Friday, January 31, 2014

Don't Forget to Say Thanks

Thought for the day:  Words are the most powerful drug used by mankind.  [Rudyard Kipling]

Yep, words are powerful. They can be wielded to create lasting images, to express and arouse heady emotions, and the most memorable of them may linger in our minds and hearts for a lifetime. But let's just consider two of them... the words thank you.

Although most people don't seem to place much value on handwritten thank you notes these days, I'm guessing that most of you spent time at the kitchen table as children, legs swinging and tongue peeking out the corner of your mouth, as you hunched over a sheet of paper and wrote those Christmas and birthday thanks for the swell socks and underwear messages. Some of you may have rebelled against the practice as adults, or maybe you're like me, and still think of thank you notes as an appropriate way to express appreciation, and still write them. (Minus the swinging legs and protruding tongue, of course.) But it wasn't until about a year ago that I realized I'd been terribly remiss in expressing another kind of thanks. Most of you are avid readers. Have you ever considered the idea that a book... any book... is like a gift to the world from its author? And maybe, just maybe, some thanks are in order?

                                                        And by thanks,  I mean ... a review.

You have no idea how very much writers crave and relish readers' reviews. Heck, that direct feedback from (hopefully) appreciative readers means more than the darned paycheck. (Okay, okay, okay, so maybe not to the millionaires...) But to most writers. And guess what? Through places like Amazon and Goodreads, it's oh-so-easy for anyone to publish a review these days, so you, too, can now send a thank you to your favorite writers.

Nowadays, I only review books I really like. It's cowardly, I know, but I figure it's not my job to make people unhappy. I'll leave that to the professionals.  [Meg Rosoff]

I'm kinda like Ms. Rosoff. I never sink my teeth into a book to draw blood, and have written only a handful of reviews with less than a three-star rating. When it comes to books written by fellow bloggers, I follow Thumper's philosophy: If ya can't say something nice, don't say nothing at all.  If I vehemently DO NOT LIKE a fellow blogger's book, I simply skip the review, and keep my mouth shut. Cowardly? Maybe, but why be intentionally hurtful, right? I know first-hand how much work goes into writing a book. (The downside of that is when I know someone has my book and never says beans about it, I don't know if that means that person isn't into writing reviews, or they vehemently DO NOT LIKE my work, and I should maybe consider taking my untalented butt to the nearest bridge and jumping off.)  

Abuse is often of service. There is nothing so dangerous to an author as silence.  [Samuel Johnson]

Believe it or not, a writer's delight in receiving feedback doesn't end with the achievement of fame and fortune. Prolific author Joyce Carol Oates said,  A good sympathetic review is always a wonderful surprise. How about that? Even Joyce Carol Oates does a happy dance when she gets a good review. And, what's more... she's surprised. 

So, bottom line, please consider writing a review for the next book you read... it doesn't have to be fancy or long... to express your appreciation. Many writers have actually thanked me for reviews I've written, so it really does matter to them, and not just to their egos. In today's world, it also matters to their Amazon ranking. Pure and simple, the more reviews a book has on Amazon, the higher it'll move up in the rankings. Fair? Maybe not. But that's the way it goes.

Now then, I'd like to tell you about a WONDERFUL book I won through one of the Goodreads giveaways. (By the way, readers who write timely reviews for the books they win through those giveaways have a better chance of winning more of them. I've won four since the beginning of the year.)

Anyhow, this book was an utter delight to read, and (no surprise) the pictures are fantastic, too. In his fifty plus years as a news photographer, Dennis Brack's camera has captured many important moments in history, and in Presidential Picture Stories, he offers intimate background stories behind some of the photos taken by him and other White House photographers. Not only does he provide the inside scoop on the photographs and photographers, but he also provides a fascinating behind-the-scenes look at Presidents Wilson through Obama... and some of their families. If you have an interest in historical tidbits, or have a thing for photography, you'll love this book. It's a quality piece of work, and one you can be be proud to add to your library. The only reason I gave it five stars is because that's as high as the rating system goes.

