Thursday, January 31, 2019

Donnie Wahlberg's wife is not a trusted source of medical advice

Measles vaccine was introduced in this country in 1963. By 1970, our public health officials were able to declare the disease eradicated.

Now, in the Northwest US, people are scrambling to stop a measles outbreak from spreading further.  35 people in Oregon and Washington State have come down with the measles since the first of the year, and 11 more cases are suspected.

The people coming down with measles are mainly under 10 years of age, the children of people who, for reasons best known to themselves, have refrained from having their children vaccinated against a disease that can result in severe complications, such as pneumonia (lung infection) and encephalitis (swelling of the brain). It can result in death. Perhaps one out of every 20 children with measles gets pneumonia, which is the most common cause of measles-related death in young children.

But, people are turning down the chance to save their children from such dire consequences because Jenny McCarthy and other Hollywood luminaries told them to.

The problem with the vaccination rate of Clark County, Washington being 78% is that is well below the percentage required to shield people with compromised immune systems, or people unable to receive the vax because of legitimate medical reasons, or the simple fact that they are too young.

Dr. Alan Melnick, Clark County public health director, says that people are getting bad information from social media.

"What keeps me up at night is eventually having a child die from this completely preventable situation," he said. "It's still out there, even though it's been debunked, that the measles vaccine results in autism. That's nonsense."

("But Doctor, all you did was go to medical school! And my best friend's sister's boyfriend's brother's girlfriend heard from this guy who knows this kid who's going with the girl who saw Ferris pass out at 31 Flavors last night. I guess it's pretty serious.")

Dr Melnick, a man who knows what he is speaking of, tells us that before mass vaccination came to be, 400 to 500 people in the United States died of the measles every year, 50,000 people were hospitalized and 4,000 people developed the type of brain swelling that can cause deafness.

In this latest outbreak. there were almost 50 locations where people could have been exposed, from the Portland Airport to a Trail Blazers game.  Since measles had not been eradicated in other parts of the world, people coming from other areas can bring it here with them, where unvaccinated people become ill.

In this case, 31 of the confirmed patients had not been been given measles vaccination.

And this adds to last year's 17 outbreaks, and 350 confirmed cases of a disease that we once had conquered, only to have people who don't know what they're talking about talk others out of it.

Ah. America.

Wednesday, January 30, 2019

Tom foolery

There came a time when we had to take my grandfather's car keys away, and it was sad, but he was a danger to himself and to others on the road, so we ran errands and took him and my grandmother where they needed to go and it all worked out for the better.

That scenario, which has been played out in millions of families over the years, comes to mind when I see Tom Brokaw and his latest televised fiasco.

He is known now as "NBC News special correspondent and former NBC Nightly News anchor Tom Brokaw," a nod to his anchorman emeritus status, and he appeared on "Meet The Press" this Sunday and made remarks about Hispanic assimilation, and those comments set off a backlash.

The panel was talking about all the hassling about building a wall along the U.S.-Mexico border, Brokaw chose to say this, rather than remaining silent and letting people think he still had all his marbles: "On the Republican side, a lot of people see the rise of an extraordinary, important new constituent in American politics, Hispanics, who will come here and all be Democrats. Also, I hear, when I push people a little harder, 'Well, I don’t know whether I want brown grandbabies.' I mean, that’s also a part of it. It’s the intermarriage that is going on and the cultures that are conflicting with each other."

He did not give the name of any people who had spoken in such hateful terms to him.

AND THEN, as if he hadn't already stuck both Weejuns in his mouth, he persisted: "I also happen to believe that the Hispanics should work harder at assimilation. That’s one of the things I’ve been saying for a long time. You know, they ought not to be just codified in their communities but make sure that all their kids are learning to speak English, and that they feel comfortable in the communities. And that’s going to take outreach on both sides, frankly."

PBS correspondent Yamiche Alcindor was on the panel and she answered this way: "I grew up in Miami, where people speak Spanish, but their kids speak English. And the idea that we think America can only speak English, as if Spanish and other languages wasn’t always part of America, is, in some ways, troubling.

I'm not going to pretty this up in any way. Right away, as soon as Brokaw got home and put his slippers on, here came the tweeted apologia: "i feel terrible a part of my comments on Hispanics offended some members of that proud culture."

