Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Eating Guinea Pigs and Paying Taxes

So let’s see, the last time we ended we were talking about guinea pigs.
Except I never talk about guinea pigs.  Rodents aren’t my cup of tea or cup of anything else for that matter, but one morning our trip leader, Juan de Dios, told us we were having a true Peruvian lunch at someone’s house.

guinea pigs
 Wonderful.  Peru has fabulous vegetables and fruit, fruit like papaya and mangoes, and tons of others I’ve never heard of before, so I knew it be good.  The fourteen of us and Juan sat down to eat.

“Do you want guinea pig?” the cook asked me.

No answer.  I think I was choking.

“Are you vegetarian?”

“I am now.”

But then I wondered.  Maybe I should live like Mark Twain or Tarzan, so I said I'd try it.  An entire fried guinea pig, including the burnt head, was carried to my platter.

“My God,” I said, grabbing more bread, dreaming of a grilled cheese sandwich, as the guinea pig body lay across my plate crispier than a freshly fried onion ring from Burger King.

I ate all the side dishes and kept asking everyone if they were eating their guinea pig.  Some were, some weren't.  Those that had eaten the rodents were still alive.  Should I?  Shouldn't I?  I couldn't look at my plate, and I wasted about forty minutes until it was time to go.  About to leave, I peeked at the carcass.  How could I take off and never have tasted a morsel or even a sliver?  What would that guy from Wild Kingdom do?  What was his name, Marlon Perkins?  He was probably dead, but what did he die from?

I cut a infinitesimal slice from the leg and slid it into my mouth.  A little overcooked but it resembled the flavor of… Chicken!  I shuddered, jumping up from the table to catch the bus.  How come everything tasted like hen?  And if it's all the same, why do people go looking for something new? 

But guinea pigs are so coveted in Peru that when we were invited into a farmer’s home in an old Inca village, ( see top photo) they were crawling all over the kitchen.

It was a one-room house with a floor guaranteed to never show dirt—a genuine dirt floor.  At one end was the bed for the parents (the kids sleep on the floor, see photo below) and at the other, were the guinea pigs that multiplied in the kitchen and were saved for special occasions. 

parents' bed
 I told my daughter Barbra, who’s a realtor: “You don’t have to worry about the condition of the cabinets.  There aren’t any.  Nor is there a counter, and I can’t remember seeing a fridge.  Just a few shelves and a stove."

The bathroom is in a little alcove around the side of the home with a small tub. We weren’t allowed to view it.  No master bath, half bath, Jack and Jill, or shower.

Yet I looked along the street and didn’t see anything for sale.

Peruvians in the city don’t live like this, but the average income is only $5000 a year.

By the way, citizens of this country can't stand paying property taxes, which are cheap, about a couple hundred a year.  So most don’t mail in their checks, and when the tax collector comes, they kick him out, and he goes!

Guess he agrees with them.  Nobody likes to pay taxes.  Yeah, Peru!

Friday, December 17, 2010

Kofi Annan and Lonesome George

Well, I’m baaaaack.

After a two week sojourn to Peru and Ecuador to experience Machu Picchu—the ruins of the great Inca city—and then on to the Galapagos Islands to prove evolution really exists—Sorry, Madam Palin you are wrong, wrong, wrong—we came back home a day and a half ago, exhausted but happy we went.

By the way, I apologize to those that I told that you can only visit the Galapagos once in your life.  Visit forever, as long as you stay just three months at a time.

The islands were nothing like I expected.   Of course, I never read up on them, so I traveled to the equator “cold” and found that the imagined "green" islands were covered with gray lava rock. 

Each of the 48 was born of volcanoes, and the animals developed so separately from each other, that there are eleven species of tortoises.  Scientists can look at the shell and tell which island the animal originated.

In 1972 a lone male tortoise was found on the isolated island of Pinta.  They searched everywhere for a female of his species, even asking zoos if they had taken any.   (At that time you could remove animals from the island. Today you can’t take a shell).

Lonesome George
 None could be found.

So Lonesome George, as he came to be known, was transferred to the Charles Darwin Science Station, where they house him with two females.  Turns out, he’s shown no interest because something’s wrong with his glands.

But today he’s is a legend.  The only survivor of his species, he’s probably over a hundred and fifty.

Good ol’ George.

By the way just a few months back, some guy tried to steal a lizard from the Galapagos.   He stuck it in a jar of water, but they caught him in customs and threw him in jail for five days.  Serves him right.

There’s so much to say. We were such a strange group—fourteen total (not counting our guide) a dozen American and two Canadians.

The Canadian wife was nice, or maybe she just kept her mouth shut, but her husband, I’ll call him Luci, which is part of his real name, which he hates, is anti-Semitic.   A big Anti Semite.

Kofi Annan
He worked for Kofi Annan—the Secretary General of the U.N. from 1997 to 2006, who wanted to wipe Israel off the map.

I only spoke to Luci during one endless dinner at the start of the trip when he bragged that he was head of the UN mission in Israel in 1992-94 and worked under Kofi Annan for many years.  His face lit up when I mentioned Yaser Arafat.

I said, “Arafat? Everyone hated him. The Saudis hated him. The U.S. hated him. The man stole 2 billion from his own people. They found it in Switzerland after he died.”

Luci said I wouldn't understand the Mideast unless I lived there.  Oh yeah, and then I'd love Arafat.

(You know, Luci could be short for Lucifer.  Maybe the schmuck is the devil).

I won’t go into the rest, but I avoided him the rest of the trip.  If I happened to meet him face to face (it was a small group) I glared and walked on.  I finally told another couple, and two days before the end of the trip, I told a few more.   By then Luci had also demonstrated his hatred for the U.S.

He had told everyone that we had a monarchy; we just didn’t know it yet.

Yep, there are nuts everywhere.

But there’s a lot of good people too.

I haven't mentioned Peru, and wait’ll I tell you about lunch with the guinea pigs.  Be thankful you’re eating chicken tonight

Sunday, November 28, 2010

Early Release from Theatres to TV

In the olden days, like the fifties through  the seventies, if you missed a film at the theatre, you’d have to wait a year or two until the studios released it to TV. 

That's if you don't count Gone with the Wind.
The film debuted in 1939 and was finally aired on HBO in June, 1976.   That was 37 years later, almost four decades.  Millions died in the meantime.

Today studios release a new flick in four months, and I bet everyone knows someone who hasn’t sat their fanny in a large dark room with a candy counter just steps away for many many years.

But I like the movies.  In fact, love them.

