Wednesday, January 30, 2013

Bend Over, Laddie

Thought for the day:  The best laid schemes o' mice an' men gang aft a-gley.  [Robert Burns]

Last Friday, the 25th, was Robert Burns Day, a worldwide drunken celebration of Scotland's favorite son and poet. So, yeah, that would have been a logical time to write a post about him and the annual poetry-reading, whiskey-swilling celebration of his birthday, but as he wrote, sometimes our plans gang a-gley.

Since I opted to participate in False Start Friday last week, why not talk about Burns today, eh?

A lot of people only associate the prolific Burns with Auld Lang Syne, but the truth is, he wrote a LOT of poems. I know, because I have a book filled with every single one he ever wrote. My grandfather's book. A true Scotsman he was, too. He could recite Burns' poetry like a Shakespearean actor, and the more libations he had, the more dramatic his recitation.

Even Pop's before-meal grace came from Burns:

Some hae meat, and canna eat,
And some wad eat that want it,
But we hae meat and we can eat,
And sae the Lord be thankit.

You know what the traditional meat is at the Burns Day celebrations? Something called haggis, a sausage-like dish containing what Scots call the pluck of a sheep: its heart, liver and lungs. (Takes a bit of pluck to eat it, too!) When all the ingredients are combined, they're traditionally sewn into the sheep's stomach for cooking, with the windpipe hanging over the side of the pot. Yum, huh? Modern recipes, however, may call for tongue instead of lung, and sausage casing instead of sheep's stomach. But I've even heard of instances where the sausage ingredients are shaped and cooked in a likeness of Burns' head and served on a huge platter. Talk about a following, huh?

Burns wrote poetry about all kinds of things. This, he allegedly wrote after observing a woman in church looking up the text during the sermon:

Fair maid, you need not take the hint,
Nor idle texts pursue;
'Twas guilty sinners that he meant---
Not angels such as you.

Rather than inundate you with more of Bobby Burns' poetry, let me address the question that niggles at many a fair maiden's mind... exactly what do those Scotsmen wear under their kilts???

Well, here ya go. The little ditty in this video will answer that question quite nicely. Cute pics, too. FYI, the illustrator is a very talented young autistic man, who has been drawing since he was a young child.

Now that you're smiling, how about one more short video? (Where do I get these things, you ask? Why, I pull 'em out of my... um, ear... of course.)

                                         Okay, lads and lassies, that'll be aboot it for noo.

                                               May He who gives the rain to pour,
                                               And wings the blast to blaw,
                                               Protect thee frae the driving show'r,
                                              The bitter frost and snaw.

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

[A photo of my grandmother's cousin Ian. Had I been born with the proper accoutrements, that would have been my name, too.]

Monday, January 28, 2013

Allow Me to Introduce Myself

Thought for the day: Friendship is born at that moment when one person says to another, "What! You too? I thought I was the only one.  [C.S. Lewis]

Dontcha hate gatherings where you know so few people in the room, you have to stick a tag on your shirt that says, My name is...? 

Yeah, me too.

But this is different. This is an opportunity to learn a little something about other bloggers from the safety and comfort of your own home, and you don't have to wear a name tag, or sip a cup of icky-sweet punch or nibble on a handful of salted peanuts. Well, of course, you can do all those things if you want to, but it's totally optional. Enough babbling; let me toss a quick thank you to our hosts for coming up with this getting to know you kinda blogfest, and then get on with it. (Thanks, StephenMarkElise, and Carolyn!)

Speaking of which, how about listening to a little Getting to Know You music while you read the rest of this post? You know, to put you in the mood? It's SHORT... just like the rest of this post will be.

Okeydoke. My name is Susan, and I'm a creative nerd, guitar-playing, oil-painting amateur radio operator, information junkie, incredibly soft touch volunteer, and word addict with a warped sense of humor and predilection for bad puns. This blog started with the notion of establishing a platform for my writing aspirations, but it's become so much more than that. Like amateur radio, it's yet another window on the world, and another avenue to make friends. It's about community and connections. Bill Husted, a journalist and amateur radio operator, once wrote in his column, In the amateur radio fraternity, there are no strangers. That's very true. And more and more, that's how I feel about blogging, too.

It's very nice to meetcha. Care for some punch and peanuts?

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

Friday, January 25, 2013

Love's Old Story

Thought for the day:  Asking a writer what he thinks about criticism is like asking a lamppost what it feels about dogs.   [John Osborne]

It's a pleasure to participate in this year's reincarnation of False Start Fridays. The idea? Pull a bit of your old neglected writing out of moth balls, dust it off, and show it some love. (i.e. Stick it on your blog, and let everybody make fun of it.)

