Friday, July 19, 2019

I learned a new word this week



Without googling it or looking it up in an authoritative reference source, give us a guess as to what you think siniristilippu means.

I'll give you a hint. It has something to do with Finland.

Is it A, the Finnish flag?

Is it B, this Finnish favourite, a delicious split pea soup?

Or is it C, this charming Finnish folk dance (3:09)?

Go to the comments section and state your choice, along with your reason for choosing it, now. Then come back and read the rest of the post.

I have met two people from Finland in real life, and a third person whom I knew only through cyberspace.

The first was my French teacher at university, Mme. Deschner. She was from Helsinki and had studied French in Switzerland. She was a lovely woman whose accent when speaking English was quite charming. To me she sounded like Ingrid Bergman. I was sure that when I spoke French it would be with a Finnish-Swiss accent. At the end of the semester Mme. Deschner told me I sounded Parisian, quite cosmopolitan. I wonder why.

The second is a man in our church, Wayne Rasku, who moved to Georgia from Pompano Beach, Florida. Turns out we know some of the same people.

The third, my cyberspace-only friend, was Dr. John Linna, a Lutheran pastor from Neenah, Wisconsin, who died several years ago. His blog was charming (there’s that word again) because it contained not only talking dragons but also a whole village in his basement. Dr. John wove wonderful tales and I miss him.

Now to reveal the answer to our little quiz. It will be obvious when I tell you that in Finnish sini means blue, risti means cross, and lippu means flag.

Blue Cross Flag.

The answer is A.


For your information, the split pea soup is called hernekeitto and the dance is called rihmarulla.

Now we are completely Finnished, er, finished.

Friday, July 12, 2019

I'm a Yankee Doodle dandy

Not me. I'm referring to George M. Cohan, a vaudevillian from long ago who was born on the Fourth of July.

In much of the world, Yankee means American. In the American south (the former Confederacy), however, Yankee means anyone from up north.

This post is going to be an unflattering but realistic and possibly even affectionate portrait of my father.

In the small town in Texas where we moved when I was a child, my father was called Yankee by many people. Some of them didn't even know his real name. It was a nickname that stuck. He talked funny -- different from them -- because he had grown up in Wisconsin and Iowa. He didn't say "yes, ma'am" like everybody else, he said "yes, mom". That alone was enough to raise eyebrows. He said crick instead of creek and ruf instead of roof. He had lots of non-Southern phrases such as "quick, like a bunny" and "in two shakes of a lamb's tail".

The thing he said that I remember most is "Don't cry or I'll give you something to cry about."

Billy Ray Barnwell (not Sheriff Billy Ray Barnwell, a role played by actor Muse Watson in the film Morgan's Ferry, but someone I made up who rents space inside my head the way Donald Trump does with the mainstream media, and vice versa) included a long passage about my father in Chapter 2 of his book/blog Billy Ray Barnwell Here because my dad is, in a manner of speaking, his dad too. Billy Ray is known for his long, rambling paragraphs and unusual punctuation. If you have seen it before, it simply can't be helped. You're about to see it again.

Here it is:

Chapter 2

Billy Ray Barnwell here, in one of these little chapters or vignettes or whatever they are I absolutely positively must get started on a poem or essay or something really literary, boy it sure is hard being an author, there are so many possibilities to choose from that some days I can’t focus at all, maybe I could find me a pill I could take for that, but I sure wouldn’t want to become dependent on drugs like Udella Mabry’s cousin Virgil Abernathy did, that was a really sad case, but after he finished doing his time he went to school and became the town pharmacist, so all’s well that ends well, to coin a phrase. I do know this is not going to be a novel because if I were going to write me a novel the characters would already be saying things like “It don’t make me no never mind” and “If Mama ain’t happy, ain’t nobody happy,” things I would never say in real life. I wish I could think of something interesting to write about today, nothing ever happens in this one-horse town, I will just keep pouring the words onto the paper and maybe something good will come of it, I have faith in the process. Mr. Morris said the only way to become a writer is to write, I don’t know why it took me so long to actually do it, Udella said the other day just think this is how Ernest Hemingway got started and I said I like William Faulkner better, then Udella’s buddy Juanita chimed in and said she didn’t care for Faulkner and I asked her why not and she scrunched up her face for a minute like she was trying to decide why herself and finally she said “too many words” well let me tell you I was flabbergasted, it was just like that scene in that Amadeus movie where the Italian composers tell the king or duke or whatever he is that Mozart’s music has too many notes, well in my opinion we should all have too many notes like Mozart or too many words like Faulkner, even though he did tend to use words like “scrofulous” and “phylacteries” and “lugubrious” and “mendaciously,” Faulkner I mean, not Mozart, which always sent me scurrying to the dictionary, wait a minute, hold the fort, that isn’t Faulkner I’m thinking of, that’s Thomas Wolfe, talk about a man who used too many words, O by the lost and wind-grieved ghost come back again my eye, why couldn’t he just write about simple things, a stone, a leaf, a door, that’s a joke for all you literary types, I’m sure it will bring great guffaws in English departments at universities all across this wonderful land of ours, and for those of you who don’t get the joke, I don’t want to ruin your concentration by explaining it, the joke I mean, not your concentration.

I wouldn’t want to think the well is running dry or anything, but all I can think to tell you about right now are things my father used to say, such as using a condom is like wearing socks to take a shower, or when you eat beans if you also eat macaroni you will get a pipe organ effect, or the ever popular pull my finger, he was a real delight to know, I didn’t think so then and I don’t think so now, in fact I prayed many times for him to be gone and now that he is I miss him more than I like to admit, damn was his favorite adjective and hell was his favorite noun, he smoked Chesterfield cigarettes like they were going out of style and between him and Mama the ashtrays at our house were always full and the air was always blue with smoke, and in spite of all of that or maybe because of it he started teaching the men’s Sunday School class at the Methodist church, you couldn’t make this stuff up, truth is stranger than fiction, I guess I should cut him some slack, he was a good man trying to do his best, he served in the U.S. Navy during the Second World War as a machinist’s mate, whatever that is, on a ship called the PCE869, which PCE stands for Patrol Craft Escort, I know because he talked about the Navy every single day of his life and it is emblazoned in my brain along with the Great Lakes Naval Training Center and the Panama Canal Zone that has towns named Cristobal and Colón and when you say Colón it is not like the part of your body that is somewhere between your stomach and your anal sphincter, it is like the cologne that a man might want to splash on various parts of his body before going out on a big date so that if a person got close enough to smell him that person would end up smelling the cologne and not the body parts, oh by the way Cristobal Colón means Christopher Columbus in Spanish, he drove me absolutely bonkers, my father I mean, not Christopher Columbus, but he did have what every man wants and what every woman dreams about, Udella please tell Juanita she can stop laughing, I’m talking about a weekly paycheck, he was a good provider, for nearly twenty years he worked at Consolidated Vultee Aircraft which changed its name to Convair and then changed it again to General Dynamics Corporation, he was a turret lathe and milling machine operator, he helped build the wing assemblies of the B-36, B-58, and F-111 airplanes with guys named Jim Hodges and Ike Pemberton and Finn Wahl, and he rode thirty-four miles each way to work in a car pool with guys named Bill Poe and Wayne Harmon and Hubert Beard, his round dark green plastic-covered badge said he was employee number 183473, Daddy’s badge I mean, not Hubert Beard’s, not that I ever really noticed, then he got sick and died about a year and a half before he would have been eligible to retire and it’s a damn shame, pardon my French, that he died of pancreatic cancer, I wouldn’t wish that on anyone so be careful what you pray for because you just might get it, and it is way past time to end it for now, this is Billy Ray Barnwell your roving reporter signing off.

