Monday, February 28, 2011

Monday Madness (A Quiz) a.k.a Talking What???

Georgia has some towns with interesting names, like Fairplay and Hopeful and Constitution and Hephzibah and Beulah and Talking Rock and Between and Washington and Jefferson and Monticello and Climax and Needmore and even Stillmore.

I have never been more serious in my life.

Today I invite you to play a little game. Choosing a first word from Column A and a second word from Column B, come up with the names of 29 actual towns in Georgia. No fair peeking at an atlas or using an internet search engine.

When you are ready, you may begin.

Column A.............Column B

1. Ball.................. Harris
2. Blue................. Rica
3. Cave................ Ty
4. Locust.............. Lakes
5. Sunny.............. Hill
6. College............. Rock
7. Dock................ Falls
8. Druid.............. Valley
9. Five................ Springs
10. Flowery......... Mountain
11. Lookout......... Circle
12. Mineral......... Island
13. Powder.......... Hill
14. Pine.............. Springs
15. Rocky............ Springs
16. Radium......... Mountain
17. Sandy........... Face
18. Sea............... Bluff
19. Social............ Mountain
20. Stone............ Branch
21. Sugar............ Forks
22. Sugar............ Hills
23. Tallulah........ Junction
24. The............... Park
25. Tunnel.......... Side
26. Twin............ Grove
27. Ty................ Spring
28. Villa............. Ridge
29. Young........... Ground

How many can you get without cheating?

In my next post I will reveal the correct answers.

Saturday, February 26, 2011

Quote of the day

“I have always imagined Paradise as a kind of library.”
....................................................................-- Jorge Luis Borges

Friday, February 25, 2011

Parkinson’s Law demonstrated.

Mr. Speaker, according to Wikipedia Parkinson’s Law is the adage first articulated by Cyril Northcote Parkinson as the first sentence of a humorous essay published in The Economist in 1955:

Work expands so as to fill the time available for its completion.

I have been under the impression for a long time that old C. Northcote added two more laws to his collection, namely, Expenses rise to meet income and the ever-popular Any company with more than 1,000 employees generates enough internal correspondence so as to be self-sustaining and needs no further contact with the outside world.

I was wrong. Faux Parkinsons seem to abound, but I have now found no less than six laws said to have been promulgated or discovered or foisted upon an unsuspecting public by that selfsame C. Northcote Parkinson:

1) Work expands to fill the time available for its completion; the thing to be done swells in perceived importance and complexity in a direct ratio with the time to be spent in its completion.

2) Expenditures rise to meet income.

3) Expansion means complexity; and complexity decay.

4) The number of people in any working group tends to increase regardless of the amount of work to be done.

5) If there is a way to delay an important decision the good bureaucracy, public or private, will find it.

6) The progress of science is inversely proportional to the number of journals published.

So much for laying the background.

Mr. Speaker, I rise today to speak of Parkinson’s First Law, and of its impact on my life, so much so that hardly any time is left for one of my favorite activities, blogging.

However, I see that the time allotted to me by the chair is rapidly drawing to a close, and therefore I will speak of this more on another occasion.

Mr. Speaker, I yield the remainder of my time.

Thursday, February 24, 2011

Quote of the day

“Death is not the end. There remains the litigation over the estate.”
.........................................................................-- Ambrose Bierce

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Deconstructing George

The following facts about our first president were published today by The Writer’s Almanac:

1. His favorite foods were mashed sweet potatoes with coconut, string beans with mushrooms, cream of peanut soup, salt cod, and pineapples.

2. He lost all of his teeth except for one by cracking Brazilian nuts between his jaws.

3. He got dentures made out of a hippopotamus tusk, designed especially to fit over his one remaining real tooth. But the hippo dentures were constantly rubbing against that real tooth so that he was constantly in pain.

4. He used opium to alleviate the pain.

5. He snored very loudly.

6. He put powder on his own hair, which was naturally a reddish brown, instead of wearing a powdered wig like other fashionable people.

7. He was not good at spelling and he had a speech impediment.

8. His inaugural address was the shortest inaugural address in U.S. history: It was only 133 words long and took him just 90 seconds to deliver.

I have several reactions:

Shame on them.
If you can’t say something good about somebody, don't say anything at all.
I always thought his false teeth were made of wood.
Mitt Romney he wasn’t.

