Wednesday, September 27, 2023

A day in the life, and another, and another

Being one of the last of the big-time spenders, I took my wife out to breakfast yesterday at one of the local fast-food drive-through establishments that sells hamburgers most of the time but also offers a breakfast menu during the morning hours. The breakfast menu includes various kinds of croissants and biscuits and "French toast-stix", stuff like that. Our own particular favorite (British, favourite) fast-food breakfast is a sausage-egg-and-cheese croissant with hash rounds (finely chopped fried potatoes formed into miniature patties that are known in some places as tater tots) and coffee that would never be mistaken for the world's best. We are gluttons for punishment, evidently.

At the fast-food place, three men were solving the world's problems at a nearby table very loudly, oblivious to other diners who simply wanted a quick, quiet breakfast. They spoke at length of Russian oligarchs and the Crimea and billions of dollars and things one of them called unconstitutional. They never mentioned several currently pressing topics but they came across as self-assured, arrogant, convinced of their own opinions. This didn't happen in Washington D.C. but in a fast-food place in snall-town America. I mentioned to Mrs. RWP that they reminded me of a comedian on television many years ago who told the host of a talk show that in his marriage he made all the big, important decisions, and that his wife made all the small, unimportant ones like what city they would live in, how many children they would have, how much they spent on a house, what kind of car they drove. The host of the show said, "What decisions do YOU make?" and the guy said, "You know, big ones like should Red China join the United Nations?".

After finishing our breakfasts, Mrs.RWP and I went to Home Depot and picked out a new washer and dryer that will be delivered and installed on Saturday. Our old dryer finally breathed its last a day earlier after 20 years of faithful service. It left us with two loads of wet clothes (one in the dryer and one in the washer waiting its turn) to be dried the old-fashioned way. We haven't had a clothesline or clothespins in a very long time but we did have a collapsible drying rack in the garage that proved to be up to the task in our emergency.

We decided to replace our 20-year-old washing machine as well because it might last five more years or it might last five more minutes. We justified our decision in the spirit of killing two birds with one stone, so to speak.

Today, we are looking forward to meeting our second son and his wife tonight for dinner at a Mexican restaurant. We don't get to see them often enough.

Tomorrow, which will be yet another day in our lives, will be the 16th anniversary of the birth of this blog. If this blog were a person, it could get a driver's license.

P.S. - The comments-answering situation continues to be a problem and Google is not helping. He/She/It no longer seems to like me. I will keep trying to solve the dilemma but progress is slow. All in all, I seem to be an ignoramus,-a,-um. I do appreciate everyone who comments.

Sunday, September 24, 2023

Curiouser and curiouser

Today for some unknown reason I have been able to leave comments on both Hilltophomesteader's blog and Tasker Dunham's blog using my iPhone but not on anyone else's or even anyone's else.

I just heard on Fox News that a woman's fiancé exchanged her wedding dress for one his mother liked better. My advice to the woman is to run as fast as you can away from that fellow. Do not pass GO; do not collect two hundred dollars.

Note to the non-French-speaking among my readers as well as those who strive for accuracy in reporting: A man is a fiancé; a woman is a fiancée. A person with gender dysphoria can go either way. I'm just saying.

That's all folks. What can I say? It's Sunday afternoon.

Saturday, September 23, 2023

Ford, GM, and who?

I seem to be increasingly out of touch. Last week it was the word Eswatini, the new name of Swaziland, that caught me by surprise. Now it is American automobile makers.

From time immemorial (okay, for the last hundred years or so) the "Big Three" American auto makers have been Ford, General Motors, and Chrysler (more recently known as Daimler-Chrysler after the German company Daimler-Benz as in Mercedes Benz either acquired or merged with, take your pick, Chrysler).

Over the years, Ford made Fords, Mercurys, and Lincolns; General Motors made Chevrolets, Pontiacs, Oldsmobiles, Buicks, and Cadillacs; and Chrysler made Plymouths, Dodges, and Chryslers. Other manufacturers came and went. Studebaker, Nash, Hudson, Packard, Pierce-Arrow, Stanley Steamer. Gone, all of them, while the Big Three more or less thrived, with the notable exceptions of their Oldsmobile and Plymouth lines.

