My life from A-Z

If it’s good enough for Ken Levine

• A-Available/Single? Available for what? Oh, wait, I see. Not available.
• B-Best Friend? Well, my oldest friends, Karen and Carol (not my wife), I’ve known since kindergarten. Carol’s e-mailed me recently, and Karen called.
• C-Cake or Pie? Pie. Fruit pie, especially.
• D-Drink Of Choice? Water with some True Lemon added.
• E-Essential Item You Use Everyday? My electric toothbrush.
• F-Favorite Color? Green, obviously. Or blue.
• G-Gummy Bears Or Worms? Not a great fan of either.
• H-Hometown? Binghamton, NY, the Parlor City.
• I-Indulgence? Reference books on pop culture.
• J-January Or February? February. Closer to spring.
• K-Kids & Their Names? Lydia. Oh, and Continue reading

February Ramblin’

I think I have an instinctive sense of balance about my blog between the personal and the other stuff (politics, popular culture, etc.). Obviously, that’s been skewed more than a little this month, and frankly, I’m all right with that.

Serene Green- the flower arrangement my office sent to my mother’s funeral (and which we brought to my parents’ gravesite

I received a bushel of great notes of condolences re: the passing of my mother earlier this month. Some came in the form of e-mails, others in comments to various blogposts. I received cards, e-cards, cards with flowers. This doesn’t even count the telephone calls and the face-to-face comments. One that struck me greatly was written by someone I’ve worked with for 17 years:
Continue reading

The Lydster, Part 83: The $50 Headache


Back on January 29, my wife and my daughter went down to Saugerties, about an hour south of Albany, to go to the birthday party of her ten-year old twin cousins, my brother-in-law’s daughters. Carol and Lydia left late and so got to the party about a half hour after its 2:30 start time.

On the return trip, Lydia complained of a raging headache, which she described as “sharks sawing into my head” and “like I’m dying”. When she got home, she curled up in my arms, not wanting to eat. Continue reading

Movie Anagrams


During the trivia contest in which a friend regularly participates, one of the categories was ‘movie title anagrams’. Since it’s Oscar week, see how many you can get in the same allotted ten minutes.

1. The Rave Bra
2. That Mixer
3. Tiger Rut
4. Haled Wirer
5. Local Rattle
6. Whale on Plate
7. Mayfly Raid
8. Pan Tool
9. New Tramp Toy
10. Greet a Pest Ache

I won’t approve any quiz answers for the first 24 hours, so everyone will be on equal footing.
***
I had written about my early Oscar picks here four weeks ago. I had intended to see several more films in the intervening time, but life (and death) got in the way. The only full-length movie I’ve seen since then is Blue Valentine Continue reading

Civil War books

Late last year, Glenn W LaFantasie came up with The top 12 Civil War books ever written for Salon magazine. A bold list with a lot of caveats (no biographies, no series or multivolume works, no fiction.) And if you’re interested, you can check out his choices, and the four dozen comments about same.

But I came to a dead stop when he described his #5 book, “Race and Reunion: The Civil War in American Memory” by David W. Blight (2001), which I have never read. It’s because the description seems so important to our 21st century lives in America:

[It] explores how the past is connected to the present by looking at the ways in which Americans have remembered the Civil War. His deeply researched and carefully crafted study argues that after the war white veterans, Union and Confederate, facilitated the reconciliation of the two sections by consciously avoiding the fact that slavery had brought on the sectional conflict, choosing instead to celebrate the courage that they and their comrades had brandished in battle. Less consciously, they and their fellow Americans found this new narrative Continue reading

Beatles Island Songs, 73-64

JEOPARDY! answers (questions at the end)

9-LETTER WORDS $400: A collection of stories, or a collection of Beatles songs
NUN SENSE $500: A convent’s top nun, she’s told to “Jump the Gun” on the Beatles’ “White Album”
___ AND ___ $400: The Isley Brothers & the Beatles sang, “Shake it up, baby”, do this
POP MUSIC $200: In 1985 this performer bought ATV, owner of much of the Beatles’ catalogue, for over $40 million

