Monday, September 26, 2005

"Would You Believe.....?"

"Get Smart" is/was one of my favorite TV shows, and I watched it every Saturday night. I laughed uproariously then at the catchphrase, the cone of silence and, of course, the shoe-phone. I even saw the "Get Smart" movie and laughed at that with my father-in-law who had the same, basic sense of humor. The show is so campy that I think viewers today would still laugh, but the shoe-phone does seem outmoded with cellphones so prevalent. Don Adams died today, at age 82, and "would you believe...." it made me want to watch the show again, as if I needed an excuse. It was on TV Land for a while, but don't know if it still is running.

Sunday, September 25, 2005

Driving With A Company Name On Your Vehicle

My father told me to always drive safely and courteously when driving a company vehicle. I learned to drive on small pickup trucks and panel vans in various school parking lots and am always the designated driver in our house for rental vans or trucks. But my father said that other drivers associate bad driving with your business, if the logo is on the vehicle, as people will not patronize your business if they see you drive offensively. Well, yesterday, I got cut off by a SUV with the name of a business nearby ---Ixtapa Joe's -- a Mexican restaurant I never remember to go to when we want to eat out. But, after they aggressively cut me off in a 2-lane merge situation, I remembered what my dad said, and -- it is true, I won't go there now.

Wednesday, September 21, 2005

Watching A Crippled Plane

Ok, it is morbid to watch a crippled plane land, thinking you might be watching something horrific. Who did not imagine how it would have been to be a passenger in the plane, waiting, circling, assume crash position for the "emergency landing." It went so smoothly, to the credit of a very capable pilot and a crew that reportedly stayed calm as they kept the passengers informed of their plans. Watching themselves on tv on the plane had to be weird, but it was shut off before the landing.
Hats off to the pilot, crew and LA Fire Department for being ready. I missed seeing the fireman, who, while taking a boy off the plane to the waiting bus, put his helmet on the boy's head. For at least awhile, people will not take a successful, smooth landing for granted. I like to see the pilot standing at the plane when I get off so I can say "thank you." There are many thankful people tonight, even though they did not intend to be in LA overnight. My husband had a close friend standing by in the airport, waiting for a flight delayed by this event. I hope he got home safely -- how scary to have to get on a plane immediately after watching the drama firsthand.

Dr. Ruth -- In Person

I had the great honor of attending a presentation with Dr. Ruth Westheimer (and Dr. Minkin, an amazing GYN from Yale) and she is so unbelievable -- petite, blunt, warm, funny, and legendary. She was even more amazing in person that you could even imagine, sharing advice and stories on menopause and sexuality. The two doctors were doing a traveling road-show on "Sex Over 50". We were greeting with "Sextinis", a cranberry martini, and served delicious appetizers and mini-desserts. The session started with "menopause" bingo and door prizes before Dr. Minkin shared her wisdom and Dr. Ruth had us captivated.
Her story is one of epic proportions, starting in a Swiss orphanage in 1939, moving to Israel after both parents were killed at Auschwitz, joining the Haganah, moving to Paris, taking her Nazi reparation funds to move to New York and finish college, which led her to an interview on a radio show in 1980 -- the rest is history. We watched her in 1983 on a tv show, co-moderated with Larry Angelo. I asked her why Larry wore such a big watch, and she said she would ask him but had never noticed. I think it was such a petty question to ask someone who was selected by People magazine as one of the most intriguing people of the 20th Century.
When the program ended, we were treated (by Novo-Ortho, the makers of Vagifem) to the most recent book by each speaker, a t-shirt and a personal book-signing. A night to remember, and I am pinching myself that I saw Dr. Ruth in person. She was endearing.

Simon Wiesenthal -- A True Hero

I was saddened to hear that Simon Wiesenthal had passed away, though he lived a very long life. And he is a true hero, in my definition of the word, in that he had a goal and lived his life to achieve that goal -- bring Nazis to justice (though it is debatable that there is justice for what they did). He foresaw this day when he said: "When we come to the other world and meet the millions of Jews who died in the camps and they ask us: "What have you done?" there will be many answers... I will say: "I didn't forget you."
This man made a career out of searching out Nazi officers in all corners of the earth, as well as dealing with those carrying out all kinds of hate crimes. He fought anti-Semitism and prejudice, seeking tolerance, justice and fairness. In his own words, he was a realist, knowing the importance of not forgetting the Holocaust (how could he as he had been in five concentration camps!), but mostly making sure it would not happen again. This article summarizes many of his thoughts on his accomplishments:
One quote in all the accounts I read said: "Many men stand tall, but few reach the stature of Simon Wiesenthal." Gosh, I wish I had said that.

Saturday, September 17, 2005

Hibernation is Ending!

