Tuesday, May 23, 2017

"Pair up in threes" - Yogi Berra

"Hand me that pair of pliers!"

"A nice pair of pants would go well with that jacket, but there's a loose thread on it...hang on. I saw a pair of scissors around here."

"I'm gonna pose in my underwears!" - Filippo Giove of " Jerseylicious"

It's been driving me nuts since Eisenhower was in the White House. Why do we say we wear "a pair" of pants when we only say we wear "a shirt"?  Why is it "a pair" of pliers when it's only one hammer? If you have some leftover styrofoam and wish to send it to your friend in Schenectady, how do you pack it up? In more styrofoam?

Ever notice how much 16th century soldiers looked like 21st century hipsters?
Image result for trump fat assI can't handle that last one, but I finally look up the pants issue. We say "pants" as short for "pantaloons." Way back when when men got rid of the loincloth and started dressing a little more nicely for work, they wore pantaloons, which were actually in two pieces. You put one on one leg, tied it around the waist, and then did the same to the other leg.  Some brilliant person decided on the unipant, and we still wear them today, although I would pay a fortune to hear Donald Trump say he is "wearing pantaloons."

The deal with "a pair of scissors" is, each blade is actually a knife, but you put them together and you get the cleaving going on that you couldn't achieve with a knife in each hand.  Same with pliers...take them apart and see how much you can get done, pulling nails or whatever, but a pair makes them work.

It's sort of like peanut butter and jelly, cheese and pepperoni, Heckle and Jeckle. When the whole is greater than the sum of the parts, we say it's working great, and we move on.

Next up: If you sue a parsley farmer and win, will they garnish his wages?

Monday, May 22, 2017

Meanwhile, in New Jersey...

For months, people complained that flowers they left on the gravesites of their loved ones at the First Reformed Church Cemetery in Pompton Plains, N.J. were missing. Gone. Vanished.

New Jersey cops don't mess around. They set up surveillance cameras at the cemetery, which, conveniently enough, is right across the street from Pequannock Police Headquarters.  They borrowed the video gear from the police department in nearby Riverdale.

And they placed some new floral arrangements at the site of the disappearing daisies, and waited.   

Image result for lynda wingate
Wingate mugshot
Shortly, they got video images of a woman driving up in a minivan and making off with the planted plants (possibly while wearing pleated pants, but the police report fails to make that clear).

And the Riverdale police said they recognized the woman, and claim she is one Lynda Wingate, 59, a former dispatcher for that department.

Pequannock Police Captain Christopher Depuyt says Wingate says she is the woman seeing hauling off the hollyhocks, but they have it all wrong.  

She said she makes it a habit to go to the cemetery to clean up the place, remove the aging roses, get rid of gladioli, let go of lilies, clear out carnations.  Capt. Depuyt is not having it. "We just had those flowers placed there," he says.

Interviewed by the local CBS station in New York, Wingate said flowers vanish from her own mother's grave all the time, and added, "You're innocent until proven guilty."

As a former police dispatcher myself, I say she should have known better.  Also, as a citizen myself, I say she should have known better. IF she's guilty, that is.

Sunday, May 21, 2017

Sunday Rerun: There's a name for everything

I have decided that if we live long enough, every malady and every affliction that ever strikes any of us will get a name and a scientific/medical diagnosis. 

I mean, if you try to get out of going to dinner with your mother-in-law because you have a headache, forget it.  Put on your pants. You're going.  But tell them that you are suffering with Trigeminal autonomic cephalalgia, and head for the recliner with an ice bag and some Tylenol.  Make it Tylenol PM if you want; you're in for the night!

Sprained ankle?  You're still expected to go to work.  Tell the boss your problem is that common musculoskeletal injury: the ligaments of your ankle are partially or completely torn due to sudden stretching, and that you'll be home til Wednesday, the earliest, elevating and icing.  No phone calls, please.

Seborrheic dermatitis sounds a lot better than itchy scalp, and remember, nothing stops dandruff better than a dark flannel jacket...
But.  If you've ever flown out of bed, running down the hall with the belt from your robe trailing you like a tow truck dragging chains around the auto auction yard, because just as you dozed off, you thought you heard a an earschplittinloudenboomer (an old German term for loud noise), then you're not really flipping your lid! There's a name for that, and that name is Exploding Head Syndrome, a rarely-fatal disorder characterized by "the perception of loud noises during sleep-wake or wake-sleep transitions." That's the word from the European Sleep Research Society, and who knows more than they do?

Boom boom!  Just when you thought the top of your head was coming off because of that new hot sauce you tried...

