Monday, June 30, 2008

Firemen Observations

It's the last day of June. Back in my younger years, I would always call someone at midnight today and wish them a Happy New Fiscal Year.

We're also halfway through the Major League Baseball season. How's your team doing? One of my fantasy teams seems to be on its way to first place while the other appears destined to finish dead last, which is something that's never happened to me in the 20 years I've been playing this game. I'm breaking into a cold sweat just thinking about it.

But on with the post. Here's something ironic from the Fire Fighting News folks: a truck in Lancaster Township, Pennsylvania caught fire this past weekend. The ironic part? It belonged to a company that specializes in fire safety and was full of fire extinguishers.




The size of a firefighter's eyes at a raging inferno is directly proportionate to the number of years he has been a firefighter.

Air goes in and out; blood goes round and round. Any variation on these themes is a bad thing.

When dealing with patients, supervisors, or members of the public, if it felt good saying it, it was probably the wrong thing to say.

If the child goes quiet, move faster.

Never get into a Fire Appliance with someone braver than you are.

A patient's weight is in direct proportion to their altitude in the building.

If you respond to a motor vehicle accident after midnight and don't find a drunk, keep looking. You've missed a patient.

Never get excited by the sight of blood unless it's your own.

People don't call for firemen because they did something right.

[selected from the Cheshire Volunteer Fire Department website with heavy editing by Mark Raymond]


WORD for YOUR WEEK: We've probably all heard someone say they had a "senior moment," where they've briefly forgotten something that turned into an embarrassing moment. It's a reference to the dementia that will sometimes tragically set in as our brains age. Well, now The Word Spy is coining the phrase, "Junior Moment," which they define as a momentary lapse into immaturity, nervousness, or a folly brought on by youth or inexperience. So there, balance has been restored in the world of behavioral adjectivology.


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Saturday, June 28, 2008

Best. Baseball. Catch. Ever. If Only.

One of my loyal list members sent me this video and since the College World Series just got done I made a foolish assumption and thought it was real, without doing my due diligence on the background.

It's an awesome video edit and wouldn't it be nice to think it really happened?

The reality is that it's just a Gatorade commercial.

Still, it's pretty fun to watch!

Friday, June 27, 2008

Rejection Letter

Three weeks ago I shared our family's joy over our son's college graduation. He's been looking for work in his chosen field for some time, now.

If anyone could use a Visual Basic programmer newly minted and fairly fluent in C++ and Java languages, please let us know. He's willing to move and work just about anywhere, and the kid's responsible. You have my word on that.

He's been on several interviews, and recently received his first rejection letter. We commiserated. You don't want to say anything stupid, you know, like, "Well, son, maybe you should frame it. It's the first of many." I think I prefer, instead, to offer up today's chuckle as a creative reply.



Dear [Interviewer's Name],

Thank you for your letter dated [date on original rejection letter].

After careful consideration, I regret to inform you that I am unable to accept your refusal to offer me employment with your firm. This year I have been particularly fortunate in receiving an unusually large number of rejection letters, and with such a varied and promising field of candidates, it is simply impossible for me to accept all refusals.

Despite your company's outstanding qualifications and previous experience in rejecting applicants, I find that your rejection does not meet with my needs at this time. Therefore, I will initiate employment with your firm on the first of the month. I look forward to seeing you then.

Best of luck in rejecting future candidates.


[Your Name]

[Mikey's Funnies]


This is the first weekend in just about two months in which we have no plans. We're hoping to get the garage cleaned out and some yard work done. So, of course, the forecast calls for rain.

I'll see you on Monday.



WEB SITE of the WEEK: Last Sunday I blogged -- well, spit, moaned, and whined, really - about all the data and programs I lost when the Operating System on my laptop became too corrupt to use and I had to wipe the hard drive and reinstall everything. It was a personal testimony and plea to the rest of the computing world to BACK UP YOUR DATA! Well, that post generated a couple of comments, and one of them sent me to Turns out there is a ton of online and offline solutions for backing up the data and applications on your PC or Mac. This website counts on its own staff and your own personal reviews of these solutions to rank your backup options.


Mark's Musings is a Habeas-certified spam free mailer. Subscribe, view past issues in the Archives, look at a few photos or help defray publishing costs at my web site. To contact Mark, click here. To see a pretty funny movie go watch "Get Smart." You can forward or reprint "Mark's Musings" freely but please keep the credits attached. The credits are innocent bystanders and don't deserve to be collateral damage when you pillage my post for the good stuff. Original material and commentary © 2008 by Mark Raymond. I update this blog with a copy of my email post daily, and extra thoughts, the occasional video, and other things that go bump in the night on the weekends. My personal mission statement is John 3:30. Swordfish!


WORDS for YOUR WEEKEND: "The most common error made in matters of appearance is the belief that one should disdain the superficial and let the true beauty of one's soul shine through. If there are places on your body where this is a possibility, you're not attractive. You are leaking." (Fran Lebowitz)

Thursday, June 26, 2008

Environmentalist Much?

I am not, by any stretch of the imagination, someone you would call a "tree-hugger." Ed Begley, Jr. would not have me on speed dial. I don't go out of my way to purchase organic foods or free-range chicken.

I do, however, believe in doing what we can, when we can, to make sure the world is still in pretty much the shape we found it in when we finally pass it on to our children. Even if it's just little things, like using recycled grocery bags at the store, washing out a bottle and putting it in the recycle bin instead of the trash bin, and buying materials made from recycled waste.

The folks at How Stuff Works have come up with Ten Things You Can Do To Help Save Earth that are really pretty easy and fall into the category of reduce, reuse, and recycle. It's worth a read.


Students at a school were asked to write about the harmful environmental effects of oil on fish. One 11-year old student wrote, "When my mom opened a tin of sardines last night, it was full of oil. All the sardines were dead."


