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Newark USA

A fotojournal about LIVING in Newark USA, New Jersey's largest and most cultured city, by the author of the foto-essay website RESURGENCE CITY: Newark USA.

Friday, August 29, 2014

House Music at the 'Orange Sticks' — Tonite?

I got a puzzling email from the list server of the Ironbound Super Neighborhood directly and as forwarded by my friend Gaetano, about a house-music event in Riverfront Park in the Ironbound. (I have an atlas that has an inset map of North Jersey that shows only two localities within Newark, the Ironbound on the east and my neighborhood, Vailsburg, on the west.)

This Friday
September 26th
7-9 pm:
Newark's DJ Omar Abdallah Spins House at
the Orange Sticks

Huh? September 26th will indeed be a Friday, but not THIS Friday. THIS Friday is August 29th, which isn't even close to September 26th. So which is it, this Friday, or September 26th? I sent an email to the Newark Riverfront people for clarification but hadn't heard back by the time I was putting this post together in the middle of Thursday nite into Friday.


Screenprint of the Newark Riverfront Revival's map that shows the Orange Sticks at the left. I was unclear as to where Riverfront Park was, and thought it had to be east of the preexisting RiverBANK Park. Not so. As you can see from this map, RiverFRONT Park overlaps RiverBANK Park, but across a roadway, Raymond Boulevard, and RiverFRONT Park is actually at the Passaic River's southern "bank". The webpage that I lifted this map from has a splendid picture of the "Orange Sticks" at the top.

What, exactly, are the Orange Sticks? Here's a foto taken by my friend Gaetano of this interestingly conceived and built cluster of slender tall cylinders raised brilliantly to create a landmark to guide people as to the location of events. For instance, "at the Orange Sticks" or "about 1,000 feet east of the Orange Sticks". Whoever came up with the idea of the Orange Sticks deserves some kind of special praise from a design institute, such as a "Design Oscar", because it really is an astonishing concept. Rather than rely upon some existing landmark — and there are none, nearby, visible from the riverfront — the creators of this new waterfront park invented a landmark, of great prominence due to its distinctive coloration, orange being unusual in both natural and human objects. "Brilliant" in this context surely applies to both the color of the "sticks" — and what a playful name that is — and the idea of creating an artificial landmark where no natural landmark existed.


Foto courtesy of and copyright by Gaetano Lardieri 2014 (All Rights Reserved).

The foto above may not give you a sense of the size of these "sticks", which are more like tree trunks. This next picture clarifies the size, but only to some degree, in that you can't see the tops of the "sticks" to estimate their height. I sure cannot tell from the pix I have seen, so will have to wait until I actually get to that vicinity to judge for myself. I don't, however, own a laser device with which I might get a clear readout of the height of these playfully-named "Sticks", so would have to approximate. Also playful is the anti-formal, seemingly disorderly way the different "sticks" poke up into the sky. None is quite parallel to any other, and they might look, were they not so large, as tho one or more was about to fall down.


Foto courtesy of and copyright by Gaetano Lardieri 2014 (All Rights Reserved).

Tho I'd like to see the crowd at this event, whenever it is to be held, I'm not a fan of music generally, so will not venture some 5 miles one-way and risk not being able to find a free place to park until the Newark Riverfront Revival answers my email as to when exactly this event is to be held.
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Gaetano has sent me many fotos from the East Ward, an area I rarely get to. Now, if I could get other people to offer quality pix I could use here of other parts of the city that I rarely get to, such as the South Ward/Weequahic neighborhood and Forest Hill, I'd do a better job of covering areas outside the parts of the city that I am in regularly (from Vailsburg, where I live, to Downtown, and what lies between).

Thursday, August 28, 2014

Newark Mention in Letterman Top 10 List

On the Late Show with David Letterman program for Monday, July 28, 2014, the Top 10 list concerned "Things Said by Costumed Characters in Times Square". It included this item:
4. Can anyone give [The] Hulk a lift to Newark?

That I am only now, August 28th, getting to this a month to the day late, should give you a sense of how backed-up I am with this blog. I am, however, a great believer in the maxim, "Better late than never." Of necessity.

Wednesday, August 27, 2014

Wrong Time

I showed here, on August 9th, a freestanding clock at Military Park, Downtown, whose eastern face had no hands. Today's foto shows the western face, which has both of its expected hands — but displays the wrong time.


