Tuesday, November 30, 2010

I'm Vaguely Famous, But Mainly in My Own Mind

This was shown in a special "Glossy" section that comes with our newspaper once a month. Susan is my Go-To newspaper scanner and she missed this. She defended herself by saying she doesn't look at the stuff in Glossy because it's all too "frou-frou". Well, excuuuuuuse me!

Thanks to my fellow student, Andrea, for letting me know I had my 15 minutes of fame.

Sunday, November 28, 2010


Disclaimer #1: Therapists are good. Therapy is good.
Point to Remember: A sense of humor is good.
Disclaimer #2: I don't have GEICO, I'm not affiliated with them, etc, etc.

That said, this commercial has me laughing out loud every time I see it.

The ending toss is perfect.

Thursday, November 25, 2010

Happy Thanksgiving

Thanksgiving time is for being thankful for all you have. Many of us wind up having a little too much at the dinner table.

Happy Turkey Day!

The mostly-Vegetarian Blog Wrangler speaks: Happy Squash Day.

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

A Photographer's Beads

Blogging has led to friends. This special friend always makes a point of seeing us when we come to New York City. She makes fused glass beads (showing them to Susan here) and is an extremely skilled photographer. Go here to see what I'm talking about.

Sunday, November 21, 2010

Trick or Treat, Part 2

I am quite sure these women know Ms. Red Shoes. I was ready to ask them but they disappeared in the the crowd. And I got distracted by this:

If I had stock in a company that made digital cameras I would be very, very pleased with my investment. It seems like EVERYONE was taking pictures of everything.

Times Square is turning out to be one of my favorite places to people-watch, especially on Halloween! Everyone was happy (or maybe cold).

Goodby, Times Square, hope to see you next year.

Friday, November 19, 2010

Trick or Treat, Part 1

Halloween night in Times Square was incredible! Not so much the people in costumes but the people in general. Everyone was happy, smiling, laughing and taking pictures of everyone in sight, costumed or not. We talked to a few police officers working the crowd ("Great costumes -- Police!") and they said working on Halloween was second only to working New Year's Eve. We asked if that was good or bad, and they said it was good because everyone was so happy and having such a good time.

I'm quite sure there were no NYC residents there because they all went down to the Village to see the parade there. The tourists (us) didn't know exactly where to go in the Village or where the best viewing spot was or where the bathrooms where so we all stayed in Times Square. That's where I made two new friends.

Do you know what a lowrider is? In Texas they are quite common in certain areas of town. A number of lowriders rumbled through Times Square, drawing quite a bit of applause and hoots as they went through. This poor guy (video below) was the last one and he got caught at the light which provided entertainment and a number of photo-ops for the tourists. Notice how cool he remains while on his side and the passenger side people line up for their picture. When you have a lowrider you adjust the suspension so you get a charactistic bump or jerk.

Susan took the first part of the video and she pans past me at the end. Her video ends up on a guy from Costa Rica. He is desperately trying to contact his family to tell them to watch him on the EarthCam. [Wait semi-patiently through the commercial, then check out the CAMs just below the main image.] We had been standing there calling our friends to tell them to watch us and he asked us why we were stopped in the middle of the sidewalk. Just above him on the left of the video you can see the two webcams, the one on the right gives real-time (CAM 2), the one on the left is delayed (CAM 7). The webcams let you save or send an image, below the video you'll see the image my sister-in-law got of me, while Susan (behind me) is on the cellphone to her.

The Blog Wrangler speaks: More images to come eventually, Time-Warner Road Runner has decided to convert my broadband speed to something like a dial-up and even that is intermittant. I have talked to tech support twice (Costa Rica and the Phillippines) and maybe it will be fixed "between 8:00 a.m. and 12:00 noon tomorrow, be sure you are at home." Yeah, right. It's their transmission, they are trouble shooting it from countries outside the US, but you are on house arrest until they show up.

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Circling Manhattan

After being disappointed at the Flea Market we realized we were not too far from the piers where the Circle Line cruises pulled out so we headed over there just in time to catch the 3-hour around-the-island tour. Here's a little trick my Blog Wrangler pulled off as she stood by me at the ticket window::
"Do you have a Senior Discount rate?"
That saved us a big chunk of change and No, there was nothing posted anywhere saying that a Senior rate was even available. Be advised that you need to look vaguely like a senior to have this trick work.

Even though the day was sunny it was cold and windy so it wasn't a problem to get a seat on the upper deck, outside. There had previously been a fire on the Harlem River Bridge so cruise lines couldn't go there because of debris in the water so the around-the-island turned out to be up the East side and back and then up the West side. We were pleased anyway with our cruise.

