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

5 1 19

Happy Birthday!!

My sister just turned 65, It's a signal milestone. Some people may say all she had to do was keep living, but it's as much the how as the that. I'm very happy and thankful for her. So all the best, Mary Pat.

Kicking Tires

I was in the library the other morning in mostly browsing mode. It was very pleasant wandering through the fiction shelves when I came to a realization:
I miss the card catalog.

Yes, I know a physical card catalog is less efficient, takes more time and effort to update, is more grimy, and is location specific (you have to be where it is to look things up), but the physical card catalog makes browsing a lot more fun. Sure, on-line catalogs have a browse mode, but there's nothing like finding something on the way to looking up something else, or just picking a drawer (say DA to DL) and leafing through the cards.

Same thing with hard copy encyclopedias. First, they are very impressive, the 23 volumes in their leather covers sitting on the shelf. They also enable browsing. Once I spent a very pleasant Friday evening in my college library reading the entry on Henry James Jr. for a term paper. I spent the bulk of the evening not doing the term paper by reading about father Henry Sr., sister Alice, brother William, and outlaw Jesse (no relation, although I did have surprisingly good luck convincing people he was by talking [seriously] about Henry James' two brothers). Yes there are hyperlinks in on-line encyclopedias, but most of those lead you to more information about the same thing. What they need is an option to jump n items forward or back. Or maybe jump to a random entry. That would be fun, even more fun if I could read it on paper.

The Conspiracy Theorist Returns

Well, after a long absence (under contract to a large multinational corporation making efforts to convince people that the Knights Templar were trying to sell both the Holy Grail and Ark of the Covenant to Jeff Bezos), I'm back, with a fresh new conspiracy!

As you might expect, after such a. long absence I have some cleaning to do, like vacuuming, washing windows, a big clean of the fridge, dusting, all under the general heading of spring cleaning. This was on the nicest day of the year, meaning I couldn't go outside to enjoy the nice weather: mid-70s, clear skies, low humidity and low pollen count. I'm supposed to stay inside and not enjoy this gift of God, one of the great proofs of his/her existence.

Because spring cleaning. Duty, responsibility, adherence to old ways of doing things. Personally, I think it' a plot (anyone who did not see this coming should go sit in the corner until they grow a brain or at least start paying more attention) involving the big cleaning supplies business lobby and–the Puritans, those buttoned-up ancestors of America who were dedicated to making sure nobody had any fun. On their own, the Puritans made sure of this by keeping everybody busy&8211;farmers, fishermen, clergy and especially housewives, since their charge is the house, so no fun. Cook, clean, sew, raise babies. The Puritans invented the phrase cleanliness in next to Godliness, a warning still implied in cleaning supply ads–that you are being judged by others for the lack of dust on you tables. Plus most housewives were women so especially no fun for them! Spring is a time of fun, and even worse of feelings, so invent spring cleaning in which the whole house is turned upside down and inside out. That'll show 'em.

There is a third member of the cabal, which I am not at liberty to divulge, But think all-seeing eye and ritualistic aprons. I think it's beyond coincidence that a garment closely associated with spring cleaning is also associated with a acred secret ritualistic society, which also admits only men. Coincidence? I think not!

We all know what's going on here, don't we? Even that guy who's sitting in the corner gets it, I bet.

5 15 19

It's New!!

No, not in a new packaging way (although some may say it's a repackaging of the T-shirts). After the success of the horse meme two weeks ago, I've decided it's time to get into the meme bidnez. So someplace over on the right you'll see meme-things, updated as the spirit moves me.

They Said It

Don't take criticism from someone you wouldn't ask for advice.


Those Sly Writers

This may get me in trouble with the writers' union (presuming writers could get that organized), but when a writer says (s)he is sorry for committing a bad pun, not only is (s)he not sorry, (s)he is actually pointing out the bad pun on the outside chance that you missed it or were trying to ignore it.

It's another way of saying Look how cute/clever/special/annoying I am! No, they're not really saying that last one, but boy howdy, you're justified if you're thinking it.

Yes, bad pun is redundant.

Happy Hour

So remind me again why we have happy hours, or at least whey we call them happy? Why do we set aside an hour or two at the end of a (Fri)day to gather with people we sometimes only half know, many probably from work, in a noisy place. We're never told if happy will be supplied or if we have to bring our own. We're supposed to drink a depressant which also serves to loosen inhibitions and make us loud and often obnoxious. Sometimes we sit or stand alone or off to the side, nursing a drink because the one person we wanted to see either didn't show up or got co-opted by someone obviously more important or who brought an extra supply of pushy. Then we get cornered by someone we don't want to talk to but has lots of information to share about a topic we know nothing about, and there's a reason for that–we were never interested in the first place.