I like getting away from ringing phones, paperwork, and dryers beeping, so I’m wondering if these very early releases will be good.  I personally don't like it.  In fact I think it stinks.

But during a cable industry convention last May, Time Warner made a pitch to the studios about releasing films to TV in just 30 days.  30?  Who'd ever bother traipsing to a show?   Besides, this new luxury, if it's ever accepted, is a moneymaker, and it could cost twenty to forty bucks a pop to watch a film from your family room.

Even the concept seems insane.

A couple of years ago, the studios would’ve booted the cable companies out to Sarah Palin land, and though their profits are up 10%, thanks to 3D films, their DVD sales have slumped lower than my opinion of Lady Gaga after she modeled a dress of red meat.

The angriest folks against early release are the theatre owners.  They need the four months to make money.  If you cut their time, you cut their profits, simple as that.

And the studios, too, need time.  They maximize revenues by staggering the months between the dates the film is released to theatres and when it’s released to DVD and TV.

ticket taker
So why are they considering early release?  Because DVD sales are slow, and they could use a wallop of cash.

As of now, nobody's doing anything, and the studios know they'll have to jump through lots of hoops before signing the dotted line.  It might be a convenience to the consumer, but it won't come cheap.   

Yet who needs to sit home when you got neurotics like me, who can’t wait to see them the minute they open to the public?

Everyone knows the studios save their best for this time of year.  If I had to wait a month, I couldn't guess the Oscar winners until after the holidays, until after the buzz is gone.  It's like a gift with no wrapping; it's like turkey without stuffing or pumpkin pie without a hint of whipped cream. 

So as long as Gone With the Wind has had its turn, I can wait four months to view the few things I missed at multiplex. 

For the rest I'll wait in line.

Friday, November 19, 2010

Gates, Buffett Goad Friends to Give

Bill Gates
It’s nice to know that in this season of giving, billionaires are growing big hearts.

Warren Buffett
  Warren Buffet and Bill Gates have called on their very rich friends to donate half of their fortunes during their lifetimes, or after they die.

(Guess I must've miss their call that day, and my answering machine choked on the message).

But it's gratifying to learn that people are driven to wipe out diseases, overcome starvation, provide clean water, startup money for small businesses, and promote education.  As for Buffett and Gates, this flood of money stems from a series of dinners they held asking others like New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg, investor Ron Perelman, and David Rockefeller to commit to a Giving Pledge.

The pledge asks for half their assets.
While several attendees have signed it, many others have already committed their fortunes to charitable causes.

This is an incredible feat.

The basic goal is not only to give but that society will come to expect that the very wealthy will donate much of their money to the world while also creating a peer group that can offer advice on philanthropy.

“It’s really to help people get started on their own in whatever it is they want to do,” said Melinda Gates. “One of the most important things about philanthropy is that people do what they are passionate about.  They won’t do it otherwise.”

Marc Benioff, founder of Salesforce.com, a software company, has donated $100 million to a children’s hospital in San Francisco.  David Rockefeller, George Soros, and Gerry Lenfest are also among those who signed the pledge.

David Rockefeller
Rockefeller pledged to give away $1 billion at his death to charitable causes.
In 2009, Mayor Bloomberg gave $254 million to nearly 1,400 nonprofit organizations.

“I am a big believer,” he said, “in giving it all away and have always said that the best financial planning ends with bouncing the check to the undertaker.”

Michael Bloomberg
Some are giving away 70% of their wealth, a few even more.  

Because of the recession, this year marks the second year in a row that philanthropy experienced its deepest decline ever recorded, so yeah for the big guys for coming through.

We need that kind of thinking. The West can't afford to allow the third world to wither and die.  And they won't go quietly.  We must make sure they not only survive but thrive. 
Due to the recession, the need in our country is also overwhelming and even hunger is becoming a desperate situation for thousands, who never considered it a problem before.

So maybe we can all learn a little from the guys who know how to make the most.  Though times are leaner, we can look around and squeeze out just a little bit more.

Friday, November 12, 2010

Why We Spend What We DO

Economists used to think that people rationally purchased what they needed.

For heaven sakes, we all knew that’s a crock, but of course those guys didn't consider human nature-- until they ran a series of tests. 

They did, and lo and behold, the results came out showing that people were hardly rational. In fact they were wacky, shaking like a Slinky on slippery steps.  Better yet, they discovered some cool information.

Did you know that clenching our muscles can actually boost our willingness to avoid a bad transaction?

According to Gregory Karp from the Orlando Sentinel, if you’re in a store facing something tempting that you know you shouldn’t buy, firming your fists, calves, biceps, any muscle all, should help you resist.

Great news you say!  I do too.  But other researchers found that people have a limited reservoir of willpower.

That means if you resist one transaction earlier in the day, you might not be able to resist it later...

Another study discovered that “Keeping up with the Joneses fuels spending.”

Well I kind of guessed that, didn’t you?  I don't actually know anyone named Jones or anyone else that I want to copy, but someone must've influenced me. 

I know I didn't come up with tearing down wallpaper and hiring a painter all by myself.  Maybe I just saw it everywhere but the place where I lived.

Now this next one will blow your mind.  What’s the psychology of spending on ourselves vs. others?

Researchers found that people, who feel more powerful when they’re buying, spend more on themselves and less on others.

That sounds about right.   High powered people are more self-centered, but this isn't the mind blowing part.

 The next half is:                                                                

Though these high-powered people spend more on themselves, they were happier spending on others.

So powerful human beings ultimately find contentment in giving, just like Scrooge did in “The Christmas Carol.” 

Who knew Dickens already figured this out?

And ONE more thing while we're discussing consumers.        

Scientists also discovered that ovulating women buy sexier clothes during those few days of the month than at any other time.  And the sexier they became, the sexier other women, who were also ovulating, dressed around them.

It seems the entire group got so excited, they're all out hunting for tight, revealing clothes.
How’s that for a reason to shop?

Maybe that’s why Macy’s has their annual sale every weekend?
Shhh, don’t tell them.  They don’t know we figured this out.

And now that we learned that we no longer buy what we need and that selfish people are happier purchasing for others, scientists created all kinds of reasons to grab that plastic and head out the door.

Maybe the easiest way is finding a good excuse. 

I can pretend I'm one of those passengers on that nightmarish Carnival Cruise.  I just got off the boat, traveled home, showered, and devoured a hot meal. 
What I'm now clenching is that hot little refund check in my hand.

