Category Archives: News

I Love a Parade

Last Thursday morning at 6:00,  Husband and I and four of our travelling companions  left our hotel on Times Square, walked down 49th St, crossed  Broadway, and made our way over to 6th Ave where we found a nice open space of sidewalk right across from Simon and Schuster Publishing  House to claim as ours for the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade.  Prime areas near the corner were cordoned off, reserved for widows and orphans of police and fire fighters.

The curbside was already claimed by some intrepid souls who got there at 5:00. It was cold, but we felt warm gusts of air from the subway through grates in the sidewalk.  The teenager in our group promptly laid down on the metal grates and went to sleep until the parade started.  I kept pretty warm in my lined jacket, but it really helped when a Netflix representative handed out Green Eggs and Ham earmuffs to everyone around us.

 Police patrolled on foot and bicycle, and were blocking off side streets with metal barriers. The people nearby us were from Arizona, Minnesota, and Connecticut as well as City residents.  We shared stories and took turns getting coffee and pastries as the sun rose.

The parade began many blocks north in Central Park, and got to us at about 9:30.  There had been much anxiety if the balloons would fly, as it was pretty windy, but fly they did, although closer to the ground than was typical. The were loads of clowns in charming costumes, dancers of all ages, lots of stilt walkers,  and lovely floats. Many of the participant were school aged children who looked  so happy and proud to be in the parade. I really liked the Christmas trees on stilts.

The marching bands were from all over the country.  Their chaperones and parents marched right along behind them. We had fun judging the straightness of their rows and columns.  (“Guide right!”) The biggest group was The Second Time Around Marching Band comprised of dozens of quite aged baton twirlers, pom pom wavers, and musicians in natty uniforms  who looked ecstatic to be marching again. The floats were elaborate and featured singers, TV personalities, and actors. I wasn’t very familiar with most of them, but our teenager assured me they were  quite famous

Astronaut Snoopy was the first balloon, with the Grinch and his dog, Max the last.

The parade ended for us at 11:30 with Santa on his float.  The side streets were still blocked to motor traffic, and it was fun to meander with hordes of New Yorkers  in the lanes normally full of honking cabs and cars and buses.  We all trooped back to the hotel and took naps. It had been a long, cold wait, but well worth it.

Tell some parade stories. What would you like to do in a parade?

Sunken Treasure

In the news this week, underwater treasure hunters brought up close to 1,000 bottles of a rare cognac and other liqueurs. In 1917, the Kyros was sunk by a German U-boat on its voyage from France to St. Petersburg.  The crew all survived the sinking but the liquid gold went to the bottom. The wreck was discovered in 1999 but wasn’t accessible until now.

The treasure hunters, Ocean X Team and iXplorer spent over a week with submersibles and robots to salvage the bottles, 600 De Haartman cognac and 300 Benedictine liqueur, which have been sitting for the last 102 years beneath 250 feet of cold Baltic Sea water. The Benedictine liqueur brand now belongs to Bacardi and the explorers are working with them and researching the possible worth of their find.  They say most of the bottles appear to be intact.

Would you be Long John Silver or Jim Hawkins?

Retro Bribery

The news today is that McDonald’s has decided to re-introduce some of their retro Happy Meal toys. To celebrate the 40th birthday of Happy Meals, they are bringing back some of the toys that were most popular in the past.  This means some little Beanie Babies, a Mulan figurine and even a Tamagotchi.  I remember my sister waiting in line repeatedly for the little Beanie Baby toys from McDonalds for her kids; I expect we will see more of the same with this promotion.

When YA was young, our go-to restaurant was Noodles, who didn’t do kids’ meals or toys. McDonalds still isn’t the most vegetarian-friendly place and it certainly wasn’t 24 years ago.  Same with Burger King, Wendy’s and the rest.  I do remember that Taco Bell (our other favorite) had a kid’s meal w/ a toy, but Child didn’t like the inclusions, so she never got the kids’ meal.  And if there was an occasional cheap plastic toy, it usually went in the trash when we got home.  Two big dogs and little cheap plastic toys are not a good combination.  (Side story.  When Child was little I had told all my nearest and dearest that I didn’t want Barbies in the house.  Not because I have anything intrinsically against a Barbie doll, but because they always come with lots of little bits; Child was still too little to be held responsible for picking up lots of little toy accessories and I didn’t want the dogs ingesting them.  That Solstice, middle sister sent an Arial doll.  Little coconut bra, little comb, little Sebastian and little Flounder.  When I questioned my sister, she said “but it isn’t a Barbie”.  We donated it.)

