The Best Laid Plans….

Sexy

I woke up today feeling marvelous!  I even impressed me.  I felt that I should publish a post so that I could inform others of my magnificence.

Planning

If I’m going to compose something to impress others, I need a plan. Think!  Think!….

Procrastinate

A plan is a great idea, but – the cats need kibble, the dog needs out, there’s a newspaper to be read, and a crossword to be done. The wife needs help with supper and dishes….

….

….and the sun has gone down, the moon is risen, and all my wonderfulness has faded into the darkness.

For those of you who may feel I have not put enough thought or effort into this post.

Photo0036

Ah well, perhaps tomorrow.   😎

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Op-Ed Joust

Op-Ed

During the recent Canadian Federal Election campaign, which threatened to become as long and strange as the American one, a failed municipal politician with very Liberal leanings had the following rant/letter about the Conservative Prime Minister published in the local paper.

A QUESTIONABLE TACTIC

I’m no fan of Stephen Harper. No surprise there.  But not withstanding my political leanings, I am deep disturbed that he is, by accounts, a five-question leader.

On a daily basis he has been limiting questions from the national media to four, and one from local media, with no follow-ups. I am unaware of any such limits by the other party leaders.

We are in the middle of a profoundly critical debate about Canada’s future, so we need to hear clear answers to the most difficult questions that face our country. But the person who wants us to continue to support him for four years is limiting reporters to a mere five questions a day.

My conclusions may be ungenerous, but I would call this hiding. Personally, I don’t think any of our leaders should be hiding behind arbitrary rules that limit our ability to ask tough questions of them every day of the campaign, and have them answer them thoroughly and comprehensively, so as to be transparent and accountable.

Perhaps, just perhaps, this limit of five is the most telling indicator of how accountable Harper really is and is prepared to be. Maybe not.

John Ryrie

Fortunately, a fresh shipment of snark had just arrived here at Grumps R Us, and I was able to provide him with the following.

 

ON THE JOB

In his, A Questionable Tactic letter of Oct. 14, John Ryrie may have missed a point because, like me, he’s an old fogy.

Today’s banal public media circus is all too full of inconsequential 140 character Kardashian Tweets and Instagram photos of someone’s lunch of baked beans.

By limiting the media to five questions, Harper is forcing them to focus and do their job.  They have to plan ahead and ask incisive questions, more relevant than, “What color socks are you wearing?” or, “Are you betting on the Blue Jays?”

Five serious questions per day should be enough.  This allows him to get on with the important job of governing the country, rather than stopping to feed the Info-tainment industry.

 

Grumpy Old Archon (as usual)

 

Things get strange during an election campaign, as the Americans continue to learn.  Media reporters, and Liberal opponents, feel they can just stop the Prime Minister and pump him for information so they can direct their counterattack.  He’s got two jobs.  One is to run a campaign.  The other is to run the country – until he was defeated (Sadly, in my opinion.)

Perhaps the other party leaders have the free time to kibitz with reporters.  That’s what the P.M.’s Media Office, and press releases are for.  I can hardly imagine, “President Obama, will we be bombing Palmyra?” or, “Pope Francis, are you going to sanctify gay marriage?”

Have you Americans got some odd election occurrences you’d like to make us Canucks aware of?

 

It’s Off To WORK We Go

Seven Dwarfs

A highly dangerous virus called “Weekly Overload Recreational Killer” (WORK) is currently going around. If you come in contact with this WORK virus, you should immediately go to the nearest “Biological Anxiety Relief” (BAR) center to take antidotes known as ” Work Isolating Neutralizer Extract” (WINE), “Radioactive UnWORK Medicine” (RUM), “Bothersome Employer Elimination Rebooter” (BEER) or “Vaccine Official Depression Killing Antigen” (VODKA). Please, inform everybody to raise awareness!

***

An English teacher was explaining to his students the concept of gender association in the English language.

He stated how hurricanes at one time were given feminine names and how ships and planes were usually referred to as “she”. One of the students raised their hand and asked “What gender is a computer”?

The teacher wasn’t certain which it was, so he divided the class into two groups, males in one, females in the other, and asked them to decide if a computer should be masculine or feminine. Both groups were asked to give four reasons for their recommendation. The group of women concluded that computers should be referred to in the masculine gender, for the following reasons:

  1. In order to get their attention, you have to turn them on.
  2. They have a lot of data but are still clueless.
  3. They are supposed to help you solve your problems, but half the time they cause the problem.
  4. As soon as you commit to one, you realize that if you had waited a little longer, you could have had a better model.

