Thursday, June 30, 2011

Doctor’s Office

I had an appointment for a check-up the other day. It was not a life threatening issue but I was also scheduled to possibly have a cortisone injection to help with my knee pain after physical therapy. My appointment was supposed to be at 4:15pm and I raced home from work to make my appointment on time. When I got to the office, I put my name in and sat in the waiting room. I had my Kindle with me and started getting engrossed in the latest book that I was reading. My name was called and I went into the examination room and waited for the doctor.

I was still reading. And reading. And reading. Sometime later, my husband called wondering where I was. He knew that I had this appointment, but grew concerned when I did not arrive home in a reasonable timeframe. I looked at my phone’s clock and saw the time indicated and realized that I had been there an hour and a half and still had not seen the doctor. I walked out. I supposed I got distracted in my book but I didn’t realize the time I was there otherwise I would have walked out earlier.

I am not angry at the doctor, it is not his fault. But I am perturbed at the office and for the mismanagement of the office that overbooks the patients. There was no emergency and he was in the office. I heard him in another exam room, so I know he was there. Waiting for that long is simply unacceptable. I have other things I have to do, and as a matter of fact I had an evening meeting that I had to get to anyway. My husband told me I should have told them I would back bill them for MY time, but I am too nice to do that. I just hope they don’t send me a bill because I don’t feel like fighting about it.

When you look at it, a doctor is performing a service just like a hair stylist or any other service provider. Just because he has had many years of training and experience does not make him invaluable enough to wait more than a half an hour for his time. I would have walked out of the hair salon the same way and possibly re-scheduled. Or not. This doctor is not the only specialist in town and I have waited longer than I care to for other appointments at this office. So I think it is time to find a new doctor.

Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Self Driving Cars

I used to watch the Jetsons when I was a child. I would dream of a day when we would have the kinds of things shown in that cartoon series, and now it seems as if we are almost there for some things.

The other day I read an article about a self driving car designed by VW that works pretty well if the road is well marked. Google has been working on the same thing, but they claim their technology is better. Bottom line is that probably in my lifetime, a self driving car will become a reality – if you can afford it.

What the technology is working to achieve of course is prevent accidents, which causes thousands of deaths in this country. For example in 2009 alone there were more than 5.5 million car accidents in the United States with 31,000 of them fatal. Millions of people are injured and many of those injured in a way that significantly changes the rest of their lives. Many of these accidents, in fact pretty much all of them, could have been prevented if the driver simply paid attention to what they were doing. That means not talking on your cell phone, not reading the newspaper on the steering wheel, not putting your makeup on or shaving while driving, etc. This means basically, as my husband says, not driving while stupid.

In fact the article about the self driving car even says: The TAP technology requires the driver to at least be aware of the road at all times, and was designed to allow users to avoid accidents because they were inattentive. "One conceivable scenario for its initial use might be in monotonous driving situations, e.g. in traffic jams or over sections of a driving route that are exceedingly speed-limited," Leopold said in a statement.

So whether there ever comes a time where you can get in a car and have it drive you somewhere we as humans need to be mindful of the actions we are doing. Until we can open technology to the point where a blind person can drive a car, sighted people have to pay attention to the job of driving even if the car assists.

Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Watching Your Parents Age

I see my folks are getting on and I watch their bodies change
I know they see the same in me and it makes us both feel strange

No matter how you tell yourself, it's what we all go through

Those lines are pretty hard to take when they're starin' back at you

Scared to run out of time – Nick of Time

It’s hard to watch your parents go through sickness toward death. My father is slowly dying because he is in heart failure and there is nothing they can do. He is so weak that the operation to fix his defibrillator would kill him. So they have him on hospice care and have turned off the defibrillator part and only the pacemaker remains. He has lost so much weight he is just skin and bones probably because the medication reduces his appetite over the last few years.

