Sunday, June 20, 2010

A Few Fathers I wanted to Thank

Its not a big holiday - there are no religous or historical overtones, and it was always a little embarassing for me after my son became a man but today , for some reason, without plan or deep thought, I wanted to take a minute to highlight a couple of fathers for their impact on my life.

 Meet Isadore Lublin, my dad's father who left Russia at the start of the last century to escape the pogroms that victimized his people and his family. He never spoke about his experiences there, but found a new start in this country, where his three sons ( my dad, my Uncle Paul, and my Uncle Harry) grew strong and capable starting businesses and families of their own. He passed away when I was only 7 , but the memories of him persist to this day as a kind and warm man whose family was all important to him.
This is David Krasno, my mother's father. David came to the U.S. as a master watch mechanic in the early 19th century, and after living in New york where he met his wife, moved to a small town in Pennsylvania where he started a jewelry business, and raised 3 girls, all of whom attended college and became successful in their chosen fields, my Aunt Ruth, my Mom, my Aunt Bette. And all of this at a time when women were not as liberated as they are today. From him I learned that life can be a long and curvy road, but the line to your family should always be a direct one.

 This is my father, George Lublin. Born in Philadelphia, he suffered from Polio as a child, though he persevered through and became a physically strong young man after being a sickly child. The oldest of three sons, he left high school during the depression so that he could work and help the family through the tough time. During World War II, physically limited by his encounter with polio, he worked in the Brooklyn Navy Yard, where he built ships and endured antisemitism while his younger brothers went to war . 

After the war he began a career as an insurance agent, building a business and a family with my mom, enduring the loss of a child between the births of my sister and myself. And in the midst of life, he endured another blow when in 1961, he was left a widower with an 11 year old son and a 17 year old daughter. He changed careers in the late 1960's to real estate at the urging of his brother Paul, and worked at the same company for the remaining 8 years of his life, until he struggled against lung cancer to the inevitable end.

It is impossible to tell you what I learned from my dad. I don't know if I can attribute my bizarre sense of humor to him, but I'm pretty sure I can attribute my love of books and art to him since I was surrounded by both growing up. I know that I learned a lot about dealing with people and facing adversity from him and he is still the standard for me. I know that he is a presence in my life and that I still miss him even today. I know that while he was a fallible individual as we all are but to me he was a great dad - and I know that he did the best he could with what life gave him to work with.

This picture is a pretty special one to me. Its the only picture I own that shows my dad with my son. My son Hal was born on January 9, 1997. My dad George died on August 11, 1977. They had very little time together, and Hal obviously can't remember his grandfather, but my dad knew my son and loved him very much. I still remember taking Hal to the Fox Chase Cancer Center, where my father could join Hal for an impromptu "picnic" on the grass outside his room - a point of happiness in a difficult time.
And of course, here's  the reason I get to participate in father's day - my son Hal. No reason for adding this picture here except I really like it. And no son could ever be more super than mine to me :-)

Just a quick jump to a new limb of the family tree - Here is my son's Father-In-Law, Ernest Kelley. (along with Sheila  and the lovely Janet Kelley - Hal's Mother-In-Law) . Ernest is a Father who deserves to be mentioned with the guys I'm assembling here. He and Janet are exceptional people who were an absolute bonus to a great daughter-in-law. But in our conversations on many long walks, Ernest has shown me that even though we come from different backgrounds, we meet on the values that make a parent - and a man. (Though I would be remiss if I didn't point out that he ,llike Hal and me married wayyyy over his head!)

And this picture is just one of my favorites. Though I miss my lovely wife, I still have my kids - Hal and Jennifer - and through them the circle of life (thanks Disney) continues - and like every Father everywhere today - they are the greatest gift anyone could ever have.  I hope your gifts are just as great!

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Monday, June 14, 2010

Change Your Air Filters Monthly (But Don't Go Cheap)

3M Filtrete for HVAC units
As the mercury rises into the summer months, don't forget to change your home's air filters regularly.  It not only extends the life of your HVAC unit, but can help keep your energy costs down, too.
Not all air filters are created alike, however. Don't go cheap.
Your local hardware store carries a variety of air filters ranging in price from less than a dollar to $20 or more per filter. They're all purported to do the same job, but after watching this 1-minute video, you'll see why cheaper isn't necessarily better.
Airborne particles are smaller than most mesh filters. Pleated filters are recommended instead.

Most high-quality air filters start around $11 and can be purchased in bulk from Amazon at discounts of up to 20 percent.  3M's Filtrete line of products is a popular, well-selling brand and can last up to 3 months.
If your home has shedding pets or is dust-prone, consider changing them monthly.

