More to Remember – More to Forget

February 28, 2009

We call it senility, but I think there is much more to it. Simple one word answers no longer suffice.

“Why?” You might ask.

Daniel's First Birthday

Daniel's First Birthday

Why is the question that Daniel will ask many times over the next few decades. He’ll learn more and more as he grows older. As Louie Armstrong sang, “He’ll learn much more than I’ll ever know.”

And someday his brain will get overloaded too!

I compare the human brain to a new hard drive on a computer. When it first comes out of the factory, there is very little on it – just enough to perform simple functions. That’s the way babies start off. A large clean surface for recording important things, and a little bit of programming to get things started.

When we’re young, the things our parents consider trivial are being seen as marvels by young eyes experiencing it for the first time. That’s why those things make lasting impressions. It’s also why we can still remember them more than half a century later.

In the meantime, once we’ve seen something many times, it doesn’t make a dent on our recording surfaces… and is quickly forgotten.

I forget why I started writing about this topic.

Let me see…….

It had something to do with Daniel….

That’s why I included a picture of him. Cute kid, isn’t he!

Oh yes! Now I remember. Daniel is the youngest of eleven grandchildren. By the time summer arrives, that number will be up to thirteen.

That means that, in addition to remembering my bride’s birthday and our anniversary, I have to remember the birthdays of all eleven (soon to be thirteen) grandchildren, and each of their parents (that’s another twelve).

I believe it was at Daniel’s birthday party that a good friend, Claudia Mulcahy, suggested that I should be getting used to attending children’s birthday parties. Truer words were never spoken.

I have an older brother who has so many grandchildren that he couldn’t hope to remember them all. One of his daughters came up with a solution a few years back. She buys a bunch of birthday cards, addresses them, and writes a date on each envelope. He simply checks the stack periodically, pulls out the ones that need to be mailed, and signs them. I believe he also tucks an extra piece of paper in each one prior to mailing it.

If my offspring continue to multiply, I may need to look into that system for myself.

This isn’t senility… it’s an overloaded brain.

Hodgepodge Friday

February 27, 2009

The Civil War, the bugles call.

The men stand up straight and tall.

But they’re not smiling at some lady,

They’re just posing for Matthew Brady.

I wrote that verse so long ago that I don’t remember doing it. I do recall that my parents had a rather large tome entitled, “A Pictorial History of the Civil War” and it was simply page after page of photographs taken by Matthew Brady.

I bring this up because on February 27, 1860, Matthew Brady took a picture of a Presidential candidate named Abraham Lincoln.


Another item of interest for February 27th was the U.S.A. hockey team’s victory over the Soviet Union in the 1960 Olympics.

It kind of makes me wonder what will happen on February 27, 2060.


Inherited Glassware

Inherited Glassware

I’m sticking the above photo in here because my bride was afraid I’d lost it and a few others. These are some of the glasses that once belonged to Lu’s parents. She wants her sister to see the pictures so that they can decide whether or not they can trade with each other and wind up with larger matching sets.

I should also note that Lu and I recently purchased stock in the Libbey Glass company (in Toledo) and would encourage everyone to go out and buy new stemware. If nothing else, go to a fancy restaurant, order wine, and accidentally break the glasses.

Yes, I’m being greedy with that request. So I’ll make another that won’t be at all greedy…

Look on the right side of this page at the list of web sites listed under BLOGROLL. There are two marked AAA: God’s Global Barnyard and Mission Honduras. These are both very worthwhile charities. Like everyone else, the sour economy is not helping them – but you can!

I did label this as a hodgepodge, didn’t I?

Another Day for This and That

February 26, 2009
No man is an island

No man is an island

And our kitchen wouldn’t be complete without the island. I assure you, the cardboard top is temporary.

Connecting the components of the island was simple compared to putting up the cabinet over the refrigerator. Once that was in place, it was a breeze installing the adjoining cabinets.

In the home stretch

In the home stretch

We have two major items left on the agenda. One is to remount the microwave over the stove. Lu and I will need to figure out how to do that. The second item is installation of the counter-tops. We’ve contracted a company to do that.

Last evening, Lu put many of our groceries, pots and pans, and other stuff into the new cabinets. We can now see the tops of our dining room and kitchen tables. Progress!


