Pick Pilkerton Premium Packing Peanuts! Perfect for packaging presents, pads, paddles, pictures, parrots, pygmies, pendants, pennants, pajamas, pulmotors, pyramids, perfume, platypuses, plankton, parasites, piglets, peacocks, probes, pangolins, pupae, platters, poboys, panzers, penicillin, pulpits, pupils, pumpkins, Puritans, Popes, pantywaists, and other paraphernalia. Prepared from pure pasteurized pasta flour and plaster Pilkerton Premium Packing Peanuts are preferred by performers, politicians’ pages and pals for parties and presentations, patricians, perfectionists, and poets laureate for perfunctory perusal by pedestrian patrons. Put away poor and pathetic packaging products that pretend parsimoniousness but pettily pilfer your pennies and leave you pensive while your parcels peradventure plod to perdition. Pass by their perniciousness peccadilloes. Pilkerton Packing Peanuts will pacify your panicked pacing. Perspicacious porters praise our platoons of people as paladins of perfection. Perspire no more, and our prices won’t leave you impecunious. Put aside prangs and pratfalls. The proof is in the pudding and a high percent of the public perches Pilkerton Premium Packing Peanuts on a pedestal.
Pause use of Pilkerton Premium Packing Peanuts if you perceive the appearance of pimples, pustules, or pyorrhea. Pilkerton Premium Packing Peanuts are preemptively purged of poisons and pests but problems may still present.
Pilkerton Packing Peanuts. Proudly produced in Poughkeepsie.
April 2017-The Freethinkers Anonymous fiscal year runs from April 1st-March 30th for reasons no one can remember and no one really wants to bother to research because the archive is located in the attic and there are wasps up there. This year the team responsible for writing the 2017/2018 annual report looked at the calendar and was faced with a crisis: delay because April 1st was Easter, or go ahead and risk getting egged? After much discussion the decision was made to go ahead when an assistant manager said, “If you’re going to postpone it you better hurry up and do it.” There was also discussion about whether April 2018 would be mentioned in the report, but this was put aside with a company-wide vote affirming that March comes in like a lion and goes out like a lamb with really bad diarrhea.
May 2017-An internal audit revealed that sometimes the company finances are in the red and sometimes in the black and sometimes in green and once in a color that, after much research, was revealed to be Noodler’s Dragon’s Napalm. A team was put together to figure out whether there’s actually any money coming in and also to figure out what the word “amortize” means.
June 2017-A series of focus groups drawn from the general population was brought in and asked whether they preferred the 1977 Rankin-Bass animated version of J.R.R.R. Tolkien’s The Hobbit or the three-part live-action version directed by Peter Jackson released beginning in 2012. Respondents fell into three broad categories: those who were unfamiliar with or had never seen either adaptation, those who preferred the 1977 Rankin-Bass animated version, and those who preferred the live-action version. The first two groups were dismissed. The final group was kept and asked a series of additional questions starting with, “What the hell is wrong with you?”
July 2017-Kevin was sent out for milkshakes. At the time of this report he has not yet returned.
August 2017-Blah blah blah productivity blah efficiency blah staff morale blah blah blah accounting something something pensions lost blah blah criminal charges blah prison time yadda yadda something something anyone else remember the show Hill Street Blues and the guy who called people “dogbreath”? What was that supposed to mean?
Chuck: Let’s take a call. It looks like we have Gloria from Poughkeepsie on line 2. Hi Gloria, welcome to the show. What’s your question?
Gloria: Hi Chuck. My husband and I have invested in a small property which we plan to use for short-term rentals. What zoning regulations do we need to look at most carefully, and what kind of insurance should we get in the case of property damage?
