Wednesday, August 31, 2011

I Yam Not a Loser, and Neither is JFK

Thought for the day:  A cloudy day is no match for a sunny disposition.  William Arthur Ward

Do you remember (or have you heard about) the speech President Kennedy made in West Germany on June 26, 1963? That was just twenty-two months after the Berlin wall went up, and he attempted to express his solidarity with the people of West Germany that day. His exact words were: Ich bin ein Berliner.

Unfortunately, a Berliner happens to be a type of jelly donut made in Berlin, and following that speech, President Kennedy got a merciless ribbing in the media for allegedly making a linguistic faux pas by declaring to the German people: I am a jelly donut.  He took the worst ribbing from America's so-called liberal press, but he also made the news in other parts of the world, as well, and for years,  teachers all over America have referenced this speech when instructing their German classes about the proper and improper use of the word ein. Check out what appeared as recently as 1988 in the New York Times:

It's worth recalling, again, President John F. Kennedy's use of a German phrase while standing before the Berlin Wall. It would be great, his wordsmiths thought, for him to declare himself a symbolic citizen of Berlin. Hence, Ich bin ein Berliner. What they did not know, but could easily have found out, was that such citizens never refer to themselves as 'Berliners.' They reserve that term for a favorite confection often munched at breakfast. So, while they understood and appreciated the sentiments behind the President's impassioned declaration, the residents tittered among themselves when he exclaimed, literally, "I am a jelly-filled doughnut."
— William J. Miller, I Am a Jelly-Filled Doughnut, The New York Times April 30, 1988[10]

So why bring it up now? Because I just discovered that, in fact, President Kennedy's words were absolutely correct, even if they were delivered with a Boston accent. If he had said, "Ich bin Berliner," as his critics insisted he should have, he would have sounded foolish. Obviously, with the way he mangled the German language, he was most certainly NOT a native of Berlin. According to multiple evaluations of the speech by Germans, the way he said it actually indicated, "I am one with the people of Berlin," which is exactly what he wanted to say. And which is exactly how the Germans received it. None of the ridicule leveled at him ever came from the Germans.

(Ahem.) That was kind of a long aside. 

The lovely Julie of Empty Nest Insider gave me a lovely award. It's expressed  in German:

Since part of the idea behind this award is to pass it on to bloggers with less than 200 followers, my warped sense of humor made me quip, "Ah, must mean ... loser!" 

I actually knew that wasn't the case, but because it was in German, one thing led to another, until I ended up inadvertently discovering JFK wasn't a loser in the delivery of that speech. Funny, I've seen and heard many references to that speech over the years, but today was the first time I found contrasting information about it. And only because I went looking for it. Funny, huh? 

Anyway, back to the award. Liebster is actually a German term of endearment. Literally, it means beloved person. Nice. (See, not a loser at all!) Most of us follow a number of blogs, and in general, we follow them because we LIKE them. And the idea of this award is to shine some light on those blogsters we happen to like who, like me, may be fairly new or languishing in a darkened corner of the blogosphere with less than 200 followers. So, I would like to thank Julie for thinking of me. I really do appreciate it. (And since the light is on me, I'll be on my best behavior.)

Now I'm supposed to shine the spotlight on three other bloggers by sending the award their way. (Then each of THEM picks three ...) Tell ya what, as I looked down the list of blogs I follow, I could happily pass the award on to every one of you, except a lot of you aren't losers  already have way more than 200 followers, some of you (you tricksters, you) don't indicate how many follower you DO have, and some of you have already received this award. In fact, the three people I've selected may have already received it. Tough. I consider all three of them liebsters. 

Connie of A Merry Heart
Skippy of I Make Soap

I love all three of their blogs, and I'm betting you would, too. Go ahead. Check 'em out.

Along with the Liebster Award came the following:

As this award shows, it was created by RJR Daydreamer and the idea is to recognize how much we bloggers appreciate all the people who take the time to read our posts and make comments on them. Heck, we even appreciate the lurkers ... those who read every post, but don't officially follow or comment. This award is for all of you. Because, by golly . . .  ich leib dich . . . ALL of you!  So, y'all are welcome to grab the followers' award for your own blog, and then . . .  pass on the lieb.  

