Archive for the ‘life’ Category

Natural Acts, Public Places

March 21, 2016

[an (almost completely) imaginary scene]

An older couple sat eating at the table to our right as we were seated and given menus. We engaged in small talk after making our selections, waiting the waitress’ return.

Meanwhile, to our left, a young mother was given a seat and she propped her baby-carrier on the table. The infant seemed to be content or was sleeping quietly.

Presently, the waitress arrived and took our drink orders. We both took water.

On our left, the infant began to make some noise. The mother stood, unstrapped the baby, and sat again. Then proceeded to open her blouse, drop a cup, and begin to feed her child.

To our right, I heard a gagging noise. I turned to see the old fellow was having a hard time swallowing something. Before I could rise and offer the Heimlich, he had regained control of his faculties. He signaled the waitress over.

I thought perhaps he was going to order a large glass of water but what he asked for instead was a request that the young woman should be removed from the restaurant, either to a restroom or a private area not in full public view.

The manager got involved and she told the old fellow that she saw nothing wrong with the public display.

“It is a completely natural function, you know.”

After a moment of working his jaw, the old fellow nodded. “In that case, my dear, would you please bring me a chamber pot.”

My wife and I departed even before the water arrived. Or the chamber pot.

Nor did we know if he ordered toilet paper on the side.

Some natural functions are meant to be private.

A Weight Watching Clusterf- oops!

December 28, 2015




My wife has been in Weight Watchers for many years (doing quite nicely, thanks) and recently learned of the new program WW has rolled out.


There have been a few complaints about the new points structure and the removal of the activity points as well as reduction bonus points for the week.


Most egregious of all is the favorites (products, recipes, and such) each member kept on the Weight Watchers website to aid in tracking their points have been summarily erased.


Yes, it would seem that each person has to re-enter ALL that data again!!


But the problem really isn’t that great for many… really! Quite a lot of people have simply exited the program. Hey, how easy was that, huh?


WW isn’t too worried, however, because they know the people will be back. Yes, they’ll come crawling back and take the inexorable amount of time to re-input all their favorites, recipes, and so forth.


And the best part – at lest for the company – is that the stress all this has caused will create… you guessed it: weight gain!!!


Stress is probably the single-most major contributor to weight GAIN and Weight-Watchers has added this vital tool to their arsenal of prolonging memberships.


Man! The guys over in marketing are probably getting great big, FAT bonuses this year.


You bet!

Superintendent Karen Garza Got Greedy, and Got Caught With Her Pants Down

January 6, 2015

Fairfax County Schools is having a great morning this fine snowy day. First snow of the season – and we all know how well people remember how to drive in this stuff since last winter (yeah, as if!) – twenty degree temperature which means it isn’t going to melt anytime soon, and five-plus inches of fine slick powder.

It should have been a no-brainer to announce a snow day or, like most of the other counties in the region, announce a two-hour delay first thing at 6 a.m. then wait to see how it’s piling up. Then, if things turn south, you can cancel the entire day. Just like eight of the surrounding counties did.

It seems in the past that FCPS would take this “optimistic” view the first snow of the year because the district only had three snow days. And you know how valuable those things can be!!

So after a year that used an inordinate amount of such exclusions from the curriculum, the school board gave the superintendent a few extra days. Thirteen, to be precise and these days are not fluid, they are money in the bank. If there was absolutely NO SNOW this year – and with all this Global Warming, who knows? – the teachers would still have to work those thirteen days.

In previous years, having only three snow days, if there happened to be more than the three taken the district would simply add days to the calendar. There is a minimum number of days the teachers have to work, it seems.

Anyway, with a plethora of snow days to utilize, the Super decided to keep the schools on a normal schedule. And for what?!

In what proves to be a miserable rush hour for everyone, the problem is increased with the number of teachers, parents, and buses added to the mix. Endangering the lives of the students (and everyone else) shows a complete lack of intelligence and a total lack of concern.

Oh, except for squeezing in that extra day of work from the teachers, huh?

Face it, Dr. Garza, your opportunistic attitude has been unmasked.

You do not care for the teachers, the students, or their families, just about squeezing an extra day out of your employees.

I only hope that the Teachers Unions, the PTAs, and the Media can help wake you up to some reality.


Here it is 10:30 a.m. and the County Administration has issued an apology for the problems and noted many people have called them to close the schools. They say that the students are actually safer in the schools…

Which imbecile in PR thought that one up? From the tweets I have been seeing all morning not even half the buses have made it to school yet… they are trapped in the freezing traffic.

How can anyone think this makes them “safer”?!!

Makes one wonder if anyone over at county has an elementary education much less a H.S. diploma.

Even the most meager intellects know to learn from past mistakes.

It’s a shame that no one at FCPS can make a claim to that.

Show Me the Money

December 17, 2013

Continuing on the Snyder article mentioned in my last post (yesterday if you missed it), people are complaining mostly about his avarice. Yes, he is bound and determined to make a bundle of money off his ownership.

So he sold the name of the stadium, raised ticket prices, and so forth.

The fans are complaining bitterly.

So what?