The clock, as shown in this picture, indicates that the time is 7:47 — a.m. or p.m. makes no difference with a 12-hour, analog clock, because the sky could be brite blue in either the morning or the evening. As it happens, in that I am rarely out and about early in the morning, the clock should have been showing the time for late afternoon or evening. The time when I actually took the foto was 5:26 p.m., August 17th, 2014.
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Now, someone please explain to me why a newly renovated Military Park should have a clock one side of which has no hands whatsoever and the other side of which shows the wrong time. Am I being too demanding in saying that a CLOCK should show the right time?

Tuesday, August 26, 2014

For-r-r-man-n-n Mil-lls!

I have lost an enormous amount of weight in the past two years, on the order of 60 pounds (it is my observation that old people tend to get fat or thin, and the thin ones live longer; but I don't know that that has been verified by science). The elastic in my underwear has ceased to contráct properly since I stopped drying things in my dryer. The dryer stopped working when I had to hose down the basement to get rid of a mess created by a sewer backup. My washer eventually recovered, after drying out, but, last I checked, the dryer still shorted out whenever I tried to turn it on. Rid-X brilliantly cleared the basic problem of a backup from the City sewer line. Its effectiveness was almost magical, so I have no hesitation in recommending it for its intended use.


Loose underwear can, for men, be very uncomfortable. I realized that the few exemplars of boxer briefs that I owned have remained comfortable, so put on my shopping list, boxer briefs (well, actually, in that I make all personal notes in my Fanetik spelling system, "bokser breefs"). Then I heard a TV commercial for the store Forman Mills (with the extended shout I tried to convey in the heading to this post) about astonishingly low prices for various types of clothing, so decided to check out their East Orange store, which is just across the street from the parking lot of the East Orange ShopRite, which I patronize regularly. So, after the South Orange Public Library closed on Sunday, August 3rd, I drove to that Forman Mills outlet.
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It is a larger store than I thought, and I was very pleasantly surprised by how large the Men's area was. The store reminded me of the (late, dearly lamented) Valley Fair in Irvington. A retrospective about the Valley Fair appears online, which includes mention that the building was originally a tank factory! Is Valley Fair being revived? I see a website that suggests it is, but I am not persuaded that this project has moved beyond the proposal stage.
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Ordinarily, you might expect the Women's section of just about any retail store to be much larger than the Men's section, but that seems not to be the case at Forman Mills East Orange. I wanted to buy some informal pants too, since my waist has diminished from 38" or even, at my heaviest, 40", to perhaps 35", but there were so many choices that I just wasn't up to the task. Besides, I wanted Dockers-style pants ("khakis"), which at Forman Mills did not strike me as extraordinarily cheap, but something like $16.99 or $18.99. I decided that I should first do Internet research as to prices at Walmart, Kmart, and Target.


Many of the garments on offer at Forman Mills struck me as grotesque, like rejects from major retailers that the manufacturers had hoped that people (of bad taste) might accept, even if not be enthusiastic about. If I had been in a better mood, and not fatigued (an all-too-common condition for me of late, in that I am sleeping poorly; I recently heard a science report that suggested that some center of the brain responsible for sleep reduces in size and/or influence over time, so lots of old people have trouble sleeping long enuf to be refreshed enuf for their desired activities), I might have had the patience to look for something acceptable, as in the Cargo Pants section. But I was tired and impatient. Some dress pants were offered for as little as $9.99, but there were inconsistencies as to where size labels were located, and how prominently they were displayed, at what size font. My eyes are not what they used to be, so having to struggle with small type in different locations on different styles of clothing labels can be wearing. (No pun intended.)
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The store is so large that I did not, despite some 10 minutes of walking around, see what I was looking for. So when I encountered a woman employee tidying up the racks, I asked her where men's underwear was. She directed me to the back of the store, by the heading "Hosiery". Why "Hosiery"? Why not "Men's Underwear? Ah, well. That is where I found what I was looking for, a package of 6 pairs of Fruit of the Loom (my usual brand) boxer briefs at the special price of $9.99 (2 pairs of "Easy Care" boxer briefs being included in the package; I don't know what the difference between "Easy Care" and regular boxer briefs is, and had no patience to take out my reading glasses and look for brite lite, to find out; but I was happy with the price in any case). Happily, there is no sales tax on clothing. So I got my boxer briefs, cheap, $1.66 each.
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I am reminded of a silly little incident when I was young and bowling on the ABC Television bowling league in NYC (in that I was working as a clerk-messenger for the ABC News documentary unit that created a Peabody Award-winning series about American history). I met a very nice guy, Allyn Ferguson, and his equally nice girlfriend (whose name I do not recall, despite her prominence in this story). He introduced her as being 'in men's underwear' — which turned out to mean that she worked for (as I recall) the BVD corporation, in the Empire State Building.
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BVD was a major, quality brand of (men's) underwear. Tho I haven't seen that brand in a long time, Wikipedia says it still exists. I didn't see any BVD underwear at Forman Mills, however.


