Monday, April 23, 2018

They say that Spanish is one of the easiest languages to learn

...but be careful or you might call the pope a potato (12:12).

Señor Wences's little friend used to say, "For you easy, for me difficult."

In the fifth grade I learned a sentence in Spanish, "Este es el gato" (This is the cat). It was the only thing I knew in Spanish for many years. One day when I was in my fifties a gang of us at work decided to go out to lunch at a Mexican restaurant. As we were being shown to our table, Paul (a temporary employee who was never offered a permanent position) called out loud enough for everyone in the place to hear,"Donde es las mujeres?" and every waiter turned to look at us. It was pretty embarrassing, and even more so when I learned that Paul was saying, "Where are the women?"

I had learned my second sentence in Spanish.

Paul was, how you say, a little loco in the cabeza.

But then, aren't we all?

I can also say "Good morning" in Albanian (Mirë mengjes), "Goodbye" in Japanese (Sayonara), "Thank you" in Portuguese (Obrigado), and "Where is the men's toilet?" in Swedish (Var finns der herrtoaletten?).

My passport expired in 1979. It's probably a good thing.

Saturday, April 21, 2018

Real Texans never tire of certain subjects

Today being April 21st, please, pretty please with sugar on top, do the following:

First, if you are reading this on a smart phone, return to the previous screen, scroll to the bottom of the list of posts, and click on "View web version" because you can't do what I'm going to ask you to do on the smart phone layout.

Okay, then. Is everybody ready? Let us proceed.

Scroll down until you see the word LABELS over there on the right side of your screen and continue scrolling, and scrolling, and scrolling. Eventually you will reach an entry called "San Jacinto". Click on it. You will be shown four previous posts of mine about -- wait for it -- San Jacinto.

Your assignment, should you choose to accept it, is to read every last word of the first, second, and fourth post, including every last comment. The third post contains many links that have nothing to do with San Jacinto, but if you would like to receive extra credit for the course, you must read the third post also.

A word to the wise: The final examination may contain questions from all four posts, including what kind of underwear General Santa Anna wore, why bluebonnets are important, and who Jerry Ragsdale is.

Thank you ever so much. A happy, restful, and peaceful April 21st to each and every one of you.

This post will self-destruct in five seconds.

Wednesday, April 18, 2018

The Outer Hebrides are fascinating at this time of year

...especially if you have a blogger friend named Graham Edwards who lives there and posts the following mathematical limerick:

12 + 144 + 20 + (3 x √4) + (5 x 11) = 92 + 0

Yes, it's a limerick. And if you can't figure it out, another blogger, a Scotsman named Adrian Ward who not only repairs big machinery but also takes microphotographs of fungus and insects, can:

A dozen, a gross and a score,
Plus three times the square root of four,
Divided by seven,
Plus five times eleven,
Is nine squared and not a bit more.

The world is a wonderful place.

That's all for today.

P.S. - Something or other involving the colonies and Paul Revere happened on this day in 1775.

Monday, April 16, 2018

77 is just a number

...but if you are a Biblical numerologist (I am not) numbers have meanings. For example, 6 is the number of man because man was created on the sixth day; 3 is the number of God because although God is one, Christians believe He is triune (three in one) as Father, Son, and Holy Spirit; 7 is the number of perfection because God rested from His creating on the seventh day, 8 is the number of new beginnings because everything starts over again after 7; and so forth.

If you believe any of this stuff (the jury is still out) then 666 as the number of the Anti-Christ makes sense because, well, 6 is the number of man and 3 is the number of God, so three sixes would be man trying to be God, but not succeeding because God's perfection is represented by the number 777 and it is clear that 666 will never be 777, no way, José.

I sound more like Billy Ray Barnwell every day (samples of his writing here and here).

None of this matters in the slightest except that last month on my birthday I turned 77, so I am now, by a certain kind of reckoning, not merely perfect but perfectly perfect. The only way I could be any more perfect is if I live to be 777, which won't happen any time soon, if ever.

I do want to thank all you wonderful people out there in the dark Elizabeth S. of Sheffield, Yorkshire, England in the U.K. for telling me more about the number 77:

  • It is the sum of the first eight prime numbers:
    2 + 3 + 5 + 7 + 11 + 13 + 17 + 19

  • It is the sum of three consecutive squares:
    42 + 52 + 62; that is, 16 + 25 + 36

  • It is the atomic number of iridium.

    Wikipedia says of this element, "A very hard, brittle, silvery-white transition metal of the platinum group, iridium is the second densest element (after osmium). It is also the most corrosion-resistant metal, even at temperatures as high as 2000 °C. Although only certain molten salts and halogens are corrosive to solid iridium, finely divided iridium dust is much more reactive and can be flammable." Any similarities you may think you detect between the characteristics of iridium and moi are purely coincidental.

