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Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Bad bunny


What on earth did this bunny do, to cause his owners to string him up?
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Saturday, March 28, 2009

I swear I will not write about male undergarments again

after this.

Stink free underwear

The Japanese are testing “stink-free” underwear on the space station. Reuters reports that Koichi Wakata is trying them out the “J-ware”:

“He can wear his trunks (underwear) more than a week,” said Koji Yanagawa, an official with the Japanese Aerospace Exploration Agency.

Wakata’s clothes, developed by researcher Yoshiko Taya, are designed to kill bacteria, absorb water, insulate the body and dry quickly. They also are flame-resistant and anti-static, not to mention comfortable and stylish.

H t to Basil.

Friday, March 27, 2009

A women's seder

I went to a women's seder last night. The atmosphere was pleasant and friendly. The food was pretty good, too--always a good sign.

But what really moved me was the prayers, Torah passages and psalms. They are so beautiful--noble and profound. These words were written down so long ago, and despite every adverse circumstance, they have been preserved and repeated for centuries.

I'm a great skeptic. I find it difficult, as my life plays itself out, to believe there is anything but a great Indifference in the universe. It would be nice to believe in something, but most religious beliefs seem so far-fetched.

And yet, there are still Jews in the world, and every year they still celebrate their deliverance, despite all the hatred and genocide they have endured through the centuries--and continue to endure. The continued existence of this people seems to sugggest that the unlikeliest things can be true, perhaps.

Another figure from the painting, "Trio"

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A portion of my painting, "Trio."
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Thursday, March 26, 2009

Tuesday was not my lucky day

Mr Charm was not doing too well....
No-one was returning my phone calls....
I parked in the street, at a meter. When I came to get the car, my cell phone fell under the car. I had to pull the car out and stop in traffic in the middle of the street, to pick it up. Then I noticed a parking ticket under the windshield.

I got home to receive another disconnect notice from Verizon. As I had paid them over a week ago, I was steamed.

Oh, well, we're all still alive.

Friday, March 20, 2009

Happy birthday to me--not

Another monumental sucky birthday. Not only is it the anniversary of my mother's death, but Mr Charm is in the hospital--serious stuff.

I don't have much loyalty to a particular place---nowhere is home, except where he and I are together.

How quickly things change: you're just starting to enjoy something, and it's gone.

Prayers, please, all you rock-ribbed Christian right wing nuts who actually read this stuff.

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

Portrait of three vegetables

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New Castle honors Vietnam vets


Memorial in Brandywine Park, Wilmington DE, photographed 3/17/2009
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Monday, March 16, 2009

The emergency ward

I had occasion to spend some time in the emergency ward of a downtown Wilmington Hopital. The daytime group was evidently made up of persons who consider this service a substitute for making an appointment with a regular doctor, and don't mind wasting three hours waiting to be seen, mostly mothers, children, and old people. The medical personnel were patient, sorting out those who had true emergencies and dealing with them first, but eventually getting to everyone. It was a very patient and orderly crowd.

At night it was a different story. For one thing, there were trauma injuries, some from car accidents or bar fights. I saw one young man with a bleeding head injury that was scary looking but possibly not as bad as it looked. There was more injury in the night crowd. They were younger and tougher looking: definitely the huddled masses yearning to breathe free. They also had worse injuries and the pace had picked up. More repressed anxiety. Still a three-hour wait, though. The scene was worthy of Goya.

Coming from a New Jersey hospital in a wealthy suburban setting, I had never seen anything like this: platoons of patients. It was an eye-opener.

Sunday, March 15, 2009

The taxpayer's club holds their annual meeting

Washington, DC, April 15, 2012. Since President Obama and the Democratic Congress passed the Budget Omnibus Bill of 2011, the number of people who actually pay taxes has dwindled to .000012 of the population, making it possible for all of the actual taxpayers to convene in one room, albeit a banquet hall.

Featured speakers were Bill Gates, Warren Buffett, and the guy who owns all those parking lots at airports.

Unfortunately, there were a large number of demonstrators outside the hotel where the event was held. They held handmade signs reading, "More medical care for less money," "How would you rich guys try to live 15 years on my lousy welfare check?" and "Free plastic surgery for all." The fellow carrying the sign protesting paying 80 percent of his wages for Social Security arrived on his $20 bicycle, having scrapped his car when gasoline reached $100 a gallon.

Friday, March 13, 2009

Chuckie Cheese is a behavioral sink

And I thought it was good clean entertainment!

In Brookfield, Wis., no restaurant has triggered more calls to the police department since last year than Chuck E. Cheese's.

Officers have been called to break up 12 fights, some of them physical, at the child-oriented pizza parlor since January 2007. The biggest melee broke out in April, when an uninvited adult disrupted a child's birthday party. Seven officers arrived and found as many as 40 people knocking over chairs and yelling in front of the restaurant's music stage, where a robotic singing chicken and the chain's namesake mouse perform.

