Category Archives: Thoughts @ Large

•  My new artistic credo is, go bold or go home.  Like Andy Warhol, minus the decadence. I’m getting too old to play things safe and, frankly, safe isn’t all that interesting.

•  That said, I do have self-imposed limits on what I write about here.  I rarely if ever share family stories, because (a) they are not my own to share, not matter how entertaining they may be, and (b) I am very conscious about other people’s internet privacy, such that it is.  Also, while I could mine my own childhood for any number of polemics, some dead dogs should remain in the ground to decompose.  Better safe than smelly.

• Here’s some artistic boldness.  It’s titled Chicken Story.  Play it full-screen for max bold.

•  Something’s very wrong.  I have been cutting out carbs and exercising for the last week — shouldn’t I have dropped 10 pounds and 30 cholesterol points by now?

•  On a related note, Fiber One has got to be the worst breakfast cereal in the solar system.  It looks like cat litter and tastes like… well, used cat litter.  It should be sold in feed stores.  I wanted to mix the rest of the box into our birdseed but my wife, wisely, said no.

•  We still have a landline because cell service is unreliable where we live.  And we are still training ourselves not to pick up the phone when we get calls from an unknown number, even if it appears to be from our local area code.  Our friends may be annoyed when we let their calls go to the answering machine, but I trust most will understand that our ratio of spam to legitimate calls is at least 7-to-1.  (Nationwide, the ratio is about 1-to-1.)

•  Some tech company needs to invent a house-wide noise-cancelling system that activates whenever Canon in D is played by anyone on any device within earshot of me.

•  The difference between celebrities and nobodies is that lots of people are willing to pay (or stay up late) to see/hear celebrities tell stories.  Conversely, no one wants to listen to your story about seeing Miley Cyrus at an interstate rest stop.  Well, maybe some do.

•  Seeded raisins must be really popular or else I am really unlucky.  Every time I look for seeded raisins in the grocery store, only the seedless ones are left.

•  I have finally concluded that the TV show The Walking Dead isn’t very realistic.  I mean, we never see the zombies eat anything (except for the rare human, and they are eaten rare) so what exactly fuels zombie muscles?  If we are to take that show seriously, shouldn’t the walkers at least be shown drinking Red Bull or gumming Velveeta?

•  Speaking of Walkers: If every human who ever walked the earth (over 100 billion of us!)  were buried in one place, each in their own 6-foot x 12-foot plot, the cemetery would be the size of Texas.  Abel’s grave would be in the northwest corner of the panhandle, which is the most Republican district in the United States.  For what it’s worth.

•  1796 was the year that the city of Cleveland (originally spelled Cleaveland) was founded.  This would prompt young Ohio farmboys to launch what would become an autumn ritual: meeting behind the barn to smoke cornsilk and make sly biblical references to Cleaveland, without ever mentioning or remembering which party is supposed to cleave unto whom.  The descendants of those farmboys carry on today, as Cleveland Browns fans.

•  Now-You-Know Department:  This figure-8-shaped item (at right), which most people would just call a plug, is actually a C7 connector.  The prongs on the appliance comprise the C8 connector.  These are most commonly found on audio/video devices.  Sadly, now that you have eaten of the Tree of Electrical Knowledge, you must be banished from the Garden.  Depart then, and cover your connectors in shame.

•  Every violent tragedy now, we are all asking, “Is it a hate crime?  Is it terrorism?” as if the name we assign to it will somehow put it in a compartment removed from normal life.  Sad news: this is normal life.

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Cats @ Large: 62

•  If cats ate their weight in mosquitoes every day, I might excuse their existence.

•  Cats would not be as popular if they weren’t easy to spell.

•  The best thing about the musical “Cats” is that there are no actual cats in it.

•  The part of King Joffrey in “Game of Thrones” was originally written for a cat.

•  When cats hiss, it is because the snakes that live inside them are trying to escape.

•  If cats played chess, they would torment the pieces they capture and then casually drop them at their opponent’s feet.

•  It is no coincidence that the Edison lamp socket is the same diameter as a cat’s tail.

•  We say scat when we see a cat because it isn’t polite to say shit.

•  Cats belong in the wild, where they can satisfy their hunting instincts.  I suggest Mars.

