Saturday, April 21, 2018

The Saturday Picture Show, April 21, 2018

Two noble figures meet. Here's Aaron Rodgers, star of the Green Bay Packers and several television commercials, recruiting a new fan: The Dalai Lama. Big Tipper, The Lama, and he granted Rodgers a moment of perfect consciousness, so he's got that going for him.
This is the very definition of "mesmerizing."  Stare at this for a few seconds and you'll feel your eyeballs turning into pinwheels.
This sounds like it will lead to perfectly orderly stairways...but think about it...
I saw this online would make a great t-shirt or beach towel.
Reach out and touch...touch someone's hand...make this world a better place, if you can...
We were told as children that the stork brought babies. No one told us where the stork got these babies, but you still see his image at bridal showers all the time.
We enjoyed seeing this on the Turner Classic "Noir Alley." Ricardo Montalban, long before the Chrysler commercials and the "Rich Corinthian leather," and long after the Bride of Frankenstein days for Elsa Lanchester.
Tonight is the final night for Baltimore Light City, the annual celebration of electricity downtown. After tonight, it'll be back to the usual red and blue flashing lights.

Friday, April 20, 2018

Bat Man

Did you ever watch a situation "comedy" on TV, or a movie with Adam Sandler (except for "Big Daddy") and wonder where the comedy went?

The answer is, and always has been, that the comedy we seek from television and movies is hiding in plain real life!

The latest example comes from the Millcreek Township School District, outside Erie, Pennsylvania, where Superintendent William Hall has heard about all the school shootings that our lax laws have brought us, and responded by handing out miniature wooden baseball bats to the 500 (probably amused) teachers who shape young mind there.

The purpose of the baseball bats is use "as a tool against an active shooter just like any other item in the immediate room."

Image result for miss grundyI know, I know.  Like me, you're shaking your head, picturing Ms Grundy in the Archie comics subduing Moose and Jughead with a tiny Louisville Slugger, and not coming up with a lucid image.

Mr Hall says parents and students need not fear that young Marmaduke or Penelope will be getting bopped on the beezer for any little infraction, since the wee bats will remain locked in the classroom and are only to be used/available in a hard lockdown situation.

Of course, if and when a "hard lockdown" situation occurs, it will be a simple matter for a teacher confronted with an armed sociopath to ask for enough time to get the key out of the little wooden box that says "Souvenir of Painted Mountain, Arkansas" that Uncle Ned brought back that time out of the top right drawer of the desk, and then go to the locked cabinet where the bat sits, waiting for the call to duty.

I'm sure the armed sociopath won't mind waiting.

Bottom line:  the bats are 16 inches long, and cost the district about $1,800.

William Hall, superintendent of the Millcreek Township School District in western Pennsylvania, displays one of the miniature bats given to teachers.
Weapon of math instruction
I don't mean to harsh Mr Hall; I'm sure he came up with this plan with the best of intentions, but just like that school down South that wanted all the kids to bring in canned goods, so as to subdue an intruder with a barrage of thrown cans of Dole Pineapple Chunks in Heavy Syrup and Green Giant Mexicorn, the problems and needs of our schools and our society at large will better be served by meaningful legislators enacting meaningful laws and judges and juries punishing those who violate same.

And not to mock Mr Hall too heavily, but, sir, have you spent much time around teenagers, especially teenaged males?  I don't think you have spent enough, if you don't think they won't howl at the name you gave this ill-conceived program.

The bat defense is technically called "Threat assessment, Run, Obstruct and barricade, Join forces, Attack, and Never give up."

That's right. What young dude won't look forward to trying on a TROJAN?

Thursday, April 19, 2018

A-B-C-D-E-F-G-H-I got a hurricane named Isaac...

Get ready! Batten down the hatches, or whatever you do with your battens.

The Atlantic Hurricane (known in Maryland as "HAIRikin Season) Season is June 1 til November 30, after which it is not allowable to wear white clothing. During Hurricane Season, dress as you would for boarding up windows and bringing in lawn furniture, the grill, and Uncle Ed from where they sit outside and putting them in the garage or whatever saloon Ed likes.

