And Now…Something Sort of Different

A few years ago I had a great idea to change the name of the blog. The Real Reality Show Blog made sense in the beginning as a response to the reality being foisted upon us by cable television so-called reality shows. Come on now, let’s have a show of hands, how many think those housewives are really real. And not to spoil anybody’s surprise, on almost any of those shows where somebody gets surprised, didn’t you ever wonder how the producers managed to get the surprise-ees mic’ed up without them knowing it. So, since the reality of those shows was more than a little in question, the Real Reality Show Blog filled the gap with real stuff, real places, and real people from wherever I really happened to be.

Over time (a lot of time – I started writing this drivel in 2012!) the reality wasn’t any less but it was sometimes augmented with commentary, thoughts, and suppositions. It became more the musings of some old, single, white guy. In fact, the first alternate name I thought of for the blog was just that – Old Single White Guy. Even though it describes me to a T, it really pushes the bounds of political correctness. And then I thought, oh no, I can’t call it that because any time I started following a new blog the blogger would get an e-mail from WordPress stating, “Congratulations! Old Single White Guy just started following you!” and I just don’t have the money to spend on keeping a lawyer on retainer.

It was clear that my first thought was not my best thought. Not surprising considering I recently wrote an entire post about poor first thoughts. And then it hit me! The famous sign from that post, the one I’m looking at while I’m writing this. The one I’ve looked at writing almost every post for the last almost ten years. Don’t Believe Everything You Think. That’s it! I got it and I got it good. Or bad.  Or whichever is good nowadays. That could be “THE” perfect name for this perfectly imperfect nonsense.

Yep, Don’t Believe Everything You Think. But I’ve built a brand. How will people find me? Duh, who the … um, who might be looking for me. I’ve never “advertised.” I’ve never linked from there to here from the various there’s I haunt – cyberly speaking that is. Yet somehow in just the last 4 years people have landed on this site over 20,000 times. If I only had a nickel. [Sigh] Not to worry though. I’m not changing the name of this blog so if you haven’t subscribed but you just know how to get here you can keep getting here however that is. But I am using the name for a new podcast version of this.

You’ve all seen the notices from WordPress, turn your blog into a podcast. Well, it seems easy enough and I want to experiment a little.  If I’ve done this right, you should find a link Don’t Believe Everything You Think on the Anchor platform where you will hear me reading this drivel. And some other stuff. And each time I do this there’ll be more other stuff. Go listen and please come back here and tell me what you think. (This particular drivel you should find right here.)

01a39c24efcfb5bde1debe2de75e473c90853c0da5e44078e88df466a2e22901.0And remember, even though you may not have known it, chances are pretty good that there’s an old, single, white guy following you.

Oh, one more thing. When I set that up over there, or over here if you’re now listening instead of reading, they ask for a category I guess so they can figure out where to pigeonhole you. What could I say about this? There isn’t a category for claptrap. So I called it a personal journal. And that reminded me of something. You’ve heard me speak of my daughter many times. She does many things, including writing. For her though it’s professional. Yeah, she actually makes money writing. She’s written something new that’s not meant to be read but to encourage others writing. I thought of this when I was selecting “personal journal” for my category. She’s written journal prompts, but I think pretty cleverly. She’s developed a card deck of prompts. According to her, “Everyone has a story, but not everyone knows what their story is.” The deck has 52 cards packed in a study box. Go check them out, at Untitled. She doesn’t know I’m telling you this, so if you see her, don’t say anything. Thanks.

Under Pressure

May is an interesting month. It starts out somewhat Spring-like with weather in the “Not Too Warm Days, Not Too Cool Nights” range, newly planted gardens beginning to flower and promising what one hopes will be a bountiful harvest, lawns fresh from their first cut already starting to show the unmistakable lushness from the early application of grass food, and energetic people everywhere waiting for the first long bike ride or counting the days until the outdoor pools will again open. And then it ends with hot dry days and hot humid nights, the sun so high you’ve already gone through a year’s allotment of sunscreen, weeds, weeds, weeds and more weeds where you were sure you have planted zucchini, that grass needs cut again(!), the bike rack is still in pieces in the garage and the pool looks more like a mosh pit from an early 80s Slayer concert! Perhaps this explains why May is also National Blood Pressure Month. With escalations like these your blood pressure has a good chance of escalating also.

But May is also a month filled with days dedicated to practicing self-care, self-restraint and self-satisfaction, and keeping that blood pressure in the “Make Your Doctor Happy” zone. Seriously, can you imagine stressing yourself to the point of elevated blood pressure readings on Dance Like a Chicken Day?