I went to see him on Sunday. He lives in Delaware so it’s a long way to go and I don’t get down there often. I speak to him on the phone pretty much weekly, and now a little bit more frequently, but it’s hard for him to string more than a few words together at a time. He was going in and out of sleep because it is hard for him to stay alert because of the weakness. But he was cognizant of my being there. He is on oxygen, which is helping some, but the organs are slowly shutting down and he doesn’t have much more time. My step-mother of course hopes for the best and every tiny change for the better makes her hope more. She is almost 15 years his junior. I don’t quite know why she would hope like that. It is so obvious that he is on death’s door and at this point they are just keeping him comfortable.

He made a statement to me on Sunday that the hardest part was the waiting. I agree. I can only imagine what he is going through knowing that he is dying soon and wondering why he is still alive. There is no quality of life there. I don’t hold out any hope that he will survive this, and that may be callus of me to say, but the man is 86 years old and has had heart problems since his 60s. Unless there was some fountain of youth that was discovered in the next few weeks he is going to go. Miracles like that just don’t happen to regular folk. I only pray that he doesn’t suffer and that he goes quietly and painlessly when the time come whenever that will be. In the meantime I have to contact him as much as possible and let him know I care despite our differences. He’s my father, after all.

Monday, June 27, 2011

Education Spending

Corbett planned to wipe out more than $1 billion in basic education funding, when proposed his budget. That included zeroing out grants to districts for prekindergarten, full-day kindergarten, and class-size reduction in kindergarten through third grade. Unbelievable. I know we have to save money and reduce our spending, but reducing education dollars in the long run will actually cost us more.

How? Think of it rationally. Uneducated children are more likely to commit crimes and that will cause our law enforcement dollars to go up. Young adults who don’t know the fundamentals of reading may not be able to properly read a food label and could compromise their health which ultimately will cause our health care costs up. Ill prepared youth will not possess the critical thinking needed to learn complex skills and get jobs like doctors, scientists, lawyers, and other professionals which will cause a shortage in those fields and limit what can be worked on. Bottom line is that reducing spending on our children now will hurt our future later.

This is even more pronounced in the poor school districts are already compromised with reduced spending ability for their students. The richer districts may be able to make up the difference on the backs of the parents (which is a whole other issue) but the poor districts cannot rely on that assistance. If a child is not given the tools to learn effectively, the child will be at a great disadvantage later. Those children may not get the motivation they need to transcend the effects of poverty and larger groups of people will be unable to change the course of their lives for the better.

Of course that is probably precisely what our current administration is trying to do. If we reduce the amount of poor who are able to compete with the upper class then a “better” class of people will continue to be able to live as they are accustomed to and won’t have to worry about “those people”. This is not a question of saving money necessarily, this is a question about saving the future for the financially advantaged. But in the long run it affects everyone, and it is short sighted to expect otherwise.

Friday, June 24, 2011

Creating Music

Listening to my iPod this morning, I wondered about what it is that allows people to write songs. My dad used to do this thing where he could have someone pick out three notes on the piano and he would compose something right there on the spot. I was always amazed at that. He explained that music, like conversation, has questions and answers. The three notes are the question and the response was another three to four notes and soon you have a melody that can have harmony added. I often listen for that structure when I hear music, and in today’s pop it’s not hard to pick out. But creating a tune that is catchy enough to make people want to hear it over and over again is a skill. A skill I don’t possess, even though my father is so talented in that area.

I recently read about a new technology designed to bring music to everyone. It’s called UJam and it is now in Alpha testing. This software can help you turn a tune in your head into a studio-quality piece of music, without any musical training. The site lets you hum, whistle, or sing into the computer's microphone, and then turns it into whatever style of music you want, all fully formed. The creator likened it to digital camera software that can help you turn bad pictures into good ones.
The technology to create this software is pretty amazing. It apparently uses the same digital quality that one can get in a studio, so anyone can sound professional. So you can sing a song and have your voice backed up as if you were in a studio and then decide if you want strings or guitar, or any other kind of music instrument added. Or if you want you can take that tune running around in your head and make something of it even if you are not a musician. Add AutoTune to your singing, software that helps your pitch if you are an off-key singer, and presto-changeo, you may just sound good enough to go on American Idol. Ahh, the wonders of technology.