Do you have a reaction that you would care to share?

Friday, February 18, 2011

Ich bin ein IBMer....

I, Rhymeswithplague, do hereby swear or affirm that to the best of my ability I worked for IBM from 1965 until 1978 and again from 1996 until 2000.

Before I worked for IBM, I was a computer programmer in the U.S. Air Force; I programmed in both Assembler Language and FORTRAN (FORmula TRANslation), as well as in something called JOVIAL (Jules’ Own Version of the International Algorithmic Language, Jules being Jules Schwartz of the System Development Corporation (a wholly-owned subsidiary of IBM) and the International Algorithmic Language being the long-form name of ALGOL). To teach me how to be a programmer, the Air Force sent me to a school where the programming language was called TRIVIAL (Trusty, Reliable, and Ingenious Version of the International Algorithmic Language). Despite the looks on your faces, Senators, I wouldn’t lie about something like that. I am under oath.

IBM hired me when I was separated from active duty with the Air Force, having received an honorable discharge (Form DD214).

My first IBM job was in IBM Poughkeepsie (New York). Using long trays filled with punched cards, I generated the systems that were used in testing the first twelve releases of something called Operating System/360, which included PCP (Primary Control Program), MFT (Multiprogramming With A Fixed Number of Tasks), and MVT (Multiprogramming With A Variable Number of Tasks). Also, I helped test some of the earliest graphic devices IBM ever produced. I had to drive to IBM Kingston (New York) in the middle of the night during the testing cycle because that’s where the devices were and that’s when the block of time we received was, and one night while approaching the bridge that crossed the Hudson River I nearly hit a deer.

I also worked in IBM Boca Raton (Florida) and in IBM Atlanta (Georgia). I knew Don Estridge, “the father of the IBM Personal Computer (PC),” personally and had actual conversations with him.

I had hands-on experience with all sorts of unit record machines -- keypunch, verifier, sorter, collator, interpreter, tabulating machine -- plus paper tape, Mylar tape, magnetic tape, disk storage, drum storage, and such exotic-sounding concoctions as row binary, column binary, BCD (Binary Coded Decimal), EBCDIC (Extended Binary Coded Decimal) and ASCII (American Standard Code for Information Interchange). In addition to the decimal system (base 10) we all know and love, I speak binary (base 2), octal (base 8) and hexadecimal (base 16) fluently.

For the record, I did not know Herman Hollerith or Grace Hopper personally, but I did once make binary patches to a deck of Assembler output using a 010 card punch.

I have visited IBM Sweden (Lidingö), IBM Time-Life (New York City), IBM Palo Alto (California), and IBM Research Triangle Park (Raleigh, North Carolina) but I have never visited IBM Endicott (New York), IBM Binghamton (New York), IBM Boulder (Colorado), or other IBM locations. So help me God.

For your information, Lidingö is pronounced Leeding-uh and not Luh Dingo. It is important to know this when giving directions to a taxi driver who speaks only Swedish, because if you don’t you may never reach your destination.

During the eighteen-year gap mentioned at the beginning of my testimony, I worked for what used to be called the Bell System. As Ma Bell changed and changed again over the years, I was absorbed, divested, spun off, downsized, and outsourced. You name it, it happened to me. Lo and behold, when the dust finally settled, I found myself working once again at IBM.

I said all that to say this:

This year IBM invites you to help celebrate its 100th anniversary by watching this fascinating video.

They’ve come a long way, baby, since Thomas J. Watson left the National Cash Register Company (NCR) and founded CTR in 1911. (For those of you who decided not to watch the video, CTR is not IBM in the Cyrillic alphabet but stands for the Computing, Tabulating, and Recording Company, IBM’s original name.)

Long may she wave.

And if this post has been too tame for you, if it has not been your cup of tea, if you want something a little less mundane and a little more electrifying (no pun intended), listen to this: President Kennedy’s address to the people of Berlin, Germany on June 26th, 1963 (9:06).

(Photo by Robert Knudsen, White House/John F. Kennedy Library)

Thursday, February 17, 2011

Tie my bow tie

F.....................................................o
r my.............................................next
trick, I.........................................shall t
ry to mak.................................e a small
poem in the............shape...........of a bow t
ie, or perhaps it is really a small bow tie in
the shape of a poem. One cannot always be
sure about these things, because things are
never what th.........ey ap..........pear to be.
Maybe I sh...............................ould say
rarely ins................................tead of
never;.....................................never
is a l........................................ong
ti............................................me
.................................................

