Sunday, July 31, 2005

My Remedy: Newman's Own & Smart H2O

Not feeling too well today. Had a restless night. Must've been something I ate yesterday. May too many pieces of "lender's pizza and coke" or maybe that unidentified "left-over" in the frig. Haven't been able to stray too far away from the "porcelain throne" yet today.

Self- treatment is my first line of defense. Why not a "food remedy" for a "food disorder"? I must need more salt or sodium chloride after last night. How about some "Old Style Picture Show" Microwave Popcorn? This All Natural Newman's Own looks good. It even has its own legend from Col. P.L. "Pops" Newman, "I'll tell you how bad it is. Nobody gets trusted with popcorn - except me. That includes the F.B.I., the I.R.S., Tiffany's and concessionaires of any ilk. A good flick arrives on the local screen, you see ol' Newman scuttling across the lobby with a greasy brown paper bag of this homemade popcorn in one hand and - you guessed it - machete in the other. Who's who lists a lot of one-armed people in my hometown. They got caught trying to muscle their way into my greasy brown paper bag. The way I feel - they got off easy. They should be strung up." Now that's marketing!

Then I need to rehydrate today after approaching the "arid zone" last night. How about another, larger bottle of "Smart Water" I just bought? 33.8 Fl. Oz., 1 litre or 1 Qt. 1.8 oz. Expensive! Hmm...same guage on the side only longer. How pure is your body? Let's see, if I drink it down to here..."cells admit they have an impurity problem"...gulp..."cell seek intervention"...guzzle..."cells check into detox"...slurp..."cells get therapy for toxin withdrawal"...burp..."cells get released from rehab"...chug-a-lug..."cell are cleaner than a christian rock song"..."Cell-ebration!" Now that's imaginative marketing!

I feel better already...not enough to go back to work though. Got to rest up and study for my C.S.P. final exam. Yes, I'm a Certified teacher, might as well be a Certified Sales Professional. Then what everyone is saying will be true, "He's certified!" Bob

Far West Nile Virus

Way back when I was a teenager I had a rather traumatic experience with a persistant mosquito. My folks had just built on a den and one corner of it was my "room" a bed and dresser. It was right next to a window at ground level. I was so excited to have my own "room". We had hot summers also and slept with the windows open. The addition to the house was so new we didn't have screens yet. I was regularly "bugged" by mosquitos. I knew because I could hear very well. I heard their little "high pitched" whins as they hovered for a place to land and suck. One particularly loud one must've been right by my ear. I waited and then slapped hard down on my ear to kill it. Pretty soon are heard its really loud buzzing inside my ear canal. I got up and told my folks. At first they didn't believe me. It was driving me crazy. It hadn't died and wasn't about to yet. It was stuck in there and wouldn't go in any farther and also wouldn't come out. We couldn't see it but I sure could hear it.

Pretty soon it calmed down and only buzzed once in awhile. Needless to say, I didn't get much sleep that night. The next day, I refused to go to school. I persisted in the belief that I had a live bug in there. They finally got an emergency appointment with our regular G.P. (no urgent care clinics in those days). He went in there with a long-nosed tweezers and sure enough, pulled out a big glob of wax and what was left of a little "female sucker" who had buzzer herself to death. I took it, in a little medicine container, back to school to show and tell and as proof why I had been out half a day.

Now I'm seeing this full page, color display in the Press-Enterprise yesterday on this scary virus. It is full of diagrams, facts and figures. Quite impressive. It has the bugs life cycle and the reason only females need the blood. They spread this sometimes deadly virus from infected birds, horses or house pets. It has a history since 1937 when the first case was isolated in an adult woman in the West Nile district of Uganda. It was next noticed in Israel, Egypt and France in the 60's. The first appearance in the U.S. was in New York City...source unknown. In 2003 it was again discovered in mosquitoes, birds and people in Southern California. June 24, 2004, a 57 year old Orange Co. man was the first human victim. There have been 830 cases to date in Calif., 391 in Ariz. and 291 in Colo. These are the leader states. Last year the deaths were down to 100 from highs of 284 and 264 the previous years nationwide.

Symptoms: Mild Infection: Headache, fever, eye pain, neck stiffness, swollen lymph nodes, skin rash, body/muscle aches and pains, fatigue, loss of appetite, nausea and vomiting. Sounds like the flu. Severe Infection: severe headache, high fever, brain and spinal cord inflamation, confusion/stupor, tremors confulsions paralysis, severe muscle weakness, loss of cordination.

Treatment: Mild: There is no specific treatment, it usually wanes on its own. Severe: Seek medical attention in a hospital immediately if symptoms are severe and persist. Intravenous fluids and breathing help are given along with nursing care.

Where to call: For potential mosquito-breeding ponds: (800)442-2283 S.B. Co. or they can direct you to other counties services for mosquito control. To report dead birds: Hot line: (877)968-2473.

Looking back, I'm sure glad that doomed little sucker in my ear never was able to take her last drink from me. Bob

Thursday, July 28, 2005

Vacation Pre-Planning

It won't be long now and we'll be on our "cruise". It will be our first. We are going with some "seasoned travelers" and I'm sure their advice will be well taken. What to take; what not to take etc. Will I get sea sick? (I used to take my classes on the Whale-Watching Cruises and I took a pill then. That was just around the harbor out of Newport. It was in a very small boat though). Of course we checked the internet for reports from previous "cruisers". We're still a bit anxious and cautious.

I happened across an article in a recent issue of the Press Enterprise by Michael Precker from the Dallas Morning News. He makes some sensible suggestions that I'd like to share here: He quotes a doctor who counsels globe-trotting students from Cal Tech. She suggests that you try to stay healthy, not only during, but before the trip by consulting a doctor for vaccinations that might be required. Make sure yours are up-to-date and whether your destinations requires any others. Check your health insurance to see if you'll be covered away from home and for the evacuation flight. You might want to look into extra coverage. (We have done this with a cruise we've booked for next year in the Mediterranean, Greek Isles to Istanbul. It cover preexisting conditions too). Go on the net and check for conditions and requirements medical at Learn the acronym TD...that stands for traveler's diarrhea and millions of people get it. (In Italy, I had just the opposite condition and it was "murder"). Be wary of the local tap water and ice. Look through a local phone book, once you are there for medical facilities, drug stores etc. (I'll never forget having to find a drug/drugstore, a hotel doctor prescribed in Baja when our guys got stung by jelly fish. Good thing I spoke some Spanish at the time.)