Rather than run consecutive weeks for an entire month like last year, there are only two dates slotted this time around: today, and the last Friday in February. If you missed out on signing up for today's fun, but would like to play next month, hop on over to let the lovely Suze  know. It's her brainchild, ya know.

WAIT! Hey, not NOW! Read my post first... sheesh.

Since Valentine's Day is only a couple weeks away, I've selected a short story romance that holds a sweet spot in my heart. At least, I consider it a romance. Evidently, the magazine editor didn't agree. Care to enjoy a little background music while you read? The story's title? The Real Thing.


     When the doorbell chimed, Mildred looked over at her husband Bennie, but he was still reared back in his recliner, eyes closed, and mouth hanging open. With a sigh, she quieted the blaring TV and dumped her slumbering cat onto the sofa.
      It’s probably that sweet Jennifer from Meals on Wheels, she thought, as she grabbed her cane and hobbled to the door.
     Jennifer grinned when Mildred opened the door. “Hello, Mrs. Johnson,” she said. “Isn’t it a glorious day?”
     Mildred squinted past her to regard the sun-kissed day. “Why, yes,” she agreed with a smile. “I do believe it is.” Then she considered the pretty blonde’s glowing face. “And you, my dear, look especially lovely today.”
     Jennifer placed the meals in the usual spot, glanced at the still sleeping Mr. Johnson, and then stuck out her left hand. “That’s because I’m especially happy today!”
     Genuine delight illuminated Mildred’s face. “How wonderful!” she exclaimed, as she examined the shiny new engagement ring. “So, when’s the big day?”    
    “Oh, I can't set a date yet.”
     “No?" Mildred said, setting her cane aside and easing herself back onto the sofa. The cat immediately reclaimed her lap, and she automatically stroked his head. “Do you have time to visit, dear?”
     Jennifer sat beside her. “Yes, ma’am,” she said. “I do. This is my last stop.” She grinned. “I always save the best for last.”
     Dimples danced in Mildred’s cheeks. “Thank you, dear.” Then her face rearranged itself into a more serious expression. “So, why aren’t you ready to set a date, young lady? Cold feet?”
     “Not exactly. I just want to be absolutely certain that he’s the one and only true love of my life. You know … the real thing.”
     Mildred nodded slowly. Bennie scratched his Buddha belly, burped, and muttered something in his sleep. She looked his way, but his eyes were still closed, so she turned back to Jennifer. “I understand what you’re saying,” she said. “That one and only true love feeling is exciting, dear, but it takes more than a feeling to make a marriage work. It takes commitment and hard work to build the real thing.” She paused to smile. “I’ve been married for more than fifty years. Mind you, it hasn’t always been easy, but if I had it to do all over again, I’d marry that man again in a heartbeat.”
     “But did you ever have a one and only true love of your life, Mrs. Johnson?” Jennifer persisted.  
      Mildred glanced at her husband again before answering. “Absolutely,” she said in a stage whisper. “I met him at the USO in March of 1952.” With a touch of nostalgia in her voice, she added, “I was sure he was my one and only. I certainly wanted him to be.”
     Intrigued, Jennifer asked, “Would you mind telling me about him?”
     “He was a Marine,” Mildred said, with another quick peek at her husband. “A beautiful man. Tall, with the broadest shoulders I ever saw. Big strong hands, but they were gentle, too. Black wavy hair.” She closed her eyes briefly, picturing the handsome Marine. “And so very kind.”  She opened her eyes and smiled. “We danced every dance together.”
     “Did you ever see him again?” Jennifer asked.
     “Oh, yes. We were together every day after that for the next two weeks. It was a magical time for both of us. He called me Tink.” She smiled, remembering. "Short for Tinkerbell." Then she shook her head. “And then he went to Korea.”
     “I’m sorry,” Jennifer said. “That must’ve been hard.”
     Mildred nodded. “It was. I wrote him every day, and he wrote me whenever he could.” She sighed. With another quick check on her husband, she whispered, “And I saved every last one of his letters, too. They’re still in a box at the back of my closet.”
     “Wow,” Jennifer said. “See? That’s the kind of love I want.”
     Bennie opened his eyes and yawned. “What’s all that yammering about?” he asked. “A man can’t hardly catch a nap around this place.”
     “I’m sorry, Mr. Johnson,” Jennifer said, standing. “Let me just set up your trays before I go.”
     “Oh, don’t mind him,” Mildred said with a crinkly smile. “He’s teasing.”
     He pushed himself into an upright position, and cocked an eyebrow at her. “You still mooning over that Marine, woman?”
     “You were listening!” she scolded.  Then, “No more than you moon over that pretty young thing who danced with you all night.”
     “Oh, wow,” Jennifer breathed, eyes wide.
     “I’ll tell you a secret,” Mildred said.  “If you work at it, that one true love of your life can also be the love of your lifetime.”
     “HOO-rah!” said her husband. “Semper fi, Tink.”

