Monday, March 30, 2020

On a more serious note

Our longtime friend Tom B., the one who I told you tested positive for coronavirus, has been in an ICU, isolated, sedated in a chemically-induced coma for most of March, on a ventilator, and showing no improvement at all even after he began receiving medication. Yesterday, however, his medical team began seeing small signs of progress and have reduced his blood pressure medicine and lowered his ventilator settings. He is beginning to be responsive and was even able to say a few words to his nurse, according to his daughter. Tom's whole family has been isolated, not just from him but from one other as well and not able to be in contact except through social media. His wife Cheryl is in her own home, his daughter Staci is in her own apartment, his daughter Mandy is in her own home, and his sons Matt and Clint are both in their own homes. There now seems, at long last, to be a small ray of hope for Tom.

We have been holed up for most of March with a few exceptions. I have to confess that I was a little slow on the uptake in the beginning to cooperate fully because I have an independent streak and want to be self-reliant. So on the 8th we attended church (non-essential) and it was the last day that services were held; on the 13th I drove Mrs. RWP to her hairdresser for a shampoo and blow dry (non-essential); on the 16th I went grocery shopping (essential, but our son said we should have called him instead); and on the 18th my grandson drove us in his car to my retina specialist to get my monthly shot in the right eye for macular degeneration (definitely essential). We have not set foot outside the house since then and don't plan to.

Georgia is not Italy or New York City but as of today, March 30th, in the state of Georgia there are 2,809 known cases of COVID-19 virus, 707 people have been hospitalized, and 87 people have died.

According to the World Health Organization (WHO) at 1:37pm Eastern Daylight Time (EDT) today, there are 693,224 confirmed cases worldwide, 33,106 deaths, and 202 countries affected. The twelve countries with the highest number of cases are the United States (122,653), Italy (97,689), China (82,447), Spain (78,797), Germany (57,298), France (39,642), Iran (38,309), the United Kingdom (19,526), Switzerland (14,274), Netherlands (10,866), Belgium (10,836), and South Korea (9,661).

I would show you a world map but it is too depressing.

May it all be over soon and a cure or vaccine be found.

From our mouths to God's ear.

Sunday, March 29, 2020

Rambling Rose, or My concentration is shot

I think I have discovered why I see images I want to use and then later can't find them. The reason is that I often see them first on my iPhone, which means that Safari is showing them to me. When I sit down in front of my desktop (yes, I'm a dinosaur) it's not Safari any more, it's Google or DuckDuckGo or something else.

Could that be the reason or am I wrong?

That reminds me of this old unfunny feminist joke: If a man says something in a forest and there is no one there to hear him, is he still wrong?

I am trying to decide whether I meant the joke was unfunny or the feminist was unfunny.

Moving right along....

If the first three months of 2020 are indicative of the rest of the year, I am going to have a phenomenal increase in number of posts this year.

I better not count my chickens before they are hatched.

I'm rambling.

Hey, that reminds me of another song with a girl's name in the title that no one mentioned the other day: "Ramblin' Rose" by Nat King Cole! Here it is:

"Ramblin' Rose"

Ramblin' rose, ramblin' rose
Why you ramble, no one knows
Wild and wind-blown, that's how you've grown
Who can cling to a ramblin' rose?

Ramble on, ramble on
When your ramblin' days are gone
Who will love you with a love true
When your ramblin' days are gone?

Ramblin' rose, ramblin' rose
Why I want you, heaven knows
Though I love you with a love true
Who can cling to a ramblin' rose?

How many Roses have you ever known or even heard of? Let's see, there's Rose Kennedy (the President's mother) and Rose Nyland (played by Betty White on The Golden Girls) and...and...I can't think of any others. Does Gypsy Rose Lee count?

I worked at IBM with a Rose whose last name I don't remember. Two things she used to say, though, I do remember: "I don't get mad, I get even" and also "I get all jervous and nerky."

If she got all jervous and nerky back then, I wonder how she is doing in today's uncertain world?

I just realized her name wasn't Rose, it was Marion. I remember her last name too, but I'm not going to put it here.

