Thursday, December 26, 2013

Mel Brooks and Werner Von Braun

     Mel Brooks, creative comic genius and Werner Von Braun, Hitler's creative rocket scientist have nothing in common, right? Wrong.

     When WWII ended, Von Braun's team was brought to the United States before the Russians could grab them and he, and his team, in large part were responsible for America's space program.

     Mel Brooks, writer and producer, of The Producers - and, the play within the play was created by an insane character who wrote a musical in praise of the Nazis.  During the course of the play within the play "Springtime for Hitler" a character announces that Hitler was a better dancer than Churchill.

     Now, fast forward to us on the beach in Waikiki, in front of the Outrigger Waikiki, and our interviewing the beach boys for our travel article.  They told us of all the famous people that they taught to surf with no problem.  They even looked at us and said that we could do it too.  Then they started to laugh.  We asked why.  They did not answer.  We prodded, did you ever have trouble teaching anyone how to surf; and then they laughed and admitted yes.  We asked who, and they blurted out -Werner Von Braun.  He wanted to understand the physics of surfing and we could not explain that to his satisfaction and finally, he agreed to try when we convinced him that he would surf without the explanation.  And he did.  The surfer said that Von Braun was on a surf board in the middle and we beach boys were on both sides of him, and held his hands with his arms out stretched, and guided him in on a wave.  He loved it!

     If only Mel Brooks had known this story.

Monday, December 23, 2013

Peyton Manning and Aunt Betty

     They never met.  Aunt Betty died quite a few years ago, but her eclectic interests would have included Peyton Manning and his "sportsman of the year" award.  And their life paths, believe it or not, overcame similar obstacles.

     Many years ago, when open heart surgery became the last refuge of very sick patients, Aunt Betty underwent the procedure which included removing a rib.  She was one of 14 people operated on that day and one of the three who survived.

     Before the surgery, Aunt Betty was a paralegal although no one used that term then.  She worked diligently, carefully, and conscientiously for 20 years for a lawyer who relied on and depended on her even though she was grossly overworked and underpaid.

     While Aunt Betty was recovering from her open heart surgery in her hospital room, the lawyer walked in, saw her, told her that she would never again be of any use and fired her on the spot.

     Sounds like what the Colts did to Peyton Manning, doesn't it?  After his neck and spine surgery and year of hard work and rehab, the Colts let him go; feeling that he too would be useless.  And now, hired by the Denver Broncos, he performs like a new and rejuvenated football player.  He just set the record for the most touchdown passes in a season (beating Dan Marino's 20-year record of 50).

     Meanwhile, back to Aunt Betty.  She recovered, got out of the hospital, and found employment with another lawyer who treated her with the respect and dignity that she deserved.  And more money too.

     If there is a moral to these stories, it is "don't let the bastards wear you down."

Thursday, December 19, 2013

Fix the lights

     The new lights that decorate Bala Avenue are not working, again.  These are the very lights that Lower Merion township taxpayers paid for.  According to information that we received, taxpayer dollars do not fund the City Avenue Special Services District personnel; however, our taxpayer dollars do pay for the infrastructure "improvements."

     Miller Brothers electric tore up the street, caused my kitchen wall to crack, took out the old lamps (that worked), and put in these new ones that are not reliable.  According to emails, it's not clear where the problem is, who's responsible, and how the problems can be fixed before the township assumes responsibility for the maintenance of the lights.

     It's important that Bala Avenue be well lighted.  Of course, I don't really have to write this because we all know that well lighted streets and street corners are a great deterrent for crime.  Remember during the summer when there were muggings on Bala Avenue?  And the darkness of the street was implicated?

     Any crime that happens cannot be blamed on the victims if the lights don't work.

   

Sunday, December 8, 2013

Football Memories

     I am always amazed that when I say something relevant or interesting about sports, I garner a lot of attention.  For instance, on Thursday, when I was shopping at a grocery store, prior to the onrush of pre-snow storm mobs, I said to my cashier (a capable young man) that I thought it would be fun to see Megatron run around and slip and slide on an icy field.  For those of you who don't know, Megatron is the nickname of the Detroit Lion's great pass catcher Calvin Johnson.  My cashier called over a friend of his and pointed to me, a gray-haired (and old) woman shopper and said with glee, "she knows Megatron."  We then launched into a discussion of the merits and faults of the Eagles and other NFL teams.  There was no winner of this debate because my order was packed and in my cart and the next person in line was already being checked out.

     On many of our 35 trips to Hawaii, we were in Honolulu at the time of the Pro Bowl.  The excitement generated by this game was palpable.  We always bought a Pro Bowl shirt and, when we walked around the streets of Waikiki, we wore either our Pro Bowl jerseys or our Philadelphia Eagles shirts.  One day, a young man came running up to us and said breathlessly, "I'm going to bet on the Pro Bowl.  Who should I pick?"  Unhesitatingly, I answered, "take the points and the over."  We saw him the next day and he thanked us.  He said that he "cleaned up."  And no, he didn't offer and we didn't ask him to share.

     Also at one of the Pro Bowls, was a cheerleader from the San Francisco Forty Niners.  We met her at the Pro Bowl luncheon and, since almost everyone who was there, except me, was male, she sat down next to me at the table.  Edgar didn't mind.  He was on the other side of me.  It turns out, she was a graduate of the Naval Academy in Annapolis, went to Pensacola, FL for training, and became a top gun.  Better than the male students who came from all over the world.  I asked her what she was flying then, and she said a P-3.  That's the plane with the radar umbrella over it.  I whispered "you're a spy," and she said, "ssshhh."

     And to finish with just one more, we interviewed Tom Brookshire of Philadelphia Eagles and CBS football announcing fame.  But, the story I want to tell you was the one his wife Barbara told us about a Thanksgiving dinner.  (He and Pat Summerall announced 8 Super Bowls.)  She told us that the family was waiting for Tom to come home from announcing a Thanksgiving game, the table was set, and the cooked and beautiful turkey was in the center of the table.  Tom walked in the door, saw that the dog was on the table and ready to dive into the turkey and "he made the best tackle of his life."

   

Sunday, November 3, 2013

The Consul General of Israel spoke at Main Line Reform Temple

  The Consul General of Israel to the Mid-Atlantic Region, Mr. Yaron Sideman spoke to about 100 interested people at Main Line Reform Temple in Wynnewood, on Sunday morning, November 3rd.  He delivered his opinions on Middle East problems, including Syria and Iran, in a straight forward, no holds barred, optimistic  manner.  Problems exist, he said, but each problem presents an opportunity.  "There are historic changes in the Middle East and an era of instability and uncertainty."  As examples, he cited the ousting of the old orders in Syria, Egypt, and Libya.  "The old orders have been thrown out and replaced with new orders that are not known or established."  The civil unrest that may or may not exist in the countries is unknown and may or may not change the dynamics of the country.

