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

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.



1 26 18

Words I Never Thought I'd Hear On NPR

Zombie parasites.

That's right, NPR used the phrase zombie parasites. And to make it particularly creepy, they threw in archeologist for effect.


The Last You Want to Read About Dr. Larry Nasser

175 years may sound like a long sentence, but it works out to a little more than one year per victim.

Why was this guy never described as a pedophile? He abused children. That's what we call people who abuse children. Pedophiles. Pedophile.



1 6 18

Unsung Heroes of Computing

I don't know who invented Undo, but thank you, thank you, thank you.


Why Do We Keep Reading Books We Don't Like?

No answer. Just an observation. I doubt I'm the only one that does it.


What Goes Wrong with Resolutions

I spent a lot of time last week talking about resolutions–mostly, about how I couldn't keep them.

Now, I think I know why. See if this works for you, too.

But first, an aside: if I was going to make resolutions, the list would/should include Remember the names of authors who write things I like so I can give them credit and/or at least know where to go back to if I need to reference something.end aside. During the past week, I was cruising through the usual bloggery suspects, when I came across an article about getting organized. For some reason, that made me think about resolutions, and that made me realize that the reason (OK, one of the reasons) I don't keep resolutions is that they are unplanned. I usually have a vague sense of wanting to change something, but then I make the resolution, usually with no thought of how it will happen. Say the resolution is Lose weight. Do I diet? If so, what diet? Just eat less? Exercise? What kind of exercise? When? Before work? After? Maybe just meditate. that's supposed to help. Or I could use Professor Harold Hill's thinkology (sorry, Professor Hill's program was the think system–totally different). Because of a lack of planning, and considering the path(s) I need to take to succeed, I will fail.

Take the real resolution–remembering the name, author and location of something I've read. This is a long-standing problem. I've been doing it for decades now. So how do I fix it? Some options:

  1. keep a pen and paper handy to write down names and places
  2. read up/take a course in improving my memory
  3. read less, or less omnivorously
  4. drugs

So that's step one. Now, to feasibility. One is feasible, but I have to know when I'm going to read, and then keep track of the little pieces of paper that I write things down on. Sort of a variation on the problem I discussed in Arranging Life last week. Also, I'd spend all my time writing things down. All told, another source of frustration. Two. I think I have read about improving memory. It didn't stick. Take a course? There are other things I'd rather spend the time doing, like reading. Three. Really. Really? I don't know why that went on the list. Not gonna happen. Four. I take drugs to forget, so they won't help.I guess I could stop taking the drugs, but I keep forgetting.

Maybe I am just in a group of people who go through life unable to make unplanned changes. Yeah, that's it. I can blame nature and heredity! But one of those resolutions I would make if I made resolutions is Stop blaming others for your own shortcomings.

So, dear readers, until the next series of brainf*rts... No wait, another non-resolution I cannot keep is Stop with the self-deprecation. *Sigh.* We're five days into the year, and it's already messed up.

Which brings up another reason why making resolutions at the beginning of the year is such a bad idea–if you mess up, you have a whole year to live with the guilt and failure.



12 31 17

The Perfect Resolution

I've never been good at resolutions. Sometimes it's because they're not my idea; sometimes I'm not committed; sometimes I don't line up the resources and support I need to make it work; sometimes because I don't make it public; sometimes I make too many resolutions; sometimes I want a particular resolution to fail. And on and on.

At one point, I decided to admit I had a problem and not make any resolutions (which is itself a resolution, which means I broke it as soon as I made it, a conundrum. I don't like conundrums). I tried funny resolutions. I tried aspirations instead of resolutions (didn't aspire, either).

I think I've found a solution. I'm going to follow goal setting parameters. It should be specific, measurable, achievable, realistic, and timely. My perfect resolution meets all these. And here it is:

In 2018, I will treat everyone and everything with the utmost seriousness.

Some of you are probably saying, That's the way it's always been. Where's the stretch? Where's the new territory to explore?

To you I say, Go away.

The rest of you are saying, Really? Is that realistic? (or Is that really real? if you're a fan of allitration.)

Yes, really. The key is the goal–to make a resolution that I will break immediately.

I think I can reach that goal by the end of this column.

Anyway, I hope your 2018 is miles better than than 2017 in every way imaginable. Even if you had a great 2017 (like, say, you lived in Canada or Scandinavia), I wish this for you.


Arranging Life

There's been an uptick of interest in journals. David Sedaris just published a collection of essays based on his journals. Austin Kleon also posted an article that started by referencing Sedaris' journaling. Both are prolific journalers, with three or four volumes a year. Kleon points out that the journals are a chronicle but also a vast repository of material, starting points for other creative works. But he points out one has to know where the gold is in the material. In short, the writer needs some kind of index of material in the journal.

