Saturday, July 31, 2010

Amazing Dozen

Since I won't be attending Chelsea Clinton's wedding, I should have time to write my weekly blog entry. I was disappointed that President Obama was not invited, so I decided not to go, even though I had looked forward to seeing those $15,000 Port-A-Potties.

01. Who are you looking at! I went on a tour of NASA's Goddard Space Center with my Men's Club on Friday. Amazing place. I was mainly interested in the Hubble space telescope and it's remarkable pictures which were posted over all the walls.

I probably should have known this, but I didn't. The Hubble will be replaced around 2014 by the JWST (James Webb Space Telescope).

Hubble takes picture of the universe as it was over 13 billion years ago and is an orbit 350 miles above the earth. JWST will be in orbit one million miles above the earth (4 times as far as the moon) and will take pictures older than Hubble's, if that's possible. . Some of the comments of my fellow men's club members:

"Will they be looking over the edge of the universe.. like Columbus?"

"Suppose they take a picture of a big eye?"

"This whole thing doesn't make sense. Don't they read the Bible?"

I just hope that I can make it to 2014.. for the launch, and then through however long it takes to transmit pictures back to earth from a million miles up.

My great grandson, Cameron, should see a lot of interesting space pictures during his lifetime, if crazy people don't blow us up soon and make us just another burned out rock on the screen of some alien's space telescope.

02. This cracks me up. A Court ruling says that a man lowering his pants and showing underwear is protected by the first amendment and can't be prohibited .. huh? This comes under "freedom of speech?"

(It may be that I have mixed this up with an English ruling a few months ago. I thought it was an American case. Instead of "first amendment".. such a prohibition would instead violate "young {British} men's human rights.")

03. Gives new meaning to "giving one the finger." The petrified middle finger of Galileo is on display in Florence, near the Uffizi Gallery, at the Museo Galileo: Instituto e Museo di Storia della Scienza.

04. No money-pit? The Carroll County Times (Maryland) reports that Baltimore has recommended no-cost spaying and neutering programs for "Pit Bills".

(Reminds me of President Harding. Some have said that the President rented a row-house in DC, where a deep pit was built so that people wanting favors from his Administration could toss their contributions without fear of disclosure.)

05. Round-up? Some 99 cents stores in the U.S. have changed their prices to $ 0.9999 cents, which I'm told causes the register to record it as $1.00. This, of course, allows them to make one penny on each sale.. and this equates to lots of profit on millions of sales.

(At one point, the Government decided to "round down" the amounts in Social Security checks.. imagine how much money that has made for the Government. I hope it went into the Social Security Trust Fund......)

06. The Great Bell, California uprising of 2010. As I reported in my last entry, city officials in Bell, California were making astronomical wages. Well, as soon as the people in that city learned about these wages (no, not from my blog), they erupted in anger and the officials involved have had to resign. The question is: how did it get to this point? Doesn't the city have open meetings where things like officials' salaries are discussed? Guess not.

07. Birth control? Scientists have discovered that there is a gene found in all creatures in the line from fish to man that controls the generation of sperm. This is called the Boule Gene. Would controling that gene be an acceptable method of birth control? Probably not.

08. Hot lawyers? Once, when Abraham Lincoln was staying at a tavern on a very cold night, he noticed that there were a lot of other attorneys hugging the pot-bellied stove. As Lincoln neared the fire, the host addressed him: "Pretty cold tonight."

Lincoln replied: "Colder than hell."

One of the lawyers turned to Abe and said: "You've been there too, have you, Mr. Lincoln?"

Lincoln replied: "Yes, and the funny thing is that it's much like it is here.. all lawyers are nearest the fire."

009. Star track? I read where Bill Shatner is about to debut an interview show.. where he will interview "notorious personages".. Will our Captain Kirk make this into a "slightly naughty" show like Boston Legal? The first interviewee is slated to be the "Subway Vigilante." Should be interesting.

010. Prison for dummies. An Argentine prison was low on money, so they posted a dummy in a guard tower. Some prisoners were not the dummies that the warden thought they were and escaped.

011. Here's your sign. The inhabitants of Shitterton, England, not wanting to change their town's name and tired of constantly replacing their town sign.. chipped in to buy a boulder with the name carved into it. "Let's see those 'low-lifes' steal this one!" (I'm sure that people smart enough to fool the public about crop-circles for years, will have no problem in removing this big stone, at night, by the light of a full moon.)

012. Use your napkin and sit up straight, Fido! Hammacher Schlemmer is selling a "Pet High Chair".. which they say "promotes more refined behavior." (As reported by Consumers Reports.)


