Friday, November 30, 2012

And All We Needed Was A Unicorn

Two friends, feeling confined and restless, see the opportunity for a little fun and fresh air. So they take it. Nothing out of the ordinary, it happens every day. Just not quite like this.

This week, in Staten Island NY, Casper the pony, whispered a little something into his friend Rotzie the zebra's ear. Something along the lines of "Let's go have some fun, follow me." It seems the animals, part of a petting zoo, were able to hit the road when their caretaker left the pen gate open. Casper, not unfamiliar with going on the lam after two prior breakouts, led the way closely followed by his partner-in-crime.

I love how the guy recording this is making sounds to call them over to him, while never missing a beat with the filming. Not shown in this video were the two animal keepers running down the street after them, wearing jumpsuits and trying to lasso them. A story with a happy ending, the animals were taken into protective custody and are being relocated through the witness protection program, to a new home somewhere in Jersey. It's where all captured criminals eventually end up.

Best story of the week.
All that was missing was a unicorn.
Or eight tiny reindeer.


Wednesday, November 28, 2012

An App For An Ad: Is It A Lot To Ask?

I feel like I haven't been myself lately. Too warm, caring...nice. I do not wear nice very well. It is time to start bitching about things again.

So you know what has been getting me more and more pissed off...internet ads. Like on youtube, or if you click on an online newspaper...bam, there they are. Now, I fully understand the idea behind these increasingly annoying mini-documentaries, but lately they are becoming longer and more difficult to escape.

They have decided that maybe we shouldn't have the option of skipping this ad in 5,4,3,2,1 seconds. Some ads no longer give you that option. It's 30 seconds of crap...30 seconds. On the internet that's like combining dog years and light years. And, how about the ads which take over the entire screen, just as the clip you want to see is about to begin. Now they have flashing ads which make you want to smash the screen, along with ads that push in from the sides, bottom ads and the worst ones are where they emit a sound from another window and you have to minimize everything else to find where these incredibly irritating voices are coming from.

Ads are becoming more and more prevalent, and they're not ever gonna go away. My question is...where are the geeks in all of this? Why haven't they come up with a way to stop these insidious, non-stop commercials? Some type of App to cut them off as soon as they start. We need this. I would pay for this.

You know of course where all of this is heading... premium internet use. Pay more money for non-commercial web browsing. It's already happening on some of the music streaming sites. Whether it becomes a viable option is anyone's guess right now. That's why we need an App.

I would pay for this. Not much, but a couple of bucks, at least.

You can skip this blog in 3,2,1...


Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Giving Tuesday: Let It Begin With You

In the aftermath of Hurricane Sandy, one of my posts dealt with helping out the community. Besides the immediate need for donations, I wrote of the continued support for charitable agencies faced with overwhelming obstacles this year. Well, it's time to get serious.

Today is Giving Tuesday.

GivingTuesday is a campaign to create a national day of giving at the start of the annual holiday season. It celebrates and encourages charitable activities that support nonprofit organizations.

While a national campaign to help those in need is a wonderful thing, we can all find ways to help out our own communities. For the past two years I've promoted an easy way to do this.

"Feed Others, Then Yourself"

As you send out invitations to your corporate holiday party, include one line:
Please bring non-perishable food items for donation to a local food pantry.

Simple. If your company is big, talk to Human Resources or whomever is in charge of the event. Send an email, send a letter, get it done. Then, take it a step beyond the company party. Teach your children the power of individual action by asking friends and relatives visiting your home, to bring a donation.

If you own a small business in town, put a sign in your window saying you are accepting donations for a food bank. Encourage your childs school to hold a food drive. It doesn't take much to get the ball rolling.

If the idea of lugging a box full of dry goods doesn't appeal to you, consider collecting hats, gloves, socks and scarves for those who face a cold winter. When the hurricane hit on the east coast, so many families left their homes with just the clothes on their backs, and winter is almost here. Warm clothes should not be a luxury. Collect toys; far too many children won't be having anything close to a real Christmas this year.

