Saturday, September 28, 2019

A short post is still a post

Here's my find of the day and perhaps of the month.

The three hardest things to say:
1. I’m sorry
2. I need help
3. Worcestershire Sauce

P.S. -- Happy 12th blogging anniversary to me.

P.P.S. -- My next post will be revolutionary.

Thursday, September 26, 2019

Let's clear the air (spoiler: this post is about impeachment)

...and let's begin by saying, "No, Virginia, there is probably not a Hyman F. Suddfluffel, PhD."

If you're scratching your head and muttering "Huh?" under your breath, read on.

The following appeared on my Facebook page today. I had not encountered it before.

By: Hyram F. Suddfluffel, PhD, (Political Science)

I have a degree in Political Science, and I am a card-carrying Libertarian. I've been studying politics and political history for the past 30 years. My specialty is U.S. Presidents. That said, I hope that the House of Representatives impeaches Trump. Let me tell you what will happen next!

1. The House can pass articles of impeachment over the objections of the Republicans, and refer to the Senate for trial.

2. The Senate will conduct a trial. There will be a vote, and the Republicans will vote unanimously, along with a small number of Democrats, to not convict the President. Legally, it will all be over at that point.

3. However, during the trial, and this is what no one is thinking about right now, the President's attorneys will have the right to subpoena and question ANYONE THEY WANT.. That is different than the special counsel investigation, which was very one-sided. So, during the impeachment trial, we will be hearing testimony from James Comey, Peter Strzok, Lisa Page, Bruce Ohr, Glenn Simpson, Donna Brazile, Eric Holder, Loretta Lynch, Christopher Steele, Hillary Clinton, John Brennan, James Clapper, and a whole host of other participants in this whole sordid affair and the ensuing cover up activities. A lot of dirt will be dug up; a lot of truth will be unveiled. Finger pointing will occur. Deals will start being made, and suddenly, a lot of democrats will start being charged and going to prison. All this, because, remember, the President's team will now, for the first time, have the RIGHT to question all of these people under oath – and they will turn on each other. That is already starting.

4. Lastly, one more thing will happen, the Senate will not convict the President. Nothing will happen to Trump. Most Americans are clueless about political processes, the law, and the Constitution. Most Americans believe that being impeached results in removal from office. They don't understand that phase 2 is a trial in and by the Senate, where he has zero chance of conviction. Remember, the Senate is controlled by Republicans; they will determine what testimony is allowed -- and **everything** will be allowed, including: DNC collusion with the Clinton campaign to fix the election in favor of Hillary, the creation of the Trump dossier, the cover up and destruction of emails that very likely included incriminating information. They will incriminate each other for lying to the FISA court, for spying and wiretapping the Trump campaign, and for colluding with foreign political actors, especially George Soros. After the Senate declines to convict the President, we will have an election, and Trump will win. It will be a backlash against democrat petulance, temper tantrums, hypocrisy and dishonesty. Even minorities will vote for Trump, because, for the first time, they will see that democrats have spent 2+ years focused on maintaining their own power, and not doing anything at all about black murders in Chicago, homelessness, opioids, and other important issues that are actually killing people. And, we will spend the following four years listening to politicians and pundits claim that the whole impeachment was rigged.

So let's move on to impeachment.

Hyram F. Suddfluffel, PhD

I immediately did a DuckDuckGo search (I no longer use Google) on the name Hyram F. Suddfluffel, as it sounded made up, like Jubilation T. Cornpone.

Lots of hits came up, the most interesting of which is a long article at called "Hyram F. Suddfluffel: The Origin & What’s True about the Viral Impeachment Post". I recommend that you read it before continuing.

There are several most important things to remember.

The most important thing to remember is that it is not important whether Hyman F. Suddfluffel exists. Come on, people. Noms de plume have been all the rage in writing circles for a very long time. I mean, Mark Twain was not his real name, you know. George Eliot (remember Silas Marner?) was really Mary Anne Evans. George Orwell was really Eric Arthur Blair. I could go on, but you get my point.

The most important thing to remember is whether the information in what calls "the Viral Impeachment Post" is true.

Some of it is, and some of it isn't.

