29 December 2008

States Shapes

Why is your state shaped that way?
Did the various English kings have much to do with it?
What about Congress? How much did they get into the detail of your state borders?
Why is there only one spot where four states meet?
Why is there a jog in the border between Massachusetts and Connecticut?
Why is Idaho that shape?
Read all about it in "How the States Got Their Shapes" by Mark Stein.
Verrrrrry interesting!

24 December 2008

Golden Age Gardens

I ran across a blog about flowers and gardens that I like, so I added it to the list of links. Check it out and see what you think of it.

21 December 2008

Glass by Chihuly in Phoenix

On Friday, Grandma and I went to the Desert Botanical Garden in Phoenix with the group from WMVAZ. Dale Chihuly has an exhibition of glass in the Garden that is absolutely beautiful. Here are a few photos from the trip.

11 December 2008

A Couple of Good Books

If you are interested in world history, I highly recommend "Guns, Germs and Steel" by Jared Diamond and "1491: New Revelations of the Americas Before Columbus" by Charles G. Mann.

02 December 2008

Christmas Trees

Yesterday was decorate-the-trees day here at Westminster Village. There were quite a few residents helping get the ornaments ready for hanging. The large tree in the reception area had been installed, so it needed decoration, while the small tree in Nuernburg Hall needed assembly as well as decoration. The end result of all our efforts came out quite well, don't you think?

01 December 2008

Care to Live in Scottsdale, Arizona?

If you're interested in a nice 2 bedroom, 2 bath patio home in a quiet community, I have just the place. It has just under 1600 sq. ft., with 2 master suites, laundry room, formal dining room, breakfast area, laundry room and pantry. Patio is tiled. The community includes a pool, spa and tennis court. And the front yard maintenance is taken care of. Grandma and I have moved out, so it is ready for the right person to move in. Think about it! No snow to shovel, blue skies, little rain. What more could you want?

If you're interested, let me know and I'll pass on your information to our realtor.

20 November 2008

A Storm To Remember

"The storm king..., with a loud, ear-piercing crash of thunder, and a hissing flash of white lightning, gave the signal to the elements to begin the attack. We cowered helplessly under the shock, sensible that human strength was insignificant in comparison with the power of the blast which roared and yelled and shrieked about us.
"For hours the rain poured down - either as heavy drops which stung by their momentum; as little pellets which drizzled through canvas and blankets, chilling our blood as they soaked into clothing; or alternating with hail which in great, globular crystals, crackled against the miserable shelter, whitened the ground, and froze the air. The reverberation of the thunder was incessant; one shock has barely begun to echo around the sky, when peal after peal, each stronger, louder, and more terrifying than its predecessors, blotted from our minds the sounds and flashes which had awakened our first astonishment, and made us forget in new frights our old alarms. The lightning darted from zenith to horizon, appeared in all quarters, played around all objects. In its glare the smallest bushes, stones, and shrubs stood out as plainly as under the noon sun of a bright summer's day; when it subsided, our spirits were oppressed with the weight of darkness. No stringing together of words can complete a description of what we saw, suffered, and feared during that awful tempest. The stoutest hearts, the oldest soldiers, quailed."

This was written in 1891 by John G. Bourke in his book "On the Border with Crook" about a storm a group of soldiers encountered near the Yellowstone River. I highly recommend the book to anyone interested in the history of General Crook's campaign to bring the western tribes onto reservations peacefully.

06 November 2008

Over, At Last

After sixty trillion days of campaigning, or so it seems, it's finally over. Except for the dissection by the media, that is. I don't know how you feel about the campaign and the results, but I sure am happy that I won't need to listen to all the rhetoric, most of which was negative. To think of all the money spent by all the candidates boggles the mind. Why can't we be civilized and limit the campaigning to about six weeks? Maybe even less. Give the candidates four weeks to present their positions, then give the voters two weeks to ask questions and decide who to vote for, then let 'em vote. Would save a whole bunch of money that could be put to better use. Why not?

