Friday, September 23, 2011

Redheads Need Not Apply

Cryos International, one of the world’s largest sperm banks, says they have more sperm from redheads in stock than they have requests for so they have stopped taking donations from redheads. They’ll make an exception if you have brown eyes.

Don’t sperm banks pay for donations? So if you’re a redhead whose been making a living through sperm donation, you just became unemployed. Can you imagine filling out THAT application for unemployment benefits? What if you have those contacts that change your eye color? Could they tell?

Apparently there’s a glut of redheaded sperm in the market. Somehow that sounds disgusting. They say they have 140,000 doses of sperm from redheads in stock. Do they keep them on shelves in a walk-in freezer or what?

The demand for redheads is still high in Ireland but the rest of the world, not so much. Cryos International’s office is located in Denmark. If they are getting most of their donations locally, what do they expect? But they also said they aren’t taking any more Scandinavian donors either unless they have brown eyes.

Worldwide only 4% are redheaded, in the US only 2% of the population are natural redheads The country with the highest percentage is Scotland with 13%. Since the sperm bank is looking for more Black, Asian, Hispanic, Mediterranean and mixed-race donors, maybe they should branch out and open an office somewhere else in the world.

I know what the issue is. Redheaded girls are okay but redheaded boys are not. That’s not my opinion, just my observation. Whenever I see a little redhead, boy or girl, I always tell them “Redheads are special.” It’s not easy being a redhead.

I am a redhead. My mother is a brown-eyed brunette and Dad was a blue-eye blond. So where did my red hair come from? Apparently from my mother’s father although he died before color photos so we don’t know for sure.

No one expected me to be a redhead. The story is when Mom was pregnant there was a family joke that if the baby had red hair, they would drown it. Yeah, I don’t think it’s very funny either. So out I come with a head covered with orange peach fuzz. Whoops!

I never really cared for my hair. I hated my freckles, too. I was six feet tall at 13 years old; which made me a 6’ 13-year-old redhead, which was really not easy. Do you know tall boys are at 13? About 5’3.

I was about 28 years old when I realized that being a 6’ redhead wasn’t such a bad thing. Apparently lots of women, and maybe their men, wish they were redheads. Supposedly 30% of women who dye their hair go red as opposed to 26% blonde and 27% brunette.

But don’t me get going about the names they call redheads. I HATED being called Red. Carrot Top was the worst. The only nickname I didn’t mind was Rusty. Sounds like a stripper. One time my granddaughter Madeleine looked at me and said “Your hair’s not red, Grama, it’s ORANGE.” Out of the mouths of babes.

Redheads are known for having tempers. Redheads don't turn grey, they turn white. We also tend to lose our color later in life than people with other colors. I can attest to that. The white in my hair makes it look blonde, but I refuse to put any permanent color in it. Paul hates it when someone refers to his wife as a blonde. “She’s a redhead!” He likes saying his wife is a 6’ redhead.

I found this website that has all kinds of crazy info about redheads. It also has this quote from a very famous redhead (who wasn’t a natural redhead) which I think is terrific:

"Once in his life, every man is entitled to fall madly in love with a gorgeous redhead."
Lucille Ball

Thursday, September 22, 2011

Live Aid Part 2

I got some interesting comments about my first Live Aid post. "You went to Live Aid?!" I think they meant "I can't believe YOU did something so cool." Everyone said "I watched Live Aid on television!" The unspoken part of the comment was "Right before Mom put me down for my afternoon nap." Just kidding!!

As I mentioned, Joan Baez opened the show with Good morning children of the 80's. This is your Woodstock and it's long overdue. For the record, I am NOT a child of the 80's. I'm a child of the 60's. Or maybe late 60's early 70's.

I was too young to have been at Woodstock in 1969. And I didn't watch it on television because it wasn't ON television. I did, however, have the double album. And I could recite every announcement, every introduction and sing every word to every song. And I had to hide said album from my father who didn't approve of some of the lyrics.

Twenty-nine years old at Live Aid, I think I may have been older than the majority of the crowd. There were performers and bands there I didn't really know or care about but there were plenty I did.

