Sunday, April 19, 2015

Poetry Sunday

One of my additional duties at the office is managing our bottled water fund ... I place the orders, receive the deliveries, and pay the bills. And then comes the fun part - getting my coworkers to come up with their share of the cost. Truth to tell, everybody pays up*, but it's become a tradition over the years for everyone to compete for the best complaint about the cost of the water and my incessant demands for payment: they can't feed their families, their children have to go to public rather than private schools, they can't afford the operation the baby needs, etc, etc. One of the folks actually paid his $4.00 share of the bill one month with four single dollar bills, each carefully origami-folded into a little t-shirt or kimono ... symbolic of my taking the shirt from his back.

Imagine, then, my joy when I actually found a poem about bottled water ...

Bottled Water
by Kim Dower

I go to the corner liquor store
for a bottle of water, middle
of a hectic day, must get out
of the office, stop making decisions,
quit obsessing does my blue skirt dash
with my hot pink flats; should I get
my mother a caregiver or just put her
in a home, and I pull open the glass
refrigerator door, am confronted
by brands—Arrowhead, Glitter Geyser,
Deer Park, spring, summer, winter water,
and clearly the bosses of bottled water:
Real Water and Smart Water—how different
will they taste? If I drink Smart Water
will I raise my IQ but be less authentic?
If I choose Real Water will I no longer
deny the truth, but will I attract confused,
needy people who'll take advantage
of my realness by dumping their problems
on me, and will I be too stupid to help them
sort through their murky dilemmas?
I take no chances, buy them both,
sparkling smart, purified real, drain both bottles,
look around to see is anyone watching?
I'm now brilliantly hydrated.
Both real and smart my insides bubble
with compassion and intelligence
as I walk the streets with a new swagger,
knowing the world is mine.

Drink up. You don't have to pay for this water.

This afternoon Agnes and I will be heading over to Dance Studio Lioudmila in Alexandria, where I'll be emceeing their Spring Showcase. I hate to have to stay indoors on a nice Spring day, but if you've got to sacrifice such a day for any reason, dancing is a good one.

Have a good day. More thoughts tomorrow.


* Eventually.

Saturday, April 18, 2015

Cartoon Saturday

We're halfway through April ... keep your fingers crossed ...

A mailman from Florida was arrested after landing his gyrocopter on the grounds of the US Capitol Building with a bag full of letters complaining to each member of Congress about big money and political corruption; according to the Italian police, Muslims migrants trying to cross illegally from Libya to Italy in a boat this week threw 12 fellow passengers overboard, killing all of them, because the 12 were Christians; a Los Angeles judge ordered former rap mogul Marion "Suge" Knight to stand trial for murder and other charges stemming from a deadly hit-and-run confrontation on the movie set of the biopic "Straight Outta Compton" earlier this year; thousands of people in the city of Durban, South Africa, have sought refuge in temporary shelters after mobs armed with machetes attacked immigrants in Durban, leaving at least five people dead; and the so-called "Islamic State" claimed responsibility for a suicide car bomb attack that killed at least four people and wounded 18 - none of them the targeted Americans - near the U.S. Consulate in the Kurdish Iraqi city of Irbil.

Well, if we can't have good news, at least we can have good cartoons.

This week's theme cartoons features that most famous of accident victims - Humpty Dumpty ...

There's good news, and there's bad news ...

It helps to go to the right person for help ...

Humpty Dumpty in today's litigious America ...

The Humpty Dumpty conspiracy ... finally unmasked! ...

You really do need to pay close attention to exactly what a fortune teller tells you ...

Turning to other topics, sometimes it's a matter of perspective ...

Budget cuts are bad everywhere ...

I think this is where I want to get a job after I retire ...

 Me, too ...

This would probably help somewhat ... but most Pentagon meetings are still boring ...

And there you have it ... my little attempt to bring a little levity to your otherwise cheerless world. Don't thank me ... it's all part of the service.