Sunday, July 25, 2010


One of my favorite movies: The Wrong Box has an elderly character who likes to share facts with anyone who is nearby. At one point in the movie, he gets a chance to ride on a horse-drawn wagon for an hour, seated next to the driver.

As they enter the town, he breaks off his monologue and tells the driver that he would now be able to disembark. The driver, clearly battered and worn from his rider's incessant chatter, says: "Oh, would you?" (with an implied PLEASE!)

So it is with blogs. The good thing though, is that one can avoid visiting the site or one can block the writer's entries, at least on Facebook.

With that bit of off-hand advice, I will continue with my blog entry.

01. Death of another Icon: Dan Shorr passed away at 93 on Friday. I didn't always agree with his actions, but usually I agreed with his commentary. Besides, anyone on Nixon's Enemies List has to be someone I admire.

02. Hate Groups. The Southern Poverty Law Center (SPLC) says that they are now tracking 23 organized extremist groups in Maryland. They also state that there are 1,753 active extremist groups in the U.S. Anti-immigrant groups have grown astronomically recently.

Let me ask one question related to immigration: If suddenly all illegal aliens were kicked out, who would pick our fruit and vegetables, clean the toilets in our fast food joints, or watch the children of our elected officials?

03. Gun control: Comic, Chris Rock says he has the solution to the "bearing arms" issue. "Bullets should cost $3,000 each." That way, only serious hunters would have them..and children and crooks might be deterred. What do you think?

04. Bliss. Jeremy Quinn, Mensan, says: "The beautiful thing about marriage is that you can wear your old, discolored shirt in front of her when it would embarass you no end should anyone else witness it."

05. Harvard grads? Massachusetts put out a list of the top 1,000 State tourist attractions.. but the list only showed 996 places, and some of them don't exist. (I'll have to look for New Bedford entries. A few years ago, I compiled my own list of about 100 places to go and things to do in the geater NB area. I would be glad to share it.)

06. Nature's Bounty. Last year, we discovered the Earthbox and grew lots of vegetables on our back deck. This year, we bought three more and are enjoying lots of delicious home-grown veggies, such as giant zuchini, giant cucumbers, tomatoes of all kinds, patti-pan squash, .. and even corn!
(Google Earthbox)

07. Toastmasters take note: Shakespeare wrote 31,959 speeches! (Could Bacon have done that?)

08. Mushrooms: The Crystal Falls, Michigan Humungus Fungus Fest will be held in August. I believe that they make a 10' x 10' mushroom pizza. (Is it true that there is a mushroom growing on 37 acres underground..that is 1,500 years old?)

09. Sarah sez: New word.. refudiate. Is this related to Elmer Fudd's dislike of Bugs?

10. The Bard: Sarah said that Shakespeare made up new words all the time..when he wasn't writing thousands of speeches. Mensa has a Special Interest Group (SIG) for Shakespeare lovers.. it's called Bardolatry and can be found on Facebook.

11. Jobs: Maybe we should move to Bell, California. Wait, Wait, Don't Tell Me reports that the Bell City Manager is paid $787,000 and it's Police Chief is paid $457,000. I wonder what the salaries are for L.A., which probably has a rather larger population?

12. Burning Question: Is this the year twenty ten, two thousand ten, or two thousand and ten? (Answer, from Mensan Richard Lederer.. "twenty ten ... saves five letters, one syllable, and one word." I know, you are wondering why us guys with genius IQ's are spending time on this subject. I wonder too.)


Sunday, July 18, 2010

More Foolishness

01. Insight: I know that some people do read blogs like mine.. especially in Japan where some entries are used to facilitate English lessons, or at least that is what I have been told through some emails I have received and from the large number of Japanese comments posted to one of my blogs.This reminds me of a "life lesson" from when I was in the eighth grade:

I had been working hard to build my muscles through weight lifting for a couple of years, but I had overheard some girls saying that guys with large muscles looked ugly. That bothered me for some time, until I visited one of my friends' girl friend's home.. on her bedroom wall, she had posted large pictures of weightlifters and bodybuilders flexing their massive muscles. She and her two girlfriends were "oohing" and "aahing" over the pictures. That is when I gained my insight:

As the song goes: "Some girls don't like boys like me...... ahhh! but some girls do!"

02. Bad taste: Doctors have reported that Pine Nut Syndrome is with us again. This occurs to certain people who eat too many pine nuts. Somehow, their tastebuds are screwed up and they have a tinny taste in their mouths for up to six months. I love to eat pine nuts but have not yet experienced bad taste.. at least not in my mouth.

