Hi there! Welcome to my very miscellaneous blog. Here, I write about everything from mis-used words to gardening, to bad habits in society to going places and seeing things! Enjoy my ramblings.

Sunday, July 21, 2013

July 21, 2013....

It has been an "interesting" day, to say the least.  It all started last night.  I thought I would have a glass of wine, and invited my daughter over to join me.  Alas, she was already lounging in her nightwear, and did not want get dressed again to leave the house and drive an entire mile to my house.  Oh well--her loss.  I poured myself a glass anyway from a brand-new bottle of White Zinfandel, one of my favorite varieties.

I enjoyed a single glass, and put the wine away, using a rubber-gasketed stopper.  It was a designed-for-wine stopper.  I have a vacuum sealer stopper gizmo, but only one stopper for that could be found, and it was already in use on another bottle.  So, I used the more decorative wine stopper.  Now mind you, on a previous occasion, my daughter had inspected these stoppers with me, and we both (well..she) concluded that, having a rubber gasket, they should seal just fine.

I wasn't positive about the seal, so I checked, double-checked and triple-checked it:  turned the bottle over; shook the bottle; laid the bottle on its side.  All was secure; no leaks.  The decorative stopper made the bottle too tall for the tallest shelf in the fridge, so I laid it on its side in the usual space I reserve for wine bottles.  Later in the evening, all was well, and I confidently went to bed.

Upon getting up this morning, and fetching the creamer for my weekend mocha, nothing was amiss, and I gave it no further thought.  All that was about to change, however, at lunchtime.

As I opened the fridge to fetch my sandwich makings, something did not smell quite right.  Upon investigation, I saw that the stupid stopper had popped off the bottle, and I had wine everywhere on the shelves and dripping into the assorted drawers below.  What a mess; what a waste of perfectly good wine!  I am ruined!  My reputation is shot!  A Frenchman, it is said, never spills a drop of wine!  Now, I've lost over half a bottle!

Out came the contents of all those shelves and drawers, and into the sink they went!  Out came the sponge--no, wait--too big a job for the sponge; fetch half a roll of paper towels!  An hour later, the mess is cleaned, the drawers returned, and my sandwich bread gone stale from sitting out all this time.  Sigh.

I am now looking for where to place the blame.  Is this my fault?  The stopper's faulty-fault?  Or is it my daughter's fault for assuring me that this stopper should have worked??  Cleaning out the fridge was on my list of tasks for the day, anyway.  Nonetheless, I had not planned on using wine as a cleaning agent!

Thursday, October 11, 2012

Cats Are Like People; They Are All Different

People who do not know or understand cats may be afraid of them, or simply dislike them--and I'm not talking about allergies.  In my personal opinion, people who don't like cats are missing out on a lot of love.

There are so many myths surrounding cats, many of them unkind. Cats and babies are one of the richest sources of these 'bad cat' myths, such as "the cat will suck the baby's breath,"  or "take its milk."  Hogwash!

Cats, like people, each have their own personalities and idiosyncrasies.  Some are sweet, some are aloof, some are shy, some are grumpy, some are silly.  Very few are mean, and those that are usually have a history of having been mistreated.

Most of the time, cats are very affectionate and surprisingly social animals.  Like people, they can have their 'off' days, or have disagreements with each other.  Any serious change in a cat's behavior lasting more than a day usually warrants an investigation for  health issues.

Those are but the basics.  Today's story is about one particular myth-busting incident I heard about first-hand from the people who owned this particular cat.  This happened probably 30 years ago; I heard the story from them on the order of 20 years ago.  Now, I'm putting it out for everyone to see what amazing creatures cats really are.


This family had a cat, and then had a baby.  The child, at the tender age of 4 months, came down with pneumonia.  It was imperative that the child be kept warm, especially that his chest was wrapped up.  The doctor instructed the parents to swaddle the child, and put him to sleep on his stomach, so the warmth would stay against his chest, and he (theoretically) could not undo the wrappings.

Unfortunately, this is the age at which a baby has just about learned how to roll over by himself, and he kept doing so.  The parents would hear him cry, and go find him  on his back, crying and coughing.  If they could not keep the infant covered and warm, he would have ended up in the hospital, and the outlook was not good.

At the time, they had a good-sized black kitty, who had been simply sitting on the dresser watching this routine:  the parents came in, re-wrapped the infant, turned him back on his belly, soothed him back to sleep with comforting sounds or a lullaby, and left the room once again.

After about five times of going through this routine, Mom and Dad decided they had better go check on the baby, as they realized they'd not heard him crying for some time.

