Wednesday, July 30, 2014

Rant #1,258: Lost ... and Found

For me at least, this has certainly been the week of finding lost items.

As I have told you for the past few days, my mother found my first grade class photo.

I am still amazed that she found it, and I am still mesmerized by its beauty as sort of the missing piece of my life that has finally been found.

Yesterday, I found something very different. It wasn't a personal keepsake that had been lost, but heck, it made my day.

Without going into a long story, let's just say that I was looking for something on the dresser in my bedroom.

I was looking and looking for this document, which related to my new car, and I simply could not find it.

Well, I found the document that I was searching for, which was great, but in searching for it, I also uncovered something that I didn't even know that I had.

Let me preface this by saying that this is the first time that something like this has happened to me in probably about 30 years.

I found money. And I won't tell you how much, but heck, it was enough to really, really make me happy.

It was stuffed in an envelope on my dresser that dates back to December of last year.

I don't know why or how I didn't realize that I had this money, but when I saw it, my eyes popped.

Oh, we're not talking about thousands of dollars here, just a couple of bills that would have still been buried had I not been looking for something else.

I remember that about 30 years ago, I was in a florist shop, for whatever reason, and I found a $50 bill on the floor. I quickly pocketed it, and I was happy.

The next time anything like this happened to me was probably about 20 years ago, sort of.

While at work, I found a whole wad of checks wrapped up in a rubber band. I remember that visions of a reward were dancing in my head, as it was probably a payroll drop that somebody dropped.

I contacted the company on the checks, they told me to discard them, they didn't even thank me, and that obviously led to nothing ventured, nothing gained.

The next time was about 10 years ago, also at work.

I found a wad of bills tied up in a rubber band. I remember that I made a broadcast at work at what I had found, and one of my fellow employees came forward, saying that it was money he had made from another job, and it must have fallen out of his pocket.

He worked at a local hotel at night, off the books, so he got paid in cash. I had no reason to doubt him, so I gave him back the money. He said he would take me out to lunch for returning the money.

He never did.

I remember as a kid, walking to school, my friend Howie and I found a wallet, and scattered about it were various identification cards, such as a driver's license, and what they used to call charge plates, which today we know as credit cards.

Based on what we found, we located the person it belonged to. Evidently, the person had been mugged, the crook(s) stole all the money in the wallet, and left everything else strewn about.

Again, visions of a reward danced in my head, and my friend's head.

After school, we both went over to the person's apartment.

We rang the doorbell, and the person barely poked his head out the door after we announced who we were.

We saw the person was pretty banged up, and was probably in his 70s or 80s or perhaps even older.

We gave him back what we had found, and left, not even expecting anything being given back to us because of his age and how he looked.

And that brings me back to the present day, where it was I, myself, who lost this money, only to retrieve it myself.

Again, it would still be sitting there if I hadn't been looking for something else.

What else will I find this week?

Who knows, but it will be hard to top what has been uncovered thus far.

Tuesday, July 29, 2014

Rant #1,257: Class Photos

Yesterday's entry about my mom finding my first grade photo sparked my renewed interest in class photos of mine, and I started digging.

I know that I have all my class photos. Most of them were sent to me by former classmates, because my mother claims that she has nothing of mine or my sister.

Of course, what she found over the weekend kind of says to me that if she has time to dig, she will probably find everything.

But that being said, I have found some class photos of mine from days of yore.

But finding those photos also has allowed me to rediscover myself, to a certain extent.

I feel that I haven't changed at all.

Sure, in those photos I have hair, I am a lot lighter in weight and certainly have a different spirit than I do now.

But I really haven't changed much.

I am really a kid in adult's clothing. Sure, I have grown up in age, but I am still a kid at heart.

I never liked ties, never liked liverwurst, and I still don't.

I loved baseball and music and TV, which I still do.

I believed in family, my country, and although I was never religious, I do believe in God, and always have believed in these things.

But it is nice to have these keepsakes of another time, because they have etched in sort of a permanent memory where I was way back when.

And that is the real beauty of class photos.

They bring you back to another time, perhaps the most important part of your life, when you were growing up and learning about the world around you.

You learned a lot of what was going on not only from the teachers in those photos, but from your peers, the kids who were also in these photos.

Many of them were your friends, some of them were simply classmates of yours, but you learned through them, whether you realized it or not, through osmosis, if nothing more.

