A To Z Challenge – Z

april-challenge

Well, we have zigged, and zagged our way to the bottom of the alphabet.  It all comes down to Ground Zero, at zero hour, in zero gravity, with zero thought, to write the final composition for the letter

Letter Z

a letter that the Dutch explorers, traders and colonists already present, especially around the area that would become New York City, taught the newly arriving English settlers of America to pronounce as ‘zee’, a mere 400 years ago.  Think ‘Zuider Zee.’  The rest of the English-speaking world uses the Froggy French pronunciation, ‘zed’, imposed by the Norman invaders of England, almost a millennium ago.

For all you hockey nuts (and you have to be nuts to regard hockey as anything more than mildly interesting time-wasting), I thought that I would write about Zamboni.  That’s the ice-resurfacing machine that drives around the skating surface between periods.

Resurfice Machine

Then I thought better of it, and decided to give you a little more local history/geography/commerce. About 15 miles north of where I live, up in Pennsylvania-Dutch, Mennonite territory, is the large town/small city (10,000) of Elmira, Ontario.

Twenty-five years ago, the Schlupp family (doesn’t that name sound Mennonite?) reverse-engineered the Zamboni, and began producing Olympia machines at a company called Resurfice.  There are various sizes, and gasoline and electric models.  They will do what the Zamboni will do, at a better price – and they are Canadian-made.

They’ve had to fight the ‘Kleenex viewpoint’, which says that every facial tissue is ‘Kleenex’, even when it’s Puffs, or Royale, but their sales are steady, and increasing, even in the US.  Despite the Zamboni brand-name recognition, and allowing for some bragging, Resurfice sells 50% to 70% of machines in North America.

The ‘Kleenex viewpoint’ is visible in an online court brief, apparently posted by a relative of an idiot complainant trying to sue poor Resurfice.

Hanke was the operator of an zamboni
→ Overfilled the gas tank of the machine, releasing vapourized gas which was ignited by an overhead
heather
→ The ensuing explosion and fire caused Hanke to be badly burned
→ Hanke sued the
zamboni maker for negligence (design defect), arguing that the gas and water tanks were similar in appearance and close together on the machine, making it easy to confuse the two.

English rules of construction insist on the word ‘a’ before another word beginning with a consonant.  It should be ‘a Zamboni,’ with a capital Z – except, it wasn’t a ‘Zamboni’, it was a Resurfice Olympia.  The genius operator pumped water into the gasoline tank in an area with open flame.  His genius brother (cousin?) writes, in a court brief, of an ‘overhead heather’, and repeats the incorrect, uncapitalized ‘zamboni’ again.

If I have poked fun at places like Newfoundland, or Alabama, I humbly apologise, and acknowledge the existence of local possessors of ‘a glorious lack of sophistication.’

AtoZ Survivor

I thank all of you who have followed me through the alphabet. I’m trying to decide if it’s worthwhile or possible to do it again this/next year.  This free-style, pick-and-choose method didn’t work out as well as I’d hoped.  Perhaps next time I could do a themed version, possibly A to Z wild life, from Ants to Zebras. Wild life could include C for College dorm parties.  Or A to Z in musical groups, from AC/DC to ZZ Top.  In the meantime, I’m going to take a copy of that ‘Survivor’ image, and go have (another) nap.  I suggest you all do the same.  We’ve all earned some ZZZZZZs.   😀

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Five Long Years

calendar

That’s what Colin James says my blog has been.

FIVE LONG YEARS
(click above, to hear him say so)

Five years ago, to the day, on November 21, 2011, I first dived into the blog-pool. I had no idea what I was going to say, or how often I would say it.  I finally calmed down enough to casually mention when I reached post number 600.  This one is number 687, reaching toward number 700.  I’ve accumulated 878 followers, (Now I’ve got 879.  Do I hear 880?)(Okay!  I’ve got 880!  Anybody want to go for 900?)  and had 9400 visits, for 32,000 views.

For me, everything is still the same, and yet, everything is different. Society is different.  Politics is different.  The Internet is different.  My writing and posting are different.  Some of that is good.  Some of that, at best, is questionable.

While some of my favored blog-sites from five years ago have shut down, or atrophied, many newer ones continue to entertain, amuse and educate me. I continue to do my best to do the same in return.

The traditional gift for a five-year anniversary is wood. I already have a solid block-head, and I possess several wooden nickels, and even a wooden quarter, so I guess all that’s left for you lovely readers to do, is to commend me for not dying, and not shutting up.  Many thanx to all who visit, like and comment.   😀

Champions Award

No good deed ever goes unpunished.

