Tuesday, October 31, 2017


Today (tonight, actually) is Halloween, the day when when evil, bloodsucking creatures swoop down on their unsuspecting prey, and legions of the undead lurch blindly around in search of brains.

But enough about the IRS and Congress.

My friend Mary is always a good source of interesting linguistic items, and she came through the other day with this word she spotted in a pub in Dublin, Ireland: samhainophobia - "a persistent, abnormal, and unwarranted fear of Halloween, despite conscious understanding by the phobic individual and reassurance by others that there is no danger."

The origin of the word traces back to the Celtic word Samhuin which, in turn, is derived from two Old Irish words: sam, meaning "summer", and fuin, meaning "end." Christians refer to Samhain as All Hallows Eve, although the feast of Samhuin predates the introduction of Christianity to Ireland, by at about 4000 years.

So, if you're afraid of Halloween in general, rather than of zombies, vampires, ghosts, ghouls, werewolves, or Republicans specifically, you suffer from samhainophobia.

Take two wolfsbane tablets, wear a garlic necklace, stock up on stakes and silver bullets, and call me in the morning.

Have a good day. More thoughts tomorrow.


Monday, October 30, 2017

The Pittsburgh Potty

Having been gone from my home town for many years, and advancing in age, I've succumbed to the usual pangs of nostalgia for the good old days. Of course, the good old days weren't always as good as we like to remember ... as a consummate nerd, I was well and thoroughly bullied back in elementary and high school, but time tends to sand off the edges of the bad memories, and I've since reconnected with many of the old high school crowd (although not the bullies).

But aside from all that, there's an element of Pittsburgh nostalgia that came back when I read this article - What the Heck Is a 'Pittsburgh Potty' and Why Is It in Your Basement?

A "Pittsburgh Potty" is an ordinary toilet, but one that sits in an unusual place - usually right out in the open in the basement of older homes in the Steel City.

Considering that the toilet is usually employed in the service of functions that call for privacy, why does a Pittsburgh Potty sit in the open?

I'd never thought much about it, but the article has an interesting discussion of the history of the eponymous potty, and offers two competing theories. One relates it to the needs of the miners and steelworkers of the Pittsburgh region who would come home from work utterly filthy and enter their homes through basement doors or "mud rooms" where they could clean off the worst of the mess before going into the living areas. The other, which may be the more accurate, suggests that the toilets were placed in basements in order to keep frequent sewage backups at the lowest and easiest-cleaned level of the home.

Regardless of the real reason, I doubt that the old Pittsburgh Potty would be accepted in the wildly overpriced McMansions that we see here in NoVa.

Just plumbing the depths of history for you to start the new week.

Have a good day. More thoughts tomorrow.


Sunday, October 29, 2017

Musical Sunday

Halloween is almost here ... on Tuesday, ghosts, goblins, zombies, vampires, and monsters of all sorts will walk our streets in search of treats. For our final Musical Sunday before the Big Day, I thought we'd call up a version of the classic tune "The Monster Mash" ... the original was done by Bobby "Boris" Pickett, but this version was performed by the famous actor Vincent Price, with a guest appearance by his fellow horror actor John Carradine ...

Happy Halloween ... bwa, ha, HAAAAA!!!

Later today I'll be joining my friends at Dance Studio Lioudmila in Alexandria as I emcee Lioudmila's 2017 Fall Showcase ... it's going to be a rainy, yucky day, so what better way to spend it than surrounded by beautiful ladies and great dancing?

Life's good!

Have a good day, and enjoy the rest of your weekend. More thoughts tomorrow.


Saturday, October 28, 2017

Cartoon Saturday

Speaking of scary things ...

Rock and Roll legend Antoine "Fats" Domino died this week at the age of 89; the National Park Service has proposed more than doubling the entrance fees at 17 popular national parks, including Grand Canyon, Yosemite, and Yellowstone, to help pay for infrastructure improvementsa judge in Portugal ruled that a man shouldn't have to serve jail time in the savage beating of his ex-wife, because she had "dishonored" him by her infidelity; the National Park Service is denying a permit to a group that has applied to place a 45-foot statue of a naked woman on the National Mall near the Washington Monument, because it exceeds height restrictions for temporary structures and could damage the turf; and in a party-line vote, House Republicans passed a GOP budget resolution that includes a $1.5-trillion deficit increase to fund tax cuts advocated by the Trump administration.