And that learning experience, coupled with many others, made you what you became.

Anyway, without getting too metaphysical, I just love these photos, and I also love to see other people's photos too.

They are visual time capsules, and that makes them so much fun.

And if you have kids, don't ever lose these photos. They are really prizes of your kids' childhoods, and when they become adults, these photos will have even more meaning to them.

Put them in a safe place!

And again, a shout out to my mom, who found what I consider to be the mother of all my class photos.

One question--was a class photo taken during kindergarten?

I have no idea, but if one was taken, and I could see it, that would really be extra special.

Monday, July 28, 2014

Rant #1,256: Go To the Head of the Class

This weekend was as dry and as boring for me as possible.

My wife worked the entire weekend, so really nothing much happened at all.

I did whatever chores I had to do, went to the eye doctor--I need new lenses, which are going to cost me a pretty penny--and basically watched TV--baseball--the entire weekend.

Yes, I did nothing.

I saw my mother on Saturday, and she gave me something that really brought everything into focus, something that I had not seen for probably 30 years--

My class photo from first grade.

I thought that this thing was forever lost, but searching through various things in her house, she managed to find this photo, buried away for decades.

I put it right up on Facebook, it got a good reaction, and now is preserved for posterity both there and here, as well as on my computer.

Here is what I put up with the photo on Facebook:

"My mother found this photo buried somewhere in her house.

It is my first grade photo from P.S. 165, Flushing, New York, way back in 1963-1964.

This was taken when I lived in Kew Gardens Hills, Queens, and I am barely noticeable. That is why my mother said years ago, she drew the arrow on the photo. I am sure it can be removed, but I figured I would leave it on for posterity, I guess.

Anyway, the teacher was Mrs. Gold, but I don't think that is her in the back, leading me to believe this photo was taken in 1964.

I was in an experimental class, where they took kids who had shown that they were a little advanced educationally for their age and put us in a class where we were taught work from not just first grade, but pretty much through third and fourth grade.

Mrs. Gold was an older woman who had never taught grade school before our class. She was a college instructor, and was chosen to be our teacher because of her background in higher education.

She tripped over a wire from a film strip machine one afternoon, and was never seen or heard from again.

The woman in the back must have been her successor, so I am guessing this was taken in March or April of 1964, after Mrs. Gold hurt herself.

This was the class where we all grew up quickly, when we were told that JFK had been assassinated.

I don't remember too many of the kids' names. A boy named Hal was the kid sitting up front, and I believe that another boy named David Kosloff was in the back, five kids from the right.

Another interesting boy I think was the kid standing next to me on my right. His last name was Marx, I think, and he was the son of the doctor who claimed that he could "create" children with genius intellects with the proper learning environment. He proved his point with his children, who both graduated college when they were 16 years old or so. His work created a lot of controversy 50 years ago, but I do know that he was successful with his own kids.

I hadn't seen this photo in literally about 40 years when my mom gave it to me today, and it obviously brought back lots of memories.

Since then, I have had a chance to really look at the photo, and a couple of things came to light.

The kid I called Marx, his last name was actually Marcus. I do not remember his first name. I think his sister actually graduated college when she was 12 or 13, and he graduated when he was about 16. What happened to either one of them since ... I haven't a clue.

The kid I called simply Hal, I believe his last name was Kessler.

And no, I cannot remember a single name of any of the girls in the class.

Heck, I was six or seven years old here, so I guess I still hated girls at this point in time.

Anyway, I do wonder what happened to all of these kids, and even the teacher in back, whose name completely escapes me.

How many are still alive? How many went on to have families, nice careers, and good lives?

The school is still standing, by the way, although it goes under a different name now--I can't remember what that is, either.

So during a dull and boring weekend, this was a highlight, as it would be for any weekend.

I just love class pictures, and this one has risen to the top of the class as my favorite of all time.

I wonder if my mother has any other hidden treasures like this stored away somewhere.

I sure hope she does.

Friday, July 25, 2014

Rant #1,255: Wardrobe Malfunction

Yesterday, I had reason to delve back into my personal memory bank and remember something that happened to me way back when.

I can laugh at the incident all these years later, but when it happened, I was not laughing.

I think it was in third grade, in Mrs. Johnson's class, in old P.S. 30, in Rochdale Village, South Jamaica, Queens, New York.

