Sunday, December 20, 2009

Story Behind the Mantle

I was just checking my blog and looking at the picture of the mantle in my cookie recipe post. I did it a couple of years ago: it was the last thing I built and was a great solution to an angled wall near the front door.

Over the years I have built many pieces and all of them were designed to solve a space problem. Finding a solution was a gratifying part of my woodworking---almost as much fun as building and watching plain pieces of wood transformed into objects of beauty and function.

Sunday, December 13, 2009

World's Favorite Christmas Cookie Recipe

It's time once again to publish my favorite Christmas cookie recipe. A friend sent this recipe to me years ago and I guarantee it will become a favorite. You don't even have to bake. Just reading it will warm the cockles of your heart.

1/2 Cup of Water
1 Cup Flour
1 tsp Baking Sod
1 Cup of Sugar
1 tsp Salt
1 Cup of Brown Sugar
1 tsp Lemon Juice
4 Large Eggs
1 Cup of Nuts
2 Cups of Dried Fruit
1 Bottle of Jose Cuervo Tequila

*Sample the Cuervo to check quality. Take a large bowl, check the Cuervo again, to be sure it is of the highest quality, pour one cup and DRINK.

*Turn on the electric mixer...Beat one cup of butter in a large bowl. Add one teaspoon of sugar...Beat again

*At this point, it's best to make sure the Cuervo(Tequila) is still OK, try another cup...just in case

*Turn off the mixerer thingy. Break 2 leggs and add to the bowl and chuck in the cup of dried fruit. Pick the friggin fruit off the floor...

*Mix on the turner. If the fried druit gets stuck in the beaterers just pry it loose with a drewscriver.
*Sample the Cuervo again to check for tonsistinsee.

*Next, sift 2 cups of salt, or flour o! r something. Who giveshz a sheet..
*Check the Jose Cuervo. Now, shift the lemon juice and strain your nuts for pitz. What? You know what I meant....

*Add one table. Add a spoon of sugar. Greash the oven.

*Turn the cake tin 360 degrees and try not to fall over.
*Don't foget to beat off the turner

*Finally, throw the bowl through the window, finish the Cose Juervo and make sure to put the stove in the dishwasher.


Saturday, December 12, 2009

Health Care Reform Need Brought Home

I recently had some major eye surgery for epiretinal membrane, otherwise known as macular pucker. Granted, it is a tough surgery because the area in question in inside the eye, on the backside. If you think of the eye as a basketball, imagine going through the front of the basketball to a little area on the inside of the back wall. I'm not questioning the complexity of the surgery but the hospital bill arrived today and I am questioning some of the costs.

The total hospital bill (not including the surgeon) was over $11,550 (for ambulatory surgery). Included in this bill is the cost for two Tylenols---$13.00, and a "head cover drape"---$72.40. Oh, and let's not forget the "skin scribe marking pen" used to put an X over the eye to be operated on for a price of $3.50. I could go on with comments for each item but that won't alter the costs or make me feel better.

Do I think we need health care reform? I'll let the the $13.00 Tylenol speak for me.

Monday, November 23, 2009

Another Species, Another Continent

Regular reader(s) of this blog know of my theory that an animal revolution is taking place. I have used news stories as the basis for my hypothesis. I have cited articles about cows (see posts on 5/7/09, 6/20/09, and 8/29/09), pigs (posted 6/29/09), groundhogs (posted 7/25/09), and chimps (see post of 7/7/09). Now today's news adds a new species, marsupials, on a new continent, Australia.

The Associated Press reports that a kangaroo tried to drown a dog and when the dog's master tried to rescue him, the kangaroo turned on the man and caused enough injury to put the man in the hospital.

The revolt widens.

Saturday, November 14, 2009

Once Again, Ogden Nash

The image above is a watercolor done by Tom McNeely and the subject is Ogden Nash and one of his witty rhymes, The Fly.

Nash and his whimsical offerings are a frequent topic of mine. I use his poems to escape old age, diabetes, and such.

When asked where he lived, his answer was "I could have loved New York, had I not loved Balti-more."