•  There is a special place in Hell for cat-haters — it’s called Heaven.

•  Cats like to sleep in your bed so that they will be first in line the day you don’t wake up.

•  No cats were harmed in the writing of this post.  Insulted, yes, but they don’t care.

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Thoughts @ Large: 61

• If you talk to your plants but it still doesn’t help them grow, it is probably because most plants speak Latin.

• It is hard to believe how bland Premium Saltines have become in recent years.  If salt and shortening are still ingredients, they exist in amounts that can only be detected by trained forensic dogs.  Is it just a coincidence that the box in my cupboard says “Made in Canada”?

• I am not a big fan of Fresh Air on NPR — Terry Gross has gushed over dozens-too-many middling celebrities for my taste.  But I learned a lot from a recent show when bioethicist Travis Rieder discussed the various dimensions of the U.S. opioid crisis.  I was impressed by the logic and clarity of Rieder’s arguments, which were informed by his own experience with opioid withdrawal.  I have not read his book but do recommend the NPR interview.

• My new go-to reference book is Garner’s Modern English Usage (2016), a 1056-page colossus that is satisfying to open, whether I find what I’m looking for or not.  Still, I would have preferred more entries on usage (should one say impressed by or impressed with?) and less guidance on variants (smolder vs smoulder) and pronunciation (there is no gone in Oregon, among other pronouncements).

• Garner also weighs in on formal words, a category that includes commence, obtain and sufficient and phrases such as be of assistance.  Formal usage has its place but usually just gets in the way, so said Amherst College professor and author Walker Gibson.  He believed the use of formalism suggests the writer is scared:  “If this is an age of anxiety, one way we react to our anxiety is to withdraw into omniscient and multi-syllabic detachment where nobody can get us.”  Gibson could not have essentialized the grandiloquent intonation of this blog more veraciously.

• Speaking of usage and abusage:  Why does our society call it white supremacy instead of radical Christian terrorism?  Why do we say white Christian shooters are indoctrinated but brown Muslim shooters have been radicalized?  Why do people blame social media for spreading our culture of violence, rather than change the culture, that is, ourselves?

• An informative three-part quiz:  Which has the greater population, Pakistan or Russia?  Egypt or Germany?  Iran or Vietnam?  Bonus question:  Of those countries, which is the least populous?  Answers below.

• Surely I can’t be the only person who finds it annoying when a concert audience offers up a round of perfunctory applause several bars into a song, as if it suddenly dawns on them that the artist is performing her signature work.  I’d like to know, when and where did that custom arise?  And more importantly, how do we make it stop?

• Pakistan has 47% more people than Russia does, Egypt has 23% more than Germany, and Vietnam 17% more than Iran.  Of those, Germany has the fewest people, 82.4 million.  Free subscription to Wikipedia for everyone who got a perfect score, compliments of me.

• Skeptics were in full throat years ago when it was reported that many people spend hours (and money) watching other people play video games.  Video games!  But according to one e-sports site, the video game audience (65 million) now rivals that of the NBA.  We should not be surprised — humans are born with season tickets to Vicarious Stadium and we are happy to watch whatever is played there.

• The speed humps in my neighborhood are minor inconveniences that slow local traffic and protect children.  The speed humps in your neighborhood are a pain in the butt.

Q: Why is Trump like a sleeping dog?   A: Because we let them lie.

• Bad news for photographers and other creatives: Big Brother can use your copyrighted work without telling you or paying you, so a Texas appeals court declared.  As originally reported in DPReview, photographer Jim Olive discovered that the University of Houston had removed the identifying marks from one of his photos and then republished the photo on its website.  He sued for damages.  The University initially argued that, as a government entity, it was immune from prosecution.  That plea was rejected; the University appealed.  The Court of Appeals decided that the University’s actions did not constitute a “taking” and so Olive had no case.  A similar case involving a North Carolina filmmaker is heading to the Supreme Court this fall.  And here I thought only China could get away with this.

• Given enough time, people generally turn the topic of conversation to whatever interests them most.  The time required for this is typically short and the topic of most interest is invariably themselves.*


 * Fred Rogers was a notable exception and he turned this rule on its head.  I often have to remind myself to be more like Mister Rogers.
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