Oops, I did it again. I opened my mouth, and somebody stuffed an award in it.  (And I said, ‘No, no!  I’m unworthy.’)

champion-photo

So, there I was, blithely cruisin’ WordPress Boulevard – a little, ‘Hi, welcome to the Blogosphere.’ here – an occasional, ‘Nicely written.’ there. The next thing I knew, It’s Good To Be Crazy Sometimes had laid an award egg in this Cuckoo’s nest.  I’m gonna have to do some research.  With a blog-name like that, we may well be related.  Thanx, IGTBCS!

The Champions Award is a way of saying thank you to those readers and writers who go the extra mile in support of others. I know with this award we needn’t say anything special.

All my readers are Champions.

Rules: If you choose to accept this CHAMPIONS AWARDS, it’s simple. Post this Award Sticker on your blog. Use the hashtag #CHAMPIONSAWARDS, if, unlike me, you actually know how.

Acknowledge the sponsor of your Award. Choose at least five of your own nominees and advise them accordingly.(As usual – ain’t gonna happen – aren’t you lucky?)

Keep it simple… no need for explanations for the Awards… we know how great these folks are.

Payback’s a bitch. When I first started out blogging, there were about a half a dozen nice folks who went out of their way to help me shine up my self-esteem.  They all seem to be in protective custody now, or under Professional Care.  You guys know who you are.  It’s up to me alone to Deepthroat the story of the radiation leak at Three Miles Of Awards Island.

The pleasure I get from receiving this award, is that it shows that I’m far from the only one getting it. While there are some assholes and trolls, out and about, the Interwebz is basically full of nice folks.

If you’d like a copy of the shiny, gorgeous award above, they are available in the gift shop for 25 cents apiece, or 3/dollar.
(All applicable taxes, shipping and handling extra.  No deposit, no return.  Payment accepted in prepaid iTunes cards only. Return any defective merchandise directly to manufacturer.  All payments to be made to Billy Goat Gruff.)   😆

 

The Four Fun Fact Survey Tag

Bible

 

Despite me swearing on a stack of irrelevant Bibles that this is now an award-free site, Cordelia’s Mom found a loophole, and sneaked one in the back door.  We have to be careful about that; folks in Mississippi, and especially North Carolina, get upset about that sort of thing.

She tagged me with, what she and others, call a survey. Tag, I’m IT.  They want four facts about me.  Let’s see….  I’m grumpy (sometimes dopey, often sleepy), I’m old, I’m a dude….   Oh wait, they want fun facts.  Maybe I should just stick with the script.

Four names people call me other than my real name:

In my youth, I was occasionally called ‘Smitty.’ That didn’t last long.  I guess I just don’t look or act like a Smitty, although I’ve begun a new series of random-facts posts, titled Smitty’s Loose Change.

Now that I’m retired, and can be more selective, not having to deal with the madding crowd:
My blog-friends call me Archon.
My kids call me Dad.
My grandson calls me Poppa,
And the cats call me whenever they damn well feel like want food, drink, catnip, litter tray cleaned, skritches, cuddles or naps.

SDC10178

Four Jobs I’ve Had:

I was a bank clerk for about a year, until I discovered that banks were more regimented and less fun than the Army.
I was a Purchasing Agent/Materials Manager for a series of steel/metal processing firms.
I was a Sales Representative for a package courier company (just a small one, not like UPS or FedEx), and a safety supply company.
I gave up fame and fortune, and parked my brain at the door, for a (more or less) guaranteed 40 hours a week income, and worked cutting leather and nylon in a shoe/boot/slipper plant, and then made auto parts for almost 20 years.

In between, during periods of unemployment, I was a building custodian (janitor) for a couple of companies, and a Security Guard at a couple of hotels and an office building, for a couple more. For those interested, it’s all here, and here.

Four Movies I’ve Watched More Than Once:

I don’t remember ever watching any movie more than once at a theatre. I had a neighbor, who, like many others, boasted that he’d seen ‘Titanic’ eight times. Why??  The boat sinks.  Everybody dies!  Didn’t you get it the first seven times?

Any movie I watch more than once would have to fall into the mindless, action genre – any James Bond movie. I rewatched Diamonds Are Forever the other night – any Lethal Weapon.  I saw one of them (they’re indistinguishable-but fun) about a week ago – any Die Hard, Independence Day, Source Code.  I remembered and watched Tony Randall and Burl Ives in ‘The Brass Bottle’ on YouTube a while back.