On second thought, if you squint and hold your tongue at a certain angle my creation also resembles a butterfly, Batman, Count Dracula, and one of those fighter ships from Star Wars.

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Spaced out

My eighty-something-years-old neighbor, Rube, came through once again with a link I hope you like as much as I did. “Like” is probably the wrong word. “Marvel at” is more like it.

Rube's find.

I had no idea what has been taking place over our very noses.

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

The Gift Outright


O
wow
today
I learned
a new trick
that has nothing
whatever to do with
Christmas but I thought
I would have a little fun
and possibly amuse some of
you at the same time. However,
if you are not amused I cannot do
one earthly thing at all about it with
the possible exception of cheerfully refund-
ing your money and then going back to my room
where I shall weep many buckets of bitter and salty
tears
after
which
I may
kill myself.

Monday, February 14, 2011

It’s Valentine’s Day

There is an enlightening article about Valentine’s Day over at The Writers Almanac website today, but it is copyrighted and I cannot reproduce it here. I can give you a link, though.

When you get there (if you go there), if it is no longer February 14th you must click “PREV” enough times to display what was posted on February 14th, scroll down to “Today is Valentine’s Day” and click “...more” to see the entire article.

The Writer’s Almanac article says that there were three Saint Valentines. This article from Wikipedia says there were fourteen.

If you prefer a more traditional Valentine, it’s double stamp day over at the blog of Pat - An Arkansas Stamper. That’s a little joke that only those of you who go and have a look will understand.

That Writer’s Almanac article says that last year the average person spent $103 on Valentine’s gifts, food, and entertainment, which was lower than average because of the recession. Men spent an average of $135 and women $72. I’m assuming these figures are for the United States. I am not one of the big spenders, but it doesn’t mean I love Mrs. RWP any the less. I simply don’t appreciate it when the sellers of flowers and chocolate and diamond necklaces try to tell me what I ought to give my wife. This year I gave her a nice card and a heart-shaped chocolate-chip cookie that was decorated with yellow roses, her favorite kind (the recession has managed to hit around here too). Based on our household outlay, some people have had to spend a small fortune just to keep the average up.

A lovely Lupercalia to you all.

Saturday, February 12, 2011

Lo, how the mighty are fallen!

Not Hosni Mubarak.

I’m talking about someone born 202 years ago today, someone everyone in the United States used to take notice of every year on February 12th, someone whose name probably won't even be mentioned today by what conservative radio personality Rush Limbaugh calls “the drive-by media,” who prefer to report about Lindsay Lohan and LeBron James (each of them has a Wikipedia article, but I am not going to include the links; you can make the effort yourself to look them up if you are really that interested in drug-using actresses and self-absorbed basketball players).

Give up?

I’m talking about the sixteenth President of the United States, Abraham Lincoln.

When I was a boy, everyone knew that Lincoln was born on February 12, 1809, in a log cabin in Kentucky. Everyone knew his parents were Tom Lincoln and Nancy Hanks Lincoln. Everyone knew his first love was Ann Rutledge, who died of typhoid fever. Everyone knew he married Mary Todd and had four children, Robert, Edward, Willie, and Tad. Everyone knew of the debates between Lincoln and Stephen Douglas, and the Emancipation Proclamation, and the Second Inaugural Address, and the assassination by John Wilkes Booth.

Some of the myth surrounding Lincoln’s birth and childhood is questioned today. The Wikipedia article about him does state that he was born in a one-room log cabin, but it also states that his father Thomas enjoyed considerable status in Kentucky, where he sat on juries, appraised estates, served on country patrols, and guarded prisoners. By the time his son Abraham was born, Thomas owned two 600-acre farms, several town lots, livestock and horses. He was amongst the richest men in the area. Makes you wonder why little Abe was born in a one-room log cabin, then, unless one-room log cabins were all the rage, that era’s equivalent of the McMansions we see about us today. Mostly foreclosed-on McMansions, he hastened to add. But I digress.

We were forced as students, forced I tell you, to memorize Lincoln’s Gettysburg Address. The entire Gettysburg Address. All ten sentences and 271 words. Here they are:

“Four score and seven years ago our fathers brought forth on this continent a new nation, conceived in liberty, and dedicated to the proposition that all men are created equal.

