Monday, February 29, 2016

Musical Monday

Yesterday was the birthday of singer and songwriter Joseph Alfred Souter, better known by his stage name of Joe South. He wrote a large number of monster hits for other artists, including "(I Never Promised You a) Rose Garden" for Lynn Anderson and "Down in the Boondocks" for Billy Joe Royal. His own releases included "Games People Play" and today's song, the nostalgic hit "Don't it Make You Want to Go Home?" South had a minor hit with the song (which peaked at #27 on the country charts in 1969), but I actually prefer this version, performed by John Denver and Glen Campbell in a 1977 TV special ...

As we get older and learn more of life and responsibility, many of us do want to go home. But sadly, it's not there any more. That's why we have music and memories, and why the luckier of us have warm and loving extended families.

Have a good day. More thoughts tomorrow.


Sunday, February 28, 2016

Poetry Sunday

One thing I enjoy in good poetry is vivid imagery, and this poem gives me that in spades. See if it works for you, too ...

Poe's Anvil
by David Ray 

At the drive-in theater where they sell junk
on Sundays we saw a man and his wife standing
by a pick-up truck trying to sell his anvil.
It sat up in the truck’s bed— it was black,
heavy, and elegant like a mammoth’s tusk.
And his name was written on it like a signature,
in iron that once ran like ink. His name was Poe.
I talked with him and he recalled briefly
days when his anvil stood outside a shed,
a workshop like a harbor set in a sea
of green tomato fields, and inside
he had a coal fire and a bellows and he watched
the tractor replace mules and the car
replace wagons. He tired of horse-shoes,
wagon wheels and plows, of hitches, harrows,
and lugs, of axles, crankcases and flywheels,
and he sat somewhat amused (and dying, his wife
told us), presiding over the sale of his own
monument, which he wanted someone to go on
hammering on, and in the midday city sun
the theater’s white screen was blank
like a faded quilt or Moby Dick’s stretched skin.

Have a good day. See you tomorrow for Musical Monday ... more thoughts then.


Saturday, February 27, 2016

Cartoon Saturday

And you thought things in this country couldn't get any crazier. Silly you.

In the latest instance of people killing people rather than guns killing people, three persons were murdered and 14 others hurt in a shooting spree at a workplace in Hesston, Kansas; South Carolina Republican Senator Lindsey Graham said this past week that the GOP has gone "batshit crazy," and joked that it would be possible to get away with murdering Ted Cruz if it happened in the Senate; Apple and the Federal Bureau of Investigation continued their battle over the FBI's demand that Apple write software to allow them to unlock an iPhone belonging to a terror suspect*; a man in Kentucky is recovering from severe burns he suffered when his e-cigarette apparently exploded in his pocket**; and the Iowa state legislature has approved a new law which allows children of any age to use a handgun with adult supervision.

As we limp, awash in political buffoonery, into the last weekend of this election-year February, we can probably all use some good cartoons. Considering the horrifying spectre of a Donald Trump or Ted Cruz presidency, here are is a selection of cartoons about life in Hell ...

I've often thought there was a special place for these people ...

Hell, 21st century ...

Wish you were here (instead of me) ...

The snack bar in Hell ...

Another good source of management interns would be the IRS ...

Well, what else would it have been? ...

Oh, how some of us can relate ...

I think this would probably be my sentence ...

And no handguns, either ...

Finally, you had to see this one coming ...

And that's it, Dear Readers, for our last Cartoon Saturday for the month. I hope you enjoyed it.

It looks as if, after a few days of heavy storms and rain, we're in for a fairly nice weekend weather-wise. On today's agenda is doing some wall-patching and painting in Agnes's sewing room and finalizing all the data we still owe our tax preparer***, and tomorrow we'll be going to Sunday brunch with the local grandchildren. It all looks promising.

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


* Oh, and by the way, it could also be used to unlock any other phone using the same software, including yours and mine. Just sayin' ...

