Friday, September 27, 2019


Thought for the day: Never ascribe to malice that which can be adequately explained by incompetence. [Robert J. Hanlon]

Whether attributed to incompetence, laziness, or some other reason, we humans do tend to screw up at times. (Um, not you or me, of course...those other human...)

Some years ago, Kyle, a ham radio pal, sent me a bunch of pictures, which he thought I might like to use on a blog post someday.

Someday is finally here!

They were originally part of a funny meme called One Job. (As in, you had one job... and you managed to screw it up, you numbskull.)

So thanks, Kyle, for making my post such an easy one today. I hope the rest of you guys get a few chuckles from it.

Well... it's kinda near midfield.

Much lower in fat content than most bacon.

Not sure, but I think a Mack truck could squeeze past that barrier.

Um... I got nothing. I could maybe see someone screwing this up once... but every time???

Nope, orange isn't the new black. Teal is.

Get yourself together, woman!

I guess up is the new down?

Kinda defeats the purpose of having a booth, wouldn't you say?

Um, maybe they didn't know his name...?

Well, it is patched...

Nothing like a nice refreshing orange soda.

I've heard yellow watermelon is sweeter than red.

What's a little ar between friends?

Just not on this water

So don't park there! You've gotta leave plenty of room for the frietrucks.

Maybe he was trying to make his job more interesting by infusing a bit of creativity?

You know... that's the country over there in Aisa.

What came first... the arrow or the light pole?

Peter Piper picked a peck of pickled paper.

Well, that's a bit graphic, but I reckon it would work.

                         Th-th-th-at's all, folks! And again, a huge thank you to Kyle.

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

Friday, September 20, 2019

The Wings of an Eagle

Thought for the day: We are eagles of one nest... the nest is in our soul. [Led Zeppelin]
[image courtesy of unsplash]

Eagles are majestic creatures. The kings and queens of the skies, you might say. With their immense wingspans, they have the ability to soar high, and their high-flying maneuvers... from the mighty flaps of their wings,... to the graceful glides on the air... to the sudden wing-back swoops to the ground... are all magnificent things to behold.

We, too, have the ability to soar high, but like reluctant eagles, we sometimes give up or lose our desire to fly. I've told the following story before, which is loosely based on a James Agreey story, The Parable of the Eagle, but in support of the post I want to write today, it begs to be repeated:

[image courtesy of Morguefile]
While traipsing through the woods one day, a farmer happened upon a lone eaglet perched on a fallen log. He scooped up the young bird, carried it home, and put it in the barnyard with his chickens. Before long, the young eagle was walking and clucking like a chicken and pecking at the chicken feed on the ground.

When the farmer's friend, a Native American named Joseph, stopped by the farm one day, he was appalled to find the majestic eagle in the barnyard scratching in the dirt like a common chicken. With a laugh, the farmer said the bird had been raised like a chicken and never taught to fly, so he was now more chicken than eagle. Joseph insisted the bird still had the heart of an eagle, and he could... and should... be taught to fly, so the farmer agreed to let his friend try.

Joseph picked up the eagle, and said, "You're meant to be the king of the sky. Stretch forth your wings and fly!"

But the timid eagle looked at his chicken friends pecking corn from the ground and jumped down to join them.

The next day, Joseph tried again. This time, he took the eagle up to the roof, and again, he said,"You're an eagle, the king of the skies. Stretch forth your wings and fly!"

And once again, the frightened bird returned to the safety of the chicken yard.

The third day, Joseph carried the bird to a nearby mountaintop, held it high above him, and said, "You are an eagle, the king of the skies. Spread forth your wings, and fly!"

Hesitant at first, the bird looked back toward the farm, back toward the only life he knew. Then he trembled, stretched his mighty wings, and with a triumphant cry, soared into the sky.

It's possible the eagle sometimes misses the chickens; he may even visit the barnyard once in a while for old time's sake. But as far as anyone knows, he's still living life as an eagle, the king of the skies... just as all eagles were meant to do.