That all came crashing down around my ears today when I heard a news broadcaster say that the strike by the United Auto Workers Union, now in its sixth day, has spread to more locations and "is affecting all three of America's big auto makers, Ford, General Motors, and Stellantis".

What? Who? I looked it up and found that Chrysler, Fiat, and Maserati are now considered Stellantis brands.

Well, blow me down. You could have knocked me over with a feather. The world marches on. Belize hasn't been British Honduras in a very long time and India may soon become Bharat. Like I said, out of touch.

That being said, do you need to brush up your Shakespeare? Which of the following statements did Hamlet say?

1. Alas, poor Yorick! I knew him well, Mercutio.
2. Alas, poor Yorick! I knew him well, Horatio.
3. Alas, poor Yorick! I knew him well, Ophelia.

If Lady Macbeth was correct, all the perfumes of what country could not sweeten her little hand?

According to Romeo, the light that through yonder window broke was _______ and Juliet was _______.

Finally, do you know, without looking it up, who wrote the song "Brush Up Your Shakespeare" for a Broadway musical?

Until next time, I remain your out-of-touch but indefatigable (accent on the third syllable) roving correspondent.

A happy autumnal equinox to each of you.

Sunday, September 17, 2023

One does what one can and hopes for the best

My inability to reply to comments on my own blog or to leave a comment on anyone else's blog from my iPhone continues.

Aside: My mother, God rest her soul, invariably said "someone's else" and "anyone's else" because, she said, her English teacher in high school was actually from England and that's what SHE said, along with some veddy British pronunciations like strawbree, dictionree, and stationree. (End of Aside)

I do not have a problem commenting when using my desktop computer but unfortunately I am in front of it less and less nowadays and find myself relying more and more on my iPhone, even for composing blogposts. It's a Catch-22 situation if there ever was one. I am reminded, and I don't know why, of the short story "The Gift of the Magi" by William Sidney Porter (he is probably better known by his nom de plume, O. Henry) in which a woman cuts off her beautiful long hair and sells it to a wigmaker in order to have enough money to buy her husband a watch fob for his gold pocket watch, and the husband sells his gold pocket watch in order to have enough money to buy his wife a set of combs for her beautiful long hair. Maybe that's not a Catch-22. Maybe it's what computer programmers call a "deadly embrace" that can occur when two programs cannot proceed because each is waiting for the other to complete an action.

This post is taking much longer to write than I anticipated.

Anyway, in the meantime, until the problem is resolved, if I want to comment I must do so inside my blogposts, so here goes.

In her blog, Rachel Phillips recently referred to herself as "an alumnus, if that is the correct word" of a particular university. No, Rachel, and I hope you see this, that is not the correct word. You are not an alumnus, and here's why. Latin is a highly inflected language where, in addition to verbs being conjugated, nouns are declined. First declension nouns are feminine; nomimative case singular ending is -a and nominative case plural ending is -ae. Second declension nouns, on the other hand, are masculine; nominative case singular ending is -us and nominative case plural ending is -i. There are three or four other declensions as well, but I won't burden you with them.

To keep it as simple as possible:

One female graduate is an alumna.
Several female graduates are alumnae.
One male graduate is an alumnus.
Several male graduates are alumni.

These four words are pronounced, respectively, in Latin, as uh-LOOM-nuh, uh-LOOM-nigh, uh-LOOM-nus, and uh-LOOM-nee but they are usually pronounced differently in English, which can cause even nore confusion..

It's okay to be confused. Hardly anyone gets these particular words right. The only reason I do is that I had a very good Latin teacher, Mrs. Elizabeth Beaver. at Southwestern University in Georgetown, Texas, way back in the 1958-59 school year. I did not graduate from Southwestern and therefore am not an alumnus, merely an ex-student.

In her Cowboys blogpost, Emma Springfield called the raspy-voiced actor who played Jingles on the Wild Bill Hickok TV show by his first name only, Andy. He was Andy Devine, whose career, I discovered, included appearances in no less than 10 feature-length western films starring Roy Rogers and three starring John Wayne that you may remember: Stagecoach, The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance, and How The West Was Won. My favorites were Roy Rogers and Hopalong Cassidy. Emma left Gene Autry off her list but he was also quite popular.

