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They’re at it again…..

cuteunderbed

Look under the bed

Look under the bed. Shut the blinds. Check behind the

ghostwindow

Shut the blinds.

door. Lock all the entrances. Is that a rustle behind the shower curtain? They can be anywhere — and they’re at it again.

They’ve tried this on me before and didn’t succeed. They’re working harder at it this time. They’re evil and devious and devilishly, cleverly persistent. They worked so hard to confuse me with those elevator buttons — remember? (If you don’t, go to the right side of my blog’s home page, and under ‘Archives’, click on February, 2015.) They didn’t manage to destroy me then. You’d think they’d just give up! No way…..

blackdagger

They’re evil and devious

Who are they? ‘THEM’. You know them. ‘They’ who spend sleepless

villian

them

nights trying to figure out just how to make me confused and feeling inadequate. How are they trying to do this you ask? Aha! With those totally bewildering, darned credit-card machines they use in restaurants — that’s how!

twoterms

credit-card machines

When those suckers first came out they were mostly all the same. If you knew how to use the one at the coffee shop, you could easily use the one at the Sushi place. No more mister! Now, each machine is different. Vaaasssttly different. Why? Is this necessary? Of course not! It is yet another scheme to try to make ME feel unsophisticated and stupid. They aren’t fooling me. I’ve got their number even if I don’t understand how to use those blankety-blank machines.

scary

Yikes! A rustle behind the shower curtains?

Have you noticed how the ‘suggested’ tip begins at 15%? Well, maybe you’re not a big-time spender and you don’t want all the waiters to know. How can you manage that without the waiter’s help if the machine is different from any you’ve ever used before? Or, let’s say you want to tip the waiter who served you stale bread and cold soup 10% instead of 15%, you’d have to KNOW how to change the stupid doohickey, or be forced to ask the very person who mistreated you how to lower it! They know that would be uncomfortable. There’s no way to win.

What in the world are those ridiculous machines called anyway. I asked a waiter at a local eatery yesterday. He didn’t know, but perhaps that’s because it’s a vegetarian place. All waiters who work at vegetarian restaurants suffer from meat deprivation. He said they call them ‘Pin Pads’. Well, that isn’t at all what they are. Lucky you dear reader, I’m here to inform you. Not that I knew, but I do have some smart friends.

Samantha, who knows all, told me today. Ready? They’re called POS Terminals. Ha, ha! They’re hoping I never figure it out, so they don’t tell many people. They think when they succeed and I’m in a padded cell, they can just make the world a better place by destroying them all.

mentals

in a padded cell

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Would you believe? A radar technician…

scan-1

Airwoman 1st Class

My children gently tease me about being technologically challenged. Well, I’ll have you know, you young whippersnappers, believe it or not, I was a radar technician during the 1950s. It was the height of technology at the time and I did it for the Air Force! So there!

The Air Force Auxiliary paid more per hour than I earned at my office job and I was always interested in earning extra money. They provided a free air-force uniform, winter coat and shoes, plus trips to the mountains on weekends, which, because I didn’t date much, were boring anyway.

muriel-and-mary-vien-1950s

Arriving by bus — Mary, a devout Catholic, and I attended Church services every Sunday morning

It proved to be an adventure. They’d drive our ‘flight’ (class) to the Radar Station atop a mountain by bus. It was an interesting experience and I look back at it with pleasure.

I also had my very first marriage proposal (from a regular airman) whom, I believe, really meant it. I shall never, ever forget that! He was from Prince Edward Island and handsome in his uniform. I’ve never been to PEI, but have always wanted to visit there because of this memory. Perhaps he was attracted to me because I was the first virgin he ever dated. He told me I was, he respected me for it, and never attempted to change my status.

airforece-auxiliary-1950s

No, I didn’t get garbage detail, but already had a twisted sense of humor

Some other flight colleagues obtained jobs at Montreal’s Dorval airport. It was miles away from my home and I didn’t drive. The mere thought of bracing dark winters on public transit all the way out there didn’t appeal. I just didn’t have the courage. Thus, I was perhaps saved some health issues.

My friend Philip was a WWII pilot. Now, he chuckles when he tells me that on the way out on flying missions, he’d turn hot and cold, a cold hand would clutch his innards and oops, the poor guy would throw up — in the cockpit. It was embarrassing and humiliating for him, and unpleasant for others. Surprise, surprise — they didn’t want to fly with him. So Philip was grounded — and he believes probably survived the war as a result.

