Monday, May 21, 2012

Family Time

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


Some people hate 'em. Not me. Means we made it through another weekend and are jumping... or, um, sliding ... into a brand new week.

Today's good. As usual, I hopped ... okay, rolled... outta bed before the, uh ....

 But, I've been so scattered lately, I don't know if I'm coming or going...

               Hmmm,  must mean it's time to chill with the family for a while...

Besides, my hubby and I will be celebrating our 43rd anniversary in a few days. (Honest, I was a mere zygote when we got hitched.) So, who knows? Maybe we should ...

                                                  Or, ooooh! Maybe I should fix him  ...

            And while I'm taking a break, maybe I'll have more time to... um ... read?

                      Or to contemplate deep, important matters of the world, like...

Aw, who am I kidding? The next couple weeks is gonna be all about family.

                                               So, I'll be starting each new day with a bang...

                                 One thing I WON'T be doing is hanging out on the computer...

As ol' Arnie Schwartzenegger said, "I'll be Bach."  But for now, I'm outta here. It's family time. I'll see you guys and gals sometime next month. Until then, take care of yourselves. And each other.

                                                      LIFE IS GOOD. (Even Mondays!)

Friday, May 18, 2012

Pump Your Fist, But Not Your Gas

Thought for the day:  Frank Sinatra was one of New Jersey's favorite sons. So howcum one of his signature songs is  about ... New York, New York???

Atlantic City convention hall
I'm not sure why, but New Jersey is the butt of more ribbing than all the other states combined. I mean, how can anybody make fun of a place with such a wonderful nickname as the Garden State, for heaven's sake? Hmmm, maybe because everybody knows Jersey-ites are tough, can take a joke, and harbor no hard feelings? Well, maybe a little attitude. They may possibly take that joke, wad it up in a ball, and shove it up your nose, but really, no hard feelings. None at all. Unless you call the state New Joi-sey. I mean, come on, nobody in New Jersey really talks like that. Don't be such wise guys, okay?

See that convention hall up there? That's the famous hall where America's beauties strut their stuff every year for the Miss America pageant. Atlantic City's four-mile boardwalk happens to be the longest in the world, and once upon a time, Rudolph Valentino, one of Hollywood's earliest heartthrobs, actually taught tourists how to tango there. Alas, the days of boardwalk tango lessons and penny arcades are long gone, and have since been replaced by high rollers and gambling casinos. Lots of glitz and neon lights now, but you can still find good ol' boardwalk fries and salt water taffy. By the way, did you realize the streets in the game of Monopoly are named after Atlantic City's roadways?

Um okay, let's clear the air right away. I admit it. New Jersey IS the car theft capital of the world. Allegedly, more cars are stolen every year in Camden than in New York City and Los Angeles put together. And okay, so they also have more toxic dumps (108) than anywhere else in the country. But they also have some really good stuff too, okay? Like the most diners of any other state. And some really neat firsts. Like, did you know the very first drive-in in the country was in Camden? (HUSH! Has nothing to do with the car theft stuff!) Some more neat firsts: New Jersey's Passaic River is the site of the country's first submarine ride, by inventor John P. Holland. Also, in 1948, the first transistor was developed at Bell Labs in Murray Hill. You probably knew that one already, but how about this? Didja know there are more horses in New Jersey than there are in Kentucky? And that Wildwood hosts a kite flying festival every year?

What else? Let's take a look, shall we?

Ever hear of the ... Jersey Devil? This mysterious beast was first spotted as early as 1735, and in 1909, there were more than a thousand reported sightings from thirty different cities around the state. Alleged to have leathery wings like a bat, the head of a horse, a forked tail, and hooves, some scientists believe this creature may actually exist. Whether folklore or fact, it's an interesting part of New Jersey's history.

Okay, we're gonna dispose of this one real quick-like. Yes, New Jersey actually does have a Trash Museum. It's located in Lyndhurst. But before ya start pointing fingers, Connecticut  has one, too.

How about this? New Jersey has its very own castle. Originally called Belle Vista when it was built in 1892, it is now known as Lambert Castle, and belongs to the New Jersey Historical Society. Inside the castle museum rests, among other things, the largest collection of spoons in the world. Yes, spoons. More than 5400 of them.

