Friday, November 30, 2018

Noises on

"I'm officially at the age where I hate loud and unnecessary noises."

That was a tweet from someone that was re-posted by a friend of ours, a young woman we like a lot. And it got me thinking.

I really dislike noise when others are playing their music loudly on stadium-sized speakers, disturbing others for miles around. That's a sign of inconsideration.  And frankly, the music that others play is rarely the music that I want to hear. So no, just spare me from the latest by Marshmello and Bastille. Or the Captain and Tennille, either way.

On the other hand, guys like noises, and since every man of every age is just a larger version of what he was in 5th grade, we like noises all the time. My wonderful perfect wife often stares at me in wonderment as I amuse myself with gargling noises, cracked knuckles, and the amazing air-driven noises I can make just by squeezing my palms together.

Not to gender-generalize, but let's just say I don't know a lot of women who laugh at noises men make...

But any man will tell you, a crashing, breaking tray, dropped in a diner, accompanied by a crescendo of tinkling china and clattering silverware, delights us like few other things. We look around the room and wait for the chortling to begin.
Image result for popcorn
Popping popcorn, sizzling bacon, a baseball being hit by a wooden bat and being sent on a trip of 450 feet, popping bubble wrap, wind in autumn that makes the drying leaves on a tree rattle and sigh, thunder, rain on a metallic roof...these are a few of my favorite things!

Ironically, when a comedian launches a joke that falls with a thud and no one is laughing, it's said that all that's heard in the room is the sound of crickets.  And even that is worse than silence!

Thursday, November 29, 2018

One from Column A, one from column B

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

An elephant walks into a Chinese inn.

That's it! That's the joke, folks. I know you're out there, I can hear you breathing. What is this, an audience or an oil painting?

But, what happened was real, and here are the facts. A wild elephant did indeed wander into a Chinese inn, and he spent about four hours feasting on corn and oranges.

Xu Hongwei is the owner of the place.  It's in Yunnan Province. Xu said he told guests at the inn to remain on the second floor at about 4:30 the other morning, on the grounds that there was a wild elephant on the first floor. And what's more, Mr Xu is a member of the local elephant patrol team.

I have to say that again: the local elephant patrol team. There are such things, I guess, and I'll bet they have really cool hats and jackets. Maybe even a basketball team!
Image result for elephant eating

I'm going to call him "Jumbo."  Jumbo tied on the feedbag for four hours, chowing down on corn, oranges and other food stored inside.

According to Xu, this elephant was known to the locals from the previous times when he wandered into the eateries in town. Rather than trying to cajole Jumbo to leave, they gave him some time to stroll and gobble, while they held up traffic outside. 

There were no injuries to anyone, either with two legs or four really really big legs, during Jumbo's time out. but he did leave behind a big mess, according to Xu.

Turning to the horticultural news, residents of Yunnan Province are reporting larger-than-everrrrrrr tomatoes and corn this autumn.

Wednesday, November 28, 2018

What'll it be?

Sometimes I let my fingers do the walking through the internet, and here I am. I just stumbled across a site called "mindbodygreen," which is all about "mindfulness, health, food, movement, beauty, home, parenting, the planet..." and more.  Apparently, one can stay on this site forever; there is hardly a topic they don't touch on, with the possible exception of Jim Palmer's lifetime statistics (268 wins, 152 losses, with a 2.86 earned run average.)

And they talk about coffee and tea, two topics I enjoy. I love tea, hot and cold. Coffee, I only take when we dine at Friendly Farm; all other coffee tastes like bitter dishwater to me.

But the "mbg" site talks of a study in Scientific Reports, which says that we choose coffee over tea (or vice versa) based on our ability to detect bitterness.'d think that sensing bitterness would point a person toward drinking more tea, since coffee is bitter, but Northwestern University and QIMR Berghofer Medical Research Institute in Australia did a study of over 400,000 participants, and that's what they found.  The more sensitive a person is toward bitter taste, the more likely they are to say, "Make mine Maxwell House."
Image result for coffee and tea
The conclusion is that it all in your genes; your genetic background determines how much bitterness you can take. "The findings suggest our perception of bitter tastes, informed by our genetics, contributes to the preference for coffee, tea, and alcohol," Marilyn Cornelis, assistant professor of preventive medicine at Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine, told Science Daily.

None of this makes any sense on any level to me. It's like saying if you don't like tomatoes, you'll probably love tomato soup. And the researchers say that by all rights, none of us should like coffee, because our minds tell us, when our tongue tastes something bitter, that this is a warning that what we're tasting might be harmful.

The brainiacs behind this study posit that we love the jolt of caffeine (from coffee, which has twice the caffeine of tea) so much that we have rewired our brains to make us like coffee after all.

Now, I need to conduct a study about coffee drinkers to tell me why they never finish their cup o' joe! Look around any coffeehouse, office, shipping dock or Woolworth Luncheonette, and you'll find half-drunk cups of coffee left behind.  I'm guessing the #1 reason will be that people don't finish drinking their coffee because 1/2way through it, they realized it tastes like coffee!

