• I like to present myself as an expert on the last topic I read something about.
• I have no problem with George H. W. Bush getting called out for butt-grabbing women who happen to be nearby. Old people should not have a free pass to grope, and let’s hope that this puts an end to that. Let’s also (at the risk of saying something a man might say) try to maintain a distinction among rape, abuse, bodily insult, inappropriate touch and sexual harassment. The pedant in me would like to say that if words mean anything, they should be consistent with the acts they describe, just as punishment should fit the crime. But the woman in me says that all these acts fall on the continuum of living in a world full of arrogant, powerful-because-they-are-enabled, testosterone-driven men.
• Name-calling never served us well. It enjoyed a long tradition in the U.S. (see late-19th and early-20th century political cartoons) but Donald Trump brought name-calling and playground-bullying, his blunt-force weapons of choice, into the 21st century. We nerds know that the best response to a playground bully is to be smart, not to try to out-bully or out-ridicule, because that is the turf the bully knows best. Parody of Trump — making fun of his hair, his hands, his oafishness — may be an escape for some but it does not comprise a winning tactic. Smart people need to devise a smart response to Trump. Everything else distracts from that.
• We in the United States seem to be helpless (perhaps impotent is the better word) when it comes to dealing with those we suspect to be sociopaths. It is next to impossible for us to marshal and coordinate social, investigative and law enforcement resouces at the local, state and federal levels so that we might prevent the Sandy Hook or Las Vegas massacres. There is no 711 number to report people we think may be dangerous. If there were such a number, it would have to shut down in a matter of hours from the volume of calls.
• Mama Mia, Microsoft. They offer six easy ways to do things, one hard way to undo them. Take Excel and the task of assigning / deleting a name for a cell range One can assign a name to a selected range by moving the cursor to the name box above the grid, typing in the custom name and hitting ENTER. Pretty straightforward. But what if you want to undo this? Instinct tells me to move my cursor to the range whose name I want to erase, click the name box and hit DELETE.
Afraid not. One must instead: (1) Click the Formulas tab (why Formulas?) (2) Locate the Name Manager icon and click it. (3) Locate the range name in the name list. (4) Click on the range name to select it and then click the DELETE button to delete it. (5) And finally click OK when the “Are You Sure” box appears.
I’m convinced that Microsoft software was developed by Catholics: easy to get married, hard to get divorced, and the escape key doesn’t work unless the priest gives his OK.
• I would have liked to have been the guy my friends would call to help him or her move, after which we would have a beer or two afterwards. That never happened. Perhaps I sent the wrong message or — more likely — presented the wrong muscles.
• Note to self: The next time I go to Trader Joe’s and see a bottle of Barolo on sale for $13, it is going to taste exactly like what I think a bottle of Barolo on sale at Trader Joe’s for $13 would taste like. It is never going to taste better because I paid less.
• Halloween Quiz: If you stood perfectly still and an amoeba challenged you to a race to the nearest pumpkin, which one would win, the amoeba or the toenail on your big toe? Answer: an amoeba can crawl 5 micrometers a second. This means they are 10,000 times faster than the rate your toenail grows. So the amoeba would win easily, unless it gave your toenail a head start. What makes this a Halloween Quiz? Because fast amoebas are scary, man. Especially the smug ones that challenge you to a race they know they will win.
• I have been cleaning out the storage room to make a space to do art. I came across my box of poetry from high school and college and reacquainted myself with it. I have finally acknowledged that these were not works of genius, and that even my well-scattered ashes would be embarrassed were someone to discover and read these writings after my death. Thanks to the Art Gods for granting me this chance to throw them out first.
• By the way, they were pathetic, and no, I’m not going to post an example! If you want a cheap thrill, go check your own storage room.
• Okay, here’s just one howler, from a high-school poem titled The End Results Confusion: “Aimless searches for meanings / Trivial in themselves / The confusion of our minds / Ends in rebellion from truth.” Did every 1969 high-school boy try to imitate Jim Morrison or was it just me?