So here's Nash's thoughts that may help anyone out there who is traveling abroad or staying home:

Goody for Our Side and Your Side Too

Foreigners are people somewhere else,
Natives are people at home;
If the place you’re at
Is your habitat,
You’re a foreigner, say in Rome.
But the scales of Justice balance true,
And tit leads into tat,
So the man who’s at home
When he stays in Rome
Is abroad when he’s where you’re at.
When we leave the limits of the land in which
Our birth certificates sat us,
It does not mean
Just a change of scene,
But also a change of status.
The Frenchman with his fetching beard,
The Scot with his kilt and sporran,
One moment he
May a native be,
And the next may find him foreign.
There’s many a difference quickly found
Between the different races,
But the only essential
Is living different places.
Yet such is the pride of prideful man,
From Austrians to Australians,
That wherever he is,
He regards as his,
And the natives there, as aliens.
Oh, I’ll be friends if you’ll be friends,
The foreigner tells the native,
And we’ll work together for our common ends
Like a preposition and a dative.
If our common ends seem mostly mine,
Why not, you ignorant foreigner?
And the native replies
And hence, my dears, the coroner.
So mind your manners when a native, please,
And doubly when you visit
And between us all
A rapport may fall
Ecstatically exquisite.
One simple thought, if you have it pat,
Will eliminate the coroner:
You may be a native in your habitat,
But to foreigners you’re just a foreigner.

Sunday, November 08, 2009

The Eyes Have It

I've been a diabetic for over twenty years now. Diabetes is a very destructive force. It chops away at the body very quietly and covertly. It has left its destruction in my body, mainly in heart disease and chronic renal failure. But oddly enough, those were not the aftermaths that I dreaded the most. I have always had a huge fear of two things: loss of limb and loss of eyesight.

It looked like I was worrying unnecessarily until about a month ago. I had my yearly eye exam in May and everything was fine. But a few weeks ago, I noticed that the vision in my right eye was rapidly deteriorating. I called my local eye doctor who referred me to a retina specialist after her examination.

Talk about improvements in technology. I was given a battery of tests and at the end, the specialist told me I had multiple problems in both eyes. His immediate concern was the macular pucker in the right eye. The pucker is caused by scar tissue on the macula and leads to impaired and distorted vision in some people. He recommended surgery and set it up for the following week.

Then the comedy of errors started. I had to go to my primary care physician who had to sign off on the surgery. She approved surgery with a local anesthesia. Unfortunately, the surgeon did my particular surgery with a general anesthesia and at my pre-ops at the hospital, I was informed that the surgery would have to be postponed until a cardiologist signed off on it. So I had to find a cardiologist who would see me on short notice. That took a couple of days and it was now the day before the original date of surgery. I called the surgeon's office to update them and was told I was going to have the surgery the next day (under a local anesthesia) as originally planned. This agreement was made by my primary care physician, the surgeon and the hospital. However, not one of the three entities thought to tell me. I found out by accident.

So, I had the surgery. As the surgeon was peeling off the scar tissue, I started bleeding and he had to stop. He doesn't know if he got enough of the tissue to improve my vision. It's now a waiting game. He replaced the vitreous with an air bubble to make the surgical field more visible. So now I am like a giant level with the bubble moving around as I do. The bubble is irritating but not as irritating as the lack of perspective, the inability to see details and the inability to see in reduced light.

I can tell you right now that I won't make a very good blind person. And if you want my vote on which of the nasties caused by diabetes is the worst, my answer is a very loud THE EYES HAVE IT.

Saturday, October 31, 2009

Personal Thoughts About Alfred Fire

On Thursday, a major fire destroyed three businesses and the living quarters of some students. Alfred is a very small town but is home to two colleges, Alfred State College and Alfred University. The fire reminded my family of how significant Alfred is to us.

Alfred is "down the road" from us, seven or eight miles away. My brother lives in Alfred and is retired from the university after spending nearly all of his working career there. At the age of sixty, my mother decided she wanted to work in food service at the state college and she retired from there. One of my sisters graduated from ASC, a niece and nephew graduated from AU and a great niece graduated from the college as well.