Our commentator/guide was very amusing and articulate and easy to understand. Like most guides he was full of trivia and pointed out a LOT of stuff that you just can't see unless you are on the river.

Here's some trivia for you: The Citigroup/Citicorp building was designed incorrectly. Just before it was finished, a design engineer spoke to a group of students about the design of the building. One student asked the proverbial "dumb question": If the supports are on the sides of the building instead of the corners, won't it be a stability problem during high winds?" The engineer dismissed his question but the next day realized the student had a point. Not only was he correct, it was just a few months away from summer hurricane season . . . . The answer is here.

The moral of the story is: There is no such thing as a dumb question.

Here's a bonus trivia bit: The angled roof line was supposed to be for solar panels for energy. But they got the angle wrong and the panels don't face the sun correctly.

The main lesson of our Circle Line cruise was this: Wear a lot warmer clothes than you think you'll need. We froze our butts off and I came home 3 days later with a bad cold. Never fear, eventually you will be seeing more blog pictures of Yours Truly in Times Square on Halloween Night. I was dressed up as a Tourist.

Monday, November 15, 2010

Flea Markets

It was a clear, windy and cold day but very sunny so we decided to see what was available at a Flea Market in The Big Apple. After all, this was a big city with very sophisticated people and shoppers. Only 10 blocks away was the Hell's Kitchen Flea Market, described this way:
"Named one of the Top Ten Shopping Streets in the World by National Geographic, Hell’s Kitchen Flea Market sets the standard for distinctive vendors, where the fashion éclat, collectors and top-notch hagglers still delight at fine old things, memorabilia, original art & antique."

Shoppers, Flea market fans and casual wanderers, pay attention here: NOT SO!

It was only about 3 blocks worth of tables set up on both sides of the street, three to four tables deep. The vendors committed the worst sin of all in my opinion -- no prices marked on anything. I HATE that. I don't want to have to ask about everything on your table, I want to see what you think is a starting haggling price or is your final offer price. Then I'll know if I am even in the ballpark, money-wise and don't have to waste time asking about every little thing. As for "distinctive vendors" I'll have to take a Neutral on that. Some stuff was interesting but there was so little offered that it seemed more desperate than distinctive.

If you want Flea Market, go to Round Top in Texas. There, we measure shopping by MILES of tables, not by blocks. The tables and booths can be lined up 25 deep in a row off the road. Think I'm kidding? Go here. We've walked the fields from Clutter's Field to Zapp Hall on the east side of the road only and it's taken us a whole day to get that far. Yes, some people like Pasadena's Flea Market but again, we measure our shopping by MILES, not by a parking lot. And we cover 6 different towns.

Okay, we only have it twice a year, not every weekend. But it lasts for two weeks each time. If you are savvy you know to come a week before it officially starts because that's when the vendors buy from each other and set up. So we get 4 weeks a year, 28 days, as opposed to New York City's 52 weekends or 104 days. New York gets 4 times as many shopping days but only 3 blocks of booths as opposed to MILES of booths in fields....

Sorry, New York, we love your city but in a Flea Market Smack-down you just don't cut it. And you didn't even want people to take pictures of you! The pictures you see here are from Antiques Weekend, Round Top, Texas, NOT New York City.

Saturday, November 13, 2010

American Folk Art Museum

The American Folk Art Museum had a free Friday night music event so we walked over for that. Not the music, just the free admission. The music was not so good, the museum is a tall narrow building and the first singer's voice was pretty screechy due to the poor acoustics. The second group was a little better but it took them a lot of time to get their equipment adjusted for the acoustics.

I followed Ms. Red Shoes to the mezzanine balcony. I just love museums!

Oh yeah, there were some quilts there on display that maybe I glanced at.

On our way back we encountered this scene. We waited for awhile but no one seemed to be doing anything but standing around. I don't know if she was stood up at the altar or was going to be in a movie or what.

 I was planning to go back to the museum to ask Ms. Red Shoes what it was all about.  But Susan said that I could plan on spending the night sleeping in the subway if I did. I never get to have any fun!

Thursday, November 11, 2010

Remembering: Veterans' Day, November 11, 2010

What do we owe soldiers on the battlefields of the present
or - do not doubt it - the future?
How does one honor the inexpressibly difficult decision
 to walk toward annihilation,
in some instances guaranteed,
for the sake of the imperfect strategies of war,
their confused execution,
and their uncertain result?
What can we offer the soldiers who will not know
 the outcome of their struggle,
or ever again see those left behind?

