Wednesday, November 25, 2015

Full moon tonight.

Joe was known to be combative, and proud of his new flashlight. 

Tuesday, November 24, 2015


As I've mentioned before, I'm the guy who got a SodaStream for Christmas a few years ago and is still using it to this day. I know you were wondering who it was. Yes, it is I.

But SodaStream has pulled a shenanigan I do not like. Normally I don't mind a shenanigan or two. A good shenanigan is just fine with me, in fact. But this one, I don't cotton to, no sir.

On the left is one of the older 16.9-oz. bottles of the SodaStream syrup (what they call soda mix). On the right is one of the new 14.8-oz. bottles. Naturally, they are sold for the same price. So now you get 2.1 fewer ounces.

Is the taste any better? Not that I can tell.

Countertop beverage production has become a jungle. No, really. I had heard a rumor that SodaStream was hoping to get bought up by Keurig, inventor of the K-cup, but Keurig rebuffed them, electing to come out with the Keurig Kold. The latter had one huge advantage over SodaStream: brand-name sodas. (Sodastream has had Kool-Aid and Crystal Light and Ocean Spray flavors, but not big soda names like Coke and Dr Pepper.) And now, Sodastream has countered by making a deal with Pepsi and making a machine that works similar to the K-cup for it.

All this fighting has got to cost big money, and that's why I'm getting gypped 2.1-oz. on every new bottle. Plus, the new measuring cap is a little larger; the old cap was marked to hold just under a 1/4 cup per 1L bottle; now you're expected to use a full 1/4 cup per bottle. So you would go through the soda mix faster even if they hadn't knocked 2.1 ounces off the size.

Why does SodaStream have to balance its books on my back? And considering what we drop on K-cups around this place, I feel like I'm being taxed to pay both sides in this war.

What's that? I could drink water? Tap water?

I'm sure I don't know what you mean.

Monday, November 23, 2015

Dog vs. Child.

I have a bone to pick with Jim Gaffigan.

This is very difficult, since both of us are well-known eaters, and two rottweilers would probably be more civil over a bone than he and I. Further, I'm a nobody writer and he's one of the country's most successful comics. He was the Hot Pockets Guy, for goodness sake.

But now he's a best-selling author too, which for those of us who just toil at our writing and don't get up on stage and haul in wads of cash seems like poaching. Anyway, he wrote this:

And it is an, unfortunately, very funny book, all about raising his five children, or rather, about his wife raises five children while he tries to nap and eat. But in that book he often writes about how people in Manhattan, where he lives, react to his family, especially in restaurants, church, etc. As you can imagine, horror is high on their list.

In the piece "Dogfight," though, we come to our disagreement. "Occasionally," he writes, "a dog will be presented as some training method for having a baby. 'My girlfriend and I got a dog. We are going to see if we can handle that before we have kids.' This is a little like testing the waters of being a vegetarian by having lettuce on your burger."

I object! Kind of. I mean, I'm not arguing with the heart of his premise, that raising a child is much, much harder than raising a dog. No fight there. And he does yield some things in favor of the dog difficulty, like "With children, you can look forward to a time when they eventually learn to feed and bathe themselves." But he's on weaker ground with pro-dog statements like "Dogs come when you call their name." If he's ever had a dog, I would guess he never had one go off to chase after a bunny.

I think there are legitimate reasons why getting a dog might make a good test run before having a child. The idea is that you need a means to break through the modern person's self-consumption, and a dog can help with that. You can't sleep in anymore when you have a dog; he's used to routine, and part of his routine is that he gotta pee at the same time every morning whether it's Wednesday or Saturday. Oh, sure, you're the master, and he has to wait... if you don't mind torturing your poor little doggie. (Guilt is good training for having children, too.)

There will be times when the dog heaves, and maybe in the middle of the night! There will be times when he goes from being sweet lovey pup to someone who flouts your affection for personal gain in minutes and makes you crazy. There may be vet visits with bills that make you wonder what you'd be doing with all your excess dough if you hadn't gotten a dog. There will be times when he's so disobedient, even so mean, that you think it's a good thing you never found a secret place to hide corpses because it would be getting a dog one soon. And there will be times when he follows you and you know he'd follow you anywhere, anywhere at all; or he just sits there waiting for a pat like it's the most wonderful thing in the world; and you think that the only thing sadder in creation than the fact that you will probably outlive him is the possibility that by some twist of fate he could outlive you.

And that's why I don't find it objectionable that someone could think getting a dog is a good test to see if he or she is too selfish to have a child. It's not a guarantee---"I handled a dog, so I could handle a baby!"---more like an initial screening test.

I had to say my piece, but don't want to get into an actual fight with Gaffigan. He should know that you never punch down. And he looks like a pretty big guy. Anyway, with five kids, he's much too busy to deal with guys who write books and don't have TV shows.

Sunday, November 22, 2015

Why does the heart get all the songs?

People who get heart transplants don't suddenly wind up with the emotions of the person who donated the heart, as far as we know. Neurologists will be happy to tell us at length that the emotions, while influence by other biological processes, all come out of the brain. But we still think of emotions as being seated in the heart.

It is reasonable---when you get an emotional response, it's your heart that responds. When you say that your heart dropped, your heart skipped a beat, your heart ached, your heart melted, even that your heart broke, you're describing legitimate physical feelings that occur in the vicinity of the heart. When you say your brain froze up during a test, you don't actually feel like ice is forming on your head. At least I've never felt that.

