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(Blogs from 2007 - 2014 can be accessed under Stuff 2 Read
2015 Blogs - most recent at top
May 23, 2015
"BEST AIRPORT IN EUROPE"
We just returned from a two week holiday in Austria and it amazes us how fast weeds can grow even without rain! But that is not what I want to write about today.
We flew to Europe from Newark Airport in New Jersey but according to our Garmin GPS, Newark Airport does not exist. One must type in "Liberty International Airport" to get directions. At European airports, the airport is
listed as "EWR - New York." Except for TSA confiscating my shaving cream, the departure was
uneventful. They didn't notice my toothpaste.
We landed in Munich, Germany at the country's second busiest airport, and a good friend drove us three hours to our son's home in Austria.
The Munich Airport opened May 17, 1992 when the old Munich-Rhiem Airport was closed. We first visited the new airport in December, 1992 to pick up our daughter and her
fiancé for the Christmas holidays. My first reaction was that they must have sent out scouts to note
the worst features of other airports in order to incorporate them into the new Munich Airport. The
primary concern of builders was to protect the environment - a contradiction in itself. They had to tear down a small rural community, buy up many acres of farmland, re-route waterways and create methods to keep birds
at a distance so they wouldn't fly interference with jet liners. It is located far from the city, so bus and rail transportation had to be added. A graphics team designed the overhead signs on the roadways. They thought narrow white letters on a grey background looked cool, but you couldn't read the text if you were directly under them. Sometime
since 1992, they changed the signs to black and white with bolder print. The parking areas are still confusing and
many people can't find their vehicles. Because the airport entrances and exits from the customs area
were placed opposite each other, congestion is a big problem. weary passengers towing suitcases,
waiting relatives or friends, limo drivers holding placards with the names of clients all congregate
in the small area between entrance and exit doors.
For our return flight, we looked futilely for signs pointing to gate H-08. We asked several uniformed
airport employees for directions who either didn't know or told us to go to the Information Desk. We
walked in the direction they pointed and finally found the Information Desk. A lady said, "Just go
up the escalator, walk through to the end, up another escalator and through to the end, then turn
left." We followed her directions and actually found the gate but it was about a kilometer to walk!
Passengers are asked to arrive two hours before departure time, but the boarding area for our flight was cordoned off and scores of passengers had to wait an hour before they could get to a seat in the waiting area. We didn't get breakfast but thought we could buy something in a snack shop. The only snack shop in our waiting area was closed until 9:00am and our boarding time was 8:40. They opened the closed restrooms at 8:30, but just as I got up to go, it was announced that our gate had been changed from Gate
H-07 to Gate H-01. We all had to run to get there by boarding time. There was an open snack shop
there, so my wife bought us coffee and a sandwich. The salesperson asked to see her boarding pass
and passport. That was a first!
While waiting for our flight, an overhead TV monitor bragged,
"Our Munich Airport is the best in Europe." The TV advertisement also said, "Airport Helpers are everywhere
if you need assistance."
March 24, 2015
AT&T PHONE FOR SENIORS
Because our cordless phone system needed new batteries and these cost almost as much as a new phone system, we opted to buy the latter.
Our son, who is a computer geek, was coming to visit so we decided to purchase the phone set in an electronics store. The store didn't carry the phone we wanted, but the manager told us that they all have the same basic components made in China.
My main criteria was a set that seniors could easily use, so the clerk recommended an AT&T set with large numbers.
I should have looked closer, After installation and successful testing, Someone called and left a
message. I wanted to listen to the message and pressed the top of the chrome ring instead of
the bottom. Message was deleted! Unlike a computer, you can't retrieve deleted messages from the trash!
Not all the buttons have large numbers or letters on them! These are entirely
illegible unless you get up close with a magnifying glass and the lighting is just right. The photo
below is enlarged 200%.
I thought I had the buttons memorized, but seniors tend to forget or get confused. And if I press a wrong button once, the tendency is to press the same button next time. Some day I would like to talk to the engineers that design electronic devices, but then, I don't know Chinese.
