Tuesday, June 21, 2016

The Ultimate Dog Quiz

1. This is a breed of ancient Hungarian dog that was originally used for guarding livestock: A. Kuvasz.  B. Poodle.  C. Labrador Retriever . D. Cocker Spaniel.  E.  Hot Dog.

2. The most popular breed of dog in the United States is the A. Boxer.  B. Shih Tzu.  C. Labrador Retriever.  D. Beagle.

3. Chihuahuas have been known to live up to  A. 5 years.  B. 6-10 years.  C. 15-20 years.  D. 25-30 years.

4. About how many dogs live in the United States?  A. 10 million.  B. 20-30 million.  C. 50-60 million.  D. 70-80 million.

5. A.  Dogs’ brains are larger than those of cats.  B. Cats have more neurons in their cerebral cortex.  C. Cats are easier to train.  D. Both A. and B. are correct.

6. Evidence indicates that the first kind of animal to become domesticated was the A. Husband.  B. Cow.  C. Pig . D. Dog.

7. Dogs have been domesticated for about  A. 1,000 years.  B. 5,000 years.  C. 10,000 years.  D. 20,000 years.

8.  Who said the following?  “The better I get to know men, the more I find myself loving dogs.”  A. Marilyn Monroe.  B. Charles de Gaulle.  C. Just about every wife.  D. Hillary Clinton.

9. The average adult dog has the mental abilities of  a  A. 2-year-old child.  B.  Husband.  C.  5-year-old child.  D.  Slug.

10. Which one of the following has the lowest I.Q. ?  A. Border Collie.  B. Poodle.  C. Labrador Retriever.  D. Scottish Terrier.

11. Dogs are closely related to A. Pigs.  B. Cats. C. Wolves.  D. Ducks.

12. The original Rin Tin Tin  A. Was a male German Shepherd  B. Was born in 1918.  C. Died in 1932  D. Was rescued from a World War I battlefield by an American soldier  E. All the above.

13. The smartest domesticated animals are A. Dogs.  B. Pigs.  C. Cows.  D. Chickens.

14. The Greyhound  A. Is a vegetarian.  B. Can run up to 45 miles per hour.  C.  Is smarter than a dolphin.  D. None of the above.

15. An adult dog has how many permanent teeth?  A. 28.  B. 32.  C. 38.  D. 42.  E. Most adult dogs wear dentures.

16. Who said the following?  “Outside a dog, a book is a man’s best friend.  Inside a dog it’s too dark to read.”  A. Groucho Marx.  B. Bing Crosby.  C. Donald Trump.  D. Red Skelton.

17. Dogs wag their tails to  A. Convey strong emotions.  B. Keep flies away.  C. Cool their bodies.  D.  Irritate their owners.

18. Which one of the following is NOT one of the five most popular names for male dogs?  A. Bailey.  B. Winston.  C. Max.  D. Charlie.

19. What is the most popular name for a female dog?  A. Bella.  B. Gracie.  C. Coco.  D. Princess.

20. About how many breeds of dogs are there?  A. 15.  B. 220.  C. 339.  D. 550.

Answers: 1. A.   2. C.   3. C.   4. D.   5. D.   6. D.   7. C.   8. B.   9. A.  10. D.  11. C.   12. E.   13. B.   14. B.   15. D.   16. A.   17. A.   18. B.   19. A.   20.   C.

20-19 correct:  You are a dog genius.  18-17: Excellent job!  16-15: You know more about dogs than does the average person.  14-13: You did okay. 

Tuesday, June 7, 2016

Pizza was Forbidden

After World War II ended, American soldiers who had served in Italy brought back recipes for pizza.  As a result, within a few years pizza’s popularity mushroomed (sorry, I couldn’t help using that pun).  Before the war the relatively few pizza parlors in America had been located almost exclusively in the biggest cities.

One day in 1958 or thereabouts, Dad ordered his four kids to put on their best clothing.  Then the six of us piled into the car and headed to the northern part of the state to visit some relatives.  When suppertime rolled around, one of the relatives went to a nearby restaurant and brought back a large box containing something he called “pizza“.  Although I was eight years old, I had never heard of the stuff. 

When he opened the lid of the box we were shocked.  Since then I’ve never encountered  such an awful pizza; it smelled like warmed-over vomit!  Needless to say, the six of us decided to skip supper that day.