Four Books Or Authors I’d Recommend:

I hesitate to recommend any book or author, because I don’t know anyone’s preferences, and they can be startling. I know guys who read Historical Romance, and women who devour blood and guts action novels.

From my own pile of unread books, I could mention Clive Cussler, Tom Clancy (now dead, but still being ghost-written by a couple of authors), Steve Perry and Lee Child.

From the Golden Age of Sci-Fi, I’d recommend Isaac Asimov, Robert Heinlein, Frederick Pohl, or John Brunner.

From the current Sci-Fi crop, I’d mention Eric Flint, David Weber, Charles Gannon and Travis S. Taylor.

Four Places I’ve Lived:

Having lived a relatively unexciting life, I’ve only resided in three municipalities. I was born and raised in the small (2000-) town of Southampton, Ontario.

Graduating high school, I moved 100 miles east, and lived in the small city of Barrie, ON for a year, until the bank and I parted company.

Since this is where the jobs were, I moved to the city of Kitchener, ON, arriving four days before my 21st birthday.  I’m now closing in on my 72nd birthday, so I’ve been here almost 51 years.  Ignoring the boarding house I started in, the wife and I have lived at only six addresses in our married life – all in Kitchener, none in own twin city, Waterloo.

Four Places I’ve Visited: 

With the wife’s inhalant allergies, we can’t fly, and are limited to places we can drive to. We’re not terribly well-to-do, so we travel very much on the cheap.  Still, we’ve seen a few places up and down the US eastern region.

Travelling with my brother, I was able to visit Tampa, Orlando, Key West and Kissimmee in Florida.
Vacationing with the wife, we’ve reached Richmond and Front Royal, VA, Myrtle Beach and Charleston, SC (A delicious, historical place!  Go there if you can.)
We went to Ottawa, ON and crossed the bridge to Hull, PQ.
We visited Cordelia’s Mom, in Buffalo for the first time, on our way to see lost blogger, John Erickson in the less-than-tiny village of Fresno, OH.

Using knife shows as an excuse, and shopping as a goal, we’ve also trekked all around metro Detroit. Under CM’s aegis, we are now beginning to do the same with metro Buffalo, with a rewarding side trip out to Batavia, NY.

Four Things I’d Rather Be Doing Right Now:

I find I very much enjoy blogging – composing, posting, reading, commenting, replying. I spend a serious amount of time in front of the computer.  Since I don’t know when you’ll get around to reading this, I don’t know what else I might have drifted off to do.  I have three novels on the go. (Short attention span.)  I read a daily broadsheet, and a tabloid-style newspaper.  I might be doing a crossword in either of them, or wafted my way back to the keyboard to do one online.

Four foods I don’t like:

I tried to act picky as a child, but a Scottish mother, fresh from the Great Depression and World War II soon put an end to that. I have problems with fat and gristle in my mouth.  I will gag and throw up.  I eat things like chicken breasts and the inner medallions of pork chops and steaks.

I’d have starved to death in ancient times, or learned to fight the livestock for beans and turnips. Since getting married, I’ve learned to like sauerkraut, broccoli and Brussels sprouts.

Four of my favorite foods: 

So many choices – so little space! Anything Tex-Mex….tomato, cheese, guacamole, sour cream, chili powder.  Potato pancakes – filet mignon – thick oatmeal. (I am Scottish after all.)

Four Shows I Watch: 

Being the Most Interesting Man In The World, I don’t always have time to watch TV, but when I do;
I watch the NCIS trio. ‘New Orleans’ is more interesting than ‘LA’, and I could live without either, but the original version is just so valid.
I also watch ‘Castle’, which has now been cancelled, ‘Elementary’, which also seems to have come to an end, and ‘Bones’, which is getting creaky and hokey.

Four Things I’m Looking Forward To This Year:

  1. Still viewing the sod from the green side at the end of the year. It’ll be covered with snow, but…
  2. We’ve purchased our last car; the next one’s on the son. Actually, it’s a Kia Sorento sport-ute, which the wife and daughter don’t have to get down into, and up out of. With reliable transportation, we hope to get to Detroit at least once for a shopping trip, and to Buffalo, for a CM-guided tour of the zoo.
  3. If the value of the Canadian dollar rises a bit more, I’d like to travel to the Washington, DC area, and convince another favorite blogger to grant a short meet and greet, before moving on into the Appalachians for one last commune with nature.
  4. Damn, I’m boring, no aspirations, no inspiration. Anybody got suggestions?

