Friday, November 27, 2009

Associations, and Thanksgiving

Ever since this wonderful day almost two years ago, the sound of a dog lapping water from a bowl has been a joy to me. This morning I listened to Andrea lapping at 4:30. The simple joy hasn't diminished a bit.

I hope you had a joyful Thanksgiving.

Labels: , , ,

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

If I only had the nerve

Northern Bro: A few weeks ago Linda, the kids and I were in a local restaurant on a Sunday morning. A few tables over sat a young man with a T-shirt bearing the inscription: “This is America, speak English or get the F*** out!” (quote has been modified for content). Next to this inspirational saying was a picture of the Statue of Liberty.

Now, the shirt wasn’t all that unusual in our section of the country, nor was the proud public display of profanity. What was unusual was that another fellow diner pointed out to the man that the Statue of Liberty was built by people who spoke French and is in fact a symbol of our willingness to open our borders to immigrants. This person even pointed out the relationship between the Statue of Liberty and nearby Ellis Island. The lesson was lost on our poor T-shirt wearer who, as far as I know, left the restaurant as ignorant as he came in.

But the interaction got me to wondering how unusual it was to see someone question ignorant conservative trash to the trash bearer’s face. Why is that?

While pondering this I was reminded of a bumper sticker I saw more than a decade ago, shortly after returning to this state. I believe that the bumper sticker was old at that time and bespoke of a different time in our state’s history. It said: “Courage is being a Carroll County Democrat.” And then it struck me:

• Liberals don’t shoot doctors through their kitchen windows at night because they don’t like the way the doctor practices medicine, conservatives do.
• Liberals don’t beat a man senseless and then tie him to a fence in the middle of winter to die from exposure simply because they feel threatened by the man’s orientation, conservatives do.
• Liberals don’t torture people in the name of freedom and then, full of pride at their level of depravity, take photos so they can show their friends what wonderful value-driven Americans they are, conservatives do.

The list goes on and on. I myself have never been subjected to major discrimination (mostly because I keep my opinions to myself, present commentary excepted), but will note that when, after much deliberation, I put an Obama sign in my front yard last year, on two occasions ignorant yahoos in pick-up trucks screamed obscenities at my daughter and I as we enjoyed our yard. I find it hard to believe that a similar thing would have happened if I had a McCain/Palin sign in front of my home.

Jon Stewart is noted for saying that Democrats have 49% of the vote and 3% of the power (this was during the Bush years). I believe part of the reason is that we are just scared to stand up to the ignorant gun-loving reactionary yahoo conservatives on the other side. Someone once pointed out that the right-wing conservative Christian fanatics in America have a lot more in common with the fanatic Islamic suicide bombers than they to with real Christians and I am sure that is true. I am also sure that it isn’t too far a slide down that slippery slope from the place where it is OK to shoot doctors for practicing abortion to the place where it is OK to blow up an abortion clinic, or even a federal office building, day care center and all, simply because you disagree with the policies of our elected leaders.

So I tip my hat to that nameless person who pointed out the inconsistency on the yahoo’s T-shirt. I only wish I had been so brave, or so clever….. and I am grateful that the yahoo did not go out to his pick-up for his 2nd amendment guaranteed rifle and come back shootin’.

PS: My deepest apologies if I offended any owners of pick-up trucks. They truly are useful vehicles. I myself used to own one, and only sold it when it became necessary to have a vehicle into which I could strap a car seat. I miss that truck.

PPS: My sincere apologies to Yahoo's legal department. Really.

Monday, November 23, 2009


public void Promise()
while (!death)

catch (WorseException)

catch (PoorerException)

catch (SicknessException)




P.S. The original idea isn't mine. I lifted it from this post at Cake Wrecks.


Tuesday, November 17, 2009


Well, Jordanne and Judi Take a Trip was a bust, so you will be spared the follow-up, Jordanne and Judi Visit Goofy, and hearing Jordanne exclaim "Snot is splendid!"

On a totally different subject, Judi has been sick, and that resulted in this conversation:

Me: I think you have H1N1 flu.

Judi: Whatever happened to calling it swine flu?