03. Immigration: Harpers reports that almost 400,000 immigrants have been deported from the US during President Obama's first year in office. (Did you read that, Lou Dobbs?)

04. Super tool: I received an ad for a "pocket saw" that supposedly can cut through any substance known to man. It folds up like a jack knife and can be put into one's pocket, and apparently remain undetected until needed for tasks like decapitation.

05. Itching to know? I read about a site where you can find out about possible infestation in your New York City hotel.

06. Cut it out, Imam! In a move that will cause the hairs to rise on the back of your neck, Iran has banned the Mullet haircut. At last Iran has done something I can agree with.

07. Finally! British researchers have determined that the chicken came before the egg, based on scientific examination of egg shell material! (Now, where the devil did the chicken come from?)

08. Funny phrase: Yesterday I heard a lady tell her friend: "Where have you been? I haven't seen you in a month of Sundays." (Does anyone know where that phrase comes from? I'll bet my brother Joe does.)

09. Wino test: NPR reports that Harrisburg, Pennsylvania is testing a wine buying set up for supermarkets. One accesses a video hookup in a kiosk and a person remotely checks the personal information that you supply (name and date of birth at least) and then, if you are who you say you are, and over 21, you are asked to breathe into a tube and undergo a check to make sure you are not already drunk. Once you pass all these tests, you can open the door and extract wine that is priced from $6 to $22. (Apparently, they are selling 80 bottles a day through the kiosk.)

Just think of the possibilities for the police from this set up. But probably not for homeland security folks, because terrorists may not drink alcohol.

10. Cat burgler. A family has reported that their cat has come home with stolen underwear every night for a while. So far, the feline felon has copped 79 pair of undies.

11. Watchit! Along that line.. I received an ad for "grab and go" underwear. I would be afraid to wear such things. (I guess maybe the above mentioned cat got her thievery idea from this ad.)

12. Button up! Another British study has determined that people with high belly buttons are better at sports because they have a higher center of gravity. (I wonder whose bellies they examined. Did they check out belly-dancers? Pot bellies? Innies or outies? Beer bellies? Pregnant bellies?)

Saturday, July 10, 2010

Madamina, il catalogo e questo...

A couple of very interesting catalogs appeared in the mail the other day, and I thought that I might mention a few of the things that you might want to order. If you are tempted, let me know and I'll tell you the names of these great catalogs.

Stuff for the home.

01. Hair cutting umbrella: This is kind of a cape/bucket that fits around your neck and catches all of the hair, eyebrows, and earlobes that get lopped off as your spouse gives you a haircut. Clever idea.

02. Laundry sign: A magnetic cover for the front of your washing machine that lets people know that they are in the "laundry." (Here's your sign!)

03. Egg cracker: A machine for those persons unable to crack their eggs on the side of a bowl. The two sides of each cracked egg come out evenly and aesthetically correct.

04. Bed bug repeller: Plug it in, turn it to "high" and watch those little rascals scoot to escape the ultrahigh inaudible sound waves. (Especially recommended for people living in New York City.)

05. Lock for your safe: Keeps people from stealing the important papers in your 10 pound safe, unless the crook decides to pick it up, carry it off and open it later with a crowbar.

Tasteful items:

01. Toilet seat clock: Chimes every hour with a flushing sound.

02. Toilet mug: Have your dark brown morning brew in a realistically rendered coffee mug shaped like your bathroom toilet.

03. Booty Bop: I haven't a clue about this product.. the catalog doesn't explain it. It probably is related to the old poem: "what God has forgotten, we stuff up with cotton."

04. Burping bank: Stick a coin in the piggy bank's slot and it burps and snorts just like the depositor.

05. Butt bank: Stick a coin in the plumber's butt crack and hear a realistic fart. (Voted "Baltimore's Best" by Miss Allen's 6th grade class.)

Stuff for your pet.

01. Doggie litter turf: This little bit of greenery is designed to allow your pooch to do his business indoors in bad weather.

02. Diet bowl: Prongs stick up from the bowl bottom, so your dog or cat will learn to eat slower and more carefully. (Might work also for human dieters.)

For your yard.

01. Frogs have fun. Forget about the Mexican on a burro or the "Baltimore Hon" flamingo, this is a set of two waving green frogs on a sliding board. (Years ago, our friend, Miss Marie, made me a ceramic "Frog in Pink Hot Pants. My daughter now has this heirloom next to her backyard fish pond,)

02. HOOT! Hang this realistic owl from a tree trunk and every time something comes near, a sensor triggers a very loud "Hoot! Hoot!" to scare the trespasser away. (I wonder what this sounds like at 3 am when some bats decide to investigate?)

