Monday, March 31, 2008

Monday Groaners

It's the last day of March and it looks like the month is "going out like a lion" since it came in "like a lamb" with very nice weather, indeed. Today we get thunderstorms.

So, for some reason, that puts me in a mood for groaners. Well, that and the fact I've been lazy and just kind of kicked back on Sunday and didn't find anything interesting on the Web to tell you about.




Did I tell you about the little cannibal student who was expelled from school for buttering up his teacher?

A cab driver's verse was stunning.
His poems were all filled with bad punning.
Metric feet were a flop,
'Cause they just wouldn't stop.
So he said that his meter was running.

Do elves make sandwiches with shortbread?

Can you fix a broken pizza with tomato paste?

What could possibly be worse than raining cats and dogs?
Hailing taxis.

Why was the letter damp? It had come postage dew.

Did Maxwell Smart call his shoe phone a walkie-talkie?

Finally, there's the story of the customer who complained at her local deli about the outrageous price of pickles. The proprietor explained that it wasn't the pickles that were so expensive, it was the brine in which they were bottled. "You see," he explained, "dill waters run steep."

[JokeMaster and the last one from my friend Dave A. at Monday Fodder]


WORD for YOUR WEEK: Maybe I've done this one before, but just where did that phrase, "raining cats and dogs" come from? A quick bit of research reveals four - count 'em, four - possible origins, all from the mid-1600s to mid-1700s. One says that at one time folks believed that cats controlled the weather and dogs were symbols of a storm, this belief having been handed down from the Vikings. Another, more grisly story, says that butchers used a good rain to clean out their stalls and floors and bits and pieces of dogs and cats and various other animals were washed out down the gutters. A third origin tale says dogs and cats would often find a soft bed and comfort lying in the thatching that lay on the roofs of most shelters. A hard rainstorm would chase them down off the roofs, looking for dryer spots, and thus it seemed they were falling from the sky as they jumped off the low roofs. My favorite origin says that with the wind whipping and howling and moaning and the thunder crashing and lightning crackling, it sounded as if the weather was at war with itself. This origin says the original phrase was "it's raining *like* cats and dogs," meaning two things that don't play well with each other, and thus describing the fierce weather.


Mark's Musings is delivered via email each weekday and you need be neither a cat nor dog to get your own subscription for free simply by clicking here.

Saturday, March 29, 2008

It's Drafty In Here

Well, it took a little longer than normal - about eight hours this year - but my first fantasy baseball draft for 2008 is under my belt.

We drafted today for "Swing Room Baseball," a league I co-founded with a dozen coworkers back in 1989. It's hard to believe that this is our 20th season of play.

It's even harder to believe that I've never won this furshlugginer league. I've won other leagues in which I've played, but never in the one nearest and dearest to my heart.

And if the projections I've just finished running are even close to accurate, it looks like another long year for my squad. But hey, that's why we play the game every day, right?

More than any other "fantasy" sport, fantasy baseball takes true grit and stamina. It's a long, grueling, grinding six months of paying attention to league transactions, studying the scoring categories to calculate where you can make up the most points, and making smart trades with your fellow owners that will enhance both of your chances (but give you the slight edge, of course).

I don't believe you can win a fantasy league pennant on draft day. I do believe you can lose a pennant on draft day. The winning comes through the in-season roster management, for the most part.

I studied the player population as well as I could, given the time constraints my schedule puts me under, and I thought I did a credible job today. A good chunk of winning is simply having a healthy team of players who go out and play every day. To that end, I tried to make sure I drafted a mix of good, young players, with lots of positive upside, and seasoned veterans who have a history of just getting the job done.

I won't completely bore you by listing my players, but let's just say that the pitching staff is full, but largely untested, the bullpen is thin, and the rest of the squad needs to step up and have a few breakout and career years for me to finish in the money.

The baseball season truly beings in earnest this coming week. If I can remember, I'll let you know how things went come October.

Play ball!

Friday, March 28, 2008

Bad Draft Kit

This weekend contains one of the highlights of my year. Tomorrow I'll be at the first of two fantasy baseball drafts for the 2008 season. Mind you, they're nowhere near as special as Easter or Christmas, family birthdays or my wedding anniversary, but for a big baseball fan with a competitive mind, it's just six hours of fun fun fun.

So for those who aren't so much into baseball, I ask for your patience and tolerance with today's post.



10. The cover says, "Ages 3 and up".

9. When it says a "player has all the tools" it's talking about his socket wrench set.

8. It tells you up front that part of the fantasy is ignoring the Mitchell Report.

7. The only thing inside the box are tea leaves and a cup.

6. Rankings are based on batting average, total run production, hat size, and sunflower seed spitting accuracy (plus distance).

5. It only shows two players at each position ... followed by, "to read this article in full, subscribe today!"

4. The token for Alex Rodriguez is a little silver hat, the one for Randy Johnson is a little silver car, the one for Barry Bonds is a little silver doggie....

3. It's just a bunch of photocopies of some guy's baseball card collection ... from 1967.

2. Sleeper lists include Sanjaya, Woody Allen, and Rip Van Winkle.


1. The words "avoid like the plague" aren't even mentioned when discussing the Baltimore Orioles pitching staff.

[Chris White's Little Fivers on Sports with major edits and rewrites by Mark Raymond]


Now, on Sunday I'll be working at a local arena doing concessions to raise money for my daughter's choir so, yeah, my weekend is pretty booked. I'll see you on Monday.