5 12 19

Happy Mother's Day

MY mother and both grandmothers are dead, as are mothers-in-law and anyone else that I could recognize this day. I'm thinking about all the aforementioned, though. I did buy my wife a box of chocolates just 'cuz I could. No relationship. It just happened that way. To the rest of you who qualify, I hope your day is a happy one.

Thinking It

Another headline read, article ignored. The writer claimed that Apple has an advantage in AI/AR because they are further advanced in determining the user's dominant eye.

Eye bet (oh c'mon, who didn't see that coming?) you didn't even know you had a dominant I (that may have been a surprise–you probably didn't think I had the nerve to pun twice in the same sentence. I do and I did.). I did know, courtesy of Herman. (Mine is the right, by the way.) If you want to know what your dominant eye is, here's Herman's method:

  1. Roll up a a piece of paper like a telescope
  2. Put it up to your eye and look through the tube
  3. (optional) Unroll the piece of paper and put it away

That's it. Whatever eye you put the tube to is your dominant eye.

I find it astonishing what my body knows about me that I don't, and that the body uses without any direct intervention from me. Of course, that may be its only trick, since I don't know what to ask. Things seem to be working pretty well, so I'll trust Thrasher (what! you don't name your body and body parts?) to do what it has to do with the information it has to hand.

5 8 19


I did a PechaKucha presentation last night and the master of ceremonies noted that I had a face that did not show emotion. No matter what I may be feeling, I didn't reveal it.

I don't think of myself as a human Droopy, but I guess I appreciate the insight. Might help me get though life, he said without a smile.

5 5 19

Cultural R's

No, it's not talk like a pirate day (although that may fit into the theme of the day, too). I'm talking about cultural relativity, relevance, reference. I've got the last one–references. I (they) may not have relevance any more.

my favorie far side cartoon

I was about to send an email to a friend stationed in Italy that was going to have as an opening How's life on the Far Side? when I realized that she may not catch the reference. So I checked. Gary Larson retired in 1995. There are people graduating from medical school who were not born in 1995. In 1995, I still lived in Houston and taught. So I'll still say it, but if she doesn't get it, I'll understand. Still, it's hard to have to retire useful cultural shorthands as they age out.

On the plus side, I can (re)add Gary Larson to my list of people I hate. Who gets to retire at age 45?


That's not a reference to the song written by Paul McCartney, although for those of you having trouble with the Gary Larson reference, Paul was in a band called The Beatles before Wings and before his solo career.

Anyway, May 4 was Star Wars Day. Normally I don't encourage such frivolity and widespread bad pun usage (I know, redundant) but I saw this one and thought it was worth sharing.

It was May 4. Sorry I couldn't resist.

Since yesterday was also Kentucky Derby Day, I did my own meme.

Kentucky Derby Day

Yes, I have already penalized myself–no Photoshop for the rest of the month.

5 1 19

I'm sorry this is a little late, but I haven't been reading much and the Hallmark Channel has run out of original programming, so I've got nothing for a decent post. Therefore you're getting

Random Thoughts

and not many of those.

  • Did God create anger? I mean real anger, not the professional outrage anger. If so, why?
  • William Barr just canceled an appearance before Congress because there are too many lawyers there. Let me see if I've got this right–America's top lawyer is afraid of–lawyers?!?
  • William Barr demonstrates the hazards of hiring a late-middle-aged person. Proven competency and experience, but job security may be more important at this stage of life than execution.
  • Local strawberries are now available. Lucky me, not nice to report if you're still waiting for the crocus to show up.
    I promise not to save any for you.
  • If I'm being fair, all the dedicated channels (home fixemup, cooking, ghost show network, archeology/adventure) and not just the Hallmark Channel have an astonishing sameness. Different faces, different voices, but I've seen this renovation/ cake/ creepy basement/ pyramid before.

4 28 19

Millions and millions

OK, we already knew a million isn't what it used to be:

Dr. Evil: Here's the plan. We get the warhead and then hold the world ransom for... 1 MILLION dollars! Number Two: Sir, strictly speaking, a million dollars will not go very far these days. Virtucon alone makes over 9 billion dollars a year. Dr. Evil: Really? Okay then... we hold the world ransom for one... hundred... BILLION dollars!!!

