Human nature will prevail (this time)

I’ve always said that there are too many humans on earth and that no matter what we humans do or what we build, nature always wins. I see more and more wildlife out my window than I have in the past. There are more squirrels and birds than ever visiting my back yard. I attribute this to the lack of people.

Most of us are familiar with the Colosseum in Rome, Italy. This was built from stone and concrete but has disintegrated to the ruins we now know.  There are several places where we can find the ruins of ancient civilizations like Stonehenge, Pompeii, Easter Island and the Acropolis.

The fleeting impact of the human species was demonstrated to me again very recently. I had a wheelchair ramp installed in my back yard. Even though we live in the city, we saw one of the indigenous wild life in my neighborhood, a rabbit, checking out the ramp one afternoon. When I was coming home from a doctor’s visit the next day, the same rabbit shot out from underneath the ramp. The rabbit gave me a look that said “What the hack are you doing on the roof of my new home?” Apparently this was where they lived now.

People have been trying to control nature since the beginning of time. Occasionally it is by building a dam to create a lake for hydroelectric generation or for a reservoir. We may construct seawalls or break waters to keep waves from washing away beaches and homes and the buildings we live in. The reason for these efforts is to allow people to live wherever they want.

Rabbits aren’t the only “wild animals” that have invaded our yard. We have had three skunks, 2 raccoons and 2 opossums visit us over the years. We even saw four deer walking down the middle of our street early one morning and then we have the squirrels. There seems to be a squirrel invasion this year. However our yard isn’t the only place that nature has invaded. We’ve had a couple of mice and bats in our house in the past.

We presently have 2 spiders, named Bob and Bobbette, which live in our bedroom. They are very respectful and maintain social distancing. They live on our ceiling, sleep all day and wander about at night. One of the high points of my morning is finding out where they are hiding every day. (Man, am I bored by this self-imposed quarantine).

We now see wild animals invading cities worldwide.  There are deer wandering the urban streets of Japan, wild turkeys In Oakland, Calif., a herd of deer was spotted resting in a housing development in Harold Hill, Romford, England. Wild boar have also been seen in parts of Paris and puma were seen walking around the streets of Santiago, Chile.

Human beings have always tried to control nature and one of the ways we have done this includes the conquering of disease. Smallpox came to North America in the 1600s and we survived that. A century ago, the Spanish flu caused a staggering 20-50 million deaths worldwide and we survived that. In 1793 there was a Yellow Fever outbreak and we survived that. The first major polio epidemic in the United States started in 1916 and reached its peak in 1952 and we survived that.

It’s this lesson that we should learn from the current corona virus pandemic. We should try to utilize as much scientific knowledge and expertise as we can to defeat this. That’s what public health measures are all about, and such efforts are as old as human society itself. Disease control has improved dramatically with the progress of modern medicine. We can learn from the efforts of other countries to flatten the curve and act on that knowledge as quickly and efficiently as possible, but the virus will still be here. Our older population will still be in danger and all of us will be at elevated risk. Our schools and shops have to be kept closed and our public spaces kept deserted until this is eradicated. The economic outcome and its ultimate toll in lives and the economy due to this pandemic remains unknown but I think the stock market is going to tank, wiping out trillions of dollars in wealth and some businesses will close permanently. Once this is over, it is going to be a different world than we once knew.

Again, I am no one special. I am not an expert but I am going to do my part. I am going to stay home. I am only buying the toilet paper I need, I am only buying the food I need. I have complete faith humanity will survive. There is hope for human survival after all. Human nature will prevail. I hope that when we reach the “new normal” the world will be a kinder, gentler place.

Norb is a resident of Lockport. If you want to visit him, you will have to talk with him through a closed window much like a prison visit.


National Vietnam War Veterans Day

National Vietnam War Veterans Day is observed on Sunday, March 29, 2020. The  Vietnam War Commemoration Honors U.S. Armed Forces personnel with who served in the military between November 1, 1955 to May 15, 1975, regardless of location of service. This totaled nine million Americans that served during that time.

The United States withdrew active troops from Vietnam in 1973 after the Paris Peace Accords were signed, however, U.S. involvement in the Vietnam War did not end until the fall of Saigon, April 30, 1975.

The Vietnam War took the lives of over 58,000 American service members and wounded in excess of 150,000. For the people who served during Vietnam and survived the indescribable horrors, coming home had its own kind of distress. Some veterans say that they were called “baby killers”, others were spit on. Vietnam veterans were met with absolutely none of the ceremony and received none of the benefits that were given other veterans. Because of this, I felt unappreciated and it took me several years to discuss my service during this difficult time in US history.

