Sunday, August 25, 2019

Sunday Rerun: In Russia, they call it One Steppe Beyond

I'm writing this on Saturday night, and tomorrow, I will be awakened by the sound of Madness.

And not the kind you think!  This is the 80's British group Madness and their great hit "One Step Beyond" which you can see by clicking the words above!

Madness (l)  was one of those groups of guys running around doing all sorts of goofy senseless things and making music at the same time: sort of like the Republican Party with saxophones!  Their music was defined as "pop/ska," which I understand half of.  Ska, so they say, was a precursor to reggae.  It's all that Caribbean sound to me. I am not musically sophisticated enough to be able to say, "Oh, that's ska!" or "Love that cha-cha sound" or "You've got to know, that's good reggae!"  So I don't know Bob Marley from Jacob Marley; I'm happy with what I hear.

But I like to be thorough, so I looked up Madness and found they were influenced by a guy born Cecil Bustamente Campbell, but better known to his legions of fans in his native Jamaica and all across the British Empire as "Prince Buster."(r)  Buster is highly regarded by Madness; they call him "The man who set the beat." (In the days when I was so good at fixing a balky TV by smacking it with my open palm, I was known as "The man who beat the set," but that has nothing to do with anything here.)  Here is Buster's version of One Step Beyond; check it out and see what you think.

Which version do you want me to wake up to on Monday?  Vote early, and often.  If you don't want me to awaken at all on Monday, please don't vote. Harrumph.

Saturday, August 24, 2019

The Saturday Picture Show, August 24, 2019

 An early 50s magazine cover shows a travel agent with her office all decked out with posters for places I would never go. I'd rather look at the back yards of all those apartments in winter.
 "OK Kids, let's have fun!" Go all around the beach and see what rocks you can find while I take a nap, and then you can arrange them! Sound like fun? Be back in two hours!"
 It's hard to get rid of old electronics. This is a guy in Northern Virginia who made a cap, as it were, out of an old monitor, and every night he was going around leaving old TVs and monitors and PC towers on porches in NoVa. We don't know why.
 If you shuddered at first and went, "Ewwwww gross!" come back in the room now, unless you can't stand to see a turtle enjoy a berry.
 This is out west somewhere, and it makes me want to saddle up and ride, or maybe take a nap. I'm all over the place today.
 This is an old mill that's been shut down since the 1830s. 1830s. The vegetation that overtook it is impressive, but don't you think SOMEone would have wanted this building for some other purpose in the last 184 years?
 I love seeing old signs painted directly on old brick walls. You don't see this sort of artistry anymore.
This is a map of the world breaking down all its nations into two categories: green, where people are obligated to remove their shoes when entering a home, and blue, where you can just parade right on into the parlor with your clodhoppers on, no problem. For the information of one "D.T. from D.C.," Greenland is in blue.

Friday, August 23, 2019

Forget Hansel and Gretel

I grew up (so to speak) in the days before helicopter parenting became the rage. My parents had the nutty notion that I was a human being and could figure things out.  This background gets me in a passel of trouble when the talk turns to kids today, especially when I hear parents say they won't let little Abercrombie or Hildegarde ride the school bus with those awful kids from "THAT neighborhood," or walk anywhere without a ride and a backup ride and air support.

But that's for another day. Today, I wish to shock the helicopter out of you by telling you what they do in the Netherlands.

The unfailing New York Times had an article about a summer tradition among the Dutch. They call it "dropping."  Here's what it entails, and please make sure you're sitting down when you read that Dutch pre-teens, out in summer camps, are dropped off in the woods at night and told to find their way back to camp. Just to make it more like real life, some parents will blindfold the kids on the ride to the new destination.

Pia de Jong is a novelist currently living in New Jersey, but she was born and raised in Amsterdam, and she reports that, "You just drop your kids into the world. Of course, you make sure they don't die, but other than that, they have to find their own way."

And no, the kids don't get to take their phones and find their way back with GPS. They do wear hi-vis vests and have maps and compasses, and a team leader has a cell phone just in case.

And in a few hours, they're back, and they have gained independence, confidence in their ability to live on their own, and some teamwork experience as well.

A woman named Lara wrote this to the Times; she was an exchange student in the Netherlands in the 1980s and participated along with her host's family:

"His parents blindfolded us and then dropped us off in groups of 3 or 4, several miles from their house. Maybe we had some sort of map — definitely no GPS — and we walked through farm land, country roads and some wooded areas in random patterns until things eventually started to look a bit familiar, and somehow found our way home. Each group made it back within a few hours. It was a really fun adventure and a nice little group competition and team bonding experience. At the time I took this to be a creative party game my friend's parents contrived for us; how fun to know it was a beloved Dutch tradition!"