Now we are engaged in a great civil war, testing whether that nation, or any nation, so conceived and so dedicated, can long endure. We are met on a great battle-field of that war. We have come to dedicate a portion of that field, as a final resting place for those who here gave their lives that that nation might live. It is altogether fitting and proper that we should do this.

But, in a larger sense, we can not dedicate, we can not consecrate, we can not hallow this ground. The brave men, living and dead, who struggled here, have consecrated it, far above our poor power to add or detract. The world will little note, nor long remember what we say here, but it can never forget what they did here. It is for us the living, rather, to be dedicated here to the unfinished work which they who fought here have thus far so nobly advanced. It is rather for us to be here dedicated to the great task remaining before us—that from these honored dead we take increased devotion to that cause for which they gave the last full measure of devotion--that we here highly resolve that these dead shall not have died in vain--that this nation, under God, shall have a new birth of freedom--and that government of the people, by the people, for the people, shall not perish from the earth.”

When I was a boy, we observed Lincoln’s birthday on February 12th and George Washington’s birthday on February 22nd. Nowadays, we lump them together and have “Presidents Day,” ostensibly to remember all the presidents of the United States at once (although, to be fair, Washington and Lincoln are usually the ones mentioned most often) but really to give federal employees a three-day weekend. As Lincoln once said, it is altogether fitting and proper that we do this, and we have Lyndon Baines Johnson to thank for the change.

So forget about Abraham Lincoln as an individual. Forget about George Washington. Instead, on a Monday in the near future, spend your day thinking about Millard Fillmore, Warren G. Harding, and George W. Bush.

You might even think about Jimmy Carter.

And if you do, and you know your history, you might think about Menachem Begin. And Anwar Sadat.

And then, and only then, should you think about Hosni Mubarak.

Friday, February 11, 2011

Billy Ray listens to the radio.

Click.

...can expect warmer temperatures today with scattered showers possible during the afternoon rush hour...


...Shimmy Shimmy Ko Ko Pop, Shimmy Shimmy, Pop...


...for National Public Radio, this is Daniel Schorr...


...precios bajos todos las dias, garantizados...


...an erection lasting longer than four hours...