The International Society of Travel Medicine and the International Assoc. for Medical Assistance to Travellers have lists of doctors and cllinics around the world. Keep hydrated. Dry air on the plane can bring headaches and dry out mucous membranes, which might leave you more susceptible to germs.

Keep your blood flowing. Hours of sitting in a cramped position (like me on a plane) can lead to swollen feet, leg cramps and even dangerous clots. Avoid alcohol. Not only will it dehydrate you , its effects are intensified in the air. Too much coffee and tea can also dehydrate. Wash your hands every chance you get or use sanitizer gel. Avoid touching everything. Share meals at restaurants so you don't over eat...yeah right, on a cruise? Think of ways to build in physical activities of all kinds...that you can handle.

Here are some suggested items not to forget:
*sunscreen and a hat *anti-diarrhea medicine *extra pair of glasses *eye drops *medical insurance card *insect repellent *anti-itch cream for bites *anti-allergy kit *prescription medications *a separate list of your prescriptions *aspirin *antihistamine *decongestant *tweezers (for splinters or ticks) *band-aids

We won't be gone that long this time. It won't be too challenging. Of course,I won't probably get to blog...and that is an exercise I need. Oh well, I might have to engage in the "art of conversation" Bob

Tuesday, July 26, 2005

The Island

We just saw a very thought-provoking movie. It was billed as a "Sci-fi, Thriller, Chase" movie. It was all of that. I chose it. It was my turn. Scarlet Johanson was the reason I chose it. Need I say more? If you plan to see it, stop right here. Don't read any further. I might wreck it for you.

It takes place in the "future" of America. Cloning of humans has been achieved. At first you are not allowed to know that. The two "beautifully perfect humans we are permitted to watch Ewen McGregor and Scarlet are part of an "underground city" that has "survived" the outside "contamination" All the citizens are "perfect" physical specimens and have a programed life that is totally monitored. They have individual diets and holographic exercise competitions. They have "alpha - beta - gamma - echo" names with other regular human names. They are all programed to look forward to a "weekly lottery" to get to go to "The Island" where it is not "contaminated" and they are being "groomed" to then live out their lives there. Women who have babies get to go there after they have their babies.

Of Course, Ewen's character "smells a rat" or literally "catches a moth" from "outside" in the contaminated area. He follows it as it flies upward out of a shaft full of massive machinery and exits into a desert area near a great city. From then on it is a non-stop chase to catch him and Scarlet and bring them back before everyone finds out what they really are..."product" Yes, they are being harvested as "insurance policies" for rich, successful big city dwellers who don't want to die and need replacement parts or babies etc. They were told that the organs were being grown in "donors" who are not conscious. That's the big lie. They are and several of the latest "generations" have developed "personalities" and creative, questioning minds. They are "talking back" and thinking for themselves...wondering about their purpose and future etc.

Ewen's guy keeps having dreams/nightmares of being on a "racing boat" and he is able to draw designs of it. Later he has the uncanny ability to drive fast vehicles without prior training. Remember he was cloned from a few cells. Scarlet's character has similar talents of her donor she finds out as they try to find them in the real world.

Our "take" on the imaginative theory behind this movie's premise is that we do indeed have "cell memory". Every part of our "being" "knows" everything about us. Transplanted organs can retain their previous owners "memories" "experiences" good or bad. We've heard of this happening ie. cravings for certain foods that they never had before the transplant. Memories were "planted" in the "product". They had 12 different scenarios with variations that they all got. They were all reading "Dick and Jane" aloud in one scene. Some of our "institutions" today do the same thing ie. "implant stories and "memories" of better times or for moral/religious education. They were all conditioned to "look forward" to "The Island" ie. the "sweet by-and-by" or say...heaven or a "reward" to "keep them in line" and down in the "non-polluted" community underground. "The Island" is non-existant and is, in fact, euthanasia or as it turns out in the end...mass murder of a whole class of clones - the "Echos" who have gone "tragically wrong". Of course the best scene toward the end for me, is when Scarlet finds out what true "Island" is when she makes love to Ewen for the first time...boy can she kiss...those lips. Sorry, I got carried away there for a minute. Bob

Monday, July 25, 2005

"Beam me up!" Scotty

I picked this picture of a "double rainbow" that I framed out of my front window on a beautifully stormy day a few months ago as my first attempt to illustrate my blogs. I cropped it to show just the skyline and street light next to my actual street sign. It was phenomenally breath-taking at the time. The major "bow" came right down to my house. The clouds, that day, obscured the usually snow-capped Mt. San Gorgonio...gorgeous!

Is there life after gravity? Could there, someday, be an "existence" above and beyond these clouds and rainbows? Is there a place where the effects/affects of gravity don't matter? Well, I'd like to imagine so.

Almost 40 years ago a journeyman actor took a role on a show about space travel. Why is it that we all still remember the role played by James Doohan, aka "Star Trek's Montgomery "Scotty" Scott, who just passed away at the age of 85? It's not just because "Beam me up, Scotty" became a legendary pop-culture catch-phrase. Maybe it's because we would like to identify with this exuberant chief engineer that Doohan and the creator, Gene Roddenbury, invented. He was the "over-worked guy in engineering, the sweaty, busy guy in charge of keeping the darn thing running. Scotty represented the the cunning intelligence of the "behind-the-scenes" worker. He did the impossible time and again and always tweaked things just a little bit so that he'd come out looking good. But he wasn't devious or shiftless. The Enterprise was his first priority and his only love. Scotty was just the guy who, like us, had to figure out on the fly how to manage the expectations of the "bosses".

"But Captain, she can't take it!" he'd yell in that Scottish burr of his, as Captain Kirk tried yet another crazy maneuver with Scotty's beloved ship. But she could and did take it, because Scotty was there to fix the "warp plasma manifolds" or whatever and make it all run smoothly again.

It's the Scottys of this world who keep it running. That's why we loved him...because he was one of us. Godspeed, Mr. Doohan. Thanks for doing that Scottish accent so well. Most of all, thanks for giving us "working stiffs" someone to root for and "a hope" maybe even "a belief" that "beaming up" might be our future. Bob

Sunday, July 24, 2005

It Takes a Village...

Last night I just witnessed my first Eagle Scout Court of Honor. My, I was greatly impressed with the whole affair. It was about an hour long and very well planned and executed. I was there at the request of my former student, Mackenzie Carmichael and his parents. He was one of my best students in my last year of teaching in Claremont. His mother, Chris was probably by far, my best ever "room mother". She made my retirement year a true "swan song". Her son, a fifth grader, I believe, was a top student and one of the "leads" in our class musical "Really Rosie". Mack, as we called him, I think, was "Pierre- the boy who didn't care".

