Friday, November 17, 2017

'Tis the season to be busy

First, the obligatory family photos of the Alabama branch of the rhymeswithplague clan, the mama in that branch being our daughter. Here she is with her older son (center) and his father, her husband of nearly 25 years:

The occasion was the Chamber Winds concert at the university our grandson attends, in which he is co-principal French Horn player at the ripe old age of 17.

Next, here is our daughter with her younger son one day later. This time the occasion was the annual winter concert in Birmingham of the All-County Bands and Choirs from Elementary, Middle, and High Schools in Jefferson County, Alabama. Our grandson was one of the trumpet players in the High School band. Our daughter, an assistant principal in a middle school, helped accompany the Elementary Choir on her flute.

The preliminary obligatories having been completed, let us now move on to other subjects.

1. Today we received our first Christmas card of the season. It came all the way from the home of Michelle, Ken, and Rosie-Roo (their dog) in merrie olde England, where Michele (also known as our blogging friend All Consuming) created it herself. In other words, it is a treasure. Here's the outside:

...and here's the inside:

Michelle created lots of other Christmas cards too, and you can see them by clicking right here. While you're doing that, I shall be trying to figure out (a) why Michelle would send me a Rorschach test for Christmas and (b) why it contains not only some very cute birds but also some bird droppings, Santa Claus sticking his tongue out, Jeff Goldblum in his signature role as The Fly, Chucky the Clown, and possibly a panoramic view of the Battle of Balaclava from the Crimean War in 1854.

2. We are taking care of our older son's dog, Chester, until Sunday evening. Chester arrived last night from his home an hour away so that the humans in his family could get an early start today on a quick trip to North Carolina to see this weekend's football game at Duke University and bring their son back home with them for the Thanksgiving holiday. Chester is a mix of Labrador and Dachshund and is a rich chocolate brown color. Here he is resting on our leather couch because he is plumb tuckered out from all the excitement.

That's enough for now. I'm plumb tuckered out too even though I haven't done very much at all when compared to this lady.

Chester sends doggy regards to Rosie-Roo.

Saturday, November 11, 2017

Boo-boos in media, example #17,643

Somebody went to a lot of trouble creating this poster and putting it up on Facebook on the anniversary of last year's presidential election, but the numbers are just plain wrong:

Actually, the 2016 electoral college vote in the U.S. presidential election was:

Donald Trump 304
Hillary Clinton 227 (not 277)
Others 4

Others? You betcha. Keep reading.

As we all should know by now, the U.S. does not elect a president by popular vote. If it did, Hillary Clinton would be president. Instead, each state chooses a slate of electors who meet later in the 50 state capitals as an Electoral College that actually selects a president and vice-president.

In the Electoral College vote last December 19, for the first time since 1808, multiple faithless electors voted against their pledged qualified presidential candidate. Five Democrats rebelled in Washington and Hawaii, while two Republicans rebelled in Texas. Two Democratic electors, one in Minnesota and one in Colorado, were replaced after voting for Bernie Sanders and John Kasich, respectively. Electors in Maine conducted a second vote after one of its members voted for Sanders; the elector then voted for Clinton. Likewise, for the first time since 1896, multiple faithless electors voted against the pledged qualified vice presidential candidate.

One Clinton elector in Colorado attempted to vote for John Kasich. The single vote was ruled invalid by Colorado state law, the elector was dismissed, and an alternative elector was sworn in who voted for Clinton.

One Clinton elector in Minnesota voted for Bernie Sanders as President and Tulsi Gabbard as vice president; his votes were discarded and he was replaced by an alternate who voted for Clinton.

One Clinton elector in Maine voted for Bernie Sanders; this vote was invalidated as "improper" and the elector subsequently voted for Clinton.

Four Clinton electors in Washington did not vote for Clinton (three votes went to Colin Powell, and one to Faith Spotted Eagle).

One Trump elector in Georgia resigned before the vote rather than vote for Trump and was replaced by an alternate.

Two Trump electors in Texas did not vote for Trump (one vote went to John Kasich, one to Ron Paul); one elector did not vote for Pence and instead voted for Carly Fiorina for Vice-President; a third resigned before the vote rather than vote for Trump and was replaced by an alternate.

One Clinton elector in Hawaii voted for Bernie Sanders.

