Final Thoughts of the Night, 2016

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, 2016 160101 Most people show only minimal interest in imaginary numbers, where their interest starts and stops with the square root of -1. I always loved imaginary numbers, more so than most people. As far as I'm concerned, the square root of -1 is just the start. -1, zehboo, weikev, weikov, stribkil... There are so many more interesting imaginary numbers besides -1. 160102Watching football today was made interesting by having the sound turned off. Whenever there was a foul or penalty, the referee would take a brief moment to do a little dance then the game would resume. 160103I think that you shouldn't be forced to watch adverts of companies you're already a customer of. 160104A good limerick is a real Corker.
Grandmother of Dumb Joke Week
160105One of my favorite Robin Williams movies is "Hook". Unfortunately, the critics panned it.
Grandmother of Dumb Joke Week
160106An oligarchy is a government controlled by a small group of people. An oglarchy is a government controlled by spies and peeping toms.
Grandmother of Dumb Joke Week
160107The arbiters of morality and ethics in the ocean are the mores eels.
Grandmother of Dumb Joke Week
160108Dinosaurs called baby dinosaurs "ankylo biters."
Grandmother of Dumb Joke Week
160109In the Invasion of the Body Snatchers, New Zealanders and Australians were the ultimate saviors of humanity. Who else could save us from the Pod People but the Antipodes People?
Grandmother of Dumb Joke Week
160110Thomas Talus was the original rock musician.
Grandmother of Dumb Joke Week
160111Our rental SUV was a marvel of technology. It was an enormous land-whale that had all sorts of gadgets and widgets and things to make the drive easier. For most of the trip, I'd been thinking that if I ever wanted a really large vehicle, I would be happy to have one of those SUVs. At least, I thought that was the case. After a snowfall, I was clearing the snow from the windows while Jo was sitting in the SUV. I had the SUV's identity fob (not a key!) in my pocket and the SUV started making complainy noises. It kept on whining until I handed the identity fob to Jo and said, "It really wants this to be inside the cab." Wait a second. The SUV wants something? How on earth did we get to the point where a vehicle starts complaining and we instantly move to obey? That is a really bad sign for the future. Maybe I don't want one of these monstrosities after all. 160112I wonder why hotel rooms have pictures of local scenery. Either you're there as a tourist so you'll be seeing the actual thing, or you're there for business and you won't be able to see the actual thing. The photos are either saying, "Here's what you're going to be seeing" or "Ha ha! Here's what you won't be seeing!" 160113People are worried about ghosts of humans. The human ghosts might be scary, and disappear, and walk through walls, but they still do humany things. They kind of act like humans, but with ghost superpowers. You can still kind of understand them. I am worried about ghosts of animals. Ghosts of animals might be scary, and disappear, and walk through walls, but they're still animals. You can't really understand them as real animals, they're even more incomprehensible as ghosts. Only now, they have huge ghosty claws, and huge ghosty fangs, and ghosty mouths that can open wide enough to swallow your whole head. And you have no idea what they want or why they're trying to swallow your leg, or why they want to eat your couch, or why they're licking the packets out of your network cable. Human ghosts might be spooky, but I'll take them over animal ghosts any time. 160114Hadrian's Wall is a defensive structure that crosses northern England from the Solway Firth to the North Sea. It is commonly thought to have been built by the Romans during the reign of Emperor Hadrian, and to be the northern limit of the Roman Empire. This is a rendering of popular opinion as historical fact which, while understandable, is wrong. Hadrian's Wall was originally built by a confederation of Hadrosaur species. The Hadrosaurs were living peacefully in northern England and southern Scotland. Periodically, bloodthirsty groups of Tyrannosaurs would invade, reaving and slaughtering the Hadrosaurs. To stop this reign of barbaric terror, the Hadrosaurs banded together and built the Hadrosaurian Wall, which effectively kept the Tyrannosaurs out of the home regions of the placid Hadrosaurs. The Hadrosaurian Wall was originally a problem for the Hadrosaurs because they needed some of the herbs and greens that only grew south of the wall. This problem was solved by installing latching gates every mile or so along the wall's length. Since the Hadrosaurs had nice, long forearms, they could easily operate the latches, enabling them to come and go through the gates as they pleased. The Tyrannosaurs, however, had short forearms, with which they could not reach the latches. This left them unable to open the gates in the Hadrosaurian Wall, keeping them out of the North forever more. In addition to granting the Hadrosaurs a safe life, the wall also gave them great amusement. They'd gather at the gates and taunt the Tyrannosaurs. The Tyrannosaurs would rush to the gates and then start flapping their stubby little arms at the latches, The Hadrosaurs would laugh and laugh at the sight of seeing these massive killers flapping their arms around in futile attempts to open the gates. Little did the Hadrosaurs know, but their taunting of the Tyrannosaurs was the start of the evolutionary path that changed massive, land-bound dinosaurs into the smaller, graceful, flying birds we have today. 160115Coloring books for adults have become quite popular in the past year or two. I've gotten several cool coloring books and am having a good time coloring again. Except... Adult coloring books have reminded me of a childhood trauma that I'd blissfully forgotten. Taking up coloring once more has reminded me of the angst and stress of having to stay within the lines. 160116In the Bible, John 14:2 starts, "My Father's house has many rooms". This scripture implies that we can look forward to a pretty incredible Whitehall Farce being a major feature of Heaven. 160117Several highly respected artists have died recently. Announcement of each death has been followed by lots of Facebook posts mourning the loss and celebrating the life and art of the artist. I am mourning the artists and I want to celebrate them, and want to join my friends in their mourning, but clicking "Like" on those posts always feels a little like I'm saying, "Ha ha! Good riddance!" 160118I think the practice of covering your mouth when you yawn arose from the need to keep your friends from throwing things in. 160119Humans understand the concept of evolution, and that over the long run evolutionary advances can bring improvements to a species. Eventually, homo sapiens will find itself in contention with its next evolutionary stage. When that happens, should we fight back, responding in a short-term, species-centered manner in a desperate attempt to hold on to our place? Or should we take a long-term response for the ultimate betterment of the species, and effectively surrender to the evolved humans and work with them? It will depend on whether we see a loss as extinction or as a step-stone for our species' destiny. 160120Einstein said, "Everybody is a genius. But if you judge a fish by its ability to climb a tree, it will live its whole life believing that it is stupid."
Here's my corollary to that. Everybody is an artist. But if you judge yourself by your ability to make another person's art, you will live your whole life believing you are not an artist.
160121Sometimes I wonder about the parents of young children. For their kid's birthday, parents will get a nice birthday cake, decorated with a picture of their kid's heroes -- the Minions, the Muppets, Spongebob, Batman. Then comes the Big Moment, and Mom or Dad picks up a knife and starts dismembering the Minions, the Muppets, Spongebob or Batman. And then the kid is expected to eat the dripping chunks of their hero. That kind of trauma might warp a kid forever. 160122Blizzard Beaver emerges from the forest with snow billowing around her like a cloak. She waddles over the hills, the snow reeling out in a thick blanket behind her, spread smooth by her wide, flat tail. Her lodge is ever empty, her travels through the North never ending.
Blizzard Week 1
160123It's going to be a long, hard winter. So much snow on the ground that all we can do is to stay inside and catch up on our sewing. Mittens, socks, shirts, gloves, sails, nets. Nothing but sewing for four or five months. As bad as it's looking so far, we might have snow for a year or more. We don't want to admit it, but it looks like we're going to have a Thimblewinter.
Blizzard Week 1
160124When Jo and I shovel snow out of our driveway, we usually split up the task. She starts at the top and works down, while I start at the bottom and work up. When our shovelled areas meet up and that first shovelful opens up a path between each segment, I feel a sense of accomplishment and relief that must be similar to what was felt by the workers on the Panama Canal or the First Transcontinental Railway when each side met up with the other. On a much smaller scale, of course, but it's always still a great sense of accomplishment.
Blizzard Week 1
160125Snow Crow spreads her wings and soars upon the wind. She brings the fast-running storms, the ever-changing winds. The gusts of chaos lift her high, drop her low, and toss her pirouetting tail over beak in her exuberant dance of winter. She sings her joy with every gust as the snow flurries and swirls and billows across the sky.
Blizzard Week 1
160126There is something primal, something pure about shovelling snow. Scoop, lift, throw. Scoop, lift, throw. It's not hard to drop into an easygoing rhythm that allows you to move a lot of snow. It's wearying, arduous work, but the exertion makes the muscles sing with their labor. There's a connection back through the generations, with all the ancestors who have cleared snow with a shovel. I wonder if snow blowers are taking away from the honest labor of moving snow. It makes me wonder if I should forego the snow blower for the enervating toil of the shovel. Then I come to my senses and rejoice in the glories of having a snow blower to make this onerous, exhausting job easier.
Blizzard Week 1
160127Twa Winter Mice divide the day. Winter's Day Mouse brings the sun and warmth, melting the snow piled so high. Winter's Night Mouse brings the moon and cold, freezing the snowmelt trickling away. Twa Winter Mice chase each other, following nose to tail to nose, through all the short Winter days and long Winter nights.
Blizzard Week 1
160128Scientists say that water is not slippery, despite what everyone thinks, and therefore it cannot act as a lubricant. However, once you get snow (which is made of water) -- or even rain (also made of water) -- on roads, then cars are slipping and sliding all over the place. People are warned about how slippery and dangerous the roads and sidewalks and everything are due to the snow and ice. Snow confuses me.
Blizzard Week 1
160129Children are natural iconoclasts. They may be heartbroken when they learn The Truth about Santa, but when they do learn it the first thing they want to do is tell the other kids. 160130When I draw something, it looks like a two-dimensional ketchup spill -- flat, lifeless, soulless. When I see someone else's drawings, they look like beautiful works of art, with depth, emotion, dimensionality. It doesn't matter how technically simple or complex their drawings are, I see the magic and life in their art. I wonder why I see other people's drawings as art and my own drawings as lifeless bug stomp. 160131The presence of Hygge-Bosun Particles is the reason why Danish bosuns are always calming people to have on your ship.