Wow! Has he gone on to show he really does "CARE"! He has earned the highest honor in scouting the "Silver Eagle". I think I heard that, at the least, it involves 21 merit badges. His eagle projects were with the Rancho Santa Ana Botanical Gardens; one of my most favorite places in Claremont. It holds special memories even more so now. You see, Betty and I raised our boys just behind it. We went there often. I walked and lost weight there. I meditated there. One of my classes won the KCET Environmental Award there. We heard summer concerts there. We took field trips there. I was going to be a docent there when I retired...And my final "retirement farewell party" was held there at the Woody Woodpecker Outdoor Shelter. Mack's project had to do with an 80 foot path to a special sculpture exhibit. I must go and see it soon.

Mack's caring also includes a "black belt" in Karate, membership in the "Chamber Singers" at CHS ( an elite group) and BMX- ing. You can see he has had a well-rounded education and I am so proud to be just a small part of that ie. giving him the "first tastes" of music and drama.

However, as the title indicates, it takes a village... I think this was the title of Hilary Clinton's book on what it takes to "raise our children" our future. The "village" was there last night too. The mayor pro tem from Claremont spoke. A representative of the County of San Bernardino's 4th District's Supervisor spoke. The leading "brother" or deacon of their church spoke. And many scout leaders spoke along with Mack's father, his troop leader. They all had wonderful things to say about Mack and his potential as a leader in our community. The only one who didn't speak was his mom. However, you could see evidence of her tremendous efforts behind the scene(s). She, I'm sure, drove him to all his responsibilities and "motivated" him to do so many things just by her example. I learned, from one of the speeches, that George Washington's mother was also instrumental in his successful life choices...keeping him from going to sea. What a mom! There were testimonies from his fellow scouts and former eagles. Bob Trout of the Botanic Gardens also weighed in on the importance of his project. Mentors were named. Many former "eagle scouts" were mentioned, including several astronauts and political leaders of our Country.

The 12 laws of being a boy scout were emphasized, starting with "Be Prepared"...A thirteenth was added by Mack's dad: "Be Respectful" to God, Country, Family, and Self. He is well on his way now to becoming a "Golden Eagle" the next rank or step in scouting as he leads and helps others to attain "The Eagle". I spoke with him afterwards and he confirmed that he wants to be a teacher and a pilot. These are very appropriate and lofty goals. I can only wish him all the best in these endeavors. To quote a previous blog here: "Continue to Pay it Forward" Bob

Friday, July 22, 2005

Scud or Hove?

These are common words for us "crossword puzzlers". They sound odd and it would be interesting to look into their derivation...probably Old English. To me, they are kind of opposites. They don't really sound like what they purport to describe. Clouds scud...and they seem to do it swiftly; although I've never really seen many clouds move that fast. The puffy, billowy ones probably "scud" the best. I bet they do it much better in the "big sky country" of New Mexico or out on the Pacific Ocean.

Betty and I have poked fun at each other with "scudding remarks" when we both felt over weight. "Was the you scudding across the room?" "I felt just like a cloud, scudding across the sky." If we were more the mariners we'd most likely know the true meaning of the word as we watched the clouds and sails racing each other from one landmark to another. I'd like to think that it could be used to describe a more graceful attempt at gliding or say, dancing across the floor. "We don't dance anymore, we scud." Probably without much purpose or destination, we scud.

Hove is actually the past participle of heave. Heave has several meanings. The most familiar, I'm sure, is the kind connected with the "dry ones"...vomiting. It can also mean to raise without effort as in "heaved a sigh". However, I think the meaning that appeals to me most, and is appropriate here, is in reference to ships. "The ship hove along side, or into view". It can also mean "to raise or haul by means of a rope, line or cable". "to push at a capstan bar" (a spool to wind up rope) "to rise up or swell".

Here again...Betty and I have used it, linked to scud, to express our feelings of immenseness. We, after scudding, would "hove" to the nearest "port" or chair. Yes, we felt like we were docking. We'd laugh about it but it was really not funny. "He just hove into view." Yes, we do love word play, puns, double meanings; although sometimes they're very derrogatory.

Fortunately, we are both happy to report, that we can't/won't be doing that anymore. We have both lost weight and become more active. We eat less, especially at the evening meal. We just came from the club house dinning room where neither of us could finish our meals of fish. Yes, we eat fish now. After being vegetarians for so many years, we've felt the need to eat fish. You see we had this goal of a Disney Cruise Date. We've really motivated each other. We feel better and healthier. Our old clothes fit again and new ones, for the cruise, look better. We're so proud. Too bad we can't be "scudding and hoving" to show off our new, stream-lined bods. Bob

Tuesday, July 19, 2005

Laguna Lagoon

Spent the day in Laguna, CA. We got there around 11:A.M. It was 88 degrees when we left the Inland Empire. It felt like a different climate and country down there by the ocean. It was cool, moist and breezy...I'd say high 60's. I forgot a jacket and was kind of cold as we ate brunch on the patio of the new Cedar Creek restaurant. I used the two cloth napkins to cover my bare knees.

Laguna hasn't changed that much. We probably hadn't been down there to the three different Art Exhibits for 5 or 6 years. Laguna is a "state of mind", a world unto itself in my book. Even though the roads down there have changed and been modernized, the destination and the local vistas are the same. Route 133 is the last toll road we take after 241 and it used to be a quaint, two-lane, winding mountain road. We looked forward to seeing "Laguna Lagoon" and "dinosaur country" with gigantic rocks. All seemed to be missing, or plowed up. As you descend into that Canyon Rd. you do fell like entering a "lagoon" of cooler air. It seems to step back in time too, with signs for "sixty-ish" clothes and instruments ie. tie-dyes and plectrum dulcimers. Bearded men and "wildly dressed" homeless or street characters walking around; some with too much make-up and over-dressed doggies, just begging for a comment or a "look".

The opening display at the more formal and expensive Festival was a whole table full of sweat shirts with Route 66 and Route 133 on them. Their theme this year was "On the Road" and there were lots of paintings of highways. Probably harkening back to the recent battles they have had over the use/abuse of that canyon road 133. Lots of sculptures, blown glass and jewelry. The Art A-Fair has become alittle nicer. It is more built up, they all have more impressive facades. It has a lovely waterfall in the back and a cute restaurant. The Sawdust is about the same with mostly crafts and artisan's working. We counted only 3 actual booth that we were even tempted to enter to look at more closely. It is alway stimulating for Betty after being there, to get out the brushes...she could do better than many on display. They have some smelly food stands also and we were still full from brunch and that rich dessert. We even split everything.

