It's just being reported that America's beloved actress, comedian and American icon BETTY WHITE has died. She died just weeks before a milestone birthday which was coming up next month.
Friday, December 31, 2021
Thursday, December 30, 2021
But did you know that many other cities have their own midnight "drops" on New Year's Eve? Of course, with the current renewed COVID panic we don't know how many of these are actually being held this year but it's probably a safe bet to say that many will still be carried-out as they are outdoor events and typically don't attract New York sized crowds.
Anyway, here is a list of some of the most unusual "drops" around the country:
Raleigh, N. C. - Acorn drop
Carlisle, PA - Car
Miami - Orange
Kennet Square, PA - Mushroom
Atlanta, GA - Peach
Bethlehem PA - Peeps (yes, those funny marshmallow chicks)
Marion, Ohio - Popcorn
Harrisburg, PA. - Strawberry
Dillsburg, PA.. - Pickle (Beats me why anyone would celebrate a "pickle drop" -- or droop.)
Groundhog Day. And strawberry, car, wrench, mushroom and pickle drops. The Mummers. Something about Pennsylvania seems to attract unusual, faux-folk customs.
Statement by Donald J. Trump, 45th President
of the United States of America
More cases of COVID-19, sometimes referred to as the China Virus, are recorded in the U.S. today than ever before—not even close, and the Fake News Media refuses to print the real numbers. Do you remember when the Democrats campaign was based on the fact that they would quickly and easily get rid of the China Virus? Their whole campaign was a lie from Religion, to the Border, to the Military, to the Economy, to Inflation, to the loss of Energy Independence and, of course, most embarrassing of all, to the inept, grossly incompetent withdrawal from Afghanistan. All of those things, together with the Rigged 2020 Presidential Election, are the REAL BIG LIE!
Wednesday, December 29, 2021
Tuesday, December 28, 2021
All 15 members of the New Jersey State Senate Republican Caucus are once again calling for the formation of a Senate Select Committee on the Executive Branch’s Response to the COVID-19 pandemic after Governor Murphy’s Administration disclosed a $53 million settlement with the families of 119 residents who died in New Jersey veteran’s homes.
In a letter to Senate President Stephen M. Sweeney and Senator Nicholas P. Scutari, the caucus urged the formation of an investigative committee with subpoena powers to seek answers to enduring questions about the Administration’s Covid strategies.
“We must get answers regarding the decisions, the edicts, and the guidance the Murphy team imposed on veterans and nursing home administrators that may have triggered the devastating results,” the Republican letter stated.
With the power to compel witness testimony, the committee could lift the veil of secrecy and uncover answers that have eluded legislators, members of the media, and the public despite multiple open public records act requests.
“It was, and remains, our contention that the investigation would improve transparency and accountability and provide important insight of an Administration that has preferred to govern by executive order,” the Senate Republicans said in the letter.
The full text of the letter is below:
December 28, 2021
Dear Senate President Sweeney and Senator Scutari,
The Administration’s recent $53 million settlement for the deaths of 119 residents of New Jersey veteran’s homes who died from COVID revives our call for an investigatory committee with subpoena power to review the Executive Branch’s pandemic performance.
Not coincidentally, news of the settlement was revealed to a reporter after the Governor departed on a flight to Costa Rica for vacation and disclosed by NJ.com late in the afternoon the day before Christmas Eve.
This appears to be an orchestrated scheme designed to avoid scrutiny and shield the Governor from answering crucial questions during the holiday news void.
That settlement, and everything that led up to it, demands explanation, and the silence from the front office is unacceptable but not surprising.
The Administration has never explained the rationale of decisions during the pandemic that led to the loss of almost 10,000 vulnerable seniors.
News of the $53 million payoff, tendered without the participation or consultation of the duly elected Legislature, leaves us no choice but to once again renew the call for the Senate to form a Select Committee with subpoena powers to investigate the Executive Branch’s response to the Covid-19 pandemic and its effect on nursing home residents, too many of whom lost their lives.
We need to understand where these taxpayer dollars are coming from, and how the Governor justified the expenditure without including the Legislature. Specifically, are federal coronavirus funds, or some other funds, expected to be used for the settlement?
We also must get answers regarding the decisions, the edicts, and the guidance the Murphy team imposed on veterans and nursing home administrators that may have triggered the devastating results.
Our caucus wonders what this settlement portends for the thousands of other families affected by the Administration’s orders.
The Governor’s Administration has maintained all along that their instructions to the long-term care facilities were not at fault, yet the monetary settlement would suggest otherwise.
The Senate Republican caucus first called for a Senate Select Committee in a letter on May 13, 2020. That was the first of six similar communications
It was, and remains, our contention that the investigation would improve transparency and accountability and provide important insight of an Administration that has preferred to govern by executive order.
Through the pandemic, the Governor has eschewed the Legislature and its constitutionally ensured role as an equal and separate branch of government.
It is the opinion of our elected caucus that the results we have seen during two years of pandemic – including the $53 million settlement – clearly demonstrate the need for legislative participation.
It is time for the Senate to get off the bench and get into the action.