I'm pleased to say that Dennis, who still covers the White House,  returned home from a trip overseas just in time to respond to a handful of questions for this post. (What a guy!)

1. So how does a photographer end up with a coveted White House assignment? Did you shoot for that goal, or was it more a matter of serendipity and being in the right place at the right time? (Oh, yeah, and of course... talent.)

Basically, how do photographers get the White House assignment.  The photographers get the assignment when they are at the top of their game. Many wire service photographers have been in critical bureaus over the years.  Quite a few have come from bureaus in the Far East.  Others have come from cities across the US and have covered political campaigns.  For example Jim Bourg who is head of Reuters photos in DC came from  Boston and covered the primaries for years before coming to town . Brooks Kraft worked for TIME in the Boston area and is now in Washington.

2. Do you think having an artistic eye for capturing memorable photographs is basically an innate talent, or can it be learned?

A good eye helps, especially on feature pictures. J. Scott Applewhite is a good example.  Scotty had covered wars for the Associated Press for decades, (Scotty and I were the two pool photographers for the first days of  the first Gulf War... a wonderful man).  Now Scotty is assigned to Capitol Hill, but often you will see a fantastic feature picture in the papers by J.Scott Applewhite.  As you can see, I am a big fan.

3. Politics aside, which president did you photographers find to be the most approachable and cooperative? Which was the least? How about the spouses?

 No politics needed.  Bush 41 would be the favorite of most  photographers who have been around for a while.  Nancy Reagan would be the favorite First Lady.  Some presidents have been more difficult to cover.  President Carter cut the press office staff by 20% which led to poor advance work and poor pictures.  I doubt if any photographer was happy during that time. 

4. Of all the photographs you've taken, is there one that stands out in your mind as your best, and of which you're most proud? Tell us about it.  

Which of my photographs is the best. Standard answer: the Pulitzer Prize winning photo that I will take tomorrow.

[HERE'S one of Dennis' photos, showing the Reagans at Normandy. Amazing, isn't it?]

5. What was your favorite travel assignment in the line of duty? The most dangerous?

 Favorite travel assignment?  I spent a month with the Nelson Rockefellers in Seal Harbour, Maine right before he was picked to be Vice President.  I was working for TIME. In August, there were never any hotel rooms so the Rockefellers let the TIME reporter and me stay in their garage. Don't worry, a Rockefeller garage is not like an ordinary garage.

 Most dangerous?  All of the riots in the sixties.

6. Anything else you'd like to add?

The picture.  We have a saying.  "F8 and be there."  Being there is the most important part.


Many thanks to Dennis for taking the time to respond to these questions. He's a pretty cool dude, huh? (SEE what neat people you can meet by writing a review...?) And thank you, Dennis, for sharing so much with us with this wonderful book.

During his illustrious career, award-winning photojournalist (and pretty cool dude) Dennis Brack has covered ten presidential administrations and a host of major news stories all around the world. Those of you who live near the Austin, Texas area can see a collection of some of his photos at the Briscoe Center at the University of Texas, because in 2012, he donated a 150,000-slide archive to the center.

[I cannot say enough good things about this book. Really. Check it out on Amazon.]


Because of the Goodreads giveaway for Hot Flashes and Cold Lemonade, my book is now considerably more well-traveled than I am. To tell the truth, I had some major concerns as to whether readers in Lithuania, the Netherlands, the Philippines, and Kenya would be able to relate to the story and my weird sense of humor, but to my surprise and delight, the Kenyan gentleman who won it has already written a lovely review. So Jeremiah... thank you. I hope you win many many more books.

One last thing. For all you folks who read e-books, check out Bookbub. Once you join and answer some questions about the kinds of books you most enjoy, you'll receive a daily email from them, listing a number of reduced price and FREE books. (I must confess; I'm addicted.) Oh, if you join, it sure would be nice if you wrote a review for any books you get through them. Authors pay a good bit of money to have their books listed on there, and often offer it to readers for FREE. So what's in it for them? Reviews, reviews, reviews... and a (woo HOO!) better ranking on Amazon.