When I got out of the Navy in the early 70’s, I needed a home for my young family. After a bit of looking, I found a place for us. As a veteran, I was promised a VA guaranteed mortgage to buy a home. So I filled out all the appropriate paper work, attached a copy of my DD-214 and applied for one. Shortly thereafter I received a nice letter confirming that due to my service, and honorable discharge, I was eligible for the VA mortgage.

After a bit more time, I received a letter from the VA that said the house I was interested in was worth what I was going to pay. Whoo Hoo, second hurtle cleared. A week later I opened my mail and read that my VA loan was rejected. That’s all it said. No explanation why.

So I called the VA to ask just what the heck (not the word I used) was going on. They looked up my file and told me I hadn’t been at my present job for 12 months. I very politely replied (not so politely) that I had just gotten out of the service a few months ago and had a job within a week of getting home. I told them they can shove their program where the sun don’t shine.

For many veterans, the impact of the war carried over to civilian life. Approximately one third of veterans said that they had difficulty paying their bills shortly after leaving the service and around thirty percent say they had received unemployment compensation during the transition. Twenty percent said that they struggled with alcohol or substance abuse shortly after their discharge.

A few years after I tried to get a mortgage, my daughter was having a medical problem. The doctors thought she had bone cancer in her leg. Unfortunately, I was between jobs and had no medical insurance at the time. Once again I reached out to the VA and explained my situation. Their answer was not quite what I had wanted. It boiled down to the fact that I was S.O.L. (Sorry, Out of Luck, what did you think I meant?)

Every year, the U.S. military enlists around 175,000 young Americans and they promise to take care of those who serve. Today, this promise is upheld in the moral code of each branch of the service. Members of the U.S. Army, Navy, Air Force, Marines, and Coast Guard pledge to never leave a fallen comrade behind.

After their discharge, the Department of Veterans Affairs is charged with fulfilling this very same promise on behalf of a grateful nation. The problem, however, is that many veterans have difficulty accessing these programs. The Department of Veterans Affairs has estimated that 107,000 veterans are homeless in the United States every night. In my opinion, just one homeless veteran is too many.

At one time, I needed a medical device due to my having cancer. I read that the VA supplied these to veterans, so I called them. I asked the person who answered the phone if they did in fact supply these. An easy question that required an easy answer, yes or no. This person said they could not tell me over the phone but if I would fill out some paperwork that they would send me, they could give me an answer. When the paperwork arrived, there were pages of questions to answer. I also wanted a copy of my DD-214, just to get an answer to my question. All I needed was a simple answer.

We owe veterans more than just a handshake and a slap on the back. Congress and the next administration needs to fix the existing VA system and take the necessary steps to make sure that our U.S. military veterans receive the support and care that they deserve

I think it is time for the U.S. government to honor the promise they made to our veterans. As a veteran, I fulfilled my side of the contract and I think it is their turn to keep theirs… or give me back my four years.

Norb is a proud navy veteran. Who chased Russian subs during his tour of duty.

“All the lonely people, where do they all come from?” The Beatles, 1966

Like many people my age, I have medical and mobility issues. This causes me to spend time alone. However I am among the fortunate few who lives with a partner. Donna, my wife, loves cooking for us and she is an excellent cook but it seems every time she does we have enough food for 3-4 meals so I try to take her out as much as possible. While we were out to breakfast one morning, I saw that of all the occupied tables, half of them had just one person eating at them. This made me sad.

Old age can bring about changes that contribute to a more isolated life. One of my biggest problems is my social circle shrinks more and more the older I get. My friends and family members move away or pass on and I left the workforce. I no longer have the daily interaction with coworkers. I know we all promise to stay in touch with those that retire before us, but who among us really does? I know I have lost touch with all of my work “friends”.

Whatever the cause of loneliness it can lead to depression and a serious decline in physical health and wellbeing.

Even for those people who still live near to me, it may be difficult to see them due to limited mobility, particularly for seniors who cannot drive. Changes in one’s physical health due to age like hearing loss or impaired vision makes it seem like it is not worth the effort anymore. Embarrassment might also be a cause of isolation.

Seniors might suffer from incontinence, are on oxygen therapy or need to use a mobility aid like a cane or a walker to get around. These logistical challenges makes it difficult or uncomfortable to leave home, but people must overcome feeling embarrassed about these noticeable signs of aging.

Many elderly people feel like they have been “pushed to the side” and forgotten about. This is particularly true for families that have spread out across the country and have a hard time scheduling visits and even phone calls. It’s important to remember loneliness can affect anyone, of any age. Even when a senior is being assisted by a family member, there is frequently little attention given to having a deep and engaging conversation between the senior and the rest of thier family.