No way, José, because if she reads it, she won't get mad, she'll get even.

I just reminded myself of another song with a boy's name, not in the title, but in the first line. The Star-Spangled Banner.

José, can you see by the dawn's early light, etc.

I make myself laugh even if no one else does.

I suppose that's enough jocularity for today.

Until next time, watch this (2:52).

Saturday, March 28, 2020

Hands across the sea, part 2

Did you think Part 1 was rather short and ended abruptly? That’s because there wasn’t supposed to be a part 2. I thought I had saved what I had been working on and stepped away from the computer to walk the dog and eat supper and make a list for our firstborn to take with him to the grocery store on Saturday. I intended to come back later and continue with that post, but something unexpected happened that took me by surprise, as unexpected things are wont to do.

I received a comment in my email inbox from Red in Alberta, Canada, on the post that I didn’t think I had published.


Obviously I had clicked on something other than the Save button and that something was obviously the Publish button.

As Gomer Pyle used to say, “Surprise! Surprise!”

When the world hands you a lemon, you do what Ann Landers, the famous advice columnist (British, agony aunt) said to do. You make lemonade.

In this case, making lemonade means acting as if nothing had happened, so I decided to call the first post, which didn’t even have a title, Hands across the sea, part 1.

Welcome to Part 2 of Hands across the sea!

We’ll pick up where we left off.

There are many differences between the two countries (the two countries being the U.K. and the U.S.) in the spelling of words.

I had found some great colored (British, coloured) charts of the major differences between U.K. English and U.S. English, with a few examples of each. You could probably name the families: -ise vs. -ize, -our vs. -or, -re vs. -er, double consonants vs. single consonants (ll vs. l, pp vs, p), oe vs. e, ae vs e, and so forth. They were neat and I wanted to plop them into this post. Now I can't find them. Pity. Or as the French say, C'est dommage.

But I did find a "comprehensive" list of 1,800 words we spell differently. Simply click here if you want to peruse it.

The first word pair I checked for isn't even in the comprehensive list. Whinge and whine. So much for the list's comprehensiveness.

In my exhaustive research (it is to laugh), I discovered the main reason we do things differently. It's all traceable to the dictionaries we base our language on, I mean on which we base our language. Dr. Samuel Johnson's dictionary in England was created in 1755 and Noah Webster's dictionary in the United States was created in 1828. Webster favored what he called "simplifying" the language. Lots of words on both sides of the Atlantic have fallen into disuse, and lots of new words have come along. The Oxford Englsh Dictionary, first published in 1884 and now running to nearly 22,000 pages, is the prime example, but we still hearken back to our 1755 or 1828 preferences when it comes to spelling.

Some new things that come along require the invention of new words, and some new things that come along just combine existing words in ways they never were before, like his husband and her wife.

Another very long post could be made on the different names we have for things, like nappy vs. diaper, lorry vs. truck, loo vs. bathroom, biscuit vs. cookie, chips vs. French Fries. The list goes on and on and on. It could be Part 3, but don't hold your breath. It's been done to death.

Here's a look at the title page of the second edition of Dr. Johnson's dictionary:

Thursday, March 26, 2020

Hands across the sea, part 1

Our English friend Yorkshire Pudding took me to task in a comment on the preceding post for having made reference to Red Skelton’s television program.

“Dear boy,” he said, “over here in the birthplace of the English language we use ‘programme’ for television and ‘program’ for computers.”

For your information, I used U.S.-style punctuation in the previous sentence. Here is the same sentence using British-style punctuation:

‘Dear boy,’ he said, ‘over here in the birthplace of the English language we use “programme” for television and “program” for computers’.

Count the ways in which the two sentences differ. How many differences did you find?

I found nine. Do you need to go back and count again?

There are many well-known differences between the two countries in the spelling of words as well.

Wednesday, March 25, 2020

Absolutely the last thing I'm going to say on the subject

...of song titles that contain girls' names or boys' names is this:

How could we possibly have overlooked "What's It All About, Alfie?" ????

I hate using multiple punctuation marks, especially (God help us) multiple question marks, but desperate times call for desperate measures.