(end of Chapter 2)

Okay, so it's not Remembrance Of Things Past by Marcel Proust, but it is what it is.

Saturday, July 6, 2019


...was not only a very interesting year -- the list of shipwrecks alone is staggering -- it is also the number of posts (including this one) that I have created since this blog began in September 2007.

I wonder if I will make it to 2000 posts.

As an example of how interesting 1761 was, here is the entry for August 11th:

Two years after his marriage to Martha Custis and his move to Mount Vernon, retired British Army General George Washington advertises a reward in the Maryland Gazette for the capture of four fugitive slaves, named Cupid, Peros, Jack, and Neptune, averring that they had escaped "without the least suspicion, provocation, or difference with anybody."

Yes, friends, our beloved George Washington was a slave owner.

Live and learn.

I am now 78 years, 3 months old, going on 78 years, 4 months. If my wife and I are both alive on February 20th next, we will have been married longer than her parents were, namely 56 years, 9 months and 1 day.

Mrs. RWP, who was/is a registered nurse with years of hospital experience, says that you can tell when men are getting old when they stop talking about sex and start talking about constipation.

I talk about neither.

I must be timeless.

Wednesday, July 3, 2019

From the archives (August 12, 2009): A river runs through it

Last evening, after Mrs. RWP and I had finished eating our meal -- kielbasa, buttered noodles, and a vegetable medley of broccoli florets, baby carrots, and snow peas, as I recall -- we sat through Wheel of Fortune with Pat Sajak and Vanna White on the telly, and had just begun watching Jeopardy with Alex Trebek when all of a sudden the skies grew dark and the winds increased -- the natives around here nod knowingly at such times and say, “It’s comin’ up a cloud and it’s fixin’ to rain” -- and a tremendous amount of rain fell in a very short period of time. The wind blew every which way. It wasn’t quite Hurricane Ivan, but almost. I thought of part of an old vaudeville routine: “The lightning flashed, the thunder roared, and the rain came down in sheets.” (Those of you who know the skit are now laughing and clapping appreciatively, and those of you who don’t know the skit (a) are scratching your heads, (b) have quizzical expressions on your faces, and (c) are thinking old rhymeswithplague may finally have gone off his rocker. Fat chance.)

At the kitchen window, I could see water gushing out at a rapid rate from the downspout at the corner of the house, and also from two drainpipes that the developers of our neighborhood thoughtfully installed at the base of the hill next door. Right on schedule, our old friend the river began to form in the back yard. Let me explain.

When we bought our house six years ago our lot was at the end of Phase 1 of our subdivision and there was nothing behind us but a field of wildflowers that stretched away into the distance, rising slowly all the way to the edge of the development property some distance away. I called our place “Little House on the Prairie.” Because we live in the foothills of the southern Appalachian range, there isn’t a lot of flat land hereabouts. Our subdivision is built on several hills and the homes march down their slopes in a series of terraced lots on several streets.

When Phase 2 of the subdivision began, the developers brought in big earth-moving equipment and trucks full of new dirt and began moving it around right behind our house. I began to call our place “Little House by a Strip Mine.” Eventually the developers created a large, long, flat-topped hill behind our house and erected several houses on a new street behind us. The foundation of every house on the new street is several feet above our roofline. After the houses were built and vegetation began to cover the hillside, for a while the people on our street and the people on the new street sat on their respective patios and looked up and down at one another, but desire for privacy prevailed and tall wooden fences now surround most of the houses behind us. All in all, it turned out not to be so bad, except that I do miss seeing the lovely sloping field of wildflowers that we used to enjoy.

Anyhoo, since the street behind us is elevated, the runoff water from the storm drains has to go somewhere, and where it goes is out two drainpipes, one in our side yard and one in our back yard. When the occasional monsoon rolls through north Georgia, a river runs through our back yard, down the hill through several more back yards, and eventually into what the developers call “a retention pond” at the bottom of the hill. Every yard on our street slopes upward on one side of the house and downward on the other side of the house, giving the whole neighborhood a sort of waterfall appearance to people driving cars up and down (literally) the street. The side yards are landscaped with pine trees, cedars, cypresses, ivy, various ground covers, juniper bushes, several kinds of flowering shrubs, and, in some cases, retaining walls. Even though the houses are fairly close together, the waterfall effect of the different lot elevations provides each home with a measure of privacy.

When we receive a lot of rain in a short period of time (for example, yesterday, when the rain gauge on my patio contained almost two inches of rain in less than half an hour), the water from the side yard drainpipe turns into a moving stream that crosses my side yard, where it joins the outflow from the back yard drainpipe. Yesterday we watched the Ohio River formed by this convergence of the Monongahela and Allegheny drainpipes move across our yard, deepening as it went. Eventually a real waterfall spilled down the hill into my neighbor’s yard, and onward it went from yard to yard, until it reached the retention pond at the bottom of the hill, eight houses away.

This was no rivulet I’m talking about. In our yard, which is contoured nicely so that the water avoids the house, our river yesterday was easily six or eight feet wide and at least six inches deep, and it moved along at a pretty fast clip. In my crazier moments, I have thought about having a small footbridge built and perhaps a gazebo.

Okay, so maybe it wasn’t quite this bad:

but I swear, on scout’s honor, I could hear Andy Williams singing “Moon River” in the distance.

[Editor's note (July 3, 2019): I was looking at some old posts yesterday -- I like to scroll down through the labels in the sidebar and click on things that tickle my fancy -- and ran across this one. Ten years have passed since it was written (we have now lived in this house 16 years, not six), and things have changed a bit. No longer do the people on our street look up at the neighbors' houses on the other street or they down on us because Mother Nature, as is her wont, erected a veritable forest of pine trees on the hillside between us. There is now a modicum of privacy, even in the winter months, that we didn't enjoy before. Also, and I say this to my shame, there is a factual error in what I wrote. Yes, friends, rhymeswithplague can make mistakes. There is -- I struggle to say it -- no "side yard drainpipe" installed by the developers at all, just the one drainpipe further back. What I thought was flowing from a side yard drainpipe is actually the natural flow of water coming off the hill from the neighbors on the higher lot beside us. The effect is still the same, though. The natural Monongahela River still merges with the drainpipe's Allegheny River to form the Ohio River in our back yard every time a torrential rain occurs. One other change that also occurred is that Peggy and Rube, our neighbors on the Monongahela side, are now in their nineties and decided to move into an assisted-living facility. The house is now occupied by their grandson and his wife and a teen-aged great-grandson. It is still the Nelson house but the Nelsons are different. Time does march ever onward, and the Ohio River apparently goes on forever. --RWP]

Monday, July 1, 2019

Carpe diem

Apropos of nothing, today -- July 1st -- is the 156th anniversary of the beginning of a little something that heppened in 1863 that we now call the Battle of Gettysburg. That battle lasted three days, involved the largest number of casualties of the entire U.S. Civil War, and is often described as the war's turning point.

My cyberfriend kylie-sonja in Australia wrote a post in her blog yesterday about attending the retirement service of Amanda, a friend of hers who recently completed a 37-year career as a minister in the Salvation Army. She didn't mention the Salvation Army but I recognized the uniforms. At the end of her post, kylie included a quotation from Nancy H. Kleinbaum's novel Dead Poets Society:

“We don't read and write poetry because it's cute. We read and write poetry because we are members of the human race. And the human race is filled with passion. And medicine, law, business, engineering, these are noble pursuits and necessary to sustain life. But poetry, beauty, romance, love, these are what we stay alive for. To quote from Whitman, "O me! O life!... of the questions of these recurring; of the endless trains of the faithless... of cities filled with the foolish; what good amid these, O me, O life?" Answer. That you are here - that life exists, and identity; that the powerful play goes on and you may contribute a verse. That the powerful play goes on and you may contribute a verse. What will your verse be?”

