Saturday, January 30, 2010

Saturday Novel 5

Scene Five

"Hi, Michael," said the shapely brunette, as Michael entered the mail room.

"Hey, Miranda," Michael replied.

"Looks like you'll be here awhile," she remarked, nodding toward the armful of papers Michael held.

"Um, yeah. Mr. Crickmeyer wants me to hand off my projects to two or three other people so I have to make copies of everything."

"Are you leaving us?"

"Sort of. I'm being reassigned to R & D, up on the sixth floor."

Miranda smiled. "Well, at least you'll still be in the building, and that's good, because I like you."

"I, um, like you, too," Michael said, blushing.

Miranda smiled again. "It's good that we like each other," and she squeezed past him on her way out of the mail room, touching him on the elbow as she passed.

Michael watched Miranda's aerodynamic curves a moment longer, then turned to survey the giant commercial copier in front of him, with its dashboard of buttons and displays. He knew no fear when it came to this machine, for it often seemed to him that he was born to command it.

"Captain, the Xeroxians have opened fire!"

"Evasive maneuvers, Mr. Frieze. Weapons Officer, return fire!" Michael swiveled his captain's chair back to the main viewscreen. "I've just been given command, I'm not going to lose this starship already!" he thought determinedly to himself.

Suddenly the deck tilted violently as the energy discharge from the Xeroxians impacted the shields, and a cascade of sparks flew up from the navigation panel. The helmsman cried out in agony, then fell from his chair. Michael rushed to take his place. "I'll just have to fly her, myself," he growled.

His hands flew over the controls in front of him. "All hands! Prepare for Tactical Combat Attack Pattern Zeta!!" he shouted over the red alert alarm klaxons ringing everywhere. "Weapons, transfer control of the phaser batteries to this console!" Then, his hands dancing on the array in front of him once again, he threw the ship into a lightning-quick series of twists, turns, drops, rises, spins, and rolls, finally coming up behind the Xeroxian ship. "Oh, I've got you now," Michael thought as his finger stabbed the firing switch.

A bolt of pure plasmic energy shot from the bow and incinerated the Xeroxian ship. A cheer went up from the crew as it exploded into millions of sub-atomic particles and dispersed slowly.

Their joy was short-lived, however, as within moments another crewman yelled, "Captain! Three more Xeroxian vessels decloaking. They've got us surrounded sir, and are demanding we surrender!"

"We'll never surrender," Michael snarled. "I've been in the jelly worse than this."

"Jam," said a female voice quietly in his ear.

Michael blinked. "What?"

"I said you've got a jam. A paper jam," and Miranda pointed to the copier's display.

"Oh. Oh, yes," Michael replied as he reached for the copier doors. "Thank you."

"Do you need any help?"

"No, I don't think so," Michael said as he surveyed the situation. "I've, uh, I've been in worse jams than this. Thanks, though," and Michael turned back to the machine.

"Well, if you need help, call me," and Miranda walked to the door of the mail room, then turned back, "in fact, why don't you call me, anyway?" and then she slipped away.


What's this? A love interest for Michael? What should happen next? (Keep it clean, people.)


You can read all five scenes of my "Saturday Novel" by clicking the "Saturday Novel" label to the lower right of this page.

Friday, January 29, 2010

Cross Breeds

Just a short post today, to make up for yesterday's novella.


What do you get when you cross...

A fawn with a hornet?

A pig with a cactus?
A porker pine.

A cat with a lemon?
A sourpuss.

A banana with some light red lingerie?
A pink slip.

A chicken with a bell?
An alarm cluck.

An Eskimo with a nudist colony?
A polar bare.

A dove with a high chair?
A stool pigeon.

A tree with a baseball player?
Babe Root.

A parrot with a centipede?
A walkie-talkie.

A rabbit with a kilt?

A hummingbird with a doorbell?
A humdinger.

A dog with a chicken?
A hen that lays pooched eggs.

[Top Greetings via Wit and Wisdom; some small edits by Mark Raymond]


We have one day left in the month. January has hastened its way through the year, already. Remember the Saturday Novel tomorrow and maybe a rant on Sunday (I can feel one building up).


WEB SITE of the WEEK: Just like Free Rice donates grains of rice to hunger organizations when you choose the correct definition of a word, and donate 10 pieces of dog or cat kibble to animal shelters when you correctly answer a trivia question. All three sites are fun, and helpful. Bookmark them as favorites and visit often!


Mark's Musings is sent each weekday using Ezine Director and I pay a little more to make sure my posts are certified by Habeas to be a safe source of e-mail. That means no ads, no spam, and no worries. Subscribe, view past issues in my Archives, and do other things over at my web site. To contact me and someday get a reply, click here. I think God created cats so we'd learn the joy of taking naps and God created dogs so we'd get outside and walk a bit. You can forward or reprint Mark's Musings freely but please keep the credits attached. The credits are housebroken and may remain inside the post. Original material and musings © 2010 by Mark Raymond. I update this blog with a copy of my e-mail post daily (plus I often add graphics) and very occasionally with "bonus material" whenever the mood or muse strikes. Look for the label that says "bonus" and you can bring all that extra material up with one click. My personal mission statement remains John 3:30. Find me on Facebook at Hmmm. If dogs=exercise, maybe I *should* get a dog. Maybe in the Spring, though....


WORDS for YOUR WEEKEND: "The person who knows how will always have a job. The person who knows why will always be his boss." (Diane Ravitch)

Thursday, January 28, 2010

In the Beginning

So how can the Internet be more helpful for you?

