Wednesday, May 5, 2021

Look up!

You don't necessarily need to take offense if, over the next several days, someone tells you to take a shower.

They might just mean a meteor shower!

Skywatchers are on alert, and if it's not too cloudy or stormy, they will have a great opportunity to see wild things above - even more interesting than when that couple down the street has another of their tiffs on the balcony.

They're called the Eta Aquariids, but unlike you and I, they don't need two eyes. Call them "Aquarids." They're peaking today and will show about 10 or 20 meteors an hour.  The show ends on May 28, and to be honest, it's much brighter in the Southern Hemisphere, but we'll make do with what we get up here.

These Eta Aquarid meteors, I wanna tell you, they move faster than that goof you saw on the Beltway the other day. They're going about 148,000 mph (66 km/s) from space into Earth's atmosphere. What we see are glowing "trains," which are bits of incandescent debris the meteor leaves behind it its wake. The train might glow for as long as two minutes, and there are usually 30 Eta Aquarid meteors on display every hour at the peak.

Our local weather is calling for partly cloudy skies and showers these nights, but isn't that the all-purpose weather forecast around here: "Partly cloudy, chance of rain"?

Enjoy the showers, take an umbrella, see a free show!

Tuesday, May 4, 2021

The Sock Market

I have to chortle when I see people crying that they refuse to get vaccinated against the dreaded COVID-19 on the grounds that "they" put something in the juice to "track" you, because their cell phones, social media outbursts, and credit card usage don't do enough of that already.

So while you're worried about Bill Gates needing a few extra bucks, so he slips a tracking chip into your vaccine like you're a housecat or something, maybe spend a little time worrying about your socks.

Because, down in Silver Spring, Montgomery County, cops have arrested a man they say was part of a three-man gang that threatened, assaulted, and bound a family with duct tape 18 years ago.

And they nabbed him because he wore socks as gloves during the whole awful crime. And in so doing, he left DNA behind on the socks.

I'm not going to go into the gory details of the crime. I can point you to this article on the Patch if you really want to read all about it.

But just remember this - while you're worried about Bill Gates and Dr Fauci and all the other people who are trying to help this nation and the world get out of this mess, don't try committing a crime while wearing sockgloves (or is the term glovesocks?) because you will get caught and they will send you to a place where the socks are thin and made of polyester.

But on the other hand, if you take the vaccine, you'll still be alive to wear them!

Monday, May 3, 2021

Tough Guy, eh?

America is going through a bad phase right now. We can't stop focusing on all the wrong things, such as the fear of LGBTQ people. You might recall that I am still waiting for a rational answer to the question of what other people's sex lives has to do with anyone else's. It's just silly, and it leads to all sorts of antagonism that we don't really need.

F'rinstance, up in Monmouth County, New Jersey, a middle school vice principal is on the hot seat. It all started when Michael Smurro's wife, Lisa, got all flibbertiggibet because a transgender woman was taking a leak in the ladies room.

She was walking around - there is a video - carping to others about how upset she was that a fellow human being sought relief for a full bladder.

“There’s a man pissing in the bathroom, the women’s bathroom,” Mrs Smurro says to the waitress in the video. “She’s a man. She was in the women’s bathroom.”

Finding no quarter from the waitress, the harping harridan turns to other diners who are trying to sit outside and have their meal in peace. In the video uploaded by "Peach CC," we see her whining about "She's a man, she's a man" until the diners tell her, “You’re being inappropriate. Take your hate elsewhere, please.” 

Then, Mr Smurro, who spends his days dealing with recalcitrant juveniles, steps up and tries to act like Steven Seagal in one of those movies of his with three words in the title ("I Can't Act," "Filing For Retirement," and "Just Forget Me" are three recent examples) saying, “Here you go, pal. There you go.”

Tough guy. He douses the crowd with the rest of a beer. Ironically, if he had tossed away beer all day instead of drinking it, he would be happier right now, ya know?

Well, a couple of days go by, and after the Schlitz really hit the fan, Smurro wrote to the Associated Press: 

“I allowed my emotions to get in the way of my normally sound judgment and reacted in a way that was inappropriate. I do not condone violence or discrimination of any kind and should have simply walked away. I apologize to the person I threw my beer at and wish I hadn’t done so. I apologize to anyone I offended.”


He educates the youth of New Jersey. And by the way, one of the people he showered with suds is a child.


The Neptune School District offered a statement: “This event is troubling as its perception potentially threatens the social-emotional well-being and climate of belonging that our Neptune School District community represents. The actions shown in the video do not reflect our district’s commitment to inclusivity, cooperation, respect, and nonviolence."

