Final Thoughts of the Night, 2014

Each night, shortly before going to sleep, I tell my wife a Final Thought. These may be funny, they are sometimes dumb, they may be vaguely story-like, they may be pseudo-philosophical and intelligent-sounding, they may be almost mythic from a spur-of-the-moment mythos. The topics have spanned a wide range of subjects: animals, steampunk, food, technology. Anything that pops into mind is fair game. The full story is at the bottom.

January, 2014 140101I am exceedingly grateful for nurses and doctors and hospitals and medicines, and that I have health insurance that lets me use them. I am seething with anger towards the rat bastards who are actively trying to keep everyone from having affordable healthcare, especially when those same rat bastards piously wrap themselves in the mantle of Christianity. 140102There was a girl in high school who had white hair. It was really cool. It was also a revelation to me that someone could have white hair and not be an Old Person. These days, many years after high school, I look in the mirror and try to convince myself that white hair on Old People can also be cool. 140103Everyone knows you aren't supposed to thank the fae for the housework and favors they do for you. Depending on the source, thanking the fae will either put you irrevocably in their debt or render their gifts valueless. I fear neither of these is true, and that tale was started by greedy humans trying to control and manipulate the fae. I suspect the fae are anxious for our friendship and our approval, which is why they help us in the first place. Withholding our appreciation will keep them striving ever harder to win our respect, thus keeping them subordinate and effectively subjugated. If we were to express appreciation for their hard work, we might just enter a new, golden era of friendship and cooperation between fae and humans. 140104I wonder why people are "in the movies" and "on TV". Why isn't anyone "on movies" or "in the TV"? 140105It would have been really funny if Led Zeppelin had actually intended their fourth album to be called "Hugs and Kisses" with a shorthand title of "XOXO". 140106Imaginary friends are always welcome at mathematicians' parties, so the invitations always come with a "+i". 140107Snowmen have a head, a thorax, and an abdomen, all in nice, clearly segmented sections. By definition, this makes them insects. 140108Whenever we start setting up colonies on the Moon or Mars, I bet some of the first equipment that gets sent will be 3-D printers. 140109Time imparts meaning: real, implied, and imagined. The implied meaning comes from the subject, and the imagined meaning comes from the observer. For instance, there is little meaning if I say that I am married. However, if I say I have been married 26 years, then that gives a time frame and a concurrent course of events. It implies I am still married, and it implies that I am either very happily married or am bored with my marriage. With no other referent, the implication is up to the observer to choose between happiness and boredom, based on the tendencies of their own imagination. So not only does time impart meaning, but it subtly probes the mind of the observer to receive the imbued meaning. Regardless, the reality is that after 26 years I am still very happily married. 1401103-D printers are cool, but what I want is a 4-D printer. "Gee, I really needed this screwdriver last Tuesday." "Hang on a second, let me fire up my FTL 4-D printer and we'll get one right then." 140111Physicists have developed String Theory which, speaking very loosely, is used to describe the basic makeup of the universe. The problem is that String Theory has a number of unresolved problems, problems which have gotten a bit messy and result in a number of loose ends. The loose ends and messiness can be understood and explained in a more recent, related theory. The so-called Yarn Theory explains and embraces the messiness and loose ends by the acknowledgment of the existence of the Great Cosmic Cat. 140112Cooking Tip #3: When cooking, onions are an almost universal additive. Sure, they don't go with everything, but in most cases the answer to the question, "I wonder if onions would make this better?" is a resounding YES! Garlic also fits this as well.
Cooking Tips Week
140113Cooking Tip #4: Chocolate is the additive for those foods to which Cooking Tip #3 does not apply. However, these two food groups are not completely disjoint; there are some foods to which chocolate and onions may be added, either singularly or in combination.
Cooking Tips Week
140114Cooking Tip #8: Not only does frying improve the flavor of food five-fold, it also makes meats healthier by making them more nutritionally balanced. The meat gives a good amount of protein, the butter in which it's fried adds that important dairy element, and the bread-based coating provides a nice amount of important carbohydrates. Fried meats: delicious, nutritious, and fun to eat.
Cooking Tips Week
140115Cooking Tip #9: If your fried meats have no bread-based coating, you're doing it wrong.
Cooking Tips Week
140116Cooking Tip #16: A good sauce will hide the flavor of those nasty vegetables.
Cooking Tips Week
140117Cooking Tip #37: Most spices are just dried green leaves. You can save piles of money by cutting some green plants from your yard and drying them in a microwave. Grind them up and put the bits in empty spice bottles. No one will be able to tell the difference.
Cooking Tips Week
140118Cooking Tip #51: Greenwich Rhyming Magic can be a very useful kitchen tool and provide economical ingredients. With it, you can substitute a pound of cork for a pound of pork. A wood stake will make a good steak. No fish market nearby? Get some basalt from your local quarry to use in place of sea bass. Potatoes and tomatoes can be used interchangeably. Your cooking can be easier, more spontaneous, and your creativity enhanced if you apply a little Greenwich Rhyming Magic.
Cooking Tips Week
140119Cooking Tip #92: There's an ingredient substitute for those wanting a more healthy -- yet somehow not tasty -- alternative to caramel. Those concerned about sugar intake may modify their recipes to replace all instances of caramel with equal parts camel.
Cooking Tips Week
140120It would be really cool to have cookie jars or sugar and flour bins shaped like canopic jars. 140121It's funny how "surely" has come to mean "Clearly, I don't know what I'm talking about, but I await your superior erudition to kindly and gently explain the errors of my ways." 140122It's a really bad idea to put on great driving music when the roads are foggy or icy. 140123When buying a car in the blazing heat of summer, it is easy to forget the icy roads of winter. 140124Hunter S. Thompson -- or Orson Welles -- said, "We're born alone, we live alone, we die alone." I wonder what identical twins or telepaths would have to say about that. 140125The advent of internet-based social media has brought about facebo, which is the false sense of well-being one receives after blowing a big chunk of time on Facebook. 140126I wonder if Cthulhu has call waiting. 140127Torchwood has a lot of vaguely familiar elements. At it's heart is a small group that's protecting the world from strange creatures and weird phenomena. Their work requires lots of research and investigation. Their leader has a mysterious background and ties to a secretive organization from England. Then it hit me. Cardiff isn't built on a Rift, it's built on a Hellmouth. 140128We get an interesting sound phenomenon when the snow is thick on the roof and the temperature starts rising. Large sheets of snow break away from the main mass and slide down the roof to the ground. The noise the snow makes as it slides always makes me think The Luggage from Discworld is trotting around on the roof. 140129The Vietnam War was the backdrop to my childhood. I was blissfully unaware of it, mostly. I knew there was a war going on, an uncle served there as a Navy medic, and I have a vague mental image probably glimpsed during a news broadcast. Otherwise, I didn't really know what was happening. My friends and I were too wrapped up in the coolness of the US having won World War II to focus on the present war. I turned 18 years after the Vietnam War was over, but my older brother was approaching draft age while it was still winding down. I've never talked to my brother or my parents about this, but I have no idea what they were feeling as his 18th birthday drew inexorably nearer. Fear and terror? Patriotic pride? What were they thinking and feeling? 140130The trite admonition "Don't talk the talk if you can't walk the walk" is a rewording of the equally trite "Don't do the crime if you can't do the time." 140131Proponents of the rock-paper-scissors method of conflict resolution operate under a fundamentally flawed assumption. This assumption is that all three elements have a strict, circular hierarchy. Rock will always beat scissors, scissors will always beat paper, and paper will always beat rock. If this hierarchy were always true, then this would be a good method of conflict resolution. Unfortunately, this hierarchy dissolves when transporting any of the three elements. People are never warned about running with rocks or paper. However, you can't escape childhood without the admonition against running with scissors getting deeply imprinted onto the substrate of your brain. If it's too dangerous to run with scissors yet you can run with as many rocks or sheets of paper as you wish, then scissors are clearly much more dangerous than either of the others. If scissors are more dangerous than paper or rock, then it holds true that scissors will beat paper and rock. Therefore, the flawed nature of rock-paper-scissors means it should not be used by any thinking, rational person as a means of resolving conflicts.

February, 2014 140201I have figured out why the Roman Empire fell. As Juvenal correctly pointed out, it's related to bread and circuses. The Empire would still be going strong today if instead of serving bread at the circuses the Empire had served popcorn or cotton candy or nachos. 140202I wonder what you call a desperation pass that's thrown by a non-Christian quarterback. 140203Boxing and brain damage are bound to be interrelated if a square thing is called a ring. 140204I am now better equipped for winter weather than I have ever been, and I'm wondering how I ever survived winters as poorly equipped as I've always been in the past. 140205The Probability Crow weighs the balance between caws and effect. 140206No matter how popular they otherwise are, games shows are merely second rate if they don't have a bonus round. To be in the hallowed ranks of the elite, though, they must have a lightning round. But, oh, if one ever dared to have a bonus lightning round, the gods themselves would descend from the heavens to watch in wonderment. 140207Here are my suggestions for future Winter Olympic exhibition events: luge-style bobsled, equestrian skiing, polar-bear sprint, hickey, skunk curling, slope-style ski dancing, the James Bond combined biathlon and snowmobile slalom, ice fishing, walrus rolling, cross-country moose skiing, Nordic melee combined, and Graeco-Roman tag-team ice dancing. 140207If Russia had gotten a Summer Olympics rather than a Winter Olympics, I wonder if they could have had ballet as an exhibition sport. 140208With a few spices and enough whisky, you can get people to eat just about anything. 140209When ordering a cheesesteak, it's always a good idea to check the menu's spelling of "Philly". 140210I think IUDs are very poorly named; in particular, the "device" part of the name. To me, a device has a motor, or a power source, or an engine, or gears, or a multitude of moving parts, or can explode. None of that goes at all well with the concept of an IUD. 140211I'm really enjoying winter this year. So many people are blaming the bad weather on the groundhog. Not the groundhogs, but on the groundhog. And not just for the local weather, but for the continent-spanning bad-weather systems we've been having. I am quite fond of the thought that a single rodent has that much control over the weather, especially when it's just the moon phases that groundhogs really control. 140212When virologists and epidemiologists catch a cold, they get a deep-down sense of dread that it's much, much more than a cold. 140213Zombies aren't known for high dexterity and graceful movement, so I wonder how they end up moving around on ice and snow. I expect they'd be just as ungainly as I am whenever I strap on a pair of skates. When it's icy, do zombies become the sliding dead? Do they micro-lurch around, shuffling inch by inch? Zombie Apocalypse On Ice might be worth it just for the laughs at watching them trying to move around on ice. 140214In the popular mind, Morris dancing is the bagpiping of England. 140215Curling is one of the really cool events at the Winter Olympics, and I always hope to catch the rare moments of televised coverage. It is elegant, and challenging, and incomprehensible. I don't understand the sport, but it looks like it's an interactive version of shuffleboard, with lots of yelling and the added fun possibility of frostbitten knees. I don't believe the rumors that originally a haggis was used instead of a stone. 140216Ronco was the real-world incarnation of Acme. 140217Clarke's third law states, "Any sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from magic." I think perhaps the reverse is also true. 140218Y'know the "Talk to the hand" thing? Jim Henson started that. 140219At the beginning of band practice, the director always does a fast tuning of each instrument to get a quick indication if we're sharp, flat, or right in tune. If I start the practice right in tune I feel like I've won the rehearsal and should be able go home right then. 140220I think Tolkien had a little touch of arachnophobia. 140221Sometimes when I'm counting squirrels, I'm reminded of a Dr. Seuss book and I subconsciously chant, "One Squirrel, Two Squirrel, Red Squirrel, Blue Squirrel." I then spend a few minutes musing about how wonderful it would be to have blue squirrels. 140222The fundamental idea behind just about every winter sport is, "Frozen water is slippery!" 140223Video games for computers have had an interesting evolution. There were the text-based puzzle-quest games, such as Advent. Then came the ASCII-based quests, where Rogue was one of the biggest. Side-scrolling third-person shooters, such as Duke Nukem, came along, with simplistic, cartoonish graphics. These led to first-person shooters with much more complex and life-like graphics, such as Duke Nukem 3. Lately, most of the games I've seen have been guilt-based, social-pressure, task-accomplishment games. These are spread from friend to friend, and usually start with either "Click 'Like' and we'll see how many people are true friends that are REALLY reading my stream" or "Let's fill TwitFace with this-particular-thing, click 'Like' and I'll give you something to go search for." In this latest version of video games, I wonder how score is being kept and who the scorekeepers are. (I admit that this latest version of video games is the one I am most likely to play.) 140224I'm not a big fan of the Whitehall Farce. I don't know why, but I'm just not keen on all the running around and door slamming. In a movie or a play, I see a long hallway with a bunch of doors and my heart sinks. Even Dr. Who doesn't make me like Whitehall Farce. In "Love & Monsters", the Doctor and Rose are thrown into a Whitehall Farce while chasing -- and being chased by -- a monster in a warehouse, and I felt like it diminished this otherwise excellent episode. For many years, the only instances of Whitehall Farce that I actually enjoyed were those involving Bugs Bunny; any others just filled me with boredom. Until now. I have found a new, non-Bugs Bunny instance of Whitehall Farce that I liked. In the second Hobbit movie, the long sequence where Smaug is chasing Bilbo and the dwarves around the dwarf halls in The Lonely Mountain is effectively a Whitehall Farce. I guess that I'll enjoy Whitehall Farce if it includes Bugs Bunny or dragons. 140225I wonder if Roget was ever at a loss for words. 140226One of the cool things about playing trombone is that you get to use a squirt-gun and pretend it's all part of normal instrument maintenance. 140227You can run a "Schrödinger's Cat" experiment from your very home, and without the risk of killing any cats. Take a powered-down computer and disconnect it from all networking connections, printers, blinky lights, speakers, monitors -- anything the computer can use as an output device. Plug in the computer and turn it on. After a few minutes, you've got a functional, multidimensional "Schrödinger's Cat" experiment before your very eyes. The computer and all its software are in one of several states simultaneously. Everything is working perfectly; many things are working reasonably well; some things are working, some things aren't; very few things are working; and absolutely nothing is working -- all at the same time. These conflicting and mutually exclusive states will stay in perfect balance within your computer. Type, click, and mouse to your heart's content, and everything will work wonderfully! And terribly. And with a few problems here and there. Until you connect an output device and check the system's status, the computer will be doing everything, something, and nothing. You have built "Schrödinger's Computer". 140228It's considered bad luck if a black cat crosses your path. This has always troubled me due to all the questions it's raised. Does the bad luck come just if the black cat crosses your path? Do you only get the bad luck if you then also cross the path trod by the black cat? Does the bad luck adhering to a black cat's path last forever or does it eventually evaporate? If you have to also cross the black cat's path, how long do you have to wait to cross the black cat's path before you don't receive any bad luck? Does the angle of your path to the black cat's path affect the intensity of the bad luck? Does the speed of the black cat affect the intensity of the bad luck you receive? What happens if the black cat crosses your path after you've already walked past? Do you still get bad luck, or is it only if the black cat crosses before you pass? What happens if the black cat partially crosses your path and then turns back and goes the way it come? I've always assumed the cat had to cross my path in front of me, but that's only crossing a potential path. To truly cross my path, the black cat would have to cross behind me, where I've already walked. If this is how it really works, how can I possibly know when I can legitimately blame bad luck on a black cat? This whole thing sounds pretty discriminatory. Maybe the color of a cat's fur has nothing to do with the bad luck you receive. Regardless of the answers to all these questions, life will be immeasurably better if you just keep a dog by your side.

