Sunday, August 31, 2008

Mark of the Eagle Episode 2

Maybe I just think it's funny because I'm a postal employee, but here you go...

Friday, August 29, 2008

Prince Rupert and Homeward

Not much to do in Prince Rupert, as it turns out. We didn't find a shore excursion we wanted to go on, so we just went ashore and walked about the town for an hour and a half. We did visit a local museum and thus contribute to the continued preservation of the area's heritage.

Prince Rupert is located on the Kaien Island near the mouth of the Skeena river in Northwest British Columbia. It was named after the governor of Hudson's Bay Company and was the home to the Tsimshian Indians, one of the "First Peoples" to settle on the North American continent.

The picture above is Bonnie and I with one of the Royal Canadian Mounted Police's Finest. And just so you know, we're not that short and dumpy, the man in red was a huge speciman of Mountiehood.

As I mentioned yesterday, today we are simply asea making the 900 mile voyage back to Seattle. The ship is rolling and yawing on the moderate seas. Picture riding a slow motion roller coaster, or trying to walk across a hammock, and you'll have a good idea of what this feels like. Fortunately, neither Bonnie nor myself succumb easily to this sort of thing.

The beginning of the week it seemed that time was moving slowly with the vacation still stretched out before us in eager anticipation of each day's arrival. Now, of course, it feels like the week just flew by and we'd certainly enjoy a few more days onboard.

But, on the other hand, it will be good to get home. We missed our daughter's first swim meet and don't know how that came out, my son had another job interview and we have no clue how that went, the mail is stacking up, and the email is absolutely bursting my Inbox at its electronic seams. (Over 300 messages last time I checked.)

So give me a day to reacclimate my body to the Eastern Time Zone, work on a post or two for next week, and then I'll see about responding to anything you may have sent me while I was gone.

The vacation is nearly over. (Picture me sad.)

More Heart Thoughts

A couple of years ago (I can look up the exact date, if anyone needs it), I predicted that one of the next slices of technology to become obsolete would be wristwatches, as cell phones become ubiquitous and take their place.

Looks like the people who sell them agree with me.

What do I think is the next thing to go? Well, eMail is already nearly obsolete with the younger generation, who prefer text and instant messaging with their friends, but I'll put my money on television. The conversion to a digital signal will keep the industry alive for another decade or so, but I see more and more a blending of broadcast television and Internet video. You can already hook your PC up to your television and plug a TV-ready card into your PC to put broadcast signals right onto your monitor.

If the powers that be can shore up the Web's infrastructure to handle the increased bandwidth and storage load, before long instead of wondering what's on the tube each night, you'll be saying, "What's on the Web tonight?"



Your whole life has the same shape as a single day.

All things are difficult before they become easy.

When in doubt about what gift to give, make it money. It's the easiest to exchange.

All people are skilled at making one thing or another. Though for some, it's making excuses.

Whoever gossips around you will gossip of you when you're not around.

The first time some people do any deep thinking is when they find themselves in a hole.

If you can't be thankful for what you have, be thankful for what you haven't.

It takes a lot of courage to admit you're afraid.

Crime doesn't pay. When it does, we call it by something more respectable.

Some people can see trouble so far ahead there is always some in sight.

Life is often like buying a suit with two pair of pants ... and then burning a hole in the coat.

You can make yourself miserable or you can make yourself strong; the amount of work is the same.

[with thanks to Menards and list member Cliff R. for collecting them for me]


If all has gone according to schedule, as you read this we should be sailing back to Seattle upon the open sea. Our ship docks early Saturday morning, and we spend the rest of the day traveling back home ... rested, refreshed, our spirits renewed by having enlarged our souls with sights rare and wonderful, and our love rekindled by a week of intimate fellowship.

May your way be as pleasant, and I'll see you on Monday.



WEB SITE of the WEEK: Here's a social networking site for book lovers: Accounts are free, and you can tell the site which books you've read, which ones you're reading, and which ones you're planning to read. You can write your own brief review of these books and join groups and have chats with others who've also read the books. It's like an online book club. And yes, I have an account there, though it is woefully unupdated ... kind of like my website! (Hope to fix that soon, really I do.)


Mark's Musings is also sent each weekday via email and is still a Habeas-certified spam free mailer. Subscribe, view past issues in the Archives, and help defray publishing costs at my web site. To contact Mark, click here. To have a great vacation, get your own cruise. You can forward or reprint "Mark's Musings" freely but please keep the credits attached. Hands off my credits! Original material and commentary © 2008 by Mark Raymond. I update this blog with a copy of the post daily and occasional bonus material on the weekends. Look for the label that says "Weekend" and you can bring them all up with one click. My personal mission statement remains John 3:30. We've been spending money like we've got it.


WORDS for YOUR WEEKEND: "There are two kinds of people; those who finish what they start and so on." (Robert Byrne)

Thursday, August 28, 2008

Flip Flop Posts

Today we are in Prince Rupert, but by Eastern Time Zone standards, we are in port from 7 p.m. to 1 a.m. By the time we get back on the boat, it will be too late to post about our day in Canada.

So instead, today I'll just post a few miscellaneous things, which is what I was going to do tomorrow. Tomorrow all we do is sail the Pacific back to Seattle. I'll use that day to report on our time in Prince Rupert. Let's call it flip flop posting.

Bonnie and I purchased the "romance package" when we boarded the ship. This gave us a few extra amenities: A romantic dinner in a French bistro, a complimentary bottle of wine (which they charged us for and we had to wrangle it off our bill), two 25-minute massages which Bonnie combined into one hour long whole body massage (she does love her massages), canap├ęs one evening, and tomorrow while we're at sea a champagne and cake party with a complimentary photograph of the "happy couple." We are pictured above with Dawes Glacier in the background. (It's the blue ice at the water line behind us. The dark brown line is where two ice floes mashed themselves together.)

While we were at "Le Bistro," our meal was capped with a complimentary cake that said "Happy Anniversary" and delivered to our table by half a dozen waitstaff singing "Let Me Call You Sweetheart," which was a real treat, especially sung in English with a thick Filipino accent.

As I write this on Thursday afternoon, it's "Employee Talent Day" here onboard and I'm listening to a jazz band - very passable, indeed - composed of Norwegian Cruise Line employees. Later tonight there's a special performancing showcasing more of their talents in the Las Vegas style theater on Deck Seven, Forward. (Not that you need to know where it is, I just like sounding mildly nautical. Port. Starboard. Forward. Aft. See?)