Thursday, June 23, 2011

How Does My Garden Grow

Over the Spring I suddenly got into gardening. I have usually done a vegetable garden growing tomatoes, zucchinis, and hot peppers. One summer I did a whole variety of hot peppers and ended up making pepper jelly much to the delight of my friends. I did can some of them as well. A couple years back I also started an herb garden and grew things right outside my back door that I could use for cooking. But this year I have been concentrating on the flower beds that are along the side of the house.

For many years I have asked my husband who usually takes care of the lawn and flower beds to do something with the garden beds. But for some reason he hasn’t done a thing. Sure there are some things in there, but I don’t like the looks of them. I have always fancied an English Garden type of flower bed, full of color and texture. We have two beds separated by a fence and this year I am concentrating mostly on the rear one as that has the least amount of plants in it. The front bed had a weeping cherry tree right in the center so it needs shade loving plants. I have planted a few to fill things in, but I am going to concentrate on the rear bed and work on the front one next year.

Somewhat late in the Spring I decided that the garden looked awful, as you can see by this picture, and if it was going to get done then I needed to do it myself. So I have jumped in with two feet and now I am working on the flower bed as well as the vegetable and herb gardens. I love it. There is something extremely satisfying about planting and weeding and seeing the results of your hard, sweaty work as a mass of beautiful flowers. Not to mention the wonderful fragrance they have.

I am no where near to be on a garden tour as it has to get established yet, but I am having great fun picking out plants and figuring out where they should go and planting them there. It will get fuller as the summer progresses.  I am keeping a garden journal and reading everything I can about ways to have color all summer long. There is definitely a science to the whole thing and it can get very complicated. Overall it is very relaxing to be out there.

Wednesday, June 22, 2011


If you ask me, Facebook is a huge sociological experiment to see just how far people will go. We are all social creatures and I think despite some people who want to be alone, we all crave human interaction – face time if you will. As such, the notion of letting everyone know what you are doing each second of the day via Facebook or Twitter is an outcome of that need.

I think I have heard everything that Facebook can be used for. Today I read a report of a man in Utah who held a woman hostage and posted updates to his friends about the incident while it was happening. Many of them pleaded with him to stop but some even told him were the police were. That later group? They may be charged with obstruction. I am sure more is to come on that part of the case. A whole new area of law is being created because of this technology.

Facebook is a great networking tool. It’s fun, interactive, and can provide lots of entertainment. It’s been used to find a lost pig, brag about your exploits legal and otherwise, get a girl rescued who fell in a storm-drain, and now chronicle a crime in progress. I am sure that it has been used to describe, blow by blow (pun fully intended), sexual acts in progress. I am not sure what message this says about society, but I think it getting a little out of hand. I mean, really. I think that the young people who have grown up with this in-your-face technology would make for a great sociological study on the effects of this technology and how it affects one’s self worth. Facebook is putting our lives out there if you decide to buy into it.

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Equal Rights Protection

I did not realize this, but Pennsylvania is one of the few states who do not have a non-discrimination clause in their constitution. In this state one can actually get fired for being gay. They can be denied service in a restaurant, refused housing, and turned away from getting a job simply because of who they love. It makes no sense to me.

Section 1 of the Pennsylvania Constitution is entitled Inherent Rights of Mankind and it says:

All men are born equally free and independent, and have certain inherent and indefeasible rights, among which are those of enjoying and defending life and liberty, of acquiring, possessing and protecting property and reputation, and of pursuing their own happiness.
I guess they are talking white men, landowners, and un-indentured servants here. Back in 1776 when the Pennsylvania Constitution was first adopted, that’s who was making the laws. However it has not been changed and the “all men” part is taken over time to mean "mankind". Mankind should mean humanity and humanity should be devoid of labels.