“The Board of Education and Superintendent will respond to this incident in a manner that is appropriate and relative to the seriousness of the situation and that takes into consideration the impact this incident has had on the reputation of our wonderful district,” it concluded.

There's nothing funnier than a would-be tough guy tossing beer on his fellow citizens one night and then issuing non-apology apologies days later. Smurro clearly has issues and should not be around children.

But before that school board hands down their decision, I think he should have to sit in a classroom and write "I will not throw beer on others in support of my wife's idiotic transphobia" 100 times.

Sunday, May 2, 2021

Sunday Rerun: There WILL always be an England (from 2017)

 I say, I like the British people, and I love England and all its history. My roots are there; the first Clarks arrived here on a rowboat being tugged across the ocean by the Mayflower, so there's that.

I've never met an English person I didn't like, and I can't even say that for all American people. Not naming names...but you know...

I have never watched this show "Suits" although I know some people who do. Fact is, if I ever ran so low on things to do that I would watch a drama on the USA Network that concerns lawyers, I'd report to my den at once and crack a book.  Over my head.

But this Meghan Markle, who has turned the world on with her smile this week, has officially announced that she will not be coming back to the role of Rachel Zane, and it turns out that the producers of the show took a gamble a year ago that her thing with Harry would work out, and so it did. So that all works out fine, except that it brings up the old joke about the guy who complains to his buddy that he hates his job at the circus because he has to follow the elephants (I told you it was an old joke) around and scoop up what they leave behind, and he hated that hokey cart and he hated the broom and garbage pan and everything else about it - the low pay, the stench, the derision from the high-wire performers, the fact that the clowns wouldn't give him a ride home in their car because, they claim, there just isn't room for one more guy in the tiny machine.

So his friend goes, "Well, why don't you quit?"

And the poopscooper says, "What? And give up show business?"

Ms Markle is giving up show business, all right, and moving to a whole new kind of stage. God Save The Princess!
Image result for meghan and harry hd
But she won't be known as Princess Meghan. It turns out that by the standards of British protocol, she lacks "royal blood" and cannot go by Princess Meghan. Same as Kate Middleton, who married Prince William, is known as Her Royal Highness, Princess William of Wales, Meghan will go by HRH Princess Harry of Wales.

I read these things and my head hurts.  She cannot be Princess Meghan, but she can be Princess Harry. Gotcha.

Saturday, May 1, 2021

The Saturday Picture Show, May 1, 2021


Just your standard sub, featuring Sorpessata, Cappacola, Prosciutto, homemade Mozzerella, sun-dried tomato pesto, EVOO, red onion, red pepper flakes, and Italian seasoning. I read an article this week that attempted to explain why Mozzarella is pronounced "mootcerell," Prosciutto is "prozhuute" and Cappacola is "gobbagoo." It was a weak attempt, I still don't understand, and most of my ordering in Italian delicatessens is done by pointing. 
A little bit of skillful editing will remove the spaghetti-gobbling photo bomber.

May 4 will mark the 51st anniversary of the Kent State massacre. The mournful woman in the picture, Mary Ann Vecchio, was 14 at the time, a runaway from Florida. This tragic scene haunts her to this day, as you can imagine. You can read a fascinating article about her life and how it has gone since then at this Washington POST site.

You can count on Calvin to put all of our thoughts into words.

When someone says they want a shirt or wall paint in "robin's egg blue," here is the swatch to match it to.
The full "pink" moon as photographed in Baltimore this week.
Beachgoers who go through Delaware are acutely aware of the Sunday speedtrap in some towns along the way, those towns where they get you coming and going. They need these special police cars.
Speaking of the beach - this is the entrance to Poverty Beach in Cape May, New Jersey. It's laughably ironic that the beach where "the help" was supposed to bathe and relax back in the day is now the beach for some well-heeled people who have huge beach houses to get away from it all. I guess the help goes somewhere else.
Rainbow meets rainbow. Love is love. 

We leave you this week with a hamster eating blackberries.

Friday, April 30, 2021

Shell Game

The stretch of I-95 that runs through our county takes travelers north and south, even if they don't mean to.

It's wild, the way they drive on that road. I mean, local Maryland drivers are fine, but you add in the Pennsylvania, Delaware, and New Jersey ticket catchers, and it's every Volvo for itself out there. 

I've never taken 95 all the way to Florida, due to a disdain for mice, but I can only imagine how crazy the traffic is, the nearer one gets to the race tracks and Happiest Place On This Here Earth.