We rode the free tram back downtown and looked through some shops; bought another grandchild gift and just watched people. We sat on a bench by the "boardwalk" next to the newly installed sand and crassly kevetching elder couples catching the rays. Two new volleyball courts have sprouted right in the most populous area. It was still rather overcast and pleasantly warm. We didn't feel the need for sun-blocker cream. Took my picture next to the Life Guard Stand. Some old haunts are gone or totally changed. Fahrenheit 451 is gone. Wyland is greatly reduced. Only the wall-to-wall traffic persists; even on a Monday. On the way out we drove by several, virtually vertical streets leading to "Blue Bird Canyon" I suppose. Crazy people perched on all those cliffs just to catch the air and the views. They "can't-a-leave-her"...get it? Guess they'll have to now. The "Laguna Lagoon" sucked them in. Bob

Monday, July 18, 2005

"Let your face be happy!"

This is my favorite saying from my wonderful wife, lover and companion. It is her birthday today. To quote her again, "Now, I guess, I'm officially a senior citizen. I don't feel like one." I know, from experience and observation, she's a super mom and gramma. The title of this blog sums up her attitude and advice to me over the years. She has always had a positive approach and outlook. She has always been non-confrontational and peace-making. She became a pro at settling arguments and fights raising our four boys/men now. She recently uncovered research/articles to prove her statement/philosophy. Smiling, even when you might not feel like it, does have a beneficial effect on your whole being, especially your health. She is very healthy...physically and mentally/emotionally. She is my rock when I need it. She reminds me to meditate and exercise as she does.

In the last year or so she has developed a new philosophy and policy. It sounds like a warning...and maybe it is. "Don't get on my "fine-then" list! I have certainly learned not to do that. It goes along the lines..."if mommy's not happy, nobody's happy" and "it's not wise to fool with mother nature" She has the patience of job's wife, especially with me. I've gotten so many warnings I've lost count...especially in the kitchen. She has banned me from it mostly...except for her breakfast in bed this morning. She has her requirements I've learned over the years, 45 now. Wear a shirt. Don't wear a hat unless you have to for the sun or rain and it better be one she's bought you. "Baseball caps make you look like a pin-head." Don't floss anywhere but in the bathroom...but don't clip your nails/fingers and toes in there. Pick up your clothes/shoes and put the seat down. I'm not always successful at all of these and then, for awhile, I get on her "fine-then" list. I don't know how permanent it is yet but, I'd be careful if I were you. Just a word of warning to those reading this...especially certain sons...don't get on her "fine-then" list. Her face may be happy but...look out! What is it? "Hell hath no fury like a woman scorned."

I think she is poised to do something really great, new and even shocking in these next "retirement senior citizen years" Her horoscopes hint at it today. Look out! Mom's not done yet. I can only encourage her...she still keeps me guessing and on my toes. I love her so. Bob

Saturday, July 16, 2005

Harry Potter-ism

"Oh...we've got trouble! Right here in River City. With a capital T, that rhymes with P, that stands for Potter!" Our Youth are are going to the...the owls! They are joining enmass "the cult of the Occult"... They are using their imagination way too much! They are bound by "spells" and are duped into believing in all this "wizardry and witchcraft". They all need to be "burned at the stake" of reactionary, fundamental, boredom. It's partly the media's fault...having "release parties" at midnight across the land and England too. Falling for the mass marketing hype of "sealed boxes" not to be opened until the stroke of July 16, doubt a numerological hexing date. What are we to do? What will become of our progeny? Oh woe!

Do you know that this has happened many times before in history? Followers of Alexandre Dumas thronged squares in France 100's of years ago for the latest installments of "The Three Musketeers" and "The Count of Monte Cristo". I bet they did it for Dickens too. As a teacher, I was plesantly surprised to read the first Harry Potter(and the Sorcerer's Stone") to my 5th grade class, a chapter a day, and mavel at how the writing and interest level reminded me of when I read "Charlie and the Chocolate Factory" to my classes toward the beginnings of my career. I noticed too that many boys, who normally don't pick up any books, unless assigned; were carrying these fat ones around. They were well written with "vocabulary" to challenge and stimulate imagination. Wow! It also reminded me of the "Dungeon and Dragons" craze. I had at least one son who played the games regularly with friends and multi-sided dice! Shock! What is this telling us about our kids? Is anyone paying attention? Well, yes...J.K.Rowling is/was since 1997 and she is now, reportedly, richer than the Queen of England!

This is the first edition (#6) that I haven't pre-ordered. I found the last one a bit too wordy to wade through and just waited for the audio-CD version by Jim Dale. Now he makes them really come alive with all his voices and slight English accent. He's got "Dobby's" voice down. He is, to the audiophile, what Baryshnikov is to ballet. He's done Shakespeare with the British National Theatre. He's done the musical "Barnum" on Broadway and got a Tony. He was nominated for the lyrics to the title song for "Georgy Girl" a hit movie. Queen Elizabeth II recently named him a Member of the Order of the British Empire in recognition for his Harry Potter work. He is in the Guinness Book of Records for creating the most number of voices in an audiobook (134) for "Order of the Phoenix". This is all from quite an article in the USAToday by Deirdre Donahue.

The latest tome is even thicker and more challenging to read I would suppose. I think, by design, J.K. is putting it to kids of all meet the challenge and read longer and more elaborate prose. Maybe I'll give this one a whirl after I finish my current page-turner "The Historian" a novel (rare for me) about "Vlad the Impaler" Dracula! Ha... ha...ha! Bob

Friday, July 15, 2005

Tatooine II?

Luke Skywalker's home planet, or where he was taken to be raised, was a desert planet with two suns. His home was underground. At least it was in the imagination of its creator Mr. Lucas.

Now comes an even more extraordinary, real-life sight: a newly discovered giant planet with three suns wheeling overhead. It doesn't have a name yet...other than maybe the number of the main star/sun HD 188753...or the discovering astronomer's from Caltech, Maciej Konacki.
He discovered it by observing tiny wobbles in the gravity of its companion stars. The Jupiter-sized world is 149 light-years (about 879 trillion miles) from Earth in a triple-star system in the northern constellation of Cygnus the Swan. Unlike Tatooine, life, as we know it, would be impossible on this new planet, since its temperature is estimated to be a scorching 1,340 degrees Fahrenheit.