And then he tweeted over and over again, culminating with this attempt at speaking in street patois:

As of this time (Monday morning) there has been no comment from NBC as to whether they still think it's a good idea to allow Brokaw to make appearances on news discussion shows. 

I don't have a nickel in the matter, but I think it's time to take his keys.

Tuesday, January 29, 2019

Built Ford tough

It's often been said that there is no greater fool than a fool with a smartphone.

All right, so I'm the one who says it often. It's still true! And here's just the latest example of Americans who get cheesed off about something and vent their vitriol on THE WRONG PERSON!

This comes up all the time, someone gets mad at the president and tweets about it to Donald Trump  - the one who lives in Danvers, Wyoming and does not have orange skin or Strawman hair. Or they don't like a joke that Steve Harvey made and they choose one of the other 27 Steve Harveys in the phone book to holler at.

In this case, the object of disrespect is Dee Ford, a rather large man who plays linebacker for the Kansas City Chiefs. The fact that he went to Auburn University should in no way be used to disparage him. Lots of people play there when they aren't quite good enough to play for Alabama, the superior college in the great state of Alabama.

So Ford was playing in the AFC Conference Championship against the loathsome New England Patriots, and when he lined up offside on a crucial play, the resulting penalty nullified an interception, giving the Patriots the chance to win the game and go play in this Sunday's Super Bowl.

Game over for the Chiefs, and that's that, right?  Nope. Irate Chiefs fans decide to tweet Dee Ford about how upset they are.

Except they got the wrong person entirely. "@DeeFord" on Twitter is Dee Ford, a woman from Gillingham, Kent, England, and she was exactly 4,373 miles offside that night - the distance between KC MO and Kent.

She is used to this; the first time she got a tweetbarrage from the USA was when football Dee did something else boneheaded while still wearing the orange and blue of Auburn.

             Dee Ford                                         Dee Ford

"The phone was going off literally nonstop," Ms Ford told the Kansas City Star. "Some of the things were quite vicious. The things they're saying - he doesn't deserve it."

In fact, after that first time of getting misdirected tweets, she befriended the hapless Ford, and met him and his family when the Chiefs played a game in England.

Here are some of her charming responses to the non-charming tweets that overflowed her inbox: 

I’m not sure I will. You enjoy summer though. Perhaps read a nice, calming book or something until Dee takes you back to the best game you’ve had in 49 years?

I haven't forgiven you @dee_ford. You ain't getting off this easy. Hope you suffer the entire summer knowing u let your team down.

No, Barry, we’re not with you, we’re not.

Sanders Barry
@dee_ford Listen man Brady knew you were offside the ball wouldnt have gone there if he didnt have a free play so you didnt cancel up an int cause it wouldnt have happened if you werent offside in the first with me?
Ms Ford has 5,500 followers and here is what she said to them after this latest goofiness:

 "I just wanted to say, that over the past week, I have had the kindest, funniest, most wonderful tweets. Despite the nasty ones, the nice ones have far outweighed them. A few amazing Auburn and Chiefs people have made time to DM and make sure I'm ok, and have made me laugh to the point of happy tears, particularly those in the #AUfamily."

And she says this of the American Dee Ford: "He's genuinely one of the nicest people. He's always been good about this. He's a really humble young man."

As someone who is often mistaken for Bradley Cooper, I understand how she feels.

Monday, January 28, 2019

Hot Dog!

My fair and frantic Baltimore, to paraphrase Earl Leaf, becomes the most frantic when our food is involved - specifically, if one of our favorite comestibles is taken away from us.

And now we are losing two of our beloved foods!

If you haven't heard about this, I hope you're sitting down, eating a hot dog.  Chances are, it's not an Esskay Oriole frank, a local favorite around here for many a year, because they ain't making them no more.

The name Esskay goes a long way back here, back to 1919 William when William Schluderberg and Thomas Kurdle merged their meatpacking plants to form Esskay Meats. S-K, OK?

And all was fine until Esskay was bought out by Smithfield Meats, and now Smithfield will only produce Esskay brand deli meats and chipped beef. They sold their hotdogs under the Oriole logo and did great business for years.

