Ponderings and Musings

Give Me A Hungry Man.

The man the invented the TV dinner, Gerry Thomas, passed away today. In his honour, Earl and I are going to enjoy a couple of Swanson Hungry Man TV dinners tonight while we watch a black and white episode of Bewitched and an early episode of The Golden Girls (gotta maintain our gay card).

There’s nothing like fried chicken, green beans, mashed potatoes and an apple dessert in a tin foil pan that’s been heated up in an oven. No RadarRange for us tonight! We’ll probably chase it down with a beer.

PARADISE VALLEY, Ariz. (July 21) – Gerry Thomas, credited with inventing the TV dinner more than a half-century ago and giving it its singular name, has died at the age of 83.

Thomas died Monday, Terry Crowley at Messinger Mortuary said Wednesday. He had a long bout with cancer, relatives told The Arizona Republic.

Thomas was a salesman for Omaha, Neb.-based C.A. Swanson and Sons in late 1953 when he had the idea of packaging frozen meals in a segmented tray.

“It’s a pleasure being identified as the person who did this because it changed the way people live,” he said in a 1999 Associated Press interview. “It’s part of the fabric of our society.”

He recalled that the inspiration came when he was visiting a distributor, spotted a metal tray and was told it was developed for an experiment in preparation of hot meals on airliners.

“It was just a single compartment tray with foil,” he recalled. “I asked if I could borrow it and stuck it in the pocket of my overcoat.”

He said he came up with a three-compartment tray because “I spent five years in the service so I knew what a mess kit was. You could never tell what you were eating because it was all mixed together.”

Since interest in television was booming, he added: “I figured if you could borrow from that, maybe you could get some attention. I think the name made all the difference in the world.”

The first Swanson TV Dinner – turkey with corn bread dressing and gravy, sweet potatoes and buttered peas – sold for about $1 apiece and could be cooked in 25 minutes at 425 degrees.

“We had the TV screen and the knobs pictured on the package. That was the real start of marketing,” Thomas said.

Ten million dinners were sold in the first year of national distribution.

They drew “hate mail from men who wanted their wives to cook from scratch like their mothers did,” but they got him a bump in pay to $300 a month and a $1,000 bonus.

“I didn’t complain. A thousand dollars was a lot of money back then,” he said.

However, he didn’t want to call himself the father of the TV dinner.

“I really didn’t invent the dinner. I innovated the tray on how it could be served, coined the name and developed some unique packaging,” he said in the 1999 AP interview. “If I’m the father of the TV dinner, who’s the mother? I think it’s ludicrous.”

After the Campbell Soup Co. acquired Swanson in 1955, Thomas became a sales manager, then marketing manager and director of marketing and sales. He left the company after a heart attack in 1970. He later directed an art gallery and did consulting work.

Make Me Purr.

I’ve recently sharpened my skills in the area of catnaps. This week’s on call has been light, but unconveniently timed, so I’ve been trying to eek out some sleep during my lunch hour, between trouble calls and between peeing and showering.

It’s a skill that I’m becoming very good at.

In the past, when I’ve napped, they’ve been long, drawn out affairs that last an hour or two. This results in my feeling very groggy afterwards and not being able to sleep until 3 a.m. Not convenient for the work week. So I’ve been following Tom’s leading and taking these little five to ten minute catnaps when I can fit them in.

I think I’m becoming so skilled that I can fit them in between a period and a comma during a conversation with a co-worker.

I think the cats have the right idea. Now if I could convince Earl to scratch my tummy instead of just behind the ears.

Get Into The Groove.

In the past I’ve always complained that getting back into the work groove after a week’s vacation is difficult. For some reason, I’m not having that familiar blah feeling this time around. Work was good today. I enjoyed going back. I looked forward to the challenge.

Perhaps I’m striving for that “Employee of the Year” award or something. No, that’s not it. I know, I must be growing up. I enjoy being productive and feeling like I’m contributing to society and doing something good for the world.

Of course, it always help to have cake on your first day back to work. My co-workers had a little birthday cake and card for me in celebration of last week’s joyous event. Our little team is such a little work family. It’s good to enjoy my job.

