Sunday, January 19, 2014


  My father used to joke that the advantage of being a grandparent was that he could rile the kids up and then go home. I do not recall any occasions when he actually did this, but the line is good for a chuckle.
  As I near the end of my first year of being a grandfather, I think that the advantage has been the ability to devote all of my attention to Alex when I am with him. As a parent, there are always an assortment of other chores and tasks that need doing, along with taking care of the kids.  Not so for Grandpa, particularly when, like yesterday, I am babysitting at Chuck and Rebecca's apartment.
Grandpa and Alex contemplating.

  Our adventure began when Alex woke from his afternoon nap. He had some banana,one of the foods he likes to feed himself, and then we were off to the park. I didn't bother with the stroller; it is as much an effort to get it in and out of the building as it is to just carry Alex the one block. Turned out that it was a good choice as little Mr. Independent decided he wanted to walk. He held onto my finger some of the time, letting go frequently as if to say, "I know how to do this, Grandpa!"
  We then walked through the park, stopping to watch a squirrel running through the bushes, and made our way to the playground. As he did the last time we were there, Alex climbed up and down  a few times, then explored underneath, and ended with some Grandpa-assisted rides down the slide.
   He was wearing down on the way back home, so he allowed me to carry him most of the way. And all that play worked up his appetite, so he had a couple of cookies and a bottle when we got home. His batteries recharged, it was time to play with a variety of his toys, moving from room to room in the apartment because he's got them everywhere.
   All this fun did wear him out, so he ended up taking a bonus 45-minute nap, waking up just in time to enjoy his dinner. Here again, Alex is showing that he prefers to do it himself. He allowed me to spoon-feed him the turkey and sweet potato, but much preferred feeding himself the peas and carrots. It was while doing the latter that he came up with a new way to do it: he would poke a pea with his finger until it got stuck on the end, then stick it in his mouth. It was fascinating to sit and watch him do this, repeating it as he saw that it worked with the peas but not the carrots, and ultimately ignoring the carrots in favor of the peas.
  Dinner over, I cleaned him up and got him into his pajamas. We had some more play time and, as he started winding down, he picked one of his books and we had story time.

Story time

  There's not much story continuity involved as Alex tends to prefer turning pages back and forth -- and sometimes switching to a different book -- much more than having me read the story. Still, it was a nice way to wind down from an afternoon and evening of adventures.

Saturday, January 18, 2014

The 4th Annual Fudge Man Day

  Longtime readers may remember my entry about John Roach, the Fudge Man, one of the regular platelet donors at the Melville Blood Center. In the years since his passing, we have celebrated Fudge Man Day in his honor. (Past accounts are here and here.) This morning we gathered for the fourth annual event.
  We were joined by two of John's brothers, along with one of his former co-workers. Once again, there were fridge magnet calendars and key chains to commemorate the occasion... and plenty of fudge. Though a couple of our regulars were ill and could not donate -- they will make up for it at a future date, for sure -- all the platelet donor beds were filled. In addition, a number of folks came in and donated pints of whole blood. It was a fitting tribute to John,
   One of the platelet donors this morning was a first-timer. We were chatting in the canteen afterwards and she said that she was doing it as a tribute to her father, who had recently died of cancer, but had received numerous platelet transfusions during his treatment. I pointed to a couple of the regulars and said, "Odds are, your father had a little bit of some of us in him." She smiled and thanked us and added, "I guess I'll be seeing you here again."
   As she was about to leave, the woman was called over to the front desk by Debbie, the appointments coordinator. Debbie gave her a small box of the fudge and said that John always made sure to give some to first-timers. That was something I didn't know and just one more reason why the Fudge Man was a very special donor.