And the annual clenchy predictions are out for this season. We get guesses  informed predictions from two main sources: Colorado State University, and AccuWeather.  CSU is calling for slightly above-average hurricane activity with a prediction of 14 named storms (see name chart below.) They go on say that 7 of the 14 will be graduated to full hurricane status, with 3 of THEM being full-blown BFD (Big Fine Donnybrook) major hurricanes.

Over at AccuWeather, their weather guesses say it will be a near normal to slightly above-normal year, and they say to count on between 12 to 15 tropical storms, with 6 to 8  forecast to become hurricanes and 3 to 5 are seen as real bough-breakers.

Of course, it seems longer than this, but it was only last September when the Hurricane Twins, Irma and Maria, caused such unimaginable damage in the South and Puerto Rico and elsewhere in the Caribbean.

Michael Bell, of Colorado University's Tropical Meteorology Project, is one of those believers in the "whose ox is being gored" theory of disaster evaluation, because, as he puts it, "It takes only one storm near you to make this an active season."  And how many times have we been enjoying clear, sunny summer weather while the coast of N. Carolina or Flo. Rida are being shredded by a named storm?  And vice versa.

The meteorologists sit down and analyze decades' worth of data, including the temperatures of the Atlantic Ocean waters, sea level pressures, vertical wind shear (that's the measurement of wind speed and direction compared to heights above sea level and the always-important El NiƱo (the result of waters warming in the Pacific).

There is also a scientific notion that as far as hurricanes are concerned, lightning does not strike twice in the same location, but two wrongs do not make a right, either.

Here are the names of the candidates for Hurricane Status: (clip 'n' save!)

Wednesday, April 18, 2018

Trouble brewing? Be more perky.

Image result for dj jazzy jeff thrown outI've been paying attention to this Starbucks mess up in Philadelphia. I'm sure you've seen the story. Two African-American men were waiting in a Sbux for a third guy - a business associate - to join them and they got the old tosseroo from the staff because they were sitting there without ordering.  Even though they said they were waiting for a dude, they still got the rush, and plenty of people leaped up to say they hang around in the green coffee dungeons all the time without getting treated like DJ Jazzy Jeff.

So! It's full emergency time for the *bx public relations team, and HBIC (Head Barista In Charge), Kevin Johnson, is putting himself out there. He had a cup of coffee and flew to Philly, where he is appearing on every television show except "Hockey Night In Canada" to beg the public not to boycott.

The two men so rudely (and likely illegally) arrested have agreed to meet with Johnson, who called the arrests "reprehensible" and told Good Morning America, "I'd like to have a dialogue with them so that I can ensure that we have opportunity to really understand the situation and show some compassion and empathy for the experience they went through. Finally as we're working to solve this, I'd like to invite them to join me in finding a constructive way to solve this issue."

I am reading a book in which a guy gets gasoline all over his jeans, and later is surprised to find himself engulfed in flame, and seriously burned.
I bring this up to point out that it's best to prevent situations like this, rather than deal with them afterwards.

I know it's tough to hire people to serve coffee, and be courteous to people as well.  Even though Starbuxxxxxx calls them "baristas," they have a need to educate the people they hire, to teach them the rules of civil conduct. No, there is no way to test an applicant for latent racial bias (although a look at their social pages and t-shirt can give you some leads) but at least the coffee shop empire could provide training for managers BEFORE an incident like this comes along and allows some callow counter person to cause the firm millions of lost customers and dollars.

Two questions remain in my mind:

  • What difference did it make to the starb*** staff if those two guys sat around waiting for their friend? Did it affect their income or status at all? No matter the race of the people involved, who cares if people sit there soaking up Wi-Fi and waiting to get a coffee? 
  • Does anyone ever think of finding locally-owned cafes and diners to grab a cuppa mocha java instead of enriching people from Seattle? I know, Starbs is the cool coffee spot, beloved by hipsters. I urge the pack to find another place that knows how to treat people right.