For our final Halloween-month Cartoon Saturday, we feature cartoons about the other walking dead - mummies ...

The old dust-and-grind ...

Oh, that's going to hurt ...

Yes, this would be embarrassing* ...

Awww** ...

I can see where this would be a problem ...

Well, what other sort of music would a mummy listen to? ...

True ...

I can see the problem ...

It's all in how you look at it ...

I always wondered about this when I watched the old mummy movies ...

And that's a wrap!

Have a good day and a great weekend ... more thoughts tomorrow, when we have our final Musical Sunday offering for this Halloween season.


* This was the idea behind one of the funniest and most original ballroom dance routines ever, danced by Nicholas Cotton and Maria Hansen. Watch it here.

** If you've never seen it, the episode of Steven Spielberg's Amazing Stories titled "Mummy Daddy" is hysterical. Watch it here.

Friday, October 27, 2017

Great Moments in Editing and Signage

The last batch for October ...

As we move through Fall and approach the onset of Winter, accurate weather forecasts are important ...

I guess the local VFW hall was already booked ...

Bring your own bus?? ...

Built-in panty. Now, there's a drawing point ...

It's obviously for typists and not for mathematicians ...

The man to ask when you need to know when the next shipment of frozen heads will come in ...

I think this must be one of those new fad diets ...

Speaking for old guys everywhere, I worry about this, too ...

My father was an advertising photographer, and kept a rolodex full of names of models sorted by their most photogenic attributes - hands*, legs**, etc. As far as I remember, though, he never had to get this specialized ...

When you need to consult a grammarian or a typesetter rather than a theologian ...

And there it is - your last collection of Great Moments in Editing and Signage for the month of October, 2017. Be sure to join us tomorrow for the final Cartoon Saturday of our Halloween Marathon - more thoughts then.


* Dad once needed a man with very large hands for a shoot, and he thought of our parish priest, Father Rogers, who was a very large man. Unfortunately, he turned out to have small hands. 

** Our cousin Pat was listed under "L" for "legs." 

Thursday, October 26, 2017

The Scariest Town Names in America

With Halloween approaching, our thoughts turn to horrible, scary things. I mean, other than the Trump presidency. We fall back on our age-old fears of darkness and the evil things that move in it, seeking to do us harm. We cower in the corners, turn on the lights, and whistle past the graveyards.

For some reason, we have decided to give some of our towns names that evoke fear and terror, and this article from HouseBeautiful.com lists 31* of the scariest town names in the country. I won't list all 31; you can read them for yourself at the linked article, but these few are the ones that most made me wonder what the person who named the town was thinking ...

Gnaw Bone, Indiana. Hungry? Somebody must have been.

Hell, Michigan. Everybody knows this one ... at least once each winter there's a news story about low temperatures here with the headline "Hell Freezes Over."

Dead Woman's Crossing, Oklahoma. I really don't want to know.

Frankenstein, Missouri. Do you suppose that the local high school pep rallies have the students bearing torches and pitchforks?

Slaughter Beach, Delaware. Umm ... I think I'll just keep going to Chincoteague.

Satan's Kingdom, Massachusetts (also one in Connecticut). One wonders why there's a town with a name like this at a time when lots of people are incensed over an imaginary "War on Christmas" ... you'd think they'd have mounted a campaign to rename it something like "Holier Than Thou."


Screamer, Alabama. Contrary to what you may have heard, it was not named for the reaction of many people to the Senate candidacy of Roy Moore.

Any frightening town names near where you live? Leave a comment and help the rest of us get ready for Halloween, bwa-ha-HAAAAA!

Have a good day, and come back tomorrow for the latest collection of Great Moments in Editing and Signage. More thoughts then.