Kylie said that Amanda's verse is love, joy & service and that she doesn't see retirement changing that.

Since the title of kylie's post was "What will your verse be?" I thought about the question a long time and left the following longer-than-usual comment:

Back when I stopped coding and testing computer programs for IBM for a living and began writing their technical manuals instead, one particularly frustrating period made me ask myself this question:

At the end of my life, how important will putting books together for IBM have been in my long list of accomplishments?

I am now 78 and I know the answer to that question.

Not very.

I have been blogging now for nearly 12 years and the answer about that particular endeavor is probably the same.

Not very.

Nowadays I am grateful to see that my children's lives and accomplishments and my grandchildren's lives and accomplishments are the verse that I have contributed. I know that the powerful play does, indeed, go on and on. And I am grateful to have been a part of it.

"The Harvest of Death": Union dead on the battlefield at Gettysburg, Pennsylvania, photographed July 5 or July 6, 1863, by Timothy H. O'Sullivan. Public domain.

Saturday, June 29, 2019

From the archives (June 17, 2008): Let's hear it for Ira Gershwin!

Of all the song lyrics Ira Gershwin (George's brother) ever wrote (and he wrote many, including such great songs as “Fascinating Rhythm,” “Someone to Watch Over Me,” “I Got Rhythm,” “Embraceable You,” “The Man I Love,” “Summertime,” and “They Can’t Take That Away from Me”), these are my all-time favorite:

Blah, Blah, Blah, Blah, Moon
by Ira Gershwin (1931)

“Blah, blah, blah, blah, moon,
Blah, blah, blah, above;
Blah, blah, blah, blah, croon,
Blah, blah, blah, blah, love.
Tra la la la, tra la la la la, merry month of May;
Tra la la la, tra la la la la, ’neath the clouds of gray.

Blah, blah, blah, your hair,
Blah, blah, blah, your eyes,
Blah, blah, blah, blah, care,
Blah, blah, blah, blah, skies.
Tra la la la, tra la la la la, cottage for two,
Blah, blah, blah, blah, blah, darling, with you!”

And what better time to bring them to your attention than during the waning days of the romantic and equally rhymeable month of moon croon tune swoon June!

Saturday, June 22, 2019

Time Marches On Department: Meryl Streep is 70

Just let that sink in. I will not comment further except to say that the first time I ever saw Ms. Streep on the silver screen was in The Deer Hunter. I looked it up just now and the year was 1978, so that would make her, let's see, divide by 4, carry the 8, all of 29 years old in that movie. I feel old. No, that is incorrect. I am old. And so, by the way, is Meryl Streep.

Moving right along, I ran across a page on Facebook called YumOola (who names these things?) that takes you, when you click on it, to a website called (I repeat, who names these things?) and a list called 50 Snacks The States Are Known For -- Have You Tried Yours?

No kidding, that was the title. Being the curious sort, I perused the list and here they (the 50 snacks) are, although some of them are not "snacks" in the typical sense of the word:

You may fire when you are ready, Gridley.

Here we go.

Alabama: Cheese Grits
Alaska: Salmon
Arizona: Mexican Food
Arkansas: Cheese Dip
California: Avocado Toast
Colorado: Rocky Mountain Oysters
Connecticut: Hot Lobster Rolls
Delaware: The Bobbie
Florida: Key Lime Pie
Georgia: Peach Cobbler
Hawaii: The Hawaiian Plate
Idaho: Potatoes
Illinois: Italian Beef Sandwiches
Indiana: Hoosier Pie
Iowa: Corn on the Cob
Kansas: Bread
Kentucky: Fried Chicken
Louisiana: Jambalaya
Maine: Lobster
Maryland: Crab
Massachusetts: Clam Chowder
Michigan: Cherries
Minnesota: Swedish Meatballs
Mississippi: Biscuits and Gravy
Missouri: Toasted Ravioli
Montana: Wheat Montana Cinnamon Rolls
Nebraska: Runzas
Nevada: Shrimp Cocktail
New Hampshire: Cider Donuts
New Jersey: Salt Water Taffy
New Mexico: Chili Peppers
New York: Cheesecake
North Carolina: BBQ Pork
North Dakota: Bison Burgers
Ohio: Buckeyes
Oklahoma: Country Fried Steak
Oregon: Marionberry Pie
Pennsylvania: Cheesesteaks
Rhode Island: Clam Cakes
South Carolina: Sweet Tea
South Dakota: Kuchen
Tennessee: Hot Chicken
Texas: Tex Mex
Utah: Jello
Vermont: Maple Syrup
Virginia: Apples
Washington: Oysters
West Virginia: Pepperoni Roll
Wisconsin: Cheese
Wyoming: Beef Jerky

I don't think the list is scientific. I think it's just supposed to be fun. But I have been wrong before.

A few observations: I have never been to North Dakota, but I have eaten bison burgers. I lived in Nebraska for three years but I have never heard of runzas. Why would Illinois have Italian Beef Sandwiches instead of Polish Sausages? Shouldn't Minnesota's snack be lutefisk, not Swedish meatballs? In a shout-out to my friend Snowbrush, I am very familiar with biscuits and gravy (Mississippi) but I have no idea what a marionberry (Oregon) is.

My two favorites (British, favourites) from the list are definitely Georgia's Peach Cobbler and Florida's Key Lime Pie. I am also an expert, if you ever need one, on Tex Mex.

Live and learn. And while you're living and learning, you need to know that key lime pie is nothing at all like lemon meringue.

Wednesday, June 19, 2019

Excitement is in the eye of the beholder

While Yorkshire Pudding and his lovely wife Shirley are spending time traipsing around on the island of Santorini in Greece, we have news of a more local nature.

We have a new baby!

Here is our new baby just after it was delivered:

Here is our new baby with its first gift, a rooster rug:

Here is our new baby open with its innards displayed for all to see:

As I am a Christian man, I will not show you our new baby's bottom.

In other news, we converted our huntboard -- you may call it a sideboard or a buffet where you live -- into a beverage (coffee/tea) bar by adding a large piece of glass that had been in our garage for years. Waste not, want not. Mrs. RWP produced the embroidered cross-stitch piece that hangs on the wall above the beverage bar. It took her many hours (months) to complete. It was a little like having a baby.

We also had another baby a few months ago, but I don't think I ever showed you pictures.

Yorkshire Pudding shows you the four corners of the earth. I show you the four corners of our Toyota Rav4.

Finally, here are two of our older babies that we have had for over half a century. This photograph was taken a week ago at Ferst Center for the Arts on the campus of Georgia Tech in Atlanta, where my sons had taken me to see the play I told you about in the previous post.

Plainly, old gifts are the best gifts.

Sunday, June 9, 2019

Mindless meanderings, or everything is still normal

Dear Wormwood,

Yesterday my two sons loaded me into the car as an early Father's Day present and the three of us drove in to Atlanta and saw an 80-minute play based on C.S. Lewis's book, The Screwtape Letters. It was called, appropriately, The Screwtape Letters.

(Note to Self: In the first sentence above, the phrase "as a Father's Day present" probably would have been better if placed elsewhere. --RWP)

A group called the Fellowship for the Performing Arts (FPA) out of New York put on the play, which had only two characters, Screwtape and his charming (I'm being sarcastic) little demonic assistant, Toadpipe. The play was very good. FPA have been to Atlanta before, having produced Lewis's The Great Divorce here as well as Martin Luther On Trial. I saw and enjoyed them all.

