Friday, April 30, 2010

April 30, 2010

The last day of April. Until today it was pretty crummy month. But it seems it wants to leave us with good memories.

Mother Nature wants us to forget the bad and remember the good stuff only. That's why today the weather changed drastically. It was sunny all day with the temperature going up to almost 80 degrees.

But no matter what she does we will still remember that in the past few days we froze our kazoos.


The other day they approved a law in Arizona that is stirring up a lot of feelings. Arizona is bordering Mexico and illegal entries seem to be a real problem for the communities on the border.

They feel that the Federal Government is not doing enough to protect the border and it results in hundreds of illegals crossing into the US regularly. So, they took the law into their own hands and made entering into the country illegally against state law.

It is claimed across the country that this will lead to racial profiling and all kinds of discrimination while at the same time giving the police extra power.

I think it is time somebody enforcing is the law seriously. Everywhere we turn they are making a joke about the police. They are clipping their authority and nobody is taking them seriously.

TV shows practically instruct people on how to slam doors into their faces and how to question their every move. The average policeman is afraid to act because of the consequences. OK, unnecessary brutality should be punished but the police should still be respected.

The other thing they are complaining about is that this Arizona law will lead to racial profiling. Meaning Hispanics will be singled out as possible illegals.

So what? Not too many orthodox Jews cross the border from Mexico into Arizona. Neither do Irish, German speaking people, English, Russian, Japanese or Liberians.

Only Spanish speaking people from Mexico come across. They are the ones who will have to be stopped and questioned. And this is now racial profiling. This is a joke in my book.

I am an immigrant. I came to this country over fifty years ago and legally. I am not against immigration because this country with all its faults is still a better place than most others.

But I am against the saturation of the population and work force with illegal people.

Years ago I read somewhere an interview where someone said that there are certain work levels or categories, usually very low level and low paid, that can not be filled with American workers.

Americans do not want to perform what others might deem degrading work. For this there are the immigrants.

The immigrant workers include migrant agricultural workers, maids, some factory workers, day laborers, bus boys, dishwashers and a myriad of other categories. These people work from dawn 'till dusk and get very low pay.

That makes them an exceedingly valuable part of our society that nobody seem to realize. They are not taking work away from anybody since nobody wants to do the work they are performing.

I can understand that southwest border states as well as the border communities are more exposed to these people than others but these are human beings who have the right for a better life just as we all do who live in this country.

It should not be an open season on immigrants. They have to be treated with the same respect we all want for ourselves. But at the same time the illegal entries should be curtailed for their own and our benefits.

Thursday, April 29, 2010

April 29, 2010

For a baby to be born with the silver spoon in his or her mouth is a fantastic thing. The beauty of it is that the baby is not aware of how lucky he is. That baby is honest and is without any sin.

All the baby cares about is food, sleep and a dry place to poop into. Any one of these missing and the baby will be heard. The baby's life is so uncomplicated that we all wish we could live it again and again.

As the baby grows life will become a little more complicated. However, for one who is lucky enough to be born into a well to do family complications will take different shapes than for ordinary people.

The food, sleep and poop goals will disappear and will surface in different forms.

For ordinary people life will be full of struggles for survival. Schooling, work, family. This is what life will be in the ordinary world.

Don't misunderstand, it is not a bad world. One can make it very pleasant if one has the strength and the drive to succeed.

But most of it has to be achieved by one's own strength. Nothing is handed over on a silver platter.

That brings me to the reason I am writing this.

Lately there is a lot to hear about Ivanka Trump. Ivanka is the daughter of Donald Trump and Ivana Trump.

She is a very attractive young lady who was not born with the silver spoon in her mouth. She had the entire silver set in her mouth. Her father is a billionaire developer who raised his children to be part of his businesses.

This young woman never had a difficult moment in her life, everything was handed to her on that famous silver plate.

She has her own perfume line, her own boutique, works for her father and appears on a her father's reality show. Can life get any harder?

She wrote a book about inspiration, success, confidence and passion, how to reach one's goals in life.

I would be very curious to know what made her such an authority on how to reach goals in life.

When one's father is a billionaire her future was sealed long before she was born. What does she know about work environments, everyday problems and fighting uphill battles?

Nothing! She has no clue about what goes on in real life. This book was published because nobody dares to go against the Trump name.

She will be the guest at a Working Women's Luncheon given by a local radio station. This young lady not a working woman. She is a known personality who was born into a very wealthy family and thanks to that she succeeded.

I would like to know if her name were Gonzalez and born in the Bronx how had she succeeded.

Wednesday, April 28, 2010

April 28, 2010

Today we had a full day.

At the crack of dawn, that is 9 AM, we headed into Manhattan because I had an appointment with an ear specialist (otolaryngologist) to see if he could help me with my non stop "whispering pines" noises.

The appointment was for 10:30 AM but this was the tail end of the morning rush hour and we were concerned that we should get into the City and park on time.

As always, we got in in about 30 minutes. Parked the car and went to see the doctor.

He is from Slovakia and seems to be a very nice person. He told me what I already knew but still gave me some supplements that I should take.

Time will tell. If these don't help I'll give up. I'll just live with the noises. Maybe I will hear some secret messages.

Oh, after finishing we had lunch in my favorite Hungarian restaurant and hung out there for a while. I'll have to admit that lunch was really good. There went my diet!

While we were stuffing ourselves the Market corrected itself and after yesterday's humongous fall today it closed 53.28 up. It is not much after a 200 point drop but it is better than nothing.

We usually go to a Greek diner for lunch. Starting tomorrow we will give a larger tip hoping that maybe that will help the Greek economy.

But then what about Portugal an Spain? We really don't eat Portuguese and Spanish food so we can not help those people.

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

April 27, 2010

Yesterday I saw on the news where a trainer from some ritzy New York health club described exercises that supposed to do more harm than good.

This is very interesting. My wife and I go and work out fairly regularly. Neither one of us want to look like Schwarzenegger but we just want to be in as good a physical condition as possible.

We also know a few professional trainers who did give us advice throughout the years and who regularly work out with people.

Their workout regimen does include some of the exercises the trainer in question advised against.

I am sure that the people we know are just as qualified or even more and if any of those practices were harmful they would not advise using them.

Any exercise performed exceedingly can be harmful unless one is a professional muscle builder.

This is the problem with the media. In their unending search for exclusivity they are constantly coming up with things that might be harmful, unhealthy, habit forming etc.

These are things we and our parents have been living with forever. Now they tell us they were all bad.

What about all those disgusting food or meal commercials on television? They are OK because those are the money makers. Some of them look so bad that I just want to upchuck my cookies when watching them. Olive Gardens, Chili's, Red Lobster, these are a few that show their stuff every night.

As long as I am talking about food. Can anybody think of anything more stomach turning than the advertisements on TV by these companies right after a good dinner?

When my stomach is full the last thing I want to see is more food on the screen. Last night we had Chinese food brought up. Granted I ate a little more, but it was sooo good!

Afterward whenever I saw food commercials I had to close my eyes. Not that they look very appetizing to start with but after a good dinner they looked right disgusting.

They are also making a big thing about school lunches.

Excuse me!

Kids don't get overweight because of what they eat in schools. They get overweight because of what they stuff into themselves after school. At home or on the way home, in the malls that is where most of the damages are done.

School lunches are not enough to create fat slobs. It's either the parents or the kids themselves who are responsible.

Close to where we live there is a Dunkin' Donuts shop and a high school. We go there for our afternoon coffees.

When school is out kids galore come into the store. They all buy their lattes with whipped cream naturally, and their various donuts.

These kids can become overweight on their own. They don't need any help.

