Monday, December 31, 2007

Happy New Year



I would like to write a clever poem for the occasion, but nothing comes to mind. So have a happy new year all the same.

A slight miscalculation

It turns out China's GDP is 40 percent less than was previously thought.

Who compiles these figures? The CIA?

Sunday, December 30, 2007

Hmmm...

The Recipe For Miriam

3 parts Humor
2 parts Playfulness
1 part Giddiness

Splash of Allure

Shake vigorously

Bush suffers from Israeli Derangement Syndrome

Also known as Peace Process Delusion.

The incubation period for this disease appears to be seven years.

Saturday, December 29, 2007

More about watches

I'm sure no-one wants to hear any more about my family's watch problems, but I can't help it. I promise this will be the last watch reference. For a long, long time.

So--I usually buy my watches at Rite-Aid (40 percent off this week only) and throw them out when they stop working. I find it doesn't make sense to replace the battery in a $15 watch.

Also, my watches are liable to end up God knows where. The kitchen counter. The bathroom sink. The bathtub. Once I found one in the clothes dryer. It was still ticking, but alas, had no minute hand--it had come off during the spin cycle.

So you know I am not a fit custodian of a really, really expensive watch. But that's what I've got, thanks to a very generous relative. It's wasted on me. As bubbe would have said, it's like giving a chazar haven, chazar being a pig and haven being oats. Oats being too good for pigs, who prefer slop.

I am now the proud owner of a Movado Museum Watch. Must remember to keep it out of the washer and drier. Also off the kitchen counter when I'm cleaning up.

Does Mitt Romney remind anyone else...



of Dudley Do-right?

Global warmenist can't read maps

Flunks geography.
The area that will by completely inundated by the rising ocean—and not in a century but in the lifetime of my two cats—are the American southeast, including the most populated area of Texas.

My 6-year-old grandson can do a better job.

But then, he's smart.

Thursday, December 27, 2007

New Jersey governor mugged by reality

This hardly ever happens.

Gov. Jon S. Corzine said finding health insurance for the 1.4 million New Jerseyans who lack it ranks among New Jersey's top problems, but he doesn't expect to solve the plight in 2008.

He said the state -- facing a projected $3 billion budget deficit for next year -- cannot afford it.

"We have relatively finite resources," the Democratic governor said. "As a matter of fact, I don't even think we have resources."

Tuesday, December 25, 2007

Warren Buffett endorses Hillary

wants higher taxes.

Buffett, having shoveled in filthy lucre with both hands for most of his 70 odd years, feels the grim reaper getting closer and wants to store up virtue in heaven by doing more for the poor. But, being a shrewd investor, he wants to do more for them the only sensible way, with your money. In other words, higher taxes. On you. And me. We can spare the money, unless we are blinded by our greed and selfishness and don't care about the common good.

Warren has looked into matters and has decided that he can pony up more money for the tax collector without feeling the pinch. And so can you, or else.

Saturday, December 22, 2007

Wednesday, December 19, 2007

I am coriander?

If you say so.



Your Score: Coriander


You scored 50% intoxication, 50% hotness, 50% complexity, and 75% craziness!



You are Coriander! You're subtle. So subtle that people often forget about you. You are refreshingly clean and rather odd. You're often misunderstood. Your key word is "latent;" all your potential is wrapped up tightly until "BOOM," one day you're cilantro. Funky.

Link: The Which Spice Are You Test written by jodiesattva on OkCupid Free Online Dating, home of the The Dating Persona Test

Tuesday, December 18, 2007

Are presidential libraries a waste of money?

I believe they are.

The article itself is a lengthy discussion of foreign contributions to the Clinton library, many of them from unsavory characters. The same holds true of other presidential libraries in large measure. According to one of the commentors:

I am less disgusted by where the money came from, than what the money bought. Presidential libraries are a waste and a boondogle. The money would be better spent on REAL libraries, or on a work that benefits real people.


Presidential libraries are enormous PR machines, dedicated not to the pursuit of truth but to the preservation of said president's "legacy." It reminds me uncomfortably of the Roman custom of making gods of emperors, even while they are still alive. Material critical of the holy one's career is supressed or de-emphasized. How can you objectively criticize a god, which is apparently what these ex-presidents think they are? (Exhibit A: Jimmy Carter) You can't--it would be heresy.

Better to have the national archives preserve presidential papers--isn't that what they are for?

Ht to Roger L Simon.

Royalties!


I actually got a check from my publisher for royalties! The checks keep getting smaller, but they are such an unexpected treat!