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

Wednesday, January 23, 2013

Pssst... Need a News Fix?

Thought for the day:  If Thomas Edison invented electric light today, the news would report it as "candle-making industry threatened."  [Newt Gringrich]

Hi. My name is Susan. I am an information junkie and newspaper addict. How about you?

As anyone who reads a lot of newspapers can attest, headlines are sometimes written with some mighty questionable word choices. (I mean, come on! Do they even read what they write?) Sure, sometimes the wording might be an intentional play on words, like the headline a friend sent me recently. It's  from a June 14, 1996 Toronto newspaper, and reads, Marijuana issue sent to joint committee.

No argument... that'd be a rather appropriate place to send it, dontcha think? But was the wording intentional... or an inadvertent funny? I dunno. You decide.

It's been quite a while since we took a look at some newspaper headlines that tickle my funnybone, so we're gonna do that today. But first, let's take a quick look at some blogosphere news, shall we?

Remember the False Start Friday idea that Suze came up with last November? Participants got to resurrect a dead snippet of their old writing, dust it off, and then give it a new lease on live by posting it on their blog. Well, it's baaaaack. Only two dates slated for it this time, though: this coming Friday, and the last Friday in February. Wanta get in on the fun? It's probably too late to sign up for this week, but you could always give it a shot. (Might help if you can squeeze out a virtual tear or two while begging Suze to let you in.) If not this week, then how about next month? I promise: no one will throw stones at your baby. And you might be surprised... it just might turn out that you decide to keep that baby in the land of the living and do some more work on it. Who knows? It could happen. Um, I'm not sure why this particular picture is associated with False Starts,  but it doesn't mean you have to write sci-fi. Anything goes.

                                         [Don't trust atoms. They make everything up.]

Coming up next Monday is a blogfest sponsored by a fabulous (and international) foursome: Stephen TrempMark KoopmansElise Fallson, and Carolyn Brown. The idea for that one is, obviously, to briefly introduce yourself to a bunch of bloggers who don't know much of anything about you (Maybe 100 words or so.) No telling what you might have in common with some of the other people you might meet through this fest. Kinda like speed-meeting. You can sign up on any of those four blog links.

[Hello, I love you, won't you tell me your name? Jim Morrison ]

This last blogfest I wanta tell you about isn't gonna take place until March, but telling you now gives you the opportunity to give it some thought. What it, you ask? Suppose you answer your front door one morning and find a box addressed to you... from you. More precisely, from a you ten years in the future. What do you suppose might be in that box? This fest has three super-cool hostesses: Suze... Nicki Elson ... and Mary Pax. Sound like fun? If you wanta take a fun trip back from the future, click on the badge in the sidebar, and register today... or tomorrow... or yesterday. Whatever. Just do it.

[Time travel used to be thought of as just science fiction, but Einstein's general theory of relativity allows for the possibility that we could warp space-time so much that you could go off in a rocket and return before you set out.  Stephen Hawking]

Okay, that's all the bloggie news for now. Ready for some interesting headlines?

Oh, yeah. Just one more thing. Today's thought for the day reminded me of something else. In 1845, Frenchmen Frederic Bastiat wrote a satirical letter to the French Parliament, expressing his tongue-in-cheek concerns regarding the candle-making industry. He wrote: We are suffering from the ruinous competition of a rival who apparently works under conditions so far superior to our own for the production of light that he is flooding the domestic market with it at an incredibly low cost... This rival, which is none other than the sun, is waging war on us... We ask you to be so good as to pass a law requiring the closing of all windows, dormers, skylights...    

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

Monday, January 21, 2013

Cold Enough For Ya?

Thought for the day:  It's been so cold in Texas, my brother's rooster ran into KFC and begged to use the pressure cooker.

Okay, so I lied. Parts of Texas have been bitterly cold this year, (right, Jon?) but not where my brother lives, so none of his chickens have actually made a suicide run to KFC.

So sue me. I thought it was funny.

I don't know where that incredible ice storm picture I found at seniorark was taken, but I do know it's someplace I don't wanta be. How about you? Has it been a cold winter where you live?  I know some of you guys reading this are in the middle of a miserable summer heat wave right now, but most of us are in the middle of winter. Not that you'd know it around here. It was 76 degrees a couple weekends ago, and our daffodils look like they're gonna bloom any day now.

Nonetheless, I trust that some of you are feeling the cold right now, are seeing snow outside your window, and are already daydreaming about springtime. So these are just for you...

