Sunday, January 12, 2020

A brain teaser for a rainy afternoon

We are having much warmer temperatures in north Georgia this January than usually occur. It is expected to reach 70°F (21°C) on Wednesday. We’ve also received a lot of rain lately, lots and lots of rain. It’s ultimately good for the grass, I know, but right now my back yard (British, garden) is saturated, spongy to walk on, downright unpleasant.

But enough about me and my problems. I want to ask you a question.

Something I either heard a meteorologist say several years ago or read in a newspaper or magazine article that was written by a meteorologist — I can’t remember which — Is now stuck in my brain. What I want to know from you is (a) do you think it is true? and (b) is there a difference?

Here it is:

When you hear a weather person say there’s a 60% chance of rain tomorrow, it doesn’t mean there is a 60% chance of rain in 100% of the viewing or listening area. It means there is a 100% chance of rain in 60% of the viewing or listening area.

Years ago my friend and workplace colleague Sanford J. Epstein, a 305-lb. Jew from Burlington, Vermont (as he often referred to himself, and who always wore a bright Kelly green suit to work on St. Patrick’s Day and changed his name tag to read “Sanford J. O’Epstein”) said “If there is a difference that makes no difference, then there is no difference.”

Is the “60% of 100% will have rain” versus “100% of 60% will have rain” puzzle easily dismissed simply by applying the Epstein Rule, or is there a true difference?

Inquiring minds want to know.

Think about it awhile; don’t jump to a conclusion prematurely.

The Bible says it rains on the just and on the unjust. I believe that. I also believe that it rains more on the just than on the unjust, because the unjust stole the just’s umbrella.

You heard it here first.

Thursday, January 9, 2020

Blackeyed peas and collard greens and Auburn University

After living most of our lives in the South —- Mrs. RWP's family moved from Pennsylvania to North Carolina when she was 12 and mine moved from Rhode Island to Texas when I was 6 —- Mrs. RWP and I finally took a major step toward becoming true Southerners when we ate the following on New Year's Day:

Both of us have eaten collards and blackeyed peas before, mind you, but neither of us had ever bothered to eat them on New Year's Day. To Southern minds, this is rather like going to one’s local polling place on election day but not bothering to vote.

Eating blackeyed peas and collard greens on New Year's Day in the American South is a long-standing tradition, probably dating back to the Civil War (a.k.a. the Late Unpleasantness), which ended in 1865, more than 150 years ago. This is considered a long time in America, but it's only yesterday to those of you who can trace your family back to the reign of Ethelred the Unready. Eating collard greens and blackeyed peas on New Year’s Day is said to bring one not only good luck during the year but also lots of money. The collards represent paper money and the blackeyed peas represent coins. Collard greens taste terrible unless they are cooked with ham or served with vinegar, or both, but it is actually blackeyed peas that usually taste like paper money. We don't believe the superstition but we decided to join in the fun.

I thought these “seasoned Southern style” blackeyed peas were quite good, however, although a blogger friend tells me that Glory brand is toxic. I guess that’s why ice cream comes in both chocolate and vanilla. I didn't enjoy the canned chopped collard greens at all. I prefer fresh collards to canned. (Note. I don't care for turnip greens or mustard greens at all, nor is cornbread something I dream about, long for, or drool at the thought of. (Gracious, what a lot of prepositions.) Maybe I am not a true Southerner yet even though I have lived here in Texas, Florida, and Georgia for most of my life. I can hear some of you saying “Well, Texas isn’t the South, it’s the Southwest“ but it seceded, if that’s any qualification. The non-southern years of my life include six years in Rhode Island, three years in Nebraska, and three years in New York.)

We did something else during the last week of 2019 that should help qualify us as Southern in the minds of the unconvinced. While visiting our daughter's family in Alabama, we set foot on the campus of Auburn University for the very first time. In the distance in the photograph below is the oldest part of the campus including historic Samford Hall, now the Administration Building:

That is not a black-and-white picture. It was taken looking directly into the sun about four in the afternoon, not the best time to try to take a photograph. If you enlarge the photo and look closely at a sign near the opposite corner, you will see that it is indeed a color photo. I was standing in front of Toomers Corner, where Auburn fans go to have a lemonade after a home football victory.

Here's proof:

On November 30, 2019, Auburn (War Eagle!) defeated the University of Alabama (Roll, Tide!) 48-45 in this season's Iron Bowl. Auburn's stadium, better known locally as Pat Dye Field at Jordan-Hare Stadium, seatss 87,000 people. Here's an aerial view of it empty.

Toomers Corner was quite busy on November 30th.

This is my 1803rd post. 1803 was the year Thomas Jefferson, America’s third President, purchased the Louisiana Territory from France, doubling the size of the United States.

This is Thomas Jefferson:

This isn't.

Monday, January 6, 2020

I had an epiphany on Epiphany

...when I saw this encore azalea bush in our yard today, valiantly blooming away on a dreary day in January.

