February 28, 2008

What is it called when housing prices, energy prices, and food prices keep rising? What does it mean when the Fed keeps lowering interest rates? Trouble ahead is what I see.

February 27, 2008

Folksingers were very popular in the early sixties and one of the most popular was the Kingston Trio. The original three were Dave Guard, Nick Reynolds and Bob Shane. Their trademark striped shirts are shown in this clip of the very popular song, the MTA, about a guy who for some reason could not leave the vehicle.

February 26, 2008

Sister Wendy the art critic nun thinks that Chicago is a work of art. Hmm well it depends on who you ask I guess.

February 23, 2008

Oh my, poor me. My wife is a gemini and if you know anything about what signs someone is born under you will know a gemini is a person of many talents, all of which they like to do all at the same time. They start a project, then before it is finished it is tabled for a while so they can tackle another project. My wife is a gemini in good standing.

Now why did I start out with oh my, poor me? Actually I am saying that tongue in cheek, unless I am bemoaning my expanding waistline. She is currently in a baking mood, one of the really good creative moods she visits from time to time. I have in recent days had to endure eating my share and some of hers also of chocolate brownies, and now yesterday and today, a pineapple upside down cake, and today and tomorrow I have just discovered chocolate chip cookies are destined for the oven as I write.

In between the baking she is trying out some new recipes, for instance last night we had a Chinese meal of spicy garlic chicken and jasmine rice. Oh my God was that good. So feel sorry for me having to endure yummy delights. Oh, you don't, well I don't feel sorry for me either. I am smiling as I finish this hearing the oven beeping out a signal that says come take the cookies out of me and start sampling. That's my cue.

February 21, 2008

Some quotes are just meant to be paired. I was scanning a few this morning from the site GOOD QUOTES FROM FAMOUS PEOPLE, and I came upon these two close upon each other. It would seem that Golda could have been referring to the man with the large ego Picasso. Well he was right in one respect, he probably could have filled it with his big head.

"Give me a museum and I'll fill it."
- Pablo Picasso (1881-1973)

"Don't be so humble - you are not that great."
- Golda Meir (1898-1978) to a visiting diplomat

February 17, 2008


A second cup of coffee
The Sunday newspaper
Tuning in Meet the Press
A leisurely read of the op-ed section of the paper
Time to lay my head back and close my eyes
Moments to leaf through waiting books
Quiet conversations (is that an oxy-moron?)
Late breakfast or early lunches
Contemplating spring
Remembering long walks under branches of green leaves
Daydreaming of warm days on a quiet bench watching people scurrying to appointments and remembering when I was among them

Sunday kind of dreams that come easy and slowly because what's the rush anyway.

February 16, 2008

Chris Matthews while interviewing Jim Doyle, governor of Wisconsin, made a remark which I believe he had thought about previously, but said seemingly off the cuff. The subject was Obama and they were discussing Obama's ability to turn a phrase and make people cry with hope as they showed video clips showing just that on the campaign trail. He said most great politicians were able to give great speeches and he cited John Kennedy and Ronald Reagan.

I believe he is right. The great speakers are great because they are expanding on their dreams for us and for our country. To be great you have to be somewhat of a dreamer, able to edify what you see, to be able to make the listener think you are talking to them personally, evoking word images of how great we can be. In Franklin Roosevelt's case, he had to relieve our fears and give us hope when we had too many of the prior and none of the latter.

Kennedy was able to inspire us to dedicate ourselves and work together to accomplish a goal. We thought we were included in the mission to the moon, we flew with those astronauts, we shared the fears of the endeavor, Kennedy made us a part of it.

Reagan made us proud to be Americans again. He gave us back our optimism and confidence.

But one of the best ever I believe was Winston Churchill when there was little hope that Hitler and his mob would be stopped from coming over the channel and conqueringing England. The United States politics of non-intervention made us just sit back and watch. The speech Churchill made at a time when there was little or no hope, inspired the island nation of England to stave off the nazis. He inspired the English people and the RAF. They rallied. If they hadn't, history would have been drastically different.

This was their finest hour.


February 15, 2008

The biggest news in my world today is that C.C. Sabatha, the stud Cleveland Indians pitcher has decided that this will be his last year with the tribe. He can make more money elsewhere and so elsewhere is where he will go. My guess will be to the Los Angeles Dodgers since he is from California. My hope is that the Indians will entertain trade offers ala the Johann Santana deal and perhaps get a big bat in return. This is no surprise to anyone in this part of the country I am sure, just a fact of life. The athletes will follow the money.

On a far less real subject, I wanted to repost this first of a series of three stories I wrote a number of years ago. I enjoyed writing them because it contains elements of conjecture and whimsey. It is not very long, so take a read.


