Saturday, November 18, 2017

The Saturday Picture Show, November 18, 2017

As a wise person once said, it doesn't cost a thing to be nice. Paying compliments just feels good!
Just outside Baltimore Harbor is the now-abandoned Fort Carroll, which was built before the Civil War and never really saw use in the defense of Baltimore, but now it's a habitat for all sorts of wildlife, and if you search "Fort Carroll" on YouTube, you can see all sorts of drone footage of a fascinating place. 
Years ago, Baltimore was very fond of formstone, a form of stucco that was used to cover up the fronts of brick rowhouses. Imagine having to look at brick, when you could get fake stones that look about as much like quarry stones as a bowl of Trix looks like a bowl of gems. Now, people are moving back into those areas where this practice used to take place, and finding some pretty cool stuff underneath as they remove the formstone.
This is the fun kind of photo - it's called forced perspective, and you've seen it when your friends send you pictures from Pisa, Italy that make it appear that they are holding up a certain leaning tower.
I don't even know if this is for the real or a clever fake. Either way, it's an interesting illusion.
If you have a metal cabinet somewhere near where you want your keys to hang around, you need this!
Yes, it's a real patch from a real fire department in Turtle, Wisconsin.
Before America settled on Prohibition to rid itself of the alcohol problem, the "dry" forces (those who supported banning alcohol drinks) used advertisements like this to make their point. Don't have a beer, or your child will get rickets. 

Friday, November 17, 2017

The real scoop

They make so much money up in Vermont, these Ben & Jerry Ice Cream people, that they maintain on their property a fake graveyard where they "bury" the ice cream flavors they have tried and seen fail.

Does any ice cream really sound bad to you? Everybody loves it and everybody basically loves vanilla, and then you add some whatevers, and it's all good.  I really like that Haagen-Dazs Vanilla with Brownie Chunks, in case you're starting your Christmas shopping early.

And who remembers that song "Porcupine Pie" by Neil Diamond? It was a nonsense song about food mixtures like vanilla soup, tutti fruit with fruity blue cheese, and chicken ripple ice cream.

And that might be as good as when Burger King came up with Bacon Ice Cream a couple years ago, and the local ice creameries here in Baltimore that are always coming up with Old Bay Ice Cream.  You never know what people are going to like.

But now you can know what they DON'T like in a cup or cone. These are the Ben & Jerry failures...

Image result for schweddy balls ice cream1. Schweddy Balls (2011-2011) This was based on the SNL bit featuring Alec Baldwin in the days pre-DT. This was vanilla ice cream with a bit of rum, plus fudge-covered rum and malt balls.

2. Wavy Gravy (1991-2001) This caramel and cashew and Brazil nut flavor and roasted almonds and chocolate hazelnut fudge swirl treat was named for Hugh Romney, the hippie's hippie from Woodstock. 

3. Turtle Soup (2006-2010) tasted like those gooey turtle candies: vanilla fudge covered ice cream with fudge-covered caramels, cashews, and a caramel swirl.

4. Fossil Fuel (2005-2010) had chocolate cookie pieces and fudge dinosaurs, with a fudge swirl. 

5. Miz Jelena's Sweet Potato Pie (1992-1993) Easy to see whythis one only lasted one year. It was ginger ice cream with a fudge swirl. Notice: no sweet potato. I think I spotted the problem.  

6. White Russian (1986-1996) They say it's still available in their scoop shops. It was a collusion of coffee ice cream and Kahlua. 

7. Tuskegee Chunk (1989-1990) was peanut butter ice cream with chocolate chunks. This violated my law of peanut butter, which is that peanut butter must be Skippy and must not come on contact with chocolate for any reason. Sorry, Reese's.

8. Oh Pear (1997-1997) Maybe the French woman you hired to take care of your kids would have like pear ice cream with some almond and a light fudge swirl.

9. Dastardly Mash (1979-1991) Chocolate ice cream with pecans, almonds, chocolate chips, and raisins sounds like a Chunky candy bar. It didn't last as long as the M*A*S*H TV show, though. 

10. Economic Crunch (1987-1987) crashed the world's ice cream shelves soon after the 1987 stock-market crash. It was vanilla with chocolate covered almonds, pecans, and walnuts.

Make mine vanilla, please! Two scoops.

Thursday, November 16, 2017

Free Weather Info!

