Tuesday, December 31, 2013

HNY

Hoping your coming year brings songs you want to hear!

Monday, December 30, 2013

Sunday, December 29, 2013

Fitbit Force

I got a "Fitbit Force" as one of my Christmas presents. It functions like a computerized pedometer, really. I don't know how truly accurate it is - I haven't calibrated it yet, but I did some treadmill running today and it seemed to match up with the treadmill mileage pretty well.

Anyway, I've been surprised to see that I'm normally walking about 5 miles a day. I knew that my commute, and my dog walking, etc., had me walking over a mile a day. I would have guessed 2.

But 5 was a surprise.
Could it all be lies?

Saturday, December 28, 2013

Reading Fills The Mind

From today's Wall St. Journal:

"Rather than bemoaning the frothy and fleeting nature of new words and phrases, however, we can embrace it."

I fear the mixed metaphor is unfortunate.

Embrace the frothy - feel it pop.
Embrace the fleeting - it won't stop.

From The Villager, one of our neighborhood papers:

"Walking or other activities that alternate movement of one side of the body and then the other help to clear our thoughts and improve our moods."

I want to see a controlled study of the mental health of freestyle swimmers - as opposed to breast-stroke swimmers. I bet either stroke will clear your mind as well as the other.

A lot of times
I find
that I can clear my mind
by making silly rhymes.

Missing a Delivery

So the days-late FedEx package got delivered to my front door, according to FedEx, but no one heard the doorbell ring, and the search outside didn't find a thing.

Was it stolen, or misdelivered? We haven't ever had a problem with theft of things left at the front door, so I'm inclined to think this is a rare case of FedEx messing up, but what I'm going to be able to do about it I just don't know.

I'm letting this color my mood way more than it should.
At the moment some cosmic perspective would do me good.

Friday, December 27, 2013

Heat Wave

They're having a Feliz Navidad heat wave in Argentina - where it's our seasonal equivalent of June 25. And the fish are biting! But not in a good way.

"More than 60 swimmers have been injured in a mass piranha attack."

It was 100 degrees Fahrenheit. And people went in the river to cool off. And those ugly little fish attacked en masse. At least, no one died, and the injuries don't sound too serious - because everybody got out of the water.

In Argentina,
small fish are meana.

Wednesday, December 25, 2013

Shipping Overload

Delivery delayed:

"An unexpected surge of online orders in the past few weeks appears to have strained the limits of delivery and fulfillment infrastructure at retailers and parcel carriers."

It happened to me, with a gift for my wife. I paid for FedEx standard overnight, and they didn't make it. That's supposed to be a money-back guarantee, so I'll have to see about a refund! Not sure how that works. I paid the retailer, who presumably paid FedEx. So do I need to call the retailer and he has to call FedEx?

The package was in Chicago early in the morning on the 24th. And they kept estimating it would be at my door by 8pm. Until 8pm, when the estimate suddenly changed to "N/A". Hopefully that's computerese for the 26th.

You know, for years I resisted buying stuff online. Online is really convenient, but it doesn't give me the immediate satisfaction of having the goods in my hands.

Absolutely, positively, oops not quite,
overnight.

Tuesday, December 24, 2013

Visions of Plumbers' Bills Danced In My Head

We have a tree on our front lawn,
a Grinch-like tree that I'd like gone.

Its roots have clogged our sewer line,
and in my view that's far from fine!

Monday, December 23, 2013

Playing Santa

I got to dress up in the Santa outfit and hand out gifts to kids at my sister's office party. But the costume's white gloves were missing. 

How, I complained, can I create art, when my costume is flawed from the very start?

Nonetheless, I gave it a go, and had a merry Ho Ho Ho!

Sunday, December 22, 2013

Irony Sunk

A British communications executive, before heading to South Africa, tweeted: “Going to Africa. Hope I don't get AIDS. Just kidding. I’m white!”

She has apologized. She has been fired.

I imagine it was meant to sound ironic. I imagine she meant to imply that it is in fact a legacy of racism that AIDS is more of a problem in the nonwhite African population.

Her company threw her under the bus: ""There is no excuse for the hateful statements that have been made and we condemn them unequivocally. We hope, however, that time and action, and the forgiving human spirit, will not result in the wholesale condemnation of an individual who we have otherwise known to be a decent person at core."

I guess she should be grateful
that after calling her hateful
they put some salve on the sore
and called her decent at core.

Saturday, December 21, 2013

'Tis The Season For Etymology

"Holidays" are "holy days",
in their original meanings.