It's easier to hang around in the barnyard, because the prospect of stretching our wings can be very frightening, but we should never let someone else define our capabilities. Why let someone else's doubts stop you from trying? By the same token, there are a lot of things happening in the world today that might make you want to hide in the barnyard... or stay in bed with the covers pulled over your head. It seems like every day, there is something else in the news that's discouraging and disheartening. Nothing but one dark storm after another...
                                                      Are you hiding from those storms?
[image courtesy of unsplash]

[image courtesy of unsplash]
One of the many interesting things about eagles: they don't hide from storms. Nope, they don't fly straight into them, either. They're much smarter than that.

They fly above them. Up above the storm... above the clouds... to find clear blue skies and wind currents that can carry them effortlessly through the air.

All birds find shelter during a rain, but the eagle avoids rain by flying above the clouds. Problems are common, but attitude makes the difference. [Abdul Kalam]

An eagle uses the negative energy of of a storm to fly even higher [Eric Thomas]

Flap the wings of inner strength to fly above the clouds of a storm. Cry not if left alone. Like an eagle, you are strong. [Vandana Saini]

I get it. I'll confess to feeling occasional angst over the state of the world today, but we must give ourselves permission to soar above those feelings. Wallowing in discouraged sadness... in the dirt of the barnyard... won't help anyone or change anything. We may not be able to change the entire world, but we can certainly do our best to make a difference right where we are. We can't single-handedly stop all hateful behavior in the world... but we can certainly devote ourselves to being kind in our everyday lives. A simple act of kindness may be just the boost another person needs to soar above the clouds.

[image courtesy of unsplash]
I've often defined myself as a pathological optimist, but that doesn't mean it's always easy.

There is an eagle in me that wants to soar, and there is a hippopotamus in me that wants to wallow in the mud. [Carl Sandburg]

It has to be a conscious decision. I have to fight  my inner hippo... and occasionally have a diet soda with my cheeseburger.

You can't soar like an eagle when you hang around with turkeys. [author unknown]

When the storms of life gather darkly ahead,
I think of those wonderful words I once read.
And I say to myself as threatening clouds hover,
Don't fold up your wings and run for cover. 
But like the eagle, spread wide your wings
And soar far above the troubles life brings.
For the eagle knows that the higher he flies,
The more tranquil and brighter become the skies.
And there is nothing in life God ever asks us to bear
That we can't soar above on the wings of prayer.
And in looking back over the storm you passed through,
You'll find you gained strength and new courage, too,
For in facing life's storms with an eagle's wings,
You can fly far above earth's small petty things. 

[Helen Steiner Rice]

Attitude is a choice. Happiness is a choice. Optimism is a choice. Kindness is a choice. Giving is a choice. Respect is a choice. Whatever choice you make makes you. Choose wisely. [Roy T. Bennett]

If you don't like something, change it. If you can't change it, change your attitude. [Maya Angelou]

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

Friday, September 13, 2019

A Hot Day and Hot Cars

Thought for the day:  MGs don't leak oil; they mark their places.

Dontcha love the front of this car? If I were more clever, I'd doctor the picture to make it look even more like a smiling face. No matter. When Smarticus and I went to the British Car Fayre in our town last weekend, we saw plenty of real smiling faces. And plenty of extraordinary British cars, too.

For those of you who have never had the pleasure of owning a British car, but want to know what it's like: Next big rainstorm, wait 'til dark, roll down all the windows, leave off lights and heater and wipers, and go for a drive. Stop at every intersection and throw out a twenty dollar bill. It's not exactly the same, but it's real close.  [Mike Nash]

We evidently have plenty of anglophiles and UK ex-pats living in our area, because this annual car show, sponsored in part by the loverly Taste of Britain always draws a fine array of vehicles and visitors. Lots of Triumphs, Rolls Royces, MGs, Morgans, Austin Healies, Astin Martins, Lotuses, Minis, Range Rovers, Deloreans, Jaguars, motorcycles, and more. A bunch of drool-worthy vehicles. Alas, we didn't stay as long this year as we have in years past, because it was too bloody H-O-T!

