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.

<b> Mundane is also a word</b>

My blogger friend Rachel Phillips is currently in the midst of a series of posts (three so far) about a trip she took with her friends Liz...