31 October 2008

Charles Albert Barnhart

We were in Rochester for the second time this month to lay Grandma’s brother, Charles, to rest. He suffered from Parkinson’s disease, was hospitalized for pneumonia, then his heart gave out. He was 81. He died on the 23rd. We were at the funeral home for the private service, then went to the cemetery for the service there. His wife and two sons were devastated by his death, as they were a very close family. I liked Charlie. He had a great sense of humor. Every once in a while, I’d call him an old fogey, and he’d say that was the pot calling the kettle black. I always had to agree, since I’ve had my old fogeyish moments. He called his sister “Brat”, and she came right back with “Rat”; they talked every Sunday. Toward the end, he was losing his hearing, so Grandma would have to shout into the phone. When they were done, she would tell me about the conversation and I’d have to remind her to stop shouting. We’ll miss him.

15 October 2008

A Promise To Keep

Grandma and I are about recovered from our trip to Rochester, NY for the funeral of Uncle Henry. While at the Memorial Service, I stopped to talk with a cousin, Clarence Carman, Jr. and his wife, Ana. We talked about our great grandmother, Wilhelmina Steinmetz Spies Plock (nee Kell), and the circumstances of the death of her first husband, Wilhelm Steinmetz. Clarence had a theory, from something he heard as a child, that Wilhelm had been murdered by a soldier who was in love with Wilhelmina and wanted her for himself. Somehow or other, the soldier was killed, resulting in Wilhelmina having to quickly leave Germany with her three daughters. Clarence and I had had this conversation before, and last Saturday I promised to do everything I could to find out the truth, and then let him know. Unfortunately, Clarence died on Monday, the 13th. I'm sure he has since learned the truth of the matter, but so far has not been able to reveal it to me. I'll keep on researching the question, though, because I had made a promise.

13 October 2008


Of all my uncles, I favored Bill Miller and Henry Goebel. As a young boy, I wanted to be named Bill, and I also wanted to be as tall (over 6’) as Henry, “Unc” to my brother and me. Occasionally, when I worked at Xerox Corporation, someone would mix me up by calling me “Bill”, but I never attained the height of Unc; close, but I stopped at 5’10”.

Unc was the fourth child of German immigrants, only two of whom lived to adulthood. In his youth, he built model airplanes powered by rubber bands and entered them in contests. One contest in Cleveland, Ohio resulted in second prize - a check which was signed by Orville Wright; he never cashed the check because he felt the signature to be worth more than the money. He told me the story about winning second prize. It seems that his airplane flew a long time and finally flew out of sight. The judges held a quick conference and decided that they should try to keep the planes in sight, so they followed the next planes, resulting in someone else winning first prize.

He and a friend built the first glider in the area in his parent‘s attic, and took it to a local park where they flew in it. The part I enjoyed hearing about is how they had to remove a double window and frame in order to get the glider out so they could assemble it.

He was the Secretary of the Left Handed Golfers Association, now defunct. In the 40s, I remember him using the stationery for correspondence. He won tournaments around the area, and I had the pleasure of caddying for him occasionally when he belonged to Brook Lea Country Club. Between the 9th and 10th holes, we stopped at an ice cream store adjacent to the course for refreshments. He had the honor of golfing with the great Walter Hagen, but never boasted about beating him. His nickname in his prime was “Hammerin’ Hank”, and, in his later years when I called him that, he laughed and said “Not any more”; but it brought back pleasant memories.

He was a sports nut and enjoyed relating the story of his honeymoon when he found there was a golf tournament in the area. He checked with the tournament director and found there was an opening, so he signed up and spent the weekend golfing. I don’t remember whether or not he won anything. He did have a nice collection of prizes and trophies that he accumulated over the years. As an amateur, he wasn’t allowed to accept any large monetary awards.

At his funeral and memorial service last Saturday, we heard many wonderful comments about his life. The positive effect he had on others will stay with us for years to come, and will echo through the generations of his descendants.

05 October 2008

DNA Test

Ancestry.com had an offer last month for half price to have one's DNA tested, so Grandma and I signed up. We received the swab kit last week, swabbed three times, and returned the swabs in the enclosed envelope. Now to wait for the results. Will I find I'm related to Cain or Abel? Time will tell.

03 October 2008

Ah, Autumn

This morning, Grandma and I had a bunch of things to do. We stopped at Home Depot to buy Geraniums, then went to the house to pull out the Vinca, which was beginning to die out, and replace them with the Geraniums. On to gas up the Escape ($3.339/gal.). We noticed that a local drug store was offering flu shots, so we stopped in and got suitably punctured and bandaged. Then off to the library to pick up a book that Grandma had ordered. Back to Westminster Village and the bank here for Grandma to make a deposit and to straighten out our address in their records. All before 10 a.m. Now to relax before meeting with some neighbors for dinner tonight.