     Mr. Sideman warned not to "confuse the internal struggles with western style values and democracies that will probably not take root soon" in the conflicted countries.  Many times, he stressed that this is an evolution, not a revolution.  In the past, in order to know what was happening in Egypt, all one had to do was examine Mubarak's statements and actions.  That is no longer possible.  In Syria, there is a "breakdown to tribal and ethnic leaders and Assad is the current war lord."

     Tensions in the Middle East have existed forever, but now the tug of war for dominance is between Sunni's and Shiites.

     The Israeli/Palestinian conflict has been shattered as the cause of Middle East turmoil.  "The 18,000 centrifuges in Iran are not related to  that conflict."  The nuclear Iranian threat to destroy Israel  has morphed into a terrorist threat to harm the whole world and disrupt maritime commerce in the Eastern Mediterranean.  "The soccer stadiums in Iran are filled with people who go to see the public hangings."  A military nuclear Iran will open nuclear competition throughout the world and the weapons do not have to be air born; they can be shipped on the oceans and sea worldwide."

     Mr. Sideman stressed the importance of "sitting it out and preparing for tough compromises."  Of course, he acknowledged that many of the compromises would be covert and there are no clear cut differences between "friends" and "enemies."  Instead, he used the term "frienemies."

     It appears that severe sanctions on Iran, with its military nuclear capability, may be working to tone down the radical regimes's ambitions to annihilate the "Great Satan," the US, and Mr. Sideman urged the US to keep up the international pressure.

     Mr. Sideman is a graduate of the Israel National Defense College. He served in his most recent position at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs as Director of Congressional Affairs at the North America Division, where he was responsible for supervising and directing Israel's relations to the U.S Congress. Prior to those posts, Mr. Sideman served as Head of the North American desk at the Diaspora and Interreligious Affairs Bureau where he was, among other responsibilities, a liaison of the Foreign Ministry to many American Jewish organizations. Mr. Sideman holds a Master's Degree in Political Science from Haifa University and a B.A. Degree in Psychology and Philosophy from Tel Aviv University.

Saturday, November 2, 2013

Defund City Avenue Special Services District


Money wasted - City Avenue Special Services District

     We taxpayers were sold a "bill of goods" when Joe Manko, Lita Cohen, and others raved about the City Avenue Special Services District and how it would, among other things, cut down crime and beautify our neighborhoods.
     Cut down crime?!  All one has to do is read the notices from the police and the township and one does not need to be brilliant to detect the panic in their voices.  Crime against homeowners and car owners is increasing.  Read the statistics.  And, even worse, the law enforcers are blaming the victims.  Warnings are issued to lock your doors and windows in your houses, and lock your doors and windows in your garages, and lock your doors and windows in your cars.  It has become the victims' fault.

     LM commissioners should decide, immediately, to defund the City Avenue Special Services District, and spend the money where it can be used to much better advantage - hire more police!!!

     I'm sure you have seen the City Avenue Special Services District bicycle riders in their red jackets and helmets on the streets.  On occasion, I have asked them what they do.  Their answers - we check in on the businesses (there is a sign in sheet in all the stores) and give people directions.  What a waste!!!

     Now, let's talk about beautification - hahahaha.  We had perfectly good street lights that worked.  Now we have different lights that don't work - at least some of them don't work.  And, to get those lights, Miller Brothers electric received the contract to dig up the streets, and put in the new lights.  In the process, they caused so much vibration to our house, that they caused a crack in our kitchen.  George Manos and big shots from Miller brothers were in our house and felt the vibrations and saw the damage and they did nothing.  The cost of repairing the damaged wall fell to us.  And, of course, we fixed it.  Even our insurance company said that in the state of Pennsylvania, our insurance does not cover us for damage caused by a contractor hired by a municipality.

     And, one more thing, the light in front of our house is out.  And has been out.  And has not been fixed yet.

Thursday, October 3, 2013

My metallic jackets

     It must have been 25 years ago.  We went to New York at Christmastime to see the decorations and walk around with the crowds of similar sight seers.  I wore my metallic gold bomber jacket.  Our two daughters walked with us, actually they stayed about 20 yards behind us, and Edgar continued to hold my hand.  They looked and even told us that they would have been mortified if anyone saw them and connected them to me in my gold metallic bomber jacket.  I was not the least bit offended.

     Then, we actually went into some stores - Macy's, Saks, and Bloomingdales.  It was in Bloomingdales that the miracle occurred.  We were walking through the jewelry department, Edgar and I, followed by strangers and eventually by our daughters.  A young man rushed up to me and said, "excuse me.  I have to ask you.  I'm a buyer for Bloomingdales and I have been trying to find a gold metallic bomber jacket just like you are wearing.  Where did you get it?"

     "Oh, thank you so much," I said, "for asking.  We got it in Atlantic City."

     His face dropped and the happiness left his voice.  "In one of the casinos?"

     I nodded yes.  He thanked me and left.

     Our daughters edged a little closer to us and after we repeated the conversation, they decided it would be OK to walk with us.  Maybe, even with a little pride and happiness.

     Of course, the jacket wore out and just this week, I found, ordered, and had delivered a metallic puffy jacket from Lands End that I intend to wear this winter.  When you see me in my new jacket, you will know the happiness that it brings me and the great memories of the Bloomingdales buyer.

Wednesday, August 14, 2013

Pressure Cookers and Me

     I grew up during WWII when the use of pressure cookers was touted as being patriotic and energy saving.  I don't remember if my mother ever used one but, I do remember a story told by my Aunt Rose.

     The story took place in Atlantic City and went as follows.

     A family was making stuffed cabbage in the pressure cooker.  This was not their first experience with the pressure cooker and had had no previous bad experiences.  But this time, the pressure cooker exploded and there was stuffed cabbage all over the kitchen - on the ceiling, the walls, the floor, and all the appliances.  Lucky they weren't burned or worse.

     OK - now fast forward about 20 years and Edgar and I got engaged.  My future mother in law said she wanted to get us a pressure cooker.  I told her that I was frightened of pressure cookers and related the Atlantic City pressure cooker story.  She burst out laughing.  "That was me," she said.

     I'll add a post-script.  She insisted on giving us a pressure cooker and it still rests, unused, in my basement.  Edgar adds that his mother was thrilled with the pressure cooker and made string beans and corn every night.

Wednesday, July 24, 2013

Georges Perrier and Us by Edgar

     Today's N Y Times (7/24/13) has an interview with Georges Perrier and it reminded us of our associations with this famous chef.  http://www.nytimes.com/2013/07/24/dining/for-3-nights-le-bec-fin-lives-again.html?_r=0

     We were in Hawaii during French week one year and interviewed Georges Perrier on Waikiki beach.  He had been invited by the Hilton Hawaiian Village as the best chef for the week.

     He told us that the second he stepped off the plane at the Honolulu International Airport, he felt totally relaxed.  We later found out, through one of his escorts (guides) that he scolded her for being late to take him to an early morning TV interview and asked, in his inimitable way, as he pointed to his wrist, "do I have to buy you a watch?"

