07 December 2012

One of "The American People"

Remember back a short while ago when the candidates were talking about what “the American people” wanted?  Well, I’m one and I thought I’d have a go at stating for the record just what it is that I want.


First off, I want the two Senators from each state to share an office.  Regardless of political affiliation, they were elected by the voters of their state to work for the best interests of that state.  In order to do that they should be in the same room working on common problems, not in separate buildings where who knows what the other Senator is up to.  Work in the same room!  No walls separating their desks!  Each able to share with the other!  And look each other in the face!


Next, the two Senators from each state should have desks next to each other on the Senate floor.  No more of this “across the aisle” foolishness!  Work together!


As for the House of Representatives, the same restructuring – all the Representatives from each state in a single room (some will be LARGE as in the case for California) and all sitting together on the House floor.  How can they possibly work on common state goals if they can’t interact with each other?  How can they possibly agree on common state goals if they’re separated by office and building?


Simple solution?  I think so.  Achievable?  Not with the current thinking in Washington.

23 September 2012


This is the time of year when we eat breakfast on the balcony.  It may last for only a week or so before we shift to lunch out there, but it's very enjoyable while it lasts.  People up north are closing their pools and getting out their bowling balls and parkas, while we look forward to walks out-of-doors during the middle of the day.  Life has a different perspective depending on which part of the world in which one lives.

29 August 2012

A New Path

Yesterday, I started down a path new to me but one which many others have trod.  The doctor said the biopsy was positive and I have cancer of the urinary bladder. The first treatment was yesterday.

The procedure is: check my urine for bacteria, if any, abort.  If OK, drain bladder via catheter, add BCG in 50 cc saline solution (about a large shot glass).  Go home.  Lie on all four sides, about 15 minutes each.  After 2 hours, empty bladder.  Resume normal eating and drinking except no caffeine or alcohol for 24 hours.  So far, there have been no after effects.

Treatments will continue for five more weeks.  Three to four weeks after treatment stops, an examination will be made to assess results. I think they found it early enough that there shouldn't be any problem in erasing it.

12 August 2012

Emotional Music

Bruce Pulk, a percussionist for the Phoenix Symphony Orchestra, recently gave a talk about Bohemian Rhapsodies at Westminster Village.  The last orchestral piece he played stirred us emotionally and was variously described as a violent storm, the destruction of a village, inner turmoil, etc.  Afterward, I talked with him about how emotional I felt when listening to Symphony No. 7 – the Leningrad Symphony by Dmitri Shostakovitch.  I related the music to the war years when the German army had besieged the city.  Bruce encouraged me to read Testimony: the Memoirs of Dmitri Shostakovitch  by Solomon Volkov to gain an understanding of the origins of the symphony.  It turns out that I was way off base, that Shostakovitch had begun the work as a tribute to the people of Leningrad who had suffered through the purges and starvations of the Stalin era leading up to the siege of the city.  That throws a completely different light on the music, but certainly does not diminish the emotions the piece stirs; it only redirects the origin of the suffering to Stalin, who had no compunctions about torturing and murdering his own countrymen.  One can only hope that those days of terror are gone from Russia forever.  In any event, I encourage you to listen to the complete symphony and analyze your emotional reaction to the music.

15 July 2012


I've tried something new for my great-grandchildren.  Hidden in the squiggles is a message that I hope they can find.  I put two up recently and my granddaughter was able to find the message for her son too quickly.  Here are the original and the message.

04 July 2012

How old?

Tomorrow my body turns 81 years of age.  My brain isn’t so sure.  Sometimes, it’s 16 and dishing up ice cream cones at Bowker’s Dairy in Rochester, New York.  Or it’s 58 and hauling a travel trailer into the Valle Del Oro park in Mesa, Arizona.  Wait a minute, it’s really 21 and in a cap and gown in Stillwater, Oklahoma, waiting in line for that diploma.  Oops, it’s 35 and camping in the Adirondack Mountains with my brother and our sons, looking for the elusive trout.  Well, actually it’s 80 and waiting for all the fireworks to celebrate the eve of my birth.  Happy Fourth of July, everyone.  How old is your brain?

30 June 2012

Meteorologists Have Gotten Lazy Lately

Meteorologists have gotten lazy lately.  It used to be, not too long ago, that the rule for determining when the monsoon started here in the Valley of the Sun was when the relative humidity had reached 55 for 5 days in a row.  Now, it has changed to the 15th of June.  So what happened to cause the change, you ask.  Well, here’s what I think.

