Irving Berlin

Irving Berlin (original name Israel Isidore Baline) was born May 11, 1888. His family fled from Russia when Czar Alexander III revived a pogrom against the Jews. Cossacks burned the family house to the ground, and the family slipped out of the country, eventually ending up in New York city.

As he grew, young Irving supported himself singing in saloons in the Bowery. It was there he learned what songs appealed to audiences – well known tunes with simple sentiments. His music was characterized by that all his life. About this he said, “My ambition is to reach the heart of the average American, not the highbrow nor the lowbrow but that vast intermediate crew which is the real soul of the country.” (New York Times)

His first hit song was “Alexander’s Ragtime Band,” written in 1911. It gave ragtime music a huge boost and sparked a dance craze that caught the attention of the whole world, ironically, particularly in the Russia his family had fled from.

He went from success to success with such hits as “White Christmas,” “God Bless America,” “A Pretty Girl is Like a Melody,” “There’s No Business Like Show Business,” “Easter Parade,” “Happy Holiday,” and scores of others. He wrote for Broadway plays and films. “White Christmas” alone sold over 50 million records.

He died in New York city at the age of 101. In tribute to him, George Gershwin said, “I want to say at once that I frankly believe that Irving Berlin is the greatest songwriter that has ever lived…. His songs are exquisite cameos of perfection, and each one of them is as beautiful as its neighbor… Irving Berlin was the first to free the American song from the nauseating sentimentality which had previously characterized it, and by introducing and perfecting ragtime he had actually given us the first germ of an American musical idiom; he had sown the first seeds of an American music.


Some quotes and lyrics by Irving Berlin:

Our attitudes control our lives. Attitudes are a secret power working twenty-four hours a day, for good or bad. It is of paramount importance that we know how to harness and control this great force.

There is an element of truth in every idea that lasts long enough to be called corny.

Life is 10 percent what you make it, and 90 percent how you take it.

Blue skies smiling at me
Nothing but blue skies do I see
Bluebirds singing a song
Nothing but bluebirds all day long. (Blue Skies)

In your Easter bonnet, with all the frills upon it
You’ll be the grandest lady in the Easter parade
I’ll be all in clover and when they look you over
I’ll be the proudest fellow in the Easter parade. (Easter Parade)

Happy holiday, happy holiday
While the merry bells keep ringing
May your ev’ry wish come true
Happy holiday, happy holiday
May the calendar keep bringing
Happy holidays to you. (Happy Holiday)

Got no silver, got no gold
What I got can’t be bought or sold
I got the sun in the morning and the moon at night
-I got the sun in the morning and the moon at night. (I Got Sun in the Morning)

There’s no business like show business
Like no business I know
Ev’rything about it is appealing
Ev’rything the traffic will allow
Nowhere could you have that happy feeling
When you are stealing that extra bow. (There’s No Business Like Show Business)

I’m dreaming of a white Christmas
Just like the ones I used to know
Where the treetops glisten
And children listen
To hear sleigh bells in the snow. (White Christmas)

You can find links to all his lyrics at

Find nearly 9000 inspirational quotes and a link to the Quote of the Day list at

National Lost Sock Memorial Day

According to the National Day Calendar site on the Web, May 9 is National Lost Sock Memorial Day. According to their site, “it is time to say ‘good-bye’ to all of the single socks, the ones where their mates have been lost to the unknown. Where do all the missing socks go? Is there a washing machine heaven? This is a question that people have been trying to solve for many centuries. An answer may never be found to this question, and life will go on. How sad to have lost such a close-knit friend!”

Some believe people have been wearing socks since the Stone Age. However, according to the Lonely Sock site, the first knit socks we worn in Egypt somewhere around the sixth century BCE.

Believe it or not, there is actually an organization called The Bureau of Missing Socks. Okay, I’m not sure this is really true, but it is declared to be “the only organization in the world devoted solely to unraveling the mystery of the single disappearing sock,” and is supposedly located in Washington DC in a twenty-four acre office park overlooking the Potomac River. If not true, it is at least amusing!

My friend Shari Burke knits socks, and I am always happy to get a pair from her when my birthday or Christmas rolls around. (You can see examples of her work at I am a crocheter, and crocheted socks just aren’t the same.