May’s earliest days have already gone and we may have missed National Fitness Day or World Laughter Day, but you don’t need a special day to stretch out those winter bound muscles or snicker at a corny knock knock joke. We might have missed Garden Meditation Day but meditating any day will increase your positivity.

I’ve listed some of May’s contributions to keeping your blood pressure down. You can keep this list handy whenever your day starts mounting more pressure on you than you are comfortable with and remind yourself of the many ways a little physical activity or mental and spiritual awareness might ease some of that pressure and lighten your heart. (Warning: Visit Your Relatives Day might have the opposite effect on some!)

I have my favorites that I’m looking forward to. Please join me in a discovery of how you can celebrate National Blood Pressure Month and add to your health – body and soul!

Navy Blue Oranges Squares Weekly Calendar

The Shortest Distance

Let me get my geometry on. The shortest distance between two points is a straight line. You can say the same for geography and sometimes interpersonal relationships. Apparently, the shipping magnates of the world have not heard of this concept. Or perhaps what I am about to recount explains the mysterious handling portion of the “shipping and handling” duo.

Last week I found myself with the last straw, the one to break the camel’s back even, on my formerly trusty, old cell phone. It was once smart, but the years have not been kind to it and it was time to send it to a memory care center for phones that have run out of memory. And touchpad sensitivity, And a willingness to connect to voicemail. So I marched myself right over to the New an Improved Smart Phone Store and Service Center and purchased myself a New and Improved Smart Phone. Actually I purchased myself to right to have a New and Improved Smart Phone shipped to me because they were out of the one I wanted.

“No problem, We ship 2 day [company that sounds like MedTex].” That was Friday.

Wednesday the phone arrived. Had it been a steamer trunk in a 1940s musical it would have had a variety of stickers from all the ports of call it visited. It had a wonderful time, wish I was there!

Had I known where it was being shipped from I would have driven out and picked it up. It was only a six hour drive. That would have been better than the six day “2 day” nationwide tour it was on. Observe:

PhoneMapThat’s roughly an 1800 mile trek to go about 310 miles in a straight line. Or at least as straight as the Pennsylvania Turnpike can manage. (If you’re wondering, the Memphis to Pittsburgh leg of the journey itself was a foot or two less than 770 miles.)

I suppose somebody figured that is the most efficient way to ship cargo. Somebody who studied the right classes in college might have even chosen the economies of scale in bulk shipping for a dissertation subject.

I’ve always had a nagging suspicion that we tend to make things more difficult than they have to be. I’ve often wondered if that is because the more difficult we make it the less attractive it will be for somebody to compete with us. The less competition we have the less we have to improve ourselves and the less we have to improve ourselves the less we will improve ourselves. Why else would a couple pound package, no bigger than a cell phone, ride on six trucks and 2 planes when I know I’ve passed [Company that sounds like MedTex] trucks on the Turnpike, driving freight directly across the state.

I’m sure there is a better way, not just to ship phones but to streamline life and still reap the benefits of new and improved when new and improved comes along. Perhaps it’s simply a matter of opening our eyes and being more aware of what is around us, having a firm idea of where we want to go and how to get there without undue stress on ourselves and others. Think the goal, make the plan, then go out and do it. In as straight a line as you can manage.

I think I’ll take my own advice today and, having already failed at making a long story short, stop here. Bon voyage!

Suitcase

Beware the Raptor! (And the Garlic)

Happy National Garlic Day. The National sort of suggests USA origins but if you call one of the other countries that populate our planet home, feel free to celebrate the stinking rose along with us.

I’m not sure why somebody picked the middle of April to celebrate garlic. Apparently neither do the organizers of the many garlic themed festivals, picking instead mid-summer for the every July Gilroy Garlic festival in Gilroy California where 140% of the world’s garlic crop is grown and smells like it, or mid-winter for the every February Delray Beach Garlic Fest in Delray Beach Florida where little garlic is grown outside of backyard gardens and it smells sort of like Florida.

While the uncertainty of when to celebrate garlic may lead to some organizational questions, at least garlic is something real. You can see it, taste it and smell it (sometimes far longer than you expected), and it is a part of modern life. Unlike, say, the velociraptor.

Yesterday was National Velociraptor Awareness Day. Again, there’s that “National” designation suggesting not all Americans are consumed with political-oriented lunacy and can go out on limbs of their own making. I guess anybody can celebrate anything, but do we really need to be “aware” of an animal that hasn’t taken a breath for roughly 70,000,000 years? (Spelled out that would be seventy million years.) If one felt the prehistoric bird has been slighted in film and fiction, maybe a Velociraptor Appreciation Day is called for. But awareness? I don’t think I need to be as aware of what a velociraptor might do to me or my environs as perhaps I should be of a cavalier attitude to continuing masking and social distancing. Now that’s something to be aware of. But I digress.

