Thursday, 15 January 2015

Is it You, Dahle?

By Norm Jenson of Mostly Anecdotal

We have a dog, her name is Dahle, she’s a brown and white Shih Tzu.

Today my wife asked me if I would mind picking up the dog from the groomer. She dropped her off earlier in the day and when they call, I’ve agreed, I will pick her up.

It always makes me uncomfortable when I pick up the dog. It should be as simple as saying I’m here to pick up Dahle and then they bring her to me.

But no. Invariably they have the dog in a crate at the front of the store with other dogs and they say, “Do you see your dog?” and they point at the cages.

I look and there are two Shih Tzus - our dog is a Shih Tzu and one of the two looks like our dog but the grooming has changed its appearance. It looks different.

Our dog may still be in the back and this is just a dog that looks like ours. I worry about embarrassing myself. What will I say if I open the cage and the Shih Tzu’s not ours and bites me?

Or what if it acts friendly and I take it to the car just as the real owner shows up and confronts me. Accuses me of trying to steal the dog and calls the police. I agree it’s not likely but it’s something I worry about.

I open the cage; the dog just sits there. I whisper her name. She looks like Dahle, but she doesn’t wag her tail. I look for her collar and her name tag. I remember it’s in my pocket, removed before the grooming and now replaced by a bandana decorated with butterflies and ladybugs and other harbingers of spring, though spring is still months away.

I can tell she’s anxious to leave but any dog would be anxious to leave - it’s no guarantee she’s our dog.

I put a collar on her. She doesn’t seem to mind. I lift her and set her on the ground. I can’t tell for sure if she’s ours or just happy that someone is there to spring her.

We walk out to the car. She looks back over her shoulder. I open the door and she tilts her head to the side and looks at me askance. Is it because she doesn’t recognize the car or because she needs my help to get in?

vvvv

I pick her up and place her on the passenger seat. I get in and start driving home. She seems happy enough. I pet her. She may know me but she’s not giving it away.

I’m pretty sure I have the right dog, but not 100 percent positive.

What if I get her home and the groomer calls and asks what I’m trying to pull. What if my wife comes home and looks at this dog, maybe ours maybe not, and says what the hell.

The dog follows me upstairs and sits on a rug at my feet. I pick up a book and start reading. I’m having trouble concentrating, my wife will be home any minute now.


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Wednesday, 14 January 2015

Doing Doggerels

By Henry Lowenstern

Whenever I'm swimming laps,
I turn on my rhyming apps
and rehearse
a verse,
made up of mental scraps.


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Tuesday, 13 January 2015

The Inspection

By Trudi Kappel

For three years, I had the good fortune to work at IBM’s renowned research laboratory. It was an opportunity to participate in leading edge research with scientists who were recognized leaders in their fields.

One of my assignments was the administration of a laboratory. I made sure that all services and equipment were working properly and arrange repairs when needed. Periodically there would be a safety audit. I had to remedy any problems the inspectors found.

The outgoing administrator gave me some advice as he turned over responsibility. On the desk near the door was a lamp with a two pronged plug. This was a safety violation. All electric equipment was required to have three pronged plugs. The lamp was not plugged in.

“Don’t ever discard that.” he cautioned. “It will save you much grief.”

I did not understand but I left the lamp next to the door. Unplugged.

Life in a research lab can be chaotic. Not all scientists are mad but most are impulsive. An idea comes into their head, they race to the lab to try it out. In the excitement of the moment, safety regulations are forgotten.

I tried to keep my lab in safety conformance but undoubtedly on most days there were lapses. However, we never had a fire and nobody ever landed in the hospital.

At my first safety review, the committee entered the lab. They noted the two pronged plug on the lamp, wrote it up and departed without venturing further into the lab.

AH HA. Now I understood. The inspectors had found and noted a deficiency. They had done their job! I promised to have it repaired but I never did. Different inspectors noted that plug at each of the semiannual inspections while I worked there and none of them never looked for or found any other issues.

When I moved on, I bequeathed that precious lamp to my successor with advice.


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Monday, 12 January 2015

Things the Kids Have Said to Me

By Nancy Leitz

Daughter Carol at age 4: "Mommy, do you think you could buy me a mirror? I'm tired of making up in doorknobs."

Niece Emma age 5: "Emma, would you like me to take your picture?"

"Yes, Aunt Nancy, but I didn't think you would take my picture this year.

I asked “Why do you think I wouldn’t take your picture this year?

“Because I have the same face as last year."

Chris age 4 after he had been watching cowboy movies all afternoon when he was told that his Aunt Betty's mother had died: He jumped from his chair, put his hands on his hips and demanded to know, "Who shot her?"

