It's funny how every time some tv or movie director wants to give us the ambiance of a quiet evening out under the stars, they always dub in the sound of crickets. I don't know about the crickets who inhabit your neighborhood, but here around the Lazy 'C' Ranch, we don't hear them outside until mid-July, the earliest. And even then, they stay pretty quiet until after dinner, unlike the chattering birds who start howling every day just before 5 in the yawning. And tell me, how many nights have you lain awake, wondering why people like me fret about the correct past participle of "lie" just how doggone hot it is outside? So, you get up; it's 3:22 AM, since you were going to get up soon anyhow, and you get about two feet across the bedroom floor when you find that thumbtack you dropped the other day. Bare feet are the best thumbtack-finders you'll ever need. Hopping like a person with a thumbtack sticking out of their foot, you get down to the kitchen, to check the thermometer. But by this time, you don't really even care that much what the temperature is outside.
Friends, there is an easier way. Just count the chirp of a cricket for 14 seconds - and you've got your watch right on your wrist! - and then add 40! So, if you count 30 clicks in those 14 seconds, the temperature outside is 70°! What could be easier? That's for Fahrenheit. The formula for telling the current Celsius temp is somewhat more confusing, which could not be more appropriate.
Buddy Holly & The Crickets
This is all explained scientifically somewhere, but here's a link to the Old Farmer's Almanac - so popular with all of us old farmers - that will let you listen to crickets chirping. We don't know why crickets chirp more frequently as the temperature rises, but don't worry. Crickets don't know why we can't rub our legs together and make a noise, unless we're wearing corduroy pants.
Here are some statistics concerning Taylor Swift: She has countless looks. You never see her with the same hair or clothing or makeup two times in a row. She is beautiful every time she steps out. She is 27 years of age and stands 5'10" tall. A June, 2017 estimate of her wealth puts it at $280,000,000. You have every right to like her, or not, or like her music or not. She has, like most of us, one head, two legs, two feet, two arms and two hands and one buttockular region. David Mueller, former radio DJ, had zero business putting either of his two hands anywhere near that last-mentioned region. She says he did, and she wants $1 to establish her right to keep his grubby mitts off of her. He says he did no such a thing, and he wants $3,000,000 of her $280,000,000 as compensation for him losing his job after allegedly getting all handsy with her. To be honest, I'm writing this last week, as the trial was still going on in this matter, so I have no idea how it will turn out. But I know how it should. Being in show business is a tough way to make your 280 million; no matter what you might think, it's hard work. You have to travel from town to town, arena to arena, and do your show, and then, to beat the drum, you have to appear on stupid Morning Zoo radio shows with clowns like this, a man who apparently believes that Taylor Swift will fall in love with his grimy groping hands and marry him and take him away to a land of ease and comfort. Or maybe he is one of those guys who believe EVERY woman lives for the very chance to have him play her behind like a keyboard. I don't know, I wasn't there, but I know for sure that Taylor has better things to do with a week in August than to countersue this jackanapes. Seems to me she is taking a principled stance here, drawing the line where her own body is concerned. It used to be that radio people were happy to meet stars. It added a little lustre to their shows, something besides the records and the traffic reports and commercials for used Dodge cars. Now this Mueller wants money to make himself feel better, and I hope that having to shell out a dollar to Taylor Swift makes him one dollar short for the dollar menu.
I find mathematics endlessly fascinating, like break dancing and baklava making. I can watch all of these things being done for hours, but I don't attempt any of them without protective equipment. I once went break dancing. Broke two limbs and a lamp. Back to math. I have spent decades trying to get math teachers and learned sages from all four corners of the globe to tell me why -7 x -7 = +49. I mean, let's say you're 7 dollars in debt (not too hard to say) and then, owing to some unwise investments and the purchase of canned hops, malt and barley, you're 7 times WORSE OFF. The math wizards would have you thinking you're 49 bucks up, but anyone who's tried to make it paycheck to paycheck knows better. And take dancing! I love to watch people dance when they can really dance. Not so much when a couple saws their way across the floor at a wedding conception, with the husband looking like the south end of a northbound horse. I mean you take some people who can get out there and do that Stank Leg or Dab or Chicken Dance, and it's fun to watch. They're really lit, as the young people say. I know some English Lit, but they tell me it's not the same. In 6th grade, Mr Myers introduced us to the concept of the googol. It's a very large number, a 1 followed by a hundred zeros, known to its friends as "10 to the one hundredth power."
A math guy named Edward Kasner devised the Googol in 1938, probably as a way to express in digits the amount of times I asked my parents for my own pickup truck at 16. It looks like this: 10000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000.
Kasner's nephew, 9-year-old Milton Sirotta, came up with the word Googol. At 9, I came up with the idea of sticking my thumb in the fuse box down the basement, and I'm sure Milton never thought to do that, being honorably occupied and all. If that word seems familiar...well, Larry Page and Sergey Brin, two of the founders of the search engine Google, were always into math and wanted to use Googol as the name of their product, but someone typed it as Google, and it stuck. You could look it up.
