Extraordinary Stories

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Thursday, January 31, 2013

The "A Bit More of This & That" Story

It was an ordinary day.  Saw a few things while reading during the past few months that I found interesting and just knew you would enjoy reading about them also.  Not enough for an entire story so I have put the items together for this story.  Here goes:

  1. The iodine commonly added to table salt helps prevent thyroid disease and metal retardation.  Without the iodized salt, a child's IQ score can be lowered by 10 points.  Found that hard to believe.  During the past 20 years the portion of the world's population with access to iodized salt has increased from 20% to 70%.  Amazing numbers for only 20 years.  This increase is a quiet revolution in public health at an annual cost of a nickle per person.  Did you have iodized salt when you were growing up?  How about fluoride in your drinking water?  Many people thought, and may still think, that the government was trying to poison us.  I know without the fluoride in the water, I would have had an unbelievable number of cavities in my teeth. 
  2. Did you ever hear of the word "Medusoid"?  I never did until I saw it in a copy of Wired magazine.  Definition is an artificial jellyfish made by impregnating silicone with muscle cells harvested from a rat's heart.  Researchers designed the creature - vengefully known as a medusa - to work as a simple stand-alone pump.  Someday its cousin could function as a heart valve implant.  Now that's amazing.  I have a friend that has parts of a dead pig in his body, but never heard of the rat thing.  Pretty remarkable.
  3. And finally, I read recently that the maker of Banana Boat sunscreen was recalling some half-million bottles of spray-on lotion after reports that a handful of people have caught fire after applying the product.  A company spokesman said that there have been five reports of people suffering burns after using the sunscreen in the last year; four cases in the US and one in Canada.  Now this sounds pretty bad, but I didn't tell the whole story.  You must come in contact with a flame or spark prior to complete drying of the product on the skin.  Therefore if a person smoked and had a lighter or even a match, it could cause a fire.  Good reason to stop smoking, but if you can't, at least stay out of the sun! 
Well, that's it.  Some interest items that I wanted to share with you.  Thought they were all pretty interesting.  It was another extraordinary day in the life of an ordinary guy.A

Wednesday, January 30, 2013

The "Because I Said So" Story

It was an ordinary day.  Reading my latest James Patterson book titled Merry Christmas Alex Cross.  I enjoy James Patterson even though I'm sure he isn't writing half of what is published with his name on it.  But, it is an exciting and quick read and is better than watching TV.  Actually almost anything is better than watching most of the crap that is on TV today.  Well, getting back to my story.  I realized that when I am finished with my book, I will have to buy one on my Kindle, since it is the only novel that I got for Christmas this year.  Usually get half a dozen, but I forgot to put them on my list.  One that I really wanted is titled Because I Said So by Ken Jennings.  Remember him?  Ken was a contestant on Jeopardy for what seemed like forever.  He won quite a bit of money, but did lose to one of my former high school students Brad Rutter in 2005 in "The Ultimate Tournament of Champions."  Jennings wrote the book Because I Said So to "shine the cold, hard light of truth onto parental folklore."  I grew up with stories, as you did, that were told by my mom and dad to illustrate what could happen to you if you did something.  Such as: If you have fish for supper (something that I never remember doing as a child) you should never eat ice cream for dessert.  Why?  Because my mom said do!  And funny as it may seem, until her death she always believed in that saying.  Carol and I would take mom and dad to visit along the Chesapeake for lunch and we would all have crab cakes.  On the return trip we would stop for an ice cream cone and she would never eat one.  I think she was just waiting for one of us to get sick so she could said "Told you so!"  Well there are many, many wives tales that are a bunch of baloney, but then again there are a few that are true such as: Drinking warm milk makes you sleepy, An Apple a Day keeps the doctor away, Long labor means it must be a boy, Drink cranberry juice for a bladder infection, Chicken soup fights a cold, and Eat your carrots.  How do I know they are true?  Read about it online before I tried to add them to my story so I don't look like a fool.  Getting back to Ken's book, he recently published a few of his tales in the "Sunday Parade Magazine" to try and get readers interest and buy his book.  It got my interest!  Here are a few tales he presented and info to prove or disprove the truth of the tale.
  1. No swimming for an hour after you eat.  You'll cramp up.  It is true that when we eat, our bodies divert blood to the stomach to aid in digestion, but that doesn't immobilize your arms and legs.  Long-distance swimmers are routinely fed in the middle of races to make sure they stay nourished and hydrated.  The only thing that you should not do is drink alcohol.
  2. When you start shaving, the hair will grow thicker.  To a 12 year old boy, it's great news, but to a same age girl it could be a disaster.  The advice is pretty silly.  
  3. Stay away from the Poinsettia!  The leaves are poisonous.  Truth is its probably safer to eat an entire poinsettia plant than to eat grandma's fruit cake.  You would have to eat over 600 leaves to have any effect and then it would only be a bellyache.  There goes another one.
  4. Don't cross you eyes.  They'll get stuck like that!  This is another case of parents saying "That's dangerous," when all they mean to say is "Why on earth are you doing that? You look silly!"
  5. Drink eight 8-ounce glasses of water a day.  Had to drink water.  Milk, juice, soda, etc. didn't count.  But, most of our water intake gets to us in the food we eat.  You should drink whenever your thirst demands and milk, juice, soda, coffee, tea ...... they all count.
  6. It's too dark in here.  You'll hurt your eyes if you try to read.  Hey this is one that I always tell my wife.  You don't need all the lights on when you are reading as many think.  There is no evidence linking reading in the dark to eye damage.  It just takes longer to focus when the light is dim.  
  7. You need hydrogen peroxide on that.  I know, it looks neat when it hits the cut and starts to fizz. Seems like it is working to help cleanse the would, but it really is not good for you.  Neosporin is a better choice.
  8. Take off the band-aid to let your cut air out.  My mom used to say that all the time.  Made me take band-aids off when I went to be bed to "air it out" only to wake up in the morning with blood and tissue on the sheets.  Skin cells regrow about twice as fast on covered wounds which stayed moist and didn't get a scab.  But I recently had some cancer cells removed from my arm and the nurse told me to leave the bandaide off so the wound would heal faster.  So who do you believe?  
  9. Don't drink soda.  It makes you hyper.  Sugar doesn't really wind kids up.  It's just that many of the occasions on which kids eat lots of sugar, like birthday parties and holidays, tend to be chaotic anyway.  Cutting down on the sugar is great for the teeth, but it won't help them sit still on grandma's couch.  Matter of fact nothing seems to make them sit quietly on our couch.  Hey, they are kids!
  10. Most of your body heat escapes through your head.  You know, I believed this until I read Ken's information.  It is really an old wives' tale.  You get the same results on any part of the body that is exposed.  You'd lose just as much heat if you put a hat on and wore short pants.  I'm still not sure I believe that, Ken!  My bald head sure gets cold faster than other parts of my body.
OK.  You interested in his book yet?  I still want a copy to read.  Sounds like it will be fun to read and see how many things that mom and dad told me all my life that weren't true.  I probably have done that with my kids also, but that's OK, since I'm the dad and know better.  It was another extraordinary day in the life of an ordinary guy.