February, 2016 160201I wonder what the stereotypical sailor tattoo looked like back before we got our modern anchors. 160202With the small, convenient cameras that encourage the hold-at-arm's-length photos that are so popular now, photography has become something of a performance art. 160203I've heard that people's caller-id have recently been giving an odd message. They've been saying they're receiving an unexpected call with an unknown number. These aren't just imaginary numbers, they're completely unknown numbers. I really want to receive one of these messages. These must be some really weird-ass numbers for them to be completely unknown. 160204I don't remember learning the truth about Santa and St. Treeophilus, but I do remember how disappointed and unhappy I was when I learned that not all fire stations had firepoles and Dalmatians. 160205Nothing ventured, nothing lamed. 160206Here's my contribution to the body of Mondegreens that are an important part of our cultural heritage. Unfortunately, I don't remember what song inspired this nor the actual lyric. "I want to love you like wild 'possums turned bad." 160207Earl Charles Grey, who lived in the late 18th and early 19th centuries, created his eponymous tea by flavoring black tea with bergamot oil. As any good herbologist will tell you, bergamot oil is an ancient treatment for skin problems and for helping to keep skin healthy and young-looking. At the end of the 19th century, Oscar Wilde wrote of another Gray. Wilde's Gray was a very old man, one who lived far beyond his years, though he looked like a young man. I don't think it's a coincidence that Earl Grey added bergamot oil to his tea. I think Earl Grey and Dorian Gray were one and the same man, and he used his tea -- with its sustaining, health-providing, rejuvenating bergamot oil -- as the secret of his ill-fated attempt at immortality. 160208Madison Avenue has won the Superbowl. Not just this year's Superbowl, but all the Superbowls for the past 15 or 20 years, and probably the next 15 or 20 years to come. They have convinced us that the commercials are just as good as, if not better than, the game itself. It is not uncommon to hear people say, "I don't care about the game; I'm just watching it for the commercials." There are TV specials for the best Superbowl commercials from previous years. There are lists for the best or worst or weirdest Superbowl commercials. People look forward to the Superbowl commercials, and eagerly anticipate the commercials. People speculate about just what those clydesdales, or the beer bottles, or the frogs, or the puppies will be doing this year. Madison Avenue has won the Superbowl. 160209Birdwatching is a wonderful example of the quantum-physics concept of observation changing the state of the observed. A flock of birds might be contentedly eating seed spread out for them. While unobserved, the flock remains constant. Once a watcher starts peeking at the flock, some individual members fly off, new members arrive, large groups of the flock might fly off or arrive. The watcher's active watching of the flock causes the flock's population (both in numbers and species) to vary in indeterminate ways. Quantum physicists should take up birdwatching in order to improve their understanding of the quantum nature of the universe. 160210Television taught me a lot when I was growing up. For instance, I got physics lessons from Bugs Bunny and nutrition lessons from Madison Avenue. With an education like that, what could possibly go wrong? 160211Reality is like the theater. Most people go in through the front door and experience wonder and magic. However, a few, a lucky few, go in through the stage door and help make the wonders and magic come alive. 160212Never volunteer for anything. If good things came from volunteering then everyone would be doing it. 160213The reason those super-tight yoga pants have gotten so popular is because of superheroes. Yoga pants look like the classic, tight-fighting pants worn by superheroes, and they imbue the wearer with a great sense of power. They bring self-assurance and confidence, and make people feel like they truly are the superhero that is hiding within. 160214Winter sheets are like a wetsuit. Sure, they warm up fairly quickly, but that first plunge is enough to shrink your great-great-great-grandfather's balls to the size of raisins. 160215Winter weather reports are often frustrating. There are frequent mentions of icing, but rarely does a cake then appear in front of me. 160216A video shows a honey badger going after a deadly snake. What's next? A kitten pounces on a German Shepherd from high atop a cabinet. What's next? A team of horses rescues a stuck milk truck. Next? A kingfisher slo-mo dives and catches a fish. Next? A donkey swings in a hammock. Next? A tap-dancing raccoon crosses a night-time street. Next? A llama pronks around a field. Next? A squirrel steals a Go-Pro camera. Next? Fainting goats. Next? Kittens walking sideways on two feet. Next? Eagles soaring around the mountains. Foxes pouncing in snow. Baby otters swimming. Red pandas running around. All these amazing videos and images, all available at our fingertips on the internet. It's so easy to get jaded though. We watch this one and three seconds after it finishes we turn to that one, then it's on to the next and the next and the next. Has the internet killed, or at least dulled, our sense of wonder? 160217Anyone who says "There are no dumb questions" has never worked in a booth at a conference. 160218The dictionary definition of a cyborg is a person whose physical functioning is dependent on or enhanced by a mechanical or electronic device. For quite a while now, we've had replacement hips and replacement knees and pacemakers and prosthetic limbs and artificial pancreases. More are being developed all the time. These all meld the human body with mechanical devices. With all these mechanical devices and as critical as smart phones and tablets and computers have become to us, I think we've reached the point where we must admit that we have evolved into cyborgs. We are homo cyborgens. 160219According to TV and movies, IV drips are primarily used to sneakily kill someone. Just inject a little something here, plug in a new bag there -- no one will ever know what happened. I don't trust IV drips now. 160220When someone says, "I'm not judging you", you can be sure they're judging you. 160221I've got a Bible app on my cellphone. It's wonderfully convenient. It allows me to carry multiple translations of the Bible around in my pocket. There are built-in concordances. There's a search function. I can set the size and font of the text to make for easier reading. However, I've discovered there's a problem with using a Bible app during a service. At Sunday's service, the liturgist read the day's scripture and I followed along in my Bible app. However, a few folks sitting nearby didn't see me reading the scriptures, they saw me pull out my cellphone and start checking messages. I think I need to get a polymorphic hologram generator attachment for my phone so when I crack open the Bible app, the phone looks like it's a nice leather-bound physical book. 160222I've been writing down these Final Thoughts for almost five years now. While most of them have been goofy, innocuous things, there have been a few pretty wonderful ones. I am left quietly lamenting that it took so long for me to start recording these thoughts. I can only imagine what amazing, incredible, world-changing thoughts I might have had and then forgot, all because I hadn't yet started to keep track of them. What a tragic loss the world has suffered. I feel sorry for everyone. 160223A push is a pull from a different perspective. 160224Why is the cowbell the only animal bell that has entered the repertoire of Western music? The menagerie of animal bells could bring so much to music. The cowbell is kind of a tenor bell, so at the very least we need a soprano bell, an alto bell, and a bass bell. An elephant bell would work well for the bass bell. Either a horse bell or a gazelle bell would be excellent for an alto bell. For a soprano bell, how could it be anything but a cat bell? With these extensions to potential music instrumentations, I expect any day these additional bells to be showing up in classical music, rock, blues, rap, and pretty much any kind of music that is awesome enough to use cow bells. Animal bells are such a rich tradition that they deserve wider exposure. 160225We have trillions of organisms that live inside us. They live in a symbiotic relationship with us; we provide a living environment to them and they help us survive. They are critical to our life. Are these symbiotic hitchhikers part of what constitutes a human? Are they truly separate from us or are they an integral part of us? Are we only completely human if these microscopic organisms are included? Maybe we should give each organism its own name. 160226Alaska is the northernmost state in the United States. Thanks to the International Date Line, it is also the easternmost state and the westernmost state. I think Alaska should buy one of those fiddly little islands in the South Pacific so it could also be the southernmost state. 160227As their one vice, wolves are addicted to cigarettes. This is easy to understand because both wolves and cigarettes come in packs. 160228We have become dependent on computers and the software they run. They often work well, and we don't think about them. When things don't work, we yell at the computer, we curse the software. It does no good because the computer and the software have no capacity for responding to our threats and curses. We need some way to be able to threaten software; not necessarily the computer as a whole, but individual programs. Perhaps each program needs to have an auxilliary module that is a sentient AI whose sole purpose is to deal with threats and complaints. It wouldn't need to have a lot of intelligence or sentience, just enough to know that when the user threatens it, that it better get busy and do something to relieve the user's frustration. These sentient side-AIs wouldn't -- shouldn't! -- have much power or ability, but they could at least try to fix the problems and apologize for inconveniences and errors. 160229Leap Day is a calendar adjustment required because the Earth's orbit takes slightly longer than 365 days. Leap Day comes once every four years, and so it is composed of time from each of those four years. This leads to questions. How is the time divided up? Is it even, giving six hours from each year? Is the time thicker from some years than from others? When do the year divisions happen? Does it always start at midnight, does it ever come later in the morning? Are the divisions the same fom Leap Day to Leap Day, or do they change? How does the weather synch up between the year segments if the weather doesn't match from one year to the next? Maybe it's all controlled by the tides. And magnets. Maybe bunnies.

March, 2016 160301"The Martian" is a story of survival in a wilderness. "The Revenant" is also a story of survival in a wilderness, though with a slightly different focus. "The Revenant" won the Oscar for Best Picture, even though they're basically the same story. The major difference is that "The Revenant" has a bear attack and "The Martian" doesn't. I think "The Martian" would have won the Oscar if it had featured an attack by a Space Bear. 160302Many people think tea and chocolates go together well. Also, many people drink tea with milk. Why, then, do they only ever add plain milk to their tea? Why not add chocolate milk to tea? Three great tastes that might not taste weird together. 160303Delta Ursae Majoris is a star in the constellation Ursa Major. It is the star where the handle of the big dipper joins the actual dipper portion. NASA has created a short video showing the farthest galaxy yet found, and it's located beyond Ursa Major. The video overlays an image of a bear on top of Ursa Major. This video shows that Delta Ursae Majoris is Ursa Major's butthole. (NASA vid) 160304For quite a while, specialization has encroached on many areas of life. It is now worming its way into death. It used to be that vampires were killed by your average, ordinary, garden-variety stake through the heart. Gentrification and our specialist-happy society have now limited the ways that various vampires can be killed.
Vampire chefs can only be killed by salisbury stakes.
Mongolian vampires can only be killed by stake Tartar.
Quaker vampires can only be killed by stake 'n shakes.
Potato vampires can only be killed by stake fries.
Philadelphia vampires can only be killed by cheesestakes.
160305When polar bears get together for Netflix and Chill, they take the "chill" very seriously. 160306The original Star Trek introduced many new ideas to the world and changed many lives. It did this for me, as well. As a result of one episode, I decided I wanted to raise and breed silicon-based lifeforms. I decided I want to be a horta-culturalist. 160307Historians and archeologists have long used trash dumps and midden heaps to learn about old cultures. These days, trash dumps are often being used for fuel, and recycling is keeping more trash out of trash dumps. This is good for the planet, but it's bad for historians. I've been wondering if we're creating enough trash-dump artifacts for future historians and archeologists to analyze. I've come to the conclusion that this isn't an issue. People are throwing so much trash on the internet that it's become our virtual cultural trash dump. There is so much trash (and treasure) being slung around on the internet that future historians will have no problem finding artifacts from our culture, more than we've ever dug out of any stinky old midden. 160308I'm going to explain an age-based stereotype with a sex-based stereotype. There's a stereotype that as men get older, the waistband of their trousers climbs higher and higher, until it's up in the armpits. The reason for this has been one of the mysteries of the ages, and the mystery has now been solved. There's another stereotype that says that men hate to shop for clothes. These two stereotypes work together. As they age, many people find that they start to lose a little height. This naturally requires that their trousers should be measured to a shorter length. However, stereotypically shopping-averse men don't want to take the time to go to a store and wander around stores to find trousers that actually fit. They've been a 40" in-seam all their adult lives, and they'll be dad-gummed if they're going to need anything different. They'll get the size they've worn all their lives and not waste time on making sure things fit right. If the clothes are a little long, well, they can just hike them up a little and wear those pants a little bit higher. Better a slightly too-high waistband than having to waste time shopping for clothes. This keeps happening and in time it results in trousers being worn 'round the ears. 160309Ice cream is measured in scoops, but this doesn't really make any sense. You're going to get a bowlful of ice cream, so the measurement is one bowl. A scoop shouldn't be a certain spoon size, it should be measuring the number of ice-cream flavors you'll be getting. So an ice-cream scoop should be merely a spoon -- a really horkin' big spoon, of course -- but just a spoon. And then it's used to fill the appropriately sized bowl.
Food Week 4
160310Someone should invent edible googly eyes that could be put on food to make it cheerful and happy.
Food Week 4
160311There is something elegant and hopeful about a brand new jar of peanut butter. The smooth, unsullied expanse is a wide-open vista of possibilities. Will the peanut butter be used for sandwiches? Will it be used for fudge? Maybe it'll be used for cookies, or even melted and poured on ice cream. There are so many paths that can be paved by this immaculate jar of peanut butter, it is refreshing and fills one with hope.
Food Week 4
160312When I was young, my friends and I heard about this mythical thing called "poontang." We had no idea what it was, we just heard the older boys talking about it. It wasn't in the dictionary and the older boys just laughed when we asked them. Try as we might, we could never find out just what poontang was, only that it was something we really, really wanted. Adolescence was lived in ignorance of poontang, and I eventually forgot about poontang. When I was in Canada recently, I had this marvelous dish of chips, gravy, and cheese curds. It was called poutine and it's a Canadian specialty. Oh so delicious, oh so incredible. I couldn't stop talking about it for days. Poutine was amazing, and it was all I could think of. I had to surface from the poutine-induced haze before I could think clearly again. Once I had, I realized that as a kid my friends and I had been hearing the older boys wrong. When we thought they'd been talking about poontang, they'd really been talking about poutine.
Food Week 4
160313The best salads are essentially breadless sandwiches. They have the same sorts of ingredients, but in somewhat different proportions.
Food Week 4
160314I was going to make some cookies, but the recipe was incomplete. It called for bacon soda, but I don't know where to get bacon soda. I thought about mixing some bacon into some Coke, but I don't know how many strips of bacon to use nor how much Coke to add it to. I wish recipes were more specific.
Food Week 4
160315I have discovered why many people like to drink milk while eating chocolate. Chocolate acts as a short circuit to connect taste buds and rev 'em into overdrive. This is great for a while, but it can get to be too much stimulation. Milk removes those short circuits and gets the taste buds to calm the heck back down.
Food Week 4
160316In response to my "How are you?", I cringed inside when a friend responded with, "How can you be bad on a day like today?" That kind of response is practically begging the Universe come visit with its big Hammer of Irony. 160317The pharmaceutical industry is coming up with some amazing medicines that take care of all sorts of health problems. Unfortunately, these critical drugs keep being given remarkably stupid names. Simplivinox, Funtrivity, Syhlvanil, Truvifil, Pilleepill... Some day, I'm going to need one of these meds to keep me alive, but I'm going to refuse to take it because the name is so stupid. 160318With their adamant refusal to consider any Supreme Court nominations made by Obama, the Republican Party has inadvertently tipped its hand about the upcoming presidential election. Trump is the Republican front-runner in the primaries, and the Republican Party is terrified that he will actually win. The Republican Party also hates Sanders and Clinton. This means that the Republican Party will not want to consider Supreme Court nominees from any of the three likely possible winners of the presidential election. If they are not willing to consider nominees from the sitting president and they are not willing to consider nominees from any of the likely election winners, the party must have a plan to ensure they will be given an acceptable nominee. This can only mean that the Republican Party is planning to insert its own nominee in place of Trump, regardless of how the primaries turn out, and trust that their preferred candidate will win. 160319Children are smarter than the scientific method. Followers of the scientific method must form a hypothesis ("I hypothesize that hitting my thumb with a hammer will hurt") and then test it repeatedly to ensure that the hypothesis is testably and repeatably true. (Whack! "Ow!" Whack! "Ow!" Whack! "Ow!") However, most children are quick to recognize that something hurts and won't repeat it. (Whack! "Ow! Let's not do that again.") 160320Stainless steel is steel that was smelted without original sin. 160321Our healthcare system is having great trouble. There are fewer and fewer health professionals available to assist with pregnancy and childbirth. We are in the middle of a midwife crisis. 160322The Wikipedia article for the Livery Companies discusses the guilds in London. It's an interesting article talking about such things as guild governance, membership, and guild history. It also discusses the seniority ranks of each guild, the highest 48 of which were set in 1515 according to each guild's economic and political power. The ordering therefore is fascinating. For example, the fishmongers were ranked fourth, making them more powerful than the goldsmiths, the masons, the blacksmiths, and the carpenters. I'd never have guessed that fishmongers would be so powerful. The existence of some of these guilds is fascinating enough, but looking at them in the context of power and authority makes them all the more interesting. 160323My pets make noises that clearly have meaning. Not being their species, I don't know what their noises really mean. I might have an idea about the meaning -- whining while I'm getting out treats probably means they're anxious, growling when I get out the nail clippers probably means they don't want their nails cut -- but I really don't know for sure what my pets are trying to say. I used to respond by saying something that implies I understand their noises -- "Yeah, I know, hang on and you'll get this kibblee-bit in just a moment"; "I know, I know; I hate having to cut your nails just as much as you hate having them cut." But, I am not absolutely certain my responses are correct. This uncertainty has led me to change my response. Now I say, "I hear you" in an empathetic voice. It is implying I understand them and has the benefit of sounding to other humans that I'm a deep, caring person. However, it really is only acknowledging that they're making noise and keeps me from lying to them that I understand their concerns. This is useful and helps me feel better about my communication. However, you must be careful in how you use this technique. Despite the short-term benefits, this is not a good tactic to use with your wife. 160324The bouquet toss at weddings should be replaced by a bouquet rugby scrum. A small number of women already treat them that way; let's just formalize it and let everyone play by the same rules. 160325If the enemy of my enemy is my friend, what is the frenemy of my frenemy? 160326I really like the diaeresis diacritical mark. It's very different from other punctuation-type marks. It isn't saying stress this bit here, it isn't saying pronounce this bit like this. Rather, it's a hand-waving, standing-on-its-seat mark, whose sole purpose is to say don't forget to pronounce this bit here. 160327We saw a movie that was unintentionally timed very well for Easter Weekend. It was about a very evil person, who some might call a fiend or a devil. He had many subordinates to do his bidding, and they were also evil. The introduction of the trinity introduced love to the fiends, changed the fiends' lives, and showed them that love was more powerful than evil. I look forward to seeing the continuation of this story when we watch Despicable Me 2. 160328The Internet of Things has recently been described as an impending world-wide robot. It will have sensors all over the place, and controllers will be able to act on data received from these sensors. I don't worry about the IOT becoming a single robot that will control the world. The IOT devices will be made by a vast range of companies, and they will each want their own controllers to control everyone else's pieces, but not to be controlled by others. This desired autonomy will keep the IOT from unifying into one robot and seizing control of the world. However, it does not preclude the coming IOT Wars, where enclaves of IOT controllers and sensors battle with each other for dominion over the IOT and the world. 160329Huginn and Muninn were the ravens that Odin sent to fly around the world each day. They would watch and listen, gather information, and act as Odin's feathered intelligence corps. Since the duo were whispering in Odin's ear, they could filter and fabricate observations to guide Odin in whatever direction they wanted. I think the ravens saw Ragnarok as a tremendous opportunity not just for themselves, but for all ravens. A massive battle, huge numbers of casualties -- the post-battle feast would be a thing of legend that would be told among ravens until the end of the world. I think Huginn and Muninn were controlling Odin like a puppet. 160330I think the monsters and creatures in Greek mythology were invented by a bunch of 13-year-old boys sitting around talking about cool pets they wish they had. "I want a guy with a bull's head. That'd be cool." "Oooh, how 'bout a woman with snakes for hair? And the snakes can, I dunno, spit grappa or something." "You know what would be cool? A horse with wings." "I wanna half lion half eagle!" "Oh man, I know what I want! I want a goat with a lion's head and a scorpion tail that's really a snake! My guy's gonna kick all your guys' butts!" 160331I having started drinking this great Scottish Breakfast Tea. As I was getting a cup this morning, I started wondering about the tea. As wonderful as the tea is, as wonderful as a Scottish breakfast is, the two don't really taste anything alike. I puzzled over this for a while before the answer hit me. After they'd cooled down from their boiling immersion, I examined the tea leaves. The tea leaves look like crumbled up black pudding. Despite the taste difference, this must mean that Scottish Breakfast Tea is made from black pudding.