Certain parts of the world still think a million is a big deal, though. A million dollars is the line that separates rich from poor, as shown in shows like The Millionaire and Who Wants to Be a Millionaire? The most recent Jeopardy! winner (James Holzhauer) was up to $1.3 million in winnings when he came to widespread attention. The real story is his strategy, not his winnings or even knowledge of trivia (which he apparently gets from reading children's books). He still had to break a million to make the news.

But the myth persists. The new myth perpetuator is Your Lottery Dream Home, hosted by Mr. Schmarm, who keeps saying things like think like a millionaire! while people are looking at houses that cost $200,000, or in other words, less than an average house price in the United States (and less than the house I live in [with the bank's permission]).

Other ways to make a million: Be Bob Iger and work four days. Be Dabo Swinney and work six weeks. Be a lead actor in Big Bang Theory and make one episode. Win 100 Pulitzer Prizes.

On the plus side of Your Lottery Dream Home, there's not a lot of bickering about My house has to be Craftsman, or This kitchen is not white enough. I want a white kitchen. They still do the I guess this is your closet, though, while standing in a room big enough to hold a school bus.

snappy responses ten minutes late

Amazon has Prime Plus, Apple has News+, there's a Disney+. Enough with the plus. It was fun and new in 2006, now overdone and noncreative. Think of something else.

In the New York Times: How does a restaurant get to 30? Maybe by cooking honest and delicious dishes like this beef carpaccio. 1) Start at 11, then it goes all the way to 30. 2) apparently by putting french fries on it, like the thirty-year old restaurant does 3) is cooked carpaccio honest? Is it even carpaccio?

(Rightly) in my spam folder, a subject that starts It's 2019... So where were you when I was still writing 2018 on checks?

4 24 19

Happy B-day, Will!

the eyes of will shakespeare

In honor of his birthday, which is variously reported as anywhere from April 23rd to 26th, here are four questions I would ask Bill if he were around:

  1. How'd you get to be so old?
  2. We keep hearing about the good ol' days. What were the best good ol' days?
  3. C'mon, 'fess up. Who really wrote all your stuff?
  4. Couldn't you have given Romeo & Juliet a happier ending?

Bits & Pieces

Along the way, I pick up odds & ends that aren't long enough to support a whole thought (note to scoffers: yes, I have whole thoughts in here). Here are the B&P, gathered in one place for your convenience–or annoyance.

  • Lead on a website: This Passover, learn to convince your client like Moses convinced Pharaoh. Yes, ten plagues are a good sales tool. But not that good–it took ten of 'em before Pharaoh caved. Plus, they're expensive. Do you know how much two dozen frogs cost? Neither do I, but I bet it's a lot.
  • A first for me in the tech meets food world: Introducing Impossible Burger 2.0 New? Sure. Tastier? Of course. Non-GMO? Seen that. But a major food rev? That's different.
  • Add authentic to the list of words (like artisanal) that once meant something. Today I heard a promotional spot for having an authentic adventure. As opposed to an inauthentic adventure, I guess, where they have handrails or cartoon characters or something. Artisanal was added to the list when I saw a plastic tub of artisanal cheese spread in the grocery.
  • Whatever happened to:
    • breadmakers?
    • ginko balboa?
    • Jackie Evancho?
  • India has a woman's national ice hockey team. I do not know if they have a men's team. The ladies practice on outdoor rinks in the Himalayas.

4 21 19

Happy Easter!

Easter is the most important holyday on the Christian calendar, when we celebrate Jesus rising from the dead. It comes two days after Good Friday, the day Jesus was crucified (Holy Saturday, of course, is in the middle). As Christians, we are supposed to model our lives on Jesus' life, and I think these three days, as the most important days, are the ones we should focus on. That is, a day of pain, suffering and abandonment, when, without faith, all may seem lost. Next, a day of waiting and of patience. Finally, the day of success, of rebirth, rejuvenation, the goal. So happy success day!

Unfortunately, the days we live may not be 24 hours in length. And we should avoid the temptation to think that we can ignore or blow off the waiting (gardeners and bakers/cooks may have better luck with this). Still worth the journey.

This has nothing to do with the above paragraph, but here is a line of Peeps, for those of you celebrating a traditional Easter. Peeps are supposedly the most popular Easter candy in Virginia. The rest of the world likes Reeses eggs and Cadbury eggs, but we like Peeps.

What a strange place to live.

Easter candy.