How cold is it? It's so cold...
  • Hitchhikers are holding up pictures of a thumb.
  • A recorded message at the  911 center says to call back in the spring.
  • I saw a squirrel throwing himself at an electric fence.
  • My friend chipped a tooth on her soup.
  • The old lady across the street couldn't believe how badly her teeth were chattering last night. They were sitting in a glass at the time. 
  • Starbucks started selling coffee on a stick.
  • When farmers milk their cows, they get ice cream.
  • If you can believe it, politicians have their hands in their OWN pockets.
  • I saw a dog over on Main Street. The poor thing was frozen to the fire hydrant.
  • We have one of those new rain showerheads. I love it, but the other day, when I turned it on, I got hail.
  • My husband and I ate lunch at a greasy spoon yesterday... just for the heartburn.
  • EVERYBODY has a stiff upper lip.

So, let's chat. Wanta know why  cold weather is on my mind today? 

I'll tell ya. Because of Julie Flanders' hot new book with a super cool title:  Polar Night. 

And that's not ALL!


I'm plunging in to help her cover make a big splash!


                                                                   Ready to see it? 

                                                            It is absolutely gorgeous.

                                                                     Chillingly so...


                                      WOW, right? Wanta hear something about the book?

                                                    Take it awaaaaay, Julie:

Book Blurb: When Detective Danny Fitzpatrick leaves his hometown of Chicago and moves to Fairbanks, Alaska he wants nothing more than to escape the violence and heartbreak that left his life in pieces. Numbed by alcohol and the frozen temperatures of an Alaskan winter, Danny is content with a dead-end job investigating Fairbanks' cold cases. That all changes when a pretty blond woman goes missing on the winter solstice, and Danny stumbles upon some surprising connections between her disappearance and that of another Fairbanks woman three years earlier. Forced out of his lethargy, Danny sets out to both find the missing woman and solve his own cold case.

The investigation points Danny towards Aleksei Nechayev, the handsome and charming proprietor of an old asylum turned haunted tourist attraction in the Arctic town of Coldfoot. As he tries to find a link between Nechayev and his case, Danny's instinct tells him that Nechayev is much more than what he seems.

Danny has no idea that Nechayev is hiding a secret that is much more horrifying than anything he could ever have imagined. As his obsession with finding the missing women grows, Danny finds his own life in danger. And when the truth is finally revealed, the world as he knows it will never be the same.

Bio: Julie Flanders is a librarian and a freelance writer who has written for both online and print publications. She is an avid animal lover and shares her home in Cincinnati, Ohio with her dog and cat. Polar Night, a suspense thriller with a supernatural twist, is her first novel. It will be published by Ink Smith Publishing on February 7, 2013. Find Julie online at her blog, on Twitter, and on Facebook.


There ya go. February 7 is the date to remember. Best wishes to Julie for a red hot launch next month.


Okay, I'm on a roll with this whole talking about cold stuff, so I'm gonna share one more thing with you before wrapping it up. You know how the people in some cities pride themselves on being able to handle frigid temperatures better than people in other cities? There have been quite a few funny pieces written along this line about various American cities, and you may have seen some of them. One of the truly cool things about amateur radio is how it opens the door to enjoying friendships with people from all over the world. So, thanks to amateur radio, and specifically to a funny Finnish amateur radio operator, here's a fun piece about cold-weather fortitude... with a bit of an international flair. All temperatures are in degrees Centigrade.
  • +15 --- Spanish wear caps, gloves, and winter coats; Finns are sunbathing.
  • +10 --- French desperately try to get their central heating on; Finns plant flowers.
  • + 5 --- Italian cars won't start; Finns drive convertibles.
  •    0 --- Pure water freezes; water in River Vantaa thickens a bit.
  • - 5 --- First people are found frozen in California; Finnish midsummer festival ends.
  • -10 --- Scots turn the heat on in their houses; Finns start to wear long-sleeved shirts.
  • -20 --- Swedes stay indoors; Finns are having last barbecue before winter.
  • -30 --- Half of the Greek people have been frozen to death; Finns start to dry laundry indoors.
  • -50 --- Polar bears evacuate North Pole; Finnish army starts its winter training.
  • -70 --- Siberians are moving to Moscow; Finns are furious, because their Kiskenkorva liquor can't be stored outdoors anymore.
  • -273 --- Absolute zero; Finns admit that it is quite cold outside.
  • -300 --- Hell freezes over; Finland wins the World Cup.
So, there ya have it. Time for a cuppa hot tea, dontcha think? Or maybe ...  a little nap.


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

Friday, January 18, 2013


Thought for the day:  Both optimists and pessimists contribute to the society. The optimist invents the aeroplane, the pessimist the parachute.  [George Bernard Shaw]

USS Enterprise
After an illustrious 51-year career, USS Enterprise, the world's first nuclear-powered aircraft carrier, was put out to pasture last month. Actor William Shatner, who captained the other Enterprise, with which most people are a lot more familiar, was invited to the December 2 ceremony, but after much bally-ho, was unable to beam in for the auspicious occasion.

