Saturday, January 31, 2015

The Saturday Picture Show, January 31, 2015

Just to be safe, I try to have at least two Leatherman tools on me at any given time. Here's their new device - a Leatherman bracelet, filled with screwdrivers and hex wrenches.
I don't fly, haven't been on a plane for years, but I would have guessed that they dim the lights so you don't get too good a look at the person behind you who just snored the whole way home from Ho-Ho-Kus.
This, of course, is Noctiluca scintillans, bioluminescent plankton on a stretch of coastline near Hong Kong.  The picture was taken by photographer Kin Cheung.  I don't like to see the water lighted up like that, but at least it's a non-parasitic dinoflaggelate.  Right?
This is a frozen soap bubble.  Some people have all the time in the world!
These are the people on the observation decks at 30 Rockefeller Plaza in New York, home of NBC and all that.
With most of the air being let out of the football season already, and the last gasp of Patriot-ism coming tomorrow, I say, let's get ready for Oriole baseball!
Not sure exactly where this picture was taken, but that's the point...this is happening in several cities this cold winter.  People are knitting scarves for people in need, and donating them by leaving them in public parks.
Here's the inside of a former New York subway car, which, along with 713 others just like it, 86 retired tanks and armored personnel carriers, eight tugboats and barges, and 3,000 tons of ballasted truck tires were sunk in 2001 just 16 miles off Slaughter Beach, Delaware to form an artificial reef for the Maryland Reef Initiative.  This was all done to bolster the marine ecology and provide a haven for fish like the one you see here.

Friday, January 30, 2015

What's in a name?

Inveterate coupon-clipper that I am, I go through the cents-off pages in the Sunday paper like a squirrel in an oak forest.  And I notice a lot of things about the way big companies try to sell us stuff.

Here's a way of selling some hair stuff - shampoo or conditioner, I guess.  Say that it's "infused" with "buriti oil."  First of all, "infused" is now the word we see any time something is added to something else.  You take a poor old skinless chicken breast and inject some cajun flavoring in it prior to tossing it onto a hot grill, and presto! you just INFUSED that chicken with authentic Louisiana taste.

Now, for all I know, you'd be just as well off to add cajun sauce to your hair as you would be for adding buriti oil.  Or, add some lime to some coconut and call me in the mo-o-o-o-orning!

And I have nothing against buriti oil, which I found out comes from a palm fruit.  Why, no less an authoritative source than FOXX News reports that buriti oil is "An Amazonian beauty secret!"  So take that for what it's worth. And the woman in the ad certainly has lovely hair, so it must work!

My point is that there is a certain tactic in advertising and product promotion that involves confusing us with terms that we don't know. "Certs must combat bad breath, because they contain retsyn," we figure, as if retsyn were some magical substance that grows naturally on gauzy shrubbery in a fairyland garden.  But according to the Certs people, it is actually “a combination of partially hydrogenated cottonseed oil, copper gluconate and flavoring.”  MMMM.  Just the thing we all want to ingest.

Colgate toothpaste with Gardol?  Gardol is sodium lauroyl sarcosinate, just the thing you feel like brushing the old choppers with, huh?

Advertisers and manufacturers know that putting the best face on things is what sells things to us.  Even if it helps them to make us feel confused or out of the loop, just hearing that finally, our lackluster tresses will be chic and lustrous as soon as we add some buriti oil atop the melon is enough to send us running to the Try 'N' Save for a jug of this magic elixir, with our coupon in hand.

Squid (bait)
I want to open a combination bait shop and seafood carryout stand.  "Cap'n Mark's" will have squid for sale on one side and then offer calamari on the other.  And it's the same thing!

Calamari (appetizer)

Thursday, January 29, 2015

Who's in YOUR wallet?

To our many global readers, and it must be hard to read this on a globe...there are some very honest people out there, all over! Especially Helsinki, Finland, where 11 of 12 "lost" wallets were returned in an experiment performed by Reader's Digest magazine.

What they did was, they dropped 192 wallets in 19 cities around the world.  In each wallet, they left a name, cellphone number, family photo, coupons, and business cards, and $50 worth of the local currency.  

19 cities, 12 wallets each.  They "lost" the billfolds close to parks, shopping areas and city sidewalks, and waited to get them back.

