Sunday, May 31, 2015

Poetry Sunday

A poem doesn't have to be long and involved and have perfect rhyme and meter to be interesting and thought-provoking ...

by Emily Dickinson

A Charm invests a face
Imperfectly beheld –
The Lady dare not lift her Veil
For fear it be dispelled –

But peers beyond her mesh –
And wishes – and denies –
Lest Interview – annul a want
That Image – satisfies –

Yes, Dear Readers, sometimes ... even most of the time ... what we imagine is better than what we see.

Have a good day. More thoughts coming.


Saturday, May 30, 2015

Cartoon Saturday

It's been a long, long month, but we've finally reached the last Cartoon Saturday for May ... this week starting out with a selection of cartoons about cars and driving ...

Plenty of people in this area must have gone to this particular driving school ...

But it gets great mileage, as measured in miles per bale ...

Lots of these permits here in NoVa ...


The next level of environmentally friendly electric automobile ...

Yes, this is exactly how it works ...

That's how we divide the labor here at home ...

Moving on to other subjects, sometimes you have things that are just fundamentally wrong ...

Cliches, updated ...

Perhaps this is the best I can hope for ...

Well, I guess that explains why all the cave paintings are of animals ...

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


Friday, May 29, 2015

Great Moments in Editing

It's been two long weeks, and that means it's now time once again to dig deep into the collection of Great Moments in Editing ...

Um ... I think I'll order from the children's menu ...

This must be one of those weird fusion diets ...

If you want beer, order beer ...

Seems like a lot of trouble to go to for a free meal ...

I'm moving to St Paul ...

Well, that takes the cake ...

We all grieve in different ways ...

We often depend on our police for things you normally wouldn't expect ...

Budget cuts are hitting school cafeterias, too ...

Would you like a side of epinephrine with that? ...

There you go ... your latest serving of Great Moments in Editing!

Have a good day. Be sure to come back tomorrow for Cartoon Saturday. More thoughts then.


Sunday, May 24, 2015

Poetry Sunday

Poetry can be beautiful, thought-provoking, full of deep drama and pathos ... or it can be fun. Here's a great poem you can read to your children and grandchildren to get them interested in poetry, or just to have fun ...

Be Glad Your Nose is on Your Face
by Jack Prelutsky

Be glad your nose is on your face,
not pasted on some other place,
for if it were where it is not,
you might dislike your nose a lot.

Imagine if your precious nose
were sandwiched in between your toes,
that clearly would not be a treat,
for you'd be forced to smell your feet.

Your nose would be a source of dread
were it attached atop your head,
it soon would drive you to despair,
forever tickled by your hair.

Within your ear, your nose would be
an absolute catastrophe,
for when you were obliged to sneeze,
your brain would rattle from the breeze.

Your nose, instead, through thick and thin,
remains between your eyes and chin,
not pasted on some other place—
be glad your nose is on your face!

The nose knows, after all! Have a good day, and enjoy the rest of your weekend. More thoughts coming.


Saturday, May 23, 2015

Cartoon Saturday

Welcome to Cartoon Saturday ... assuming Blogger's scheduling function decides to work. This week's theme collection features cartoons about animals ...

I have this problem with my garden - the local fauna seem to think I'm running an all-you-can-eat salad bar ...

Well, I suppose it saves money if you put the ants on yourself ...

Everybody's from someplace ...

Sometimes, cathedral ceilings are practical ...

Hmmm ...

Sometimes, never forgetting is not a good thing ...

Moving on to other subjects, I've worked in places with Employee Recognition Programs like this one ...

Don't ask the question if you don't really want to hear the answer ...

The wrong one is going out of business ...

I thought I had that job already sewed up ...

And there you have it - another collection of cartoons to help you recover from the past week and prepare for the one to come. Heaven knows you probably need it.

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

More thoughts then.


Friday, May 22, 2015

The Left Cheek Ass Clown of the Month for May, 2015

As you know, it's always hard to make a selection for the Right and Left Cheek Ass Clowns ... the number of potential candidates is so large as to make it all but impossible to select the cream of the undistinguished crop. And since we're staggering into the 2016 election season and GOP presidential wannabes are scurrying around like cockroaches when the kitchen light comes on in the night, the number is even higher than usual.

