Friday, May 29, 2015

Scratching an Itch

Thought for the day:  The cure for boredom is curiosity. There is no cure for curiosity.  [Dorothy Parker]

photo by Oren Jack Tume [wikipedia]
No offense to Ms. Parker, but of course there's a cure for curiosity. A temporary one, anyway, and that's research. Whenever that wondering itch pops up, we can scratch it to our heart's content by looking for and finding the answers, and thanks to the wonders of the Internet, it's never ever been easier.

You know, it sure was reassuring to learn I have something in common with the amazing Albert Einstein. I mean, except for the hair, we're practically kindred spirits! See, he was an extremely curious dude, and championed the merits of the inquisitive mind. He said cool stuff like, I have no special talents. I am passionately curious. and The important thing is not to stop questioning. Curiosity has its own reason for existing.

YES! So now we have it on good authority that curiosity does have a reason for existing, and a darned good one. Life is kinda like a crazy quilt, and the more things we explore, the more things we learn, the more people we meet, the more beautiful and colorful our quilts become. And for right now, curiosity... and good ol' Google... served to provide some interesting (to me!) fodder for this post. So three cheers for curiosity! (Which by the way, is not the same thing as nosiness...) You know how, when a mother is chilly, her kid has to put on a sweater? Well, in this case, I was curious, so you guys are gonna learn some interesting (to me!)  stuff you probably don't give a crap about. Ready? Okay, put your sweater on, and let's go...

***  An article titled Cancer by the Carton, published in Reader's Digest in 1952 alerted consumers to the dangers of smoking unfiltered cigarettes, so naturally, manufacturers sought to allay consumer concerns by developing filtered cigarettes. At least, they started out with good intentions, but from 1952 until 1956, Kent's micronite filters, marketed as the greatest health protector in cigarette history, were made with... blue asbestos. (Oopsie.)


***  Would you believe the state of Kentucky has more barrels of bourbon than it has people? The most recent accounting shows 4.9 million barrels of bourbon, and 4.4 million people. Upon birth, every new baby in Kentucky is awarded a barrel of bourbon. Typically,  by the time that child is seven or eight, they've drank their barrel of bourbon and have begun to show signs of kicking ass. By the age of twelve, they've become full-on kick ass Kentuckians. [from]

[wikipedia- credit: Sgt. James Harbour]

*** Many people are aware of  American Sniper Chris KyleFewer are aware of the Vietnam War's most famous sniper, Carlos Hathcock. That's him in the picture at left, which was taken in 1996, just a few years before he died. Whatever you think about war in general, or about snipers in particular, I can't imagine anyone not being astounded by this story of one of his missions. He had to crawl for three days across 2000 meters of an open field, which contained an enemy headquarters. To avoid detection, he could only move the tiniest bit at a time, and only when the wind moved the grass around him. He stayed motionless for such long periods of time, he actually developed bed sores. Enemy patrols came so close, they stepped on his knuckles, and they stood around smoking cigarettes mere feet from his position. After he accomplished his mission, he then had to backtrack the same way across the field... while enemy soldiers were actively looking for him. He could only move inches at a time... but he made it back to safety without being spotted. Talk about nerves of steel.

*** In 1628, Swedish warship Vasa traveled less than a mile, and sank just twenty minutes into its maiden voyage. Its largely intact hull, shown at right, was recovered in 1961, and is now in the Vasa Museum in Stockholm. Wanta know what sunk this magnificent ship? It was assymetrical, and the reason for that? Archeologist discovered two kinds of rulers in the wreckage: the Swedish ruler, which has twelve inches to the foot, and the Amsterdam, which only has eleven. (BIG oopsie.)


***  Everybody's heard of black holes, but did you know we kinda have black holes inside us? Okay, so that's an exaggeration. What we actually have is biological black matter, which is located in our GI tracts. From forty to fifty percent of the DNA information is made of this stuff, which doesn't match anything scientists have classified to date. It isn't plant... it isn't animal... it isn't fungus... or virus... or bacteria. What it is is a mystery.