Of the faithless votes, Colin Powell and Elizabeth Warren were the only two to receive more than one; Powell received three electoral votes for President and Warren received two for Vice President. Receiving one valid electoral vote each were Sanders, John Kasich, Ron Paul and Faith Spotted Eagle for President, and Carly Fiorina, Susan Collins, Winona LaDuke and Maria Cantwell for Vice President. Sanders is the first Jewish American to receive an electoral vote for President. LaDuke is the first Green Party member to receive an electoral vote, and Paul is the third member of the Libertarian Party to do so, following the party's presidential and vice-presidential nominees each getting one vote in 1972. It is the first election with faithless electors from more than one political party. The seven people to receive electoral votes for president were the most in a single election since 1796, and more than any other election since the enactment of the Twelfth Amendment in 1804.

And now, as radio newscaster Paul Harvey used to say, you know the rest of the story.

Yours for accuracy in media,

Thursday, November 9, 2017

I spent Saturday afternoon with a few thousand of my closest friends a college football game over in Alabama. Here are some of the highlights:

For those who were wondering, our team soundly defeated the other team. The final score was 59 to 23.

Sunday, October 29, 2017

The choice is up to you

In the next few minutes would you rather explore such interesting topics as:

1. Novaya Zemlya effect

2. Euler's number

3. Lemniscate of Bernoulli

4. Occam's (or Ockham's) razor


Look at my beautiful granddaughter during her school's homecoming activities:

I thought so.

Here's one last photo that shows her with her dad (our oldest son), her mom (a beauty in her own right), and her big brother (who came home all the way from his university in North Carolina just to surprise her).

Thursday, October 26, 2017

Here's what I was talking about when I was talking about...

"...the brilliant reds, the dazzling yellows,
The shocking oranges of autumn, the mountains ablaze
Against a clear blue sky."

Have a peek at autumn in north Georgia!

Monday, October 23, 2017

'Round and 'round she goes, and where she stops nobody knows

[Editor's note. Being as how (I know, Americans talk funny, or perhaps that should be funnily) it's October once again -- in many ways one of my two favorite months of the year, the other being April -- I decided to reach back in the old grab-bag and pull out a post I have put up twice before, first in 2010 and again in 2013. --RWP]

Barry Manilow has never been my favorite singer, but there’s something about this particular clip that reaches way down inside me and turns me inside out.

When October Goes (4:21)

I get the almost-a-cliché metaphor about a person’s lifespan (“Oh, it’s a long, long time from May to December, and the days grow short when you reach September” and so forth), and the leaves have turned red and gold and many of them have already fallen, and flocks of geese are in the air making their way south, and my mother died in the month of October in 1957, so this time of year always makes me a bit melancholy, but still...Barry Manilow?

There’s a little quiver in his voice -- and, yes, it may even be fabricated for effect -- and he’s a little “pitchy” (translation: out of tune) in places, but when he sings this song he somehow seems on the verge of losing his composure altogether. Maybe that’s what I’m responding to viscerally, I don’t know, the fact that we’re all in this thing together and we’re all putting on some sort of act and we’re all always dangerously close to losing control and letting everybody see how we really feel, and we certainly wouldn’t want to let that happen. Would we?

But still...

Barry Manilow?

(end of repeated post)

This time, though, I thought I would do something different and end with an original poem of mine that first appeared in my Billy Ray Barnwell Here blog because, well, it is October.

October 25, 2004

Our friend Carolyn came over for lunch
And as we finished at the table
Someone said, “Let’s go for a ride!”
So into the car we piled,
Like children giddy with anticipation,
Not knowing where we were headed
But eager to be having an adventure;
And someone said, “Where shall we go?”
And we said, “We don’t know!”
And someone else said, “Name a direction!”
And because the fall thus far at home
Had been drab and disappointing,
We headed north toward the mountains, laughing.

Five hours later we returned,
Tired but invigorated,
Having been to Helen and Unicoi Gap
And Hiawassee and Lake Chatuge,
Making all of the hairpin turns
And ascending, always ascending, until
We crested and began to descend
Through another set of hairpin turns,
And all the while we oohed and ahhed
And said how glad we were that we had come,
Drinking in the brilliant reds, the dazzling yellows,
The shocking oranges of autumn, the mountains ablaze
Against a clear blue sky.