The discovery of the planet challenges current theories about the formation of giant planets around other stars. Most astronomers think such planets form in huge disks of gas and dust around young stars. But a gang of three stars would distroy most of the disk before the planet could form. HD 188753 is "a conundrum". And its planet should not exist. But it does.

It is fascinating to think about these discoveries, especially when we are trying to put up with temperatures in the hundreds down here on Earth ourselves. Brett reported that it was 117 near Phoenix recently. How does anyone exist in such extreme temperatures. I see these outdoor workers around here and wonder how they do it everyday. It was 107 here recently. I try to stay indoors in our A/C. We drink lots of water and limit activity.

Heat stroke occurs when the body is unable to control its temperature. The body's temperature rises rapidly to 106 F or higher, the sweating mechanism fails and the body can't cool down. Heat stroke can cause death or permanent disability if emergency treatment is not administered. Those most prone to heat exhaustion are the elderly and young. Warning sign of heat stroke vary, but may include: high body temp. taken orally(above 103F), unconsciousness, dizziness-nausea and confusion, no sweating, rapid pulse, throbbing headache. Warning signs of heat exhaustion vary, but many include: heavy sweating, muscle cramps, weakness, headache, nausea or vomiting, paleness, tiredness or dizziness.

What to do? Call for immediate medical assistance and begin cooling the victim: get person to a shady area, cool them rapidly by immersing in a tub of cool water or a cool shower, spray them with a garden hose, sponge with cool water, or wrap them in a cool, wet sheet and fanning them vigorously.

We have 4 ceiling fans since we moved to Banning. The nights do cool down a bit but not always and not right away. Rarely do we leave the A/C on after 9PM. Our heat is usually dry and is more bareable. We try to stay "out of the kitchen" light snacks in the evening especially. We have water to sip at the bedside...bedclothes optional. What do you do? Bob

Thursday, July 14, 2005

Smart Water

My sister put me on "Smart Water" when I got there in Santa Fe. I must've had 4 bottles by now and I don't feel any smarter. I guess you have to drink it for awhile longer. It tastes like ordinary water and looks the same. It is in a snappy new bottle with a re-sealable cap. It is made by a company named Glaceau and the bottle has redemption value in several states. It has the word "Sport" on it in an another I think that's the have to be a "Sport" for it to really affect you. You know me, "Mr. Sport". Maybe it makes you more "sporty" too. Boy, along with my "memory foam" on which I'm still my sister's too, I should be in pretty good shape.

Maybe the people that marketed it are the "Smart Sports". They certainly have taken that step that "differentiates" them from all the other bottled waters. It is sold at Trader Joe's or the Whole Food Store, I'm not sure it is in the regular stores; so they can charge more for it. It is "electrolyte enhanced"! Don't electrolites make you glow like a battery? Does my body need more electrolytes? I thought I already had an electric personality and a sparkling wit.

Along the side of the bottle is a guage that shows some real marketing savy. It is labeled "your brain on smart water". Near the top, with just alittle amount being drunk it says: "last person picked for kickball"...yes, I remember that. Alittle farther down: "first player on the bench" we're getting somewhere. "electrolytes flowing" next down, almost halfway. Next: "you bought spandex?"...I've never! Then: "me. strong like bull." now you're talkin'. "85% hydrated" and finally..."captain of your team (debate team)! Now that's marketing...bull...

There is also a standard nutrition Facts with percentages...very official...all equaling 0% of M.D.R. Above it is a clever bit of prose..."if you find the idea of being purer and moister disturbing, please place the bottle back where you found it and continue on your dirty, arid way." Wish I had thought of this. Actual ingredients down below: (in order of importance and greatest quantity) vapor distilled water + electrolytes (calcium chloride, magnesium chloride and potassium bicarbonate) Probably in most waters around the world in some form/quantity or another.

I've heard that people who workout alot and really sweat do need to replace electrolytes so...this is probably very good for those of us who actually do that. I would never admit that I do..."never let them see you sweat!"...I perspire but usually not from over-exercising. It was only 107 degrees today so I tried to stay inside. It felt more humid than usual. It felt kind of weird. Maybe that's why I'm going on so much about this. Check me tomorrow. Bob

Wednesday, July 13, 2005

Santa Fe

If you're wondering where I've been for the past few days, all you "millions" out there who read my blog; I was visiting my sister in Santa Fe. I didn't really have access to a computer to enter my thoughts and reactions, plus I was having such a good time, I didn't have any opportunities to journal. I didn't even take notes.

I hadn't been to New Mexico's capital for many years and I was long overdue for a visit with my wonderful sister. She has made a wonderful, productive and fulfilling life for herself and I felt fortunate, just to catch a glimpse of what she does daily and where she does it. What a gal! She has three offices and many responsibilities as a Therapist and Director of Pastoral Services ie. counseling and ministering to many needy clients. She also sings with the Sangre de Cristo Chorale and all its social activities and fund raisers, does crosswords, cooks gourmet meals and keeps up with many dear friends. I'm very proud of her as you can see. I hope she continues to "follow her bliss" for many, many years to come. She is working on her health, diet and exercise which are keys to all these activities.

She was at the airport in Albuquerque to meet me and my 3-hr.late flight from Denver. "Micro Bursts" and "Wind Sheers" kept us on the tarmack and refueling all that time in no A/C...lots of fun. Fortunately we weren't too late to commute back to S.F. for the Opera that started at 9:P.M. Wow! She was able to get tickets to a series of summer concerts that sells out early every year. She has "connections". We had wonderful seats and marvelled at the lavish production of "Turandot", a Puccini opera of an Asian Folk Fable. I'm always interested in the staging, props, scenery, costumes and they were fabulous, bright colors, backlit, moveable sets. The theater itself is still open on the sides but sheltered and enclosed for most of the audience...still that awesome backdrop to the west of S.F.'s magnificent skyscape/sunset. What was new for me also was that the on-going libretto was electronically flashed in front of each and every seat in large print could understand what was going on (spoken) in the arias in Eng. or Espanol. There was little need for opera glasses which my sister thoughtfully brought. The tale reminded me of a couple of our fairy tales ie. Three riddles to solve to marry the "ice princess" failing meant decapitation of the hapless suitor(s) There were at least 4 heads spiked high up on stage. Then one wise suitor solves the riddles and she refuses to marry him. He counters with "rumplestiltskin's" guess my name and you're off the hook. She has the whole kingdom out looking for his name and finds a "secret lover" who knows but is willing to kill herself on stage in order not to reveal his name. He relents and melts the ice princess with his name "Love" and they profess profound love etc. at least 20 feet apart from each other, stage left and right...that's opera for ya. Lots of marching on and off stage in highly costumed processions singing loudly. The 2nd and 3rd act end with standing O's for the well-known aria...(can't remember the Italian name) but everyone, including me, recognized it and thrilled to its pathos.

