September 11, 2010

  • Pictures

    Here are some pictures I took today of Liza in her Halloween costume.  Beth bought it at Target, and Liza tried it on when they got it home.  Liza loves it, and she didn’t want to take it off.

    I thought the pictures came out pretty well.  We printed some for her parents and for us to show off to our friends.


September 7, 2010

  • Cooking with Chef Mike

    I have so many     

    topics that I want to write about that it almost scares me to think about them.  Here is an attempt to embed a YouTube video.  I used to be able to do this easily, but the “new and improved” Xanga editor has me just a bit baffled.

    While Mike and Cat were having the cooking class at the restaurant, Liza was at Grandma and Grandpa’s house making chocolate chip cookies.  She and I cheated a little bit by using Pillsbury refrigerated cookie dough, but they were still delicious–and incredibly easy.  I told her that I could be the chef and she could be the sous chef.  She said no; I could be the Grandpa and she could be the Liza.  She has a few years yet before they’ll let her in the kitchen.


August 13, 2010

  • ObamaCare

    I hear the term ObamaCare used contemptuously by conservatives who oppose health care reform.  I won’t go into what I think of that position, but regular readers can probably guess where I stand on that.  I do, however, want to pass along an anecdote about something that happened today, and you can draw your own conclusions.

    I have a friend who has a severely disabling disease, and I’ve watched him deteriorate steadily for several years.  For the last 8 months or so he’s been having seizures almost every day, and all the nurological tests they’ve done haven’t revealed a cause.  Yesterday his wife took him to the doctor for a routine visit, and the doctor said his office was switching over to something called eScript for prescriptions because this will be ”required by ObamaCare in 2012.”  His office is trying to get a jump on the matter.  The web site of RelayHealth, the company that runs eScript, says this about it:

    Through eScript, prescribers can instantly assess the patient’s accompanying online medical profile and check for compliance with the patient’s health plan formulary. What’s more, RelayHealth automatically screens each prescription for possible interactions with recorded patient allergies, health problems or previously prescribed medications.

    Today the doctor’s office called my friend’s wife to say eScript revealed a serious medication interaction.  Two of his medicines, when taken together, cause seizures.  Duh!  Admittedly, the two medicines were prescribed by different doctors, but nobody, including the pharmacy they’ve used for years, caught it.  The next time you hear somebody use “ObamaCare” in a disparaging way, tell them this story and tell them to go interact with themselves.


August 10, 2010

  • Election 2010

    Like the rest of the country, we here in Florida are in the middle of an election.  In addition to a host of local races, we’re electing a new governor and a new U.S. Senator.  Two of the candidates are billionaires, and they’re both new to politics in the state.  According to the New York Times, one guy (a Republican) has already spent more than $20 million of his own money on his primary campaign for governor, and, according to the same article, another guy (a Democrat) has spent $7 or $8 million of his personal funds on his primary race for U.S. Senate.  Absentee voting has been going on for about a month, and yesterday they started early voting at polling places around the state for the primary election.  What’s both interesting and annoying is that we are being bombarded by TV campaign ads, and most of the ads are attacks on the opposition candidates.

    I suppose there’s really nothing ironic about all of this.  What is ironic, though, is that one of the candidates for the U.S. Senate has the same rather unusual last name as my son-in-law, my daughter, and my blond-haired, blue-eyed granddaughter, Liza.  Under most circumstances one would think that he’s a distant relative–and he might very well be–except that the candidate for the Senate is African American and my son-in-law and his family are very white.  Go figure.


August 8, 2010

  • Religious Bigotry

    Last Friday I posted about the current religious make-up of the U.S. Supreme Court (6 Catholics, 3 Jews, 0 Protestants), and I pointed out the irony in the fact that Catholics and Jews have historically been the object of religious bigotry. This morning, about 30 minutes after I came home from Catholic Mass, I read in the New York Times about the current round of religious bigotry that’s sweeping the country regarding Muslims. To read the article, . This is shameful to me, in the same way that all bigotry is shameful.


    EDIT: Sorry, but I couldn’t add the link. Here’s the URL for the story: Cut and paste this into a browser.


August 6, 2010

  • 6-3-0

    As of yesterday, with the confirmation of Elena Kagan for the Supreme Court, we now have six Catholics, three Jews, and zero Protestants on the nation’s highest court. I don’t know if this religious composition will have any significant impact on how they rule [the decision a couple of weeks ago not to hear a case that would have granted sovereign immunity to the Vatican in sex abuse cases makes me think it won't have much of an effect at all, at least as far as the Catholic Church is concerned], but this is a historic first for the United States.

    What’s remarkable about the current situation is that Catholics and Jews–more than any other religious groups–have suffered from prejudice and discrimination pretty much all through our history. It’s ironic that the two groups that have been persecuted now completely dominate the American judiciary. Another touch of irony is that I recently got into an argument with my cousin about having all those Catholics on the court. He’s a very serious and very “with it” Catholic. He’s also a lawyer, and his father was a federal judge. I maintained that having all those Catholics on the Court was potentially dangerous, and he maintained I was “full of shit.” We’re still great friends and probably always will be, but we relish “intellectual” arguments. Unfortunately, we disagree about so few things that arguments are hard to come by.