Monday, October 9, 2017

Figures never lie, but liars often figure

Here are some interesting figures that Ted Nugent, the musician who is a well-known advocate of gun ownership rights, posted on Facebook:

There are 30,000 gun-related deaths per year by firearms in the U.S., and this number is not disputed. The U.S. population was 324,059,091 as of Wednesday, June 22, 2016. Do the math: 0.000000925% of the population dies from gun-related actions each year. Statistically speaking, this is insignificant! What is never told, however, is a breakdown of those 30,000 deaths, to put them in perspective as compared to other causes of death:

• 65% of those deaths are by suicide, which would never be prevented by gun laws
• 15% are by law enforcement in the line of duty and justified
• 17% are through criminal activity, gang and drug-related, or mentally ill persons - gun violence
• 3% are accidental discharge deaths

So technically, "gun violence" is not 30,000 annually but drops to 5,100. Still too many? Well, first, how are those deaths spread across the nation?

• 480 homicides (9.4%) were in Chicago
• 344 homicides (6.7%) were in Baltimore
• 333 homicides (6.5%) were in Detroit
• 119 homicides (2.3%) were in Washington D.C. (a 54% increase over prior years)

So basically, 25% of all U.S. gun crime happens in just 4 cities. All 4 of those cities have strict gun laws, so it is not the lack of law that is the root cause.

This basically leaves 3,825 for the entire rest of the nation, or about 75 deaths per state. That is an average because some States have much higher rates than others. For example, California had 1,169 and Alabama had 1.

Now, who has the strictest gun laws by far? California, of course, but understand, it is not guns causing this. It is a crime rate spawned by the number of criminal persons residing in those cities and states. So if all cities and states are not created equally, then there must be something other than the tool causing the gun deaths.

Are 5,100 deaths per year horrific? How about in comparison to other deaths? All death is sad and especially so when it is in the commission of a crime but that is the nature of crime. Robbery, death, rape, assault are all done by criminals, and thinking that criminals will obey laws is ludicrous. That's why they are criminals.

But what about other deaths in the U.S. each year?

• 40,000+ die from a drug overdose
• 36,000 people die per year from the flu, far exceeding the criminal gun deaths
• 34,000 people die per year in traffic fatalities (exceeding gun deaths even if you include suicide)

Now it gets good.

200,000+ people die each year (and growing) from preventable medical errors. You are safer in Chicago than when you are in a hospital.

710,000 people die per year from heart disease. It's time to stop the double cheeseburgers! What is the point? If the anti-gun movement focused their attention on heart disease, even a 10% decrease in cardiac deaths would save twice the number of lives annually of all gun-related deaths (including suicide, law enforcement, etc.). A 10% reduction in medical errors would be 66% of the total gun deaths or 4 times the number of criminal homicides.

So you have to ask yourself, in the grand scheme of things, why the focus on guns? It's pretty simple: Taking away guns gives control to governments.

The founders of this nation knew that regardless of the form of government, those in power may become corrupt and seek to rule as the British did by trying to disarm the populace of the colonies. It is not difficult to understand that a disarmed populace is a controlled populace.

Thus, the second amendment was proudly and boldly included in the U.S. Constitution. It must be preserved at all costs.

The next time someone tries to tell you that gun control is about saving lives, look at these facts and remember these words from Noah Webster: "Before a standing army can rule, the people must be disarmed, as they are in almost every kingdom in Europe. The supreme power in America cannot enforce unjust laws by the sword, because the whole body of the people are armed and constitute a force superior to any band of regular troops that can be, on any pretense, raised in the United States. A military force at the command of Congress can execute no laws, but such as the people perceive to be just and constitutional, for they will possess the power."

Remember, when it comes to "gun control," the important word is "control," not "gun."

[Here endeth the reading of the Facebook post. Yup, you weren't reading me, you were reading Ted Nugent.]

The most unbelievable figure in that piece -- my jaw almost hit the floor -- is "Alabama had 1." If that is not a downright lie, it is a whopper of a typographical error.

I did a little digging on my own. You might be interested in seeing what another group says about gun deaths in Alabama.

Here's another one.

Perhaps we are comparing apples and oranges. Then again, perhaps not.

Monday, October 2, 2017

Dream a little dream with me

Your ship finally came in and there was not a dock strike, so there are no impediments to your receiving the huge fortune bequeathed to you by your Great-uncle Alphonse. You didn’t even know that you had a Great-uncle Alphonse, but no matter. The money is indeed yours. You squeal with delight when you learn that you will be receiving one trillion dollars, but there are two catches. The terms of Uncle Alphonse’s will stipulate that at midnight tonight you will begin receiving one dollar per second, but you will not have access to any of the money until the entire trillion dollars has been transferred to you.

Care to guess when that will be? Well, you don’t have to guess because I have done the heavy lifting and figured it out for you. You may be surprised.

