Archive for the ‘writing’ Category

01/07/2023 “Optimist v. Pessimist”   Leave a comment

For most of my life I’ve been called a pessimist, a cynic, and an all-around “downer”. I’m not too crazy about the term cynic and the term pessimist is primarily used only by those folks that consider themselves optimists. First of all, the term cynic doesn’t apply, I am a pragmatist. Cynic is a derogatory term used primarily by optimists to denigrate those of us who prefer a stark truth to a flowery disappointment. As far as being a “downer”, that’s a term that makes no sense whatsoever. Speaking the truth is never a “downer”, it’s just that simple. Here is the posted definition of an optimist directly from Wikipedia and we all know they never make mistakes.

optimist (ˈäp-tə-mist), noun

A person who is inclined to be hopeful and to expect good outcomes.

I know many, many, optimists and had many discussions and arguments about the advantages of being pragmatic and not having good thoughts about every damn thing you can think of. With that thought in mind I decided to do a little research to get some thoughts on optimism from a few so-called experts. Let’s see what you think about this.

  • Optimism: A cheerful frame of mind that enables a teakettle to sing though in hot water up to its nose.
  • An optimist is a man who, instead of feeling sorry he cannot pay his bills, is glad he is not one of his creditors.
  • Since the house is on fire let us warm ourselves. Italian saying
  • If you count the sunny and cloudy days of the whole year, you will find that the sunshine predominates.
  • A cheerful resignation is always heroic, but no phase of life is so pathetic as a forced optimism. Elbert Hubbard
  • An optimist is one who believes that a fly is looking for a way to get out.
  • If it weren’t for the optimist, the pessimist wouldn’t know how happy he isn’t.

After reading the above, what kind of person are you? Are you a glass half-full person or a glass half empty person? I stand proudly as a pragmatist against any and all optimists. It’s just that I prefer reality rather than a continuing hopefulness that everything will be just fine, and everyone will own their own unicorn. Here’s a quote from one of my favorite writers and his definition of pessimism, I hope all of you optimists out there enjoy it.

Pessimist – One who, when he has the choice of two evils, chooses both.

Oscar Wilde

01/03/2023 “Happy Birthday J.R.R.”   Leave a comment

John Ronald Reuel Tolkien (1892–1973)

I’m not one to celebrate birthdays on this blog but as with everything there are exceptions. Today is the birthday of my favorite writer whose works have captivated me for more than fifty years. It all started in 1968 while I was serving in the Republic of South Korea. I discovered a copy of the Hobbit in the hooch of a young lady I was seeing. She couldn’t read English and I had no reading material worth reading at the time. She made it a gift to me, and I began reading it immediately.

I became lost in his world of the Shire, the hobbits, the dwarves, the elves, and the wizards. I read a portion of that book by the light of a flashlight as I sat in a foxhole. I had no access to the trilogy at that time and was forced to take a short leave, a quick hop on an Air Force plane to the Tokyo PX, where I purchased my first copies.

Over the years I’ve read those books at least a dozen times. Along the way I read everything I could find about J.R.R. including a number of books later published by his son. I still have some beautiful calendars from the 1970’s and 1980’s painted by a number of well-known artist of scenes from his stories. I also found out that alcohol and tattooing mix rather well together since I have the door symbol from the door of Moria on my upper arm. Right next to that I have a beautiful tattoo of Smaug.

I almost lost my mind when someone who was real fan of the books made the movies. I never thought it would happen. I was again truly excited when Amazon and Jeff Bezos released the latest prequel, The Rings of Power. I was happy to see they did a great job in tying it into the original story line. I became so interested I went back and began reading the Silmarillion for the fifth time. I look forward to the new season as any good fan would.

The man was amazing, and his works will be read and loved by millions more in the coming years.

HAPPY BIRTHDAY JOHN

12/30/2022 “Obscurity”   Leave a comment

Roy Howard Kerridge (11/26/1923 – 04/29/2011)

Many times over the years I have offered up quotations from the rich and famous in an attempt to make a point. As you do any type of research on the web you’ll find that many of those type of quotations are repeated over and over again. Some are supposed to be profound and informative, but I always wonder if the quote was actually written by the person its ascribed too. That’s just my cynical side rearing its ugly head for the thousandth time.