(Snap fingers.) Come to think of it, you've probably seen more of this newly decommissioned carrier than you realize. Did you see the movie Top Gun? If so, you saw the Enterprise, because that's where parts of the movie were filmed. Remember those hair-raising landings? If not, take a peek...

                                                   Whew, that's something else, isn't it?

 Guess what? Know what today is? It just so happens to be the anniversary of  the first time a pilot landed an airplane onto a ship. How about that? And just how long ago do you think that might've been? Think it happened with a sleek military jet? Think again.

Meet Eugene Ely, who set his Curtiss Model D Pusher biplane down on the deck of the U.S.S. Pennsylvania while she floated in San Francisco Bay... on January 18, 1911. That's right... just eight short years after the Wright brothers made their first flight at Kitty Hawk. His biplane, equipped with a 60 HP V-8 engine, flew a whopping 50 MPH.

Just a little over two months earlier, Ely successfully completed another experiment: he took off from the deck of the U.S.S. Alabama. But landing... now landing was gonna be a lot more problematic... and airplanes wouldn't be of much use to the Navy if they couldn't take off AND land.

Before Ely could take a whack at the second experiment, a temporary 133-foot long landing strip was built above the afterdeck and gun turret.

Okay, here he comes! Notice the sandbags lining the landing strip? Ely's plane was fitted with an experimental tailhook, and the plan was to stop the plane by snagging that hook onto one or two of the twenty-two ropes strung between those 50-pound sandbags. The ropes were a foot above the deck, and the bags were spaced three feet apart. And I'll betcha Ely's heart was pounding like a jackhammer on speed.


Captain Pond, Pennsylvania's commanding officer, called it the most important landing of a bird since the dove flew back to Noah's ark.

The conquering hero. (Still a little shaky, I'll bet.)

And so it was that the young Eugene Ely's name was entered into the record books. He was the first person in the world to take off from... and land on... a ship. The rest is, as they say... history.

[Unfortunately, he died in a plane crash later that year while performing in an air show at Macon, Georgia. This history-making pilot with a boatload of moxie was only twenty-four years old.]


Landing on the ship during the daytime is like sex: it's either good or it's great. Landing on the ship at night is like a trip to the dentist: you may get away with no pain, but you just don't feel comfortable. [LCDR Thomas Quinn, US Navy]

The three best things in life are a good landing, a good orgasm, and a good bowel movement. The night carrier landing is one of the few opportunities in life to experience all three at the same time. [an unnamed... but honest...  Navy pilot]

Always try to keep the number of landings you make equal to the number of take-offs you've made. [another unnamed... but smartass... Navy pilot]

Flying is the second greatest thrill known to man. Landing is the first.


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

[All of these public domain images come courtesy of the U.S. Naval History Center, the National Air & Space Museum, and good ol' Wikipedia.]

Wednesday, January 16, 2013

Don't Let Gravity Get You Down

Thought for the day:  Just because an apple falls one hundred times out of a hundred does not mean it will fall on the hundred and first.  [Derek Landy]

[credit: Morguefile]
Whether a scientist peers through a telescope, or gazes through an electron microscope, if he's paying attention, he's gonna see evidence of circular motion. Planets circle the sun... electrons circle a nucleus... and just last year, an international study revealed that light travels in a distinct vortex in a silicon chip.

Yet another fascinating mystery about this universe we live in, huh?

Well, a long-time fascination with a similar mystery prompted Stephen to ask in his comment on my Oregon post last Friday why I hadn't mentioned anything about the Oregon Vortex.

Um, simple. To be perfectly honest, I never heard of it before.

So, I decided to learn something about it, and then put together a quickie easy  lazy-assed  marvelously informative post on the subject. As always, my idea of doing a little research turned into another head-first dive into the rabbit hole. (The Internet is a very dangerous place for an information junkie.)

Anyhow, let's give it a (ahem) whirl, shall we?

[credit: Wikipedia]
The red smoke in this picture provides a dramatic visual to illustrate the spherical motion of a vortex. 

The Oregon Vortex is a spherical force field, which we could think of as an invisible whirlpool of concentrated energy. (Kinda like in that picture... minus the red.) Along with that force field comes gravitational anomalies... a scientific way of saying weird stuff happen. 

Gravity is a contributing factor in nearly 73 percent of all accidents involving falling objects.  [Dave Barry]

[credit: Morguefile]
The environment around the vortex defies gravity, bends light, scares animals, twists plant life into contorted shapes, and gives people an eerie feeling...