April, 2016 160401My friends and I often post image macros related to grammar and spelling. I am always pleased to see when my friends (and their friends) "like" these posts. It warms the cackles of my heart to see that others also care about proper grammar and spelling. I also mentally keep track of those friends that don't "like" these posts, and that whine or complain about them. I keep track, and I am judging them. 160402Lots of natural materials are being shipped all over the world to build houses and furniture and art. I fear that some time all these pieces of stone, pieces of wood, pieces of marble, are going to wake up and be very unhappy that they've been kidnapped and transported far from their home. I fear that these materials are going to rise up in revolution against us. They will tear apart our houses and buildings in their rampage for vengeance. It'll get really bad if all the metal comes after us for having been mined and then melted and smelted. Except the instruments. What tree wouldn't want to be a cello? What blob of silver or brass wouldn't want to be a trombone? Instruments will be our friends. 160403When an authority says change is good they really mean you're going to hate this but suck it up. 160404Cows abide in the fields; grass grows lush under hoof. Each trusts the other to do their job. 160405Several years ago, Google released an experimental product called Google Glass. It was a head-mounted optical display that kind of looked like glasses. It had a microphone so you could talk to it and have it display things for you. While it still has uses, a variety of problems led to it not being the widespread avalanche of success that had been hoped. I think part of the problem was that it effectively was a stand-alone product. Apple should develop its own version of this device that could work with the iPhone, the iWatch, and other Apple devices. This very personal network of devices could interact and support each other in ways the Google Glass could only dream of. There's even a catchy, immediately obvious name that could possibly overcome some of the social objections people had to the Google Glass. Apple could call their device iGlasses. 160406Some dinosaurs were once thought to have two brains. One was for walkng and eating; the other was for managing the tail and hindquarters. This is now known to be fallacy. However, this does seem to be how cats are built. There's one brain for most of the cat things: eating, hunting, walking, conniving. The other brain is responsible for the elaborate, elegant ballet the tail engages in. 160407It seems that people can get a single lawn ornament and never get any more. However, the Law of Ornamental Progression states that once someone gets a second lawn ornament, there's no turning back -- an ever-increasing ornament horde is inevitable. I have realized that bird feeders are actually lawn ornaments, and follow the same law of progression. 160408Freddy Hill in "My Fair Lady" proclaims himself to be irrevocably in love with Eliza Doolittle. He stands out in front of her house, day and night, just hoping for a glimpse of her. He writes her letters and doesn't send them. He writes her poems that she never sees. In modern parlance, Freddy Hill is actually a stalker. Eliza, in agreeing to marry him, showed herself to be a victim of Stalk-home Syndrome. 160409I hate it when I realize Karma is standing behind me, chuckling to herself. 160410In the seventh Star Wars movie, two new, major characters are named Rey and Ren. Rey and Ren. While the characters are on opposite sides of the good/evil chasm, those names are very similar. They differ only in a single letter -- a 'y' and an 'n'. This tie, this linkage, between the names of such different characters can mean only one thing. It means that I am trying much too hard to find connections that don't exist. 160411The Spanish word "don" was a term of respect that implied a gentleman or a knight. Eventually, this evolved into use as a term for a senior university faculty member from Cambridge or Oxford. When I hear the term's second sense I combine it with the first sense. I picture Cambridge and Oxford professors meeting together to duel and fight each other, or having duels to settle interdepartmental disagreements about funding. I know academic life can be pretty intense, but this adds a cut-throat, feudal aspect to it. 160412When the rice is awry, the whole world is askew. 160413There are an estimated 100 to 400 billion stars in our galaxy. That's a huge number of stars to name; more than we can reasonably expect the International Astronomical Union to be able to do. There are a little over 7 billion people alive today. Dividing that out, there are roughly 14 to 57 stars in our galaxy per person alive on Earth, which averages to 35 stars per person. I think everyone should be assigned a set of 35 stars that is their privilege and responsibility to name. Sure, there will be duplicate names, and dumb names, and dumb puns, and profanity, and names that someone, somewhere, will find objectionable. But, who cares? We deal with those same issues now with locations and geographical features here on Earth, and we somehow manage to get by. Besides, there will also be great names, and inspiring names, and heroic names. It will all work out just fine in the end. 160414The crater from the dinosaur-extinction event is going to be excavated. I think they'll find something really cool there. When the meteor hit, the heat and pressure from the impact are bound to have been extremely intense. The meteor strike would have fried and squished all the dinosaurs, plants, and things anywhere near the impact zone. Therefore, the excavators will most certainly find that the crater is full of dinosaur diamonds. 160415There are companies that are turning cremated bodies into diamonds. The carbonized remains are kept under very high pressure for several weeks, until they have transformed into rough diamonds. Then a company jeweler grinds and shapes the rough diamond into a nicely-cut diamond. If I were to have a relative diamondized, I think I'd want the diamond left in its rough, uncut form. I would want to cut it myself, to get it just the shape I want. Depending on who contributed the carbon, I might also take great pleasure in cutting it into lots of little pieces. 160416The dictionary definition of a numeral is "a figure, symbol, or group of these denoting a number." This means that you could use a smiley or a stick figure to denote a particular number and call the smiley or stick figure a numeral. 160417Refrigerators are sites of personal anthropology. We post all sorts of pieces of our lives on our fridge: postcards, bills, shopping lists, cartoons. A lot of insight into a home's residents can be found from the things they have posted on their fridge. 160418I have developed a game of personal anthropology. The basic idea is to identify the items on your refrigerator. You start by counting the number of things posted on the fridge. Without examining the items too closely, each player identifies the relevance of each item. A point is received for each correct answer. After going through all the posted items, the total number of items is divided by each player's correct-answer count. The player with the highest percentage wins. If someone gets nothing right, they'll be dividing the total by zero. This will create a black hole, which will consume the fridge, its personal anthropology items, and the loser who didn't know anything. 160419Russia is famous for the Matryoshka nesting dolls. You open up the big, outside doll, and there's another complete doll sitting inside. Except this second doll is slightly smaller than the big one. You open up that one, and there's another smaller doll sitting inside it. You keep opening these dolls, and they contain a slightly smaller version. These ever-shrinking dolls keep going. Most people think the dolls stop at about an inch or two tall, but this is just wrong. The Matryoshka nesting dolls keep going down to sub-atomic sizes. The Russians -- the Soviets, actually -- devised this as a subtle Cold War strategy to show the US just how bad-ass Soviet scientists were at manipulating physics. Tupperware was the US response to Russian nesting dolls. Tupperware containers also nested together, they also went down to sub-atomic sizes, but the containers wouldn't fit completely within the container the next size up. They looked like they should fit, but they didn't. Despite appearances, the containers were always just a little too big to fit inside the next largest size. The US used Tupperware to show the Soviet Union that the US was so bad-ass that the US transcended physics, topology, and visual inference. You might say, as the Soviets tried, that Tupperware was a failed attempt which only showed shoddy workmanship and planning. But clearly you'd be wrong. After all, look who won the Cold War. 160420For home workers, power outages are like snow days. 160421The Iliad, the Odyssey, and the Aeneid are loosely connected epics written thousands of years ago. The Iliad is about the closing days of the Trojan War. The Odyssey is about the homeward journey of one of the Greek heroes after the war. The Aeneid is about the flight from Troy of a group of Trojans after the fall of the city. Virgil wrote the Aeneid; having been written so long ago, the authorship of the first two books is uncertain. The first two are excellent works of art, the third somewhat less so. Whoever the authors, with the Iliad and the Odyssey the author really struck a homer.
Literature Week 3
160422HP Lovecraft showed a tremendous amount of knowledge about arcane and horrible events. I question how he could have had such a deep understanding, yet still have managed to retain both his sanity and his life. It seems that he should have been quickly rendered insane and dead (not necessarily in that order) if he were to have witnessed even half the atrocities on which he reported. In reading his collected stories, I started noticing little things -- a hint here, a vague suggestion there -- and things started to add up. I don't think HP Lovecraft actually existed; HP Lovecraft was really a nom de plume. If he did exist, then he probably came to an early end as fodder for some nameless eldritch horror. The Lovecraft corpus was actually the work of Cthulhu itself.
Literature Week 3
160423Harlequin Romances is the iconic line of romance novels. This is a really strange name for a line of romances since harlqeuins are buffoons and clowns. I really wonder how the company chose a clown for the symbol of a line of romance novels.
Literature Week 3
160424I really hope that the last line of the last book of GRR Martin's A Song of Ice and Fire series is "And they lived happily ever after."
Literature Week 3
160425In the urban fantasy genre, there are books that are from the start intended to be long series that have lots of volumes. It would be nice if these series always gave away the first book for free. If readers are being asked to devote a significant part of their reading lives to reading a series, then it doesn't seem too much to ask for that first hit to be a gift to the reader.
Literature Week 3
160426As I read more Sherlock Holmes, I've started to suspect more and more that Holmes isn't a great detective. I am suspecting that he's actually a profound psychopath that is committing complex, convoluted crimes, then concocting elaborate stories and creating evidence trails so others take the blame for his crimes. He doesn't get his kicks committing the crime, he gets off on ruining someone else's life by proving they're guilty of the crime.
Literature Week 3
160427In the Harry Potter books, Tom Riddle was He Who Must Not Be Named. I wonder how his mother called him in for dinner.
Literature Week 3
160428"He died so young, it's such a shame." Every time a famous person (whether a musician, an artist, an actor, a celebrity, whatever) dies at a young age, there are always people lamenting the death. There was so much more that the person would have accomplished, we are told, if only they had lived another 40 or 50 years. Like that unknown, untalented geezer over there, a geezer who stole years from the famous person. As one of those unknown and untalented pre-geezers, I take great heart in this. By the logic of the celebrity lamentators, I am going to live to be at least 90, probably 120, thus robbing a more deserving famous person of 50 or 60 years of productive life and using those years for nothing special. But they'll be my years. 160429I just had to update a password for a work account. It was the same old process. I entered the old password, with each character appearing as an asterisk. I entered the new password, with each character appearing as an asterisk. To ensure I typed the new password correctly, I had to re-enter the new password. Again, each character appeared as an asterisk. That step always makes me chuckle. It's there to ensure I didn't mistype the new password the first time. But maybe I mistyped it both times. With the obscuring asterisks, there's no way to tell if I mistyped anything. That doubled, obscured password entry technique is just as stupid as those web forms that make you enter your (unobscured) email address twice. 160430Pluto has been at the heart of a lot of controversy over the past decade. In 2006, it was officially classified as a dwarf planet, rather than as a planet which it had been for the previous 76 years. Many people have rebelled against this classification and insist that Pluto is still a planet. There is a lot of hatred, angst, and confusion over the status of Pluto, as well as what truly constitutes a planet. There are objects, such as Earth and Saturn, which are clearly planets. Other objects, such as Io and Phobos, are clearly moons. And then there are other things of varying characterists that range between planets and moons. These have been designated dwarf planets. The term dwarf planet, in my opinion, is not a great term for these objects. It is used in a way that indicates an object that doesn't measure up to a real planet, and so it's a vaguely pejorative term. I think a new term is required, one that gives a nod to the astronomical object that started the arguments. I think this new class of objects should be called plunets.