And here's how that worked out:

1. Helsinki, Finland (Wallets returned: 11 out of 12)

2. Mumbai, India (Wallets returned: 9 out of 12)

3. (TIE) Budapest, Hungary (Wallets returned: 8 out of 12)

3. (TIE) New York City, U.S.A. (Wallets returned: 8 out of 12)

4. (TIE) Moscow, Russia (Wallets returned: 7 out of 12)

4. (TIE) Amsterdam, the Netherlands (Wallets returned: 7 out of 12)

5. (TIE) Berlin, Germany (Wallets returned: 6 out of 12)

5. (TIE) Ljubljana, Slovenia (Wallets returned: 6 out of 12)

6. (TIE) London, England (Wallets returned: 5 out of 12)

6. (TIE) Warsaw, Poland (Wallets returned: 5 out of 12)

7. (TIE) Bucharest, Romania (Wallets returned: 4 out of 12)

7. (TIE) Rio de Janeiro, Brazil (Wallets returned: 4 out of 12)

7. (TIE) Zurich, Switzerland (Wallets returned: 4 out of 12)

8. Prague, Czech Republic (Wallets returned: 3 out of 12)

9. Madrid, Spain (Wallets returned: 2 out of 12)

10. Lisbon, Portugal (Wallets returned:1 out of 12)

So out of 192 wallets, 90 were returned. Humankind has a batting average of .470 in the World Series of Honesty.

Now, that's kind of low, even if you figure that one or two wallets

Wednesday, January 28, 2015

It's just Goofy to act like you live on Pluto

Some facts to mull over:

 - - Measles was once thought to be an eradicated disease in the United States, but now it's back, and kids are being diagnosed with it all over the nation.

 - - Disneyland and Disney World are places that people like to see, mainly with children.

 - - For reasons that seem to have to do with people believing they know more than people who have been to medical school, many people are not having their children receive the measles vaccine anymore.

  - - Of late, there have been 68 cases of measles in California, home of Disneyland. 48 of them are connected to having been in Disneyland, and there are, at last count, 17 more cases as far away as Nebraska.

We've talked before here about this anti-vax movement, and it's a concern.  We find ourselves getting lessons on physics from Bill Belichick, and medical advice from Jenny McCarthy, and no one even questions the wisdom of either.  Why should we?  They're on television, aren't they?

The two-step vaccination process used in America involves immunization at one year and then again between the ages of 4 and 5, which gives just about 100% immunity from measles, with life-threatening adverse reactions occurring in less than one per million vaccinations (<0.0001%).  That's what doctors say, and common folklore and gossip cannot negate these facts.
Child with measles

Seek her wisdom
If your children are adequately protected from those not so, you can feel safe to visit theme parks and the like.  The shame is that people unable to be vaccinated (younger than 12 months, having compromised immune systems, pregnant women) come in contact with unvaccinated people from communities in which the current trend is to avoid having the kids immunized, based on false reports put out by a discredited English doctor and Donnie Wahlberg's current wife.

Everybody knows more than everybody else, or so they think.

Tuesday, January 27, 2015

Bill me? Sue you!

Alex's father Derek says he is "lost for words"

I didn't think that people in England, where manners and grace are much more kindly observed than over here in a country where oafs like Donald Trump set the pace, would be this way, but here you are reading about Derek Nash, from Torpoint, Cornwall, on the banks of the river Tamar, and how he got a bill for £15.95, which is almost a zillion in American bucks.

Derek is five years of age, so you have to figure, he didn't run up a bill for that much at the fish-and-chips shop or any other English attraction.  No, what happened was, his parents accepted an invitation for him to the Plymouth Ski Slope and Snowboard Centre last month for another little kid's birthday. But then, in one of those merry mixups that happen in every family since the Flintstones, the Nashes remembered that they had already planned to spend that day with their children's grandparents.

Details get murky here; the Nashes say they had no contact information to contact the family holding the party and that family says they did. So when Derek was not at the party, the others wrote out an invoice for the money they're out, and had a teacher put the bill in the boy's schoolbag. Derek's father thought the whole thing was a joke at first, but then when the other family started talking about dragging him into small claims court, he stopped laughing.

The other family has had no comment.

But of course, I have one. And it's this: I am sorry to see that what probably began as an American idiocy seems to be going global, this business of dragging the courts into petty matters once solved by neighbors talking things over down by the mailbox. It's a shame that we've become like that.

