Tuesday, September 30, 2008


Wow. It's the end of September already. Only 85 more shopping days until Christmas.

Here's something I never thought about doing ... organizing your books together so that the titles make sense, in an odd, fun sort of way.

Just one more thing to put on my to-do list when I retire....


A visitor to a college campus stood next to his guide, admiring the new Hemingway Hall.

"It's a pleasure," the visitor said at last, "to see a building named for Ernest Hemingway."

"Actually, the building is named after Joshua Hemingway," replied the guide.

"Oh, really? Was Joshua Hemingway a writer, also?"

"Yes, indeed," said the guide. "He wrote a check."

[with thanks to Top Greetings]


WORDS for YOUR WEEK: "It is what you read when you don't have to that determines what you will be when you can't help it." (Oscar Wilde)


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

Monday, September 29, 2008

Sweet Potatoes

First it was our toys, and I said nothing because I wasn't a child.

Then they poisoned our pork, and I said nothing because I wasn't a pig.

Then they poisoned our baby formula, and I said nothing because I wasn't a baby.

Now they're poisoning our coffee and well, something must be DONE!


Every morning during our coffee break, my colleagues and I listened to the culinary disasters of a newly-married co-worker, who had never really cooked before and was now struggling to meet the demands of cooking for two. We always tried to share helpful hints and tips.

One day she asked us for step-by-step instructions on cooking sweet potatoes, one of her new husband's favorite dishes.

"I need your help," she explained, "because I've finally been able to make them sweet, but how do you make them orange?"

[Joe's Clean Laffs]


WORD for YOUR WEEK: How about a word about words? "Jargon" began life as an Old French word referring to the chattering of birds. Its current usage refers to technical, specialized words specific to your field of work that those who don't work there would have trouble understanding. (It would be as the chattering of birds to them, you see.) Here's an example of some postal jargon, "Run the trays in that APC through the CIOSS, cull the nixies up to 030, then take the DPS mail out to the carrier unit." See? Bird chattering.


Mark's Musings is also sent each weekday via email. Get your own normally-colored subscription for free when you click here.

Friday, September 26, 2008

Dreams of Death

So last night was the first with my new CPAP machine. Frankly, I didn't sleep well at all, but the sleep I did get was deeper, I think.

And I had a dream. One of those vivid dreams with details you remember long after you wake up. In fact, here it is 18 hours later and it still feels as if I just had it.

It's a Wednesday. I'm standing in the living room of a house with a large picture window. I'm holding a legal pad. There's nothing written on it. Around me there are boxes. It feels as if we've just moved in. And I've just won the lottery. I've called in to work and taken the rest of the week off. I'm feeling happier than I've felt in a long time.

Suddenly, out on the sidewalk, I see a large, dark figure with a black hooded cloak, carrying a scythe. It is Death. He is gliding along the sidewalk and as I watch he turns onto the walk leading to my house. He glides up the walk and through the front door without opening it.

He turns. We face each other. I ask, "Who have you come for?" A bony finger points right at me.

I say, "How?" I hear Death rattle off a complicated phrase that I cannot remember. I reply, "You mean I have an aortic bubble?" Death says, "Yes. But you'll feel no pain."

The scythe moves. It slices neatly through me, from my left clavicle down across my heart and out through my right hip.

The legal pad slips from my grasp. As my knees buckle and I start to fall, I overhear myself mumble, "At least there's no pain...."

And then I wake up. It's 4:54 in the morning and I'm
not going back to sleep.


I've read that dreams of death don't necessarily mean a physical death. In fact, they seldom do. But rather, something else in your life is coming to an end and the dream is your subconscious working it out in your brain while you sleep.

With last night being the first time I wore a CPAP mask at home while I slept, and knowing this is now something I will have to do for a very great while ... perhaps the rest of my life ... my "old sleep life" does, indeed, have to die. The boxes that surrounded me could exemplify all of the work I put into unpacking and setting up the CPAP machine that afternoon.

But you know what? That dream still scared the wits out of me. I wonder what I'll dream about tonight.

Computer Jargon

Researchers in the "Technology Enhanced Learning Group" at Britain's Durham University have just moved the real world one step closer to the world of Star Trek.

They've created an "interactive classroom" with a student desk you use like a touch-screen computer - though it looks a bit like Apple's iPhone or Sprint's new Instinct phone - and the teacher controls and coordinates the content.

The hot new theories in training and, indeed, any environment where learning needs to happen - including church and civic groups - are to move away from Instructor-led teaching to a much more interactive approach. The technology these desks provide facilitate that.

Best of all, the University is giving the software away to schools for free.



BACKUP - The opposite of go forward.

BATCH PROCESSING - Making a lot of cookies all at once.

BIT - 12 1/2 cents.

BUFFER - Programmer who works in the nude.

BUG - An elusive creature living in a program, making it act in negative ways at odd times. Note that "debugging" or removing these bugs from a program ends when the programmer gets tired of doing it, not when all the bugs are out.

CHARACTER DENSITY - The number of very weird people in the office, divided by the floor space.

COMPUTER - A device used to speed and automate errors.

CONSOLE - What one does to a depressed computer or programmer.

CURSOR - An expert in bad language.

KEYBOARD - An instrument used for entering errors into the computer.

LANGUAGE - A system of organizing and interpreting error messages.

