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Watching Grandma Circle the Drain

July 26, 2017

There’s only so many ways you can get rid of a dead body. Regardless of how it got that way – stabbed, shot, bludgeoned, run over by a truck, pummeled, poisoned, choked, tossed off a building or just withered from old age – its final demise has to be handled with care.

Up until recently, you only had two choices. You could bury Grandma in a casket or cremate her. Both cost a lot of money and take weeks of planning. Or, if money’s tight, you could always drive into the middle of the desert in the dead of night, dig a hole by the glow of your car’s headlights and toss Grammy in – sort of the Home Depot approach to traditional funeral services. It’s done all the time – at least in gangster movies.

According to the National Funeral Directors Association, funerals can cost between $6,500 and $10,000. Cremations can be significantly cheaper, at $800. But then, there’s that nagging question of what to do with those messy ashes. Do I keep them in an urn on top of the mantel or do I put them in a box out in the shed? And, who gets to keep them? What if I lose them? read more

All Entries Family Home Life Humor

Five Minutes from Lorraine

July 7, 2017

During the period affectionately known as the Baby Boom, routine amniocentesis and maternal sonograms were still years away. And while the 50s and 60s can claim fame to some of the best music in the history of the universe, its struggling medical practices offered no help to new parents trying to choose a name for their children. That being the case, one would think the prudent thing to do would be to spread your bets equally across two columns of names: one for boys and one for girls. But my parents were so convinced that I was going to be a girl, they put everything on pink and let it ride. When I finally did appear, I was a surprise to everyone—even me. I wasn’t a girl.

Nowadays, new parents can avoid some of the stress of choosing a name by asking for the sex of their new baby weeks or months ahead of his or her arrival. While it does narrow down the naming choices by 50%, it still doesn’t make the task any easier. In Germany, new parents get help from the government by requiring strict conventions that insure that a child’s name is consistent with the baby’s gender. The name can’t be interpreted as being offensive or ridiculous (a practice the United States has yet to embrace) and its spelling must be conventional, probably to avoid any little Adolfs running around Marienplatz in dresses. read more

All Entries Family Health Home Life Humor Medicine Technology

The Adrian X-ray Shoe Fitting Machine

April 20, 2017

During the 1940s, people were concerned about their feet. Mothers, fathers – even the U.S. Army. As a result, the guardian of modern foot care was born – the “Adrian X-ray Shoe Fitting Machine.”

A Star is Born

Although there are a number of conflicting stories about its origin, the first x-ray shoe fitting machine has generally been attributed to Dr. Jacob Lowe, a Boston physician who was looking for a fast and efficient way to analyze soldiers’ feet during World War I. Dr. Lowe was concerned with the number of poorly fitting boots worn by military recruits and was interested in a way to cut down on their foot-related injuries.  In addition to providing the good doctor with a superior view of the foot, the x-ray shoe fitting machine allowed Dr. Lowe to speed up production by not requiring soldiers to remove their boots.

The x-ray shoe fitting machine was a simple design. A fluoroscope was mounted on the base of a wooden platform and sent x-rays upward toward a florescent screen. The client would place their foot between the two and the image would be directed up to a reflector, where three viewing scopes displayed the foot’s image to the customer. The entire area was sealed within a lead-shielded area for protection of the client. Unlike x-rays that are captured on film, the machine displayed a real time image of the client’s foot – shoes and all. read more

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Customs, Laws and Faux Pas

February 21, 2017

Have you ever wondered why when an infant burps after their morning bottle we all think it’s so cute? Yet, forty years later, the same guy belching after his eighteenth tallboy is absolutely disgusting? Why does a case of unbridled hiccups crack up everyone at the dinner table, but a well-placed air biscuit can clear the room? Like most other societies, American customs have resulted from generations of rules, laws, faux pas and in some cases, no reason at all.

Many of our customs date far back before you were even a twinkle in your mother’s eye. These were times of unsophisticated knowledge and religious beliefs. Mores and values were often steeped in superstition and fear. For instance, people saying “God bless you” after a sneeze, is a byproduct of the epidemics that devastated entire countries during the Middle Ages. Sneezing was usually the first sign that the victim was coming down with the bubonic plague. Friends and family would mutter, “God bless you,” just before sprinting for the safety of the nearest dungeon. I’m happy to say that some of these customs still exist today. read more

All Entries Animals Family Home Life Humor

I Remember Hugh

December 18, 2016

We lost Hugh today. Somehow, he managed to slither out of our second-story bathroom window and was run over by an 18-wheeler carrying a load of chickens headed for a KFC. Considering the amount of time he spent futiley chasing birds, it was a humiliating end to an otherwise, distinguished life. The only thing that could have been worse was if he had been flattened by a truckload of squirrels.

Nevertheless, we’ll miss Hugh. But, it was his time to go. After all, he was 12-years-old and beginning to show early signs of dementia. From time to time, he’d confuse his water dish with his litter box, so he’d foul his water and walk around the living room with litter crumbs covering his lips.

I bought Hugh for my girlfriend, hoping that he would provide her with companionship while I was away at work. Unfortunately, he took an instant disliking to Natalie and spent the bulk of his days asleep behind the refrigerator licking his balls. That is, when he wasn’t spraying the couch or her expensive suede pants. read more

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