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Category Archives: Writing

My response to “Cheese haiku” . . .

A fellow female blogger sent me a (an?) haiku and I considered it a challenge for me to respond with a (an?) haiku of my own. The challenger is one of my three daughters, the one that lives, laughs, loves and labors in the hinterlands of Northern Virginia along with her husband and three—count ’em—cats. Click here for her blog—it’s well worth a visit. Her many passions and photography skills present an astounding variety
of landscapes plus parties, places and people from all
over the US and several foreign countries.

Cheese Haiku (hers)
Aged cheddar cheese Mike?
hmmm it smells like stinky feet
want another piece?

Okay, let’s take a look at that—three lines
obviously, with five syllables in the first and third
lines and seven in the second line. Nope, this won’t be
much of a problem for a stepper such as I (am).

Cheese haiku (mine)
First piece not et yet,
Second piece I will not get.
Stinky feet? You bet!

Please note that my haiku meets the requirements of three lines with five, seven and five syllables respectively—and it rhymes—your haiku didn’t even come close to rhyming—nanny, nanny, boo boo! And before you chastise me because I did not meet the requirement of a season, look again. Spring, summer, fall or winter, right? Right! Any reader will immediately connect stinky feet with summer, like, you know, really hot, and stinky sweaty socks on stinky feet shod in stinky sour sneakers will definitely qualify as stinky (note the alliterative phrases—I do love alliteration).

That’s my story and I’m sticking to it.

 
2 Comments

Posted by on October 29, 2012 in cats, Humor, pets, Uncategorized, Writing

 

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Classroom socialism . . .

The image and the tale of a classroom experiment below were in an e-mail sent by the youngest of my three daughters, the one that lives, loves and happily flourishes in the northern climes of Texas while looking after the activities of one husband, two young children and a dog named Wrigley. She also doubles as the president of a local grammar school PTA, and is occasionally a part-time (unpaid) consultant for friends who are commercial property managers, some actually and some potentially.

 

 


 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Classroom Socialism . . .

When the reward is great, the effort to succeed is great, but when government takes all the reward away, no one will try or want to succeed. Is this man truly a genius? Checked out and this is true… it DID happen! An economics professor at a local college made a statement that he had never failed a single student before, but had recently failed an entire class. That class had insisted that Obama’s socialism worked and that no one would be poor and no one would be rich, a great equalizer.

The professor then said, “OK, we will have an experiment in this class on Obama’s plan.” All grades will be averaged and everyone will receive the same grade so no one will fail and no one will receive an A.” (substituting grades for dollars – something closer to home and more readily understood by all).

After the first test, the grades were averaged and everyone got a B. The students who studied hard were upset and the students who studied little were happy. As the second test rolled around, the students who studied little had studied even less and the ones who studied hard decided they
wanted a free ride too so they studied little.

The second test average was a D! No one was happy.

When the 3rd test rolled around, the average was an F.

As the tests proceeded, the scores never increased as bickering, blame and name-calling all resulted in hard feelings and no one would study for the benefit of anyone else.

To their great surprise, ALL FAILED and the professor told them that socialism would also ultimately fail because when the reward is great, the effort to succeed is great, but when government takes all the reward away, no one will try or want to succeed. It could not be any simpler than that.

Remember, there there is a real test coming up—the 2012 elections. The five points that follow are the most important you’ll ever read and all are applicable to this experiment.

You cannot legislate the poor into prosperity by legislating the wealthy out of prosperity.

What one person receives without working for, another person must work for without receiving.

Government cannot give to anybody anything that the government does not first take from others.

You cannot multiply wealth by dividing it.

When half of the people get the idea that they do not have to work because the other half is going to take care of them, and when the other half gets the idea that it does no good to work because somebody else is going to get what they work for, that is the beginning of the end of any nation.

Can you think of a reason for not sharing this? Neither could I.

To the reader:

The diatribe below is my reply to the e-mail. If you were offended and took umbrage because of my sharing the experiment with you, whether real or false, you may want to ignore this part to avoid becoming irritated, agitated, aggravated and infused with the urge to respond with your opposing views. However, I welcome and will respond to all comments, negative and positive.

