Saturday, December 26, 2015

As It Must to All...

I had the unpleasant task, today, of breaking the news to the family.  Our friend Mr. Yukon Gold, whose acquaintance we made while peeling potatoes for 29 diners on Thanksgiving, is no more. 

Alas, poor Yukon!   I knew  him well.

Thursday, December 24, 2015

Communications Overload

 When my daughter Anna IM'd from her office in Manhattan, as she does most afternoons (I think she has me on a checklist), I typed that I'd just applied for a couple of  captioned telephones.  They're free -- delivery, installation and the service -- some government program.   Like hearing aids, they don't work as well as -- say -- reading glasses, but they do help.
      A few minutes later, Dov skyped from his office in Vancouver.  It seems he and his sister bought captioned telephones when they were here at Thanksgiving, hid them in his old bedroom, planned to install them as a surprise. 
     I told him the audiologist recently said my hearing aids have a telephone setting, and I thought I'd phone some recording -- maybe a weather channel -- to try that out.  "Why don't I just phone you?" he asked.  Marveling as always that long-distance doesn't cost extra these days -- not even before 5 p m -- I watched on Skype as he dialed my number. 
     Meanwhile, Anna, no longer getting responses on Instant Messaging, fired off an email to tell me she had informed her brother that I had gone ahead and ordered ...
and at that point I'm afraid I lost it -- suffered a severe attack of Communications Overload.

Four Ways !!  I was in touch with people on both oceans, Atlantic and Pacific, free (sort of)



In 1931 I saw my first full-length movie, -- Charlie  Chaplin's The Kid. It was in black and white. 
Too bad I couldn't read yet, because it told the story in what were called titles,
slides that were


Sunday, December 20, 2015

How Far We've Come

Some of us remember when Nelson Rockefeller's divorce cost him the nomination, when Adlai Stevenson's divorce may have cost him the Presidency, when worries about the Pope dogged John Kennedy's campaign, when Eleanor Roosevelt polled as the most admired woman on the planet but no one ever thought of her running for office.
Today no one even seems to notice -- our media is frantically considering presidential candidates who have been divorced, been divorced more than once, who are Catholic, black, female, Jewish.
     Does anyone even realize there's not a single male Protestant on the Supreme Court?
We've come a long way, baby!

Saturday, December 19, 2015


              You may remember the organic maple syrup that left me somewhat bemused -- syrup is, I understand, made from nothing but maple sap, and it's hard to visualize just what makes a tree organic?  More to the point, probably --  how can a tree not be organic? 
                     So here's another one to worry about -- what makes this hair conditioner gluten-free?   Was the copywriter just latching on to a fad, or must someone who really needs to be gluten-free read cosmetic labels? 

 Am I showing my ignorance by wondering if gluten on the hair could get that person in trouble?  Any information will be welcome.

Sunday, December 13, 2015

Information, Please!

The words typed above won't mean anything to the younger ones among you.  In the 1940s they signaled a weekly radio show our family never missed -- one that invited readers to "Stump the Experts!"  Among those experts was someone named Clifton Fadiman...  pause while I wikipedia to make sure I'm remembering right -- yes! 
"While still at the New Yorker, Fadiman became well-known on radio, where he hosted its most popular quiz show, Information, Please! from May 1938 to June 1948. A regular trio of pundits—Franklin P. Adams, John Kieran and Oscar Levant—...literate...humor..."
If the program used one of your questions, you'd receive an Encyclopedia Brittanica. 
I never made it, but in 1941 I did have one question used by the junior program, Quiz Kids.  My prize was a portable radio.  It was the size of a suitcase --I just found an internet "image" of the exact one!   New batteries cost $4.95 --
pause again while I click for the current equivalent -- more than $65, which would be much easier to find now than $4.95 was then.  I couldn't ever afford a set of replacement batteries.  Years later it was on that radio (using its AC cord) that I heard Japan had surrendered and TheWar was over.
But I digress:
Even if you do recognize that phrase as the name of a radio show, you probably don't know where it came from originally -- it was what you said to the phone operator when you didn't know the number you wanted to call.  All of which has nothing to do with today's question:
     Information, Please!  After my Thanksgiving visitors left, a bunch of these foil-wrapped tablets turned up in the little kitchen drawer next to the dishwasher.  So what are they? Dishwasher soap tablets?  Some kind of second treatment to leave the glasses shining?  Either way, how would one use them?  Where to put them?  Surely foil won't dissolve in the dishwasher?  Information, Please! 
So what was the question I asked the Quiz Kids? 
Where would you get if you went:
                     a.  first to the right and straight until morning? (Peter Pan's NeverNever Land)
                     b.  to the end of the yellow brick road?  (As I remember, this was before the movie)
               c.  I forget what the third part was -- it might have been "down the rabbit hole?" 