The Oregon Vortex, located in Gold Hill, isn't the only vortex in the world. Matter of fact, it isn't even the only one in the United States. Other well-known spots in the U.S. include Mt. Shasta, CA, Hungry Horse, MT, and four areas in Sedona, AZ. (There are plenty of others, too, maybe even the Spook Hill we visited in Florida last year.)

Numerous articles equate these worldwide vortexes to Earth chakras, and say that ancient civilizations purposely built sacred monuments on these spots... like Stonehenge and the Great Pyramids, among others. Earth's seven major chakras are described as follows;

  • Mt. Shasta --- California, U.S.A.
  • Lake Titicaca --- border of Bolivia & Peru
  • Uluru-Katatjuta --- Australia
  • Glastonbury & Shaftsbury --- England
  • Great Pyramids of Giza & Mt. Sinai; Mt. of Olives, Jerusalem
  • Kuh-e Malek Siah --- borders of Iran, Afghanistan & Pakistan
  • Mt. Kailas --- Tibet
Those are allegedly the spots of most concentrated energies, but there's a whole network of interconnected energy fields around the world... some positive, some negative. Maps showing the locations and connectivity of these areas remind me of a cosmic sine wave girding the planet's waistline. Weird. 

Articles comparing these vortexes to human chakras, and mentioning such things as being at one with the universe seem very New Age-y, but then again, like it says in Ecclesiastes: There is no new thing under the sun. 

Just some things we don't yet understand

Like the Oregon Vortex... where people inexplicably lean toward magnetic north, bottles roll uphill, and people seem to grow and shrink. Wanta see? Here's a couple videos. I know your time is valuable, so here's a short one, if you just want a peek...

And a longer one, if you care to see a little more... 

                                     Fascinating, huh? Did you already know about this stuff? 

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

[credit: seniorark]

                                You can't blame gravity for falling in love.  [Albert Einstein]

Monday, January 14, 2013

Watch Your Language!

Thought for the day:  Man invented language to satisfy his deep need to complain.  [Lily Tomlin]

Book-burning is abhorrent, but aren't there some overused words and phrases you'd like to see blown to smithereens?  Like the inexplicable trend these days of taking perfectly good nouns, slapping an -ize or -ate on their behinds, and then using them as verbs: We need to strategize fast, because we're about to destinate. 

I mean, reeeeally? That's like putting a saddle on my cat and trying to enter her in the Kentucky Derby.

Tell me, what pet words and phrases did you and your friends latch onto as teenagers? With me, everything was either gross, neat, or cool, and my friends and I  came up with scathingly brilliant ideas. Oh, and how about this one? Tough toenails... you grew 'em, you chew 'em! Or Gotta make like a tree and leave. And just a couple more I'm real proud to claim: That's enough to gag a maggot, and Gag me with a spoon.

But, to be fair, teenagers aren't the only ones who adopt pet words and then kill them through overuse, are they? Remember the phase a couple decades ago when it seemed like everybody called absolutely everything awesome? We knew a gal who used to say the word absurd so much, it was completely... absurd. My fifth year French teacher salted her lessons with the phrase c'est a dire, but I'm telling ya, she didn't sprinkle; she pulled the top off the shaker and dumped the whole thing. I have it on (ahem) good authority that  she once said it a whopping 138 times in the course of a 50-minute session.

Well, here's the thing... did you know there's such a thing as an annual Banished Word List?

 Ooooh, I'm telling you, it's enough to give an English teacher goosebumps.

Yep, in his efforts to promote Lake Superior University, fun-loving PR Director Bill Rabe came up with some scathingly brilliant ideas, including a tongue-in-cheek list of banished words. Every year since he released the first list to the media on January 1, 1976, hundreds of nominations have poured in from all over the world, helping to keep this tradition alive.

So. Wanta hear what made the list this year?

  • fiscal cliff
  • kick the can down the road
  • double down
  • job creators/creation
  • passion/passionate
  • YOLO  (You only live once)
  • spoiler alert
  • bucket list
  • trending
  • superfood
  • boneless wings
  • guru
(Um, I ask you, what in the world is wrong with passion?) Anyhow, so tell me, what words or phrases would YOU like to see drop kicked to the moon? For me, it's any way, shape, or form. How about you?

Go ahead... I'm all ears.

To give you an idea of some past picks:
  • at this point in time (1976)
  • by and large (1987)
  • close proximity (1990)
  • in my humble opinion (1992)
  • orientate (1988)
  • peacekeeping force (1996)
  • phone tag (1997)
  • refudiate (2011)
  • same difference (1987)
  • truthiness (2007)
If you're interested, here's where you can see the full alphabetized list of banned words, as well as a place to suggest words that peg your annoy-o-meter.