Yes, I have experienced loneliness and it is depressing. I am a social person but I seldom see anyone other than my wife. Everyone seems to be too busy to worry about us. Few people come to visit us or help us out.  My poor wife had to shovel the snow herself all this year. I have conversations with the bible thumpers that ring my bell. After a bit they look at each other and slowly start to back up.

However, I have seen a trend recently with small restaurants and a few fast food places offering communal tables. The most noticeable one I visited recently was a small store front eatery called Tina’s Place in Sanborn, New York. They had individual tables along either side and a long table up the middle seating at least a dozen people.

As we ate, I noticed there was a constant turn over at this table with seats filling up as soon as they were empty. It seemed that everyone knew everyone else at the table and many seniors along with people of all ages were seated at this table. The conversation from this table was lively and spirited and by the few snippets that I heard it covered a multitude of subjects. What an excellent way to maintain friendships and make a few new ones.

There are ways for people to combat loneliness. I grab every chance I can to begin a conversation with a stranger like the cashier at the store or the person sitting next to me in the doctor’s waiting room. My wife says I can hold a conversation with a mugger. Try asking people about themselves. People love talking about themselves.

If you’re feeling alone, it’s very tempting to think nobody wants to visit you. But often friends, and family don’t want to bother you. So make that call or send that text and invite them over. However, chatting with a friend or relative over the phone can be almost as good as being with them. My wife used to call her aged mother every day. It only took a few minutes and made her feel valued.

Older people are particularly susceptible to loneliness and social isolation and it can have serious effects on their health. Older people say that they sometimes go for over a month without speaking to a friend, neighbor or family member.

While several cultures value their elders, America is one of the countries in the world where their senior citizens are frequently ignored and forgotten. We put them in group homes and let strangers look after them. We must change this. Mom and Dad selflessly took care of you, it’s time to return that favor.

Living better with Niagara Hospice

I recently spent eight days in ENH due to pneumonia and was sent home with a bottle of oxygen. Once I arrived home, I had an in home oxygen generator delivered and set up. I was now virtually house bound due to my difficulty in going up and down the steps to get into my home. I was limited in the amount of time I could be away from my home due to needing oxygen bottles whenever I went out.

My best friend suggested I call Niagara Hospice. It was a hard decision. I hesitated calling them because I thought that meant I was giving up. I would never give up!

My last experience with Hospice was when my father in law passed away from cancer. Since then, Niagara Hospice has changed their focus. Niagara Hospice has evolved since then to meet the increasing needs of the seriously ill and their families. Their goal is to prevent and ease suffering, reduce hospitalizations and trips to the ER, all while improving quality of life. All this is provided at no additional costs to eligible patients

Honestly, the only reason I even considered it was to help make my care easier for my wife. I thought by having someone else helping with my care, she could take it a little bit easier.

There are several criteria for Hospice to provide palliative care. They include cancer, whether or not the patient is undergoing active treatment with radiation or chemotherapy, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), congestive heart failure (CHF), progressive neurological disorders, advanced Alzheimer’s disease or other dementia, repeated hospitalizations or emergency room visits, breathing problems, depression and exhaustion, sleeping problems or fatigue and late-stage illnesses. I qualified with my COPD, cancer and repeated emergency room visits.

I first called Hospice on Tuesday morning, January 21st. By that afternoon a social worker and an intake nurse arrived at my home. We talked and they evaluated me for their program. By that afternoon they called to tell me I was eligible. That Friday my assigned nurse came over for meet and greet and to get a baseline assessment.

During the first week, a United States military veteran appeared at my door. He brought me a nice, framed certificate from Hospice thanking me for my service. We swapped war stories for a while before he left. A spiritual care counselor also came over to discuss any religious issues or life concerns

On January 28th, an aide showed up to help me with my personal care. She now comes twice a week to assist me with that.

On Wednesday, January 29th I called Hospice because I thought I had a Deep Vein Thrombosis. I have had these before and knew how they felt. Hospice called Buffalo Ultrasound and by noon they showed up with a portable Doppler machine. They verified my suspicion. A script was called in that day and I was started on blood thinners.

On January 30th, I woke up very early in the morning and something just didn’t feel right. I was restless and couldn’t sleep. I felt the oxygen coming out of the nose piece was less than usual. Donna, my wife traced the hose looking for problems. She found a hose that was kinked on the tank that put humidity into the oxygen stream. I had her unkink it and the proper flow was recovered. Because it was 4:30 in the morning I had her wrap the hose with painter’s tape to strengthen it and prevent another kink. Due to the fact it was so early and we had temporarily solved the problem, I waited till later to call. In the morning, we called Hospice to tell them the problem. My nurse contacted the oxygen concentrator company and they arrived later that morning to replace the hose.