** Yes, smoking is dangerous to your health, no matter how you do it.

*** Speaking of Hell.

Friday, February 26, 2016

The Left-Cheek Ass Clown for February, 2016

Well, Dear Readers, we have reached the time to announce

The Left-Cheek Ass Clown for February, 2016

It's difficult to turn away from the enormous numbers of worthy Ass Clowns running for President and making utter fools of themselves in Congress, but occasionally we need to share the spotlight and shower dishonor on deserving ass clowns from other walks of life, and even other countries. And so it is that we name as the Left-Cheek Ass Clown for February, 2016

Martin Peter Trenneborg

Trenneborg, a 38 year-old resident of Kristianstad, Sweden, was in search of a girlfriend and, eschewing other approaches to resolving the problem, sedated a young woman with strawberries laced with the date-rape drug Rohypnol, kidnapped her, and held her captive for six days in an underground concrete bunker at his home. When he learned from news broadcasts that police were searching for the woman, Trenneborg took her to the local police station so she could let the officers know that the two of them were "a couple." The police, sensing something a bit odd, interviewed the woman in private*, after which Trenneborg was taken into custody as a guest of the state.

This week, Trenneborg was sentenced to ten years in prison for kidnapping and false imprisonment, although he was acquitted on a charge of rape because of "insufficient evidence."

For his illegal, immoral, and ultimately stupid approach to finding a girlfriend, Martin Peter Trenneborg is named our Left-Cheek Ass Clown for February, 2016. One wonders if he will end up being someone else's unwilling girlfriend during his prison term.

Have a good day, and come back tomorrow for Cartoon Saturday. More thoughts then.


* A serious weakness in Dr Trenneborg's plan.

Thursday, February 25, 2016

Rescue Roaches

I don't think there are many things on earth more disgusting than cockroaches*, but it turns out that they have their uses, more or less.

I call your attention to this fascinating article from the Washington Post: How One of Nature’s Grossest Creatures Could Help Save Someone’s Life. It seems that researchers looking for ways to rescue people trapped in collapsed buildings or mine cave-ins have taken an interest in the ability of the lowly cockroach to squeeze through the smallest of spaces and survive many pounds of crushing pressure, and are trying to apply the science of cockroach armor and survival to the development of search-and-rescue robots that can find people trapped in otherwise impenetrable piles of rubble.

Scientists who have studied the cockroach note that it combines a soft body with overlapping plates of flexible armor that allow it to compress itself to a mere quarter of its normal height. And it's fast - according to a researcher quoted in the article, an American cockroach can travel the equivalent of 50 lengths of its own body in a second, which would be the equivalent of you or I running more than 140 mph. Even when the roach compresses itself to squeeze through a miniscule opening, it can still cover 20 body lengths per second, which is pretty good for a disgusting insect that isn't running for office. And on top of that, a roach standing still can survive the application of up to 900 times its body weight before it reaches its crush point ... a useful ability for something you might want to send into tiny, dangerously unstable places.

So you can see that the combination of speed, agility, compressibility, and armored strength makes the much-maligned cockroach a useful model for search robots. The researchers have already developed a prototype they call the CRAM - "Compressible Robot with Articulated Mechanisms" - but note that while it mimics the desirable features of the roach**, it still needs to be miniaturized and equipped with the various sensors and control devices that will allow it to function as a useful search-and-rescue device.

Someday, Dear Readers, you may owe your life to a robot inspired by a cockroach. But while you may find that idea revolting, consider what might have been inspired by Ted Cruz or Donald Trump.


Have a good day. Come back tomorrow for the naming of our Left-Cheek Ass Clown for February. More thoughts then.


* Well, except for politicians, Internet trolls, and religious bigots that - unfortunately - we can't stomp on or spray to eradicate.

** You should pardon the expression.

Wednesday, February 24, 2016

The Changing Nature of My Junk Mail

Junk mail, and it's electronic cousin, spam, are an unfortunate fact of life. The mailbox we wish was filled with chatty letters from friends and relatives is usually choked instead with advertisements, charity requests, bills, and other assorted wastes of paper, just as our e-mail in-boxes are filled with ads for Viagra and Cialis; breast enhancement and other types of cosmetic surgery; nutritional supplements; Russian girls in search of husbands; and messages from itinerant Nigerian princes in need of assistance with transferring funds.

What's interesting is how the percentage composition of this junk mail changes over time. Where a larger portion of my junk mail used to consist of come-ons from dating services*, I'm now getting lots of ads for retirement communities, Medicare supplements, funeral insurance, cemetery plots, and drugs targeting the various afflictions of the elderly**.

