Tomato Planet
Probably pretty ugly if using Internet
Explorer 9 or earlier.


4 15 18

Glass Redux

Drink up!

You remember the old phrase, An optimist sees the glass as half-full, and the pessimist sees it as half-empty. (If you forgot it, well, there it is again. You're welcome for the reminder.) I made some comments a while back about extending it to other personality types. The cynic will say it's gone bad or it's undrinkable, a statistician will try to determine what percentage of glasses are in that condition, a control freak tries to limit access. A world-worrier reminds you how far a woman in Africa has to walk to get water for her family. A whiner says it's not cold enough. And a realist shrugs and drinks what's there. Wrote it and forgot it.

Recently, there's been a some follow-on. Odd the way you can forget about something, but then it pops up in two or three unrelated places at pretty much the same time.

Anyway: An engineer will contend that the glass is full, half with gases (and possibly other compounds) in a liquid state, the rest in a gaseous state, A pragmatist will point out that the glass is refillable. The nice people at Quiet Revolution pointed to an article about Stoics who reflect upon the something in the glass to drink.

All done. Time to forget until the next time.


Computer Security

So let me see if I've got this straight. Facebook is on the hot seat with the Feds for not taking enough care of its users' data and information. Apple, on the other hand, gets in trouble with the Feds and other law enforcement agencies for being too good at protecting user data and information.


They Said It

Fortunately, i never took her up on her advice (to get counseling).
If I had sought counseling, I might have become a more mature, emotionally well-adjusted human being. But I preferred becoming a writer.

Viet Tranh Nguyen



4 6 18

Enough with the Reading Already.

I've either got to stop reading, or be more discriminating in what I read. Once again, I bumped up against some gems:

  • Following an article about the Oklahoma teachers' strike and the governor's reaction, there were some sponsored posts, the lead of which was Become a Teacher.
  • I was looking at a request for proposal, in which the prospective Contractor was told, No alcohol, illegal drugs, domestic animals, firearms, explosives, or minors shall be brought to the site under any circumstances. So it's OK, I guess, to bring foreign animals. We shouldn't plan on that bring your kids to work day, though.
  • Voters divided ahead of Pennsylvania elections. Yeah, so? Voters are always divided before an election–sometimes more evenly than others. Voters will continue to be divided after the election, too.

Composers who should be more famous

OK, it was early and I hadn't fully checked in to life yet. The announcer said the next piece was by Geronimo Frescobaldi and my immediate thought was That's the coolest name in the history of classical music! Why haven't I heard of this guy before? The music was nice, too.

Turns out it was Girolamo, not Geronimo. Cool, but not way cool. Sad. For a few moments, I was interested in classical music. I'm not sure if that was a bigger deal than being fully awake in the morning, but an accomplishment nonetheless.


More wacky writing

An author used the word spiffy in an article, and he wasn't even trying to talk antique. But I got interested enough to see when spiffy was used un-ironically. I couldn't find that, but I did find out that spificated was a synonym for drunk. So there's that.


Making the right lifestyle choices.

I am not what you would call an active guy. My daily exercise routine consists of walking from the house to the car, and then back again. In my defense, that includes four or five stairs each way!

I have been criticized for my disinterest in healthy living. I don't care, but you can imagine my reaction when I read that 150 million users of a popular exercise app had their personal data stolen. On the one hand, it was a terrible thing. On the other hand, I can't imagine a nicer group of people to have this happen to. Especially the ones who criticized my fitness routine. Well, I have better things to do with my time. And now, money.


They Said It

Writing by hand on paper is becoming a revolutionary act. Reading a physical book is becoming a revolutionary act. Protecting the books in our libraries, the arts and humanities in our colleges and universities is becoming a revolutionary act. Doing things with warm hand to warm hand, face to face, without photographing them, posting them, is becoming a revolutionary act.

Lynda Barry



3 18 18

Some Days in the Middle of March

The 14th–Pi Day

In honor of Pi Day, I offer this story form Justin Wilson.

A young man from the deepest part of the Atchafalaya Swamp showed promise in school, and so was sent off to the university. The family was very proud of him, as he was the first of his family to go to college, and actually the first to leave the family homestead.

