A LARGE DROP IN THE BUCKET

Hero

I am agog – not to be confused with a fool, a nerd, or a nosy parker – although I’ve successfully been all of those. I have been within 8 feet of Queen Elizabeth.  I have seen and touched Her Royal Yacht, Britannia, when it put into the harbor at my home town for fuel.  I had a brief, 5-second conversation with the singer, Roger Whittaker, and I got a hug, and a kiss on the cheek, from the female Canadian Minister of the Exterior.

These all pale into insignificance. I recently got an invitation from BrainRants, to come and visit him and his wife this summer.  Actually, all that happened was that he made a casual inquiry as to whether the wife and I intended to be in his area this year, and when – but I’m treating it like a Royal Summons, and it snowballed from there. I’m So Excited (click to hear the Pointer Sisters tell you how much)

He’s the one responsible for unleashing me on an unsuspecting blogosphere, but don’t blame him for that. He was distracted at the time with saving the world and the American Way Of Life.  It was the Law of Unintended Consequences.

A couple of years ago, when we were doing the ‘Doctor Ericson, I presume’ tour, I asked if we might drive down for a quick visit.  Rants was preoccupied with a son going off to college, and a few other pressing domestic situations, and said ‘no,’ but not necessarily “NO” forever.

Last fall, I asked again about the possibility of an eventual visit, just to know whether or not to remove it from my bucket list. Rants took this as an indication that I wanted it to happen soon.  Apparently not a lot of people make plans years ahead, especially old geezers like me.  It’s happening sooner than I anticipated.  Rants and his lovely wife are welcoming us this summer.  Not only are we visiting, but we are being put up in a guest room to save motel costs –and, Rants is booking some well-earned and needed vacation time to be with us for several days.

I asked if it was some kind of competition between him and his wife to be nice to us, but apparently this is what kind, intelligent, generous people do. Aside from visiting my parents for weekends while they were alive, I have never been a house-guest in my life. Dear Miss Etta Kett; How do I conduct myself??

It is well that the wife’s birthday is in mid-Feb. This year she had to renew her Ontario Health Card, and her driver’s licence. One of three photo ID options recommended to do this, is a passport.  When I dug hers out and she was transferring information, she realized that both our passports had expired.

Apparently the bureaucrats do not send an email renewal reminder, and since we didn’t travel outside the Province last year, we had not noticed. It would have been a catastrophe to make all these delicious plans, and be turned back at the border for incomplete documents.  We had the time to get them reissued.

I am so giddy that I’m twirling around the house like a little pixie….or maybe a wolverine on meth. We’re going to Rants’! We’re going to Rants’ I’m taking along our digital camera, but there’s no promise that any photos will show up here on the blog-site.  I’ve already had to sign a non-disclosure security document, and a black helicopter will pick us up at the Virginia Welcome Center.

Surprisingly, the wife warmed to the idea quite quickly, to the point that, if we can’t put aside enough to pay for the trip in the next couple of months, she’s willing to raid her cache of Loonies and Toonies coins that she’s been stashing away for years.

If she’s warm now, just wait and see how warm DC is in August. We may drive past the White House, the Washington Monument, and the Pentagon in an air-conditioned car, but this visit is all about meeting two people who have been so very nice to me for years.  We can do that with a shady back deck and some cold beer.

More to come, I will reveal all as much as I can.  Be happy for me….and maybe a little jealous.   😎  🌯

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The Queen’s English

Queen

The Queen’s English.
Yes, I’ve heard that about her!  😆

If only more of the English people would speak the English language. Some of them think that, if a word is good enough to be said once, it should be slightly changed and said twice.  Sometimes this doubling-up is done to emphasize the meaning, but I am sure that sometimes it is done just to confuse those who don’t speak the local dialect.

It has brought us a bunch of word-pairs like; holus-bolus, okie-dokie, hurdy-gurdy, hunky-dory, hurly-burly, lovey-dovey, argy-bargy, hinky-dinky, rinky-dinky, hanky-panky, razzle-dazzle, willy-nilly, fuzzy-wuzzy, namby-pamby, itsy-bitsy, (t)eensy-weensy, (t)eeny-weeny, higgledy-piggledy, mumbo-jumbo, roly-poly, and tittle-tattle.

Cuckoo Clock

Why ‘Tock-Tick’ does not sound right, to your ear

Have you ever wondered why we say tick-tock, not tock-tick, or ding-dong, not dong-ding; King Kong, not Kong King?  It turns out that it is one of the unwritten rules of English that native speakers know, without even knowing.

The rule, explains a BBC article, is; “If there are three words, then the order has to go I, A, O. If there are two words, then the first is I, and the second is either A or O.”  Mish-mash, chit-chat, dilly-dally, shilly-shally, tip top, hip-hop, flip-flop, Tic Tac, sing-song, ding-dong, King Kong, ping-pong.