If you have an inordinate amount of free time (like I clearly do), you can search National Velociraptor Day and find no end of information about the apparently feathery dinosaur including its average height, weight, wingspan, stance, fight speed, running speed, habitat, and diet. There is a huge number of “facts” about this thing that disappeared over 69.5 million years before man showed up. But then the world is also gaga over the paleodiet and I don’t think anybody was writing cookbooks back then and that was a lot more recently than velociraptors flew over the earth. (Personally, given that the world was so waterlogged then, I think the typical paleodiet was likely lizards, snails, and little amphibians (perhaps as something akin to frog legs) and more likely resembled a high end (aka snooty) French restaurant.) But boy do I digress.

Although none of the National Velociraptor Awareness Day sites mention how its predator enjoyed this early bird at mealtime, there are several that note the velociraptor du jour did not resemble the flying dinosaur depicted in most movies featuring return to life prehistoric creatures, instead they more likely looked like big chickens. So go out on your own limb and celebrate both National Velociraptor Day (a day late) and National Garlic Day (right on time) with a robust chicken dinner smothered in garlic, perhaps the famous Chicken with Forty Cloves of Garlic recipe. Stick that in your search engine and you’ll come up with about 2-1/4 million results which is only about 250,000 less than if you searched for velociraptors. Sigh.

Untitled

Trash Talk

We are already firmly into the fourth month of 2021. That itself is frightening, but more is that we still are filling our conversations with 2020 sound bite phrases (and some even older) which even in 2020 was depressing. So in the spirit of culture cancelling, let’s make a Second Quarter Resolution to, in no particular order, cancel these.

Eraser

Cancel Culture: Cancelling is becoming the new fad falling somewhere between hobby, and cottage industry. Old fogies like me tend to confuse cancel culture with “the mob” burning books or tearing down statues. It originated with some fashion or beauty type person who apparently was tight enough with the Kardashians to have amassed close to 2 Billion views on his YouTube channel lost over a million followers in a single day because of some spat he had with another YouTube beauty person. Seriously. You know I don’t make this stuff up. With origins that trite it’s time to cancel this bit of unculture.

Unprecedented Times: Many of last year’s news stories were unexpected, life-changing events. Of that there is no question. Were they unprecedented as the hyperbolic news media introduced every story. Consider this. To be unprecedented something must not have a precedent and a precedent is not merely the first of something, but the first of something to be used as an example for others to follow.  Let’s look at some of 2020’s “unprecedented” happenings. The pandemic was responsible for many of these events. First, there is the pandemic itself. Unprecedented, yes? Well, no, the WHO is currently tracking twenty different pandemics across the globe. Since 1900 there have been 12 worldwide pandemics, the most recent pre-CoViD were the 2013-2016 Ebola virus and the 2015-2016 Zika virus pandemics. Surely the vaccine response was unprecedent. Impressive yes, particularly in scope, unprecedented no. The 1947 smallpox vaccination drive in New York City claimed to have vaccinated 5 to 6 million people in less than a month. Verifiable data indicated 1.2 million doses were administered in the first week and a total of over 4.4 million administered during the 18 day campaign. Other “unprecedented” news stories from mass closures, to social unrest, to riots, to elections, even to the storming of the Capitol had precedents. The January attack on the Capitol was the sixth time the building had been breached and two other deadly incursions involving Capitol personnel occurred within its perimeter fencing.

Essential Worker – Clearly almost every worker can make an argument that a job is essential to somebody. Weather forecaster in San Diego might be stretching things but given that is only sunny there 362 days a year it could be essential for residents to know which three days to stay indoors. While I’m on this topic, there is no question of who qualifies as a Frontline Worker. If you have to ask, you aren’t one.

The New Normal – Do I have to say more?

Uncertain Times – A second cousin to Unprecedented Times, “Uncertain Times” is the nice little catch all to define any time that is uneasy or induces stress, real or imagined. Back when I was ineligible for AARP discounts, we called it a Get Out of Jail Card, AKA An Excuse to Get Out of Anything. You wanna know something, every time is uncertain. It if wasn’t it’s already past.

And finally, one to nip in the bud – Herd Immunity – Yes, it is a real thing, but unless you have a PhD in epidemiology or are a physician specializing in infectious diseases, you don’t know enough about it to carry on a Facebook level conversation let alone an intelligent one. Leave this to the experts. Hey, nightly news people, I’m talking to you, too.