Four Things I’m Always Saying: 

  1. What do I take out of the freezer, to thaw for tomorrow’s supper?
  2. What’s a six-letter word for….
  3. Are we there yet?
  4. I am probably as happy as you, to finally be to the end of this list, but thanx, to those who’ve waded through it, and special thanx to CM for allowing me a chance to humorously rewrite War And Peace.

 

 

Attack

Arrow

I was recently assaulted. It’s my own inattentive fault.  I was blithely, blindly blundering around the blogosphere, trying to catch up on my reading and commenting, when I discovered that Cordelia’s Mom had used a trebuchet to launch another Versatile Blogger award over Niagara Falls at me.

versatileblogger113

I am always happy for any attention that doesn’t involve blue uniforms and arrest or search warrants. I hate to have to keep wiping my hard drive.  I sincerely thank CM for getting this award to me before Trump gets elected and puts up that big wall between us.

As usual, there’s a whole buncha rules.

If you are nominated, you’ve been awarded the Versatile Blogger award.

  •  Thank the person who gave you this award. That’s common courtesy.
  •  Include a link to their blog. That’s also common courtesy — if you can figure out how to do it.
  •  Next, select 15 blogs/bloggers that you’ve recently discovered or follow regularly. (I would add, pick blogs or bloggers that are excellent!)
  •  Nominate those 15 bloggers for the Versatile Blogger Award — you might include a link to this site.
  •  Finally, tell the person who nominated you 7 things about yourself.

As usual, G.O.D.’s (Grumpy Old Dude) rules supersede any silly WordPress rules, so I’m just gonna do whatever I want – but you already knew that, din’t ya??

I thanked CM for this honor, because, as a rule, I’m commonly courteous, even when I’m ignoring the rules. Secondly, I linked to CM’s beauteous blogsite (Quick, check above. I did link didn’t I? I didn’t have an[other] Alzheimer’s moment, did I?) because I’m not commonly courteous; I’m outstandingly courteous.

Next comes the sh….stuff I plan to ignore, nominations.

For various reasons, some bloggers don’t want to be bothered with blog awards, so for them, I won’t nominate them. For the other bloggers who get a kick out of a bit of recognition, there are still many to spread the joy. My not nominating anyone only means that the Universe will die the entropy death one second later.

Now comes the hardest part. Rule #5 says I have to tell the person who nominated me (i.e. Cordelia’s Mom), seven things about myself. That actually means to tell any readers. Between reading each other’s posts, comments and replies, emails, and even a couple of personal meet-and-greets, CM knows pretty much everything about me except the first name of my parole officer – (Herbert, BTW).  I’ll try.

  1. Recent insight has revealed that my lifelong lonership, my lack of friends, may stem from my thundering need for freedom and independence. That may have something to do with my Scottish ancestry. If you can show me a different, better way, I may adopt it, but I will not blindly, unquestioningly, believe and follow, whether religion, politics, sports, automakers or Kardashians, simply to ‘fit in.’ After almost 50 years of marriage, the wife still occasionally says something like, “I’ve tried to change him, but he’s just stubborn.”
  2. I do odd things with containers. Small bottles, like medicines or spice jars, I open with one hand – the left. I hold them against my palm with the third and fourth fingers, and either flip lids, or wind off screw-tops with my thumb and forefinger. I can usually put the lids back on that way too. Could I be on America’s Got Talent?
  3. Larger containers I often open by holding the top with my left hand, and turning the jar/bottle underneath it on a counter with my right. I (almost) never have a lid go flying away, to land on the cat hair floor. Can I now expect a home visit from a traveling psychologist?
  4. I couldn’t juggle if you held a gun to my head but, when moving an object from one hand to the other, I often throw/toss it – left to right, right to left – it’s only a foot or so. Exceptions include sharp knives, open drink containers, and cats. S6300243
  5. I’m not quite OCD about it, but I often count things. There are 14 steps in each stair flight in the house. When going downstairs with an armload of groceries, I’m never surprised to find that there’s another step, or almost as bad, I go to step down one more time, and there isn’t. When watering a cat from a faucet, I don’t look at a clock, I count the ticks. 60 clicks? – He’s done!
  6. Despite my singularity-ness, I truly, honestly care about people, especially the little people, the underdogs. Sadly, my physical and fiscal limitations often restrict what I can do to help others. The only folks I hate are liars, bullies and assholes. They cut into my charity work by about 90%!
  7. CM was the first fellow-blogger I had a real, live meet-and-greet with, even as I was on my way to rescue yet another blogger, lost in the wilds of Ohio, as Paul Curran recently was in Ottawa. We repeated the feat, each with a change of partners. I note that she’s hatching plots to get even more bloggers together. I hope she’s still keeping me in mind (probably ‘way back at the back).