The temperature is dropping below 100 degrees and we, along with the other desert residents, are starting to emerge from our hibernation. Conversely to bears who hibernate in the winter, we hibernate in the summer in the air conditioning. Now, we want to get out and do stuff -- but what? Farmer's markets are coming soon; paddleboats on nearby lakes are calling to me; maybe swing a few golf clubs at the driving range (shoulder permitting, of course!); Fall League baseball, dog agility contests, various art walks and festivals, to name a few. We talk about going to movies as part of our hibernation, but never seem to get there for one reason or another. Many other people spend their summers here at the movies, and why not -- new, huge theatres with rocking seats and fantastic sound systems,.
I plan to create a vegetable garden - last year I grew some small peppers and one giant radish. I hope for a larger crop this year. Speaking of crops, some outings that we will be doing soon are the Queen Creek Olive Oil Company and a nearby apple orchard/farm that has lots of stuff going on during the fall. I am curious about the new Mt. Sinai Jewish Cemetery, located very close to our house. None of this means I will stop reading and reacting to every story about Katrina survivors, the people who made it, those who didn't, the heroic rescuers, the animals left behind and the efforts to rebuild. My heart is still with those affected.
The lizards in our backyard have emerged, just like us.

Thursday, September 08, 2005

BIC Pens = Back to School

I have always associated back to school with a fresh supply of new, BIC ballpoint pens. I personally like the blue ones with the medium tip. Whew, they have now sold 100 billion of those pens -- and all 100 billion are in landfills somewhere. Mr. Bich did revolutionize the pen industry, as well as other "limited-use disposables" -- lighters, razors etc. -- all of which are in landfills. But there is nothing like writing with a new, medium point pen, except maybe chewing on the tip or poking at stuff with the cap.

Still Thinking About Parenting A Teen...

I recently met a woman that researches teen brain activity (or lack thereof) on the plane. She told me that subtlety does not work with teens. If you have an angry or annoyed tone in your voice, they will not pick up on it. If your facial expression is angry, annoyed or sad, they won't notice that either, as they are focused on themselves exclusively. She said that showing adults drawings of people, then asking what emotions are showing in the drawings, yielded a 95% accuracy in adults. When shown to teens, they have less than 10% correct. For example, an angry face would get a response "are they hungry?" No, duh, but the teenager probably is. The following article reinforces the information I learned on the plane, but adds one wrinkle --which is important to me. That fact is that it passes by age 16 or 17.

The relevant portion of the article follows:

The ability of boys and girls to decode social cues and recognize emotions, particularly anger and sadness, dips between the ages of 12 and 14, researchers at University College London and the Institute of Child Health have discovered.
"It would appear that this is a function of the development of their brain at that time," Professor David Skuse, of the group's behavioral science unit, told a conference on Thursday.
"It is a real biologically based phenomenon from which, fortunately, they recover," he added.
So rather than rebellious teenagers being deliberately obstinate or difficult, their brains may be unable to detect subtle signs from parents, teachers and other adults or to decode them correctly.
The same brain circuits involved in recognizing facial expression are also associated with processing tone of voice, according to Skuse.
"The ability to interpret your irritated tone of voice, the ability to interpret your angry facial expression may well deteriorate during that period of early adolescence," he added.
But the problem seems to disappear by the age of 16 or 17.

Thank goodness for that!!!!

Wednesday, September 07, 2005

Not As Bad As ....

In coping with the ongoing coverage of Hurricane Katrina and its impact on lives, cities, the US and our general life as we know it, I find myself thinking of "well, it is not as bad as ...." What I mean is that if I am having a delay, frustration, pain or sadness, I think that it is not as bad as what those people are going through or what the genuinely kind rescuers and other personnel are going through. I let little bits of the news, good and bad stories alike, into my thoughts or it would continue to be paralyzing. It is so great to see people open their hearts, homes, wallets and closets to people they don't know. I hope it all ends up as we are wishing and no good soul is punished for their kindliness.

Friday, September 02, 2005


There are no words to describe the visual impact of the television images and stories of survival, death and destruction. Two heroes are emerging that we will be hearing about in the future:
-- Mayor Nagin, caring, but outspoken for the welfare of his city, with help coming so late that explanations are totally lame.
-- New-Orleans born General Honore who is on the ground, leading the rescue and recovery units, followed by convoys of military, food, and medical supplies. The best tale so far is that he got off the helicopter, looked around, started cursing and barking orders. Sounds like that is what was needed and the right man was selected for the job. Back that up with police and fire rescue teams from around the country -- and we are finally dealing with it.
Several countries have offered help, which we are accepting. The list is interesting in that there are some countries so small and their generosity is overwhelming: El Salvadore, Venezuela, Israel, Greece, South Korea, United Arab Republic, Mexico, Dominican Republic, France. As notable as the list is, there are many countries that are missing from this list which one would expect to reciprocate...