I am pining for the fjords. That’s a Monty Python reference. It doesn’t mean I’m Scandinavian. Anyway, I’ve been away from home for almost 5 weeks now and I am definitely ready to go home. You know how it is, you love being away on vacation but at the end you are so ready to return to your routine and be among your familiar things.

This vacation has had its ups and downs. The biggest down being John falling down and breaking his collarbone. But I think I’ve complained enough about that. I will never make a very good nurse. On the up side, the weather here in Marco has been really nice. We played some tennis, went to the beach, swam in the pool, made friends at the wine shop and visited with both my sisters. We went to see John’s dad in Pompano Beach. He’ll be 93 in April. Setting aside that there are too many people with too much time on their hands driving around, this is a pretty nice place to be.

But after being away for all this time, I miss Ryan, Jon and Sarah very, very much. I’m really looking forward to Little Bruno’s arrival at the end of the month. On a smaller scale, I miss the mountains and the greenness of winter in California. I miss the wonderful produce and the stores not jammed with senior citizens endlessly debating over what to buy. I’m just like Dorothy, Oz is a great place to visit but there’s no place like home. I’m pining for the fjords.



My sister, Peggy, came to visit. You know, the one who fell up the steps in A Fable in Two Parts: The Accidents. Anyhow, we were celebrating the visit and having margaritas that John made to the specifications of the Earl Gilmore Memorial Margarita (recipe here.) So they were quite tasty and my sister suggested we have another. One thing I know is that I can only drink one of these but I was pulled in by the dark side of the force and told John to go ahead and make another round. So today I have been feeling under par and didn’t get around to writing a thoughtful blog entry. Tomorrow for sure.



According to a NASA official, researchers have calculated that 2005 produced the highest annual average surface temperature worldwide since they began keeping records in the late 1800s. Now this may be due to normal flucuations, global warming or, perhaps, so many baby boomer women reaching menopause. Whatever you think, the Chinese have found an innovative way of checking the recent temperature increases.

Researchers, writing in this month’s edition of Geophysical Research Letters, found that the amount of solar radiation measured at more than 500 stations in China fell from 1954 to 2001 despite a decrease in cloud cover. Usually more sunny days means an increase in temperature. But the amount of pollution over Chinese skies has deflected and absorbed some of the sun’s rays and the temperatures in China have actually declined.

Recent administration backed legislation in Congress supports a new “Clear Skies Act.” Environmentalists are up in arms about the new act because they feel it is a sweetheart deal for industry polluters, weakening and eliminating numerous sections of the Clean Air Act. However, and I am saying this tongue-in-cheek, the new standards are a logical response to the cutting edge technology that the Chinese are using to combat global warming.



For other modern fables see The Bird and the Fry and The Stump and Two Determined Men.


Once upon a time there was a husband who was named John. John was tall and athletic. He liked to compete. By chance, two people asked John if he and his wife would like to play mixed doubles at the tennis courts at the YMCA.

“Oh no,” his wife said. “I have a terrible serve and do not play well.”

“Nonsense,” he said.

So they went to play. Back and forth they hit the ball, John taking most of the shots because of his superior ability. They lost the first set even though he tried hard. They switched partners. This time John won because he was not playing with his wife. But there was unhappiness. Finally they played together again.

“We will do better this time, now that we are warmed up,” John declared.

All over the court he sprinted taking as many shots as possible. Finally a ball came flying over and he went to retrieve it with his very showy running forehand. But his feet slipped.

“Uh oh”, he said to himself, “I am falling. I must execute my famous tuck and roll which I learned as a young lad.”

But alas, the tuck did not quite happen. What did happen was much blood and a broken bone.

(Moral to follow Part Two)


Once upon a time there was a sister named Peggy. On a cold and windy day in Maryland, Peggy went out to fetch the mail.

“Br-r-r-r,” she said. “It is mightily cold out here. I should have worn my coat!”

But, alas , she had not worn her coat and wanted to get back into the house as quickly as possible.

Up the driveway at a jog, she ran. Onto the sidewalk and to the steps leading up to the front door.

“I shall just run up these steps and get into the warm house,” she said.

There were only two steps. She jogged up the first one with her right foot. When she lifted her left foot, she did not lift it quite high enough.

“Uh oh,” she thought, “I am tripping!”

Headlong into the pilaster by the front door she went. She hit the top of her head solidly into it.


1) Hard things are no match for soft human tissues and bone.
2) It is better not to try too hard to do something than suffer the consequences.
3) Even though your brain still thinks you are young, sometimes your body just doesn’t believe it.


I think I’ve found the perfect way to watch television. A way that gives you immediate gratification and never leaves you hanging. The answer is simply don’t watch anything that’s on currently, especially anything that looks like it may be a big hit. I’ve already told you how you must have a TiVo and the perfect way to watch television calls for one.

Let me give you an example – in our contrary way, we never watched “er.” So there are seasons of “er” going back to 1995. On TNT’s Primetime in the Daytime, two episodes of “er” are on every weekday in the morning. Every day our TiVo records these two programs and then that evening or maybe some other evening we watch. Sometimes when we have other things to do, we let them build up and then we have an “er” festival. Want to know who George Clooney’s dating in the next episode or whether Dr. Greene will get back with his wife? No need to wait. You can watch them all in a row. We’ve just started on the 1996 season. There’s so much more to see.