How do I get on all these mailing lists, and how are things targeted specifically at me or folks like me?

Well, we all know that every time you sign up for a store "discount card" or join an organization, the information you provide is immediately sold to information brokers***, who compile it and sell it to businesses who wish to separate you from your money. The percentage of my junk mail focused on age-based ads skyrocketed when I joined AARP, and as soon as we took our first cruise, we began getting come-ons from every cruise line and vacation broker on earth. Contribute to any charity and give them your e-mail address, and every other charity in the known universe will be trying to tap into your generosity. Register for a sweepstakes or other giveaway that requires you to leave your e-mail address or phone number, and you'll get onto dozens of mailing lists totally unrelated to what you thought you were signing up for.

I think it's funny that we get hysterical over Jackbooted Government ThugsTM who want to harvest our personal information, and yet we willingly give it up to people, businesses, and organizations who tell us up front that are going to misuse it.

Well, I'd write more, but I owe that Nigerian prince an answer about helping him transfer money. I wonder if he'd mind if I sell his e-mail address to a Viagra broker?

Have a good day. More thoughts tomorrow.


* Oddly enough, I still seem to get a lot of ads from, Christian Mingle, and J-Date ... proof positive that whoever is sending this stuff neither knows nor cares to know anything useful about me.

** Viagra and Cialis, as well as various drugs for diabetes, joint pain, and better sleeping.

*** You agreed to it in accordance with paragraph 692x(937)(zj)[866][yyy], subparagraph 397q(99)(gy) of the 462-page agreement you clicked to accept without taking it to your attorney first.

Tuesday, February 23, 2016

It's All About (Getting Rid of) the Benjamins

You are no doubt aware, Dear Readers, of many of the slang terms that are employed to describe our currency, usually in reference to the person on the front: the dollar bill is often called a "George," the five a "Ham" (short for Abraham Lincoln), and the hundred-dollar bill is often called a "Benjamin" in honor of Benjamin Franklin. The hundred-dollar bill is the largest bill in general circulation in the United States, and has become a symbol of wealth and greed, as in the street slang expression "it's all about the Benjamins."

But there is a fairly serious move afoot now to do away with the venerable Benjamin, for a number of reasons. The most important is that it has become the bill of choice for criminals, who must move hundreds of millions of dollars every year. Most of us never need to think about the logistics of moving that much money, but it's quite a problem. A single $100 bill looks like this:

A million dollars in $100 bills looks like this when stacked in packets of $10,000 (each packet has one hundred hundreds) ... you could probably fit it into a normal suitcase:

But a hundred million dollars in $10,000 bundles looks like this when stacked on a standard cargo pallet:

Now, imagine you are a drug kingpin who needs to move many hundreds of millions of ill-gotten dollars ... and you need to use $50 bills ... or, worse, $20s. The volume would be far beyond your ability to easily and safely transport.

So, one reason for doing away with the Benjamin is to make life difficult for criminals. If you're interested in a more detailed analysis of how eliminating the hundred dollar bill (and the five-hundred euro bill as well) can serve the war on crime, you can read this study by Peter Sands of Harvard's Kennedy School of Government - Making it Harder for the Bad Guys: The Case for Eliminating High Denomination Notes

Another reason for doing away with high denomination bills like the Benjamin is that it's often difficult for small businesses to make change for such large bills ... not to mention the merchant's suspicion that they may be counterfeit, and consequent reluctance to accept them at all.

You can read a good article on this issue (where I got the idea for this post) here. And if you're interested, you can go back to August of 2014 and read my earlier post on the topic. As the motto of a committee to which I once belonged said, "No Horse Too Dead."

Have a good day. Spend those Benjamins while you've got 'em.

More thoughts tomorrow.


Monday, February 22, 2016

Musical Monday

Back when I was doing my radio show*, I had a theme for each program. One of the themes I used was "Same Title, Different Song," as opposed to different covers of the same song by different artists. For today's Musical Monday, here's a sample from my "Same Title, Different Song" playlist, featuring two songs titled "Operator" ... first, the classic by Jim Croce; then the very different "Operator" done a few years later by Manhattan Transfer. I loved both songs, each of them great in its own way. Here's Jim Croce to lead off ...

... and here's Manhattan Transfer ...