Besides their protective use, socks are a colorful and fun accessory for us. They come in all colors and all yarn, from light cotton or even lace to the sturdy ones used in hiking boots. And let us not forget the importance of socks in the Harry Potter books, where one bestowed freedom on Dobbie the elf.

Do you have a drawer full of single socks hoping to find their mate some day? Perhaps it is time to face the truth and let them go. Turn them into sock puppets, or use them as dusters, or give them away to your local preschool as bean bags. Socks are meant to come in pairs! Don’t leave your single socks lonely in a drawer.


Some quotes about socks.

One can never have enough socks,” said Dumbledore. “Another Christmas has come and gone and I didn’t get a single pair. People will insist on giving me books.”–J. K. Rowling (Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone)

When I was young I found out that the big toe always ends up making a hole in a sock. So I stopped wearing socks.–Albert Einstein

I got up one morning and couldn’t find my socks, so I called Information. She said, “They’re behind the couch.” And they were!–Steven Wright

Both of your socks should always be the same color. Or they should at least both be fairly dark.–Dave Barry

Choose your friends by their character and your socks by their color. Choosing your socks by their character makes no sense, and choosing your friends by their color is unthinkable.–Unknown

His socks compelled one’s attention without losing one’s respect.–H. H. Munro

A man is about thirty-eight before he stockpiles enough socks to be able to get one matching pair.–Merrily Harpur

They may take our shoes, but they’ll never take our socks!–William Wallace (Braveheart)

I am, and ever will be, a white socks, pocket protector, nerdy engineer.–Neil Armstrong

The divorce rate among my socks is astonishing.–Unknown

I never leave home without a nice pair of socks.–Benjamin Franklin

On a site called Socks Addicts (, you can find famous quotes changed by having socks added to them, such as the following: Do not go where the path may lead, go instead where there is no path and leave a trail – I recommend you wear Merino wool socks though.–Ralph Waldo Emerson

Find nearly 9000 inspirational quotes and a link to the Quote of the Day list at

The Anniversary of the Introduction of the Box Camera

On May 7, 1888, George Eastman patented the “Kodak Box Camera.” I grew up in a suburb of Rochester, New York, which is where Eastman created the Eastman Kodak Company. When I was very young, my mother worked for them in the photography developing area. My best friend’s father was a carpenter for them, and her mother worked in the cafeteria. My brother-in-law also worked for them for a while. As you might guess from this, at one time they were the largest employer in the area, with the possible exception of Xerox, also started near Rochester.

Some Sunday afternoons we would visit the George Eastman House, a lovely old home in the wealthy part of Rochester. In addition to the beautiful rooms and furniture, the rooms held old photographic equipment, and my own personal favorites, stereoscope viewers.

I used to love taking photographs, especially of nature, and have incorporated some of my pictures in the bookmarks you can buy at But I have a friend, Bill Burke, who is much better at it than I am. He currently lives in Moville, Ireland, and you can see some of his most recent work at Do check it out – he takes wonderful pictures.


Quotes about photography abound. Here are a few I like very much, starting with three from George Eastman.

Light makes photography. Embrace light. Admire it. Love it. But above all, know light. Know it for all you are worth, and you will know the key to photography. – George Eastman

We were starting out to make photography an everyday affair, to make the camera as convenient as the pencil. – George Eastman

You push the button, we do the rest. – George Eastman

What I like about photographs is that they capture a moment that’s gone forever, impossible to reproduce.–Karl Lagerfeld

You don’t make a photograph just with a camera. You bring to the act of photography all the pictures you have seen, the books you have read, the music you have heard, the people you have loved.–Ansel Adams

There are no bad pictures; that’s just how your face looks sometimes.–Abraham Lincoln

The camera is an instrument that teaches people how to see without a camera.–Dorothea Lange

A great photograph is one that fully expresses what one feels, in the deepest sense, about what is being photographed.–Ansel Adams

Your first 10,000 photographs are your worst.–Henri Cartier-Bresson

Photography is a reality so subtle that it becomes more real than reality.–Alfred Stieglitz

We are making photographs to understand what our lives mean to us.–Ralph Hattersley

I really believe there are things nobody would see if I didn’t photograph them.–Diane Arbus

No place is boring if you’ve had a good night’s sleep and have a pocket full of unexposed film.–Robert Adams

Look and think before opening the shutter. The heart and mind are the true lens of the camera.–Yousuf Karsh

Find nearly 9000 inspirational quotes and a link to the Quote of the Day list at

Nellie Bly

I never knew much about Nellie Bly until I looked into her life for this blog entry. She was an amazing woman.