March 21, 2015
In my last blog, I told about saying goodbye to a wonderful dog that we spent over a year with on
March 16th. Parting is not easy, so we usually try to do something distracting after a dog
leaves. Knowing that this was coming, we made appropriate plans.
Our wedding anniversary was March 9th, so we decided to take a belated two-day vacation to celebrate in our favorite Bed & Breakfast near Lancaster, PA
after the dog left.
When we called to book a room in our B&B, we discovered that the owners had locked the doors and
gone to Florida. With all the snow and cold, who could blame them?
Because spring was coming, however, they would be returning. We could have a room March 19-21. We
would have three days to mourn the loss of our dog. Verna said that Pippi's ghost haunted her. She
kept feeling her muzzle on her leg and hearing noises.
In order to pay for this luxury, we agreed to do without customary extras and save for our brief
vacation. No Valentines flowers, not even an anniversary present.
My birthday is the day before our anniversary and I made the mistake of buying myself a birthday present. I deserved
the celestial punishment I was about to receive.
When we arrived at our B&B, the owner apologized that our room was in need of repairs. The radiator had frozen and burst while they were in Florida.
It was cold and the electric heater tended to dry out the air.
We heard in the news that the famous Monopoly game would turn 80 years old on March 19th, so we decided to buy a game. We found a store in Lancaster that had 50 different Monopoly games on every theme imaginable, but when I asked for the original game with Atlantic City streets, they said they didn't have it! We finally bought a Lab-Opoly
game. Since we just lost our Lab, it seemed appropriate. Instead of building hotels, you buy dog
bones. We played for two hours and I conceded defeat. I had six properties loaded with bones but
Verna never landed on them. She kept landing on "Go for a Walk" and collecting $400 (pictures).
The next morning was the first day of spring that everyone had been waiting for. We woke up with snow on the ground and it snowed all day. We went to the famed Green Dragon Farmers Market, but there were few vendors fighting over even fewer customers. We bought a pound of Swiss cheese and a potato peeler.
After breakfast this morning, we packed the car and drove home. Today was sunny of course. Temperatures soared into the mid fifties and melted all the snow.
March 16, 2015
PIPPI RETURNS TO THE SEEING EYE!
Most visitors of this website know that we have been raising puppies for The Seeing Eye, the oldest and largest guide dog organization in the USA.
Today was a difficult day for us. After spending more than 13 months with a playful and lovable Yellow Lab, we parted company, probably forever. We will hopefully be able to watch her "Town Walk" in a few months after she successfully completes training in Morristown. That is always a highlight that can be compared to a High School or college graduation. It takes a lot of hard work, sacrifice and money to breed, raise and train these dogs, a fourth of which may fail to meet TSE's strict requirements. We think Pippi will make it, but if not, it will be due to her very enthusiastic greeting of friends! The Seeing Eye trainers are very experienced at correcting such problems, however.
Pippi was the sixth puppy we raised and she is an amazing dog. She learned fast and was always eager to please. If we told her anything was not to be touched, she never tested us. She lived up to her name and liked to tease, but only within the limits that we set. We let her know that she was not to steal our socks or "people food" and she never did.
People often tell us that they could never do what we are doing. It would be too difficult to part with the dog. We ask if they have children! We raised our children to serve others and it is the same with dogs. We thoroughly enjoyed raising them! Our lives have been greatly enriched and we have many wonderful memories. When our children and dogs are successful, it makes us proud and happy.
I made a PowerPoint show with music in honor of Pippi
February 12, 2015
PENNSYLVANIA: CHAMPIONS OF ABORTION ARE BACK
On January 20, 2015, Pennsylvania's new Governor Tom Wolf named Pedro Cortes for the position of Secretary of of the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania. Cortes already served as Secretary of the Commonwealth from 2003 to 2010 under Democratic Governor Ed Rendell. The champions of abortion in Pennsylvania are back in the saddle again.