A couple eating at a Chinese restaurant were just about to be delivered their food when an elderly waiter placed a set of chopsticks by their plates. The woman made a show of reaching into her purse and pulling out her own pair of chopsticks.

"As an environmentalist," she said haughtily, "I do not approve of destroying bamboo forests just to create disposable utensils."

The waiter asked if he could have a look at her personal chopsticks.

"Ah, these are very lovely," he said, politely, as he handed them back to her. "Ivory."

[Clean Laffs Joe, and AndyChaps The_Funnies]


WISDOM for YOUR WEEK: "The earth is the Lord's, and everything in it, the world, and all who live in it...." (Psalm 24:1)


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Wednesday, June 25, 2008

Rude Shopper

So let's say you're at a thrift store or even just a yard sale, and you're looking at an item, wondering if it's really a good value, or not so much. Well, now you can whip out your text message-enabled cell phone, address a message to "" and type in the product's UPC code, adding an asterisk (*) to the very end of the number.

Within two minutes you should receive a message in return that will show you two or three prices for that item available from online retailers for comparison shopping. And you can use it, of course, not just at thrift shops. I recently bought a paperback at Barnes and Noble for $6.99. If I'd used the "hunter" utility, I would have seen that I could have gotten the exact same book from for 75 cents. (Doesn't include shipping, of course, but with the price of gas these days, that could still turn out to be a better deal.)

If your phone doesn't carry text messaging as a feature, the website is here, and though only the first two weeks are free (with no obligation to continue after that point), the hunter utility and the forums - where you can discuss all things thrifty with other users - are always free.


A woman was waiting in the checkout lane at our local supermarket, her arms laden with a mop, a broom, several boxes of detergents and cleaners, and a few other cleaning supplies.

By her sighs and groans and caustic comments to others around her, it was obvious she was in a hurry and not at all happy about how slow the line seemed to be moving.

She finally reached the cashier and angrily dropped her items on the counter to be rung up. When the cashier needed to call for a price check on an unmarked box of soap, the woman had had enough. She rudely remarked, "Oh, c'mon! I'll be lucky to get out of here and home before the end of the year!"

But the clerk only smiled and, as he finished bagging up her supplies, said, "Don't you worry about getting home on time, ma'am. With that wind kicking up outside and that brand new broom you've got there, you'll be home in no time."

The rest of his customers burst into applause.

[selected from Net 153s Smile A Day with edits by Mark Raymond]


WONDER for YOUR WEEK: What happens when you go into a general store and ask for something specific?


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Tuesday, June 24, 2008

Second Job

While we're on the subject of Japan, let's talk about Nagi Noda.

The young lady is a 35-year old pop artist who dabbles in a wide range of artistic endeavors.

The one that caught my attention was her work known as "Hair Hats." The link takes you to a Flash photo, which I haven't got the software to reproduce for you. But if you click on each model, you'll see an enlarged photo that may make your jaw drop. Given Ms. Noda's talents, I don't think any of these where photoshopped, though that may be your first thought.

But you have to own a great deal of hair on your head and undoubtedly quite some patience if you want one.

And a high, high tolerance for hairspray. My goodness.


Many people hold down two jobs, so I wasn't surprised when my hairdresser mentioned to me that he also worked part-time at another location.

"Where else do you work?" I inquired.

"At the race track," he replied.

"Oh? What do you do there?"

As he finished a few styling flourishes, he said, "I groom horses."

[with thanks to Reader's Digest via Joe's Clean Laffs]


WORDS for YOUR WEEK: "Forget not that the earth delights to feel your bare feet and the winds long to play with your hair." (Kahlil Gibran)


Mark's Musings is also shampoo'd, dried, moussed, teased, and tangled via email each weekday. You can let your hair down with your very own subscription by clicking here.

Monday, June 23, 2008

Pregnant Men

Oh. Dear. This can't be good. It feels like the first step down a ver-r-ry slippery slope.

Japan, according to Reuters News, has created a robot "girlfriend" for lonely men.



Choice of delivery/recovery room decor would also include NFL, NBA, NASCAR, or Bass World.

Ultrasound monitors would come in HD plasma wide screen and 5.1 surround sound.

Planned Parenthood elevated to cabinet-level office.

Instead of worrying about month-to-month weight gain, it would become a competition to see who could add the most.

The American Medical Association would pressure Congress to require that prenatal vitamins be added to Doritos, Oreos, and Beer.

Men would have the option of C-Sections finished up with baseball or football stitching.

Ads would say, "Please call your doctor if you experience labor pains lasting four hours or longer."

Delivery must be accomplished in thirty minutes or less, or the kid is free.

[selected, with family-friendly edits, from Chris White's Top Five on Medicine]


WORD for YOUR WEEK: My wife wanted to know about how the phrase "gave up the ghost" came to mean the death of something. We first have to understand that the very root of the word ghost began as "ghois" and meant something had excited and frightened you, in the sense of a supernatural being. Old English used the word "gast" in the sense of "soul, spirit, life, breath" and took some of the meaning from the Latin word "spiritus." The phrase was used at least as early as 1600, in the King James version of the Bible, in the book of Genesis, to describe someone dying. (Genesis 25:8 - "Then Abraham gave up the ghost, and died in a good old age..." KJV) In the sense that now we attribute human characteristics to just about any old thing, your car radio could "give up the ghost."


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Sunday, June 22, 2008

Back Up. Back Up! BACK UP!

Back up your computer data.

Do it now, I'll wait.






Good. I am learning this lesson the hard way. My laptop began having trouble some months ago. It wouldn't shut down properly. But hey, it still connected to the Internet and I could still get some work done.