Owing to an old football injury (I fell off a barstool watching USC vs Notre Dame) my left knee became for many years an accurate barometer. I could always tell when rain was on the way, just by noticing that it felt like pixies were driving three-inch finishing nails into my kneecap and its surroundings.

So when I had the first of my knee replacement surgeries, I had to bid a sad goodbye to my weather predictor. This was just about the time that home computers were really getting big, so at least I could go to one of the 457 weather sites online (or call 410-936-1212 - remember the C&P Telephone Company Weather Line? Remember the C&P Telephone Company?)

Now a funny thing is happening with the second of my metal left knees.  This one works fine, it's 4 years old, but it hurts again when it's fixin' to rain outside.

And that's the only place it ever rains.

Actually, I have had a pretty good set of weather indicators over the years. I have this wall-mounted weather station to tell me the
barometric pressure and indoor conditions, as well as the outdoor thermometer that gives me the temperature and the humidity inside and out, not to mention the exact-to-the-second time from the government time signal.  So I've got that going for me, too.

When my hair was long and flowing, it would tell me if the winds were strong and also if the humidity was high, because then it would get all wavy. (And now some of it has waved goodbye).

I can tell you if it's cold when my feet tell me to change from cotton socks to wool.

I can tell when the UV index is high when I get sunburned, and when I can't see for all the fog outside, I know the visibility is poor.

The only thing my ears and eyes and mind and feet can't tell me is what the dew point is, but I don't even know what that is, so never mind.

Wednesday, November 15, 2017

What Really Matters

By the time you read this, the Houston Astros may be the winners of the 2017 World Series.  Or it might have been the Dodgers, and a year from now it won't matter anyway, because there's a World Series every fall, and it almost always turns out that a new team wins, and there you go.

And it's not likely that the Houston Texans of the NFL will win the Super Bowl for this football season, especially now that the owner made a dumb remark that would seem to compare football players to prison inmates.  

The point is, football games and baseball games are played, and some people win and some people lose, and Good Time Charlie's got the blues.

I happen to belong to a secret cult of people who are fans of the University of Alabama football team, an interest that I often display by parading around in 'Bama hats and hoodies and shirts.  I was, therefore, stunned and downcast this past January when Alabama lost to Clemson in the national title game. A win would have given Alabama the championship 5 times in the last 7 years. 'Bama leads all American colleges in sending players to the National Football League, and all that didn't matter when Clemson's great quarterback led his team to a win.

What does matter is that that quarterback, Deshaun Watson, who went on to play for the Texans, chose to donate his paycheck from his first professional game to three women who work in the cafeteria at the stadium where the Texans play. The women had suffered loss of property and income from Hurricane Harvey.

Watson is making a base salary of $465,000 this year, and cut a check for the women to the tune of $27,353.

It turns out that as a young man, Deshaun Watson and his family were helped out by Habitat for Humanity, and that's where he learned the value of charity.

"For what you all do for us every day and never complain, I really appreciate you all, so I wanted to give my first game check to y'all to help y'all out in some type of way," Watson told the woman in a video shared by the Texans. "Here you guys go."

"Hopefully, that's good and that can get you back on your feet. And anything else y'all need, I'm always here to help," he added.

Watson will win games and lose games and, we presume, make a good amount of money in his professional career, and while it's foolish to suggest that young people look to athletes as role models, he is already proving to be an exception to that.  

Tuesday, November 14, 2017

The circle is large

The name Konrad Reuland will not be known to visitors of the Pro Football Hall of Fame.  And I think it should be.  

It's an interesting story, his. He was a tight end who made it to the pros but briefly. Reuland was on the Ravens in 2015; he got into  four games, started one. Before landing in Baltimore, he was a New York Jet for two years (2012 and 2013), with 12 receptions for 90 yards and no touchdowns.

And then, as 2016 drew to a close, so did the life of Konrad Reuland. He passed away last December from a brain aneurysm. 
And not to minimize his football career in college (Stanford) and in the NFL, because only a tiny percentage of those who pull on shoulder pads even make it that far to begin with, but the would-be football hero is more a hero for what happened after he left this world.

He has saved 75 lives through his gift of organ donations. His parents wanted his gifts to live on.

The Ravens had a ceremony recently to honor him, during which his parents were presented with the game ball from their 40-0 win over the Miami Dolphins. Attending along with his folks was baseball Hall of Famer Rod Carew, who is alive today because Konrad's heart and kidney are now his.