Investigative journalist Nellie Bly was born Elizabeth Jane Cochran on May 5, 1864 in Cochran’s Mill, Pennsylvania. Her family were fairly well-to-do, but when her father died without a will, it left the six year old and her family in distressed circumstances.

Her career in journalism started with a letter to the editor. In the Pittsburg Dispatch, writer Erasmus Wilson claimed that women were best served in the home, conducting domestic duties such as raising children, cooking and cleaning…” Elizabeth shot back a fiery letter calling him on his sexism. The paper was so impressed they offered her a job, and she chose her pen name Nellie Bly. says about her: “Bly expanded upon the negative consequences of sexist ideologies and emphasized the importance of women’s rights issues. She also became renowned for her investigative and undercover reporting, including posing as a sweatshop worker to expose poor working conditions faced by women.”

In 1887 she began working for New York World, where she did an expose of conditions in a woman’s mental institution by going to live there for ten days as a patient. Her writings caused an investigation of the place, and led to much needed reforms. She subsequently wrote a book about it called Ten Days in a Mad-House. She followed this “with similar investigative work, including editorials detailing the improper treatment of individuals in New York jails and factories, corruption in the state legislature and other first-hand accounts of malfeasance. She also interviewed and wrote pieces on several prominent figures of the time, including the likes of Emma Goldman and Susan B. Anthony.”

In 1889, she embarked on a trip around the world aiming to break the fictitious record of Phineas Fogg of Around the World in 80 Days. She made it in 72 days. She also published this as a book called appropriately Around the World in 72 Days.

Nellie Bly was the example of what a woman could do in a time that was even more of a man’s world than it is today. Alas, she died at the age of 57 of pneumonia or we might have more of her hard-hitting journalism.


Some quotes by Nellie Bly:
Accept praise for what it’s worth – politeness. Be brutally frank with yourself. It’s safer.

Energy rightly applied and directed will accomplish anything.

A free American girl can accommodate herself to circumstances without the aid of a man.

I always have a comfortable feeling that nothing is impossible if one applies a certain amount of energy in the right direction. (Around the World in Seventy-Two Days)

Energy rightly applied and directed will accomplish anything. (said to be her motto)

Never having failed, I could not picture what failure meant… (From Jersey Back To Jersey)

Susan Anthony is all that is best and noblest in woman. She is ideal… and if we will have in women who vote what we have in her, let us all hope to promote the cause of woman suffrage. (Champion Of Her Sex)

I was too impatient to work at the usual duties assigned women on newspapers. (Six Months In Mexico)

I have never written a word that did not come from my heart. I never shall. (The Evening-Journal, January 8, 1922)

I said I could and I would. And I did. (Ten Days in a Mad-House)

I need a vacation; why not take a trip around the world? (Around the World in 72 Days)

How nonsensical it is to blame or criticise people for what they are powerless to change. (Around the World in Seventy-Two Days)

To sit on a quiet deck, to have a star-lit sky the only light above or about, to hear the water kissing the prow of the ship, is, to me, paradise. (Around the World in Seventy-Two Days)

Find nearly 9000 inspirational quotes and a link to the Quote of the Day list at

Lumpy Rug Day

Today, May 3 is Lumpy Rug Day. As I thought about this, I wondered if the rug is lumpy because things have been swept under it. We “sweep things under the rug” of course, when they are embarrassing, or we want to ignore them, or to deny their existence. A more modern idiom is ignoring the elephant in the room.

I am really good at this. I denied the signs of diabetes, even though I knew perfectly well what they were, as several members of my family have had the disease. It took a crisis when it could no longer be swept under the rug for me to admit it, and now that I’m eating right, I feel so much better. A good example of why it’s stupid to ignore a what we don’t want to deal with.

We all have things we’d rather not face, whether they are private to ourselves or much wider. We may ignore the poor in our communities, or the problems in our schools or the drug problems until they hit us personally. It is so much more comforting to just ignore problems and hope they go away. Sometimes the little ones do, but more often they simply grow in the darkness until they get huge and ugly. We may also hide from a bigger problem by emphasizing another, such as when we won’t admit prejudices even to ourselves, instead speaking about enacting a law to “protect children,” or some such, thereby pushing the problem onto someone outside ourselves, instead of facing our own feelings. We often are also past masters at blaming the victims of violence.

