Saturday, December 11, 2010

How you know you are not a genius

Want an example of the the difference between genius and the rest of us just regular smart people?
Everyday kids come home from school and answer the question, what did you do in school today? One day a boy told his dad that he had taken the Salk vaccine that day. Was it bad the dad asked? No, the boy replied. They put the medicine in a sugar cube and put it in a spoon. Then we just took it.
A thousand parents got told that story. Only one, Dick Sherman, sat down and wrote "Just a spoonful of sugar helps the medicine go down" for Mary Poppins.

Sunday, November 21, 2010

FDR, Steve and me

My daughter takes a class on Presidential Rhetoric. As the (only) grade for the class each student picks a president, a speech and then travels to that President's library to do research. She decided to do a Presidential press secretary rather than a President and chose Steve Early who was FDR's press secretary for all four terms. He was also the first Press secretary ever and set the mold for all others. She asked if I would like to go along as her research assistant which took me all of two seconds to say yes. So early Wednesday morning we headed off to Hyde Park New York, arriving around noon at FDR's library.There we spent the next three days, arriving at our desk at 8:45am and leaving at 5pm when they closed the library.

It was pretty amazing. Early it turns out was a bit of an obsessive and a pack rat. He kept a daily diary for all four terms which Melissa poured over. He also kept scrapbooks ,huge, heavy scrapbooks, approximately two a year. They were my territory. In them he kept every newspaper clipping in which he was mentioned, which was a minimum of several a day all across the country, photos of every trip he took, menus and seating charts from any important dinner he attended, and every Christmas and birthday card he received over the four terms. He also ,of course, kept every handwritten note from FDR and Eleanor. It was overwhelming and absorbing.
What was amazing, in addition to the sheer amount of stuff, was that fact that we were allowed to handle it all. There I was holding drafts of FDR's speech to Congress with his handwritten notes all over them, personal handwritten notes from Eleanor, and letters from every famous person who passed through the administration.I found myself lost in their world,laughing at their inside jokes, worrying when Early's son was injured in the war, terribly sad when FDR passed and moved by the hundreds of condolence cards sent to Mrs. Early from every boldface name at the passing of 'Steve'.
Most everyone who worked at the library was super nice and helpful but of course there was the one archivist on a power trip. She spent every minute criticizing or correcting us on some weird issue which didn't seem to bother any of the other staff. For example, I couldn't carry papers from my desk to the copier which was about 2 feet away. She wanted me to place the paper on a cart and then wheel it to the copier. When I pointed out that the cart was larger than the space between my desk and the copier she 'compromised' by making me a cardboard tray out of a box lid on which I could carry the paper. She also freaked out every time I took my sweater off,insisting that I either had to wear it or put it in the locker. Since I was constantly taking it of and on (I got cold when sitting for hours but hot when lifting the scrapbooks) I would try and sit on it or hid it on the floor under my desk. She also objected to Melissa when she leaned over a folder or when her folder was not perfectly lined up on the desk. Won't miss her.
We didn't get to do any sightseeing. I've been in this area before and there's tons to see. I recommend a Home of Franklin D. Roosevelt: Roosevelt-Vanderbilt sites, Hyde Park, New Yorkweekend trip if you have never been. We did get out to two meals. One at a local restaurant, Twist, which was decent and the other night at the Italian restaurant in the CIA ( the Culinary Institute of America). which was awesome and so much fun. Everyone, front and back of the house is a student and are very happy to talk to you about their schooling and career plans.

Saturday, November 13, 2010

bits and pieces

A few random thoughts

Although my H is a long way from retirement the few conversions I had today made me realize he needs to begin preparing. No not financially, though that would be nice, but hobby-wise. While visiting my cousin's photography show at a local craft show we ran into a few men who were retired. One was planning the perfect way to rob a bank and seemed to have given the matter way too much thought. Another had purchased 50 Roman pillars and was planning to build a Chinese pagoda house as soon as he found the right piece of land. He mentioned his wife was less than pleased. Time to encourage the taking up of golf?

In a 'did I read that sign correctly' moment I saw the Gwynedd Mercy Academy's fall musical is Fiddler on the Roof. Worth the price of admission to see the lovely Catholic girl playing Tevya.

Supposedly the Dean of Harvard Law calls applicants on the phone for a 5 minute interview before final decisions are made. First there is the question of whether the Dean has something better to do with 42 hours ( Harvard accepts 500 kids; no idea how many phone calls are made).The question he uses his valuable time to ask? Why Harvard? Is you must be f-ing kidding me an acceptable answer?

Sunday, October 31, 2010

what's the president done for me lately?

I know it's fashionable to complain about the president but sometimes it feels like we are a nation of adolescents whining about how our Dad just doesn't get us. Maybe when we grow up we'll realize he was actually doing his best and a pretty good job at that. So next time you hear someone complain ( or maybe it's you) that the obama admin hasn't doesn't anything here's a list. It's long so I divided it into the economy, health care, Israel, science, the environment, education, military & vets rights, so you can go to your interest.
This is a shorter version of a list of 244 accomplishments. Feel free to check out the full list at,compiled by a university professor in Florida.