Tuesday, January 29, 2013

The "In Days Of Olde" Story

'54 Vette rolling off the assembly line.

It was an ordinary day.  Talking with friends about the many things they remember from the good old days.  Days when we were carefree, had very little to worry about and had no aches and pains.  We started passing the stories around and it was as if we were back in another era.  My friends and I have been around a long time and you probably have been also if you can remember:
  • The first night-time World Series game which was in 1971 and featured the Orioles and Pirates.  It was played in Pittsburgh.  
  • Going to see the Corvette when it first came out.  The Vette was introduced in 1954 and the Thunderbird came along the next year.  Both were American products with the Corvette still being produced to this day.
  • Shoveling snow before the introduction of the snow-blower in 1951.  
  • Calling the long piece of furniture in your living room a couch instead of a sofa, calling the living room the parlour, and calling your Thanksgiving stuffing the filling.
  • Having a gas station on just about every-other corner where they pumped the gas for you as well as cleaned your windshield and checked your oil.
  • Sticking your arm out the window to signal a turn.  On cold days I tried to go straight at every intersection.
  • The sound of studded snow tires or even chains against the dry pavement.
  • Watching "Covered Wagon Theatre", Hopalong Cassidy, The Lone Ranger, The Cisco Kid and Tonto and Roy Rogers on Saturday morning.
  • When there were 2 professional football leagues.
  • When you got your first transistor radio.  The more transistors the radio had the better it was.
  • You watched your first show on a colored TV.  I can remember watching Bonanza for the first time on my aunt's colored TV. 
  • Not being able to use you landline telephone (the only kind available) during a thunderstorm.
  • Not being able to eat ice cream if you had fish for supper.
  • Watching Bandstand in the afternoon.
  • When the Dodgers were in Brooklyn, the Giants were in New York, the Colts were in Baltimore, the Rams were in St. Louis, the Senators were in Washington and the Braves were in Boston.  Still tough for me to call the team in nearby Baltimore the Ravens!
  • Barney Fife.
  • Watching Richie Ashburn playing in Philadelphia in the '50s, listening to him on radio and watching him on TV and then hearing of his death on my birthday in 1997.
  • Your first car with rear speakers and intermittent wipers.
  • American Flyer trains.  Always seemed to be Lionel in our area.
  • Your first white Christmas.
  • When football players wore leather helmets and baseball players didn't wear a helmet.
  • The first time Elvis sang "Blue Suede Shoes."
  • When snow fences lined all the roads in the county.
  • Twice-A-Year car inspections in PA that didn't include the emissions check.
  • Curt Gowdy doing football and baseball games and Howard Cossell being his blustery, cocksure self.
  • And, I can remember when The World Series was over and I had to wait all winter until baseball would be on back on TV again in the Spring. 
Oh well, how times fly.  It was another extraordinary day in the life of an ordinary guy.

Monday, January 28, 2013

The "I'll have another serving of walnut, please" Story

The good old cellulose that is used in your food.
It was an ordinary day.  Just finished reading an article telling me the 27 foods that I should never buy again.  Things like swordfish, multi-grain bread and reduced fat peanut butter.  I'm to cross them off my grocery list because they may be fakes, drastically unhealthy or just plain gross.  Wow, I just bought a jar of Jiff Reduced Fat creamy peanut butter this past week.  Not about to throw it away.  The article tells me that when companies take out the fat, they have to add something back in to make the food taste delicious.  In this case, it's lots of extra sugar and who wants that?  They then tell me to spread the regular Jiff on my sandwich and get more of the good fats and protein without the fake sweetness.  OK, do I want more sugar or more fat?   And, the multi-grain bread is junk food masquerading in a healthy disguise.  Is whole wheat the first ingredient on the label?  If not, I'm getting a few grains mixed into regular white bread.  So, they tell me that I should fore go the multi-grain and go for the straight-up barley, brown rice or steel-cut oats.  But, I love white bread!  Now, I knew about the swordfish years ago.  Since the swordfish is a bottom-feeder like tuna and shark, it is high in mercury content.  I should choose flounder, salmon or catfish.  Hey, I always thought the catfish fed off the bottom.  Starting to wonder who wrote this article I read.  A few more of the things to cross off the list are energy drinks because they are classified as "sugar bombs" and flavored non-dairy milks.  Vanilla-eggnog-caramel soy milk doesn't win any points in the health department.  I should just stick to milk, but buy the skim or fat free variety if I'm after something healthy.  Then, as I continued reading, I was told not to eat foods that are made of wood.  Had to be a misprint.  On the ingredient list of high-fiber cereal or snack bars I may find "cellulose" listed.  Turns out that cellulose is a code word for "wood pulp."  Manufacturers use wood to extend their product and add fiber, so it looks like you're getting more food. Probably only getting a mouthful of wood shavings.  And how do I know what kind of wood they are using?  Pine, oak, pussy willow?  I guess if they used walnut it wouldn't be so bad.  And then I hit the one product that I have been trying to eliminate as much as possible.  Bottled refrigerated ice tea.  In my case I love our local Turkey Hill orange ice tea.  My son recently had a kidney stone that required surgery to remove and later was told it may be because he constantly drinks Turkey Hill tea.  Really bad for you because some of the top ingredients are high fructose corn syrup and other sugars.  Best to make you own iced tea with inexpensive tea bags.  I know it is a pain in the butt to make, but certainly much better for you.  Well, I didn't give you all 27 foods, but the few I did give you may be hard to take off your store list.  But then again, should I really believe the article.  I guess since I read it in a reputable magazine, it must be fact.  Or is it?  It was another extraordinary day in the life of an ordinary guy.