The men, on the other hand, decided that computers should definitely be referred to in the feminine gender for the following reasons:

  1. No one but their creator understands their internal logic.
  2. The native language they use to communicate with other computers is incomprehensible to everyone else.
  3. Even your smallest mistakes are stored in long-term memory for later retrieval.
  4. As soon as you make a commitment to one, you find yourself spending half your paycheck on accessories for it.

***

A woman was thinking about finding a pet to keep her company at home. She decided she would like to find a beautiful parrot; it wouldn’t be as much work as say, a dog, and it would be fun to hear it speak. She went to a pet shop and immediately spotted a large beautiful parrot. She went to the owner of the store and asked how much. The owner said it was 50 bucks. Delighted that such a rare looking and beautiful bird wasn’t more expensive, she agreed to buy it.

The owner looked at her and said, “Listen, I should tell you first that this bird used to live in a whorehouse. Sometimes it says pretty vulgar stuff.” The woman thought about this, but decided she had to have the bird. She said she would buy it anyway. The pet-shop owner sold her the bird and she took it home. She hung the bird’s cage up in her living room and waited for it to say something.

The bird looked around the room, then at her, and said, “New house, new madam.” The woman was a bit shocked at the implication, but then thought, “That’s not so bad.”

A couple hours later, the woman’s two teenage daughters returned from school. When they inspected the bird, it looked at them and said, “New house, new madam, new whores.” The girls and the woman were a bit offended at first, but then began to laugh about the situation.

A couple of hours later, the woman’s husband came home from work. The bird looked at him and said, “New house, new madam, new whores; same old faces. Hi George!”

***

Ad In The Paper

The local newspaper funeral notice telephone operator received a phone call. A woman on the other end asked, “How much do funeral notices cost?”

“$5.00 per word, Ma’am,” came the response. “Good, do you have a paper and pencil handy?” “Yes, Ma’am.” “OK, write this: ‘Fred dead.’” “I’m sorry, Ma’am; I forgot to tell you there’s a five-word minimum.” “Hmmph,” came the reply, “You certainly did forget to tell me that.” A moment of silence. “Got your pencil and paper?” “Yes, Ma’am.” “OK, print this: ‘Fred dead, Cadillac for sale.’”

#463

Minutia VI

I composed this post way back in the early fall, and tucked it away in a Word file.  Then I got distracted by the shiny 100-word Flash Fictions and failed to publish it.  Just pretend that it is still late October/early November, and you still have a cold, snowy winter ahead of you.  That way, this submission from the late Archon won’t seem as bad.   🙄

***

Everybody’s entitled to an opinion – so I’ll give you one of mine.  I have to get up earlier these days, just to have enough time to spread all of them around.

The voices in my head have decided that I’m imaginary.
I think paranoid people are following me.

My old eyes are still good enough to drive without glasses, but I do miss certain details.  Out driving with daughter LadyRyl the other day, I slowly overtook a motorcycle.  From a quarter-mile back, I knew there were too many wheels.  At first I thought it might be a Spyder motorcycle, which son, Shimoniac is considering buying. They have two widely-spaced wheels at the front, for greater stability.

Spyder

As I got closer, I thought it might be a trike motorcycle, with two wheels at the rear, for carrying an extra passenger, but I could now see a single rear wheel….yet still, more than two.

Trike

Perhaps he’s got a sidecar – but a sidecar would be on the right – and I can see a wheel to his left.

Sidecar

As we finally overtook him, daughter, LadyRyl, snapped this photo.  Here’s a big, tough Harley-Davidson biker – with training wheels!  I’ve never seen anything like this, and can’t think of any possible use for this set-up.  I’m going to stop in at a couple of bike shops and ask.  Any of you have an opinion??

Biker Dude

****

Cardinals (the birds) are almost as cautious and unseen as Blue Jays.  You hear them, but you very seldom see them.  A pair nests in the big pine trees near the daughter’s place.  This spring and summer they hatched and raised a batch of chicks, which are now ready to fly.  They’re not quite as skittish as the adults.  About to leave the daughter’s place recently, I noticed a fledgling in the Rose of Sharon bush right in front of her door.

She quickly grabbed up the camera, but, by the time she got in position, it had fluttered to the concrete.  Slowly, quietly, she edged to the door to get a shot….and just as she clicked the shutter, it took off.  I had hoped to submit it to the local paper, which prints cute wildlife photos each day.  This is more “artistic” than real life.  I hope you enjoy.  What do you think of it?

