Category Archives: Thoughts at Large

• Some people “collect” experiences.  For example, there are those whose goal is to attend a baseball game in every major league park in a single season.  There are those who wish to step foot on every continent.  One person’s mission was to visit a pub next to each of the 270 underground stations in London.  And one person, it seems, intends to view every one of the 110 films (and counting) in which Liam Neeson has performed.  Indeed, I am now sort-of watching what may be either the 27th or 43rd or 71st of those films, along with the aforementioned person.  I have nothing against Liam Neeson, mind you — he perfected the role of the sensitive, tough-under-fire problem-solver extraordinaire, the very trait that my co-watcher admires in me.

• I never served in the armed forces.  Everything I know (and don’t know) about serving in the armed forces comes from films.  If I were to believe how military service is depicted in modern films, I would conclude that only the baddest of the bad-asses, or those who want to become bad-asses, need apply.  Compare this image with those who served in (and won) World War II: factory workers and salesmen, florists and actors, plumbers and painters.  Everyday guys, your dad and mine.  At least that is what I learned from those John Wayne and Robert Mitchum films.

• Why is train travel not very popular in the United States?  For the answer, consider this: when a film calls for its hero to become trapped and hurtle near-powerlessly to his demise, what vehicle is chosen as his conveyance?  Elephant?  Rickshaw?  Segway?  No — train.  People distrust trains in films and for good reason: they are enormously heavy, have tons of momentum and ride slippery rails.  All that romantic clickety-clack is just a distraction from the high-speed havoc underfoot.

• When a Cheerio falls onto the floor, I leave it there — it may help save a drowning ant.

• I just opened a gallon of milk whose container insists that I should have consumed it several days ago.  I think the fact that I bought the milk before it expired and took it home and kept it nice and cold before I opened it should count for something.  Ungrateful milk.  We’ll see whether it seeks revenge.

• It is probably wiser to let words flow like wine than the other way around — but this may depend on how one chooses her words.

• I need to read more Nietzsche.  I may not agree with even half of his aphorisms but I did appreciate this one: “Convictions are more dangerous foes of truth than lies.”  Given the convictions of Congressional Republicans and the lies that emanate from the White House, it would seem that, together, they’ve got things covered.

• So the Scrabble Gods have decreed that a few hundred words that were already words will now count as words.  They also decided OK will count as a word, even though it is not.  I guess OK must have won the Scrabble Electoral College.

• There are takers and partakers.  Some of the latter are as intolerable as the former.

• People’s final wishes are not so much wishes for themselves (since they won’t experience them) but the experience they would force upon whomever has to deal with their earthly remains.  Making elaborate plans for others to carry out (my nostalgic wish was to have my ashes scattered in Schenley Park in Pittsburgh) is not very considerate.  So, I say give your survivors a break — don’t direct them from the grave and don’t ask them to do gratuitous things.  And I say to my loved ones, when I’m gone, do what works for you.  You’ll know what that is, and we may all rest assured that I will not object.

• All this rumination about final arrangements… it must be the milk.

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• As the legendary 19th-century mathematician and master of infinities Georg Ferdinand Ludwig Philipp Cantor said, “There are two kinds of people in this world: those who are one of those kinds and those who are not.”

• After many dozen online contests, I have found there are three types of Scrabble games.  One may draw lucky letters and score one great word after another, an embarassment of riches; or one draws a few good letters among mostly mediocre ones, just enough to give one hope during the uncertain struggle; or one’s letter tray follows a winding road, veering between six consonants and a vowel and one consonant (surely a V) and six vowels (mostly I’s and U’s), delivering a stern lesson in frustration and powerlessness.  That’s life.

• Actually, I am tiring of online games.  And more to the point, I am growing tired of luck.  If my prospects when entering a given endeavor are no better than 50-50, perhaps it’s time to pick a different endeavor.  No point being quixotic at this point of my life.  Better to use what I know, whatever that is, to produce good things, whatever they may be.

• At the supermarket, one can buy 20 tablets of the brand-name laxative Senokot for $6.98 (or 35 cents each), or one can buy 100 tablets of the generic version of the same laxative, sitting right next to the Senekot, for $3.78 (4 cents each).  Simple choice?  Note the empty space in the tray where several boxes of Senekot once sat.