Today is the day it all begins. Please forward this post to as many people as you can. Check out the Giving Tuesday website for other ways to help, or think of one on your own.

Just do something. 

Saturday, November 24, 2012

A Weekend Wake Up

Woke up at five this morning, not unusual, although since tonight might be a late one, I had hoped to get at least another hour of sleep. Walked downstairs to turn on the heat in the sunroom, my favorite room in the house. It faces northeast, so the morning sun finds it quickly, but with three walls of windows, the night chill is slow to leave.

Checking the outside temp, mid 20's does not make me happy, especially since the past two days have been in the 60's. And the dog just picked up her leash and is following me around. She's in a hurry. Me? Not so much. Too bad this is a battle she always wins.

She's getting old. We've had her for over seven years and the shelter thought she was around three when she moved in, to help us manage our lives. There's gray hair on her chin, and her body is beginning to look like old dogs bodies tend to look. Thinner, hips more prominent. She has always been a good dog, a little off sometimes, but aren't we all?

As the sun barely lit the road, we walked up the hill...east, toward the sunrise. It seems the new neighbors have moved into the house closest to ours. Guess we will be meeting them today. The dog knows the route. Up at the lake, our walks go one of two directions, so depending if I take a left or right, she knows where we will be headed.

Keeping my head down, bracing against the 25 mph gusts, I wasn't as aware of my surroundings as usual, until a loud noise got my attention. A buck chasing a doe at full speed, less than ten feet in front of us. I could feel the ground shake from the force of their hooves as they barely missed us. Any closer would not have been good, not at all. I think the dog was as stunned as I was because she didn't bark or lunge toward the deer. My blood was pumping so hard, well, I was no longer thinking about the cold.

The sun is up now, the wind has died down. A cup of tea and a little morning writing. Soon household chores will take up most of the day, but the promise of a night of live music, makes it all worthwhile.

Maybe another cup of tea before the day really begins.

Love weekends.


Tuesday, November 20, 2012

Thanksgiving Preparation: Make a List...or Not

Do you guys realize this Thursday is Thanksgiving?  oops, my bad. oh yeah and I'm cooking too. shit.

It would seem that I am not quite as prepared for this holiday as one might hope. While I may not be in the state of readiness I would like, I've done it enough times to think it will come out ok. After all, it's just family, they are well aware I am not perfect and are only to happy to point it out.

I have the bird, some sides, a little of this and one or two of that...just not the whole package. And I haven't made a list. And my brain is another year older and a lot more airy than it was a year ago, when I did have a list.

Blame it on the hurricane.

Normally we have Thanksgiving in the Poconos. Whoever shows, shows. They stay overnight, a couple of days or the whole weekend. A lot of work, but fun. This year the hurricane meant we lost power up there, so we missed a weekend, plus we knew we weren't going up this past weekend. Which meant we lost a lot of prep time to get the house ready for the influx. Instead of stressing and trying to get everything done in too short a time period, we punted. Decided to have the dinner in Jersey instead. Cook at our house, eat next door at my Mom's. No overnight guests. No thirty-five loads of laundry. No cleaning before and after. Just cooking.

Piece of cake.

I think I remembered to bring home from the Poconos the essentials: mega roasting pan, cheesecloth, assorted spices and items I only use on Thanksgiving. I'll find out sometime between Wednesday night and Thursday afternoon whether in fact, I did. Tomorrow, I'll be at the specialty market first thing in the morning to pick up the ground sausage meat with sage, which makes the stuffing so damn good, and all the vegetables I need. Having a list would be a good idea, but for some reason, I just haven't been able to write one.

This is not the best way to get ready for a holiday dinner, of that I am fully aware. But this is what it is. We will cook, we will serve, we will eat. And with this year there being so many who have so little, we will be thankful.

And stuffed. Can't wait.
Wish I made a list.



Monday, November 19, 2012

A Night of Music, Balls and Reflection

Saturday night, we took a drive into Manhattan to hear a singer I had interviewed perform at a small club downtown. The plan was to grab a bite to eat at The Meatball Shop and head over to the venue, which conveniently was only a couple of blocks away. The Meatball Shop has been in the news and all over the social media sites lately, because of the tireless work they have been doing for victims of Hurricane Sandy.