* Why 31? Why not 13, which seems like a more appropriate number? Discuss.

Wednesday, October 25, 2017

I Want This for My Back Yard

Dear Readers, you already know that I have a thing for Really Big Houses ... you may recall that I've posted on the topic before - here and here. Well, it's one thing to have a Really Big House, but it could be even better to have just the right outbuildings to go with it. For instance, I've recently run across photos of some really beautiful Victorian-style greenhouses that could help me up my gardening game. I could see myself owning this one

or this one 

And couldn't I have a great garden in either one, eh?

My birthday is coming up, so let me know if you want to donate to the Buy Bilbo a Victorian Greenhouse Fund. I'll even name a plant after you.

Have a good day. More thoughts tomorrow.


Tuesday, October 24, 2017

Jobs That No Longer Exist

Before the so-called "war on coal," there were a lot of jobs that were going away as a result of the onward march of invention and technology. An interesting article I saw recently on Dusty Old Thing listed Ten Jobs That No Longer Exist ... you can read the whole list for yourself at the site, but I thought these ones were especially interesting:

Telephone Operator. Nowadays, all your calls are automatically switched. Telephone operators exist only in songs by Jim Croce and Manhattan Transfer. Sigh.

Gandy Dancer. No, not someone you'd see on Dancing with the Stars. A gandy dancer was a railroad track maintenance worker in the days before specialized automatic track laying and repair machines. I remember seeing a Blondie cartoon years ago in which Dagwood was showing his children photos of distant relations in the Bumstead family, one of whom was a cousin whose business had failed ... he "sold steel-toed sneakers to gandy dancers." Now I understand the joke.

Radio Actor. I think this one is sad. I love old-time radio programs, and often listen to the classic shows played on The Big Broadcast every Sunday night on my local NPR station. Radio comedy and drama exercise the imagination as nothing else does (well, except reading, but work with me, here, okay). I had my own radio program for nine years, and loved the adventure of putting each show together and doing my own sound effects.

Lamplighter. In the days before electric lighting, there were people who went through the cities lighting the candles or the oil and gas lights. Today, we don't have lamplighters, we have gaslighters, and some of us elect them to office.

Milk Man. I remember when the fellow from Otto's Suburban Dairy delivered our milk right to the insulated box at the back door. I'm really dating myself, here.

Food Safety Tester. Well, you certainly wouldn't find any of those in the Trump-era FDA, even if they were still around. What a useless interference by an overbearing government in the affairs of business!

And there's one more interesting job that doesn't exist any more, this one from a somewhat longer article on the same topic in GoodHousekeeping.com -

Gong Farmer. A gong farmer* was a person who dug out and removed human waste from privies and cesspits before the advent of modern sewage systems. We don't have traditional gong farmers nowadays, other than those engaged in conducting opposition research in political campaigns.

I guess there are some jobs even Donald Trump can't bring back.

Have a good day. More thoughts tomorrow.


* Linguistic note: "Gong" as used in this expression is derived from the Old English word "gang," which means "to go," and is in turn derived from the German verb "gehen" ("to go"), the past tense of which is "ging."

Monday, October 23, 2017

Why I Think the Way I Do

I'm sure it comes as no surprise to you, Dear Readers, that I think Donald Trump is a complete disaster as president, and that I really don't understand how some people can continue blindly to support him despite all evidence of the kind of person he is, the damage he is doing to the nation, and his complete lack of practical, ethical, and human qualifications for the position.

But one thing I've observed over the years is that one's position on any issue is a result of that person's life and personal experiences. This is why I try my best to understand people who see issues differently - or totally opposite - from the way I do. And so it occurred to me that it might be useful to spend some time in this space explaining to you where I come from, why I think the way I do, and why I'm just absolutely unable to fathom how the greatest country on earth has come to this point.

There's some fairly personal stuff ahead, so I'll understand if you don't want to read it ... you can just come back tomorrow and read some other stuff, and I won't mind a bit. You've been warned ... here we go ...