How about serving as an egg timer?

Tell the site how large your egg is, if it came from the refrigerator, how well you want it cooked, and it will play a slightly nutty video from YouTube that runs the exact length of the time it takes to boil your egg.

Call it a more interesting way to watch water boil.



In the beginning, God created the Heaven and the Earth. And the Earth was without form, and void, and darkness was upon the face of the deep.

And Satan said, "It doesn't get any better than this!"

And then God said, "Let there be Light!" And there was Light.

And God said, "Let the earth bring forth grass, the herb yield seed, and the fruit tree yield fruit."

And God saw that it was good.

And the Devil said, "There goes the neighborhood."

And then God said, "Let us make Man in our own image, after our likeness, and let him have dominion over the fish of the sea, and over the fowl of the air, and over the cattle, and over all the earth. And over every creeping thing that creepeth upon the earth."

And so God created Man in his own image. Male and Female he created them. And God looked upon Man and Woman and saw that they were fit.

And Satan said, "I think I know how to get back into this game."

And God placed upon the earth broccoli and cauliflower and spinach and green and yellow vegetables of all kinds, so that Man and Woman would live long and healthy lives.

And then Satan created fast food restaurants. And the fast food restaurants brought forth the double cheeseburger.

And Satan said to Man, "You want fries with that?"

And Man said, "Super Size them," and gained five pounds.

And then God created the healthy yogurt that Woman might keep the figure Man found so fair.

And the Devil brought forth chocolate, and Woman gained five pounds.

And God said, "Try my crispy salad."

But Satan brought forth Ben and Jerry's, and Woman gained ten pounds.

And God said, "I have sent thee heart-healthy vegetables and olive oil in which to cook them."

And the Devil brought forth chicken-fried steak so large it needed its own platter, and Man gained ten pounds, and his bad cholesterol went through the roof.

And God brought forth running shoes, and Man resolved to lose those extra pounds.

And Satan brought forth cable television with remote control so Man would not have to toil in changing channels between ESPN and ESPN2, and Man gained another twenty pounds.

And Man went into cardiac arrest, and God sighed, then invented quadruple bypass surgery.

And the Devil canceled Man's health insurance.

Then God showed the Woman how to peel the skin off chicken and cook the nourishing grain of whole wheat rice, and God created the life-giving tofu.

But Woman ventured forth into the land of Godiva chocolates and upon returning, inquired of Man, "Do I look fat?"

And Satan whispered to Man, "Always tell the truth," and Man did.

And Woman went out from the presence of Man and dwelt in the land of the divorce lawyer, east of the marriage counselor. And Woman put aside the healthy seeds of the earth and took unto herself comfort food.

And God brought forth Weight Watchers.

It didn't help.

And God created exercise machines with easy payments.

And Man brought forth his Visa at 21 percent interest, and the exercise machine went to dwell in the closet east of Nod, south of the polyester leisure suit.

And in the fullness of time, Woman received the exercise machine from Man in the divorce settlement.

It didn't help her, either.

[originally seen in Doc's Daily Chuckle; slightly abridged by Mark Raymond]


WISDOM for YOUR WEEK: "Ask and it will be given to you; seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened to you. For everyone who asks receives; he who seeks finds; and to him who knocks, the door will be opened." (Matthew 7:7-8)


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Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Airline Bankruptcy Signs

My wife usually travels to Florida twice a year, to help her mother on their annual "snowbird" migrations. This last time, she stayed for nearly a week and had to check a bag. Which cost money.

Couple that with recent news that most major airlines have once again raised their fees for checked luggage, and we suddenly have incentive to check out this site.



In-flight movie is black-and-white 8mm footage of the pilot at age 4.

Boarding passes: cheap. Unboarding passes: real expensive and only sold mid-flight.

The reservations clerk laughs when you ask for a return flight.

Air sickness bags are chained to the seat and re-used.

First class seats are filled with UPS packages.

[Chris White's Top Five on Travel]


WONDER for YOUR WEEK: Do pilots on British airplanes sit on the right hand side of the cockpit?


Mark's Musings swoops in on an RSS Feed, wiggles its wings on a Facebook Note, does a loop-de-loop on Amazon's Kindle, and can fly straight into your own Inbox each weekday (for free) by clicking here.

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Classified Typos

Well, this is hard to believe.

A new study, done in England, seems to suggest that far from eroding our children's literacy skills, sending text messages on their cell phones actually seems to enhance them.

That's just gr8.



1984 CHRYSLER FIFTH AVENUE - 62k miles, ps, pw, won't last.
(Maybe I won't buy it, then.)

(Apparently neutered, but not circumcised.)

SILVER TRUMPET - w/two extra moth pieces.
(Not used in a while?)

FIG TREE, POTTED - Indoor/Outdoor, Fruit Baring, $25.
(Don't fig leaves cover things up?)

PEARL DRUMSET - with pro-stand & all drums and symbols, $300.
(May be featured in Dan Brown's next book.)

FOR SALE - One chord of firewood.
(Maybe it used to be a piano.)

LOOKING TO CLEAN HOMES - Call (phone number), leave mess.
(How am I going to get my house through the phone line?)

[selected from "The Word Guy," Rob Kyff via Arcamax; some punchlines written by Mark Raymond]


WORDS for YOUR WEEK: "The young always have the same problem - how to rebel and conform at the same time. They have now solved this by defying their parents and copying one another." (Quentin Crisp)


Mark's Musings comes on an RSS Feed, Facebook Note, Amazon Kindle, and via e-mail each weekday (even in plain text version). Click here and subscribe; it's quick.