Because of that initial bad experience, Dad decided that he would never eat a slice of pizza, and furthermore, since he wasn’t going to eat it, neither were his wife and kids.  Therefore, the “king” officially banned pizza from our household.

A few years later Mom decided to try it, so she began buying boxes of Chef Boyardee pizza mix.  She hid these boxes behind other groceries so that the old man would not find them.  He worked on Saturdays so that was the day of the week when we usually had a clandestine treat. I didn’t have a restaurant-prepared pizza until the junior high years, when, one evening after we had attended a basketball game, a friend took me to a local pizzaria.  Since then I’ve devoured pizzas  from New York to  Los Angeles and many places in between, but the hometown brand is still the best.

When my sister was married, her husband still had one year of school left, so the newlyweds spent part of their time with his family and the other part with Dad and Mom.  One evening, after the old folks had gone to bed, my sister, brother-in-law and I decided to order a pizza, but of course, we realized that the “king” forbade such actions.

Therefore,  sis tiptoed down  the basement steps to use the auxiliary phone. About twenty minutes later my brother-in-law and I sneaked outside to his car, which was parked in front of the house.  So that Dad would not hear us, we pushed the car a block before starting it.  Upon our return trip he turned off the engine so that we could quietly glide back to the parking spot.

Since Mom had a nose like a bloodhound, we were forced to eat the pizza in the backyard by the alley.  Not taking any chances, we stuffed the pizza box into the neighbors’ trashcan.

A few weeks later the urge to eat pizza hit us once again.  Dad and Mom had just left to visit old friends on the other side of town, so for once we believed that the pizza, like most meals, could be eaten at the kitchen table.

However, within a minute of bringing the pizza into the house, the folks returned.  We had just enough time to stuff the box into the living room closet.  It seems that there had been a mix-up, for the old neighbors were not at home.

Within seconds of entering the house Mom the Bloodhound went into action: “Sniff!  Sniff!  Sniff!  I smell something!”

“It’s your imagination, Mom,” my sister quickly responded.

“Sniff!  Sniff!  Sniff!”  I swear there’s a tomato-like smell in this house!”

After more convincing,  Mom finally gave up and joined Dad in bed.  The rest of us went to bed too, but when we began hearing  snoring from the old folks’ bedroom we sneaked back to the living room, grabbed the pizza, and once again went to the alleyway to consume it.

Somehow, after all these years, pizza still tastes best when it’s eaten in secrecy!

Wednesday, May 25, 2016

Points to Ponder

1. “I love to sing, and I love to drink scotch.  Most people would rather hear me drink scotch.”  George Burns.

2. “A few decades ago we had Johnny Cash, Bob Hope, and Steve Jobs.  Now we have no cash, no hope, and no jobs.  Please don’t let Kevin Bacon die.”  Bill Murray.

3. “You have enemies?  Good.  That means you’ve stood up for something, sometime in your life.”  Winston Churchill.

4. “I would challenge you to a battle of wits, but I see you are unarmed.”  William Shakespeare.

5. “Always borrow money from a pessimist.  He won’t expect it back.”  Oscar Wilde.

6. “The New England Journal of Medicine reports that 9 out of 10 doctors agree that 1 out of 10 doctors is an idiot.”  Jay Leno.

7. “I spend a lot of time thinking of the Hereafter.  Each time I enter a room I wonder what I’m here after.”  Tim Conway.

8. “My doctor told me that jogging could add years to my life.  I think he was right.  I feel ten years older already.”  Milton Berle.

9. “It’s useless to hold a person to anything they say when they are in love, drunk, or running for office.”  Shirley McLaine.

10. “Two cannibals were eating a clown.  One said to the other: ’Does he taste funny to you?’”  Tommy Cooper.

11. “Radio is the theater of the mind; television is the theater of the mindless.”  Steve Allen.

12. “The closest a person ever comes to perfection is when he fills out a job application form.”  Stanley Randall.

13. “Give me golf clubs, fresh air and a beautiful partner, and you can keep the clubs and the fresh air.”  Jack Benny.

14. “I never said most of the things I said.”  Yogi Berra.

15. “People who think they know everything are a great annoyance to those of us who do.”  Isaac Asimov.

16. “It is better to keep your mouth closed and let people think you are a fool than to open it and remove all doubt.”  Mark Twain.

17. “I knew a transsexual guy whose only ambition is to eat, drink and be Mary.”  George Carlin.