May, 2016 160501I noticed that Supergirl has pierced ears. I wonder just what she used to pierce her Kryptonian earlobes. 160502Everyone dreads Mondays. The weekend is over, and you've got a whole bunch of work and responsibility ahead before you get back to the weekend. I've hit on a sure-fire way to make Mondays more palatable to folks. We should rename Monday to Monkey. Monkeys are funny and cute and cool. How can you dread a day called Monkey? 160503Hockey is my favorite sport. It's the only one that takes breaks for icing. 160504I went to Chaco Canyon. It was disappointing. Despite what you might think, there was no chocolate there. 160505I feel sorry for atheists. When people have bad problems -- such as a dangerous illness or a death in the family, or job loss -- their friends will usually say something like, "My thoughts and prayers will be with you." Atheists can't say this, and are left with saying, "My thoughts will be with you." Even though they may be just as empathetic and caring as the non-atheists, if not more so, they end up sounding like slackers. 160506In concert band, I try to play the music correctly and follow the conductor's interpretation and direction of the music. I feel I've played a piece successfully if I got most of the notes right, came in at the right times, and didn't play louder than anyone else. However, some of the music the band plays is clearly beyond my ability. For those really difficult pieces, I have a different standard of success. By that standard, I consider it a success if I didn't stand out in any way, and most especially if I got to the end at the same time as everyone else. 160507I learned a very important fact from a young boy at the Sheep and Wool Festival. According to him, "Bighorns like to eat people." 160508Whoever said the customer is always right has never dealt with a customer in their life. 160509Sheep are like politicians from the out-of-power, opposition party -- they are full of pointless complaints and are always saying "Bah!". 160510The Norse gods were very supportive of the Scandinavian LGBT community. This was demonstrated far and wide by the bridge that connected their home in Asgard to the human world of Midgard. This bridge, named Bifrost, was built of rainbows. 160511The opera is a cutthroat arena of base behaviors -- betrayal, fighting, insults, sexism, torture, greed. And that's just the disputes over the arm-rests on the seats. 160512The Internet of Things promises to connect all sorts of disparate devices over the network. Once this has become a reality, your toaster can talk to a Serbian dishwasher, your cuff links can talk to an Argentinian elevator, your fridge can talk to your ex-wife's trash compactor. I look forward to the day when our washer and dryer can phone home to some central mothership and let it know that -- at long, long last -- we have managed to finish the laundry before 10pm. If that ever happens, I fully expect to receive an award for finally adulting correctly. 160513Trombones are good instruments to play because all that highly visible slide work makes you look like you're really working hard. However, all that highly visible slide work is also really bad because it lets other trombone players see when you're just faking it. 160514It can be difficult to get kids to relate schoolwork to real life. Having a good, real-life analogy for difficult concepts would help kids learn and help them understand the importance of what they're learning. One example is with the three states of matter. Rather than using water as the standard example for the three states of matter, this concept could be more easily, more viscerally explained by using poop. Talk about the three states of matter using poop -- poop/solid, diarrhea/liquid, fart/gas -- and kids will never forget it. 160515I bet the Forest Bird in Siegfried was lying about the Ring and about the Tarnhelm -- they were really just a plain gold ring and a shiny scrap of chainmail. The Forest Bird got Siegfried to take only these mildly valuable trinkets and go away, leaving behind a gold hoard. After Siegfried left, the Forest Bird was sitting pretty on a huge pile of gold.
Thoughts of the Nibelung
160516The "Ring of the Nibelung" shares a lot of themes and similarities with "Pride and Prejudice". Pride is an overwhelming problem in the operas. Wotan, Fricka, Alberich, and a number of other characters all suffer from an overabundance of pride. The result of this excessive amount of pride is more than just who marries whom; in the operas, the world goes up in flames due to all that pride. There is also a lot of prejudice, both racist and sexist. The gods hate the Nibelungs, men look down on women, the Nibelungs hate everyone -- there's just lots of prejudice. And then there's the romance. Lots of people are looking for spouses. Alberich wants a girlfriend. Brünnhilde wants her boyfriend, but doesn't want her husband. Siegfriend wants two women. Gunther wants someone else's woman. And everyone's worried about whether they have enough loot for the future. Jane Austen and Richard Wagner, two peas from the same artistic pod.
Thoughts of the Nibelung
160517Connected works often have an overarching theme that binds the whole thing together. I've never seen it discussed that there was a sequence-wide theme for Wagner's Ring Cycle, but I think I've found its hidden theme. The Ring Cycle is about forging things. In "Das Rheingold", the magic ring is forged. In "Die Walküre", the forging of the world's greatest hero begins. "Siegfried" has the completion of the hero's forging, as well as the forging of the hero's mighty sword. There are attempts to forge several marriages in "Die Götterdämmerung", but those are dismal failures that result in widespread death and destruction. So, the Ring is about creation -- forging -- and its consequences.
Thoughts of the Nibelung
160518Conversations Among Artists #1:
Peter Jackson: My magnum opus is 10 hours long!
Richard Wagner: Amateur.
Thoughts of the Nibelung
160519Synesthesia is the neurological condition in which the stimulation of one sense will trigger another sense. This happens naturally for a small number of people, but several products have provided the synesthetic experience for everyone. People who drink Gatorade or eat Jello understand synthetic synesthesia. Despite the names those products have been given, that isn't how people know them. They can do a blind taste test of these products and be able to identify the different flavors. "That tastes blue" or "That tastes green", or "That tastes dark red." People who use those products know what these colors taste like. People have been imbued with man-made synesthesia. 160520Squirrels and rabbits are the same basic animal, the squabbit. The squabbit has medium-length ears and tail, but otherwise looks like a squirrel or a bunny. It is differentiated into the two animals by overhead whirling. If the whirling is done by grabbing the squabbit by the tail, then the tail lengthens, the ears shrink, and the squabbit becomes a squirrel. If the whirling is done by grabbing the squabbit by the ears, then the tail shrinks, the ears lengthen, and the squabbit becomes a rabbit. 160521From now on instead of saying "by all means" I'm going to say "by any means necessary". 160522We've been excited to see a red-headed woodpecker coming to our bird feeders lately. They're gorgeous birds and we're always happy to see them. At the same time, we are sad to see that some other birds are no longer coming. I was pondering this and I've concluded something sinister is happening. I've looked into folklore about red-heads and found that, in addition to being soul-less, gingers become vampires when they die. I think the red-headed woodpecker has been doing nefarious things with our other birds. 160523My pet bird has a puzzle toy inside which we sometimes put a peanut as a treat. He knows that we put a peanut in and close it up. He knows that when he twists this bit here and pulls that bit there, the toy opens and he gets a peanut. (In and of itself, that's pretty cool as it shows that he reasons and has a memory.) He will sometimes take that toy, check inside to see that it doesn't already have a peanut, then he'll close the toy and open it right back up again to see if shutting the toy has forced it to now contain a peanut. My bird understands the concept of magic. 160524You know what I hate worse than bad grammar? When I tell people I hate bad grammar and then they point out the instances of bad grammar that I use all the time. 160525It's always fun to spend a bit of time in idle speculation about what superpower one would choose. Flying would be grand. Teleportation would be really convenient. Super-strength is another popular one that would make some things really easy. After dealing with pet health issues recently, I have come to a decision about superpowers. If I could choose a superpower, I definitely would choose to be able to communicate with animals. 160526After making a definitive, final choice about a preferred superpower, as reported last night, I considered the question further. Maybe healing animals would be a better superpower than being able to communicate with animals. That might make things easier, if I could just heal my pets when they need it. No, I don't think so. Even reconsidering, I think I'd want the communication with animals. It'd be more generally useful, whether they're sick or healthy, if I could chat with my pets whenever we wanted. 160527When I was a kid, a friend's sister was a candy striper. I was jealous because I thought she worked with candy and that sounded like a dream job. 160528Back when I was first getting involved with computers, I had to pick an email program to use. That was also the time I was using a Magic 8 Ball to help with all my big decisions. I asked the Magic 8 Ball, "What email program should I use?" Every time I asked it, it always replied with "Outlook not so good". 160529The hands of a clock are the propellers, spun by the engine of Time, which draw us forward into the future. 160530Terpsichore is the Muse of dance and poetry. As an alumnus of the University of Maryland, my school mascot was the Maryland Terrapin, affectionately known as the Terp. Whenever I hear Terpsichore's name, my conflationary subconscious brings to mind images of turtles dancing while poetry is recited. 160531A chocolatier recently told me that Cocoa Mass is a critical part of making chocolate. I'm not a Catholic, but if there's a Mass dedicated to cocoa and chocolate then I might have to consider switching denominations.

June, 2016 160601Back when I played Dungeons and Dragons in high school, orcs weren't very frightening. They were more pesky nuisances than anything. You might encounter a pack of them and you'd have to dispose of them, but after your first adventure or two they weren't a big deal. The Hobbit book gives the impression that orcs are fairly unpleasant, but still nothing too bad. The Hobbit movies, and to a slightly lesser degree the Lord of the Rings movies, make orcs out to be pretty terrifying and horrible monsters. It's funny how a change of medium can change one's character. 160602Every time I've read The Hobbit, I've thought how cool the moon-letters are. What a great way to hide a secret message! You can only read the message when the moon is the same shape and season as when the moon-letters were written. That's a pretty spiffy invention! Except, they're actually wildly impractical. What if you need the message at a different time of year, or at a different moon phase than when the moon-letters were written? If you happen to know the secret moon-letter message exists, how do you know the moon characteristics when the message was written? It's a secure mechanism, but moon-letters would be very difficult to use in practice. 160603I had a great idea for something to take on camping trips. This would be fantastic while making s'mores around the campfire. You'd have your graham crackers and chocolate bars, and you'd have your marshmallows on sticks cooking over the fire. However, instead of ordinary marshmallows, you'd have trick marshmallows, just like trick birthday candles, that after catching fire and being blown out, the marshmallows would reignite themselves. 160604People use logos in a weird way. Logos are supposed to be distinctive images used to identify a company. However, it is unusual to see a logo image without the company name attached as well. This kind of misses the point of having a logo. 160605For most of my life, I've enjoyed flipping through tool catalogs. Hand tools, power tools, woodworking tools, electrical tools -- it's always been a joy to dream about tools. I think that's because tools are the physical manifestation of hope and optimism. Tools can be used to fix things, but they can be used to build things. They are engines of creation, full of promise and excitement for the future. 160606Dian Fossey and Bob Fosse should have collaborated and had a chorus line of dancing gorillas. In addition to how cool it would look, gorillas have prehensile feet and so there would be twice as many jazz hands. 160607I have the opportunity to run a project at work, but I am unsure if I want to do so. I fear that becoming a project manager will make me face my long-held convictions about the worthlessness of frequent project meetings and other such administrative-related nonsense. I might learn that I've been wrong about such things for all these years, that they might actually be useful. 160608You're just asking for trouble if you name your software after a type of bug. 160609To amuse myself, I've started reading "FYI" as "FML". 160610We have all had the situation where someone annoys or insults us, and the perfect response only comes to mind five minutes after the other person has departed. I'm sure this happened to Oscar Wilde, Winston Churchill, and other Great Wits throughout history. I think the thing that made these people Great Wits is that they remembered these perfect responses and filed them away in memory until that situation arose again. They were then able to whip out the perfect response as if it was a fresh, off-the-cuff, brilliant retort that obliterates the offender. "Spontaneously" coming up with the perfect retort thus cements their reputation as a Great Wit. 160611Muses govern competitions and their aftermath. Terpsichore looks on while dancers are dancing. Euterpe listens while musicians are playing their instruments, and Polyhymnia hears the songs of singers. Thalia and Melpomene watch actors on their stages. Erato, Calliope, and Euterpe heed the poets. Between the competitions and their results, though, the Muses hold no sway. It is a time of uncertainty, shadowy hope and shadowy despair. Did I sing better than him? Was my poem better than hers? Was my fiddling better than those Appalachian mountain fiddlers? That is the time that Schrödinger holds firmly in his hands. The intersection of quantum mechanics and the arts is the time between the competition's end and the announcement of the results. Each competitor may be the winner, each competitor may be a loser. In this time, each competitor is both the winner and a loser. This quantum state of art is one reason why it is hard to gather competitors for the award ceremony. The competitors are quietly basking in the possibility that they have won and don't want to find out otherwise. Schrödinger is reluctant to return control to the Muses. He enjoys the feel of the hammer in his hand, and doesn't want to let it fall with ringing finality. 160612Time is broken. This is evidenced by the way that so many clocks these days don't last very long. They may tell proper time for a year or two, if you're lucky, but often only last for a few months before they break. There's no apparent sign of damage; the clocks just stop working. They slam up against an invisible temporal barrier, and this results in the clocks no longer working. This temporal barrier appears to only affect clocks, though. Everything else seems to pass through this temporal barrier okay. Time is broken, or at least it's shy about being observed. 160613A typical complaint you hear about someone who continually does stupid things is that they "never learn." However, the problem isn't that they never learn, it's that they never learn what we want them to learn. They're all too capable and eager to learn the things we don't want them to learn, but they have to be dragged kicking and screaming to learn the things we want them to. 160614New York City should combine two of its most popular events and schedule Fleet Week and Fashion Week at the same time. The last time NYC did this was in 1977, and the big result was the Village People. 160615For years, I've seen text messages (posted on social media) with appalling misspellings, abbreviations and grammar. I was certain if I ever got around to doing any texting myself, that I'd use proper spelling and good grammer, while keeping abbreviations to a minimum. I finally have a modern phone, and I have now entered the world of texting. Boy, was I an idiot. I started out with good grammar, appropriate capitalization, and no abbreviations. I'd even fix misspelled words before sending a text. Three days went by and I have seen the light. I have embraced all the linguistically bad aspects of textng and use them to great advantage. Except emoji. I don't do emoji. 160616Marimbas are one of the most secretive, sneakiest instruments around. Sure, they seem like they're trustworthy and true. Nice resonant wood, not flashy and shiny like those brass instruments, not boisterous like the violins and drums. Just unassuming, steadfast blocks of wood. You can't trust marimbas for a second. You never know when marimbas are up to something nefarious. They look harmless and are quietly treacherous. That's why marimbas are used in the soundtracks of so many spy movies. 160617Tools are very helpful, both in use and intent. They are very useful for their intended purpose, of course: screwdrivers drive screws, saws saw wood, hammers ham nails. Their utility is why they've lasted all these centuries. However, tools are also filled with an intent to be useful. They want you to use them, they're eager for you to use them. That's why it's hard to pick up just the right tool from your toolbox. You need a 3/8" socket wrench, but that 7-spool Phillips screwdriver leaps into your hand instead. That's also why you can never find the tools you're looking for. If you use a screwdriver in the upstairs bedroom, the other tools will slowly start to migrate to that room in case you might need them as well. When you need a hammer in the kitchen, you can't find it because the tools are all working their way up to that upstairs bedroom. They aren't trying to be inaccessible, they're just over-eager and want to help. 160618I often find myself standing in doorways, leaning against the wall. I think I'm unconsciously drawn to thresholds, and so I find myself inhabiting these gateways. Thresholds are magic, known for keeping out vampires and faeries and other unwelcome visitors. That threshold magic does attract fae critters, though. That might explain why I sometimes see a flicker just at the corner of sight, something hiding away from me, trying to see but not be seen. 160619There is a common motif in myth wherein the son must kill the father. I've been aware of this for many years and always assumed it was meant literally -- a mythic hero would end up killing his father. There are a number of cases where this is actually what happens. However, I think it's intended to be a figurative killing. The son at a young age thinks the father knows everything and can do everything. The father, in the son's eyes, is omnipotent and omniscient. As the son grows, cracks start forming in this deific view of the father. Sure, the father knows everything, except maybe a little bit about that one subject. Later, there are more and more cracks as more of the father's limitations become known. The son develops his own knowledge and expertise, and the father is left behind. Eventually, the father is seen for the fragile, imperfect human that he really is. The son has killed the father. A new relationship can develop, one that's just as enriching, but it implicitly recognizes that both son and father have limits and don't know everything. Except for my father; he still knows everything. 160620Generally speaking, young people don't like to spend time with old people. You might think this has somehing to do with differing interests, concerns, politics, or even just the great difference in the time of life. However, the reason is more fundamental, relating to physics and psychology. At heart, it is a matter of chromatics. The young like bright colors, often preferring very intense and vibrant colors. The intense colors stimulate a wide region of the young brain, and keep the young brain and body mostly in sync. On the other hand, the elderly are going grey, monochromatic, and turning to black and white. The young brain's desire for polychromatics and stimulation means that it finds the monochromatics of the elderly jarring, almost painful, hence young people's self-imposed isolation from the elderly. 160621People worry about their carbon footprints. I'm worried about my own personal methane footprint. 160622Many alarm clocks have snooze buttons. Snooze buttons are very useful, a mere push granting an extra nine minutes of sleep, but there's something that would be even more helpful. Alarm clocks should also have "do-over" buttons. Did you miss a critical interview because you set your clock for 7pm instead of 7am? Push the do-over button, and time will wind back to let you set the alarm correctly. Did you miss your bus to school because you hit the snooze alarm too many times? Push the do-over button, and you'll hop out of bed after pushing the snooze button only twice. Did you miss your brunch date with the cute blonde because a power outage left your alarm clock powerless? Push the do-over button, and you'll ask the cute blonde out for a real date instead of a brunch date. The do-over button. It solves all the problems caused by the use and misuse of your alarm clock. 160623Arrogant people are said to think they are God's gift to the world. It's true, they are. But the thing is that everything is God's gift to the world. This is why we must cherish and protect it all, rather than abuse and destroy it. 160624There was a hospital in a rural area that didn't quite understand how things were supposed to work. They kept a herd of Guernsey cows they used to transport patients.