March, 2014 140301The old punishment of "Lock him up and throw away the key" doesn't do much good when there's a decent chance the condemned prisoner doesn't need a key to open the lock. 140302Researchers have found that the brain can remodel itself depending on how it is used. With extensive practice of a particular skill or action, the parts of the brain responsible for that action will be strengthened and enhanced. The brains of people with a specific skill will have somewhat different brains than those people without that skill. I wonder if zombies would develop taste preferences for brains of people with certain skills. Might they prefer musician brains to economist brains, mechanic brains to journalist brains, skater brains to football player brains? How would these inarticulate shamblers express their menu desires with only grunts and moans for communication? 140303I am confused by the almond milk you buy. First, almonds are plants and not mammals, so how can they have milk? Second, almond trees have nuts and are therefore male, so again how can they have milk? I think almonds trees must be taxonomic and sexual hermaphrodites. 140304Chutney sounds like the nickname of an upper-class English frat-boy. 140305As I have previously said, I am not a fan of the Whitehall Farce. All the door slamming and running around just doesn't appeal to me, the only exception being when Bugs Bunny and dragons are involved. Another exception has come to mind. I would enjoy a Whitehall Farce -- a Whitehall Forest Farce, if you will -- if the running people were replaced with scampering squirrels and the doors were actually holes in tree trunks. I think I'd rather enjoy seeing a bunch of squirrels running in and out of tree holes and bamfing between trees. 140306There are several types of people. One sees the glass as half empty. Another sees the glass as half full. The third wants to be left alone so they can drink their whisky in peace. 140307It would be really convenient if life provided background music to let you know when something was going to happen, and whether the something would be good or bad. It might be a useful, though distracting, superpower to have -- to hear the musical foreshadowings of the people around you. 140308The children of several friends have recently participated in pinewood derbies sponsored by the Scouts. My friends have posted lots of photos of pinewood racing cars. Most cars were painted with flames, lightning bolts, shooting stars, and other such things. Clearly, the decorations added panache to the cars, but I was wondering if that was the only reason for them. Does a bit of paint help with streamlining a car? Does the picture make it easier to distinguish one car from another? Then it struck me. This was a form of sympathetic magic. By giving a car an image of something that moves fast, the car will itself be imbued with additional speed. So an organization that discriminates based on sexual orientation is openly supporting and sanctioning the use of magic. 140309I auditioned for a part in "The Fantasticks" but I didn't get it because I thought I was auditioning for a part in the stage version of "The Aristocrats."
Sweetheart of Dumb Joke Week
140309Q: What do vultures fly with?
A: Carrion luggage.
Sweetheart of Dumb Joke Week
140309Q: What is a bunny's favorite city?
A: New York City, because of its five big boroughs.
Sweetheart of Dumb Joke Week
140310During the Cold War, the US had beet poets, but the Soviet Union had borscht poets.
Sweetheart of Dumb Joke Week
140311Q: Why did Dracula join the circus?
A: He wanted to be an acro-bat.
Sweetheart of Dumb Joke Week
140312Q: What is Batman's favorite bread?
A: Naan-naan-naan-naan, Naan-naan-naan-naan, Naan-naan-naan-naan, Naan-naan-naan-naan.
Sweetheart of Dumb Joke Week
140313Q: How does a cow get on the internet?
A: It connects its computer to a mooodem.
Q: How does a cat get on the internet?
A: It looks vaguely interested in a cheeseburger, 17 people appear and take the cat's picture, then they post the photos all over the place.
Sweetheart of Dumb Joke Week
140314Q: Who do you most want on hand when you've burned yourself?
A: A bobby, indicating he's available to help by saying, "Aloe, aloe, aloe. What's all this then?"
Sweetheart of Dumb Joke Week
140315You've got to be careful when parking in front of a witch's house. If you take her favorite parking spot, she might have you toad.
Sweetheart of Dumb Joke Week
140316As a teenager, I had trouble with most math classes. I think the trouble goes back to a stumbling block I had with one of the fundamental concepts. Regardless of what the numbers say, to me cakes are squared and pies are circled. 140317Comets in our solar system are most likely to come from one particular region in the Oort cloud. Along with regular timing of mass extinctions on Earth, this has led some astrophysicists to hypothesize the existence of a gas giant out beyond Pluto's orbit, a gas giant that has yet to be seen. There is a related possibility that scientists seem to be ignoring. Perhaps that region of the Oort cloud, if not the entire cloud itself, is the location of Jotunheim. This would make comets the snowballs that the giants are throwing at Midgard and Asgard. We are fortunate the giants don't have great aim, or the mass extinctions might be much more frequent. If Earth is Midgard (and where else could it be?) I wonder where Asgard and the other realms are. 140318I have devised the ultimate weapon. It combines unstoppable killing force, terror for the enemy, and the ultimate in coolness. It is called the Shark Tank. It is similar to a conventional tank, in that it's a big, heavily armored vehicle that trundles out onto the battlefield. Its unconventionality is shown when it enters battle. Once engaged, the Shark Tank launches sharks at the opposing forces. The flashing razor-sharp teeth, the relentless savagery of a shark pack's feeding frenzy, the ominous music that accompanies any shark attack -- all these elements combine to make this the ultimate weapon. After having made short work of the enemy, the sharks return to the Shark Tank and withdraw to base for lemonade and cribbage at the Officer's Mess. 140319Dog-sledding sounds like it might be fun, but I worry about the dogs freezing their tummies on the snow. Besides, how would you steer, pull on their ears? 140320There are some people who can't give a compliment without tacking a snide comment on the end that negates the whole thing. Whenever that happens, I always want to kick their "but..." 140321It was a minor revelation to me when I realized that Woodstock has a mohawk. 140322Yoga pants are this generation's leg warmers. 140323Any self-respecting villain has a secret lair, filled with henchmen, a shark tank, and one or two incongruously gentle pets to show that deep down the villain has a human side. The shark tank and incongruously gentle pets make me wonder about how they are cared for. Can you really see Blofeld changing his cat's litterbox? Or Largo cleaning his own shark tank? No, someone else does those odd jobs. Who does those things though? Is it the teenager from down the street, wanting to earn a little money for college? Is there a pool boy who comes once a week, every Thursday afternoon, to scrub down the shark tank? I've got this mental image of the pool boy coming 'round the same day that Indiana Jones or James Bond arrives to vanquish the villain. The pool boy is just standing there, mouth agape, as the Dashing Hero shoots all the henchmen, throws the villain in the shark tank, and carries off the villain's beautiful mistress. And the pool boy wonders if he's going to get paid for the past month's shark-tank cleaning, or if maybe he should just take this diamond-encrusted cat collar and call it even. 140324Birdwatching is not a pastime for the pessimist. 14032520th-century classical music shows why compose and compost are spelled so similarly. 140326In Norse mythology, there was a land of fire in which dwelt trolls who couldn't be bothered with proper grammar, spelling, and punctuation in their writing. The fire came from those living outside this realm, who were always sending flames to the trolls inside. This realm was called Misspellheim. 140327It's long been known that one way to madness is to read the comments section of a website or blog. The meanness, sexism, racism, rancor, and general evil in the comments can be overwhelming. Recently, I've made the mistake of skimming some comments sections of a few syndicated comic strips. Boy, let me tell you that's a mistake. The comments aren't evil, but you still don't want to read them. Most of the comments are attempts to provide the cartoonist with the jokes that should have been used, or explanations for why the joke isn't funny, or explanations for why the joke is funny, or details of factual inaccuracies. The worst are the jokes the cartoonists should have used. Those are rarely funny and even more rarely are they as good as the joke that was actually used. People don't seem to realize that funny isn't easy, and they should leave humor to the professionals. (Several years of these Final Thoughts are proof of this.) 140328The missionary position was so named because that's the only position in which missionaries were allowed to engage in sex with the local people. (At least that's the story I heard.) This raises a number of questions. What positions did the missionaries want to use but couldn't? Was this officially sanctioned sex only allowed after a missionary had married a local? If not, was this implicit permission for the missionary to have extramarital sex? Who was the authority who ruled about sex positions? What was the ecclesiastical title of this granter-of-sex? And finally, were there different rules for missionaries than for non-missionary clergy? 140329Friends have lamented how much trouble they're having with their children, and take heart in the assurances from other parents that "Well, this age is bad but it'll get better next year." The child gets a year older and the troubles change, but don't really go away. Different folks say, "Well, this age is bad, but it'll get better next year." I am only seeing this from the outside, but it looks like the problems change but never go away. I'm coming to the conclusion that the "It'll get better next year" hopes are one of those optimistic fictions we tell ourselves in order for our species to survive. 140330Science Owls say, "Why?" 140331During a walk at the lake, I learned that fishing tackle grows on trees.

