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Thursday, June 28, 2018

5 world class adult beverages in your local supermarket

America's largest independent soda bottler
has had a polar bear as its mascot since
the early 20th century.

Ever since I stopped drinking alcoholic beverages over twenty years ago, I have been on a hunt for a really tasty non-alcoholic adult beverage substitute.

For years I drank Diet Pepsi (even Diet Coke was cloyingly sweet tasting  to me).

After a while, I tired of cola and started drinking seltzer.

Now seltzer is nice (who actually drinks New Jersey tap water?) but after a while it gets boring.

I tried fruit-flavored seltzers, fruit-flavored waters, but none seemed truly flavorful and interesting.

Then one day at Stop & Shop all the seltzer was mysteriously cleaned out -- except for a brand I had noticed but never tried before -- Polar.

(Who are these people? Turns out it is a 4th-generation, family owned business based in Worcester, Mass., and is the largest independent soda bottler in the country.)

I took some home. It was fine, but it was still just seltzer.

Suddenly last week there was a whole display of fruit flavored sodas from Polar, in regular and diet versions.

I loaded up and took samples of each offering's diet version home to chill.

The verdict?

Five of these are (imho) outstanding, world-class adult beverages --
  • Pomegranate Dry
  • Pink Grapefruit Dry
  • Orange Dry
  • Raspberry Lime
  • Black Cherry
Each of these has a hearty flavor, and crisp non-cloying taste. I assume the "dry" appellation means less sweet, which suits me fine.

In addition, there are three others that are quite drinkable, though I found them a little wan-tasting --
  • Ginger Ale
  • Root Beer
  • Birch Beer
Root Beer especially I measure against my memories of Dad's Root Beer, which was the only brand available where I grew up. Polar just is not intense enough.

One flavor I had no interest in even trying -- Cream Soda. I just have never been able to even understand the concept. It holds no interest for me, though I do understand it is an essential part of some people's beverage landscape. You're on your own if Cream Soda is your thing.

Lastly, there was one flavor I looked forward to but found disappointingly faint -- Grape.

Now you have to know I grew up in Concord grape country and it wasn't until I got to college that I even knew there was any other kind of grape.

Concord -- which all grape sodas and drinks are based on -- is not a shy grape. It is truly robust. The only problem is that most bottlers kill it with sweetness. That is why I expected Polar's version to be robust but dry (that is, not so sweet). Unfortunately, it just didn't have that pep I was looking for. Sort of like a third carbon copy (for those who remember carbon paper).

However, Polar's offerings are truly worthwhile and I encourage anyone looking for a flavorful diet soda to try the Polar brand.

You may want to hurry as I have no idea if the shelf section is permanent. It appeared as if by magic. The 1-liter bottles are currently priced at 99¢ each which is a sweet spot price-wise.

For more information about Polar, its history and its products, visit their website here.

NOTE: This is an unsolicited personal homage to the beverages.

 -- Dan Damon [ follow ]

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Wednesday, June 27, 2018

Roz Bradshaw makes the BEST peach cobbler!

What can I say but "Yum!"

So nice to wake up from a little nap and find this on the table by my kitchen door.

Don't even need to wonder where it came from!

A little thank you treat from Roz Bradshaw and most welcome indeed.

She told me the secret is that she steeps the peaches in a tub with all the spices for a week before she makes the cobblers.

Thank you Roz!

And much love.

 -- Dan Damon [ follow ]

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Monday, June 25, 2018

Cory Booker to speak at Newark march for separated families Saturday

Sen.Cory Booker will speak at Saturday's march in Newark.

Sen. Cory Booker will speak at the "Families Belong Together" march in Newark, Saturday,June 30. The Newark march is one of many being held across the country to protest the continued separation of families at the US border.

The march begins at Newark City Hall at 11:00 AM and will proceed to the US Citizenship and Immigration Service Center on Broad Street.

In a statement, the organizers say, "We will tell our federal and state officials that ALL FAMILIES, at the border, across our nation, and here in New Jersey deserve to be protected ... Families are depending on us. The foundation of our nation is depending on us. Our message needs to be loud and clear."

"The larger the turnout, the louder our collective voice will be! We MUST come together because ALL FAMILIES BELONG TOGETHER."

For directions and the most up-to-date information, visit the organizers'  Facebook event page at --

 -- Dan Damon [ follow ]

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Mayor Mapp hosting a golf fundraiser Friday night

Friday's golf fundraiser is at TopGolf in Edison.