The real surprise of the visit was the pre-concert "dress rehearsal" of the Desert Chorale's Summer Concert starter "Great Cathedral" Music. We went the scenic way up to Los Alamos to hear this exquisite group. Believe me, it was 2+ hours of "heaven" for me, or what I think "heaven" will be like. A processional gregorian chant of such purity and precision,their voice timbre/tones were perfectly matched. My favorite of many was a song I have sung with MMC. "Maria Stella" I had all I could do to not singing along...that high pitched trio in the middle sent "chills". Linda Mack has this new version of the Chorale well in hand as its director...You can tell that they love her too and she is easy to sing for.

We went shopping in the Plaza for the grandchildren and wife. Had lots of fun doing that. I was mostly successful in my finds, with my sister's help. Couldn't find the signature S.F. tile trivet I wanted. We also hit two Indian Casinos and dropped some "coin". They made me appreciate our own casinos in Cabazon and the desert. I tried to show my sister how to play some "table games", lost at craps but won at 3-card poker.

My sister showed me where she walks in "Frenchie's Park" and we walked a "meditation labrynth" made of adobe and straw...a first for me. Three times around the park makes a mile and I enjoyed doing it twice. My sister picked some wonderful restaurants to sample, including "Body" a raw food purveyor, "Jinga" with a Chinese/New Mexican cuisine and, best of all her own gourmet meal with pita pockets and blue artichokes. We had alot of fun with her friend playing "Cranium"...she usual. I helped her water her front landscape on her designated day: Tues. before 10AM. I took pictures of her, her friend and her home...lots of our mom's favorite keepsakes...including our old chiming clock. Ah what memories we share! She paid for my shuttle trip back to the airport and I had uneventful return flights with many other "sardines". A tail-wind brought us in 15 mins. early to the Palm Spings "blast furnace" 115 degrees! I was so happy to see my beautiful wife waiting for me. What a trip! What a lucky guy I am. Bob

Friday, July 08, 2005

Banning by Night

I just found this unique picture postcard. It is totally black in color, no picture. The caption says,"Banning by Night". The other side is just a regular post card. What's the real message here? Yes, it is very dark at night here. There are few street lights. The stars are very visible. I have trained my telescope from my terrace on them. The days are clear and the view from my front windows is spectacular...Mt. San Gorgonio!...still snowcapped. It is very quiet at night also, just the occasional "nostalgic" train whistle. It cools off at night, even in the summer being 1/2 a mile high. Almost a perfect place to retire, right?

Here is a suburb town that still wants to be know as "a quiet spot between mountains and desert" as an recent article in the L.A. Times was titled. It sits 85 miles east and light-years away from the bustle of L.A. It is bracketed by the two tallest Mts. in the area, Gorgonio and Jacinto (where Idylwild is). The climate was so temperate that the Serrano and Cahuilla Indians made it their season home. It was also a stagecoach stop for the Colorado Stage & Express Line, connecting L.A. with the gold found along the Colorado River. The railroad eventually replaced the stagecoach. Then I-10 passed the whole town by and it just about died.

Now they are starting to look at an alternative route through it's outskirts. Developers are also cutting up those outskirts along its borders east and west. Oscar Orci, the City's Community Development Director said that people buying homes in or near Banning are attracted to its open spaces. "You can still see cattle grazing in pastures. Banning is still a slice of Americana."
Mikki Bloomer, with Banning Realty, said that the newer homes are of most interest to buyers, but there is nothing close to a "buying frenzy" in Banning. The San Gorgonio Pass area has grown in recent years and the communities of Oak Glen, Yucaipa, Calimesa and even Beaumont are enjoying a boom. Banning remains a relative bargain, $100K less than a similar one, ten minutes away. The city is working to preserve some of the historical Craftman and California Bungalows built around the time of incorporation, 1913.

Is it possible that there might be a way to "reluctantly grow and develop" and still preserve some of these "values" of rural living? Will it continue to attract mainly retirement communities like Sun Lakes? There is currently quite a disagreement with its neighbor city, Beaumont over the attempts to "redistrict" and "redraw" the current school district lines. I won't go there in this blog. It is way too complicated. Yes, I live in Banning, but I work and volunteer in Beaumont. They are both worthy of consideration for differing reasons on differing issues. Remember, my beginnings, were, most likely around here someplace. No, I plan to stick around and see what happens...especially at night. Bob

Beware of Bambi!

Sharks get the headlines lately, but Bambi is the real killer. A few weeks ago I think we had 4 shark attacks in one week in CA. Everyone is becoming "Jaws Phobic" when swimming. However, we are much more likely to be killed by deer, bees, dogs and snakes than by sharks.

I would add mosquitos to that mix. West Nile Virus has struck recently even here in our fair city. I've checked my vast estate for standing water ie. bases of flower pots, bird baths etc. I know of one couple who were buying a home from me who had dealt with this deadly virus.

An article in a recent, local newspaper cited the International Shark Attack File, a database collected by a Florida museum of Natural History, it said that sharks attack a minuscule number of people each year compared to those who die in vehicular collisions with deer. An average of of 130 car-deer collisions a year are fatal while only 11 were killed by sharks from 1990 to 2004. Wasps and bees kill nearly 50 people a year in the U.S. alone.

The months from May to September are high time for insect-inflicted death, said Dr. Julie Gilchrist of the CDC's Injury Center. Deadly deer encounters peak in spring...probably due to "deer love". Yes, I'm sure it affects animals too. We lost our beloved "butchie" from our back yard in pursuit of a "bitch". One of the hardest things to have to do, lift a beloved dog off the street.

We don't have too many deer around here. But mountain vacations are beckoning. Watch for those signs, you know, the "Darting Deer". They are easy to distinguish from the Indian signs, "Falling Rock" and "Soft Shoulder". One of my Indian Guide names was "Crashing Boar" you know why. Bob

Thursday, July 07, 2005

Fanfare for the Common Man

Once you've heard this awesome fanfare you won't forget it. It is only alittle over 3 mins. long but so stirring and full of emotion. Aaron Copland is one of my favorite composers. His brass choir chords, mostly 5ths and tonics, just make you feel like you are not just a "common man". It has an introductory passage that makes you listen for what's coming next. For me it conjures cathardic memories. I just heard it again by Mannheim Steamroller and just after I had heard the terrible terrorist bombings in London. It brought back sad memories of another tragedy.