April, 2014 140401I've always wondered just what it meant to gird one's loins. I've looked into this a bit and there are two related definitions that, taken together, give a rather risqué meaning. First, a girder is a large, rigid, steel beam. So girding one's loins must mean that the loins are getting similar characteristics to a girder, that the loins are becoming large and rigid. Second, to gird something means that it is surrounded and encircled. So girding one's loins must mean that the loins are becoming surrounded by something. Taking these two together must mean that when you gird your loins you are preparing for (or are already) having sex. 140402Every pun war, if it goes on long enough, will devolve to focus on fish puns. 140403Forsythia reminds me of popcorn. In the beginning of spring, individual blossoms burst forth, like newly popped kernels of popcorn. By the start of summer, the forsythia bushes are overflowing with forsythia blossoms. For a few weeks, we have bushes with nice big batches of buttered popcorn. 140404I'd love to be the tattoo-removal guy. Not because I hate tattoos, but because tattoos are removed with lasers and that way I'd get to zap people with a laser. I would totally get into the job and make all sorts of zappy, kapowy, lightsabery noises. 140405Music arrangements, as with laws and sausage, are things it is better not to see being made. 140406The people who say "quote-unquote" don't understand how quotes work, nor their purpose. By putting nothing between the quote and the unquote, they are effectively quoting nothing. Some might argue that of course it's the bit right after the unquote that is being quoted, but if that were true where does that bit end? Is it the next word? The next phrase? Everything until the end of the sentence? The end of the statement? It is too vague, too indistinct, for something that is being quoted. It is intellectually sloppy to leave the actual quote unspecified like this. That's why the unquote exists, to precisely show the limit of the quote. (And don't get me started on my rant of how "unquote" is a poor word choice and should be replaced by "end-quote".) 140407The wild deer population appears to be unusually low this year. This is indicated by the proliferation of daffodils blooming in our yard. 140408The Spring Rabbit dances in the meadow, wrapped in gentle warmth. The Hounds of Summer are belling from over the next hill, soon to arrive with searing heat blazing from their eyes and a humid fog boiling from their muzzles.=20 140409A former, um, associate of mine said that if I don't give him some money by Friday that he was gonna put a cap in my ass. I don't know what's typical, but I hope he uses a knit cap. I don't think I could accommodate a baseball cap's brim. 140410Much of Maryland cuisine is based on fried food. This makes it the county fair of state cuisines. 140411One of the problems with losing weight is that you need to limit the number of calories you eat. The way people talk about calories, you would think they were an actual ingredient. However, if you look on ingredient lists, you won't see them included in any foods. That's because a calorie is actually a unit of heat. It only makes sense then that food doesn't inherently contain calories, but that they are introduced into food after they've been made. This must mean that calories are introduced to food when the food is heated. Therefore, the easiest way to limit calories must be by eating frozen food, since the food is frozen and therefore has no calories to worry about. This makes ice cream one of the healthiest diet foods available. 140412An expert may be defined as a person with greater knowledge of a particular subject than their audience. Unfortunately, it sometimes happens that the expert only claims to have greater knowledge. 140413Whenever I make the ultra-dark brownies to bring to a party, there are often some left to bring home. However, no matter how many are left it's invariably too few; I'm always thinking I should have made two batches. 140414Any time someone says, "... and monkeys might fly out my butt" I always think of The Wizard of Oz. 140415Grass and hay and grains are, nutritionally speaking, vegetables. Cows and sheeps and chickens all eat grass and hay and grains, so cows and sheeps and chickens are vegetarians. Everyone knows a vegetarian diet is healthier than a non-vegetarian diet, so there's a very useful nutritional property to be aware of. This nutritional property states, "You are what you eat." If you eat cows and sheeps and chickens, then this transitive property of nutrition states that you are also a vegetarian. 140416Every political gathering should have several high-quality defibberlators on hand. 140417I feel sorry for woolly bear caterpillars. People put so many expectations on them to accurately predict the coming winter, but all the woolly bears are doing is trying to grow pretty coats. 140418Playlists are evil. They include only the "best" music as defined at a particular time. People tend to listen to the playlists and ignore the full albums from which the playlists were constructed. The rest of the albums, the music not on a playlist, is likely to be ignored or overlooked forevermore. This means you don't have the the joy that comes of discovering that you really like a song you'd only been half-listening to for years. 140419Pete Seeger played clue-hammer banjo. 140420Seeing the goldfinches in full bloom, filling the trees, I know what inspired the invention of Peeps. 140421I want to live in a world where, in addition to sick leave, holiday, and vacation leave, all workers are given "book leave" so that they can stay home when they need to finish reading a book. 140422A diaeresis is a diacritic mark that indicates an overabundance of vowels will soon come tumbling forth from your mouth. 140423I salute the person who created the spelling of "diaeresis". The group of three vowels has two opportunities for including a diaeresis. One is improperly missing its diaeresis and the other is properly missing a diaeresis. 140424In 1998, around 2.3 million names were registered in the internet's Domain Name System. By 2010, this number had grown to 192 million. As of the beginning of 2014, an estimated 271 million domains were registered. The internet and the DNS system are quietly, slowly working to fulfill Arthur C. Clarke's story, "The Nine Billion Names of God". 140425There's a fundamental problem with losing weight as you get older. When you're young, you can stay fit by exercising and strengthening your core. As you get older, you develop multiple cores and you just can't exercise them all. 140426Heaven is the after-party for life. 140427I have a weird habit of putting things in cabinets with the labels facing inwards. Why do I do this? Am I trying to randomize food preparation or medicine taking? Am I doing it for the benefit of the gnomes that live in the depths of the cabinets? One of the mysteries of life... 140428I wonder if radioactive elements have a half-life crisis. 140429People are fond of saying, "What doesn't kill you makes you stronger." Maybe I'm paranoid, but I think that what doesn't kill you is actually probing, learning your weaknesses, biding its time until it can come back to get you once and for all. 140430Language courses cover grammar, syntax, and vocabulary, allowing the student to become fluent in a language. However, there's an aspect to learning a language that isn't really addressed by anyone. Not Rosetta, not Pimsleur, not Berlitz, not anyone I'm aware of, but it's critical to really becoming fluent in a language. That's the language age. Not the age of the language as a whole, but the age at which you'll be perceived by the vocabulary, the slang, the elisions, and other such things that you use. These linguistic elements tell a listener roughly how old you, the speaker, are. As a teenager, do you want to be learning the Spanish of an 80-year-old grandmother? As a 50-year-old, do you want to be learning the German of a 20-year-old? No one lets you choose the language age you're learning and it's an important consideration.

May, 2014 140501My dentist told me that my teeth were too white and I was clearly using too much toothpaste. He said that with toothpaste, as with anything you put in your mouth, portion control is important. 140502Even flying pigs check the weather forecast before takeoff. 140503Q: What is a cow's favorite piece of jewelry?
A: Her moooooood ring.
Brother of Dumb Joke Week
140504Q: What is a pirate's favorite liquid measure?
A: A Spanish gallon.
Brother of Dumb Joke Week
140505Q: What's a cat's favorite condiment?
A: Meownnaise.
Brother of Dumb Joke Week
140506Q: What's a cat's least favorite condiment?
A: Mustard.
Brother of Dumb Joke Week
140507Q: What is the favorite harmonic device of the Enterprise captains?
A: Picard-y thirds.
Brother of Dumb Joke Week
140508Q: How do you know if musicians are angry?
A: They lose their tempo.
140509Q: What is a dentist's favorite time of day?
A: 2:30 (tooth-thirty, tooth-hurty)
Brother of Dumb Joke Week
140510If I played string bass, I wouldn't play with the end pin extended. This way, the short string bass would make me look really tall. 140511My toothpaste tube claims, in big bold letters, that it is Tartar protection. I don't know much about warfare, but I am at a loss as to how toothpaste can protect against Mongol warriors. 140512There's lots of talk about requiring cell phones to have "kill switches", a way for a phone owner to erase and disable the phone if it is stolen. This protects the owner's data and privacy. It's a good first step, but I want a "puppet switch." I want to have a means of always controlling my cell phone. Sure, my phone has been stolen and it's been wiped and the password's been changed, but I want to keep overall control of the phone. I want to be able to download anything the new user puts on it. I want to be able to zap the phone whenever I want, as often as I want. I want to be able to read and edit the email, the contacts, the calendar, the photos, anything really, put there by whoever is using my stolen phone. I want to make it continually inconvenient for the user of my stolen phone. I want to make it not just inconvenient, but really undesirable and unpleasant to use a stolen cell phone. 140513Some people like to use the "know Biblically" idiom, but I find it too open-ended. I wonder if there's a difference between Old Testament knowing and New Testament knowing. What about the Torah and the Apocrypha, is there Torah knowing and Apocryphal knowing? Is knowing different depending on the version of the Bible, such as the King James, Good News, or English Standard versions? What if you aren't Christian? In ancient Egypt, would you know someone Book of the Deadishly? Would a Viking know someone Eddaically, or a Mayan know someone Popul Vuhishly? 140514Lots of tests of fundamental differences between humans and animals have been identified by all sorts of scientists and researchers -- animal behaviorists, biologists, and psychologists. However, none of these differences are general enough to cover the behavioral characteristics between humans and all other animals. Except for one. The one sure-fire test is that with humans, you can't distinguish between juveniles and adults by using the fart-joke test. 140515When I was a kid, I discovered this candy bar that was chocolate and toffee and tasted really good and there were two in a package so it was like getting twice as many candy bars. As if that wasn't enough, it was also healthy. I thought that was fantastic -- chocolate and toffee and two and it was healthy! This was amazing. I told my brother about it and he laughed and laughed at me. Turns out it was a Heath Bar, not a Health Bar. 140516I love magic. Card tricks, sleight of hand, grand illusions, I love to see a magician work. However, even though I want to know how everything works, I don't want to know how magic works. I want to be entranced and amazed by magic. Knowing just spoils the joy. 140517Rather than sounding like the name of the event itself, Preakness Stakes sounds like the fate awaiting the losers of the race. 140518Lightning is a sign that God doesn't necessarily work in straight lines. 140519It seems that many people want poetry read at their funerals. Since I'm not very big on poetry, I think I'll help you out a bit for When The Time Comes. Here's something you can include in my funeral service. Not only will this help set the proper mood, but it's already the actual text, pre-written and ready to go, so it should save you a little time and effort:
Wayne loved words. He loved the meanings of words, the nuances, the etymologies, the sounds, the way words feel in the mouth, the spellings, the way words work together, the individual letters. He could never look up just one word in a dictionary, but would always get lost reading it. He collected foreign-language dictionaries. He had paper and electronic copies of the Oxford English Dictionary. Despite this love of words, Wayne wasn't very big on poetry. He didn't understand poetry very well, even though he had a great-uncle who literally wrote the book on poetry. However, there were a small number of poems he loved. This poem by Gelett Burgess is one of his all-time favorites:
I never saw a Purple Cow,
I never hope to see one;
But I can tell you, anyhow,
I'd rather see than be one.
140520It's amazing how many everyday phrases have five syllables. You don't even have to count the syllables, you just have to see if you can easily slap the "neer neh neer neer neer" onto the end. "Gassin' up my car, neer neh neer neer neer." "Watching CNN, neer neh neer neer neer." "Drinkin' home-made beer, neer neh neer neer neer." "What will you have, sir? Neer neh neer neer neer." "Gen'ral Tso's chicken, neer neh neer neer neer." The Doors did the world a tremendous service when they wrote that song. 140521Some politicians are fond of saying that everyone deserves a "fighting chance" to succeed. While I agree with the intent of this sentiment, it kind of sounds like these politicians are pushing to institute some sort of Hunger Games program. 140522There's an aspect of tea that I didn't understand. Some teabags float and some teabags sink. This happens even with teabags that are virtually indistinguishable and of the same brand. There doesn't seem to be any obvious reason why some teabags float and some sink. Being wise in the ways of science, I decided to think further about this issue. I thought what also floats? Bread floats, apples float, ice cream floats, very small rocks and cherries float. Also, both wood and ducks float. Therefore, if a floating teabag weighs the same as a duck, then it must be a witch. It then follows that, as with wood, witch teabags must be burned. 140523While trimming the birds' nails today, I kept telling myself this was just as traumatic for me as it was for them. A while after we finished, giant hands reached down from the heavens, wrapped me in a huge towel, and flipped me upside-down. The giant hands cut my beard short, cut my hair, and trimmed my toenails -- none of which I thought needed to be done. I was terrified, but still I struggled against the giant hands. I'm sure the whole process was just as traumatic for the giant hands as it was for me. 140524Raccoons are big proponents of woodland poetry. In fact, raccoon cubs earn their tail stripes by participating in deep-forest poetry slams. The more rings a raccoon has, the more poetry they performed as a cub. Also, the thicker and darker the rings, the greater acclaim their poetry received. 140525When we're out walking, I really enjoy using my walking stick to flip small branches, sticks, stones, and other such things off the path. I've gotten pretty good at moving things around with my walking stick, if I may say so. This latent talent is making me think I should take up a sport like shinty, hockey, golf, or curling. 140526I am well aware of the dangers of refined sugar. That's why I only use sugar that listens to punk rock and cusses at me when I scoop it from the sugarbowl, like brain grains from a china skull. 140527When I was a kid, I loved the "Fantastic Voyage". I learned basic elements of human biology from that movie. I learned what antibodies look like and how they react to threats. I learned that brains looked and acted like sparkly curtains, especially when shot with lasers. I learned that surgery required your head to be shaved and surrounded by tiny antennas. I learned white blood cells can destroy submarines. I learned tear ducts have a direct connection to the brain. More fundamentally, I learned that movies can teach you really cool things. 140528People have a deep-seated need to push buttons. They see a button, the fingers start itching to push it. Also, the redder the button, the more powerful the urge to push it. If you label it "DANGER" or "DON'T PUSH" then the temptation will be irresistible. Unfortunately, many buttons don't have a visible effect. You can push it all you want and you never know what it's doing, if anything at all. This is why people have an equally powerful need to tap on microphones. Not only is it a big button plopped in front of them, but you tap on the microphone -- you push the button -- and you get all this wonderful noise that irritates anyone in hearing range. Immediate gratification and lots of attention, all at the push of a button. 140529Mathematics is considered a pure discipline, one that isn't open to individual interpretation. Numbers are a mathematical concept, and are either real or imaginary. Moral values are either real or imaginary, depending on your point of view. By the transitive property, it follows that moral values are also mathematical concepts. Extending this logic further, morality must also be a pure discipline, and not open to subjective situations or individual interpretation. Since I developed this indisputable chain of logic, clearly my moral values are the ones that are objectively correct. 140530I am glad that Leonardo da Vinci's genetic experiments with Vitruvian Man were ultimately unsuccessful. If he had succeeded in creating his Vitruvian Army, he would have taken over the world. His Vitruvian soldiers, with all the hands flailing and feet kicking, would have been unstoppable. Topping it off, the flaming genitals would have been terrifying. 140531While da Vinci didn't get much past the drawing board with his planned Vitruvian Army, his Vitruvian Navy was more advanced yet a complete disaster. The one time he called "All hands on deck!" the ship's deck suddenly was so crowded that the ship became top heavy and unbalanced, then it tipped over. All his Vitruvian sailors drowned. But while they lasted, they sure were dab hands at climbing the rigging.

