Category Archives: humor

punctuation and all that

My friend Anthony , a teacher/writer friend of mine from way back  , pointed out to me yesterday that my posts show certain patterns of punctuation that might not pass muster were an English teacher to happen by . Anthony mentioned this not as a criticism , I think , but simply as an observation . Maybe I do it on purpose , after all , to attract attention , an eccentric quirky literary device , perhaps .

I immediately spilled the beans , however , and admitted the accidental nature of the phenomenon , my , in the end , hopelessly lackadaisical attitude toward such precision in writing . Anthony assured me that that was okay . I’m pretty sure , nevertheless , that he was biting his teacher/writer tongue and wishing that my instructors in school had done a better job with their task of influencing and guiding young minds .

I had a girlfriend in college , an English major , who focused on the minutia of grammar . She was forever writing  “papers” for her English classes . When she let me read some of  them once in awhile , I’d  try to follow her ideas , attempts that lumbered clumsily along paragraph by hopeless paragraph ,  while she focused during our discussion of her efforts almost exclusively on the punctuation points . ” How many spaces do I leave after a question mark ? ”  (Don’t ask me ! )art deco poster.jpg

Well , Anthony and I both agreed , I think , that I was potentially giving work to editors . That’s something . I’m not a card-carrying member of the editor union , after all  . I shouldn’t really be usurping their work , anyhow , now that I’m thinking of it .  I’m not a card-carrying member of any writers’ union , either ; but , that’s beside the point , so let’s move along  .

We were eating at a Thai restaurant during this conversation , Anthony and I .  Ada was there , too , suggesting that all of us  consider ordering Cuban food , or maybe have a Thai entree with some Cuban appetizers . The specials for the day at this Thai food place, oddly enough ,  were all Cuban . I guess that makes as much sense as anything else . Why not ? I guess there was a Cuban in the kitchen that day . The Cuban offerings were tempting , but none of us ordered any of them . We stuck with Thai .

I take seriously what my friend Anthony says , so I briefly considered being more careful with my punctuation . He’s too much of an experienced teacher to have directly told me to do that . He , instead , merely floated the notion with a pretending-to-be unconcerned smile on his face and a quick fixed gaze .   No overt suggestion that I do anything about my continual dereliction of punctuation duty and corruption of the language ; just a subtle unspoken hint and nudge to clean up my act . Unless I want to be some kind of lingo rebel , flaunting rules to show how surprisingly unique I am , like some obnoxious teenager . No , we’re all too old for that , Anthony’s dark eyes said . Grow up , Dan , grow up !anatomist.jpg

Maybe I’m reading  writing too much into this whole thing . I think it was the Cuban food at the Thai restaurant that threw me off . Maybe the Cuban angle is a brilliant  innovation that keeps customers off guard and piques interest in the place . It didn’t make sense to me to offer Cuban food as the specialty of the day at a Thai place . But , as for me , I can’t even space my periods correctly , so who am I to judge !

I’d like to say that I do my particular punctuation intentionally to pique readers’ interest . I’ll tell Anthony that —– compare it to the Cuban food thing .  I doubt that he’ll go for that explanation , though .

 

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soft soap

I’m as cheap as the next guy . Well , to be honest , usually   I’m  cheaper . Ada thinks it’s peculiar , for example , when I cut the little lip balm tube open with scissors in order to be able to squeeze the last little bit out . Well , hey , there are little kids in China who don’t even have lip balm , you know !

She tosses out the toothpaste tube way before it’s all used up , too . I like to get my money’s worth out of a product . We just disagree about how far to carry this notion .

There is one area , though , where Ada and I have somehow reversed our virtuous positions : soap .  I continually find piles of old leftover too-small -to -use soap pieces clumped together as if they are pretending to be one bar of soap . They’re not one bar of soap . Evidently Ada holds on to the strange belief that old contiguous pieces of soap will stick together and can , therefore , be used as if they were a cohesive collection , as if they were one usable bar of soap .thanksgiving-and-snow-2016-013

It just doesn’t work .

Well , maybe it works for Ada . She claims that it does . I don’t know how that could be . For me the small little hardened shards of old soap immediately go their own ways when I pick the collection up . One might think that the individual members of this old -soaps collection would soften when wet and would join together in one harmonious  conglomeration full of a glorious pursuit of happiness  ;    but , in my experience , that don’t happen . In my case , at least , that don’t never  ever happen . Again , Ada claims a different experience .

Maybe I’m just not doing something right . Maybe I’m too rough on the poor little soap slivers  . Maybe those surviving fragments want only to act in genuine unity to do us all the kind favor of washing our grubby skins , and here I come roughing them up and unnecessarily knocking them into separate pieces again . Could it be ? I’m not willing or able to accept that idea , however , no matter what Ada says .

