Wednesday, April 30, 2008

Night Fears

Well, I'll write this story up because it's from Michigan and mildly involves baseball, but I'm not proud of what happened.

Christopher Ratte is a professor of classical archeology at the University of Michigan. He probably doesn't watch much television or read many contemporary magazines.

Which may explain why he didn't know what was in Mike's Hard Lemonade when he purchased a bottle for his seven-year old son at a recent Detroit Tiger's game.

For those of you who may be in the same boat as Professor Ratte, five percent of Mike's Hard Lemonade is alcohol. It's an adult beverage. A security guard at Comerica Park noticed little Leo Ratte holding the bottle and snatched it after alerting his father as to its contents. The boy was sent to the stadium physician on duty, and from there sent - by ambulance, no less - to Children's Hospital, where he was pronounced fine and fit as a fiddle, without even any alcoholic content showing up in a blood test.

The police, however, turned the boy over to Child Protective Services and he had to spend two days away from his family before being allowed to return home, and Professor Ratte had to move out of the house for the next week.

I suppose it's best to err on the side of caution, but it just seems to me that a little judicious application of common sense would have made this a non-story.


Our three-year-old daughter, Jenna, was having trouble sleeping through the night, waking up because she was afraid. Each time I tucked her back into bed, I would remind her that Jesus was with her and he would keep her safe.

Alas, the sleepless nights continued, with Jenna seeking comfort from the dark in our bedroom. Finally, one night, I asked her if she had really prayed for Jesus to take her fear away and help her.

"Oh, yes," she assured me. "He told me to come and get you."

[Pastor Tim's Cybersalt Digest]


WONDER for YOUR WEEK: Children are a gift from God, but aren't there days when you wish he'd included the receipt?


Mark's Musings is sent each weekday via email. You can snatch your own subscription for free by clicking here.

Tuesday, April 29, 2008

Rejected Candy Bars

Wow, lots of *great* responses to "You Know You're Getting Older When...". Keep 'em coming, folks! I may have to run that post THIS Friday, or even make it a two-parter! Good job, everybody.

Meanwhile, in other news, medical researchers in England are looking for 150 women willing to eat chocolate every day for the next year.

Ladies, your ship has come in.

Now hold on, you have to be "postmenopausal women under the age of 70," and it's a specially-created new chocolate that is high in flavonoids, which are supposed to reduce your risk of heart disease.




Almond Misery




Milk Dudes

Sugar Preemies

Mr. Okaybar

Three Muskrat Ears

Angry Rancher

York's Pepper Patties

[written by Mark Raymond; inspired by Chris White's Top Five on Food]


WORDS for YOUR WEEK: "Carob makes a terrific substitute for chocolate, in much the same way that ketchup is a convincing replacement for fine wine." (Sandra Boynton)


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

Monday, April 28, 2008

Keeping A Secret

Hey, welcome to all the new list members (advertising works!). I hope you enjoy what you see here in Mark's Musings and don't hesitate to contact me and hold me accountable for the experience.

List member Jonathan B. from Down Under says it's time to run another reader submission post. This time the theme will be, "You know you're getting older when...." and y'all fill in the rest of that sentence.

My birthday is coming up in just under three weeks so that's been on my mind, anyway. Let's get those ideas submitted to me, and I'll publish them on Friday, May 9. (Which, by the way, is my son's birthday.)


At a dinner party, several of the guests were discussing whether men or women are more capable of holding a confidence.

Said one man, scornfully, "No woman can keep a secret."

"I don't know about that," replied one woman, "I have kept my age a secret since I was twenty-one!"

"Oh, you'll tell someone one day," the man insisted.

"I hardly think so!" said the woman. "If a woman can keep a secret for thirty-three years, she can keep it forever!"

[Good Clean Funnies List via Doc's Daily Chuckle]


WORD for YOUR WEEK: When someone says that they've upset their "circadian rhythms," what exactly do they mean? The word "circadian" is a compound of two Latin words: "circa," which means "around" and "dies," which means "day." The word literally means around the day ... or one 24-hour period. Through the ebb and flow of our daily lives, we establish a 24-hour routine of sleep, work, and relaxation. When that routine is disrupted - especially the sleep portion of it - we have upset our circadian rhythms.


Mark's Musings is sent each weekday via email. You can get your own subscription for free without upsetting anyone by simply clicking here.

Sunday, April 27, 2008

My Favorite Inventions

I like ideas that work. Simple things, mostly, but just plain good ideas that get the job done.

Like 4-way stops. Whoever gets to the intersection first WINS, and your prize is you get to drive away first. I love that! It's uniquely American, blending the concepts of competition with instant gratification. And the beautiful kicker is that it makes the roads safer!

9-1-1. One all-purpose number that's quick and easy to dial, easy to remember, and is a one-stop shop for all emergencies. I understand the number is different for other countries, but the concept is the same. A gorgeous idea and one that WORKS.

Tissue boxes. Magic! They are absolutely magic. With them, the tissues pop up one by one, as you need them. Without the box, the tissues don't work anymore. Now mind you, getting that first one out of the box started with just one tissue can be tough, but after that, it's a breeze. A fantastic invention! And so simple! No wiring, no batteries, no moving parts, sheer brilliance!

