Wednesday, October 31, 2018

Hickleberry Funn

Stop me if you've heard this one before...

Huckleberry Finn
Lifeguard in Rehoboth Beach, Delaware, headed for Princeton in the fall after a summer of surf rescues and I don't know what-all else in that beach resort town, checks out Mark Twain's "Adventures of Huckleberry Finn" from the public library.

Off he went to Princeton, and the book did not make the trip with him.

Nor did it make the trip back to the library.

Jim Dunham was that lifeguard, and he met the woman he was to marry that summer, and spent more time gazing into her eyes than reading about a destitute vagabond that no one could "sivilize," or so it seems, because that book wound up in a basement of Dunham's parents in Rehoboth.

Sad to say, Jim passed away in 2002, and it fell to his daughter, Lee, to sort out boxes of detritus in the house this summer. While doing so, she found the Finn book, which had been checked out in June, 1972.
(Perhaps he was so engrossed in reading about the Watergate break-in and subsequent arrests of Nixon's cutthroats that he forgot about ole Huck.)

Lee saw the right thing to do was to take the book back, which she did, dropping it off with a little note of apology in that envelope that held the DATE DUE card.

"I wasn't worried about getting hit with fees," she figured. "It was checked out six years before I was born so I have an airtight alibi."

Library worker Tyler Antoine found the book in the book drop and darted off to shot it to his boss, library director Alison Miller.

The original due date — July 19, 1972 — means it was exactly 16,875 days overdue.

Miller figured out the fine - $1,687.50 - but she is waiving it in Dunham's case.

My favorite part of the whole story is Dunham saying, "It's going back into their collection where it belongs, for other people to check out (finally)."

Ms Miller whispered (she is a librarian), "It really brought a smile to our faces on Monday. This is what we really do. This is what we live for.”

Tuesday, October 30, 2018

Gettin' in hot water

These 3-D printers, they are something else.  They can make guns (bad) and a new handle for your toaster oven (good) and just about everything in between, like magic.

And one of them just made a whole passel o' trouble for some Air Force dudes.

First came this press release, trumpeting the fact that someone saved the Air Force (and all taxpayers, don't forget) a bundle by making a plastic handle for their in-flight coffee pot, because they could not just run out and order new handles.

I guess not. They are flying around in airplanes, which makes it hard to run out and do anything.

The backstory is, the Air Force bought 10 hot cups for $6,930.  "Hot cup" is a military term meaning "cup that holds hot water." $693 for what a Yeti could do for $40 seems kind of pricey, but then again, it is awfully important that our flying men and women remain caffeinated at all times, so hang the expense.

Hot Cup Innovation
And as you'll see from the press release, they were mighty proud of the savings when they put their 3-D printer to work, so proud that they publicized this great brainstorm.

And then they wish they hadn't, because the press release attracted the attention of people in Congress, and by the time all the decimal points settled in, it turned out more like each of these hot pots cost more like $1,280, and people wanted to know why the Air Force couldn't just hit Dunkin' Donuts before takeoff and save us all some beans.

US Air Force Hot Cup

Have you ever seen two more uncomfortable-looking people?  That's the Secretary of the Air Force, Heather Wilson, and the Chief of Staff,  Gen. David Goldfein, testifying about this hot water holder. His mini plastic bottle of water cost us $348,000.  Just kidding. Maybe.

The whole thing reminds me of a kid piling up his parents' car on a Saturday night but bragging in the morning that he filled the tank with gas, so it's all good, right?

Stop wasting my money. You want to defend the country, thanks, fine. But do it while drinking cheap coffee, like the rest of us.

Monday, October 29, 2018

Goobers or Raisinets?

And here we are on a Monday, and in two days, it's Halloween Wednesday, which means a "school night" for Bud and Sis and a "work night" for Mom and Dad. Do the kids let their homework slide to go door-to-door for Skittles? Do Mom and Dad leave work early, forgetting about that deadline on the Fershlugginer account, to get Junior all duded up like Fortnite?

If we take advice from the Halloween Industry Association, we won't have this problem in the future.  The HIA represents companies interested in making money off 10/31 all year long, so that would be candy and snack firms and people who make costumes.  And with an eye (a real one, not a fake Cyclops eye on the forehead) toward making Halloween more fun for everyone except those who work weekends, they are petitioning the president of the United States, Donald Trump, to move Halloween to the final Saturday of October. 

They call it the “Saturday Halloween Movement."  “It’s time for a Safer, Longer, Stress-Free Celebration!” the petition cries.

Image result for goobersAnd any group promoting a cause is quick to trot out statistics to back up their request, and the HIA is no exception, pointing out that some  3,800 Halloween-related injuries are reported every year, ranging from deliberately adulterated food to Dad spraining his ankle trying to wrest a box of Goobers from Junior.