Encore azaleas are supposed to bloom in April and October, but not in January. Though the bush itself looks a bit drab and lackluster, the way bushes are supposed to look in winter, the splashes of color (or, if you are in one of the British Commonwealth of Nations countries, colour) brightened my day, bringing me happiness and joy by simply being.

I decided to look around the house for other splashes of color/colour and found several.

A purple puff just hanging around in the laundry room.

Oranges on the kitchen counter.

Red rugs in the guest bathroom.

A yellow candle on the baker's rack.

A pink baby blanket Mrs. RWP is making, on a table covered with blue and white fabric purchased in Mumbai in 2018 by one of our grandsons.

Two insulated bags I take to the supermarket for the bagger to put frozen stuff in.

My desktop computer screen.

The modem next to my computer.

Lighter blues in the master bedroom.

Raggedy Ann and Andy dolls made by Mrs. RWP 45 years ago.

An angel in a blue dress, some little dishes that our son brought back from either Guatemala or Honduras, a green vase, and a blue tin that contains tea.

Finally, because Christmas wasn't officially over until today, a ceramic Christmas Tree that lights up and plays Christmas carols with a little train circling its base.

I took the wreath down from the front door and packed the ceramic Christmas tree away for another year.

And I felt happy and joyful.

I hope you do too.

Saturday, January 4, 2020

It's only January 4th

...and already I'm falling behind. Sometimes life drags by, and sometimes it whizzes. The older I get, the faster it seems to go.

It's not that my life is filled with exciting, whirlwind activities, it's that my ability to cope with things seems to be declining, ebbing, going away even.

For your information, I am 78; I'll be 79 in March. Tomorrow is the birthday of my only remaining step-brother out in Texas. He'll be 83. In April he and his wife will have been married for 60 years. I played the piano at their wedding.

That's a lot of water under the bridge or over the dam or whatever it is people say about water. I just know that an awful lot of time has gone by. I can't have too much time left. I'm hoping to live longer than my grandfather who died in his 96th year.

Speaking of Texas, one of my step-cousins out there lost her husband Charles to cancer about two months ago. He was a fire marshall, and his widowed father, Herman, lived with them. Herman died early in the morning on New Year's Day. He was 99 years old and had retired from two careers, one as an Army Master Sergeant and one as a High School ROTC instructor. The dates on his obituary caught my eye: 11/15/1920 - 1/1/2020. Everyone who knew them loved both Charles and Herman.

I'm rambling.


I think I have finally caught up with replying to comments on my blog and leaving comments on other people's blogs and welcoming new bloggers to the blogosphere (Bonnie in Missouri).

I will quit while I am ahead, if I am in fact ahead.

I don't want to tax my readers beyond their limits.

The best way to take me is in small doses.


Friday, January 3, 2020

Mitsubishi means three diamonds

Not that it matters one whit, but when it comes to languages, I know snippets of things. Also, I am too lazy today to supply the accents and diacritical markings. You'll have to do that yourself.

French: coup d’etat, c’est la vie, bon soir, coup de grace, c’est la guerre, au revoir, honi soit qui mal y pense, oui, non, peut-etre, merci beaucoups, liberte, egalite, fraternite

Spanish: Feliz Navidad, si senor, gracias, mas agua por favor

Swedish: god Jul, varsogod, sjo hundra sjottiosjo, tack so mycket, var finst der herrtoaletten?

Portuguese: obrigado, feliz Natal, bom Dia

Japanese: arigato, sayonara, sukiyaki, teriyaki, mitsubishi

German: Auf Wiedersehen, gesundheit, dummkopf, ich liebe dich, Wiener schnitzel

Chinese: sheh-sheh, ni hao?, ding hao!

Swahili: jambo, asante

Italian: ciao

I hope you know I am only kidding. Sort of.

I just remembered that I also know a few Russian words and quite a few Albanian words, but you probably don't care so I won't bore you further with them.

This is my 1,800th post since September 28, 2007.

Wednesday, January 1, 2020

My name is Barbara Walters (NOT)...

...and this is 2020.

[Editor's note. This post is so short because I have been busy replying to comments on the last three posts. I fell down on my job over the holidays. Not literally. Figuratively. It's just an expression. I am no longer employed, for those who might have been concerned. --RWP]

Tuesday, December 31, 2019

Quote of the day, the week, the century

...comes from former Vice-President and 2020 presidential candidate Joe Biden, who told a crowd in Derry, New Hampshire, yesterday:

“Anybody who can go down 3,000 feet in a mine can sure as hell learn to program as well...Anybody who can throw coal into a furnace can learn how to program, for God’s sake!”

With all due respect, sir, I disagree. The aptitudes are completely different.

It's rather like saying, "Anybody who can drive a car can learn to be a nuclear physicist."

"Anybody who can bake a chocolate cake can learn how to design a municipal waste treatment facility."

"Anybody who can put one foot in front of the other can conduct a great symphony orchestra."

In each instance, including Vice-President Biden's, the first skill does not preclude the second, granted, but neither is it a guarantee of achieving it.

Plus, anybody includes a lot ot people.

You heard it here first.

Color me skeptical.