Boss's daughter Judy aged 6 was sitting at a desk in our office area with her chin in her hand and a faraway look on her face. "Judy, What are you thinking about?"

"I'm trying to decide whether to invite my college friends to my wedding."

Steve aged 9 on a ride up the New Jersey Turnpike with a stop at the first over 55 community we had ever seen. We drove through and there was not one swing set, wagon, bicycle or any other sign of a child.

"Mom, if these people don't allow any kids in here, what do they do for aggravation?"

Jerry age 4, would hear me say that one of our neighbors got on my nerves by calling me all the time asking me to borrow things or take her somewhere. One day the telephone rang and he said, "Mom, if that's Mrs. Hanson, why don't you tell her you have something else on your nerve today?"

Niece Cassidy age 5 was playing with a basket of artificial fruit while her Mom was having a meeting of her club at a picnic table. Cassidy kept circling the table giving out one piece of fruit to each lady. Her Mother said,"What are you doing, Cassidy?”

"I'm just playing."

"What are you playing?"

"Meals On Wheels."

When Grandson Ian was about 10 years old, I mentioned to him that in a few years he would be driving the car and he would be able to drive to Pennsylvania to see me.

His reply was " Well, you know, Nanny, you are very old. By that time you might be dead."

To which I responded, "I'll make it easy on you, Ian. If I'm dead, don't come."

Niece Susan when she was about 5 years old: When her mother would bring her to visit her grandparents, Mom Mom and Pop Pop McGarvey, they had to change trains at Penn Station 30th St. in Philadelphia. The station was huge, noisy and bustling with people and Susan was really terrified of the place.

So, one night we heard her saying the Lord's Prayer and she was pleading. “And lead us not into Penn Station...”

The Encyclopedia Brittanica salesman spread his books all over our living room floor and said, ”I can answer any question this young boy will ask me.” He called in Chris who was about 5 and said, ”Do you have a question you want me to answer?

Chris said,” Yes, what kind of car does God drive?”


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Friday, 09 January 2015

I Wonder at It All

By Clifford Rothband

This getting old doesn't scare me. What bothers me most is probably not leaving a legacy. When I left the Vietnam conflict many years ago, my commanding officer, a colonel gave me a direct order, "Don't come back! Tell everyone what is happening here.”

Rhetoric and logic is a gift bestowed not on everybody but he knew I was a communicator. Athough I had a rough exterior, my inner instincts reflected both intelligence, a good nature and a sense of humor.

Having thought about my method of communicating, I have known those who lecture, who give orders, bully and shout. I've met a few who wrote books, paid for the printing and then store them in a closet.

I have thought of writing a book but that takes commitment and god knows what I have committed already. I am not good at jokes, my memory is not what I remember it to be, if it ever was?

Again, what can I leave behind? My kids have enough of what they need; I already tried to teach them all I knew.

Maybe that universal source available to each of us is for me to make others happy, to spread some laughter.

So here goes, a true story.

My mother-in-law Lucy is 94 this year. I long have kidded her that she was already 95 even when she was much younger.

Well, we had taken Lucy out for her wedding anniversary meal the evening before. Whe is a widow and it seems logical?

Of course, she took her leftovers home for the next day.

My wife had gone with me to the VA Hospital in Miami in case I could not drive home. We are sitting in a restaurant and my wife's cell phone rings. It's her mom saying that she just ate the leftovers for lunch and felt dizzy and nauseated. So she went into the second bath and heaved, she flushed and realized her dentures went down the drain. What should she do?

"Call maintenance." We are about two hours away and what can we do?"

A few days pass and Lucy has no choppers. My "caring" cousin had found a dentist who comes to the condo and takes a gum impression. Yes, a true impression, and he even charges in advance.

Upon entering the apartment after the new dentures are made, yet before they are fitted, he asks if he can use the can. Again the wife and I are "visiting" at the Miami VA Hospital when Lucy calls us.

My wife puts the cell phone on speaker so I can hear and don't have to question her again. The waitress is taking our orders and hears it all too.

Lucy explains about the dentist. He is still there and won't refund her money. After he flushed the toilet, he called Lucy in and low and behold, her old dentures came up and are just sitting there.

So of course Lucy reached in, rinsed them off and put them back in place. We almost choked. So did the waitress. And the next table.


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Thursday, 08 January 2015

On Genealogy

By Marc Leavitt of Marc Leavitt's Blog

How neat, I thought, that it would be,
To trace my genealogy,
To know the names, the times and how
My family grew, from then, to now.

