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The Future – Artificial General Intelligence or The GOD Machine

January 9th, 2017 by Michael Tabor

 

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So if we don’t destroy ourselves i.e nuclear war and barring some sort of cataclysmic  event such as a flood, volcano, climate change, an asteroid hitting us, etc. or anything else that might eliminate all life on this planet we can expect our species to continue to strive to make things better for ourselves –easier. What makes life better and easier? AUTOMATION. We will continue to automate (we already have the technology for self-driving cars, and many other things) and innovate. Driven by free markets and Profit incentives big corporations will continue to invest in Labor saving technology –i.e. machines that will create and produce better consumer goods and services at a faster and more efficient rate. In fact, these machines will replace all forms of human labor. No more horrible factory or assembly line jobs. No more drudgery. Indeed we will have a machine that makes the machines. And this machine will more than likely be powered by sunlight so we’re only dealing with the cost of raw materials. Eventually we will not only replace blue-collar jobs with these efficient labor- saving machines but also artistic and scientific jobs. Yes AI Or AGI (Artificial Intelligence or Artificial General Intelligence) The super wealth-generating machine, idea producing machine or whatever we call it will eradicate the need for people to work at all. After this entire AGI machine can do anything and everything better, faster and more efficiently than any human being. And it rarely if ever makes mistakes. There is of course the hacking possibility but that’s another rabbit hole I’ll discuss later in another blog.

Yes we will have in our possession the perfect oracle – a GOD if you will. To think this is not possible is to be shortsighted. Again, look at where we are today and understand that we are advancing technology at an EXPONENTIAL rate. The growth is not linear – every 18 months technological improvements with miniaturization lead to the doubling of everything we learned before. At that rapid speed, the GOD  machine is inevitable. The REAL key to all this is the fact that this device is intelligence that will be able to make refinements to itself . YEP –the system will be able to make changes to its own source code and get better and better at learning and more and more knowledgeable with instant access to all human and machine intelligence. Just picture thousands of years of research every second. The sum of all human and machine knowledge doubling every day. That is a           GOD.  We are talking about a device so extraordinary that even a Stephen Hawking will simply not have the brain power to have even an inkling of understanding of the power it wields. And now imagine the GOD machine doubling its intelligence every week AND making improvements and refinements at doing what it does. Even if it were limited and just able to reach human level intelligence and no more and it was just faster, its circuits would be a million times faster than any biological system –and again that’s an undersell. The machine will be able to provide unimaginable happiness and we will never be sad. We’ll all be gods and goddesses and each of us will have perfect health because the machine will have figured out how to eradicate disease. Yes it can make you a new heart – one that beats forever because after all we’ll have attained immortality (if we want it). Lastly, along with all this we will undoubtedly have the ability to not only clone or make a copy of ourselves, but also the ability to create whole worlds with other people who are conscious just like us. YES we will be able to simulate our world  and the rub is that the simulated people in this simulated world won’t know that they’re merely a simulation. And to get really spooky, the programmer or simulator of that world might also be a simulation in someone else’s simulated  universe ad infinitum – as they say “it’s turtles all the way down”.

 

So WhadaYaThink ? Where are we going with AI OR AGI ? Is the GOD Machine inevitable ? Do  you want it ?