By the time we disembark back in Seattle, we and our fellow passengers will have consumed, according to a Norwegian Cruise Lines fact sheet, about:

15,000 pounds of beef
9,800 pounds of seafood
11,000 pounds of chicken
1,200 pounds of coffee
28,000 pounds of vegetables
30,000 pounds of fresh fruit
60,000 eggs

There are days when we feel like we've eaten this much ourselves.

Telecomm Archeology

The Swedish designers at Unsworn Industries have erected a 23-foot tall (7 metre) "artistic piece" on Bergskletten Mountain overlooking Dalsfjord in Western Norway.

This "sculpture" is actually a "telemegaphone." You can call an international phone number and have your voice broadcast out over the valley and into the village of Dale at the foot of the mountain. You may, however, find the line is either busy or there is no answer at all. It may be busy because "massive" amounts of people are calling, or you may not get any answer at all because the telemegaphone is powered by wind and if the weather is calm that day, there is no energy to power the device.

And you thought I was kidding.

Oh, all right. +47.90.369389. Remember there are children down in the village.


(I know this joke just went around a week or so ago, but I love it and it fits. -- MR)

Having dug to a depth of 100 metres last year, English scientists discovered traces of copper wire and came to the conclusion that their ancestors had apparently had a telephone network in place more than 200 years ago.

Not to be outdone by the English, in the weeks that followed the Scots dug to a depth of 200 metres and reported that archeologists had found traces of ancient fiber-optic cable and concluded that their ancestors had a high-definition digital communications network in place at least 100 years earlier than the Brits.

One week later, Irish newspapers reported the following: Having dug to a depth of at least 300 metres in a County Mayo bog and finding nothing, local archeologist Paddy O'Donnell has concluded that Ireland had, more than 500 years ago, gone wireless.

[seen first in the Good, Clean Funnies List, but thanks also to Randy Walker]


WISDOM for YOUR WEEK: "If my people, who are called by my name, will humble themselves and pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways, then will I hear from heaven and will forgive their sin and will heal their land." (2 Chronicles 7:14)


Mark's Musings is also sent each weekday via email. Call in your own subscription by clicking here ... it's free!

Wednesday, August 27, 2008

Howling in Liarsville

Today we are in Skagway, which is an English-ized version of the Tlingit Indian name for the city. It means either "windy place" or "cold northern wind"; I've seen and heard both definitions while here. The little town - population 850 during the winter, 2,500 during the summer - is bordered on three sides by mountains, and the fourth by the sea channel our ship came up. Food and supplies are delivered once each week by barge, though there is a highway that connects down through Canada and into the lower 48 states.

Skagway is best known for being the head of two trails into the Klondike and the gold rush of the 1890s. It's most famous tourist attraction is the White Pass Railroad, built in 1898 despite treacherous conditions. It took tens of thousands of men, 450 tons of explosives, and 26 months to complete. Now it carries over 400,000 tourists each year on a 40-mile loop. The railway originally extended over 100 miles through the Yukon.

Instead of the railroad ride, Bonnie and I chose to visit "Liarsville" - where you howl like a wolf baying at the moon to greet someone, you howl to say goodbye, and you howl when you're just plain angry. Between the lumberjack show and Liarsville, we have given our lungs a good stiff workout.

While we were there, we had some salmon grilled on an open air range, and wood-smoked. It was delicious and like a picnic on a sunny, 40-degree day. Still, we must be getting acclimated in some ways, as the temperature seemed extremely bearable ... at least until we finally made our way back to the boat, when the cold wind began to bite through our layers of clothing.

Why is it called Liarsville?

When the gold rush became news, editors of newspapers all over the country sent reporters north. Based on scanty interviews with prospectors, stories were being written that gave the indication the gold rush was a pleasant boat trip north, an easy wagon ride into the gold fields, and there you would just be able to bend down, pick up gold the size of small rocks, and make your fortune.

The reality was that the Skagway trail into the Klondike was incredibly difficult, taking six months to reach the summit and the size of your "fortune" was, at the least, greatly exaggerated. When these reporters finally reached the tent city at the head of the trail, they realized the extent of the arduous journey before them, and most stayed at the base camp, sending back stories to their editors as if they had, indeed, reached the Klondike, and perpetuated the gold rush myth. In other words, they lied.

Based on these fabrications, thousands of would-be prospectors surged north, and halfway up the Skagway trail, realized the futility of their efforts, dropped most of their gear by the side of the trail, and returned to the tent city where they found the very journalists who had written the stories sending them on this fool's errand. Thus the tent city was eventually dubbed "Liarsville." And I imagine that's also where the tradition of howling began.

A couple other notes about how small the city of Skagway is ... there is one gas station. No prices posted, because they don't need to advertise. If you want gas, you pay the going rate. Same thing for the grocery store. A gallon of milk costs more than six dollars.

Our tour guide noticed that the library was open today and remarked, "The book must be back."

Every post office in Alaska doubles as a gift and souvenir shop. The one in Ketchikan also did taxidermy. But postal thinking is the same all over: There is one postal collection mail box where you can drop your cards and letters in the city of Skagway ... and it's six feet in front of the post office. I'm sure the people of the town rejoice over those six saved steps each and every day.

During the booming gold rush, Skagway held 80 saloons and brothels. Well, times and values have changed, obviously. Now the tiny city has 27 jewelry shops.

Well, we're safely back on board and tomorrow is our Canadian stop: Prince Rupert, British Columbia. We also have to once again change our time zone, bumping ahead one hour.

Balloon Price

The finance people at say there are nine things you should never buy new.

Timeshares - the link above has another link where you can browse resale properties.
Pets - Smart Money Magazine says you can save nearly 80% by getting your dog or cat from an animal shelter.
Software and Video Games - You can get them for half off if you wait awhile after their release, plus you'll hear about the bugs.
Office Furniture - So many companies go belly up within one year of opening, there's tons of it around. Check Craig's List.
Sports Equipment - Look for a "Play It Again" sports shop in your area.
CDs, DVDs, and Books - eBay,, Amazon ... no need to pay retail ever again.
Cars - The instant you drive that new vehicle off the dealer's lot, you've lost at least 12 percent of its value.
Toys - Think garage sale. You can find toys at a fraction of their price.
Jewelry - Retailers mark gems and fine jewelry up 100% or more. Look for a reputable pawn shop, instead.


