Thursday, January 31, 2008

Holiday Origin?

As we prepare to put January in the rear view mirror of our journey down the road of life, Maria Gracia has your February already planned out for you, at least if you want to get a good start on organizing your life and enjoy checking things off.

Me, I'm just counting the days until Spring.


Pig farmers have never done well in the United States. Most Americans simply prefer beef to pork. Hamburger remains an American favorite, even though it contains absolutely no ham.

The people who raise pigs were hopeful to see a significant increase in their sales and business after the Mad Cow Disease scares, but soon saw that the poultry and fish industries were the ones who profited the most. Sales of ham and bacon remained virtually unchanged.

So the National Porcine Administration hired a major Madison Avenue advertising firm to try and boost the sales of pork products. Soon there was an intensive advertising campaign saturating magazines, television, and radio with ads urging people to eat patties made from pork.

The campaign was given an added boost when special interest lobbyists convinced Congress to designate the second day of February as a national holiday when every family in the country would be urged to eat pork burgers.

That day would be celebrated as, naturally, Ground Hog Day.

[from Jokes Central with thanks to Stan Kegel]


WISDOM for YOUR WEEK: "Like a gold ring in a pig's snout is a beautiful woman who shows no discretion." (Proverbs 11:22)


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Wednesday, January 30, 2008

More Real Office Quotes

Fluorescent lights are everywhere. They're cheap, they're bright, and they last for a long, long time. So we use them. Ubiquitously.

But, let's face it, they're ugly. Oh, sure, we try to cover them up with that cheap plastic cover - called a "light diffuser," by the way - but there's still nothing that adds the doldrums to our work world like dull, corporate fluorescent lighting.

Well, the folks at Skyscapes are looking to change all that.

The next time you're in the middle of a long, gray day, why not look up and see the clouds, even if you're stuck in a cube farm? Or maybe some jets? The Stars and Stripes? The view from a coral reef? How about your favorite Dilbert® characters?



"There's more than one way to peel a cat."

"That woman uses olive oil like it grows on trees."

"He'd give you the arm off his back."

"We do not have a smoking cow at this point."

"It's our golden goose. We better figure out how to make her purr."

"You are in the top one hundred percent."

"He'd still be alive today if he hadn't died."

"I'm up to my earballs in work."

"People are dying like pancakes around here."

[selected from Dilbert Newsletter 66.0]


WONDER for YOUR WEEK: Why is it when we're at work we talk about our recreational life, but when we're out having fun and meet someone we know, we talk about how work is going?


With hardly any work at all, you can get your own subscription by clicking here.

Tuesday, January 29, 2008

Bachelor's Diet

So what's your favorite snack food?

I confess I like all the stuff that's horrible for you, though I don't snack on it regularly. I do try to include at least one fruit a day. And I occasionally have a spot of green tea in a berry-flavored bubbly drink. (I posted about "EnvigaTM" in December of 2006. Now I drink it. Can't say I don't endorse my own writing!)

Here's a list of 20 snack foods that not only sound good for you, they're even supposed to enhance your productivity.

We could all use some of that, couldn't we?



Breakfast - Who can eat breakfast on a Monday? Swallow some toothpaste.
Lunch - Pick up six "gutbomber" burgers, fries, bowl of chili, a cola, and have your secretary find some Maalox.
Snack - Drink the Maalox.
Dinner - Six pack of root beer and a three piece chicken dinner from KFC. Don't eat the coleslaw.

Breakfast - Eat the coleslaw.
Lunch - At the office vending machine, drop in four quarters, close your eyes, press any two buttons and eat whatever comes out without looking. Quickly.
Dinner - Four tacos, three burritos, a bowl of salsa and a pitcher of anything liquid at Los Chi Chi's Bell.

Breakfast - Stomach can't handle breakfast after last night's dinner.
Lunch - Rolaids and a cola.
Dinner - Drop in at a married friend's home and beg for scraps. Pick up a pizza on the way home. Don't eat it.

Breakfast - Eat the pizza.
Lunch - See if there are any "gutbombers" left in the sack.
Dinner - Stop at your local grocery store. Buy whatever fruit is on sale. All of it.

Breakfast - Whatever's being advertised at McDonalds. Throw away the food, eat the Styrofoam. It's better for you and it tastes better.
Lunch - Too anxious to get out of work for the weekend; skip lunch.
Dinner - Steak, baked potato, asparagus. Don't eat the asparagus. Nobody likes asparagus.

Breakfast - Sleep through it.
Lunch - Ditto.
Dinner - Steak, baked potato, Brussels sprouts. Don't eat the Brussels sprouts. Who eats Brussels sprouts?

Breakfast - Antacids and a Twinkie.
Lunch - Wherever the folks from church are going.
Dinner - Chicken Noodle Soup.

Call home and ask about renting your old room. Start a vegetable garden with the asparagus and Brussels sprouts.