At any rate because Pennsylvania does not have language in its constitution, there are a few representatives sponsoring HB 300
An Act amending the act of October 27, 1955 (P.L.744, No.222), known as the Pennsylvania Human Relations Act, further providing for the title, for findings and declaration of policy, for right to freedom from discrimination in employment, housing and public accommodation; defining "sexual orientation" and "gender identity or expression"…
This bill has languished in committee. It was brought to the floor once and didn’t pass. So because the state has not passed this legislation, various municipalities, and some counties, and decided to do their own thing. One of these municipalities is Abington, and they are having a tough time doing it. I don’t understand why as it seems like such a no brainer to me.

When I was a council person in Norristown back in 2003, I tried to pass Domestic Partner legislation in order to make our municipality a more welcoming place. Again, it seemed like a no brainer. I thought I had support from my colleagues, but after the meeting where we got 7-8 mini sermons basically telling us we were all going to Hell if we passed this, it died. Every time I hear of municipalities having problems with this, I shake my head in utter disbelief. We live in a world were pretty much anything goes, but I suppose that means if you are a white male under 50, married with children, own a home, and work in a corporate job. If you are in that class pretty much anything goes. If not, you’re screwed.

This country was born of freedom which means that you should be accepted no matter how God made you. We don’t live in a dictatorship, we don’t live with communism, and we don’t live in a monarchy. There should be no reason why everyone one should be treated the same regardless. Just regardless, because there should be no definitions or classifications needed.

Monday, June 20, 2011


A belated Happy Father’s Day! My day was jammed packed yesterday, but I didn’t get to see my Dad. I intended to see him, but he called early in the morning to say that he didn’t feel well enough for a visit. His health is failing. He has goes into congestive heart failure quite often and now his heart is not pumping hard enough to allow him to get around. Some days he just sleeps. I had sent him a plant, which arrived Saturday and he was grateful for that.

My father and I never had a great relationship. He was away most of the time when I was little, and when I grew up he and I didn’t really see eye to eye on most things. We are actually totally opposite on major beliefs in life. But he is still my father and I feel obligated to pay attention to him. Needless to say, our conversations are short and to the point. I greatly respect his talent, though. He is the most fantastic pianist you will ever hear. You can hear him playing Chopin in this video I did of him.

I remember when I was young. We had moved to Wilmington DE, where he still lives, because he had gotten a job as the director of the Wilmington Music School. As my mother is a pianist also, we had two grand pianos in our living room. My father would invite people over from the school and they would jam for many hours after dinner. My brother and I could plainly hear them in our rooms, but we would sit on the stairs and listen. It was just much more fun to sit there as we felt we were doing something we weren’t supposed to do. When my parents would have parties at our house, music was always showcased. My dad used to do this thing where he would ask someone to pick out three notes on the piano and then compose something right on the spot. A comedian named Steve Allan used to do that too, but with four notes. People would try to trick him up by picking three notes that were on far parts of the piano, but that didn’t faze him at all.

He doesn’t do much playing any longer. He is 86 but still teaches, although he really has one student left. My step mother has taken over doing the teaching. She is 20 years his junior and still going strong. But my father is nearing the end of his life, and it is sad to see him hanging on and slipping away little by little. It seems as if he has lost the strong will to live that he has always seem to have which allowed him to bounce back every time he had a health setback. I keep waiting for that phone call knowing that when it comes even though I have been expecting it, it will still be a sad day.

Happy Father’s Day, Dad.

Thursday, June 16, 2011


The other day I saw the movie "Gasland" by Johsua Fox. It has taken me a little time to digest this movie. The evening I saw it I was so horrified and frightened about the future of our country and mankind, that I could not verbalize my feelings. If you haven’t seen it and have any questions about the Marcellus Shale issue, I strongly suggest you see the film. After you do, I know you will go to the site and send a letter to your congressman (which you can do through the site) asking them to cosponsor the FRAC Act (S.1215/HR.2766) to help make sure that oil and gas production is carried out in a responsible manner.

