Saturday, February 28, 2009

From the land where the Bong-tree grows

Ladies and gentlemen, and children of all ages, please turn your attention to the center ring, where, direct from the land where the Bong-tree grows, the lilting voice of none other than Donovan, who spent a great deal of time there, will soon be heard performing a musical rendition of the poem “The Owl and the Pussycat” by nineteenth-century poet Edward Lear. Donovan’s performance will be enhanced by what is undoubtedly the most unusual collection of ornithological and feline pulchritude ever assembled in one location, as upwards of thirty separate, distinct owls and thirty individual, unique pussycats have all gathered especially for this auspicious occasion. The performance will begin and end with a special “In Memoriam” tribute to someone who apparently loved owls or pussycats or Edward Lear very much. Do not let this detract from your enjoyment of Donovan’s performance.

Without further ado, ladies and gentlemen, here, brought to you at great expense from the land where the Bong-tree grows, for your looking and listening pleasure, here is a treat for the eyes and ears, a veritable extravaganza of audial and visual delight -- ruffles and flourishes from the orchestra, please -- here is:

Donovan singing “The Owl and the Pussycat”!!!

What th'....????

Beginning immediately, anyone who leaves a comment on this blog will be required to complete a word verification step, which is supposed to help reduce comment spam. Not that I have been receiving comment spam, but you can’t be too careful in today’s world.

But something weird did happen Thursday night, not comment spam exactly, but very puzzling, to say the least. I am going to describe it to you as best I can, because I hope someone out there can explain to me what happened, or at least shed some light on some very strange goings-on in my little corner of the blogosphere.

Whenever anyone leaves a comment on rhymeswithplague, I receive an e-mail. Mrs. Rhymeswithplague opened our e-mail’s inbox and saw six new comments on various rhymeswithplague posts from readers supposedly named “superior,” “military,” “intelligence,” “superior,” “military,” and “intelligence.” When we opened the e-mails, the message in each case consisted of several lines of strange-sounding links. We didn’t click on any of them, though. We weren’t born yesterday. Day before yesterday, maybe, but definitely not yesterday.

Next, before checking rhymeswithplague itself, we deleted the six emails from our inbox and then deleted them again from our trash. At this point, I went to rhymeswithplague, expecting to find the new comments with their suspicious links.

Nothing. Nada. Zilch. Zippo. I found nothing. The comments that appeared in my e-mail’s inbox were nowhere to be found. I delete e-mail messages all the time and the comments themselves are still on rhymeswithplague. As Arte Johnson on Laugh-in used to say, “Ver-r-ry inter-r-resting!”

I have no idea where the comments went or why they didn’t appear on my blog. But I did notice two other unusual things. In the Feedjit Live Traffic Feed thingy in the sidebar, there were a couple of entries that did not show a flag. Instead, the letters “A-P” appeared in green where the little flag usually appears, followed by the words “Asia/Pacific Region arrived on rhymeswithplague.” And in the flagcounter thingy’s expanded list, an entry appeared that said, “Unknown - Asia/Pacific Region” with a little gray rectangle where the flag was supposed to be.

Have the aliens finally arrived in Honolulu? Have Islamo-fascist-extremists co-opted my blog for nefarious purposes? Is Uncle Sam conducting super-secret maneuvers and experiments somewhere in the Asia/Pacific Region? Was Publishers Clearing House trying to reach us at long last?

If anyone can shed some light on what was going on, Mrs. Rhymes- withplague and I will be forever grateful. We are totally in the dark.

Please answer soon with your various theories and explanations. While we wait for your response, Jethro is practicing his growling and Mrs. Rhymeswithplague and I are hunkered down behind drawn curtains and closed shutters, with baseball bats at the ready.

As I started to say in the title, what the dickens is going on?

Friday, February 27, 2009

The Owl and The Pussycat

Anatomy of a post, or How My Mind Works.

In the previous post, I included a photograph taken in 1945 of Coney Island, New York, in which you cannot see the beach for all the New Yorkers. In a comment, Reamus from California said, “I am not in that particular picture, but I am in a similar one no doubt at that very beach a number of 4th of July weekends later. Used to take the subway there all summer back when the world and we were young.”

I replied, “Why would you take the subway all summer long to a beach you couldn’t even see? Or maybe the beach wasn’t what you went to see.” The phrase went to see reminded me of the phrase went to sea which struck me as somewhat ironic since those folks at Coney Island couldn’t see the sea they went to sea to see and that further reminded me of Edward Lear’s poem, “The Owl and the Pussycat”:

The Owl and the Pussycat
by Edward Lear

The Owl and the Pussycat went to sea
In a beautiful pea-green boat,
They took some honey, and plenty of money,
Wrapped up in a five pound note.
The Owl looked up to the stars above,
And sang to a small guitar,
“O lovely Pussy! O Pussy, my love,
What a beautiful Pussy you are,
You are,
You are!
What a beautiful Pussy you are.”

Pussy said to the Owl “You elegant fowl,
How charmingly sweet you sing.
O let us be married, too long we have tarried;
But what shall we do for a ring?”
They sailed away, for a year and a day,
To the land where the Bong-tree grows,
And there in a wood a Piggy-wig stood
With a ring at the end of his nose,
His nose,
His nose,
With a ring at the end of his nose.

“Dear Pig, are you willing to sell for one shilling your ring?”
Said the Piggy, “I will.”
So they took it away, and were married next day
By the Turkey who lives on the hill.
They dined on mince, and slices of quince,
Which they ate with a runcible spoon.
And hand in hand, on the edge of the sand,
They danced by the light of the moon,
The moon,
The moon,
They danced by the light of the moon.

I poked around a little more on the internet and discovered that on May 12, 2000, the following paragraph appeared in the Writer’s Almanac:

It’s the birthday of painter and poet Edward Lear, born in Halloway, England (1812). He was the 20th of 21 children, and was raised by an aunt. He had to scramble to make a living: he traveled to Europe, Asia, and Africa to collect views that he would then turn into paintings to sell to Englishmen at home or abroad. Sometimes he set out a hundred paintings at a time and work on them simultaneously to have enough products to sell. He was a lonely man -- an epileptic who hid his seizures, a homosexual unable to find a mate, and a depressive, subject to what he called “the morbids.” But it’s not for his art or his sadness that he’s remembered, it’s for the little nonsense poems he wrote to give joy to the children of his friends and patrons. He always felt most comfortable around children, and he entertained them with poems such as “The Jumblies” and “The Owl and the Pussycat.” He popularized the limerick too.

That’s him up there in the picture.

And then it occurred to me that May 12 was also my Dad’s birthday -- May 12, 1906 -- and although he was neither an owl nor a pussycat, he went to sea too, though not in a beautiful pea-green boat. He served in the U.S. Navy during World War II as a machinist’s mate on the USS PCE-869, which was a patrol craft escort of the type known as Sub Chaser.