The forecast is for the 100 degree days to become a not-so-fond memory, with temperatures dipping into the 80's and a storm this weekend. I suppose it won't be long before the air conditioning is turned off and the heat goes on. We are able to have the doors open in the morning and could have a cuppa coffee on the balcony. Hope you're all enjoying the seasonal changes.

28 September 2008

Henry Edward Goebel - 1911 - 2008

Henry Edward Goebel - "Unc" to my brother and me - died Thursday, September 25, 2008 in Rochester, New York, well past his 97th birthday. He was the youngest son of Clara Marie Steinmetz and Heinrich Göbel, both German immigrants, and my mother's brother. He was an extraordinary man. If I had to use only four words to describe him, they would be "never a discouraging word". He was my uncle, my friend and my mentor. I caddied for him when he belonged to Brook Lea Country Club, and we golfed together in later years. I'd answer the phone and hear "Hey Rob, want to go hit some shots?"; he knew a couple of par three courses, so we'd take a 9 iron and putter and go try to make par. Or I'd hear "Hey Rob, want to go bowl a few games?", so we'd meet at the lanes on West Henrietta Road. He had a game where low score won; just pick off the 7 and 10 pins each frame for a perfect score of 20. A gutter ball was worth 10. Try it sometime. Or I'd hear "Hey Rob, want to go swimming?", and we'd be in the University of Rochester pool - free because he was an alumni.

I wrote about him in my blog in October 2006.

Every day was a new adventure to him. I'll miss hearing him say, when I call, "I'm vertical", and I know a bright light in our lives is gone. But, ah, such wonderful memories!

23 September 2008

Jigsaw Puzzles

Grandma was holding a Scrabble contest with two former neighbors (she won 3 of 4 matches) so I decided to wander around the complex rather than have my tender ears assaulted by the shouted insults hurled by the combatants at each other. The billiard room was occupied so I checked out a sitting area down a side corridor. I found a "reading room" area with a table for working on jigsaw puzzles. There was one in progress, so I decided to give it a try and wound up finishing it off. Which reminded me of the times when my brother and I, in our younger days, would work on puzzles together. Only the "together" meant that we would go just so far before it became a contest to see who could put in the last piece. Our strategy was simple: hide one piece until the end. Well, it's difficult to put in the last piece when we each held one out. That usually led to parental intervention.

Now I have a place of peace and quiet to go to during the Scrabble wars.

06 September 2008

The House

It seems as though I've been back to the house every day since we moved out. There was a lot more in the garage cabinets than I realized. There were some items we advertised on Craig's List that sold, and some items that didn't. I donated the 6 display panels I had built for the art sale two years ago, along with a bunch of frames we had no room for, to an art teacher in South Phoenix; they were picked up Thursday. We had taken two car loads to the Goodwill Store in Scottsdale. Today, we might sell the curio cabinet; the potential buyer came over this morning to look at it and will call later to let us know one way or the other. If she declines, we will call Terri's Consignment to check it out along with a decorative pot; they are the only items still in the house. The only items in the garage are some things the new homeowner will be able to use, such as paint, water filters, evaporative cooler replacement parts, furnace filters, etc. While we were there, we replaced the dead flowers in the front entry, and I trimmed some of the shrubs in the side yard. Maybe one more time to check for paint touch-up inside, then we should be done. Now all we need is a buyer.

31 August 2008

Labor Day

"If all the cars in the United States were placed end to end, it would probably be Labor Day Weekend." Doug Larson

25 August 2008

More Numerical Biography

I have lived at these places, in approximate order:
43d08'55.84"N, 77d35'50.83"W (has since been demolished) 1953;
43d10'22.56"N, 77d37'48.68"W (approximate location) 1954;
43d06'29.98"N, 77d37'58.47"W 1956;
43d00'43.14"N, 77d37'04.06"W (my father built this one) to 1964;
43d03'20.56"N, 77d35'22.83"W to 1977;
43d06'02.30"N, 77d25'41.68"W to 1978;
43d15'07.50"N, 77d16'40.47"W to 1990;
33d23'29.15"N, 111d38'43.02"W (while waiting for the house to be built in Scottsdale).