But the Queen looked cool as a proverbial cucumber. I, on the other hand, felt like I was having a heat stroke. (Such a wimp!)

One street was pretty well lined with Minis. Some of them are reeeeally... mini. You hear the one about the trouble with bucket seats is we don't all have the same size buckets? Well, I know some people who'd have a hard time fitting their impressive buckets into some of these Minis. Pulling them out of one of these cars would sound like a champagne cork popping.

There were quite a few Land Rovers, too. These two cracked me up. One for Dad... and one for Junior.

Hey, you never can tell when you might have an opportunity to go on safari in Atlanta. Heck, everyone knows the traffic here is like a jungle, and some of the drivers are real... beasts.

Aye, and there were bonnie brogues to be heard, and evidence of a wee bit of Scottish humor.

(The patch on that hat says Gleneagle, Scotland.)

Check out this 1933 Rolls Royce. Its owner had a good sense of humor, too. Know how I could tell? By what I saw sitting in the back seat...

Pardon me, but do you have any Grey Poupon?


How about this one? Anybody see the movie featuring this car?

Bond, James Bond...

Wouldn't this hood ornament be absolutely perfect for our rat rod? I mean, Smarticus and I do practice a certain amount of smart assiness from time to time.

Because of the heat, I didn't take a whole lot of pictures, so how's about if I share a few from past years:

Alas, there was no bagpiper there this year. Not that it's my favorite (or favourite) instrument, but I missed seeing... and hearing... him.

A fun touch of whimsy.

It'd be a hard call, but this was definitely one of my favourite cars at the show. In the proper colour, too...

But I do love the British racing green, too.

They don't call these the dog days of summer for nothing.

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

Wednesday, September 4, 2019

Annoying Words and Idyllic Writing Spots

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

As you can probably tell by that nifty badge on the left, it's that time again.Time for our monthly IWSG posts. As always, thanks to our fearless leader, Alex Cavanaugh, for founding this fine group, and
 thanks to all the other nurturing guys and gals who've helped turn it into the thriving community it is today. To join this super supportive group of writers and to see links to other participating blogs, please go HERE

I don't know if Lily's right about language filling some kind of deep-seated need to complain, but I do want to complain about the way some people use language. 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.

Teenagers, in particular, have always liked to adopt certain words and phrases as their own. I know my friends and I did. Heck, I still use a lot of those words today. Like neat and cool. But, to be fair, teenagers aren't the only ones who adopt pet words and then kill them through overuse. 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. It got so we were more interested in how many times she'd utter that phrase than we were in whatever lesson she was trying to teach.

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?