Me: I don't know. Maybe it didn't really come from pigs. Or maybe pigs felt like they were being disrespected. But anyway, you're supposed to call it H1N1 now.

Judi: H1N1 sounds silly.

Me: I guess it means something to scientists.

Judi: But most people aren't scientists. But you remember leetspeak? If you look at it that way, it spells "hiney," so it would be the "hiney flu." Doesn't that make more sense?

It does. So if you see an old guy with glasses and without much hair talking about the Hiney Flu?

That would be me.

Labels: ,

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Jordanne and Judi Take a Trip

By Gregory Smith
Jordanne was a little girl who lived in Suffolk. She lived with her Mum, Dad, and little brother Lewis, in a blue house with a green garden.

Sometimes Jordanne played with her little brother Lewis, but little brothers can be such a bother, don't you know? Jordanne's real best friend was her beagle dog, whose name was Judi.

Jordanne's family was going on holiday to Florida, which is in America. Jordanne had never been to America, and she was very excited. But she said to Mum, 'What about Judi? Who will care for Judi whilst we're gone?'

'There's only one thing to do,' said Mum.

'Yes,' said Dad, 'and that's to take Judi with us on holiday.'

'Hooray!' shouted Jordanne, and Judi twirled around in circles.

When the time came, they all went to the airport: Jordanne, Lewis, Mum, Dad, Grandma (who was also coming on the holiday), and of course Judi. They had about six huge suitcases, and Judi had to ride in a cage that was small enough to fit under the seat in the aeroplane.

As soon as the aeroplane took off, Lewis fell asleep. Later, a stewardess served them sodas. Later still, the stewardess came back with food. For Jordanne she had a cheese and pickle sandwich and a bag of crisps. Jordanne didn't like the cheese and pickle sandwich. She ate her crisps, but whilst Mum and Dad were fussing with Lewis, who had awakened, she pushed her sandwich through the bars into Judi's cage.

Judi thought it was an absolutely wonderful cheese and pickle sandwich!

It was a very long flight. Lewis went back to sleep, and then Grandma fell asleep, too. After that, Mum fell asleep, and then Dad. Lots of people on the plane were sleeping, and the stewardess was nowhere to be seen.

Jordanne knew that Judi was cramped in her small cage under the seat. Judi looked so unhappy. Beagles love to run and play, and don't like to be in a cage.

'It can't hurt,' thought Jordanne, 'to let Judi out for just a minute.'

She unlocked Judi's cage, and the happy dog jumped in Jordanne's lap and licked her face.

'Shhh,' said Jordanne. 'We can't let anyone know that you're out.'

Judi lay in Jordanne's lap, with her chin on the arm of the seat, and closed her eyes. Jordanne scratched the back of Judi's neck. They were both so happy. Soon, Jordanne was…


When she woke, after what seemed like just a few minutes, Judi was gone! Oh, no!

Jordanne jumped out of her seat and looked up and down the aisle, but Judi was nowhere to be seen.

Jordanne stopped to think. Where would a beagle go, if she were on her own?

The kitchen! (Which on a plane is called the galley.)

The stewardess had brought their food from the front of the aeroplane, so Jordanne went that way. With most of the people sleeping, it was quiet. She found the galley near the front of the plane. It was a little room off to the side of the aisle.

And sure enough, there was Judi! She had torn open a big bag of those awful cheese and pickle sandwiches, and was eating them as fast as she could. As soon as she saw Jordanne, Judi drooped her ears and tucked her tail between her legs. But she didn't stop eating. No, she tried to eat even faster!

'Judi! Bad dog!' Jordanne whispered. 'I'm very cross with you!'

Jordanne wasn't big enough to carry Judi, but she grabbed the beagle's collar and dragged her away. Judi slunk along, her tail between her legs. She looked very sorry for what she had done. Jordanne tried to stay cross, but she was a good-hearted little girl, and couldn't bear to be angry. She knelt down and gave Judi a hug.

Judi seemed to feel that she was forgiven, and as soon as Jordanne let go of her she twirled in a circle and stopped, wagging her tail happily and looking up at her little girl. Then she turned and dashed off up the aisle, at top beagle speed!

Oh, no!

'JOO-DEE," Jordanne called, without stopping to think.