LOOP - See "LOOP."

MICROCOMPUTER - One millionth of a computer.

PASSWORD - That nonsense bit of letters and numbers taped to your terminal.

PERFORMANCE - The speed at which a computer works. Or might work under certain circumstances. Or was rumored to be working at about a month ago.

STRATEGY - A long range plan whose merit cannot be evaluated until sometime after those who created it have left the organization.

USER - Someone requiring some form of rehabilitation.

[selected from Annoyances.org]


It's Homecoming Weekend for our local high school sports team, and my band plays on Sunday for a Youth Rally at a local campground. So we are, as always, busy once again, but in pleasant ways. May you enjoy your weekend as much.

I'll see you on Monday.



WEB SITE of the WEEK: You know how Netflix works, right? For a set fee each month, you get to rent a certain number of DVDs, take as much time as you want to watch them, then ship them back for free to get your next one. Well, now there's a pretty similar service, only for magazines (that you get to keep). At http://www.maghound.com/, you pay a monthly fee and then choose which magazines you want to receive. You're only obligated for one issue of the magazine at a time, and there are nearly 250 from which to choose.


Mark's Musings is still a Habeas-certified spam free mailer. Subscribe, view past issues in the Archives, and frolic all you want at my web site. To contact me and sooner or later get a reply, click here. To leave a voicemail that will improve your chances of being called back, leave your number at the beginning of the message, not the end. That way, if the listener didn't get your number the first time, he or she won't have to listen to your entire message again to get it, and are more likely to do so You can forward or reprint "Mark's Musings" freely but please keep the credits attached. The credits have recently begun using a CPAP machine to help them sleep more soundly, but don't think they still don't know when they're being lopped off the post. Original material and commentary © 2008 by Mark Raymond. I update this blog with a copy of this post daily and occasionally toss in 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. Had a really bad dream last night.


WORDS for YOUR WEEKEND: "Achievement is the knowledge that you have studied and worked hard and done the best that is in you. Success is being praised by others for your achievements. That's nice but not nearly as important or as satisfying. Always aim for achievement, not success." (Helen Hayes, paraphrased)

Thursday, September 25, 2008

My Neighbor

Talk about your money makeover. America's currency has been going through a facelift in recent years ... new twenties, ten and five dollar bills, state quarters, nickels, and new Presidential dollar coins.

Now it's the penny's turn.

There's a link there that will give you a sneak peek at the four new back-penny designs, in honor of the 200th anniversary of Lincoln's birthday next February.


I was talking with my neighbor the other day. He mentioned they were thinking of moving.

"Oh?" I replied, trying to get more information. "Better job? Don't like the neighborhood? The schools?"

"Oh, we like the house just fine," he says, "but the landlord asks too much for the rent."


"Yup. Last month he asked five times."

[from Laugh Letter]


WISDOM for YOUR WEEK: "So do not throw away your confidence; it will be richly rewarded. You need to persevere so that when you have done the will of God, you will receive what he has promised." (Hebrews 10:35-36)


Mark's Musings is also sent each weekday via email and you can still get your own subscription. Click here ... it's free!

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Cafeteria Fun

In the sci-fi fantasy movie Jurassic Park, scientists drilled into the body of a mosquito preserved in amber for eons, and created dinosaurs from the DNA they found in its blood.

But in the real world, we're apparently a little more into what might market well. California scientist Raul Cano drilled into ancient amber, removed over 2,000 types of bacteria, made yeast from them, then promptly brewed his own beer and started up the "Fossil Fuels Brewing Company."

And you thought I was kidding.



Have a "Name That Semi-Digestible Pig Part" contest.

Sculpt a replica of your gym teacher out of mashed potatoes.

Eat blindfolded.

Start a pool on how many days in a row today's leftovers can be recycled into something else tomorrow.

Medication. Lots of heavy medication.

Bake one hot lunch each day with a "Get Out of School/Work Free" card in it.

Have Ty Pennington give it an Extreme Makeover.

Save it for your next chemistry class experiment.

Give placards to a few friends and rate the cafeteria ladies on hairnet styles and decorations.

Solve the mystery meat.

[Chris White's Top Five on Food with additional material by Mark Raymond]


WONDER for YOUR WEEK: Why do they say something is "80 proof"? How much proof do you need to know that it's liquor?


Mark's Musings is also sent each weekday via email. Put that drink down and get your very own subscription by clicking here.

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Bad Computer

You know how you can make out a face on the surface of a full moon? Or sometimes on your toast?

Well, this being the Internet, that means there's now a blog that captures images of all that stuff.

It is titled, appropriately enough, "Faces in Places."


A colleague was obviously having a difficult time with getting her desktop computer to do what she wanted.

In the midst of her moaning and fussing, I walked by her cubicle, saw her lean in toward the monitor screen, and overheard her say, "I know one thing. If I had a glass face like you do, I'd sure behave better."

[Wit and Wisdom]


WORDS for YOUR WEEK: "I have never been aware before how many faces there are. There are quantities of human beings, but there are many more faces, for each person has several." (Rainer Maria Rilke)


Mark's Musings is also sent each weekday via email and face it, you can get your very own subscription for free by clicking here.

Monday, September 22, 2008

Baby Talk

Welcome to the first day of Autumn. Some of the leaves on a few trees have already started changing here in Michigan.