To be quite honest, we switched to Nathan's here at the Lazy 'C' Ranch a couple of years ago, because they looked so tasty on the Fourth of July.
Image result for nathan's hot dog contest

“Our organization has made the difficult decision to discontinue Esskay hotdogs,” said Chad McFadden, Esskay brand manager for Smithfield Foods, in an email to the Baltimore Sun. He went on to say that Esskay frankfurters represent less than 1 percent of the volume of the company’s packaged meats. And based on that, maybe it wasn't all that difficult a decision, but we'll miss them at the ballpark.

Maybe the Orioles will start having Nathan's hot dogs at Oriole Park!

And for another bygone treat, remember getting those little candy hearts at Valentine's Day? Oh man, I remember them!

Image result for candy hearts

But I never saw this brand.  The ones I got had slogans such as NO and NEVER IN A MILLION YEARS and GET AWAY FROM ME, I MEAN IT!

But they still tasted just as sweet, and didn't even begin to dampen my ardor.

Because what good is dampened ardor?

The deal with the candy hearts is that they will return to your favorite store next year.  It's all involved with the sale of their manufacturer, New England Confectionery Company, makers of the dreaded NECCO wafer - the only candy that is also suitable for use as poker chips.

The company that bought the candy hearts line from NECCO is also the company that makes Dum-Dum Pops, but they didn't acquire the brand until September, and that did not leave them enough time to meet this year's candy heart demands.

Give your love a Dum-Dum! Just don't call him or her "Dum-Dum" or else you'll be sad-sad.

Sunday, January 27, 2019

Sunday Rerun: All A Twitter

According to an article I read, Kevin Jonas of the Jonas Brothers, a pop rock band that never quite managed to find a place on my iPod, is sitting on a fortune of 18 million semolians, none of which he earned selling me CDs or concert tickets or anything else he had to peddle.

So, since $18,000,000 might not be enough to keep him in the sort of unusual clothing and hair product he favors, he has entered into a new commercial venture, commercializing his life by selling sponsorships of his tweets.

Young Jonas and his ex-hairdresser wife recently welcomed a baby they named Alena Rose into this crazy old world.  Millions of babies are born around the world every day, but very few of these births are accompanied by messages on Twitter reminding other young parents to wash the kids' swaddling clothes with a certain detergent that is paying this fellow and his wife cash money to intermingle their blessed event with a cheap payday.

He would want me to mention the name of the detergent here.

It got me to thinking.  Not that I am of a commercial-type mind, but what if my parents had decided to commemorate the important events in my young life with tie-ins to brands, services and products?  As the impressionists would say, I think it would go something like this...

My first letter home from a teacher (the one in which Mrs Reed alleged that I viewed every classroom as my personal stage) would be brought to you by BIC, the pen that writes first time, every time.

The first huge gooey pink bubble that I blew would be sponsored by Bazooka Joe and all the good people over at Dubble Bubble, whose tiny cartoon inserts provided me with jokes and gags that I use to this day ("I can always tell you the score of a ballgame before it begins - Nothing to nothing!")

Sponsorship of my first shaving experience would go to Band-Aid and English Leather.  Other sponsors lining up to cash in on my teen days would include the makers of Tackle!, an acne preparation that made its users smell like the vast chemical warehouses of Linden, NJ, and the producers of National Beer and Boone's Farm Apple Wine, which we counted as a fruit for our diet choices.

Plymouth, makers of the first car I owned, and the Hot-Shotz Corporation, makers of the jumper cables that I always carried so I could get the Plymouth started, would certainly leap at the chance to advertise on my tweets, had there been such a thing back in the days before the Jonas Bros. started doing whatever it is that they do.

One last tie-in - the various makers of Canadian bacon can slide in on this ad...the one that says I would have breakfast with Michael Buble for five days in a row before I would read another story about any Jonas brother.

