own clothes or hire someone other than the person who selected those two coats.

Had fun at the Mets Old Timers Day game back on the 27th, but I wish they opened the gates earlier.  Standing outside in the sun and the heat until 3:30 wasn’t enjoyable at all.  But I did see Joe Torre arrive in his big Mercedes.

Driveway is finished, so I can now use my garage.  But the new driveway is thicker than the old one, so now I have to rebuild the driveway gates.  Back yard gets repaired next week.

Our son and daughter-in-law visited from Florida a couple of weeks ago.  We’re going to visit them in Florida in two or three weeks.

Attention reddit posters:  When you ask someone to “bare with” you, you are requesting that they join you in getting naked.  I think you meant to say “bear with” you, but on Reddit, it seems to me the error is much more common than the correctly spelled statement. 

Bought a new cell phone.  It replaced one about six-years old, and the battery held a charge for a few hours at best.  Got an iPhone 13.  Never had an iPhone before, so I have to Google how to do almost anything with it.  This iPhone connects via Bluetooth to my hearing aids, without an adaptor.  So, if I’m wearing my hearing aids and can’t hear you, I’m probably listening to something else. I keep hearing people who should know better pronounce the word accessory as “assessory.”  No dictionary I consulted lists that as an acceptable secondary pronunciation, but I think it will soon become accepted and I have no idea why.  By the way, I have never heard anyone pronounce accepted as “assepted,”  but I have heard “essentric” instead of eccentric.  If you have any idea what’s going on here, please clue me in.

Things I Know

I took June off, because I had a few other things to do. But I did jot down a few comments along the way.

Had cataract surgery in June.  Doing the other eye this month.  Well, I’m not doing it, the surgeon is.  Except for the endless supply of eye drops I’m enduring for months, recovery happened surprisingly quickly.  And I do see better.

The guy wandering around Supreme Court Justice Kavanaugh’s neighborhood in June, with a gun and burglary tools, told cops he wanted to kill Kavanaugh.  This reminds me of something I already knew.  One of the consequences of the internet is that there’s very little privacy anymore.  This means it’s entirely too easy to find out where someone important lives in case you want to kill them.  After I read about the threat against Kavanaugh, I found out where he lives.  It took about a minute.

You don’t always need the internet to do it either.  I’m not sure it applies to the president, but in New York State where I live, everyone running for election to any office up to and including US Senate, has their name and address published in Newspaper legal ads a little while before election day.

I was once nosy for a living and I’m still pretty good at it.  When I’m bored, I sometimes look for people I used to know.  It’s harder to find women because they still usually change their name when they get married.  I’m pretty sure (about 99-percent) I know that the first girl I ever dated lives on a horse farm in Missouri.  Her name, address and phone number are on the internet.  I did it as an exercise.  I have no intention of contacting her.  But being a stalker or even an assassin is a lot easier than it used to be.

I ordered my new garage doors in white last fall, after it was too cold to paint them. I forget how much money I saved ordering them this way instead of getting them finished in dark green, to match what’s on the house. I’ve now started on the project, and since it’s clearly going to take at least three coats of paint to cover them, I’m beginning to regret whatever it is I saved.

Here’s another thing I used to know but had forgotten.  When you mask something and paint it, remove the masking tape while the paint is still wet.  Do that even if you’re going to have to mask it again to apply a second coat.  If I had remembered that I wouldn’t have to sand and repaint the bottom panel of one of those garage doors.

I said it on Friday, but never even 15-20 years ago.  I was sitting in the waiting room at my doctor’s office and decided I wanted to read the book I brought with me, but I couldn’t.  The book’s battery was dead.

Things I Know

My wife’s birthday was on Mother’s Day this year.  It happens once in a while, but I never noticed until the year after we had our first child.  But I knew what to do, because when I was 16, the girl I was dating celebrated her birthday one week before Christmas.  When two gift-giving occasions come close together, separate presents are what you need, not one combined gift.

I haven’t been paying close attention, but from what I have read and heard neither Johnny Depp nor Amber Heard have done much to improve their public image during the current trial.

There’s no need to experience Europe ever again.  On Sunday, I filled up my Nissan Frontier pickup.  It cost $75.31!  And gasoline has gone up again since then.

When I started out in the job market, gasoline cost about 25 cents a gallon. As a teenaged driver, I though gasoline was cheap. Over many decades, my income went up due to inflation and to me acquiring additional skills. So gasoline is 20 times more expensive than it was back then. Over that time, my income went up more than that. I certainly don’t think gas is cheap anymore, and I don’t know anyone else who thinks it’s cheap either.

Speaking of how upside down the economy is, last week we paid a dollar a pound less for sliced roast beef at the deli than for sliced turkey. Who doesn’t remember when turkey was an inexpensive choice?

I was able to fix the top rack on our dishwasher the other day, without any help. I was also able to get up off the kitchen floor without any help, but that took longer than fixing the dishwasher.

We just got a marketing mailer from an investment house. It congratulated me for being among the wealthiest Americans. Now, my wife thinks I’m holding out on her. Both wrong!  Fact is, I don’t have enough assets to qualify to invest with this particular company.  Sometimes, you just get on the wrong mailing list.

Apple +

I would prefer all of my team’s games to be on one TV source. I know MLB is going toward multiple streaming applications for the money and because more bidders mean more money for the teams. I tried to watch tonight’s Mets-National game on Apple + TV. Even though my biggest TV has an Apple TV app I couldn’t sign in. The TV kept telling me that my password was wrong. I changed it. Still the same thing. Yet, I didn’t have any trouble signing into it on my Windows laptop. Okay, but I’d like to watch on a TV larger than 15″ diagonally.

The experience was a little better than back when Facebook tried streaming baseball games. Just a little. A very, very little.

There were technical glitches too. A couple of times the audio or both the audio and video dropped out.

As to the play-by-play announcers. They are pros and I never did play-by-play. But, I know you need to talk more on radio than on TV because TV has pictures. The broadcast team was otherwise fine, but they really need to watch some video of retired Dodger broadcaster Vin Scully. In other words, they need to give their vocal chords and the viewers’ ears a rest once in a while. I don’t think there was a pause of more than 10 seconds during the entire game.

Musk v. Putin

Elon Musk has challenged Russian despot Vladimir Putin to “single combat” over Ukraine.  Single combat, not even a battle to the pain, let alone one to the death.  Musk, in case you don’t know is the founder and CEO of Tesla, the electric car company.  He also founded the aerospace company Space X.   Musk and Putin are each reputed to be the world’s wealthiest individual.

Far back in history, national leaders used battles of champions to determine the outcome of wars.  You’ve heard of David and Goliath, haven’t you?

Musk is almost 20-years younger than Putin, but have you looked at either of them?  Which one seems to be in better physical condition?  And, considering Putin’s experience in the KGB, which one do you think is more likely to know how to kill someone with his bare hands?

If Musk won, I suppose the prize would be Russia’s withdrawal from Ukraine.  If Putin won, what would he get from Musk?  Musk didn’t specify, but it seems to me the answer to that question is bubkes.

What diplomatic channel did Musk use to issue this challenge?  Twitter, of course.   Is Musk serious?  His challenge did get his name in the news again, didn’t it?

It’s Time

Daylight saving time which started at 2:00 AM Sunday, every place in the USA except Arizona, lasts about 7.5 months. Standard time lasts about 4.5 months. So, clearly, we should rename daylight saving time as standard time, and find a different name for the other 4.5 months.

If you want to be pedantic, and I frequently do, you’re right.  In Arizona, the Navajo nation does observe daylight saving time, even though the rest of the state doesn’t.  I do know that, but I don’t know why.

And, please, stop saying we gain an hour of daylight.  We do not!  Daylight saving time is a ruse to fool you into getting up an hour earlier in the morning when it’s in effect.

Things I Want (or Need) to Know

March 1 is the anniversary of the day we closed on this house. In the decades since we bought it, we’ve replaced the roof, the siding, all the windows, exterior and interior doors, furnace, water heater, oil tank, lined the chimney, rewired extensively, remodeled the kitchen and both bathrooms, planted a big oak tree, added two large closets, replaced the front walk, the front steps, the porch, the back steps, the curb the fence and the garage. We’re signing up to replace the driveway this week. So, the question is, since we obviously didn’t like this house 31 years ago, why didn’t we buy someplace else?

Things I Want (or Need) to Know

Why are some people comparing western powers’ response to the Russian invasion of Ukraine with Neville Chamberlain’s appeasement policy when Germany invaded Czechoslovakia at the onset of World War II?  There’s one big difference.  Nuclear weapons! Russia and two nations which often align with Russia (China and North Korea) have them.  The US, Great Britain and France, three nations which might defend Ukraine, also have nukes. 

Still, would someone please explain to me why a significant number of the Republican far right seems to be coming down on Putin’s side?

Actor Michael Madsen was arrested at his Malibu CA home the other night for trespassing.  How do you get arrested for trespassing at your own home?  He has plenty to be grief-stricken about.  His son killed himself last month.  But I still don’t understand how you get arrested for trespassing at your own home.  Am I wrong to think the newspaper article should have explained?

Why have a filter on your website if the filter doesn’t work?  I’m looking into going to Tampa Florida for a while.  Thought I might get a more interesting rental car if I used Turo, a company that allows private owners to hire out their cars to people looking for car rentals.  I used the website filters to select for manual transmissions.  Why not?  I learned to drive on a tractor when I needed to stand up to depress the clutch.  Plus, if I got a stick, neither my wife nor my son could drive it.  I recognized right away that some of the cars which turned up aren’t available with manual transmissions.  But I checked 16 listings and all of them had automatics.

It’s almost March.  Where is the baseball?

It’s almost March.  Where are the Girl-Scout cookies?

Things I Know

I’ve been to the Olympic training center in Lake Placid, NY, so I know that Olympic ski jumpers get the hang of it by going down a jump into a swimming pool in the summertime.  But watching the 2022 Winter Olympics makes me wonder how Olympic snow-board, half-pipe athletes manage to do that without every one of them killing themselves the first time they try.

Analysis of the Prince Andrew mess.  Hey, Andy, you got all of the bad publicity, you avoided admitting guilt, but you look guilty in public opinion.  It still cost you antihistamine money (nothing to sneeze at).  Conclusion, you settled way too late.

As I understand the situation in and around Ukraine, Russia has somewhere around 150,000 troops at and near its border with Ukraine.  In response, President Biden has threatened sanctions and ordered three-thousand US troops to Poland.  Those are long odds.  Yes, Russia is causing this incident, but the United States government should have learned at least as far back as Viet Nam that we have no business risking the lives of American soldiers in conflicts we have no intention of winning.

At one time, major-league baseball Spring training began with pitchers and catchers reporting on February 15th.  In the last CBA, the reporting date was a little more flexible.  But the lockout continues.  We need baseball so badly they’re putting a lot of college baseball on TV this year.  Owners and players, get together and settle this now.

Things I Know

Brand new support socks are harder to get on or off than ones you’ve owned for a while.  So, today I learned, don’t wear your newest support socks to the podiatrist. 

Minnie Mouse is getting a blue pantsuit with black polka dots designed by Stella McCartney to replace her iconic red dress with white polka dots. It’s to celebrate the 30th anniversary of Disneyland in Paris France.  News reports say it’s the first time Minnie has been outfitted in pants.  Probably the majority of women, at least in the western world wear pants more often than dresses, so I guess it’s past time.  But maybe Disney should have given pants to Donald Duck first.

I can’t help doing math in my head.  I can’t do it as fast as I used to, but I’m still compelled to do it.  This is sometimes troubling, especially concerning advertising.  There’s a phone app that refunds users money, up to 25 cents per gallon, for each gallon of gas purchased.  Because the commercial says “up to” I imagine there are conditions.    

The ad says the user sometimes gets back $200 – $300 a month.  Here’s where my math head kicks in.  If he gets 25 cents per gallon, and the car gets 20 mpg, that means he has to buy 1,200 gallons of gas a month to earn $300.  Remember, the ad says, “up to 25 cents per gallon.”  If those numbers ring true to you, to hit the maximum means the driver has to drive 24,000 miles per month!  If the rebate is less than 25-cents for some of those gallons, the miles driven have to be higher.

Is that a lot?  Yes.  Last time I saw figures the average motorist drove 12-15 thousand miles a year.  That number is probably lower now because of the pandemic. To break it down farther, this hypothetical driver must average about 33 mph, all the time!  That’s seven-days a week, 24-hours a day!

I guess someone must have pointed this out to whoever wrote the ad copy.  The latest ad for the app features a different character, a woman, who claims to save $200-$300 A YEAR! Using the same parameters, that’s still about 28,000 miles a year.  If it works as now advertised, it sounds worthwhile to me.  It is much more doable, but still hard to accomplish.

About ten years ago, I noticed and remarked that MS Word’s spell-checker recognizes a lot of proper nouns, for example, Asimov, and Mandelbrot.  At that time, I was happy to report it didn’t recognize the word Kardashian.  It does now!  The decline of western civilization progresses.

I’m Grumpy, or Maybe Some Other Dwarf

I guess I was grumpy on Monday.  I was standing six feet behind another patient, patiently waiting to check in at my doctor’s office for a test.  Nothing to worry about.  The test was routine, I studied hard, and passed it with flying colors.

Another patient I’d never met walked up to me and said, “What did your mother tell you about putting your hands in your pockets?”  Much like a British monarch, I was not amused, so I replied, “I don’t care, she’s dead.”  Then, to add to the grumpy, I said, “I didn’t like her anyway, and she didn’t like me much either.”  Sadly, all too true.

I’m old enough to decide whether to put my hands in my pockets or not.  Plus, not that it’s any of his business, but I have Raynaud’s disease.  My hands are always cold.

But nosey guy wouldn’t let go.  He said I’d meet my mother again someday.  “No, I won’t,” I said.  “I’m going to heaven, so I won’t ever see her again.”

A little housekeeping.  Yes, the Sisyphus Project is copyrighted 2022, as well as all previous years and yes, all rights are reserved.

I would have preferred that the Crimson Tide win because my son and my niece are alums, but Congratulations to the National College Football Champion Georgia Bulldogs.

Things I Know

Been missing for a while.  Devoted my time to managing construction of a new, over-sized, two-car garage.  It will wind up costing about half what I paid for my house and more than five times what my parents paid for theirs.

If you’re old enough, all prices are ridiculous!  I’m old enough.

Gil Hodges has been elected to the Baseball Hall of Fame.  It’s not about time.  It’s way past time.  I’m glad his widow, Joan, who is 95-years old, lived to see this happen.  Hodges, for those who don’t know, was the best right-handed first baseman of his era.  When the gold glove award was created in 1957, Hodges won the first three given out at his position.  For the period from 1949 to 1959 he hit the second-most home runs and drove in the second-most RBI’s.  The game has changed, so 370 isn’t as impressive as it once was, but at the time he retired, Hodges was 12th on the all-time home run list and 3rd among right-handed hitters.  Way past time!

Buck O’Neill was also elected to the Hall of Fame.  He was a fine Negro League player.  Since there are other people in the hall for promoting the game, O’Neill should be there if he had never played, just for his role in the Ken Burns documentary series on baseball.

Potassium is an important element in human nutrition.  Too much or too little can be very bad for you.  So, I think the potassium content of the things you eat should be included on the nutrition label processed foods are required to display.  Some foods include it, but not all by any means.  Portion size is important too.  I read that tea contains about 88 mg per cup, and so is considered low in potassium.  Fine, except I’ve been drinking about half a gallon a day.  I have to knock that off.  In fact, I just did.

My daughter thinks some things should be obvious.  She’s been having trouble booking a vaccination through the website of one of the big pharmacy chains.  I suggested she try the other one.  Easy-peasy.  No problem at all.  She wondered why she didn’t think of that.

Proud moment:  our daughter-in-law was notified last month that she has passed the California bar exam.  She will soon be admitted to the bar.  Her husband, our son, has been a lawyer for 12 years now.  The two of them have decided to move from California to Florida, so they’ll have to study for another bar exam.

Little-known fact:  Having made the famous movie, the Grinch died less than a year later due to that enlarged heart.

You can listen to radio stations all over the world through certain internet services.  I tried the other day and found it a little odd.  I was listening to Newstalk ZB from Christchurch NZ.  What was odd is inserts its own commercials, so you’re going along listening to New Zealand broadcasters and then a commercial comes on and the announcer sounds very much American.

Check around folks.  I know ink-jet cartridges are crazy expensive, so the other night at the office supply store, I remarked that $52.13 was a lot.  But when I got home, it hit me, and I took to the internet.  I couldn’t find one that cost even half that much!  I found one on Amazon for $19.49.  Adding sales tax brought it to $21.17.  I decided I could wait two days to print what I needed to print and ordered the Amazon one.  Next morning, I took the $52.13 one back.  I had no trouble returning it for a refund and the guy at the counter told me they do price match.  Not his fault, but maybe if they checked other sources before pricing their merchandise, they wouldn’t charge almost two-and-a-half times as much for their product and wouldn’t have to make as many price matches or refunds.

My wife and I have done DNA tests through this year.  I’m about 1/8 Scottish and she’s about 2% Scottish.  Neither of us have a problem with that, but neither of us has any idea which of our ancestors contributed the Scottish part either.

One of my wife’s cousins also had a DNA test.  Then, he changed his surname.  Turns out his father wasn’t who his mother always said it was.  Genes don’t lie, but sometimes moms do.  Both his bio dad and the man who raised him have passed away.

Election Day

Today is election day. Please vote. You may not think it’s important, but I do.

It turns out we are still getting a lot of robocalls asking us to vote for the candidate of their choice. We’re just letting more and more calls go to voice mail instead of picking up when the phone rings and allowing more and more people to interrupt whatever else we were doing.