Meanwhile, in the "Absolutely-Nothing-Is-Good-For-You" Dep't, a new study says that taking prenatal vitamins to protect your child from birth defects may cause him or her to have asthma later in life.

Gracious, what's a mother to do?


One fine afternoon I was out with my baby in his stroller, just enjoying the scenery. I would chat to him as we walked, pointing out this tree and that bird, and marveling at all the wonderful colors.

Up ahead, a man walking his dog approached and I leaned over into the baby's carriage, excitement filling my voice, saying, "See the doggie? See the doggie?"

For a moment, I suddenly felt foolish for talking to my baby as if he could understand me.

But that was the moment the man with the dog leaned down, patted the dog's side, and said, "See the baby? See the baby?"

[first seen in Clean Humor Digest]


WORD for YOUR WEEK: Our old friend Latin gave us the word "unda," which meant "wave." "Undula" meant a little wave. We now use it as the word "undulate," which is something that waves back and forth, or vibrates. As in, "The palm trees were undulating wildly in the hurricane-strength winds."


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Friday, September 19, 2008

The Taser

History is being made near Geneva, Switzerland.

That's where the "Large Hadron Collider" is located, and it was switched on last week.

A Super Collider is a very large, round machine. This one has a circumference of about 17 miles. It is buried about 300 feet below the ground and part of it dips down into France. Inside, scientists shoot a stream of protons in one direction around the collider very fast. Very fast, indeed. They travel the entire 17 miles just over 11,000 times per *second.* That, my friends, nearly approaches the speed of light. After that, they will fire up another stream of protons traveling just as fast, but in the other direction. And then slowly, very slowly, they will bring the streams into a head-on collision. (Hence the name "Super Collider.")

No one knows for sure what will happen. Some extreme theories say the collision will produce an anti-matter black hole and the world, as we know it, will come to a spectacular end. What the scientists behind the project say will happen is that an explosion very similar in nature to the "Big Bang" that created the universe will occur, but on a much smaller scale, of course. They expect the particle collision to generate temperatures more than 100,000 times hotter than the sun. To keep things from melting, liquid superfluid helium is impacted around the collider, keeping the temperature of the machine more than a negative 450 degrees Fahrenheit.

If it works like they hope, the world's energy crisis could be over. And science will have a few more answers. And Christians will have a few more reasons to marvel at the power and ingenuity of our great God.

By the way, the news story, which includes some enlightening comments by others at the bottom, is here.


I was looking for an unusual gift for my wife's birthday, and what I finally found was a 50,000 volt pocket/purse-sized Taser gun. The effects of the Taser were supposed to be short-lived, with no long term adverse consequences for either the user or the assailant, but it would incapacitate the attacker long enough for my wife to retreat to safety. WAY TOO COOL, I thought.

So I bought the device and brought it home. I loaded a handful of AA-batteries into it and pushed the button. Nothing. I was disappointed. But I quickly learned that if I pushed the button AND pressed the tongs against a metal surface, it would make that blue arch of electricity. Awesome!

I have yet, however, had the courage to explain to my wife what that burn spot on the front of her microwave is.

So there I was, home alone with this new toy, and I'm thinking that it can't be all that bad since it's powered by AA-batteries. Can it?

Our cat, Gracie, watched me as I sat in the recliner, reading the directions and starting to think that I needed to try this thing out on a real flesh-and-blood target. I'll admit that I thought about giving Gracie a very quick zap, but then thought better of it. She is, after all, a very sweet cat. But then I started thinking that if I'm going to give this thing to my wife as protection against a mugger, I wanted some assurance that it would do the job and live up to its advertisements. Was I wrong to think this?

Now, I'm sitting in my shorts and a tee shirt with my reading glasses perched delicately on the bridge of my nose, directions in one hand, Taser in the other. The directions said a one-second burst would shock and disorient your assailant; a two-second burst would cause muscle spasms and a major loss of bodily control; and a three-second burst would supposedly cause your assailant to flop around on the ground like a fish out of water. Any burst longer than three seconds would just be a waste of batteries.

All the while I'm reading this, I'm looking at this little device that measures no more than five inches long, powered by a small handful of AA-batteries, and I'm thinking to myself, "No possible way can it do this." I'll try to piece together what happened next from my shaky memory of the events.

I'm sitting there in the recliner, Gracie is looking at me with her head cocked - as if to say, "don't do it, dummy" - and I'm talking myself into believing that a little one-second burst from such a tiny thing can't hurt that bad. So I decided to try it. I touched the prongs to my naked thigh, pushed the button, and HOLY WEAPONS OF MASS DESTRUCTION!!!

I'm pretty sure Jessie Ventura ran in from a side door, picked me up out of the recliner, and body-slammed us both onto the floor, over and over again. I vaguely recall waking up, on my side, in the fetal position, with tears in my eyes, body soaking wet, both nipples on fire, drooling, and my left arm tucked under my body in the weirdest position. And my legs were still tingling. The cat was standing over me, licking my face, meowing encouragement to "do it again, do it again!"

NOTE: If you ever feel compelled to try a Taser out on yourself, let me pass on one word of caution: There is no such thing as a "one-second burst" when you zap yourself. Your hand will spasm and you will clench that thing until it's knocked out of your hand by a violent thrashing around on the floor. A three-second burst would be considered a conservative estimate of what will happen.