Then it occurred to me that my father died of pancreatic cancer on March 3, 1967, and that the anniversary of his death is just a few days away.

It’s enough to give a person “the morbids.”

And that, more or less, dear reader, is How My Mind Works.

Thursday, February 26, 2009

Here a blog, there a blog, everywhere a blog blog...

Good morning (or afternoon, or evening, as the case may be)!

When I look at the little map thingy over there in the sidebar and realize that over fifty countries are represented by little red dots (meaning someone in the dot has found his or her way to my doorstep), I also realize that it is morning, afternoon, and evening all at the same time on this amazing planet we live on. Not for each one of us individually, of course, but for all of us collectively.

My science teacher would be so proud.

And just as American playwright Eugene O'Neill once said, “The iceman cometh,” American blogger rhymeswithplague now says, “The blogosphere cometh.” I have no idea what that means, but it sure sounds good.

I don’t have an award to distribute today (if I did I would certainly distribute it). Instead, I want to introduce you to some of your fellow rhymeswithplague readers so that you can get to know one another, as it were, but only if you care to. As you will see, you are a varied lot, and I mean that in the best possible way.

Say hello to:

Pat - An Arkansas Stamper, who recently attended the 137th Annual Convention of the Episcopal Diocese of Arkansas as a lay delegate.

Jeannelle of Iowa (not to be confused with Eleanor of Aquitaine, the mother of Richard the Lion-hearted), who is passing her midlife by farmlight with a herd of Holstein cows.

Sam Gerhardstein of Columbus, Ohio who manages to find some really neat things about which to post, including a video of Patches the Horse that is not to be missed.

Dr. John Linna of Neenah, Wisconsin, who claims to have a little town in his basement where the trains still run, dragons fly, and life is back to normal (a contradiction in terms if I ever heard one).

Ruth Hull Chatlien of Zion, Illinois, who has written books that have been published by real publishers, and so has her husband, Michael.

Mr. Yorkshire X. Pudding, Esq., M.D., P.D.Q., N.Y.P.D., L.S.M.F.T., who lives in England and enjoys soccer or rugby or something.

Ian (a.k.a. “Silverback”) who divides his time between Sebring, Florida, and Leeds, Yorkshire, in the U.K.

Daphne, also of Leeds, Yorkshire, in the U.K., who once visited Ian (a.k.a. “Silverback”) in Sebring, Florida.

Mr. David (“Putz”) Barlow of Ephraim, Utah, who seems to be a heck of a nice guy even though he is orthographically challenged.

Mary @ Annie’s Goat Hill, who makes soap and lotions somewhere in southwestern Ohio.

Reamus (Michael in Carlsbad, California), whose writing makes me positively green with envy.

Carolina in Nederland who not only lives in Nederland but also, according to the sidebar thingy, in Apeldoorn, Gelderland.

Tracie in Florida, who has a rose bush named Rosezilla.

Vonda, who calls herself Egghead and lives on a little egg farm in Oregon.

Dr. Jim, who is not a medical doctor but a college professor of business, now retired, whose video of either St. John or St. Thomas in the Virgin Islands -- the text says one thing and the video caption says another -- drove me crazy. Also, on his other blog, Ask Dr. Jim, Dr. Jim invites readers to pose questions that he attempts to answer after the manner of Ann Landers and her twin sister, Dear Abby. Some of these are a real hoot.

A guy in Arkansas named Richie who owns a business called Richie’s but who signs himself as Richies, go figure, and who once took a beautiful picture of a sunrise in Belize, formerly British Honduras.

Daisy, whose profile says she lives pretty darn close to Toronto, Canada, with her husband, a 5 year old son, dog and cat. I would have said “, and cat” but I went to school a long time ago when teachers still emphasized the serial comma.

Yellow Swordfish, another chap in England.

Yellow Swordfish’s wife, Jay, who goes absolutely bonkers over Johnny Depp. I should warn you about many of these English bloggers that they think nothing of peppering their posts with Anglo-Saxonisms that would make American sailors blush and turn away. It is their language, of course, and they can do with it whatever they please, far be it from me to criticize, or, as they would say, criticise, them in the speaking of their own tongue, but many on this side of the pond have tender ears and delicate sensibilities about such things (we are a young country), the presence of R-rated movies on certain cable television channels notwithstanding.

Delwyn, a woman in Australia who just started blogging in January. She recently celebrated her Frangipani anniversary and loves blue-tongued skinks and, according to her profile, something called “stand-up paddling” and who is already a major force in blogdom, or ought to be.

Mrs. Rhymeswithplague sometimes reads Rose of Sharon up in Michigan and also Confessions of a Pioneer Woman out in Oklahoma, but both of those bloggers take so many photographs and write so many words every single day that it makes my head swim. If you go to their links, you may never find your way back.

These are some of the folks who visit my blog. Some other readers I would like to get to know better include Gail, Grumpy Old Ken, Lula’s Daughter, and Katherine in New Zealand.

And you. I see you lurking out there.

(Photo of Coney Island, 1945, by Arthur (Weegee) Felliq)

Monday, February 23, 2009

I couldn’t have said it better myself.

Say whaa-a-a-t???

The sign above (posted today on Sam Gerhardstein’s blog) is from, a site dedicated to displaying strange messages posted in what people in Japan seem to think is English. You may peruse the site at your leisure, if you dare. I must caution you, though. Do not drink a carbonated beverage while reading engrish or it will come out your nose and you will snort it all over your computer screen. Pat in Arkansas, this means you!

In case you cannot read the small print above, here is what the sign says:

Go into the toilet beard know

1. The service object of this toilet is limited by a person only
2. This toilet provides only into the toilet place, the dissatisfied foot goes into the toilet to have a bowel movement outside of other request
3. The one who go into toilet want to take good care of this toiletfacilities strictly forbid to move this toilet tool to did it touse
4. Go into the toilet beard to place excrement the tool is intoestablishment inside, can not spread to leak
5. The one who goes into toilet can not clamor loudly in this toilet. The in order to prevent make other go into toilet is frighten
6. Go into toilet can not the interference is other is normal into the toilet into the toilet
7. Go into toilet and can not will boil to make a food to take isedible into this toilet, the in order to prevent break good go into toilenvironment
8. Anyone can not with any form to just at earnest go into toilet carry on any bother, in order to prevent dispersion go into toilet of attention
9. Please take good care of public facilities can not in separating plank namely a wall the confusion write a disorderly painting
10. Cannot move bowels in the urine in the pond
11. Please read this beard to know hard into the toilet, and act According to carry on

You know, I couldn’t have said it better myself. I think we should all take good care of public facilities. I hate it when the confusion write a disorderly painting in separating plank namely a wall. Don't you?