Image result for konrad reuland rod carew
Rod Carew with Mrs Reuland
and Konrad's brother
This story in the LA Times tells how Konrad met Carew at a middle school basketball game when Konrad was 15.  He died at 29.

Rod Carew wore #29 on his uniform for 19 major league seasons with Minnesota and the California Angels.

I love how numbers help close the circle.

And what a bittersweet moment for Mary Reuland, Konrad's mom, who was able to meet with Carew and actually hear her late son's heart beating yet in another man's chest.

I love how life keeps us all in a circle.

Monday, November 13, 2017

Elvis spotted at Burger King!

It has become the popular thing to do, when someone sees news they don't care to acknowledge as being true, to deny it altogether.

Peggy has a friend who would, when confronted with developments she did not wish to handle, say, "That can't be part of my reality!"

Ah. But it can be, and it was, and "that's all she wrote," as they used to say.

A certain fairly prominent politician (I won't mention his name out of concerns for his well-being) is either clever enough, or has people around him clever enough, to have come up with the mantra "FAKE NEWS!" when he really means "NEWS I DON'T LIKE!" 

And buttressed (emphasis on the first four letters) by his example, his acolytes are all over social media screaming that things are fake. The other night, when a departing Twitter employee made his last action, before donning his hat and coat and walking out the door, the shutting down of the presidential tweetstorm, Twitter tweeted that the account had been shut down by human error, before finding that, indeed, mischief had been afoot.

Related imageWell, sir, here came the Cult 45'ers, not having seen the update, screaming that this was fake news!  Which it was not. Fake news is saying the Dodgers won the World Series this year, that the Civil War was fought over naming rights to Fort Sumter, or saying that "the word, one of the greatest of all terms I've come up with, is 'fake' " when you want to claim that you yourself made up the word "fake". 

We've all heard the preposterous stories that people use to wriggle out of jams, and the question, "Who are you gonna believe, me or your lying eyes?" It really does come down to one's willingness to believe certain people in the face of all facts, and that's to be expected from us humans.

But, it's better to say, "We have to change this situation to make it better" when the flood in the basement is halfway up the cellar steps than it is to deny that there's water down there. 

Sunday, November 12, 2017

Sunday Rerun (from August 2016): "For all sad words of tongue and pen, The saddest are these, 'It might have been'." - John Greenleaf Whittier

Thinking about the lives lost in the flooding here in Maryland and the balloon crash in Texas, I got to thinking about others who went home too soon.  Hank Williams comes to mind, and Buddy Holly as well.  What else would they have brought to our music, had their lives not been cut short?  
Image result for bobby fuller

And thinking of Buddy Holly makes me think of Bobby Fuller, another Texan who brought a little Lone Star State to the 60s garage rock sound. (Before record production became so dependent on studio electronic tricks, groups rehearsed and recorded out back in the garage, and that's where that raw sound comes from.) Bobby came out of El Paso and got to Los Angeles and a deal with Del-Fi Records on the strength of his cover of "I Fought The Law (And The Law Won.)"*

Fuller's career in the national spotlight was just taking off in 1966. "I Fought The Law" was a top-10 record after its release in February, and the follow up "Love's Made A Fool Of You"** came out in May.  

But on July 18, 1966, Bobby was found dead in his car outside his apartment in Los Angeles.  There was an 1/3-full gasoline can and a gas-soaked rag in the car, and his death was attributed to hemorrhaging caused by the gas vapors and the July heat, and by the inhalation of the vapors. The police report has checks next to "accidental" and "suicide," but also question marks written next to both. 

 The investigation is thought by many to have been sloppy and rushed, possibly because the chief of the LAPD, William Parker, had died suddenly two days before and the department was focused on his funeral arrangements and replacing him. 

Cause-of-death theories floated included possible Manson Family involvement, suicide (Fuller was said to be concerned about the direction of his career) and a mob hit. 

We may never know who killed Bobby Fuller, and we certainly can only speculate about what sort of music he might have made, but listen to those two hits of his! Spectacular pop, basic rock, the sound that bands still want.  Bobby had it and we can listen to what he recorded as we wonder what else he might have recorded.
*This gets complicated.  Buddy Holly, in his time, released records as "Buddy Holly" and as "The Crickets," although they were the same people.  After Buddy died in that plane crash in 1959, Sonny Curtis joined The Crickets as songwriter and guitarist (but not singer) in Buddy's place, and Sonny wrote "IFTL(ATLW)".  