• Increased infrastructure spending (roads, bridges, power plants…) * Note: Bush was the first president since Herbert Hoover to not make infrastructure a priority

• Authorized the US auto industry rescue plan ,two GMAC rescue packages, the housing rescue plan and new FHA residential housing guarantees

• Authorized a $789 billion economic stimulus plan * Note: 1/3 in tax cuts for working-class families; 1/3 to states for infrastructure projects; 1/3 to states to prevent the layoff of police officers, teachers, etc. at risk of losing their jobs because of state budget shortfalls

• Authorized the federal government to make more loans available to small businesses and ordered lower rates for federal loans to small businesses

extended unemployment benefits for one million workers

Credit card companies are prohibited from raising rates without advance notification or arbitrarily if customers are paying bills on time

• Signed historic Wall Street reform bill * Note: Designed to end abusive practices and promote consumer protections

• Signed the HIRE Act to stimulate the economic recovery * Note: The bill includes: tax cuts for small businesses who hire someone unemployed for at least two months; small businesses can write off their investments in equipment this year; etc.

Health Care

· Signing laws to expand children's health insurance (financed by a 61-cent per pack increase in the federal cigarette tax).

- Prevents insurance companies from denying coverage to individuals/family members with pre-existing health conditions

- Prevents insurance companies from placing lifetime limits on benefits

- Bans “rescission” so insurance companies can’t cancel coverage if individuals keep their policies current or if they become ill

- An individual’s out-of-pocket healthcare expenses are capped

Closes the “donut hole” (Part D) for Medicare prescription drug coverage

all large (over 50 employees) employers must offer health insurance to employees or pay a fine

- Small businesses can get a tax credit if they offer health care

- There are hardship exemptions if individuals can’t afford health insurance

- Families can keep their children in college on their plans through age 26


• Renewed loan guarantees for Israel

• Signed the USIFTA trade agreement with/for Israel

• Authorized a $550m advance for Israel (six months prior to the scheduled date) in order to accommodate Israeli’s economic and financial needs

• Continued agreements with Israel for cultural exchanges, immigration, etc.


· Put a hold on Artic oil exploratory digging until environmental impacts are clear.

• Reengaged in the treaties/agreements to protect the Antarctic * Note: These were suspended under Bush

• Reengaged in the agreements/talks on global warming and greenhouse gas emissions * Note: These were suspended under Bush

• Overturned Bush-era rule that weakened the Endangered Species Act

• Announced plans to purchase fuel efficient American-made fleet for the federal government

• Ended the Bush-era policy of not regulating and labeling carbon dioxide emissions

Saturday, October 23, 2010

empty nest/nesting

So my last one went off to college in August and I thought I would soon thereafter be writing my 'empty nest' blog. Ha. This is the least empty empty nest I have ever seen. Shortly after leaving both kids were home for Rosh Hashona, then again for Yom Kipper, then again for Fall break,yes both of them, which was immediately followed by Parents weekend. Yes, for both of them. This weekend all the Penn State kids are home so my son decided to come home also. Now I know I'm very lucky to have them so close and also that they obviously love us and like coming home. But really, how am I suppose to experience the despair and anguish of empty nest-hood if it's always full?

On a pat on the back note, I cleaned out several of my basement closets. Just so you understand what a feat this was among the treasures were the dress I wore to the rainbow room for my 30th birthday, a Laura Ashley dress purchased in London during my jr year abroad, numerous suits, skirts and blazers last worn before I was pregnant with my oldest and several million stuffed animals. I also threw out all the cans I had put away just before the millennium in anticipation of the end of the world. Felt great. It will feel even better when I throw out the 25 white trash bags and get the 15 black ones to Impact!

Sunday, October 3, 2010

the worst trip ever

Just back from a one day Dental solutions for sleep apnea course in Atlanta. Well really in a hotel next to the Atlanta airport. The course was great but getting to and fro was a nightmare.
Flew Air Tram out Thursday night. We boarded (four of us) an hour late and then proceeded to sit on the runway for over two hours in the pouring rain. To make it lovelier water was dripping on everyone's head the entire two hours. It's hard to read a water soaked magazine. Well not the entire time. There was the dry, and very hot, 15 minutes when they turned off the engine. Did I mention the poor baby who screamed most of the two hours and the stink bug that kept flying around? The crew kept us 'informed' but announcing every 20 minutes that they had no idea when we would take off or even if we would take off at all. We did finally,and managed to get into bed by midnight to catch a terrific six hours of sleep.
The course ended a little early Friday and we were at the airport by 4pm for a 7:30pm flight. Great, we figured, maybe US Air can put us on the 5:30 flight home instead. Ha, ha.
It took 20 minutes to even find a US air person to talk to as the only one at the counter, Clarissa, was 'on a break'. Her replacement informed us that the Air Tran guy in Phila, Larry,must have ripped off both our out going and return tickets and therefore we 'didn't have any tickets' to Philadelphia. (For some bizarre reason Travelocity had issued us paper tickets- they're on my sh-t list too) We pointed out that our receipt showed our reservation, we had confirmed our reservation online, and selected our seats, and we had ID to prove we were who we said we. Her response; too bad. We asked to talk to a supervisor. Supervisor Gail responded, 'that's a problem' before walking away.
We headed down to Air Tran to see if they could help. They were very nice but needed to talk to Philadelphia to see if they could find our torn tickets. After an hour they realized the Air Tran people in Phila are nasty and unhelpful. It looked like our only option was a 10:00pm flight out of Atalanta on Air Tran. As you can imagine, this did not go over well with 4 people running on minimum sleep and all facing big days ahead. (Baseball tournament, church festival and a dinner party to throw, respectively).
Finally, the Air Tran supervisor, Alma, figured out a way to process us onto the US airways flight with a trip interruption form and at 6:00pm walked us down to US Air. Guess who's back? The 'I'm on a break ' girl. First she tried to ignore us and then tried to insist that she didn't know how to process it but Alma, our hero from Air Tran, made her. When she printed up our boarding passes I noticed they said Row 25. Our reservation was in Row 10. When I pointed this out to her she said, And I swear this is true!, "Well you weren't here on time to check in so we gave your seats away". I have no idea what stopped me from leaping across the counter and strangling her to death. I'm sure no jury would have convicted me. Alma was so appalled at the way US air treated us that she said she was going to process four business upgrades for us on AirTran. She was so nice I didn't have the heart to point out that AirTran was being bought by Southwest who doesn't have business class. We hugged good bye and went off to security.
When we got on the plane we discovered that it was 3/4 empty and not only was row 10 open so was row 11-20. In fact the only rows not open were 22-25!
Glad to report we are all home safe and sound. No names have been changed in the telling of this story as there are no innocents to protect. Could someone please, please, buy US Airways and fire everyone who works there?