When they entered the room, the baby was sleeping peacefully, and the cat was lying on the baby's back, both keeping him warm, and preventing him from rolling over and uncovering his chest.  The cat was purring, which is a soothing sound, helping the child to sleep.

They simply looked at each other in astonishment, petted the cat, and left the baby to sleep, checking in on him every so often.  The cat continued her vigil over the next few days, and the child recovered with no ill effects.

When they told the doctor what had happened, he told them, "That cat saved this baby's life."  


Now, the point of this story is not to initiate any discussion of child-rearing methods; whether or not they should have simply held the child, or what have you.  You cannot reasonably hold a baby all day and all night.  Even though you spend more time soothing and comforting a sick child, there remains the running of the household and the care of the other kids.

None of that is the point.  The point is, cats are not evil; they are not stupid; they have good instincts, and given loving care and gentle handling themselves, they are capable of returning that treatment in kind. 

There are many who claim that animals "can't think."  I beg to differ.  If this story does not illustrate an animal's ability to think and act, nothing will, and I feel sorry for those who remain unconvinced.

This is but one story.  Search the Internet--you'll find plenty of stories about cats saving lives....sometimes at the cost of their own.  Love a cat; you'll be better for it.


"If man could be crossed with the cat it would improve man, but it would deteriorate the cat."
..... Mark Twain, 1894

Monday, November 7, 2011

Once Upon a Streetcar...

Long, Long Ago...

Back in his bachelor days, probably around the 1930's, my father was a motorman on San Francisco streetcars.  The cars were run by the long-since-defunct Market Street Railway Company.  In later years, it was taken over by the City, and became, and still is the San Francisco Municipal Railway Company, or "MUNI."

However, I digress.  Back in those days, streetcars had 2 employees aboard.  The motorman operated the car, and the conductor collected fares and made change. All of this was long before my time, but my Dad was a great storyteller, and as a child, I loved hearing his stories over and over, so I still have them with me, even though Dear Ol' Dad is long gone.

The Playland at the Beach Route

On this day, Dad was driving an evening weekday run on the streetcar line that went out to Playland at the Beach.  As I recall the tale, it was a typical foggy San Francisco day, and being a weekday, there were few riders that far out.  Playland was the end of the line, and that day, Dad had a screaming headache and a bit of an upset stomach.  He decided that when he got to the end of the line, he'd run into a drugstore that was near the area, and get himself some Alka-Seltzer. 
As it happened, when he arrived, there was not as much spare time as he had bargained on, so he could not stop at the soda fountain in the drugstore to request a glass of water.  He threw the tablets in his mouth dry, and hustled back aboard the streetcar.  (In those days, they were much more strict about keeping to the schedules!)

They started out heading back toward downtown, and Dad was doing fine keeping up with swallowing the foam from the tablets with no problems.  Then he began to think, and that's where the trouble began. 
He thought, "Gee, if some drunk gets on board and starts giving me a hard time, all I'll have to do is open my mouth in a wide grin, and let all this foam show.  The drunk will see me foaming at the mouth, think I've got rabies, and jump backwards over the gate to get away."  That made him start to laugh, and the more he laughed, the harder it got to keep up with the foam, until he finally had to spit it out.
His finale to the story stated, "..and I never had another Alka-Seltzer from that day to this, that did me as much good!"

The Moth in the Scotsman's Purse

One of the conductors who worked with my Dad on the streetcar runs was an old Scotsman.  Political correctness these days frowns upon stereotypical characterizations based upon nationality or anything else.
However, back in the day, more people realized that some traits had at least a grain of truth behind the stereotypes; and they still had a sense of humor and the ability to laugh at themselves and their human foibles.

So, here was this Scotsman, well aware that Scots were "known" for pinching pennies, being frugal, and (dare I say it?), outright cheap.  At the end of the day's run, he thought he'd have some fun with the station manager, and deliberately turned in his receipts a penny short.
When the manager pointed this out, the fellow said, "Weeeeel, now, let's have a look-see, 'eeerrre," and opened his pouch right under the manager's nose, letting escape a moth he'd  caught earlier inside the streetcar. 
You see, the old legend was that Scotsmen were so cheap, and their purses opened so infrequently, that moths took up residence inside.  They both had a good laugh, the "missing" penny was turned in, and the story made the rounds of the car barn.

A Coin Collector?