In a few weeks, I'll be 66 years old (yes, I'm a "boomer," with all the baggage that comes with it). I'm retired (twice), living on my military pension, Social Security, and investments. I've always been fiscally conservative, but living on a fixed income makes it a lot more important to watch the old cash flow. I'm watching the financial news a lot more closely nowadays.

I was born into a middle-class family in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. My father ran his own business as an advertising illustrator, and my mother stayed at home with us until we were all older; she then went to work, eventually retiring as an executive secretary at an insurance company. My parents were fiscally conservative, strict but fair, and well-educated.

My parents were always polite and considerate of others, and raised us to be the same. I believe in treating everyone with dignity and respect until they show they aren't willing to reciprocate.

And my parents both had marvelous senses of humor - Dad with shaggy dog stories and Mom with puns. I like to think I have a good sense of humor, and I try not to take myself too seriously ... by the same token, I don't think much of those who are full of themselves.

I went to a parochial elementary school and a public high school. Both were completely white ... I had no routine contact with blacks (or any other minority) on a daily basis until I went to college.

My undergraduate degree is in Linguistics, with a minor in German (in which I'm conversationally fluent). I am absolutely convinced of the value of learning a second language as a way of improving one's understanding of the rest of the world.

I served 23 years on active duty in the Air Force, retiring as a Lieutenant Colonel. One of my brothers retired from the Navy as a Warrant Officer, and the other enlisted in the Army (but didn't make it a career). If your idea of serving the nation consists of wearing L.L. Bean camouflage outfits, owning 30 guns, and running around in the woods waving a Gadsden flag and pretending to defend us against the Big Bad Government, rather than enlisting and serving in the armed forces to face a real enemy, I think your world view is pretty juvenile.

Speaking of serving in the armed forces, I believe it's a great way to expose people to members of other races, ethnicities, and religious beliefs. When your life may depend on being able to work closely with everyone else in your unit, it tends to help bring people together and foster understanding and cooperation.

I earned a Master's degree in International Relations while stationed in Germany. As a result of this education, living abroad, traveling extensively, serving in the Armed Forces, having friends in many foreign countries, and speaking another language, I tend to have a pretty internationalist point of view. Yes, putting America's interests first is important ... but in a world where every other country wants to put its own interests first, we need to learn how to balance our needs, wants, and interests with those of other countries so that - as much as possible - everyone walks away from the table with something.

I'm married to a wonderful lady who is a citizen of Germany and a permanent resident (Green Card holder) of the United States. We went through an amazing amount of time, effort, and bureaucracy to arrange her legal permanent residence, which is why I have no sympathy for those who believe it's all right to enter this country illegally. We are a nation of immigrants ... but we are also a nation of laws, and those who want to come here should be willing to abide by those laws. I'm on record with my proposal for fixing our immigration system ... unless you've got a better idea and are willing to put it out there for comment, just shut up about your stupid wall.

I have three grown children and six marvelous grandchildren. I care very much about the quality of the world that they will inherit, so if you're in favor of ignoring the science about climate change, if you support rolling back the regulations that have helped to give us breathable air, clean water, and safe foods and medicines, and if you refuse to vaccinate your children against disease, sorry - I think you're a fool.

I no longer adhere to any particular religious belief, because too many people who do have conspired to drive me away with their intolerance and (sorry) holier-than-thou attitude. It might be nice if some people could get back to something as simple as the old Golden Rule, rather than using their rigid religious beliefs as a club with which to beat those who believe differently.

Well, that's enough for now. Those are a few of the life experiences that have shaped my opinions and beliefs, and which may help you better understand why I rant the way I do on particular topics. What shapes your beliefs and political positions? I hope it's not some shouting head on Faux News or Infowars.com, or the latest lame-brained tweet from someone in high office. Leave a comment and let us know what sorts of things shape your approach to life.

Have a good day and a good week to come. More thoughts tomorrow.


Sunday, October 22, 2017

Poetry Sunday

Halloween is just over a week away and in keeping with our Halloween theme of cartoons and poetry for the month, here's an eerie classic by Edgar Allan Poe ...