I had a Cream poster in 1967. I am a huge Eric Clapton fan. EC was at Live Aid, one of the highlights of the day for me. I never saw Cream in concert but I've seen EC many times. Believe it or not I remember he did She's Waiting, Layla and White Room that day. Phil Collins played drums.

Then there was Ozzy. Another early favorite of mine when he was with Black Sabbath. I had their first album entitled Black Sabbath. I have a newspaper article with the schedule for Live Aid. Ozzy had the unfortunate timing of the 9:50 a.m. slot. Can you imagine? The Prince of Darkness at 10 a.m. Just doesn't seem right.

Then there was Madonna. Right after the big story broke that she had posed for Playboy and Penthouse. Her name was everywhere in the news, and her career took off after that. When she took the stage that day there was a lot of whistling and cheering from the crowd. Her first comment was "I ain't takin' shit off today."

A few months before their album Live at the Apollo was released Daryl Hall & John Oates (Hall & Oates)and David Ruffin and Eddie Kendrick of The Temptations-fame played at Live Aid. I'm a huge fan of Motown, and they put on an awesome show. They played late in the evening but they got the tired, sunburned crowd on our feet singing and dancing. Unfortunately David and Eddie died a few years later.

Then there was Mick Jagger and Tina Turner. During their duet of "It's Only Rock and Roll" Mick took off his shirt. In the video you can see he continues the chorus, and goes to the side of the stage. When he comes back to the stage he's in a new shirt and a different pair of pants. As they continue the song you can see Mick reach over, grab something and rip Tina's leather skirt off. She finishes the song in a leotard. Clearly an early wardrobe malfunction.

I looked over some of the yellowed newspaper articles I collected before and after Live Aid including some critics' reviews. Critical is right. They were tough. Nobody there cared. I was too far back from the stage to really see and watched on giant display screens, early Diamond Vision. The quality was terrible but nobody cared. We were there.

On the way in there were signs everywhere saying cameras were prohibited. I think the ticket said that, too. Bags were searched at the gates. In my backpack I had water, snacks, sunscreen, shorts, t-shirt and my Olympus OM10 35mm. They never said a thing.

The concert sold out. We paid $65 for tickets which said $35 on them. Which is a bargain now and not bad then for so much music. Back in the day I used to go to 2-3 concerts a month, and the price of a ticket was about $5. I went to so many concerts in my teens and 20's it's a wonder I can hear.

There were other Live Aid events in several countries in addition to London and Philadelphia and they were all linked by satellite. It was called a Global Jukebox and one article talked about the "technical wizardry." We saw cables between poles all over the stadium. You'd see remote-controlled cameras run back and forth across the cables filming the crowd. How far we've come.

That was the first time I saw the human wave. There were beach balls bouncing all over the stadium. The temperature got up into the 90's and they used fire hoses to try to cool the crowd down. I don't now how well it worked. Sunstroke and heat exhaustion were the medical issues of the day. There were very few reports of drug overdoses.

After the show news reports quoted security as saying "it was so calm it was scary" and "fewer problems than any sporting event." I remember back then, even at large concerts like Live Aid, people were well behaved. I never saw anyone arrested at shows in the 70's and 80's. Probably because they were all mellow from the pot. I did see lots of flasks, wine skins and bottles confiscated or poured out at the door but that was part of the fun, to see if you could get something in.

That day there were reports of up to 85 women waiting in line for the restroom. The one time I went I waited in line for 30 minutes and then went into the men's rooms. I don't know about now but back then it was pretty common to see women going into the men's room.

But, of course, the show was supposed to raise money to help end hunger in Africa. Supposedly a lot of money was raised. How much of it actually got where it was supposed to go, who knows. But I'm pretty sure most of the people there that day, myself included, were not thinking about anything other than the music and the experience.

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Listen to Yourself

Have you ever had a visit with a doctor that just didn't feel right? That happened to me yesterday. Nothing specific but I just didn't feel comfortable. I noticed the office wasn't as clean or organized as I expect, but I didn't think it was enough to make me leave. I wish I had followed my instincts at that time and left. But because I had waited to get the appointment I thought I should stay.