The chart looked like a pyramid;
I put my name on top, I did.
Below I wrote in Mom and Dad,
The closest relatives I had.

Next, grandparents, four in all,
My parents’ parents, I recall.
And then the “greats,” eight in number;
No time now to think of slumber.

The second “greats” equal sixteen,
More relatives than I’d foreseen,
Until I got to “great, great, greats”;
All thirty-two, both men and mates.

I need to slow my search a while;
Took time to add them to the file;
Left room for uncles, cousins, aunts,
Part of the crowd my birth enhanced.


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Wednesday, 07 January 2015

Permission to Die

By Wendl Kornfeld

My mom told me her own mother never once told her she loved her. This made me very sad. A wanted and adored child myself, this piece of information was one of the many things I tried to remember whenever my mother was being, well, a pain.

She also said the only time she saw her mother cry was when my mom’s youngest brother died of polio at age 15. Ma said no parent should bury a child, it was the absolute worst thing that could happen to a parent.

We tend to be more accepting of the possibility - if not inevitability - that we will someday lose a parent or a spouse and friends but losing a child is not the normal order of the universe.

Therefore, it will be no surprise to learn my mother tended to be overly protective of us kids, seeing the world as an infinite number of terrors ready to eat her young. She wouldn’t even let my older sister drive me anywhere reasoning that when the car inevitably crashed and burned, she’d lose both of us.

And so it was I went through life with that little extra voice in my head always assessing possibly dangerous situations, foods, neighborhoods and people. Over and above good common sense, it was an obligation to take very good care of myself to protect Ma from her worst nightmare.

Daddy died first and when Ma passed on at almost 94 years of age, it felt like I’d gotten her permission to die someday myself. Now I could go without breaking Ma's heart, perhaps even killing her. Ma died knowing her children outlived her, the greatest possible gift for her last voyage.


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Tuesday, 06 January 2015

Bathroom Humor

By Janet Thompson

We are SO civilized! In the early 1980s, my best friend, Vonnie, financially underwrote our mutual friend Stephen’s engineering company. He'd invented, patented and made a prototype of an electronic faucet.

In a series of meetings, they expectantly offered it to Delta. They were frustrated hearing, "The idea is too far ahead of its time."

They couldn't find any buyers so they both lost a bundle. (Of course, some years later, Delta came out with an electronic faucet featuring only minor changes from what they had pitched).

Now in public bathrooms are faucets that turn on and off automatically and toilets that flush automatically.

As a native Coloradoan, in 1991 I discovered that public bathrooms in California supplied tissue-paper toilet-seat-covers. These little wonders replace what mothers taught kids - to tear off toilet tissue and place it in a V over the seat.

My friend Pat, in a moment of great candor, mentioned that she never could quite figure whether the perforated circular portion of the paper toilet seat cover should orient toward the front or the back of the toilet.

I jokingly asked, “Would you be doing number one or number two? Such a momentous decision. I admitted that I always just put it however it landed. We chuckled at the folly of even pondering it.

Explaining her decision-making style, Pat said she always has trouble learning through patterns, diagrams or pictures. Describing her limited understanding of space relationships, she said, “I learn best through words and sounds.”

(Pat is one of the most organized, talented and spiritually evolved women I have ever known. Using her many talents, she writes and produces music and songs for religious musical comedies for churches and local theatre groups).

How we had approached the subject of pattern features of paper toilet-seat-covers, I'll never know.

The other day, Pat told our breakfast group of her recent funny experience with both of the now modern improvements, the automatic flushing toilet and the paper seat-cover.

A friend had invited her to a special birthday meal at a posh new restaurant. In the handicapped stall, she placed the seat-cover and the pierced portion dropped into the water. The laser-beam in the toilet, sensing a retreating customer, automatically flushed and swallowed the cover. Taking another cover, she tried again, and swoosh, down the drain went that one, too.

Physically, Pat is a substantial woman. With her pants down around her feet and taking a third cover, she described how, in trying to outwit the efficient laser, using both hands, she wrapped and held the paper seat-cover around her bare fanny. She then quickly plopped down on the seat.

This maneuver thwarted the optical wonder, her derriere stayed hygienically dry and the flushing operation finally yielded. By then, she was laughing at herself so hysterically she almost couldn't get back up off the seat.

When she finished telling her story, we were all hooting along with her at our mental picture of the sight. You see, humor is one of Pat’s most important psychic muses. It never lets her down as she gleefully shared this goofy moment with us.

I'm also reminded of another day about the same time, when brick-size cell phones were big deals. Not too many folks had them. In public, folks who did usually made a huge production so others could notice their sophistication and economic achievements.