But nowadays the word and phrase
display divergent leanings.

Friday, December 20, 2013

Asleep at the Switch

I fell down on the job yesterday - there was no Rhyme of the Day! Well, more like I lay down. I fell asleep at eight and didn't get up until seven this morning. I must have been tired.

And while I slept,
Duck Dynasty leapt
on the front page
in a burst of rage.

Althouse wrote: "Like Paglia, I remember the broad 1960s era commitment to free speech. There was a special zeal to protect those who said outrageous things. Today, we're back to the kind of repression that in the 60s seemed to belong to the 1950s. What the hell happened?"

I remember that about the 60s too, but there was another current flowing in the New Left, as represented in Marcuse's "critique of pure tolerance."

Marcuse claimed that right wing thoughts are "repression,"
with no excuse or entitlement to expression.

Tuesday, December 17, 2013

Controlling the Agenda

If you can believe the Daily Mail, which is always a good question, a bunch of U.S. Tech CEOs had a meeting with the prez at the White House. They thought the purpose of the meeting was to discuss the NSA's super-snoopery.

But the prez thought the purpose of the meeting was to talk about how much better healthcare.gov is working.

Of course, it was the prez who won.

I was amused by these 2 anonymous quotes:

'We really didn't care for a PR pitch about how the administration is trying to salvage its internal health care tech nightmare.'

'He basically hijacked the meeting,' the executive said. 'We all told the White House that we were only there to talk about what the NSA was up to and how it affects us.'

They gave a lot of money to the guy,
and now they're surprised when he spits in their eye.

Surfing To Learn About Turf

I'm not a huge football fan, but I watch with my father and son-in-law on Monday nights, and I was puzzled tonight by something I saw on TV. The players seemed to be kicking up dust - in an indoor stadium - on artificial turf - but the dust didn't disperse like dust exactly.

I actually wondered if it was some kind of special visual effect - like the yellow "first down" line that they project over the field.

I summoned my Google-fu, successfully.

So, it wasn't electronic trickery, it was physical reality, but of an artificial variety:

"The field is comprised of three basic elements: sand, green plastic fibers that look like grass and crumbled rubber, which resembles tiny rubber BBs. Fans will notice that when a player makes a hard cut or a football bounces hard on the surface, something appearing like dust will briefly arise. It's the rubber pellets."

Players complain that sometimes the tiny rubber BBs get in their mouths when they "hit the dirt."

That happens with real dirt, too,
so I'm not feeling sorry for you.

Sunday, December 15, 2013

By Canetti

For book club, we read... well its working title was Kant Catches Fire, its first published title was The Blinding (but in German), its first American title was Tower Of Babel, and its first British title was Auto Da Fe. 

I'm not sure why they couldn't alight on one title that just sounded right.

Fluffy and Cold

Shoveled a fair amount of snow, at my house and my father's.

When it comes to precipitation,
I have more appreciation
for rain.

Because shoveling is a pain!

Thursday, December 12, 2013

Acclimation

Thirty starts to feel warm, after a week where twenty's the norm. 

Wednesday, December 11, 2013

Signifying Nothing

At Mandela's funeral, the sign language interpreter was reportedly a fake... I mean, he may have been the official signer for all I know, but he wasn't really signing in any language that anyone can figure out so far.


He gave the appearance of full communication, 
but it was all just empty gesticulation.

Tuesday, December 10, 2013

Unfreedom

In a piece that struck me as overwritten:

"We must look up from our literary games and see what is almost too big to be seen—the fact of slavery, towering above us like the trees of an immense forest of unfreedom that covered the Roman world."

I'm not sure what is too big to see about this, but there was a lot of slavery in Rome, it's true. It wasn't quite the same thing as American slavery, it wasn't racially based, but it was slavery.

The author is making the point that the apparent sexual freedom of the Romans had a lot to do with their freedom to tell their slaves what to do.

In a fresco, it's not always easy to see
who is the master and who is free.

Failure to Deplane

Not life threatening, more of a humorous annoyance:

"A Louisiana man flying to California woke up on a dark, empty plane parked at Bush Intercontinental Airport in Houston after sleeping through the call to exit the aircraft, officials said on Monday."

First he called his girlfriend using his cell. Sounds like she didn't believe him. Which made me wonder if he might be a bit of a joker. Did he arrange for this somehow?

Eventually a service crew found him and let him out.

Overslept.
Locked inside.
Was someone inept
or did he hide?

