Sunday, November 30, 2008

A Little Whine with My Cheese

So many things have let me down lately ... a DVD highly recommended by a friend - a good friend, who will remain one - was only a mild feel-good buzz for me.

A movie sequel that came highly recommended by many critics as better than the first ... meh. It had its moments, but honestly, a bit of a disappointment.

My regular auto repair place ... normally a bastion of reliability and quality work ... has had our van for more than a week, leaving the missus and I scrambling to arrange rides and rearrange schedules to accommodate the loss of a vehicle from our generally busy schedules. We are once again promised to have it back by tomorrow night.

I downloaded the latest version of Microsoft's "Photo Story" software, a fine program that lets you turn a gaggle of photographs into a true viewing delight with music, pans, zooms, close-ups, picture editing ... and after loading over 200 photos into it and working for five hours on a presentation covering my daughter's swim team season, the blamed thing saves it as a presentation for a cell phone-sized screen! Now I've got to spend several *more* hours reworking it into something her Coach can use at the Awards Banquet Monday evening.

And now the Girl Scouts have gone and messed with their "Thin Mint"® cookie. It crumbles upon the bite; no more snap to it. And what happened to the mint?


Life's Little Nuisances. Thank goodness my identity is secure in Christ, and not in the circumstances in which I find myself. Otherwise I'd be thinking someone had it in for me.


On a lighter note, you distaff readers will enjoy this true story.

We play a kind of continual gender war games in my work unit. Both sides give and take, win and lose. There's hardly ever any offense given or received, and we all seem to enjoy the friendly competition.

Well, last week we had an accounting snafu and three guys chewed it over for about 20 minutes trying to figure out the best solution. They had just about decided on a complicated resolution when Debbie chimes in with a simple, elegant solution.

I turned to her and said, in honest compliment, "Debbie, you're brilliant!"

She replied, "No, just a woman."


Have a good Sunday night. I've got to get back to work on that photo presentation.

Friday, November 28, 2008

G.K. Chesterton

100 years ago Gilbert Keith Chesterton published his book, "Orthodoxy" - a Christian apologetic that still stands the test of time. His work influenced such seminal authors as George MacDonald and C.S. Lewis.

G.K. Chesterton was a man of uncommon sense, belief, and wit. Christianity Today has a nice piece about him.




"Misers get up early in the morning; burglars, I am informed, get up the night before."

"A dead thing can go with the stream, but only a living thing can go against it."

"Fallacies do not cease to be fallacies because they become fashions."

"He is a sane man who can have tragedy in his heart and comedy in his head."

"Progress should mean that we are always changing the world to fit the vision, instead we are always changing the vision."

"The true soldier fights not because he hates what is in front of him, but because he loves what is behind him."

"There cannot be a nation of millionaires, and there never has been a nation of Utopian comrades; but there have been any number of nations of tolerably contented peasants."

"The Christian ideal has not been tried and found wanting; it has been found difficult and left untried."

"It's not that we don't have enough scoundrels to curse; it's that we don't have enough good men to curse them."

"The aim of good prose is for the words to mean what they say. The aim of good poetical words is to mean what they do not say."

"Impartiality is a pompous name for indifference, which is an elegant name for ignorance."

[selected from]


The Christmas season may now officially begin.

I'll see you on Monday.



WEB SITE of the WEEK: Many times my daughter has been reading a book assigned by her English and Creative Writing teachers, only to wind up leaving it at school. That's especially troubling when it happens over a long holiday weekend. Well, now maybe she can find it at, a site that has loaded many, many classic works by too many authors to try and list in this space. I read a statistic just the other day that said while print publishers are years away from worry, eBooks are making more and more inroads into the publishing industry each year. Get ahead of the curve at this week's site.


Mark's Musings is certified by the folks at Habeas to be spam-free. That means I'll never email you spam. Or any leftover turkey. To contact me and sooner or later get a reply, click here. My StepMom's birthday is this Sunday. She'll be 89. Somebody remind me to send a card today. You can forward or reprint "Mark's Musings" freely but please keep the credits attached. How many roads must the credits walk down before they stay attached to 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. Our van is in the shop again. There goes the Christmas money. Dang.


WORDS for YOUR WEEKEND: "I would maintain that thanks are the highest form of thought, and that gratitude is happiness doubled by wonder." (G.K. Chesterton)

Thursday, November 27, 2008

Life's Little Gratitudes, 2008

Happy Thanksgiving, everybody!

We'll be spending a good chunk of the day with extended family and the rest with our own little family of four. I'm looking forward to it. I hope you are looking forward to your day, as well.

And I hope I've captured your "little gratitudes" correctly. Thanks for all your submissions, folks. And the photos. And all the little side comments that came with. I read them all, loved them all, and only wish I had a better forum to share them all. (Gentle reminder that my blog also has a "Comments" feature ... feel free to share thoughts and such there. No photos yet, but lots of room for notes, stories, and other hobnobbing.)