Common Sense

RIP former US Secretary of State Colin Powell, a remarkable man. To those anti-vax idiots who point out that General Powell died of COVID even though he was fully vaccinated for it, please consider the following. He also had cancer, Parkinson’s Disease, and he was 84 years old! Get vaccinated for COVID. Not just because it will protect you, but because you being vaccinated will protect people around you as well. 

My dad’s death certificate said he died of a hemorrhage. But, what caused the hemorrhage? He had COPD for more than a dozen years. Notwithstanding what the death certificate said, that’s what really killed him.


Congratulations to the Houston Astros, champions of the American League.  I’m betting nobody at the Fox Network, which carries the World Series, wants the Braves to win the National League Championship this weekend.  Why?  Because an Atanta-Houston World Series will be the most regional match up possible, which will reduce the ratings for the national event the network hopes it will be.

Things I Want (or Need) to Know

According to the NY Post, the daughter of actors Harry Hamlin and Lisa Rinna caught them, “Skinny dipping in the nude.”  How else would you do it?  And where did the expression skinny dipping come from anyway?  If I went swimming naked, I’m pretty sure that would be fat dipping.

As near as I can determine, a head of cabbage costs around 75-cents.  So, why did a pint of cole slaw cost more than $6.50 at my wife’s favorite deli last week?

When you were a little kid, bawling your eyes out, did your mom or dad ever say, “If you don’t stop crying, I’ll give you something to cry about.”?  Mine did, and I never understood that.  I already had something to cry about.  If I didn’t, why would I be crying?

In my endocrinologist’s office, the doctor got to talking about the islets in my pancreas.  I asked him if he was referring to the islets of Langerhans (they produce insulin).  He said yes.  So, my question is why do I remember that, but not the name of anyone I met on Saturday?

My next appointment with this doctor who treats my diabetes is the day before Thanksgiving.  Do you know what that means?  It means I can have two deserts on Thanksgiving Day.

Have you ever watched Tyler Hoover’s Youtube channel?  He’s hit on a very successful format, but I just don’t get it.  He buys used cars, generally old but interesting ones, apparently without having them checked by a mechanic, or negotiating the price.  Then, he hoons them, still without having a mechanic find any defects that might be dangerous beforehand.  Plus, in honing them, he often breaks something.  Finally, he takes them to his mechanic, gets an estimate on repairs, and decides whether to keep or dispose of them.  I just don’t get that. Do you?

Nathan’s, the hot-dog restaurant, has a store in Oceanside, NY.  In the store window, last month, there was a big poster advertising their “New York Cheesesteak.”  What the hell is that?  What do the folks at Geno’s, and Pat’s in Philadelphia think about it? Do you suppose either Gino’s or Pat’s will start selling Coney Island hot dogs in retaliation?

On my phone, but not on my computer, Google has been pestering me to enter my birthday into my account profile.  Why?  I’ve been getting along with Google for years without giving the company my birthday.  Plus, Google knows where I was on February 11, five years ago, so doesn’t Google already know my birthday?  Almost every other website I visit seems to know it.

Dos Equis beer did away with their ad campaign featuring the most interesting man in the world something like five-years ago.  Do you remember any ad they’ve run since?

From Governor to Governor

Lieutenant Governor of New York may be the second-highest elected office in the state, but it’s not an important office, unless the governor leaves office during his (it could be her too, but it won’t be until next week) term.  Right now, it is important because Governor Cuomo has resigned after being accused of a whole bunch of sexual harassment.

Unlike the Vice President, it’s not even clear that the Lieutenant Governor can break a tie vote in the State Senate.  I found one instance, dating back more than 110 years, where the Lt. Governor thought he could break a tie on a procedural vote, but not on legislation.

The current Lt. Governor, Kathy Hochul, admitted in her first speech after Cuomo said he was going that she and Governor Cuomo aren’t close.  I read somewhere that she said she and Cuomo hadn’t spoken since February.  And stepping into the role of Governor isn’t a guarantee of political success.  Mario Cuomo was Lt. Governor, and so was Herbert Lehman, going back many decades.  Each was a successful Governor and Lehman went on to serve in the US Senate.  But each of them was elected to succeed a governor who left office.  They didn’t ascend mid-term.

In my lifetime, Malcolm Wilson, David Paterson, and soon Kathy Hochul succeeded or will succeed to the office.  Neither Wilson, nor Paterson was regarded as a particularly effective governor, and neither was elected in his own right.  Hochul has already announced that she will run for the office next year.  I’ve heard some political analysts say that will put a damper on other Democrats’ ambitions.  I say, no, it won’t.  It will draw more Republicans out of the woodwork since the GOP candidate won’t be running against a long-term incumbent with millions in his war chest.  However, since Paterson and Wilson didn’t win election in their own right, there will be other ambitious Democrats eager to challenge Hochul too. 

Both houses of the New York State Legislature are controlled by Democrats, but many of them are to the left of Hochul on policy, so it remains to be seen how they’ll get along and who among New York Democrats may emerge to challenge her.  Bill de Blasio is term-limited as Mayor of New York City.  He’s making noises like a gubernatorial candidate, but whether he runs remains to be seen.

Even when I don’t agree politically with one of our elected leaders, I wish them well, because no matter who holds the office of Governor, I live here too.   As the old saying goes:  May you live in interesting times.  In New York, it looks like we’re about to.

Governor Cuomo Gone

Damned if he did and damned if he didn’t. In resigning, Governor Cuomo pleased a lot of women, but he also angered some including my wife, Saint Karen. Why the anger? He scheduled his televised resignation speech to pre-empt “Days of Our Lives.”

On the plus side, soon-to-be-former Governor Cuomo doesn’t have a wife who had to stand next to him while he made the TV speech, pretending not to be appalled.

Things I Know

In New York State, Secretary to the Governor isn’t a job for a secretary. It’s the highest-ranking appointed administrative position in state government. Gov. Cuomo’s secretary, Melissa DeRosa, resigned last night. The State Assembly’s Judiciary Committee meets today to discuss impeaching the governor. His resignation or impeachment seems very likely now to me. Today might be a good day for Cuomo to step down. It’s the 47th anniversary of the day President Nixon left the White House, having announced his resignation to avoid impeachment in a televised, nationwide address the night before.

The major-league baseball team in Cleveland recently announced that it is changing its name from Indians to Guardians.  Too bad the baseball team didn’t Google that name.  There is already a Cleveland Guardians Roller Derby team, and it owns the website

The current stream of so-called information urging people not to get a COVID 19 vaccine and to not wear a mask is a liberal plot to kill off all the most extreme conservatives.  At least that’s my theory.

My house is almost 120 years old.  When it was built, attached garages were illegal, because cars caught fire way more often than they do today, and because horses stink. 

My detached garage is falling down.  That’s not surprising really, it looked like it would fall down decades ago when I bought the house.  It doesn’t meet the local building code and probably didn’t meet code when some previous owner put it up.  Of course, that is if there was a building code way back then.  I want to tear it down and build a new one that does meet code and does look like the house.  To do so, I had to hire an architect and a contractor, get building permits, and go before the municipal site review board.  Because of COVID, because I procrastinated, and maybe other reasons too, this process has taken about a year.  So far, I have about $4,000 invested in the process, but there is progress.  The site-review hearing was Tuesday night.  It took about five minutes.  The site review board said my plan was nice, and reserved decision.  No questions.  So, either my architect did a splendid job of preparing documentation, or the hearing was a complete waste of time for such a simple project.  Possibly both, but definitely the later.

One of my friends brought up the topic of alchemy recently.  So, I said it is theoretically possible to turn lead into gold.  However, to do so would cost a lot more than the current price of gold and said gold would be radioactive for a very long time.

My shoulders hurt, and I have to do something about it.  But I’m dragging my feet.  Why?  The orthopedist I go to only wants to deal with one joint at a time.  I have two shoulders.  Each has the same two problems:  they were reinjured after I had rotator cuff surgery to repair them (one at a time of course); and I have a compressed disc in my spine.  I believe the compressed disc contributes massively to the pain I’m feeling.  Maybe I’ll tell the doc that not only am I a pain in the neck, I have one too.

Amazon makes a big deal about its customer-directed charity contributions through Amazon Smiles.  Any amount is good, but each contribution is pretty small.  Since I signed up for Amazon Smiles, my donations are averaging about 22 cents per purchase.

Things I Know

I’m late with this, and I’m sorry.  If you’re old enough and lived either in Buffalo, NY or Richmond, VA, you probably grew up listening to Shane Gibson who can be described as a legendary rock DJ in both markets.  He usually didn’t use his last name on the air, instead calling himself “Shane Brother Shane,” or “the Cosmic Cowboy.”  It was my honor to work with Shane, briefly, near the beginning of my relatively brief radio career, at WLEE in Richmond.  Shane passed away last February at the age of 78.  In his later years, he was a golf instructor.  RIP Shane.  You were a heck of a talent, a real original, and I’m one of many who miss you.

In June, Dairy Queen advertised that the Blizzard of the Month was made with Thin Mint Girl Scout Cookies.  I thought I had missed out, but I didn’t.  I was in my local DQ earlier this month, and apparently the Thin Mint Blizzard is available all summer.  So, I bought one.

I have a four-year-old computer printer.  It works fine, but for some reason, it decided to disconnect from the internet on Wednesday.  Connecting that printer to the internet is pretty damned complicated.  I hope they’ve improved the error messages and the way Brothers printers connect since I got the one I own.  That’s the only thing I really don’t like about mine.

Nobody consulted me on this. They probably shouldn’t have bothered anyway because I don’t patronize Arby’s all that often.  But Arby’s has eliminated potato cakes from the menu.  I liked those and I’m sorry they’re gone.

Things I Know

Bill Cosby’s conviction for sexual assault was overturned last Wednesday on a technicality.  That means he is now considered not guilty.  There’s a difference between not guilty and innocent.  He wasn’t declared innocent and he wasn’t vindicated either.

I don’t know if it’s Hate Dogs Day everywhere, but it certainly is tonight in my neighborhood.

Happy Independence Day.  Since “Independence Day” and “The Fourth of July” have the exact same number of syllables, if we could get everyone to call it Independence Day, we could have a three-day weekend on the first weekend in July every year.

This is a mistake that happens more often in radio and TV reporting than in newspapers, because newspapers are more likely to have reporters who actually go to the courthouse.  But indictments are handed up, not down.  I raise it because the NY Post made the mistake in reporting the apparent suicide of computer-security exec John McAfee.  In presenting an indictment, the foreman of a grand jury, accompanied by the DA, or an ADA, comes into a courtroom.  The judge is seated on the bench and the foreman hands the indictment up to the judge, not down.

Ruth Eckerd Hall doesn’t love me any more.  Ruth Eckerd Hall is a concert venue in Clearwater Florida, not a person.  I saw the Blue-Collar Comedy Tour there, probably in the year 2000.  Nice theater, good show.  The theater emailed me dozens of times over the ensuing years, telling me of other events I might like to see.  Okay, but according to Google Maps, that’s around 1,200 miles from where I live, so it’s not someplace I’m likely to pop into on a whim.  I don’t know when the emails stopped, but I noticed during the pandemic.  So, I looked to see if it went out of business.  It hasn’t.  From this I conclude that sending massive amounts of email is essentially free, but still, someone will probably cull the mailing list every twenty years or so.

 On several occasions recently, I’ve been prompted to sign into Reddit using Google.  I thought anonymity was the entire point of Reddit. 

I got a message from Google telling me to go to my account profile and enter my birthday.  The message said it was needed to avoid violating a law.  I didn’t go further, to find out what law.  However, I bet Google already knows my birthday.  Lots of other websites do.

A few months ago, I ordered some aluminum foil from Amazon.  I did that because stores in my neighborhood don’t carry the 18” variety.  I wanted to do it again, but now Amazon sells aluminum foil through Fresh. I kind of understand this because I usually buy aluminum foil at a grocery store.  But, this means instead of getting free delivery because I’m a Prime member, I’ll have to pay $4.99 to get it here.  And it costs just as much no matter what delivery option I select.  Understandably, I’m looking around for stores nearby that do sell the 18” foil.

Things I Want (or Need) to Know

Megan and Harry asked Queen Elizabeth for permission to name their new daughter after the Queen.  My daughter’s name is Elizabeth.  Was I supposed to ask?

I understood when the price of gasoline went up after the Colonial Pipeline was shut down.  But it reopened a while ago and prices went up again.  Why was that?

Sirius XM is running a promotion, where your device works for free until tomorrow.  Why aren’t those of us already subscribing included in a few free days?  And how come they’re only advertising this on Sirius XM?

When you write out a year, you do it like this: “2021.”  When you write out a number, you do it like this: “2,021.”  What’s wrong with a little consistency?

It just occurred to me that it’s been years since I heard from Rachel at Card Member Services.  I hope she’s alright.  Has she called you recently?

I understand targeted advertising.  It is an invasion of privacy, but a small one and sometimes it’s even useful to me as a consumer.  However, I just purchased a new camera case.  Now, almost all the targeted advertising I’m seeing is encouraging me to buy a new camera case.  What good does that do?

Things I Know

While admitting he didn’t understand it, Prince Harry the other day called the First Amendment to the U.S. Constitution “Bonkers.”  This prompted Sean Hannity to go on TV attacking the prince and defending the first amendment.  Hannity didn’t admit it, but based on what he reportedly said, he doesn’t seem to understand it either.

A letter came in the mail on Saturday, as letters sometimes do.  This one was from a local car dealer and promised me that it could put me in a new vehicle and at the same time reduce my monthly payment.  I do own a vehicle that dealer sells, but I bought it 11 years ago, and I paid cash.  I must confess this has me wondering just how much lower he can make my monthly payment.

Is anyone else here watching the Smithsonian Channel’s series about the Tower of London? It’s of particular interest to my wife and me because one of the people they feature on the show is Yeoman Warder Chris Skaife, who guided our tour of the Tower when we visited 7 years ago this month. He’s in charge of the Tower’s ravens. That’s important because according to legend, if there are no ravens at the tower, the monarchy will fall. His official title is Raven Master, but when we took our tour with him in 2014, he called himself the raven lunatic.

I hate when that happens. I called a doctor’s office during the scheduled office hours to make an appointment and got a recorded message asking me to call during normal business hours.

It’s just a guess on my part, but it seems likely to me that some or all of the unfavorable stories surfacing recently about Bill Gates may be coming from his wife’s divorce attorneys.

Things I Know

I got my ticket, so I’m all set to win $345 Million in Mega Millions tonight.  I’m also all set to not win anything, and that’s much more likely. My plans for winning have not changed. If I do win, I’ll squander it.

For the first time in my life, I nicked a finger while slicing a bagel this morning.  Ouch!

I just got back from the dermatologist.  Sunshine isn’t good for you folks.  When I was a child, it was common practice for parents to make the kids stay out of the house for most of the day when the weather was nice in the summer.  Sunshine was supposed to give you vitamin D.  Maybe it does, but it gave me sunburn as a youth, and as an older man, all those sunburns have given me several skin cancers, so I go to the skin doctor twice a year for checkups.  He always finds pre-cancerous growths, and he did today.  He has found skin cancer in the past, but not today.  If your kids want to come inside in the summer, let them.

In PR speak, deflecting is answering the question you want to answer, rather than the question you were asked.  My wife should have been the PR person in my family, because she’s much better at deflecting than I am.  But I was once a reporter, so I’m quite aware when she does it. 

I was reminded this week about another PR skill she possesses.  When I went into the Army, I wrote my then girlfriend (now and for many years my wife), giving her my address.  Days later, I wrote to my mother, with the same information.  Mom called my girlfriend to tell her my address.  Saint Karen, who must be a saint to put up with me, thanked my mom and said she could now mail the letters she had already written to me.  One of the many ways she has saved my life over the years—Saint Karen didn’t tell my mom she already had my address, but had forgotten to call my mom with the information.

I don’t write much by hand anymore, so it’s kind of difficult to do it.  Muscle memory must be fading.  Apparently, I don’t type enough either, because I’m making and correcting a lot of errors doing that today as well.

Congratulate us.  My wife and I are fully vaccinated.  Pfizer, thank you.  Our daughter gets her second shot of Moderna tomorrow morning.

Saint Karen and I have been talking about where we’d like to go once we feel safe traveling.  She hasn’t come up with any answers yet, but I’d like to go to Hawaii.  And I’d like to spend at least a month in Florida during baseball’s Spring training season.

Talk to your insurance broker once in a while.  Sure, they may try to sell you more insurance, but the last two times I talked to mine, one of the employees there saved me money.  Right now, I’m anticipating a discount because I pay my premiums in full when due and don’t stretch them out for months and months.

The House

30 years ago today, Saint Karen (who must be a saint to put up with me), our two kids (who were children then), and I moved into our house.

I’ve been thinking about it. If I’m not mistaken, the only parts of the house we haven’t changed are the driveway, and the patio. We’ve replaced the roof, siding, every window, interior and exterior doors, all the interior wood trim. We’ve installed a new electric service, lots of rewiring, relined the chimney, put in a new furnace and oil tank, new water heater (twice), removed some 70’s style wood paneling, added three closets (could use more), remodeled the kitchen and both bathrooms. New front and back steps, rebuilt the porch, repaired sidewalk and curb, planted what’s now a giant oak tree out front.

All this makes it seem we didn’t like this house when we bought it. So, why did we buy it in the first place? 

From the Way Back Machine

Since President Biden tripped while climbing the stairs to get into Air Force One last week, I asked my wife if that meant Chevy Chase was going to return to “Saturday Night Live.”  She chuckled, so I told her she was old if she got that joke.  Of course, I’m old too if I came up with it.

Since President Ford left office more than forty-four years ago, maybe I should explain that joke to people who aren’t old.  Gerald Ford tripped and fell on more than one widely-reported occasion when he was the President of the United States.  His apparent clumsiness was mocked repeatedly by Chevy Chase doing pratfalls when Chase was a featured performer on “Saturday Night Live.”

