Category Archives: new york city

Here’s a rational thought

I don’t want to keep harping on gun control, but I had to laugh when I heard about this proposal coming from a politician, Phillip Lowe, in South Carolina. Ever since they started the Civil War, you can always count on the good folks north or the Savannah River to promote nutty political ideas.

The new supply closet?

The new supply closet?

In response to the Newtown, Connecticut shooting last week, one senator has a solution to school shootings – arm all the teachers, janitors and cafeteria workers. There seem to be two polar opposites about what to do about rampant gun violence. One side wants to eliminate (oops, I mean “restrict”) all firearms. The other side wants to just give everyone a gun. I guess the thought is that if someone came into a school and started shooting, all those kindergarten teachers and librarians would pull out their Glocks and blow him away.

I have two thoughts on that. The first is that the idea of a bunch of arming a bunch of amateurs with deadly weapons and encouraging them to use them in a building full of children, is a real scary thought. It’s not as easy as it looks on television or in a video game. Supposedly trained professionals mess it up all the time. Just last August, a handful of NYPD cops took on a bad guy and they got their man. But they also managed to wound nine innocent bystanders in the process. And these guys were supposed to know what they were doing. Imagine if they were school nurses!

The second, and equally scary thought is this; if you let and encourage guns in schools, how are you going to ensure those weapons away from the children? What happens when some junior psychopath-wannabe knows that Mrs. English Teacher keeps her gun in her desk drawer. After a playground encounter with the bully d’ jour, he decides to show his classmates how crazy he really is. Never happen? And who would have thought a 20-year-old son of a kindergarten teacher would take an AR-15, break into a school, and shoot up a class of six year-olds?  Hmmm.

OCD running wild

I’m a bit of a geek, and, as I’ve already discussed, I am mildly OCD.

I’m not an expert on anything, but I know a little bit about a lot of subjects. Almost all of it is totally useless trivia. I “play” Jeopardy when the show is on almost every evening and usually do pretty well. This trait came in handy as a journalist and still makes me a good partner in Trivial Pursuit. Otherwise it is pretty useless, and sometimes annoying to friends and family. Sorry ‘bout that. 

Some of this trivial knowledge comes from the fact that I have always read a lot, and remember a lot of what I read. Some of it, especially science and art, comes from the outstanding high school I attended (Mt. Lebanon HS in suburban Pittsburgh), and a rather diverse collection of courses at the University of Florida (That’s what you get when you change your major three times.)

As a high school senior, I took a course in “Humanities” from an excellent teacher, Joanne Bailey.  It covered art, architecture and music from ancient through modern times. As a result, I have a superficial knowledge of art and art history. (For the most part, music was a lost cause for me.) I’m no expert by any stretch, but I am just slightly conversant in some of the periods of art history, styles and some of the major figures.

This brings me to an incident a couple of weeks ago. Mrs. Poolman and I were watching the ABC sitcom, “Suburgatory.” 

In this episode, “Tessa” talks her neighbor “Dallas” into taking her into New York City for an afternoon. In one scene, the two are standing before a painting in an art museum and arguing whether it would be for sale. Dallas wanted to buy it, but Tessa said, “It’s not for sale.”

I looked at Mrs. Poolman and said, “I doubt it would be for sale. That’s a Degas.” I don’t recall ever seeing that particular painting before, and everything I knew about Edgar Degas could be written on the back of my fingernail.  For some reason, I was able to ID the artist, or so I thought anyway. However, quickly I had self-doubt and felt the compulsion to see if my impulse ID  was correct.  (That’s the OCD part.)

I did what anyone else in the 21st century would do; I Googled “Degas” and “Metropolitan Museum of Art” to try to locate the painting. I searched high and low and could not find the painting in question, certainly not at the Met. Finally, I expanded my search and eventually located the painting. Here it is.

Dance Foyer at the Opera -- Edgar Degas

I couldn’t find it at the Met, simply because it isn’t there. It’s permanently housed at the Musee d’Orsay in Paris, and to the best my search could find, has never visited the Met.

