Sunday, January 27, 2019


All the hype we hear about the Super Bowl might lead some to think everyone in the U.S. is obsessed with going to the game in Atlanta, Georgia this year or viewing the TV coverage.   The reality is that statistics indicate more people watch the game than any other program – but that’s only approximately one-third plus of our population.   Of that number viewers may only watch part of the game as VOX reported in their analysis a few years ago of rating company Nielsen’s methods: 

“A ratings point — calculated to the 10th decimal place — is a percentage of the number of American households that own at least one television and were tuned to a particular program at a particular time.
It represents 1 percent of the ... American homes that own a television set....   From there, Nielsen estimates viewership based on its demographic samples, which account for age, race, family size, and other things.
One of Nielsen's "homes" could be a family of five, all watching the big game, or it could be a single person, or it could be a big Super Bowl party. The company can't ever know with 100 percent certainty how many people are watching the game in any of these homes (that single person might invite a friend over!), but it has a pretty good guess.”
Predictions by many sports analysts are that this year’s game will attract an increased number of viewers.   I don’t usually watch the game but did see some of the earlier NFL conference championship game that has become controversial, intriguing me. 

I guess this isn’t the first time a team ended up being “the winner!” when possibly their opponent might have been had it not been for a game official’s call or failure to call an offense.  That is what happened in the NFL conference game between the Los Angeles Rams and New Orleans Saints national football teams.

The New England Patriot’s aren’t without some controversies of their own.  One of the most recent has involved some manipulation of the football in the 2015 AFL conference game.  Interestingly, this year a ten-year-old boy won a science fair contest with a project designed to “prove” the team’s quarterback to be a “cheater”, possibly having been given an advantage.  You can view his project at Global News.

Feelings run strong with many avid fans of the teams who were defeated in those Conference playoff games by each of these two teams competing in this year’s Super Bowl.    I’ve thought the Patriot’s quarterback at age 41 defying typical age limitations to continue playing, is to be lauded, though the infamous “deflategate” scandal has colored the views of many football fans.

If I view the Super Bowl to be played this coming Sunday, February 3rd, the Los Angeles Rams will be my favored team – coincidentally the same name and team colors as my high school’s team.    The offending violation that officials didn’t call was finally acknowledged, a fine imposed, but no game replay granted as some wanted.  

I have had and continue to have reservations about this sport (also boxing, soccer, other sports) with athletes willing to risk damaging their brains in order to play and fans continuing to view.  

Brain-Injury-Research continues to determine any relationship, cause and effect between CTE and sports-related effects.  

Chronic traumatic encephalopathy (CTE) is a brain condition associated with repeated blows to the head. It is also associated with the development of dementia. Potential signs of CTE are problems with thinking and memory, personality changes, and behavioral changes including aggression and depression.”

We can reflect on some of the centuries earlier colosseum sports we’ve learned about as being violent, or even  considered barbaric that have declined from sport.    Physical damage to the human body was the most obvious aspect in sport then.  Life span was generally shorter than now.

Now that we’re acquiring more knowledge about the much less visible brain and neurological functions, plus having extended life expectancy, perhaps we’ll reconsider our favored sporting events for participation and/or viewing.   We might want to exercise some caution to retain our mental faculties as best we can.  Our brains sometimes outlive our braun.

I wonder if  how the current popular sports are played will, or should change in the future?  Will they diminish in popularity?   What sports might ascend to capture attention?   Will new sports gain prominence? 

Sunday, January 20, 2019


A few matters occupying some of my time and attention ......

RAIN – we got lots of soaking-the-ground rain with four successive storms over almost a week to combat the drought where I live – Hooray!  No one in our neck-of-the-woods was subjected to flooding, mud or rock slides, but we usually aren’t -- unlike other areas of Southern California in the Hollywood hills, coastal Malibu area near scenic Pacific Coast Hwy, or wild-fire damaged areas. 

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LOCAL CHANGES -- possible in future for other cities  ......