Annabel Lee
by Edgar Allan Poe

It was many and many a year ago,
     In a kingdom by the sea,
That a maiden there lived whom you may know
     By the name of ANNABEL LEE;
And this maiden she lived with no other thought
     Than to love and be loved by me.

I was a child and she was a child,
     In this kingdom by the sea;
But we loved with a love that was more than love-
     I and my Annabel Lee;
With a love that the winged seraphs of heaven
     Coveted her and me.

And this was the reason that, long ago,
     In this kingdom by the sea,
A wind blew out of a cloud, chilling
     My beautiful Annabel Lee;
So that her highborn kinsman came
     And bore her away from me,
To shut her up in a sepulchre
     In this kingdom by the sea.

The angels, not half so happy in heaven,
     Went envying her and me-
Yes!- that was the reason (as all men know,
     In this kingdom by the sea)
That the wind came out of the cloud by night,
     Chilling and killing my Annabel Lee.

But our love it was stronger by far than the love
     Of those who were older than we-
     Of many far wiser than we-
And neither the angels in heaven above,
     Nor the demons down under the sea,
Can ever dissever my soul from the soul
     Of the beautiful Annabel Lee.

For the moon never beams without bringing me dreams
     Of the beautiful Annabel Lee;
And the stars never rise but I feel the bright eyes
     Of the beautiful Annabel Lee;
And so, all the night-tide, I lie down by the side
Of my darling- my darling- my life and my bride,
     In the sepulchre there by the sea,
     In her tomb by the sounding sea.

I love this poem, which I believe contains one of the most beautiful sequences ever written:

For the moon never beams without bringing me dreams
     Of the beautiful Annabel Lee;
And the stars never rise but I feel the bright eyes
     Of the beautiful Annabel Lee

Have a good day, and enjoy the rest of your weekend. More thoughts coming.


Saturday, October 21, 2017

Cartoon Saturday

Here we go again ...

A month after Hurricane Maria devastated Puerto Rico, a million people are still without running water and three million are without power on the island; 60 people were killed in two suicide attacks on mosques in Afghanistan; former White House strategist and ultra-conservative firebrand Steve Bannon unleashed a "blistering" attack on former president George W. Bush after Bush, in a speech delivered in New York, condemned bigotry, lies, and conspiracy theories in a speech that, while not mentioning Donald Trump, was clearly directed at him; and White House Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders tried to walk back comments she made on Friday that it was "highly inappropriate" to criticize Chief of Staff John Kelly because he was a four-star general.

An October filled with rampant ass-clownery continues, and - to help you cope - so do our Halloween-themed cartoons - this week highlighting witches ...

Of course there's an app for that ...

It ought to be the first step to solving the problem ...

Parking legally ,,,

What can happen with online dating ...

There's an app for that, too ...

Slightly irregular ...

It's always bad ...

And don't forget the eye of newt (gingrich) ...

It's the latest in cauldrons ...

Once upon a lineup ...

And there you have it - a real witches' brew of cartoons for a cursed October.

Here in NoVa our stretch of glorious fall weather looks as if it will continue through the weekend and into the first part of next week ... great news for my power-walking and not so great news for the leaves that are steadily piling up in the yard, crying out to be raked. Sigh. At least it's something that I can do outside to enjoy that wonderful sunshine.

Have a good day and a great weekend. More thoughts tomorrow, when we continue with our Halloween celebration with a visit from Edgar Allan Poe on Poetry Sunday. Be here!


Friday, October 20, 2017

The Left-Cheek Ass Clown for October, 2017

With the continuing rise in the level of ambient ass-clownery in the world, it's getting harder all the time to select a single deserving Ass Clown every two weeks. I know that I keep mentioning that unfortunate fact, but it's nevertheless true. I tend to change my mind on the selected recipient each time more often than Donald Trump changes his mind on his approach to health care.

But it's time to present the award, and unlike some people I could name, I'll take on that responsibility.