This day in history had a surprising tidbit. On this day in 1957, the last episode of Dragnet was broadcast on the radio. I was twelve years old at the time, so I might have listened to it with my father. He really enjoyed listening to the radio shows of the time.

What I find surprising is that Dragnet – and other shows – were still on the radio in 1957. Basing my thoughts on nothing more than my memory, I would’ve guessed all the drama shows had already moved over to television.


One final note, I recently received a letter from the president of Edinboro University. He was congratulating me on my career accomplishments “as recently announced in the Edinboro News.”

I went on-line to try to learn what he was talking about. It turns out the editor of the magazine had taken information I’d posted on a web site aimed at the alumni… to allow us to contact one another. The blurb in the magazine really didn’t say much more than what I had stated in my profile. Unfortunately, the way it was written demonstrated a very poor understanding of English grammar.

I once read an article written by a person with a PhD. The grammar was unbelievably bad. When I learned that the author had earned the advanced degree in a field other than English, I was somewhat relieved. Yet, it seems to me that anyone smart enough to achieve that sort of degree should know enough to hire an English major to edit the work.

Better yet, anyone in college should be forced to take classes so they too can be as smart as a fifth grader. I’ve stated this before, but it bears repeating: too many people are graduating from high school and colleges without the basic skills of communications. And text messaging is compounding the problem.

That’s my opinion. It’s my blog and I’ll say what I want to say.

Of course, even if I didn’t have a blog, being a senior citizen, I’m entitled to complain about the younger generations. It goes with the territory.

And so is Edinboro!

February 25, 2009

That was the second half of the headline in the Erie Times on February 26, 1964. The beginning of the headline had something to do with some twenty-two year old boxer named Cassius Clay. As I recall, he knocked out Sonny Liston in the seventh round to become the heavyweight champion.

Come to think of it, the complete headline read, “Clay is the Greatest – and so is Edinboro.

During the time leading up to the boxing match, Clay was mouthing off about being the greatest. When he won the fight, he wasted no time proclaiming, “I am the greatest!” At that point, no one could argue.

In the meantime, Edinboro State College’s basketball team (I don’t have to add the ‘men’s’ part – there was no women’s team back then) was working hard to win the regular season title for the western half of the Pennsylvania teacher’s colleges league. I’m sure they had a fancier title for the conference, but that name has escaped me.

On February 25, 1964, Edinboro played a non-conference game against its arch-rival, Gannon College, from nearby Erie, Pennsylvania. For whatever reason, Gannon won most of the encounters during my time at Edinboro.

Another thing I recall is that we always felt we were shortchanged by the Erie news outlets. Granted, there were a few colleges located right in Erie proper – including Gannon College, and we were about twenty-five miles away. We still believed we deserved as much ink as those other schools… especially Gannon!

On that particular night, the basketball team of Edinboro was bound and determined to beat Gannon. They were playing the game at home with a packed field house. Dan Petchel, Jim Sims, Wendell Rojik, Rich Forcucci, Ken Barker, Dave Shenefelt, Don Dugan, and the rest of the team never let up. I don’t recall the final score, but I vividly recall celebrating our biggest victory of the season.

Waking up the next morning and seeing that headline in the Erie Times made the win over Gannon that much more meaningful.

By the way, for the younger readers who may not recall a boxer named Cassius Clay, he changed religions and his name. He is now known as Muhammad Ali.


The remodeling project is coming along nicely. I’ve reconnected the plumbing to the dishwasher and installed a few more cabinets. I’ll call the counter-top guy this morning. Hopefully, the job will be complete before the end of the year.

Let’s face it, I still have to do the baseboards and molding… and I’ve been known to procrastinate over the small stuff.

A Sad Statement

February 24, 2009

My bride and I attended a birthday party for Anna Grayce Knight, our granddaughter, at a public park in Cherokee County. It was a beautiful park with magnificent play equipment for children of all ages.

So, what really caught my attention?

Vandalism protection

Vandalism protection

In Georgia, similar fences are placed around vending machines at the Interstate rest areas. I would venture to guess that such safeguards are becoming the ‘in’ thing.

What a shame!

As a small child, I can remember folks not bothering to lock the doors of their homes when they went away for several days. Merchants often had soda machines in front of their stores; patrons would pay either before or after taking a bottle out of the cooler, but they always paid.