In one of life's strange coincidences, my sister and brother-in-law were passing by the buildings that burned just as the sirens went off. They were on their way from Pennsylvania to Hornell to pick me up and transport me to a hospital for eye surgery. When they returned home later, they had to detour around Alfred because of the clean-up from the fire.

There has been an outpouring of concern for the students who lost all their belongings and the owners of the businesses that were destroyed or damaged. This is an area of generous and sharing people, so I know that concern will turn into concrete help.

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

My Contribution to the Butter-Margarine Wars

I don't remember any childhood chores with great affection or animosity, but I do remember one chore with curiosity. I remember always volunteering when my mother wanted someone to mix the color in the margarine. How strange does that sound?

I was given a plastic bag that held white margarine with a little button of dye. You broke the button and mixed the dye in by kneading the bag. I recall stretching this job out as long as I could, because when I was doing that, I couldn't wash dishes or sweep the floor.

When this memory arose recently, I wondered why the margarine had to be colored. So Mr. Google and I did a little search and found lots of info on the internet. (The image above is from a site named I have not been able to create a link.) Basically, the dairy industry fought the sales of margarine as a substitute of butter, and one of the laws enacted forbade the sale of yellowy margarine. All margarine sold was white. If you wanted it to look more like butter, then you had to add the coloring.

Margarine has been around a long time; a Frenchman invented it in 1870 and when it arrived in America, the dairy industry wasted no time in declaring war. The dairy states and the federal government enacted many laws over the years that has lead to the many margarines on store shelves today.

So I take delight in my (limited) participation in the Butter-Margarine Wars. My arthritic fingers take delight in the idea that they don't have to handle those plastic bags anymore.

Saturday, October 10, 2009

Manipulating the News

Many, many years ago, when I was in college, I served as chief of the News Bureau. At that time, my school was the only one in NYS that allowed students to be the sole contact with the print media. In those days, I was very idealistic about what was news and how it was handled. Probably you could cross out the "idealistic" part and substitute "naive".

That idealistic naiveness has has eroded over the years, and during the past couple of weeks, has disappeared altogether because of the way our local paper has handled a local news event.

To back up, I read of a similar event which occurred in a neighboring community some time ago. That story had nearly daily accounts in our paper of what was happening. Those accounts were significantly featured on the front page and created a storm of letters to the editor that could be read in the paper.

Now a parallel situation has taken place here, in our town, the same town in which the paper is created, printed, and distributed. So the paper is handling the news in the same manner that the neighboring community's news was handled, right? Wrong!

Maybe this is the time to reveal that one of the significant parties in today's news event worked at the newspaper at one time. Maybe I am reading more in the reporting because of that. Regardless, I can now identify ways of slanting the news without the use of words. Yesterday's paper acts as a blueprint for manipulating news.


1) Change the location of the lead story. Put it in a different spot on the page and maybe the readers will miss it.

2) Change the size of the font in the headline. Give a story about conference bikes a bigger headline than the arrest of a city official.

3) Shorten the length of the story. Give more space to area stories, rather than this local story.

4) Fluff out the length of the report by devoting significant space within the lead article to a related story.

5) Be stingy about how many times you report this story.

6) Filter who will be quoted about the event.

7) Filter what will be quoted about the event.

8) Don't include the story on your website.

9) Remove comments from the website if you don't like them.

I can imagine how the newspaper would react to my list. We never slant the news. We must consider the family. A good guy is accused. The situation warrants careful reporting. You are reading too much into the situation. But wouldn't those same reasons apply to any alleged wrongdoing reported?

See how easy it is to subtly manipulate the news. You don't even need the power of words to do it.

Sunday, August 30, 2009

A Sad Farewell

Regardless of what you may have heard to the contrary, I am not older than Methuselah. And yet, I have seen the funerals of way too many Kennedys. Given my Republican roots, I did not start my adult life as a fan of the Kennedy family.