Saturday, January 26, 2019

The Saturday Picture Show, January 26, 2019

This is the sort of thing that people find out about pets when they open their hearts to them.  You might remember a book about a library where a stray cat showed up and became the house cat for years, beloved by many. His name was Dewey as well (for the Decimal System).
Remember these from art class? Was there a kid in your class who got confused about the word "gum" on there?
For my friends who live in warm climates and never get to play with snow, this is a classic American snowman!
 This is an example of the school of art and painting known as "hyperrealism," which is Latin for "I don't have a camera."
 It's true - they really are cute when they're young!
 I believe this to be a 1952 Chevrolet Fleetline Deluxe sedan. I don't know if it careered off a roadway and dug itself its own grave, or if someone dragged it here. The driver, Prince Philip, was unable to say what happened.
 What on earth is prettier than what's on earth?
This 1956 CinemaScope classic featured Mariska Hargitay's mother, along with Tom Ewell, so that maybe people would think it was like his previous movie "The Seven-Year Itch," but Jayne Mansfield was no Marilyn Monroe.  The eponymous theme song was done by Little Richard and it's worth the price just to hear him sing it!

Friday, January 25, 2019

As the nosy landlady said, "I heard a roomer"

When my father reached his dotage, he was still holding up pretty well for someone well into his 80s.

But one thing that went afoul for him was his hearing.  He used to say that he could no longer hear high-pitched, annoying sounds, like the little hourly chirp on his digital watch, and the phone ringing, and being called to do something when all he wanted to do was read his newspaper.

He made hearing loss a gain! Who wants to be disturbed by shrieks, human or otherwise?

And now comes news of a woman named Chen over in sunny China. She has a hearing disorder that is making her the envy of women all over the world: she can no longer hear men’s voices.

Forbes reports that she woke up one day and just couldn't hear her boyfriend speak.

There is a name for this, and I see lots of you looking it up right now. Google "reverse slope hearing loss" and find out that it means she can't hear low frequencies, such as male voices, and the sound of  – which includes the average male voice, Forbes reports.

“She was able to hear me when I spoke to her, but when a young male patient walked in, she couldn’t hear him at all,” said Chen's doctor, Lin Xiaoqing.
Image result for ear
It can be a genetic thing, just as if your parents didn't have any children, you can't either. But doctors who know stuff tell us that reverse slope hearing loss could also come from stress and not getting enough sleep.  And being stressed over not getting enough sleep.

Chen has been told that her condition is temporary and she should recover fully. She knows that because a female doctor told her so.

I'm notifying my HMO that a large contingent of female patients will soon descend upon their physicians' offices, complaining of not hearing a word their husbands are yakking.

Thursday, January 24, 2019

I say! Bit of an accident here, jolly well.

The New Yorker has long had a tradition of printing small stories about crazy life in the British Isles under the headline "There Will Always Be An England Dept."

It's also obvious that there will always be a Prince Philip, from the looks of things.

He's 97, the husband of Queen Elizabeth, now known fully as Prince Philip, Duke of Edinburgh, having been born Prince Philip of Greece and Denmark.

But he's 97, so maybe he shouldn't be driving. 

On January 17, he pulled his Range Rover out of a side road, into the path of a car occupied by Emma Fairweather, her friend (the driver) and the driver's daughter, a 9-month old baby boy.  The picture below shows the detritus left behind.

Other aftermath of the crash: As of this writing, Ms Fairweather, who suffered a broken wrist, is still waiting for an apology from the royal family.  And Phil is out driving again in a brand-new Range Rover, and doing so without using his seat belt.

The scene near to the Sandringham Estate where Britain's Prince Philip was involved in a road accident in Sandringham, England.
"I'm lucky to be alive and he hasn’t even said sorry," Ms Fairweather told a London paper. "It has been such a traumatic and painful time and I would have expected more of the royal family."

Prince Philip of Britain was involved in a traffic accident Jan. 17. A woman who was injured says he has yet to apologize.

"It could have been so much worse," Fairweather went on. "Prince Philip apparently said to a witness that it was the sun that dazzled him, but I can’t see how that could be true when it was overcast.”

What seems worse is that last week, Buckingham Palace  said Philip and the queen had privately contacted the people in the crash and exchanged good wishes. Fairweather says that did not happen.

"I still haven't had any contact from the royal household," she told the paper. "Maybe he should prioritize that over test-driving his new car."

It's nice to see that England has the same problem we have over here with the superannuated refusing to give up driving, even though they are way past expiration date for piloting several tons of metal on roads occupied by others, while dealing with deficits in attention, vision, hearing and reflex.