WEB SITE of the WEEK: Being in the "business" I am, you can imagine that I collect a lot of Internet "bookmarks" (also known as "favorites" for those of you still using Microsoft's Internet Explorer). Well, imagine my surprise when I learned that there were 2,698 of them stored in my browser. Wowsers! That's a lot of sites to track! But I'll be honest: some of them I haven't visited in years. This is where comes in handy. It's a handy little freeware program that is under 1.5 megabytes to download, so even if you still use dialup it's pretty fast. The program will load your bookmarks/favorites (it supports all the popular web browsers) and then check them to see if they are still active. The ones that aren't can be easily expunged. QED! The site also has several other programs you might find helpful. A tip o'the Mark Mail cap to that "digital goddess," Kim Komando.


Mark's Musings is available via email each weekday for free and is a Habeas-certified spam free mailer. Subscribe, view past issues in the Archives, or help defray publishing costs - and *still* be the first to donate this year - at my web site. To contact me, click here. To find something very small that you have dropped onto the floor, put a flashlight on the floor and slowly rotate it. A small object will look significantly bigger (and easier to find) with a shadow attached to it. You are encouraged to forward or reprint "Mark's Musings" freely but please keep the credits attached. Never pinch hit for my credits. Ever. Original material and commentary © 2008 by Mark Raymond. This includes the fine print you're reading now. I update my blog with a copy of this post daily, and extra thoughts, videos, and things that go bump in the night periodically on the weekends. Probably not this weekend. My personal mission statement is John 3:30. Play ball!


WORDS for YOUR WEEKEND: "Baseball is like church. Many attend, few understand." (Leo Durocher)

Thursday, March 27, 2008

Yellow Ink

A few years back, I was going through inkjet printers like a child goes through shoe sizes. Why? Because I realized that it was actually cheaper to buy a new printer than it was to replace the ink cartridges on my old printer.

Don't you hate that? What if every company followed that policy? You could buy a washing machine for under $50, but each box of detergent would set you back $75. Or get a really great deal on a "multi-function user-friendly bowl" but pay through the nose for soup, cereal, and salad.

I may at last, however, have found an answer I can live with ... the Saint Benedictine Monks at the Cistercian Abbey in Sparta, Wisconsin.

At their website - LaserMonks - they sell discounted ink, toner, laser cartridges, and much more. The prices are very, very reasonable, and the recycled supplies are cheaper, still. And the best part? Once they meet the expenses of the business and abbey, 100% of the rest goes to charitable causes.

If you're reading this, you've got a computer. If you've got a computer, you've probably got a printer. If you've got a printer, sooner or later you'll need ink or toner. Do yourself a favor and feel good about spending less for what you're already going to buy and then feel even better knowing you're helping someone in need in the process.


I had been working in Hewlett-Packard's DeskJet division for about a month when we received a call from a customer with a problem that she just couldn't figure out.

Her printer would not print yellow. All the other colors printed just fine, which was truly baffling, because the only colors a printer uses are cyan, magenta, and yellow.

Every other color is a combination of those three. For example, to print green, you combine cyan and yellow. Every color of the rainbow would print for this woman, except the color yellow.

I instructed her to change ink cartridges. I had the customer delete and then reinstall the printer drivers. Nothing worked. I asked all my coworkers for ideas, but none of them could think of anything we hadn't already tried.

After two hours of troubleshooting, I was just about to have the woman send the printer back to us for inspection and repair, when she said, "How about if I try printing this on white paper, instead of this yellow paper I've been using?"

[selected from Ed Peacher's Laughter for a Saturday]


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


Mark's Musings is sent via email each weekday for free! Get your very own subscription here.

Wednesday, March 26, 2008

Old Abraham

Imagine strapping yourself into a chair that can swivel through 180 degrees. Now imagine 21 other people doing the same thing, all spaced around a long platform table. Now imagine being lifted nearly 150 feet (50 metres) into the air by a giant crane.

Now imagine eating dinner while you're up there.

And you thought I was kidding.

List member Tim D. gave me the heads up, and I've put a picture of the experience on my blog. My favorite part, though, is when they lift the grand piano with a second crane to provide some light musical accompaniment with your meal.


Old Abraham was a poor tailor whose shop was next door to a very fancy and upscale French restaurant. Each day at lunchtime, Abraham would slip outside into the alley behind his shop and munch on his thin black bread and herring sandwich while enjoying the wonderful aromas that came from the fancy French restaurant's kitchen, whose doors were usually open.

One day, Abraham was surprised to receive an invoice from the restaurant for "enjoyment of food." So he went to the restaurant owner and pointed out that he had never bought a thing from him. "That is beside the point, m'sieur," the owner replied. "You are enjoying the food that we work so hard to make, you should be paying for it."

Abraham refused to pay and soon found himself in court, having been sued by the restaurant. The judge asked the restaurant owner to state his case. "Certainment, your honor," the owner began, "Every day, this man comes and sits outside our kitchen and smells OUR food while eating his. It is clear that we are adding value to his poor meal and we should be compensated for it."

The judge turned to Old Abraham and said, "What do you have to say to that?" Old Abraham didn't say anything. He merely stuck his hands in his pocket and rattled a few coins together. The judge asks, "What is the meaning of this?"

Finally Abraham speaks up and says, "I'm paying for the smell of his food with the sound of my money."

[originally seen in the Good, Clean, Funnies List]


WONDER for YOUR WEEK: What's up with wine lists? Do we really have to be reminded that we have no idea what we're doing every time we go out to eat at a nice restaurant? Why don't they just give us a trigonometry quiz with the menu? (attributed to Jerry Seinfeld)


Mark's Musings is sent via email each weekday. You can pay for your own subscription without spending a cent by clicking here.

