Off the Top of My Head

November 28. Computer Chronicles continues. Last week, the program I used to upload files to the internet server broke. This week, Dropbox has started eating files, including a number of poems for a class assignment, and (drumroll, please) snippets and tidits I was collecting for your delight and delectation. So if this is shorter than you might anticipate, well, that's the reason.

The Naming of Names.

If you happen to look up at the moon on November 30, you will be looking at a full moon variously known as the Cold Moon, Frost Moon, Winter Moon, Beaver Moon, Oak Moon, Moon Before Yule, Child Moon, Kartik Purnima, Karthika Deepam and Tazaungdaing Festival Moon, and Ill Poya.

There's supposed to be an 80% eclipse then also, but nobody wants to tell me where on earth we can see it, which is OK, since it's supposed to happen around 4:00 in the hey of hem, so I'm not seeing it anyway, even if it was happening in my backyard.

Maker's Mark

The New York Times has a nice report on a metal slab that appeared in the rock canyons of Utah earlier this month. Nobody has taken credit for it, or knows how long it's been there.

utah art

The picture in the Times (to the left) shows the monolith in Utah, and another picture showing a similar sculpture in a gallery in Manhattan. I think it looks a lot better in the desert.

The suspected artist said something in 2002 about putting his art pieces in remote natural places. Unfortunately, he died in 2011, so we'll never know if he got around to it..

According to authorities, and artist needs permission to place art on federal lands, so the sculpture is illegal. If that's true, that's the kind of regulation that should be repealed, not the stuff about clean air or continuing to protect birds or workplace safety.


From the U.S. Sun: Trump ‘furious’ at Rudy Giuliani, Sidney Powell and legal team ‘fools that are making him look bad’ in election battle Now, I thought Trump was able to, and did, everything on his own, and didn't need help with anything. Strikes me that's the case here.


Inspiration moment.

Fred the Flower

Fred tries to get in the holiday spirit.

Fortnightly T-Shirts

Sometimes it's a mug, sometimes a meme, sometimes it's funny. But the price is always right.

T-shirts you just can't buy.


Poetry Corner

Saturday Morning Poem

Number 42 in the series.



I have heard

That bare feet

Connect us to

The energy, the power,

The life force

Of Mother Earth.

She does not transmit

Through a cold bathroom floor,

It seems.


Saturday Morning Poem

This is Number 41.

Long before sunrise,
The cat has to determine
Whether to wake me
By jumping on my chest
Or licking my face.
Averse to decisions,
She does both.


early halloween


Big Think has some thought-provoking articles.

Eric Scott's 1 and done.

My brother-in-law Harvey's academic-politics cartoon: SNAF-U

My sister Mary Pat's blog: LaBrea Rambles.

Suzanne's blog: The Tabard Inn.

Austin Kleon's blog.

More quirky cartoons at The Oatmeal.

Last Week


November 22. Last week, Apple updated some software and broke my program I used to make this stuff accessible to y'all. It's been fixed now, so as I try to catch up, please check out the wonderfulness I tried to give you this past week. There will be more relevant coming this week, which will follow the Nov. 15 items. One less thing you have to give thanks for this holiday season.

November 15. It's a confusing season. The Masters golf tournament is being played. Black Friday happened a month ago. Starbucks started selling pumpkin spice lattes since before the pandemic began. And yet, when I look forward, Thanksgiving is still rushing at us, a week closer than the last time I checked. Of course we weren't able to finalize plans as early as we usually do, what with the CoVID-19 thingie messing up everything. We'll muddle through. I get to have my annual pre-holiday panic attack, centered around having an uncooked or undercooked turkey, and not having enough food, both of which never happen. So the grand adventure continues.

The Conspiracy Theorist

The latest from the desk of the CT is a doozy. Donald Trump will not only not pardon two turkeys this year, but he will set up a guillotine in the middle of Pennsylvania Ave. to behead them. Why? Because he wasn't able to behead anybody during his presidency, and this will have to do. Or he found out that the turkeys voted for him illegally and wants to destroy the evidence.

Another theory: Trump may not pardon two members of the species Meleagris gallopavo, but will pardon Rudy Giuliani and Kayleigh McEnany, as well as all members of his cabinet.

Did You Know?

Compact Discs supposedly take a million years to decompose in landfills. Since neither CDs or landfills have been around for a million years, how did whoever figure that out? Also, thinking of millions of copies of Who let the dogs out? The Macarena and anything featuring Barney the Purple Dinosaur in landfills gives a whole new meaning to toxic waste.

Yes, another headline.


In CNN's Good News section, I learned that Texas boy wins first place in national mullet championship.

How good is that? It's a semi-sincere question.

O.K., I can handle one kid in Texas still having a mullet 30 years after the fad peaked, but enough wearers to have a competition?

And if you're thinking irony, nobody in the history of ever wore a mullet ironically, even David Spade in Joe Dirt.

Visual Moment.

I saw a picture of the Four Seasons Total Landscaping event in Philadelphia held by Trump's lawyers. I think the picture itself has a message or two, regardless of what the words were.

FSTL works out of a simple cement-block building. It's definitely a working facility. The team was outside in the sunshine. I'm guessing venue costs were minimal.