The industry group says that "most parents don’t incorporate 'high visibility aids' into their outfits," and also reminds us that most children don't carry flashlights.

They don't say why having Halloween on a Saturday will change either of those facts.

Their main point seems to be that when the big day falls on a weekday, parents have to leave their kids on their own to go bag loot, so, "why cram it into 2 rushed evening weekday hours when it deserves a full day!?!”

Image result for kid halloween trumpLegal experts note that President Trump, who is quite the stickler for keeping his business interests separate from his presidential interests, what there are of them, might face a conflict of interest in this matter, as fully 2/3 of the kids in our neighborhood will parade around dressed as him this Halloween, and the other third will appear as Caitlin Jenner.

Sunday, October 28, 2018

Sunday Rerun: Before there was Giant, Safeway and Weis

Grocery stores, as we all know, sell off the whole chickens whose time in the refrigerator case is, shall we say, about to go into extra innings, by putting them in the rotisserie, slathering them with barbeque sauce and selling them, at long last, that way.

And then, if the almost-expired chicken doesn't sell in the rotisserie reincarnation, the deli guy shreds it for chicken salad.

But I want to take you back to a time in America, before the George Foreman ro-to-matic rotisserie, before the electric turning spit was invented, when it was up to everyone barbecuing a bird to turn the doggone thing, lest it get all cooked on one side and all raw on the other.  Ma had butter to churn and laundry to beat on the rocks in the creek and Pa was tied up chasin' varmints and plowing row after row of corn to have with the chicken for dinner, and the kids were busy rolling hoops or hooping rolls or whatever they did. 

And when THAT doesn't sell, I don't know what to tell you.

Dizzy Dog
Someone came up with the answer, as someone always will, if we just wait long enough. Canis Vertigus, Latin for "dizzy dog," was the solution.  

And if at any time you think I am pulling your leg or losing my mind, let me assure you, this is all true.

In the kitchen, they would rig a wheel, like a hamster wheel but much bigger, and put a dog in there to make that little wheel spin and spin. And the dog, a breed of Corgi called a "turnspit dog," made dinner come out perfectly even by doing his job.  The wheel was connected to the rotisserie and the whole family could go on about their lives, knowing that wonderful, falling-off-the-bone fire-roasted chicken awaited them later.

Some families were even so well off that they had two turnspit dogs, with one always ready in the bullpen to come in take over when the other one got dog-tired.

Back the, people did not look upon animals as we do today. Cats were there to keep the rodent population down, and dogs earned their dinner (perhaps some leftover chicken?) by working doggone hard for it.

And that's nothing, compared to what people expected of their children then! My heavens, sometimes they even had to walk to school in cold weather!

Carrying leftover chicken for lunch.

Saturday, October 27, 2018

The Saturday Picture Show, October 27, 2018

"Method acting" involves steeping oneself deeply into the persona of the character an actor will portray, such as, if you're playing a taxi driver in "Taxi Driver," you actually get a taxi driver license and haul people around in a cab, soaking up taxi stuff. That's what Robert De Niro did while making that movie, and now, 42 years later, he's still driving people...crazy.
This woman attended the Alabama/Arkansas game and could not choose a side. Alabama had fun, Arkansas not really, and she doesn't look like she was enjoying the hell out of it either.
I've always been just foresighted enough to weave tomorrow's lunch plan into tonight's dinner.
And here we are, recycling all those cardboard Amazon boxes instead of making sculptures out of them.
Stealth cat! Stealth cat!
First winter wallpaper of the year is here, and remember, holiday music starts Thursday on Sirius XM!
This just looks like stained glass, but what it is, is a cracked mirror looking at the sunset.
Big tree falls. Crew sent to remove it. They could haul it away, or make it work where it is!

Friday, October 26, 2018

What's the matter with Megyn?

Megyn Kelly slunk away from the swamp that is FOX News and wound up with a 9 AM slot on NBC as part of the 236 daily hours of the TODAY show.  And at once, NBC launched a campaign to make us forget how antagonistic she always was toward LGBTQ groups and how her FOX show was all about espousing righty values that would curdle in that 9 AM hour.  And don't forget how she told the nation Santa Claus is white, so take that, non-white children.
Image result for megyn kelly ugly
So when she came to NBC, she said she was leaving politics behind, and tried to become a daytime sort of personality - the "friend" we can watch while having the second cup of coffee and emptying the lint filter in the dryer.

She has been a disappointment in that area; to me, she seems as likable as a persistent itch, and it seems that NBC is only keeping her around because firing her or moving her to hosting a weekend latenight film review show at 1:30 AM would be like admitting that hiring her was a huge error in the first place.

But after what she did this week, it might be time to see if Regis Philbin or Keith Olbermann would like to try their hand at hosting the 9 AM hour.

Megyn and three other white people were talking about whether it's racist to dress up in blackface for Halloween.


On television.

In 2018.