18. “Happiness is your dentist telling you it won’t hurt and then having him catch his hand in the drill.”  Johnny Carson.

19. “Washington D.C. is twelve square miles bordered by reality.”  President Andrew Johnson.

20. “I once wore a peek-a-boo blouse.  People would peek and then they’d boo.”  Phyllis Diller.

21. “If you could kick the person in the pants responsible for most of your trouble, you wouldn’t sit for a month.”  Theodore Roosevelt.

Thursday, May 12, 2016

The Spaghetti Harvest

On April 1, 1957, the BBC’s popular TV program, Panorama, featured a three-minute report on the spaghetti harvesting season in southern Switzerland.  It is estimated that eight million people watched the show.  During the next few days hundreds of viewers contacted the station for information about purchasing their own spaghetti trees.

A cameraman for the show, Charles de Jaeger, came up with this April Fools’ Day joke.  He remembered that back in his school days teachers used to tease the students of being so na├»ve that they could be convinced that spaghetti grows on trees.  Evidently, the students weren’t the only folks who could be fooled.

After hanging moist, uncooked spaghetti from several trees, the “harvest” began, and de Jaeger and his staff were there to film it for posterity.

Here is the complete text, which was written by David Wheeler and narrated by Richard Dimbleby:

“It is not only in Britain that spring, this year, has taken everyone by surprise.  Here in the Ticino, on the borders of Switzerland and Italy, the slopes overlooking Lake Lugano have already burst into flower at least  a fortnight earlier than usual.

“But what, you may ask, has the early and welcome arrival of bees and blossom to do with food?  Well, it is simply that the past winter, one of the mildest in living memory, has had its effect in other ways as well.  Most important of all, it’s resulted in an exceptionally heavy spaghetti crop.

“The last two weeks in March are an anxious time for the spaghetti farmer.  There is always the chance of a late frost which, while not entirely ruining the crop, generally impairs the flavor and makes it difficult for him to obtain top prices in world markets.  But now these dangers are over and the spaghetti harvest goes forward.

“Spaghetti cultivation here in Switzerland is not, of course, carried out on anything like the tremendous scale of the Italian industry.  Many of you, I am sure, will have seen pictures of the vast spaghetti plantations in the Po valley.  For the Swiss, however, it tends to be more of a family affair.

“Another reason why this may be a bumper year lies in the virtual disappearance of the spaghetti weevil, the tiny creature whose depradations have caused much concern in the past.

“After picking, the spaghetti is laid out to dry in the warm Alpine air.  Many people are very puzzled by the fact that spaghetti is produced in such uniform lengths.  This is the result of many years of patient endeavor by plant breeders who succeeded in producing the perfect spaghetti.

“Now the harvest is marked by a traditional meal.  Toasts to the new crop are drunk in these boccalinos, then the waiters enter bearing the ceremonial dish.  This is, of course, spaghetti-picked early in the day, dried in the sun, and so brought fresh from garden to table at the very peak of condition.  For those who love this dish, there is nothing like home-grown spaghetti.”

As the calls continued to pour into the station, the BBC operators began giving the following standard response to anyone who wanted to know how to grow spaghetti: “Place a sprig of spaghetti in a tin of tomato sauce and hope for the best.”

Thursday, April 28, 2016

Early Television

One day several years ago, in a moment of curiosity, my son Todd  began asking several questions about my childhood.  By the time we had finished our conversation he had concluded that his old man had grown up during the Neanderthal Period, for he was astonished that his grandparents’ house had been devoid of computers, cell phones, and even air-conditioning.  However, I countered that we did indeed have a television set.

According to my older brother, Dad bought our first “boob tube” in 1951.  It featured a small screen which was capable of showing grainy pictures from  four different stations in our area.  Of course, there was no remote control, so one actually had to get off his backside if he wished to change channels.

Television, at least in a primitive form, has been around for quite some time.  In 1926 Scottish inventor John Logie Baird gave the first television demonstration.  In 1928 the world’s first TV station, WRGB (then W2XB), began broadcasting from the General Electric facility in Schenectady, New York.

However, both the Great Depression and World War II postponed the widespread sale of TV sets.  Therefore, the TV boom did not begin until the late 1940s.  By early 1948 102,000 sets had been sold (about 0.4% of the population), mostly in big-city areas, since that was where the first stations were established.

In 1954 almost 56% of households owned sets, and by 1958 that number had increased to 83%.  In 1948 there were only 16 TV stations in the United States, but by 1954 the number had swollen to 354. 