Well, the young man arrived at college and was taken in by the social life. He stopped going to class, partied late and slept later.

At Thanksgiving, the young man went home. All his relatives doted on him. When asked about school, he changed the topic.

After dinner, his gran'pappy said to him, 'Well, boy, you've been up in that school for months now. What have you learned? Say something smart.' The boy drew a breath, stammered and finally said, 'Pi-r-square.'

The old man stepped up and briskly slapped the young man upside the head. 'What foolishness are they teaching you there? Everybody knows that pie are round. Cornbread are square!'

What can we learn from this story?

  • Thee's a difference between book learning and real world learning.
  • Get a story ready for your return home.
  • Anticipate questions.
  • Adopt the philosopher's stance: If you were smart enough to understand, you'd be a philosopher. You're not, so I can't.
  • Parents just never understand.
  • Never go home again.

The 15th–Ides

We have now completed 20 percent of the year.

I think we need a more contemporary version of Julius Caesar, like if done on social media. Spurinna: @jcaesar beware the ides of March.
jcaesar: nada so far.#beware #ides
spurinna: @jcaesar beware ides!
marcbsenator @jcaesar I unfriend thee. #idesofmarch
jcaesar: @spurinna @marcbsenator et tu, brute? First facebook, now twitter?
spurinna: @jcaessar told you so. #idesbad marcantony @marcbsenator i'm going 2 talk the bro up, dude. #friendsromascountrymen


The 16th–Separator Day

For those of you who follow college basketball, the 16th will be Big March Madness Upset Day, as UMBC, the 16th seed, beat No. 1 Virginia in the NCAA Tournament.

For those of you into signs, portents, and numerology, it's noteworthy that the 16th seed beat the #1 seed for the first time ever on the 16th day of the month.

For the rest of us, this is a day that gives us a breather between the frenzy of the Ides of March and the excitement of St. Patrick's Day.


The 17th–St. Patrick's Day

In Ireland, it is a religious feast day, heavy on the church and praying. and some parades. In the United States, it is a day of parades, drinking, wearing of the green, marathons, drinking green beer or otherwise. It also seems to spark more non-related political controversy than other celebrations.

Frankly, it all seems a little tired, and tiresome. And I'm of Irish descent. #heresy?


The 19th–Passion Sunday

This is a brilliant Catholic concept. First you have Lent–40 days of prayer, fasting, self-sacrifice and general bleah in February and March. Then just when people are settling into the routine, or falling off the Lenten wagon, you drop in Passion Sunday (the fourth Sunday of Lent), which is (or was) an intensifier, intended to remind (or warn) people of more prayer, fasting, self-sacrifice, and reminders of all that Jesus sacrificed for us.

Brilliant! Simply brilliant!


And a look ahead and back, all at the same time

There's been a lot of hand-wringing in these here parts by professional hand-wringers and TV meteorologists (mostly the same people) about the chance of snow on the first day of spring. No big whoop, I think, snow's pretty common in late March, at least back home. Besides, didn't Phil see his shadow? So we're going to have six more weeks of winter no matter what. This is just part of that.. But then, I got to thinking, after the 40 days of Lent thing, about numbers.

So I decided to do some math (the sacrifices I make for you, dear readers!). There are 47 (or so) days from Feb 2 to the first day of spring (Mar 20, 21, or 22–it depends), or a little under eight weeks. Or, no matter if Phil sees his shadow or not, we're going to have six more weeks of winter. And snow sometime in he next day or two.

Another non-event to remove from the calendar.



3 10 18

Things I Sorta Didn't Learn from Dave Barry But Did Learn from Mr. Rogers

A while back (while back: a unit of time roughly equal to I don't remember) I read (and recommended) Dave Barry's 25 Things I've Learned in 50 Years. My favorite thing is the last thing–Nobody cares if you can’t dance well. Just get up and dance.

I said that was my favorite. That does not mean I ever acted on it by getting up and dancing. I think something may have lacked the necessary oomph or conviction (on Dave's part).