In recent years I’ve tried to search out the more obscure authors and philosophers that most people have never heard of. As I was exploring recently, I found a quote concerning prisons and criminal behavior. I was drawn to it immediately because of my Criminal Justice background. I’d never heard of the author but as I soon discovered he had a lot to say about a lot of subjects. They actual appealed to me because the author is known for his eccentric and idiosyncratic writings in many national newspapers and magazines, and of course in his column in the Salisbury Review. The Salisbury Review is a quarterly British magazine since 1982 and reflects conservative thought and ideals. Roy Kerridge was so obscure he received no mention in their Wikipedia entry even though he wrote many articles for them. He was an author who chronicled lost causes and also authored over 30 books on various subjects. Here is his take on the rehabilitation of criminals in a prison system.

“That is the whole beauty of prisons – the benefit is not to the prisoner, of being reformed or rehabilitated, but to the public. Prisons give those outside a resting period from town bullies and horrible characters, and for this we should be very grateful.”

This was his quote from The Lone Conformist in 1984

*****

R.I.P. ROY

12/09/2022 “An Examined Life #1”   2 comments

It is better to make a mistake with full force of your being than to carefully avoid mistakes with a trembling spirit. Socrates

I really want to break away from all of the Christmas hoopla for a few days. This post will not be about trivia but questions to help determine your values, your beliefs, and your life; love, money, sex, integrity, generosity, pride and death are all included. I’m going to supply you with fifteen questions (the first of thirteen installments) and these questions could help you to understand yourself a little better. I honestly think that doing it with a spouse or partner would be particularly interesting because of the conversations that would follow. Let’s get started . . .

  • For a person you love deeply, would you be willing to move to a distant country knowing there would be little chance of seeing your family or friends again?
  • Do you believe in ghosts or evil spirits? Would you be willing to spend the night alone in a remote house that is supposedly haunted?
  • If you were to die this evening with no opportunity to communicate with anyone, what would you most regret not having called someone? Why haven’t you told them yet?
  • If you could spend one year in perfect happiness but afterword would remember nothing of the experience, would you do so? If not, why not?
  • If a new medicine were developed that would cure arthritis but cause a fatal reaction in 1% of those who took it, would you want it to be released to the public?

Falling down is not a failure. Failure comes when you stay where you have fallen. Socrates

  • You discover your wonderful one-year-old child is, because of a mix-up at the hospital, not yours. Would you want to exchange the child to try to correct the mistake?
  • Do you think that the world will be a better place or a worse place 100 years from now?
  • Would you rather be a member of a world championship sports team or be the champion of an individual sport? Which sport would you choose?
  • Would you accept $1 million to leave the country and never set foot in it again?
  • Which sex do you think has it easier in our culture? Have you ever wished you were of the opposite sex?

The secret of happiness, you see, is not found in seeking more, but in developing the capacity to enjoy less. Socrates

  • You are given the power to kill people simply by thinking of their deaths and twice repeating the word “goodbye”. People would die a natural death, and no one would suspect you. Are there any situations in which you would use this power?
  • If you are able to live to the age of 90 and retain either the body or the mind of a 30-year-old for the last 60 years of your life, which would you want?
  • What would constitute a “perfect” evening for you?
  • Would you rather be extremely successful professionally and have a tolerable yet unexciting private life, or have an extremely happy private life and only a tolerable and uninspiring professional life?
  • Whom do you admire most? In what way does that person inspire you?

***

More installments will follow. Pour some wine and enjoy the discussion.

Special thanks to Gregory Stock and Socrates.

“The unexamined life is not worth living”

Socrates

11/23/2022 “Misconceptions”   Leave a comment

Misconceptions are a common occurrence. We all have them, and most times don’t even realize it. We repeat things we’re told as a child based on the misconceptions of our parents who based it on the misconceptions from their parents and on and on it goes. How many times have your young children arrived home from school with some fantastic fact told to them by others. It’s amazing how young children just know so much about everything (rightly or wrongly) and feel the need to spread their knowledge. Let’s take a look at a few.