By the way, in case you were wondering, in German, verlierer means loser. 

One last thing before I scoot. I'd like to share an amazing picture with you. This is a picture of the Israeli west Bank barrier. 

Pretty cool, huh? Until next time, liebsters, take care of yourselves. And each other.

As always, no trees were killed in the sending of this message. However, a large number of electrons were terribly inconvenienced.

Monday, August 29, 2011

With a Little Help From a Friend

Thought for the day:  Some people claim to love humanity. It's people they can't stand.

Like last Monday's story about the starfish stranded on the shore, when you consider the hungry and homeless as a faceless crowd, it can be quite overwhelming and depressing. But just as that one woman was able to help individual starfish, one by one, so too can we help the homeless and hungry when we learn to see them as individual people, and to treat those individuals with respect and human dignity. One way to do that is by volunteering at a soup kitchen.

I don't know when they were first called soup kitchens, and I don't know how many of them have actually provided soup. But when you hear the phrase, you know what it means. It's a place where people in want can find nourishment. I can't speak for any other location, but I can say that at the downtown Atlanta soup kitchen where I volunteered for many years, I don't remember us ever serving soup. Not even once.

But OY! the peanut butter!

Our volunteer group of five or six would meet at our church, secure our valuables in the trunk of one of the cars we left behind, and then carpool to downtown Atlanta. We usually got to the kitchen, located in the basement of a huge church, just before 9AM, and the first order of business was making peanut butter and  honey sandwiches. We went through a ton of peanut butter, too. Not little wimpy jars, like in the picture, but enormous 3-gallon plastic containers of it, into which we stirred big gobs of honey. (The mixture turned into an unbelievably sticky ooey gooey mess, but it was a NUTRITIOUS sticky ooey gooey mess.) Our first job was to make trays and trays of sandwiches, and line 'em up and stack 'em up, sixty to a tray. Most of the bread was donated by local grocery stores, and most of it was fit to eat. Our group always threw away the moldy and brick hard breads, but unfortunately, that may not have been the case for all groups.

In addition to the sandwiches, there was always some sort of hot food. Usually a casserole of some type plus one or two vegetables. The cook was a former homeless man himself, and though he may not have been a world renown chef, he was reliable and hard-working. Some of his casseroles smelled a little "off" and barely looked edible, but rarely did we ever hear a complaint about the food. Occasionally, a chuckle, though. When some of the fancy catered parties in the area had leftover food, they'd donate it to the kitchen, so sometimes we served the prettiest little hors d'oevres and petit fours you ever saw.

Great Depression bread line

Some mornings,  people were already milling around outside when we got there, but most days, the line didn't start getting serious until about an hour before serving time, and by the time we opened the doors, it'd be snaking around the corner and way down the street. Reminded me of the pictures I'd seen of the bread lines during the Depression.

When the doors were thrown open, throngs of  people would stream downstairs and line up single file at the serving counter. Most of the volunteers stayed in the kitchen, and were kept busy filling plates and placing them on the counter or handing them out to the clients as they filed by. At the end of the counter were the sandwiches. Only one plate of food to a customer, but there was no limit on the sandwiches, so most ate one or two with lunch and took another one or two with them when they left.

But I didn't want to stay in the kitchen. I chose to go into the dining area. It was a cavernous room, dimly lit, with rows and rows of cafeteria tables on each side, and an aisle down the middle. An old piano sat against one wall, and occasionally someone would play it. Really well, too. And others might gather around and sing. Anyway, with a pitcher of black coffee in one hand, a pitcher of coffee with cream in the other, and apron pockets stuffed with sugar packets, I made the rounds through the room as the Coffee Lady. It was the job I always wanted, and it's a good thing, too, because no one else wanted to do it.

Spending time in the dining area gave me the opportunity to get to know some of the people, to talk with them, to listen to their stories. To know them as PEOPLE. 