And one last thing before I finish my tea. Here come the standard stencilled-and-outlined PR denials! Johnson is now saying, "This is not who we are."  Balderdash. This is EXACTLY who you are, or people would not be so steamed.  Maybe it's not who you WISH to be, but you can work on that while I get my tea at home.

Tuesday, April 17, 2018

Ha ha and LOL

For the sweet love of all that's good and holy, when will it end with these people?

Image result for t j millerSome fool named T.J. Miller, who claims to be a comedian, is under arrest, charged with allegedly calling in a fake bomb threat last month while riding an Amtrak train to New York.

I have to be honest, as always. This might be the greatest publicity stunt ever, because at no point in my life prior to this arrest was I familiar with the name T.J. Miller. I mean, it sounds like a relief pitcher for the New York Mets or an geometry teacher at a high school in Dubuque, of those guys whose tie tack is a tiny slide rule. I had never heard of the comedian with that name, or of the "Silicon Valley" sitcom, for that matter.

But now old T.J. (he's 36) is out on $100,000 bond after appearing before a U.S. District judge in New Haven, Connecticut.

The criminal complaint filed against him alleges that on March 18, Miller called 911 dispatcher and reported that another passenger on the train he was on “has a bomb in her bag.” Amtrak officials then had to stop the train in Westport, Connecticut, and have everyone disembark for searching.  And guess what?  The only bomb onboard was Miller's career.

And then, AMTRAK police talked to Miller, and he gave a whole different description of the woman that time, admitted to having "one glass of red wine," and denied that he suffers from mental illness.

If you read further in the complaint, it turns out that Miller gave the wrong number for the train he was on, and that an attendant who worked on the train said that Miller appeared intoxicated upon boarding, had multiple drinks on the train and was booted off the choo-choo in New York for being intoxicated.

AND the attendant says Miller was bickering with a woman who was also in the first class section of the train with him, but in a different row. Having spoken with the woman who was the subject of Miller's hostility, the investigators state in the complaint that Miller was "motivated by a grudge against the female" in making the false call to 911.

There has been no comment from Miller concerning his arrest, although he tweeted the following inanity about his upcoming "comedy" show in Philadelphia:

What up Philadelphia. Illadelphia. Me and @CJSullivan_ are about to wreck it this weekend. My girl Cork is on the case, @HeliumComedy is the jam. And peanut butter.
See you there. MOST ALL SHOWS SOLD OUT so get them fixed fast. #roadrunner
— t.j. miller (@nottjmiller) April 10, 2018
I mean, really, is there anything sadder than someone so obviously bedeviled as to torment people on a train and then place police and fire personnel in jeopardy, and the entire trainload of passengers and crew in a state of inconvenience, just for some revenge against a woman who, most likely, finds T.J. Miller repugnant and refused his company?

What up T.J. Miller. How does a few months in jail sound to you, funny guy?

Monday, April 16, 2018

Smarter than the average bear

What with the way spring took its sweet old time getting here this year (I didn't mind, for the record) there are two things coming back to Maryland at last.

One of them is the consarned pollen. In fact, if you look it up, you'll find that "consarned pollen" is the official name of the magic fairy dust that makes us sneeze our pants off while our eyes water and our noses clog up and our throats get all wheezy and sore. We never know until it starts how heavy the concentration of pollen in our air will be, but it won't be anything to sneeze at.  Or it will, I dunno.

The other, of course, is the Black Bear, the omnivore (they'll eat anything from picnic lunches to the people who brought them) known in Latin as Ursus americanus. (People who ignore the warnings about this North American beast are known in English as "Lefty.")

They are coming out of hibernation now, having slept the winter months in dens with very poor Wi-Fi, so they are irritable and hungry, although well-rested. Their favorite foods - plants, berries and insects - are not as plentiful as they will be soon, so what's a bear to do, but hang around your back porch and wait for you to leave some poorly-discarded Butterscotch Krimpets or hastily-tossed cheeseburger leavin's lying around. They will also take Jelly Krimpets or plain hamburgers; they aren't picky like your older son.