Which just proves one thing. There’s only one place to go from the sublime, and that’s back to the ridiculous.

Sunday, February 22, 2009

From the ridiculous to the sublime

My previous post contained the claim that I am Jackie Kennedy. Ridiculous! This post contains one of the most beautiful pieces of music ever written. Sublime!

Here, sung by one of the best choirs ever assembled, the Mormon Tabernacle Choir, is “O Divine Redeemer”

The words and the music were both written by French composer Charles Gounod (1818-1893).

O Divine Redeemer
by Charles-François Gounod

“Ah, turn me not away, receive me though unworthy.
Ah, turn me not away, receive me though unworthy.
Hear Thou my cry, hear Thou my cry,
Behold, Lord, my distress!

Answer me from Thy throne,
Haste Thee, Lord, to mine aid!
Thy pity show in my deep anguish,
Thy pity show in my deep anguish.
Let not the sword of vengeance smite me,
Though righteous Thine anger, O Lord!
Shield me in danger, O regard me!
On Thee, Lord, alone will I call!

O divine Redeemer, O divine Redeemer!
I pray thee grant me pardon, And remember not,
Remember not my sins!
Forgive me!

O divine Redeemer! I pray Thee, grant me pardon
And remember not, remember not, O Lord, my sins!

Night gathers round my soul
Fearful, I cry to Thee,
Come to mine aid, O Lord!
Haste Thee, Lord, haste to help me!

Hear my cry, hear my cry!
Save me, Lord, in Thy mercy;
Hear my cry, hear my cry!
Come and save me, O Lord!

O divine Redeemer! O divine Redeemer!
I pray Thee, grant me pardon, and remember not,
Remember not, O Lord, my sins!

Save in the day of retribution,
From death shield Thou me, O my God!
O divine Redeemer, have mercy!
Help me, my Savior!”

I also want to show you something else I consider sublime:

Press photo © 2000-2006 NewOpenWorld Foundation

This statue is called Christ the Redeemer. It stands atop Corcovado Mountain in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. The sculptor was Paul Landowski (1875-1961). To read more about the Christ the Redeemer Statue, click here.

I am not a Mormon, but I know a great choir and a great piece of music when I hear one. Neither am I a Roman Catholic, but I know a great statue and a great location when I see one. When a great choir sings a great piece of music by a great composer, it is sublime. When a great statue is built by a great sculptor in a great location, it is sublime.

Thursday, February 19, 2009

Don’t look now, but...

I’m Jackie Kennedy.

No, really. I wandered over to “Brinkbeest in English” (Carolina in Nederland’s blog) yesterday only to learn that Carolina had taken a little online test consisting of two questions and discovered that she was Doris Day. I took it, and I’m Jackie Kennedy.

You might be Jackie or Doris or Marilyn Monroe or Audrey Hepburn or someone else. Maybe Ingrid Bergman or even Bette Davis.

The test has a long name. It’s called The Hello Quizzy Are-You-A-Jackie-Or-A-Marilyn-Or-Someone-Else Mad-Men-Era Female-Icon Quiz, but there are only two questions to be answered. Plus you have to tell whether you are male or female, and also divulge your date of birth.

Go ahead. Take the test. You know you want to.

Here is why I am Jackie Kennedy, or how I am like Jackie Kennedy, or something:

You are a Jackie. “I do everything the right way.”

Jackies are realistic, conscientious, and principled. They strive to live up to their high ideals.

How to Get Along with Me

* Take your share of the responsibility so I don’t end up with all the work.
* Acknowledge my achievements.
* I’m hard on myself. Reassure me that I’m fine the way I am.
* Tell me that you value my advice.
* Be fair and considerate, as I am.
* Apologize if you have been unthoughtful. It will help me to forgive.
* Gently encourage me to lighten up and to laugh at myself when I get uptight, but hear my worries first.

What I Like About Being a Jackie

* Being self-disciplined and able to accomplish a great deal
* Working hard to make the world a better place
* Having high standards and ethics; not compromising myself
* Being reasonable, responsible, and dedicated in everything I do
* Being able to put facts together, coming to good understandings, and figuring out wise solutions
* Being the best I can be and bringing out the best in other people

What’s Hard About Being a Jackie

* Being disappointed with myself or others when my expectations are not met
* Feeling burdened by too much responsibility
* Thinking that what I do is never good enough
* Not being appreciated for what I do for people
* Being upset because others aren’t trying as hard as I am
* Obsessing about what I did or what I should do
* Being tense, anxious, and taking things too seriously

Jackies as Children Often

* Criticize themselves in anticipation of criticism from others
* Refrain from doing things that they think might not come out perfect
* Focus on living up to the expectations of their parents and teachers
* Are very responsible; may assume the role of parent
* Hold back negative emotions (“good children aren't angry”)

Jackies as Parents

* Teach their children responsibility and strong moral values
* Are consistent and fair
* Discipline firmly

You know what? They're right.

I am Jackie Kennedy.

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

Potpourri for a rainy Wednesday

A little of this, a little of that, a mixture of unrelated subjects...

I was sitting in a waiting room at a doctor’s office the other day -- I had taken my friend who had the shoulder surgery there for his first post-op checkup -- and I picked up a magazine called FitAtlanta. In it was a fascinating article about the various benefits of goat’s milk and cow’s milk. If you think I'm going to mention any of them, you have another think coming. One of my readers, Jeannelle of Iowa (not to be confused with Eleanor of Aquitaine, the mother of Richard the Lion-hearted), lives on a dairy cattle farm. Another reader, Mary in Ohio, lives on a goat farm. Call me a wimp, but I don’t want to upset either of them!

In three weeks I am scheduled to be the pianist at another wedding. My duties this time will include accompanying a flutist who just happens to be the flute teacher of the bride. I must take some time between now and then to limber up the old fingers on the keyboard.

My time as a voluntary chauffeur continues. I will be taking my friend’s son, who has been here for a week, to the Atlanta airport tomorrow to fly back to California. Sometime this weekend I will go back to the airport again to pick up my friend’s other son, who also lives in California, who is coming here for a few days also. Son number two couldn’t make the trip earlier because he had gone to Kuwait and Iraq to operate the sound equipment for a musical group that was entertaining American troops. For me, the song of the not-so-open road has not yet ended either.

My oldest son’s family drove to Alabama this past weekend to spend some time with my daughter’s family. For several years they have seen each other only at family get-togethers during major holidays like Thanksgiving and Christmas. From what I hear, a good time was had by all, visitors and visitees alike. My daughter did spend some time in her kitchen, but the group also managed to hit a couple of Birmingham-area favorites: Jim and Nick’s in Gardendale for Southern-style barbecue and Nabeel’s in Homewood for Greek and Mediterranean food.