A related song was the 1984 hit "Smooth Operator" by Sade, but since the title wasn't exactly the same, I didn't include it. It's a great song also, and I'll feature it on a future Musical Monday.

Have a good day. Operators are standing by. More thoughts tomorrow.


* "The Audio Attic" on WEBR, Fairfax County Public Access Radio.

Sunday, February 21, 2016

Poetry Sunday

I've often thought about the moments on which my life turned ... when a decision I made or an action I took or didn't take changed the course of my life and all the things that flowed from that moment in time. For example, on a February evening in 1982, I had been invited to a party being thrown by one of my newly-married friends. I'd made up my mind not to go, but changed my mind at the last minute because I found out that a young lady in whom I was interested was going to be there. I went to the party ... and the girl I'd gone to see didn't show up.  But another lady did ... and Agnes and I were married seven months later.

This poem by Mark Strand considers one of those moments on which a life might turn, and on the might-have-beens that follow from it ...

by Mark Strand

A white room and a party going on
and I was standing with some friends
under a large gilt-framed mirror
that tilted slightly forward
over the fireplace.
We were drinking whiskey
and some of us, feeling no pain,
were trying to decide
what precise shade of yellow
the setting sun turned our drinks.
I closed my eyes briefly,
then looked up into the mirror:
a woman in a green dress leaned
against the far wall.
She seemed distracted,
the fingers of one hand
fidgeted with her necklace,
and she was staring into the mirror,
not at me, but past me, into a space
that might be filled by someone
yet to arrive, who at that moment
could be starting the journey
which would lead eventually to her.
Then, suddenly, my friends
said it was time to move on.
This was years ago,
and though I have forgotten
where we went and who we all were,
I still recall that moment of looking up
and seeing the woman stare past me
into a place I could only imagine,
and each time it is with a pang,
as if just then I were stepping
from the depths of the mirror
into that white room, breathless and eager,
only to discover too late
that she is not there.

Have a good day. More thoughts tomorrow.


Saturday, February 20, 2016

Cartoon Saturday

As we come to the end of another miserable week, there's nothing like some good cartoons to cheer us up. But first, this news ...

Harper Lee, author of the classic American novel To Kill a Mockingbird, died on Friday at age 89; Donald Trump managed to find himself described as "not a Christian" by no less an authority than Pope Francis, whose remarks were described by Mr Trump as "disgraceful;" 18 year-old Malachi Love-Robinson was arrested in Florida for impersonating a doctor ... he defended his actions by telling a reporter that "just because someone has a title 'doctor' in front of their name does not necessarily imply M.D."; Apple is embroiled in a privacy and civil liberties dispute with the FBI over the agency's demand that it unlock an iPhone belonging to a man who murdered 14 people at a Christmas party last December; and in Kenya, a group of lions escaped from a park on Friday and were said to be in a residential area of Nairobi, reportedly searching for the location of the local Lions Club chapter.

In honor of my mail, which nowadays consists of Medicare come-ons and ads for cemetery plots, let's enjoy a collection of cartoons about aging ...

My fellow vets will appreciate this ...

We're getting there ...

I can appreciate this ...

I also enjoy being asked for my ID when my supermarket purchase includes a bottle of wine ...

Agnes and I are both good at this ...

Yep, that's me ...

Nothing like getting an early start on feelings of old age ...

Looking waaaaay back ...

As I've often said, getting old is the pits, but it does beat the alternative ...

Finally, this one pretty much summarizes how I see our retirement plan ...

After a few weeks of bitter cold, rain, snow, and ice, it looks as if we're going to have a pretty nice weekend, with temperatures today possibly reaching the 60s. This almost certainly means, given the vagaries of NoVa weather, that we'll have another three feet of snow by midweek.

So what's on your agenda for the weekend? We'll be rearranging the furniture in Agnes's workshop (again) and gathering up the last figures and documents we need for our tax return. We met with our tax advisor yesterday afternoon and discovered that our tax picture isn't as dismal as we thought ... complicated, to be sure, but it looks as if we won't go to jail this year. Nice to know we have something in common with the 1%.

Have a good day and enjoy the weekend. See you tomorrow for Poetry Sunday. More thoughts then.