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The Nursery Grime

June 1st, 2012 by Magdalena Tabor
Nursery rhymes. The charming, innocent, sing-song chantings of a by-gone era. Ah, maybe not so charming, and ever wonder why they’ve disappeared from the lips of modern day children? The answer lies in the verses themselves which dawned on me the other day with something of a shock. Who knows how the mind works, but a childhood rhyme buried, yet still lodged firmly in the recesses of my brain suddenly sprang to life, and when spoken aloud hit me on the head with the proverbial hammer. I began to dredge up other “harmless” rhymes that I found equally as horrifying. Then I did a little research and came up with the following information. See if you recognize some of them that your own unassuming self may have uttered once upon a time. Some of it could be fodder for a creepy horror flick. Others have political connotations of historical interest. All of it is very entertaining…..and not just for kids.
1) The Worms – Folk song originating in the 18th century during the Crimean campaign sung by British soldiers. There are various versions. Here’s one I partially recall:
“Did you ever see a hearse go by and think of the day that you might die. (memory lapse here)….The worms crawl in, the worms crawl out, into your stomach and out of your mouth”.
Really??? YUK. I can’t believe I sang that with a sweet little smile on my face. Of course it was accompanied by a rather catchy tune.
2) Ladybug, Ladybug – English origin circa 1744.
“Ladybug, ladybug, fly away home. Your house is on fire and your children will burn”.
Wow. Who dreamt that one up?
3) Ring Around The Rosie – This one originated as a result of the Bubonic Plague. When the disease was contracted, rose colored sores developed, around which rings would form. Posies (flowers) were carried to ward off the stench of the dead.  “Ashes” referred to the burning of the corpses to stop the spread of disease. “We all fall down” was due to the vast number of people that succumbed to the sickness. Here’s the delightful little ditty:
“Ring around the rosie. A pocketful of posie. Ashes, ashes. We all fall down”.
4) London Bridge Is Falling Down – Originated in England circa 1744, referencing the deterioration of the London Bridge built in 1176. “My fair lady” may be tied to Matilda of Scotland who was responsible for building a series of bridges, or perhaps linked with Eleanor of Provence who was in charge of bridge revenues.  I remember this game well…..two children held their hands high in order to form the arch of the bridge, while a group of other children walked around them. At a particular point, the arch would drop and one child would get trapped. Nothing scary here, just some good old fashioned fun:
“London Bridge is falling down, falling down, falling down. London Bridge is falling down, my fair lady. (Here’s where the arch drops entrapping the one kid who gets swayed back and forth). “Take the key and lock her up, lock her up, lock her up. Take the key and lock her up, my fair lady”.
5) Old Mother Hubbard – Exact origin and meaning disputed. English 1805.
“Old Mother Hubbard went to the cupboard to get her poor dog a bone. But when she got there, the cupboard was bare and so the poor dog had none”.
Listen Mother Hubbard, if you don’t get your act together and put that dog on a proper diet, we’ll remove him from the premises. And as for you, we’ll get you some Meals On Wheels.
6) Peter, Peter, Pumpkin Eater – USA 1825.
“Peter, Peter, pumpkin eater, had a wife but couldn’t keep her. Put her in a pumpkin shell and there he kept her very well”.
Clearly spousal abuse in it’s basest form. I think she should hook up with Cinderella and turn that pumpkin into a luxury coach, turn Peter into a footman.
7) Rock-A-Bye-Baby – English 1765. One theory is that the baby was the son of James VII who was smuggled into the birthing room to provide a Catholic heir.
“Rock-a-bye-baby, on the tree top. When the wind blows the cradle will rock.  When the bough breaks the cradle will fall. And down will come baby cradle and all”.
Guess he got found out, huh?
8. The Old Woman In A Shoe – England 1794. One possible reference is to Queen Caroline, the wife of King George II who had eight children.
“There was an old woman who lived in a shoe. She had so many children she didn’t know what to do. She gave them some broth without any bread. Then whipped them all soundly and put them to bed”.
She’d never get away with that now.
9) Three Blind Mice – England 1805. An earlier version of this refers to Queen Mary I for blinding and executing three Protestant bishops.
“Three blind mice. Three blind mice. See how they run. See how they run. They all ran after the farmer’s wife who cut off their tails with a carving knife. Did you ever see such a sight in your life as three blind mice?”
Again, another one for the animal rights advocates. Oh…….and what about the bishops? Whose advocating for them? Any volunteers?
So……..the next time you hear some kids singing what sounds like just some kids singing, listen closely to the words.
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Famous Couples

February 11th, 2012 by Magdalena Tabor

In observance of Valentine’s Day, I thought it might be fun to make mention of some of the world’s most famous sweethearts whose names are forever entwined, and in some cases have outlasted the relationship itself. They are not listed in any specific order for who’s to say who ranks higher in the couples department? They are, however, instantly recognizable, fictional or otherwise:

Liz and Burt

Anthony and Cleopatra

Hepburn and Tracy

Bogie and Bacall

Jackie and JFK

Marilyn and JFK

Monroe and Dimaggio

George and Martha

Abe and Mary

Bill and Hillary

John and Yoko

Paul and (Lovely) Linda

Lucy and Desi

Burns and Allen

Stiller and Meara

Stevie and Lindsay

Micky and Minnie

Napolean and Josephine

Nicholas and Alexandra

Ben and Jerry (oops! not that I know of anyway)