Wouldn't you agree????

Don't answer that.

I think the extra punctuation lends just the right degree of hysteria.

Some people, mostly Americans, confuse the words desperate and disparate, prostrate and prostate (speaking of God help us), and exasperate and exacerbate.

I'm sure none of you reading this would ever be guilty of such a thing.

The English books never mention desperate/disparate or prostrate/prostate or exasperate/exacerbate, tending rather to concentrate on affect and effect and there and their and they're.

Even Mrs. Malaprop, a character in Sheridan's 1775 play The Rivals, couldn't top Yogi Berra, who once said, "Texas has a lot of electrical votes."

I feel I am going down a rabbit trail.

Well, so did Alice and look where it got her. In Wonderland, that's where.

Another pair of words Americans are always mixing up in their writing are (is?) were and where. I'm serious. Sometimes I feel that I live in Wonderland already.

I repeat, God help us.

I have resisted so far writing about what Alphie Soup referred to in a comment yesterday as the big world event whose name must not be spoken. A lot of other bloggers are fixated on that very thing, and the folks on Facebook speak of little else these days. I may cave eventually, but that time is not yet.

I will now close the post the same way Red Skelton used to close his weekly television program (British, programme) back in the day.

Good night, and may God bless.

Monday, March 23, 2020

That was fun

I'm referring to the last two posts, one about song titles with girls' names and the other about song titles with boys' names. Collectively, we named more than 60 girl songs and 24 boy songs. I'm sure there are more.

It just occurred to me that no one mentioned "Delilah" by Tom Jones or "Wake Up, Little Susie" by The Everly Brothers.

I suppose this could go on and on but we should bring it to a close and move on to another subject.

Before we do, however, reader Graham Edwards in Scotland said that several of Bob Dylan's songs mentioned his name. Bob's name, I mean, not Graham's. I was never a big follower of Bob Dylan since his voice always sounded to me like a cat had got its tail caught in a mop pail wringer, so if "Blowin' In The Wind" didn't contain the name Bob I was oblivious. If any of you know which songs Graham was referring to, please name them in the comments.

Here to help you along is a list, in alphabetic order, of songs written by Bob Dylan.

A close examination of the list will yield several more songs with boys' names and girls' names in the title, also to which I was oblivious.

You can thank me later.

Or not.

(Dylan performing in the De Kuip Stadium, Rotterdam, June 23, 1978. Photo by Chris Haakens used in accordance with CC BY SA 2.0)

Here are two more people from way back when.

Sunday, March 22, 2020

A little post-mortem and Equal time

In the preceding post I listed 50 songs with girls' names in the title (and also in the lyrics, which I forgot to stipulate). After the list I thought of "Helen Had A Steamboat" which made 51. In the comments, Kathy thought of "Annie's Song" by John Denver, but it doesn't include Annie in the lyrics. I thought of "Nita, Juanita" which is from way back in the 19th century but was used during the 1940s and 1950s as the lead-in and sign-off music each day for the radio soap opera Helen Trent. I'm pretty sure Helen didn't have a steamboat. I also thought of "Ramona". Alphie Soup thought of "Ruby Tuesday" and "Cecelia" and "Dinah" (good show, Alphie!) which suddenly brought to mind "Diana" by Paul Anka. All of these bring the total (so far) to 58 if we count "Annie's Song" and 57 if we don't. Quite a collection! Oh, I completely forgot about "Reuben and Rachel". One more and we'll have 60 if we count "Annie's Song".

I think the boys deserve equal time. I'll bet there are not nearly as many songs about boys. There are thousands about Jesus, but let's exclude all but one of those.

1. Sweet Little Jesus Boy

2. Reuben and Rachel

3. Frankie and Johnny

4. When Johnny Comes Marching Home Again

5. Oh, Where Have You Been, Billy Boy, Billy Boy?

6. Hang Down Your Head, Tom Dooley

7. I'm Just Wild About Harry

8. Me And Bobby McGee

9. Jimmy Cracked Corn And I Don't Care

10. Oh, Danny Boy

11. Joshua Fit The Battle Of Jericho

12. Sam, You Made The Pants Too Long

13. Tall Paul

That’s a baker’s dozen. How many more can you come up with?

