Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Genealogy

I've been doing a bit of genealogical research lately. Traced my father's father back to Hungary, where I was stopped dead. My father's mother came from a large family, but no trace of them. Everyone on both sides of my family changed their names, which doesn't make it easy. My father's sister was Julia in Hungary, but was transmogrified to Helen here. His brother Gersh became Andy.

My dad's father was known as Wolf when he came to this country, but soon became William P. A friend suggested that wolf was a translation of Zev, and what do you know, he was buried under the name of Schlomo Ze'ev ben Rab Ya'akov. This indicates that his (Wolf or William) father was a rabbi. But I always understood he was an orphan.

My mother's father had a couple of brothers named Feibel and Velvel. I found immigration records for them and they then disappeared into history.

I was contacted by someone else who shares some of my relatives; I'll call him Steve. Steve was able to give me some information which was interesting about a cousin of mine. Then he started discovering new and distinguished ancestors of dubious provenance: Eleanor of Aquitaine, for instance. Except for a gap of a century or two which somehow got lost, Steve claims relationship to her and to various other august personages.

Not me. All my ancestors were mediocre and respectable.

Does Romney remind anyone else of Dudley Do Right?

The TSA strikes again.

I don't think they were purposely being mean, they were just "doing their job." They probably didn't want to "get in trouble." This is how the government handles everything. Independent thought is dangerous in a government job. The government is a blunt weapon. Its methods--no doubt comprising pages and pages of procedural rules--are akin to performing brain surgery with a broomstick.

Monday, June 27, 2011

Curses on Mozilla

Every time I upgrade Mozilla Firefox, all my bookmarks vanish forever, along with the toolbar. I can't even download new apps to restore the toolbar. Internet surfing without toolbars or bookmarks is like taking a shower in a raincoat. I hate you, Mozilla Firefox, you dumb asses.

Saturday, June 25, 2011

How to lose weight

Now that Mr Charm is being rehabbed and I don't have to cook for him, it's an ideal time to tackle that weight loss diet.

Here's how a proper, healthy, but low calorie diet plan works.
1. Plan meals.

2. Buy healthy food, like veggies. Spend time selecting the most luscious, freshest produce.
3. Spend hours assembling, dicing, chopping and stirring really yummy meals.
4. Eat yummy meal.
4. Clean up mess in kitchen.

But this is what I usually do:
1. Go to frozen food department, fill basket and get out of there in 10 minutes
2. Microwave something.
3. Eat not so yummy but admittedly convenient meal.
4. Throw out box.

I get a new car

 


But this isn't it.

Doing my bit for the country's economy, I finally got my first new car--a Nissan Sentra, just what I had always wanted. It has everything--GPS, Bluetooth, power this, power that! Cupholders in the back seat! Car payments!
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Friday, June 24, 2011

Why I love my brother

 



That's him, holding my hand.

This picture was on display at a memorial service for my father, which the whole family attended.

He told everyone who would listen, "Miriam was really gorgeous in those days--I'm not kidding." He is so loyal, I could probably shoot him or set fire to his hair and he wouldn't hold it against me.
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Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Making really wonderful pizza

Much to-do about pizza  from Ann Althouse, re a gushing article in the New York Times:


Heat the oven and pizza stone at 500 degrees for one hour (if using a baking sheet, heat it for 30 minutes). Roll out the dough and top your pizza, then slide it onto the pizza stone or baking sheet. Bake it for three minutes.

And then you have--pizza! Yes, the same mediocre fare you can get delivered all over New York City in 30 minutes! Or you could go out to a local pizzeria!

Pizza is pizza. There's a limit to how good it can be, and no matter how good it is, it's pizza! Pizza can only reach a certain level of wonderfulness, it's not pate de fois gras.

What next; making your own Wonder Bread?

Monday, June 20, 2011

The money just keeps rolling in

MONTH OF JUNE ONLINE LOTTO AND GAMING CORPORATION.