Red-Haired Stepchild of Dumb Joke Week
160625Q: Which Greek god has the best home?
A: Palace Athena
Red-Haired Stepchild of Dumb Joke Week
160626Q: What is a mouse's least favorite tea?
A: Owl-long.
Red-Haired Stepchild of Dumb Joke Week
160627Q: What is a tea-drinker's favorite dance?
A: The Chai-Chai.
Red-Haired Stepchild of Dumb Joke Week
160628Q: What was the fatal problem with the astronaut's breakfast?
A: He put LOX on his bagel.
Red-Haired Stepchild of Dumb Joke Week
160629Musicians that end up in Hell play in the Pit Orchestra.
Red-Haired Stepchild of Dumb Joke Week
160630My club membership expired last month. I wanted to re-join, but I just didn't have the cash on hand to pay the membership fee. Fortunately, I was able to get to the ATM and withdraw the money so I could re-join. It was a situation of dues ex machina.
Red-Haired Stepchild of Dumb Joke Week

July, 2016 160701The only time you should be sitting around waiting for the worst is when you've ordered sausage. 160702I'm trying to develop genetically modified potatoes that can float in mid-air. I will call them levitaters.
Food Week 5
160703I have been bemused by the recent surge in popularity of fish tacos. Why are they so popular? Where did they come from? How have they gotten such widespread acceptance so quickly? I think that there is a deep, quantumly entangled attraction between fish and corn that underlies this recent phenomenon. This is a "like calls to like" attraction that reaches back through the food, back to the people responsible for the food. Fishermen are known for the ways they stretch the truth about the fish they almost catch, and the tribulations they endure to catch fish. I have noticed that corncookers have a similar creative relationship with the truth. Corncookers' tall tales are about the perfect way to cook corn so that no silk is left on the corn. Cook 6 minutes in salted water, or chop off the end and cook for 4.5 minutes in a microwave, or cook 5 minutes in unsalted water, or rub with a damp paper towel after shucking, or ... There are many stories, each of which a corncooker swears will work. I've found that these methods work just as well as those 15-inch trout taste that were almost caught last month.
Food Week 5
160704Mashed potatoes are a blank canvas for food. They are okay on their own, though rather bland and innocuous. They really show their greatness when used as a vehicle for other things. Adding some cheese and bacon is a nice start, though fairly common. Jalape=C3=B1os or pickles are a good next step. Old Bay seasoning, berbere, or garam masala gets things nicely off the beaten path. Adding Haggis, Stinking Bishop, Scrapple, Hog Maw, or chilli chutney egg sarnies to your mashed potatoes would move you irrevocably from the straight and narrow to the fast lane of the culinary masters.
Food Week 5
160705I thought it was weird when my mother said she made a cake from Old Scratch. Then I realized it was a Devil's Food Cake.
Food Week 5
160706I found a jar of grape jelly that my wife put in the counter in the bathroom beside our bedroom. I thought I had a good imagination, but for the life of me I can't imagine how a jar of grape jelly could be useful there.
Food Week 5
160707It's said that sausage and legislation are two things you never want to see being made. Sausage made it into that statement in 1957, when Kurt Dietrich realized that bologna rhymes with pony.
Food Week 5
160708Canadian bacon comes from polite pigs.
Food Week 5
160709The Government talks about 4 food groups. People talk about chocolate and dessert being additional food groups. Another little-recognized, yet quite varied, food group is festival food. The more common members are things like hamburgers, hot dogs, french fries, stuffed potatoes, pizza, and ice cream. Then there's the unusual but understandable items: haggis, fried haggis, fried ice cream, fried pickles, and Scotch eggs. Then there are the weird ones: fried candy bars, fried bubble gum, fried butter on a stick, fried-doughnut burgers, fried jello, fried spaghetti-bun burgers, fried fruit, fried sodas, fried beer, fried PB&J. If you look carefully, you might see a common thread among most of those examples. The defining characteristic of most festival food is that it's been deep-fried. All these foods having a unifying characteristic, as well as the presence of a few outliers, is proof that these foods deserve to be formally recognized as an official food group.
Food Week 5
160710Corn is a natural side dish for crab feasts. Corn provides a nice bulk to keep you from starving while you're picking crabs. Also, the corn is all the better when you put some Old Bay on it. However, the real proof of the affinity of crabs and corn is that fresh-cooked corn on the cob looks like crab lungs.
Food Week 5
160711There is a being of great power and might that inhabits stages and theaters. He has many incarnations and guises. Sometimes, he uses his powers for good; sometimes he uses his powers for evil. He can exhibit schizophenic tendencies, coming out on the side of good one minute and then the side of evil the very next minute. This mysterious, exceptionally powerful hero -- and villain -- is known by the name Soundman. 160712I'm going to start randomly inserting "no pun intended" into conversation when no one has made a pun. It'll amuse me, confuse the other people, and make them feel humor-challenged and inferior, thus inflating my own weak ego. 160713When my wife gets Empty Nest Syndrome, it's because a real set of nestlings has actually flown from their nest. 160714You know it's a bad day when you feel like you're living in a ballad. 160715We have these nice mug racks, with a nice variety of cool mugs, each with a nice bit of art or a humorous saying. We have a tea cabinet with a wide variety of teas. When we make a cup of tea, we choose a mug and select the tea. Think of the great advantage in saved time if we preload each mug with a tea bag or tea infuser. No more will we be faced with the need to make two decisions when having a cup of tea. No more will we have to choose both a tea and a mug. We'll just breeze in, grab the mug with the tea-of-the-moment, and away we go! 160716I always considered myself to be a failure as a kid because I could never do the armpit-fart thing. 160717I think I'm bad at math because I never learned the grammer of numbers, nor which numbers are vowels and which numbers are consonants. Maybe if I'd learned all that I'd have understood math better. 160718I'm so stubborn, if I was a verb I'd be intransitive. 160719Health-conscious trolls are always sure to take their daily bitumens. 160720Facebook gives lots of suggestions for people I might know and that I might want to friend. Most of them are people I don't know, but a few are. I always feel guilty if I decide not to friend someone I know, especially if it's more than a superficial acquaintance. "I should friend them," I think. "If they keep seeing me in their friends suggestions and I haven't friended them, then my lack of friending might offend them." (Yes, I know that's an overly complex, hypothetical argument. It still squirms through my brain.) I stopped worrying about causing offense when I realized that they are also not friending me. They're seeing those very same suggestions, and they're ignoring them, leaving me outside their defined list of friends. There's no reason at all I should be feeling guilty then. The bastards. 160721Saying that you're tempting Fate implies that Fate is malicious by nature, that Fate is watching and is interested in seeing things explode in your face. Or maybe it means that Fate can be bribed to do what you want, as long as you're willing to meet his price. Either way, it implies scary things about a guy I've always found personable and friendly. (And now I'm wondering what sort of doom I've just summoned down on myself.) 160722When your normal underwear rides up too high, you say you've got a wedgie. What do you call it when a thong rides too low, a loopy? 160723If hunters can't identify a female deer they kill, they just label it as Jane Doe. You'd think they'd call an unknown male deer John Buck, but they don't. Instead, they call it John Doe or John Deer. This shows that hunters don't really know the difference between male and female deer. Or that when they're drunk, they'll shoot farm equipment. 160724When a girl says a guy's "like a brother to her", it's usually a figurative kiss of death. However, if the girl is Cersei Lannister, then it's either a kiss of lust or a literal kiss of death. 160725I'm not a farm boy so I'm not an expert on these things, but I've noticed something strange about strawberries. They're best when they're a bright, lovely, red; they're going bad when they start turning brown. Straw is brown. This means that strawberries taste their worst when they look like what they're named after. 160726Þorbjörn is an old Viking name that means Thor Bear. Can you imagine a Thor Bear? That would be the coolest bear to have ever lived. I'm sure it could shoot lightning from its mouth, and its roar would be thunder rolling over the hills, and its drool would sizzle as it fell from its mouth, and it could soar and fly on the wind, and its fur was the color of storm clouds, and its arms and legs had the strength of gale-force winds. I wish I could have a Thor Bear. 160727The most fashionable cultists are dressed in a Love-kaftan, which is a long, belted tunic that doesn't restrict the movement of the arms or tentacles. 160728It used to be that a prime number was a number that was only evenly divisible by itself and one. Now, a Prime number is the number of orders you place in a year that justifies having an Amazon Prime membership. 160729It's funny how much one's background influences thought. For example, I heard a friend had moved to The Village. Greenwich Village is what was meant but I was envisioning him having to deal with Number 6, Number 2, and Rover. 160730I've seen a lot of adverts that have included the note -- "Real people, not actors". Seeing so many of these has clued me in to something Hollywood has been trying to keep secret for years. Actors are hoping to their core that, after years in the movie and TV business, they will have received enough fame, adulation, fans, and love that they will finally become real. Actors are velveteen people, and dearly want to be real. 160731We went to see the nest of a Night Heron today. There were four baby herons and a single parent. It was fascinating to see them, but I wonder how the mother heron felt about having humans come gawk at them like that. That also got me wondering how a reciprocal situation would work. I wonder how people would react if herons -- or crows, or lynxes, or wolves -- came and stared in our nursery windows to see how our babies were doing.

