Monday, September 26, 2022


I was having trouble with Google Docs, because most people have trouble with Google Docs unless they spend a lot of time using Google Docs, but I have avoided that because I hate Google Docs. Nevertheless, it is sometimes the price I pay for working from home. Thing is, I thought I had screwed something up for a client because of my inexperience, and I apologized. The client asked me why I was apologizing, since I had done nothing wrong. 

I explained that I had just passed a big wedding anniversary, an if I had a secret to being a good husband it would be: Apologize first and ask questions later. 

"Just assume I'm sorry and then tell me what I did!"

There have been times when I've taken a different approach. Early on in our marriage, I usually thought: Well, if it was something important, I'm sure she'll tell me. This only prolongs the agony, at least for me, because she could fume a lot longer than I could ignore. She's of Irish descent, you know, and they can hold a grudge five hundred years after they're dead. 

Later, when I got more used to the things that really triggered this fury, I might think: I know what I did wrong but I feel embarrassed enough without rehashing it, so if I act contrite maybe it will go away. Oh, no, brother -- another rookie mistake. They never forget. They may forgive, but they never forget. (I'm not sure if I'm talking about the Irish or wives here, but it probably applies to both.)

My next tactic, going on the offensive ("What did I do wrong NOW?"), gets it out in the open, but not in a constructive way. It takes much longer for the whole situation to find resolution when you go from 0 to shouting in five seconds.

In the end, I have found that when I encounter The Scowl or the Wall of Cold, it's best to brace myself for whatever and ask what the problem is. Most of the time it's actually not me, but if I don't crack the ice I'll have to wait for the explosion. 

On the other side of the coin, when my wife does something that makes me sore, I usually just suck it up and refuse to talk about it. Never complain, never explain, right? Unless it's a real doozy, in which case I may go do something constructive, like clean up the cellar, in the LOUDEST WAY POSSIBLE.

Maybe my real secret to marriage is that both parties have to be able to put up with each other's BS. It takes two to tango, as they used to say, and everyone is full of BS sometimes. But if one side won't tango, there's not much that can be done. 

Sunday, September 25, 2022


Several of my friends are devotees of the dad joke, the sometimes-clever pun or other play on words that makes some people happy. Other people will look at you like this:

As does my wife. 

Poor thing: With no children within target range at the present time, she has to absorb the brunt of my dad jokes. And I am constantly tempted to fire them off, even when I know she's going to get mad. Not kidding -- she has run upstairs in disgust, cursing the day I ever thought I was funny. I don't recall what the joke was; it wasn't the classic about the agriculturist who is outstanding in his field, nor the golfer's favorite socks that got a hole in one. I'm sure it was a groaner, but still -- just because she was having a serious conversation doesn't mean she should be mad at attempts to lighten the mood. Sheesh.

And don't try to tell me people don't love dad jokes. The Internet is a cornucopia of dad jokes these days, and guys like my friend Wink (not his real name) memorizes them to spring on his children. I'm talking beauties like these: 

And my personal all-time favorite:

On Instagram there are many purveyors of dad jokes, but my favorite is FitDadCEO. He sets up his jokes as something he asked his son, who responds with a bad joke -- and is topped by a worse dad joke. (I've tried to link to a good one.)

PLWoodstock, who frequently comments on this site, is a walking library of bad jokes. I wonder if he maintains a secret presence online as a writer of dad jokes under another handle, or if just steals them like I do. 

Either way, all of us dad jokesters can agree on one thing -- our audience. 

But I'm afraid if I keep this up, I'll be like the calendar -- my days will be numbered. 

Saturday, September 24, 2022

Friday, September 23, 2022

Fall, and I can't get up.

So autumn pulled in yesterday and did doughnuts on the lawn, or maybe that was dog Izzy. It crashed the last of summer's party at nine last night, and this morning the temperature was in the forties. The torch has been passed. The equinox has been equinoxed.  

In other words, Fall has Fell, and I'm next. 

The problem is not autumn, of course, but that it is followed by winter, and that's where most of the trouble starts. Regular readers -- however irregular they may be in other ways -- know that I have a bad back and a tendency to collect concussions, and it's all made me down on winter. Worst of all, it's sucked a lot of joy out of autumn, which was always my favorite season. 