Other commenters pointed out that Dutch "woods" are really just very large parks, so it's not like being in the Great Dismal Swamp with the Jersey Devil at your heels, to mix some similes.

Others pointed out that the droppings they experienced weren't nearly as ominous and scary as they sound.

"Droppings are still fun, but it's nowhere near being dropped 'in the middle of nowhere' There is no middle of nowhere in the Netherlands. Usually it a little bit of hiking in a dark piece of forest to make it exciting, and the rest is just following small country roads/ paths," said someone on Reddit.

This might be something for Americans to consider. Right now, the most treacherous trek I see a lot of kids taking is the ten steps from Mom's minivan to the front door of the school.

Let the kids fledge!

Thursday, August 22, 2019

Open wide

I have been through surgery four times, and every time they ask if I can remove my wedding ring, and every time, they give up and cover it up with tape or silly putty or something like that.

I don't have dentures, but I would want to remove them if I had a fifth surgery.
It only makes sense.

Here's why:  a 72-year-old British man had his partial dentures get stuck in his throat during surgery.  AND no one figured it out for eight days, not even the edentulous victim of this negligence.

After eight days of having trouble swallowing, and coughing up blood, the man figured maybe he should go to the emergency room and let someone have a look-see down there.

Eight days.

ER Docs ordered up a chest X-ray, called it pneumonia, and sent him on his merry way with antibiotics and steroids.

Then he went to another (better) hospital for another X-ray. That showed his dentures — a metal roof plate and three false teeth — stuck at the top of this throat.

You really have to look very, very closely to see what's wrong in this throat.
This was good news to the man, because he thought the hospital where he had the surgery in the first place had lost his false choppers.

Dr. Mary Dale Peterson, an anesthesiologist at Driscoll Children’s Hospital in Corpus Christi, Texas, says putting a tube in a patient’s airway can have the result of putting things where they don’t belong.

And she went to medical school to learn that!

Back in Britain, the poor man still had a couple of rounds of bleeding and needed more surgery before he was all better. No one is naming the man, the hospitals, or the doctors (Dr Howard, Dr Fine, Dr Howard) so that they can all try to get better without having people laugh at them on the streets.

Doctors recommend telling your surgeon what's going in your mouth, if anything.

Wednesday, August 21, 2019

Is that a bottle of catsup or are you just glad it's lunchtime?

First of all, I still call it catsup, but that's not important now.

What matters is that someone who wanted to live life in the fast lane pulled the biggest heist of her life, ripping off a bottle of Heinz from a Perkins Restaurant in New Jersey.

People who work in restaurants are used to this sort of thing.  There are millions of Americans who are only dimly aware that Equal, Splenda, and Sweet 'N Low are available for purchase in grocery stores. They just load on the little pink or blue packets when they hunker down to the diner to tie on the feedbag.
And people steal salt and pepper shakers right and left, and stacks of napkins.

But I guess people will stick condiment bottles and jars under their tunics and steal away. That's what the Jersey bandit got away with, but she didn't get far.

Here is her letter of apology:

Someone smashed into her (getaway) car, and life itself was going down the dumper, so she went to WalMart, bought two big bottles of Heinz tomato topping and brought them back with this note (above).

Notice the turn of phrase she included with her remorse: "Again, I'm really sorry if I inconvenienced you the same way my life has been inconveniencing me. I'm sorry :( From, an awful person."

We are left to conclude that it was only after someone smashed her Subaru and other parts of her life turned fecal that she realized that theft is a crime, punishable by incarceration and/or fine.

Marie DiLeo is the franchise owner of the Perkins pancake house. Her manager found the bag with the catsup and the note and turned it over to her, and this is what DiLeo told the local news:

"I really felt bad. She's got to be 17, 18, 19. I really did feel bad."

Kindly, Ms DiLeo posted a picture of the bottles and note on Facebook "just to say, 'You're forgiven.'"

And because a) doing the right thing often brings unforeseen rewards and b) large corporations occasionally pause from their soul-crushing days of snaking across the world, relentlessly seeking profit above all, and crushing the competition to seize upon a public relations coup.  The good people at Heinz are appreciative, and will help to pay for some of the damages to the woman's car.

Good ketchup karma, indeed. Just as an aside, I feel that the person seeking a better bottle of catsup hunts for...Hunt's.  Just sayin'.

And DiLeo, who said no one even knew someone stole anything in the first place, said, "I do believe in karma," she said. "But not over a ketchup bottle."

Tuesday, August 20, 2019


We spend a lot of time worrying about if things are clean and sanitary and telling ourselves that we won't get too many cooties at the Try 'N' Save if we wipe down the handles of our grocery cart as we set out to shop.

We feel really great that the person in the deli is wearing gloves when they handle the pickle and pimento loaf. Of course, who know where that glove-clad hand was two minutes ago, but anyhow...