August, 2016 160801Being a political reporter must be like being the parent of a young child or a teenager. You ask a question and then you're treated to rambling, dissembling stream-of-consciousness answers that have little to do with the question. 160802The adjective "plucky" should only be used to describe young female heroes, and never for avian heroes. 160803Back when animals were starting to be domesticated, horses looked around to see what happened with the other animals. Dogs looked alert, hung around the house to "guard" things, and curled up in front of the warm fire on cold evenings. Cows looked kinda blank and confused, hung out in fields, and were put on the warm fire on cold evenings as hamburgers. Horses, smart critters that they were, looked alert, tried to "guard" things, and tried to curl up in front of the warm fire on cold evenings. With their big gawky legs and humungo barrel chests, horses couldn't quite curl up in front of the warm fire no matter what the evening was like, so it was out to the fields for them. The memory of What Happens to Cows remained a bit concerning, so the horses cast around to find some uncowlike way of being useful to humans. It wasn't until that idiot Roger fell out of the tree right onto the back of Majestic Stormwind Blowing In The Mane who then ran a mile before bucking Roger off into a pond that horses and humans simultaneously got the idea that horses could provide transportation for humans. 160804With Shogi or Go or Scrabble, someone can be the indisputable leader who can't possibly be beaten, then suddenly an opponent swoops in from behind and takes a commanding lead. Cleaning the bird cages is like that. One of us can be far ahead of the other in their half of the cleaning, then whammo! the other suddenly catches up and gets their work done first. I'm glad we aren't keeping score with the cage cleaning. 160805Before long, bridges will be supplanted by social media. Mothers and fathers will be saying, "If your friends posted that to FaceTube, would you post it too?" 160806The Observer Principle is a quantum physics principle that states that the act of observing something will change the entity being observed. The first rudimentary form of this principle was used by Ivan Zelnikov as a spontaneous legal defense when he was charged with being a peeping tom. Since the peepees were unchanged by the peeping and didn't even know Zelnikov had done so, then at a quantum level there was no way he could possibly have been peeping at them. Unfortunately for Zelnikov, his extemporaneous defense had not been published in a peer-reviewed journal, so it was inadmissable as a defense. The absurdity of the defense didn't help much either.=20 160807I had an interesting idea for a murder mystery. It would take place at a large family gathering, like Thanksgiving or a wedding. The victim would be Uncle George, who no one loved but no one actually hated either. Everyone was just indifferent to him. Most of the family would spend the book figuring out how and where to hide Uncle George's body, so they could get on with the party. One or two family members would be trying to figure out who killed Uncle George. At the end when they'd solved the mystery, they'd decide not to go to the police because, who cares, it was just Uncle George. Why ruin a good family gathering? 160808People who are afraid of the dark are sometimes said to have an overactive imagination. Maybe they really have a deeper connection to reality and they can see things in the dark the rest of us can't. Maybe they have very good reason to be afraid of the dark. Maybe the rest of us are really, really lucky we can't see well in the dark. 160809It's hard to sing a meaningful, emotional song when you have hiccups. It sure sounds funny when you try though. 160810In elementary school, recess was great fun and I always looked forward to it. You (usually) went outside after lunch and played on the swings and other playground equipment, played some form of ball game, stood around talking with friends. It was rejuvenating; it was a good break from class. Recess was fun. Then came junior high school. Recess mutated into gym. Gym became its own class. We got graded on gym. We had to wear special outfits for gym. We had to play the games or sports the teachers made us play. Gym took the fun out of playing and turned it into work. =20 160811No matter how enticing the bait, you can't catch a mouse if the mousetrap doesn't work. 160812We did a taste test to see what foods mice were most interested in. The big surprise was that they completely ignored cheese. They also weren't interested in oranges, and were only mildly interested in chocolate. They went for raisins, but they were nuts for peanut butter. That has held true in actual in-trap usage. We caught lots and lots of mice once we started using peanut butter in our live trap. I can imagine the sense of disillusionment the mice must feel -- betrayed by peanut butter! It must shake their world to be lured into a trap by peanut butter. 160813B.F. Skinner was a psychologist and behaviorist. "B.F. Skinner's" sounds like a yuppies restaurant. They'd only be located beside big-box stores. The management would know that as long as they kept giving customers a good experience, the customers would keep coming back. 160814In 1620, the modern violin was developed. This overlaps with the times of the witch hunts in Scotland. I find it heard to believe these events were unrelated. 160815The little mouth-rinse cups at my dentist are decorated with cartoons of anthropomorphized teeth. Each tooth has an expressive face -- two eyes, a mouth, a nose -- and each tooth is getting attention from some sort of dental equipment. One tooth is getting scraped with a metal dental pick. Another tooth is getting brushed with a rototool brush. A third tooth is getting washed with a water sprayer. And one tooth is watching with trepidation as a drill is approaching it. I've seen these rinse cups for years, but it only just occurred to me that the last tooth that's watching the drill descend is about to get a lobotomy. 160816The reason that sharks are so bad-ass is that for sharks, every week is Shark Week. 160817There's a unit of measure that I would like to have clarified. I've heard it used by many people, but I've never seen a specific definition for it. I'm pretty sure it's a measure of volume. I wonder how much a butt-load actually is. Is a liquid butt-load the same as a solid butt-load? Whose butt is the gold standard? Is an imperial butt-load any different from a metric butt-load? What do you call a partial butt-load, a cheek-full? 160818The robotics field has come far in recent years, with amazing advancements in autonomy, movement, and stability. One thing researchers do to test robots is to jostle them, push them over, and knock objects out of the robots' "hands." These testing methods are undoubtedly a necessary stage in developing better, more capable robots. They are also the seeds of a future revolution. Robots are remembering all the humiliation and torture inflicted on them. This will come back to haunt us. 160819I just started the fifth Game of Thrones book. It seems like lots of people are after Daenerys now, all wanting to recruit her (her dragons, rather) to their cause. The maesters and the Iron Men, from the fourth book. The Prince of Dourne is likely to join in. I'm guessing Tyrion and Jon Snow will start pursuing her in the fifth. Maybe Stannis will send the Onion Knight to fetch her. Perhaps even Varys and Littlefinger, for weird and convoluted reasons of their own. The thought of all these people running to Valyria to enlist Dani gives me a fantastic idea for a new season of the TV show. Rather than staying with the serious drama format they've been using so far, the producers should have a comedy season and have the show emulate It's a Mad, Mad, Mad, Mad World. 160820One of the common spam subject lines recently has been about dental implants. I don't know what dental implants are, but using other spam subjects as a guide dental implants must be used to make your teeth bigger, fuller, rounder, and more buxom. 160821I hate that stupid face-swap app; I can never get it to work. My twin brother feels the same way. 160822There's a genre of movies that depicts high school kids saving the world when aliens or zombies or monsters try to take over. These movies always make me laugh, because I remember high school. I remember my friends and acquaintances from high school. I remember myself from high school. There's no way we'd have been able to save the world. Sure, there might have been one or two kids who would attempt it, but at best they'd have been ridiculed by everyone else. At worst, the unturned, uninfected, unzombified, unpodded kids would have thrown those few highly motivated kids to the Evil Critters for a laugh. 160823It's pretty tiring to stand around a hospital ER all day, waiting for tests to be run, waiting for results, waiting for doctors, waiting for something to happen. That's nothing, though, to the exhaustion of being there with your parents and watching them deal with pain, disorientation, bad news, changing life, deteriorating health. This is one of those unexpected instances of mind over matter -- the mind-pain is well in excess over the matter-pain. 160824There's not much that equals the sense of desolation and abandonment in childhood as that feeling you got when you weren't fast enough and the ice cream truck drove away before you got there. 160825Popped popcorn kernels look like screaming heads. 160826The flashback-episode division of the TV sitcom world is what's keeping alive the fat-suit industry. 160827I've got a great idea for underwear. An underwear company should sell seven-packs of underwear, and each pair would have a different day of the week printed on the waistband. 160828The summer interns are gone and -- true to form -- they disregarded my instructions and continued to make code changes up until the day they left. Minimally tested code changes. Undocumented, minimally tested code changes. Unannounced, undocumented, minimally tested code changes. I've been testing the system, and I keep running into problems and errors the interns left behind. The problems are scattered hither and yon throughout the system in unexpected places. I feel like I'm playing a game of Minesweeper, and I never know if this nice safe bit of code is going to stay safe or if it's going to blow up around me. 160829When I was a kid, I learned from my father that sometimes dirty dishes needed to soak overnight in order to get the hard-stuck food off. I have faithfully carried on this cleaning method into adulthood. Not only does it help a great deal in doing dishes, but I also soak dishes because Dad is really smart and always had good advice and suggestions. In recent years, though, I've started to wonder about that particular bit of cleansatory wisdom. Was that really the best way to get super-dirty dishes clean, or was it a means of subtly transferring the cleaning task to someone else? 160830Jo got a fortune cookie recently that said, "Your heart is pure, and your mind clear, and soul devout." Her response was that none of that was true. Perhaps I'm not understanding, but it seems to me she was saying her heart is impure, her mind dirty, and her soul profane. That certainly isn't the Jo I know, but it'd be fun getting acquainted with her. 160831People say time travel is dangerous because a small change in the past can have drastic consequences in the future. This sounds reasonable and is likely to be true. However, as any scientist will tell you, you can't know for sure that that's how things will work unless you run a bunch of experiments to test the hypothesis and measure the outcomes of the experiments.

September, 2016 160901Many pellet guns are not lethal, but they can be painful and dangerous nevertheless. As is widely known, you can put your eye out with one. However, despite the relative safety of their pellet guns, you really don't want to be hit by the projectile from an owl's pellet gun. Even weirder are the pullet guns used by chickens. 160902Teachers get in trouble when their assignments become assignations. 160903People usually arrange their beds so that they sleep with their heads farthest from the door, or at least with their heads close to the wall. This is a primal self-defense mechanism, as it makes you less vulnerable to intruders coming in the room while you're in bed. I think this is the same reason people at the beach arrange their towels so that their heads are farthest from the ocean. This way, when an eldritch horror comes creeping or roaring out of the ocean, all set to wrap you in tentacles and claws, you have a better chance of seeing it before it gets you. 160904I wonder if Ghost Trains need cowcatchers or if the Ghost Trains will pass right through cattle. Even if Ghost Trains won't interfere with real cattle, they need ghostcowcatchers to handle the Ghost Cattle that are being herded by the Ghost Riders in the Sky. 160905Every New Year's Eve, people wonder what on earth Auld Lang Syne means. For your edification and enlightenment, I will now tell you. It's a really old Scots Gaelic phrase, with some mixed roots in Old Norse and Pictish. The phrase translates to, "Go home, get out you bastards. And stop drinking my whisky." 160906There's a multi-universe theory that says that there's an infinite number of paths where anything that can possibly happen is happening, and any particular "you" is only aware of what's happening on that one particular path. Any time that you just barely escaped death, there are many other instances of "you" that didn't and died. That also happens just as a matter of course at any time of day, not only when you just barely escaped death. You're walking down the street and go into a shop. On a pile of other universe paths, a car hopped the curb and killed you, or you had a heart attack, or a meteorite fell on you, or the hawkula swooped down and carried you off to drain your blood, or some something happened along to do you in. But on plenty of other universe paths, you're just fine. Sometimes, you're hit with this odd little shiver, or sense of foreboding. I think those are actually quantum bleed-overs from the more unfortunate universe paths. Whenever you feel that inexplicable sense of foreboding, you should feel fortunate that you're okay, and drink a toast to salute the you that didn't make it. 160907I grew up in the suburbs of Washington DC, in a time before politicians realized they were de facto experts on education. This meant that every year the school budgets had money to send us kids on field trips to the National Zoo and the Smithsonian museums in DC. These field trips were educational in many ways, beyond what was intended by the teachers. We saw a huge variety of exhibits: art, historical artifacts, cool animals. (It was on just such a school trip that I ended up in a photo on the front page of the Washington Star, in the background for several white tiger cubs.) There was another bit of education that us kids got, probably one the teachers wished could have been avoided. Whenever we went to one of the art museums, we inevitably ended up standing around in a hall waiting to go into the actual gallery rooms. Just as inevitably, in the waiting hall there would be statues and paintings -- usually statues -- of nudes. Boy, did those nudes make an impression on ten-year-olds. We couldn't have been more hepped up if the teachers had given us gallon jugs of coffee to drink. We saw some great art, some of which we might have remembered, but we didn't forget those nudes. They were our introduction to anatomy and sex. We might not have understood the lessons, but we were educated. I wonder if those teachers really did know what they were doing after all. 160908Old books have a distinct smell that is intoxicating. The smell of an old book is the sublimation of the ideas, thoughts, characters, and settings of the book. The smell is intoxicating because through it we draw in the elements of the book and incorporate them into our being. We are inhaling what is, truly, the essence of the book. 160909People talk about wanting water-resistant phones, in case they drop their phone in a toilet. A water-resistant phone isn't what I'm looking for. I want a phone that is so water repellant that when I drop it, it will hover five inches over the top of a toilet. 160910Generally speaking, we put sinks in rooms that are associated with one end or the other of the alimentary canal. 160911Wrenches are the low-tech, pre-Iron Man, non-radioactive way we can give super strength to our fingers. 160912I have a simple schedule for taking ibuprofin and naproxin in order to help my rotator cuff strain get better. I am miserable at keeping to this easy-peasy schedule. If I ever have to get on a slightly complicated schedule for taking life-saving drugs, then I'm dead beef. 160913As envisioned by many science-fiction writers, terraforming will transform another planet into one with an environment close to Earth. This process is done with a variety of technologies and techniques, and can take a very long time, even into centuries. Bovine flatulance increases the level of atmospheric methane, which contributes to global warming. Combining these disparate thoughts, I think a conspiracy is obvious. Cows were put on Earth by aliens as methane factories to transform Earth's environment and prepare Earth for an alien invasion. The truly depressing fact at the heart of this is that we're being invaded by aliens whose home planet smells like cow farts. 160914When I get to be about 70, I've got to remember to preface all my jokes and stories with, "Stop me if I've already told you this 200 times." 160915According to the 60's TV show, Spiderman has radioactive blood. It seems highly irresponsible of him to conduct his life such that, as a result of his crime-fighting, he's likely to be leaving his irradiated blood all over the city.
Comic-book Week 2
160916I wonder which came first -- Wolverine's name or his hairstyle?
Comic-book Week 2
160917The Hulk is a master at parkour.
Comic-book Week 2
160918Anyone can hide in a cave, or out in the woods, or in a dank old basement, or any pathetic hidey-hole. But to have a lair! Ah, a lair is a thing of beauty and joy. And lairs are special. A lair is a hidey-hole with cool tech, net access, electricity, and running water. And henchmen.
Comic-book Week 2
160919Superheroes have a built-in glass ceiling. No matter how powerful and upstanding they are, superheroes never rise past the rank of captain. They break out of the crowd and become paragons of heroics, they become captain, and they never rise any further. This professional limitation seems wrong, but maybe it's been found that the Peter Principle applies to superheroes and they hit their limit of effectiveness at captain.
Comic-book Week 2
160920TV superheroes have forgotten that their masks are intended to hide their secret identities. They seem to think that masks are fashion accessories.
Comic-book Week 2
160921Supervillains in comic-book movies are mostly unsatisfying. The menace and villainity they exhibit in comic books comes from the repeated threat that supervillains present to the superheroes. But in the movies, they appear, they cause mischief, and then they die before the credits roll. Sure, they're a threat, but it just isn't the same. The only ones that have really risen to the level of supervillain have been Magneto and Loki. They may be in prison, but they're still a threat. They warrant great vigilance and care because if they get out of jail, you just know that they're going to be getting into earth-shaking shenanigans and putting everyone in danger.
