Friday, May 30, 2008

More Heart Thoughts

Okay, then.

Well, sorry Mike B., but apparently you weren't exactly the *first* to discover those little tabs on the ends of the wrap boxes; my mail tells me that LOTS of people, indeed, knew about them. So my question is, how come none of you told me?? So there, Mike, we'll let you keep your "first." You were the first one who said anything to me about it. How's that?

Annnnnnnyway, list member Judy S. offers a helpful hint: keep your plastic wrap in the refrigerator and it won't stick to itself while you're trying to roll it out and cover your dish of leftovers.



There are only two kinds of secret: one is not worth keeping and the other is too good to keep.

Enjoy when you can. Endure when you must.

There is no way to make people like change. You can only help them feel less threatened by it.

Try to approach every problem with an open mind, not an open mouth.

Failure is merely the opportunity to begin again more intelligently.

Success seems to be largely a matter of hanging on after everyone else has let go.

The only thing worse than a hard heart is a soft head.

Tomorrow is the most hopeful thing in the world. It comes to us at midnight fresh and new and clean, with high hopes that we have learned something from yesterday.

Never judge a book by its cover or a person by his or her epitaph.

The error of youth is believing intelligence will substitute for experience. The folly of old age is believing experience is a good substitute for intelligence.

Humor is only tragedy, standing on its head with its pants torn.

[with thanks to Menard's and list member Cliff R.; heavy lifting in the editorial department by yours truly]


By the time most of you read this, I will have been on one of our local radio stations, talking about my band's big weekend. Saturday we play at a "Relay for Life" event in Imlay City, and Sunday we are the "warm-up" band for national Christian recording artist Mark Schultz. And somewhere in there my daughter marches in a parade for our local city's annual "Home Town Days" event. Carnival rides for everybody, and I'll see you on Monday.



WEB SITE of the WEEK: Since I'm a diabetic with a heart condition, chronic sinusitis, arthritis, and a hiatal hernia (man, getting old reeks), I take quite a few prescription drugs, as well as a good handful of vitamins. Well, at there's not only a bit of health and pharmaceutical news daily, there's also a handy "Check Interactions" feature where you can enter your list of drugs and see if they play well together or, more importantly, don't.


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 make each day a little sweeter, count each little thing that's going right in your life. You'll be amazed at how long the list can get. You can forward or reprint "Mark's Musings" freely but please keep the credits attached. Credit detachment is rude and marks you as a person with no integrity. Original material and commentary © 2008 by Mark Raymond. Even this paragraph of fine print. I update this blog with a copy of this post daily, and extra thoughts, videos, and the occasional other bit of stuff and nonsense on the weekends. My personal mission statement is John 3:30. When the big hand is on the three, and the little hand is on the six, it's time to stop working on the post and upload it, already.


WORDS for YOUR WEEKEND: "I've always thought that a big laugh is a really loud noise from the soul saying, 'Ain't that the truth.' " (Quincy Jones)

Thursday, May 29, 2008

Lonely Blog

If you'll allow me a personal digression and a note of explanation today....

So I was talking with my good friend Tim while we sipped on some coffee at a bookstore last week, and the conversation turned to my blog. I asked him if he'd read it lately, and he admitted that he had not, but raised the point that he did read my post every day, and isn't my blog just a mirror of my post?

The answer, for the most part, is "yes." I do that intentionally for several reasons: the first is the philosophical understanding that my post *is* my blog. A web log of my "travels through the World and the World Wide Web" as it says on my website. The second reason is to provide an easy place for you to find a post if your email client burps and you miss a day or two. The third reason is that it also gives me an outlet to be creative and perhaps a bit more personal with things now and again, mostly on the weekends.

The last reason is that eventually my subscriber base will grow to the point where it is no longer economically feasible for me to provide an email version of the post for free, and I won't ever charge for it or include ads. So at that point, I'll probably stop sending the post and just write the blog. Those of you truly interested in what I do can then come visit me here. Mirroring my daily post here now is my way of preparing for that move. But don't worry, going to a "blog-only" post is at least a year away, probably more.

But, to make a long story even longer, Tim did raise a good point. This blog contains an awful lot of material you may have already read just to get to the new posts that I put up on the weekends. So to make it easier to find that material, I went back through my 2008 "Mark's Musings" (when I began copying the email post into the blog), and added a "weekend" tag for things I posted on a Saturday or Sunday and never sent to you by email.

You'll have to scroll down a little to get there, but clicking on the "weekend" label over on the right will bring up just that new material. Anything published here before 2008 is *all* stuff you haven't seen before and is usually of a more personal nature.



Not even the "GoDaddy" girl can get people to visit your blog.

You've blogged about how to build a better mousetrap and the world is nowhere to be seen.

You posted, "Someone comment or I'll go on a hunger strike!" last Wednesday. You've lost twelve pounds already.

Every time you try to update your blog, your host server has a pop up box that asks, "Oh, what's the use?"

You have to wipe away cobwebs from all the corners of the blog before you can upload new material.

You've done everything but tell people how to build a nuclear bomb the size of a small suitcase and you STILL can't even get the government to eavesdrop on it.

All the tracking cookies have crumbled.

You can actually hear the echo as you type.