If that's not enough, Creeping Holiday Syndrome is beginning to overrun autumn entirely. I am intending to brave the shores of Walmart today, and I'll bet you I find Christmas decorations already on sale. They just can't help themselves. 

If you're in the neighborhood for the next six months, I'll be the guy with the Golden struggling to remain vertical through thick and thin. Those being: snow and ice. Stop and say hi, and give me a hand up if I've become spontaneously horizontal, will you? I thank you for your support. 

UPDATE: This morning.

Thursday, September 22, 2022

Voting test.

Friend and pest Mr. Philbin asks (I'm paraphrasing), "Why did you post that screed yesterday about efforts to get morons to vote without providing a solution?"

Well, I suppose he's right -- we can't stop Rock the Vote from trying to help idiots to go vote, let alone Google. They have a right of speech and assembly, although they and others like them would be happy to deny those rights to those who oppose them.

Aside from are commonsense fraud-prevention measures, like voter ID and requiring states to maintain updated voter rolls (and other racist! stuff like that, I know), I would suggest an exceptionally modest citizenship test for anyone who wants to vote. It would require no more than the broadest knowledge that could be gained from watching the "America Rock" section of the classic children's education series Schoolhouse Rock!, which was targeted at children of grammar-school age. Each episode is three minutes long, and there are twelve altogether (expanded from the original nine), and they explain some of our history and the reason for the structure of the government outlined in the Constitution. 

All I want is a test that would show that the voter has the slightest grasp of what the country is all about. Multiple-choice questions include things like:

1) Which document makes us a "nation of laws," meaning we have no monarch who can do whatever he wants?
a) Monroe Doctrine
b) Gettysburg Address
c) The Constitution
d) Hardee's Menu

2) What are the three co-equal branches of government?
a) Active, Passive, Aggressive
b) Executive, Legislative, Judiciary
c) Commons, Lords, Crown
d) Rich, Poor, Middle

3) In what century did adult American women win the right to vote?
a) 21st
b) 20th
c) 19th
d) 12th

4) Which is one purpose for the Electoral College as a means of choosing a president? 
a) To allow the Judiciary a voice in government.
b) To steal elections.
c) To give New Hampshire the first presidential primary.
d) To give smaller states a better chance of expressing their needs to the nation.

5) Who was the author of the Declaration of Independence?
a) Thomas Jefferson
b) B.B. King
c) Abraham Lincoln
d) Betsy Ross

Anyone who can't answer these really has no business voting,

The problem with a lot of modern elections is that our current tribalism is shattering us the way it did at the Civil War, only it's not just along state lines. We have no sense that the nation itself is important; only a demand that we get what we want from it. 

If you want to get biological about it, the orbitofrontal cortex of our brains is where we store our relative values, and if we have no ingrained sense of the "cool" values, the "hot" ones will win every time. Such as:

Cool value                                   Hot value
I want to lose weight.                   I want that doughnut!
I want to save money.                  I want to SHOP!
I want to be sober.                        Bad day and time to get my DRINK ON!
I want a strong nation.                 I want government to FIX MY [fill in blank] NOW!
I want my rights protected.         I want government to FIX MY [fill in blank] NOW!

The cool values were always taught to children and young adults by mature society; that ship has not entirely sailed, but it's down the river and heading out to sea. And young people and others who don't know all that much show it in their voting. Plus, they're being told in school that America is a big lump of crap anyway, so why not just get what you want from it?

"America Rock" could help fix this, in just twelve three-minute lessons. Then voters who pass the test can vote legally for the rest of their lives. And maybe they'd think a little better about the sacrifices and character of their ancestors as well. 

Wednesday, September 21, 2022

Get out the dopes.

I see Google is getting into its usual act, trying to make it easier for people who are too dumb to vote to get out and vote. 

The company would deny that it's trying to get only one particular kind of voter -- Leftist -- just as it would deny that its search results skew toward liberal media sources on any topic. But we know. 

Leftists, who think they are smarter than us idiots, somehow always do things to try to get the least-informed people to notch a ballot, and do it as many times as possible. This has been going on since the big Democrat machines of the Boss Tweed era, but has been institutionalized since Bill Clinton's Motor Voter Act of 1993. The idea then was to latch on to dumdums who wouldn't cross the street to vote but had to go to the Motor Vehicles department in their state, and get them to register to vote. It was opposed at the time by Rightists, but not very strongly, because no one wants to say that people who couldn't care less about voting should be discouraged from doing so. 