It's going to be a busy weekend, so I need to get cracking and start with that most wonderful of pastimes - paying bills. Oh, well ... at least I still have a job to pay them with, which in today's economy counts for a lot. After all, all those job creators the GOP wants to protect with tax benefits are creating lots of new jobs ... just not in the US of A.

Have a good day. Come back tomorrow for Poetry Sunday. More thoughts then.


Friday, April 17, 2015

Great Moments in Editing

Last week was our Right Cheek Ass Clown Award, so that means that this week is our newest collection of Great Moments in Editing. Let's get right to it ...

We Americans aren't known for our knowledge of either geography or history ...

Thanks, but I'll wait for the Sunday brunch buffet ...

This one isn't, strictly speaking, a traditional Great Moment in Editing, but I couldn't pass it up ...

Well, I don't suppose they should have been surprised ...

Truth in packaging ...

This is my kind of coupon! ...

And this isn't ...

Most financial advisors don't recommend suicide as part of your portfolio ... 

What more can I say? ...

I have a fair amount of stress at work, but it's never led me to want to steal an octopus ...

And there we have it - another collection of Great Moments in Editing. It makes you wonder what might be hiding in some of those laws Congress passes that run to the hundreds of pages, doesn't it?

Have a good day. See you tomorrow for Cartoon Saturday. More thoughts then.


Thursday, April 16, 2015

Winning Friends Through Chemistry

I ran across an interesting sidelight on our unfortunate experience in Afghanistan the other day. It seems that the CIA was having some difficulty in recruiting some of the wilier Afghan warlords, either as fighting allies or as sources of information. Paying them off with the traditional banded stacks of $100 bills didn't work, because it made it obvious that they were working with the Americans ... which didn't endear them to many of their countrymen. Giving them gifts of cars, household appliances, electronics, and other such items wasn't advisable for the same reason ... not to mention the difficulty of using that new Sears washer/dryer combination or 65-inch plasma TV in a remote mountain village, especially when the recipients likely can't read the instruction manuals.

What to do?

Well, according to this 2008 article from the Washington Post, the answer was ... Viagra.

Yes, Dear Readers, those grizzled 60+ year old warlords really enjoyed gifts of little blue pills that allowed them to satisfy their young wives and demonstrate their continued virility to the younger men. And as an added bonus, they turned into real tigers in a stand-up fight*.

Viagra: America's secret weapon in the war against whatever it is we're fighting. Helping warriors rise to the occasion since 2008.

Your tax dollars at work.

Have a good day. See you tomorrow for the latest batch of Great Moments in Editing.

More thoughts then.


* So to speak.

Wednesday, April 15, 2015

Of Taxes and Libraries

As you know, today is April 15th, and every American knows what day that is - Tax Day ... the day on which we render up to our federal Caesar that portion of our personal fortunes to which Caesar lays claim. If you are a hard-core Tea Party Republican or a Libertarian, your head exploded when you read that. If you are an average American, at the very least it made you cranky.

Nobody likes to pay taxes, myself included. But taxes pay for the things our government does. Some of those things we expect, like, and even demand. Some, we don't. But guess what? We elect the people who decide how much tax we pay and what those taxes are spent on. Don't like paying taxes, or what your government spends those taxes on? Quit bitching and elect someone else.

Okay, end of fulmination. Now let's talk about one of the good things those taxes pay for ... libraries.

April 12-18 is National Library Week. Libraries make books available to everyone ... especially to those who might otherwise not be able to afford them. They further the education of our citizens, and help them make good decisions. They provide a safe and exciting place for our children to learn, to hear stories read aloud, to practice arts and crafts and to broaden their young minds. Libraries are an investment in the future - a part of the infrastructure of the mind.

Of course, we could spend all that money on corporate welfare and on tax benefits for already-wealthy people who don't need them. If that's what you want the government to spend your money on, you know who to vote for.

And you deserve what you get. Too bad the rest of us will get it with you.

Have a good day. Support your local library. More thoughts tomorrow.