People started to wake up.

Judi jumped on the knees of a sleeping man who was dressed in a neat, light grey suit. The man had a round, pleasant face, with a grey moustache and a little beard, but when he suddenly woke and saw Judi, he wasn't very pleasant at all:

'No! No!' he shouted. He jumped up, sending Judi scrambling to the floor. Then he ran away up the aisle and locked himself in the toilet.

Next, Judi tried to make friends with a woman in a yellow dress.

'Beast!' cried the woman in a yellow dress, and she swung her purse by the strap, hitting Judi on the head. Judi slunk away up the aisle, wondering why the lady didn't like her.

Then Judi saw someone who looked as though she needed a friend: A young woman wearing a brown jacket that was buttoned all the way up to her chin. The young woman sat up straight and very stiff in her seat, with her hands clasped in her lap.

As Judi bounded up, the young woman yelped, 'Stay away from me! Stay away, I say!' and hopped into the lap of the young man seated next to her. 'Save me!' she said to the young man.

'Have we been introduced?' the young man answered.

By now all the passengers were in an uproar. Mum and Dad were in the aisle. Dad was looking for Judi, and Mum was frantic. 'Jordanne,' she cried, 'what have you done?'

Dad saw Judi and chased her up the aisle. 'Judi, come here!' he said, but not in a friendly way, the way Judi liked. 'Come here right now!'

Judi hid under a seat. Dad reached under and grabbed her collar. He picked her up and scooted her back into her cage, closing the door.

Everyone on the aeroplane was talking. Mum plopped Jordanne down in her seat. The stewardess stood over them and looked at Jordanne crossly.

'Little girl,' she said, "you shouldn't have let that dog loose in the aeroplane. That dog is supposed to stay in his cage. That's why you brought a cage. That's what a cage is for. Cages are for confining dogs. Don't you know that? Don't you know anything? And just look at the disturbance you've caused.'

While she was talking, the aeroplane's pilot came up behind her. Yes, the pilot! All the way from the front of the plane! 'And just look,' he said (and he was furious, believe you me), 'look at all the cheese and pickle sandwiches she ate! Do you know how much those sandwiches cost? And now we may not have enough sandwiches for all the passengers!'

Jordanne was about to tell to the stewardess that Judi was a her, not a his, and the pilot that the cheese and pickle sandwiches were awful, but her Mum (who knew her well) said, 'Shush!' to her, quite sharply.

The pilot and the stewardess marched away. All around them, Jordanne could hear people talking.

'Such an impertinent little girl!'

'Children are simply badly raised these days.'

'Do whatever they want.'

'When I was a child, I'd have gotten a good spanking, and rightly so.'

'Imagine the germs the little beast must have spread about."

Jordanne had started out angry, but now she began to cry. She felt so unhappy. After a few minutes, she felt something else, too.

'Mum," she said quietly, 'I have to go to the toilet.'

Mum took her hand and led her to the toilet, which was in the back of the plane. Mum was still cross. And as they walked up the aisle, the other passengers stared at her and sniggered.

When they got to the toilet, someone else was using it, and there was a queue. The man in the light grey suit was first, and the woman in the yellow dress was behind him. Then came Jordanne and her Mum.

The man in the light grey suit went in. When he came out, he was putting something away in his breast coat pocket, but he stopped to say to Jordanne, 'Little girl, I do hope you're ashamed of yourself.'

He returned to his seat. A little light on the toilet door said, 'In Use.' Then the light went out, and the woman in the yellow dress came out. She saw Jordanne and said, 'Hmph!' and raised her purse, as though she was going to swing it. But she didn't.

Jordanne sat on the loo and cried.

The other passengers settled down after a while. It was a long flight.

Eventually, they landed in Orlando. The plane taxied to the terminal. Everyone was ready to get off, when suddenly some policemen appeared at the front of the plane. A voice came over the loudspeaker system: 'This is Officer Dooley, of the Orlando Police Department. We won't keep you long. We have information that a diamond thief is on this flight, and we want to look for him. Or her.'

Everyone started talking. A diamond thief! On this flight! Goodness! Police officers in blue uniforms started down the aisle. Everyone was quiet. The officers looked at each passenger closely, sometimes stopping to ask questions. But they didn't look very closely at Jordanne and Lewis, who after all didn't look like diamond thieves.