Millions saw the apple fall, but Newton asked why.  [Bernard Baruch]


***  In 1929, by a vote of eight to one, the United States Supreme Court upheld the legality of existing eugenics programs, which required the forced sterilization of citizens deemed not smart enough to reproduce. A total of thirty-three states had a program, but North Carolina alone sterilized approximately 7600 people between 1929 and 1974. In 2013, it also became the first state to offer monetary compensation to survivors of this heinous program.

Curiosity kills prejudice.  [Bruce Frederick Cummings]

[circa 1937]
***  It's hard to believe now, but when Emma Read invented the baby cage in 1922, it served a need for city folks who lived in high rise buildings, where living space was cramped, and parents didn't know where to put their pesky kid. But of course! Why not take advantage of all that open space and fresh air free for the taking right outside their windows? Oh, and lest you be concerned about the little tykes, the deluxe models had a sloped roof... to protect the little angels from rain and snow.  (One can only assume they were allowed inside during thunderstorms.)

*** As you can see, the cages weren't only used in high rise situations. But, ya know, the baby looks perfectly happy out there, doesn't he? Maybe it wasn't much worse than... a play pen?

[circa 1922]

*** I've heard guys smart mouth about how they'd like to have the job of bikini inspector. Well, there actually used to be such a thing... only it wasn't exactly bikinis that were being inspected. In the '20s, there were some very strict laws regarding women's bathing suits. For one thing, they couldn't be more than six inches above the knee, so police officers, or inspectors, regularly visited the beach with their tape measures in hand. Violators (the floozies!) got hauled off to jail.

Okay, so that's enough random stuff you didn't give a crap about. At least for now. Because, as you know, curiosity is a lifetime condition. If we're very very lucky.

                      They say curiosity killed the cat. I say at least the cat died knowing.

                                                           Smile! Things are looking up.

                                         Until next time, take care of yourselves. And each other.

Friday, May 22, 2015

Fifty Years Ain't as Long as it Used to Be

Thought for the day:  If time only flies when you're having fun, I must be having a fantastic time.

Hi-ya. We had a fantabulous time with our friends in Tennessee. Um, no I'm not calling you a smart ass... that's just a picture of the lid from one of the games we sometimes play while enjoying life at Cliff's and Kati's. One of many many games. Seemed like an appropriate picture to use with this post, because if the shoe fits... and it definitely fits Smarticus and me. We're both smart asses. Come to think of it, so are Cliff and Kati. I guess that's part of the reason we get along so well. [The picture in the header was taken out back of their house.]

Now that we're home, it's time for another adventure. This time, it's for our anniversary. Our forty-sixth. YIPES! I used to think people who were married for fifty years were married like for-ev-er, and were like... ancient. You know... beyond old. Man, was I ever wrong. Fifty years is right around the corner for us, and though the mirror and calendar may tell us otherwise, on the inside, we're still young newlyweds. (Granted, newlyweds whose young bodies make more snap-crackle-and-pop noises than a bowl of Rice Krispies on steroids.)

With a couple updates, here is a re-run from a couple years ago. It was originally titled, Still Celebrating. (And we are!)


Thought for the day:  Our wedding was many years ago. The celebration continues to this day. [Gene Perret]

Yeah, our wedding was a few years ago... forty-six years ago this coming Sunday.

I love being married. It's so great to find that one special person you want to annoy for the rest of your life.  [Rita Rudner]

Lucky me, I found that one special person at a very young age, and have been annoying the crap out of him ever since. Met him at the scabby-kneed age of twelve. (And married him anyway!) Okay, so we looked a little different when we got married in '69. Yeah, yeah, yeah...  he had hair... I had a waist. Lots of ups and downs since then, too, but one thing that hasn't changed? Our sense of humor. We're still laughing. Still working hard to pull the proverbial applecart in the same direction.

Still loving.

A successful marriage requires falling in love many times, always with the same person.  [Mignon McLaughlin]

Of course, if you ask Smarticus how to make a marriage last, he'd probably say what he always says. He says the secret lies in him saying two simple words, whether he means 'em or not: Yes, dear. (He's kind of a smart ass.)