Tuesday, April 14, 2015

It's All About That Bass!

As you know, Dear Readers, I love music of almost all sorts ... about the only style of music I don't like is rap/hip-hop. When I'm working, I like to have music playing in the background - Gregorian chants, especially, but I'll also take soft rock/easy listening. My primary iPod playlist (I call it "The Very Best") has almost 700 songs on it, and grows pretty much daily.

Over the years I've shared a number of songs with you that I've particularly enjoyed, and today I have a great new one.

A few days ago one of my friends shared this video on her Facebook page ... I loved the song and I especially loved the video. Just remember ... it's all about that bass ...

And ladies, just remember what the song tells you*:

"Yeah, my momma she told me don't worry about your size
She said, boys like a little more booty to hold at night
You know I won't be no stick-figure, silicone Barbie doll,
So, if that's what's you're into
Then go ahead and move along ..."

Trust me ... it really is all about that bass!

Have a good day. More thoughts tomorrow.


* I absolutely agree! When I hug a lady, I'd prefer she feel like a pillow filled with warm milk rather than a paper bag full of coat hangers.

Monday, April 13, 2015

It's Spring, and the Flowers Ain't the Only Things Blossoming

We've just finished an absolutely gorgeous weekend here in NoVa, with warm temperatures and plenty of sunshine. In DC, the famous cherry blossoms came out in all their glory* ...

... flowers are blooming everywhere you look, and - of course - pollen is arriving in all its miserable, yellowish-brown glory.

Spring has sprung, as the saying goes. And as Alfred, Lord Tennyson reminds us**,

"In the Spring a young man's fancy lightly turns to thoughts of love."

But why is that?

I call your attention, Dear Readers, to this brief but interesting article by Lisa Bonos: "Spring Has Sprung, So Does Science Say Love Is in the Air?". Ms Boros interviewed a number of smart people on the subject of why love seems to blossom in the Spring, and one of them - Helen Fisher, a biological anthropologist who is the Chief Scientific Officer for - told her that,

"... the pineal gland - which makes melatonin - is very active in the winter, making people sleepy and potentially less awake to romantic potential."

“In the spring, as light hits the retina (Ms Fisher told Ms Boros) it goes 'into the pineal gland and slows the production of melatonin. And that’s what gives you that light spring in your step, the feeling of giddiness and euphoria … As the melatonin recedes and the light begins to affect the brain, there’s every reason to think that people will simply be more attractive as partners.'”

Ms Fisher went on to discuss how we humans tend to be excited by the sights, sounds and smells of spring - the scent of flowers in the air, outdoor barbecues fired up, and even the perfumes and aftershave lotions applied to more exposed skin areas. What we perceive as the emotion of love is associated with the dopamine system, which can be stimulated by novelty, giving us a gentle nudge toward falling in love.

So now you have the more-or-less scientific explanation for why you feel more cheerful and amorous in the Spring.  How you turn it to your advantage is up to you. Good luck!

Have a good day. More thoughts tomorrow.


* This beautiful picture was taken during the weekend by my friend Rie, who does more with her iPhone camera than I can usually do with my expensive digital SLR monster.

** In his poem, "Locksley Hall."

Sunday, April 12, 2015

Poetry Sunday

After the utterly miserable winter we just finished, I think we've earned a warm and gentle spring. Here in the Washington, DC, area we're in the annual Cherry Blossom Festival, when the beautiful cherry trees blossom and vast crowds of tourists descend upon the Tidal Basin. You've gotta take the bad with the good, I guess.

For today's poem, I thought this springtime offering would be appropriate ...

A Prayer in Spring
by Robert Frost

Oh, give us pleasure in the flowers today;
And give us not to think so far away
As the uncertain harvest; keep us here
All simply in the springing of the year.

Oh, give us pleasure in the orchard white,
Like nothing else by day, like ghosts by night;
And make us happy in the happy bees,
The swarm dilating round the perfect trees.