Remember these catalogs take credit cards.


Saturday, July 03, 2010

Another dozen

01. Red Hat Club Ancest0r: In 1969, I established the Red Tie Club at the Social Security Administration. At our peak, we had 29 members who vowed that they would wear a red tie on Fridays. If not, they had to buy coffee and doughnuts for all of the other members. (Several guys would forget each week, but it wasn't very hard on the pocketbook because you could get a coffee and a sticky bun for 15 cents in those days.)

Remember.. this was 40 years ago and office workers had to wear neckties. This was a bad time for lungs because smoking was allowed everywhere. It always stunk to high heaven and one had to work in a haze of smog. However, we were used to it and didn't worry about it too much.

Once in the 1970's I decided that it was too stinky in my branch, so I shipped one of my smokiest sections into what I thought was a vacant storage room. That way, those guys could puff away to their heart's content without bothering anybody else. Or so I thought.

As soon as my guys were settled and began to light up, they noticed a rustling that seemed to be coming from what we thought were empty cartons piled up in the far corner of the room. It turned out to be the location of a programmer who hated smoking and who had made himself an office out of empty boxes. We had no idea he lived there. But, overwhelmed with the new smokiness, he soon moved out for parts unknown.

(Incidentally, this gentleman turned out to be the world's foremost expert on Esperanto, the international language. I've talked about this in other blogs.)

02. Big Bite! Scientists have found evidence of a giant Sperm Whale in the Australian desert. I have to check this out. The teeth are purported to be 4' long.. in a 50' body. Supposedly, this leviathan was not Mr. Niceguy. I believe that part of the discovery's name will honor Herman Melville (my hero.)

03. Watch out! The National Federation of the Blind and Virginia Tech are working on a project to allow blind people to drive. There already are some assistive devices related to that:

DriveGrip.. vibrating gloves that signal when and where to turn.

AirPix.. Paper with holes through which compressed air is sent to inform a driver as to what is around the vehicle.

04. Directions: One true thing about the village I live in, there is only one road out. Ordinarily this doesn't pose a problem, but the other day a jogger hailed me and asked if he were going in the right direction to get out of the village. I said "no" and explained the layout to him. He said "thanks" and went off in the wrong direction. I accosted him and told him he was going in the wrong direction. He said "OK" and continued in the same wrong direction. I gave up. Elaine says "that is just like a man."

05. Spies? I wonder if any of my neighbors are Russian spies. If they have operatives planted in the US.. we must have some as well. Spygate? I guess it is just another source of income for American citizens. I wonder what secret documents they xeroxed or photographed from their time in the PTA or the local Baptist Church.

06. Abdication: Larry King is retiring after 25 years in the media. Will Jeraldo take his place? Maybe now he can become a Russian spy like his neighbors.

07. Damn Alkie Wino: I am under my cardiologist's orders to have two alcoholic beverages per day. It's supposed to help my heart. So, in a week, if I drink only beer.. there will be 14 bottles in my recycling bin. If wine, maybe 3 or 4 bottles of wine. Anyway, last week the recycling pickup didn't show up for a few days.. so the booze evidence increased until it looked like all we drink is alcoholic beverages. So what.. who cares what the neighbors think. Besides Lutherans like to drink beer.

Once, on vacation in Mattapoisett, Massachusetts, I was out blogging on recycling pickup day and I noticed that every bin was filled with empty wine bottles of a certain fairly expensive red wine type. At first I thought that the liquor store must have had a fantastic sale. Then I thought that this many people can't all drink the same kind of wine. Then I realized that this was probably all from the same wino. His bin was full, so he decided to fill up his neighbors' bins. .. ok.. like I said before.. who cares?

08. Great idea: Someone is marketing Bridal Diapers. Who needs them? I guess it depends on how strong a Bride's bladder is.

09. Style: An upbeat 69 year old Wonder Woman will now dress in stretch pants. About time.

10. Baltimorese: John Goodspeed of the Baltimore Sun published a dictionary of the dialect spoken in Baltimore, Maryland. Look at a few of the entries:

Clays: clothes
Everythink: everything
Flares: flowers
Koor: car
Nayo: no
Urshter: oyster
Zinc: sink

11. Job openings: Britain is advertising for Bikini mud wrestlers.

12. Hairy lip? A German study has found that female fish like male fish best if they have a kind of mustache. Clark Gablefish.