To be honest, some 97-year-olds are still sharp as tacks. Some aren't. But here in Maryland, every time some legislator even dreams of submitting a law for consideration which would require people over a certain age to be re-tested every so often, the Gray Lobby rears its gray head and beats the measure down to defeat.

And then they drive home, hoping that some geezer doesn't pull out on them and send them to the emergency room.

Very simple: if you're old, please show that you're still competent to drive. If you pass, keep driving! If not, call a cab.

Wednesday, January 23, 2019

Where does the time go?

It was baseball great Satchel Paige who advised us, "Don't look back: something might be gaining on you."

And he had an elementary school named for him in Kansas City!

It's been interesting to see this latest internet fad, the "10 year challenge."  It's also sometimes called the "How hard has aging hit you?" challenge, and the deal, obviously enough, is to dig out a picture of yourself from 2009 and another from this year so we can all see how the passage of time has made you look.

There is a scientific theory that if you throw decks of cards in the air enough times, eventually you will wind up with two equal piles of cards at your feet. (And then what will you do?)  

By this, I mean that after enough people are given this challenge, a certain amount of people will show pictures of themselves that will make people go, "WOW! You look better than ever! The years have been so kind!"

And there will be those who have lost most of their hair, gained 247 lbs, and gotten swastikas tattooed on their foreheads, in contrast to 2009, when they looked like the young Ryan O'Neal.

Time is good to some of us, and harsh on others, and I don't think it's a big deal. As someone with a 50-year high school reunion coming up, I can look back and see plenty of people I knew well who no longer walk this earth with us, so a few less hairs or a few more gray ones shouldn't be such a big dadburned deal.

Celebrate you!  Be proud of yourself and love yourself and think about gifts for Mariah Carey on her next birthday (#50 on March 27): a calendar and a watch. Time may be something she does not acknowledge, but I think it's time she learned.

Tuesday, January 22, 2019

The razor's edge

Now that the War On Christmas is ever, the first shots are being fired in the War On Masculinity.

I'm being facetious, as always. Some super-Christians stir that nonsense every year about there being a war on Christmas, citing as reasons a perfectly sensible policy among merchants of wishing customers a happy holiday, rather than a Merry Christmas, and an equally sensible rule against displays of religious symbolism (e.g. nativity scenes) on public property.

That's simmered down now until November. Remember someone defining America as "325 million people in search of something to be mad about"?  Now it's a razor commercial that's got them all worked up!

Gillette has this new commercial on TV that encourages the end of toxic masculinity, and some people are finding that bothersome.

I don't know if that's just a reflexive reaction to a commercial that shows men leering at women and grabbing them without permission.

I know, when you're a star, they have to let you do it.  But for the average man, these things are not all right. The test is to check and see if that sort of behavior is ok when someone does it to your sister...or mother...or wife.  Not good.

The commercial shows men laughing at pantomimes of sexual assault, and kids teasing an epicene kid. Those are examples of bad behavior. But it also shows men being good fathers to daughters, actor and former football player Terry Crews, saying, “Men need to hold other men accountable," and random men breaking up fights.  Those are good things.

There's an old expression: "A guilty conscience needs no accuser."  It seems to me that the men getting their knickers in a knot over a razor commercial that shows boorishness, assault, and ungentlemanly comportment might be showing their hands.

If I see on the news that the police are searching for some guy who robbed a bank or ran over a pedestrian and drove away, I'm not going to start hollering about robbing banks and making bowling pins of people walking down the street should be acceptable. I'm not involved so I don't react personally.
Image result for gillette ad
Mona Charen, a conservative writer, said the commercial is valuable because "Some men are behaving really badly — harassing women, bullying each other, and failing in their family responsibilities."  If you can deny those things, then maybe it's time to reassess what you see in society.

Those who find the commercial annoying might be saying that they think it's ok to do the things portrayed in it. I hope not, though. It's never wrong to act like a gentleman.

Monday, January 21, 2019

Carefully Taught

By now we've all seen the video and seen the comments about the jejune actions of some students from a Northern Kentucky Catholic high school at a rally in Washington on Saturday. Church and school leaders, along with federal and state leaders are condemning the way the "kids" treated an honorable Native American in Washington, D.C.