Ladies and Gentlemen, Dear Readers, our choice for

The Left Cheek Ass Clown for October, 2017


Environmental Protection Agency Administrator

The Environmental Protection Agency was created in 1970, during the presidency of Richard Nixon*, to "consolidate in one agency a variety of federal research, monitoring, standard-setting and enforcement activities to ensure environmental protection. Since its inception, EPA has been working for a cleaner, healthier environment for the American people."

No longer.

According to the EPA website, Mr Pruitt "will lead EPA in a way that our future generations inherit a better and healthier environment while advancing America’s economic interests." But today's EPA is far more in tune with the business interests of miners, manufacturers, and other businesses who chafe at the costs and difficulties imposed by measures intended to promote "a cleaner, healthier environment for the American people." Under Mr Pruitt's direction, environmental and health protections have been routinely diluted or rolled back in response to business desires and in ignorance of established science.

Before being appointed by the business-friendly Trump administration to administer the EPA, Mr Pruitt had a long record of filing lawsuits aimed at protecting the environment and human health ... you can read a detailed list here. And since taking office, he has moved swiftly to roll back more than 30 Obama-era environmental protection regulations that are insufficiently business-friendly.

I grew up in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, during the 1950's and 60's, and remember the foul air we breathed and the poisonous water of our beloved three rivers. I also remember the streams that ran bright red and yellow through the coal regions of central Pennsylvania, heavily contaminated by the poisonous runoff of vast mountains of mine tailings.

I have the usual level of old-guy nostalgia for some of the past ... but a return to the past of air we couldn't breathe and water we couldn't drink is not part of it.

For his steady emasculation of the agency that helps to ensure we have a healthy environment - an agency we really need at a time when the administration is intent on wrecking the national health care system that treats the problems caused by reckless environmental contamination - Scott Pruitt is named as the Left-Cheek Ass Clown for October, 2017.

Have a good day. More thoughts tomorrow, when Cartoon Saturday continues with the Halloween theme.


* Not widely known as a tree-hugging hippy longhair crazy person.

Thursday, October 19, 2017

Secrets of Irresistible People

Are you upset because people don't like you? Anxious to salvage your presidency? Here's an article from Forbes Magazine that may help - 11 Secrets of Irresistible People.

I won't go through all 11 of the secrets, but these six seem pretty important at this point in time:

They Treat Everyone with Respect. Using petty, high-school nicknames ("Crooked Hillary," "Lyin' Ted," and "Little Rocket Man") pretty much misses this mark;

They Follow the Platinum Rule. What's the platinum rule? It's a variation of the traditional Golden Rule (treat others as you would have them treat you) which says treat others as they wish to be treated. Of course, if you're dealing with a narcissist, this may be difficult;

They Focus on People More than Anything Else. Rather than thinking only about themselves, they genuinely care about other people;

They Recognize the Difference Between Fact and Opinion. Not too many people can do that nowadays;

They're Authentic. What you see is what you get ... you don't have to wonder where you stand with them; and,

They Have Integrity. Remember what that is?

I don't need to be irresistible, but I do want to be treated with dignity and respect, and I try to treat others the same way. It would be nice if we all felt the same way.

Have a good day. More thoughts tomorrow.


Wednesday, October 18, 2017

Apropos of Nothing

I'd never given it much thought, but it turns out that development of the concept of nothing, or of a number representing nothing (zero), is considered to have been one of the most important events in human history, as discussed in an interesting article I read recently in VintageNews.com. Indeed, nothing is an absolutely vital concept, and yet it was rejected by religious leaders in medieval Europe as being evil, and a symbol of Satan.

I'm sure there's a televangelist out there somewhere who could explain why zero remains a symbol of evil in today's world, but there's more evidence of its importance in understanding current politics. Consider just a few of the many uses of nothing ...

It allows us to document the legislative achievements of Congress;

It lets us comprehend the ethical standards of the Trump administration;

It lets us explain strategic planning at the highest levels of the Trump administration;

And the availability of zero allows us to depict the size of the national debt ... as long as you pile up enough of them to the left of the decimal.

Where would we be without nothing?

Perhaps in rural Puerto Rico.

Have a good and mathematically sound day, safe in the knowledge that you have nothing to fall back on.