Most of the clients were men, but there were also a lot of women and children. Whole families, many of whom bowed their heads and said grace together before eating. Some clients had mental health problems, and some had drug problems or reeked of alcohol. One man I assumed to be schizophrenic would hunch over his food, babbling incoherently, and watching others with eyes filled with fear and distrust. But each time I passed him, he'd grab my arm and say, quite clearly and desperately, Pray for me. There was a group of thirty-something men who usually sat together, and they all had AIDS. Those who lived in shelters were generally clean, but those who lived on the streets were in dire need of soap and deodorant, and possibly delousing. Several women wore multiple layers of clothes, regardless of the temperature, because they were wearing every piece of clothing they owned. Another lady pushed around a grocery cart filled with all her worldly goods, and the only way she could eat was if someone carried food outside to her. 

Two people in particular stick in my mind. One was a timid young woman. She asked for such a simple thing. A tampon. Which we didn't have. Can you imagine how terrible that was for her? And my purse was twenty miles away, so I couldn't even give her money to buy any. But her shy request made me aware of yet another awful aspect of homelessness I'd never before considered. And have never since forgotten.

The other person was a homeless man, maybe in his thirties or early forties, but he looked much older. What's that expression? Rode hard and put up wet. Anyhow, we always chatted. Like friends, ya know? Laughing, kidding. He was an alcoholic, but he was battling it, and battling it hard, and making baby steps toward sobriety. One day, when he came in, he walked right up to me and kissed me on the cheek. (Man, you should've seen the looks I got from the other ladies from church. Looked like they'd all sucked on a lemon.) But the thing is, that man was celebrating six months' sobriety that day, and he wanted to share his joy, his pride, with ME. Like a friend, ya know? To tell the truth, I felt honored. (Last I heard, he was still sober. And had a job.)

The thing with the homeless, with the poverty-stricken, is sometimes we forget to look at them as people, and forget they have personal stories that brought them to such a rough patch in life. It's much easier to dismiss them if we lump them all together under a single label, but it's much harder to forget them once we see them as individuals. You'd be amazed how many homeless men are military veterans, suffering with PTSD or drug and alcohol problems. You also might be surprised to know many of those homeless people used to have homes and hopes, good-paying jobs and responsibilities, how many of them lost everything and everyone because of catastrophic illnesses. But whatever their story, no matter their lot, they are still PEOPLE. Sadly, sometimes even they seem to forget, as though they've swallowed the poisonous propaganda insinuating that the homeless are somehow less than human. They shuffle their feet. Their shoulders are slumped. Their eyes are downcast.

BUT ...

 It's amazing what being treated with respect can do for them. What a difference a hot meal, a simple conversation, a joke, a shared laugh can make. It can make a homeless man feel comfortable enough to kiss a friendly suburban gal . . . a friend . . . on the cheek.

Until next time, take care of yourselves. And each other.

Friday, August 26, 2011

Wanta Get High?

Thought for the day:  Each year, millions of skiers come to Colorado to experience its superb medical facilities.   Dave Berry

Rocky Mountain high
Oh, it's an easy-peezy piece of cake to come up with an association for Colorado, our Mile-High State, AKA the Switzerland of America. The Rockies, right? On the other hand, maybe not a piece of cake, because I hear they only have three food groups out there: granola bars, tofu, and Fat Time Beer. And you know how they describe their seasons, don't you? Almost winter, winter, still winter, and construction. There's a few other states who could claim the same, I'm sure, but Colorado may be the only state where April showers are typically followed by May blizzards, and where humid means anything above 25%.

By the way, did you know the breathtaking view from the top of Pike's Peak is what inspired Katharine Lee Bates to pen the words to America the Beautiful?