4 17 19

Notre Dame

Notre Dame Cathedral

I never visited Notre Dame de Paris, so the news of its destruction probably didn't have the same impact on me that it had on others. What I find interesting is how people came together to pay tribute and remember–by singing hymns.

I also wondered if there were any buildings or structures here in the city where I live (Norfolk, VA) that could elicit that kind of response. The answer is no. There is nothing here that is at the center of the community. It helps if he building has been around for a while, but there are surprisingly few structures here that have any history, even though this is one of the oldest cities in the country. With the exception of a couple of churches and houses, everything is new–replacement structures. Even the few old buildings are private, and none have the romance and connection to the community associated with Notre Dame. I also wondered if any buildings would still be around after 800 years.

Finally, there have been suggestions of rebuilding. I wonder if we have another hundred years, a couple billion dollars and most importantly the perseverance and dedication to start work on something we won't see completed. Update: The politicians are getting involved. President Macron says the renovated Notre Dame will be even more beautiful and they've announced an architecture competition to design a new spire. As always, they don't get it.

New York Times Strikes Again.

While the traditional world of print journalism and newspapers in particular has been dying a slow painful death, the New York Times has been busy trying innovative approaches, especially in its magazines. One of the first was an the issue dedicated to New York City, where readers had to turn the magazine sideways to view (and read) it. Very tiring. A hit and a miss, in that order.

T magazine, April 14 2014

The April 10 issue of the style magazine is another case in point. The primary text content consists of plays with a theme of Imagining America in 2024. The fashion is interspersed with the various plays. Personally, I found the concept really exciting, a novel approach to presenting fashion and plays. The bad news is the plays (at least the ones I [started to] read) are really depressing, and all seem to be coming out of the brutalist school or the thought school that the function of art is to polemicize, educate, and to make sure that nobody except the insiderati and socially precious feel good about anything. But I'm going to keep pushing on.

The Times giveth and the Times taketh away. I read something like that somewhere, probably not in the Times.


Some YouTube dude (no link because stupid) has a video entitled Seven Ways James Bond Breaks the Rules of Style.

  1. I love the whole conceit (aside alert: did you know that you only need to change one letter to make conceit into concept? I didn't either) that fashion fascists think they can make one-size-fits-all pronunciamientos and people will actually follow along like sheep. My favorite delusionist was John T. Molloy, the author of Dress for Success, who in the 1970's was given to declaring things like never wear a brown suit to work.
    Well, a few years later President Ronald Reagan wore a brown suit in the Oval Office, and suddenly, Molloy caved on the rule like a cheap suit. Brown was OK.
  2. If you have a sense of fashion, no rules are going to help or hurt you. If you don't, the rules aren't gong to help, and may make you look awful.
  3. James Bond makes fashion. He doesn't follow, The path is 1. Trendsetter. 2. Fashion trend. 3. Fashion rule. 4. Go back to 1.
  4. And really, when was the last time you heard anyone comment on James Bond's clothing?

4 14 19


I mistyped something and popet came out. Which is really close to the word poppet. Which nobody uses anymore, which is too bad. It's a neat word and fun to say. I may start using it as a general substitute for profanity. Oh, poppet! he said in frustration. Poppet, poppet, poppet!


Whatever Happened to...?

  • Farmville
  • Singing Fish
  • Bluecollar Comedy
  • Pokemon Go

4 10 19

ALL-NEW!! Uh, sorry, no.

I've talked about the power of the word new before (too long ago too lazy to research, but even this topic isn't new). The old high point was a bar of Ivory Soap, which has been the same since the late 19th Century, I saw that had a giant new! sticker on it. Wondering how you go about changing an icon, I looked at the smaller print, and found out it was new packaging.

We have a new winner in the new! marketing wars, as seen below. Cabot Cheese is excellent, and probably my wife's favorite fancy cheese. So I had a sinking feeling again when I saw the New! sticker on the label. Cabot is doing a new label–sometime in the future. But not messing with the cheese. Smart move, except it's going to take me a while to find the new one. I hope the grocery store keeps it in the same space on the shelf.

cabot cheese

It wouldn't be a TomatoPlanet!! left-column entry without some useless information-chat. Ivory Soap is 99 and 44/100 percent pure. They never say pure what. And what is the other 66/100 percent? Also, it turns out that Ivory Soap's ability to float is not the result of an accident. One of the Gambles figured it out, at least according to Proctor & Gamble, who on the one hand should know, but on the other might have a vested interest in making it look planned as opposed to benefitting from an oops! moment.