So check your rugs today, especially your mental ones. Have you swept something under your rug that should be let out into the sunshine?


Quotes about sweeping things under the rug, and denial:

Let’s not push it under the rug, or push it to the side because, no matter what, it’s going to keep coming up. You know, if you never deal with that dirt up under the carpet, it’s going to get larger and larger, and it’s going to keep coming up.–Herschel Walker

Don’t keep sweeping your troubles under the rug for someday you’ll trip over it.–Taylor Wapaha

From Modern Family: Jay: No, see this is exactly why we sweep things under the rug. So, people don’t get hurt.
Phil: Well, yeah, until you sweep too much under the rug. Then you have a lumpy rug … creates a tripping hazard … and open yourself up to lawsuits.

Apologize when it is time to, instead of sweeping things under the carpet.–Unknown

Delay is the deadliest form of denial.–C. Northcote Parkinson

You will find peace not by trying to escape your problems, but by confronting them courageously.–J. Donald Walters

I think the greatest illusion we have is that denial protects us. It’s actually the biggest distortion and lie. In fact, staying asleep is what’s killing us.–Eve Ensler

Ignoring negative things that need to be changed is destructive and does nothing to alleviate negativity.–Tom Rath

Find nearly 9000 inspirational quotes and a link to the Quote of the Day list at

National Raisin Week

The first week of May is designated National Raisin Week. Many of us have less than fond memories of raisins, mostly because of the little red boxes put in lunch pails. In them, all the raisins seemed dry and tough and stuck together, and very difficult to get out of the box. As I’ve gotten older and bought raisins in other containers, I’ve become much fonder of them and other dried fruit. However, someone has called raisins “worried grapes,” because of the wrinkles, which made me laugh.

According to the California raisins website, “the word raisin is from the Latin word racemus which means a cluster of grapes or berries. History indicates that raisins were discovered for the first time by accident when they were found in the dried form on vines as early as 2000 BC.” The Britannica on-line declares “dried grapes are mentioned in the Bible (Numbers 6:3) during the time of Moses. David (Israel’s future king) was presented with “a hundred clusters of raisins” (1 Samuel 25:18), probably sometime during the period 1110–1070 bc. Early Greeks and Romans adorned places of worship with raisins, and they were awarded as prizes in sporting events.” So raisins used to be much more valued than today. Some even say they were used as money in Roman times.

The term current, which is sometimes used interchangeably, is thought to be a corruption of Corinth, where grapes were grown in ancient times.

It’s easy to make your own raisins, simply using a dehydrator or the sun to dry seedless grapes, but it isn’t very cost effective. Still people who do so declare home dried raisins are far superior to the ones purchased in the store.

Some of us are old enough to remember the California Raisins commercial “I Heard It Through the Grapevine.” You can find it on You Tube at There are also more serious versions of the song there by Marvin Gaye and Credence Clearwater Revival.


There aren’t a lot of quotations about raisins, but here are a few.

There is a play by Lorraine Hansberry called A Raisin in the Sun, which comes from a poem by Langston Hughes called Harlem. It begins:
What happens to a dream deferred?
Does it dry up like a raisin in the sun?

This wasn’t just plain terrible, this was fancy terrible. This was terrible with raisins in it.–Dorothy Parker

Raisins are healthy, and they are inexpensive, and some people may even find them delicious. But they are rarely considered helpful.–Lemony Snicket (The Miserable Mill)

If there are occasions when my grape turned into a raisin and my joy bell lost its resonance, please forgive me. Charge it to my head and not to my heart.–Jesse Jackson

I am a picky eater. By that I mean, I love to pick the raisins out of oatmeal raisin cookies, the chips out of chocolate chip cookies, the white side off of black and white cookies, and the vanilla center out of Oreos.–Dylan Lauren

Every box of raisins is a tragic tale of grapes that could have been wine.–Unknown

Anything with raisins in it would be 10 times better with chocolate chips instead. For example: a box of raisins.–Unknown (a card on the Internet)

Raisin cookies that look like chocolate chip cookies are the main reason I have trust issues.–someone called Abby

Find nearly 9000 inspirational quotes and a link to the Quote of the Day list at