Tuesday, November 27, 2018

This bugs me

Weren't we just talking about there always being two sides to every story?

Baseball fans (and boxing fans) will remember José Bautista as a good hitter as a right fielder with a poor throwing arm.  He once played for the Orioles, then spent eight years being annoying in Toronto with the Blue Jays, and then last year he drifted from the Mets to the Braves and the Phillies, like the uncle whom nobody wants around but everyone takes him in for a couple of months. He is currently a resident of Washed Up Island but might find some team foolish enough to offer to pay him for hanging around in right field this summer.

I never cared for him because he was a hot dog who always demonstrated poor sportsmanship, acted sullen or braggadocious, went out of his way to slide into other players, and the usual other jerky things that the non-great do.

The picture below is from 2016, just after Bautista slid into Texas second baseman Rougned Odor (say it OhDOOR) and Odor offered him some lessons in better baserunning. Odor used his own right hand to show José how to avoid needless collisions so hard that Bautista is seen here punching himself in the beezer with his OWN right hand.

Image result for rougned odor y jose bautista

AND THEN comes news from Canada that Jose Bautista has a new namesake!

Entomologist Bob Anderson of the Canadian Museum of Nature has bequeathed upon a newly discovered species of beetle the scientific name Sicoderus bautistai after you-know-who.

Image result for bat flip jose bautistaSpeaking of noses, this weevil has a long snout. But Anderson was moved to honor the rightfielder with such a distinction because he (Anderson) can't seem to stop reliving that magic moment in 2015 when Bautista hit a home run to put the Blue Jays in the American League Championship Series, flipping his bat like a high school Harry as he did.

Anderson says, "It was one of those moments in Toronto baseball sort of lore where he hit this big home run. And I thought what a great way to kind of recognize his contributions to Blue Jay baseball and to Canadian baseball, really, as a whole."

A tiny black weevil, the Sicoderus bautistai is found in Bautista's native Dominican Republic.

Anderson, who says this makes 120 weevils that he's named over the years, adds, "One of the nice things about this is that you have some latitude to do something kind of quirky," Anderson said. "(Naming) sort of builds on a history and the names tell little stories."

Maybe his 121st bug will be one that is bigger and tougher than Sicoderus bautistai, and he can name it for Rougned Odor.

Monday, November 26, 2018

Thrown to waste

As the great sage George Carlin taught us, no two ways about it, there are two sides to every story...

Like this Christian missionary John Allen Chau. Who could oppose the idea of bringing religion to North Sentinel, which is the very definition of a forbidden island? Sitting out there in the Andaman Sea, near the eastern Indian Ocean and the Bay of Bengal, it's a island where outsiders are not only not welcome but also actively attacked for trying to set foot on that land.

There's a very good reason for this long history of repelling outsiders. The Sentinelese have had no contact with the outside world and their aim is to keep things that way - free of our diseases and our modern technology. North Sentinel is about the size of Manhattan, but the Indian government says no outsiders know the language or the customs of the people there.

Here comes the other side of the coin. Mr Chau would not accept their desire to remain isolated, because it was his desire to bring Christianity to their world.  Admirable, sure, on the surface, I suppose, but in practical terms, the Sentinelese saw this as a deadly intrusion, and put him to death. And why did they feel so? Because it would have been deadly for him to enter their space and bring his Space Age American germs and cooties into their pristine world! They don't study anatomy and physiology and all the other things our advanced medical culture has brought us, but they seem to know innately that their immune systems are no match for modern microbes.

It's important to the Indian government that these people live unmolested, so much so that they maintain regular marine patrols to keep the curious and the otherwise motivated at bay. But apparently, Chau was able to hire some local boaters to ferry him onto North Sentinel.

It seems that the locals set upon him with bows, arrows, and spears, and used the same weapons to keep away police who approached the island to find and return Chau's body.

“The Sentinelese were watchful,” Dependra Pathak, the area’s police chief, told the New York Times. “They were patrolling the beach, at the same spot John was killed, with weapons.”

“Had we approached,” he said, “they would have attacked.”

Again with the two sides of everything: Indian law says the North Sentinel culture should be left totally alone and no outsiders are allowed there, but it also calls for murderers to be punished. 

So Chau martyred himself for the cause he lived (and died) for, and who knows what kind of good work he might have done in the future among people who were more receptive to the message he sought to bring?

Chau must have realized he was in over his head. He left behind a 13-page letter, saying in part, “I don’t want to die. Who will take my place if I do?”


And yet, in that last letter, Chau left definite instructions: “Don’t retrieve my body,” he wrote, underlining it. “This is not a pointless thing — the eternal lives of this tribe is at hand.”

If only he had realized that earlier.

Sunday, November 25, 2018

Sunday Rerun: Down in the dumps

My wedding ring has gone everywhere I have gone since it was installed on my left hand on December 8, 1973. And trust me, it's not about to come off.  It's maybe a size 8 ring on what is now a size 11 finger, so it's permanent.

