Friday, April 29, 2011

Finally, the wedding is here

I wasn't sure whether to wear my morning jacket or my uniform. Decisions, decisions.

The big day has finally arrived. I want to take this last opportunity to chastise all of you who pretended not to care, who pretended to be above it all; all of you who blogged so cynically, and some of you who thought not blogging at all about the wedding would prove you were unconcerned.

You know who you are.

As for me, the sight of the tent people camping out on the sidewalk outside Westminster Abbey, the excitement of the souvenir coffee mug vendors, the thought of catching a glimpse of the awesome carriages, or of the royal couple, or... of Sir Elton John himself, for that matter, sends chills up my quadruped spine, and I don't mind admitting it.

I have learned so much these past few weeks. Not just how to curtsey, but of the hidden value of the monarchy itself, value many of you scoffroyals will never understand. But I, A LOWLY AMERICAN, have grasped the significance of this event and of the long grey line of the succession. If I may say.

So, His Princeliness is marrying a commoner. Never been done before, they say. Marrying out of his own class, they say. Out of his own class? Hell, some say his father recently married out of his own species, fer crissakes. But Kate's a thoroughbred, make no mistake, laddie.

I pray you will come to your collective senses before it is too late.

And to the newlyweds, I say cheers. Godspeed. May you live a hundred years and my you reign a hundred more.

And may I live to see your successor.

Thursday, April 21, 2011

10 ways to facilitate clutter

Some people like to collect things. Some people have even achieved pack rat status. The better people, I mean. I myself am an expert (at the top of the heap, you might say) and feel I am now ready to start giving advice on the subject. If you have an open mind, I can train you to rid yourself of that terrible minimalist habit that keeps your home looking so ::shudder:: neat and clean.

Feel free to let me know any other things you have discovered. I'll make a note of it and file it away. Disclaimer: Although I do a lot of these things, the basics were actually found on other blogs. But I embellished them. Honed them. Made them better. Some of them I actually authored, too. They are not in any particular order. As I write this on the fly, I don't know how many items will be on the list. I hope the list doesn't end up being ten things though, like the title says. I shouldn't have named this post that, but I am too lazy to change the title now. I hate lists of 10 items. They are of the devil.

1. Save every issue of every magazine you buy or subscribe to. They will be useful for the articles and recipes one day. Professional clutter facilitators will also keep all old catalogs. Those who have been at this for several years also know the value of keeping old telephone books in case they ever want to find the previous telephone number of someone who has since moved away. Keeping entire old newspapers which have items on, or even pictures of, people who you know, which we mean to someday cut out and save, is probably safer than simply cutting out the articles anyway.

2. When you find a useless item on sale which you will never use, be sure to buy two of them because of the good price.

3. When you must replace a broken appliance, be sure and keep the old broken one and its parts. It is pretty likely that some day you will get that engineering degree and be able to make the old one magically work again. Also, you'd be a fool to discard those extra little screws and plastic covers that came in the bag with that bookcase you assembled last summer.

4. If you are cleaning the spare bedroom (and we don't recommend that you do) and you come across something brand new you forgot you bought but never used, do NOT donate the object to someone who could use it. After all, you paid good money for it, right? Same goes for old useless Christmas gifts you find under the bed. After all, SOMEBODY paid good money for that, right?

5. That big box of glass bud vases and plastic lids and empty cereal boxes under the stairs. Please don't throw them out, because you can recycle all of those. Just not now. In addition to those things, experts at maintaining household clutter know that empty bread bags, used twist ties, and the rubber bands the paperboy puts on your daily newspaper are the spice of life. Devote at least one kitchen drawer to these things. 'Nuff said.

6. It's always better to be safe than sorry, so save every bill you have ever received in your life. DO put them neatly into shoe boxes with the date range written on the boxes. Just don't store all the boxes in the same place. Old tax returns and parking garage receipts? I don't have to tell you to save those forever. Again, store some in each closet.

7. Every piece of hardware you've ever touched, new or used, even the hinges from that bathroom door in your first apartment, need to be kept in a LARGE WOODEN BOX in a corner of the garage. It's ok to put other stuff on top of that box, though. Further organization of the hardware is pointless.

8. Are you a digital photographer? Who isn't. Put all your precious printed photos into a box, so that it will be handy to go through all of them when you want to find a particular picture. When the box gets full, put it into a larger box. Continue until you need a hand cart to move the box.

9. Savvy people buy clothes in the size they WANT to be.

10. It would be sacrilege if you were to throw away any of your children's or grandchildren's schoolwork from second grade, or any of the pictures they drew and gave to you.

11. Smart pet owners buy pet food in bulk quantities. You should too. Who knows? -- your pet may live to be 45 years old, right?

12. I'm sort of embarrassed to even mention this one. I mean, you KNOW you need to save clothes hangers, right? Especially the plastic ones.

13. Be aware that it is entirely possible that the main archives for the National Geographic could burn down any day. In such a disaster, your personal issues could be needed for backup are best kept in piles separated by year along one wall in the basement.