As soon as the need was uncovered, the restaurant set up a daily run to the Rockaways in Queens, to provide hot meals. They also began to collect blankets at their three restaurants. In return for a blanket to keep someone warm, the restaurant would give you an order of four meatballs. Let's just say, they've collected a lot of blankets. As I wanted to try out the restaurant, what better time would there be?

I packed up a handmade afghan my mother had crocheted and we left Jersey to begin the evening. Well, sometimes plans don't always work the way you hoped. Traffic. Not getting into the city, but the drive cross and down town took way longer than it should. Finding a parking spot only a block away from the club was sweet, but it was a little too late to grab some eats.

Outside the venue, I ran into Antje the singer, and we walked into the club together. The show was wonderful, a thoroughly enjoyable performance. At the end of the show, we had a conversation with a man who was there to see another act. He told of his experience with the storm. His beach house was gone, washed away. As we offered solace, he shrugged and said "It was a beach house, others lost their real homes. I have nothing to complain about." He also told us in the past week, he had been hit by a car while riding his bike. Not a good few weeks in his life, that's for sure. But he was resigned to what had happened, and had begun to move on.

While some of the affected areas are making strides, we can't forget even more of the coastal towns are still devastated, and will be for a very long time. What amazes me, is the resilience and acceptance of those living under conditions they could not have imagined a month ago.

Just something to think about as we sit down this Thursday for a feast, surrounded by family and friends.

By the way, we did get to the Meatball Shop after the show. One donated blanket, four delicious meatballs.

I hope the blanket keeps someone warm this Thanksgiving.


Saturday, November 17, 2012


I'm not in a good mood.

Actually, it's more than a mood. I am not in a good place. It comes and goes, and though band-aids do cover up the wounds, there are always reminders left behind. Emotionally this has been a hard year, my father's illness and death topping the list.

It's also been a year of new adventures. Sometimes you can learn a lot about yourself as you jump into unknown waters. Getting older makes taking those leaps a little more difficult, but much more rewarding. Let's just say I have learned a lot about myself. Some things I like, some I don't.

We are now in the middle of November, getting close to the holidays. The time of the year for a life retrospective. The time of the year to look ahead and decide which adventures are worth pursuing and which ones have become obsolete.

As for the present, a night out in the City tonight. A night of music. Nothing else rights my world more than listening to live music. So look for a decidedly lighter tone in tomorrow's blog.

And maybe a walk in the sunshine today, always a good way to blow out the dark spaces...

and breathe.


Friday, November 16, 2012

It's Over, She Said with a Twinkie in Her Eye

Hostess is shutting off the ovens...for good. sigh.

Growing up on the East Coast, my life was greatly enhanced (as was my waistline), by the big three cake bakeries: TastyKake, Drake's and Hostess. They packaged scrumptious, ok maybe not, but when you're a kid, those taste buds have not fully formed, single serve cupcakes and such. Each had a variety or two which were favorites, but TastyKake was my #1, followed by Drake's (who doesn't love a Yodel?) and Hostess.

Of course Hostess was famous for the indestructible, life-force known as the Twinkie. meh. Not high on my list. Given the choice, I would eat nothing before I would eat a Twinkie. However give me a Susie Q, and I can get happy real fast. Always loved them cold, so the cream filling gets semi-hard and you can actually feel the fats form cholesterol bubbles as you swallowed. Of course, they were even better before they took out the trans fats...what wasn't. But I digress.

Now as much of a chocolate freak as I am, I was not a fan of the Hostess chocolate cupcakes. Drake's Ring Dings and the TastyKake buttercream or full-chocolate versions were so much tastier. I did however, love the orange cupcakes. The icing is a color not found in nature. And as with all Hostess baked goods, you need to have a degree in chemistry to truly understand what you are eating. But who the hell's cupcakes.

