Birds of a Feather -- Cartoon by CHCollins

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One federal agency that remained open during the ongoing government shutdown is the U.S. Bureau of Thumb Direction Assignment, or USBTDA.  For those unfamiliar with the USBTDA, these are the people who determine whether a given event represents good news (thumbs up) or bad news (thumbs down).  One can visit the USBTDA website and type in any item of personal news — within seconds, bureau experts will analyze your item and assign a Thumb Direction to it: Up or Down.  This service is free, fast and confidential.

I was able to access the USBTDA site a few hours ago and decided to submit a couple of items of my own, to see if the experts were still at work.  Indeed they were, and here are the results:

(1) I haven’t talked with my cardiologist yet, but I did read the report from my cardiac MRI last month, and all the tests were marked NORMAL.  I was happy and relieved when the USBTDA assigned Thumbs Up to this item.  Now I can sleep a little better, knowing that invasive procedures are not part of my immediate future.  Thank you, USBTDA.

(2) I received a response yesterday from the editor of the MDPI Games Journal about the 24-page article on The Price is Right showcase round that I submitted a few weeks ago.  The editor “encouraged” me to resubmit it after “extensive revisions” but mentioned that one of the reviewers thought my article should be rejected outright.  The reviewers made mostly constructive comments but I doubt I will be able to address all of their criticisms.  The experts at USBTDA assigned Thumbs Down to this news item (as expected).  I am not yet sure how I will respond to the editor but I don’t think I will mention the USBTDA.

• • • •

This story has a rather strange conclusion.  Not content to leave matters be, I decided to submit one more piece of news to the USBTDA, namely, that the USBTDA was a figment of my imagination.  When I clicked enter, the site seemed to freeze for a few seconds, then displayed an error message — something like RQ_TIMEOUT — and finally a blank page.  I think what happened is that the experts could not decide whether to say Thumbs Up (thus affirming their own fictional status) or Thumbs Down (viewing their non-existence as bad news).  Faced with this logical impasse, the USBTDA simply vanished.  Either that, or Trump shut them down.  We may never find out.

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Snow and Tell

To close out the year, I have (finally) added another photo gallery to ART@CHC, titled Shots at Large: Winter.  We get little enough snow here that, when it does fall, I am often inspired to go out shooting.  The current collection comprises the 12 most interesting shots from the past 20 years of my winter walkabouts.  More to the point, these are the few shots that I didn’t get bored with after hours of scanning, editing, etc.

I will be ringing in the new year with a new lightweight camera and lens (948 grams total) and a new desktop computer (it weighs a lot more).  My 2009 Windows 7 PC cannot run the 2019 version of Photoshop — and Windows 7 support will end in one year — so it was time to bite the bullet and get a new machine rather than upgrade the old one.  I am not looking forward to the task of migrating all my programs and files, a first-world problem by any definition.

As a lovely year-end parting gift to my faithful readers, here is a bonus shot that does not appear in my Winter gallery.  This is the road leading out of our neighborhood, one that demands low gear and a tight grip on the wheel on snowy days.  I hope that you and yours enjoy safe travels in the year ahead.

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