13 August 2017

Back Home

We're back home and after several days of rest and laundry we're ready to face the world.  I had written in 2013 that I was parting company with technology, but strangely, technology crept up on me.  I'm now the owner of a Fitbit.  If you don't have one, a word of warning: they can be habit-forming.  And while away, somehow I wound up with a smartphone - a Samsung Galaxy J7.  Now the problem is how to figure out all the ways to make it work for Shirley and me.  So far, I've taken 2 pictures, received 4 messages and loaded a few items on the calendar.  That's it for now.  The manual is over 160 pages, so I may be closeted for a while.  See ya.

29 July 2017

Out-of-Touch Travellers

We haven't flown since 2011, so we're a little apprehensive.  We're travelling to Rochester, NY to visit family, especially a cousin who is flying in from Germany.  But at least, we now have our boarding passes, calendar pretty well filled out, and suitcases almost filled.  What next?  Will the limousine service pick us up on time?  Will the plane be late?  With there be a car waiting for us at Avis?  Did we pack the correct clothes?  Time will tell.

10 June 2017

My Dad - Frank Arthur Miller (1896-1974)


          Dad’s lineage on his mother’s side, goes back to Miles Standish, while on his father’s side it traces to German farmers in Alsace, France.  He was a twin, the fifth of ten children born in Batavia, NY, to Lennie Mann and William Francis Miller, eight of whom survived infancy.  His mother died when he was eight, after which his oldest sister kept order in the household.  Schooling ended at the age of thirteen when he had to earn money to help support the family.  Following his father’s footsteps, he worked in construction, eventually having his own business as a bricklayer and mason contractor.  He spent part of The Great War as a Naval Seaman in England, building barracks for the troops.  Marriage to Wilhelmina Henrietta Goebel in 1922 brought two sons, Frederick and Robert, raised during the Great Depression.  He was a hunter and fisherman, providing the family with pike, bass, pheasant and rabbit to feast on.  During his short life (77 years) he built houses for his sons, entertained 13 grandchildren, was active in the local Spiritualist Church, shoveled snow off miles of sidewalk and almost survived prostate cancer.  There are many structures in Batavia and Rochester, NY, that bear the fruits of his labor, and his family sorely misses him.

13 May 2017

My Mom - Wilhelmina Henrietta Goebel (1897-1979)

Mom was the eldest daughter of immigrants from Germany.  Her father, Heinrich Göbel, arrived in his teens and worked his way to become a noted chef in Rochester, NY.  Her mother, Clara Marie Steinmetz, arrived with her mother and sisters at the age of eight; she worked as a domestic until her marriage to Heinrich, who had since become Henry Gabel, ultimately settling on Goebel.  As she grew up, Mom saw her 18-year old brother, Fred, dead from an accidental electrocution, and her two-year old sister, Marguerite, dead from scarlet fever; her youngest brother, Henry, lived to the ripe old age of 97. 

Always surrounded by cousins and friends, she enjoyed family outings, especially visits to her Uncle Fred Gabel’s farm in Mendon, NY.  After graduating from high school, she attended business school, eventually working at Remington Typewriter Co. as a bookkeeper.  The summer of 1922, she worked at Camp Mohawk, a resort inn on Fourth Lake in the Adirondack Mountains.

After marriage to Frank Arthur Miller in 1924, she lived in Batavia, where her two sons, Frederick Arthur, and Robert Harold, were born.  She was an active member of the Methodist Church, and with her husband, joined a local Bridge Club.   Mom and Dad continued to meet monthly with Mom’s girlfriends and their husbands to play Pinochle, rotating from house-to-house, even though it meant traveling the 30 miles to Rochester.

          After the family moved to Rochester, in 1941, she took a job as Receptionist, Cashier and Switchboard Operator at Kroll's, a women's clothing and millinery shop on North Clinton Avenue.  After her husband's death, Wilhelmina suffered a series of strokes.  She moved into a nursing home on East Henrietta Road, where she lived for her last 4 years.  She died in Genesee Hospital of pneumococcal pneumonia at the age of 82.  She was a grand lady and the proud mother of two, grandmother of 13 and great-grandmother of three.

21 March 2017

What's the Problem?

Last November, the voters in Arizona approved a measure to raise the minimum wage to $10.00 per hour, with additional increases over the next few years.  This was one of those “feel good” measures that passed without anyone assessing the true impact on families, businesses and our local economy.  So what was supposed to happen and what did the measure achieve?

First, step back and ask: What was the problem that the measure was trying to solve?  That was never made clear during the campaign.  For the Legislature, it apparently was to provide more tax revenue.  For the employees, it apparently was to give them more spending money in their pockets.  For the employers, we don’t know.  What really happened?  Well, the Legislature will be getting more tax monies to spend; employees will be getting a percentage of the increase to spend, not the full amount, because of their increased tax burden.  And what are the unintended consequences of the measure?