Plainfield Mayor Adrian O. Mapp is hosting a golf fundraiser Friday evening June 29 at TopGolf in Edison from 7:00 PM to 10:00 PM.

As chairman of the Plainfield Democratic City Committee (PDCC), Mayor Mapp announced the fundraiser at the special PDCC meeting on June 12 to submit three names to the City Council from which to fill the vacancy caused by the departure of Rebecca Williams to the Union County Board of Chosen Freeholders.

At the meeting, Chairman Mapp noted that the PDCC coffers were nearly empty and that the organization needed to raise money for the rent (which runs north of $32,000 per year).

The Fundraiser is an evening of golf at the TopGolf range in Edison. The facility offers climate controlled hitting bays as well as a bar and food options.

Dress is casual. Golf clubs are available at the facility.

Donation range is from $350 per individual to $500 for silver sponsorship and $1,000 for the gold level.

Checks can be made out to either the Plainfield Democratic City Committee (PDCC) or Mapp for Mayor and mailed to: Jazz Clayton-Hunt, 724 Coolidge Street, Plainfield, NJ 07062. Or call her at (732) 595-7397 to reserve your space.

TopGolf is at 1013 Route1 in Edison. The phone is (732) 374-4097. See map here.

 -- Dan Damon [ follow ]

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Saturday, June 23, 2018

Be very careful in deciding who is your enemy

Learning a lesson from a Border Patrol agent.

In the rush to increase news coverage of the separation of families at the US border, many journalists (and their editors) have crammed like college students to appear knowledgeable and on point about the topic.

That can be misleading.

In any story as complicated as this one, it is important to take no shortcuts, park your assumptions at the door and dig even harder for the facts.

Case in point: "Family separations are new."

They are not, as NPR correspondent Michel Martin uncovered in her interview Saturday with Terence Shigg, spokesperson for the Border Agents union in the San Diego area (listen to it here).

Shigg pointed out that separation has gone on for a long time in enforcing the current laws. What has changed is the vastly larger scale since Attorney General Sessions has decided to pursue criminal (rather than misdemeanor) charges for all who make unauthorized entry -- including asylum seekers.

He also points out that after the surge of unaccompanied minors in 2014 -- who were being held in prison cells -- it was the Boarder Agents union that pressed the government to provide the better, more open group accommodations in which the current migrants are being housed.

Further, he points out that instead of the woolen blankets which were provided when prison cells were used (which quickly became infested with fleas, ticks and other vermin which proceeded to spread throughout the facilities), the "space blankets" shown in news cips actually keep down the vermin problem and furthermore are disposable.

So, it pays to dig deeper.

This is especially clear when Shigg reaches his final point: the portrayal of the Border Agents ina negative light.

He points out that often enough the agents themselves are the front line in providing care and comfort to the detainees -- for which they go unnoticed and unthanked.

This is a lesson I learned well during the Vietnam War era.

Having been in the Air Force in the early 60s, I came to the anti-war movement through the civil rights and Black Power struggles.

Believing that the Vietnam War was not only mistaken policy but essentially unwinnable against a people fighting for their independence (as in the American War for Independence), I was a leader in a local anti-war coalition.

From the very outset we included the broadest range of groups and individuals -- including many WWII vets and their spouses.

And the earliest decision we made was that the enlisted men and women (mostly restricted to the medical corps) were not the "enemy" of the antiwar movement.

They, like the rest of us, were caught up in the maw of a machine over which we appeared to have no control and which was not interested in hearing alternative views.

Service members were thus treated with respect, offered counseling if they needed it, and a welcome place to relax unwind while home on leave.

It was many of these service members -- especially Black and brown -- who saw more clearly the racism and chicanery involved in the war and passively resisted it.

Toward the end of the war, that sort of approach made a difference as US troops began to refuse en masse to go on foolish and suicidal missions to the point that the unreliabililty of US ground troops became a major factor in the US government deciding to pull the plug.

It pains me to hear veteran John Pritchard at City Council meetings recite the harsh treatment that veterans received upon coming home to Plainfield. That is not my story, but I realize it was in many places.

Now is the time to see that we don't fall into the same pit as we learn more about the border family separations issue and formulate ways and means to oppose it.

 -- Dan Damon [ follow ]

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Friday, June 22, 2018

Has Plainfield City Council forgotten its good manners?