No question about it, Colorado has some of the most beautiful scenery in the country. Majestic snow-capped mountains, crystal blue skies and waters, fascinating rock formations, and sprawling plains where the deer, antelope and buffalo roam. A healthy place. A place where the air is crisp and clear and people are so easy-going, a movie star's mansion may be on the same street as an aging pony-tailed hippy's shack.With hiking, biking, skiing, and white water rafting, it's an outdoorsy person's paradise, where it isn't at all unusual to see a three thousand dollar bike strapped to the top of a five hundred dollar car. (Gotta keep those priorities straight, right?)

On one of my hubby's business trips out there, he and a couple other Georgians joined some locals at  a restaurant located at the top of a mountain. That narrow winding drive into the sky offered a beautiful unimpeded view of the precipitous drop down the side of the mountain . . .  I mean, TRULY unimpeded,  because there were No. Guard. Rails. It may have been contrary to their natures, but the Georgia boys chose to skip the adult beverages with dinner that night. Not that it was that big a deal. They already had a pretty good buzz from the nosebleed altitude, and besides, there was that long drive back down the mountain to consider. That drive with No. Guard. Rails. But it's . . . pffft . . .  nothing to the locals. They take it all in stride. They're used to the thin air, used to driving in wintry weather, used to driving down a mountain without benefit of a stinking guard rail to slow that plunge to their deaths, and are quite comfortable with encountering all kinds of wild critters. Matter of fact, I have a feeling most aren't as bothered by a bear on their front porch as they are by a Democrat in Congress.

Anyway, let's take a look at a few pictures before going on to take a look at some of Colorado's laws.

Air Force Academy

OK, so the skies over Colorado are bluer than blue, and the air and water are clean and pure, but how about their laws??? Time to take a look-see.

  • One may not mutilate a rock in a state park. (Sneak it out of there before you have your way with it.)
  • Car dealers may not show cars on Sunday. (Maybe pick-up trucks are OK?) 
  • It's illegal to ride a horse while under the influence. (The rider or the horse?)
  • Tags MAY be ripped off of pillows and mattresses. (Those rebels!)
  • In Alamosa, it's illegal to throw missiles at cars. (Really? They really needed a special law to tell people this???)
  • Also in Alamosa, you've gotta have a license to own a dog or pot-bellied pig over three months old. (And ya can't throw 'em at passing cars, either.)
  • In Aspen, catapults may not be fired at buildings. (Geez, no missiles, no catapults ... picky, picky picky.)
  • In Boulder, it's illegal to insult, taunt, or challenge another person in a manner likely to provoke a disorderly response. However, it IS okay to do so to a police officer ... until he asks you to stop. (Does he have to say pretty please?)
  • Also, in Boulder, it's illegal to allow your llama to graze on city property. 
  • Again, in Boulder, no couches are allowed on outside porches. (What blatant discrimination! I mean, they might just as well say No rednecks allowed.)
  • In Cripple Creek, it's illegal to bring your horse or pack mule above the ground floor of any building. (No penthouse suites for them, I suppose.)
  • In Denver, the dog catcher must notify dogs of impounding by posting, for three consecutive days, a notice on a tree in the city park and along a public road running through said park. (They oughta put their signs on the fire hydrants. More dogs would see it that-a-way.)
  • Also in Denver, it's illegal to mistreat rats. (Maybe they just don't want you to be mean to them? Yeah, I'm sure poison and traps are perfectly acceptable treatments.)
  • And finally for Denver, and I can't imagine why, you may NOT drive a black car on Sunday. 
  • In Logan county, it's illegal for a man to kiss a woman while she's asleep.
  • In Pueblo, it's against the law to let a dandelion grow within the city limits. (So how can the kids make a wish?)
  • And finally, my personal favorite, in Sterling, cats may not run loose without being fitted with a . . . (ready?) . . . fitted with a tail light! (Kinda makes you wonder if anyone ever, I mean EVER, followed that law, and if they did, HOW in the world did they manage to do it? I want PICTURES!)

Okay, boys and girls, it's that time again. Time to take a look at (ta-DA!)