Then Officer Dooley spoke over the loudspeaker again: 'Sorry for the delay. You can disembark now. Thanks for your patience.'

Everyone started talking again.

'Well,' said Grandma (did you forget Grandma was along?), 'I would say they didn't find him.'

'Or her,' added Mum.

In the terminal, Jordanne and her family stood in a long queue with all the other passengers. Judi's cage was sitting on the floor. Judi bumped against the sides, trying to get comfortable. Then, out of nowhere, another beagle ran up and sniffed briefly at Judi and her cage. Jordanne was surprised. The new beagle was wearing a green coat, and wasn't in a cage, only on a leash. Judi tried to wag her tail, but she didn't have room.

A man in a green uniform was holding the new beagle's leash.

'Who is she?' Jordanne asked the man in the green uniform.

'He's a he, not a she,' said the man. 'His name is Jake, and he belongs to the Beagle Brigade. The beagles in the Beagle Brigade sniff all the luggage on all the planes coming to America. They look for things that people are bringing in that they shouldn't.'

Jordanne looked around, and saw there were other beagles in green coats. They were running back and forth, sniffing all of the luggage that the passengers had carried off the aeroplane.

Jordanne looked at Judi. And then she looked at the Beagle Brigade beagles. She spun around. The man in the light grey suit was a short distance back in the queue. Jordanne walked right up to him, put her fists on her hips, and said loudly, 'You're the diamond thief!'

'Jordanne!' cried Mum, horrified. 'Come back here this moment!'

'No I won't!' said Jordanne. 'This man is a diamond thief.'

Everyone was looking at them.

'Little girl,' said the man in the light grey suit, becoming very angry, 'you are the naughtiest little girl I have ever known. Stop bothering me! Go away!'

Jordanne pushed her fists even harder against her hips. 'You're the diamond thief!'

'Little girl! Stop bothering me! Right now!'

'Jordanne!' said Mum, taking Jordanne's arm, 'stop this instant!'

'He's the diamond thief!'

'Obey your mother,' said the man in the light grey suit, 'the way a good girl should. Leave me alone!'

'Now hang on a minute,' said an American voice. It was Officer Dooley, of the Orlando Police Department. He had come up beside Jordanne, and he was looking closely at the man in the light grey suit. Suddenly he stepped forward and grabbed the man's moustache between his thumb and forefinger. He pulled.

'Ouch!' said the man in the light grey suit, but the moustache and beard pulled off! It was a disguise!

'Look!' said Officer Dooley. 'It's Dutch Meeker, the world famous jewel thief! Grab 'im, boys!'

Two boys - actually two police officers, one a man and one a woman - jumped forward and grabbed Dutch Meeker by the arms.

'The stolen diamonds are in his breast coat pocket,' said Jordanne. Officer Dooley reached inside Meeker's coat and drew out a small cloth bag.

'Well now, here they are, right where the little girl said. Whaddaya know. Cuff 'im, boys.' The woman officer put handcuffs on Dutch Meeker's wrists. 'Do you have anything to say for yourself, Meeker?'

'How did you know?' Dutch Meeker asked Jordanne.

'You were sleeping on the plane,' said Jordanne, 'when Judi jumped on you and woke you. You were frightened, and ran back to the toilet. I saw you. I just now realized that that was because you thought we had landed, and Judi was with the Beagle Brigade. You knew about the Beagle Brigade, and you thought she was going to find the diamonds. So you ran and hid them, so they wouldn't be found on you. Later, when you found that Judi was only Judi, you went back and got the diamonds. I was there in queue with you, and I wondered why you needed to go to the toilet again, when you had just been. And I saw you put the diamonds in your pocket when you came out.'

Dutch Meeker's chin dropped down on his chest.

'Case closed!' said Officer Dooley, and he picked Jordanne up and set her on his shoulders. He swept through the terminal carrying Jordanne, and a parade of people fell in behind them: Dutch Meeker, with the policeman and policewoman on either side, and Jake on his leash leading the man in the green uniform, and the stewardess from the aeroplane, and Mum and Dad and Grandma, and a smiling Lewis (he loved parades), and the lady in the yellow dress, and the aeroplane's pilot, and even the young woman in the buttoned-up brown jacket.

