Thursday, February 28, 2008

Engineering Question of the Day

Q.) How much does a house weigh ???
A.) Just a tad more than a rural two-lane bridge can hold, apparently.

So Would This Be Covered By House Insurance, Car Insurance , Or, Does It Come Under Roadside Assistance ???

(Click to enlarge each photo and see it in all its glory.)

Wednesday, February 27, 2008

Oh, the English language! Tongue Twister

Three witches watch three Swatch watches. Which Witch watches which Swatch Watch?

Monday, February 25, 2008

An Interesting Experience at Costco

Today while I was at Costco, I stopped at one of those carts where someone was giving away free samples. A Costco employee, an elderly woman, was handing out samples of chicken noodle soup. While I was trying it, a middle-aged woman stopped and starting reading the label on the soup can. She exclaimed, "Oh, my, 40% sodium!" (People often misread this as meaning that the soup is 40% sodium by volume, a ridiculous amount. Rather, this refers to a serving of soup representing 40% of one's daily allowance of sodium.)

I agreed with her calmly, "Oh, that is pretty high." (It is.) The lady who had stated her opinion walked away at that point and the elderly Costco employee then turned her attention to me. She was upset and bitter and told me, "If you don't like the soup, just keep moving! Why do you have to stand there and be nasty about it! Just look at you! You obviously have to lose weight! If you can't have sodium, just don't eat it!" I was surprised, to say the least, and stammered something about, "Hey, I didn't say it in the first place, that lady did." and walked away. Never had anyone at a store talked to me that way (that I can recall).

As I continued to shop, this gnawed at me a little. In the past, I might have let this gnaw away at me for days, but this time I decided to take the bull by the horns, but in my own diplomatic way. I returned to the Costco employee and calmly said, "Do you think it's a good idea to insult your customers? Some people might complain to your managers." She was still upset to a degree that I believed was totally unwarranted by my smaller earlier agreement with the high-sodium lady, and started to lay into me again. She again mentioned my high blood pressure, at which point I had to correct her. My blood pressure has always been in the normal range. I don't have a problem with sodium. She mentioned the weight again and I told her about how much heavier I used to be and that generally I do eat healthy.

She then told me, "My husband used to be heavy, and then he got thin, and now he's not interested in me anymore!"

Wow! You could have knocked me over with a feather! I patted her on the back, told her, "I'm sorry" and wished her well, going on my way. Whatever weight she had put on my shoulders was gone. It was obvious now to me what the root of her anger was.

Now you may say she was completely at fault, that I had no need to defend my low blood pressure or otherwise good health, but I have learned over the years that when someone seems to have it in for me (not that it happens often!), it usually has very little to do with me and mostly with something else going on in his or her life. I felt pretty good. Not only had I thwarted a drive-by insulting, but I also countered it with a calm, reasonable short discussion and a sympathetic ear.

Getting Older...Getting Better

One really cool thing about getting older is that I care less now, sometimes not at all, about what other people think of my tastes in music, movies, or anything else. Last week I had a friend and her two kids, a young lady of 16 and a young man of 21, in my car. The mom and daughter were enjoying the music I was playing in my car, Green Day's "American Idiot", and the young man criticized the song as a bunch of whiners. I laughed! Who cares what other people think of the music I like? As my friend Doug, a true audiophile if I ever met one, told me once, "Music is a personal thing. Nobody can tell you not to like music you like."

I'm only 47 and peer pressure is no longer an issue. I guess when I'm 80, I'll be one of those cranky ones that tell everyone else what to do. When I turn 120, watch out, I'll be impossible to deal with!

Once in a While, My Doggie Surprises Me!

Last night we were getting stuff together for Purple Heart, who came today to pick it all up. They call once a month or so and we usually have something to give them. This time it was clothing, an older TV (still works but no room for it) and other stuff.

Our dog watched us intently. Recently I purchased for him a new dog food bowl. As I took items for Purple Heart outside to the stoop, suddenly he ran inside, grabbed his old bowl, and brought it outside, throwing it onto the stoop. He has NEVER taken his bowl out. It was exactly as if he was saying, "Here, I don't need this anymore, give it to a poor dog in need!"

I just had to take a picture!

Second Follow Up To Rodari School Visit

I received the latest and greatest school newsletter from the Rodari School in Modena, Italy, that I visited last November (see my blog entries on here and here). It's a whopping 37 pages long and 2 of the pages are all about my visit and my sister! Click on the two images to enlarge and read them...that is, IF you can read Italian! Otherwise, just look at the photos. :-)

Sunday, February 24, 2008

The Cutest Animals Ever!

No word are necessary here! Just say awwwww...
(Don't forget to click the photos to enlarge them a little.)

Friday, February 22, 2008

Why I Love New England

It's winter in New England
And the gentle breezes blow,
Seventy miles an hour,
at fifty-two below.
Oh, how I love New England
When the snow's up to your butt.
You take a breath of winter air
and your nose, it freezes shut.
Yes, the weather here is wonderful,
So I guess I'll hang around.
I could never leave New England
'Cause I'm frozen to the ground!!!

Thursday, February 21, 2008

Patti, Jeff, Sushi and Me

Tonight was the night I finally saw my friend Patti and her new husband Jeff! OK, so it's been more than a year since they married but it was the first time I had seen Patti in over two years. We used to work together about 10 years ago and have remained close friends since then, despite the fact that she moved far, far away from me to Orlando! Oh, well, at least I get to come to Orlando once in a while to speak at conferences. In fact, I'll be back in two months to speak at anothe conference.

It was so cool to meet Jeff, too. It turns out he's a real cool guy! I was thinking before I met him how lucky he was to have won Patti's heart, but now I think she ended up lucky too!