Nada. Not even a cheap-ass supermarket cake.

Even when personal relations between them were at their chilliest (or most heated), Plainfield City Council members always respected the office if not the person and accorded each other a certain amount of civil acknowledgment of the contributions each made to the whole.

And when a Council member would depart, no matter the personal feelings between them all, good manners dictated that the departing member was always honored with a Resolution of Thanks from the Council detailing that member's particular passions and contributions (and sometimes a Proclamation from the Mayor), a hearty round of applause, and a small party afterwards upstairs in Police Headquarters.

So, eyebrows were raised on Monday evening -- the first Council session after Rebecca Williams had resigned to take up the seat made vacant on the Union County Board of Chosen Freeholders when Linda  Carter moved up to the Assembly -- when not a word of thanks or recognition was uttered.

The gaffe was particularly eye-catching given that Rebecca played an outsized role in the election of five of the six councilors who were voting on Monday evening to fill her vacant seat and everyone is supposedly on the same team.

If the Council members were waiting for leadership on the matter, none was forthcoming from the Council itself.

Let's just hope it was a momentary lapse.

 -- Dan Damon [ follow ]

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Thursday, June 21, 2018

9 Myths about separating families at the US border -- busted

Listen to audio of separated children crying for their mothers.

Because of the crisis involving the separation of infants and children from their parents when they arrive at the US border seeking asylum, I am stepping aside from my Plainfield focus today to reprint a Facebook post by Cal State - Fullerton professor Michelle Martin, PhD, who teaches and writes on the subject of immigration. You can find the Facebook post here. I have formatted her post to make it easier to read.

(Note that even though President Trump issued an executive order today (Thursday) stopping the practice of separating families, the government has no protocol for reuniting the thousands of families already separated (see CNN story on that issue here).

Here is Martin's Facebook post, and note that she provides links at the end of each section to further information undergirding her statements --

Have you heard that children were separated from their parents under Obama & Clinton? Then you need a little Facts vs Myths lesson. Michelle Martin, PhD Cal State Fullerton summed up the most important FACTS:

There is so much misinformation out there about the Trump administration's new "zero tolerance" policy that requires criminal prosecution, which then warrants the separating of parents and children at the border. Before responding to a post defending this policy, please do your research...As a professor at a local Cal State, I research and write about these issues, so here, I'll make it easier for you:

Myth 1: This is not a new policy and was practiced under Obama and Clinton

FALSE. The policy to separate parents and children is new and was instituted on 4/6/2018. It was the brainchild of John Kelly and Stephen Miller to serve as a deterrent for undocumented immigration, approved by Trump, and adopted by Sessions. Prior administrations detained migrant families, but didn’t have a practice of forcibly separating parents from their children unless the adults were deemed unfit.

Myth 2: This is the only way to deter undocumented immigration.

FALSE. Annual trends show that arrests for undocumented entry are at a 46 year low, and undocumented crossings dropped in 2007, with a net loss (more people leaving than arriving). Deportations have increased steadily though (spiking in 1996 and more recently), because several laws that were passed since 1996 have made it legally more difficult to gain legal status for people already here, and thus increased their deportations (I address this later under the myth that it's the Democrats' fault). What we mostly have now are people crossing the border illegally because they've already been hired by a US company, or because they are seeking political asylum. Economic migrants come to this country because our country has kept the demand going. But again, many of these people impacted by Trump's "zero tolerance" policy appear to be political asylum-seekers.

Myth 3: Most of the people coming across the border are just trying to take advantage of our country by taking our jobs.

FALSE. Most of the parents who have been impacted by Trump's "zero tolerance" policy have presented themselves as political asylum-seekers at a U.S. port-of-entry, from El Salvador, Guatemala, and Honduras. Rather than processing their claims, they have been taken into custody on the spot and had their children ripped from their arms. The ACLU alleges that this practice violates the Asylum Act, and the UN asserts that it violates the UN Treaty on the State of Refugees, one of the few treaties the US has ratified. This is an illegal act on the part of the United States government, not to mention morally and ethically reprehensible.

Myth 4: We're a country that respects the Rule of Law, and if people break the law, this is what they get.