Earl’s trip to Texas was cancelled due to no flights heading into the area, so he’s sticking by my side this week for a fun filled episode of “On Call”. I think he’s upset because he was looking forward to sleeping in air conditioned comfort in his little Texas hotel room but now he’s stuck with/to me in this sultry, steamy, sticky heat.

Oh well, it could be worse.

Voice Of America.

Every Independence Day I think back to when I was the “Voice of America” for my high school. At least that’s what the Assistant Principal called me every morning. You see, I was the office geek that did announced the Pledge of Allegiance every morning and then read the morning announcements over the p.a. system. I did this at exactly 8:00:05 every school morning, exactly two seconds after homeroom officially began with the sound of the 8:00 bell. (Actually, our school bells rang three seconds after their appointed time throughout the day, but only a school clock geek like me would ever notice).

I took great pride in leading the entire school through the Pledge of Allegiance.

“Good morning, would everyone please stand for the pledge of allegiance.” (wait five seconds).

“I Pledge Allegiance, to the flag, of the United States of America
And to the Republic, for which it stands,
One nation, under God, indivisible,
With liberty and justice for all.”

“Have a fabulous Friday.”

Yes, I always added the my little zinger at the end of the pledge and the announcements. A little gay touch, I suppose.

A copy of the Pledge of Allegiance was taped to the p.a. system control board, but I never needed it. Nerves never gripped me enough to make me forget the pledge. I fully believed in the Pledge of Allegiance as a kid and I still do today. If everyone would just remember that “with liberty and justice for all” part this country would be an even happier place.

Kitty Kink.

Our cat Tom has decided to become a little kinky in his old age. The other night I was sleeping peacefully, minding my own business and undoubtedly enjoying a wonderful dream. All of a sudden I felt an odd sensation under my left arm. More specifically, my left armpit.

It seems that Tom wanted a midnight snack and found that my armpit tasted of kitty caviar.

I don’t think I’ve ever heard of such a thing. Startled, I stopped him mid-lick. He was persistent, jumping over me and starting in on my right armpit. I stopped him again. He got mad and jumped off the bed. I shrugged it off, rolled over and went back to sleep.

He did the same thing this morning. Once again I scolded him and reminded him the chemicals in deoderant are not to be ingested. He gave me a stare of disinterest. I wonder what he finds so tasty about my deoderant. Or perhaps its all worn off by morning and he enjoys man sweat. I’ve met many men back in the day that enjoyed the same thing.

I couldn’t have cared too terribly much because I resisted the urge to lick my Speed Stick this morning to see what the fuss is all about.


I haven’t been really inspired to write in my blog the past couple of days. It’s not that I’m seeing the task as a chore, because I do really enjoy writing in my blog and sharing my experiences and thoughts on this and that. No, it’s just that I haven’t found many experiences to be “blog inspiring” lately.

It’s not that we don’t have a lot going on. We do. There’s the ups and downs, but that’s what it’s all about, right? For example, my grandfather is very sick with cancer. The doctors say that he’s in his final days. Earl and I drove up to my hometown to visit with him last Friday. He was in fairly good spirits. He looked very frail, but he was aware and knew what was going on and could carry on limited conversation. He looked resigned, like he’s accepted the hand that has been dealt him and is ready. We’re going up again tomorrow night to see him. My sister is going to meet us there.

My little ephinany type dream last week that basically opened up my eyes on life has had long lasting effects, because life isn’t irking me these days. Last night I was awoken at 3:05 a.m. for on-call duties. I’d usually rant and rave and scream about how unfair life and the world is. But I did none of that. I did what needed to be done without complaint and settled in to sleep on the futon so I wouldn’t disturb Earl. There are too many problems in the world to complain about what amounts to an inconvenience.

My latest health kick is showing favorable results already. I feel much better about myself. I’m making strides towards the goals I’ve set for myself. It’s all good there. My body is headed to a good place and my head is at a good place for a change.

Earl and I had a wonderful visit with his family over the weekend. It was a good time on all accounts.

I’m eagerly looking forward to getting in our new camper and going camping a week from Saturday. It’s close enough for me to close my eyes and taste the s’mores.

Perhaps I find complaining about life inspiration enough to write in my blog. It’s just that I don’t have a lot to complain about these days.