First, though, a word of explanation for friends in other countries: In the calculations below, I will be using American understanding of the values billion and trillion, that is, 1,000,000,000 (1e9) and 1,000,000,000,000 (1e12), respectively, and not some other definition of what those terms may mean in other parts of the world. I know. I am an ugly American.

Let's see how long it will take for you to become a trillionaire. Bear with me while I calculate.

By 12:17 AM you will have amassed $1,000 USD. By 2:47 AM you will have amassed $10,000 USD. By 3:47 AM on Day 2 your fortune will have reached $100,000 USD. And in the early afternoon on the eleventh day, you will have become a millionaire.

So far, so good. The entire inheritance should be yours in practically no time and you can begin spending it, right?


You will probably be surprised to learn just how far it is between a million and a billion, and how far it is between a billion and a trillion.

At the rate of $86,400 per day (there are that many seconds in a day) and a million dollars every eleven and a half days, you will become a billionaire in -- wait for it -- 31 years, 8 months. I am not even kidding. But the end is not yet. To gain access, finally, to the entire trillion dollars your Great-uncle Alphonse so generously left to you, you will have to wait a mere 31,710 years.

Editor's note. I fudged a little. To make the calculations easier, I used 365 days in a year. But we all know that thanks to Julian Assange Fellowes Lennon calendars, we add a Leap Day every four years, except every 100 years, when we don't, except every 400 years, when we do, because our earth's orbit around the sun takes 365-1/4 days, not 365. So let's adjust our answer a little. In 100 years time we will have added 24 extra days, which means that in 1000 years we will have added 240 days, which means that in 4000 years we will have added 960 days, plus ten more for those ten years in there divisible by 400. That's 970 days added every 4000 years and we're talking about 31,710 years before you can get your hands on all that money. That's nearly 32,000 years, and 32,000 divided by 4,000 is 8, so multiply those 970 extra days by 8 (I tire of all the exactitude) and assuming you are still alive 31,710 years from now, you'll still have to wait 7,760 more days or another 21 years (approximately) until you can get your hands on all that cash. --RWP

The moral of this post is simply this: Don't count your chickens before they're hatched, because it is a long way to Tipperary.

Yours from mixed-metaphor land,


Thursday, September 28, 2017

To commemorate this auspicious occasion,

...the tenth anniversary of the one and only rhymeswithplague blog, I wanted to show you the last rose of summer. which surely would remind many of you young whipper-snappers of moi.

However, I cannot show you the last rose of summer because (a) I do not have any roses and (b) my neighbors who do have roses of the popular "knockout" variety have many, many roses currently and I have no clue at this point which of them will turn out to be the last one of the year.

Therefore, I will show you what I do have, which are our encore azaleas (so named because they bloom both spring and fall) and our beautiful sasanqua camellia which blooms every year in September and October. We have had this particular bush for 13 years now. I have no idea how old it was when Phoebe E., our landscaper, planted it near our front door, but like this blog, it endures. Camellias seem to be both hardy and fragile (I think of Greta Garbo in her most famous role) but the individual blooms do not last long. The petals fall to the ground daily and are supplanted by more of their kind. This seems to me to be symbolic of blogs and bloggers in general, and I for one am happy to have continued as long as I have.

I may be gone in a moment's notice or stay around for quite a spell -- no one knows for sure -- but while I remain I intend to bloom my guts out for your reading enjoyment.

The jury is still out on whether this blog is written by a budding genius or a blooming idiot.

Saturday, September 23, 2017

The world is not ending today after all, but the world as we know it is ending

So says a man named David Meade who is about as kooky as they come. Maybe kooky is too harsh a word. Loony. That's much better.

He has lots and lots of details about the planet Jupiter and the constellation Virgo and a heretofore unnoticed planet called either Planet X or Nibiru (take your pick) that has supposedly entered the solar system and will crash into the earth shortly. You can read all about this stuff somewhere else if you care to, because I will not dignify the ruse scam nonsense matter further.

Religious nuts (of which I am not one) do this all the time. The movement that became the Seventh-Day Adventist Church said Christ would return in 1844, and when He didn't they modified their doctrine a bit. The movement that became the Jehovah's Witnesses said Christ would return in 1914, and when He didn't they modified their doctrine a bit. There was a big expectation among certain people that the world would end in 1987, but they had to modify their doctrine a bit. At one point in the 1970s, some people in South Florida began moving to Maggie Valley, North Carolina to avoid the wrath to come. How that would have helped I do not know. Does anyone remember Hal Lindsay? Harold Camping?

Somehow the return of Christ and the end of the world are intertwined, or they're not, depending on where you wish to place your money.