In the video, we saw a young man sporting a Make America Great Again hat crowding the man, who just happens to be a Viet Nam war veteran. But in order to intimidate the veteran, the youngster got right up in his grille and flashed the sort of cocky grin that just begs for adjustment by a process other than orthodontia, if you're with me here.

And don't think this coarse youth acted alone; he was egged on by his squad of red-hatted galoots.

Covington Catholic High School in Park Hills and the Diocese of Covington(KY) were quick to apologize for the behavior of their students, pointing out that “the behavior is opposed to the church’s teachings on the dignity and respect of the human person.”

The students had been sent to DC to take part in the March For Life, but failed to apprehend the point of life itself, especially, the part about being decent to people already born. After they marched to protest a woman's right to choose, they chose to crash the Indigenous Peoples March and bother Native Americans.

The Indigenous Peoples March put out a statement saying the bad boys from Covington were among over 30 others who "aggressively surrounded” Native American elder Nathan Phillips on the steps of the Lincoln Memorial.
Image result for native american elder
To their credit, Covington Catholic and the Diocese of Covington offered their “deepest apologies," adding, "The matter is being investigated and we will take appropriate action, up to and including expulsion. We know this incident also has tainted the entire witness of the March for Life and express our most sincere apologies to all those attended the March and all those who support the pro-life movement.”

Two things, as we wait for the field trip to end and the school to take their promised action:

  • We will undoubtedly hear (in fact, we already have) from apologists and conservatives who will claim that "the boys were just funnin' around with the old Indian." You will note that these are the same people who lost their shift about disrespecting veterans when Colin Kaepernick took a knee, and who now don't mind that Elder Phillips fought in a war for this country, only to come back and be humiliated by childish children.
  • Please remember the song "You've Got To Be Carefully Taught," from the Rodgers and Hammerstein play "South Pacific."  I'll put the words right here: 
You've got to be taught to hate and fear
You've got to be taught from year to year
It's got to be drummed in your dear little ear
You've got to be carefully taught

[Verse 2]
You've got to be taught to be afraid
Of people whose eyes are oddly made
And people whose skin is a diff'rent shade
You've got to be carefully taught

[Verse 3]
You've got to be taught before it's too late
Before you are six or seven or eight
To hate all the people your relatives hate
You've got to be carefully taught.


Sunday, January 20, 2019

Sunday Rerun: Back before there was Giant or Safeway or 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.

Image result for rolling hoops
Rolling Hoops
And then, if the almost-expired chicken doesn't sell in the rotisserie reincarnation, the deli guy shreds it for chicken salad.

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

Dizzy Dog
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.

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, January 19, 2019

The Saturday Picture Show. January 19, 2019

There's a certain poignancy to this, the attempt a homeless person is making toward having their domicile under a highway bridge seem a little more like home. Let's hope for better for them this year.
I imagine a lot of farmers do this to make the most of the available arable land on their spread. It's actually pretty cool to have not only the "back 40" but also the "side 40."
See the protective look on mama bear?  You should!
This is a very cool looking ski chalet, and it's all good unless you need to carry a sofa up there.
Here's the caption from the picture I found, because I'm too busy drooling..."Sometimes also called a ‘fry-up’, the full English breakfast consists of fried eggs, sausages, back bacon, tomatoes, mushrooms, fried bread and often a slice of white or black pudding (similar to bloodwurst). It is accompanied by tea or coffee and hot, buttered toast. These days, breakfast may also include other items such as baked beans and hash browns."
The name of the current Secretary of Homeland Security is Kirstjen Nielsen.  You would think that people at the White House, where she recently attended a meeting, would know that.
I have a friend who collect pictures of these anthropomorphic entities: pictures of things that look like humans, but are not. Here's one for those of you who wish to start your own collection.
You may be the richest guy in the world and you may have invented the very operating system that runs this hamburger stand, but you will still wait in line patiently behind Jimbo here, who is counting his money to make sure he can supersize his fries.

Friday, January 18, 2019

One for the books

I've kept pretty quiet about this Marie Kondo deal going around, up until now.

Marie is a Japanese woman who goes around promoting the value of getting things all tidied up. She wrote a book in 2011 called "The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up: The Japanese Art of Decluttering and Organizing."