Long story short, it makes me wonder that our society thinks we can’t ask our kids to sit through a short meal without being bribed by a toy and now retro toys.   Personally I save bribery for much bigger issues!!

Have you ever had to coerce someone with toys/treats/gifts?

Your Name Here

Our city is doing a feasibility study to see if we should  build an event center.  We don’t have any large scale venues for conventions and such.  The city manager said in a newspaper interview that the building will be paid for by donations, and that  whoever donated the most money would get naming rights.  I hope whoever does this isn’t embarrassing or somehow notorious.  There is a music hall at the University of North Dakota named after a rather unscrupulous fellow named Chester Fritz, who was a ND native who  became a leading gold trader in the post-World War II period and made several fortunes and had a very tumultuous life.   This made me think what, if anything  I would want named after me.  If it depended on how much money I could donate, I am afraid it would probably be a memorial stopwatch for future psychologists at my agency to use during test administration.   Husband paid for a paver with his family name on it for the walk way into the local library.   He paid $500 for the honor, but most of the money goes to the library.   Wasn’t it our Jim the Baboon who has a nematode named after him?

What would you want named after you?

Right or Wrong

Today marks the anniversary of Christopher Columbus landing on an island near the Bahamas and believing he was in  Asia. My, was he wrong.  No one in my father’s family was ever wrong, so they thought.  They believed they were really French.  They just couldn’t reconcile themselves to be Dutch.  In reality, they are Frisian, but how do you explain what that means? I never expected Ronald Reagan to be elected president. My, was I wrong.

When have you been really, really, right? When have you been really, really, wrong?

Getting Deposed

I am being deposed. No, I don’t mean thrown out of office or my job. I mean that I will be soon sitting in a room at a court house with four lawyers, their assistants, and a court reporter. I have been subpoenaed as an expert witness in a case  related  to my work.  Three of the lawyers will ask me questions. One will try to discredit me and my testimony, while the other two will like what I have to say.  The fourth lawyer is sent from the Attorney General’s office, since I am a State employee,  to help me out if needed.

My lawyer from the AG’s office is a very nice man who sent me a list of helpful hints for giving testimony and  who will  provide all the documents that I was ordered to bring to the hearing. I have testified in court many times before and have given at least one deposition, but it was nice to talk it over with him.  I am not a difficult witness, and I know how to behave on the stand. This made me think, though, what a thankless task it will be for the poor lawyer or lawyers who will prepare 45 for giving testimony and answering questions on the stand.  I can’t imagine it will be pretty.

Have you ever had to testify in court? Imagine you are a lawyer.  Think of some historical or literary characters and tell us how you would prepare them to testify in court. 

Taking My Show On The Road

The following is an excerpt from an article in our local paper, The Dickinson Press, for September 17, 2019, written by reporter Josiah Cuellar.

“An 18-wheeler loaded with a massive, four-ton potato, on its annual tour of the country, stopped by The Hub at West Dakota Oils which was having their grand reopening Tuesday, Sept. 17.  The Big Idaho Potato crew filled up and welcomed the public to get photos and ask questions to the truck driver, Melissa Bradford, and the “Tater Twins,” Kaylee Wells and Jessica Coulthard.  “No two potatoes look alike, neither do the Tater Twins,” Wells said.  “It’s just a really fun campaign,” Coulthard added. The annual tour began in 2012, and the popularity of it keeps bringing the colossal spud back. “They built the potato truck to celebrate the 75th anniversary of the Idaho Potato Commission,” Coulthard said,  “It was originally supposed to be one-year tour, but it got so popular they just kept it going.”  While every trip in the giant, potato-shaped truck is unique, this year’s tour is extra special because it features the first all-female group. “We are the first all-female team that they had on tour,” Wells said. “We get to show other women that you can do anything that you put your mind to, that you can succeed in a man’s world; you can do whatever you want.””

Ok. I think this is pretty silly and weirdly wonderful.  No matter what happens in the next few weeks in Washington, I think it is important to remember that this is what makes us a great nation.

What would you like to load up on a big truck and take on tour? Where would you take it?