Monday, January 25, 2010

Math Movies

I heard on National Public Radio this past weekend that British mathematician Simon Blackburn has worked out the *perfect* mathematical formula for a *perfect* parallel parking process.

It's all described in detail here.

In the article, they call it "simple mathematics," but if that's their version of simple, I'm going to have to go back to school.



Primes of Passion

The Math of Khan

Deriving Miss Daisy

Planet of the Eighths

The Dirty Square Root of One Hundred Forty-Four

American Pi

The Bourne Parallelogram



[Chris White's Top Five on Science w/additional material by Mark Raymond]


WORD for YOUR WEEK: My son wanted to know where the word "colic" came from, what it is, and why we use it to describe unhappy babies. It originated with the Greek word kolon which, indeed, refers to your intestines. The Latin version was colicus, which described issues pertaining to the colon. And while medicine still doesn't know exactly what causes colic in a baby, the general school of thought is that it stems from an underdeveloped (or still maturing) digestive tract.


Mark's Musings is available via RSS Feed, Facebook Note, Amazon Kindle, and e-mail each weekday. When you add up all the reasons, you'll see that it makes sense to get your own subscription with a quick click here.

Saturday, January 23, 2010

Saturday Novel 4

Scene Four

Michael saw that Crickmeyer's office was open and lightly rapped on the door frame.

"Come in, Michael, come in."

"I have that report you wanted," Michael said, offering a small sheaf of papers to Mr. Crickmeyer.

"Why, that's fine, Michael, thank you. Come in. Close the door, have a seat."

Michael paused a beat, uncertain of this invitation, then entered and closed the door behind him. He handed the papers to Mr. Crickmeyer and took a seat in one of the lightly-upholstered brown industrial office chairs across from the desk.

Mr. Crickmeyer sat back in his chair for a moment, studying Michael, one hand idly flipping a ballpoint end over end. Then the pen stopped and Crickmeyer leaned forward. "I wanted to talk to you about your work here with us, Michael. Are you happy here?"

"Happy, sir?"

"Yes. Happy. Pleased with the place. Do you enjoy coming to work in the morning? Do you like the people you work with? Are.You. Happy?"

Silence. Then, "I'm not sure how to answer that question."

"It iz very simple, Mitty. Vy did you attempt to assassinate der Kommissar?"

"I'm just doing my job."

"Oh, come, now. Don't be so modest. It izn't every vun who could sneak past ze guard dogs, incapacitate our finest trained sentries, undt disarm our state of ze art zecurity zyztems."

"Well, I do have some small talents."

"Undt you can rest assured ve vill find out all about zose talents. Ve haff vays of finding zese tings out."

"What do you mean?"

"First, ve vill slowly pull out all of your fingernails."

"That should save a bundle on my manicure budget."

"Zen ve vill break every vun of your fingers."

"I've been told my piano playing is only mediocre, anyway."

"Undt zen ve will break both your legs … in several places."

"I hope you don't expect me to walk to those places."

"Ve vill zee how much you make with ze jokes once ve apply ze battery clamps to your ear lobes!"

"Do your worst."

"Ve vill do our vorst. And you vill talk. Oh, how you vill talk. Undt finally, after you haff told us every zing you know, ve vill put a bullet in your personnel folder."

Michael blinked. "I beg your pardon?"

"I said I've been putting a few bullet points in your personnel folder," Crickmeyer replied.

"Oh. Ohhhh," Michael said, wondering what could possibly be of interest in his personnel jacket.

"I see a man who has some talent, but hasn't yet realized it. I see a lot of unexploited potential."

"You do?"

"I do, Mr. Mitty, and I think the company will want to exploit it. So I'm reassigning you to our Research and Development Division. I think you'll fit in just fine there." Mr. Crickmeyer closed the folder that was on his desk, signaling the end of this meeting.

"Oh," Michael let this sink in for a moment. "Umm, okay." He stood up.

"You'll start next week. Finish up or hand off any projects you're currently working on, then go to HR tomorrow for the appropriate badge, clearances, et cetera, and report to the sixth floor on Monday."

Michael stood up, shook Mr. Crickmeyer's hand, and walked out of the office. In the background, he could hear explosions, the sound of machine gun fire, and cries of "Stop him! He's getting away! Again!!"


What do you think should happen next?

(You can read this story from the beginning by clicking the "Saturday Novel" label from the list to the lower left of this page.)

Friday, January 22, 2010

Bulwer-Lytton Contest from 2009

I remembered the other day that this past fall I failed to post some of the winners from the annual Bulwer-Lytton fiction contest.

Victorian novelist Edward George Earl Bulwer-Lytton penned the famous (or infamous) "It was a dark and stormy night," as the first line to a novel. This contest is for people who come up with their own "bad first lines" of a story. Here are my favorites.