A few minutes later, though I can't be sure since time was a relative thing at that point, I collected what few wits I had left, sat up, and surveyed the landscape. My bent reading glasses were hanging off one corner of the picture frame above the fireplace. How'd they get up there? My triceps, right thigh, and both nipples were still twitching. My face felt as if it had been shot full of Novocain, and my bottom lip weighed approximately 88 pounds.

The gun works, people. Oh, it works just fine.

By the way, has anyone seen my toenails?

[going 'round the 'Net since 2004; selected from Good Clean Funnies List and a separate submission from list member Philip C.; heavy editing and some rewriting by Mark Raymond]


My daughter's community choir has a small concert on Sunday afternoon, and we'll be busy once again with the ice cream scoopers at our local Renaissance Festival on Saturday. We are such slaves to fundraising. But hey, at least we're not at work.

I'll see you on Monday.



WEB SITE of the WEEK: At http://www.healthinspections.com/, you can enter your city, state, or ZIP code and be directed to a list of other websites that will provide you copies of actual health inspection reports to restaurants in your area. The site also headlines gross violations from around the nation that are newsworthy, and has a video section covering special reports ... including the infamous one where we're told that anyone who has a restaurant put a lemon in their drink might as well just drink a cupful of bacteria.


Mark's Musings is still a Habeas-certified spam free mailer. Subscribe, view past issues in the Archives, and frolic all you want at my web site. To contact me and sooner or later get a reply, click here. To mix business with pleasure, have this post delivered to your work address! You can forward or reprint "Mark's Musings" freely but please keep the credits attached. This means you. Original material and commentary © 2008 by Mark Raymond. I update this blog with a copy of the posts daily and occasionally toss in 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. And the road goes ever on...


WORDS for YOUR WEEKEND: "What youth deemed crystal, age finds out was dew." (Robert Browning)

Thursday, September 18, 2008

Protective Parenting

So, awhile back, I finally broke down and opened a Facebook account. I'd managed to completely stay away from MySpace, but Facebook sucked me in. Honestly, I hardly ever go there or update my profile - which kind of defeats the purpose of participating in a social networking site - but there's just too many other irons in too many other fires to give it as much time as I might like.

I say all this as prelude to telling you about a new social networking site: It's called "TotSpot" and it's for babies and toddlers.

That's right, babies and toddlers. This is what the world is coming to.

Granted, the pages are password-protected so the only "social network" you connect to is the one you create by giving out the login info to family and friends, but the site's creators say they were inspired by Facebook.



Instead of seat belts, your minivan has seat straight jackets.

To guard against choking, you're still serving pureed baby food. To your teenagers.

You make fun of the mom on "Everybody Loves Raymond" because she's too lax.

All family pets are de-clawed, neutered, and fitted with rubber dentures.

You make your kids wear protective head gear. Over their bicycle helmets. For a walk down the street.

You've injected GPS tracking chips under the skin behind each of your kid's ears.

You've sewn a protective layer of bubble wrap into all of their clothes.

[from Chris White's Top Five on Parenting]


WISDOM for YOUR WEEK: "Be imitators of God, therefore, as dearly loved children." (Ephesians 5:1)


Mark's Musings is also sent each weekday via email. You can very carefully get your own subscription. Click here ... it's free!

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

The Plan

My daughter (pictured) turns 14 today. She recently acquired her first boyfriend and just broke up with him this past weekend. No hearts broken, it was just a distance thing, and they're both still friends. But I think Mom and I are breathing easier. She's still a little young for that sort of relationship, at least in our minds.

But you know, it's not *my* birthday that makes me feel old, it's my kid's birthdays. (Can I get an "Amen"?)

By the way, she got her cell phone back at the end of July. (For those of you who remember the story of her $1,500 bill.) She's in ninth grade, she's on the swim team, she sings with a community choir, she goes to the youth group at our church, she struggles through her homework every night ... so, all things considered, her life is full and life goes on here.

Thanks for letting me share some of it with you every day.


A young man went into a drug store one day and purchased three boxes of chocolates: a one pound box of plain chocolates, a three pound box of assorted chocolates, and a five pound box of deluxe candies.

Curious, the druggist asked the boy why he needed all that chocolate.

"I have a date tonight," the young man explained, "with a girl I've been wanting to see for months. I'm going to her house for dinner and, after dinner, we'll stroll through the garden in her backyard. If she lets me sit in the swing with her and put my arm around her, I'll give her the one pound box. If she lets me kiss her, I'll give her the three pound box. And if she kisses me back a few more times, I'll give her the deluxe five pound box!"

The druggist agrees his plan is ingenious, and wishes him well.

That night when the boy arrived for dinner and the family sat down, the girl's father asked him to say a prayer over the meal. The young man prayed and prayed and prayed until finally his date had to elbow him in the side to get him to stop.

Later, as they sat on the swing in the backyard, she said, "I didn't know you were so religious."

To which he replied, "And I didn't know your Daddy was the druggist!"

[AndyChap's The_Funnies via Keith Todd's Sermon Fodder]


WONDER for YOUR WEEK: If you ate equal amounts of white chocolate and dark chocolate, could you call that a balanced diet?