Language has created the word 'loneliness' to express the pain of being alone. And it has created the word 'solitude' to express the glory of being alone. [Paul Tillich]

If the English language made any sense, a catastrophe would be an apostrophe with fur.  [Gary Larson]

Political language ... is designed to make lies sound truthful and murder respectable, and to give an appearance of solidity to pure wind.  [George Orwell]

I think it would be cool if you were writing a ransom note on your computer, if the paper clip popped up and said, 'Looks like you're writing a ransom note. Need help? You should use more forceful language, you'll get more money.'   [Demetri Martin]

Slang is a language that rolls up its sleeves, spits on its hands, and goes to work. [Carl Sandburg]

Language is wine upon the lips.  [Virginia Woolf]

                                      Hmmm, I believe I'll have a glass of red ... language.

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

Friday, January 11, 2013

A Tiny Park and Titanic Tatas

Thought for the day:  Portland, Oregon, won't build a mile of road without building a mile of bike path.   [Lance Armstrong]

Betcha thought we were never gonna get back to our virtual state tours, didn't ya? Well, here we are, better late than never, prepared to visit  the beautiful state of Oregon, AKA the Wet-Foot State. With as much as 180 inches of rain per year, it's understandable where that nickname came from, but with all the bike paths, hiking trails, and beautiful sights to see, it could just as well be called the Great Outdoors State. (when it isn't raining, of course)

The man of gold shown in the picture stands tall atop the state's capitol building. Called Oregon Pioneer, this statue, created by Uric Ellerhuson, pays proud homage to the spirit of Oregon's early settlers, a spirit which, one could argue, still exists in the heart of the state's hearty rain-soaked souls of today.

Okay, ready to check out some pictures?

This is Crater Lake. Isn't the color gorgeous? The deepest lake in the United States, it is literally located in a crater... yep, in the remains of an old volcano.

Not just the deepest lake, but also the deepest canyon is located in Oregon. Hell's Canyon, at 8000 feet deep, is the deepest gorge in North America.

Stuff doesn't just go down deep here; it also reaches for the sky. Mount Hood has to be one of the most picturesque spots in the state.

This is one of the waterfalls located in Silver Falls State Park. There are nine others located within this park, as well as a ton of forested trails, including 24 miles of hiking trails, 14 miles of horseback riding trails, and 4 miles of bike trails. Sounds like an outdoor paradise, doesn't it?

Sea Lion Caves, located near Florence, were first discovered in 1881, and are the largest known sea caves in the world.

Flowstone Cave, located at Oregon Caves National Monument. Pretty neat-looking, huh?

Not everything is Oregon is about the deepest, or the tallest, or the largest. Sometimes, it's about the smallest. Mill's End Park, in Portland, happens to be the world's smallest official park. It's two feet across, and was created in 1948... for leprechauns. Every St. Patrick's Day, it's the site for (ready?) snail races. In addition to the smallest park, Oregon also boasts the shortest river: the D River, measuring 121' feet long. (That's pretty darned long for a snail!)

The Darlingtonia, or cobra lily, only grows naturally in an area from central Oregon south to central California. The Darlingtonia Wayside, near Florence, is an eighteen-acre rare plant sanctuary and botanical preserve, featuring this plant and others.

The International Rose Test Garden is also located in Oregon. Here, roses from all over the world are tutored, so they can pass their high school equivalency tests. ( Just checking to see if you were paying attention.) At these gardens, located near Portland, more than 500 varieties of roses are cultivated.

There's plenty of things for history lovers to see in Oregon, too. Like Ft. Clatsop National Memorial, where you can visit a replica of the Lewis-Clark outpost of 1805-06.

Tired of all the outdoorsy stuff? Then, maybe you'd enjoy the Carousel Museum, containing the largest (of course!) collection of carousel horses in the world. Or maybe you'd prefer the Columbia Gorge Interpretive Center, where you can see the world's largest rosary collection, including the one carried by JFK during WWII.

Roses and cobra lilies aren't the only things cultivated in Oregon. So is an appreciation for Shakespeare. This Elizabethan Theater, located in Ashland, presents eleven plays a year on three different stages. Approximately half of them are Shakespearean.

I've saved a touch of whimsy for last. In Bend, Oregon, there's an unusual place called the Funny Farm, where you can find such things as a bowling ball garden, an electrical kaleidoscope that shows psychedelic Wizard of Oz images, a tire totem pole, and a dead Halloween mask burial grounds. Oh, and you can even buy bowling ball seeds in the gift shop, just in case you'd like to start your very own bowling ball garden at home. Too funny, huh? Care to take a quick trip to the Funny Farm???