So thanks again and if your submish isn't listed below, I probably didn't get it. Sorry!

Without further ado....


I'm Thankful For...

...the "nudge" our new puppy gives me about 3:00 a.m. every morning to go outside and go potty. Adopted from a local animal shelter, she's a new family member to love and one that loves us back three times more.

...sewer systems that finally work after a year of finding out what was wrong!

...our Lord and a wife that loves me; a home that is warm; and the ability to appreciate it all. good dog, who faithfully greets me with enthusiasm when I come home and gets ecstatic about our daily walks. truck. Hot cocoa after a morning of raking leaves.

...people who stop a long line of cars to let someone from the other lane in or to make a turn.

...a smile from a stranger; my happy dog; a good book.

...getting through a tricky intersection safely; the kind person who holds open a door for me when my hands are full.

...seeing my granddaughter's smile; holding my husband's hand.

...nappy wipes! (Diaper wipes ... good for cleaning up everything from poo to smooshed bugs.)

...finding that items on my grocery list are on sale, and I have coupons for a LOT of them.

...the dependable prayer warriors at church that you *know* will pray for your request. dog, Tiger, when he's searching for moles in the backyard. His "stalking" antics make me laugh right out loud!

...surprise visits from my son; unplanned "bumped into each other" conversations with neighbors.

...friends who give us a place to stay until we find work; health since we have no healthcare; God for being so good.

...a husband who's put up with me for the past 43 years.

...that I can be a happy, contributing member of society.

...emails from Mark. "Delete" button.

[submitted by list members Lisa H., Dave A., Cliff R., Will W., Sharon B., Randy W., Susan B., Steve P., Don C. from Down Under, Daffy H., Suzanne "Hershey Kitty," Judie "jckg46," Patricia K., and Mike B.]


WISDOM for YOUR WEEK: "I will praise God's name in song and glorify him with thanksgiving." (Psalm 69:30)


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Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Failing Practice

Need a quick little pick-me-up?


That's right, hum a merry little tune. Humming apparently affects the airflow between your sinuses and your nasal cavity in a way that produces a little boost of Nitric Oxide ... better known as laughing gas. It promotes healing and better blood flow to your skin, too.

But don't believe me, get it from the experts.


A doctor in Buffalo, New York wondered why his practice was declining. Fewer and fewer patients were coming to his office. He consulted a physician friend who agreed to spend a few days in the office, observing his methods.

After the first hour, his friend had the answer.

"Wilbur," he said, "you have got to stop humming the theme from 'Mission Impossible' while you're writing out a prescription!"

[with thanks to Charlie's Chuckles]


WONDER for YOUR WEEK: If Bob Dylan had ever sang with Peter, Paul and Mary, would they have canceled each other out and actually been IN tune?


Mark's Musings is also sent each weekday via email and if you don't know the words to your own subscription then hum along by clicking here.

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

More New Words

The American Dialect Society has opened nominations for its 2008 Word of the Year.

The word - or it could be a phrase - needs to be one that "best characterizes the year 2008."

I'm thinking that maybe the phrase needs to go retro this year and adopt the slogan from Bill Clinton's 1992 presidential campaign: "It's the economy, stupid."

What do you think?



Abdicake - Giving up the last piece of cake so someone else can eat it.

Blimple - A really large pimple.

Camouflush - The act of unnecessarily flushing a public toilet to mask embarrassing body sounds.

Dignitude - A dignified attitude.

Flabbygast - Overcome with astonishment that you haven't lost a pound despite rigorous dieting.

Hobnoblin - An overbearing or obnoxious person who insists on chatting idly with you.

Menuspect - To look closely at what other people in the restaurant have on their table while you're being escorted to your seat.

Petrifood - Food that's been ignored for so long it's become rock hard.

Scadink - That annoying build-up of ink at the end of a ballpoint pen.

Treeware - A hardback or soft cover book; written on paper. A paper document vs. an electronic document.

Waspafarian - A white male or female in dreadlocks.

[selected from Unwords]


WORDS for YOUR WEEK: "Language is the means of getting an idea from my brain into yours without surgery." (Mark Amidon)


In so many words, you can get your very own subscription for free here. Mark's Musings is also sent each weekday via email.

Monday, November 24, 2008


Remember to send me your suggestions for "Life's Little Gratitudes" to be published this Thursday. I'm not talking big stuff here, like getting over a heart attack or recovering from an addiction - though those are certainly things to be thankful about - but just little things, like the people who ring the bell at Salvation Army kettles reminding us that there are still people who care in this world, or indoor plumbing, or a well-placed wastebasket when you need one. You know, little things for which you are thankful.


Meanwhile, remember Life magazine? They were probably most well known for their photographs of celebrities and Americana. Published off and on since the 1880s, the magazine owns literally millions of archived photographs, 90% of which never made it to print. They are now working with Google to put these photographs on the web.