And I can understand why the Japanese have to be decluttered. They live on an island of 145,936 square miles, as opposed to, say, Texas, where the stars at night are big and bright over 268,597 square miles.  So yes, they don't have a lot of extra space in Japan.

But as I say, up until now, I have humored her efforts at having every fold their fitted sheets (as if!) and organizing their spice racks. It's fine. It's her life. She seems to be dealing with some sort of emotional block where the topic of organization is concerned, as witness her words about how much Young Marie preferred staying in the classroom to organize the bookshelves rather than go outside for phys ed:

 "I was obsessed with what I could throw away. One day, I had a kind of nervous breakdown and fainted. I was unconscious for two hours. When I came to, I heard a mysterious voice, like some god of tidying telling me to look at my things more closely. And I realized my mistake: I was only looking for things to throw out. What I should be doing is finding the things I want to keep. Identifying the things that make you happy: that is the work of tidying."
Therein lies the diffy-diff 'twixt Marie and me. She looks for things to get RID of and I look for things to treasure and have forever. But until this latest of her pronouncements, I didn't bother to comment.  But now this...

I couldn't cut down to having fewer than 30 books for every wall in this house! Between me and Peggy, we have hundreds upon hundreds of books, and I am hard pressed to give up any of them.  And if I do give them away, it's only because they are duplicate copies or contain redundant information. I would NEVER cut down on the amount of books we own just to satisfy someone's idea of getting rid of clutter.

Not for nothing, I will point out that Marie Kondo has written four books (none of which I own), so if you have them all, and follow her insane guidelines, you can only have 25 others.

How do you say, "Forget it," in Japanese?

Thursday, January 17, 2019

Aisle Be Damned

We grocery shoppers just took another step closer to the Brave New World that has been predicted for so long. First came the coin-counting machines in the lobby, and then it was the check-yourself-out lane instead of a human cashier, and then it was the self-scanner that you carry around and tote up all the UPC codes on your curds and whey and now...

Now, Giant Food Stores are going to have a whole cadre of new employees running (stalking) around their stores.

They are all named "Marty," if you wanted to know.

New Marty

Related image
                                      Old Marty

The Martys just started working there, but they are gray already. They have big googly eyes. They are not in the union, so they will work all sorts of crazy hours without a break.  Or a paycheck.

Marty is a robot.

All the Martys have a sign reading "This store is monitored by Marty for your safety. Marty is an autonomous robot that uses image capturing technology to report spills, debris and other potential hazards to store employees to improve your shopping experience.”

Giant Food announced earlier this week that they will put Martys to work in all of their 172 stores in Pennsylvania, Maryland, Virginia and West Virginia.

“Bringing robotics and A.I. from a research lab to the sales floor has been a very exciting journey, and we were thrilled by the customer response in our pilot stores,” Nicholas Bertram, president of Giant Food Stores, said in a statement. “Our associates have worked hard to bring this innovation to life with amazing partners.”

Here's the company line: the robots parade around the store autonomously, keeping their goofy eyes peeled for spills and trip hazards. If the RoboClerk sees some water or spilled soda on the floor, or the classic banana peel, it will bark out "Danger, Will Robinson!"  "Caution, hazard detected!” and also notify a human with a mop and bucket.

Continuing his peripatetic journey, Marty will do price checks, verifying the price of a can of peas against the store's computerized pea-pricing system.

Deep down toward the end of the press release trumpeting Marty's arrival, they tell us that Marty has onboard scanners so he won't run into you or your cart, that he is "powered by rechargeable lithium batteries," and that he has "has multiple cameras."

So the ceiling mounted cameras aren't enough, and now furtive-looking people will have this robot dogging their two paces behind all through the store.

Hello, 2019? 1984 calling!

Wednesday, January 16, 2019

The Thin Cardboard Line

It's foolish to characterize all members of any group or profession as being one way or the other.  Take police officers. They come in all varieties...short and tall, male and female, red and yellow, black and white, some with great senses of humor, and some with none.

And I can tell you about on deputy in Williamson County, Texas, who is just stiff as a board. 

Because he is basically a board.