This is the Edison National Historic Site, residence and laboratory of the Wizard of Menlo Park, Thomas Edison, who invented such things as the light bulb, the phonograph player, and motion picture projector. (Very thoughtful of him, huh?)

This unassuming place is Speedwell Ironworks, the site of the first public demonstration of electric telegraph in 1838, by Alfred Vail and Samuel Morse.

New Jersey is home to many important historical sites including this, the Old Barracks, which is the only remaining barracks from colonial days. Hessian troops were captured here after George Washington crossed the Delaware in 1776.

And beautiful Sandy Hook lighthouse is the oldest working lighthouse in the United States.

This area near Haddonsfield, New Jersey, may not look like much, but it marks the place where modern paleontology was born in 1838. This is the Hadrosaurus Foulkii Leidy Site, where Joseph Leidy discovered fossils of the world's first nearly complete hadrosaurus foulkii skeleton.

You should feel your intelligence level rise by just looking at this picture. This is the home of Albert Einstein. Located near Princeton, Einstein lived here from the time he left Germany until his death.

This Horn Antenna, located at Bell Labs in Holmdel, was used by Arno Penzias and Robert Wilson to discover the microwave background radiation permeating the universe. Their discovery in 1964 earned them the 1978 Nobel Prize for Physics, and led to confirmation of the Big Bang theory.

Recognize this place? It's Ellis Island, the entry point for countless immigrants over the years. Thought it was in New York, didn't ya? I did. Actually, the two states had a long-standing disagreement about it, and in 1998, a Supreme Court ruling settled the dispute once and for all by ruling that most of the island lies within the state of New Jersey.

This is something you don't see every day. Meet Lucy the Margate Elephant. Built in 1882, this six-story elephant is the country's oldest example of zoomorphic (shaped like an animal) architecture.

And this is a picture of the Cape May Historic District, which happens to be the country's oldest seaside resort.

And finally, the lovely author and New Jersey-ite Jennifer Shirk gave me the link to an article about her state's annual Doo Dah Parade. Know what this parade celebrates? Humor! It includes stuff like bed racers, a motorcycle and beach chair drill team, impersonators of comedic greats, and my personal favorite: the Basset Hound Waddle, starring more than four hundred of these sweet critters. Know what I think? Ya gotta love a state that not only knows how to take a joke ... but also celebrates humor.

And now, let's peek at some of the laws still lolling on the books in this fine state.

  • It's illegal to wear a bullet-proof vest while committing murder. (Takes the sport out of it, I suppose.)
  • You must yield the phone line to a person in an emergency. (A sudden hankering to call one's bookie probably doesn't qualify.)
  • All motorists must honk before passing another motor vehicle, bicyclists, skater, or skateboarder. (Bet that leads to a lot of racket, not to mention a certain amount of finger-flipping.)
  • It's against the law to pump your own gas. (New Jersey and Oregon are the only two states with this still-active law on the books.)
  • It's against the law for a man to knit during the fishing season. (What? You suppose some guy needled the bass?)
  • It's illegal to frown at a police officer. (What if the officer frowns first?)
  • If you're convicted of a DUI, you may never again apply for personalized license plates. ( Might be more effective if people convicted of DUI had to buy personalized plates that began with the letters SOT.)
  • You may not slurp your soup.(Better save the slurping for your coffee.)
  • It's illegal to open a car dealership on Sundays. (Six days a week provide more than adequate time to bilk the public.)
  • Automobiles are not permitted to pass horse-drawn carriages on the street. (Not even if they honk first?)
  • It's against the law to delay or detain a homing pigeon. (After all, that little guy probably has a curfew.)
  • In Bernard's Township, you'd better wipe that frown off your face. It's been designated a frown-free zone. 
  • In Blairstown, no street-side trees may be planted that obscure the air, and it's also illegal to throw ashes on the sidewalk.
  • In Caldwell, it's illegal to dance or wear shorts on the main avenue. (Stick to the alley.)
  • In Cresskill, all cats must wear three bells to warn birds of their whereabouts. (HA! Really???)
  • In Elizabeth, women walking on Broad Street on Sundays must wear a petticoat. (Betcha some of you don't even know what that is.)
  • In Haldon, cross-dressing is illegal, and it's also against the law to annoy someone of the opposite sex. (If they're cross-dressing, how can ya tell if they're of the opposite sex or not?)
  • In Manville, it's against the law to offer whiskey or cigarettes to any of the animals in the local zoo. (I'm thinking beer and cigars. Beer and cigars.)
  • Mount Laurel laws say it's illegal to get drunk and annoy others in your house. (In your own house? Can't the annoyed people just leave?)
  • Better get a note from your doctor. That's the only way Newark vendors can sell you an ice cream after six PM. No note, no ice cream.
  • Profanity is against the law in Raritan. (How rare.)
  • In Sea Isle City, you absolutely may not boil any bones. (Well, darn. Bone soup is one of my favorites. Beats stone soup hands down.)
  • And in Trenton, it's against the law to throw a bad pickle in the streets. (Yep, you can only thrown the well-behaved ones.)
  • And pickles may not be consumed on Sundays. (Maybe you can get away with just sucking all the juices out ...)