Watching us fill balloons up with helium at our gift shop, one of our customers asked about the price.

"It's a quarter per balloon," one of my co-workers said.

The customer sighed. "It used to be ten cents," he complained.

Another customer listening in on the conversation observed, "Well, that's inflation."

[my thanks to Reader's Digest]


WONDER for YOUR WEEK: If the shortest distance between two points is a line, why does waiting in line feel like it takes forever?


Mark's Musings is also sent each weekday via email. You can get your own subscription at a significant discount if you act now by clicking here. (It's free. Both the subscription and the click.)

Tuesday, August 26, 2008

Here There Be Whales

We landed at Juneau about 7:00 a.m. local time. Two prospectors - Richard Harris and Joe Juneau - were the first to establish the town and it was originally to be called Harrisburgh. Juneau could not read so Harris filed the paperwork and claimed the name for himself. Later the name was changed briefly to "Rockwell," but after Juneau complained that nothing in the area was named after himself, the town council rechristened the city after him in late 1881. There is still a Harris Harbor, after Richard Harris, in the city.

We are only docked here for about six hours, and over half of that time was spent traveling to Auke Bay and back for our whale watching excursion. After half an hour of travel by a boat that carried about 30 of us, we finally found some humpback whales that were comfortable enough with boats to stay near the surface.

The photo above is one my wife snapped of a humpback's tail, or its "fluke." We learned that when you see the fluke, you won't see the whale again for about five minutes, as that means it's diving and can stay down for that long before it needs another few gulps of fresh air.

The whales feed in this area from May through early September, growing to weigh between 75,000 and 100,000 pounds. Then, in late September, they begin their southern migration. Some go to Japan, some to Mexico, and most to Hawaii. There they mate and give birth to their young. They will not feed again until they return to the northern Pacific Ocean in May, and will lose between 15 to 30 percent of their body weight in that time.

After our time with the whales, the shuttle bus driver was kind enough to drop us at the Main Post Office (called the Federal Building), where we picked up our passports ... but by the time I had gone through the line and signed for them, we had about 30 minutes to travel roughly two miles - by foot - back to our dock before they closed up the gangway.

Needless to say, we got our exercise in today. We hoofed it. Big time. About five to ten minutes into this very quick walk, we finally hailed down a taxi, and though it already had a fare - two young men from Australia - they agreed to let us share their ride and even drop us off first. We made it back to the ship with less than ten minutes to spare, paid for the Australian's cab fare in gratitude for their generosity, and boarded our cruise ship, adrenaline rushing high.

Whew! Finally reunited with our proper citizenship documentation. I love it when a plan comes together.

This afternoon we spent resting up from all this excitement, got a look at Dawes Glacier in the Endicott Arm of the Inside Passage, and saw some of God's most beautiful natural scenery we've ever seen, and tonight we'll cap it all off with dinner at the fancy French restaurant on board, "Le Bistro."

Tomorrow, Skagway; Alaska's main gold rush city.

Celebrity Ashes

Most of you probably don't know the name of Dr. Frederic J. Baur, of Cincinnati, Ohio. But you know of his work.

He invented the Pringles Potato Chip Can.

By now, most of you are aware of the fact that he was so proud of his accomplishment, he had some of his cremated remains buried in a Pringle's Can.

Here's a few other fitting and, umm, ironic places for people to be buried.



Emeril: In a KFC bucket.

Dan Quayle: Idaho.

Shirley MacLaine: Anything recyclable.

Ray Croc: A Big Mac container.

Andrew Lloyd Webber: A litterbox.

Orson Welles: A wine bottle labeled, "It's Time."

Sam Walton: A small, abandoned, desolate small town.

Jared: A Pair of Hugely Over-sized Pants.

Bill Gates: On Hold. In India.

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


WORDS for YOUR WEEK: "The idea is to die young as late as possible." (Ashley Montagu)


Mark's Musings is also sent each weekday via email. You can rest in peace after you get your very own subscription for free by clicking here.

Monday, August 25, 2008

Dolphins, Rainbows, and Lumberjacks

So Sunday was a day just to cruise the "Inside Passage." We tried to adjust our internal clocks to the time here being three hours earlier than where we live, and just when we start to think we're getting it ... we're told once we reach Alaska we have to set our clocks back another hour.

We got dressed up tonight for portraits and had our picture taken with the captain. Every now and then he gets on the shipwide PA, and we love to listen to him. He sounds just like an Austrian grandfather who often can't quite think of the next word he wants to say.

For dinner, we ate in the "Endless Summer" restaurant, one of 13 different eating venues on board.

For the record, the cruise this time around is loaded, with more than 2,600 passengers from 34 countries, and with nearly 1,400 crew, there are about 4,000 people on board. There's a cinema, a library, a chapel, meeting rooms, a casino, several pools and several more hot tubs, a spa, a workout room, a jogging track, places to play basketball, sun bathe, and oh, yes, an Internet cafe, where $100 buys you four hours of connectivity.

But back to dinner. Our seats were one table away from the window, and when the couple by the window left, my wife wondered if there was a way to move over by the window. Well, it was like the restaurant host could read her mind. Within moments, he came and offered to relocate us by the window. A couple waiters just picked up our whole table and moved it.

And that was when the magic began. Within minutes, we were able to watch about a dozen porpoises playfully leap in and out of the water, and as soon as the ship moved past them, the sun hit just right and a magnificent rainbow appeared on the nearby shoreline. It stayed with us for nearly 10 minutes, gaining and waning strength and brightness, until finally the setting sun brought it to an end.

Monday we found ourselves docked at Ketchikan, Alaska's first city. We walked about the city and purchased a few souvenirs, then headed over to "The Great Alaskan Lumberjack Show" with about 800 other cruisers. (Four different cruise lines were docked at the same time we were.)

The picture above is from the "Springboard Chop" competition. Lumberjacks would insert wooden "springboards" into the trunk of the tree to reach the thinner part of the trunk. They would then stand on this board - about the size of a surfboard - and chop through the trunk while keeping their balance.

Our team won. Yay!

Tomorrow we dine at one of the fancier establishments on board, go whale watching, and hope to retrieve our passports while we're in Juneau.

