Archive for December 7th, 2007

Congressman Kuhl’s Junket to Brazil

Friday, December 7th, 2007

I’m not angry Randy Kuhl went to Brazil.


I’m just sorry he came back.

Designer Water Bottles are Out of Control

Friday, December 7th, 2007

Guest Editorial, Democrat & Chronicle, March 12, 2002

A few weeks ago, a picture in the newspaper showed a Rochester school board member and Superintendent Clifford B. Janey, talking at a table following a school board forum ( March 1). They obviously were concerned about the multimillion dollar budget deficit. Their faces wore serious, no-nonsense, grim business looks. I started to worry. Then I saw designer pint water bottles in front of them and I knew they had everything under control.

Those handy water containers were within easy reach of seats at the table recently vacated by school board members. If one fainted from thirst, all his neighbor had to do was reach about a foot, open the cap and dump the lifesaving fluid down his open throat. If their meeting room suddenly burst into flames, they all could easily open their pints and madly sprinkle the contents on the fire before the fire department arrived.

I know I probably wasn’t paying attention, but this water bottle business seems to have snuck up on me. Just a few years ago, the only place you ever saw the things was in a health club. Today, they are everywhere.

What’s going on here?

When I first paid attention to the invasion of the water bottles, I thought it was a great idea. I was sorry I hadn’t thought of it first. Imagine, I thought, selling something for a premium price that any dimwit on the street could get for practically free. By simply capitalizing on that great American ideal of if something costs more, it must be worth more, bottlers slapped pretty labels on what was basically, well, water.

Now if that were me, I probably would have crossed my fingers, put a 30-cent price tag on the product and hoped it all lasted as long as Pet Rocks. Shows what a dope I am. Today if you can buy a pint of “pure” water for less than a buck, you may qualify for a smart shopper award.

All of this water business would have flown right by me except I was recently drenched by it on a personal level.  A few weeks ago I took a woman to dinner. I picked her up at work and our restaurant was about five minutes away. Since this was our first real date, I probably should have just kept my opinions to myself. And I would have, except she got into the car with a bottle of water.

“Do you know a shortcut through the desert?” I asked.

“What? Oh, you mean my water?”

“Well yes. You have water at work, don’t you?”

“Yes. . .”

“And the restaurant is sure to have water, right?”

“I guess. Hey, it’s only water!”

“Well, there are countless apartments and stores between here  and there and if the car breaks down, and we’re dying of thirst. . .”

“OK, OK. I get it. I’ll never bring water again. Wow, it’s going to    be a long night!”

“Well, at least we’ll have water.”

Although I’ve called her a few times, I’ve never been able to get in touch with that woman again. Her roommate said she moved to Wisconsin or Wyoming – it wasn’t really clear.

Oh well, wherever she went, I hope she brought enough water.


(Above) EVIAN, Limited Edition, French Designer Water Bottles.     EVIAN is “Naive” spelled backwards. You knew that, right?

Speak English.

Friday, December 7th, 2007

                                                                                                                                                      Letters to the Editor (Democrat & Chronicle) May 5, 2006


Virtually all Americans have ancestors who came to
this country for a better life. And they learned English because that’s the language America speaks. My Italian grandparents never complained about this. They expected to learn a new language for the privilege of becoming Americans. They knew that language was the main tool that brings different cultures together. America wasn’t going to change for them; they were going to change to become Americans.


Who Took the Garlic out of Greens & Beans ?

Friday, December 7th, 2007



(Rochester, New York) Vincelli Macantelli put a large spoonful of ‘Greens and Beans’ in his mouth. Immediately a puzzled look crossed his face.

“What the hell isa this?” he said, “I wasa supposed to try some ‘Greens and Beans’ here. Thisa taste like ‘Corna Beef and Cabbage’ – without the corna beef. Doa I looka Irish? Ifa my wife serva me this at home, I’da smack her in da mouth, Madonne!”

As more restaurant owners try to homogenize traditional ethnic dishes with the hope of attracting additional customers, older patrons are being forced to redefine
their tastes; accepting milder flavors which are popular
to a wider variety of diners.

But culinary traditions die hard.

“Who-a made this, Campella Zoup?” Mr. Macantelli said loudly as he looked at the kitchen in an accusing manner.

“Madonne!” said his friend, Armando Cataloni, “Lasta week my kida bring me to thesa new pizza place – 37 toppings – you choosa!”

“37 on-tops?” said Mr. Macantelli in amazement.

“Yesa! Anna one was pineapplea! You believe? PINEAPPLEA! Witha the sauce!”

Mr. Macantelli put his hand over his mouth and appeared to be getting sick.

“Skusa me, “ he said as he quickly stood up and made his way to the mens’ room.

Mr. Cataloni went on, “Inna the olda days, Italians wore cloves of garlic around their necks. This would cure colds ifa you hada one, keep awaya new colds – anda keep away those people who already hada colds. You go toa work, people didn’t know if youa hada cold – or you just eata big bowl of greens and beens. Today?” And he shrugged his shoulders. Mr. Macantelli returned.