The Weirdest News Stories of the Week

Yvonne says, "Don't moove any closer!"
*** UPDATE: Yvonne, the cow who "split from the herd" when she ran away from her farm in mid-May, is still hoofing it free and easy in and around the forests of south Germany. Would-be rescuers have pursued her with scooters, sniffer dogs, and tranquilizer guns, and even tried to track her from a helicopter fitted with a thermal camera, but so far, they've come up embarrassingly empty. After failing to lure her back into captivity with her calf Friesi and her sister Waltraud, they even gave the handsome bull Ernst a try. But in yet another botched attempt, she simply couldn't be tempted by his charms.. The "shoot on sight" order, issued by police after she bolted in front of one of their cars, has now been rescinded, and a Bavarian animal shelter has purchased her ... sight unseen ... from her former owners. The new owners have been leading the rescue efforts, but what can I say? Sound like this freedom-loving bovine doesn't have the slightest interest in being "rescued." You can hear the German band Gnadenkapelle's hit song about her saga here  If, like me, you don't understand German, some of the lyrics are, "Why don't you leave Yvonne alone, she's only a runaway cow ... You wild cow, don't let them take your freedom ..."  Maybe her song SHOULD be "Born to Be Wild." (Run, Yvonne, run!)

*** Over the past sixteen years, Olga Kotelko has won an eye-popping 650 track and field gold medals. Wow, huh? What's even more amazing is the fact that she was already seventy-seven years old when she first began competing. Yup, now at the age of 93, she is still competing, and still winning medals. Her philosophy is, "It's not how old you are --- it's how you get old."  And this lady is doing it in style ... wearing a good pair of running shoes.

*** People often go to extremes when chasing a record. After all, superlative results require superlative efforts, but would you be willing to down 20,000 calories every day? That's what Susanne Eman of Arizona is doing, because she covets the title of the world's fattest woman. Well, actually, she's already attained that. This 32-year-old weighs in at 728 pounds now, which surpasses the former champ, New Jersey's Donna Simpson, by twenty-eight pounds. What Ms. Eman is chasing now is the title of the fattest woman EVER. That record currently belongs to Carol Yager, who weighed 1156 pounds when she died in 1994 . . .  at the much-too-young age of 34. Ms. Eman's goal is to hit 1610 pounds by the time she reaches her forties. She says the bigger she gets, the more attractive she feels, and she'd "love to find out if it's possible for a human to reach a full ton." Everybody has to have a goal, I suppose.

And suddenly, I'm feeling very svelte.

Until next time, take care of yourselves. And each other.

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Gotta Get it Right the First Time

Thought for the day:  Make each day your masterpiece.

Did you ever hear of a turritopsis nutricula? (And if you did, I am REALLY impressed!) This creature is also known as the immortal jellyfish. Immortal, because as far as scientists know, this jellyfish lives . . .  forever. Once it matures and reproduces sexually, it reverts right back to its juvenile state, and starts the whole maturation process all over again. And there doesn't appear to be a limit as to how many times the process can be repeated, either. So it's an endless cycle. Cool, huh? Kinda like the movie Groundhog Day, only this critter keeps reliving its entire existence instead of a single day.

We people don't have that luxury. As far as we know, this isn't just a dress rehearsal. We don't get any do-overs, and don't get to experience things all over again for the first time. So we've gotta do the best we can with what we've got. Now. We can't keep putting things off until tomorrow, because we may not have a tomorrow. How many times have you heard someone say when something happens, then they're gonna do so-and-so? If we allow our lives to be so tied up in the uncertainties of when and then, we're giving our here and now the smelly end of the stick. So, I say, let's all toss that smelly stick and carpe diem our butts off today.

Each day comes bearing its own gifts. Untie the ribbons.   Ruth Ann Schabacker

So, would you like to go back to your juvenile days again? Go through the whole maturation stuff all over again? Some things might be fun to revisit, but as for me ... one trek through adolescence was more than enough. Being an old broad ain't half bad.

Before I go grab hold of my day with both hands, I'll leave you with a few more signs. Nah, not signs like woo-oo-oo kinda weirdo stuff. Signs . . . real signs. Something to make you smile.