Love it, simply love it. I will never understand why people—Democrats, liberals, communists, socialists, anarchists and other misguided a-holes insist on pursuing socialism. It has never worked for any appreciable length of time and it never will. I checked this with snopes.com and learned that the e-mail has been around for more than fifteen years and perhaps longer, with various titles and referencing various schools. I seriously doubt that the experiment ever happened, whether before or after Obama ascended to his throne. Not that any of that matters, of course. I consider the experiment, whether real of false, to be a great and shining example of socialism and communism.

As you might expect, I have a story about this. Away back in the past century—in November of 1972—US Customs sent me to the United States Customs National Service Academy at Hoffstra University on New York’s Long Island. As an overall-clad country boy wearing clodhopper brogans and no socks, I was so thrilled that I could hardly maintain control of a certain feature of my anatomical waste elimination apparatus. My hope was that I would excel in my class and perhaps get an attaboy from the US Customs Service.

On my first day in class I knew that would never happen. Our instructor, a far past retirement age Customs officer faced the class and the first thing he told us was that we would be tested and graded on the various sections of the training, but we would not be required to make a passing grade, that our employment with Customs would not be affected, that in lieu of grades or diplomas we would be issued a Certificate of Attendance regardless of our final grade, whether superior or inferior.

The six-week course became a six-week vacation in New York for this ol’ country boy. I made only cursory glances at the various booklets and test papers and Customs publications, vowing to earn no grade above a C, and I was successful. Had I been even casually interested in making higher grades I believe that I would have been at the top of my class, which in itself would have been nothing to crow about. I can remember only one instance in which I stupidly raised my hand to tell the instructor that a two-step arithmetic problem that Customs officers would face on duty could be accomplished in one step, thus saving time and reducing errors in the calculation.

His answer? He took umbrage—well, he actually got really pissed-off and glowering mightily he said, “Do you want to teach this class?” I replied in the negative and I never raised my hand again, and I was never asked for an answer to any of his questions. That was probably a good thing, because had I been asked my answer would have been “Damned if I know,” even if I did know the answer.

I bore you with this diatribe only to point out that without competition, any system of government will fail miserably. Thanks for sending the e-mail. I thoroughly enjoyed it.

That’s my story and I’m sticking to it.

 
3 Comments

Posted by on January 10, 2012 in math, Obama administration, politics, Writing

 

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An irrestible urge . . .

I found an image online that infused me with an irresistible urge to tell an off-color joke as a posting, one that would definitely be condemned by my mother’s family. All have crossed the River Styx, the stream that separates the living from those who have made the crossing, the latter of which includes my parents’ entire family, except for me, of course. Those who have gone before were my mother, father, one brother, five sisters, and a stepfather that I feel obligated to mention. Of the total of  ten people in the family I am the only one still standing, and I’m hanging on for dear life.

Yes, life is dear to me in spite of the loss of family members, the political upheavals across the earth, the present declination of our country and its position and importance among the world’s nations, and in spite of the price of gasoline, movie tickets, popcorn and garlic bologna. In the words of an old song, “Please, Mister Custer, I don’t wanna go!”

In telling this joke I would be chastised by all except my brother and my youngest sister. Both enjoyed jokes, especially my brother, but my sister took an interminable amount of time in the telling. I believe she did that in order to dominate any conversation—to stay on stage, so to speak.

The image below is that of our current president speaking to an audience, accompanied by a woman signing his words for the benefit of those in his audience that are hard-of-hearing. Please trust me when I say that the image includes the off-color punch-line of the joke—it’s hidden, but it’s there. On the off-chance that the punch-line escapes you, I’ll will happily forward it to you in a brown-paper-wrapped e-mail.

The honeymoon was over and the newly-weds, a well-seasoned world-traveler and a sweet young thing unwise in the ways of the world, were beginning their new lives together. They were at breakfast and just before the husband left for work he asked his wife to practice a certain action that she steadfastly refused to perform throughout the honeymoon, explaining that she had never done that and knew not how to do it or even begin to do it. He suggested that she practice the act with the ketchup bottle during the day. She loved her husband and wanted to please him and she promised to comply. She practiced the action throughout the day, performed it obediently that night and promised to willingly and happily comply with future requests, and the couple lived happily ever after.