June, 2014 140601Ferris wheel and merry-go-round operators are big believers in karma, and that what goes around comes around. 140602It's interesting the difference in connotations that a singular noun can have from a plural noun. In particular, I'm thinking of singular animals versus plural animals. Saying "I love squirrels" has a rather different meaning than "I love squirrel." The first is saying that I enjoy watching the furry, bouncy critters; the second is saying how much I would enjoy a squirrelburger right about now. It is certainly an implicit connotation and it's probably also regional, but that difference would be recognized in most places I've lived. However, some animals are just confusing, like deer. You never know how someone feels about them -- cute fluffikens or tasty morsel. 140603The basic unit of lasagna measurement is the width of the spatula being used to serve the lasagna. You can cut bigger than the spatula width, but not smaller. If you cut smaller then the spatula, you're going to end up vivisecting the lasagna in your inevitably failed attempt to serve it. This is a pretty basic bit of gastronomic logic that almost no one is aware of. Only very recently did I have the epiphany that allowed me to recognize this bit of pasta wisdom. 140604The Monkey-Replacement Hypothesis holds that almost any song can be made four times more interesting by replacing any two-syllable noun with the word monkey.
"Monkeys Have Fallen."
"Love Me Monkey"
"Stairway to Monkey"
"Monkey Ball"
"Comfort Ye My Monkey"
"Ev'ry Monkey Shall Be Exalted"
"Luck Be a Monkey"
"Monkeys in the Night"
"One Monkey, One Scotch, One Beer"
"She Blinded Me With Monkeys"
The list is endless. One song that the Monkey-Replacement Hypothesis won't help is the theme from "The Monkees".
140605When asked about my stomachache, I said that something I ate disagreed with me. After saying that, I realized that's kind of a dumb thing to say. I think that everything disagrees with the thing that eats it. "Do you mind if I eat you?" asked the hungry eater. "Yes, I do mind, thank you very much for asking, though," replied the tasty food. "I think I've decided I will eat you anyway." "I disagree with your decision and think you should reconsider." 140606Just about every beauty salon I've seen has had many large pictures of attractive women with stylish hair and makeup. I think these must be assumed to function as secular icons -- works of art that represent the ideal that may be achieved by partaking of the salon's rites. Perhaps there is even sympathetic magic inherent in the icons and the workings of the salon. There must be the thought that if the salon can display photos of such well-coiffed people, then surely it can make its patrons look just as nice. It's been about 30 years since I've been in a barber shop, so I don't know if the same sort of iconography is used in them. 140607When I start my punk band, I'm going to call it The Wee Timorous Beasties. 140608Dominions are in the Second Sphere of the ranks of angels. They spend their time managing the work of lower-ranking angels, so they are the middle-managers of angels. Virginia is known as the Old Dominion state. I think it has this nickname because it's where elderly dominions go when they retire. With the mountains on one hand, the sea on the other, and the rolling hills and farmlands in between, the state has something to offer almost any mid-level angel. 140609In "The Well of Lost Plots", Jasper Fforde wrote about the place that unpublished books languish, awaiting publication. I would love to get a video-streaming service that connects to the Well of Lost Shows. That way I could watch the lost seasons of TV shows that were cancelled before their stories were completely told or that didn't make it past the pilot. All eight seasons of "Firefly". The "Gary Seven" series. The David Tennant/Karen Gillan seasons of Dr. Who. Roddenberry's "Spectre" and "Questor Tapes" series. The real endings to "Battlestar Galactica" and "Caprica". The later seasons of "Bones" where Brennan hadn't gotten a lobotomy. 140610I wonder how much popcorn costs at the Cannes Film Festival. These days, popcorn at movies tends to run about 65%-75% of the ticket price. If that holds true for Cannes, then they've gotta have the world's most expensive popcorn. For that kind of money, I'd expect it to have unicorn-milk butter and salt from the sea that flooded Atlantis. 140611It seems my bowels are GPS-enabled. They know when I'm away from home and they clamp down almost as tight as a politician's fist around a campaign donation. Unless they're feeling homesick or malicious, then they unclench at the worst time possible. 140612I wonder how long of a mourning period socks go through when they lose their mate in the wash. 140613I have created an arcade game that combines the messy comedy of Gallagher with the pounding fun of a carnival midway. With a big, over-ripe avocado, you try to smash rodents that suddenly pop up through holes in a nice flat wood surface. I call it Guac A Mole. 140614In the movie Tron, the programs in the computer were living, thinking beings. Given their sentience, as well as their human appearance, it is a small step to assume that the programs also have souls. With the easy availability of operating systems and software, it is trivial to make duplicate copies of these sentient programs. I wonder how similar these sentient programs are. They might look and act the same, but are their souls the same? Does cloning software just copy the bits or does it also copy the soul? Is the act of copying a sentient program really an act of cloning? Do a program's hopes, fears, interests, and personality change from one instance to another? How does the hardware affect them? Would Tron have acted as he did in the movie if he were run on an Intel 286 chip, a quad-core Pentium, or a Motorola 68020? 140615I'm going to be a grandfather. I don't know when, but it apparently has nothing to do with my actual procreative background. I've read several things recently that have referred to an unknown elderly person as a grandmother or a grandfather. This is done in a mildly derogatory way. If this role assignment is done to unknown people, then that means it will be applied to me and at some point I will become a grandfather. 140616I've seen a number of movies and TV shows where a genius is imagining the children he would have with the beautiful love interest. Invariably, the genius says the children would be "beautiful and smart!" There are a number of problems I have with this statement. First off, the media invariably make the genius male. Second, the genius is not recognizing that such things are not easily quantifiable down to four values: smart, dumb, beautiful, ugly. Third, the genius is ignoring that such things are both relative and subjective. Fourth, the genius is also assuming that the desirable traits on both axes will naturally "win", and seems to be forgetting that he's just as likely to have a "dumb and ugly" child. Whatever that means. 140617When smelling tarragon, it is wise to sniff gently as shredded tarragon is light and becomes airborne with great ease. It is all too happy to fill the nose with flakey leaves, along with its lovely aroma. 140618The Summer Duck is seasoned with tarragon, which sharpens the mind for the blazing summer days. The Winter Duck is seasoned with cumin, which warms the soul from within to ease the long frostward winter nights. 140619Some security experts have said that a significant thing about the Snowden NSA documents is that they show the NSA uses the same tools everyone else does, and that they don't have super-duper, exceptionally powerful cracker tools that aren't available to the outside world. It occurs to me that an incredibly devious NSA boss might have engineered the whole Snowden document release to mislead the world into thinking the NSA didn't have fantastic, highly advanced cracker tools when in fact they really do. To pull off something like this, the NSA would have to give up some pretty harmful information, but it might just be worth it to make foreign governments and the public think the NSA had lesser capabilities than they really do. Sure, it's spilling the beans on capabilities that no one knew they had, but it's also making themselves look not terribly advanced over the rest of the world. This might be more valuable in the long run than the exposure of the secrets that has been done. This would be a misdirection campaign for the ages, playing a long game the likes of which this country doesn't play. Or possibly this is merely me taking up the mantle of paranoid conspiracy theorist. 140620There's a certain tone of voice used by some parents when they're punishing their children that I don't think does what it's intended to do. It's the tone of voice used with the phrase, "I trusted you." I think the tone is supposed to indicate the child has done something that deeply disappointed the parent. However, I think maybe the tone of voice, the accusation, the words, and the stress on "trusted" are all working together to teach the child that the parent's trust is a negative thing, something which isn't a thing to be sought. 140621"Potter's field" is a term for a burial ground for unknown or poor people. These fields were not usable for agriculture, but potters would extract clay from these fields, hence the name. I hadn't thought about it before, but that must mean that the decomposed bodies of those buried there would become part of the pottery made by potters that use those fields. 140622I've been wondering about the etymology of the word butcher, and I've developed a theory. I think it comes from the French word bouche, which means mouth. This means that a boucher would be a person who got their mouth all over something. I hypothesize that in old France, bouchers were the people who liked to kiss livestock. They needed an excuse for why they spent so much time with farm animals, so they took up the trade of slaughtering livestock. This was a poorly hidden secret, and they became known as bouchiers de bovins. In time, this changed into the word we use today, cow-botherer. 140623I'm not sure if Autotune is the Photoshop of the music world, or if Photoshop is the Autotune of the photography world. 140624The Moon Hare basked in Selene's light; and accompanied Artemis and the Cloud Stag on the hunt, running and jumping through the forest. The Cloud Stag, jealous of the Moon Hare's skill at leaping, challenged her to a high-jumping contest. The Moon Hare leapt so high, she reached the moon. Now she can only look down and watch Artemis and the Cloud Stag coursing through the forest, lonely but for Selene's gentle light stroking her fur. 140625One of the memorable parts of "The Lion King" is the lesson which showed us that we should take things easy and relaxed. We were even given a slogan -- hakuna matata which translates to "no worries." There's another slogan that's linguistically related to the "Lion King" slogan. This one is hakuna mutanta, and it's a slogan for science-denying chuckleheads that refuse to accept evolution. 140626Many sounds are seductive and enticing: a lover's voice, waves gently washing a shore, bacon cooking, a favorite song. Different sounds capture and caress the ears and thoughts of different people. One of the most seductive sounds I know is the silence sung by the pressing of the snooze alarm. 140627There are things people do that make others laugh and inspire derision towards those caught doing them. Farting, nose picking, belching -- all of these are things you're not supposed to do in public. But everyone does them. Everyone farts, everyone picks their nose, everyone belches. Why do people laugh at someone who's caught doing these things? It isn't that people are doing these things, the social stigma comes from being caught doing these things. You can do these, you've just got to be stealthy. It all comes down to one's skill in bio-stealth. 140628Sometimes nothing will do but to use a spatula.
140629Attila was originally from Baltimore. That's why he's known as Attila the Hon.
Sister of Dumb Joke Week
140630Hungry sharks get together for swim meats.
Sister of Dumb Joke Week