We saw the first jonquils of spring yesterday, scattered in profusion along the side of a country road. One year I saw forsythia bushes in bloom during the first week of January, but not this year. January around here was bitterly cold including a few days that never made it above freezing. The only snow we had this winter was a few flurries a couple of weeks ago. Midwesterners, please do not laugh.

I'm ready for spring.

Monday, February 16, 2009

One year later

Some of you may remember my posts a year ago when my oldest grandchild, Elijah, turned twelve. If you want to read them, they are here and here.

Last week Elijah turned thirteen. His Mom and Dad planned another get-together as a follow-on to last year’s occasion, but Mrs. RWP and I were not able to be there in person this year. So they asked me to write a blessing for Elijah to be read at the occasion, essentially a Christian bar mitzvah.

Since I shared with you what I wrote to Elijah on his twelfth birthday, I wanted to share with you also what I wrote to him this year:

Dear Elijah,

On your thirteenth birthday, as you enter your teen years, it probably seems to you that it has taken forever to reach this day, but to us who have been loving you and praying for you since before you even took your first breath it seems like only a moment. Nana and I have missed you and your family since you moved to Florida and we would like to be there with you more often. As you turn day by day into the Christian man we hope and pray and know you will become, Nana and I have a birthday wish for you that is more than a wish, and more than a hope. It is a prayer.

My prayer for you is not about your happiness, or pleasure, or success, or prosperity. There is nothing wrong with those things; in fact, they are good and desirable, and of course I don’t want you to have unhappiness, pain, failure, or poverty. But what I hope and pray most that you will have during your journey through life is joy. The other things I mentioned are temporary at best, but joy can carry you all the way through, through dark times, hard times, and sad times. Joy can last forever, because it is not based on some event or circumstance or thing, but on Someone, and that Someone is Jesus Christ the Lord. The prophet Nehemiah in the Bible told the truth when he said that the joy of the Lord is our strength. An old hymn that we used to sing years ago says, “There is joy in serving Jesus.” Nana and I know that you are already learning this, but old people like to state the obvious sometimes.

Elijah, life is not a piece of cake. You may have ups and downs in life, you may have highs and lows, you may have days of sunshine on mountain tops as well as dark days in the valley, and nothing we can say or do can change that very much. It is simply part of being a human and living on planet Earth. But being a Christian human on planet Earth involves something else. It involves reading God’s Word and hiding it in your heart. It involves asking God for guidance each day and listening to His Holy Spirit for direction. It involves deciding to do what Jesus whispers in your heart to do, such as loving and helping your neighbor and loving God with all your heart and soul and mind and strength, with the same sort of total intensity and dedication and giving of yourself that I saw when you played football with the Sequoyah Chiefs. But we have an enemy, and he talks to us too. He tries to deceive us into thinking that his voice is the voice of Jesus and that his way is more to be desired than the way of Jesus. Jesus called him the Father of lies and said that he had been a liar from the beginning. Elijah, the better you get to know and trust our Savior, the easier it will become to know and follow his voice, just as you know the voice of your football coach and your Dad and your Grandpa. The Bible tells you to trust in the Lord with all your heart, don’t lean on your own understanding, and He will direct your paths.

I know you already know these things. I just wanted to remind you as you turn thirteen because you will be learning so many new things in the days and years ahead, and it will be an exciting time for you as you begin to discover why God created you and the purpose He has for your life. And through your whole life, may you experience joy, more and more joy, deeper and deeper joy, the joy that comes from Jesus, the joy that is Jesus Himself living inside you, is my prayer.

Another prophet named Nahum said, “The Lord is good, a stronghold in the day of trouble, and he knows them that trust in him.” That is part of the joy too: knowing that you know the Lord and knowing that the Lord knows you. And knowing Him brings joy to you, and knowing you brings joy to Him. That is one reason He sets us in families, to let us experience just a little of the joy that is eternal.

Your Mom and Dad asked me to write a prayer of blessing for you for this day. I am so proud of you, Elijah. I am blessed that you came into our family, and I am so blessed to have you as a grandson. You are more of a blessing to Nana and me than we could ever be to you. Here is my prayer of blessing for you, and Nana joins me in this prayer:

We pray that the joy of the Lord will always be your strength;
We pray you will always have God’s peace in all phases of your life;
We pray that you will have wisdom beyond your years;
We pray that you will have a heart of compassion and love for people;

We pray that you will have boldness to speak the truth;
We pray you will not fear speaking that truth to your peers and those in authority;
We pray that the Lord will always be your defender, your deliverer, your provider, and your refuge;
We pray that His mighty arm will clear the path before you, and guard you from every attack of the enemy;

We pray that you will find God to be a very present help in time of trouble;
We pray that you will always turn to Him in the bad times, and that you will not forget Him in the good times;
We pray that a band of angels will surround you at all times to protect you and keep you from harm and the snares of the evil one;
We pray that you will have a healthy body and healthy mind and that the Lord will give you success in all of your endeavors;

We bless you in the name of the Lord.


I just want to add, for readers of this blog, and it should go without saying, that what Mrs. RWP and I have prayed for our first grandchild is also what we pray for all six of our grandchildren.

Saturday, February 14, 2009

Speaking of language...

You may have seen this one before, and if you have, you’re about to see it again. I don’t think it is actually real. I think it has to be a joke. At least, I hope it is meant to be a joke:

The European Commission has just announced an agreement whereby English will be the official language of the European Union rather than German, which was the other possibility.

As part of the negotiations, the British Government conceded that English spelling had some room for improvement and has accepted a five-year phase-in plan for what would become known as “Euro-English.”

In the first year, “s” will replace the soft “c”. Sertainly, this will make the sivil servants jump with joy.

The hard “c” will be dropped in favour of “k”. This should klear up konfusion, and keyboards kan have one less letter.

There will be growing publik enthusiasm in the sekond year when the troublesome “ph” will be replaced with “f”. This will make words like fotograf 20% shorter.

In the third year, publik akseptanse of the new spelling kan be expekted to reach the stage where more komplikated changes are possible.

Governments will enkourage the removal of double letters which have always ben a deterent to akurate speling.

Also, al wil agre that the horibl mes of the silent “e” in the languag is disgrasful and should go away.

By the fourth yer people wil be reseptiv to such steps as replasing “th” with “z” and replasing “w” with “v”.

During ze fifz yer, ze unesesary “o” kan be dropd from vords kontaining “ou” and after ziz fifz yer, ve vil hav a reil sensibl riten styl.

Zer vil be no mor trubl or difikultis and evrivun vil find it ezi tu understand ech oza. Ze drem of a united urop vil finali kum tru.

Und efter ze fifz yer, ve vil al be speking German like zey vunted in ze forst plas.