WINNING NUMBER: OL/656/020/012

OUR DEAR WINNER,

THIS IS TO NOTIFY YOU THAT YOUR EMAIL ADDRESS HAS WON ONLINE LOTTO AND GAMING CORPORATION SUM OF (ONE MILLION EURO), THIS ONLINE LOTTO AND GAMING CORPORATION PROGRAM WAS MADE POSSIBLE BY GROUPS OF INTERNATIONAL COMPANIES THAT DO ADVERTISEMENTS ON THE INTERNET TO APPRECIATE EMAIL USERS.

ALL THE E-MAIL ADDRESSES USED FOR THIS ONLINE LOTTO AND GAMING CORPORATION PROGRAM WAS SELECTED THROUGH ELECTRONIC BALLOTING SYSTEM OF INTERNET E-MAIL USERS, FROM WHICH YOUR E-MAIL ADDRESS CAME OUT AS THE WINNING COUPON.

WE THEREBY CONTACT YOU TO CLAIM YOUR WINNING AMOUNT QUICKLY AS THIS IS A MONTHLY LOTTERY. FAILURE TO CLAIM YOUR WINNING WILL RESULT INTO THE REVERSION OF OUR FOLLOWING MONTH LOTTERY. (THE EXPIRATION DATE IS 30TH OF JUNE). PLEASE CONTACT OUR APPROVED AGENT BELOW WITH YOUR WINNING NUMBER ABOVE.

ONLINE LOTTO AND GAMING CORPORATION AGENCY.
MRS. ANA PAULA FILIPE.
(DIRECTOR OF WINNING CLAIMS DEPARTMENT).
TEL: +31-622-915-948
E-MAIL: globalworld2009@aim.com

WARNING: YOU ARE TO KEEP EVERYTHING ABOUT THIS YOUR WINNING PRIVATE, UNTIL YOU RECEIVE YOUR WINNING PRIZE BY THIS ONLINE LOTTO AND GAMING CORPORATION PAYING BANK, CONTROVERSIAL CLAIM WILL LEAD TO DISQUALIFICATION. BE WARNED.

REGARDS,

MRS. MANUELA JOHNSON.
(DIRECTOR OF ONLINE LOTTO AND GAMING CORPORATION)
And I didn't even buy a ticket!

Thursday, June 16, 2011

At the orthopedist's office

As many of my diehard fans know, Mr Charm has a broken leg for which he is getting rehabbed. To check on his progress, we had an appointment with the orthopedist who inserted unspecified metal parts in his leg.

He made the trip in a wheelchair--he still can't walk any distance. The doctor's waiting room looked like the ante-chamber to the Miracle Department at Lourdes--casts, crutches, splints, bandages and wheelchairs were the order of the day. To make the visit more memorable, the outer office featured a non-accessible door, and the inner office, where the great man and his acolytes dispense wisdom, also has a non-accessible door. These inconvenient doors were each in a tight corner, making them even more challenging for the halt and the lame. The only thing missing was a spiral staircase.

Fortunately, a couple of the able-bodied patients or their companions held the doors for us.

The inner office is decorated with pictures of various bones you might break if so inclined. I made a note to myself to avoid breaking any of them if at all possible.

Mr Charm's leg is coming along nicely.

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Deja vu all over again

Obama wants Puerto Rico to have a referendum on whether they want statehood or what. It seems we did this already, didn't we? Are we just going to continue to hold these referendums (referenda?) until the Puerto Ricans decide the matter in the "right" way, or to Obama's satisfaction?

I thought these matters were decided once and for all. Puerto Rico had a referendum. They decided on their current status. It's over. They don't vote for president. And they don't pay income tax. A trade-ff they are probably glad to make.

Are we going to allow Arizona--for instance--to decide whether they still want to be a State, or if not, what they would like to do? Perhaps they would like to be a province of Canada or Brazil. Why not? Oh, I forgot--the Civil War.

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Don't take my Weiner away from me

My father died in April, my husband broke his leg and my portfolio has taken a nose dive...The only source of innocent merriment available to me has been The Weiner Story, the unfolding of which took my mind off all this stuff.

Now President Obama wants Weiner to resign! Let Weiner remain in Congress--he is the gift that keeps on giving.

The money from Internet scammers...

just keeps rolling in.