Saturday, September 25, 2010

meeting sestak

I've been volunteering at the Sestak for Senate campaign off and on. A bit more off recently with the holidays but hopefully more on in the future. Today I got to spend a few hours handing out literature and stickers at an event in King of Prussia and was lucky enough to hear Admiral/Congressman Sestak speak.
He was terrific, well spoken, passionate but not shrill or overly polished, just a guy with no jacket, shirt sleeves rolled up, talking about his wish to make our country a better place. He spoke about Tikkun olam , the Jewish responsibility to repair the world and how that was the duty of all Americans. He said that his 31 years in the Navy made him not an ideologue but a problem solver and that he wanted to be not a politician but a public servant.
Later he passed me in the hall and I called out great speech. He stopped and said really, I just came from two veteran's funerals and felt bad I didn't get to mention that. I told him he came off very real and not to change his style at all. I got a big hug before he went off to the next meeting. Being the good jewish mother that I am I stopped his handler on my way out and gave him my bag of soft pretzels so they wouldn't be hungry. He said he would try and get him to eat.
The man who introduced him noted that Sestak's opponent, Toomey, represents some of the worse aspects of present day politics; the revolving door and the desire to eliminate any discussion or difference of opinion. After having worked on Wall Street Toomey then went to Congress to pass laws to end financial regulation and oversight of Wall Street. We all know how well that worked out. He also worked for a lobbying group whose main purpose was to eliminate any moderate voices in the Republican part, allowing the tea party to flourish. He said what people need to realize is that this is not your grandparents, or even your parents, Republican party. The Republican party has destroyed itself, giving up their ideas and beliefs and nothing seems to be left but fear and hate. The alternative to the Democratic party is no longer alternative ideas but is instead anger and divisiveness.

It felt great to give some of my time to such a great guy and hopefully have hugged the next Senator from Pennsylvania.
Want to learn more? Go to