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

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

Hurricane Quiz

Sorry the post is so late today, troops.

But hey, September is National Preparedness Month.

Prepared for what? Let's say "everything."

So, get ready.



How is a hurricane's name selected?
1. They're named after other sources of big winds ... usually Congresspeople.
2. The names are submitted by bitter divorced folks.
3. Selected at random from a 1954 book of baby names.
4. It doesn't really matter and the hurricane just doesn't care.

What do they call the most severe hurricane?
1. A Category 5.
2. Elmer.
3. Costly.
4. An insurance agent's worst nightmare.

If Hurricane Guido with wind speeds of 104 mph leaves the NW African coast on Wednesday at 7:07 a.m. and is traveling west at 16 mph and Hurricane Imelda with wind speeds of 93 mph leaves Key West at 24 mph on Thursday at 11:32 a.m., when will they meet?
1. Saturday at noon, but their luggage would be in Paris.
2. Never, it's a trick question. There are no outgoing hurricanes from Key West. They are only equipped for incoming.
3. Never. Imelda doesn't want anything to do with Guido. He never stops for directions.
4. Sunday morning at a fast food restaurant in Puerto Rico. I think it's called Windy's.

You're flying in a small, single-engine plane. You look up and see a hurricane directly in front of you. What's your first thought?
1. Who's got the right of way here?
2. Is my insurance paid up?
3. Looks like I'm going to miss "Grey's Anatomy" tonight.
4. I've gotta change my shorts!

If a hurricane is coming, what should you NOT do?
1. Start those remodeling plans you've been putting off.
2. Put the dog out.
3. Cancel your homeowner's insurance.
4. Hit the beach!

[selected from LadyHawke's Jokes with heavy weapons-grade editing by Mark Raymond]


WORDS for YOUR WEEK: "The person who is waiting for something to turn up might start with their shirt sleeves." (Garth Henrichs)


Mark's Musings is also sent each weekday via email. You can get your very own subscription for free by clicking here. Are you ready for that?

Monday, September 15, 2008


Well, the remnant of Hurricane Ike blew through our fair state this weekend, sparking flash flood warnings and raining out a good part of the Renaissance Festival.

Which meant that for a welcome change, the Mrs. and I did pretty much a whole lot of nothing.

Including preparing any material for the post. So just the joke today.



Chickens make lousy baseball players. All they can hit are fowl balls.

A group of women who used peroxide to turn their hair blonde were causing a big ruckus at the ballgame, but to downplay the incident, the headlines merely said, "The Bleachers Went Wild!"

When that new film about Camelot came out a few years ago, we wouldn't let our children see it. Too much Saxon violence.

If a pretty woman loses her watch, does that make her a timeless beauty?

Lubricating oil wasn't invented until 1895. Before that, I guess, people were just squeaking by.

As I get older, I'm going to stop eating natural foods. I need all the preservatives I can get.

I was having lunch one day with a friend, a highly respected circuit court judge, who mentioned that his father had worked as the publicist for Sonny and Cher. He had continued working with Sonny even after their divorce, and talked of how bitter Sonny had become about the whole thing. He had instructed my friend's father to cut up all the remaining publicity photos, so that only Sonny remained in the picture. At this point I told my friend that he had done quite well for himself, considering his humble beginnings. "I don't understand," he replied. "Well," I explained, "considering that you were raised as the son of a Cher cropper....."

[JokeMaster, Top Greetings, and Joe's Clean Laffs]


WORD for YOUR WEEK: The Latin noun "culmen" meant "top." When used in the form "culminare," it meant "to crown" something or someone (putting the crown on the *top* of the person). It was first put into use as the word "culminate" by astronomers in the 16th century. When a planet or star culminates, it reaches the peak - or top - of its orbit, so that it is directly overhead, or at the highest point from the horizon. These days we tend to use the word in its figurative sense, which means that someone or something has reached a climactic or decisive point, as in, "Weeks of civil unrest culminated in a protest march."


Mark's Musings is also sent each weekday via email. Keep groaning with me by getting your own subscription for free when you click here.

Sunday, September 14, 2008

Mark of the Eagle Episode 4

And here's your final installment, as promised.

You can find the entire series at http://www.markoftheeagle.com ... though it is a Flash-heavy site, so give it some time to load.

Saturday, September 13, 2008

Mark of the Eagle Episode 3

I should have posted this last weekend, but here's Episode Three. I'll post the final installment tomorrow.

"Margarita Mama." Hah!

Friday, September 12, 2008

A Better Life

The folks at Real Age say you can knock more than 15 years off your "real" age by hanging out with your friends and enjoying fun, happy, social interaction.

They want you to lead a balanced life all the time, so don't just wait until the weekend to get with the people whose company you enjoy, hook up with them at midweek, too, if you can.

It's fun for you, fun for them, and you'll all live longer.



Take a 10-30 minute walk every day, if you are physically able to do so. Think of something that makes you smile and SMILE! It is a good antidepressant.

Sit in silence for at least 10 minutes every day. Buy a lock, if you must.

Buy a digital video recorder. Tape your late night shows. GET MORE SLEEP.

Spend time with people over the age of 70 and under the age of 7.

Eat more food that grows on plants than food manufactured *in* a plant.

Clear as much clutter from your house, your car, and your desk as you can. You will find yourself with extra energy for doing other things.