Way to spoil a perfectly good urban legend-myth, P&G.

Losing It

Yeah, I don't need to hear from you folk who are saying I lost it a long time ago. When I was typing in the date above, I suddenly had the distinct impression that April 10th marked something important, a recurring event. It's not a holiday, it's not a birthday (at least one marked on my calendar) there's not even anything I have to do today. So now I'm making things up to remember, as opposed to forgetting things. It's the anti-Alzheimer's, which probably isn't even a thing.

Food Fight

Speaking of food, I am pleased to announce that Blue Bell ice cream is once again available in the Hampton Roads area. Now I have a legitimate excuse for my expanding waistline.

4 7 19

Success in ...

Three or so years ago, Dr. Nick Morgan provided what he called Seven Keys to Successful Public Speaking. I think they apply in a lot of other areas, including life. The qualities are:

  1. Authenticity–express your values, goals and needs.
  2. Clarity–keep the big picture, keep straight, keep our heads in the game.
  3. Consistency–keep messages straight and story unitary.
  4. Transparency–work openly.
  5. Empathy–understand and be open to more perspective.
  6. Engagement–engage in your stories, hear their story.
  7. Stay Connect–follow up after the fact.

One of the things I find interesting is how the description of the element isn't always what we would normally think of. I don't think of needs as being part of authenticity. I guess that's what makes he list good, or at least prompt some thought about what he items really are.

William Goldman Said It

In The Princess Bride.

Life isn't fair, it's just fairer than death, that's all.

Enough about my beauty. Everybody always talks about how beautiful I am. I’ve got a mind, Westley. Talk about that.

Then let’s look on the bright side: We’re having an adventure, and most people live and die without being as lucky as we are.

4 3 19

Music News

The Rolling Stones just announced that they had to cancel their tour this summer because of Nick Jagger's health problems. The Stones were just one of the graybeard acts on the road, a list which includes

  • Fleetwood Mac
  • Yes
  • Beach Boys
  • The Eagles
  • Santana
  • Heart
  • Aerosmith
  • Rod Stewart
  • Beatles (just not as a band)
  • Rod Stewart
  • Billy Joel
  • Eric Clapton
  • Who
  • Gordon Lightfoot

This may be the first summer touring season where the roadies' team will have to include a certified emergency medical technician in addition to the usual lighting and sound guys.

3 31 19

More on Nothing

In my last post, I mentioned White Collar Zoo, a popular book that at least I had never heard of (you, my gentle readers, being smarter, probably have). Well, while looking around for information, I came upon a reference to the book on a site called Goodreads (again, gentle readers, smarter, etc.), which allows people to rate and review books. Four people apparently have read and rated White Collar Zoo (average 3.0 out of five, or average-average), and there's another half-dozen or so who plan to.

I just found that interesting, not knowing that there would be that many copies of the book floating around or people planning to read it.

And Yet More Headlines

Since we're in the WAYBAC machine anyway, we're going to try a recurring feature one more time, but this time with all new headlines (sorry for the redundancy–new does not need little helpers like all. Been hanging out in popular culture too much, I guess).

Our first entry, from CNN: Police stoned at flash mob in Frankfurt. I didn't know pot was legal in Germany.

Next, from an Apple News contributing site: McDonald's employee suffers first degree burns in customer coffee attack. Apparently the customer threw two cups of the McDonald's coffee back at the employee, who ended up in the hospital.
And we're supposed to drink that stuff?

From KFSN TV in Texas, we find out that sometimes, the real story is in a casual subhead: Body of man wrapped in front of Texas home, police say. Anybody missing a family member who fits the description is asked to call the Galveston Police Department. Has anyone seen Grandpa? Or the poinsettia Christmas paper?

3 27 19

Back in the Dark Ages

The New York Times bestseller list has been around since 1931, which seems like an odd time to start a list of anything tracking people's buying habits. For God knows what reason I was poking around in the list the other day, and thought I'd share:

  • In October 23 1949 (the week I was born), the number one fiction book was Rage to Live by John O' Hara, and non-fiction was White Collar Zoo by Clare Barnes Jr. The book that had been on the fiction list longest was The Big Fisherman by Lloyd Douglas (also on the list–Nineteen Eighty-Four); the non-fiction, A Guide to Confident Living by Norman Vincent Peale (56 weeks).
  • Fifty years ago in March 28, 1969, the most popular fiction book was Portnoy's Complaint by Philip Roth, and Money Game by Adam Smith topped the non-fiction list. The longest resident of the fiction list was Airport by Arthur Hailey (59 weeks on the list) and in non-fiction, Money Game had hung around for 41 weeks.