But in the midst of my sadness over losing my desserts, there is also the loss of Wonder bread. A white bread so artificial, ducks have been known to explode after consumption of a slice or two. Again, who cares, it made the best grilled cheese sandwiches. Now, I'll need to use grown-up bread. Life can be cruel.

In the end, who really knows if it was the economy, unions or competition which forced the closing of the Hostess plant. It will soon be gone.

Of course if you stock up now, you can still be eating Twinkies into the next millennium.

I bet Shop Rite is gonna be busy today.


Monday, November 12, 2012

Sniglisms: Part 2

So it sure has been an eventful week. Some of us are still bouncing back from the hurricane, and we are all recuperating from the election. Whether your chosen candidate won or lost, chances are you are dealing better with the aftermath than Eric Hartsburg.

Hartsburg is a pro-wrestler from Indiana who, for a reason I cannot imagine, decided to auction off space on his face. As luck would have it, the winning bid required him to get a Romney-Ryan logo tattoo. A Romney supporter, he didn't have a problem with the tattoo before the election. After...well, he seems resigned to be a supporter for life. Wonder how his wife feels about it. He didn't tell her about the tattoo until an hour before he got it. And you wonder where all the great guys have gone.

In other news, they held the World Pole Dancing Championships this past weekend in Switzerland. Pole Dancing Championships. Did you ever? While the Chinese, with their circus experience in pole dancing, were expected to top the competition, it was not to be. Instead it was the Russian and Ukraine women who were the acrobatic wonders of the contest. Now I don't think they are famous for their circus pole dancing, perhaps they honed their pole dancing skills some other way. Could be all that glitter does bring gold. 

Sunday, November 11, 2012

Saying Thanks on Veterans Day

November 11, Veterans Day.

Today we take the time to say thank you. Time of war or time of peace, doesn't matter; the sacrifice of  our Veterans and their families cannot be overstated. Life, blood, time...these are the things given freely by our servicemen and women. The lucky ones have only given their time.

Much has changed since servicemen returning from the Vietnam War were harassed and spit on. Most of those men were drafted into service, most did not agree with the reasoning behind the war. But the country so thirsted for peace, anything or anyone linked to the war was looked upon with contempt.

Thankfully, our returning Vets today are treated with the respect and honor they deserve. The price they pay however, has never been higher. Long deployments, one after another, take their toll on the mental, physical and emotional being of these soldiers. And the families they leave behind, go through their own kind of hell.

As you go about your day, take a minute or two and think of the men and women who have served our country. Think of all you take for granted everyday: a normal life, a life of safety, a life of freedom. Think of all they have sacrificed, the important moments they have missed, the memories they wish they could forget.

Think of these things and say Thanks.


Friday, November 9, 2012

Black Friday: Blurring the Holiday and the Holiday Sale Line

Well it's November, so there is no escaping the onslaught of holiday, take your pick: ads, stories, displays, sales, music. And yes, every year they appear earlier in the year. But this year the unofficial start of the season, Black Friday, starts barely after our Thanksgiving indigestion has kicked in.

Yes, this year Walmart and Kmart have announced their stores will open for the Black Friday sales at 8 pm on Thanksgiving night. I can see men all across the USA pumping their fists in the air. With one fell swoop, the retail giants have made ardent fans of millions of men in this country. Why? One

I firmly believe many households will be sitting down for the traditional meal just a little earlier this year. Shovel the food down, clean up the mess and shuffle off to the discount chain of your choice. Oh yes, thousands of wives, girlfriends and daughters will be getting antsy to head out, leaving behind thousands of fathers, sons and boyfriends lying in various states of bloat...alone with football. And the couch.


I will not be participating in the shopping excursion. I, myself hope to be lying on the couch in a state of bloat watching football. Ok, I won't. I'll be on the computer, but the game will be on in the background. My cooking and cleanup completed, a little holiday buzz going and it's time to vegetate.

And give thanks.
And nap.


Wednesday, November 7, 2012

Looking at Life: Both Sides Now


The way you look at most things in life depends on which side of the fence you sit. This morning, in a five minute time span, I watched as both sides of an issue unfolded.