Monday, December 7, 2015


     Finally, a picture of The Queen with a closeup of  Those Earrings she's worn every day for more than half a century.      This won't interest anyone but myself, but I just have to share the information.  I've always figured the pearls hung from little diamonds, but I wasn't sure about size.     I append a portrait from 1964 -- and the recent one that settles the matter.  Now for something else to obsess about.


Wednesday, December 2, 2015

Darwin'd be Interested

       Here's a different thought about evolution -- last night at a meeting of the HLA (Hearing Loss Association, which turns out to be a particularly friendly cohesive group) the speaker showed a world map of languages based on whether they emphasized vowels or consonants.  Colors shading down to lots of blue (vowels) in the South Pacific, in northern South America, all around the equator except in Africa.  
      All of us in the Hearing Loss Gang know it's consonants that are the more difficult to distinguish, right? (Peter Rabbit Cedar Rapids), and the theory is that when people called to each other across thick jungles, they were more likely to use vowels.  Persuasive when one thinks of Hawaii, which has, come to think of it, more vowels than consonants in its very name.
What would Darwin say?
        It'd be nice to reproduce that colorful map for you but I'm not having any luck.  You may want to see for yourselves at  Meanwhile, just to dress up this posting, here's a bit of Hawaii.

Monday, November 23, 2015

You Heard it Here First

Whenever I’m lying down surfing TV for movies (which I do a lot these days),and I hit a film with the words “Heart’, “Neighbor”, “Wishes” or “Surprise” in the title, it’s a pretty sure bet I’m on the Hallmark channel.  Their productions are reliably upbeat, and they are well-done.  But –
here are the titles I jotted down a couple of weeks ago, of the movies they would be showing in the following 24 hours:

A Christmas Blessing
A Plum Pudding Mystery
Santa Jr.
Angels and Ornaments
Deck the Halls
The Christmas Secret
The Christmas Shepherd
Mrs. Scrooge
Mistletoe Over Manhattan
Finding John Christmas
A Christmas Wish
The Christmas Ornament

And that was two weeks before Thanksgiving. 

Sunday, November 22, 2015

What Paper D'ya Read?

This blog was supposed to be about Getting Old, but I've discovered not all that many old people read blogs.  Most of you are way younger, and so I've been going easy -- but this new development does tickle my fancy and I have to share it with you.
Rather abruptly, I find myself depending on a Rollator, not only the little one in the house, but -- having got up the nerve -- a three-wheeled affair I can store in the car myself and trundle around in public.  I will not call them walkers, which brings to mind those aluminum thingies the old ladies danced with in The Producers.

 At any rate --
Every now and then I wonder, am I just faking?  Couldn't I just straighten up and walk?  And over the past few months, when I get the chance, I ask a Professional.  It's the answers that make me smile.  They remind me of the days when newspapers would offer widely varying  viewpoints, and it all depended on which one you read:
The podiatrist --covered by Medicare! -- says the problem is due to peripheral neuropathy (I do enjoy that term, the way the syllables roll off the tongue) -- my feet just don't feel the floor that much.

