Past Articles
This form does not yet contain any fields.


    Esther Blumenfeld  

    The purpose of this web site is to entertain.  My humor columns died along with the magazines where they were printed, although I cannot claim responsibility for their demise.  I still have something to say, and if I can bring a laugh or two to your day, my mission will be fulfilled.

    Everyone I know thinks he has a sense of humor.  Here is my unsolicited advice. If you try to be funny and no one laughs, don’t worry about it.  However, if you try to be funny and no one EVER laughs, you might have a little problem.




    Last week, city officials in Tucson, Arizona, the place I call home, announced that electric scooters are coming to town. The plan is that initially 1,500 of them will hit streets (as well as several pedestrians) relatively soon.  One estimate is that the companies, Razor and Bird will pay the city as much as $300,000.00 a year. However, they did not estimate the cost of lawsuits that will follow.

    Users will rent the scooters on an hourly basis using a mobile app. Whew! that leaves me out. I don’t have a smart phone.  My little flip phone works just fine.  As a matter of fact, today, a woman offered to buy it from me. I may be starting a new retro fad.

    But back to e-scooters. They go 15 mph, and the electric charge lasts for about 15 miles, without a charge. I guess there is something magic about that number 15.  Anyway, at the end of the day companies will pick them up to be charged, unless a “juicer” takes a scooter home, and charges it overnight.  He can make from $3.00 to $20.00 per hour depending on location. To collect the money, the “juicer” must return the scooter to the e-scooter dock fully charged.
    One little glitch is that chargers have been stolen to power other devices.  

    In San Francisco over 200 scooters were stolen in the first month of usage, which led to cable locks. Tucson’s proximity to Mexico may set a new record.

    First: Let’s look at the advantages of e-scooters.

     They provide transit where otherwise people rely on public transportation such as vehicles with 4-wheels, and a metal enclosure to protect their bodies.
     E-scooters are fun! (unless you aren’t wearing a helmet.)

    That’s about it.  What are the disadvantages other than the personal liability when hitting a pedestrian, damaging property, or causing a car accident? Well, there is a huge gap in insurance coverage for e-scooters. Auto insurance doesn’t cover them. Nor will your homeowner’s insurance.  However, I did discover that VOOM, an Israeli company carries, “On- Demand Insurance” for drone operators in the U.S., and plans to roll out per-ride insurance for e-scooters.

    I don’t know how much homework city officials did before considering this pilot e-scooter program, but here is what I dug up.  

    Arizona State University in Phoenix, AZ no longer allows e-scooters, because they overran the campus. The powers-to-be at AU stated that “e-scooters are a nuisance and potential danger being driven by people without proper training,” and I might have added, a few intoxicated students. After all, it is a campus.  The University of Arizona in Tucson has already banned scooters from campus, and they haven’t even gotten to town yet.

    So what is the experience elsewhere?

    In 2018, in Detroit, it cost $1.00 to unlock, and 33 cents (my computer does not have a cents sign) a minute to ride an e-scooter. A resident of that city said, “Working in Detroit, the most dangerous thing about the city is a chance of getting run over by someone on a scooter.”

    The first year in Los Angeles there were 249 reported e-scooter injuries. Protesters have burned them or thrown them into the ocean.  St. Louis, and New York City banned them. In Nashville, TN, the home of country music, numerous accidents were recorded as well as 8 e-scooter deaths in the last 2 years.  There must be a country song in there somewhere,—“When my scooter went on and left me.” Reaction in Santa Monica was, “The streets are littered and pedestrians are upset.” E-scooters are popular in Washington, DC. Millions of people have taken rides around the White House. I guess they are a good fit just scooting around and around and around and not really getting anywhere.

    Uber is launching e-scooters in Europe. Madrid gave an electric scooter company 72 hours to remove scooters from the Spanish capital.

    Soon we shall see if e-scooters are a good fit for Tucson when the Monsoon rains arrive.
    Do those things float?