There are a few hundred other choice words and phrases due for retirement: Blursday, Election Fraud, Super-Spreader, False Rumor (can a rumor actually be true?), and Remote [Anything]. Eliminate these and we have a good start on the return to intelligent life on this planet.

Genius

Weather Fools Day

April Fools and all that. Yeah yeah yeah. I understand it is still early spring, I know I live in a “temperate” zone, I get that average temperatures, especially nighttime temperatures are still “cool” — but it’s snowing! And not that little fluffy pretend snow. This is sticking snow! According to the weather nerds we could be looking for at least an inch accumulation and there could be 4 inches in the mountains. Now I’ll admit, that’s not a whole lot, but hello! It’s April! Now watch, this will be the only time the weather people get it right.

I don’t usually care much about weather, but this year it’s getting old. And it’s only April!!! If somebody offered me a grass shack on a tropical island where I would never see freezing precipitation again, I’d take it. I’d rather take my chances with hurricanes, sun stroke, and shark attacks than go through one more inch of snow fall this year.

On the bright side, we only average 140 days of any precipitation all year and we’ve already had 60 days of the stuff so in another couple months I should be able to take the convertible out of the garage.

Sheesh, a convertible – here. That’s about as much use as a pair of galoshes on that tropical island. Hmmm. Let me get those galoshes out instead.

SnowmanCar

And . . .

There’s a new darling of the entertainment world out there.  +  That’s it, just   +  .

+  can mean different things to different people. To a chemist it means that’s a cation, the positively charged ion, the opposite of an anion, that one that travels to the cathode, which an electrician will recognize as the opposite of the anode, the anode being the positively charged electrode possibly symbolized on a schematic as  +  .  A mathematician, not to be confused with an arithmetist, recognizes  +  as an means of identifying any real number greater than zero. An accountant hopes not to find  +  preceding the number on the bottom line of IRS Form 1040 which would indicate outstanding tax due. A doctor ordering blood knows it is important to include  +  after a patient’s blood type if the patient’s blood has the Rh Factor antigen present. A musician sees  +  and knows to raise the fifth note of a major chord by a half tone. (It sounds weird on paper but not so bad in the ear.) Back when you were an itty bitty youngster, even in the age of “new math,” you learned that  +  symbolizes addition, the one of the four basic food groups of math. Just kidding. I wanted to see if you were paying attention. Addition is one of the four basic arithmetical operations of mathematics, the combination of multiple numbers to determine a total or sum value. You know, 2 + 2 = 4.

The “experts” who upsell premium video content have latched on to an old hook that marketers have used for a while. Skip the words, symbols sell. If a picture is worth a thousand words then  +   is worth at least $4.99. That’s how much extra you’ll shell out for discovery+. That’s a bargain in the plus world now crowded with Apple TV+, BET+, Disney+, ESPN+, and Paramount+ .  It’s such a hot commodity even free channels are “adding” it to their names like Documentaries +, Halloween +, and the succinctly named Free TV+ and Free Movies+ channels.

I’m being a bit unfair calling  +  the “new” darling. The French pay TV service Canal+ began broadcasting in 1984. Not television but still screen based (although often much smaller), Google+ was available on line and on phones from 2011-2019. In the non electronic world  +  has occupied a spot in brand names for everything from clothes (Missen+Main) to soap (Etta + Billie) to window treatments (allen + roth). It wasn’t until FX+ was released in 2018 that  +  began a surge in the television industry. (FX+ was shut down when Disney purchased the network the following year.) Oh there were a handful of PLUS appendices but that little  +  kept itself tucked away. Until now. Expect to see more [Fillintheblank]+ not unlike how many cable/streaming services released [Pickyourfavoritechannel]Go in the 2010s. Expect to see  +  more frequently on the smaller screens again also. Apple News+ coming up on its two year launch anniversary. After a slow start subscriptions hit an all time high in the 2020 second quarter.

You might say  +  is multiplying. (A mathematician wouldn’t but there probably aren’t many of them reading this anyway so go ahead and say it!)

PLUS

The Sincerest Form of Flattery

I had a complete post ready to go on the latest copy cat trend – counterfeit masks. Really, that’s a thing. Just last week US Customs officials confiscated another (another!) million counterfeit 3M N-95 masks. In the last year over 11 million of those little devils were seized coming into the country in twelve states, most of them headed for hospitals and other health care facilities. So if it seems to you like you’re not having any trouble finding them on internet marketplaces, maybe you should empty that shopping cart.