No surprise, Megyn is all for dressing up in minstrel clothing. “When I was a kid, that was OK, so long as you were dressing up as a character.”
She elaborated, saying it was OK when she was growing up for white people to dress up as black people.

She said it was wrong last year when some reality star dressed up like Diana Ross in a wig the size of Montana.

"But what is racist?" Kelly asked. "Because you do get in trouble if you are a white person who puts on blackface on Halloween, or a black person who puts on whiteface for Halloween. Back when I was a kid that was OK, as long as you were dressing up as, like, a character."

She kept talking about "when she was a kid." This woman was born in 1970, so let's say she started going out begging for Snickers in 1974. I was 23 then and I can tell you with certainty that a) I never saw a kid show up dressed like that  and b) if I had, they would not have gotten anything except some advice from a 23-year-old.

I don't know if Kelly is so tone-deaf as to think that people of color would not be insulted by people of non-color darkening their faces and doing a minstrel act on Halloween, or if she is deliberately poking people with the sharp stick of racism to gain attention or publicity.

Well, she got attention, all right, and once again, she proved herself to be an embarrassment to the network that overpays her ($15 million a year), to the people she works with, and to the few people to whom she broadcasts her show.

And predictably, after the idiocy of Tuesday, Wednesday brought an apology.

“I want to begin with two words: I’m sorry,” Kelly said to open her show on Wednesday. “You may have heard yesterday that we had a discussion here. ... I defended the idea that as long as it was respectable and part of the Halloween costume, it seemed OK. Well, I was wrong and I am sorry.”

This followed remarks by NBC colleagues Al Roker, who said, "she owes a bigger apology to folks of color across the country," and Craig Melvin, who said her comments were "stupid" and "indefensible," pointing out that this can be an opportunity to teach people - even though most people already knew how offensive blackface is.

Stunning as it is to think there are people like this living among us, it's even worse to think that there are people like this on television among us. For Megyn's information, blackface was used to humiliate people.

Please act like you know that, because we are going to assume you are ok with discomfiting millions of people if you keep talking like this.

Thursday, October 25, 2018

Nebraska 5-Oh

There are 50 - count 'em! - five-oh states in the US of A, and guess which one came in last for the last four years in a survey of states people want to visit?

Don't you dare say, "New Jersey," "Delaware," or "Maryland." Those are my three favorites and they offer all that a tourist could want, except if you want a desert or a huge canyon or Ohio.

Nebraska has an image problem. For four consecutive years, it’s come in dead last on a list of states that tourists are interested in visiting, and those Cornhuskers are not about to take that lying down in a cornfield! 

Image result for alaska nebraskaI've never been to Nebraska, but when I think of the beautiful love ballads ("Moonlight Over Omaha" and "I Love Kearney In The Summer" among them) that you hear people singing about the place, and I get the itch to see what's going on out there.  And remember, The Simpsons version of Hannah Montana was Alaska Nebraska!

Well, as I say, they aren't going to take that "last" ranking without fighting back. So they all got together and came up with a new slogan to get people off their beehives and into Box Butte, and that slogan follows:

Nebraska: It's Not For Everyone!

Well.  The Nebraska Tourism Commission comes right out and says that Nebraska “may not be on everyone’s bucket list of places to visit.” But! “If you like experiences that are unpretentious and uncomplicated or if you enjoy escaping the big city life for moments of solitude in the open plains, creating your own fun or exploring the quirkiness the state has to offer, chances are, you will like it here.”

Ever wonder why some television commercials are so effective, and have you running down to the Fiat showroom minutes after seeing an ad during "The Big Bang Theory"? It's not so much what they say as what they don't say! And you won't see a commercial written by a slick New Yorker that goes on and on and on and concludes with, "chances are, you'll like it."

The soft sell only works for very few clients.

McDonalds didn't get to be on top of the fast food world by saying, "Hey! If Burger King is closed, you might think about stopping here at the Golden Arches, if it's convenient."  And Budweiser would never have been crowned "King of Beers" had their slogan been something like, "There are a lot of beers and ours is one of them."  

Image result for nebraska it's not for everyone

The new motto is not exactly driving Nebraskans into a frenzy of approval, either. The Omaha World-Herald newspaper took a poll, and it turns out that a majority of readers like the slogan, but others say it doesn’t help sell the state as a place as a cool tourist destination.

Nebraska native Micah Yost told the paper he just doesn’t think "the best way to pitch ourselves is calling out stereotypes about ourselves. There’s no reason why that would draw people to the state.”

The campaign cost the state (taxpayers) $450,000, which did not include the cost of coffee and Danish at the rollout paid to a marketing firm in Colorado, because there just can't be any good marketing firms in Nebraska, for crying out loud!

As always, Twitter had the last words:

“Nebraska: Typhoid Free since ‘87!” tweeted Brett Baker, a producer at 1011 News in Lincoln. And he also submitted: “Nebraska: Minimal storm surge!” and “Nebraska: We have very few serial killers!”