I stopped at a small store in Hot Coffee, Mississippi one time and was told that the original owner would leave the store open and unattended when he went home for lunch. People would leave notes describing the items they took in his absence.

It’s a shame that shopkeepers can no longer trust customers as they once did… and the honest folks pay the price.

Prices for merchandise of all sorts are higher to cover the costs of the items stolen by shoplifters. When vending machine operators have to enclose their machines in chain link fencing – with special openings that cost more to make – we all pay a bit more for that beverage.

I learned a long time ago that there are many people who are just plain thieves; they have no qualms about taking things that don’t belong to them. Then there are others who do have qualms, but take things anyway… finding a way to justify it.

I recall a time I bought a new color television. I paid a few hundred dollars for it. Shortly thereafter a friend told me he could have gotten me a much better one for less than a hundred dollars. I asked my friend if it ever occurred to him that the cheaper TV was most likely stolen. His philosophy was ‘I didn’t steal it’ so it was okay. Somebody else would buy it if he didn’t.

In my mind, that is also stealing. I believe the law agrees with me on that point. If people didn’t buy stolen items, thieves would only steal for their own personal use. That would change a major problem into a much smaller problem.

But, once again, the persons buying ‘hot’ items justify their actions by insisting the merchants charge too much and don’t deserve to make big profits. They refuse to see the connection between stolen merchandise and higher prices.

There’s a farmer in the area who sets up a produce stand during harvest time. He leaves a box for people to pay for the vegetables they take. It’s nice to know there are still people who trust in the human nature of the honest folks.

But I won’t tell you where this guy’s stand is. I don’t want to ruin it for him.

We have to wonder what sort of fencing he’d have to put around his produce stand to keep the customers honest.

Remodeling Progress

February 24, 2009

Well, I missed a day of ‘something new every day’ on my blog. That’s because I was busy helping a couple of friends provide something new for our home.

View of the new kitchen from the dining room

View of the new kitchen from the dining room

As you can see, we covered up most of the portions of the wall we didn’t bother to paint.

Still need to put the microwave back

Still need to put the microwave back

I’m hoping the microwave will still fit. There was barely enough room to get the stove back into place. This photo also shows that only part of the island is where it needs to be.

The window and sink side of things

The window and sink side of things

We spent a good bit of time getting the sink cabinet centered under those windows. I’m still not sure why, but Donnie Culver, a home builder friend, insisted that it be properly aligned.

We still have a few cabinets left to install. Then the countertop guy will come in to measure. Eventually, we’ll finish the base board, molding, and trim, and we’ll be able to put all our stuff back into the cabinets.

My bride and I love the way everything is coming together. We can’t begin to thank Dan Moore from Home Depot enough.

So, it may not be a very good excuse, but that’s why I didn’t get on the computer yesterday to write a post for my blog.

I could have said the dog ate it.

In the meantime, to make up for things, I’m writing a second article. If you’ve read this far, you’ve already seen it.

My Legacy

February 22, 2009

Sometimes I think writing is in my genetic makeup. My father loved to write poetry. While I’ve dabbled in that area myself, I’m more inclined to write prose.

One of my main purposes in writing this blog is to create a legacy.

One of my direct ancestors was Daniel Leeds who was born in England in 1651 and came to the American colonies around 1677. His was one of the first almanacs published in America. When he broke away from the Quaker religion, he write numerous pamphlets attacking the Quaker leaders; they in turn wrote many pamphlets in retaliation.

The net result is that we know more about Daniel than many of our other ancestors. The written word tells us a great deal about a person.

I’ve written a number of posts about my childhood, my education, and some of my jobs. So, in many ways, this blog is my autobiography. More importantly, I’ve expressed my beliefs on a number of subjects including politics and religion.

While I try to keep my blog from becoming a controversial site, I try to express my views without causing my readers to become enraged with me. My purpose is to get people to return on a regular basis and to tell their friends and relatives to stop by.

Finally, I hope to encourage others to do what I’m doing. There are many ways to get started with a blog. Simply go to and they’ll walk you through it.

I’ve spent many years trying to research my family tree. I have about 4,000 names in my files and many more to add. In most cases, I can tell you when someone was born, when he or she was married – and to whom, any children that resulted from the marriage, and when the person died. Beyond that, with the exception of Daniel, it is guess work. There is no way to accurately describe the kind of person an ancestor was; I don’t know what level of formal education a person had, what type of job, and nothing about how he or she felt about the events occurring in the world around him or her.