Thursday, January 16, 2014

More "Breaking News"

  Some weeks ago, I wrote about the "Breaking News" articles that the Farmingdale Patch had been posting, news items that weren't all that current and certainly didn't warrant their status. (Read it here.)
  Yesterday, I got two alerts from the Patch. To be fair, one of them was timely and important, advising that the National Weather Service had issued a dense fog warning for the evening. It was even relevant, as Laurie and I went out to the movies and emerged from the theater to discover that there was, indeed, lots of fog!
  The other story, however, just left me scratching my head. Headlined "Massage Client Attacks, Abuses Worker in Hicksville Spa," it reports that the police are seeking a man who sexually abused a massage therapist and then fled.
  The assailant, described in the article as "an unknown man," entered the spa and asked for a massage. He was shown to a room, told to remove his clothes and lie on the table, covering himself with a blanket. It appears he got the undressing part correct, but when the massage therapist entered the room, he was standing up, displaying his wares. She told him to lie down on the table, but he insisted that she perform a sexual act.
   She refused and they struggled, during which he touched her in an "inappropriate sexual manner." And then he fled..."by unknown means." The Nassau Police Department is seeking the public's help in apprehending this man.
   Oh, by the way, the incident took place on January 6th, nine days before this article appeared.
   But, please, stop and think about this a little. According to this story, the man struggled with the therapist and then fled. There is no indication that he put his clothes back on!
  The police have been looking for a naked man for nine days!
  And they just now are asking for help?
  By all means, I will keep a lookout for a naked (and probably quite cold) man wandering around the neighborhood.

Tuesday, January 7, 2014

Listen to the Music

  Growing up, I had two ways to listen to music. The primary source was the radio and back then there were two major radio stations that played rock and roll - WMCA, the home of the "Good Guys," and WABC Music Radio. I was a fan of the former and spent many hours listening to DJs Jack Spector, Dandy Dan Daniel, Gary Stevens, et al spinning the Top 40 hits every day. I had a transistor radio with an earplug, so I would often fall asleep listening to Dean Anthony doing the overnight show as well.
  But listening to the radio, you have no control over what songs you hear, so I next moved on to buying records. The first 45 rpm single I ever bought was "Up on the Roof" by the Drifters, which probably cost about 49c at the time. I had a small phonograph and played that and the other 45s I bought over and over (and over and over).  Of course, I could only play one at a time -- 45s had a large hole in the center that required a special disk so they would fit on the phonograph. So, every two or three minutes, you had to change records or start the same one over again.
  I don't remember which was the first album I bought -- it might have been The Monkees -- but I could play that on the big hi-fi we had in the living room. Mostly, that was used by my mother, who was a big fan of the crooners (Andy Williams, Tony Bennett, Jack Jones, Johnny Mathis) and Broadway show soundtracks. West Side Story was my favorite of those.
  For one of my early-teens birthdays, I got a larger phonograph that I could put in my room. Now I was able to play multiple records -- you could stack three albums at a time -- and not have to change anything for almost an hour. This, at the time, was heaven: Lots of  the music I loved with no commercials.
  The next step was the stereo I got not long after we were married. I could stack six albums on this turntable (though sometimes the last one got a little warbly as it rode the five disks underneath). But now I was up to almost two hours of non-stop tunes.
  Then came the "sound system" with the five-disk CD player. Yow -- five hours of music at once and I could pause it any time. What more could I possibly need? Well, of course, when you start accumulating CDs, you have to choose which five you want to play. But that lasted only until Laurie got me the 300-disk player... which I managed to pretty much fill up. However, I can put it on "random selection" and go about two weeks without hearing the same piece twice.
  Okay, so I've got my 300 disks. Many of them are the music from the '60s that I grew up with, but there is a mix of '70s and '80s artists as well, along with some Broadway soundtracks. (There's also the soundtrack for The Big Chill. Ask anybody who started buying CDs when they first became popular which ones they bought first and, invariably, The Big Chill is one of them.) The only problem is, the system is upstairs and not movable, so if I want to listen to music, that's where I have to be.
  And then technology came along again. For Christmas this year, the kids got me an I-Pod. It's smaller than a credit card. It goes anywhere. I've loaded somewhere in the neighborhood of 200 albums on it. I can put it on random selection or pick an album and I'm back to where I was fifty years ago, with an earplug in my ear. But now I'm the DJ.