[Chris White's Top Five for the Internet with lots of additional material by Mark Raymond]


WISDOM for YOUR WEEK: "You yourselves are our letter, written on our hearts, known and read by everybody." (2 Corinthians 3:2)


Mark's Musings is also sent via email each weekday. If anyone is reading this, you can get your own subscription by clicking here.

Wednesday, May 28, 2008

Bad Cook

List member Mike B. has finally solved an annoying little problem that has plagued us for years. Years, I say!

You know those rolls of aluminum foil, or wax paper, or plastic wrap? How you struggle with them to get the foil/paper/plastic pulled out of the long square box evenly, only to have the whole cardboard roll come leaping out at you? Well, Mike discovered that at either end of the box, there is a cardboard tab you can push in that will hold the roll in place while you extract what you need.

How is it this was America's best-kept secret? My wife - who has been baking for more than two decades - had no knowledge of this little tab that would have come in so helpful on so many occasions. And being the natural skeptic I am, right after I read Mike's email I dashed down to my kitchen, pulled out a carton of aluminum foil ... and, yes! He's right! There's the tab!

Personally, I think Mike should be awarded something. Maybe a Nobel Peace Prize in Kitchen Engineering or something for this discovery, but hey, that's just me.



More signs you may be a bad cook...

Your kitchen's been on fire more than once.

You have the fire department on speed dial.

Your apple pie bubbled over and ate through your heating element.

Your homemade bread is used as a door stop.

Leftover crumbs can be used as kitty litter replacement.

You forgot that you left a gallon of your homemade ice cream on the porch during a record-setting heat wave and the next day not only was it still solid, but it tasted better.

The EPA requires you to put biohazard symbols on your trash cans.

Your family buys Alka Seltzer and Pepto Bismol in bulk.

Your microwave display says "TILT."

Your two best recipes are meatloaf and apple pie, but no one can tell which is which.

Your family heads to the dining room table every time they hear a fire engine siren.

You've used a drill and a crowbar, and *still* can't get the macaroni and cheese out of the pan.

Your family prays AFTER the meal.

[thanks to Pastor Tim's CleanLaughs with edits and rewrites by Mark Raymond]


WONDER for YOUR WEEK: Can they make just regular toast in France?


Mark's Musings is also sent via email each weekday. Bake up your own subscription for free by clicking here.

Tuesday, May 27, 2008

Medical Quips

I think this whole HIPAA thing has gone too far.

HIPAA stands for the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act and is supposed to, among other things, protect your privacy when it comes to health care information.

I can assure you that when I recently ordered some pharmaceutical refills online, my right to privacy was *certainly* protected. Here's a bit of the confirmation email my drugstore sent me:

"The following refills have been sent to the {store name} that you selected, along with your preferred pick-up date and time:

Patient Name: ********
Rx ******** ********
Rx ******** ********
Rx ******** ********
Rx ******** ********
Rx ******** ********
Rx ******** ********
Rx ******** ********

Store Location:
********, ********

Pick-up Date and Time:
Friday May 23, 2008 at 8:00 pm"

It's a shame none of those pills will give me ESP.



We've reached the point where now 4 out of 5 doctors recommend another doctor.

I'm amazed at the progress science is making in cancer research. Every day it seems they discover something else that causes it.

My wife takes so many iron tablets the only time she feels good is when she's facing magnetic north. The kids have started arguing over her mineral rights.

Miracle Drug: anything a child will take without screaming.

Hospital bills are now divided into parts and labor.

If laughter really was the best medicine, HMOs would find a way to charge for it.

Virus is a Latin word that means "your guess is as good as mine."

The folks at Hallmark have made get-well cards so much fun to read, people are trying to get sick!

Penicillin has been called a wonder drug. Because anytime a doctor wonders what you have, that's what you get.

I saw a new side effect warning for the latest drug on the market: bankruptcy.

[surgically removed from]


WORDS for YOUR WEEK: "Medicine is the only profession that labors incessantly to destroy the reason for its own existence." (James Bryce)


Mark's Musings is also sent via email each weekday. Turn your head and click to get your very own subscription here.

Monday, May 26, 2008

School Report

Here in the States it's Memorial Day, 2008.

Hey, that's a staged patriotic photo that you may never have seen before.

What is unique about this photo is that it is made up entirely of people. Soldiers from Camp Dodge, in Iowa, during the summer of 1918.

Photographers Arthur Mole and John Thomas actually created many photos of this nature, all with only people forming the shapes, from 1915 to 1920. You can find a much larger gallery here.


Our 13-year old daughter, Melanie, had to write a report for school about World War II, specifically about D-Day and the invasion of Normandy.

Not thrilled at the prospect of reading a lot of material, she moaned, "Isn't there a movie about this?"

I told her there were probably several, but I couldn't think of any of their names.

Then her face brightened and she exclaimed, "Oh! I remember one of them! Wasn't it called 'Finding Private Nemo'?"