I remember exactly where I was when JFK was assassinated. I was a fairly new teacher and heard a commotion outside my classroom door. When I went out to investigate, the principal and another teacher were standing there with stricken looks on their faces. One of them blurted out "The President has been shot." I really could not comprehend what they were saying because those were the days before the United States became a killing field. After John's death, the country shut down and everyone lived in front of their television sets for days.

My admiration for the Kennedys began to grow. When Bobby was killed, I was heartbroken because in him I saw the promise of greater things to come. It was not to be. At that time, young Teddy Kennedy seemed to be the lightweight of the family and I did not anticipate any contributions from him. Boy, was I wrong!

At first, it seemed like I was right. There was Chappaquiddick and rumors of womanizing. His drinking was legendary. His marriage fell apart. Politically, it seemed like his brothers' shoes were way too big for him to fill. Gradually, I started to realize that he was enabling laws that helped us common folks. He could negotiate a consensus from hard-nosed Republicans and Democrats. I loved his speeches. I admired the way he took the broken Kennedy family and filled the role of the missing fathers while he championed the rights of all families.

I guess President Obama said it best. Much was expected of Teddy because of who he was, but he exceeded those expectations because of the man he became. Thank you, Kennedys, for sharing Teddy with us.
It is a sad farewell indeed, now that the last of the Kennedy brothers is gone. As your Gaelic ancestors would say:
May the road rise up to meet you.
May the wind be always at your back.
May the sun shine warm upon your face;
the rains fall soft upon your fields
and until we meet again,
may God hold you in the palm of His hand.

Fascinating Names

I love words. My favorite commercial is for Gas-X. You know the one. A guy is there for a job interview and is obviously discomforted with, well, shall we say inflated gastro-intestinal air. As the interview progresses, he hears important words differently and they are all somehow related to his condition, such as "Your son Rip is on line toot."
When I was growing up, there was a wonderful family in our community by the last name of Streeter. Mr. Streeter's first name was Marion and his wife's name was Virgil. I always thoughts their names should have been reversed to correctly reflect their gender.

Saturday, August 29, 2009

Cow Alert: Mooove Out of the Way

The news is not good about the animal revolution. What had been a fairly peaceful revolt has now turned deadly. Reuters reports that the largest farmer union in Great Britain has issued a warning about cows. Yes, that's right. Cows. The normally passive bovines have killed four people in the last two months. Keep out of the way.

Saturday, July 25, 2009

Animal Manifesto

Mr. Ed, Keynote Speaker

We have more information for you about the rumored animal revolution. Now a covert convention is planned to discuss The Four-Legged Animal Unification Manifesto. Our sources tell us that some animal world bigwigs are expected to attend, including Lassie, Elsie, Puxitawny Phil, Mr. Ed, J. Fred Muggs, Polly (who says her wings count as feet), Garfield, Snoopy, Woody, Alvin and others.

Mr. Ed, as the keynote speaker, will reveal how Woody chipped away at the first letter of the original order, and as a consequence, humans ended up studying evolution and the animals were free to plan their revolution.

We will keep you informed as details become available.

"Aggressive Groundhog" --- Right?!

The AP wire had a story yesterday about a groundhog that overwhelmed a homeowner and took possession of a garage as its military headquarters. The poor owner was chased out by the groundhog and had to call for police reinforcements. When two officers arrived, the groundhog "went on the attack" and one policeman ended up on the ground. The other officer used pepper spray and they were able to catch the groundhog.

They called it an "aggressive groundhog". But we know what it really was---rodents have now joined the animal revolution.........

Tuesday, July 07, 2009

Animal Rebellion Continues

As Ronald Reagan would say, "Here we go again." This time we have a new species that escaped human bondage. (Temporarily.)

Reuters reported that a British zoo had to be evacuated on Sunday because 30 chimpanzees escaped at lunch time, headed directly to a keeper's area where their food is prepared, and got their own lunches. The zoo had to be closed while the animals were rounded up. This is just one more incident that supports my theory that an animal revolution is underway.