FALSE. We are a country that has an above-ground system of immigration and an underground system. Our government (under both parties) has always been aware that US companies recruit workers in the poorest parts of Mexico for cheap labor, and ICE (and its predecessor INS) has looked the other way because this underground economy benefits our country to the tune of billions of dollars annually. Thus, even though the majority of people crossing the border now are asylum-seekers, those who are economic migrants (migrant workers) likely have been recruited here to do jobs Americans will not do.

Myth 5: The children have to be separated from their parents because there parents must be arrested and it would be cruel to put children in jail with their parents.

FALSE. First, in the case of economic migrants crossing the border illegally, criminal prosecution has not been the legal norm, and families have been kept together at all cost. Also, crossing the border without documentation is a typically a misdemeanor not requiring arrest, but rather a civil proceeding. Additionally, parents who have been detained have historically been detained with their children in ICE "family residential centers," again, for civil processing. The Trump administration's shift in policy is for political purposes only, not legal ones.

See page. 18:

Myth 6: We have rampant fraud in our asylum process the proof of which is the significant increase we have in the number of people applying for asylum.

FALSE. The increase in asylum seekers is a direct result of the increase in civil conflict and violence across the globe. While some people may believe that we shouldn't allow any refugees into our country because "it's not our problem," neither our current asylum law, nor our ideological foundation as a country support such an isolationist approach. There is very little evidence to support Sessions' claim that abuse of our asylum-seeking policies is rampant. Also, what Sessions failed to mention is that the majority of asylum seekers are from China, not South of the border.

Here is a very fair and balanced assessment of his statements:

Myth 7: The Democrats caused this, "it's their law."

FALSE. Neither the Republicans nor the Democrats caused this, the Trump administration did (although the Republicans could fix this today, and have refused). I believe what this myth refers to is the passage of the Illegal Immigration Reform and Immigrant Responsibility Act, which were both passed under Clinton in 1996. These laws essentially made unauthorized entry into the US a crime (typically a misdemeanor for first-time offenders), but under both Republicans and Democrats, these cases were handled through civil deportation proceedings, not a criminal proceeding, which did not require separation. And again, even in cases where detainment was required, families were always kept together in family residential centers, unless the parents were deemed unfit (as mentioned above). Thus, Trump's assertion that he hates this policy but has no choice but to separate the parents from their children, because the Democrats "gave us this law" is false and nothing more than propaganda designed to compel negotiation on bad policy.

Myth 8: The parents and children will be reunited shortly, once the parents' court cases are finalized.

FALSE. Criminal court is a vastly different beast than civil court proceedings. Also, the children are being processed as unaccompanied minors ("unaccompanied alien children"), which typically means they are sent into the custody of the Office of Refugee Resettlement (ORR), which is part of the Department of Health and Human Services (DHS). Under normal circumstances when a child enters the country without his or her parent, ORR attempts to locate a family member within a few weeks, and the child is then released to a family member, or if a family member cannot be located, the child is placed in a residential center (anywhere in the country), or in some cases, foster care. Prior to Trump's new policy, ORR was operating at 95% capacity, and they simply cannot effectively manage the influx of 2000+ children, some as young as 4 months. Also, keep in mind, these are not unaccompanied minor children, they have parents. There is great legal ambiguity on how and even whether the parents will get their children back because we are in uncharted territory right now. According to the ACLU lawsuit (see below), there is currently no easy vehicle for reuniting parents with their children. Additionally, according to a May 2018 report, numerous cases of verbal, physical and sexual abuse were found to have occurred in these residential centers.

Myth 9: This policy is legal.

LIKELY FALSE. The ACLU filed a lawsuit against the Trump administration on 5/6/18, and a recent court ruling denied the government's motion to dismiss the suit. The judge deciding the case stated that the Trump Administration policy is "brutal, offensive, and fails to comport with traditional notions of fair play and decency." The case is moving forward because it was deemed to have legal merit.

 -- Dan Damon [ follow ]

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Wednesday, June 20, 2018

Introducing Plainfield's newest Council member: Elton Armady

Councilor Armady, a lifelong 4th Ward resident,
is a proud Penn State graduate.

By way of introducing Plainfield City Council's newest member Eltaon Armady, I am posting below the email he sent to PDCC committee members in anticipation of being one of three candidates recommended to the City Council.

On Monday, June 18, five of the six sitting Council members voted to seat Mr. Armady as the replacement for Rebecca Williams, who resigned the citywide at-large seat when she was appointed to the Board of Chosen Freeholders.