Kylie in Australia said she often wonders how the ancients figured out what causes pregnancy since, with a nine-month interim, the whole cause and effect thing isn't exactly obvious. That is a very good question and certainly more interesting to ponder, I must admit, than why a circle is divided into 360 degrees.

Here's a shout-out to jabblog, a fairly new reader and leaver of comments. And it's always good to hear from Tasker and Terra and Jinksy and Graham and Red. Hilltophomesteader is probably too busy milking goats and feeding chickens and making applesauce and canning green beans and entertaining grandchildren to have much time for commenting these days. We miss her.

This new method is rather clunky and inefficient, but it's better than nothing.

I hope you agree. Let me know if you don't.

Saturday, September 16, 2023

We are not as smart as we think we are

Sure, with every passing year more knowledge becomes available to humanity in general, but most people don't care about expanding their horizons. Most people are too busy idolizing the latest pop-singing boy band or swooning over the latest movie heartthrob or twerking (or frugging or watusiing) their way through their otherwise humdrum existence.

The people of antiquity, people who lived hundreds and thousands of years ago, the people we think we are so much smarter than, they're the ones I find fascinating.

Who first looked into the night sky and saw not only a hunter with three stars in his belt but also a dog at his side?

Who decided to divide each day into 24 hours and each hour into 60 minutes and each minute into 60 seconds?

Who decided that a mile would consist of 5,280 feet or that there are 240,000 miles between the earth and the moon?

Who first discovered that meat and different kinds of vegetables tasted much better when cooked in or over a fire?

Who first noticed that seasons rolled around on a regular basis and kept count of the number of days in a year? Same thing with the phases of the moon and the number of days in a lunar cycle?

Who decided that men's shirts would button left over right but that women's shirts (okay, blouses) would button right over left?

Who decided that a circle would have 360 degrees?

Lots of common, everyday things we never think twice about were not common until someone thought about them for the very first time.

Here's a fun fact: In 1791 the French National Assembly defined a meter (well, no, actually, it was a metre) as one ten-millionth of the distance from the equator to the North Pole. I wonder how they knew that.

Wednesday, September 13, 2023

Merrily we roll along

Here are the answers to the preceding post's challenge to match 23 new countries with 14 old countries:

1. Northern Rhodesia became Zambia.
2. Czechoslovakia became Czechia and Slovakia.
3. Ruanda-Urundi became two countries, Rwanda and Burundi.
4. East Pakistan became Bangladesh.
5. Southern Rhodesia became Zimbabwe.
6. Yugoslavia became seven countries, Slovenia, Serbia, Kosovo, Bosnia-Herzegovina, Montenegro, North Macedonia, and Croatia.
7. Ceylon became Sri Lanka.
8. Tanganyika and 9. Zanzibar combined to become one country, Tanzania.
10. Siam became Thailand.
11. Upper Volta became Burkina Faso.
12. Ivory Coast became Cote d'Ivoire.
13. French Indo-China became theee countries, Viet Nam, Cambodia, and Laos.
14. Nyasaland became Malawi.

Thank you, kylie in Australia, for suggesting that I check out the game of Globle if I liked Worldle. I did and I love it! I suddenly remember my dad telling me that a person can't love something if it can't love back, you just like it a whole lot. Globle is now one of four games I play daily, the others being Worldle in English, Worldle in French, and J!6. That last one is an extension of the day's Jeopardy! categories for the addicted.

Here is a list of siblings who had careers in the entertainment industry:

1. Joan Fontaine and Olivia de Havilland.
2. Jayne Meadows and Audrey Meadows.
3. Jack Narz and Tom Kennedy.
4. Shirley MacLaine and Warren Beatty.
5. James Arness and Peter Graves.
6. Loretta Lynn and Crystal Gayle.
7. Dolly Parton and Stella Parton.
8. Ron Howard and Clint Howard.
9. Derek Hough and Julianne Hough.
10. Donnie Osmond and Marie Osmond.
11. June Havoc and Gypsy Rose Lee.
12. Constance Bennett and Joan Bennett.
13. Chico, Harpo, Groucho, Gummo, and Zeppo Marx*.
14. Dick Van Dyke and Jerry Van Dyke.
15. Tommy Dorsey and Jimmy Dorsey.
16. Harry Lillis "Bing" Crosby and Bob Crosby.