Suddenly I'm one of the Joneses, ordered to go forth in the world, bring home the goods, and make the rest of you wannabes spend.

Oh, I see you're clenching.  All of you.  But I'll be back next week.

Thursday, November 4, 2010

Old Apples and the Election

Thomas Jefferson
Thomas Jefferson planted two rows of Newtown Pippin apples at his Monticello home in Virginia. From Paris he wrote that they had nothing there to compare to it.
In 1838, Queen Victoria was presented with two barrels of them.  She liked them so much, she lifted an English export tax on the imported fruit.

The Newton Pippin thrived in Britain until after WWI when the government reinstated the import tax.  And it wasn't until after WWII in America, when the red delicious apple was introduced, that it finally eclipsed many of the historical varieties.

Newtown Pippins, Roxbury Russets, Cornish Gilliflowers, Arkansas Blacks, and Winesaps were just some of the names of the Heirloom or Heritage fruit common on American tables back in Colonial times into the twentieth century.  

Farmers planted them everywhere, growing varieties suitable to the regional conditions—the nutty flavor of the Roxbury Russet, the dense, crisp bite of the Ralls Genet, or one of the best tasting, the Esopus Spitzenberg.
But with the mass production of the1950’s, farmers discovered they could consolidate most of the orchards into Washington and New York states.  The heirlooms with their distinctive flavors became virtually extinct.

I've never tasted any of them, and now I read they’re making a comeback.  With their freckles, stripes, and other visual peculiarities--they don’t look like apples today--the old are beginning to make a comeback.
I can't wait to taste something new that's been old, just because it's been around, just because it used to be valued for its goodness alone.

People want something they can grasp and feel with its own significant texture, flavor, history, and depth--like getting past the skin of the person and discovering his or her genuine emotions, and maybe a bit of the soul. 

Sound familiar?

I guess that’s what I was trying to do with this election, get past the bull and understand why each candidate had made a commitment to run.   But the contests became so vile, so beyond party lines or even issues, that it finally boiled down to an IQ test—which of the liars could score a 100, an average result, on a standard exam.

By the end I applauded the candidate who barely tipped an 80.  I figured they could at least spell their name.    So how did Rand Paul come out on top?  I have no idea, but other thank yous are deserved.

I thank the people who defeated the witch from Delaware.  Or maybe she isn't one.  Maybe she's just a big old dope without a clue to the world around her.

And I thank the voters of Nevada who defeated Sharron Angle.  Do they have rubber rooms out West?  Better get one ready and shove a copy of the constitution inside.

At least now we can all breathe free.  The election is history, congress is still a mess, and I just discovered that I'm going to have a chance to taste some real Colonial fruit.  The question is:  How can the Colonists grow so many nourishing things, while we, with all our technology, nurture dummies and shove them in front of cameras?

Can the Republicans blame that on Obama too?

Of course.  Give ‘em time.

Friday, October 29, 2010

Election Day Can't Come Too Soon

Alan Grayson
The nonsense, the negativity, the nincompoops.

 Okay, the blasphemies, the bitches, the bums.   Where the hell is Tuesday already?  Watching the ads, I feel like a drowning sailer stuck on a sinking ship.  The water's rising, I'm choking, and there's no escape hatch in sight.

Columnist George Will claims that Alan Grayson is the worst politician in the United States.   He calls him the smarmiest, which means deceiving, untrustworthy, a man with no principles.  Not quite, but I do think Grayson's got more than a few whacko genes.

In one ad Grayson calls his opponent Daniel Webster, “Taliban Dan,” and in another accuses him of draft dodging.  Of course that's insane.  Webster didn’t commit either of those crimes, but Webster also doesn’t believe in abortion, even as a result of incest or violent crime, and that is a problem with him, or at least for me.

Grayson certainly could’ve handled the information in a clean orderly fashion.  Instead, he accused Webster as some kind of radical hysteric and even compared him unfavorably to his namesake, Daniel Webster (they’re not related), who composed the Missouri Compromise in 1850. (That allowed one free state and one slave state to enter the union, but not one without the other).

Suddenly the original Daniel Webster was a Taliban too, or something just as evil?  Is Grayson nuts?

The national media picked up his ads, and the man became a source of derision.  Too bad, because Grayson’s an economist and offers intelligent answers when asked about policy and solutions to contemporary problems.

In his own ads, Daniel Webster seems like a family man and the picture of success, but I gotta vote for Grayson when it comes to abortion.

You can’t take a woman’s choice away, even if the guy who supports it goes off at the mouth and his campaign style is something out of the Chares Manson book of political strategy.

In the long run Alan Grayson supports and saves a woman's right to choose.

Sharron Angle
Because if you’re really caught in a true-life nightmare of having the baby of a paranoid schizophrenic—like our old friend Charlie Manson—you wouldn't want Webster as a friend.

Of course that still leaves us with Sharron Angle, Christine O’Donnell, and the other Tea Party morons batting ball with the big guys.
Christine O'Donnell

Christine O’Donnell now says she’s sorry she approved the ad saying she’s not a witch.

Duh, it wasn’t a good idea?

Countrywide, the entire campaign couldn’t get crazier.   All we need next is a dumb group of burglars botching a break-in to the Watergate complex trying to play a few dirty tricks.

Who will they catch, Palin and her little band of witches?

Tune in. It’s not over till Tuesday.

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

A Couple Goodbye's: The Bling Museum and Beaver's Mother

This past Sunday the Liberace Museum in Las Vegas closed its doors.

Displaying the showman’s rare pianos, candelabras, rhinestone studded minks, sequined costumes, and thousands of other unique possessions, the keepers of the two worn and weary warehouses located a couple miles from the glittering strip padlocked its doors due to its aging fan base and poor economy.

The museum was Liberace’s dream to raise scholarship money needed for students in the performing arts.  I visited there about ten years ago and gaped at the man's possessions.  One costume weighed 200 pounds!  Outlandish! Ridiculous!  But I stared.  The place was another Liberace show.

The performer died in 1987 of AIDS.  He was 67 and wanted to give something back to a world that had been so generous to him.  Raised in dire poverty, he never forgot.  He was that kind of a man.                              

‘Course growing up, I never thought about that.  When I was a kid I couldn’t stand him.

I didn’t know about gay people back then or maybe I'd have understood.   I just knew he wasn’t cool like Frankie Avalon, Fabian, or Motown, and besides, the old ladies drooled to his music.  That was enough to get me running in the opposite direction.

Whenever he appeared on TV, I groaned and changed the channel, but not before checking out his latest outfit.  One was a mink cape with the fur along the edges cut out like piano keys!