There’s another unwritten rule at work in the name Little Red Riding Hood, says the article. Articles in English absolutely have to be in this order: opinion, size, age, color, origin, material, purpose, noun.  So, you can have a lovely, little, old, rectangular, green, French, silver, whittling knife.  If you tamper with that word order in the slightest, you sound like a maniac.

That explains why we say “little green men”, and not “green little men,” but “Big Bad Wolf” sounds like a gross violation of the “opinion (bad)- size (big)- noun (wolf) order. It isn’t though, if you recall the first rule about the I-A-O order.

That rule seems inviolable. “All four of a horse’s feet make exactly the same sound, but we always say clip-clop, never clop-clip.”  This rule even has a technical name, if you care to know about it – the rule of ablaut reduplication – but then life is simpler knowing that we know the rule, without knowing it.

Play it by ear.
If a word sequence sounds wrong, it probably is wrong.

Ish Kabibble

Queen

During one of my many trips to London, I became
friends with a very wealthy, yet very modest,
Jewish chap named Hyman Goldfarb. On one visit,
Hy told me that because of his large donations to
charities through the years, the queen wanted to
knight him, but he was going to turn it down.

“That’s a great honor,” I said. “Why would you
turn it down?”

“Because during the ceremony you have to say
something in Latin,” he said. “And I don’t wish
to bother studying Latin just for that.”

“So say something in Hebrew. The queen wouldn’t
know the difference.”

“Brilliant,” Hy complimented me, “but what should
I say?”

“Remember that question the son asks the father
on the first night of Passover? … ‘Why is this
night different from all other nights?’ Can you
say that in Hebrew?”

“Of course,” he said. “Ma nishtana ha leila
hazeh. Thank you, old sport, I shall become a
knight.”

At the ceremony Hy waited his turn while several
of the other honorees went before the queen.
Finally they called his name. He knelt before
Her Majesty, she placed her sword on one shoulder
and then on the other, and motioned for Hy to speak.

Out came “Ma nishtana ha leila hazeh.”

The queen turned to her husband and said, “Why is
this knight different from all other knights?”

***

Did you ever stop to think – and forget to start again?

***

Why do men fart more than women?
Because women don’t shut up long enough to build up pressure.

***

A customer walks into a pharmacy and asks an
assistant for an anal deodorant. The assistant
explains that they don’t stock them. The man
insists that he bought his last one from this
store. The assistant refers the man to the
pharmacist, who explains that store has never
stocked such an item. The man explains he bought
his last one from this store only weeks ago and
has done for several years. The pharmacist asks
man to bring in his last purchase and he will try
to match the product.

The following day, the man returns to the
pharmacy and shows the deodorant to the
pharmacist. The pharmacist asks why the customer
thinks this is an anal deodorant, when it is
obviously of the underarm stick variety.

The customer explains that instructions on
the back state, “Push up bottom to use.”

***

I often wonder: What do people mean when they say,
“The computer went down on me?”  😯

 

Confusion, Profusion, Collusion

The old man stared bemusedly out his windows, at the expanse of his lawns and gardens, vainly trying to remember just what all happened.  It looked like a massacre out there, the aftermath of The Battle of Agincourt.  Bodies and clothing were strewn everywhere.  There were food platters, and drink containers.  (sniff)  And was there still a whiff of that delightful herbal muscle relaxant in the air?

He vaguely recalled singing and dancing.  Well, he hadn’t sung and danced, he was far too regal and restrained to do that, but his guests had.  The revellers had revelled, and the troubadours had troubed, making sweet music.  Was that a lute on his lawn?  And over there, proud in its Stewart tartan, but looking bedraggled as only an unused one can, was a deflated set of bagpipes, the skirl of which still rang in his ears and in his soul.  It was lying beside a guy in a plaid skirt, with skinny white legs and knobby knees.  Had they let Erickson across the border?

He had sat on a raised dais, beatifically nodding his head and doing that foppish hand-wave thing that Queen Lizzy the Twoth had taught him.  Presents were presented to him.  Epic poems of his purity and honor were declaimed.  High praises of him were sung out far and wide, and a good time was had by all!  He had certainly had a good time, and he hoped – thought all his honored guests had too.

Some careless partiers had kicked away a few of the supports of his grumpy old curmudgeon facade, but he could quickly fix that, by putting up a couple of ranty posts.  All in all, his many talented friends had combined to give him a most pleasant and enjoyable day. Hell, if he thought he could swing another party like that next year, he might even agree to turn 70.

*

*

*

A heartfelt thank you to one and all, for making yesterday a wonderful and memorable celebration.   😀

Yay! Olympics!