It's all about the money.

I just checked Amazon and all sorts of apocalyptic titles are waiting for you to snap them up at very reasonable prices ($3.99, $6.99, $10.91, $11.11).

Some apocalyptic titles have to do with nuclear catastrophe instead of the return of Christ, such as Alas, Babylon which I read about forty years ago, and The Postman, which was made into a movie starring Kevin Costner, and we mustn't leave out The Road by Cormac McCarthy. Nuclear catastrophe seems much more likely in the overall scheme of things than the Planet Nibiru crashing into earth, don't you think?

This has been another semi-fascinating post to make you aware of what's going on around you that you aren't even aware of.

This post could probably benefit from a beginning, a middle, and an ending, but it is what it is.

For those of you who remember him, Putz is beginning to seem more lucid all the time.

Editor's note. An update for readers of yesterday's post. On 13 February 2017, Kim Jong-nam was assassinated. He died after being attacked by two women with VX nerve agent at Kuala Lumpur International Airport in Malaysia while traveling from Macau under a pseudonym. The death is under investigation but it is speculated that it was carried out by the North Korean government. --RWP

Friday, September 22, 2017

Today may be the equinox, but I'm definitely unbalanced

As we say in the New World, in life as in the dictionary, perspicacity precedes perspicuity.

I'm pulling your leg. We don't really say that. I do, but we don't.

In 1990, the 15 most common surnames in the United States were Smith, Johnson, Williams, Jones, Brown, Davis, Miller, Wilson, Moore, Taylor, Anderson, Thomas, Jackson, White, and Harris. By 2010, according to the Census people, the 15 most common surnames in the United States were Smith, Johnson, Williams, Brown, Jones, Garcia, Miller, Davis, Rodriguez, Martinez, Hernandez, Lopez, Gonzalez, Wilson, and Anderson. The times, they are a-changin'. Do you detect a trend? Yes, yes indeedy.

In England, the name given most often to baby boys in 2017 is Muhammed. Apparently there is a trend going on there as well.

There once lived in North Korea a man named Kim Il-sung. Kim Il-sung had a son named Kim Jong-il, and Kim Jong-il also had a son. American late-night television comedian David Letterman used to say that Kim Jong-il's son was Menta Lee-il, but even though he may have been correct, Kim Jong-il's son was actually named Kim Jong-un. He has been in the news a lot lately. Kim Jong-il had other sons as well, Kim Jong-nam and Kim Jong-chul, about whom we never hear anything at all. Apparently they are keeping a low profile.*

*One fervently hopes our own Dear Leader in Washington D.C. will do the same.

This post is not supposed to make any sense.

So far I am succeeding.

Happy equinox to you all.

Also, a very happy Rosh Hashanah.

Monday, September 11, 2017

All Irma, all the time

I'm not saying it wasn't bad in Florida, because it was, but it seems to me that just as the History Channel seemed for a while a few years ago to be the "All Hitler, all the time" channel, the news channels for the last couple of days have been "All Irma, all the time." That enhanced satellite image up there of where Irma was at 8:06 AM EDT (12:06 PM GMT) today looks really, really bad, but at this moment north Georgia is receiving only a very light rain, the long, slow kind that the grass loves.

Irma is no longer classified as a Category 4, 3, 2, or even 1 hurricane. She is a tropical storm now. Things may change by this afternoon, and probably will, but that is no reason for everybody in Georgia and Alabama and South Carolina to panic. Well, maybe South Carolina. But the 24/7 coverage the last few days of Irma's slow progress seemed to me to be more of an exercise by government officials in learning how well the populace will respond to instructions from on high.

As usual, this has been one man's opinion.

Other things were happening in the world as well, which one would never have known from watching the news channels. Twenty-four hours a day of relentless coverage of a single story, important as it may be, is not my idea of a news channel. Where was the Mexico earthquake? Where was Kim Jong Un? Where was the run-up to the sixteenth anniversary of 9/11/2001? Where was Prince George's first day of school? Where was the Georgia Tech versus Jacksonville State University football game?

And another thing: Since government in this country is increasingly a top-down effort (rather than a bottom-up effort as God and the United States Constitution intended), the Federal Government apparently sent a man to oversee fleets of ambulances to (where else?) the capital city of Florida, Tallahassee, to help evacuate the elderly and residents of hospitals and assisted-living centers in the Miami area. The announcement was accompanied by self-congratulatory pats on their own backs and speeches from government officials all around. Friends, Tallahassee is 480 miles from Miami. This is akin to having an emergency weather event in Sheffield, Yorkshire, and sending fleets of ambulances to the Isle of Lewis.