Remember my posts citing a couple of situations where cows escaped? Then I posted a report on a swine escape. I just can't resist saying that these are mooooving experiences and that we humans cannot keep hogging the power or we are going to be left hanging with banana all over our faces.

Wednesday, July 01, 2009

Luck: Cause or Excuse?

I've been thinking about two couples I have come to know over the years. The couples differ in age, location, and backgrounds but share a history of always having money problems. They can't find secure housing and are always moving because of rent or mortgage problems. They never have a an operating motor vehicle for very long because it breaks down, or they can't afford the payments, repairs or the insurance. They are always scrambling for money for unexpected expenses and have borrowed from just about anyone who will loan them money. They have bad credit.

But I have noticed that they also share another significant characteristic---they are always talking about their luck which is, of course, bad luck in their minds. Their lot in life is caused by bad luck.

I have tried to figure out what role luck has had in my life and the lives of other people I know who have successful lives, whether modest or substantial. About the only example I can come up with is the coffee machine I won by placing an on-line order for coffee. I guess I have to credit my successes to hard work, persistence, education, determination and all those other attributes that earn you a pat on the head from teachers and parents.

Thank goodness I didn't wait for luck. One coffee machine wouldn't pay for a home, a car, insurance and peace of mind.

So back to the aforementioned couples. Has luck caused their problems? Or is that just an excuse?

Monday, June 29, 2009

World's Ugliest Dogs.........Latest Contest

Two latest contenders for the world's ugliest dog title are shown above. On the left is Miss Ellie, a 15-year-old blind Chinese Hairless Crested who won a place in the pedigree category. On the right is Pabst, a boxer mix, 4-years-old, and winner of the annual contest.

Sunday, June 28, 2009

Tough Times

This week has been a tough one for us. A close friend died of injuries suffered in an auto accident. Another close friend lost both feet due to complications from diabetes and continues to fight for his life. Both are long-time friends and words are inadequate to describe losses such as these.

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

My Honey Locust is No Honey

I love poetry and I love trees. And until I lived under a giant honey locust tree, I believed Joyce Kilmer's declaration that "I think that I shall never see a poem as lovely as a tree." Oh, I grant you that on one level, our honey locust is beautiful. Its canopy of green leaves shelters us from the sun and acts as a landing site for the birds contemplating a visit to our feeders.

But three times a year, this tree produces ugly droppings that I abhor! We are just finishing the first offering of ugly little fuzzy things that stick to man-made surfaces like glue. When I finally clean that mess up, round two showers twig-like creations all over the place. By then it is nearly time for the tiny little leaves to fall from the tree. These leaves have the ability to work their way into places that only smoke can go.

I know that Kilmer was right when he said "Poems are made by fools like me, but only God can make a tree." But why did He have to make such a messy one, and park it next to me?

(By the way, ignore the date on the photo. You are not having a Rip Van Winkle moment. The leprechauns were playing with my camera. I actually took the picture tonight.)

Monday, June 22, 2009

The Swine Flew

It looks like the animal revolution is widening and it's not just cows who are severing their ties to homo sapiens. Early today, a tractor-trailer filled with pigs overturned on a major highway near Little Rock, Arkansas. Some of the swine remained in the truck but others took advantage of the situation and left. Apparently, they hogged the road so much that commuters had to detour. The State Troopers tried to round up the escapees and that was no small job because the swine could weigh as much as 800 pounds each.

Saturday, June 20, 2009

Bovine Revolution and Ogden Nash

I'm telling you, folks, that there is a bovine revolution underway. Remember the story of the cow escaping from a NYC slaughterhouse? (See my blog post dated 5/7/o9.) Now AP is reporting on two cows who left a Massachusetts farm and ran off to New Hampshire. As a former resident of Massachussets, I can tell you the human reasons for leaving Massachusetts for New Hampshire: lower taxes and cheaper booze.
But I'm getting off-track. With cattle escaping all over the place, I propose that Cattle Roundup 101 and Rope Handling 101 be added to the training of public safety officials. This revolution is only going to get worse.....
Ogden Nash addressed the basic information about cows. I wonder what he would say about all of these escapees. Anyway, here is Ogden:
A cow is of the bovine ilk,
One end is moo, the other milk.