Tuesday, March 25, 2008

Dr. Bloom

My wife is definitely not overweight, and she goes walking with a friend on her lunch hours when the weather is nice, yet still she has periodic problems with back spasms and painful muscle flare-ups. I will occasionally come down the stairs from my office to see her holding up the wall of our home, but that's just what it looks like. She is actually leaning against a tennis ball that's hiding between her back and the wall, relieving some pressure and providing a bit of an instant massage when she needs one.

The folks at Real Age say if you get yourself one of those big exercise balls - you know, the type you can sit on or lay across - and sit on that instead of slouching deep into your comfy sofa, you'll increase the strength of your back muscles and, if you do a few little exercises during the commercials, you'll tone up for summer!

Of course, they offer no suggestions on where to keep it when company comes over.


Dr. Bloom was known for his miracle cures for arthritis. One day, his waiting room was full of people when in shuffles a little old lady, bent nearly double, leaning on her cane.

When her name was called, she ambled into the patient visitation area and, amazingly, emerged less than thirty minutes later, walking completely upright, with her head held high.

A woman who had seen the old lady come in to the office stood and approached her. "This is incredible!" she exclaimed. "You walked through that door bent in half, and now you're walking as straight and tall as a young woman! What kind of miracle did that doctor DO for you?"

The old lady looks the woman in the eye and says, "Miracle, shmiracle ... he gave me a longer cane."

[as seen in God Laughs; edited by Mark Raymond]


WORDS for YOUR WEEK: "You know what they call someone who finishes last in their class at medical school? 'Doctor.' " (Author Unknown)


Mark's Musings is available each weekday via email and if laughter is truly the best medicine, then waste no time! Get your own subscription by clicking here.

Monday, March 24, 2008

Exact Address

Folks, I write this post in my spare time, such as it is (which often means the wee hours of the morning). The majority of my weekdays are spent in the employ of the U.S. Postal Service, as one of those lowly front-line vendors you know as Window Clerks, though our official title these days is "Sales & Services Associate."

Having shared this with you, that postal bias should take nothing away from the fact that the Post Office has come out with some pretty cool stamps in recent years. Some of them drawn by some pretty famous people.

There is now an online exhibit called "Trailblazers and Trendsetters: Art of the Stamp" in which you can view 76 different designs from the past. Most, if not all, have been enhanced and enlarged so you can capture all the detail that goes into a tiny square of adhesive or gummed paper.

It's really quite amazing.


Torrential rainstorms were knocking down power lines all over the county one week. As a customer service representative for our local power company, that meant I was dispatching trucks and linemen to repair problems all day and every night.

When I called back one customer to get her exact address, she replied, "I'm at Post Office Box 99."

Weary from having been on the phone all week, I heard myself say, "Ma'am, we'll be coming to you in a truck, not an envelope."

[Joe's Clean Laffs, with edits]


WORD for YOUR WEEK: Here's a word that eventually found its way into the esteemed Oxford English Dictionary: "McJob." It was coined by Douglas Coupland in his book, Generation X, and describes any type of low-paying, non-challenging job, typically in the service sector of our economy, ultimately inspired by those employed at the McDonald's fast food chain.


Mark's Musings is delivered every weekday by email. You can get your own subscription for free simply by clicking here.

Sunday, March 23, 2008

Friday, March 21, 2008


Good Friday, 2008. The day believers in The Way commemorate and memorialize the death of Jesus, the Christ. People who know a lot more than I do must have thought he was pretty important. His birth separated our calendar and our history as humans into all that came before him, and all that has come since. I'm not about to argue with them.

He was important. He is important. He will always be important. Jesus is the ultimate V.I.P. Yet the Bible teaches he gave up everything he had so that you and I should not perish. He couldn't love us any more than that, and he refuses to love us any less than that.



Jesus Christ, 33, of Nazareth, died today on Mount Calvary, also known as Golgotha, the Place of the Skull.

Betrayed by the apostle Judas, Jesus was crucified by the Romans, by order of the ruler Pontius Pilate. The cause of death was crucifixion, extreme exhaustion, severe torture, and loss of blood.

Jesus Christ was a descendent of Abraham, and a member of the house of David. He was the son of the late Joseph, a carpenter of Nazareth, and Mary, his devoted mother. He was born in a stable in Bethlehem, in Judea, and is survived by his mother Mary, his faithful apostles, numerous disciples, and many other followers.

Jesus was self-educated and spent most of his adult life working as a teacher. He also occasionally worked as a medical doctor and it is reported that he healed many patients. Up until the time of his death, Jesus was teaching and sharing what he called the "Good News," healing the sick, touching the lonely, feeding the hungry, and helping the poor.

Jesus was most noted for telling parables about his father's kingdom and performing miracles, such as feeding more than 5,000 people with just five loaves of bread and two fish, and healing a man who was born blind. On the day before his death, he held a Last Supper with his disciples, celebrating the Passover feast, at which time he actually foretold his death.

His body was quickly buried in a stone grave, which was donated to the family by Joseph of Arimathea, a loyal friend. By order of Pontius Pilate, a boulder was rolled in front of the tomb. Roman soldiers were also put on guard.

In lieu of flowers, the family has requested that everyone try to live as Jesus did. Donations may be directed to anyone in need.

[graphic submitted by list member Pam W.]


Of course, this is only half of the story. The other half happens Sunday morning. Be sure you check this space on Sunday, too. You'll find a really neat video here. But if I don't see you this weekend, I'll see you on Monday.



WEB SITE of the WEEK: If you have a long commute or your job allows you to wear headphones while you work, you might enjoy downloading a free classic book in an MP3 format (for Windows Media Players, CD players, etc.) or M4B format (for your iPod). Go to The list has a baker's dozen of books read by a real human, and another half dozen of classic books converted to audio by "advanced text to speech" software.