If you really have time and inclination to bill the parents of your kid's school chums for a party a kid missed, you are a true tightwad, and a rather shoddy person. And if you wish to dispute this in court, call my attorney, as soon as he's finished getting Bernie Madoff into work release.

Monday, January 26, 2015

What did the weather person say?

Embedded image permalinkDo you see where the bottom edge of the area where 5-8" of snow are expected today and tomorrow meets that dark turquoise 3-5" area? That line runs right about through our house, so I hope the deeper snow is in the back yard and not out front.

Because of something called bombogenesis, which sounds like the name of a rookie second baseman for the Minnesota Twins, this snowstorm that's coming the way of the American Northeast might just turn out to be a real doozy.

It seems we get to learn a new weather term every time we get some new weather. Late one hot June night a few years back, a thunder and lightning storm right outta hell did tremendous damage in the Baltimore area. We had been told that the possibility of having strong thunderstorms that night was high, but what we got was a thousand times worse than we thought. And the next morning, the weather people were on TV saying, in that reassuring manner, "Oh, but you see, this wasn't a horrible was a DERECHO!"

Here is the definition of bombogenesis:  A central pressure drop of at least 24 millibars in 24 hours which often creates increased wind speeds, precipitation, heavy snowfall and potential blizzard conditions.

This "weather event" we're about to enjoy is named Winter Storm Juno. By the time it's over on Wednesday morning, parts of seven states in the northeast could see more than 2 feet of snow.

From New Jersey to Maine, this affects 28 million people, almost all of whom will be running to Home Depot for snow shovels, rock salt, and snowblowers.  11 million more people are under winter storm warnings, people like us here in Baltimore, and we're all at the grocery store now in search of milk, bread, and toilet paper.

And even brainy people who know words like bombogenesis and derecho don't know why we need all that toilet paper!

Sunday, January 25, 2015

Sunday Rerun: Casey in the sunshine, banned

I sympathize with all those who are so torn up over the Casey Anthony verdict. Upon her release into the pre-dawn darkness of Sunday morning, old Casey vaulted right over everyone else to take the lead in the Most Hated Person in America poll by the time the sun began to shine. 

Did you see that she left the hoosegow with $538.67 in cash - money sent to her by supporters, admirers, as it were?  It was like in the oldtime movies when a guy got let out of the Ironbar Hilton, and they gave him five bucks and a new double-breasted suit.  And when the guy was played by Victor Mature, the suit fit him immaculately.  It never failed; a suit right off the rack looked to be bespoke. 

Casey at the Tat
Casey paraded out of the big house wearing a baggy sort of fuchsia top, blue jeans, and a very apprehensive look.  We can't blame her for that.  Best advice I can offer her would be to leave the country, dye her hair, gain twenty lbs., and move to somewhere where her tattoo would fit in. Italy comes to mind, since her tat says "Bella Vita."  I think that if she seeks the beautiful life the ink on her back calls for, she won't find it if she is around people who still suspect her of being guilty of killing her own child.  

Just as in the Simpson case and many other high-profile felony trials, the jury has spoken here.  I'm sure that if you took a poll, most Americans figure Casey did it, but most Americans were not on the jury.  Only twelve were, and they were not given enough evidence by the smiling, laughing, prosecution team, who bungled the case six ways from Sunday, as Monday morning quarterbacks are wont to say.

As late as Sunday evening, the news was still showing a mob eddying about the Orange County (FL) Courthouse.  One woman said that she and her family had done the Disney thing all week and now wanted to stop by and see the other tourist attraction, that being the very sidewalk where Casey took her first free steps in three years.  Another woman said she couldn't "concept (sic) of someone doing what she did to her child."  Inconceivable, yet true.  

I know that many are flailing about, trying to make sense of what happened to Caylee Anthony, what happened in the trial, and what to do about it all.  Well, I don't think we are ever going to know what happened to the child.  Knowing that she is gone is sad enough.  What happened in the trial will be talked about in law school, and by whoever is so unlucky as to dine with Nancy Grace, for the next few decades.