[Top Greetings via Wit and Wisdom, with edits by Mark Raymond]


WORD for YOUR WEEK: So my wife wanted to know where the phrase, "let's blow this popsicle stand" originated. Let's start with that word, "popsicle." The sweet, icy treat was invented in San Francisco in 1924 and the word is believed to be a combination of lollipop and icicle. The word "blow" in the sense of "to leave an undesirable location" is much more vague and hard to pinpoint, with some references dating back to sailor's use of language in the late 1500s. There is some evidence to the phrase being used by teenagers at soda shops (they were heard to exclaim, "let's blow this pop stand") and the phrase may have been adopted after the soda shops began selling popsicles. But, in the end, I'm sorry, honey, I'm not exactly sure.


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

Friday, May 23, 2008

Bad Prom Date

If only your daughter was this thrifty, eh?

Vanessa Randall, who lives in Wayne, Maine (and hey, that's just fun to say), started to make her prom dress three years ago. But not from duct tape, as so many others have done, oh, no, that's passé. Vanessa used gum wrappers. Seriously.

Okay, okay, the wrappers were sewn onto a layer of duct tape, so once again that ubiquitous material surfaces, but it was still a pretty nifty idea. There's a picture of Vanessa just to the right, there. I wonder if she needed deodorant? Wouldn't she already smell all minty fresh and wintergreeny?



10. You have to leave early because his Dad needs the ice cream truck back.

9. She stuffed Kleenex® into her bra but didn't take them out of the box first.

8. Tinting the windows of the family station wagon does *not* make it a limo.

7. Her dress was strapless. She wore the corsage, anyway. Pinned to her skin.

6. You hear him boast, "My grandfather was buried in this tux."

5. Your Mom says you look like a fairy tale couple. Your friends say it's "Beauty and the Beast."

4. His boutonnière is a sprig of parsley from the baked potato he had at the restaurant.

3. When the chaperones aren't looking, he spikes the punch ... with more punch.

2. You hear the principal ask your date, "Mary, didn't you graduate more than thirty years ago?"


1. Three words: Darth Maul makeup.

[with thanks to David Letterman's staff and their Top Ten List; family-friendly edits and additional material by Mark Raymond]


For most of us in the States, this is a three-day weekend and the unofficial start of summer. Gosh, it's been so cool and cloudy this May, that'll be a relief! Hey, I'll see you on Monday.



WEB SITE of the WEEK: According to the folks at Creative Commons, What's Next and Future Shock, we are in the midst of a century of incredibly rapid cultural and technological change where much of what we know will be extinct and out-of-use by 2050. Check out the timeline at There's a disclaimer that says "not to be taken too seriously" but it's still fun to look at some of the items. My own prediction is that watches and televisions will be the next pieces of tech to go belly up or morph into something else.


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 ascertain whether or not you should pass the vehicle in front of you, first ask yourself, "Do I really need to?". You can forward or reprint "Mark's Musings" freely but please keep the credits attached. The credits sometimes sleep in, but don't penalize them for that by leaving without them. Original material and commentary © 2008 by Mark Raymond. Even this silly paragraph. I update this blog with a copy of this post daily, and extra thoughts, videos, and the occasional other bit of stuff and nonsense on the weekends. My personal mission statement is John 3:30. Insert non-sequitir here.


WORDS for YOUR WEEKEND: "Never judge a book by its movie." (J.W. Eagan)

Thursday, May 22, 2008

Window Promise

Say what?

A simple accounting change in the way state and federal governments have to report debt have now pegged the United States deficit at somewhere in the vicinity of $62 TRILLION. The culprit, we are told, is the "mushrooming cost of Medicare and Social Security benefits as more baby boomers reach retirement."

That means each and every American homeowner is on the hook for $531,472 as our share of that national debt. Wow. Better think about refinancing. Again.

But there is good news. Economist Dean Baker says in that same article that all we have to do is fix healthcare and depend on our kids to generate more wealth than ever before, and all will be fine.

Ulp. I think my retirement date just wiggled another few years farther away....


Ten months ago a homeowner replaced all the windows in the family home with the very expensive double-insulated energy-efficient easy- cleaning vinyl windows sold through a telemarketer.

Last week the homeowner received a call from the local company that had installed them, explaining that the work had been done nearly a year ago, and they still had not been paid.

"You need to wait a couple more months," the homeowner explained.

"Why?" asked the caller. "What will be different in two months?"

"Now, don't think I don't remember what you told me when I bought them," said the homeowner. "Your salesman clearly said these windows would pay for themselves in a year!"

[originally seen in Net 153s Smile A Day]


WISDOM for YOUR WEEK: "I will listen to what God the Lord will say; he promises peace to his people, his saints -- but let them not return to folly." (Psalm 85:8)


Mark's Musings is sent via email each weekday. Seize this window of opportunity and get your very own subscription for free here!

Wednesday, May 21, 2008

Coffee Addiction

Ah, the blessed bean.

Calling it a "safe drug," researchers at the University of North Dakota have recently concluded that coffee is an effective inhibitor of your brain's absorption of cholesterol (and other harmful things in your blood), and plays an important part in reducing your risk of dementia.

Just one more reason to smile as you sip.



You may be too addicted to coffee if... grind the beans yourself. With your mouth. can sleep with your eyes open. can take a picture of yourself from ten feet away without using the timer.'ve worn out your third pair of tennis shoes. This week.

...when the cafeteria blender broke, the kitchen ladies withheld coffee from you for an hour, and then used your fingers to make the smoothies. do ten miles on your treadmill before you realize it's not plugged in. have a picture of your coffee mug. On your coffee mug. short out motion detectors.