All the drilling started because Vice President Dick Cheney arranged it so that the process for gas drilling was exempt from the Clean Water Act, the Safe Drinking Water Ace and exempts companies from disclosing the chemicals used during hydraulic fracturing, otherwise known as fracking. This is known as the Halliburton Loophole, so named after the company which developed the process. Ultimately it allows the gas companies to deny responsibility for the damage they are doing to the environment and the people who live in proximity to their wells. The natural gas drilling industry is the fastest boom in history and the process is so deadly it is causing permanent damage to our environment and serious health risks. To give you a small idea of the amount of pollution that is being caused by the process, generally 1-8 million gallons of water may be used to frack a well, and a well may be fracked up to 18 times. A gas field can contain multiple wells. Most of that water is never recovered or recycled. During the process, gas is leaked into the aquifers, which supplies our drinking water. In addition, part of the process includes allowing the chemical-laden water to evaporate into the air carrying residuals of the chemicals used into the air we breathe.  That's is just part of the problem.

Various groups are working to fight to have the FRAC Act (Fracturing Responsibility and Awareness to Chemical Act) passed. This House bill is intended to repeal the loophole and require the gas companies to disclose the chemicals they use. Doing so makes them responsible for any damage they cause and compels them to take remedial action to clean up after themselves. Ultimately it should force them to develop a process that could do this drilling in a manner that could lessen the harm they are causing. Of course the GOP is up in arms about this as they say it causes to gas companies to lose money.

My personal opinion is that we work to find alternative sources of energy that are clean and renewable, but in the short run, we need to make sure that the energy source that we do use is retrieved in a way that does not harm human life or cause damage to the earth. In addition, we need to reduce our need for energy, limit our use of things that require energy, and simplify our lives.

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Old Times

A few weeks ago I was going through an old photo album. I don’t know why. I guess I was tidying up my front bedroom and saw an old photo album and started flipping through it. A picture of my college suite-mate and her boyfriend fell out. I haven’t seen her or heard about her since we graduated and I went to Facebook and tried to find her. I couldn’t remember if she married the guy she was dating in college or what his last name was and tried to search her maiden name but came up blank. Then two days ago I got a friend request from her. Freaky! Because of Facebook, we have reestablished contact and we are now catching up.

She wrote something funny in her email to me and that was that I “sounded so grown up” with what I was doing now. The phrase struck me as odd because when I went to college I felt grown up and thought that I had developed a fair sense of maturity when I left home after high school. I suppose even if I felt mature, I guess I didn’t act mature when we were all starting out as freshmen. I do know that the four of us did some pretty crazy things. They were actually rather mild compared to some of the people I know. But I suppose in retrospect they weren’t the most mature actions. I felt gown up living on my own for the first time in my life. Granted I was in a dorm with three other women, but I was responsible for my own actions and making sure I got up on time and made it to class. I thought I was doing pretty well.

It’s funny looking back 30-35 years to when things were carefree. I didn’t have many responsibilities, certainly not the type I have today, or many worries although back then they sure seemed pretty arduous. Life was just starting out for my suite-mates and me. We learned so much during our time together. There were great adventures – or at least in our mind they were adventurous. That’s what college or at least the time after high school, is all about. It’s a time to spread our wings and be on our own and learn to make our own decisions. I wish everyone who is graduating this month the best. May you learn much and grow much, and make your positive mark on society with whatever you decide to be.

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Music Connection to Math

I recently heard that NASD saved music and arts education with the recent budget consideration. Glad to hear that someone gets it.  Our school systems are shooting themselves in the foot by cutting music programs and then wondering why their students' math and science scores are declining. I have blogged about this before, but our children are growing up without the foundations to understand math because they are growing up without music.

I found a link to the study that shows a connection between math and music. Music has been shown to do many things; sooth the savage beast, help bring back memories, and more. It has also been shown to make you smarter. We are not talking about any kind of music. Today’s pop, while it gets the body moving or begins hearing loss does not have the correct transitions between sound and silence. During the study mentioned in the article above they chose eight symphonies. The composer of those symphonies, while not well known, has a familiar style and contains well-defined transitions which were able to show seen in fMRI scans.