As you are all aware (this was addressed to PDCC committee members), Councilwoman Rebecca Williams was recently selected by the Union County Democratic Committee to fill the vacancy left by Assemblywoman Linda Carter on the Union County Board of Chosen Freeholders. With her departure, the at-large seat on the Plainfield City Council has become available. As a result, I’m reaching out to all members of the Plainfield Democratic City Committee to seek your full support in being nominated to fill the vacancy and be the party’s candidate in November to fill the rest of her unexpired term.

I’d like to take this opportunity to introduce myself and my background to those of you who don’t know me well. I’m the son of Nigerian immigrants who moved to this country in search of better opportunities. After meeting in Houston, Texas, where I was born, my parents moved to New Jersey. My parents, three siblings and I have been residents of Plainfield’s fourth ward for twenty-nine years. From an early age, my parents have always stressed the importance of getting an education to be successful in life. As a result, I’m a proud graduate of Penn State University where I earned a Bachelor of Science in Marketing in 2009, a Master of Business Administration in 2016 and am currently pursuing my Master of Public Administration through their online World Campus, which I hope to complete in 2019.

I believe that I’d be uniquely qualified to join the Plainfield City Council given my experiences at the federal, state, county and local levels of government. As an intern on Capitol Hill, I was given the opportunity to work in both Houses of Congress. While there, I was able to work for the late New Jersey Senator Frank Lautenberg, Senator Sherrod Brown of Ohio, former Congressman Rush Holt and House Democratic Leader Nancy Pelosi. Through those positions, I was able to develop a deep understanding of the political process by working with legislative staff on national policy issues, attending committee hearings and tracking floor votes and debates.

After graduating with my MBA, I worked as legislative aide to the late Assemblyman Jerry Green. In that role, I advised the assemblyman on legislative and public policy matters, and provided constituent services to district residents. I currently work as a program analyst in the Department of Economic Development at the County of Union, where I manage all facilities and public improvement projects that are funded by the Community Development Block Grant (CDBG). Notable projects that I’ve worked on include the rehabilitation of the Plainfield Public Library’s steps and the installation of a walking path at Milt Campbell Field. As the neediest community in the county’s consortium, Plainfield receives the lion share of the grant every year, which comes out to about 23% of $4.5 million (or ~$1 million annually). In addition to facilities and public improvements, the grant also funds many social services and housing programs in the city as well.

At the local level, I was elected to the Plainfield Democratic City Committee in 2017. I’ve also made it a point to regularly attend city council meetings starting in January to get a better command of local issues. Early this spring, I was nominated by Councilman Cory Storch and appointed by the city council to serve on Plainfield’s 2018 Citizen’s Budget Advisory Committee (CBAC). As a member of the committee, I worked with my colleagues to analyze the city’s budget and make recommendations on the administration’s funding priorities. At this month’s upcoming council meeting, I expect to be appointed to join the city’s Historic Preservation Commission (HPC) to offer my insights on the possible expansion of the historic district and work with members to address other issues.

As a 32-year-old millennial candidate, I pledge to bring a fresh perspective and new ideas to the council if I’m appointed. The initiatives that I’d focus on include the following:
  • Regularly attending public events and community meetings to understand and address resident’s concerns in order to provide a high level of constituent service;

  • Engaging our seniors with new programs (such as music, arts and exercise);

  • Collaborating with businesses and nonprofit organizations to provide jobs and career development opportunities for our youth;

  • Working with ALL of my council colleagues to ensure that timely and fiscally responsible budgets are passed and the city’s A1 long term bond rating increases;

  • Identifying ways for the city’s departments to use performance measures to determine how efficient programs are being run and where savings can be made;

  • Using the connections that I’ve developed over the years to liaise with all levels of government to advocate for Plainfield’s needs;

  • And partnering with the Mapp Administration to continue moving Plainfield forward!
I hope you will join me in welcoming Elton to the City Council and look forward to great things in the future.

 -- Dan Damon [ follow ]

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Monday, June 18, 2018

Certified geezer here

This simple fob stumped a guy who has been driving for
68 years (I was 10, Harry Truman was president,
and it was legal for me to drive farm equipment).

Well, it's finally happened.

Technology has turned me into a geezer.

While I stay up to date on all things Internet and computer geekish, I appear to have let my cred in cars slip.

Had to rent a car recently because my Rav4 was in the shop. So I went to the Avis on Route 22 across the corner from the 7 Eleven in North Plainfield.