I see people who are able to slide their hardware on and off their fingers, and I worry about them losing their rings (and shortly thereafter, their minds!)

So it was that Shannon Lombardo of New York City removed her carat carrier and band to clean them.  And wrapped them in a paper towel.  And threw away the paper towel.

"I had just cleaned them and I had them in a paper towel. I think I got distracted with the kids, it's hard to figure out, and I think I just crumpled it up, and I didn't feel the weight of them and I threw them out," is what she told WABC-TV.

She called 311. "I was thinking, it's New York City Sanitation, there's no way I'm ever going to be able to track down my ring. I was just very skeptical, but I had nothing left to lose."

So the Sanitation people said they would wait to pick up the trash from her apartment building while she and her husband Jim dumpster dove, to no avail. That meant a trip to Fairview, New Jersey, where New York trash is parked awaiting a trip to whatever landfill it will soon occupy.

Workers at the debris depot narrowed the search field down to 800 bags recently dumped by the truck that worked her neighborhood, and it only took an hour of pawing through stuff no one else wanted to find the two things Mr and Mrs Lombardo really did. 

Apparently, this sort of thing happens all the time in The City That Doesn't Sweep. "When it's a ring, you start to think, wow, that's a small item, but we've done it before, we're trained how to find it," Sanitation Supervisor Gabriel Moreno said.
Now, she can smile again.

Mrs Lombardo took an admirably philosophical stance. "These people went above and beyond -- amazing people," she said. "Now, that's what the ring symbolizes: that there's hope and goodness in the world, and against the odds it can happen -- even in a garbage dump."

I'm sure the Lombardos were glad that this took place in March, and not August. 

Saturday, November 24, 2018

The Saturday Picture Show, November 24, 2018

Here's a cat in a shark costume on a Roomba vac, not a Shark vac. Cats love this sort of thing.
This picture of the final moments of the Baltimore Orioles' World Series victory in 1966 was painted by Graig Kreindler. It's remarkably close to the original black and white photograph but the oil paint adds a certain extra touch.
It keeps happening. Please make it stop.
You can bet there is absolute silence in this public library in Berlin. People are probably so awestruck as to be rendered speechless.
Any good Thanksgiving leftover sandwich will a) be on a leftover dinner roll and b) contain stuffing and cranberry sauce along with the turkey.Oh yeah!
Every year, the U of Alabama meets second-rate Auburn for statewide supremacy. Later today, the Auburn Tigers will face the Alabama Crimson Tide at 3:30 PM at fabled Bryant-Denny Stadium in Tuscaloosa.  I predict an Alabama win, as always, just like I did in 2013 - and look how that turned out.
The kid who did this has clearly been raised with the right kind of feeling about right and wrong.
Outside of dreaming about eating a footlong hot dog outside the Washington Monument and falling into a hole while being chased by someone who looks like your first serious girlfriend, this picture of skydiver Felix Baumgartner being is caught by the hand of Jesus Christ in Rio de Janeiro wins the World Series of Symbolism for this year.

Friday, November 23, 2018

Black Friday rerun: The calendar makers save the prettiest pictures for this time of year!

You know it's Thanksgiving time when you're running to Mars late at night for more pie crusts, Granny Smith® apples and egg nog.

You know it's Baltimore when you say you're "going to Mars" late at night and everyone knows you're going to the grocery store, and not some distant planet.

You also know it's Baltimore when you find a parking spot at Mars and a nice lady gets out of her minivan and walks to the store with you and, as you step back to allow her to enter first, she calls you "Hon."  And she has a bumper sticker on the back of that minivan saying "Angels Are Watching Over Me."
Image result for november calendar vintage
"Thanks, Hon" is as Baltimore as the sauerkraut on our turkey dinners, the curiously adenoidal backwater 'O' sound that true natives bestow on words (to hear sportcaster Keith Mills call out baseball's Magglio Ordóñez is to hear a symphony of vowel sounds in the key of F-flat major) or the acceptance of the glee of civic leaders that it took until Thanksgiving week for the city to reach 200 homicides this year.

It's the same thing every year, and it's beyond the point of being a tired cliché to say that we are rushing around early and late, dashing to Mars or Big Lots! or the indescribable Ollie's Bargain Outlet, a chain of stores that vies annually for the shopping dollar of cheapskates such as I with the legendary Good Stuff Cheap stores, and making ready to make merry through the holidays. 

The good folks at Lifetime Movie Network and Turner Classic Movies will show you lots of celluloid examples of Rich Famous Good-Looking Actors portraying Everyday People Doing Wonderful Things, but we can't always be watching TV.

I know.  Try as I might, sometimes I have to put the remote down.