Chuck: That’s a great question, Gloria. That’s a really good question. Boy, is that a good question. You know, when my producer suggested we do a show on real estate I didn’t anticipate a question that good. In some cultures people eat leeches. To get back to your question, Gloria, it’s a really good question. That’s the sort of question you really put a lot of thought into. The Beach Boys used a theremin in their song “Good Vibrations”. Anyway, regarding your question, that’s a really good question. One of the most famous stage directions in theater is “Exeunt pursued by a bear,” from Shakespeare’s A Winter’s Tale, and on that note it looks like we’re out of time. Thanks for your call, Gloria! And the producer is telling me we still have a minute and a half, so I’m going to curl up into a ball on the floor until everyone goes away.
October 2017-The company corn maze was deemed an enormous success. The only dissenting voice came from Tom in advertising who suggested that it would have been better if the corn had actually been planted several months earlier instead of just scattered on the ground. Katherine in security took him aside and explained that if he didn’t think it was a success he’d be “sent out for milkshakes”. After this brief meeting staff approval of the maze was unanimous.
November 2017-A staff memo recommending that Kevin be put in charge of the office thermostat contained a typo with the result that the office thermostat was adjusted to Kelvin. Staff remarked that it did seem a lot warmer now that all temperatures were adjusted upward by 273 degrees Celsius or 460 degrees Fahrenheit.
December 2017-The annual office holiday party was held, as usual, at the Sheepshead Pub on 27th Avenue. As usual no one showed up.
January 2018-Management announced that this was the perfect time to wash the car. A focus group made up solely of managers was put together and subjected to a series of questions starting with, “What the hell is wrong with you?”
February 2018-Valentines were exchanged by all staff on February on Tuesday, February 13th, because that’s how we roll. Accounting reminded everyone that the question of black versus red ink had been brought up several months earlier but never fully resolved. A decision was made to use multiple colors and let everything sort itself out later. This was followed by a toast made with glasses of chartreuse.
March 2018-Exeunt pursued by a lamb.
On March 13th, 1781 the astronomer William Herschel spotted what he thought was an unusual comet but which he and other astronomers would quickly discover was a planet. It’s the first planet discovered in modern times which makes Uranus very special. Take a little time to explore Uranus, probe its mysteries, and consider what we’ve learned about Uranus since William Herschel first looked up and saw it two hundred and thirty-seven years ago. Like its neighbors, Jupiter, Saturn, and Neptune, it’s a gas giant. Uranus is full of hydrogen and helium but also in its depths contains ice and rock. Uranus also has a complex cloud system with the lowest clouds believed to be made up of water while the upper layers are methane. There’s a lot of methane in Uranus.
On January 24th, 1986 the Voyager 2 spacecraft probed Uranus. Astronomers at the time called it “the most boring planet” but subsequent studies have shown just how interesting Uranus is. Less than a decade earlier, in 1977, astronomers first discovered rings around Uranus, and then in December 2005 the Hubble telescope detected two additional rings much farther out.
There are also twenty-seven known moons orbiting Uranus. The largest, Titania, orbits Uranus every 8.7 days and because of its closeness to the planet the same side always faces Uranus. Uranus itself orbits the Sun every eighty-four years, which means that since its discovery Uranus hasn’t even been around the Sun three times. However Uranus has a very fast rotation: one day on Uranus is just seventeen hours and fourteen minutes.
Of course Uranus is not alone. There’s also the city of Uranus, right in the middle of Missouri. Uranus is a well-known tourist stop along the historic Route 66, although I think the stretch surrounding it should be renamed the Herschel Highway. The city is known for its fudge factory and also a tattoo place for people who want to be able to say they got a tattoo in Uranus.
Today and every March 13th I hope you’ll join me in spending a little time contemplating Uranus.
A few years ago I wrote a post about worms and how whenever I see one struggling to get somewhere I like to help it along. Little did I realize that would come back to haunt me, and I’ve agreed to allow a member of the community to offer some further thoughts.
It’s been unseasonably warm lately even though it’s technically still winter and therefore should be seasonably cold. It’s also been pretty rainy. The weather is something I talk about with almost every person I run into, at least after the shock and the accusations and the exchange of insurance information, but that’s another story. It occurred to me that the weather is such a popular topic for conversation because it’s something we all live with and something most of us can agree on, unless you go to a meteorologists’ conference and there will be at least a dozen fistfights over whether cumulus or cirrus clouds are better.