One morning at the start of the run, the first passenger aboard was a sweet Little Old Lady. (The original meaning of "LOL.")  You know the type:  dressed to the nines; well-groomed, gloves (ladies wore gloves when going out in those days), and well-spoken.  The classic clich├ęd "butter-wouldn't- melt-in-her-mouth" type.  She was evidently quite well-to-do, as she paid her fare with a rather large bill.

Being the first stop of the run, the conductor did not have any bills yet for change.  Mind you, this was the era of nickel carfares, and most folks paid with some kind of coin, so there was no need to carry a wad of paper money to make change.
The conductor had no choice but to give her a lot of dimes in her change.  She took the seat right behind my dad, the motorman, and sat there counting her change, one dime at a time.  She then looked sweetly up at the conductor, and purred, "Pardon me, do you have any more dimes?"
Thinking that perhaps she was a coin collector, the conductor replied promptly, "Why yes, ma'am, I certainly do!" 
He nearly fell over from shock at the reply, "Well, stick them up your ass!"

Stupid Questions Get Stupid Answers...

Another day, a elderly woman, apparently old enough to remember life before electricity, was about to board the streetcar.  However, she was nervous about this new-fangled power, and made an inquiry of the conductor, "If I step on the tracks, will I get a shock?"
Perhaps the conductor was having a bad day, for he sarcastically retorted, "Only if you put your other foot up on the overhead wires at the same time."


This post dedicated to my father in loving memory.
© 2011 Liz Elias

OCCUPY!! Protest on Behalf of Our Pets, Too!

No More Business As Usual

Well, folks, as you may have learned from stories in the news, the corporations that manufacture our various consumer products are not always truthful about their effectiveness or safety.  We've all seen the news about contanimants ranging from bugs and fecal matter to outright poisons.  It was not so long ago that pet food made in China was full of things like melamine that caused animals to sicken and die.

Sadly, these mega-corporations care only about their own "bottom line," and have little or no concern for the health and safety of their customers.  We are seeing the backlash now.  It began with protests about the banking fiasco, but there are plenty of other things to be upset about. 
Many of the protesters are out there against all sorts of these other issues--which is why the nay-sayers try to assert that it is a "non-protest" becuase there is no single focus.  They are wrong.  There is a single focus--it is the status quo!  Everything has gone wrong in this country, and folks are fed up and "mad as hell" with being squelched, cheated, poisoned, fleeced and deprived by the elitist 1%.

We Love Our Pets

One of the things I wish to point out has to do with products for our pets. We Americans love our pets, both large and small, considering them as members of our families, and in many ways, they are exactly that.

According to an August 2007 article in Business Week , American pet owners shelled out a collective $41 billion on their animal companions.  To be sure, some of those expenses are for unnecessary luxury items, marketed more to the owner than the animals--including clothing, 'gourmet' food and fancily upholstered beds.  Right.  Cats and dogs would just as soon sleep on the floor, or in the humans' beds!

Big Bad Flea Medications

Now of course, more necessary expenditures come in the form of vaccinations, health checkups and keeping our companions free of nasty critters such as fleas and ticks.

This is where a new problem comes in.  In fairly recent years, it has been shown that many of the ingredients in commercially produced preparations for killing these pests are also causing great harm to our pets.

Specifically, the topically-applied drops, all from well-known and "trusted" names in the industry.  However, more and more pets have been harmed by these medications, and in serious ways.  Some have suffered severe neurological damage; others have died.

There is a movement afoot to ban these dangerous chemical products, just as DDT was banned over 30 years ago.  For a more in-depth look at the problem, simply follow this link, which opens in a new window.

Please feel free to pass this link along, or link to this blog post to help spread the word on how to keep our beloved pets safe and healthy.

Sunday, June 26, 2011

Keeping Kitty and Wildlife Safe

As most of my readers know, I am an avid spokesperson for animal welfare  and humane treatment.
To this end, I tirelessly promote and campaign for the concept of keeping one's pet cats  exclusively indoors for their own safety.  An indoor cat can live up to 3 or 4 times as long as one who is allowed to go outdoors.  How much do you love your kitty?  Would you like the companionship of your furry friend for up to 15 years, or only for 4 to 6? 
Cats allowed outside can suffer any number of unkind fates, ranging from infections stemming from wounds received in fights, being hit by cars, disease, and yes, predation from larger animals including dogs and birds of prey.

Not only is the cat at risk;  so is the local wildlife.  Outdoor cats can be responsible for the decimation on native species such as birds, lizards and mice.  While no one has any particular love for mice, especially when they get into our homes, they nonetheless have their place in the ecosystem.