Rant over. I think. Everyone is glad, of course, that the damage done by hurricane Irma turned out to be much lower than anticipated.

In our family, however, the most important event of the weekend was that our Alabama grandson in the JSU band received a visit from his Georgia aunt and uncle:

You probably can't spot him on the field, but you can definitely enjoy the sound of the band (4:32).

Unfortunately for JSU fans, the final score of the game was Georgia Tech 37, Jacksonville State 10.

Tuesday, September 5, 2017

Time may pass, but some things do not change

Here's a song from 1917:

There are smiles that make us happy
There are smiles that make us blue
There are smiles that steal away the tear drops
As the sunbeams steal away the dew

There are smiles that have a tender meaning
That the eyes of love alone may see
And the smiles that fill my heart with sunshine
Are the smiles that you give to me

(from "Smiles" (1917), lyrics by J. Will Callahan, music by Lee S. Roberts)

Here is a 2017 demonstration of the above by some people I know:

From top to bottom, these photographs were made at Duke University in Durham, North Carolina; at Indian Rocks Beach, Florida; and at Orange Beach, Alabama.

Sumer (with apologies to Robert Burns) is no longer icumen in; in fact, it is a-goin' out. Nevertheless, even though Mrs. RWP and I have stayed close to home, we are also smiling.

Thursday, August 31, 2017

An anniversary approaches

On September 28th this blog will have been in existence for ten years. Yes, dear reader, an entire decade of shared laughter and tears, ups and downs, froth and substance, serious explorations and sheer folderol has elapsed. In other words, a slice of life -- yours and mine -- consisting of 3,653 days (including the Leap Days of 2008, 2012, and 2016) that we can never get back are gone forever.

Sadly, long gone are such readers as Jeannelle of Iowa (not to be confused with Eleanor of Aquitaine), Carolina in Nederland and her wonderful horses, Daphne in Yorkshire, her friend Ian who had a silver back, Pat - An Arkansas Stamper, Dr. John Linna of Neenah, Wisconsin, who had a whole town in his basement, Katherine de Chevalle in New Zealand, and the one and only Putz of Tooele, Utah. I miss them all. Happily, though, stepping up to the plate to take their turns at bat (it's an expression from the game of baseball) have been such online luminaries as Graham Edwards from the Isle of Lewis in the Outer Hebrides of Scotland, Elephant's Child whose just-so story takes place in Australia, author Frances Garrood, Emma Springfield, the ever-irrepressible Yorkshire Pudding, Snowdrift Snowplow Snowbrush, Adrian, Gary, another Ian who shoots parrots (not really), someone who is simply All Consuming, and many others.

I appreciate each one of you, and newcomers are always welcome.

It has been great fun to date, and I look forward to continuing the online interaction with you for quite a while yet. But who knows? I may live another twenty years or another twenty minutes. I am hoping to last another 28 days, at least, to reach this significant anniversary.

If you're wondering what to get me, money is always good.

I hope you know I'm joking.

Tuesday, August 22, 2017

Today is the tomorrow you worried about yesterday.

Dale Carnegie (1888 – 1955), the American writer and lecturer and the developer of famous courses in self-improvement, salesmanship, corporate training, public speaking, and interpersonal skills (so says Wikipedia), said that. He also wrote How To Win Friends And Influence People, but that is neither here nor there not what this post is about.

This post is about the answer to the question posed in yesterday's (August 21, 2017) post, "What do the following words have in common and what does the title of the post (Yesterday tomorrow) mean?" which was then followed by (surprise, surprise!) this list of words:

alibi, burglar, corpse, deadbeat, evidence, fugitive, gumshoe, homicide, innocent, judgment, killer, lawless, malice, noose, outlaw, peril, quarry, ricochet, silence, trespass, undertow, vengeance, wasted, x, yesterday

The answer, my friend, is not blowing in the wind, it is right here, in two parts:

1. What the words have in common is that they are used in titles to an alphabetic series of detective novels by American writer Sue Grafton (1940 - ). Clicking on the link in the previous sentence will show you each book's dust jacket and reveal a little about each book. Please do (click on the etc.).

2. Today, August 22, 2017, is the publication date of the most recent and eventually penultimate book in the series, Y Is For Yesterday. And at precisely at this point in this post I remind you of the title up there, today is the tomorrow you worried about yesterday.