Whenever we get rain, and especially when we get a lot of rain, in the middle of the winter someone will inevitably say, imagine if this were all snow. And I always wonder why we never seem to get as much snow as we get rain–that is, we’ll get two or three inches of rain at a time and according to at least one reasonably scientific-sounding site one inch of rain equals approximately ten inches of snow. Maybe it’s a good thing we don’t get that much snow here in Tennessee where I am. Here’s a helpful guide to what happens when it does snow:
1 inch or less: Wild, disorganized rioting in groceries begins. Children are automatically released from school because snow’s mysterious beguiling properties will keep them from learning anything as long as it’s coming down.
1-3 inches: Grocery stores set up special barricades to prevent looting. Checkout-people are issued handguns. This is the only time that the “ten items or less” rule in the Express Lane is enforced.
3-6 inches: Cars entering the state are stopped. Any with license plates farther north than Kentucky are refused entrance for fear that drivers with experience driving in snow will interfere with locals intent on causing as many wrecks as possible. Children who have been given sleds by Yankee relatives test their reaction time by careening around assorted wreckage and gasoline fires.
6-9 inches: Salt trucks are fired up and used by public officials as escape vehicles. As snow levels reach the upper limit, the emergency broadcast system is used to inform people that “all hell is about to break loose.”
Over 9 inches: The mayor will declare martial law from a hotel room in Florida.
And in the words of the southern Roman scholar Cletus, “Permittet ningitere!”
A lot of Earth is about to celebrate another orbit of the Sun at midnight on December 31st, although technically it takes Earth about 365.25 days to make a full ellipse so if you really want to celebrate the new year when it happens you need to stay up until sometime around six a.m., and I’m probably way off on that because a day on Earth is about 23 hours and 56 minutes, so who knows when the new year really starts? Anyway that’s just a year on this planet. Elsewhere in our solar system a year is a little different.
Even though Pluto is no longer a planet Clyde Tombaugh’s 1930 discovery is still pretty impressive, and when Pluto isn’t inside Neptune’s orbit–which it was from 1979 to 1999 and will be again in a couple of centuries–it’s the beginning of the edge of our solar system, at least as far as we know. It’s so far away from the Sun its atmosphere is frozen solid for part of its year which, in Earth time, lasts 248 years.
Neptune is the only planet in our solar system that was discovered without direct observation. Its influence over its neighbor Uranus gave it away and its orbit was calculated in 1846 by two mathematicians working independently: the English John Couch Adams and the French Urbain Leverrier, who now share joint credit. It takes Neptune 165 of our years to make one orbit of the Sun. Its smaller moon Nereid takes a full Earth year to orbit Neptune while its larger moon Triton takes only six days–moving backwards, the only moon in the solar system that does so.
Fourteen times more massive than Earth you could fit a lot in Uranus. In 1977 astronomers discovered rings around Uranus. Even though it seems to have been observed even by some ancient astronomers it’s really hard to see Uranus, and it wasn’t until William Herschel spotted Uranus with a telescope in 1781 that Uranus was known to be a planet. With an axial tilt of more than 80 degrees Uranus is almost sideways. Scientists think this is because a large object hit Uranus sometime in the past, but Uranus can really take a beating. It takes Uranus 84 Earth years to orbit the Sun.
In 2010, Arthur C. Clarke’s sequel to 2001, Jupiter explodes, forming a new star in our solar system. In the next book in the series, 2061, the year Halley’s comet returns, it’s discovered that the explosion shot giant diamonds out into the solar system. At one time scientists believed all the gas giants might have enormous diamonds floating in their depths, but they’ve now rethought that. And while it’s hard to determine the length of a day for a planet that doesn’t really have a surface Jupiter, the biggest planet in the solar system, has one of the shortest days: it rotates in less than ten hours, giving it a lot of days while it takes just a little under twelve Earth years to complete a solar orbit.