Ballpoint pens. A hollow tube, a thinner tube of ink, a spring, a pushbutton clicker, and you have a device capable of transporting the thoughts/pictures/maps/words/ideas stuffed up into your head down through your arm, into your fingers, and out onto a writing surface. And it uses only a pinpoint hole and gravity. And yet, somehow, the ink comes out in - generally - an even, controlled flow. Fantastic!

Those are a few of my favorites. And just because it's Sunday and you deserve a laugh, here's comedian Robert G. Lee wondering about a couple of other inventions.

What's your favorite invention that's simple and just plain WORKS?

Friday, April 25, 2008

Car Acronyms Part Two

You may remember that last Friday my car had broken down and left me frumping and grumpy. So I presented a post of auto name acronyms that were (hopefully) funny, but a bit negative. Hey, it was the mood I was in.

This week, however, I want to offer the flip side of that coin, thanks to list member Cliff R., who is an ordained lay minister, poet, mechanic, tinkerer extraordinaire, jeweler, and pretty much anything-he-sets-his-mind-to-be kind of guy.

And oh, yeah, he's my Dad.


Part Two

AUDI - Autos Universally Driven Industriously

BMW - Beautiful Machine Working

BUICK - Beautiful, Understated, Intelligent Car King

CADILLAC - Cool American Drive In Luxurious Leisurely Air Conditioning

CAMARO - Capable Auto, Makes A Racy Offering

CHEVROLET - Can Haul Everything Vital Regularly On Long Extended Trips

CHRYSLER - Can Have Really Young, Supreme, Lovingly Efficient Ride

DODGE - Driving Our Dodge Gives Excitement

FERRARI - Foreign Exciting Ride Rivals All Racers Interestingly

FORD - First On Road Driven

GMC - Get More Car

HUMMER - Has Unusual Major Mechanicals; Exceptional Ride

HYUNDAI - Have Your Usual Nice Drive And Interact

JEEP - Just Exciting, Efficient Product

KIA - Keep It Always

MAZDA - Major Auto Zinging Drivers Awake

MUSTANG - Made Under Stringent Technical And New Guidelines

NISSAN - Nice Interesting Sane Styling And Newness

OLDSMOBILE - Older Leisurely Driving Sedan Making One Believe In Luxurious Efficiency

PONTIAC - Produced On New Technical Innovations And Circuitry

SATURN - Sure Alternative To Usual Ride Nurturing

SUBARU - Safe Urban Bargain Always Running ... Usually

TOYOTA - Try Our Yearly Offers To Assess

[written by list member Cliff R., some mild editing by Mark Raymond]


Next week I'll check in with your second installment of list favorite "Random Acts of Thinking." Have a happy weekend and I'll see you on Monday.



WEB SITE of the WEEK: Microsoft doesn't just make and maintain most of the software that those of us with PCs use, they also offer a vast website of support, help, downloads, tips, tricks, and pre-made templates for your use at This will cover any software in the Microsoft "Office" suite: Word, Excel, PowerPoint, Access, FrontPage, Outlook, Project, Publisher, and more.


Mark's Musings is a Habeas-certified spam free mailer. Subscribe, view past issues in the Archives, or help defray publishing costs at my web site. To contact Mark, click here. To help prevent macular degeneration, Real Age says to eat nuts and fish at least once a week. You can forward or reprint "Mark's Musings" freely but please keep the credits attached. I'll still love you if you don't, but I'll REALLY love you if you do. Original material and commentary © 2008 by Mark Raymond. This includes the stuff you're reading right now. My personal mission statement is John 3:30. Please make sure you remove all overhead luggage before leaving the post.


WORDS for YOUR WEEKEND: "I believe in looking reality straight in the eye and denying it." (Garrison Keillor)

Thursday, April 24, 2008

Refrigerator Cleaning

On Tuesday I wrote about a Mom who recycled aluminum foil. I can remember my own stepmother doing that, as well, many years ago. Maybe because of that, my eye was attuned to this blog entry.

It's from the same site I highlighted a couple Fridays back, showing us multiple uses for tennis balls.



You open the door and *something* pulls it shut again.

You don't worry about getting sick because all the mold inside gives you a handy source of penicillin.

Although the Jell-O® still holds its shape, the bowl no longer does.

When you open the door, the whispering suddenly stops.

The fruit needs a shave.

Middle School science classes keep showing up for field trips.

Environmentalists have come to take core samples of the ice mass in the freezer compartment.

You found mold ... on the door magnets.

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


WISDOM for YOUR WEEK: "But now you must rid yourselves of all such things as these: anger, rage, malice, slander, and filthy language from your lips." (Colossians 3:8)


Mark's Musings is sent each weekday via email. Clean up your act and get your very own - free! - subscription here.

Wednesday, April 23, 2008

Corporate Dogs

Does your pet have a personality?

You probably just said to yourself, "Of course he/she/it does," right?

So if your pet has a personality, that means it can get moody, yes? Irritable? Depressed? Go through separation anxiety when you're not home with it?

Well, if you own a dog, there's hope for your depressed Dino. Though I'm only now catching up to this news, apparently about a year ago the Food and Drug Administration approved the use of antidepressants for canines. They call it "Reconcile."

