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Saturday, February 28, 2009

Bringing Home Some Sunshine


The last few weeks of winter, at least here in the Northeast, can be absolutely brutal weather wise.

As I write this, we are preparing for another six to 12 inches of snow - while there is still a snow pack of several ice-laden inches on the ground.

Oh well, next week, on March 8, we all get to move our clocks ahead one hour for Daylight Savings Time and that extra hour of sunshine will be most welcome (not that it will melt the snow any faster while temperatures still hover around 38 degrees) but if you are suffering from SAD (seasonal affective disorder) and need a serotonin fix, the clock change is just what the doctor ordered.

If you can’t wait that long, buy a bunch of daffodils! Word has it that early bunches have just arrived, at least in downtown Boston at Trader Joe’s for $1.49 a bunch!
http://www.traderjoes.com/Attachments/EC_loc.pdf

The daffodil’s gorgeous sunshine blooms and delicate but complex fragrance are a sure-fire harbinger of spring. I have always, since my childhood, thought of them as trumpets that announce the arrival of better days to come, and who couldn't use some better days in these tumultuous economic times?

William Wordsworth, England’s Romantic-era Poet Laureate (1843-1850) captured the essence of this “sunshine” bloom in his 1804 poem, simply titled,

“Daffodils (I Wandered Lonely as a Cloud)”

I wander'd lonely as a cloud
That floats on high o'er vales and hills,
When all at once I saw a crowd,
A host, of golden daffodils;
Beside the lake, beneath the trees,

Fluttering and dancing in the breeze.

Continuous as the stars that shine
And twinkle on the Milky Way,
They stretch'd in never-ending line
Along the margin of a bay:
Ten thousand saw I at a glance,

Tossing their heads in sprightly dance.

The waves beside them danced; but they
Out-did the sparkling waves in glee:
A poet could not but be gay,
In such a jocund company:
I gazed -- and gazed -- but little thought

What wealth the show to me had brought:

For oft, when on my couch I lie
In vacant or in pensive mood,
They flash upon that inward eye
Which is the bliss of solitude;
And then my heart with pleasure fills,
And dances with the daffodils.

Saturday, February 21, 2009

Pack up Your Peanuts!

Because so much of the nation, and the media for that matter is focused on the national and world economy, the fact that the peanut product recall has burgeoned faster than Bank of America’s falling stock prices is an alarming trend.

Having personally lost two pets, and one placed under medical care during the 2007-2008 pet food product recall, I probably take notice to government alerts and warnings faster than is normal.

Just in case you have been justifiably consumed with loosing your job or foreclosing on your mortgage you should be aware of certain statistics that may not be reaching you in a timely manner.

The recent outbreak of salmonella poisoning, which was originally traced to the Peanut Corporation of America’s processing plant in Blakely, Georgia has been expanded to cover their plant in Plainview, Texas.

To date, according to the Centers for Disease Control, 44 states have been affected with a combination of 654 cases of illness, and nine fatalities.

The Peanut Corporation of America has filed this month for bankruptcy liquidation, which was a red flag so I went to the Food and Drug Administration’s web site at: http://www.fda.gov/oc/opacom/hottopics/salmonellatyph.html

I strongly urge you to check out the Peanut Product Recall Information, category-by-category that is current on their site as of this posting, Sat, 21 Feb 2009 09:00:00 GMT.

I don’t wish to alarm, but I think you will be shocked and dismayed at the product scope of the recall, which may or may not be tainted, but better to err on the side of caution.

We’re not talking mere peanuts here, but some very big retail distributors of peanut products. Please check it out as children and the elderly are most vulnerable.

Monday, February 16, 2009

Today we Honor Them all

In the last string of birthdays for the week, today we celebrate 44 in one fell swoop!

Presidents Day, which was originally set aside to honor the birthdays of George Washington and Abraham Lincoln, has over the years become a way to honor all of our nation’s top leaders.

To mark this special day, which includes work and school vacation days peppered with traditional retail sales events (although I’m not to sure how that will play out in these trying times) the White House Historical Association has an exceptionally fine link to rare historical photographs of former presidents, first ladies and White House staff that are archived for public Internet viewing at http://www.whitehousehistory.org/

There is also a wonderful rendition and reorchestration of Rossini’s William Tell Overture – designed specifically for all of us, and our children and granchildren, who have had a problem remembering which presidents have occupied the hallowed halls of our nation’s most famous landmark, and in what order their service to our country occurred.

“The American Presidents,” lyrics and musical adaptation by Genevieve Madeline Ryan and conducted by James Kessler is targeted to help us all learn who-is-who, and when they served as the leader of our country.

Check out the “President’s Song” – (it’s a hoot) by clicking on the "American Presidents" in the bottom right hand corner of the page.

I bet you will remember each of them after hearing the presentation one, two, or possibly three times.

Oh, how I wish I had this when I was in the 5th grade! Enjoy!

And, by the way – HAPPY BIRTHDAY GUYS!

Thursday, February 12, 2009

Two more births to celebrate…

If you are a follower of horoscopes, what insight can you shed on two men who were born on the same day – only hours apart, but both having had a huge historical impact on mankind, but in different ways?