And make us happy in the darting bird
That suddenly above the bees is heard,
The meteor that thrusts in with needle bill,
And off a blossom in mid air stands still.

For this is love and nothing else is love,
The which it is reserved for God above
To sanctify to what far ends He will,
But which it only needs that we fulfill.

Have a good day. Enjoy the Spring ... summer will be here soon enough, and we'll all be grousing about how hot and muggy it is as we get ready for winter and grousing about how cold it is.

More thoughts tomorrow.


Saturday, April 11, 2015

Cartoon Saturday

A mere eleven days into April and it's already been a wild ride ...

Hillary Clinton is prepared to officially announce her 2016 presidential bid this weekend*; at least two people have been killed in a series of tornadoes (one of them an "EF-4" monster) that tore through the Midwest; a former U.S. Army enlistee who posted on Facebook about dying in jihad was arrested Friday and charged with trying to detonate a car bomb at Fort Riley, Kansas; Former Vice President Dick Cheney and his daughter Liz have co-authored a book that delivers a "blistering criticism of Obama's foreign policy"**; and Attorney General Eric Holder has sternly warned members of the Justice Department not to consort with prostitutes.

Normally, I start things off with a selection of cartoons on a particular theme. This week, though, I think we'll just do a potpourri of great cartoons I've found in the past few weeks ...

That reminds me ... I haven't been to the National Gallery of Art for a few years ...

When we renovate buildings in DC, we do it right ...

Somehow I don't think it happened quite this way, but it's still funny ...

Poor ol' corporations have feelings, too ...

The fine print in the Mantis family insurance policy ...

Pun alert ...

When cultures clash ...

I think Agnes is going to do this when I retire. I wonder if Claudia did it for Mike, too ...

Evolutionary change at work ...

A little flashback to Bilbo's dating days ...

And that's it for this week. Hope these helped you recover from the past seven days. For the next seven, you're on your own.

Later this morning, Agnes and I will be headed out to watch our granddaughters' ice skating lessons, and this afternoon will be the good-bye BBQ party for our friend and coworker Scott and his family, who will be returning to the UK after a few frustrating years of dealing with the Colonists. He'll be missed.

Have a good day, and come back tomorrow for Poetry Sunday. More thoughts then.


* If she's elected, I sure hope she does a better job of being a wild-eyed, gun-confiscating socialist dictator than that loser Mr Obama.

** You're shocked, I know.

Friday, April 10, 2015

The Right Cheek Ass Clown Award for April, 2015

Tempus is fugiting right along and we have come to that time of the month when it’s time to announce

The Right-Cheek Ass Clown Award for April, 2015

It’s never easy to select just one winner from among the braying throngs of suitable candidates, and so sometimes we have to do multiple or group awards. And so it is this month, as with the usual flatulent blare of trumpets we present the Right-Cheek Ass Clown Award to

Really, Really Creative
North Korean Textbook Authors

Yes, Dear Readers, it must be difficult to live in a country in which history is revised on the fly and the willingness to deify a hereditary dictator is all that stands between you and a comfy room in a state-sponsored labor camp. Nevertheless, this week the authors of a textbook for the 2015 school year on “Kim Jong Un's Revolutionary Activities” set the bar for hyperbolic exaggeration to a new height when their new textbook claimed that:

"At the age of 9, Kim Jong Un raced the chief executive of a foreign yacht company, who was visiting North Korea at the time."

The book went on to note that Kim heroically won the race despite his age and, in addition, was able to drive a car by the age of three.

These are the same people who previously noted that Kim’s father, Kim Jong Il, bowled a perfect score of 300 the first time he tried his hand at bowling, and shot a 38 under par with five holes-in-one the first time he played golf.

For their ability to generate laughable revisionist history in the service of their leader, the professional prevaricators who write North Korean textbooks are awarded the Right Cheek Ass Clown Award for April, 2015. This month, the award also includes a year’s supply of Botox to help them keep straight faces.

Have a good day. Come back tomorrow for Cartoon Saturday. More thoughts then.