     He invited us to dine with him at the Brasserie when we all returned home - and to set up an appointment for sometime after Thanksgiving, as his guests.  The lunch was a treat.  Georges Perrier sat with us and suggested the menu.  During the course of conversation, he told us that the French prized saffron.  After the meal, he took us into the kitchen and permitted us to take as many photos as we wanted.  When he opened the door, he announced in a loud voice, "the chef is here."

     A few days later, a box of gourmet chocolates were delivered to our door.

     We were glad to read, in the N Y Times article, that Georges Perrier is still planning for the future.  "I'm not done yet.  I'm only 69."  And the article mentions his new project, "a bistro."

Monday, July 22, 2013

Still Tilting at Windmills

    Paid our outrageously expensive Lower Merion school real estate tax bill today at the Treasurer's office (Samuel Adenbaum, elected official) on the second floor in the Lower Merion Township administration building.

     The back of the bill has a printed notice that it can be paid at 3 different Beneficial branch offices.  I asked how much the township pays the bank to handle these transactions.  After a great deal of hemming and hawing and walking around by the clerks in the Treasurer's office, I was told that the treasurer's business with the bank "is proprietary" and not available for public knowledge.

     What?  What is the secret?  Why is there stonewalling?  The treasurer is elected by us, and paid by our taxes.

     The disbursement of tax payer dollars should never be secret.


Sunday, July 21, 2013

Nuch Besser

     Edgar's grandmother would make this comment when a so-called improvement wasn't.  And that's where I am now.

     The ridiculous waste of taxpayer money, called the City Avenue Special Services District, decided that Bala Avenue needed new lighting.  And they hired Miller Brothers Electrical to take care of the project.  Even thought I ran outside and screamed at the workers that they were breaking our house, I was not able to stop them in time, and they caused cracks in our kitchen walls.  And, our homeowners insurance did not cover it (according to our AllState agent) because of some peculiarity in Pennsylvania insurance laws.

      Next, Aqua decided to replace the water mains.  I guess this is a good thing to prevent leaks and breakage; however, we were without water for two days and, the big trucks and large equipment that Utility Line Services used broke the curb away from the verge.  It's not fixed and in spite of all the photos they took, to compare with their "before the job" video - we have still not heard.
 
     So, as I stated in the beginning, the so-called improvements left us not improved.  And, as Edgar's grandmother would say, "they made everything nuch besser."

AARP - 10 Questions to ask when you're in the hospital

     Their 10 questions are good - but not sufficient.  i would offer the following suggestions to go along with the questions.

     First, every patient who enters the hospital should have an advocate, preferably a family member, to check on everything that is being done.

     Second, the patient or his advocate, needs a notebook and pen to keep track of:  date, time, name of person, and what is being done.

     Third, keep written track of every dose of medicine that is administered, including time, strength, who ordered it, and why.

     Fourth - patient of patient advocate needs to remind whoever enters the room of all allergies.  Just saying (or thinking) that it's on the chart is not good enough.

     Ten questions from the AARP:  1) Why is this being done?
                                                    2) What are the results of my tests?
                                                    3) Have you washed your hands?
                                                    4) Who will be taking care of me?
                                                    5) When will my tubes be removed?
                                                    6) What are the medications I'm taking?
                                                    7) Who is performing my operation?
                                                    8) Are there any support services for patients?
                                                    9) Could you explain that again?
                                                  10) When can I go home?    

Sunday, June 30, 2013

13-1/2 hours by plane, from Madison, WI to Philadelphia - we could have been in Hawaii

     Please don't misunderstand by the title.  We visited some of our wonderful family in Wisconsin, were treated royally, and had a simply marvelous time.  Children and grandchildren looked and acted wonderfully and we would not have given up this fabulous week for anything.  We were active and passive participants in water-skiing, tubing, karate lessons, photo portraits, dining out, and boat rides.  Even the dog and cat seemed to love our visit too.  And the weather was wonderful and conducive to father's day bonding between father (gramps) and son.

     Now for the terror.  We're old.  We always request and receive wheel chairs when we fly.  And the airlines and airports are accommodating - except for the Madison airport which has only one wheel chair pusher on duty at a time.  So, our Wisconsin family arranged for a limo for us both to and from the Chicago airport.  So far, so good.  We arrived at O'Hare in plenty of time for the 3:00 boarding of our 3:30 flight to Philadelphia and joined the waiting throng in the gate-area waiting space.  At precisely 3:00, American Airlines announced that the 3:30 plane to Philadelphia has been canceled and, furthermore, there were no more seats available on any American Airlines flights to Philly that day (or night).  We did not have to worry about checked luggage because we always take only carry-ons.

      We did not join the long line of people at the counter who were clamoring for seats.  Instead, we called the 800 number for American Airlines, waited on hold for 22 minutes (the time is shown on the cell phone) and spoke to a caring and capable agent who apologized profusely.  Then I asked for seats on another airline and she again disappeared from the phone but came back with tickets on a Delta flight and recited the computer-look up numbers.  Our problems were almost solved.  We just needed two more wheel chair pushers to take us on a tour of O'Hare Airport from the American Airlines space to the Delta Airlines space - about a half a mile.

     At Delta, the agent was very helpful and puzzled.  She said that she did not know why American gave us tickets on this flight to Philadelphia because there were no seats.  But, we must have looked very pathetic because she relented, and gave us "bulkhead" seats on the flight that did not go nonstop to Philly but, first to Memphis.  We had our boarding passes and relaxed.  Then, we called our friend who was picking us up and told her about the new plans and she was able to follow the progression of our flights.  Instead of arriving in Philly at 6:30, we did not arrive until after 10:30 - probably closer to midnight, but by that time, I was too tired to check.  And now, sounding like a bad infomercial, "but wait, there's more."

      In Memphis, the flight attendant was much more officious than any we had run into previously.  She denied us the seats in "bulkhead" but moved us up one row and encouraged those passengers to sit in the bulkhead seats.  As a side, the gate for the Memphis to Philly departure was right next to the gate for the Chicago to Memphis arrival.  A break for our wheel chair pushers.

      We arrived in Philadelphia, and were told that the jetbridge was not available and we would have to walk down the "stairs" and cross the tarmac.  Another, "but wait, there's more."  To call them stairs is inaccurate.  They are more like a ladder - and difficult for us "old guys" to use.  When Edgar was asked if he could negotiate the stairs, he said "I'm not going to live out my life on this plane," and with help from several employees, he came down the ladder backwards.  "But wait, there's still more."   One cannot go directly from the tarmac to the street.  Oh no.  One has to go through the bowels of the airport - around utility stations, supplies, storage areas, and dark places that had no signs.  Fortunately, the people who pushed our wheelchairs knew what they were doing and we arrived on the sidewalk and at our friend's car.  What a welcome sight!

     We left Madison, WI at about 11:00 AM and arrived at our house after midnight.  More than 13 hours.  And, as I said in the beginning, we could have been in Hawaii.  We never received any notice as to why the Chicago flight to Philadelphia was canceled.  I am very skeptical that we will ever fly on American Airlines again.  And that's a shame.  Because, for years, we relied on them as our go to Airline.

