Academy Awards

I went to bed Sunday night thinking that La La Land had won the Oscar for Best Picture. I obviously turned off the television too soon. The next morning I discovered that Moonlight was the actual winner. A little over a year ago, Steve Harvey crowned the wrong Miss Universe shortly after Donald Trump sold his interest in the pageant. Clearly the current envelope process for awards shows is not working well. The Donald might not be a good President but he could make a case that the entertainment industry celebrities who delight in mocking and attacking him are even more incompetent. They cannot design a system to name the correct winners of their own biggest awards. If I were more widely read, I would do some research to see if the President has already tweeted something to this effect but then he is also part of the entertainment industry. We may need to broaden the candidate pool for President if we intend to redesign complex systems and policies to cover health care, immigration, and the economy. We could allow candidates to be born outside the United States and could remove the age 35 restriction. But then we would probably elect Justin Bieber and he is also an entertainer. Maybe we should recruit professional athletes for the job. Some of them are popular enough to get elected.


Military Rank

I have not yet covered military service because mine is a little sketchy. I only made it to the rank of First Class. I did not earn any merit badges as near as I can remember. Boot Camping was actually fun and one of the reasons some people do not even consider the Boy Scouts as a legitimate branch of the military. I am always a little embarrassed to identify this military service on forms and applications. Sometimes I just pretend I was not in the military at all. I once switched out flag markers to divert hikers from the trail to a latrine. This was risky because I was not able to handle discipline. I was fine with the concept of doing punishment chin-ups in front of the Troop except that I could not do even one. Looking back on scouting experiences at my age is strange. Our Scoutmaster ranked the thirty of us by number but only told us our ranking in a confidential one on one mini conference. Of course, good friends with low numbers or low self esteem were willing to share. I was ranked number 4. Based on my actual performance, maybe he ranked 27 kids tied for fourth. I was in eighth grade and may have even been a Patrol Leader, so possibly the system was seniority based. I know he did this exercise only once even though he promised we could change our ranking based on future performance. I suspect he got some interesting feedback from parents of sixth graders who were ranked 29th or 30th. What I learned from all of this is that a ketchup sandwich tastes like the best food ever if you are starving in the worst Troop ever.


The President is taking leaks seriously, especially at his age when they occur so often during the night. He issued a new Executive Order banning all leaks unless they reflect well on his Presidency, in effect banning all leaks. But since he learned nothing about vetting from the great grate debacle, the Order actually outlawed leeks. Washington State’s Attorney General is seeking a Temporary Restraining Order on behalf of leek farmers. WikiLeaks released a transcript of Steve Bannon’s contentious conversation with the author Sandra Garson over whether she would provide West Wingers free copies of her book How to Fix a Leek. The draft of a speech declaring victory over Mother Nature was also leaked. The writing noted that tornadoes have been limited to level EF3 or less and (contrary to fake news reports) that floods, mudslides, earthquakes, and hurricanes have been minimized during the Trump administration. Where natural disasters have occurred, valuable information has allegedly been extracted which will make America safer. The speech blasts the failing New York Times for claiming volcanic eruptions have increased inside the Trump Administration. A panel of Generals (Mills, Motors, and Insurance) is credited with verifying that Mother Nature lost this first round and that the President is winning big time. The Times reporter who countered that an unnatural disaster is still on the loose faces deportation but is looking forward to it.

250 Words

Often people will fill up time and space according to how much of it they possess. If you have six months to negotiate a contract, it takes that long. If you have two weeks, you can do it more quickly. You can accomplish what you need in a one hour meeting as easily as a two hour meeting. My wife and I have lived in residences with a few hundred square feet, 4000 square feet, and everything in between. We have always filled the space and never rented storage. In fact, our rule has always been that any cars must fit in the garage. So we purge exactly the amount needed to maintain our perpetually overstuffed condition. I once convinced my boss that the world as we knew it would end if I reduced headcount in my department by five. We cut only four but a few years later when I was the boss, the person running that department met a target of four more reductions without any difficulty. When I first started writing a daily blog, I had no restriction on length. But early on, I sensed the value of brevity and began limiting myself to 300 words. This improved the longer rambles by forcing a tightening up. But it also had the unintended effect of lengthening shorter posts by promoting padding as if getting to 300 words was a goal regardless of content, like a school essay project. So I am experimenting. Today my goal is to come in at 250 words.

Make America Grate

I originally titled this posting “Wind” and noted that without context, I could not tell if my assigned topic was a noun or a verb. I wrote that I would probably wind up writing about the invisible entities in the air that shake the trees because I think that is the most likely usage of wind in a subject line. It has the mystery of being felt and unseen (except for its effects), unlike other weather elements like rain, snow, hail, sleet, and sun. On the other hand, you can have crooked, twisty fun with the wind that uses the past participle wound. That is, if you are not mentally winded or wounded by such nonsense. Then I suddenly realized much of the political consternation in the country is the result of a simple spelling error. I thought I had discovered an anomaly with the word “number” in an earlier posting but learned that homonyms (words spelled the same with different meanings) become homographs when they are pronounced differently like bass, bow, does, sewer, wind, and wound. At least 156 English words fit this definition. I remember antonyms, homonyms, and synonyms from school but not homographs or homophones (words pronounced the same but spelled differently). I totally missed (mist) that over 400 homophone pairs (pares) exist, so I probably should not waste (waist) your time (thyme) with them. However, I invested way (weigh) too much research and effort not to post something. Donald Trump ran on a promise to make America Grate Again and he is keeping that promise. His only mistake was misspelling “grate,” accidentally misleading some voters to his benefit. He will be fixing this by issuing an Executive Order repealing and replacing all dictionaries used in the Obama administration.