Today, I came across a video by the National Geographic Society which underscores both points with graphic clarity.  It is an important educational movie, and I warn you, parts of it are quite disturbing. However, I urge you to watch it to the end, and share it around.  Allow time:  it does run just about an hour, but it contains vitally important information.

Watch more free documentaries

Friday, June 3, 2011

A Moral Imperative

There is a well-known adage, "Those who do not learn from history are doomed to repeat it."
This is so very true, and in many ways it would seem that humans in fact, do not learn from their own history. Rather, they prefer to bury and ignore uncomfortable images from the past and go merrily about their own lives with no sense of responsibility regarding their own roles in perpetrating new injustices and horrors.
Another time-worn saying bears repeating here to support that claim: "If you are not part of the solution, you are part of the problem." Some, of course are more part of the problem than others, being actual instigators. Next in line are those who jump on board, repeating the rants of the instigators without educating themselves first. No less guilty are those who stand by in full-blown apathy and denial, allowing whatever wrongs to occur, regardless of the fact that in their heart, they know the touted information to be false.
It bears mentioning that the reason we have so many trite and time-worn sayings is that they have a basis in truth. "The hen that cackles is the one that laid the egg," fits here in many instances. Many times, the person starting a campaign of hatred has something of the same nature to hide, and so to deflect attention from their own transgressions, they rant and rave and point fingers at others.
Back in March of 2010, I watched the first episode of the then-new NBC show, "Who Do You Think You Are?" It followed seven celebrities as they traced their ancestry to discover new things connecting them to past history. The premier featured Sarah Jessica Parker. Her maternal line traced back to New England, and specifically to the area of Salem with its infamous witch hunts and trials.
As my own family line is heavily rooted in New England, this was of great interest to me. Sarah discovered that one of her ancestors had the misfortune of being one of the accused in this travesty of justice. Luckily in her case, however, the complaint had been registered in the month following the abolition of the special (kangaroo!) court created expressly for the finding and condemning of so-called witches. All remaining incarcerated persons were then freed.
It got me to thinking, however: I searched for the history of the trials, and found a very good website having full history, explanations, court records, and so forth. Click here for the link to the specific article which inspired this post.
The thing that struck me with great force was the final sentence in the article:
"The witches disappeared, but witch-hunting in America did not. Each generation must learn the lessons of history or risk repeating its mistakes. Salem should warn us to think hard about how to best safeguard and improve our system of justice."
This is so, so true, and I have said so myself many times. When will we learn America? When will we stop with these 'holier-than-thou' persecutions of innocent people just trying to live thier lives in peace? When will we learn? It appears we have not yet learned!
I am, thererore, obliged to point out that there have been many, many parallels in our so-called "modern, enlightened" times. To wit:

  • the mistreatment, segregation and persecution of blacks until the "official" halt following the 1960's activism (not that the predjudice has ever ended!)
  • the McCarthy-era maddness of witch-hunting in the name of anti-communist activity
  • the current unfounded hysteria and predjudice against the LGBT (Lesbian, Gay, Bi-Sexual, Transgender) community
  • the "stranger-danger" paranoia that accuses, persecutes and ruins the lives of many innocent people on charges of child molestation that never happened...
....the list goes sadly on.

It is time for each and every citizen to stand up and accept their responsibility to insure a peaceful and harmonious society. The madness has gone on far too long.

No more witch-hunts!

Saturday, May 21, 2011

A Major Political Hoax is Making the Rounds

 For today's post, I am straying from my usual format of writing fully from my own thoughts, and instead have copied and pasted here an e-mail I received.  I am not posting this e-mail to advocate its content, rather the opposite.  I am posting it as a warning of a hoax that is currently making the rounds, and in which I got caught up myself.  Please forward the link to this blog instead of the e-mail you may recieve!

When my senses returned, I re-e-mailed everyone to whom I had forwarded this bit of mischief, and apologized.  I implore you, if you receive this e-mail, ignore it, delete it, do not forward it around!  It is a hoax, and political mischief.

Below follows the full text of this e-mail, which has undergone variations over the years, the salient points of by whom the purported honoree is to be honored, change to fit the times.
 (I have not included the last line, which is the supposed signature of a military man who supposedly wrote the thing and who was there.  He did not write the piece, and has already suffered much from having his name so mis-used.)

I suspect this current round is intended to discredit President Obama with a clear ulterior political motive.  While I am not a great fan of "the pres," I am nonetheless repulsed by this sort of underhanded dirty pool.  It is a prime example of propaganda in use, and how it spreads.