[originally seen in Joe's Clean Laffs; edits and rewrites by Mark Raymond]


WORDS for YOUR WEEK: "The poets have been mysteriously silent on the subject of cheese." (G.K. Chesterton)


Hey, when you've finished that avocado, get your own subscription by clicking here.

Monday, January 28, 2008

Miscellaneous Murphy

As a rule of thumb...

...adding a couple stalks of celery to a pot of beans while cooking will remove the gassy component.

...if your back hurts while climbing stairs, walking up a hill, or getting out of a chair, you need to do back extension exercises.

...if your feet are cold, wear a hat.

You can find these and over 200 pages of other "rules of thumb" here.



No matter who gets elected, government wins.

Your golfing skill deteriorates in proportion to the number of people watching you.

The job you want is well-paying, interesting, fun, rewarding, conveniently located, or attainable. You can only pick one.

Your current boss is the worst one you've ever had ... until you get the next one.

When you're convinced everything works just fine, you've overlooked something.

Paper is always strongest at the perforations.

If you watch a television show only twice during a season, the second time will be a repeat of the first episode you saw.

If you drop an unbreakable object, it will always land on something breakable.

The first person needing to get off an elevator will always be at the rear.

The squeakiness of floor boards is directly proportional to your need to remain unnoticed.

You cannot stop the ongoing love affair between pasta sauce and your white shirt.

[selected from; many paraphrased and rewritten by Mark Raymond]


WORD for YOUR WEEK: So where does "rule of thumb" come from? Many believe it came from Old England where a man was permitted to beat his wife, providing the switch or stick he used was no wider than his thumb. All my etymology sources, however, say that is certainly an urban legend. More probably it comes from even farther back, when people used body parts for measuring things. We got the "foot" measurement by pacing distances. We still measure horses in "hands" and the distance from the tip of your thumb to the first knuckle is generally about an inch. So the "rule" part of the phrase actually refers to "ruler," not a general principle.


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Friday, January 25, 2008

Driving Range

With Valentine's Day just around the corner, the people who make M & M's and Dove Chocolate candies have created a way for you to "personalize" a short little two-line message on either individual M & M's or the inside of Dove Chocolate candy wrappers.

With shipping and handling, the price runs to about $40 and up, depending on the packaging you pick, but what a unique way to tell someone you love them!

The ordering process starts here.


An oldie but a goodie

A young lady visits the driving range at her local golf course to tone up her game. She is about to drive her first ball off the practice tee when she notices the man on the pad next to her.

"Pardon me, sir!" she calls out. "You're facing the wrong direction! You'll hit your ball straight back into the Pro Shop that way."

The man slaps the side of his face and exclaims, "Oy! Tanks for dat. Vitout you, I vouldn't know. I'm half-blind."

He turns around and starts hitting his golf balls out into the practice range. After a few minutes, he leaned over and asked the lady how he was doing.

"Not bad," she answered. "Most of your shots are straight and long. Only a few are slicing."

"Tanks again, Miss," the man replies. "Vitout you telling, I vouldn't know dese tings."

A few shots later, he again leans over and inquires, "Do you mind I should ask a poisonal qvestion?"

"Not at all," the young woman says.

"You seem like a nice, honest, young lady, and I need an honest opinion. I don't do so vell vit the ladies. Am I ugly or fett or vat?"

"No, you're quite presentable," the lady offers. "I don't think that is your problem."

Smiling now, the man exults, "Vat a relief! I vas always afraid to ask. Again, I got to tank you."

Just as the man tees up another ball and is about to drive it, the woman leans over and says, "Tell me, do you mind if I give you a bit of personal advice?"

"Vit gladness, dank gott. All the help you got I vill take," the man answered.

"Get rid of your Jewish accent," the young woman suggests. "You're Chinese."

[first seen in Lab Laughs via JokeMaster]


Keeping it short this Friday. I'll see you on Monday.



WEB SITE of the WEEK: If you need to know who said it, there is really only one authoritative online resource, and that's the same source you turned to before we even had an Internet: Quotations are on file from encyclopedias, thesauruses (thesaurusi?), dictionaries, the Bible, Shakespeare, Gray's Anatomy, the Farmer's Cookbook, Emily Post's etiquette, mythology, and even Robert's Rules of Order. And that only scratches the surface of available source material.


WORDS for YOUR WEEKEND: "We must not allow the clock and the calendar to blind us to the fact that each moment of life is a miracle and a mystery." (H.G. Wells)

Thursday, January 24, 2008

Bad Computer

Hey, my website is mostly back and the redesign is pretty much finished, with just a couple of minor tweaks and adds/edits left to do. My deepest thanks go out to my friend and graphic designer Rob Miller for all of his hard work.

The "Website of the Week" archives are still being updated, and I completely lost my Guestbook when Comcast crashed my previous site, but do feel free to stop by and re-sign the new Guestbook feature and browse previous website picks, once those features are up and running, which should be at some point this weekend.

Overall, I hope you like it and, as always, don't be afraid to tell me how it could be improved. I have *a lot* more flexibility in design and page capability now than I had on the previous site.