Postscript: On November 18, 2010 a unique lady, lovely in every mental and physical respect, beautifully loved and loving, crossed over the River Styx.  We would have celebrated 58 years of marriage just 25 days later on 13 December, and her eightieth birthday on 26 December. She was and still is my wife Janie, a Georgia peach that I married in 1952. For awhile after her death, life was not dear to me, but I feel that I have overcome most of the sadness that the death of a loved one can create—not all, but enough to feel that life is still good and that happiness has many facets—one needs but search for it in different ways and in different places.

That’s my story and I’m sticking to it.

 
2 Comments

Posted by on January 5, 2012 in death, disease, Family, Humor, Writing

 

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In defense of Aggies . . .

Let’s hear it for the Aggies!

Let’s hear it for those stalwarts that are presently in attendance at Texas A&M University, for those that have been graduated by that school and for those that were prematurely tossed out for various but completely understandable reasons—faults such as a predilection for unnatural communion with small animals, for example, or for failure to attend at least seven percent of required classes over a period of six years, failure to achieve a solid D average over the same period, and failure to qualify for an undergraduate bachelor degree in fewer than eight years.

I have a certain amount of sympathy for the Aggies. I don’t believe they deserve the fusillade of stones and arrows that rain down on them from all points of the globe and from persons in all walks of life—well, perhaps some deserve such treatment, maybe—okay, perhaps most deserve such treatment, but certainly not all—there must be at least a few good apples in the Aggie barrel.

Aggies are the abject targets of social discrimination. Apparently they don’t teach sociology at Texas A & M, because any group that wishes to protect itself from discrimination has only to declare itself as a minority and document the discrimination—properly documented, the Aggies would be a shoo-in for designation as a minority and thereby entitled to all the privileges and benefits thereof.

Their request for minority status and freedom from discrimination should include the jillions of jokes—love that alliteration—that target the Aggies, jokes that in large measure have been converted from jokes aimed at other so-called minorities. The Aggies need only to believe that they are the victims of discrimination, declare themselves a minority, express that belief and then document the discrimination.

How easy is that!

And on the same subject and using that same sociological definition of what constitutes a minority and discrimination, I suggest that white folks—I favor that term over hill billies, whities, white trash, honkies, gringos, rednecks and trailer trash—identify themselves as a sociological minority and claim discrimination. It really doesn’t matter whether they are or are not the victims of discrimination, nor does it matter that they constitute a majority of the US population. Discrimination does not depend on population—read on.

The 2009 population figures show a total US population of 307 million, and whites alone constitute 65% of that total even after excluding the 30 million White Hispanics and Latino Americans in the population. Whites only are obviously not a minority in numbers, but the sociological definition requires only that a group believes itself to be discriminated against, expresses that belief, and documents the discrimination and that definition is satisfied—it does not depend on the number of people in the minority group.

Come on, all you Aggies! Get your stuff together and force us to pick on some other group—unwed fathers, for example, or maybe cross-dressing homeless Lower Slobovian refugees. The current hordes of wannabes clamoring for attention as potential candidates for the presidency of the United States of America under the GOP banner would be an ideal target to replace the proud present and past people—there’s that alliteration again—-with ties to Texas’ Agricultural and Mechanical University, the state’s first public institution of higher education, established by the Texas state legislature ‘way back in April of 1871.

What follows next is a joke that includes some suggestions for replacements that qualify as targets for jokes in order to reduce the pressure on Aggies. For example, you might ask someone, Didja hear about the two community organizers that, blah, blah, blah?

Now for the joke:

Have you heard the one about the two (at this point insert political independents, republicans, democrats, communists, activists, community organizers, socialists, old maids or other persons) discussing the weather?

First person: It’s going to rain.

Second person: How do you know?

First person: My instincts.

Second person: My end stinks too, but it doesn’t predict the weather, rain or otherwise.

Click here for the original posting, dated 26 Feb 2011, that featured the instinct joke. In that one I used two little morons for the joke. There is some highly cogent political posturing included in that posting, so I’ll apologize in advance for that.