Our city has entered into a program with our electric power company that is providing options transitioning residents power source to clean energy.   Our local newspaper, The Claremont Courier, has offered a two minute plus video link HERE succinctly explaining our choices and what appears to be nominal cost differences.  I will be making a selection.

I wonder if any of you have encountered similar clean energy programs being offered by your community electric power companies?  If not, be aware this may be the future in more communities across the U.S. – or in the rest of the world, too(?).    Your comments and observations about such programs are welcome.

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LIVING COSTS -- going up .....

After all these years, in the past two we've started receiving notices from utilities, also the city regarding sewer lines, gas lines, disclaiming any responsibility for the integrity of that portion of pipes/lines beginning at our property line to our house should they develop leaks, breakage.  We’re then informed of Insurance for these lines we can purchase and have the cost automatically added to our monthly bill – five dollars more here, and five more dollars there as this contributes to increasing the  cost of living.   We’d already had an increase in general sewage and other fees.

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Our city is also changing our City Council composition from electing five city-wide Council members to establishing five defined districts with a representative from each.  Seems there is a purported risk legal action could be taken by others (though presently none immediately threatened) that would cost the city considerable money in attorney fees even if we didn’t need to change.    

One of the issues will be to guard against gerrymandering.   We do have some ethnic /minority groups making up the majority of residents in various parts of our cities.  For example, the report noted a predominance of Mexicans in one area and Asians in another area.   I wonder if this redistricting will bring to the forefront more meaningful representation or accentuate, even invite, more dissension based on what can be politically dividing factors?

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I received a letter from my elementary age grandson this week.  We began exchanging occasional letters when he was younger.   His first letters were pictures he drew, then he progressed to printing words, later sentences.   I’m told that he really enjoys receiving letters.  I continue to use block print alphabet letters though he’s of an age now when schools used to teach cursive hand writing.    Then, I recalled, they don’t teach cursive in most schools any more.   That’s a change to which I have not yet completely adapted in my mind. 

We can tell a lot about a person by their handwriting that I don’t think hand printed block letters reveal.  This has been one area of assessment in my professional work which reveals vital fine motor, language, cognitive and other functional skills. 

On a personal level a family member or friend’s handwriting gave even a lay person some indication of a loved one’s physical health and mental status in ways that won’t be as readily revealed with other writing.  But I guess that’s what happens with most change – we lose some features that are useful and hope those losses are offset by more but different benefits than those lost. 

I suddenly found myself thinking – my grandson will have no signature – or at least the traditional signature as I think of it.   Of course, I know credit card companies no longer require signatures on charges.   But a person having no signature – that seems really strange to me as I think of a signature as highly unique and personal that everyone would prize as part of their identity.  

He could develop his signature at any age though, if he wanted one.   Also, there are free web sites that aid in creating a signature in any desired font to use on the Internet with keyboarding which I suppose someone could even practice developing to write in cursive if they desired.   But where would he use a signature?   We no longer are required to sign items – checks are becoming obsolete for financial transactions.

Seems really strange to me that eventually, actually soon, even now, many people will no longer be able to read cursive writing.    I recently heard an anecdotal news tale of a grandmother writing her teenage granddaughter an actual paper and pen letter, but the girl couldn’t read it – thought it was a foreign language.  

Meanwhile, I’m going to continue periodically writing letters to my grandson -- hand printing in block letters as I don’t want to run them on Word and off the printer.   His parents say he really looks forward to receiving my letters in the mail.   I wonder if they are so rare as to qualify for “Show and Tell” at school as a novelty, or would they just be out-of favor -- considered ancient,  old-fashioned and of no interest?   Will they be valuable antiques some day?  

Sunday, January 13, 2019


We can consider ourselves fortunate to encounter individuals in our life with whom we develop  a special relationship.   Miles may separate us -- time may pass -- but a bond remains.  Highly valued are the rare opportunities to actually spend time with one another, but we augment with occasional contact  via other means.   Always present is the knowledge of that caring person still being present in our life.  And then comes the day when some of that changes. 