Monday, April 26, 2010

April 26, 2010

Yesterday, President Obama went to West Virginia to the memorial service of the 29 miners killed in a West Virginia coal mine explosion. Along went Vice President Biden and a large number of government officials.

That was the news item and here is my opinion.

I think the presence of these people was in extremely bad taste. It was without regards to the losses the families suffered. It was selfish, self serving and nothing but political photo opportunities.

They disregard other people's feelings towards their own goal. Maybe these families would have preferred to mourn in their own privacy amongst their own friends and neighbors. But no!

Obama and entourage had to be there to be in the limelight.

If the President behaves this way what do we expect from the rest of the politicians. This kind of behavior trickles down the line. They all follow the leader.

People change, and not for the better once they reach any kind of power.

As I said before I was an engineer. Throughout my working career I had a lot of contact with people from various City and State agencies, as well as railroads.

I found it very interesting that as soon as a person was employed by any of the above entities his demeanor went through a drastic change. They immediately became obnoxious, know it all and uppity with (civilian) outsiders.

They knew they had the upper hand and they never hesitated to show. Education had nothing to do with this syndrome. Most of the people I knew were engineers, college educated. Yet, they all behaved if they were raised in a barn.

Try to ask for some information from a railroad conductor. He invariably will make the hapless person feel like a total nincompoop. One could be a Nobel Prize winning nuclear physicist, yet they will still make him feel like an imbecile.

Sunday, April 25, 2010

April 25, 2010

I love animals. I probably said that several times in the past, but I like to re-emphasize it.

There is a panda in the Washington National Zoo that is expected to give birth any minute. It is viewable on a panda cam which lets anybody see it for five minutes at a time due to its great popularity.

It is very interesting. This cute panda mommy to be is not doing anything but sleeps and munches on bamboo all day long. Whenever she is awake all she is doing is munching.

I guess her interests are kind of limited to sleep, eat and sex. Not bad choices. It is almost like every red blooded American man's dream.

She is due but as of this morning there was no birth yet. But still it is interesting to watch.

Another cute video I saw was filmed in Antarctica. It shows a woman tourist and a curious elephant seal. It is a five minute show, and after watching it how can one not love that huge mass of blubber?

Click on this.

Remember, anything that is underlined can be opened up to another site.

And you thought this was just plain writing. Come on! I'm hip to today's technical advances!


Today is Sunday. I think that supposed to mean that we should have sun. But the Sun is nowhere to be visible. It's been raining since last night. It is just a plain blah day!

At least it will get the car washed. I mean the rain will wash off all the dust of previous days.

When I continue this writing the rain stopped but the Sun decided not to show itself all day.


Anywhere one turns in the news there are various reports from every corner of the world about sex abuse of children by the clergy. This thing is growing with leaps and bounds. There are very few countries to date that are not mentioned and not affected.

I find it sickening to say the least that men of the clergy used their positions to abuse children for their own satisfaction.

However, I also have a few qualms about these claims. For one, why people are coming out now 20-25 years after they claim the abuses happened?

Because they are smelling money!

It is a common knowledge that we are living in a litigious society. For anything and everything people a suing. As soon as the smell of money can be sensed people start to come out of the woodwork.

Why nobody said anything for such a long time?

The other thing is that how come the great majority of the abuses were committed against boys? As far as I know all the priests are men. Men usually have interests in the opposite sex.

These abuse claims paint the clergy into raving homosexuals and pedophiles.

I am not saying that it would have been permissible to abuse young girls. No, that would have been just as terrible as doing it to boys. But still, it seems that men are coming out in large numbers with their claims.

I don't have full faith in any church. They all seem to be run more like businesses and political offices rather than what the charter of their original founders' was. But I am not ready to convict them at any of these claims.

When I was a young boy and had religious class in school, the only thing our teacher did, and he was well known rabbi, to spit on the floor in class.

We all thought that was the way all rabbis behaved so we just accepted it.

Saturday, April 24, 2010

April 24, 2010

With my unbelievable wisdom I understand many things. But still there are a few-very few- things that I still can not comprehend.

Here is one.

Like everybody else today, we have to be frugal. Frugal does not mean cheap, it means if there is a good deal do not pass it up.

When we go to our weekly shopping tour to the supermarkets we always check the prices at competing stores as well as we check the availability of coupons.

My wife likes Polaner brand Sugar Free fruit preserves. They are not really expensive and quite available. Few weeks ago we found some coupons on the Internet that we printed out.

When we wanted more coupons the message came back that we were not allowed any more because the system showed that we already received ours. OK, so we copied about a dozen and used them until their expiration date.

That was quite a while ago. This morning I thought I would try to get some more Polaner coupons printed but I got the same message. We used up our quote, this is it. They are so efficient it is sickening!

But, I can not understand the business end of this. Wouldn't it be to their benefit for us to buy their product even with a coupon rather than go and buy Smucker's?

I think I'll call Mr. Polaner and ask him because this thing irks me.

Here is another comparison shopping reality.

We love blueberries. They are very healthy, they have antioxidant properties amongst other good stuff.

My wife makes a dessert every night with blueberries, strawberries, cantaloupe and sugar free yogurt that speaks in ten languages.

Subsequently, we buy a lot of blueberries every week. The price of a 6oz. pack today varies between $2.49 and $3.49. It ain't cheap! And more than once we found at least half of the packages mildewed.

We found a large fruit stand in our neighborhood where they sell the same 6oz. packages for 99¢. And they are fresh and large. So today we gave the finger to the supermarket blueberries!

It needs time but comparison shopping is worth it. Maybe it is easier for us because we live in the city and there are more competing businesses. I can see that when one lives out in the boonies they are stuck with whatever is available.

Those businesses can ask any price they want since the poor consumer has no recourse but to pay.

America is a good country! It is a free country. They are free to shaft us any chance they have.

Friday, April 23, 2010

April 23, 2010

My son/daughter is a good boy/girl!

How many times we heard that statement on the various news programs. A statement like this used to be made by a parent about his/her offspring after the offspring committed some kind of crime. It is a typical occurrence that the parents are always the last to know.

Statements like these just indicate that parents today, in general have absolutely no clue about the doings of their children.

Most of the parents believe their children don't take drugs, don't get involved in criminal activity, stay away from sex and other bad stuff.

I can understand this because a child in the parent's eyes is incapable to commit bad things.
Also the fact that if both parents are working supervision is really non existent and kids can be very easily influenced.

Just the other day a terrible thing happened in Long Island. An 18 year old girl ran over a 69 year old woman with her van and the woman died.

The girl had no driver's license and was zonked out on drugs. She took the wheel from her boyfriend because it seems she didn't like the way he was driving. In the process she ran up into this women's yard, hit her and drove the truck right into her house.

At first she was screaming all kinds of apologies at the cameras and said she didn't mean it. Later she told the police that she did not feel so bad because the woman was 69 years old and that is old and she lived long enough.

What kind of an idiotic statement is that? If this is how she thinks then she deserves to be locked up for the rest of her life. How dare she to say that at 69 years of age somebody lived long enough and it is OK to be killed?

And the poor mother can do nothing but apologize for her. At this time, and it is very rare, the mother knew about her daughter's drug problem. But she is still convinced that she is a good girl.

I hope they lock this girl up and throw away the key.

It must be very difficult to be a parent today. One never knows what dark secrets the kids are hiding.

And it has nothing to do with the family's social status. Wealthy kids do just as many bad things as poor kids. Except, society kind of expects it from the poor kids but not from the wealthy kids.

I am relieved that I have no children. I am not exposed to heartaches, the midnight calls, the disappointments.

Granted, I am not exposed to the pleasures either, but hey nobody said life was fair!

Thursday, April 22, 2010

April 22, 2010

Today is Earth Day.