Hopefully, a couple of hundred years from now when my descendants decide to research their ancestors, they’ll learn all about me.

They had sure better apprecaite my efforts!

A Day Spent Thriving

February 21, 2009

I’m a bit late adding today’s post. I was attending a training session for Thrivent Financial for Lutherans chapter leaders.

During the sessions I was introduced to the following video.

I’ll have more to say on this subject in the coming days.

Remodeling – What Have We Done?

February 20, 2009

The cabinets are here. I unpacked a few and put them where they belong.

The new pantry

The new pantry

This one has pull-out shelves making it more difficult to lose things in the back… we hope!

Grouping at the breakfast bar

Grouping at the breakfast bar

The cabinet on the left may become part of the center island. It’s a good thing I didn’t bolt it into the wall yet.

I am definitely in over my head on this. I read the instruction booklet, viewed several web sites and a video at the “This Old House” web site, and immediately drove to Home Depot to talk with Dan Moore, the man who sold us the cabinets.

He tells me not to worry.

Maybe after I open the other boxes I’ll feel better. This is some of them…

About half of the unopened boxes

About half of the unopened boxes

I think I’ll go back to bed and assume the fetel position.

Early School Daze

February 19, 2009

Watching Jeff Foxworthy’s “Are you Smarter than a fifth grader?” makes me realize one of the major problems with our educational system. We’re trying to teach our children too much too early!

When I think back to my elementary school experience, I recall lots of time spent on reading, writing, and arithmetic. I don’t ever recall anatomy lessons; and music was simply learning the scales and singing. If I’d been asked to tell where The Femur was, I’d probably have said, somewhere in Africa.

Art class back them was anything from finger painting to making masks using clay and papier-mâché. It wasn’t until my college Art Appreciation class that I was taught about various artists and styles.

The same is true about music. All through my first twelve years, the only thing we concentrated on was reading music and performing it. The history of music from the Gregorian Chant on, and naming composers and styles were all saved for college courses.

Simply put, schools today expect the basic skills to occur automatically while the teachers try to instill a bunch of stuff that most of the students will never use.

I should have seen this coming when I was teaching school back in 1967. One of my superiors wanted me to teach modern math to my emotionally disturbed first grade class. I refused to do it. These children couldn’t be given a dollar, sent to the store to buy a fifty cent item, and know how much change they should receive. There was no way they’d understand, or even care about, counting using a base other than ten.

I later learned that my superior was working on an advanced degree and was trying to get me to run his experiments.

Today I teach adult education and am flabbergasted by the number of high school and college graduates who cannot write a simple paragraph. When I hear them struggle to read material that has been written on the sixth grade level, I understand why they are unable to write clearly.

A couple of decades ago when I was writing training materials for IBM, I insisted we were making a mistake writing our manuals on the sixth grade level. Needless to say, I lost the battle.

As far as I’m concerned, we are giving schools a free pass for failure. If schools did their jobs as they once did, graduates would easily understand materials written at a twelfth grade level.

I often hear the argument about class size. In my grade school, our classrooms often held thirty to forty students in two different grades. This was with one teacher and no teacher’s aides. Most of those students went on to college and earned degrees.

Based on my experiences with today’s college graduates, I wonder how much one must do to graduate. It seems no professor wants to hurt anyone’s self-esteem by giving them bad grades.

Of course, some of this might simply reflect the helicopter parents who might threaten to sue if their precious child isn’t given a good grade.

Therein lies another problem with today’s educational system.

I was raised by parents who firmly believed that sparing the rod spoiled the children. As a student, paddling was a tool that was available to all school administrators and most teachers. Getting a swat was embarrassing and often led to additional punishment at home.

Today’s teachers can get in trouble with parents by simply suggesting a child is a brat. If there is no respect for a teacher, very little education can occur.

Without question, I am ‘old school’ in these matters. I firmly believe if we went back to ‘old school’ curricula and discipline, our children would benefit greatly. But who am I to argue with the likes of Dr. Spock and his followers?

If I went on Foxworthy’s show, I might not be able to answer all those questions; but I’ll bet I can read and comprehend better than any of his class of fifth graders. I’ll also bet I can write better than they can.

By the way, is The Femur in Europe… near The Hague?


UPDATE: The cabinets have arrived!