A Surreal conversation takes place between two unlikely participants.

The man, Augustus Robert Clary has grown old, and tired. The world outside this room no longer matters to him. His strength has been failing, so just turning on his side unassisted is an accomplishment of which he feels considerable pride. He peers through rheumy, nearsighted eyes at the stack of books sitting on his bedside table, and manages a smile as if again seeing old friends. They remind him of a time when he wasn’t riddled with sickness, one damn thing after another. Life is wonderful, he thought, and his had been, but the end sometimes can be hard when your strength has gone and turning from side to side becomes almost impossible. Your once vibrant body diminished to the degree that death is welcomed with open arms. He thought of death often now, in just that way. But like everything in life, death will happen when it happens, and who knows, he thinks, maybe he’ll cheat the collector of souls once again. He closes his eyes to rest a moment from the effort expended turning his worthless body in this direction. Oh how wonderful, and agile, and strong his body once was, he thought with a sad smile. But not being a bitter man and knowing he had gotten all a person could expect from a body designed to house a soul for seventy-four years, he felt fortunate that it had given him that, and ten more for good measure. And his brain, that wonderful organ that houses your ability to reason, and stores knowledge and memories, those wonderful memories, had continued to function well. That is until just recently, it seems, when a strange and wonderful thing occurred.

On a night several weeks ago, the house was silent and still, except for the occasional unidentifiable sounds that old houses make when the world outside is silent and a listening ear is alert enough to catch it. Unidentifiable it was, but not in a frightening way. The old man had heard these sounds for many years and they were always comforting to him, as they were now. Getting very old is much like being very young in sleep patterns. He dozed more now than he slept, and he tossed and turned, as he was doing this night. As he turned once again to his right side facing the omnipresent stack of books on the nightstand, he was aware of what seemed like two rays of light atop the stack. His eyesight, which had never been good uncorrected, and now with the aging process taking it’s toll, images were not always bright and clear to him. He blinked his eyes a time or two and looked again. The rays of light were still there and he was able to recognize them as eyes, glowing eyes. Now why he was not scared out of his wits, he never knew, but he suspected that since he was not always lucid now, and he knew it, that perhaps this was one of those times and he was imagining things or events that were not real. Whatever the case, he stared back at the two glowing eyes, and whispered “Hello there”, in the direction of the eyes. The bravado or stupidity of the act never occurred to him as he spoke the words, so he was not overly surprised when the glowing eyes answered back, “Hello to you too, my friend.” The old man gave a start, but then relaxed and stared until his eyesight seemed to clear and he was treated to the sight of two big ears, a pointed snout, long whiskers and a long tail. It was a mouse, he thought, not a regular mouse, but a mouse wearing horn-rimmed glasses. A sight to make an old man smile, and he did. There he sat, atop the stack of books as calm as could be. Not scared or skittish, but calm and collected, waiting politely, it seemed, for the old man to speak.

“I suppose I’m off on some drug induced trip, but it’s good to see you, Mr. Whatever your name is,” the old man said, as he looked askance at the mouse standing on the pile of books.

“Well, quite the contrary”, answered the mouse, “in fact your eyes are quite clear, and I believe all your mental faculties are functioning well for a man of your age”.

The old man was astounded by the mouse’s vocabulary and mentioned that to him. The mouse acknowledged that his vocabulary was superior to most mice, but he had spent many years acquiring his knowledge from well-known colleges in the mouse world and by constant reading.

“My name, by the way, is Winston James Cartier. You may call me Winston.”

The old man was impressed with the name, and it fitted him nicely. He seemed, to the old man, to be a mentally superior mouse indeed, to say the least.

“Thanks Winston, I shall. By the way my name is Augustus Robert Clary. You can call me Gus, if you prefer.” He said as a way of contrasting Winston’s option of correctness in his name preference. But if Winston took it as a reproach, the old man never knew as he smiled and nodded.

“Well Gus”, Winston said, “seems you’re a little depressed these days. Of course, I’m sure you feel that life has pitched you a hard inside fast ball, but you are of an advanced human age as you know.”

“No, to the contrary Winston, I don’t feel as if I’ve taken a cruel blow, I know I’m dying”, he paused for a brief second or two, “it’s just that dying is such a lonely road to go down.” Winston thought he was through speaking, but the old man started up again as if awakening from a deep thought. “We humans”, he began, “have many, many books available on the subject of dying, so we should be prepared, and we are, to a point, I believe, but it’s a road you must go down alone. It’s not fair to try and take loved ones too close to the path with you. They’ll have their time and once is enough.”