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Saturday, June 12, 2010

Relocate America's Top 100 Places To Live (2010 Edition)

Relocate America Top 100 Places To LiveRelocate America recently released its 2010 list of Top 100 Places To Live In America. The rankings are topped by some cities you may expect, and some you may not.
According to Relocate America, the rankings highlight communities "moving in the right direction", defined as having a combination of strong leadership, job opportunities, improving real estate markets, recreational options and a good quality of life.
It's not a bad formula and topping the list of Top 100 Places To Live In America is Huntsville, Alabama.  Huntsville was chosen for its low levels of unemployment, stable housing stock, and low cost of living.  Last year, Huntsville placed fifth on the Relocate America list.
The Top 10 cities in which to live, as selected by Relocate America are:

  1. Huntsville, AL
  2. Washington, DC
  3. Austin, TX
  4. San Diego, CA
  5. San Antonio, TX
  6. Tulsa, OK
  7. Charlotte, NC
  8. Raleigh, NC
  9. Boulder, CO
  10. Minneapolis, MN
View the complete Top 100 Places To Live In America 2010 list at the Relocate America website.
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Thursday, June 10, 2010

Your Microwave Wastes $70 Per Year And Other Vampire Energy Facts

Even when they're not "on", a multitude of everyday home appliances continue to draw power from the grid, raising home energy bills and increasing atmospheric emissions. These so-called "Energy Vampires" cost U.S. homeowners $4 billion, collectively, in 2005.
In 2010, that figure is likely higher.
In the video above, some of the more common Energy Vampires are highlighted. As an example of how costly standby power can be, researchers show that idle microwave ovens consume enough energy each day to pop an entire bag of microwave popcorn. Annually, the kind of energy consumption wastes close to $70 per household.
Other household Energy Vampires include:

  • Idle battery chargers
  • Computers in "standby" mode
  • Remote control sensors
Simply being aware of home energy-suckers is one easy way to reduce your electricity bill and do something good for the environment. The video shows you how you can both.
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Wednesday, June 9, 2010

How To Clean Your Grill For Better Tasting Food

A well-maintained grill is the key to great tasting food, season after season -- chicken, meats, fish or other.  And keeping your grill clean is simple.
In this 4-minute from Lowe's, you'll learn basic, pre-grilling cleaning tricks, plus how to breakdown your gas grill completely and clean its parts.
Some of the pointers from the video:

  • Clean your grill before every use using the grill's own heat and a wire brush
  • Don't try to clean rusted and/or broken grill grates -- replace them
  • After long periods of non-use, check your burners for insects and pests
The video is geared at beginners and includes a step-by-step tutorial. Even the most seasoned griller could probably pick up a tip or two.
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Monday, June 7, 2010

Should You Refinance Your Mortgage?

Because of strife in Greece, Spain and North Korea, conforming mortgage rates are back to all-time lows. They're at levels not seen in 50 years.  For homeowners that missed the Refi Boom of November 2009, it's a second chance.
In this well-presented, 3-minute video from NBC's The Today Show, you'll get tips getting low rates and choosing the best time to lock in.
Some of the topics covered include:

  • Why were the experts wrong about rates moving higher this summer?
  • How much money can you save with a 1 point drop in your interest rate?
  • Should you buy a bigger home now that rates have fallen?
The advice in the piece is matter-of-fact and centered.  There is no cheerleading and the message is honest. Mortgage rates are low and they likely won't stay that way.  If you've been thinking about a refinance, talk to your loan officer as soon as possible.
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Saturday, June 5, 2010

A Dual-Edged Roller Knife To Make Your Chopped Salads Easier

OXO Good Grips Salad Chopper and Bowl
With the Oxo Salad Chopper, making chopped salad for the family and/or friends is both faster and safer.
Using a dual-blade roller knife similar to a pizza cutter, the ergonomic Salad Chopper cuts lettuce, vegetables, fruits, meats and nuts with just a few rolls.  There's no need for a separate cutting board (and no worries of slicing a finger).
Made from stainless steel, the angle-handled roller is built to trace the curves of the accompanying Oxo bowl. The blades remain in constant contact with the plastic and the rim has a built-on grip to help you get a handle on your work.
The 5.5-quart bowl is big enough for 6 servings and is dishwasher-safe.  Oxo says you can serve in it, too, but that's up to you.
Trade in store-bought salad bags and opt for something fresher.  Oxo's Salad Chopper sells on for $25.

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