To reboot it, you have to turn it upside down and shake it.

Instead of a power supply, it came with a place to attach jumper cables. Battery not included.

The "quick reference" manual is 120 pages long.

Whenever you turn it on, all the dogs in your neighborhood start howling.

You frequently get an error message that says, "Don't you need to take a break yet?"

The only chip inside is a Dorito.

Your user guide contains just two words: "good luck!"

Your best friend has the same computer, only he's using his for a paperweight.

[first seen in Net 153s Smile A Day, edits and rewrites by Mark Raymond]


WISDOM for YOUR WEEK: "My salvation and my honor depend on God; he is my mighty rock, my refuge." (Psalm 62:7)


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Wednesday, January 23, 2008


I recently saw some pretty astounding numbers in an excerpt from Robert Marks' "Origins of the Modern World."

In 1400, there were about 350 million people living on the earth. Of the 60 million square miles of dry land available on the planet, these folks were clustered in about 4.25 million square miles. Or about 7% of the available land. The reason, of course, is that portion of the land was most suitable for agriculture.

Today there are about six *billion* people living on the Earth and, amazingly, about 70% of us still live on that same 7% of land.

Think about that the next time you wonder why the houses in your neighborhood are so close to each other.


A person with socialist beliefs once came to visit Andrew Carnegie was soon railing against the "injustice" of Carnegie having so much money when there was so much poverty in the world. In this man's opinion, wealth was meant to be divided equally.

In response, Carnegie asked his secretary to bring him a figure showing his total net worth at the moment. While he was waiting, Carnegie pulled an encyclopedia off the shelf.

A few minutes later his secretary entered the room, carrying the requested piece of information on a slip of paper. Carnegie took the paper, did some quick figuring with a pencil, then said to his secretary, "Give this man sixteen cents."

"I've just been looking up the world's population ... that, sir, is your equal share of my wealth."

[paraphrased from Bits and Pieces via Richard G. Wimer's Wit and Wisdom]


WONDER for YOUR WEEK: Do we blame things on the previous generation because there's only one other choice?


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Tuesday, January 22, 2008

Passport Postponement

For those of you who live in states bordering Canada or Mexico, or perhaps you just want to cruise to the Caribbean or Bermuda, the State Department is finally making it easier - and cheaper - for you to carry citizenship passport papers.

On February 1, you can officially begin to apply for a passport "card," which is about the size of your driver's license and fits easily into your wallet. It will cost only $45 (which includes the Postal Service's processing fee), and if you already have a passport, it will only cost $20, obtainable via the mails.

The Postal Service is also lowering its execution fee for all passport processing to $25, down from $30.

The card will never be good for flying anywhere, but it will be acceptable for land and water crossings. And though you can apply for one just ten days from now, it won't actually be issued for several months. None of the cards have been created yet. General Dynamics I.T. in Virginia was awarded the contract and it will take them a bit to build the technology embedded into the card and produce the final product.

The details about the card are here.



The State Department was involved in the effort to stop Jason Bourne.

They needed to white out all the fine print that read "Made in China."

It took time to make the holographic background extra sparkly.

You have any idea how long it takes to think up a string of random meaningless numbers?

We had to photoshop a turban on each picture to see if we got a match against the Known Terrorist List.

There's a minimum two-week drying period once it's been sprayed with "new passport" smell.

We needed to verify that the photo in your passport is actually more wretched than the one on your license.

The extra help we hired came from FEMA.

[selected from Chris White's Little Fivers on Travel]


WORDS for YOUR WEEK: "The time to enjoy a European trip is about three weeks after unpacking." (George Ade)


The State Department is actually back up to speed on processing times: four to six weeks instead of two to three months.


Hey, you can get your own subscription without ever leaving the comfort of your home by clicking here.

Monday, January 21, 2008

Vocal Jokes

My son turned me on to the latest fad in community choral work: Complaint Choirs.

Gather a list of complaints, get someone to set them to music, hire a director, gather all those folks who suggested the complaints and bingo, you've got a novelty touring choir.

You can Google the subject matter and see there are quite a few out there - from all over the world (it all began in Helsinki, I believe) - but there's a video just down below of the one from Birmingham.



What's the difference between an operatic soprano and an All-Pro NFL lineman?
Stage makeup.

What's the definition of an alto?
A soprano who can sight-read.

How many altos does it take to change a light bulb?
None. They can't get that high.

What's the difference between the Men's Finals at Wimbledon and a high school choral performance?
The tennis matches have more men.

Why do high school choral companies travel so often?
It keeps the assassins guessing.

What's one definition of an optimist?
A choral director with a mortgage.

[selected from MIT's website]


WORD for YOUR WEEK: The French took the Latin word "ingenuus" (which meant "free-born") and turned it into a word we use today: ingenue (on-zha-new). The French translates as "guileless," which means innocent, without deception. We also use the word to refer to a role or character in a movie or play, as well as to the actress playing this part. Oddly enough, it is hardly ever used to describe a man's role.