And you thought I was kidding.



It's perfectly acceptable for your coworkers to go through your trash.

Petting of subordinates is permitted.

All discipline is issued with a rolled-up newspaper.

Accounting figures are adjusted by a factor of seven.

All employees must wash hands when coming in from the backyard.

Snacks at official company meetings include donuts, coffee, and meat byproducts.

Employees circle their desks three times before sitting down.

[with thanks to Grinning Planet; edits and additional material by Mark Raymond]


WONDER for YOUR WEEK: How come no one ever says "I'm as healthy as a dog"?


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

Tuesday, April 22, 2008

Things You Keep

So today is Earth Day. No matter where you live, what you do, what language you speak, or what your beliefs are, the Earth is the one thing we ALL have in common.

In that spirit of ecology (and with a big thanks to PC Magazine), here's how you recycle your old computer, when you finally get rid of it. Also check out one of these, or all three:

Earth 911. Cool site about all kinds of eco-things, including a program that plants a tree for every cell phone you recycle.
My Green Electronics. Reduce, Reuse, Recycle, Rethink.
Where to Recycle Your Electronics. If you live in the U.S., anyway.



I grew up in the late 1940s and '50s with very practical parents. A mother, God love her, who washed aluminum foil after she cooked in it, then reused it. She was the original recycling queen, before they had a name for it. My father was happier getting old shoes fixed than buying new ones.

Their marriage was good, their dreams were focused. Their best friends lived barely a wave away. I can still see them: Dad in trousers, tee shirt, and a felt hat. Mom in a house dress. Dad had a lawn mower in his hands, Mom is holding a dish towel. It was the time for fixing things. A curtain rod, the kitchen radio, screen door, the oven door, the hem in a dress -- things we keep.

It was a way of life, and sometimes it made me crazy. All that re-fixing, eating, renewing, I wanted just once to be wasteful. Waste meant affluence. Throwing things away meant you knew you could always afford more.

But then my mother died, and on that clear summer's night, in the warmth of the hospital room, I was struck by the pain of learning that sometimes there isn't any more.

Sometimes what we care about most gets all used up and goes away, never to return.

So, while we have it, it's best we love it ... and care for it ... and fix it when it's broken ... and heal it when it's sick.

This is true for marriage ... and old cars ... and children with bad report cards ... dogs with bad hips ... aging parents ... and grandparents. We keep them because they are worth it. Like a best friend that moved away or a classmate we grew up with.

Some things you keep.

[originally seen in Mikey's Funnies; words massaged and nudged a little by Mark Raymond]


WORDS for YOUR WEEK: "For 200 years we've been conquering Nature. Now we're beating it to death." (Tom McMillan)


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Monday, April 21, 2008


Now, here's a kid who can do something I'll never be able to do.

Nor would I want to.


A lot of people have been retiring from the office where my wife works and one day the staff was having another luncheon for them. As everyone piled into a few cars for the short trip to the restaurant, they realized the giant balloon they had purchased - with the words "Gone But Not Forgotten" - would not fit into their vehicle. So they just held onto the string tight and let it dangle through the window and outside the car as they drove.

My wife and the others in her car, however, were hardly prepared for all of the glares they received from drivers in the other cars. And there was an awful lot of traffic that day.

All was revealed as the long line of cars in front of them turned a corner.

Turns out they had been following a funeral procession.

[Pastor Tim's Cybersalt Digest]


WORD for YOUR WEEK: General Ambrose Everett Burnside was a Civil War military figure. He wasn't a very good strategist, apparently, but was well-liked and eventually went into politics. He wore long mutton-chop style whiskers down the side of his face and they eventually became known as, you guessed it, "sideburns."


Mark's Musings is available each weekday via email and you can blow up your own subscription with your nose (and tie it off yourself) for free simply by clicking here.

Friday, April 18, 2008

Car Acronyms

Just when I thought I'd have time to dig up something interesting for you today ... my car dies. So now that time has to be spent sitting at the mechanic's.

Sorry, everybody, sorry. (grumblegrumblegrumble ... stupidcaranyway ... grumble....)



AUDI - Always Under Diagnostic Inspection

BMW - Bring My Wallet

BUICK - Big Ugly Indestructible Cash Killer

CAMARO - Cash Always Miniscule After Retail Overpricing

CHEVROLET - Cheap, Hardly Efficient, Virtually Runs On Luck Every Time

CHRYSLER - Company Has Recommended You Start Learning Engine Repair

DODGE - Doing Overhauls Daily Gets Expensive

FERRARI - Ferociously Elegant Racer Rides All Roads Intelligently

FORD - Fix Or Repair Daily [My Dad taught me that one -- MR]

HONDA - Had One, Never Did Again

HUMMER - Huge Ugly Monster, Mostly Eats Resources

JEEP - Just Empty Every Pocket

NISSAN - Need I Say Something About Nothing?

OLDSMOBILE - Overpriced, Leisurely Driven Sedan Made Of Buick's Irregular Leftover Equipment

PONTIAC - Plan On Numerous Trips In Another Car

SATURN - Same American Trash Under Revised Name

TOYOTA - This One You Often Tow Away

VW - Virtually Worthless

[selected from, with family friendly edits and additional material by Mark Raymond]


For the record, I drive a Ford. And up until yesterday, not counting one window smashed in a parking lot break-in and a collision at an intersection when another car ran a red light, it's been very reliable for nearly four years, now.