Tuesday, June 25, 2013

Our water is shut off AGAIN!

      I can understand when Aqua wants to replace old water mains with new ones.  And, I can understand that our water has to be shut off while the work is being done.  And, furthermore, I can understand that 9 to 3 is just a guestimate as to how long the water will be shut off.  So - both yesterday and today, we were without water, from 9 to 3, theoretically.  We managed.  We imposed on our daughter.  Not a problem for her or for us.  She lives only 3-1/2 miles away.
     We came home yesterday, water was turned back on around 4:00 with no problems.
     We came home today, water was turned back on, at 3:00, today and then - oh boy were there problems.  At 7:00, in the middle of brushing his teeth, Edgar said that there was no water.  And, in the middle of running the dishwasher, there was no water.  Edgar went outside to check with the workers who told him that they had run into a problem and would try to have it fixed within a couple of hours.  Now, that's a problem.
     It's late, at least for us.  We are members of the senior citizen society.  In other words, we are on the old side of 70.  (Good thing I took my shower at 5:00).
     We called the Aqua emergency number and after listening to the programmed announcement of all the communities that could be troubled by a lack of water, our call was answered by a person who acknowledged that there was indeed an emergency.  And, I don't want to misquote her, so I will not use quotation marks, but she scared me.  She said that the foreman told her that he ran into a major problem and had to shut down the main immediately or else it would blow and the whole street would collapse.  Panic!!!  Remember the photos of the houses that collapsed in the sink holes in Florida?
     I called the police.  Now, since the new system, there is no way to get directly in touch with the Lower Merion police, but with a communications dispatcher.  I relayed my panic and asked that the police please be notified if our house collapses into a sinkhole so that both Edgar and I can be rescued.  Overreaction?  Maybe!  But I don't think so.  Especially since the Aqua operator said that when PECO has an emergency, and the electricity goes out, they dispatch crews.  I agreed.  I also told her that when the electricity goes out, I have a flashlight.  She backed away from that comparison.  I asked her if another crew was being sent out to help these workers fix the problems so that the main doesn't blow and the street collapse along with my house and us.  She said that another crew would not make the job go any faster.  And, as much as she tried to explain why, her logic or rather, lack of it, made no sense to me.
     Meanwhile, here I sit, waiting for the water main to be fixed.  Please, understand, the new main on Aberdale was supposed to be attached to the new main on Bryn Mawr and the new main on Bala.  With all the new water mains, what kinds of problems could exist?  

Friday, May 24, 2013

They Tried to Flim Flam Me and I'm Naming Names.

      I received an email (I think it's called an email blast) from Ardmore Nissan.  It read great - and although it sounded too good to be true - and you know what "they" say about things that sound too good to be true - I foolishly followed through - $5000.00 under MSRP for a 2013 Altima.

     We checked the Kelley Blue Book value of our 2009 Altima (between $13,000 and $14,000) and emailed our reply with a complete and honest description - less than 10,000 miles, no scratches or dents, serviced only by Ardmore Nissan, and never been in an accident.  And we offered our car plus $5000.00 for a cash deal for a 2013 Altima.

     We received an email reply of "sounds good."

     We replied to this email that if Ardmore Nissan is sincere and serious, we will bring in the title to our car, our car, and a check.  We stressed that $5000 was our offer, our bottom line.  We are not interested in negotiating for any higher price.  And, please tell us now if $5000 will be acceptable so we can save all of us both time and aggravation.

     The answer was - it is a deal if our car checks out as stated.

     So, we went to the bank, retrieved the title from the Safe Deposit box, drove to Ardmore Nissan, met the sales manager who turned us over to a sales rep and naively prepared to make our deal.

     We sat and talked for over an hour while the dealership put our car through its paces and we test drove a dark blue Altima.  By the way, no significant differences between it and our 2009 called out to us.

     Sounds great, right?  You'd be wrong!

     Then, the salesman pulled out his calculator and announced what he called a great deal - are you ready for this?  out car plus $12,000.  We said nothing - just took our stuff and started to walk out.  I couldn't help myself.  I told him that our deal, our bottom line deal, was $5000 and our car.  He thought he was countering with "let's split the difference."  I yelled NO.  Our deal was $5000.  He said what about taxes and title?  And we left without answering.

     We have saved all the emails that implied a deal, perhaps even a contract, which we sent to Nissan USA headquarters.  But that too is proving to be unsatisfactory because, they say all the dealerships are independently owned and operated.

     So, a warning to all you potential car buyers.  As has been the case for as long as I can remember - the dealers lie!

Saturday, May 18, 2013

Music Calls Out to Us!

     The other day, we turned on Morning Joe and heard Paul Anka sing "Diana," which he said he wrote when he was 14.  What a treat!  Anka wrote "My Way" for Frank Sinatra and our late Senator Arlen Specter adopted that song as his own theme song.  Later on, we heard the Frank Sinatra version of "Come Fly With Me" as part of a commercial for something, don't remember what.  But that's not the point.

     Music has been a part of life forever.  In the olden, olden days; only a few people knew how to read and history, ethics, philosophy, logical thinking, family values, etc. had to be taught to the populace for the purpose of passing on and remembering traditions.  Remember, most people could not read, so the important stories were turned into song.  The Torah is read, actually chanted,   today to the same musical arrangement of notes as in Biblical times.  The wise people created specific trops for specific passages so that everyone could remember them and chant them.

     In Hawaii, or Polynesia, there was no written language but the stories of their heritage persisted through the same kind of chanting of family and community traditions.

     Today, Chip Kelley, Eagles' coach, plays rhythmic music for football plays.  Again, as I understand it, specific musical phrases are connected to specific formations for defensive and offensive maneuvers.  And, as they say, imitation is the sincerest form of flattery, Andy Reid is now incorporating music into his plays with his new team the Kansas City Chiefs.

     Now, let us turn to the Lower Merion School Board who thinks it is in the best interest of the students, especially in elementary schools, to receive less time with music and the arts.  The school board could not be more wrong.  We attended the May 16th Lower Merion High School spring music and arts festival.  These young and talented musicians showed enthusiasm and understanding  with their performances.  They need to be complimented and encouraged on their tenacity and hours and hours of practice.  But, I have to admit that I was disappointed in one aspect of the program.  And that is the program itself which listed the members of district, regional, state and eastern performance groups.  When my children attended Lower Merion High School, the names of those selected for these groups filled up an entire page.  In this year's program, although I did not count them, I am sure that there were less than 10 students who achieved this honor.

     Come on Lower Merion School Board and "get with the program."  Music is important!!!  Music has always been important!!!  Don't deprive our children of their right to know, love, understand, and appreciate the arts!!!
   

Friday, May 10, 2013

Mothers!!!