Three interesting but useless observations: 1) All of the authors mentioned were huge (except maybe Barnes), household names with multiple books topping the best-seller list. O'Hara and Roth had critical as well as popular acclaim. Now, if you want a copy of A Rage to Live from the local library, they'll have to get it out of storage for you. 2) Many of the long-term residents on the non-fiction list in 1969 were about spirituality in some way. In addition to A Guide to Confident Living, Fulton Sheen's Peace of Soul and Thomas Merton's Seven Storey Mountain had been on the list for 27 and 45 weeks, respectively. So mindfulness is not a new thing–just rebranded spirituality. Interesting we keep coming around to finding answers for good ways to live our lives. 3) Obviously a best-seller list is going to skew contemporary, but I find it interesting how many good writers have been thoroughly scrubbed from people's reading lists and minds. All the more reason why I write for now, and in a few months this post will disappear from public view. Sort of a Snapchat.

3 24 19

Unfair! Unfair!

With the continued push for women's rights, equality and respect, why do we still have a situation where only one planet is named after a woman (Venus)? Sun, moon and earth are sort of gender-neutral, which is the way things should be (although they sometimes undergo gender-assignment). Of the eight remaining planets, (yes, I'm one of them), you would think more would be named after people or gods of the female persuasion. One is 12.5 percent, far below the 50 percent of the world's population that claims to be women. This is an outrage that screams for redress!

Some may say that many of the moons in the solar system are named after (mythological) women, and are very substantial bodies (and no, I'm not calling anybody large-boned). All well and good, but think about what a moon does–it's an object that revolves around a planet named after a male figure. I think we've moved far beyond that in the 21st Century, don't you?

The solution? Let's have a contest! After the unilateral demotion of Pluto we know we can't trust astrophysicists with the job, and no, you can't rename Mars Boaty McBoatface. First, that's not a woman's name (probably) and second, oh, never mind. You never take any of these things seriously, which is why we're in the fix we're in.

They Said It

The Weather Channel [reminds] us there’s always a catastrophe somewhere or other, always someone flooded from his home or running for his life from a funnel-shaped cloud.

David Sedaris

The Good Book Says...

A while back (sorry, lazy and disorganized, so no link, but you don't need it to understand this, so just keep reading, alright?) I went off on phrases that were patently untrue but were repeated as truth, sort of weaponized wisdom, as they are trotted out when someone wants you to act in a certain way, and need the backup of authority.

Well, one of the phrases was Those who do not know history are doomed to repeat it.

On the way to looking something else up, I found all of verse 1:9 of the Book of Ecclesiastes: What has been is what will be, and what has been done is what will be done, and there is nothing new under the sun. So all of you people who have been running around wielding the doomed to repeat history chestnut, stop. You can't argue with the Good Book!

As a side note, I hope the author of Ecclesiastes has been collecting royalties for the song Que Sera, Sera.

3 20 19

Words and Non-Meaning

When I was in college, I would take the train from Rochester to Toronto, usually to visit friends. One year, I traveled on New Year's Eve. When I took my seat, I found someone left a copy of the New York Times. I thanked the God of Newspapers Left Behind, and settled in.

The paper included Russell Baker's column. He reflected on New Year's Eve celebrations, and more specifically, our use of euphemisms to cover our bad habits. Mostly, it was long lists of words we use when we don't want to say we're drunk, interspersed with No one will be drunk tonight. They may be...

I was reminded of this recently when I came across someone using the phrase Netflix and chill, which is sort of like friends with benefits, which is like hooking up, which sometimes is like a one night stand, and on and on (thinking of, is there such a thing as a two-night or four-night stand, or anything between one-night stand and married [living together isn't it]?). If I worked at it, I could probably come up with as many euphemisms for casual sex as Baker did for getting drunk.

But then I realized that the number of euphemisms is a function not only of desire to hide a not-socially-approved embarrassing activity, but also of time. So nobody makes whoopee any more, and even friends with benefits is on the outs. We have to have ways of hiding stuff from the oldsters.

Poor euphemisms. They have such a short life.

They Said It

The people who [are] trying to make this world worse are not taking the day off. Why should I?