See you there sometime soon?

Wednesday, October 24, 2018

We need better politicians

Here I go, talking about politics without naming any politicians or parties. But things are driving me nuts as the midterm election approaches, and I have to say, in some cases, the people we have running for office are just not exactly of statesman-like caliber.

F'rinstance, the man running for governor of Maryland against the incumbent. He has made some verbal tics, such as proclaiming on the campaign trail that he is running for "governor of Virginia" or the time he exploded at a newspaper reporter at a press gathering, asking if she were "*(#&@! kidding" with a question she asked. He's had staffers "liking" some rather provocative tweets made by others, and there have been other slips.
Image result for tea leoni
In any discussion of politics, I like to add the absolutely true
fact that Téa Leoni is the granddaughter of the woman who founded
Unicef, and the great niece of Hank Patterson, who played Fred Ziffel
on "Green Acres" and "Petticoat Junction."

On the plus side, the candidate does state that he has always had a stuttering problem, and that in an effort to prevent himself from stammering, he will accidentally say the wrong words rather than stutter the right ones. Speech issues are no reason to knock a person, but on the other hand, a person who wishes to be a leader must have effective communication skills. Therefore, a person dealing with such a problem should be so adroit in other areas that an occasional gaffe will be minimized, if you ask me.

More locally, there is a man running against our fine county councilman who does not seem to know:

  • the boundaries of the district he wishes to serve (he is often seen going door-to-door and posting campaign signs on streets outside the district)
  • the name of the government entity to which he wishes to be elected (he calls the Baltimore County Council the "Maryland" County Council) 
  • the name of the community that is more or less the heart of the eastern portion of this council district (he calls Perry Hall "Parry" Hall.)
It's good to know what you're running for and where you're running from!

And While I'm inveighing Against politicians, Can someone ask The Current resident of 1600 Pennsylvania Av DC to stop All these Random capitalizations he Employs in His tweets for No apparent Reason? Thank YOU!

Tuesday, October 23, 2018

Signed, Sealed, Delivered

I don't want this to be another of those "things just ain't the way they used to be" screeds, so I'm just going to say it is really one of those "things are different now, and maybe for the better" compositions.

It's about the mail, the US Mail, specifically, and what time it arrives. Yes, back in the good old days, most households could count on getting the Saturday Evening Post early on a Tuesday morning. The mail often arrived just about the time a golden English Muffin, done just ever so, popped up out of the toaster. I had a buddy who delivered in the Lutherville-Timonium P.O. (the "21093," in ZIP terms), and he had to be at work at 7 AM, out delivering by 9, and back again by 4PM. Rainy days and Mondays never got him down; he was out there in the rain, the cold, the snow, whatev, with his leather mail pouch and his can of dog repellent spray.

The past couple of years, we get our mail after dinner, and that means that at this time of the season, you'll see a mail truck nosing its way up and down our court with its headlights on. I can't even tell you how odd that sight is. It's like seeing your brain surgeon with a scalpel in one hand and a chicken wing in the other as he goes to work. Or seeing Justin Tucker miss a kick. And now and then, if I'm out by the mailbox, I'll talk to the carrier, and he or she always says they are filling in on our route after already completing their own.
You could order one of these and it will be delivered
in a truck that looks just like it!
Perhaps - and it's none of my business to tell the USPS how to do their job - they could hire a new letter carrier to carry our letters...

On the other hand, they have this system you can sign up for in which you get an email (at about the time the mail USED to arrive) that shows a little picture of the mail you will be getting much, much later that day.

Here's a free tip for restaurateurs: after diners give their orders to their servers, that person could text them photos of what their dinner is going to look like, when it arrives ten hours from now.

I have other business ideas, if anyone wants to hear them.

But don't get me wrong; I'm not out to pick on the mail people. I know they work hard and can take pride in their sense of responsibility. I say that because last Saturday, we went out to dinner and I put an outgoing letter in the box. When we came home around 8, the letter was there, so the mail did not come to our street that day.  Not the end of the world, but odd.

AND THEN, the next day, Sunday, around 1 o'clock, I heard a truck out in the street and joked that maybe it was the mail.  And it was! I'm guessing he had vehicle trouble or some such on Saturday and then came around on Sunday to deliver his route.

Maybe I should print this and mail it to the Postmaster General.

Monday, October 22, 2018

Inching Along

Did you know that Sears Roebuck & Co, now just "Sears," was founded in 1893, but as late as 1925, they had no stores, no buildings to go to and buy socks and washing machines and ties and girdles and shoes and nails and plates and cups and so on?

Sears Catalog Cover, Fall/Winter 1960It's true, so true. They built their business on mail order.  People got a Sears catalog in the mail (and you can bet the letter carrier loved the day THEY came out; each one was as thick as a twenty-dollar steak, and just about every family got a copy) and looked through the "wish book."