     My mother enjoyed all kinds of entertainment, from sports to theater to opera to orchestra to anything that was performed by top notch performers.  She loved the Phillies, I think Richie Ashburn was her favorite, and that's why she surprised both me and my father one day when she said that he had to get tickets for the A's/Yankees game.  The Phillies were and still are the National League team; the Philadelphia Athletics were the American League team.  My father, who never denied my mother anything, asked her why.  She told him that Joe DiMaggio of the New York Yankees was going to play the Athletics and she wanted to be sure that I got to see the greatest and best baseball player of the time.  In all honesty, all I remember was her excitement at going to this game, being at the game, and then talking about how great DiMaggio was.

     My mother also loved Marlon Brando and she took me to see him in the movie Viva Zapata.  I saw it recently on TV and realized why she liked Brando and wanted to see that movie.  We went to New York to see Pajama Game, David Wayne in Teahouse of the August Moon, the Rockettes at Radio City Music Hall, and when we toured the NBC studios she gently insisted that I sing a song for the closed circuit and brand new television sets that were scattered throughout the building.

     When it came to piano lessons, she rode with me on the bus to center city for lessons at the school that has now been incorporated into the University of the Arts.  My father used to pick us up when the lessons were over.  My mother never drove - a good thing.  Her sense of direction was greatly distorted and if she said that she was sure that we had to make a right turn, we knew to turn left.

     I had season tickets, through the high school, to the students' concerts at the Academy of Music and even though I felt I could touch the ceiling from the seats, the music made a lasting impression on me.  My parents attended every recital and concert in which I performed, starting when I was 4 years old and lasting through college.  They traveled wherever and whenever I played the piano, the flute, and/or the cello.  I took dance lessons, art lessons, and singing lessons.  Dancing was not my forte, neither was art when my watercolor pumpkins on a fence ran, and singing served me well in choruses.

     As a mother, I had my share of attending sporting events and concerts.  I even was asked to play football with my son and his friends when he was in high school - I did; and I played in the University orchestras when my children asked me to join them.

     And now, as a grandmother, I am enjoying as many of the entertainment venues that my darling grandchildren participate in,.

Monday, April 29, 2013

Chip Kelly, Eagles, and the tea bag

     “I’m going to steal a quote from [former Cleveland Browns head coach] Sam Rutigliano and he used to say, ‘With a quarterback, it’s like a tea bag,” Kelly told reporters.  “You don’t know what you have until you put it in hot water."

     Well, we know what you have with a tea bag, before you put it in hot water.  One day, in Honolulu, we went into the extensive Chinatown area and browsed the stores.  To our surprise, there was at least one store that specialized in loose tea.  So, we walked in and looked at the vast array of teas.  The leaves were kept in enclosed tin drawers with labels for the customer to select.  There were the flavors that we knew such as Earl Grey, Orange Pekoe, Gunpowder, Oolong, Darjeeling - and there were also some rare names that we could not pronounce, probably because most of the characters that described them were Asian writing.

     We bought a sampling of each of the teas that we mentioned and were leaving when a couple of mainland tourists (like us, only much louder) walked into the store and asked what we found.  We explained and they turned up their noses and said in a voice that was much too loud, "we drink Lipton's."  with that, the shopkeeper, an elderly Asian, looked at them with disdain and said "you drink wood."

Sunday, April 28, 2013

The Fighting "Days"

     If you remember Barbara and Philip Day from my crime novels set in Hawaii and on the Main Line, you'll understand this blog.

     As some background, new water mains are being installed on the Main Line and, like all contractors, the object is to do the work safely, follow the township guidelines and regulations, and complete the job as quickly and cheaply as possible.  So, when the house shook, Barbara Day ran out onto the street and waving her arms, yelled "Stop!  You are breaking my house."  And the work had barely begun.  The workers said that they couldn't stop but they did.  And someone pulled out a phone.

     Barbara returned to the house, found the phone number of the management team, and Philip called.  His persuasive style convinced the man in charge to make an in person visit to the site.  During the ensuing conversation between Philip and the company man, he looked Barbara right in the eye, lied to her face, and said that the township required his workers to use the equipment that would cause vibrations.

     "I don't like you and I don't like your cute eyes and slimy smile."  At least, that is what Barbara felt like saying to the same company  man who stood in front of her and lied to her face.  Thank goodness for her experiences with Marion Dell who said, on more than one occasion, that people will believe whatever you tell them.  Another one of her tightly held expressions and beliefs, which has stood Barbara and Philip in good stead was "is, was, will be; what difference does it make?"

     The company man told the Days that he had put in thousands and thousands of feet of new mains, using this method.  Barbara, always keeping her eye on the goal, said "that number doesn't matter.  The only number that matters to us is one.  We have only one house, this one, and we don't want you to destroy it."

     A little detective work from Barbara resulted in a conversation with the township official who confirmed Barbara's assessment about the lying contractor.  Then the township man told Philip that the material and equipment that will be used, in front of their house, will not cause the vibrations that would shake the old stone house, with plaster walls, and old pipes. This concession to the Days might increase the cost of the job both in money and in time.  Apparently, the rest of the home owners will have to fend for themselves.

     If this had taken place in Hawaii, Barbara had no doubt that Madam Pele would take care of them and see that the liars got their just comeuppance.

Saturday, April 20, 2013

Conversations with Robert Wagner

     We have been lucky enough to see and interview Robert Wagner three different times.  He has been my favorite actor since the 1960's when he starred in It Takes a Thief.  He was gracious, kind, and friendlier than our neighbors when he answered our questions and discussed his acting career.

     We asked him about his acting career and how his costars were chosen.  He proudly said that he selected Stephanie Powers for Hart to Hart and never regretted it for a minute.  He also said that Hart to Hart was filmed in Canada - money reasons - and that, by the time we saw him, the show had been canceled.  That time, we saw him in Love Letters at the Valley Forge Music Theater, a show that we saw before, also with Ms. Powers, and after, in Honolulu, at the Hawaii Theater, with Jill St. John (his wife).  At the first Love Letters show, Jill St. John stuck out her hand and introduced herself to us as Mrs. Wagner.  She also turned on more lights in the dressing room for a better photo.

     At the Valley Forge Music Fair, he took one look at our paper, The Main Line Life, and asked, "what's this about?  drugs?"  with that darling smile and twinkle in his eyes that no amount of lessons can teach.  Also, "terrific" and "beautiful" - his pronunciation of those words in It Takes a Thief, Two and a Half Men, and NCIS should be patented.

     In Hawaii, after the show, he introduced his high school theater coach and credited that man with the successes he had in show business.  As I said, nicer that some of our neighbors who insist on grabbing all the credit for themselves.

     I wish I had asked him about his grace and poise, especially in It Takes a Thief; although he still exhibits that quality in his occasional appearances in NCIS.  Some of his movements are right out of ballet, while others appear to be choreographed from fencing and wrestling.

     He read my first crime novel that takes place in Hawaii, Hula Kapu, one of four, and returned it to me with a note that said that it would be perfect for Hart to Hart but that show had been canceled.  He ended his letter with "I hope our paths will cross again."  So do I.  Oh well.  What could have been - and maybe still will be - if anybody is interested.