We tend to think that germs are only in the bathroom, but that ain't necessarily so...

It turns out, the inside of your car (and surely mine) is BacteriaLand, where germs go to hide.

An insurance company called Netquote sent investigators, CSI types, to check out the germification level in cars like Uber sends for you, or taxis you hail, or sedans you rent at the airport.  They found that seat belts are dirtier than window buttons or door handles, which is a good thing, in one way, proving that people are using seat belts, but a bad thing, when you realize that their grubby mitts are dragging dirt from all over into that Impala.

They found that - get this - toilet seats contain fewer microorganisms than rideshares vehicles and rental cars.

“It all comes down to the frequency of cleaning. All surfaces that are touched regularly by numerous people will be germy. That’s why we clean them,” says Jason Tetro, microbiologist and author of The Germ Files. “Taxis are required to keep their cars clean, meaning they may be using cleaners and disinfectants that will aerosolize onto the belts and help keep the microbial numbers low. Another thing to think about is how often people who jump in a cab use the seat belt versus those who are in ride sharing. I’ve been in some cars where even in the back seat the seat belt is required. This could lead to a huge difference in the usage, which will reflect the germ levels.”
This is NOT my car!

So what he's saying is, that orange car from Rabid Cab is cleaner than the beater the guy around the corner drives for Uber. Makes sense.

Mr Tetro says the mnemonic device EWW will help you remember how to clean your seatbelts at home:

Extend: Pull the seat belt out all the way.
Wash: Scrub that belt with cleaner and disinfectant thoroughly.
Wipe: Wipe the fluids off with a towel to make sure the belt is all cleaned up.

I expect all of us to do this by the end of today. (Pause for laughter.)

Monday, August 19, 2019

Put your pencils down!

Just back from vacation, so I'll ease back into it with a little quiz. Please pass your papers forward when you're finished.

1. Do you like blue cheese?  I love it and it's always a surprise to find that many do not! It's my favorite salad dressing.
2. Coke or Pepsi?  Coke back in the day, but I have not had soda since 2005. Seltzer, please!
3. Do you own a gun? My great-great-grandfather's Civil War pistol. No bullets. And I'm afraid to find out what side he fought for.
4. What flavor of Kool-Aid? They still make Kool-Aid? I'll pass.
5. Hot dogs? Yes. Used to get Esskay Orioles franks but they stopped making them. So we switched to Nathan's and they are better than Esskay ever was!
6. Favorite TV show? For comedy: The Andy Griffith Show   For Drama: Law and Order (the one with Jerry Orbach as Lennie Briscoe). For news and commentary: Keith Olbermann.
7. Do you believe in ghosts? Absolutely not. Balderdash, I say.
8. What do you drink in the morning? Hot tea and seltzer.
9. Can you do a push-up?  Yes.
10.Favorite jewelry? My wedding ring and my watch. Wouldn't go around without either.
11.My favorite Hobby? Writing my blog and collecting music
12. Do you have ADHD? Quite likely.
13. Do you wear glasses? I only need them for reading now, but it's easier to wear glasses all the time rather than run around looking for those halfies.
14. Favorite cartoon character? Top Cat >>>>>
15. Three things you did today? Laundry (twice), read, watched the Orioles
16. Drinks you drink all the time?  Iced Tea, Hot Tea and Seltzer
17. Current worries? ???
18. Do you believe in magic? As performed by stage "magicians," no. It's just sleight of hand. But what angels can do, yes!
19. Favorite place to be? At home with Peggy and the cats.
20. How did you bring in the New Year? Same as always - early dinner out and back home before the drunks come out. Watched the ball drop. Woke up and went to bed.
21. Where would you like to visit? Baseball Hall of Fame, Graceland, Grand Ole Opry.
22. Name four people that will most likely play this? ??
23. Favorite movie? Animal House, Caddyshack or Stripes.
24. Favorite color? Brown
25. Do you like sleeping on satin sheets? Never tried them.
26. Can you whistle? Yes but I cannot figure out how to fingerwhistle :(
27. Where are you now? In my den.
28. Where would you want to be right now? I always only want to be exactly where I am.
29. Favorite food? Roast beef
30. What’s in your pocket? Nothing!
31. Last thing that made you laugh?  Howard Wolowitz
32. Favorite animal? Take a wild guess!
33. Name a weird item you’ve just purchased. A cup holder for my Yeti that is also a three-way flashlight.
34. How many TV’s are in your house? 4
35. Worst pain ever? Waking up from knee replacement surgery
36. Do you like to dance?  No way
37. Favorite number? 8
38. Do you enjoy camping? Who am I, Daniel Boone?

Feel free to copy, paste, and post!