Saturday, March 21, 2020

Earworms R Us, or Maxwellton Braes Are Bonnie Where Early Fa's The Dew

Yesterday I started thinking about song titles with girls' names in them, and I decided to jot them down. Before you could say "Jack Robinson" (not a girl's name), I had the following list of 50 songs. If you can't find something hummable in there, it's not my fault. And if one of the tunes gets stuck in your head, it's not my fault either. Well, yes, I suppose it is, now that you mention it. I'm sorry I didn't put the list in alphabetic order, but you can do that yourself to help pass the time during your long hours of self-quarantine.

1. Annie Laurie

2. Aura Lee

3. I Dream Of Jeannie (With The Light Brown Hair)

4. I’ll Take You Home Again, Kathleen

5. K-K-K-Katy

6. Mary's A Grand Old Name

7. Annie Had A Baby, Can't Work No More

8. Wait Till The Sun Shines, Nellie

9. I Was Seeing Nellie Home

10. Lily Marlene

11. If You Knew Susie Like I Know Susie

12. Ida (Sweeter Than Apple Cider)

13. Laura

14. Margie, I’m Always Thinking Of You, Margie

15. All Day, All Night, Mary Ann

16. Good Night, Irene

17. Bar-Bar-Bar, Bar-Barbara Ann

18. My Bonnie Lies Over The Ocean

19. Long Tall Sally

20. Once In Love With Amy

21. When Joanna Loved Me

22. Lulu’s Back In Town

23. Every Little Breeze Seems To Whisper Louise

24. Mandy

25. Roberta

26. Ruby, Don't Take Your Love To Town

27. Billie Jean

28. Daisy, Daisy (A Bicycle Built For Two)

29. Fanny

30. Tangerine

31. Sweet Betsy From Pike

32. Lucille

33. My Darling Clementine

34. Thoroughly Modern Millie

35. Lucy In The Sky With Diamonds

36. In My Sweet Little Alice-Blue Gown

37. Oh, Susanna!

38. Jolene

39. Waltzing Matilda

40. Sweet Adeline

41. Charmaine

42. Sweet Lorraine

43. Hello, Dolly

44. Sweet Georgia Brown

45. Frankie and Johnny

46. Michelle (Ma Belle)

47. Mona Lisa

48. Maybelline

49. Maria, I Just Met A Girl Named Maria

50. How Do You Solve A Problem Like Maria?

Oh, yes, and how could we possibly forget "Helen Had A Steamboat"? I'm sure there are others, but my brain is tired.

Of the peppier songs in that list, the one I like best is "Tangerine" by the Jimmy Dorsey Orchestra from 1942 with Bob Eberle and Helen O'Connell on the vocals (3:16).

For slow songs, my favorite has to be "When Joanna Loved Me" by Tony Bennett (3:08).

If those don't suit your fancy, get your own earworm.

In the comments, tell me some other song titles with girls' names because I'm sure there must be many others. But do not say "Nothing Could Be Finer Than To Be In Carolina In The Morning" because the Carolina in question is not a girl but a U.S. state named for King Charles I of England. And do not say "Georgia On My Mind" because that Georgia is not a girl either, but a U.S. state named for King George II. And the June in "June Is Bustin' Out All Over" is a month of the year.

Thursday, March 19, 2020

Lo, how the mighty are fallen, or I am not always right

First things first: On this day -- March 19, 2020 -- the vernal equinox will take place for most of the Americas. It will occur at 11:50 pm Eastern Daylight Time, ten minutes before tomorrow comes. The rest of the world will see its arrival in the early hours of March 20 because of a little thing called time zones. This year's vernal equinox happens to be the earliest it has occurred in 124 years.

My barber calls me a walking enyclopedia.

I hope people don't find me annoying. If I encountered me, I probably would be annoyed. I do know a lot of stuff, mostly trivia. I don't study it or learn it on purpose, it’s just that things I hear or read seem to get stuck in my memory banks. My theme song ought to be "You're Easy To Remember, But So Hard To Forget."