Thursday, April 18, 2013

Norden Bombsight, the Nazis, and NCIS

     We just watched an NCIS rerun with Robert Wagner.  As I'm sure all of you know, he is my all time favorite actor.  The story reminded us of a real life adventure that was told to us by Colonel Norman Vaughan in the Sleepy Dog Cafe in Trappers Creek, Alaska.

     We sat at a booth, drank black coffee, with the 90-something year old adventurer.  He regaled us with his 1928 adventures with Admiral Byrd, told us how he arrived in Alaska at the age of 67, with $5.00 that he tucked between two socks in his shoes.  He stayed at the Y, borrowed a shovel and started removing snow.  He was homeless and raised himself to a multimillionaire through hard work and ingenuity.   He was not very successful in  marriage though with 3 divorces and 4 wives.

     To get to the Norden Bombsight.  This was a technological breakthrough for precision high altitude bombing during WWII.  In fact, the technology was also used in Korea and Viet Nam instead of the area bombing that was advocated by our European Allies.  The bombadiers were told to guard it with their lives rather than let it fall into the hands of the enemy.  They were told to shoot it and burn it.

     A bomber went down in Greenland and U. S. intelligence indicated that the bombsight was intact and that the Nazis were trying desperately to find it and remove it.  Because of Colonel Vaughan's experiences in Antarctica, he was asked to get it. He led a successful and dangerous mission to rescue the top secret Norden bombsight from the American planes forced to land in Greenland.  And thus prevented it from landing in the hands of the Nazis.

     Now, to NCIS and Robert Wagner.  We just finished watching the show entitled "Broken Arrow" that had, as its plot, a downed bomber with a hydrogen bomb that had been missing for years.  Through intrepid detective work and the help of Robert Wagner's character, the NCIS team found the submerged hydrogen bomb and kept it out of enemy hands.  Not that the bomb itself would work, but the nuclear material would still be viable.

     Norman Vaughan has since died but NCIS owes him a debt of gratitude.  By the way, he was a very charming and handsome man with connections to the Philadelphia area.  He played professional football with the Frankford YellowJackets.

Sunday, April 14, 2013

The Kindness of Strangers and the U S Post Office and Me -

     Yesterday, Saturday, we went to our Bala Cynwyd post office to mail a letter.  The post office opens at 10:00 on Saturday and we did not know how much postage to put on this letter with about 8 pages in it.  The insurance company enclosed a self addressed envelope, but the envelope was not stamped.  So, we arrived at around 30 seconds before 10 and waited and sure enough, at a little after 10, the iron gate was raised.  But, the 3 employees who were standing behind the counter started, then, to get ready to take care of us, the customers.  They counted their money, sorted their stamps, straightened their things, and then said "next."  By that time, there were at least 10 people who were waiting in line.  In the olden days, a 10:00 opening meant that the workers were ready and prepared to take care of the customers.  But, it's worse in Hawaii.

     Anyway, I used the self help kiosk while I complained to a young woman who was standing at an island and stamping her envelopes and packages.  She offered me a stamp, but I told her that I had no idea  how much postage it required.  So, the first woman in line weighed her package, put the stamp on her package, took her receipt, and just about did a jig because she figured out how to use the automated system.  Then the man behind her, and in front of me, repeated the process.  Finally, it was my turn.  I put the envelope on the scale, answered the questions, entered the zip code, and found out that it required 66 cents postage.  Great.  Except, I couldn't buy one 66 cent stamp.  The minimum purchase was a dollar.  I complained out loud and the woman with the stamps said that she had a bunch of stamps, put two 34 cent stamps on the envelope.  I thanked her, reached into my wallet to pay her, and she "no.  Pay it forward."

     See, it's what I have said forever and ever.  On the whole, most people are wonderful and nice and polite and generous.  There are just one or two bad guys who ruin it for everyone.

Friday, March 22, 2013

2012 Taxes - finally finished

     I have to admit that I am very proud and happy that I finally finished our income taxes.  And it wasn't easy.  First of all, I had to call the IRS, several months ago, to ask for the printed instructions and forms.  I asked for the forms that I thought I needed and, after a delay because they weren't ready early, the forms and booklets arrived.  I put off, as long as I could, even looking at those horrors but decided to tackle them on Tuesday.  However, before I started, I thought I would start the car - it had been cold and the car had been idle for a while.  Intuition is a wonderful thing.  The car went "click."  And then click again.  So, I called AAA, got a hot shot, drove the car to the agency, got the state inspection, oil change, and a new battery.  All within 2 hours.  Tuesday was shot as far as the taxes go.

     So, I started again on Wednesday.  This time, I could not think of anything to interrupt my work.  I began with the first page, the first line, and had no problems until I had to fill out the social security worksheet which always drives me nuts.  Maybe I got it right, maybe not.  I'll know once I hear from the IRS.  Then, I went on to the profit and loss from short and long term capital gains.  Not that we had much to report - a balance of zero, but, in order to report that zero, first I had to fill out a form that the IRS had not sent and move the information from this missing form to the one that the IRS did send.  Up to the third floor, to try to print out the missing form.  It was mostly acceptable and I added a few ruler-drawn lines to complete it.

     By this time, I had gone through half a dozen Tums and yelled at as many inanimate objects as I could.  Edgar is used to that and knew that I was not yelling at him.

     Now, I had to send a small check.  But, I also needed another form to enclose with the check which the IRS had omitted sending so - back again to the third floor for another go round with the printed and the ruler.

     Then to the estimated taxes for 2013.  Every time I use the EFTS system, I forget what I am supposed to do and I usually keep the Tums bottle handy.  This time, however, after only the third call, I was helped by a very, very patient and friendly woman.  When I asked her please to stay with me and walk me through every step, she said that she would not leave me until I was satisfied and finished.  She was wonderful.  She helped me fill in every blank that needed filling in and I thanked her and then took time to tell her supervisor how helpful, patient, and wonderful she was.

     I didn't think that I had accomplished anything terrific until I spoke to two different PhD's who told me that they could not figure out the taxes (both had courses in accounting as undergraduates) and that they hired accountants for their taxes.  Furthermore, the accountants complained to them that the rules were so complicated that, sometimes, even they did not know what to do.

     Hooray for me.  I went to Staples, made copies, and then to the post office to mail off the return and the check, and now I have to hope that the mail gets through and the IRS can read my writing.

Wednesday, March 20, 2013

the post office and another example of rudeness

Today, our letter carrier (I used to call him a mailman, but since some are women, I guess I could call him a mail person), parked on the street, right in back of a sign that said "NO PARKING HERE TO CORNER" in spite of the fact that the rest of the street was empty.  I saw him, stopped him, and asked him if he could please not park there in the future.  You would not believe his attitude.  He became defensive and said that he had to park there because he had to take care of the whole street.  He said that he would park wherever he wanted because he had a job to do.  He did not say that it was an "important" job, just a job.