Sunday, September 5, 2010


Just back from an awesome trip to Colorado. Flew into Denver and spent the day wandering the city which was very nice and had some great restaurants. They managed to save all their old factories and have turned them into terrific looking loft apartments and bars and restaurants. In the middle of the city is the baseball stadium which looks great and really gives a city a nice vibrancy. Sorry ours isn't located in our downtown area. The next day we drove an hour away to Colorado Springs. Toured the air force academy which was really beautiful and huge. The cadets do their line up at lunch which was great fun to watch. There they were marching in perfect precision on two sides of a field when suddenly they starting screaming and running madly toward each other, flags and bayonets in hand. It looked like a scene from Braveheart or Robin Hood and we thought they had all gone mad and we were about to witness a carnage. However someone explained to us that the next day was the opening football game and this was their version of a pep rally. Then off to tour the Olympic training facility which was a bit dull unless you are an Olympic geek like me who gets ecstatic looking at the pool Michal Phelps swam in and the weights Apollo Ono lifted. Finished the day at the Garden of the Gods, a beautiful area of red rocks.
Left the next day at 9am for Rocky Mountain National Park,and spent till after 6pm that night driving and exploring. The park is amazing, mountains, trees, wildflowers, lakes. Denver is a mile high, 5280 feet above sea level and we went to over 12,000 feet in the park. At that level you are officially in the tundra eco system ( remember 5th grade?), above the treeline and the temp dropped to about 55 degrees. The road we took through the park is one of those winding edge of the cliff things and for some unfathomable reason has no guard rails. Not sure they would have helped with a 10,000 foot drop but still...I spent much of the ride leaning towards Ken as if my weight shift would prevent the car from crashing over the edge. We survived.
Near the end of the day we pulled over where some people were standing and wound up no more than an arm length away from a mother and baby moose. The were so close you could see how soft and velvety their fur was and look right into their eyes. It's easy to see how people forget and reach out and try to touch them. Not a good idea as a female is usually around 700 pounds. Then we all spotted the Dad maybe about 15 feet away laying down in the woods with an enormous set of antlers. ( Insert 'what a rack' joke here) We waited,along with 20 of our new friends and got the treat of a life time. He stood up and wandered into a clearing incredibly close to us where he proceeded to eat, scratch his massive antlers against a tree and make the most bizarre noises for over 30 minutes. I can't believe how lucky we were. Ken of course has it all on photo and video.
The next day we were headed back to Denver for 2 nights and decided to stop in Boulder along the way. We took a walking tour with a Univ of Boulder sociology professor who was so terrific and so enthusiastic that by the end we can cancelled our hotel in Denver and had hotel and dinner reservations in Boulder. We loved Boulder. It is really special place. An incredibly beautiful and walkable 'downtown' all perfectly maintained where no building is over 3 stories so you see the very blue sky and breathtaking mountains no matter where you go. Of course everyone is into hiking and biking and is very environmentally and health conscious which we kind of expected. The city is full of attractive and fit people. What we didn't expect was that the combination of the university and several federal research facilities has made Boulder a center of entrepreneurial activity and bought in amazing wealth in search of start up companies. The restaurants are expensive, with innovative and amazing food and 20 page wine lists and were filed with the kind of well dressed, sophisticated looking crowd you expect to find more on the east coast. Except everyone is wonderfully nice and friendly! The town has it all. We went to a farmers market, saw the Univ of Colorado stampede (a pep rally that marches through town before the big football game), took a walk along the foothills of the mountains, and shopped and ate! Did I forget to mention that Colorado has medical marijuana and Boulder seems to be its center? It's fascinating socially and legally and I'll put that in another post. But all good things must end, so we said our goodbyes to the mountains and the moose and headed home.

Monday, August 30, 2010

So much for resolutions...

We all have things we resolved to never do, or let happen again. The best laid plans...somewhere after high school I resolved to never let a boy make me listen to music I hate, especially Led Zeppelin, and never to sit by the phone , staring at it, willing it to ring. Or worse, making myself crazy trying to determine if calling 'him' would make me seen desperate.
Then I had a son. First came years of listening to his music on the car radio or blasting through the house, most of it good, some of it, Led Zeppelin. Resolution 1 down the drain. And then, after moving him into his freshman dorm on Friday, I sat for the entire weekend staring at my cell phone, willing it to ring, or text , or email. There went resolution 2! Finally Ken texted him late Saturday afternoon and since then have had some texts and even 2 (quick) phone calls). Yea!
All is well.

Monday, August 9, 2010

Wash Dc, rappers and museums...

On the road with my favorite traveling companions! We needed to move Melissa out of her summer Washington digs so we decided to make a mini weekend out of it. Ken, Ross and I went down on Friday morning and headed over the the Museum of American history where Melissa met us after finishing her last day of work. Had lots of fun seeing Lincoln's hat, the ruby red slippers, James Brown's cape and of course Michelle's dress. Then over to her apartment where ,shockingly, she was completely packed up and ready to go. Of course, not shockingly, she had so much stuff it filled the car and the 3 of us walked back to the hotel. Had a great dinner, did the mandatory photo op in front of the White House and walked over to the W hotel where the rooftop bar is suppose to have an amazing view. After standing in line for 10 minutes we were told we couldn't go up because Ross didn't have ID to prove he was 21. Annoyed, the kids went off to the bathroom while Ken and I went outside. Bored after waiting for 2 seconds Ken wandered off to talk to the guy hanging out in front of one of those huge touring buses you see going down the highway and wonder if they belong to some rock band on tour. Guess what, they do, and they are very cool inside. Turns out this one belongs to Outkast and within 5 minutes the four of us were inside the bus drinking beers and hanging out with Angelo, Andre 3000's first cousin.(One of the most innovative and successful groups in hip-hop, OutKast comprising André "André 3000" Benjamin and Antwan "Big Boi" Pattonhas sold more than 20 million records over the last 14 years, both members have also now branched out into film acting)

We spent an amazing hour hearing all about their life together in Atlanta both as kids and now, what life is like on the road, and why Outkast (minus Andre) was in Washington DC (a long funny story involving a lot of money and a strip club). Angelo had lots of great life advice for the kids, most of it completely unprintable here. After hanging out on the bus for over an hour and getting the most bizarre looks from the people who wandered off and on the bus ( I guess a suburban family of four is not what you expect to find on a rappers bus)Angelo made Big Boi stop before getting in the (large black) SUV to the 'gentlemens' club so that Ross could get his picture taken with him. It was all pretty thrilling.

The next day,joined by one of Melissa's friends from Penn, we went off to a tour of the Capital which wasn't bad and then spent the afternoon at the Newseum (the museum of News). It was without a doubt one of the best museums we have ever been to and worth a trip to Wash dc. Not cheap but the tickets are good for two days. We spent over 3 hours there and loved every minute. Another great dinner, but no rappers to hang out with so we went over to the Lincoln Monument which is so beautiful at night with it's view of the Washington monument and the reflecting pool.
Back home on Sunday...Ken and Ross in the car, piled high with Melissa's junk and her and I by train!