    Esther Blumenfeld



    At first, I thought, “What’s the matter with my television set?” Then, I thought, “Am I going totally nuts?” CBS was gaslighting me with a disembodied voice, but the voice wasn’t on every program on that network, nor was it on any other channel. The voice was just speaking on one program—the newly introduced—THE GOOD FIGHT,  Episode One. The voice was not on, THE GOOD FIGHT,  Episode Two, which immediately followed Episode One.

    It went something like this: “The lawyer enters the office. His secretary smiles and tells him he has a phone call. He rushes to his office, and finds someone sitting at his desk. It isn’t him!”

    “Okay," I thought, “Some know-it-all must think that everything that is happening has to be explained, but this is really annoying!”

    Then, I remembered that a few days ago, the same thing happened when I was watching a cooking contest on the FOX Network. “Phoebe, brings her dish to the judges table. One judge grimaces. The second judge throws Phoebe’s dish into the bushes. Another judge utters a profanity.” But at the time, I thought this was pretty normal for Fox, and I also thought “Phoebe is toast.”

    I know about closed captioning on TV for people with hearing disabilities, but those written captions are on every channel, on every station and even on every commercial. This was something else—a selective, anonymous voice that turned up—at will—only occasionally.

    So, to check my sanity, I asked Mr. Google “How do I get rid of a voice-over on CBS?” With great relief, I saw that the question had been asked by many other irritated viewers, but both the cause and the solution were nebulous.  Next, I called my semi-trustworthy Comcast provider.

    The first technician I reached was one of the few people left in Honduras. We had trouble communicating, so I hung up and tried again. The second technician was the only other person left in Honduras. He had never heard of this problem, but said that I might be picking up on someone else’s signal, so he booted up my system (on my TV—not me!)  After the booting, the problem was gone.

    A few days later, I once more turned my television station to CBS to watch THE GOOD FIGHT, and again, a voice said, “The lawyer enters the room with an annoyed expression on his face.” NOT AS ANNOYED AS MINE!

    Yes, I called Comcast again. This time I reached a young woman in the Philippines. She told me that she did not know why this was happening on only one program, but instructed me on the intricacies of turning off all disembodied voices on my television set. So far, it has worked.

    I can just imagine if this had happened to someone watching a football game: “He’s got the ball. He’s  running with the ball. The crowd is cheering. He fumbles the ball. The crowd groans. A man in the stands is shouting. His face turns red. The Quarterback looks offended.”

    Or, what about a news show where the voice explains: “The President promises this. The President promises that. Congress promises that and this. The President vetoes that but will go with this.”

    The voice chokes up. Your TV blows up and it’s time to read a good book.

    Esther Blumenfeld



    As soon as I heard that there was a super-duper senior residence being built across the street, from where I now live, I was one of the first future residents to sign up for an apartment in June of 2017.  Everyday since, I have been watching this, one-hundred-and-ten-million-dollar, (glad this is a story and not a check) structure being built, with over 250 workers on site, finally, there seems to be a move-in date somewhere in the offing—depending on government inspections.

    In the ensuing two years, rumors have been flying from prospective resident to prospective resident about the move-in date. First it was expected in January, then March, April (for sure!) May, June, July (really for sure). Now maybe September..(for maybe sure). I feel as if I’m back in high school, waiting to be asked to the prom, when people say, “Do you have a date yet?” Dejected, I hang my head and whisper,”Not yet, but I am hopeful.”

    With five restaurants, some prospective residents are worried that, “So many people will come here to eat from the outside that there won’t be room for people who live here.” Not true!  It’s just another false rumor. The only outsiders  who can eat in the restaurants will be guests of the residents. Of course, that means that we have to be extremely careful of outsiders who suddenly want to be our best friends at dinner time.

    I understand that the apartments are so well built that you can shout obscenities in your apartment, and the people in the adjoining apartment can’t hear you. I really like that, because I often yell  obscenities at my television set.