22 August 2008

A New Type of Biography

Rick Watson and I were exchanging GPS coordinates of places we live/lived in, and it got me to thinking. Our whole lives could be described by a series of GPS coordinates of the places we've lived and visited. For example:
I lived here until age 10: 48 degrees 00'07.21"N, 78 degrees 10'32.49"W;
I next lived here: 43 degrees 08'11.17"N, 77 degrees 35'44.79"W;
Next home was: 43 degrees 08'10.86"N, 77 degrees 35'42.61"W;
Next move was to: 43 degrees 08'12.38"N, 77 degrees 35'45.82"W;
School grades 6 & 7 was: 43 degrees 08'12.30"N, 77 degrees 36'01.65"W (The school has been converted into condominiums.);
School grades 8 through 12 was: 43 degrees 08'48.86"N, 77 degrees 35'53.79"W;
First semester college was: 42 degrees 43'55.14"N, 84 degrees 28'55.88"W. (The actual quonset village we were housed in has long ago been demolished.)

Get the picture?

10 August 2008

In Between

We're in between houses now. We've paid for our new digs and are trying to get the old house sold. So we're busy carting some belongings to the new spot. In the meantime, I'm in the middle of having a bridge put in my mouth because of a cracked root and infected gum. Will see an oral surgeon Tuesday to have bits and pieces of the root extracted that our dentist couldn't get at. So it's euphoria and pain killers. What a combination!

Today, we take Ginger to introduce her to her new home.

24 July 2008

More About the Protest

Here's a photo of Grandma Barnhart with her protest sign. Mr. Cuomo was the Governor of New York at the time we were protesting the superconducting super collider. And another photo of the protest sign I said we were going to salute in a previous post. And we saluted it.

Creepy Crawlers

This morning, I walked into our closet and happened to look up. Ohmygosh! A huge spider was looking down on me. It was about two inches across. Grandma brought a water glass that I used to capture it. And then it went swimming - down the toilet. I have no idea where it came from or how long it had been in the house.

Then as we were getting ready to go out for our walk, there was a HUGE beetle crawling along the garage floor, probably a palo verde beetle. Four inches long! So I swept it into the street and left it to find a more accommodating domicile.

That's enough creepy crawlers to last for the next umpty-ump years.

12 July 2008

Tidy Living

Now that our house is on the market, we've been living a very tidy life. Kitchen counters are uncluttered; our desks are so neat, it's hard to find anything; the floors are cleaned every day; outside litter is cleaned up or blown away. It's a new way of living, and Grandma says we should continue it in our new digs.

One of the surprises was to find how much paperwork of various types we had stored in a four drawer file cabinet. We've been sorting it all out - it only took 18 years to accumulate. Some goes with us, some goes to the new homeowner, and some goes in the trash. We have a large shredder and we've been keeping it busy; so far three large trash bags full have gone out the door.

We had a rain storm Thursday night that left a lot of debris in the front yard. I had hoped the landscapers would come through to clean up, but no. So I did pick up as much of the larger stuff as I could handle. The timing was bad because the landscapers are here on Thursday for the weekly clean-up. The yard looked good for any prospective buyers for a few hours.

Now we're on tenterhooks, waiting for the next agent to call and schedule a visit.

29 June 2008

Our Protesting Adventure

There was an article in the paper today about the collider in Europe about ready to be turned on, which reminded Grandma and me of the time long, long ago when we joined the protest movement in the town of Ontario, New York. Well, here's how it happened:

Back in the 1970s, our Government decided that we, the people of the United States, and more specifically, the scientists among us, needed a super collider to play around with, so they initiated a contest among all the states to see which state would have the best plan. Never mind that work had already begun in Europe to design and build a super collider, and that our scientists would be able to share in the work there. So the Powers-That-Be in Albany, New York appointed a commission to prepare plans for, not one, but two sites. One site had the southern arc of the huge circular collider running right under Hill Cummorah, the sacred hill where Joseph Smith found the plates that were used to found the Church of Latter Day Saints. Needless to say, the Mormons were not amused, and applied enough pressure on the commission that they moved the giant circle a few miles north, which put the northern arc right under our house. It was to run under the local cemetery, down our street, and under the local Methodist Church, which is on the national register of historic places. When the plans were leaked to the public, a massive protest was undertaken. Grandma and I, along with Grandma's mother, and many neighbors joined in the protest rallies and marches. There was an informational meeting of the residents with the commission members and the Lieutenant Governor, at which we were all allowed to speak for or against the project. I stood and informed everyone present that the work would involve digging up the cemetery where Civil War veterans, and members of Grandma's family among others, were buried. At that, the Lt. Gov. turned to the commission members and asked if that were true; they concurred. As I remember, only one person spoke in favor, and he was roundly booed. Not too long after that we learned that the project had been granted to Texas, and after several millions of dollars were spent on the Texas site, the project was dropped.