On my way back from a doctor's appointment, I stopped in to buy some fresh baked bread. Though I live in a smallish town, we are lucky enough to have three different spots where I can shop for breads right out of the oven. The aroma of the bread hit me at the same time as I began to hear the conversation between a customer and the woman behind the counter.

I don't know how much of the conversation I missed, but the man evidently was not thrilled with the outcome of the election. Fine; someone wins, someone loses. But the problem he had was mainly about the US slowly pulling out of all the wars. "We need to be in a conflict," he said. "It gives people work."

That logic always brings me back to an old Jefferson Airplane song. I can't remember off the top of my head which song it is, only the line which has stayed with me since the time of the Vietnam War.

"War's good business, so give your son."

Which brings me back to the bakery. The man left the store and the woman who was probably in her mid-30's, looked at me. In her eyes I could see...anger, disbelief, fear; I wasn't sure. Then she said "People have a right to say whatever they want, but my husband has had four tours in Iraq, and I just want him home, alive."

She then proceeded to tell me how over the sixteen years of their marriage, he has been home with the family for about four of them. He is now stationed in South Korea and is looking at possible deployment in Afghanistan after that tour is over. When he is home, his mind is troubled with thoughts of friends killed or badly injured. How he spends nights looking at their pictures online, reliving the nightmares he has witnessed.

She said these things without anger, regret or complaint. It was her life, her choice. The sadness in her eyes was not for herself, her husband or her family. Her sadness was caused by a man, one of many no doubt, who felt there was no downside to armed conflict. As long as it was "good" for the country, personal struggle or loss, while inconsequential.

I hardly knew what to say to her. I wanted to throw my arms around her in a big hug. As I walked out the door, I said something I never say. "Good bless your family." They were the only words that felt appropriate.

I only hope He does.

Post-Election Dejection

Don't know about you, but I'm pretty much done with politics for a while.

Two years of non-stop campaigning, billions of dollars spent, so much time Congress wasted doing everything else but the People's business.

But...just one last little comment.

Apparently Jersey was the reason Romney lost the race. Heard on one of the Fox affiliates this morning that Governor Christie's ringing endorsement of Obama's handling of the hurricane relief effort, caused a tidal surge (sorry, but had to use that one) of support for the president. Governor Christie...for all the good this man has been trying to do, unfortunately to most of the country, is nothing more than a series of fat jokes.

AND, he's from Jersey. Since when do we get respect...for anything? Today, we get the nod for re-electing the President of the United States? Bull.

Whatever. It's all over. In the end, the Democrats still control the Senate, the Republicans still control the House, and Obama still controls the Country. As Yogi Berra said, "It's Deja Vu all over again."

Now what do we do about Donald Trump?


Tuesday, November 6, 2012

A President: This Is What I Want

I want a president who...

Has actually had a real life. Someone who has worked at a crappy job and realized he wanted something better.

Admits that he made mistakes in judgement as he grew up. How else do you learn? So you smoked pot in college, ha, who hasn't? Somehow I don't think he'll be lighting up in the Lincoln bedroom. Does any of the other stuff really matter at this point?

Swears when he gets pissed off. I believe in being calm under fire, but I also believe if heads need to roll, I want it done with passion.

Has a drink now and then. While I don't want a fall down drunk, I do want someone who understands how to deal with having a drink or three. If I ever meet the president, I want to be able to offer to buy him a beer. It's just a social thing.

While I truly don't give a shit what religion you are, I do not want a president whose view of the world is based on what his religion tells him it was 100, 1000 or many thousands of years ago. This, I believe is the real separation of church and state. If you are being sworn in, leave your prayer book at the door as you walk into the Oval Office.

Looks across the aisle, takes a deep breath and makes the first step to the middle.

Realizes he works for us...the people. This means we are what should matter in your plan for the country, not paying back the political favors to the big corporations.

This is what I want. Am I living in a fantasyland? Yes...her name is America.



Sunday, November 4, 2012

The New York City Marathon: Facts Over Fiction

As Mayor Bloomberg continues to pout over the cancellation of the New York City Marathon, there seems to be a revisionist history of sorts concerning the actual reasons why it was called off.