The play was performed at the Ferst Center for the Arts on the campus of Georgia Tech. It's too bad the place isn't called the Ferst Center for the Performing Arts because then I could have written (FPA) a second time if I ignored the word "Center".

I notice little things like that.

Anyway, a good time was had by all and we stopped for lunch at Jason's Deli in Kennesaw on the way down. I had an enormous Reuben sandwich that was called "Lighter Portion" on the menu, and a fresh fruit cup to boot. I didn't actually boot it. I ate it.

The fruit. Not the cup. Strawberries, pineapple, apples, and grapes are much tastier and more satisfying than the cup in which they are delivered.

I'm guessing. I don't know that for a fact.

It's another happy day in the Rhymeswithplague household. We may have to go out and buy a new refrigerator this afternoon.

Wish us luck.

Your uncle (Bob or Screwtape, take your pick)

Friday, June 7, 2019

Once upon a time in America (rhymeswithplague chapter)

[Editor's note. A no-longer-active blogger, David Barlow a.k.a. Putz out in Utah, would be very complimentary regarding the family research that went into the creation of this post. Putz, if you are still around, I salute you even as you, I trust, are undoubtedly somewhere saluting me. I would say "It was nothing" but that would be untrue. A great deal of time and effort went into the creation of this post. --RWP]

Solomon Aarons, whose grave in Adath Jeshurun Cemetery in Philadelphia you see above, was my great-grandfather. He was born on August 11, 1847, in Spitalfields, Middlesex, England, the fourth child of five in the family of Noah Aarons (born about 1811) and his wife Mary (born about 1815). At the time of the 1851 British census Noah and Mary Aarons lived in Whitechapel, Middlesex, England with their children Nathaniel (born about 1836), Catherine and Rachel (possibly twins, born about 1846), Solomon (my great-grandfather), and Joseph (born in 1850).

I do not know when or how or why, but at some point before the U.S. Civil War, Solomon Aarons emigrated to the United Sttes as a child or young teenager (whether with or without his family I also do not know). As a young teenager he served as either a bugler or a drummer boy -- I'm not sure which -- in one of the Philadelphia (Irish) Brigades during the war even though he was Jewish, not Irish. He was 17 when the war ended. He married Rachael DeWolf after the war, had a large family, and died in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, on December 12, 1902. He was my mother's mother's father and he died eight years before my mother was born. His widow, Rachael DeWolf Aarons, lived until 1932, two years after my mother received a teaching certificate from West Chester State Teachers College.

Solomon and Rachael Aarons had a large family, nine children in all. There were Noah (born 1867), DeWolf (born about 1870), Mary (born July 1872), Sophia (born August 1873), Nathaniel (born November 1875), Rosetta (born October 16, 1878), Joseph (born November 1881), Elizabeth (born January 1883), and Augustus (born April 1886).

Noah Aarons married Bella and they had a daughter, Rae Aarons, who was born in October 1890. I remember hearing my mother and her sister speak of their Uncle Noah, who lived to be a very old man.

DeWolf Aarons was given his mother's maiden name. I know nothing else about him.

Mary Aarons, known in the family as Aunt Mamie, married a Mr. Beck and had one son, Solomon (born about 1892). When my mother and I visited Pennsylvania in the summer of 1955, I met Sol Beck and his wife Myrtle in their sixties when they drove up to Philadelphia from Baltimore, Maryland, to visit family (my grandfather, 80 at the time, was Sol's Uncle Nat). Sol and Myrtle Beck had no children.

Sophia Aarons, known in the family as Aunt Sophie, married Julius Peiser in 1899 and they had two daughters, Esther (born about 1901) and Rae (born June 20, 1909). Esther Peiser never married, but Rae Peiser married Amos Scotese and they had a son named Robert (born about 1938). Rae was my mother's favorite first cousin as they were about the same age. I met her on that same trip. Rae died in May 1994.

Nathaniel Aarons was born in November 1875. I know nothing else about him.

Rosetta Aarons was born October 16, 1878. She married Nathan Silberman in 1897 and had four children - Marion (born January 29, 1899), Solomon (born 1903), Jacob (born January 13, 1907) who was known in the family as Jack, and Ruth Elizabeth (born April 10, 1910), who was my mother. Rosetta, my maternal grandmother, died December 8, 1937.

Joseph Aarons was born in November 1881. I know nothing else about him.

Elizabeth Aarons, known in the family as Aunt Bessie, was my mother's favorite aunt. Bessie was born in January 1883 and married Joseph Singer in 1905. Their honeymoon was a trip by ship to China, where they bought pieces of furniture for their home. I saw some of that furniture when I met Joe Singer, a widower and a Philadelphia lawyer, on that same trip to Pennsylvania in 1955.

Augustus Aarons, known in the family as Uncle Gus, was born in January 1883. I know nothing else about him either.

On that trip to Pennsylvania with my mother in 1955, I met all of my maternal cousins. We were five in all. Aunt Marion's son was Philip Caracena, six years older than me. Uncle Jack’s son was Jack, Jr., a year older than Philip. Uncle Sol's two daughters were Eileen and Joan. Joan was the oldest cousin and Eileen was the same age as Philip. I was the youngest of the group.

My cousin Philip married Virginia Burquest of Sarasota, Florida, and had three children — two boys and a girl — Chris, Kurt, and Elise. My cousin Jack married Sylvia Funghi of Hershey, Pennsylvania, and had three daughters - the twins, Lisa and Anne, and their younger sister, Linda. Both marriages ended in divorce. Philip was married at least two more times and died at 81 in Edmond, Oklahoma, a couple of years ago. Jack died a couple of decades ago in New Port Richey, Florida. My cousin Joan married Herman Rush and moved to California, where they still live, 88 and 89 respectively, in Ventura County. Their children were James and Mandie. My cousin Eileen married Bud Stone and moved, I think, to Connecticut. After 1955, I saw Philip one more time, in 1958, when he was engaged to Virginia, and I saw Jack one more time, when he came through Texas on a post-college-graduation trip around the U.S. with a friend, but I never saw Joan or Eileen ever again.

Chris Caracena lives in Atlanta. Kurt lives in Colorado Springs. Elise is divorced and lives with her son in Tampa, Florida. Lisa Silberman lives in Seattle. Anne lives in New Mexico. Linda travels a lot and most recently has spent time in New York, Spain, and England. Mandie Rush lives in California.

We are a far-flung family. I have no contact with any of my maternal relatives except for an occasional comment on Facebook from Kurt or Lisa, two of my first cousins once removed.

Good gravy, Marie (as panelist Brett Somers on the old television show Match Game used to say), I didn't tell you anything at all about my mother's father's line (Silberman) or my bio-dad's (Minor) or my non-bio dad's (Brague).

Pick one:
A. Shame on me.
B. Thank God for small favors (British, favours).

Tuesday, May 28, 2019

May is nearly history

I'm not referring to the soon-to-be former Prime Minister of the United Kingdom but to the month itself.


It is never merely May, though, It is invariably called, by the trite and unimaginative, "the merry month of May" and I cannot help noticing the alliteration. Carrying it a bit further, May's full MOON was extraordinarily stunning in a cloudless sky, and the MAGNOLIA trees hereabouts have burst into MAGNIFICENT bloom a couple of weeks earlier than their usual June explosion, accompanied by the pink cloud-puff extravaganza of MIMOSAS.

Yes, May is many things -- merriment, moonlight, magnolias, mimosas -- even at times mushrooms -- but this year for the rhymeswithplague family it has also been something else.


Even if you think every May is momentous, this one was more momentous than usual for the rhymeswithplague clan.