Thursday, May 21, 2009

World's Smallest Cat

Meet Mr. Peebles, the world's smallest cat according to the Guinness Book of World Records. Mr. Peebles was rescued by a veterinarian from a barn cat life in Tazewell County, Illinois. She took him back to her clinic and Mr. Peebles has taken up residence there.
The cat weighs 3.1 pounds and is 6.1 inches tall and measures 19.2 inches from his nose to the tip of his tail.

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

Nature's Checks and Balances In Old Age

Have you ever noticed that nature seems to have a system of checks and balances? This seems especially true as we grow older.

I find it difficult to contort my body into the unnatural positions needed to shave my legs. However, since my eyesight isn't what it used to be, I rarely notice.

My hearing isn't as sharp as it used to be. Good thing. I'm less embarrassed by the odd sounds emitted from my body.

I can't walk as far as I once did. Doesn't matter. I've seen it all anyway.

We lose friends and family and no longer need the time spent with them. This gives us time to concentrate on our own frailties.

I finally recognise and accept my character flaws. But it's okay. I can blame them on old age.

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

Surviving the Great Depression Per Ron Gibbs

When I knew Ron Gibbs, we were both working for Scantom's in Rochester. Scrantom's was an old established business in Rochester. Ron was working there during the Great Depression. Both Ron and Mr. Brauer, the owner, liked to tell that Scrantom's survived the depression by Ron's ability to repair fountain pens.

Unfortunately, Scrantom's could not survive Office Depot and Staples.

Early Basketball: Another Ron Gibbs Story

Ron Gibbs, a co-worker and friend, was born around the turn of the last century. He grew up in Andover, a community near the one where I grew up. He played on one of the first basketball teams in the area. They used an actual basket like the one pictured on the right. When they went to an away game, the players rode in the back of a delivery truck, probably like the one pictured above. Because basketball was a winter game, Ron said they used a little coal heater in the truck to keep warm.

Can you envision Michael Jordan in those conditions?

A Ron Gibbs Story

Many years ago, I worked with a great gentleman named Ron Gibbs. Ron was a country boy who had taken a job in the "big city" of Rochester, NY sometime in the 1920s. He got a job downtown and took the trolley to work. The first morning as they approached the street where he needed to get off, the conductor called out "Gibbs". Ron said that he was both amazed and impressed that the conductor knew his name and where he was to get out. It was only a few days later that he realized that the street was named Gibbs.

Saturday, May 09, 2009

A Little Ogden Nash

It's time for some Ogden Nash and I've tried to select something that is timely.

The Wasp

by Ogden Nash

The wasp and all his numerous family

I look upon as a major calamity.

He throws open his nest with prodigality,

But I distrust his waspitality.

Thursday, May 07, 2009

Slaughterhouse 0, Cow 1

Animal lovers everywhere are rejoicing over the news of a cow that escaped a slaughterhouse in New York City. It ran through through city streets, chased by mounted police who finally captured it. However, the cow clearly won because it was turned over to an animal care agency instead of going back to the slaughterhouse. Yay!
Maybe this is the beginning of a revolution by animals. They will refuse to go to be slaughtered and we will all end up as vegetarians.

Humorist Margaret Thatcher

Columnist Cal Thomas tells the story about Margaret Thatcher taking her all male cabinet out to dinner. The waiter asks what she would like to eat and she replies "I'll have the beef."
The waiter says "What about the vegetables?" and she answers "They'll have the same."

Sunday, May 03, 2009

A Love Story

With a family as large as ours, you run into a lot of love and love stories. The love story that has left the greatest impression on me is the story of my youngest uncle, Max and his wife, Elaine. I don't remember when they first married but in my early teens and until their passings, I was very impressed by their love for each other. I always thought they were like a couple of teenagers in love, even into their 50's, 60's, 70's. Unfortunately, due to their poor health, they spent their last days apart, reunited whenever family could bring them together. Uncle Max's last words to Aunt Elaine before her death were "Well, I'll meet you at the pearly gates." He did, exactly a month later.

