Saturday, January 31, 2009

Can't believe my eyes!

Either my eyes are getting worse or all my text is now shrunken to teeny letter size. I'm wearing the same glasses I wore yesterday. What gives?

I'm Ready for Football!!!

I don't know about anyone else, but I am ready for the SuperBowl tomorrow. Not only do I have hotdogs and buns, relish and fixins, potato salad and pork 'n beans (and liquid refreshments) waiting for my couch-potato hours in front of the big screen TV, but I even bought a new set of multiple crochet hooks (8 of them!!) that will see me through most any football game.

I already have a big collection of straight and circular knitting needles of all sizes, but those crochet hooks come in handy for weaving in the loose ends of my creations. Now I'm teaching myself to crochet. I have turned out some beautiful little hats already. My method is rather like Michelangelo's sculpting method - he would look at the huge chunk of marble and chip away everything that wasn't the statue. I had no idea what stitches I was making, but I made some very cute little flippy-brim hats with crocheted flowers on them. Here's one of them - see?

Then my daughter wanted an aviator-style hat for my granddaughter. Take a look at the result:

I love knitting and have made some cute things for my granddaughter (unfortunately I took so long to make them that they were too small for her by the time she received them). But they are cute - take a look:

I felt like showing off and was going to post other pics from my computer, but I couldn't find them (of course). I guess I will have to save those for another day. Aren't you lucky?

Friday, January 30, 2009

Thursday, January 29, 2009

Freezing death of elderly man

From an AP article I found on Yahoo news today (1/28/2009) at

This article sparked anger all right, then tears, and then bitterness and cynicism over the idiocy of a utility company that could even THINK about shutting off someone's power without an in-person check first. Yes the neighbors should have spoken up and need to keep an eye on one another, but the biggest responsibility lies with the bureaucratic staff at that utility company. "Oh no, that's not my job," they would probably say. BULLPUCKEY is my response. It's everyone's job. What a horrible shame. And they should be ashamed.

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Freezing death of Mich. man in house sparks anger

By DAVID EGGERT, Associated Press Writer David Eggert, Associated Press Writer – Wed Jan 28, 6:58 pm ET

BAY CITY, Mich. – When neighbors went inside Marvin Schur's house, the windows were frosted over, icicles hung from a faucet, and the 93-year-old World War II veteran lay dead on the bedroom floor in a winter jacket over four layers of clothing.

He froze to death — slowly and painfully, authorities say — days after the electric company installed a power-limiting device because of more than $1,000 in unpaid bills.

The old man's sad end two weeks ago has led to outrage, soul-searching and a resolve never to let something like this happen again.

"There's got to be a way in today's computer age they can find out if someone's over a certain age," said Chad Sepos, 37, a copy machine installer who lives a block away in this Lake Huron city of 34,000 people, about 90 miles from Detroit. "It's just sad."

One of the saddest things of all was that Schur appeared to have plenty of money, and, in fact, one of the neighbors who entered the home reported seeing cash clipped to a pile of bills on the kitchen table. Schur's nephew suggested the old man's mind may have been slipping.

Schur, or "Mutts," was a retired foundry worker who lived alone, his wife having died a couple of years ago. The couple had no children. He could often be seen through the big front window of his comfortably furnished home of 50 or 60 years, watching TV or keeping an eye on his neighborhood.

On Jan. 13, a worker with the city-owned utility installed a "limiter" on Schur's electric meter after four months of unpaid bills. The device restricts power and blows like a fuse if usage rises past a set level. Electricity is not restored until the device is flipped back on by the homeowner, who must walk outside to the meter.

Bay City Electric Light & Power did not contact Schur face-to-face to notify him of the device and explain how it works, instead following its usual policy by leaving a note on the door. But neighbors said Schur rarely, if ever, left the house in the cold.

At some point, the device evidently tripped and was not reset, authorities said. Schur's home was heated by a gas furnace, not electricity, but some gas furnaces do not work properly if the power is out.

Neighbors discovered Schur's body on Jan. 17 in his home, a yellow house with peeling paint. The outside temperature ranged from a high of 12 degrees to a low of minus 9 on Jan. 15, the day he was believed to have died. A heating pad was on his favorite armchair by the window. The oven door was open, perhaps to heat the place.
"The body has a tremendous fighting power for survival. He died a slow, painful death," said Dr. Kanu Virani, who found frostbite on Schur's foot when performing the autopsy. Investigators are trying to establish how long he was without electricity.

City officials are reviewing their procedures and in the meantime have suspended shutoffs and removed all limiters from homes after using the devices for 18 years.

The medical examiner is looking into whether Schur suffered from dementia, particularly after police found enough cash lying around in the home to cover his bills. His nephew William Walworth said Schur told him two years ago he had $600,000 in savings.

"It's definitely not a situation where money is an issue. The issue has to do with the mental faculties you have and your ability to make good decisions," said Walworth, 67, who lives in Ormond Beach, Fla.

"I think the utility's policies are horrible and insane," he added. "For 50 years he paid the bill on a regular basis and never had problems. If people would know who their customers are and take concern for their customers, maybe they'd go knock on the door and see if everything is OK."

Neighbors and others have posted messages on the Internet, complaining it was a shabby way to treat a veteran and demanding city employees be fired or prosecuted for not taking a few minutes to check on Schur, who was a medic in the South Pacific and earned a Purple Heart.

One blogger noted that even a pet owner who leaves his dog outside to freeze can face charges.
Sharon Gire, director of the Michigan Office of Services to the Aging, said Schur's death was preventable. "He was one of Michigan's most vulnerable citizens in need," she said. "It is a tragedy that he had to suffer such a painful death."