Earth Day is a day designed to inspire awareness and appreciation for the Earth's environment.

On this day everything is green. The only green that I really like is money green.

But seriously, all they talk about today is what we should do about protecting the environment and how many big corporations are doing their share along the same line.

Give me a break!

Big companies are not doing anything to protect the environment unless they are forced to. They will just as easily pollute everything in site if that will make more profit along the way.

Whenever there is an event like this Earth Day, these companies come forward and tell the public that they are the best friends anybody can have. They will announce that they are doing everything to protect nature, the environment, our waters and everything else.

You know, the communists lied. They lied big time. But they could never come close to the lies these corporations are selling the public. These companies are the masters of subterfuge. They will go to any length to mislead the public and all in the name of making profits to the shareholders.

On this day everybody will be making promises on how to improve our lives by protecting this earth we live on.

If they are so concerned, how come nuclear power can not be implemented to generate electricity? Instead we continue mining either from far down below ground or by ripping apart mountains and hillsides thereby destroying entire natural areas.

How come we can not harness solar power and wind power? In other parts of the world these two power sources are in wide uses. But not here. And why not? It seems that lobbyists have a lot more influence than the average person believes.

The same applies to oil. No matter how much rhetoric is about getting away from our dependency on foreign oil, nothing ever happens except empty campaign slogans. Here the lobbyists are winning again.

They tell us how harmful are the foods we eat because they are full of chemicals. But we are used to it.

I remember that when I was a very young boy, my Mother took me on a summer vacation to a village. As it was customary we stayed with a farmer's family. These people had cows, chickens and other nice farm animals.

In one morning my Mother brought in fresh milk straight from the cow. She told me to drink it because it was supposed to be healthy. Well, I couldn't drink it. I made a big thing about it (I was a spoiled brat) that I didn't like that milk.

My Mother had to water it down so it would taste the same as the one I was used to back home.

I just wanted to show that even if our foods are full of chemicals, we are used to them. We couldn't recognize good healthy food if it would run us over.

We are so set in our ways that no matter how much they are talking we will still buy and consume what we are used to, no matter how harmful they might be.

But times like today gives a podium to the "smart" people who claim to know everything much better than the rest of us. They are the ones who eat only organic food but probably don't even bother to wash their fruits before eating.

I like to wash my fruits.

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

April 21, 2010

In 1952, the firs time this day was designated as Secretary's Day. This day is observed on the Wednesday of the last full week of April. It's purpose is to recognize the work secretaries do.

Today they are not called secretaries, they are called Administrative Professionals. I guess women's lib had something to do with this.

I never had a secretary but worked with many of them and was helped out many, many times. Some of them was excellent and was a pleasure to work with, some of them weren't worth anything.

I remember a lady I worked with. She was the personification of the ideal secretary. She was courteous, she was helpful, she was discreet and above all she knew shorthand.

We used to sit at meetings and she wrote down everything that was said without any effort in her shorthand. Those were totally unreadable symbols but she knew exactly what she wrote.

Years later I asked a younger woman who was secretary in our office if she knew shorthand. Her reply was what was that?

Is this progress? I don't understand what is demeaning about shorthand. And what is demeaning about being called a secretary?

It was very easy for the women lib-ers to complain about everything that separated women from men in life. But as long as we are not using the same rest rooms men and women will be different.

Here is another thing about double standards.

Nakedness is a cardinal sin in this country. The entire world is comfortable with the human body but here. Americans fight against showing body parts that are not supposed to be shown.

Topless and nude beaches are to be found in every country where people don't even raise an eyebrow. Families, friends sit together without any second thoughts. But here or American dominated resorts this is a taboo. Not to be touched with a ten foot pole.

So, here we are in Hungary in a day spa. We just came out of the pool, I went to take a shower and heading into the men's locker room. Being in the men's locker room I am walking in bare ass naked.

I am not alone, there are other men in there. Suddenly the front door opens and in comes this white haired lady. Nobody batted an eye but I instinctively grabbed my towel and covered up myself. Being the virtuous American that I am.

It turned out that she was not a sex crazed women looking for hot bodies but she was the cleaning lady who was not bothered by whatever she saw. Visiting that spa several times in the coming years I got used to this and it didn't bother me any longer.

Come to think of it, last year in the San Juan airport I went to the men's room and there was a young lady cleaning the facilities while we were using it.

Can anybody imagine something like this on the mainland? With our double standards this can never happen.

I am sure that some smart aleck woman with a masters degree in psychology would complain.

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

April 20, 2010

Damned if you do, damned if you don't!

That is the way things are, unfortunately. The days of clear choices are gone. No matter what choices anybody makes it seem it gets to be taken apart, analyzed and criticized by morons who have no idea what they are talking about.

What brought forth this diatribe?

There are elements who claim that the cessation of flights through areas affected by the Icelandic volcano was exaggerated and unnecessary.

Things like this make my blood boil! Who the hell they think they are? How do they get the nerve to come forth with a statement like this?

All the world needed was one unfortunate plane going through the ash clouds and crash. Then all these loudmouths would have changed their position an blamed the airline for the accident.

This is just an example of the constant criticism that is going on in every aspect of our lives.

Case in point.

Where do stupid, stay home housewives get off and criticize a nuclear power plant for its operations. I would very much like to know how many of them have a degree in nuclear science that would give them the background for such criticism.

The reason I am saying this because there is a nuclear power plant in Westchester County that is being constantly questioned by the people who live around it.

Case in point.

A school's wall collapsed sometime last week. Nobody was hurt but just to be on the safe side they closed the school until engineers checked it out and determined when it was safe enough to reopen.

Mothers spoke up and said they would really like to know how safe it was and what caused the collapse. Are they structural engineers? Why do they question the engineers' findings? They think they are smarter than everybody else.

And that is the problem with us.

We all think that we know more than the professionals and because of that we don't trust anybody else.

That brings to no respect to authority. And if that prevails we will be living in a very sad and dangerous environment.


Today there is a possibility of a walkout by apartment building doormen, handymen, elevator operators and other similar occupations.

Right now it looks like there will be a walkout but by tomorrow this might be a moot point because they have settled.

But right now I am immensely enjoying myself by listening to interviews of people who live in affected buildings.

These people think the world will be coming to an end.

What will life be without an elevator operator? They will have to push the buttons themselves, terrible!

I live in an apartment building with a live in superintendent and a full time handyman. We do not have a doorman or a concierge or an elevator operator and we still survive.

To me a doorman is one the world's most useless position. All he does is help tenants with their packages, get taxis and screens visitors. And for all this he sticks his hand out for appreciation.

The only useful employees are the superintendent and the handymen. These are the ones who keep a building running.

If the strike happens all these uppity people will have to take down their garbage and have to get their own taxis. As far as I can see the world might come to an end for them.

But come Christmas, all past inconveniences and name calling will be forgotten and all the building employees will be sucking up for their "well deserved" bonuses.

It's a good country America, but it's very weird world we live in.

Monday, April 19, 2010

April 19, 2010

I am glad we are not planning any trip to Europe at this time.

This volcano stuff is getting to be bigger and bigger. The stories we hear through the media are really disturbing. I feel sorry for the people who are stuck in strange places with no means to get home.


People who live in Europe and are stuck in European airports do have the means to get home. Hop on a bus, train, hitchhike or rent a car and drive home.

If I would get stuck, let's say in Oklahoma I would not get too panicky. I am sure I could find a way to get to New York. As long as there are roads one can always get from point A to point B.

But one can really not cross the Atlantic in a row boat. But there are freighters heading this way, and as long as they don't sail via Somalia, it could be a very nice and relaxing trip.