The backdrop was a garage door covered in Trump/Pence yard signs, I'm guessing left over from the campaign, again minimal cost. There wasn't an American flag in sight.

There are ten people in the photograph. Eight are wearing masks.

Reinvention Week

I've noticed that quite often, if I read about something, I will read about it again. I'm not talking about news items which you expect to see across news sources. No, these are unrelated and different takes on a common theme.

I've mentioned Jeff Goins before and he's been having an interesting summer, with some big changes in his life totally unrelated to the pandemic. A recent blog post/articleis a case in point. I liked this quotation, and it indicates the direction he's going:

Our most brilliant work, I believe, comes from a curiosity about life and the universe and who we are. The more curious you are about yourself, the more creative you can be. And when we hold on to these fixed notions of identity, we kill our capacity for what could be.

Then today I was reading some poetry when I came upon this, from Charles Bukowski's no leaders: invent yourself and then reinvent yourself.

So whatever you're doing, today is a chance to do something new, or in a new way. Grab reinvention!


I like word riddles and questions, especially if they have no answers and show just how smart the questioner is. The most famous is, What rhymes with orange followed by what is a synonym for thesaurus?

My new candidate: what alliterates with alliteration?

Bonus observation: if you stare at it long enough, thesaurus is one of those words that looks like it's spelled incorrectly, even when it is correct.

Job listing.

LinkedIn still sends me posts for jobs they think I might be interested in. Today, they think I might be interested in being a Special Agent for the FBI. I really can't apply until I decide if I would be Scully-like or Mulder-like.

And in an unrelated thought, does the FBI have any agents who aren't special?


My favorite daily inspiration website is slowly phasing out–no new posts since late August. In the meanwhile, their collection of quotations is still available.

I was just looking at things Oscar Wilde said. You expect funny, witty, acerbic. You may not expect sentimental, heartfelt, inspirational.

Here's two Really? Oscar Wilde said that? moments.

My wish isn’t to mean everything to everyone but something to someone and Be yourself; everyone else is already taken.

On writing every day.

I know, based on the title, this looks like a specialized post. But I think it can be applied to anyone.

Often, writers (usually beginning) ask, Do I have to write every day? Since I wasn't necessarily writing every day, I would usually reply, You don't have to do anything every day, or even at all. But if you want to get good, that's usually the way to go.

Well, now that I seem to be writing every day, I've found a side) benefit that people don't usually mention. If you write every day, you don't have to spend as much time rewriting. Plus, it's curiously satisfying–feels right and all that.

Donald Trump won't concede.

and he won't go away until he stops dominating news cycles. Right now, the pundit hamsters are still running madly in their wheels, reporting on every tweet, every election challenge, every deployment of the Rudy clown car to another industrial park, and speculating on what ol' Don is going to do tomorrow, next week, next month, and on January 21st. Out here in flyover land, where navels are made for cleaning and not for gazing upon, we are starting to shift to laughter and yawns about all this stuff, which is a sign the national healing has begun.

In the future...

Much like the greatest loser of the 2000 election was Rush Limbaugh, the greatest losers of the 2020 election will probably be CNN and MSNBC. They will have to reinvent themselves to live in a land where there is no showman and easy foil. There might even be enough for them to do without having to resort to spending their life engaging in hot take journalism.

Depressing Headline of the Week.

From the BBC: Virtual office Christmas parties organized on Zoom


Two more side by side, again from the BBC.

Video games good for well-being, says study and Street Fighter (a videogame) firm's security beaten by hackers.

The first headline might not be absolutely true in all cases.

Having a duh! moment.

Two duhs in one headline, actually, from the Guardian: Ivanka Trump obsessed with status, says former friend in tell-all essay.

And the head-scratcher

Canadian officials warn drivers not to let moose lick their cars.

Selling It.

My drug store urges me to Select narcotics in time-delay pharmacy safe.

It's good advice. Those narcotics are probably fresher and of higher quality than the narcotics out on the easy access shelves.

Wait. One of my fact checkers thinks the sign might be using select as an adjective modifying narcotics, and not as an imperative verb, as I read it.

The checker is probably right, but I still like my reading.

New Acquisition Regulation

We have a lot of stuff. New stuff (mostly food, books and clothing) keeps coming in. However, it's getting harder and harder to find a home for permanent (not consumable) things.

Consequently, we are amending our acquisition regulations to account for this. Notable changes, phrased as questions:

  • Is this a replacement for an existing item?
  • Does it make me prettier or look smarter?
  • Is it small enough to be pushed under the couch when we have visitors?
  • Do I have to purchase something else to make this work correctly (for example, reading glasses to read tiny print in a book)?
  • Can it be used more than once (for example, an exotic spice needed for a recipe for deep-fried rikki-tikki enchilada sorbet with muenster cheese that I will probably never make again)?
  • And the key question: Does it need to be dusted?

Bad News/Good News

One of the casualties of 2020 was Neiman-Marcus, which filed for bankruptcy earlier in the year. However, reorganization spared the annual Christmas catalog, famous for outrageously priced items. I guess that's a good thing.

TomatoPlanet!! is a random collection of writing, cartoons, and things that strike my fancy. © 2003-2020, John McCarthy

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