And I'm glad I do, because then I go to Mars and have a nice lady call me "hon" just because I stepped aside and allowed a lady to pass, as my father taught me to do when I was knee-high to a grasshopper, and then I read about people who give up their day off to prepare and feed a multitude of hungry, sad strangers, and then I come to work and talk to a friend who, for every holiday, rounds up this widower guy she works with and brings him home for dinner with her family.  These are the angels who are walking among us, my father included, and showing us a better way than Lifetime could ever depict.

I am fortunate and glad to have you in my life.  I know and love a lot of people, and although I wasn't blessed with a lot of talent in a lot of areas, I surely was given all the love one heart can hold. Thank you for putting with my old jokes, arcane references, bluntly-stated political opinions and did I mention, old jokes? I can't remember.  I am the luckiest man in the world, to have friends such as you, the most wonderful wife - my Peggy! - and all the joy of the holidays to share with you.

Ready?  Let's go!

Meanwhile, Happy Thanksgiving to you and yours, and thank you for meaning so much to me all year.

Thursday, November 22, 2018

Wednesday, November 21, 2018

The whole tooth

Every now and then, we see someone so seized with Holiday Fever that they do something they will regret later. Not much later, in most cases.

Like the guy who chooses the office Christmas party to tell the boss what he really thinks about some of the boss's rules and regulations...or the one who decides to plant a big smackeroo on the new coworker from Accounting.  Both of these failed plans usually come after a few sips of the dew, as they like to say, and both of them will make for sadness later, not to mention unemployment.

And the legends always sprout about the guy who cuts a hole in his ceiling so he can display, in all its yuletide glory, a 12-foot Christmas tree in a ten-foot living room.

And the less said, the better, about people who get "Super Bowl Champs!" tattoos saluting their favorite team before a game their team goes out and loses.

Now comes a warning from Mobile County, Alabama, telling us not to glue fake fangs in our mouths if we are going for Halloween as a vampire.

After Anna Tew spent three American dollars to add the phony choppers to her outfit, she came home from the revelry and went to brush her real teeth, and couldn't pry loose the store-bought fangs.

Halloween night was ruined for her. In fact, she was up until 2 AM with wire cutters and other home tools trying to remove the man-made molars.

At length, she sought professional help, winding up in the chair of Dr. John Murphy at Alabama Family Dental. Dr Murphy told WKRG TV that sometimes, imitation eyeteeth can stuck because of the natural shape of our real teeth and gums.

“He talked about drilling. They had a saw, talked about taking them off in sections, and they couldn’t numb it because they were scared they would actually pull my teeth out,” Ms Tew told the news outlet. “So he went in and picked and pulled and I squealed like a baby and they got them out.”
Anna Tew said her efforts to remove the fake teeth went on until around 2 a.m.
Demonstrating that there's no lesson like one hard-learned, Tew says she will never again use simulated teeth for comic effect.

“I will never do it again,” she told WKRG. “I will never put anything like that again in my mouth.”

Good, because she was really gonna play hell eating corn on the cob next summer.

Tuesday, November 20, 2018

It's all in the arithmetic

It was funny when Jack Benny, deep into his 60s, claimed to be 39, and who hasn't heard stories of 19-year-olds with fake IDs trying to buy beer?
Image result for bret kavanaugh mad
We're talking about you, Brett.

Between the extremes of young people wanting to be old and old people wanting to be young, most of us settle down and acknowledge our ages, even if we don't always act them.

But now and again, along comes a fool who just won't own up to how many years he owns.

Meet Emile Ratelband.  He's 69, but he claims that he identifies as 49 years old.

Oh. Well, Emile, sometimes I identify as Jerry Lee Lewis, even though the only keyboard I pound on has 26 letters instead of 88 notes.

It's better to be who you're supposed to be, and not fake an age, which is right up there with combovers and facelifts in the How Pitiable Can You Get? competition.

Not a surprise, Emile, a Dutch retiree, wants to shave off two decades so he can A) go to back to work  and B) make it with lots of women from Tinder.

Emile Ratelband identifies as 45
Yeah. You look 49 like I look like Bradley Cooper.
His arguments, which probably sounds a lot like the bloviations many will hear from funky uncles on Thanksgiving, is that if transgender people are allowed to change sex, he should be allowed to change his birth date.

After all, Emile avers, he has the body of a 45-year-old.  Doctors told him so! 

Ratelband said: "I have done a check-up and what does it show? My biological age is 45 years. When I'm 69, I am limited. If I'm 49, then I can buy a new house, drive a different car. I can take up more work. When I'm on Tinder and it say I'm 69, I don't get an answer. When I'm 49, with the face I have, I will be in a luxurious position."

So he has filed legal papers to get his local government agencies (in the city of Arnhem in the eastern Dutch province of Gelderland) to amend his age on legal documents.

The judge hearing this absurdity (he didn't mention his own age) says he understands the "if transgendered people can do it, why oh who can't I?" angle, but brings up one of his own: What about the years between 1949 (when his mother bore him) and 1969 (when he began boring us)?

Stand by for news from the Dutch courts.

Monday, November 19, 2018

Use it up!