Small, but busy office with pleasant and professional staff. After handling a couple of customers before me (who had reservations), my turn came (I was a walkin). They had me booked and ready to go in about two minutes.

Out on the lot, I went to get into the Ford Focus that had been pointed out, when I noticed the fob I had been given had no key. I went back inside and told the young clerk he was going to have to give me a tutorial.

He politely did.  "As long as the fob is in your pocket, all you do is step on the brake and push this button. It will start. When you are finished driving, push the button again and the engine will shut off." Simplicity itself! Where have I been?!

But things only got worse when I went to return the car.

I've rented cars for decades, so I know the drill, right?

Return the car with the gas tank full, write down the mileage and go to the counter to close out.

Except? Where is the odometer?

Again, I had to ask a clerk. She took my ticket, went out to the car and showed me the screen on which the information (along with a lot of other stuff) was displayed. Duh!

So I admit it -- I am now a certified geezer.

 -- Dan Damon [ follow ]

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Sunday, June 17, 2018

Who will have the final say on running the new SID?

Among the SID's most popular activities in the past
have been the Holiday rides for families.

There are two resolutions on Monday's combined Council session agenda concerning  the newly established municipal Special Improvement District.

R 213-18 gramts advice and consent to the appointment of members of the Central Business District Advisory Board.

R 214-18 grants advice and consent to the appointments to the District Management Corporation.

As I see it, the District Management Corporation is likely to be -- to use George Bush's phrase -- "the decider".

Those nominated to the District Management Corporation are --

  • Maritza Martinez
  • Yvette Homer
  • Jim Jacocks
  • Alejo Alonso
  • Clecia R. Thompson
  • Donna Albanese
  • Jeff Spelman
City Council meets for its combined June session at 7:00 PM Monday (not the time) at the Council Chambers / Courthouse at Watchung Avemie amd East 4th Street.

Parking is available on the street and in the lot across from Police Headquarters.

 -- Dan Damon [ follow ]

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Saturday, June 16, 2018

Juneteenth celebration at Shiloh Saturday

A public notice of the Emancipation, from 1863.

In partnership with the Friends of the Senior Center, Shiloh Baptist  Church will host a special "Jazz in the Sanctuary" musical celebration of Juneteenth on Saturday, June 16, from 4:00 - 6:00 PM.

The event is free and open to the public.

Shiloh Baptist Church is at 515 West Fourth Street (at Liberty Street). Parking available in the lot on West 5th Street. Visit Shiloh on the web at

 -- Dan Damon [ follow ]

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Friday, June 15, 2018

My same-day surgery at JFK (Beware: Graphic pic)

The incision was made in the crease at the elbow joint.
Note that there is no dressing,but a clear flexible
"bandage" that is painted on. When I asked whether it
was available over-the-counter the nurse replied,
"What! And put J&J out of business?"

In the 3-room country schoolhouse of my youth, every September began with the mandatory "How I spent my summer vacation" essay.

Perhaps readers would like to know how I spent my same-day surgery day at JFK today. So here goes.


The instructions from my surgeon's scheduling nurse were that I was to be at JFK same-day admissions by 5:30 AM. I set my cell's alarm for 4:00 AM and just made it, though I got up right away and did not eat breakfast or take my meds (per instructions).

It was a surprise to find that though I was 5 minutes early,  there were already a half dozen patients there before me. Each of us was handed our papers and sat in a waiting area until two aides came out to give us our "room" assignments. I put that in parentheses because what we each got was a bed, chair and adjustable table, separated from the neighbor on either side by a curtain.

Once in my cubby, a pleasant nurse (who was formerly at Muhlenberg I learned and shared some juicy gossip about JFK and Muhlenberg's closing} took my vitals and quizzed me about my name and what operation I was there for. (This was done by every person with whom I interacted -- part of a protocol to make sure that the right procedure is performed on the right patient).

She had a devil of a time drawing the required blood for the lab. After three stabs at it she finally got one. I joked that I was bone dry since the last I drank was 4 oz. of water at 11:30 PM the night before. Finally the lab tech got a needle in the back of my hand and was able to draw her supply of vials.

Among the questions the nurse asked was whether I had had any alcohol or smoked before coming in. Then, in a low whisper, she asked if I had smoked any ... marijuana. I said once, more than 40 years ago. She said, "I meant last night." We laughed.