Mr. Rogers

Now, PBS is pushing a show about Mr. Rogers. In the ads, Mr. Rogers never says Get up and sing, even if you can't. No, he leads by example. I can sing better than Mr. Rogers, and I can't carry a tune in a bucket if Renee Fleming was helping me lift it.

I don't know if I'm going to sing in public. But if Mr. Rogers can sing on the tee-vee with people watching, well, maybe I can get up nd sing too.

So if you see people running away from someplace with blood running from their ears, well, you'll know I gave it a shot.


They Said It.

There's usually a better way to tell a story than a chronological one.

Dr. Nick Morgan


Get in Line, Chelsea.

Chelsea Clinton claims she and Ivanka Trump are not talking. Two things:

1) There are a lot of people who are not talking with Ivanka Trump. Me, for example. Probably the pharmacist at the corner drug store. Lots.

2) Sometimes you catch a break.


Arse over teakettle.

A subheading on a Huffington Post article proclaimed, Oprah asked God for a clear sign.

I thought it was usually the other way around. I know for a fact that He is a member of Oprah's Book Club.



3 3 18

Proofs Against the Existence of an Intelligent Creator

Sinuses

an intelligent creator

Oh, No! Headlines

Argentine Navy Shoots at Illegal Chinese Fishing Boa.

It was pink, wasn't it? I just know it was pink. When will they learn? The Argentine Navy hates pink. They will let a discreet white boa slip by, or turn a blind eye to a neon green one, but never pink. It's just rubbing their noses in it. You deserve what you got, Chinese Fishing boa.


Not the metric system

When exactly did school buses become a standard unit of measure? I just heard my third reference to something being as long as a school bus this week. There are many lengths of school buses. I presume they're referring to the long ones, but I still don't know how long that is. Why not a city bus or a box car or an eight-passenger executive jet? I don't know how long any of those are, either. But at least every boxcar is as long as any other box car. They should use those instead.


Spam Alert!

My email provider is pretty good about catching spam. It's rare that any slips through. Every day, though, I check the spam notification email to make sure they weren't a little too aggressive and trap something that I actually want to read.

Most of the spammers cover the usual topics. Vanna White photos. Cheap printer ink. Hot Russian Babes want to date you. Nigerian oil minsters. Emails I seem to have sent to myself but don't remember. Military grade flashlights and pens. The ultimate back shaver.

I wonder what web site I visited prompted that one. Anyway, most of the back shavers look like staplers, hole punches, or razors on selfie sticks. These are not my idea of the ultimate back shaver. The ultimate back shaver is blond, Swedish, named Inga or something akin, and comes armed with, well, Inga is a professional and she'll know what to bring.

I hope it's not one of those stapler-looking thingies, though. They scare me.


Arguments in Favor of the Existence of an Intelligent Creator

Stretching in bed in the morning before you get up.


Productive People

I'm trying to reduce the stack of magazines next to the chair. The Fast Company I selected had an article about 136 habits of productive people. I must not be hanging in the good productivity circles–I recognized almost none of the people. It was hard to track common threads, since they didn't ask anyone the same questions, except for get up and go to bed times. With one exception (Venus Williams), everyone got up around 5 AM or before and often worked late.

Short story: I will never be successful. OK, productive. Aren't they the same thing? I cannot get up at 5 AM. Without my cat alarm clock, I'd have trouble with 6:15. They didn't talk to any writers, but I know a lot of them are early risers, too.

Doomed, I am. And at such as early age



2 24 18

How You Are Polluting the Air

According to a study in Science Magazine, things we have in our houses and use every day contribute as much to air pollution as diesel engines..

These include:

  • hand lotion
  • printer ink
  • adhesives
  • paint
  • cleaning products
  • deodorant
  • sampoo
  • pesticides.

Terrible! Awful! So now it's not big companies, big sources, it's three ounces of deodorant. It's things we all have that are going to kill us. I'm sure we've all sat next to someone who was wearing waaay too much perfume and was trying to asphyxiate us on the spot. Of course, we've also been in the presence of someone who we wish was killing the atmosphere with deodorant.