...your nervous twitch registers on the Richter Scale. can ski uphill.

[seen all over; too many sources to attempt to give credit, but I did do some editing and add some original material]


WONDER for YOUR WEEK: If your coffee cup had something else in it, could you still call it a coffee cup?


Mark's Musings is also sent each weekday via email. Brew up your own subscription for free by clicking here.

Tuesday, May 20, 2008

Imported Cookies

When it comes to cookies, my favorite are the chocolate chip ones my wife bakes, with her special "secret ingredient" that keeps them soft and chewy well beyond the norm. Next up would be the "no bakes" my friend Larry makes and sells at his deli. But ranking a very close third would be the "Double-Stuf" Oreo® cookie, made by Nabisco. (Which, for you trivia people, stands for National Biscuit Company.)

Well, if only I had been on Interstate 80 in the wee hours of Monday morning ... I could have eaten those delicious cookies to my heart's content. A truck carrying 14 tons - 14 tons! - slipped into the median when the driver fell asleep, overturning, and spilled them across both sections of the highway. That's about 28,000 pounds of cookie goodness. No injuries were mentioned in the news account, so we'll assume the driver is okay. If only a milk truck had been nearby....

Ah well, that's the way the cookies crumbles, I guess. (Weak ending, I know. Tell me what *you* would have said....)


Since I'm stationed at a base in Korea, my family must stay in the States, but they continually send "care" packages through the mail. On each package they have to apply a customs form listing the contents inside and their value.

On one such box from home, the words "homemade chocolate chip cookies" were listed. Next to those words, in the value column, my wife had written, "Priceless."

[America in Uniform, thanks to Ed Peacher's Raucous Laughter]


WORDS for YOUR WEEK: "There is no love sincerer than the love of food." (George Bernard Shaw)


Mark's Musings is also sent via email each weekday. Dunk this post in milk and then chew your own subscription by clicking here.

Monday, May 19, 2008

Monday Groaners

Long, busy weekend that plumb tuckered me out, folks.

So that means just a few groaners to get me through Monday and I'll be back with your regularly scheduled tidbits and musings the rest of the week. I promise.



Lots of cheese I did melt, I'm ruing it.
I was told I should start in to chewing it.
Though I made quite a mess,
I'll gladly confess,
I really did have fonduing it.

I heard a story about a dog who ran two miles just to pick up a stick, but I didn't believe it. It was too far-fetched.

If a poet edits his own work, is he reversing himself?

The people who ran the Roman Coliseum just couldn't make any money. The lions kept eating all the prophets.

What we really need in this country is a political party for janitors so we can have some sweeping reforms.

If Shakespeare had written the "Hokey Pokey":
O proud left foot, that ventures quick within
Then soon upon a backward journey lithe.
Anon, once more the gesture, then begin:
Command sinsistral pedestal to writhe.
Commence thou then the fervid Hokey-Poke,
Mad gyration, hips in wanton swirl.
To spin! A wild release from Heaven's yoke.
Blessed dervish! Surely canst go, girl.
The Hoke, the Poke -- banish now thy doubt.
Verily, I say, 'tis what it's all about.

[JokeMaster with edits and additional material by Mark Raymond]


WORD for YOUR WEEK: Where did we get the word "boondocks"? From the Philippine people near the end of World War II. American soldiers returning from the war brought the word back with them. In the Philippines, "bundok" means "mountain" in the sense of something wild and untamed. We adopted it to mean any remote place far from civilization.


Mark's Musings is also sent via email each weekday. Get your own subscription for free without having to even leave your chair by simply clicking here.

Saturday, May 17, 2008

Mark's Mail

Sometimes I receive emails from list members and friends that I'm just not sure what to do with, so I'm going to start periodically using them here in the blog on the weekends. As always, feel free to leave a comment and start a discussion thread about any of this stuff.

List member Dianne F., who apparently runs her own little list of material, sent me a link to a space slideshow with some pretty nice orchestrated music to go with it. You can find it at:

List member Lloyd D. reminds us that the first moon landing used a telemetry computer that had less than half the computing power of the PC you're using to read this blog. The problem was that it just wasn't fast enough to handle the actual landing and the lunar module pilots had to handle the moon landing manually. If they had made any calculation mistakes, he says, we'd be talking about the MEN in the moon.

The Fisher Space Pen I posted about (see previous blog entries) is also a favorite of those in the frozen food industry, says Lloyd, for it's ability to write on any type of surface. And, he asks, did you know that Bic® pens are now made in France?

List member Carmencita A. from the Philippines read both posts on "You Know You're Getting Older When..." and finally wrote to me:
Sir Mark, as God's children we have the privilege of living beyond Time into Eternity, the kingdom life being far more wonderful beyond description. Hence, for the children of God in Jesus Christ, there is no such thing as becoming older, because - having received the Son - we are no longer living in Time but in Eternity.
Amen, Carmencita!

For my birthday, I treated myself to a new Palm Treo "Smartphone," so I wouldn't have to carry both a cell phone and a PDA (Personal Digital Assistant). The two are combined into one in that unit, and it's pretty cool. That evening, we went to Mongolian BBQ for dinner and the waitstaff made me a special hat for my birthday. I emailed myself the picture so it still counts as "Mark's Mail." Anyway, here's the pic from my new phone:

That's it for today ... keep those cards and letters coming, folks!