Sunday, January 27, 2013

The "Saving a $100" Story

It was an ordinary day.  Midnight and I just got off the line with my security company.   You see, we have been having a problem with our phone service and we finally figured it out.  Had to do with the security company.  Here's how it went ....... Carol would be talking with a friend or one of our kids in the evening and the phone line would go dead.  Happened every so often and we didn't think too much about it.  She would call them back or they would call us back.  We thought it maybe something in the phone that we have had for years.  Then it started to be annoying.  She would be talking, the line would go dead and when she immediately tried to redial immediately, the line was still dead.  I suggested that she place the phone on the charger unit when she goes to bed, because I thought the phone charge was the problem.  Still happened.  OK, time for a new phone system.  We looked at a few and finally settled on one at Costco.  We said that we would make a trip at the end of the week to Costco and pick up the phone, since it was on sale and there was no limit on how many we could buy at the sale price.  Probably would buy half a dozen so we would have phones for the rest of our life.  Now, how many people really buy more than one?  My guess - 0.  Anyway, during the week Carol was talking on the phone and yep, the phone went dead.  "Why does it always happen at the same time each evening?" she asked me, not expecting an answer.  So she tried and tried and tried again to connect and each time the phone line was busy or dead.  Then a few seconds later, between her tries, the phone rang and it was the security company calling to find out why they couldn't reach us after they had seized our line for our evening test.  "Ah Ha!" I said.  "We don't need a new phone.  It's the security company seizing our line and making it unusable for a few seconds while they do the testing."  Yep, that's what they told us.  The phone line is seized every evening at exactly 8:32 PM for a daily test.  Carol asked them why they do it at that time and they said that is the time we chose.  Don't think so!!  Why would we chose that time when that is the time we make most of our calls.  Somehow their system got mixed up, maybe because of a power outage at one time or another, and got changed.  She asked how we can make it a different time and they told her that we have to call them immediately before our selected time to tell them it is a test-set time.  Carol and I decided that midnight was a good time and guess who had to stay up and make the test-set call.  Well, all is well in LDub's house with the phone system.  Didn't have to buy an entire new system after all.  And now we don't have to make the trip to Costco and spend the mandatory $100 that we tend to spend when we go there.  How lucky was that?  It was another extraordinary day in the life of an ordinary guy. 

Saturday, January 26, 2013

The "Drinking of the Fountain" Story

I actually drank from this fountain!
It was an ordinary day.  Showing my wife, Carol, a story in a publication that features the Fountain of Youth in Florida.  The Fountain of Youth is a legendary spring that reputedly restores the youth of anyone who drinks of its waters.  It was in 1513 that Ponce de Leon, armed with maps, a compass and the instruction of his king, went searching for the fountain off the coast of Florida.  Since then, the fountain has been frequently associated with Florida and St. Augustine.  In 1904, Luella Day McConnell helped create the Fountain of Youth Archaeological Park where she would fabricate stories to amuse and appall the tourists until her death in 1927.  Though there is no evidence that the fountain is the storied fountain that de Leon found, visitors to the park still drink the fabled water.  In 1968, the year after we were married, Carol and I took two weeks vacation and drove my mom and dad's Mercury convertible to Florida to see the state.  We had a smaller car at the time and I knew it would be fun in the summer to put the top down on the Merc while cruising the roads of America.  The Mercury had been my car until I decided to buy a smaller car when I got married, so my dad bought it from me.   Among the many places we stopped in Florida was St. Augustine.  Really neat small town whose special attraction was the Fountain of Youth.  We drank from what allegedly was the Fountain of Youth, but as you can surmise, it really didn't work for us or any of the other million or so visitors.  I can assure you of that fact.  Each day in America nearly 10,000 people turn 65.  The aging of America has recently shown its force with a majority of the voters in the recent election being over the age of 50.  First time in history that's ever happened.  Wow, 50.  How I would love to be that age again.  See, that's why we visited Florida 45 years ago, to try and stop our aging in America.  If I had been born in 1900 I could expect to live to age 47, but we have now gained another 22 years in life expectancy.  I'm looking forward to many more fun years of life.  There's still more stories to write, lots of good books to read, yellow umbrellas to sit under and crustal blue water in which to swim.  At times it seems and feels as if the Fountain of Youth has bypassed us, doesn't it.  But, since we now have the gift of extra years ahead of us, what will we do with that opportunity.  Me, I'm going to be drinking from all the fountains I can.  It was another extraordinary day in the life of an ordinary guy.

Friday, January 25, 2013

The "Birds-Of-Paradise" Story

It was an ordinary day.  Watching the YouTube video that my neighbor Tom emailed to me.  It is a video that describes the research and recording that went into the book titled "Birds-Of-Paradise: Revealing the World's Most Extraordinary Birds" which presents all 39 species of  birds-of-paradise.  Legendary naturalist Alfred Russel Wallace once observed, "The bird-of-paradise really deserves its name and must be ranked as one of the most beautiful and most wonderful of living things."  In the photo essay that was recently published, Tim Laman and Edwin Scholes explain why, presenting gorgeous full-color photographs of all 39 species that highlight their unique and extraordinary plumage and mating behavior.  The photos in the book were taken in the depths of the remote New Guinea rainforest and provide a rich feast for birders, naturalists, and any one who is captivated by the power and majesty of the natural world.  I must admit that as I watched the video, the images and sounds are more than just beautiful, they reveal how evolution works.  The book, "Birds-Of-Paradise: Revealing the World's Most Extraordinary Birds" was co-published and was presented to the public this past October through the Cornell Lab of Ornithology and National Geographic.  I will have to make an effort to try and find a copy of the book.  Late this month the website, "Birds-of-Paradise" will launch more than 50 videos offering detailed looks into the birds, the natural processes that gave shape to them, and the people that made it happen.  Should be interesting viewing if you enjoy nature and our fine feathered friends.  The following trailer that Tom sent to me captures the astounding beauty of the birds and the sense of determination and discovery of the two scientists who dreamed up the project and saw it through.  You must watch it!!  It was another extraordinary day in the life of an ordinary guy.