The name Allyn Ferguson now appears in the credits for music for the classic, 1980s sitcom Barney Miller. I rather doubt there would be two men associated with ABC Television with the last name "Ferguson" and peculiarly spelled first name "Allyn", so I guess that's the guy. Barney Miller — which mentioned Newark more than once during its run — was set in Manhattan, but was made in L.A. Allyn Ferguson is mentioned in the credits for music, but I guess you don't have to be in L.A. to write music for a show produced there. Even if he moved to California to work on Barney Miller, I don't know if his girlfriend "in men's underwear" moved West with him, as wife or live-in girlfriend. But I wish them both well. Their little "men's underwear" reference tickled me at the time, and ever thereafter.
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I rather doubt he would remember me, tho there is the unfortunate possibility that he does, in that the league had a Christmas party in the bowling alley, and New York State's drinking age was 18, whereas that of New Jersey, from which I was commuting at the time, was 21, so I could drink legally in Manhattan, tho I had not drunk before then. I'm that kind of guy. In any case, I tried "7 and 7" a mix of (then) Canadian whisky and 7Up.
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The trouble with mixed drinks, of course, is the proportions. The first sip I took, the whisky seemed too strong, so I added 7Up. Then the whisky wasn't strong enuf, so I added whisky. Back and forth this went as I tried to adjust the proportions, from total innocence of what the drink should taste like and what the consequences might be. I threw up on the bowling alley. But Allyn Ferguson may not have seen that, because management was quick with a mop to clean the mess away. For years after, I would stick with beer, whose proportions I did not try to alter.

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Forman Mills was open only till 7pm on Sunday, when I went, but is ordinarily open until 9pm. I cannot generally get there if I stay to closing time at the South Orange Public Library (9pm three nites a week), but I often go to the East Orange ShopRite after the library, so might leave an hour early on a day when I can deal with all the choices and the lack of complete clarity as to what size is where on the racks. Now that I have in-home Internet, and am inclined to use library wifi only to handle heavy bandwidth activities such as uploading many fotos, I can ordinarily get to Forman Mills, and other places, earlier than 9pm.
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I can always go back to the SOPL parking lot afterward, when the sky is dark, as does not cause problems of reflections in my laptop's monitor, so I can work via wifi on my computer from a picnic table outside the library or the passenger seat of my car until my computer's battery runs down. Even then, I can plug the computer into the car's electrical system and work another hour or so. Then, when the adapter warns that the car's battery is low, I can disconnect the computer from the car and work a while longer on the charge that the computer's battery built up while plugged into the car's battery. Even after that, when the computer's battery drains again, I can turn the car's engine on to power the computer. With these various strategies, I can work for HOURS after the library closes, albeit uncomfortably, from the passenger seat of my car — if I have to, which I hope, with my NetZero service in-home, I won't have to, save for isolated occasions. I can similarly work via wifi from just outside the Vailsburg Branch of the Newark Public Library. So, if I can face all the myriad choices as to men's pants at Forman Mills, I can indeed force myself to get there an hour or more before the store closes.
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There are advantages for people of low income to living in a low-income area. I was not the only white person in Forman Mills at the time. It's good to feel camaraderie with people of similar circumstances but different racial origins. I imagine that poor blacks who see me out and about in predominantly black neighborhoods and stores know that I am one of them, not one of "THEM".