I'll see you on Monday.



WEB SITE of the WEEK: Needing something quick today, I'll send you to, one of the sites I stop at nearly every day. It's hosted by Time Magazine, and features "quotemakers" - a term I just made up on the spot - with quotes taken from news stories of the day by real people and adds an often interesting photograph. Sometimes it's of the person who said it, or the person it's about, or just a cool photo graphic related to the quote.


Mark's Musings is also sent each weekday via email and is a Habeas-certified spam free mailer. Subscribe, view past issues in the Archives, or help defray publishing costs at Mark's web site. (Please, I need the money to get help so I stop talking about Mark in the third person.) To contact Mark, click here. To read something funny in this space, you'll have to use your imagination this week. You can forward or reprint "Mark's Musings" freely but please keep the credits attached. I just can't ask any more politely or succinctly than that. Original material and commentary © 2008 by Mark Raymond. This includes the stuff you're reading right now. My personal mission statement is John 3:30. Anybody know a good mechanic?


WORDS for YOUR WEEKEND: "I think the worst time to have a heart attack is during a game of charades." (Demetri Martin)

Thursday, April 17, 2008

Just the Joke Today

A couple other projects need my attention so, sorry, but just the joke today, kids. The daughter of one of my bandmates is getting married in late summer, so this is for him.


An unmarried young lady who worked in a large office came in one morning and began passing out big fat cigars and candy, all tied up with a blue ribbon.

When asked what the occasion was, she happily displayed a diamond solitaire band on her ring finger and announced,

"It's a boy! Six feet tall and 190 pounds!"



WISDOM for YOUR WEEK: "For the message of the cross is foolishness to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God." (1 Corinthians 1:18)


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Wednesday, April 16, 2008


I don't know, you tell me ... is this romantic or just over-the-top geeky?

Computer programmer Bernie Peng is in love with Tammy Li. Tammy loves playing "Bejeweled," a video game that started off as an online diversion but has blossomed into one of the most popular video games on or off the Internet, and has spawned dozens of similar games.

Last December Bernie hacked into the code of Tammy's video game and reprogrammed it so that a ring and a marriage proposal would appear on the screen once Tammy reached a certain score. She did and it did and she said "yes" and the couple plan to wed over the Labor Day weekend.

The company that created "Bejeweled" - PopCap Games - is surprisingly supportive of the New Jersey couple and plan to fly them to Seattle as part of their honeymoon, plus give away copies of "Bejeweled" as wedding favors.

By the way, you can play "Bejeweled" here.


As a features writer for our local paper, one day I was interviewing a jeweler for a story I was working on about giving new life to old jewelry. I asked him to tell me about his most memorable client.

"I once did some work for a divorced woman," he related. "She had me take her old wedding band, which was inscribed, and carefully cut it into two pieces and make her a pair of earrings from it. Because of the inscription, one earring read 'With all' and the other earring read, 'my love.'

"When I asked why the woman had specifically wanted it that way, she answered, 'To remind me that the next time someone says that to me, I should let it go in one ear and out the other.' "

[selected from the Top Greetings website]


WONDER for YOUR WEEK: Why do some people put more effort into the wedding than the marriage?


Mark's Musings is available each weekday via email and if you haven't got your own yet, a subscription is yours for free by clicking here.

Tuesday, April 15, 2008


If you live in the States, I hope you've got your taxes done. Today is the deadline.

If not, file to get an extension until August on that deadline.



One taxpayer, who was employed by a pest control company, put down his occupation as "hired killer."


"When my mother makes out her income tax return every year, under 'Occupation' she writes in, 'Eroding my daughter's self-esteem.' " (Robin Roberts)


An Internal Revenue Service (IRS) agent whose job it was to assist those who call for help, was overheard one afternoon while on the phone: "Sir, please watch your language! ... Sir, your language! ... Sir, please! ... {gasp} Reverend! I'm ashamed of you!"


Bill and Mary, his fiancée, met with a minister to discuss their marriage vows.

"Pastor," said Mary, "I wonder if we could make a small change in the wording of our vows at the wedding."

"Yes, Mary," replied the pastor, "it is sometimes done. What did you have in mind?"

"Well," says Mary, "I'd like to change 'til death do us part' to 'substantial penalty for early withdrawal.' "

[mostly from Joe's Clean Laffs via Keith Todd's Sermon Fodder]


WORDS for YOUR WEEK: "Taxation with representation ain't so hot, either." (Gerald Barzan)


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

Monday, April 14, 2008

Too Thin

Hey, I posted a new video clip here on the blog last night (it's the entry just below this one). It's about how Hollywood and Madison Avenue distort our image of what beauty should look like. Which led me to today's post.



10. "CUT! Get the EMTs, Teri's slipped down the shower drain. Again."