We were in the midst of the media blitz about the L.A. Watts Riots, many years ago now and one of my best 6th grade classes was presenting Shakespeare's "Julius Caesar". I had only done it once before at another school, outdoors. It was quite a spectacle with a cast of "thousands" all in white togas. In the famous scene... on the Ides of March...Prop. "ketchup" did flow as our lead was "murdered". The processional music leading to this scene was Copland's "Fanfare". New to me at the time. It was perfect because Julius C. was coming back the conquering hero and wanting to give the common citizens of Rome more power and say in the government headed by him, as "emperor". The senate had diffferent ideas. Yes, I've been watching the summer series "Empire". Toward the end of the 2nd act we had "staged" "a riot" of the crowd after they heard the famous oration by Mark Anthony..."Friends, Romans and Countrymen..." The cast had been listening to news reports all day about how the riots might come out to the suburbs...needless to say, this is just what they needed to become rather "hysterical" backstage waiting for the "riot" we had planned and staged. Girls were in tears and so afraid. Parents were there and had to calm them down after the scene. Our new principal was his understanding and handling of the whole "scene". So much for staging "adult-type" tragedies for kids.

Cut to "real life" and the scene is the very area Betty and I stay in when visiting London. We rode on that subway and those buses while we waited for our tour to begin and then at the end of it. What is so amazing to me is how calm and controlled the citizen of London are shown to be now. They are almost stowic in their acceptance of this "the worst attack in London since WWII. Again it is filling our media and our responses nationwide is to raise the "alert system" from "yellow"to "orange". Buses are being inspected and all forms of transit are under suspicion. Two days from now I'm scheduled to fly. Kind of scary.

What is so horrific to me is the realization that we, our civilization, is under seige and at war. And it isn't the "soldiers" or designated uniformed personnel or battleships who are in "harm's way" but we are..."the common man!" There is no warning, and no preparations can be made. Innocents die. And yet we can't let this change our way of life because then "these cowardly terrorist" have accomplished their goal. Chaos! Yes, now more than ever, "the Common Man" needs a "Fanfare!" You wonder what the Olympics planned for London in 2012 will be like. Bob

"Nuts to you!"

Love nuts. Always have. Every morning I fix myself 11 blanched almonds. Betty only wants 9. I hand them to her and say..."_" It's our little joke. We do it because we read somewhere that blanched almonds are very good for you and help prevent cancer.

I don't really know about that but I know all kinds of nuts are good for you. Walnuts are rich in omega-3, like fish oil...which we also take. I love pistaschio ice cream, pumpkin seeds, sesame seeds, cashews, hazelnuts, peanuts...I could go on.

"Nuts to you!" used to be a saying when I was growing up that meant..."Forget you!" or "Buzz off" or I don't want to do what you want me to do. I remember I once got in trouble in elementary school for saying to the teacher that phrase of disrespect. I think it followed an announcement that the whole class was going to miss favorite subject. She heard it. I remember having to take the note from the teacher home to my parents and then getting punished at home on top of it. I never did that again...I might've thought it. I suppose I still do at times, but I hold my tongue. There are always certain circumstances that could elicit it, but I've learned. Better to try and live in harmony with everyone. And, as I read in my horoscope today, "Harmony can be difficult when everyone is singing the same note."

So..."Nuts to you!" could, in a obtuse kind of way, be a way of wishing "health" to our fellow man/woman. Here's a challenge, life is a hard nut to crack, but it is good to have that challenge and variety in texture...something to get our "teeth" into, as long as we don't bite off more than we can chew...or get them stuck in between our teeth...I could go on and on with these cliches. I'm full of them..."old nuggets", "gems"...half truths. Isn't this just about all we get in this life? Bob

Wednesday, July 06, 2005

The ABC's of Aging Gracefully

You can get this in plaque form by ordering it from Bas Bleu, a bookseller-by-post. It has some very weird and unusual books and things that I am tempted by regularly. It might be good to have these in plaque form on the wall to be reminded about...from time to time. See if you agree with all or some or even none of them. Can you guess which ones I'm still working on?

Avoid collagen. Bloom late. Celebrate. Dance at parties. Eat more chocolate. Fall in love again. Go grey. Hold hands. Inspire. Jettison grudges. Kiss like you mean it. Laugh. Mend fences. Nurture friendships. Open doors. Perspire with aplomb. Quit whining. Rekindle romance. Spoil your grandchildren. Teach someone to read. Upset convention. Volunteer. Wear red. eXpect joy. Yield gracefully. Zing!

Yes, I've changed it a bit...might be copyrighted. I've got the greying down. Betty and I do hold hands even at Disneyland. I still sweat alot. I'm trying to spoil my grandkids...but it is tricky. I do volunteer, at two schools and I still love to Zing (Sing). I'm eating less chocolate, Dr.'s suggestion. I have a number of red ties I still wear for work...we have to. Most of the rest, I'm still working on, making some progress. Dancing has been curtailed with my "titanium hip". The ones I'm working on the hardest?...aha, wouldn't you like to know? Bob

Tuesday, July 05, 2005

Identity Theft

Everytime I sell a home and do an "Offer to Purchase" contract I have to have the buyers fill out a Statement of Information for Escrow and The Title Co. It includes social security numbers and driver's licence numbers, addresses etc. I have to get their permission in writing to release this vital information to a designated lender also. This is to protect their identity and eventually give them "clear title" to that property. Now days there is such a fear of "identity theft" and it even pertains to blog writing in a way. Part of the "thrill" for internet staulkers and predators is the "hunt" and the investigative research that they do to find their eventual victims.

Here then are some suggestions recently gathered from local newspapers/articles that I have been collecting:
1. The next time you order checks printed, have only your initials (instead of your first name) and last name put on them. If someone "finds" or takes your checkbook, they will not know if you sign your name with just initials or first name but your bank will know.
2. Do not sign the back of your credit cards. Instead put "Photo I.D. Required."
3. When writing a check to pay on your credit card accts. don't put the complete number on the "for" line...just the last four numbers. Anyone handling it then can't have your number.
4. Put your work phone number on your checks not your home number. Use a P.O.Box if you have one or your work address.
5. Put the contents of your wallet on a photocopy machine, both sides of cards. You will know what you had in your wallet so you can call and cancel them. Keep that copy in a safe place.
6. Carry a photocopy of your passport when traveling. Keep it separate.
7. Have the toll free numbers and card numbers handy so you know whom to call. Keep safe.
8. File a police report immediately in the city where they were taken.
9. Call the three national credit reporting organizations immediately to place a fraud alert on your name and S.S. #. Then any new applications for credit in your name, say on the internet, have to be authorized by you on the phone. Here are the numbers you need: Equifax: 1(800)525-6285 Experian: 1(888)397-3742 Trans Union: 1(800)680-7289 Social Security Administration (fraud line): 1(800)269-0271.