More thoughts tomorrow.


Tuesday, October 17, 2017

Going Out in Style

How do we remember and memorialize our most significant citizens?

When the mighty pharaohs died in ancient Egypt, they were buried in huge pyramids and elaborate tombs stuffed with gold and other funerary gifts ... today in America, we honor our presidents by building libraries and naming aircraft carriers for them ... except for Ronald Reagan, who not only has a library and an aircraft carrier, but whose name has been applied by the GOP to a huge federal building in Washington, as well as the local airport, a highway, a Metro station, and lots of other stuff*.

We also honor our presidents and our citizens great and small with fawning obituaries and with funeral services in varying degrees of ceremonial complexity. An interesting article in the Washington Post a few days back discussed the art of the obituary page, analyzing the wide range of names that reflected America's multinational and multiethnic makeup and explaining how death notices are written. Lest I be accused of being morbid, the article was actually fun and clever, focusing on the death notice of a local woman whose announcement was full of the funny Yiddish phrases and terms she loved to use.

And, as so many things do, that got me to thinking ...

What might we expect to see at the funerals of some current "notables?" Here are a few of my thoughts ...

Mourners attending the interment of Harvey Weinstein will be invited to grope up handfuls of earth to throw on the coffin.

Donald Trump will have the biggest, best funeral in history. It will be held at the magnificent Mar-a-Lago estate - the finest of its kind in the world - and will be attended huge numbers of mourners - far more than attended the funeral of any other past or present president, king or emperor, for that matter. You'll never see a bigger, more lavish or better-attended funeral, believe me!

Mike Pence's funeral will showcase the magnificent presidency of Donald Trump, the greatest president of all time, whom Mr Pence was proud to serve as the highlight of his professional life. His gravestone will feature Donald Trump's name first, and in larger letters.

Jeff Sessions will never die or have a funeral, because Donald Trump will refuse to accept his death certificate. He will continue in office indefinitely as a political zombie, neither dead nor alive.

In spite of the traditional song that implores mourners to "bury me not on the lone prairie," Secretary of the Interior Ryan Zinke will insist on a prairie burial, because all that useless, empty land out west should be available for everyone to use as they want. Mr Zinke's personal flag will be flown over the grave at all times to show that he's present.

The funeral of NRA President Wayne LaPierre will include an honor guard armed with semiautomatic weapons fitted with bump stocks for extra event protection against terrorists, criminals, and other commiepinkoratbastards, and will feature a 300 million-gun salute.


Hillary Clinton's obituary will blame everyone else for her death.

Those are my ideas - what are yours? Leave a comment so that we can make sure we send off our betters in style.

Have a good day. More thoughts tomorrow.


* You can find a complete list here.

Monday, October 16, 2017

The Golden Sewer

Long ago, when I was a lowly Second Lieutenant in the Air Force stationed at Barksdale AFB in Bossier City, Louisiana, one of my numerous* additional duties was "Wing Silver Recovery Monitor." It involved collecting and securing the exposed radar film from the wing's training missions, and delivering it once a week or so to the local DRMO (Defense Reutilization and Marketing Office) so that it could be processed to recover the silver it contained as a result of the developing process. This was a not-overly-onerous duty that had the benefit of getting me out of the office for an hour or two, although I was never particularly convinced that the amount of film I turned in (a few pounds at a time) contained enough recoverable silver to reimburse me for the gas I needed to drive to the DRMO**.

I hadn't thought about my days in silver recovery for a long time, at least until I ran across this recent story: How $1.8 Million in Gold Flowed Through Switzerland's Sewers.


According to the story, an estimated 95 pounds of gold worth nearly two million dollars laces Switzerland’s waste water from the refineries that process about 70 percent of the world’s gold. The discovery was made by environmental scientists monitoring levels of trace element contamination in sewage sludge*** at various locations in Switzerland. Here's the bottom line:

"While the scientists advise that, for the most part, it’s not economically worthwhile to recycle many of the trace elements found, the region of Ticino is a different, gilded ballgame. This area is home to several gold refineries and, at certain sites, the scientists write, 'concentrations of gold in sewage sludge are sufficiently high for recovery to be potentially worthwhile.'"