Mark's Musings is a Habeas-certified spam free mailer. Subscribe, view past issues in the Archives, or help defray publishing costs - and be the first to donate this year - at Mark's web site. If you need to change your e-mail address or, even worse, unsubscribe, use the "Change Subscription" or "Cancel Subscription" links at the very bottom of this page. To contact Mark, click here. To answer the call of nature when you're out in the woods, it is wise to toss a handful of pebbles or debris into the area you intend to use. This will theoretically flush out - no pun intended - any small animals you don't wish to have access to intimate areas of your body. You can forward or reprint "Mark's Musings" freely but please keep the credits attached. Would Jesus remove the credits? I don't think so. Original material and commentary © 2008 by Mark Raymond. This includes the fine print you're reading now. I update my blog with a copy of this post daily, and extra thoughts, videos, and things that go bump in the night periodically on the weekends. My personal mission statement is John 3:30. Well, look at the time. I gotta go.


WORDS for YOUR WEEKEND: "I believe in Christianity as I believe that the sun has risen. Not only because I see it, but because by it I see everything else." (C.S. Lewis)

Thursday, March 20, 2008

Tree and Dog

Maundy Thursday, 2008.

List member friend LaVonne T. tells me that this is the earliest Easter will ever happen in our lifetime. The date for Easter is actually based on a lunar calendar used by the Hebrews to identify the date for Passover. That's why it moves around on our calendar. Easter is the first Sunday after the first full moon after the first day of Spring.

Which is today, actually. Spring begins today. The very next full moon is tomorrow.

This is the earliest any of us will ever see Easter. The next time it comes so early in the year our calendars will have 2228 printed on them.



Unexpected cold snaps had destroyed the buds on my father's young peach tree for two years in a row. This spring Dad was ready. He replanted the sapling into a large box, mounted the box on wheels, and rolled the tree into the garage every time the temperature dropped.

One warm April day Dad was wheeling the tree out of the garage and he stopped to pick up the hose and give our old dog a drink before he watered the tree.

A neighbor was watching the scene with amusement. He finally called out to my father, "Frank, you're the only man I know who walks his tree and waters his dog!"

[seen everywhere but I'm blaming the Good, Clean Funnies List via Doc's Daily Chuckle]


WISDOM for YOUR WEEK: "Do not let any unwholesome talk come out of your mouths, but only what is helpful for building others up according to their needs, that it may benefit those who listen." (Ephesians 4:29)


Mark's Musings is available via email each weekday for free. Wheel your mouse on over here and get your very own subscription here.

Wednesday, March 19, 2008

Adventurous Birthday

Shhhhh ... get ready ... keep those lights out ... here she comes ... she's opening the blog ... everybody yell SURPRIIIIIIIISE! Happy Birthday, Bonnie!!!

Yup, it's my wife's birthday.

'Nuff said.


As my 50th birthday approached, I decided that this year I would try something adventurous, perhaps skydiving.

As I parked near the entrance to the library one day, I noticed a car next to mine with a bumper sticker that read, "I'd Rather Be Skydiving!" I found a scrap of paper and was about to leave a note on the window, asking the driver to call me, when I noticed that there, hanging from the rearview mirror, was a temporary permit for handicapped parking.

My very next thought was, "Maybe I'll try ballroom dancing, instead."

[originally seen in Charlie's Chuckles; edited]


WONDER for YOUR WEEK: Did they decide to put candles on birthday cakes so people can make light of their age?


Hey! C'mon in! Welcome to the party! Here's your noisemaker. Now, put on your little gold foil party hat and get your own subscription by clicking here.

Tuesday, March 18, 2008

First Funeral

Shields Moore is a Chaplain at the Tampa Airport. Every Monday he sends out a compilation of his "Chaplain's Notes" where he shares a verse of Scripture and a joke or story for each day of the week. Something like what I do, only he does it all on one day.

He's also an expert on all things chaplain-y.

Shields tells us that there are *many* different types of chaplains. You can find a chaplain working with pet owners, in airports, on campuses, in correctional facilities, hospitals, fire departments, and other emergency rescue organizations. You'll find chaplains in both Houses of Congress, the military, and police forces. Many workplaces even employ chaplains, in an effort to keep employee stress low and reduce absenteeism.

Fair enough, but did you also know that chaplains serve as emotional counselors and spiritual guides at the race track, in recreational vehicle parks, at seaports, in shopping malls and truck stops, at ski lodges, and in motorcycle gangs? One organization was even taking the step of sending chaplains into local bars for the patrons there.

While I can't imagine what they must do in such places, I can imagine the need is very, very great.


My father was extremely nervous about his first funeral service as a Navy chaplain, but the undertaker assured him that he would stand by his side during the brief ceremony and quietly prompt him through it.

All went well until the end of the service. The undertaker whispered to my father that he should ask the family to come up and view the body.

"Will the family now come forward," my father said, "and pass around the bier."

As soon as he said it, he cringed, knowing the misunderstandings that would follow.

Later, as he was leaving, he overheard two of the guests talking. "I didn't get any beer," said one. "Did you?"

"You heard the chaplain," came the reply. "It was just for the family."

[as told in Joe's Clean Laffs]


WORDS for YOUR WEEK: "Our Father in Heaven, give us the long view of our work and our world. Help us to see that it is better to fail in a cause that will ultimately succeed than to succeed in a cause that will ultimately fail." (from a prayer by U.S. Senate Chaplain Peter Marshall, circa 1949)


Mark's Musings is available via email each weekday for free. Get your own subscription by clicking here.