    When my husband was a graduate student, we moved into married student housing. The first night, in our apartment, my husband said, “Come look at the beautiful moon.”  Then he said, “Oh, My God!  There are two of them.  Hit the floor!”  It was then that we discovered that the married student apartments were in the landing pattern of the airport.  Also, we were treated to the university marching band practicing under our window early every morning. I didn’t care.  It was our home—until we moved.  

    During the first night in our next apartment, I gave my husband a poke and said, “You are snoring.”  He replied, “It isn’t me. I thought it was you.” Turns out it was the man next door. I never did find out if there was a wall under that wall paper.

    Our next apartment had a clogger overhead.  Every night, after work, she’d move the  furniture across the floor, turn up the music and stomp to her heart’s content. Then we moved to an apartment owned by the mafia. No noise! No problems! No cutting of the grass.  One afternoon, our neighbor lost her toddler in the un-cut lawn and we all had to look for her.

    Our dear friends, Janet and George moved to an apartment that had been a dental office.  Their kitchen looked a bit like a dental lab. One day, they came home from class and found a man sitting in their living room reading a portion of Janet’s thesis. He said, “Is the dentist in?”
    Janet said, “This is no longer a dental office. Couldn’t you tell the difference?” As he left he said, “I think you could have provided better reading material.”

    Then there was the bizarre: Gail and Joe moved into a place where all the doorknobs were covered with little crochet caps.  The first night in their bedroom, they discovered that the Chinese themed wallpaper glowed in the dark.  All night they had visions of little Chinese men dancing across the walls.

    And finally,  Lawrence and Carolyn got a really good deal when they purchased a mansion. His law firm had handled the sensational  case of the owner’s bloody  murder while he had taken a vacation somewhere in the Caribbean. Turns out that he had been quite an oddball with very strange friends, and the publicity about his life killed any chance of selling that house. Eventually, Lawrence and Carolyn transformed that house into a beautiful home where they raised their children.

    It’s been a long time since I have lived in an apartment. Right now, it’s just a place. A place does not make a home. People make a home.  I can do that—-if they ever let me move in.

    Esther Blumenfeld


    Apollo Mission

    In honor of the moon landing, I am proud to share the following story sent to me by my friend, David Snell, a former correspondent on ABC  Televison News. David is now the author of several books and his most recent best seller is THE BARON AND THE BEAR.  Esther Blumenfeld

    A friend emailed that he saw me on a TV special, The Lost Tapes of Apollo 13.  It reminded me of my Apollo experiences.  As follows.