I saw it in the museum.  Years later, it was still something to see.

To date the Liberace Foundation has raised closed to six million dollars to aid struggling performers.    Though the museum is now history, some of the entertainer's possessions will tour the U.S. to continue raising money for this cause.

If it reaches your city, you can view the wardrobe and props of a truly over-the-top entertainer who tried to make a difference.  Liberace, a man with a sparkling soul.


And goodbye to Barbara Billingsley.  Tall, thin, always impeccably dressed in a shirtwaist and double strand of pearls, she was Beaver’s and Wally’s mom, and Ward’s wife.

Barbara Billingsley
 You know I never met a real Ward until this year.  I mean, how many Wards does anybody get to know in a lifetime?

Hey, but that’s another column.
See you next week.

Monday, October 11, 2010

The Liberty Bell's Still Cracked

We just returned from a trip to Philly, hugging cousins we hadn’t seen in years and touring a few historical sites.

Considering the craziness going on today—Christine O’Donnell declaring, “I’m not a witch (honey, have you checked the mirror?) and then suggesting that evolution never existed, it was a relief to read the inspirational quotes from Franklin, Jefferson, Hancock, and Adams.

Lately, seeing what's out there, it’s hard to tell the good guys from the bad.

I loved Obama and voted for him.   Yes, he’s made mistakes, but it seems the majority’s giving up on him already.  Have people forgotten he wasn’t in office when the banks fell apart, and he didn’t start the war in Afghanistan?   Still the Republicans are ready to attack before he opens his mouth.  Come on, we're making progress.  Jobs are happening.  We got a health care bill and stem cell research.

Obama's gonna turn out to be the good guy after all.

And how about John McCain?   He used to be a national icon.  Wasn’t he the soul driven maverick fighting for the truth?  But when his senate race became tight, the war hero flipped faster than a cowardly killer surrounded by the feds, and that was after he unlocked Sarah Palin from her cage and set her free.

Maybe there's still time for redemption.

We traveled to Gettysburg and heard the many stories, saddened 147 years after the fact.  In the three days of fighting from July 1st through 3rd in 1863, there were 51,000 casualties.

51,000, and everyone was American.

Not all the casualties died.  The number also included the wounded—many of whom later succumbed to infection—and those taken prisoners of war.

But were the soldiers from the South truly evil?

Although the North made a big deal of burying their dead in individual graves while the South pushed their heroes into massive pits, several soldiers from the opposite sides got mixed into each.  And when the rains began pounding on the shallow graves, many of the swollen bodies floated above ground, and it became difficult to identify the "good" from the "bad."  

But no one had time to care because the second nightmare soon began.

Hordes of parents descended upon the town to find their missing children.  It was often an impossible task.  The battle was fought over 10 square miles, and the injured and dead were everywhere.

Every house and building in this quaint college town of 2,400 became a hospital or hotel, every pasture, a cemetery.  Residents lost their possessions, their homes, their entire livelihoods.  Overnight their farmland became hallowed ground.

Who were the good and the bad?  Parents from both sides broke down together.

On the way back, we drove through Philadelphia again and peeked at the Liberty Bell.  Still cracked, thank heaven. 

Some guys in England did a lousy job casting, and the patriots left it for the world to see.  Over time we’ve come to cherish this failure because it magnifies our imperfections and struggles—all the bad that now represents our good.

Unfortunately, it often takes years to decide which is which. 
Let's wait and give Obama a chance.

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

The Eyeglasses that will Change the World

The modern world has already enjoyed the fruits of incredible inventions from the electric light bulb, the air conditioner—thank heaven, or my hair would frizz into the nearest outlet—to the omnipotent computer.  And the technological revolution has never slowed, no matter if the banks are lending or hording reserves in their safes.

And it gets more exciting every day.

This past week the Wall Street Journal awarded prizes to 49 entries in their Technology Innovation Awards contest, and Zoom’s TruFocal eyeglasses came out a top winner.

Eyeglasses, you ask?   We already have millions in the world.   But just as the Swiss produced masses of wind-up watches, the Alps almost fell into the sea when Texas Instruments invented the battery powered time piece, and the world raced for the new ones.

These glasses too, will change everything.  The wearer can not only manually adjust the focus where he or she needs to see something close OR long distance, but can regulate for nearsightedness AND astigmatism.

Did you read that right?

Each TruFocal lens is a pair of two lenses attached to a membrane that contains a clear, silicone-based liquid.  A manual slider on the bridge of the eyeglasses adjusts the focus by changing the shape of the membrane.   Once the lenses are adjusted, the entire field of vision is in focus, the book, the TV, whatever you're looking at.  Everything you need is in one simple pair.

It does everything but windows.

 My husband needs reading glasses and has dozens planted all over the house, but whenever he's searching for a pair, they’ve suddenly disappeared.

So if he has only one, and if he can keep them on while taking a nap…

And who is the man who invented this wonder, who also created one of first word processing programs?   Steven Kurtin, a Californian, began to think about the eyes in 1990 and kept devising new creations until he mimicked the way the human eye stretches and contracts to adjust its focus and view.

Besides the convenience of owning one pair of glasses, the money this invention would save in additional lenses could buy a shelf full of purses over a lifetime.  (My imagined statistics)  And think about the amount of space saved in women’s handbags and the time needed to fiddle through to the bottom to find those damn spectacles.

Next month TruFocals will be renamed Superfocus.

Superfocus? Oh I get it. They must mean concentrating for more than a few seconds on something other than twitter or a comment on facebook.  Sounds deep and intricate.

Hey, but that’s another blog.

Monday, September 20, 2010

What the Republicans Know and Other Stuff...

Yesterday I was invited to see the House Whip--that's the second in power in the House of Representatives--Eric Cantor, a Republican from Virginia.  

He's a nice looking guy, short, with an easy smile who lives in Richmond and flew into Orlando to speak to an affluent group, mostly doctors, furious and frustrated at Obama’s health care bill.  (I don't know how I got an invitation). 
But these professionals were certain that their rights were lost, careers compromised, and future incomes diminished.

Rep. Cantor, seemingly honest and bright, was more than happy to entertain the crowd.  He said that  the health care bill will bankrupt this country and that every citizen should be able to choose their own medical professionals and health care plans.

The audience cheered and applauded wildly.

I applauded too...while I wondered.   Of course everyone should make their own choices, but did that also include the poor, the unemployed, and those who have been rejected for coverage due to pre-existing conditions?