I have an idea.  It's simple, as are most of my ideas.  Since there's not a thing we can do about what happened, let's work on what's going to happen. How about if everyone who has energy and drive enough to hang around the courthouse hollering at Casey would drive to an orphanage or homeless shelter or some place similar and volunteer to help out?  How about, if you're an experienced Mom, in honor of Caylee, you help out a young Mom in your neighborhood by sharing some of that experience?  Caylee is gone, and Casey's in the wind, but there are plenty of other little kids around who need help, and hollering outside a courthouse is helpful to no one, even if it does feel like it is.

Saturday, January 24, 2015

The Saturday Picture Show, January 24, 2015

This is the cover of "Man's Life" magazine from September, 1956, smack-dab in the middle of the golden era, such as it was, of what they called Men's magazines, not the kind with nudey pictures, but the kind that either featured "men in combat" fantasy stories or "men attacked by crazed marauding animals" fantasy stories. Of course, you have never met anyone whose flesh was ripped by weasels, but this made for good reading for those with no interest in Shakespeare or Shelley.
And then came Frank Zappa, musician and satirist, leader of the Mothers of Invention.  For this 1970 album, he commissioned artist Neon Park to come up with something even more weird than that Man's Life cover.  I believe he did.  Park and the Baltimore-born Zappa were both born in late 1940 and both died in late 1993, but doesn't greatness live forever?
I read that white-feathered chickens with white ear lobes lay white eggs, and red-feathered ones with red ear lobes lay brown eggs. This may be true, for all I know.  I now know the chickens have ear lobes, too.
I took this picture at our favorite Cracker Barrel restaurant because we used to see this little placard all over town while people were painting porches, walls and I don't know what-all else. It was a cue to passersby to see if the paint was, indeed, still wet.
There's a whole art to displaying and presenting food in an attractive setting.  Making tangerines, bananas and kiwi fruit look even more tropical adds a certain something!
This will make a nice computer wallpaper for those who like European scenery!
What a beautiful place to live!
Here's the home of baseball's San Francisco Giants, world champs again last year.  I know two things about San Francisco: it can be hot as blazes in the afternoon and then be parka weather that very evening, and they don't like to have their town called "Frisco." And really, who would?

Friday, January 23, 2015

He sure did show that safe who was boss

I can't tell the taste of one whisky from another, so if you want to tell me that Jack Daniel's is the best one out there, I can't come back with anything.  I'll toss a toothpaste-cap-size drop of hooch into my tea at night sometimes, but I get the cheapest rotgut I can find in the boozeatorium.  And a bottle will last me as long as a ham will last a vegan.

Death Certificate
Jasper Newton "Jack" Daniel died at age 61 in 1911, so there goes the theory about 86 proof corn juice being good for longevity. But how did he die?  Folklore has long claimed that the distiller always had trouble remembering the combination to his office safe, and one day, he gave the safe a good swift kick.

I'm sure that helped open it right up.

Jack's safe (36L - 17 R - 24 R)
Anyhooch, the story goes on that in so doing, he injured the toe, and the boo-boo got infected, and he got blood poisoning, and met his maker soon thereafter.  More recent biographies dispute this point, but you can see the safe at the Jack Daniel's plant in Lynchburg, TN.

Those of us who enjoyed physical education classes at Towsontown Junior High School will remember being told that we HAD to wear white socks for gym because the son of a president once got a cut foot while engaged in some sport, and was wearing colored socks, and got blood poisoning and died.  Well, now that I am retired and have all the time in the world to look stuff up, I can set the record straight.  The young man in question was Calvin Coolidge, Jr, son of our 30th president, Herbert Hoover*.  He was playing tennis at the White House tennis courts (since removed to make room for Nixon's recording equipment) WITHOUT ANY socks at all, got a blood blister and died from the resulting infection a week later.

This proves, once again, that History is stranger than Physical Education, although, if you don't get a shower after PE, you'll really stink in History.

*There might be a test on this later.

Thursday, January 22, 2015

...And I cannot lie

Ladies and gentlemen, it's time we had a little talk about the need to be a little smarter about your medical treatments.

I didn't think it would ever come to this, but, ladies, please don't allow unauthorized people to inject silicone into your seating area in an effort to make it look more callipygian.

Callipygian?  Is that one of the Kardashian sisters?  

Well, sort of.  It comes from the Greek words kallos, meaning ‘beauty’ and  pūgē  (‘buttocks) so we use it to describe a well-shaped posterior.

That's great, and if nature blessed you with natural callipygiancy, then strut your stuff proudly, as you see fit.  But I have to recommend against having some non-doctor try to make a Kim of you, if nature didn't.