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Turn your speakers up.

Sunday, January 20, 2008

I Feel Stupid

So this past Friday I went down to a city about an hour south of where I work for a meeting. The Postal Service was kind enough to let me use a company car. On the way back I stopped at a rest area for a quick jaunt to the men's room, only to realize when I went to leave that I had locked my keys in the car.

Boy, did that make me feel stupid.

Over the last couple of days I've been taking an informal poll of family and friends about what kind of things make them feel stupid. I've discovered not many people like to talk about it.

My wife says she feels stupid when her tongue stumbles over simple words that she suddenly has a hard time pronouncing. She also one time - early in our marriage, when she was still feeling her way around in the kitchen - put in a cup of salt for a recipe that called for a teaspoon of salt. Mmm, mmm, not-so-good.

A friend of my daughter's says she feels stupid when she forgets the names of people she's supposed to know.

I've put my slippers on the wrong feet before. "Why do these feel so funny?" I asked myself. Then I looked down. "Oh."

Then there was one time in college, when I was playing a role in T.S. Eliot's "Murder in the Cathedral" and my costume was, literally, a gigantic old rug the costume department found somewhere, cut out some holes for arms and head, then added a few fabric gimgaws and doodads. It turned out looking pretty cool, but it was a nightmare to walk in and maneuver around the stage. After one performance, when I came out for my curtain call, I took a step forward to bow elegantly, stepped on the hem of the rug and fell flat on my face.

Yet another experience of feeling stupid.

So tell me, what makes YOU feel stupid?

Friday, January 18, 2008


My wife knows that when I pass away, I'd like to be cremated. Still don't know what to do with the ashes, maybe they could be recycled as fertilizer for our little backyard garden.

And speaking of ashes and recycling, a crematorium in Manchester, England, is taking the "green" concept of recycling another step: they want to use the heat generated by cremating bodies to light the funeral home chapel and provide heat for the mourners.

Several local religious authorities have already given the idea their stamp of approval, saying it is a "final act of generosity" and a "way for the dead to provide comfort to the living."

And you thought I was kidding.


An elderly woman from Brooklyn decided to prepare her will and wanted to get some advice from her rabbi. She told him she had two final requests, if he agreed they would be kosher and acceptable to the faith.

First, she wanted to be cremated. The rabbi agreed this was acceptable.

Second, she wanted her ashes to be scattered throughout Bloomingdales.

"Bloomingdales!" the rabbi exclaimed. "Why Bloomingdales?"

"That way," explained the woman, "I'll be sure that my daughters will come to visit at least twice a week."

[first seen in AndyChap's The_Funnies]


This is an anniversary weekend, of a sort. First, I passed the century mark of posts at my blog. Now, recently they've all been "Mark's Musings" that I've sent to my list, though on occasion I have added a picture that I didn't include in the post, but there's some pretty interesting stuff in the earlier archived blog entries, too. Secondly, Sunday marks the day I moved to the Flint, Michigan area, 28 years ago. I thought I was moving here to find work and get married. Turned out I was, but only with a different job and to a different woman. They've both been very very good to me.


WEB SITE of the WEEK: This one may only appeal to computer nerds like myself, but there is some really cool stuff at the Think Geek website, and if you go to their Clearance Sale page at, you'll find some pretty cool stuff at some pretty reasonable prices. One of my favorites is the battery recharger that you plug into your USB, and it's under ten bucks.


WORDS for YOUR WEEKEND: "But people just walk on and live in disillusion, satisfied with their confusion, leaving death as their conclusion to life. I guess they just don't understand the situation, death was meant to be elation, and life is but a revelation of love." (Gary Driskell, my college roommate, from a song we wrote together. Gary is currently employed as a songwriter in Nashville)

Thursday, January 17, 2008

Movie Test

Long-Playing Albums (LPs) gave way to 8-track tapes which gave way to cassettes which gave way to Compact Discs.

In much the same way, Betamax was replaced by VHS tape and then, after a brief experiment with laser video, VHS was replaced by Digital Video Discs (DVDs).

And now, with the Federal Communications Commission decreeing that all broadcast signals must be converted to digital format by February 2009, we are seeing the emergence and broad acceptance of High Definition television and we, the public, want our recordings to also be in high definition.

From personal experience, it's a *much* better picture, folks. But before you go buy a DVD player that can handle those high definition recordings, you need to know which format to get. There are two. HD DVDs and Blu-ray DVDs.

Both have pluses and minuses, but in the past week, Blu-ray won the decisive battle. Warner Brothers Studios announced they would exclusively support Blu-ray and Paramount has a clause in their contract that lets them opt out of their support of HD DVD if Warner Brothers goes to Blu-ray. That gives Blu-ray more than 80% of the market for high definition recordings. Universal Studios remains the lone major producer of DVDs still putting their product on the HD DVD format.

So when you go to buy that high def DVD player, make sure it can play Blu-ray discs.