That afternoon, being a Thursday, my nurse came for her regularly assigned visit. She tried to flush my port but had difficulty. After 2 tries, she called her office to schedule “the expert”. The next day, another nurse came over and was successful.

Over that weekend, I developed a rash on my leg. I called my nurse on Monday and she came right out to look at it. She called my primary care physician who also came over after his office hours to diagnose the problem. It was decided it was a reaction to some medication. Steroids were called into my pharmacy to combat this reaction. It seems to me that every “cure” comes with it’s own set of problems.

I am now visited by a regularly scheduled social worker who comes over to check on me and see if I have any concerns.

Each and every Hospice representative I met was helpful, respectful and sensitive to my needs and wants. I truly appreciate their attitude and concern. They always have a smile on their face and are very responsive when we call. It seems to me that they are working for Hospice because they really are concerned and it is not just a job. They seem like friends we have had for a long time.

Paper or Plastic?

The recent decision by New York State to prohibit single-use plastic bags from retail stores makes it an ideal time to reexamine one of my favorite environmental quandaries. Plastic grocery bags were developed as a substitute for paper bags in the late 1970s. It was promoted as a way to save trees and prevent the cutting down of our forests.

The opinion that paper is superior to plastic for the environment is not really based on science or fact. It is based on misunderstandings about the way that plastic bags are made, how a landfill works and the assumption that non-biodegradable products are bad for the planet. 

But what about cotton bags? According to, they must be reused thousands of times before they equal the environmental performance of plastic bags. The Denmark researchers note that organic cotton is even worse than conventional cotton in relation to environmental impact. According to the article, organic cotton bags must be reused more times than conventional cotton bags based on the assumption that organic cotton has a 30% lower yield rate per acre than conventional cotton, and therefore was presumed to require up to 30% more resources like water, to grow the same amount. Everything we do, every bag, whether plastic, paper or cotton, has some kind of an impact on the environment.

But plastic bags are reusable. Some of the ways I reuse plastic grocery bags are as trash can liners, item storage and storing paint brushes for use the following day so they don’t dry out. With this ban, I will be forced to buy plastic bags for these purposes. So the ban on plastic bags will not reduce my use of plastic bags and will in fact create more waste and cost me money.

The discussion over the environmental impact of paper versus plastic has led to a number of life cycle assessment studies in Europe and North America. These evaluations show that regular plastic bags are much safer for the ecosystem than paper bags are.

In 2011, an Irish government research paper said that “it takes more than four times as much energy to manufacture a paper bag as it does to manufacture a plastic bag.” According to research, the manufacturing process also produces a greater amount of toxic chemicals when compared to making single-use plastic bags.

The Ontario Ministry of the Environment collected data that tracked the province’s plastic bag reduction program. It shows a 59.1% rate in the reduction in the use of plastic shopping bags. The United Kingdom’s Environmental Agency did a study of paper supermarket bags and found that they contribute three times as much to global warming than plastic shopping bags do.

A published Life Cycle Assessment, from EcoBilan, a division of Price Coopers Waterhouse, shows that in their manufacture, paper bags consumes over xxx times more energy than the manufacture of plastic bags. They also said that paper bag manufacture consumes over four times more water than the manufacture of plastic bags. Many studies agree that paper bags carry a substantial environmental impact in their manufacture that is not seen with plastic bags.

It is not easy to reuse paper bags because they have a tendency to tear and they get soggy when they get wet. Paper grocery bags are heavier than plastic bags. The typical plastic shopping bag weighs 0.28 ounces whereas a standard, 20 pound, Kraft paper, grocery bag weighs over 1¾ ounces. The largest and most significant result of changing from plastic to paper grocery bags will be the additional amount of volume and weight that paper bags will add to the solid waste stream. This additional amount will include a significant increase in the volume of greenhouse gas emissions that are generated to transport it to the landfills.

Plastic bags also play an unseen role in the conservation of the planet. In Canada, plastic bags are made from the ethane that is usually burned off during the natural gas refining process. Burning off this gas as opposed to using it to manufacture plastic bags also adds to the greenhouse gas in our atmosphere.

It takes only one truck to carry two million plastic bags but seven trucks to ship the same number of paper bags. The contrasts connected to plastic and paper strongly indicates why banning plastic bags won’t help. We are merely swapping one problem for another.