Item:  Six women in New Jersey had someone inject silicone into their keisters.  The women are from Essex County NJ.  Someone up there talked them into this, but, instead of medical-grade silicone, they used the sort of silicone that is used to caulk bathtubs and showers.  They are recovering from the abscesses that the makeshift procedure caused them in the search for a big caboose.

I couldn't find a picture for this story, so here's
one of some lilies in a field.
They are far more fortunate than the woman in the Maryland suburbs who died from having silicone injected into her rump at a hotel in Capitol Heights by a man who is a stranger to graduation from any medical school, as far as is known.

All in the name of having a jumbo bounce house tagging along behind.  People are ill and dying because it's important enough to them to allow a non-doctor to inject plumbing fluids into the one precious body they were given.

And yet we laugh at "backward" people from other parts of the world and their "ridiculous" practices and notions, while some of us make asses of ourselves like this.

Wednesday, January 21, 2015

The President Takes His Lunch

I've never been to this restaurant called Charmington's, but like most everything else in this life, it reminds me of The Simpsons, in whose hometown of Springfield, the expensive department store is Costington's (slogan: "Over a century without a slogan.")

The Simpsons do their shopping at the Try 'N' Save, or the Kwik-E-Mart.

Charmington's is in the area of Baltimore where Charles Village meets Remington. If you're not from Baltimore, you will need to understand one thing about us...we are defined by our high schools and our neighborhoods.  You have to keep up with things, because one minute, a neighborhood is known as "hardscrabble" and "tough working class," and then then next minute, someone opens a coffee bar in a space once occupied by a TV repair shop, and someone else rips the cheesy 70's paneling from the wall in their living room, finds an original brick wall, and runs to the porch to hang a sign indicating that herbal cough drops and smudge sticks are for sale within.  And boom, here come the hipsters! And in another part of town where once dwelled the upwardly mobile and the Buick drivers, "Cash for your gold" shops and laundromats suddenly sprout.  In other words, we change.

So, back to the restaurant, the president of the United States came there for lunch last week, on a day when he came to Baltimore to talk about the need for fair sick leave for all.  At this time of the year with the flu reaching epidemic levels, people are told, "If you're sick, stay home from work," but many people don't get paid sick time, and would have trouble explaining to their children that they don't get to eat next week because Daddy or Mommy was ill last week.

The owners of Charmington's have had a progressive policy about sick leave for employees, so the commander in chief came for lunch, and ordered a roasted beet salad (but he asked them to hold the beets), a turkey-avocado wrap, and a roast beef and cheddar sandwich on white (he took half of that with him.)  He picked up the tab for others at his table, to the tune of $60 in all, and left a $30 tip.

The food was prepared under the watchful eye of a Secret Service person, and those seated in the restaurant were given the opportunity to leave before he arrived if they wanted, but once he arrived, they had to stay until he split.

There were no reports of the Secret Service being involved in either hi-jinx or shenanigans, for once.

Tuesday, January 20, 2015

Shame the devil

Here's a sentence you won't see too often: Pareidolia is a type of apophenia.  

Nixon Eggplant
Those terms refer to the way we fool ourselves, or allow ourselves to be fooled, by the way we perceive things.  Have you ever been in the shower and you're just SURE the phone is ringing, so you hop out of the shower, skid across the tile while leaving a watery wake like a tugboat, and, wrapping yourself in a towel, grab the phone and holler "Hello!" to a dialtone? The phone wasn't ringing at all; it hasn't rung since the day before yesterday when Aunt Mildred called to thank you for the peppermint patties you sent from Ft. Lauderdale. Certain sounds and sights can fool us. People often see the face of Jesus or Nixon on things, and you have to figure, the name of the pooch in that photo top left is "Muffin."

All of this is fun; we all enjoy seeing a cloud that looks like Bill Belichick, but you can take it too far.  And by "you," I mean Robyn Wilkins, a resident of Cordova, Tennessee with too much time and too little to do.  She is a proudly Christian mom, and worried that the occult is taking over her town.  Why, they've even got red tail lights on school buses that look like pentagrams!   And, for crying out loud, a pentagram just like those brake lights, except that it's upside down, with two points up, inside a double circle with a picture of the head of a goat inside is the logo of the Church of Satan!