Friday, May 16, 2008

Post #200: Random Thoughts II

Part the Second

My lawyer told me that "ethics is just another name for nothing left to bill."

The beautiful thing about the two-party system is that it keeps 50% of the politicians out of office.

I need something to relieve stress. I asked my doctor to prescribe money.

My boss is able to see both sides of an issue. His side and the side that doesn't have a prayer.

If life is a game, just once I'd like to make the playoffs.

My wife is really into this "going green" stuff. She's started recycling arguments from earlier in our marriage.

I had a physical by one of those online doctors. He told me to turn my head and click.

It costs a lot to run a country. And it wouldn't really cost any less if we just let it walk.

I don't think my cell phone company is taking me seriously. The last time I called the voice menu said "this call may be recorded so we can play it back at company parties and have a really good laugh."

The other day my wife said she thought wrinkles add character to a person. Then she said she was going to live by this belief and stop ironing.

You know that weight I lost last summer? I think it picked up my trail, tracked me down, and ambushed me sometime this winter.

Calling a person the "runner-up" is just a polite way of saying you're the first loser.

The race is not always to the swift, nor the battle to the strong, but that's the way you should place your bets.

I diet religiously. I eat what I want and pray I don't gain weight.

You've watched "Star Wars" too many times if, while trying to capture that elusive last Cheerio in the bowl of milk, you hear yourself mumble, "the Force is strong with this one..."

[hijacked, handled, hauled, hooked, humbled, and hog-tied from Chris White's Top Five, Better Half, Randy Glasbergen, Hallmark's Maxine, Bob Thave, Menards, Nest Heads, Real Life Adventures, Mikey's Funnies, Colorado Comments, and the head of Mark Raymond]


Running a "mailbag" kind of post in my blog tomorrow, if anybody wants to stop by. If not, I'll see you on Monday.



WEB SITES of the WEEK: Microsoft's new "Worldwide Telescope" software at has been getting a lot of press lately. It's a free program you download that stitches together imagery from the Hubble Telescope as well as several earth-bound observatories to take you on a voyage through our solar system and beyond. It will only work with Windows XP and Vista, however, and it will take awhile to download if you use dialup. Another option would be to use Google's "Google Sky" platform at All you need for that is your web browser (Internet Explorer, Mozilla Firefox, or Apple's Safari, for example). Both programs will give you absolutely stunning views of God's handiwork in outer space.


Mark's Musings is also sent via email each weekday and 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 make a joyful noise, always sing as if you were in the shower. You can forward or reprint "Mark's Musings" freely but please keep the credits attached. The credits are never void and never prohibited. Original material and commentary © 2008 by Mark Raymond. Even this silly paragraph. My personal mission statement is John 3:30. Further up and further in!


WORDS for YOUR WEEKEND: "The best time to plant a tree is 20 years ago. The second best time is now." (African Proverb)

Thursday, May 15, 2008

Childish Defects

You've probably heard about this by now, and you may have even seen them on the Discovery Channel.

Michelle Duggar is pregnant. This is not news. It is her 18th child. That IS news.

No, that is not a typo. The Duggars will soon have eighteen (18) children. And every child's name begins with the letter "J." I know not why.

Here's a page of "fun facts" about this family. The one that blows me away is that they are debt-free.

I can't make this stuff up, folks.



"Unit experiences very unsafe wobbling when placed in upright position."

"Regardless of the time set, baby keeps going off at two o'clock in the morning!"

"Instead of cooling off, engine tends to overheat near bedtime."

"Mute button missing."

"Leaky O-Ring in rear exhaust port."

"Verbal commands seem to go in one aural input and out the other with no internal processing apparent."

"Controller for chores constantly overridden by video game controller."

"Unit has no common sense, which was clearly one of the original features requested!"

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


WISDOM for YOUR WEEK: "Honor your father and mother, so that you may live long in the land the Lord your God is giving you." (Exodus 20:12)


Mark's Musings is also sent via email each weekday. Kids, get your very own subscription for free here!

Wednesday, May 14, 2008

Space Pen

Now here's something I didn't know ... the Space Shuttle is rigged to be detonated by NASA within two minutes of lift-off if things start to go badly.

Seriously, explosives are attached to the two solid rocket boosters and if they should misfire and it appears that the shuttle will crash onto a populated area, an Air Force officer throws a couple of switches and, blammo, the whole thing goes up in smoke and hydrazine before it can cause a *really* major issue.

Now, if the shuttle goes off course AFTER the first two minutes but before it clears Earth's atmosphere, the crew gets a parachute and some rafts and, well, lots of prayer.

The shuttle Discovery is scheduled to go up tomorrow as I write this, but some online news sources are reporting there is at least a 50% change the launch will be delayed.



When NASA first started sending astronauts into space, they quickly discovered that existing ball point pens would not work in zero gravity conditions.

To combat this problem, the agency spent years and over a million dollars developing a pen that writes in zero gravity, upside-down, on almost any surface - including glass - and at temperatures ranging from below freezing to over 300 degrees Celsius.