I must have been about eight years old

She was a no-nonsense type of teacher, and her rope wasn't very long. Once she had you on that rope, one yank, and you were done.

Anyway, we were studying some poem, I don't remember which one, but it was a long poem, so each one of us was going to have to recite a portion of the poem in front of the class.

(To this day, I have no idea why teachers back then wanted their students to memorize poems, and in particular, passages of poems. I guess they thought you would understand the poem better if you memorized it, but I doubt that that ever happened.)

Anyway, I had memorized my portion of the poem, and was ready to go that day, ready to go up in front of the class and do my duty.

Going in front of the class was enough of a traumatizing thing for me, something that I really didn't like to do to begin with.

Having to recite my passage only was going to make the experience worse, but heck, if this is what Mrs. Johnson wanted, this is what Mrs. Johnson was going to get from me.

There was a girl in the class by the name of Ilene. She a thin, brown haired girl, nice looking, pleasant to speak to. I think I probably had a crush on her.

She sat a row in front of me, if I recall correctly, and I guess I was in my phase of being in between hating girls and liking them.

Anyway, about 10 minutes before I was to go up in front of the class, she very innocently dropped her pen or pencil--I forget which, probably a pencil because we were so young--on the floor.

It rolled over to me, and I bent over to pick it up and hand it to her--a pleasant circumstance, because it gave me an opportunity to talk to her, even briefly.

I bent over to get the writing instrument from a sitting position and RIIIIIIIP!--I could feel my pants just disintegrate on my body.

Not really, but I gave her the writing instrument, felt behind my but, and my fingers went up the back of my pants--they had split from roughly just below the belt buckle all the way through to just below the zipper.

What was I going to do? I couldn't tell Mrs. Johnson, out of embarrassment, that I had split my pants, because I think my fellow classmates would have had a good one with that.

I had to go up to recite my passage, in front of everyone, and they would see that years before people called this a wardrobe malfunction, well, that is what I had.

I had a jacket that I wore that was pretty long in length, so I figured that I would go ahead with everything, and do my part of the poem in front of the class, split or no split.

In the middle of someone else's passage, I got up to put on my jacket.

Mrs. Johnson stopped everything to ask me, "Larry, why are you putting on your jacket?"

I replied, "I think I am coming down with something, maybe I am getting a cold, and I am cold."

It seemed like minutes, but her reply was, "Fine, let's move on."

We moved on, and it was finally my turn to recite the passage.

I got up, with my long jacket on, and walked up to the front in such a way that nothing could be seen. It must have looked like I needed to go to the bathroom, but I wiggled my way up to the front of the class, and started to do my recitation.

And I carried it off without a hitch, did it really well, and then blew a sigh of relief that everyone probably thought was because I got through my passage pretty Spic and Span clean.

Little did they know ... .

Anyway, it was the morning, and a little while later, we were let out for lunch. In those days, you could either eat in school or go home for lunch, and as usual, I walked home, but this time, pretty much ran, as my pants were splitting even more with every stride.

I made it home, took off the split pants, put on new pants, and no one was ever the wiser for it.

I look back at that day and I really have to laugh. I pulled the whole thing off without a hitch.

Yesterday at work, for maybe the third or fourth time in my entire working life, I somehow popped a button on my pants--no, not because I am too fat, but because after going to the bathroom, I kind of did a one-handed closure of my pants, and to my chagrin, the button went flying, hitting the wall and bouncing back at me like a ping pong ball.

And like the three or four other times this has happened, I just sucked it up.

I put on my belt extra tight, made sure the button area was covered--my tie pretty much covered it, too, a good reason to wear a tie, I guess--and worked the rest of the day with unbuttoned pants.

And no one was the wiser.

I remember that the first time this happened, I was working in Manhattan for a printing company as a proofreader/go-fer (don't ask), and I actually told someone what had happened. They gave me a needle and thread and told me to sew it up. I had never done this before, was able to do it, and it lasted until I got home, where it popped again.

The other times, I never told a soul.

I am telling you this now because I will bet that all of us have had similar wardrobe malfunctions at the most inopportune times.

And we can all laugh at it, because looking back, it was actually pretty funny, although at the time, it wasn't.

Our ingenuity allowed us to get through the incident, and we moved on from it.

It's a laugh, as they say.

Speak to you again on Monday.