Then it stopped connecting to any network except my in-home wireless network. Well, that was problematic but as long as it was able to get online at home, everyone in my family had a computer to use and all was right with the world. It wouldn't let me access the wireless software properties to fix anything and I knew one day I'd have to call Tech Support to get it fixed, but for some reason, I thought we'd just uninstall and reinstall the wi-fi software, and I'd be good to go.

So I continued not backing anything up.

This past week, my laptop stopped connecting to the Internet. And I still couldn't access my wireless software. And it still wouldn't shut down properly. So I finally made the call to Tech Support. But did I back anything up before that call?


92 minutes later, after completely wiping my hard drive and reinstalling the operating system, my laptop runs like the day I pulled it out of the box.

Unfortunately, that's what my hard drive looks like, too. So not only is all my data gone, but now I've got several hours of re-configuration and customizing to get it back to where I like it.

So the moral here is back up your computer, kids. At least once a week.

You can purchase several commercial products to do this: Norton's Ghost is one of the better ones. Or you can go to Mozy and backup your stuff to an online server, if it's not too private.

Go to school on your Uncle Mark and start backing up your data.

Again, do it today.

Friday, June 20, 2008

Astronomy Lesson

NASA intends to return to the Moon by the year 2020, and begin the process of setting up a human colony there.

But you can already purchase your own little chunk of lunar real estate, thanks to Lunar Embassy. They're also selling ".moon" and ".mars" domain names so you can be the first on your block to set up a web page on celestial servers not located here on Earth.



Q. What is a comet?
A. Comets have been described as dirty snowballs, snowy dirtballs, and everything in between. Comets are a cold mixture of frozen water, dry ice, and bits of dusty material left over from the formation of the solar system. They're like "cosmic refrigerators," keeping all those elements "on ice."

Q. What is the most famous comet?
A. Halley's Comet, of course. It returns to our solar system every 76 years, approximately. It came through in 1835, the year Mark Twain was born. Twain said he hoped to be alive when it came around again in 1910, and he was. He died the day after the comet reached perihelion. (The closest point to the sun an object will get.)

Q. What is an asteroid?
A. Asteroids are snowy dirtballs - without the snow. They're typically made of iron and nickel or just a stony blend of rock-like stuff. Most orbit the sun between Mars and Jupiter. Some say they are parts of planets that never formed, and some say they are parts of planets that formed, but broke apart later.

Q. What is a meteor?
A. Meteors are fragments that break off from both comets and asteroids and enter Earth's atmosphere. The intense heat generated by the friction of entering our atmosphere at high speed vaporizes most of them, and you'll see a "shooting star." Any bits that actually make it all the way to the ground are labeled meteors. The largest meteor ever found in the United States landed in a Nebraska wheat field and weighed 2,360 pounds.

Q. Has anyone ever been hit by a meteorite?
A. Yes, at least two. Annie Hodges of Sylacauga, Alabama, was napping on her couch on November 30, 1954, when an eight-pound meteorite crashed through the roof and hit her. Although her leg was badly bruised, she was more shocked than hurt. On June 21, 1994, Jose Martin and his wife, Vicenta Cors, were driving from Madrid to Marbella in Spain when a three-pound meteorite smashed through their windshield and broke the little finger on Martin's right hand.

Q. Has anyone ever been killed by a meteorite?
A. There is no recorded or proven case.

Q. How about hailstones?
A. Yes. In the Gopalganj region of Bangladesh in 1986, 92 people died after being hit by huge hailstones weighing more than two pounds.

[taken with my appreciation from Knowledge News]


Here's your mission for this weekend: Find a spot somewhere far away from city lights. The darker, the better. Bring a blanket and lay back on it, watching the sky. Just look at the stars. Within minutes, if not moments, you will see little streaks of light flash. They're so quick, you might think your eyes are playing tricks on you, but they're not. You're seeing meteors burn up as they fall through our atmosphere. On any given night, you can do this. The last time I did it I counted over 40 in less than an hour. Ah, good memories.

Hey, my band has another gig this weekend, so I've got to go practice. I'll see you on Monday.



WEB SITE of the WEEK: Keep the kids busy this summer by teaching them how to "finger knit." You can use your fingers to knit scarves, headbands, and a few other things without having to use knitting needles at all. Truly. See Just be sure the kiddies don't wrap the yarn too tightly and cut off their circulation.


Mark's Musings is a Habeas-certified spam free mailer. Subscribe, view past issues in the Archives, or help defray publishing costs at Mark's web site. To contact Mark, click here. To keep Mark's Musings ad free and give me a great big shot of encouragement, donate to the cause at my website. You can forward or reprint "Mark's Musings" freely but please keep the credits attached. I know some of you don't, and it hurts every time I see that. Original material and commentary © 2008 by Mark Raymond. This paragraph right here falls under the "commentary" part of that sentence. I update this blog with a copy of the post daily, and extra thoughts, the occasional video, and other things that go bump in the night on the weekends. My personal mission statement is John 3:30. Be careful gathering your perspective from the overhead bin as you leave the post, some shifting of brain cells may have occurred.


WORDS for YOUR WEEKEND: "Nothing we do changes the past; everything we do changes the future." (Source Unknown, and I spent quite some time looking.)

Thursday, June 19, 2008


I have to tip my hat to whomever came up with this idea: a fake bus stop outside a nursing home. Patients suffering from dementia, who wake up in a strange place and just want to go home, walk out the door - because, after all, they are not prisoners - and see the bus stop. They may not be able to remember who they are or what they had for breakfast, but they remember bus stops and what they are for and they sit right down and wait for the bus.

Kindly staff members invite them inside for a cup of coffee or tea while they wait and before they've finished, the elderly patient usually doesn't remember why they wanted to leave in the first place.

It's simple, and it's brilliant.