July, 2014 140701Scope's monkey trials determined a scale for rating just how bad monkey breath smells.
Sister of Dumb Joke Week
140702Mozart was one of the great composers of the Classical period because he was so effective at thinking outside the Bachs.
Sister of Dumb Joke Week
140703If I was choosing players for a pick-up game of baseball, one of my first picks would be the Pope because he'd never hit foul balls.
Sister of Dumb Joke Week
140704Despite his dyslexia, Ray Davies always had a secret dream to play basketball for Nwe Yrok.
Sister of Dumb Joke Week
140705Didja hear about the optician who moonlighted as a stand-up comic? He specialized in vitreous humor.
Sister of Dumb Joke Week
140706 Looking at the stage from the balcony, I see a whole bunch of microphone and power cables, of different colors, shapes, and sizes. I see green cables winding this way, orange cables wending that way, red cables lying over here, yellow cables curling over there, black ones stretched out all over. They're all doing their own thing, supporting a variety of equipment. However, they all lead to that one cable snake, plugging in to a common destination, and they're all supporting the performance as a whole. This is a great visual metaphor for Common Ground and how we all work in different ways to reach a common end.
Common Ground on the Hill Week 140707"Ghost Riders in the Sky" is the tale of a cattle drive of ghost cattle, ghost cowboys, and ghost horses. The song talks about firey brands, horses snorting fire, and hot cow breath. The song and the story don't go into it, but I wonder about other aspects of livestock as they relate to these ghost animals. I've marched in enough parades and done enough hill-walking to know that horses and cows aren't shy about cutting loose with poop. If the song can be taken as a guide, then cow plops and horse apples are bound to be flaming piles of terror that come splashing down from the sky whenever the ghost cattle drive passes over. (Not to mention all the smaller blobs of burning nosedrool that must also dribble down.) This explains why the Ghost Riders inspire such awe and horror when seen approaching over a lonely night-time prairie.
Common Ground on the Hill Week
140708From both music and art classes, I've learned that negative space is where the action is.
Common Ground on the Hill Week
140709Chemists are all folk musicians. The only problem is that they all want to play boron.
Common Ground on the Hill Week
140710The real purpose of using fruit in a still-life painting is to give the artist tax-free food.
Common Ground on the Hill Week
140711It'd be really cool to have instrument strings made out of the liquid-metal Terminator from Terminator 2. That way, your instrument could tune itself whenever it sensed it was out of tune. The down-side would be that if your strings didn't like the song you were playing, they would rise up and kill you.
Common Ground on the Hill Week
140712Penny whistles are their own capos.
Common Ground on the Hill Week
140713Now that classes are done, the Major Question looms. What do I do with all this cool new art, pottery, dulcimer, drawings, sculptures, songs, tunes, etc. that I made at Common Ground?
Common Ground on the Hill Week
140714A woman I'd never seen before came up to me and said, "You were wonderful last night." Common Ground -- it's a magical place.
Common Ground on the Hill Week
140715One of the things you don't want to hear a phlebotomist say is, "Let's not do that, so the vein doesn't blow up." 140716In retrospect, that actually is something you want to hear a phlebotomist say because it demonstrates that they're aware of potential problems with their work. It's just a bit unsettling to hear when you're lying on the table and the needle is in your arm. 140717Despite physics and common sense, paper can exhibit unexpected physical properties. In particular, there's something extremely magnetic about the last paragraph in a chapter. You turn to the last page in a chapter and your peripheral vision sees that the text doesn't go all the way to the bottom of the page. "Aha, the last page in the chapter!" says your subconscious. "I bet something really interesting happens down there. Maybe I should read it before reading all this boring stuff up here at the top of the page." Despite your brain's best efforts, your eyes keep getting drawn downwards, inexorably downwards, to read those final lines on the page. 140718Soccer is the teenage boy of sports. There's lots of aimless running around, lots of playing with balls, and lots of attempts to score with very little success. 140719When a book starts swooping around above my head, dive-bombing my face, I think it's time to put the book down and go to sleep. 140720I used to think that plumbing jobs shouldn't be started later than 3pm. I realize now that I was off by three hours and noon is the latest they should be started. 140721Many websites these days require you to login to use the site. Often, these websites combine two otherwise good security techniques into a pointless misfeature. When you have to change your account's password, the password is not actually printed, or it's printed with asterisks or dots or something to show how many characters you've just entered. That's all well and good; you don't want a snooper to see what you've just typed. However, these websites then make you re-enter your password for verification against the first time you typed it. Again, this is not a bad thing. Except... Except that both times the password is obscured and you don't know what you've just entered. Sure, the two passwords may match, but are they what you intended to type? It's easy enough to mistype something, and even mistype it multiple consecutive times. There are plenty of keyboards, both physical and virtual, that have problems and register key-hits that weren't actually made. I wonder if combining these techniques really does anything to help security. 140722When driving into another state, one of the things many people do is to stop at the state welcome center. One of the first things many of those people do at the welcome center is to pee or poop. If providing that toilet service to visitors isn't one of the biggest, most basic welcomes a person can be given, then I don't know what is. 140723I would love to see Tatiana Maslany perform the "Sisters" song from "White Christmas". 140724In The X-Files, the Black Oil was a sentient alien virus that could control people who'd been infected with it. Jo puts Black Oil sunflower seed in the outdoor bird feeders. I think she's trying to infect the birds with Black Oil so she can control them. 140725Tastebuds need an expiration timer. Not one that'll kill the tastebuds, but a timer that lets them work well for a short period. After a bit of time, they'll stop registering food as tasting good and slowly make it start tasting worse and worse, until it becomes intolerable. After a few hours, the tastebuds will reset themselves and be ready for the next meal. That'll help people keep from overeating. 140726Water is one of those primal forces that is beautiful and soothing; powerful, yet gentle. However, it will always rise up and let you know who's boss. 140727The "wee hours of the morning" are called that because that's when the Big Folk are in bed asleep and the Wee Folk come out to work and play. 140728I wonder what types of marksmanship medals the Empire hands out to its stormtroopers. Also, I wonder how many marksmanship medals they've actually handed out. 140729Bluesmen aren't themselves unhappy; they sing the blues for unhappy people. Comedians are often unhappy and depressed; they tell jokes to make other people laugh. Bluesmen and comedians take different paths to reach the same goal. They are mirror images of each other. 140730My brain hates me. A month ago, I had a dream wherein I was taking the final for my operating systems class from college. During that dream, when the professor called "Time's up!" at the end I put my name on both sheets of my completed exam and turned them in. I got the test results in a dream I had this morning. My exam hadn't been graded, but it was rubber-stamped "LATE". However, that had then been crossed out and a hand-written note indicated that the professor Himself needed to read my exam and I needed to talk to the professor about it. This dream came just before my alarm went off. So on a morning when I desperately needed sleep, I spent half an hour of snooze-alarm time being outraged by an unfair condemnation of lateness, then trying to figure out what was so interesting about my exam answers that they overrode the unfair condemnation of lateness, and finally mentally formulating this final thought. My brain hates me. 140731When I was a kid, my mother made this excellent zucchini casserole. It had zucchini and onions and tomatoes and croutons on top and it was wonderful! That casserole convinced me that I really liked zucchini. It wasn't until many years later that I discovered that it wasn't so much that I loved zucchini as it was that I loved soggy bread.

August, 2014 140801I've heard people say they wish they could go back in time to tell their past selves what they know now. I'd like to be able to go forward in time to remind my future self of the eminently logical reasons for why I do some of the stupid crap I do. 140802After a career full of design meetings, I can say that "best of all worlds" usually translates to "everyone's unhappy." 140803Mountaintop miners are apex predators. 140804The cattle drive in "Ghost Riders in the Sky" is the cattle drive of the damned. It's easy to imagine why the cowboys might be damned to that ghostly existence, but why the animals? What would a horse or a cow do that would be so bad as to doom them to a perpetual ghostly existence? 140805The British Empire is falling apart because there are too many Commanders. Just as "Too many cooks spoil the broth", so too do "Too many Commanders spoil the Empire." 140806Monkeys are not percussion instruments. 140807Culinary Masterpiece #1: Today's culinary masterpiece is as simple to make as it is delicious -- a chocolate Poptart slathered with Nutella. 140808Squirrels are sylvan caretakers. They move with ease from the treetops down to the forest floor, and all points in-between. They are keenly aware of everything that's going on, warning their fellow forest-dwellers of threats and dangers. Squirrels are the natural intersection between plants and animals in the forest. All this means they function as a very good barometer of a forest's health. 140809For our last performance, I took my brother's advice and put some product in my hair so I could be stylish. It was hard getting the CDs to stay put up there, and they were awfully uncomfortable rattling around while I was playing. 140810I watched "Tron" again after 32 years since it was released, and there are a few things I learned from it after this watching. First off, I learned that programs are mammals. Second, it was clear that good programs have blue icons; bad programs have red icons. Finally, by adapting a line from another movie of the same vintage, it is important to remember that if a program asks if you're a user, you say YES. 140811I was my father's Designated Driver for his colonoscopy today. After the procedure, I talked to the doctor about how things went. The doctor finished his report by saying that given his age, this was most likely Dad's last colonoscopy. It took a few moments for the full import of that statement to sink in and my inner child has been hiding in a closet ever since. My inner child, my inner adolescent, my inner teenager, my inner adult -- we're all hiding and whimpering. 140812You know those finish-line banners that winning runners break through? I watched so many Bugs Bunny cartoons as a child that I half expect -- and half hope -- that those banners are really giant rubber bands that will fling the runners back to the starting line. (And I wouldn't be at all surprised to learn that this actually was used in a Bugs Bunny cartoon.) 140813If I'm ever on death row, waiting to be executed by electric chair, I think my last meal will consist of nothing but 20 pounds of unpopped popcorn. 140814Music performances when I was a yoof: musical instruments being played, big hair, sometimes colorful costumes, maybe a little dancing.
Music performances now that I have grown up: lip synching, colorful costumes, synchronized dancing and calisthenics.
Now that I'm an old fart, music performances have become candidates for being Olympic exhibition sports.
140815I wonder how many child-warning labels on products should actually read: "This product is intended for intelligent adults. It should NOT be used or owned by stupid adults." 140816In the Tron movies, each program has an identity disk. This disk contains everything that makes that program unique: its identity, its memories, everything it learns. In the real world, we also have such devices, but we call them cell phones. 140817Sharks are always in a bad mood because they're tired of fish and really just want a burger. 140818The last time I saw a super-moon was when Clark Kent had a wardrobe malfunction.
Comic-book Week 1
140819Lois Lane has the worst case of breast and butt cancer in history.
Comic-book Week 1
140820Cyclops from the X-Men has been one of my heroes since I was a child. The ability to shoot power beams from his eyes was always cool, and the necessity of wearing special protective glasses was a cost worth paying. Several years ago I had to start wearing corrective glasses to improve my vision. They're a pain, but the best part of wearing glasses -- aside from getting the eyes working again -- is that I sometimes have to briefly move my glasses to see something close up and that whole glasses movement reminds me of Cyclops having to adjust his protective glasses or visor and I can (very briefly) pretend I'm Cyclops.
Comic-book Week 1
140821Thor should start selling his own line of clothes. He could call it Thunderwear.
Comic-book Week 1
140822When I was a kid, one of the coolest things about Batman was his utility belt. He had all sorts of nifty gadgets and tools and tricks hidden in his belt. The Batarang, the Batclaw, a laser cutter, smoke bombs, a fingerprint kit, all sorts of spiffy things. But Batman is a comic-book hero; no one in real life has a utility belt. Except for the police. Police officers have utility belts. I bet one reason kids want to be police is so they too will have a utility belt, just like Batman.
Comic-book Week 1
140823Galactus has a very indiscriminating palate. To him, everything tastes like chicken.
Comic-book Week 1
140824In the world of movies, Mjöllnir, Thor's hammer, is a pretty impressive weapon. Giant-killer, lightning rod, Loki-weight, it has many uses. One of the coolest is that it will return to the Hand of Thor, no matter where it is, no matter where Thor is. Thor summons it, Mjöllnir comes flying. There do, however, seem to be several laws surrounding this boomerang effect. As I've been able to observe from the movies (my time reading Thor comics is too remote to be of use) has distilled the following Hammer Laws of Return:
1. Mjöllnir will take a direct path back to the Hand of Thor.
2. Mjöllnir will generally follow the curve of the planetary surface.
3. Mjöllnir will not harm humans or other living creatures while travelling back to the Hand of Thor, except as willed by Thor.
4. It is acceptable for Mjöllnir to take minor detours while returning to the Hand of Thor if such a detour results in the death of a giant.
5. In its eagerness to return to the Hand of Thor, Mjöllnir will pass through anything, even such things Mjöllnir wouldn't be able to damage when they were a target of Thor's hammer throws.
6. All these laws may be violated for dramatic effect.
Comic-book Week 1
140825Kit foxes are beautiful little animals. I just wish they came with all the parts and the directions were in English.
Aunt of Dumb Joke Week
140826Q: What is the Terminator's favorite Halloween costume?
A: Bach
Aunt of Dumb Joke Week
140827I've developed a new weight-loss program. I throw people in a pool full of sharks and they have to swim very fast to the side of the pool. I call it Jawsercise.
Aunt of Dumb Joke Week
140828Q: What breed of rabbit are biased and always gets lost in the woods?
A: Möbius Lops, because they are one-sided and non-orientable.
Aunt of Dumb Joke Week
140829Q: What's the favorite dance of the Inner Hebrides?
A: The Rùm-ba.
Aunt of Dumb Joke Week
140830Cows' favorite hairstyle is the beeffant.
Aunt of Dumb Joke Week
140831Politicians should never get too close to doves; doves are always too anxious for a coo.
Aunt of Dumb Joke Week