Recently, I heard on CBC Radio that Radar Technicians from the 50s are trying to get compensation from the government for health issues resulting from electromagnetic rays they experienced from those early radar screens. I could have been one of them. The only reason I’m not is — I was chicken.

Former radar technicians complain of ‘headaches, fatigue, weakness, sleep disturbance, irritability, dizziness, memory difficulties, sexual dysfunction and occasionally shortness of breath after exertion……

‘During the 1960s and 1970s, ophthalmologist Milton Zaret, under contract with the Army and Air Force, examined the eyes of thousands of military and civilian personnel working at radar installations in the US and Greenland. Large numbers of them, he found, were developing cataracts….caused by chronic exposure to radiation of the eye at power densities around one milliwatt per square centimeter — a level which is regularly exceeded by each of the two and a half billion cell phones in use today.’ (Birenbaum et al. 1969, Zaret 1973)

I did develop early cataracts, which my eye specialist called ‘juvenile cataracts’. But they were probably as a result of my juvenile brain rather than being caused by 1950s radar screens.

projectionist-certificate-mur

Okay, so I don’t know how to scan these and get them straight, but I’ll learn

I looked for some of the photos taken then with one of those Brownie cameras, (remember?) and also found my official R.C.A.F. Projectionist Certificate. Hey guys, look at me!!! This old gal was up on the newest technology of her time — the 1950s. Have some respect.

 

 

 

(For more information on older radar screens, microwaves, and televisions, try Google.)

Am I grateful? You bet I am!

photo by Susan Kauffmann

photo by Susan Kauffmann

It’s Thanksgiving time in Canada, and it comes soon in the States. This has always been a favorite time of year for me and it has nothing to do with turkey. I have so much to be grateful for — beloved family and friends, the adventure of life and the privilege of living long enough to appreciate it.

When my children were young I liked giving them paper and pencil at our Thanksgiving dinners so they could write down and share what they were grateful for. Amongst my treasured papers, I still have some of those lists, one which son Rafi wrote when he was about seven.

Son Rafi, his beautiful Chandra and me. They keep teaching me....

Son Rafi and his beautiful Chandra. They keep teaching me….

As for children? Where to begin? I’ve learned more from my children than they could ever learn from me — and they continue to teach me. I appreciate their intelligence and insight and at times, their honesty. I’m grateful for their continued love and forgiveness for the times I goof, and goodness knows I do. Parenting is no easy task. I believe we all fail in one way or another during the process.

I am grateful for this blog and to daughter Susan, who realized before I did how much I’d enjoy it. I’d never have been able to get it going without her, and she continues as unpaid trouble shooter. I am also grateful to each of you who take the time to read it, and delight in the fact you live in 73 countries, many of which I’ve never visited. Kudos too to son Rafi, who takes time out of his own busy life to help mom when she creates difficulties in her tenuous relationship with this computer, which I’m convinced doesn’t like me. Then there are the lovely

Grandson Remy, who makes being a grandma a real pleasure

Grandson Remy, a real pleasure

people these two have married, and my dear grandson Remy, all of whom accept and love me no matter what. I love them all back.

Now the real miracle — those who just ‘choose’ to love me, and

Robert and Jenna's twins, Eliana and Noah, extra treats in my life

Robert and Jenna’s Eliana and Noah

whom I love as if they were my very own — Amy, Rebecca and Brian, plus Robert and Jenna. How to explain these things? How lucky can you be? It’s gratifying to be loved by your own children, but to be given so much warmth, love and caring from others is a blessing beyond understanding.

My daughter Susan, me and my special additiional 'daughter' Amy

Daughter Susan, me, and my other special ‘daughter’ Amy

I would surely have been killed under Nazi rule

I would surely have been killed under Nazi rule

I am grateful to have spent my life in countries in which I have never had to live with war first hand. That’s a real biggie. I was a little girl during WWII and had I lived in Europe, probably would never have survived under Nazism. Not many humans have been so fortunate.

As a woman, I feel lucky NOT to have been born in a country where women have no freedom. Things may not have been fair for females during my working days, nor are they yet, still I know things could be much worse.