"How to best pluck the exquisite Toothpick of Ramses from between a pair of acrimonious vipers before the Guards of Nicobar returned should have held Indy's full attention, but in the back of his mind he still wondered why all the others who had agreed to take part in his wife's holiday scavenger hunt had been assigned to find stuff like a Phillips screwdriver or blue masking tape." (Joe Wyatt, Texas)

"In a flurry of flame and fur, fangs and wicker, thus ended the world's first and only hot air baboon ride." (Tony Alfieri, California)

"Darnell knew he was getting hung out to dry when the D.A. made him come clean by airing other people's dirty laundry; the plea deal was a new wrinkle and there were still issues to iron out, but he hoped it would all come out in the wash ... otherwise he had folded like a cheap suit for nothing." (Lynn Lamousin, Louisiana)

"Towards the dragon's lair the fellowship marched -- a noble human prince, a fair elf, a surly dwarf, and a disheveled copyright attorney who was frantically trying to find a way to differentiate this story from 'Lord of the Rings'." (Andrew Manoske, California)

"Using her flint knife to gut the two amphibians, Kreega the Neanderthal woman created the first pair of open-toad sandals." (Greg Homer, California)

"There were earthquakes in this land, terrible tsunamis that swirled flooding torrents of water throughout, and constant near-blizzard conditions, and not for the first time did Horatio Jones wish he did not live inside a snow globe." (Rich Buley-Neumar, New York)

"As always, that morning he awoke to the melodious sound of a stream of water cascading into a still pool, punctuated by several ominous silences -- and he could judge, by the length of the silences and the volume of the cascade, just how much of his three-year-old son's urine he would have to wade through to get to the sink." (David Pellicane, New Jersey)

[selected from San Jose State University's Bulwer-Lytton Fiction Contest; beware - not all entries are family friendly]


Not much going on this weekend. A little work, a little church, a little family. And that's pretty much my life.

I'll see you on Monday.


WEB SITE of the WEEK: I haven't written anything about Haiti because, well, there is so much other coverage that there's no way I could do it justice. But let me just send you to, a list of agencies put together by MSNBC that are providing help, aid, support, and succor in the aftermath of that devastating earthquake.


Mark's Musings is sent each weekday using Ezine Director and I pay a little more to make sure my posts are certified by Habeas to be a safe source of e-mail. That means no ads, no spam, and no worries. Subscribe, view past issues in my Archives, and do other things over at my web site. To contact me and someday get a reply, click here. When in doubt, use a semi-colon; most people don't know what it means and it will make you look smart. You can forward or reprint Mark's Musings freely but please keep the credits attached. The credits are naturally biodegradable and will eventually fade away over time. Original material and musings © 2010 by Mark Raymond. I update this blog with a copy of my e-mail post daily (plus I often add graphics) and very occasionally with "bonus material" whenever the mood or muse strikes. Look for the label that says "bonus" and you can bring all that extra material up with one click. My personal mission statement remains John 3:30. Find me on Facebook at I'm glad more people seem to be reading my blog.


WORDS for YOUR WEEKEND: "Be sincere, be brief, be seated." (Franklin D. Roosevelt)

Thursday, January 21, 2010

Estate Math

There's a ladybug living in our bathroom. I don't know it got into the house, or why it chose the bathroom, and I don't even *want* to know what it's feeding on in there, but every morning it's like our own little Spring surprise. Where's the ladybug today?

Speaking of searching for something (oh, wasn't that smooth?), consider making GoodSearch your defaults search engine. I know it's not Google - it's powered by Yahoo! in fact - but every time you search, you'll be donating money to your favorite charity.

Here's the way it works: advertisers give money to GoodSearch to put an ad on their search results page. GoodSearch then turns around and gives 50% of that money to the charity you designated right before you began your search. You can choose from thousands of non-profits already affiliated, or you can even designate your own school, church, or charity, as long as they are a not-for-profit organization.

They've also expanded to include a concept called "GoodShop" where you can purchase items online and anywhere from 3-30% of the purchase price is sent to your charity.


Mrs. Applebee, the sixth grade teacher, posed the following problem to her arithmetic class.

"Let us say a wealthy man passes away and leaves an estate worth ten million dollars. One-fifth is to go to his wife, one-fifth is to go to his son, one-sixth to his butler, and the rest goes to charity. Now, what does each one get?"

There was a lengthy silence in the classroom as the students pondered and diligently worked the math. Finally, Little Morris raises his hand.

"Yes, Morris," recognized the teacher, "what does each one get?"

With deep sincerity, Morris replies, "A lawyer!"

[Clean Cut Jokes via Ed Peacher's Laughter for a Saturday]


WISDOM for YOUR WEEK: "But just as you excel in everything -- in faith, in speech, in knowledge, in complete earnestness and in your love for us -- see that you also excel in this grace of giving." (2 Corinthians 8:7)


Mark's Musings comes wrapped in a bow on an RSS Feed, a Facebook Note, Amazon Kindle e-Reader, and via e-mail each weekday. Give yourself your own subscription with a click here.

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Rhopalic Contest

As I typed the date for today's post, I realized that 30 years ago today I moved to this part of Michigan. Wow. I think I just felt an artery harden. Or maybe it was a root. I seem to have put down a few.

Hey, I learned a new word recently: "rhopalic." It basically means something that gets subsequently longer. It was first applied to poetry where each line of the poem grew longer, but was then also applied to the number of syllables in a word. The Washington Post Style section recently held a contest to come up with a sentence where each subsequent word was one *letter* longer than the last. Here are a few results that tickled my fancy.


Go out west, urged Taylor swiftly.

My bra fits lower, darnit, because gravity's heartless.

The weak vegan senses: Sauteed reindeer satisfies completely!

King Midas dreamt, feeling giltless.

Palin writes notably readable biography: Republican womanifesto.

"I Am Sam, Play Again" ... Seuss's rhyming revision refreshes "Casablanca."