Realize that life is a school and YOU ARE HERE TO LEARN. It's amazing what that does to your perspective when problems crop up.

Make peace with your past so it can stop spoiling your present.

When you come to a crisis, gauge your response by this standard: "How much will this matter in five years?"

What other people think of you is NONE OF YOUR BUSINESS.

Get up. Dress up. Show up. No matter how you feel.

The best is yet to come. Believe it.

When you are really sick, your job won't take care of you. Your friends will. Stay in touch!

[submitted by list member Cheryl]


Another weekend staffing the ice cream booth at our local Renaissance Festival. This weekend, however, scenes are being filmed on the grounds for a new Jack Black/Lindsay Lohan film to be released in 2009. It's tentatively called "Ye Olde Times" from what I can gather on the Web. I may get the "scoop" on a celebrity! (Well, only if I'm clumsy.)

I'll see you on Monday.



WEB SITE of the WEEK: Ever wonder how to clean odds and ends? Like a remote control? Or a chandelier? Silk Flowers? At http://www.howtocleanstuff.net/ you'll find all this information and much, much more. Their categories range from "The House" to "Automotive" to "Outdoors" to "People and Pets."


Mark's Musings is still a Habeas-certified spam free mailer. Subscribe, view past issues in the Archives, and frolic all you want at my web site. To contact me and sooner or later get a reply, click here. To help my son find a job, write soon! You can forward or reprint "Mark's Musings" freely but please keep the credits attached. Credit thievery is a crime and drives everyone's insurance rates up. Original material and commentary © 2008 by Mark Raymond. I update this blog with a copy of this post daily and occasionally toss in 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. Our daughter is ill. But she'll get better.


WORDS for YOUR WEEKEND: "The most extraordinary thing in the world is an ordinary man and an ordinary woman and their ordinary children." (G.K. Chesterton)

Thursday, September 11, 2008

Post #300: Old Veteran

Patriot's Day, 2008. Seven years after those tragic, terrible acts of terrorism. Remember that there is a moment of silence at 8:46 a.m. EST.

Today, a remnant of those events survives to rise and serve America once again.

The assault ship USS New York has a reinforced bow made from nearly 8 tons of scrap metal salvaged from the World Trade Center. It's the fifth in a new class of warship that is designed specifically for missions against terrorists. Other ships still to follow are the Arlington (where the Pentagon is located) and the Somerset. (Named for Somerset County, Pennsylvania, where United Flight 93 crashed.)

Though the New York won't be commissioned (put into active service) until next year, she was christened earlier this year, in March. Check out the Media Gallery pages. And thanks to list member Carol K. for giving me the heads up on this.


When I worked as a medical intern in a local hospital, one of my patients was an elderly man with a thick accent. It took me some time to understand that he had no insurance coverage.

One thing he had made clear was that he was a World War II veteran, so I had him transported to the Veteran's Administration hospital, where he'd be eligible for benefits.

The next day my patient was back, with a note from the VA: "Right war, wrong side."

[my thanks to Reader's Digest]


WISDOM for YOUR WEEK: "Wisdom is better than weapons of war, but one sinner destroys much good." (Ecclesiastes 9:18)


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Wednesday, September 10, 2008

Indian Dolls

SHAMELESS SELF-PROMOTION DEP'T: Mark's Musings is currently going out each day to about 500 gentle souls. I certainly hope it's also being read by approximately that many. But let's continue to spread the good word about what I do here by inviting a friend to join our family of readers. Let this be a reminder to forward an issue this week to someone you think might enjoy my special brand of news, notes, laughs, and miscellany. Thank you!

By the way, I took the suggestion from several of you and uploaded about three dozen of our Alaska photos to a public album online so you can see them in their mega pixel goodness. You'll find them here.


Artifacts and gifts for tourists are a major portion of an Indian reservation's economy. Thousands of visitors tour reservations each year and will not leave without purchasing at least one memento of traditional Indian culture.

One enterprising Native American was able to outsell all of his competitors in the category of wooden dolls by selling them at a fraction of the cost others had to charge for them.

Upon examining his dolls closely, they found that where hard wood was traditionally used, this Native American would use cheap pine on which he glued thin pieces of fine mahogany, thus being able to produce the dolls at an incredibly reduced price.

While he claimed his dolls were still authentic Indian dolls, his competitors complained that they were only...

...cheap Sioux veneers.

[Net 153s Smile A Day]


WONDER for YOUR WEEK: Shouldn't honey come in containers shaped like bees instead of bears?


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Tuesday, September 09, 2008


A company called San Base Studio in Toronto, Canada, has created something it calls "Digital Dynamic Painting." It's digital because it uses computer technology; it's dynamic because it constantly changes, and it's painting because it's art. And they claim it's never the same picture twice. If you're a traditionalist, you can also get printed pictures in super-high-definition resolution.

Wall units start at $695. You can also get the technology with a DVD player for your company's waiting room.

By the way, before everyone writes to comment on it, there's an small misspelling in the banner on the site. I guess it's just a reminder that these people are artists, not English majors.



Being pretty new to computers, I was learning some of the little programs that came with it, and using the Paint program, I managed to create a very credible "still life" painting of a basket of fruit. After admiring it for awhile, I made a color print of it and mailed it to my grown daughter.