And Adolf Hitler...wore a shirt!  Just like some other people all men wearing shirts are evil too!

Memphis’ Action News 5 says Ms Wilkins took a picture of the tail lights, and lookie here! The lights form a five-pointed star! 

Pentagrams are a sacred in some faiths. Some people turn the five-pointed star upside down and ascribe evil powers to it, but to me, I see a sheriff's star, a symbol of law enforcement, where Ms Wilkins see whatever in Hell she's talking about.

“Anyone who fears a God, if not God and Jesus Christ, should be outraged,” the worried mother told the TV news.

My free advice for Ms Wilkins and her worried friends would be to read up on pentagrams, Pentatonix, pentameters, and pentathlons.

And for heaven's sake, don't fly over the Pentagon!


Monday, January 19, 2015


Not too long ago, they tore down the last remnants of my old junior high school. Towsontown Junior High existed for over 50 years, and it was turned into the George Washington Carver Center for Arts and Technology, a fine magnet school for the central section of Baltimore County.  High school students there prepare for work or advanced studies in one of ten fields.

The school originally opened in the building used by the old junior high, a building which itself was made partly of the old Carver High School, a racially-segregated institution back in the days when society found it necessary to have black students attend one school and whites, another. There was also a newer southern wing.  All sections of the old building have now been replaced with modern facilities.

There's also a building in East Towson which was the elementary school for the area's African-American children back in the day. Prior to the landmark case of Brown v. Board of Education of Topeka, (1954), the law allowed for this foolishness.

I bring this up to remind one and all that if not for civil rights pioneers such as the Brown family, the participants in the famous marches in Selma and other places, the brave students who integrated Little Rock Central High School and had to be escorted to class by the National Guard, and those whose lives were lost in the battle to have us all regarded as equal in the eyes of men and women all across the nation, we would not have emerged from those sad, low times.

The holiday today celebrates the birth of the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, whose nonviolent approach of civil disobedience helped us make what progress we've had.

It would be good for all of us to spend some time thinking of how far we have come, and how far we have yet to travel on this journey to equality.

"We may have all come on different ships, but we’re in the same boat now."    Dr. King

Sunday, January 18, 2015

Sunday Rerun: Watch your English

More for the driving rhythm and early-punk music than for the lyrics, I have always liked the Sex Pistols' song "God Save The Queen."  My many English and Anglophile friends will forgive me; I promise you it's the music and not the disloyal-to-the-royals theme of the song that so enchants me.  I wish all connected to the House of Windsor the best of health and happiness.  I just need jumpy music to drive to.

Now, if you clicked on the link and heard the song, which dates back to 1977, you might have had some trouble discerning the lyrics, as growled by lead singer Johnny Rotten.  One verse has always interested me, as a lover of the English language:

When there's no future
How can there be sin
We're the flowers in the dustbin
We're the poison in your human machine
We're the future, your future
We call it "Public Housing," while the
English say "Council Estates."
For all of us who love metaphors, how can you top the lament of a disconnected generation, feeling that they are flowers tossed into a dustbin?  Especially knowing that dustbin is what the British call a trashcan.  And it sounds so much nicer!  "Could you hand me that dustbin, please!" is so much more genteel than "Gimme dat trashcan, wouldja?"

I think that with few exceptions (in America, à la mode means you get ice cream atop your pie, and in England, it means "fashionable"), English English sounds so much nicer and better-bred.  We have news "anchors," which sound like they are dragging everything all to Helena Handbasket, while the British have "presenters."  How nice!  They present you the news!

In England, "graft" means hard work; in America, it means payoffs and political corruption (SEE:  AGNEW, Spiro T.)

An English hooker is the person in the middle of a rugby play. An American hooker will play rugby with you, all right, but it costs a lot extra.

The first floor in England's buildings would be what we call the second floor, which makes a big difference if you need to jump.

Across the pond, a bureau is a writing table, where people sit down and compose lovely letters to each other ("My dearest Wilberforce...") and over here, it's where we keep our underwear, including the boxer shorts with the big rip in the seat that we just can't bear to throw in the ...dustbin!