The orthopedist says it's because there's no socket left in the right hip. He points to an xray that means nothing to me and says "It's a combination of that and your back."
     At a recent meeting of the Hearing Loss Society of Rochester (why does my son think that's a funny name?) I put the question to our speaker, an eminent neurologist.  It's related to to hearing loss, he said, and tinnitus,  inner ear degeneration, the way you report hearing chimes when you turn your head. 
     Then last week I had a routine call-back with the cardiologist (things are just fine, not to worry) and he said balance problems are a side effect of those blood pressure pills.  But don't stop taking them.  It seems they've moved the goal posts once more and the bp recommendations are lower again.
So it comes back to What Paper D'Ya Read -- and whotthehell, there's a dance in the old dame yet.


Tuesday, November 17, 2015

Surprise!  Yes, all sorts of custom-tailored ads turn up when I read Facebook, most of them based on something I have searched recently -- Rollators, folding high chairs (great-granddaughter coming for Thanksgiving) etc.  But the most delightful ad showed up this morning, urging me to take a look at MY OWN EBAY OFFERING! 
Norm's dresser is empty now, and I understand Mid-Century Modern is in, so I thought I'd try it.  Lots of interest, no bids yet.  But nice to know Facebook is out there trying. 

Still thinking?
Buy it on eBay!

Thursday, November 12, 2015

Leaves of Grass

Cable this morning had the damnedest movie I’ve ever seen so of course I stayed in bed till almost noon. 
The film involved
Brown University
marijuana (no, not up there, down in Oklahoma)
Walt Whitman
ancient Greeks
the Meaning of Life
prison stabbings
and just when I figured it was a comedy, people started getting killed so quickly I had trouble following the plot.
We even had that classic Hollywood death scene – we could see the blood spreading on the guy’s chest, so what did all the other characters do? 
They laid their hands soothingly on the victim and listened to his dramatic, perfectly articulated Last Words,
no one even trying to stanch the blood.
Meanwhile Susan Sarandon and Richard Dreyfuss were pretty much hidden in what amounted to bit parts – so anyhow, did any of you ever see it?


Sunday, November 8, 2015

Bobs and Bathrobes

No more complaining about that empty mailbox.  From now till Christmas, the mailman (as it happens, mine is a man) will be burdened with catalogs.  In the assortment that came yesterday is a new one, definitely on the classy side.  That bathrobe, for instance,  goes for $158. 
     But what I wanted to share with you is the copywriter's paragraph describing the collection of reading glasses shown just above it.  Or, as the copywriter improvises -- eyebobs.

     First of all, there's that mysterious sentence -- "Convertible to prescription by a qualified optician."  That sounds reassuringly scientific, but does anyone know what it might mean?  And  next, we're lacking any indication whether $79 buys one pair or five.  Then the copyeditor waxes mildly poetic naming the frame colors, but forgets to say "specify lens strength."  Perhaps the shipment will include an assortment? -- all the way from 1.25 magnification to 3.0, so you can move along as you start to develop cataracts?
     But my main point, the reason I'm moved to mention all this to you, is that the eyebobs shown are absolutely identical to the reading glasses offered for
                                        $1 plus 8 cents tax
                                     at my local Dollar Store.  
and come to think of it, I'm not sure they charge tax on medical items.

Friday, October 30, 2015

Problem Solved

The kids don’t seem convinced, when I tell them how much I don’t want any special celebration for my 90th birthday.  Among other reasons, there’s nobody to attend but themselves.  My friends and even my acquaintances have all died, or moved out of town to live near their daughters.  Nor am I happy with the idea of my coast-to-coast family trying to gather up here in Siberia in the dead of winter.  Nor do I have the stamina for much excitement these days.  Nor -- for that matter -- is that the day I want to reach -- I'm aiming for April 1.

But this morning I am excited – if they insist, I’ve found a way for them to mark the occasion!  Look at this headline!

 Queen Elizabeth’s Wardrobe to be Exhibited for 90th Birthday

Come on -- if they’re going to do that about a woman who has worn the same pair of earrings and triple strand of pearls every day for at least the past sixty years!

  I’m busy figuring out which pair of jeans should go on the  poster for Edith's Exhibition.  Possibly the ones that are so old they’re properly called