I've been getting them for 5 or 6 years now. I've generally spent the money on electronics. The first check was enough to buy me my first computer. Later, I purchased a digital camera. The latest check might cover a couple of printer cartridges. I note with interest, however, that the book now sells for $81 new.

Monday, December 17, 2007

A history game

It's tough to be king.

Saturday, December 15, 2007

Family story

This (reprised)story is true. Only the names have been changed to protect the innocent.

When my Uncle Doc got out of medical school and finally had two pennies to rub together, he bought his mother a fancy watch. I believe it was a Patek Philippe. None of us ever saw her wearing or consulting the watch, which really didn't go with Bubbe's style, which was that she didn't have any.

Bubbe was of the old school which believed that when a woman got old she was, for all ornamental purposes, dead. She had long grey hair parted in the middle and pulled into a bun in back. Her closet contained three dresses, one black and two navy blue. One of the navy ones had little flowers on it.

She had a couple of housedresses for daily wear. Housedresses are to dresses as paper plates are to bone china. She owned a cardigan sweater, navy blue. Sturdy shoes with one inch heels that laced up completed the ensemble, along with some industrial strength underwear. Her stockings were made of something called lisle. With this wardrobe, Bubbe was good to go to anything from a bar mitzvah to a coronation.

So anyway, she had this fancy Swiss watch, which no one knew about but Uncle Doc. It was too good to use.

Picture a calendar with pages falling from it, indicating that thirty years have passed. Bubbe dies. My mother, who owned her mother's house, was in no hurry to clean it out, sort everything, etc. So eventually Aunt Rose decided to go over there and see what was what.

At that point, Patek Philippe re-entered our lives. Seems Aunt Rose discovered the watch and gave it to her daughter, Esther. Without even consulting Uncle Doc!

Esther even took the watch back to Pittsburgh, where she was living. And when burglars broke into her house and stole the watch, Esther put in a claim to the insurance company.

Uncle Doc told me this story in a tone of high dudgeon. Apparently he felt a bond to this timepiece which not even death could sever. He considered the watch a permanent loan. You know, like when a rich person gives something to a museum to display but keeps title to it. Apparently he thought the watch should have reverted to him and felt ill used.

When he told me this story, I suggested he should have told Rose, or Esther, that he wanted the watch. He was unwilling to come off his high horse, but started treating Esther with cold formality whenever he ran into her, which was often, since this branch of the family are in each other's pockets and scarcely a day goes by when they are not communicating with each other.

So Esther innocently started to wonder what she had done to make him mad. But she wouldn't ask, and he wouldn't have told her anyway. And so it went, until Alzheimer's took over Uncle Doc's memory and he mercifully forgot all about the watch, along with a lot of other things.

Friday, December 14, 2007

Non-committal holiday cards




I'm all tuckered out from sending out a few Christmas--oops--holiday cards. First I had to go to the Post Office early because they run out of Christmas--I mean holiday--stamps rather early. I scored some stamps (utterly inoffensive religiously). I can't remember what they had on them, frankly, because I put them away safely, never to be found again.

I prepared myself by purchasing cards free of baby Jesus (of course), holly, mistletoe, picturesque churches in the snow, picturesque houses in the snow with wreaths on the door (see holly and mistletoe, above), angels with trumpets, and other undesirable Christian symbols. Also notably absent were menorahs, six-pointed stars, Israeli flags, dreidels, and kiddush cups. I'm not giving away the secret of what pictures were on these cards; do your own research.

Not having the Christmas non-denominational stamps at hand, I had to make do with Ella Fitzgerald which I was saving because I like her singing. Then I remembered that Ella was only worth 39 cents while postage had gone up to 41 cents. So each Ella was accompanied by a Liberty Bell, just to be safe.

I printed up labels, then had to make choices: should I send greetings to the next-door neighbors? My old next-door neighbors? What about the former colleague who I haven't seen in about five years, but who always sends me a card? And the good friend who never sends cards anymore because she says her life is too dull to write about?

I decided to send cards definitely to those who send pictures of their cute, winsome children every year. I keep these in an album entitled "Other People's Children." When the children reach the age of 22, I stop keeping them, no matter how winsome.

With all these decisions behind me, I put all the cards out for the mailman. Done for this year, thank (God of your denomination or any deity you think deserves thanks). If you are a Unitarian and/or don't believe in God, I thank Mother Earth.

Thursday, December 13, 2007

My own personal ice storm





It was a long, long time ago, and we were living in an out-of-the-way place in upstate New York. All afternoon glop poured out of the sky,looking like liquid ice or frozen rain, until the tree branches outside my window were covered with ice. It was very pretty, until night came and the power went off. Mr C got bundled up and was about to go outside to see what was going on when the phone rang. A neighbor informed us that there was a power line down right in front of my front door. Thank God he did not go.