My nephew was a test subject in a study on premature infants. A similar study shows that infants who listened to Mozart gained weight faster -- and therefore become stronger -- than those who don't. Since my brother and his wife are both musicians, it made sense for their son to participate in this study when he was born very premature. I didn’t hear about the outcome of the exact study he participated in, but I do know that my nephew is a smart, strong boy even though he is a little short for his age. I supposed since both of his parents are musicians the music education continues to this day and I do know that he is very good at math and science. 

So when you hear that your local school is cutting music programs you should fight. Music is not just a nice thing to have, it is an essential discipline to learn.  For those of you who are in the NASD, fortunately you don't have to worry about it this time around.  It appears this current board gets it.

Monday, June 13, 2011

Man Down

One of Rihanna’s recent hit songs is Man Down. The song talks about a situation which apparently got really bad and the singer ending up shooting the man who attacked her. The lyrics go on to say that she has to leave because of her crime and that she realizes she could spend the rest of her life in jail.

Domestic violence comes in all shapes and sizes. It crosses all economic levels, ethnicities, and generations. It is responsible for more than three women being murdered by their husbands or boyfriends in this country every day. Domestic/Dating violence costs the US $5.8 billion annually in health related costs, with $4.1 billion for victims needing medical and mental health services. It is rare that a woman strikes back.

There are many resources to help women in a domestic violent situation and it is important that the woman get help to prevent further injury to her. Even if there is no immediate danger, being in a violent situation can make a women 80 percent more likely to have a stroke, 70 percent more likely to have heart disease, 60 percent more likely to have asthma, and 70 percent more likely to drink heavily than women who have not experienced intimate partner violence.

I worked as a hotline counselor for Domestic Abuse Project of Delaware County back in the 80s after I left my own abusive relationship. Many of the women that I spoke to were in far worse situations that I experienced. I spoke to them in the heat of the moment during situations that were terrifying. I was responsible for helping to get these women out and in a safe place so they could make a change. However, many women do not pursue legal action after such incidences because they are more afraid of being alone than they are of their abuser. Women who have lived in an abusive relationship for many years have had their protective network and much of their resources worn away. They are literally prisoners in their own homes; prisoners with a life term and a potential for a horrible death.

There is no excuse for Domestic Violence and if you know someone who is in that kind of a situation you have the power to help. You can help that woman get out or simply donate to a shelter or volunteer to do hotline counseling work. If you are in that situation, I can tell you there is hope. You have choices to make. Even if you have children, there are people and agencies to help get you and yours out to a better place. In Montgomery County you can call Laurel House's office at (610) 277-1860 to find out more. Copy their hotline number down  (800) 642-3150 and keep it handy if you ever need it. You have the power to live a life free of violence.

Sunday, June 12, 2011

History Day

On Saturday, June 11, 2011, the Norristown Preservation Society (NPS) presented their annual History Day event.  I can’t remember which History Day it was, but it was a good one.  The event took place at the Selma Mansion, which NPS has been working very hard to restore.  The weather held out for the most part as far as the rain was concerned, but the humidity was almost unbearable – at least to me. 

I put together a video of this year’s event, being the (unofficial) organization’s video person as well as the treasurer.  I tried to show that we had a great turnout as well as a variety of interesting topics that were presented.  For example, Bruce Stockton gave a talk on the History of the Constitution.    I like to think that I have a fair grasp on our country’s history, but his talk put things in context to me.  I knew about the various documents; the Declaration, Articles of Confederacy, etc, but I did not really know about the timing of them and the importance of them as well as the type of people behind them.  It was fascinating.

Doug Seiler gave a talk on architectural styles in Norristown.  He went over the types of styles, their history, and showed examples of them in the town.  He showed the particulars of each style and talked about why certain features existed.  For example, did you know that the reason windows have a mutton in the center?  Well it's because the window was made to look like a casement window from the outside.  You could have the practicality of a double hung window that had the glamour of a casement.  I never knew that. 