However, there are big gaps in my memory banks, subjects about which I know very little and subject about which I know absolutely nothing. I try to avoid those subjects as much as possible because I don't want my abysmal ignorance in certain areas to be on display.

One of my favorite television programs is Jeopardy! with Alex Trebek. I love to call out the answers and many times I am right, but many times I don't have a clue. Well, they give me a clue, but it doesn't help.

What stuns me are the times I know the answer or make an educated guess based on the clue and not one of the three Jeopardy! players presses a buzzer. In recent days I have found myself yelling "Haile Selassie!" and "Tweedledum and Tweedledee!" and "Singapore Sling!" at the screen, but the contestants never seem to hear me. By way of explanation, I am not a drinker, but I am, as I said, a reader and a listener. The category was Alliterative Two-Word Names Of Alcoholic Drinks and the clue, which was most helpful, mentioned the Malayan peninsula, so what else could it have been? One contestant guessed Rob Roy but the last time I looked, Scotland was not on the Malayan peninsula.

The Final Jeopardy question the other night was something about a movie studio's high water bill during filming of a movie in 1952. I said Singing In The Rain (one of those "What else could it be?" moments) and two people answered correctly, but one woman had written down The Wizard Of Oz. Everybody knows that The Wizard Of Oz was released in 1939, not 1952. Don't they? Apparently not.

This is long and meandering, but I'll get to the point eventually.

Yesterday our 23-year-old grandson drove us 20 miles to my monthly eye appointment so that I could have another injection in my right eye for macular degeneration. Normally I can do the driving, but this month I was scheduled to have my eyes dilated, and it would have been rather difficult to drive the 20 miles back home with my eyes dilated.

On the way I was telling him that last month I was examined by a new technician who told me his name was Mel. Tall, thin, and black, Mel spoke with an accent I couldn't identify. He told me without my even asking that Mel was short for Melchizedek. I recognized the name from the story of Abraham in the book of Genesis in the Old Testament, so I assumed he came from a Christian family. I asked him where he had come to the U.S. from and he said he had spent the last five years in the U.K., but that he was from Ghana originally.

At this point, my grandson said, "Oh, Ghana! That makes sense that he went to the U.K. because Ghana is part of the British Commonwealth of Nations."

I, the family walking encyclopedia/know-it-all, said, "No, I don't think Ghana is one of the British Commonwealth nations."

My grandson said he must be thinking of another country starting with G.

I knew it couldn't be Gibraltar because Gibraltar is a British Overseas Territory, not a Commonwealth nation, so I, being my ever-clever self, said, "Gaustralia!". He laughed, and when I said "Ganada!" he laughed even more. My third possibility was G-New Zealand. "And it's still pronounced New Zealand," he said, "because the G is silent!"

We always laugh a lot when we're together.

Hours later, back home, in the evening, something made me google British Commonwealth of Nations. There it was, plain as day: Ghana.

I pulled out my smart phone and texted my grandson. "I'm only going to say this once. You were right and I was wrong! Ghana IS a member of the British Commonwealth of Nations. I looked it up."

He replied, "Be still my beating heart! I never thought this day would come. HaHa".

My mother used to say, "Pride goeth before a fall" which is also from the Old Testament (Book of Proverbs). It's not an exact quotation. The full quote is "Pride goeth before destruction, and a haughty spirit before a fall."

My hope is that I am neither proud nor haughty even though others are always telling me how much I know. What I know is how much I don't know. No, that's wrong. I don't have a clue how much I don't know, but I'm sure it's voluminous.

If you catch me getting proud or haughty, you have my permission to sneak up on me and kick me in the behind.

One of my very favorite quotes ever

...turns out to be quite timely to boot.

Tuesday, March 17, 2020

A powerful prayer on St. Patrick's Day

...or any other day.

Supposedly written in 433 C.E. (Common Era, a way of not having to say A.D., Anno Domini, In The Year Of Our Lord) by Patrick himself.