I received this e-mail this morning:

We wish to inform you that We have sent $5000.00 USD already ,that was
given to you by the European Union, as we are mandated to send you the
total sum of $300,000USD through Western Union.send name, address,phone
number.Processing your first payment of 5,000 USD.to collect /
Sender;s first name:Nelson last name:Rowland Mtcn: 2774950359

You are required to check your transfer status online at our link for
confirmation by clicking on the link below:
https://wumt.westernunion.com/asp/orderstatus.asp?country=global

Regards
Rev Jose Alex
Phone:+447424262370
E-mail: western.uniondept1@helixnet.cn

Gosh.

Friday, June 10, 2011

About government corruption

I'm reading a book called "Jersey Sting," about a bunch of crooked government officials and others who were caught in a sting in--believe it or not--New Jersey.

It is totally understandable how a situation like this comes about.  Our elected representatives--municipal, state, federal--makes laws, which are then interpreted by unelected bureaucrats, which create rules about zoning, safety, etc, which makes accomplishing anything slower and more expensive for business.  The creators of capital who want to build something realize that the only way to get anything done is to bribe the bureaucrats and politicians.  So they do, and projects go forward.  And everyone is happy, until they all get arrested and go to jail.

Don't get me wrong.  The crooks, particularly the elected ones, are betraying a public trust and richly deserve to go to jail.   But the system as it stands is an invitation to corruption which few can resist.

Incorruptible government officials are often worse.  My friend who wanted to build a house on acreage she owned in California was thwarted by a bureaucrat who arbitrarily denied her request and made it stick.  Perhaps she should have bribed him, but did not, but  he was implacably opposed to her project and was able to prevail.  So my friend now owns a piece of expensive land that is essentially useless to her.

Couldn't some of this be avoided by having fewer public officials, any of whom can throw a monkey wrench into any  plan?

And then there the environmentalists and the NIMBY folks.  Sigh.

Thursday, June 09, 2011

Musical notations for life

Very useful.

Especially  grumposo and grumposo ma non troppo.

From willtypeforfood.

Wednesday, June 08, 2011

Teaching hospitals can kill you

This has a special resonance with me, as a teaching hospital recently killed my father.  True, he was 99 and needed a pacemaker; but did he really need one that was infected due to carelessness?

There is ample evidence that this infection killed him; his body, at his age, could not fight off the infection.

What angers me is that the lounge chair in which they had placed him had a thick layer of dust on its platform.  When I mentioned this to one of the nurses, she stated, "That is not our first priority,"  the inference being that she was too busy saving lives to worry about mere cleanliness and did not need to be taught her work by clods such as me.

I also noticed hospital personnel coming and going from his room without gloving or sanitizing their hands.

Isn't scrupulous cleanliness the minimum one can expect from a hospital?

Library satisfaction

There is a new survey on job satisfaction at Library Journal, and it led me to ponder a library personnel issue: full-timers vs part-timers.  To put it in more understandable terms, there is plenty of gravy to go around, but it's not on everybody's mashed potatoes.

The only libraries I know are in New Jersey, so my conclusions are strictly about that state.  Benefits were generous at most libraries I've dealt with in 28 years of library administration.  For professionals, 20 days vacation to start, 15 paid holidays, 15 days of cumulative sick leave.  Add to this enrollment in the pension system, paid health insurance, and the availability of deferred tax accounts, and you have another 30-40 percent of non-taxable income.  Not bad.

Full-time non-professionals don't get quite as many vacation days, but otherwise the benefits are the same.  In addition, if your library has civil service status, you are virtually fireproof, except for egregious misbehavior.

For part-timers, nothing is guaranteed.  New Jersey insists that employees earning over a certain amount must be enrolled in the pension plan, unless they are temporary.  High school students, for example.  Under civil service rules, there are procedures for firing staffers, but they don't have to be fired, their hours can be cut to almost zero.  No vacation, no sick leave, no anything.  Libraries have been known to hire two employees who each work 20 hours a week so as to avoid offering benefits to either.  Their pay is abysmal, too.

This  is analogous to the faculty situation in universities, where tenured professors teach two courses each while adjuncts do all the heavy lifting.  The adjuncts, meanwhile, have about as much chance of gaining tenured status as they do of winning the lottery--no, make that the Irish Sweepstakes.