No nominations – no list of worthy bloggers??! I’m done here.  Insert thunderous applause!

White Lady Tribute – To And From

One of the presents I received for my birthday last year, was a very creative, satirical poem from White Lady In The Hood, a lovely blogger who is, hopefully temporarily, no longer on the scene.

I’m not sure who or how many got to read it, so I am publishing it this year as a separate post. Here’s her glimpse of who Archon is.  What do you think of it?

 

Tale of the Great Northern Knight

He loosened his pants and girded his loins

for battle he did prepare

He grabbed up his sword and mounted his horse

to defend his queen so fair

Whilst traveling through the land of Kitchener

he gave no heed to danger

For he had the gift of words and prose

and never met a stranger

His fated path crossed Ranty Knight

to which he doth did hail

Archon rambled on and on

(and on )

a great and many tale

Though humble and honest the Knight did speak

twas the day of his creation

Ranty cried out, “Awesomesauce Man!”

tis cause for a great celebration

Pillage these wenches – steal all the bacon

‘tap us a fine keg of ale

I’m of the order of a Free Thinking man

(which means, “Bet your ass we will”)

So feasts were brought forth, a rare coin for a gift

ensuing tales about bravery

Archon was happy on this mighty fine day and

ate a big bowl of taters n gravy

(with cheese curds on top)

****

 

Enthusiasm

cmsaward1

 

Since there’s never enough blog awards to go around, one of our number has graciously created yet another one to be shared.  Cordelia’s Mom felt that there should be a badge to acknowledge visits and comments (to her site), so she produced the Enthusiasm Award.  Only posting for about six months, she’s obviously more computer-savvy than me.  I only things I’ve created are chaos and confusion.

She and I both use a “That’s Life” tag regularly.  Whenever I check WordPress to “See what others are writing about,” I often find the most recent of her cute posts.  If you’ve still got a bit of free time, and don’t mind explaining to the nice officer what you’re doing, peering over the blog-fence, click on the link above and possibly be entranced and entertained.

Talk about no good deed going unpunished….  I would occasionally drop in and leave some erudite comments.  The next thing I know, she’s gone all Fatal Attraction on me and I’m on “A List!”  “Also known as – known to police – may be unarmed and dumber than advertised – known associates, Tickle Me Elmo and Bart Simpson.”

Her inspiration for this award was a comment she received on an early post, within five minutes of putting it up.  I’ve never had one that quickly.  I did get a response within fifteen minutes one night, from one of my semi-regulars.  While I am often up (and sometimes posting) at unreasonable hours, he is afflicted with a medical condition similar to the wife’s Fibromyalgia.  The only reason I got a quick response was because he couldn’t sleep.  After reading my stuff, he quickly dozed off.

About two years ago, I received the similar Readers Appreciation Award, for making too free with my opinions.  Taking inspiration from Cordelia’s Mom, I am not notifying any of my victims.  Those who show up here, find their name garishly displayed, and wish to partake of a tiny slice of the Fifteen Minutes of Fame – grab a copy, and go Do Unto Others.  Those who just took the blue pill and woke up here, are also welcome to indulge – don’t say I didn’t warn you.  It would be nice if you also linked back to her site, and told her what you’ve done.

Randomly listed, here are a few visitors who still take the time to make this site enjoyable.

BrainRants – Who has moved beyond the event horizon to use his intensive training in PowerPoint, to make the Free World safe.

John Erickson @ Windy City Wonderer – Now that I’ve bragged about you, come out of hibernation and take a bow.

BenzeKnees – With more ailments than even my wife, she still has time to tell me what she thinks.

Always a Redhead – How can you not respect a woman who loves guns and knives?

Ted @ SightsNBytes – Even busy getting (re)married, he wants me to row out to his Rock, for some cod tongues and screech.

1Jaded1 – Moved to Erickson’s Windy City, and is now living in Al Capone’s empty vault.

Jim Wheeler – If you want someone to explain what *erudite* means, Jim’s your man.

Notes to Ponder – Has to push her comments uphill, all the way from the Left Coast, but still regularly shows up.

White Lady in the Hood – Just a (Very!) honorable mention.  She’s a bit busy right now for posting or commenting, although, occasionally I feel a nice warm “Like.”

Let the niceness begin!