The ordinary momentousness of May includes our granddaughter Ansley's birthday on the 4th (her 19th), my dad's birthday on the 12th (his 117th if he were still with us but alas, he is not), Mother's Day (this year on the 12th also), our daughter Angela's wedding anniversary on the 15th (her 26th), our own anniversary on the 19th (our 56th), and our grandson Sawyer's birthday on the 24th (his 20th).

This year, however, May was bursting at the seams with several more family events that made this May more momentous than most.

(Note to self: Stop with the alliteration already.)

First, our grandson Matthew graduated from Duke University in Durham, North Carolina. Here he is standing in front of Duke Chapel.

Here he is with his parents and his sister, the 19-year-old whose smile includes the fact that she just completed her first year at the University of Georgia.

There were a few others at the ceremony also (click to enlarge):

Then our grandson Elijah graduated from LaGrange College in LaGrange, Georgia.

Here he is with his mother (our daughter-in-law), who looks young enough to be his girlfriend. His dad was unable to attend as he had the responsibility of leading a weekend retreat in the mountains..

Finally, our youngest grandson, Sam, graduated from high school over in Alabama.

Here he is with his parents, his older brother Sawyer, and Sawyer's girlfriend, Camryn, who was also in the graduating class.

Sam and Camryn will be joining Sawyer at his university in the fall. It isn't really his university, but you get what I mean.

To top off the month with one last momentous occasion, our daughter, who has been an assistant principal at a middle school for the last four years, was offered, and has accepted, a position as a full-fledged principal at a primary school in another part of the state, effective July 1st.

May has been exhausting, but I am smiling.

Thursday, May 9, 2019

The Psilocybe Pscare/Psilliness continuePs

The annual May mushroom invasion hereabouts, as we learned last year from our blogger friend Adrian Ward in Auchtermuchy, Scotland, consists of Psilocybe semilanceata in what can only be called profusion. I cannot tell if the invasion is dwindling, levelling off, or only beginning. Here are the statistics for the current follies:

Sunday, May 5th - 6
Monday, May 6th - 13
Tuesday, May 7th - 37
Wednesday, May 8th - 31
Thursday, May 9th (today) - 30

All of them, thanks be to God, have been plucked up and tossed into the garbage.

If only it were that easy with wasps and Carpenter bees.

Sunday, May 12th, would have been my non-bio Dad's birthday and it would have been his 113th. At 117 so far, this year's mushrooms are ahead.

Only your intrepid, slightly demented reporter would think to make such comparisons.

Wednesday, May 8, 2019

On interacting with the animal kingdom rhymeswithplague-style

Kylie in Australia recently acquired a second dog and has blogged about it in a post entitled "Am I Mad?". The jury is still out but I left the following comment:

Re "Am I Mad?": Probably.

In addition to our Abby, our nearly three-year-old rescue chihuahua-terrier mix, we have now also been unofficially adopted by one of the neighborhood cats, not feral exactly but not tame either. He/She is a grey tabby who sleeps on our patio doormat for hours on end, drinks water I have begun setting out, and enjoys stretching out in the shade of our patio table's umbrella. He/She also seems to want to get to know Abby better and the feeling is mutual. I haven't fed him/her yet even though either God or Satan (possibly both) continues to work on me by recalling to my mind scripture verses such as if you give a cup of cold water in His name you will not lose your reward and the one I'm resisting to date about not being forgetful to entertain strangers, for thereby some have entertained angels unaware.

To recap, I say probably for you, definitely for me.

So while I do not have 2.3 children living at my house, I do seem to have 1.5 pets at the moment. Mrs. RWP is not a cat person basically. I grew up with three male dogs (Tippy, Sandy, Frisky) and a male orange tabby that outlived them all.

Abby has proven expensive of late with vet bills since the first of the month of $59.35, $76.64, and $96.63 (all USD). I don't begrudge the money as she is a member of the household, but I am not, how you say, eager to add feline expenses to the mix as we are definitely on a fixed income.

Your comments and advice are always welcome.

Tuesday, May 7, 2019

They're baaack!

Not the poltergeists. The mushrooms.

If it's Tuesday May, this must be Belgium Mushroom Land. There are mushrooms in my back yard (British, garden).

Not faeries. Mushrooms.

Day before yesterday there were six. I plucked them up and threw them in the garbage. Yesterday there were 13. I plucked them up and threw them in the garbage. Today when I let Abby out for her morning constitutional, there were 37.

I plucked them up and threw them in the garbage.

I forgot to take their photograph, but below are some of the same type from last year:

The experts (Adrian in Scotland and Michelle in England) said they were the magic kind. I have no reason to doubt them.

Last year I feared I was being invaded by alien creatures. This year I almost look on them as friends, but I still pluck them up. I do not need my dog or my neighbor’s cat to be high.

In summary, I live such a mundane, humdrum, boring life that I now post about mushrooms.

Friday, April 19, 2019

Mid-course corrections are not just for moon shots

I didn't attend a Maundy Thursday service last night. I wanted to. I wanted to take the communion elements with other Christians. But a man was coming around six to determine how much pine straw we would need for the islands in our yard and how much it would cost and I had to wait for him. Also, the church we have been attending since I stopped playing for the Methodists does not offer a Maundy Thursday service.

I will not be attending Good Friday services today. I wanted to. But Mrs. RWP has an appointment at three to get her hair done and I am now the only driver in the house since she decided not to renew her driver's license a couple of years ago. And our church does not offer Good Friday services either.

Something my mother used to say flits across the back of my mind: "The road to hell," she would say, "is paved with good intentions."

When I was young the schools were closed on both Good Friday and Easter Monday, and I spent three hours on Good Fridays, from noon to 3 p.m., at our church in Mansfield, Texas, listening to music, meditating, hearing seven short devotional talks on the seven last words of Christ.

"Father, forgive them, for they know not what they are doing"

"Today you will be with me in paradise"

"Behold your son...behold your mother"

"My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?"

"I thirst"

"It is finished"

"Father, into your hands I commend my spirit"

Someday I hope to hear God say, “Well done, good and faithful servant; enter into the joy of the Lord.” But we also can find the words “wicked and slothful servant” in the New Testament. I don’t want to hear those.

Sloth just might be the other side of the coin called good intentions. You remember sloth. It’s one of the seven deadly sins.

In the meantime, the aforementioned road, the one that leads to you know where, goes on forever.

Thursday, April 11, 2019

"Chronic stress and uncertainty during childhood makes stress more difficult to deal with as an adult. "

Ya think?

Nothing is ever quite that simple.

The sentence in the title was written by Christian H. Cooper and is from an article that is way above my pay grade for the most part but fascinating nevertheless. Entitled "Why Poverty Is Like A Disease", it was first published on Nautilus in 2017 and was recommended by Pocket on my New Tab page when I signed onto my computer with Mozilla this morning. I have linked to it for your convenience.

I recommend it too. You may be tempted to give up but I hope you don't. I hope you make it through the whole thing. If I waded through it, so can you. Your comments, as always, are welcome.

Monday, April 8, 2019

A momentous occasion! A new record for the rhymeswithplague household!

That's right! Hear ye! Hear ye!

Hodie Christus natus est and all his friends were finally packed up and put away for another year.

Wait, I'm not telling the actual truth. It was not hodie (today), it was yesterday, April 7th. I know, I know, it's unheard of but it simply couldn't be helped, because, well, er, uh, I have no excuse.

Hello, my name is Bob and I'm a procrastinator.

One year we didn't bid the holy family adieu until March 16th, the day before St. Patrick's Day. One year it happened on George Washington's birthday (Feb. 22nd) and I blogged about it and my procrastinating tendencies here.