This (click on it) is the most annoying television commercial I have had the misfortune to watch in a long, long time.  It gives a bad name to being progressive.

• The enemy of one’s enemy may be one’s friend, but it does not follow that a foolish man pointing out another fool is smart.  Indeed, he may be a stable genius.

• What we call nations are simply land-collectives.  They may be founded under variously-stated precepts and principles, but in the end they are about people holding onto land.

• Here’s another supermarket find, from the same store on the same day (click image to enlarge).  You may choose (on the left) 8 oz. of Premium Saltines for $2.97 or (on the right) 16 oz. of Premium Saltines for $2.98.  The 8-oz. box is made for people who are afraid to have too much of a good thing.

• Someone close to me recently made an intriguingly-stated observation: “The dead trees look great not there.”

• A few weeks ago, there was a story about mothers waiting in line for hours on end at shopping malls across the nation, with their young children in tow, to take advantage of a Build-A-Bear promotion.  I wonder how many hours those people will stand in line to vote.

• Procter & Gamble, the maker of Tide and Pampers, is trying to obtain trademark rights for millenial catchwords and phrases such as LOL and WTF.  This is a pretty radical idea for such an old-and-storied company — are we about to see a product in our supermarkets called “WTF Is In This Diaper?”  In any event, two can play this game.  If I had lots of cash and a suitable lack of brains, I would develop a Star Trek-themed funeral-home franchise called “He’s Dead, Jim,” a toilet-bowl cleaner called “Grime of Thrones” and a line of roach-killing products under the “CU-L8R” brand.

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Thoughts @ Large: 56

•  Disposables may be more expensive, but I have no feelings of nostalgia about washing cloth diapers.  If you think disposables harm the environment and you want less waste, maybe your second dog and third cat would be good places to start.

•  What you need to know about plant moisture-meters:  They are all made in the same repurposed flip-phone factory in South Korea and they are all just as useless.

•  I keep swatting at my eye floaters but I have yet to catch one.

•  Dispatch from Duh Corner: This NYTimes article from September 2011 was headlined, “Doctor Fees Major Factor in Health Costs, Study Says.”  Those crack Columbia University researchers did it again.  I hope they won the Nobel Prize for lowering our health costs.•  The 5th U.S. Congressional District in Georgia is centered on Atlanta.  Although I never want to live in Georgia, I regret not having the privilege to cast a vote for John Lewis.

•  From the Old-Habits-Die-Hard File: I have been alone in the house for several days now and I am still closing the bathroom door for privacy.  (And I still haven’t made the bed.)

•  Yes, my wife is on the road visiting friends and family.  Thankfully, she has found time to call and ask what I am getting done around the house, my being alone and all.  I appreciate her concern.

•  By the way, this is one of the things.

•  In the little town I live in, the police-rescue of a kitten from a storm drain merited this eight-paragraph article in the local newspaper.  And yet, I was still hungry for answers.  Like, what did the kitten eat all the time it was in that sewer?  Will it ever live down the stigma of being a rescue animal?  Did it receive counseling afterwards?

•  Many members of the Trump Administration were expressly chosen for positions they were not qualified for (and/or openly disdained) in order to sabotage the effectiveness, or the very mission, of the departments they were to lead.  In that spirit, I would also accept a position from Trump.  I would take Chairman of the Citizens’ Stamp Advisory Committee (I would issue a Hillary Forever stamp) or the Deputy Press Liaison for the U.S. Office of Government Ethics, which is more useless in the Trump Era than a plant moisture-meter.  I requested Deputy Press Liaison because the positions of Press Liaison, Alternate Press Liaison and Backup Press Liaison already seem to be filled.

•  By the way, that was true.  The U.S. Government Ethics Office has three Press Liaisons, presumably in the event two are unable to serve due to ethics violations.

•  Having a seven-letter word in your tray but nowhere on the Scrabble board to play it produces the same empty feeling as having a liberal vote with no inspired place to cast it.  There should be a word for that.  One with more than four letters.

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