Baby Cardinal

Words

Dictionary

If I didn’t know that the English language has been around a bit longer than me, I might be convinced that we were born twins.  It has cocooned and cuddled and confused and comforted and confounded me since before I went to school.  We have played together since I began to read, before I was five.

I’m a bit of a dab hand with my commas and colons, and I know the difference between subjective and subjunctive.  Neither punctuation nor construction will help with comprehension though, if you don’t use the right words.  My love has always been with the words.  It is their small, strong bodies that we hook together to form phrases, clauses, sentences, paragraphs, and entire essays and books.

I am the contradiction to the expectation that ‘girls are good at language, boys are good at math’.  Words have been my constant companions my entire life.  They have bedeviled, bedazzled, befuddled, bewildered, bemused and bewitched me for years.  Especially doing three crossword puzzles a day, there is not a week, and often not a day that goes by, that I don’t learn another word, or a usage to one I thought I knew so well.

Chunter – to continuously complain, especially in a low voice
A good English/Scottish word, which I don’t recall ever hearing in my English/Scottish hometown.

Crossword puzzle builders often get a little loose or ‘creative’ with definitions.  “Prurient” means, having lascivious or lustful thoughts or desires.  Prurient interest is not “Sex”.  Sex is the subject of much prurient interest.  Sex is often the object also.

Ricer

Sometimes they seem to have no real knowledge of the words they use, especially with obsolete technology.  ‘Potato cutter’ does not equal ‘ricer’, which pushes cooked potatoes out through small holes.  The online dictionary gives sample sentences to illustrate context and meaning.

Arrange on remaining fourth of mound yolks chopped or forced through a potato ricer.
But that doesn’t mean that it can’t put out a ricer now and again, when it’s feeling froggy.
Fluffiest mashed potatoes may require that they be put through a potato ricer.

The first sentence’s meaning seems straightforward.  I don’t know what medications you’d have to be on to write the second.  Do you know what that means, from that context??  I don’t!  And sentence three simply shows how similar but different things are misidentified.

If you didn’t use a masher, the potatoes are not ‘mashed.’  If you used a ricer, they are riced potatoes.  I use a mixer, and my potatoes are ‘whipped.’  They all look and taste alike, but they got there down different roads.  A multi-colored arc or ring, seen through snow or rain while facing the sun is a sundog, not a rainbow, which is only seen while facing away from the sun.  I know, I’m the only one who cares.  🙄

I haven’t read any of the Hunger Games books, or seen the movies but, based on trailers and promotional photos, I’m pretty sure that Katniss Everdeen is not a “crossbow-wielding” heroine, as the Wachowski brother who is now a sister, seems to think.  (S)he probably also believes that David killed Goliath with a slingshot, built from an inner-tube off his chariot.

My subconscious often goes on little trips by itself, leaving the rest of my mind behind, a fact most regular readers are probably aware of.  When it returns, like a cat proudly presenting a dead mouse, many times it will drop a word for me to examine.

When I wake up in the morning, (actually, usually after noon) or when I’m in the kitchen, using the mixer to produce those whipped potatoes, I suddenly am aware of a word, usually English, but sometimes French, Spanish or German.  Most, I am familiar with the definition of.  Some need a little catching up, and some just send me straight to the dictionary program.  Now where did I run into that one??!  What’s the meaning of the name Hatcher?  Nothing to do with birds, they were gatekeepers.

I worked with a young woman in a shoe plant, who had delusions of ability in newspaper publishing.  When she heard of my affliction, she wanted me to share some of the more abstruse words, so that she could expand her vocabulary.  Each working day for over six months, I handed her a notepad sheet with three recent visitors – words like;
larrup – a Dutch import meaning ‘to thrash’
jocund – cheerful, merry, gay, blithe, glad
hoyden – a tomboy
Eleuthera – a Greek word meaning freedom, and the name of a Caribbean island
indolent – avoiding exertion, slothful, lazy
lagniappe – a small extra gift, like a complimentary restaurant salad
louche – dubious, shady, disreputable
mordant – biting, sharply caustic or sarcastic, as wit or a speaker

Each year, I publish a post in which I give a good larruping to the indolent writers, too lazy to learn one homophone from another.  “Moving to the back of the room, he found a laundry shoot.”  Is that like a skeet shoot?  Or a grouse shoot??  Laundry shoot??! It would explain the holes in my underwear.