Motorists who like to avoid Maryland's Eastern Shore traffic jam on their way to Ocean City, and the other beach resorts down that way, sometimes resort to driving through Delaware, a state known as "Speedtrap Alley" to those who have come in contact with representatives of the First State's various police agencies.

But along the way, I always noted the presence of a scrapple factory, which is where a semi-solid congealed loaf of pork scraps and trims, held together with cornmeal and flour, is packed for the breakfast-time delight of many. I always point out that there is no dumpster outside the scrapple plant. EVERYTHING goes into the scrapple!

Backyard chowhounds who love to grill over charcoal have Henry Ford to thank! And not just because their mother-in-law's aged Taurus broke down on the way to the cookout. You see, legendary cheapskate Henry Ford, back in the days of the Model T, saw that his car factories needed a lot of wood to crate parts for shipment. But he couldn't bear to see all that scrap wood go to waste, so he and an employee named Edward Kingsford developed a method to turn it into "charcoal" briquettes, which contain no coal, but have turned a nice profit for the company known as Kingsford over the years.

All this came to mind when I saw the "CBS Sunday Morning" piece about Tater Tots yesterday. That starchy morsel was created in 1953 by Nephi and Golden Grigg, two brothers who owned the Ore-Ida potato company. They needed to a way to avoid wasting all the scraps and skins after they julienned millions of spuds for French fries. So they squeezed and mashed and formed and deep-fried them, and now look at us gobble the Tots!
Image result for tater tots

The difference between us, and people like Kingsford and the Brothers Grigg, is that they look at trash and see dollar signs, whereas we look at trash and remember we were supposed to put out the garbage last night.

Sunday, November 18, 2018

Sunday Rerun: Ring it up

Image result for Alysha Orrok
Alysha Orrok

Back in the days when I was a grocery clerk, the cashier had to punch in the price of every item on a cash register and then put everything in brown paper bags. While we did that, we could look out of the cave windows and see dinosaurs and pterodactyls running around on the parking lot. 

Yes, it's been a long time since I got paid to put vienna sausages, ginger ale and Fig Newtons in bags for people. Now, if I can, I give the cashier a hand by putting my purchases in bags, but I really have to hurry, because the Cheez-Its, bottles of seltzer, and cat food really come flying down that belt, because they scan prices today and it's a lot faster than punching in the price of one can of Hawaiian Punch.

So...being Americans, we turn this into a competition, because everything here is a big contest.  Say hello to Alysha Orrok, of Portsmouth, New Hampshire. Ms Orrok is a schoolteacher who finds the energy somehow to work nights and weekends at a Hannaford Supermarket up there.

She won the state competition for the Fastest Bagger, and now is headed to the national finals. This will probably be televised on ESPN, the channel that brings you the Hot Dog Eating contest on July 4 every summer. The contest will be held in Las Vegas this February, in case you want to travel to see it. Top prize is $10,000: righteous bucks for anyone, especially someone working two jobs!

"Every time I go to the grocery store I have a big pet peeve of how groceries are packed, so I am thrilled to hear there is a competition in bagging," said one of Orrok’s regular customers, Kashka Hughes Clark (no relation, trust me).

Another of Ms Orrok's regulars, Frank Desper, was quoted by the local news up there as saying, "I don’t want my bread smashed."

And I believe Frank speaks for us all.

There is a knack to bagging groceries and it involves putting the heavy stuff on the bottom of the bags and the bread and eggs on top, and distributing the items within several bags so you don't have people walking out with a heavy bag in one hand and a light one in the other. These people are known in the grocery business as "leaners."

I think I need to make a run up to Portsmouth to see what goes on in this Hannaford store, because, well, let's let Ms Orrok say it: "When I am here, people get excited when I am bagging their groceries."

She also told the news, "My first day as a bagger I dropped a soda and it exploded everywhere."

Image result for Alysha Orrok
I'm glad I wasn't there for that.  Cleanup on register 6!

Saturday, November 17, 2018

The Saturday Picture Show, November 17m 2018: Thanksgiving Edition

Like most of us, I could go on forever about the things for which I give thanks, not only at this time of year, but, really, all year. In fact, I think that my favorite thing of all I have learned from devout friends is to be thankful for what I have, and just a look at the evening news these days is enough to tell you that if we have the following things, we are doing pretty well and ought to be doggone grateful, doggone it!

Things such as:

Health, and the medical providers who keep us in the pink:
Image result for doctor vinnie boombatz

Love, of a spouse, significant other, family, whatever...if we only have love, as the Jacques Brel song said, "Then with nothing at all, But the little we are, We'll have conquered all time, All space, the sun, and the stars."