But this year takes the all-time cake. April 7th. Hard to believe, but true. Not only are St. Patrick's Day and even April Fools Day long gone, the March Madness that is the National Collegiate Athletic Association's annual basketball tournament ends tonight. The Sweet Sixteen, Elite Eight, and Final Four are all memories. The championship game will be played in Minneapolis tonight between somebody other than Duke and somebody other than Georgia Tech, therefore I don't really care who they are.

In other news, Starshine Twinkletoes has published a post about her camellia bush and her new chandelier, and when I happened to mention Crystal Shanda Lear, the daughter of the founder of the Learjet Corporation, she laughed in my face with a "You're pulling my leg! Hahahahaha! Nicely done, mind." It cut me to the quick, and it really hurts to go through life with a cut quick.

For those who still doubt, here's incontrovertible proof.

Thursday, March 28, 2019

Brexit comes but once a year (you wish)

...And when it comes it brings good cheer,
And when it goes it leaves us here,
And what shall we do for the rest of the year?

As I see it from my vantage point on the other side of the pond, you MAY* have Brexit but then again you MAY* not.

Keep us posted. We're on needles and pins.

*The Right Honourable THERESA MAY (you may have heard of her) with an unidentified friend:

(September 4, 2016 photo from used in accordance with CC-BY-4.0)

Thursday, March 21, 2019

Of all the poems I have ever written and other stuff

Of all the poems I have ever written (there have been more than 40), I like this one best:

..................................To Eleanor

The moon, falling softly on the sea;
The wind, moving gently through the grain;
And you, turning quietly to me –
......You three bring joy, silent joy that stills my pain.

The sea, which receives the moon’s caress;
The grain, which receives the wind’s soft touch;
And I, who receive your quietness –
......We three are blessed. No one else can know how much.

...although I like this one too:

..................................The Writer

....................With words alone, he paints
....................from the palette of his mind,
.........................hues and tints
....................until he sees the exact shade
....................he wants.

....................With words alone, she chips away
....................rough edges of meaning,
..............................the solid rock
....................until the long-sought shape

....................With words alone, she pins and drapes
....................original ideas
....................over the naked manikin page,
.........................tucking in a bit of material,
....................snipping off
....................a dangling thread
....................dropping thoughts easily as hemlines.

....................With words alone, he composes
....................irresistible music,
.........................seducing the ear,
.........................searching for a particular chord,
....................the one right sound his words must make
....................for echoes linger.

Can you guess what this is a picture of?

It's a trivet, a piece of Arabianware that I bought in February 1969 in Stockholm, Sweden, at "En Ko" (what Swedish people say when they see the letters NK), which is short for Nordiska Kompaniet, the big department store in Hamngatan. Here's a picture of the enire trivet:

Arabianware is not made in Arabia, nor is it made in Sweden. Arabianware is made in Finland. I also bought a salt box and a scoop in the same pattern as the trivet. Here they all are against our kitchen backsplash:

Changing subjects, here's the chocolate ganache cake that was presented to me at my birthday dinner on Monday evening:

It was delicious, but it was also so rich that one can eat only a sliver at a time. Here is what is still left of it today:

Speaking of today, March 21st is my grandfather's birthday. Nathan Silberman, my mother's father, was born in Philadelphia on this day in 1875 and died at the age of 95 years, nine months, in December 1970. He met my wife and all three of my children. If he were still living, he would have turned 144 today.

Happy birthday, Grandpa!


Tuesday, March 19, 2019

Brace yourself!

The old guy with the crazy hair still has it, in more ways than one. If you look closely you will see shamrocks, lots and lots of shamrocks!

You might even say that the song (in this case, St. Patrick’s Day) is ended, but the malady lingers on.

As of yesterday I have been living on planet Earth for 78 years, which only goes to prove that there’s no fool like an old fool.

Saturday, March 16, 2019

Since tomorrow is St. Patrick's Day and I usually don't post on Sunday...

...we will observe it today instead in the fashion you see. Green represents Ireland. To be accurate, green represents the Republic of Ireland and orange represents the six counties of Northern Ireland. Green was the Catholic color and orange was the Protestant color. My dad always wore orange on St. Patrick's Day to indicate that no one was going to tell him what to do.
Now that I have your attention, I want to invite you to join my crusade against the very inaccurate phrase "24/7/365" which is illogical, unacceptable, and just plain wrong, wrong, wrong.
The more accurate phrase would be 24/7/52, as in 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, 52 weeks a year. Think about it logically, building as you go. What are people who say "24/7/365" saying exactly? Twenty-four hours a day, seven days a week, 365 what? It can't mean days a something as we've already used days. If we follow the pattern set, it must be 365 weeks a something, and that something turns out to be, if you use a calculator like I did, a period of 7.01923077 years.
Actually, to use progressively larger units correctly without skipping any along the way, we should probably say 24/7/4.33/12 (that is, hours per day, days per week, weeks per month, months per year). However, since that is a bit unwieldy, we can leave out months and just say 24/7/52 (hours per day, days per week, weeks per year).
Doesn't this make so much more sense, now that you have thought about it, than 24/7/365 (hours per day, days, per week, weeks per 7.01923077 years)?
Thank you for your support. Send money if you're so inclined. I'm sure St. Patrick would approve.

Thursday, March 14, 2019

There are three kinds of writers, plus other subjects

Kind 1:
Henry Wadsworth Longfellow
John Greenleaf Whittier
Ralph Waldo Emerson
Edgar Allan Poe
James Fenimore Cooper
Arthur Conan Doyle
Percy Bysshe Shelley
Robert Louis Stevenson
Louisa May Alcott

Kind 2:
John Keats
William Shakespeare
Nathaniel Hawthorne
Emily Dickinson
Charlotte Bronte
Emily Bronte
Jane Austen
Thomas Hardy
William Manchester
Grace Metalious
Jacqueline Susann
Tom Clancy
John Grisham

Kind 3:
T. S. Eliot
G. K. Chesterton
H. L. Mencken
P. G. Wodehouse
P. L. Travers
W. H. Auden
D. H. Lawrence
S. I. Hayakawa

You do see the differences, don’t you? No? It's simple, really. Some writers use three names, some use two names, and some use only their initials.

Similarly, there are also different kinds of inventors (Thomas Alva Edison, Alexander Graham Bell, Henry Ford)...

British prime ministers (Benjamin Disraeli, Winston Churchill, Tony Blair, Alexander Douglas-Home, David Lloyd George)...

American presidents (George Washington, Abraham Lincoln, Theodore Roosevelt, John Quincy Adams, Franklin Delano Roosevelt, William Henry Harrison, John Fitzgerald Kennedy)...

and Supreme Court justices (John Jay, John Marshall, Earl Warren, Oliver Wendell Holmes, Sandra Day O'Connor, Ruth Bader Ginsburg, Hugo Black, John Roberts).

Anomalies exist, exceptions that do nothing to prove any rule whatsoever, like F. Murray Abraham (an actor), k.d. lang (a singer), Samuel F. B. Morse (an inventor), e. e. cummings (a poet), Ulysses S. Grant (a president), Harry S. Truman (a president), H.V. Kaltenborn (old-time radio commentator), Cher (an unexplainable phenomenon), Madonna (another unexplainable phenomenon)....


In other news, Blogger tells me that this is my 1,742nd post, which reminds me that the first public performance of Handel's Messiah occurred in Dublin, Ireland, on April 13, 1742.

When you think about it, a composer is just another type of writer. In addition, however, a composer is an expert in the field of symbolic representation, being able to produce on paper odd-looking symbols that allow people who are trained to read them to use musical instruments to project into the air the sounds that were originally inside the composer's head. I wrote that last sentence unassisted.