The Russians used a pencil.


NASA originally used pencils in space, just as Soviet cosmonauts did. The problem, however, was that occasionally the lead would break and the bits of graphite would become hazards in the zero gravity environment. In July of 1965, Paul C. Fisher developed the first "pressurized pen" - completely on his own, NASA had never asked for his help or input - and in December of 1967, after two years of rigorous testing, he sold 400 pens to the Space Administration for $2.95 each. The "Fisher Space Pen" has been used by both Russia and the USA for manned space flights since then.

[first bit from urban legend; second bit from Snopes]


WONDER for YOUR WEEK: Could an astronaut be the luckiest person on Earth?


Mark's Musings is also sent via email each weekday. Your own subscription is available for free by clicking here.

Tuesday, May 13, 2008

Truck Repair

Wayne Gerdes drives a 2005 Honda and has figured out how to get nearly 50 miles per gallon from it with a technique he calls "hypermiling," which consists, among other things, of turning your engine off frequently and coasting ... even in traffic if the situation is right.

He's even created a website about the concept.

And here's the news story where I picked it up.


After I purchased my truck, I bought a book on gasoline engines so I wouldn't be ripped off at the repair shop.

When the truck finally needed some work, I smugly wrote down what the problem was and what needed to be fixed when I took it in for repairs.

That night after work, when I returned for the truck, I found this note attached to the steering wheel:

"I fixed what was wrong with your truck, but in order for me to fix the problem you described, you'll have to bring in your lawn mower. I suggest you re-read a couple of the chapters."

It was signed "Mike" and then, "P.S. - My wife has the same book."

[Clean Humor Digest with edits by Mark Raymond]


WORDS for YOUR WEEK: "When did the future switch from being a promise to being a threat?" (Chuck Palahniuk)


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Monday, May 12, 2008

Pizza Delivery

After college, Peter Bonham of Minneapolis, Minnesota was delivering pizzas to pay the bills. One Halloween night he bought a spandex body suit as part of his costume and thought, "if I deliver pizzas in this outfit, I bet my tips will go up."

They did. And that was the humble beginnings of his pizzeria, "Galactic Pizza." He has combined eco-friendly concepts with delivery people dressed as superheroes. And his restaurant is a hit. The pizza ingredients are organic, the kitchen machinery is driven by wind-power, and the "superheroes" deliver their pizzas in electric vehicles.

I put a video of the report by CNN below.


An American businessman is in Japan on a business trip, but he can't bring himself to sample the local cuisine, so he asks the concierge at his hotel if there's any place nearby to purchase American food. The concierge tells him he is in luck, there's a new pizza place just down the block, and they deliver. The businessman gets the number, returns to his room, and places his order.

A short time later there is a rap on his door and the pizza is here. Famished, the businessman takes the box from the delivery guy, throws open the lid and takes a big whiff, but then starts sneezing and choking.

He asks the delivery guy, "What did you put on this pizza??!"

The deliveryman bows deeply and says, "We put on pizza just what you order: 'pepper only.' "

[Net 153's Smile A Day]


WORD for YOUR WEEK: Occasionally a word in Latin survives intact even into the English language. One such word is "acumen," which is defined as sharpness, shrewdness, a quick, keen knowledge of things. In the original Latin, it means "the sharp point" and is usually applied to understanding of things. Its root word is "acuere," which means "to sharpen." It is also the root for the word "accurate."


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Sunday, May 11, 2008

In Honor of Mom

"What my mother believed about cooking was that if you worked hard and prospered, someone else would do it for you." (Nora Ephron)

"A mother understands what a child does not say." (Old Proverb)
A mother's arms are made of tenderness and children sleep soundly in them. (Victor Hugo)
"All the philosophy in our house is not in the study. A good deal is in the kitchen, where a fine old lady thinks high thoughts and does good deeds while she cooks and scrubs." (Louisa May Alcott)

"If evolution really works, how come mothers only have two hands?" (Milton Berle)
The heart of a mother is a deep abyss at the bottom of which you will always find forgiveness. (Honore de Balzac)

"By and large, mothers and housewives are the only workers who do not have regular time off. They are the vacationless class." (Anne Morrow Lindbergh)

"No matter how old a mother is, she watches her middle-aged children for signs of improvement." (Florida Scott-Maxwell)
Arthur: It's at times like these I wish I'd listened to my mother.
Ford: Why, what did she say?
Arthur: I don't know, I never listened.
(Douglas Adams, Hitchhikers Guide to the Galaxy)

"My mother said to me, 'If you become a soldier you'll be a general; if you become a monk you'll end up as the pope.' Instead, I became a painter and wound up as Picasso." (Pablo Picasso)

"Grown don't mean nothing to a mother. A child is a child. They get bigger, older, and grown. But in my heart it don't mean a thing." (Toni Morrison)
One moment a woman is pregnant and the next she is a mother, an instant novitiate in that secret society whose roll of membership is as long as time itself. (Molly McKaughan, The Biological Clock)

"You couldn't fool your mother on the most foolingest day of your life, even if you had an electrified fooling machine." (Homer Simpson)

{Selected from "Mothers Are Special" as compiled by Lucy Mead}

Friday, May 09, 2008

Getting Older, Part Two

First of all, my deepest thanks to everyone who wrote with kind thoughts, e-prayers, and well wishes for my ordeal yesterday. Everything went well and I recovered easier and faster than I had the first time. My doctor did remove several more polyps for biopsy, but that's pretty routine. I'll keep you posted.