Chuck E. Cheese's bills itself as a place "where a kid can be a kid." But to law-enforcement officials across the country, it has a more particular distinction: the scene of a surprising amount of disorderly conduct and battery among grown-ups.

"The biggest problem is you have a bunch of adults acting like juveniles," says Town of Brookfield Police Capt. Timothy Imler. "There's a biker bar down the street, and we rarely get calls there."

I've only been to Mr Cheese's establishment twice and nothing could induce me to visit it again. Simply, I don't like places where children run wild, such as the aforementioned C Cheese, the Liberty Science Center, or any children's museum in the country you want to name. I'm all for repressing the natural instincts of children to run wild. They need to be civilized, sooner rather than later.

The best part of the whole thing? Construction of two new Chuckie establishments in Lima, OH is subsidized by tax dollars from the State of Ohio.

Thursday, March 12, 2009

Bernie Madoff is going to jail

He's going straight from the courtroom.

Cheer up, Bernie! Eric Holder is still on the scene. Maybe he can get you the same deal he got Marc Rich.

Rich was trading with the enemy. All Bernie was doing was what Barack Obama wants to do--fleecing the rich. After all, anybody who has a million dollars or more got it from stealing from the middle class, didn't they?

Tuesday, March 10, 2009

A musical note

I attended a concert Sunday--Mahler's Das Klagende Lied. To the Philadelphia Orchestra's credit, they have been playing a lot of Mahler recently.

From the program:

The work is scored for three flutes (II and III doubling piccolo), one offstage piccolo, two offstage flutes, two oboes, English horn, two clarinets, bass clarinet, two offstage clarinets, two offstage E-flat clarinets, three bassoons, three offstage bassoons, four horns, four trumpets, two offstage E-flat trumpets, four offstage flugel, three trombones, two tubas, timpani, percussion (bass drum, cymbals, tam-tam, triangle), six harps, strings, soprano, mezzo-soprano, tenor and bass soloists, boy soprano, boy alto, and mixed chorus.

Musicians must have worked cheap in Old Vienna.

Monday, March 09, 2009

What good are the humanities?

In this article, the case is made that PC has made the humanities dreadful and irrelevant to students. I won't argue with that.

Ms Cohen says that the "critical thinking, civic and historical knowledge and ethical reasoning that the humanities develop... are prerequisites for personal growth and participation in a free democracy," and of course I'd be happy to join her in that view of the humanities. But in saying so she seems completely out of touch with what is really happening in college humanities courses, for it is not this. Doesn't she know that civic and historical knowledge of American history and institutions is at a low ebb precisely because that knowledge does not mesh with the dominant politically correct ethos of the professoriate?

Also true, at least at some times and in some places.

But I reject the notion that the humanities are some particularly nasty-tasting medicine that the student takes because it makes him a better person, for his mental health, so to speak--for "personal growth," a tiresome phrase that reminds me of granola and whole wheat bread without additives.

I don't agree with that view. I regret many things I've done in my life, but I don't regret spending four years reading great literature. I enjoyed it, but I don't believe it taught me wisdom or goodness. Life teaches you those things, to the extent you can learn them. When I was 20 I had read all of Shakespeare's plays but I couldn't say boo to a goose.

Shakespeare and the rest don't need me to argue their case. Great art gives great pleasure.


When I was a child, I longed to be able to curse, it seemed so grown up. Mother told me I could not include curses in my vocabulary. I was too young to use bad language. She was evasive when I asked her how old I had to be, and I never got a satisfactory answer.

Bubbe did not use profanity but wished horrible fates on those who won her disfavor. One of her favorites suggested that the person she was angry with should go with his/her feet in the church and head in hell. Gay in dererd simply meant go to hell. Or she would wish cholera on people--a chalerya auf im! or she would wish a klog on someone. My Yiddish-English dictionary defines klog as a "lamentation," but as she used it, I would guess it meant curse.

She had lots of disparaging names in her arsenal: bahama (from the Biblical Behemoth," was literally a cow, but figuratively, a clumsy oaf. A naar was a dumbbell; mamzer was a really bad word, meaning a bastard, a gonif was a thief. A child who wouldn't sit still had shpilkes in toches (ants in her pants). A person who wouldn't listen was a goyishe kop, which translates into--well, it's hard to translate, but it's not good.

These are just a few I remember offhand, but bubbe know plenty more and was never at a loss for words.

Saturday, March 07, 2009

The Itiderod race started today

I have never been particularly interested, until I read a book called "Murder on the Itiderod trail by Sue Henry.

The Iditarod Trail Sled Dog Race got off to its ceremonial start Saturday in Anchorage, Alaska, with mushers and their dogs going on short runs through the city.

The grueling 1,150-mile trek to Nome begins in earnest tomorrow with 67 mushers and more than 1,000 dogs competing, but intrigue and controversy are already mounting.

-- The recession has hit the famous race, with entrance fees rising as the purse declines to $610,000 from $935,000 last year. Fewer mushers are competing this year, with some saying the expense of training in tough economic times caused them to sit out.