I was told about 60 years ago that musicians and linguists (users of natural languages spoken by humans) and computer programmers (users of artificial languages understood by machines) and stenographers (users of shorthand) and telegraph operators (users of the dot-and-dash system invented by Samuel F.B. Morse) and even wavers of semaphore flags (users of semaphore flags) share the very same aptitude -- namely, the ability to take a set of symbols and convert them into another form.

Just think how long it might have taken Handel to write his Messiah oratorio if he had had to use semaphore flags.

...and it would have been even longer if he had been aboard a boat:

Maybe musical notation is not so bad after all.

Tuesday, March 12, 2019

Titles R Not Us, But If Titles Were Us, The Title Of This Post Might Be...

Bubbles Burst While U Wait.

In an article written in 2014, a man named Richard Hershberger answered one of the burning questions of our time, a question that I just know is on everyone's mind.

That question, friends, is "Who invented baseball?"

What's that? You say you don't know and you don't care?

I forge ahead undaunted, nevertheless. A snippet of Tennyson comes to mind: "Ours not to reason why / Ours not to make reply / Ours but to do and die / Into the valley of death rode the six hundred". The very astute among you will note that it is a butchered snippet, the original having said "Theirs" and not "Ours". Note also that Tennyson wrote "do and die" and not "do or die". As the King said to the jury at Alice's trial, that's very important.

Moving right along, I thought I was pretty good at doing research, including lots of detail, and getting to the bottom of things, but Mr. Hershberger's tenacity puts me in the shade, leaves me in the dust, and other strange expressions.

Let me just say that if you think Abner Doubleday invented baseball, think again. If you think Alexander Cartwright invented baseball, think again.

Better yet, read this from beginning to end and don't stop until you reach the end.

Opening day for Major League Baseball's 2019 season is only two weeks away and we should all be on the same page.

In other news, Babe Ruth's last surviving daughter, Julia Ruth Stevens, died this week in Henderson, Nevada, at the age of 102.

Saturday, March 9, 2019

In another life I may have been a cartographer

[Editor's note: I want to apologize for the unfortunate placement of some of the maps in this post. Perhaps the fact that they are .png files instead of .jpg files had something to do with it. When I tried to manipulate their size and placement the results were simply unacceptable. Just ignore the overlay effect if you can. It is more difficult to ignore the fact that photos in my sidebar obliterate portions of the maps altogether. I am truly sorry. --RWP]

I love maps.

For example, here's one that blogger Graham Edwards included in a post a few days ago. It shows response times in minutes for ambulance calls in England, Scotland, and Wales.

The map is fascinating and, one would presume, accurate. Woe to you, however, if you need an ambulance in the far north of England, most of Scotland, or certain parts of Wales.

Speaking of Graham Edwards, both he and blogger Yorkshire Pudding answered questions in a quiz at the website of The New York Times last week that claimed to be able to produce a map pinpointing one's origins based on word choices one selected in the quiz. Again, the results were fascinating. I decided to have a go at the American version. I hope you will agree that the results are fascinating.

The British Isles version included 96 questions to answer in order to pinpoint the origins of one's speech patterns. The U.S. version has only 25 questions. This seems somewhat backwards in my estimation. Considering that England is about the same size as Alabama, one would think that more questions would be required when covering a much larger amount of territory. Apparently I am wrong.

I took the test twice and Mrs. RWP took it once. The first time I took it I included multiple answers on questions that allowed multiple answers.

Another apology is in order. Since the maps were .png files, I was not able to include the overprint of cities that also were shown. I will name them for you instead.

Here is the map produced from my first (multiple answers) effort:

City names shown on that map were Providence (Rhode Island) and Birmingham (Alabama). Bingo! and also Not Bingo! as I spent the first six years of my life in Pawtucket, Rhode Island, right next-door to Providence. But I also spent 14 years in Texas (no mention), two years in Florida (no mention), three years in Nebraska (no mention), three years in New York (apparently the exception that proves the rule, though I was not in the part of New York most heavily shaded), six more years in Florida, and the last 44 years in Atlanta, Georgia. It is true that our daughter has lived in Birmingham, Alabama, for the past 26 years and we do visit her occasionally, but I have never lived there. So the map is exceedingly accurate in part and exceedingly inaccurate in many ways as well (for example, why California and Nevada showed up is anybody's guess). I do find it interesting that my mother's influence (she was from Philadelphia) is absent but my non-bio Dad's is present (he spent his entire youth and young adulthood in Wisconsin and Iowa).

I took the quiz a second time giving only a single answer to each question, including questions that allowed for multiple answers. The results were quite different:

This time the city shown was Atlanta (Georgia) but no indication at all of Providence or Birmingham. My mother's Philadelphia influence can be seen but my Dad's Wisonsin/Iowa influence cannot.

Finally, Mrs. RWP took the test. She was born in Philadelphia and moved to the Raleigh (North Carolina) area when she was 12. No mention was made of either of those places. Her results pinpointed Birmingham (Alabama) and Jackson (Mississippi). This may be fascinating but it is also just plain wrong.

My conclusion is that the test is fun, but it still needs a lot of work.

I'm sorry to have subjected you to all this. You probably don't find it nearly as fascinating as I do.

Now go out there and take the American version or the British version of the quiz yourself!

Thursday, March 7, 2019

A work in progress...

It's a slow week, blogwise.

The above work in progress is a knitted blanket that Mrs. RWP has been working on for our sixth and youngest grandchild who turned 18 last Saturday and will be going away to college in the fall. The blanket is not quite halfway done at this point.

I have shown you two photographs to get your opinion on the lighting. The pieces are stretched out on our dining room table. In the first photograph the lights in the room are on. In the second photograph, the lights in the room are off.

In summary, one is in artificial light and one is in natural light.

Would you please be so kind as to tell me which photo you prefer, and why?

In no way do I claim to be a photographer. I am just curious.

Saying that made me think of the uproar caused by the two pornographic films I Am Curious (Yellow) and I Am Curious (Blue) back in the sixties, so named because the film-maker was Swedish and those are Sweden's national colors. If he had been American, I suppose he would have made three pornographic films, I Am Curious (Red), I Am Curious (White), and (I Am Curious (Blue). Note my continued use of the Oxford comma in spite of its declining popularity.

I never saw those films, I just remember the uproar.

Don't forget to tell me which lighting you prefer on the photographs.

Monday, March 4, 2019

Reason #17,643 Why The World Does Not Need Facebook

There is now incontrovertible proof from Facebook today that we have not just gone to the dogs, we have gone over the edge:

19 Must Have Items For Dog Owners In 2019

For those of you who never click on links, here are the 19 items, but you're missing all of the accompanying text and pretty pictures:

1. Brush FX - The Most Effective Way To Brush Your Dogs Teeth
2. Pet Hair Gloves - Manage The Shedding Before It's All Over Your House and Clothes
3. Car Seat Cover - Protect Your Car From Dog Hair, Dirt and Damage
4. Tactical Dog Harness - Control Your Dog While Giving Him a Sense of Purpose
5. Bungee Dog Leash - Keep Your Dog From Pulling You Over
6. Pet Hair Removal Brush - The Easiest Way To Clean Pet Hair From Your Life
7. Paw FX Dog Foot Washer - The Fastest Way To Get Those Paws Clean
8. Natural Pet FX Dog Spa - Ease The Stress of Bathtime
9. 3 in 1 Anti Barking Dog Training Device<
10. Electric Pet Grooming Nail Grinder - Trimming Your Dogs Nails Has Never Been So Simple
11. Indoor Dog Gate - Perfect For Keeping Pets Where You Want
12. Dispense FX - Interactive Dog Treat Dispensing Toy
13. Portable Pet Dog Water Bottle Dispenser - Never Forget Your Dogs Water Dish
14. No-Pull Front Attachment Safety Dog Harness, Neoprene Padded Lining
15. Durable Adjustable Pet Car Safety Seat Belt Leash For Dogs
16. Coast FX Flashing Glow In The Dark Dog Collar
17. Coast FX Waterproof Dog Jacket
18. High Visibility LED Nylon Walking Retractable Dog Leash
19. Pet Dog Bath Training Lick Pad - Keep Your Dog Entertained While Taking A Bath

My blogger friend Emma Springfield in northwest Iowa (she's so far northwest in Iowa she can see South Dakota) is currently entertaining us with a series of posts about the dogs her family has had over the years. So far we have learned about Redneck, Sheba, Attila, Shaggy, Joe, and Bluto, and I wouldn't be surprised if there are a few more in the pipeline.