First thing one morning this past week, unwelcome news greeted me when I answered the phone.   I was just awakening, so was unprepared to process the information that such a special friend’s daughter phoned to impart.   Telling me how much my friendship had been valued, she ultimately revealed her mother had not awakened one morning after retiring the night before.  

Her mother and I had reminisced on the phone several months earlier.   I’d been thinking of her and planning to call her again in this new year now that the holiday rush was past.  I knew she had a large and very attentive family nearby, so felt her days would have been activity-filled, possibly tiring, or at least as busy as she could tolerate, given her declining health. 

The last time we had actually seen one another was in July of 2006.   I had been in town for a short time where we first met and finally was able to phone her before my departure flight.  She surprised me by coming to the airport where my hour ‘s wait for boarding allowed us special moments together to talk about so much in so little time.  So many years had passed since we last saw one another but she appeared just as vivacious and attractive as I had remembered her.

Since learning of her death, thoughts of her keep entering my mind.  I know she had a full rich life, but her time ran out at 94 years.    

“Ms. Cummins was born Ethel Mae Thompson ... By the time she was 15, she was singing in nightclubs in central Ohio. That’s where the [New Yorker] hotel’s bandleader, Bernie Cummins, on tour with his orchestra The New Yorkers, found her and signed her up. “I wasn’t allowed to date anyone in the band, so I married the bandleader’s brother,” she explained.”  as reported in The Morning News.

When they toured the country, after starting in Akron, Ohio, one frequent performance location was at "Pappy's Showland" located between Dallas and Ft. Worth, Texas.  The orchestra had played all the famous NYC hotels along Park Ave., 5th Ave. for dinner and dancing including The New Yorker. 

This historic New Yorker Hotel had a 75th Anniversary in December 2005 to which Jeanne was invited to participate in the festivities since she had been the house singer with the band.  Those years later, she and her husband, Walter, decided to settle in our Midwest Ohio capitol, Columbus, Ohio, leaving NYC and the touring band routine behind to raise their family.   

Music was evolving into a quite different style from the twenties music, while Jeanne was singing with the band. It wasn't until the late 1950's that I met her as the family was growing and the road tours had long since stopped.   I was young and single, delighted to visit their home for moonlight ice skating on a frozen pond, thanks to her daughter loaning me her skates. A nearby bonfire provided warmth when the winter's chill penetrated our woolen wear.

Here's a video compilation for Jeanne's 90th birthday that includes photos of the TV shows casts including the band.

Jeanne was the popular vocalist on the live audience participation television talk show with which I was associated at WLW-C.   Her appeal to the viewing and studio audience was such that even when the TV show’s host changed, first to actor, Dean Miller (a regular on a popular network sitcom TV series “December Bride”) she continued as a show vocalist.    Then there was  Nick Clooney hosting for a while.  His son, George, was just a budding boy who, I've been told on good authority, was not shy about sharing his intent to be an entertainment star some day.  He may have reached his prophetic goal.

Jeanne’s talents were in demand for the show’s next and fourth reincarnation with a locally popular TV personality as host, Spook Beckman.   This rare video of her impromptu singing (B&W but the show broadcast in color) reveals her vocal skills and sensitivity but quirky sense of humor.    The host spontaneously relating her song's title to a personal event in her life went a bit awry.    She had been the recipient of a small inheritance from a woman who died at age 94, but once she began to sing Jeanne found the lyrics of the song not quite appropriate.  This is a good example of why live TV can be so entertaining, but also risky.

I always delighted in listening to the several decades of standards Jeanne sang, but especially remembered her as epitomizing the theme song and title “Happy Face” of a children’s TV show she created on which I  enjoyed working with her.    “Put On A Happy Face” lyrics from the Broadway show “Bye Bye Birdie” were so characteristic of Jeanne’s good humor and positive outlook on life.

 I wish there was a recording of Jeanne singing this song, but here are Dick VanDyke and Janet Leigh.

“Spread sunshine all over the place” is exactly what Jeanne did with her presence and her song vocalizations. 

You will be missed, Jeanne, but remembered for the pleasure your lovely sensitive lyric  interpretations gave others -- also with love and affection.