If zis mad you smil, pleas pas on to oza pepl.

A litl postskript frum RWP: Perhaps tu ze viktors du not belong ze spoils efter al.

Oh, und I vunt tu zank my dotr for sending me zis in ze forst plas.

Friday, February 13, 2009

The Greeks had a word for it.

The fear of Friday the 13th is called paraskavedekatriaphobia, a word derived from the concatenation of the Greek words Paraskeví (Παρασκευή) (meaning Friday), and dekatreís (δεκατρείς) (meaning thirteen), attached to phobía (φοβία) (meaning fear). This is a specialized form of triskaidekaphobia, a simple phobia (fear) of the number thirteen, and is also known as friggatriskaidekaphobia. The term triskaidekaphobia was derived in 1911 and first appeared in a mainstream source in 1953.

So says Wikipedia, the online encyclopedia.

So the Greeks didn’t have a word for it. They had two words for it, paraskavedekatriaphobia and friggatriskaidekaphobia.

But wait. That can’t be right. One of those words, I think, is not legitimate Greek.

Do you know which word is not really Greek, and why? Hint: It has nothing to do with the fact that the term triskadekaphobia was not derived until 1911. You’ll need to think again, a little harder.

Thursday, February 12, 2009

A penny for your thoughts...

As many of you know, today is the 200th anniversary of Abraham Lincoln’s birth. On February 12, 1809, in a log cabin in Kentucky, Tom Lincoln’s wife, the former Nancy Hanks, gave birth to a son who grew up to be the sixteenth President of the United States (or POTUS, as the news magazines say). First in war, first in peace, first in the hearts of his countrymen. Oh, wait, that was George Washington.

This month’s Reader’s Digest has an interesting article entitled "Abraham Lincoln Turns 200" that you can read here if you like.

In this post, however, we will pause to honor the lowly Lincoln penny, which is one hundred years old this year. Pause and consider. Selah.

Do you think it is made of copper? Think again.

At the time of World War II, according to my source (don't I sound like a journalist?), the one-cent coin was composed of 95 percent copper and 5 percent zinc. But these metals were denied to the Mint for the duration of the war, making it necessary for the Mint to seek a substitute material. After much deliberation, even including consideration of plastics, zinc-coated steel was chosen as the best in a limited range of suitable materials. Low-grade carbon steel formed the base of these coins, to which a zinc coating .005 inch thick was deposited on each side electrolytically (what a big word!) as a rust preventative. Between February 27, 1943, and December 31, 1943, the three Mint facilities had produced 1,093,838,670 of the stainless steel one-cent coins. The copper released for the war effort was enough to meet the combined needs of 2 cruisers, 2 destroyers, 1,243 flying fortresses, 120 field guns and 120 howitzers, or enough for 1.25 million shells for our big field guns. The stainless steel pennies were produced only in 1943.

On January 1, 1944, the Mint adopted a modified alloy, the supply being derived from expended shell casing which when melted furnished a composition similar to the original, but with a faint trace of tin.

The composition of the coin was changed again in 1962. Mint officials felt that deletion of the tin content would have no adverse effect on the wearing qualities of the coin, whereas, the manufacturing advantages to be gained with the alloy stabilized at 95 percent copper and 5 percent zinc would be of much benefit. Congressional authority for this modification is contained in an Act of Congress approved on September 5, 1962. In 1982, the coin's composition changed again to copper-plated zinc. These coins, which are still being produced today, contain 97.6 percent zinc and 2.4 percent copper. So although this coin is identical in size and appearance to the predominantly copper cent issued before 1982, its make-up in terms of zinc and copper has been reversed from 19/20ths copper and 1/20th zinc to more than 19/20ths zinc and less than 1/20 copper.

And one last interesting fact: It now costs 1.2 cents to produce each 1-cent coin.

All of which means only one thing: This could never happen today.

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

Agenda for the day

On Wednesday I plan to rise early and pick up my friend (the sound engineer from our church) who lives about a mile away and drive him to a hospital in Atlanta -- the drive can take anywhere from an hour to two hours, depending on morning rush-hour traffic -- to have surgery on his right shoulder as an outpatient, stay there until his surgery is finished and his time in the recovery area is over, and then drive him back home -- the drive can take anywhere from an hour to two hours, depending on afternoon rush-hour traffic -- where my wife will be waiting with homemade Southwestern soup, homemade cornbread, and homemade brownies.

This pretty much means blogging will be on the back burner on Wednesday.

I hereby promise not to publish any pictures of my friend’s shoulder.

Update, 6:30 p.m.: Today went well. I had intended to rise at 5:45 a.m. (something I haven’t done since I retired from the corporate world nine years ago) but instead I awoke at 3:15 a.m. and never went back to sleep. I think my feeble mind didn't trust the alarm clock to perform its designated duties and so it stayed awake just in case. The ride into the city took and hour and a half. The ride back out of the city took about an hour, mainly because we left a little before the afternoon rush hour began. My friend who had shoulder surgery said his cottage in heaven must not be ready yet because he is still here. As I drove into my neighborhood, a double rainbow filled the sky. The homemade Southwestern soup*, homemade cornbread, and homemade brownies mentioned in my original post were enjoyed by all!

Tomorrow afternoon I will drive to the Atlanta airport and pick up my friend’s oldest son, who will be arriving from San Jose, California, to visit his dad for a few days. When he goes back home, his younger brother will come for a few days as well. The ladies of the church choir will be providing my friend with evening meals for about a week.

Friday morning, I will be driving my friend back to the surgeon’s office to have the dressing and bandages changed. He has to be there at 7:30 a.m. this time so it looks like another very early morning for us all.

I’m not complaining. I actually feel useful for a change.

*The Southwestern soup is a recipe that appeared in
Southern Living magazine some time ago. The ingredients include ground beef, stewed Mexican-style tomatoes, green beans, whole kernel corn, onion, bell pepper, dark red kidney beans, pinto beans, black beans, and chili seasoning. In what amounts or proportions, I haven't the faintest idea. --RWP

Update, 2/12/2009, 1:00 p.m.: Wouldn’t you know it -- I left out two ingredients: tomato sauce and chicken broth. My daughter has kindly provided the recipe for Southwestern soup in the comments section. --RWP

Update, 2/12/2009, 1:45 p.m.: I am given to understand that one uses beef broth, not chicken broth, when making Southwestern soup. --RWP

Update, 2/12/2009, 7:00 p.m.: I am further given to understand that it was Mrs. RWP’s idea to use beef broth. The original recipe in Southern Living called for water. --RWP

Monday, February 9, 2009

What we’ve all been waiting for our whole lives.

I have been casting about in my mind for a couple of days now as to what I should post next, and just when I thought nothing at all would ever occur to me, I discovered the very thing we’ve all been waiting for. Most of us probably aren’t even aware of it.

