Showing posts from 2011

Tuesday Morning

Let's Go Out to the Lobby

Everywhere you look people are scratching their heads, and not one of them has an itchy scalp. Citizens – well informed and otherwise – are wondering why elected officials, from city council members to members of Congress, are unable to do much of anything. Politicians whine at great length and then do nothing. Why is this?
Well, when it comes to insidiousness, many politicians tell us nothing is more insidious than welfare And why is welfare insidious? Because it is giving a person something for nothing. And what is political lobbying? It is giving money and gifts to politicians and getting nothing in return. Should a curious person examine the remarks of politicians, from Congressmen to the members of the lowliest municipal board in the smallest village in the country, he will never find one who has been influenced by lobbyists. In fact, every politician vehemently denies that the favors he has received influenced his stand on the issues. And that must be the case because the same pol…

Wherever Ego, I Go

The trouble with ego is that it must be fed from time to time. I like to think mine is an insignificant thing, a part of me that requires very little attention. Besides, it does better when it is nourished by others. I’m never sure whether people are being sincere or condescending when they say nice things. But who cares? My ego can’t get enough of it.
Recently, my ego has been strutting proudly and taking its lumps. The reason for both is the page on that lets me know how many people are reading my blog and the countries they are in when they access it. The numbers are not earth shattering. On a good day, the blog will have ten or fifteen page views. The good days are the days I post a link on Facebook, which leads me to believe the hits are from friends and relatives. Perhaps they’re reading it just to be kind, but at least they’re kind on a consistent basis. And consistent kindness, whether sincere or not, nourishes the hungry ego.
Not everyone who reads the blog, howeve…

Oodles of Tuna Noodle

Tom emptied a bag of egg noodles into the pot of boiling water, gave them a quick stir, set the oven for 350 and went looking for cream of celery soup and tuna. He wasn't a stranger to the kitchen. Because he got home from work an hour-and-a-half before Debbie, his wife, Tom was the weekday cook. He was a step - maybe two - above adequate at the stove, and most of the meals he prepared were more challenging than tuna-noodle casserole. He had been looking forward to pork chops all day until Bethany, their eight-year-old daughter, asked for tuna-noodle. How could he say "no" when she begged with pleading voice and imploring eyes? But when he opened the kitchen cabinet, he realized it would have been wiser to make sure all the ingredients were on hand before starting. As Tom's search became more frantic, Bethany, perched on the counter, began to worry."You promised, Daddy," she said. Fortunately, the soup and tuna turned up behind the box of shredded wheat.Tom…

Act Now; Think Later

I don't know, but I think as answers go, "I don't know" doesn't get much respect. This is strange in an age when "straight talk" is said to be greatly admired. Yet it is the people who spout nonsense with conviction who are esteemed for their straightforward manner, while those who offer a humble but absolutely truthful "I don't know," are thought to be devious and untrustworthy. Whether this is the human condition or something uniquely American is hard to say. Certainly the insufferable know-it-all hero has been a mainstay of American entertainment. There was the tall, handsome, arrogant stranger who walked into the saloon. Standing at the bar, he systematically examined the souls of the patrons. By the time he had finished his whiskey - which did not affect his gait or his judgment - the stranger knew who was rustling cattle. This was surprising, since the locals weren't aware that cattle were being rustled. The stranger pushed the e…

The Pursuit of the Purse

“A Cleveland Court resident told police her purse was stolen while visiting a friend Thursday morning.” Star Beacon November 19, 2011
“Chief, we’ve got another one.” “Another what, Hennigan?” “Stolen purse. A Mrs. Elsie Greenwood called and said her purse was stolen.” “Hennigan, it’s the 21st Century and this is a big city. Purses are stolen all the time.” “I know. I wasn’t born yesterday. Jeez, I’ve been on the force for fifteen years,” Hennigan said. “But this one’s different.” “You said, ‘We’ve got another one.’ Those were you’re exact words. Right?” “Yeah.” “Well, if we’ve had other ones, how can this one be different? Tell me that, Hennigan.” “OK, OK. Let’s just say this purse was stolen in a unique manner.” “Get with the program, Hennigan. My dictionary says unique means ‘existing as the only one or as the sole example; single; solitary in type or characteristics.’ This purse snatching can’t be unique if there were others like it.” “Chief, if you would bother read all the definitions, you’d…

Thanksgiving at its Verse

Some Fowl WordsOh, the turkey is in despairAs he frets about Thanksgiving.The fowl calls "Foul," says it's unfair.Oh, the turkey is in despair,"What's wrong with steak, well-done or rare?Have you no shame or misgiving?"Oh, the turkey is in despairAs he frets about Thanksgiving.