So a teacher, a garbage collector, and a lawyer all find themselves together at the Pearly Gates. Saint Peter looks them over and then announces, "For today only, in order to enter into these hallowed gates, you must correctly answer a movie trivia question."

He turns to the teacher and understands the long years of service to children given, and decides to make the question simple. "In this movie based on a real incident, what was the name of the ship that crashed into an iceberg and sank?"

The teacher quickly replies, "That would be the Titanic." Saint Peter lets the teacher enter.

Then he turns to the garbage collector, and thinking that Heaven didn't really need all the odors this person would bring, makes the question a little harder. "How many people died on that ship?"

But the garbage collector had just recently seen the movie on DVD and knew the answer. "1,228," he quickly replied.

"Why, that's right!" Saint Peter exclaims and lets the garbage collector in.

Then he turns to the lawyer.

"Name them."

[from Send Me A Joke via Ed Peacher's Raucous Laughter]


WISDOM for YOUR WEEK: "He has showed you, O man, what is good. And what does the Lord require of you? To act justly and to love mercy and to walk humbly with your God." (Micah 6:8)


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Wednesday, January 16, 2008

Cat Person

"Behold the strength of my armor, foul rodent, and prepare to meet thy maker! Have at thee!"

Yes, troops, that is a suit of armor ... for a cat. It was created by Canadian metalsmith Jeff de Boer. And yes, he once put one of his suits on his cat, and he says he has the scars to prove it. And just to provide a sense of balance to the universe, he then went ahead and created suits of armor for mice.

You can see a gallery of his work here.



You refer to going to the bathroom as "using the litterbox."

Cat hair in your food is just extra fiber.

You snap your fingers and pat the couch beside you when asking guests to sit down.

In your bed at night, you sleep *around* the cat.

You've overheard the neighbors refer to you as "that crazy cat lady."

You call home to leave a voice mail just so the cat can hear your voice.

You choose a house based on it having a good location for the catbox.

[from Joke Archives website]


WONDER for YOUR WEEK: Squirrels hide nuts. Dogs hide bones. What do cats hide? Should I be worried?


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Tuesday, January 15, 2008

Gorilla Escape

Author Jon Scieszka was recently appointed by the Library of Congress to be our "National Reading Ambassador." He is most well-known for co-authoring, "The Stinky Cheese Man and Other Fairly Stupid Tales," and writing "The Time Warp Trio" series of books.

What sets him apart is that for years he has sounded an alarm about the falling literacy rate in this country among young people, and especially about the growing gender divide between the reading abilities of girls and guys.

His message includes the tenet that "young boys enjoy the gross and the weird," so why not get them hooked on something fun to read instead of plunging right into the classics?

You can learn more about this at his website:


One day a gorilla escaped from the zoo. They searched for him everywhere: parks, trees, backyards, greenhouses, everywhere they thought a gorilla might go. They even announced the disappearance in all the news media, hoping that someone would report seeing him, but no one called.

After several days, the gorilla was finally found ... sitting in the local public library. He was in the Reading Room with two books spread on a low table in front of him.

One book was a Bible, the other a copy of Darwin's "Origin of Species." The gorilla appeared to be reading both with great concentration, eyes and fingers flipping from one book to the next.

One of the zookeepers finally whispered, "What do you suppose he's doing?"

"I think," replied the librarian, whispering back, "that he's trying to discover whether he's his brother's keeper, or his keeper's brother."

[selected from Andychap's The_Funnies with edits and rewrites by Mark Raymond]


WORDS for YOUR WEEK: "Always read something that will make you look good if you die in the middle of it." (P.J. O'Rourke)


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Monday, January 14, 2008

Global Warming

It snowed in Iraq this weekend.

I don't know where you stand on the global warming issue, but that's got to be a first.

Personally, I don't know enough about climatology or history to decide if this issue is a "natural weather cycle" or the beginning of the end for our planet. But just looking at it logically, it certainly can't hurt to do what we can to reduce harmful carbon use, can it? Get lots of info about that at



Running from flood waters is a great aerobic workout.

No more nasty turned ankles from novice ice skaters.

Migrating polar bears expand opportunities for wilderness observation classes.

Switzerland's new tourism campaign: "Come surf the Alps!"

Out: Casual Fridays. In: Swimsuit Fridays.

New! SPF 1000 ... now with Aloe Vera AND flame retardant!

We'll never have to worry about leg warmers making a fashion comeback.

[selected from Chris White's Little Fivers on Health and Beauty]


WORD for YOUR WEEK: The Greek word myein means "to close" and the word "ops" is "eye." From there we get the word myopia (my-OH-pee-uh), which means nearsighted. These days it also means short sighted, as in, "Global warming is an issue we can't afford to be myopic about."




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Friday, January 11, 2008


Here are my favorites from the Bold Words blog, which recently listed its "Top 100 Motivational Quotes."