“Inna them days, aftera I eat a good plate of greens and beans, you coulda smell the garlic on my breatha for two days! Anda they would cleana you out like a bigga scrub brusha! God’s own scrub brusha: Greens and Beans!” Mr. Cataloni excitedly nodded in agreement.

“But today? Madonne! Firsta, these mayonnaise faces takea the sauce from pasta anda put in cheese! And nota Romana or Provolone – no! Americano cheese – blando cheese. The cheesa that tastea like colda cardboard. Nowa – every place says: macaroni anna cheese, macaroni anna cheese…….”

“Everybody tries to blenda the dishes – thatsa no good. We wanna our own” added Mr. Cataloni. Then, shouting at the kitchen, “HEY CARMELLA! You gotta Soya sauce? We gonna makea ‘Greens and Beans Pu-Pu’? OK? Bringa out thosea sticks too!” Both diners burst out in laughter.

Obviously, educating diners on newer taste combinations may take longer than Rochester restaurant owners had planned.

The Cat Diner

Friday, December 7th, 2007


Tuesday and Wednesday, my two much-loved fur faces, almost always eat each meal together from separate plates on their serving tray. The tray is washed and clean plates are set for each of their three main daily meals. This serving tray is neatly placed next to their ‘around-the-clock tray’ which is continually stocked with bowls of fresh water (iced in the summer) and high-grade dry food on which they can snack at any time day or night.

Of course this daily dietary regime does not include their special, small treats ( in effect, “Kitty Cookies”) – served ONLY when they are exceptionally cute, affectionate, or funny – which happens to be about two or three times a night. Now any honest, normal, indoor cat lover will tell you this is a pretty basic dining system; not exceptional in any way. In fact I’m sure this basic routine with only slight variations exists in millions of apartments and homes across America.

Further, cat lovers know that cats do not like changes in their routines. They are very sus- picious of alterations or variations in their daily lives. Like the contented child who never spoke until he was four years old because, “until now, everything was pretty good”, cats strongly adhere to the adage, “When there is no good reason to change, there is good reason NOT to change.”

That’s why I was surprised a few months back when Tuesday, my older cat, decided for whatever reason, to sleep late one morning. Like all families, we have our basic waking-up routine. When I get up at about 7:00 am, I’m accompanied to the bathroom by my two best friends who crash into each other, rubbing their faces on my ankles while insisting they’re nearly starving to death and could I please hurry before it’s too late? In a minute or two, after washing my hands, we three move as one into the kitchen where I prepare their breakfast tray.

But this morning was different. Young Wednesday was following the routine (although undoubtedly upset because she was flying solo) while Tuesday continued to sleep in her warm, cat bed. I checked her, of course, and she seemed fine. She slowly opened her eyes and then went back to sleep. Later, she put one paw over her eyes blocking the intruding sunlight while Wednesday finished her breakfast and climbed into her own bed for her morning nap. I was concerned but knew Tuesday had eaten her dinner the night before, had some dry food, plus her treats – so she probably wasn’t sick. Maybe, I thought, she was catching a cold, or was more tired than hungry, or, most likely, she was just being a cat who could do whatever she wanted – whenever she wanted – without explanation.

I sat at my computer, both cats securely in their beds under my desk, and began to work. After a few hours, Tuesday got up, brushed past my legs (hint, hint), walked to the center of the room and stretched slowly, luxuriously – as only a cat can do. She then ambled over to the breakfast tray, looked down at the one plate from which Wednesday had eaten, paused, and then looked over to
me – expectantly.

“Uh, uh, Tuesday,” I said, “Get with the program. This isn’t a cat diner! You wanted to sleep – so now eat your dry food.” Tuesday, of course, seemed to widen her eyes and
stare at me in what I assume was feline disbelief. I bit my lip and looked at the sweep hand on the clock over my desk. If I could just hold out for four or five minutes, I could nip this unreasonable behavior in the proverbial bud. Well, three minutes anyway – just three minutes – one can stand practically anything for three minutes! I turned back to my computer and dug in my heels.

I was completely unprepared for the second battle front that now opened at the Cat Diner. Wednesday had awakened, slipped by my feet, and trotted over to stand next to her furry sister. She too looked at the tray with the one plate of leftover scraps – and then looked at me.

“Meow!” she loudly yelled. While Tuesday’s appeals had been relatively sophisticated and subtle – the silent meow, the “hurt” eyes – Wednesday went right for my nerves! This injustice against Tuesday was something she just could not bear.

“MEOW!” she screamed louder still.

Need I tell you the rest? How I shuffled back to the kitchen, shoulders stooped…..a defeated man? How I again cleaned the serving tray, opened a new can of their ‘breakfast’ food, put it on two, new plates and served it next to their ‘around-the-clock’ tray?

Fortunately this was just one small skirmish; a slight blip on the radar screen of our daily lives. And, I’m pretty proud to say, it’s been months now and Tuesday and Wednesday have never tried that particular trick again. Every morning since that day, we’ve gone back to our regular routine. In this apartment, these cats know who’s the boss.