Driving Test

If you still want to take one more trip this summer - say over the Labor Day weekend - here's a site that will help you figure out how much to set aside for gas money.

At Drive Pricing you plug in your starting location, your destination, your ZIP code, approximately how many miles per gallon your vehicle gets, and tell the computer if it's a one-way or round trip.

The program spits back your total miles, the average gas price between locations, and about how much you'll need to spend on gas for that trip. It also uses Google Maps to give you directions, if you need those.

Pretty nifty.



7. The car directly in front of you has a flashing right tail light but a steady left tail light. This means:

a) one of the tail lights is broken; you should blow your horn
b) the driver is signaling a right turn
c) the driver is signaling a left turn
d) the driver is from out of town

The correct answer is (d). Tail lights are used in some foreign countries to signal turns.

8. Pedestrians are:

a) irrelevant
b) communists
c) a nuisance
d) difficult to clean off the front grille

The correct answer is (a). Pedestrians are not in cars, so they are totally irrelevant to driving; you should ignore them completely.

[first seen in Daniel Galvin's Thought for the Day; apologies to anyone who lives in Pittsburgh. Anybody have the first six questions?]


WORD for YOUR WEEK: Today's word is, in fact, an example of its very definition. "Amalgam" is a mixture of words, from French, Latin, Arabic and Greek. In Greek, "malagma" was a softening agent, and in Arabic, "al-malgham" meant "the ointment." So a soft ointment, or in this case, a soft metal combination, usually of mercury and some other metal. The most common definition of "amalgam," however, is simply "a mixture of diverse elements." As in, "Mark's Musings is an amalgam of commentary, unique website recommendations, jokes and humor, personal news, meditative pieces, and even Scripture."


Mark's Musings is also sent each weekday via email and once you pass your test, get your own subscription for free by clicking here.

Sunday, August 24, 2008

Mal Voyage?

Our trip could not have gotten off to a worse start, or so it seemed. As one of my anniversary surprises, I'd made arrangements for a limousine to take us to the airport. (I mean, it's not every year you celebrate a 25th anniversary, so I wanted this trip to be extra-special.)

The limo was late.

Then, about halfway to the airport - way past the point of no return - I realized we'd forgotten to pack our passports. They were back home, in the same drawer as our birth certificates. So here we were, going out of the country, and no proof of citizenship on us.

Then, to make matters even worse, Bonnie got ill on the ride down to the airport.

By the time we cleared security, made a last minute bathroom stop, and boarded the tram to take us to our gate, we were hearing our names announced on the airport PA. Usually not a good thing.

We made our flight two minutes before they would have closed the door and blocked all further boarding.

Somewhere on the flight, I also realized that I forgot to pack my prescription sunglasses, as well as my swimsuit. By now I was in high stress mode.

Let me take a moment right here to stop and thank Miss Katie Lee, our housesitter, and the one person on the planet who was responsible for our being on this trip. She faxed a copy of our birth certificates and marriage license to the Port Authority, and sent our passports to Juneau via overnight Express Mail.

So, as we finally boarded the Norwegian Star late Saturday afternoon and waved goodbye to the city of Seattle (Space Needle, pictured above), we settled in to enjoy our cruise.

Saturday, August 23, 2008

Mark of the Eagle

Okay, while we're winging our way to the West Coast and parts beyond today, here's a hilarious new video that, by now, some of you may have already seen as it made its debut this past Monday.

It's underwritten by the U.S. Postal Service and it's called "Mark of the Eagle." May your office never get this crazy.

Friday, August 22, 2008

Observations on Men

So here's what happened: we refinanced the house this year in order to do two things: remodel the kitchen and take a special trip for our 25th anniversary. Most of you know our special trip was supposed to be to Ireland, but that proved to be too cost prohibitive. We could have gone, but then we wouldn't have been able to remodel.

So I decided if I couldn't have my dream vacation, then I was bound and determined my wife would have hers. All of Bonnie's life she's wanted to go whale watching ... so I took the deposit for the Ireland trip and put it down on an Alaskan cruise. The Norwegian Star sails from Seattle tomorrow afternoon, and we'll be on her.

I've written and uploaded your posts for next week, and though I may update my blog with pics and descriptions from our trip while we're on the cruise, my plan is basically to be out of touch with everyone except the woman who pledged her life to mine so many years ago.

So if you don't get a reply to your emails next week, please understand.


by Rita Rudner

If you buy your husband or boyfriend a video camera, lock the bathroom door for the first few weeks. Most of my husband's early films end with a scream and a flush.

Men are very confident. My husband is so confident that when he watches sports on television, he thinks that if he concentrates really hard, he can help his team. If his team is in trouble, he coaches the players from the living room. If they are really in trouble, I have to get off the phone in case they call him.

Men like phones with lots of buttons. It makes them feel important.

The way a man looks at himself in the mirror will tell you if he can ever care about anyone else.

Don't try to teach men how to do anything in public. They can learn in private, but in public they have to KNOW.

All men are afraid of eyelash curlers. I sleep with one under my pillow instead of a gun.

A good place to meet a man is at the dry cleaners. They usually have a job and bathe.

Men are sensitive in strange ways. If a man has built a fire and the last log doesn't burn, he will take it personally.

Men have higher body temperatures than women. In the winter, I recommend sleeping next to your man. Men are like portable heaters that snore.

Most men hate to shop. This is why the men's department is usually on the first floor of the store, two inches from the door.

Men are less sentimental than women. No man has seen the movie, "The Way We Were" twice -- voluntarily.

Men who can eat anything they want and not gain weight should do it out of sight of women.

Men who listen to classical music tend not to spit.

Men would like monogamy better if it sounded less like monotony.

All men would still really like to own a train set.

[many thanks to Mrs. Rita Rudner]


Okay, the post will be back on Monday, but I won't. Watch the blog for vacation updates next week if I'm able to find a working Internet connection.

Everybody play safe while I'm gone.



WEB SITE of the WEEK: "Digital Goddess" Kim Komando recommends you take a look at, and so do I. You may already have your mind made up on your candidate of choice for the November U.S. presidential election, or you may not. Either way, you'll find out more about the candidates, their stands on the issues (fully documented), and be able to formulate and take your own quiz on which candidate best matches your personal beliefs. With the wars in Iraq, Afghanistan, and now Georgia, coupled with an economy that teeters on the brink of depression, if it's not already slipping over the edge, this could be the most important election in years.


