Wednesday, October 31, 2012



I am guessing that there will not be too many revivals of “Grease” on the East Coast for a while. That is unless they rename the female lead to something other than “Sandy.”

Delicious irony here: “Sandy, can't you see I'm in misery? You made a start, now we're apart /There's nothing left for me.”

So true for many Americans. And those who are not normally flooded, are finding out that their homeowners insurance does not cover flood damage.

Yes, that’s right folks. Homeowners insurance does not cover flooding. Don’t yell at me; yell at your congresscritter and those oh-so-reassuring and funny insurance ads. Anyone laughing now?

This is something the Gulf Coast has known for a while, but I know it’s going to come as a surprise to many affected by Sandy.

I know, more misery on top of misery. And I also know that people on the East Coast are going to need help. And people are going to want to help.  

This is as list of organizations stolen shamelessly from of groups that can help. But, the saw is charity begins at home, so while it does not affect Sandy’s victims, we can all make the world somewhat better.

Here’s the list: By Suzanne Choney,
If you want to help those hurt by the storm, you can donate to these organizations; some of them have options to donate via text message, as well as by phone or online:
The Red Cross is providing shelter, clothes, supplies, food and blood, as needed, for the victims of Sandy. You can donate blood, but in terms of items, you'll be doing more for those in need by donating money instead of physical goods.
Text message: Text the word REDCROSS to 90999 to donate $10 to American Red Cross Disaster Relief. As in the case with other donations via mobile, the donation will show up on your wireless bill, or be deducted from your balance if you have a prepaid phone. You need to be 18 or older, or have parental permission, to donate this way. (If you change your mind, text the word STOP to 90999.)
Phone: 800-RED CROSS (1-800-733-2767); for Spanish speakers, 800-257-7575; for TDD,  800-220-4095.
To donate blood: Visit this Red Cross Web page.
Online: American Red Cross
The Salvation Army is providing meals and shelter. "At this point, in-kind donations, such as used clothing and used furniture, are not being accepted for hurricane relief. However, these items are vital to supporting the day-to-day work of your local Salvation Army," the organization said Tuesday in a press release.

Text message: Text the word STORM to 80888 to make a $10 donation. To confirm the donation, respond with the word “Yes.”
Phone: 800-SAL-ARMY (800-725-2769)
Online: Salvation Army; here's the organization's New Jersey site, and its Greater New York site.
Many pet owners were able to take their pets with them, but for those who were not, the Humane Society's Animal Rescue Team is assembling staff and equipment to help rescue pets in the Mid-Atlantic and Northeast.
Phone: 301-258-8276
Online: Humane Society of the United States
The association is helping animals that may need rescue or shelter.
Text message: Text the word HUMANE to 80888 to donate $10.
Phone: 866-242-1877.
Online: The AHA's website for donating is here.
Habitat, an international organization, helps those in need rebuild their homes after disaster strikes.
Phone: As of Tuesday morning, Habitat's online donation system was not available. If you want to make a donation, you can call Habitat's Partner Service Center at 800-HABITAT (422-4828). Press "0" when prompted and representatives will take your donation information over the phone.
Online: This is Habitat for Humanity's main website.
This group coordinates efforts with the state's Office of Emergency Management, as well as with state and local nonprofit organizations.
Phone: (908) 355- FOOD (3663), ext. 243.
Online: Community FoodBank of New Jersey
The organization will deliver food, water and supplies to communities in need through its network of food banks and the agencies they serve.
Phone: 800-910-5524
Online: This is Feeding America's main website.
Catholic Charities provides emergency food, shelter, direct financial assistance, counseling, and support "regardless of religious, social, or economic backgrounds."
Online: More information here; main website here.
Phone: 800-919-9338
This group provides emergency medicine and supplies. Donations are accepted on its accepts donations on its website.
Phone: 800-486-4357.
This local NYC program is "the city's largest volunteer organization, running volunteer programs for 1,300 nonprofits, city agencies and public schools." It is recruiting volunteers to help with Sandy relief efforts, and is also raising money.
Online: New York Cares; donation page here.
Phone: 212-228-5000
You can also approach the city government directly to volunteer, by emailing with your name, email address and borough.
The organization provides medicine and supplies to partner health centers and clinics.
Text message: Text the word RELIEF to 27722 to give $10.
Phone: 805-964-4767.
Online: Direct Relief International is the main website; go here to donate online.
The Mayor's Fund to Advance New York City charity supports "impactful public programs serving some of the City's greatest needs."
Online: The Mayor's Fund website is here.
Describing itself as "a Christian humanitarian organization dedicated to working with children, families" and communities, World Vision provides flood clean-up kits, hygiene kits, blanket and food kits.
Text message: Text the word GIVEUSA to 777444 to donate $10.
Phone: 888-511-6443.
Online: For World Vision's Hurricane Sandy relief, click here.
Provides immediate relief, assistance with cleanup and rebuilding, pastoral counseling and support for children and youth who have been through trauma.
Text message: Text the word RESPONSE to 80888 to give a $10 donation.
Phone: 800-554-8583
Online: United Methodist Committee on Relief
The Jewish Federations of North America Hurricane Relief Fund will contribute to recovery and rebuilding.
Text message: Text the word RELIEF to 51818 to pledge a donation.
Online: The Jewish Federations of North America.