July 28, 2010

  • The Great Chicken Nugget Heist

    A trial was scheduled in Shorewood, Wisconsin, yesterday of a 15 year old boy–we’ll call him Adam because that’s his name–for stealing chicken nuggets off the plate of another student–we’ll call him Kakaree because that’s his name. In a video interview Click Here, Kakaree says he gave Adam the nuggets because it was March and he wasn’t eating meat that month (because it was Lent? we don’t know). A cafeteria worker saw Adam take the nuggets, and she reported the “offense” to the assistant principal. The assistant principal immediately called the police, and they came and arrested Adam. They put him in handcuffs and drove him to jail in a squad car.

    When the transaction between Adam and Kakaree was explained, the police told them that, in fact, Adam had committed a federal offense. It seems that Kakaree is part of the federal free lunch program, and it’s a federal “crime” for anyone not on free lunch to eat free federal food. In the face of protesters at the courthouse yesterday afternoon, the police and the school dropped the charges against Adam. Shorewood is a affluent suburb of Milwaukee, and the African American population of Shorewood is 2.4%. Both Adam and Kakaree are African American, not that that matters, of course. The comments by readers following an article in the Milwaukee “Journal Sentinel” about the case are some of the ugliest and most racist I’ve read in a long time. Here’s a link to that article: Click Here.

    I told this story at a meeting of a committee of the Council on Aging this morning, and everybody was appalled. But the fact is that if we aren’t able to deliver one of our Meals on Wheels because the person isn’t home, we have to either give it to another meal recipient or throw it away. We can’t give it to a random homeless person on the street, say, or eat it ourselves. We have to throw it away, just like Kakaree was expected to do. Based on the picture of the nuggets in the video referenced above, I’m surprised Adam could get those things down. He is 15, though, and 15 year old boys will pretty much eat anything.


  • Liza’s Castle

    We had some shipping boxes on our front porch for a golf tournament Beth is organizing, and Liza and I used them to build a castle. I kept calling the structure a fort, but Liza corrected me and said it was a castle. Here’s a picture.

    castle 1

    Here’s another picture.

    castle 3


July 21, 2010

  • Hawks and Squirrels

    We have about 30 trees on our half-acre lot, and most of them are oaks. Oak trees produce acorns, and squirrels LOVE acorns. Not surprisingly, we have had many, many squirrels in our yard for the 37 years we’ve lived in our house. They’ve eaten green tomatoes off our plants, picked pears before they’ve ripened (only to throw them on the ground after taking a single bite out of them), dug up newly planted seeds, and shredded our canvas patio umbrella, presumably to get material to use to build their nests. I’ve trapped them and turned them loose into the forest miles away from my house. I’ve recruited some of my friends who are hunters to take out as many as they could. I’ve shot arrows at them unsuccessfully with my bow. I haven’t put out poison for them for fear some unsuspecting dog or cat in the neighborhood would get into it by accident, but I’ve wanted to. Over the years I became largely resigned to the fact that the squirrels were just pests that I would have to put up with.

    That all changed this spring, though, when a pair of hawks nested in a tree across the street. The pair had three young that survived, and those 5 hawks have not been friends of the squirrels. In times past it was not uncommon to see 7 or 8 squirrels on our front lawn when I went out to get the mail, and they didn’t even have the courtesy to scurry when I walked out to the street. Since the arrival of the hawks, though, we haven’t seen a single squirrel in our yard or in neighbors’ yards. I’ve seen the hawks drinking water out of a puddle on the side of the street, but I haven’t seen them attack a squirrel. They must be doing that, though, or their mere presence has been enough to send the squirrels into hiding. Whatever it is, I’m happy about the hawks.


July 17, 2010

  • Kiting

    We took Liza to an exhibit of kites at the Visual Arts Center today, and it was remarkable. There were around 200 on display, and they came from China, Japan, Taiwan, and Korea. They were from the collection of Elizabeth Morrow, an art historian and professor someplace in Missouri, and Professor Morrow has personally flown all of them. Some of the more elaborate kites were a good 30 or 40 feet long, and most of them were beautiful. The title of the exhibit is “Art on a String,” and those things really are art. Liza was a lot more taken with the kites than I thought she would be, and her enthusiasm caught the attention of a lady who was giving an interview about the exhibit while Liza was telling Beth and me how much she liked different ones of them.

    We knew we wanted to take Liza to the exhibit today, so I bought a plastic kite (with string) for 3 bucks earlier in the week. Putting it together was a cinch (unlike the tissuepaper kites I struggled with as a kid), and we had it flying in no time. Liza had never played with a kite before, and she loved it. We did that until dinner was ready, and after dinner she asked if we could “go kiting” again. Neither Beth nor I had used the word “kiting”; in fact, I had never heard it before. Liza essentially invented a word, used it correctly, and communicated to me and her grandmother precisely what she wanted to do.

    What’s remarkable about this isn’t Liza’s fluency in English or her linguistic aptitude. What’s remarkable to me is that the English language allows us to invent words all the time without so much as a second thought, and those words communicate perfectly well what we have in mind. We’ve seen this phenomenon at work recently with concepts associated with the Tea Party political movement. Apart from arcane slang usage, terms like “teabagging” and “teabagger” were unknown in American English. The first time they were used in political discourse, though, everybody who heard them knew what they referred to. I became aware of the slang meanings of the terms when I heard them discussed on NPR [formerly National Public Radio], and I’m sure the rank and file adherents to the Tea Party had no idea of their unsavory meanings.

    William Shakespeare invented several thousand words that we use every day without knowing their histories, and today Liza joined Shakespeare’s ranks as a linguistic innovator. She’s “four-and-three-quarters” years old, but you and I do the same thing every day. Ain’t English grand?