I don't know why he was in such a hurry.  I remember the "good old days" when mail was delivered by walkers, not riders.  Occasionally, the letter carriers had 3-wheeled carts that held the mailbag and they pushed the carts.  They never ever rode.  And they never, ever drove these great big trucks - should I call them gas guzzlers?

I reported the incident to the postmaster general of the United States.  I hope that the letter carriers, especially the ones who drive, will get mandatory lessons in courtesy and some lessons in reading and understanding the English language - that "NO PARKING" means just that - no parking.


Monday, March 4, 2013

Philadelphia Flower Show - UGH!


      I do not understand the enthusiasm and love affair with the Philadelphia Flower Show.  In fact, I have never read a bad review of that event.  We attended last year's flower show, the one that themed Hawaii, and I was very disappointed.  I don't know what I expected but, I was not thrilled with the commercialism of the show.  This was a great venue for flower sellers, for cheese sellers, even for the Pennsylvania Liquor Stores, but, aside from the exotic flowers that one can find at any flower shop and garden shop, there was nothing remotely Hawaiian about the show.  Even Produce Junction has orchids, anthuriums, and torch ginger.
     The aisles were narrow, the venue was dark, and the crowds were caught up in the commercialism and not the Aloha spirit that is supposed to pervade Hawaii.  
     This year's show, which we did not and will not attend, is supposed to be "English."  Hooray for the art directors who were able to build a fake Big Ben and a fake London Tower.  Hooray for the architects who were able to design trellises that did not fall.  And hooray for the flower designers who decided that the white gardens were the way to go.  Big deal.  Just look in our back yard.  I have a white garden.  My snowdrops have proliferated and white is the prevailing color in the back yard, against the green of the shrubs and grass.
     Every year, we hear and read that the show is bigger and better than ever and yet, all the photos that we see, and the articles that we read, do not convey the truth of the hype.  It has become a commercial money maker for the city of Philadelphia (that's not a bad thing), for the restaurants and parking lots around the convention center (also not a bad thing), and probably for the florists who provide the flowers.  However, to put oneself in the throng of pushy people who can't wait to take photos, and be the first to buy the hyacinths, seems ridiculous.  Unless something changes, the flower show will lose its attraction and fade into a memory.
     I just came inside from the beautiful sunny afternoon.  The scent of spring is in the air, and the real flower show, put on by nature, will start soon.

Sunday, March 3, 2013

Young Edgar's Horseback Riding Adventures



     Edgar was reminded of his Junior High School Adventure after seeing photos of our granddaughter, astride a horse in Italy, during her exchange student adventure.
     He joined the horseback riding club in Wagner Junior High School, mainly because he liked the idea of jodphurs.  Mr. George Lieberman supervised and sponsored the club which met after classes.  The 7 or 8 adventurers arrived in Fairmount Park at the stables.  It must have been in 1940 or 1941.  
     Previous to this, Mr. Lieberman held a class, explaining the use of the different kinds of riding gear - stirrups, saddles, bits, etc.
     Edgar was helped onto an old horse by one of the stable hands and led into the corral.  No sooner had the stable hand let go, then, the horse turned around and trotted back into the stable.  (A pause here for a good chuckle is advised.)  Undaunted, Edgar tried again, this time, successfully.  He and his classmates sauntered around the perimeter of the corral with some minor setbacks.  For instance:  a classmate, Franklin Goren's saddle slipped and he wound up on the ground, with the saddle under the horse's belly.  He did not get hurt.  Malka Hofman's horse knew that he was in control, and not Malka, and decided to graze.  And somehow, this irritated another horse, who bit Malka's horse on the rump.  That caused Malka's horse to rear up.  Malka let go with a scream that they must have heard back at Wagner, but, again, no one got hurt.
     In spite of all these minor mishaps, Edgar and his classmates all learned, after a fashion, to control our old and docile animals.
     Then the big day came and Mr. Lieberman led us into the park for an uneventful walk.  And, as the saying goes, all's well that ends well. 
     Years later, Edgar, minus jodphers, and a friend went on a double date - horseback riding.  (This was many years before I met Edgar.)  The friend thought he was a big shot and could handle anything that came his way.  Bad idea.  His horse decided to graze, and the friend went flying over the horse's head and landed on the ground with a separated shoulder.  The dates were not impressed.  And that was Edgar's last ride on a live horse.
     Since then, in our 50 years of marriage, Edgar and I rode on a carousel horse in Sandwich, Massachusetts.

Monday, February 25, 2013

Verizon and Dumb is Foreveer


     A couple of nights ago, around 8:00 PM, the doorbell ran.  "Who is it?"  A muffled voice answered "Verizon."  We said, "if it's important come back when it is daylight."  So, two days later, the doorbell rang around 4:30 PM.  Still daylight.  "Who is it?"  "Verizon."  So I opened the door and a "young blond woman" said that she was from Verizon and did we want to save some money with our Verizon bill.
     I asked what we had to do to save the dough, and she then pulled out a small computer and started entering data.  At that point, a young man came by and she asked him for "the code."  I bristled.  It was cold.  The door was open.  She was sitting on my steps.  "Why weren't you prepared?"  I asked.  "You knew you were coming here.  You should have had this all done before you rang my bell."
     "I am prepared," she said.
     I changed the subject and said "where did you go to school?"  She said that she graduated from Temple and when prodded, she said that she majored in PR.  Then she asked me what kind of work I did.  I told her that she would never understand.
     I hung around the open door, a little longer until I was really freezing, and I saw that she was no closer to telling me how much I could save if I did something that she never revealed. Then I told her never to come back and shut the door.
     If she thought that she was going to make a sale, or sign me up, or earn a commission by irritating me, she was very wrong.
     I have to agree with Judge Judy:  beauty fades, dumb is forever.

Sunday, February 17, 2013

City Avenue Special Services (CASS)



     When I first heard the proposal for CASS, I questioned my long time high school friends Joe Manko and Lita Cohen.  I could not understand their enthusiasm for creating this political haven for politicians who had no other job or job prospects. They were unable to explain their rationales then, and they still can't.  Their premise was that there would be a decrease in crime, an increase in property values, and we would all get together, hold hands, and applaud.
     As far as I can tell, there are still bank robberies, store hold ups, house break-ins, car thefts, and beggars.  Just check the police blotter every week.  The men and women in their red jackets ride their bicycles up and down the streets, and sign in and check in at the stores.  Big deal!!!  I asked them what they do and they bragged that they give directions to people who ask them.  Another big deal!!!  I do that all the time and I don't wear a red jacket or get paid by this boondoggle.
     More of my anger has surfaced since the CASS hired Miller Brothers Electric of Conshohocken to put in new lamps and lighting on Bala Avenue.  Seems harmless enough even though the company is not a Lower Merion Company.  But, in the course of their street and electrical work, they damaged our house.  The house shook violently, the walls in the kitchen cracked, I ran outside to ask them to stop, they didn't.  A few days later, 3 people from the company came into our house to "explain" what they were doing, as if that would magically stop the vibrating, and fix the cracks in our walls.  Our LM Commissioner was here too.  He heard and felt the vibrations and saw the damage.
     Seems, like this should be a simple fix; however, our insurance company, Allstate with whom we have had our policies for 50 years, and who we have paid for 50 years, said that we are not covered.  And, since CASS hired Miller Brothers Electric and not Lower Merion Township, our community representatives are trying to deny responsibility.
     We have been tax payers, in our same house, since 1969.  What gives?  And, every  year, we receive a letter from CASS saying that if we are the owner/occupiers of our house, we don't have to pay CASS any additional money.  That's good.  I don't see what CASS is doing to deserve any money or any more good feelings or cooperation from Lower Merion.  Lita Cohen and Joe Manko have removed themselves from representing Lower Merion.  Now it's time for the new representatives to remove Lower Merion from CASS. 