Thursday, July 24, 2014

Rant #1,254: Rainout Copout

Just to give you an update, yes, my crown was put in yesterday after work.

Yes, my mouth is still sore. My face was still actually numb some four hours after the procedure was done.

However, to my dismay, about three-quarters through the procedure, the dentist told me that it was a temporary crown he was putting in, and that I had to come back in two weeks to put in the permanent crown.

My question--why go through the procedure twice? Why couldn't I have waited two weeks and had the permanent crown put in, and thus, be done and over with it one time, not twice?

I am sure there is a dental reason for this, but without that reason at hand, common sense tells me I am going through this procedure twice, and I don't think it is warranted.

Anyway, my mouth still feels sore, and I have yet to try to eat on the right side to see if what he did works.

What's the point? It's just a temporary crown.

Anyway, I got home, couldn't really eat or drink much--I did eat around 8:30 p.m. or so--and I sat down to watch Yankees baseball.

This season has thus far been a disaster for my beloved Yankees.

Their starting pitching staff has been depleted by injury, their big guns have not hit at all, they haven't played well at home, and their station-to-station offense is boring.

But because of the ineptitude of the rest of their division, the American League East, they are right in the thick of things for a division title, just a few games out--as is everyone else in the division.

It is literally a five-team horse race to the playoffs, with just sixty-odd games to play for each team.

One team that goes on a hot streak will pretty much back into the playoffs, and then probably get eliminated by a team from either the stronger Central or West divisions.

But as they say, "you gotta be in it to win it," so the Yankees will take what they can get.

And they have been hot lately. Since the All-Star break, even though they haven't played particularly well, they have won five of six games.

Last night, they won 2-1, in a game shortened to just the minimum because of the rain that kept pounding the field. They barely got in the minimum amount of 4 1/2 innings, and since the home team--the Yankees--were winning, the home team got the victory.

It is something of turn about fair play, because the Yankees' last game before the All-Star break, the Bronx Bombers lost to the Orioles in similar fashion, in a game shortened by rain.

These shortened by rain games have been a bugaboo with me for a long time.

I never understood why games like this--where one team is leading after the minimum amount of innings and is granted the victory because the umpires have decided that the game cannot be continued due to potentially hazardous conditions--aren't completed another day.

If last night's game was, let's say, tied at 2-2 yet it was an official game, would they continue the game another time? The game's records go into the book--the at bats, the hits, the earned runs, etc.--so shouldn't they continue such a game, pick it up where they left off when it is safer to play?

I am not talking about games that go an inning or two and then are canceled due to rain. I am talking about games that play out over at least half the normal nine innings.

I always thought that these types of games were baseball's equivalent to ties in other sports, where the players play but the conclusion is a standoff.

And what about the fans at the game? Heck, watching on TV, I could simply go to another channel while the rain hit the field, but the fans in attendance are often asked to wait several hours before a determination is made.

I went to bed at 10 p.m. yesterday, so I have no idea when the umpires actually called the game, but I bet they gave it several hours.

For games like this, many teams will give fans a "rain check" for another game, which is a nice way of them telling those in attendance that they appreciate their business.

That is a nice gesture,and I hope it was used last night.

But not playing games to conclusion is something I hate about the game I love--all games should go nine innings, even if to reach that point, teams might have play on another day.

And yesterday's rain shortened game, by the way, followed a 14-inning contest the night before that went on and on and on and on some more.

Today's game is an afternoon affair, and hopefully, it will go on without a hitch.

Wednesday, July 23, 2014

Rant #1,253: The Tooth of the Matter

Today I have something to write about, something that has been bothering me for several months now.

It's my teeth.

I have good teeth, they have held up pretty well over my lifetime, and certainly as an adult, my teeth have been pretty much terrific.

As a kid, my adult teeth were growing in every which way, I had to wear railroad track braces for several years, but everything worked out fine with my adult teeth.

I went years without a cavity, and while my gums aren't that good--inherited from my father--my teeth have been sturdy as any part of my body.

But lately, that is not the case.

This year, I had two major cavities that had to be filled, and therein lies the problem.

Evidently, due to age, my teeth have shifted, and some teeth--primarily the rear teeth, the teeth I chew with--have shifted to the point where naturally, I have larger spaces between these back teeth than I really should have.

