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.