Michigan's big, state-regulated utilities are not allowed to shut off power to senior citizens in the winter and must offer payment plans to the poor. State regulators also discourage the use of limiters. But Michigan's 41 smaller municipal utilities — Bay City's included — are not overseen by the state.

Schur's death has prompted Michigan lawmakers to start writing legislation that could ban the use of limiters by municipal utilities.

"The concern was particularly with elderly customers; they can be frail or confused," Public Service Commission spokeswoman Judy Palnau said. "Anything that can require some sort of mechanical intervention can be overwhelming."

Bay City Manager Robert Belleman said that he was "deeply saddened" by Schur's death and that State Police will investigate. But he also said neighbors have a responsibility to each other.

"I've said this before and some of my colleagues have said this: Neighbors need to keep an eye on neighbors," Belleman said. "When they think there's something wrong, they should contact the appropriate agency or city department."

Tuesday, January 27, 2009

To all Pets and their Owners

I got this in an email and LOVED it so I am posting it here.

To all Pets and their Owners

To be posted VERY LOW on the refrigerator
door - nose height.

Dear Dogs and Cats:

The dishes with the paw print are yours and contain your food. The other dishes are mine and contain my food. Please note, placing a paw print in the middle of my plate and food does not stake a claim for it becoming your food and dish, nor do I find that aesthetically pleasing in the slightest.

The stairway was not designed by NASCAR and is not a racetrack. Beating me to the bottom is not the object. Tripping me doesn't help because I fall faster than you can run.

I cannot buy anything bigger than a king sized bed. I am very sorry about this. Do not think I will continue sleeping on the couch to ensure your comfort. Dogs and cats can actually curl up in a ball when they sleep. It is not necessary to sleep perpendicular to each other stretched out to the fullest extent possible. I also know that sticking tails straight out and having tongues hanging out the other end to maximize space is nothing but sarcasm..

For the last time, there is not a secret exit from the bathroom. If by some miracle I beat you there and manage to get the door shut, it is not necessary to claw, whine, meow, and try to turn the knob or get your paw under the edge and try to pull the door open. I must exit through the same door I entered. Also, I have been using the bathroom for years -- canine or feline attendance is not required.

The proper order is kiss me, then go smell the other dog or cat's butt. I cannot stress this enough!

To pacify you, my dear pets, I have posted the following message on our front door:

To All Non-Pet Owners Who Visit & Like to Complain About Our Pets:

1. They live here. You don't.
2. If you don't want their hair on your clothes, stay off the furniture. (That's why they call it 'fur'nature.)
3. I like my pets a lot better than I like most people.
4. To you, it's an animal. To me, he/she is an adopted son/daughter who is short, hairy, walks on all fours and doesn't speak clearly.

Remember: In many ways, dogs and cats are better than kids because they:

1. Eat less
2. Don't ask for money all the time
3. Are easier to train
4. Normally come when called (well, OK, the cat thinks about it)
5. Never ask to drive the car
6. Don't hang out with drug-using friends
7. Don't smoke or drink
8. Don't have to buy the latest fashions
9. Don't want to wear your clothes
10. Don't need a 'gazillion' dollars for college.

And finally,

11. If they get pregnant, you can sell their children.

Monday, January 26, 2009

Playing with Flash

Digital TV conversion may be delayed

The Senate has passed a bill to delay the switch to digital TV by four months. I just saw the article on Here's a link if you haven't read it.

That doesn't mean that this is official. The House would still need to pass it and Obama would need to sign off. Don't get excited yet.
Delaying the upcoming DTV switch is the right thing to do," said Senate Commerce Committee Chairman Jay Rockefeller, D-W.Va., author of the bill to push back the deadline.
Gene Kimmelman, vice president for federal policy at Consumers Union, argues that millions of Americans — particularly low-income and elderly viewers — will pay the price because "the government has failed to deliver the converter boxes these people deserve just to keep watching free, over-the-air broadcast signals."

When Congress made the decision to require the switch from analog to digital signals in 2005, where were we? How did they pass this through without anyone taking notice? It was a blatant act of service on behalf of commercial wireless services (translation - the people who suck money out of your wallets). Those "valuable chunks of wireless spectrum" are being yanked away from the elderly and low income viewers who, isolated from society due to infirmity or circumstance, rely on broadcast TV for news, entertainment, and a sense of belonging to a world from which they have become increasingly marginalized.

My bet is that Congress was sold a bill of goods. The article also states that some of those "valuable chunks of wireless spectrum" would be used for interoperable emergency-response networks. Tack on the "public welfare" perspective and you can sell the idea! It almost makes all the billions of dollars U.S. taxpayers are coughing up to subsidize the converter box coupon fiasco worthwhile, right? What exactly is an interoperable emergency-response network? How much bandwidth would it REALLY require? In the meantime, our hard-earned money is being used to pay for the converter boxes and for all the administrative costs that go along with the switch.

Who are the largest beneficiaries of this ill-conceived plan? The wireless companies - yup, those folks to whom you are probably paying $60 a month for a $40 wireless phone plan (plus taxes and fees, of course). Don't forget the companies that make and sell those lovely converter boxes. They're making a profit, you better believe it.

True, some "public safety agencies waiting for the airwaves that will be vacated" will be inconvenienced. And true, a delay would "create added costs for television stations that would have to continue broadcasting both analog and digital signals.

A delay until June would be beneficial IF the time is well spent. The coupon distribution process needs to be monitored. Reselling the coupons should be prevented (yes, profiteers are thinking of ways to make something from nothing - why are you surprised?). And the marginalized populations that need those coupons the most should be targeted to ensure that those needs are served.

Sunday, January 25, 2009

Birth of a Blog

Today my first public blog was born. It wasn't much to speak of, but it's open and public and naked for the world to see. Here goes!