But you look to me to make the tough decisions, and I'm stepping up to the challenge!

Dear Readers, I give you

The Left Cheek Ass Clown of the Month
May, 2015 

Alex Jones

Mr Jones, through his website, is the master of the outrageous conspiracy theory and bizarre leap of logic, and his latest fantasy crusade is the belief that a set of Army maneuvers called JADE HELM scheduled to take place in Texas are simply a cover for a master plan to occupy Texas and enslave the population. You can read a detailed summary of Mr Jones' twisted conspiracy fantasy here ... including the terrifying knowledge that there is actually a member of Congress - the frightening Louie Gohmert (R, TX)* - who is pouring gasoline on the flames Jones has lit, lending the authority of his elected office to the rantings of a very strange man.

For his irresponsible fear-mongering and ignorance of reality, Alex Jones is named our Left Cheek Ass Clown of the Month for May, 2015.


I will be leaving later today to join Agnes in Germany to help settle her father's affairs. We'll be back the evening of June 3rd. During this time, I will almost certainly not have any Internet access, and so won't be able to post this blog every day. I have prepared Cartoon Saturday posts for May 23rd and 30th, Poetry Sunday posts for May 24th and 31st, and a Great Moments in Editing post for May 29th, and have scheduled them to be posted by Blogger on the correct dates. My experience with Blogger's scheduling function has been mixed, so if the posts don't appear, don't despair ... I'll be back and posting again within the next few days after June 3rd.

Have a good day. More thoughts coming ... sooner or later.


* A man who clearly wears a tinfoil ten-gallon hat.

Thursday, May 21, 2015

Great Moments In Musical History

I love music. So do most children, even if they have trouble expressing their knowledge about the subject. What follows is a collection of quotes supposedly drawn from essays about music written by grade school children ...

J.S. Bach died from 1750 to the present.

Agnus Dei was a woman composer famous for her church music.

Refrain means don't do it. A refrain in music is the part you better not try to sing.

Handel was half German, half Italian, and half English. He was rather large.

Beethoven wrote music even though he was deaf. He was so deaf he wrote loud music. He took long walks in the forest even when everyone was calling him. I guess he could not hear so good. Beethoven expired in 1827 and later died from this.

Henry Purcell is a well-known composer few people have ever heard of.

An opera is a song of bigly size.

A harp is a nude piano

Aaron Copland is one of our most famous contemporary composers. It is unusual to be contemporary. Most composers do not live until they are dead.

A virtuoso is a musician with real high morals.

Music sung by two people at the same time is called a duel.

I know what a sextet is but I'd rather not say.

Most authorities agree that music of antiquity was written long ago.

My favorite composer is opus.

Probably the most marvelous fugue was between the Hatfields and the McCoys.

My very best liked piece is the bronze lullaby.

Have a good day. Enjoy the music. And come back tomorrow, when we'll announce our Left Cheek Ass Clown of the Month ... along with other news.

More thoughts then.


Wednesday, May 20, 2015

Translating Metro Announcements

Some of you may have visited the National Capital Region (or "NCR," as we sometimes fondly call it) before. You know that it is, for the most part, a beautiful area with lots of green trees and spaces, stately white government buildings*, impressive monuments, and wonderful (largely free) museums. We also have ghastly traffic and expensive and mediocre public transportation.

The centerpiece of the local public transportation is the Metrorail system, which has six separate lines (Red, Yellow, Blue, Orange, Green, and Silver). The system is fraught with problems from aging equipment and inadequate maintenance to abysmal customer service to lackluster management. Delays and accidents - most minor, but some occasionally quite serious - are common.

One of the most frustrating things about riding on the Metro is understanding the on-board announcements. The combination of ancient, poorly-maintained equipment and poor diction on the part of train operators and station announcers makes it difficult for natives and all but impossible for tourists to understand the announcements that are made, when they can be heard at all.