Women in Saudi Arabia, they are not even allowed to drive

Women in Saudi Arabia, they are not even allowed to drive

Susan's gift that keeps ongiving, my own little lilac tree

Susan’s gift that keeps on giving, my own little lilac tree

No one could have derived more pleasure from home ownership than I did. I would do a little walkabout in our garden each morning before leaving for work, marveling at each new leaf or promise of another blossom. Today, I live in an apartment I like, in a neighborhood and city I love. And on my balcony, I have a little lilac tree of my own which daughter Susan gave me years ago. It keeps blooming each year.

I am grateful for those in my book club and especially books, and still being able to read them. (Thank you Brian!) I am grateful for friendships and interesting conversations over coffee. I am grateful for those doctors who truly seem to care about me, and for kind strangers. I am grateful I can still take baths, which I love. I keep thinking of other things to list here, but I’d better stop. I can go on forever. Better just to say I am indeed grateful.

She only looks as though she knows

I found it. I found it! I was looking for something else amongst my papers and found the poem my late friend Hans wrote for me some years ago.

Here it is:

SHE ONLY LOOKS AS THOUGH SHE KNOWS

By Hans Muller

Hans Muller, Award-winning playwright. Most used comment: 'Muriel, the things you do!'

Hans Muller, Award-winning playwright. He loved words… Most used comment: ‘Muriel, the things you do!’

What are all those ahs and ohs?

She only looks as though she knows,

She assumes a knowing pose

And everybody thinks she knows.

Though all she does is sit and doze

Everyone’s convinced she knows.

Be it market highs and lows,

Be it poetry or prose,

Current economic woes,

The benefits of pantyhose,

She always looks as though she knows.

Any subject that they chose

Makes the public think she knows.

It’s not really that she blows

Her own horn — somehow she glows

With an aura she bestows

Both in turmoil and repose.

Is there a reason to suppose

That she knows what gives — what goes?

Does she laugh at life’s cruel blows?

Does she sweat where others froze?

Can she paint — can she compose?

She only looks as though she knows.

Yet, she never brags or crows

Or looks down her pretty nose

At folk like you and me who chose

Their ignorance not to disclose.

The fact remains, from head to toes

She always looks as though she knows.

Can she tell her friends from foes?

The difference between tos and fros?

Above and belows?

Fingers and toes?

Cons and pros?

Yeses and nos?

I don’t think she knows any of those

She only LOOKS as though she knows.

—————————————————————————————————————————

And brilliant, loving daughter Susan figured out how to copy the original post, so here it is:

May, 2013

Recently, there was a retropective on PBS TV about Wonder Woman. It covered the years since her introduction as a comic book character up until the present.

Wonder Woman in the comics

Wonder Woman in the comics

A weaker Wonder Woman

A weaker Wonder Woman

She had changed many times through the years — for instance, after WW2, when women were supposed to go back to their kitchens after doing “men’s” work in wartime factories, she was not depicted as all-powerful for a time.

The program also showed the lovely Lynda Carter in her role as Wonder Woman on television. Seeing her playing that part took me back…..

I was living in Los Angeles and working as a writer for a public relations firm. My boss was tall, blonde, and beautiful. With my black hair and short round body, I was very aware of my lack of glamour in comparison. Lovely Lynda Carter was one of our clients.

What can I tell you about Lynda? She was one of the most beautiful women I had ever seen, and certainly, her unusual eyes were so beyond beautiful, I can still picture them in my mind.

Lynda Carter's Gorgeous Eyes

Lynda Carter’s Gorgeous Eyes

What I liked most about Lynda, however, was that she was extremely polite, friendly and really nice. Even when she ran into me years later (after she had become more successful) she remembered and greeted me warmly. I liked her for that especially.

Lynda Carter as television's Wonder Woman

Lynda Carter as television’s Wonder Woman

Lynda Carter was just starting out. My boss was trying to get her a movie contract. Boss Linda surprised me when she asked me to go with her to an appointment she had set up with the president of a movie company.

“What in the world for?” I asked, “I don’t know anything about movies or movie contracts.”

“You don’t have to know, ” she responded, “You look like you know.”

I didn’t understand what she was talking about and with much trepidation, accompanied her to the meeting a few days later.

Now, my friends know me to be outgoing and talkative, so it may be difficult for them to believe I actually remained silent during the whole meeting. But I did. I felt out of place, uncomfortable, and certainly had nothing to add to the discussion. I was introduced by name, sat down, and let my boss do all the talking.