9. He can elude the paparazzi just by turning sideways.

8. Her most recent meal refuses to enter her stomach for fear of being alone. So alone.

7. Can't wear designer dresses because her clavicle bones keep cutting through the spaghetti straps.

6. When she gets a run in her pantyhose, she falls through.

5. Needs a fat suit to star in a biopic about Twiggy.

4. His agent can submit both the prospective manuscript AND the actor through the slot in the door.

3. She's constantly being knocked over by the photons from camera flashes.

2. The new breast implants doubled her weight.


1. You can count his vertebrae. From the front.

[selected from Chris White's Little Fivers on Health and Beauty; family-friendly edits and formatting by Mark Raymond]


WORD for YOUR WEEK: My daughter didn't understand what I meant when I used the word "listless" this past weekend. I originally thought it had something to do with sailing but upon further investigation, it comes from the same root word that gives us "lust" and "desire." Adding the "less" to the end, of course, adjusts it to mean just the opposite. So if you are "listless," you have no desires, no energy, and/or no interest in anything. (Of course, it could also mean going to the grocery store empty handed.)


Mark's Musings is available via email each weekday and you can get your own gorgeous subscription for free simply by clicking here.

Sunday, April 13, 2008

Charm is Deceitful

I love it when giant corporations do something Biblical, even if they're not aware of it. Dove, the people who make soap and shampoo and cosmetics and other skin care products (not to mention some pretty awesome chocolates), have sponsored for some time now a "Campaign for Real Beauty."

I have only just this week, however, run across their series of videos. Here's my favorite:

Get your kids and grandkids onto this site, watch the rest of the videos, and teach them what real beauty is all about.

"Charm is deceptive, and beauty is fleeting; but a woman who fears the Lord is to be praised." (Proverbs 31:30)

Friday, April 11, 2008

Healthy Stuff

Whew! That's a relief!

Health Magazine recently busted nine myths about things we all thought made us healthy (or sick), like drinking eight glasses of water each day, or eating fewer eggs because they drive up our cholesterol. There are seven others at the link.



For several years my husband and I have made a conscientious effort to get our family to eat more healthful foods at meals and for snacks. The children often express their discontent with this choice. One afternoon at the grocery store I purchased paper towels that were in a new, recyclable earth-tone color. When I got home and my 17-year old son pulled them out of the bag, he exclaimed, "Oh no! Whole Wheat towels!"


A fussy eater, my nine-year old son asked me to please buy multigrain bread. Happy that he wanted to eat so healthily, I purchased a loaf. The next morning, while making his sandwich for school, I told him how happy I was that he liked multigrain bread.

"I don't," he said. "But the kid who I trade sandwiches with does."


An 80-year old man went to his doctor for a routine physical. The doctor was amazed at what good shape the man was in. "To what," the doctor asked, "do you attribute your good health?"

The old guy thinks a moment and then says, "I'm an avid golfer. I think that's why I'm in such good shape. I'm usually up well before daylight and out on the links walking up and down the fairways."

The doctor replies, "Well, I'm sure that helps, but there's got to be more to it. Maybe it's genetics. How old was your father when he died?"

The old guy says, "Who says he's dead?"

The doctor, taken aback, says, "You mean to tell me that you're 80 years old and your father is still alive? How old is he?"

"He's 100 years old and, as a matter of fact, he went golfing with me this morning. That's why he's still alive, I think, he loves to golf as much as I do."

So the doctor says, "Well, that's fantastic! But there's still got to be more to it. How about your grandfather? How old was your grandfather when he died?"

The old man replies, "Who says my grandpa's dead?"

The doctor is floored. "You're 80 years old, your father is 100 years old, and your GRAND-father's still living? How old is he?"

"He's 118 years old. Last week, as a matter of fact."

The doctor, by now, is a little frustrated and says, "And I suppose he went golfing with you this morning, too?"

The old guy says, "No, Grandpa couldn't go this morning because he got married yesterday."

In amazement, the doctor says, "Got married?? Why would a 118-year old man want to get married?"

Replies the old guy, "Who said he wanted to?"

[selected from Ed Peacher's Laughter for a Saturday and Clean Hewmor; edited by Mark Raymond]


Spring is finally busting out all over here in Michigan, and the grass is turning as green as a banker's envy. We're in the midst of those famous "April showers," too. How can I tell? My roof started leaking right into our kitchen last night. Ugh.

I'll see you on Monday.



WEB SITE of the WEEK: I was just reflecting to myself the other day (didn't even have to use a mirror) that websites have become so passé. They are old and busted. Blogs (Web Logs) are the new hotness. And here's a blog you might want to bookmark, if only for today's selection of 50 Things You Can Do With Tennis Balls at I cut that address down for you. The original link was 96 characters long and wouldn't have fit all on one line. My wife has got me into leaning against a wall with a tennis ball between you and your back and moving around a bit to do a self-massage for aching muscles. Works quite well.


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 at Mark's web site. (Please, I need the money to get help so I stop talking about Mark in the third person.) To contact Mark, click here. To warm up your feet, put on a hat. You can forward or reprint "Mark's Musings" freely but please keep the credits attached. Removing the credits is not healthy, nor is it kind. Original material and commentary © 2008 by Mark Raymond. This includes the fine print you're reading now. I update this 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. Anybody know a good roofer?