Monday, March 17, 2008

The Irish

Faith and begorrah, it's Saint Patrick's Day!

The harp is the official emblem of Ireland, not the shamrock, which Saint Patrick popularized as a symbol of the Holy Trinity.

The Irish national flag is green, white, and orange. The green represents the older Gaelic and Anglo-Norman population while the orange represents the Protestant followers of William of Orange. The white is to represent a peace between the two.

While we go to work and have a drink to celebrate Saint Patrick's Day, in Ireland it is a national holiday and all the shops and businesses are closed.

Saint Patrick wasn't an Irishman. His father was Italian and his mother was Scottish.



"You know it's summer in Ireland. The rain gets warmer."
-- Hal Roach

"If you can't get rid of the family skeleton, you may as well make it dance."
-- George Bernard Shaw

"If it was raining soup, the Irish would go out with forks."
-- Brendan Behan

"Ireland remains a deeply religious country, with the two main denominations being 'us' and 'them.'
-- Brendan Behan

Sign on a Kinsale shop: "Out for lunch. If not back by five, out for dinner also."

Sign on an Irish gate: "Farmer allows walkers across the field for free, but the bull charges."

Spike Milligan was once asked if anything was worn under the kilt. His quick comeback was, "No, it's all in perfect working order."

Did I tell you about the Irish boomerang? It doesn't come back. It just sings sad songs about how much it wants to.

[selected, with edits, from Irish Custom and Culture sites]


WORD for YOUR WEEK: Donnybrook is a wee suburb of Dublin, Ireland, and every year an annual fair was held there ... well, up until 1855, anyway. The Donnybrook Fair became known countrywide for its alcohol-fueled street brawls. And thus it was the word "donnybrook" turned up in language as another way to say a brawl, or a fight that got out-of-control.


Mark's Musings is sent via email each weekday and on me sainted mother's grave, I swear to ye that ye can get your own subscription for free simply by clicking here.

Sunday, March 16, 2008

God Believes

So I was watching a video teaching last night from Rob Bell, the creative and insightful pastor of Mars Hill Church in Grand Rapids. He was making some excellent points about understanding the cultural context in which Jesus lived and breathed and had his being. I figure Palm Sunday is as good a day as any to talk about this.

You see, back then, Jewish children went to school just like ours do, but they also learned the Torah, or the books of the law, or - as we know them - the first five books of the Bible. By the time a Hebrew child was ten, he or she had memorized Genesis, Exodus, Leviticus, Numbers, and Deuteronomy. Memorized.

At that point, the brightest and best would continue their studies. The rest of the children would then return home and be apprenticed to their parents or someone else in the village to learn a trade. The children who went on with their learning then spent the next four to five years memorizing the rest of the Old Testament. Memorizing it. Learning what it means. Studying it.

Then, at roughly the age of fifteen or sixteen, the brightest and best of these students - or the best of the best - would apply to study under a Rabbi. The Rabbi would ask them questions about what they had learned. Question upon question, a real grilling. Most would not live up to the Rabbi's expectations, and he would tell them to go home and learn a trade. Help their parents in their old age, and so on. But one or two, the Rabbi would see in them something special. They would see a person who could do what the Rabbi does, who could one day replace him and carry on the teachings of Scripture. At the end of the oral examination, to that student, the Rabbi would say, "Come, follow me." And from that moment on the student would leave his home and live with and serve the Rabbi, following him everywhere and studying with him.

What does all of this have to do with us? When Jesus called his first disciples, they were all engaged in the fishing trade. Fishing. Do you understand what that means? They had failed the Rabbi test. They were home, learning a trade. They were not the "best of the best." Yet Jesus said, "Come, follow me," and knowing those words meant the Rabbi had approved of them, they dropped everything and followed Jesus.

And those common fisherman and tax collectors, and folks just like you and I ... well, they changed the course of human history.

The moral of the story? Sometimes it's not so much that we believe in God ... for, you see, he believes in us.

Friday, March 14, 2008

Heart Thoughts

Time for some Serious Acts of Thinking.



There is a world of difference between "Go!" and "Let's go!"

Patience often comes disguised as simply not knowing what to do.

Honesty is the best policy but far too many people are satisfied with second best.

The beautiful thing about giving is you can often make people forget the past with a present.

Never give anyone, and especially a child, a book you would not read yourself.

Love laughs more often at logic than at locksmiths. [From MR: Okay, I really don't get this one, but I thought it sounded cool. Anybody have an idea what it means?]

The person who marries for money will soon discover that's the hardest way to earn it.

Work and play are pretty much the same thing, depending upon the conditions in which you find yourself.

There will always be two kinds of people: Those who always say what they think and those who have a lot of friends.

Some things are fireproof, many are waterproof, but nothing is foolproof.

People may not be against you so much as they may simply be for themselves.

Life is a voyage in which you choose neither the vessel nor the weather. Your job is to trim the sails and mind the rudder.

[with thanks to Menards and list member Cliff R.; everything edited by Mark Raymond]


It's a relatively quiet weekend on the home front, with only a couple of obligations to fulfill. May your way be as pleasant and I'll see you on Monday.



WEB SITE of the WEEK: After a moment to reflect on some serious stuff above, take a moment to enjoy something a little lighter. Charles Todd has been the brains behind and Chief Instigator of the "Improv Everywhere" movement, in which perfectly ordinary-looking people infiltrate a very public place quietly and then pull some outrageous stunt, in a theatrically-improvisational way. For a sample, check out the video I've embedded below and for a higher resolution of it see Usually the troupe doesn't ask for permission from the venue, but for this one they did. The group has performed over 70 "missions" that are available to view and read about with a few more clicks at the site.