Because he's ridden a Harley his whole life, my grandfather looks at everything from a biker's perspective. I once gave him a haircut and got a little carried away, cutting it a bit short.

He looked at the pile of gray hair on the floor, smiled, and said, "You cut off all the chrome."

[Life in These United States, thanks to Reader's Digest]


WISDOM for YOUR WEEK: "The righteous will flourish like a palm tree ... they will flourish in the courts of our God. They will still bear fruit in old age, they will stay fresh and green, proclaiming 'The Lord is upright.' " (Psalm 92:12-15)


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Wednesday, June 18, 2008

DVD Warnings

The American Film Institute has done it again, coming up with their "Ten Top Ten" list. They've selected what are - in their humble opinion - the ten best movies across ten different genres: animated movies, romantic comedies, westerns, sports, mystery, fantasy, science fiction, gangster, courtroom drama, and "epics."

Check it out and see if you agree with their picks.



WARNING: This movie may contain bits and pieces of other movies.

WARNING: If you've seen the commercial for this movie, you've seen all the good parts.

WARNING: You may have seen this movie before, with a different name and different actors.

WARNING: Contains athlete attempting to act.

WARNING: This film takes a beloved franchise and runs it into the ground.

WARNING: Gives false hope that a beauty queen may fall in love with a nerd.

WARNING: Lack of plot, poor dialogue, and bad acting may cause drowsiness and irritability. If symptoms persist, consult your director.

[selected from Chris White's Top Five on Movies]


WONDER for YOUR WEEK: What law of physics allows someone in the movies to light a single match and light up a room the size of a football stadium?


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Tuesday, June 17, 2008

Imposing Figure

Hmmm. On one hand it's kind of funny, but on the other hand, here's more proof the world of fashion has hit a new low: high heel shoes for babies.

They're called "Heelarious" and the little stilettos come in pink, black, and leopard and zebra prints.

The company wants to emphasize that these are "crib shoes," not meant for actual walking. The heel collapses if any weight is put on it.

Just like my faith in the fashion industry.


Eight-and-a-half months along and *very* pregnant with twins, I was used to getting nervous glances from strangers when I ventured out into public, but I never realized just how imposing my figure was until my husband and I went out to dinner at a new restaurant in our area.

The hostess sat us at our table, took one long look at my stomach and asked, "Would you like me to get you a high chair, just in case?"

[with thanks to Wit and Wisdom, via Monday Fodder]


WORDS for YOUR WEEK: "Babies are such a nice way to start people." (Don Herrold)


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Monday, June 16, 2008


List member John L. lives in Cedar Rapids, Iowa. You may have read about the fact they're having a spot of trouble with a bit of water these days. And by "bit of water," I mean there were several Noah sightings this past week and a run on gopher wood at the local Home Depot.

It was my turn to lead our worship music at church yesterday and, coincidentally, just as John's email arrived, I was working on a song called "Kindness," by Chris Tomlin. The first verse:

Open up the skies of mercy
Rain down the cleansing flood
Healing waters rise around us
Hear our cries, Lord, let 'em rise...

Please join me in praying that the floodgates of God's mercy would open and fall upon the good people of Iowa, who desperately need some dry weather and solid relief.

In his email, John asked if I would offer a bit of inspiration in today's post. I don't know if there's a lot of motivational quotes on overcoming natural disasters, John, but there are certainly a gang of them on overcoming adversity. Here's a few to which your spirit can cling.



"I beg you, take courage; the brave soul can mend even disaster." (Catherine II)

"Every adversity, every failure, every heartache carries with it the seed of an equal or greater benefit." (Napoleon Hill)

"Calamity is the perfect glass wherein we truly see and know ourselves." (Sir William D'Avenant)

"The greater the difficulty, the more glory in surmounting it. Skillful pilots gain their reputation from storms and tempests." (Epictetus)

"Man's extremity is God's opportunity." (John Flavel)

"When any calamity has been suffered, the first thing to be remembered is how much has been escaped." (Samuel Johnson)

"Troubles are often the tools by which God fashions us for better things." (Henry Ward Beecher)

"Hope is the feeling we have that the feeling we have is not permanent." (Mignon McLaughlin)

"Never, never, never, never give up." (Winston Churchill)

[thanks to and several other quotation websites]


WORD for YOUR WEEK: We saw "The Hulk" this past weekend, which reminded me that movie critics are coining new words for these type of films. First we had sequels (second movie in the series, such as "Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom"), then prequels (such as the new Star Trek movie coming out next year, with a plot featuring the crew of the Enterprise that takes place *before* the television series timeline), then came threequels (the third movie in a series, such as "Shrek the Third"), and now we're getting "requels" which is a "re-imagining" of a character or movie that was recently done ("The Hulk" and "Batman Begins" from two years ago fall into this category).


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Sunday, June 15, 2008

A Tribute to Fathers

"I talk and talk and talk, and I haven't taught people in fifty years what my father taught me by example in one week." (Mario Cuomo)

"Every son, at some point, defies his father; fights him, departs from him, only to return to him - if he is lucky - closer and more secure than before." (Leonard Bernstein)

"This is Daddy's bedtime secret for today: Man is born broken. He lives by mending. The grace of God is glue." (Eugene O'Neill)
"My dad ... he'd try anything -- carpentry, electrical wiring, plumbing, roofing. From watching him, I learned a lesson that still applies to my life today: No matter how difficult a task may seem, if you're not afraid to try it ... you can do it. And when you're done, it will leak." (Dave Barry)
"It doesn't matter who my father was; it matters who I remember he was." (Anne Sexton)