U Nu, the only Burma leader elected, provides countless palindrome enthusiasts interminable entertainment.

"Oh, you heel!" cried direly injured Achilles.

"I do," she says. Groom silent.

I am not with child, merely heavier. Imbecile.

[selected from the Washington Post Style Invitational]


WONDER for YOUR WEEK: Is it mere coincidence that "silent" and "listen" are spelled using the same letters?


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Tuesday, January 19, 2010

More Limerick Fun

Two hundred and one years ago today, Edgar Poe was born, the son of two actors. However, both his parents died of tuberculosis when he was a small boy, and he was taken in by a wealthy Scot merchant named John Allan, who gave Poe his middle name.

He was sent to a prestigious university in Virginia but fell in with the wrong crowd and began drinking and gambling. Disapproving of his ways and career choices, his foster father eventually threw him out of the house, and he began living with his aunt, supporting himself by writing anything he could. He even wrote a "how-to" guide for seashell collecting.

He began writing for a new literary trend - magazines - and came to calling himself a "magazinist." He wrote humor and satire, and made just $4-$15 per magazine article, and nothing when the article was reprinted, as many of them were. Eventually he married his 14-year old cousin, and when he found out that she also had tuberculosis, just like his parents, he began to write darker and more grotesque stories.

At one point, he and his wife were so broke, they had sold nearly everything they owned to a pawn shop, and were living on bread and molasses. As he watched his wife's health grow slowly worse, he wrote the horror fiction and poetry for which we now consider him famous. Edgar Allan Poe was widely reprinted in France, where he inspired a generation of French poets and authors, and is now credited in this country for inventing both the detective story and the psychological horror story.

With thanks to The Writer's Almanac.



On the poor turtle depression befell.
To a psychologist his troubles he'd tell.
"You are simply too shy,"
Said the doc, "And that's why
You should really come out of your shell."

Quasimodo was hurting a bunch.
His doctor thought his spine had gone "Crunch!"
"Something's wrong with your back,"
"Doc, what makes you say that?"
The physician replied, "Just a hunch."

Actress McLaine lived out in the West
And had an ongoing request.
When she made a joke,
Her friends then all spoke,
As one, they said, "Shirley, you jest!"

The repair man worked many long days
On the bathroom scale's faulty displays
When folks stepped on the scale
Their faces turned pale
As they saw the error of their weighs!

With key in ignition I'm thwarted,
My "DieHard," I fear, has departed.
For it would appear
I have no charge here
Dead battery? Don't get me started!



WORDS for YOUR WEEK: "If your life is burning well, poetry is just the ash." (Leonard Cohen)


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Monday, January 18, 2010

God's Will

A subject we are examining quite closely these days in light of my wife's impending joblessness.

The Skit Guys, as always, explain with style, wit, and grace.

Galley Goodness

Martin Luther King was born January 15, 1929. America's enterprising spirit, however, has chosen to celebrate his birthday today - on a Monday - so we can chisel a three-day weekend from the event.

At least some of us can. If today is just another work day for you, I hope the time passes quickly.

Meanwhile, chocolate - which most of us more or less take for granted - is apparently not that well known or popular in China.

So Chocolatier Wang Qilu decided to try and change that. He fashioned brick after brick of white, dark, and milk chocolate, and then painstakingly recreated the Great Wall of China (in miniature, of course) along with - get this - 560 miniature replicas of terra cotta warriors, all made out of chocolate.

That's a lot o'chocolate.


The Chaplain was newly assigned to this particular Navy vessel and on his first day he noticed how much grief the Mess Specialists (cafeteria cooks) had to put up with from the enlisted men, and how they gave back as good as they got.

So the Chaplain went to the Food Service Officer and received permission to talk with the Mess Specialists. He spoke about how to treat your fellow man, how to turn the other cheek, explained about the Golden Rule and said that if they served the food with a cheerful attitude and a willing smile, in a very short time the galley would be a much happier environment in which the crew could take their meals.

After this "pep talk," the Chaplain and the Food Service Officer stood by to watch how the next meal went.

A new recruit was slowly walking down the line with his tray, and couldn't seem to find anything he liked, until he got to the dessert section. There he picked up a saucer containing a large slice of chocolate cake.

The Mess Specialist serving in that area noticed the sailor's tray and said, "Is that all you're going to eat?"

The sailor replied, "Yeah, the rest of it don't look so good."

The Mess Specialist smiled and said, "I understand. Would you like *two* pieces of chocolate cake?"

"Yeah, that'd be great!" exclaimed the new recruit.

Standing nearby, the Chaplain poked the Food Service Officer in the ribs and whispered, "Looks like my talk did some good."

At this point the Mess Specialist leaned over the counter and deftly cut the sailor's cake in half.

[Pastor Tim's Cybersalt Digest; edited by Mark Raymond]


WORD for YOUR WEEK: Ever heard anyone use the word "obtuse"? Besides geometry students and teachers, that is? You'll most likely hear it as a question: are you being intentionally obtuse? It's from the Latin words ob (against) and tundere (to beat); obtundere was to beat against something, making it blunt, taking away an object's point, or sharpness. Today we generally use it to mean someone who is not sharp, or quick, or intelligent; or someone who is acting as if they were stupid.


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Saturday, January 16, 2010

Saturday Novel 3

Scene Three

Michael crept quietly along the maze of corridors, making sure to stay out of view of any security measures, be they flesh and blood or circuits and hardware. After a few minutes, he found the room he wanted.