Winston mused that over for a while, then decided not to comment and asked instead, “Tell me about the women in your life Gus”.

Gus was surprised at such a request. “Wait a minute Winston, what the heck are you asking?”

‘No really,” Winston repeated, “I want to know more about you. Come on, you can clean up any parts you’d like,” he said with a smile.

Gus looked at Winston for a moment, “There was really only one woman in my life. I met her young, and kept her for sixty years. She gave me children, with a little help from me, of course, and we had fun in the creation process. I was never lonely when she was around, not for one minute. We talked and talked for sixty years. I wonder how any two people could have that much to say to each other. Oh, I really miss her,” he said and sighed, “but those were good years with a few being better than others”. He stopped and just gazed at Winston.

“I’ve never married,” Winston said, “but I would imagine that you gave each other purpose and direction in this life, is that not true?”

“Well, sure that’s true.” Gus answered.

“And now you feel that you have no purpose, no reason for carrying on, isn’t that right?” Winston responded.

“Good try my little mouse friend, but you don’t win a silver dollar for that one. Yes, I miss her terribly, every day, and I have no doubt I’ll see her again when I leave this life. But time is relative as you certainly know, and I’m certainly not trying to end this life any sooner than is necessary. I’ll wait. If it’s tomorrow, that’s good, if it’s a year from now, that’ll be okay too.” Gus relaxed, and paused a few seconds, then said in a questioning tone, “No, I’m anxious and ready for the gathering above, but what I’m not too sure of is how forgiving St. Peter at the gates will be. I have not lived a saintly life, and at times I have been too human, with all the foibles that entails. I’m not Catholic, so I don’t believe in purgatory, but even so, I don’t think I’m in for a free pass through the gates.”

Winston gazed at Gus with a condescending look over the tops of his glasses, “I have it on good authority that many theologians of different faiths believe that God is an all forgiving God, thus your admittance is assured.”

“I wish with all my heart that I could believe that in its entirety, but being human for all these many years, I know that we must take responsibility for our actions, and sooner or later we must pay the piper. Sorry for the metaphor. I suppose in the scheme of things, my sins might be a little less than some others, but who’s to know. Among our contemporaries the same sin today is probably less a sin than it was when I was young, but my brain cannot make that ninety or one hundred eighty degree turn on the judgment scale.”

Winston, in a consolatory tone of voice answered, “Agustus, my belief is that it is a matter of intent. When you sinned did you intend to sin?”

“Well no, it was not my intention to sin, but I knew the difference. I knew I was crossing over from right to wrong. I knew my sin would be hurtful to the other person, but I went right ahead anyway. But as in the old children’s story Pinocchio, I was blessed or cursed with a conscience as hard on me as Jiminy Cricket was on poor Pinocchio. I have felt contrition for my sins all my long life. But is that really enough to minimize the damage caused by me? I’m not sure of the extent of any damage I may have caused, or even if there was any, but regardless, whatever damage there was or is rests with me. Is there a statute of limitations on sin? I don’t think so.”

“Mister Augustus Robert Clary, I must say I am much impressed with you. I could regale you with a hundred platitudes and a hundred psychological theories, but I think you have it about figured out. Your theory of walking this earth and enjoying the fruits of your labors, but also bearing responsibility for your deeds and misdeeds are indeed commendable. I salute you and believe you are a good man. I could say what I believe will happen to you in the next world, but I think you know better than all of us. I have to go now Augustus, it’s getting toward dawn and if your caretaker were to see me, she would more than likely treat me rudely, so I will take my leave now and wish you well.”

Winston turned to go, then turned back again, “I believe, Mr. Clary, that the chances of you still being on this earth tonight are approximately seven to three according to all indicators I have studied in the medical books I have access to.”

He smiled then and turning away for the last time, looked over his shoulder. “If you are here tonight as I believe you will be, I would like to chat with you some more. Perhaps I can learn something I don’t know, however I doubt it.” Winston gave a quick smile, did a beautiful about face and walked jauntily away.

To be continued.

February 14, 2008

Looking out my window this morning I can tell it is cold, very cold. The sun is visiting for just a short while I'm sure, making the snow on the roof tops glisten brightly, and the snow on the ground is showing shadows of the black trees in elongated patterns. Tomorrows weather forecast says our low is going to be in single digits.

But today is the 14th day of February, Valentines Day actually, but also it is the day that pitchers and catchers report to all the major league training camps to start limbering up for a couple weeks before the rest of the team shows up and spring training gets under way in full force. It's the day baseball fans have been waiting for.

