Thoughts @ Large: 80

Doing a little tidy-up of items that don’t merit a whole post but might warrant a scintilla of scrutiny, a crumb of contemplation, a mote of mentation…

💡 Over 300 people in the past 100 years have died electively by a process one could call suicide by mountain.  I am referring to the (mostly) men who have perished trying to scale Mount Everest — all avoidable deaths.  Our spectacle-obsessed culture encourages, even celebrates, risky adventures that often end in healthy people dying.  (Don’t even talk to me about the stupidity of air shows.)  At the same time, our culture thwarts the desires of old, worn-out people to choose death rather than spend their last months in an Everest-scale descent through “long-term care.”  I guess their struggles just aren’t gutsy enough.

🗑️ I know, it’s a bad idea to start Thoughts @ Large with a negative item, since it sets a tone that is hard to dispel later.  So let’s do something lighter next!

️✈️ If you did a search for Allegiant emergency landing, what do you think might pop up?  How about these headlines:  2011: Orlando-bound Allegiant Air flight forced to land in Pittsburgh.  2015: Allegiant flight makes emergency landing in St. Pete.  2016: Allegiant Air flight headed to Pittsburgh makes emergency landing due to turbulence.  2018: Allegiant flight makes emergency landing in Cedar Rapids.  2018: Allegiant flight performs emergency landing at McGhee Tyson Airport.  2020: Passenger says Allegiant plane’s NC emergency landing was ‘a little scary.’  2021: Flight 1313 makes emergency landing in Lexington.  2021: Allegiant airplane blows out tire after rough landing at Logan.  2021: Allegiant flight from Sanford lands safely following ‘mechanical issue’ shortly after takeoff.  2021: Bird strike forces emergency landing of Allegiant flight in St. Pete.

That was just the first page of the Allegiant emergency landing search results.

👎 By the way, we are not flying Allegiant to visit New York City after the holidays.  This will be our first foray post-pandemic, and we don’t want to spoil it with little annoyances like emergency landings.

🔠 After weeks of observation, I have developed what I call the “Positive Wordle Theory.”  If there is a choice between a few Wordle answers, then the more likely answer is the one with the more positive emotional connotation.  This means, pick BRIDE instead of BRINE, CHARM instead of CHART, MEDAL instead of PEDAL.  There is a bias.

🥦  I’m the kind of guy who, after buying a new salad dressing and deciding I really don’t like it, will homeopathically add a little of it to every salad I make from then on until the bottle is empty, rather than throw the stuff out.  Be glad you’re not married to me.

🌧️  The 1966 Beatles song Rain is one of my all-time favorites.  I love Ringo’s drumming (this video is fun) and the electro-twangy guitar.  It’s also a great listen while taking your car through the car-wash.  But the point of this item is my mondegreen (misheard lyrics) in Rain‘s refrain.  Where John sings, Ra-ain / I don’t mind / Shi-ine / the weather’s fine, I always heard the last line as the worthless climeWhich I thought made perfect sense for a song that celebrates rain!

☯️  There is no such thing as unconditional trust in another being, mortal or otherwise.  We decide who we trust, and why, and that makes it conditional.

💩 One of the more regrettable articles I got sucked into reading recently is this one, on the features and drawbacks of oil diffusers, titled — for the sole benefit of search engines — Your Diffuser May Be Harming You.  How so, you ask?  The authors of the article, who of course have no vested interest other than selling their own diffuser, present an overview of alternate oil diffuser technologies.  The potential harm to you, they claim, consists of “diffusing harmful chemicals that are in our everyday tap water.”  God help us, I suppose, if we had to breathe the stuff that we already drink.

Strange how people who use oil diffusers do not grasp that they deposit tiny oil droplets on one’s walls, floors and furnishings, and that is how your diffuser may be harming you.

⚙️ From the Only-Half-the-Battle Department:  It is easier to improve yourself than to improve other people’s perceptions of you afterward.