Since the furnace required electricity to start, heat immediately stopped coming up. We put on all the clothes we could find and crawled into bed. The next day, it became clear we could not stay in the house, so we bundled up the kids and went to stay with a colleague of Mr C who kindly invited us. Their house was charming, but full of antiques and no place for two little kids aged 5 and 2.

Tree branches were falling all over the area, weighed down with heavy coatings of ice, destroying power lines. Roads were blocked as well. The local power company was overwhelmed. Crews had to be sent in from all over the state, and even so, power was not restored to everyone for eight days. We were one of the last to have our power restored. I said we were living in an out-of-the-way place, didn't I? The repair crews couldn't find us for a long, long time.

I ended up with a serious kidney infection and a hatred for living in the country, which persists to this day. i'm not too crazy about upstate New York either.

Tuesday, December 11, 2007

Reprise of a Yiddish lesson

I thought this bore repeating:

I have been reliably informed that there are people in this country who don't know what oy vey means.

True story: when I was in the hospital right after knee surgery, the woman in the next bed kept up a constant moaning of oy vey, or sometimes just oy, the lite version. When I mentioned this to my father, who came to visit me, he protested, "But she's black."

Nevertheless, I heard her say oy vey for about 18 hours. The other six of the 24 were given over to exhortations to Jesus.

My Swedish-Scotch-Irish-possibly German son-in-law says it in a midwestern accent.

Oy vey is the international language of woe. In fact, I believe it can be translated roughly as "Woe is me." It expresses misery, pain, dismay, the whole tragic view of life. Saying oy vey over and over is called "kvetching." But lets not get into that.

Who runs this country?

It should be the president:

The Constitution is the [social]Contract. It is the highest law of the land. Yet somehow we have allowed the Central Intelligence Agency and the State Department to become the fourth and fifth branches of government, respectively; the "Intelligence community" has been allowed to become a KGB-like government in and of itself, answerable to no one. It is time to bring these cowboys back down to Earth, and within the appropriate bounds of Constitutional authority....

The first step is to elect a leader who will take his oath to uphold the Constitution seriously, and who will be willing to take whatever steps necessary to wipe the slate clean in both agencies. The President is entitled to an Intelligence Community that serves solely at the whim of the Executive Branch, and answers to no one else. And in our Constitution, the President IS the Executive Branch, not the CIA or State Department, or any other agency within the Executive bureaucracy with a different agenda. This NIE fiasco, the leaks to the NY Times re: secret terror monitoring methods, the Plame/Wilson joke--all these are little more than bureaucrats trying to sabotage a President. But the threat is not only to the President's authority--during a time of War, the threat is to our very lives. If Iran or its agents detonate a nuke in the US or Isreal (sic)or Europe, and we did nothing to stop it beforehand, all because a ridiculous political NIE was allowed to surface, then whose hands will the blood of the tens of thousands of casualties be on? This is not a game: we are at War and it is our lives and the lives of millions of innocents which are being placed in harm's way by these partisan bureaucrats. Our Intelligence agencies are out of control. It is madness and it is suicidal; and quite frankly, it has to be stopped.

What is needed is to get a President that will "man up" and to do the difficult work of cleaning house in these bureaucracies, before they swallow whole the rest of us. We need to elect someone with the cojones and determination to take on these traitors within, even if it means tearing the agencies down to nothing and starting over again. Because when rogue operatives in our Intelligence community are permitted (and even encouraged by Democrats and the media...) to actively engage in sabotaging a President's ability to function as THE Executive Branch, we no longer have a functioning Executive Branch. And we no longer are living under the social contract of the Constitution.

Monday, December 10, 2007

If you have an Arab for a friend, you don't need any enemies

The Palis are double-crossed, again.

The Palestinian Authority had made a special arrangement with Israel to allow 2,000 Palestinians to leave Gaza in order to make the hajj, or pilgrimage to Mecca. These Gazans were to leave Israel by way of the Kerem Shalom crossing in Gaza and the Allenby Bridge crossing in the West Bank, their PA-organized travel meant to show the residents of Gaza that Mahmoud Abbas can make things happen for them — in contrast to Hamas. But Cairo and Riyadh had made their own special arrangement with Hamas.


Read the whole thing.

You call those property taxes?

Paul Smith thinks his property taxes in New Castle County are too high.

From my perspective, New Castle County taxes are downright amusing, amounting to just a bit more than the tip I give the mailman each Christmas.