**Buddy Holly and writing partner Bob Montgomery wrote this in 1954.  It's thought of as a "Buddy Holly song," but Buddy did not sing on The Crickets' version, which came out after the crash.

Saturday, November 11, 2017

The Saturday Picture Show, November 11, 2017

The English have an expression about hauling coals to Newcastle being futile, since Newcastle is where there is already a lot of coal to begin with. In the same vein, unless these chickens are voluntarily offering to be boxed up soon, best for them to avoid the Colonel.
While you try in vain to figure out how to save a photo or block unwanted calls, the people at Apple and Google are waging an emoji war, testing whether it's better to put the slice of cheese over or under the patty in a cheeseburger. I'm Androidian all the way, but Apple has it right.
The delicious dish of shredded, pickled cabbage that we call sauerkraut is on almost every table around Baltimore at Thanksgiving time, and nowhere else in the country. This is owing to our region's early German settlers, and all I can say is, "Danke schoen!"
"Honey, I TOLD you the house was bursting at the seams!"
When baking a frozen pizza, you want something nice and hot and drippy and gooey. But you want that to be the cheese, not the plastic cutting board that someone mistook for a pizza stone. You can bet someone will have a meltdown when they see this.
 If you have enough time, you can grow your own fence!

This is a sad one, showing President John F. Kennedy receiving the traditional delivery of a turkey for Thanksgiving...on November 19, 1963.
Out in Casey, Illinois, they don't have a mayor or a city council.  Just the chairperson.

Friday, November 10, 2017

This is not...

There's an old adage, often attributed to either Maya Angelou or Joe Torre, that says, "You did what you did then because that was all you knew."

Image result for joe torre
If you've had time lately to watch the morning news shows, there has been a veritable cornucopia spilling out of people accusing other people of sexual harassment, sexual improprieties or just downright other forms of disgusting misbehavior.

It involves mainly people from spotlight professions such as show business and news broadcasting and publishing, which is not to say that aberrance does not take place in grocery stores, insurance offices, and muffler shops all across the nation, because it does, to our national shame. I don't know if it's being in a position of power that adds an aphrodisiac quality to putting the mash on some other person, but it just needs to stop!

And the accusations are met with a combination of the following replies:

  • "I absolutely swear on all that is good and holy that I did not do this, never thought of doing this, and would not have anyway."
  • "I might have done this but I was too (CHOOSE ALL THAT APPLY:) drunk, depressed, drugged up, young, impotent, neurotic to remember it, if it even ever happened." 
  • "I am sorry. This is not who I am."

That last one - the "this is not who I am" defense - try that in case you're on trial for bank robbery, DWI, or nepotism.  

"This is not who I am" is another cop-out, a way to say, "Maybe I did this, but my heart wasn't in it." Maybe you don't like the way you acted, but it was you who acted that way, so it's sort of hard to say it wasn't.

I don't want to hear that anymore, but I'm sure I will. If you do bad things, or used to, it's time to atone and take the responsibility for past or current misdeeds. If you're sorry, say so, but don't claim not to be the person who did it! 

I like existentialism, the philosophy that tells us that we are each responsible for our own actions and deeds. We have all sinned, all fallen short of God's expectations that we do good things. Forgiveness is available, but receiving it begins with owning the sin. And then, we can say, "That is who I am. I did wrong and I accept the punishment and vow to improve."

Sorry for getting all philosophical. More bad jokes and jejune political jabs tomorrow, I promise.  That's also who I am.

Thursday, November 9, 2017

Sobering Advice

Alcohol has been popular in Maryland since the first colonists brewed their humble mead, wine, hard cider and corn likker. Used in proper moderation, it's an enjoyable aspect of many lives. 

But far too many people load up a snootful and then get behind the wheel of a car, and far too many of them are politicians, the very people who appear at public functions urging the rest of us to Just Say No and Call A Designated Driver.

Image result for alan mccarthy cecil countyThe latest example is the County Executive of Cecil County, Alan J. McCarthy, who was recently arrested and charged with drunken driving and other traffic offenses after a police stopped him on Rt. 213 south of Elkton. That's the road named Augustine Herman Highway, and the CE was down there near the Crab Shack when he was pulled over for "weaving back and forth across the center and side lines," as the police report tells it.