Knowing that the world is full of obnoxious people, I can just hear them at the airports arguing with the clerks. Demanding that a hapless airline clerk should tell them when the volcano will stop and flights will resume.

This morning they said it could be heading this way, towards the East Coast of the US.

I don't know if it is really true but nobody really knows. But if it happens it will screw up a lot of things around here.

And boy, Americans get really pissed if their comforts are disrupted. Disruption to the economy is OK, war is OK as long they are not on our lands, but our comforts are untouchables.

If there is no potato chip delivery to the neighboring 7 Eleven then we see red!

Sunday, April 18, 2010

April 18, 2010

Today is Sunday. It seems like we might have a beautiful day ahead of us. It's cool outside, the heat is on in our apartment.

But then New York City housing rules prescribe that the landlord must provide heat when the temperature falls below 55° Fahrenheit. Even if it is in July.

That's OK, we can always open the windows if it gets too warm.

A couple weeks ago we went to the beach because there was a sudden heatwave around here. Now, we are impatiently waiting for summer weather to start after getting a taste of it but it just keeps delaying its arrival.

We had also, impatiently decided to summerize our wardrobe. That meant to take out all our summer stuff, have them cleaned, hang them in the closet, put away the winter stuff and throw out what was not needed.

This brings up a funny story.

A couple of years ago my wife saw an ad on TV showing plastic bags for storing clothing. These bags are to be filled, then they are zip locked and with a vacuum cleaner you suck the air out out of them. They shrink to about a quarter size of the original.

They are perfect for an apartment where storage is always a problem. These bags come in different sizes for the various clothing. We bought them and we are using them.

We were very proud of ourselves and were telling everybody about this discovery. It turned out that what was new to us was already known to a lot of people.

An acquaintance told us they already had this in Europe years ago.

Now, the funny part.

This person was moving to the US from Hungary, bought these bags and packed her belongings into them. Shrunk them and then placed the vacuumed bags in the suitcases. She said she was able to pack away a lot more clothing this way than the normal way.

But the surprise, or shock awaited her upon the arrival to Kennedy Airport.

When she collected her luggage she found that all the vacuumed plastic bags opened up. It happened because of the altitude and temperature change and pressure and whatever else that happens in the belly of an airplane. In the process all her luggage got ripped open and obviously damaged.

I can just imagine watching a suitcases quietly beginning to come alive and starting to swell. Straight out of a horror movie.

I can just see The Suitcases that Ate the Jumbo Jet.

But at the end the smart cookie that she was, she blamed the airline and got a set of new luggage. America is a good country!

So what we learned from this is do not take those vacuum bags on a plane!

But nowadays this is a moot subject. Taking a suitcase onto a plane is becoming a luxury almost like going in first class.

We not only will have to pay for every piece of luggage we plan to take on the plane but soon we will have to pay for going to pee, too.

Going back to the pee thing. Will they have variable fees for the toilet depending upon the usage?

I think a number one should be cheaper than a number two. It just makes sense, right? We do live in a capitalist society where the law of supply and demand rules.

Price things according to the demand.

Saturday, April 17, 2010

April 17, 2010

Every morning my wife and I after getting out of bed get our coffees and sit down to relax. This relaxation is the prelude to the major relaxation that comes later in the day.

We sit in the living room and for about an hour and a half watch the Early Show which is a CBS production.

This show is part news, part useless advise and part tabloid. But they are all the same and we are just partial to CBS.

The main characters in this program are overpaid clowns who really do not realize how lucky they are that they have this job.

Lately they came out with a few items that they were discussing on the air. These things were so lame that I couldn't just let them go without some remarks.

First item.

It seems there are some people across the country who want to reintroduce corporal punishment in schools.

I'm all for it.

When I was going to elementary school there was a male teacher who had the reputation of slapping kids who misbehaved.

He did not slap hard but hard enough to make his points. Parents didn't object because kids didn't dare tell the parents that they gave a reason to the teacher for the slap.

If we behaved we didn't get slapped, if we didn't we got it. It was that simple.

He was not a sadist, he was not a sexual deviant. He just wanted discipline in his classes, and he got it.

And none of us turned out any worse or are wearing this scar for the rest of our lives. We just simply learned how to behave.

A slap with a 12" ruler is not the end of the world but it is a deterrent.

If they would worry less about kids' rights, and if they would let teachers teach we might have better people at the end.

Second item.

There was talk about jealousy or couples trusting or not trusting each other.

I think the question was raised if it was permissible for one party to check on the other. Like where he is, what is he doing, reading his e-mail etc.

I just wrote he because it was simpler than she but it applies to both sexes.

I think the whole subject is sick.

Jealousy is lack of confidence. The person who is jealous of his/her partner lacks the confidence of their relationship.

I have been married for almost 30 years. And very happily, I have to add. In all the years of married life I never had one second when I doubted the depth of our relationship. I never followed my wife, I never questioned her about her whereabouts. I was just not jealous.

We are not two saints, we both have our faults just like everybody else. But we do trust each other unquestionably.

Whenever the subject of jealousy arises in a relationship they should just shake hands and walk away from each other.

That is my psychological analysis of the subject.

Another item.

And this thing bugged me a lot.

The program invited a volcanologist, some scientist, to explain the happenings in Iceland. This person sits there for hours and waits to get on front of the cameras.

Finally They start asking questions, he goes in some very interesting explanations about the whole mess when after ten seconds they say "thank you very much" and go to a commercial. When the show returns he is nowhere to be seen but some idiotic item comes on.

I think they realized that he was too smart for them and that is why they got him off.

Generally, these people really don't care about any of the answers. They just want to hear themselves speak.

But comes tomorrow morning we will be up, with our coffee in hands and will be watching.

Friday, April 16, 2010

April 16, 2010

I always thought that the German language gets the crown for having the longest words. Granted those words are combinations and kind of total expressions.

But this Icelandic volcano's name is no slouch by any means.

It is called Eyjafjallajokull. I have no clue what it means but it sounds very menacing.

I recently read an adventure paperback where the main action happened in Antarctica. There were some creatures that were frozen in ice that were revived by scientists and went on a senseless killing spree. I think their names sounded very similar to this volcano.

I'm glad I didn't go to live in Iceland because than I would have to speak this way instead of using the king's English. Remember, I didn't say which king!

With all of today's technological advances we are as backward as the Neanderthals were against nature's wraths.

The experts are great at explaining what is or was happening and why, but are at a total loss at preventing them.

Tsunamis, earthquakes, volcanic eruptions, hurricanes, tornadoes, blizzards, rain storms, heat waves and a number of other natural disasters are way beyond anybody's control.

And it is very unsettling. It seems nobody has any idea what goes on in the belly of our own earth.

They keep saying California is due The Big One. They mean an earthquake. But all they are getting ares the small ones. The scientists will keep giving this forecast until it happens then they will say You see, we told you so.

They can not predict earthquakes just as they can not predict volcanoes or tornadoes and many other things.

They are just like the economists and the weathermen. They all have 20/20 hindsight.

Who guarantees that where I live I am not sitting on top of a dormant volcano? Just because there has never been any activity is no guarantee that there never will be one.

A few hundred thousand years one way or the other is not much in the life of a volcano. They have time, they are not in the rush, they are not going anywhere.

Those plates we are supposed to sit on are just quietly sliding or floating around on molten rock somewhere way way down, once in a while rubbing against or colliding with each other.

But when they do, all hell breaks loose.

Just like the oceans those molten rock seas are totally unreliable. Their temperature ranges between 1300 °F to 2400 °F. That means swimming in them is not very advisable not even for heat cure.

Whenever a vent or a hole opens up to the earth's surface there is an outbreak of hellish proportions.

And even with today's advanced (we think) technology there is nothing anybody can do about it.

Except run for our lives, but where?