Bob Marley

3 17 19

St. Paddy's x 365

The world is filled with outrage and people being offended. Someone is aways saying or doing something somewhere, often with innocent intent, that will offend someone and at minimum spark demands for apologies and reparation, if not a lawsuit. Outrage can spring up as quickly as I can say Another pitcher! on St. Patrick's Day.

Shamrocks have three leaves, not four.

Ah, yes, 'tis St. Patrick's Day. And a happy saint's day to ye, laddies and lassies (Is he calling us dogs? And why isn't 'lassies' first? Is he saying we're secondary to men? I'm offended! [See how easy that was?]).

Well, anyway, back to St. Pat's Day. I've often heard it said (and read it on many T-shirts, so it has to be true) that on St. Patrick's Day, everyone is Irish. I've also noticed that the Irish, as a group, have a curiously defining characteristic. Tell a joke based on a stereotype of any ethnic group, and someone from that ethnic group (or maybe even not from that group but wanting to defend the rights and dignity of all people) will become offended and found an anti-defamation league. Tell a joke based on an Irish stereotype, say a drunken Irishman (the basis of almost every Pat & Mike joke known), and there's sure to be an Irishman nearby who wants to tell an even funnier Pat & Mike joke, and may be willing to stand a round, too.

So that's why I'm proposing to make St. Patrick's Day a daily event. We're all Irish then, and we should act that way. More happiness, more jokes, less anxiety, less anger and outrage. Sounds like a win-win, even without more beer.

I'm sure it will offend someone somewhere.

3 13 19

More thoughts from the shower

Our first is actually a pre-shower thought, and appeared while waiting for the water to warm sufficiently to actually shower. I thought about when people recommended (mostly to teenage boys) that they should take a cold shower when they felt, um, warm, I guess (does anybody do that anymore in a non-ironic way, or is it a part of American lore and transmitted from generation to generation, like jokes told by third grade boys?). I recall taking cold showers, but because there was no hot water, not because I needed to dampen raging teenage hormones. Anyway, I was wondering about how long the effects of the cold shower lasted. I'm guessing about as long as the cold shower did.

I like the word misspelled. You rarely see it misspelled (unless people leave out the second s). Few words have two double letters (three sets if you count the 'e's). There are options for spelling (misspelled and mis-spelled). It's kind of fun to say, with the 's' and 'l' sounds. And most of all, it's non-judgmental. When someone points out a misspelling, it's like it's help. It's not you misspelled this word, it's more Oh. thanks for the help.

This one is complex, which is what usually happens when something drops in from nowhere. There are lots of different inputs for it. 1) A number of non-governmental agency (NGO) aid groups in disaster torn regions who distribute food and other supplies have stopped giving it away. Rather, they sell it to grocers and other store owners for a minimal price. In turn, the shop keepers sell it to people. People get fed, the stigma of handouts is gone, and the economy is strengthened.

2) There are a number of food deserts (defined as an area where people where the nearest supermarket selling fresh, healthful food is a mile or more away) in the United States. Over 28 million people live in these areas. 3) The American model for for food banks is often a two-step process–a food warehouse that collects donations and sends food to food pantries or soup kitchens, which in turn get food to hungry people.

What happens if we take the capitalistic model the NGOs use overseas and apply it to the American food deserts? Set up some of the recipients as small stores. The warehouse would supply them food at a (minimal) cost, which they would then sell in their stores. Obviously the store owners would need help–financing, permitting, inventory, bookkeeping– but I think it would provide a lot of benefits over the current system. Plus, at least for a few people, it might help break that cycle of poverty that we keep hearing about.

Wow. It's cold on here this morning.

3 10 19

Daylight Savings Again

Did you remember to turn all you clocks an hour forward? I did, and it feels wonderful! Now, I won't be late to things today, even though there's nothing on the calendar, or maybe I'll be way early for the things I don't have to go to. I forget which it is in the spring, but I'm ready!

I don't know what all the fuss is. So you have a minor disruption and don't know what time it is. The rate of heart attacks goes up 24%, and just when you were getting used to waking up when it was mostly daylight, you're waking up in the dark, and driving to work for an additional four weeks staring into the rising sun. The pain and difficulties are more than worth all the benefits we get from DST, like being able to pull weeds from the garden when you get home from work! And um, well, I'm sure you have your own list of good things that happen with DST. I'm sure it's just coincidence that DST uses the same letters that the acronym for sexually transmitted disease does.

I have to admit I cheated a little bit. I changed all the clocks last night before I went to bed, and went to bed at my usual time, only under daylight savings. Of course, the clock-setting doesn't matter, as we will have our semi-annual power blip in about an hour or so, where the power will go out just long enough to cause all the electric clocks to reset, and I'll have to set them all over again.