My Lunar Eclipse Photos

I'm still in Orlando, Florida and had a pretty good view of the lunar eclipse last night. These are definitely amateur photos I took but I hope you like them.

Monday, February 18, 2008

Wow! A reader for life!

I couldn't find my library card so I went to the library and picked up a new one. I just checked my online status and found to my surprise that my new card doesn't expire for 27 years! I'll be 74 years old by then, about to turn 75. It makes me feel good to know that they trust me to live for at least that long!

Sunday, February 17, 2008


Click on the black image for explosive results!

Thursday, February 14, 2008

Eating in Jail

The Mayo Clinic comprises several buildings. The building in which I'm teaching this week used to be a jail house! They preserved the memory of the jail house by keeping one cell and converting it to a take-our cafe. Yep, only in Minnesota! And maybe in other places too...


Here I am in frigid Rochester, Minnesota, where I'm teaching a class at the Mayo Clinic and where the temperature is like a hundred below zero...OK, it's only about negative five and when the wind kicks up, it's about -25 with the wind chill factor.

These are my friends (and students) Cheryl and Jeanine. Cheryl and her husband Brian like to hold hands while walking out on the frozen tundra so she ordered these interesting mittens called "smittens" in "love"....being smitten with someone. As you can see, each person has a normal mitten and then there's another mitten that they both use at the same time. You can see the close-up below. Interesting, eh? She said she ordered them from Smittens are hand-made in Seattle, Washington. Thank you to my hand models Cheryl and Jeanine!

Valentine's? Christmas?

Ad as seen today on the Web. So which is it? Valentine's Day or Christmas? I'm so confused!

Happy Valentine's Day, everybody! Give everyone you see a big kiss!

Sunday, February 10, 2008

Just eat the first bite and lose weight!

From today's Ask Marilyn column in Parade magazine:

Why does the first bite of a candy bar taste better than subsequent bites?
—Jack Campbell, Oak Ridge, Tenn.

It’s called “sensory adaptation.” The sensitivity of the taste receptors to the stimulus—the candy bar—decreases with more bites. (Smell receptors also are involved.) Your receptors will respond normally to sweeter treats but not to the same one. With the same candy bar, though, the taste receptors will recover rapidly if you rinse your mouth with water between bites.

Friday, February 8, 2008

Government Warning

The Government has issued a warning: do not, under any circumstances, swallow chewing gum. The poor victims you see above did not heed the warning and you can see what happened.

Wednesday, February 6, 2008

Stuck in Atlanta?

It's tragic how multiple tornadoes have devastated the lives of so many yesterday. At this point, they believe the storms have taken 52 lives and hundreds are hurt and a ton of property damage has occurred. I'm in Atlanta, which did not get any tornadoes (they rarely do here) but the weather is nasty. My flight home tonight was supposed to leave at 7:08 pm. I got three updates from UAL, each one about a half hour after the previous. The first one told me that my flight was instead going to leave at 8:57 pm. The second told me my flight is going to leave on time and the third told me that my flight is leaving at 9:10. All this before 1:15 pm today! That means they are really backed up and I don't know if I'm going to get out of here tonight. I'm sitting in the hotel lobby, already checked out, waiting on some Chinese food to be delivered for lunch, and catching up on work. I'm yawning a lot because I haven't slept enough and all I can think of right now is a warm bed in which to sleep!

Why Would You Not Savor The Journey?

When I was 16, I was living in Milan, Italy, and got the opportunity to visit Rome. I went to the Vatican Museums (by myself) and started looking at the works of art on the walls of the museum. The last stop of the museum tour is the Sistine Chapel where Michaelangelo's famous ceiling is found.

While looking at the artwork on the way to the Chapel, I found myself stopped short, transfixed by a painting of an angel, a beautiful lady with angelic wings and robes, the most beautiful lady I had ever seen. I must have stared at that painting for at least a half-hour, probably an hour.

I was then startled to hear an announcement that the museum was closing for the day. What? It was only 4 p.m.! Ah, but I hadn't read the sign that the museum closed at 4 every day.

So I didn't get to see the Sistine Chapel until years later! But I wasn't sorry - I had gotten my fill from the paintings and sculptures I had seen in the hallways of the museum.

The Vatican reported today that 60% of all 4.3 million visitors to the Vatican Museums last year did not stop and look at anything on their way to the Sistine Chapel. The Vatican Museums Director Antonio Paolucci, said that the average walker takes only an an hour and twenty minutes to walk through the whole museum, all the hallways on the way to the Sistine Chapel. Most of these are on tour groups, so right after the Museums, they go to the Forum, the Colloseum, and then a quick visit to Michelangelo's statue of David. Phew!

Monday, February 4, 2008

Atlanta Happenings

Tonight I had the pleasure of having dinner with my friend Katya here in Atlanta. We met a couple of years ago at a conference and have stayed in close touch ever since. That's her in the photos. She's a real cutie, isn't she? She also comments frequently on my blog and I on hers.

Speaking of Katya's blog, quite a good one, that you can find here:

We ate at The Vortex, a place that Katya had heard about before and had always wanted to try. It is well known here for its burgers and there are only two of them, one of them in midtown where we dined, and one downtown.

Believe it or not, this is the first time that Katya has ever had chicken wings! She liked them!

The Vortex is in a wonderfully offbeat neighborhood. I took photos to share with you all. The first two are of the Vortex.

The Junkman's Daughter was a fun-looking place and you got to love the artwork outside.

Same goes for The Psycho Sisters. It's a name that just says "Come on in and we'll treat you right...or perhaps we'll kill you!"

I also like this one-stop shop. I figured if ever I needed some psychiatric care, my back fixed, and my teeth done while my kid gets a check up, this would be the place!