Because ya know, the stuff Cantor suggested is the system we’ve always had, and millions have gone without insurance, or very limited coverage, which meant the public has been footing numbers with lots of zeroes to pay for Medicaid and other emergency medical expenses.

So I was waiting for Cantor’s alternative plan, some sensible solution that could counter Obama's unworkable bill and set this country straight.

But after the applause, I heard NOTHING.  Not another word about it.   I guess the cheers were enough.

'Course I wondered again if Obama's health care law or a version of it will work.   It hasn't even been set in motion.

Others asked questions, and though I wanted to, I didn’t get a chance to ask any of mine. I was going to say. “What are you going to do about those Tea Party nuts, splintering the party, going off half-assed without background, experience, or statistics to back up their views?

And these crackpots are getting dangerous.  When a long time moderate like John McCain, whom I used to trust, starts jumping through Sarah Palin’s hoops to get re-elected, I wonder what’s happened to everybody’s heads.

Looks like Humpty Dumpty fell, and nobody picking up the pieces.  They’re just sloshing through the jagged assortment, maybe studying an odd edge or two, without offering any valuable ideas.

I hope Jon Stewart’s and Stephen Colbert’s call for a million man group of moderates coming together on the Washington Mall October 30th will perk up the thinking man’s brain.

It shouldn't be that difficult.  Sarah Palin's was born without one.
Sarah Shourd
But ah, on another note.  After 410 days in captivity, I'd like to welcome Sarah Shourd home from Iran.  I hope your fiancĂ© and other friend also make it out, but I got a question to ask. There are hundreds of thousands of places to visit on earth, so why go hiking between Iran and Iraq?
Couldn’t come up with an alternative scenic route?

Until next week, take care.

Friday, September 10, 2010

Terry Jones: How Come We Didn't Kill this Nut Job

Every evening this week I’ve turned on the news and listened to this wacko declaring that he’s going to burn the Koran tomorrow, on the ninth anniversary of 9-11.

And every station’s given him the air time to spout his garbage and get Osama and his followers a chance to rile up and rally more suicide bombers and probably millions in donations.

This worked out better for bin Laden than blowing up an entire city.

And no officer of the court has issued an arrest warrant to pull this Terry Jones off the streets and into solitary confinement.

But he did break the law.

If it is against the law to shout Fire in a crowded theatre, it is also against the law to shout that you will burn the Koran, causing rioting abroad and endangering our men and women fighting overseas.

But we allowed this Jones guy, this piece of human garbage, to do just that--to create a worldwide media circus—with General Petraeus, Secretary of Defense, Robert Gates, and even the President warning that innocents would die.

So why didn’t we muzzle the creep before he got the word out, before the rioting began that placed our own men and women in danger?  Wasn't there anyone around who could superglue his jaws together?
 President Obama confirmed yesterday morning that tremendous damage has already occurred because of the man's statements.

As of today, whether Jones burns the Koran or not, is beside the point.  His words are already causing havoc abroad and could instigate another war.

Someone should’ve hung Jones last Monday—yes Labor Day would’ve been appropriate, do a little work and save the planet.

Instead, this utter failure in life--a failure who had 50 followers at the beginning of the week, but only a few today, has been allowed to use the power of the media to yell fire in a crowded theater.  He knew that the enemy would use his words as propanganda against us, endangering our troops and many loyal but beleaguered Muslims caught in the uproar.

My God, and the man's still talking!

Where's the Klan when you need them?

Friday, September 3, 2010

Cemeteries Throw Parties to Die For

Concerts, skydiving, battle reenactments, barbecues....

They’re all just another evening at the local cemetery.  In a move that has drawn sharp criticism, cemeteries all over the country are marketing new business by inviting the community to enjoy the surroundings and have a good time. “It gets [the people] into the cemetery but not in a scary way,” says William F. Griswold, Jr. superintendent of Cedar Hill Cemetery in Hartford, Conn.

According to the Wall Street Journal, Fairmount Cemetery in Denver had a night of big band music, Davis Cemetery in California planned poetry workshops, bird walks, and art shows.  Wyulka Cemetery in Nebraska schedules an annual Shakespeare festival and rents a quaint chapel for weddings.

And Green-Wood Cemetery in Brooklyn reenacts the Battle of Brooklyn every year.

One cemetery in Michigan has long invited disabled children to fish, but today the stakes are even higher.

Because more and more people are opting for cremation, the cemeteries are losing out and trying hard to regain lost ground.  (Sorry for the pun). 

This year Evergreen Memorial in Riverside, Calif. hosted its first fair with clowns and music.

Of course, not all festivities work out.  A recent sock hop in Denver bombed--not because it wasn't well planned but because the regulars were elderly and couldn’t dance very much.

But morticians are unstoppable.  Armed with the motto: “Meet us before you need us,” the programs are gaining popularity. 

Of course there are a few distractors.

“These are sacred grounds—they’re consecrated,” says Rob Visconte with the Catholic Cemetery Association, while cemetery directors, who have brought entertainment to their areas, say they’ve only received a few complaints.

And why should regular folk put up a fuss?  Who can argue against having fun?
It not only gives people a chance to have a good time, but it also offers those long term residents resting underneath a change of scenery, a little action.   Put some life back into the dead, if you will.

Hey, my father loved big band music and would've loved a live performance of “In the Mood” like they'd performed at the Fairmount Cemetery in Denver.

And clowns always made my mother laugh.

And who can pass up fishing and fairs?

“People tend to go to places they’re familiar with,” says Ken Katuin, an entrepreneur. “That’s why McDonald’s has Happy Meals.  You start out there as a kid, you have a happy memory of the place, and you keep coming back.”  Mr. Katuin looked at the other couples strolling through the graveyard. “Maybe this….is their Happy Meal.”

So take a bite and join the fun.

P.S.  Have a great holiday weekend, and if anyone has suggestions for future blogs, please let me know.  I'd love to do them!

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

That Extra Hour of Zzzzz's and TV

As the economy still stumbles along, millions remain unemployed.  How are they spending their extra time?   Getting more projects completed around the house, revving up their exercise routines, going to church, volunteering for the needy?

All sounds good but doesn't even come close.

According to the U.S. Department of Labor, most people don’t want to mess with the big stuff.   And hell, when they’re out of work, many are depressed.  They can't even bear to socialize.

University of Michigan sociologist Sarah Burgard says, “It’s really hard to walk into a bowling alley or the Elks Club, and your friend asks you, ‘Did you get a job?”