Whether you think you can or think you can't, you're right.
-- Henry Ford

You can get everything you want in life if you help enough other people get what they want.
-- Zig Ziglar

Failure is the condiment that gives success its flavor.
-- Truman Capote

Success consists of doing the common things uncommonly well.
-- Author Unknown

Setting an example is not the main means of influencing others; it is the only way.
-- Albert Einstein

Success is the ability to go from failure to failure without losing your enthusiasm.
-- Winston Churchill

He who has a why to live can bear almost any how.
-- Frederich Nietzche

Do not let what you cannot do interfere with what you can do.
-- John Wooden

Ever tried? Ever failed? No matter. Try again. Fail again. Fail better.
-- Samuel Beckett

Knowing is not enough; we must apply. Willing is not enough; we must do.
-- Johann Wolfgang von Goethe

Don't let life discourage you; everyone who got to where he is had to begin where he was.
-- Richard L. Evans

Those who wish to sing always find a song.
-- Swedish Proverb

[from the Bold Words blog; find the entire list of 100 here]


I hope this week you've found something in my posts that has made you think life is -- or can be -- just that little bit better. I'll see you on Monday.



WEB SITE of the WEEK: Still struggling to come up with a New Year's Resolution? Or maybe you've made one and you're struggling to keep it, already. Uncle Sam wants to help. Go to and click the resolution that's most appropriate to your goal. You'll be whisked to a USA-approved website offering free tips and advice and ideas on how to git'r'done.


Subscribe to Mark's Musings, view past issues in the Archives, or help me defray publishing costs at my web site. To change your e-mail address or unsubscribe, use the "Change Subscription" or "Cancel Subscription" links at the very bottom of this page. To contact Mark, click here. To quickly see your Desktop, press Winkey+D. You can forward or reprint "Mark's Musings" freely but please keep the credits attached. Taking off the credits doesn't do anyone any good and it really hurts my feelings. Original material and commentary © 2008 by Mark Raymond. I update my blog with a copy of this post daily, and extra thoughts, videos, and things that go bump in the night periodically. My personal mission statement is John 3:30. My toe hurts.


WORDS for YOUR WEEKEND: "If fifty million people say a foolish thing, it is still a foolish thing." (Anatole France)

Thursday, January 10, 2008

Brown Paper Jake

Want to help save some trees? Enough every year to fill up Rhode Island?

And it's something so simple even you can do it, if you're not doing it already.

Change the margins. That's it. Instead of the "luxurious" 1.25 inches that comes default on most word processing programs, settle for the more economical .75 inches.

If you follow some of the links I started you off on, you'll eventually wind up at a petition to Microsoft to reset the default margins on their wildly-popular Office programs in order to save some trees.


A sheriff walks into the saloon and shouts for everyone's attention. "Has anyone seen Brown Paper Jake?" he asks in a loud voice.

"What's he look like?" inquires one shoddy-looking cowboy.

"Well," says the sheriff, "He wears a brown paper hat, a brown paper waistcoat, a brown paper shirt, brown paper boots, brown paper pants, and a brown paper jacket."

"So what's he wanted for?" asks somebody else.


[from Professor Howdy's Blog]


WISDOM for YOUR WEEK: "I have much to write to you, but I do not want to use paper and ink. Instead, I hope to visit you and talk with you face to face, so that our joy may be complete." (2 John 1:12)


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Honesty Lesson

One week ago Reggie Damone, a McDonald's employee and on food stamps himself, picked up an envelope he found in the street, looking for a scrap of paper to jot down a phone number.

Inside the envelope was a check for $185,000. He took the check to a bank and asked them to return it to its owner.

If only the world had more like him.



This story is from quite a few years ago, when people still bought most of their meat from the local butcher.

I had gone to the shop with my grandmother, and it was late in the day, just a few minutes before the shopkeeper would normally close up. She told the butcher she needed a lamb roast, so he pulled the last one out of the glass case, weighed it, and told her, "That'll be $13.45, please."

"Oh dear," said my grandma, "that's too small. Do you have a larger one?"

The butcher took the roast off the scale and went into the back room. We could hear him moving some things about, and after a minute or two he came back with what looked suspiciously like the exact same roast.

"This one should be better," he said, "it's $15.20."

I was just about to speak up and say something when my grandmother looked down at me, winked, and said to the butcher, "Thank you. That's perfect. I'll take both of them."

[from Andychap's The_Funnies]


WONDER for YOUR WEEK: How many of us know that honesty in little things is not such a little thing?


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Tuesday, January 08, 2008

Heart Lessons

Here are some words from author William Goldman, and his memories of the first time he ever saw "Porgy and Bess."

"My family went and we sat there and if you don't know the story, it's about this cripple, Porgy, who can't walk, and he gets around on this pathetic goat cart, towed by a scrawny goat, and we're someplace in the Deep South. Porgy is hopelessly in love with Bess, a beautiful woman, but weak. Toward the end, Porgy is sent to jail (he saved his friends by murdering the village monster) and while he is there, Bess is wooed by a pusher, Sportin' Life, who, using drugs as a lure, steals her away, takes her to New York City, which is the other end of the universe as far as anyone in this village is concerned.