He was such a bad writer, they revoked his poetic license.  [Milton Berle]

Honest criticism is hard to take, particularly from a relative, a friend, an acquaintance, or a stranger.  [Franklin Jones]

Asking a working writer what he thinks about critics is like asking a lamppost how it feels about dogs.  [Christopher Hampton]

Confronted by an absolutely infuriating review it is sometimes helpful for the victim to do a little personal research on the critic. Is there any truth to the rumor that he had no formal education beyond the age of eleven? In any event, is he able to construct a simple English sentence? Do his participles dangle? When moved to lyricism, does he write, "I had a fun time."? Was he ever arrested for burglary? I don't know that you will prove anything this way, but it is perfectly harmless, and quite soothing. [Jean Kerr]

Nature fits all her children with something to do. He who would write and can't write can surely review.  [James Russell Lowell]

A good day is one where I can not just read a book, but write a review of it.  [Christopher Hitchens]

From the moment I picked up your book up until I laid it down, I convulsed with laughter. Someday, I intend on reading it.  [Groucho Marx]

I'm writing a book. I've got the page numbers done.  [Stephen Wright]

                                             So have you read any good books lately?

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

Friday, January 24, 2014

I'm Not Buying It

Thought for the day:  The very rich are different from you and me.  [F.Scott Fitzgerald]

Well, obviously, people who have enough money to wipe their tushes with hundred-dollar bills have a lot more money than we do, but that isn't the only thing that sets them apart from the rest of us. Numerous studies have shown that the wealthy tend to behave differently, too. And many of them have attitudes of entitlement.

For example, consider these tidbits gleaned from Jim Winokur's book The Rich Are Different: 

*  When Christina Onassis got thirsty, she ordered Diet Coke... to be flown to her by private jet.
* Ivana Trump hated to see footprints on the carpet in her house. In fact, she hated it so much, she wouldn't even enter a room unless the rug was freshly vacuumed.
* The Sultan of Brunei flew the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles to London for his son's ninth birthday. The cost? A cool million bucks.
* Woolworth heiress Barbara Hutton was often carried around by a hunky attendant. When asked why, she said, "Why should I walk when I can hire someone to do it for me?"
* When one-time Time Warner boss Steve Ross flew his wife and two other couples to Mexico for Christmas, the trip required two corporate planes... one for the people, and one for the gifts.
* Donald Trump's 727 had 24-carat gold belt buckles.

Having more money doesn't make you happier. I have fifty million dollars, but I'm just as happy as I was when I had forty-eight million.  [Arnold Schwarzenegger]

When I was in elementary school, our principal would often pop into our classroom, and when he did, he usually told us a silly joke. One of those jokes was about a pet parrot named Enza. The family was very distraught because their beloved parrot had escaped through an open window, but the punch line delivered a happy... and corny... ending. When they left the window open again... In Flew Enza. Okay, so he wasn't the world's best comedian, but it's gotta mean something that I can still remember that punch line after all these years.

Well, ya know what you get when you combine  influenza with affluence? You get a whole new word to describe an affliction that strikes only the wealthy: affluenza. 

That word burst into my consciousness this past December, but it actually isn't a new concept. In fact, the term may have been coined as far back as 1954, and PBS ran a special by that name in 1997. British psychologist Oliver James defined the term several years ago as placing a high value on money, possessions, appearances, and fame. In their 2006 book, called Affluenza: When Too Much is Never Enough, Australian psychologists Clive Hamilton and Richard Denniss concluded that wealth causes over-consumption and materialism, and inevitably leads those poor little rich kids to self-medicate with booze and drugs.

Some people made a teensy bit of fun at the idea of affluenza:

But this past December, the unthinkable happened. It was used as a defense in a criminal trial.

Was this a case of the scales of justice being blatantly tipped to favor the wealthy? You decide.

The case: Sixteen-year-old Texan Ethan Couch and seven of his friends stole and drank two cases of beer. The other boys allegedly begged Couch to slow down, but he was still driving the pickup truck thirty MPH over the speed limit when he plowed into four people at the side of the road. And killed them. Eleven others were injured. Two of his friends were thrown from the bed of the truck, one of whom will be paralyzed for the rest of his life. Couch? He fled on foot, yelling, "I'm Ethan Couch! We'll get out of this." Three hours after the accident, his blood alcohol level still measured three times the legal limit, and a trace of valium lingered in his blood.