WORDS for YOUR WEEKEND: "The trouble with always trying to preserve the health of the body is that it is so difficult to do without destroying the health of the mind." (G.K. Chesterton)

Thursday, April 10, 2008


Rube Goldberg was born in 1883 and over the next 87 years became an inventor, sculptor, author, engineer, and is most well-known for his work as a cartoonist. One of his most favorite cartoon characters was Professor Lucifer Gorgonzola Butts, who was usually drawn demonstrating his latest "invention" that would achieve a simple task through the use of very complicated machinery.

These machines, in fact, became known eponymously as "Rube Goldbergs"; a comic, complicated invention laboriously contrived to perform a simple operation.

There is even a website dedicated not only to his memory, but to hosting an annual "Rube Goldberg Contest" for high school and college engineering teams. Last week Purdue University won again for creating a machine that takes 156 steps to assemble a hamburger.

And you thought I was kidding.



"An inventor is a person who makes an ingenious arrangement of wheels, levers and springs, and believes it civilization." (Ambrose PIerce)

"To invent, you need a good imagination and a pile of junk." (Thomas Alva Edison)

"Inventing is a combination of brains and materials. The more brains you use, the less material you need." (Charles F. Kettering)

"The production of too many useful things results in too many useless people." (Karl Marx)

"Name the greatest of all inventors: By Accident." (Mark Twain)

"Without question, the greatest invention in the history of mankind is beer. Oh, I grant you that the wheel was also a fine invention, but the wheel does not go nearly as well with pizza." (Dave Barry)

"Discovery consists of seeing what everyone else has seen and thinking what no one else has thought." (Albert Gyorgyi)

"The true creator is necessity, who is the mother of our invention." (Plato)

"Necessity is the mother of invention, it is true, but its father is creativity, and knowledge is the midwife." (Jonathan Schattke)

[selected from several websites around the 'Net]


WISDOM for YOUR WEEK: "Commit to the Lord whatever you do, and your plans will succeed." (Proverbs 16:3)


Mark's Musings is available via email each weekday for free and while it's nothing new under the sun, you can get your very own subscription here.

Wednesday, April 09, 2008

Midweek Meditations

There are more than 40,000 unnamed bodies buried in the U.S. Another 100,000 are listed as missing.

These "John and Jane Doe" bodies are not without friends, however. There is a whole "Doe Network" of people logging onto the Internet every evening and using their spare time to search through law enforcement databases, library records, police reports, and photographs, trying to find some way to match a face with a name and give some loved ones closure.

If you're looking for something to do with the Internet other than play the latest game, you can join the Doe Network, too. Read more about it and the reason people join here.



Down, down, down into the darkness of the grave
Gently they go, the beautiful, the tender, the kind;
Quietly they go, the intelligent, the witty, the brave.
I know. But I do not approve. And I am not resigned.
-- Edna St. Vincent Millay

The opposite of love is not hate, it's indifference.
The opposite of art is not ugliness, it's indifference.
The opposite of faith is not heresy, it's indifference.
And the opposite of life is not death, it's indifference.
-- Elie Wiesel

I wanted a perfect ending. Now I've learned, the hard way, that some poems don't rhyme, and some stories don't have a clear beginning, middle, and end. Life is about not knowing, having to change, taking the moment and making the best of it, without knowing what's going to happen next. Delicious Ambiguity.
-- Gilda Radner

Dying is a very dull, dreary affair. And my advice to you is to have nothing whatever to do with it.
-- W. Somerset Maugham

If my doctor told me I had only six minutes to live, I wouldn't brood. I'd type a little faster.
-- Isaac Asimov

There are never any endings; only beginnings in disguise.
-- Mark Raymond

[selected from; except for the last one, of course, written by yours truly]


WONDER for YOUR WEEK: When agnostics die, do they go to the Great Perhaps?


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Tuesday, April 08, 2008

Crossword Puzzle

I love working crossword puzzles. They keep my brain sharp and the ones with good clues force me to think in new ways and see things from different perspectives.

The crossword puzzle began in 1913, when Arthur Wynne was trying to think up new word games for the entertainment page of the Christmas edition of New York World magazine. It was a variation on a game called "word squares" his grandfather had taught him, where each word in the puzzle had to read the same both vertically and horizontally. Wynne originally called the game "Word-Cross" but a month later typesetters accidentally reversed the words in the title and the new version stuck.

The puzzles were popular, but magazine and newspaper editors hated them. They were difficult to print and easy to make errors in the fine-print clue section, so for the next ten years, if you wanted to work a crossword puzzle, you had to buy New York World. Then, in 1924, a young Columbia University graduate named Richard Simon had dinner at his aunt's house and his aunt asked him where she could buy a book of crossword puzzles for her daughter.

The answer was that she couldn't. No book existed. Simon, however, at that time was trying to break into the publishing business with college chum M. Lincoln Shuster. They went to the offices of New York World magazine and paid them $25 apiece for their most popular crossword puzzles, then spent the rest of their money publishing them in book form.

By the end of the year more than 300,000 copies had been sold, and Simon & Shuster had become a major publishing company. Today they are the largest publishing house in the United States and second largest in the world. All because of the humble crossword puzzle.

You can see (and try your hand at) the world's first crossword puzzle here.



Don't force things to fit together. If it's meant to be, it will come naturally.

Be sure to look at the big picture every so often.