 Case in point, in 2006, Taiwan rescinded a ban on plastic bags in their fast food sector. The ban led to an increase in the use of paper bags with a substantial increase in waste management costs and greenhouse gas emissions. Nothing is without a downside.

To be honest, a plastic bag doesn’t create very many problems just sitting in a landfill. The problem comes about when people don’t throw away their bags appropriately and the bags end up flying around in the wild, obstructing waterways and becoming a threat to wildlife. Rather than banning plastic bags, maybe we just should take personal responsibility and dispose of them properly. It is a shame that the government has to pass laws to get us to do what we should.

An offer I couldn’t refuse: Chapter Two

Tony kept asking me to spend a weekend working down there and I kept refusing. Finally I told him it would be a while because I wanted to bring Donna, my wife, with me to see New York City and I needed to save up for plane fare and a nice hotel room. His reply was that he would pay for her plane fare and the hotel. My answer was how about next week?

On the flight down, I introduced Donna to all of the flight attendants. As we talked with them, I mentioned that Donna was involved in the planning for a bridal shower and asked if I could get some of their clear plastic on the rocks glasses. One of them said sure. They left and when they came back, they had two sleeves of glasses and a huge pile of napkins.

Donna didn’t like flying and was quite relieved when we landed. My hands were glad that the blood flow returned to them also. Nico and his girlfriend, Mia, picked us up at the airport and took us to the plant. I think Donna was further traumatized when she saw where I was working. While Nico and I worked Mia and Donna went shopping at a local mall. They also went for a visit to Mia’s parents house

After the day’s work was done, Nico took us to our hotel to drop off our luggage. Then we went on a night time, tour of New York. The first thing we hit was Chinatown where we went up a narrow stairway to a Chinese restaurant on the second floor.  We had an enjoyable meal and even though it was the very first time I used them, I turned out to be very proficient using chopsticks.

After dinner we went on a tour of the city. We went on the Stanton Island Ferry. And saw the Statue of Liberty. We ended up in the Bowery where a person “washed” our windshield by spitting on it and wiping it off with an old dirty rag. He then wanted a tip for this “service”. We also saw the Empire State Building. After our tour, we returned to our room and had a good night’s sleep. It was a long day.

 In the morning, Nico picked us up and we went back to Tony’s place for another day’s work where I picked up my pay for the weekend. Donna waited in the office anxious to get on the plane for the trip back home.

Once we were done for the day, we went back to the airport and flew home. Donna still didn’t like flying and my hands got crushed all the way back to Buffalo. Two weeks before the birth of my son, I finished my assignment with Tony and thought we were though. I was mistaken.

Shortly after that I got a call from Tony and he asked me to design some new acetators for him. We negotiated a price and I started drawing plans. I had studied Machine Design and Construction in school and actually had 5 years of drafting experience. I spent many nights at the kitchen table making several pages of drawings for him.

About a month later he called and told me he wanted me to work full time for him running a few of his businesses. By now I thought this was not a man you told no to and I didn’t want to be around when Mattia had to do his real job so I tried to set up a few roadblocks. I also didn’t want to be owned by this man and didn’t want to be put in a situation where he would ask me to take a “package” across town for him.

First off I told him that I had a young family and I needed to have medical insurance. His answer was that any medical bills I got I would give them to him and he would pay them in full. Damn. Next I told him I needed to find a place for us to live. He told me he had just the right house for us that he would get for me. He told me I could walk out my back door and I would be on the beach.

Running out of excuses I told him that I would need to move my stuff and would have to hire a moving company. I was scraping the bottom of the barrel for excuses.  He said not to worry. He had a friend in the moving business that would bring my stuff to my new home. He also said if I needed any more furniture, he would buy it for me.

I had one more roadblock left. I told him I liked where I was living and all of my family lived in Western New York. I expected another counter offer but he said he understood. That family was very important.

I never heard from him again. Up until now I haven’t told this story to anyone but a few close friends and family but I think that now, 45 years later, everyone involved was dead from one reason or another and it was safe to tell.

Norb is a writer from Lockport that has lived a very interesting life.

An offer I couldn’t refuse: Chapter One

I am sure most of us have taken on a few “side hustles” to make a bit of extra money beyond their regular job. I have had several of them from running my own handyman business for 35 years to helping Donna, my wife, run her bath products business that sold her lotions, potions and soaps internationally. But the most unusual side job ever I had involved working in place in New Jersey. I am not really sure what to call it because it wasn’t a factory, retail establishment or plant. I’ll leave what to call it up to you. I have changed the names to protect the innocent (me) but all relevant facts are true.

