Anhydrous Wit

Are you pondering what I'm pondering?

Monday, April 24, 2017

Toward More Colorful Language

Sometimes, an author doesn't give as much description as I'd like.  Other authors go on and on about something that couldn't possibly interest anyone but the author (and, apparently, the editor).  Here's an example where the author tried, but it left me with a lot to imagine.  From The Borrower by Rebecca Makkai:

And the way he would show up just like this, flashing his piano-key teeth.

Are his teeth yellow?  (My grandmother's piano was so old, it had ivory keys, and they had aged to yellow.)  Do they have black spaces in between them?

Help!

You likely know that I have a tendency to prefer exact, accurate language.  (I'm not necessarily a literalist, just a specifist.)  Every so often, it irks me when someone says something that is the opposite of what they mean.

Last night, the weatherman said that the wind this week "won't help the chances of fire".  He then proceeded to state that the spring winds this week will contribute to an "elevated fire danger".  Isn't that what he just said wouldn't happen?

A former employer mandated that all employees had to attend sexual harassment training.  My coworkers took my point that they meant sexual harassment prevention training.

When I lived in the Noog, the route to my weekly cheesesteak had me drive past the Pregnancy Help Center.  I always passed by after business hours, but I figure they must have had a line out the door of guys wanting to help women get pregnant.

Monday, April 17, 2017

Sit Down, Stand Up, Fight, Fight, Fight!

Walk-in customers are rare for our company.  Today, I was expecting a long-time client who had scheduled an appointment in advance.  I've only dealt with her over the phone, so I didn't know what to expect.

Being a gentleman, I stood up to greet her and shake her hand when she approached my desk.  Being a gentleman, I promptly sat back down so that I could speak with her without being rude.  I mean, usually it's rude for a gentleman to sit down in the presence of a lady unless she sits first, but I had to do it so that we could talk without injuring either one of us.  We both would have gotten cricks in our neck, me from looking down and her from looking up.  The woman couldn't have been more than four feet tall.

Wednesday, April 12, 2017

Bad News/Good News

I filed my income tax returns this weekend.  The bad news is that I owe the state some money.  The good news is that the federal government will return some money to me.  The better news is that it's a lot of money.

Think of a very small amount of money to pay -- say, a dollar.  Now think of getting back 300 times that amount.  Now think that my small amount is a power of ten more than that, and you'll be pretty close.

Sounds too good to be true, doesn't it?  It's a good thing I'm putting the refund into my savings account, so I won't spend it if the IRS says I typed a number wrong and actually owe them that amount.

Monday, April 10, 2017

My Mighty, Mighty Viking Tree

Back in college, I was a member of a group that had a houseplant mascot that was cared for by a different group member each week.  (No, it wasn't the horticulture club.)  The plant was named Cindy (short for Scindapsus aureus, her species.)  I have decided, after many years, I should continue the plant-naming tradition.  I will start with a tree called Erik.  (Hey, if John Cleese can have all sorts of pets named Eric, why can't I do the same with plants?)

Here, then, is the tree Erik.  He is an Eastern Redbud (Cercis canadensis).  Erik the Redbud.  Get it?

Wednesday, April 05, 2017

This Is One Reason I Seldom Cook

I follow a mystery series about a cooky baker in Minnesota.  The obvious prose setting up the recipes (included at the end of each chapter) annoys me, but the novels are quick and otherwise painless.  Usually, I ignore the recipes entirely, or I glance at them until I see an ingredient that I'd prefer not to eat.  In the case I will share here, though, I read it as a challenge.

I won't include the entire recipe here and risk a copyright violation, but I will give credit to the book Banana Cream Pie Murder by Joanne Fluke.

One of the characters alleges, "They're a no-bake dessert so they're really easy to make."  Oh, yeah?

The second ingredient is "1 cup cashew butter".  I've never heard of it, and I can't decide whether I'd find it on the shelf next to the peanut butter or in the aisle with the canned/jarred nuts.  How easy can a recipe be without one of the ingredients?  I'm half tempted to ask at the Albertson's service desk if they carry it and, if not, why not, since the Red Owl in this tiny, fictional, Minnesota town carries it.

Another ingredient is "crushed vanilla wafers".  I'll give them that one, since it's easy enough to put some cookies into a plastic bag then beat the living daylights out of those cookies with a rolling pin.

One of the later steps in the process is to "melt the chocolate chips".  Um, that's not easy, folks.  You need to have a double boiler on your stovetop.  This manages to avoid the "no-bake" clause, though.

Then you are to spread the melted chocolate with a heat-resistant spatula.  Oops, back to the store again!  (This is why you should read the recipe all the way through before you begin.)

About the only less appropriately named recipe I've seen is the "bachelor spaghetti sauce" I read about some years ago.  Dude, if you're a bachelor, you don't use a recipe.  You go to the store, buy a jar, and pour it onto your spaghetti.  Sheesh.

Monday, April 03, 2017

Meet My Son: Skunk Cabbage

My mom and I watched six episodes of The Munsters on DVD last night.  I reflected on the name Lily.  There were also the characters Hyacinth, Daisy, Violet, & Rose from Keeping Up Appearances.  How many other people were named after plants?

With a little help from an internet search, I came up with quite a list of girls'/women's names.  Some of them I've heard of only as fictional characters.  You might have met some that aren't on this list.
Amaryllis
Camellia
Cicely
Dahlia
Daisy
Daphne
Erica
Fern
Ginger
Hazel
Heather
Holly
Hyacinth
Iris
Ivy
Jasmine
Laurel
Lavender
Lily
Magnolia
Marguerite
Marigold
Myrtle
Nigella
Olive
Pansy
Petunia
Poppy
Primrose
Rose
Rosemary
Rue
Veronica
Violet
Willow

The list for boys/men is much smaller.  Is it not considered masculine to be named after a plant?  (Again, a few names I know of only as fictional characters.)
Alfalfa
Basil
Cotton
Heath
Huckleberry
Reed
Rowan
Sage

I limited my search to solely plant proper names.  I didn't include modified names, such as Marjorie, which is similar to Marjoram.  Nor did I include non-specific, plant-related names, such as Flower/Fleur, Petal, or (dare I say it?) Leif (leaf, get it?).

Friday, March 31, 2017

The Hound of the Basket Flowers

I haven't seen the man in over a month, but I know that one of my bosses has a new dog.  How do I know this?  Elementary, my dear.  I deduced it.

When I arrived at work this morning, I saw that the bowl on the floor, which had held water for the owner's late dog, now has water in it again.  Then, I saw that the artfully balanced stacks of sand pebbles on the windowsill near my desk had fallen.  (Indeed, one rock had fallen all the way to the floor.)

"Who would need water in the bowl?" and, "Who would knock over the rocks by my desk?" both can be answered by, "A dog".  When our office manager arrived, she confirmed it.  (The dog is a Husky named Sasha.)

In case you worried that I stretched "a basket of flowers" to fit my title better, I'll relieve your anxiety and say that Basket Flower is a real species, Centaurea americana.