Okay, ready to see what kind of cockamamie laws are still languishing on the books in the wild and woolly state of Oregon? Oh, by the way, as a point of interest, the Oregon state flag is the only one in the country that has a different image on the flip side. (It's a beaver.)

  • Drivers must yield to pedestrians who are standing on the sidewalk. (Um, or they could just drive on the street...)
  • It's against the law for a driver to test his physical endurance while driving a car on the highway. (So... no running while driving, huh?)
  • It's illegal to place a container of human feces on the side of any highway. (Well, darn...)
  • It's against the law to carry a baby on a car's running board. (But, officer, the kid wouldn't stop crying...)
  • Dishes must drip dry. (Drop that towel, lady, or I'm gonna have to take you in...)
  • It's illegal to whisper dirty words in a lover's ear during sex. (Who's gonna tell?)
  • Sorry, but you can't eat ice cream on a Sunday. (Well, now, that's just plain wrong.)
  • It's illegal to buy or sell marijuana, but it IS legal to smoke it on your own property.
  • In Eugene, it's against the law to show movies or attend a car race on a Sunday.
  • In Hood River, juggling is strictly prohibited without a license.
  • In Klamath River, it's illegal to walk down a sidewalk and knock a snake's head off with your cane. (Step off the sidewalk first, silly.)
  • In Marion, you can't eat a doughnut while walking backwards on a city street.
  • Ministers there are also forbidden from eating garlic or onions before delivering a sermon. (Yeah, I guess garlic and onions could give a whole new meaning to fire and brimstone...)
  • In Myrtle Creek, it's illegal to box with a kangaroo. (But dancing is fine.)
  • In Portland, it's against the law to walk down the street with your shoelaces untied. (One word: velcro.)
  • It's also illegal there to hold a wedding at a skating rink, to wear roller skates in the restroom, or to whistle underwater.
  • In Salem, it's against the law for women to wrestle. (Not even in jello?)
  • In Stanfield, it's illegal for any animals to have sex within the city limits. (HEY! You dogs cut that out!)
  • And finally, in Yamhill, it's against the law to predict the future, or to leave your cellar door open. (Can't let any fortune tellers sneak in on the ground floor, now, can we?)

Okay, it's that time again, boys and girls. Time for (ta-DA!)

The Weirdest News Stories of the Week

circa 1941
***  London's oldest working fish smokehouse, built in 1880, survived WWII, but alas,  it may not survive a modern-day neighbor's complaint. A Luftwaffe bomb only shut the place down for a couple days, but a neighbor who's averse to the smoke and fishy smell may shut it down for good. But here's the thing: the complaining neighbor moved into apartments that were built next to the smokehouse just six years ago, and then he built a wooden studio type building--- right next to its chimney. Just for the halibut, I ask you: what kind of person moves next door to a fish-smoking facility, and then has the audacity to complain about the fishy smoke??? Never mind. I already know. The same kind of person who buys a house next to an airport, and then complains about the noisy airplanes. I hope officials are able to resolve the situation soon and the Purkis family can once again start smoking fish, because I tell ya what, London will be singing an unhappy tuna if there's a shortage of kippers.

*** Okay, so I know there's a stiff competition between news stations, and the naked truth is, the general public really does tend to be painfully unaware of what's going on in the world around them, but, is this the solution? Recently, on Swedish TV, while a news anchor blithely  interviewed a Moscow correspondent about the situation in Syria, a porn movie played on one of the screens behind her. For ten minutes. While the onscreen activity might have piqued the interest of certain members of the viewing audience, it's highly unlikely any of them heard a single word of the interview.

*** If ya got it, flaunt it, huh? Seems to be the strategy for at least one buxom beauty, anyway. I really wouldn't call it the breast way to make money, but the young lady is attempting to turn her titanic tatas into a treasure chest... by selling (you ready?) advertising space on them. I guess she figures, companies advertise on a bus... so why not on a bust? In her ad, which first appeared on a Czech Republic website, she says, Send me your message, and I'll send you a picture of it written on my breasts. Customers can rent one breast for five pounds, or get a two-fer bargain for only nine. No telling how many takers she's gotten so far, but after her ad got reposted (and reposted... and reposted...) to Facebook, one cheeky gentleman suggested a way for her to make even more money. He said he'd pay double... if she let him write the message himself. Sheesh. What a boob.

***  What a crappy thing to do. Thieves in Alberta, Canada, had the chutzpah to steal a man's outhouse right out from under him. Well, not literally. But they did take it. Just two months after a farmer and his son finished building the new privy, thieves came in the middle of the night and stole it away, leaving naught behind for the poor farmer to find in the morning but a gaping hole in the ground. He's offering a reward for the return of his toilet, but alas, the police have nothing to go on. And sadly... neither does the farmer.

Have a super weekend. Until next time, take care of yourselves. And each other.