Just think about it. This week alone. An earthquake in Tibet with several hundred killed, a mine tragedy in West Virginia, OK it happened last week, and a volcanic eruption in Iceland.

It just don't look good for good old Mother Earth! Maybe the new health plan will help the old lady!

But it is very interesting to see the enormity of this eruption as it happens.

This morning only parts of Europe was affected by it. But by this evening almost the entire European continent is under the influence of this volcanic dust.

This morning Budapest Airport was still operating with several flights arriving and leaving. By this evening the airport has almost no activity because most of their flights were canceled.

It's like a huge monster is eating the the continent slowly and methodically.

I just hope once its belly is full it goes back to sleep for a few hundred thousand years and leaves the rest of us alone.

Thursday, April 15, 2010

April 15, 2010

Today is TAX DAY. This is not a very happy day for a lot of people. Mainly for those who have to pay.

But today we see our hard earned money being taken by the government. That is the Federal Government and most local governments.

I agree that they need money to pay for their existence and for all their programs but I don't agree to the part where our money is being squandered away on unnecessary things. Things we absolutely don't benefit from. Luxuries for people who took oaths to serve their constituents.

Our tax money funds overpaid and overstaffed bureaucracies that do not function efficiently.

The way these governments handle their financial affairs should be taught in schools under How Not to Conduct Your Financial Affairs.

I can just see our future. Everybody's income will go directly to the government. All of it, completely.

On April 15 we all have to file a request for an allowance or stipend to live on. Then the IRS will review our requests and provide what they think is necessary for us to live on.

Then, they will tax that too.


Here is a little economy, the way I see it.

Businesses have one thing on their mind. And that is to make money. It does not matter to them how as long as they turn a profit.

Small, family owned businesses need profit to make a living. Corporations need to show profit because their shareholders demand it.

The smaller the overhead the larger the profit, This is very simple.

Morality is not an issue in the business world. Employees' benefits, rights are just something the employers need to deal with in order to stay in business. The less they give away the more money they make.

Employers couldn't care less for their employees. Workers are nothing but stepping stones toward more profit.

When there is great need for people, employers try to outdo one and other to attract prospective employees. But when the wheel turns all good things are taken away.

Thus the outsourcing or subcontracting. If they can get people doing the same work somewhere else in the world for less, than let's go.

If they can get a shirt made in a third world country for a fraction of what they would have to pay here and at the same time using child labor they will turn a blind eye to the morality of this.

The mighty dollar is the king. It rules the world.

They are talking about unemployment. It is very sad situation. Families get ruined, lives get interrupted.

But at the same time they are giving people (false) hopes that when the economy recovers jobs will come back, the unemployed will be rehired.

I don't see it that way at all.

Companies that laid off people and are surviving are surviving with their reduced workforce. If they still make a profit they will realize that there is no and probably never was a need for all those people they laid off.

A smaller, more compact business can make just as good profit than a gigantic over amplified company. And a smaller business will not fall as hard as a mega corporation.

The View From the Bottom is that I can see no fast rehires by companies even when the economy starts up again.

But then what do I know, I'm not the lead dog!

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

April 14, 2010

The other day I read in the Auto Club magazine that somebody complained because he was given a ticket (I think in Georgia) for failing to observe the Move-Over-Law.

Actually he did slow down at the sight of a police car parked on the shoulder but apparently didn't move over even though it was a three lane highway. According to the article he received a fine of $754 and three points on his license.

The person was driving with a New York State license and the points will not be put on his record. But the penalty must be paid.

To me this rule sounds just like the old speed traps that were all over the South. That was a cash machine for the communities and this is a cash machine for the state.

I checked it and there are forty-three states where this law applies. Fortunately it does not apply in New York State.

But I have never heard of this before until I read the article. The scary thing about it is that my wife and I do drive through other states but not being aware of such a rule can cost big bucks.

If I see somebody -police or work crews- on the shoulder I usually slow down but that seems to be not enough.

I don't know how one can educate himself of the traffic rules and regulations of all the states he plans to drive through.

About thirty years ago my wife and I were driving to Florida from New York. We were going down on I95. Somewhere in the South I got carried away by my own and the car's enthusiasm and was speeding.

Out of nowhere and out in the nowhere this state trooper shows up and stops me. It was sweltering hot outside. He asked me to sit in his car in the front passanger seat. His car was nice and cool. I'm sitting there scared, with his shotgun clamped to the dasboard and between my legs.

Before getting into his car I asked my wife not to come to my defense because I didn't trust her temper.

Shortly before our trip I saw the movie Cool Hand Luke and I already saw myself in a chaingang working on the side of a country road.

Being from the North and being Jewish didn't fill me with a lot of confidence.

But the trooper was very courteous. He gave me a summons for $65 and said I would get no points. I felt myself very lucky. Having points would have cost me a lot more than $65.

I paid him in cash. When I gave him the money he pulled out a roll of banknotes from his pocket to add mine to it. I had the impression that he was singlehandedly reducing that state's budget deficit.

But $65 was a lot better deal than $754 now.

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

April 13, 2010

I went to the gym today. I try to go two or three times a week but there are times when an entire week is missed.

Last week I was dying from the cold so I skipped exercise. I figured as long as I am dying why should I knock myself out and be exhausted when my time comes.

Anyway my wife and I belong to this gym for a long time. We saw it change hands several times throughout the years but right now is at its low point.

The place is dirty, not maintained well and the membership leaves to be desired. The majority of the members are from eastern Europe and their relationships to hygiene is distant at best.

It seems they all think that sitting on a toilet is a social event. Even though the toilets are in individual booths with doors, they never seem to master the art of closing them while they are in use.

Why do we keep going back then?

The answer is convenience. It is not very expensive, we already know a lot of people there, it is not far from where we live and we always hope that things will improve.

And one day they will.

I love to exercise. I like torturing myself with weights and by using the machines. I'm very happy when I work up some sweat.

There are days, primarily in the summer, when the ventilation is not working well. At those times we work up tremendous amounts of sweat. I never complain because I keep telling myself that this sweat is well earned.

There are times when there are some attractive women in the gym (not too frequently), at those times us older geezers have the tendency to pull in our guts and add another 15 pounds to the weight we are lifting.

I remember at one time there was a young lady working out in my vicinity. There was a 70 pound weight on the floor in her way. She asked me if I could move it out of her way. Like any red blooded gentleman I effortlessly did. And when nobody saw me I said "ouch".

But in general, working out is good. Every doctor we visited for whatever ailment, and they were not many thank God, said exercise is good and it will make our life easier.

Now only if the economy would improve and those people would learn how to close the toilet doors life would be perfect.

Monday, April 12, 2010

April 12, 2010

I love outsourcing. The future of this country is to outsource everything because that is how we make money.

The reality that Americans are losing jobs because everything is done outside the country is besides the point.

I seem to remember that years ago Dell computers were losing business because they had the gall to outsource their support services to an Asian country.

Now it is an accepted way of life that when one calls for IT support service he gets connected to somewhere in India.

I called HP for assistance several times in the past years and I was always talking to a person somewhere in Mumbai or similar place.

One can recognize that the technical person is not from within the US. First it is the accent. No matter how much they try to hide it it comes through. But the primary give away is that they are much more polite than when we talk to someone from within the States.

Years ago, many years ago, I had to call someone on an 800 number for some assistance. It was a New York thing and we finished our business we continued talking. She happened to be a very pleasant person. I was stunned when I found out that she was somewhere in Tennessee and not in New York.

This was long before outsourcing became the norm.

But technology is so advanced now that the world is becoming smaller and smaller.

And also this is capitalism. They go where the available labor is the cheapest. Who cares if along the way they are creating unemployment. The important thing is the bottom line and making the stockholders happy.