With its red color Mars has been considered by many cultures to be a harbinger of war and even a possible threat, but with a better understanding of our solar system it’s taken on a new role of potential stepping stone. If we ever want to leave home, metaphorically and astronomically speaking, Mars will be our first, best place to stop. Slightly more than half the size of Earth Mars may have once had an atmosphere and even liquid water and life, but with only two small irregular moons, Deimos and Phobos, it didn’t have Earth’s stability. Its year is 687 of our days.
Venus is nearly as large as Earth and considered our planet’s twin, although its sulphuric acid snow, surface temperatures in excess of 460 degrees Celsius, and dense cloud cover Venus is even less hospitable than Duluth in February. A Venusian year is 225 of our days but, because of its proximity to the Sun, a day on Venus last 243 of our days. Imagine living in a place where a single day lasts longer than a year. Because Venus is closer to the Sun than Earth it also appears to us to go through phases like the Moon, which was the first giveaway to Galileo that the Earth goes around the Sun, rather than the other way around.
And both last and least is Mercury, the hardest planet to spot from Earth because it’s so close to the Sun, usually only visible just around sunset. Over the fifty-nine days that it takes Mercury to cycle through a single day its temperature reaches 427 degrees Celsius then drops precipitously to -183 Celsius at midnight. Its days are more than half as long as its years which last just 88 of our days.
And we’re all moving along with our Sun around the Milky Way, bobbing up and down in an outer arm, as our galaxy itself moves through space.
The 24th annual Mosconi Cup starts in Las Vegas today, pitting Team USA against Team Europe. While I don’t like to indulge in nationalism I am cheering for the American team, partly because this is where I live, and partly because the Europeans have won seven years in a row. Earlier this year the Americans made a surprising announcement that they hoped would turn the tide: this year the team coach is Johan Ruijsink, who’s not only Dutch but also a former Team Europe coach.
The great thing about his appointment, aside from his experience, is that it emphasizes the international nature of the Mosconi Cup. Baseball has the World Series, which only includes one Canadian team, U.S. football–not to be confused with soccer which the rest of the world calls “football”–has the Superbowl, and basketball has, I don’t know, some thing where the best teams play for a giant shoe maybe. Granted the Mosconi Cup is not pool’s biggest event, nor is it truly international. Unlike, say, the World 9-Ball Championship which is open to men and women and draws players from the entire globe, the Mosconi Cup only has two all-male teams from the US and Europe. Still it is a big event and named for one of the game’s best players ever. Willie Mosconi, whose parents were Irish and Italian, also wasn’t just a great player. He also worked hard to bring respectability and decorum to a game that was all too often associated with gambling and alcoholism. As another great pool player, Dan McGoorty, who was, admittedly, also quite a hustler, used to say, “Gentlemen play billiards. Bums play pool.” He was referring to a now mostly obsolete distinction between “billiards”, games like balkline or three-cushion, played on tables without pockets, and games like 9-ball, played on tables with pockets. Willie Mosconi, who hated hustlers and cheats, was one of the players who tried to change that perception of pool. He was very competitive, but also believed strongly that the best player should win. It’s fitting that the event that bears his name is a 9-ball tournament and that it’s as cooperative as it is competitive, that players have to work together as teams.
So, while I’m cheering for Team USA, out of respect for the individual whose name is on the cup, I also say, may the best team win.