Then I realized, “Stupid me!,” the producers didn’t go to a museum to shoot the scene with the painting. The show is probably shot in Los Angeles anyway. They simply got a poster of a painting and used it in a studio shot.

The bottom line is –the poster in the TV show probably is for sale, for about $19.99 on line or in a museum gift shop.

I shared this experience with Mrs. Poolman, thinking that maybe she would be interested in the solution to the mystery. She just sighed deeply, and her eyes rolled back into her head. A little cartoon balloon appeared above her head:  “What did I do to deserve this?”

Random thoughts on a Friday

The NFL has announced the 2014 Super Bowl will be played outdoors at the Jets-Giants new Meadowlands Stadium. That’s just crazy. The game is scheduled for February 2nd.  It’s cold in New Jersey at that time of year. Let’s not forget, Super Bowls are not played during the day anymore. They are prime time extravaganzas. That means you can knock about ten degrees off of whatever was the daytime high. It may not mean much for the players, but I can’t imagine a great Super Bowl experience when my bottom is frozen to the seat. Fortunately (or unfortunately, as the case may be), I doubt I will have the opportunity to find out for myself.

I grew up in and around Pittsburgh, but there is a reason I went to college and spent most of my adult life in the South. I’ll battle the sun and heat at The Swamp any day. No frostbite at the football game, please.

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Another female teacher has gotten in hot water for messing around with her students. She was a “Teacher of the Year” no less. This certainly does not bring back memories of my high school experience. Why would someone think that is a good idea?

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Apparently the latest front-runners for the Darwin Awards, aka“How much more stupid can I be?”, involves teenagers pouring vodka into their eyes. Wouldn’t that sting just a little? Besides, it’s a terrible waste of good Grey Goose.

It does give a new twist to the old toast, “Here’s mud (or vodka?) in your eye!”

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Bumper sticker I saw this morning – “My child doesn’t need validation from a bumper sticker.” Ha!

“Start spreading the news…”

It’s been a busy week. This is the first opportunity I’ve to post the story of our trip to New York City last weekend.

Mrs. Poolman and I were both “Big Apple Virgins.” Neither of us had visited NYC. There is a story behind this, so bear with me.

Our hostess on this trip was a good friend who I’ve known since high school. Randi has stayed in touch with us and we have visited back and forth, but never to New York.

Also along was another couple. Marcia and Greg. Marcia and Randi have been best friends since grade school and we were all part of the same group of friends in high school. Marcia and I have stayed loosely in touch since then, mostly on a Christmas card exchange basis.

Several years ago, Marcia’s husband, Greg, an artist and art teacher, was diagnosed with ALS. At this point, he is confined to a motorized wheelchair with limited use of a thumb to control it. They took a southern vacation last spring and spent several days with us. Despite some initial trepidation, we had a great time. Marcia is the same fantastic person she was 35 years ago. Greg is simply a superman. For a guy who has a terribly crippling disease, his attitude is incredible. To talk to him, you would think he had nothing more serious than a sprained ankle. They are absolutely amazing!

We flew up on Thursday and stayed until Sunday evening. Marcia and Greg drove up from Philadelphia on Friday afternoon.

Randi is absolutely the “hostess with the mostest.” She had darn near every waking minute crammed with some activity. Our HQ was her apartment two blocks south of Central Park. We were unabashed tourists and loved it.

We rode the Staten Island Ferry.Staten Island Ferry

NYC Skyline_edited-1We even saw President Obama leave Manhattan after his UN visit.Obama

We went to Grand Central Station.Grand Central

We ate incredible meals. Meal

We visited Central Park.Central Park

We went to Time Square.Times Square

We walked the Brooklyn Bridge.Brooklyn Bridge

We went to a Broadway play.Billy Elliot

We watched the lights come on from the Top of the Rock.City Lights

With just an hour left before we had to leave to the airport, we even squeezed in a street fair.Street Fair

And we walked, and we walked, and we walked, even in the rain. .Walk in the rain

Great time had by all. Thank you Randi, Marcia and Greg for making it a fantastic weekend. We’ll be back!