Thursday, January 24, 2013

The "It's as if it happened yesterday!" Story

It was an ordinary day.  Looking forward to 2013 and what it will hold for Carol and me and our family.  Every year at Christmas we get a Christmas card from friends and in the card is a letter telling about their family and what they have been doing during the year.  Lists the highlights of the past year and what they are hoping for in the new year.  Well, I'm not into that sort of thing so you're in luck.  Anyway, these stories kind of document the year as it progresses.  Today I am going to write about the past and the events that shaped my life 50 years ago.  Yep, 1963.  The year after I started college and gained more responsibility within the family.  That means I had to pay for my education!  My parents allowed me to stay at home during college, helping tremendously.  They provided all the meals and a caring place to stay.  They appreciated that I went to a local college and didn't ask for help to pay for my education.  Truth is, they couldn't pay.  Anyway, during the year 1963 some important things happened in my life as well as your life.  See if you remember some of the events as I share them with you.  On January 28 Harvey Gantt started college at Clemson University.  Name mean anything to you.  Harvey was the first African American admitted to the South Carolina school where he eventually graduated with honors.  Twenty years later he was elected the first African American mayor of Charlotte, N.C.  Then in March the Beatles released their debut album in the United Kingdom,  Please Please Me.  Had songs such as "I Saw Her Standing There", "Love Me Do", and "Twist and Shout".  A year later it was released in the states, but was renamed Introducing ... the Beatles.  It was eventually ranked #39 on the list of 500 greatest albums.  On April 16 Martin Luther King, from his jail cell in Birmingham, wrote a letter to a group of white clergymen.  In is was the famous line, "Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere."  Oh yeah, on May 8th, Sean Connery, as 007, acted in the very first James Bond movie,  Dr. No.  Twenty-three more Bond movies, with 5 different 007s have been released since then.  Can you name half of them?  Can you name a third of them?  On June 10 The Equal Pay Act, which mandated that woman receive the same pay as men for the same job done, was signed into law.  Remember who signed it?  46 years later, the Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act became law, further protecting woman from pay discrimination.  Seems the first act didn't work.  I'm not sure the second one has fully worked either.  Only fair, right!  June was a big month in 1963.  On June 10 President Kennedy mobilized the National Guard troops in Tuscaloosa, Alabama and Governor George Wallace stepped aside, allowing Vivian Malone and James Hood to enter the doorway at the University of Alabama as the first African American students to attend the school.  Following the confrontation, President Kennedy delivered his landmark civil rights address.  Eleven months later the Civil rights Act of 1964 became law.  One of the greatest speeches of my lifetime, "I Have a Dream" speech was delivered in Washington, DC before a crowd of a quarter of million people on the steps of the Lincoln Memorial.  This speech pressured Congress to pass the Civil Rights Bill granting equal opportunity and an end to segregation and discrimination.  But, after 50 years, has it truly worked?  September 15 was the date that the Ku Klux Klan bombed the 16th Street Baptist Church, an African American church in Birmingham, Alabama, and killed four young girls, all under the age of 15.  The first African American to win an Academy Award for Best Actor was Sidney Poitier for his lead roll in the movie Lillies of the Field which opened on October 1.  And, one of the saddest moments of my lifetime happened on November 22 of 1963.  Do you remember where you were when President John F. Kennedy was assassinated while riding in a motorcade through Dallas.  I was working at the Acme Supermarket, just having started my shift, when the news came over the loud-speaker that the President had been shot.  People were crying, some sitting in the aisles not knowing what to do.  Unbelievable day for everyone. Aboard Air Force One in Dallas, Vice President Lyndon B. Johnson was sworn in as the new US President.  Two days later, Lee Harvey Oswald, the accused assassin, was murdered by Jack Ruby.  I can still remember watching on TV when Oswald was  being transported from police headquarters to the  county jail when Jack Rubenstein ran out from the crowd in the underground tunnel and shot Oswald.  I don't even need the video which follows to help me see Ruby run from the right and stick the gun into Oswald and pull the trigger.  It's been almost 50 years now, but for me it's as if it happened yesterday.  Some still believe that Oswald had help.  If that's so, it will probably go to the grave with the person or persons responsible.  What a year 1963 had been.  I remember it well.  How about you?  It was another extraordinary day in the life of an ordinary guy.

Wednesday, January 23, 2013

The "The Shoe Is On The Other Foot" Story

It was an ordinary day.  My wife Carol and I are discussing what we will do when we feel it is too much work to maintain our house.  Lawn mowing, weeding, watering the flowers, staining the house, snow shoveling, laundry, vacuuming, dishes, cooking, and whatever else may be added to the list are all chores that have to be done in order to ensure that our house is livable and in good order.  So, what do we do?  Well, I'm not at the stage where I want to give up all those jobs.  I enjoy riding the mower over the acre of ground we have and I don't mind weeding the flower beds.  But, I absolutely hate raking leaves.  To combat that responsibility I have a bagger for my mower and I rake the leaves with my mower.  Works pretty well and takes care of that terrible chore.  And the snow shoveling; well, we just wait until the sun has come out and melted the snow.  No big deal.  But, just in case one of us can't physically do the chores, what do we do.  We have talked about retirement homes such as the one that my mom and dad were in for years.  Nice small community that does most all the chores for you.  All you have to do is get up, eat, read, watch TV, visit with neighbors and go to bed.  I could handle that, but not yet.  Then Carol starts with ...... "If you die before I do, I think I would sell the house and move in with one of the kids.  Tad has that huge house with two extra bedrooms.  It would work out fine since he is on night shift.  Or maybe I could move in with Brynn.  Stay in the extra bedroom that we now use when we visit over weekends."  Now it is time for me to interrupt her.  "OK, but what if Tad doesn't want you and feels uncomfortable telling you that.  Are you prepared for all the noise and commotion at Brynn's place with the grandkids.  You wouldn't be able to watch MSNBC as often as you do now."  What would you do if you were faced with not having the finances and had to move in with one of your kids?  Would they take you?  Suppose they did.  What would be the issues that you would have to worry about.  I read a story somewhere a few months ago about When Parents Move In With Kids.  They talked about the three main issues that are the most important: financial arrangements, duties, and privacy.  You should initiate the talks about the financial arrangements, not the child.  Set the amount that you will give them monthly to help pay for your stay at their home.  Make sure it is fair to them as well as you.  Don't make it a written contract though, because if you do they will have to claim those payments as taxable income giving rise to Social Security and unemployment taxes as well as workers' compensation.  May be best to have an elder-law lawyer sit with you and your child to make sure you both are doing the right thing.  As far as the arrangements go, make sure you spend time discussing and maybe even writing down what you and what your child will be responsible for in your new "home."   Do you do the cooking, can you bring your cat with you, will you still be driving, what TV shows will you be watching ...... all questions that need to be answered BEFORE the move in with the child.  And finally, your privacy.  Do you have a room to yourself with a chair and TV as well as a bed.  Will you have your own private bathroom.  Would it be best to add on to their house so you have a larger and more private space and naturally pay for the renovations.  And one of the biggest questions ..... what about bringing friends into the house to watch TV with you or even stay overnight.  And can it be a friend of the opposite sex.  And how does your child feel about you and sex in their house.  Finally, the shoe is on the other foot!!  And, what are you plan to do about it?  It was another extraordinary day in the life of an ordinary guy.

Tuesday, January 22, 2013

The "Photo Browsing" Story

It was an ordinary day.  Adding a few more photos to my "Pinterest" page.  I wrote a story about "Pinterest" a few weeks ago and how much fun it is to see photos that others have posted from  all over the world.  Actually you can share recipes, decorating tips, quotes, etc. along with the photo of whatever category holds your interest.  Are you starting to get the idea that "Pinterest" really is "Interest" with a "P" in front of it.  I now have almost 3,000 entries or photos on my page.  My page was actually started by my wife Carol.  Since she didn't have a photo of herself that she liked, she used the photo that I have been using for this blog and presto, she had a "Pinterest" page or account with my photo on it.  Last night, instead of watching TV I sat in front of my 21 inch iMac screen and added a few more photos from other people all over the world.  Then I went through a few of the 21 boards or categories that Carol and I have and picked a few to share with you so you can see what you can do if you would like to join in the fun.  Just "Google" Pinterest and you're on your way.  Hope you enjoy some of the photos that I have added in the last year or so.  It was another extraordinary day in the life of an ordinary guy.