"Porgy gets out of jail, and I am dreading the moment when he finds out Bess is gone. I mean, cripples don't win beauties in this world, not unless they are very rich indeed, and Porgy is a beggar. So he is out of jail and I am so scared for him, his life is over, how is he going to survive his loss, and he chitchats with the villagers and then he says it -- where's Bess?

"No one wants to answer but finally he finds out ... Bess is gone, she is gone forever, gone to New York City.

"Silence in the theatre. Then Porgy says these three amazing words:

" 'Bring my goat.' "



Love is not the latest ballad on the radio
It is the song of a lifetime

Love is not the size of the rock on the finger of a girl
It is the size of the rock you move to repair the relationship

Love is not the fairy tale that ends with "happily ever after"
It is the very real hand that wipes away the tears

Love is not to be found in the spotlight
It is waiting in the shadows

Love is not winning the argument
It is listening with an open mind and an open heart

Love is not flowers or candy
It is truth and honesty

Love is not a treasure you find
It is a commitment to the quest

Love is not expensive restaurants
It is the sacrifices made to feed a child

Love is not the dream come true
It is chasing the nightmares away

Love is not the success of money
It is the failure to find fault when you have none

Love is not the perfect picture
It is acceptance of all the flaws

[from MountainWings - with a few wee, tiny rewrites from yours truly - via Molly Rhea's Quotes of the Day]


WORDS for YOUR WEEK: "Love is a symbol of eternity. It wipes out all sense of time, destroying all memory of a beginning and all fear of an end." (Author Unknown)


You'd love your own subscription which you can get by clicking here. Thanks to "Delancey Place" for the William Goldman quote.

Monday, January 07, 2008

Sunday School Stories

Well, five days after dumping about a foot of snow on the area in two separate snowstorms, the thermometer here in my little corner of Michigan is shooting up into the 50s (10-12 degrees Celsius) with rain today and tomorrow.

The forecast says it should be mild and wet all week. Sadly, at this time of year, instead of a lovely shade of green or the more pristine white, we get left with an ugly shade of brown.

But if you want to see something pretty ... well, at least something uplifting ... take a look at this modern retelling of The Good Samaritan (misspelling on the site and all), told with Legos®. Thanks to Mark over at The Good Stuff Newsletter for the link.



A Sunday School teacher challenged her pupils to take some time after church on Sunday and write a letter to God. They were to bring their letter back to Sunday School the following week.

One little boy wrote, "Dear God, we had a good time at church last Sunday. Wish you could have been there."


A few weeks later, the same teacher was relating to her class the Biblical story of the Good Samaritan, in which a man was beaten badly, robbed, and left for dead.

She described the story in great detail and very vividly so her students would be able to catch and understand the full drama of it.

When she had finished, she asked the class, "If you saw a person lying by the side of the road, all beaten and wounded and bloody, what would you do?"

No answers. A hush had fallen on the class.

Finally one little girl broke the silence by saying, "I think I'd throw up!"

[Pastor Tim's Clean Laughs; edited]


WORD for YOUR WEEK: Since yesterday was Epiphany Sunday, let's have a look at where that word came from. It is not, as you might think, from Latin, but rather from Greek. It is a mixture of the word "epi" which means "on or to" and "phainein" which means "to show." Its sense is that of a manifestation, or a sudden and striking appearance. Epiphany Sunday celebrates the coming of the Magi to the Christ child as it is the first revealing of Christ to the Gentiles. Its usage also now includes the notion of being struck suddenly by a new idea or revelation that clears up (or reveals) to us a new truth, or a new solution to a problem.




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Friday, January 04, 2008

Electric Car

Nybble Newsletter reports that researchers at MIT in Boston are developing a concept called the "City Car," an electric-powered vehicle where the motor, brakes, and suspension are all housed in the wheels. It's a design that makes the car "foldable" and you can fit eight of them into a parking space designed for one vehicle.

Users would "rent" the vehicle much like you rent trolleys or luggage carts at the airport. Drive it to your destination and "stack it" back into another rental spot where the batteries would be recharged. Solar panels set up near the stacking stations would provide power to recharge the batteries and dump any excess energy into the city's power grid.

The concept vehicle would seat two, and may be capable of speeds up to 100 mph, though why you would need to travel that fast in the city is beyond me. But hey, check it out.


With apologies to the Yugo

How do you make an electric car go faster?
A tow truck.

What do you call the shock absorbers on an electric car?

Two guys in an electric car were arrested last week for a push-by shooting.

The electric car has an airbag, but you have to plug it in.

A friend took his electric car to a dealership the other day and said he wanted new windshield wipers for it. The guy said, "Okay, sounds like a fair trade."

What do you call an electric car at the top of a hill?
A miracle.

What do you call an electric car with twin tailpipes?
A wheelbarrow.

What's the difference between a golf ball and an electric car?
You can drive a golf ball at least 200 yards.