Monday, October 29, 2012

Trust Your Eyes

Trust Your Eyes

Linwood Barclay

Ever wonder what kind of trouble those Internet mapping sites can cause?

You don’t have to wonder. There are websites a-plenty devoted to the things spotted on such sites. Some are R-rated, so parents should be aware. Some are laugh-out-loud funny, but all are pictures that those travelling cameras have caught. You have been warned. Behave.

Linwood Barclay takes advantage of this fairly new trend in “Trust Your Eyes.” A camera for the fictitious “Whirl360” site spots a crime in progress. It’s an image of a woman being strangled in an upstairs New York City apartment.

The image goes “live” on the site and does not attract notice.

That is until Thomas Kilbride, a mentally ill man spots the horrifying shot. His efforts to convince his brother that he HAS seen something has effects for him, his brother and others.

Barclay writes a good thriller. This one has me reading and going to the local library to find other Barclay books.

Beware of plot twists. They are all honest (they are foreshadowed) but I defy you to see them coming!

Watch out for the over-hype


I am of two minds while watching Hurricane Sandy (aka “Frankenstorm”) go up the East Coast.

First, I am concerned for all in the storm’s path. I have gone through storms and blizzards, so I know this is nothing to fool with. Everyone, please stay safe and comply with public safety directives.

However, I live on the Gulf Coast. We have tropical storms and hurricanes in season and nasty weather year-round. Think oil spills, (not just BP’s recent disaster) windstorms, drought, brushfires that cause fatal accidents and hordes of tourists (Just kidding. I like tourists!) We’ve even had earthquakes in the Gulf of Mexico! Google it if you don’t believe me.

And when disaster strikes the Gulf, what is the national news? Where are the pictures of devastation? What concern is there for the economic effect? What does the rest of the country hear?

Yep. The sound of crickets chirping.

I know why. The storm is gumming up the works in Washington, D.C. and New York City, and area with lots of population and more media than you can count.

So, every editor wants the “big story” on his or her front page. That’s traditional paper and electronic media. Every reporter wants the “big story.” So we have a lot of media folks out there looking for the “big story.”

Folks, the “big stories” are smaller than that. And bigger.  The big story is a parent making sure that his or her child is calm and safe. The big story is a man falling off a ladder while trying to board up a window, barely missing the exterior heat pump. The big story is a clerk at your local (LOCAL!!!) store staying at her/his post while the rest of the family gets ready so others can get ready. How about the FAMILIES of all those responders? Safe bet they live nearby, and have to cope while their family member has to help others.

Those will be the stories the editors don’t want.

Wednesday, October 24, 2012

Red and Black

Thank you Dr. Grumpy for this post! He mentioned the Latin genus, Latrodectus, in one of his posts (gotta watch what he calls his patients!)

Latrodectus is the genus of spiders that the black widow spider belongs to. The spider is found, according to the National Geographic website, in the temperate parts of the world (There! Now you can rule out Antarctica as the home of Ms. Donna). While the hour-glass shape in red is common where I am, there are some widows with mottled red-and-black skin.

A few weeks ago, my 79-year-old mother mentioned that there were some “pretty” red-and-black spiders in the yard. I am NOT a spider fan, so I didn’t go to look.

I came close to one while doing a painting project. I had taken a flower stand to a corner of Mom’s fenced back yard to paint and nearly bumped into one of the “pretty” spider’s raggedy webs. I looked and the occupant was complete with red-and-black markings. In the shape of an hourglass.

I was 90 percent sure I knew what Ms. Prettyspider was, but snapped a photo w/ my phone and trundled off to the library to be sure. While I don’t like spiders, I know most are harmless and do good things in the garden. I did not want to kill something benign and useful.

Yep. Black widow. Latrodectus mactans. While most sites say the bite is not deadly and the spider will do almost anything to avoid conflict, my two cats prowl the yard while I am out, my mother’s dog roams the fenced yard, and my mother goes out there. My brother’s kids will be in the yard when they come to visit.

In short, Ms. Prettyspider had to go. And checking the yard, I found five of her sisters had set up shop on the property. I didn’t declare war; they did.

Armed with a rolled-up magazine (the thick, glossy kind) and a can of bug spray, I covered myself head to toe, pant legs in socks, rubber gloves over long sleeves. Four of the six spiders were swatted; the other two fled and got zapped with bug spray. Better living through chemistry, indeed. I sprayed the webs. Five of the webs had egg cases; I didn’t find an egg case at the last web. I hope I didn’t miss something.

If I did, there will be a sequel to the story. And there will be more spiders.