Victoria and Albert

William and Kate (aka the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge)

Charles and Camilla (aka the Duke and Duchess of Cornwall)

Ozzy and Sharon

Ozzie and Harriet

June and Ward

Sonny and Cher

Luke and Laura

Bonnie and Clyde

Mary and Joseph

Miss Piggy and Kermit (probably a rumor)

Santa and Mrs Claus

Lois Lane and Clark Kent

Mom and Dad

 

The list goes on and on……Happy Hearts and Flowers Day from whadawethink’s own Michael and Magdalena.

 

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I’ll Have That To Go

September 24th, 2011 by Magdalena Tabor
Imagine ordering the following meal:
Two Chicken Fried Steaks Smothered In Gravy With Sliced Onions
A Triple-Meat Bacon Cheeseburger
A Cheese Omelet
A Large Bowl Of Fried Okra With Ketchup
Three Fajitas
A Pint Of Blue Bell Ice Cream
A Pound Of BBQ With A Half Loaf Of White Bread
A Slab Of Peanut Butter Fudge With Crushed Peanuts
A Pizza
Three Root Beers
Sound like a lot to eat in one sitting? I can assure you, this was not an order of food for a group of people, but for one man who then decided he didn’t want it. Texas inmate, Lawrence Russell Brewer’s last meal was requested Wednesday, September 21st before he was executed by lethal injection for the dragging death of James Byrd Jr in 1998. Brewer was one of three involved in Byrd’s death and the first of two to be executed. John William King remains on death row while Shawn Allen Berry’s involvement as the driver of the vehicle used as the instrument of torture, was sentenced to life behind bars. The three men offered to drive Byrd home but instead he was derailed and taken to a remote country road where he was brutally beaten before being shackled by his ankles   to the bumper of a pick-up truck and dragged for three miles. Byrd died after his right arm and head were severed during the drive. They then dumped his body in front of an African American cemetery before attending a BBQ. The next morning authorites found 75 places littered with Byrd’s remains. The crime was racially motivated in that at least two of the killers were known white supremacists.
Why would a man who is sentenced to die for such a heinous act be extended the offer and served a meal of his choice? When hate is comprised of this man’s menu? When, in 13 years, he has suffered no remorse? The day before Brewer was executed, a Houston news station quotes him as saying, “As far as any regrets, no, I have no regrets. No, I’d do it all over again, to tell you the truth.”
Thank you, Senator John Whitmore, for having the common sense to spur the end of the last meal privilege to death row inmates in the state of Texas. If only the rest of the nation will follow this example. Think of it; at a time when this nation is so financially stressed, we are paying to take this guy (and countless others) out to dinner while depriving decent, law abiding, impoverished Americans the money to feed themselves and their families. And why, on God’s good earth, would we pay for dental to have convicted criminals eat their meals in the first place? Many Americans cannot afford the luxury of getting their teeth capped unless they go to prison.
Wake up, America. Don’t you hear the snickering behind your back? No, I believe the rest of the world is laughing outright in our faces. Time for a change. Let’s do away with the Happy Meal.
So……………..whadayathink? Should people be given extra privileges when incarcerated? Where do we draw the line in easing their comfort?

 

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9/11 – A City Silenced

September 9th, 2011 by Magdalena Tabor

I can’t believe it’s been 10 years. We had been living in our new home for

just a year. Taking the Long Island Railroad into Manhattan each day was still

a relatively new experience for me. Prior to then, I spent years riding the

subway into work. I guess you can say I’m a seasoned New Yorker. September

11th, 2001. It was the most beautiful September day. Noticeably so. I know it

sounds like a cliche but it was the kind of day that made you feel alive.

People still talk about how beautiful the day was. Picture the perfect day.

That was it.