When I was about eight years old, my father bought a camper-trailer.  Unlike today’s lightweight units, this one was built like a small shed, heavy as sin.  Being trailering tyros, we took along four full-sized concrete blocks to support the corners.  Thank something, that the days of heavy, powerful cars were not past.  I don’t know how we pulled that monster, but from then till I was 14, we went somewhere every summer.

I need to clean out the paint locker at the back of my mind and offer up another story of how a small-town boy had his horizons widened a bit.  In the meantime, this story isn’t about a trip.  It’s about who we saw when our trip was interrupted.

This was the summer of 1953, or ’54.  We had been camping here and there for almost two weeks.  We were moving from north to south, somewhere just east of Toronto.  We almost reached a main east/west highway and were stopped by a Provincial Police officer.  He told us we’d have to go back and around another way, or find a place to park at the side of the road until “She” went through.  She, who??  Queen Elizabeth, of course!  He took pity on a family of campers, and told us how to get down to the little city ahead, and where to park, but insisted that we could not cross the main road until after the parade.

We followed his directions, and decided that, if we were stranded, we might as well get a vantage-point on the sidewalk.  Mom and Dad piled up at the back of the crowd.  Mom was 4’ 11”, I don’t know if she saw anything.  Dad was 6’, he might have.  I was about eight or nine.  I just insinuated myself through the crush until I was right down front.  The crowd ran right to the curb, and wasn’t allowing any room, even for a little kid, so I just stepped off the curb and stood in front.  As the Queen and Prince Philip rolled regally through town, I was only eight feet away from her.  Big F…..ng Deal!  Can we get back to camping now?

It happened again last Friday night.  The wife and I went down to the Rec room, to watch Jay Leno, and there was that damned woman interrupting my planned enjoyment again.  The Tonight show was delayed by an hour for a broadcast of the opening of the Olympic Games.  Well, it wasn’t just her.  I got to see David Beckham, a man who makes his living on dry land, row his boat up the Thames and pass off a fancy cigarette lighter to some other guy, who gave it to a passel of pre-teen arsonists, who managed to start a big fire on the ground.

Get the feeling I’m none too impressed, yet??  How observant!  Actually, as shows go, it was a decent show.  The pacing fireworks as Bend-it’s boat raced up the river, how the individual copper leaves on the ground rose on gas-pipes, to amalgamate and form the Cauldron, the fireworks that went off after the flame was lit, all of these were grand theater.  At least they went off in a timed display, not like San Diego’s 10-second, Fourth of July, boom and fizzle.  But theater was all it was.  Bread and circuses for the masses.  Proof of this is the fact that responsibility for the show was given to a Hollywood director.

Owned, sponsored and controlled by multi-national corporations, it reminded me of the movie Demolition Man.  Do you know that attendees’ clothing style was restricted and controlled?  If you were wearing a tee-shirt mentioning Pepsi-Cola, you would be prevented from entering, because Coca-Cola bought all soft-drink promotional rights?

Perhaps it’s because I learned early that I can’t compete, but I’ve always been more of a fan of co-operation.  For every competition, there’s only one winner, and all the rest of 203 countries, are just a bunch of losers.  It’s all just a feel-good societal ego sop.  Millions of dollars poured into each country’s athletes’ training and transportation.  Tens, perhaps hundreds of thousands of hours spent training for this soap opera, and when it’s all over, even if “we” garner a few fake medals, not a job has been created, our GNP has not increased, nor the national debt reduced, and banks still need bailing.

Us vs. Them prevails.  Tribalist chest thumping.  I wouldn’t be so cynical if people watched simply to see top-level athletic performance.  They’ll tell you that’s why they watch, but, the same folks who haven’t even driven past a swimming pool in the last four years, are suddenly experts on synchronized three-meter diving.

These games are supposed to promote international fellowship but their very competitive format prevents it.  It all boils down to, “Our team doctor is better at masking performance-enhancing drugs than your team doctor.”

Some of the “sports” that are getting in are just ridiculous.  One person synchronized swimming?  I could send over a dictionary so they can look up the meaning of synchronized.  And the little girls running around on gym mats, waving sticks with ribbons on them??!  Are they just so chi-chi that they got kicked out of drum-majorette school?  Trampoline?!  I thought the kids down the street were just playing.  Good Lord, what’s next, Tiddly-Winks and pie baking?

Ah well, it is the middle of the summer, and there’s almost nothing else on television.  Everyone can watch what they want but, I don’t watch chick-flicks.  If I watch something by a big movie director, it better have some adult language, rock-‘em-sock-‘em Kung Fu action, car chases, explosions, and maybe a little gratuitous nudity in it.  Why is Victoria fully clothed??!