But for a couple of hours, I can bask in the knowledge that I got it right, and did a good job. Yay for me!

Well, I'm sorry that you feel that way.

They Said It-Sorta.

There's a quotation by Albert Einstein that startsYoung Einstein If you judge a fish by its ability to climb a tree... The problem, my friend, is not with the fish.

Also, I don't know if the mind that could come up with an image/analogy like that is the genius Albert Einstein or the couldn't-match-his-socks Albert Einstein. And frankly, I don't think it matters–it's fun either way.

3 6 19

Headlines, More

In Gizmodo: Elixir of Immortality Uncovered in 2,000 Year-Old Chinese Tomb

Strikes me you should take the elixir before you enter the tomb.

'Splaining Things

I saw an article about eagles at Reelfoot Lake in Tennessee. The main gist of the piece was interesting, but what I liked was this passage: Reelfoot Lake is less a lake than a system of bayous, creeks and swampland connected by areas of shallow open water. It was created in the winter of 1811-1812 when a series of powerful earthquakes and aftershocks caused 15,000 acres of cypress forest to sink. The waters of the Mississippi River rushed into the depression. To eyewitnesses, the river seemed to be flowing backward.

I've heard about the Mississippi flowing backward during the earthquake, and I often wondered what that looked like–how much of the river, for how long, what happened to boats, and so on. This explains it. It was nature creating a new lake. Not really about the river, but it gives a new view to the scale of the Mississippi River and the amount of water, that it can fill a 15,000 acre lake and still keep flowing.

By way of comparison, Naval Station Norfolk, the largest naval base in the world, covers 6,200 acres. Disney World in Florida is over 27,000 acres, with 12,000 of that devoted to the Disney Wilderness Preserve. Only 5,900 acres of the remaining 15,000 acres has been developed. Manhattan's land area is 14,600 acres.

They said it

People do not quit playing because they grow old; they grow old because they quit playing.

Oliver Wendell Holmes

3 3 19

Changing the View

I've been trying to catch up on my podcast listening, and finally pushed The Accidental Creative to the end of May, when Todd Henry interviewed Geoff Woods about his (then) new book, One Thing. The podcast was about the ability to focus, and comes highly recommended. He spoke about the importance of doing the one thing you can do now, no matter how small, to move toward your goal.

About halfway through, Woods said something that stuck. He asked, when you turn on your computer, what's the first thing you do? Most people start by checking e-mail and then checking social media. What you're doing, he says, is saying you don't know what you're supposed to be doing, and by responding to e-mails, you're letting everybody else take control and decide what your priorities are. When we don't have clarity or focus on the goals, we end in react mode, deal with urgent matters, or what's convenient.

But I'll tell you, it's hard. I don't even have new e-mail notifications turned on, but every day, when I turn on the computer, the first thing I do is check e-mail. In the few days since I heard the podcast, I think about it and still check e-mail first thing. Old habits break hard, or maybe not checking is a new trick I just can't learn.

Not Learning

A long time ago, (too long, too lazy to look up) I wrote a piece about my ideal newspaper–how the entertainment section would have articles about TV and movies and interview the people who make them about the show, and sports would talk about games and report scores, for example. It would not have articles about a star getting busted for drugs, or contract negotiations, selling a house, or showing up at a charity event. Those would be in regular news or a legal section, business, real estate, and society, respectively. In short, the section title should provide a guide to what will be in that section.

The New York Times apparently did not read my post. Guess which section the following first sentence was in? A few miles and a few days from this weekend's start of the Iditarod sled dog race, a glaciologist named Shed O'Neel stood in his sun-drenched office at the United States Geological Survey, talking about climate change.

That's right, dear readers, it was the Sports Sunday section. I can only guess that the writer thought he was interviewing Shaquille O'Neill (AKA Shaq), the legendary Hall of Fame center for the Los Angeles Lakers.

Even if that is the case, though, the article should be in the science and technology section, or some place where they don't have to invent a lame hook to the Iditarod to burn two pages of the sports section on climate change.

Fortnightly T-shirt

5 19 19

Varying a trite and untrue saying.

Fred the Flower

5 12 19

Fred knows his role in our world.

Oldsters Can Have Memes Too

5 15 19

I'm not sleeping. My eyes are exercising in private.

Apt 123

5 12 19

From the very earliest days.

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