Grandma and I have fond memories of our days as civil protesters, when we made banners and placards and marched, chanting "No collider here", through the streets of Wayne County. One former neighbor still has one of the protest signs hanging prominently in their garage. We plan to salute it when we visit them in July.

14 June 2008

Oh, My Aching Knees

Today, I have housemaid's knees, having spent a good deal of time yesterday on my hands and knees cleaning the tile and grout in our laundry room. We have a Hoover carpet/floor cleaner, which I used to go over the tile twice, before getting down to attack the grout. My neighbor showed me a special brush for cleaning grout, which works well. It can attach to a handle, so one doesn't need to get down and dirty, but I find that I needed to really scrub hard, so... After the two washes, I ran the cleaner over the floor again using clean water with no soap, before applying grout sealer, on my hands and knees, of course. It was well worth the effort, as the floor virtually gleams today.

02 June 2008

What Happened, Jacob?

"What do you mean, there's no more Popsicles left? I was just getting started."

Pomp and Circumstance

Well, so much for Pre-school! Twelve more years and Corbin will be college material. And breaking hearts along the way!

23 May 2008

Just Fishin'

The other day, Rick Watson, on his "Life 101" blog, told a fish story, and that reminded me of something that happened about 60 years ago in a far away place...

But first, a report on our weather. Last Sunday, we broke a record at 110 degrees, and today we'll top out at about 75, cloudy and rain. And we should be back in the 100s by next Wednesday. Some roller coaster, eh what?

Oh yeah, fishing. Well, I've written previously about Joe Maloney, who I believe is still wanted by Interpol. This is another Joe Maloney story.
South of Rochester, NY is a county park called Mendon Ponds. There are several ponds within the park boundaries, including one with a sand beach. At one time it was possible to rent rowboats there, which we often did in our pursuit of fish - Largemouth Bass, Strawberry Bass and Northern Pike. One day back in the 40s, Joe and I were at the beach area. I don't remember the time of year, but the beach was closed, so it was probably in the spring. Anyway, we were using worms and were casting out into the water to see what might decide to bite, when I heard Joe shouting "Bob. Bob. What do I do now?" I looked over to find Joe at one end of his line and a duck flying in circles at the other end of the line. It seems he decided it would be more fun to fish for ducks, and now he had hooked into a live one. I told him to reel in his line, and we unhooked the duck to everyones relief, especially the duck's and the rest of the flock that was all a-quack. Fortunately, there was nobody else around, particularly the game warden, so we packed up our gear and headed out.

I don't know what the moral of the story is, but I don't remember ever going fishing with Joe again.

20 May 2008


Last Friday, our canine alarm clock, Ginger, started "talking" to us at her usual time of 5:20 a.m., so we woke up and went through our usual routine: feed Ginger, eat breakfast, have coffee and read the newspaper. Sometime after all that, go for our walk. Monday, however, the routine changed. We still had our early alarm, got Ginger fed, but then we went out for our walk before anything else. Why? Well, it turned out that the temperature was predicted to be in the 100s, so we wanted to get out before it became too warm. Good thing, because a new record was set - 110! And it's predicted to be 105 today. A short taste of the summer then back down in the 90s tomorrow and maybe even in the 70s on Thursday. I'm not ready for the summer heat yet!

15 May 2008


The only thing I could think of was Chase asking "Is it soup yet?"

06 May 2008

Sam's Two Birthdays

Our good friend, Sam, celebrated his 70th birthday this month. He was a New York State Trouper, and has many funny stories to tell about his adventures there. He and his wife, Joy, moved to Arizona and enjoyed the good life until his heart began to fail. He was added to the heart replacement list, and was sent to Tucson where he received a slightly used heart in February 1991. Since then, he has been taking his many medications regularly, and has passed all the tests given to heart transplant patients. He lives on the other side of the Valley, so we don't see him and Joy as often as we'd like. So here's to Sam's 70th May birthday, and we're happy to see him celebrate his 17th birthday in February as well. We wish him many, many more of both!