If you still don’t think my little joke is funny, I understand.  It’s happened before.

Oh Horror!

Ronald DeFeo died in prison last week.  He was 69 years old.  You may not know the name, but you heard about what he did back in 1974.  Or you’ve seen the tabloid articles, and the movie series which fictionalized those events.  If you don’t know the name DeFeo, you know the name, “Amityville Horror.”

DeFeo was convicted of murdering his parents and his four brothers and sisters.  Before confessing, he said a mob hitman did it.  A subsequent owner of the home claimed it was haunted by demons. 

After the murder and especially after the first movie, the murder scene, a house in Amityville NY became a tourist attraction, much to the chagrin of people who subsequently owned it and to people who lived in the neighborhood.

I was once a reporter.  I’ve always known where the house is.  Neither the house nor the people who live there now had anything to do with the murder of six people that took place there almost five decades ago.  Subsequent owners of what’s become known as the horror house have painted it a different color, changed the building’s distinctive fenestration and even gotten the post office to assign a different house number in an effort to reduce the building’s attractiveness to oddball curiosity seekers.  Maybe the results are different if you live farther away, but I just entered the current three-digit house number and only the number into Google maps and that house is the first thing that came up.  If you use the old house number, the same thing happens.  In fact, if you’re curious enough to look for it, you can easily find the complete address on Google yourself.  So, without any additional publicity, the house remains very well known.

Still, the NY Post this week has seen fit to publish the current address of the house and pictures of what it looks like after it’s been remodeled.  Since I think the Post should be criticized for this, that’s what I’m doing here.  And the Post isn’t the only newspaper to do it now or ever before.  Newsday has also joined the chorus, and not for the first time.  This week, Newsday ran an article about what it’s like to live near the house with all the curiosity seekers abounding.

Both articles are clear and unwarranted invasions of privacy for the people who now own the horror house and those who live nearby.  Any news that happened here happened 47 years ago.  You may argue, and I’m sure the two newspapers I just cited would argue that their articles are just repeating information that I’ve already agreed is widely available.  So, what’s the problem?  The problem is that the internet helps people who are actively looking.  The newspapers aren’t waiting for people to look.  They’re shouting, “Hey, it’s over here!”


This is being written before Oprah’s interview with Meghan and Harry airs tonight.

I read the duh news article of the week in the Sunday morning paper.  Nothing is going to top the article telling us that Queen Elizabeth isn’t going to stay up to watch Megan and Harry’s interview.  It won’t be aired until tomorrow night in England, but she could watch a live satellite feed.  However, it’ll be 1:00 AM in England when it airs here in the USA.  And the Queen is 94-years old!  She’ll hear about it in the morning.  I’m not 94, but I don’t think I’ll watch it either.

I have zero personal knowledge of the British Royal family.  I have been to London twice and I have stayed in more than one Holiday Inn Express, but that’s all the background I bring to the following opinion:  Judging from all the pro Harry and Meghan articles and all the articles attacking them that I’ve seen in the last couple of weeks, I have to think each side is sicking attack flying monkeys and/or attack PR people on the other.

Vaccine Again, and a Baby

I’m glad a whole lot more people have been added to the eligibility pool for COVID vaccine including my daughter, but the New York State System is still deeply flawed.  The state’s website is adding new people’s appointments ahead of people who are already in line.  One of my friends just got an appointment in three weeks through the New York State website, while mine, made on January 12th,  is still almost seven weeks away.

My wife found another source of vaccination for both of us, much earlier than what we got through the state website, so if that works out, I’ll cancel my late-March appointment so someone else can have it, but last time I looked, there was no way to cancel or reschedule an appointment through that website, so I’ll have to call my state senator or assemblyman’s office to find out how to manage that.

Meghan Markle is having another baby with Prince Harry, so their son Archie will soon be a big brother.  I hope that if it’s a girl they name the baby Betty or Veronica.  If it’s a boy, however, I’m not recommending they name him Jughead.

Finding Vaccine in New York

As I’ve said before, I became eligible for a COVID vaccine on January 11th and was able to get an appointment on the 12th for March 26th.  My wife became eligible a few days later and I’ve still not been able to get her an appointment through the NY State Health Department’s website although I try every day.  According to that site this morning, the only place in New York that has appointments is Potsdam.  If you’re wondering what Potsdam is near, it’s a nice, small college town very far upstate, but it isn’t near anything.  To give you an idea, it’s northeast of Watertown and Fort Drum, but it’s closer to Ottawa and Montreal in Canada than it is to anything you’re familiar with in NY.

Frankly, I don’t understand the problem in New York and I wish I did.  My wife’s sister, in Florida, has already received both doses of the vaccine.  I know of other people both in Florida and North Carolina who have also gotten their shots.  I’m still 44 days away from my appointment for my firsr dose, and in five weeks of trying, I haven’t been able to locate the vaccine or even an appointment for my wife.

Also, while Google has become regarded as virtually the source of all knowledge, I’ve tried looking for COVID vaccine near me, and it’s useless for that.  Even the sites that are booked are far, far down the search list and last time I looked, nothing near the top of Google’s search results was even remotely relevant.

Yeah, Ground Hog Day Again.

The ground hog saw its shadow. So, six more weeks of winter. “Ground Hog’s Day” was a good movie, but the observance makes no sense at all, so the ground hog seeing his shadow is unsurprising.

First, the only way Punxsutawney Phil would not see his shadow is if there was so much snow the TV trucks couldn’t get through. Even if it’s cloudy, the ground hog always sees his shadow because of TV lights.

Second, Gobbler’s Knob, where the ground hog shows up, isn’t in Punxsutawney, PA. It’s just southeast of the borough’s border. You could look it up.

Third, take a look at a map. At any time in recorded history, has Spring ever come in mid February to the area of Pennsylvania northeast of Pittsburgh?

On a more positive note, pitchers and catchers report two weeks from tomorrow, so early Spring is possible in Florida and Arizona, if not near Pittsburgh.

Oh, shoot. I mean Oh shot.

Where I live, I became eligible for a COVID 19 vaccine on January 11th.  I wasn’t able to get through to a place where I could sign up until January 12th, and my appointment is March 26th, 73 days away.  My wife and daughter are both medically fragile, but neither is eligible yet.  My wife’s younger sister, who isn’t medically fragile, was vaccinated on the 11th in Florida.  It’s great that vaccines are now available, but the delivery system is far from sorted out.

I’d be fine with people who object to masks on the grounds of personal freedom if by not wearing one they only risked their own lives.  But that’s not the case.  A mask doesn’t stop the virus, it stops the airborne droplets that carry the virus.  So, a mask mostly protects people around the wearer. And you should wear it even if you don’t think you’re sick.  That’s because some people carry the virus and are contagious without having any symptoms, and the ones who get symptoms are contagious for days before symptoms show up.

I like a phrase that’s going around my daughter’s office.  If wearing a mask makes you light-headed, maybe you ought to brush your teeth more often.

It has nothing to do with the subject of this blog post, but my son and my niece are both alumni of the University of Alabama, so “Roll Tide!”

Trump Lost. Get Over It II!

I was crazy about the girl I was dating when I was 16-years old.  Still, we did argue a lot, mostly about religion.  She didn’t convince me of anything, but I did convince her to find a different boyfriend, so I won!  Right?

What I learned from that is never to argue with anyone about any faith-based belief system.  Faith-based belief isn’t limited to religion:  it includes politics too.  I did manage to resist, but this week I was sorely tempted to argue with my friends who think attacking the US Capitol last Wednesday was either excusable, or right.

One of the worst things about politics in America (and it’s not recent at all) is that way too many people are willing to excuse behavior that is wrong when it’s done by people you agree with politically.  There are lots of things that are objectively just plain wrong, and breaking into the US Capitol to try and derail Congress from performing its constitutionally mandated duty is one of them.

Some (but not all) BLM demonstrators turned to rioting, arson and looting over the summer, and that doesn’t make it okay for some (but not all) pro-Trump supporters to storm the US Capitol.  If one group was treated more harshly than the other, it doesn’t mean both should be treated less harshly, it means both should be equally condemned and punished.  Three lefts make a right.  Two wrongs don’t.  And while rioting, arson and looting are incredibly wrong, rioting, arson, looting, and sedition are much worse.

Plus, I’m much less likely to attack you if you punch somebody else in the face than if you punch me in the face.  So, the people who stormed the Capitol on Wednesday ought to expect Congress to come down hard on them, because Congress can, and because it’s Congress they punched in the face.

To be clear, I lean more conservative than liberal, but I didn’t vote for President Trump either time he ran.  While I didn’t expect him to incite what happened last Wednesday. I did expect from Trump the kind of behavior he has exhibited throughout his Presidency and before.  In fact, in 2016, for the first time in my life, I didn’t vote for President at all.  On the other hand, efforts to remove Trump with fewer than two weeks left in his term of office serve only to express how angry Congress is at the President for inciting the attack on the Capitol.  The 25th amendment isn’t going to be tested and while the House may be able to impeach him for a second time, Senate Democrats would need at least 17 Republicans to vote with them in order to remove him from office.  It’s debatable whether such a vote should succeed in the Senate, but I’m almost certain it won’t.  If they are not sure they can succeed, impeaching Trump again is far more political theater than anything else.

By the way, former UN Ambassador and National Security Advisor John Bolton pointed out this week that the 25th amendment won’t work on a President a lot of people think is mentally ill.  The way it’s supposed to work, the Vice President and a majority of the cabinet advises Congress that the President is unfit.  The President can then dispute that and if he (or eventually she) does dispute it, the matter goes to Congress which has three weeks to decide.  During those three weeks, you would have two people, the President and the Vice President, each claiming the right to exert executive power within the federal government.  If a President were in a coma, the 25th amendment would probably work.  If the VP and Cabinet thought he was crazy and he disagreed, not so much.

Trump Lost. Get Over It!

Just as I urged people to accept that Trump beat Clinton in 2016, Biden beat Trump in 2020.  Disagree with Biden all you want but get over it.

How did the assault on the US capitol building keep America great or make it great again?  It was a deplorable insurrection, a seditious act.  The people who participated were not great patriots.  Keep in mind you don’t have to succeed in a seditious plot to be prosecuted for it.  In fact, if you manage to violently overthrow the government, your chances of being prosecuted probably evaporate. 

I read today that the chief of the capitol police force resigned as has the sergeant at arms of the House, and Sen. Schumer said he’ll fire the sergeant at arms of the Senate.    

These things seem reasonable to me considering security was a complete disaster as the House and Senate met in joint session.  All security and intelligence personnel in Washington and in the federal government were well aware that President Trump called on his supporters to demonstrate in Washington on January 6th as Congress met to verify the results of the Electoral College vote.  Anyone who looked on the internet could easily find that some of the people planning to attend were talking about storming the Capitol.  So, plainly, and depending on how optimistic or pessimistic you are, the storming of the Capitol was possible, likely or inevitable.  Then, President Trump addressed the crowd, claiming once again that the election was stolen from him, and urged them to march on the Capitol.  In my opinion, that eliminated possible from the odds of storming the Capitol, leaving only likely or inevitable.  What happened must have been anticipated and should have been prepared for.

I have a little knowledge of building security and riot control.  I was once a low-ranking enlisted man in an Army unit trained to do this work.  My role was not to strategize, but it was public facing. I narrated an Army training film on the subject, and two demonstrations for the FBI National Academy.  The Capitol Police Force is fairly large, over 2,000 officers, but that’s not big enough to control a crowd the size of the one that gathered.  Other agencies should have been involved from the start.  Instead of the light-weight barriers around the building, concrete ones (the kind you need a small crane to move) should have been deployed.  Multiple agencies including DC police, National Guard, FBI, other federal police agencies, should all have been on site.  Demonstrators should not have been allowed to get close enough to the Capitol building to storm it. 

A show of force was once considered the initial step in crowd control.  Now it’s thought to stir a crowd up.  Still, National Guard and other reinforcements should have been inside the Capitol Building before the march started, ready to move on to the steps if things looked like they’d get out of hand.  Most, if not all the doors to the building should have been locked too.  There is so much more that security agencies could have done to prepare for what happened, and prevent these people from threatening the lives of our elected representatives who were meeting to carry out a constitutionally mandated process. 

And to those people who insist there should be “an investigation,” how many reviews does this election need?  Local election officials, state officials and numerous state and federal courts have all reviewed the myriad of lawsuits filed on behalf of President Trump.  Recounts were counted and recounted.  More than sixty cases have been denied in court, by judges who are Democrats and Republicans, some of whom were appointed by the sitting President, but followed the law, not the President’s desires, and not the rabble.  Should investigations continue until you get one whose decision you like?  If that happens, what is to prevent the people who didn’t come out on top in that investigation from demanding yet another?  And the most important question of all.  Rudy Giuliani suggested trial by combat to settle this.  Exactly who did the President’s lawyer want President Trump to fight to the death to decide this?

If there was a Democratic, liberal or socialist conspiracy to fix the election, shouldn’t the people involved have been able to win more local elections too?  Shouldn’t the people involved have been better at keeping that conspiracy a secret?  Are John Bolton, Lindsey Graham, James Mattis, and Mitch McConnell well-known commie conspirators?

Could elections be run a little better?  Sure.  There are minor irregularities in almost all elections.  Seldom do those affect the result.  A few votes change, but except in the very closest contests, say in New York’s 22nd CD, they rarely if ever affect the outcome.  Almost no evidence of fraud was submitted in court.  In at least three cases, the President’s lawyers withdrew their cases when asked to produce evidence.  The election was not covered in powdered sugar.  It didn’t contain raisins or currants.  It wasn’t stollen, and it wasn’t stolen either.   

Things I Know

Happy New Year.  And just to get the formalities out of the way, the Sisyphus Project is copyrighted 2021, just as it has been every year since it started in 2008.

I’m not an accountant, but I used to play one in real life.  I was reminded of my past life in accountancy because the first baby born in Suffolk County NY in 2021 was born at Stony Brook University Hospital, and the baby’s father is an accountant.  Of course, he and his wife are delighted with their new baby girl, but he did say he had hoped she would be born on New Year’s Eve, not right after midnight on New Year’s Day.  Why?  Because if she were born a couple of minutes earlier, she would have been an income tax deduction for 2020.

Things I Know

With 2021 less than two weeks away, I’m asking my friends not to speculate on what else could go wrong this year.  After all, 2020 already reminds me of a horror movie.  I’m thinking now of the kind where you say the name of the demon, and the demon shows up.  So, please, no speculation along those lines.  Somebody already told me to cheer up because things could be worse, and when I cheered up, things did get worse.

I’m generally fairly conservative, at least fiscally.  I mean I was a government finance officer for decades, so that’s kind of natural.  Still, when President Trump talks about using the armed forces to redo the 2020 Presidential election in certain states, that wouldn’t be martial law.  It would be a military coup.  Is anyone talking about section 4 of the 25th Amendment yet?

Your sales pitch should at least be credible. I got a loyal customer offer from a car dealership I’ve never bought a car from. They want to buy 15 used vehicles. They want to give me up to 20 % above book value for my vehicle. It’s a truck, not a car, so I guess vehicle is okay. And, because I’m a loyal customer of their car store (nope), they’ll waive up to six payments on my current vehicle. Sweet! But it’s 13-years old, and I paid cash for it, so I sincerely doubt they really want to buy it even though I just put new tires on it. Plus, what good does skipping six payments do for me? I’ve already skipped all the payments.

I collect Christmas music.  I also like the Pentatonix Christmas CD’s.  I already owned one, and just picked up two more.  Without criticizing their musical performance, I would like to state for the record that “God Only Knows” isn’t a Christmas song, and neither is “When You Wish Upon a Star.”  I mean Pinocchio wasn’t a reindeer.

Sometimes Facebook’s algorithms concern me.  Today, the all-seeing computer suggested that I should be friends with a 16-year-old girl.  I’m sure she’s a wonderful person, still thanks, but no thanks.

Things I Know

A man named Joseph Epstein wrote an opinion piece in the Wall Street Journal where he said President-Elect Biden’s wife, Jill, should stop calling herself “Doctor” since she isn’t an MD.  I’d like to suggest that there are lots of more important things to worry about, and while Mr. Epstein is certainly free to express his opinion, it isn’t really any of his business.  Jill Biden has an earned EdD from the University of Delaware, not an MD.  While it isn’t common for people with academic doctorates to call themselves Doctor outside of academia, it isn’t unheard of either.  You can also call her first lady (beginning January 20, 2021) or professor if you like, but I think it’s absolutely fine for people to call themselves whatever they like.  I know several people who have changed their names over the years, and I do my best to get used to that as fast as possible and call them what they call themselves.

President Trump was quoted in the NY Post today as saying his fight to overturn November’s election results isn’t over.  I’m not a lawyer, or a judge, but I’m pretty sure it’ll be over tomorrow when the Electoral College meets and votes on who’s going to be President next month.

Maybe I should be flattered, but I’m not.  Almost every one of the limited images published in this blog are photos taken by me, the owner of the blog, and the photographer.  Not that it’s been a big problem, but the blog is copyrighted, and so are the pictures, individually.  Some wanker is offering them up on his or her website as free wallpaper for your computer or phone.  The pictures are credited to my website, but there are so many I can’t see how they can be classified as fair use.  Plus, nobody asked me, or paid me.  A DCMA notice asking that they be removed has been sent.

Details on product listings at are frustratingly incomplete.  I’m a luddite who still buys audio CD’s, but Amazon no longer feels it necessary to provide track listings.  Especially on compilation CD’s I won’t buy it if I can’t find a track listing.  My wife wants to buy Reynolds Wrap in the 18-inch width.  Every listing on Amazon for Reynolds Wrap includes the number of square feet in the package, which is important.  However, the width of the foil is important too, so let’s have it in the product description.