    Space and Me
           My first space assignment was Apollo 11, the Neal Armstrong-Buzz Aldrin attempt to land a man on the moon.  It was an exciting assignment and one that veteran correspondents weren’t seeking because of Jules Bergman.  Jules was ABC’s Science Editor and in the age of space exploration, as close as reporters ever came to true expertise.  But Jules was jealous of his turf which meant   prospects of getting on the air from the Manned Spacecraft Center in Nassau Bay, Texas (near Houston) were, shall we say, limited.
           Along with the correspondents from CBS and NBC, I spent endless hours outside the homes of the astronauts waiting for the moments (few and far between) when members of the family would venture forth.  The good news was that Mary Lou was with me and, while I was waiting, she was enjoying time by the pool and lunches in a not-too-bad motel restaurant. 
           “One small step for a man, one giant leap for mankind.”
           Despite limited air time, it was a thrill just being there watching – on the giant NASA screen – when Armstrong first set foot on the moon.  The following morning I was stationed outside Mission Control when John Glenn, our first man to orbit the earth, came walking toward me.  I don’t remember much about that interview, but I earned ninety dollars for a question – “What are they doing now?” – that made it onto an audio recording ABC made to memorialize the historic flight. It was earlier that morning when I did a live stand-upper (just me in front of a mock-up of the lunar landing module) that could have been career ending.
           Frank Reynolds in New York switched to me to describe “The mood of Mission Control.”  “Well Frank,” I began, hearing my voice coming back to me on the gizmo in my left ear.  The audio man in New York hadn’t flipped the right switch so every word I said made the round trip from Houston to New York and back again.  It was discombobulating.  A more experienced reporter would have had enough sense to remove the ear piece, give his report, and put it back again when he was finished.  I didn’t.  And, since everything I had intended to say was blown out of my mind, I tried to describe what I was seeing.  It was word salad.
           How bad was it?  I called Mary Lou back in the motel for reassurance.  “How bad was it?” I asked, hoping against hope that, somehow, I had managed to make some kind of sense.  “I’m packing,” she said.  Was it really that bad?  “You sounded like you were drunk.”       My next phone call was to the producer in New York.  I hoped I could explain what happened and find a sympathetic ear.
           His secretary answered the phone and handed it to the producer.  “It’s Snell from Houston.”  I waited, listening to the muffled voices in the background, practicing my explanation.
           “Good job,” he said, obviously preoccupied by the ongoing program. “Just what we needed.” 
           Somewhere, out there in America, there are viewers who will be forever convinced they heard an ABC correspondent who was drunk out of his mind.  In New York, nobody noticed.  I was standing there talking with that space-flight looking object over my shoulder and they, with my sound turned down, were discussing what came next. 
           I was back for Apollo XII and XIII with limited expectations of on-air exposure, but by then we had made friends with Texas-based reporters and one NASA Engineer – Donald Arabian – and his wife Debbie, so at least we had a social life.  We were at dinner in Houston one evening while astronauts were moon-bound on Apollo XIII when I got a call.  “Houston, we have a problem” were the five words that singled a routine flight had become anything but.  We hurried back to the Manned Spacecraft Center and the ABC house trailer that was our make-shift studio.
           During nearly a half hour of waiting while AT&T scrambled to connect lines to New York, I listened as Jules Berman, our science editor, droned on and on, detailing, in technical language that raised more questions than it answered,  the problem the spacecraft had encountered.  I took notes, trying to make sense of what he was saying.  Once AT&T had us connected, I spent most of the next half-hour quizzing Jules on the meaning of his scientific explanations.  It turned out he really did know what he was talking about, just not how to say it in everyday English.
           As the evening went on into night, and night to morning, I reveled in the most on-air exposure I’d ever experienced.  After that first half-hour interviewing Jules, I was on every five to ten minutes interviewing a succession of ex-astronauts and NASA officials who weren’t involved in calculating how to solve the problem and engineering the safe return or the astronauts. Once, while Jules carried on from New York, Apollo XII Command Pilot Pet Conrad arrived in our “studio.” 
           “Nope,” he said, as we listening to Jules explaining some technical fix the astronauts might try.  “Ain’t no way.”  On and on he went as Jules continued his explanation.  By the time Jules switched to us, I had picked up enough about Pete and his relationship to Jules that I said:  “I have Apollo XII astronaut Pete Conrad with me, Jules, and he has a few bones to pick with you.  Sick-um, Pete.”
           What followed was a fun and funny back and forth between Pete, who had an infectious personality, and the usually stiff and staid Mr. Bergman.  It turned out they had a kidding relationship going back from Conrad’s earliest days as an astronaut.  Obviously delighting in their easy banter, Jules showed a personality he’d never before used on the air.  Along the way, he also showed an impressive understanding of technical aspects of space flight.  “You’re right about that,” Pete conceded on one arcane point.