Pressing an extra stud on his wristwatch, he activated the miniature laser and quietly but quickly cut through the deadbolt and lock mechanism on the door. Slowly pushing it open, he gave the well-furnished room a sweep with a practiced eye. No threats being imminent, he softly closed the door behind him, hoping he had enough time to complete his task.

He stood for a moment, appreciating the mahogany furniture and expensive art hanging on the walls in even more expensive frames. Spotting the frame that was fractionally farther away from the wall than the others, he hurried over and swung it open on the nearly hidden hinges mounted on one side, revealing the wall safe it disguised.

Michael quickly unfastened his cummerbund and then slipped off the small square device that had been held magnetically to his belt buckle. He attached it via those same magnets to the wall safe, near the electronic combination lock, and pressed a small button on the device. While it ran through its algorithms, Michael refastened his cummerbund into place. A moment later the device beeped, the wall safe clicked, and then popped slightly ajar.

Reaching past the jewels and bundles of currency, Michael withdrew a small packet of papers. Rifling through them, he saw that the list did, indeed, contain the names and contact information for a large terrorist network, including the whereabouts of Muhammad al-Kalwiri, head of the organization.

Suddenly, a bullet-shaped hole appeared in the wood paneling just inches from his head! Michael turned to see the Sheik and one of his guards, smoke still wafting up from the end of the gun barrel. As his finger tensed on the trigger to fire again, Michael threw himself into a tuck-and-roll behind the desk. The second bullet exploded through an exquisitely carved cigar case on top of the desk. The pungent aroma of expensive Cuban tobacco filled the air.

Michael plucked a paperweight off the desktop, hurled it in the direction of the door as a diversion, took two steps and crashed through the office window, using the hedge below to cushion his fall. A moment later, he was up and running, the cries of the Sheik chasing him into the night.

"Mitty! Michael Mitty! I will follow you to the ends of the earth, you dog! Mitty! Mitttttttttyyyyyyy!"

Mitttttttttyyyyyyy!" shouted Crickmeyer. "Where's my report??!!"

Michael blinked twice and remembered where he was just as Mr. Crickmeyer rounded the corner and headed straight for his cubicle.

"I-I'm sorry, Mr. Crickmeyer. I'll have it ready shortly." Michael said, subdued.

"Within the hour, Mr. Mitty."

"Yes, sir," said Michael, and sighed as Crickmeyer left as quickly as he had arrived.


So it was all a fantasy. What do you think should happen next?

Click "Saturday Novel" in the list of labels, to your lower right to read this story from the beginning.

Friday, January 15, 2010

Post #700: Banned Words 2010

It's time for another round of words and phrases that should be banished, courtesy of Lake Superior State University. It's their 35th annual version.


Words and Phrases That Should be Banned in 2010

There are 38 "czar" positions in the administration. We have everything from a "drug czar" to a "car czar." What's next? A banished words czar?

And all of its variations: twitter, tweetaholic, retweet, twitterature, twittersphere, twitwit.

Why can't we just call them programs again? Do we really need an abbreviation for "application"? Is there an app that makes this word go away?

This is the act of sending sexual pictures via cell phone, much like you would send a text message. Any inappropriate new social trend that involves a clever mash-up of words, teenagers, and ends up on television talk shows should immediately be banned.

"Friend as a Verb"
Came into vogue thanks to the popularity of Facebook and other social networking sites where you add someone to your network by "friending" them. "Befriend" is just as useful and won't offend your average dictionary.

"In These Economic Times...."
This phrase has been used as an excuse for just about everything. And if an e-mail or letter from your employer starts with this phrase, it usually means you're not getting a raise this year ... or you're losing your job.

It's no longer a grant, it's "stimulus money." Any concept or asset used to increase business is now a "stimulus package." I'm not stimulated anymore by this word.

Have we reached the point where just being friends with another man has to now be described in romantic comedy terms? This word should be abolished to the same dustbin as frenemies, Brangelina, or blogorrhea.

[selected from Lake Superior State University; see the complete list here]


Meeting with our church household group this weekend and I'll be trying to put the finishing decisions on which songs to include on my band's first CD.


WEB SITE of the WEEK: Everything you want to know about how to handle and store food safely, including current food product recalls can be found at


Mark's Musings is sent each weekday using Ezine Director and I pay a little more to make sure my posts are certified by Habeas to be a safe source of e-mail. That means no ads, no spam, and no worries. Subscribe, view past issues in my Archives, and do other things over at my web site. To contact me and someday get a reply, click here. Watch out for black ice this time of year. You can forward or reprint Mark's Musings freely but please keep the credits attached. The credits never get old. Repetitive, boring, uninspired, occasionally cranky, but never old. Original material and musings © 2010 by Mark Raymond. I update this blog with a copy of my e-mail post daily (plus I often add graphics) and very occasionally with "bonus material" whenever the mood or muse strikes. Look for the label that says "bonus" and you can bring all that extra material up with one click. My personal mission statement remains John 3:30. Find me on Facebook at Today I am putting up my seven hundredth post here. Yay, me.


WORDS for YOUR WEEKEND: "Laziness is nothing more than the habit of resting before you get tired." (Jules Renard)

Thursday, January 14, 2010

Roll Call

Do you have family or a friend serving in the U.S. Army in Afghanistan?