It’s possible I now have too much Christmas music.  I own 22 copies of “White Christmas,” 29 copies of “Silent Night” in English.   I probably have a few copies in German around here someplace too.  And, I have 33 copies of “The Christmas Song,” but I don’t own Mel Torme’s version, and he wrote it!  I just can’t buy Christmas music as fast as it’s being recorded.  In the first place, nobody needed to record “The Christmas Song,” after Nat King Cole did it.  “Silent Night” and “White Christmas” are fine songs (although “Holiday Inn” leaves a lot to be desired as a movie), but these three are among the many songs we really don’t need any additional versions of.

I haven’t gotten anything that looks like a real comment from a real person on this blog in more than four years.  That’s okay.  I haven’t done anything to promote the blog and I’m doing it for my own entertainment.  If you’re entertained too, that’s nice, but not essential.  I got quite a few generic compliments on my blog item from early November entitled “The Lieutenant.”  But they all came from one website and that website can’t be accessed by the general public.  So, I’m assuming those are from bots too, testing to see if I’ll put up any and all comments.  I won’t.  Comments on this blog are welcomed.  They are moderated too.  Decisions of the moderator (me) are not only final, they’re also random.

I mentioned it before the election, so I might as well mention the result:  Voters in Rhode Island did vote to drop “and Providence Plantations” from the official state name.  You can now just call it Rhode Island, especially since you already did that before the name was officially changed.

The website was an interesting idea, but it became kind of obsolete due to My Space and later Facebook.  Still, I occasionally get a notice from that someone has remembered me and described that memory.  Three people have done that in the past year.  I’m flattered that someone remembers me as attractive.  However, I apparently didn’t make much of an impression on my classmates because one remembered me as outdoorsy and another remembered me as soft-spoken.  I wonder who they’re confusing me with.

With President Trump now destined to leave the White House, whether he acknowledges it or not, here’s another way to make America great again:  get the people who make ice cream to go back to selling it in half-gallon containers.

The Lieutenant

I saw a story on reddit this morning that reminded me of something that happened long ago during my very undistinguished, and relatively brief military career.

I was an MP and was ordered to chauffer a newly assigned second lieutenant around the fort.  During our drive, he saw a civilian car parked right under a sign that said the parking space was for official business.  The second lieutenant ordered me to write the offending car a ticket.  I informed the lieutenant that the car belonged to the post engineer (a civilian), who used his personal auto to conduct official busines.  The lieutenant repeated his order, so I complied.

Cue the post engineer, who came up to me extremely upset with what I was doing.  I reminded the engineer that I was an SP/4, ordered to write the ticket by the second lieutenant in the patrol car.  I also reminded the engineer (in case he was unaware) that as an SP/4, it was against Army regulations for a soldier of my rank to know that a second lieutenant was an idiot.  All these years later, I believe that’s still the case.  I also informed him that he, as a civilian, was not covered by that regulation.  Moreover, it was acceptable (perhaps even beneficial) for a lieutenant colonel, such as the Provost Marshal, to be aware that a given second lieutenant was an idiot. 

For the record, all second lieutenants are not idiots, and all idiots are not second lieutenants.  However, if you were to use a Venn Diagram to describe the situation, the overlap of the two logical sets would be quite large.

The engineer took that information to the Provost Marshal. The ticket was pulled.  The lieutenant was put in charge of MPs at his own military base.  That base was closed, so it didn’t do much for his resume, but did keep him out of further trouble.  Most of us lived happily ever after.

The Name Is the Game

Unless you live in Rhode Island, and not too  many people do, it may amuse you to know that the ballot in that state seeks voter approval to change the name of the State of Rhode Island to the State of Rhode Island.

You thought that already was the name, didn’t you?  It’s not.  The official name of that smallest of all US states is “the State of Rhode Island and Providence Plantations.”

One reason to change it is while the City of Providence still exists, and is the state capitol, Providence Plantations do not.  Another one is that the word plantation calls up images of cotton and tobacco plantations in the deep south, which were only viable because of slavery.

While I haven’t been following public opinion on the topic, I do know that a similar vote in 2010 went down to a staggering defeat, with 78% of those voting rejecting the name change.

We might not know who our new president will be late tonight, but we ought to know whether the state where I attended a lot of Boy Scout camps emerges from November 3, 2020 with a new name.  Stay tuned.

Things I Know

If you haven’t already voted early, please vote on Tuesday.  It’s important.  We had early voting in New York for the first time this year.  Of course, lessons were learned.  I think for the next election, there will probably be more places to cast votes early and the hours for voting will be more consistent.

I don’t usually make any mention of my age here, but I must be fairly advanced in age.  My wife and I recently celebrated our 50th wedding anniversary.  To show you how wonderful she is, she bought me a $1,000 lens for my camera.  In case anyone cares, it was a 150-600 mm Sigma contemporary.  I wanted to take pictures of Saturday’s blue moon, but the moon was entirely hidden by clouds.  We usually take a trip to celebrate our anniversary, last year to New York’s Finger Lakes.  The year before to London.  We have it a lot better than many people during this pandemic because staying at home is the thing that affects me most.

Our son just moved out of our house.  He’s lived in California for 19 years.  He married there.  He and his wife own a house there.  But he just got all of his crap out of our attic!  Took him over a week to organize it and decide what to keep vs what to throw away, but he did it.  Our house is so much lighter now that I’m certain it will get much better gas mileage going forward.

In addition to taking his stuff to his house, I had a few things around here that were too heavy for me to move.  He helped me get them to the local dump here.

Actor Sean Connery has passed away at the age of 90.  RIP.  It looks like he wasn’t immortal after all.  There can be only one. 

The New York Post recently reported that Lady Gaga has reworn her meat dress while making a public service announcement about voting.  Oh, I hope not.  I hope she had a new one made.  The old one must be awfully ripe by now if it was preserved.

Put the Damned Thing On!

Even if you have a God-given or constitutional right to go out in public with your face waving in the breeze as if it were 2019, you should still where a mask.


Common sense and consideration for others.

I’d be okay with it if your going maskless put only you in danger of getting sick, but that’s not the case.  Masks don’t protect their wearers very much against the Corona virus.  A virus is too small for the mask to filter it.  The mask keeps airborne droplets generated by you from getting on other people.  Those airborne droplets carry the virus. So masks mostly help other people from getting sick from coming in contact with your droplets.

Since I’m pontificating, wear that mask properly.  Cover your nose as well as your mouth.  If you should sneeze, do you think your airborne droplets would only escape from your mouth?  Of course not, so cover your damned nose too!

But “I’m not sick,” you say.  You don’t know that.  Some people test positive for the virus without experiencing symptoms. Moreover, people who do experience symptoms are contagious for days before the onset of those symptoms.  The reason this virus is a worldwide pandemic is because it is spread so easily by people who are unaware that they have it.

Last night in a convenience store, two people ahead of me (far ahead of me) weren’t wearing masks.  I thought they were being very selfish.  I was wearing a mask to protect them, but they couldn’t be bothered to wear masks to extend me the same courtesy. And while they couldn’t know it, I am at high risk.

If you truly can’t breathe while wearing a mask, you should probably stay home instead of going out with your face hanging out.  After all, if you can’t breathe properly, you’re at high risk too.

So, please take the recommended precautions.  My life may depend on it.

Things I Know

I was appalled that President Trump refused to commit to a peaceful transition of power should he lose the November election.  I was heartened that Senate leader Mitch McConnell in response said there absolutely would be a peaceful transition.  I hope Trump didn’t mean it and just said to stir things up.  He does that a lot.

Four-and-a-half years ago, (more than eight months before the election) what the Republican-controlled US Senate did to President Obama’s nomination of Merrick Garland was wrong.  If the Senate pushes through a Supreme-Court nomination from President Trump six weeks before the 2020 election, that will return to giving a sitting president the right to nominate Supreme Court Judges.  So, it’ll be the right thing to do.  Since they promised to apply the same standard to future nominations that they did to Judge Garland, It will also be the wrong thing to do and the height of hypocrisy.

Someone said on Twitter that Judge Garland must be spinning in his grave.  Uh, no.  Judge Garland is very much alive.

I read that a man died recently from eating too much licorice.  I didn’t know there was such a thing.  A compound in the licorice reduced the potassium in his blood so much that his heart stopped.  I have too much potassium in my blood.  So, if I don’t overdo it, I guess I could take black jellybeans instead of Lokelma.  Only trouble, I also have diabetes, so I guess the jellybeans are out.

New York’s governor, Andrew Cuomo, has decreed that trick or treaters will be allowed to go door to door next month during this pandemic.  They will, of course, be required to wear masks over their masks though

Things I Know

If you’re a radio geek, like I am, John Landecker, at the age of 73, is taking on a full-time slot as a talk-radio host on Chicago’s WGN, starting at the end of September.  Because of that, I looked up his Wikipedia page and was surprised to learn “Records” was his mother’s maiden name, which is why it really is his middle name.

I’m considering building a new garage at my house to replace the one that’s falling down.  If I do that, just that garage will cost four or five times as much as my parents paid for their house.

Now that we’re in the heart of the presidential campaign (yawn) I keep hearing once more that President Trump was the loser in the last election, but he was awarded the office anyway.  To be clear where I stand, I didn’t vote for the Democrat or the Republican in 2016.  I couldn’t hold my nose and vote for the least bad candidate because I considered them both equally repulsive.  Still, I hate it when people say the loser won the election.  It’s like saying the Washington Nationals won the Stanley Cup last year, but another team was awarded it.  The Nationals didn’t win the Stanley Cup because the Nationals play baseball.   Well, last year they did; this year that’s not so clear), The Stanley Cup, in case you don’t know, is awarded to the National Hockey League champion.

The winner won the presidential election in 2016 because popular vote wasn’t the game being played.  Hillary and her consultants knew what the game was.  They also knew it was possible to win the popular vote and lose the election.  It had happened before.  They blew it.   They should have concentrated more on swing states.

Should we do away with the electoral college?  Maybe.  The founding fathers had a reason for creating it though.  They wanted low-population, agricultural states to retain some influence and power within the federal government.  If we did eliminate it, there would be consequences.  And if one-person one-vote should be sacred, we should also do away with the senate (or apportion seats by population) and allow congressional districts to cross state lines.  When you divide the US population by 435, the number of members of the House of Representatives, three states, Alaska, Vermont and Wyoming, don’t have enough population to justify one whole congressional district.  If we keep the Senate, but apportion it by population, thirty-two states don’t have enough population to justify one senator and four states deserve more than the two each state has now.  California should have six!  One-person-one-vote in the NY State Senate is why New York the city now controls all aspects of state government in New York the state.  The city has more than half of the state’s population. 

Can we do away with the electoral college?  No.  Reform is happening though.  Some states have abandoned a winner-take-all approach to awarding delegates to candidates. 

Why can’t we do away with the electoral college?  It would require a constitutional amendment.  Why won’t that happen?  Because 51% of the US population lives in nine states.  You probably know a constitutional amendment must be approved by 2/3 of the house and senate followed by ratification in 2/3 of the states, or by a constitutional convention called by 2/3 of the states.  A convention has never happened because sane people are legitimately afraid that such a convention would throw the baby out with the bath water.  The nine most populous states might vote to do away with the electoral college, but there is no way in hell 25 of the other 41 would go along with it.  Why would North or South Dakota want that? 

 I’m usually the wordsmith in this family, but my wife hit on a great expression the other day.  Our lawn has been taken over this year by crabgrass.  But my wife said it isn’t crabgrass, it’s king-crabgrass.

I had a wedding anniversary, but it isn’t also my wife’s anniversary.  How is that possible?  Recently, I was married to my wife for two-thirds of my life.  She’s younger than I am, so she was married to me for two-thirds of her life about three years ago.  Even though it was my anniversary, I bought her flowers, because I could not have done it without her.

Real Life Imitates Art

Last week, as the Democrats National political convention droned on, building toward former Vice President Biden’s acceptance speech, I read a joke on the Internet that said President Trump is such a narcissist that he’ll speak every night at this week’s GOP convention.  Yesterday, I read a news article that didn’t come out and call the President a narcissist but did say he will actually speak each night at the GOP convention.  Once we’re through with both conventions, I think more and more people will come to agree with me that neither one deserves the amount of TV coverage it gets.

Fine Hospital, Bad at Math

NYU Langone is a great hospital.  It has excellent doctors associated with it who see patients outside the hospital.  I go to more than one such doctor.  NYU Langone’s accounts receivable operation is nuts.

Today, I got a text from NYU Langone telling me I owe the organization money and I should log into the patient portal to find out about it.  The text didn’t even say how much money.  I logged in and the patient portal said I owe $29.17 and if I want more detail, I should call the toll-free number.  The semanticist in me doesn’t think “more” is the appropriate word.  Wouldn’t “any” work better?  By the way, this company also sends collection letters on accounts that aren’t past due yet, and the collection letters don’t give any detail either.

Another quick question.  If you received a text or letter saying you owed a person or company money, but containing no details, would you pay?  I wouldn’t, and you shouldn’t. 

So, I called toll-free and waited on hold for a while to speak to Denise.  At least the automated phone attendant didn’t say my call was important.  Denise was pleasant and helpful.  She listened to my ranting and provided the missing detail.  By the way, Denise said she wouldn’t pay anyone just because they said to either. 

She said they mailed me a statement three days ago.  One of those three days was a Sunday, when there is no mail delivery.  Another is today and my mail doesn’t come for hours yet.  I’d say the odds of me having received the bill before the text are zero.  If I’ve miscalculated, then they must still be zero.  If the post office was operating at a much higher level of efficiency than it is now, still zero.

Texting this lack of information to someone with a stellar FICO score before there is any chance that they would have received a bill is, to return to the correct technical term, nuts.  All it accomplishes is annoying your client, and perhaps generating a phone call that costs NYU Langone money. 

Good debt collection practice is to pursue the money quickly.  The longer a debt goes unpaid the less likely it is to be paid, but if you’re annoying the people who pay quickly, and doing so costs more than you are making by pursuing this policy, what are  you accomplishing?

Is the benefit higher than the cost?  I’m not sure, but I am compelled to think this costs more than it brings in.  Let’s assume a few things.  First, let’s assume the hospital/health service makes one percent a year on its overnight deposits.  Let’s also assume that annoying all their patients results in them paying one week faster than they otherwise would, on average.  That isn’t necessarily correct.  I know I’m annoyed enough I’m probably going to pay this bill late.  Doing so might drop my FICO score below 840, but I don’t care.

Remember I said they want $29.17 from me.  $29.17 times one percent a year for a week is roughly half a penny.  Did it cost NYU Langone more than half a penny to have Denise speak to me for a few minutes?  I hope so.  Is it going to cost them more than half a cent to send me a collection letter when my account isn’t past due?  Yeah, it will.  How about if I pay it four weeks late instead of on time, just because I’m annoyed?  That will cost them two cents.  Am I going to do that?  I’m undecided at this point but leaning toward yes.

I like the doctor involved in all this.  He knows his business, isn’t too late for appointments, and even returns calls if something comes up.  Next time I see him I’m going to have a talk with him.  The numbers don’t give them pause, but maybe he can get them to stop.  I mean he’s a heart specialist.  Does he want the billing department to give his patients high blood pressure and heart attacks?  I believe I’m seeing him to prevent those things from happening, not to ensure them.

Shifting Coverage

I have diabetes.  If you do too, don’t be secretive about it.  You should let people around you know, so if you experience side effects such as passing out or becoming less than lucid, they’ll have some idea what’s going on.

As with many people who have diabetes, I take a lot of medicine for it and the medicine is expensive.  I’m fortunate to have excellent prescription drug insurance, although the company that manages that coverage for my supplemental drug plan leaves a lot to be desired.

Lately, they’ve been changing the formulary for what drugs they cover.  Sometimes there are good reasons for that.  Sometimes, less so.  As an example, if your doctor wrote you a subscription for Synthroid, a medicine to help with thyroid problems, and allowed the pharmacy to fill it with a generic, you still got Synthroid, which is a brand name.  Why?  Because Synthroid was judged to be more effective than any of the generics available.  That’s changed this year.  Now, if a generic is allowed, I get a generic.  So, I hope the generics are improved.  I guess we’ll see with my next blood test.

The latest issue is with another brand-name drug, Invokana.  Although my insurance has been paying for it over the last six years or more, and paid for it in February, they’ve decided they won’t anymore.  They will pay for Jardiance or Farxiga.  Nobody told me if it’s because those newer drugs are more effective in lowering blood sugar, because they’re less expensive, or both.  It’s not because the replacements are generic.  Both are brand names as well.  And make no mistake, Invokana is expensive—somewhere between $500 and $600 a month for the dosage I take if I buy it at retail.  I’m pretty sure the insurance gets a discount though.

I’m all for reducing cost.  I try to do it in my personal life, and I used to be a municipal auditor and a municipal treasurer, so I did it in my work life too.  The problem is, Invokana is superior to Jardiance or Farxiga in at least one respect.  I’m neither a doctor nor a pharmacist, but from what I’ve read, Invokana has benefits for the kidney disease that often results from diabetes while the alternatives do not.

So, now I am jumping through hoops to get my doctor to get a prior authorization and get my prescription filled before I run out of pills at the end of next week.  And because of the COVID 19 pandemic, it’s harder to find hoops or to find someone to hold the hoops so I can jump through them.  I hope this is all resolved within the next two weeks, before I run out of Invokana and/or patience.

Things I Know

With the quarantine, I’m guessing there’ll be lots of room for Elijah at most if not all Passover seders tonight.  Gut yontif to my friends and reader who celebrate.

Easter is this weekend, and if Pope Francis blesses the crowd at St. Peter’s Square, there won’t be one.

The Pope is 83.  He’s also non-traditional.  After all, he had midnignt mass on Christmas at 9:00 PM.  So if he gets up in the middle of the night to take a leak, will Easter sunrise services be held at 3:00 AM?