In this time of controversial government spending bills and much-debated stimulus packages and non-tax-paying nominees heading various cabinet-level departments, I have found the very thing that can turn us around as a country, restore our image around the world, and enable us to hold our heads high once again.

Here, ladies and gentlemen, for your edification and listening pleasure, is something you have probably never experienced before, and yet, when you do experience it, you will immediately realize that it is exactly what you have been waiting for all your life.

From the sanctuary of Trinity Church on Wall Street in lower Manhattan -- that’s New York City, for the completely clueless -- here is organist Cameron Carpenter performing John Philip Sousa’s “Stars and Stripes Forever” on the pipe organ as you have never heard it or seen it before. Well, you may have heard something like it because the tune does sound pretty much the same every time you hear it. But I’m willing to bet you have never seen anything like it. For example, Cameron plays the piccolo part (usually played on the piccolo) on the organ pedals with his feet.

And there’s this added benefit, too. If you watch and listen to this video clip three times a day for the next three weeks, you will no longer care how much the government spends or how long the debates over the stimulus package last or who heads which cabinet-level department. Because all you will want will be to get that tune and those images out of your head.


Thursday, February 5, 2009

There are no simple answers.

In this post I am going to answer the puzzler question of February 4th, to wit: Why did Carolina say to Billy Ray Barnwell that her father often says “If I didn’t have ears, I would be blind” and what prompted her to reveal it?

Several people submitted answers.

Ruth said, “He’s an alien from Neptune whose neurological system is wired differently from ours. He said it often to remind his children of their Neptunian heritage because they were in danger of being assimilated into Earthling culture.” Clever, Ruth.

Reamus said, “The expression means literally, to not see something that was quite obvious (as the nose on his face). He said it often because his sense of the obvious was not as keen as yours. She said it because she missed some crucial point in the compelling novel and you kindly pointed it out to her (such as that you didn’t write it, Billy Ray did).” Thoughtful, Reamus.

Rosezilla said, “I don’t know...could it be that a WORD is worth a thousand PICTURES?” Weird, Rose, and I’m still trying to figure out exactly what your answer means.

Those answers are all wrong, and let me just say here that I feel your pain.

Understanding the right answer will require that I give you a little background first, beginning with the questions begging to be asked, which are “Who is Billy Ray Barnwell?” and “Who is Carolina?”

It is always good to begin at the beginning. Last month I created a second blog called Billy Ray Barnwell Here to contain a book I spent half a year writing called, oddly enough, Billy Ray Barnwell Here. The book itself is finished and static, but the blog is alive and kicking through its comments section. You can read both (the book and the comments) at your leisure or never. It’s your choice. You might like them, or you might decide they're not your cup of tea.

Someone who reads both blogs is “Pat - An Arkansas Stamper” and on February 1st she posted this short message on the Billy Ray Barnwell blog: “Dear Billy Ray, You and your alter ego have an award at my place” and added a little smiley face at the end. By “alter ego” I suppose she meant me. The award was cute, it had the words "I like your style" at the top and a little lion wearing a blue dress and blue flip-flops, and at the bottom there was a little Bible verse, First Corinthians 7:7, that said, “Each one has his own special gift from God, one of one kind and one of another.”

I promptly added the award to my sidebar with the words, “This award came from Pat of Remembrances of an Arkansas Stamper in February 2009.” Billy Ray Barnwell also added it to his sidebar with the words, “The Hollywood Foreign Press Association had nothing to do with the following award. It came from "Pat - An Arkansas Stamper" about whom I know very little, only that her name is Pat and she lives in Arkansas and is a stamper and likes my style. Oh, and also, thanks to a comment she left on this blog, that she was born in Yorktown Texas about 35 miles from her mama’s home town of Victoria, so she is really from Texas and not from Arkansas at all, Pat I mean, not her mama, who as far as I know never once claimed to be either a stamper or from Arkansas. (Feb 2009)”

Which demonstrates for all to see, I hope, that what the award says is true. My gift is of one kind and Billy Ray Barnwell’s is of another.

Where was I? Oh, yes. So I wrote a little thank-you post on this blog and Billy Ray Barnwell posted the following comment on his:

“Well, thank you, Pat - An Arkansas Stamper, I will retrieve the award you have kindly given me and add it quickly to the sidebar area of my blog, posthaste you might say, ha ha ha, I made a little joke, I do thank you for thinking of me, especially after reading my book and all, although I can't imagine why you think I have an altered ego, I do not now nor have I ever had an altered ego, I still have the very same one I started out with originally, but one thing it would be very nice to have at this stage in my life is an enhanced libido, if you know where I might could find one of those I would appreciate your letting me know, the posthaster the better. This dadblamed computer still thinks I am rhymeswithplague and I most certainly am not, I am me, myself, and I and the three of us are very happy to know one another, I read something the other day about Dissociative Identity Disorder (DID) which used to be called Multiple Personality Disorder (MPD) but the only people I have run across who might could fit that description are that couple who had twins and then had sextuplets, Jon and Kate Plus Eight on the TLC channel, they are really one stressed-out mommy and daddy, I would be too if I had all those kids screaming in my ear all day long, I actually have two ears, I'm not claiming to be Vincent Van Gogh.”

This is where Carolina comes in.

On February 3, Carolina, a first-time commenter, wrote to Billy, “Yes, well, uhm, I came here through Pat from Arkansas, who isn’t from Arkansas, and if you don’t mind I will join your ‘followers’ with the intention to read your book because I really like the recommendations on the cover! Can’t wait to read more!”

And Billy replied, “Carolina, welcome, welcome, and the more the merrier, I always say. Well actually I don’t always say that, I haven’t said it in a long time and if I did always say it I wouldn’t get much of anything else said at all, now would I? I see you are in the Netherlands or maybe that is The Netherlands, I for one have always admired the way Queen Wilhelmina abdicated in favor of Queen Juliana and then Queen Juliana abdicated in favor of Queen Beatrix, but Her Majesty Elizabeth II in Great Britain is still going strong at eighty-something after 56 years as monarch, do you think Prince Charles will ever get to be king? I do believe you are the first commenter I have ever asked two questions of, don’t you feel special? That makes three. Happy reading!”

The next day Carolina posted,

“Dear Sir,

In answer to your questions:
1. No
2. No (which reminds me: when he’s wearing a hat my father always says: “If I didn't have ears I would be blind,” or actually he says: “Het is maar goed dat ik oren heb, anders was ik nu blind geweest.”)
3. Yes

Thank you.”