           Buoyed by the concession, Jules went on to a discussion of the importance of turning “the framous” exactly one quarter turn.  “You’re wrong on that one, Jules,” said Pete, obviously pleased with himself.  “The framous needs to be adjusted three-quarters of a turn.”  Back and forth they went, each explaining why they were right.  Finally I intervened.  “Gentlemen, gentlemen.  What’s a framous?”
           It wasn’t until after the Apollo XIII astronauts had been safely splashed down in the Pacific that I learned of the role our friend Don Arabian had played in the rescue.  When all the flight engineers arrived at Mission Control that night, flight director Gene Kranz asked him to join the others in a brainstorming session.  Don shook his head.  “Can’t do group-think,” he said, going into his office and closing the door. 
           A half hour later he joined the other engineers who seemed to be getting nowhere.  Arabian had figured out how, jerry-rigging a solution from various items on board, they could bypass dysfunctional systems and save the mission.  His framework opened the way to a joint effort that made the rescue possible.
           Back in New York I was prepared to go back to my persona non grata relationship with the Evening News, something that had been going on since Av Westin became the producer several months before.  I never learned why, but, sight unseen, he’d decided I wasn’t Evening News material.  I was sitting at my desk on the third floor in what we called the Correspondents Ghetto (four cubicles of two desks each down the hall from the Assignment Desk). 
           “They want you on the quintuplet story,” said John Sandifer, the assignment editor.
           “What? Really?”
           My months in purgatory had come to an end.  Later, Bill Lord, the Washington, DC evening producer who’d been in New York that week, said Westin looked up at the monitor during one of my Apollo XIII interviews and said, “He’s pretty good.”
           Marlene Sanders, another correspondent on Westin’s bad list, was happy for me, but disturbed enough about her situation that she finally sought a meeting.  Westin explained that my redemption was because I had spent a lot of time on the second floor (where the Evening News was produced) “learning how we do things.”  Marlene knew I had never done that, but knowing didn’t resolve her situation.  Her rescue came from ABC News Vice President Bill Sheehan who put her in charge of the documentary unit.
           My redemption lifted a weight from my shoulders, but the news back in New York was not all rosy.  While I had been on the air some thirty times during two heady days, my dream of a sizable bonus was not to be.  My friend John Reiser, knowing my on-air exposure would be limited (as it had been on Apollo XI and XII, had intervened on my behalf. John, a lawyer for ABC News, told his boss they’d save money if they switched me to a flat fee during the space coverage. I don’t remember how much it was, but it was a lot less than the bonus I would have earned.  Thanks, John.
           Meanwhile, the Special Events Unit (that handled space flights) submitted our XIII coverage for an Emmy.  It included excerpts from my initial debriefing of Jules translating tech-talk into English.  Mr. Bergman was not happy.  That translated into even less exposure for me in the next two Apollo Missions.  I managed to opt out of Apollo XVI and was planning to do the same on XVII until I got a call from Special Events.  “It’s our turn to provide the (three network) pool reporter,” said Wally Phister, unit producer.  “That would be you.”
           So there I was, in the middle of the Pacific Ocean for seventeen days in December of 1972, reporting on the splashdown on NBC, CBS, Armed Forces Television and, of course, ABC.  Well, not exactly “of course.”  You would think the network would capitalize on the fact that its correspondent was the only broadcaster reporting the story.  Ah, but that would assume Jules Bergman had no say.  He did, and ABC came in dead last in their use of this pool reporter.  I know because my dad, thrilled about my assignment, had rented two extra television sets so he wouldn’t miss a minute.  I was all over NBC, made a number of appearances on CBS, and appeared only three times on my own network.  Go figure.
           I, of course, knew nothing of this.  It was my job to narrate the splashdown from the first spotting of the landing module to the splashdown, to navy frogmen helping the astronauts into the life-rafts, to the ceremony onboard the recovery ship, the Ticonderoga.  That was a lot of talking, but, in seventeen days, I’d filled up a couple of notebooks with anecdotal information and was loaded for bear. 
           Jonathan Smart, the lead frogman, told me the dressing down he got from Daniel Sorkin who lead the recovery team.  Sorkin, Smart reported, was livid after one of the full-dress simulated recoveries because Smart had radioed back to the Tico, “We’ve got sharks in the water…Sharks!”  “Never say sharks,” said Sorkin.  “If there are sharks in the water during the actual recovery, say Marine Life.  We’ll know what you mean.  If you say sharks, the little old ladies down in Houston (at Mission Control) will go crazy.”
    I also reported on the NASA-approved prayer the navy chaplain was to deliver.  It seems the chaplain’s prayer in the ceremony after astronauts Armstrong and Aldrin returned from the first lunar landing was judged to be entirely too long.  So, on subsequent aircraft carrier ceremonies, the prayers had to be approved in advance.  Chaplain XXXX XXX’s prayer today will be fifty-eight words.  Fifty-nine with amen.