September, 2014 140901So many good snacks are crunchy and salty. Potato chips, corn chips, peanuts, cashews, bacon -- crunchy and salty all. I was wondering why that's the case and then it hit me. It's a primal taste, seated deep in the murky depths of our taste buds. It goes back to the times of crunching bones to get to that scrummy, scrummy bone marrow. Crunchy and salty.
Food Week 2
140902Peas in hot-and-sour soup are like stinkbugs. No matter how sure you are you've found them all, there's always another lurking somewhere.
Food Week 2
140903I've got a cooking project I'd like to try. I'd like to take recipes with Imperial units and replace some of the units with metric units, and vice versa -- but without translating the amounts. Or trading the amounts between units. For a meatloaf, I'll trade the two pounds of ground beef for two grams of ground beef. For a batch of chocolate chip cookies, instead of using three cups of chocolate chips, I'll use 765 cups of chocolate chips. Some of the results are likely to be inedible, but it'd make for interesting cooking.
Food Week 2
140904Taboo-li is a delicious Arabic salad that you are forbidden from eating.
Food Week 2
140905Beer can help tame the effects of flaming hot peppers. Since pepper heat comes from acid, that must mean that beer is a base and it neutralizes pepper acid. Many people would agree with the thought that beer is a basic substance.
Food Week 2
140906Onion dip is also known as California Dip. It is a documented fact that onion dip has not been served in California since three days after the Ladies Home Journal first used the California Dip name in an article.
Food Week 2
140907No one ever said that less is more when it comes to ice cream.
Food Week 2
140908I got up in the middle of the night to use the bathroom. As I stood up, a voice in the dark challenged, "Where are you going?" "I've got to go to the bathroom," I answered. "Okay," said the voice. As a security professional, I can appreciate the need for challenge-response authentication systems, but "I've got to go to the bathroom" -- especially in that situation -- seems to be much too easy a password to use. 140909Every hike should have a teahouse at the end. Better yet, there should be a teahouse at each end. Best of all, there should be a teahouse at each end and teahouses sprinkled along the way. 140910All these years, I've been mispronouncing the word "schwa" -- as has everyone else I know. The proper pronunciation of it should be "schwuh". 140911Many years of software development have taught me that you are never done with a piece of software, you're just waiting for the next bug report or feature request to arrive. 140912If I was a caveman my sense of humor is likely to be the thing that would keep me alive and also the thing that would get me killed. 140913Someone once said that no plan survives contact with the enemy. Similarly, no matter how meticulous, no luggage-packing survives contact with the first night at a hotel. 140914I had the opportunity to observe some teenagers talking, where the boys were trying to impress the girls. I now understand why some girls seem to turn their brains off in favor of vacuity -- it's a matter of self-preservation. 140915Hiking in bear country is such a cheerful thing. The jingle of bear bells are so happy sounding, like Santa is waiting just around the corner to jump out with a big surprise for you. 140916I am what's known as a social drinker. That one or two times a year that I have alcohol, it's always because a friend has pulled out a bottle of whisky and asks if I want a wee dram. 140917Adverts for diabetes medication shouldn't make me want to go in the kitchen for a handful of M&M's. 140918Commas are a lovely thing that help us make sense of large numbers. I learned that any number greater than 999 gets a comma every three digits. This was a hard and fast rule; no exceptions. So, why don't years ever get commas? Millions of years and bajillions of years get commas, but not the years most people use. 140919Snooze alarms give us the sense of being masters of time. Sure, we have to catch the 7:50 bus, sure, we have to finish the report by 4pm, sure we have to sit through an hour-long class, but we can hit the snooze button and control the next eight minutes! With a snooze alarm, we are all Time Lords! 140920The ill-tempered storms of autumn ride in on the back of Storm Donkey. Lightning flashes as her hooves strike the clouds. Thunder rolls with the braying of her laughter and complaints. The rain falls as she shakes dust and sweat from her mane. Storm Donkey comes and goes at her own whim, she won't be hurried in or out before she's ready. 140921I think it's fairly telling that for an inordinate amount of time I associated chickadees with W.C. Fields rather than the bird. 140922Birding is a good example of the Schrödinger's Cat concept in action. Until a bird is identified, you don't know what it actually is. A bird could be a sparrow, it could be an albatross, it could be anything until it is properly observed and classified. That identification fixes its species in place forevermore. 140923Much has been made of the stereotype that gaming geeks have trouble with romantic relationships. While a lot of this is exactly as valid as other stereotypes, there actually is something to this one. If you get involved with a role-playing gamer, you'll find that gamers have trouble with relationships due to a difference in context and definitions. When you say that you want to take the relationship to the next level, you'll learn that means something entirely different to them than it does to you. You'll be thinking about smooches and snuggles. They'll be thinking about new skills, new spells, experience points, and new job titles. Also, they'll be looking for a defined list of exactly what happens at the next level and what's required to get to the level beyond that one. 140924There are a number of churches hither and yon that are called Crossroads Church. This is an interesting choice of names, given that many traditions say that a crossroads is where you meet the devil. 140925I am amused by the phrase "word of mouth". Where else would the words be coming from? "Tell your friends about our fumier cheese; when it comes to cheese, word of butt is the best advertising." "Take your friends' advice when their tummies are rumbling. Word of gut is what you can trust." "Word of foot is that wool socks are best." 140926I've thought of a really cool way to handle the monetary portion of my estate. Before I die, I'll convert all my savings into cash and place the bills in all my books. I won't place the bills randomly, but instead I'll use them to rate the books. The larger the bills put in a book, the better I think that book is. My heirs can then have a lovely time looking at the books and seeing how good or bad they all are. As cool as it is, this plan has one significant problem. With all the books I have, even if I ever do become rich I'll never have enough cash to be able to rate them all. 140927The designer of Silly Putty was a genius. He took a cheap, wretched ball of putty, put it in a cheery, egg-shaped container and slapped an obscene price on it. Voila! A delightful toy was born. 140928Taking a vacation in the middle of prime vacation season reminds me why I hate taking vacations during prime vacation season. 140929Progress in this country will be hampered as long as The Powers That Be refuse to admit that other countries may actually do some things better than us. 140930Things have really changed since the law passed. Nowadays, it's hard to walk down the street without seeing a bearded lady, or a fire-eater, or maybe a sword-swallower, or even a lion-tamer with a few clowns. They're in restaurants and bars. In churches and synagogues. In grocery stores and schools and courtrooms and political rallies. You never know when one of Them is going to be there, just like a reg'lar person. It's hard to feel safe anymore, now that Congress has passed the Open Carny law.