My three sons and three daughters in law are all avid readers, so I stock up on books from Amazon to use as gifts. I keep a stack in my bedroom of new releases that get good reviews and/or seem to fit the interests of a particular person. Last Christmas I gave a Grisham novel to my youngest son Matt who lives in the same house with me. In January while we were finally cleaning up Christmas chaos, I noticed the book in my bedroom and included it back in the gift stack, not realizing it was Matt’s. In early February I gave my oldest son Ryan the same book for his birthday. At the unwrapping, Matt noted I had given him a copy of the same Grisham book at Christmas. My wife chirped in that she was wondering where that book went because she was reading it. Ryan asked, “Are you re-gifting Matt’s book to me?” Matt was perturbed both that his Mother had swiped his book and that I had given it away. I felt bad for this mess. So at my wife’s birthday later in the month, I wrapped up a Garth Stein for Ryan as an apology of sorts. He told me that was the book he gave me for Christmas. Obviously I had lost configuration control of my book pile. I still have not replenished Matt’s book. And I took the Stein novel back from Ryan. I am afraid to choose replacements, probably for Easter, because I will likely forget and give them books they already have or ones they gave me. Or maybe I should do it on purpose as a running family joke because I think it already is one.

Alternate Facts

I initiated my blog last August. What perfect timing! I have always specialized in Fake News and Alternate Facts; but in the last six months both those concepts have exploded in popularity. On the other hand, I am a little disappointed that my lifetime specialty seems less original now that the fake alternatives are trending. Actually only the catchy terms are new, fake news and alternate facts have been popular forever. Eve blamed a talking snake for apple theft. Sometimes the alternate facts turn out to be the actual facts. Bad things happened to people who first said the earth was round and revolved around the sun. Maybe some future scientist will discover that the earth actually is flat and/or is the true center of the Universe because of time and space distortion. Perhaps our current science is based on an optical illusion. Did not some brainy guy like Einstein or Spock prove that the shortest distance between two lines is not a straight line in space because of curvature? Or if that theory of relativity is debunking gravity, maybe someone else will be bunking it in the future. I could go google all this for accuracy, but I swore off all science education after flunking Chemistry in high school. And keeping that oath has been as easy for me as avoiding snakes, ice skating, and beets.

Red Sauce

I have always had a love affair with tomato based sauces. It began as ketchup in my youth. That was steak sauce to me. Tomato soup was my favorite soup as it allowed me to eat red sauce straight. Even as a kid, I liked stewed tomatoes. I have gravitated to salsa as an adult, trying to cut the sugar and calories. To the dismay of my family, I have smuggled sauce in mini bottles into restaurants too good to serve ketchup. My addiction has nothing to do with the flavor or seasoning of the entree. Of course, ketchup can help salvage dry unseasoned food but I like it even when unnecessary. I can eat and enjoy sauceless food and often do. But I long ago figured out that what I crave is the texture of sauce on food. I like chocolate sauce on either vanilla or chocolate ice cream. I can eat salmon plain but every bit of lemon or relish is a plus to me. At the ballpark, I will squeeze some ketchup on the salmon in my salad. That is no different to me than having a salmon salad with French dressing. When I was dating my wife, her best friend cooked a wonderful stroganoff dish for us. That is a meal that is all about the sauce. I should have been thrilled. But I was boorish enough to ask if I could put some ketchup on it. Sauce on sauce! The cook graciously assented. I did not have a clue to my rudeness. But age punishes me with the perspective to cringe over so many incidents like this one.


In is a damning prefix that takes a positive and flips it to the negative. I have been described by employers as insincere, inexact, inexperienced, inessential, incapable, insensitive, and inhumane. The damage I have done to morale has been characterized as inestimable and incalculable. The conclusion is inescapable, so my resume documents that I have been universally acclaimed as invaluable. This is what happens when you major in English at Electoral College.

Birthday Blues

My wife Mollie is a creature of habit and she schedules her birthday on the same day every year. That is why I do not understand why she cannot get in the habit of reading my blog every day. At first I thought it was because birthdays are more fun. But I know for a fact that her birthdays are even more painful than my blogs. I attended her 18th birthday party at her Mom’s house thanks to the prescience of her best friend who wangled me an invitation. Mollie and her boyfriend had just broken up and he came to her back door during the party. At the time, I did not recognize the significance of that drama to me and my unborn children. I was not Mollie’s type. The ex boyfriend studied Greek, was student body vice president, and earned football and basketball letters. I studied Geek, was writing my blog on bathroom walls, and earned disciplinary letters. But the one rebound I grabbed was Huge. It made me a big time Winner which is ironic because Mollie’s pet name for me is Loser. Just like fifty two years ago, she has already had a very bad birthday experience this year. We will laugh about it in a future blog. Hopefully it will take less than 52 more years to get to that point.  Meanwhile, I continue to enjoy her birthdays and my blogs more than she does.