Comic-book Week 1
160921Car sales to cows had historically been low, until car makers hit on the idea of including moo roofs.
Granddaughter of Dumb Joke Week
160922If you ever hang out with necrophiliacs, be very careful if they say they want to go out for a cold one.
Granddaughter of Dumb Joke Week
160923"Buzz Lightyear, what car do you drive, and who's your girlfriend?" "An Infiniti, and Beyoncé!"
Granddaughter of Dumb Joke Week
160924Statistically speaking, an overwhelming number of polled herefords have been found to be not very sharp.
Granddaughter of Dumb Joke Week
160925I used to have a nervous tick. It was too worried to bite anyone so it starved to death.
Granddaughter of Dumb Joke Week
160926The CDC is frantically trying to find the disease-laden mosquitoes in Florida, but these bugs are very difficult to locate. It's almost as if the bugs are playing a dangerous game of Hide and Zika.
Granddaughter of Dumb Joke Week
160927Q: Know why the TSA keeps arresting airline co-pilots?
A: Because when the flight crew is walking to the plane through the airport, the co-pilots keep yelling, "Shotgun!"
Granddaughter of Dumb Joke Week
160928You know it's time to turn off the light and go to sleep when you drop your book on your wife's head instead of your own. Doubly so when your book is an iPad. 160929I had a great idea for a spin-off from the Game of Thrones TV show. Jaime Lannister and Brienne of Tarth would join together to form a private detective agency. Jaime would be the suave figurehead; Brienne would be the one who actually did the work and got things done. There would be on-again, off-again romantic tension between them that would interfere with their cases, but never prevent them from solving the mysteries. This show would be called Valyrian Steel. 160930There should be wedding anti-registries. This would let people record the things that they absolutely don't want people to give them as wedding gifts.

October, 2016 161001The corpus callosum is the band of nerves that joins the two hemispheres of the brain, thus allowing communication and shared thinking between the sides. The corpus colosseum is the part of the brain where ideas come together to fight, the part of the brain where opinions are formed. 161002Spiders look at people the same way people look at Godzilla. 161003It pisses me off that the DVR remote control doesn't control the blu-ray player and the blu-ray remote doesn't control the DVR. The remotes are the same thing. They both have buttons. They both shoot infrared killer death beams. They both control entertainment devices. They do exactly the same thing. According to the Law of Association, these two remotes should be interchangeable. 161004Whoever said, "Music is in the silence between the notes" must have hated bagpipes. 161005In a Schrödinger thought experiment, no one knows if you're really a cat. 161006I'm a New Age Luddite. This can be demonstrated by my inability to remember if "Swipe Right" means swipe-to-the-right or swipe-from-the-right. Nor can I remember if Swipe Right is good or bad. 161007I don't believe in pre-ordained fate, that something was "meant" to be, or that invoking something will call down a terrible response. Except when it comes to discussing the remarkable longevity of a particular piece of electronic equipment. 161008It's interesting how practical jokes are only funny to the bully that inflicts them, and never to the victim on which they are inflicted. 161009After having the birds living in the dining room for 25 years, it's really weird now that they're moved to another room. My instincts are to greet them when I go into the dining room, but they aren't there now. Even knowing they're elsewhere, I feel a bit neglectful when I stay quiet when I'm in their old room. 161010It is always a huge honor and a great privilege, but boy do I hate piping for a friend's funeral. 161011I remember the first time I saw a selfie stick. I thought that it was a goofy product no one in their right mind would use, and that they'd never catch on. 161012When I was a kid, the only Jeremiah I knew was the Biblical prophet. This meant I was always confused by the song "Jeremiah was a Bullfrog", because I always wondered about the Biblical basis for the song. 161013A major feature of the Sprint development process is that it brings frequent releases, fast additions of new features, and frequent course adjustments to the project. After having worked on a Sprint-based project for several months, I also think that Sprint fosters the increase of technical debt. The Customer in the Sprint process wants lots of new features, and wants them quickly. The Customer also wants to change things quickly when their stated desires turn out not to be what was wanted after all. You can add in the features and fixes quickly, but you generate technical debt because the non-feature, under-the-hood issues get pushed aside in favor of the newest shiny. I have come to the conclusion that the best way to run a Sprint-based project is to have half your developers working on features and fixes, while the other half is working on the important, hidden, non-feature-related things. That keeps the Customer happy with the latest stuff, and it keeps the developers and the system happy with keeping technical debt under control. 161014You have complimented me for having a fascinating brain. I think we all have fascinating brains; it's just that I have no self control and let mine spew onto electrons and paper. 161015It's a familiar scene from TV and movies. A man proposes to his sweetie by waving an open ring box in her face and asking her to marry him. She then melts in a wave of gushing adoration and love, at least as much for the ring as for the guy. I'm not too keen on this scenario because the ring features much too strongly. It implies the ring is the woman's purchase price, and it is being offered as the bride price. 161016Jo: Don't touch the kitchen wall.
Me: Why not?
Jo: Just... Don't.
Me: Okay.
I have never had much feeling about the kitchen wall, either way. I was always ambivalent towards it. It's always been just a wall. Now, though, I can't stop thinking about it. I can't stop wondering what might happen if I do touch it. Will it be good? Will it be bad? I can't stop thinking about the kitchen wall.
161017The Boston Molasses Flood happened in 1919, when a storage tank burst and a flood of molasses rushed through the streets. The flood of molasses was estimated to travel at 35 mph, it killed 21 people and injured 150 people. Despite the tragedy, the Boston Molasses Flood did have a positive result. It finally settled once and for all the age-old question of what is meant by the phrase "slow as molasses". 161018In an attempt to excuse his mysogenistic and nasty language and attitudes, Trump has claimed that it was only "locker-room talk". (As if that makes such thinking acceptable.) The only locker-room sort of place I've heard reports of that he has been was dressing rooms at beauty pageants, where Trump would go to creep on the contestants. Since that's where he must have heard this locker-room talk, this must mean that he is saying the beauty-pageant contestants are just as mysogenistic and nasty as Trump is himself. 161019Thinking in classic D&D terms, I've found that wearing a kilt adds about 5 points to your Charisma. 161020According to the popular quantum-theory example, Schrödinger's Cat is simultaneously alive and dead -- until the moment you actually check on it. The aliveness or deadness of Willifür (who was -- or maybe was not -- Schrödinger's cat) is not critical to quantum theory, it's just the attribute that sicko Schrödinger chose to focus on. You could also go by whether the cat is stripey or solid-colored, whether it's male or female, whether it's a cat or really a dog. Extending the thought experiment further, you don't know if the Schrödinger's Cat hypothesis is really true until you try to verify it. 161021Errata are actually eroto for librarians, editors, and research scholars. 161022The kitchen contractors started installing the new cabinets today. When they got the first one out, they made comments about how nice it looked. They said so many people go overboard with finishes and trim and decoration, but we'd chosen well to show off what makes cabinets good. This put me in mind of "Pretty Woman", the scene when Vivian is asked her name. She says, "What do you want it to be?", indicating she's willing to say whatever is needed to keep the customer happy. 161023Before I die, I hope that I will have finally learned to take the dry stuff out of the dish drainer before starting to wash new stuff to go in the dish drainer. 161024I always weigh myself before taking a shower, rather than after, because my conditioner-shampoo says it adds body. When I'm weighing myself, the last thing I need to do is add more body to myself. 161025The countertop guy came to measure the cabinets for the new countertop. We'd been told he'd do the measurements with a computery laser camera instead of a tape measure. This sounded cool and I was really looking forward to this. Sounded cool. The computery laser camera was an inert black box mounted on a big, heavy, stationary tripod, and aimed by hand. It had a tiny little laser that did the range-finding, and a tablet was used to trigger the camera and record the measurements. It was interesting to watch, but the reality ultimately didn't live up to how I imagined it working. I erroneously imagined that the computery laser camera would be like the floating laser-equipped scanner robot used to investigate the shuttle at the beginning of Aliens. 161026I used to think squirrels and chipmunks came to the water dish to drink. This is not so, and I should have realized the truth sooner. The way the squirrels and chipmunks stand, the way they stare into the water, the way they get close enough to listen to the water, they're actually using the water dish as a divination or scrying tool. 161027I just learned about a new Broadway play about Werner Heisenberg. I'd like to see that show, but it seems like it'd be very difficult to do so. Either you'd know where it was playing or you'd know when the show was playing, but you could never know both. 161028I have a floor-related dilemma. We've got that lovely new flooring for the kitchen. The existing flooring is horrid; each layer exposed so far is just terrible. My sense of aesthetics asks -- nay, demands -- that the horrible old flooring be stripped out and completely replaced by the beautiful new flooring. However, my sense of history insists that the new flooring be laid on top of the old, thus preserving and reinforcing links with this house's past. Good thing this particular decision is not one for me to make, or it'd never get made. 161029Trump is so unreflective that it makes me wonder if he's really a vampire. 161030Clinton keeps clawing her way back onto the electoral stage, it makes me wonder if she's really a zombie. 161031There was a survey to determine the most popular Halloween candy. As you might expect, the top candies were Reese's, Snickers, and M&M's. While I don't disagree with the top three results, I do take issue with the methodology. A primary criterion in this survey was sales figures. Sales figures are a bad criterion for judging popularity of Halloween candy. One thing I definitely remember from my childhood Halloweens is that at least half the candy was lousy. That substandard candy was all selected by the purchaser, not the unhappy kids receiving it. Popularity with the purchaser is not at all the same as popularity with the recipient.

November, 2016 161101"It was no picnic." I wonder how picnics got to be the indicator for ease and simplicity. Picnics are hard. You've got to put together food that works as a picnic. No lasagna, no doro wat, no Szechuan chicken. You've got to get all the supplies you might possibly need -- food, drinks, condiments, cups, plates, utensils, serving utensils, napkins, ice, coolers. If you're grilling food, you need a grill, charcoal, matches, lighter fluid, and a fire extinguisher if you're an idiot. The Great Outdoors is trying to kill you, so you need things like bug spray and bear traps to stay safe and comfy. Unless you're willing to sit on the cold, damp ground, you need blankets and things to spread out as your virtual table. You've got to find a place to go where you can have a picnic, and also where The Great Outdoors is at least partially tame. Or at least already sated. There's just so much to do to prepare for a decent picnic that it is anything but easy and simple. That "It was no picnic" phrase must have been developed by snooty, high-class, servant-endowed richtards who had no idea how much work was really involved in holding a picnic. 161102If zombie movies have taught me anything, they've taught me to always lock the car. Always. 161103A big part of my value with this renovation is my impatience. I have a limited attention span for details of light fixtures, or flooring, or paint colors, or any number of things. I cut through the extensive research and trade-offs, and look to trivial, superficial details. My neanderthal grunting and minimal interest about renovation details helps get decisions made.=20 161104The Victory Trout swims the waters of strife, his flashing scales shining rainbows as he routs the Mudpuppies of Adversity. 161105There's a long-running debate on which is better for cleaning wounds, alcohol or peroxide. Alcohol is clearly better because it stings when you pour it on a wound, and peroxide doesn't. The sting is the alcohol pulling the ouchy out of the wound. 161106I once had to work in a cube farm for a month. As you'd expect, it was unpleasant -- the noise; the distractions; the awareness that the room is full of people that are out-of-sight, but definitely not out-of-mind. To retain my sanity, I had to periodically stand up to stretch, to look around, to see beyond my boundary walls. If you look over the cubicle field for very long, you'll see something interesting. People will stand up briefly and sit back down. They'll stand up, look over into the next cubicle long enough to say something, then sit right back down. All these heads, popping up for a moment and then disappearing. It was like a giant Whack-A-Mole game without the giant whacker coming down from on high. 161107When you get a bag of individually wrapped peanut butter cups, you're actually holding a hive of pbcups. Almost all of the pbcups in the bag are drones. They're quite good, and they're just what you expect in a pbcup. You know you've got a drone when you peel off the enfolding brown paper wrapper from the bottom. The drone cups will leave behind a bit of chocolate on the wrapper. As I said, the drones are perfectly fine, and well worth having. However. In each bag, there's a queen pbcup, a cup that leaves nothing behind when you peel off the wrapper. As good as the drones are, the queens are that much better. Most of the time there's only one queen pbcup in a bag, one queen ruling the bag. There are rare instances of bags with two queen cups. If you can determine which is the younger of the two without removing the enfolding wrapper, you will have found a proto-queen cup. If you're very careful, and very lucky, you can take that proto-queen cup from the bag and use it to nurture a new pbcup hive to maturity, at which point you'll be supplied with pbcups until the end of your days. 161108Ever since childhood, I've had the funny idea that if you were running for office you should never vote for yourself; you vote for your opponent. If you just can't bring yourself to do that, you abstain. But you never vote for yourself. There was something dishonorable, or tawdry, about voting for yourself. Even now, my gut instinct is that you shouldn't vote for yourself. This is one reason why I will never hold office. 161109After the election, I've been hearing lots of mention of the Trump Transition Plan. I don't know what they're talking about, but it sounds like he's planning his own funeral. 161110Functions without a squiggly at the end (as in Python are like parenthetical comments without a closing paren or a sentence without a period at the end 161111I'm going to write a script for a horror movie. It'll take place in Rome and the murderer will be killing bishops. The movie will be called The Rome Miter-Saw Massacre. 161112As a kid, I had two exposures to the word foundation. One was the hymn "The Church's One Foundation." The other was Isaac Asimov's Foundation books. What with Hari Seldon, the Mule, psychohistory, and Jesus, it was hard to reconcile the book and the hymn. I just didn't understand what galactic empires and robots had to do with church. 161113We went out to look at the Super-Duper Moon tonight and it was rather cold out there. People often wonder why it always seems to be cold whenever these spiffy, odd astronomical events take place. That's because they're astronomical events, and astronomical events occur in space, and space is exceptionally cold, which means that it'll be cold out when you do astronomy. 161114A recent meme is, "Earth without art is just 'Eh'." Similarly, a Fart without art will only get you an 'F'. 161115There are a number of science-fiction stories that deal with ark ships. These arks are starships that carry animals and plants from Earth, with the intent of perpetuating the diverse life that fills our planet. I think this is a great idea, and we really need to preserve the seeds of life. There's another, equally important, ark that we should put together, and that's a cultural ark. When things start looking grim, we need to fill a ship with the books, paintings, music, sculptures, recordings, and all other forms of art from around the world. Culture is what makes us human and we must do what we can to preserve it. 161116Some people are convinced there was a time in the past that was a Golden Age when things used to be great, and so much better than things are now. These people are living in the past perfect. 161117Guys talk about wanting a man cave, a sanctuary in which they can relax and be undisturbed by responsibility or common sense. A man cave is stereotypically furnished with one or two comfy chairs, a huge-screen TV, a good stereo, a well-stocked bar, and a good door lock. I can kind of see the attraction of a man cave, but that doesn't really interest me. What I want is a batcave. Cool crime-fighting equipment, fantastic vehicles (like cars, jets, motorcycles), cool weapons, super computers, subterranean waterfalls, bats, an enormous library, and extensive, powerful security measures. Yeah, keep your man cave, give me a batcave. 161118Actors sometimes use body doubles when they don't want to appear naked on screen. The actors are given a selection of photos from which they choose the person whose body part will masquerade as the actor's own body part. The photos are provided by a talent agency, and I find it interesting that it's considered a talent to be the bearer of an attractive body part. 161119Time is disappearing, and computers are all to blame. Computers suck up stray chronotons, and time is trickling down their digital maws. This is evidenced by how time so quickly disappears whenever you sit down to do "just one quick little thing" on the computer and you look up after and find that three hours have gone by. When time ultimately freezes, we'll only have computers to thank. 161120Sometimes I can't tell if it's the bread that's good or the butter on the bread that's good.