The magazine is also working to establish its own photo website here.


I went with my husband recently to get his haircut. While he was in the stylist's chair, I was flipping through a magazine and I saw a hairstyle that I thought would look good on me. I asked the stylist if I could take the magazine next door to a shop where I knew I could make a photocopy of the page.

"Okay," she replied, "but you'll have to leave some ID ... a driver's license or a credit card."

"But my husband is sitting right there getting his hair cut!" I protested.

"Yeah ... but we need something you'll come back for."

[Joe's Clean Laffs]


WORD for YOUR WEEK: Are you as nearsighted as I am? If so, you have "myopia" (my-OH-pee-uh) or you are myopic. The word comes from two Greek words: myein (to close) and ops (eye). Myopia can also refer to something - as in a strategic plan - being shortsighted, or lacking foresight or long range vision.


Mark's Musings is also sent each weekday via email. Picture yourself with your own subscription for free when you click here.

Friday, November 21, 2008

Bulwer-Lytton 2008

I see I missed the results of the 2008 Bulwer-Lytton Bad Fiction Contest, which were posted in August. Shame on me. I really should plan these posts out better.

Edward George Bulwer-Lytton was a Victorian novelist who penned the infamous, "It was a dark and stormy night" line. The faculty at San Jose State University have sponsored a "bad opening line" contest for the past 26 years.

Here are the best of this year's winners, or at least the ones that I enjoyed the most.



"Joanne watched her fellow passengers - a wizened man reading about alchemy; an over-sized bearded man-child; a haunted, bespectacled young man with a scar; and a gaggle of private school children who chatted ceaselessly about Latin and flying around the hockey pitch and the two-faced teacher who they thought was a witch - there was a story here, she decided."

"I'm convinced that the Doc is dealing drugs to most of the mining crew because they either can't stay awake, constantly sneeze, grin like maniacs, or won't look you straight in the eye (not to mention behaving like a moron), and they wonder why a dwarf gets grumpy!"

" 'Toads of glory, slugs of joy,' sang Groin the dwarf as he trotted jovially down the path before a great dragon ate him because the author knew that this story was a train wreck after he typed the first few words."

"The pancake batter looked almost perfect, like the morning sun shining on the cream-colored bare shoulder of a gorgeous young blonde driving 30 miles over the speed limit down a rural Nebraska highway with the rental car's sunroof open, except it had a few lumps."

"Like a mechanic who forgets to wipe his hands on a shop rag and then goes home, hugs his wife, and gets a grease stain on her favorite sweater - love touches you, and marks you forever."

"Carmen's romance with Broderick had thus far been like a train ride, not the kind that slowly leaves the station, builds momentum, and then races across the countryside at breathtaking speed, but rather the one that spends all day moving freight cars around at the local steel mill."

"Vowing revenge on his English teacher for making him memorize Wordsworth's 'Intimations of Immortality', Warren decided to pour sugar into her gas tank, but he inadvertently grabbed a sugar substitute so it was actually Splenda in the gas."

"Jan Svenson, having changed his fortune in the annual 'Scandinavian King of the Beach' contest in Santa Cruz with a bottle of black hair coloring and thus standing out in a sea of fair-haired rivals to win the coveted title, realized the ironic truth of the old adage, 'That in the kingdom of the blonde, the one dyed man is king.' "

"Creeping slowly over the hill, the sun seemed to catch the small village nestled in the valley by surprise, which is a bit unusual really, as you'd think that something with a diameter of 865,000 miles and a surface temperature of 5780 degrees Kelvin, and which is more normally seen from 93,000,000 miles away, wouldn't be able to creep anywhere, let alone catch anything by surprise."

"The day started out as uneventfully as any other, and continued thus to midday and from there it was nothing at all to ease into an evening of numbing, undiluted monotony that survived unmarred by even the least act of momentary peculiarity -- in fact, let's skip that day altogether and start with the day after."

[family-friendly selections made by Mark Raymond from the Bulwer-Lytton 2008 Contest; see all the entries here]


Well, Bonnie made it down to Florida and back home again safely. Yay!

Among the other treasures, pleasures, and unexpected measures that next week holds, one of them is Thanksgiving. Now, a few years ago I ran a very popular piece called "Life's Little Joys" where you folks supplied most of the material. What's a "little joy?" A baby's smile. Finding money in the pocket of clothes you haven't worn in awhile. Catching all the green lights on your commute. The smell of coffee. A cool pillow in summertime. You get the idea.

Well, now I'm of a mind to run something for next Thursday's Thanksgiving post I'm calling "Life's Little Gratitudes," where you send me the little things in life for which you're grateful. Like snooze alarms. Newspaper porch deliveries. A dependable car that starts on cold mornings. A hug from a friend. Stuff like that. I'll need your "little gratitude" as well as your first name and last initial, if you don't mind. Otherwise I'll just use your email name (without the ISP, to protect your privacy and Inbox). You have until next Wednesday. Start writing!