    David Snell



    The legend claims that, “Vespasian was sitting in his tent after battle, and his dog brought him a hand. He knew he’d be emperor in 69 AD.” I don’t know what he named his dog, but perhaps he said something such as, “Good dog, “Caligula”! Shake!”

    I happen to like dogs very much, especially when I can play with them, and then their owners are the ones who have to pick up the poop. In American history, all of our Presidents (except one) enjoyed the companionship of their dogs.  

    George Washington, “The Father Of Our Country,” gave less than distinguished names to his hounds; “Sweet Lips, Scentwell, Vulcan, Drunken Taster, Tipler and Tipsy.” Just think of it, Washington could have been King.

    It was a common sight in Springfield to see Abe Lincoln walking to the local market with “Fido”, a floppy-eared, yellowish mutt, who trailed behind him carrying a parcel in his mouth. Sadly, “Fido” was assassinated, just like his Master, a year after Lincoln died. “Fido” made the mistake of jumping, with his dirty paws, on a drunk sitting on the curb, and the man killed him. So, “Fido” because a footnote in history—road rage at its worst.

    Sometimes the dog of a President has become a part of his master’s political life. James Garfield named his dog, “Veto.” I’m sure it must have been irritating for Congress, when they presented a bill to Garfield, and he’d shout, “Here comes “Veto.”

    The most famous dog, who became a celebrity in his own right was “Fala,” President Franklin Roosevelt’s little black Scottish Terrier, who never left the President’s  side.  He became so popular that thousands of people wrote to him, and he got his own secretary to respond to them. There was even a movie made about “Fala" in 1942.

    With all of that publicity, the Republicans decided to use “Fala” to slander the President, by spreading a rumor that President Roosevelt had accidentally left “Fala” in the Aleutian Islands, and spent millions of taxpayers’ money to send a destroyer back to retrieve him.  F.D.R. answered these accusations with his famous,”Fala” Speech.’”  In the speech given to the Teamsters Union in 1944, F.D.R. said, “Both I, and my family, somewhat expect malicious statements to be made about us, but I have to object when such statements are made about my dog!”

    President John Kennedy had 9 dogs, but “Pushinka” was probably the first mutt from Russia allowed into the Oval Office. “Pushinka” was a gift to Kennedy from the Russian Premier, and he was a litter puppy from the Soviet space dog, “Strelka.”

    Lyndon Johnson had two beagles, “Him” and “Her.” His Great Society program got less publicity than when he lifted one dog by the ears claiming, “It’s good for him.”

    In 1952, Richard Nixon, as Eisenhower’s running mate, was the first politician to use television to defend himself of accepting illegal gifts. He referred to his black and white cocker spaniel, “Checkers,” ( whom his family had been given as a gift) when he said, “And you know, the kids, like all kids, love the dog, and I just want to say this, right now, that regardless of what they are saying about it, we’re gonna keep it.”  The address became known as the “Checkers Speech.”

    Too bad, that, years later,  “Checkers” didn’t have his own apartment at Watergate. That could have been a good excuse for the break-in—-“Just here to play checkers.”

    I recently said to a friend, “All of the other Presidents had dogs. Why do you suppose that Donald Trump doesn’t have a dog?” He replied, “He’s got the Senate. They bark! They sit! They  roll over! Who needs a dog?”

    Esther Blumenfeld