😁 I just finished reading, back to back but on unrelated whims, the autobiographies of the comic-actor/musician Harpo Marx and the comedian/actor/musician Steve Martin.  Harpo’s is the far better read, as it mostly consists of warm and entertaining accounts of his youth, his family and his renowned circle of friends, with amusing details of his career.

The difference in the tone and tenor of Martin’s bio could not be more pronounced — in his stand-up years, Martin was detached from his family, and from himself.  He observes that his is “not an autobiography but a biography, because I am writing about someone I used to know.”  His recollections feel familiar but emotionally hollow.

Steve aimed to be funny; Harpo wanted to make life fun.  Both succeeded.

⏱️ Routine is great in the right settings.  In the military, it helps ensure a fast, predictable response to a superior’s command, or in football to a play called at the line.  Adherence to routine reduces manufacturing defects, piano-playing flubs and errors of unfamiliarity.  Routine offers a sense of security in an uncertain world, like armor that deflects worry.

But all armor is brittle, suitable only for the attacks for which it is designed.  Resilience is more powerful than armor.  Resilience comes from experience, from being vulnerable, from withstanding numerous minor (and hopefully few major) assaults on our beings and  learning/evolving survival skills.

We err when we protect our children with the armor of routine but spare them experiences that would build their resilience.  The ultimate balancing act for a parent.

🛠️  People have their favorite tools for certain tasks.  I have a set of language-helper tools that I often use when writing this blog, and I thought I would share them here:

  • My favorite online thesaurus is now the OneLook Thesaurus.  I like its ability to sort results by closest meaning, alphabetically, or length. The home page of offers a number of additional word-search tools.
  • My favorite rhyme dictionary is the Rhyme Zone, which also offers a variety of ways to find and filter results.  It is not perfect, however — for instance, president is given as a 100% rhyme for resident, whereas resident is only a 72% rhyme for president.  Hm.
  • I use the The Free Dictionary to find idioms/phrases which incorporate a given word. It’s OK but not a treasure trove.  For disco, Free Dictionary returns deader than disco, while other idiom sites return nothing… because disco is dead?
  • What I really need is a tool to help me generate metaphors related to a certain word or concept, say, dance.  Vivid, imaginative metaphors are hard for me to come up with.  Ideas dance around inside my head but then the music stops and they all go home.

The more I read the New York Times, the more shitty the long-term prospects seem for our world and for humanity.  As a result, I’ve been reading less of the New York Times.

🗑️ I know, it’s a bad idea to end Thoughts @ Large with a negative item, since it sets a tone that is hard to dispel later.  So let’s do something lighter next time!

Read 7 comments below | Read other posts in Thoughts @ Large

7 responses to Thoughts @ Large: 80

  1. Kate says:

    Matt and I are on the way to pick Mom up in Ohio and LOVED this blog. I read it to Matt and he wants you to reach out to AVL Watchdog to write a column. Hope to see you guys soon. Are you around this week or heading to RVA or CLE?

    • Sue Collins says:

      I actually wrote to them in an email with the link to the blog and got no response. I also sent it to John Boyle when he was at the Citizen Times. Maybe it takes a campaign of people writing to them to get their attention!

  2. Paul Sieg says:

    I’m with Kate. Your blog should reach more readers somehow.

  3. Gavin Larsen says:

    I’m with you re: not wasting salad dressing. Dilute it with a better variety rather than pour it down the drain.

    And Allegiant scares me for more reasons than its emergency landing record!

    Since you’re on an autobiography kick, I’m wondering about a certain ballet dancer autobiography you might be partially through. There’s a lot in there regarding resilience, routine and the necessity of both in a dancer’s– or anyone’s life. 🙂

  4. Eric says:

    Having had no idea what an oil diffuser was, I suspected it might be a toxic, proprietary additive used in fracking.

    And, Ringo’s work on “Rain” is great, although I think his best was on “She Said, She Said”.

  5. Pete says:

    Life is too short to waste on shifty salad dressing you bought for $5.99.

    The same is true for wine. If you’ve got a shit bottle… uncork one you like.

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