I can barely change a light bulb, or a faucet washer.  The most useful thing I ever made from wood was campfire kindling, but words are my constant companions and tools.  They have inspired, infused, inflamed and informed me.  They weigh nothing.  They take up no storage room, and I can give them to others to use, and yet always keep them for myself.

Newfound Friendliness

newfoundland-map

 

 

<-  Ted’s house!

 

 

 

Monday Feb 16, 2015 was a statutory holiday in Ontario, called Family Day.  It’s relatively new, but long overdue.  Finally, something to get us from Christmas/New Years, through to Easter.  On Tuesday the 17th I went to my favorite nearby supermarket to pick up a copy of the Toronto Sun.

Dear Lord, have people forgotten how to shop ahead??  The store was only closed for one day.  I almost had to bring my own parking space.  Quite often I make 25¢ or 50¢ by neatening up the parking lot, putting away carts with quarters in them.  Not that day!  No carts in either of the cart corrals, but people lurking near them.  No carts in the entryway either, so I grabbed a basket.

Most of the shoppers were white-, or blue-haired.  Do they not remember back in the ‘80s, before we had Sunday opening?  Was toilet paper being rationed, or was there a sale on Polident and Depends?

This place was stuffed – just crammed with shoppers.  Folks were bumping into each other and edging carts past.  It was so full, that people going up the aisles could inhale, while those going down the aisles exhaled.

Besides the paper, I also wanted a small bag of fine sugar, and two dozen eggs.  With the help of a little fairy-dust, and my fancy dancing slippers, I circumnavigated the store in less than three minutes, and only got groped once.  Then I got around to the checkouts….backed up like an old guy eating cheese.  The waits were so long, I hope no-one ‘checked out’ before they checked out.

I headed for the express lane.  It was so busy that they had two of them open.  I entered the first line, and was ninth or tenth.  The curve of the lines put me beside a lady about my age, third from the front, in line number two.  Looking in my basket, she saw only the eggs, and insisted that I get in line in front of her.  I mentioned the paper and the sugar.  “Go ahead, go ahead!”  I don’t know what the nine or ten people behind her thought, but I snuggled in quickly, before anyone objected.

Her thoughtful niceness, along with her strong accent, suggested that she was from Newfoundland, Canada’s easternmost, island province, and just full of kind, helpful people.  When I asked, she confirmed my suspicion.  Then I got nosy and asked specifically where she was from.  “Stephenville.”  Newfoundlanders are generally open, friendly people.  They don’t mind when you ask questions and engage them in casual conversation.

I said, “Oh, I’ve got a blog-friend from Stephenville.”  I don’t think she quite caught, or grasped, the blog-friend’ concept, and seemed to think that I’d driven 1700 miles and taken a two-hour ferry ride, to drink ‘screech’ (high-alcohol, reclaimed rum).  The Rock, as it’s known, is a bit behind, technologically.  They didn’t get World-Standard 60 Hz electricity until the late 1950s, and their Internet is a large ball of twine and several empty tin cans.

To give credence to the rumor that “every Newfie knows every other Newfie”, she asked who he was.  “I might knows ‘im.”  I explained that “he” was Ted White from SightsNBytes, a highly proficient and entertaining writer.  “I knows a lotta Whites, but I don’t t’ink I knows a Ted White.”  Ted has explained that, in Newfoundland, or at least in his home town of Stephenville, (Pop. 6193) there are as many, or more, of ‘his’ Whites, as there are of ‘my’ Smiths.  His family inflated the numbers by changing their French name, LeBlanc, to the English, White.

My Newfie tour-guide, whose married name was Green, went on to tell me that, “D’ere’s even a street called Whites Avenue.  Fer a coupla blocks, d’ere’s nuttin’ but Whites, an’ d’ey’s all related ta each udder.”  Ted’s bunch are not related to that lot, because his group ate croissants and snails, before they sailed west to eat cod tongues and mussels.

This 60ish woman has been in Ontario for 20 years, but hasn’t lost that ‘Down Home’ sound and style of speech, because she spent her formative years, and more, down home on The Rock.  I find these speakers a delight to be around, much like the ”y’all” Southern speakers.  They are the salt of the Earth, possibly because they live surrounded by the salty ocean.  They would give the shirt off their back to a perfect stranger, if he needed it – or go next door and borrow one from the neighbor.