Tom, Dick and Mary, all esteemed meteorologists, were gathered around the office water cooler one scorching hot June day, discussing various and sundry meteorological matters when their boss came along and reminded them that it would soon be time for the annual monsoon decision.  Their conversation went along these lines:

Tom:  Oh rats, now we’ve got to get out our charts and start keeping track of the relative humidity.
Dick:  Yeah, it sure does louse up the day to have to go outside with those dumb equipment things.
Mary: You mean the humidity measurer doohickeys?
Dick:  Yeah.  I can never remember from one year to the next how to work the dumb things, let alone where we stored them.
Tom:  And we never can get anyone else to go out and do the measuring for us.  There’s got to be an easier way. 
Mary:  Maybe we can somehow come up with a better formula, like after it rains two days in a row.  That would make it easier.  We wouldn’t have to use those dumb charts for such a long time.
Tom:  We wouldn’t even have to go out, we could just watch out the window for the rain.
Dick:  I’ve got it!  Remember how those guys over at Stonehenge figured out the solstices were all tied to calendar dates, like December 21st and June 21st and, um, those others.  Why can’t we tie the monsoon to the calendar?
Tom and Mary, in unison:  Great, Dick, you’ve hit on the solution.
Dick:  Okay, now what date should we use?
Mary:  Well, today is the 15th of June, it’s right in the middle of the month, easy to remember, why not use it?  And besides, it usually rains sometime around now, according the local paper.
Tom and Dick, in unison:  Right!  Let’s go tell the boss how we’ve managed to make the work around here simpler for everyone.

And that’s the way it was one day at the meteorological office water cooler.

26 June 2012

It's Summer, Tra La

Summer began on Sunday here in Westminster Village.  That's when it was too hot to sit out for breakfast.  It was 80, and the mornings will stay in the 80's until a monsoon raises the humidity and lowers the temperature.  Or raises the temperature.  In any event, we're in for the duration.

19 June 2012

One or Two?

Clay Thompson writes a feature for the Arizona Republic newspaper called “Valley 101” in which he attempts to answer questions submitted by his readers on any subject.  Recently, someone innocently (we assume) asked whether there should be one or two spaces at the end of a sentence.  I don’t remember the answer he gave, but apparently it caused a flurry of responses.  A large number of readers questioned his intelligence, which happens quite often, by insisting that one space is the correct number, citing various epistles such as Wikipedia, the Encyclopedia Britannica, Roget’s Thesaurus, and various English teachers from the far distant past, to justify their position.  An equal number of irate readers said that two was the only true answer, citing the very same epistles, and emphasizing the level of his incompetence as shown by his response.  He has since asked that we are free to use one or two, whichever suits us, and to please consider the matter closed, as he is tired of his mail being cluttered with angry threats and comments about his manhood.  So please don’t write him (clay.thompson@arizonarepublic.com) to join in the fray.

I myself have used two ever since I was weaned away from cursive writing and was sat down behind a keyboard, be it typewriter (remember those?), word processor or computer.  There’s something about automatic spacing using two empty spaces at the end of a sentence that appeals to my esthetic nature.  So whatever your preference, one, two or whatever, count me as a “two spaces” guy, and don’t bother trying to convert me.

12 June 2012

Patio Time

This is that time of year when we open the patio doors when we roll out of bed.  We have time for a cup of coffee and to read the paper before the temperature drives us indoors.  It won't be long, though, before it'll be too warm.  A short period in the spring and then again in the fall.  So we soak it up while we can. 

13 May 2012

Jerking Sodas

The hardest times were the hot, humid days when families would crowd around the counter, all wanting me to serve them their ice cream cones first.  The frustration was twofold; first, trying to decide who was next, and then, trying to hold up to four cones in one hand without crushing any before they were handed over to the eager eaters.  The best times were after all the orders were filled and we could go in the back where the ice cream was coming out of the mixer and we were free to sample the soft, creamy delight.  The year was 1947, the place was Rochester, NY, the store was Bowker’s Dairy Products and I had just finished my junior year of high school and had my first paying job. 

Soda Jerk.  It doesn’t sound like much, but it was a life of adventure for me; a place to serve the paying public; a place to meet girls; a place to satisfy my sweet tooth for free.  Let me explain that last part:  we were told when we were hired that we could eat all the ice cream we wanted as long as the customers were served; that if we made a mistake on an order, we were free to put it aside for future consumption.  How close to heaven could this be?

It didn’t take long to learn the various recipes.  Chocolate milk shake: milk up to there in the container, 2 scoops chocolate ice cream, 2 squirts chocolate syrup, put on the mixer, then pour into a tall glass.  Lime soda: 2 squirts lime syrup, soda water up to there, 2 scoops vanilla ice cream, stir and serve.  Black and white sundae: one scoop vanilla ice cream covered with chocolate syrup, one scoop chocolate ice cream covered with marshmallow syrup, whipped cream and a maraschino cherry on top.  And so on.