Maybe the good of it all is my true inspiration.


This past weekend, as busy as it was, has completely reset my whatever makes me tick. I feel well rested, I feel energetic, I feel focused, I feel positive.

Bring it on baby. Bring it on.

Lunch Exercise.

Lunch Exercise.

Originally uploaded by macwarriorny.

My ass has been dragging this morning. Last night’s sleep was disrupted by my school clock collection spazzing out and ringing the bells non-stop until I figured out what they were and what was happening. This all happened at 12:38 a.m. Not a good way to get a good night’s sleep.

I thought about going home and chilling out during lunch, but then I figured that I’ve done too much of that. I’ve been silently wondering if I had Chronic Fatigue Syndrome or something for the past couple of months because it just feels like I can’t get enough sleep.

But I was wrong. It’s because I’m a slug.

So instead of curling up next to Tom for a noon-time nap, I decided to take a walk in our fine city and see some areas I haven’t been to in a long time.

I think I walked just shy of three miles in 50 minutes. The warm sun felt wonderful, I was armed with some fabulous tunes on my iPod and the energy on the streets was high.

I feel like a million bucks right now. Much better than feeling groggy from an afternoon nap.

My Friend Patrice.

Part of my job duties is delivering pagers to local medical professionals. Apparently they are so busy they don’t have time to send one of their office assistants to our office to exchange their pager after they’ve flushed it down the toilet, so they call it in, I provision a new pager for them and bring it to their office with a smile on my face and a song in my heart. And a contract in my hand.

Today I had to deliver a pager to a doctor (the third pager in 60 days, by the way, he needs to stop reading his beeper in the crapper) in a home health care facility. Being a beautiful sunny day, the staff had wheeled a couple dozen of the residents outside to enjoy the fresh air. It appeared to be a wonderful attempt to lift their spirits, but some of them looked scared out of their wits. Others looked bored. Many seemed to be enjoying themselves.

It must be hard to live in that type of situation. I worked for ARC (while not the same, it is a similar situation) for a number of years back in my 20s and it’s not an easy job. Whenever I think of these facilities, I think of my friend Pat.

I met Pat back in 1987. She was a close friend of my first boyfriend and lived next door to us in Jamestown. She was always included in our little adventures, including driving to Florida in a ’82 Dodge Omni. Patrice, as we liked to call her, has an interesting past. She is an extremely intelligent woman and a gifted piano player. She is also manic-depressive. While in college in the early ’60s, Pat was misdiagnosed as schizophrenic. Her parents, with nowhere to turn, installed her into various state institutions, where she was given all sorts of drugs and lived in hideous living conditions. Years went by, I’m not sure of the history of this part, but she ended up living on her own, in her little apartment, working for the local hospital in the billing department.

I haven’t spoken with Pat in about a year. I really should give her a call. Anyways, the reason that I think of her when I’m in these health care facilities, is not because she once lived in a state institution. But rather because she spends her free time going to these types of facilities to entertain the residents by playing the piano and bringing friends along to sing and to entertain the folks. I find this a little amazing because at one time, the world turned on Pat. It dehumanized her to a point. It took away her confidence. It shut her away. Now that she’s part of the world once again, she is taking the time to give back to the community.

The world needs more people like my friend Patrice.

Pat has written a book of essays about her experiences through her life dealing with her mental illness. It’s called Blooming Is Tricky Business and is required reading for a graduate course in on the psychology of disability at the University of Texas. One of these essays can be found here. Her book was featured on Amazon and is published through Waldenbooks.

Back On Schedule.

I’m back on schedule today, stopping home for lunch and writing in my blog using my PowerBook. Everything seems to be back on focus; it’s funny to think that using the Mac Mini instead of the PowerBook or dining out instead of eating at home would throw me so far off kilter.

I guess I’m a fragile being of sorts. Either that or it’s that I’m just plain weird.

I feel like it’s Christmas Eve of sorts, with the Bewitched movie coming out tomorrow night. Earl and I are naturally going to see it on opening night. I’m still trying to figure out which would be the ideal theatre. We don’t want too many people with cell phones. The seats have to be comfortable. The sound ideal.

So many variables to consider.