[modified from balkansnet]


Seriously, though, with the price of gasoline, I think the concept of an electric car is awesome. We certainly need to start using technology that's renewable. Hey, have a great first weekend of the year and I'll see you on Monday.



WEB SITE of the WEEK: I don't know much about "Fimoculous" and give the page a minute to load but if you want to review 2007's Best of, Top Ten, Most Notable 100, Fifty Best of, well, pretty much ANYTHING, go to


Subscribe to Mark's Musings, view past issues in the Archives, or help me defray publishing costs at my web site. To keep celery crispier longer, wrap it in aluminum foil before stashing it in the fridge. You can forward or reprint "Mark's Musings" freely but please keep the credits attached. The credits have been right here, doing their job since 1998. Don't blow their record now. Original material and commentary © 2008 by Mark Raymond. My personal mission statement is John 3:30. "He must become greater; I must become lesser."


WORDS for YOUR WEEKEND: "There's folks who would stand on their heads and then say the fault was in their boots." (George Eliot)

Thursday, January 03, 2008

Leg Cast

Orexin-A. Remember that.

It's a drug that's being developed that you'll be able to sniff in a nasal sprayer and bam! Your brain will think you've had some sleep and you'll be more alert and awake and able to continue that two-day marathon in front of your Playstation computer.

The military is paying for the research to develop a drug that will keep its soldiers and pilots on long flights or missions from dozing off or succumbing to the effects of sleep deprivation. So far they've been using stimulants, but those can become addictive, or have unpleasant side effects. The research up until now has only been with monkeys, but I'd bet you'll see it on your pharmacy shelves within a few more years, possibly sooner.

See what I mean here. You think it might make the coffee people nervous?


After I broke my leg falling off a ladder in our garage, I had to wear a cast from the knee down. Normally, my husband and I cuddle right up to each other and are cozy sleepers, but the cast was posing a problem.

Several sleepless nights later, my husband said to me in desperation, "Honey, I don't mind sleeping with the star of the show, but I just can't manage the whole cast."

[Joe's Clean Laffs]


WISDOM for YOUR WEEK: "I will lie down and sleep in peace, for you alone, O Lord, make me dwell in safety." (Psalm 4:8)




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Wednesday, January 02, 2008


That is a credit card. It's designed so you can "wave" it at a wireless credit card machine and have your purchase registered ... but it's also designed to fit into the USB port on your computer so you can make your online purchases without having to remember your card numbers or reach for your wallet.

Right now it's only available in Korea, where it was invented. But soon, soon....


I was in the midst of paying for a recent transaction with my credit card. Just as I finished signing the receipt, the cashier said, "Uh oh."

"What?" I asked.

"Well, I may not be able to finish this sale. I noticed that the back of your credit card isn't signed."

"Is that a problem?"

"Your credit card company says the card has to be signed or I'm not supposed to take it. I'm supposed to match the signature on the card with the one on your receipt."

So I signed the credit card in front of her. She then carefully compared the signature to the one on the receipt.

Luckily, they matched.

[seen in too many places to give credit, no pun intended]


WONDER for YOUR WEEK: Why do banks charge us for bouncing a check when they already know we don't have any money?




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Tuesday, January 01, 2008

Groaner Day

There are certain points every year where the calendar gives us permission to change who we are; who we have been. A chance to brush away the behaviors we don't like to see in ourselves and, with the help of God, make a better person out of ourselves. You know these days: birthdays, Thanksgiving, Christmas, anniversaries, the day we start a new job or a new relationship...

...and today. The very first day of a fresh, new year.

My prayer for you is that you make the choices today that will make you happier with yourself at the other end of 2008.



So a guy goes to his doctor and complains about a pain in his leg. "Doc," he says, "I know this sounds crazy, but would you listen to my knee?"

So the doctor puts on his stethoscope and listens to the man's knee. To his surprise he hears, "Can you loan me ten bucks?" He moves the stethoscope down to the man's shin. He hears, "C'mon, fifteen bucks. How about it?" Finally, in alarm, he puts the stethoscope near the man's ankle and hears, "I need twenty bucks. Can you give me twenty bucks?"

The doctor takes off the stethoscope, sits up and tells the man, "Well, I think I see the problem. Your leg is broke in three places."


What kind of snacks do small monkeys have with milk?
Chocolate chimp cookies.

What do you get when you cross a pig with a centipede?
Bacon and legs.

How does a lion like his steak?
Medium roar.

What's the tallest building in town?
The library. It has the most stories.


It was little Michael's first visit to the country farm and feeding the chickens fascinated him.

Early one morning he caught his first look at a peacock, strutting in the yard.

Rushing indoors, he excitedly told his Grandma, "Gramma, you gotta come see this! One of the chickens is in bloom!"

[with thanks to Kim Komando, Ed's Raucous Laughter, and list member Carolyn W.]


WORDS for YOUR WEEK: "New Years Day: Now is the accepted time to make your regular annual good resolutions. Next week you can begin paving the road to hell with them as usual." (Mark Twain)


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