I find it hilarious that they are training these people to act like Americans. They are learning the use of Americanism in their speech.

But this not an American thing. A few years ago I had to call the New York offices of the Hungarian airline. They are listing their offices for Downtown Manhattan in the Financial District along with a 212 area code.

The young lady I spoke to was very pleasant and helpful and it sounded like she was right here in New York. When I asked she told me that she was in Liverpool, England because that is where their costumer service was located.

As long as I didn't have to make a long distance call I was OK with it.

Maybe we should outsource our government, too.

Can you imagine how much money we might save by not having these money pits here. It seems that the English language is not required any longer in this country so these people will not even have to learn our customs and language they will still succeed.

Just something to ponder!

Sunday, April 11, 2010

April 11, 2010

Today is Holocaust Remembrance Day in the US and in other parts of the world.

It is a sad memory. It is a shameful memory but it is something that must be kept alive for all future generations.

There are and were bad things happening in the world all over and most of them were healed by time. But some of them remain to remind us of the viciousness of the human race.

No living being in this universe can develop such a hatred for another as we humans are capable of. Animals don't kill for the sake of enjoyment and when they kill their prays don't suffer.

Only humans are capable of unimaginable cruelty against one another.

They say the French hate everybody. When it boils down they don't have the market for themselves. Unfortunately, everybody hates everybody else.

The reasons vary. It is greed, envy, racial, religion, politics, nationality and countless of other reasons not in this particular order.

People don't need a reason to hate. They just hate because it is easy.

Hate is not limited to the uneducated. The educated ones use it as a means to get popular support. Look at Hitler. He needed something to stir up the people. And he made the Jews the scapegoats for everything that ailed Germany.

The masses, the uneducated ones will follow anybody they just need to be pointed to the right direction. One doesn't need to be stupid to be hateful.

There was no reason for the Tutsis and the Hutus to hate and massacre each other in Africa. There is no reason for the Shiites and the Sunnis to hate and kill one and other. There was no reason for the Turks to kill the Armenians and there was no reason for the Japanese to hate the Koreans.

There was no understandable reason for the Communist Cambodians (Pol Pot) to annihilate a large portion of their own people.

And these are a few from the modern day history. The list is quite long.

Why did the Egyptians and many subsequent nations hated the Jews?

This is the world we inherited and now live in. Our heritage is nothing but hatred for one and other regardless of what we look like and where we came from and what we believe in. As we can see the French do not have exculise and inalienable rights to hatred.

But for cruelty against other humans we don't have to go anywhere for help. The cruelty the Ukrainians, Poles, Hungarians showed against the Jews during the Holocaust is without comparison. The cruelty the Tutsis and Hutus showed against one and other fills volumes.

Cruelty sometimes caused by political beliefs. One believes the enemy has to be eradicated. But more disturbing is when cruelty is caused by the people who by committing it just simply enjoying the torturing of the week and defenseless.

Today's Holocaust Remembrance Day should be a Day of Remembrance for all victims of senseless genocides because their deaths were unprovoked and uncalled for.

Saturday, April 10, 2010

April 10, 2010

I really like Sarah Palin!

I hope she will succeed at whatever she wants to succeed in. Because when she reaches her goal a new world will begin here.

New norms will be set, new politics, new outlook on life.

First, stupid will be fashionable. One will not have to prove that one knows what he is talking about, just talk for the sake of talking.

Hockey moms will rule the world. Her attempts at showing that she is one of the common folk has reached a crescendo. I don't know if she realizes how common she really is. Never mind Saturday Night Live, she should appear on Are You Smarter Than a Fifth Grader? show.

But then on the other hand she probably would lose to a fifth grader.

During her rule teen pregnancy would become the in thing. Get a seventeen year old girl pregnant and abandon her is the accepted way for a hockey mom, right? She claims to be a Bible believing Christian. But I don't think that the Bible advocates teen pregnancy outside of marriage.

But hey, if that is her accepted way then it must be right.

Her foreign policy knowledge is without comparison. Who else can claim to know everything about Russia because it can be seen from her back porch? I am sure nobody has this fantastic window to the world.

After she (thankfully) lost the 2008 Election she returned to Alaska to serve her constituents but shortly afterward she resigned from her office as governor. The reason was that she smelled money.

America is a great country. Even the stupid can make money if given the chance.

Blue collar, not the fashion kind, will be the ruling class. Don't misunderstand, there is nothing wrong with blue collar people because they are the building blocks of our society but this woman is overdoing it by flaunting her family and her origin.

Just remember that the ruling class that came out of the October Revolution in Russia in 1917 was their blue collar people. And see the trouble they got themselves into.

Think very hard before following Queen Sarah! I am sure there is a very picturesque abyss at the end of her road.

Friday, April 9, 2010

April 9, 2010

There was a news item that a baby humpback whale was dying on the shores of Long Island. It seems that the whale separated from its mother and beached itself three days ago. According to the experts baby whales can not survive without their mothers' milk.

Finally to put it out of its misery it was euthanized early this morning.

It is very sad. I love all animals and I feel sorry for any animal that gets killed regardless for what reason.

But what I find interesting sanctimonious way people behave in times like these.

People went out to the beach and prayed, some of them kneeled in the sand. Suddenly this baby whale became the center of their attention.

These are the same people who wouldn't give a nickel to a homeless person or help an elderly person across the street. But yes, pray for a whale.

Sometime people can be so two faced it turns my stomach. Their forced sanctimoniousness, their forced better than thou attitudes are nothing but phony exhibitionism.

I had a colleague who was an engineer.He was semi intelligent but he was still an engineer. This person was extremely religious with his own beliefs in some Indian sect. He would not eat meat or even eggs because that would mean killing an animal.

But in conversations he never batted an eye convicting large groups of people he didn't believe in.

He dead seriously said that those people should be killed because that would solve a lot of problems.

How can a religious person make such a statement? Killing an animal is forbidden but killing humans is OK?

Now, these are the same kind of people who would go to the beach and pray over a dying whale.

I have no use for such individuals. They are totally useless as far as I am concerned. They are useless because they are not honest. They are not honest themselves and are not honest to others.

That's the society we live in today!

I'm gonna cut this writing short because I have to run and see on the news how my hero is doing in the Masters. Now there is an honest person!?

Thursday, April 8, 2010

April 8, 2010

The world's luckiest country is the African country of Malawi. This is a place nobody ever heard of until Ms. Madonna Ciccone decided to use this country as her shopping outlet for babies.

Why would an American performer want to adopt a child from Malawi? Aren't there enough children in this country waiting to be adopted to a loving home?

This is the same thing Mia Farrow did and Angelina Jolie did. They really don't care about American children, they would rather help children from other countries.

I think one of the reasons is that here in the US the requirements for adoption are much more stringent and half the time these people would not qualify.

However, in Malawi and other Third World countries money will buy everything, even babies!

This is what I call utterly Un-American.

Madonna also funds six orphanages through her Raising Malawi charity and is setting up a school for girls on the outskirts of the country's capital, Lilongwe.

In New York they are closing a hospital after 160 years of operation. That is St. Vincents Hospital. This closing comes after they closed St. John's Queens Hospital a year ago along with another catholic hospital.

Closing these institutions places large number of people amongst the unemployed not even mentioning the lack of medical care for the affected areas.

But helping the people where one lives just doesn't seem to stir up any excitement to these celebrities. It seems Malawi holds more charm to Ms. Ciccone than New York City does.

The money she made was made primarily from the Americans. They are buying her Cd's, they are attending her concerts. How about giving some of it back by helping where she lives.

The same applies to Oprah. This woman made hundreds of millions of dollars here in the good old US of A. Why she sees the need to build a girls school in South Africa? Why not help here where it is needed.