Saturday, May 02, 2009

Threads of Life

Out of the corner of my eye, I can see a large pile of threads. The threads all vary: some are thick, some are thin, some are colorful, some are dull, some are long, some are short. I sense that each thread is a part of my life and that they need to be woven together. But I hesitate to do anything. Will the tapestry of my life be beautiful or ugly?

Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Say What You Mean

When John Gray's book "Men Are from Mars, Women Are from Venus" was first published, the title was greeted with amusement. However, the contents are now generally considered conventional wisdom.

One of his premises was the difference in communications between women and men. A pair of our friends demonstrate the interpretations perfectly. Mister (the names have been changed to protect the innocent) has a habit of collecting things. One of things he acquired was a dump truck that he parked in the driveway for months. Missus hated the sight of that eyesore in her driveway. One morning, on her way out the door, she growled to Mister, "When I get home tonight, I don't want to see that truck!"

When she got home that night, she didn't see the truck. Instead, she saw the huge tarp covering the truck.............

Friday, April 24, 2009

Identifying a Liar

While surfing the WebMD site, I happened upon a topic that I didn't expect to find there. Heather Hatfield wrote an article entitled "10 Ways to Catch a Liar". She assembled information from experts to come up with a list of ten telltale signs that a person is lying.

  1. Inconsistencies

  2. Ask the unexpected

  3. Gauge against a baseline

  4. Look for insincere emotions

  5. Pay attention to gut reactions

  6. Watch for microexpressions

  7. Look for contradictions

  8. A sense of unease

  9. Too much detail

  10. Don't ignore the truth

She adds an extra tip: Be trusting

In general we have a choice about which stance we take in life," says Ekman (Paul Ekman, an expert in lie detection). "It we take a suspicious stance life is not going to be too pleasant, but we won't get misled very often. If we take a trusting stance, life is going to be a lot more pleasant but sometimes we are going to be taken in. As a parent or a friend, you're much better off being trusting rather than looking for lies all the time.

Back on 8/31/05 I had a post entitled "How to Recognize a Liar". I also quoted Dr. Ekman.

Monday, April 20, 2009

Curious Court Case

Here's an interesting story off the AP wires:

WASHINGTON – The Supreme Court has turned away a challenge from a death row inmate in Texas who claimed his constitutional rights were violated by jurors who consulted a Bible during deliberations.

Jurors reviewed a biblical passage relating that a murderer who used an iron object to kill "shall surely be put to death." They were deciding whether to impose a death sentence on Khristian Oliver for fatally shooting and bludgeoning his victim with the barrel of a gun.
The court previously has said that jurors should base their verdicts only on evidence presented in the courtroom.
But state and federal courts upheld Oliver's sentence, despite testimony that some jurors consulted the passage that described a killing similar to the one Oliver committed.
The case is Oliver v. Quarterman, 08-833.

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

My Robin Returns

When I glanced out the back door a few days ago, I saw a nice fat robin pulling out worms. I told my husband "My robin is back!" For the last few years, there is often a robin in the same area of the yard. I assume it is the same robin. But then I wondered "Could that really be? How long do robins live?"

A quick internet seach told me two things: 1) I wasn't the only one who had wondered that and 2) it (robin lifespan) varies. Basically, if a robin makes it past the first year, which is hard to do, it will probably live for five or six years. So "my robin" may be the same robin who has lived near us the last few years.

For a quick and fascinating look at information about robins, go to

Thoughts About Penicillin

To help me fight my second bout with bronchitis this year, the doctor prescribed a form of penicillin. My husband remarked about how inexpensive it now was (56 cents for 20 capsules) and that set off some memories I have of childhood encounters with penicillin.

Back in those days, as the scribes would say, penicillin was administered directly by our physician, in the form of injections. It was a really big deal if you had to have "a shot of penicillin." If you had to return to the doctor in a few days for a second "shot", that meant you were practically at death's door. Thankfully, perceptions have changed. It looks like recovery is possible now for only 56 cents.