"I cannot think of any need in childhood as strong as the need for a father's protection." (Sigmund Freud)
"When I was 7 or 8 years old we moved to our own house in a new neighborhood. I felt miserable, left without friends. It was around this time that my father started a new family tradition. He always arrived with a surprise in one of his hands - a roll of LifeSavers! It made me feel special and loved. Years later, when Dad died, I slipped into the funeral home and put a roll of LifeSavers in his hands. 'Thanks, Dad, you are special and loved.' " (Sandi, age 43)
"It's clear that most American children suffer too much mother and too little father." (Gloria Steinem)

"Papa believed the greatest sin of which we were capable was to go to bed at night as ignorant as we had been when we awoke that day." (Leo Buscaglia)
"...Dad, who was the finest human being I have ever known, but who had the hairstyling skills and fashion flair of a lathe operator -- cut my hair ... this meant that I spent my critical junior high school years underneath what looked like the pelt of some very sick rodent." (Dave Barry, again)
"Life doesn't come with an Instruction Book. That's why we have fathers." (H. Jackson Brown)

--Texts selected from "Fathers Are Special," compiled by Lucy Mead

I can remember the day - vaguely - that my father taught me to tie a Windsor Knot. I spent years practicing and now can get it almost every time on the first try. I also remember the day I tried to teach my son how to tie this knot. I think he decided to just buy clip-ons.....

Friday, June 13, 2008


If your flowers don't smell as sweet anymore, there's a good reason for it: air pollution.

Apparently the scent molecules in flowers bond with ozone pollutants, which destroy the aromatic effects.

As a result, the bee population is dropping, according to Live Science.

Hmmm, maybe that Jerry Seinfeld "Bee Movie" was on to something, after all. Could be time to watch it again on DVD.



"The best way to garden is to put on a wide-brimmed straw hat and some old clothes. And with a hoe in one hand and a cold drink in the other, tell somebody else where to dig." (Texas Bix Bender)

"My wife's a water sign. I'm an earth sign. We make mud." (Rodney Dangerfield)

Could you call a stolen yam a hot potato?

"A weed is a plant that has mastered every survival skill except for how to grow in rows." (Doug Larson)

God made rainy days so gardeners could get the housework done.

"Gardening requires lots of water - most of it in the form of perspiration." (Lou Erickson)


"A favorite of birds" - don't plant it anywhere near your car or clothesline.

"Grows more beautiful each year" - will look like road kill for the foreseeable future.

"Zone 5 with protection" - a variation on the phrase, "Russian Roulette".

"May require support" - your daughter's engineering degree will finally pay off.

"Moisture-loving" - plant only if you own a bog or a swamp.

"Carefree" - the plant's attitude, not your workload.

"Vigorous" - code for "the plant has a Napoleonic compulsion to take over your yard."

[selected from garden]


First of all, let me take this brief opportunity to apologize to all of Canada for my post on Wednesday. You're all wonderful people and even the restaurant manager at Nathaniel's was only doing his job, I suppose, despite its churlish appearance. (Look it up.) So, for the record, please forgive me.

Secondly, this weekend holds Father's Day among its pleasures, and normally today's post would have featured holiday-appropriate material. However, that didn't happen for Mother's Day so in the interest of fair play, I'm not letting it happen today, either. As there was in May, there will be a special quotations tribute to fathers on my blog this Sunday.

Finally, Graduation Open House Season is upon us and begins in earnest this weekend. So I'll see you later, I've got to go buy some cards and pull some crisp 20's out of the bank.

I'll see you on Monday.



WEB SITE of the WEEK: We recently - well, okay, it was about five months ago - rearranged our living room and went through our media library, finding many videos, DVDs, CDs, video games, and books we no longer wanted. The first thought that came to our mind was eBay, but now - five months later and still nothing put up on eBay - it may be time to look at There you list the media you no longer want, and make a list of the books/music/movies/games you *do* want. Then the site goes and finds you trading partners. If the two of you agree to a swap, the site will even allow you to print shipping labels and tell you how much postage you'll have to pay. The postage, by the way, is the only thing that isn't free.


Mark's Musings is a Habeas-certified spam free mailer. Subscribe, view past issues in the Archives, or help defray publishing costs at Mark's web site. To contact Mark, click here. To keep your winsome good looks, get plenty of sleep. Hey, maybe that's what happened to me.... You can forward or reprint "Mark's Musings" freely but please keep the credits attached. As always, credit detachment should only be done by a trained professional. Original material and commentary © 2008 by Mark Raymond. This paragraph right here falls under the "commentary" part of that sentence. My personal mission statement is John 3:30. Please do not leave your seat until the captain has finished docking the post.


WORDS for YOUR WEEKEND: "Criticism, like rain, should be gentle enough to nourish a man's growth without destroying his roots." (Frank A. Clark)

Thursday, June 12, 2008

Balloon Animals

I mentioned in last Friday's post that my son graduated this past weekend. His actual degree is an "Associate Degree in Applied Science, Computer Programming," and he graduated Magna Cum Laude. ("With High Honor" for those of us who may not be adept at Latin.)

While we, of course, feel he's something special, here are five "Average Joes" that found their way into the celebrity spotlight, according to Mental Floss Magazine.

The beauty of that is that, hey, you could be next!


I was at a circus festival and noticed a guy in bad clown makeup creating intricate balloon animals.

He was in the middle of twisting something together when a little girl asked, "What are you making?"

He sighed, and said, "Minimum wage."

[Life in These United States, thanks to Reader's Digest]


WISDOM for YOUR WEEK: "Enter through the narrow gate. For wide is the gate and broad is the road that leads to destruction, and many enter through it. But small is the gate and narrow the road that leads to life, and only a few find it." (Matthew 7:13-14)


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Wednesday, June 11, 2008

Canadian Tourism

I have quite a few readers from Canada on my list, so please forgive me for this, but: what's wrong with you people?!?

Stacey Fearnall raised money for a cancer charity by promising to shave her head if she reached a certain amount. She did, and she did.