I'll see you on Monday.



WEB SITE of the WEEK: You can find lots of "do it yourself" (DIY) projects with a twist of science behind them at Everything from how to make a bookshelf that holds the books in upside down to building a LEGO® case for your flash drive to making a pair of duct tape shoes to unique recipes and things you can do with fabric. It's a creative DIY-er paradise. And there are lots of contests you can enter to win cool stuff. Registration is free.


Mark's Musings is certified by the folks at Habeas to be spam-free. That means I'll never email you spam. Or any other meat byproducts, for that matter. Subscribe, view past issues in the Archives, and click all you want at my web site. To contact me and sooner or later get a reply, click here. Joanne Woodward was the first person to receive a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame in 1960. There are now more than 2,100 celebrities enshrined there. I am not one of them. You can still forward or reprint "Mark's Musings" freely but please keep the credits attached. You must be a licensed blog writer to perform a creditectomy and then only after a second opinion from me. 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. "He must become more, I must become less."


WORDS for YOUR WEEKEND: "If God has forgiven us, I rather think we must forgive ourselves." (C.S. Lewis)

Thursday, November 20, 2008

Tobacco Warnings

Today is the "Great American Smokeout" event, a national anti-smoking campaign.

There's just no doubt, none at all, that smoking is harmful to both yourself and everyone around you. You know you should quit, and you know the people you love want you to quit, and hey, *I* want you to quit. I don't want to lose even one of my readers. I love all y'all.



Medical studies have proven you can still live a productive life with only one lung.

Most forms of cancer are treatable ... at least for awhile.

Smoking does not affect the fetuses of women who aren't pregnant.

Secondhand smoke only affects those who may breathe it.

Cigarettes don't kill people, matches do.

This is only one of *hundreds* of products that are slowly killing you.

[selected from; edits by Mark Raymond]


WISDOM for YOUR WEEK: "Blessed is the man who does not walk in the counsel of the wicked or stand in the way of sinners or sit in the seat of mockers. But his delight is in the law of the Lord, and on his law he meditates day and night." (Psalm 1:1-2)


Mark's Musings - choke, gasp - is also sent each weekday - wheeze - via email. Kaff! Kaff! (waving hand in front of face) Hey, put that thing out and then get your own subscription - for free - by clicking here.

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Military Date

You have until December 10 to participate in a worthy service project called "Holiday Mail for Heroes."

It's an initiative by the Red Cross and Pitney Bowes to make sure our servicepeople around the globe know how much we love and appreciate their efforts.

Thanks and a tip o'the Mark's Musings cap to list member Lavonne T. for the heads up.


The wife of a friend returned from a tour of duty in the Middle East. To celebrate, we decided to double date for a night out on the town. Proud of her service record, my friend suggested that his wife wear her uniform.

Not only did a patriotic taxi driver refuse to take money for the fare, but an appreciative citizen paid for their meal at the restaurant and later, at the theater, the manager upgraded our balcony seats to ones near the orchestra, for free.

Toward the end of the evening my friend turned to his wife and said, "I still get credit for taking you out, right?"

[Reader's Digest Humor in Uniform via Ed Peacher's Laughter for a Saturday]


WONDER for YOUR WEEK: Did Grant's troops march Leeward?


Drop and give me 20! Then get your own subscription by clicking here. (Mark's Musings is also sent each weekday via email.)

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Cocktail Napkin

This is bound to be good news for someone.

Research scientists at the University of Wisconsin discovered the reason for "the French paradox" ... you know, the one that says they have lower incidents of heart disease and cancer despite a high-fat diet. They cite a chemical called resveratrol, which grows naturally in grapes and thus, red wine.

Ah, but students at Rice University have taken that research and applied it to another adult beverage. They say they can create a beer that will fight cancer and heart disease.

Now, if only they could create one that fights stupidity after you drink it.



The horse and mule live 30 years
And nothing know of wine or beers

The goat and sheep at 20 die
And never taste of Scotch or Rye

The cow drinks water by the ton
And at 18 is mostly done

The dog at 15 cashes in
Without the aid of rum or gin

The cat in milk and water soaks
And then in 12 short years it croaks

The modest, sober, bone-dry hen
Lays eggs for nog, then dies at 10

11 animals are strictly dry
They sinless live and swiftly die

But sinful, ginful, rum-soaked men
Survive for three-score years and ten

And some of them, though very few
Stay pickled till they're 92

[Syman Says]


WORDS for YOUR WEEK: "This is one of the disadvantages of wine: it makes a man mistake words for thought." (Samuel Johnson)


Mark's Musings is also sent each weekday via email and upon sober reflection, I'm sure you'll want to get your very own subscription for free here.