Saturday, January 17, 2015

The Saturday Picture Show, January 17, 2015

 How cool would it be to take a train trip out West in the snow?
This is Roger Fenton from England, a pioneer in photography, and the first war photographer. He's seen here in 1855, when he took more than 300 pictures of action in the Crimean War.
If you want me to be cosy and comfortable, don't expect me to wear wool underwear.  I'm sheepish about itchy woolies.
I can't even say anything much about this idea for dessert at a funeral wake, except that I wonder if anyone pointed out that the "guest of honor" looked a lot like Vladimir Lenin.  And, I guess they had snacks, sides, appetizers and an entree, so figuring what to have for dessert was a piece of cake.
This would be my luck if I ever went to another football game - to have a seat right next to someone who insists on being a character.
If you really want me to be sociable, hand me one of those beers over here, would you please?
The guy down the street from our old house had been driving his pickup in Alabama when he came upon an accident.  A guy had run off the road and knocked down a pecan tree. Our neighbor filled his truck with pecan limbs, and the next winter, every night he had a fire in his fireplace, the whole neighborhood smelled like pecan pie.  I immediately started driving around looking for someone who had run into a cow.
There are dozens of types of barbed wire to keep people and livestock on one side of a fence or the other.  It works better than signs.

Friday, January 16, 2015

Canned laughter

I guess you can't get much more downhome than the town of Valley, Alabama, where the middle school students at W.F. Burns Middle School are preparing for schoolhouse intruders by stockpiling cans of beans and fruit cocktail.

No, they don't plan to serve hominy and stewed tomatoes to anyone who invades the building.  The school principal, Ms Priscella (correct spelling) Holley, recently sent home a letter to parents and guardians, asking that they send little Beauregard and Leila back to school with an 8-oz. can of something canned to "stun the intruder or even knock him out until the police arrive." 

She goes on to say, "The canned food item will give the students a sense of empowerment to protect themselves and will make them feel secure in case an intruder enters their classroom."

Empowerment. That's what we are told to try to attain in life.  It's all part of self-actualization and nirvana, and if you think that arming young Paul and Paula with canned fava beans will make them safe against armed intruders, rather than doing something about armed intruders, then by all means, knock yourself (or someone) out!

But when the kids start beaning each other with bean cans, you'll wish you had used your noodle a bit more.

Thursday, January 15, 2015

He heard voices

Hardly two weeks into 2015, and it's already a pretty lousy year for John Boehner, the affable orange man who is the Speaker of the House of Representatives, although he was just barely reelected by his fellows in Congress.

What is it we always say about sending stuff back, or complaining about the service at the country club?

I think it was something like "Don't do it."

Always look for this
on your drink
The story coming out of Washington and West Chester, Ohio, is that the guy who used to sling Boehner's booze at the Wetherington Golf & Country Club in that Cincinnati suburb was planning to add a little somethin' fatal to his drink...or kill the speaker in some other way.

Michael Hoyt, 44, is the barkeep in question here, and he was hearing voices that told him Boehner was evil. And the devil. He deduced that Boehner was behind the Ebola outbreak.

Worst of all, and probably most believable of all, he thought the speaker was mean to him.

Hoyt has been indicted on charges that he planned to murder Boehner, a really dumb plan that he came up with after the country club tied a can to him.

And how the police came to find about his master criminal stroke is the stuff we used to see on "Law And Order," the good one, with Lenny and that gang.  Hoyt called the police himself last October and "Told the officer he was Jesus Christ and he was going to kill Boehner because Boehner was mean to him at the country club and because Boehner is responsible for Ebola," United States Capitol Police Special Agent Christopher Desrosiers reported. "Hoyt advised he had a loaded Beretta .380 automatic and he was going to shoot Boehner and take off."

Police said Boehner's wife, Debbie, twice received emails from Hoyt, but did not go into detail about the contents of them.  You have to figure they weren't links to Crock Pot Turkey Dinner recipes or birthday greetings.

"If I had any intention of hurting Mr. Boehner, I could have poisoned his wine at Wetherington many, many times," police said Hoyt wrote in an email.

Police said Hoyt told them the speaker was among a group of country club patrons who complained about his service and cost him his job.

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And here's where it gets very twisted: Hoyt figured that if he went to the cops, they would shame Boehner into apologizing and then he would step up and reveal how he made Ebola appear on the face of this earth.

Hoyt is where he should be, in custody, and Mr Boehner, who had nothing to do with Ebola (I'm almost certain of that!) is hoping that he can just make a non-poisonous drink appear on the top of the bar at his version of Bushwood.