Anthony M. Bucco
Senator – District 25
Senator – District 9
Senator – District 23
Senator – District 10
Senator – District 13
Senator – District 2
Senator- District 39
Senator – District 1
Senator – District 12
Monday, December 27, 2021
Sunday, December 26, 2021
The day after Christmas is customarily observed as a legal holiday.
Where did the day get its name?
No one quite knows.
Many think it comes from the idea of boxing up Christmas stuff and/or sorting through your Christmas boxes (your gifts). But history says this is also the day when servants would get their Christmas gifts (cash and/or boxed treats) from their masters -- a sort of littler, humbler Christmas.
It was also a custom for tradesmen to collect "Christmas boxes" of money or presents on the first weekday after Christmas as thanks for good service throughout the year. In England Canada, New Zealand and Australia, Boxing Day is primarily known as a shopping holiday, much like the day after Thanksgiving in the United States.
Can you guess what our New Year resolutions are?
No, you won't guess them because we don't have any. None!We've never made New Year's resolutions.
Because they're stupid.
Think about it: A resolution (promise) is a Big Deal. And when you make it with the entire year ahead of you, well -- that's a long haul.
Plus, January and February are just dreadful months and an awful time to have to keep your resolution.
For example, suppose you resolved to watch your diet. What the hell is there to do during the dreary months of January and February except eat? And now you've gone and prevented yourself from eating. How are you gonna enjoy those Super Bowl parties or that Valentine's dinner with your sweetheart? And what about those l-o-n-g winter days when you want a cheesesteak or a pizza? Don't tell me you're gonna deprive yourself.
Suppose you resolve to work out more and get more exercise.
You'll have to run on a treadmill or somesuch. What's more stupid than that? You're indoors, you're runnin, you're sweatin and you ain't goin nowhere. Then you're all perspired and running toward your car in the frigid weather. That's a quick way to get pneumonia. Why would you want to do that?
But people go ahead and make these dumb resolutions anyway.
And 99% of the time these resolutions are not kept.
Remember this: When you make a promise, that promise is gonna weigh on you. It's only gonna make you do the opposite because you're gonna be thinkin about the promise all the time.
Whoa -- Did someone say "Eat?" Eat. Eat. Eat. Eat!
Ya see what I mean?
When you make a resolution, you're your own worst enemy. You're fighting yourself.
Here's the one way to approach this year and every year: Don't get too carried away on any front. Try to live fully but moderately. Avoid excess whenever you can.
Yeah, you can go overboard once in awhile but don't make it a habit, OK?
Be sensible. Use your noggin.
Then, you won't have to worry and you won't have to make resolutions.
You'll be fine.
Happy New Year!
Saturday, December 25, 2021
As the years go by, Christmas memories take on a sort of black and white patina -- or so it seems.
Anyway, it's once again Christmas, a joyous time of the year.
And I see dead people.
They are all around me and they are here to celebrate Christmas with me.
I turn on the TV and Jimmy Stewart is racing down Main Street in Bedford Falls hoping to escape the confines of a small town but knowing that he never will.
And Alastair Sim, the quintessential Scrooge, is grimacing in the classic black-and-white version of everyone's favorite Christmas tale.
And in living color I still see Judy Garland and Bing Crosby and Perry Como and Dinah Shore and Andy Williams singing Christmas songs. Judy's still full of pathos as she tenderly sings Have Yourself A Merry Little Christmas.
Jack Benny is here too and so is Lucy in a tender episode that ends with five Santas where there should be only one. One of the Santas just may be . . . could it really be?
And when I turn on the radio. I hear Christmas carols by Luciano Pavarotti and Ella Fitzgerald and Frank Sinatra and Mahalia Jackson and Mario Lanza.
On You Tube I watch President Reagan deliver a Christmas message from the White House. The President is warm and reassuring and he speaks confidently of faith in God and our Judeo-Christian heritage.
We don't speak very much but I'm so happy to be with him. He's making lots of stops, picking up small treats and gifts from a variety of friends and businesspeople for whom he may have done odd jobs during the year. Whatever he manages to gather will help to make our Christmas a bit happier.
Even in the run up to Christmas, he's a tough negotiator. He barters with merchants and grocers. as he tries to select just the right provisions for our Christmas feast.
He maneuvers through and around streets, neighborhoods and landmarks with the swiftness of a true native.
His energy fills the room wherever he goes. He's not a big guy but he makes a huge impact. And I know that as long as I'm by his side, no harm can come to me.
On Christmas eve aunts, uncles, cousins and neighbors come and go as the all-night feast of the fishes drifts into the wee hours of Christmas day. The front door remains unlocked and all are welcome.
On Christmas morning the uncles begin their ritual home visitations, gathering more participants as they move from house to house. Demonstrative, boisterous and well-lubricated, they pass out silver dollars to the children. These will be accepted as treasured tokens and saved in a safe place.
Through it all I see my mother, full of wry wit, optimism and just the right perspective on the whole panoply. She's got a sharp eye and she's a great mimic as she jokes about people, places and personalities.