I say : buy a new bar of soap !  It doesn’t cost much . Why be such a penny pincher !  It’s too much damn trouble to go through trying to keep that many different  jiggery-pokery  diversified  pieces together .  Besides , we have to keep the American economy cranking along  , after all !

[ Don’t tell Ada about this post , please . She might give me hell about taking the toothpaste tube out of the trash today . ( There’s still at least a couple more day’s use in it )  .]

 

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genes

I’m surrounded by people who have paid their fee to Ancestry.com to find out who they really are . Oh , they’re so excited about it !

Ada and I went to dinner last night at a friend’s home . The master of the premises ( so to speak ) , who has a Swedish surname , discovered to his great surprise that he is only 1% Swedish . I kind of felt sorry for the poor guy . He’s done extensive research over the last few years on the family’s Swedish ancestors . He put together a very captivating book that traces his grandfather’s and great grandfather’s travels from Sweden to America. He’s more English and Irish than Swedish , it seems . His Anglophile wife is more Swedish than he is , and she’s not shy about pointing out  that awkward bit of information  to him. She’s had her DNA done , of course , too.

Another guest at the dinner who’d had her DNA  done  now knows that she is 1% Jewish and she is suddenly very proud of that  . Now she’s contemplating the Holocaust a lot more intensely since she has more skin in the game .  I forget what else she says she is . She has always considered herself Hungarian , because that’s the part of the world that her grandparents sprang from . But she’s part English , she said . And , how in the world did she suddenly become part English ? What were those past generations up to , anyway ? The English bit  seemed to bother her . She highly recommends the DNA test , though .Ireland in 1949 (31)

My grandparents came from Ireland . All of  ’em .  If I would have my DNA investigated , I would expect to find that I’m mostly something else , maybe Portuguese or Panamanian or Greek . Hopefully I’d at least stay a couple of percent Irish . My mother’s father was born and raised in County Limerick , which I think is known as originally a Viking town . My father’s side of the family had the dark eyes of the ‘Black Irish’ ,  descendants of the disastrous Spanish Armada , sailors who were able to make it to shore and perhaps find a pub to dry off in over a few pints and , afterward , to discover Ireland .

If it turned out somehow that I’m a majority English I’d have some serious soul-searching  to do . When my  grandmother said that ” The devil lives in London ” , she meant that literally . I don’t think that she was ever in London , but if she had been she would have been on the lookout for the cloven-hoofed Prince of Darkness .

Maybe I’m partly Armenian or Russian . If I found out that I’m more Polish than my Polish  wife I’d be sorely tempted to rub that in , just as my Swedish friend’s wife seems to like to do . On second thought , though , that wouldn’t go over so well  , so maybe not . I’m sure that I’m more Swedish than the Swedish guy , too , by the way . I’d hate to have him find that out . We’ve been friends for so long , after all .

This ancestry thing is just a source of trouble . Why couldn’t those old ancestors just stay put and stick with their own kind !Women with a pipe (8)

” Hey , Dude , I’m more Swedish than you are ! ” . Or maybe :

” Hey , Ada , I’m more Polish than you are . Pass the kielbasa, proze  ! ”  That wouldn’t make for marital bliss , I suspect .

Who the hell are you , anyway ? What if that great great great grandad ………… ? or grandma ……?   There was a Jesuit at my high school who used to say something like : If you go back far enough , we’re all related to Adam and Eve . I think that old priest had the right attitude .

So , you find out your ancestry . Maybe , for example , you’re told that you’re only 1% Swedish when you’ve believed all of your life that you’re of Swedish ancestry through and through . So what ?  What  , now you have to affect an English accent ? Cancel the trip to Stockholm and a few of those offshore islands ?

I see a deal now for the DNA test for a mere $ 79.00 .  No offense to all of you participants , but I have a few questions to ask . Do you get a cerificate of authenticity of some kind along with your analysis ? Do they give a money-back guarantee ?  What if , when the package arrives , it’s not what you wanted . Can you just send it back ? What if I’m a dissatisfied customer ?  Would I get my money back ?

I’m going to leave things just what they are . Heaven forbid I should find out that I’m 20% French ! Then what would I do ? I’d immediately have to buy chic clothes , I suppose , and begin to develop a kind of throat throttle sound and drink espresso . Or is the espresso thing still more Italian ?   What if I find out , now that I’m thinking of it , that I’m part Sicilian ? I’d call up my buddy Anthony and ask him what I’d need to know  and what I will need to do now . He’d probably secretly deny my ancestry , however , despite my Certificate of Authenticity , and we’d probably end up in una faida familiare , and that would be a shame .