But the big thing was the Ghost Hunters!  Steve Foersch and Lisa Terio of the Pennsylvania Underground Paranormal Society gave a great presentation on the investigation they did for the mansion.  They showed the equipment they used and showed the standing room only crowd clips of video and audio that showed evidence of paranormal activity.  I am sure that many of the people at the event were there just for that presentation and that’s fine.  I hope they also got an appreciation for the mansion and the historic significance of our town.

I used to hate history when I was in school, but I am sure it was just the way it was presented.  Once I started doing my family history and learning where I came from and what events shaped my family, it really put things in context.  Had I been able to partake in an event like yesterday’s event when I was younger, I might have been able to gain a fresh perspective on how important it is for us to know what came before.  History is not a thing filled with dry old facts that we have to memorize.  It’s a record of what has shaped our lives and our views as a country and as a people.  

Friday, June 10, 2011

In Her Cups

I was sent a link to a funny video that is about a voicemail from a woman who is quite inebriated leaving a message for a guy she just met. She rambles on about wanting to hear from the guy and how to get in touch with her. The thing is that now-a-days, you make one stupid mistake like that and it’s all over the Internet for millions to see. There are no last names mentioned, so I guess it is still somewhat anonymous, but she does mention that she works at E-Bay.

My mother always told me that no one respects a “lady in her cups”. I never knew where that phrase came from so I looked it up. The word “cup” has its origin from Middle English cuppe, from Old English, from Late Latin cuppa, drinking vessel, perhaps variant of Latin cpa, tub, cask, and the phrase “in her cups” is an old English phrase which came from the fact that the word “cups” is defined as the drinking of intoxicating beverages, hence saying one is in their cups means they are drunk. Figures my mother would use an English phrase as my grandmother was educated in England.

At any rate doing anything under the influence of any mind altering substance will get you in trouble most of the time. To help, believe it or not there is actually an iPhone app to help you avoid drunk texting and one that will help avoid drunk posting to Facebook or other social media. I gather that would be quite useful for those people who frequently fail to contain themselves once they have drunk more than they should. Maybe the girl in the video should look into it. But then again why deny us the delight of listening to her inebriated rambling?

Thursday, June 9, 2011


For some reason my husband loves to watch America’s Got Talent. I am not sure why and I am sure that he would cringe to know that I blogged about it. But because he is tuning in, I watch too. I must say that many times it turns out to be an enjoyable hour and I do kind of get wrapped up in the acts and what the judges have to say.

What is particularly amusing is that sometimes the acts are so full of themselves. Those are the ones that usually have no talent whatsoever, and then appear incredulous about why the judges buzzed them off. I think it is so funny to see someone come on national television and take such humiliation. Take for example this one man in Minnesota last night. He came out dressed in what appeared to be a diaper covered in body paint and proceeded to grunt and writhe as if he were in extreme agony. At the end of his act two men came out and hosed him down with fire extinguishers. I mean, really. What was that? Then there are acts, like the 6 year old little boy who show surprising talent for dancing. His movements were kind of rudimentary, but for his age they were really quite good. I am anxious to see what more he has to offer.

The judges are entertaining. Piers Morgan usually shoots most of them down with his caustic criticism, Sharon Osborne is very polite even when she says no, and Howie Mandel gets swept up in many of the performers and says yes when sometimes he should say no. The audience is a good judge and will yell and scream if they are good or boo and cajole if they are bad. They show no mercy. I must give it the contestants though because it looks like they must wait for hours to perform. In the beginning of the show it looks like hundreds who show up. It seems as if America sure has hope if not talent, and maybe that’s why my husband likes it so much.

Monday, June 6, 2011


I read an editorial in the Times Herald the other day and the imagery that I experienced from reading it is haunting me.

The opinion article talks about a 13-year-old boy from a Syrian village who was beaten and tortured by the Syrian government. The young boy was taken to a protest by his father and swept up and arrested. The government gave the body to the family but only after having the parents sign a paper saying they would not talk about the condition of the body. However after seeing the body they risked their own lives by sending these images out via the Internet. Then the government tried to say the images were caused by decomposition when it was clear that some of the injuries could not have happened normally.