Once all the papers had been discussed and initialed by the nurse, the blood drawn and my personal belongings (including my cell) taken away to a locker, I was wheeled upstairs by someone from Transportation.

In the 4th floor Operating and Recover Suite, I was parked once again in a curtained cublcle where I awaited visits from my surgeon and the anesthesiologist before going into the OR.

The anesthesiologist was a very friendly and chatty woman who questioned by about my prior experience with anesthesia and explained what she would be doing during the surgery. Once again the complete litany of questions: who I am, what the operation is, etc.

The last one to show was my surgeon, Dr.David Richmond. He is legendary among staffers for his quick wit and sense of humor. But with me he was all business, going over the procedure and then at the end signing his name on the subject arm with a felt-tipped pen ( again, making sure the right person performed the right operation on the right patient).

My one question was whether he would discharge me without the mandatory urine sample as dialysis patients often no longer pee (I do, but not on command). He said "of course", and then regaled me with the story of the doctors' tussle with JFK's administrators over this very same issue.

Then I was rolled into the OR, where anesthesiologist became the third person to struggle with my faint veins, surrendering the taks  to a perky young nurse who confidently said, "They can't hide from me." She was right, getting a needle in in just a few seconds. Once that was done I was hooked up to a bag of antibiotics and a sedative.

After scooching over from the gurney to the operating table, I was then covered with warmed blankets and my arms were outstretched and fastened with belts so I would not move (as was my one leg).

As they worked, the team of nurses introduced themselves and we all made small talk.

Once Dr. Richmond came in, everything quickly moved to professionalism. The anesthesia was administered through the IV and I was out like a flash.

The operation was to put a "fistula" in my arm to make it easier for the dialysis nurses to insert the "out" and "return" needles. (I currently have a port with stiff 6-inch long tubes inserted in my chest, which under my Tee shirts make me look like I have a deformed boob.)

The fistula is made by cutting a small artery and a vein and sewing the two ends together, forming a loop. This then becomes the point at which the dialysis needles are inserted.

After the operation, I was moved to the Recovery Suite (actually the same place I had waited in before the surgery). This time the nurses brought me a slice of pound cake and a bottle of ice-cold water. Most welcome, though I am only allowed a sip of the water.

After a few minutes, Dr. Richmond came in, checked the surgery and ordered me back in the OR because there was bleeding. I was only out for a few minutes and back in the recovery unit.

As they were wheeling me back, I saw Nat standing in the hallway. I had told him to pick me up about 12:30 PM. It was now about 1:30 PM and I had to wait ten minutes or so for a nurse to remove the IV needle before I could dress and leave.

Checking out is nothing more than waving goodbye and having someone from Transportation take you in a wheelchair out to the driveway.
On the way home, we stopped at the pharmacy, where I picked up some serious pain meds that had been prescribed.

Arriving home, I ate some cereal, took a pain pill and was promptly out until 8:00 PM.

And that's how I spent my Same-Day Surgery Day at JFK.

 -- Dan Damon [ follow ]

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Wednesday, June 13, 2018

Beware phone scams

Scammers are working the phones. Be alert!

My phone rang as I was sitting in the chair at the dialysis center Wednesday afternoon.

It was a 908 number I didn't recognize and no caller ID displayed.

I answered it and a recording started playing, advising me that my car's warranty was about to expire and I was being given an opportunity to extend it over the phone.

Now my 2003 Toyota Rav 4's warranty probably expired a decade ago. And besides, I bought it used in a private sale, so no warranty was expected.

I hung up and called the number back. I got a recorded message saying "The area code or number you have called is incorrect. Please check the number and try again."

The scammers had "spoofed" a fake number and their true number never showed.


BTW, I will probably be offline tomorrow as I am having same-day surgery at JFK in connection with my dialysis. Seeya later!

 -- Dan Damon [ follow ]

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Plainfield Dem Committee sends three names to Council for Williams seat

Chairman Mapp reminded all of the time a man,
his wife, and his son were the three names.
Not this time.

eeting in a special session Tuesday evening, the Plainfield Democratic City Committee unanimously approved forwarding chairman Adrian O. Mapp's slate of thre names to the City Council to replace the seat made vacant by Rebecca Williams moving up to the Freeholder  Board.

Elton Armady, Alma Blanco and Tony Contreras were put forward by Chairman Mapp in the notice calling for the meeting. Each of them emailed committee members over the past few days seeking their support.