But don't worry, Dear Readers, if you are contemplating a visit to the nation's capital: as a public service, I have developed a phrase book that will help you understand the otherwise incomprehensible babble that passes for information on your Metrorail car. Here are a few sample phrases ... feel free to print them out for use during your visit:

What you hear: "Bzorkwaj nospokdufamud quabblezaft prospoopl!"
What it means: "The train is arriving at King Street; the doors will open on the left side of the car."

What you hear: "Globnick sprongnibble zapfooie flogblot namenfoozeloo."
What it means: "Please do not attempt to hold the doors open."

What you hear: "Oznog bifflebugner schlobwotkins frabbid hoggfrubble."
What it means: "Thick black smoke and flames are normal. Please remain seated."

What you hear: "Ishkabibble zerflootie pidnigorfidgy shtoofle. Zipnig blorflodging wazooky!"
What it means: "Please do not try to crowd onto this train. Another equally crowded train will arrive in three minutes."

What you hear: "Hissbuzzcracklesquealsssssssssssss."
What it means: The speakers don't work in this car, either.

What you hear: "Metro fares will go up on June first."
What it means: "Metro fares will go up on June first. Suck it up."

Don't thank me. It's all part of the service. And if you're interested in exciting rides other than those offered by Metrorail, here's a great duet by Nanci Griffith** and Richard Thompson ...

Have a good day. Enjoy your ride on the Metro: it's cheaper than most amusement park rides, and often every bit as exciting. More thoughts tomorrow.


* And stately white government officials.

** One of my favorite performers!

Tuesday, May 19, 2015

Enforcing Discipline in Government Service

You may recall that North Korean overlord Kim Jong Un has been in the news from time to time for allegedly devising new and brutal methods of executing those with whom he has significant disagreements. The latest example of this flair for personnel management with extreme prejudice came when he recently had his minister of defense executed by a firing squad armed with antiaircraft guns; a year or two ago, he also supposedly had his uncle and mentor eaten alive by a pack of savage dogs.

Now, if you think this is a bit of an extreme approach to enforcing discipline among senior government officials, you're not alone*. It seems to me that the prospect of being eaten by dogs is not conducive to attracting top talent to government service, even in a workers' paradise like North Korea. Nevertheless, one must wonder if we might be able to improve the performance of our own government if there were more creative punishments available for those guilty of graft, corruption, nepotism, sexual misconduct** or other sorts of first- or second-degree ass clownery. Here are a few of the sentences that come to mind ...

- Take away their chauffeured cars and require them to take public transportation to work. The horror of having to rub elbows with Real People would be a terrifying punishment.

- Reassign them to Detroit ...

- Force them to listen to loops of Ted Cruz speeches.

- Require Republicans to reconcile GOP tax and economic policies with reality, using only data provided by the Congressional Research Service - not by a conservative partisan think tank.

- Require Democrats to explain how to pay for Democratic social programs, using only data provided by the Congressional Research Service - not by a liberal partisan think tank.

- Make them watch a "Keeping Up With the Kardashians" marathon; number of hours dictated by the severity of their misconduct.

What are your ideas? How would you discipline the obstreperous children of Capitol Hill? Leave a comment and let the rest of us know.

Have a good day. Demand more from your elected reprehensives, even if you end up continually disappointed. More thoughts tomorrow.


* Although I'm quite sure that such measures have a certain appeal to the most rabid anti-Obama wings of the extreme right.

** A marvelous euphemism, that.

Monday, May 18, 2015

The Fermi Paradox

Star Trek and other science fiction adventures notwithstanding, we seem to be suffering from a lack of other advanced civilizations* in our galaxy. No Vulcans, Cardassians**, Bajorans, Cylons, Borg, Andorians, Xindi, Metrons, or anyone else have come calling. Why is that?

This intriguing video - The Fermi Paradox - runs about six minutes or so, and discusses that very issue. It's utterly fascinating, deeply troubling, and well worth your time to watch ...

I don't know about you, but I've now added "filters" to the list of things I have to worry about***.