Is it any wonder that these serfs and vassals are joining unions to get a fair shake?

Tuesday, June 07, 2011

An ominous sound

I came home on Sunday afternoon to an ominous sound.  A noise, sounding like a cross between an off-balance clothes dryer and  a  power lawnmower, threatened to shake the house down.

My attitude toward household appliances combines utter dependence  with fear and loathing.  The basement is usually the venue where ghastly noises originated.  But all the appliances were sitting there looking innocent.  There was no water on the floor. The central air conditioner was softly huffing, but it was a hot day, so it had an alibi.  I looked at the circuit breaker box, but all was calm there.

Was one of the neighbors was mowing their lawn with a clothes dryer?   Then again, maybe the sound would go away--denial works wonders, at least in the short run.  I heard it a few more times, then it stopped, an encouraging  sign.  Whatever it was, maybe I had been hearing its death throes.

That night, as I was preparing for bed, the racket resumed.  It was louder in my clothes closet.  The plumbing works are inside the walls, where they can't be seen, aren't they?  I decided to call the plumber in the morning.

After a night of broken sleep being serenaded by the sinister appliance six or seven times, I thought of the attic fan which supposedly exists, if the previous owner was to be believed. I had never heard the thing operate, and the rooms upstairs are  hotter than the downstairs ones, so I had forgotten about it.   In the 28 years we owned our New Jersey house, I had never gone into the attic, although Mr Charm had.  He described it as a hot, stuffy, low-cieilinged crawl space.

I finally found an attic fan contractor who is coming Friday, either to fix the thing or put it out of its misery.  Meanwhile, the noise is gone.  For now.

Sunday, June 05, 2011

Fraters Libertas: There's A Program For That

Fraters Libertas: There's A Program For That

I think there's a simpler reason for all the testing.  Follow the money.  The schools get more money for "special needs" children, so there is a temptation to place more and more children in that category.  Good idea for school district.  Not a good idea for the child.

A friend of mine who is a school psychologist told me that if a kid is pigeonholed into one of these programs it is impossible to get out.  The tag sticks to the child through his whole academic career and he is labeled a "problem," or "learning-disabled" when he is no such thing.

A Valentine out of season

This is a love letter to the Delaware Symphony.  The season just completed was an artistic triumph. Their performance of Mahler's Second (Resurrection)Symphony was awesome, a word I don't use lightly.  It was one of the most moving orchestral performances I've ever heard and invites comparison with the very best orchestras in the world, like the New York Philharmonic or the Boston Symphony, even though the Delaware's resources don't come close to matching those of the bigger, wealthier groups.

Residents of Delaware, do you know what a jewel you have?  Please support the orchestra, and even better, purchase a season's ticket for the upcoming season.  You'll be glad you did!

Polishing dog turds.

Saturday, June 04, 2011

How many ways can you say broccoli?

Broccoli is very big these days, in many guises.  I've had it raw, I've had it cooked.  Sauteed with baby carrots.  Some of it is purple, some has been mated with cauliflower. Broccolini is everywhere.  Broccoli shoots ditto.  But the other day, I was served something broccolish which I did not recognize.  It consisted of little knobs, half the size of Brussels sprouts.  Since it was served with butter and pancetta, it tasted pretty good.  Turns out it was baby broccoflower.

What is next for the broccoli family?  I await developments.

A mistake to prosecute John Edwards?

I will leave it to the legal pundits to disentangle this one.  Instead, I'd like to ask a question first poised by our beloved President:  "Isn't it ever possible to have enough money?"  The answer clearly is no, since no wealthy person ever wants to shell out his own money for anything if it is possible to avoid it.

John Edwards paid upwards of $200 for a haircut.  Couldn't he have rented a cozy love nest for his girlfiriend out of his personal funds?  The man had the largest house in North Carolina! *

*Or was it South Carolina?

Friday, June 03, 2011

The Anthony Weiner situation

Aren't tightie-whities supposed to be white?

Wednesday, June 01, 2011

This is pleasant news

A garden to comfort relatives of fallen soldiers.