Kindness to give and to receive:
Image result for kindness
A home to hold all that happiness, such as this one at 742 Evergreen Terrace. Note: One could live in a hollowed-out tree stump and be happy, and there are millions living in opulence, with no love to be found.
Related image
Water: It seems so simple, clear drinking water, but life is impossible without it, and just ask the unfortunate people of Flint, Michigan what it's like without it:
clear drinking glass on table
Food: I tried to show something that all of us could like here, in a Cobb Salad. Vegetarians can skip the chicken and bacon, carnivores can order more.
Image result for cobb salad
Books and internet access: It's like water for the brain; without it; the brain has no fuel. And the great thing is, our public libraries provide all this for FREE!
Image result for library internet
Life itself: Where would we be without it?
Image result for happy healthy people

Friday, November 16, 2018

Time to buy the donuts!

Related imageI once had a plan to have a "Mister Day" and then have a "City" day...I was going to start the first with breakfast at Mister Donut, visit Mr Tire for a set of rubbers for the truck, see an attorney in our town named Mr Mister about filing a frivolous lawsuit, go to Mr Tape and get a Mr Mister CD, and finish the day with dinner at Mister Steak.

Then in a week or so, I would have breakfast at Waffle City, get a new stereo for the truck at Circuit City, get some new kicks at Shoe City, and take my life in my hands by having dinner in Baltimore City!

I never got around to either of these plans, but if I get to California, I'm planning for breakfast at Donut City in Seal Beach, which is where one of those "only in America" stories "is unfolding," as they say on TV news.

As any good donut shop will do, Donut City opens at 4:30 in the yawning, and they usually stay open until 2 PM, but they will close up early if there are no more donuts to sell.

The shop has been there since 1990, owned by Cambodian immigrants Stella and John Chhan, and they are mighty popular among the local Seal Beachians, some of whom started noticing lately that Stella was not around when they stopped in for their morning dozen.

John told those who asked that Stella suffered an aneurysm in late September and was rehabbing in a nursing home, and he added that he went there every day after he sold all the donuts and cleaned up.

“Days went by and I just couldn’t get it out of my head,” customer Dawn Caviola told the Orange County Register. “So I thought, if enough people would buy a dozen doughnuts every morning, he could close early and go be with his wife.”

Caviola took to social media to post her idea: let's buy up all the crullers so John can get out of there earlier. The next day, the line was out the door by 6 AM and it's been that way ever since.

When the Washington Post called Chhan the other day at 8 California time. he said, “We’re done for today. Sold out about a half-hour ago. A lot of people come in and buy three, four, five dozen.”

That day, Chhan told the Post he sold 50 dozen doughnuts.

Jenee Rogers, a regular Donut Citizen for 20 years, told the paper that the Chhans are “humble, smiling people.” and that they declined an offer of a GoFundMe page for their benefit.

John Chhan was cleaning up when the Post contacted him, on his way to see his wife. He said they came from Cambodia together in the late 1970s and bought the donut shop in 1990.

After Stella's aneurysm, she couldn't speak, or move around well, John said, but now she is on the mend. “She’s getting better and better,” he said.

And he had to interrupt his conversation with the Post reporter several times to tell customers he was already sold out.  And he said how thankful he is for what his customers are doing for him and Stella.

“I so appreciate it,” he said. “I just can’t say enough thank you and thank you.”

Thursday, November 15, 2018

"There comes a time in every young man's life, and I've had plenty of them" - Casey Stengel

The airport around here is between Baltimore and Washington; it was called Friendship Airport back in the day when people really flew the friendly skies. But it was changed to Baltimore-Washington International Airport to better reflect its location, and then the name was updated to
Baltimore Washington International (BWI) Thurgood Marshall Airport to honor the Baltimore-born Associate Justice of the Supreme Court who was the first African-American to sit on that bench.

Justice Marshall was raised in Baltimore by his father, a railroad porter, and his mother, a teacher,  to have an inquisitive mind and search for the truth.

Incidentally, they named him "Thoroughgood," but he shortened his name while in the second grade in order to simplify it. That's the sort of thinking that sent him to the top of his profession, where he left a legacy of justice for all.

I don't know where Ryan Moore was born. Ryan is 22, and as Casey Stengel would say, in ten years he's got a chance to be 32, but he might want to make some changes of his own along the way.

I say that because Ryan was arrested for trying to pack a piece on a plane at the BWI Thurgood Marshall Airport recently. He had a .40 caliber rifle in his luggage. He didn't say why.
Image result for tsa
Actually, this happens more than you might think, people trying to get their guns on the 747. The Transportation Security Administration saw the gun in Ryan's luggage on their X-ray machine, making him the 20th fool this year to try this.

There's still time to catch the 2017 record of 26 firearms snagged by vigilant TSA folks at our airport!

Moore, who has been charged with illegally possessing a firearm, violating airport security procedure and having a weapon in the airport, offered the worst excuse that a 22-year old male could possibly come up with.

He said his mother packed his suitcase for him.

At that age, I would have said I had been kidnapped by gerbils before admitting to that.

Pack your own socks, son.

Wednesday, November 14, 2018

Small town news

I love old vaudeville jokes, and tell them endlessly, like the one about the small town where the population always stays the same because "every time a woman gets pregnant, a man leaves town."

I know you're out there; I can hear you breathing!