Saturday, May 20, 2017

The Saturday Picture Show, May 20, 2017

This is the art of a woman in Iran. Apparently, with a picture of a person, she stitches the person's face onto a pillow. This would ensure that I would never sleep again, if I had to snuzzle up to a pillow with my awful mug on it.
This is how we won World War II - men were off fighting and women were in the airplane plants, building the planes that won the war, so that later, women could be paid less than men for doing the same work.  Seems clear to me...
I used to have a dozen of these, I'm sure...cigar boxes were the perfect thing to keep pencils and rocks and Canadian pennies and jackknives and all the other stuff that men and boys collect and never get rid of. People don't smoke cigars like they used to, and today's kids have to get plastic fake cigar boxes at the Dollar Tree and I don't know if it's the same.
As long as we're on a nostalgia bender here, let's take a look at the menu from Rip's Drive In from the days when a side of fries set you back a quarter.
Well, I bet you didn't know this! The Mona Lisa was a paint-by-number thing! We didn't know this for years, but it turned out that Lee Da Vinci took this picture with his cell phone 1/2 way through the project, and then lost the phone.
For those out of town, the Preakness Stakes is a big horse race held every May here in Baltimore. Today will be the 142nd installment of what they always call "the middle jewel of racing's triple crown." Interestingly enough, a 100,000 or so people show up for the race, and almost two dozen of them actually watch it.
There are two kinds of people in the world: those who love raw oysters (with cocktail sauce and hot sauce) and those who don't know what they're missing!
In other local news, our favorite diner here - the fabulous Double T in Perry Hall - is closing down so that they can pick the whole building up and move it two hundred feet north, so that another drug store can be built on the diner's current site, because we don't have so many drug stores already.  You can't swing a tire chain around here without hitting a chain drug store, and I am tired of them.  The diner will be closed for six months, starting June 10. I will be in pancake-deprivation state, but we'll have our 37th CVS.

Friday, May 19, 2017

Postage due

Image result for cardinalThey say that when you see a cardinal outside your window, it's a way for someone gone to Heaven to get in touch with you and let you know all is well.

I happen to believe this is true, and someone whom we love and lost in life is always popping up in our lives. It's uncanny, but it happens, and we feel the love.

They also say that Facebook is better than any private detective, or even the FBI, at tracking down lost souls here on Earth.  I have to say that's true, and here's a good example.

Go back in time to May, 1945, when a woman named Virginia Christofferson sent a love letter to her husband Rolf, who was at the time serving in the Norwegian Navy. It was a sweet letter, one that any service person anywhere would love to have read. "I love you Rolf, as I love the warm sun," Mrs. Christoffersen wrote. "That is what you are to my life, the sun about which everything else revolves for me." 

Now go forward in time to this year, 2017. We don't know how it happened, but that letter, which was stamped and mailed and postmarked, turned up in an open space underneath a staircase in a house in Westfield, N.J.

The current occupant of the house is Melissa Fahy. She and her dad were doing some renovation and found the note. There seemed no better solution than to turn to Facebook to track down the Christoffersons, and within a few clicks, Rolf turned up via his son in California.
Image result for melissa fahy
Mr and Mrs Christofferson, back in the day

Mr Christofferson is 96 now, and his son read the letter to him. Virginia went home to be with the Lord six years ago this weekend, but, "In a way, I guess it's his wife coming back and making her memory alive again," as Melissa Fahy put it.

"It was really sweet to see that long-distance love," she said. And you can be sure that Mr C saw his love that night too, in a sweet dream of long ago and far, far away.

Thursday, May 18, 2017

Listen to them

Yesterday and today I have been at my dear old Towson High School, serving as a judge/advisor for "Project Citizen." Ninth-graders have to a) identify and b) come up with solutions for real problems where they live.

This is not the nebulous stuff of beauty-contest questions, in which people say they want to bring about world peace or teach the children of the world to love each other. They deal in the real. For example, there is a traffic circle in the heart of Towson, built at the confluence of York, Dulaney Valley, and Joppa Rds.  This has been a monstrosity from the day it opened, chiefly because it's a miniature two-lane highway, and when people are on the inner lane and want to get off the roundabout and go on about their lives, they sometimes cannot, and they have to keep circulating like a pair of socks left in the dryer to go around again and again.

And the road becomes a political football for the county and the state governments, kicked back and forth and forever subject to Planning Commissions concerned with Traffic Flow and I don't know what-all else.  There are many people who avoid the entire traffic circle and will drive as far as Cleveland, Ohio, to avoid getting caught in it.  One of those people gave birth to me, and the other married me, is all I'm saying.

But I listened to the students as they excellently - and there is no higher praise from me; they were superb! - laid out their ideas. They did surveys, asking several hundred people for ideas. They contacted other jurisdictions and road-building firms to get their thoughts.  These students - 14, 15 years of age, did deep and thorough research on the issue, and presented their findings well.

Image result for towson high schoolOther students did presentations on owning and maintaining backyard chicken coops in the county, and improving access in schools for students dealing with permanent and temporary mobility challenges.  All excellent work, and I will be back today, in classrooms I once occupied while Nixon was president, learning more and apprehending new ways of dealing with old problems.

Because it dawned on me as the students talked about the difficulties of navigating the traffic circle...they're freshmen in high school! They aren't driving through that mess, they're walking through it, trying to get to the mall or wherever.

In all the talk talk talk I've heard over the years about that circle, I don't believe I remember hearing an adult discuss the hazards to pedestrians.  

It's a nice reminder to pay attention to the young people among us.  They amaze me every time.