It's that simple. I do apologize (British: apologise) for having caused any pre-apocalyptic concerns amongst my vast readership (at least four).

P.S. -- Ms. Grafton has already announced that the final book in the series will be entitled Z Is For Zero, which selection doesn't seem to have any connection to the previous 25 choices. Wait, neither did the word Yesterday.

P.P.S. -- This post is not meant to be a recommendation of Ms. Grafton's work as I have never read a single word of hers. Mrs. RWP has read a few of the books but stopped because of the strong language she encountered. Mrs. RWP recommends that if you like the genre but prefer milder language, read John Grisham.

P.P.P.S -- Lastly, it may be of interest to certain readers that Ms. Grafton herself says that she was inspired to begin the series, which began in 1982, after reading Edward Gorey's The Gashlycrumb Tinies.

(2009 photo by Mark Coggins, used in accordance with CC BY 2.0)

Monday, August 21, 2017

Yesterday tomorrow

What do the following words have in common and what does the post's title mean?

alibi, burglar, corpse, deadbeat, evidence, fugitive, gumshoe, homicide, innocent, judgment, killer, lawless, malice, noose, outlaw, peril, quarry, ricochet, silence, trespass, undertow, vengeance, wasted, x, yesterday

No fair googling. Either you know it or you don't.

Tuesday, August 8, 2017

If you're going to be forced to spend a day at a beach in Florida... may as well be with beautiful people.

(Photographs by Linda C. Brown a.k.a. Aunt Da, August 2017)

These people, who are beautiful inside and out, are my younger son and his wife with their two sons, aged 21 and 19, on a last outing of summer before the younger set return to their respective universities. One almost expects Gatsby to appear over the dunes.

This post represents the opinion of its creator. Our sponsor, the Blogging Powers That Be, is (are?) not responsible in any way for the thoughts and opinions expressed herein. Any comments should be sent directly to the creator of the post.

Monday, July 31, 2017

One little, two little, three little hymnals. Four little, five little, six little hymnals...

My friend Snowbrush out in Oregon noticed the new header on my blog and left a comment that began, "Maybe your church is ready for a new edition of its hymnal."

It made me chuckle. Actually, there have been several editions of the Methodist Hymnal since that particular one was published. More about that later in this post.

Snowbrush also said, "I left my last comment while listening to "With Heart and Voice," which is a weekly program of religious music. Its original presenter was an Englishman named Richard Gladwell (sad to say, but the current presenter is not his equal) who served on a bomber during WWII, but ended up living in the U.S. Though Gladwell was an Episcopalian, he received the Benemerenti medal from the pope."

Having never heard of the Benemerenti medal, my naturally inquisitive self ("Curiosity killed the cat" according to my mother, but my wife adds, "Finding out brought it back") had to learn more. I learned that Benemerenti means "well-deserved" in Latin and the medal has been awarded many times by many popes since its creation nearly 200 years ago. The current version looks like this:

The design of the medal does change from time to time. Here's what it looked like in 1984. This particular medal is on display in the Cork Public Museum in Ireland:

(Photograph by Bjørn Christian Tørrissen, used in accordance with the terms of CC BY-SA 3.0)

"While studying your new blog format," Snowbrush continued, "I noticed that the book in the photo is a very old Methodist hymnal, and I was rather hoping that you would say more about it. I was also wondering if any of the old Methodist hymns have since been "cleaned up" in terms of gender references (one of the most appalling instances that I've heard was changing "Father, Son, and Holy Ghost" to "Parent, Child, and Holy Spirit")."

The Methodist Hymnal up at the top of the blog (here's a smaller photo for those of you who don't scroll) was given to me by Mrs. Joan M., who found it among her mother’s things after her mother died two or three years ago. It is quite small and contains lyrics only, no musical notes. And lest you think I placed a very large cup next to a normal-sized book, here is the book next to my very wrinkly hand to give you some perspective:

This book is the oldest item in my home. I have a maple rocking chair my mother bought me when I was four (1945), a torchiere-style floor lamp from my wife's mother's living room (circa 1940), and my maternal grandmother's triple-strand of pearls that she wore at her wedding (1897), but the title page of the little book of Methodist Hymns indicates a publication date of 1845:

Snowbrush added, "I own several hymnals (Episcopal, Church of Christ, and Southern Baptist--the latter arrived by way of Peggy who, as you might recall, grew up in an observant Southern Baptist household), some of them old. I also have various Episcopal prayer books, some of which are SO old that they contain references to debtors' prisons, and have prayers for prisoners who were about to be hung."