  • It is the boiling point of nitrogen on the Kelvin scale (°K). For your information, 77°K equals minus 195 degrees Celsius (°C) and minus 320 degrees Fahrenheit (°F).

  • In the United Methodist Hymnal (1989 edition), hymn 77 is "How Great Thou Art"

  • Psalm 77 in the King James Version of the Bible (KJV) is headed as being "To the Chief Musician" and in the New International Version (NIV) as being "For the Director of Music".

Elizabeth also mentioned how cool it was that God, who knew how important I was going to be, had the Psalmist write a psalm especially for me all those years ago!

I close this post by inviting all of you to the next meeting of Narcissists Anonymous, time and place to be announced later.

Friday, April 13, 2018

I'm walkin' up the highway

Hilltophomesteader (Pam D. in southwest Washington state) sent me a "belated happy birthday" email and wondered if all was well because I have not posted anything in several weeks.

The short answer is yes indeedy, All Is well! (3:52), although I do admit to being a little out of sync seasonally.

That song may be appropriate for Christmas Eve, but He is not in the manger now. Easter has come, and as a friend of mine said in an unintentionally humorous post on Facebook during Holy Week, "Let us be reminded Jesus died on that cross but He arose on the third day and now sets on the right hand of the Father, making intersections for us (pleading our case)." [emphasis mine]

Somewhere Mrs. Malaprop is nodding in agreement. For the Biblically-challenged, the word my friend meant was intercession. Also, only someone like me who grew up around chickens seems to know the difference between sets and sits these days. But I digress.

Because of the way my mind works, I immediately thought of the third verse of the old Fanny Crosby hymn, "To God Be the Glory":

Great things He hath taught us, great things He hHath done,
And great our rejoicing through Jesus the Son,
But purer and higher and greater will be
Our wonder, our transport, when Jesus we see.
[once again, emphasis mine]

Get it? Intersections? Transport?

Well, I thought it was funny.

But then I started thinking (always a dangerous practice) and decided maybe my friend had a point. After all, the book of Isaiah tells of “the voice of one crying in the wilderness, prepare ye the way of the Lord, make straight in the desert a highway for our God.”

Highways, even the limited-access kind, have to have points of access or they are useless. So maybe Christ really is making intersections for us.

Here are some happy travelers on the highway (8:18).

Wednesday, March 21, 2018

Start spreadin' the news -- I'm a millionaire!

Or so says someone who calls himself Eric Howard. Apparently I ignored a previous reach-out so he/she/it has tried again. If I were a betting man (I'm not), I would bet almost anything that "Eric" lives in Nigeria.

Here is what I received in my e-mail yesterday:


From: "Eric Howard"
Reply to:

This is for your information,

Sequel to your non response we wish to notify you again that you were listed as beneficiary to the total sum of US$9 Million only in the intent of the deceased. On my first email I mentioned about my late client whose relatives I cannot get in touch with. But both of you have the same last name so it will be very easy to front you as his official next of kin. I am compelled to do this because I would not want the finance house to push my clients funds into their treasury as unclaimed inheritance.

We contacted you because you bear the Last name with our Late Client and therefore can present you as the Beneficiary to the inheritance since there is no written w i l l. Our legal services aim to provide our private clients with a complete service. We are happy to set-up all modalities and administer Trusts,carry out the administration of estates. All the papers will be processed in your acceptance of this Transaction.

Note that you are to furnishing me with the requested information's bellow immediately;

Full names.
Contact address.
Telephone and fax numbers.

If you are interested you do let me know so that I can give you Comprehensive details on what we are to do. Waiting for your response.

Yours faithfully,

Eric Howard.

So much about this email is obviously phony. English is not Eric's first language and the punctuation is atrocious.

I think I'll pass. I will not be to furnishing Eric with "the requested information's bellow" immediately or otherwise.

I could give him Comprehensive details on what he is to do, especially with his modalities, but I will restrain myself.

It just struck me that "Eric Howard" is inventively close to the name Eric Holder, who was President Barack Obama's first Attorney General. How dumb does this scammer think I am?

Don't answer that.

Monday, March 19, 2018

Eating humble pie, or When what one is sure is absolutely right turns out to be absolutely wrong

Mrs. RWP and I spend a great deal of time doing two things.

It's probably not what you're thinking.

The two things we spend a lot of time doing, besides eating and sleeping, is playing Words With Friends (a Scrabble-like game) on our smart phones and watching the BUZZR channel on television.

We used to get television via cable, but when the cable company raised its rate by five dollars a month every January for several years in a row, we finally said "Enough!" and switched to satellite. In the U.S., two of the major satellite providers are DirectTV and Dish Network. We have Dish Network. It has a channel called BUZZR that is rather like GSN (the Game Show Network) in that most of the programs shown are game shows from decades ago.