  • The Pilgrims did not build log cabins, nor did they wear black hats with a conical crown or belts with huge silver buckles.
  • Albert Einstein, who was awarded the Nobel Prize for physics in 1921, was honored not for his famous theory of relativity published 16 years earlier, but for his lesser-known work on the photoelectric effect.
  • Until the time of Galileo, an argument used with potent effect was that if the earth moved, and if it indeed rotated on its axis, the birds would be blown away, clouds would be left behind, and buildings would tumble.
  • Samuel F.B. Morse did not really invent the telegraph. He managed to get all the necessary information for the invention from the American physicist Joseph Henry, and later denied that Henry had helped him. Henry later sued and proved his case in a court of law. It is true that Morse did invent Morse Code.
  • Charles Darwin rarely used the term “evolution”. It was popularized by the English sociologist Herbert Spencer, who also popularized the phrase “survival of the fittest”.

  • Because of the story in Genesis that Eve had been created out of Adam’s rib, it was widely believed during the Middle Ages that men had one rib fewer than women.
  • To protect woolen clothing from moths, people for generations have stored them in cedar chests or have built closets lined with cedar. There is no evidence whatsoever that a cedar chest or closet repels moths.
  • Sir Edmund Hillary and Tenzing Norkay deservedly received much praise when they were the first to climb to the summit of Mount Everest. Less known is the fact that they had a roster of 12 other climbers, 40 Sherpa guides, and 700 porters to help them along the way.
  • Everyone in the Middle Ages believed as did Aristotle that the heart was the seat of intelligence.
  • According to legend, it was the cowboy and the six-gun that won the West. Actually, it was the steel plow, barbed wire fencing, and the portable windmill that made it possible for pioneers to settle there.

These above facts just prove my point. Misconceptions go back to the beginning of the human race and will continue to be perpetuated for as long as there’s at least four people left alive. One to tell the initial story, the second to repeat the story, the third to believe the story and then tell it to the fourth.

EASY PEASY!

10/31/2022 Word Play   Leave a comment

Languages are interesting. Many books have been written about the use of words, but it seems they appeal to only a small portion of the population. I love learning new words and their odd uses, it’s fun! Let’s get started on some fun for you on this fine Monday morning.

  • Check out these three sentences:

A mad boxer shot a quick, gloved jab to the jaw of his dizzy opponent.

Five or six big jet planes zoomed quickly by the tower.

Now is the time for all quick brown dogs to jump over the lazy lynx.

They each use every letter in the alphabet.

  • The 1939 novel, Gadsby, doesn’t contain a single word with the letter “e”. That quite some accomplishment in a fifty-thousand-word book.
  • The longest palindrome in the Oxford English Dictionary is “tattarrattat”. Coined by James Joyce in his book, Ulysses, as a knock at the door.
  • The word “honorificabilitudinitatibus” at 27 letters is the longest word to appear in a work by Shakespeare from Love’s Labor Lost.
  • The longest palindrome in any language is “saippuakivikakuppias”. It’s 19 letters long and means “soap seller” in Finnish.
  • Poets love to rhyme words but in some cases it’s very difficult or just plain impossible. No words rhyme with orange., silver, elbow, galaxy, and rhythm. The words wasp, purple, and month are also very hard to rhyme.
  • Here are a few more very cool palindromes:

A man, a plan, a cat, a ham, a yak, a yam, a hat, a canal. Panama

Madam, in Eden I’m Adam

Was it a bar or a bat I saw.

THERE’S YOUR ENGLISH LESSON FOR THE WEEK

10/20/2022 **Limerick Alert**   Leave a comment

I’m feeling in a very ‘limericky’ state of mind this morning. It’s cold, gray, and nasty so a day sitting at the computer is called for. After perusing through my achieves I decided on a few fairly clean limericks based on accidental deaths or injuries. Rather than be off color I decided on weird and these got it covered and then some.

*****

There was an old lady named Crockett

Who went to put a plug in a socket.

But her hands were so wet

She flew up like a jet

And came roaring back down like a rocket.

*****

There was a young fellow named Weir,

Who hadn’t an atom of fear.

He indulged a desire

To touch a live wire

(‘Most any old line will do here!)