Sunday, July 25, 2010

Inception & More

Saw Inception last night. First I need to tell you that this movie is revealing a previously unknown generation gap . My parents and 3 of their friends saw it opening weekend and Hated it. Seriously hated it, as in 'worst movie ever, wish we had walked out' hated it. My daughter reported that her boyfriends' grandparents, who live in new york and do not know my parents or their friends, also hated it. Their reaction, combined with some pretty weak reviews and ,in my opinion, very unappealing coming attractions, had me crossing it off my list.
Then my daughter and several of her friends went to see it, over a two day period. Their reaction; incredible, unbelievable,loved it,amazing.
What! Now I was totally confused. Sure people often disagree on a movie but this seemed like a pretty extreme difference of opinion.
So, obviously I felt the obligation to see it myself. I was, I think, well prepared by a friend's comments/advice. 'At first I tried to fill in all the pieces of information and back story that the movie didn't give me and that was making me not like it. Then I just relaxed and went along for the ride.'
My verdict,echoed by husband, Loved it!
The movie seems to start in the middle, as if you had walked in 15 minutes late and missed some crucial piece of information. But, as the movie points out that's how dreams are; you never remember how you get somewhere in a dream you are just there in the middle of a situation. So I just sat back and enjoyed the ride, really, really, enjoyed the ride.
So why the extreme difference of opinion split along generational lines? Not completely sure. Perhaps my parents generation requires a more lineal plot line? A movie with a more strict beginning , middle and an end? I know my parents get frustrated when the computer, or TV, or DVD doesn't work and they don't know why. While,to me, as long as we can get it to work, the reason it suddenly went haywire is not all that important. Perhaps long term exposure to constantly evolving and complicated technology makes us better able to enjoy something without needing to fully comprehend it. After all I can enjoy my laptop and phone even if I don't use, or know how to use, a good chunk of it's functions. Or perhaps I'm totally wrong! Feel free to chime in.
On a side note, I'm trying to figure out how to plant the ideas of veneers as a life necessity into Ken's patients brains, so if you can do that be sure and call!

Saturday, July 17, 2010

the age of men

I always thought that it was women who had the most trouble with aging. Fear of losing our looks and the power that goes with that...but lately I've been thinking that it's men that seem to have more extreme issues.
Somewhere around late 40s/early 50s men seem to hit this wall where they look at their life and often realize that they are not where they thought they would be in terms of money, success, power, possessions. Even if they are by most standards quite successful it often doesn't match up to the fantasy life they projected in their 20s. The result; depression, moodiness, anger, stupid spending and sometimes drastic life changes.
Women, while having their own aging issues (see my last blog!) don't seem to hit the wall in quite this same way. Maybe it's because we take a much more 'big picture' view of our lives? Sure we have all had that sensation , wow , thought I'd be doing this or having that by this point in my life but women see their lives as so much more multi-faceted than men. If one aspect, work, finances, is a little down we turn and look at an aspect, kids,friends, family, that's doing great.
I think this happens again later on. Women in their 60s and 70s, often free of work and kid responsibilities, seem to flourish and expand using their freedom to learn new skills, make new friends, and try new things. Men seen to shrink, often doing less and less in more and more time.
That's sad and with a little effort,or shock therapy, easily changeable.

Monday, July 5, 2010

New stage, old body

Such a strange time of life. Like most people my age I have always pictured myself as younger than I really was. Could never figure out how I was driving my daughter to college when I just graduated myself, that type of thing. Now suddenly I feel a 100 years older than I am. Our next door neighbors ( and close friends) moved away and in their place is a lovely couple with a 4 and a 6 year old. There they are playing catch on the driveway, drawing with chalk, and waiting for the camp bus. Isn't that suppose to be me? Now not only will I soon have two kids in college,in less than a year I'll have one graduating! Rented It's Complicated last night and burst into tears during the Columbia graduation scene. I'm pretty sure it was suppose to be a comedy.
And now my body seems to be betraying me. As most of you know I've always been thin. Suddenly I seem to have developed a stomach. And I do mean suddenly; went to bed skinny as always woke up unable to button my jeans! What the hell is going on here? Not a happy camper.

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

emplty nest: Take One

So recently heard a radio show on the crisis of 'over sharing'. Definitely not my issue as I struggle with sharing at all. Last month or two have been full of stuff that didn't make the blog due to my phobia of sharing at all! Obviously not a phobia hip enough to make even NPR.

My S has been away all week at senior week. Putting aside the terror that senior week brings out in any parent ; the possibility of partying oneself into a hospital bed or police car, I'm trying to see this week as an empty nest test. In Sept both the kids will be away at college leaving just the husband and I ,home alone. Perhaps my lack of panic about that fact is slightly disillusion but..
Both of them will be fairly close to home ( under an hour) and I expect them home for high holidays, thanksgiving, winter break so I don't think it will be too much separation anxiety. (On my part that is; I expect none on the part of my S off to his freshman year.)
By the time I recover from packing him off and cleaning up the debris he leaves in his wake I expect him ( and her) back again. Add in a few parent sponsored Sunday dinners and I think the trauma will be minimal.
As for this quiet, empty nest week at home? It's been ok. I've slept through the night , as opposed to laying awake until 3am listening for him at the door, cleaned out my closet,and went out for a glass ( or two ) of wine on a Wednesday eve. Still didn't clean out the basement, or the hall linen closet, so there's still plenty on the TO Do list. All in all not yet panicking about Sept. But don't worry , there's plenty of time!