She called when it arrived.

"Isn't it good?" I asked.

She chuckled and in a voice that reminded me of my own so many years ago, she said, "Mom, it's beautiful. We put it on the refrigerator."

[Syman Says]


WORDS for YOUR WEEK: "Every child is an artist. The problem is how to remain an artist once we grow up." (Pablo Picasso)


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

Monday, September 08, 2008


Well, my friends, all your mortgages are now all OUR mortgages.

Yesterday the U.S. Government officially took financial giants Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac into conservatorship.

MSNBC says the deal could cost taxpayers - umm, that would be us - billions of dollars.

But the good news is that it's still cheaper and, apparently, better for the whole country than letting them both go belly up.


Tired of constantly having to balance her grown son's checkbook, Cindy told him she would only look at it if he spent an evening trying to wrestle it into shape.

A couple of days later, after spending hours working on it, her son showed up at the door, exclaiming, "Yes! I've done it! I made it balance!"

Impressed, Cindy took the book in hand to have a look for herself.

"Let's see," she says, "$550 for your rent ... $100.50 for your utilities ... $50 for your cell phone ..." but then her brow wrinkled as she read the last entry. "What's this one? $65.32 for ESP?"

"Oh, that," her son answered, "it means 'Error Some Place!' "

[first seen in JokeMaster; edited by Mark Raymond]


WORD for YOUR WEEK: Anu Garg's Word A Day just taught me a new term: a "Chinese Auction" - which seemingly doesn't have anything to do at all with China or the tradition and history of its people - is a combination auction and raffle. You start out by purchasing raffle tickets, then, at the auction, you bid however many tickets you want. However, all the tickets bid are put into a box and one is randomly drawn out, and that person receives the item up for sale. So the more tickets you bid, the greater your chance of being the winner, but it's not guaranteed.


{Today's joke reminds me of a story told about Vin Scully, longtime Los Angeles Dodgers baseball announcer. One of his fellow commentators was looking over his scorecard one day and noticed the term, "WW." When asked about it, Scully replied that it meant "Wasn't Watching." -- MR}

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Friday, September 05, 2008

Mindset List 2012

My daughter went back to school this week, which means it's time for my annual visit to the Beloit College "Mindset List."

This humble university, set in its namesake town of Beloit, Wisconsin, strives to give its faculty an understanding of the cultural mindset of the freshman streaming through their doors each fall.

It's an exercise in memory and history for the rest of us, and taking a moment to realize how quickly the years have fallen away.

So, for the class of 2012, here's what they grew up with (and without) and perhaps this will give you a better handle on understanding why some young college students act the way they do.


Class of 2012

Since they were in diapers, karaoke machines have been annoying people at parties.

GPS navigation systems have always been available.

Coke and Pepsi have always used recyclable plastic bottles.

Electronic filing of tax returns has always been an option.

WWW has never stood for World Wide Wrestling.

Films have never been X-rated. Only NC-17.

Wayne Newton has never had a mustache.

IBM has never made typewriters.

There has always been Pearl Jam.

The "Tonight Show" has always been hosted by Jay Leno.

Caller ID has always been available on phones.

They have never heard anyone ask, "Want me to check under the hood?"

Soft drink refills have always been free.

[see the complete list here; all 60 items]


My daughter has a swim meet tomorrow, and a good friend's daughter is getting married tomorrow, followed by the kickoff Sunday of the fall church season and the more literal kickoff of the National Football League, as the majority of teams will play on Sunday. In short, another busy weekend.

I'll see you on Monday.



WEB SITE of the WEEK: If you thought Alaska was gorgeous, try looking clearly and deeply into outer space. At http://hubblesite.org/gallery/album/entire_collection/, you can. The Hubble Telescope has catalogued 1,169 photos of galaxies, solar systems, nebulae, stars, and other cosmic whatnot and has even broken them down into handy designations, such as wallpaper, wall murals, movies, and such. And on October 8, shuttle Atlantis lifts off with a specific mission to upgrade the Hubble and make the images it captures even more spectacular.


Mark's Musings is still a Habeas-certified spam free mailer. Subscribe, view past issues in the Archives, or help defray - you do know what "defray" means, don't you? Because based on the number of contributions received, I'm pretty sure I'm confusing most of you - publishing costs at my web site. To contact me and yes, I'm a real person and do write back, click here. To scoop stinkin' hard ice cream all day, wear a wrist brace. You'll thank me later. You can forward or reprint "Mark's Musings" freely but please keep the credits attached. The credits are a fragile candle burning in the stiff wind of casual indifference, longing only to keep flame and wick burning together. (Boy, I really need some sleep.) 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 remains John 3:30. Does this post make my butt look big?


WORDS for YOUR WEEKEND: "It is only necessary to make war with five things: The maladies of the body, the ignorances of the mind, the passions of the body, the seditions of the city, and the discords of families." (Pythagoras)

Thursday, September 04, 2008

eMail Blessing

While recently corresponding with list member Lloyd D., he was bemoaning the fact that people are just too busy these days. He fears that our attention span is dwindling to the point where we need everything in 15 second slices and we are so constantly absorbed in doing things that our lives will pass without our ever realizing we had one! Being so near the crest of the "busy-ness" wave my own self, and knowing how it makes me feel, I can't help but agree with him.