*****

Said a foolish young lady of Wales,

“A smell of escaped gas prevails.”

Then she searched with a light,

And later that night

Was collected in seventeen pails.

*****

A certain young man of great gumption,

‘Mongst cannibals had the presumption

To go – but alack!

He never came back,

They say ’twas a case of consumption.

*****

WELCOME BACK TO A 1960’S SENSE OF HUMOR

10/18/2022 Mish Mosh   1 comment

Any day that starts with a visit to an Oncologist is a day that has to get better. Doctors still give me the willies even after all of my cancer related BS. I got a clean bill of health but I still have to go through their annoying little requirements each time I visit. Screw it, no more doctors talk. Let’s smile just a little with a few retro bumper stickers to get started today. Welcome back to the 60’s and 70’s.

EAT YOUR HEART OUT. I’M MARRIED.

LIFE’S TO SHORT TO FEEL GUILTY

BUMPER STICKERS ARE JUST NOT ENOUGH

I’M SO BROKE I CAN’T EVEN PAY ATTENTION

GOD IS COMING AND SHE’S PISSED OFF

Look Out Ladies – Here I come.

I think I had one or two of those on my 1973 orange Gremlin. I sure miss that car. And just for the hell of it here is a rather lengthy epithet from a fine poet in Wolverhampton, Straffordshire, England. I’m guessing this was written sometime between 1845-1855. It’s obvious that the author was no Longfellow.

Here lies the bones of Joseph Jones

Who ate while he was able.

But once o’er fed he dropt down dead,

And fell beneath the table.

When from the tomb to meet his doom

He rises amidst the sinners.

Since he must dwell in heav’n or hell

Take him – which gives the best dinners.

T.G.I.N.M,T,or W.

10/14/2022 “Language & Words”   Leave a comment

I would hate to even try to come up with the number of words I’ve written in my life. Even talking about it boggles my mind. Language and words are everything. Without them both chaos would ensue. I know, I know, there’s plenty of chaos anyway but without communication chaos becomes something visceral and sometimes dangerous. Today I’ll be talking about words that I will write and you will read. Ta! Da!, communication without chaos.

  • Did you know that the word stewardesses is the longest word that is typed with only the left hand.
  • William Shakespeare invented more than 1700 words including assassination and bump.
  • The only 15 letter word that can be spelled without repeating a letter is uncopyrightable.
  • If you mouth the word colorful to someone, it looks like you are saying, “I love you.”
  • Dreamt is the only English word that ends in the letters mt.

  • The name Jeep came from the abbreviation GP, used in the U.S. Army for general-purpose vehicle.
  • The word bigwig takes its name from King Louis IV of France, who used to wear really big wigs.
  • No word in the English language rhymes with orange, silver or month.
  • The word chunder comes from convict ships bound for Australia: when people were going to vomit, they used to shout, “watch under”.
  • The expression rule of thumb derives from the old English law that said you couldn’t beat your wife with anything wider than your thumb.

IT’S MORE FUN COMMUNICATING WITHOUT CHAOS

10/12/2022 “More Malaprops”   Leave a comment

MALAPROPS: A variety of verbal miscues from Grade

School, High School and College Examinations.

  • Johan Sebastian Bach wrote a great many musical compositions and had a large number of children. In between he practiced on the old spinster which he kept up in the attic.
  • The government of Athens was Democratic because the people took the law into their own hands.
  • Solomon, one of David’s sons, had 500 wives and 500 porcupines.
  • People have sex, while nouns have genders.
  • The American colonists won the Revolutionary war and no longer had to pay for taxis.
  • The bowels are A, E, I, O, U, and sometimes Y.
  • He worked in the government as a civil serpent.

ISN’T EDUCATION WONDERFUL?

  • A horse divided against itself cannot stand.
  • The climate of the Sahara desert is so hot that certain areas are cultivated by irritation.
  • Charles Darwin wrote The Organ of the Species.
  • When a baby is born, the doctor cuts its biblical chord.
  • The Greeks invented three kinds of columns: Corinthian, Doric, and Ironic.
  • Brigham Young led the Morons to Utah.

THANK GOD I NEVER TOOK UP TEACHING

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