Before we start hand-wringing, there's something the scientists are not telling us. Once we identify risks, we prioritize them. So we address the worst cause of pollution first. Once that is eliminated/mitigated, we move on to the next. Sooner or later, we get down to household chemicals. Now, there may not be any more household chemicals in the air, but as a percentage of pollutants, they're a lot higher, because a lot of the terrible stuff that was there before, choking our lungs and killing us all, like cow farts (excuse me, bovine methane emissions) or the wood smoke from Texas barbecue, is not around any more.

Should we do something? Sure. Do we have to run around waving our hands in the air, or passing rash legislation, or engaging in general shaming of people who bathe? Probably not such a good idea. What might be a good idea is for the scientists to stop running around waving their hands in the air. That's a big reason why scientists are getting progressively less credible. They're waving their hands in the air more and more, and creating more air pollution with every new pronouncement they make.

I do wonder what will become of the zero footprint people, especially the pious ones, now hat they've found out that moving off the grid and growing their own kale was not enough, that they are still causing damage to the universe. Unfortunately, I'll never know, because those people have moved off the grid and don't have Facebook accounts. Or telephones. Or indoor plumbing (do you realize what a well does to the balance of the aquifer?). Or desire to talk to non-believers. Preach at, yes. Taslk to, no.

I'm sure some scientists will track them down and ask, and we'll get another report soon. The conclusions will be: we need more studies. Everybody run around and wave your hands in the air.


The Despair of the Writer

Last week, I participated in an open-mic event. I was going to participate by doing nothing (watch, listen, and maybe applaud), but then, just to be ready in case I decided to read, I printed a half-dozen poems I had written in the past year or two that I thought would fit within the time limit. Unlike other events where I've read, I did not prepare something special (known in the biz as an occasional piece) for the event. Sort of like Kleenex for literary types–read once, throw away.

When I looked at the poems i had selected, I realized that I could throw those away, too, except this was stuff I thought was pretty good. But I immediately jumped on the poor stuff. The unclear. The dull. The lame images. The not-poetry. I started to revise. I finally selected the least-bad poem to read, read it, received applause, and came home to make the chanes from earlier in the day, as well as change a couple of other things that caught my eye.

This is why I never send things out to be published. I'll look at a poem or story when I'm ready to send it off, and realize it's not what I thought it should be, not what I wanted, it's just not right. I'll fix it, but then it goes back on the hard drive. Shampoo, rinse, repeat.

You may be wondering why (how) I get anything posted. here Mostly, I work quick and don't reread for content and sense. Also, I know you are very kind.



2 15 18

Flynn explains surprise victory

We cuught up with Flynn, the surprise winner of of the 2018 Westminster Dog Show over a bowl of kibble to get his reaction to the stunning upset.

the mighty Flynn

Oh, I wouldn't say it was an upset. When you get to the finals at WDS, every dog is equally worthy, all champions. I just wanted it more, Flynn said as he motioned to the waitress to top off his water dish. We all had a strategy. Bean went the cute route, with his sitting up, but he came across to the judges as too needy. Lucy thought this was the year for understated elegance. Winston thought scruffy would take home the prize. Ty went with being the crowd favorite, and of course Slick worked the hardest at it. I just wanted it more, and practiced visualizing myself accepting the blue ribbon and then talking to Hoda and Savannah the next morning. That, plus a dash of adorable puff-ball Flynn-ness.

I have to give a shout out to Mary, a genius Genius! with a blow dryer, Mostly though, I just wanted it more.

After this? I really don't know. I need a little down time. Maybe a beach somewhere. I don't know if my people have heard from Disney yet, either just to visit the 'World, or maybe check out some movie gigs. Maybe a little volunteer work at a senior citizens center–I like the oldsters. Otherwise, I'm just looking forward to some quality lap time.



2 10 18

Bad Dog!

My sister-in-law is a big lost-dog person, posting missing-pet alerts regularly on Facebook. Since she lives two states over, I am not expecting to see the pooch trotting down my street, and so normally give the post a quick glance and move on.