But her employer, Nathaniel's restaurant in Owen Sound, said she had to take the summer off, until her hair grew back. They claimed that there were personal hygiene standards, including length of hair, for employees, and this was an "internal staff issue." The manager was also quoted in the Canadian Press as saying he's heard from many customers who would be "appalled" to be waited upon by Stacey.

Now, to be fair, many, many other Canadians were just as outraged as you probably feel right now. This has turned into quite a story in the Great White North. Read any of the entries Google found here.


Real Questions. Fake Answers.

Q. I have never seen it warm in Canada on television. How do they plants grow?
A. We import all plants fully grown and then just sit around, watching them die.

Q. Will I be able to see polar bears in the street?
A. Depends on how much you've been drinking.

Q. I want to walk from Vancouver to Toronto. Can I follow the railroad tracks?
A. Sure. It's 4,000 miles. Bring lots of water.

Q. Can you give me information on hippo racing in Canada?
A. Hippo...? We think you want the big triangle-shaped country south of Europe. It's called Afri---oh, forget it. Sure. We have them after every hockey game in Calgary.

Q. Do you have perfume in Canada?
A. Nope. We don't stink.

Q. I've developed a new fountain of youth drink. Can I sell it in Canada?
A. Certainly. Anywhere large numbers of Americans gather.

Q. Will I be able to speak English in most places I visit in Canada?
A. Only if you know it.

Q. Can you send me the Vienna Boys Choir schedule?
A. We think you want Austria, that quaint country bordering Germ---oh, forget it. Sure. They sing after every hockey game in Calgary. Right after the hippo races.

[Humor Section Blog; edits and rewrites by Mark Raymond]


WONDER for YOUR WEEK: Is it true they were originally going to call Canada the "Cold Northern Dominion" but decided to abbreviate it? (When asked to spell it, the scribe was told: C-eh? N-eh? D-eh?)


Mark's Musings is also sent each weekday via email and when you've finished frying that back bacon, scoop up your own subscription for free by clicking here.

Tuesday, June 10, 2008

Rejected Slogans

Wondering what to make for supper a night or two ago, my wife pulled some pork chops out of the refrigerator that she had frozen and then thawed. They were two days past their "sell by" date and starting to lose their color, so we decided it was best not to eat them.

But say, here's a gent that scoffs at expiration dates. Jonathan Maitland, writing for the U.K.'s "Mail Online" ate increasingly out-of-date food for two weeks as a way to draw attention to the amount of food England - and the world in general - throws out that is still perfectly good. I found it an interesting read.

But for most of us, I will echo the advice we received a long time ago from our local health department: when in doubt, throw it out.



McDonald's - Still The Best Choice When You Haven't Got Time for Anything Better!

Starbucks - Now with 0.9% Financing on a Tall Frappucino!

KFC - Open to Suggestions on Keeping the Word "Fried" Out of Our Name.

Burger King - Ask for it Your Way and Get it Any Way We Make it.

Jack-in-the-Box - We put the dot in E.Coli!

Wendy's - Hey, if Dave Didn't Care About His Cholesterol, Why Should You?

Taco Bell - Working Around the Clock to Invent New Ways to Combine the Same Five Ingredients.

[selected from e-cookbooks with additional material by Mark Raymond]


WORDS for YOUR WEEK: "It would be nice if the Food and Drug Administration stopped issuing warnings about toxic substances and just gave me the names of one or two things still safe to eat." (Robert Fuoss)


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Monday, June 09, 2008

Jet Fuel

So my wife and I are celebrating our 25th anniversary later this summer, and to celebrate I've booked a special vacation for us to a surprise destination. I celebrate today as I made the last payment on the trip this past week. Woo hoo!

For any of you planning on taking a trip this summer, you may want to check this entry from the "Dumb Little Man" blog.

It's a list of "Seven Websites You MUST Check Before You Go On A Vacation."


Bud and Jim were a couple of airline mechanics in Atlanta who enjoyed the occasional adult beverage together. One day the airport was fogged in and they found themselves stuck in a hangar with nothing to do. Bored, Bud says, "I wish there was something to drink around here."

Jim says, "Y'know, I heard that jet fuel has quite a kick. You want to try it?"

At this point Bud is so bored he'll try anything. So they pour a couple of glasses of high octane jet fuel and knock 'em back. Before you know it, the pair are completely intoxicated.

The next morning Jim wakes up and is surprised to find that he feels great! No hangover! No awful side effects. Just then his phone rings and it's Bud on the line.

Bud: How ya feelin', Jim?

Jim: Great! You?

Bud: I feel great, too! No hangover or anything!

Jim: I know!

Bud: Listen, Jim, you haven't, umm, passed gas yet, have you?

Jim: Nope.

Bud: Well, try not to. I did, and now I'm in Phoenix!



WORD for YOUR WEEK: Here's a fun one. The Word Spy has coined a new word for people who run around all the time: "hectivity." It's a mashup of "hectic" and "activity." Last week for me, as I think I've mentioned, was full of hectivity.


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Saturday, June 07, 2008

The 7 Stages of Fatigue

When I was in college, I was an idiot.

Well, more of an idiot than I am now, let us say.

During one summer off, I worked full time on third shift (11 p.m. to 7 a.m.) as a night auditor for a motel franchise in Kansas City, Missouri. When school started up again that autumn, I decided I liked the money a 40-hour a week job brought in, so I kept the night job while, at the same time, carrying a full load of classes. Bad choice. Baaaaaad choice.

I would, quite literally, get up on Sunday, enjoy the day, then go to work Sunday night. Due to my class and extracurricular activity schedule, I would not go back to bed until Tuesday morning. I'd get up Tuesday evening, and with work and school and social activity, not go back to bed until Friday morning. Then I would generally sleep pretty much until Sunday morning.