Thus, not only is chewing a chore, but when I do chew, food gets caught in between the teeth to the point where not only can't I clean it out myself, but it inflames the gum, making for a sore mouth, and certainly an even sorer ego.

Heck, I like to eat, like to enjoy my food, but I can't do either if this situation persists.

At first, the dentist told me it was a natural thing, and they really couldn't do anything about it, which really made me quite upset and angry.

Then they came up with a plan.

On the left side, replace the filling that they put in with a larger filling, which would not only fill the cavity but extend far enough over the space where food was getting caught.

On the right side, remove the crown that is already in that area and replace it with a larger one that, again, would extend far enough over the space where food was getting caught on that side of my mouth.

I had the cavity redone several weeks ago. It is OK, I guess I can live with it, but that side of my mouth simply does not feel the same. I can chew there, food gets caught there, I can get it out myself, but that side simply does not feel right.

Then comes the right side ...

We put in for a new crown with the insurance company more than a month ago, and we didn't hear a word from them.

All the while, I could only chew on the left side, which was making my mouth ache, because all the chewing was going on on one side of my mouth.

I even called in the interim, trying to find out what was going on, and there was nothing going on.

Finally, this week, they told me that the crown was "approved" and that I could come in today after work to get it put in.

I can't wait.

It is difficult to use only one side of your mouth to chew your food.

Although you try as much as you can, food still moves over to the other side, and thus, it gets stuck in between the teeth.

And since the left side is bearable at best, it makes my whole mouth ache ... ache for some normalcy, and to wait more than a month until this crown was "approved"--evidently, my plan only allows for one new crown every three years or so, what a joke that is--has been torture.

And then we come to the next torture.

This procedure is going to cost me several hundred dollars, screwing up my bank account for sure.

I guess I will be able to eat, but after the procedure, I can't pay for my groceries, so what's the point?

Well yes, I am overstating things a bit, but frankly, it is killing my bank account to get this done, which I am not too happy about.

Hopefully, by tomorrow, I will know that it is money well spent.

Today, the tooth of the matter is that I just wish this nightmare was over already, no matter what it has cost me in discomfort, pain and dollars.

Keep your fingers crossed for me today. I will need all the help I can get.

Tuesday, July 22, 2014

Rant #1,252: Writing About Nothing

Hello, and welcome back to the Ranting and Raving Blog.

There, I have just used up a line.

It is very difficult to write fresh, new columns every day--or at least five days a week--like I do right here.

It is fun, but difficult.

There are days where I have plenty to say--whether I am talking about Archie Comics, or what is happening in Israel right now, or even if I am talking about my own personal quirks, like hating to wear a tie to work each day.

And then there are days where I have to make up things literally on a whim, because for one reason or another, I don't really have anything in mind to write about.

Nothing out there is really catching my eye--if I can even see out of them, which, today, my allergies are by and large preventing me from doing.

My allergies are really bad today, hitting me in both eyes. I can barely keep my eyes open to focus.

Rain is coming, it is very humid out, and that is certainly the culprit.

But whatever the case, I have found that after 1,200-plus entries here, it is often very, very difficult to come up with something new.

Sometimes, the actual writing process fuels me, and I come up with something interesting, new, fresh, and something I personally can be proud of.

And other times, I come up with a dud.

I am sure the professional columnists, those who do this for a living, probably say the same thing.

I am sure there are days where they can write until their fingers are blue, and on those days, they probably write more than one column--one to use immediately, one to store away and use on days when they just don't have much to say that they can plug into the hole and use any time.

You can't always have diamonds. There are some days where you just write about what you write and then put it away.

I feel like today is one of those days. I have written about every subject under the sun, and today--perhaps because I am in some discomfort--I don't really have anything solid to write about.

It happens, I guess, and today, this is truly a column about nothing, a Rant about nothing, whatever you want to call it.

But, as you know, I only take a weekday off from this column if I have some personal business to attend to, or it is a national holiday, and that isn't set in stone, either.

Sometimes I write about something, even on those days, too.

But today, I guess it really is approaching the dog days of summer, and I just can't pinpoint anything I want to write about.

It is akin to a baseball player having an zero for five day at the plate, or a basketball player putting up his shots but never swishing the basket.

I am swishing today, I am striking out today, and, just stay with me when I come back tomorrow.

I am sure that I will have something much more substantial to write about.

Today, mighty Larry has stuck out.

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