Monday, January 21, 2013

The "Iron-On Patches" Story

Camille with her patches
It was an ordinary day.  Watching Rocco run around the living room in his Brownie vest, showing off for anyone who will look at him.  Rocco is the pet dog of my daughter Brynn and her family and his vest is a Brownie vest that is no longer needed in the household.  I am sitting with my granddaughter Camille who is explaining to me what all the iron-on patches mean that are on her new vest.  You did get what I just wrote, about the patches being iron-on.  For all you mothers, and perhaps fathers, who spent hour after hour sewing patches onto Brownie, Cub Scout, Girl Scout and Boy Scout uniforms, you would really appreciate the new iron-patches that I am looking at right now.  Well, 'Mille, as we fondly call her,  is pointing out the "Postcard" patch that she got for a program she attended where they mailed postcards to girls in other places.  She mailed her postcard to Sweden, since one of the other girls in her troop was born in Sweden and she thought it would be nice to send a card to that location.  Then she explained to me about the "Book Drive" patch that she has which she received for donating her personal books to a drive for other children so they too will be able to read.  She was pretty excited about the 20 plus books she gave for the drive. Thought I would take some photos of her and her vest so I grabbed my camera and started to focus.  That's when I found out that the battery was exhausted and I forgot to bring another battery with me.  No problem, I took my SD card from my camera and popped it in Camille's small camera.  Just a point and shoot, but that's all I need for this photo shoot.  Other patches that she pointed out to me were the "Friendmaker" patch which she got for making friends with other troops, "Cooking" patch she got for learning how to make mac and cheese, "Tea Party" patch she got for going to a tea party and having tea and pizza, "Project Linus" patch she got for making blankets for the less fortunate, "Ear of Corn" patch she got for visiting a farm and learning about the crops and animals, "Sleepover" patch for attending a sleepover with other Brownies, and the list goes on and on.  The Brownies seem to give patches for just about everything from arriving early for sign-up to celebrating Halloween.  And, boy is she proud of the patches.  She went on and on with elaborate stories about just about every patch including the patch she is going to get for selling me Girl Scout cookies today.  Yep, I bought 8 boxes including 2 of the thin mints which is the most popular cookie sold.  I'm anxious to see what the patch will look like on her vest.  I may even get the chance to iron it on if I happen to be visiting when she receives it.  It was another extraordinary day in the life of an ordinary guy.
Rocco with his vest 

Sunday, January 20, 2013

The "Meatloaf Paradise" Story

It was an ordinary day.  Watching TV when the phone rang.  It was my son Derek on the other end wanting to know if I happened to be watching The Travel Channel's "Meatloaf Paradise."  Told me that they had just featured the Neptune Diner as one of the eight best places in the country to get meatloaf.  The Neptune is located on Prince Street in Lancaster about a block from where I grew up.  Didn't eat there much when I was a kid, since mom and dad didn't have the money to eat out often.  Mom cooked all the meals at home and boy did she make a great meatloaf.  Topped it with BBQ sauce and bacon strips, sometimes adding cheese to the top of that.  Well, the Neptune is known for their Pennsylvania Dutch favorites such as made-from-scratch apple dumplings and shoofly pie, but it's their famous meatloaf that brings the locals out in droves according to The Travel Channel.  Derek and I made arrangements for him and his family to stop and pick Carol and I up and head to the diner for supper.  Wasn't sure if we should call and make reservations since the show had just been featured on TV, but decided we'd take a chance and hope they had 5 chairs for us.  Arrived just after dark and found a parking space in the almost empty parking lot next to the diner.  The fluorescence lights of the old-time diner illuminated Prince Street in a carnival-like atmosphere.  Headed to the door and found that we were not going to have a hard time finding a place to sit.  Young girl ushered us to our seats in the back room of the diner which was decorated in a 50's style theme with photos of old diners with classic cars in front of them and stars featuring the likes of Marilyn Monroe, James Dean, and even Elvis lounging on the chairs.  The black and white tile floor reminded me of diners of by-gone eras which were famous for their greasy-spoon eating establishments.  Even though I have eaten here before, it still brings back memories of living in the neighborhood years ago and stopping for a milkshake in the summer during vacation.  I wouldn't classify the Neptune as a "greasy-spoon" diner, but not far from it.  The menu was unbelievable with easily over 100 items.  I came here for meatloaf so I chose the Meatloaf Stack which said it was Tony's old fashion recipe with beef gravy, mashed potatoes, onion rings, mushrooms and cheddar cheese.  I chose my without the mushrooms.  Derek looked at me and smiled and ordered the same, but with mushrooms.  My wife, daughter-in-law and grandson chose burgers, not wanting to have the best meatloaf on the globe before seeing how we could handle it.  The diner is owned and operated by Tony Mountis and his family of Lancaster.  I had Tony's son Alex as a high school student in the early 90s as well as knowing his other son Gus and daughter Stella who also went to high school where I taught.  Alex was featured on the "Meatloaf Paradise" episode while Gus was featured cooking scrapple on another episode The Travel Channel broadcasted a few years ago.  Our meal arrived and I looked at the plate in front of me and wondered if I could eat everything as well as wondering if I would still be alive when I was done.  The fat and cholesterol just oozed from the plate.  Grabbed my knife and fork and starting cutting one of the pieces of meatloaf.  Then Carol said, "I thought you were going to take a photo of your meal before you ate it."  Put the the utensils on my plate and reached for my camera.  Hustled through the shot and headed back towards the plate.  After a few bites I offered Carol a piece which she accepted.  Watched her eat it and looked at her for her response to the famous meatloaf.  But, she beat me to it with, "What do you think?"  I gave her my honest opinion ....... "Not my favorite!"  You know, it was good, but I think the cheeze-whiz, or whatever they draped over the meatloaf, ruined it for me.  I have made meatloaf myself for years and I must admit my pepper meatloaf was much better ..... at least to me.  Carol's meatloaf is way better, also.  Well, we finished eating and someone stopped to ask how we enjoyed our meal.  I faintly recognized her and asked her if Alex was working.  She told me that her brother was off for the evening.  Ah ha, must be Stella.  Introduced myself and the family and we talked for about 15 minutes about the show and how many people were having meatloaf tonight.  Had to triple the amount of meatloaf they made ever since the show aired.  Told her to say "Hi" to Alex for me and we headed to the front door to pay our bill.  Standing at the cash register was a fellow that looked to be my age, but with hair.  Had the same features as how I remember Alex looked as a student as well as our new friend Stella so introduced myself again and it was Tony, the famous person for whom the meatloaf was named.  I was going to ask him to visit with me some day and try really good meatloaf, but declined to do so, as my wife was listening to my every word and I didn't want someone poking me in the ribs.  Fun evening and we will return again ..... when they are featured again on TV or maybe for one of those good old milkshakes I remember from my childhood.  Yeah, that's while I'll stop for soon.  It was another extraordinary day in the life of an ordinary guy.   PS - check out the photos from the diner.