I’ve kept my eyes tightly closed for a week now.  It’s half-way over.  Soon I won’t have to worry about this meaningless display for another four years.  What’s that??  What Winter Olympics in two years??  Will it include competitive Sno-Cone Serving?  Where’s a good movie when I need one?

Excitement Unexpected

 

versatile-blogger2

I may have to borrow BrainRants’ Thai hot-sauce.  My life is beginning to acquire some taste and flair.  T’was not always thus.  My life has been uninterestingly, go to work, come home, eat, watch some TV, repeat, repeat, repeat, for years.  That’s the way my medical providers and I have wanted it.  I have raised lowered bland to new depths.  If boring were an Olympic sport, I’d be at the top of the podium, wrapping the gold medal around my neck, while the guy with the drying paint watched the other guy’s grass grow.  There’s a Chinese curse, May you live in interesting times.  Between my hopefully now defunct eyesight drama, and the ever-growing blogosphere adventure, this has been an Interesting six months.

Wow!  Lightning struck three times on the same day.  Well, actually, it was more like the static sparks you get when you scuff your feet on the carpet and touch a doorknob, but they impressed the Hell out of me.  I have a very low tolerance.  First, LadyRyl read one of my pieces out loud to two of her gal friends.  One of them was sufficiently impressed that she wished to follow me, so LadyRyl posted a link to my site on her Facebook page.  Exposure like that might get me two, maybe three more potential readers.

Next, I got my Jerry Seinfeld piece reblogged.  Abauerporsche is a blog from a small Porsche dealer/repair shop in Oakland, California.  I would have thought that a lot full of Porsches would be enough to generate interest, but somebody there sieves the internet and reposts four or five blogs a day.  They’re always about cars.  They’re almost always about Porsches and many of them contain photos of body lines and chromed turbochargers and races.  I didn’t see any search terms.  I don’t know how my site was reached, or why that particular packing case of verbiage was shoehorned in, but, I’ll take the exposure.  Now I have upscale readers to consider.  I can write for Intelligent, but I’m not sure I can write for Expensive.

And finally….KayJai couldn’t pass on that case of strep throat, so she inflicted me with my second case of Versatile Blogger.  I guess every blogger must have some degree of ego, or we wouldn’t be here.  I have a very small one.  That’s why KayJai could massage it and still be done in time to get home for lunch.  Ego!  Pay attention!  I feel like Sally Field, accepting the Oscar.  You love me!  You really love me!  Either that or, I’m being given something to do, to get me out of your hair for a couple of days.

You all know the rules.  If you don’t, look ‘em up.  It doesn’t matter.  I didn’t follow them the first time, and I’m not going to follow them even worse, this time.  I am going to proudly thank KayJai.  She is a strong, kind, intelligent blogger, whose writing I appreciate, and whose opinions I respect.  It is humbling to receive such recognition from a person like her.

Hmmm, seven things about me…?  Go back and read my first acceptance speech.  I feel that I, personally, am about as exciting as tapioca pudding, but, I keep my eyes and ears open, and interesting people and things have passed though my orbit.  I have been within ten feet of Queen Elizabeth.  The Second!  I’m old, but I’m not that old.  Twelve feet from Prince What’s-his-name.  I got a kiss on the cheek from the Secretary of State for External Affairs.  She was a woman, or at least, that’s what she told me.  And, I had a very brief conversation with (and some photos of) the singer, Roger Whittaker, dressed up as Don Quixote.

Blogs I wish to acknowledge….include the group I wrote about a month or so ago.  SavortheFolly is partly back, and much welcomed.  H E Ellis was also M.I.A., and sadly missed, but is now back, to den-mother us.  I continue to take baby steps and expand my circle of blogs-read.  Some I have liked, others, not so much.  Two I wish to add are; from a link on Rants’ site, TheByronicMan.  Intelligent and well written.  He has something to say, and says it well.  From a recommendation from the missing Hellis, TheHaremsMaster.  He drops the occasional clot of keystrokes.  Sometimes talks about himself, sometimes about politics or life in general.  Sometimes prints excerpts from, not one, but two books he’s simultaneously working on.  Damn!  Am I the only one not working on a book?  Well, there is that ever-growing pile of research notes that the Hermudgeon keeps urging me to deal with.  If you think I live on the tundra, visit Harem Master’s place.  He’s so far north; the only thing keeping him from falling off the top edge is the North Pole itself.  He gets his internet delivered by dogsled, and it takes him an hour to defrost it.

Another management seminar impressed how a group decision is almost always better than any single person’s.  In the short time I have been observing “my” group; I have seen the individuals teach each other, new, better, more creative ways of doing things and challenge the others to new styles and new heights.  Figuratively, I have graduated from Velcro runners, to tying my own laces and taking those baby steps.  But it’s time to stop all this shoulder patting.  Let’s get out there and impress someone.