Now, we have reached that part of the calendar known in our household as "how fast can we drain our bank accounts weekend." Today is my son's 21st birthday, tomorrow I turn about three decades older, and Sunday is Mother's Day.

My daughter feels so left out.

But this whole "getting older" theme can wrap itself up today, as I present Part Two of your splendid contributions....


Part the Last

...all those years of health insurance premium investments are starting to pay off. hurts to stare directly at the moon. wake up with that "morning after" feeling -- but you didn't do anything the night before.

...the wrinkles on your face outnumber the amount of years you've lived.

...people who call you at 9:00 p.m. ask, "Did I wake you?" no longer have the money to do all the things you were going to do "when you had the time."

...your idea of a night out is sitting on the patio. have to set your foot on the commode just to put on your socks.

...your grandkids look like they should be in middle school, yet here you are attending their college graduation. give up ALL your bad habits and you *still* don't feel good.

...the people behind the counter at the pharmacy don't even ask your name before handing you your medications. remember old radio shows better than the TV show you watched last week. And the radio show was better, by the way. get into a heated argument about pension plans. can remember when taking a vacation meant you were out of reach by telephone. can remember when Burma Shave signs were all the rage while driving down the road.

...the car that you bought brand new is now an antique. have no idea how, but you can remember entire days spent without "logging on."

...young women start opening doors for *you*. would rather go to work than stay home sick. get two invitations to go out on the same night and you pick the one that gets you home the earliest. can remember when soldiers were treated like heroes and people still stood and/or saluted the flag.

...a sweet young thing with a twinkle in her eye approaches and thoughts of romance flash through your brain until she says, "I'm doing an article for a college paper and I'm asking all the old people I see what their secret is for longevity." (True story, folks.)

[contributed by list members "sweetsinger1", Nancy M., Cliff R., Jerry T., Lloyd D., the last one by Mike B., and all pulled together by Mark Raymond]


Keep an eye on my blog this Sunday, as I'll be presenting a special Mother's Day Tribute there. And for those of you who only see me in email, I'll be back on Monday.



WEB SITE of the WEEK: Okay, if you're still struggling to come up with a unique and yet not-too-costly gift for Mom, try There you'll find nearly 20 suggestions from Better Budgeting blog readers that shouldn't cost too much, though some of them look like they would take a little more planning than the day you have left.


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 my web site. To contact Mark, click here. To live longer, "Rule of Thumb" says to be self-employed or live close to the area in which you grew up. You can forward or reprint "Mark's Musings" freely but please keep the credits attached. I don't take your credits off, please do me the same courtesy. Original material and commentary © 2008 by Mark Raymond. This includes what you're reading right now. I update this blog with a copy of this post daily, and extra thoughts, videos, and the occasional other bit of stuff and nonsense on the weekends. Especially this Sunday. Come back. See. (But wait until Sunday.) My personal mission statement is John 3:30. "He must increase, I must decrease."


WORDS for YOUR WEEKEND: "To keep the heart unwrinkled, to be hopeful, kindly, cheerful, reverent -- that is to triumph over old age." (Thomas Bailey Aldrich)

Thursday, May 08, 2008


Last year I turned 50 and with that came a special rite of passage: my first colonoscopy. I had that done last fall. My doctor removed several polyps and said he was so certain I had colon cancer he marked the spots with surgical ink so he could find them more easily when he went back for the surgery.

The good news is that the polyps turned out to be benign and I didn't have cancer. The bad news is that he wanted to do a follow-up colonoscopy in six months to confirm the original diagnosis.

That day is today.

So please have a good thought for me and I trust you'll understand why I was in no shape yesterday to find an interesting Internet diversion for today's post.


Hoping to get an emergency appointment with our pediatrician, I called his office.

"My son has a horrible earache," I told the nurse.

"Which ear?" she asked.

I called to Eric, "What ear is it?"

He replied, "2008!"

I got the appointment.

[Lenora Kater, Reader's Digest "Life in These United States"]


WISDOM for YOUR WEEK: "One thing God has spoken, two things have I heard: that you, O God, are strong, and that you, O Lord, are loving." (Psalm 62:11-12)


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Wednesday, May 07, 2008

Shakespeare Dogs

And continuing with animals this week, here's a product I just could not make up, suffers from an unfortunate name, and makes me wish I'd thought of it first.

You know how when you're out walking Rover (or Spot, or Fido, or whatever you call your dog), and he or she stops to "do a little business"? Well, the polite thing to do - and, indeed, in many places you'll break local ordinances if you don't - is pick up "the business" when your dog is done.

The makers of this product at one point said to themselves, "wouldn't this job be a lot easier if the poop was frozen solid?"

So they invented "Poop Freeze," an aerosol can of liquid coolant that chills your dog's waste to a negative 62 degrees within one minute. And it's yours for under $12.

And you thought I was kidding.



"All the world's a fire hydrant."

Hamlet's famous monologue stops at "Aye, there's the rub..." for a few seconds of hind leg vibrations.