Somehow, I can't see a bunch of grizzled old sourdoughs leading pack mules into the Swiss Alps to pan for gold in sewage sludge. And I'm not sure I'd like to have the additional duty of Gold Recovery Officer in any of those locations.

At least in Switzerland, it could be a pretty shi ... uh ... unpleasant job.

Have a good day. More thoughts tomorrow.


* When you're a Second Lieutenant ... and particularly when you're the junior Second Lieutenant ... you can count on drawing every additional duty no one else wants. Which is most of them.

** Ha, ha - fooled you! I didn't get reimbursed, anyhow.

*** This is another reason why it's better to be a linguist than an environmental chemist.

Sunday, October 15, 2017

Musical Sunday

Since we're just over two weeks from Halloween, it seems appropriate that we should have some Halloween-themed music for our Musical Sundays. Here's a classic from Warren Zevon ...


Have a good day and enjoy the rest of your weekend. Hope things don't get too ... hairy.

More thoughts tomorrow.


Saturday, October 14, 2017

Cartoon Saturday

We've reached the halfway point of October, and the need for a good shot of cartoons is more necessary than ever.

Donald Trump chipped away again at the Affordable Care Act, using an executive order to withdraw the cost-sharing fiscal supports which help compensate insurance companies for covering all applicants, not just the best risks; Mr Trump threatened Puerto Rico (by tweet, of course) with the withdrawal of FEMA, military, and other government support provided in the wake of the devastation of Hurricanes Irma and Maria; a black man beaten on tape by white supremacists in Charlottesville, Virginia, has been accused of "unlawfully wounding" a white supremacist that day; Hollywood mogul Harvey Weinstein is the subject of a flood of accusations from women that he sexually molested or raped them over a period spanning decades; and 31 people are dead and huge swaths of Northern California have been devastated by huge wildfires driven by high winds.

We continue our celebration of the month of Halloween by featuring appropriately-themed cartoons - this week starring Frankenstein*.

It's what I need to come to life, too ...

The theological implications are staggering ...

There are body-builders and there are body-builders ...

It might be easier to find the right feet than the right shoes ...

Locally-sourced parts ...

Frankenstein, 2.0 ...

Why dating Frankenstein can be frustrating for some ladies ...

Piercing envy ...

Frankenstein, the Ikea version ...

Why am I not surprised? ...

Frankenstein - not the poster child for those who consider themselves to be self-made men and women.

It looks as though we'll have nicer weather here in NoVa today than the last few, with at least partly-sunny skies and no rain, and it'll brighten up still more later this afternoon when we welcome our old friends Scott and Karen and their family for dinner. Why mow the lawn when you can party in the house?

Have a good day and a great weekend. More thoughts tomorrow, when Musical Sunday takes on the Halloween season.


* Yes, I know that "Frankenstein" is actually the name of the monster's creator and not the monster himself, just work with me on this, okay?

Friday, October 13, 2017

Great Moments in Editing and Signage

Here we go again ...

It pays to be careful when selecting your attorney ...

I'm not sure this ad is a ringing endorsement ...

Just honest enough ...

This must be one of those responsible gun owners I've heard so much about ...

That was some snack ...

Your tax dollars at work ...

I think the student isn't the only one who isn't the sharpest knife in the drawer ...

It's the latest in hybrid weapon technology. Don't worry ... the NRA will be sure you can have as many of those high-caliber knives as you want ...

It's important to clearly specify the requirements of the position ...

It wouldn't be a health risk in most of modern America, and particularly in DC ...

And there you have it ... the latest collection of Great Moments in Editing and Signage. Don't forget that I'm always on the lookout for more of these - if you find one, take a photo, scan it, or e-mail me the file. When I use it, I'll be sure you get credit for the find. Send files to me at der(underscore)blogmeister(at)yahoo(dot)com. 

Have a good day. Come back tomorrow for our second Halloween-themed Cartoon Saturday of the month. More thoughts then.