14. Did you lose a cheap earring at the Grand Canyon? Be sure and keep the other one in case someone returns it's mate. Or you can just go with the pirate look and wear only one. People will envy, I'm sure. Or, what the hell-- mix and match. Just keep your profile facing people or always stand in the middle.

15. When your table gets so stacked with papers you can't find your scanner anymore, put those important papers in a box and label the box "To File." Store it under the bed.

16. Finally, keep a box of really short strings. Label it "Strings too short to use."

Monday, April 18, 2011

Tax Day

Today is Tax Day in the U.S.


Usually it is April 15, but there was some sort of holiday in D.C. on Friday. I paid mine last week, so it didn't matter to me.

I've long since given up on having it spent wisely. All the taxes I've ever paid in my entire life (which have been a hardship on my family, incidentally, and made us do without stuff) would probably not buy even one bomb that exploded off target in the desert somewhere. It probably wouldn't even pay the tab for one Congressman's limousine driver. Maybe. I know I would have preferred to spend it on something other than they did.

Well, that's much too negative. I'm sure they used it for a good cause and not for the above. They probably used my lifetime contribution for Michelle's White House Garden, or some nice floral arrangements for a state dinner for the king of Saudia Arabia or like that.

Anyway, they've got it again, so no sense being stupid and insisting they respect my hard work when they spend it.

Tuesday, April 12, 2011


On this date in history, April 12, 1861, America's bloodiest war began.

Sunday, April 10, 2011

With eyes that know the darkness in my soul...

Starry, starry night.
Flaming flowers that brightly blaze,
Swirling clouds in violet haze,
Reflect in Vincent's eyes of china blue.
Colors changing hue, morning field of amber grain,
Weathered faces lined in pain,
Are soothed beneath the artist's loving hand.

Now I understand what you tried to say to me,
How you suffered for your sanity,
How you tried to set them free.
They would not listen, they did not know how.
Perhaps they'll listen now.

—Don McLean

Vincent Van Gogh, I think, might well have been the Edgar Allan Poe of the world of fine art, if mental anguish is the measure of such things. He didn't start painting until his late twenties and most of his most important work was completed in the last two years of his life. Even so, his body of work consists of about 2000 paintings and drawings. How much of his mental illness is reflected in his work is only conjecture. He checked himself into a mental hospital for a time towards the end of his life. The windows had bars on them and he painted what he saw through those bars. Starry Night was painted during his stay at the hospital.

Vincent was mostly unappreciated during his lifetime and did not realize much financial success from his painting. Several of his paintings fetch upwards of $100 million today. "Portrait of Dr. Gachet" (1890) sold for $139 Million in 1990, a hundred years after it was painted. (Adjusted to 2011 dollars.)

1890 is also the year Vincent took his life. He was 37.

Wednesday, April 6, 2011

Signs of the times

I know a lot of people are doing church signs, but the following are funny.

1. Tonight's sermon: "What is Hell?" (Come early and hear our choir practice.)

2. Correction. The following typo appeared in our last church bulletin: "Lunch will be gin at 12:15." Please correct this to read: "12 noon."

3. The sermon this morning: "Jesus Walks on the Water." The evening sermon: "Searching for Jesus."

Sunday, April 3, 2011

Nothing is full proff

"Make sure that you have proofread your e-book before uploading and converting to digital text. As you may already know, Microsoft Word catches most grammar and spelling errors for you. But, it isn’t 100% full proof, so make sure you have proofread your document at least twice before converting it to a Kindle ebook."

Friday, April 1, 2011

A worthy Competitor

When in Edinburgh, be sure and stop by the ast rop pub in Grassmarket. Just a short stroll of Victoria Street, Cowgate and Candlemaker Row. You won't find another like it, says the proprietor, and he is spot on, I have it on good authority.

A wide collection of ales, and classic pub food second to none served with famous British hospitality.

A traditional pub of unique character, complete with medieval ghost (a small girl) and near the site of the last hanging in the Grassmarket, condemned men had their last meals here. Built on the site of an ancient tenement using the old buildings' original 17th century stone. The executions were prepared just opposite the pub, according to Sir Walter Scott:

«It was the custom, until within these thirty years or thereabouts, to use this esplanade for the scene of public executions. The fatal day was announced to the public by the appearance of a huge black gallows-tree towards the eastern end of the Grassmarket. This ill-omened apparition was of great height, with a scaffold surrounding it, and a double ladder placed against it, for the ascent of the unhappy criminal and executioner. As this apparatus was always arranged before dawn, it seemed as if the gallows had grown out of the earth in the course of one night, like the production of some foul demon; and I well remember the fright with which the schoolboys, when I was one of their number, used to regard these ominous signs of deadly preparation. On the night after the execution the gallows again disappeared, and was conveyed in silence and darkness to the place where it was usually deposited, which was one of the vaults under the Parliament House, or courts of justice.»