If she likes it there so much why doesn't she move to South Africa? If Madonna likes Malawi so much why she does not move to Malawi? I am sure they would accept her there with open arms. She might even be queen there.

These so called celebrities don't know what to do with themselves. Money, it seems has no value to them. They are spending it like it grows on trees. Maybe it does for them. But society here is suffering from one of the biggest depression this country has ever known.

Going around and throwing it away in other parts of the world just makes no sense at all.

But weirder things do happen for the sake of publicity.

Wednesday, April 7, 2010

April 7, 2010

Today was the first beach day for us. The weather is fantastic for the entire day. The temperature went up to 90°F and at the beach it was easily above 80°F.

We couldn't go into the water because it was so cold that our feet went numb when we stuck them in. But it was very refreshing.

It was surprising how many people were out there on a weekday. And not all senior citizens but many able bodied men and women.

Either they just didn't go to work or they have no jobs and that's why they chose to sit out in the sun.

Anyway, it was a very good day!


Last year they were advising people to cut spending and reduce credit card usage because that is the root of the troubles we are in.

People were spending and spending, putting their charges on their credit cards and then getting stuck with huge interest rates. The end result was that they could not afford the large payments and default followed.

This was what prompted the advise that to cut spending is the wise thing to do.

Then come the retailers who are at the receiving end of this curtailed spending advice. At first they cut their prices to attract the buying public (and they sell crap for the lowered prices) then they slowly attempt to return to their original pricing hoping the public would not notice it.

It seems people heeded the advice and slowed down their credit card usages. But now there are complaints about this. Today the market fell and one of the reasons is a report by the Federal Reserve issued today.

According to this report consumer borrowing fell again in February, reflecting weakness in credit cards and auto loans. Analysts said the sharp reduction showed that the weak economy is still making consumers hesitant to take on more debt.

The February decline was the 12th decrease in the past 13 months as consumers slash borrowing in the face of a deep economic recession and high unemployment.

Analysts said consumer borrowing is being held back by fears about job security with unemployment still near 10 percent and a move by banks to tighten credit standards following the severe financial crisis of the past two years.

Now what is it they want?

Do they want us to slow down spending and have a healthy financial situation at every home with no indebtedness to any credit card company and bank and consequently hurt the retail industry?

Or do they want us to go back and start or rather continue borrowing and eventually owe to every Tom, Dick and Harry but make the retailers and banks happy?

You damned if you do and damned if you don't!

Tuesday, April 6, 2010

April 6, 2010

Easter Sunday is usually the beginning of Spring. The weather gets mild, some trees start to show their flowers, grass start to grow and basically everything started to become a little more colorful.

As I said before we live in an apartment but when we look out the window we can see the changes and as long as the weather stays pleasant these changes are very good for the eye.

Many, many years ago on Easter Sunday people dressed up in their fineries and went out for walks with their families.

In Manhattan, Fifth Avenue was one of the most fashionable places to go and be seen. It started in the 1870s and eventually became very popular. People dressed up, women wore beautiful and elaborate hats.

But this wasn't just a New York event. All over the country in cities people did the same and showed themselves in the popular areas. Years ago we went out to a nearby beach for a walk and found that the boardwalk was filled with people strolling up and down with their families.

This was called the Easter Parade. It was not a parade as we know parades, it was just people parading and enjoying Easter.

Like everything else this changed, too. Or I should say degenerated. It is now a long way from the way it was in the Judy Garland movie of Easter Parade. It is not even a bad imitation of it.

OK, the police closes Fifth Avenue from traffic until about 1 PM for the sake of the people who still want to be there. But one has to see those people!

First of all, most of them are tourists who just want to see weird New Yorkers. The rest are the weird New Yorkers.

For some reason some people insist on dressing up as idiots. They dress up in costumes only they find interesting and they all want to be noticed, pushing themselves front of cameras.

The women's hats are another thing. Years ago these hats were elegant headpieces. Now they are jokes. Who wants to see a birdnest on the top of a woman's head? Who wants to see an Easter basket filled with whatever on top of a woman's head?

Nobody wears normal and tasteful hats anymore. They all try to outdo each other with the craziest creations. Some hats are like an ugly baby that has a face only a mother can love.

This whole Easter Parade thing became a circus. People don't respect anything anymore. My wife and I went to a very lovely place for Easter Brunch. There were many people and families there. We dressed up nicely but we were in the minority.

There were people in polo shirts, men and women in jeans and sneakers.

And if the place would have said there was a dress code they probably would have been sued.

That's America for you! Or is it called progress?

Monday, April 5, 2010

April 5, 2010

They say talent is a God given gift. It is probably correct but who determines what talent is?

Leonardo da Vinci had talent, Mozart had talent, most of the artists that we are admiring today who lived in the past centuries had some talents.

Today's artists' talents I am questioning. It seems that today's artists just like in the old days need benefactors. But today's benefactors are not the same caliber as the ones in the distant past.

What art is to paint a Campbell Soup can? If it weren't for the support of Jackie Kennedy, Andy Warhol would have remained an unknown and struggling artist.

This just proves the old adage: it is not what you know, it is who do you know!

For every successful artist today there are hundreds or thousands possessing the same or even more talent but lacking adequate backing.

There is nothing more upsetting than to be an unappreciated artist.

I knew someone who was multi talented. In all seriousness, this person was close to be a genius.

He created beautiful paintings, he created gorgeous drawings. He made etchings that were fantastic. Actually, I have some of his works in my home.

He wanted to be a movie director and he wanted to be admitted to the university to study that field.

Multi talented doesn't begin to describe him. But he couldn't succeed.

Could not get admitted to the university, could not sell his art work, he was forced to live his life and support his family as a simple factory worker.

Maybe poverty helped him to create. If we think back most of the great artists lived in poverty or were suffering from pain or depression while creating their greatest works. But try to tell that to an artist today.

The person I was writing this about finally died years ago from cancer without ever succeeding or being appreciated. But I cherish the pieces he gave me because if nobody in this world remembers him, I still do.

The question still lingers there. At what point does a person give up trying and decide to fit in society by joining the world of the working people and attempting to make an honest living.

When I was young all I ever wanted was to be gigolo. But I realized my shortcomings and instead became an engineer.

Sunday, April 4, 2010

April 4, 2010

There are two anniversaries today. Not because today is Easter Sunday but because today is April 4.

One of the anniversaries is that 42 years ago today in 1968 Martin Luther King Jr. was assassinated in Memphis. I remember when the news came on. At that time nobody was really aware of the magnitude of this.

One wonders what would have happened if he were alive today. The changes would have happened anyway because that is what called progress. But he gave his life for what he believed in.

And, interestingly this year it falls on Easter Sunday at which time a similar anniversary is being celebrated worldwide.

Another but lesser known anniversary today is the end of Nazi occupation of Hungary in 1945. With that the war there was over even though it took longer for the rest of Europe.

In April 1945 the Soviet army took Berlin, and a few months later, in June 1945, British and American (and shortly afterwards also French) troops took possession of their countries' sectors of Berlin.

And with that World War II was over.

But back to Hungary. Buda and Pest are two halves of the capital divided by the Danube and connected with several bridges. Buda is on the hilly west side while Pest is on the flat east side.

The Germans in their withdrawals blew up all the Danube bridges. My family and I lived on the Pest side where the ghetto was located.

On January 18, 1945 Pest was liberated by the advancing Soviet army. I remember when morning came and we realized that we did not hear shooting, no artillery, no bombardment.

Some brave souls ventured out from the air raid shelter we were in and went out to the street.

Our building was just inside of the ghetto walls and at one of the few gates to the outside world that was always guarded by armed Hungarian Nazis.