It may be yesterday's junk food, but it is better than today's junk food. We have never watched, and refuse to watch, many of the programs being offered nowadays, programs other people seem to enjoy, like The Walking Dead, Game Of Thrones, and House Of Cards. Thanks, but no thanks. And many so-called comedies today are just plain offensive. As Violet Crawley, Dowager Countess of Grantham, once said, "Vulgarity is no substitute for wit."

So we watch BUZZR.

Sometimes we watch shows from the 1970s and 1980s such as Match Game (with host Gene Rayburn and celebrity panelists Brett Somers, Charles Nelson Reilly, Richard Dawson, Fannie Flagg, Betty White, and others), Tattletales (with host Bert Convy), Trivia Trap (with host Bob Eubanks, before he hosted The Newlywed Game), Beat the Clock (the later iteration with host Monty Hall), Now You See It (with host Jack Narz), and Family Feud (with several different hosts, most prominently Richard Dawson who kissed all the women).

I have never cared for Family Feud because it does not deal with right answers and wrong answers but with the most popular answers. For example, when contestants were asked to name something one might see at the North Pole, the most popular answer was "penguin" and we all know, or should, that penguins are not found in the Arctic.

But I digress.

We also watch even older, black-and-white shows from the 1960s and even the 1950s such as What's My Line? (with host John Daly and celebrity panelists Dorothy Kilgallen, Bennett Cerf, and Arlene Francis), I've Got A Secret (with host Garry Moore and celebrity panelists Bill Cullen, Betsy Palmer, Henry Morgan, and Bess Myerson), To Tell The Truth (with host Bud Collier and celebrity panelists Tom Poston, Faye Emerson, Peggy Cass, Kitty Carlisle, a very young Merv Griffin, and a very young Johnny Carson), the original version of Beat the Clock (with host Bud Collier), and even obscure ones like The Name's The Same (with host Robert Q. Lewis and celebrity panelists like Abe Burrows and Meredith Wilson).

I can hear some of you saying, "Who?"

Be that as it may, I forge ahead with my fascinating post.

I'll be getting to the reason for this post shortly. Any time now. Hang in there.

It occurred to me this week while I was watching an episode of Beat the Clock from 1953 that that program was 65 years old. I probably watched it live on a 12-inch screen in my parents' house when I was 12 years old. It further occurred to me that if modern technology had been around in 1953, I could have watched people and game shows from 65 years earlier, from 1888. That thought blew me away, as the young folks say, even though I'm pretty sure there were no game shows in 1888.

Anyway, on What’s My Line? recently one of the contestants was a young man with dark hair who signed in as Tom Eagleton and the occupation or “line” the panel was supposed to determine was district attorney of St. Louis, Missouri. I said, "Oh, look! There's a very young Tom Eagleton!" and explained to Mrs. RWP that Tom Eagleton later became Senator from Missouri and a few years after that he was selected by Hubert Humphrey to be his Vice-Presidential running mate on the Democratic Party's ticket in 1968 but was removed from the ticket a short time later and replaced by Senator Edmund Muskie of Maine when it became known that Senator Eagleton had suffered from bouts of depression throughout his life, resulting in several hospitalizations that had been kept secret from the public. The Humphrey-Muskie ticket went on to lose to Richard Nixon in November.

Go to the top of this post right now and read the title of this post again. Don't forget to come back and continue reading.

People sometimes tell me what a phenomenal memory I have and how many facts I have at my disposal, but this time my memory failed me and the facts were a bit skewed. One day later, when I went to my trusty computer to learn more about Senator Eagleton, I discovered that in this particular instance I was wrong, wrong, wrong.

Senator Tom Eagleton of Missouri was indeed picked to be the Vice-Presidential candidate on the Democratic Party ticket but it wasn't by Hubert Humphrey, he wasn't replaced by Senator Edmund Muskie of Maine, and it didn't happen in 1968.

It turns out that Senator Tom Eagleton of Missouri was selected by George McGovern to be his Vice-Presidential running mate in 1972, and he was replaced by Sargent Shriver, John F. Kennedy's brother-in-law. Interestingly, the McGovern-Shriver ticket also went on to lose to Richard Nixon in November.

Lo, how the mighty are fallen. Not Eagleton or Humphrey or Muskie or McGovern or Shriver. Not any of them.


Oh, the shame! Oh, the humiliation!

And although some of you may even be thinking "It's about time he had his comeuppance," humble pie can be quite tasty, actually, when it is swallowed whole and accompanied by a nice cup of hot coffee.

Here are some American politicians of yesteryear. I'll let you decide who is most depressed. My answer appears after the photos.

My vote for most depressed goes to the American public.

On a happier note, yesterday was my 77th birthday!