This whole gene thing could get messy . I think I’ll throw the 79 bucks away on a few barrels of beer instead . Or fill my gas tank up .woman with beer barrels

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veterans’ day

 

 

North Carolina Soldiers During WWI (1)

Americans in World War I (1)

Americans in World War I (8)

Cemetery

 

 

 

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April 1969 Vietnam

April 1969 Vietnam

Shell casing pile KoreaWashington, D.C. July 4th Fireworks

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E:25

We bought a Bosch dishwasher a few years ago . I liked our old Maytag better , but it eventually  gave out . They don’t last forever . The Bosch started retaining water a couple of days ago .

These days , instead of falling into a quick panic ,  I first get on to the You Tube sites to see if someone can help . There are several dishwater fixing videos . There are a few that specifically purport to  show how to fix a Bosch dishwasher when the water won’t drain out . So I watched a few .

No comment on the people who make these videos . Most seem to be reputable and to have good repair skills . Some clearly have expertise . Others, however ,  seem to have been made by someone with nothing much else to do on a rainy Saturday . At any rate , I watched a few and picked up bits of vital knowledge .

And then the fool rushes in .

I watched a few men loosen screws that hold the cover to the this or to the that . Put a dishtowel over the bottom of the machine , one guy advised , in order not to lose the screw down into the nether-works of the dishwasher . Turns out my machine is more modern that this , and it pulls apart pretty easily . No screws to loosen or to lose . I’m all for that .

I twisted the thing-a-ma-jig and pulled out the screen that covers part of the bottom of the inside of the  dishwasher . Well , first I got a big sponge  and sucked up the puddle of water . Goldfish could have played around in that pristine  pool , if they don’t mind a little trace of detergent .

Then I had to take the cover off of the impeller .

I’m not an engineer or a machinist . I can’t remember anyone ever  telling me what an impeller is . I’ve  never read anything about impellers . Propellers , yes ; impellers , no .  I now sometimes attend the unaccredited School of the You Tube and I find out stuff I ain’t never learned at the University — such as about impellers .

So it seemed now that I have to take a little protective cover off of the impeller and make sure that it could move freely . I done that and I moved the little impeller and made sure that it could spin . Impellers spin —— Well , you know that already , I’m sure . Maybe just about everyone knows what an impeller is but me  ; but , that’s fine . I wallow in my astounding ignorance sometimes with no shame or self-conscious  embarrassment . Been there ; done that !

And , since the impeller spun when I moved it with my finger , I assumed that the problem may have been solved ! At least the impeller is free .  Well , I forgot to say that I found a couple of shards of glass in the well where the filter goes . That must have been the problem , right ? I removed them —– relics of a long time-ago  broken water glass , no doubt , and I turned the machine on to test my hypothesis.

It washed the two or three guinea pig dishes that I had in the machine , but at the end of the cycle the same amount of water sat at the bottom of the inside of the machine .  So I took it apart again .

Oh , and now a message had appeared on the digital readout : ” E:25 ” . I asked Ada if she’d ever seen that E:25 before . She hadn’t . The E of the E:25 must mean “Error”. The cryptic message was meant for me . I knew that .

But what was error  #25 ?

I half-thought that error #25 was the original idea I’d concocted that I could fix the damn thing in the first place . But , whatever , I went out to the garage and got my Bosch Dishwasher manual . Ada thinks the garage is a total disaster , but there is some sense and organization to some outlying  sectors in there. One just might have to ignore the battle zones in that garage in the meantime to avoid clutter fatigue . I keep all of my manuals together in a file drawer at the back of the garage , under the shelf with the Christmas decorations . The manual , though , written in both English and French, had no mention of Error:25 . I checked it thrice ( “thrice” means checking once more that is really reasonable for anyone with normal intelligence ; it means consciously wandering into the mysterious realm of wishful-thinking , irrationality , and perhaps pagan superstition .)

So , next I called the Bosch customer service number . All representatives were busy , I was told by a robot voice , but someone would be with me shortly . I suppose that I misunderstood their concept of ” shortly ” . The first time I waited 15 minutes . I tried twice more . No customer service , but I was still assured that someone would be with me “shortly” . But , humans only live a certain number of years , so I went to Plan B .

Plan B is what , if I weren’t such a Luddite , I should have used for Plan A : I consulted the internet , the World Wide Web . I found a Bosch website . I wrote my little inquiry out in their “Contact Us ” area ; briefly told them my repair attempt tale , and asked what ” E:25 ” means . Maybe E:25 means never try to get any helpful information from Bosch if you’re not in the market for a new appliance .

I ruminated over my dishwasher dilemma for the never several hours . Well , not full time . I let my subconscious have a go at the repair job . That’s how I roll . I took a nap and considered having a bottle of beer . I made myself a chicken and cheese sandwich . Some things just can’t be rushed . Afterward , I decided to have another look . There was something I’d missed . Maybe .