In the adjoining ladies room stall, a young woman quickly launched hers into an intimate conversation with someone on the other end of the line. An evil streak sought my dark side and with unfettered glee, I flushed and then I flushed again hoping it would be loud enough to be heard on the other end of her line.

Now, flushing a cell phone caller down the drain isn't a kick anymore; the opportunities to do it are so frequent!


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Monday, 05 January 2015

He Had a Secret

By Mickey Rogers of This, That and the Other

Most Americans who are 60 years of age or older remember that horrifying day in November of 1963 when President John F. Kennedy was assassinated. We can recall where we were and what we were doing when that dreadful news reached us.

For the younger generations, we can serve as first-hand resources for that particular historical event. As a kid I remember making up various excuses to escape visitations to my grandparents’ farm; now I wish they were around so that I could pick their brains about an era about which I can only read.

During the early childhood years of us older folks, there lived a gentleman who could have offered us a first-hand account about a tragic event in American history that had occurred long before our births.

In 1956, one of the most popular TV programs was I’ve Got a Secret, which was broadcast on CBS. Hosted by Garry Moore, the show featured panelists who would ask the subject yes or no questions in an effort to discover the person’s secret.

On February 9th of that year, a 95-year-old gentleman named Samuel J. Seymour appeared on the show. He had recently fallen at a New York City hotel and as a result, had suffered a swollen left eye as well as various bumps and bruises. The host suggested that Mr. Seymour skip the show but he was determined to appear.

The first panelist, Bill Cullen, soon determined that the guest had been present when something of historical importance had occurred. After his line of questioning, it didn’t take Jane Meadows long to guess that Mr. Seymour had been in Ford’s Theater on that fateful night of April 14, 1865, when President Abraham Lincoln was assassinated.

In fact, Seymour was the last living witness to that tragedy.

Seymour was only five years old when Mrs. George S. Goldsboro, his godmother, took him to the theater to see the performance of Our American Cousin, starring the famous actress Laura Keene.

Lincoln, along with his wife, Mary, and Major Rathbone and his fiancée, Clara Harris, entered Ford’s Theater after the play had begun. Seymour, who was sitting in the balcony opposite the presidential box, saw Lincoln smiling and waving to the audience.

A while later, the actor John Wilkes Booth, who had sneaked into the presidential box, was standing behind President Lincoln. In one hand he held a one-shot derringer; in the other he grasped a knife.

Booth waited until only the actor Harry Hawk was on the stage. The audience laughed loudly as Hawk spoke the last words heard by Lincoln: “…you sockdologizing old mantrap.”

Seymour did not witness the actual assassination but he did hear the shot and then heard someone in the presidential box scream. Next he noticed Lincoln slumped in his seat.

He saw John Wilkes Booth jump from the presidential box to the stage and heard the villain proclaim: “Sic semper tyrannis” which means “Thus always to tyrants.” Finally, before making his escape, Booth shouted: “The South is avenged.”

Today we can only read about this important historic tragedy but here was a man, still living during our early years, who actually had been there!

Samuel J. Seymour died on April 12, 1956, just 15 days after his 96th birthday. This was just two months following his appearance on I’ve Got a Secret.


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Friday, 02 January 2015

20 Million Dollars

By Marc Leavitt of Marc Leavitt's Blog

I was drinking my first cup of coffee, defogging my sleep-drenched mind, when I heard the news announcer say that some young athlete had just signed a five-year contract for $20 million.

That got my attention.

Imagine. $20 million. $5 million a year. Wow!

I didn’t get into the “It’s ridiculous to pay somebody that kind of money to chase a ball around” argument. It’s been done to death.

Instead, I thought about $20 million – a number which we can say easily. We know it’s a lot of money, but we can’t really visualize it. It’s hard enough to visualize a hundred dollar bills.

I thought about the absurdity of anybody needing that kind of money.

How many houses? How many cars? How many bottles of rare wine? How many - ?

No one needs that kind of money unless it can be justified with the equation: Money equals power. That’s the usual rationale and it makes some kind of sense.

Most people feel powerless and power can be good. Or it can be bad. We could talk all day about the corrupting influence of the money/power paradigm. We could also fill libraries with books written to justify the combination.

I drank some coffee and thought about my own life. I retired after an interesting and sometimes challenging career. At the top of my earning curve my salary never broke the six-figure mark, much less eight-figures, and yet, I always had most of what I needed.

I didn’t do badly. I ate well, lived in a nice place, dressed decently, educated my children, drove a good car, traveled and generally enjoyed myself – all without a multi-million dollar salary. I must have done something wrong!


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