I wanted more information about that guy who worked for the giant search engine company who wrote an idiotic memo about how women can't be eggheady computer geniuses (like he is) because of their biology. So I looked it up on Bing. (pause for laughter). I was going to write about that memo that the Google employee wrote about the employer who was paying him top dollar, but no. Everyone says that Google is the best place to work. From what I read, they deliver your pay in a gold wheelbarrow filled with gold, and every employee gets a massage and mani/pedi at their desk as a French chef prepares an omelet and a baker saunters by with a basket and tongs, handing out piping-hot croissants. Work period is 10AM - 1130, followed by a steam, another massage, a gourmet lunch and some time in an isolation chamber for focusing. Then it's back to work from 2 - 3, at which time a donkey cart passes through the office and everyone is ridden back to their parking spot, where the Jet-Pac they use for personal transport is charged up, shined up and ready to go. Off to home, a lavish mansion in California's desirable Tapioca Hills suburb, where a live-in maid and butler await. Swim? Workout? Polo in the back yard? Whatever your pleasure, Hazel and Benson are ready to make it yours. Later, it's an Italian/American pasta dinner, prepared by Chef Boy-Ar-Dee himself, followed by one final rubdown from Rolf, the genial Swede who goes house to house performing massages on all the tech geniuses who work so hard to make it easier for us to search for pictures of Anthony Scaramucci wearing a propeller beanie. And then off to dreamland, in a climate-controlled pyramid, where every hour or so, an automatic spritzer delivers sprays of lavender aroma in the master boudoir. And this James Damore just had to mess it all up, writing a long harangue about how horrible it is to work at Google. They fired him, reminding one and all that even though we think we deserve the right to speak out about anything, as long as someone is paying you, they have a certain amount of power to tie a can to you for saying dumb stuff. I had a female supervisor for years, and one of her favorite quotes was something her mother said about people "wanting too much butter for a nickel." This guy wanted the great job and still wanted to bellyache and belittle others. And then he lit the fire underneath his own pants by claiming that men are better suited to certain techie tasks and saying that women are biologically...well he didn't say inferior, you see; he just said men are better at these jobs, you understand. As an official Old American, I am often asked for advice by younger people. Actually, they're asking for me to pass the catsup, but they get a healthy dash of advice with it. Rules for Keeping A Good Job Until You Have Something Better: 1. Do the job you're supposed to do, somewhere near the best you can every day. 2. Don't publish 10-page manifestoes about how much better your race/gender/faith/generation is better than anyone else's. And what's more, you'll be a man, my son.
This is not the picture that caused all the trouble
When I was in junior high school, the yearbook editor assigned one staff member the task of looking at all the group pictures that were to run in "The Key." The assignment: check out all the pictures and make sure that no one was giving anyone the finger, or any other inappropriate gesture. And they produced a yearbook in 1964 utterly devoid of flipoffs, except for these two guys. In the picture of the Key Club itself, the people who produced the yearbook.
So, again, the cobbler's children run barefoot. I drag this out, not to embarrass anyone who is nearing 70 years of age, but to point out to 12-14-year olds that giving people the finger in a group photo is not new. I would guarantee that if there were a photograph of Washington's troops bivouacked at Valley Forge in 1777-78, there would be one wise guy giving half a peace sign. It was no surprise that a girls softball team from Virginia found out the hard way that the 2017 version of a junior high school yearbook is called Snapchat. And that a picture taken in the warm glow of victory in a softball tournament with six of the girls flipping the bird with the caption "watch out host" will wind up getting you in two or three fingers' worth of trouble. We're talking about the girls representing the Atlee junior league softball team from Mechanicsville, Va. They played and won a game at the Junior League World Series in Kirkland, Washington, recently, and half a dozen of them threw out Bronx salutes in a postgame photo. There had been some contention with the other team - reports say a player and coach from Kirkland’s team were thrown out of the game for relaying Atlee’s signals from second base to their batters - but that's neither here nor there, as people always say for no good reason.
The picture was Snapchatted, the other team howled, and the Atlee girls apologized Saturday, but as with most apologies, it was too late. Kevin Fountain, a Little League spokesman, said the Snap was "inappropriate," telling a Richmond reporter that it violated the league’s "policies regarding unsportsmanlike conduct."
Atlee team manager Scott Currie found out about the photo shortly after the team posted it. He immediately reprimanded the girls involved, and had them delete the post and apologize to the Kirkland girls. He did not agree when the Little League brass told the team to go home, they were disqualified, however. "It’s a travesty for these girls," he told the Richmond Times-Dispatch. "Yes, they screwed up, but I don’t think the punishment fit the crime." Well, a long-standing tradition in jurisprudence says the guilty party does not have right of approval over their sentence. Sure, it was tough that the entire team was punished for the actions of a few of the girls, but that's another tradition: sometimes all of society suffers for the transgressions of a very few. If nothing else, the girls all learned that lesson this summer. And that's Key.