Monday, August 25, 2014

Planter, Planted

On December 15, 2014, I showed a picture of a very large, rectangular planter that had been placed on the sidewalk alongside South Orange Avenue in my part of town, Vailsburg, that slobs had filled with trash. Today, I am pleased to show that the City(?) has placed a tree in that planter. There were also, as you can see in this first foto, some low plants around it. I did not initially take close fotos of the tree's leaves to see if I could identify the kind of tree it is. Since that planter is only about 3/4 of a mile from my house, between a Family Dollar store I sometimes shop at and the Chinese takeout I usually order from, I had many opportunities to see what kind of plants the tree and the low greenery around it are. (The low plants turned out to be crabgrass and other weeds.)


Alas, some slobs still use this planter as a trash can. Oddly, someone from South Orange stuck a sign about his or her garage sale in that planter in Newark. I'd like to see the litterers apprehended, arrested, then sentenced to ten hours' cleanup duty all around the city, in orange jumpsuits, for a first offense; 100 hours for a second offense, and 1,000 hours for a third offense — tho it seems unlikely that anyone would risk a third offense. Newark is not as badly marred by litter as Manhattan, but Manhattan has a great many more slobbish pedestrians treading its streets and parks than has Newark. Being a very clean city is an aspiration that Newarkers should be able to achieve easily. All it requires is the will to look for proper trash receptacles and for everyone, but esp. children and teens, to exert strong peer pressure to break the mindset of slobs, that the world exists to clean up after them.


The foto immediately above was taken six days after the first foto today, from the opposite side (west). The garage-sale sign has been removed, but a "moving sale" sign was taped to the planter. I didn't think to walk closer and take a foto to show that clearly, so this foto zoomed-in within my graffics program is very fuzzy.


I did think to zoom in on the leaves and bark of the tree, but was unable to identify it from my own knowledge. Here is a fairly close view of the leaves.


And here's a closeup of the bark. Does any of you know what kind of tree it is?


I assume that whoever planted this tree expects it not to grow too large for the planter. A number of NJ municipalities have, in prior decades, planted trees curbside without thinking about how large they get. Oaks, maples, sycamores, and the like then ended up lifting concrete panels (or, in some neighborhoods, slate), as produced a risk for pedestrians of tripping or, in wet, snowy, and/or icy conditions, slip-and-falling. Some municipalities have, I saw on the incredibly noisy My9 show Chasing New Jersey, taken to forcing homeowners to level lifted panels of sidewalk or face steep fines! That is completely unfair, and must be fought to the defeat of the sh*heads who are punishing homeowners for the fully foreseeable consequences of the town's having planted big trees on small curb strips.

Sunday, August 24, 2014

Word Power Foundation Ministry

This is the first "Church Sunday" feature I have run in many months because I have already covered most of the churches I pass by in the ordinary course of my travels in Newark. But when, on June 12th, I emerged from the ArtReach XXII art show at City Without Walls gallery a hundred feet or so away, I spotted this little pink church with some kind of damage covered by plywood, and took a couple of pictures.


I found its website for anyone who wants to check it out. The sign in the foto below gives much of the basic information, except that the fone number on the sign does not accord with the three shown on the website.


I don't know how serious the damage is that is covered over by plywood, nor what resources the church has with which to make repairs. The website is either evasive or careless about mentioning, in its "History" page, what country Reverend Asare came from. I might speculate, in that the church speaks to missionary work in Ghana, that Ghana is that country, but that is only speculation. Some major churches have experienced a surge of piety on the part of Africans that has shaken up and energized those churches in the West, a region sometimes spoken of as "post-Christian".

Saturday, August 23, 2014

In-Home Internet Again — for Now

I have backfilled a post about my new Lifeline cellfone, for July 27th. I also almost lost the first draft of this post, thru the inattention I discussed on August 9th. I was working on my computer in a directory that had nothing to do with this blog, when I started to write this post, and Saved it in order not to lose the text theretofore drafted. Alas, I did not, as I sort-of promised myself I would, make careful note of the directory I was in when I Saved. Then I cleared the screen to give the post a better name (in that you cannot rename a file that is currently in use; you could, of course, dupe the text into a new file with a new name, but that is untidy, and would require me to neaten up the directory by deleting the old file, and any backup file associated with it), when I realized I hadn't stored to the right directory! Fortunately, WordPerfect 11 keeps a record of the last 9 files you worked in, so I was able to recover the start of this post. It was only a few dozen words at that point, but every writer is convinced that any loss of a draft destroys priceless text.