Perseverance pays off.

When one spot stops working, move to another.

Working together with friends and family makes any task fun.

Establish your boundaries first.

Take time often to celebrate little successes.

Anything worth doing takes time and effort.

When you reach the last piece, don't be sad. Rejoice in the masterpiece you've created!

[written in 2001 by Jacquie Sewell; permission is granted to forward but not for commercial purposes. Thanks to Mikey's Funnies. Edited and abridged by Mark Raymond]


WORDS for YOUR WEEK: "Understanding is knowing what to do; wisdom is knowing what to do next; virtue is actually doing it." (Tristan Gulberd)


What's twelve letters, begins with "S" and you can get your own for free by clicking here? It's delivered every weekday via email.

Monday, April 07, 2008


I woke up with a painful, throbbing headache this morning, so this old column by Bruce Cameron seems appropriate.



When the alarm clock sounds you realize you were born too long ago to get out of bed. You listen to the radio, hoping to hear that the universe came to an end last night and work is canceled. Someone has set the gravity in your bedroom to "overload." You do not feel like singing in the shower. Or soaping. The weary face staring back at you in the mirror looks familiar: it's Bob Dole.

You go to breakfast determined to eat a nutritious meal but find yourself wavering between cold pizza and chocolate cake. A note from your daughter contains a threat to sue you for back allowance. Your dog has chewed your dress shoes; you decide this doesn't really matter. The front door seems too far away to bother. You wonder if you can make your voice hoarse enough to call in sick. Your daughter shrieks that her parakeet has escaped again. This puts the cat in a festive mood.

The newspaper was apparently delivered by a confetti service, and you need a rake to gather it up. A cursory examination of today's headlines reveals that the world is still going to hell in a handbasket.

The reason you get up this early is to beat the rush hour. It looks as though everyone else in your city had the same idea. You sit in a sea of red tail lights while the morning DJ advises you that every highway is gridlocked and you'll have to wait until they build a road to your location to be evacuated. He sounds pretty cheerful, up in that helicopter, and you regret your lack of surface-to-air missiles.

You remember reading somewhere that the earth is pelted with over a thousand meteors a day. Once again, they've failed to hit your office building. Past or present employees of the month get to park in the covered lot. Everyone else in the company has won this award but you; this reminds you of the time you were the only person on the ballot and were still beaten by "undecided." The holes your dog left in your shoes allows the slush to wash in and bathe your toes.

The security guard doesn't recognize you and insists on doing a cavity search. The coffee tastes like they've found another application for petroleum by-products. There are free bagels this morning, but the only flavors left are "carp" and "oak."

Over the weekend they re-stacked the furniture to increase seating density. You now have a roommate in your cubicle. "Just call me Crazy Lou," he introduces himself. He apologizes for the way he smells. He confides that he is surprised that they gave him a roommate after what he "did to the last one." Later you watch him hold his fist to the side of his head, muttering, "Stop talking. Everyone stop TALKING."

Your phone rings and it's your boss, congratulating you on another anniversary with the company and would you come up to his office and oh, by the way, pack up all your things first. When you get there he explains that under the latest restructuring you'll be reporting to the third floor janitor. Your new job title is "Scum." You think it's about time you got promoted. Normally the boss would take you to lunch, but he says he can't stand to look at you. He gives you a free carp bagel and asks that you eat it outside.

You step outdoors to eat the bagel with the smokers, but they point to a sign that says, "no bottom-feeding fish within 500 yards of this facility." By the time you trudge the 500 yards you're up against another building with the same sign. Soon you're in the next county, where you throw the bagel into a dumpster. A man living in the dumpster throws it back.

Back at your office, you discover you've left your ID badge inside. The security guard refuses to acknowledge your presence, so after awhile you decide to give up and just go home.

Only four more days of this until the weekend!

[written by W. Bruce Cameron; please keep his name attached to this. Tiny edits and some abridging for my post done by Mark Raymond]


WORD for YOUR WEEK: Let's do a corporate word this week. "Cingular" means something that encircles or surrounds. It's from the Latin "cingulum," which means "girdle." So the phone people are trying to tell you their service goes around the world, or maybe at least just around your personal world.


Mark's Musings is available via email each weekday and even though it's Monday, you can still get your own subscription for free simply by clicking here.

Friday, April 04, 2008

Intelligence Impairment

Well, some research by your fellow Mark's Musingites turned up the fact that the "human colony on Mars" idea from my Wednesday post was, indeed, an elaborate April Fool's Day prank by the owners of Google and Virgin Atlantic. Thanks to list member Matthew R. for looking into that initially.

So in "honor" of my not seeing through that...



A few hairs short of a wig.

Three feathers short of being fluffy.

The dip stick doesn't reach the oil.

Sharp as a bubble.

Nice toy -- no batteries.

Up the creek and the water's dried up.

A few quacks short of a duck.

A few peas shy of having a casserole.

A couple trucks short of a convoy.

An experiment in artificial stupidity.

An intellect rivaled only by garden tools.

As quick as a tortoise on Prozac.

Doesn't have all his dogs on one leash.

Doesn't have all the dots on her dice.

Forgot to pay the brain bill.

If brains were taxed, he'd get money back.