Idiocy in Action. These choices led to a catastrophic semester for me. My grade point average dropped from an A- to a C+ in just four months. That Christmas, I quit the job and focused on school.

This past week has reminded me of that time in my life. I have my hand in a lot of pies and during the past seven days they've all needed baking. I've had meetings before work, then a 10-hour day at work due to overtime issues, then a meeting after work. Then I'd stumble home, get ready for the next day's meetings, write the post, clear up some email issues, look in on the baseball world, and finally fall into bed between 2 and 3 a.m., get back up at 6:00 in the morning and do it all over again.

All of which has led me to the conclusion that there are seven stages of fatigue, which I should be quick to point out has no basis in actual science, they are simply my empirical observations based on my own idiotic choices.

Stage 1 - "Good Tired"
You've heard that expression, right? "I'm tired, but it's a good tired." This is the fatigue you feel after a long day where you've accomplished much and are feeling good about yourself and your work/project/home repair/whatever. It's a fatigue born of productivity and actually enhances your self-esteem.

Stage 2 - "Plumb Tuckered Out"
This is when you've worked a little too long past the stage where you should have stopped. You don't feel like cooking or going out or doing anything with friends. You pretty much just want to sit there and let your body recover. A good massage or foot rub is recommended. And then a decent night's sleep.

Stage 3 - "Bone Weary"
At this point, you just can't stop yawning. A headache is often your constant companion. You are barely productive and God help you if you have to do something or watch something that is boring. You'll barely be able to keep your eyes open.

Stage 4 - "Punchy"
Here fatigue actually seems to help a little. You're so tired your mind has cast off many of the restrictions and inhibitions you normally place upon it. You find yourself thinking in ways you probably haven't thought before and you can get quite creative. You're also funnier because you can no longer stop yourself from saying those witty little bon mots you normally keep to yourself. The danger is that you can no longer stop yourself from saying little sarcastic things, either, and words might slip out of your mouth that you later had wish you'd never said at all. Things that happen in the normal routine of your day now strike you as funny, and you find yourself laughing at things for no reason. This stage is somewhat akin to having drunk too much. You're running pretty much entirely on caffeine and adrenaline. At some point - usually in the mid-afternoon - you "hit the wall" and either have to get yourself to bed or move into the next stage.

Stage 5 - "Crunchy"
Things no longer strike you as funny. In fact, little stuff that normally doesn't bother you now annoys the snot out of you. You're still saying things you normally wouldn't say, but now they're not helpful or witty at all, they're just mean. You're irritable and often angry, and you can't really say why. This is not a fun stage to be in at all. For most things, you just don't care. You just want to get through the day/hour/minute and be done with it. Make no major decisions while in this stage.

Stage 6 - "Zombie"
You are now the walking dead. Not only should you not make any major decisions, you probably shouldn't even be driving. Your mind wanders away from the task at hand and very often cannot find its way back. This stage is characterized by long periods of simply staring into space. Be careful you don't drool.

Stage 7 - "Catatonic"
Go to bed. Now. Not only does your brain just shut down, so do most major motor functions. Your body is so tired and helpless at this point that one random germ from someone sneezing a block away could make you sick. It could very well come down to this: sleep or die.

So there you have it. I like to tell people that the secret to my success is understanding that sleep is optional. But that is only because I have made a personal study of this whole idea of fatigue (as you can tell), and I know my own limitations. Still, there are times when I drive myself beyond the bounds of good and common sense.

As the final bit to this post, let me share this story: My family enjoys eating out at Chinese restaurants. And we have a little ritual before we open the fortune cookies at the end of a meal. We pick a topic that the fortune will be about.

Well, yesterday I had lunch at the local Chinese buffet near my workplace. Before I cracked open my cookie, I picked the topic: What are my chances of getting some sleep? My fortune read, "Focus on your goals. You will succeed next year."

Hoo, boy. Could be a long summer.

Friday, June 06, 2008

Best Graduation Speech Ever

My son has finished his Associates Degree in Computer Programming and graduates this weekend. We're so proud! Even more exciting, he's already interviewing with several companies in the area.

Speaking of college, if your son or grandson is about ready to graduate high school and hasn't settled on a higher education institution yet, he could do worse than Deep Springs College up in High Desert Country in California.

There is no cash tuition to attend Deep Springs, as long as you're willing to bale hay, milk cows, slaughter hogs, and help make the ranch work in between classes along with 25 other male students. It's a pretty select group, and a pretty unique concept, and most of the students "graduate" after two years and go on to other prestigious colleges around the country.


"Wear Sunscreen" by Mary Schmich

Wear sunscreen.

If I could offer you only one tip for the future, sunscreen would be it. The long-term benefits of sunscreen have been proved by scientists, whereas the rest of my advice has no basis more reliable than my own meandering experience. I will dispense this advice now.

Enjoy the power and beauty of your youth. Oh, never mind. You will not understand the power and beauty of your youth until they've faded. But trust me, in 20 years, you'll look back at photos of yourself and recall in a way you can't grasp now how much possibility lay before you and how fabulous you really looked. You are not as fat as you imagine.

Don't worry about the future. Or worry, but know that worrying is as effective as trying to solve an algebra equation by chewing bubble gum. The real troubles in your life are apt to be things that never crossed your worried mind, the kind that blindside you at 4 p.m. on some idle Tuesday.

Do one thing every day that scares you.


Don't be reckless with other people's hearts. Don't put up with people who are reckless with yours.


Don't waste your time on jealousy. Sometimes you're ahead, sometimes you're behind. The race is long and, in the end, it's only with yourself.

Remember compliments you receive. Forget the insults. If you succeed in doing this, tell me how.

Keep your old love letters. Throw away your old bank statements.