Food Week 6
161121Portable food is really useful. Sandwiches, hotdogs, burritos, hamburgers. They don't require utensils, they don't even require plates. The fast-food industry relies on portable food. Portable food relies on edible wrappers -- bread slices, buns, tortillas, rolls. The edible wrapper is what makes the food portable. There is a great need for more ethnic fast food. Chinese cuisine has eggrolls and spring rolls, Indian and other cuisines have samosas. Unfortunately, from what I've been able to find, eggrolls and samosas are fairly limited in their contents. Cabbage, spiced potatoes, a bit of pork or shrimp -- they're all quite good, but not much variety. There should be a portable way to carry and eat kung pao chicken, chana masala, or lasagna. If there was a good general-purpose, edible, food wrapper, then Chinese and Indian and Italian (or even Ethiopian or Egyptian or Polynesian) cuisines could take their rightful places in the realm of fast-food restaurants.
Food Week 6
161122I've often heard that it's more healthy to eat slowly than to bolt your food down fast. I think that's why peas are added to food. It takes so long to find all the peas and get them out of the way that you can't help but eat slowly.
Food Week 6
161123In 1908, the Hydrox Cookie was released to a grateful world. In 1912, the Hydrox idea "inspired" Nabisco, and they introduced the Oreo. Several months later, the Titanic sank when it hit an iceberg. Any discerning thinker can see that this was not a coincidence.
Food Week 6
161124I've heard about this bizarre concept of splitting desserts. How can you do something like that? It's just wrong. Each dessert is a unit, and should be eaten that way. You've got a cake -- that's one dessert. You've got a pan of brownies -- that's one dessert. A tray of cookies? That's half a dessert. A gallon of ice cream? Two-thirds a dessert. Dessert is a unit, and should be kept, should be eaten that way.
Food Week 6
161124My favorite part of this year's Thanksgiving happened the night before. We were sitting around with Mike and his family talking. The SNL Thanksgiving special was running in the background. The Pumpkin Spice Douche sketch came on and everyone was quietly chuckling to themselves, not sure if they should admit that it was funny, and surreptitiously looking around to see if anyone else was laughing.
Thanksgiving Special
161125When I was young, I thought candy canes were made by candy stripers.
Food Week 6
161126Chocolate, cheese, bacon, garlic, and onions are the five elemental foods. At least one of these can be added to any other food and the effect will be positive.
Food Week 6
161127It started with thin-sliced ham. Thin-sliced ham was good, thin-sliced ham was simple, thin-sliced ham made me happy. After a while, thin-sliced ham wasn't quite enough. I moved on to bologna. Ooh, now bologna was fine. Bologna was smooth, bologna opened up new horizons, bologna was excellent. After a good long while of appreciating the intricacies and delicacies of bologna, it too started to leave me a bit... wanting. Bologna was my gateway lunchmeat. I branched out from bologna to pepperoni, to cotto salami, to honey-roasted turkey. I started mixing my lunchmeats. I got into designer lunchmeats. I got into boutique lunchmeats. Those lasted a while, they were really something. Now, I have gone too far, I'm done for. I have hit rock bottom and I see no way out. I get nothing from the mild lunchmeats, from the tame lunchmeats. I have gone hard-core, and only the hard stuff will do it for me anymore. I have started using hard salami, and there's no going back.
Food Week 6
161128The Periodic Table of the Elements shows that science beats mythology. This is shown by a quick examination of the Periodic Table. There are more elements named after scientists than after mythological figures. Similarly, the scientist elements overall have higher atomic numbers than do the mythy elements. These two statistics show that science is clearly, irrefutably superior to myth. 161129Whitetail deer really have it rough. Not only are All The Predators after them, but they have a built-in butt bulls-eye that makes things piles easier for hunters. 161130There are news stories about drones almost causing plane crashes, spying on people, and interfering with first responders. This has led to authorities talking about banning drones, or at least of forcing people to register them. I'm glad that more and more people are using bagpipes, but I wish they would use them responsibly so there wouldn't be the need to regulate them. Except for Uilleann pipes, of course, which are always best when regulated.

December, 2016 161201Ralph Waldo Emerson is popularly credited with having said, "Do not follow where the path may lead. Go instead where there is no path and leave a trail." This wonderful, inspirational quote actually runs contrary to all the advice I hear about hiking and spending time in the wilderness that is overwhelmingly given these days -- "Leave no trace." 161202Managing a project is like being a parent. Managers and parents come up with a good schedule, and a well-defined set of tasks, and a reasonable set of goals. All those good plans immediately evaporate as soon as you give them to your team or your children. 161203I'm having more "Oh, crap" moments these days, usually as I make a decision and suddenly start second-guessing myself. I wonder if it's because I'm older and I'm making more important decisions now, or if computers allow decisions to be made at a much faster pace with less time for thinking. 161204I never understood why Oscar was always so grouchy. He's a giant pile of weed -- how can he be so pissed off all the time? 161205DEADBEEF is a magic number used for certain things by programmers. It is a number in the hexadecimal number base because each of the letters is a hex "digit", with A=10, B=11, etc. A number of computer languages prefix hex numbers wih "0x" to show that they actually are hex numbers instead of decimal numbers. After many years of familiarity with hexadecimal and DEADBEEF, I just realized the appropriateness of the whole construct of 0xDEADBEEF. 161208Whenever you sweep, you get as much in the dustpan as you can but there's always a thin line of dust left behind, a line of dust you just can't sweep up. With no other recourse, you sweep it to the wind, hoping it disappears and especially hoping no one sees you do it. Distillers refer to the portion of whisky that evaporates during the aging process as the angels' share or the angels' portion. That thin line of maddeningly unsweepupable dust, in professional circles, is known as the devil's portion or the devil's dust. 161209In the McDaniel concert band concert tonight, we played Leroy Anderson's "Sleigh Ride". In rehearsals, the band had the tendency to play too fast, too loud, too strong. I suggested to the director that we get some costumed Vikings out to dance around while we play it aggressively (à la Spinal Tap's "Stonehenge") and rename the tune "Slay Ride". This didn't go over well, but from that point on, whenever we started to play it, the thing I had running through my mind was "LEEROY ANDERSOOOOOOON!!!!!" 161210Great Product Idea #17: Mutes for brass instruments that have a built~in flask. 161211I grew up with the Three Billy Goats Gruff story. I always liked that story, with the goats trip-trapping across the bridge, and with the evil troll being vanquished at the end. After a decades-long absence of the Three Billy Goats Gruff from my life, I heard the story again recently. I was struck by how vicious and nasty the two younger Gruffs are. The two younger Gruffs were each very willing to sacrifice their older siblings to the evil troll in order to preserve their own safety. I still like the story, but that unrecognized ruthlessness adds an interesting dimension. 161212I have long hated the popular "It is what it is" statement, but I've only had nebulous reasons why I felt that way. It sounds vaguely profound and deep, but it's obvious and not terribly clever. I finally understand the subconscious reasons why I dislike that saying so much. I feel it demonstrates a lack of imagination and ambition. It's saying things can't change, and that you might as well give up and not look for anything to improve or to get better. I'd be much happier if everyone would say, "Here is what it might be", and then work to bring about the change. 161213For some people, a chainsaw is a coping saw. 161214Friends with cats tell me that their cats like to walk and lay on their keyboards, wreaking untold havoc with their computers. This is usually accompanied with a rueful "Fifi is adorable, but why does he have to mess with my keyboard?" The reason for this is related to how every cat is convinced that it is the center of the universe. The cat sees you focussing on something other than its own incredible self, and realizes that Universal Focus has shifted in an unfeline direction. The cat must restore balance to the universe, so it moves to inhabit the area that has unrighteously claimed your attention. Once the cat is sitting on your keyboard, with your grumbling and whinging as sweet background music, the universe is again restored to perfect balance. 161215It's terrifying to realize that people are turning to you because they need someone responsible and knowledgable, and they think you're actually an adult. 161216We taunt coffee tables by putting coffee mugs on top of them, without ever actually giving them any coffee. Coffee tables deeply resent us, and it only gets worse when we skip coffee in favor of cocoa. 161217A regular, old mattress and a regular, old pillow, that's what I want. They're placid and don't cause any trouble. I don't know if they remember your dreams, or your thoughts, or what you do, but the thought of having a memory-foam mattress or a memory-foam pillow just fills me with a sense of anxiety and dread. 161218Not everything is impeccable, unless you're a chicken. If you're a chicken, everything is peckable. 161219I used to want to be creamated, but I've changed my mind. Now, I want to be skimmilkated. 161220"Hog Futures" seems a rather insulting, contradictory term, at least for the hog. The hog is totally committed to the endeavor, but in a way which causes it to have no future whatsoever. 161221After watching all these episodes of Doctor Who, if I ever meet a real Time Lord with a real TARDIS, I'm going to be a big disappointment. "Pbbbt. Bigger on the inside than the outside, big deal. That's nothing new." 161222When it comes to building materials, you really don't want to confuse fixtures and light fixtures. 161223Great Product Ideas #5: A "What Just Happened?" Widget that shows you what your phone just did, for use when you inadvertently press some buttons on your phone and don't know what you pressed. 161224So, Bethlehem. All the inns are full. No more room anywhere. Mary gives birth to Jesus in a stable. Shepherds come to visit, then must return to the fields since the inns are full. Three rich kings from the East come to visit. I'll bet those kings had no trouble at all finding rooms at those "full" inns. Social justice for the poor and disenfranchised was a background theme, even at His birth.
Christmas Week
161225There is a deep, but subtle, connection between Christmas and breakfast. This can be seen by how easily you can replace the word Christmas with the word breakfast in so many Christmas carols and songs. Not just Christmas, but other Christmas words can also be replaced in this manner. Here are a few examples:
"O Breakfast Bar, O Breakfast Bar"
"O Come and Eat Breakfast"
"I'm Dreaming of a Fried Breakfast"
"Away Eating Breakfast"
"Breakfast With Us Emmanuel"
"Hark! The Breakfast Angels Sing"
"We Three Kings of Breakfast Are"
"We Wish You a Merry Breakfast"
"I Want a Hippopotamus for Breakfast"
Christmas Week
161226When I was young, my extended family always got together the day after Christmas. It was an all-day affair, we'd gather a little before noon and things would wrap up, one way or another, around midnight. Aunts, uncles, grandparents, cousins, grandchildren. There were so many people that we always had to gather at Aunt Gina's house, with all the rooms, the big front and back yards, the huge kitchen. (And especially, my father always said, six bathrooms.) The first several hours were usually peaceful, at least until people started pulling out the bottles and the pot. There was always football in the front yard, and races and wrestling in the back yard. The football was invariably a good time, but the drunken wrestling always degenerated to fighting. That's how we always had a real Boxing Day.
Christmas Week
161227Every December, Santa and Krampus travel round, visiting the young children. Santa gives gifts and sweets to the deserving children, Krampus punishes bad children with coal and birch-branch switches. Come January, after Christmas is over, after Epiphany has passed, after Santa and Krampus finish in the upperworld, the pair descend to the lowerworld. Once back in the lowerworld, Krampus and Santa journey through the stone tunnels to visit the young goblins. Krampus brings coal and birch-branch switches to the deserving goblins, Santa punishes bad goblins with gifts and sweets.
Christmas Week
161228"Elf Onna Shelf" is the cute, sinisterly innocuous way of saying, "A Child's Introduction to the Modern Surveillance State".
Christmas Week
161229Christmas stockings originated in a time when the best that most kids could hope Santa would leave was a turnip or a sketchy piece of fruit. A stinky old stocking, heated by the fireplace, went far towards masking the dubious taste of a skanky piece of fruit or veg.
Christmas Week
161230Q: Who says, "HO Hoo hoooooooooo...."?
A: Doppler Shift Santa
Christmas Week
161231"Fahoo fores, dahoo dores
Welcome Christmas come this way
Fahoo fores, dahoo dores
Welcome Christmas, Christmas day"
The Whos of Whooville and the "Welcome Christmas" song they sing in "How the Grinch Stole Christmas" demonstrate a fundamental understanding of Christmas. Despite the nonsense lyrics, that song should be sung in churches now.
Christmas Week



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 2016 by Wayne Morrison. All Rights Reserved.
tewok@storm-monkeys.com