Pedro Cortes was serving as Secretary of the Commonwealth in February 2010, when the atrocities of Kermit Gosnell's notorious Philadelphia abortion clinic finally came to light. It began with an FBI search warrant and raid on the Women's Medical Society, February 18, 2010. Representatives of the PA State Police, Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA), Philadelphia Police Department, Dangerous Drug-Offender Unit, Pennsylvania Department of State and Pennsylvania Department of Health were appalled at conditions in the clinic. They described them later to the Grand Jury "...as 'filthy,' 'deplorable,' 'disgusting,' 'very unsanitary, very outdated, horrendous,' and 'by far, the worst' that these experienced investigators had ever encountered. There was blood on the floor. A stench of urine filled the air. A flea-infested cat was wandering through the facility, and there were cat feces on the stairs. Semi-conscious women scheduled for abortions were moaning in the waiting room or the recovery room, where they sat on dirty recliners covered with blood-stained blankets. All the women had been sedated by unlicensed staff... long before Gosnell arrived at the clinic ...and staff members could not accurately state what medications or dosages they had administered to the waiting patients. Many of the medications in inventory were past their expiration dates... surgical procedure rooms were filthy and unsanitary... resembling 'a bad gas station restroom.' Instruments were not sterile. Equipment was rusty and outdated. Oxygen equipment was covered with dust, and had not been inspected. The same corroded suction tubing used for abortions was the only tubing available for oral airways if assistance for breathing was needed. [F]etal remains [were] haphazardly stored throughout the clinic... in bags, milk jugs, orange juice cartons, and even in cat-food containers... Gosnell admitted to Detective Wood that at least 10 to 20 percent... were probably older than 24 weeks [the legal limit]... In some instances, surgical incisions had been made at the base of the fetal skulls. The investigators found a row of jars containing just the severed feet of fetuses. In the basement, they discovered medical waste piled high. The intact 19-week fetus delivered by Mrs. Mongar three months earlier was in a freezer. In all, the remains of 45 fetuses were recovered ... at least two of them, and probably three, had been viable." (Quote from Wikipedia)
Gosnell's license to practice was suspended and findings were presented to a Grand Jury on May 4, 2010. The Grand Jury estimated that Gosnell's practice "took in $10,000 to $15,000 a night" additional to income from his "pill mill", which had prompted the raid.
One of the duties of the Secretary of the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania is "to protect the health and safety of the public." This includes oversight of physicians and inspection of abortion facilities. The Grand Jury investigation found that Secretary of State Pedro Cortes had repeatedly ignored evidence and closed investigations even in the midst of escalating complaints about Gosnell's abortion clinic. In fact, it had been 15 years since a Philadelphia abortion clinic had last been inspected! District Attorney of the city of Philadelphia, R. Seth Williams said "My comprehension of the English language can't adequately describe the barbaric nature of Dr. Gosnell... Pennsylvania is not a third-world country... There were several oversight agencies that stumbled upon and should have shut down Kermit Gosnell long ago."
Gosnell was arrested on January 19, 2011. He was charged with eight counts of murder, including seven babies born alive and a mother who died in his care. The Drug Enforcement Administration, The FBI and the Office of the Inspector General also sought a 23-count indictment charging Gosnell and his staff for illegally prescribing highly-addictive drugs. Gosnell was given life without parole for the murders and 30 years for running the pill mill. Gosnell's wife, Pearl, and eight other suspects were also arrested in connection with the case, but at least Pearl Gosnell was apparently not incarcerated. On June 3, 2014, her 22-year-old son was shot three times during an attempted burglary. ABC News reported that he was living with his mother, Pearl at the time. Stolen articles were found in her back yard.
The mainstream media at first failed to report on the Gosnell case until social media and the internet placed them under immense pressure with accusations of suppressing the affair.
When Republican Governor Tom Corbett took office in January, 2011, he replaced Cortes with Carol Aichele. But with the election of Governor Tom Wolf, the abortion proponents are back.