 

 

I was sitting at my desk working (or about to. God, it was early) when I
got a phone call from my husband Michael. He said a plane had just crashed into

the World Trade Center. My initial

assumption was that a pilot of a small aircraft lost his bearings, making a

grave miscalculation in altitude. This was no accident, Michael replied. Call

it a gut feeling. Leave work, he said. Leave now. I didn’t. My office is in

midtown Manhattan. A few of us opened a window and if you leaned ever so

slightly in the direction of downtown, you could see it. A big gaping hole in

the tower. I remember thinking, “How are they ever going to fix

that?” Crowds began to gather outside. We walked up to the corner where a

clear cut view offered a broader perspective on the damage. There was billowing

smoke emanating from the hole. By the time we got back to the office, a second

plane had hit the other tower. By this time we knew the horror of it. We were

under attack. The city shut down. There was no way in. No way out. It was then

I realized that Manhattan is actually an island – that I was trapped – cut off

from the rest of the world. And all I wanted to do was get home. If only for

the last time.

 

 

One by one the towers collapsed. One minute they were there. We saw them.

Then they were gone. It seemed inconceivable. How could this happen? This was

the United States of America. New York City. Dangerous as it may seem at times,

things like this just didn’t happen. Oddly enough, I had always felt safe and

secure nestled within the cluster of tall buildings. Like familiar friends. My

home away from home. On the whole, New Yorkers are a tough bunch. You

inevitably become so. It’s fast paced. You need to keep up. But that day was

different. What struck me most about that day was experiencing the city as

never before. The city emptied its people out of every building, spilling them

out into the street. People everywhere, just standing. Enveloped in a kind of

shell shock. We were not so much individual persons, but a single living

organism brought together in solidarity. Were we scared? Very much so. Yet not

a syllable was spoken. What was heard was only the sound of sirens; scores of

fire trucks and police cars racing down 7th Avenue toward doom. Racing to their

deaths. I was witnessing their final frantic moments.

 

 

I made my way out of the city that day; several of us piling into a

co-worker’s brand new car. How he B&M’d (bitched and moaned) about it until

we all threatened to buy dripping ice cream cones. Finding levity even in the

face of disaster. A kind of balm. An equilibrium on our sanity. His was our

Army Jeep. Our ticket out. Intent on leaving war torn Manhattan behind.

Seemingly, incredibly, ours was the first vehicle to enter and leave the

Midtown Tunnel. There was absolutely no one on the road. Just us. Like

Armageddon. I turned to look back at the skyline behind us. At the empty sky

where the towers stood. There was billowing black smoke. Smoke that used to be

people. In the foreground was a huge billboard. The word P E A C E

spelled out in big block letters. That, the word “peace”, and the

eerie aftermath of silence, is most prevalent in my mind. That, and the empty

September sky.

 

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“I” is for Irene. “I” is for Imbeciles.

August 28th, 2011 by Magdalena Tabor

The wind is still gusting. I spent a sleepless night peering through the windows at the nightmare outside and staying glued to ominous news reports; and in between my vigil, a couple of cat naps. My makehift bed was situated on the ground floor of my home away from windows that may shatter glass my way, opting for a stiffened back come morning rather than lie dead in the upstairs bedroom resulting from a downed tree. Hurricane Irene was massive in scale – 500 miles in width; the size of the entire European continent and she was headed this way. My biggest fear (besides the roof being torn off) was the old oak tree directly positioned in front of the house. Its straight as a soldier stance provided little reassurance and the spurts of wind in its upper branches rattled my nerves. After all, the amount of rain alone could loosen the ground considerably; enough to make this giant topple like a bowling pin.

The other threat (as if a hurricane weren’t enough) were the tornado warnings that could strike at any given moment anywhere in the vicinity and consequently demolish your home in an instant, not to mention the loss of life. Thankfully, none of these things happened to us but it’s of no consolation that it happened to someone else. The long night of harrowing winds, torrential rain and cannonball shots of thunder was accompanied by the eerie moan of an emergency siren from the firehouse; a warning to stay indoors as if you’d have to tell me twice. Why I am repeatedly amazed at the stupidity of mankind, I’ll never know but here are just a few examples of what people chose to do after being advised to evacuate:

In New York City – A woman in a bikini was seen jogging in the rain while talking to a reporter. It’s the most natural thing in the world, right?
In New Jersey –  Numerous surfers jumped off of a 20 foot pier that had collapsed into the angry, tumultuous sea. The sea appeared to swallow them up but with intermittent gasps of air they insisted they were having fun.
On Staten Island – Two kayakers had to be rescued at sea by emergency personnel, placing the lives of everyone at risk. Brilliant.
On Long Island – Families with children went out into the storm to look at the ocean, choosing to stay and party with neighbors after a mandatory evacuation was announced. This is not a snow storm, people – It’s a life threatening HURRICANE. You don’t stay and pop some corn with the kids like you’re watching a movie. YOU ARE IN THE MOVIE TO WHICH THERE MAY BE NO SEQUEL.
By mid morning the storm only intensified yet it was downgraded to a Category 1 tropical storm once it made landfall in New York City. However, the effects of the 80 mile an hour winds were still felt, creating widespread damage. News reports filmed the flooding in the low lying coastal regions several blocks just south of us on Long Island. Huge trees and power lines downed. Though still gusting, I made a tentative venture out in back of the house as the storm lessened its grip. My rabbits were bundled against the wind in their hutches. “You made it”, I murmured to them in congratulations. “My brave ones” bouncing around in fearless anticipation of breakfast.
So………………..whadayathink? Were you affected by the hurricane? Would you heed the warning to get out of the way of impending danger or decide it’s the perfect time to have some good clean fun?
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Written by Susan Monaco – Guest Blogger

July 25th, 2011 by Michael Tabor

Healthcare Reform; yes, it’s needed, but it must be instituted from the ground up. If the foundation is not secure, the structure will be faulty and collapse, and that is exactly what has happened to the U.S. healthcare institution. What needs to be done? Many things need to be addressed, both for the safety of patients as well as the size of the medical tab that we must all pay. The first thing I propose is the most basic……….addressing the cause of medical malpractice. Sad to say, my family was taken from me, as a result of two documented cases of medical malpractice. The legislation that I propose is something that I always believed should be in effect, unfortunately, it wasn’t until my family was destroyed, that I decided to take action.

 

The legislation, regards a common sense approach to the way we license physicians in this country. Currently, a physician is licensed in the state or states that he or she intends to practice. If the physician is forced to voluntarily surrender his license or loses it in one state; absolutely nothing prevents him from practicing in another state. In fact, this is an all too common scenario. The fact is, this is the very thing that is documented to have happened to a number of people in Baltimore, Maryland; when the neurosurgeon who butchered my sister, was forced to leave Florida. He was forced to “voluntarily” surrender his license or risk facing humiliation by having it revoked. He left Florida, but proceeded to practice in Baltimore, where he operated on a woman and removed the wrong disk in her neck.

 

This is not an isolated incident. It happens in New York and New Jersey quite frequently. A physician, who loses his license in New York, easily jumps the river and with a new license, continues to maim and destroy lives.

 

The question that should immediately jump into everyone’s head is – “If a physician is unfit to practice in one state, isn’t he just as unfit to practice in another state?”


The answer is nation-wide licensing of physicians. It can be done on a federal level or it may be administered by the state, but all states must cooperate. If a physician loses his license, either by way of revocation, suspension or voluntary surrender, he or she is barred from obtaining a new license or utilizing an already existing license in another state. If a physician is unfit to practice in one state, he or she is unfit to practice in every state; common sense dictates this, now the law must be amended to follow suit.

 

Physicians and authorities may argue that this is not necessary, yet clearly something must be done. The medical community will undoubtedly say such licensing is not possible because of the varied “standard of care” across the country. The truth is, that years ago that was the truth, but in these times it’s routine, for physicians to attend medical school in one state, do their various internships and residencies in other states and ultimately begin their own practice in yet another state. If the “standard of care” was still an issue, as it was back in the days of Dr. Quinn Medicine Woman, then physicians would be required to study and practice in one state and remain there for the entire length of their professional lives.

 

There are a number of other things that can be implemented or changed to improve the quality of health care in this country, but I firmly believe that nation-wide licensing is the foundation for all the other changes. We can have all the other changes implemented, but if a doctor is incompetent, and therefore dangerous, and still has the luxury of closing shop in one state and resuming his trade in another, then the changes are virtually worthless.

 

Allowing the medical community to monitor and police themselves is a joke. They have their white coat of silence. Seldom will a doctor speak out against another doctor; and even more rarely, will one testify against another one. Please help prevent more victims. Please support legislation that is aimed at the very root of the problem. It’s not a cure-all, but it’s certainly a step in the right direction. It would create a sound foundation upon which other changes can ultimately be implemented

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Losing Weight – A Piece of Cake?

