Sixth Favorite

What is your sixth favorite color? My ten year old granddaughter Zofia recently asked me that question. I did not pause to develop favorite colors three through five. Instead, I scanned my mind for an offbeat or fictional color that would cement my reputation as a quick wit. But I was distracted by the absurdity of the question. Everyone has a favorite color as required by President Calvin Coloridge’s 1925 Executive Order. I chose “green” as an elementary school student, ignoring the more prestigious primary colors and posturing as a fan of the color of life in nature. Secretly I was actually obsessed with the color of money. Like many, I chose a voluntary second favorite color in case humans eventually destroyed all the green in nature and turned green money into bitcoin. My back-up “purple” color represents Royalty. I wanted to grow up to be King but Queen Elizabeth has been clinging to the Crown.

I should not be surprised that my granddaughter has a “sixth favorite color” because she and her closest half dozen classmates have been ranking their “best friends” since Kindergarten. The exciting part of that process is telling each other about the rankings. This absurdity erupts into predictable and continual infighting amongst the “best friends” whose favorite activities are drama, snubbing, and yelling. Several years ago, an epic playground screaming match between Zofia and Gracie attracted the attention of school authorities. I am a father to three sons and foolishly thought I could intervene and provide guidance to a granddaughter. I asked Zofia what she and Gracie were fighting about. Without a hint of embarrassment she replied, “We were yelling about who was the bigger brat.” I had the pleasure of informing her that they had both won that argument.

The Upside Down

My wife and I have open lines of communication. I eavesdrop on her phone conversations and she reads my Blog. But we have trouble getting on the same wavelength. On October 7, 2021, she read about the ketchup prank our granddaughter Zofia played on me and asked if this actually happened and if so, was it a long time ago. I wondered where she had been because the ketchup stains were the talk of the household that very week. And why did she think I would make up something so innocuous. Yet if I write that my Uncle Hector grew a third head in his armpit, the conversation goes like this:

Mol: Who is Uncle Hector?

Geoff: Surely you remember him. He was the one arrested at our wedding reception for setting fire to the juggler’s car.

Mol: We did not have a juggler at our wedding.

Geoff: Right, Hector set fire to the car at the Bachelor Party but he was arrested at the wedding reception.

Mol: Why didn’t you tell me you had a juggler at the Bachelor Party? I thought we agreed not to keep secrets from each other.

Geoff: I had to sign a confidentiality agreement. Technically we now have to give up our third born son which is why I am breaching the agreement.

Mol: Is Hector the one married to Aunt Mary?

Geoff: Who is Aunt Mary?

Mol: Don’t you remember? She smashed your hand into a plate of ketchup at our wedding reception.

Hyena Hypothesis

My 34 day hiatus from daily Blogging generated an epiphany: If I posted only once a week, that post should be seven times better than my daily Blogs. I would have more time to research, edit, and brush my teeth. Or I could still write seven Blogs but only post the best one. Quality should increase sevenfold. But guess what? My weekly posts are not showing signs of being seven times better than the daily ones. Jim Adams is a Math genius but is currently distracted by Music, so I consulted with Goktug who recently set a record for how many times he has taken Calculus. He explained the Law of Diminishing Returns and other curve bending forces that prevent straight line projections. He was gone by the time I exploded from my spontaneous nap with a new insight.

I extrapolated, expostulated, and exfoliated to come up with the Hyena Hypothesis: Reducing anything by a factor of seven, merely doubles its impact. So if you reduce your daily working hours from seven to one, it doubles your chances of getting fired. If you reduce your visits to the bathroom from seven to one, it doubles your chances of wetting your pants. Since the Hypothesis worked in all two of my uncontrolled experiments, I realized the elimination of daily Blogs doubled the quality of my remaining weekly epistle. Making up some metrics as proof seemed like too big a lie to be convincing. Instead I am proud to announce that WordPress sent me the rare and prestigious Certificate of Congratulations for Doubling Blog Quality. I am thinking of cutting back to a monthly Blog but my nurse practitioner says the excitement of that much success would likely kill me.

Greener Grass

On my meanderings, I see people with binoculars watching birds. Others carry cameras to capture the perfect picture. I am an expert at spotting greener grass. I envied fellow students who did not need braces on their teeth. I fought so hard against metal in my mouth that my parents relented and I now envy people without crooked teeth. I hated school until my final graduation forced me to get a job. I never wanted to enter a hospital, even as a visitor, until my appendix burst and I was convulsing on the floor and begging my wife Mollie to drive me to the Emergency Room. Going to Church seemed like a drag until mine locked me out at the beginning of the Coronavirus Pandemic.

What have I learned? Absolutely nothing. This week the annual property value notices arrived. Apparently oil has been discovered under our home because our property appraisal increased 40.9% in just one year. If an appraiser had actually been anywhere near our property, we would have been reported to authorities for flaunting code violations. For 24 years, we have been on the “deferred maintenance” plan. That term provides an aura of legitimacy to our criminal negligence. My pal Herb is admired for living without television. Mollie and I should get credit for living without a working stove. Our gutters function only as storage units for badminton shuttlecocks. The carpet that came with the house has changed color.