Okay, boys and girls. It's that time again ... the time you've all been waiting for. Time for (ta-DA!)

The Weirdest News Stories of the Week

***  It was the end of the school day, so I guess when this Connecticut teen doused himself with scented body spray, he was hoping for some kinda action. Well, he got action, all right, but not the kind he had in mind. Evidently, he's not a passenger on the less is more train of thought, because his misty cloud of scent triggered the fire alarm. So the action he got arrived on a firetruck. Sirens, flashing lights, the whole smoking enchilada. Actually, firefighters were quite forgiving. Called it a routine accident. I dunno. Smells like a major cover-up to me.

***  The Canada Science and Technology Museum in Ottawa heeded the public outcry, and opened its Sex: A Tell-All Exhibition without a certain (ahem) hands-on video. The exhibit is designed with the intention of teaching youngsters about sex in a scientific, frank, and accessible manner. That video? Let's just say it depicted an animated youngster (ahem) taking matters into his own hands I guess the video just must've rubbed some people the wrong way.

***  Ever get in trouble for chewing gum in school? A bunch of Danish students were actually encouraged to chew it. For a project, an art project. Students from two art schools joined forces ... and their wads of well-chewed gum ... to create a fifteen feet tall sculpture. Let's see, most gum takes about five years to biodegrade, so it looks like this dude with his arms up in the air will be sticking around for a while. Maybe they should name it. Hmmm, Gumby's already taken. How about ... Students Chews Success?

***  Here we go, ladies, just what we've all been waiting for ... a truly cool bra. Dunno how comfy this thing is, but it's definitely cool. That's because  Japanese underwear maker Triumph Japan actually added built-in ice packs to it. Wow, huh? That's even cooler than Aeroshot Chocolate, a lipstick-sized taste of chocolate made for inhaling, a gadget designed to give all the taste without any of the calories. That particular dream-come-true item is being introduced at this week's Sweets and Snacks Expo in Chicago, and will be available for purchase next month. Hmmm, package the bra and chocolate together, and you'd have a darn good start on a menopause survival kit.

Ooops. Somebody messed up. Some of you already got a sneak preview of next Monday's post when  it accidentally went live on Wednesday afternoon. Who's to blame? Not mentioning any names, but her initials are Susan Swiderski. Sorry about that. Hopefully, when I pulled it down, all your comments were saved, too, and will reappear when the post pops back up on Monday morning. If not, cut and paste is a very good friend.

Oh, yeah, I guess you noticed this Yammy Friday post isn't split into two parts, and you got the whole en-chihuahua, after all. That's because I'm not gonna be around for a while, so you can take as looooooong as you want to wade through this uber-long post.

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

Wednesday, May 16, 2012

That Low-Down Lying Mirror

Thought for the day:  Who are we? The person the world sees, or the person we are inside?

"Will the real John Finklestein ... please ... stand ... up."

Remember that old TV show? It was called "To Tell the Truth", and after host Bud Collyer said that, the three contestants would pretend to stand up-sit down-stand up again, until the REAL John Finklestein finally stood up and grinned at the applauding panelists.

If somebody told the "real Susan" to stand up, to (ahem) tell the truth, I believe I'd have to tell that old lady in the mirror to stay where she is. Freeze! Don't even think about getting up.

How about you? What do you see when you look into a mirror? Does the face looking back at you match the self-image you carry around in your head? Or have you begun to recognize glimpses of your parent, or even worse, your grandparent, peering back at you through the looking glass? (Beam me up, Alice!)