There are plenty of people who only go to church on Christmas and Easter.  The Catholic church and any Protestant denominations that use a collection plate, should start Go Fund Me pages so they will recoup at least some of the revenue they’ll be missing at the Easter collection.

I’m not trying to minimize COVID 19.  It’s awful and everyone in my household is in a vulnerable category.  But keep this in mind.  There aren’t a lot of tests out there, so there are a lot of people who have it or had it but survived and aren’t included in the statistics.  This means there are more people affected than being reported.  I thought this meant the death rate was lower than reported, but I have recently heard that deaths are being under-reported and mis-categorized as well.  So, who knows?

 You may have noticed that “coronavirus” is one word.  I tried googling why, but even the all-knowing Google didn’t have an answer.

Solved my problem about the lawn-mower gas cap.  I found the original.  When it fell off the mower, it fell under the engine on the deck that houses the blade.  If you’re wondering why I didn’t find it sooner, I got down on the ground to try to find a model number and serial number for the engine and the cap was hidden there.  I didn’t do that earlier, because my knees make getting back up problematic.

My daughter has managed to arrange grocery deliveries from Amazon Fresh and from  Over and above the delivery charge, I think it’s going to cost you more than shopping multiple grocery stores from their circulars, but in this time of COVID 19, having these services does cut your exposure.  Well worth it, I think.  Amazon is better at being on time than Shipt is where I live, but both are very helpful.  I also tried Peapod.  It might be different elsewhere, but here, I can’t get a spot, even if I log on just as they add another day which is two weeks out.  As it comes online, all the spots two weeks away are listed as sold out.  One good thing about Peapod is you find a delivery slot first, so you don’t waste time ordering only to find you can’t get the stuff to your house.

Things I Know

To answer my own question about Democratic presidential primaries, Tulsi Gabbard has suspended her campaign too.

I like Toro lawnmowers.  The one I have now isn’t the only one I’ve ever owned.  But the one I have now has a gas cap with large protuberances around its edges.  These bumps catch on low-lying shrubs and work the gas cap off.  When that happened at the end of last mowing season, I lost the cap.  Mowing season fast approaches.  Did you know that the parts list you can find in the owner’s manual or online for my Toro lawnmower doesn’t contain a list of engine parts?  I didn’t either, but I do now.  In normal times, I would load the mower in my truck and run it over to the mower dealer for a new gas cap.  But these are COVID times.  And the listing for caps on Amazon doesn’t contain enough information to decide which one to buy.  The picture could show whether the cap fits a tank neck with inside or outside threads.  But it doesn’t.  The picture of the cap could show whether it has inside or outside threads and say what size tank neck it fits, but that’s not happening either.   I guess it’s time for some foil and a rubber band.

I scored some toilet paper this morning.  I only bought one pack.  If I hadn’t gotten it, I was going to head over to Home Depot to see if they had any extra-fine sandpaper.

I often listen to the British talk radio station LBC over the internet.  In the pre-dawn hours, today, presenter Steve Allen told the following joke.  I didn’t get all the details, because I was falling asleep so the names and dates may not be completely accurate, but it won’t spoil the story.

On a cool spring evening in June 2047, James was sitting in his favorite chair, reading.  He felt the urge to go to the bathroom, so he did.  When finishing his business, he finally used the last few sheets of toilet paper his grandparents had purchased in 2020.

Knock off the panic buying, people!


New York Governor Andrew Cuomo has banned gatherings of more than 500 people while COVID 19 is running rampant through the countryside.  This blog will not close during the crisis.  I am 100-percent sure that 500 people have never gathered at one time to read this blog.  It would surprise me if 500 people in total have ever read it, let alone at one time.

Schools are closed where I live for the next two weeks.  My college alma mater is closed for the rest of the school year, having switched to on-line instruction.  It’s getting so it’s hard to keep track of what’s closed and what’s opened.  If you want to go to your doctor’s office, you should call first to find out if you are too sick for them to see you.

I understand the need to limit crowds to inhibit spread of this virus, but I miss baseball.  Will Spring continue to develop without baseball to cause warm weather?  I’m a Mets fan.  I’ve long since figured out that the rerun games SNY cable channel runs as “Mets Classics” only show games the Mets won.  Where’s the suspense in that?

I am in the group considered most at risk.  I’m older and have an existing chronic disease:  diabetes.  Still, people’s reaction to COVID 19 is a little ridiculous.  Why do you need to acquire every anti-bacterial wipe?  It’s a virus.  Antibiotics don’t work against viruses, so I wonder whether anti-bacterial wipes do either.

Why do you need every roll of toilet paper?  Diarrhea isn’t the most common symptom.  What’s with the run on bottled water?  Isn’t there at least one tap at your house?  Don’t you have a glass or a cup?  There wouldn’t be shortages if it weren’t for the panic buying.  My wife and daughter inform me it ought to be easy for our nearest supermarket to sanitize its shelves.  There still isn’t a hell of a lot of stuff on any of those shelves to get in the way of cleaning them.

One of my friends told me yesterday that his wife is stuck in Hawaii because of all the restrictions owing to COVID 19.  She’s not sick, and she’s staying with relatives so she’s not incurring a lot of additional expense.  Since those two things are true, I’m having trouble gathering up any sympathy for the nice lady who’s stuck in Hawaii.

In England, they’re thinking of forcing everyone over 70 years of age to self-isolate.  FOR FOUR MONTHS!!!!!!!  If the old people can’t go out, who’s going to go in to take care of them?

Both in England and here in the USA, it’s been suggested that retired doctors and nurses should come out of retirement to help.  If they’re retired, aren’t they likely to be older, and therefore more at risk of dying from this disease?  So, is that really a good idea?

Sirius XM, the satellite radio subscription service now has a channel (121) devoted exclusively to COVID 19.  And it works on your Sirius or XM receiver whether you have a paid-up subscription or not.

I think the best advice comes from a man who died more than 30 years ago, Michael Conrad.  Mr. Conrad was an actor more famous for a character he played in the hit TV show “Hill Street Blues” than for his actual name.  As Sgt. Phil Esterhaus, it was Michael Conrad who reminded us each week to, “Be careful out there.”

Six Degrees

As best anyone can determine, the term “Six degrees of separation” first appeared in an article in Psychology Today magazine.  The concept of everyone being reasonably closely associated with everyone else first appeared in a short story in 1929.  It’s the idea that everyone is separated from knowing everyone else by at most five people.  In other words, I know A, A knows B, etc., until E knows F. Erstwhile presidential candidate Mike Bloomberg dropped out of the race on Super Wednesday (the day after Super Tuesday).  This caused me to reflect that I know someone who once worked for him, so one degree of separation.  Years ago, I knew someone who worked with Bill Gates.  One degree of separation again.  Also, one degree of separation from the Lone Ranger (a since-deceased actor I once knew worked on the radio show opposite Brace Beemer).  And, since I’m one degree of separation from the Lone Ranger, doesn’t that make me three degrees of separation from the Green Hornet?  It is indeed a small world!

Things I Want (or Need) to Know

Why is leap-year day in February?  I know February is the shortest month of the year, but who wants more February?  I say we change leap-year day to the end of June.  Who’s with me?

My TV has a light that glows bright red when the TV is off.  My cable box has a light on it that goes off when the cable box is off.  Why does every electronic device seem to have a light on it these days?  And, can’t we have some consistency?  On when the device is off or off when the device is off, but pick one.  Shouldn’t they all work the same way?

Marine Gen. David Berger, the Marine Corps commandant, has banned all Confederate flags, bumper stickers, and other Confederate mementos from all Marine Corps bases.  Fine, but it makes me wonder when the US military will start renaming all the military bases named after Confederate generals.

When did time immemorial start?

Recently, I was talking about old cars (I like them) with a husband and wife I know.  The woman told me her father once owned a white, 1955 C-300 Chrysler.  It’s a rare car sometimes described as America’s first muscle car.   She told me when her father sold it, the new owner painted it red, which annoyed her dad who insisted the cars were available only in white or black.  I said they were also available in red.  She insisted and I didn’t argue.  But I did look it up.  Even though her dad owned one, I was right.  Now, the question is why do I remember what colors a 65-year-old C-300 Chrysler was available in, but I don’t know anything that would make me a lot of money?

Things I Know

If you’re tired of the process the Democrats are using to choose a Presidential candidate, and who isn’t, Super Tuesday is next week.  Hopefully, that will narrow the field considerably.  Mike Bloomberg has spent something like six-hundred-million dollars on ads.  And his campaign is focused on Super Tuesday.  If he doesn’t do well, that’s a hell of a lot of money to waste.  Or, is he spending it with some other purpose in mind?

It always amazes me that British election campaigns last something like six or seven weeks.

If you want to be pedantic, and I frequently do, grammar, dammit! From the NY Post Website today, “A Florida woman smiled to family members in court Thursday before she was sentenced to 30 years in prison for fatally stabbing her father 69 times.” She stabbed him 69 times, killing him. He didn’t die 69 times.

It’s Leslie’s birthday. Why do I remember, many decades later, the birthday of a junior I dated for a couple of months when I was a senior in high school? Humiliation. When I learned she was born on February 28, I remarked that she just missed being born on leap year day. She looked at me as if I had more than the standard number of heads and told me the year she was born wasn’t a leap year. Humiliation. I know you’re supposed to think first and then speak. I still do those two things in the wrong order occasionally, but when I was 17, I sometimes omitted the think part entirely. She, her husband, my wife, and I remained friends into our twenties, but as life does, it moved on and we all drifted apart. Still, every year at this time, I encounter a renewed twinge of humiliation and can’t help recalling it’s Leslie’s birthday.

I bought myself a scanner designed to digitize film negatives, slides and prints.  I’m still figuring it out, but so far, it’s working well.  I’m not going to convert every picture I took before I switched to digital.  I doubt I will live long enough for that.  But it looks like I’ll have throwback Thursday material for many years to come.

Prince Harry hasn’t really got a lot to complain about.  It’s been centuries since British monarchs or heirs to the throne have gone around killing anyone else in the line of succession.


Multi-billionaire Michael Bloomberg is running an unorthodox campaign for the Democratic nomination to be President of the United States.  He didn’t participate in the Iowa caucuses, but he will be in tonight’s.  He didn’t run in the New Hampshire primary either, although he did get some write-in votes there.

He didn’t qualify for earlier Democratic debates because entry requirements included performance in polls and the number of donors you’ve lined up.  Bloomberg is now showing up in the polls but didn’t meet the donor rule because he has personally paid for all those ads currently inundating television sets near you, and everywhere else as well.  If the slogan, “Mike will get it done,” doesn’t resonate with you, you’re tv is probably broken.

Bloomberg says he’s running for President to defeat President Trump.

History tells us that more liberal Democrats are likely to vote in primaries, and the same for more conservative Republicans.  Bloomberg has done some things that won’t appeal to left-wing Democrats.  For instance, as mayor of New York, he was a strong supporter of stop and frisk.  As a result, a significant number of political pundits think Bloomberg has very little chance of gaining the nomination.  As a Presidential candidate, Bloomberg has apologized for that position on multiple occasions, and stranger things have happened. 

Last weekend, Bloomberg dropped the news that he’s considering Hillary Clinton as a possible vice-presidential running mate.  Recall for a minute the 2016 Presidential election.  Just about every poll that asked the question determined that Trump and Clinton were the two least liked candidates ever to face each other while seeking the Presidency.  It’s fair to say both are polarizing.  I know people who didn’t vote for either of them.  I am people who didn’t vote for either of them.

Vexed isn’t too harsh a word, is it? By mentioning Clinton as a possible Vice-Presidential candidate, I’m sure Bloomberg has vexed the other people still seeking the Democratic nomination.

By spending all that money in running, it’s clear that whatever else his motives might be, Mike Bloomberg is messing with Donald Trump.  If you have upwards of sixty-billion dollars, I suppose it is pretty easy for you to mess with somebody.  But, suggesting he might designate Hillary Clinton for his running mate leads me to wonder if Mike Bloomberg is trying to mess with everybody.

Consent of the Defeated

Today is a good day to discuss something we seem to be losing not only in the United States, but in the world.  It’s long been held that for government to work, it needs the consent of the governed.  For democracy to work, we need the consent of the defeated. 

Today, there will be a vote in the US Senate to decide whether to call witnesses in the trial of President Donald Trump.  Senator Lamar Alexander of Tennessee, who was considered a possible swing vote, has declared that he will vote against calling witnesses.  I may be proved wrong later today, but right now it appears that no witnesses will  be called and the move to remove President Trump from office will fail.  Senator Alexander has said he thinks the things President Trump was impeached over were inappropriate, but don’t rise to the level of being removed from office by impeachment.  He believes this year’s election is the appropriate place to evaluate President Trump.

One of the things President Trump was impeached over is using foreign aid to coerce the government of the Ukraine to investigate the family of former Vice President Biden, a possible opponent in this year’s election.  Wrong?  I think so.  On the other hand, more than one of Trump’s potential November opponents get to vote on whether to remove the President from office. 

From the start, voting on the removal process in the House and the Senate has been along political lines.  Since the Senate must convict to remove any President from office, it seemed likely from the start, and still seems likely that President Trump won’t be removed from office.  The next chance to do that will come on November 3rd, election day.

The point about President Trump’s impeachment is a significant number of people were agitating for it even before he took office.  A disturbing number of Americans were running around the Internet using hashtags such as #NotMyPresident.  This whole process has been largely political.  All impeachments of US presidents, from the first, President Andrew Johnson in 1868, have been largely political, and President Johnson stayed in office because the Senate failed to vote two-thirds to remove him, by only one vote.  President Clinton didn’t come that close and I don’t think President Trump will either.  A lot of people think President Nixon was impeached, but he wasn’t.  He resigned from office to avoid the disgrace of impeachment and removal.  In his case, removal did seem likely.

Worldwide, this is not the only instance of people who lost continuing to fight the result long after the election.  Tonight at 6 PM eastern time, The United Kingdom will leave the European Union, a process commonly referred to as Brexit.  The referendum that decided this took place in June, 2016.  The results were close and people in Britain have been arguing about it, heatedly, since.  One of the points of argument was that the vote was so close there should be a second referendum.  This issue crossed party lines in the UK.  If I remember correctly, Scotland and Northern Ireland voted to remain in the EU.  As a result, Parliament couldn’t come to an agreement on necessary legislation, through two national elections.  Finally, in December, 2019, British voters gave Prime Minister Boris Johnson the votes he needed in Parliament to get it done.

There are long-accepted things the defeated can do after an election.  They can continue to put forward their agenda and speak out against policies when they object.  What’s different now is too many people are trying to circumvent the electoral process instead of working on making their case to the public and targeting the next election.  I suggest that’s not healthy for democracy.

Things I Want (or Need) to Know

I was at a warehouse recently.  Like most warehouses, it had forklifts and 18-wheel trucks.  Observing them in operation made me wonder why when your toilet backs up it doesn’t go “beep beep beep.”

Headline from the NY Post website late last month,  “Ghost Boat With Decapitated Heads, Corpses Washes Up in Japan”  Wouldn’t “decapitated heads be heads from which the heads had  been removed?

If your dentist installs a new crown in your mouth, is that a coronation?

Instead of comments on my blog, I get tons of spam purporting to be comments.  I can’t help wondering how much more spam I’d get if I published all of it as comments.

Why do people eat oyster crackers with clam chowder, and why aren’t there any clam crackers?

I know I’m a little late with this, but I was tied up with other stuff.  What did Santa bring you for Christmas?  I got a cool WKRP first-annual turkey drop t-shirt.

I hate Liberty Mutual TV commercials.  Here’s one more reason.  Plymouth Dusters and Dodge Demons looked very similar from 1970 to 1976 and they don’t show it very long.  But can someone explain why the Emu and his partner, Doug, in the Liberty Mutual Insurance commercials are driving around in a company car that’s almost 50 years old?  Also, what’s with the blue light on the roof?  In most states only police can use a light like that.  In New York, volunteer fire fighters use them too.

Things I Know

The United States, as a country, has had three attempts to impeach the president in less than 50 years.  That should tell you that every impeachment is at least in some way about politics.  Before the attempt to impeach President Nixon, the only other instance was President Andrew Johnson after the Civil War.  Of the four, the effort to remove Nixon was the least political.  Most people don’t realize President Nixon wasn’t impeached.  He resigned to avoid it.

Whatever you think about the trial about to begin in the US Senate on whether to remove President Trump from office, Senator McConnell’s saying that there may be no need to call witnesses seems bogus to me.  A House vote to impeach has been likened to a grand jury indictment.  If a grand jury hands up an indictment, after having called witnesses, when the trial starts, there are witnesses in the trial too.

 I don’t know how much money is in the coin jar on your bureau, but mine held $151.33 when I emptied it this week.

The theory behind bail reform in New York was a good one.  In practice, not so much.  Lots of poor people charged with crimes spent months in jail because they couldn’t make bail, only to be acquitted or have charged dropped in the end.  It makes sense to release a lot of people without bail.  What is happening now, however, is too many people charged with a crime are being released without bail only to be rearrested a few hours or days later for committing another of the same type of crime.  Clearly, some fine tuning is needed.

I like taking pictures of collectable cars.  As a result, I’ve been to several Barrett-Jackson auctions and enjoyed them.  Last week was the first time I went to a Mecum auction, the one that’s held in Kissimmee Florida each January.  If you like to look at collectable cars, I endorse attending either company’s auctions.  I had a great time.

I haven’t taken a red-eye flight in decades and I won’t do it again.  On Saturday, I was scheduled to leave Orlando around 9:00 PM, but the flight was delayed so I didn’t get to Islip MacArthur Airport until 1:15 AM or home until 2:45.  Because flights can be delayed, I don’t think I’ll be booking a flight as late as 9:00 PM anymore either.