The year we turned 30, we lived in a small rental home in a neighbor’s backyard with two young children and one bathroom. I hated listening to co-workers complaining about high property taxes. Nice problem to have I thought. On paper I am now a wealthy homeowner but the greener grass is everywhere except in my backyard.

Why Writing Is So Important

[Excerpted and reformatted five paragraphs of a guest essay; cut words to meet this site’s 300 word limit]

Hello fellow humans! Do you know why writing is so important in our everyday lives?

(1) Writing can save lives….you can spell out “help” if needed. People will see this message and rush to help you.

(2) You can get clues on a criminal. Someone [can write] down what the criminal looked like or did. This can help people track them down.

(3) You can write down….your address, where you put your keys, etc….If you write down your location….you will be safer because if you get lost, people will know where you went and come and get you.

(4) Expressing yourself [lets] out your feelings on paper.

(5) Write letters to other people about serious stuff instead of telling them because it’s easier and much less awkward….If you have a crush on someone, you could hand them a note saying that you like them….It is much less awkward if you get rejected.

(6) You can write a family recipe….expressing your family history.

(7) Many people can’t talk….so they have to write things down.

(8) Sometimes [written] words are simply easier to understand. Some people would rather read instructions than have someone explain it to them. That is totally [okay]. You can read [words] repeatedly….If you don’t understand [them] the first time, you can just re-read.

That’s all for now but I will see you in the next 5 paragraph essay. But tell me….what do YOU think about writing?

Zofia (Grade 4 Essay)

[I wish I had learned all of these tips in elementary school. Maybe it would have helped me get notes from fourth grade girls telling me they liked me.]

Fatty Tumor

My high school did not offer Auto Shop or Biology. So I am clueless about carburetors and internal organs but my theoretical education taught me that carbonem is Latin for carburetor. Apparently Latinites run their vehicles on charcoal. Carbonem was easy for a teenage boy to remember but I was absent when the word haemorroidis was introduced. My college roommates called each other “butt pimples” but I never made the connection. In my late 40’s, pain and blood in a scary place prompted an appointment where a doctor offered to freeze off my hemorrhoid. I declined and raced to the pharmacy for Preparation H (Humiliation).

Many questions circulated about my health when I prematurely retired from Blogging. My wife says “many” is an exaggeration and suggests Preparation N for Narcissism. I wiped out my free time trying to schedule deferred medical, dental, vision, and skin screening appointments as far out as October. I used escalating magic words (blood, maggots, zombies) to entice one scheduler to book me in person with a nurse practitioner last week to look at the six inch diameter mound on my back. She said it was only a Lipoma and not to worry (“nine out of ten okay”). I knew nothing about Lipoma in English or Latin. The NP took celebratory pictures with my camera and hers, questioned how my wife and I were so oblivious to such a huge growth, and showed me a Wikipedia page (“oh look, there is one as big as yours”). She scheduled an ultrasound [could a baby be inside my pouch?]. When I explained everything to my wife, she opened the same Wikipedia page and read back the exact same information to me. My only question: How much weight can I lose by surgically removing the Lipoma?

Day 34 Epic Log

Whenever I retire, anticipated free time evaporates like the moisture in my skin. Worse yet, the weight of my absence has never caused any institution to collapse. I once forced Facebook to remove my site. They just waited six months and reinstated it since even death is not a valid reason to exit social media. I had no pressure to shut down my free WordPress site. It cost nothing to hit the icon and cruise around. Discovering the startling removal of a Blog I follow precipitated this first relapse. For six years, the world existed merely to provide material for my daily epistles. My head is exploding without an outlet.

My bank ejected me even though I was still eavesdropping on an old lady (younger than me) in the next line. The last thing I heard an exasperated teller say: “But why would you want to pay $35 to stop payment on a $25 check?”

Then my wife and I took our youngest son to Dairy Queen to celebrate his new job working from home. Wait, what? He is now working from our home? Fittingly, all three banana splits came without bananas. I demanded three bananas but my wife insisted DQ remake the desserts. I restrained her from removing our tip from the jar.

I attended a Paul McCartney (older than me) concert with no lines for food or restrooms but queues for memorabilia wound around the arena.

My ten year old granddaughter received her first pet for Easter. Presumably Leo the Persian Shorthair kitten can play the ukulele because he cost $1000.

The best way to quit smoking is to never start. Otherwise you go through withdrawal. I could have padded these six paragraphs into six Blogs, so I am actually making some progress on retirement.

Until We Meet Again

After almost six years of Blogging (daily until six weeks ago), I am retiring to spend more time with Tom Brady’s family.

Although not readily apparent, I have learned so much. I was pleasantly surprised to find I enjoyed poetry and cooking posts. Blogs featuring photographs, music, and artwork were spectacular. The storytellers touched every emotion. The commentary was fascinating, although I could not agree with it all. I cannot acknowledge everyone who impacted me because I still “type” with one finger and a 300 word limit.