Anyway, I wish he'd escaped on that exit slide.

Sunday, December 08, 2013

Outside Looking In

I heard "Spirit In The Sky" on the radio today. It's an old hit song about Christianity, sort of. It has these lines:

"Never been a sinner I never sinned
I got a friend in Jesus"

When it was a big hit, back in 1969, I kept wondering, what kind of Christian declares that he never sinned?

Well, the lyricist, Norman Greenbaum, was Jewish. He just happened to write a hit song about having a friend in Jesus, and had not grasped something about the Christian attitude toward sin.

Fast forward to David Mamet's recent play, The Anarchist. The title character presents herself as having embraced Christianity, and having found salvation. At a key moment, she prays:

"Lord. (Pause) Who ordains all things. Who took the most depraved of women and bid her to Your side to be the Queen of Heaven."

Okay. Full pause, please. Queen of Heaven is a Catholic/Anglican/Orthodox term for Mary, the mother of Jesus. And Christians do not view her as the most depraved of women - far from it.

It sounds as if Mamet's talking about Mary Magdalene, interpreted as being the fallen woman who was redeemed, and then interpreted as becoming Jesus's wife. There are people who believe something along these lines, but it's wildly divergent from standard Christian doctrine. I don't think this was a purposeful divergence on Mamet's part. I don't think he intended her to be saying something that far off.

Mamet's Jewish too, of course.

I don't really mind that they diverged like this. I wouldn't dream of suggesting they go back and change their words. But I'm struck by how hard it must be to get the other fellow's religious point of view right - even when you grew up in a country where that point of view was prevalent.

You can see where it starts to get hairy,
outside, looking in,
at the number of women named Mary
and the complex concept of sin.

The Bioethicist Explains "You Can Keep Your Doctor"

"The president never said you were going to have unlimited choice of any doctor in the country you want… But look, if you want to pay more for an insurance company that covers your doctor, you can do that. It’s a matter of choice. … The issue isn’t the selective networks… People are going to have a choice of whether they want to pay a certain amount for a selective network, or pay more for a broader network. They get that choice."

That's Ezekiel Emanuel, bioethicist, architect of the Affordable Care Act, trying to explain what "the president never said".

You can tell a lie by omission,
attaching a secret condition,
but it doesn't make the deceit
smell sweet.

But, he knows all that, right? Wikipedia describes him as a specialist in bioethics - medical ethics.

So this must have been one of those noble lies,
an end-justifies-the means surprise!

Twelve Years A Slave

We saw Twelve Years A Slave.
Tough to watch, but the acting deserves a rave. 

Friday, December 06, 2013

Oh, You Mean That Uncle

It seems silly to flunk
a question about whether you ever met your unk,
when you actually crashed at his pad
as a law-school lad.

Thursday, December 05, 2013

Dog!

This is from a collection of funny wrong-number text exchanges. This is the one that made me laugh really hard, for a long time.

25-flawless-responses-to-wrong-number-texts-5

Photo of Dog
plus dialogue
made me laugh
ten times and a half.

Tuesday, December 03, 2013

Pension Reform Passes in Illinois

What do you know? I guessed right. State pension reform passed in Illinois. Passed in both the state senate and the general assembly. And the gov says he'll sign it. I only hope it proves sufficient. Well, I guess it's a start.

Due to the cold hard fact,
of our crumbling
credit rating,
Illinois lawmakers act,
after grumbling
and debating.

Monday, December 02, 2013

Legal Face Off

Reuters reports: "New York lawsuit seeks 'legal personhood' for chimpanzees"

They're suing to free a chimpanzee,
by writ of habeas corpus.

If they succeed in court,
I hope they try next with a porpoise.

Sunday, December 01, 2013

A Christmas Carol: (abridged)


I'm not sure if they really needed to append "abridged" to this festive seasonal production. I can guess why they did it. They wanted to alert ticket-buyers that this is not a special-effects thirty-actor extravaganza.

It's something quiet and intimate, less than 90 minutes long, with just 3 actors. One actor plays Scrooge, the other 2 do narration and play a load of other characters.

Every word you hear, every line of dialogue, every bit of narration, is straight from the story penned by Dickens. So this production puts you in touch with the actual language of the text, in a way that the usual versions do not.

We attended with a friend who has a lot of acting experience - whose first acting experience was playing Tiny Tim when she was 5. She has watched many productions over the years, and she just loved this one.

It's the tale of a miser
with ghostly advisers
who ends up gladder and wiser.