Her answer must have caught Billy off-guard, because he replied, “Carolina, what a pleasant surprise to receive your answers to my questions, I wasn’t expecting them, your answers I mean, not my questions, because when I asked the questions I thought they were rhetorical, but this internet thing makes for two-way, if somewhat delayed, conversation, n’est-ce pas?, that last phrase is French for “isn’t it so?” and is a very useful phrase that can be added to just about any statement so it can mean “don’t you think so?” or “wouldn’t you?” or “doesn’t it?” or “aren’t they?” or just about anything you want it to. I was confused at first about your father’s statement but then I figured out after a little while that he prolly wears glasses and the earpieces go over, guess what, his ears, and without his glasses he would be blind, but I am still unsure why he says that when he’s wearing a hat, wouldn’t it also be true even when he’s not wearing a hat? You don’t have to answer that one, but I would still like to know whether it is the Netherlands or The Netherlands and where Holland comes into the picture.”

A few minutes later, Billy wrote, “Carolina, P.S., I am even more confused now, what does your father’s statement have to do with whether Prince Charles will ever be king of England?”

And Carolina answered, “Usually, if my father says something, everybody is confused. I inherited that gift. He means: his ears prevent the hat from covering his eyes. And I had this image in my head of Prince Charles wearing a crown and then I thought of his ears. That’s why they are the size they are! (Ironically my father is actually going blind, whether he’s wearing a hat or not. But that’s another story.)

“I’m not so sure if it is The Netherlands or the Netherlands and when it’s Holland. I feel so stupid now. We just say Nederland. It’s you people outside our borders that make it so difficult! Now I’m confused!”

Billy replied, “Carolina in Nederland, I guess that makes you a Nederlander, n’est-ce pas?, and saying Carolina in Nederland strikes me as being almost like saying Alice in Wonderland, I could put another n’est-ce pas? here but I won’t, I’m glad you explained the relationship between your father’s hat (a hat had not occurred to me) and his going blind and Prince Charles’s ears, I suppose that should be among and not between since we’re speaking of more than two objects, why, your father’s ears alone are two objects unless his name is Vincent Van Gogh, to name a Nederlander of another era, and you don’t need to feel stupid unless you have never heard of Vincent Van Gogh.”

Once again, Billy wrote a postscript a few minutes later. He said, “Carolina in Nederland, P.S. again, are you saying that the reason Prince Charles’s ears are the size they are is to keep his crown, if he were wearing one, from covering his eyes? I guess we in the U.S. are not the only ones with freedom of speech after all, but I would caution you not to say it when you are in England, because even if a huge portion of the English populace would prolly agree with you it is always considered rude to insult one’s hosts, at least it used to be.”

Carolina replied, “Vincent van Gogh? No, doesn't ring a bell. (Just joking.) I like Carolina in Nederland. Do you think saying that someone has big ears, when he actually has big ears, and that they might come in handy some day is an insult? I don't. It's just a practical observation. I can think of other things to say that will be insulting, but I will not put them in writing here because someone once told me that everything you write on the internet or text or say through your telephone is monitored by huge whatdoyoucallthosethings and that the FBI or CIA or MI5 or 6 will be on your doorstep soon afterwards if they think that would be the appropriate action to take. Better safe than sorry.

“What I am sorry for is taking up so much of your time, but the way you write is quite infectious, or is catching a better word? Anyway, chapter three of your writing is on tomorrow’s agenda. Like it so far!”

Billy Ray then wrote, “Carolina in Nederland, I think saying that someone has big ears, when he actually has big ears, and that they might come in handy some day is perfectly all right to say to your significant other, if you have one, in the privacy of your own home, if you have one, provided he or she is not the one with the big ears, but it is not something I would recommend you go around saying to people on the street because some of the people on the street might be friends of the person who has the big ears and take umbrage at what you are saying about their friend and you might could find yourself involved in an altercation or worse, that’s what I think, I have never been one to say provocative things though, and even though the truth will set you free it can also land you in the hospital or in jail, so a word to the wise [should be sufficient, as we say in English], and please don’t be sorry for taking up so much of my time, I love to interact with my readers, maybe I should be sorry for taking up so much of your time here in the comments when you could be reading more of the book proper, not that there is any such thing as a book improper, of mine anyway, but let me warn you if you want to improve your English writing skills I may not be the one you should be emulating, especially in the area of punctuation and sentence length, you might try old rhymeswithplague sometime, he is a bit more conversant with how to turn a phrase than I am even though I hate to admit it.”

Carolina replied, “Point taken.”

Here endeth the reading of the dialogue between Carolina in the Netherlands or The Netherlands or Nederland or Holland or wherever she is and Billy Ray Barnwell. Thanks be to God! Carolina hasn’'t been heard from since. Perhaps she never made it past Chapter 3.

I didn’t mean to bend your ear or test your patience, but some things just can’t be helped.

I have decided that Rosezilla is right. A word IS worth a thousand pictures.

But I still don’t know what Carolina’s father’s hat has to do with whether Prince Charles will ever be king of England.

Do you?

Early will I seek thee

(Photo by Richard Lawry of Mena, Arkansas. Used by permission.)

I don’t know what you use your little black book for, but I used mine to write down things too important to forget. I remember copying down the following poem and Bible verses in my small, loose-leaf, two-ring binder when I was twenty years old. That was almost 48 years ago. I don't know whatever became of the little black book, but the poem and verses are still very much with me.

The Secret
by Ralph S.Cushman

I met God in the morning
When my day was at its best,
And His Presence came like sunrise
Like a glory in my breast.

All day long the Presence lingered,
All day long He stayed with me,
And we sailed in perfect calmness
O’er a very troubled sea.

Other ships were blown and battered,
Other ships were sore distressed,
But the winds that seemed to drive them
Brought to us a peace and rest.

Then I thought of other mornings,
With a keen remorse of mind,
When I too had loosed the moorings,
With the Presence left behind.

So I think I know the secret,
Learned from many a troubled way:
You must seek Him in the morning
If you want Him through the day!

(Published in Spiritual Hilltops by Ralph S. Cushman, Copyright 1932, The Abingdon Press.)

“O God, thou art my God; early will I seek thee.” --Psalm 63:1

“With my soul have I desired thee in the night; yea, with my spirit within me will I seek thee early: for when thy judgments are in the earth, the inhabitants of the world will learn righteousness.” --Isaiah 26:9

If you don’t have a little black book, maybe you ought to get one.

Wednesday, February 4, 2009

Puzzler of the day.

Carolina from Holland, a reader of Billy Ray Barnwell’s blog (see sidebar), has revealed in a comment that her father often says:

“Het is maar goed dat ik oren heb, anders was ik nu blind geweest.”

Carolina says this means, “If I didn’t have ears, I would be blind.”

The free translator I used on the internet translates it as, “It is but well that I ears have, otherwise was I now blind person been.” So much for the reliability of free translators on the internet.