Friday, February 19, 2016

Great Moments in Editing

Yep, it's that time again ... let's blow the dust off another stack of Great Moments in Editing!

You say tomato, I say tomahto ...

Thanks, I'll just stick with the white rice ...

Before and after? Really? ...

Yes, I think that would be a clue ...

Well, that would defeat the purpose, wouldn't it? ...

Protecting your confidentiality since ... uh ... what time is it, now? ...

Shots? Wormed? Tails docked? ...

Yes, I imagine that would constitute grounds for divorce ...

It probably helps keep your watchdog awake on the late shift ...

Anything I can say at this point will only make things worse ...

And there you have it: another collection of editorial gems for your amusement. Want to continue to be amused? Come back tomorrow for Cartoon Saturday. More thoughts then.


Thursday, February 18, 2016

Do Your Job!

The untimely death* of Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia has had the collateral effect of tremendously enlarging the diameter of the rings of the Congressional three-ring circus. Justice Scalia's body was still warm when Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R, KY) grandly announced that Congress would refuse to take up any nomination President Obama made to fill the vacancy, citing a supposed policy** that mandates that lame duck presidents are not permitted to make judicial appointments in the last year of their term.***

If we needed any more evidence of the utter bankruptcy of sober statesmanship in Congress, this provided it.

I can understand that Republicans - obsessed with their hatred for President Obama and liberal Democrats - would reflexively oppose giving him the opportunity to fill a Supreme Court vacancy. But announcing up front - before any nomination had even been considered, much less announced - that Congress would take no action on any nomination until after the election is so blatantly unconstitutional that one wonders why Republican heads don't explode from sheer gall overdose. Article II, Section 2, Clause 2, states that "[The President] shall have power, by and with the advice and consent of the Senate, to ... appoint Judges of the supreme Court." It doesn't state that "[The President] shall have power, by and with the advice and consent of the Senate, to ... appoint Judges of the supreme Court, except when he's in his final term of office." For those who loudly rail about "original intent" and "strict constructionism," this is some pretty amazing mental contortionism.

I understand the Republican fear that the President might appoint an "activist" judge who would "legislate from the bench." They argue that important issues of policy must be settled in the legislature and not in the courts ... we have, after all, an entire branch of government that is supposed to be devoted to legislating, and it's not the judicial branch. This, however, presupposes that we have a functioning legislature ... which we don't. Legislation from the bench starts to look like a reasonable alternative when lawmakers don't execute their responsibility to legislate from the legislature.

A few years back in my office we had a mantra we were fond of chanting when we were faced with intransigent or lazy behavior on the part of other offices ... drawn out and spoken with a deep growl of disgust, it went,

"Dew yer jaaaaahhhhhbbbbb!!"

I'm saying that a lot lately as I observe the clown show where Congress used to be.

Have a good day. More thoughts tomorrow.


* Can a death be timely? Discuss.

** The so-called "Thurmond Rule."

*** This is the same policy to which Senator McConnell was inflexibly opposed when Democrats tried to invoke it.

† As it happens, I agree.

Wednesday, February 17, 2016

Wee, Wee, Wee All the Way Home

As part of my ongoing quest to share vital information with you – information that you might not receive from other sources – I call your attention to this interesting article from CNN: The Pee Color Spectrum – What It Means.

You may not have known, or paid much attention to, the color of your urine, but it provides you and your doctor vital information about the state of your health. Here is a summary of the colors and what they mean, summarized from the article:

Clear. You’re drinking plenty of water. No problem, unless you are getting tired of spending too much time in the bathroom.

Pale Yellow. This is normal. No need to call your doctor unless you see it running down your leg at unexpected times.

Bright Yellow. This indicates you have an excess of B vitamins in your system, not that you are a coward. It’s normal, and is just your urine’s way of telling you you’re packing too much riboflavin.

Brownish-Yellow. If your pee is this color, it’s carrying a high concentration of the evil stuff urine is supposed to remove from your body. You should probably drink more water.

Brown. A brown color can indicate the presence of myoglobin, a protein found in muscle, in the urine. It can indicate rhabdomyolysis (sometimes shortened to "rhabdo"), which is a form of muscle damage that causes muscle fibers to die and leach into the bloodstream. If your pee looks like your poop, call your doctor.