(Thanks, Bill!)

And a fine, TOO?

Until next time, take care of yourselves. And each other. And, hey! Carpe that diem, y'all!

Monday, August 22, 2011

One Plus One Adds Up

Thought for the day:  To know that even one life has breathed easier because you have lived, that is to have succeeded.   Ralph Waldo Emerson

Snoopy isn't the only one.

Life seems to be dishing out plenty of things to worry about these days, doesn't it? A number of the blogs I follow have reflected that worry, and it's generally lined with a layer of depression, and topped with a heaping dose of frustration. Even a Pollyanna like me has to admit that it can be downright discouraging to see that humanity's still struggling with some of the same old scourges it's dealt with time and time again: hunger, poverty, racism, injustice, ignorance, war, famine, terrorism,  etc, etc, etc.

But it doesn't HAVE to be discouraging.

Life's problems can be overwhelming.

But they don't HAVE to be.

If we allow ourselves to dwell on the overwhelming magnitude of problems in the whole of the world, it's gonna get us down. I mean, what can we DO about all those problems in the entire world but fret and worry about them?  Actually, maybe there is something we can do.

I'd like to tell you a story.

A woman was walking along the beach on a beautiful sunny day. All was right in her world until she came to a stretch of sand covered with starfish. Thousands and thousands of starfish. All colors, all sizes, as far as her eye could see, beautiful helpless starfish, and as she looked at them, she was overwhelmed with sadness, because she knew they were all doomed to die there on that beach.

So she bent over, and very gently picked up one of the starfish, and threw it back splat!  into the water. Another woman came along, and stood there watching with a sneer on her face, as the first woman continued to pick up the starfish, one at a time, and toss them splat! back into the water.  

"You're a fool!" the second woman said derisively. "Look at all those starfish! All you're doing is kidding yourself, and wasting your time, because you will NEVER be able to save all of those starfish!"

"No," said the first woman with a smile. "But I can save ...

THIS one ...

and THIS one ...

And THIS one!
When the "big picture" is just too damned big to deal with, sometimes the best thing we can do to cope with it is simply break it down into smaller pieces. No, that woman couldn't save every single starfish stranded on that beach, and one might argue that even if she worked day and night until she collapsed in exhaustion, her rescue efforts wouldn't make much of a difference in the grand scheme of things, especially to the thousands of starfish that died in the sand.

But her efforts made a tremendous difference to each and every one of those starfish she DID save.

The same concept applies to each of us. Maybe we can't solve the world's problems, but we CAN make a positive difference in the lives of the people we encounter every day. Something as simple as a smile and a kind word can have an enormous impact on someone's day and outlook. A smile may be over in a flash, but the memory of it may last a lifetime.

And we can do MORE.

Part of the frustration so many people feel at the scope of world problems these days comes from of a sense of helplessness. But we aren't helpless. We CAN "brighten the corner where we are." We CAN volunteer and make a positive difference in our communities. There are programs in every town in this country, for sure, and possibly in most towns in the world, where volunteers can help the hungry, the sick, the poverty-stricken.

Next Monday, I'll tell you a little bit about what it's like to volunteer in a soup kitchen. No, my work never did a thing to ease world hunger, but it did make a difference in the lives of the people, the families, the many children who left there with a full stomach.

Let's save as many starfish as we can.

Until next time, take care of yourselves. And each other.

Friday, August 19, 2011

Mellow, Baby, Mellow

Thought for the Day:  I love California. I practically grew up in Phoenix.   Dan Quayle

What do you think about when you think of California? The Beach Boys, beach music, and surfing? The laid-back mellow life? Diversity and liberalism? Pot and politics? I know the song was actually written about New York City, but I kinda associate California with the attitude expressed in Simon & Garfunkle's happy feel good song "Feeling Groovy" (Go ahead. You can give it a listen. I'll wait.)

Ahhh. Feel better?

I grew up in Maryland, whose nickname is "America in Miniature", but I gotta tell ya, California seems to have it ALL. It ain't exactly "miniature", either.