Monday, November 17, 2008

Employment Quiz

Well, if we destroy the planet's environment, it looks like things will be okay, after all.

The Koreans have invented robotic plants.

(You know I'm being sarcastic about the whole "things being okay" thing, right?)


Bob and Pete had both applied for jobs at a large company and had to take an intelligence test. Though both men found the test easy, they each had to admit the last question stumped them for a bit.

"How did you answer that last question?" Bob asked.

"You mean the one that asked us to name a 14-letter word for someone in charge of a plant?"

"Yes, that's the one."

"Well," Pete says, "it stumped me for a moment, then I thought of 'Superintendent.' "

"Oh," says Bob. "You'll probably get the job."

"Why do you say that?" Pete asks.

"I put down 'Horticulturist.' "

[Pastor Tim's Illustrations; edited by Mark Raymond]


WORD for YOUR WEEK: In Ancient Greece, the word "lexis" was used to describe speech or speaking. From there the word "lexikos" was developed, which meant "of or belonging to words." Then it was just a short step to the word we use today, "lexicon," which is a collection of words and their meanings, usually in book form. It's another way to say dictionary.


Mark's Musings is also sent each weekday via email and in the simplest of words, get your own subscription for free when you click here.

Friday, November 14, 2008


There is just something wrong about this.

Putting a U.S. Postal Service collar on your dog or taking it to the vet in a mailbox-shaped carrier just seems wrong.

It's like capitulating to the enemy, or something.



Mary and her husband Jim had a dog named Lucky. Lucky was a real character. Whenever Jim and Mary had company come over for a weekend visit, they would have to warn their friends not to leave their luggage open because Lucky would help himself to whatever struck his fancy.

Inevitably, one of their guests would forget and something would turn up missing. Mary or Jim would trudge down to Lucky's box in the basement and there the "treasure" would be, amid all of Lucky's other favorite toys. Lucky always stashed his toys in his box and he was very particular that they stay in the box.

Now, in the course of life going on, Mary discovered that she had breast cancer. Something inside told her she was going to die of the disease. In fact, she became certain that it was fatal.

Mary scheduled a double mastectomy, fear riding her shoulders. The night before she was to go into the hospital, she cuddled up with Lucky, and a thought struck her. "What would happen to Lucky?" Although the three-year old dog got along with Jim all right, he was definitely Mary's dog, through and through. "If I die, Lucky will feel abandoned," Mary thought. "He won't understand that I didn't want to leave him." The thought made her sadder than contemplating her own death.

The surgery turned out to be harder on Mary than her doctors had anticipated and she remained hospitalized for over two weeks. Jim took Lucky on his evening walk faithfully, but the little dog's head just drooped, and he was constantly whining and miserable.

Finally the day came for Mary to leave the hospital. When she arrived home, she was so tired she couldn't even make it up the stairs to her bedroom. Jim made his wife comfortable on the couch and left her there to nap. Lucky stood watching Mary but refused to come to her when she called him. This, of course, made Mary very sad, but she was soon overcome by sleep and she dozed.

When Mary woke up, she had trouble for a moment understanding what was wrong. She couldn't seem to move her head and her body felt hot and heavy. Panic soon gave way to laughter, however, when she realized what had happened. She was covered - literally blanketed - with every treasure Lucky owned!

While she had slept, the sorrowing dog had made trip after trip to the basement, bringing his beloved mistress all the things in life he treasured so much.

He had covered her with his love.

Mary forgot about dying. Instead, she and Lucky began living again, walking further and further together every day. It's been 12 years since Mary's surgery and she remains cancer-free.

Lucky? He still steals "treasures" and stashes them in his toy box in the basement.

But Mary remains his greatest treasure.

[sent by list member Dianne F.; some light editing by Mark Raymond]


Wow. That story is almost enough to make me go out and get a dog. Thanks, Dianne.

Thanks for all your notes of concern and prayers regarding our plumbing and heating situation. God was certainly looking out for us. He must have woken us up quickly so that we caught the leak before it had go on too long. Once we dried out the furnace electronics and rebooted the system twice, everything still worked! Mind you, that was one plumber and two furnace technician visits later ... but those costs are being taken care of by a good friend.

Meanwhile, my wife leaves in the morning for her semi-annual trip to help her mother transport her stroke-impaired step-father down to Florida for the winter. She'll be gone until Thursday, with yours truly left alone with the kids. Pray for us! Keep praying for us!

And I'll see you on Monday.



WEB SITE of the WEEK: Ever thought you had a better idea for a movie or a television show than the drivel you just saw? Well, at, you can pitch ideas directly to Hollywood Producer Robert Kosberg. You have to spend $25 to purchase his CD, which contains his seminar information training you how to do this and registers you as a member of his idea team, however. And you are essentially trusting his honesty and integrity because the contract you sign essentially gives him unlimited control of your idea. What you get - if everything works right - is the fee a Hollywood studio pays for the idea. Kosberg makes his money as a producer of the film/show. That fee runs anywhere from $5,000 to $50,000, according to the website.