July 22nd, 2011 by Magdalena Tabor

I have always been able to eat anything I want, never had the slightest concept on how to diet, and have never had to exercise. As a teenager I was always self-conscious about my stick figure – people would constantly comment “You’re SOOOOOO SKINNY!” or worse, “Did you lose weight?” These were not meant to be compliments. I made desperate attempts to gain a few much-needed pounds. I ate whole boxes of cookies, huge portions of ice cream, along with my usual three solid meals a day – nothing worked. Poor little me. Throughout my life I have had the pleasure of eating this way although somewhat more moderately having given up the notion of weight gain.
Then one day Father Time touched my brow and said “Enough of this, Stick Girl. Pay Up”. Not that I’m fat now by any S-T-R-E-T-C-H of the imagination but let’s just say that my skinny jeans could use some slenderizing.  Clothes that used to fit, don’t. Could they have shrunk? But why only in certain places? Are they making new garments a size or two smaller than they used to ? Please say yes. Feel free to interject any positive feedback here. Now is the right time. Could it be that cute little saying you find on magnets and posters is actually a whammy someone finally slammed me with ? You know the one…… “Please, God. If you can’t make me skinny, make my friends fat”. Ever notice that most clothes you buy these days have stretch in them ? I somehow tend to think this gives us an excuse to eat more. If the clothing were more constrictive, we’d eat less. As it is, we feel quite comfortable having that extra piece of cake at the family BBQ along with the baby back ribs and extra helping of potato salad. And why do they call it “helping”? IT’S NOT HELPING! Rather it should be “Would you like another hindrance ?” to which you aptly reply, “No thank you. I’ve had enough”.
I’m tired of sucking in the belly. It used to work but now I can’t seem to hold my breath that long. I once was able to and would have been a good candidate for deep sea diving but no more. I even tried one of those under garments. You know – the kind that look like sausage skins. You pick one out that’s the size you imagine yourself to be and then you stuff your blubber into it. At first, it feels okay and you look stupendous but after a couple of hours, (once you’ve left the house and there’s no turning back) it feels like a vise or a medieval iron maiden. You can’t possibly remove it until you get home – if you do that slinky dress you’re wearing will look like all hell broke loose.  Instead, you smile obligingly all through the evening and no one has the slightest indication that you should be nominated for an Oscar for the performance of the century. Finally, and not a moment too soon, you arrive home breathless tearing the damn thing off at the front door to the utter astonishment (and extreme disappointment) of your husband, ignoring the look of stunned shock and disbelief on his face. “What? You actually thought I poured this dress on with no help from the Fairy Godmother?”
What we women endure for the sake of beauty. WHY do we torture ourselves? Who are we trying to impress? Why should I care if you’re offended by my over exuberant tendency to self-inflate? I’VE HAD IT ! No more sausage skins for me. This form of self-infliction is not new to the female sex. In Victorian times women wore corsets so tightly bound, they passed out. Thus, that very elegant piece of furniture known as “The Fainting Couch” was born. It was usually situated at the landing upon climbing the staircase for women would feel faint from the mere effort of this normal exercise. I imagine had I been born in that era, I would have spent considerable time utilizing that couch………….”Bring me my fan, Lilly dear”.
Interestingly, the corsets of wealthy women were laced at the back – a servant was required to tie them. Those who could not afford a servant had to tie their own, hence the front laced corset. The smallest waist on record measured just 13 jnches. Think of it – you could wear your pearl choker around your waist as a belt. Somehow that just seems freakishly tiny.
Once having abandoned various forms of restrictive clothing, how to go about losing the unwanted baggage? I’ve given up ice cream (not cake just yet – give it time). I walk the twenty minutes to the train station in the morning refusing the offer of neighbors for a ride, opt to climb the stairs rather than use the escalator, and spend less time glued to my chair at the office and more time bustling around looking ever so efficient. Still, the unsightly roll refuses to diminish in size. In fact, it appears to grow larger with each passing minute (oops ! Forgot to hold my breath).  I find myself checking the clock for lunchtime and each day it begins a few minutes earlier than the day before. Brunch anyone? Perhaps a philanthropic thrust towards a hunger strike for motivation. Not like the girl who wanted an invite to the Royal Wedding – she never generated enough sympathy and either shriveled down to nothing or gave up the idea altogether as the end result lost the attention of the media. I believe her intention was to kill two birds with one stone; get invited to the wedding AND get into that size 4 dress to boot.
I’ve decided to adopt a more Zen like approach. You know – mind over matter. But which is larger – the mind or the matter? Obviously, the matter has the upper hand (or the lower belly). How to get the mind around all that matter? I think if we shrink the mind and think less about the matter, then the matter will shrink as well. That’s it! JUST DON’T THINK ABOUT IT ! Or pink elephants.