The Army has set up something they're calling "HooahMail," which is a service that lets you e-mail a letter and attach a photograph to your serviceperson and it is then printed, folded, and sealed into an envelope and delivered at mail call, usually the next day. It gives them something solid they can hang onto, keep in their pocket, and pull out to read again or look at that picture as often as they want.

Sounds like it combines the best of the U.S. Postal Service and electronic mail.


It was early at the Army base one morning and the sergeant was reading off a list of names of the men who had work party detail that day.




"Here, Sergeant!"






No answer.


Still no answer.

"SEEBACK!" the sergeant's face turned red.

Then he looked at his list closer, turned the piece of paper over to the back side, and continued calling out names, in a somewhat quieter voice.

[Clean Humor Digest]


WISDOM for YOUR WEEK: "Let love and faithfulness never leave you; bind them around your neck, write them on the tablet of your heart." (Proverbs 3:3)


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Wednesday, January 13, 2010

"Motivational" Posters

Say you have an empty wall in your room and a giant poster would look really great in that spot. Say you have the perfect picture you'd like to have made into that poster. Say you have a couple of spare ink cartridges.

You can make your own. For free. (Well, not counting paper, ink, frame, effort, etc.)



Adversity: That which does not kill me postpones the inevitable.

Ambition: The journey of a thousand miles sometimes ends very, very badly.

Apathy: If we don't take care of the customer, maybe they'll stop bugging us.

Blogging: Never before have so many people with so little to say said so much to so few.

Compromise: Let's agree to respect each other's views, no matter how wrong yours may be.

Consulting: If you're not part of the solution, there's good money to be made in prolonging the problem.

Customer Disservice: Because we're not satisfied until you're not satisfied.

Despair: It's always darkest just before it goes pitch black.

Ineptitude: If you can't do something well, learn to enjoy doing it poorly.

Leaders: Leaders are like eagles. We don't have either of them here.

Meetings: None of us is as dumb as all of us.

Overconfidence: Before you attempt to beat the odds, be sure you can survive the odds beating you.

Propaganda: What lies behind us and lies before us are small matters compared to what lies to our faces.

[selected from the "Demotivators" section at; the pictures that go with these posters are priceless]


WONDER for YOUR WEEK: Did the person who invented copyrights make any money on it?


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Tuesday, January 12, 2010

Nursing Home Movies

Due to such a late post, just the joke today. Regular post tomorrow morning, I promise.



Catheter the Great

Walker on the Wild Side

Thelma and Disease

The Cane Mutiny

Dis and Disability

Rebel Without a Crutch

It's a Wonderful Lift

[submitted by list member Lavonne T.]


WORDS for YOUR WEEK: "Age is an issue of mind over matter. If you don't mind, it don't matter." (Mark Twain)


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Monday, January 11, 2010

Unemployment Perks

As I wrote this past Friday, on February 5, my wife will celebrate 25 years of employment at our local newspaper.

On February 6, that newspaper is laying her off. Permanently.

Yeah, it's kind of a kick in the teeth.

Nevertheless, we have placed our lives squarely in God's hands and refuse to worry about things. As so many have shared with us, there's never a door that closes without another one opening. Your good thoughts and kind prayers are most welcome as we contemplate which path to pursue out of this murky situation.

I will share one story with you to illustrate the hand of God at work. Last fall, in yet another cost-cutting move by her employer, my wife's health insurance rates went up so high she had to drop both myself and our daughter from her coverage in 2010. We complained bitterly. During the "Open Season Enrollment Period" at my work place, instead of the single coverage I had been carrying, I added family coverage just to keep my daughter covered, and as a side effect my wife was included in that coverage, as well. So now, when she would have shortly found herself without any medical insurance at all, she will still be covered. God knew this day would arrive, and now I feel remorse for being a whiner about it at the time.

The moral here is not just to hope for God's providence, but to *rely* upon it. And, like Paul, give thanks in ALL circumstances.



No more hassles about the length of your lunch break.

Casual Fridays have been replaced by Casual Every Days.

At least now it's just the teenager yelling about your work performance.

You are going to look *gorgeous* after sixteen hours of "beauty sleep" every day.

No more wondering about what the pets do all day while you're gone.

Two more weeks and you can add "proficient at video games" to your résumé.

You *never* miss the ice cream truck.

Finally outsmarted the government. They can't take 30% of your paycheck if you haven't got one.

[Chris White's Top Five on Work w/edits and additional material by Mark Raymond]


WORD for YOUR WEEK: We're at dinner the other night and the appropriate use of napkins comes up which ultimately leads us to the word "uncouth," which my daughter was not familiar with. Its current popular usage means "lacking in polish or grace" but it began in Old English as cuth (long "u" sound), which meant "familiar, or known." Adding the modifier "un" to the front gave it the opposite meaning: unfamiliar, or unknown; strange. Both definitions work. An uncouth person is one who finds manners and poise unfamiliar, and is a stranger to social graces.


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Saturday, January 09, 2010

Saturday Novel 2

Scene Two

"I'm so glad you could make it to my little soiree, Mr. Mitty," said the Sheik with an obvious air of displeasure.

Michael idly picked a tiny piece of lint off his jet black tuxedo and replied, "Ah, yes. Keep your friends close and your enemies closer, eh, Maktoum?"

"Something like that."

Out of the corner of his eye Michael saw a waiter approaching with a tray of drinks. "If you'll excuse me, Sheik, I think I'll mingle," he mentioned and turned innocently into the path of the waiter, who could not avoid the collision in time. Several expensive glasses of wine spilled onto his shirt and cummerbund, a red stain blossoming near his ribcage.