Trooper Kyle Eby of the North East Barrack made the arrest, after which the pixilated politician was taken back to the barrack for processing and issuance of citations charging him with driving under the influence of alcohol, failure to obey properly placed traffic control device instructions, failure to drive a vehicle on the right half of a roadway when required, and negligent driving of a vehicle in a careless and imprudent manner endangering property, life and person, police said, adding that the charges also include driving a vehicle while impaired by alcohol, and reckless driving of a vehicle in wanton and willful disregard for safety of persons and property.

McCarthy signed his citations and was released to a sober driver.

The county administration was notified of the head man's arrest, and Dr McCarthy (he is an equine veterinarian) went right back to work, even appearing at a Drug Take Back Day at Elkton High School two days after his unfortunate evening. 

McCarthy spoke at the evening, focusing on the effects of addictions on a community, and remarked, "I am speaking about a subject that, unfortunately, I know too much about."

Let your fingers take a walk through Googleville as you search for "Maryland Public Officials DWI" and grab a soft drink; you'll be reading a while.  It happens far too often, and the shame is that we are always counting on football and baseball players to be role models and community leaders, when we should count on the people we elect to make and enforce our laws to at least follow them.

A truly public-minded official in these straits should acknowledge that they are fighting an opponent much larger than any they've vanquished before, and step away from public duties to go seek help.  The County will still be here when you come back, ready to work.  

And so will you, sir.

Wednesday, November 8, 2017

And you think YOUR neighbor is a nut!

Senator Rand Paul, Kentucky Republican, was jumped in his yard in Bowling Green the other day, allegedly by his neighbor, leaving the ophthalmologist/lawmaker with five broken ribs and lung contusions. 

The guy who's accused of the smackdown is the next-door neighbor, retired anesthesiologist Rene Boucher. He could have stayed on the scene to help with the pain, but nooooo...

Of course, the people who see a conspiracy behind every conversation, skullduggery afoot head to toe, and a machination in every action were quick to figure it out. Boucher is a known liberal, so therefore his only goal in life is to derail the ACA and stop Sen. Paul from reaching his goal, whatever it is. Facebook lit up with all the ways that Boucher is supposed to be an agent provocateur for the loony left.

And that all may well be true, although Rand Paul is nowhere near as important to our national destiny as he would like to think he is. I can't say; I've never been any closer to Kentucky than the Kentucky Fried Chicken drive thru ("8 piece box, extra crispy, chicken only, senior discount, please").

Dr Senator Paul before the fracas
But the truth might be a little more simpler than all the commotion over health care and the national civic weal.

"The unfortunate occurrence of November 3rd has absolutely nothing to do with either's politics or political agendas. It was a very regrettable dispute between two neighbors over a matter that most people would regard as trivial. We sincerely hope that Senator Paul is doing well and that these two gentlemen can get back to being neighbors as quickly as possible."

Those are the words from Boucher's attorney, Matt Baker, in a statement to WKU Public Radio. Baker went on to say the whole thing was "a very regrettable dispute between two neighbors over a matter that most people would regard as trivial."

The New York TIMES said that Paul "has long stood out in the well-to-do gated neighborhood," for doing what he wanted in his own yard, in apparent violation of the homeowner's association's 21-page rulebook.

Yes. 21 pages of rules, and among the rules are bans on compost heaps and growing one's own pumpkins, and it would seem that the senator flouted those rules to the irritation of the guy bext door, who retaliated by opening a can of whoopass on him.

Dr Boucher after the fracas
(Jail photo)
Boucher spent Friday night in the local calaboose and is due in court tomorrow, where there just might be a news crew or two standing by.

The senator is currently unable to travel and will miss work while recuperating.

Dr Boucher is now retired, but at one point in his life, he invented a rice-filled vest that one heated in the microwave before putting it on to relieve back pain. He sold this item on QVC in 2005, just like Joy Mangano with her squeeze mop. The vest is no longer being made, but if he has any left piled up in his garage, perhaps he could send one over to the Paul residence and the senator could nuke it and put it on and feel better.

This entire story seems insane to me, but it's true, and the craziest part is this: Senator Rand Paul mows his own lawn.