So……………………….whadayathink ? Is weight gain something you grapple with? Should you have that chunk of chocolate cake with or without the ice cream?


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Ye Olde Grinding Shop

July 10th, 2011 by Magdalena Tabor

This morning the singular sound of a bell was heard proceeding slowly up the street towards the house. DING! (pause…. ) DING! (pause….) DING! I first laid eyes on the source of this attention getter years ago during our first summer or so after moving into our new home. The sound recalled childhood days of my old neighborhood but I couldn’t quite place my finger on what produced this distinctive tone. Images emerged of the old street vendors back in the 1950’s; the tiny marketplace of the fruit and vegetable man, although mobile, was more or less stationary once he wheeled it into place. But there was something else from that era that escaped me.  Upon hearing this sound again after all those years, I ran to peer out of the upstairs window. Having just awoken, I felt I might still be in dream state. What appeared was an old red truck from the 1940’s or 50’s. On it were the words “The Grinding Shop.” It was “the scissor man” as we kids referred to him back then but he sharpened all sorts of blades and tools, household and gardening implements. Apron clad mothers would rush out of doors with their scissors and kitchen knives to be newly sharpened. For those of you who grew up in the suburbs during this time, this was a blast from the past. Or was it a ghostly vehicle making its rounds? Was I stuck in some sort of time warp? DING! (pause….) DING! (pause….) And it was gone.
Over the years, this sound has been heard each summer. And each time I rush to the window to wonder and watch, immersing myself in a flood of memories. Today would be different. I would STOP the scissor man just to assure myself he was real. The old red truck crept slowly towards the house. Quickly – think! What did I have that could use sharpening? Scissors? No. Knives? No – too sharp. I envisioned a weekend lost at the emergency room having severed an index finger. I’ve got it! Pruning shears! (Remember last week’s ordeal? My frenzy dulled the blade down to a mere blunt so that now it couldn’t cut a wisp of grass). I motioned at the door for the scissor man to stop and ran out back to the shed to grab the sheers. Careening out the front door I made for the truck. “Take your time”, the scissor man spoke in a familiar old neighborhood accent. He was clean cut and shaven. Friendly. So why was I disappointed? What was I expecting? Of course he was real but I half expected to see an old timer with a handlebar moustache – a relic from a bygone era. He was just a normal guy.
I handed him the shears without asking the price. “These will be $9.00”, he said. “Wow”, I thought to myself. Certainly not 1950’s prices but I couldn’t back out now after flagging him down and making him wait. “Okay”, I said with a smile. After all, it’s the novelty of the thing, of getting my pruning shears sharpened by the scissor man, how cool is that? He buffed the blades on a wheel, stopped to oil them, then walked over to another gadget to straighten out the blades. He adjusted the screw connecting the blades, opened and closed them several times to ensure easy usage. Then he walked over to another wheel to sharpen the blades. I watched as the sparks flew. Finally he handed over the $9.00 job. “You don’t see too many of these around anymore”, I said eying the time worn vehicle.  He asked where I was from and acknowledged that the previous owner’s route was my old neck of the woods. “I’m  the last of the kind”, he said. “After me, it’s over”.
There will be no more scissor men. Nothing to jar the memory of my past. Little by little, the past fades into, well……….the past. Buried in the graveyard of the mind. Lets’s not get overly sentimental but I do enjoy the small snippets of what it is that makes me who I am – reminding me where I came from.
As if on cue, the church bells are chiming some old hymn.  Another sound saying “This is who you are”. A child of 6 or 7. A woman, timeless as the ages.

So………………..whadayathink? What gets you reminiscing about your lost youth? Does it make you feel a twinge of sadness or happy inside? Maybe a good old fashioned, healthy mixture of both.