That’s what I was going to post and it was going to be great. Besides, I had been waiting for years to use that line for a title. And then I had this new story. It just can’t wait. Masks are important and all but surely I can come up with a non-CoViD related story every now and then. Now this new one might be tangentially virus related. Witnessing the speed it made it’s way around the interwebs it’s certainly viral. You might well have already heard this but not with my, ahem, unique spin. Unfortunately I had some things I had to take care of before I could go out and play right away so I had to make you wait all day for this. But it’s worth it. And I didn’t even have to change the title!  

So then, what is this new flattery.  Remember when you were a little kid sitting at the breakfast table with you hand thrust deep into the cereal box looking for that prize that was always buried at the bottom? If you are of my generation you remember that. Young folk reading, go ask your parents. While you at it you can ask them what it means to sound like a broken record. Back to the cereal box, buried under all that sugar coated crunchiness was a plastic truck the size of a pencil eraser, a whistle that never worked, or maybe a comic strip. To a five year old it was like uncovering buried treasure, like finding a million bucks!

Imagine finding 6 million dollars in your breakfast food. That’s what the US Customs and Border Patrol unit working the Cincinnati airport dug out of the boxes of frosted corn flakes shipped out of Peru on their way to a private residence in Hong Kong. I’m not an expert on international cereal shipping practices but that right there, doesn’t that sound somewhat suspicious?

Maybe that’s not the standard procedure for shipping sugar coated flakes of corn, but it might be just the exact way one moves cocaine around the world! Yes, those white crystals coating the corn flakes weren’t your everyday ordinary sugar crystals. Them there white thingies were cocaine. Forty-four pounds of cocaine. Talk about being grrrreat! That’ll put some pop in your snap and crackle. Now there’s one lucky lucky charm. Don’t stop me now I have a million of them.

That was far far far from the first time food was used to disguise a drug shipment. For some reason all of the news outlets ended the story with how last year Italian officials confiscated cocaine packed in individually hollowed out coffee beans but there are so many others they could have mentioned and not all looked like cut and paste news hacks. For instance, over the last 5 or 6 years cocaine has been smuggled packed in raw meat, carrots, cucumbers, bananas, and powdered drink mixes. My personal favorite is the cocaine packed pineapples, 400 pounds of it packing in hollowed out pineapples uncovered in Spain.

So you see, how could I go with counterfeit masks when phony flakes were asking to be uncovered.

 

It Seemed Like a Good Idea

How many times have you worked up what you were certain was a perfectly good plan, an acceptable idea, a jolly good show, only to find upon execution than what you really discovered was a newer, quicker, better than new and improved way to a folly good show? We all have failures in our back pockets. Some of us consider them learning experiences. Others may try to bury them. Or as one young man recently attempted, to drown his.

Good ideas are hard to come by. When we think we might be on to something the last thing we want to happen is to see somebody else beat us to the patent office with that better mousetrap because we took the time to think things through twice. Now make no mistake about it, the world is indeed still looking for the mousetrap to beat all mousetraps but it ain’t gonna hurt to stop and give that thought a second or third go ‘round through the old noggin.

There are times some of us share our ideas with others before acting on them. The prudent among us at least listen to the advice, consider the advice, perhaps rethink some or all of our thought and then seek again even more advice. And then there are times we don’t even have to consider the advice. If that advice is “heck yeah, that’s amazing!” we probably won’t question our logic. Likewise it the advice is “you’re on really thin ice” we return to the starting point and rethink that whole though. Usually.

Sometimes our plans are so outrageous we disown them. “No, I didn’t do/think/say that!” even coming up with an alternate “plan” when someone suspects we really did do/think/say that. Sometimes, very few times fortunately, we go ahead and do something particularly unthinkable and get caught for all the world to see. And then quite rarely we get caught with such a bad plan someone like me will come along and make sure as much of the world as I can reach gets to see it because, well, because sometimes stupid cries out to be heard or otherwise you just won’t believe people still come up bonehead ideas like this. Like what?

Like this: ↓

2021-02-18cp

If you like you can read the whole story here but the gist of it is that the young man, um, make that the old enough to know better man thought: a) it would be fun to drive across the lake or b) it was a parking lot. Or perhaps c) all the above? since he gave both reasons to the local police.

So remember boys and girls, when you think you have a really good idea, don’t believe everything you think! (Oh, where have I heard that before?)

Chasing Groundhogs

20210202_083853

For Twelve days I chased that groundhog, that rodent brought to me …

Twelve handlers handling
Eleven chipmunks chatting
Ten marmots munching
Nine ground squirrels chomping
Eight gophers going
Seven woodchucks chucking
Six lemurs lounging

five – hollow – trees! 🐾

four woolen mufflers 🧣
three top hats 🎩
two fur-lined mittens🧤

and a shadow for him to later see 🕳

 

 

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