You need to live, or have lived, in New Jersey, to appreciate property taxes. Now we lived in a perfectly adequate house in Passaic County. You might even call it a nice house, although it needed new windows and a furnace. It was not a spectacular house, or an extremely nice house, just a house.

For the privilege of living in said house, we paid more than $9,000 in property taxes. This was okay while I was working, but when I retired I earned about half of what I had formerly been paid. It appeared that I would have to get another full-time job and maybe some part-time work to continue to live in this perfectly adequate house, which would shortly need new windows and a new furnace. (The roof was pretty old too.)

So I figured out that if we moved to Delaware we would save enough to pay for me and Mr Charm to go to Europe every year on a nice tour. I thought Sicily would be nice, for a start.

We moved, and I'm glad. At least the bills and the income match each month. In other words, I don't run out of money before I run out of month, most of the time.

As for Sicily, I haven't been there yet. But I have hopes.

Welcome, Dr Sanity readers!

Thursday, December 06, 2007

A modern dilemma

From kesher talk.

Chanukah and the spelling problem


Just because I'm Jewish, people are always asking me how to spell Chanukah. Well, it is spelled correctly in the above picture. In other words, the word is Hebrew and is properly spelled in Hebrew, so any way you want to spell it in English is okay as long as readers can understand what you're referring to.

In my household of origin, Chanukah was celebrated with what can best be described as torpor. Someone lighted the candles, unless they forgot. Dreidels were also involved somehow, but no one could quite figure out the rules so our dreidel games were of short duration. Potato pancakes were sometimes on the menu. Or not. Once in a while some relative would remember the true meaning of the holiday--giving money to children--and slip me a couple of bucks.

This holiday by no means has as many bells and whistles as Christmas, no matter how you tart it up. My suggestion: light the candles, get out the dreidel, fry the pancakes, and give the children money. Chocolates are good too.

Wednesday, December 05, 2007

A call for love

A middle-aged woman and a slightly younger man were talking in the gym the other day about the hostage-taker in Hillary's New Hampshire headquarters. The man had an explanation: "Every action is either an act of love or a call for love."

Older lady: "Oh, my my! Is that so?"

The man then proceeded to hog the piece of equipment which, as it happens, I was waiting for. Was that an act of love or a call for love?

It's snowing here



I had to go to the grocery store today. It was, of course, full of all the little old ladies and old guys who go to the grocery store only when it snows. I had an excuse--I am having company over the weekend, so I don't count.

The dairy shelves, particularly, looked as if they had been visited by a joint committee of Vandals, Goths, and Visigoths. Store employees were re-stocking as fast as they could.

Why do some people only buy milk, eggs, and bread when it snows? Is there some kind of an atavistic urge to to make bread pudding in bad weather?

Monday, December 03, 2007

Help!

I have received several e-mails from readers who have tried to access my site and been re-directed to blogxchng.com, curse it, whatever that is. Meanwhile, comments have dried up. Blogger has not been helpful.

If you are having a problem accessing my site, let me know. My e-mail is bentheo@verizon.net.

Thanks,

Miriam

Sunday, December 02, 2007

Saturday, December 01, 2007

Lo, the poor immigrant...

Welcome to Insanities readers!

From the News Journal, a sad case:

During her two-and-a-half days in police custody, all Maria Navarro-Luna could think about was her injured 7-year-old daughter....

Those who know Navarro-Luna say she is a wonderful mother, always preoccupied with providing the best for her children.


The mystery gets deeper:

They can't understand why Navarro-Luna, 31, was arrested earlier this week on two counts of endangering the welfare of a child after a June accident in which she and two of her children were struck by a truck while jaywalking across busy U.S. 40. Seven-year-old Dulce Maria -- "Sweet Maria" in Spanish -- was taken to Alfred I. duPont Hospital for Children, comatose. Her 16-month-old sister, Lucero Maria, whom Navarro-Luna had been pushing in a stroller, died.


Well, I've put my gigantic brain to the task, and I think I have the motive for the government's malign treatment of this magical mom: she was jaywalking across a busy highway with two children in tow!

Is that dumb or what? Does it perhaps display poor judgment?

If she were our own native-born admitted doofus, Britney Spears, it would be the work of a moment to revoke custody. In fact, Britney lost custody of her children, despite her money and fame.

Maria Navarro-Luna is a piss-poor mother who already caused the death of one of her children. What in the world would she do with custody of the other one--run across I-95 with her?

Obviously, Sudan is heaven on earth...

If naming a teddy bear Muhammed is the worst thing that ever happened in that country, they are lucky indeed.

Wait, you say--they have wars there and are killing each other? Were any teddy bears implicated in the violence?