Anyway, it was almost like that in the teeny tiny town of Ruso, North Dakota, where the town almost lost their incorporation this year.  In that state, a town needs a town council of at least three people, and Bruce Lorenz, who was the mayor of Ruso for more than 30 years, passed away in the summer, leaving two citizens (Terry and Laurinda Roloson) alive.

Ruso's population swelled to 141 in 1910, but the last business in operation there was a grain elevator which has been out of business since 1956.

In this town, if you're alive, you're automatically on the town council. Pretty cool deal. And Laurinda says they want to keep the town going for Bruce's sake, so they convened a meeting of everyone who lives there in a booth at Denny's and figured out the plan.

Laurinda Roloson will be the town auditor, meaning that she will be dealing with disbursing the $154.95 the town receives from the state every year. (That's Ruso's share of coal conversion and severance taxes, highway tax, oil and gasoline tax and state aid. Ruso has no property tax.)

"We use the money for snow removal. We don't get plowed out by anybody," said Laurinda.

And, there was a position for Laurinda's husband Terry! He is going to continue to serve as council member. And it turns out that Greg and Michelle Schmaltz, who have had a post office box in the town while building a house, count as residents as well! Newcomer Greg was appointed mayor!

The Schmaltzes currently reside in Velva (population 1,234), but who wants to live in a city teeming with people like that? Hizzoner Mayor Schmaltz says that by the end of this month, with the septic tank and sewer work all done on their house, and the dish antenna mounted, he and Michelle will be fulltime Rusoneans, thereby doubling the town's head count to four.

"Other people have expressed interest in moving out there. We don't want things to slow down," remarked Schmaltz, seeming unworried about his town becoming the victim of urban sprawl. "I'm about preserving what little is left of Ruso. I'm proud of being out there."

"Everybody gives me a hard time about becoming mayor," laughed Schmaltz. "I'm not even sure what to say. We'll just go ahead and take it one step at a time and take it from there. I don't claim any politician status."

Where have we heard that before?

Tuesday, November 13, 2018

For Pete's sake

I'm not about to defend the joke that Pete Davidson made at the expense of (now-)Congressman-elect Dan Crenshaw last week on Saturday Night Live.  Pete himself seems to realize it was a bad joke, and instead of retreating behind a wall of press agents, he sat there on the Update this week and took it right back, with an apology to Crenshaw and a chance for Crenshaw to fire back, which he did with pretty good accuracy.

And they didn't stop there with the apology. Crenshaw was a Navy SEAL who lost his eye in Afghanistan, and Pete, until his celebrated short romance with Ariana Grande, was best known as the young guy on SNL whose firefighter father was killed on 9/11.  And they made a sincere talk about the need for unity at a time when this country needs it more than ever.

First, though, if you need to see the tale of how the whole sad story evolved, check it here.

I think Crenshaw made a lot of sense when he said, "I want us to get away from this culture where we demand an apology every time someone misspeaks" after pointing out that our veterans "probably don't feel as though their wounds they received in battle should be the subject of a bad punchline."

And Davidson met that with," I mean this from the bottom of my heart. It was a poor choice of words. The man is a war hero, and he deserves all the respect in the world." The comedian added, "And if any good came of this, maybe it was that for one day, the left and the right finally came together to agree on something. That I'm a d---."

And then the professional comic sat back and let the politician throw figurative water balloons at him, getting in jibes about Davidson's looks and so forth and even using an Ariana tune for Crenshaw's ringtone. All in good humor, all taken like two mature men.

And then, Crenshaw made more sense than I've heard from anyone lately: "There's a lot of lessons to learn here. Not just that the left and right can still agree on some things. But also, this: Americans can forgive one another." He mentioned the sacrifice both of military veterans and "those we lost on 9/11, heroes like Pete's father."

Let's try to remember what Congressman-elect Crenshaw said: "We can remember what brings us together as a country and still see the good in each other."


Monday, November 12, 2018

Veterans Day

Image result for thanks veterans

Yesterday was the anniversary of the armistice ending World War I, and today is the holiday for many people in observance of the day. I heard a great idea, and that is, instead of just enjoying today as a day to buy a Dodge at unheard-of discounts or get in on the all-you-can-eat deal at Star Spangled Spaghetti, why not actually call or email or text or greet in person an actual veteran and thank them for doing their service to America?

I like the idea and I am going to do it. Enjoy the holiday, if you have one, and add some meaning to it by actually extending some appreciation to a man or woman who served.


Sunday, November 11, 2018

Sunday Rerun: The Other Simpsons

More than 95 million American television viewers, and over three dozen Canadians, were watching live coverage on Friday, June 17, 1994, as a former football hero led Los Angeles police on a merry freeway chase before finally surrendering at his home. That day had started with LAPD calling Simpson's lawyer and telling him to have OJ surrender to face charges in the murder of his wife and her guy friend.  And after an eight-hour chase, it ended with Simpson surrendering, after which he was allowed to a) use the bathroom in his home  b) call his mother and c) drink a glass of OJ.