Bottom line, he was right. He did get out of it. This wasn't his first run-in with the law, either. He'd already been charged with underage drinking before, and he was found with an unconscious, undressed fourteen year-old girl in his truck, too. The consequences? Nuttin, honey.

It's all about the affluenza. His lawyer said he suffers from it, and needed rehabilitation, not prison. G. Dick Miller, a psychologist hired by the family, said the boy was a product of affluenza, and thus, unable to link his bad behavior with consequences because he had been raised to believe wealth buys privilege.

I'm not buying it, but evidently the judge did. She sentenced him to alcohol rehabilitation and ten years' probation. The posh California rehab center looks like a resort... and will cost the family almost half a million dollars a year.

So, I ask you, if his so-called affliction was caused by a lack of consequences, how exactly does shielding him yet again from the consequences of his behavior cure that affliction? Talk about the ultimate irony. How will getting out of it change his behavior?

And if essentially what is an innocent by reason of wealth is a valid defense, shouldn't innocent by reason of poverty be a valid plea as well? If a kid can get a slap on the wrist for being over-privileged, doesn't an under-privileged kid deserve the same consideration?

Lawyers believe a man is innocent until proven broke.  [Robin Hall]

Yeah, right. I wouldn't give a plug nickel's chance of that ever working. Matter of fact, in 2012, the same judge who sentenced Couch to rehab and probation sentenced another fourteen-year-old to ten years in juvenile detention. He punched a man, and the man fell, hit his head, and died. That young man was black. Okay, so that may not have had anything to do with the ruling, but let's just say... he wasn't named Ethan Couch. And I doubt very seriously if he or his family were troubled with an overabundance of funds.

And so it goes.

                                               So what do you think...?

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

Friday, January 17, 2014

How to Bridge the Gap

Thought for the day:  Generation gap: A chasm, amorphously situated in time and space, that separates those who have grown up absurd from those that will, with luck, grow up absurd.  [Bernard Rosenberg]

I never saw anything about it in the Bible, but I wouldn't be at all surprised if someone told me the Old Testament Patriarchs had a major problem with how their teenage sons and daughters wore their hair... or talked... or walked. Heck, I wouldn't even be surprised if cavemen and women harassed their teens over the length of their loincloths.

 Because I suspect there has always been such a thing as ...

                                         The           Generation               Gap.

The problem is, young people insist on growing up, (the little ingrates) and they instinctively rebel against the restraints of childhood. Unfortunately, their chosen forms of self-expression and independence are rarely appreciated by the older generations. (Whose own means of self-expression weren't appreciated by their elders, either.) Don't believe me? Let's take a peek at some teenage fads over the years, shall we?

The older generation thought nothing of getting up at five every morning — and the younger generation doesn't think much of it, either.  [John J. Welsh]

Okay, so the fella in this picture doesn't look all that young, but young people are the ones who started the whole flagpole-sitting frenzy in the 1920s. I'm talking loooong periods of time sitting on a teensy platform mounted on a pole. Making and breaking longevity records. Why? Beats me. I wasn't around back then, but I'm pretty sure I would've been one of the bystanders popping salted peanuts and gawking up at the idiot perched atop a pole rather than being one of the idiots sitting up there myself. (Heck, I never even liked sitting on a banana seat...)

Of course, the twenties was the roaring era of flappers, jazz, raccoon coats, bright red lipstick, and the Charleston dance craze, too. Can you imagine how parents reacted to some of those trends? (gasp!) The girls even let their knees show!

It's hard for me to get used to these changing times. I can remember when the air was clean and sex was dirty.  [George Burns]

The thirties saw the onset of stoop ball and stick ball... which those lame-brained rebellious kids had the audacity to play right in the middle of the street. Okay, 'fess up. Any of you play those games? I did, only we called it curb ball, and I'd hazard a guess that parents were no happier about ball games played in the street in the '30s than they were in the '50s.