The most important thing to remember is that impeachment in the House of Representatives does not mean removal from office. A conviction in the Senate would mean that.

The most important thing to remember is that removal from office would not mean that Hillary Clinton becomes president. Vice-president Mike Pence would become president.

And the last most important thing to remember is this:

Take a deep breath and keep breathing.

But perhaps the most important most important thing to remember: Switch from Google to DuckDuckGo.

Monday, September 23, 2019

As the world turns, these are the days of our lives

...but we are definitely not the young and the restless. This week, a few days before the autumnal equinox, our firstborn turned 55.

We are old.

But you knew that.

A couple of days later one of our smoke alarms started chirping. I hauled our five-foot ladder out of its comfy place in the garage and brought it into the front hallway. I knew the smoke alarm needed a new 9-volt battery and I thought I had one in the kitchen drawer where we keep miscellaneous things. Rummaging through the drawer, I found a cheese grater, clear plastic salad tongs (the tongs are clear plastic, not the salads), wooden skewers for cooking, two screwdrivers, a hammer, a yellow plastic funnel, a package of Disposable Latex Gloves, and (voila!) some batteries -- AA batteries, AAA batteries, C batteries, D batteries, and finally a 9-volt battery. I returned to the front hall with my prize.

After ascending the ladder -- Mrs. RWP was afraid I would fall off -- and removing the contraption from its ceiling bracket, I realized that I had no idea what to do next. It was still attached by wires to the ceiling and I didn't know how to disengage the wires. I also couldn't see from my angle how to open the contraption and replace the battery. I decided to call my second child who lives about 20 minutes away.

He said he would come over and take care of it, and he did. I tried to watch closely enough to be able to do it myself in the future. He had bought a 9-volt battery on the way over, which was a good thing because the one I had found in the miscellaneous drawer was a tad out of date.

More than a tad, actually.

I am not, repeat, not a hoarder. If I were a hoarder, we would have drawers and drawers full of miscellaneous stuff instead of just one, and the rooms would be impassable for all the clutter, and the sink would be piled high with dirty dishes. I have watched television. I know.

So life goes on and the world keeps turning.

Thanks be to God.

In five more days this blog will be 12 years old. Next year we might have a bar mitzvah.

Monday, September 16, 2019

A musical foray (see what I did there?)

One of my all-time favorite pieces of music is the hauntingly beautiful Sicilenne Op.78 by the French composer Gabriel Fauré (1845-1924).

In the-online-reference-source-that-must-not-be-named I learned that there have been many different arrangements of the piece for various instruments. Specifically, "[T]he cello and piano and full orchestral versions of the Sicilienne have been recorded many times. There are also recordings of arrangements, not by Fauré, for bassoon and piano; cello and guitar; cello and harp; flute and guitar; flute and harp; flute and piano; guitar and orchestra; solo guitar; solo harp; oboe and piano; panpipes and piano; saxophone and orchestra; saxophone quartet; tuba and piano; viola and piano; vocal ensemble; and voice and harp."

Also, oddly, "[T]he cello and piano version is in G minor in 6/8 time. It is marked andantino with a metronome mark of dotted crotchet = 50. The full orchestral version, also G minor, is marked allegretto molto moderato. The playing time of the piece is typically between three and a half and four minutes."

For the musical novice, andantino means kind of slow, but not too slow, and allegretto means kind of fast, but not too fast.

All righty, then. Let us coninue.

I would like for you to listen to just three of the various arrangements and tell me your reactions afterward.

1. Here is a beautiful arrangement of it for orchestra and flute featuring James Galway on flute (3:59).

2. Here is an arrangement of it for flute and harp. Although it is beautiful to listen to, it was difficult for me to watch because of what can only be described as the helicopter movements of the flute player. From 2013, here are Olga Zmanovskaya on flute and Elizaveta Bushueva on harp (3:43).

3. I find this one most moving, but then I like the instruments involved. It is for cello and piano (3:54).

I bet you thought we were through.

I lied.

4. For blog readers who are more visual than aural, here is a fourth clip I want you to watch. It is like looking at a piano roll on an old-time player piano (4:18). I hope you like it.

Now we're done.