"Oh, dear," said the Sheik, humorlessly, "take care Mr. Mitty, or that stain will find new life as an omen," the Shiek's voice dropped into the range of a threat.

Michael smiled. "But I do so love the color red, Maktoum. Excuse me," he turned to the waiter, "could I trouble you for another glass of wine ... to replace the one I'm wearing?" He nimbly accepted the replacement glass and then said, "Excuse me once again, Sheik, I'm afraid I must now find a restroom."

Michael carefully threaded his way through the crowd, sipping his Merlot, surreptitiously taking note of everyone and everything in the room, the location of the exits, the number of guards and video cameras, and the current fashion in neckline trends on the ladies.

Once in the bathroom, he pulled out a prepared vial of hydrogen peroxide and dish soap, then dabbed at the stain, watching it slowly fade as he worked. He dried the shirt as best he could, then exited the restroom, but instead of turning left to return to the hall, he turned right, after making sure the video camera near the ceiling was on a sweep in the other direction.


Where is Michael headed? What do you think should happen next?

Friday, January 08, 2010



My wife just called. In tears. Never a good sign.

Seems her place of employment - where she has worked for the last 25 years and hoped to retire from - is laying her off. She works for our local newspaper (well, until February 6, anyway), and considering what newspapers are going through, this wasn't completely unexpected, but she had survived three other rounds of early retirements and cuts, so we were hoping for at least five more years there and her own natural retirement.

Those hopes have been dashed upon the rocks of a brutal economic reality and changing industry paradigm.

Speaking of economics, please pray for us as right now we are both still pretty much in shock, and have no idea what our next steps will be, either occupationally or financially.

We rest assured that our destiny lies in God's hands and your good thoughts and kind prayers.

"Mr. Fennyman, allow me to explain about the theatre business. The natural condition is one of insurmountable obstacles on the road to imminent disaster."

"So what do we do?"

"Nothing. Strangely enough, it all turns out well."


"I don't know. It's a mystery."

--Philip Henslowe and Hugh Fennyman, from Shakespeare in Love

Early Events

So is this the first year of the new decade or the last year of the first decade in the new millenium?

A friend of mine - list member Keith T. - believes 2010 ("twenty-ten," the correct pronunciation, he asserts) is the final year of the first decade. Why? Because there was no Year Zero. Calendar timekeeping began with the Year One. Therefore the "0" goes at the end of the decade, not the beginning.

Personally, I find that kind of logic hard to argue with. You're welcome to try, however. Click on "Comment" below and regale us with your reasoning. Facebook users - please click "View Original Post" to comment.



3050 B.C.
A Sumerian invents the wheel. Within a week, the idea is stolen and duplicated by other Sumerians, thus inventing the first business code of ethics.

2900 B.C.
Egyptians create the Sphinx and several other modern construction miracles. Pundits christen it all one big pyramid scheme.

1850 B.C.
Britons announce Operation Stonehenge a success after randomly placing stone slabs into a sufficiently meaningless pattern, thus securing centuries of employment for European historians.

1785 B.C.
First calendar introduced by Babylonian scientists.

1784 B.C.
Calendar concept tweaked after Babylonians experience winter in July.

776 B.C.
World's first known use of money occurs in Persia. The following day sees the world's first known use of counterfeit money.

525 B.C.
The first Olympics are held in Greece. Turkey enters a six footer with a moustache in women's shot put event.

410 B.C.
Rome ends the practice of enslaving debtors, removing single biggest obstacle to development of the credit card.

404 B.C.
The Peloponnesian War enters its 27th year because neither side can find a treaty writer who can spell "Peloponnesian."

214 B.C.
Tens of thousands of Chinese people complete the 1,500-mile long Great Wall. Neighbor's dog still gets through.

1 B.C.
Calendar manufacturers argue over what to call the next year.

[Wit and Wisdom; edits and additional material by Mark Raymond]


Not much going on this weekend outside of work and union responsibilities. Oh, and quite a bit of shoveling. Durn snow.

I'll see you on Monday.


WEB SITE of the WEEK: Contemplating a major purchase in 2010? You might benefit from knowing when the best time to make that purchase might be. Check out It's a post from LifeHacker that generates a timeline based on data and research for sales, discounts, and new product rollouts for, well, just about anything, including food.


Mark's Musings is sent each weekday using Ezine Director and I pay a little more to make sure my posts are certified by Habeas to be a safe source of e-mail. That means no ads, no spam, and no worries. Subscribe, view past issues in my Archives, and do other things over at my web site. To contact me and someday get a reply, click here. Odd fact: April 4, June 6, August 8, October 10, December 12, and the last day of February all fall on the same weekday every year. This year it's Sunday. You can forward or reprint Mark's Musings freely but please keep the credits attached. I repeat, please keep the credits attached. I repeat, please.... Original material and musings © 2010 by Mark Raymond. I update this blog with a copy of my e-mail posts daily (plus I often add graphics) and very occasionally with "bonus material" whenever the mood or muse strikes. Look for the label that says "bonus" and you can bring all that extra material up with one click. My personal mission statement remains John 3:30. Find me on Facebook at It's easy to remember that little calendar trick. Think 4/4, 6/6, 8/8, 10/10, and 12/12.


WORDS for YOUR WEEKEND: "Don't be fooled by the calendar. There are only as many days in the year as you make use of." (Charles Richards)