Swallowing live goldfish was one of the most popular fads of the '40s. Believe it or not, some kids claimed the goldfish were still alive when they came back out. I dunno about that, but I think we can all agree to a certain ick factor in the notion of anyone turning a pet goldfish into a twitching mid-afternoon snack.

There is nothing wrong with today's teenager that twenty years won't cure. [unknown]

The fifties boasted much more (ahem) sensible teenage fads such as poodle skirts, saddle shoes, and bobby socks. (Anybody remember sock hops?) Lots of guys wore shiny black Cuban-heeled shoes... or had taps on their shoes, so they made a distinctively cool sound when they walked through the school halls. And don't forget turned-up collars, black chino pants, and form-fitting white tee shirts with a pack of Camels tucked into a rolled-up sleeve.

Panty raids got their start in the fifties, too. The first one took place on March 21, 1952, at the University of Michigan, when about six hundred male students stormed a girls' dormitory, and exited with a bountiful booty of swiped underwear. This invasive fad continued across the country for the rest of the decade, and then fizzled out in the '60s. Makes sense. I reckon when the era of  free love blossomed, stealing undies seemed kinda lame... and tame...  by comparison.

Any of you guys recognize this haircut? Typically called the D.A., (short for duck's ass) the boys who wore it were often called greasers, because it took a healthy dab of grease to keep the hair in place. Thanks to stars like James Dean and Elvis Presley, long sideburns were popular, too. It's a pretty safe bet that there were a lot of inter-generational arguments over these hairdos. Especially since they came on the heels of crew cuts and flat tops.

Another fad of the fifties was telephone booth stuffing, where just like it sounds... the object was to squeeze ever-increasing numbers of kids into telephone booths. Or into little cars. Whatever. Not the most pleasant experience for the kids at the bottom of the heap, I'm sure. And not too terribly popular with their parents, either.

The sixties spawned tie-dye shirts, mini-skirts, go-go boots, granny glasses, hair ironing, bouffant hairdos, (Beehive, anyone?) Afros, mood rings, love beads, platform shoes, and bell-bottoms britches.

There was no respect for youth when I was young, and now that I am old, there is no respect for age — I missed it coming and going.  [J.B. Priestly]

Platform shoes hobbled onto the scene in the seventies. (I must confess: I still have a bright red patent leather pair.) I dunno if this was exactly a younger generation fad, since I was well past my teens then, but other fads included streaking, Earth shoes, string art, pet rocks, and ... ready? Eating glass. Yeah, glass. (Gives a whole new meaning to belly crunches, doesn't it?) That nutso fad started with a professional football player, who, I suppose, wanted to prove how tough (but not bright) he was by munching on beer mugs and light bulbs. Unfortunately, young people... especially college students... started to follow suit. Thank goodness, they wised up. I guess they saw the light.

Thanks largely to Madonna, fingerless lace gloves were all the rage in the '80s. Kinda cute, right? And harmless. I'm not sure if they started out as part of the Goth movement or not, but they certainly complemented the Goth look: all black clothes, dyed jet black hair, and even black nail polish and lipstick. Not my cuppa tea, but I guess that fad was harmless enough, too. They just looked like the leading edge of  the walking dead. Come to think of it, I guess they more resembled vampires. Without the fangs.

Body piercing and prolific tattoos became ultra-popular in the nineties, and are both still common today.

Most of the fads since then have been pretty tame. Low-rise jeans. (No worse than the hot pants we used to wear... just longer.) Thongs. (AKA tush floss.)

But there is one fad that absolutely positively drives me up the wall. Finally, and to the point of this post, I present to you one fad, and I can't help but wonder if it's a worldwide phenomenon, or if American youth are the only ones infected with this bizarre manner of so-called self expression...


                                                                I present to you

                                                          the incomprehensible fad,

                                                          the fad driving adults nuts

                                                          from one end of this country

                                                                   to the other.

                                                                I present the fad

                                                                     known as...