February 4, 2015
WHAT MODERN KIDS LEARN FROM ADULTS
There are as many smart kids today as there were in past centuries, but ignorant adults have been multiplying in recent years.
The primary occupation of children is learning. Kids learn some things by themselves or from their peers, but the brunt of learning, including the most important lessons in life,
have traditionally been learned from adults, primarily parents and educators.
Much of what I learned by myself or from peers had to be corrected by my parents and teachers. Adults didn't teach me to lie, steal or be mean to my brothers and sisters. My parents
tried teaching me not to do these things.
But not all of what I learned independent of adult influence and supervision was bad. I was creative, loved to draw, use tools and do almost anything mechanical, from taking old radios apart to building my own crystal radio. I was fascinated with cars, so when I got my first bike, I promptly replaced the handlebars with the steering wheel from a junk car.
Some things are learned in theory before attempting to put them into practice, while other lessons can best or perhaps only be learned by doing. You wouldn't want an untrained dentist working on your teeth, but learning to swim is best accomplished by going into the water and trying. A few tips or
assistance from an experienced swimmer helps, of course.
My father was a building contractor, but like most other suburbanites, our family kept a few animals, had a vegetable garden and fruit trees. I was given
responsibility for feeding animals, weeding the garden and mowing the lawn before power mowers. At 13 years of age, I started working for area farmers to earn pocket money. At 16, I worked in the family business when there was no school. Speaking of school, I walked at least a mile each way in all kinds of weather. I am not bragging, but want to say how thankful I am for all this.
I count myself fortunate to have had dedicated and loving parents and, for the most part, good teachers. These have become rare in the lives of many children today. Making matters worse, modern kids are often left to learn by themselves. Much of what they learn comes from electronic gadgets, spending countless unsupervised hours each day with the TV, i-Pad, and i-Phone.
Even if a kid is fortunate enough to live with two adults, both are not likely biological parents. Not a few children are raised by
their grandparents. The Federal and State governments have assumed almost total control of raising and educating children. It used to be the responsibility of parents to teach their children right and wrong, but now public schools teach students that wrong is right and right is wrong. It also assumes the role of protectorate and threatens to take children away from parents who
disagree with the government or fail to abide by its mandates.
Work? Responsibility? These concepts are foreign to most children and even teenagers. How many families do you know of that keep a vegetable garden or whose children mow the lawn? Teenagers are now forbidden to earn a little pocket money mowing lawns, baby sitting or distributing newspapers. They have little opportunity to learn self-discipline and
responsibility. Children are not permitted to walk to school or even to the corner to catch a school bus unless an adult accompanies them. But because kids need exercise, schools spend millions for sports facilities. In the past few years, our local government has banned swimming and ice skating. Many communities also forbid sledding, but there are no hills where we live.
I am angry and disgusted with adults who make life impossible for kids. A fourth of all children are killed before they see the light of day, and the rest are treated like dirt. I really sympathize with kids who must live in the 21st century.
February 2, 2015
NO FEMALES LEAGUE (NFL)
Unless there was a born male who decided later in life that he was a she, there were no females playing in the Super Bowl last night. The
feminist movement still has a lot of work to do.
With all the hype about gender neutrality, I cannot help but wonder why any feminist would accept the
terms "wo-man," "fe-male," or even "feminist" for that matter. Isn't there some member of the
"opposite sex" out there who can update our English language to make it politically correct? Must we
men even do that for them?
Seriously, women are superior to men in many ways and equal in others, but there are some areas of
life in which mixing and switching of roles is not recommended. Very few innocent men are raped by
evil women and not many decent guys would tackle a woman like they do in the No Females League!
January 24, 2015
ATLANTIC CITY RESCUE
A BRIEF HISTORY OF NEW JERSEY'S CASINOS
Before Resorts Casino and Hotel could open on May 26, 1978, a gambling referendum had to be passed. New Jersey citizens were promised that State taxes would go down if they voted for legalization of gambling in Atlantic City.