Couldn't tell which way an elevator was going if she had two guesses.

[inspired and selected from Mikey's Funnies with help from several websites; edits and rewrites by Mark Raymond]


My second league fantasy baseball draft is Sunday so once again I will be having a wonderful weekend! I'll see you on Monday.



WEB SITE of the WEEK: Bowline, Clove Hitch, Englishman's Bend, Lark's Head, Sheepshank. These are all names for different types of knots. Those of you who were - or still are - Boy Scouts may remember those names. You can visit and not only see all those knots, you can watch an easy to view animation on how to tie them. Because you never know when tying a good thumb knot may come in handy.


Mark's Musings is available via email each weekday and is a Habeas-certified spam free mailer. Subscribe, view past issues in the Archives, or help defray publishing costs - and yes, (sigh), *still* be the first to donate this year - at Mark's web site. To contact Mark, click here. To avoid dehydration, drink water (God's best invention). You can forward or reprint "Mark's Musings" freely but please keep the credits attached. Removing my credits is a sign of intelligence impairment. Original material and commentary © 2008 by Mark Raymond. This includes the fine print you're reading now. My personal mission statement is John 3:30. Play ball! Again!


WORDS for YOUR WEEKEND: "If the human brain were so simple that we could understand it, we would be so simple that we couldn't." (Emerson M. Pugh)

Thursday, April 03, 2008

Musician Acronyms

{Using best Irish tenor voice} "Oh, Danny Boy, the pipes ... the pipes are cal -- ling ..."

Every year in Edinburgh, Scotland, a "Pipefest" is held to celebrate traditional Scottish music. Hundreds of bagpipe players and drummers attend the event.

At the end of July in 2010, however, event organizers plan on going global. They hope to attract at least 12,000 bagpipe players from around the world to march in parades slated to start at 20-minute intervals in 70 cities around the planet. It is hoped at least 100 million will watch on television and it's all to raise awareness of Scottish music and, hopefully, raise hundreds of thousands of dollars for cancer charities in each country participating.

So that gives you about two years to perfect your bagpipe playing, less the time the neighbors have you in court over disturbing the peace.



PRINCE - Purple Rain Is Now Copyrighted Eternally

TOM WAITS - Tipsy Old Man Wandering Around In The Street

ASIA - All Show Incredible Aging

RINGO - Really In Need Of Gig. Offers?

YANNI - Yawn And Nighty-Night Inducer

PEARL JAM - Please Excuse Angst-Ridden Lamentations, Just Appreciate Music

CHER - Cheekbones, Hips, Everything Reconstructed

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


WISDOM for YOUR WEEK: "Let us come before him with thanksgiving and extol him with music and song." (Psalm 95:2)


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Wednesday, April 02, 2008

No Astronomer

Think Earth has about had the biscuit? Think that maybe it's time for "Plan B"?

The owners of Google and Virgin agree with you. They have created a cooperative venture company - called "Virgle" - to create and establish a human colony on the planet Mars.

Now, maybe it's all an elaborate April Fool's joke, but it sure looks like they're serious. They have a "100-Year Plan" and will start the project in earnest by 2014.

But you can see their plans and apply to be a part of the project right now.

{Note: further research from Mark's Musingites reveal that this was, indeed, a very elaborate April Fool's Day prank from Google and Virgin Atlantic. -- MR}



You think...

...Aurora Borealis is the stage name for an exotic dancer.

...Betelgeuse is the stuff that's hard to squeegee off the window of your car.

...A gaseous prominence is Rush Limbaugh.

...Light pollution is a few old beer cans in the yard.

...Pluto is Mickey's sidekick.

...The Northern Lights are a brand of cigarette.

...A Solar Corona is a warm Mexican beer.

...A neutron is a fig cookie.

...A light year is 12 months when you're short on cash.

...Solar wind is what Uncle Leo had after Thanksgiving last November.

[thanks to Andy Blackburn's collection from astronomy newsgroups]


WONDER for YOUR WEEK: If they find life on Mars, will it taste like chicken, too?


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Tuesday, April 01, 2008

Dog Show

April Fool's Day, 2008. A day that, for some reason, we have decided to dedicate to the playing of practical jokes, pranks, and general tomfoolery upon others.

I tried to get all the workers in my little unit to call in sick early this morning - we have an automated absence notification process - and then show up for work at our usual time, anyway. But no one wanted to play along, the sissies.


There once was a teacher - who went by the nickname, "Teach" - who also judged at dog shows in his spare time. He relates the story of Cathy, a woman who wanted to enter her dogs in the show, so she took them to obedience classes and spent months training them and grooming them.

Then, about a week before the show, she took her dogs to her sister's house while she watched her nieces and nephews for her sister, who had to go away for the weekend.

Well, the kids wound up teasing the dog mercilessly and consequently they forgot most of their training. Cathy, in desperation, decided to enter her sister's dogs into the show, who were reasonably well-behaved.

However, the judge wasn't fooled. At the end of the show he admonished Cathy, "You can't trick an old Teach with new dogs!"

[JokeMaster; edited by Mark Raymond]


WORDS for YOUR WEEK: "He who asks is a fool for five minutes, but he who does not ask is a fool forever." (Chinese Proverb)


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