Instead of "Out, damned spot," Macbeth would now say, "Good boy! Who's a good boy?!"

"Alas, poor Yorick! I knew him -- hey, come back here with that!"

Marc Antony may have come to bury Caesar, but you can bet somebody's going to dig him right back up again.

"The Taming of the Shrew" now involves a choke collar and a rolled-up newspaper.

"Something is rotten in the state of Denmark -- let's roll in it!"

[Chris White's Top Five on Pets with edits and additional material by Mark Raymond]


WONDER for YOUR WEEK: Do the poker playing dogs own pictures of people playing fetch?


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Tuesday, May 06, 2008

Fishing Terms

Sticking with an animal theme this week (so far, anyway) ... saying "fish are more intelligent than people give them credit for," Dr. Dean Pomerleau of Los Angeles has trained his goldfish to play soccer, rugby, football, and do the limbo. Under water, of course.

But that's hardly news. Gosh, my grandpa could have told you that fish were smart after an evening of trying to entice one onto a sharp hook on Lake Missaukee.

And hey, remember I'm running a second post of "You Know You're Getting Older When..." this Friday. So if you can finish that sentence with a humorous conclusion, please let me know soonest!



HOOK - (1) A curved piece of metal used to catch fish. (2) A clever advertisement used to lure a fisherman to spend his life's savings on fishing supplies. (3) The punch administered by said fisherman's wife after she learns what he spent their life's savings on. (Usually accompanied by word "right" or "left.")

LINE - Something you give your coworkers when they ask how your fishing trip went.

LURE - An object that dangles from the end of your fishing line and is supposed to encourage fish to bite it. It is the fisherman's equivalent of sports cards, comic books, buttons, lint, and other things you collect that generally have no purpose.

REEL - A weighted object that causes a rod to sink quickly when dropped overboard.

ROD - An attractively-painted length of fiberglass that keeps an angler from ever getting too close to a fish.

TACKLE - What your last catch did to you right after you brought him into the boat and right before he jumped back overboard.

TACKLE BOX - A box shaped alarmingly like a good first aid kit, only a tackle box carries an extremely large number of sharp objects, so that when you reach in blindly to grab an adhesive bandage, you soon find that you will need more than one.

TEST - (1) The amount of strength a fishing line afford an angler when fighting fish in a specific weight range. (2) A measure of your creativity when trying to come up with yet another explanation for why you have come home once again empty-handed.

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


WORDS for YOUR WEEK: "All the romance of trout fishing exists in the mind of the angler and is in no way shared by the fish." (Harold F. Blaisdell)


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

Monday, May 05, 2008

Horse Lessons

That, my friends, is truly a one-horsepower vehicle. The horse rides on a treadmill in the back, powering the vehicle and at the same time charging a battery that runs the vehicle when the horse gets tired.

It was built by a gentleman from Dubai, and will be showcased here in the States next month.

Just thought you'd enjoy seeing something truly unique to kick-start your Monday.



When in doubt, run far, far away.

Passing gas in public is completely natural.

New shoes are an absolute necessity every six weeks or so.

Everyone loves a good, wet, slobbery kiss.

Never run when you can jog. Never jog when you can walk. And never walk when you can stand still.

If you don't like someone, stomp hard on their foot.

When faced with a task you don't want to do, act dumb.

Love someone who will love you back, especially if they have treats.

[selected from the Ultimate Horse Site]


WORD for YOUR WEEK: "Iris" is one of those words that has many meanings in English. The two most common are 1) a flower and, 2) the colored ring around the pupil in your eye. The third, little known definition, is rainbow. An iris is also a rainbow. That definition, in fact, is where the word comes from. In the Greek pantheon of supernatural deities, Iris was the goddess of rainbows. The plural of iris is irises, or irides.


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Saturday, May 03, 2008

Sacrificial Sportsmanship

Well, this is just about the sweetest story I've heard in weeks.

Sara Tucholsky is a senior at Western Oregon University. She was in the batter's box for her team in their conference playoffs against Central Washington University. WOU was down by a score of 2-1, but two runners were on base. With one strike against her, the pitch comes in and Sara takes her best swing. The ball goes backbackbackback - way back - and gone! A home run that actually cleared the centerfield fence.

It was Sara's first home run. Ever. In her whole life. And it put her team ahead, 4-2.

In her excitement as she began rounding the bases, she missed tagging first base, but as she turned to go back, her knee buckled under her, tearing a ligament. She cried out in pain, and could barely crawl back to first base.

Now the coach has a dilemma. If any teammate touches her to help her make it around the bases, she's declared out. If the coach puts a pinch runner in for her, the home run is officially changed to a single.

That's when Mallory Holtman - the first baseman (basewoman?) - for Central Washington asked the umpire if her team could help Sara. The umpire couldn't find any rules against it, so Mallory and shortstop Liz Wallace linked arms and
carried Sara around the rest of the bases, pausing at each one so she could step on the base with her good leg.

There wasn't a dry eye in the park when she reached home plate.

They didn't know it was the only home run that Sara had ever hit, or ever will hit (she's a graduating senior), but they did know losing the game would knock them out of the playoffs.

They did it, anyway.

Just goes to prove it's what we do for others that makes the
really good memories.