Yes, we've had football, college and professional, basketball, college and professional, and for those in more northern climes hockey also. But for dedicated fans there is no sport you can get your teeth into better than baseball. So for the next eight months we will dedicate some time each and every day to the health and well being of our chosen band of well paid brothers. We will rise with their successes and mutter over their failures hoping that when all the eliminating of lesser teams is accomplished that our chosen band will be standing tall and proud on that glorious day in October.

But for baseball fans of my age, who have watched many season, there was that wonderful time when we were part of the great game albeit in a little less grandness.

Millions of boys my age who spent a good deal of time growing up in post WWII America, in newly built housing projects, remember the empty spaces where houses had not yet been built, spaces just exactly the right size to accommodate sandlot baseball. Sandlot baseball, that wonderful game that fielded teams of little boys, big boys, in between sized boys, and the occasional girl who had the grit to get herself a little dirty and a little grass stained. Talent was not required, but a desire to play the game was. Equipment was ragtag, uniforms, of course not. It was going to be a great game if the game ball was still stitched up. Some of us never knew that baseballs were supposed to be white.

Games started whenever we could get together five or so for each team, games ended when one or more parents would open their front doors and yell for the pitcher, or first basemen to come home to supper.

Statistics or game notes were never kept, except in our hearts. They must have been written in the same ink that valentines are made from, because when this time of year, spring training, arrives the memories arrive with that picture in our hearts of those dusty days when our biggest fear was that the ball would unravel before the game was ended. I remember, I smile to myself knowing the ball has not completely unraveled yet.

February 13, 2008

I don't know about you, but I've been caught up in this cycles presidential race. I find that I am really enjoying the political shows, as the hosts and their guests get caught up in the excitement.

It's a little different this time around with the conservative radio hosts, Limbaugh, Beck and the newspaper conservatives ranting and raving but to no avail when it comes to the voters. It seems that they have come upon a disconnect with the thoughts of most of the voters, at least for this cycle, which of course, is the direct result of the Bush failed presidency and the desire for change with a big C.

I also am finding it exciting that the participants are finding a way to be civil and talk about the issues for a change, except of course for Hillary's husband there in S. Carolina. But she seems to have found a way to muzzle him, at least for a while. That too seems rather odd, him being the political animal that he is and the reaction from the voters to knock it off. I don't know how long the civility can last, but at least for now I really appreciate it.

Since we learn best from good examples, perhaps we can reacquaint ourselves with what civility means, or at least until it gets toward the end and the ends become more important than the means. But I hope not.

I have become an Ipod user and it helps me keep up with many of the political shows and columns. Some of the shows I load up with and watch at my leisure are Bill Moyers journal, Keith Olberman, Chris Matthews Hardball show, Slate magazines look at Todays newspapers, and a show that I have watched on television since it first started quite a while ago, and then lost track of it, but have rediscovered is The McLaughlin Group. It covers the events of the week with just enough nonsense and yelling to make it interesting. One of the original panelist and still hanging in there is Eleanor Clift. She gets my award for grit and she has plenty of it, but has to overcome a female voice with less volume when she is vying for attention from John the host while all the men talking at once try to out yell each other. It's a fun half hour.

February 8, 2008

Is the Iraq war over? Did we win? Can we go home now? You say we did win, good. What did we win? You say we can't go home, you say we will stay here another 100 years if necessary. Well if we won, could we at least divert some of the oil from there to our country? No we can't? You say we will have to stay and offer all the assistance we can to return the country to its normal state of affairs. What is that? You say our taxes will increase so we can afford the billions needed to fund our presence. You did say we won the war didn't you? Well anyway we must be thought of as heroes by the Iraqis, at least that's something. No, you said, they don't like us and they want us to go home. Well sometime in the next hundred years maybe they will like us, then everything will have been worth it. I am proud of the men and women who have fought this war. I really am proud of the new medals being awarded, the generational medal, for instance. It goes to all the families that have had the husband, the wife, and now their offspring serving in Iraq. I especially like the new commercial on television that shows the family that fights together stays together, it's touching. Well anyway again, at least war is quick and final, it is certainly a better option than talking and talking and talking and talking. I bet if we had just tried diplomacy, and you know what that is, just talk and talk, we would probably still be talking, and......wait a minute, maybe if....no that was just a errant thought I just had, let's get on with the war.

February 7, 2008

I don't know what to make of Joe Liebermann.

On one hand I applaud his independency, but on the other hand can a politician stand with one foot in each camp?

Is he a man of character or a man who is acting out of spite because the Democrats did not claim him as theirs in the last general election? He ran as an independent and won providing him with the proper props I would think to go his independent way, and I like that.