In a letter addressed to all 47,000 entrants into the race, the New York Road Runners Club, headed by their president and CEO Mary Wittenberg, stated her position as to the cancellation.

"It became increasingly apparent that the people of our area were still struggling to recover"

That much is true.

"That struggle, fueled by the resulting extensive and growing media coverage antagonistic to the marathon and its participants, created conditions that raised concerns for the safety of both those working to produce the event and its participants."

Well, liar,liar pants on fire...and all that.

Basically she is saying it was all the media's fault, and if they ran the race, the residents of NYC would attack the runners and race officials right there out in the street. Give me a damn break.

As someone who watched with fascination, as the growing rumble on Twitter became a wasn't the media that shut down the race. It was the people. The idea of busing 47K people to the starting point in Staten Island was the initial problem. A mile or so away from where they are still doing a house-to-house search for the missing, (never mind that there are areas where houses no longer exist) they planned to bring in all the supplies needed to kick off the race. Port-o-Sans, food, water, first aid stations, police, etc. Precisely all the things people on the other side of town desperately need...and still do not have.

Then there was the media tent in Central Park. Powered by generators large enough to each fire up over 100 homes, there they sat, ready to keep the media warm and charged. Although I personally would have loved to have seen the overhead shot as the TV helicopter panned from the celebration at the starting point to the utter devastation which would have been in camera view, it was idiocy to think running the race was anything other than a bad idea.

As for the safety of the runners and the crews...absurd. New Yorkers have a whole lot more on their minds. The idea of residents seeking vengeance is not only absurd, but insulting to all who live there. Mary Wittenberg should know better and be ashamed of herself.

In the end, it was cancelled because it should not have been run. Period. Thankfully, the transparent motive of lots of cash, was finally trumped by human decency.

Because when you listen to what the people are saying, that's what you get.


Friday, November 2, 2012

Sandy: Time For Action

"I don't know where to go, I don't know what to do."

Photo: 6ABC Action News
Tears filled my eyes as I watched a woman who had lost everything say those words, as she was wrapped in a warm embrace by Governor Chris Christie. She is one of  thousands whose life has been forever changed by the wrath of Hurricane Sandy. And yet, she is still lucky...she survived.

Days after the storm has passed, most of the country is getting back to business as usual. For the East Coast,   things could not be farther from the truth. It is time however, to do what comes naturally to most of us in New Jersey...get up in someone's face. Or in this case something's.

The Jersey shore is on life support. I'm not talking about the reality crap which passes for entertainment. That is not the Jersey shore. It was, and it will be again, one of the strongest memories many of us have of our childhood, adolescence and even adulthood when the family circle of life was repeated. For every bar or club, there were a hundred homes with families who worked hard to be able to breathe in the salt air. It is a place of memories. It is a place called home.

Now the shore wasn't the only place impacted by the storm. Northwest NJ has been devastated by the number of trees downed by the storm. As I drove through that area on Wednesday, it was mind-boggling to think of the work utility crews have ahead of them. In New York City, the Hudson river poured into Manhattan, three blocks in. Fires ravaged The Rockaways in Queens. Home of so many First Responders, they watched helplessly as over 100 homes were consumed by fire, while surrounded by floodwater.

It's time to do what we as a country do best. Help.

Here's a few ways to do it. For me, the big three are always a good way to start. The Red Cross, United Way and Salvation Army. We are also into November, getting closer to the holidays. Traditionally the time of year for food drives. With all the people displaced or living without power, local shelters and food banks are taking a heavy hit. Support your local food pantry as much as you can. Organizations such as WhyHunger know how to get food to those who need it.

For the last two years, my company has combined a food drive along with our holiday party. There's plenty of time in the weeks ahead to set that up. Or if you own a local shop, set up a table or box where customers can bring in donations. And it doesn't need to be food. Hats, scarfs, gloves,'s getting cold quickly.

If we all just thought for a minute, I'm sure we could all think of some small way to help out.

Brick by brick, street by street, we will rebuild. Right now though, we just need a little help.