That’s my story and I’m sticking to it.

 

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Revisit: Words to live by—Lean on me . . .

The purpose of this posting is to share, with anyone and everyone who happens to pass this way, the beautiful thoughts expressed by Samuel Ullman in his poem Youth, excerpts of which appeared recently on Refdesk as the THOUGHT OF THE DAY. The posting is also a recommendation for Refdesk as a home page. Refdesk has an astonishing range—it has never failed me in my searches, regardless of their purpose. Donations to Refdesk are welcomed, but otherwise the service is free!

THOUGHT OF THE DAY:

“Youth is not a time of life—it is a state of mind. It is not a matter of red cheeks, red lips and supple knees. It is a temper of the will; a quality of the imagination; a vigor of the emotions; it is a freshness of the deep springs of life. Youth means a temperamental predominance of courage over timidity, of the appetite for adventure over a life of ease. This often exists in a man of fifty, more than in a boy of twenty. Nobody grows old by merely living a number of years; people grow old by deserting their ideals.” – Samuel Ullman

Here is the poem in its entirety:

Youth, by Samuel Ullman:

Youth is not a time of life; it is a state of mind; it is not a matter of rosy cheeks, red lips and supple knees; it is a matter of the will, a quality of the imagination, a vigor of the emotions; it is the freshness of the deep springs of life.

Youth means a temperamental predominance of courage over timidity of the appetite, for adventure over the love of ease. This often exists in a man of sixty more than a boy of twenty. Nobody grows old merely by a number of years. We grow old by deserting our ideals.

Years may wrinkle the skin, but to give up enthusiasm wrinkles the soul. Worry, fear, self-distrust bows the heart and turns the spirit back to dust.

Whether sixty or sixteen, there is in every human being’s heart the lure of wonder, the unfailing child-like appetite of what’s next, and the joy of the game of living. In the center of your heart and my heart there is a wireless station; so long as it receives messages of beauty, hope, cheer, courage and power from men and from the Infinite, so long are you young.

When the aerials are down, and your spirit is covered with snows of cynicism and the ice of pessimism, then you are grown old, even at twenty, but as long as your aerials are up, to catch the waves of optimism, there is hope you may die young at eighty.

A brief biography of Ullman (from Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia):

Samuel Ullman (April 13, 1840 – March 21, 1924) was an American businessman, poet, humanitarian. He is best known today for his poem Youth which was a favorite of General Douglas MacArthur. The poem was on the wall of his office in Tokyo when he became Supreme Allied Commander in Japan. In addition, he often quoted from the poem in his speeches, leading to it becoming better known in Japan than in the United States.

Born in 1840 at Hechingen, Germany to Jewish parents, Ullman immigrated with his family to America to escape discrimination at the age of eleven. The Ullman family settled in Port Gibson, Mississippi. After briefly serving in the Confederate Army, he became a resident of Natchez, Mississippi. There, Ullman married, started a business, served as a city alderman, and was a member of the local board of education.

In 1884, Ullman moved to the young city of Birmingham, Alabama, and was immediately placed on the city’s first board of education.

During his eighteen years of service, he advocated educational benefits for black children similar to those provided for whites. In addition to his numerous community activities, Ullman also served as president and then lay rabbi of the city’s reform congregation at Temple Emanu-El. Often controversial but always respected, Ullman left his mark on the religious, educational, and community life of Natchez and Birmingham.

In his retirement, Ullman found more time for one of his favorite passions – writing letters, essays and poetry. His poems and poetic essays cover subjects as varied as love, nature, religion, family, the hurried lifestyle of a friend, and living “young.” It was General Douglas MacArthur who facilitated Ullman’s popularity as a poet – he hung a framed copy of a version of Ullman’s poem “Youth” on the wall of his office in Tokyo and often quoted from the poem in his speeches. Through MacArthur’s influence, the people of Japan discovered “Youth” and became curious about the poem’s author.

In 1924, Ullman died in Birmingham, Alabama.

In 1994, the University of Alabama at Birmingham and the Japan-America Society of Alabama opened the Samuel Ullman Museum in Birmingham’s Southside neighborhood. The museum is located in the former Ullman residence and is operated by the University of Alabama at Birmingham.