In addition, we’re watching CSI, the one from Las Vegas, that’s another one that’s syndicated. And the Amazing Race is just as amazing when you can watch all the episodes one after another. So was I sad when I heard that West Wing has been cancelled after 7 seasons? Not at all. I haven’t watched it yet. But I have to finish “er” first.


Last month I wrote a blog entry suggesting that Americans ought to think a little harder before they let the government invade their privacy with wiretaps. I had some responses that took the position that if I was against government wiretapping without warrants then perhaps I was for the terrorists. Today I am going to suggest that issuing a subpeona to Google to turn over its searches on a random basis is another step down the slippery invasion-of-privacy slope. No doubt this time I’ll be accused of being pro child pornography.

I don’t want the government to know what sites I am looking at even though my searches are perfectly innocent, or at least they appear that way to me. Sometimes I’ve been searching for a specific thing, maybe as a fact for a blog entry, and I’ve ended up in some odd places. It’s not always easy to tell what you’re going to get. The government claims that it’s not going to connect individuals to their searches. But given the recent trend, I’d rather not test that assertion.



When I was kid (oh no, not one of those “when I was kid” blog entries!) one of the exciting times of the year was when the new car models were debuted. For weeks ahead of the debut date, teaser commercials would show the cars under sheets or whizzing by with a close-up of just a tail light. Every year it was an anticipated event. Every year there was some design change – a bigger fin, a different shape of headlight, a new color. Ah, American cars! All form, little substance.

Down here in Marco Island the cars are like a throwback to another era. You see lots of Ford Crown Victorias, Cadillac DeVilles and the like. It must be all the retirees who are still into the big American cars. But if you look out on the highways, and I’ve done this, there are probably at least 10 foreign built cars to every 1 American car. There are still a lot of American trucks but I hear that Toyota is making a big push in that direction. It’s the marketplace at work. Unless American manufacturers can turn out a better product and convince the American people to give them another try, it may be that American cars will end up going the same way as American televisions.



This is actually more of an expose’ on a type of food. While we sitting around at lunch today, my brother-in-law, Gary, explained how cheese doodles are made. Have you ever even thought about what the basic ingredient in a cheese doodle is? I guess I always thought it was rice if I thought about it at all. But no, it’s potato! As the potatoes come down the production line some are shunted off for potato chips and other are destined for doodleland. The doodle potatoes are pulverized, shot through with air to puff them up and then either deep fried for a hearty crunch or baked for a delicate crunch. Then they are coated with the orange stuff which I am sure is not cheese. I am a fan of the hearty crunch and my sister is more of a delicate cruncher. So there’s your snack info for the day.

Note: No actual doodles were harmed during the investigation for this blog.

In an effort to make sure my facts were right, we shopped for Cheez Doodles (the actual correct spelling.) Cheez Doodles are a Wise product. These were not available in our local stores. We bought Cheetos instead. Cheetos are made out of corn! So I am not sure about the composition of Cheez Doodles. Gary said he saw the potato ingredient on Food Network. Does anyone out there have a package of Cheez Doodles to verify the ingredients?



There’s a couple of things happening here. One is that I am now getting all these comments on my website from poker and mortgage places. Just junk. Today there were probably three hundred comments I had to delete. This is really annoying and I wish I knew how to block it.

Second thing. The vacation is not going too well right now. John fell playing tennis and broke his collarbone as well as tearing up his elbow and knee. We spent several hours at Naples Community Hospital on Monday night. He will have to keep his right arm in a sling for at least three weeks with healing taking six to eight weeks. It is really too bad. He is hurting and I am not a good nurse. So I am feeling guilty for feeling grumpy and he is feeling guilty because he is taking responsibility for my grumpiness. I need an attitude transplant. Sorry John.

On a bright note, my younger sister and her husband are visiting this weekend. I am looking forward to seeing them and having a raucous few days. Perhaps she will bring the transplant I need.

Oh, and the people from Zales never called.



I was listening to a piece on NPR this morning about the recent Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas. The buzz word is convergence. The idea behind convergence is to take all your gizmos and incorporate them into one uber-gizmo. That way, in the palm of your hand, you can watch TV and videos, play interactive games, access the internet, keep your appointments straight, make a phone call, take pictures, play all your favorite tunes and make telephone calls. Probably other stuff as well. I have to admit that once I remarked that I’d like a phone that was a PDA as well. There is limited space in my purse for all this stuff. However, according to polls, most people just want a phone that makes a phone call. And does it well. In fact, one of the reasons that iPods have been so spectacularly successful is that they are simple to use, do the job they were designed to do well and look good doing it.

I’m not sure how I feel about the uber-gizmo. Would I use all the features? Would it be too complex for my over 50 brain to figure out? Would I be able to see all the tiny buttons? Would I have to have short fingernails to use it? I guess if this is the way technology is headed then I’ll have to adapt. A lot of people in the generation ahead of mine haven’t learned to use computers and other electronics. I always find it annoying that John’s dad doesn’t have an answering machine and I can’t send him email. I think we all need to make an effort to stay current with the latest technology or, like the typewriter, we’ll be destined to become antiquated ourselves.