I guess my discomfort showed because towards the end of the appointment the doctor actually asked You just don't want to be here, do you? I said no and told him not to take it personally.

The practice was a specialty that my regular doc referred me to. The guy I saw was actually an associate in the practice of the doctor she suggested. But I couldn't get an appointment as soon as I wanted and since it was the same practice I thought it didn't matter. No need to get into the particulars but I'll tell you I'll only go back for a review of the tests.

If further tests or treatments are suggested, I'll be looking for another referral.

As I often tell others, you are your own best advocate. Educate yourself to the best of your ability, ask questions (that's never a problem for me) but most importantly Follow your gut. If something makes you uncomfortable, don't put yourself in that situation again.

Just sayin'

Monday, September 12, 2011

We Were the World

It's 11 p.m. Friday, July 12, 1985. After working second shift my significant other of the time came to my house, and we climbed into my lime green Pinto and headed south.

We drove through the night and arrived at Philadelphia's JFK Stadium just before 7 a.m. The gates opened soon after when we filed in to show our $35 tickets that we paid $65 for. It's general admission but the crowd is amazingly orderly. No pushing, no shoving just a lot of very excited music lovers.

At nine o'clock Joan Baez came onto the stage and said Good morning children of the 80's. This is your Woodstock and it's long overdue. The place went nuts.

That's how The Live Aid concert for African famine relief began in Philadelphia on July 13, 1985. There was another concert going on at the same time in Wembley Stadium in London, England and both venues were telecast worldwide.

I remember hearing that there was only one arrest at JFK in a crowd of more than 100,000. Now parents brawl at their kids' little league games.

Once inside we had to decide what side of the stadium would be best. Forget the field. There's no seating and will be shoulder to shoulder all day. There would also never be any shade.

I'm a redhead which means the sun and I are not friends. It can burn me like toast. I needed shade for at least part of the day. I was prepared with water in a plastic Tupperware jug (no little bottles of water back then), sunscreen, light clothes, food and my white fedora. I was very cool in my fedora which I still have.

There was a point about mid-afternoon when the sun began to get to me, and I was getting dizzy. I remember he said We can leave. To which I replied No way, I'll go inside, throw up and come back before we'll leave. It didn't quite come to that.

The one time I did go to the bathroom it took me 30 minutes, and I missed a whole act. I vowed not to need to do that again. Stopped drinking water, stopped bathroom breaks.

Can you see me there in the section on the right about half-way up? Maybe not.

The 16-hour, all-day and much-of-the-night concert featured some of the biggest names in rock music, including Mick Jagger, Tina Turner, Madonna, Bob Dylan, and Paul McCartney some in Philly, some in London. Phil Collins actually played both sides of the Atlantic. He played in London then got on the Concorde and came to play for us.

Between the two stadiums there were nearly 175,000 people and another 1.5 billion viewed it on TV. The event, organized by Bob Geldorf of The Boomtown Rats raised over $100 million. The phone lines worldwide were repeatedly jammed by people calling to donate during the concert.

The show lasted in Philly until 11:30 p.m. when more than 100,000 people walked, stumbled and dragged themselves, once again in very orderly fashion, out to the parking lot and into a two-hour traffic jam. We drove north a couple hours and found a hotel off the highway where after more than 40 hours without sleep we collapsed and slept for 12 hours. Those were the days.

Here's part of the line up in Philadelphia:

Duran Duran, The Hooters, Bob Dylan, Four Tops, Patti Labelle, Hall & Oates, Billy Ocean, Ozzy Osbourne, Run DMC, Rick Springfield, Crosby, Stills and Nash, Judas Priest, Bryan Adams, The Beach Boys, George Thoroughgood & The Destroyers, Bo Didley, Simple Minds, The Pretenders, Eric Clapton, Carlos Santana, Madonna, Neil Young, Tom Petty, The Cars, Kenny Loggins, and too many others to name. Some are gone (some really gone) and some are still rocking.