Many casinos were built in the next three decades and gaming revenues soared, but no citizens saw a decrease in taxes. More recently, neighboring states decided to get in on the gambling business and these new casinos were soon drawing players away from Atlantic City.
Even as revenues continued to slide downward in 2007 and 2008, 2,500 new hotel rooms were added in Atlantic City, bringing the total rooms to more than 17,000! Resorts Casino and Trump Entertainment filed for bankruptcy in 2009 and five casinos changed ownership in 2010. In spite of the financial free fall in the Atlantic City gaming industry, the spectacular new Revel Casino was opened in April, 2012. It was AC's biggest bet to date - the $2.4 billion Dollar casino was supposed to put the Atlantic coastal resort back in the money.
Construction of the Revel was plagued with problems. A construction worker was fatally struck by lightning. Three executives were killed in a plane crash. A gigantic construction crane tipped over and welders set fire to the upper story. Morgan Stanley bet big on Revel, investing $1.25 billion, including $74 million for the site. In summer, 2008, finances were so poor that it was decided to cut the Revel's size
With the project only 60% complete, Morgan Stanley bailed out in April, 2010, by selling its share in the project. It declared a $932 million loss for the first quarter of 2010. The recently elected Governor, Chris Christie, went to bat for the floundering casino. He drummed up $1.15 billion from various hedge funds by promising investors $261 million in tax incentives. When the deal was announced, he suggested that his idol, Bruce Springsteen would be proud of him. He stated: I think Bruce, if he’s true to his lyrics, would love the fact that the state used taxpayer funds to invest in this place to create jobs for working men and women.
In April 2012, the 47-story Revel finally opened with 1,400 hotel rooms starting at just under $300 a night. Singer Beyoncé (not Springsteen) was engaged for the inaugural concert. There were few high points during the Revel's brief two-year lifespan. The unending escalators that took guests to the hotel lobby on the 11th floor was soon nicknamed, "The escalator of terror." Adding insult to injury, Baltimore Ravens running back, Ray Rice, made national headlines by assaulting his fiancée in a Revel elevator. The casino/hotel never turned a profit and on March 25, 2014, Revel filed for bankruptcy, claiming that its value had dropped from $2.4 billion to $450 million. Revel AC Inc. filed a reorganization plan, but again filed for Chapter 11 in April of 2014.
On September 2, 2014, the Revel shut down. In October, Brookfield Property Partners, which owns the Las Vegas Hard Rock Hotel & Casino, won a bankruptcy auction agreeing to buy the Revel for $110 million in cash. But Brookfield backed out in November and the Revel was offered to Glenn Straub, who owns the Palm Beach Polo, Golf & Country Club for $95.4 million. Straub agreed, but also backed out. To date, no one seems to want Atlantic City's money-devouring monster even at pennies on the Dollar!
Three other AC casinos bottomed up in 2014, but Revel may prove to be one of the greatest financial debacles in recent US history.
In desperation, Governor Chris Christie (Republican) and State Senate President Steve Sweeney (Democrat) agreed to take control of matters.
On January 22, 2015, NJ.com reports:
Gov. Chris Christie announced today that he's signed an executive order to install an emergency management team in Atlantic City to help dig the financially strapped gambling resort out of what he called "an enormous hole."
The initiative, which was balked at by some local officials, does not rule out the possibility of the city declaring bankruptcy.
Christie tapped Kevin Lavin, a corporate finance attorney who specializes in helping troubled companies, as the emergency manager tasked with finding ways to overhaul the operations and finances of Atlantic City which has seen four casinos close and more than 8,000 people lose their jobs over the last year.
The Republican governor also named Kevyn Orr, a former corporate bankruptcy lawyer who led Detroit through the largest municipal bankruptcy filing in U.S. history last year, as a special counsel to Lavin.
It is no secret that Christie has presidential aspirations, so it shouldn't surprise us that he is already trying his hand at making "executive orders."
They say, "What happens in Las Vegas stays in Las Vegas."
I say, "What happens in Atlantic City may soon spread to all America!"
Ralph V Harvey, 1/24/15