When the meeting ended, we rose to leave. The president of the movie company stood, shook my hand and said “You don’t say much, Mrs. Kauffmann, but I can tell you’re the brains of this operation.”

The brains of the operation?????

The brains of the operation????? photo by Susan Kauffmann

I hope he didn’t see the confusion on my face. It took all the control I could muster to behave like a normal person as we left his office. In the elevator, my boss laughed.

“You have to learn to use what you have Muriel.” she told me, “And you look smart.” I was fascinated by how that woman’s brain worked. One doesn’t forget an experience like that.

Since then, I have learned she was right. Perhaps I was never glamourous, or tall, or gorgeous, but there is something about me that makes people think I “know”. Whenever people ask my opinion about things I know nothing about I remember the day I attended that meeting with my boss to try to get Lynda Carter work in film.

Years later, I told my friend Hans about it. He laughed and wrote a very funny poem for me. Unfortunately, that was long ago and I seem to have lost it. I only remember the first two lines….

“From her head down to her toes

She only looks as though she knows…”

I remember these two lines because Hans would recite them when we were together and someone approached me for information I didn’t possess — yes, it still happens.

So, don’t be fooled by whatever it is in my appearance that lies. It is a sham!  And, let me assure you, appearances ARE deceiving.The truth is, I know very little!

Elevator buttons — a conspiracy?

Can it be a conspiracy?

Can it be a conspiracy?

Sure, I may be older and wiser and all, but I’m still baffled by buttons in elevators. They’re beyond comprehension. I stand there staring at those little suckers confused — desperately trying to figure out which one to push. My relationship with them leaves much to be desired.

Admittedly, my sense of direction is non-exist but once I finally get to where I was supposed to be ten minutes ago, I pretty much know where I’m supposed to go. Now, if this sounds confusing, it is, so you can imagine how mixed up I feel because that last hurdle — the elevator — is the most confusing of all.

Elevators are where the real challenge begins. Does “G” mean ‘Garage’ or ‘Ground Floor’? Will “B” take me to the Basement or the B-level? Why do they use “P” for Penthouse as well as Parking, “M” for both Street Level and Mezzanine? Isn’t there anyone in charge of elevators clever enough to realize that I find all of this bewildering?

There ought to be a law making all elevator buttons standard

There ought to be a law making all elevator buttons standard

And, what about those additional buttons with pictures which are supposed to be helpful for confused, simple folk like me? They indicate either Open or Close and have something to do with the doors, but by the time I figure out which does which, the door has slammed shut in some poor soul’s face and I’m feeling guilty and apologizing to the air. I hate being rude to strangers. Whatever do they think of me?

Some people come up with brilliant ideas. For instance, don’t you agree a statue should be erected to honour the genius who first invented the potato peeler? You have to acknowledge that the potato peeler is absolutely fabulous — a genuine treasure. What would we do without them? Terrific, right?

There should be a statue in honour of the genius who first invented the noble potato peeler

There should be a statue in honour of the genius who first invented the noble potato peeler

But then, there are also people who lie awake all night dreaming up mysterious new secret codes for public elevator buttons, especially those I will be required to use. It has to be a plot! A plan purposely devised to keep me humble in these, my later years, which are supposed to

Elevator buttons are one way

Elevator buttons are one way “they” keep us feeling inadequate.

provide me with some wisdom.

If you are inclined to believe in conspiracy theories, you’d be well justified in concluding these elevator buttons are one way “they” keep all of us feeling inadequate. After all, if we consider ourselves unable to figure out something as ‘simple’ as elevator buttons, how
can we presume to question those in power? Right? Bingo!

People like me, who have vestibular disorders, don’t like large shopping centers. The lights and colours alone make us uncomfortable. Add to that my lack of any sense of direction which makes it even more difficult for me to find the stores I want in large shopping malls. Besides, I just hate shopping.

Occasionally one must work up the courage and go. Be advised, however, information in shopping centre elevators is reserved for big-time spenders only. Obviously, I don’t qualify. Pray tell, what in the world does “R” , “C” or “P” represent? Like an idiot, I recently stood in an unmoving elevator looking at those meaningless letters until I was rescued by a kind stranger.

“C is where you want to go,” she stated with assurance.
“I thought it meant “Close”, I muttered, “That’s what it means in my doctor’s building. What does it stand for anyway.”
“I have no idea, but that’s where the stores are.”