I moved to the DC Metro area from Phoenix where we had wanted a team for sooooo long.

We finally got Bill Bidwell to move the Cardinals from St. Louis to Arizona. Suddenly we had a team!!

Then, of course, he got rid of the really good players to save a bit of coin and raised the ticket prices. Yes, at one time the Arizona tickets were the most expensive in the league… and we did not even have a stadium! The team had to use the facilities at Sun Devil Stadium in Tempe which the ASU Sun Devils called home.

We had the same revolving door for coaches that currently plague the Redskins. We had the same “losing mentality” that Washington seems to have caught.

One year we had an exceptional quarterback that was actually winning games. But when Tom Tupa came too close to winning enough games to make his bonus, Bidwell had the fellow benched. For the season!

Of course the team tanked and they got rid of Tupa the next year and he will be remembered only for converting the very first two-point conversion in NFL history after that option was put into effect. No, he never had another good year anywhere.

Buddy Ryan, the famed Defensive Coordinator of the Eagles, was brought in as head coach and he wanted to show everyone he meant business so he instructed the team to win every single pre-season game! And they did. Of course, the teams they played against weren’t really trying to win…

Needless to say, the season went downhill from there, only winning three of the games that really counted. Buddy’s legacy lives on, though, as his twin boys are in the NFL: Rob is the Defensive Coordinator for Oakland and Rex is the much-storied head coach of the New York Jets.

By the time I left Phoenix, people were as angry with Bidwell as the people here are toward Snyder. It seems all about the same to me. You gotta figure those guys are in business to make money and that’s what they do.

Bidwell’s son took over in Phoenix, I heard, and they got a stadium, got a descent team, and even went to the Super Bowl. That’s great. Maybe that sort of thing will give the Redskins’ fans some hope.

Everything today seems to be about the money.

The NFL jealously guards its “non-profit” status while they rake in the billions.

Facebook’s Zuckerberg keeps diluting his site with more and more ads. Google bought You-tube so they could stuff it with ads. Making money is the cornerstone of all these ventures in America.

How much is enough?

Maybe when all the stockholders have bled the last stone dry…

Judge and Jury

July 28, 2013

Judgment by internet or social network sets a very bad precedent.

One example comes to us from this spring.

The incident occurred in Pueblo, CO, on May 20th.

The information had been put out on social media and the neighbors thought this one man fit the description. The mob chased the man down and began beating him.

The police arrived and rescued the victim and took him to the station. He cooperated with the investigation by giving a DNA sample to prove his innocence.

He refused to press charges against the assailants.

Nor did they apologize.

Without all the facts in the case, people can arrive at erroneous conclusions and the results can get awkward.

Maybe someday we will learn that somethings are better if not arbitrated by social media.

Social media should really just be about catching up with friends and family, voting Betty White to host SNL, and starting revolutions in Egypt.

It Is Still a Scam

July 24, 2013


A couple of years ago our garden was massacred when a tornado blew through our little village. Several large trees lightened their respective loads by releasing a few rather large limbs, and they did absolutely no good landing on our tomato and squash plants. Another tree fell on our shed and demolished it.

Still, what we got was minor compared to the fellow across the street. The tree in his backyard was toppled into his house, giving his bathroom with a much better view of the outdoors but it sure put a crimp on the privacy of the little room.

Anyway, we called our insurance agent… and got a recording. So, we left a message and waited.

Within an hour, the insurance adjuster arrived. No, not the one from our insurance company, the one for the fellow across the road. After twenty minutes there, the adjuster left with an encouraging word to the homeowner.

About an hour after that, our insurance company called back. And when could we expect their adjuster?

“Why don’t you just email the pictures to me?”

So, we emailed the pictures from our digital camera and a verbal description of the damage.

Several stages of phone tag later, we got the agent back on the phone and she said to go ahead and get the place fixed up. Well, except for the shed… it was so old, she said, they would not pay for the replacement of it.

A couple of days later – after sending several of the bills to the insurance company (scanned by email, of course) – the agent called back and complained of the high prices. What high prices? It was pretty much the going rates for yard cleanup and such from a company we have used before.

Since the cost was so much higher than she had estimated – like, we were supposed to have read her mind or something, huh? – she said we were going to have to forego some of the repairs.

Great insurance company, huh? They promised that we were in good hands but I suppose that is only for their auto insurance.

The next month, are bill arrived and my wife was outraged: the insurance rates went up!!

She called the agent and got the explanation that the rates would be higher for a year so they could recoup the legally authorized 60% of the money they paid out.

I thought there had been a law passed against that very thing years ago but I guess our wonderful legislators allowed that one to lapse (translation: they sold out to the insurance companies) or something.

Anyway, after a little math, I figured out that after years of paying the insurance company and the subsequent cost of the repairs, I could have simply gone without the insurance and taken a small loan to hire someone to do the repairs and I would have come out ahead.

Any way you cut it, insurance is just another federally mandated scam.

King of the Food Jungle, sort of

July 22, 2013


My wife and I were returning home from our vacation and she wanted to stop at the store to pick up a few things for the scholastic camp she is running in the summer school session starting next week.