Interior of the back room with signs, photos and black and white tile on walls and floor.

Cover of the 8-page menu. 

Tony's Meatloaf Stack.

Photo I found showing the interior of the main dining room at the Neptune Diner.

Saturday, January 19, 2013

The "National Geography Bee" Story

Bill, former student and
moderator of the competition
It was an ordinary day.  Sitting in the auditorium waiting to take photos of the Geography Bee competition at the Manheim Township Middle School in Lancaster, PA.  Have been planning, photographing and laying out the middle school yearbook since 1999 when I retired from teaching at Manheim Township High School.  I did the high school yearbook for 29 years and when I retired offered to continue with the yearbook, but the high school principal opted to find someone who was still teaching.  The following day I got a call from Bob, principal of the middle school telling me that he heard that I am not going to be doing the yearbook anymore at the high school and offering me the middle school book.  He told me to name the price and I could have the job.  Wow!  Well, I guess I didn't scare him off with my price and I have been with the middle school ever since.  This year the school district revamped their schools and took the 6th graders out of the middle school, which was grades 6, 7, and 8, and put them in a newly built school with the 5th grade and called it the Landis Run Intermediate School.  The middle school evidently thought I did a good job on their yearbook so the principal of the intermediate school asked me to do their book also.  The Geography Bee has been a part of the middle school for as long as I have done their book.  Each year thousands of schools in the United States participate in the National Geographic Bee using materials prepared by the National Geographic Society. The contest is designed to encourage teachers to include geography in their classrooms, spark student interest in the subject, and increase public awareness about geography. Schools with students in grades four through eight are eligible for this entertaining and challenging test of geographic knowledge.  As I sat in the empty auditorium I counted 10 chairs spread across the stage with a lectern on the left and a small table on the right.  Within minutes the tone sounded for changing of classes and the students and teachers entered the auditorium.  Bill Ziegler, a former student of mine in high school and now a teacher at the middle school greeted me, gave me the 15 page instructions and questions from the National Geographic Society and told me about the competition.  Bill has been the moderator for quite a few years now.  Shortly later I was greeted by Dave Cooper who has been the coordinator of the competition for many years.  We talked about when I could take photos as three of the students took seats in the chairs.  These three had tied for two spots and they had to have an elimination round.  After two questions were given, one student was eliminated and the rest of the students filled the remaining empty chairs.  One teacher acted as the timer while two others kept track of missed questions.  Dave and a fellow teacher were the judges for the competition.  Bill began with an introduction which was printed on the first sheet of the instructions.  Then the competition began.  Question #1 was given: "The sources of the Snake and Yellowstone Rivers are in what major mountain range?" The young girl closest to Bill gave her answer orally. "Incorrect," Bill answered.  "The correct answer is the Rocky Mountains,"  Then the next student received a question until all 10 had be quizzed. Round 1 was over.  Students were eliminated after they had answered 2 questions incorrectly.  The rounds continued, some in oral manner and some written.  Quickly the contestants were eliminated until there were 5 remaining.  This competition awards prizes for 1st, 2nd and 3rd place with the 1st and 2nd place winners advancing to the state level.  The next question was posed by Bill to the five: "The Ice Age National Scenic Trail passes through which state that borders Illinois and Iowa?"  Four of the five answered the question incorrectly and since it was the second miss for all four, they were all eliminated.  Since that left only one and there had to be three winners, the four were asked: "A scenic trail passes through which state that borders Utah and California?"  Now we were down to three, but since a winner had been established before the last question, the two that had remained from the last question were given: "The Pacific Crest National Scenic Trial has its southern end in which state?" At last a 2nd and 3rd place were reached.  The 3rd place winner was asked to leave the stage and remaining was Bryce and MacGregor whose slates were wiped clean and a final competition was begun.  Both could afford to miss one question and not be eliminated as it was before.  Question #1: Bill read "The town of Bozeman, known for its ranchers, artists, and trout fishing, is located north of Yellowstone National park in what state?" One answered correctly, one did not.  Question #2: Name the large chain of volcanic islands that stretch about 1,200 miles westward from the Alaska Peninsula?"  Wow, tough questions!  Both answered incorrectly, but since Bryce had answered the first question correctly, he won the competition.  After congratulating each other, prizes were awarded by Mr. Cooper to the top three.  I must admit that I was stumped on quite a few of the questions which were asked of nine 7th grade students and one 8th grader.  These kids were great!  This is one of my favorite assignments that I do every year in order to have a group photo and  a photo of the top 3.  In my book, all are winners.  It was another extraordinary day in the life of an ordinary guy.  PS - photos were taken for the yearbook as well as a few others which follow. 

The Winner, Bryce Katch.
Congratulatory handshake.
Prizes awarded to Dan Nguyen (3rd), Bryce Katch (1st), and MacGregor Henrichsen (2nd)

Friday, January 18, 2013

The "My Soapbox Warning" Story

City of Venice with it's flooding

It was an ordinary day.  Reading more and more stuff about global warming and realizing that if you don't believe that global warming is one of the most important problems in our lifetime, you must be living in a vacuum.  I have believed for many years that we have been polluting our air with all the cars, trucks and buses that are on the roadway.  In 2007 it really got me thinking when, while visiting the island of Venice, Italy and while talking to one of the tour guides, she told me that most of the people who live on Venice own a pair of high-topped boots.  After questioning her about why, she responded by telling me that often the high tides will flood some of the streets on the island.  Also told me that it wasn't that way 25 to 30 years ago.  She truly believes that the melting of the ice in Antarctica will eventually lead to the destruction of Venice, Italy.  Wow!!  More and more I find myself thinking about what she shared or should I say warned me about and then recently I read about the predictions for our planet if we don't stop the harmful emissions we are emitting into the air.  By the year 2100 our sea levels could rise between three to six FEET because of Antarctica's rapid ice melt.  I realize that quite a few of us won't be here at that time, but that's not a reason to not be concerned for future generations.   Antarctica's ice cap holds 70% of the freshwater on the Earth and if it totally melts the oceans could rise 187 feet, decimating entire island nations.  Now I know these are only numbers, but it has to make you think.  Poor Venice would be gone!  In 1900 Piazza San Marco, Venice's central square, flooded seven times while in 2002, eleven years ago, the number jumped to 108.  No wonder the citizens of this historic island all have boots!  I also read that floodgates are scheduled to be built around the city, but they're not scheduled to begin until 2015.  I also read a prediction that in 2040 we could see the soil conditions in the world's most prestigious wine regions from Bordeaux, France to Napa Valley, California change because of the rising temperatures in our world.  If the average temperature jumps two degrees in the next 30 years, the change in the soil conditions would change the balance of sweetness and acidity crucial to good wine.  In 2030 55% or the Amazon's 1.4 billion acres of rain forests could be gone and with it the 140 billion metric tons of carbon which help stabilize the global climate.  Not only that, but the increased carbon dioxide emissions we are polluting the earth with is causing glaciers in the Alps to melt rapidly and they too could be gone as early as 2030.  Within 7 years the Great Barrier Reef in Australia, which is the world's largest and most diverse reef system, is in danger of becoming extinct if we don't reduce the global CO2 emissions by at least 25%.  I know some people don't believe any of this, but it is true!  How many of you have bought a CO2 alarm for your home to check for too high an emission discharge in your home.  Did you ever hear of these alarms 25 years ago?  I keep thinking that I have to get a car soon that will stop putting so much pollution into the air.  We all need to stop polluting our environment.  Someday soon you may become more aware of it, if you aren't right now, and we all have to hope it's not too late!!  I keep thinking of that girl in Venice who was so nice to me and hope she will live to see her island saved from destruction.  It was an extraordinary day in the life of an ordinary guy.