Thursday, February 7, 2013

Curds

     In 2010, during one of our trips to Wisconsin, we toured Hooks Cheese Company in Mineral Point, Wisconsin.  We received the tourists' tour of cheese making and sampled their famous cheese.  Their Colby cheese won 1st prize in an International Contest but our favorite was the 10-year-old cheddar.  We also bought bags of cheese curds, those freshly made bits of cheese that separate during processing.  Delicious.

     We are reminded of our excursion because of an article in today's Philadelphia Inquirer titled "He's got a way with fried cheese curds."

Doris Duke

     Today's New York Post writes about Duke's teen kin that can't pay tuition.

     We were lucky enough to tour Shangri La, Doris Duke's 4.9 acre estate in Honolulu at the foot of Diamond Head.  This gorgeous mansion, a tribute to Islamic Art is maintained by the Honolulu Academy of Art.  The major domo, Jinadasa deSilva, who was in charge of the house during her lifetime, told us that Doris Duke's father gave her just one piece of advice - "trust no one."

     Her father died in 1925, when she was just 13 years old.  She was left in charge of his vast 50 million dollar estate which she grew to 1.5 billion dollars.  Doris Duke never cared what anybody wrote about her.  She never agreed to interviews and therefore, one cannot separate truth from fiction.

     We do know that she was very tall, over 6 feet, and very blond.  She was an expert swimmer and diver and had an Otis designed moveable diving board installed at her pool.  One push of a button raised (or lowered) the diving board.  She enjoyed the company of Duke Kahanamoku and his family.

     She married and divorced James Cromwell but they never had any children.

     We were curious about Islamic Art.  It turns out that there are no representations of humans, only animals and flowers.

Tuesday, January 8, 2013

Celeste Holm, Columbo and my husband Edgar

     First, some back story.  One day, about 50 years ago, shortly after we were first married, I had the time to drive into town and pick up Edgar after work.  My graduate school classes ended early and I had a handle on my experiment on the Retention of an Incompletely Learned Avoidance Response.

     So drove to Broad and Arch, found a legal place to park, got out of our car, a 1960 black 2-door Chevy Bel Aire and waited just a couple fo minutes when fI saw Edgar.  I was standing in the middle of the sidewalk and he walked right by me.  I called "Edgar" and then like in Mrs. Murphy's Chowder, I shouted "Edgar" even louder.

     He turned finally and saw me and said that he had no idea I was coming.  And apologized, and apologized, and apologized.  We still laugh.

     Now to Columbo.  Yesterday morning we watched a Columbo rerun that we had taped on Sunday night.

      The brief preview flashed on the TV screen, and Edgar said "Oh, I see that Celeste Holm is in this one."  Granted, she was a very beautiful and talented woman but, if she was on the screen for 15 seconds, that was a long time.  I wonder if Edgar would have walked by her at Broad and Arch.

     I guess the trick is to capture his attention whcih, after 50 years of marriage, I think I can finally manage.

Blame it all on Goodell

     And I mean everything connected with the Philadelphia Eagles.

     Let's go back to Jeffrey Lurie's purchase of the Eagles.  He was never viewed as a football person by the 31 other NFL team owners.  And, of course, he wanted to fit in.  It seems to me that he sought advice on how to fit in and either paid no attention or received poor advice.

     and then, Tony Dungee, a well respected football person, took Michael Vick under his arm as part of Dungee's prisoner rehabilitation project  And Dungee must have convinced Goodell that Vick, who had served his time in prison, was ready for the opportunity to renew his professional football career.

     And then, in my mind, Goodell called together a small group of owners and asked which owner, in their opinion, would be willing to take Vick.  Unhesitatingly, they must have unanimously suggested Jeffrey Lurie for two reasons - Lurie wanted to be included as part of the owners club, and Lurie did not have a clue as to how a respectable owner would act.

     So Jeffrey Luried jumped at the chance to be one of the crowd, he thought.  He still doesn't know that the owners laugh at him behind his back and think of him as a failed Hollywood movie producer (because of V I Warshafky) even though he won an Oscar for a documentary.  The owners, however, respect his business acumen.

     Now, Lurie is faced with the problem of the "Eagles.  He had a coach, Andy Reid, who was never able to grasp the concept of time management.  In Reid's favor, except for one time, (Akers) he never threw any of his players under the bus.  Reid also had a fragile quarterback, Michael Vick, who has suffered multiple concussions and broken bones.  A rookie quarterback, Nick Foles still has to learn the fine points of being in the NFL.  Reid is also hampered by his own statements that an 8 and 8 season (last year) would not be acceptable and this year he was 4 and 12.

      But, I go back to my original statement.  Blame it on Goodell.  Without Vick,, Kolb might still be at the helm of the offense, or a seasoned quarterback who could actually play the game would be part of the team.

     and now, with the end of the Andy Reid era, and the search for a new coach, Lurie will not cede control to anyone except his trusted business buddies.  Dick Vermeil said no to Lurie 15 years ago and I will be greatly surprised if any established coach will say yes without having a final say in team make up.

Cheaters and Liars Among Us

     I know that everybody doesn't lie and cheat.  I'm puzzled where the ethics are among the people who do.

     I have overheard three different cases.  Blabbermouths don't know about discretion.  One person claims head of the household on income tax returns even though the adult child does not live there.

     One person collects disability payments and works for cash payments given under the table.

     And another person got a doctor's "sick" note for the week of the cruise vacation taken during the school year.  Won't the doctor be surprised when his taxes go up because of that cheating.

     There are minor incidents too, like borrowing a handicap hang tag for a better parking place; leaving a car in a no parking zone and saying "I'll only be a few minutes," and being angry at a police officer for ticketing the car because the meter had expired.

     And, it is truly worth your life to cross a street, if you think cars are going to stop because Pedestrians have the right of way.

     Also, people with serious physical and health problems, like diabetes and high blood pressure cheat on their foods.  the diabetics say that their doctors told them they can have a little dessert once in a while and they interpret that as every dinner, not every lunch and dinner.  And the high blood pressure people who sprinkle just a little sale because otherwise the food has no taste.