19 February 2010


There has been much misinformation about the fates of the men who signed the Declaration of Independence. To set the record straight, Denise Kiernan & Joseph D’Agnisi have written “SIGNING THEIR LIVES AWAY: The FAME and MISFORTUNE of the MEN WHO SIGNED The Declaration of Independence.” The book is organized by colony, beginning with New Hampshire and moving south to Georgia, so one is able to go quickly to a favorite colony. Information includes each signer’s birth and death date, age at signing and occupation(s). Some of the sub-headings under the names are: The Signer Who Fought for Freedom with His Slave, The Signer Who is Two Degrees From Kevin Bacon, The Signer Who Slept in Caves, The Six-fingered Signer and The Signer Who Started Out as an Indentured Servant. Do you know which signer was a cobbler? A cooper? Which one used part of a statue of King George III to make bullets? Also, why do we celebrate the signing on July 4th and not July 2nd or August 2nd? Well, just open the book and all the information is right there. An interesting read, recommended for the curious, as well as history buffs.

10 February 2010

Why Write?

Why write? Well, we know about our history because those before us wrote down their folklore, what they remembered of what they saw, and what they wished they would see. So I’ve tried to write down things as I remember them. Perhaps someone will read them and have some incident brought to mind that happened to them, and decide to write it down. Too often in this day and age of e-mail, instant messaging, Facebook, Twitter and such, we have lost the ability or desire to record our thoughts and actions on paper. Thus, our descendants will not be able to understand the world in which we lived except through the words of other people and, perhaps, even other cultures. So write it down to let others know of your own personal folklore. Write about your parents, their lifestyle, how yours differs from theirs. Write about your plans and dreams for your descendants. Not very many of us have that “greatest novel of the century” within us, but we each have at least one story begging to be put down on paper. Right? Write!

09 February 2010


There was an obituary in the morning paper for a gentleman you’ve probably never heard of, but who has had a major impact on the way you view television - that is, the news on television. His name is Frank Magrid and he developed the concept called “Action News” which resulted in “co-anchors who chatted between stories, fast-paced graphics, sports tickers and live shots, and a heavy reliance on crime coverage and feel-good segments.” Now I have no quarrel with the man or his idea, however, I do have a quarrel with the way it has been implemented around here (here being the Valley of the Sun). Mostly, it has to do with the time wasted broadcasting meaningless videos to support a story. “Fast-paced graphics," indeed!

As an example, a driver loses control and the vehicle plunges into a building; simple enough, except while listening to a description of the accident, which drones on and on, we are shown videos of the rear of the vehicle, then a shot of a nearby undamaged shrub, then a group of police cars parked on some street, followed up by a tow truck. Good grief! Please stop it! Just tell me succinctly that the accident occurred, whether or not anyone was hurt, the extent of the damage, if traffic is impeded in the area, show me one picture of the scene, and then get on to the next story. And please, please, please use the past tense when describing something that has already happened.

One channel here has the annoying habit of announcing “Weather Alert” when there is a thunderstorm in Minnesota or the threat of a tornado in Oklahoma. “Weather Alert”! Give me a break. That’s like the boy who cried “Wolf” in Aesop’s Fables, or wherever. If it’s not local, why should I go on the alert?

Co-anchors? Who stumble over who has the next line? Who needs them? Certainly not me. Please, one or the other of you just tell me the news in plain English. No inside jokes, no “pleasant” banter, just the news.

Thank you in advance for your consideration of my request.

06 February 2010


In 1949, while a freshman at Oklahoma A & M College, I roomed with Nelson C., who was a smoker. I was eighteen at the time and it seemed to be the right thing to do, so I asked Nelson to teach me how to smoke. My brother had started a few years before, and my father also smoked, so it wasn’t a new and revolutionary idea in the family. I learned how to tap the pack before opening and how to light up, but instead of inhaling, I was taking a mouthful of smoke and trying to swallow it. Well, as you all may not know, that’s not how it goes. After a few fitful tries, I did manage to get the smoke inhaled, and continued the practice for the next eighteen years. At times, I was burning up two packs a day, between the frustrations of earning a living and the joys (and the few frustrations) of raising a family.
During the eighteen years, I had toyed off and on with the thought of quitting. There were some times when I switched to cigarillos and cheroots, even a pipe, but always migrated back to the beloved/damned ciggies. One thing that was always visible in my doctor’s office was an ash tray with pictures of a healthy lung and a smoker’s lung; when he and I talked about smoking, he suggested switching to a pipe, which he used. The idea was that one could never keep a pipe lit, so there was no danger of damage to one’s system; he always punctuated the point by trying to keep his pipe lit.
Toward the end of the eighteen years, I kept vacillating between quitting and not. It began to get on my nerves, so I finally said to myself: “Self, you’ve got to decide whether or not you’re going to quit; the indecision is making you a nervous wreck.” So the decision was reached to continue smoking. At least the pressure was gone. However, after another three months, I said, finally: “That’s it, self, we’re giving up the habit!” And into the trash went all the accoutrements. To this day, forty-some years later, I’ve been true to that declaration.

Re: Sick, Sick, Sick

The weekend that our great-grandson visited, we went down to the Garden Cafe on Saturday for breakfast. After we, ordered, Grandma just reminded me, the waitress said she had to go look for the cook as he was sick. So that could have been the source of the bug that hit us. So breathe easy, Gabe, it might not have come from you.

01 February 2010

Sick, Sick, Sick

Grandma and I are fighting colds and sore throats for almost a week now. We're so full of Zyrtek, Extra Strength Tylanol and Apple Cider Vinegar that it'll take a year to get it all out of our systems. And where oh where does all that mucous come from? Our sinuses are turning it out as though there's a world-wide shortage and they're going to overcome it on their own! We've been holed up here and haven't been out in days. Luckily, there is a food delivery service so we're not in any danger of starvation. If anyone has any good ideas about fighting colds, let us know.