Mark's Musings is a Habeas-certified spam free mailer. Subscribe, view past issues in the Archives, and help defray publishing costs at my web site. If you need to change your e-mail address or you're all mused out and need to unsubscribe, use the "Change Subscription" or "Cancel Subscription" links at the very bottom of this page. To contact Mark, click here. Mark's Musings is the unofficial humor list of the U.S. Olympic Team. (Well, it would be if any of them knew I existed.) You can forward or reprint "Mark's Musings" freely but please keep the credits attached. The credits are your proof of purchase. Original material and commentary © 2008 by Mark Raymond. I update my blog with a copy of this post daily and occasional bonus material on the weekends. Look for the label that says "Weekend" and you can bring them all up with one click. My personal mission statement is John 3:30. North to Alaska!


WORDS for YOUR WEEKEND: "If men liked shopping, they'd call it research." (Cynthia Nelms)

Thursday, August 21, 2008

Female Translation Guide

Well, I'm not sure how this story fits today's joke, but here ya go.

Arava is a 10-year old turtle who recently moved into the Jerusalem Biblical Zoo. At 55 pounds, and with her hind legs paralyzed for some unknown reason, all the male turtles spurned any courtship overtures, as she was, apparently, "damaged goods" and could not move herself with just her front legs.

The zookeepers ingeniously fitted her with a custom made skateboard so that she can now move around and, pow! Instant love life.



She says: "We need..."
She means: "I want..."

She says: "Do what you want."
She means: "You'll pay for this later."

She says: "We need to talk."
She means: "I need to complain."

She says: "No, I'm not upset."
She means: "Of course I'm upset, you moron."

She says: "You're so manly."
She means: "You sweat a lot and need a shave."

She says: "It's more romantic if you turn out the lights."
She means: "I'm not comfortable with my body."

She says: "This kitchen is so inconvenient."
She means: "I want a new house."

She says: "I want new curtains."
She means: "And new carpeting, and furniture, and wallpaper."

She says: "Do you love me?"
She means: "I'm going to ask for something expensive."

She says: "How much do you love me?"
She means: "I've done something bad and it's going to cost you a bundle."

She says: "Does this make me look fat?"
She means: "Tell me I'm beautiful."

She says: "Do you like this recipe?"
She means: "It's easy to fix, so get used to eating it."

[selected from the Infrequently Asked Questions website]


WISDOM for YOUR WEEK: "The wise woman builds her house, but with her own hands the foolish one tears hers down." (Proverbs 14:1)


Mark's Musings is also sent each weekday via email. Get your own subscription - no translation needed - by clicking here ... it's free!

Wednesday, August 20, 2008

Married Phrases

Today is the 25th anniversary of the day my wife and I said "I will." Our silver anniversary. While in the Olympics that means you finished second, she's still first in my heart, and I in hers.


Over the Years

At 2 weeks: I love you! I love you! I love you so much!
At 6 months: I love you, too, honey.
At 2 years: Of course I love you.
At 25 years: Oh, COME ON, if I didn't love you, would I have married you?

At 2 weeks: Honey, I'm home from work!
At 6 months: I'm home!
At 2 years: What's for supper?
At 25 years: No, that's okay, I can heat it up.

At 2 weeks: Sweetheart, one of your girlfriends is on the phone for you.
At 6 months: Baby, here, it's for you.
At 2 years: Your sister is calling ... *again.*
At 25 years: ANSWER THE PHONE!

At 2 weeks: Wow, you look like an angel in that new dress.
At 6 months: You bought *another* new dress?
At 2 years: How much did that one cost me?
At 25 years: Don't know what you needed that for, we never go anywhere.

At 2 weeks: Honey, what do you want to watch tonight?
At 6 months: But I really like this movie. Can't I finish it?
At 2 years: I'm just going to watch ESPN for awhile, you go on up to bed.
At 25 years: zzzzz-snorxxxx---Hey! I was watching that!


1. Baby, I love you more today than the day I married you.
2. Whatever you whip up is great. I *love* your cooking!
3. Hello? Yeah, hold on, my little love bunny is right here.
4. Wow, you look like an angel in that new dress!
5. Let's say we turn off the TV and snuggle....

[Joe's Clean Laffs with lots of additional material by Mark Raymond]


WONDER for YOUR WEEK: If you don't believe in love at first sight, do you walk by attractive people twice?


Mark's Musings is also sent each weekday via email. You can get your own subscription for free without ever kissing and making up by clicking here.

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

Wedding Placards

A man and woman got a divorce. That's bad.

But then they got married again. That's good.

But while they were divorced, the woman had taken out a personal protection order against her ex-husband. That's bad.

But everyone forgot about it when they were remarried. That's good.

Except the police. That's bad.


If we were honest

People We Didn't Think Would Come

People Our Parents Made Us Invite

People We Invited Only Because They Invited Us To Things

Relatives We Haven't Seen For Most Of Our Adult Lives

People We Think Will Give Really Good Gifts

Sorry, But You Are....?

[Harris Bloom in McSweeney's with edits and additional material by Mark Raymond]


WORDS for YOUR WEEK: "Love makes your soul crawl out from its hiding place." (Zora Neale Hurston)


Mark's Musings is also sent each weekday via email. Say "I do" for free to your very own subscription by clicking here.

Monday, August 18, 2008

Penny Thoughts

Well, my dad came through his gall bladder surgery with flying colors, as you can read in Sunday's post. Thanks for all your good thoughts and kind prayers. I'm sure they helped.

This is my wedding anniversary week (the actual day is Wednesday), and traditionally that means I engage in a week of "Gender Wars" posts. I do try to be fair about it, though, so if you get offended by one day's post, wait for another to see the flip side of the coin. Or so I hope, at least.

Ladies, new research indicates that you spend 136 days of your life just getting ready to look good for a night out on the town. That's 3,276 hours.

Guys spend about a third of that time.


A young Scottish lad and lassie were sitting together on a low stone wall, just gazing out over the loch.

For several minutes they sat quietly, then finally the girl looked over at the boy and said, "A penny for your thoughts, Angus."

"Uh, well, I was thinkin' perhaps it's aboot time that we held onta hands."

The girl blushed and slowly took his hand into hers. Then he blushed. Then they gazed out o'er the loch again.

After awhile the girl spoke again, saying, "Another penny for your thoughts, Angus."