She normally did this at the Shoppers Food Warehouse or Safeway nearer to the school but she likes to support the local economy in our small community rather than the one in Fairfax.

So we pulled into the local Food Lion, she pulled out her list, and we trundled into the store.

Now, a word of warning, if you have a Food Lion store near you (and it may just be a regional East Coast franchise for all I know)… if you have one near you: DO NOT ATTEMPT THIS.

Otherwise you will come away scarred!!

(maybe that’s a little harsh, but…)

Anyway, when we got to the checkout stand, she handed over the documents from the school to prove “tax-exempt” status. Schools won’t reimburse for sales taxes paid as they don’t pay any.

The cashier looked at us as if we were aliens or something. The she took the page to the manager who stared at the page and gave us the once over like we had pulled a weapon on her.

“I’m sorry,” she said, handing back the authorization documents, “but you will have to submit these to our corporate offices for approval. After that they will send us the authorization codes to process this request.”

My wife glanced at me before asking, “And how long will that take?”

If she was hoping it was something that could have been handled this afternoon, she’d have better luck sighting Bigfoot.

“About three weeks,” came the response.

So we had to foot the $5.80 in taxes…

No big deal, you say, but if you knew how much teachers normally pay out for students during the normal school year – and it is always quite a bit more than the measly $200 the IRS allows in right-offs.

Next time, she will just go to Shoppers, or Safeway, or Giant, or Albertsons, or Piggly Wiggly, or any of the other eighty-five stores that don’t have a problem with tax-exempt customers.

Before we left the store, the cashier told us that they had also turned away the local Baptist Church just that afternoon.

Food Lion, a mouse that roared.

This Year’s Menu

June 22, 2013


The big storm – “derecho” I think they called it – never materialized in our area, thank goodness. The one that hit last year destroyed about half the garden.

Our garden this year has taken a different course. Last year we tried for a lot of variety and wound up losing a lot of that stuff.

This year we decided to curtail the number of varieties and concentrate more on the stuff we actually eat.

We had six different types of tomatoes last year and canned about fifty jars of sauce, diced and whole tomatoes, juice and salsa. We like tomatoes and it seems the usual basis for so many of the dishes we eat.

So this year we are still doing the six varieties but have two or three plants of each. It is something we are guaranteed to eat.

Last year we started potatoes a little late in the season and, though we got a lot of them, most were a little small.

This year, we have tripled the potato patch and started early enough to get some bigger prospects. And we added sweet potatoes as well.

Peppers! Last year we had tabasco, jalapeno and banana hot peppers as well as pimento, Hungarian, and the standard green bells.

This year we cut the banana peppers but added habanero and serranos. Peppers are useful in so many of the dishes we cook so we love having as many as possible.

Kale, spinach, and two varieties of chard as well as the green beans. Last year we had vining beans but they were a bit messy so we’re trying bush beans this year.

And I hope the chard turns out as tasty as last year’s crop. Most chard I’ve had in the past has a little bitter edge to the flavor but that chard was exquisitely smooth tasting. Definitely worth a repeat. And the dozen cans we got out of it are all gone.

Looking forward to expanding our canning this year so we can actually make it through until spring on the food we have harvested.

It’s an exciting time!

Early Harvest

June 15, 2013


For several weeks we have been picking strawberries. Usually just a few a day, enough for cutting up in cereal for breakfast or as a nice snack after dinner in the evening.

Last weekend, the berries flourished and we were able to pick enough to can a half dozen jars of strawberry preserves. Yummy! Something to look forward to later in winter.

Now production has dropped off markedly. Just enough for breakfast and snacks but they are supposed to flower again later in the season and give us another crop just before autumn sets in.

But the blueberries are getting ripe now. Just a few to start, of course, but it looks like there may be enough in a couple of weeks to can up some blueberry jelly.

I love the harvest!

Don’t Blame Me, It Wasn’t My Default

June 11, 2013

My boss came into my office this morning in a bit of a panic!!

A big meeting was coming up in fifteen minutes and the report she had finished at home in the wee hours needed to be printed.

Unfortunately, her computer had a meltdown and she had to sign onto her system from my computer.

It didn’t take long to switch users and she very quickly had the document opened and sent to the printer. Fifteen copies for the attendees of the meeting.

It wasn’t very long before we heard the scream.

She rushed in with the reports – a mere two minutes before the meeting – and showed them to me: misaligned, funky font, screwed up pagination…

In other words, a complete mess.

And, quite naturally, she assumed it was something I had done…

Well, of course…

While she freaked out, I opened the document to see a very nice array of “arial” words running amok on the page. Having worked with her for some time, I am familiar with the settings she normally uses and changed everything to her normal… Seeing the document return to some sense of reality calmed her down tremendously. Then she just had to re-format a couple of places in the document to make it look “right” again.

I guess she didn’t know that the word document had reverted to windows default when it was opened on any machine other than her own. Working quickly, I reformatted the thing.

The reports were printed and delivered to the meeting only a couple of minutes late.

And, of course, she still blamed me.

She didn’t understand that it was not my default, it was the system’s.