Last night, at the newly renovated Ford Theatre in Washington, D.C., President Obama took to the stage, whose lights had been darkened since the assasination of President Lincoln, and spoke these words about the 16th leader of these UNITED states, “Despite all that divided us -- North and South, black and white -- he had an unyielding belief that we were, at heart, one nation, and one people.”

And, at the same time, Google had chosen Charles Darwin, the father of “evolution” to best express the importance of the day.

Two men separated only by hours, both remembered for their 200th birthdates. Both sending messages to this generation that we are all different but yet the same.

As Commander Spock, of the original Star Trek of the 60’s would say, “Fascinating.”

Indeed it is.

Saturday, February 7, 2009

One Bodacious Babe


While we are still digesting the significance of Felix Mendelssohn’s 200 th birthday it’s time to look at a more contemporary icon of the female gender – the one, the only, “Barbie” by Mattel.

This year the childhood goddess turns 50! Can you believe it? We should all look that good! And, in fact, most women today at age 50 look great… just gaze at photos of your grandmother and you will definitely notice the difference!

Barbie entered the toy fray in 1959, after many years of Revlon holding sway over female childhood dreams.

She is a time capsule of current relevance. Whatever society reflects, Barbie has risen to the call.

First and foremost she has been considered a “fashion doll,” but Barbie has also reflected societal trends in everything from motherhood and balancing a career – with workplace options providing aspirations in everything from being a doctor, or an astronaut to President of the United States.

Time to salute a symbol of female childhood that adjusts to the times. For a fascinating look at Barbie through the last five decades and how the doll is actually made, Designboom has a complete retrospective at:

http://www.designboom.com/snapshot/cat/24/designboom-mart-seoul-2008.html

This year it will be difficult for Mattel and Barbie as concern prevailed over their 2008 fourth-quarter profit, which fell 46% reflecting the current tenuous economy.

At the recent unveiling of the new Barbie at the Nuremberg Toy Fair, industry talks surfaced of having Barbie reflect the current economic times. Could this mean “Resale Shop Barbie?”

Doubtful, as dreams die hard.

Happy birthday Barbie – keep inspiring girls to go beyond the glass ceiling!

Tuesday, February 3, 2009

Happy Birthday Felix!

Two hundred years ago today, composer/pianist and educator, Jakob Ludwig Felix Mendelssohn Bartholdy, better known as Felix Mendelssohn, was born.

Though he only lived to be 38 years old, Mendelssohn’s prodigious body of music is his legacy – 11 symphonies, five operas, concertos, choral, chamber and organ works along with numerous pieces for the piano.

Mendelssohn’s String Octet in E Flat Major, a beautiful and intricate composition was penned when he was only 16, that in itself was genius.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mjxr_WQdI6I

His violin concerto in e minor, Op. 64 is considered a staple in the instrument’s repertoire and has challenged virtuosos since 1844.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=p08izmpPy0s

But the one piece, that is as popular as Patty and Mildred Hill’s melody “Good Morning to all” (also known as “Happy Birthday”) is Mendelssohn’s Wedding March from A Midsummer Night’s Dream.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OfrISwrH1H0

Happy Birthday Felix, and a big “THANK YOU” from brides everywhere.

Monday, February 2, 2009

Where do you put your garbage?

A little over ten days ago, the media airwaves began to be flooded and “twittered” with corporate indiscretions regarding how bailout funds were really being spent -
luxury jets, family trips to Baja, year end bonuses are de rigueur (even though companies weren’t profitable) but what stuck in my craw most was the purchase of a “$1,400 Parchment Waste Can.”

Supposedly, the tab for said “Waste Can” has been reimbursed, along with the entire redecorating fee of $1.22 million for the corporate corner office, which is no longer inhabited by the waste can’s owner. He was summarily fired when the pancakes hit the fan… justifiably so. But, and this begs a BIG question, “What on earth kind of garbage goes in a $1,400 Parchment Waste Can?”

I can only imagine – a broken string of Black Tahitian Pearls? No, they probably would be worth the effort to have them restrung at your local jeweler. Maybe old paper stock certificates from one of the big three automakers… nah, there’s some historical value to having a real paper stock certificate – they’re almost too good to cash in, because they are very pretty and just aren’t printed anymore.

Eureka! I know exactly what would go in a $1,400 Parchment Waste Can… the bill for the $1.22 million decorating job that was probably arrogantly tossed away (no need for tax records here, a cancelled check will do) and was possibly dumped out by the evening office cleaning lady or lad, whose tax dollars paid for the redecorating job… thus likely ending in the hands of one diligent investigative reporter. (Amen, and thank you to fellow members of a dwindling occupation.)

Maybe the smarter thing (all along) would have been to purchase a “United Receptacle Dimension 500 Series 29-Gal Litter Receptacle” - on Google you can find them for as low as $863.19, and here’s the best part… they are “durable, fire-safe and vandal-resistant.” Then again, maybe it just wouldn’t match the corner office suite d├ęcor – time for a decorator conference.

I guess nobody would ever look for a pink slip there.