03 May 2008

Fifth of May?

Well, it's that time of year again when normally patriotic Americans go all out to celebrate a small battle fought in Mexico in the 1800s in which some Mexican soldiers beat some French soldiers before losing the war. Yes, it's Cinco de Mayo time. As it was explained to me yesterday in Watercolor Class, who cares that it's a Mexican celebration, it's a good excuse for going out and consuming copious quantities of marguaritas and burritos. I think I'll pass. I'm waiting for November 5th (Guy Fawkes Day) so I can fill up on English stout and Steak and Kidney Pie. Or maybe October 3rd (Unification Day) for some Liebfraumilch und Sauerbraten. We'll see.

15 April 2008

Odds 'n Ends

We had a problem with flies in our vanity area. In the morning, there were 6 or 7 hanging around the skylight, which I disposed of via Hoover's cleaner. The next day, more of the same. So up on the roof I went to check the skylight. Surprise! It wasn't attached to the roof! I could lift it right off. Fortunately, Home Depot is right around the corner, so I drove over and bought a replacement unit. All OK except the replacement let in more light and was energy efficient. That's when Grandma decided we should replace the other 3 skylights. Now we have light, no flies and are more energy efficient. Turns out the others weren't fastened down very well either.

This political campaign season, unfortunately, is as devisive and uncivil as past campaigns. It would be nice if the candidates attacked the issues and not the people running against them. What many voters have lost sight of is that there will be change regardless of which candidate or which party wins. The large question is: Will the change you propose be for the better or will your change make things worse?

And don't forget that it is Congress that controls how our taxes are spent. If you don't like what happens to your money, go after your Congressmen/women. The President suggests and Congress spends.

Our neighbors are getting ready to leave this beautiful weather and head back to Omaha. Grandma and I can't even think of getting away from the Valley of the Sun. This is the right time of year to be using our evaporative cooler instead of the air conditioner. Unfortunately, it needs some work to repair or replace the water pan, which is all corroded. So the agenda for this week includes visiting a few shops to find what alternatives are available (low cost, we hope!).

I read an article recently that said the origin of the Olympics torch ceremony started in Germany under the Nazi regime. With all the problems with protests along the route it might be time to end another reminder of Hitler and his henchmen.

05 April 2008

More Computer Stuff

I don't know what kinds of problems you've had in setting up a new computer, but I've had a bunch over the past few days. I already wrote about the iTunes problem. Well, since then,I've experienced a strange phenomenon: the PC would suddenly shut down, then start up, then shut down, repeating the cycle every few seconds, until I turned off the main power. When I turned on the power an hour or so later, it started up normally, then about 5 minutes later, it started the on - off cycle again. Not knowing anything better to do, I restored the system to Day One. That meant re-installing all my programs, and re-copying files from my external hard drive. This time I kept a log listing each step of progress. And I've been selective in copying files. So far, so good.

The problem with the duplicate iTunes music was overcome as follows:
I went into the external hard drive and deleted the complete music file. Then I copied the music file from my laptop into the ext. hard drive, then copied it into the new PC. Problem solved! It turned out that the ext. hard drive had been storing earlier versions of the music file, including some duplicate items.

It seems as though I almost know what I'm doing.

26 March 2008

New Computer

Last Saturday, we bought a new HP desktop PC with Windows Vista Home Premium already installed, so I started to set it up on Sunday. But first I copied all my document files from the laptop to an external hard drive; it took over an hour just to copy all my music in the iTunes folder. Loading software went OK except for the Broderbund Print Shop 20, which is no longer supported by Broderbund. So I dug up version 15 and loaded that with no problems. I managed to get my mail working, but only one of the three addresses, so I need to get Cox involved in that process. (We use Mozilla Thunderbird for mail and Mozilla Firefox for Internet access.) The PC came with Norton security, which I un-installed, because we subscribe to McAfee. The surprise came when I opened my iTunes file and found more music than I had on the laptop computer. Somehow or other, some tunes were duplicated, others were there but with no data other than the name of the tune. And when I tried to delete the duplicates, I couldn't. They're still there. Anyone have any ideas?