It was a fun time: good music on the jukebox; friends dropping by; a cool place in the summer heat; and all that ice cream in all those wonderful flavors!  My favorite was any kind I happened to be eating at the time.  Well, enough of the reminiscing, time to hit the Garden CafĂ© for a scoop or three.  Happy sundae!

29 March 2012

The Standish Burying Ground

From The Standard, Holley, N. Y., October 23, 1930: "Standish Record Proved By Writing On Quilt
"From its organization, the members of Orleans Chapter, Daughters of the American Revolution, have been keenly interested in the marking of the graves of the Revolutionary soldiers buried in Orleans County. Sunday afternoon the grave of one of the most interesting of these old heroes, Asa Standish, great-grandson of Miles Standish of Colonial fame, was marked with simple and appropriate ceremonies and the resting places of four 'real' daughters received similar honor. A real daughter is the daughter of one who fought in the War of the Revolution.
"The graves of Asa Standish and his daughter, Electa, both lie in the old 'Standish Burying Ground,' near the Transit Church at Gaines. The marker that was placed on Asa's grave Sunday is the first it has worn. Had there been one there before, one of the most interesting searches yet known to genealogists, would never have taken place.
"The story of the effort to find the 'missing link' in the Standish chain of descent is now a matter of history. Again and again one has heard of how the descendants of Asa Standish, though they knew they were descended from Miles Standish, were unable to furnish concrete proof of that descent, and became known as 'the unplaced descendants of Miles Standish,' until Mrs. George Shourds of Albion, Asa's great-great-granddaughter, by chance came upon an old family quilt, into which was sewed a block giving Asa's birth. This block of cloth is the only written record concerning Asa Standish and it is interesting to note the lack of evidence concerning him is due to the fact that this very Electa, whose grave was marked Sunday, in a spell of New England 'ridding up' the house, burned all the records as so much trash.
"The ceremonies at the grave of Asa Standish were impressive. Following the Assembly Call by Sheret Post, American Legion, the invocation was given by the Rev. A. L. Pollock of Gaines, a World War veteran. America was sung by the assembled crowd, and Troop 92 of the Boy Scouts then gave the Salute to the Flag and the American's Creed. The bronze marker was then presented by Mrs. Avery V. Andrews, Regent of Orleans Chapter, Daughters of the American Revolution and Cleon Standish of Medina accepted in the name of Asa's descendants. The marker was unveiled by two small great-great-grandsons of Asa Standish, Eugene W. Standish, son of Mr. and Mrs. Cleon Standish of Medina, and Hubert Standish, Jr., son of Mr. and Mrs. Hubert Standish of Utica.
"Following the unveiling, a history of the Standish family was given by Mrs. Ida Standish Shourds (Mrs. George Shourds) of Albion.
"The services at the graves of the daughters were brief. At each the Regent of Orleans Chapter, Mrs. Avery V. Andrews, led the chapter in the salute to the flag, the Lord's Prayer and the benediction, after which the markers were unveiled. Elizabeth Shourds Green (Mrs. William C. Green of Belmont) wearing Electa's own dress, unveiled the marker of her ancestress. Mrs. Green is a great-great-niece of Electa. The flag was placed in the marker by Elizabeth Waldo, Daughter of Homer Waldo of barre Center, a great-great-niece of Electa."

26 March 2012

Fooling Around With Clocks

It's 2:27 Mountain Standard Time, or Pacific Daylight Time, whichever you prefer. The good citizens of Arizona have the good sense not to fool around with changing our clocks twice each year. I've often wondered why it wouldn't be so much easier to just change working hours, starting work at, say, seven instead of eight.

31 January 2012


Here's Bruno, Westminster Village's African Spurred Tortoise, in case you missed him at wmvaz.com.

16 January 2012

An Anniversary

Today, January 16th, is the anniversary of the day in 1919 when the 18th amendment to the Constitution was enacted in which Congress, in their infinite wisdom, decided that their fellow Americans shouldn’t be allowed alcoholic beverages. Of course, the natural progression was for the American public to begin buying the prohibited joy juice form the gangsters. That, in turn, gave rise to an increased size of law enforcement to overcome the profiteers who reacted to the prohibition. Finally, believe it or not, Congress became aware of what had been happening (they were too sober to notice right away) and in 1933 repealed the amendment. 1933! Fifteen years! So how long do you think it will take before they notice the drug wars?