Avoid the tough questions.  Stay home, watch TV, and sleep.
According to statistics compiled by the U.S. Labor Department, the average American worked 3 hours, 11 minutes a day in 2009.

That’s 17 minutes less a day than in 2007.

It doesn’t sound like much, but when stretched across the entire population, that’s millions and millions of minutes. Which got economists to thinking: if Americans were unemployed, they would probably take jobs that they'd previously paid others to do, like cooking, cleaning, handyman work. Seems like an easy way to make a buck.

Except Americans didn’t bother.  Most just stay at the house.   

Of course there are always exceptions.

Philip Sexton of Goldsboro, N.C. used to work 56 to 67 hours a week.  Today he only puts in 40, then comes home to cut the grass, runs to church to finish extra business, and visits his 82 year old mother.

But for the rest of us, we’d rather lie around and click to The Biggest Loser.

Men sit an additional 32 minutes a day longer in front of the TV than women—three hours, forty-five minutes in total.  Women sit less because they are busy doing chores, like housework, childcare, and taking care of the elderly.

But hey, don’t women usually get the job done?               

They do.

And then they get tired and earn the nap.

Thursday, August 12, 2010

From a Pacifier to an iPod

Need a pack of gum or a hot cup of coffee? Nothing’s easier than slipping your money into a vending machine—that is if it’s stocked and the coin slot’s functional.  Sandwiches, chips, candy—snacks and food are easy and quick.

So why not use them for more?

It's not like an employee who needs medical insurance or worker's comp, and never before have people been in such a hurry or have wanted so many things.  Now.  Yesterday.

Even Macy’s has joined the bandwagon.

A few years ago the retail giant got rid of its electronics departments and converted the space to vending machines that offered cameras, cell phones, iPods, and GPS’s.

People tried it and liked it.

Today Macy’s has four hundred E-Spots. The customers can’t touch the product or try it out, but using their smart phones, they can access the internet and look up the literature, or if they already know what they want, they can receive it in an instant.

Swipe that card and it’s yours.

What an idea, I thought, remembering the old vending machines my father used to have.

That was his business, setting up and servicing candy and coffee machines in gas stations, office buildings, and small factories in and around Detroit.

Gum was a penny, candy, a nickel a bar, coffee a dime, and cigarettes, always pricey, went for a quarter.

“How you going to make a living?” my grandfather had asked. “You can’t make nothing from a penny or two.”

But he did.

Yes, he struggled most of his life and was always on call.  In those days there were no answering machines, cell phones, and hiring an answering service wasn’t affordable.  So someone was always home to take an emergency.

The candy machine is jammed, someone just broke into the cigarettes, the coffee machine flooded  water all over the floor.

My father was late for his own father’s funeral--a pipe broke in the coffee again--but if he were alive today, what would he think of things now?

You can rent a car or a villa or a week’s vacation through a vending machine.   A piece of paper slides through the slot giving directions where to pick-up the vehicle or where to meet the group for the trip.

Got a baby and need supplies? There’s Baby Station Vend in the Kansas City and Dayton airports offering diapers, wipes, pacifiers, and formulas.  Even the navy’s selling uniforms through its vending machine at some of its stores.

(As an added safeguard to prevent losing big bucks, your credit card doesn’t activate until the product sits in your hands).

But no matter how far we’ve come, we still deal with the lowly candy bar.  If you pay for a sweet, and the machine suddenly jams, you still want to kick it and jog out your coin, and try your luck again.

To hell with the iPod or the Porsche for a Sunday drive.

When you’re hungry, and there’s no one around, you’d give anything for a taste of milk chocolate, a crunch of nuts, creamy caramel…

But like life itself, machines are a gamble.

And hey, that’s the fun of it.

Friday, August 6, 2010

The Goats Have It

What’s the hottest thing you can do to go green, get your grass trimmed, and chomp those nasty weeds into oblivion?

You can go to Rent-a-goat.com or if those little ruminants (you know what ruminants are, animals with four parts to their stomach) are busy chewing their cud, the Goat Lady can offer the perfect alternative.  Prices range from $200 a day for a dozen, to upward of $1,000 for larger herds of 100 or more.

At one of the Vanderbilt Mansions a small herd grazes on seven hilly acres and only costs two-thirds of what it normally does with lawn mowers, blowers, weed whackers, and all those other nasty things that clog up the air.

Of course while I'm reading this, I'm thinking. 

I live across the street from a lake, and we have a pretty nice view--if weren't for the house directly in front of us.   Luckily ours was built off center so we do see the water and the occasional boat and skier, but it’s not lakefront, so I know it's not the same.

And after years of residing here, I'm tired of NOT seeing everything.  I want my own full view, my own show in front of me.

Of course, we’re not about to move because we don’t want to pay a gazillion bucks in property taxes for lakefront, so like the old adage says, if you can’t go to the show, then bring the show to you.

On  second thought, did somebody actually say that? 

But it got me to thinking a little deeper.  I've never had any goats, never gave it a thought, but why not haul a few over?                                                                            
I could have such a show going on that even the lakefront neighbors will finally turn their heads and stare across to this side of the street.   I don’t remember ever meeting these people—only identifying them by their do’s.

And I know nothing's perfect.  Can't forget the poop problem.  

But manure makes good fertilizer, so that’s another bonus.  And I'll make sure not to leave any goats around after the sun goes down.  One owner kept his goats in a trailer over night, and coyotes surrounded it, howling until morning.

Boy, how the neighbors loved that!

But all I want is my own show in front of my own house that’s more exciting than a bunch of waterskiers flying off a ski jump or the occasional alligator tearing after a dog.  

As for the lawn itself, I’m not expecting perfection.

According to Steve Holdaway from Chapel Hill, NC,  “The goats did a fine job…and …the neighbors were amused.  Still given the tall grass… the goat company returned with a scythe to neaten up.  What you end up with is not a lawn-cut look.  It’s a munched [up] look.”

Yes, that should keep the people and the goats coming back for a long long time to come.

Thursday, July 29, 2010

Chelsea's Getting Married

Little Chelsea Clinton’s getting married this weekend, and I thought I’d get invited, but they made this rule that only those who know the bride or groom can come.  But how about all my memories?  Don’t those count for something?

I can even picture what her old nose and chin used to look like when I realized that we made the same restriction--not about the nose--but about knowing the couple when our daughter Barbra got married last January.

Which got me to wondering.

What other things do our weddings have in common?