Dad could order stuff for the yard or garage, Mom could get what she wanted for the living room or kitchen.  Or vice versa! Bud could get a magneto for that hot rod he'd been doing shade-tree mechanic stuff to, and Sis could get a full-on doll house and dolls to staff it. Sears didn't care who bought what for where. In fact, African-Americans in the deep South, used to shoddy treatment in general stores when they went to purchase items, soon found out that no one cared about their race when they ordered clothing or whatnot from The Big Book. The only color that mattered to Sears was the color of your money, just as it should have been.

Image result for man on page 602 sears catalogAnd yes, America was a very different place in 1975. Having just survived 1.5 terms of the Nixon Era, we took a deep breath as cardigan-clad Jerry Ford moved into the White House, and when the Fall and Winter '75 catalog came out, everyone was all agog over the guy who came to be known as "The Man On Page 602." Click on the link to hear the song about this mini-brou-haha, as sung by the immortal Zoot Fenster.

The whole commotion was caused by improper reproductions of a photo of a guy wearing boxer shorts, photo faults which made it appear that the man was...large and in charge. They thought he had BDE long before Pete Davidson made that a thing.

The pandemonium over his...size...lasted but a short time, as it were. That's how things were in 1975...we didn't have cable news and cheesy online "news" sites, so our tumults lasted but briefly.

Besides, we had to prepare for the arrival of the Pet Rock later that year!

Sunday, October 21, 2018

Sunday Rerun: Sir Mixup a lot

My first name is Mark, which plays into this story because when my wonderful Peggy and I moved into the first version of what I call the Lazy 'C' Ranch, the good people at Verizon gave us a new phone that had just previously been the number of a man named "Mark."

And in those pre-Caller ID days, I answered the phone every time it rang, and the conversation often went like this:

Me: "Hello?"
Caller: "Mark?"
Me: "Yes..."
Caller: "Why won't you let Charlene use the car to take the kids to the doctor?"

or: "You cheating bastarrrrrrrrrrrrd...did you really think you could fool everyone?"

Well. I don't try to fool anyone, and I am sorry, but I was not that Mark.  I have often wondered how that family drama all played out, but not for long.

Baby got the wrong #
But that memory helped me relate to Jonathan Nichols, a Seattle lawyer who went to the Verizon kiosk in a mall out there and got himself a new cell phone when he was going to law school.  They gave him the number that used to belong to Verizon customer and Seattle native Anthony Ray, who is best known to music fans, and anyone who has attended a wedding reception in the last 15 years, as Sir Mix-a-Lot, who gave us the unforgettable love ballad "Baby Got Back."

For instance.
Well, it didn't take too long before Nichols got a lot of calls from people he didn't know...calls from luxury car salespeople, sexts from women with callypigian buttockular regions who wished to have others see their rear view mirrors, offers for backstage went on and on.

He started replying to the calls and tests, telling people he was sure they wanted someone else, but it wasn't until August 12, which as we all know is Sir Mix-a-Lot's birthday, that he figured it all out.  

Dozens of texts and calls wishing Mix a happy birthday gave it away.

None of the articles I read on this mentioned what the phone number is; Nichols apparently still uses it. It's not 900-MIXALOT, though (I checked!)

Now kick them nasty thoughts.

Saturday, October 20, 2018

The Saturday Picture Show, October 20, 2018

Trompe l'oeil is the French expression meaning "Fool the eye." It was first used in America in 1969 when I was attempting to convince my French teacher that I was really in her class in 7th period the day before, and not hanging around Gino's as reported by someone whose eyes were easily tricked. A lot of guys looked just like me! And now that term refers to a style of painting meant to fool you into thinking that a giant wasp is on your wall.
From far above, the Colorado River when it's cold.
Fans of the movie "Snakes On A Plane" starring the great Samuel L. Jackson were probably listening intently to the story this week of the gold prospector who fell into a mine in Arizona, breaking his legs and finding himself dealing with three rattlesnakes at the bottom of the shaft. This happened on a Monday, of course.
This would not make a morning great, to see this message on a passing freight car. But the other advisory is also interesting. Apparently, people were going around hammering on railroad cars to such an extent that the railroad bosses ordered decals for the cars ordering people not to do so. Hammer Time!
This week's free wallpaper takes us to the woods that look like a box of Froot Loops.
I had to do some digging to find out just that this is a picture of, and it turns out that it shows baby asterisks, just born and ready to be inserted into essays and photo shows all over.
Interesting. We had our first morning frost this week, and this shows how the sun melted off everything that wasn't in the shadow of the chair.
And with the first frost comes a reminder from the American Nose Warmer Council never to let your proboscis go uncovered!

Friday, October 19, 2018

Making Up For Shortcomings

I'm not about hunting, but if you're interested, go right ahead. It's your life; if you feel like shooting defenseless animals, be my guest, and please accept my firm and hearty disapprobation.