Mark's Musings is - wait for it - still a Habeas-certified spam free mailer. Subscribe, view past issues in the Archives, and click all you want at my web site. To contact me and sooner or later get a reply, click here. To enjoy a marvelously mild Native American Summer, you should have come to visit Michigan when I originally wrote this last week. Now it's stinkin' cold and rainy. Honestly, Michigan weather lasts about as long as a good yawn. You can forward or reprint "Mark's Musings" freely but please keep the credits attached. In this I depend upon *your* honesty and integrity. 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 and my license plate are still John 3:30. That's one bad hat, Harry.


WORDS for YOUR WEEKEND: "Why are our days numbered and not, say, lettered?" (Woody Allen)

Thursday, November 13, 2008

Paying Taxes

We woke up yesterday to the sound of water running and a cold house. Never a good thing. Turned out one of the water lines in the basement had sprung a leak ... all over our furnace, shorting out the electronic components.

This, combined with a couple of other things, has made it not a particularly good week for our checkbook.

Thankfully, Reader's Digest has this to offer.



A nervous taxpayer was unhappily conversing with the IRS agent conducting a review of the man's returns in an audit. Things were getting a bit heated.

At one point, the auditor shook his head and said, "Mr. Carr, we feel it is a great privilege to live and work in the U.S.A. But as a citizen here, you have an obligation to pay your taxes so that your government might have enough money to operate efficiently, and being cognizant of the rights and benefits of living in such a grand country, we expect you to pay those taxes with a smile!"

Mr. Carr blew out a breath of relief and exclaimed with a grin, "Well, that's wonderful! I thought you were going to want me to pay with cash!"

[Pastor Tim's CleanLaugh]


WISDOM for YOUR WEEK: "Wisdom is a shelter as money is a shelter, but the advantage of knowledge is this: that wisdom preserves the life of its possessor." (Ecclesiastes 7:12)


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

Wednesday, November 12, 2008


ADMINISTRIVIA DEP'T: Don't know if anyone has noticed, but I've added little "reaction" boxes to this blog, so it's easier for you to leave me feedback on how I'm doing. Now with one click you can tell me if a post was funny, helpful, made you think, or was so-so (click "meh"). You can select more than one as needed. And, of course, you can still leave me a comment or send me an email.


Tech writer David Pogue has come up with a couple of helpful cell phone tips over at How Stuff Works.

Instead of paying up to $1.50 to use the "411" option on your cell phone, David tells you of a couple ways to get that information for free. The "googl" method didn't work so well for me, but perhaps the listings I was hunting for as a test were unlisted.


I was setting up a large, cast aluminum, decorative sundial in my yard that I had recently purchased from a garden catalog.

My neighbor, an old Florida fellow, was leaning on the fence, watching me.

"What the heck is that for?" he called out to me.

"It's a sundial," I explained. "See, the sun will hit this small triangular spike and cast a shadow on the face of the dial. Then, as the sun moves across the sky, the shadow will follow and by seeing where it falls on the dial, I'll be able to tell the correct time."

My neighbor shook his head and muttered, "What'll they think of next?"



WONDER for YOUR WEEK: Why do they call it a busy signal?


Mark's Musings is also sent each weekday via email. Get the 411 on your very own subscription by clicking here.

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Veteran Bus

It's Veteran's Day here in the U.S. A day to commemorate and honor our military veterans, who have sacrificed so much for us.

If you happen to encounter a serviceperson today, do what my wife does every day: shake his or her hand and say, "Thanks for serving!"

Find all kinds of information about the holiday as well as regional celebrations at the Veteran's Administration website.


Fred accidentally gets on a bus full of war veterans but, realizing the bus is going his way, decides to ride along for a bit.

He first sits down next to a man who jerks his head to the left every few seconds, as if hoping to catch someone looking at him. After a few minutes of this, Fred can't take any more and asks, "What's wrong with you?"

"Sorry. I picked up this habit during the war and I can't seem to stop." So Fred switches seats.

He discovers in his new seat that he's being kicked in the backside every few seconds. So he turns around and there's a woman who's right leg is constantly twitching and spasms into a kick. "Would you kindly stop kicking me?" Fred asks.

"Sorry, I can't." the woman replies. "I got this in the war and now I can't control it."

Fred moves again.

This time he sits near a man who's left hand is flailing about erratically. Fred says, "Let me guess, you got that in the war, right?"

The reply was, "No, I got this out of my nose. Now I can't get it off my hand!"

[Get Amused Jokes]


WORDS for YOUR WEEK: "When our perils are past, shall our gratitude sleep?" (George Canning)


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Monday, November 10, 2008

Keep Digging

Well, a month after I came down with a pretty bad bout of bronchitis, it finally seems to be ready to walk away from my body.