Theirs cost a whopping 3.2 million—I can’t even imagine—while ours was… Let’s just say “the point two” would work well in our budget with funds left over to feed the homeless in New York and L.A through the rest of the summer. 

As for the guest count, it was reported that 400 are coming in for the Clintons’ shindig.  We had a respectable 166 and had to settle up with the hotel 72 hours in advance for all of our guests.   As of this morning the New York Times reported that the Clintons still didn’t know if the Obamas were attending, and they’re paying 6,000 bucks a head.  My God.  That’s twelve grand for a couple of no shows.

In our case we also paid extra for the band’s dinners, so that the musicians wouldn’t go hungry, but if the Obamas make an appearance, we’re talking Secret Service, pilots, hair dresser, assistants…

Can the residents on Pennsylvania Avenue get a group rate for the help?

It's all been very secretive, but at least we know it’s at the Astor Courts in Rhinebeck, New York, nestled in the Hudson Valley not far from Franklin Roosevelt’s home in Hyde Park.

Yeah, but what are they serving?

At ours, the guests had a choice of sirloin or mahi mahi, but what do you get for six grand?

I’ve been calling all day but nobody’s talking, so here’s my guess:

Choice of wine from an unlimited cellar, the stripper of your choice (Bill’s suggestion), chocolate bar, cheese bar, sushi bar, McDonald’s and fries (also Bill’s suggestion) pheasant under glass, over glass, behind the glass…

And what about breaking THE glass?

Marc Mezvinsky’s Jewish.  Chelsea’s Methodist.  Will she convert?  No one thinks so, or that’s what the media says.  Of course, the Methodist minister can handle the ceremony alone, as can the rabbi. Or the two can perform together and orchestrate the specific traditions.

Of course, we only had a rabbi, but I bet that the two clergy will join together because I can see Marc smashing that bundle into a mass of slivery shards.

Later, speeches will be given.  I hear the father knows how to talk, like Bob but much better, and has a rip roaring life to back him up.  The mother too lives a path of nonstop excitement, though she’s not the public storyteller her husband’s become.

And then sometimes, no matter how much you spend, everything turns out the same.

You wish the newlyweds congratulations, good health, wealth, happiness...

And that the no-shows finally show.

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Two women, Two cars, One Umbrella

I was working out the other day at the gym, peddling hard on the elliptical, when the giant room darkened with black clouds and a crack of thunder crashed throughout the facility.

I jumped on my machine, then giggled   Wow! That was something, I thought, quickly coming back to earth and then glancing around at the others.  A few were also smiling.  Like me they had also been stunned but soon resumed their unnatural pace.

Keep going, I said to myself, diligently peddling to nowhere in order to continue my cardio workout while hoping that they rain would subside before I finished.

It didn’t.

After cooling down and schmoozing with a few of the women, I grabbed my workout bag and purse from the locker room and climbed the stairs to the entrance, clutching the tiny umbrella that I carried in my bag.  Too small to do any good, I thought, eyeing the mini maelstrom as I but pushed ahead outside.

I stood against the building under the overhang and waited.  The lightening stopped but I was afraid of getting drenched.  One step closer to my car, I thought, but just like stomping on my elliptical, going nowhere.

Another girl stepped outside.

“I just have this little thing,” I said, holding up my folded red umbrella.  She nodded, holding only her purse. We talked a couple minutes, and then I looked away, figuring.  I turned back to her.   “Would you like to take my umbrella, go to your car, and then drive back here and give the umbrella to me?”

“Really?  Thanks!”  She grinned. “And just for trusting me,” she said. “I’ll leave my purse with you.” She dropped it on the cement. “Too heavy to carry.”

I must’ve looked surprised. “Sure.  I'm a coward in the rain, but if nothing else, I’m trustworthy.”

She thanked me again as I handed her the umbrella.   Opening it, she scurried into the lot.  From a distance it looked larger than I thought and covered her well.   Returning a few minutes later in a gray SUV, she yelled through the passenger side window, “Come on in, I’ll drive you to your car.”

Grabbing my workout bag, her purse and mine, I climbed inside.  She drove me around to my car and handed me back my umbrella.  Thanking her, I asked her name.


“Hey, that’s good luck!” I said, getting out. “My daughter’s name too.”

She laughed and waved goodbye.   I laughed too.

I made a new friend today.   And all because of the rain.

Thursday, July 15, 2010

Need a Muzzle, Mel?

Mel Gibson’s having a terrible week, which means that's a great week for me.

After his rant against the Jews in 2006, blamed for his drunken state, he promised to be good but shot off his mouth again, this time against blacks and Hispanics, using the "N" word, and calling the latter “wetbacks” and lots and lots more.

Ya think that qualifies as a bigot?

A lot of people excused him four years ago because after all, it was merely the Jews, except for Barbara Walters.

Joy Behar revealed that Gibson’s been banned from “The View”.
“Barbara’s Jewish, he’s an anti-Semite, he’s a racist…so he’s done.”

But this time.  THIS TIME…

Four sets of tapes surfaced this week from phone conversations with his girlfriend Oksana Grigorieva, and no one from Gibson’s camp denied that they're false.

And how about Mel, star of What Women Want, beating his girlfriend at least two different times and knocking out her teeth?

I'm not sure he'd qualify as the leading male spokesman for the female sect.

His agent, William Morris, dumped him last Friday, and his friends have shied away, except for Whoopi Goldberg, who makes it clear that she doesn’t condone what he did but swears that he isn’t a racist.                                                                                

Hey, Whoopi.  Look again.

You know how the neighbors come outside after the “peaceful” guy next door just slaughtered his family and claim that he was such a wonderful man with a kindly word for everyone?

This time, Ms. Goldberg, you goofed.

Gibson's parents denied the Holocaust, and Gibson himself fudged its existence when questioned.

And you think Passion of the Christ wasn’t a hate driven film?

This week evil reared its ugly head again as lovable Mel self-destructed in front of millions.

Just like O.J.

It warms my heart good.

Thursday, July 8, 2010

The Japanese Say, 'I Don't"

Everyone seems to be going to weddings lately, but more than a few are suffering through painful divorces (Are there any other kind?)

The divorce rate in Japan is also rising--about two out of every six marriages.  Thinking about this, Hiroki Terai came up with a bright idea.  The Japanese have created rituals for every important aspect of life, seemingly all the beginnings and endings, but nothing for divorce. 

Calling himself the "Charisma Divorce Planner," Terai bought a Divorce Mansion this past April to perform a ceremony for the end of a lousy marriage.