October, 2014 141001It's funny that the thing you want to be under in a rainstorm is just what you shouldn't be under in a rainstorm. 141002Every time the latest, greatest social-media outlet comes along, my list of friends/connections/acolytes/followers always ends up looking like this is the next generation of Tamson House. 141003The wrong time to take a night-time walk on the beach is when you're in the midst of reading Lovecraft stories.
Literature Week 1
141004I recently read "20,000 Leagues Under the Sea". While I enjoyed the book, it seemed like Verne wrote it in order to have a tax write-off for his encyclopedia.
Literature Week 1
141005Sherlock Holmes starting developing his personality quirks and observational powers when he was in school. For example, he never allowed his bed to be made up with sheets; he only wanted a rough and scratchy blanket. This sensitized him to his environment, helping him to sleep lightly and to maintain a sense of what was happening around him while he slept. When word of this idiosyncrasy spread among his schoolmates, Holmes became known as No-Sheet Sherlock.
Literature Week 1
141006When I hear the titles I can't help confusing "Anne of Green Gables" with "The House of the Seven Gables". I imagine the book as being about an orphan girl who learns witchcraft in her New England childhood, and uses it to establish herself and exact revenge on her enemies when she eventually settles on Prince Edward Island. I think my version sounds much more interesting than the real versions.
Literature Week 1
141007I love "Pride and Prejudice", Jane Austen, "Downton Abbey", "Cold Comfort Farm", and lots of classic English literature. However, I think they could all be improved by the inclusion of Lucha Libre.
Literature Week 1
141008The part of Beowolf where Grendel attacks Heorot and kills the Danish warriors is really the story of a guy dealing with noisy neighbors. Grendel takes things into his own hands and is trying to get the neighbors to be quiet, but he ends up killing some of them. Over and over again. Sure, Grendel is frustrated and irrational due to sleep deprivation (from all the noisy parties), but his reactions are rather disproportionate to the problem. Clearly, this is a Stand Your Ground story, and it must really be taking place in Florida.
Literature Week 1
141009The early versions of "Winnie the Pooh" had a rather different set of characters. In particular, Pooh and Eor were combined in a single character and he was named "Whiney the Pooh".
Literature Week 1
141010I got a stool softener from the store. Despite the product name, I think a little pillow would work better. 141011The Bear Bowl is full of M&Ms. This is always a good thing. However, that nice, big bowl is very deceptive, and it looks like it'll always be full of M&Ms. You can take a handful here, a handful there, a bunch more way over there, and the Bear Bowl never empties. It's a shock when the bear finally peeks through from the bottom, as that means the M&Ms aren't endless but rather are almost gone. 141012I'm going to start referring to the fridge as The Gym. That way, I can tell people I'm going to hit The Gym, and they'll be all impressed at how healthy and virtuous I am, but secretly I'll be having scrummy snacks. 141013My acupuncturist examines my tongue during appointments. I don't know what she's looking for, but she does it every time. I think next time, I'll drink some blue Kool-Aid just before going. 141014I really hate when I'm all alone in the house at night, standing in the kitchen not doing anything, and a cabinet door slowly starts swinging open. 141015Artists have long known of the related sizes and ratios in the human body that can be used to make realistic drawings. These include things such as eyes being an eye-width apart; a person's height being the same as their outstretched arms, fingertip to fingertip; and the face being roughly the height of the hand and fingers. There is one such size that is rather curious, not one I've seen mentioned before. The circumference of the index finger's first joint allows it to fit perfectly in the nostril. This is not the same for the thumb or other fingers; those fit either too loosely or too tightly. This size relation is of very little use to artists, but it makes you wonder why that worked out just so. 141016I recently put on a pair of shoes I hadn't worn in several years. Since spiders and centipedes are malevolent beasties and would naturally infest these shoes, just waiting to bite my tender tootsies, I sat down to shake the offending little monsters out of my shoes. As I was sitting there, shaking away at those shoes, a troublesome thought occurred to me. Shaking those shoes was probably not nearly as likely to dislodge those vindictive wee beasties as it would be to make them really angry that I was shaking them up. 141017It is widely considered to be a good thing to know yourself. This can be difficult to do, though, as there's not necessarily a well-defined way to accomplish this. In one respect, gift money can help you know yourself. Not store-specific gift cards or gift certificates, but money. When given a blob of cash, you're confronted with a palette of choices; generally - desires, toys, needs, essentials; specifically - this particular book, that particular CD, this toy for your child, a week's groceries. Even though they're dependent on a wide range of situations and circumstances, the specific choices made can give you some amount of insight into your self. 141018I made a joke about Flathead beavers being the beavers of the western US. It was a dumb joke, but it amused me. Also, it was obscure, and required a little knowledge of some Native Americans from northwestern US and Canada. Thinking about this joke, I realized that a useful thing about learning a really wide range of things is that it greatly expands the weird-ass connections you can make to create jokes. I think this explains something. The Jewish people have long been known for placing a high value on learning and knowledge. They are also known for producing outstanding comedians. I think the ancient Jewish people realized that great learning would produce great comedians, and they therefore threw themselves wholeheartedly into the heights of education. 141019Some children and dogs haven't made the connection that "no" means "stop doing what you're doing" or "you aren't allowed to do that." I think maybe they aren't hearing "no", but are instead hearing "know", and they think they're being told to learn and memorize something. 141020The phrase "Gonna put a cap in your ass" makes me think a thug is going to take a baseball cap and swipe its brim down between someone's butt cheeks like a credit card swiper. 141021When I did something bad as a kid, it wasn't uncommon to get the always-popular "Go to your room young man and think about what you did wrong" punishment. My self-importance would start me off thinking, "Well, clearly what I did wrong was to get caught." Eventually, I'd move on from that and start thinking about what I'd done that had gotten me in trouble. I'd end up replaying the event, and as often as not I'd start enjoying what I'd done and would think about better ways to do it next time. I don't think that was what was intended when I was told to think about what I'd done. 141022I am considering a moral question. When passing the collection plate in church, almost everyone puts in their own offering. It is almost unheard of to give your offering to someone else to drop in the plate for you. This makes me think that maybe the "credit" associated with donating depends on who puts it in the collection plate. I'm wondering how much of the moral offering credit accrues to me on those very rare times that someone gives me their offering to put in the plate. Is it merely a percentage or do I get the whole thing? 141023I'm baffled as to how to apply the adjective in German Shepherd. Did the breed originally come from Germany? Did they herd Germans? Maybe the orderliness with which Germans are stereotyped has its origins in ancient ancestral memories of being herded by large, pointy, growly dogs. Maybe really the name is misspelled and it should be Grrrrman Shepherd. 141024I am intrigued by the glue used in making the Edo Tsumami Kanzashi hairpins. Since the glue is made of smooshed rice, that tells me that rice pudding is basically spiced rice glue. 141025We have some lovely Twinings teas, and each tea bag has a useful instruction on the tea bag tag. "Brew 3-5 minutes." Except it isn't so useful, once you do the math. How do you brew tea for -2 minutes? Do you start timing from 2 minutes before the water finishes boiling? Do you use "air brewing" and start heating the water two minutes after you put the tea bag in the cup? Do you heat the tea bag 2 minutes before heating any water? Is air brewing really effective? I've ended up using these Twinings tea bags as I do other tea bags, but I wonder if I am getting the full flavor experience. 141026The fight-or-flight instinct has long been studied. However, there are some animals (and people) that neither fight nor flee when confronted by danger. Instead, these animals are overwhelmed by the situation, resulting in the "deer in the headlights" condition. So, the reaction instinct should really be referred to as the fight, flight, or lights instinct. 141027When I was a kid, my friends and I had a very simplistic view of death. We thought there were four ways you might die: being killed in a war, being murdered, being in an accident (car accidents, predominately), and dying of "natural causes." Sure there were other ways -- being eaten by a bear, being eaten by a shark, being thrown in a lion's den, being bitten by poisonous snakes or spiders. Maybe that should be five ways to die, with "consumed by wild animal" being the fifth. Anyway, that last one -- natural causes -- was pretty nebulous to us, and we didn't really know what it meant. We all had a vague idea that if you died of natural causes, you'd go to sleep in your bed one night and just wouldn't happen to wake up the next morning. We had no clue what "natural causes" might entail, or that it was anything other than a nice, peaceful, gentle, pain-free death. 141028I've heard that A Game of Thrones was strongly inspired by the Wars of the Roses. Except the Wars of the Roses didn't have dragons and zombies. Gryphons and werewolves, yes, but no dragons or zombies. 141029In the US, baseball metaphors are often used to describe sex. I wonder what sports metaphors for sex are used in countries where baseball isn't popular.
"Things went well with Victoria last night. We had a real sticky wicket."
"I was hoping for a hat trick, but when I went for some high-sticking all I got was an icing call."
"I would have had a golden set last night if it wasn't for Billy's dead rubber."
"My Manitoba tuck went so well that I shot my rock and scored an eight-ender."
"I tried to get her in a hook, but she grabbed my camán and went straight for the block."
141030Given all the zombie activity in New Orleans, "YOLO in NOLA" is not just inane but also inaccurate. 141031Horror movies are practical demonstrations of Darwin's "natural selection" and "survival of the fittest".

November, 2014 141101One of the brilliant survival strategies you see in horror movies is summed up in the statement, "Let's split up!" Haven't these doofs heard the old adage, "Divide and conquer"? It's like they're hoping to be picked off one by one. No wonder the survival rate in horror movies is so low. 141102Many people get excited when they see the first robin of spring. I get excited when I see the first junco of winter. 141103All the best holidays are associated with candy. Sometimes I invent special holidays just for this. "Happy 17th Tuesday, have some chocolate!" "It's Fudge Friday, time to celebrate!" "Summer's End, here are your honey dates!" 141104There are lots of types of lies -- white lies and fibs and half-truths and statistics and whoppers and falsehoods. I think menu descriptions are their own special class of lies. Maybe they should be called gravy lies or arugula lies. (This thought brought to you in honor of Election Day.) 141105People on holiday get souvenirs in order to preserve the memories of their vacations. Perpetual souvenirs, like rocks or herpes or knives, are life-long souvenirs and last forever. Ephemeral souvenirs, like t-shirts or hermit crabs or hats, eventually wear out and don't last forever. Ephemeral souvenirs are better than perpetual souvenirs because they do wear out, and when they're worn out that means it's time to return for another visit to the place they were commemmorating. 141106Fingers think of thumbs as the Loyal Opposition. 141107The holes in Swiss cheese are the result of bacteria consuming lactic acid, which leads to a release of CO2 gas. This means that the holes in Swiss cheese are created by bacteria farts. 141108Don't smugly announce on Facebook that you've had a bunch of new thoughts. Your helpful friends will then suggest that a few more would be a good idea. 141109Musicians say "Christmas is coming" with the same sense of foreboding as Starks say "Winter is coming". 141110We've got a really powerful kitchen mixer, with lots of settings. "Beating Eggs" is a pretty low setting, somewhere around 2 or 3. I haven't read the instruction manual, but I think "Dead Horses" is around 15 or 20. 141111As part of his job as god of thunder, Thor is also the god of melodramatic foreshadowing. 141112Mixatonic University is the school for bartenders who work at the pubs frequented by Great Old Ones, Elder Gods, Outer Gods, and Great Ones. 141113My parents-in-law have super-advanced toilets made by Daelim Trading Company. These toilets have all sorts of controls and adjustments and sprays and such. I don't really understand all the intricacies of those contraptions. Also, I've always been a little frightened of those toilets, but I didn't know why. I have realized the source of my fear. I think the company name has been triggering a subconscious memory of that old movie, "Daelim For Murder". 141114Houses have load-bearing structures which support and strengthen the house. In people, souls can act as grudge-bearing structures, but this only serves to weaken and wither the soul and the person as a whole. 141115Performers feed off the energy of an audience. The more energy and connection that an audience has with a performer, the better the performance tends to be. This energy and connection boost the performer and feeds back to generating more energy from the audience. This makes performers psychic vampires, of a sort. 141116I have some pants with big holes in them, such that they really shouldn't be worn out in public. They are so indecent that one might even say that they are profane. My pants without holes are neither indecent nor profane, but are unblemished. This means my holey pants are profane and my un-holey pants are sacred. 141117Only the Daring Little Chickadee will come to table with the Squirrel of Banquets. 141118Tea is a binding force of the universe. It makes order from chaos and calms the havoc and mayhem that threaten to overwhelm. The simplicity of leaves steeped in hot water stills the storm and draws the forces of nature into tranquility. 141119Elephants are Great Old Ones. They are the wingless, monotentacular children of Cthulhu. 141120In simple arithmetic, you are taught to carry numbers from one column to another. If you can carry something, then it must have mass. Therefore, numbers must be physical entities and must have weight as well as mass. By Einstein's mass-energy equivalence formula (E=mc2), the mass of a number can be calculated by m=Ec2. This means that a number's mass depends on the amount of energy contained within the number. I wonder how much numbers weigh and how much energy each contains. Are a number's weight and energy a standard amount, the same amongst all numbers, or does a number's weight and energy relate to its value? Something tells me I've answered my own questions here. 141121Saying, "The customer is always right!" proves just how wrong a customer can be. 141122Sometimes I wish I could be the one to fulfill the Golden Rule for some people.
(By doing to them as they do to others.)
141123"Brose before hoes!" shows that Scottish farmers always eat a good breakfast before starting work.
Food Week 3
141124In its simplified form, a common part of a meal is lettuce, tomatoes, onions, cucumbers, cheese, and a flavorful sauce. While you might be thinking this is describing a salad, this is really describing common additions to hamburgers. This goes to show that hamburgers are tricking people into eating salad.
Food Week 3
141125Why doesn't anyone eat egg salad as a dish in and of itself? They do it with tuna salad. They do it with potato salad. They do it with shrimp salad. They do it with ham salad. But never egg salad. It's almost as if the existence of egg salad is only valid and good if it has been surrounded by a couple pieces of bread.
Food Week 3
141126Whole-wheat white is the carob of the bread world.
Food Week 3
141127I've heard lots of people talk about "empty carbohydrates" and that always bothers me. Carbohydrates are delicious and packed with flavor! If your carbohydrates are empty, bland, or flavorless, then you need to work harder on preparing them. Butter, cheese, and jelly can be used to make your empty carbohydrates more flavorful and exciting.
Food Week 3
141128A fruit salad is an excuse to have dessert with dinner and then a second, even better, dessert later. Why does the mid-meal dessert have to be of lesser quality than the post-meal dessert? Why shouldn't the two desserts be equally as tasty? I could easily trade the fruit salad for a chocolate salad. An ice cream salad or a cookie salad would go rather nicely with a steak or a chicken casserole. With a little imagination, there are so many better options than a mere fruit salad.
Food Week 3
141129Why do people always look so unhappy when they're in the grocery store? Grocery stores should be happy places -- there's food everywhere. Wonderful, delicious, lovely food! Ice cream and strawberries and tuna and liver and cookies and peppers and donuts and peanut butter and chips and carrots and cheese and apples and cucumbers and sausages. So many foods to suit so many tastes to make so many people happy, yet so many people look so sad. They should be floating around on little clouds of gastronomic bliss. People should have some cookies and fudge to cheer themselves up before starting in a grocery store.
Food Week 3
141130Words We Need #4: These words should be well-defined and in widespread use: congratululations, yipple, spinkle, bohemoth, nowwo, squinox, meither, farticle, wobbie, har-de-har-harbinger