I’m intrigued by a puzzle, so on the way down I tried again. This time the man I cornered in the elevator suggested it might stand for Centre.

“But, isn’t the whole structure a centre?”

He couldn’t help and I am a curious sort. I had to find out, so I called and spoke to an expert in our city’s planning and building department. He thought the “C” button at the shopping centre probably stood for — Concourse.
Of course, everyone knows that!

Falling in love, literally

If at all possible, I go out for breakfast in the morning. There are a few others in the neighborhood who do likewise. We’ve gotten to know each other and chat over coffee or tea. It can make for a stimulating, interesting, or amusing start to the day. Last week, Nancy and I, who talk about everything and anything, were sharing some of our embarrassing moments. Isn’t it amazing how years later we can laugh about things that seemed so awful at the time they happened?

Here’s one I shared: When I first met my husband, I thought him handsome and charming and mysterious. The ‘r’s’ rolled off his tongue and his accent was irresistible. He seemed to hang on to my every word as his hazel eyes gazed into mine. After meeting, our first date was on New Year’s Eve. He gave me only the obligatory kiss at midnight which was okay for a first real date. When he said goodnight, he invited me to go with him the next afternoon to the Arboretum. (A beautiful, large garden in Arcadia, California, where I had never been.) After that, he said, we would go out for dinner.

I was pleased. I accepted. That year on January 1st the sun shone brilliantly in Southern California. It was a perfect day for an outing. We strolled under the sunshine along an all-but deserted pebble path between colourful, blooming camellia trees. It was lovely. Great. Magical.

He kissed me, right there...

He kissed me, right there…

Suddenly, with no one else around, he took me in his arms and kissed me — right there. This was our first rrreeeaaalll kiss. I’m cool. I wanted to impress; to seem sophisticated; to act as if it were no big deal for me to be kissed like that right out there under the sky and the sun and the flowering trees in front of the whole wide, beautiful world. So, pretending to be absolutely collected and unfazed, with what I believed was proper dignity and decorum, I calmly turned from him to continue walking ahead along the pebble path and —– fell flat on my face.

He helped a somewhat shaken and very embarrassed, humiliated me to my feet. What would you have done in my place???? I could do nothing more than draw on what was left of my sense of humour to survive the devastating moment.

`”See what happens when you kiss me?” I laughed, though I didn’t at all think it was funny. I wanted to die at that very moment. I wished the earth would open up and swallow me whole, so I could disappear forever and ever and never have to face him again. And, surely, I had blown it anyway and would never hear from this man after that clumsy fiasco.

We were going out to dinner together, remember? Those were somewhat more formal days in my life. I was wearing a dress, pantyhose and high heels, appropriate restaurant wear, but frankly, not that great an idea for an afternoon in the park, but I had wanted to look my best.

My knees were dirt and pebble-encrusted and altogether a bloody mess. My pantyhose were shredded at the knees, hanging loosely with long decorative runs going in all directions interwoven with dripping blood running downwards as we walked, making matters worse.

In vain, I tried to wash my knees at the first public bathroom I saw, which had no soap, only cold water, and those dreadful, hard, brown paper towels they sometimes have in such places. There was no choice but to discard what was left of my damaged hose, and to continue on my way stocking-less in my high-heeled shoes. (I always did, and still hate to be barefoot in shoes. I don’t understand how anyone can do it. )

Nonetheless, he gallantly took a somewhat disheveled me, sans stockings — scraped, bleeding knees and all, out to dinner to a very romantic French restaurant up in the hills. We walked through the lovely garden grounds in the cool of the evening, and when he later dared kiss me again (miracle of miracles) I hardly felt the pain in those knees. (Later, they became infected and I had to go see my doctor.)

To me, he seemed a thoughtful, soft-spoken and good-looking Continental who recited French poetry with passion.

I could not resist....

How could I resist….

Ribbons and hearts(Not that I always understood it all, but it certainly sounded good.) Besides, he would tuck charming little notes under my front door, and buy me daisies because, he said, they are very French. How could I resist?

What happened next? I fell two more times in his company. (High-heels, I realize, were always a problem for me.) The third time, he announced that he’d just have to marry me because I needed someone to hold me up. And, after all, we did marry.

Some tips from a lady who has been there:  After marrying the person you choose, continue doing some of the lovely things you charmed him/her with in the first place. And, try to keep your promises.