And then, last night while catching up on some email, I ran across this quote, attributed to Blaise Pascal: "I have discovered that all the unhappiness of men arises from one single fact, that they cannot stay quietly in their own chamber."

And then, while researching topics for your daily post, I ran across this study, conducted by United Kingdom media researchers M-Lab.

Things don't look good for us technophiles. I think we should all strive to work in a little more unplugged time each day.



Peace be unto you, your computer, and the email you receive this day.

May the mail you receive not require you to multiply it tenfold or return it within a limited time frame.

May the mail you receive not require you to take action in order to prove your love, friendship, or concern for the welfare of the sender.

May the mail you receive not start with "Fw: Fw: Fw:" in the Subject line.

May the spammers who know your address all go on holiday at the same time.

May the mail you receive not require you to carry a steel plate on which to sit upon in theaters, motels, and other public places.

May the calls to action your mail encourages be real, true, forthright, and honest.

May your inaction to mail you receive not cause the death of monks, missionaries, mothers, or those who are misguided.

Above all of this, may peace and harmony be yours until tomorrow.

[with thanks to Pastor Tim's Clean Laugh; edits and additional material by Mark Raymond]


WISDOM for YOUR WEEK: "Submit to God and be at peace with him; in this way prosperity will come to you." (Job 22:21)


Mark's Musings is also sent each weekday via email. You may find peace in nabbing your own subscription by clicking here ... it's free!

Wednesday, September 03, 2008

Drug Problem

Are ultra-violet rays addictive? Medical researchers in Australia say yes, they are.

Personally, I burn very easily, so I tend to be a sun-avoider ... but now we can add "sun abuse" to our list of addictive behaviors, it seems.


I had a drug problem when I was young...

I was drug to church on Sunday morning.

I was drug to church for weddings and funerals.

I was drug to family reunions no matter what the weather was doing.

I was drug to school every day.

I was drug by my ears when I was disrespectful.

I was drug across my Daddy's knee when I was disrespectful and disobedient.

These drugs still course through my veins and affect everything I do and say, even today. They are stronger than marijuana, cocaine, or heroin, and if today's generation had this kind of drug problem, America might just be a better place.

[first seen in JokeMaster]


WONDER for YOUR WEEK: When does it stop being mostly cloudy and start being partly sunny?


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Tuesday, September 02, 2008

More New Books

I've put a few more Alaska pictures in the photo gallery on my website. I wish I could put the original size of the photo there so you could really see the grandeur and majesty we witnessed, but I'm mindful of your download times. Perhaps later I can work up a Flash or PowerPoint presentation for the web to give you a more realistic view of the trip.

Just the joke today, I'm running way past deadline.



"The Lion Attacked" by Claude Yarmoff

"The Art of Archery" by Beau N. Arrow

"Songs for Children" by Barbara Blacksheep

"Heart Surgery in Ireland" by Angie O'Plasty

"School Truancy Trends" by Marcus Absent

"I Was A Cloakroom Attendant" by Mahatma Coate

"Positive Reinforcement Techniques" by Wade Ago

"Things to Do at a Party" by Bob Frapples

"Just Stop Arguing" by Xavier Breath

[selected from Gentle Humor via Wit and Wisdom]


WORDS for YOUR WEEK: "I would be most content if my children grew up to be the kind of people who think decorating consists mostly of building enough bookshelves." (Anna Quindlen)


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

Monday, September 01, 2008

Never Give Up

Happy Labor Day to everyone here in the States! We're back home and nowhere near ready for our return to work, so it's a good thing we have this extra day to prepare ourselves mentally to once again enter the workday grind. You can catch all my blog posts from Alaska by clicking the word "vacation" in the label list on the right of the screen, if you're interested. But on to other issues....

So John McCain selects as his running mate the governor of Alaska while we were *in* Alaska. Coincidence? Hmmmmm.

I guess that means no matter how this presidential election falls out, we will be making history this November. Either we'll have our first African-American president, or our first female Vice-President.

Would that make her the Second Lady?



1831 - Failed in business.

1832 - Lost election for state legislature.

1834 - Failed again in business.

1835 - Sweetheart died.

1836 - Nervous breakdown.

1838 - Lost second political race.

1843 - Defeated for congressional seat.

1846 - Defeated for congress again.

1848 - Defeated for congress once again.

1855 - Defeated in U.S. Senate race.

1856 - Defeated in bid for Vice-President.

1858 - Defeated for U.S. Senate again.

1860 - Elected President.

Who is this person? Abraham Lincoln.

[first seen in Mikey's Funnies]


WORD for YOUR WEEK: Here's a word that society and fashion have combined to create: Burqini. It's a mashup of the words "burqa" and "bikini." A burqa (sometimes spelled burka or burkha) is a garment worn by Muslim women that covers their body from head to toe. A bikini is almost exactly the opposite, often covering only the bare necessities (pun unintended) of the female body. It was named after the Bikini atoll in the South Pacific, where the U.S. was conducting nuclear bomb tests after World War II. It's designer, Louis Reard, believed that the "cultural shockwave" it would cause when he revealed it in 1946 was on a similar level, and so the name stuck. The burqini was created for Muslim women who want to engage in water sports and activities, but still want to maintain their religious beliefs and customs while doing so. I've put a picture of one below.


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