Mark's Musings is a Habeas-certified spam free mailer. Subscribe, view past issues in the Archives, or help defray publishing costs - and be the first to donate this year - at Mark's web site. If you need to change your e-mail address or, even worse, unsubscribe, use the "Change Subscription" or "Cancel Subscription" links at the very bottom of this page. To contact Mark, click here. To fool a charging, enraged ostrich, lie down and pretend to be dead. The ostrich will think it has won and forget about the incident within a few seconds. May also work on middle managers. You can forward or reprint "Mark's Musings" freely but please keep the credits attached. The credits have never used performance-enhancing drugs of any kind, and so do not require any type of suspension. Original material and commentary © 2008 by Mark Raymond. This includes the fine print down here. I update my blog with a copy of this post daily, and extra thoughts, videos, and things that go bump in the night periodically on the weekends. My personal mission statement is John 3:30. I remembered why I'm growing my beard out.


WORDS for YOUR WEEKEND: "God does not comfort us to make us comfortable, but to make us comforters." (J.H. Jowett)

Thursday, March 13, 2008

Northern Lights

Imagine a battery that can be printed like paper. It can be cut, folded, rolled, or twisted and still provide energy. It can work in temperatures up to 300 degrees Fahrenheit and as low as 100 degrees below zero.

Now imagine that you won't even need to really worry about recharging it because it can run on blood or sweat.

Well, my friends, imagine no more.


During a prolonged training exercise in Alaska, intense cold played havoc with the vehicles and equipment. One harassed machine shop sergeant was trying furiously to keep up and cope with all of the vehicles that wouldn't run and machinery that wouldn't work.

One evening he was wondering what else could possibly go wrong when the door to the shop burst open and a soldier rushed in and announced, "Hey, Sarge, the Northern Lights are out!"

Exasperated and not even thinking, the sergeant replied, "Alright, alright. I'll send Johnson over to replace the generator as soon as I can!"

[first seen in Net 153's Smile A Day]


WISDOM for YOUR WEEK: "Every good and perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of the heavenly lights, who does not change like shifting shadows." (James 1:17)


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Wednesday, March 12, 2008

Cemetery Chat

The cemetery in Sarpourenx, France, is full. And the area's district court recently turned down an administrative request to acquire adjacent land in order to expand the cemetery. So what's a mayor to do?

Post an ordinance saying that anyone who dies in the village will be "severely punished," of course.

No, really.

That must be what they mean by "a fate worse than death."


An elderly man took his grandson on a walk through the local cemetery one day. Pausing in front of one gravestone, he told the boy, "Here lies an honest man. He died owing me $50, but he struggled to the end to pay it back. I suspect that man is in heaven."

The pair walked on a bit farther and paused before another grave marker. The old man pointed to the headstone and said, "Now here's a different type of man altogether. He owes me $60 and he died without ever once trying to pay me back. It wouldn't surprise me at all to learn he is in hell."

As the two of them were walking home, the boy says to his grandfather, "You know, Grandpa, you're a pretty lucky guy."

"How's that?" Grandpa asks.

"No matter which place you end up in, you'll have some money coming to you!"

[Andychap's The_Funnies; edited by Mark Raymond]


WONDER for YOUR WEEK: Do caskets come with a lifetime warranty?


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Tuesday, March 11, 2008

Ensemble Rules

Way back in March of 2006, I wrote about the "feud" between The Beatles and Apple Computers (mainly over perceived copyright infringements). You can find that original post in my archives here.

Well, folks, the war is over. Or at least a big battle has been settled.

Sir Paul McCartney this past week finally authorized Apple Computers to carry the majority of The Beatles' catalog on iTunes, all for the tidy sum of $400 million, to be shared by himself, Ringo Starr, Michael Jackson (who owns a large chunk of the rights to Beatles music), the estates of the other two Beatles (John Lennon and George Harrison), as well as two record companies.

In the interest of full disclosure, the Apple Records latest lawsuit against Apple Computers is still in the British courts. This agreement will, obviously, not do anything to help their case.



1. Everyone should play the same piece.

2. Observe the repeat signs only if what you just played was interesting.

3. If you play a wrong note, glare at one of the other players.

4. Carefully tune your instrument before playing. Then if you play out of tune, you can at least do it with a clear conscience.

5. The right note, at the wrong time, is a wrong note. (And vice-versa.)

6. A wrong note, played timidly, is a wrong note.

7. A wrong note, played with authority, is simply your interpretation of the phrase.

8. If everyone gets lost except you, follow the ones who are lost.

9. Strive to always play the maximum notes per second. This will intimidate the weaker players and gain you the admiration of the ignorant.

10. Markings for slurs, dynamics, and accidentals should be completely ignored. They are only there to make the score look more complicated.

11. If a passage is difficult, slow down. If it is easy, speed up. Everything will even itself out in the end.

12. You have achieved a true interpretation when, in the end, you have not played one note of the original piece.

13. When everyone else stops playing, you should stop also. Do not play any notes you may have left over.

14. Blessed are those without perfect pitch, for the kingdom of music is theirs.

[Andychap's The_Funnies with lots of edits and rewrites by Mark Raymond]


WORDS for YOUR WEEK: "Is there a meaning to music? My answer would be 'Yes.' Can you state in so many words what that meaning is? My answer to that would be, 'No.' " (Aaron Copland)


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Monday, March 10, 2008

Classic Presidential Story

I've been following this story since the end of January, waiting for the result. Vermont appears to be the only state that President George W. Bush has not visited since he took office in 2001. At least that's what United Press International reports. I'm thinking the good people of Vermont may be holding a grudge about that.