Greenish-Blue or Orange. Certain medications can result in urine that’s one of these colors. If you’re not taking any medication, you may want to consult your doctor.

Pink or Red. You may have eaten too many beets. Or you may have blood in your urine, which is a bad thing. Or you just might be one of those damn socialists the Republicans are worried are taking over the country from Real Americans.

There are lots of useful charts available on the Internet to help you evaluate the meaning of your urine's color ... here's one that relates urine color to your degree of hydration:

And the guidelines may be easier to remember with a slightly different approach to color:

Drink up, Dear Readers, and - like the little piggy - you can cry "wee, wee, wee!" all the way home.

Have a good day. Stay hydrated. More thoughts tomorrow.


Tuesday, February 16, 2016


A few days ago Andrea wrote a post titled "Are You Entitled?" in which she loosed a minor rant about the subject of entitlements and what we are entitled to ... a list that included food, clean water, health care, and education. Her last line pretty much summed it up: "... there is very little we are really entitled to, without working for it, or trying to work for it."

I thought I'd piggyback on Andrea's post with a few comments of my own on the subject of entitlements.

In what passes for current political discourse, the word entitlements is usually spoken with a sneer of disdain by conservatives, who tend to define it as "something given by the government and paid for by a hardworking American to someone who didn't earn it and doesn't deserve it."

Not so fast there, bucko.

Social Security is considered an entitlement program, but I have paid into it my entire working life, and so yes, I believe I'm entitled to the monthly check I'll start drawing soon.

Medicare is also considered an entitlement program ... but because one pays premiums for its coverage, I believe they're entitled to it.

Some would consider my military pension an entitlement ... to which I'm entitled by paying 23 years of my life for it.

Things get more murky when we talk about things to which I think we should all be entitled, but are less clear in funding. I personally believe everyone is entitled to a basic education at least through high school, followed by either a trade school certificate or a collegiate baccalaureate degree. It's true that we'll always need dishwashers and mechanics and street sweepers, but a modern, high-tech world needs people with advanced education to drive the nation forward. I don't think there's a more important investment we can make than universal, free education for all who want it.

I also think we're entitled to air we can breathe, water we can drink, food that's safe to eat, and medicine that's safe to take. If your business pollutes the air, poisons the water, or provides the food we eat and the medicines our doctors prescribe, you should be required to bear the cost of treating your waste and keeping your products safe. Obviously, businesses aren't known for their altruism ... they will pass these costs on to consumers ... but they have to be borne one way or another, because free education doesn't mean much if you're dead.

I also think that everyone is entitled to free basic health care, and I like the idea of something like Bernie Sanders' "Medicare for All" concept, using a single-payer plan funded by a tax in the same way Social Security is funded. I can hear the howls of horror and outrage already as conservatives rail against socialized medicine (whatever that is) in which decisions about our health are made not by doctors but by ... gasp! ... government bureaucrats. The horror! Of course, one might ask what the difference is between decisions made by "government bureaucrats" and decisions made by the "insurance company bureaucrats" that make those decisions now* ... but obviously faceless insurance company bureaucrats represent the triumph of free enterprise, while faceless government bureaucrats represent meddlesome and incompetent government.

I know I've been rambling and sarcastic, but my point is this: there are entitlements and there are entitlements. They all have to be paid for somehow, and so if you're going to thunder about the fiscal horror of entitlements, make sure you understand what type they are, what their benefits are, how they're being funded, and what we get that we pay for.

And now I'm entitled to stop writing.

Have a good day. More thoughts tomorrow.


* Case in point: our dentist has gone through hell with our dental insurance company to get paid for the extensive work Agnes has had done in the past year. Over a period of nearly a year, the insurance company rejected our dentist's repeated requests for payment, insisting on more and more documentation, including additional copies of x-rays already submitted, and eventually paying its own estimate of what it thought was the right amount. In the end, our dentist wrote off a significant chunk of his bill ... good news for us, but he's a businessman, after all, and I'd rather he didn't remember having taken a loss on us the next time we go in with dental problems.

Monday, February 15, 2016

Musical Monday

I have an enormous collection of songs, most of them in English, but many also in German (but you figured that, didn't you?), French, Spanish, Italian, and even Hungarian. The German language has an unfortunate reputation for being harsh and unmelodic, but it can be every bit as beautiful in its way as French or Spanish, both of which are usually considered easier on the ear*.