"Well, uh, I was thinkin' perhaps it's aboot time for a wee cuddle."

The girl blushed, and then they hugged, and then he blushed, and then they sat with his arm around her, watching the loch.

After another short time the girl said softly, "Another penny for your thoughts, Angus."

"Uh, well, this time I was thinkin' it's aboot time for a wee kiss."

The girl blushes, then leans over and kisses him. Then he blushes. Then they continue staring out at the loch.

In due time, the girls says once more, "Another penny for your thoughts, Angus."

"Well, this time me thoughts are a wee bit more serious."

The girl blushes in anticipation of his next request and whispers, "Really?"

"Oh, aye."

The air hangs heavy with anticipation when suddenly he blurts out, "Do ye nae think it's time ye paid me the first three pennies?"

[from Jumbo Joke]


WORD for YOUR WEEK: Here's an old-fashioned word to go along with a little old-fashioned spooning. The Old English word "faegen" meant "glad." We use it as the word "fain" which means willingly, gladly, pleasingly, and eager. As in, "Mordecai was both busy and happy, for he loved his damsel well, and was fain of her company." Some of you may remember the old hymn, "Beneath the Cross of Jesus" with the line, "I fain would make my stand."


Mark's Musings is also sent each weekday via email and hoot, mon! It's aboot time ye got your own wee subscription for free by clicking here.

Sunday, August 17, 2008

Things My Father Taught Me

So I've spent the past couple of days with my family in Lansing. Dad had his gall bladder out Friday morning, and boy, has medicine come a long way. We were at the hospital about 8:45 and zip-zop, they yanked that thing out and we were back home in about five hours. Crazy.

But as I slept in my childhood bed and knocked around the house I called home for all of my teenage years, I began thinking about the man I've become and what that man on the left in the picture has had to do with it.

My Dad taught me about spontaneous fun. The summer after my mother passed away, the two of us went on a vacation throughout upper Michigan together. Driving in our pickup truck/camper combination, a bug would splatter against the windshield and Dad would say, "I bet he won't have the guts to do that again." That was the first time I'd ever heard that and to a 12-year old, it was just hilarious. Eventually, we began saying it together whenever a bug would commit windshieldcide. Another time, we had stopped at a "scenic view" roadside rest area and there was a sign that said, "DANGER! OVERHANGING CLIFF." Well, my Dad's name is Cliff and yup, he climbed up onto that sign, draped himself over it, and we snapped a picture. Sadly, we drove away with the camera sitting on the roof of the truck and it's lost forever, but the image is still fresh in my mind. While I don't remember all the details of the trip, I do remember an overwhelming sense of having just plain fun. Dad has always been quick with a smile and there's never a joke or punny one-liner far from his lips. I'm sure my sense of humor comes almost entirely from him.

My Dad taught me about generosity. One summer afternoon I came tooling into the driveway on my bicycle, with a friend close behind. Dad was out in front of the garage, grilling steaks for supper. "Hey, Dad, can Carl stay for supper?" I asked. "No problem," he said, reaching for another steak to toss onto the grill. I've never forgotten that moment and his complete, instant willingness to share what we had with others. He's been that way his entire life, and it's a model I've tried to emulate.

My Dad taught me about honesty. If anyone ever gave him too much change at the store, he always brought it to their attention and gave it back. He once slipped a pack of hearing aid batteries into his pocket because they were too small to stay in the grocery cart and got all the way home before he discovered them ... he went right back to the store and paid for them, to the amazement of the customer service desk. He has been my Step-Mom's caregiver since their terrible accident two years ago but when he went in for surgery - knowing he'd be back on his feet in just a day or two - he notified the insurance company that he was handing over the reins of caring for my Mom to my step-sister, and she'll be the one paid for that work (and she does it diligently, too, I must add), while he recovers. He didn't have to do that, but it's just the way my Dad has lived his life.

My Dad taught me to keep learning, no matter how old you are. He started to tinker with computers somewhere in his 60s, and when he was 74 years old, he took on email and the Internet. Now, mind you, he's still somewhere on the left side of the learning curve, but the fact he would undertake such a daunting task at such an age is just jaw-dropping awesome to me. In the two years since, he more than holds his own and is still learning. What an inspiration!

My Dad taught me the power of proverbs. One day the windshield wipers on my car stopped working and I was sure it was a mechanical issue so I asked Dad to take a look at it since he was so good with that stuff. A short time later I went outside and there, under my wiper, was an index card with a small stone taped to it. On it Dad had written, "...wedged under your wiper at the base. It couldn't move." And then, at the bottom, "When all else fails, look for the obvious!" Another time, in the rain, he slapped on an extra rain bonnet my Mom had with her. Despite the fact it was purely a feminine look, it kept him dry. He says to me, "Any port in a storm, son." There are many others that I find come to mind in the different situations in which I find myself, all thanks to him.

I know not everyone's experience with their father has been so close or so special, and some have undoubtedly been downright horrific. For that, you have my pity, and my prayers for an extra measure of God's grace and abundance in your life.

If it's true that we get our own image of God from our own fathers, then I can't wait to get to Heaven, because for me, that image is one I treasure.

Photograph taken by my nephew, Chad Smith.

Friday, August 15, 2008

Man Skills III (The Last)

I don't think I've ever heard of a kilt being referred to as an "unbifurcated garment," but that's what Dean Peterson calls them.

Then again, he's also leading the fight to have kilts added as a uniform option for U.S. Postal Service letter carriers, so I suppose he has to make them sound more "government-y."

And hey, speaking of manly things like kilts, here's your final installment....


Part the Last (of Three)

Break up a fight - Work in pairs, if possible. Don't get between people, at least initially. Use the back of the collar, pulling and urging the person downward. If you can't get him or her down, work at getting distance.

Point to the north at any time - Here's a tip: If you wear a watch, point the hour hand at the sun. The point directly between the hour hand and the "12" on the face of your watch is south. North is, of course, the exact opposite of that. After dark, you're on your own.

Explain what a light year is - It's a measure of the distance light travels over 365.25 days.

Avoid boredom - As long as you have enough to eat and the ability to move, you have freedom of choice. You don't always have to be delighted, but there's no reason to be bored.