Sunday, April 12, 2009

Grim Ironies

Life has a way of flinging grim ironies at us. I've seen two in the news recently. One headline read "Two Die in Fiery Crash." The location? Endwell, NY. Or how about the story of the woman just arrested for killing a child? She lived with her grandfather who is a pastor. His name? Lawless.

Sunday, March 22, 2009

The World's Cheapest Car

Tomorrow is a big day for auto aficionados because it launches the sale of the Tata Nano in India. The Nano is a five person car designed for city driving. India has a growing middle class and it is hoped that the Nano will appeal and sell to that market.
It appeals to me because it has a price tag of $2000 US dollars. Of course, I would have to give up one of my windshield wipers, air conditioning, the radio and power steering in a basic model.
To get more information on the "Peoples Car" go to their website at

Friday, January 09, 2009

A Pet Peeve

My mother told me about one of her pet peeves and it struck me as being unusual. You know that membane between the egg white and the egg yolk. When the egg is boiled too long, according to my mother, that membrane turns a greenish-gray and that really bugged her. Strange, huh?

Thursday, January 08, 2009

Tunnel Vision Causes Hearing Loss

Have you ever noticed that people with tunnel vision (not the physical condition but the mental one) also cannot hear (not the physical condition but the mental one)?

To get rid of some of these parentheses, let me give you some definitions. When I refer to "tunnel vision", I am referring to the state of an individual who has one point of view and all information that individual receives is filtered through that single viewpoint on any issue. Period. End of discussion. Even if there are other viewpoints, it does not matter for the tunnel vision person is always right. Period. End of discussion.

It is this attitude that causes me to conclude that tunnel vision is closely tied to a hearing loss. Oh, the ears are working just fine but the tunnel-visioned individual has no need for them. He already has all the information he needs. Let's not cloud the issue with someone else's thinking.

I started thinking about this connection in regards to the emails I receive with some anonymous person's rants about whatever. One of the latest is a letter from a grandfather to his granddaughter who made the serious crime of voting for Barack Obama. Gramps carefully explains to her that her vote will raise taxes, cause loss of jobs, gifts, food, housing, tires, etc. Gramps goes on to imply that anyone who voted for Obama, did so only to be able to get welfare, etc.


And why didn't Gramps mention this? Because his tunnel vision prevented him from seeing it. Apparently, his filter doesn't always let facts through. I call people like Gramps DEAFS (Don't Even Ask For Sensibility).

Now my next question is: What is the connection between tunnel vision, hearing loss and intelligence? Umm.....

Thursday, January 01, 2009

I Resolve............

Well, it's the time of year when many people make New Year's Resolutions. I used to until I realized that I was setting myself up for failure.

If I were going to make a resolution, I suppose it would be to improve on my ability to see people as they really are and not some idealized perception that exists only in my mind. My husband has always said that I expect too much from people. It's true and it's because I have given them hefty qualities that don't even exist.

I remember years ago when a friend and I were following an RV from out of state. At each intersection, the driver hesitated longer than my friend thought they should do. She ranted about the social level of people who drove RVs. Another time she asked me if I thought she should continue a friendship with a certain couple. Her concern was that the husband worked for a fast food chain. At the time, I dismissed these incidents (and similar ones) by thinking that she was having a bad day, or that she was in pain, or that I misinterpreted what she said, etc., etc., etc. It took me years to accept the fact that she was a SNOB of the highest degree. Until I faced reality, I mourned the loss of that friendship and assumed that I was solely to blame for the loss. That was because I perceived her to be a kind, understanding, giving person when in reality she pulled those qualities out only when they would benefit her in some way.

I don't mean to blame her and people like her for the pain they cause. They are just being themselves---I am the one who lacks the ability to see who they are and accept them as they are. Over the years, I have become very cautious (oh, all right...cynical) about putting the friendship tag on people I meet.

I don't get hurt as much but I liked the world a whole lot better when I could view it through rose-colored glasses.