One thing about my trip to Florida was exceptional.  I got the kind of rental car I reserved.  That’s never happened to me before.  I asked for a Mustang convertible, or similar.  Instead of the “or similar” I usually get, I got the Mustang. 

I frequently listen to the British talk-radio station LBC, and I still don’t understand what the fuss is about Harry and Meghan wanting to abandon their active positions in the Royal family.   

Things I Know

Getting a flu shot is a good idea, and it’s not too late.  I did it.  Bumping into a wall or door frame soon after you’ve gotten a flu shot is not a good idea.  I did that the morning after I got my flu shot, and thought I’d warn you.

On the tourism front, I’m in Florida to take in the Mecum auto auction in Kissimmee.  It’s the biggest one I know of, and since I like to photograph old cars, it seems logical that I’d be here eventually.  Saint Karen isn’t interested, but she said it was fine for me to come here, so I did.  Just one more example of why I say she must be a saint to put up with me.

Spoiler alert:  The Mustang driven by Steve McQueen in the movie “Bullitt” sold for $3.4 million.  The title Plymouth from the movie “Christine” garnered a high bid of $275 thousand, and the owner didn’t sell it at that price.

As for the travel, there’s a Snapple vending machine in Islip MacArthur Airport that is full of drinks, but no Snapple.  A disappointment.  The worst bagel I’ve ever had I got at Islip too.  It was edible, but truly a roll with a hole.  None of the chewy texture bagels are famous for.

First flight on Frontier Airlines.  As soon as I sat down, I pulled their app up on my phone and booked a premium flight for the return trip.  Premium seats have a little more legroom.  At least the ones that are really jammed together don’t recline.  BTW, I found their customer support via their Facebook page to be excellent. 

I rented a car from Alamo.  I reserved a Mustang convertible, and they gave me a Mustang convertible, instead of an “or similar.”  I think it was the first time in my life I got the car I asked for from a rental agency.

Note to Ford and Android Car Play app.  It’s a rental car. I want it to play music from my phone.  I don’t want my phone to tell the car all my deepest secrets and the name and contact information of everyone I have ever known.   If you want to spill your guts to Ford and Google, fine, but since a lot of people use their phones in rental cars, if I tell the car and the app to stop trying to sync, they ought to take my word for it and knock it off.

Have you ever wondered why the three-letter code for Orlando’s airport is MCO?  It’s because before it was a commercial airport, it was an Air Force base—McCoy Air Force Base.

Saint Karen and I celebrated our wedding anniversary with a little trip to New York’s Finger Lakes region.  In case you’ve never been, the lakes are fed by streams that have, over thousands of years, created beautiful gorges and lots of waterfalls.  How scenic is it?  Taughannock Falls is on the scenic calendar my auto mechanic gives out to customers.  Taughannock Falls State Park and Watkins Glen State Park are two of the area’s prime beauties.  The Taughannock waterfall doesn’t spill the same volume of water, but it is thirty or forty feet taller than Niagara. 

Watkins Glen has more waterfalls, but it’s also more strenuous.  We made the mistake of starting at the visitors’ center.  I say mistake because from there the hike is all uphill.  The smarter thing to do is start at the other end and walk downhill.  In the summer, there’s a shuttle between the two parking lots, but there isn’t one the rest of the year.  I suppose you could call a taxi.

If you’re a photographer, set up your gear before you head out.  My photo backpack weighs 25 pounds and there aren’t a lot of dry places to put something like that down so you can select lenses and set up your tripod.


Happy New Year.

The Sisyphus Project is copyrighted 2020 as well as all the previous years.

January 1 is the time a lot of newly elected local officials take office.  Our town’s supervisor was on TV this morning saying he had saved the taxpayers a million dollars, by cutting positions from the budget in the supervisor’s office.  Then he went on to say he’ll spend that money on other things that need doing.

I have two comments on this.  First, if he’s spending the money elsewhere, he isn’t saving it, is he?  Second, I am someone who has crafted multi-million-dollar government budgets, and everyone who works in the supervisor’s office might be paid out of the supervisor’s budget.  I don’t know in this specific case.  However, it’s kind of normal for a municipal executive to have at least some people working in his/her office who are paid from the budget in other departments.

Something else that takes place at the beginning of every year is the cable tv channel HGTV’s dream home.  I always watch and like the show they do about building or extensively remodeling a dream home.  But the prize in the contest is the house with all its furnishings, a new Honda Passport, and $250,000 from Quicken Mortgage, for a total of over two-million dollars.  That’s great, but don’t you have to be rich in order to pay the taxes so you can keep the prize once you’ve won?  My family is comfortable, but certainly not rich, and I know I couldn’t afford to keep that prize unless I won Powerball or Mega Millions first.

By the way, if I do win Powerball or Mega Millions this year, my plans for that haven’t changed.  I still intend to jump on the bed.

Things I Know

Did you miss me?  I’ve been busy with a few other things.  My wife and I have each had some minor health problems.  Plus, I’ve been consumed by reddit.  People who have problems encounter advice from the most passive-aggressive people on earth there.  I admire that.

With respect to health problems, I had to have an MRI.  They’re uncomfortable, but it beats slicing me open to see what’s in there.  If you’ve had one, you know they’re noisy and a lot of places that administer them will play music for you and let you select what kind.  The tech asked me, and I said for all that commotion, I like the most relaxing music I can think of:  Gregorian Chant.  He asked me if that was the name of a band.

Isn’t there another debate tonight for Democratic presidential candidates?  I’m sorry, but I just can’t.  Maybe when they weed it down to two or three I’ll pay attention, but not now.

I’ve been running into a lot of people recently with whom I share idiosyncrasies.  I told you about the Buick-taillight guy.  Since then, I found out my eye doctor likes awful puns too.  Aren’t the very best puns really bad?  And I’m not the only person who uses spreadsheets to come up with odd anniversaries.  You can add and subtract numbers and dates in an Excel spreadsheet.  I told my buddy Steve about that last week, and he knew without thinking about it that 10,000 days is between 27 and 27.5 years.  It’s a good thing I’m the only person I know who has all my idiosyncrasies.  Frankly, I don’t think I could stand anyone else who did.

My wife, Saint Karen (who must be a saint to put up with me) had cataract surgery.  She’s said it was relatively easy and she’s recovering remarkably well.  The biggest problem she’s having is forcing herself to sleep on her back.  I told her that if it were me, I’d milk it for a lot more sympathy than she has.

Sirius XM satellite radio recently changed a policy.  Now, if you subscribe in your car, you can also listen on your phone or on your computer without paying an additional fee.  I like the service.  I’ve had it in a couple of rental cars and a free trial came with one of my cars.  I just don’t spend enough time in the car to pay full price for it.  I signed up at a reduced rate for a year, and with the additional access points, it’s more valuable to me than it was before.  I may even renew when the reduced rate is up.  And, yes, I do know you can get them to cut the price again when you go to renew.

The Press Club of Long Island, the Freeport Historical Society, and the village administration will teamed up this summer to dedicate an historical marker at the site of radio station WGBB’s transmitter.  The Press Club is involved because GBB was the first station on Long Island to broadcast news.  I didn’t know that, and I used to work there.  Stands to reason.  After all, when WGBB went on the air in 1924, it was the only commercial station on Long Island.

I think Thule AFB is enough of Greenland.  We don’t really need to buy the rest.  Plus, I understand it isn’t for sale.  Plus, I don’t think the people who live there now would be happy to go without some of the socialistic benefits they enjoy now for being a part of Denmark, including free health care.

Unamerican Fourth

There was a time when GM built more than half of all the cars in the world and advertised Chevrolets with the slogan, “Baseball, hot dogs, apple pie, and Chevrolet.”  GM was paying for those ads and they still proclaimed baseball first of those All-American things.

When I was a younger man, major-league baseball games usually ran a little over two hours.  At that time, I advocated for a federal law requiring all major-league teams to play double headers on Memorial Day, the Fourth of July, and Labor Day.

Today, a typical baseball game is much closer to four hours than two, so I believe double headers should be outlawed.  However, baseball should still be required by federal law on the three warm-weather national holidays.  The only way my position has changed is I no longer think they should play two.

Why do I bring this up now?  Because yesterday, July 4, 2019, there could have been three more major-league games.  Six teams didn’t play. 

Things I Know

I was at a car show on Long Island, Sunday, where I met a guy who owns a 1969 Hurst Rambler drag car.  American Motors officially designated the model as a Scrambler. I told him that I saw a custom Pontiac at Barrett-Jackson in Connecticut last Wednesday.  The Pontiac had Buick taillights, and it disturbed me that I knew the difference instantly, instead of knowing something that would make me a lot of money.  He started correctly describing the difference between the taillights on a 61 Pontiac and a 61 Buick.  I couldn’t help thinking, “A kindred spirit!”  I don’t know if it’s a good or a bad thing that I’m not the only one.

My back has been biting me recently.  As a result, I’ve let yard maintenance slide and I had a lot more weeding to do than my back was willing to allow.  So, I hired the lawn-care company my neighbor uses to do it for me on a one-time basis.  It cost a bit, but it was like magic.  Four people who are used to this kind of work, know what they are doing and have proper tools took care of everything in about two hours.  I’m not going to give up doing normal yard care myself yet, but that idea is sure tempting. 

One thing did occur to me, lawn-care companies and house-cleaning companies ought to exchange sales-contact lists.  In my home, while my wife and I share both inside and outside work, she does more of the inside and I more of the outside.  If I were to hire a company to mow the lawn and do yard cleanup, I’d be benefitting myself more than my wife, so it would only be natural for me to want to do something nice for her as well, if that should happen.

If you ever wonder if you’re still young at heart, here’s a sure-fire way to find out.  When is the last time you deliberately made yourself dizzy?

On Facebook the other day, one of my friends wished another, “Mazel tov.”  Oddly, at least to me, Facebook offered to translate the phrase to English.  Where I grew up, mazel tov is English.

I like the recent addition to Facebook that allows me to choose to see all comments, most relevant, or most recent.  I’d like it better if it allowed me to set a default value for that.  I’d like it much better, if when I choose “all comments,” it shows me all the comments, instead of showing maybe two or three and then making me click to see more.

I don’t object that the special deal Sirius XM satellite radio offered me costs me $6.06 a month.  I object that they said it cost $4.99.  The extra charge, revealed in the process of signing up, is to cover music royalties.  But music royalties are part of their business overhead.  I suppose next they’ll assess me a separate fee to cover the cost of the electricity they use to stay on the air.

Things I Want (or Need) to Know

Do you suppose any of the attractive young women who have recently followed me on Instagram are actually attractive young women?

Have you seen the latest Progressive Insurance commercial?  It’s the one where they ask why Flo and Jamie are dressed as bakers.  I know I asked that question in April, but here’s proof I also asked it more than four years ago.

Without discussing whether the border wall is a good idea, if Donald Trump really wanted one, why didn’t he try to get it when his party controlled both houses of Congress?

It’s old music in commercials time again.  Cadillac is using a song from the early sixties to sell the XT-5.  Acura and Dior’s Joy perfume are both using the Rolling Stones “Like a Rainbow” from the early seventies.  Ford is using something from a late-seventies movie to sell trucks and Chevy isn’t using the song itself but is also referencing a song from the late seventies to sell trucks.  Two questions.  Do you suppose Ford and Chevy colluded on their ad campaigns for trucks?  And what demographic are all these ads trying to sell to with songs that are too old to play on the radio?

Things I Know

I like hotels in the Hilton chain.  I especially like Homewood Suites because a genuine suite (the kind with a door between the sleeping and living areas) doesn’t cost a lot more than a room at some other chains.  We stayed at the Boston/Peabody Homewood Suites for a couple of days last month and were entirely satisfied.  You knew there was a however, didn’t you?  However, today I got an unwanted sales call from Hilton Grand Vacations time shares.  I called Hilton Honors and told them that if I continue to get unwanted calls from their time-share subsidiary after staying in their hotels, I’ll stop staying in their hotels, even though I do like them.  Maybe it’s a coincidence, but if so, it’s not the first coincidence, or the first time I’ve complained about it.

The spell checker built into Facebook thinks Zuckerberg, spelled correctly, isn’t spelled correctly.  On the other hand, the spell checker built into MS Word is familiar with the term.  Go ahead, try it.  Unless they scan the internet for every mention of Facebook, it will still be true by the time you get around to checking it.

You don’t have to be as wealthy as Donald Trump says he is in order to wear clothes that fit properly.  On the other hand (and this may be less obvious) being as wealthy as Donald Trump says he is doesn’t preclude you from wearing clothes that fit either.

Don’t know if he’s in the right place, but Doctor John the Grammy-winning New Orleans musician, passed away earlier this week.  RIP Doctor, Doctor John.  Two doctors because he called himself doctor and Tulane University awarded him an honorary doctorate a while back, I think in 2012.

A few days ago, in a supermarket I patronize, there were packages in the refrigerator case labeled, “5 Cheese Ravioli.”  Except, there were six in each package.  So, I’m assuming for the sake of clarity they meant “5-Cheese Ravioli.”

Things I Know

Somebody won the big Powerball lottery on a ticket sold in North Carolina.  According to CNN, “A stack of $100 bills totaling $344.6 million would be taller than the 1,063-foot Eiffel Tower in Paris, the Powerball website says.”  Ridiculous, I say.  A stack of $100 bills totaling $344.6 Million would fall over long before it got that high. In case you won, and are wondering, taking that prize in $100 bills, before taxes would also weigh around 7,600 pounds, depending on how dirty the bills were.

President Trump says he’s going to impose tariffs on goods coming from Mexico if that country’s government doesn’t stop the illegal immigrants coming from Mexico to the US.  As far as I know, right now the only country that spends a lot of effort and money trying to keep people from leaving is North Korea.  Maybe China spends some effort to stem outflow too, but not nearly as much as North Korea.  The last country to make a big deal of it was East Germany.

President Trump seems to think that tariffs imposed on Mexico and China are paid by those countries.  No, they’re not.  Maybe if we raise tariffs it costs some exporters in those countries some of their business, but companies that import their goods to the USA are the ones that pay the tariffs.  Then, they pass the increased cost on to we the consumers.  So, we’re the ones who pay.

Plus, tariffs are generally reciprocal.  If you raise tariffs on my country, my country is very likely to raise tariffs on yours.  That explains why China has raised tariffs on soybeans to the extent that Chinese importers have stopped buying soybeans from US farmers.

The first Democratic presidential debates of the 2020 campaign will be held toward the end of this month in Miami.  How many candidates are there now?  23, I think.  I’m not exactly sure a debate among 23 candidates (or whoever many of them wind up qualifying to take part), taking two days, will be scintillating.

In Great Britain, the contest for the next prime minister is on too, but will finish up a lot sooner.  Unless I’ve lost count, there are only 11 candidates for that job.  But Britain has about 20 percent of the US population, so that’s proportionally much worse.  LBC, a British talk radio station, has a brilliant programming idea.  One day each week, their afternoon-drive host is taking calls about the race.  But he’s not asking callers who they support.  He wants to know what they would do if they were prime minister. 

ETA:  I stand corrected.  At last count there are 13 candidates for British prime minister.

So, what would you do if you were President?

Visiting Old Sturbridge Village and Salem

Saint Karen and I spent a little time in Massachusetts last week, visiting Old Sturbridge Village and Salem.  I’d recommend both.  We like historical places.  Salem has some preserved pre-Revolutionary buildings and cemeteries that date to the 1600s.  Sturbridge represents a pre-Civil War farming communities.  Some of the buildings were preserved/restored locally and some were purchased elsewhere, moved to Sturbridge, and reassembled.

The two pictures above are from Sturbridge, the Central Meeting House which was built around 1832 and an antique farm wagon I found in one of the many barns in the Village.  We were there on a beautiful late-May day.  I imagine autumn in Old Sturbridge Village is a photo opportunity just waiting to happen too.  Maybe we’ll go back for fall color.

I’d prefer to have the pictures side by side, but I’m not good at layout in Word Press.  If I figure out how to do that, I’ll change it.

If I have any pictures I like from Salem, I’ll try to put them up soon, and perhaps say a little more about Salem as well.

The docents in Sturbridge were really knowledgeable, and outgoing.  I had an informative conversation with the tinsmith, and another with the cobbler.  The thing that really caught my attention was in the school house where the woman playing a teacher displayed a book about American  history.  It was only a few pages long.  After all, she said, there wasn’t that much American history back then.  We were in the school house when a school field trip came through.  The school kids’ questions were entertaining too.  They were especially glad to know that school children in the early nineteenth century did have recess.

One improvement I’d recommend for Old Sturbridge Village (and it is trivial) is when you get to the parking lot, it’s a little difficult to figure out where the village entrance is.  A couple of additional signs would help with that.


I was in Salem, MA, last week, which is near Boston, and I had to get to Long Island, NY, which isn’t.  I could have gotten on I-95 and taken it all the way to the Throgs Neck Bridge, but I have a GPS, so I plugged my destination into it.  As a result, after getting on I-95, I took several other roads before rejoining I-95 near Bridgeport, CT.  In doing that, I saved about a half-hour of driving.  So, plus one for GPS. 

As an aside, what is a throg anyway?  

More often, I take GPS directions as advice, rather than gospel.  For instance, driving from Ithaca, NY to New York City, you’d probably take NY Route 17 most of the way, or I-81 to I-380 to I-80.  Last time I did it, I took NY Route 17 to Hancock, NY, then drove down Route 97.  Why?  Because the Upper Delaware River as it separates New York and Pennsylvania is a much prettier ride, and I was in no hurry.  The GPS kept wanting me to get back on Route 17 almost until I reached Port Jervis.

As another aside, there’s a little town further down Route 17 than where I left it called Fishs Eddy.  There’s also a store by that name in the Flatiron District of Manhattan, or at least there was a couple of years ago.  Obviously, it should be Fishes Eddy or Fish’s Eddy.  It’s not.  I don’t know why it’s not, but live with it.