No, the heart grabs all the credit for the emotions, and the heart gets almost all the songs. Eyes get some songs; heads a few; some dirty songs give us some more base organs. But that's about it.

What about all the other organs that we all have? Other organs we all enjoy, that we would all hate to part with? Just because the heart feels doesn't mean our other organs shouldn't get a song. Take the nose. Aren't we are all glad that we have noses?

Aside from these guys, I guess.
But then I looked over some well-known heart songs, and...

My Nose Will Go On
Noses Afire
This Nose of Mine
Hard-Nosed Hannah
Your Nose Is as Black as Night
Young Noses Run Free
Nose and Soul
Tell It to My Nose
Cold Cold Nose
Me and My Broken Nose
How Can You Mend a Broken Nose
Nose of Glass
Nose of Gold
Nose of Stone
Nose Wants What It Wants
Don’t Go Breaking My Nose
Nosebreak Hotel
Un-Break My Nose
Hole in My Nose (All the Way to China)
Total Eclipse of the Nose
With a Child’s Nose
Nose-Shaped Box
Nose Like a Hand Grenade
Noseache Tonight
Hungry Nose
The Nose of the Matter
Two Noses
Two Noses Beat as One
Yeah, I guess we'll stay with the hearts.

Unless... Pancreas songs...?

Saturday, November 21, 2015

This holiday season, give yourself to the Dark Side!

What says "Happy Christmas" more than an stuffed-toy ornament featuring a guy who'd destroy a planet full of innocent people just to prove a point? 

I'm not going into my song and dance about the flaws of the Star Wars universe and the foolishness of lovin' baby Darth all over again. You can read all about that here, if you like. 

I know Hallmark has been making Star Wars ornaments as part of its Christmas ornaments for a long time, at least since 1997. But those have been normal-looking Vaders, as far as I've seen, not the cute 'n cuddly Disney-fied Vader. I noted in that earlier commentary that Disney had not yet made a Darth Vader Tsum Tsum but that I expected it to happen, and this ornament is pretty close. 

Why do people want to put a mass-murdering stooge on the tree, anyway? To scare the kids? "If you keep being naughty, instead of Santa paying you a call you'll get THIS GUY... And he finds your lack faith disTURBING...."

Maybe next year we could have an ornament of Hannibal Lecter chomping some dude.

Geez, I shouldn't give anyone any ideas. 

I guess it could be worse. People might actually want to put THIS GUY on the tree:

Noooo! Not OLAF! The HORROR!!!!!

Friday, November 20, 2015


If you're an earthworm, or an earthwormophile, you may wish to look away... the following blog entry contains some images you may find disturbing.

Solid rain all day yesterday, driving earthworms out all over the pavement. So many will never find their way back to soil, and become bird food or desiccated worm corpses (and then bird food). This seems to be my week for encountering dead or dying animals.

I can't remember seeing so many flushed out in the fall. In the early spring, when the ground is still partly frozen, you expect to see it after a deluge.

Hard life for a worm. It occurs to me that probably not until the advent of tar-bound macadam did earthworms have this problem. Sure, they've always gotten flushed out, but when a worm gets flooded onto dirt roads, cobblestones, or gravel, access to the earth was just inches away. Now they can be swept whole feet or even yards from the precious loam. That's quite a way to crawl for an earthworm aboveground. And that's if he sets off crosswise on the path and not lengthwise. It's not like earthworms have GPS.

I've always felt a bit of kinship with earthworms, having had to eat plenty of dirt in my career. The earthworm was the only thing I ever had to dissect in school, as I managed to be ill on Frog Day (and budget cuts put an end to Fetal Pig Day). They're about the only thing above or below the surface of my lawn that's actually good for my lawn. And here they are, flooded out onto the short road to ruin.

Ah, earthworm! Ah, humanity!

Thursday, November 19, 2015

Feeling squirrelly.

We city slickers tend to think of spring as mating season, but of course that's silly; the reason we see baby critters in the spring is because the mating went on when the weather was getting cold.

I'm told the deer are getting frisky, and they certainly are acting weird. One buck started stalking my dog, until my dog noticed and chased him away. Despite the largeness of my pup, this was no weight class mismatch like a heavyweight vs. a welterweight; this was like a heavyweight vs. the baby child of a flyweight. But the huge deer was quickly vanquished nonetheless.

According to one fellow who sounds like he should know, squirrel mating season does not begin again until December. But when I spotted this ex-squirrel in the street, gone to join the Choir Invisible, my first thought was: He had to be chasing a dame.

We know what it's like, right boys? You're humming along on the telephone wire, doing fine; next thing you know there's some dame, and you rush out into danger like a moron, and---

Maybe I'm projecting.

What made it so on-target, though, was that I found this poor critter on the street outside a funeral home. I would have liked to have gotten a picture of the squirrel in the foreground and the funeral home in the background, offering undergraduate-level picture art expressing Irony and Juxtaposition and Deep Thoughts. But I didn't because:

A) I would have had to stand in traffic;

B) To get the squirrel and the funeral home in the same shot would have rendered the squirrel an unrecognizable speck at the bottom of the shot;

C) In these litigious times, the funeral home might have sued me for making them look sloppy about their space. (If you see a lovely, well-kept home in any American town it is probably the funeral home.)

I'll leave you with the classic song "Three Squirrels" by Joe Williams (not this one) (no, not this one either) (or him) (don't even think about him) (this is the one), courtesy of YouTube, in memory of all our nutty little gray friends. Stay safe out there, boys!