There are many presentations of it online, but I like

this one


Monday, March 16, 2020

Third rock from the sun

My annual trip around Old Sol has two more days to go and then another one begins, regular as clockwork. Round and round she goes I go, and where I stop, nobody knows. What I'm trying to say is that my birthday is day after tomorrow, at which point I will be 9/10ths of the way through another decade on planet Earth.

79. It has a nice ring to it, especially when you consider that my mother died at 47 and my father died at 60. My maternal grandfather, though, died just three months shy of his 96th birthday, and my goal is to outlive him.

As they were saying in New Orleans a couple of weeks ago, Laissez les bontemps roulez!

In other news, Governor Brian Kemp here in Georgia left it up to individual church leaders whether to close or remain open for Sunday services. Several of the humongous megachurches around Atlanta decided to suspend services and do online streaming instead. Northpoint (Andy Stanley), Free Chapel (Jentezen Franklin), and Passion City Church (Louis Giglio) were among them. Last New Year's Eve, Passion City sponsored a college/career-age night at the new Mercedes Benz stadium in Atlanta and 65,000 people showed up. The woman who is bishop of the North Georgia Conference of the United Methodist CHurch decided that all Methodist churches should close regardless of their size. The little Methodist church we attended for several years has about 75 people attending, and many of them are elderly, so they complied with their bishop's suggestion/orders and did their first-ever online "Lenten reflection" (as their pastor called it). The church we currently attend, not Methodist, normally runs between 250 and 300 in Sunday morning service and Pastor Chuck and the board of elders decided to remain open. We went, as did about 100 others. Many decided to stay home and watch via Facebook.

As of today, Georgia has had 121 cases of COVID-19 and one death. The man who died had been a greeter at a large church in a town about 25 miles from us. Two weeks ago that church had a special Sunday to honor and recognize their choir director who was retiring after 30 years. Before he went to that church he had been our choir director for five years (at the church we used to attend and now are attending again) so several current and former members made it a point to attend. I'm sure the greeters were shaking lots of visitors' hands that Sunday. A friend of ours, Tom B. (who is 69, lives about three miles from us, and attended that church that Sunday with his wife) is now on a ventilator in a local hospital and in isolation awaiting the results of his COVID-19 test from the CDC. If you are a praying person, please pray for Tom.

I didn't mean to end on a down note, but it is what it is. Life goes on, except when it doesn't.

As I was saying, Laissez les bontemps roulez.

Tuesday, March 10, 2020

A reading plan to keep your mind busy and even distracted during your self-quarantine

You must like words or you wouldn't be reading blogposts and writing your own blogposts, so as a service to word-lovers everywhere who are either considering self-quarantine during the coronovirus scare or have already taken the plunge, here is a reading plan to keep your mind busy and even distracted:

Day 1 - "21 Rhetorical Devices Explained"

Day 2 - "43 Embarrassing Grammar Mistakes Even Smart People Make"

Day 3 - "The Four Desires Driving All Human Behavior"

Day 4 - "How Non-English Speakers Are Taught This Crazy English Grammar Rule You Know But Have Never Heard Of"

Days 5 through 14 - One story a day from this collection of 10 short stories by Flannery O'Connor (see Note)

You're welcome.

At the end of the 14 days, one of two things may happen. Either your mind will have been so expanded that your own family will no longer recognize you, or you will never again be tempted to consider putting yourself through a 14-day self-quarantine period. In rare instances, both will happen

Whatever happens, I cannot be held responsible.

Note. The 10 stories by Flannery O’Connor are all in one long scrollable file. To make things a bit easier for those of you who actually want to read them, here are their locations within the file. You should know that not all of the stories begin at the top of a page:

A Good Man Is Hard To Find - p.5
The River - p.33
The Life You Save May Be Your Own - p.64
A Stroke Of Good Fortune - p.84
A Temple Of The Holy Ghost - p.106
The Artificial Nigger - p.129
A Circle In The Fire - p.166
A Late Encounter With The Enemy - p.199
Good Country People - p.217
The Displaced Person - p.253

Saturday, March 7, 2020

STOP THE PRESSES!! I'm not normal

Vice President Pence and his Coronavirus Task Force (CTF or CVTF, take your pick) have been appearing daily on the telly to remind us to cover our mouths when we cough (or to cough into our elbows); to use a tissue when we sneeze (and then throw it away); and to wash, wash, wash our hands (with SOAP and WATER for AT LEAST 20 SECONDS). They also give us updates on the number of new cases of COVID-19 and the number of deaths due to it. I'm certainly glad to get the reminders, because without them I would cough into my ankle, keep and probably frame all the used tissues, and wash my hands with prune juice for hours on end.