Thursday, January 17, 2013

The ".....and the fat Lady sings" Story

It was an ordinary day.  Reading about the Philadelphia Flyers fans having no hard feeling against their professional hockey team, even after their lock-out with management at the beginning to this season.  The 2012–13 NHL lockout was a labour dispute that began at 11:59 pm EDT on September 15, 2012, and ended at 4:45 am EST on January 6, 2013, lasting 113 days. Last weekend the team began practice for this season and over 2,000 fans showed up at their training complex in New Jersey.  The usual 82 game season will be reduced to 48 games with the first game on January 19.  The players should be in hockey shape, since most have played in other countries or in minor leagues in the US since the start of the lock-out.  The fans, vendors and others who depend on the full season are the real losers in this lock-out.  The players and team owners still walk away with a fantastic amount of money.  Carol and I used to watch the Flyers all the time when our youngest son was playing ice hockey throughout middle and high school.  It was during this time, specifically the 1972-1973 season, that the Flyers shed the mediocre expansion team label and became the intimidating Broad Street Bullies.  Fun to watch Bernie Parent, Dave Shultz, and Rick MacLeish as they started Philadelphia on a winning tradition that lasted years.  But, the players weren't the only thing that we like to watch when we tuned in the Flyers games on our TV.  We enjoyed the singing of "God Bless America" by the vocalist with the voice that could fill the arena.  Kate Smith was a fan favorite and theFlyers made sure they included her singing at the beginning of the game on many occasions.  It was on December 11, 1969 that the Flyers played her rendition of "God Bless America" for the first time and an unusual part of her career began.  The team began to play the song before home games every once in a while and it seemed that the team was more successful when she sang.  At the Flyer's home opener against the Toronto Maple Leafs on October 11, 1973 she made a surprise appearance to perform the song in person and receive a tremendous ovation.  The Flyers won that game by a 2-0 score and the tradition grew.  She again performed the song at the Spectrum in front of a capacity crowd of 17,007 fans before Game 6 of the Stanley Finals on May 19, 1974 against the Boston Bruins and led to back-to-back Stanley Cups. Loved her singing as well as the game that night.  The Flyers' record when "God Bless America is played or sung is a remarkable 94 wins, 26 losses and 4 ties as of April 26, 2001.  I cannot find any records since then to share with you.  One fan even said online about the beginning of a game when she appears that "it ain't begun 'til the fat lady sings!  However for the opponent, it's over."  Kate Smith and her voice still remains special to Carol and me and remain a special part of Flyers' history.  In 1987, a year after her death, the Flyers erected a statue of Smith outside the Spectrum.  Something that they didn't do for many of their best players.  The Flyers occasionally still show a video of her singing "God Bless America" in lieu of the "Star Spangled Banner' for good luck before important games.  They have also begun projecting her image onto their large screen at the beginning of games to have her and Lauren Hart, daughter of the late Hockey Hall of Fame broadcaster Gene Hart, sing a duet of "God Bless America."  Pretty inspiring to say the least!  Hockey back then was more than just money, it was a culture.  It was another extraordinary day in the life of an ordinary guy.


Wednesday, January 16, 2013

The "Gettin' The Double Dose" Story

The red double dose!
It was an ordinary day.  Reading in the paper about the tremendous amount of people who have the flu this winter.  One of the worst outbreaks of the disease in over 10 years.  Two people have already died in Lancaster, PA.  Both were over the age of 60 which is considered one of the two "most at risk" groups with children being the other.  Carol and I didn't want to chance it this year being that I had a round of shingles which started last April and are still lingering in my body and Carol had a bout of mono around Labor Day.  Since our immune systems are on the low end of fighting just about any disease, we called our family doctor and scheduled flu shots.  While on the phone with him he told me that he was going to give us the double dose which he usually recommends for adults over age 65.  I questioned him if that may give us flu twice as fast and he assured me it wouldn't.  Well, shot day came and Carol and I traveled to Lancaster Internal Medicine on Cherry Street in Lancaster.  Located right around the corner from where I grew up as a child, not that it makes any difference.  We checked in, gave the receptionist our insurance cards and headed to the waiting room.  Told Carol not to touch a thing including the magazines and the arms of the chairs.  More than likely someone with the flu virus had just left and had sat in these same chairs and had read a magazine while leaning on the arm of the chair.  We sat straight up with our hands in our laps, making sure that we didn't touch anything with our bare skin.  Laughed the entire time at how silly we looked, but at least we weren't going to leave today with the flu.  Finally the nurse came and wanted to know what was so funny.  Gave her some reason and off we went to the "shot room."  I went first and when she got out the needle I asked her what the difference was between the single dose and the double dose.  She looked at me and said, "Twice the amount."  OK.  Then she said, "I'm only giving you the single dose today."  "Wait a minute," I responded.  "Dr. Sanchez told me that since both of us have been ill in the past few months with diseases that are hard to shake that we should receive the double dose.  Besides we are both over 65 years old and in the group that gets the flu a lot easier."  Off she went to see the doctor and in a few minutes came back with the bigger needles.  "Whoa, that certainly is a double dose," I said while looking at what she was going to put in my arm.  "Are you sure this won't give me the flu!" I asked her.  "No, the virus is dead that is in the serum," she responded.  "I certainly hope so or I'll be back here real quick," I shot back.  Carol and I both got our injections and had no problems.  At times Carol will get ill and blame it on the shot, but not this time.  After reading about all the problems with the flu this year I'm sure glad we got our shots and especially that we got the double dose.  It was another extraordinary day in the life of an ordinary guy.