...Howdy, frinds, and a warm welcome once again to The Daily Radio Chapel Of The Air, this is your radio pastor Brother Wesley Chappell with two P’s and two L’s, three if you count the one in Wesley, saying we love you with the love of the Lord, welcome, welcome in the middle of your busy day to this little oasis where all is peace and perfect love, Sister Opal is here and also little Wanda June at the keyboard of the Hammond organ, I wish you could see her, her little feet barely reach all the way down to the pedals. Wanda June will be our regular organist from now on because I have some sad news to relate to you, Estelle DeGarmo who has been playing our organ for the past nine years is not with us any longer, she didn’t die or anything, no, she just up and ran off with the owner of Angelo’s Body Works over on Buford Highway, Sister Opal said Estelle apparently found out that it was true, and I said found out that what was true? and she said that Angelo’s body works, anyways please keep them in your prayers and also Sister Opal while you’re at it. Frinds, I know you’re going to enjoy the program today because we have some special guests here in the chapel, the Gem Tones Quartet of Redondo Beach, California, will be joining us today and they will bless your heart with their anointed singing, actually they’re family, the quartet is made up of Sister Opal and three of her sisters, Jewel, Pearl, and Ruby, and of course little Wanda June will be accompanying them on the Hammond organ, they’ll be singing their latest gospel hit, “Jesus Been A Long Time Gone” from their new CD, I Just Want To Make Heaven My Home, they’ll be along a little later, but right now let’s open up the mailbag and read some letters from some of you wonderful listeners out there in radio land, here’s one from a Mr. Horace Earl Triplett of Smyrna, Georgia, who has included a generous contribution, a very generous contribution indeed, my my, may the Lord richly bless you Brother Triplett, “Brother Wesley,” he writes, “I never miss the Daily Radio Chapel Of The Air, I listen to it every time it comes on, we get it four times a day on four different stations here in the Atlanta area, and I’m enclosing a small monetary gift in appreciation of the wonderful pamphlet you sent me on the Book of Job entitled “Naked Came I From My Mother’s Womb And Naked Shall I Return Thither,” please send me fifty more copies as I want to share its enlightening message with the people of Smyrna, and also please say a prayer for my two sisters Myrna and Verna, I don’t know why but they don’t seem to be coping with life too well these days.” We’ll do that right now, frinds, stretch your hands toward the radio and pray with me that Myrna and Verna Triplett over there in Smyrna Georgia will perk up and join their brother Horace Earl in the wonderful service he is providing to their community. I wish every town in America had a Horace Earl Triplett. Here’s another letter, thank you Sister Opal, from a Mrs. Cecil Field of Jacksonville, Florida, “Dear Brother Wesley,” she says, “please remember all the boys and girls here at the Naval Air Station, pray they don’t stray too far from their moorings, pray that they will cast their anchor onto the solid rock, pray that they will all see the light from the lighthouse, pray that they will all make it safely into the old Ship of Zion before they leave the harbor for the last time. Keep on throwing out the lifeline, Brother Wesley, someone is drifting away. Here’s a little something to help you in your ministry, Brother Wesley, because we’re all counting on you to turn the tide, let the lower lights be burning, send a gleam across the wave; some poor fainting struggling seaman you may rescue, you may save.” Isn’t that poetic? Isn’t that inspiring? It also reminds me, Sister Opal, be sure we have a good supply of seasickness pills for our third annual Hallelujah Cruise coming up next month, we hope many of you frinds out there in radio land will be able to join us on this once in a lifetime opportunity, we will be cruising the Gulf of Mexico for Jesus, departing from Galveston Texas the fifteenth of next month and sailing to Bradenton Florida, seven nights on the open water and once again we will be playing Heavenly Bingo each night while we are at sea with all the proceeds going to support our orphanages in the Dominican Republic and Haiti, we hope we will see you in Galveston, send us your non-refundable five hundred dollar down payment today, make out your check to Brother Wesley Chappell, that’s with two P’s and two L’s, three if you count the one in Wesley, and send it to The Daily Radio Chapel Of The Air, Radio Station XERF, Del Rio, Texas, and the remaining three thousand dollars will be payable when you board, cash, money order, or certified check only please. Sister Opal and I are looking forward to seeing each one of you. And thank you, Mrs. Cecil Field down there in Jacksonville, Florida, and also Mr. Horace Earl Triplett of Smyrna Georgia for your very kind words, what an inspiration and encouragement to receive your cards and letters, and especially when you can include a little something for the ministry so that we can continue to do what we believe the Lord has called us to do. I have another letter here from Mr. Tom Bigbee of Tuscaloosa Alabama that I wanted to read but Sister Opal is indicating that the time is getting away from us so we’ll save that for tomorrow’s broadcast. In just a moment I’ll be bringing you the next message in our current “How Beautiful Are The Feet Of Them” series, today’s message is entitled “Set Your Affection On Things Above,” but first, here as promised are The Gem Tones, a quartet made up of Sister Opal and three of her sisters, Jewel, Pearl, and Ruby, to sing their latest gospel hit, “Jesus Been A Long Time Gone” from their new CD, I Just Want To Make Heaven My Home, accompanied by little Wanda June at the Hammond organ keyboard...


...friends of Beyoncé and Paris Hilton today denied...


...Nocturne in D for Strings by Alexander Borodin...


...islands in the stream, that is what we are...


...an erection lasting longer than four hours...


Click.


[The foregoing is Chapter 29 of my unpublished book, Billy Ray Barnwell Here: The Meanderings of a Twisted Mind. The entire book can be accessed online by clicking on the link under “My Other Blog is a Rolls-Royce” in the sidebar of this blog. --RWP]

Thursday, February 10, 2011

Pure as the driven slush

We have lived in the Atlanta area since 1975, and this winter of 2010-2011 has been most unusual. Some years we don’t get any snow at all. Some years we see only a few flurries. Several years may go by without any snow at all. One year the yellow forsythia bloomed in January. But occasionally we have had a brief winter wonderland. It happened in 1982, and 1993, and...well, I can’t pinpoint the dates, but there have been very few in the last 35 years.

This year, however, everything has been different. This morning we awoke to our fifth snowfall since mid-December. Not as much this time, but who cares? It snowed again!

I’m not going to show you pictures. Most of you already know what snow looks like.

Northerners and Europeans think we are crazy to get so excited over a little of the white stuff, and maybe they’re right.

According to Wikipedia, “White is a shade, the perception of which is evoked by light that stimulates all three types of color sensitive cone cells in the human eye in nearly equal amounts and with high brightness compared to the surroundings. A white visual stimulation will be void of hue and grayness.

“White light can be generated in many ways. The sun is such a source, electric incandescence is another. Modern light sources are fluorescent lamps and light-emitting diodes. An object whose surface reflects back most of the light it receives and does not alter its color will appear white, unless it has very high specular reflection.

“Since white is the extreme end of the visual spectrum (in terms of both hue and shade), and since white objects -- such as clouds, snow and flowers -- appear often in nature, it has frequent symbolism. Human culture has many references to white, often related to purity and cleanness, whilst the high contrast between white and black is often used to represent opposite extremes.”

At least now you know why brides wear white and grooms wear black.

Wednesday, February 9, 2011

Where in the world is Carmen Sandiego?

(Photo by Ryan Bushby, 2007)

A Lady's Life, a faithful reader of this blog, will probably recognize the building in this photo. But how about the rest of you? Care to hazard a guess what it is and where it is?

Mrs. Rhymeswithplague and I visited the place in 1984, on July 2, to be exact. The day before, we had driven up a dormant volcano past snow several feet deep. The day after, we saw millions of flowers blooming their guts out in one of the most beautiful gardens on earth. That’s all the hint you’re going to get.

In other news, my oldest grandson turned 15 today.

Nobody said my posts had to make sense.

Tuesday, February 8, 2011

The Little Engine That Could, on steroids

For a few months back in 1960, I worked as a stenographer/typist in the Fort Worth, Texas, office of the Gulf, Colorado, & Santa Fe Railroad (GCSF). My superior was a venerable old white-haired gentleman who began every letter he dictated with the words “I beg to advise” and closed with, I kid you not, “your obedient servant.” It drove me crazy at the time, but now it makes me smile.

While employed there, I learned many railroad abbreviations I probably never would have noticed, such as ATSF (Atchison, Topeka, & Santa Fe), MKT (Missouri, Kansas & Texas, known as the “Katy”), SLSF (St. Louis & San Francisco, or “Frisco” for short), L&N (Louisville & Nashville), NYC (New York Central), PRR (Pennsylvania Railroad), DLW (Delaware & Lackawanna, which later merged with Erie and became ELW, the Erie Lackawanna), and lots more. Anybody out there remember the Milwaukee Road?

Shown below is a photograph that has been called “one of the classic icons of American imagery.” It captures the ceremony marking the completion of the first transcontinental railroad across North America over 150 years ago. The joining of the rails linking the Central Pacific and Union Pacific Railroads occurred on May 10, 1869, in Promontory Summit, Utah. CPRR’s “Jupiter” engine is on the left, arriving from the west. UPRR’s engine “No. 119” is on the right, arriving from the East. On the golden Last Spike of the first transcontinental railroad were engraved the words, “May God continue the unity of our Country as this Railroad unites the two great Oceans of the world.”


I learned from Wikipedia that the ceremony took place “after track was laid over a 1,756-mile (2,826-km) gap between Sacramento [California] and Omaha, Nebraska/Council Bluffs, Iowa in six years by the Union Pacific Railroad and Central Pacific Railroad. Although through train service was in operation as of that date, the road was not deemed to have been officially completed until November 6, 1869. A physical connection between Omaha, Nebraska and the statutory Eastern terminus of the Pacific road at Council Bluffs located immediately across the Missouri River was also not finally established until the opening of the UPRR railroad bridge across the river on March 25, 1873, prior to which transfers were made by ferry operated by the Council Bluffs & Nebraska Ferry Company.”

It took thousands of workers to accomplish this great feat.

Well, hold on to your hat. Things have come a long way, baby.

Rube, my eighty-something-year-old neighbor who lives on the hill just above me, likes trains too. Yesterday he sent me the neatest video entitled, “The train that lays its own track.” (5:17).

Yes, you read that correctly. You simply must watch it, all 5:17 of it, to believe it. The human workers are almost superfluous.

The Little Engine That Could, on steroids. Indeed.

I wouldn’t be surprised if it can also make a hot fudge sundae with whipped cream, chocolate syrup, and a cherry on top.

I couldn’t help noticing, though, that everything in the video occurs in a straight line and on flat terrain. I hope they’re working on a version 2.0 that can go up and down hills and around the sides of a mountain.

Monday, February 7, 2011

Life Lesson #17643

My dad taught me many things, among which are how to make a square knot instead of a granny knot, how to make a bowline on a bight (if I’m not mistaken, that was the one where “the rabbit comes out of the hole, runs around the tree, and goes back into the hole”), how to tie my shoes, and always to let my word be my bond, but the lesson I’m remembering today and am about to share with you is possibly the most important lesson of all: How to Wring Out a Wet Washcloth.

You are probably doing it all wrong.

This is the right way to wring out a wet washcloth:

Step 1: Fold the washcloth in half.
Step 2: Fold it in half again.
Step 3: Fold it in half again.
Step 4: Now pick it up with both hands. The fingers of your right hand should be on top of the washcloth and the thumb beneath it, all pointing away from you. The fingers of your left hand should be on the bottom of the washcloth and the thumb on top of it, all pointing toward you.
Step 5: Close the fingers of your hands around the folded washcloth and, grasping it firmly, twist your hands in opposite directions.
Step 6: If necessary, repeat Step 5.

This method will get more water out of your washcloth than you ever dreamed possible.

Montessori, eat your heart out.

Perhaps one day I will share with you how to conserve on the use of toilet paper.

Nahhhhh.

Saturday, February 5, 2011

Psssst! Wanna see something better than The Game Whose Name Must Not Be Mentioned For Fear Of Copyright Infringement*?

Here, courtesy of the Monty Python troupe, is:

The International Philosophy Bowl

*For readers outside the U.S., the NFL (National Football League) recently copyrighted the words that look a little like Superb Owl. Most fans think this move is ridiculous, as the annual game being played today in Arlington, Texas, will be Superb Owl number 45,
so to speak. I would never be so gauche as to refer to it as the Super Bowel.

Thursday, February 3, 2011

Senior Moments: The Musical

Pam Peterson, the woman in this video (3:02), is far too young to have experienced personally what she is singing about, but she does an excellent job of describing in song what has become for many of us our normal daily routine.

Here are some notes for viewers outside the USA:

1. “Soldier’s Field” refers to a once-huge football stadium in Chicago. Before it was rebuilt as a smaller venue, it could hold 123,000 spectators.
2. “Whole Foods” is a chain of upscale supermarkets that specializes in supposedly healthful and organically-raised products.
3. “Ginkgo Biloba” is a substance derived from a plant that is thought to improve the memory.
4. “too many ’ludes” refers to Quaalude, a mind-altering drug popular in North America in the sixties and seventies. For the record, I never took any.

If you didn’t understand all the references in the song the first time, go back and watch it again!

P.S. - When adding the Notes, I didn’t watch the video again; I relied on my memory. When I watched the video a second time, I noticed, as will the sharp-eyed and sharp-eared among you, that the Notes had occurred to me in exactly the reverse order they appear in the song’s lyrics. The first thing I remembered was the last thing I had heard, then I remembered the next-to-last thing, and so on. Note 4, which I didn’t add until twelve hours after the first three notes, occurred earliest in the video. This phenomenon (remembering things in reverse order of their occurrence) may not be peculiar to me, but I have modestly decided (and yes, that is a split infinitive) to call it Rhymeswithplague Syndrome.

Wednesday, February 2, 2011

And a little child shall lead them...

Click here for one of the best videos I have seen in a long time. (2:38)

If you aren’t (a) smiling broadly, (b) wiping tears from your eyes, or (c) feeling all warm and fuzzy after watching the video, there may be something seriously wrong with you.

I have done my homework on this one.

Two-year-old Danclride (pronounced Dan-sell-ride) Buctot sings God Will Take Care of You with his parents, Danny and Catherine Llorong Buctot, on February 27, 2010, during an AY (Adventist Youth) program.  Danny and Catherine are from the Philippines, where Danny attended East Visayan Adventist Academy (class of 1995) and Mountain View College (class of 2000).  Catherine attended Luna National High School (class of 1997) and Mountain View College (class of 2003).  The Buctot family currently lives in Seoul, South Korea, where Danny is a member of the class of 2011 at Sahmyook University. He will receive a Master of Arts in Religion degree later this year.

Danclride turned three on November 5, 2010.