And I know a guy who goes out and reduces the deer population of Pennsylvania every autumn and then donates the venison to homeless shelters all over, so that's for the good.  What's for the bad is senseless killing, which brings us all the way to Africa by way of Idaho.

Blake Fischer, an Idaho Fish and Game commissioner (we're on a great skein here, with people whose names match their jobs) decided there weren't enough animals to kill for his liking in that state, so he oozed over to Africa and shot up the joint, bragging on social media of killing “at least 14 animals in Namibia*” including “a giraffe, leopard, impala, sable antelope, waterbuck, kudu, warthog, gemsbok (oryx) and eland.”

Seemingly unable to stuff his gigantic hubris into any normal-sized container, he went on, “I shot a Leopard. Super cool, super lucky. The Leopard is one of the big 5, as in one of the 5 animals in Africa that will kill you before you can kill it. Crazy cool animal. They are normally super nocturnal, so this was really unique.”

Well. You must be one proud Blake.

And when the complaints piled up faster than dead animal bodies, the governor who appointed him, Butch Otter (name!) happily accepted his resignation.  Of course, Fischer went the "this is not who I am" route:

“I recently made some poor judgments that resulted in sharing photos of a hunt which did not display an appropriate level of sportsmanship and respect for the animals I harvested. While these actions were out of character for me, I fully accept responsibility. … I apologize to the hunters and anglers of Idaho who (sic) I was appointed to represent.”

Image result for baboons
Baboons NOT killed by this Fischer person

Fischer sent a lot of photos in the mass email, showing himself and his wife, Beth, posing with numerous animals that were happily living until the Fischers arrived. Fischer chirped that this was Beth's first trip to Africa, according to the message, and she wanted to watch him and "'get a feel' of Africa."

"So I shot a whole family of baboons.  I think she got the idea quick." the email read. "After we left all of the animals in Africa that were still alive we pretty happy we were on a plane headed home!" (sic) (sick).

This hell of a man is proud of himself, and his online autobio says he is the owner of  B.A. Fischer Sales Co., Inc. in Boise. He says he is active in Big Brothers Big Sisters and was recently named Big Brother of the Year by BBBS. And he wants to address the decline in the number of people hunting. 

I'm not at all certain the world needs more Blake Fischer-types. But I do feel that Blake Fischer could use some emotional therapy.
*Trump calls this nation "Nambia."

Thursday, October 18, 2018

Tense matters

The world bade goodbye Monday to entrepreneur and investor Paul Allen,  cofounder of Microsoft with his high school buddy Bill Gates.

Allen was the "idea guy" of the personal computing empire while Gates was the man of action who brought those ideas to life. A college dropout, Allen was writing code for another computer firm when it dawned on him that every American - every everyone! - should have a computer at home, and one for the office, and one to operate the ordering system at restaurants, and, well, he knew before we did that  everything everywhere would be better off with a computer brain running it much better than ours can.

Allen resigned from the firm he named Microsoft in 1983, after being diagnosed with Hodgkin's disease, in pursuit of other opportunities in business, music (he was known as an excellent guitarist), sports (he owned the NFL Seattle Seahawks and the NBA Portland Trailblazers),
research (he purchased a yacht called the Octopus for rescue and research missions. It was over 400 feet long and had two helipads, a pool, and its own two submarines) and developments geared toward getting the entire world online.
His philanthropy started foundations in medical research, visual and performing arts, community service, and forest preservation. Just this year, he invested $30 million in a homeless center in Seattle. In 2014, he spent $100 million to combat Ebola in West Africa.

Allen lived on Lake Washington's Mercer Island, near Seattle. Once estimated at around $40 billion, his fortune stood at around half that when he passed away on Monday. He never married. He lived in a 10,000 square foot mansion on Mercer Island in Washington state, among other dwellings around the world.

If you are reading this, you are still among the living, which Paul Allen, for all his goodness, for all his accomplishments, yea for all his money, cannot claim to be. Notice that everything above is in the past tense. We are in the present and we should enjoy being that way.

Wednesday, October 17, 2018

Rock and role

If you've been using an old rock as a doorstop, you might want to check and see it's actually a valuable old meteorite.

A guy in Michigan bought a farm "in Edmore, about 30 miles southwest of Mount Pleasant" (like that really helps me figure out where it is) in 1988, and he noticed a 22-lb rock holding open the kitchen door, and the farmer told him that it came to earth sometime in the 1930s, as did Elvis.  The farmer went on to say that he and his father dug out the big rock while it was still warm, and put it right in the kitchen, where it stayed except for all the days when his kids took it to school for Show And Tell.

So after having the rock underfoot for 30 years, the owner sent it off to Mona Sirbescu, a geology professor at Central Michigan University, who has been asked to verify dozens of rocks over the years for meteorite status.