I'm kidding. I usually wash my hands with orange juice.

Don't get me wrong. I do appreciate the efforts of the powers that be to give us accurate information and prevent panic among the public unless it is warranted, which they keep assuring us it isn't. But the members of the media seem hell-bent on making all 350 million of us run out to buy toilet paper, bread, milk, face masks -- you know, the basic necessities of life. But when one of the chief cooks and bottle washers doctors, an otherwise very nice 60-ish man sporting a beard and wearing glasses and possessing a couple of advanced degrees, was asked by a reporter yesterday to identify the groups really at risk, he said something that really got my goat, got my dander up, ticked me off big-time, and made me rather angry, actually.

I wish I could quote him exactly but I'm going to have to paraphrase. There are two groups who will be most affected by COVID-19, he said, young children whose immune defense systems have not yet been fully developed and the elderly, especially if they are infirm or have serious health issues already involving the heart or lungs. He defined elderly as 80 or older. I'm okay with that. Then he said, "Normal people like you and me don't have to worry" or “don’t need to be concerned” or something not only inane but downright insulting.

We are a two-person household. One of us is 84 and the other will be 79 in a couple of weeks. The one who will be 79 is the one with existing health issues, specifically coronary artery disease and the current possessor of five stents. The one who is 84 has had two artificial knees made of titanium for 13 years now, which fact allows us to have a tag to hang from the car's rear-view mirror that permits us to park in handicapped parking spaces, but that is different in my book from being infirm.

I'm okay with being called elderly. I'm okay with having health issues. They eventually happen to many of us, even 60-ish doctors who sport beards and have advanced degrees.

What I'm not okay with -- actually I resent -- is being told I am not normal.

I'm normal. I wash my hands with soap and water every day without being told to and I have not framed a used tissue for quite some time.

I put my pants on one leg at a time just like George Clooney. He just gets to do it more often than I do.

I used to use Burt Reynolds in that joke, but since he died he doesn't put on pants any more.

If you prefer to say Leonardo DiCaprio or Kanye West or even Mayor Pete Buttigieg, feel free.

We normal people have to stick together.

Bernie Sanders and Joe Biden need not apply.

Wednesday, March 4, 2020

This used to be a historic day

...but it isn't any more.

George Washington was inaugurated as the first president of the United States on April 30, 1789, but all other presidential inaugurations occurred on March 4 through the first inauguration of our 32nd president, Franklin D. Roosevelt on March 4, 1933. Soon afterwards, the 20th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution changed the date to January 20, on which date they (presidential inaugusrations) have occurred ever since.

March 4th is not any more important nowadays than, say, August 19th.

So much for historical minutiae.

On with the show.

I said the other day that I would try not to draw inspiration for future posts from the comments section of earlier posts, but yesterday's was just so darned inspirational I have disabused myself of that notion, at least temporarily. Besides, I consider it my solemn duty to keep you informed if you are the sort of reader who never bothers to comment or look at the comments of others. You know who you are.

Graham Edwards, who lives in Eagleton Township seven miles from the town of Stornoway on the Isle of Lewis in the Outer Hebrides, a remote area of Scotland, took me to task for advocating the making of a soup other than ab initio as he called it (Latin for "from scratch", loosely translated). I am chastened. I have been put in my place culinarily speaking by a higher order of being.

Bonnie from Missouri thought the soup sounded good and said she was all for a meal that is quick and easy (take that, Graham Edwards!) but then changed subjects and started talking about the Democratic primary. To be fair, I did mention Joe Biden in the post. Yesterday was Super Tuesday on which 14 states held primaries, and according to some it is now all over but the shouting. According to others, the fun is just beginning and will culminate in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, in July at the brokered-or-not Democratic convention. Georgia's presidential primary is not until March 24th. For those of you in other countries, the purpose of a primary is to choose delegates to a political party's national convention based on which candidate they support.