Ah, don't sweat it. Happens to the best of us. Best way to avoid the annoying inconsistency is to stay away from mirrors as much as possible. Besides, they lie, you know. Especially the full-length ones in clothing store dressing rooms. (I suspect someone actually puts fun house mirrors in those places just to screw with our heads.)

I say ... embrace your youthful spirit and inner child. So what if the image in the mirror doesn't agree with what you feel?  Don't let a few wrinkles and sags get you down. (Because it's too darned hard to get back up again!) Laugh. Learn. Play. Enjoy. Carpe the hell out of the diem. 

Dare to daydream.

Have you ever gone to a high school reunion? It's true what they say. My hubby and I went to one about eighteen years ago, and you know, those other people were so old ... 

Reminds me of the story about the gal who went to a new dentist for the first time. While in the waiting room, she noticed his diploma hanging on the wall, and the name on it made her think of a handsome heartthrob with the same name that had been in her high school class. When she saw him, though, she decided he was much too old to have been her classmate. Even so, she asked if he'd attended her high school. He did. "What year did you graduate?" she asked.  "Fifty-nine," he said. "I was in your class!" she exclaimed. He looked at her closely. Then, as she described it, that ugly, wrinkled, old, fat, bald, gray, decrepit SOB asked, "What did you teach?"

Ah, if only the world could see us as we see ourselves, huh? Obviously, these critters feel right at home with their self-images ..

So, what's the real you look like? I'm kinda like that pelican with the stilts. I might be a little clumsy, and I may not be as pink and pretty as the flamingos around me, but I sure am having fun!

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

Since I've posted this video in the past, some of you have already seen it, but whenever I think about growing older, this video pops into my mind, so I'll share it again for you new followers. Is there a song that makes you feel young? That makes you want to crank up the volume and sing along whenever you hear it? Born to Be Wild is one of those songs for me. Alas, this is a more suitable version for me these days:

Monday, May 14, 2012

Strip Poker, Anyone?

Thought for the day:  Other people have wrinkles. I prefer to think of mine as character lines.

Well, looky here. An award. How cool is that? It's always nice to be considered ... kreativ.

This award came from a new blogging pal from the A-Z, Maryann Miller and I really do appreciate it. Except, the thing is, now I'm supposed to give up ten more things about myself that I haven't already blabbed about in earlier posts like this. Sheesh, with all the tidbits I threw into the pot in other bare it all award posts, if this were a game of strip poker, I'd already be shivering a little. For those of you interested in catching up on earlier revelations, you can look here and more here and even more here and ohmigod, please make her stop Okay, I stopped. Now, let's see if I can some up with a winning hand here without having to resort to telling you (UGH!) my favorite color. Okay, ten things. Here goes:

1. My parents didn't believe in doling out allowances, so if I wanted money, I jolly well had to find a way to earn it on my own. So I made and sold lemonade to construction workers, did yard work, washed and waxed cars, cleaned house, polished silver, and baked all kinds of goodies. And ya know what? It didn't kill me.

2. But looking back,  it's a wonder I didn't manage to kill myself in other ways. If someone dared me to do something, nine times out of ten, I was gonna give it a try. Like the time I accepted the dare to ride my bicycle down the steps outside the elementary school. The series of steps were built down a steep hill to the lower play areas, so that there were like eight concrete steps, then a small concrete landing, then eight more steps, another landing, and the final eight steps leading onto the field. Picture that? Well, I did fine on the first set of steps, and then the front tire hit the first landing KAPOW, and the bike went barreling down the second flight like a proverbial bat outta hell. Hit that second landing going about a bazillion miles an hour, and I kid you not, the bike flipped a complete somersault in the air. Heck, maybe it even flipped twice. All I know is it flew in one direction, and I went spinning through the air in another. Oh, did I happen to mention that the banisters on either side of those steps were made of steel? No? Well, they were. And I smashed into one of them, head-first. When I came to, luckily, I wasn't dead. Might very well explain my weird sense of humor, though.

3. The first boy-girl party I attended was a bit unusual. See, I spent half the party in the back room shooting craps with a bunch of guys. That is, until the boy hosting the party took me outside to show me how to hot-wire a car. (Told you it was unusual.)