The adventure started in 1974. We had just recently found out my wife was pregnant with our third child and I was sitting on my couch with my family watching television when my phone rang. When I answered I heard this Marlon Brando, Godfather sounding voice on the other end.

“Hello, this is Tony Colombo” the voice said. “I hear you are pretty good at building acetators. I have three German made machines that I bought three years ago. They are all disassembled and sitting in my building on pallets and I can’t find anyone to assemble these. Do you think you can do it?’

First off, I was flattered that my reputation had proceeded me. I told Tony that I had no idea but if he was willing to pay me a generous wage and pay all my expenses I was willing to fly down and take a look. I love a good challenge.

The following weekend I flew to Newark airport where he had one of “nephews”, Nico, pick me up and drive me to his place of business. It was a typical slummy building in a slummy part of town. Steel doors no windows etc.

We parked in an alley and Nico let me in to the dark, dingy, musty smelling building. When he flipped on the lights it didn’t look much better. He took me down a short flight of stairs and showed me a pile of pieces that reminded me of a bowl full of elbow macaroni.

The only documentation they had was a German language, operator’s manual. Fortunately it had good illustrations because the only German I knew was the swear words my father would say when he was mad. None of these words were in the manual.

As I was assessing what I had gotten myself into Tony arrived with his driver, Mattia. Mattia came in first and did a quick sweep of the area before Tony came in. Tony shook my hand and asked me if I thought I could help him. I told him I wasn’t sure but if he was willing to give me a chance, I would try.

In our discussions, Nico told me that just because Tony socialized with organized crime figures, that didn’t mean he was a member of these families.

Thus began a nine month undertaking to build these machines. Every Sunday, I would go to Buffalo International Airport for an early flight to Newark. I went so often that my daughters told everyone that I worked at the airport on the weekends.

I flew so often that I got to know all the flight attendants and would have my first cup of coffee before we even took off. I felt like a rock star. There were a few times when I was the only passenger on the Boeing DC-9 aircraft. One time, as they were serving me my morning Danish, I asked what they did with the leftovers. The stewardess answered they threw them out. I handed her my carryon bag and told her to fill it up.

Every Sunday, Nico would pick me up at the airport and take me to the plant. He was my chauffeur and my helper. He was also my cook. He would take some football shaped rolls and cut them in half and rip the soft center out. Nico would then fry up some eggs with peppers and onions to stuff inside. Good lunch.

One day we were working on the second floor, setting up some tanks, when I looked out the window into the next building. The buildings were so close together that I could have closed their windows. There was a hooker there plying her trade. Nico said it happens all the time. Yeah it was that kind of neighborhood. I would call it a slum but that would be an insult to all the other slums in the world.

We worked hard assembling these machines and at the end of the day I would retrieve my pay and money for the next week’s airfare from a file cabinet. Cash, always cash. There were also other things in this cabinet. I discovered that there were three businesses listed as running from this site. There was a concrete and masonry supply company, and a restaurant equipment supply company. I don’t know where all the goods were stored for these companies because there was none of this where I was at.

I also discovered a copy of his annual net worth and it showed that he owned a home in Palm Springs Florida. The furnishings in this home were worth more than everything I owned. I also found out he was a board member of several banks. Yeah I am a snoop. Man, was this guy rich.

Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year. (Merry Sickness and a Happy Penu-monia)

Life is filled with ironies. It was strange having an article published on Christmas Day about how much I enjoyed our traditions around the holidays. Odd that this would be in the paper seeing that December 2019 was one of the worst Decembers I have ever had. You see on December 19th I had a bad reaction to Benadryl that I was given via my chemo port.

My right hand started twitching and shortly afterward my left hand joined in. Soon my legs started and finally I was flopping around in the recliner I was sitting in like a fish out of water. If I would have had the foot rest down, I swear I would have ended up on the floor. When the nurse came over, there was a look of panic on her face. She stopped the Benadryl drip immediately and started a saline flush. Then my Oncologist came over and told me that he had been practicing over 30 years and had never seen anyone have an adverse reaction to Benadryl, an antihistamine used to relieve symptoms of an allergic reaction.

They called for an intensive care ambulance that took me to Millard Fillmore Suburban Hospital where they gave me a cat scan of my brain to see if the twitching could have been caused by my cancer metastasizing in that area, but the scan didn’t show any. They also x-rayed my lungs to check for Pneumonia.  Again all clear. We got home from Millard Fillmore Suburban late that night.

Then on December 24th, I went to ENH (Eastern Niagara Hospital). You know you have been to the hospital too much when you go to sign in and the person at the admissions desk knows your name. I was diagnosed with pneumonia and admitted. I spent 8 days flat on my back with an IV and oxygen shoved up my nose. I missed the Christmas Eve family celebrations and the Christmas Day get-togethers that I love so much.