I say a successful marriage requires hardhats, because it's an ongoing project, and never really doneA successful marriage is an edifice that must be rebuilt every day.  [Andre Maurois]

Doggone it, there's no such thing as resting on your laurels when it comes to marriage, is there? Or as Smarticus says, "It only takes one aw sh*t to wipe out two attaboys." (Told ya he's a smart ass.)  Lily Tomlin expressed it a bit more delicately. She said, The road to success is always under construction.  

So maybe a successful marriage isn't something we ever achieve, but if you think about it, that's a good thing, because if we think we've already arrived, we may no longer strive.  Best to keep wearing those hardhats, to keep building that road to success, and to savor every bit of joy and humor we find along the way. Gotta have fun. Gotta laugh.

Talking about fun and laughter, remember Red Skelton? He was a very sweet, very mild-mannered PG-rated comedian. Anyway, he and his wife were married for many, many years, and here's his Recipe for the Perfect Marriage:

  • Two times a week, we go to a nice restaurant, have a little beverage, good food and companionship. She goes on Tuesdays, and I go on Fridays.
  • We also sleep in separate beds. Hers is in California, and mine is in Texas.
  • I take my wife everywhere ... but she keeps finding her way back.
  • I asked my wife where she wanted to go for our anniversary. "Somewhere I haven't been in a long time!" she said. So I suggested the kitchen.
  • We always hold hands. If I let go, she shops.
  • She has an electric blender, electric toaster, and electric bread maker. She said, "There are too many gadgets and no place to sit down!" So I bought her an electric chair.
  • My wife told me the car wasn't running well because there was water in the carburetor. I asked where the car was, and she told me, "In the lake."
  • She got a mud pack and looked great for two days. Then the mud fell off.
  • She ran after the garbage truck, yelling, "Am I too late for the garbage?" The driver said, "No, jump in!"
  • Remember. Marriage is the number one cause of divorce.
  • I married Miss Right. I just didn't know her first name was Always.
  • I haven't spoken to my wife in eighteen months. I don't like to interrupt.
  • The last fight was my fault, though. My wife asked, "What's on TV?" and I said, "Dust!

No telling what we're gonna do this weekend, but I know it'll be an adventure. When you're married to a smart ass, every day is an adventure. Y'all have a super weekend.

A long marriage is two people trying to dance a duet and two solos at the same time.  [Anne Taylor Fleming]

Until next time, take care of yourselves. And each other.

May I never be so blind that all I see is my own small world, nor so self-satisfied that all I am is all I ever hope to be.

Friday, May 15, 2015


Thought for the day:  Friendship is not a big thing... it's a million little things. 

Okay, so maybe friendship doesn't need words. I guess it's perfectly possible to maintain a comfortable silence when hanging out with good friends, and it wouldn't kill us to keep our mouths shut once in a while. Not that Smarticus and I are ever likely to know, mind you, because for the most part, when we're hanging out with any of our friends, we're with a group of talkers, story-swappers, and laugh-until-our-sides-hurt kinda people.

Laughter is the shortest distance between friends. 

We'll be hanging out with our besties for the next four or five days, (Woo-HOO! which means I won't be online for a while.) and in anticipation of all the fun we're gonna have, it got me to thinking about friendship. What does it mean to be a friend? What does friendship mean to you? And do our expectations and criteria change over the years? (What a stupid question. Of course they do! When I was a kid, everybody was my best friend.)

Friends are the bacon bits in the salad bowl of life. 

That's a good way to put it, isn't it? Delightfully savory bacon bits. Friends are also the decadent frosting on our cake, the people we can depend on, and who can depend on us. Together, we double all our joys and halve all our sorrows. We get each other.

Good friends don't let you do stupid things... alone.

 Remember the pinkie swears of youth, the shared secrets, and the oh-so-serious ritual of becoming blood sisters and brothers?  I must confess, my girlfriend Caryl and I weren't all that keen about cutting ourselves, though. We were practically joined at the hip since we met in first grade, loved to sing together, and got into all kinds of fun mischief together for many years. So, by golly, we wanted to be blood sisters! But cut ourselves? Uh... no thanks. The guys could play mumblety-peg (Anybody remember that?) and slice themselves in the name of friendship with their ever-present pocket knives all they wanted, but us? Nuh-uh. We simply picked at our scabs until we got enough of a trickle to mix. (Hush! Same principle, right?)