I would have loved to have partaken of more of her friendly sociability.  Because she put me ahead of herself, and several other shoppers, I was soon through the checkout and free to proceed with my errands.  Thanks Mrs. Green!  You were a delight.   😀

Supermarket Psychology

 

Sriacha Sauce

 

Nah, I’m not gonna talk about how stores get you to buy stuff.  This is more a report on the amateur sport of people watching.  Since I can’t get home delivery of the Toronto Sun, I go out for it Monday to Friday.  There are closer places to pick it up, but I go to a supermarket a mile down the road, because they sell it 50 cents/copy cheaper, as a loss leader.  It’s also the store which installed carts which require a quarter, and I often get the paper free, or nearly so, by putting carts away.

Since I usually have only the one item, I stand in the “Express Lane” checkout line.  This store’s express lines are 12 items or less.  Occasionally I have to remind a clerk or a customer of that.  I stood in another store’s “8 Items or less” line one day behind an entitled bitch who checked out 28 items, for just over $73.  I asked the clerk whether she had trouble counting, or just trouble saying no.  “Well, sometimes when it isn’t busy….”  “There’s me, and four others behind me, all with one or two items.  I think that counts as busy.  Do you need help from the manager??”

Watching people checking out whole cart-loads of groceries is no fun.  They buy everything.  (Almost!)  The fun comes from seeing the one or two items that people absolutely, positively, need, right now, and trying to guess why.  In my first post, I wrote of an older gentleman standing in line with a small bottle of Scope mouthwash, and a pack of Certs gum.  I still think my guess of a hot date that night was a good one.

The wife was going to brown a frozen pie shell, and fill it with instant pudding, as a dessert.  A check in the freezer revealed three boxes of frozen tart shells, but no pie shells.  Quick, over to the store for a package of pie shells – I can see that.  I understand bread, milk, eggs, meat – but some of the rest???!

A woman this week checked out only one tiny bottle of Frank’s Red-Hot Sauce.  I guess if hubby expects chili for supper, ya gotta do what ya gotta do.  A man the next day purchased seven (7!) small bottles of sliced olives.  Now why didn’t he buy one large jar??  Is it pizza day at school tomorrow?  So many questions!  So many chances to be told to mind my own F…. business.

I followed a couple of women out late one Friday afternoon.  I thought they might be more than just friends.  Not that there’s anything wrong with that.  I was disabused of my suspicion, when the manlier of the two told her companion that one of the women she worked with, hoped the same thing.  She’d had to explain that, “No, no!  I don’t like girls.  I like guys.”

I thought of KayJai, and her parties.  Each of these gals checked out two 3-liter/quart jugs of Motts Caesar Mix.  The liquor store is just across the plaza.  A 40-ouncer of cheap Vodka apiece, and it’s on to a weekend to forget.

Just yesterday, a shopper left with two, liter bottles of hydrogen peroxide.  Somebody’s going blonde tonight.  I hope it’s somebody’s girlfriend, not the dark Chicano guy who bought them.  A 9-year-old boy, all by himself, checked out behind him with 9 individual Michelina frozen fettuccini meals.  Where are Mom and Dad?  Gone away for the weekend?  Or is the scout troop coming over?

A couple of the clerks are people-watchers like me, and are absolutely mesmerized by the stuff people rush in to pick up.  It’s like a floor-show, without the $8 cover charge and two drink minimum, although one clerk told me there are days she’d pay the eight bucks, and need the drinks.  Sometimes the combinations are, to say the least, intriguing.  One can of tomato paste, and a jug of drain cleaner – Hmmm, is hubby going to make it to tomorrow??

I hope that’s for a Boy Scout baking project.  Otherwise, how many kids do you have in your house, that you need four large boxes of Corn Flakes at three in the afternoon?  Shouldn’t you be buying milk with that?  A chocolate cake, and two mousetraps??  Just what are you trying to catch, hubby stealing a slice?

I was recently up unreasonably unusually early on a Saturday morning, to take the daughter and her friend to a strawberry festival to market their wares.  I stopped into my preferred supermarket shortly after 8 AM opening, and wound up in line  with a bunch of old people.  Huh?  Whazzat?  Who, me too?

The old codger in front of me checked out a jug of orange juice, and a spray can of Pledge furniture polish.  That dust can really sneak up on you.  The white-haired winner behind me had a round loaf of Portuguese bread, and what looked like a small slab of Feta cheese.

Ever nosy tactful, I asked, “Is that breakfast?”  “Oh yes!  Toast and cheese.”  Oh, great, something else to look forward to, not being able to think about things like eating, until hunger pangs hit.  Then they all go to the McDonalds across the street, and nurse a coffee till lunch time.  People-watching is fun.  Just ask the folks who watch me.