Since yesterday was Valentine's Day, the day on which we celebrate love in all its various forms, I thought I'd pick a nice love song for today's Musical Monday, and the one I've chosen is this marvelous song by German folk singer Reinhard Mey titled "Herbstgewitter über Dächern," or "Autumn Thunderstorms over the Rooftops." Much of the beauty of the song beyond the melody will be lost on those of you who don't speak German, but here's the basic idea: the singer imagines losing each of his senses, and yet understanding each one through the things his lover does. It's a wonderful song, and I hope you enjoy it ...

Here's my imperfect translation of the second verse ...

Straßenlärm und Musikboxen
Weh'n ein Lied irgendwo her
Düsengrollen, Lachen, Rufen
Plötzlich Stille ringsumher
Hätt' ich all das nie vernommen
Wär' für alles taub und hört'
Nur ein Wort von dir gesprochen
Sag' ich doch, ich hab' gehört

Street noise and music boxes,
A song coming from somewhere,
Airplane noises, laughter, shouting –
And suddenly stillness all around.
If I’d never heard any of it,
If I were deaf to everything, 
and heard but a single word you spoke,
I’d know that I'd been able to hear.

Have a good day, and pick up a second language. You'll thank me later. 

More thoughts coming.


* An old joke says you should speak French to your lover, Spanish to your friends, and German to your enemies.

Sunday, February 14, 2016

Poetry Sunday

Today is February 14th, Valentine's Day, and it seems appropriate to feature a poem about love ...

The Wall Hanging I Never Noticed
by Dorothea Lasky

I never noticed before
How the red flowers hang from the blue branches
I never noticed before the light in this room
I never noticed the way the air is cool again
I never noticed anything but you
But you but you
So that I couldn’t sleep
I never noticed what was anything but you
Until I noticed you
And could not help it
Until I noticed you I could not help it
Until you made the red flowers alive again
Until the blue branches
The lemons you loved, but also the way you loved me, too
Until all of this I never noticed you
But once I did
I never minded noticing
I never stopped noticing
Until I noticed you
I never stopped noticing
Until you, I never stopped

Never stop noticing those you love.

Have a good day, and come back tomorrow for Musical Monday. More thoughts then.


Saturday, February 13, 2016

Cartoon Saturday

Two weeks of February down, two to go, and more than a month until the first day of Spring. Oy.

Senator Ted Cruz's campaign pulled one of its television ads after it was discovered that an actress in the ad was an adult film performer*; In Columbus, Ohio, four people were injured when a man wielding a machete attacked customers and employees in a local restaurant ... the NRA issued a statement reminding everyone that only a good guy with a machete can stop a bad guy with a machete; 46 prison guards in Georgia were arrested in an FBI sting that targeted a massive drug ring; in Oklahoma City, a 20 year-old man was arrested for shooting his grandparents at their day care facility, and then beheading them; and in Cleveland, Ohio, public outrage forced the city to stop its attempt to bill the family of a 12 year-old boy for an ambulance ride after the child was mistakenly shot by police.

I really couldn't make this stuff up.

There are a lot of things that are bugging me lately, so let's lead off this week's Cartoon Saturday with a few cartoons about ... well ... bugs ...

Caution: pickup artist at work ...

Busted!! ...

The Houdini of butterflies ...

Well, he does look a little young ...

Well, there's nothing wrong with a little positive thinking, is there? ...

I have a similar problem ...

Even the world of bugs and slugs has to worry about the crazies ...

Turning to a few other topics ...

You just know that this is what's going through the mind of a politician at a press conference ...

Well, he's consistent ...

And finally for this week, a cartoon that truly speaks to me as I get ready to move into retirement ...

It's going to be a bone-chillingly cold weekend here in NoVa (I can already hear the wind howling outside my study window), which may be good for Valentine's Day ... it'll be good weather for snuggling in front of the fire under a pile of quilts. At least the weatherman isn't using the "s" word in his forecasts until Monday.

Have a good day and a great Presidents' Day weekend, and give your Valentine a kiss and a hug while you're at it. See you tomorrow for Poetry Sunday.


* Her line was, "Maybe you should vote for more than just another pretty face next time."