At least I didn't subject you to the tuba.

Be sure to give me your opinions in the comments.

Monday, September 9, 2019

What's wrong with this picture?

"Nothing," you may be tempted to say.

You would be wrong.

On Saturday afternoon, as we (Mrs. RWP and I) were sitting in our house watching television, we heard an odd sound.

"What was that?" said Mrs. RWP.

"Oh, I bet the wind has picked up the patio umbrella again," I answered. We occasionally find it in our back yard after a particularly stiff breeze has blown through. The problem, I think, is with its base, which is filled with sand and into which one is supposed to stick the umbrella. Ours is cantankerous and often spits the umbrella out with the help of the wind.

I got up to look and, sure enough, the umbrella was missing.

First I looked to the right.

Then I looked to the left.

Then I looked even further to the left.

No umbrella in sight. Where could it have gone? It must have blown around the corner of the house, farther away than it has ever blown before. I decided to go find it and bring it back after a good talking-to.

I took a few steps off the patio and this is what I saw:

I was shocked. How did it get up there? I viewed it from another angle:

I am 78 years old. I don't do roofs any more. Even if I did, the longest ladder I have is only eight feet long. Besides, if I tried, I would never hear the end of it from Mrs. RWP.

What to do? Mrs. RWP wanted to call our son or grandson to come from 12 miles away and get it down.

I rejected this idea as being too time-consuming.

In just a couple of minutes, while we were wondering how to proceed, another gust of wind returned the intrepid explorer to the ground. I retrieved it and put it back where it belongs but forgot to take a final photograph. Here's one from a while back:

I have decided to give our patio umbrella a name since it has proved itself to be almost human. I can't decide between Griselda and Magellan. I am unsure of its gender, so Francis/Frances Drake is a possibility.

I'm just glad the pole didn't go through one of our windows.

While the view from the roof of the Rhymeswithplagues of Canton, Georgia, USA is unimpressive, nothing to write home about, the view from the roof where the Yorkshire Puddings of Sheffield, England, UK are currently vacationing in Orebic, Croatia looks like this.

Today I thought I heard Griselda/Magellan quoting the Chinese philosopher Lao-tzu (604 BCE - 531 BCE) to one of the patio chairs, and what he or she said was, "A journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step."

Watch out, Croatia. Keep your eyes peeled for an unexpected visitor.

Wednesday, September 4, 2019

When dangling, watch your participles

I, the great Rhymeswithplague, Lord Protector Of My Little Corner Of The World And Master (Usually) Of All I Survey, have a confession to make.

While reading through the previous post this morning, I discovered that I had created and actually published a sentence containing a dangling participle.

Lo, how the mighty have fallen.

The offending sentence was this:

"After sailing through the Panama Canal a couple of times on his way to places like Oregon and southern California and Florida and the icy waters off the coast of Greenland, his last duty assignment in the Navy happened to be Quonset Point, Rhode Island."

That is simply impossible. My dad's last duty assignment in the Navy, Quonset Point, Rhode Island, never sailed through the Panama Canal even once, let alone visit Oregon, southern California, Florida, or the icy waters off the coast of Greenland.

Do you see the difference? My dad did those things, not his last duty assignment in the Navy, Quonset Point, Rhode Island, but since the subject of the sentence was the latter, that's what the participial phrase at the beginning is modifying.

Here are some ways I could have written the sentence better:

  • After sailing through ...icy waters off the coast of Greenland, the man made his way to his last duty assignment in the Navy Quonset Point, Rhode Island.
  • After the man sailed through the Panamal Canal a couple of times...coast of Greenland, his last duty assignment in the Navy ....
  • After sailing through the Panama Canal to ...the coast of Greenland, he was assigned to....

At least he was the one doing the sailing in those versions, which is only fitting and proper.

On a website called, I found these amusing examples of dangling participles:

1) Speeding through the tunnel, the station came into view. (the station was not speeding through the tunnel, a person was, on a train presumably.)

2) Broken into pieces, I swept up the glass. (the person was not broken into pieces, the glass was.)

3) Forgetting all about class, the weather was perfect at the beach! (the weather did not forget all about class, the person who went to the beach did.)