'Tis the Season OpenerChristmas comes but once a year, which is just as well,although all the retailers would like to have moreso every single week there would be a Black Friday,with hordes of crazed, lusting shoppers outside the storeat three-ten in the morning, credit card in hand.Christmas: a great excuse for a shopping orgy.
The proudly religious also up and orgyover "Season's Greetings," a term they don't take well.And "Happy Holidays" gives the devil a hand,they say. "And we'll not shop here, not even once moreunless the cash registers in your godless storetell the clerks to say "Merry Christmas" by Friday.
That way, when the save…

My Exacerbating Exasperation

While reading today I came upon the word exacerbate. It's been a while since an author told me a situation had been exacerbated. That seems strange, because even the most cockeyed optimist would have to admit there is a whole lot of exacerbating going on. There might be a situation out there that is not being aggravated or increasing in severity, bitterness or violence, or just plain getting worse, but I don't know what it is. Still, no one, or hardly anyone, says our current problems are being exacerbated. Present day pundits, like those who preceded them, are sure that every problem is getting bigger by the hour and is well on its way to becoming unsolvable. Depending on his or her point of view, the problem is the incompetents in the White House, or the idiots in Congress; the one percent with the wealth, or the ninety-nine percent without it; the greedy unions, or the money-grubbing capitalists; the armed-to-the-teeth NRA, or the soft-on-crime ACLU; the educational system …

Memories of Max

Maxine died Monday. These few unforgettable moments are from August 2010.

     There were fifteen of us at the Edgewood Diner, most of us retired from the Ashtabula County Board of Developmental Disabilities, where we had worked in the Adult Services Program at Ash/Craft Industries. Three or four were looking forward to returning to Florida at the first sign of winter.      After a few minutes of politely bringing everyone up to date with our lives, we began talking of the past and getting raucous. Like the eight million in the Naked City, we each had a story - in fact, most of us had several to share. We laughed at ourselves, we laughed at each other and we laughed at former colleagues who weren't there. We laughed at our frequent ineptitude and marveled at the even more frequent insight and brilliance of the people we were supposed to be helping.      I had been told several times over the years that I would know when it was time to retire. As it turned out, Multiple Sclerosis i…

All Set

After I set the challenge for myself, I set about searching for the English word with the largest set of definitions. Hoping to be set straight, I went to Google, which set before me an extensive set of websites that might provide the answer. Opting for the link to, I was set back on my heels when I discovered that the Oxford English Dictionary, which is a set of several volumes, set forth 496 definitions for "set." "Set" not only set the record for definitions, it set it in convincing fashion, topping runner-up "run," which merits a mere 396 definitions.But as I set out to set forth my thoughts on the word "set," I was beset by doubts that in my hurry to set my ideas on paper I might inadvertently set myself up for failure. What if I wrote something foolish and set tongues wagging about my idiocy? Then, as I was about to set two books and a tablet on the table, I realized the table was set for dinner, and with our best set of Mel…

The Maple Tree

Yesterday, a single shaft of sunlight broke through the ominous clouds and fell upon the maple tree across the way. And the maple, resplendent in its autumn leaves, like a star in the spotlight at the Oscars, dazzled all who saw it. It stormed last night: lightning, thunder and a fierce wind. By morning, the maple was disheveled, half dressed, tattered and lifeless. Soon its naked arms and fingers will be clothed in snow – until spring, when life begins again.

All News is Old News

Is Africa a preview of the world's future?With apologies to D'Arcy Egan, the Plain Dealer's outdoors writer.I have taken the liberty of rewriting a portion of Mr. Egan's article "Is the Illinois River a preview of Lake Erie's future? The Battle Against Asian Carp," which appeared in the October 22, 2011 edition of the Plain Dealer. After all, the Asian Carp isn't the first invasive species.The Wooly Mammoth Press-Prevaricator, Oct. 22, 55,001 BCSOMEWHERE IN AFRICA- There have been experts who say human beings won't survive outside of this small enclave in Africa. The rest of the world is too cold, they suggest, and will not provide the level of comfort the funny looking bipeds need in order to thrive and reproduce. But nobody needs to tell the saber-tooth tigers and mastodons how amazingly adaptable and resilient humans are, and how they can easily overwhelm and change a way of life. The humans are thriving here, and many mammoth scientists firmly…

Preposterous Predicament

The assignment was to have fun with words beginning with P-R-E. I had fun doing this. Whether or not anyone else will find any fun in it remains to be seen.