Really.  They do things differently out west.

A.C. drove O.J. around L.A. in this

A.C. drove O.J. around L.A. in this

Readers who are new to this entire saga - and no matter how amateurishly the police investigation and prosecution were conducted, please don't forget that Nicole Simpson and Ronald Goldman were murdered - may be surprised to find the name Kardashian involved. The pre-pneumatic version of Kim Kardashian was 13 at the time as her father, lawyer and "longtime Simpson friend" Robert Kardashian, made his way in front of the cameras to read a statement from the disgraced running back that said, "Don't feel sorry for me. I've had a great life, great friends. Please think of the real O.J. and not this lost person. Thanks for making my life special. I hope I helped yours. Peace and love. O.J."

They do things differently out west.

When O.J. finally surrendered, the police found his passport, a change of underwear, and a fake mustache and beard in the car.

The car (California tags 3DHY503) was not his. It belonged to his buddy A.C. Cowlings, who sold it to a consortium of sports memorabilia exhibitors.  Persons interested in seeing a car used in the commission of a crime have been able to gawk at the Bronco at the Luxor Hotel in Las Vegas. where it "appeared" along with the 1999 Women's World Cup trophy and Marcus Allen's 1981 Heisman trophy. Also, it was on display at the Brant Foundation Arts Center in Greenwich, Connecticut.

Simpson's agent, one Mike Gilbert, continues his work even as his client cools his heels at the Lovelock Correctional Center in Nevada following his 2008 conviction in Nevada for robbery and kidnapping. He was sentenced to 33 years in prison and will be eligible for parole in October of this year.

You do the math.

And there are plans afoot to lend the escape vehicle to the Alcatraz East Crime Museum in Pigeon Forge, Tennessee.

Between the time of O.J.'s apprehension and the trial, there was a deal struck to  sell the car to another entity. "But we found out that the company was going to rent the vehicle to a company in L.A. called Grave Line Tours, that visited famous graves," Gilbert told ESPN. "They were going to re-enact the chase with the Bronco and then take people to Nicole's grave. (emphasis mine.) The trial hadn't taken place yet, and we didn't want people thinking anyone associated with O.J. did this."

They really do things differently out there.

Saturday, November 10, 2018

The Saturday Picture Show, November 10, 2018

Confucius ran out of things to say a long time ago, and our valiant fortune cookie producers have made up for that. No matter. I always open my cookie and claim that my fortune reads, "Help! I'm a prisoner in a Chinese bakery!"
I know I'm in the minority here, but I am a fan of rainy chilly days in autumn.
I've always wanted to go to England, if only to return and have people ask if we saw the White Cliffs of Dover, thus giving me the opportunity to reply, "See them? We had dinner with them on Wednesday!"
You've heard of chestnuts roasting on an open fire, but here they are! Ever had some? They are great!
Everything about this picture says, "Crisp!"
There are people who will make a pillow of the shirts that loved ones leave behind. Touching, if a little eerie.
We've all seen cats with cat designs on their back, so here's a dog with a dog on his ear.
This was always the coolest stocking stuffer! It looked like a book and it was full of Life Savers!

Friday, November 9, 2018

Fly me from the moon

Every now and again, you get to meet one of "those" people - people who believe earth is flat, that there were no moon landings, ET might just be real and come to earth in his flying saucer.

And even though we think of NASA scientists as a button-up bunch, the sort of people who wear short-sleeved dress shirts with clip-on ties and tie clasps that are actually tiny slide rules, it turns out that maybe some of them have a bit of a sense of humor!

File:Pair of Vintage "Slide Rule" Tie Bars (9613422291).jpg
Nerd alert! Nerd alert!

What happened was, NASA posted an image of what they called a "crashed flying saucer from out of space"!

And they weren't kidding!

Not at all. They said that the otherwordly object in the Utah desert had been ‘tracked by radar and chased by helicopters’.

They didn't mention "little green men" or alien corpses found among the smashed-up wreck.

Hmmmm. What are they hiding?  Every skeptic knows that little green men hop out of alien spacecraft, chirping, "Take me to your leader."

I just thought of our leader posing for a picture with Sonny Spaceman.
Image result for trump with alien
No, what it was, was no space mystery. It was a sort of flying saucer, namely the Genesis sample return spacecraft.

That was a capsule that NASA hurled into the sky in 2001 to study the Sun, and while it did return with samples including solar wind particles and some very nice sunburn ointments, it came to Earth landing with a big bang theory. Its parachutes didn't open, and you know the rest. –

NASA says, "Despite the crash landing, many return samples remained in good enough condition to analyse. So far, Genesis-related discoveries include new details about the composition of the Sun and how the abundance of some types of elements differ across the Solar System."

I remember asking a dude once what was the point of spending a million gazillion bucks to go to distant planets, and he told me that besides the thrill of playing golf on the moon, NASA gave us digital timers, Tang the powdered "orange" drink, and Corningware.

And clever tie clasps, don't forget.