In my not very humble opinion, this is one of the most beautiful songs ever written (title and chorus are in bold italics):

Lean on Me
Sometimes in our lives
we all have pain
We all have sorrow
But if we are wise
We know that there’s always tomorrow

Lean on me, when you’re not strong
And I’ll be your friend
I’ll help you carry on
For it won’t be long
‘Til I’m gonna need
Somebody to lean on

Please swallow your pride
If I have things you need to borrow
For no one can fill those of your needs
That you don’t let show

Lean on me, when you’re not strong
And I’ll be your friend
I’ll help you carry on
For it won’t be long
‘Til I’m gonna need
Somebody to lean on

If there is a load you have to bear
That you can’t carry
I’m right up the road
I’ll share your load
If you just call me

Lean on me, when you’re not strong
And I’ll be your friend
I’ll help you carry on
For it won’t be long
‘Til I’m gonna need
Somebody to lean on

So just call on me brother,
when you need a hand
We all need somebody to lean on
I just might have a problem that
you’d understand
We all need somebody to lean on.

Lean on me . . .

All lyrics are property and copyright Bill Withers.

That’s my story and I”m sticking to it.

 

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Revisited: Long necks, fast food, good health & long life . . .

Once again on reviewing past postings I was so impressed with my writing that I am reposting a narrative from February of this year. The posting was apparently unread, or perhaps read and misunderstood by the readers. That posting was an effort on my part to assist Michelle Obama, our First Lady, in her drive to improve health in the United States, particularly in our school children. Oh, that’s the United States of America, a designation that is always voiced by Michelle’s husband in order for us to distinguish our nation from the United States of the Mid-east, of South America, of Central America, of Canadian America and of Lower Slobovia. I submit that the addition of America is not necessary, and its addition could perhaps cause confusion in his listeners, especially since a factual United States of America would include Canada, Central America, South America, and of course the United States of Mexico since it is geographically located in the chain of Americas. I grant you that the distinction is growing dim because of the continuing invasion of Mexican citizens sloughing off the chains of their native country.

Long necks, fast food, good health & long life . . .

A blogger in Virginia is posting photographs of people that lived a century or more in the past. Click here to see how folks looked and lived in those years. You’ll find your visit interesting and highly educational. As an added attraction, you will be exposed to some brilliant photography of the present, particularly of our planet’s flora and fauna.

However, there is something missing in the blogger’s photos of folks that lived far back in time, something to which neither the blogger nor any of her viewers have called attention, so that task obviously falls to me. I pondered long and strong on the subject, and this posting is the result of my research. See how many fat-necks you can find in these photos—possibly one, the man in the photo at top left—but certainly no more than one.


There is an obvious dearth of girth in the subjects being photographed—please forgive me for the pun, but I would appreciate a salute for my creation of the term dearth of girth, pun though it may be—I probably should have it copyrighted in the interests of gaining remuneration for my efforts. The photos above are a sample of photos showing the lack of girth in the photographer’s subjects.

These photos of people from the past show more long-necks than Texas’ Lone Star Brewery—other than the possible exception noted, there is not a fat-neck in the batch. Having noted that, I embarked on a seriously studious search for a cause-and-effect for the lack of fat-necks and the overall dearth of girth, and I documented that which most people already know in their hearts and minds, but their stomachs won’t let them admit it.

The cause is the plethora of ubiquitous fast-food outlets, and the effect is pure fat. We go into the front door of those so-called restaurants skinny, and come out the side door fat. We are labeled by others with terms ranging from ample or pleasantly plump to heavy, large, overweight, huge, obese, blimp, lard-butt, lard-ass, fat-ass, morbidly obese and myriad other terms, but they can all be summed up with a single three-letter word:

FAT!

Take a quick look at a list of fast-food restaurants provided by Wikipedia. Please note that these are international chains, and the list does not include local non-international fast-food outlets, nor does it include fast-casual restaurants, coffeehouses, ice cream parlors or pizzerias.