14 March 2008

An Adventure

The first school trimester at Michigan State College ended in the middle of December (1948), so Bill Cass, one of my 13 roommates, and I decided to hitchhike home. Bill was from Frewsburg, in southwest New York state, and I was from Rochester, so we could travel together to Buffalo before going our separate ways. Because of the cold winter weather, I was wearing a sweater, my ROTC winter coat covered by a top coat, with a scarf wrapped around my neck. As was the custom in those days, neither of us wore a hat.

We started out in East Lansing by riding with a family as far as Port Huron. Our good fortune continued as we were picked up by a trucker who took us to Hamilton, Ontario. It was early evening when he let us off. Shortly thereafter, we were picked up by a hockey player who was going as far as Buffalo. Bill hopped into the front seat and I settled into the back seat and promptly fell asleep, expecting to be awakened in Buffalo. Imagine my surprise when I woke up to a pleasant female voice telling me to wake up for breakfast. More surprise when I opened my eyes to find it was a nurse in the St. Catherine‘s Hospital. And I with my right arm taped to my chest. Bill was in an adjacent bed.

The story, as I found out later, was that the car skidded on some ice and slid into a steel light post, hitting about where my knees were. The ambulance crew thought at first that I was dead because of all the blood - caused by numerous cuts from window glass when my head hit. I suffered a broken collar bone; more severe injury was avoided probably because of all the padding I was wearing. I was asleep, then probably knocked unconscious by the blow, then sound asleep again in the hospital bed. I did have the sensation that I saw the lamp post coming at us, but it’s a very vague impression. The driver had a bump on his forehead and Bill had gravel in his hands as the result of being thrown out of the car when the door was flung open from the momentum.

My parents were notified and came to bring me home, where I went to visit the doctor for further treatment. He checked the x-rays, noting that the bones had shattered at the break, then left the room. I heard the sound from the basement of someone sawing wood, wondering what remodeling he was having done, when he walked back into the room carrying a piece of plywood. He had sawed it into the shape of a T and taped it to both shoulders and across my stomach. “There,” he said, “that should hold it while the bones knit.”

I wore the brace for a bunch of months, including a train trip back to East Lansing to turn in my ROTC uniform and pack up my clothes. Believe me, it’s not very comfortable to wander through life with a piece of plywood taped to one’s back. It eventually came off, and the break did knit, but to this day there’s a bump at the break.

09 March 2008


One of the shots on my home movies is of an engineer who I was working with at Haloid Xerox/Xerox Corporation in 1959 and 60. His name is Onni Niemi and the scene includes his wife and two daughters. He was dark complected; one of his co-workers asked him what his origin was and he said he was a Blackfoot Indian, at which he was asked to take off his shoe and sock and prove it. Well, he didn't, but he did admit to me that he was of Finnish extraction, and was embarrassed by his country's actions supporting the Nazis during World War II.

The reason this comes to mind is the recent news about Patrick Swayze and his fight with cancer. Mr. Swayze is married to a lovely woman named Lisa Niemi. I have often wondered whether or not she is related to Onni and if she might be one of the girls in my movie.

01 March 2008

Love And Marriage

When I was in grammar school, there was a taunt that was used whenever a guy was caught talking to a girl: "First comes love, than comes marriage, then comes Robert with a baby carriage."

In my day, we understood the proper sequence. Anything other than that would result in an illegitimate child, that is, a bastard, or one born "out of wedlock”, which brought shame to the family. Usually, the parents would try to find a place out of town where the child could be born, to be adopted out, thereby avoiding the stigma of a bastard child in the family. Or an abortion could be arranged, again out of town. The girl would attempt to resume a normal life, despite the fact that practically everyone knew of her “predicament”, especially her classmates; after all, guys did like to brag about their conquests.

Somewhere down the line, things got turned around and now it appears that it's just fine and dandy if baby comes before either love or marriage. Of course, problems come right along with that change. In a one-parent house, the child suffers from the lack of two-parent guidance; one of the parents becomes a part-timer, regardless of the good intention to "be there" for her/him. As the child grows up and faces schoolmates, the inevitable questions arise about parents: “Where is your father/mother?”; “Why don’t you have a father/mother?”; “Why doesn’t your father/mother live with you?”; etc. Children can be cruel.