I would almost bet dollars to doughnuts that Emma does not have many (or even any) of the 19 Must Have Items For Dog Owners In 2019.

I'm just saying.

I thought our Abby was pampered, but it's oddly comforting to discover that she is downright deprived.

Thursday, February 28, 2019

The perplexedness/bemusement/fascination/dumbfounderment continues unabated

After telling me in a comment on the last post that her mother's and her mother's siblings' names were Romaine, Morton, Harlan, John, Gloria, Douglas, Geraldine and Allegra, reader Pam D. (who blogs as hilltophomesteader) wondered if actor Mahershala Ali's parents got his name from the bible.

The short answer is yes, but let's make a whole post out of Pam's inquiry.

First, it is interesting to me that the names of Pam's relatives are Romaine (as in lettuce), Morton (as in salt), Harlan (as in Kentucky Fried Chicken's Colonel Sanders), John (as in Fitzgerald Kennedy), Gloria (as in Swanson), Douglas (as in Fairbanks), and so forth.

Mnemonic Devices R Us.

Second, in this great poker game called life, I'll see Pam's mother's and mother's siblings' names and raise them a notch or two with the names of my stepmother and her siblings: Cleo, Mildred Louise, John D. (as in Rockefeller), Willie Margaret, Russell Sterling, Marvin Edward, Billy, Marian Faye, Fred, and Bonnie Sue.

Third, and back to the main topic, actor Mahershala Ali's name is not actually Mahershala, it's Mahershalalhashbaz. It says so right in the wikipedia article about him: “Ali was born Mahershalalhashbaz Gilmore in 1974, in Oakland, California, the son of Willicia and Phillip Gilmore. He was named after Maher-shalal-hash-baz, a biblical prophetic-name child, and raised a Christian by his mother, an ordained minister. During his college basketball career, he went under the first name of Hershal. In 2000, he converted to Islam, changing his surname from Gilmore to Ali.”

So far, so good.

I'm wondering, though, why, in its shortened form, he dropped the "l" that was part of the "shalal" just before the "hashbaz". Odd. It's rather like if your spouse's name was Barbara and instead of shortening it to Barb like everyone else would, you shortened it to Bar. Oh, wait, President George H.W. Bush actually did that.

What's a consonant or two between friends? No big deal.

Maher-shalal-hash-baz, a transliteration into our alphabet of the Hebrew words מַהֵר שָׁלָל חָשׁ בַּז (remember to read from right to left), means "Hurry to the spoils!" or "He has made haste to the plunder!" and is the second mentioned prophetic-name child in the biblical book of Isaiah:

"Moreover the Lord said unto me, Take thee a great roll, and write in it with a man's pen concerning Maher-shalal-hash-baz. And I took unto me faithful witnesses to record, Uriah the priest, and Zechariah the son of Jeberechiah. And I went unto the prophetess; and she conceived, and bare a son. Then said the Lord to me, Call his name Maher-shalal-hash-baz. For before the child shall have knowledge to cry, My father, and my mother, the riches of Damascus and the spoil of Samaria shall be taken away before the king of Assyria. " (Isaiah 8:1-4)

The name Maher-shalal-hash-baz, then, is a reference to the impending plunder of Samaria and Damascus by the king of Assyria, Tiglath-Pileser III (734–732 BCE).

The prophet Isaiah's first son, Shearjashub, is mentioned in Isaiah 7:3. Jewish and Christian commentators traditionally note that this first son's name is also prophetic – meaning "the remnant shall return" – but no account of why, when or how this son was named is given in the Book of Isaiah.

Maher-shalal-hash-baz is often counted the longest name (and word) used in the Bible, though a possible longer name-phrase, "Pele-joez-el-gibbor-abi-ad-sar-shalom", is found in Isaiah 9:6 :

"For unto us a child is born, unto us a son is given: and the government shall be upon his shoulder: and his name shall be called Wonderful, Counsellor, The mighty God, The everlasting Father, The Prince of Peace." (Isaiah 9:6), which in Hebrew (again, a transliteration) is Pele-joez-el-gibbor-abi-ad-sar-shalom.

I couldn't begin to tell you why, but all of the foregoing vaguely reminds me of a hilarious old Monty Python bit in which Eric Idle as an English vicar expounds on a verse from Genesis, "My brother Esau is a hairy man, but I am a smooth man." -- at least I think it was Eric Idle. It might have been John Cleese.

I guess that's enough perplexedness/bemusement/fascination/dumbfounderment for one post (with thanks to reader Graham Edwards who supplied the adjectival form of the phrase; I merely converted the adjectives into nouns).

Until next time, keep your powder dry, or as they said in World War II, praise the Lord and pass the ammunition.

A final plea to parents everywhere: Please do not name your child Tiglath-Pileser as he (or she) will be scarred for life.

Monday, February 25, 2019

Unicorn, Behemoth, and Leviathan

...are not the names of the Andrews Sisters. They were Patty, Maxene, and LaVerne. If you want to go down that particular rabbit trail, the McGuire Sisters were Chris, Dottie, and Phyllis; the Gabor Sisters were Magda, Zsa Zsa, and Eva; and the tennis-playing Williams Sisters are Serena and Venus.

Joan Fontaine and Olivia de Havilland were also sisters, but they didn't get along very well. The original Ann Landers and the original Dear Abby, advice columnists at rival newspapers, were also sisters named Esther and Pauline. They called each other "Eppie" and "Po-Po".

Enough, already.

Back to the topic at hand, I awoke today with those three words in the title on my mind. I have no idea why. They are all terms found in the King James Version of the Bible, the translation of which from Greek and Hebrew manuscripts was accomplished in the year 1611. English has changed a bit since then.

In various modern translations (I could tell you which ones specifically, but I assume you don't really care), unicorn has become wild ox, wild goat, buffalo, and rhinoceros; behemoth has become hippopotamus, and leviathan has become (take your pick) sea monster or crocodile. On a personal note, I had always assumed leviathan was a whale, but no one who is anyone important agrees with me.

Moving right along, my mother used to say when faced with skepticism, "Vas you dere, Charlie?" which I have learned can be traced to a vaudeville comedian and early radio performer named Jack Pearl, who used it with his Baron Munchausen character, whom he introduced in The Ziegfeld Follies Of The Air radio program in 1932. The rest is history

Actually, everthing is history, unless it is mathematics. You and I will be history someday too. I doubt very much that we will be mathematics.

Speaking of history, here are the names of the winners of the top five categories (best director, best actor, best actress, best supporting actor, best supporting actress, not necessarily in that order) at last night's 91st Academy Awards presentations in Los Angeles, which I didn't watch:

Alfonso Cuaron
Olivia Colman
Rami Malek
Regina King
Mahershala Ali

I never heard of any of them. In my mind, they are already history.

While the rest of you pursue world peace and personal happiness and cheaper prices for food, clothing, and gasoline/petrol, I content myself with getting to the bottom of truly useless information.

As ever, I remain (I hope),