I don’t remember my family’s first TV set, but I do recall that the second one was built upon a swivel so that the screen could be turned in any direction.  I also remember hitting my head on the bottom of that set while I was playing around, resulting in a good-sized knot.

The first hit program was the “Texaco Star Theatre,” which began in 1948 and ran until 1956.  At first it featured different hosts, but soon Milton Berle  became the regular.  Dad often talked about this show, but I cannot remember it.

On June 20, 1948, “The Toast of the Town” premiered on CBS.  Eventually the name was changed to “The Ed Sullivan Show” in honor of the host.  Since this was a variety show it featured everything from opera to plate spinning to knife throwing.  Starting in the late 1950s with Elvis Presley,  Sullivan wisely began booking rock n’ rollers.  Young folks (like myself way back when) loved the rockers, the oldsters (like Dad), not so much.

In 1951 emerged one of TV’s all-time greatest hits, “I Love Lucy.” In those long-ago days when the viewer had no way to record programs, it was not unusual for a date to request that she not be picked up until the Lucy show was over.  There’s also a story about a bowling tournament in which the action was halted for a half hour so that the contestants could watch the show from the TV located in the dining area.

By the middle 1960s most of Dad’s friends had bought color sets, but he didn’t want to pay the extra money for one.  Instead, he paid a few bucks for a plastic sheet that was  taped to the screen.  The top level of the screen was blue, the middle part was red, and the bottom was green.  Dad used that screen for two days before tossing  it into the trash can.  It’s a wonder he didn’t smack me a good one, for I made fun of it every time he turned on the set.

We were able to get those four precious channels because Dad erected a tower that seemed to me at the time to rise to the heavens.  Being a perfectionist, every summer he gave that tower a coat of silver paint.  Luckily,  I was too young to scale it, for to this day I’m afraid of high places.  Thank goodness, today cable makes those tall towers obsolete, so my wife is spared all of that  climbing and painting.

Thursday, April 14, 2016

Batman v. Superman - a Movie Review

For quite some time I’ve anxiously waited to see the new movie that stars my two favorite superheroes-Superman and Batman.  To say that I was disappointed is surely an understatement.

I hate to brag, but if the truth be told, I’m more than a little knowledgeable when it comes to these two formidable crime fighters.  From about the age of seven until well into the high school years much of my money was invested in Superman or Batman comics. 

Pulling my wagon along the sidewalks, I gathered pop bottles that slobs had hastily tossed onto people’s yards and driveways.  Back in those days one had to put a deposit on  bottles, so by collecting the “strays” I could come up with enough money to buy comic books.  The only ones that I had an interest in were those featuring Superman, Batman, or best of all, both.

My first rule in life is: “Don’t fix what isn’t broken.”  Lately my wife has been watching Sherlock Holmes episodes in which Sherlock’s sidekick is a lady.  Sorry, but the bumbling Dr. Watson fit the bill perfectly.  Before anyone accuses me of sexism, I must state that neither do I want Miss Marple to be replaced by her brother, nor do I want Wonder Woman to be replaced by her uncle.  The latest Superman-Batman flick has kept the characters’ names, but these are certainly not the superheroes with whom I admired so many years ago.

In the movie I couldn’t help but think that the Batman needed psychiatric help.  It is true, as was shown in the movie, that Bruce Wayne dedicated himself to a life of crime-fighting after watching his parents being murdered, but back in my day that double tragedy didn’t turn him into a madman.  Early in the movie the viewer sees a bad guy who has been chained to a hot water heater by Batman.  The crime fighter  had engraved a bat symbol onto the guy’s body.  Sorry, but the Batman that I grew up with was in no way that sadistic.

Moreover, I couldn’t help but think that Dirty Harry was hiding behind that bat mask.  Surprisingly, he didn’t taunt a bad guy with: “So, you think it’s your lucky day, punk?  Well, do you?”

In the movie one of Superman’s arch enemies set up the caped crusader  so that in saving Lois Lane he inadvertently caused the deaths of many others.  At that point a lady senator declared that whenever Superman can act unilaterally, we are all in danger.  Actually, I’m more afraid when the government acts without restraints, but that’s another story.

Somehow, someway, the half-crazy Batman decided that for the good of the world he must destroy Superman.  However, if one goes back to read the comic books of earlier times, he or she will learn that these two superheroes were longtime friends and co-workers against crime. 