In anticipation of the event I started collecting magazines and then newspaper clipping afterwards. Everything I could find I put into an album along with photos I took that day.

Here's some my memorabilia including my ticket, concert program, fan, and the magazines and newspaper articles.

And now I've decided it needs to go. I'm putting it up for auction on eBay. Let's hope someone else is as notalgic for those days as I am.

Sunday, September 11, 2011

The Purple Suede Jacket

When Paul and I began dating in the early 80's I had been divorced for a couple years. I managed to keep the house in the divorce. Of course, the mortgage came with it. Although it was a very satisfying feeling to own my own home, financially it was a struggle. I used to say my money ran out before the month did.

There was a little boutique back then where I liked to window shop. One day there was a purple suede jacket that I just had to have. It was definitely not in the budget but I bought it anyway. Before taking off the tags I showed it to Paul.

The next time we went out he asked where my purple suede jacket was. I told him I had decided to return it. He asked why and I said I had changed my mind. When he pushed for a better reason I sheepishly said I found out I needed two new tires for my car, and I couldn't afford both. His immediate response was Let me buy it for you. So I kept the purple suede jacket and over the years nearly wore it out.

Eventually it went out of style, or at least out of MY style, but I never gave it away. It's still in a garment bag at the back of a closet. I checked this morning. At first I couldn't find it and I got a funny feeling in my stomach and thought I couldn't have. A little more searching and there it was.

This morning while talking about purging some clothes, Paul said we have entirely too many jackets and coats and need to give some to charity. I agreed but thought But not my purple suede jacket.

One day, hopefully far into the future, when the grandkids are cleaning out our house they will come upon a purple suede jacket and I'm sure they will wonder Did Grandma really wear this? Yup, I sure did.

Friday, September 9, 2011

Next Time I'll Get It Right

I have been in the airport and clapped when spontaneous applause broke out when a group of soldiers in uniform came through the gate.

I was part of the screaming, clapping throng of family and friends in the hangar at Quonset Point Naval Air Station when my cousin Nelson came home four years ago from his second tour in Iraq. A National Guardsman since he was 18, Nel was 54 years old at the end of that tour. I still get a lump in my throat and tears in my eyes when I think of that day.

I know about the Thank a Soldier Gratitude Campaign. So why did I hesitate to show my sign of gratitude to the man in uniform I saw getting his groceries in the market yesterday? I thought about it. I was uncomfortable. I thought he might not be aware of the gesture. Pretty lame excuses.

Please take a moment and watch this video.

Next time I'll get it right. I promise.

Wednesday, September 7, 2011

Good Night and Goodbye Irene

Hurricane Irene was downgraded to a tropical storm by the time it hit us last week. Even so with high winds and rain, more than half the population of the state lost power, some for more than a week.

We were without power for three days. The 25# of ice in blocks I froze in preparation wasn't enough to keep our refrigerator cold long enough to avoid losing most of what was in it. It was no great loss.

The deck looked like a whole tree had been shredded. We had two trees come down in the yard and a fence was blown down. We were lucky. The picture above is a tree in one neighbor's yard that fell and landed on another neighbor's house.

There is no public water in our area so we have a private well. The water is pumped from the well into the house. No power, no pump, no water. And no flushing toilets. You can flush by pouring a bucket of water into the tank but you have to have that water available, too.

We were fairly well prepared. Paul had filled a container with a few gallons of drinkable water, and I had bought three gallons of bottled water. We filled up two other containers which probably held a total of ten gallons to flush toilets with and wash with.

It is amazing how little water we used. We did the usual washing and brushing of teeth. Paul heated water to take a half cold bath/shower a couple times. I went to my mother's once for a hot shower. She had running, hot water.

We managed to cook a few meals. First on the camp stove in the garage while the storm was going and then on the gas grill later. I used regular dishes and heated water to wash them.

When the lights came on after three days we had only used part of the utility water and were no where near using all the potable water. We were stunned by how little water we had used.

Even though we think we are fairly conservative and try not to waste water, it was amazing how little we managed to exist on. I guess we should try a little harder.


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