Well, I'll say it. 

MTV got on the bandwagon back when its M stood for Music (I think now it stands for Moron). Back in 1990 the station promoted the Rock the Vote nonprofit to get know-nothings off the sofa and into the voting booths. It was nominally nonpartisan, but we all know the way dummies who think the government exists to rob from the rich and give to everyone else will vote -- "Robbing selective Peter to pay for collective Paul," as Kipling put it. Back then it was assumed that all the rich people were white-shoed Thurston Howell IIIs, who would be made to pony up so college students and dropouts alike could have a cornucopia of free stuff. 

Things look rather different now. The rich people are all into radical chic and the nation is a lot farther in debt -- and the welfare state has expanded far beyond the fever dreams of FDR. 

An uninformed -- or worse, misinformed -- population is not fit for representative government, and this was a key reason public education was accepted nationally. But now we find that public education is becoming a large source of misinformation for youth. Some things voters ought to know but don't include:

✅ How government spending and debt affects the value of money itself;

✅ How rich people hide their money to keep it safe from taxation in ways the middle class cannot do;

✅ How the middle class is the only thing that keeps serfdom at bay, by having the wherewithal to stand up for itself;

✅ How the rotten history of any other country on this earth compares to that of the United States;

✅ How bills really become laws in the current degraded state of Congress (see for example the monstrosity called Obamacare)*;

✅ How much harder life is for the ignorant;

✅ How stable marriage is the best defense against poverty for men and women;

✅ How education has been directed toward frivolous tribalism and away from important facts -- facts of life that continue to operate whether we are aware of them or not.

Unfortunately, the more our stupid citizens (and others), educated in terrible schools, get out there and vote, the more stupid government we are likely to have. The basics of civilized society are not that hard to master, and yet somehow people can get through graduate school and know nothing about them. Alas!

*For example, how Charles Rangel introduced a spending bill in the House (where all spending bills must originate) with the friendly and anodyne title of "Service Members Home Ownership Tax Act of 2009"; the bill got to the Senate where it was completely stripped of its title and all its innards, stuffed as full of pork and socialism as a Thanksgiving turkey, then reconciled with the House under its new monstrous form -- a Trojan House virus, if you will -- to pretend that the spending bill originated in the people's House as demanded by the Constitution. It should have been thrown out by the Supreme Court just for that. 

Tuesday, September 20, 2022

Anti-cooking tip.

I don't know if you've ever made a recipe using prosciutto crudo, but if you ever do, don't do the stupid thing I did. 

Ah, yes, that delightful Italianate baconesque smoked pig, razor-thin slices of which are often found wrapped around melon, topped on bruschetta, or infusing salty wonder into recipes like this one. If you've ever eaten it, you know it's the best thing to come out of Italy since Marconi. If you've ever prepared a dish with it, you might be able to guess what double-dumbass thing I did. 

So there I am, cooking away, the prosciutto sitting patiently in its packaging on the counter, waiting to be chopped and then make its big entrance into the pan. When there's a break in the action I peel open the airtight plastic, and -- thinking this was like ordinary bacon -- I take my sharp little paring knife and zip zap zup run a crisscross pattern over the ham, cutting through all the slices. 

And also the razor-thin plastic sheet that separates each slice. 

Now, instead of peeling each bit of porcine goodness off the plastic sheet by sheet, I have to peel each tiny square off a tiny square of plastic -- and with the numerous slices in a three-ounce pack, that means maybe a hundred tiny squares. And I have to work fast, before everything gets cold or wilted and the pasta turns into a solid lump. Prosciutto sticks to plastic like a bum on a guy who's buying, and I have very short fingernails, and this turns into a production quickly. I'd ask my wife for help, but this is a woman who won't eat fish because of the one-in-a-thousand shot of getting a fishbone, so I'm thinking if she knows she might get a little piece of plastic stuck in her throat, that's going to put a damper on dinner. So I peel, peel, peel, cursing myself for a fool like Mr. T at a Fool Convention. 

The thing is, this was far from the first time I've ever used prosciutto, and I was well aware of the plastic between the slices, but I forgot just long enough to make this boneheaded error. 

Somehow I manage to get all the plastic off the prosciutto and serve the dinner with no incident.

Then she mentions that the dish is very salty; maybe it would be better without the prosciutto. 

I hang my head. My work here is done.