Monday, May 31, 2010


I'll try and do a mini post under this heading every now and then to let you know what I've recently seen. So if you don't care; feel free to skip it!

Saw Iron Man 2 and was super disappointed as I loved the first one. Of course, watching Robert Downey is a joy but aside from him the movie was a real dud.

Loved Robin Hood; highly recommend it. It had just enough of everything to interest my H, my teenage son and me. Russel Crowe was great, of course. There was some fascinating English history to appeal to us history buffs, and then at the exact moment your attention was starting to drift, wham, an awesome fight scene-castles being stormed, arrows flying, damsels in distress, and lots of swords , mud and blood.
City Island. This is one of those films they don't make enough of. I hope the word of mouth spreads and this film goes from an art house favorite to a big hit so the studios will make more of these kinds of movies. No special effects, no fight scenes just real people, great dialogue, great story. Funny, sad and all around worthwhile. Iron Man 2 (CD/DVD)

Thursday, May 27, 2010

spa vacation

Just back from an awesome vacation with my mom and daughter at Woodloch spa. It was my Mom's birthday present to my D and me. Great present! The place was not too far, an easy 3 hour drive and was incredibly beautiful. The dining room and all the hang out rooms had huge windows looking into the woods. The exercise rooms were on the 3rd floor with floor to ceiling windows which make for a beautiful work out atmosphere. The staff could not have been nicer from the guys who parked our car to the dining room staff, front desk and spa folks. The food was amazing. All 3 meals were included and you could order whatever you wanted. The food was delicious and since the portions were small you could easily eat everything on the menu! So between the 3 of us we ate every appetizer, entree and dessert. We had some wonderful treatments including yummy body wraps, facials and massages and spend relaxing time in a hot tub on the outdoor deck overlooking the woods. There were couples there as well which surprised me as I couldn't imagine my husband hanging out at a spa for 2 days. It was a wonderful thing to do as a mother daughter trip ( thanks mom!!) We met 2 women who were sorority sisters 40 years ago and still vacation together which pleased my D. My only complaint? We had to come home!

Tuesday, May 4, 2010


Thinking about marriage lately. Not sure why. Maybe because someone asked me about a caterer and I realized I was too far from Bar mitzvah throwing stage to know one and that I couldn't envision needing one until wedding stage; hopefully more than a few years away. Or maybe it was when a friend tried to find a couple's bridal registry on line and along with their registry discovered more information than she bargained for, including their wedding details, honeymoon destination and the price they paid for their house. Wow, the information age has really changed the wedding process!

So while planning a successful wedding might have changed I suspect that having a successful marriage has not. I thought it might be great to ask friends and family what is the one, or two, pieces of advice they would give their children on picking a mate and having a happy marriage. Positive or negative advice is fine. My hope is that this becomes a larger collaboration. Please pass on your advice and that of your friends and family. Feel free to send them this piece. You can email it directly to me at or leave your advice in the comment section. I promise to organize it and pass it back on to everyone. Thanks!
Below I've passed on a few gems from some first ladies (excuse any paraphrasing). I thought their advice really rang true.

Betty Ford; On Marriage
Marriage is always a 20%/80% deal. Sometimes you're 20 and he's 80 and sometimes it's the other way around.

Babara Bush; On picking a mate:
Find someone you love to be with and someone who shares yor hobbies.

Michelle Obama; On picking a mate:
Start out with someone you respect and trust. Be sure you generally like the other person, like the way they think, like the person they are. If you are with someone you trust, respect and like, you will have that foundation you need for when you hit those inevitable bumps.

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Saturday, April 24, 2010

Back to Penn

Got lucky again and my D invited me to see David Remnick speak at Penn last Wednesday. He is a Pulitzer prize winning author, the editor of The New Yorker since 1998, replacing Tina Brown, and now the author of the new Obama biography, The Bridge . The Bridge is the story of Obama 's election from the focus of race. The lecture was titled, The Joshua generation which is the name given to Obama, and our own Mayor Nutters' generation. Seems, no surprise there, that the story of Moses and the exodus from Egypt has great meaning within the black community. The older civil rights leaders, Martin Luther King, John Lewis, are referred to as the Moses generation as they led their people to civil, educational, and political freedom but it is this new generation who has, like Joshua, been allowed to enter the promise land; schools like Harvard, and the apex of all, the White House.

