Thursday, April 20, 2017


Since the photo over there to the right is nearly seven years old, I thought you might like to see what we look like today.

Here we are, Mr. and Mrs. Rhymeswithplague, outside our church on Easter Sunday morning:

Mrs. RWP is as beautiful as ever. I may be a bit longer in the tooth, but I am still hanging in there. Either my head is shrinking or my ears are growing.

Robert Browning probably summed it up best: "Grow old along with me! / The best is yet to be, / The last of life, for which the first was made."

We are not throwing in the towel just yet. We hope to be around for a while longer yet.

Stay tuned.

(Editor's note. I definitely am slipping slowing down, though. I let April 18th go by without once mentioning Paul Revere's 1775 ride or even Henry Wadsworth Longfellow, and I let April 19th go by without mentioning the Battles of Lexington and Concord in our little spat with George III or even Ralph Waldo Emerson's 1837 poem "Concord Hymn" -- you know, the one that begins "By the rude bridge that arched the flood, / Their flag to April's breeze unfurled, / Here once the embattled farmers stood / And fired the shot heard 'round the world". I shall try to do better by you in the future. --RWP)

Wednesday, April 19, 2017

How doth the little busy bee*

What an incredible amount of time I waste on the computer.

But if I had not been poking around on the computer this morning, April 19th, I would not have thought to google "April 19th" and then click on the article in Wikipedia about April 19th, or found the very long list of events, births, and deaths that occurred on April 19th in history, or seen the smaller section at the bottom of the article entitled "Holidays and observances", and my eye would not have happened to fall on the bulleted item "Bicycle Day" which intrigued me enough to explore further.

Nor would I have discovered, if I had not clicked on the bulleted item "Bicycle Day" that the article it leads to is entitled "History of lysergic acid diethylamide" which gave me enough pause to stop and say "Whoa!" or at least think it. I don't think I said it out loud.

Anyhoo, here, for your reading pleasure and enlightenment, without further ado, is the section on Bicycle Day *waves to All Consuming from the article "History of lysergic acid diethylamide" in Wikipedia:

"Bicycle Day"

On April 19, 1943, [Albert] Hofmann performed a self-experiment to determine the true effects of LSD, intentionally ingesting 0.25 milligrams (250 micrograms) of the substance, an amount he predicted to be a threshold dose (an actual threshold dose is 20 micrograms). Less than an hour later, Hofmann experienced sudden and intense changes in perception. He asked his laboratory assistant to escort him home and, as use of motor vehicles was prohibited because of wartime restrictions, they had to make the journey on a bicycle. On the way, Hofmann's condition rapidly deteriorated as he struggled with feelings of anxiety, alternating in his beliefs that the next-door neighbor was a malevolent witch, that he was going insane, and that the LSD had poisoned him. When the house doctor arrived, however, he could detect no physical abnormalities, save for a pair of incredibly dilated pupils. Hofmann was reassured, and soon his terror began to give way to a sense of good fortune and enjoyment, as he later wrote...

"... Little by little I could begin to enjoy the unprecedented colors and plays of shapes that persisted behind my closed eyes. Kaleidoscopic, fantastic images surged in on me, alternating, variegated, opening and then closing themselves in circles and spirals, exploding in colored fountains, rearranging and hybridizing themselves in constant flux ..."

The events of the first LSD trip, now known as “Bicycle Day”, after the bicycle ride home, proved to Hofmann that he had indeed made a significant discovery: a psychoactive substance with extraordinary potency, capable of causing significant shifts of consciousness in incredibly low doses. Hofmann foresaw the drug as a powerful psychiatric tool; because of its intense and introspective nature, he couldn’t imagine anyone using it recreationally. Bicycle Day is increasingly observed in psychedelic communities as a day to celebrate the discovery of LSD.

The celebration of Bicycle Day originated in DeKalb, Illinois, in 1985, when Thomas B. Roberts, then a Professor at Northern Illinois University, invented the name "Bicycle Day" when he founded the first Bicycle Day celebration at his home. Several years later, he sent an announcement made by one of his students to friends and Internet lists, thus propagating the idea and the celebration. His original intent was to commemorate Hofmann's original, accidental exposure on April 16, but that date fell midweek and was not a good time for the party, so he chose the 19th to honor Hofmann's first intentional exposure.

(Original work by Yttrium Ox, used in accordance with CC-by-SA 3.0)

(end of Wikipedia excerpt)

This is not a psychedelic community -- at least I don't think this is a psychedelic community -- but I thought a certain segment of this non-psychedelic community might enjoy learning about or, if you were already aware of it, reading about Bicycle Day. It was a new one on me.

I will now share with you the wisdom of the ages on this Bicycle Day as filtered through my own finite, mortal mind in the form of a new proverb I just invented:

"Individual journeys may come to an end, but the road goes on forever."

It's not as good as the one in the 1983 movie High Road to China in which a guru told Tom Selleck, "The ox moves slowly, but the earth is patient," but it will have to do.

Until next time...

*for those who care or wonder, the title of this post is from the following poem by Isaac Watts:

Against Idleness And Mischief
by Isaac Watts (1674-1748)

How doth the little busy bee
Improve each shining hour,
And gather honey all the day
From every opening flower!

How skilfully she builds her cell!
How neat she spreads the wax!
And labors hard to store it well
With the sweet food she makes.

In works of labor or of skill,
I would be busy too;
For Satan finds some mischief still
For idle hands to do.

In books, or work, or healthful play,
Let my first years be passed,
That I may give for every day
Some good account at last.

Tuesday, April 18, 2017

Let the games begin

Today, friends, we will be playing Atlanta Traffic Bingo.

Ladies and gentlemen, start your engines.

(Editor's note. I found this on Facebook this morning. It may not float your boat (British, be your cup of tea), but I find it uproariously funny. --RWP)

Monday, April 10, 2017

A long time ago in a galaxy far, far away...

Today is my mother's birthday. Ruth Elizabeth Silberman Brague would have been 107 years old today.

Unfortunately, she died at the age of 47 when I was but 16. I am going to show you a few photographs of her from long before I entered the picture. I was born in 1941, a month before her 31st birthday. These pictures are all from the 1920s and 1930s. I do not have specific dates for any of them.

In my all-time favorite picture of her, taken around the time she graduated from West Chester State College in 1930, she wore a black dress and a long necklace made of what looked like mahjongg tiles linked together. It has somehow managed to become lost. This one was taken a few years later: :

Here she is with her mother and sister:

Here she is with her brother Jack. He called her Roothie-Poothie. He became Dr. J. DeWolf Silberman, M.D., and set up practice in Lebanon County, Pennsylvania:

Here is my mother with her sister Marion, probably in New York:

And here she is with her parents, my grandparents, Rosetta and Nathan Silberman, possibly on the boardwalk in Atlantic City:

Long-time readers of this blog may remember some of these photos as I included them in posts in 2010 and 2013, ancient history as time is counted in the blogging world.

Some years ago I wrote the following sonnet. I was remembering two small oval-framed photographs of my mother's grandparents, Max and Sarah Nussbaum Silberman, taken around the turn of the twentieth century, that I once saw in my uncle's house. I wish I could show them to you as well, but I cannot. Perhaps you will think of some old photographs of your own relatives as you read it.

On Being Shown a Photograph of an Ancestor
by Robert H. Brague

Those things speak most that never say a word,
Like eyes that meet on streets when strangers pass;
The loudest cries so often go unheard,
Like silent prayers reflected in a glass.
Though never have we spoken, there’s a bond
That shatters my veneer, my thin disguise;
You look beneath the surface and beyond,
And all of time is frozen in your eyes.
Departed generations in between,
Like links of chain from viewer to the viewed,
Peer over Heaven’s edge, survey the scene,
Hold their collective breaths, and don’t intrude.
While thoughts of love, and death, and DNA
Swirl through my brain, they bow their heads and pray.

Tuesday, April 4, 2017

Odds and ends

1. Some back-formations drive me bonkers. Others, not so much. When you're around me, therefore, please say orient, not orientate. Converse, not conversate. Reveal, not revelate. Crown, not coronate. Don't make awkward new verbs out of good nouns (orientation, conversation, revelation, coronation) when perfectly good verbs already exist that express what you want to say (the aforementioned orient, converse, reveal, crown). Here's more on the subject by an Irishman named Stan Carey.

2. My all-time favorite (British, favourite) helpful household hint is found, appropriately enough, in a book entitled Phyllis Diller's Household Hints. Remember her? Zany, wacko comedienne. Is that word still politically correct? I suppose not. If we must say flight attendant instead of stewardess, I guess we should abandon comedienne and say joke teller. Maybe we already have. I'm always one of the last to know.

Here's Phyllis's hint: If you let your children write their names in the dust on your dining room table, don't let them write the date." That has to be the best household hint ever.

Phyllis wrote several books along the way. Here are some of them:

I'm as sure as I can be (although I have been wrong on occasion) that you can't get enough of Phyllis. Here she is doing her schtick (and, let us not forget, earning a lot of money) as a guest on Liberace's program back in the 1960s (8:45).

And here she is playing the piano with Liberace (gasp!) on the same program (2:56).

Finally -- and you really should listen to this -- here is Phyllis Diller at the age of 94 in January 2012 (she turned 95 in July and died in August that same year) singing "Smile" (3:04). Although she doesn't have a great voice, anyone who still wants to sing at 94 should probably be paid attention to.

3. Another writer, Lewis Grizzard, who wrote humor (British, humour) columns for the Atlanta Journal-Constitution for many years, also tried his hand at books. It is my considered opinion that the best things about Lewis Grizzard's books were their titles. I was never enamored (British, enamoured) of what lay between the covers. Here (wouldn't you know) is a list of some of his titles:

Kathy Sue Loudermilk, I Love You (1979).
Elvis Is Dead and I Don't Feel So Good Myself (1980).
Won't You Come Home, Billy Bob Bailey? (1980).
Don't Sit Under the Grits Tree With Anyone Else But Me (1981).
They Tore Out My Heart and Stomped That Sucker Flat (1982).
If Love Were Oil, I'd Be About a Quart Low (1983).
Shoot Low Boys, They're Ridin' Shetland Ponies (1985).
My Daddy Was a Pistol and I'm a Son of a Gun (1987)
When My Love Returns From the Ladies Room, Will I Be Too Old to Care? (1987).
Don't Bend Over in the Garden, Granny, You Know Them 'Taters Got Eyes (1988).
Chili Dawgs Always Bark at Night (1989).
If I Ever Get Back to Georgia, I'm Gonna Nail My Feet to the Ground (1990).
Advice to the Newly Wed . . . & the Newly Divorced (1990).
Does a Wild Bear Chip in the Woods? (the book is about golf) (1990).
You Can't Put No Boogie-Woogie on the King of Rock and Roll (1991).
Don't Forget to Call Your Mama, I Wish I Could Call Mine (1991).
I Haven't Understood Anything Since 1962: And Other Nekkid Truths (1992).
I Took a Lickin' and Kept on Tickin' and Now I Believe in Miracles (1993).

4. Finally, here from a long time ago (the 1950s) is a violin duet by Jack Benny and Gisele MacKensie (2:24). The voice at the beginning calling it legendary is none other than Walter Cronkite. If those three names don't ring a bell, I feel truly sorry for you.

Until next time, I remain your faithful correspondent.

Sunday, April 2, 2017

No, I'm not the least bit OCD. Why do you ask?

But I do admit to being a list maker.

For example, last Sunday we visited a church we had attended from 1979 until 2008, where the senior pastor was being honored. He is stepping down from his position of leadership after almost 34 years and passing the torch to someone else. Here are many of the people I recognized or spoke to, some of whom I had not seen in many years:

Don & Linda M.
Chuck & Candace R.
Bill & Twyla G.
Wayne & Ellen L.
Steven & Rosemary L. with son Russ
Tom & Cheryl B.
Steve & Kristi A.
"F.M." M.
Dana & Richard T.
Walter & Margaret T.
Ben & Helen C.
Richard & Ramona M.
Don W. (didn't see Razzie)
Nick B.
Josh H.
Darrell & Cindy H.
Jason H. (didn't see Brandi)
Tom J.
Jake R.
Geoff & Timarie R.
Charlie & Rita R.
Alan & Jessica R.
Audrey L.
Victor L.
Bill & Cheri F.
Ken & Sue T.
Sabrina L.
Kate S. with daughter Nelda
Mike & Julie B.
Esther B. with daughter Pam
Sherri S. & husband (can't remember his name)
Nathan & Stephanie M.
Mark & Gwen B. with son Noah
Jim & Amy P. with Avery & Edie
Staci B.
Wayne & Sharon S.
Tony & Lisa W.
Debbie M.
Matt B.
Clint B.
Tim & Jennifer W.
Ed & Wyn S.
Marc & Donita W.
Tony & Renee O.
Connie C.
Diane R.
Jack L.
Billy H.(didn't see Terri or Hannah)
Bruce & Vedonna R.
Jeff & Lori R.
Steve M.(didn't see Terri)
Vicki B.
Daryl & Janie M.
Linda W.
Todd M.
Beverly M. (Todd's mom)
Jared & Jennifer M.
Jonathan C.
Rick & Peggy M.
Rachael A.(didn't see Ken or Aaron)
Brian & Cheryl L. (didn't see Grant or Lindsey)
Rachel E. (didn't see Josh)
Clara L. with daughteer Suzanne
Phil & Marge H.
K. Ray & Shelia L.
Rick & Laurie J.
Jon & Mindy M.
David & Cheryl M.
Jon & Mindy M.
Bob M. (didn't see Linda)
Linda K.
Stephanie T.
David & Sue T.
David S. (didn't see Tracey)
Marcy B.

...and there were others, I'm sure.

Charlie B.would have been there but he was home taking care of Patrick, one of my favorite people.

I told you I was a list maker. Here's another one:

People who I thought might attend but who I never ran into into whom I never ran:

Kent & Cathy M.
Paul & Marti A.
Chuck & Elaine H.
Jeff & Wanda K.
Bruce & Lisa M.
Neal & Ro P.
Eddie & Trisha M.
Stephen & Renee G.
Kevin & Gwen M.
Ron & Judy F.
Bill & Cathy T.
Dutch & Sonya T.
Ken & Sheila H.
Mark & Audrey S.
Pepper & Mandi H.
Tammi M.
Carolyn S.
Gloria G.
Erin M.
Andrea M.
Todd & Christy C.
Jim & Chris C.
Mike & Sylvia C.
Gary & Sherri Z.
Ginny C.
Julie K.
Patty B.
Rose P.
Paul & Chris P.
Dick & Marti S.
David & Lisa K.
John & LaDonna J.
John & Pam S. (they are in England visiting their daughter)
Trip & Diana C.
Scott & Tamara G.
Tom & Kathy R.
Amalfi C. (she's in Florida at the moment)

If I were truly OCD, you know, those lists would be arranged in alphabetic order and numbered.

Speaking of Amalfi (everybody calls her Moffie), here she is being typically herself with her sister Sammie:

Here she is with a group called the ukuladies. One of them appears to be transgender:

And this one is my all-time favorite clip of Moffie - if you want to laugh, please watch!

Every single day I try to be thankful for something. Today I am thankful that Moffie was not on the pastoral search committee (I'm joking.) To be honest, Moffie washes up rather impressively. Here she is with one of her great-great-granchildren:

Friday, March 31, 2017

The burning question of the day

So (my apologies to Graham Edwards) if Arnold George Dorsey can transform himself into Engelbert Humperdinck, why can't I be Ludwig Wittgenstein?

Well, one reason is that he has been dead for, lo, these many years. Of course, that didn't stop Arnold George, did it? And another is that most people wouldn't know him (Ludwig) from Adam's off ox.

It has been done with grocery items here in the U.S. long ago, as I remember a mayonnaise commercial that said, "It's Hellman's in the east, Best Foods in the west." It has been done with fictional characters in the movies. For example, in The Wizard of Oz the Scarecrow could have been Lincoln, the Tin Man saw himself as Romeo, and the Cowardly Lion aspired to be Caesar. For the skeptical among you, here's proof.

If you wish to sing about having a Brain/a Heart/the Nerve whilst accompanying yourself on the ukelele, the chords are waiting for you at this address:

I would like to hear from my vast reading audience. Who would you become if you decided to rebrand yourself after the manner of Engelbert and moi? The only requirement is that you throw caution to the winds and let your imagination soar. I see Elephant's Child as Marie Antoinette, Emma Springfield as Amelia Earhart, and Yorkshire Pudding as Benjamin Disraeli, but I'm sure that's just the drugs talking.

Let the fun begin....

Wednesday, March 22, 2017

Belle et la bête and other stuff

Before I get to that, I am indebted to Shooting Parrots (Ian in Lancashire) for the first million digits of pi and I am also indebted to All Consuming (Michelle in Yorkshire) for a lovely animated musical birthday card. It featured "Spring Song" by Felix Mendelssohn (2:46). Very timely, too, as my birthday was two days before the first day of spring.

Accordingly, here from yesteryear is comedian Anna Russell singing "O How I Love the Spring" (an English folk song of the nymphs and shepherds style), plus a Russian song, "Da, Nyet, Da, Nyet" thrown in for good measure (6:37). She continued her musical journey through the vocal genres with a German lied ("Schlumpf") and a French art song ("Je N'ai Pas La Plume de ma Tante") (5:50).

...which phrase from French I class brings us at last to Belle et la bête, or how I spent my birthday.

Belle et la bête, you know, Beauty and the Beast.

Not the new motion picture that has certain sections of the population upset over the introduction of homosexual attraction into the world of children's fairy tales. No, indeed. I'm speaking instead of the stage musical based on the Disney cartoon version of a few years back as performed by the school my granddaughter attends.

My granddaughter had the role of Babette the Feather Duster. Here she is with Lumiere:

...and after the show with her biggest fans:

In other news of note, our older Alabama grandson attended his senior prom and also played a French horn solo at the All-District Band concert. Not at the same time. On consecutive days.

...and our younger Alabama grandson, his brother, who is ranked first on his school's golf team, won his first match of the season. That's him, er, he second from the right in the group photo:

...and our oldest grandson of all helped his college baseball team, currently ranked #5 in the nation among Division III schools, beat the #3 school, Emory University, by a score of 9 to 4:

Here he is with his proud brother:

Finally, Babette's older brother flew in from North Carolina (and boy, are his arms tired) just to see his sister on stage but since we managed to attend different performances we don't have a photograph of him except for this one from a couple of years back:

A bientôt.

Friday, March 17, 2017


Instead of a St. Patrick's Day-themed post, I present today the latest evidence that the Oxford comma controversy is alive and well. It is a fitting way, I think, to commemorate the last day I will ever be 75.

You don't have to be a Mainiac, but it helps.

I have blogged about this subject before.

I'm sure you have all turned green with envy at my talent, erudition, and general humility.

Thursday, March 16, 2017

All things being equal

...means we get two equinoxes a year, vernal and autumnal as they are known in some circles or March and September as they are known in others. Solstices, which happen in June and December, are a subject for another day.

So everything is equal on an equinox, right? Day and night. Hours of daylight and hours of darkness. Sunrise and sunset twelve hours apart, right?


The equinox doesn't occur until next Monday, March 20th, but where I live the 12 hours exactly between sunrise and sunset came closest yesterday, March 15th, when the sun rose at 7:46 a.m. and set at 7:45 p.m. By today things had already slipped past the equal stage because sunrise occurred at 7:45 a.m. and sunset at 7:46 p.m. today in Canton, Georgia. So when were things equal? At midnight?

Turns out these things depend not only on the tilt of earth's axis but on the exact latitude on earth where you happen to live. So it's different for just about everybody.

I'm sorry if this bursts your bubble or upsets your apple cart. Don't blame me. I just live here.

Monday, March 13, 2017

The spring has not yet sprung, the grass has not yet riz, but I know where one of the birdies is

This is a "homey" post of the type not usually associated with moi, but it's a whole heap less stressful on one's nerves than working oneself up into a permanent lather over BREXIT, Donald Trump, ISIS, China, Israel, Hillary Clinton, North Korea, Guantanamo Bay, Turkey, Syria, Iraq, Afghanistan, Nancy Pelosi, Palestine, global warming, Iran, Yemen, Simon Cowell, or any other perceived threat to world peace.

Today I rise to speak of bluebirds, or, to be more accurate, of one specific bluebird.

He likes that particular chair by the door, as you can plainly see from all the poop with which he has decorated it.

He also likes to sit on our shepherd's crook to be near our blue feeder filled with dried mealworms...

...and on our other shepherd's crook to be near our green feeder filled with peanut suet.

From these perches he tries to be master of all he surveys, but he has to defend his territory against neighbors like The Mockingbirds and The House Finches and even a few robins. Mr. Bluebird also likes our birdbath but I have not yet been able to get a photo of him perched there. He is an alert little fellow and darts away to fight another day if startled.

If you are equally alert, you may also have spotted (no pun intended) the 1930 portrait of Mrs. RWP's parents on our kitchen wall as well as some of her orchid plants in bloom.

And if I were as alert as I like to think I am, I would have remembered that I already told you about the bluebirds and the blue feeder filled with dried mealworms and the green feeder filled with peanut suet a couple of weeks ago.

As the world can tend to be too much with us, we now return you to the apocalypse in progress.

Monday, March 6, 2017

On approaching the end of one's time on this planet, plus Davy Crockett

In less than two weeks I will be celebrating hope to be celebrating the seventy-sixth anniversary of my first appearance on planet Earth, ye olde Terra Firma, third rock from the sun, and so on, which to date has been both ongoing and uninterrupted. It occurred in the city of Pawtucket in the county of Providence in the smallest of all of the fifty states, Rhode Island, in a house on Merrick Street with a Dr. Ronne attending. Doctors still made house calls in those dear, dead, almost-beyond-recall days of 1941, the demise of which practice, though perhaps understandable, is to be lamented.

I have reached the point in life where one recognizes the fact that one does not know whether one has another twenty years or another twenty minutes but that either scenario is possible. I suppose this is true at every single moment along the continuum of everyone's life, but the difference that comes with age, I think, is the recognizing part, the recognizing that one's time breathing in and breathing out has an actual, unavoidable, and rapidly approaching end point.

The mortality rate, friends, is one per person.


Everyone dies. No one is exempted.

On that happy note, what should we do? Eat, drink, and be merry? Pour out our secret sins in a tell-all confessional novel? Retreat to a cloistered monastery for prayer and contemplation? Earn as much money as we can and send it to televangelists? Invest in gold and silver? Work in a soup kitchen in the inner city? Hoard our treasures so that our heirs can either enjoy or sell them? Waste our substance in riotous living? Complain about the current state of affairs? Get right with God? Stock up on freeze-dried food and move to an underground shelter? Be kind to our neighbors? Binge-watch The Walking Dead? Go dancing?

So many choices. So little time.

In other news, today is the 181st anniversary of the fall of the Alamo.

Thursday, March 2, 2017

I don't see London, I don't see France

...and I definitely don't see anyone's underpants. This snapshot of my blog stats showed an extremely high spike on February 25th. On the same day most of my blog hits came from the country of France.

A few months back it was Russia causing spikes. My spies (it's only an expression, people) tell me that an extraordinarily high number of views is probably the result of robots. Speaking of underpants, Yorkshire Pudding should not get his in a wad and start speaking in French all of a sudden. Sacre bleu!

Take a closer look at my blog stats. Do you see what I see? *That sound you hear is All Consuming beginning to hum a Christmas song*

What I see in my blog stats snapshot is -- wait for it -- the skyline of Dubai.

Yes, I see the Burj Khalifa, formerly known as the Burj Dubai, the tallest building in the world poking more than a half-mile into the sky at 2,717 feet (828 meters).

One hundred sixty stories. Speaking of sacre bleu, sacre bleu! Here's a closer look:

Can anyone say "Tower of Babel"?

In my blog stats snapshot I also see Pinocchio lying on his back (see what I did there?) and if I squint and hold my tongue just right I can almost make out Roger Price's famous droodle "Ship Arriving Too Late to Save a Drowning Witch" from his 1953 book that later became an album cover for Frank Zappa in 1982:

Here's another droodle from Roger's book. It's called "Four Elephants Examining an Orange":

I have done enough damage for one day. My work here is done.

P.S. -- I think I'm feeling giddy because today is the sixteenth birthday of our youngest grandchild. If you need a reason, that one will have to do.

Monday, February 27, 2017

The eyes have it.

That is not a typo. I don't mean ayes, that the ayes have it as opposed to the nays. I meant just what I said, that the eyes have it as opposed to, say, the feet.

Houston, we have a problem.

Recently I learned that I have Age-related Macular Degeneration (AMF). If you don't know where the macula is, here's a helpful chart:

When my ophthalmologist told me that I have macular degeneration, I thought immediately about a friend of mine who was told the same thing about 25 years ago who has become legally blind. I immediately thought this will be happening to me also, but the good doctor told me it probably will not. For one thing, mine was found fairly early. For another, the medical community has learned a few things in the past 25 years.

Most of the information in the remainder of this post is from a handout provided by the American Academy of Ophthalmologists.

Age-Related Macular Degeneration (AMD) is a problem with your retina. It happens when the part of the retina called the macula is damaged. With AMD you lose your central vision. You cannot see fine details, whether you are looking at something close or far, but your peripheral vision will still be normal. This is akin to looking at a clock with hands and being able to see the clock's numbers but not the hands.

I would say that the illustration above is very accurate. In very dim light I experience something quite similar, except that in my own case the smudge is only about the size of a quarter instead of the size of a silver dollar.

AMD is very common. It is a leading cause of vision loss in people 50 years or older. Unfortunately there is no cure for AMD. But it can be treated, if that is the right word, slowed down significantly, or even arrested at its current level in some cases.

I have learned that there are two types of AMD, "dry" and "wet." Lucky me, I have both types (one type in my left eye and the other type in my right eye).

Sometimes drusen (tiny white or yellow particles that form under the retina) develop. They seldom cause vision loss, but many (or very large) drusen can be a sign of AMD.

Dry AMD is quite common. About 90% of people who have AMD have the dry form. Dry AMD occurs when parts of the macula get thinner with age and drusen grow. You slowly lose central vision. There is no way to treat dry AMD yet. However, a major study that lasted several years (called AREDS and AREDS2) revealed that people with serious vision loss may be able to slow their dry AMD by taking these vitamins and minerals on a daily basis:

Vitamin C (500 mg)
Vitamin E (400 IU)
Lutein (10 mg)
Zeaxanthin (2 mg)
Zinc (80 mg)
Copper (2 mg) I have begun doing that. They can be purchased over the counter without a prescription. The important thing is that the brand you buy says "AREDS2" on the package. I'm taking PreserVision by Bausch & Lomb.

Wet AMD is less common but much more serious. Wet AMD occurs when new, abnormal blood vessels grow under the retina. These vessels may leak blood or other fluids, causing scarring of the macula. A person loses vision faster with wet AMD than with dry AMD. To help treat wet AMD, medications called anti-VEGF (Vascular endothelial growth factor) drugs can help reduce the number of abnormal blood vessels in the retina and also slows any leaking from blood vessels. This medication is given through injections (shots) in your eye. As I was saying, lucky me.

I am grateful that treatment exists and that complete blindness will probably not occur. Still, who wants to get shots in the eye?

Nobody, that's who, unless you discover that you need them to retain what vision you have.

So I received my first shot a couple of weeks ago and will be getting one per month for a while. The doctor said that if there is noticeable improvement he may lengthen the interval between the shots.

Laser surgery may also be used to treat some types of wet AMD. The doctor and I may be talking more about this down the road.

You now know as much about Age-Related Macular Degeneration as I do.

Lucky you.

Saturday, February 25, 2017

I love 2 BB side your side B side the C, B side the C side, by the B U T full C, plus bluebirds

Here's a little something to tickle your fancy:

By the C, by the C,
By the B U T full C,
U N I, U N I,
O how hap P we'll B.
I love 2 BB side your side
B side the C,
B side the C side,
By the B U T full C!

That song, or something very similar, was written way back in 1914 by songwriters Harold Atteridge and Harry Carroll for the musical "For Me and My Gal."

Here is a glimpse of what it actually was like to be beside the seaside in 1914 and a few other years as well (3:11)

Okay, so it's not The Alphabet Song but it's the best I could come up with on a chilly day in February.

Speaking of a chilly day in February, Eastern bluebirds have been in our yard for the past couple of days, so Mrs. RWP and I went to Home Depot today and bought two new feeders along with a bag of peanut butter suet and a bag of mealworms to fill them up with. (If you want to try to rearrange the preceding sentence so that it doesn't end with two prepositions, be my guest.) Just so you know, mealworms are not really worms but dried beetle larvae, much in the same way that Yorkshire Pudding is not really a Yorkshire pudding. Please don't misunderstand me. I am not saying that Yorkshire Pudding is dried beetle larvae; I'm saying that mealworms are dried beetle larvae. The jury is still out on Yorkshire Pudding.

I did not take that photo. A man named Ken Thomas did in 2007 in Johnston County, North Carolina. He released it into the public domain, though, so anyone can use it without fear of recrimination from any Internet Nazis or deportation across our southern border by the Department of Homeland Security.

I did take these photographs of our two new bird feeders, however.

It was a chilly day. The wind was blowing and I was in shirtsleeves, so I didn't take pains to take time to produce good photographs. As a result, hardly anything in either photo appears to be vertical. In actuality, both of the shepherd's crooks are vertical but the two bird feeders were not. They were swaying in the breeze. Sorry, people, Ansel Adams I am not.

Let's end this somewhat disjointed (but fascinating) post by listening to Julie Andrews and watching Jane Darwell in her last role (3:49) together.

Saturday, February 18, 2017

Andrew Lloyd Webber gets writer's block

Don't cry for me, __________.

San Diego.
Cairo, Egypt.
Kansas City.
Costa Rica.
San Francisco.
Salt Lake City.
Glasgow, Scotland.
Brick, New Jersey.
North Dakota.
Rapa Nui.
Stockholm, Sweden
Perth, Australia.
Macon, Georgia.
London, England.
Ellis Island.
Fort Worth, Texas
Bangkok, Thailand.

I think I'll stop for today. Nothing seems to be working.

Hey, Evita, want to go out for pizza?

Thursday, February 16, 2017

The expectation versus the reality

I had high hopes that my grandson's years at university would be something like this:

The University of Illinois Men's Glee Club sings "Gaudeamus Igitur" (1:36)

But so far they are turning out to be more like this:

That's him, er, he with the DU on his palms.

Oh, well -- you're only young once.

Saturday, February 4, 2017

No mayonnaise in Ireland*

*attributed to an author named Will Stanton in a 1971 article in Reader's Digest.

I hope this post won't be too esoteric for you, dear reader, but if it is, it simply can't be helped.

If the title alone seems pretty esoteric, let me explain. It is one of the most famous lines the English poet John Donne ever wrote, expressed in our old friend Anguish Languish.

I'll prove it to you. In 1623, in an essay we know as Meditation XVII, Donne wrote:

No man is an island, entire of itself; every man is a piece of the continent, a part of the main. If a clod be washed away by the sea, Europe is the less, as well as if a promontory were, as well as if a manor of thy friend’s or of thine own were. Any man’s death diminishes me, because I am involved in mankind; and therefore never send to know for whom the bell tolls; it tolls for thee.

You see what Will Stanton did there. No mayonnaise in Ireland. This is where you laugh politely or groan and roll your eyes, whichever you feel is more appropriate.

Which brings us to Yorkshire Pudding's riddle.

In his spare time my cyberfriend Yorkshire Pudding likes to take long walks in his native Yorkshire and then blog about them afterward. He recently posted the following:

"On the edge of Low Bradfield I came across [a] disused building. I thought it was an old barn but then I spotted an early nineteenth century plaque above one of the doors. It reads like this "1826/ Rebuilt at the Curate's sole cost./Nemo soli sibi natus". Translated, the Latin phrase means "Nobody is born alone". Why would such a plaque appear on a barn? I have been unable to solve this riddle."

I shall now attempt to solve Yorkshire Pudding's riddle, "Why would such a plaque appear on a barn?"

The phrase "Nobody is born alone" had a familiar ring. It reminded me of a somewhat similar statement in the fourteenth chapter of the book of Romans in the New Testament:

7 For none of us liveth to himself, and no man dieth to himself.

Here it is in the Vulgate, the fourth-century Latin version of the Bible:

7 Nemo enim nostrum sibi vivit, et nemo sibi moritur.

In context, the passage turns out to be all about the Lord (surprise, surprise!) as the next verse says, "Whoever lives lives unto the Lord, and whoever dies dies unto the Lord; therefore whether we live or die, we are the Lord's." Since many who read this blog are atheist, however, we will not go down this road any further.

I do definitely think, however, that the sentiment on the barn plaque has its roots in the passage from Romans.

In my research I discovered that the same quotation, Nemo soli sibi natus (Nobody is born alone), was also placed over the church door in Ecclesfield in 1695. The following is from page 202 of The History of the Parish of Ecclesfield: In the County of York:

"[Vicar Edward Mansel] also rebuilt the parsonage-house in 1695, over the door of which he placed this inscription, which, or a copy of it, is still just within the entrance of the present Vicarage:

Edward Mansel. Vicar 1695.
Nemo Soli Sibi Natus.
Vivat Rex.
Floreat Ecclesia.

He also gave 50£ towards building a parsonage at Bradfield, and left a still more substantial bequest of about fifteen acres of land to his successors,...."

Of course the vicar in 1695 in Ecclesfield and the curate in 1826 who had the plaque affixed to the barn in Bradfield cannot possibly be the same person, but the quotation from The History Of Ecclesfield does reveal a connection between Ecclesfield and Bradfield, especially where curates (or vicars) are concerned.

The Bradfield structure with the 1826 plaque was very likely once a barn. Interestingly enough, I also found the following on p. 247 of Topographical and Statistical Description of the County of Devon, a book by G.A. Cooke, Esq., in 1825:

"A tablet in the [Brixton] churchyard wall records the planting of an ancient grove of lofty elms, in 1677, by Edmund Fortesque, Esq., of Spriddlestone, who ordained that they should be sold, when mature, and the products applied to the relief of the parochial poor. The motto on this stone, "Nemo sibi soli natus;" "No man is born alone for himself," is most appropriate to every planter; and should be remembered by all, as an antidote to selfishness, and an incentive to benevolence." (emphasis mine)

The plaques in Bradfield and Ecclesfield and Brixton are meant to remind us all that we should not keep our blessings (our produce, our grain, our lumber) to ourselves but share them with others for the benefit of the whole community. Perhaps we are meant for neither dependence nor independence but for a mutually recognized inter-dependence.

John Donne was right. No man is an island. Or as you can still find in certain parts of England, Nemo sibi soli natum.

P.S. -- It is also true literally and cannot be denied that no one is born alone. A mother is always somewhere in the vicinity.

Sunday, January 22, 2017

44 things you may not have known until now

I saw the following list on Facebook and thought you might enjoy expanding your knowledge. Well, some of you. Okay, one or two of you. I was aware of only five or six of them myself. The most important thing to remember is: Some of them may not even be true.

1. A dime has 118 ridges around the edge.

2. A cat has 32 muscles in each ear.

3. A crocodile cannot stick out its tongue.

4. A dragonfly has a life span of 24 hours.

5. A goldfish has a memory span of three seconds. (I know a lot of people like that)

6. A "jiffy" is an actual unit of time for 1/100th of a second.

7. A shark is the only fish that can blink with both eyes.

8. A snail can sleep for three years.

9. Al Capone's business card said he was a used furniture dealer.

10. All 50 states are listed across the top of the Lincoln Memorial on the back of the $5 bill.

11. Almonds are a member of the peach family.

12. An ostrich's eye is bigger than its brain. (I know people like that too.)

13. Babies are born without kneecaps. They don't appear until the child reaches 2 to 6 years of age!

14. Butterflies taste with their feet.

15. Cats have over one hundred vocal sounds. Dogs only have about 10.

16. "Dreamt" is the only English word that ends in the letters "mt".

17. February 1865 is the only month in recorded history not to have a full moon.

18. In the last 4,000 years, no new animals have been domesticated.

19. If the population of China walked past you in single file, the line would never end because of the rate of reproduction. (When I first heard this twenty or thirty years ago, it had the words "four abreast" or "eight abreast" instead of "in single file" so either someone has tinkered with it since it first came out or the Chinese are slowing down.)

20. If you are an average American, in your whole life you will spend an average of 6 months waiting at red lights.

21. It's impossible to sneeze with your eyes open.

22. Leonardo DaVinci invented scissors.

23. Maine is the only state whose name is just one syllable.

24. No word in the English language rhymes with month, orange, silver, or purple.

25. Our eyes are always the same size from birth, but our nose and ears never stop growing.

26. Peanuts are one of the ingredients of dynamite.

27. Rubber bands last longer when refrigerated.

28. "Stewardesses" is the longest word typed with only the left hand and "lollipop" with your right.

29. The average person's left hand does 56% of the typing.

30. The cruise liner QE2 moves only six inches for each gallon of diesel that it burns.

31. The microwave was invented after a researcher walked by a radar tube and a chocolate bar melted in his pocket.

32. The sentence "The quick brown fox jumps over the lazy dog" uses every letter of the alphabet.

33. The winter of 1932 was so cold that Niagara Falls froze completely solid.

34. The words 'racecar,' 'kayak' and 'level' are the same whether they are read left to right or right to left (palindromes).

35. There are 293 ways to make change for a dollar.

36. There are more chickens than people in the world.

37. There are only four words in the English language which end in "dous": tremendous, horrendous, stupendous, and hazardous

38. There are two words in the English language that have all five vowels in order: "abstemious" and "facetious."

39. There's no Betty Rubble in the Flintstones Chewables Vitamins.

40. Tigers have striped skin, not just striped fur.

41. TYPEWRITER is the longest word that can be made using the letters only on one row of the keyboard.

42. Winston Churchill was born in a ladies' room during a dance.

43. Women blink nearly twice as much as men.

44. Your stomach has to produce a new layer of mucus every two weeks; otherwise it will digest itself.

Lesson of the Day: You can't know everything, and even if you could, it might be a waste of your valuable time.

Saturday, January 21, 2017

Hanoi Jane, 1972

This post was inspired by a line in my Anguish Languish parody of "A, You're Adorable" which I called The Oliver Bit Song (you can read the whole thing here), specifically the words "Fonda wonder shrew"....

Personally, her little trip to North Vietnam turns my stomach. If you want to know more, you'll have to look it up for yourself.

P.S. - After composing this post a couple of days ago and scheduling it for tomorrow, I heard on the telly that Ms. Fonda will participate in today's Women's March On Washington, a Planned Parenthood sponsored abortion rights women's reproductive health issues event scheduled during the Presidential Inauguration festivities. Perfect timing for my post, so I decided to publish it today instead.

Wednesday, January 18, 2017

The Oliver Bit Song, or I feel another bad spell coming on

A, you're ad horrible,
B, you're (sob) dutiful,
C, you're recruiting full itch arms,
D, you're ad doll link and
E, you're egg sight ink and
F, Europe furthering my harms.

G, you'll a god to me,
H, you're so Avonlea,
I, you're divan eye eye dough lies,
J, we're lack chalk and chill,
K, you're soak hiss a bull,
L, you're the lob lye tin my highs.

M, N, O P,
I could go on all day,
Q, R, S, T,
Half a medic lease peeking
You're "O.K!"

U maid moll icon pleat,
V, you're soap berries wheat,
W, X, Y, Z

Hits Fonda wonder shrew
Duh half abet witch ewe
Too tall ewe wet chew me tomb he.

If you made it this far, you are a truly loyal reader of this blog, having gone the second mile with moi. Accordingly, you deserve to hear the original version from 1948 sung by Perry Como and the Fontaine Sisters and see some beautifully crafted letters at the same time (2:24).

Here they are in the early 1950s on Perry's television show:

I have always thought the sister on the right looks like both Kathryn Murray (the ballroom dancer and Arthur Murray's wife) and Kitty Carlisle (panelist on the TV game show To Tell the Truth and wife of playwright and theater director Moss Hart). Better than mere doppelgängers. Dreiergängers!.

Well, that's enough wandering down memory lane for one post, I think.

I'm sure you agree.