Tuesday, January 15, 2013

The "Marking a 2013 Calendar" Story

It was an ordinary day.  Going through my date book for 2013 and marking some of the odd observances that the "Centre Daily Times" out of State College, PA has recommended that I mark.  These are dates that are in addition to the usual holidays and family dates such as birthdays, wedding anniversaries and of course vacations.  I'm sure you have heard of most of these, but just in case you haven't, I'll remind you of the exact dates so you too can mark your calendar.

  • JANUARY - 3: Fruitcake Toss Day. Time to finally throw away the old fruitcake; 6: Bean Day. Ham and Bean soup, Chili, etc.....love 'em all.  7: Old Rock Day.  Maybe you could start a collection; 8: National Bubble Bath Day. Share one with your partner; 20: Inauguration Day.  Doesn't everyone mark this date?  Happens to be on a Sunday this year so the public celebration will take place on the 21st; 23: Measure your feet day.  I know a few people who have two different sized feet.  They also have a few other screwy things about them.  This is also National Hobby Month
  • FEBRUARY 3: The Day The Music Died Day.  Buddy Holly, Richie Valens and the Big Bopper died on this day in 1959 in a plane crash. 10: Chinese New Year and the Year of the Snake; 13: Get A Different Name Day.  If you really hate your name you can be called something entirely different today; 14: Ferris Wheel Day.  Just love the thrill; 23: International Dog Biscuit Appreciation Day.  Hey, that's what it says in the newspaper so you know it is fact; 27: National No-Brainer Day.  Designed for the simple minded. 
  • MARCH 2: National Old Stuff Day.  And, boy do I have plenty of that; 6: Oreo Cookie Day.  Oreos were sold for the first time in 1912; 14: Pi Day.  Not the kind you can eat, but the math Pi (3.14..........);  23: National Chip and Dip Day.  No double-dippin' please, Courtney; 31: Bunsen Burner Day.  Gotta remember remember those science classes in high school!  Had to add that this is National Peanut Month.
  • APRIL - 3: Ice Cream Sundae Day.  This is allegedly the day that the first ice cream sundae was made in New York 120 years ago today; 11: National Barbershop Quartet Day.  My dad was one of the best there was.  Could have been a pro had he had the backing;  17: National Cheeseball Day.  My buddy Jerry loves this day.  Eat a few for me;  25: Take Your Son Or Daughter To Work Day. 27: National Babe Ruth Day.  One of the best ever; 30: National Honesty Day.  No kidding!
  • MAY - 3: Lumpy Rug Day.  Don't you just hate them; 5: National Oyster Day.  I enjoy them any way but raw; 12: Mother's Day.  I know it is probably on every calendar printed, but I just wanted to remind you.  Don't dare forget your mother.  She made you what you are; 18: International Museum Day.  Visit a museum near you and give a donation; 23: Margaret Wise Brown Day.  The author of one of the most favorite children's book "Goodnight Moon."  I read it many, many times!  And it's National Photograph Month.  Record something for history. 
  • JUNE - 1: National Flip A Coin Day.  Good way to settle any argument;  6: National Yo-Yo Day; 16: Father's Day.  See what I typed for May 12; 25 - Leon Day.  Leon is Noel spelled backwards and I wanted to let you know you have  six months to get your shopping done.  29: Camera Day.  My favorite hobby.  I might add that this is National Accordion Awareness Month.  Loved playing my 120 bass beauty.
  • JULY - 3: National Stay Out Of The Sun Day.  Ever notice that the beaches are empty this day.  Not!; 8: Liberty Bell Day.  The Liberty bell cracked on this day in 1835 when it was being rung; 14: National Nude Day.  Make sure you do your part and enjoy your outside space au naturale; 15: Tapioca Pudding Day.  I just love the stuff. 19: Stick Out Your Tongue Day. This is a really dumb day and probably one you can forget; 20: Moon Day. Today marks the 44th anniversary of Neil Armstrong becoming the first person to walk on the moon.  Don't you wish it was you who did it first; 22: National Hammock Day.  Someday I'll have one on my deck; 30: National Father-In-Law Day.  Hear that Barb and Dave.  I have to tell you that this is one of my favorite months, since it National Ice Cream Month.
  • AUGUST - 1: Respect for Parents Day.  This day is to emphasize respect for parents, something that should be done every day.  That is for all ages, kids to adults; 4: National Sister's Day.  Many times I wish I would have had a sister; 9: National Book Lover's Day.  Doesn't matter if it's paper or electronic; 11: Play In The Sand Day.  May have to plan a vacation to the beach for this day; 13: National Left-Hander's Day.  This one's for you, Derek; 20: World Mosquito Day. Not sure if you should ignore or swat one though.
  • SEPTEMBER - 5: National Cheese Pizza Day; 9: Somebody's Birthday Day. Guess who; 14: National Cream-Filled Donut Day.  I knew they had to declare this day just for me; 19: Talk Like A Pirate Day.  Ahoy, matey!  Now where does this stuff come from; 17: National Apple Dumplin' Day.  I do like peach dumplings almost as much; 23: Nintendo Day.  Nintendo was founded on this date in 1889.  The first product wasn't the Wii.  It was playing cards.  Remember?  And, this month is National Little League Month.  Williamsport, PA loves it.
  • OCTOBER - l: Homemade Cookies Day & World Vegetarian Day.  A double whammy day.  So, why not make oatmeal raisin cookies in honor of both; 7: World Smile Day. You know you can do it; 14: Be Bald and Free Day. Love it!!!; 15: National Grouch Day. I'll bypass this one and here's hoping you do too; 28: The Statue of Liberty Day.  On this date in 1886 the "Masterpiece of the Human Spirit" was dedicated.
  • NOVEMBER - 5: National Gunpowder Day.  Too bad this had to be; 15: Pack Your Mom Lunch Day. Be sure to add some chocolate; 17: Homemade Bread Day & Take A Hike Day. Pack some grub and hit the trail; Marc Brown Day.  The American author of numerous children's books was born on this date in 1946.  Hey Jerry, it's National Model Railroad Month.
  • DECEMBER - 1: Eat A Red Apple Day.  Maybe one for the teacher would be nice; 5: National Bathtub Party Day.  Count me in; 12: National Ding-A-Ling Day.  And, boy we have plenty of them to go around; 13: National Cocoa Day.  One of my favorites!  I'll have to make a cup of hot chocolate and have a few of my wife's Snickerdoodles for dunking; 23: Festivus.  It's for the rest of us, you know; 31: New Year's Eve.  We celebrate another year with a toast to the New Year.
Well, I have come to the end of the year with dates that I found just about every place and from everyone.  Find your favorite to celebrate?  I know I have.  It was another extraordinary day in the life of an ordinary guy.