'I'm terribly sorry,' she said to the man in the green uniform. 'It's just that I'm so allergic to dogs. They make me sneeze.'

'That's too bad,' said the man in the green uniform.

Then someone let Judi out of her cage, and she ran ahead, stopping to look back to make sure everyone was following. It was a great parade!

'Jordanne's a hero!' said someone.

'Hooray for Jordanne!' said someone else.

'Don't forget Judi!' said Jordanne.

'We'll make Judi an honorary member of the Beagle Brigade,' said the man in the green uniform.

'And no one ever liked those cheese and pickle sandwiches anyway,' said the pilot.


The Beagle Brigade beagles really exist! You can meet them on the Internet at


Monday, November 09, 2009

Tomorrow I will look ridiculous

Among the most fundamental rules of writing are these:

Rule 1: Never write in dialect.

Rule 2: If you choose to violate Rule 1, only write in a dialect that you speak yourself, and know well.

Rule 3: If you choose to violate Rule 2, prepare to look ridiculous.

Back in 2002 we had some friends visit from England. The family included a little girl named Jordanne, that I was very taken with. After they left, I decided to write a series of children's stories about a fictional little girl named Jordanne, who is vacationing with her family in Florida. Vacationing with her family... and her pet beagle named Judi (you can analyze that all you want).

So far so good, but this is where I went off the rails: I decided to try to write the stories in English dialect (see Rule 1, above). My only exposure to British accents was the several weeks our friends had been around (see Rule 2, above).

I had outlines in mind for the first four stories in the series, but then I learned something they don't teach you in writing class: Not only does writing in a dialect you don't know make you look ridiculous (see Rule 3, above), it's also really hard work. I slogged through the first two stories, Jordanne and Judi Take a Trip and Jordanne and Judi Visit Goofy, and then I gave up.

Anyway, that was back in 2002. No one has seen the stories since. So why bring it up now? Because I've decided to post the first story, Jordanne and Judi Take a Trip, to this blog tomorrow. And I wanted to warn you. Because while it's short for a story, it's really long for a blog post. We'll see how it goes before I decide whether to post the second story.

Tune in tomorrow...


Monday, November 02, 2009

Tomorrow is Election Day...

...and I've had a number of email messages this past week exhorting me to vote for this person, who is running for Mayor; and this other person and this another person and this yet another person, all running for city council in tomorrow's hotly contested elections in...

...Dearborn, Michigan.

The only time in my life that I even set foot in Michigan was an hour layover in the Detroit airport on a flight to Milwaukee. And the only thing I can say about the Detroit airport -- which is all of Michigan I've ever seen -- is that the Roman Catacombs must compare favorably. My hike through the dark, cramped, and ancient tunnels of the Detroit airport would at least have yielded a more interesting story if I had taken it through the Catacombs instead.

So... elections in Dearborn tomorrow? I guess someone filled out a form and made a mistake writing his or her email address, or someone else made a mistake typing it, but here I am, sitting in Florida, unable to vote, but getting these emails and hoping like heck that up there in Dearborn, tomorrow, the good guys are going to win.

Labels: ,

Sunday, November 01, 2009

You, too, can learn to organ in just ten easy lessons!

It's been a while since I commented on an Oxford English Dictionary Word of the Day. But today's Word was...

...air guitar.

Not the noun. The verb. As in (OED's citation):
2003 Bang Apr. 13/1 The former Spacemen 3 leader nearly knocks his pint over while air-guitaring.

Seriously. Air guitaring. Not playing air guitar.

It seems to me that if air guitaring is an accepted verb for "playing air guitar", then guitaring should be fine as a verb meaning "playing guitar"? No? As in:

"Eric Clapton's guitaring brought the audience to its feet."

(Or would that be, "Eric Clapton's guitaring feeted the audience"? -- just kidding. I think. :)

Anyway! All I have to say to Eric Clapton, B.B. King, Mark Knopfler, and the legion others is...

Guitar On!


This page is powered by Blogger. Isn't yours?