Have a good day. More thoughts tomorrow.


* Calling us an "advanced civilization" sometimes seems like quite a stretch, but work with me on this, okay?

** Although we do have the Kardashians, who are even more scary.

*** Along with Congress, the "Islamic State," open-carry nuts, anti-vaxxers, and every announced GOP presidential candidate.

Sunday, May 17, 2015

Poetry Sunday

Just another poem from just another old guy ...

You Asked For It 
by George Bilgere 

There was a show on TV called
You Asked For It. Viewers would write in
and ask to see unusual things, such as
the world’s greatest slingshot expert.
I watched it every week
on our humble Motorola, although
the only episode I can remember now
is the one about the slingshot expert.
He was a grown man, as I recall,
and he lived in an ordinary place like New Jersey.
At a distance of ten or twenty paces
he could pulverize one marble with another.
He could hit a silver dollar
tossed into the air. He was the kind
of father I wanted to have,
an expert shot, never missing.
And I think of him now, perhaps long dead,
or frail and gray, his gift forgotten.
Just another old guy on a park bench
in Fort Lauderdale, fretting about Medicare,
grateful for the sun on his back, his slingshot
useless in this new world.

Of course, nowadays nobody wants anything as mundane as a slingshot ... how are you going to make people fear you down at the supermarket unless you're packing an AR-15?

Just another old guy in NoVa wishes you a good day. More thoughts tomorrow.


Saturday, May 16, 2015

Cartoon Saturday

Another week gone by ...

At least eight people were killed when an Amtrak passenger train derailed in Philadelphia while going around a curve at twice the safe speed; in North Korea, the Minister of Defense was reportedly executed by being shot by an antiaircraft cannon, in part for the heinous crime of dozing off during a meeting with Kim Jong Un; in Florida, a 16-month-old girl died after her father forgot to take her to day care and left her in the family car in outside temperatures reaching the low 90s; Dzhokrar Tsarnaev has been condemned to death for his role in the Boston Marathon bombing in 2013; and five Iranian boats fired shots across the bow of a Singapore-flagged cargo vessel in the Persian Gulf on Thursday in an apparent attempt to stop the ship.

Happy halfway-through-May!

This week, in honor of all the wonderful new ideas and solutions being put forward by our political elites*, our collection of theme cartoons features cavemen. Okay, cavepeople, to be PC about it ...

Checking out new homes, 1,000,000 B.C. ...

Some things never change for parents and grandparents through the years ...

In case you were wondering where the original idea came from ...

Gift advice, 1,000,000 B.C. ...

Cavewarming parties? ...

It's not a new idea, evidently ...

Turning to other topics, you have to know how to make the system work for you ...

I need this fellow's number ...

I think this is where I'd fit ...

When life gives you lemons ... or methane ... 

And so goes another Cartoon Saturday ... I hope you enjoyed it.

It's going to be a hot, muggy weekend here in NoVa. Later this morning I'll be going to the "International Day" festival at my granddaughter's school ... I asked her earlier this week what she was going to be doing in the show, and she said "nothing." Well, at least admission is free.

Have a good day and a great weekend. See you tomorrow for Poetry Sunday.


* Not!

Friday, May 15, 2015

Great Moments in Editing

Yes, Dear Readers, it's time once again to take a head-shaking look at things have actually appeared in print! Last weekend we celebrated Mothers' Day, and so it seems appropriate now to look at a selection of odd editorial things involving moms ...

I suppose that as excuses for tag sales go, it's not bad ...

If your mother has an artificial leg, this could be for you! ...

Anyone can get mom an ordinary spa visit for Mothers' Day, but ...

When you care enough to carve the very best ...

Sounds fishy to me, but ...

I'm not sure I'd order it, but ...

The Meanest Mother in Wyoming ...

Helping keep mom regular is important ...

In other areas of odd things found in print, I hope that Ariel doesn't read this ...

Making sure you're not happy - now in a new location! ...

Someone needs to let Eeyore know ...

Great moments in editing ... don't thank me, it's all part of keeping you informed about the odd things in your world!

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