Don't feel guilty if you don't know what you want to do with your life. The most interesting people I know didn't know at 22 what they wanted to do with their lives. Some of the most interesting 40-year-olds I know still don't.

Get plenty of calcium.

Be kind to your knees. You'll miss them when they're gone.

Maybe you'll marry, maybe you won't. Maybe you'll have children, maybe you won't. Maybe you'll divorce at 40, maybe you'll dance the funky chicken on your 75th wedding anniversary. Whatever you do, don't congratulate yourself too much, or berate yourself either. Your choices are half chance. So are everybody else's.

Enjoy your body. Use it every way you can. Don't be afraid of it or of what other people think of it. It's the greatest instrument you'll ever own.

Dance, even if you have nowhere to do it but your living room.

Read the directions, even if you don't follow them.

Do not read beauty magazines. They will only make you feel ugly.

Get to know your parents. You never know when they'll be gone for good. Be nice to your siblings. They're your best link to your past and the people most likely to stick with you in the future.

Understand that friends come and go, but with a precious few you should hold on. Work hard to bridge the gaps in geography and lifestyle, because the older you get, the more you need the people who knew you when you were young.

Live in New York City once, but leave before it makes you hard. Live in Northern California once, but leave before it makes you soft. Travel.

Accept certain inalienable truths: Prices will rise. Politicians will philander. And you, too, will get old. And when you do, you'll fantasize that when you were young, prices were reasonable, politicians were noble and children respected their elders.

Respect your elders.

Don't expect anyone else to support you. Maybe you have a trust fund. Maybe you'll have a wealthy spouse. But you never know when either one might run out.

Don't mess too much with your hair or by the time you're 40 it will look 85.

Be careful whose advice you buy, but be patient with those who supply it. Advice is a form of nostalgia. Dispensing it is a way of fishing the past from the disposal, wiping it off, painting over the ugly parts, and recycling it for more than it's worth.

But trust me on the sunscreen.

[By Mary Schmich, *NOT* Kurt Vonnegut]


And it's another really busy weekend for yours truly. June is just chock full of 'em. But keep the faith, remember to peek in at my blog on the weekend, and I'll see you on Monday.



WEB SITE of the WEEK: As the film industry is gearing up for all of its summer blockbuster releases, you can view a few good animated short movies at The artistic shorts were so good, in fact, that all of them won Oscars. Some, however, may not contain entirely family-friendly material. You have been warned.


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 contact your mother, probably best to send a letter. You can forward or reprint "Mark's Musings" freely but please keep the credits attached. Keeping the credits attached is incredibly easy. Even you can do it. 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. Watch the blog this weekend for my essay on the seven stages of fatigue. I'm in Stage 5.


WORDS for YOUR WEEKEND: "There is no such thing in anyone's life as an unimportant day." (Alexander Woollcott)

Thursday, June 05, 2008

The Patch

I don't know whether to file this under "citizen heroism" or "criminal stupidity." Probably both.

Erin Vanmatre, of Pennsylvania, must have thought she had an easy score: 71-year old Harry Kopenis and his wheelchair-bound friend Kevin Lamb were at an ATM withdrawing some cash. Erin grabbed the $100 cash, knocked Harry down and took off.

What she didn't count on was that Harry would get up. And then chase her. And then catch her.

He tackled her in the bank's parking lot and Kevin rode up in his wheelchair to lend a hand in subduing her.

The kicker? Harry had suffered a stroke five years ago.

The moral of the story is don't ever think you're too old or too disabled to go beyond the boundaries you've set for yourself.

The news story is here.


So these three guys are driving around, guzzling down too many adult beverages and generally making a nuisance of themselves.

Suddenly the guy in the backseat notices a police cruiser is behind them with lights flashing, obviously wanting them to pull over.

"Oh no!" he shouts. "What are we going to do with all these bottles?"

The driver says, "No, it's okay, don't worry. Just peel the label off and slap it on your forehead. Quick!"

The police officer walks up and states, "You lads were swerving all over the road and yelling at some of our fine citizens. Have you boys been drinking?"

"Not us, officer" says the driver, and points to the label stuck on his forehead. "We're trying to give that up, see? We're on the patch!"

[with thanks to]


WISDOM for YOUR WEEK: "A man can do nothing better than to eat and drink and find satisfaction in his work. This too, I see, is from the hand of God, for without him, who can eat or find enjoyment?" (Ecclesiastes 2:24)


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Wednesday, June 04, 2008

Mars Discoveries

Here's an interesting question that may just win you a bet one day. Is anyone buried on the moon?


Eugene Shoemaker was an astronomer and geologist and astronaut-wannabe who was disqualified from the Space Program due to a medical technicality. He instead worked with the teams that chose other astronauts and often sat at Walter Cronkite's elbow during the moon visits of the Apollo spacecraft era, providing technical expertise. His fondest wish was to visit the moon and on January 6, 1998, his ashes were launched with the Lunar Prospector, whose mission was to spend a year mapping the surface of the moon and in July of 1999 NASA crashed the probe into the moon in an attempt to locate water.

A little bit of Shakespeare was etched on the capsule containing his remains:

And, when he shall die,
Take him and cut him out in little stars,
And he will make the face of heaven so fine
That all the world will be in love with night,
And pay no worship to the garish sun.

The original NASA news release is here. Now you can put a name to the man in the moon.


Now that packs of ice have been found

Several Starbucks franchises.

A Coors Light factory.

Several unemployed NHL coaches.

Hey, doesn't that pack ice look an *awful* lot like the ice missing from Antarctica???

Under the ice is a 10% solution of vermouth, 90% gin, and a very large olive.

A Zamboni.

[thanks once again to Chris White's Top Five on Science with family-friendly edits by Mark Raymond]


WONDER for YOUR WEEK: How come we only hear about parallel universes? Couldn't there be a perpendicular universe?


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