And it's just not the cars that will drive you nuts.

Here's what happened the other day down by Daytona Beach: a 71-year-old woman was cruising 95 with her daughter when a turtle smashed through her windshield. She suffered a cut to her forehead, along with the biggest shock of her life.

The daughter was driving, and here I get to type a sentence I have never even imagined typing. Seeing the turtle smash through the glass and hit her poor mom, she pulled over and received help from a kind motorist.

While the daughter called 911 for help, the operators could hear that man saying “There is a turtle in there!” 

To which the daughter, in some shock, replies, “A turtle! An actual turtle?”

I've heard crazier questions.

The unfortunate mom bled profusely, but she was not seriously hurt. 

The police figure the turtle ignored the posted TURTLE CROSSING signs and was crossing the interstate (to get to the other side...) when it was hit by another car, sending it airborne.

“I swear to God this lady has the worst luck of anything,” the daughter told the 911 operator as they awaited police and EMS.

You'd have to say the turtle had all the luck. With just a few scratches on its shell, it was released into the woods nearby, no doubt wondering why all these people were going so fast in their crazy shells.

Thursday, April 29, 2021

"Rah! Rah! Boom Dee Ay! You can't tell me what to say!"

Sometimes, life is like an apple. You see it for what it is, you enjoy it, and you move on.

Sometimes, life is like an artichoke. You don't know what it is but you know it contains different layers and textures.

And sometimes, the case of a high school girl getting jammed up over some salty language is a lot more than what it appears to be on the surface.

You know how people in a minor dispute will sometimes say, "Why make a federal case of it?" Here's a situation of a cheerleader blowing off steam on Snapchat turning into a Supreme Court case.

Brandi Levy is 18 now and attending college, but when she was 14 and finishing her freshman year at Mahanoy Area High School in Pennsylvania (near Pittsburgh) she got some bad news: she was going to stay on the junior varsity cheerleading team as a sophomore. 

In the time-honored fashion of 14-year-olds, she blew up, dropping f-bombs all over her world. “F--- school, f--- softball, f--- cheer, f--- everything,” she Snapchatted on a Saturday morning. To illustrate the nature of her ire, she and a friend posed with their middle fingers up, saying, "Love how me and [another student, whom Levy identified by name] get told we need a year of jv before we make varsity but that doesn’t matter to anyone else?” All this, punctuated with an upside-down smiley face.

For those unaware, a snap posted to a Snapchat story disappears within 24 hours, except when someone screenshots it, giving life to the truth about the internet being forever.

Someone took a screenshot and before you know it, it was in the hands of the daughter of one of the cheerleading coaches. Other cheerleaders said "Gimme an "F!" and complained, and the coaches suspended Brandi from the squad for a year.

The coaches says she had agreed to certain team rules (including showing respect, avoiding “foul language and inappropriate gestures,” and a strict policy against “any negative information regarding cheerleading, cheerleaders, or coaches placed on the Internet.”) and broke said rules.

Larry and Betty Lou Levy, Brandi’s parents, launched appeals with the athletic director, the principal, the superintendent and the school board, and rang up a "NO SALE" at every turn. So, they got with the ACLU and filed a federal suit.

Justin Driver, a Yale law professor and author of “The Schoolhouse Gate: Public Education, the Supreme Court, and the Battle for the American Mind," says, “This is the most momentous case in more than five decades involving student speech.” 

And here's why: 

Previous cases that involve a student's right to free speech concerned speech on school grounds. Notably, in 1969, the Supreme Court ruled 7-2 in Tinker v. Des Moines Independent Community School District that "students and teachers do not shed their constitutional rights to freedom of speech or expression at the schoolhouse gate.”

In other words, it was ok that I replied "The hell should I know?" when asked for an exegesis of Edgar A. Poe's "The Bells" in junior English, but the teacher didn't know it yet.

Professor Driver says, “Much of the speech from students is off-campus and increasingly online. When I talk to school administrators, they consistently tell me that off-campus speech bedevils them, and the lower courts desperately need some guidance in this area.”

In their side of the fight, the Mahanoy Area School District said, "Wherever student speech originates, schools should be able to treat students alike when their speech is directed at the school and imposes the same disruptive harms on the school environment.”

“This may seem like a very narrow case about a minor temper tantrum on Snapchat, but it is about speech anywhere and everywhere, by students of all ages,” said Frank LoMonte, director of the Brechner Center for Freedom of Information at the University of Florida.

And these standards as delineated in this verdict will set the standards for off-school free speech for generations.

It almost makes me want to go back to high school!