When twice you don’t succeed , thrice , thrice , and try  again !

I took the thing apart a third time . It’s so easy to dismantle the drain filter without the screws . They made this machine repair-friendly . I’ll give that much to Bosch . I took the cover over the impeller off again . And I took another look .

A tiny bit of water remained under the impeller . I hadn’t been able to remove it with my sponge . Since the impeller turned when I turned it with my finger , I had assumed that all was well . Maybe not . I flashed my flashlight at the impeller . I looked  more carefully this time . Could it be a thin piece of glass had lodged itself under the impeller ? I probed the tight little area with a tiny tiny screwdriver , and there was glass in there . It was a challenge to get at it , but I removed one piece and then another . The bit of water there had hidden the clear glass bits .

I tested the wash cycle one more time . No pool of water remained afterward . No  “E:25 ” message showed up . Bosch e-mailed me back to say that they had received my message and that they would send me an answer soon .

One man’s soon is another man’s eternity . Hey , that  E:25 may be the Estimated Time of Response : 25 .  That might be 25 years from now or the year 2025 . Who knows ! headless xxx

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old soldiers

Old soldiers never die ; they just fade away . —– Douglas MacArthur

Creedence Clearwater

Yankee Doodle

Into_the_Jaws_of_Death_23-0455M_edit-e1506442257872

woman WWII woman soldiER

dog with machine gun

Choctaw Code Talkers

Billy Mitchell 1925

think before you talk

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pens, etc.

Today in 1945 the first ball -point pens hit the stores in America . The first patent had been taken out in 1888 , and the idea had been bouncing around in Hungary and Argentina and other places earlier .  I came upon this little bit of trivia as I was tapping away on my laptop keyboard .

I was watching an old movie yesterday . Someone was typing a letter . I could see the carbon paper there . Carbon paper ? Yeah . That’s how copies were made . I used to use a mimeograph machine at school that used carbon to run copies .

When I started school , once upon a time ago , some of the desks in the classrooms still had a hole in the corner . You know , a hole in which was placed the jar of ink . The old fountain pens needed to  suck up some ink . That beats dipping a quill into the ink , I suppose . Also , delinquents had the unique opportunity to dip the pony-tail of the girl in the desk ahead into the ink .

In high school we were required to use ballpoint pens at school but homework had to be done with a fountain pen . Thanks to those  crafty Jesuits for that little bit of intrigue . If you were caught with a fountain pen at school it was bad news for you . The idea was to have homework done at home . The idea was to curtail guys ( boys’ school ! ) copying other guys’ homework right before class .

Anyway , we used those fountain pens with  little plastic ink cartridges . On hot days these capsules might  burst and leave an indelible circle of blue ink staining whatever forever and ever . Some guys wore white shirts with quarter-sized blue stains at the bottom of the pocket until the shirt material finally wore out years later .masks-wierd

In fourth grade , now that I’m  thinking  of ink , I suddenly remember a time when the teacher left the room for a few minutes and the class spontaneously erupted in an energetic ink fight , hoards of hooligans flicking  fountain pen ink at one another . When you flicked the fountain pen , a squirt of ink would spray whomever or whatever happened to be within a few feet of you . I had mine out ready for action , but I couldn’t get the little improvised weapon to work . No ink came out .

And then soon the teacher returned . The whole place was covered with ink splatter . The teacher chewed us all out , of course , and then asked us to be honest . We were told to stand up if we had participated in the melee . Reluctantly , a couple of miscreants stood up , then a few more , then more . I hadn’t actually inked anyone , but only because my pen was out of ink , I guess , or maybe I just didn’t have the proper technique ,  but I had participated in the action . So I stood up .

I forget what punishment we all got . I don’t remember that part , but I remember that we all had owned up to our short span of stupid behavior . I might have got away with sitting down since I hadn’t actually flung any ink . There were a couple of us who hadn’t been part of the action , though  . Lori Powers was one , I think , and most likely another girl , but I can’t remember who it might have been. Both of them had more self- control and/or maturity than the rest of us .

Yeah . So students these days don’t have the option of ink fights during class . Too bad , in a way ; but good , of course , in another way .weird man

The fountain pen incident could not have taken place had we all had ball points instead of fountain pens that fateful day . Wouldn’t have made such a good story , though . Although those early ball points would heat up and leak ink sometimes , too , they didn’t provide such a good temptation to stupid little children as the fountain pens did .

School kids today don’t have the opportunities that we had . No loose ink to flick from  a Notebook/laptop/cell phone . Well , on second thought , they bully and harass one another via internet , so maybe things haven’t changed all that much . The technology improves , but human nature stays pretty much the same .

 

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