Red in Alberta or Saskatchewan or wherever he is pointed out that I had included ideas for six other posts in the first six sentences of the post. It tires me out just thinking about how unthinkingly creative I am (Note to self: Remember that Mama always said, "Don't break your arm patting yourself on the back."). I told Red not to hold his breath as my posts are not planned but spring full-grown like Athena from the forehead of Zeus.

Alphie Soup took issue with me for calling it a 5-can soup but then saying in a postscript that there were six cans. Alphie Soup is a sharp-eyed reader and also a higher being on the order of Graham Edwards, but I'm not complaining. I need all the readers I can get.

Kathy in Virginia said my post made her laugh and wished my grandson a happy belated birthday although I think she meant a belated happy birthday.

Yorkshire Pudding, irascible as ever, left a recipe of his own, which I now share with you, my non-comment-reading friends:

1. Open can of Heinz baked beans.
2. Heat the beans in a pan or microwave.
3. Toast bread.
4. Butter toast.
5. Put toast on plate.
6. Put baked beans on the toast.
7. Eat the beans on toast.

This is not so much a recipe as it is an elementary flowchart one would be asked to create on the first day of computer programming class.

Some of you will recall that at the end of the post in question, I stopped myself from bidding you a fondue and bid you a fond adieu instead.

This time I will do something completely different. I bid you all a...

and if you are wondering, I just bid you all a Fonda do.

A final question: Do you enjoy these summaries of reader comments or should I find a new hobby?

Monday, March 2, 2020

Having the blahs

The skies are overcast, the day is dreary, and a cold rain is beginning to fall. I am completely uninspired today.

I could tell you that today, March 2nd, is Texas Independence Day but I have done that in other years.

Or I could tell you about the big black dog, probably Labrador, that has been appearing in our yard for the last few days, but I am hoping it will go away. Quietly.

Or I could tell you that my flower beds are in dire need of pinestraw now that spring is almost here, but I don't want to have to think about that right now.

Or I could tell you that it is my youngest grandson's birthday today, that he is 19 and nearly finished his first year at university, but that would be self-indulgent.

I could quote to you from Robert Browning's Song From Pippa Passes and tell you "God's in His heaven; all's right with the world."

But the world at present is reeling from the rapidly spreading threat of the coronavirus; Turkey's President Erdogan is letting all sorts of refugees, Syrian and otherwise, go through his country on their way to Greece and other parts of Europe who don't want them; and Joe Biden just won the Democratic Party primary in South Carolina, so nothing looks hopeful in those areas.

I think I'll go out in the garden and eat worms.

Oh, speaking of food, Mrs. RWP saw an interesting and easy-to-make recipe for soup on an insert in our monthly electric bill. She made it and it is DELICIOUS!

If you must know, it is called "5 can soup" and the ingredients are one can of Progresso ready-to-serve Minestrone soup, one can of black beans (drained and rinsed), one can of whole corn, one can of mixed vegetables, and one can of petite diced tomatoes.

That's it. You mix all the ingredients together in a pot and heat on medium heat until warm. Serve topped with shredded cheddar cheese and sour cream, to taste. It makes about six very hearty-sized servings, so that is three meals for the two of us. I was always good at math.

And that's it. No preparation required other than opening the five cans and remembering to drain and rinse the black beans. Serve with a few saltine crackers and you're set.

Dear God, my blog has been reduced to handing out recipes.

P.S. - The recipe said that adding a tablespoon of salsa in the soup was optional. We opted not to.

P.P.S. - In retrospect, how six cans of ingredients yields only six bowls of soup is beyond me and even a little bit scary, but that is what heppened.

I hope my next post will be a bit more fun, engaging your mind with fascinating subjects, stirring your senses with unexpected delight, provoking your gray matter with new possibilities.

Until then, I bid you a fondue fond adieu.

Now go forth and multiply make soups of your own.

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

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