Without searching Billy Ray’s blog for Carolina’s comment, would you care to hazard a guess as to (a) why her father says that and (b) what prompted her to reveal it?

I will tell you the answer after a sufficient number of you attempt it on your own.

Be creative in your answers!

[Update, Feb. 6, 2009: I originally planned to reveal the answer in a simple, short comment in the comments section, but as trying to nail down exactly what I wanted to say became more and more difficult, I decided to place a longer answer here in the post itself. Now, however, I have changed my mind again. When in doubt, let the source speak for itself, I say. I have decided to reproduce the entire exchange between Carolina and Billy Ray Barnwell in a separate post today. --RWP]

Tuesday, February 3, 2009

Whur y’all from? / Long may they wave.

I have decided to add another gadget to my sidebar. Since I added the Feedjit Live Traffic thingy in December, this blog has had visitors from 40 countries, and I have attempted to save as many of their flags as I could. I have no idea how many total hits there have been because the Feedjit thingy seems to show only the most recent 50 or so. Like Ol’ Man River, it just keeps rollin’ along, hour after hour, day after day, 24/7/365, make that 24/7/366 during leap years. I might have missed a few flags because I myself am not on sentry duty either 24/7/365 or 24/7/366. A man has to sleep sometime.

So I am adding a Flag Counter today. I hope it works. If it doesn’t work at first, please help me figure out what I did wrong. Eventually we, together, will get it working properly -- I have faith in my readers. It would be nice if the Flag Counter worked retroactively and captured the 40 countries I saw before I installed it, but technology does not seem to have progressed that far yet.

I love findin’ out, as they say around here, whur all y’all* come from!

*In my little corner of the world, y’all can be either singular (as in you personally and perhaps other members of your family who are absent) or plural (as in everyone within earshot) but all y’all is definitely plural. Don't laugh. Some of you say you’uns and youse guys. I just know it.

A body can’t be too careful these days.

Well, thanks to Pat -- an Arkansas Stamper -- of Remembrances of an Arkansas Stamper (you remember her, the nice lady who gave me an “I Like Your Style” award a couple of days ago), I have discovered another blogger and blog that, if my first visit there was any indication, I think I’m going to like very much also. In fact, I liked it so much on my first visit that I want to make you, my readers, aware of it as well.

The blogger is Richard Lawry of Mena, Arkansas, and his blog is called An Arkie's Musings. Besides having a big general store sign that says “Welcome to Mena, Home of Lum ’n’ Abner, Queen Wilhemina State Park & Lodge 14 miles” on his masthead or bloghead or whatever that thing at the top of a blog is called, his profile left me in stitches. Here it is, in its entirety:

“This blog is for educational purposes only. If operated as directed, it will substantially achieve the functionality described in the documentation. I am not responsible for lost or stolen articles. No user serviceable parts inside. May cause irreversible damage to the brain, kidneys or liver. Void where prohibited and a few places where it is not. Some assembly required. All rights reserved with certain unexpressed exemptions. Contents may settle during shipment. Use only as directed. No other warranty expressed or implied. Not for use while operating a motor vehicle or heavy equipment. By reading this blog you agree to waive, and hereby do waive, any legal or equitable rights or remedies you have or may have against An Arkie’s Musings with respect thereto, and agree to indemnify and hold its Owners/ Operators, affiliates, and/or licensors, harmless to the fullest extent allowed by law regarding all matters related to your reading of the blog. No animals were harmed in the production of this blog.”

As I said up top, a body can’t be too careful these days.

I just know you’re going to enjoy the things Richard has to say. Check out An Arkie's Musings!

Monday, February 2, 2009

As long as they have their priorities straight....

Mrs. RWP and I were out and about today paying some bills. When we turned on the car radio to hear the news at noon, the first three stories, which one supposes the station would broadcast in descending order of importance, were:

1. Consumer spending levels are lower than at any time in the last 47 years, blah, blah, blah....

2. Georgia's own groundhog, General Beauregard Lee at Stone Mountain, didn't see his shadow today, so we can expect an early spring. However, Punxsutawney Phil in Pennsylvania (the granddaddy of groundhogs, as it were) did see his shadow, so the folks up North can expect six more weeks of winter.

3. A seven-year-old boy was killed this morning in the crosswalk in front of his elementary school. The child, a second-grader, was crossing the road in front of his school at 7:30 a.m. when he was struck by a sport utility vehicle. A crossing guard was on duty and had carried a stop sign into the street, and other vehicles had stopped. For reasons unknown, the SUV driver did not stop. The boy was pronounced dead on the way to a hospital.

I was appalled, not only by this needless tragedy but also by its apparent unimportance as a news story.

Am I being too hard on the station's news department?

Lets be very careful out there

In a copyrighted article dated January 31, 2009, the Associated Press has exposed the soft underbelly of the current state of the English language in, of all places, England.

The French have their Académie française to keep the linguistic wolves at bay and supposedly protect their precious language from all enemies, foreign and domestic, but English, alas, has no such Maginot Line to fall back on. People are free to do whatever they jolly well please to the English language. And in Birmingham, England, my friends, they have done it, reaching a new high in absurdity.

I direct your attention to the article, “Its a catastrophe for the apostrophe in Britain” by writer Meera Selver.

I hardly know what to say. We could, as Cole Porter did not write and Ella Fitzgerald did not sing, say, “Its delightful, its delicious, its delectable, its delirious, its dilemma, its de limit, its deluxe, its de-lovely!”

Or we could, as Cole Porter also did not write and Ella Fitzgerald did not sing, say, “Lets call the whole thing off.”

Or, if you think those responses are a bit extreme, we could just try to remember what Sergeant Phil Esterhaus did not tell us every week on Hill Street Blues back in the eighties: “Lets be very careful out there.”

Sunday, February 1, 2009

A new month, a new award!

Here it is February already, and along with the cold nights and the short days has come something completely unexpected: Another award!

This one came from Remembrances of An Arkansas Stamper, the very nice blog of a very nice lady who calls herself “Pat -- An Arkansas Stamper” because, well, her name is Pat and she is from Arkansas and she is a stamper. I thought at first “stamper” meant that she was a philatelist (you know, a stamp collector) but she is not. She makes her very own cards and postcards and other stamped items, and sends them to people in the military and nursing homes, I think. She is also quite handy with her camera and contributes regularly to Sky Watch and Camera Critters and Today’s Flowers.

I appreciate this recognition very much, even though I am forced to share it with Billy Ray Barnwell for reasons I have yet to fathom.

Thanks, Pat!

I will be laboring (<i>British,</i> labouring) under a handicap for the next couple of weeks (<i>British,</i> fortnight)

More about that below. First, though, I want to add an addendum (what else would you do with an addendum?) to my previous post about phone...