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Good Fences

July 6th, 2011 by Magdalena Tabor

Let’s consider the purpose of a fence; used to contain livestock/pets, shield a specific area from the elements, define a property, obtain privacy. All these reasons are purposeful and necessary, especially when living in close proximity to one’s neighbor. Now let’s define “neighbor”;  a person or people living near or adjacent to oneself who are either “neighborly” or behave otherwise with relation to one’s fence line. Ok, you see where this is going. Let’s face it – fences are there for a reason.
Back in the 1950’s when our neighborhood was first established, they built cookie cutter capes side by side as a template for the ideal setting in which to live. The builders left the spaces in between open – no fences. What were they thinking? Then, little by little, the people who purchased these charming little dwellings began to mark off their slice of utopia for the various reasons mentioned by way of fencing. And they lived happily ever after, right? Uh, guess again.
Fortunately, for most of us, the fence, with our adjoined properties is respected and rarely is it necessary to reach beyond that boundary. Should the occasion arise when one must overstep that boundary, we act in a neighborly fashion, ring the doorbell, and ask. If no answer, repeat steps one, two and three at a more opportune time. Then there is the jerk (for lack of a more dignified term) that skips steps one, two, and three and does what he damn well pleases. Yes, he actually enters his neighbor’s yard, which might I remind you, is fenced.  He simply drives around the block in his suburban van with his tools, his kids, his ego (ever more inflated with the task at hand), and together they spill out of the van like a malignancy. He ENTERS the property with the utmost importance and with the sole intent to prune the back portion of his shrubbery, which faces his neighbor’s yard. The neighbor stares aghast from her window at the scene unfolding before her – in HER yard. Jerk, buzzing about his business with the children lined up like little soldiers picking up the clippings.  If only the neighbor, frozen at the window in disbelief, had a German Shepherd to let out right about now instead of the Jack Russell she owns. (No offence Chip, but you’re not up to the job).
This same Jerk (normally given a more distinct title) had the audacity to enter my back yard and lopped whole branches off my property that he deemed intrusive to his side of “the fence.” Fortunately, for him, I was not home at the time (I can be worse than a German Shepherd when defending my fortress). Nevertheless, I was faced with the unpleasant task of confronting this transgressor to remind him of the purpose of the fence line. Not only was he unapologetic and made it a point to say so, he blatantly did not care. Not entirely surprising given his track record. I had endeavored to perform this mission alone, believing that my loving husband might lose his temper making us appear confrontational. In hindsight, I should have accepted his offer for I was attacked by the Jerk’s Pit Bull – his wife.
I was greeted most ungraciously at the door by the Pit Bull with little more than a snarl. The conversation went downhill from there. For those of you who don’t know me, I avoid confrontation whenever possible and although I was the damaged party, I did not raise my voice. Instead, I detected a certain edge creep into my tone as I struggled to control it, deflecting blow by blow accusations concerning the unruly growth emanating from my yard. Had I not seen it for myself, given their  outlandish description, I would have been certain we were dealing with a monstrous green tangle more apt to be found in the Amazon rather than Long Island suburbia. Ah, the sins we neighbors commit against one another! The arm connected to my green monster dared to brush the roof of their shed causing me to be labeled the untidy groundskeeper.
I returned home to my haven, deflated, desecrated and demeaned and began clipping away fraught with fury. Take THAT! And THAT! And THAT’s your head snapped off! Yes, all the anger directed at Mr.  and Mrs. Jerk resulted in a very productive and prodigious afternoon. It’s also very therapeutic, I might add. I carried huge piles encased in twine to be carted away at the curb. Other areas less offensive were attacked with a vengeance – CLIP! CLIP! CLIP! Morphed from a mild mannered woman of calm reserve into a dangerous wild-eyed fiend with shears, as I maniacally clipped away.
For the first time in ten years, I have installed padlocks on the gates leading into either side of my property. My sanctuary is officially off-limits to everyone with the exception of the people who mow the lawn and my nearest and dearest Jack Russell neighbor.
Good fences make good neighbors – better fences do not necessarily make bad neighbors better but one out of two’s not bad. I hope you found this article amusing. One day, so will I – when the Jerk can’t get in.


So………….whadayathink? How would you have handled this situation? And have you ever experienced anything of the kind? And isn’t he a Jerk with a capital J ???


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