Anhydrous Wit

Are you pondering what I'm pondering?

Monday, November 27, 2017

Ain't It the Truth?

I've been reading a collection of Erma Bombeck's columns, which I checked out from the library.  It's rather extensive for a gathering of the "best" or "favorites", but I was glad to see my personal favorite included.  When I first read it at the age of ten, I thought, "This is it.  This is me."  It's still as true as it ever was.  Here is an excerpt from "Third Child" (November 5, 1981).

"...third children have no history.  There are no footprints of them in the baby book, no record of their baptism, no snapshots of their birthdays, and no report cards to show they ever were.  Their childhood diseases are uneventful, their first words fall on deaf ears, and toilet training is a lonely affair with no one to applaud their efforts.  The third child learns early that he is odd man out and has broken the family symmetry.  Kitchen chairs come four to a set, breakfast rolls four to a package, and milk four cups to a quart.  Rides at Disneyland accommodate two to a seat, the family car carries four comfortably, and beds come in twos not threes.  The third child is the one who gets called the other two's names before the mother finally remembers his.  He goes through a lifetime of comparisons:  'You're not going to be as tall as your brother... as smart as your sister... as athletic as your father."

With minor variations, all the above is true for me.  In my case, it was my grandmother who went through my father's and brothers' names before arriving at mine (I did note she went chronologically), and I was forever being asked by teachers, "Are you so-and-so's brother?" (as if they'd ever met anyone else named Chlorophyll).  Occasional pictures were taken of me in my childhood, but generally only at events where multiple family members were present.  My older brothers, I think, used up most of the film in the world before I was born.  I think there actually are more pictures of my Carvel birthday cakes than there are of me on my birthdays.

Wednesday, November 22, 2017

Sometimes I Surprise Myself

Here's a sample of the books I've read recently:  a memoir by Bob Hope, Neil Patrick Harris's autobiography, a memoir by Katherine Hepburn*, and Noctila, the Death Owl.  If I ever do something crazy, not only will my neighbors say they were surprised because I was a quiet guy who kept to himself, but librarians will say, "Yeah, but you should see some of the weird stuff he checked out of the library."

* I don't know why three celebrities whose last names begin with H.

Friday, November 03, 2017

Shall We Play a Game?

Lately, I've been bringing snack sacks of a brand-name, cheese flavored cracker to work, to help me hang on through that long period between breakfast and lunch.  The crackers are imprinted with letters because the packages have the licensed name of a popular game (involving letters on tiles, you know the one).  I pondered if I could actually make words with the crackers in a bag.

The first day I tried, I started pulling out D O T N...  Except that I pulled out the T and N at the same time, so I legally could switch them, and that looks like "don't".  The next letter was E...  Wouldn't it be funny if I spelled out "Don't eat me"?  That didn't work out.  Here are the letters I ate on two consecutive days.  I haven't been interested (or bored) enough to try rearranging them into any words.  Would you care to try?

Day 1:  D O T N E G F N Y W F R E S V R E M C L G E P I H G R E A C

Day 2:  I Y I Y N N R R I A L B R O I R X A A T B N I T I S X L E R

Wednesday, November 01, 2017

I Wouldn't Mind Candy on Date Night

I probably do this every year, but as I handed out Halloween candy last night, I reflected how some things have changed since I went trick-or-treating.

This year, there were a preponderance of skull masks of various sorts.  One's child looked like he had masking tape on his head.  It was an effective costume, but I hope there was a cap or something (a skullcap, perhaps?) between the tape and his hair.  Superhero costumes abounded, and Star Wars was a perennial favorite.  There was more face painting and fewer masks this year.  Store-bought costumes have gotten more elaborate (and probably more expensive), but it's amazing how effective a simple drape of cloth around a mask can be.

I wanted to say that there were more parents this year, but that would be a big "Duh!" because no parents accompanied their children when I was of the proper age.  Still, it was nice to see how many of the parents were in costume.  I have to give the prize for cleverness and effectiveness to the man whose toddler was dressed in a koala costume and riding on his father's back, as baby koalas do.  The father wasn't a big koala, but what sold me was the artificial branches & leaves that made it look like the boy was in a tree.

At one point early in the evening, I thought, "Gee, you're cute, but your son looks a little Goofy."

Wednesday, October 04, 2017

Technology Fears Me

Our municipal election was held yesterday.  (It's non-partisan, so it can't be held on the same day as Republican vs. Democrat elections, but why just a month away from the other election?  Why not in April or something?)  The only items in my district were the mayoral contest (between eight candidates, so a run-off is likely), bond renewal questions (which usually pass overwhelmingly -- I mean, who's going to vote against funding libraries, fire departments, or senior citizens?), and a proposal to require sick leave for Albuquerque-based businesses (which was a 50/50 race as of the last time I saw the news last night).  In other words, I'd just have to go vote again for mayor, so why bother?  I did my duty, though.

The queue emerging from the school gymnasium wasn't very long, and it moved fairly consistently, and I had a book to keep me company.  (The people in front of me either were talking to each other or staring at their phones.)  An attentive poll worker efficiently directed us to the next registration station, of which there were eight.  As soon as I got in line behind the first voter at my station, I heard three slams.

No, this was not an active shooter situation.  This was the sound of three people opening then closing the covers of their printers, to make the toner last a little longer.  This included the poll worker who was going to enter me.  (Yes, "Uh-oh," would be an appropriate response from you.)

The poll worker found me in the system (without having to ask my middle initial, like the person next to me; it helps having a unique name like Captain Chlorophyll).  I signed the electronic pad confirming my address & birthdate.  The printer spit out my ballot -- and then stopped.  It did not print the second sheet, confirming that I was holding a real ballot and not one I had printed at home and brought with me.  It was out of toner.  I could not vote without that second sheet.  I was officially in limbo.  The poll worker apologized.  I said, "That's all right."  Internally, I smiled and thought, "It figures."

Apparently, my Weather Wizardry affected not just my printer, but two others, one of which also was caught in the middle of printing a ballot.  (It figures.)  There were no spare toner cartridges in the boxes of spare stuff.  (It figures.)  The poll supervisor phoned tech. support, but no one answered.  (It figures.)  After several minutes without a callback, the supervisor decided that our ballots would have to be voided, we'd have to be cancelled in the system, and then re-registered.

Who needs Russians to interfere allegedly with our elections when the equipment can screw itself up just fine, thank you?  (Alternatively, you could tie me up each election day to prevent me from interfering.  I suppose that's easier and cheaper.)

Tuesday, September 26, 2017

More French? Mais Oui!

I was having an idle moment this morning when a word popped into my head:  oubliette.  I couldn't think of what it meant, so I looked it up.  Now I can't think of how I came up with that word.  Are French words or phrases going to pop into my head every day this week?

Monday, September 25, 2017

I Don't Speak French, but I Do Kiss That Way

Our company subscribes to a website that posts construction jobs available in several states.  (We look for the ones with landscaping in our part of NM.)  I scroll through a lot of jobs out of our service area.  One I noticed today is in Thoreau, NM.  The locals pronounce it "tha-ROO", not "tha-ROE".  Don't ask me why; New Mexicans are weird like that.

That brought to mind the northern Georgia town not far from the Noog.  It's spelled Lafayette, like the Frenchman who helped the colonies in the American Revolution.  Most Americans (who haven't been trained in proper French) would pronounce it "la-fee-YET", but Georgians and Noogats say "luh-FAY-it".  Don't ask me why; Southerners are weird like that.

(I should give credit to the writer(s) of the movie Naked Gun 2-1/2 for putting those words into the mouth of Lt. Frank Drebin.)