Archive | December 2015

2015 in review

The stats helper monkeys prepared a 2015 annual report for this blog.

Here’s an excerpt:

A New York City subway train holds 1,200 people. This blog was viewed about 3,900 times in 2015. If it were a NYC subway train, it would take about 3 trips to carry that many people.

Click here to see the complete report.


Life — a risky business


photo by Timothy Stark

Here it is the end of 2015 and I’m still here — and so are you. Have you ever thought about how risky life is and what a miracle it is so many of us reach seniority? Dangers lurk at every turn. It’s a wonder any of us survive childhood, let alone make it to old age.

What with nature’s furies — hurricanes, tornadoes,

funny young woman in bed

billions of bacilli and viruses

volcanoes, floods and storms; the billions of bacilli and viruses that thrive around, on and in us; man-made hazards such as explosives, weapons of war, and so many, many guns, it’s amazing we survive at all.

I can’t drive a block without imagining all the mishaps which can occur. I see myself hitting one of those silly pedestrians dressed all in black, concentrating on a cellphone while crossing the street right in front of my car on a dark, rainy night. What’s if you’re the designated driver when it is ordained that things will go very wrong? Then, there are also those accidents with buses, trains and planes to think about.

good funny thief

Dangers lurk at every turn

Every time I step onto my balcony I imagine it collapsing under me and tumbling down three floors to the cement patio below. I think about these things. I think about these things while normal people go about just living their lives. They don’t have to worry. I’m busy worrying for them.

Did you know your chances of dying in an earthquake are one in 148,756? But how do you know that ONE won’t be you? And if you ARE that one, how reassuring are these calculations? The average number of dog homicides is about 31 per year (in the U.S.) I no longer have a dog, but I know people who do. Recently a local puppy bit my finger. Does this increase my risk in the future?

puppy biting finger

Does this increase my risk?

Statistically speaking, they say occupations with high risks of injury are truckers and coal miners. Those with the least are supposedly stockbrokers, lawyers and insurance executives. I don’t know about stockbrokers, but lawyers could sue the hell out of anyone responsible for their injuries, and one would hope insurance executives, at the very least, have good coverage.

They don’t even mention retired folk like me, which leads me to think we’re in real trouble. Why else would they leave us out? It’s a plot to make us feel at ease while at every turn they’re after us — and with good reason.

The fatality rate for elevator rides (which total about 18 billion trips each year), is 0.00000015%. My building has one. I use it every day. The younger individuals living on my floor avoid it and usually take the stairs. Do they know something I don’t???

Mom Scared SM

As you can see, I’m not neurotic.

Currently, I’ve begun thinking about the chances of my being hit by a celestial body. I have a one in 150 trillion chance of this happening. I will not allow myself to become a nervous wreck thinking about it. No, I won’t. I won’t! As you can see. I’m not neurotic.

Happy New Year everyone.

A murder of crows and then some


photo by Susan Kauffmann

The coincidences we experience in life would often be unbelievable in fiction. Right now, I’m in the midst of re-reading ‘Of Human Bondage’ by Somerset Maugham (1874-1965). I  imagined not many people are thinking about that book today, but lo and behold, watching the first segment of a series on Netflix, two incarcerated men are shown discussing ‘Of Human Bondage’. Interesting, no?

Last month I wrote about meeting a stranger under ‘a murder of crows’ because I love that these birds are called a ‘murder’ when they gather in a group. My friend Sandy, while reading my post, happened to have a copy of ‘Country Life’ magazine next to her. The cover reads ‘A murder of crows and other curiosities’. Sandy couldn’t resist. She arrived at my door with a copy of the cover and a page showing some delightful terms for collective nouns

a flaboyance of flamingos

A flamboyance of flamingos

of creatures. Here are a few I truly enjoyed: A wake of buzzards. A charm of goldfinches. A deceit of lapwings. A scold of jays. A commotion of coots. An asylum of cuckoos. A trembling of finches. A conspiracy of ravens. A parliament of rooks. A murmuration of starlings. A fall of woodcock. (Thank you Sandy.)

a volt-of-vultures

A volt of vultures

My dear daughter Susan, who knows me well, gave me such a list some years ago, which, I enjoyed so much, I still have it AND I even knew where to find it. (A miracle in itself.) I’ve always liked ‘a brood of hens’ ‘a cauldron of raptors’, ‘a gaggle of geese’, ‘a convocation of eagles’, an ostentation of peacocks’, a parliament of owls’ and so many more.

Ruch  Muriel 5 yrs. approx

fish were in school but not me

When I was turned down for kindergarten at age five, I was devastated. As the youngest in the family, all my siblings were already in school and I cried all the way home. (My poor mother probably felt like crying too — any promise for a morning break from five children had just been shattered.) I knew about ‘a school of fish’, and didn’t quite understand why fish could be in school and I couldn’t.

Just for fun, here are some more: A richness of martens,

a fever of stingrays

A fever of stingrays

an obstinacy of buffalo, a cauldron of bats, a parade of elephants, a cackle of hyenas, a pride of lions, a troop of monkeys, a prickle of porcupines, a warren of rabbits, a crash of rhinoceroses, a scurry of squirrels, a pod of whales, a shiver of sharks, a swarm of bees, an army of caterpillars, a bed of clams or oysters, an intrusion of cockroaches (yuck!) and a cloud of grasshoppers.

Do you have some favorites of your own?