I'd originally gotten it from my daughter, who had a respiratory infection ... but about 10 days ago she came down with a sinus infection, probably something I'd given back to her. And then that morphed into an inner ear infection and now, according to the doctor at the clinic last night, it's bronchitis. And oh, by the way, he said my wife has a throat infection, too.

With the onset of cold weather and all of us living together in a closed up space, breathing recycled air, it could be next Spring before we're all healthy at the same time.



Scottish physician A.J. Cronin was forced by illness to take a leave of absence from his medical practice. He decided to write a novel during this time, but when halfway finished, he became disheartened and threw his manuscript into a garbage can.

Totally discouraged, Cronin was walking the Scottish Highlands one day when he saw a man digging in a bog, trying to drain it so it could be used as a pasture. As Cronin talked with him, the man said, "My father dug at this bog but was never able to make a pasture. But my father knew - and I know - that it's only by digging you'll ever be able to make a pasture. So I keep digging."

Feeling rebuked and re-motivated, Cronin went home, fished his novel out of the dustbin, and finished it.

That novel - Hatter's Castle - sold three million copies. Cronin never went back to his medical practice and became a world renowned writer.

The moral of the story? No matter what bog life has you in, keep digging.

[Pulpit Supply via Wit and Wisdom]


WORD for YOUR WEEK: I was reminded of another fun word to say this week, and the story that has made it so dear to me. The word is "flabbergast" and here's the story: Back in the day (late 1990s), I was the Artistic Director for a contemporary "seeker service" our church put on every Saturday night. As Christmas approached one year, we had put together a sketch featuring Joseph - he who was engaged to be married to Mary - and his parents. The actor portraying Joseph - a dear friend of mine still (though possibly not after he reads this) - was relaying to us in his dialogue how the angel of the Lord had told him to go ahead with his marriage to Mary ... except my friend forgot his lines. Happens to the best of actors. My friend, however, thinking quickly, went on to improvise a line or two, and then exclaimed, "I was flabbergasted!" The actors portraying his parents - of which I was one - foundered a bit, having totally lost their cues as well as choking back laughter, but eventually we recovered and finished the sketch with aplomb. But now, where does "flabbergast" come from? It's one of those words with murky origins, though we know it goes back to at least 1700. "Flabber" most likely refers to something being flabby, which used to be another way of saying "flappy" in the sense of causing a stir or commotion. A flap, if you will. "Gast" is from the Middle English word "gasten" - meaning to terrify - and was often used when talking about ghosts, or spirits. (The word "aghast" comes from the same root.) So "flabbergast" essentially means a sudden surprise that leaves you speechless, as if you were terrified. In fact, you can even be in a state of "flabbergastation."


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Sunday, November 09, 2008

God Can Use ANYONE

Here's a video sent to me by list member Lavonne T.

Suddenly my life looks a whole lot better ... thank you, Nick.

Friday, November 07, 2008

More Heart Thoughts

In our work as Retail Sales Associates for the Postal Service, when we ask customers which stamps they want, we often hear, "Do you have any with my picture on them?"

To which we reply, "Oh, you don't want one of those. You have to be dead for 10 years before you can be put on a stamp." (Former U.S. Presidents excluded.)

Except that's not so true any more with the growing popularity of "photo stamps." You can upload a favorite picture now and slap it on a stamp, as long as it's decent and not a copyrighted image. (Look for a bonus tip below.)

In fact, the company sponsors monthly photo stamp contests. You can see some of the winners here.



When at home, amuse yourself. When visiting, try to amuse others.

Never complain that things aren't what they used to be ... neither are you.

When you need advice, everyone is ready to help you; but when you need help, everyone is ready to advise you.

Truth has only to pass through a few wrong-headed people to become fiction.

What you don't know doesn't hurt you ... it's what you suspect that causes all the trouble.

You make more enemies by your words than friends by your deeds.

Success is a ladder which cannot be climbed with your hands in your pockets.

Bringing up a child "by the book" is okay as long as you remember that you need a different book for each child.

You may have the right to be angry, but no one has the right to be cruel.

Start each day as though it were on purpose.

If the problem is something you'll laugh about later, why not laugh about it now?

Discussion is an exchange of knowledge; argument is an exchange of ignorance.

Laughter is the sun that drives winter from the human face.

[with thanks to list member Cliff R. and Menards]


My daughter has her Swim Team Finals this weekend, and my band plays tomorrow afternoon for probably the last time this year. As always, I pray your weekend is as full of family, friends, and fun as mine usually are. Oh, and some rest, too. Take a nap on Sunday!

As to the "bonus tip" for the Photo Stamps, you can get free shipping on those stamps by using code "fall2008" when you checkout.

Hey, I'll see you on Monday.