The Batman that I grew up with knew and respected Superman, and vise-versa.  Batman realized that Superman would never knowingly hurt anyone who didn’t deserve it.  In other words, there would be as about as much chance of Batman trying to kill his pal as there is of the president becoming a conservative.

For his part, Superman was forced to fight the Batman because his arch-enemy, Luther, held captive his earth-mother, Ma Kent.  If Superman refused to  destroy Batman then Mrs. Kent would die.  I believe the Superman with whom I grew up with would have rightfully roughed up Mr. Luther, and then proclaimed that if the bad guy didn’t have his underlings release her, the bad guy would be toast.  Superman would not purposely kill an innocent person, especially when that person is a hero and a friend.

Batman, for his part, used kryptonite to weaken the Man of Steel into submission, but Superman would have been too smart for that.  If indeed Superman had wanted to dispatch the Batman, he would have simply completed the task from about thirty miles away by using his heat vision to turn his opponent into a pile of smoldering bat guano.  Batman’s only chance would be to sneak up behind Superman and drop some kryptonite down his shorts, and a fat chance that would be.

No doubt anyone who had anything to do with this film would proclaim that in changing the very personalities of the crime-fighters, they were simply modernizing the characters.  “These are not your fathers’ superheroes,” they would state, and I would wholly concur.  That’s the problem; they’ve created two characters that are far inferior to the old ones in almost every conceivable way. Don’t fix what isn’t broken.

Friday, April 1, 2016

The Ultimate Cow Quiz

1. What is the average  life span of a cow-that is, if it is not sent prematurely to the butcher?  A. 15 years  B. 20 years.  C. 22 years  D. 25 years. 

2. True-False:  Some scientists have placed cows among the world’s ten smartest critters.

3. Ayrshire cattle can weigh up to  A. 1000 pounds  B. 1200 pounds  C. 1500 pounds  D. 2000 pounds.

4. Which breed of cow generally produces the most milk?  A. Holstein.  B. Ayrshire.  C. Abigar.  D. Texas Longhorn.

5. Cows are distantly related to  A. dolphins  B. deer  C. donkeys  D. bears.

6. How many gallons of milk does the average cow produce daily?  A. Two  B. three-four  C. six-seven  D. eight-nine.

7. A cow has how many stomachs?  A. one  B. two  C. three  D. four.

8. Which state has the most milk cows?  A. Wisconsin  B. California  C. Pennsylvania  D. Ohio.

9. All cattle are descended from about 80 animals that were domesticated from  A. very large chickens  B. wild oxen  C. deer  D. dinosaurs.

10.  Cattle were domesticated about how long ago?  A. 1000 years  B. 5500 years.  C. 10500 years  D.15000 years.

11. How may cows exist in the world today?  A. 1.3 billion  B. 2 billion.  C. 3.5 billion  D. 5 billion.

12. What is a cow’s gestation period?  A. 19 months  B. 12 months  C. 274 days  D. 180 days.

13. Which country has the most cattle?  A. India  B. United States  C. Brazil  D. China. 

14. How many teeth does an adult cow have?  A. 32  B. 24  C. 21  D. 40  E. None-cows wear false teeth.

15. How many cattle live in the United States?  A. 20.5 million  B. 40.4 million  C. 60.3 million  D. 98.4 million. 

16. True-False:  Cows are red-green color blind. 

17. True-False: Relaxing music played in the barn during milking often will lead to more milk production.

18. True-False:  Cows kill more than five times the number of people than sharks do.

19.  Cows can A. outrun most horses  B. are smarter than pigs  C. seem to be more intelligent than are some of the current presidential candidates.  D. will eat meat if it is available.

20. Why is a cow’s tongue so long?  A. So the cow can give the farmer the raspberries as he walks past  B. so it can more easily clean its calf  C. so  the cow can wrap it around its food  D. so it can swish away flies.

ANSWERS: 1. A.   2. True.   3. D.   4. A.   5. B.   6.C.   7. A.  (one stomach, but with four distinct compartments).   8.B.   9. B.   10. D.   11. A.   12. C.   13. A.   14. A.   15. D.   16. True.  17. True.  18. True.   19. C.   20. C.

*If you missed 0-1, you are a cow expert!  2-4= great job!  5-6 Not bad.   7-9= improvement needed.  If you missed ten or more, you need to take a cow refresher course ( I would have needed the refresher course!)