For $606, couples are signing up to say “I do” for a final time in front of friends and family.

And there's all kinds of new rituals too.  

The parting couple meets near a temple and rides in separate rickshaws.  Friends and relatives follow on foot to the ceremony.   There Terai addresses the guests on why the couple has decided to separate without any blunt statements pointing specific blame but generally covering it indirectly.

A spokesman for the couple, usually a divorced friend, wishes them congratulations.  At the end of his speech, people aren't sure whether to appaud or not.  Instead, most of them fidget while waiting for the climax, which is the highlight of the evening:  the smashing of the rings.

“I base it on the image of cake cutting,” Terai says.  It is their “final joint act.”

Holding a hammer with the head of a frog—the symbol of change in Japan—the couple crush both their wedding rings.

Instantly, the mood changes into happiness and relief, and the audience bursts into applause.

Mr. Fujii, who participated in a recent ceremony, felt, “Oh this is the end of it, really.” His wife agreed. “The moment I saw the smashed ring, I said to myself, ‘Yes! That feels so good.”

As of June, Terai’s conducted 23 couples back to the single life.  He says he’s gotten hundreds more requests, but they didn’t reach the final stages because… and this will come as a shocker…

The couples wouldn’t work on it together.

Thursday, July 1, 2010

Bye Bye Byrdie

This past week Robert Byrd (D-West VA), the longest serving senator in the history of our country, died.

He worshipped the senate and loved to hear himself speak—yes, he was a character—but more important, and more sickening, he was the Babe Ruth of pork barreling—taking 3 billion from the taxpayers for his home state of West Virginia.

It is a legacy we should never forgive or forget.

He even built a statue of himself, this in defiance of the rules that stated you must be dead for at least fifty years. But even if no bronze likeness existed, you’d have to have Alzheimer’s to forget his name. There’s the Robert C. Byrd Expressway, Robert C. Byrd Freeway, Robert C. Byrd Institute, Robert C. Byrd Federal Building, bridges, schools, etc.

In the early days he was even worse.   He joined the Ku Klux Klan and later apologized, but in 1964 he participated in the filibuster against the Civil Rights Act.

Excuse me?

He was older by then, and I thought he’d given up his racial hatred.  So he didn’t?  Had he been lying all this time?

So he told tall tales, took gobs of money, and then refused to retire when his mental and physical health began to decline.   Giving up any chance of a dignified exit, he continued his long-winded, sometimes nonsensical rhetoric, while still keeping one hand in the pot.

Today he lies in state in the Capital Rotunda, and our black president will say a few kind words.


How many people can spend their lives lying and stealing billions of hard earned taxpayer money and get buried with honors in the end?

It’s been a long creepy journey.

Bye bye, Mr. Byrdie, and good riddance.

Friday, June 25, 2010

Better than Ambien or a Kick in the Head

How much does it cost to get a really good night’s sleep?   Right now it’s $33,000, but if you wait til next year, it's $44 grand.  That’s the hand-tufted, king-size Palais Royale mattress and box spring from E.S. Kluft and Co., the most expensive  made in America.

It's even got a fancy Wedgewood label printed in the center. 

But the Europeans got one better.   For $69,500 (below)—roughly the price of a Porsche Cayenne S Hybrid SUV—the Vividus, made by Hastens in Sweden--takes 160 hours to assemble by hand.

What’s going on?  All of a sudden there’s a run on out-of-this-world mattresses?   Who knew?

There's a mattress store on every corner next to a nails’ salon, but Earl Kluft, chief executive of E.S. Kluft, will have none of that.  He says it takes 10 craftsmen 3 days to make Palais Royale, which contain 10 layers and more than 10 pounds of cashmere, mohair, silk and New Zealand wood that has been washed, dried, and crimped.

Their customers swear by them, say it’s like sleeping on air.

Funny thing is, there’s not a single study that gives any conclusive evidence of what surface is better for the most productive sleep.  It simply has to do with individual preference.

Industry rivals agree.   Rick Anderson from Tempur-Pedic International, Inc. claims, “Hand-made doesn’t mean better sleep…  I think you have to look for meaningful differences.”

Basically speaking, the more stuff they pack inside, the higher the quality.

But one study did find that people who purchased new mattresses slept better than those on old ones. This meant ANY new mattress purchased, not just top-of-the-line, which might explain why unhappy customers are rare.

However, the price is also part of the appeal.  It separates the hand-made mattress from the pack, makes it special, unique, and demonstrates its scarcity.   As Mr. Kluft maintains, “You spend more time on your bed than anywhere else.”

Well… maybe.  I guess... 

Let me sleep on it and I'll let you know.

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

Don't Sweat the Fat... Not all of it

We've heard it all before and keep listening ad nauseam: Work out daily, eat fiber, stay away from salt, fatty foods, McDonald’s, Krispy Kreme, Ben and Jerry’s, potato chips, and your mother’s desserts.

But guess what?  A body of research is beginning to show that people may actually be healthier with a few added pounds.

Can you hear me out there?  I'm not talking about another cup of cottage cheese.  There’s scientific evidence that says ten to to fifteen pounds is good for your health!   According to the Wall Street Journal those carrying a little excess have no greater risk of dying from heart disease or cancer than those of “normal” weight.

And if that’s doesn’t make you smile, here’s more.  The extra padding might actually strengthen your bones and make you look younger!

Hold on.  Be back in a minute.  Just scurrying into the kitchen to pick up a snack.  Not much in the refrigerator.  Damn, need to get to the store.  Oh here's some dark grapes, a little Swiss cheese, and some yogurt that's supposed to taste like red velvet cake--it doesn't--and then back to my desk.

Gulped some water.  No calories there.  So as I was saying...

Experts, of course, recognize that obesity is a serious health issue and a major crisis in our country today, but there's a difference between carrying added poundage and becoming obese.

“Just because someone is slightly overweight doesn’t mean they’re not healthy,” says, Keri Gans, a registered dietician and spokeswoman for the American Dietetic Association.

Many doctors now believe that exercise and healthy eating can matter more than numbers on a scale.
So go ahead and jiggle in your jeans without all the guilt.  People in their 70s, who are a little overweight, have a reduced chance of dying than those that are thinner.  And with fuller faces, they often look younger too.

Beatrice Golomb, a medical researcher and regular chocolate eater commented on a study that shows a link between chocolate consumption and mood. “I tell all my patients: Chocolate is a vegetable.”

And hey, who doesn’t love their vegetables?                                

I say, eat and enjoy, and save those green beans for breakfast.