If you press her, she may even remember some of the people from her own earlier Christmases but she'd rather dwell in the present. She's very much about her own family, right here, right now.
Of course, now I understand why she took that approach.
As you get older, this is what happens.
Christmas isn't totally joyous. It isn't always candy canes and sugar plums.
Now, I'm the only one left from my immediate family of origin. My parents, my sister and my brother-in-law are all gone.
But Christmas in your heart means Christmas not just with your present-day family but also with those who have passed on, as loved ones never leave you since love is eternal.
So, while Christmas glows mightily in the eyes of your children and grandchildren, Christmas is also bittersweet.
Not to worry, though.
The memories are good. And the sights, sounds and glad tidings live within me.
Plus, at this time of year all of these people seem to come alive once again -- alive in a very special way. They are with me. They are part of me. And I treasure them even more as these memories are shared with present and newly arriving family members.
And I suppose that's one of the lessons of Christmas: Let all the people and the events and the memories of the Christmases past deepen and enrich your understanding of this wonderful holiday. Savor it all.
Bring them along with you. Let them walk by your side. Be strengthened by their presence and pass on what you know, who you are, how you feel, what you have learned.
And be proud, strong and tender -- especially for the children who watch you more closely now than at any other time of the year.
In that way, you'll keep the true spirit of Christmas.
This Christmas story has appeared (with slight modifications) every year on the Dan Cirucci Blog as our gift to you.
Friday, December 24, 2021
And so strong is this tradition, that I can honestly say that in my lifetime (and we're talking many decades) I've never spent a Christmas Eve without a variety of fish dishes spread before me. This is a hallowed custom that is passed from one generation to another. Where and how did it start? I've heard all kinds of stories trying to explain it but I'm not sure anyone really knows definitively. But I do think it's rooted in the Italian-American immigrant experience. It's something that Italian-Americans kept and expanded upon over the years And, as they prospered, it came to be more elaborate.To begin with you must have at least seven fish selections on the table.
Well, seven is a very important number. It stands for the seven sacraments of the Catholic Church and the seven days of creation. In Biblical numerology, seven is a number of perfection.
And fish is the featured dish because Italians have customarily abstained from eating meat on Christmas Eve. In fact, I do believe that for a long time the Catholic church prohibited the eating of meat the day before Christmas, This is the Christmas vigil. For my part, I still observe the "no meat on Christmas Eve" rule. I now do it in memory ops my father who strictly followed this rule.
There is no set menu for this feast.
But here are some of the fishes that are traditionally used: calamari (squid); scungilli [skuhn-GEE-lee] (conch); baccala [bah-kah-LAH] (dry, salt cod); shrimp; clams (usually served with pasta); mussels, snapper, trout, tuna or salmon. I remember my father cleaning and preparing the various fishes (especially the baccala, calamari, smelts and scungilli for hours.
We have adapted this menu over the years and updated it somewhat.
Our feast is usually preceded by cocktails (that's where the cold shrimp and crab come in) with much chatter and anticipation.
The Feast of the Seven Fishes takes up the entire evening -- usually beginning with the preliminaries at around 5 or 6 PM and often continuing into the wee hours of the morning. The bountiful array of food remains on the table for everyone to enjoy. Any guests who happen to arrive are also welcome to partake.
After my father passed on, my sister and brother-in-law took over the tradition and kept much of it intact while adding a few updates including shrimp scampi, cold crab claws, salmon and shrimp cocktail. Now that they are gone, the meal has largely become the domain of my niece, nephew and (sometimes) my son. Thank goodness, they are insistent on continuing this grand tradition -- something that goes all the way back to my grandparents and probably even beyond that.
Desserts are not a mainstay of the feast. In fact, they are more of an afterthought. But, as more American elements have been introduced over the years, they have taken on their own prominence.
So, desserts now include an assortment of rich cakes, pies and cookies as well as cannoli and espresso.
Our feast is more casual than it was in years past but fine china, linens and glassware are still used on the table and when I say "casual" I mean business casual. So, this is definitely not a night for jeans or sweat suits or any kind of athletic gear.
To survive the evening, you need to pace yourself.
It's fine (and expected) to eat more than you usually would -- even much more. But you must take your time. That's the Italian Way -- to savor every moment and engaging all your senses.
It's best to taste a bit of everything, moving through the huge menu in a careful, measured manner. My favorites are the crab cakes, shrimp and tuna pasta. So, I have to be careful not to eat so much of those dishes lest I not have room for anything else. If you do not partake of a bit of everything you're liable to offend your host.
Like I said, for Italian families this ritual feast is sacrosanct and intense feeling abounds. Why? Because the meaning of the evening is all wrapped up with loved ones (including those who have passed on) and our most cherished values. Consequently, one must drink in moderation. In fact, if you feel an urge to lift your glass frequently make sure you're lifting a glass of water.
With all the fish on the table, you will need it.
BTW: For Italians, Christmas Day is not as much of a Big Deal as Christmas Eve. On Christmas Day lasagna and chicken cutlets are more than enough. That's what we call decompressing.
Enjoy these photos from one of our recent feasts: