Tuesday, January 19, 2021

Fun with numbers? No, it is not.

I do not mean to make light of the pandemic or of the death of one single person, but how one reacts to news depends on how it is presented.

Tonight, on the eve of his inauguration, President-elect and Mrs. Biden and others participated in a brief COVID memorial at the reflecting pool on the National Mall in Washington to recognize and remember the 400,000 Americans whose deaths have been attributed to the disease. It was televised.

Four hundred thousand seems like a very large number -- and compared to the 16,650 automobile fatalities in the U.S. in 2020, it is. (Side note: With 25,000 members of the National Guard in Washington to protect the incoming administration's inauguration activities, there are more than enough of them to have formed a living memorial composed solely of National Guard members to recognize and remember the Americans who perished in automobile accidents in 2020. I'm just saying.)

It's all in how you look at it.

The number of Americans who have died to date due to the COVID pandemic is a very small segment of the overall U.S. population, just 0.12 per cent of our current U.S. population of 330 million. By way of comparison, between 0.48 per cent and 0.81 per cent (between 500,000 and 850,000 out of a U.S. population of 105 million) died during the influenza pandemic of 1918-1919.

Going by the raw numbers, this pandemic could soon be as bad as the earlier one, but looking at the percentage of population it is nowhere near as bad.

Saturday, January 16, 2021

Covid, Impeachment, Inauguration, Covid, Impeachment, Inauguration,...

...what to write about?

That's easy -- none of them.

Let's talk about Jeopardy! some more.

In the first "nobody buzzed in" moment of the post-Alex Trebek era on Jeopardy! that I knew the answer to, the answer was "What is a nightingale?"

The category, Words With Weather Words Inside, had included the answers What is Ukrainian? (weather word: rain) and What is barnstorming? (weather word: storm). The clue that drew silence from all three contestants was (not an exact quote) "The song of this bird is usually heard when the sky is dark" and included a sound clip of its song. It had to be nightingale (weather word: gale) and it was!

The next night there were three more:

What is Cunard? (the clue mentioned the Queen Mary)

What is Corvette? (the clue mentioned "sporty car" and Chevy)

Who is Secretariat? (the clue mentioned a horse I had never heard of and that it and this horse in 1973 were the only two to have run the Kentucky Derby in less than two minutes. In my mind I saw the old newsfilm of Secretariat increasing his big lead by several more lengths as he raced down the home stretch and neared the finish line, and the year 1973 seemed reasonable. Actually two of the three contestants did buzz in but gave wrong answers. One said Man o'War, who raced around 1920, and one said Seabiscuit, who raced in the late 1930s. They were obviously guessing but their time frames were completely off.)

I suppose I am addicted to watching Jeopardy! -- Hello, my name is Bob and I'm a trivia, I mean general knowledge addict. I do enjoy watchng it a lot but I will try to talk about it less on the blog. The last thing I want to do is drive you away.

Moving right along...

I have an announcement to make, but first I have an announcement to make.

Announcement #1 Your comments are always welcome here and I look forward to them eagerly. As the creator and editor of this blog, however, I reserve the right to decide not to publish your comment. And if I do publish your comment, I reserve the right to decide not to reply to it. In other words, you leaves your comments and you takes your chances.

Announcement #2: Oops, I see by the clock on the wall that our time has expired. The second announcement will have to wait.

I'm kidding. my second announcement is that our weather forecast is predicting snow for today.

Speaking of general knowledge, did you know that in 1920 The New York Times named Babe Ruth and Man o'War co-athletes of the year?
Note. A real trivia addict would know the name of the jockey riding Man o'War in the photograph. I have no idea who he is, but I do know that he is not Babe Ruth.

Monday, January 11, 2021

Human life explained

The following is not original with me. I found it online and wanted to pass it along to the readers of this blog.

On the first day, God created the dog and said, "Sit all day by the door of your house and bark at anyone who comes in or walks past. For this, I will give you a life span of twenty years."

The dog said, "That's a long time to be barking. How about only ten years and I'll give you back the other ten?"

And God saw it was good.

On the second day, God created the monkey and said, "Entertain people, do tricks, and make them laugh. For this, I will give you a twenty-year life span."

The monkey said, "Monkey tricks for twenty years? That's a pretty long time to perform. How about I give you back ten like the dog did?"

And God again saw it was good.

On the third day, God created the cow and said, "You must go into the field with the farmer all day long and suffer under the sun, have calves and give milk to support the farmer's family. For this, I will give you a life span of sixty years."

The cow said, "That's kind of a tough life you want me to live for sixty years. How about twenty and I'll give back the other forty?"

And God agreed it was good.

On the fourth day, God created humans and said, "Eat, sleep, play, marry and enjoy your life. For this, I'll give you twenty years."

But the human said, "Only twenty years? Could you possibly give me my twenty, the forty the cow gave back, the ten the monkey gave back, and the ten the dog gave back; that makes eighty, okay?"

"Okay," said God, "You asked for it."

So that is why for our first twenty years, we eat, sleep, play and enjoy ourselves.

For the next forty years, we slave in the sun to support our family.

For the next ten years, we do monkey tricks to entertain the grandchildren.

And for the last ten years, we sit on the front porch and bark at everyone.

Life has now been explained to you.

There is no need to thank me for this valuable information.

I'm doing it as a public service.

If you are looking for me, I will be on the front porch.

Sunday, January 10, 2021

As you may have noticed, I did not respond to comments on the previous post

...and I hope that meets with your approval, that it is acceptable. It may even be a good thing, and I may be doing more of it in the future.

Or not.

It depends on how the mood strikes me. It is interesting, though, to see the sort of comments one's posts engender without feeling it necessary to respond to each and every one. It would be rude to respond to some but not others. Perhaps you think it is also rude of me not to respond to any of them. I hope not.

If Snowbrush wants to call that a cop-out, he is free to do so. It's no skin off my nose (as my mother used to say).

Keep 'em guessing, that's my motto.

It's not really, I just said that.

Do you agree or disagree? Are there hard and fast etiquette rules for bloggers? Must it always be a dialogue? Can it be a monologue sometimes? Am I talking to you or just speaking into the air? Am I talking to myself?

So many questions. I hope you can help me with the answers.

Changing subjects, it was 25°F (-3.9°C) here this morning but the temperature is supposed to reach 48°F (8.9°C) this afternoon. Pneumonia weather, Mrs. RWP calls it. When I took Abby out for her morning constitutional the yard was resplendent. The sun made the frost on the dormant Bermuda grass sparkle like diamonds.

Changing subjects again, four of my direct descendants out of nine have tested positive for COVID-19. If you include spouses and currently significant others our family consists of 17 in all and six have come down with the virus, but so far Mrs. RWP and I, like Old Man River, just keep rollin' along. We are unscathed to date and I hope it stays that way. The only place we go is to doctors' appointments (both of us) and grocery stores (me only). So far, as they say, so good.

Just who are "they" anyway?

As this post seems to be going nowhere, I will stop at this point.

I really do want to hear your opinions in the comments.

Thursday, January 7, 2021

All things considered, my response to the events of January 6, 2021

...is (as a moderately successful boy band of an earlier era once told us) this:

Ob-La-Di, Ob-La-Da, life goes on bra

More specifically,...

Desmond has a barrow in the market place
Molly is the singer in a band
Desmond says to Molly, "Girl, I like your face"
And Molly says this as she takes him by the hand

Ob-la-di ob-la-da life goes on bra
La-la how their life goes on
Ob-la-di ob-la-da life goes on bra
La-la how their life goes on

Desmond takes a trolley to the jeweler's stores
Buys a twenty carat golden ring (Golden ring?)
Takes it back to Molly waiting at the door
And as he gives it to her she begins to sing (Sing)

Ob-la-di ob-la-da life goes on bra
La-la how their life goes on
Ob-la-di ob-la-da life goes on bra
La-la how their life goes on, yeah (No)

In a couple of years they have built
A home sweet home
With a couple of kids running in the yard
Of Desmond and Molly Jones
(Ah ha ha ha ha ha)

Happy ever after in the market place
Desmond lets the children lend a hand (Arm! Leg!)
Molly stays at home and does her pretty face
And in the evening she still sings it with the band

Yes, ob-la-di ob-la-da life goes on bra
La-la how their life goes on (Ha ha ha)
Hey, ob-la-di ob-la-da life goes on bra
La-la how their life goes on

In a couple of years they have built
A home sweet home
With a couple of kids running in the yard
Of Desmond and Molly Jones
(Ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha)

Yeah, happy ever after in the market place
Molly lets the children lend a hand (Foot!)
Desmond stays at home and does his pretty face
And in the evening she's a singer with the band

Yeah, ob-la-di ob-la-da life goes on bra
La-la how their life goes on
Yeah, ob-la-di ob-la-da life goes on bra
La-la how their life goes on

And if you want some fun
Take ob-la-di ob-la-da

(Thank you, uh, ha ha ha!)

As Paul Harvey used to say on the radio, Page Two.

Since all of us want an orderly transition, here is an orderly transition:
...and to answer the question many of you are undoubtedly asking, yes, I might actually be insane, but there is this: I have never been clinically diagnosed.

Okay, I'll be serious for a second. There is more than enough commentary and analysis to be found on television and social media for me to need to put in my two cents worth. Plus you cannot yet be put in jail for what you think, only for what you do.

May it be ever thus.

Thursday, December 31, 2020

This is my last post

...of 2020.

Did I scare you there for a minute?

No, I do not plan to leave the blogging world anytime soon. One never knows, of course. One could get hit by a truck on the way to the grocery store.

But unless that or something worse happens, I hope to be around for quite some time yet.

I have surprised myself by publishing more posts on this blog in 2020 than in any year since 2013.

It's true.

This blog saw the light of day in the last week of September in 2007. By the end of the year I had written 43 posts. Annualizing the rate, had I started the blog at the beginning of the year there might have been 172 posts in 2007.

In 2008, there were 228.
In 2009, there were 206.
In 2010, there were 184.
In 2011, there were 219.
In 2012, there were 220.
In 2013, there were 194.

Beginning in 2014, I began to blog less frequently.

In 2014, I wrote 100 posts.
In 2015, I wrote 91 posts.
In 2016, I wrote 77 posts.
In 2017, I wrote 71 posts.
In 2018, I wrote 86 posts.
And in 2019, I wrote 79 posts.

which brings us to 2020, which in a few more hours will be gone forever. For some unknown reason my blogging output increased this year. This is my 126th post of the year, a significant increase over each of the last six years, but nowhere near the heady days of 2008 through 2013.

When I started this blog in September 2007, I was 66 years old. In about two and a half months, if I am still alive and kicking, I shall turn 80. No wonder I have slowed down.

Unless I am picking up again.

Only time will tell, and I apologize for boring you with all the statistics.

The way I figure it, there have been some high points and some low points in all these years, and I have no way of knowing which are which. I'm pretty sure I have offended some along the way, and again, with very few exceptions, I have no way of knowing which are which, or perhaps that should be who are who or whom are whom or whatever the heck it should be.

So as a sort of end-of-year mea culpa (my fault, my most grievous fault), I want to reach way back into my childhood into the Cokesbury Hymnal from the Methodist Church in which I grew up and give to everyone an end-of-year apology in the form of the words of the 1911 hymn, "An Evening Prayer" by C.M. Battersby. The music was by Charles H. Gabriel, but you will have to imagine that.

Since 2020 has been too much like one long nightmare from which we all hope to wake very soon, I think it is fitting to turn an evening prayer into an end-of-year request for forgiveness.

It may not help, but it couldn't hurt.

An Evening Prayer
by C.M. Battersby

If I have wounded any soul today,
If I have caused one foot to go astray,
If I have walked in my own willful way,
Dear Lord, forgive!

If I have uttered idle words or vain,
If I have turned aside from want or pain,
Lest I myself should suffer through the strain,
Dear Lord, forgive!

If I have been perverse or hard, or cold,
If I have longed for shelter in Thy fold,
When Thou hast given me some fort to hold,
Dear Lord, forgive!

Forgive the sins I have confessed to Thee;
Forgive the secret sins I do not see;
O guide me, love me and my keeper be,
Dear Lord, Amen.

<b> Fun with numbers? No, it is not. </b>

I do not mean to make light of the pandemic or of the death of one single person, but how one reacts to news depends on how it is presented....