I mean, really? Do you think that's... comfortable? Suppose those kids had to run? Lotsa luck with that, huh? Every time I see kids with their pants drooping below their drawers, my fingers start to twitch, and I'm seized with an almost uncontrollable urge to yank up their britches so hard, it gives 'em all atomic wedgies. And it seems I'm not alone. Check this out:

How about you? Do you get this fad? Contrary to some of the emails you may have seen about it originating in prison as a way for an inmate to let other inmates know he's available for certain activities, that's just a bum steer. Droopy britches may very well have originated in prisons because of ill-fitting pants and no belts to hold them up, but according to multiple sources, it didn't have anything to do with sexual availability. Still... why would young people want to emulate something that may have originated in prison anyway, whatever the meaning?

(Then again, maybe we should just be grateful these kids aren't wearing thongs...?)

This whole post was predicated by a cartoon created by an award-winning Australian cartoonist named Tim Whyatt. Not only is he funny, but he nailed the solution to this angst-inspiring fad of low-hanging pants and exposed skivvies in one of his cartoons. What's more, he agreed to let me share his cartoons with you from time to time, as long as I link back to his webpage and facebook page. Done... and done. Now, want to see his brilliant solution? I guarantee you it'd work if we of the older generations merely attempt to bridge that gap by joining into a united front... (heh, heh... and back...)

                                                                        Ta DA!

Tell me about your favorite... or least favorite... teenage fad. What did you do to drive your parents nuts? What did your kids... or grandkids... do to drive you nuts? Ready to bare your undies in a concerted effort to end the sagging trend once and for all?

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

P.S. As a bonus, a fella from Atlanta sang this song on American Idol last year...

[Many thanks to wikipedia and morguefile for the images used in this post.]

Friday, January 10, 2014

The Cold Truth

Thought for the day:  Cheers to a new year and another chance to get it right.  [Oprah Winfrey]

You guys still there???

Ta DA! I'm ba-a-a-a-ck! Better late than never, right? Oh, and by the way, if you didn't happen to notice my semi-lengthy absence from the ol' blogosphere, kindly have the decency to keep that rather unflattering fact to yourself, okay? After all, (harumph) an old lady needs her illusions...

 More importantly, let me wish you all a very HAPPY NEW YEAR! Jeez, it's hard to believe it's the tenth already, isn't it? I hope your Holiday celebrations were off-the-chart terrific, and your new year is off to a stellar start.

Mark Twain said, Now is the time to make your regular annual good resolutions. Next week you can begin paving the road to hell with them as usual.  So... now that we've passed that first week milestone, how you doing so far? I'm pleased to say I haven't broken a single resolution yet. (Then againI never make any.)

The weather is warming up quite nicely now, but earlier this week, most of the country... including Georgia... was painfully c-c-c-c-old. And since it's kinda late in the month to babble about our (old news!) Christmas and New Year's celebrations, or about the galloping case of pink eye I'm still recovering from, (Why do they call it pink when it's actually bright bloody red...?) how's about if I babble about the cold?

                                                                    As in...

How cold was it? It was so cold...

*  Hitchhikers were holding up pictures of a thumb.
* A recorded message at the  911 center said 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 on Tuesday night. They were sitting in a glass at the time.
* Chickens have been running into KFC, and begging to be thrown into the deep fryer.
* Starbucks started selling coffee on a stick.
* When farmers milked their cows, they got ice cream.
* If you can believe it, politicians had 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.
* Smarticus and I ate lunch at a greasy spoon on Wednesday... just for the heartburn.
EVERYBODY had a stiff upper lip.

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. My brother is coming for a visit, so I'll see you guys again next Friday. Matter of fact, Friday-only posts may become the norm for me in 2014. It's time for me to decide if I'm a writer who blogs... or a blogger who writes. That next book ain't gonna write itself... (Dammit.)

Be at war with your vices, at peace with your neighbors, and let each New Year find you a better man.  {Benjamin Franklin}

Gee, I dunno, Ben. I'm pretty darned happy with the man I've got... [me]

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

[Many thanks to the fine folks at icanhascheezburger for granting me permission to use the cat images shown at the top of this post.]