Wheelhouse, as in area of expertise – Chris, Battle Creek, Mich., “It’s not in my wheelhouse to explain why dreadful words should be banished!”; Currie, Ottawa, Ontario (Canada), “Irritating, has become a cliché, annoys me, offence to the English language, etc.”; Kevin, Portland, Ore., “It’s an awkward word to use in the 21st century. Most people have never seen a wheelhouse.”
In the books . . ., as in finished or concluded – Sandy, White Lake Township, Mich., “It seems everyone’s holiday party is in the books this year, and it’s all there for friends to view on social media, along with the photos of the happy party attendees.”
Wrap my head around – Linda, Bloomington, Minn., “Impossible to do and makes no sense.”
Platform – Michael, Alameda, Calif., “People use it as an excuse to rant. Facebook, Instagram, Twitter have become platforms. Even athletes call a post-game interview a ‘platform.’ Step down from the platform, already.”
Collusion, as in two or more parties limiting competition by deception – John, Grosse Pointe Park, Mich., “We all need to collude on getting rid of this word.”
OTUS family of acronyms such as POTUS, FLOTUS, SCOTUS – David, Kinross, Mich., “Overused useless word for the President, Supreme Court, First Lady.”
Ghosting – Carrie, Caledonia, Mich., “Somebody doesn’t want to talk with you. Get over it. No need to bring the paranormal into the equation.”
Yeet, as in to vigorously throw or toss – Emily, Sault Ste. Marie, Mich., “If I hear one more freshman say “yeet,” I might just yeet myself out a window.”
Litigate – Ronald, Fredericton, New Brunswick (Canada), “Originally meant to take a claim or dispute to a law court . . . appropriated by politicians and journalists for any matter of controversy in the public sphere.”
Grapple – David, Traverse City, Mich., “People who struggle with ideas and issues now grapple with them. I prefer to grapple with a wrestler or an overgrown tree. ”
Eschew – Mary, Toronto, Ont. (Canada), “Nobody ever actually says this word out loud, they just write it for filler.”
Crusty – Hannah, Campbellsville, Ky., “This has become a popular insult. It’s disgusting and sounds weird. Make the madness stop.”
Optics – Bob Tempe, Ariz., “The trendy way to say ‘appearance’.”
Legally drunk – Philip, Auburn, Ind., “You’re a little tipsy, that’s all. That’s legally drunk. People who are ticketed for drunk driving are actually ‘illegally drunk,’ and we should say so.”
Thought Leader – Matt, Superior, Colo., “Thoughts aren’t ranked or scored. How can someone hold a thought-lead, much less even lead by thought?”; Paul, Ann Arbor, Mich., “If you follow a thought leader, you’re not much of a thinker.”
Importantly – Constance, Pace, Tex., “Totally unnecessary when ‘important’ is sufficient. ‘More importantly’ (banned in 1992) apparently sounds more important but is also senseless.”
Accoutrements – Leslie, Scottsdale, Ariz., “Hard to spell, not specific, and anachronistic when ‘accessories’ will do.”
Most important election of our time . . . – José, Ozark, Ark., “Not that we haven’t had six or seven back-to-back most important elections of our time.”

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)
 And from 2013, when I last visited this topic in a blog post:
  • 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
  Writers have to be especially careful about falling into the trap of overusing words and phrases, because it is oh-so-easy to do. It's uncanny, for example, how frequently the simple words that and very can pop up in a manuscript if we aren't on the look-out for it. In fact, there's a loooong list of  words ... and actions (like nose-scratching, cheek-biting, shrugging, etc.) which, I have on good authority, have nefarious intentions of taking over your otherwise scintillating prose. So... heads up!

Okay, on to this month's question: 

If you could pick one place in the world to sit and write your next story, where would it be, and why?                                   

[image courtesy of morguefile]
In Ireland, you go to someone's house, and she asks you if you want a cup of tea. You say no, thank you, you're really just fine. She asks if you're sure. You say of course you're sure, really you don't need a thing. Except they pronounce it ting.'You don't need a ting. Well, she says then, I was going to get myself some anyway, so it would be no trouble. Ah, you say, well, if you were going to get yourself some, I wouldn't mind a spot of tea, at that, so long as it's no trouble and I can give you a hand in the kitchen. Then you go through the whole thing all over again until you both end up in the kitchen drinking tea and chatting.

In America, someone asks you if you want a cup of tea, you say no, and then you don't get any damned tea.

I liked the Irish way better. [C.E. Murphy]

[image courtesy of morguefile]
So... maybe Ireland?

I  mean, just think of all the lush green fields.. the old castles... the rugged shore and crashing waves. Ooooh, and the Irish dances! The jigs, the lovely music and Riverdancing... the quaint pubs!

It all sounds fantastic, doesn't it?

But... truth? I wouldn't want to go there to write. (I only chose Ireland because I love that C.E. Murphy quote.) The truth is, when I write... or even when I read... I have tunnel vision. My surroundings disappear, because I become totally immersed in the world I'm creating or visiting. So, bottom line, I can write anywhere with a modicum of quiet, so why waste a trip to anywhere exotic if I'm not cognizant enough to enjoy it? I'd much rather visit those places for the sheer enjoyment of it... and leave the writing for later.  

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.