December, 2014 141201If you ever find yourself in the Middle Ages and your cellphone runs out of power, just find a knight. Knights always have powerful chargers. 141202When I was a kid, I learned the "Judge not, lest ye be judged" proverb in Sunday School. I don't think we ever got into the deeper meanings of that precept, so I was left with a child's interpretation. This caused me great trouble, as my young mind couldn't reconcile the saying with the thought of a justice system. How could judges be good Christians and actually be judges? My childhood naiveté must have been a source of great entertainment for my parents. 141203Hemiola sounds like a soft drink for vampires. It would even come with a ready-made slogan. "Don't B Negative, grab a warm Hemiola and have A Positive day!" 141204We sometimes get a bonkers squirrel at the feeders. All the other squirrels are placidly shovelling seed down their gobs, but the bonkers squirrel is zooming hither and yon, bouncing off trees, wrestling sticks, rolling in the dirt. After a while, the bonkers squirrel has settled down and is calmly eating seed. And there's usually another squirrel that's joined the group. It's long been a mystery what's going on with these bonkers squirrels, but I've figured it all out. I think the frenetic squirrel is in the process of squirrular mitosis. He's zooming and bouncing and wrestling and rolling because he's in the process of splitting into two squirrels. That's where the additional squirrel comes from. 141205I would like to make a Viking movie. When the Viking longships approach shore for a raid, I'd use "Sleigh Ride" for the soundtrack music. I'd have it played by a Norwegian death metal band and I'd call my arrangement "Slay Ride". 141206The Simpsons Treehouse of Horror 25 was broadcast a few weeks ago. Super Bowl 49 will be played in about two months. That means that the Simpsons is over half as old as the Super Bowl. 141207I dream of building an addition on our house in the shape of an equilateral parallelogram because I've always wanted a rhombus room. 141208I'm still wondering why some teabags sink and some teabags float. I previously speculated that if a floating teabag weighs the same as a duck, then that teabag is a witch and must be burned. That doesn't account for floating teabags that don't weigh the same as a duck. Being wise in the ways of science, I started wondering about what other things sometimes sink and sometimes float. Goldfish. Live goldfish sink down and stay under water; dead goldfish float to the top of the water. This must mean that floating teabags that don't weigh the same as a duck are really dead goldfish and must be flushed down the toilet. 141209Most mugs have a design that's visible to the right-handed drinker. The right-handed drinker can quietly appreciate that they're the World's Greatest Dad or the World's Most Loveable Grandma; remember the lovely beach they visited last year; be amused by a cheerful chipmunk chattering at a cross cardinal. Righties get a quiet reassurance without the appearance of braggadocio. Lefties don't have it so good. Our mugs have the picture pointing out at other people, so we end up looking pathetic, braggy, and pushy. "Look, you! I am the World's Greatest Dad!" "No, I really really really am the World's Most Loveable Grandma! See my mug? It proves it!" "I went to this beautiful beach last year and you didn't. Sucker." "Look at these cute animals! If you had a loving heart, you'd find this adorable and want one too." Even mug-makers hate left-handed people. 141210It's a bad idea to insult a chemist because no matter what you say, they'll always have a ready retort. 141211For some reason, football players are frequently used as spokesmen in Public Service Announcements. Football players are known for great strength and a talent in bashing people, not necessarily for having a talent in public speaking. I saw a PSA and the football spokesplayer finished with a message that reminded me of contentious D&D sessions. His heartwarming message could only serve to draw together an argumentative rabble of player characters into a cohesive team. Perhaps he wasn't speaking clearly enough, but it sounded like he said, "Together we can take a troll." 141212At choir practice, we sang "Do You Hear What I Hear?" As we sung it, I was thinking about the words and it reminded me of a scene from a great piece of literature. All the song's questions made me think of the riddle scene between Bilbo and Gollum in "The Hobbit."
Said the hobbit to the Gollum foul,
What is in my pocket?
Tight within my fist, Gollum foul,
What is in my pocket?
A ring, a ring, hidden in my pants
With an evil dark as the night
With an evil dark as the night
141213In conversational use, "surely" seems to be the opposite of "certainly". 141214This time of year always has me singing a song that mixes up several secular seasonal songs. However, they aren't from the same season, and one of them isn't even for a particular season. I don't know how I conflated these lyrics, but this song has stuck with me for a long time.
Here comes Santa Claus, here comes Santa Claus,
Hoppin' down the Bunny Trail,
Hippity hoppin' Santa's on his sleigh!
blah blah blah don't know these lines
When you say Bud you've said it all!
141215In movies and shows with dinosaurs, it's become a cliche for the bad guys to be eaten by the dinosaurs. You'd think that people would get tired of this, but they never will. It's such a satisfying comeuppance for the villains that people would be disappointed if they didn't get the delightful bit of saurian justice. 141216Lord Vetinari, Tywin Lannister, Mr. Tulkinghorn, the Phantom of the Opera -- Charles Dance has played some excellent roles. I would love to see him play Santa. 141217The internet told me that Wiccans worship satin. Some of the Wiccans I know like satin quite a bit, but some of them are more fond of silk or cotton or wool. While some do revel in satin's comfort, I think it's overstating it a bit to say that they actually worship satin. 141218I went to see the Joffrey Ballet and it was better than I was expecting. It was a quality dance performance, but I was expecting to see a bunch of annoying, arrogant teenagers prancing around being nasty and vicious to other people. 141219When I was a kid and I was summoned to the principal's office, I always had the same queasy feeling and the same questions. "What did I do? What do they want? What do they know? What have they found out? Am I in big trouble this time?" I have the same queasy feelings every time I go to the dentist or the doctor. The questions are slightly different, but pretty much the same. "What have I been doing? What are they going to find? What are the blood tests going to show? Am I in big trouble this time?" 141220In college, I sang in a madrigals group. This was my introduction to that music, as I hadn't previously heard most of those songs at all. This was brand new music and it was really interesting. Since it was so new to me, one of the cool things about it was that, as far as I knew, in every song I was singing the melody. 141221Once again, I forgot to ask my dentist's dental hygienist an important question. How long is the grace period between when the hygienist cleans your teeth and when you have to start brushing them again? 141222I've heard that Apple and other companies are working on their software so that predictive typing in text messaging is more accurate. As a fan of auto-correct errors, I hope that either improved predictive typing includes a prediction quality setting or that predictive nutsacks bale in THORS sugar tarts. 141223Everyone's childhood self wondered about Harold Angel and exactly how he fit into the Christmas story. There were a couple things from other carols that I never quite understood. Jingle Bells has the line, "Bells on bobtails ring". When I was a kid, I always conflated bobtails with bobcats. Silent Night has the line "'Round yon virgin, mother and child". My weird little brain mashed that together and thought a "roundyon" was some sort of onion, and so the song was talking about onion virgins. Bobcats, onions, and onion virgins -- I was baffled as to how these things related to Christmas. 141224In "Twas the Night Before Christmas", there's the line "And Mama in her 'kerchief, and I in my cap," That's the only mention of the clothes worn by the narrator and Mama; and their apparel has no apparent relevance to the poem. Why mention their clothes at all then, unless it's to give a subtle indication of something significant. If that was all they were wearing, just what were Mama and Papa doing when St. Nicholas happened along and interrupted them? 141225It's well known that you have to clean the lint out of a dryer after drying the clothes. If not, you risk a house fire or other unspecified tragedies. It has never before been clear why dryer lint might be poised to do these terrible things, but I have at last figured it out. Clumps of dryer lint are the ghosts of the clothes that have just been dried. Not only are they the ghosts of clothes, but they are the vengeful ghosts of clothes. Lint ghosts are angry to have been torn asunder from their corporeal clothes. If left to their own devices lint ghosts will set fire to your house, trip you as you climb the stairs, and hide your car keys. You must remove the dryer lint from the dryer lest the lint ghosts remain free to haunt and bedevil you. 141226People complain about stores being open on Christmas day. Some have said that it's a troubling sign of the lack of respect the modern world has for the true meaning of Christmas. At the end of "A Christmas Carol", written in 1843, Scrooge sends a boy to a shop to buy the huge goose hanging in the shop window. There's no indication that there's anything unusual about the boy being able to buy the goose on Christmas day, or that there might be any trouble getting the shopkeeper to open the store. This indicates that the "modern" problem of shops being open on Christmas day isn't quite so modern as some would have us believe. 141227I've scoured satellite maps of the Arctic looking for Santa's workshop, but it just can't be found. I'm starting to think that maybe Santa's workshop is a myth. At the North Pole, that is. I think he's really got his workshop hidden away somewhere else, and the North Pole story is just a clever misdirection that is only coming to light with modern technology. My current theory connects Santa's workshop with the visionary writing of H.P. Lovecraft. I think the story "At the Mountains of Madness" is actually the tale of William Dyer's visit to Santa's workshop hidden in the mountains of Antarctica. This would make Santa's elves be the "Elder Things" that built the city that Dyer found in the mountains. 141228It was fascinating to watch a Yule Log being constructed tonight. The chocolate cake laid out, thin and spongy. The peanut butter filling, rich and earthy, binding the cake together as it was rolled into a log. The exquisite fudge icing gooped onto the whole log, then artistically shaped to model both tree bark and branch stumps. The Yule Log as a whole is a culinary work of art. I was struck by how much it resembles a giant Ho Ho. With the older festive holiday confection linking to the modern product, the delicious hybridization should be called the Yule Ho. 141229A few days ago, my family got together to celebrate Christmas. I have a punning clan. 141230I recently had cause to consider ounces and pounds. A pound is a basic unit of weight that is easily knowable, like an atom, even if the details are not precisely known. Tom says a thing is five pounds and you know roughly how heavy it is. An ounce, on the other hand, is much more nebulous than the good, reliable pound; you know an ounce is there, but you don't know much about it or quite trust it -- much like a sub-atomic particle. Walter says something is five ounces, and you haven't a clue how heavy it actually is. I bet this is all utter nonsense to people involved in the drug trade. 141231There are some people who say, "You can't make this stuff up" after telling a story that is entirely believable, fairly unremarkable, and maybe mildly amusing. I used to be insulted by that tag line. Now, I just take it as an admission that they have a very limited imagination.




Final Thoughts of the Night -- The Full Story

I started writing these after talking with my wife about the last words one might say to their loved ones before dying. Rather than leaving to chance the possibility that I might die in my sleep and maybe having said something dopey to her, I decided to ensure that one of the last things I say to her each night is something dopey.

Thus, I undertook the "Final Thought of the Night" project. Each night, shortly before going to sleep, I tell her a Final Thought. These may be funny, they are likely to be stupid; they may be vaguely story-like; they may be pseudo-philosophical and intelligent-sounding; they may be almost mythic from a spur-of-the-moment mythos.

The topics have spanned a wide range of subjects: animals, steampunk, food, bodily secretions. Anything that pops into mind is fair game. Animals are a big focus because it's so easy to say something about animals. I hope I'm not repeating anything, but I am making absolutely no effort to ensure that repeats don't happen. If you see the same idea multiple times, that might mean it's something I think about more than other things.

More final thoughts are available here:




Copyright 2014 by Wayne Morrison. All Rights Reserved.
tewok@storm-monkeys.com