Remnick was exactly who you want the editor of The New Yorker to be. Central casting couldn't have done a better job. Super smart, very funny, quick on his feet, confident with out being arrogant. He was cute in that skinny ,curly dark haired Jewish geek way. He even had his son in the audience,a cute Jewish boy!
I won't reiterate the entire lecture but here is one question, and answer, I thought might be of interest.
A woman asked why he thinks Obama seems to not have as strong support from the Jewish community as one would expect given that his two closest advisers, David Alexrod and Rahm Emmanuel are both Jewish and in Rahm's case, very tied to Israel? After a moments hesitation Remnick said that there is no way to avoid saying that the great majority of the anti-Obama sentiment is nothing but racism. He also added that Obama is a pragmatist and believes that the current right wing Israeli government approach/attitude toward the Arab problem swings between unrealistic and disillusion as perfectly illustrated by their announcement of new settlements in the middle of Biden's visit. He said that the same can be said for the current Arab governments.
The weirdest question? A guy in the back asked if in his research he found out anything about how Obama was as a lover. Remnick humorously and politely noted that he was no Kitty Kelly and quickly moved on!
All in all, a great night.

Saturday, April 17, 2010

Public debate or Debase?

I was lucky enough to attend a forum this week at Penn on the state of public debate in the united states today. Incredibly lucky both that my daughter invites me to spend time with her, and, that she invites me to spend time with her attending such great events. I think as college students the kids may get blase about their exposure to great minds but for me it was a wonderful opportunity to be able to spend the evening listening in on a conversation between a group of such smart, accomplished and funny people.
The forum was moderated by Amy Gutman, the University President, and the five person panel included three outstanding professors, including Kathleen Hall Jamieson,and Jim Leach, who had been a Congressman for thirty years and now serves as the Chair of the National Endowment for the Humanities, and Andrea Mitchell, from NBC news.
Obviously everyone agreed that the state of public debate in today's society was horrendous. First was a discussion on the causes.
The Media
What we have today is passion without facts. Given the speed at which talk radio, talk tv and the internet moves there is no longer time to check facts before reporting them and in many cases not even an aspiration toward balance. The increase in media outlets means that people hear only what they already believe. The only show on TV which is watched equally by liberal and conservatives? House.
People are drawn to the most outrageous or extreme shows. Increased ratings=increased revenue which encourages more shows and pundits to employ these tactics.
More important is the issue of money in politics, made much worse by the recent Supreme Court decision. The need of a politician to raise huge sums of money to survive fuels extremism as the those with extreme views get the most PAC money.
The Public
Yes, not all blame can be laid on others. We seem to have lost the art of pro-active hearing, of really listening with an open mind to the opinions of others because we think we already know what the other side is going to say.
How do we fix the problem?
We need to let go of the notion that expressing opinions in a zero sum game. We need to let go of the belief that if you win then I have lost my America.
We need to recognize that words can lead to violence. We need to be more aware of the danger of language that comes from a place of rage, especially rage based racism. The bombings in Oklahoma City and the Nazi regime in Germany both began with a language of violence and rage.
We need to demand more and we need to demand better from our leaders. We need to demand that they do not fight fire with fire, that they deescalate, not escalate, the rhetoric.
Is there any hope?
There was a great deal of optimism concerning the college age generation, with whom his group has a great deal of contact. Although their faith in politics is fairly low, their level of volunteerism is extremely high. Their openness to hearing each other is also very high. One professor sited as an example a group of Jewish and Muslim students who recently joined together to spend their spring break in New Orleans helping the victims of Katrina. They called themselves MAGIC- Muslims and Jews in cahoots. One professor said he thinks they may be the next greatest generation. In one of the funniest lines of the night he said that we may just have to wait until the pig passes through the python and this generation takes over.

So lots of food for thought. Please pass this along to anyone but especially anyone you know who thinks that anyone who expresses an opinion different than their own deserves to be shut down, or worse, shot down.

Monday, March 1, 2010


Many years ago, and if you remember you're showing your age, the Jewish Exponent used to run a cartoon based on something funny that was 'overheard'. Unfortunately it was canceled after one cartoon showed two guys walking out of a funeral saying, yes he was married for 40 years with 10 off for good behavior. It was very funny, more so if you knew, or could guess. whose funeral it was but obviously someone didn't see the humor! But since I'm not popular enough to cause a boycott I decided to could risk resurrecting the idea.
Apologies in advance for any liberties taken with the 'quotes'. So with love....

At a funeral...
He was smarter than me and everyone knows I never say that.

At a different one...
I used to be envious of her but I'm here and she's not. Wasn't that a waste of time.

From a young woman wondering if she should cut her guy loose...
If he doesn't play around now will I wind up as Jenny Sanford?

From at least five different women after multiple Olympic watching hours...
You know, I was always a really great skater

At a party...
Oh yes we've met before but you were a blond then.