Consider the swaying palm trees and the redwood trees so enormous, streets are cut right through the middle of them . . .  the beaches and rugged coastline, the mountains, the desert, and the winding roads through lush wine country. How about relentless sunshine, the incredibly diverse architecture, seafood out the wazoo, and taut tanned bodies on the beach. Don't forget the San Diego Zoo, and the iconic red cable cars of San Franciso. I've never even visited the state, but I must confess, I do romanticize it. It sounds like a state where there is something for everyone, and it would take a lifetime to see it all. But, of course, I'm not gonna show it all to you. Just a handful of shots, before we take a look at some of the strange laws still on their books.

I'll bet you're all familiar with this sign.

Old Faithful

Golden Gate bridge

Sam Francisco cable car

Mt. Whitney

By the way, did you know California's Mount Whitney, at 14,505 feet, used to be the tallest mountain in the United States? That claim to fame ended when Alaska joined the union.

Adultery --- which is the only grounds for divorce in New York --- is not grounds for divorce in California. As a matter of fact, adultery in Southern California is grounds for marriage.  Allan Sherman

OK, so California has earthquakes, wildfires, and mudslides. A few flaws, I'll grant you. But how about their laws?  Let's take a gander:

  • Sunshine is guaranteed to the masses. (How grandiose of them!)
  • Animals are banned from mating publicly within 1500 feet of a tavern, school, or place of worship. (especially the two-legged ones)
  • It's a misdemeanor to shoot at any kind of game from a moving vehicle. Unless it's a whale. (Free Willy!)
  • Women may not drive in a housecoat. (They probably frown on curlers, too.)
  • No vehicle without a driver may exceed 60 MPH.
  • In Alhambra, you can't leave your car on the street without a permit.
  • In Arcadia, peacocks have the right of way to cross any street, including driveways. (And they're mighty proud to take it, too.)
  • In Baldwin Park, you can't ride a bicycle in a swimming pool. (Shucks)
  • In Belvedere, a City Council order reads: No dog shall be in a public place without its master on a leash. (Guess it's a dog-lead-man world out there, huh?)
  • In Blythe, you can't wear cowboy boots unless you own at least two cows. (Sounds like a truth in advertising law to me.)
  • In Burlingham, it's illegal to spit. Except on baseball diamonds. (Can you do it from the bleachers?)
  • In Carmel, a man cannot go outside while wearing a jacket and pants that don't match. (Talk about fashion police.)
  • Also in Carmel, it used to be illegal to eat ice cream while standing on the sidewalk. (This law was repealed when Clint Eastwood was mayor.)
  • Women are not allowed to wear high heels while in the city limits of Carmel. (Wonder why Clint didn't snuff this one out, too.)
  • In Cathedral City, it's taboo to sleep in a parked vehicle.
  • You also can't bring your dog to school in Cathedral City. (How will he ever learn to read?)
  • In Cerritos, all dog "waste" must be picked up within seven days. (That's pretty liberal.)
  • In Chico, you must have a permit to throw hay into a cesspool. (In case you were tempted ...)

Dick Cheney says he loves California. Out here the rich and famous can shoot people and get away with it.  Jay Leno

California is the only state in the union where you can fall asleep under a rose bush in full bloom and freeze to death.   W.C. Fields

California is a nice place to live --- if you happen to be an orange.  Fred Allen

OK, boys and girls, it's that time you've all been waiting for. Time for (ta-DA!)

The Weirdest News Stories of the Week

***  Just as his name implies, Beau is a beautiful dog. But this fella doesn't just have the beauty; he's got the brains, too. This twelve-year-old Montana black Lab, whose breed is well-known for its friendly nature and superior hunting skills, happens to be a math whiz. In this world, in which many people are woefully inadequate without benefit of a handy dandy calculator, this dog can add, subtract, do some division, and has even memorized some square roots. Impressive, huh? Owner (and trainer) David Madsen says his "canine calculator" is correct approximately 85% of the time.