These brave people came back and told us that the guards were gone, the gate was open and there was no shooting anywhere.

That was when we all realized that we were survivors!

Anyway, it took another month and a half to get the Germans out of Hungary thus April 4 became the official Liberation Day.

From 1950 until 1989 it was a national holiday celebrated with parades and political speeches that glorified the Red Army and the Soviet Union.

As a kid I liked these holidays. No school, holiday atmosphere in the city and if the weather was nice a lots of interesting things to do.

After 1989 this celebration was stopped because by that time the Soviet Union ceased to exist and the political system also changed in Hungary. They realized that they did not have to be grateful to the Soviets any longer for everything.

I agree with this. But I do think they should be grateful for ending the war since Hungary as always, was on the wrong side fighting. Maybe the Hungarians are sorry the war was lost. Maybe they wish the Germans had won.

One never knows the real truth about these things. They are buried deep in rhetoric and double talk.

I do know that I am happy that I survived and I really don't care who liberated me from the ghetto as long as I was liberated.

Just a short remembrance.

On our way home from the ghetto on January 18 we saw a line of Russian soldiers standing across the road with knives in their hands. Naturally we all got very frightened.

When we approached them they smiled and with their knives they cut the yellow Star of David we all had to wear off our coats saying we didn't need these any longer.

This was the last nice thing they ever done but still this is what I remember.

Saturday, April 3, 2010

April 3, 2010

Just to continue a little bit on yesterday's subject.

My wife and I love the Caribbean. We have been to several islands but our favorite is St. Maarten. This island is half Dutch and half French, each part belonging to their respective countries.

Going from one side to the other is like two different worlds. I'll explain later.

About fifteen years ago we vacationed in Aruba. That is a Dutch island. We had a great time there. Many superb restaurants, not much American influence, yet.

We sampled local foods and had the chance to try Dutch cooking along with other international foods.

Several years later we went back and were totally disappointed. KFC, McDonald's and other fast food restaurants blanketed the island along with more American style restaurants. What a way to ruin Paradise!

Now back to St. Maarten.

The first time we vacationed there we thought since it was a Dutch island we might be able to find Dutch cooking. No luck. They looked at us if we were asking for Mongolian cooking.

On the Dutch side every restaurant tries to outdo the others with American style food. Might that be Italian or Chinese or sea food but still the same as we can find at home. Sport bars and humongous menus everywhere.

A food critic once said that restaurants should not advertise home style cooking because if we want to eat home style than we should stay home. I agree with this sentiment.

This same ideology applies to American food. If I want to eat American food I stay home. What's the point showing my passport upon entering into a foreign country then once I'm there I feel like I never left home.

Being a tourist, being a visitor is not about making me feel like I never left home. Because then I'll stay home and save a bundle of money.

Being a tourist is experiencing things one might not experience at home. These could be customs, food, weather and a myriad of other things.

The beauty of French St. Martin is that the restaurants are almost exclusively French and serving various regional dishes. To eat at any one of them is a culinary experience.

The fact that they don't like Americans and they might even spit in one's food is another issue but with good French cooking even that tastes good.

My wife and I do like French cooking and we do go to the other side frequently to sample it. Almost always without any complains. The price is another issue.

Since the French side deals in Euro but having a lot of Americans on the island they do accept US Dollar (grudgingly) however, every restaurateur uses his own conversion factor from Euro to Dollar.

Being the tourists we are at a disadvantage because in case of an argument we have no chance of winning against the French.

Apparently the average American traveler or tourist is not keen to try local cuisine. I can not understand why since American cooking is not very colorful, at least not for me.

In a foreign country one can rarely go wrong by ordering the local fare. That is a major part of the tourist experience.

Just make sure never to order steak chien (dog steak)!

Friday, April 2, 2010

April 2, 2010

Americans are funny people.

I don't mean they are funny in a funny way, they are funny because of their universal behaviors and expectations.

They want the whole world to be like them. I don't mean they want the world to like them because nobody really like them but they expect the world to be like the Americans are.

They expect the same morals, the same laws, the same foods and the same customs regardless where they are.

If an American breaks the law in a foreign country he is stunned that the local customs don't give the same benefit of doubt as it is done in the US. And, also that the local court systems are different than the ones in the US.

If they see topless women sunning themselves on the beach they get upset because it hurts their morals. It is irrelevant that in that particular country this might be an accepted behavior.

When an American traveler goes into a restaurant in a foreign country he expects to see steaks, baked potatoes and french fries. If he can not find them he gets upset.

Why is it that if an Albanian travels and can not find "Tirana Fërgesë" on the menu he takes it in stride?

No wonder Americans are disliked around the world. They expect the world to kneel front of them because they are all convinced that the Americans are God's gift to human kind.

It is not very beneficial to brag that one is an American when traveling abroad. Europe is not known for their liking towards us. It is not only the French that dislike us but there are several countries agreeing with them.

Caribbean islands are different. They make their living from the Americans. There are islands that belong to other countries or independent where restaurants are more Americans than the ones in the Mainland.

There are Dutch islands in the Caribbean where they request the female guests not to go topless because it might hurt the morals of the American families. This is a perfect example where we expect others in their own homeland to conform to our standards.

So, why should they like us?

I love when they are trying to transplant American style football into Europe. If my memory serves me right they tried it before and it didn't work. Now it is on again.

There is a single sport that is more popular in the world than all others combined. And that is soccer. But, there is one standalone country where it never found a fertile soil regardless of all the immigrants and all the money. That country is the US.

But now again they are trying to popularize the American style football in Europe. It is a dumb sport and those people will never go for it. Actually it is not even a sport. It is a business.

I'm so relieved though that our influence still accounts for something. Curling is now an internationally accepted sport.

Thursday, April 1, 2010

April 1, 2010

Today is April Fool's Day.

Today is when idiots call the zoo and ask for Mr. Wolf. Today is the day when one calls his wife from work and tells her that the train cut off his manhood and other silly things.

But being responsible and mature adults we don't do these things anymore. Or do we?

The joke is actually on me. I have such a cold that it speaks five languages.

I hate colds. I do get a flu shot every year but always manage to get a cold or two. It takes the strongest men off their feet and makes sniffing babies of them. And, there is nothing to do but wait it out.

I drink teas, I eat chicken soup and hope for the best.


Today was a very lovely day. Finally the sky cleared and the sun came out. It was warm and almost summery. And they swear that Easter Sunday will be just as nice if not nicer.

Remembering years past it is hard to remember when it was so nice on Easter Sunday.

Fortunately the Stock Market is closed tomorrow being Good Friday. Even though today and yesterday it was doing fairly well I feel much safer when it is closed.

One can't make any money but can't lose either.


I am not an economist (thank God) and I don't claim to understand how money works.

But I have an idea.

New Jersey Transit is a state run commuter transportation agency. It runs trains and buses, primarily to Manhattan.

Right now they are planning to increase their rates by as much as 25%. One of their complaint is that ridership fell a lot and they don't know how else to make up the shortfall. In addition they also plan to reduce the service.

Here is my suggestion.

Why not to drop their rates? Why not to have a sale like every business is having if they want to attract costumers? It cost almost the same to run empty trains as full trains.

If they would drop the monthly fares people might return and everybody would be happy again.

This theory could be applied to every governmental agency that complains that their revenue are not as good as it should be.

Why not to reduce the fees they are hoping to collect? Their attitude is that when participation dwindles increase taxes. Then participation will dwindle again and taxes will go up again. This is a vicious circle where we are the victims.

I can't believe that laws do not permit reduction of fares and fees in order to attract more participants.

It's a good thing that Macy's does not think that way. Business is slow, let's have a sale!