Image result for michigan meteorite"For 18 years, the answer has been categorically 'no' -- meteor wrongs, not meteorites," Sirbescu says, but when she saw this little boulder, "I could tell right away that this was something special."

It's a meteorite, all right, 88.5% iron and 11.5% nickel. This hunk holds the proud status of being the sixth-largest recorded meteorite ever found in Michigan. 

Professor Sirbescu says this is "the most valuable specimen I have ever held in my life, monetarily and scientifically," and that it's likely worth over $100,000, now that the Smithsonian Institution verified a slice of it as being the real deal.

Now there might be a bidding war for the boulder, as the Smithsonian and a mineral museum in Maine are both considering purchasing the meteorite for display, according to CMU. The owner promises to give 10% of the loot to the university for the study of earth and atmospheric sciences.

In other news, I had a relative whose kitchen door was held open by a big rock. He had it checked. The rock was worthless, but it turned out the door was worth a fortune!

Tuesday, October 16, 2018

"Mediocre" is a mediocre word

All except the most hidebound and unlettered among us admit by now that there must be something to this climate change talk.  And even though the head of the EPA - the Environmental Protection Agency - doesn’t believe carbon dioxide is the primary reason for climate change (which it is), he is just playing to the philistines. You get the impression that deep down, he knows there's a good reason for those nagging sea levels and water temperatures.

Image result for scott wagner
But up in Pennsylvania dwells a man named Scott Wagner, a state senator running for the governor's seat. Wagner made his bundle hauling other peoples' bundles away; he owns and operates trash hauling businesses. Which is fine.  What isn't fine is that when asked about his opinions on climate change at a candidate forum, he replied, “We have more people. You know, humans have warm bodies. So is heat coming off? Things are changing, but I think we are, as a society, doing the best we can.”

So, to sum up, Scott Wagner attributes climate change to all the hot sweaty people on Earth. And he believes the earth is moving closer to the Sun.

It feels like it in August.

At one of his campaign stops, Rose Strauss, a young woman studying Earth Sciences asked Wagner, "You've said that climate change is a result of people's body heat, and are refusing to take action on the issue. Does this have anything to do with the $200,000 that you have taken from the fossil fuel industry?"

And Wagner's answer came back:

"Well, I appreciate you being here. You're 18 years old. You know, you're a little young and naive. But are we here to elect a governor or elect a scientist? Okay? I'm here to be the governor. I appreciate - and I understand - the question. But I have one for you, Rose."

And then he went on to discuss water quality of the Susquehanna River, without posing the promised question.

Talk like that reminds me of the good old days of 1970, when Richard Nixon nominated a third-rate jurist to the Supreme Court.

(The more you learn about history, the more you see it repeating itself, you know what I'm saying to you here?)

Image result for the supremes
The Supremes
The dud judge was G. Harrold Carswell. Nixon tried to put Carswell on the Court after Clement Haynsworth, his first choice to replace Abe Fortas as one of The Supremes, did not attain Senate approval. But Carswell was also found wanting for reasons of a 58 percent reversal rate of his decisions as a district court judge, and his support for racial segregation and white supremacy when he had run for the Georgia legislature in 1948. He also opposed women's rights (no surprise.)

Image result for roman hruska mediocre
But in the Senate hearings on the Carswell matter, Senator Roman Hruska (R, Neb) responded to charges that Carswell was at best a mediocre judge with words that ring even yet today in my ears:

Even if he were mediocre, there are a lot of mediocre judges and people and lawyers. They are entitled to a little representation, aren't they, and a little chance? We can't have all Brandeises, Frankfurters and Cardozos.

It may well have been that people in power felt that way for years and years, but not until Hruska admitted it did one of the 100 people in the US Senate come out and admit that Velveeta was just as good as Stilton, a couple of kids with harmonicas were up there with a Haydn string quartet, and a cheap backstreet affair was a parallel to true love.

Mediocrity is its own punishment, and not to be settled for if at all possible. No, we can't always have the best, but we suffer for not striving for it.

Monday, October 15, 2018


Image result for dave and sugar
The worst type of
country music ever
I wrapped up my radio days doing the overnight show at WPOC in Baltimore, and this was in 1983, when country music still had at least a tiny tinge of country left. Sure, there was the evil Dave and Sugar influence, but George Jones and John Anderson and Hank Williams, Jr, and Ronnie Milsap were still making hits in those days, and I actually enjoyed listening to those songs all night long, waiting for sunrise over Hampden.

One of the bigger hits that spring was by a band called Alabama.Those guys were a money machine for RCA Records back in those days, cranking out hit after hit after hit. Their tune "Dixieland Delight" was outside the norm for country songs. Sure, it was all about going out "On a Tennessee Saturday night
Couldn't feel better
I'm together with my dixieland delight
Spend my dollar
Parked in a holler 'neath the mountain moonlight
Holdin' her up tight
Make a little lovin'
A little turtle dovin' on a Mason Dixon night
It's my life
Oh so right
My dixieland delight..."