4. When we were in high school, my husband, a few of the other kids, and I played strip poker in the bus on the way home from a field trip to Philadelphia. (from Baltimore) I mean, what can I say? The setting was just right. Dark outside, and there we were, safe inside the dimly lit bus with a bunch of tired kids. Besides, I'm a pretty darned good poker player, if I must say so myself. Oh, one thing. We only lost articles of clothing ... on paper. (Didn't even remove our shoes.)

5. Following President Kennedy's assassination, I joined the crowd in D.C. to see his casket carried by caisson from the rotunda to the cathedral. On that very cold day, masses of people of all ages gathered along both sides of the road to pay their respects. And with all those people, even young children and babes in arms, the only sound I can remember hearing, the only thing that broke the eerie silence, was the somber clop-clop of horses' hooves.

6. Following Martin Luther King's assassination, riots broke out in numerous parts of the country. The worst were in D.C., Chicago, and Baltimore. I happened to work in downtown Baltimore at the time, and had the misfortune of being caught in the middle of the riots. An angry mob of black men surrounded the car, glared in the windows at us, and then began rocking the car. It was the first time (and thankfully, the only time) I ever saw blind hatred with my own eyes.

7. Rather than waste my breath, I  hauled our sons' little keisters to the police station and got an officer to put some fear into their hearts. The boys had defied my orders not to buy ninja stars. (Remember when they were all the rage in the seventies?) They didn't believe ME when I told them how dangerous those things could be, but they definitely believed the policeman.

8. I like to dabble with oil paints every now and then. This picture hangs on our bedroom wall. People always used to ask if it was a self-portrait. (No, it isn't.) Funny ... nobody ever asks anymore. (sigh)

9. (Whew! Almost done!) I mentored several teenagers as part of our church's confirmation process, and every month or so, would take them to another church to attend a worship service. The week we were to attend a non-denominational charismatic church, I laughingly assured the parents that at the first sign of rattlesnakes, we'd hightail it out of there. As it turned out, I dunno if any snakes showed up or not. See, an hour or so into the service, the music started getting progressively louder and louder, faster and faster. Trumpets were blaring, and drums were thump, thump, thumping out a blood-stirring primitive beat. Then, here and there, people started to stand, and began swaying slowly in place, with eyes rolled back, and arms lifted skyward. Then began the remarkable sound of people all around us ... babbling in tongues. Um, not that it wasn't fascinating in a terrifying kinda way, but to tell the truth, some Lutherans aren't even comfortable with the whole sharing of the Holy Spirit awkward hug, ya know? So, talking in tongues? Let's just say it wasn't to our taste. We, uh, didn't hang around for the snakes.

10. I enjoy plunking on the guitar. After playing the same one (the one in the picture) for many many years, I treated myself to a shiny new one last year.Our son-in-law, a professional musician, took her for a spin and declared her to have a fine sound. Me, I immediately removed all the steel strings and replaced them with nylon. What? The heck with the fine sound. Nylon is easier on my fingers.

Woo, HOO! Didn't even  have to tell you my favorite color, did I? Now that you know much more about me than you ever cared to know, my task is to pass this award onto some other bloggers. Not sure how many. Probably ten, but I'm gonna pass it on to three. (Being rejected by ten would be highly devastating. Three, I can handle.) And psssst! If you three just wanta tell us your favorite color and what animal you'd be if you could come back as one, or whatever, by all means, go for it. Whatever ten things, long or short, silly or serious,  that you'd like to peel off and throw into the pot would be fine.

So, with a drum roll and no further ado, I pass this lovely award to

  • Suze of Analog Breakfast I just met her through the A-Z, and am totally taken with her blog, which is always intelligent and thought-provoking. Check it out. You'll love the stimulating discussions.
  • Geo of Trainride of the Enigmas His blog  is one of the best-kept secrets of the Blogosphere. His posts are always clever, well-written, and often, chuckle-worthy. I'm amazed that he doesn't have billions and billions of followers.
  • Rubye of Rubye Jack I just met Rubye through the Challenge, too, and find her posts to be open, honest, and served with a grain of grit.
If you aren't familiar with these folks, I urge you to check 'em out. Go ahead ... I double dog dare ya! (Hey! Have I ever steered you wrong?)

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