21 February 2008

Lunar Eclipse

Last night was the night of the lunar eclipse and people hereabouts were frustrated to find clouds obscuring the eclipse. Instead, we had a good old fashioned desert thunderstorm roll through the valley. Lightning was flashing, thunder bouncing off the walls and a good downpour to wash the dirt away. Grandma was at a neighbor's house playing Scrabble and called to have me come pick her up because of the storm. (She won 2 out of 3.) It was well after 11:30 before the storm subsided. More on the way tonight, but we're not planning to go anywhere.

12 February 2008

Friday, 10 February, 1978

It was cold and snow on the ground when Grandma and Granpappy said their vows in front of family. Daughter Gail was maid of honor and son Mark was best man. Daughter Chris had just had a son Jacob on Monday so wasn't able to attend. So on that date 30 years ago, Grandma became a wife, mother and grandmother all in one fell swoop. Grandma's parents and her brother and family were there to witness the blessed event. An article appeared in the Webster paper a while later relating an incident that happened during the ceremony: son Jamie was manager of an apartment complex at the time and half way through the ceremony his beeper went off and he had to get to the phone to answer the call.

And who knew when we went back to Bailey Road for wedding cake that 30 years later we would be living in Scottsdale and celebrating at Ruth's Chris Steak House. It doesn't get any better than that!

11 February 2008

Taxing Our Brains

Grandma and I spent the better part of Saturday working on our taxes. This year, Grandma had everything all listed with supporting documents to make the job easier. Why did it take so, you may ask. It turns out that we were using last years Turbo Tax program and didn't realize it until we were about half way through the forms, having input a lot of information. When we discovered the problem, it took a while to find where I had hidden the new software and to get it installed. (We call that a "senior moment" around here.) Some information was copied automatically, but we had to go back to square one to enter our financial information. So now we're done and the reports have been printed, ready for checks to be written and returns to be mailed.

27 January 2008

Gloomy Sunday

We're having what us former New Yorkers call a "Rochester Day" - gray skies and rain. The forecast is for up to 1 inch of rain, which means our law enforcement people will be applying the "stupid motorist's law", enacted to punish those motorists who think they can drive through flooded washes, but get washed downstream.

Because of the topography of the area, with mountains ringing the valley, rain water flows down to the Salt River through gullies, called washes. At times, the water flows at 20, 30 or ever 40 miles per hour. Over time, some of these gullies have been paved as roads to new developments crossed them. During the storms, some roads have been partially washed away; in others, the water may reach as high as 3 or 4 feet deep. But these stupid drivers "know" that their vehicle, whether SUV, pick-up truck or BMW, can get through, so on they go. Unfortunately, they wind up as a feature on the evening news when the emergency squad has to rescue them from the raging waters. So the legislators decided that enough money was being spent for the rescues that the rest of us shouldn't have to pay the bill, and enacted the law. Now the motorists pay the cost of their rescue. Does it stop them? Stay tuned to the local news tonight. (Answer: no.)

16 January 2008

Norm, the Barber

We used to go to Frank's Barber Shop on Clinton Avenue just around the corner from Bly Street for our haircuts. Our Mother would give us the money for the haircut ( I think it cost 75 cents) plus 25 cents for the tip. Then Frank, who was near or at retirement age, started to have coughing spells and his hands would shake enough that he would pull hair. So we started going down Clinton Avenue near Caroline Street to Norm's shop. Usually we went on Saturday which was a treat because Norm, being Italian, had the radio tuned to the Metropolitan Opera broadcasts. And, being Italian, Norm knew every aria by heart, so he would break out in song whenever the mood struck him, which was about every aria. Not bad - a haircut and entertainment all for one small price.
I stayed with Norm all through high school and college, but then moved away. I understand his son now runs the shop, but I don't know about the singing. Does the Metropolitan Opera still broadcast on Saturdays?

11 January 2008


There have been a bunch of emails flying around the Internet that contain misleading information. You've probably received one or more. They start out by stating that the information is true because the originator has checked it out on Snopes.com. One recent one attributed a lengthy article to General Hawley, when it was written by someone else. Another listed several claims about the background of Barak Obama, which were false. The implication is that the recipients should believe the message. Well, it turns out that some of these "truthful" messages are absolutely false. When I find that, I reply to the person who sent it to me plus everyone copied on their email, stating that the information has been disclaimed

I've tried to get into the habit of checking such messages out on Snopes myself, and I urge you all to do the same.