4) Making my bed, the stuffed animals were on the floor. (the animals are not making the bed)

5) Petting his head, my dog enjoyed my company. (the dog is not petting his own head)

6) Wishing for a pony, the farm was a magical place for me. (the farm is not wishing for a pony)

7) Walking through the woods, the trees were magnificent. (the trees are not walking)

8) Freezing our hands off, the snow was fun to play in. (the snow is not freezing its hands off)

9) Reading quickly, the book was too exciting to put down. (the book is not reading quickly)

Nine examples are more than enough. It borders on overkill.

By now, dear reader, you know what is wrong with the title of this post (and if you don't, you haven’t been paying attention: it is not you who are dangling, it is your participles).

Which example of a dangling participle tickled your fancy the most?

Sunday, September 1, 2019

Eighty years ago today (unless it's already tomorrow where you live)

...the War To End All Wars To End All Wars began when a few people of the German persuasion entered Poland on September 1, 1939, without so much as a "by your leave".

That is your bit of history trivia for the day.

Eighty years ago tomorrow -- by which I mean September 2, 1939 -- was a date I thought for many years was an important one in my family's history, until I discovered that it wasn't.

Let me explain.

(Spoiler: This is going to be another post about my parents, all three of them.)

I thought September 2, 1939, was the day my parents got married. The truth is a bit more complicated.

As far as I know, my biological parents never married. They met in New York City where both of them had moved to find work, my mother from Pennsylvania and my father from Rhode Island. At some point after they met, I was conceived. At some point after I was conceived -- I'm not sure just when -- he returned to Rhode Island and she went there too. Whether they went together or she followed him there, I have no idea (I do not mean to sound like Yoda from Star Wars, speaking backwards and all, but it simply cannot be helped). I was born on March 18, 1941, but my biological father, hereafter known as "the sperm donor", was not present. I discovered by doing research many years later that on March 11, 1941, one week before my arrival, the sperm donor joined the United States Army and left Rhode Island and my mother's life forever. She stayed in the same city for several years, the city where his family lived, but I have no idea if there was any contact between them. Although she had earned a college degree that qualified her to teach in elementary school, my first recollection of where she worked was at a Coats & Clark Thread factory.

I do remember being about 3 and hearing, one time and one time only, one of my nursery school teachers call my mother “Mrs. M———-“; I believe my mother had assumed this title without benefit of clergy in an attempt at respectability in a day when the term “single mother” had not yet been coined and being one was held in low regard.

The man who raised me was living more than a thousand miles away in Iowa with a wife of his own. In December 1942 he joined the United States Navy and served until World War II ended in 1945. At some point during his term of service, his wife in Iowa divorced him. After sailing through the Panama Canal a couple of times on his way to places like Oregon and southern California and Florida and the icy waters off the coast of Greenland, his last duty assignment in the Navy happened to be Quonset Point, Rhode Island. At some point around 1945 a mutual friend introduced him to my mother and the rest is history. I must have been about 4 when they met but I have no memory of him then except for seeing him a few times wearing a white sailor suit.

As an adult I discovered through research that they were married on September 2, 1946, in Seekonk, Massachusetts. The only birth certificate I have ever had was issued about this time also, just before I began public school, when one would be needed. It shows Clifford Ray Brague as my father, which is impossible based on what I have shared with you in this post. I don’t think he adopted me officially, but I became Robert Brague that day.

After completing my first year of school, we moved from Rhode Island to Texas. As far as I or anyone else knew, they had been married since 1939. September 1940 would not have worked for public consumption because I was born, remember, in March 1941.

He told me one time “I gave you a name”.

I know they meant well and did everything for what they considered good reasons, but a line of Sir Walter Scott’s comes to mind:

“Oh, what a tangled web we weave when first we practice to deceive.”

All the principals have been gone for a long time now. My mother died in 1957, my birth-certificate dad died in 1967. I discovered through further research that my biological dad/sperm donor died in 1977 in New Jersey. He married and had a family after the war. I have chosen not to contact them.

He ain't heavy, Father, he's my chicken

(Editor's note: The following meme is not original with me. It appeared for the umpteenth time today on Facebook so I decided to capt...