These bears, they aren't stupid; they don't spend much time here in the urban or exurban or suburban areas where the traffic is congested and you can't find a spot near Trader Joe's and the light rail is offline half the time, so they mainly hang in Maryland's five western counties: Allegany, Frederick, Garrett, Washington and Pittsburgh.

Just kidding on that last one. Pittsburgh is not a county, more a state of mind. And it's technically not in Maryland, but you wouldn't know it from the Steeler jerseys you see around here, although I will admit that a lot of the brides look good in them.

But as a public service, this blog hereby joins the Maryland Department of Natural Resources in urging all residents to remove potential bear attractants.

Lock garbage in a bear-proof trash container, or keep it inside until the refuse collectors arrive. And when they say Lock up the garbage, they mean to use a padlock with a key. Most bears are quite adept at picking ordinary combination locks.

Rinse your trash barrels and cans with ammonia to cut out odors. You think Yogi wants to sniff out your stanky broccoli casserole from last Sunday?
Image result for black bear maryland
Store cooking grills inside or keep them clean. And the Fire Department reminds you to leave grills outside until they are cold.

Take down backyard bird-feeders from April through November, as the bird population will have plenty of wild food sources in summer.  Remember, bird lovers, this advice comes from the state of Maryland, so don't come at me about starving your Scarlet Tanagers.

Whoever figures out a way to make the bears leave the state and take the consarned pollen with them wins lunch with a Park Ranger at a picnic bench of his or her choice.

Sunday, April 15, 2018

Sunday Rerun from 2015: Titanic Decision

Mr Masabumi Hosono paid £13 (13 British Pound Sterlings, worth about 20 American dollars today) for ticket No. 237798 to cross the Atlantic on the Titanic in 1912, and we all know how that worked out. 

But Mr Hosono, 42, the only Japanese passenger aboard, survived the shipwreck, only to be broken for it.  Here's what happened:

He was writing a letter to his wife while sailing for New York.  He began the letter using English, but finished it later in Japanese, aboard the Carpathia, the ship that rescued the Titanic passengers who made it into lifeboats.  When the Titanic hit the iceberg and began taking on water, someone knocked on the door of his second class cabin. He ran to the lifeboat area, but as a foreigner, he was ordered to go below the main decks.

(Every once in a while you come across a passage like that in history, and you wonder what people were thinking 103 years ago. And why.)

In the letter he later finished, Hosono wrote to his wife, "All the while flares signalling emergency were being shot into the air ceaselessly, and hideous blue flashes and noises were simply terrifying. Somehow I could in no way dispel the feeling of utter dread and desolation."

He went on to describe how he climbed back up to the upper deck. "I tried to prepare myself for the last moment with no agitation, making up my mind not to leave anything disgraceful as a Japanese. But still I found myself looking for and waiting for any possible chance for survival."

He came upon a lifeboat filling up with people.  An officer hollered "Room for two more!"   He paused and considered this his final chance to live and see his wife and children again, and jumped into the boat, lifeboat #10. 

Mr Hosono
(Remember, many people chose to stay aboard, having bought into the myth that the ship was unsinkable.  These are the antecedents of people today who stay in large office buildings as the fire alarm rings, refusing to evacuate because "it can't happen here.")

And from that lifeboat, Hosono was rescued, and he returned to Japan to be attacked in his own country for saving himself when so many others died.  The government agency he worked for fired him (although he was rehired eventually), newspapers called him a coward, and a professor of ethics called him immoral.  He may have even become a textbook case; legend has it that a schoolbook was published that called him a "model of shameful behavior."

It would appear that Mr Hosono took the chance to save himself when it was presented to him. In his country, this was seen as a betrayal of the Samurai spirit of self-sacrifice," or that he failed to show the expected conformity.  As a result he was subjected to mura hachibu or ostracism.

He was said to be a broken man when he died in 1939 at age 69. Today, we wonder, who among us would not want to live, when given the chance?  Even if we knew it would cost so much...