It seems that the City Councils in Brattleboro and Marlboro - both in Vermont - put measures on their respective ballots recently, asking that President Bush and VP Dick Cheney be indicted for "crimes against the Constitution" and want them both arrested should either cross the Vermont border and actually set foot in the state.

And oh, both measures actually passed last week.

And you thought I was kidding.



When Harry Truman was U.S. President, he once addressed the Washington Garden Club and kept referring to the prudential application of "good manure" to a flower bed.

Some of the upper class society ladies later complained to First Lady Margaret Truman, "Bess, can't you get the President to just say 'fertilizer'?"

The First Lady politely replied, "Good Heavens, it took me twenty-five years to get him to say 'manure'!"

[as told in JokeMaster]


WORD for YOUR WEEK: Everyone probably knows someone who is, theoretically, in charge of things but is being told what to do by someone else. There's actually a name for that other person. "Eminence grise." It's a French phrase that literally means "gray eminence." Eminence, of course, means power or authority. It stems from the time of Cardinal Richelieu (of Three Musketeer fame), who was known as the "Eminence Rouge" (Red Eminence) due to his fondness for wearing red habits. His secretary, Francois Leclerk du Tremblay, was his confidant and often conducted negotiations and other business on the Cardinal's behalf. He always wore gray habits and so became known as the "Eminence Grise."


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Saturday, March 08, 2008

The Perfect Love Song?

So last Christmas my wife gave me an in-dash CD player for my old Ford. Since then, I've been slowly re-listening to our entire collection of Compact Discs. This past week I had Jim Croce's Greatest Hits on.

I have to say, I think "Time in a Bottle" may just be the perfect love song. The lyrics capture that exquisite feeling of never wanting to be apart and that sense that you, my love, are the one I want to be with as the minutes pass, the hours expire, the days run away, and the weeks and months and years slip by.

You. Only you.
If I could save time in a bottle
The first thing that I'd like to do
Is to save every day 'til eternity passes away
Just to spend them with you

If I could make days last forever
If words could make wishes come true
I'd save every day like a treasure and then
Again, I would spend them with you

But there never seems to be enough time
To do the things you want to do
Once you find them
I've looked around enough to know
You're the one I want to go
Through time with

If I had a box just for wishes
And dreams that had never come true
The box would be empty except for the memory
Of how they were answered by you

See? The perfect love song.
"Time in a Bottle" words and lyrics by Jim Croce; © 1972 by Saja Music

Cat Sequel

Last October, while I was home recovering from gall bladder surgery, I stumbled upon a cute and clever animated video short called "Wake Up Cat." You'll find it in my October 2007 posts, or just click the label for "cats" or "video clip" on the lower right over there.

A couple of days ago my daughter pointed out that there was another video, by the same guy, posted on Cute Overload. Never let it be said I don't follow through on things.

Friday, March 07, 2008

William F. Buckley

Seems like some awfully good people have "shuffled off this mortal coil" recently.

This week I pay tribute to William F. Buckley, an author and probably most well-known for his conservative commentary and views. He wrote more than 50 books, including works of fiction in the spy genre. He also played the piano and harpsichord quite well.

He founded National Review magazine, was a delegate to the United Nations, and spent much time on the television show, "Firing Line."

He passed away on February 27 at 82 years old.



"I won't insult your intelligence by suggesting that you really believe what you just said."

"I would like to electrocute everyone who uses the word 'fair' in connection with income tax policies."

"Idealism is fine, but as it approaches reality, the costs become prohibitive."

"Liberals claim to want to give a hearing to other views, but then are shocked and offended to discover that there are other views."

"I get satisfaction of three kinds. One is creating something, one is getting paid for it and one is the feeling that I haven't just been sitting on my butt all afternoon."

"I'd rather entrust the government of the United States to the first 400 people listed in the Boston telephone directory than to the faculty of Harvard University."

"The academic community has in it the biggest concentration of alarmists, cranks and extremists this side of the giggle house."

"I mean to live my life an obedient man, but obedient to God, subservient to the wisdom of my ancestors; never to the authority of political truths arrived at yesterday at the voting booth."

[collected from at least five different quotation sites on the Web]


And here is your obligatory reminder that if you live in a state which has decided to observe Daylight Savings Time, you must flip your clock ahead one hour on Sunday morning at 2:00 a.m., or do what the rest of us do and notch it up 60 minutes before your head hits the pillow on Saturday night.

I'll see you on Monday.



WEB SITE of the WEEK: With this week's site, you can "keep the kids in mind" before selecting which movie to see. At, you'll get a blow-by-blow account of such things as sex/nudity, violence/gore, profanity, substance use, and even suggestions for discussion topics and a quick take on what they think the movie is trying to say. Needless to say, a lot of spoilers are given away, and the site makes no judgments about the ethical or moral merits of the movie. One thing is sure, you won't be able to say you didn't know what was coming before you walk into the cinema.


Mark's Musings is a Habeas-certified spam free mailer that is delivered to your Inbox each weekday for free. Subscribe, view past issues in the Archives, or help me defray publishing costs - I could really use the help - at my web site. To contact Mark, click here. To see me as a "featured guest blogger" on my friend Andy's often funny and always interesting blog, go to You can forward or reprint "Mark's Musings" freely but please keep the credits attached. The credits are fine, the credits are cool. Detaching the credits makes you a big ... meanie. 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 on the weekends. My personal mission statement is John 3:30. I'm growing my beard out, but I'm not exactly sure why, anymore.