WEB SITE of the WEEK: The Human Genome Project was an attempt by science to completely map our human DNA. Each and every link and how it related to the other links in the chain. Well, the "Music Genome Project" began in 2000 with much the same goal. Using over 400 descriptors for musical styles and a complex mathematical algorithm, a company known as "Savage Beast Technologies" attempted to map all the different styles of music and how they relate to one another. The result - submitted by list member Susan B. - is ... an online streaming audio site. You type in the name of your favorite artist, band or song, and the site will play you music by that artist plus a bunch of other music from different artists that have the same characteristics. If you like what you hear, you can then save that "station" and set up multiple stations to play whatever style of music for which you happen to be in the mood. Registration is free.


Mark's Musings is still a Habeas-certified spam free mailer. Subscribe, view past issues in the Archives, and click all you want at my web site. To contact me and sooner or later get a reply, click here. To enjoy a marvelously mild Native American Summer, come visit Michigan. Now. You can forward or reprint "Mark's Musings" freely but please keep the credits attached. The credits haven't done anything to warrant being terminated. Please be fair. 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 and my license plate is still John 3:30. As far as the election goes, TGIF. (Thank God It's Finished!)


WORDS for YOUR WEEKEND: "Nowhere in the Bible does it say that somebody retired." (Billy Graham)

Thursday, November 06, 2008

New Recipe

Apparently, research has shown that most families spend less than 45 minutes deciding what to do about supper. And they often don't make that decision until late in the day.

Hmmm. You might need this.

Or this.

Two sites for the price of one, today.


I have a reputation for not being a fantastic cook.

One evening I worked particularly hard on a new recipe, and I was hoping for the best.

My seven-year-old son summed things up after the meal.

"Mom," he said, "that dinner was so good I thought somebody else made it!"

[Clean Humor Digest]


WISDOM for YOUR WEEK: "I will praise you as long as I live, and in your name I will lift up my hands. My soul will be satisfied as with the richest of foods; with singing lips my mouth will praise you." (Psalm 63:4-5)


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Wednesday, November 05, 2008

Economic Pharmacy?

As I write this, it's as if the whole country is holding its breath. I can tell because all the maps are turning blue.

And I've just watched John McCain give his concession speech.

President Obama. There are so many shades of nuance, meaning, and history hanging on those two words. Tell you what. Feel free to leave a comment on last night's results. It might do you good.

Our new president says he has a financial prescription for our economic woes ... but what if there were also a pharmaceutical one?












[selected from McSweeney's Lists; written by Peter Scallion]


WONDER for YOUR WEEK: Do banks offer attractive mortgage rates just to create interest?


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Tuesday, November 04, 2008

Mayor Daley

For the sake of all that's democratic, get out and vote today.

Whether you vote for Obama/Biden, McCain/Palin, Nader/Gonzalez, or write in Ron Paul (or Snoopy, as my father threatened to do on more than one occasion), please do vote. Sure, it's like trying to pick your favorite mosquito out of the swarm - I forget who said that - but it's the best process we have. Let's use it.

I'm as eager to see who's standing when the dust clears as you are.


Chicago Mayor James Daley had been reelected for the fifth time and various members of the media were on hand to interview him.

One reporter, a notorious liberal and no friend of the mayor, put forth his question in the most unctuous tone he could manage.

"Mr. Daley," said he, "no doubt you will need to consult the powerful interests that control you before making any further big decisions."

"Young man," Daley replied, "you keep my wife out of this..."

[Wit and Wisdom]


WORDS for YOUR WEEK: "A citizen of America will cross the ocean to fight for democracy, but won't cross the street to vote in a national election." (Bill Vaughn)


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Monday, November 03, 2008

Bad Game Player

Well, my son brought me back to an Internet game I'd forgotten about called "Boomshine."

It's like the "Deal or No Deal" of Flash animation games. By that I mean it's an incredibly simple concept ... and quite addicting. You click once to start it, and once again to play it. Danny Miller, the game's inventor, must be an evil genius.

Personally, I just like to load the game up and listen to the soothing "Boomshine Song" by Tim Halbert.



After you enter your login ID and password, you immediately get the "Game Over" screen.

One of these days you will clear a line in Tetris. You can feel it coming.

You have every cheat code available and still can't get past the first level.

Before each shot you have to ponder the moral implications of lethal zombie eradication.

Your character seems to die about every 20 seconds. While playing "Sesame Street ABCs."

Your day job keeps cutting into your Halo 2 practice time.

You never knew Solitaire could explode.

[Chris White's Top Five on the Internet, with edits by Mark Raymond]


WORD for YOUR WEEK: One of my favorite words is "nebulous." It's originally from the Latin "nebule," which means a cloud, or a mist. The word became popular with astronomers in the 1730s to describe "cloud-like gas patches in the night sky," or what they called a nebula. Today it's used to refer to something that is vague, ill-defined, or has no specific content or limits. As in, "her general notions of what men ought to be were, indeed, nebulous reasons for her behavior."


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