After months without Internet access from home (I don't know how many months, because if I made note of it somewhere, I have lost track of that note), I was able, at 9:30 last nite, to restore in-home access to email, blogging, and everything else, thru NetZero's "mobile hotspot" device. I ordered it by fone from my car when parked outside the South Orange Public Library after-hours on Tuesday, because I couldn't get everything done that I needed to do before the library closed, and the NetZero website was absolutely worthless in helping me figure out what plan I should sign up for. I needed to speak with someone by telefone, and fone calls from within the library are frowned upon, properly. In any case, I made the appropriate arrangements, which included buying a "mobile hotspot" device. It arrived via the U.S. Postal Service on Friday afternoon.
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The woman I spoke with was Filipina, speaking from the Philippines. I know that because I recognized the accent (attenuated tho it was in her case) because I have had two Filipina sisters-in-law. A few minutes after I established that she was FROM the Philippines, I asked if she was SPEAKING from the Philippines. She was, from a town that sounded like "Turlock", south of Manila on the island of Luzon.
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I actually intended to order the "stick", which plugs into a USB port, but they sent the "HotSpot", which can merely be in the vicinity. I don't know how far it can be from your laptop or tablet, but it is now, as I write, about 8 feet away, and not connected by a wire. It's actually better for me, if I can make the tablet computer I bought recently, work, because I could then have both my laptop and the tablet operate simultaneously from one device. I also don't know if the "Stick" would fit into the tiny USB port on the tablet, but that's not necessary with the HotSpot device.
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Between Tuesday nite and Saturday after midnite, the prices apparently changed, lower, so when I thought "the Stick" was $50 and the "HotSpot" was more, NetZero dropped the price of the stick to $25, and the "HotSpot" to $50! Jeez. I'm not going to complain, for now, in that the "HotSpot" was presumably the better device, by virtue of being offered at a higher price. Is that too trusting?


I had been concerned about moving around with the "Stick" plugged into a USB port, in that I didn't know how far out the "Stick" would 'stick', and thus whether it would be knocked out or, worse, broken off, if I carelessly put my laptop into its briefcase without taking "the Stick" out. As it happens, the "HotSpot" is a rounded square about 2½ inches across. I could put it into a pocket and it would still work from at least several feet away
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You can, in this next foto, see the device compared to a metal tape measure (which, I now see, I could have aligned better with the left side of the HotSpot; but you 'get the picture'). It's cute — darned near adorable.