So a blogger who goes by the name of mydangblog, to keep worlds from colliding, gave me the gift of a Liebster Award, which tickles me, but it also puts me in a quandary. A quandary, by the way, is three dilemmas, a dilemma is four jams, a jam is a bewilderment plus a difficulty, and two quandaries equals a hornet’s nest, but that’s another story. The Liebster Award is supposed to be passed along to five others, but I don’t want to risk putting anyone else in a quagmire, and I’m also afraid of leaving someone out. Even if I just think about the blogs I try to visit daily there’s Chuck Baudelaire’s Always Drunk which is amusing and references my favorite Charles Baudelaire poem, Ann Koplow’s The Year(s) Of Living Non-Judgmentally, Kristine of Mum Revised, Arionis’s Just A Small Cog, Allison who’d rather be Whistling In The Dark, and I’m already over the limit and haven’t mentioned Anything Except Housework or Rubber Shoes In Hell. And I’m quitting now before I do any further damage by leaving deserving names out and put anyone under unwanted pressure.
The other part of the Liebster Award that I do feel somewhat qualified to handle is a series of questions that I’m pleased to find does not include “What is your favorite swear word?” I’m going to get through it quickly so I can duck out of the spotlight.
1) Why do you write?
Because I don’t have a choice. Honestly, it’s not something I do because I want to, although writing something and sharing it and having other people tell me they enjoyed it feels great, but if I were stranded on a desert island I’d probably inscribe stupid jokes on tree trunks. So the crab says, does this seem fishy?
2) Which of your own blog posts should people read if they want to really know you?
This is a question I feel should be answered by someone else because it needs an objective judgment, although I’m pretty sure no one else really knows me and this blog well enough to answer it. And sometimes it surprises me that something I really like doesn’t go over well, or sometimes I write something I think is funny that other people find scary, which I find strangely hilarious, but I do like this one, or maybe this one, or this one.
3) Best hybrid animal and why?
The chimera. Let me break that out a bit: “chimera” is a creature from mythology and also a science term for an organism that has cells from different zygotes. So, yeah, literally a hybrid at the very deepest level.
4) Flowers or chocolate?
I do enjoy chocolate but those flowers can be pretty tasty too.
5) What was your favourite childhood toy?
After a lot of thinking I’d have to say a little stuffed frog I named Quincy, and let me add that I have no idea where that name came from because this was years before I knew who Jack Klugman was. In fact I still have Quincy. I found him in a box in the attic and then one of our dogs found him and ripped his eye off, which I found strangely hilarious. And it’s why I don’t have any pictures of Quincy. He’s buried far back in the closet somewhere to escape any further indignities.
6) What is one thing about your life that you would change?
Time. I need more time. I want the time to read, watch, and listen to all the stuff out there that I want to get to. The novels of Octavia Butler, several great films and TV shows, and at least a dozen great podcasts are all things I keep trying to get to and get pulled away from by a lack of time.
7) Who is your favourite writer?
It’s a toss-up between Mark Twain and Virginia Woolf, because my two favorite books are A Connecticut Yankee In King Arthur’s Court and Orlando. But I feel like I’m discovering great new writers all the time.
8) Are you crafty? (Either ‘cunning’ or ‘able to make crafts’)
Definitely not crafty in the “cunning” sense and not much of a crafter either. I go to a weekly pottery class because it helps relieve some frustration and tension, although most of my frustration and tension comes from the fact that everything I make in pottery class is stupid and terrible.
9) What movie do you like to watch over and over? Why?
My favorite movie of all time is the original Invasion Of The Body Snatchers with Kevin McCarthy. It’s fun and exciting and I also feel like it can be interpreted in so many ways. Another one I go back to regularly is an almost completely unknown film called A Bucket Of Blood, which has some personal history for me. The title’s very misleading. It’s about a failed sculptor who briefly, and tragically, becomes famous for killing people and turning their bodies into sculptures. I try not to mention it in my pottery class.
10) What makes you laugh?
Here’s my favorite joke: Two guys are photographing a lion in the wild. The lion notices them and starts to move toward them. One of the guys puts on a pair of running shoes. The other guy asks, “You really think you can outrun a lion?” The first guy says, “Forget the lion. I just need to outrun you.”
Do I have a dark sense of humor? People seem to think so, but, hey, if you can’t make light of the darkness what’s the point of laughing?