Finally, on January first, I was released to go home. I am now walking around dragging a blue hose that is hooked up to an oxygen machine and am now limited to living in just the downstairs of my home.

Eastern Niagara Hospital has filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection, according to hospital officials. We are so blessed to have a small local hospital right here in our community. I understand that they are having trouble overcoming a number of the financial burdens that were incurred over the past ten years. I hope they are able to emerge from this without closing.  

According to, hospitals have been closing at a rate of about 30 a year. In every year since 2011, more hospitals have closed than opened.

 I will say that each and every one of the staff members at ENH were professional, pleasant and took the time to explain everything to me.  Many of the nurses, aides etc. knew me from previous visits and even when they weren’t assigned to me, they would stop by just to say hi.

I would mess with dietary by taking components from other dishes and combining them to make a new dish not on the menu. One breakfast I had them make me a breakfast sausage sandwich by combining a bulky roll, a sausage patty, a fried egg and a slice of cheese. Bam! New meal “off the menu”.

For dinner they offered pasta with grilled chicken or meatballs. I had them put down a bed of Rotini, a couple of smashed meat balls, a layer of cottage cheese, a slice of provolone cheese and some Marinara sauce on top “Deconstructed Lasagna”. It was good.

Dietary finally got even with me though one day. I ordered 2 pancakes, 3 syrup and a chocolate milk for breakfast, making a remark about a 5 year old’s breakfast. When I lifted the lid, there they were, Mickey Mouse pancakes. This made my day.

Some rural hospital closures are strategic decisions that are the result of mergers and acquisitions but others are caused by the inability to stay profitable says I have been to a few large hospitals and a few small “rural” ones and it seemed like you were just a number at the big hospitals. Patients who live far from major cities might be left with even fewer hospital choices says the American Hospital Association.

One of the reasons I bought my house where I did was because the hospital is only a half block away from me. If you look out the back of ENH you can see my home.  This has worked out quite well for me. Whenever I would injure myself at home, I would just walk over to the ER.

If ENH closes, I would have to drive 16 miles (or about 30 minutes according to to get to Millard Fillmore Suburban. Even if I was to cut this time in half by taking an ambulance, a lot of bad stuff can happen in 15 minutes.

Baby its Cold 0utside

Holiday .
The song ‘Baby, It’s Cold Outside” ‘ is seen as In the current era, and is being banned by some radio stations. The radio stations have stopped playing that classic song because it has lyrics that suggest rather than proposing an innocent situation of while being snow bound. SMH.
As long as we are eliminating everything that could offend the , I have a few more suggestions.
I think we should ban “ ” by Bing Crosby because this might offend people. We also need to eliminate “ Is in the Winter Night” by Enya” and “The World of Winter” by Bing Crosby for the same reason.
There are many, many songs that reference that should be forbidden because many religions in . They have their own . In fact the very name should not be permitted just because of the part. This word might offend the people, the . The . The and the followers of .
Now I see that there some “ ” movies that people want to ban. The first of which comes to mind is the classic Rankin/Bass holiday offering “Rudolph the Red Nosed Reindeer.” They want to ban this because an throws the out of the sleigh even though mentioned that . Then there is that with , the deer who are towards Rudolph, the dentist and the toys from The Island of Toys.
While we are at it let’s look at a few more Christmas classics. We have “A Story”. It’s just not in America unless there’s a hungry child in a marathon. And how about washing your mouth out with ? Oh fudge, that is ! But was the norm back then. I am old enough to have this myself. Good times.
Then we have the movie “How the Stole ”. I think it is very insensitive to call him a . Clearly he has . Notice isn’t there even one person in all of Whoville. Then be aware of the fact that they didn’t actually accept the until he gives everyone presents! Looks like to me. And what about making that poor wear a heavy antler and pulling that giant sleigh. Someone call .
The movie “ ” features, , and a father his son. “Frosty the Snow ” has the magician Professor Hinkle attempting to Frosty by him in a greenhouse where Frosty is .
“Home ” is about a who is accidently home during the holidays by when the rest of his family goes to Europe. I think being by your parents is a bit of a problem.
I see that some people are trying to prohibit all related symbols in the schools and have suggested a ban on a list of themed items in the hopes of being inclusive and culturally sensitive to all of the students.
A list of the suggested items would include the singing of . Even the on the is on the hit list because that’s a related symbol. I think some people are spending more time working on these lists than they are taking time trying to understand diversity.
We now can’t see scenes on governmental land due to “the separation of church and state” activists. Wal-Mart has switched its banners to “Happy Holidays” from ” “. It is Wal-Mart’s and other retailer’s participation in the moneymaking side of that is the real attack on this beloved holiday. One more time, the have co-opted a cultural tradition that most have enjoyed.
Enough is enough! I think I am old enough to decide on my own which movies I watch and which music I listen to. I love watching the old movies and listening to the old songs. I love sharing them with my grandchildren. I will always wish you a no matter who you are or what you believe. is the Holiday I celebrate. If you want to respond or because that’s what you celebrate, I promise not to be offended in fact I may respond in kind with your religious preference. I welcome your heritage as well as my own. Instead of us getting offended by each other, why don’t we just try to get along? This is supposed to be the season of peace on earth and good will towards men no matter what you believe, not the season of hate and discontent.
In closing, I will wish you a , Happy , Happy or a season, whatever works for you, from my home to yours.
Norb has a blog at you can follow there