The ‘Top 10 Best Rock Bands Ever’ Are…

The rules of engagement

73 Things We Said Today from A Hard Day’s Night (UK), The Beatles’ Second Album. Love this from the intro to what I think is double-tracked McCartney hatrmony vocals.
72 Every Little Thing from Beatles for Sale (UK), Beatles VI (US). Always thought this was a cover of the Everly Brothers or Buddy Holly, but it’s McCartney in that mode.
71 Come Together from Abbey Road. The hook on this Lennon song is the instrumental that comes up even before the vocal. Strange lyrics, some apparently stolen from Chuck Berry.
70 Birthday from the white album. I had the peculiar notion at the time that this Macca/Lennon song would replace Happy Birthday as THE celebratory tune.
69 And Your Bird Can Sing from Revolver (UK), Yesterday and Today (US). Another of the Lennon songs stolen from UK Revolver.
68 I Should Have Known Better from A Hard Day’s Night. From the Lennon harmonica, a winner.
67 The End from Abbey Road. If this McCartney song were together with Golden Slumbers and Carry That Weight, it’d be about #4 on this list. As it is, a Ringo drum solo and trading off guitar solos are great.
66 All My Loving from With the Beatles (UK), Meet the Beatles (US). Among the charms of this McCartney song is the jaunty, almost country, bridge.
65 I Don’t Want to Spoil the Party from Beatles for Sale (UK), Beatles VI (US). Told you I was a sucker for Beatles VI.
64 A Taste of Honey from Please Please Me (UK), Introducing The Beatles/The Early Beatles (US). The great thing about this cover is how goes from 3/4 to 4/4 and back.

JEOPARDY! questions-
What is Anthology?
Who is Mother Superior?
What is twist and shout?
Who was Michael Jackson?

F is for Firefighters


One of the most riveting events in my early life was the massive fire that took place at an apartment complex known as the Rogers block, four wooden structures just down the street from my grandmother’s house. While the building were a total loss, I don’t recall any casualties. Moreover, the firemen – they were all men in those days – managed to contain the fire to those buildings, not allowing it to reach the nearby homes.

So fires have long fascinated me. According to the National Fire Protection Association, the The 2009 U.S. fire loss clock
•A fire department responded to a fire every 23 seconds.
•One structure fire was reported every 66 seconds.
•One home structure fire was reported every 87 seconds
•One civilian fire injury was reported every 31 minutes.
•One civilian fire death occurred every 2 hours and 55 minutes.
•One outside fire was reported every 49 seconds.
•One vehicle fire was reported every 146 seconds.

I have always lived in locations with paid firefighters. Yet, “volunteers comprise 71% of firefighters in the United States. Of the total estimated 1,148,100 volunteer and paid firefighters across the country, 812,150 are volunteer.” Moreover, “the majority of fire departments in the United States are volunteer. Of the total 30,165 fire departments in the country, 20,857 are all volunteer; 5,099 are mostly volunteer; 1,752 are mostly career; and 2,457 are all career.”

In 2009, US firefighter fatalities included 47 volunteer firefighters, 36 career firefighters, and 7 part-time or full-time members of wildland or wildland contract fire agencies.

Is the fire protection in your locale career or voluntary firefighters?

How Do I Become A Volunteer Firefighter?

US Fire Administration

ABC Wednesday – Round 8

Presidents Day


It’s Presidents Day, so I post oddball factoids about the guys that have held the office that I’ve come across in the past a couple months.

But first, a recent Final JEOPARDY! answer: Of the 20 presidents elected to a second term, 2 of the 3 who failed to complete that term. (Question at the end.)

#1- George Washington
He Came
During the American Revolutionary War, George Washington was riding on his horse one day when he passed by a group of soldiers who were busily engaged in raising a beam to the top of some military works. It was a difficult task, and the voice of the corporal in charge of the men could often be heard shouting, “Now you have it!”
“All ready! Pull!”
Unrecognized by the corporal and the other soldiers, Washington asked the corporal why he didn’t help his men.
“Sir,” replied the angered officer “do you not realize that I AM the CORPORAL?!?”
Washington politely raised his hat, saying, “I did not realize it. Beg your pardon… Mr. Corporal.”
Washington dismounted his horse and went to work helping the men until the beam was raised.
Before leaving, he turned to the corporal, and, wiping the perspiration from his face, said, “If ever you need assistance like this again, call upon Washington, your commander-in-chief, and I will come!” * Continue reading

The Readers Reply to the Racism Question

About six months ago, I laid out a scenario, about a white woman going into a halal shop, and asked, “Is it racist?” I was unconvinced that it was, although I recognized a likely ethnic-based discomfort.

And I got three really fine, and well thought out answers:

Francisca, a “white woman living in Asia” noted that “most of the time what I get is a profiling to my advantage (it helps that I’m the smiling type and people generally like my face). The scene is complicated by my Chinese-born husband, who regularly gets mistaken as my driver, my interpreter or my employee…and gets treated accordingly…”
Continue reading

The Wisdom of Homer Simpson


Wednesday Wickedness is “like other memes in that we will ask you ten questions each and every Wednesday. But our little ‘twist’ is that each week we will pick a famous person and pick ten of their quotes. Each of our questions will be based on the quotes.”

1 . “Weaseling out of things is important to learn. It’s what separates us from the animals … except the weasel.”
What was the last thing that you weaseled out of?

I’m sure it has something to do with housecleaning. It just doesn’t give me the goodies other tasks do.

2. “If they think I’m going to stop at that stop sign, they’re sadly mistaken!”
What was the last thing that caught your eye that you stopped for?

Other than sunsets, I actually can’t recall. Well, unless it was some particularly bad and/or rude driving, which I undoubtedly kvetched about. Continue reading