Write a thank-you note - Make a habit of it. The first line is thesis statement. The second line is evidentiary. The third is a kind of assertion. Close on the upbeat. Like this: "Thanks for having me over to watch Game Six of the World Series. Even though they won, it's clear the Red Sox are a soulless, overmarketed contrivance of Fox TV. Still, I'm awfully happy you have that huge high-def set. Next time I really will bring something to drink."

Be brand loyal to at least one product - It says a lot about who you are and where you came from.

Cook bacon - Lay it out on a baking sheet. Bake at 400 degrees for 15 minutes.

Hold a baby - Newborns should be wrapped tight and held against the chest. They like tight spaces (consider their previous circumstances) and rhythmic movements, so hold them snug. Tuck them into the crook of your elbow or neck. Rock your hips like you're bored and have nothing to do but stand there. No one has to notice except the baby. Don't breathe all over them.

Deliver a eulogy - Take the job seriously. It matters. Speak first to the family, then to the outside world. Write it down. Avoid similes. Don't read poetry. Be funny.

Iron a shirt.

Know some birds - If you can't pay attention to a bird, then you can't learn from detail, you aren't likely to appreciate the beauty of nature, and you don't have a clue how bird-like your own habits may be. You've been looking at them blindly for years, now. Get a guide.

Stock an emergency kit for the car - Blanket. Heavy flashlight. Hand warmers. Six bottles of water. Six packs of beef jerky. Atlas. Reflectors. Gloves. Socks. Bandages. Neosporin. Inhaler. Benadryl. Motrin. Hard candy. Telescoping magnet. Screwdriver. Channel-Locks. Crescent Wrench. Ski hat. Bandanna.

[Abridged for length and family-friendliness by Mark Raymond from an article by Leif Parsons in Esquire magazine; my thanks to list member Lavonne T. for bringing the original to my attention. The entire piece can be found here.]


My father -- after having several gall bladder attacks involving ambulances and hospital visits in the past two weeks -- is finally having the furshlugginer thing out today. By the time most of you read this, I'll be at his side and will stay there all weekend

Which means I'll see you on Monday.



WEB SITE of the WEEK: With my Dad's surgery and my wife and I traveling soon, here's a timely pick: check out This is an air transportation and medical service that will take you from wherever you are in the world back to your own hospital bed and physicians at home. No co-pays, no deductibles, no disqualifying "pre-existing condition" clauses. You can also consult with Air Med's "travel medical professionals" and find qualified care right where you are. Plans start at $95 for short term trips.


Mark's Musings is a Habeas-certified spam free mailer. Subscribe, view past issues in the Archives, and help defray publishing costs at my web site. To contact Mark, click here. Testing, testing, 1,2,3. Is this thing on? You can forward or reprint "Mark's Musings" freely but please keep the credits attached. The credits like you better if you leave them on the post. And so do I. Original material and commentary © 2008 by Mark Raymond. I update this blog with a copy of the post daily and occasionally bonus material on the weekends. Look for the label that says "Weekend" and you can bring them all up with one click. My personal mission statement is John 3:30. Processed Cheese.


WORDS for YOUR WEEKEND: "The afternoon knows what the morning never suspected." (Cousin Woodman)

Thursday, August 14, 2008

Cloud Nine?

"We seek to remind people that clouds are expressions of the atmosphere's moods, and can be read like those of a person's countenance. Clouds are so commonplace that their beauty is often overlooked. They are for dreamers and their contemplation benefits the soul."

That is a small part of the manifesto from the Cloud Appreciation Society. Be sure you check out their photo gallery, which has more than 4,000 photos of clouds, including some that just took my breath away.

My wife and I hope to contemplate some clouds ourselves soon. Next week my vacation begins and the week after that, we are off on a super special 25th anniversary trip. I'll dish all the details next week.



He was a young man who hated to cook. She was a beautiful waitress who brought him food with a smile. He was in love from the moment she capped his drink.

Yet though he ordered take-out from her restaurant several times each week, he figured she didn't even know he existed. Then, one day after placing yet another "to go" order, he bravely asked if she needed to know his name.

"No," she said. "I remember you."

His spirit soared. He was on Cloud Nine. His heart skipped a beat when she handed him the take-out bag and their hands brushed each other. Inside the bag was his food and the sales slip. On it she had written in a delicate script, "Turkey sandwich, chips, medium Coke..."

But then his heart fell as he continued to read, "...for nerdy guy with bad haircut."

[Reader's Digest via Joe's Clean Laffs; retold by Mark Raymond]


WISDOM for YOUR WEEK: "Sing to God, sing praise to his name, extol him who rides on the clouds -- his name is the Lord -- and rejoice before him." (Psalm 68:4)


Mark's Musings is also available via email each weekday. Grab the silver lining of your own subscription by clicking here ... it's free!

Wednesday, August 13, 2008

Hollywood Science

Calling it "Oil 2.0," a scientific research company known as LS9 in Silicon Valley, California, has successfully bio-engineered a harmless strain of E Coli to feed on agricultural waste and secrete petroleum nearly pure enough to go from the lab right into your vehicle. They hope to have a demonstration factory up within two years and a full scale working plant by 2011. Their goal is to bring $140-a-barrel oil prices down almost two thirds, to $50 a barrel.

And you thought I was kidding.



No matter how many bullets per minute a gun can shoot, they will miss running humans.

The mass of a person drops substantially during free fall, making it easy to grab a bar, pole, or ledge.

Bond's Third Law: For every hero there is an unequal and poorly trained number of henchmen.

Supporting characters can contract a disease in any way, display symptoms within half a day, and die unexpectedly at crucial plot points.

The speed of a fireball can never exceed the speed of a human running.

Heroes are bullet-proof everywhere except on their arms.

Eastwood's Edict: If you feel lucky, you probably aren't.

The likelihood of tripping while running is inversely proportionate to the distance from the killer.

There is no gravity in China.

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


WONDER for YOUR WEEK: If time and space are relative, do we have to invite them to the reunion?


Mark's Musings is also sent via email each weekday. You can get your own subscription for free without any bioengineering skills by clicking here.

Tuesday, August 12, 2008


Next time you're on vacation, driving around rural America, and you happen to be on Interstate 80 in Iowa between Davenport and Iowa City, stop at the I-80 Truck Stop.

Why? Because it's the world's largest truck stop. It sits on 220 acres, which is twice the size of Disneyland, though not all of the land is developed, yet.