I was disappointed to find people who were funnier than me. I laughed out loud at the jokes, puns, cartoons, and controversies over “likes” and statistics. I did not participate in the challenges because I cannot tell the difference between a pingback and a ping pong ball but I enjoyed the creative responses.

I was frustrated I could not post some stories that belong partially to other people. Perhaps the passage of time will eventually allow for respectfully negotiated privacy intrusions in some other venue. I am not qualified to give advice but endorse the views of those who advocate quality over quantity. I leaned into quantity only because it was easier than carefully crafting, editing, and eliminating redundancies. But I was truly impressed by those who produced quality original content, and of course, by those with the courage to pour their lives on the page and inspire others with encouragement and lessons learned.

I genuinely appreciate anyone who visited, read, skimmed, did not read, liked, secretly disliked, commented, and/or followed me. So I basically loved you all, except maybe not the bots because, well, they are only bots. Still they are more amusing and less annoying than flies, mosquitoes, and gnats. Right? 😎

Part II. Guest Post

Continuation of yesterday’s excerpted 2009 tweets from my late brother Kevin’s Twitter account:

8/04: Putting a couple dozen yards of my poetry up for sale on eBay.

8/05: Getting my hair to dry in the shape of a dwarf platypus.

8/07: Posting my cell phone numbers for the whole world to see: 2,3,4,5,6,7, two nines, and two zeroes.

8/09: Putting away the Blue Angels outfit for another year.

8/10: Planting a row of miniature marshmallows in the lower garden.

8/11: Creating algorithm for putting down the toilet seat in a two-boy/two-girl household with standard habits.

8/12: Calling Twitter’s bluff on the capricious 140-character limit (which is impossible to enforce anyway since millions of users will simply ign

8/17: Picking up Kevlar garbage bags from my sailmaker.

8/18: Habituating to scrabbling squirrels in the ductwork.

8/19: Leaving my identity out in the hopes someone will steal it.

8/21: Rummaging around for “Latin for Travelers” guidebook in advance of big trip to Lutetia.

8/25: Preparing book proposal for “Dead-Animal-Smell-in-the-House Diet.”

8/26: Sensing toothpicks have it really bad: maybe worse than plungers.

8/27: Steering with my knees to protest cell phone driving rules.

8/28: Squeezing laptop, printer, three-hole punch and small copy machine on seriously under-designed Starbucks table.

8/31: Slipping neighbor’s lawn furniture into garage sale inventory.

9/04: Having trouble finding the Nanotechnology Building.

9/07: Patenting bar of soap with a pointed end for those hard-to-reach spots.

9/15: Marveling that spouse didn’t notice I was speaking-in-tongues during last night’s big argument.

9/22: Wondering who you have to know to score one of those Genius Grants.

9/28: Patting myself on the back for being in a rut where I can go faster and not swerve around.

10/22: Applying for pundit jobs.

11/03: Raising bail money for Impersonating a Vegetarian charge.

Part I. Guest Post

My late brother Kevin had nine followers on Twitter. Excerpted tweets from 2009:

6/12: Bench pressing 275 pounds

6/13: Waiting for Obama to return my call.

6/14: Imagining improbable couplings.

6/15: Getting ready for strawberry-picking field trip with my Empathy class.

6/16: Reading Proust with one hand tied behind my back.

6/17: Reorganizing the wine cellar.

6/18: Having my doubts.

6/19: Researching website concepts for Halibut for Humanity.

6/20: Rotating taillights

6/22: Chafing under Tour de France steroid regulations.

6/23: Taking the road to Hawi.

6/27: Moonwalking.

6/28: Sorting a can of mixed nuts.

6/29: Tuning the oboe.

7/01: Sharpening my spatial skills.

7/03: Seamlessly slipping my word-of-the-day, susurrus, into conversations.

7/07: Lobbying Hawaiians to add at least one more letter to their alphabet.

7/08: Caving to pressure from the kids for playdates with Sasha and Melia.

7/14: Working on “Hefeweizen” with speech therapist.

7/15: Getting coffee cup handle to stop at the front of the microwave.

7/16: Daydreaming about existentialism.

7/20: Constructing a giant gorilla out of coat hangers.

7/21: Decoding the clues planted in “Suicide Squeeze.”

7/22: Regretting giving the kids tomato paste for their art project.

7/23: Setting clocks back to Standard Time so I don’t have to worry about it in November.

7/24: Experimenting with trombone adhesives in the basement.

7/26: Getting refill on placebos.

7/27: Inventing small, adhesive-backed squares of paper that you can write on and stick anywhere.

7/28: Marshalling documents that prove I was born in the United States.

7/30: Deducing that a warm and personal invitation to the Summer Rock ‘n Roll Party is, in fact, a clever form letter.

8/01: Friending near-strangers because of approaching birthday.

8/03: Pitching investors on “Feel the Burn,” a combined aerobics studio and cigarette shop.”