But a recent post made me sit up and take notice:

A friend of mine who lives on Scotch Meadows Dr. said a pair of loose chihuahua sized dogs darted into the road, which caused a double car accident. Does anyone know who the dogs might belong to? (I don't have any details about human injuries, or what the dogs look like.)

Or another way of saying it: CRAZED CHIHUAHUAS TERRORIZE SMALL TOWN, BRING DEVASTATION AND CARNAGE! MS-13 MASCOTS HOLD NEIGHBORHOOD HOSTAGE--TO FEAR! UNKNOWN, ANONYMOUS TINY PETS LEAVE LARGE TRAIL OF DESTRUCTION, TWISTED METAL IN THEIR WAKE!

But it got better. A chimed in with an update:

The guy was probably in his early 40s in a white car and the other car was an older woman. There was one dog that was a chocolate brown color...small and plump and then a tan chihuahua type dog. One of them nipped at the guy when he got out to inspect the damage.

So in addition to mayhem, we have automobiles disguising themselves as people, and (as if I needed it) more proof that chihuahuas are mean little m--f--ers.

There may be a found poem in the original posts, too, but I'm worn out and will let you perform your own versification.


A Scientific Poem (an oxymoronic conundrum)

Until Poetry in the Corner returns (I'm waiting for the paint to dry), I offer up this small observation.

  • If
  • the conclusion of
  • the scientific study
  • does not include
  • the phrase
  • More study is needed
  • someone
  • has failed
  • as a scientist.

Really?

Just saw this headline: The Passion of the Christ sequel on the way from Mel Gibson with original Jesus.

So many questions. I'm guessing it will be called More Passion, as I can't imagine Mel Gibson directing a resurrection story. Presuming original Jesus means the original actor (Jim Caviezel, also the Count of Monte Christo), he's had 13 years to age, and is now 50. That'll be some heavy makeup. If it means the original original Jesus, i.e., Son of God Jesus, well, I'm surprised that Mel has the kind of persuasive power to draw him from his current gig.



2 4 17

Groundhog Day

OK, this is two days late. Story of my life. Sue me.

Actually, it has become my life story. This is not about the bogus event in Pennsylvania. It's about the movie, a comedy classic starring Bill Murray, possibly his finest work, spawner of memes, a thoughtful romantic comedy, and a story about overcoming adversity and the potential for personal growth.

groundhog day the movie mene

It's not funny.

I will admit that I've only seen most of the film, in bits and pieces. it seems to be the way I see films now. Life is like that. The pieces I've seen are good, I like Andie, there's just the right amount of exasperation, but the groundhog is a scenery-chewer.

It's the premise I'm having trouble with.

It's like, What do you mean it's Groundhog Day? I just celebrated Groundhog Day (celebrate=I say, its Groundhog Day) um, a year ago. It doesn't seem like that long. I just moved into this house recently, uh, 13 years ago. I'm driving a brand new, uh, three-year old car. And when I tell my wife she's still the official sweetie of the new millennium, she gently reminds me that the millennium is not so new anymore. I think there's still a lot more millennium coming than we've experienced, so it's still new to me, But I've learned in (Oh my God! is it really that long?) fifteen years of marriage not to argue.

Living Groundhog Day is not so great. Maybe if I was getting Bill Murray pay, or was warned it was going to happen, or could keep reminding myself It's only a movie it would be OK. But it's not–a movie or OK.

I guess the only thing for it is to just get ready for the next Easter-Fourth of July-birthday-anniversary-Thanksgiving-Christmas-New Years-Groundhog Day. It's coming, and sooner than I think.


Whose Style Guide Is That?

More and more, I've been seeing acronyms with initial caps only (Nasa instead of NASA, Wy instead of Wyoming, Darpa instead of DARPA). I'm sure some stye guide like Chicago or the Hipster's Guide to Language said it was OK (or Ok).

It's not. Please stop. Put it back correctly.


Fred the Flower


4 4 18

Fred tells his story.
Fred declares his style.

Apt 123


4 4 18

Entering an alternate reality.
A different alternate reality.

Fortnightly T-shirt

4 8 18

Ms. Tarzana waxes profound.