Tuesday, October 23, 2012

One Last Thing Before I Go

One Last Thing Before I Go

Jonathan Tropper

Drew Silver has been at a dead end in his life for the past seven years. He was part of a “one-hit-wonder” band, whose lead singer left his buddies behind after the hit and went on to superstardom. Silver plays for wedding bands now. Silver’s divorced and lives in a depressing apartment complex filled with other men who have lost their families. The only real entertainment is watching coeds another resident invites over to use the pool. Silver and his buddies know that these young goddesses would shoot them down, so it’s all look and no touch. Mostly.

Silver has a daughter, Casey. She’s headed to Princeton, but her first time has left her pregnant. She tells Silver because he’s the person she care least about letting down.

While at the abortion clinic (Silver ponied up the cash to get Casey’s abortion) Silver has a blackout. He wakes up in the hospital, to find the man who his ex-wife is going to marry is his doctor. (Medical professionals, stop carrying on about ethics. This is fiction. I’ll ignore it if you will.) It seems Silver has a condition that requires immediate surgery. If he does not have it, he will die.

Silver declines surgery. He wants to use the time he has left to talk to his daughter, and become a “better man.”

This and what happens next is disheartening and yes, hilarious. Everybody wants to do the right thing, but no one knows how to do it. Secrets are exposed, the ex-wife marries, and Silver’s father, a Rabbi, takes him on life events.

The Silver family is like every family. Scared sometimes, doing the wrong thing more often than not, but wanting desperately to be together.

Five-plus stars for this warm-hearted, funny book. Get this one immediately, and prepare to laugh out loud and hug those closest to you.



Friday, October 19, 2012

Binders, binders, and more binders

Binders full of women

Ok, it’s several days later. All the pundits have had their chance at Mr. Romney’s “binders full of women” comment.

Me, a 50-something woman, two (grown) kids, no job, college-educated and reasonably intelligent still wants to cry. I don’t intend this blog to be political, but this is a comment that just can’t pass. I am part of the generation that had to convince doubting teachers that we could go to college and earn something other than a teaching certificate or nursing license (NOTHING wrong w/ either, but it isn’t what I wanted.) We were knocking down doors in professions and working our way up. So, anything that smacks of “putting women in their place” bothers me.

First, Mr. Romney’s story isn’t completely true. I will use a quote from The Atlantic to demonstrate:
“The Boston Phoenix's David Bernstein says the story isn't true -- that women's groups had been pushing these binders and that they were created by a bipartisan coalition of women's advocates:
What actually happened was that in 2002 -- prior to the election, not even knowing yet whether it would be a Republican or Democratic administration -- a bipartisan group of women in Massachusetts formed MassGAP to address the problem of few women in senior leadership positions in state government. There were more than 40 organizations involved with the Massachusetts Women's Political Caucus (also bipartisan) as the lead sponsor.
They did the research and put together the binder full of women qualified for all the different cabinet positions, agency heads, and authorities and commissions. They presented this binder to Governor Romney when he was elected. …”

I was living in New England at the time, and dimly (very dimly) recall some group presenting Mr. Romney’s transition team with lists of qualified women for high state jobs.

OK, Mr. Romney was mistaken. Or misremembered the facts. Or was not told the facts. Well, if Mr. Obama can get something wrong, I guess Mr. Romney can, too.

I just wish that politics was about ideas instead of “gotcha.” I also wish that the fight to get 50.8 per cent of the U.S. population ( was over.

But it is not.

Tuesday, October 9, 2012

Private: #1 Suspect

Private: #1 Suspect

James Patterson and Maxine Paetro

Ok, the Alex Cross novels are one of my guilty pleasures. So, it was with high hopes that I picked p “Private: #1 Suspect” from my library’s shelves. 

It did not take long for my hopes to be laid low. Wooden characters with more strings than Pinocchio and a contrived plotline, with obvious product placements made this a slog, not a piece of forbidden chocolate.  

Jack Morgan heads a world-wide investigations firm called “Private.” Morgan is a Marine injured in Afghanistan.  His father, just before his death under unusual circumstances, handed him the keys to Private, which Morgan has built up into a world-wide agency. 

Morgan has an identical twin brother who was expelled from the family empire, and has started a firm of his own. This situation has promise.

However, Jack Morgan comes home from a business trip to find a former lover dead in his bed. All evidence points to Jack, who quickly points out that all DNA evidence would be the same for him as his brother. Trouble is, brother has an alibi. He was with his loving wife.

Besides his now dead lover, Jack has an off-again-on-again relationship with an employee and is getting cozy with a client who has had a rash of killings in her oh-so-exclusive Los Angeles hotels.
Add a Mob hit on another Mob’s shipment of Oxycontin, and a young actor accused of murder, and Jack is a busy boy.

Lots of plots. It would have been nice if they had twisted together somehow, but that did not happen. Suffice it to say that Patterson looks to be launching a new series. 

But it has nowhere near the heart of his other books.