On the other hand how can he caucus with the Democrats and then turn around and endorse the Republican for president?

Evidently the Democrats have made up their minds and have stripped him of his super delegate status for the Democratic convention, which seems right to me.

So on the left side of my brain I say that the Democrats should read him out of the party. On the other hand I say Joe Liebermann is what most of us strive to be, an independent man, beholden to no one, but willing to take the consequences of that path.

Should Joe Liebermann be a chapter in Profiles in Courage, or be made to shorten his current title from Independent Democrat to plain Independent. That's not all bad is it?

February 6, 2008

Hello puzzle fans. This puzzle was sent to me by my 'cousin-in-law'. No such thing you say, yeah you're right so then I will say it was sent to me by Fred.
It asks the question: what 9 letter english word when you remove one letter at a time is another word until you have removed all the letters?
Thanks Fred. Take a look it only takes a couple minutes to watch the answer on a little film.

February 5, 2008

It seems that the way skewed to the right-righties of the Republican party are ganging up on the possible candidacy of John McCain. But if I were to vote Republican in the fall, even if I was not too enamored with McCain, this notorious threesome would almost make me vote for him anyway.

Why? Well he must be doing something right if he has a group so animately against him that include Rush Limbaugh, Ann Coulter, and Tom Delay. Can you think of a worse bunch of idealogues, non-objective, and in the latter example, a little crooked bunch of people.

February 3, 2008

Brains and Aging.

I read this article about my shrinking brain. It repeats the old saying, "use it or lose it". This time they're talking about us older folks.

I hope their recommendation on holding off this dire happening is true. They're saying we should with some diligence I presume start, if you're not already doing it, working crosswords and other brain teasing games. They help it says.

Also exercise of the more athletic kind is recommended. Our brains really do shrink and if I read it right, keeping it busy will hold off the onset of Alzheimer's by as much as five years, if it's in fact in the cards that we are going to be struck with it.

Crosswords I have been doing for years, but I've been doing it just for the fun of it. I wonder if it will lessen the fun now that I know I am doing it in part because it's a doctors recommendation? Nah, I'm not stupid, at least not yet.

Read the article: http://health.usnews.com/articles/health/brain-and-behavior/2008/01/31/keeping-your-brain-fit_print.htm

February 2, 2008

Kinda, sorta, good news for the Cleveland Indians came out of New York. The Mets just agreed to pay Johann Santana, a really good pitcher about 21 million dollars a year for seven years.

Why is this good news kinda, sorta for the Cleveland Indians?

Well they just happen to have the reigning Cy Young winner Charles Carsten Sabathia, CC for those outside of Cleveland, who is in exactly the same situation Santana is or was. He is going into his last year with Cleveland before going into free agency in 2009. The Indians are facing the dilemma of having a limited bankroll for salaries and losing him after this season to better financed ballclubs. So according to what I have read, the Indians have offered CC, or more correctly his agent, 20 million a year for five years, the most the Indians have ever offered to pay anyone in their history.

The good news? That's pretty close to the 21 million Santana is going to get, but two years shorter for the length of the contract. So should Cleveland be jubilent that it's even this close? and maybe they have a chance to sign him?

Cleveland fans do not have good memories of these contract talks and their stars going to free agency. The most recent star to walk for a few dimes more was Jim Thome, the one all of Ohio thought would certainly stay with the team who made him a star, but alas as with Manny Ramerez who also walked, so did the big Jimbo.

But hope springs eternal and since there's only one million dollars difference, what's one million between friends, mere chump change baseball style. But CC will probably want to have the seven years also and most teams do not want to sign pitchers to very long contracts. The Indians being one of many teams to get burned doing that, but today is another day and the Indians are on the upswing so maybe, just maybe they will open up the Jack Benny vault and taker another chance for the fans of Ohio, including me.

Well Punxsutawney Phil saw his shadow. The legend is if he sees his shadow then we will have six more weeks of winter. I ventured out yesterday myself and I can report that I did not see my shadow. As the matter of fact I think it may have been one of the ugliest days, weather wise, I've wallowed around in this winter. It was one of those days if a film maker were making a film about the travails of a rustbelt town he would have rejoiced because nature was providing all the necessary elements to provide the setting. The streets were wet with a little snow and the sun was invisible. I knew it was up there somewhere under all the dark clouds. The air we breathed was clear, but cold, cold, cold. When we emerged from Barnes and Nobel after about a half hour visit, we had to walk very carefully to our car because the lot had turned to ice. The streets likewise were turning to ice and the city trucks were out throwing salt again. All in all, I don't think I needed a report by the venerable Phil of Pennsylvania that winter is now yet over, I know, I know.