No more pinkie swears as adults, but we do still share confidences and keep secrets. No more blood brothers and sisters, either. (I still have an aversion to cutting myself, and it's been decades years months days since I've had a ready supply of scabs on my knees.) But after all these years, my childhood blood sister and I still keep in touch, especially since she had some experimental (and successful!) chemotherapy a few years ago. As a side effect, she lost many of her childhood memories, so she asked me to help her fill in the blanks with her, an undertaking that's brought us both a lot of pleasure.

Friends are people who know the song in your heart, and can sing it back to you when you forget the words.

When I was eleven years old or so, I learned a little something about friendship. It happened on a beautiful warm evening in late spring, when the scent of lilacs filled the air. My neighbor friend Diane and I were chatting, giggling, and strolling to the elementary school so we could attend a pre-teen dance there, and as was fairly common in our neighborhood, seagulls were providing background music by soaring majestically above us, and squawking their familiar cries.

BOMBS AWAY! [morguefile]
And then one of the seagulls zeroed in on us. Or to be more precise, it zeroed in on Diane. Like a miniature dive bomber, that squawking bird swooped down, and FWOP! splatted a big ol' load of multi-colored poop all over her. Unless you've experienced it, you have no idea how much poop a seagull can fwop. Or how colorful it can be. Trust me, it was a lot. And colorful. On her. On the shoulder of her shirt, and all down the front of her. I'm telling you, the expression on her face was priceless, and I, her dear sweet friend, wiped most of that nasty stuff off with my bare hands, and then oh-so-gently wrapped my lightweight jacket around her shoulders. "There, there," I crooned. "It'll be all right."

Yeah, right. You guys don't know me at all, do ya?

So sue me. I laughed. I laughed my silly arse off. And then I laughed some more. Diane, alas, failed to see the humor in the situation, and insisted on going back home. So, no dance. We went back home and watched TV. I learned right there and then how important it is for friends to laugh... together.

Now, before you judge me too harshly for laughing, this is the same Diane who helped break my parents' bed, and then took off like a scared rabbit and left me to deal with the mess by myself. Besides, if the seagull had pooped on me? I would have laughed just as hard. (Come on... it was funny!)

We are best friends. Always remember that if you fall, I will pick you up... after I finish laughing.

Whether you have one or two good friends, or so many you can't keep count, nothing's more wonderful than spending time with people who get you, no matter how weird you can be. If you're very very lucky, you might even be married to one of them. (Yes, I am very very lucky.)

Best friends know how weird you are, but still choose to be seen with you in public.


No matter how old we are, whether we're very young and fervently declaring our status as best friends forever five minutes after we meet...


or teenagers filled with insecurities, and learning more about ourselves and the world, bonding over common interests and shared secrets...


or old codgers who've shared a lifetime of memories, and a lifetime of priceless friendship...

friendship is a vital part of our lives. As tasty as they may be, we don't need bacon bits on our salads, but we do need friends.

The friends we're gonna be with for the next four or five days? The bestest. We all get along; we all get each other. We'll play a lot of games, swap a lot of lies, and boyohboy, will we ever laugh. Forget sleep, though. We aren't likely to get a lot of that, because we always squeeze as much as we can out of our time together. Like the Mertzes and the Ricardos... (Guess I'm Ethel!)

Oh, and in case you're wondering, if a bird happens to poop on any of us, you can count on me. I'm gonna laugh. And even better? So will the other three...

How about you? When you hear the word friend, is there anyone in particular who immediately comes to mind? A childhood friend... a current friend...  a blogging pal... a writing partner... or best of all... someone who's been your friend forever? Wanta tell us a little bit about that person?

               Good friends are hard to find, harder to keep, and impossible to forget.

                   I'll be back to respond to you comments next week. (If I can stay awake...)

                                        Until next time, take care of yourselves. And each other.