Jackie was surprised to see Herman, her husband, in the middle of the living room attempting to touch his toes."What, pray tell, are you doing?""My preamble," he said, slowly raising himself to the full-upright position, although his stomach remained several inches below his belt. "These are the stretching exercises I do before taking my walk.""Your walk usually ends up a prebendary.""I know. I know," Herman said. "There were times when I walked to the bar and bent the elbow for a few days and usually wound up in the gutter. But those days are over. I'm jumping on the wagon.""If I were you, I'd be careful. As fat as you are, if you jump on, you'll probably put the wagon in a prefixed condition.""They'll just have to repair it," he said. …

History: Same Stuff, Different Epoch

Plain Dealer outdoors writer D'arcy Egan recently wrote a series of articles on efforts to keep Asian carp out of the Great Lakes. In one piece, he discussed the Asian carp's presence in the Illinois River. And what he said about the march of the Asian carp, it seemed to me, could have been said about the march of another species, and I took the liberty of rewriting a section of that piece.
Is Africa a preview of the world's future?With apologies to D'Arcy Egan, the Plain Dealer's outdoors writer.The Wooly Mammoth Press-Prevaricator, Oct. 22, 55,001 BCSOMEWHERE IN AFRICA- There have been experts who say human beings won't survive outside of this small enclave in Africa. The rest of the world is too cold, they suggest, and will not provide the level of comfort the funny looking bipeds need in order to thrive and reproduce. But nobody needs to tell the saber-tooth tigers and mastodons how amazingly adaptable and resilient humans are, and how they can easily overwh…

Gee, I Didn't See That

"The man who doesn't read," someone once said, "is no better off than the man who can't." 'Tis true. 'Tis true. And 'tis equally true of the man who does not read carefully. That truth smacked me across the face not once but twice within forty-eight hours. And I was trying to get to the library both times. Strange, isn't it.For some time now I've been telling myself I need a project. After several months of telling myself this, I got around to looking for one, and after a few more months of feigned thought and purposeful procrastination, I determined, one day last week, what the project should be. In the early 1990s, my byline appeared twice in Cobblestone, a history magazine for middle school kids. Why not see what I can do twenty years later, I thought. Being a thoroughly modern man, I went to the magazine's website and took a look at its theme list for the coming year. Saturday morning I found a couple topics I thought I could han…

It Did Not Compute

The computer has been uncooperative for several days. High Tech and High StrungThe computer is congested With all the stuff it’s ingested - The silly poems that I’ve devised And the inane things I’ve surmised. Yes indeedy it’s been force-fed All my foolish nonsense instead Of important things and the like. Now it’s told me to take a hike. All I asked it to do was print, It said, “Listen, bub, take a hint, I can’t answer when you call. I’m not responding. That is all.”
Bad ComputerMy computer needs dissected For not behaving as it ought. Since it hates to be corrected, My computer needs dissected And most thoroughly inspected Before it’s taken out and shot. My computer needs dissected For not behaving as it ought.

Stumped on the Stump

It's in the dictionary: disambiguate. It reminds me of Bush's misrememberate, a word that always makes me hyperventilate and sometimes even makes me discombobulate. They're words for those who want to circumambulate proven facts. Politicians overcompensate
with sesquipedalians to overcompensate for ideas they'd rather not disambiguate. They also tiptoe as they circumambulate, or say, "Oh, I guess I must misremeberate. That liberal press just makes me discombobulate and more than once it's made me hyperventilate."
It is not abnormal to hyperventilate when one's stumped and trying to overcompensate while working so hard not to discombobulate, worried that someone's going to disambiguate his harangue. Then he'll claim to misrememberate, or convolute the truth and circumambulate
it if he can. If he can't circumambulate embarrassing stuff, he might hyperventilate, which sometimes causes him to misrememberate the lies he's spewed. So then he'll overcompensat…

Give Me that Old Time Religion

I am sitting here waiting for God to speak to me. He hasn't yet, and I'm not sure why. I mean, I'm here every day, listening for his voice in my head, or on the phone, maybe. I even cast a hopeful glance at my e-mail now and then in case that's how God reaches people nowadays. How much trouble would it be for him to call and say, "Just wanted to let you know, Tom, that you're soooo, soooo special, and I have endowed you with special powers of understanding, prophecy and insight"? He's awfully busy, I know, assuring each of the Republican presidential candidates that only he or she can save the country from perdition. But, come on, he's God, isn't he? Surely there's an angel available to take over pumping up Rick Perry's ego for a few minutes while the big guy gets in touch with me. Besides, Rick's well-coifed head might explode if the pumping doesn't stop soon.
I know I won't be an easy case for the angels and archangels, …