Mapp gave each an opportunity to make their pitch to the group and take questions from committee members.

The only question raised from the floor was what each one would do to focus on youth  issues.

The names will be forwarded to the City Council, which will choose among them at its June combined session next Monday, June 18. That meeting gets under way at 7:00 PM in the Council Chambers/Courthouse at Watchung Avenue and East 4th Street.

The person chosen will be sworn in and seated at that meeting.

The PDCC also unanimously adopted a motion that the successful nominee would also appear on the November ballot with the PDCC's blessing.

 -- Dan Damon [ follow ]

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Tuesday, June 12, 2018

Tagline change and some Spring cleaning of the blogs

A little Spring cleaning on the blogs
(my mom would say not enough).

Did a little Spring cleaning** on the blogs tonight.

You will notice the Plainfield Today tagline "The needler in the haystack" has been replaced with "Bettering Plainfield with the facts since 2005".

The old tagline was appropriate during the eight years of incompetence and worse under former mayor Robinson-Briggs. Times have changed. The new tagline reflects that.

I also removed a few links on the sidebar that no one was using (yes, I can tell).

Over on the CLIPS blog, I finally took down the PMUA petition signup gadget. Though that issue faded away long ago after Mayor Mapp got control of the board of commissioners, I just never got around to taking it down.

I'm the kind of guy whose wife has to throw out his old clothes when he's not around because he just can't part with them. ;)

Also took down several of the "News" links which are no longer in business, and removed the sports links.

Back when the blogs were created, local websites were not as ubiquitous as they are now and now that we all live on our cellphones, these kinds of lists are both superfluous and superannuated.

Back to the real business tomorrow.

**My mother took Spring cleaning very seriously. Everyone was mobilized, including my dad. The windows were opened and the whole house was aired out (we had a kerosene-fed Ben Franklin stove in the living room, so the house needed the airing). CLosets and cupboards were emptied and scrubbed down, then everything that was to be kept was put back.

The rugs were hung on the clothesline and beaten (my chore, I hated it), the mattresses were turned, every surface of every room was scrubbed and waxed and polished as appropriate. We even cleaned the wallpaper with some pink stuff in small cans that somewhat resembled playdo but I am sure contained a carcinogenic solvent. It was exhausting, but at the end everything was fresh for a season.

 -- Dan Damon [ follow ]

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Sunday, June 10, 2018

Workaround for Google Play Store credit card deletion problem

Looks pretty straightforward, eh?
Guess again.

This is not a geek blog, but I seem to have found a workaround for a vexing problem users of Google Play Store on Android have with cancelling a credit card on their account and I want to share it.

I recently went to pay for an upgrade of a free app on my Android phone. This took me to my account on Google Play Store where I noticed at once that the only card on file was a MasterCard that had been replaced by the issuer some time ago.

This was my first purchase on Play Store and I was somewhat surprised to see that Google had a card on file at all. Never mind that.

I dutifully entered another MasterCard and Google showed it as one of the available cards.

Then I thought I would remove the dead card so there would be no problems with future purchases. That's when I fell into credit-card-delete Hell.

When I clicked 'Remove' I was shown a message that I needed to unlink this card from any payments (I am assuming this means app rollover payments on file) which led to a payments page showing no activity. I had never before made a purchase on Play Store (to my knowledge).

Frustrated, I did a Google search on the problem which brought back 44,200 results. Aha! So others have had this issue. Maybe I'll get some help.

No such luck. All I learned was that tons of people had had this problem and basically Google's support folks were no help. Some folks wasted a day on the phone, others tried tips from forums, but I did not find a single report of a fix.

Not looking forward to contacting Google, I thought for a moment. If a door doesn't open, try a window.

So I entered a VISA card that I often use for online purchases. Play Store took it immediately and showed me a list of three cards: two MasterCards (one of them the dud) and the VISA card.

Then I tried removing the dud MasterCard and it worked just like a charm. No problemo!
My partner of 41 years, who had two careers in computer programming (IBM and Unisys) muttered: "Bad programming ... Google is no more immune from it than anyone else."


I did all this from my ancient HP laptop, running Firefox 60.0.2 (64bit).

I will be happy to hear from anyone who finds this tip useful. Email me here, or FB me at Dan Damon (NJ, not the BBC reporter who copped my name ;) ). Please feel free to share.

And gook luck!

 -- Dan Damon [ follow ]

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