Wednesday, February 17, 2010


I've been lucky and gotten to see 4 good movies in the past 2 weeks. Three as a result of being in Florida and one from having the blizzard cancel dinner plans. Fair warning; 'good' is in the eye of the beholder and my opinions may obviously not match everyone else. For proof of that see Avatar blog!
The Young Victoria- loved it, loved it. Wonderful story, great acting. Would I take my H? Maybe- unlike many of those"talky English things" (his words) this one had a faster moving plot and he might have enjoyed it. However, he also could definitely have lived without it. Not a single bad thing to say about the movie except the dinner party scenes made my feel terribly inadequate as an hostess!
An Education- prob my favorite of the four- it was fascinating, completely different from anything I had seen and again the acting was perfection. Funny, sad, and shocking. Yes, I think my H would have liked it. Interesting thing about this movie is how differently different age groups react to it. My parents (and friends parents) also loved it but felt it was anti-semitic , something my friends totally did not feel. While the age difference between the girl and the man was shocking none of the fore mentioned groups questioned why she would be interested in him. Who wouldn't be interested in Peter Sarsgaard! And the character he plays is charming and sophisticated. However, my friends' 16 year old saw him as ancient, disgusting and a complete pedophile!
The Little Traitor- an Israeli film my Mom dragged me to at a very old theater in Delray. It was terrific! The only sad thing about it is that I don't think anyone out side of Delray will get to see it which is a real shame. It tells the story a the relationship between an 11 year old Israeli boy and a British soldier during the time of the British occupation of Palestine. Completely different film except for the appearance of Alfred Molina as the soldier who I had just seen the night before as a British Dad. The boy was wonderful. His facial expressions were so funny. Funny, touching, if there's any way to see it I highly recommend you do so.
Last film -Crazy Heart. Also really liked it. (Told you I was 4 for 4). Of course we've all seen this film before most recently as The Wrestler, but Jeff Bridges really took it to a new level. My H loved it also! So get off the couch, and head out the door.

Wednesday, February 10, 2010


Most of us know we are lucky. But it's hard to maintain that 'I'm lucky' momentum all the time. When you are having a shitty day it's hard to be cheered up by remembering that you have all your arms and legs, or your house didn't get wiped out by a earthquake. It's hard to feel lucky just for being 'normal'. But we should. So here's a few I'm lucky thoughts.

I'm lucky to have two really great kids who are healthy and happy enough to drive me occasionally crazy. I'm lucky to have an amazing husband who is willing to go to the market in the snow so I can complain about what he forgot to get.
I'm lucky to be able to have two parents who are healthy and tons of fun to be with. I'm lucky to have my Mom so that she can push too much food on me and my dad who can worry that we are not handling something right.
I'm lucky to be able to spend a week with my friends in Florida where we get to be wonderfully lazy and eat, read, shop and go to the movies. I'm lucky to make it home safely to a blizzard so I an wonder why I'm not still in Florida with my chopped salad.
I'm lucky to come home to great friends who understand that a 20 min conversation takes 35 phone calls to complete.
I'm lucky to come home to a house filled with loud hungry teenage boys, wet clothes,and a smelly dog. They will all get snowed in here for days if I'm really lucky.
Lucky to come home to too much mail, too much laundry and just enough good stuff on my tivo!

Tuesday, January 19, 2010


I've had this post in my head for a bit but it was the email from a friend that gave me the courage to write! You know who you are...
I have come to the conclusion that I am obviously the only person in the universe who hated Avatar. Yes, it was visually amazing but that could not sustain me through what seemed to me to be a mish mosh of a 100 other movie plots. Did whoever wrote this 'plot' really think we had never seen a movie before this one? The handsome white boy meets and falls in love with the beautiful native girl and dedicates his life to her? dances with wolves. The whole plot about how a dragon can only bond with one rider for his life; word for word out of Ergon. The crazed military guy? I was waiting for him to start yelling, "I love the smell of napalm in the morning". The brave scientist battling the uncaring corporate idiots? Way too many movies to even name.
At one point, I turned to my H and said, this is the dumbest movie I have ever seen. Not a good idea. I felt like a Cowboys fan at an Eagles game.
Not that I wasn't moved at all. I sat in a theater with the most mixed crowd I have ever seen. Blacks, whites, grandparents, young kids and teenagers all siting in complete silence for two and half hours. I never even saw anyone checking their cell phone! I was impressed with the phenomenon, the movie a lot less so. Too bad I'm all alone out here...

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Monday, January 4, 2010

follow me

As of now, I have new posts emailed to people. However, it would be great if instead anyone interested in reading my blog could sign on as a follower. It's pretty easy. Just click on the Follow link on the top of the page and fill out the info. (On my computer it's a blue banner) If for some reason that isn't there scroll down on d there is another follow link on the left side. Thanks!

full house,empty house

I try not to miss my kids when they are away. My D was in Italy for 4 months and I did a good job of not being sad. Of course that may be due in large part to the fact that she called every day and talked at great length. Despite the fact that my H did a great job researching the cheapest way to talk we still managed to rack up quite a nice bill. In response to his complaints I say, show me a Mom who would even think of telling her daughter don't call so much and when you do, be sure you don't talk too long. Not likely.
So my D arrived home safe and sound, beating out the snow storm by just under 24 hours; clever girl. And joyously, my house is filled with kids! Kids eating and talking at the kitchen table,cooking breakfasts and dinners, laying on sofas or piled up in her bed watching TV and playing on laptops. I guess for some people it might have been annoying but for me it was just awesome.I love these kids and adore having them around. I wish they would all just move in.
Secret revealed: while most girls loved Little Women my favorite was always the sequel Little Men. In that book Jo and her prof move into a giant house which they fill with wayward boys who they educate and care for.
The problem; around new years they all packed up , mine included, and left, leaving the house quiet and empty for the last 4 days. It's been super depressing. And I know that while I might grab a few more days of them it's pretty much over until ,maybe, spring break. I guess I will adjust again but I really wish I didn't have to!