But there was a fiddle finale and a change in tempo at the end of the record, which was not the norm then.

Well, now, even though the lyrics mention going out in the mountain moonlight on a Tennessee Saturday night, the song became a fourth-quarter favorite at the Bryant-Denny Stadium in Tuscaloosa, Alabama, where the U of Alabama Crimson Tide entertains their fans, 101,821 at a time. The stadium sound system would play the song, and every would sing the lyrics exactly as performed by the band on the record, and all was well.  Good night!

Well, no.

It got to where the fans sang along, and added war cries about the opponents, things along the lines of "The heck with Auburn!" and "We don't care for Clemson any which way."  And then it got even saltier, so much so that they haven't even played the record since the Auburn game of 2014, in which Alabama was able to eke out a 55-44 win. They stopped playing "Dixieland Delight" because profanity was raining down from the stands on an Alabama Saturday afternoon!

But Alabama's Athletic Director, Greg Byrd, told the kids that they would play the song again, and if you were watching Saturday night, you heard the stands rocking to the song as the Tide rolled over Missouri, 39-12.  It took appeals from Byrd, running back Damien Harris, Coach Nick Saban’s wife, Terry Saban, and the student body president to get promises from fans just to sing the the “Dixieland Delight Done Right” lyrics: “ROLL TIDE” and “BEAT AUBURN, AND LSU, AND TENNESSEE TOO.”
Big Al, the mascot, lives in Alabama, where the Tuscaloosa.
From all I've heard, there were no major outbreaks of scurrility or obscene language among the faithful, and that would mean that a precious tradition has been restored.

And for other colleges seeking to engender a little enthusiasm in the stands, Alabama (the band) had dozens of other hits for you to play. If the score of your game is a bit too tight for comfort, how about "The Closer You Get"?  or if your team makes a big comeback, you could salute them with "Can't Keep A Good Man Down"!

Meanwhile, Roll Tide, I say! 

Sunday, October 14, 2018

Sunday Rerun: Playing the library card

There is a town in Texas, a state that seems to pride itself, with the exception of the good citizens of Austin, on becoming a barren land of howling lunatics, called White Settlement.

In 2010, the White Settlement Public Library, in need of cheap rodent control, hired a kitten right out of the local animal shelter. They named him "Browser," this docile grey tabby, and put him to work at once.

He must have been doing a fine job de-mouseulating the joint, and he was happy as a cat in a library until July, when some city hall worker got all worked up because he was told he could no longer bring his puppy to work.

Kwik Kwiz: What did the aggravated city employee do about being told he couldn't bring Poochie Dog to work?

a) he stopped bringing the dog to work and went back to work with renewed vigor and enthusiasm

b) he whined that the people at the library were allowed to have a cat
Elzie (you can see where his cowboy
hat mashed his hair down)

Of course he a) didn't and b) did. And this unnamed local drone got the matter before the White Settlement City Council, and during a meeting which surely rivaled the Philadelphia Congress sessions of 1776, the matter of Browser's continued residency at the libes was taken to a vote.

Only one councilperson, one Elzie Clement, 

 was catty enough to vote for giving Browser the gate. The others weren't feline like sending him back to the shelter, which is paid for by the city kitty.

Now, Mayor Ron White (not the comedian) (I guess) says Browser’s job title is now "Library Cat for Life."

"Browser is still employed and will be as long as he wishes to continue his duties as mascot and reading helper for the children at the library," White said.

(Not to mention his Mickey-hunting duties.)

Hizzoner the Mayor says he's getting litterboxes full of mail and messages for all over with support and offers to adopt Browser.

So it's a happy story all around, and, master storyweaver that I am, I saved the best for last:

Elzie Clements is a councilman no more, having been defeated in a landslide.


Saturday, October 13, 2018

The Saturday Picture Show, October 13, 2018

I've been ready for fall since spring! Now I've found the pot o' gold at the end of the rainbow.
It must be a great feeling for a home canner to see the pantry all stocked up for the winter.
I suppose that down in the southwestern US, they don't have the chance to see fall leaves turn to pretty colors, as we do. But they have rainbow cacti.
How many of us have felt like this duck early in the morning?
I remember reading that it would only take five CVS register receipts to reach the moon. Here's someone who turned theirs into a nice snug scarf.
Multicolored outdoor lights! There's nothing cooler EXCEPT snow-covered multicolored outdoor lights!
Cool as it might be to live in this mountainside A-frame house, I would really have loved to see it being built!
If you look at advertisements from the olden days, it seemed that very few Americans WEREN'T walking around stinky, with bad breath and unruly hair. Fortunately, someone invented soap, toothpaste, and Brylcreem hair goo.