The full truth can be found at this link: 


The e-mail text in full:
"Never Forgive A Traitor

"For those of you too young to remember, Hanoi Jane is a bad person and did some terrible things during the Vietnam war. Things that can not be forgiven!!!!. .
"and now OBAMA wants to honor her......!!!!
"In Memory of LT. C.Thomsen Wieland who spent 100 days at the Hanoi Hilton

"This is for all the kids born in the 70's and after who do not remember, and didn't have to bear the burden that our fathers, mothers and older brothers and sisters had to bear..
"Jane Fonda is being honored as one of the '100 Women of the Century.'
Unfortunately, many have forgotten and still countless others have never known how Ms. Fonda betrayed not only the idea of our country, but specific men who served and sacrificed during Vietnam .
"The first part of this is from an F-4E pilot. The pilot's name is Jerry Driscoll, a River Rat.
"In 1968, the former Commandant of the USAF Survival School was a POW in Ho Lo Prison the ' Hanoi Hilton.'
"Dragged from a stinking cesspit of a cell, cleaned, fed, and dressed in clean PJ's, he was ordered to describe for a visiting American 'Peace Activist' the 'lenient and humane treatment' he'd received.
"He spat at Ms.Fonda, was clubbed, and was dragged away. During the subsequent beating, he fell forward on to the camp Commandant 's feet, which sent that officer berserk.
"In 1978, the Air Force Colonel still suffered from double vision (which permanently ended his flying career) from the Commandant's frenzied application of a wooden baton.
"From 1963-65, Col. Larry Carrigan was in the 47FW/DO (F-4E's). He spent 6 years in the 'Hanoi Hilton',,, the first three of which his family only knew he was 'missing in action'.His wife lived on faith that he was still alive.His group, too, got the cleaned-up, fed and clothed routine in preparation for a 'peace delegation' visit.
"They, however, had time and devised a plan to get word to the world that they were alive and still survived. Each man secreted a tiny piece of paper, with his Social Security Number on it , in the palm of his hand.
"When paraded before Ms. Fonda and a cameraman, she walked the line, shaking each man's hand and asking little encouraging snippets like: 'Aren't you sorry you bombed babies?' and 'Are you grateful for the humane treatment from your benevolent captors?' Believing this HAD to be an act, they each palmed her their sliver of paper.
"She took them all without missing a beat.. At the end of the line and once the camera stopped rolling, to the shocked disbelief of the POWs, she turned to the officer in charge and handed him all the little pieces of paper..
"Three men died from the subsequent beatings. Colonel Carrigan was almost number four but he survived, which is the only reason we know of her actions that day.
"I was a civilian economic development advisor in Vietnam , and was captured by the North Vietnamese communists in South Vietnam in 1968, and held prisoner for over 5 years.
"I spent 27 months in solitary confinement; one year in a cage in Cambodia ; and one year in a 'black box' in Hanoi My North Vietnamese captors deliberately poisoned and murdered a female missionary, a nurse in a leprosarium in Ban me Thuot , South Vietnam , whom I buried in the jungle near the Cambodian border. At one time, I weighed only about 90 lbs. (My normal weight is 170 lbs)
"We were Jane Fonda's 'war criminals....'
"When Jane Fonda was in Hanoi , I was asked by the camp communist political officer if I would be willing to meet with her..

"I said yes, for I wanted to tell her about the real treatment we POWs received... and how different it was from the treatment purported by the North Vietnamese, and parroted by her as 'humane and lenient.'

"Because of this, I spent three days on a rocky floor on my knees, with my arms outstretched with a large steel weights placed on my hands, and beaten with a bamboo cane.
"I had the opportunity to meet with Jane Fonda soon after I was released. I asked her if she would be willing to debate me on TV. She never did answer me.

"These first-hand experiences do not exemplify someone who should be honored as part of '100 Years of Great Women.' Lest we forget....'100 Years of Great Women' should never include a traitor whose hands are covered with the blood of so many patriots.
"There are few things I have strong visceral reactions to, but Hanoi Jane's participation in blatant treason, is one of them. Please take the time to forward to as many people as you possibly can.. It will eventually end up on her computer and she needs to know that we will never forget."
I implore you, please, do not forward this piece of e-mail trash.  Jane Fonda did, in fact, do many hurtful and hateful things, for which she should indeed suffer the consequences, and in no way should she be honored.  Sadly, however, it is too late for that--the text of the e-mail has twisted that fact, as well.  Rather than decrying the situation, as you will learn in the Snopes.com link, it was actually Barbara Walters who did the honoring!!  It is a 'fait accomplit' of long-standing!

Instead of forwarding the e-mail, please forward the link to this blog!!