You might have heard of police departments putting broken-down old cruisers alongside highways where a lot of speeding goes on, and here's the new twist. Robert Chody, the sheriff of Williamson County, had cardboard cutouts made of the picture of one his deputies aiming a speed gun, and his department is placing these Cardboard Cops all over the county, wherever speeding gets to be a problem.

”It’s a creative way to solve a problem without really working the problem,” said Chody. “It's been pretty positive thus far and hasn't been implemented fully yet,” he went on.

Sure, you can tell it's a pretend policeman when you see him close up, but when you're sailing down the 6-Mile Road at a speed well over the posted, you're going to slow down, and that's the whole point.

“When you're going 20, 30 miles per hour and you see the silhouette you're immediately braking slowing down and that's exactly what we are trying to do,” said the sheriff.

Sheriff Chody said his department first used these unreal lawmen in school zones. “We didn't get one speeder; all these people were braking before they got to the cut out or as they were approaching the cutout,” said Chody.

And - check this for trickery - sometimes the sheriff will have a real deputy near the cutout, and sometime the cutout will work solo.

“Keep the community somewhat guessing, never feeling comfortable that they can speed in those problem areas,” said Chody, who says this is a creative solution for tackling a serious problem.

Naturally, some wise guy will get a speeding ticket and send in a picture of a check to cover the payment, and then the sheriff will send him a picture of handcuffs.

Or there's always the option of following the speed limit!

Tuesday, January 15, 2019

What Else Is On?

It was former FCC Commissioner Newton Minow who described television as a "vast wasteland" in a 1961 speech, and Newt, it ain't gotten much better since.

What brings this to mind is the sad, sad news that hundreds of Americans will soon be parking it in the big old recliner in front of the 48" Sony to watch Season 2 of Celebrity Big Brother.  Get ready for this list of luminaries about to light up living rooms from San Diego to Schenectady:

  • Tamar Braxton, whose sister is famous.
  • Anthony Scaramucci, who was Trump's mouthpiece for a week.
  • Dina Lohan, whose daughter is famous.
  • Ryan Lochte, the most obnoxious thing in a pool since that Baby Ruth bar in "Caddyshack"
  • Kato Kaelin, who once mooched off O.J. Simpson
  • Joey Lawrence, famous for saying, "Whoa!" on "Blossom."
  • Ricky Williams, who chose marijuana over continuing to play pro football (so he's famous for saying "Whoa!" on blossoms.)
  • Lolo Jones, who's one of the few people ever to compete in both the Winter and Summer Olympics (so maybe she'll be on the regular "Big Brother" too)
  • Tom Green, whose movie "Freddy Got Fingered" set new frontiers for lovers of humor that makes you want to throw yourself off the roof

Image result for kato kaelin
Kato Kaelin, who lived in O.J. Simpson's pool house, is seen here at the
former football legend's trial, trying to remember meeting O.J. Simpson

Julie Chen Moonves, who added her husband Les Moonves's surname to her own right after they hauled his cheating lecherous leering self out of CBS last fall, will join this merry band as master of ceremonies.

Public libraries, bookstores, parks and petting zoos are still open, by the way.

Monday, January 14, 2019

Tie One On

I guess I should give up and go along with the new new...

Men don't always wear ties anymore.

Image result for goober pyle floyd lawson
Floyd wore a tie!
As a former tie-wearing American, I am still a bit surprised to see men not wearing ties while attending weddings and funerals, reading the news on television, selling cars or insurance, telling jokes on television, or in lots of other places where, until now, wearing a tie has been a hard-and-fast rule.

I balked at wrapping silk around my neck many a time, only to be reminded that dressing that way was a sign of the respect I felt toward the people around me.

Image result for goober pyle
Goober didn't.
I don't guess that people not wearing ties have any less respect for others than they used to, but it's still jarring to see open necks so often.

Image result for howard sprague
Howard bowed.
I know plenty of guys who never learned to tie a regular four-in-hand tie, choosing to stick with clip-ons or having someone tie their tie for them and then carefully removing it and putting it back on as needed.

Try as I might, I never got the hang of tying a bow tie, but Howard Sprague did.

Perhaps it's time for me to up my style game a little and stop having The Men of Mayberry be my fashion icons.