Thursday, March 05, 2009


I have been cranky lately. I've been living in Toe World, with a bandage and a weird shoe. Sitting in the foot doctor's office, waiting to be seen, I was left to reflect on the decor's total lack of charm or interest.

Why do doctors do this--I mean, decorate their offices with graphic pictures of the respiratory system, the spine, or the foot? If I'd wanted to go to medical school that option was open to me. I chose to be an English major instead. It was a reasoned decision. I hate the sight of blood, guts, bones, muscles and circulatory systems. I don't want to be reminded that I have all that stuff inside of me. Ugh!

What started me thinking along those lines was a poster in the foot doctor's office showing a disgusting toe, whose nail was infected by a particularly ghastly fungus. The nail was about the size of my foot and in glorious living color.

Hint to doctors: decorate your offices with soothing landscape paintings. Seascapes are good, too, as are depictions of tots gamboling in the sunshine of country estates. Portraits. Pictures of flowers, wine bottles or fruit, or a combination of the above. I'll even settle for paintings on velvet; but let's soft pedal the anatomy lesson, okay?

Wednesday, March 04, 2009

Twitter--or not?

Hitherto I have avoided twitter like poison.

What is it? Do I need it? Why do I need it? Will I become an even larger Internet weirdo than I am now? Jack explains:

I have been using Twitter for around a month and am slowly learning my way around it. For a long time I was reluctant to get involved with anything else that could serve as a time suck. As it is I feel like I am constantly searching for ways to turn a 24 hour day into 36 hours. So the idea of adding another responsibility bothered me.

But at the same time I find social media to be incredibly interesting so I wanted to dip my toes into the water and see what happened.

Thus far I have been pleased with it. It is fast and easy so I haven't found it to be particularly taxing...yet. Yet is the operational word because I can see a time and place when it becomes too time consuming so I have been relatively cautious about who I follow.

Thus I have fulfilled my obligation to link with Jack, ass today is Link with Jack Day.

Tuesday, March 03, 2009

The latest style

Notice the sweater. This is the latest look. See how snug it is? It's almost straining the buttonholes.

Lucky me! I don't have to buy it, because all my cardigans fit like that. Actually, all my clothes.

You too can be stylish if overweight. Just gain 10-20 lbs. It's easy.

Monday, March 02, 2009

What will we do if health care is rationed?

Realistically, we have much to fear from Obama's health care plan.

Obama’s budget would boost taxes on the wealthy and curtail Medicare payments to insurance companies and hospitals to make way for a $634 billion down payment on universal health care. That is a little more than half the money it would take to extend insurance to 48 million uninsured Americans.

One doesn’t curtail payments without curtailing benefits. I see rationed health care for the elderly and disabled. When I go on Medicare, I expect my benefits to be drastically reduced.

Canadians coped with nationalized health care by coming here for treatments that were denied or postponed--for instance, a patient who would have to wait for a coronary by-pass or a hip replacement could come here and have it done. When our health care is rationed, what will we do? Where will we go?

Get yourself a family doctor in Thailand. I understand procedures are much less costly there. Of course, it's a long commute, and if you have a health emergency you might croak before you got to the hospital, but we must consider the greatest good for the greatest number. Mustn't we?

March snow

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Sunday, March 01, 2009


I know this blog is somewhat dreary visually, and I was going to enliven it with a picture of a toe, but all the pictures of toes and even of feet were so Godawful ghastly I couldn't bring myself to do it. Toes in general aren't too good-looking, are they?

I bring up toes because I had surgery on one of mine. The toe in question is doing fine, thank you for asking.

I am squeamish and not particularly fond of looking at body parts in their less glamorous moments. SO I am not going to take a picture of my toe and post it here.

However, high tech has come to the world of the toe. The sore toe is sent home from the hospital with about 50 lb of high tech gear, including a machine which periodically circulates ice water around the poor wounded piggy. It's a marvel of ingenuity.

Then there's the rubber boot, which is designed to allow the patient to take a bath or shower or go deep sea diving, judging by the four-color illustration on the package insert, which shows pictures of happy, cheery swimmers gamboling in the surf.

The principle of the boot is this: there are two sizes of rubber boots for waterproof feet: small, for children, and large, for everyone else, from petite size 5 1/2 ladies to size 14 football players. Since it must fit all these feet, it is on the large size.

Attached to this gizmo is a small pump, with which you are supposed to pump all the air out of the boot after you put it on and before you get in the pool. This takes the air out, and then the boot is snug and keeps your foot dry. In theory.

In practice, it would take you a week to expel all the air from this object. I managed to get the thing over my foot, even though the opening is about 4 inches in diameter (that's so no water gets into it). I ended with the object flapping off my leg and putting me off balance since it weighs a good 20 lb. It kept the water off my foot, but unfortunately its outside held enough water to thoroughly flood the bathroom floor.

I believe this was invented by those who brought us the stimulus bill.