It sports a movie theater, a dentist and chiropractor, two dozen private showers, a barber shop, a car wash, a gift shop with over 75,000 items, and yes, a restaurant that serves almost 100 million cups of coffee each year. And it employees 450 people.


His new hybrid car was my friend's pride and joy. He was always bragging about it, boring his buddies to exasperation.

As he was giving a few of us a ride one day, he pontificated, "They should have a special lane for people who care about the environment."

"They already do," came a voice from the back seat. "It's called a sidewalk."

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


WORDS for YOUR WEEK: "Don't blow it -- good planets are hard to find." (Time Magazine)


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

Monday, August 11, 2008

Endangered Species

First of all, a big thanks to everyone who wrote with words of kindness and encouragement both about my wellness and my work on this ezine. Your appreciation really does play a huge part in what keeps me at this every day, nine years after I started.

But enough about me, on with the post.

Adrian Thompson takes all 60 of his "bloodthirsty foxhounds" on a walk every day on his property. Recently they found an abandoned fawn, only about one hour old, outside the front gates. What happened?

To the surprise of just about everyone, the pack adopted it. The Thompsons named the deer "Bam Bam," after Bambi, and every day it runs alongside the pack as they go about their walk. Next year Bam Bam will be relocated to a deer sanctuary.



The radio tag caught between your teeth should be the first clue.

The angry environmentalists picketing your table.

The hostess demands proof you don't work for the EPA.

Instead of choosing your seafood from a tank, the waiter looks both ways, then opens his jacket so you can choose from the selection sewn into the lining.

You order your fish poached and the waiter says, "Of course, but how would you like it cooked?"

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


WORD for YOUR WEEK: The Middle English word "heven" meant to lift, or to take. We know it as the word "heave." But in the same way as leave becomes left, or thieve becomes theft, or cleave becomes cleft, heave becomes today's word, "heft." Heft means something is weighty, though it also carries the social meaning of something serious, or important. One trash bin liner company has named one of their garbage bags "Hefty Bags," meaning they will hold heavy items, or a lot of material. Heft can also be used as a verb, meaning to lift something.


Mark's Musings is also sent each weekday via email. Put the toothpick down and get your own subscription for free by clicking here.

Friday, August 08, 2008

Man Skills II

Q. I used to find "Mark's Musings" in my Inbox first thing every morning. Now it shows up at all manner of odd times during the day. What's up with that?

A. When I can, I write and schedule the post to be delivered around 2:00 a.m., give or take a few minutes, when Internet traffic is generally lighter. And it used to be that no matter how hard or how long my day was, I would still stay up - often into the wee hours of the morning - to make sure your post was there fresh and early every day. But lately I've decided to try and treat myself a little better, in hopes of living longer, and that means getting a little more sleep, and *that* means writing the post when I can find a hole in my schedule. I'll try to get it there for you as soon each day as I can, but there will be some days (like today), when it will come when I finish writing, whenever that may be. Thanks to everyone who wrote to ask about me!

Meanwhile, here's part two of a post that looks like it's written for men, but I have a hunch most women could take these tips to heart, as well.


Part the Second (of Three)

Understand quantum physics - Enough so that you could accept a quarter might, at some point, pass straight through the table when dropped. Read "The Quantum World: Quantum Physics for Everyone" by Kenneth W. Ford.

Feign interest - Good place to start? Quantum physics.

Make a bed.

Describe a glass of wine in one sentence without using the terms "nutty, fruity, oaky, finish, or kick" - I once stood in a wine store in West Hollywood where the owner described a pinot noir he favored as, "a night walk through a wet garden." I bought it. I don't know which was more right, the wine or the vision that he placed in my head.

Shuffle a deck of cards - I play cards with guys who can't shuffle, and they lose. Always.

Tell a joke - Here's one: Two guys are walking down a dark street when a mugger approaches them and, brandishing a gun, demands their money. They both grudgingly pull out their wallets and begin removing their cash. Just then, one guy turns to the other, hands him a bill, and says, "Here's that $20 I owe you." [Or any other joke you've read in Mark's Musings -- MR]

Speak to an eight-year old so they will hear you - Use his first name. Don't use baby talk. Don't crank up your energy to match his. Ask questions and wait for answers. Follow up. Concentrate on seeing the child as a person of his own.

Speak to a waiter so he will hear you - You don't own the restaurant, so don't act like it. You own the transaction. Don't speak into the menu. Make eye contact. Be confident. All restaurants have secrets - let it be known you expect to see some of them.

Speak to a dog so it will hear you - Go ahead, use baby talk.

Ask for help - Guys who refuse to ask for help are the most cursed men of all.

Say no.

Recite one poem from memory - Here's a good one by William Yeats:

When you are old and gray and full of sleep,
And nodding by the fire, take down this book,
And slowly read, and dream of the soft look
Your eyes had once, and of their shadows deep;

How many loved your moments of glad grace,
And loved your beauty with love false or true,
But one man loved the pilgrim soul in you,
And loved the sorrows of your changing face;

And bending down beside the glowing bars,
Murmur, a little sadly, how Love fled
And paced upon the mountains overhead
And hid his face amid a crowd of stars.

[Abridged for length and family-friendliness by Mark Raymond from an article by Leif Parsons in Esquire magazine; Part the Last next Friday]


Again, sorry the post is so late today ... I've been putting in a ton of overtime at the office, and I have to be there early again Saturday morning, plus our band concert last night sucked up a lot of my time and energy. No excuses, just explanations. I'll try to do better.

And I'll see you on Monday.



WEB SITE of the WEEK: Check out NASA's "virtual tour" through 50 years of space flight history at But drag your mouse around because there are hidden "Easter eggs" of material in each decade.


Mark's Musings is a Habeas-certified spam free mailer. Subscribe, view past issues in the Archives, and help defray publishing costs at my web site. To contact Mark, click here. To keep retail store personnel from asking if you need help, pick up or put at least one thing in your hand or basket. You can forward or reprint "Mark's Musings" freely but please keep the credits attached. The credits should never be given a day off. Original material and commentary © 2008 by Mark Raymond. I update my blog with a copy of this post daily and extra thoughts, the occasional video, and other things that go bump in the night on the weekends. Look for the label that says "Weekend" and you can bring them all up with one click. My personal mission statement is John 3:30. Keep those questions coming, folks!


WORDS for YOUR WEEKEND: "An opinion should be the result of thought, not a substitute for it." (Jef Mallett)