WORDS for YOUR WEEKEND: "We will have to repent in this generation not merely for the hateful words and actions of the bad people but for the appalling silence of the good people." (Martin Luther King, Jr.)

Thursday, March 06, 2008

Tea Bags

Quick quiz: It's mid-afternoon and your brain is slowing down to yawn-inducing sluggishness. Which quick bite is the best choice? A small chunk o'cheese or a bit o'banana?

The folks at Real Age say bite the banana. The potassium-rich fruit has more of the chemical your brain runs on. So keep a bunch in your top desk drawer, just in case.



~ Own any cast-iron pots or pans? After washing, wipe 'em out with used tea bags. The tannin in the tea will create a rust preventing layer.

~ Dry skin? Bathe in green tea! Throw a few green tea bags in the warm running water under the faucet. The antioxidants in the tea will help to rehydrate your skin.

~ Stinky cat litter? Dry a few used tea bags, then open them and add the contents to your cat's litter box. The antibacterial properties in the tea will neutralize offensive odors.

~ How about an instant facial? Apply warm, wet tea bags to your face. The tannins will tighten pores and reduce puffiness.

~ Cooking fish or garlic? Wipe your palms with wet tea bags afterward and odors will disappear.

~ When I was a boy, my mother would boil a pot of tea, then allow it to cool. Then she'd dip paper towels in it and lay it over my painfully sunburned skin. The tannins in the tea cool the burning and promote healing.

[with many thanks to Kimberly Quiggle's Cup O'Recipes]


WISDOM for YOUR WEEK: "Be strong and courageous. Do not be terrified; do not be discouraged, for the Lord your God will be with you wherever you go." (Joshua 1:9)


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Wednesday, March 05, 2008

Klingon Programming

So in my mild-mannered disguise as a Computer Instructor, I'm teaching a Basic PowerPoint class this evening.

Which is a handy segue into telling you that PC Magazine recently spotlighted 157 free software programs you might find unique or useful.



~ You question the worthiness of my code? I should kill you where you stand!

~ What is this talk of "release"? Klingons do not make software "releases." Our software escapes!

~ Debugging? Klingons do not debug! Our software does not coddle the weak.

~ You cannot truly appreciate "Dilbert" until you've read it in the original Klingon.

~ Our users will know fear and cower before our software! Ship it! Ship it and let them flee like the dogs they are!

[found deep in my archives, source unknown. I would apologize, but that would be a sign of weakness]


WONDER for YOUR WEEK: Why do we insist there's intelligent life on other planets? Why should those planets be any different than this one?


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Tuesday, March 04, 2008

Coal Math

You know those cute Google logos that are gussied up for special occasions or holidays? You know, like the one above or this one for National Teacher's Day:

Well, Google is sponsoring a contest for teachers and their students in grades K-12 this year to come up with a new doodled logo around the theme, "What if...?"

Registration is free and the student who submits the winning design wins a $10,000 scholarship to a college of their choice. In addition, the school wins $25,000 toward a new or upgraded computer lab.

Registration closes in just over three weeks and entries have to be in by April 12. All the details are here.


So the teacher working up in a backwoods classroom is working with her class on arithmetic and she calls on Johnny.

"Johnny, if coal is selling at $6 for a ton, and you pay your coal man $24, how many tons will he bring you?"

"A little over three tons, ma'am," Johnny answers promptly.

"Why, Johnny, that just isn't right," replies the teacher.

"No, ma'am, it isn't. But they all do it...."

[Andychap's The_Funnies]


WORDS for YOUR WEEK: "If a doctor, lawyer, or dentist had 40 people in his office at one time, all of whom had different needs, and some of whom didn't want to be there and were causing trouble, and the doctor, lawyer, or dentist, without assistance, had to treat them all with professional excellence for nine months, then he might have some conception of the classroom teacher's job." (Donald D. Quinn)


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Monday, March 03, 2008

Monday Groaners

So after finishing my tax returns this weekend, I spent some time updating my blog, as you can see. I've changed the layout, the color scheme, and I've gone back and added labels to all 130+ posts.

That means you can click on one of the labels over on the right side and see all the posts related to that subject. The "video clip" label means that post contains a video. (Well, duh.) The "your thoughts" label includes posts where I've specifically asked for your comments. And so on.

Anyway, check it out if you're in the mood and have the time.



Someone once gave a bald man a comb for a gift. His response? "I'll never part with it!"

There's only one type of nail a carpenter hates to hit. His fingernail.

Are royal chairs ever throne out?

Even though he was lazy, the bakery wouldn't fire him. They needed a loafer.

Who says nothing is impossible? I've been doing nothing for years.

My daughter got her ears pierced because all of her friends had pierced ears. It was a clear case of pierce pressure.

Emmanuel was very ill. He tried every bit of medical advice from every doctor he could visit and nothing made him feel better. Finally, in desperation, his wife told him to try their local beauty salon. That turned out to be just what he needed and he soon was feeling much better. The reason? Well, everyone knows that beauty salons are experts on Manny cures.

[selected from JokeMaster with mild edits and rewrites by Mark Raymond]


WORD for YOUR WEEK: I'll do some double-duty this week. You have "grisly" and you have "grizzly" and they mean two completely different things. "Grisly" comes from the Old English word "grislic" which is related to a word that means "to fear." Today's usage implies something fearful, disgusting or horrific, as in a "grisly murder." Now, while grizzly bears are, indeed, fearful, they get their name from the Middle English adjective "grisel," which means gray. The grizzled fur is streaked with pale or silver tips, creating a gray effect. So while a grizzly bear may do something grisly, the two words aren't really related.


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