This is where I fall down (well, OK, one of many areas. That and typing/proofreading) I noticed it as I moved my music collection over to iTunes. The program gave me a leg up, but then creating new categories took a long time, and trying to decide if Enya was Celtic or new age really fried some time (and brain cells). It was even worse when I tried to set up an index for Apt123 and Fred the Flower. What information do I tag? Season/holiday? Event? Date created? A context or theme? Quality (believe it or not, there are some cartoons you don't see)? Now, I'm facing the same issues with my poetry, with the added problem of, well, a lot of it is not good, and I might be tempted to go back now and edit or rewrite. Do I have a bad poem category? Is length important? And do I include stories? Essays? And what about stuff like this, sort of micro-blog essays?

Also, I have to ask myself–does the time spent indexing (to save time) represent a value? It's relatively rare that I have to find something, I enjoy looking at the older poems and cartoons and realizing that some of them are funnier or better than I remember. I find some that I totally forgot about. I'm surprised at how long ago I wrote a particular poem or cartoon. The walk down memory lane is nice. Would I get the same sense of accomplishment and emotional goodness from a list? What I'm more interested in is the next cartoon or poem I'm going to write, and the one after that, and so on. Taking time out to index will cut into that time.

The poems are a new issue But with the poems, since I'm thinking of sending some out, I really have to keep track. Who wants (or allows) what? Do I have to worry about length, subject matter, where I sent it before, when I wrote it? Do I have the tool I need to track the information or do I need something new?

Too much thinking. I have to take a nap now.


Another headline, another pass.

I just saw a sponsored post with the headline, You'll never guess what scientists predict is the fuel of the future.

You're right. I won't guess.

Wait. How far in the future?

If it's next year (AKA tomorrow) I'm guessing oil, natural gas, with smaller amounts of electricity, coal and wood. Solar and wind don't count. They're used to generate electricity, which is the fuel.

If it's a hundred years from now, I'm going with batsh*t. That's right, you have to be CRAZY to say BATSH*T. And that's right, I'M BATSH*T CRAZY TO BE OFFERING THESE DEVICES AT THESE PRICES! SO C'MON DOWN!

Related prediction: We're going to need more bats.

a future source of fuel

Let's go out to a thousand years. I say it's going to be moonbeams and unicorn f*rts.

Related prediction: We're gong to need more unicorns.


See? I told you I'd break that resolution.


One last thought

There was a show on PBS about cats. As is her way, my wife was on the couch with laptop in lap (instead of a cat, which really annoys the cats). She decided the check what kind of cats we have (I always classify them as annoying and more annoying). Anyway, one is a standard black and white cat (the Mr.(on the right below)) and the other is a mackerel tabby (on the left). These are the most affectionate of cats, and really like people, and laps, and being petted.

I was reminded of this as I try to type around Belle, who has taken up a position right in front of the keyboard, seeking attention. I have my chin on her back and am reaching around to peck at keys. This may account for some of my bad typing.

It's a sign. It's time to stop typing and get in a comfy chair with a cat in my lap, a beverage, something to read, and to enjoy life. So until next year...



12 22 17

Merry Christmas from the kitties!


12 22 17

Santa for a Modern Age

The local public radio station played Francis Church's editorial response to Virginia's Is there a Santa Claus letter,

I was surprised by the modernity of the response. It seems perfectly written for an age of fake news. Church says we believe in lots of things we don't or can't see (The most real things in the world are those that neither children nor men can see,) So why not Santa? Church keeps leaning on fairies, but he might as well say quark or gluon or radio waves./q> or

So here's my theory as to why Santa is invisible. He lives in a parallel universe. That's right, for 364 days a year, Santa hangs in an alternate reality. One day a year, that universe touches our universe, a portal opens up, Santa pops through, delivers presents and good will, and pops back into his universe for another year, Makes perfect sense, doesn't it?

So when your local weathercaster announces that NORAD has spotted Santa on the radar (such a quaint relic of the 1950's cold war), smile knowingly, put a twinkle in your eye and a finger upside your nose, and picture Santa bracing for impact when two universes collide. Firmly, but gently. It's OK. He's an old hand at it.

And merry Christmas!


More unread articles

  • Louis CK is no longer sweaty, horrifying monster in Disney film. Now he's like that just in real life.
  • Alabama town sees right to fly the Christian flag as matter deeper than law. I think it's the flag idea. I didn't know there were religious flags, much less one official Christian flag. Did Jesus or one of the apostles design it? Is this the flag the Crusaders took to the Holy Land? Does it fly over Christian churches? The Vatican has a flag, but I always thought that was because it's a political entity. It's just so confusing. I have to make a greater effort to keep up. I was going to say get out more, but that sounds dangerous.