As it happens, I own several hymnals also. On either side of my computer monitor and keyboard is a six-foot-tall bookshelf with five shelves each (let's see, five shelves times two bookcases, that's, er, um, carry the four, divide by seven, that's ten shelves in all) that I put together with my own two hands, ten shelves of books in our bedroom sitting area, and the highest shelf in the left side bookcase contains these:

I was going to add that Methodist Hymnals traditionally begin with Charles Wesley's, "O For A Thousand Tongues To Sing My Great Redeemer's Praise" (the 1845 version does) but a quick check of the dark blue one on that shelf burst my bubble. It is from the 1930s and begins with "Holy! Holy! Holy!" -- so much for supposed traditions.

Snowbrush's comment ended with a request: "I usually listen to religious music on Sunday morning, but my private collection isn't great, so I'm wondering if you could offer some suggestions, preferably something newer than Bach but (ideally, though not necessarily) a bit older than the Fanny Crosby era. I prefer music that includes singing."

That is a hard one. I was going to suggest several Charles Wesley hymns, but his lifespan overlaps Bach's. So does Isaac Watts's. So does George Frederic Handel's. There are many, many hymns from the mid-to-late nineteenth century, but that's Fanny Crosby's era. What to do? What to do?

I am recommending that Snowbrush and everybody else listen to the oratorio Elijah by Felix Mendelssohn. There are some wonderful selections in it including "If With All Your Hearts Ye Truly Seek Me" and "O Rest In The Lord, Wait Patiently For Him" and "Then Shall The Righteous Shine Forth As The Sun In Their Heavenly Father's Realm" and -- my favorite -- the gorgeous choral number "He Watching Over Israel Slumbers Not Nor Sleeps."

Here's the first one (3:18), and you should look for the others on Youtube yourself.

I'm grateful to Snowbrush for inspiring this post. I need all the help I can get.

Sunday, July 16, 2017

My hero

My preceding post included a photo of Ryan Seacrest, a graduate of Dunwoody High School in Atlanta who became a radio personality, television host, and producer. He gained celebrity for his associations with American Idol, Dick Clark's New Year's Rockin' Eve, Keeping Up With the Kardashians, E! Live, and most recently as co-host of Live With Kelly and Ryan. He is, I guess, a pop culture icon. I say guess because pop culture is not my area of expertise.

I also mentioned that my heart surgeon looks younger than Ryan Seacrest.

Kylie, a new reader of this blog who lives in Sydney, New South Wales, Australia, left the following comment: "What i want to know about your surgeon is not if he looks younger than Ryan Seacrest but does he look as good?"

I certainly am not the one to ask. I have no idea. I know of no authoritative scale by which the attractiveness to females of one male over another can be measured. I suppose -- write this down -- that beauty or handsomeness is in the eye of the beholder.

So here, for Kylie and anybody else who might be wondering the same thing, is my hero, The Man Who Put The Stents In My Coronary Arteries:

You tell me!

For the record, Ryan Seacrest is 42 (in yesterday's photo from 2013 he was 39) and my doctor, according to his bio at the hospital, is 48.

Friday, July 14, 2017

It's all over but the shouting

I'm back at home from my adventures in angioplasty, which felt more like MY ADVENTURES IN A*N*G*I*O*P*L*A*S*T*Y!!! (with sincere apologies to Hyman Kaplan).

I spent two days in hospital with some very nice people that I hope I never need to see again, including an amazing cardiac surgeon who looked all of twenty years old but must have been about fifty. Just a kid*.

I came home Thursday afternoon with five stents in my coronary arteries that weren't there when I left on Wednesday morning.

It certainly isn't all about me, me, me but if you look closely you will find that the first three paragraphs of this post still managed to sneak in the personal pronoun eight times.

How thoroughly self-centered of them.

All things either having returned to more or less normal or having been significantly altered forever, depending on how you look at it, the period of recovery and rehabilitation now begins.

If you want to know more about angioplasty, click here.

Until next time, Seacrest out.

(Photo by Glenn Francis, 2013, used in accordance with the terms of GFDL)

*Ryan Seacrest, pictured above at age 39 in 2013, looks older than my cardiac surgeon. There's that darned personal pronoun again.

Sunday, July 9, 2017

Remembrance of things recently past: Graduation 2017

We traveled to Alabama to attend the high-school graduation of our oldest grandson there (not our oldest grandson of all, but our oldest grandson there).

Here are a few scenes of that day for posterity my vast reading audience's personal perusal and pleasure (alliteration lessons available for a small fee):