Employees who were earning the minimum wage received an increase, regardless of their performance, taking away their employers right, and ability, to reward performance.  Employees who were earning a dollar or two above the minimum wage because of their performance, now see themselves earning the same wage as lower performing workers.  To adjust for this forced discrepancy, employers must now raise everyone else’s wages, ultimately causing prices to rise.  This is forcing a rising economy, which eats into everyone’s disposable income, negatively affecting their ability to buy the necessities.

A simpler solution?  Keep wages at a level determined by the labor market, and lower the tax burden.  So, let’s repeal the wage increase, define the real problem, and start putting the economy back on solid footing.

12 March 2017

24, 48 or 72?

Take a look at your deodorant.  Mine says it's good for 48 hours.  48 hours?  I take a shower at least once a day, so why would I need a deodorant that lasts longer than that?  And now I find that stores offer some that last 72 hours.  Does that mean I could forego washing under my arms for three days?  Well, it ain't gonna happen - I'm buying the 24-hour stuff next time we shop.  Sure makes one wonder, though.

25 February 2017

The Old Hometown Looks The Same - Sure!

This is a street view from Google Earth of the old homestead in Batavia, New York.  It looks the same as when we lived there in the 1930’s, except there was a Spirea bush next to the porch, instead of what looks like a Lilac bush.  The fourth house down the street to the right belonged to my Grandfather, but his barn is gone now.  And down Miller Avenue, to the left, there is a four-car garage; my father converted it from the original five-car structure sometime in the 1950’s, when I was in college.  When we visited about ten years ago, everything looked smaller than I remembered.


15 February 2017

The Old Hometown Looks the Same - NOT!

It’s been years since I walked the streets of downtown Rochester, New York, but I have checked out parts of it on Google Earth.  At the corner of Main and Clinton many changes have taken place, including Midtown Plaza having been replaced; I wonder what happened to the “magical” Clock of the Nations.  Across the street, the Sibley Building has been enclosed by construction fencing, presuming some major changes there.  The building held the Sibley, Lindsay and Curr Company, a major department store back in the day.  The big treat was to visit the toy department on the fourth floor just before Christmas to see the tremendous display of marvelous toys, dolls, electric trains, games, bicycles – all the goodies we wrote Santa about.  The elevator took us up, or rather, the elevator operator took us up.  He was responsible to make sure we were clear of the doors he manually opened and closed, then worked the lever to take us up, all the while singing out the floors we approached and the merchandise contained therein; second floor, ladies dresses coats and hats; third floor, men’s and boy’s clothes; fourth floor, housewares and toys.  That was the one we waited anxiously to hear.  And then the rush out the door to the Christmas Wonderland!  Great memory!

11 February 2017

Lectric Shave, Customer Response and Me

Lately, I’ve been reading the ingredients on stuff I use, and was interested to note that Lectric Shave contains Fragrance, plus Green 5, Yellow 10 and Orange 4 dyes.  I use the product just before I go into the shower, so thought it didn’t make since to have those things in a product I washed off within minutes.  I looked up Lectric Shave and found it’s a product of Combe Incorporated and sent off a letter to Mr. Christopher B. Combe, President, suggesting those items be removed.  I told him about allergic reactions to dyes and fragrances and mentioned a reduction in production costs could be realized.  Their current brands are “category leaders in feminine health and intimate skin care, men’s hair color and grooming, and oral device care.” It took several weeks, but I did receive a response.  Not from Mr. Combe, but from someone in his customer response organization.  In a few short sentences, she wrote that, if I didn’t like their product, I shouldn’t buy it.

            That sent me off to wonder about other of their products I shouldn’t buy, so I did some research and here’s what I found I shouldn’t buy, besides Lectric Shave: Vagisil, Just For Men, Aqua Velva, Brylcreem, Johnson’s Foot Powder and Sea.Bond.  So they are now on my “No Shopping” list, not that I’d ever need Vagisil.

15 January 2017

Sizing Things Up

I bought a bathrobe, white, made by Izod.  It’s more like a kimono.  The tag says “One size fits most”.  That’s true if most are 5’4” Sumo wrestlers with short, stubby arms.  I’m not, but I make do.  My socks fit shoe sizes from 7 to 10½; my size is 9½, so I’m reasonably sure that my heel and the sock heel come together.  Imagine a fellow with a size 7 – the heel must come up to their ankle; and the person with a 10½ shoe must find himself walking on the sock heel.  Another thing is shirt sizes.  I’m half way between S and M.  I wish they made a Small-and-a-half.  The sleeves might turn out to be just the right length.  Are you a size 35 waist, drowning in size 36 slacks or holding your breath in a 34?  Welcome to the club.  So if you meet me anywhere and I look like I slept in my clothes, blame it on the manufacturers, not my bedtime habits.  After all, my hair is combed.