Never let the facts get in the way of a good opinion

We all have opinions about things and if it weren’t for them, I wouldn’t have very much to write about. We typically have an assortment of personal feelings. They can be formed with a complete lack of logic or reason that facts can never penetrate.

The process of repeatedly passing information from person to person can result in the unintentional formation of our beliefs. Our minds are hard-wired to categorize information and create mental shortcuts. This helps us to organize knowledge using a minimum of mental effort. It also provides us with a needed sense of structure to cope with an otherwise messed up world.

There are the famously opinionated “Monday morning quarterbacks” who will analyze every game and every play. They will tell you what the local sports team did wrong and how they would have played it. We have the Trump supporters and those that think he should be impeached. We also have the people that are religious and that know they are in the one faith that will get you to Jannah, Nirvana, Canaan, Elysium or whatever you call Heaven. Never argue with these people because it is a waste of time.

From time to time we might ask other people about their stance on an issue even if we don’t agree with them. Forming new beliefs to add to the ones you already have might interest you. Of course this doesn’t mean you can’t change your mind. Changing your outlook is a sign of personal growth, having an open mind and the willingness to see other sides of an issue.

The sound of two opposing thoughts clashing can be very exciting. This can cause the development of intense debates in a frantic attempt to support your own existing philosophies. In my humble opinion, it seems very unlikely that there will ever be a shortage of opinions because most people have at least one well founded viewpoint based on personal experience plus four or five others about things they know absolutely nothing about. This is evident whenever you hear a person watching the Bills on television, offering a bar stool assessment on who should coach the team and how.  

I question all the opinions I now hear. Whenever I hear a new one, I handle it with skepticism, I check to see where it came from and listen it to see if it is ticking before I open it. Once it appears there is no problem, I fact check it and if it fails, I file the view point in the circular filing cabinet.

Working out which ideas are worthy of consideration and which are outright lies is now a full-time job as “fake news” is now used to undermine many assumptions. If the theory promoted seems to be from someone who has some expertise in the subject I will listen.

Convictions can be dangerous and having an incorrect belief might ruin your reputation. Voicing your opinion at the wrong time can also make you appear foolish. The old adage attributed to Abraham Lincoln goes, “It’s better to remain silent and be thought a fool than to speak out and remove all doubt,” and that seems to still hold true today.

However, when you hide your convictions to yourself, this can actually be more harmful than expressing them. As a matter of fact, opposing ideas are what fuel forward motion. Stating your opinion might make you appear more confident. Confidence never has been a bad thing to have.

A common reason that people may hold back on their thoughts is the thinking that their conviction doesn’t matter or that they won’t be listened to. For example, if a person is troubled by a new company policy, they could hold their tongue because they think that they will be labeled a troublemaker. Nevertheless, you may have a valid point. If you speak up, you might make a difference.

Even if your point of view isn’t taken seriously, what you mentioned can still encourage an important debate.  The argument you make may not have been thought of up until then. If you offer a possible solution it may still be decided that your idea isn’t worth investigating. But your opinion might encourage some new perspectives about the subject. Discussion frequently precedes results and the more thoughts that are promoted in a discussion the better and quicker you might see results.

If you’re wrong, you’re wrong. Perhaps your outlook is invalid, or that you think that there’s something “off” about it. If you want to find out just state it. The other people around you will let you know. If you are wrong admit it and don’t beat a dead horse. None of us is perfect.

You might express what everyone else is thinking but just too afraid to say. Occasionally people are afraid to state their views because they don’t think they are valid. If you voice your position, you might just present an idea that everyone can agree on.

But that’s just my opinion.