As a parent, I cannot comprehend having to go through that with my child. I mean I got queasy even seeing him with a skinned knee, let alone the described injuries that poor child endured. As a human, I cannot grasp the ability of a person subjecting another human, being especially a child, to the kind of torture that boy went through. I am just horrified beyond belief to the extent of injuries described his body showed. I also cannot understand how anyone would want to witness that on the Internet, but I supposed those people are out there. I see stories of those kinds of people, albeit fictional, on shows like CSI and Criminal Minds. I know that such things exist but they are beyond my personal scope. I mean what kind of life do these people live to make them become a torturer?

Friday, June 3, 2011

Fighting Cancer

There have been interesting theories submitted about how and why we get cancer and how the best way to treat it. I am fascinated by medicine and thought at one point that I could be a research scientist, but I am terrible at math and I never was smart enough to understand the sciences too much. But when new technology comes out to make people well, I am intrigued by how they came to that decision. I read an article today in Time Magazine about the “new fight on Cancer”. This article dealt with scientists who are working to understand the DNA of cancer cells which will in turn lead to a personal treatment for each cancer patient.

I think I blogged on a presentation given by William Li, whose theory on starving the cancer tumor made so much sense to me. His theory was that by eating the right foods, you can actually starve the cancer cells and shrink tumors. By this way you can derive anti-angiogenesis which prevents the growth of blood vessels that feed a tumor. He suggested that eating cancer-fighting foods was the best way to live.

Both of these articles had the underlying message that cancer is caused by too much sun, radiation, smoking, or other excesses which turn healthy cells in to cancer cells. Both of these articles indicated that by living life simply that cancer could be prevented, but that if we come down with it that there are new treatment options that can be used. But can they really? What is the average person’s chance in using these options? I suppose if you have enough money that anything is possible, but the regular schmoo’s insurance sure isn’t going to pay for the newest treatment option even if it promises to do the trick. The insurance industry is in business to make money, not to save you from your illness. So I guess the best option is to try not to get cancer in the first place. Maybe someday the research will come up with a cure, but for now, we can continue the fight.

Wednesday, June 1, 2011

History Day

For the last 20 years or so, I have been involved with the Norristown Preservation Society (NPS). It is a small organization founded to preserve the legacy of many of the Norristown forefathers as well as increasing the awareness of architectural history. Some of those notables are Gen. Andrew Porter, David Rittenhouse Porter, James Madison Porter and the Porter family. Also, Thomas P. Knox, state agricultural society president and developer of the West End, and Joseph Fornance, who served as a congressman and a borough council president. Most importantly, the organization was founded to save their home, the Selma Mansion at 1301 West Airy Street in Norristown.

When my husband and I first moved into the town, I was pleasantly surprised to find that such an organization existed. At first they did things like house tours, which were always lots of fun because one got to see the insides of many of the finely kept homes. I think though that people felt uncomfortable with strangers traipsing through their residence and that event was eventually stopped. Nothing bad ever happened as far as we know, but it did become quite a challenge to convince people to put their domicile on display.

I have always loved old houses. I suppose growing up with a mother whose family still owned the home she grew up in, I learned to appreciate what has come before. I learn to recognize some of the architectural styles and furnishing, and felt very comfortable in surrounding myself with old pieces. My dream was to own a Queen Ann house, although I am not sure that dream will ever come true.

At any rate, NPS will be presenting their History Day on June 11, 2011. This year, the event will be held at the Selma Mansion, which has had quite a few clean-up days to prepare for it. I did a video of one of the last ones. There will be exhibitors on hand to show various artifacts of local history and some vendors selling glass bottles and paper ephemera. This year, unlike past years, we will have a variety of speakers presenting mini lectures on historic colors, Norristown architecture, the Constitution, and evidence of paranormal activity at the mansion. I hope you will come out and take a peek at the best of Norristown‘s past.

For more information, you can check out the NPS website.