Of course this assumes you write checks and carry a wallet for I.D. etc. I guess another way to avoid "identity theft" is...don't carry your I.D. around with you or...don't go anywhere by car or buy anything on credit. That would be a real challenge now days wouldn't it? Bob

Monday, July 04, 2005


Me thinks it's abundantly appropriate to comment on our glorious Nation's birth today. We celebrate every year on this date because of the acceptance of the Declaration of Independence. However, this act by the "Continental Congress" at the time above was only the "tip of the iceberg" so to speak...(to mix metaphors). Independence had been in the minds and acts of a growing number of colonists for many years prior and even more frustrating years to follow. It is a fascinating story documented in a recent book by David McCullough. I heard it on my car CD player narrated by him a few days ago. What a stirring story of tenacity and grit. It inspires awe and pride in our fore fathers...especially Geo. Washington (as my son Trev used to say).

You hear all the familiar tales of him and his not being able to lie about chopping down his father's cherry tree etc. but the real fascination with the man is his steel resolve and his "never, ever giving up in the face of overwhelming odds. McCullough tells his story through reading his letters and journals (blogs) and you are, at first, impressed with his command of the language and the formal way of expressing his thoughts, his disappointments, discouragements etc. He was a very reluctant "Commander-in-Chief" and yet he realized there was no one else at the time with his experience and wealth/accomplishment/organizing ability who could undertake such a mission. He and his "rag-tag" straggling group of "left-over" men hung on against all kinds of odds, weather, out-numbered and ill-equipped, non-support from deserters and loyalists and would not quit. He was roundly criticized for his indecisiveness as a general by his subordinates regularly and yet he came up with some strategic moves in 1776 that set the course and defined the mission and the nation for years.

I was motivated to check into all this when my new boss asked in a sales meeting, "Just how many battles Washington had actually won during the war." I was embarassed not to know having taught it for years. At elementary level we didn't get into the wars and battles that much I confess. I found out that prior to this "turning point" year, the battle for Bunker Hill (actually Breed's Hill) was considered a defeat but it cost the British dearly. Washington's first "win" was simply an "out-positioning" move of stealth at night. He and his men/key generals too, took Dorchester Heights above Boston by placing canons taken from Fort Ticonderoga. He forced the Red Coats to leave the Boston area. Then after several strategic escapes Geo led his bedraggled "left-overs" (those who didn't quit or die from rampant disease) back across the Delaware River in the dead of winter on Christmas to totally surprise the Hessians (hired mercenaries). A very illogical move and again very sneaky. This was inTrenton, N.J. He then has a victory near Princeton, N.J. just after New Year's of 1777. These decisive victories rallied the Nation and convinced them (many doubters) that we were really a New Nation and had a right to do what needed to be done.

During this same year, off the battlefields, Thomas Paine's "Common Sense" started to change opinion in a more calm and logical way. "Engagement is crucial, one person can make a difference, an idea can change the world." This idea is still as valid as it was 229 years ago. Thomas Paine went to "the people" with his readable book of ideas. He was maybe the "first blogger" in a crazy sense. He had no mass media and yet his message got out there and influenced Geo. and the leaders who supplied and supported him and his men from Philadelphia ie. Ben, John H., Tom J. and so on.

One wonders how Geo. had such leadership and power to persuade his ill-shod, half naked group to do what they did. An article in today's Times says that it was partly, if not mostly, because of outrage over the tax on rum...not tea. These men were kept warm on the inside with rum...not tea. Before the Boston Tea Party there were more outrages laws and taxes against molassas and sugar trade with France by England. France's colonies had a better molassas/ie. rum and England didn't want the colonies buying/using it. And yet it was that weekly provision of rum that kept many of the "continental soldiers" going during the bitter cold winter of 1776. It was the preferred drink of the colonists who, on average, consumed 4 gallons a year. Paul Revere is reported to have had a nice rum toddy before his famous ride. This was simply a sugared, watered rum warmed with a hot poker. Yes, and isn't it "interesting" that today, one of our main ways of "celebrating the 4th" is...picnicing, tail-gating, parading, watching fireworks (bombarments) and...drinking the "distilled spirits" Happy Fourth Everyone! Bob

Sunday, July 03, 2005

Camp Gramma...Success!

I haven't blogged here for the past few days because I've been helping at "Camp Gramma". What a fun time we had! Boy, are we exhausted. We hosted our two oldest grandchildren for three days and two nights. Their parents took a need break at Las Vegas.

We felt like we were running a resort. It was non-stop action and involvement from sun-up to sun-down. The biggest hit of the whole time was the new "swimming pools". This was the blow up kind with a slide between linking them. Layla and Stone went "swimming" at least 3 times a day. It has an attached spray nozzle that makes it like "slip-n-slide" through the sprinklers like we used to do. To quote Layla, "This is better than Wild Rivers!" They invented all kinds of games ie. copy the leader, jacuzzi etc.

Another high light was the daily trek walking over to feed Aunt Patti's cat. It has been left alone for us to take care of for 5 weeks. Betty goes over daily to feed, pet and clean the litter box. The kids thought this was such fun. The cat is very shy so they had to be so gentle and loving.

There were all kinds of puppet shows given and received,all made up on the lib. There were themed tea parties with special, miniature, silver service with polite manners...a la "Mrs. Potts" There was cookie baking from scratch. There was "hall ball" in various forms. There were puzzles and crosswords, mazes and colorbooks. There was a new clay of multi colors that doesn't harden with lots of plastic body parts to create creatures. There were the latest DVD's to calm down to ie. Tarzan 2 and Hefalump, their favorite. There were stories read and tell.

This time we had no snail collecting and naming. We did have some rock collecting and "selling". There was "pirate booty" and earring wearing. And there was taking turns in the vibrating chair.

At night they fell asleep almost immediately they were so tired. They brought their sleeping bags. There was hardly any arguing or "fighting". They got along quite well and are the best of playmates. Betty gets all of the credit for the planning and execution of such a planned event. I only helped and gave her a break once in awhile. She has admitted that she still doesn't know how she (almost alone)raised our four boys. She just has the ability to really relate and get involved in their world. I marvel at her skill with children...especially our grandchildren. We are so lucky to be able to enjoy our kid's kids. Bob