*The real names of the Marx Brothers were Leonard, Adolph, Julius, Milton, and Herbert.

Other show-biz siblings include the Andrews Sisters, the McGuire Sisters, the Lennon Sisters, the Ames Brothers, the Pointer Sisters, and the Osmond Brothers. The Gumm Sisters performed during the days of vaudeville but only one of the sisters continued to perform after the other sisters stopped. We know her as Judy Garland.

I admit it. This whole post is, to quote Tasker Dunham's words in a recent comment on this very blog, about as much use as being able to program in COBOL**.

**COmmon Business-Oriented Language

Wednesday, September 6, 2023

I love maps, masks not so much

I am still getting used to the fact that Burma changed its name to Myanmar (it happened in 1989) but I was very surprised to learn yesterday that the little country of Swaziland (it's completely surrounded by South Africa) changed its name to Eswatini in 2018. Were you aware of this? I have never heard the word Eswatini before. Where have I been for the last five years?

The world map has changed significantly since I studied geography in school, at which time Alaska and Hawaii were not states and the US flag had 48 (not 57) stars.

Can you match the old names of the countries in A with their new names in B?

A -- Northern Rhodesia, Czechoslovakia, Ruanda-Urundi, East Pakistan, Southern Rhodesia, Yugoslavia, Ceylon, Tanganyika, Siam, Upper Volta, Ivory Coast, French Indo-China, Zanzibar, Nyasaland

B -- Tanzania, Slovenia, Bangladesh, Serbia, Zambia, Kosovo, Sri Lanka, Czechia, Viet Nam, Rwanda, Malawi, Bosnia-Herzegovina, Zimbabwe, Cote d'Ivoire, Slovakia, Cambodia, Montenegro, Burundi, North Macedonia, Burkina Faso, Laos, Croatia, Thailand

I realize that there are 14 names in A and 23 names in B, but that is just part of the fun. There will be no names left over if you answer correctly.

Which brings us to Worldle. Not Wordle. Worldle. I love Worldle. I have absolutely no interest in Wordle, or Sudoku for that matter, but I play two versions of Worldle every single day, one in English and one in French. The goal is to identify a country by its shape, and in the French version you also are asked to identify its neighbors (les voisins) by their shapes, its capital, its flag (le drapeau), and its approximate population. Great fun for nerds like me. Most challenging to someone who took a single year of French is trying to locate the French name of the country one needs to type from a long alphabetized French list. It can give the brain, not to mention the scrolling finger, a workout because, well, just look:

South Africa is Afrique du Sud
Western Sahara is Sahara Occidental
North Korea is Corée du Nord
South Korea is Corée du Sud
United States is États-Unis d'Amérique
Netherlands is Pays Bas*

*literally, Low Country

On the subject of masks, for most of my life I have assumed something about masks that turns out not to be true at all. I have assumed that when I wore a mask I was protecting myself from things other people had like germs and contagious diseases. Nothing could be further from the truth.

Actually it's just the opposite. When you wear a mask you aren't protecting yourself from other people, you are protecting other people from you. You are not protected unless the other person is wearing a mask. This may seem obvious to you but I was oblivious. So doctors and nurses in operating rooms are not protecting themselves from the patient's contagious disease, they are attempting to keep the sterile area uncontaminated for the patient's benefit.

Live and learn.

My continued apologies that my inability to reply to comments seems to be the new normal around here. I will try to catch up in an actual post.

P.S. -- I know the US flag has 50 stars, not 57. That was a poke at President Obama.

<b>A day in the life, and another, and another</b>

Being one of the last of the big-time spenders, I took my wife out to breakfast yesterday at one of the local fast-food drive-through establ...