I started to use it right out of the box, after reading the very-brief instructions, which were printed in an insane white-type-on-black-background mini-brochure of 4 pages plus cover. Those minimalist instructions did not say I should charge the device for a specific minimum time before using it, and it worked for 2½ hours before conking out. I then plugged it into house current, and left it plugged in while I worked. I had a humongous number of non-urgent emails to review. I didn't see any caution in the minimalist instructions against leaving the HotSpot plugged into household current, so imagine it will only benefit from that source of energy.
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I immediately began to try to catch up with all the emails I left till later, corrections I had to make to various of my Newark blogposts, and other deferred tasks. That started at 9:30pm. At 4:30am, 7 hours later, I accepted that I was not going to catch up in a single day for months without in-home Internet access. I keep pretty good records of what I do with my time, and assuredly did record, on the relevant day's Time Track, when I permitted my Internet access to end. But I did not think to record elsewhere when I lost Internet access as against when I got it restored. It was assuredly many months. I am not going to hunt thru my records to establish how long I went without Internet access from home. I'll just be glad that I have it back. For now.
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"Many", of course, is a vague term. When I was growing up, "a couple" meant, strictly speaking, two, and less strictly, anywhere from two to four. "Several" meant more than two or three, but not 'many'. And "many" meant more than "several", but none of those terms has ever been precise.
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I say I have in-home Internet "For now" because my new carrier bills by bandwidth. My old Internet service, Cablevision, did not bill by usage but was flat-rate, a much happier arrangement. I have no idea how much bandwidth my ordinary online activities require, and NetZero does not, I found out last nite, report how much you have used as against how much remains in your current billing period. The consumer has to trust NetZero's records. That is not good.
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If I exceed the bandwidth of my signup plan, any of three things will happen. First, my Internet access will just stop working. Second, I will be notified that I am about to exceed my plan's limit, and I will be charged a given fee (on the order of $20) for the next allotment of megabytes. Or third, I will be offered the opportunity to sign up for a different plan, at a higher level of allotted megabytes. I dislike that intensely, and want a flat-rate arrangement. But now I can search for flat-rate Internet service from the convenience of home.
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To conserve NetZero bandwidth, I plan to continue to use library wifi when I need, for instance, to upload a large number of fotos to Picasa Online. Unfortunately, there is no NetZero meter that I know of that would show me how much bandwidth I need for each of my major tasks, how much I have used thus far in the month, and how much remains in this billing period. Maybe there is some place online where I could get this information, but the printed materials that I was told would arrive soon have not yet reached me. The HotSpot device was sent out by Priority Mail. Maybe the user-manual kind of info will arrive early next week. I hope so. Nowadays what we need to do may require us to read thru extensive documentation that many of us do not have patience for, so we skip it and try to figure things out for ourselves. That's really not advisable, and we may miss key features if we just punch buttons and try to remember what it is we did to produce the result we wanted.
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My younger/less-old sister Trina learned some years ago that at least most cable/Internet companies have lower rates for people of low income, such as senior citizens on (inadequate) Social Security, but they don't advertise that. You have to contact them (probably by fone) and affirmatively inquire. Now I have some time, before my limited NetZero allotment for this month runs out, to do that.
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We of the Internet era are very, very "spoiled". We have all the answers to almost all the questions we might pose, right at our (typing) fingertips. No longer do we have to own an almanac or atlas or encyclopedia. No longer do we have to take the trouble actually to leaf thru any of those printed references to find the answer to a question that occurs to us. No, all we have to do is go online and set out a search phrase in a major search engine, be it Google (almost everybody's first choice), Bing, Ask.com, AOL, Yahoo, or whatever, and we get the answer. What is the name of the muscle hunk from 2½ Men and The Big Bang Theory? Brian Patrick Wade. Is the actor Somebody Bateman who appeared regularly on the 1960s sitcom Hazel the father of Jason and Justine Bateman? No. That was Charles Bateman. Kent Bateman is the father of Jason and Justine. Where is Robbinsville, New Jersey? Mercer County, not far from Trenton. Where is Lambertville, NJ (the location of a frequent appraiser on Antiques Roadshow)? Lambertville is a tiny town in Hunterdon County, on the Delaware River. How far, in miles and flying time, is it between Newark, NJ and Beijing, Communist China? 6,840 miles; 14 hours and 11 minutes. Who was called "the Sun King"? Louis XIV of France. What is toxoplasmosis, and can people catch it? It is a serious illness caused by a protozoan (microbe), and yes, in the U.S., almost 11% of people have been exposed to it. Kittens are often killed before birth by it, and I think many kittens born with it die from it a month or two after birth.
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We are the first group of people in the history of the world who can get almost any question we can think to ask, answered definitively by people who have studied the matter. No, you may not find the answer to absolutely everything you can think to ask, but that might be because you don't ask exactly the right question in exactly the right words for exactly the right search engine into which you type your inquiry.
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In any case, I can now, at any hour of the day or nite, whether a library is open or not, work on my many projects on the Internet and get answers to my many questions. Were this the first time I could do this, I might think, "Yippie!", "Whoopie!", or the like. In that this is only the restoration of a service that was available to me for about 20 years before I decided that Cablevision's demand for $55 a month, up $5 for no additional value, was abusive, I merely feel, "Thank goodness."
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There are hazards to being self-sufficient. A person who has access to all the world from his house might never venture out from that house. There are places where you can order groceries from a nearby supermarket and have them delivered to your door. I am forced to wonder, how many socially dysfunctional loons is today's technology creating?
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I hope to catch up with many posts to this blog that I drafted but did not finalize, and may try to upload at least a "Foto of the Day" entry for every day going forward. But such ambitions run up against the fact that I will be 70 years old later this year, and have other matters to tend to in life than just this blog, and only limited energy with which to do so. Fortunately, finding time is not the problem it once was, in that I have been fully retired for years. All I have to do is sleep long and well enuf to have energy enuf for all my projects.