I leave the GPS on when taking alternate routes because I’m a bit of a contrarian, and because I hope one day to goad the computerized voice of the GPS into screaming at me.

King v O’Donnell

For the past week of two, articles in the NY Post have been hinting at a feud between CBS Morning News co-hosts Gail King and Nora O’Donnell.  King just got a new contract, and a big raise.  The post implied that as part of King’s new contract, she insisted that O’Donnell be moved off the show.  Both King and O’Donnell denied that there’s a feud on this morning’s show.

Moreover, O’Donnell was announced as the new anchor of the CBS Evening News, and further, CBS is moving the show to Washington this summer at considerable expense and O’Donnell’s request.

I don’t know if there’s a feud or not, but if someone forced me off the show I was on, I’d like it to be the way O’Donnell left.  Being sole anchor of the CBS Evening News is a promotion from co-anchor of the Morning News.  And, if O’Donnell does manage to improve ratings (the show has fewer viewers than ABC or NBC), she will also be rewarded handsomely.

If the feud rumors are true, CBS essentially said, “We don’t like you, so here’s a big promotion and a golden opportunity.”  Nobody who doesn’t like me has ever been that nice to me.  Come to think of it, very few people who do like me have done anything close to as nice either.

Things I Know

I’m a bit behind, so I just watched the 4/28 episode of “Game of Thrones.”  Too bad I couldn’t see it too.  I read that it was too dark, so I watched it in a room with all the lights off.  Still too dark.

Joe Biden recently declared himself a candidate for the Democratic presidential nomination.  He was immediately declared the front runner.  I think Biden will have a tough time in primaries because primary voters tend to be more radical than people who vote in general elections.  Maybe I’ll become interested in the presidential election in October, next year.

I’ve recently made two observations about toddlers that don’t make any sense to me.  If you’re two-and-a-half feet tall, you apparently think the safest place to hide is behind mommy’s leg.  Similarly, people two-and-a-half feet tall never worry about being trampled.  Neither of these seems like a good survival strategy to me, but both appear to work pretty well.

I’ve just been informed that our son and daughter-in-law will be visiting in early December.  We’ll be happy to see them.  Do you think that this time we can finally get our son to ship all the stuff he has stored in our house to his house?

For a long time, I’ve dabbled in property tax assessment in a small municipality.  The job is very part-time, and I stepped down last month.  With all the jobs I’ve held and left, you’d think I would have at least one gold watch by now, but I don’t.  I wish I had been a famous network TV host.  Leaving those jobs seems to pay exceptionally well.

I’ve been doing physical therapy for my hips and lower back recently.  It has helped my hips greatly.  I wonder if my back is worse now, or if it just seems worse because the hips are so much better.

I went to the New York International Auto Show around Easter.  I usually do that.  I’ve been going since I was 12 and while I have missed some, there are people there who should know me by now.

I tried a Fiat 124 Spyder on for size.  I might be able to get into one, but I’d definitely need help (maybe even a hydraulic hoist) to get out of it.  I’m guessing that the Fiat Spyder is a medium, while I clearly need an extra large.

I still want to go to the Brooklyn Botanic Garden to photograph weeping cherry trees.  They bloom a little earlier than the rest of the cherry blossoms.  But it’s been a pretty nasty April around here, weather wise, so this year, I didn’t go at all.

When I was in college, I pursued an interest and pursued lower grades too, by being a disc jockey.  As the current Mega Millions jackpot nears $300,000,000, I’ve just come up with another silly thing to spend the money on in the very unlikely chance I win.  The trouble is that while it is silly, it isn’t terribly extravagant.  I’ll still jump on the bed if I win, but I’ll also get myself a personalized dj jingle.  Author Steven King bought a radio station near where he lives and had it play music he likes.  Maybe I’ll do that too.  Radio stations aren’t as expensive as they used to be.

A Small Holiday Public Service

If you were watching TV last night, and if you’re not an insomniac, I’d like to assure you that “The Ten Commandments” did end this morning. Moses got one of the girls, grew a weird beard, and led his people through the desert for 40 years, only to stop in the one place with no oil. That didn’t take 4 hours and 40 minutes, did it?

Things I Know

Published reports estimate that New York City’s upcoming congestion pricing will save about $50 million in carbon-related costs while raising $1 billion in revenue.  The period of time in which this will take place wasn’t specified.  Still, at that ratio, it’s pretty clear that congestion pricing in New York City is one of the biggest, if not the biggest tax increases in the history of New York State.

Some TV commercials for insurance are good and some are tolerable.  I like the long-running Geico gecko.  Farmers’ “We know a thing or two because we’ve seen a thing or two,” is good as well.  I think Flo from Progressive is okay, but don’t understand why she and Jamie are dressed as bakers.  I always enjoyed Marshall Efron on Public TV years ago, and believe he is the voice of the animated general in General Insurance spots.  But, I cringe every time the Liberty Mutual emu comes on screen and usually change the channel too.

I have this diet thing nailed.  I stopped eating between meals about two weeks ago.  So far, I’ve gained seven pounds.

Our commonly-misused word department hears from descendants.  Your ancestors aren’t your descendants:  you are theirs.

As I write this, the NY Mets have started their season 3-1.  If it gets to 11-1, I will be concerned.

Given the current health of the Yankees roster, if George were still alive, there wouldn’t be any more unsigned free agents.

There aren’t a lot of British shows on BBC America these days.

April Fool’s day always reminds me of my uncle.  He was a school-bus driver when I was in elementary school.  He always told the kids on the bus that if we were all good, he’d take us to the circus for his birthday.  We were good, but we never did get that free trip to the circus, because his birthday was April Fool’s Day.

Things I Know

Headline today on the NY Post’s website: “Man shot in broad daylight on Queens Subway.”  Uh. . . .  The subway is underground.  So it can’t be in daylight, broad or narrow.

Pi day 3-14, is an inconsequential day someone came up with to make people think about math. In observance of Pi day, 3-14, Someone who works for Google has set a new world record. My mind does work in mathematical ways. I have a terrible memory for names and for the sequence in which some things happened, but for some strange reason, even though I haven’t taken geometry since ninth grade, I still remember the value of Pi to five decimal places. What I had for breakfast this morning, not so much.

A man who announces he’s running for the Democratic nomination for President on a Wednesday in El Paso, TX, should probably consider getting a better PR consultant.

Actor Jussie Smollett, of the TV show “Empire” was indicted on 16 felony counts a while back for allegedly staging the widely reported racist, homophobic attack he claimed to have suffered in January, and then lying about it to police.  Some reports claim he staged the attack to stop from being written off his tv series.  Others say he was unhappy with his salary.  Defending himself against a 16-count felony indictment is expensive, even if he is acquitted.  This is why you should hire a PR professional, instead of drumming up press coverage yourself.

TV news people should stop saying we have an extra hour of daylight. We don’t. We’re just getting up before dawn now, so in the evening, it seems like the sun shines longer. In England, they don’t set the clocks ahead until the end of the month. At least by then I won’t be waking up before dawn anymore. Maybe we should go back to starting daylight saving time a little later in the year, the way we used to.

I’d like to move to Florida.  My wife wouldn’t.  She’s correct that I won’t move without her, so if we’re going to stay here, I should investigate replacing my tumble-down, 80-or-90-year-old garage.

Is Chivalry Dead?

Is chivalry dead in Nassau County, NY?  Maybe.  It does look like it.  I have no knowledge of the behind-the-scenes strategy of prosecutors in the federal corruption trial of former Nassau County, NY Executive Edward Mangano and his wife, Linda.

From the Long Island newspaper “Newsday” yesterday,

 “The panel found Edward Mangano, 56, guilty of conspiracy to commit federal program bribery, federal program bribery, conspiracy to commit honest services wire fraud, honest services wire fraud and conspiracy to obstruct justice.  Jurors found Linda Mangano, also 56, guilty of conspiracy to obstruct justice, obstruction of justice and two counts of lying to the FBI.”

Why do I say that chivalry appears to be deceased?  Well, when prosecutors indict a married couple, in most cases, they hope the one whose crimes appear most serious will cop a plea and as part of that plea deal charges will be dropped against the other.  More often than not, it’s a husband going to prison with the understanding that his wife will be spared jail time.  I have no knowledge of defense strategies in this case either.  Still, both Ed and Linda elected to go to trial.  Their first trial ended with a hung jury.  This week, they lost their gamble in a retrial.  Both vow to appeal. 

Most, of not all of the political fallout from this case has already occurred.  In November, 2017 Laura Curran, a Democrat, won her office running against the Republican candidate, former Mineola Mayor and State Senator Jack Martins.

Things I Know

Alex Trebek, Jeopardy Host and TV spokesman for life insurance has announced he has Stage 4 Pancreatic cancer.  Trebek is one of those people who’ve been on TV for so long it seems like everyone knows him.  He insists he’s battling it and plans to keep working.  Still, the prognosis for anyone with Pancreatic Cancer isn’t good.  I hope he makes it.

The laces on my hiking boots broke, so I bought new ones.  Laces for hiking boots are pretty expensive, aren’t they?  I didn’t know what length I needed, so I bought the kind that you can cut to length and then use heat-shrink tubing for aglets.  After it’s been shrunk, the aglets made this way aren’t hard enough, so I can’t recommend that solution.  Fortunately, I don’t remove the laces very often.  Also fortunately, I now know what size lace I need (54”).  I always say the older you get the more ridiculous prices become.  That certainly applies to laces for hiking boots.

As I write this, it’s 17 degrees in Punxsutawney, PA.  It’s also more than a month after Groundhog Day and this year the groundhog didn’t see its shadow.  Supposedly that means an early Spring.  Not so much.

If you’re a senior citizen and your doctor tells you that you can’t shovel snow because of your health, Medicare ought to cover 80% of the cost of hiring someone to do it for you.

Attention direct mail marketers.  If you make your mailings too thick to go through my shredder, I can open them, and then shred them without reading them.  It’ll only annoy me a little more.  Stop it and save yourself some postage.

Even in winter on Long Island, it occasionally gets above 50 degrees during the day, but not today of course.  The problem is that most days it gets that warm, it also rains a lot.

I’m a big guy and while I’m getting older, I still walk about 50% faster than most people.  My knees and feet won’t let me stop as fast as I once could though.  So, if I’m at the mall, and you’re at the mall too, please don’t stop short in front of me.  Based on the average size of human beings (which I exceed substantially), if I plow into you, chances are it’ll hurt you a lot more than it hurts me.

Things I Want (or Need) to Know


On New Year’s Day, I changed the date on the copyright notice my cameras attach to pictures I take.  Since I only do that once a year, it took me a few minutes to remember how.  It’s easier to do it here, so I might as well do it now, and on time this year.  The Sisyphus Project is copyright 2019, just as it has been copyright 2008-2018.  All rights reserved.

On January 2, the pro wrestling’s WWE announced that Mean Gene Okerlund, the TV voice of wrestling for generations of viewers had passed away at the age of 76.  I know wrestler Jesse Ventura is credited with dubbing Okerlund “Mean,” but I don’t recall ever actually seeing Okerlund be mean on TV.  Did you?

Did Santa bring you good stuff for Christmas?  I didn’t get another four-figure camera like in did in 2017, but I don’t need another one, and I probably couldn’t carry another one anyway.  Still, I was very happy with what I did get, including some red cable ties.  They keep cables for my computer, camera and phone wrapped compactly, and since they’re red, they make the cables easier to see in the depths of a box or a camera bag.

Is it ever good to break your ribs?  Well, 85-year-old Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg broke her ribs in a fall back in November.  Treatment for the broken ribs resulted in doctors discovering very early that she had lung cancer.  So, she got early treatment for that too.  Here’s wishing her a complete and speedy recovery.  Since she’s already survived pancreatic cancer, there’s probably a good chance she’s immortal.

Have you seen the cable TV house flipping show “Bargain Mansions?”  If you’re living in a house, it makes absolute sense to remodel in phases, but if you’re flipping a house, it only costs extra and takes longer to do it that way.  So, I wonder if the host, Tamara Day, is really flipping houses in phases or she’s saying that’s what she’s doing to get two shows out of each project.

Instead of comments on my blog, I get tons of spam purporting to be comments.  I can’t help wondering how much more spam I’d get if I published all of it as comments.

Why do people eat oyster crackers with clam chowder, and why aren’t there any clam crackers?  I reminded to ask because on Christmas Eve, the restaurant we ate at didn’t serve any crackers with the clam chowder.  It was good anyway.

Silent Night

I’m surprised there hasn’t been more publicity about the fact, but the carol, “Silent Night” was first performed in a church in Austria 200 years ago tonight. I collect Christmas music. At last count, I had 28 English-language versions of “Silent Night,” plus another handful in German. This unorthodox version by the Temptations is by far my favorite. If you like another one better, I’m okay with that. However, if you don’t think Melvin Franklin was one of the greatest bassmen ever, you’re wrong.

Christmas Long Ago

I was reminded this week of two Christmases long ago.  First, I thought of the girl I dated at 16.  I think of her every year as Christmas draws near because her birthday is one-week-to-the-day before Christmas.  If you’re sixteen, and not prone to thinking ahead (but I repeat myself), coming up with two presents for your girlfriend only one week apart is pretty tough, and something you’re not likely to forget.

Then, there’s the girl I dated when I was 15.  When I first became interested in girls, I dated two who lived near my aunt and uncle, more than 30 miles from my home.  For Christmas when I was 15, I was already at a loss for gift ideas.  It was so long ago that roses had just been invented and did not yet cost an arm and two legs, so I sent my lady friend a dozen red roses.  I guess she wasn’t expecting a gift from me.  When I went to see her, she picked up a very small package, did something that may have been removing a gift tag for someone else, and presented it to me.  It was a red ball-point Papermate pen.  I do not still have it, nor was it the first time I gave better than I got.  However, it’s not the gift, but the thought that counts, right?

I took my wife on two extended trips this year because I’m not very good at thinking up appropriate gifts.  That’s not a recent development.  I’ve never been good at thinking up appropriate gifts.  

Things I Know

Twenty-one-year-old Nazi sympathizer James Fields drove into a crowd, injuring 35 people and killing 32-year-old Heather Heyer, at a white nationalist rally in Charlottesville VA last August has been sentenced to life plus 419 years in prison.  It was a heinous crime, and I’m okay with burying him at the prison to ensure he serves that part of the sentence that takes effect after he dies.

Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez is a young radical, elected to Congress in November, replacing a long-time incumbent.  She worked very hard to get there, and probably benefitted from circumstances such as changing demographics and her predecessor, Rep. Joe Crowley, not taking the primary challenge seriously.   Still, she is a freshman member of Congress, so I’m surprised at all the news coverage she is getting.

My wife won’t give me any hints as to what to give her for Christmas.  I’ve already taken her on two expensive trips this year (to California and to London) in lieu of presents.  I’d like to take her to Hawaii for Christmas, but I can’t afford that.  I’ve always been taken by the lyrics to the Beach Boys Christmas song.  You know, “I want to spend Christmas on the Kona coast of Hawaii.”

When I was a sophomore in college, I was a dj on my college radio station, I read my letter to Santa to my listeners.  I said, “Dear Santa, all I want for Christmas is a doll.  Her name is Karen and she’s 18 years old.”  Santa must have been listening, and I must have been very good.  I got everything on my list!  She was already my girlfriend for about a year.  Not right away, but eventually we married.  If I wake up on Christmas morning, she’s still here, and still the love of my life, I’ll be completely satisfied.

I’m pleased that I managed to find the last day on which it was over 50 degrees in weeks to put up my Christmas lights.

Could You Tone It Down, Please?

I have a dear friend, a man I’ve known most of my life.  I was best man at his wedding.  He would have been best man at mine too, but he was in the military and Uncle Sam didn’t choose to make him available.

He’s not the only friend I have who posts lots and lots of anti-Donald Trump messages and memes on Facebook, but he does it more than anyone else I know, and he does it to the exclusion of almost anything else about his life.

Keeping in mind that I didn’t vote for President Trump either, I can’t help wondering what my friend thinks he’s accomplishing.  He started making these posts before Trump won the election.  He has between two and three-hundred friends on Facebook. 

I’m willing to wager real money that every single one of his Facebook friends is well aware of his opinion about Donald Trump.  God knows I am!  Whether we agree with him or not, I’m pretty sure he hasn’t changed any of those people’s minds.  But I’m pretty sure he has annoyed a lot of his friends, me included, by doing this.

I knew him when we were both sixteen.  At that time, I used to argue a lot with the girl I was dating.  We argued mostly about religion.   She didn’t convince me of anything, but I did convince her to find another boyfriend, so I won, right?  My friend knew very well how traumatic that breakup was for me.  As a result of that teen-aged heartbreak, I refuse to argue with anyone about any faith-based belief.  Religion and politics are at the top of the list of things I won’t argue about. 

I certainly won’t argue with him about this.  He’s entitled to his opinion.  The problem is I know his opinion, yet he has repeated it to me multiple times a day, every day for more than two years.  I would, as I’ve said, like to know what he thinks he’s accomplishing.  I also wish he’d post a few things about the rest of his life.  We live very far apart, so we don’t get to see each other, or to talk nearly as often as we’d prefer.

Finally, a New One!

First, I didn’t think of this until after sunset, but happy Hanukkah to my friends who celebrate and to my reader too, in case he or she celebrates.

Also, let me add my voice to those people remembering former President George H.W. Bush.  He’s the only US President I ever got to speak with, and it was long before he was President.  I interviewed him on TV when he was Chairman of the Republican National Committee.  As so many other people have said, he seemed like a decent man to me.

Did you miss me?  It’s been what?  Six weeks or so?  I didn’t miss me.  Where was I?  First, I took Saint Karen (she must be a saint to put up with me) to London to celebrate our wedding anniversary.  Then, we both got sick.  If you’ve known the same person as long as I have known Saint Karen, you may also run out of ideas for presents.  In lieu of presents, I’ve taken her on two trips this year, in the Spring to California, and in the Fall to London.