A&W Restaurants, Arby’s, Arctic Circle Restaurants, Au Bon Pain, Blimpie, Bojangles’ Famous Chicken ‘n Biscuits, Burger King, Hungry Jack’s (Australia), Camille’s Sidewalk Café, Captain D’s, Carl’s Jr., Charley’s Grilled Subs, Checkers, Chester’s International, Chicken Cottage, Chicken Delight, Chicken Licken, Chick-fil-A, Chipotle Mexican Grill, Church’s Chicken, Chowking, Culver’s, Dairy Queen, Del Taco, Dixy Chicken, Duchess, Dunkin’ Donuts, Hardee’s, Hesburger, Jamba Juice, Jollibee, KFC, Krispy Kreme, Little Caesars, Vegetarian Moe’s, Southwest Grill, Mr. Hero, New York Fries, Noble Roman’s, Panda Express, Panera Bread, Pollo Tropical, Popeyes Chicken & Biscuits, Pret A Manger, Quick, Quickly, Quiznos, RaisingCane’s Chicken, Fingers, Rally’s, Red Rooster, Sonic Drive-In, Subway, Taco Bell, Taco Bueno, Taco Cabana, Taco del Mar, Taco Tico, Taco Time, Tim Hortons, Vapiano, White Spot, Wendy’s, Wendy’s Supa Sundaes, Whataburger.

Hey, let’s be honest. Let’s be honest and admit that everyone of us in the United States—whether citizens, legal aliens, illegal aliens, vacationing foreigners or visitors from other planets—are up to our collective fat asses in fast-food outlets.

Such outlets should be outlawed. It can be done, and we have almost two years to persuade people to prepare the necessary documents for such action. Congress should write a 2,800-page law and push it through the House of Representatives—for that it may be necessary to reinstate Nancy Pelosi as House Speaker—then on through the Senate and over to the White House for President Michelle Obama’s signature. That lady is a shoo-in for the 2012 elections and she will sign it—trust me!

Let’s do it! Let’s eliminate fast-food outlets! We can do it! We can slim our population down to match the subjects in this blogger’s photos. We’ll all be slim, hale and hearty and live to the century mark and more.

That’s my story and I’m sticking to it.

 

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Ode to Janie & Ode to everyone else . . .

You, the reader, are about to be subjected to reading two odes, the results of my abject attempt at writing poetry. I apologize in advance to those that dislike doggerel masquerading as legitimate verse. And for the multitude that may not be familiar with the term doggerel, I tender the following doggerel attributes described by Wikipedia:

Doggerel might have any or all of the following failings: trite, cliché, or overly sentimental content, forced or imprecise rhymes, faulty meter, ordering of words to force correct meter, trivial subject, or inept handling of subject.

My poetry—and I use the term loosely—probably includes all those attributes, and poet laureates throughout history would probably wince if subjected to a reading of my efforts. However, if their wince meter measured humility, earnestness, love and forgivingness the indicator would go off scale in my favor.

Well, okay, I’ll back off a bit on the humility part. Hey, I’m a wannabe poet and let’s face it—even poet laureates had to start somewhere.

Ode to Janie

Your life has run its course
And now you have gone
To heaven as your just reward
And left me here alone.

I sail the seas without a mate
In weather foul and fair
But I fear the ship will founder
With my mate not being there.

And if the ship goes under
In life’s unruly sea
I’ll closely hold your loving words
That were I’ll wait for thee.

Ode to Janie and to everyone else

No one lives forever
At least not in this realm
And at best we’ll have a long life
With our Maker at the helm.

And when our life is over
And a new life has begun
Be it in that world of gladness
That waits for everyone.

But only if our time on earth
Is spent on doing good
Will we go to spend eternity
In that heavenly neighborhood.

That’s my Ode to Janie and my Ode to everyone else, and I’m sticking to both.

Postscript: When you, the reader, have recovered from exposure to this posting, click here to read my Ode to a Cheesecake, an excellent example of contemporary verse—oh, and it’s also an excellent example of doggerel. Hey, I do the best I can with what I have to work with.

Yes, I know, I ended that last sentence with a preposition—to paraphrase the words of Sir Winston Churchill, that is something with which you will have to up with put.

 

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