Mark Helprin

Afghanistan, 2010

Remember the family of James Clifford McKittrick.
They are still waiting for him to come home.
I'm still waiting to send them my POW-MIA bracelet.

 I escorted his flag-draped coffin home to his family.
Captain Barry Lynn Brown, Killed in Action, Vietnam, May 5, 1968

Remember Joseph Ambrose,
 a World War I veteran, holding the flag that covered the casket of his son,
who had been killed in the Korean War.

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Make No Stray Marks

Keith LoBue is one of my favorite artists (a sample of his work below) and he's also a fantastic teacher.

As you can see, he doesn't have to worry about having a Bad Hair Day. What doesn't show here is the tattoo he has on the back of his head: 
UK Patent Pending

As soon as the rest of my hair disappears (sooner than I'd like) I plan to have this tattooed on the back of my head:

(seen on a crate at the Museum of Arts and Design)

Sunday, November 7, 2010

Museum of Arts and Design

Our first day in New York City always starts with a visit to the Museum of Arts and Design. How simple can a teapot be? This simple.   The pattern on this plate had me rethinking my use of color in my glazes.

The museum is right on Columbus Circle and as you move from floor to floor you can catch a glimpse of the city through their protective screens.

This trip to the museum revealed a new surprise for us. Susan noticed a man opening the drawers below the jewelry display cases and immediately had me opening every one of them to see the jewelry stored there. We'd never known you could do that and had never seen else anyone doing it; it was a lucky find and I got some good reference pictures.

This artist's work was interesting and we were amused at the bottom item in the first series - those are actually bugs on the brooch. And we used to have a VW.  Here is the text for her work:

"Helena Biermann Angel
Hit the Road Series I (3 pieces) is a set of brooches that encapsulate particles collected in devices attached to the artist's car during various journeys. In Hit the Road Series II, she attached the brooches directly to the car's tailpipe, the emissions affected the surface patterns; just as pollution changes the environment. All of these works are records in tribute to the imperceptible elements which affect our transit through life."

Thursday, November 4, 2010

Big Kitty

Were you wondering where I was? I was in New York City, touring museums, and then in Houston to see the International Quilt Festival. As usual, New York City was overwhelming and gave me the gift of a nasty cold but I'm still glad we went.  (More photos to come, including Yours Truly at Times Square on Halloween Night.)

On our first day we always aim for the Museum of Arts and Design, starting at the 6th floor and the Open Studios. That's where we met Ruth Marshall and her Big Kitty. Ruth is going to have one of her pieces shown at the Textile Museum next spring and we hope to make it there to see it.  Go here to see more about Ruth's work and go here to see her blog with more pictures of her Big Kitty, or, as she refers to it,

"... my Tiger Pelt Project. A knitted textile interpretation of tiger pelts based on the collection at the American Museum of Natural History and actual data of wild tigers being studied in the wild by scientists. Through studying actual pelts that were collected from 1944 onwards to live wild tigers captured by photographs, I hope to trace the history and stories behind these amazing tigers that are facing the threat of extinction today."

The pieces she had there were incredible, soft and beautiful, and it was almost painful to think of the insane people who would kill these magnificent animals just to have their "trophy'.

Tuesday, November 2, 2010


This is our friend, Maria. She came to the US years many ago from El Salvador, leaving her small children behind in the care of her mother. Over time she worked hard, saved money, sent money home, saved more money, and eventually was able to bring her children to the US.  She kept working hard and bought a small home.

Maria is a very quiet, private person but one day she brought a book to us to ask for help in studying. It was for her citizenship test! She had studied very hard and knew the correct answers better than we did. Is getting legal citizenship easy? No.

There were 100 questions she had to know the answers to AND know a little about the answer she gave. There was also a section that would be free-form and would test her knowledge of English. In the end, she was asked only 5 random questions and the interviewer told her she did just great. But we knew she would.

We went to San Antonio for the ceremony where her citizenship was granted. An interesting part of the ceremony was when the judge named off alphabetically each country represented and asked the people from those countries to stand. A lot of countries were named.

The good news is that Maria is now a US citizen. The bad news is that she didn't understand about registering ahead of time to be able to vote and can't vote today. She thought she had to show her passport to prove she was a citizen and her passport hadn't arrived before the deadline to register. She had listened to the candidates' ads on TV (was not happy with all the mud-slinging) and was getting robo-phone calls -- I told her "Now you really are an American!"

Granting amnesty to illegal immigrants and their children would be a nice gesture but how does that balance out for someone who paid for a lawyer to help her get her documents right, paid for a passport, studied hard, learned English, took a test, and finally appeared at a ceremony to be awarded her legal citizenship?

Please vote today. Maria would want you to.