This was our second visit to London.  We liked it in 2014, so we went back.

Everybody knows in Britain they drive on the left side of the road.  But in the Thames, they float on the right side of the river.  I asked, and captains on British Airways flights sit on the left side of the plane too. 

Travel is exhausting.  Here are a few observations you may not get from a travel blog.

Recommend:  Basil’s sandwich shop on a side street in Tower Hill.  Saint Karen and I stopped there early in our stay to get sandwiches.  I went back a second time, about a week later, and by myself.  One of the guys behind the counter said hello and asked how my wife was.  Another of the countermen told me the first time I was there I had dropped a five-pound note.  He gave it back to me, so my second sandwich was paid for with found money.  Friendly honest people making good food.  Can’t ask for a lot more than that.

The national sport of England isn’t football.  It isn’t cricket either.  From my observation, it’s jay walking.

If cars drive on the right, pedestrians should walk on the right.  If cars drive on the left, pedestrians should walk on the left.  Why?  So if they’re walking close to the curb they can see on-coming traffic.  But in London, as in Manhattan, there is no general consensus as to whether pedestrians should keep right or left.

In both the USA and the UK, most hotels, and motels I’ve stayed in, the bathroom mirror is located  so a man must watch himself urinate.  This happens so often, I believe it must be deliberate, but I have no idea why.

One thing I hate about air travel is the guy who is blocking the aisle while taking a long time to arrange his things in the overhead, and the seat.  I encountered such a man on the flight over.  He kept urging me to move past him.  He is large, I am large, but the aisle is anything but.  So, I couldn’t get past him, but it didn’t make him speed up his process by even one second.

We bought London Passes.  They offer discounted admission over a limited time period to all sorts of tourist attractions.  They worked seamlessly, but I’m not sure we saved any money because we don’t have the stamina to see more than two or three attractions a day.  If you’re going to get a London Pass, pay attention to the directions on their website.  The office isn’t easy to find.

On our first trip to London, we stayed in Southwark (the W is silent), not near a tube station.  This time, we stayed north of the Thames, near a tube station.  That worked better, but still room for improvement.  If you can, either stay at a hotel where you can do your own laundry, or one that has a laundry nearby.  Our hotel offers “laundry service,” but washing and ironing one dress shirt costs more than $9.00!  I don’t know about where you live, but the place I take my shirts at home costs $2.00 if you can’t be bothered looking for a coupon.  I bought a bottle of laundry detergent.  It paid for itself after I’d washed two pair of socks.

I wish both St. Paul’s and Westminster Abbey allowed photography inside.  They’re both absolutely beautiful.  However, if Westminster is so Gothic, how come it doesn’t own a black t-shirt?

Have you ever seen something, and realized you wanted it both badly and immediately?  On Wednesday, outside St. Paul’s, I saw a restaurant with a sign in the window that said, “potage de poulet.”  For those of you who don’t remember three words of high-school French, it means chicken soup.  I ordered it, but they were out.  So, for the rest of the trip, I went around London looking, unsuccessfully, for down-home chicken soup.  When we got home, I had some, also a large soft drink with lots of ice.

There’s a decent barbecue restaurant on Tower Hill, so why not an American-style deli?  There are restaurants claiming to be American-style delis.  Their claim is dubious. 

We ate British food too.  I’m diabetic, so as much as I’d like too, I shouldn’t really eat a full British breakfast.  I like meat pies, but maybe because I’m not a drinker, I haven’t been impressed with the pubs I’ve found.  One, down the street from our hotel, advertises it serves breakfast until noon, which is fine, except it opens at 11:00 AM, so what’s the point? 

The hotel we’re staying in is nice.  It advertises as a business hotel.  A few things strike me as odd.  Two of them are probably building-regulation stuff.  There’s no electric outlet for the hair dryer in the bathroom.  They do have a deep, wonderful bathtub, but the faucet has such low flow that it takes 30 minutes to fill it up, so the water cools off some while you’re filling it.  A nice, hot soak is, therefore, out of the question.

Our room has a king-sized bed, which is great, and uncommon in British hotels.  As a business hotel, it could use a few more electrical outlets in each room (especially on both sides of the bed and at the desk.  Some USB ports would be nice too.  It could also use access to better cell phone signals.

We had a good time, but three days before we planned to go home, we both came down with a nasty bug.  We’ve coughed so much we kept each waking each other up.  When we arrived back in the good old USA, and caught our ride home, we dropped our bags in the living room, got in our own car and headed for one of those urgent care clinics.  We thought we had the flu.  How silly of us.  We both had pneumonia!  We’re fine now.

That was the only vacation we’ve ever been on where both of us were sick at the same time.  I don’t recommend it.  Still, we had a nice time in London and I expect we’ll travel again in 2019. 

Things I Want (or Need) to Know

The Saudi government Friday gave its version of what happened to Jamal Khashoggi at the Saudi consulate in Turkey almost three weeks ago now.  Did you hear it?  Did you believe it?  For me, that’s a yes and a no.  In that order. 

Did you see Kanye West at the White House?  I saw the video.  I can act as unhinged as anyone.  When do I get my private audience with the President?

Election day is barely more than two weeks away.  Most candidates pledge to work to lower taxes.  I vote for candidates who pledge to lower taxes.  So, how come my taxes never go down?

There’s a series of commercials for RXBAR on TV, featuring rapper Ice-T.  They are memorable commercials, but did you notice what the spots were selling?  I had to Google them to find out.

Lost and Found

My wife and I have a symbiotic relationship which has two major components:  she’s adorable, and I adore her; I lose things, and she finds them.  Except sometimes in the lost and found department, neither of us finds what I’ve lost, and rarely, I find it.  I don’t find it because she asked me where I had it last.  She does that frequently.  It’s one of the few things about her that annoys me, because if I knew where I last had my lost object, it wouldn’t be lost.  Would it?

I used to have an old bookshelf stereo system.  For the last few years,  it languished in my garage, getting dirty.  I dragged it out and wiped it off for college reunions.  We set it up in the lobby of the dorm our class stayed in, and I used it to play music popular during the time we were in college.  I was a deejay, both on radio and in a local disco, in my college days, and have enough songs from that time to play them for the whole three-day weekend without ever repeating one.

Our most recent reunion was in June of last year.  I brought the stereo, and the music, as I always do.  But the stereo was broken.  The volume control no longer worked consistently.  The unit had a remote control too.  Would that work reliably to set the volume?  I couldn’t know, because I couldn’t find the control. 

At the end of the reunion, rather than lugging it home, I gave the old stereo to the current students who had helped herd we old, cranky alumni around.  Not too generous of me because as I said the unit was old, I never used it, and it was broken.  Some students, especially at a university with an engineering school, are capable of fixing what was wrong with it, so they were happy to have it.

Why do I bring this up now?  I found the remote yesterday.

Things I Want (or Need) to Know

My bank charges a significant premium on the exchange rate when I purchase foreign currency from it.  If I charge a purchase in a foreign currency, my credit card company adds a much smaller amount to the exchange rate when  converting that purchase to US dollars.  But the credit card company and the bank are the same company.  Why do you suppose they do that?

I have an even number of feet, and an odd number of socks.  How did that happen?

When you fly British Airways, does the captain sit in the right-hand seat in the cockpit?

Why does the outside of a toilet get so dirty?  Nobody I know tries to dirty the outside of one.

Why is it that when I sneeze, I almost always sneeze three times in a row?

Have you had your flu shot yet?  I got mine yesterday and you really should.  Two years ago, my wife and daughter had public-facing jobs.  I don’t.  I got a flu shot.  They didn’t.  They got sick for a week or so.  They gave it to me too, but I got sick for only two days. 


Here’s the problem with many, if not most accusations of sexual assault.  Especially when the accusation surfaces years later, there is little or no proof available, and little or no defense possible.  I’m inclined to believe almost all the women who make these accusations, if for no other reason than they are usually put through hell, especially if they accuse a prominent public figure.  There are, however, some occasions where I lean toward believing the person accused, especially if I have known that person for a long time.

One case that has nothing to do with politics is the family doctor we saw for many years.  He was a man who delivered both of our children, and the first to suspect that there might be something wrong with our daughter’s heart.  One day, out of the blue, a drug-addicted woman charged that this doctor had sexually abused her.  He said, in his defense, that he had refused to provide her with prescriptions for the pills she wanted to fuel her addiction.  He claimed she made the accusation against him for vengeance.

That sounds reasonable, doesn’t it?  At first, we believed the doctor, until other women came forward and he was charged with several crimes.

Now to the political elephant in the room, Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh.  First, Christine Blasey Ford came forward and claimed that Kavanaugh assaulted her when both were in high school.  Although Professor Ford has called for an FBI investigation, I remain doubtful that this accusation can be proved.  It’s possible it happened.  History also tells us that many women don’t come forward for many years after such an event.  The fact that she called for the FBI is in her favor.  I’m sure she knows that telling lies to the FBI is a felony, whether you’re under oath and whether you’re being investigated for a crime.

It’s also possible that someone who is politically motivated to the extreme might come up with a story like that to derail Kavanaugh’s nomination or at least to postpone Senate approval until after the mid-term elections, which are now fewer than six weeks away.  The idea behind such a strategy is that perhaps the Democrats will take control of the Senate, and therefore have the votes to keep Kavanaugh from being seated on the nation’s highest court.  I’m not saying Professor Ford did that.  I’m saying lawyers could advance that theory as at least creating reasonable doubt.

But, now, two other women, Deborah Ramirez and Julie Swetnick, have come forward leveling accusations against the nominee.  At least one of them is also calling for the FBI to investigate.  If you’re not impressed with that call, go two paragraphs up, and reread it.  I also saw this morning that Brett Kavanaugh’s lawyer now says Kavanaugh, who still denies all the accusations, may have met Professor Ford at some point in their distant past.

I can’t quote you the number required, but clearly, the more women who come forward, the more troubling and the more likely the accusations of sexual misconduct are to be true.

To all the people who say the accusations can’t be proven beyond a reasonable doubt, at this point at least, that’s true.  However, this isn’t a criminal trial that requires the unanimous vote of 12 jurors.  It’s a Presidential appointment pending before the U.S. Senate.  That requires 51 out of 100 votes.  Moreover, all of those votes can be based on opinion, or on something unrelated to these accusations. 

What disturbs me is how many people are taking one side or the other based on whether they believe Kavanaugh will rule on cases before the court in a way that agrees with their political beliefs, not on whether he did what he’s accused of.  The Senate Judiciary Committee is scheduled to hear from Doctor Ford Thursday morning.  I hope everyone on the committee listens to and considers testimony from both sides.

Things I Know

Did you watch Aretha Franklin’s funeral on TV?  Emotional, wasn’t it?  She was a world-renowned musician.  Many of the people on the dais were too.  So, what struck me about the event was how bad the sound was.  It cut out often.  There was a 60-cycle hum throughout.  That means the sound equipment wasn’t properly grounded.  Whoever operated the sound board didn’t always shut off mics that weren’t in use, so extraneous noise was included in the audio feed.  And, worst of all, the main mic on the podium made noise when anyone touched it.

It’s been possible for decades to make a mic that doesn’t do that.  Just look at an EV 635A.  I used one of those almost 50 years ago, and Electro-voice still makes them.  It’s designed for speech, not singing, so I don’t suggest they should have used one, but there must be a better mic for the purpose than whatever it was they did use.

As for the content of the program, I think it could have used fewer speeches and more Shirley Ceasar.

As an Optimum cable subscriber, I’m a week away from losing my access to, the website of Long Island’s major newspaper.  So, I checked into what’s necessary to get free access until the end of the year. I may do it, but I’m not happy about it. First, I must give them my credit card info to get it for free. I’m sure that’s so if I forget to cancel by New Year’s Eve, they’ll charge me rather than turning it off. Second, and I’m going to call Newsday about this, it looks as if after the free trial, my wife and I will have to pay separately for access to the website. Either that, or both of us share the one sign in. If we do the second, can we view it on two devices at the same time? And third, just for web access, it costs more than the NY Times! I don’t know if it’s going to go over like a lead balloon, but it doesn’t look to me as if it’ll take off like a helium-filled balloon either.

Speaking of the NY Times, the anonymous op-ed piece about resistance to the President inside his administration astounded me.  I think it’s extremely likely that the identity of whoever wrote it will be found by the FBI, the NSA, the Secret Service, or some federal agency in short order. 

I don’t think it’s possible (and it would certainly undermine democracy) to remove President Trump from office under the 25th Amendment.  If the Vice President and the Cabinet, or the Vice President and Congress tried to remove him that way, he could assert that he is fit to continue.  If anyone attacks Donald Trump, he does fight back.  That we know.  So, he would claim he is able to continue.  Then, it would take a two-thirds vote of both houses to remove him.  I don’t see that happening.

President Trump said on Twitter a few weeks ago that making basketball star LeBron James look smart isn’t easy.  I disagree.  If I had the choice of spending four years in college or beginning immediately to amass what is now a nine-figure fortune, I’d probably do exactly what Mr. James did.  It sounds like a smart decision to me.  Plus, whenever I’ve heard him on TV he sounded intelligent.  Moreover, he certainly deserves credit for all the charitable work he’s done, including starting a new school in his hometown of Akron Ohio this year.

Things I Know

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Things I Know

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

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

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

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

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

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

Things I Want (or Need) to Know

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

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

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

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

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

Things I Know

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

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

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

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

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

Hints for Redditors

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

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

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

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

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

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

Don’t promise me something is relevant.

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

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

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

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

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

Things I Know

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

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

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

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

Let’s Get Ready to Stumble

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

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

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

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

Things I Know

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


Parkland 3

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

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

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

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

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

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

Parkland 2

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

Things I Know

A couple of lessons learned. 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Blessings Counted

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

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

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

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

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

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

Things I Know

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

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

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

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

Things I Know

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Examining That Horse’s Mouth

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Things I Want (or Need) to Know

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

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

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

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

Things I Know

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

Things I Want (Or Need) to Know

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

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

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

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

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

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

Things I Know

Lesson learned: 

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

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

Rotten racoon doesn’t smell very good.

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

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

Things I Know

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

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

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

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

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

Things I Know

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

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

Things I Know

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

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

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

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

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

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

The Proposed Laptop Ban

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

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

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

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

Things I Know

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

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

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

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

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

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

Things I Want (or Need) to Know

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Things I Know

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

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

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

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

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

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

Too Much Is Too Much

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

Time to Leave

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Things I Know

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

I’m sure Staples, the office supply store, knows what items make the most profit per square foot of retail space.  Still, it seems odd to me that there are dozens of office chairs in every Staples store I visit, but no desks.  I’d rather not buy a desk on line because I can’t tell how sturdy it is and if I find parts broken as I try to assemble it, repacking it to return to an on-line seller is a huge pain. is a website that contains words people have made up over its years in existence.  You must spell out the word, provide a definition, and use it in a sentence, just like vocabulary homework in high school.  I discovered the website recently and contributed three words I’ve made up, and used in this blog.  I used my real name in submitting these words, so if you can figure out which words, you can unmask me.

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

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

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

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

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

Pathologically Punctual

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

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

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

Things I Know

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

Things I Know

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

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

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

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

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

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

Oscar Night in America

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

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

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

Things I Want (or Need) to Know

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Things I Know

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Post Game Analysis

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

Ground Hog’s Day in Punxsutawney

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

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

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

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

Things I Know

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

#My President, #Yours too

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

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

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

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

Things I Know

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Things I Know

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Cookies are for Christmas


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

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

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

Revenge is sweet; so are cookies.

Things I Want (or Need) to Know

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Things I Want (or Need) to Know

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

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

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

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

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

Why is the second “C” in Connecticut silent?

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

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

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

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

Things I Know

Today is Thanksgiving for every turkey that survived yesterday.

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

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

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

Things I Know

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

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

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

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

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

Irrelevant Popular Vote

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Election 2016

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

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

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

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

Things I Know

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Things I Know

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

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

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

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

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

World Series

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

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


Things I Know

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

More on our travels next time.

Facebook Friends

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

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

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

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

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

Things I Know

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Things I Want (or Need) to Know

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Are UPS trucks even capable of parking legally?

Things I Know

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

GOP Convention Short Takes

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

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

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

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

Things I Know

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

Stepping Over the Line

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

“Canon 5: A Judge Should Refrain from Political Activity

(A) General Prohibitions. A judge should not:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Old Cars

'60 Edsel Ranger L

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

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

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

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

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

Things I Know

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

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

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

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

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

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

66 SS 4 Sale 2

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

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

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


Somebody at New York’s DMV Needs to Think

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

Civil War Graves

Things I Know

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Things I Want (or Need) to Know

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

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

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

Why don’t babies have freckles?

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

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

Things I Know

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

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

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

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

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

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

Things I Know

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

Things I Know

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Things I Want (Or Need) to Know

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

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

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

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

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

Things I Know

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

First Crocus

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

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

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

Things I Know

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Things I Want (or Need) to Know

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

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

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

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

Things I Know

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

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

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

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

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

Leap Year

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

Things I Know

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Things I Want (Or Need) to Know

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

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

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

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

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

Things I Know

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

Christmas 2015

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

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

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

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

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

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

Thank God for New York

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

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

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

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

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

Things I Know

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

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

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

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

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

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

Things I Know

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Things I Know

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Things I Want (or Need) to Know

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

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

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

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

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

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

Daily News

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

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

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

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

Things I Know

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

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

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

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

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

Things I Want (Or Need) to Know

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Things I Know

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

I’m Back

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

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

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

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 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, “Thou 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’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.


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. 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’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, 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 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, 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. 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 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.


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. 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 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 male 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 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 their 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 lane. 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