12 3 17

Why Wine? (a whine)

There's a lot of wine clubs out there. Some make sense, like those curated by a wine magazine or Martha Stewart. For some reason, though, a lot of media outlets think you need to be drinking when you enjoy their products. So far, I've counted The New York Times, Chicago Tribune, The Wall Street Journal, USA Today, The Financial Times, and the San Francisco Chronicle that are running wine clubs.

Over on the moving pictures side, you have Turner Classic Movies and Saturday Night Live, and in the talking-only aisle, there's National Public Radio. The basic idea is you drink a particular wine when watching a particular movie or listening to a particular show.

I want to know what happens when you try to do two things where entities have wine selections, say try to look at the NYT with a Turner movie on, or worse, are listening to NPR while driving home from work. If overlapping selections, how do you decide, or do you try to drink both, even if one is an amusing Chablis and the other a robust, hot-tempered Shiraz?

I think I'll stick to beer.

bottle of wine

PetStress

I just saw a headline, 8 Signs Your Dog Is Stressed Out. I don't have a dog, so I didn't read the article. But we do have cats, and so I started to think how I could tell if one of our cats is stressed. Only things I could come up with were, Sleeping only 16 hours a day, and Eating only two bowls of food a day. This is why people think cats are mysterious–they just don't communicate, don't show the inner cat.


Matt Lauer, Poster Child

This is how it works in 2017. Do wrong. Get caught. Make yourself the victim. Get a huge payout for going away, or demanding one.



11 19 17

Back Again.

Our internet/cable monopoly apparently decided that we were using waaay to much internet and sending too many e-mails. So the service cratered. We'd call, they'd say they were sorry, someone would come, they would do something, and we'd have lousy service for a couple of days before it cratered again. Wash-rinse-repeat. In their defense, it was old, corroded connections that nobody has looked at since we moved into the house a decade ago. and probably not since the cable was installed back when dinosaurs roamed the earth. In their not-defense, it took seven trips for them to figure that out and get them all replaced. The last three trips did get them all replaced, but each tech worked on a different place.

I'm sure some of you are saying, were you gone? For those who missed these ramblings, I hope you found something else to do, preferably useful. But if you were reading this, useful obviously isn't a high-priority goal.


Headlines Yes. Articles No.

I've bumped into some more clickbait where I can supply the article. To wit:

  • 14 Ways You Can Avoid Season Affective Disorder: Move someplace where the days have an even length, like the Equator, or avoid holidays and malls.
  • How to Never Get Sick After 40: Die when you're 39.
  • Homepod: Everything You Need To Know About Apple's Smart Speaker: It's not available for another 5 months.

Simplify!

The new thing, even newer than Mindfulness, is Simplify. You spend a week getting rid of stuff you don't need. Come to think of it, this is just a new name for what was called editing or tidying, so it's not new, just re-branding.

As a writer, I spend a lot of time with words. I'm sure I could be more productive if I was able to make redundant or useless letters go away, and not have to worry about homonyms. The Chicago Tribune was long a proponent. Even the Oxford English Dictionary got in on the act.

Oddly, the movement(s) never caught on. Maybe it was because those systems never were systematic. Maybe we all just hearken back to the olden days, or ye olden dayes if you prefer. Maybe it just took too long to learn a new system. Whatever.

As a transition, maybe we could use contractions as a model for simplified spelling–add an apostrophe where the letters are removed. So:

  • stuck -> stu'k
  • spelling -> spel'ing
  • though -> tho'''
  • letter -> let'er

Maybe we're already doing this with social media, with your LOL and your d8.

Maybe I should just learn Klingon.


One More Austin

Austin Kleon bills himself as An artist who writes. Since he also advocates stealing like an artist, I thought I might appropriate his motto, but modify it. My first thought was John is a writer who... Uh, there seems to be no verb in English for a person committing art. A writer writes; an artist has to be identified by a particular discipline. An artist paints. Or, an artist sculpts. Or, an artist draws. So I could be an artist who cartoons, or an artist who photographs. Or I could make art a verb. John is a writer who arts. There been a lot of that kind of verbalization going around these days. Sorry I'm not the first.


<

Fortnightly T-shirt

2 12 18

truth in advertising.

Fred the Flower


2 11 18

Is it February 14 already?'
Is it February 14 already?'

Apt 123


2 12 18

Ms. T has a proposition.
Ms. T tries making nice.
Ms. T tells Ned how to get a girl'.