***  Ever since cavemen drew pictures of woolly mammoths on cave walls, humans have had the urge to express themselves artistically. You'd think by now we'd be running out of ways to do that, wouldn't you? Not so. Since about 1994, some Chinese artists have been carving images onto leaves. Yeah, actual leaves. Specifically, they carve images on chinar leaves, which look similar to maple leaves. An intact, insect-free leaf is plucked from the tree and then dried in the shade for approximately ten months. Then it's boiled for about five hours to kill bugs and bacteria. After that, special tools are used to remove the leaf's surface, essentially splitting the leaf in half, without damaging the leaf's veins, which provide the finished product with a certain je ne sais quoi aesthetic quality.  After carving, the leaf has to be dried again, a delicate procedure which results in a whopping 60% breakage. The most popular topic is the Mona Lisa, followed by Jesus. Marilyn Monroe is also a popular choice for these special order items. Can even have a subject of your choice on that leaf. Pretty cool, huh? Prices range from $24.95 to upwards of two hundred dollars. If you'd like to take a peek at some of these unusual works of art, check here

*** Dear me. Has your hard-earned six-pack turned into more of a bulging beer keg these days? That has a way of happening to some beer-swilling gents as they get older. But fear not! Now, you can drink all the beer you'd like, thumb your nose at the gym as you drive past it, and still have that slim-looking silhouette of your youthful, more athletic days. I present to you ... the MANX. Supermarket chain Asda has perfected these high-waisted trunks, allegedly invisible when worn under ordinary clothing, (forget it if your clothes are extraordinary ...) which lift and firm flabby bottoms, suck in those unsightly beer bellies, and smooth away those love handles nobody really loves. (pssst ... we used to call 'em g-i-r-d-l-e-s) This isn't the first special stretchy-fabric undergarment marketed for men who aren't at peace with their embarrassing body wobbles and jiggles. Asda introduced a body-sculpting vest two years ago called ... ready for it? The moob tube.

Th-th-th-th-at's all, folks!

Until next time, take care of yourselves. And each other.

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Sum Tink Wong

Thought for the day:  Man who stand on toilet high on pot.

Have you ever noticed how twisted up translations can become from one language to another? Sometimes, they're pretty frustrating, but they can also be inadvertently funny. Manuals for electronic gadgets can make you want to pull your hair out when the manufacturer's primary language is Japanese. And my hubby bought a box of drill bits, (made in China) only to come home and notice the box declared them to be "dill bits." We thought that was so funny, we kept the box around for a while just to show our friends.

BUT ... wouldn't you think if someone wanted to open a restaurant, a place for American people to come and EAT,  they'd check, check and DOUBLE-check how the name they've selected for that restaurant might translate before hanging their sign out front? I sincerely doubt if any of the following owners gave it a second thought:

What? You say, for some strange reason, you've decided to eat at HOME tonight?

And you have the oddest craving for Chinese food? How about this simple recipe for fried rice:

Surely you have some leftover cold rice in your fridge, right? No? Well, then you'll have to cook some, and stick it in the fridge to let it chill for a while. While it's cooling, you can chop some green onions, and gather whatever veggies and/or meat you want to add to your creation. For four cups of rice, you'll want about a cup of veggie/meat combo. Or more, if you'd like. (It's YOUR dinner.) Shrimp is good, leftover pork, beef, peas, carrots, whatever you happen to have on hand. OK, now beat two eggs and stir fry in 2 T oil (peanut, lard, sesame, or whatever your little heart desires) until the eggs are dry and separated into small pieces. Remove the eggs, put 3 more T oil into the pan, and toss in your veggies, meat and rice. Stir fry for ~5 minutes or so. Add 2 T chicken broth, 3 T soy sauce. Mix well, and then stir in your eggs, 1/2 t pepper and 2 t sesame oil. Voila! Your masterpiece!

Don't feel like rice? How about this? If you're feeling a little creative, these chicken wings are guaranteed to put a smile on your face:

Until next time, take care of yourselves. And each other.