The blog at random

How do you sell dolls to boys?

This is a thing I’ve been doing at the beginning of the year: pick a post for each month of the previous year, using a random number generator. See how well it reflected that year just passed. Pretty sure I got this from Gordon, who lives in Chicago, who remains the only non-local blogger I ever met.


In 1969, I HAD to root for the New York Mets over the Orioles, and of course, the Amazin’s won.

(Re: Orioles manager Earl Weaver, who had died recently.)


What IS the solution to a fairer voting process?

(Cited Arthur@AmeriNZ)


I’ve wanted to fly since I was a child, had the flying dreams and everything.

(One of those Ask Roger Anything responses.)


“So here’s another question up for interpretation.”

(One of those Internet awards I responded to.)


A ANNOTATE the text by writing down important details, ideas, words, or quotes

(My monthly writing about The Daughter, in which I kvetch about vacation homework. Complaining about homework becomes a recurring theme.)


My paternal grandparents then moved upstairs.

(I swear I hit Father’s Day LAST year. In any case, pictures and memories of growing up in Binghamton, NY.)


*”The most damning element here is not that George Zimmerman was found not guilty: it’s the bitter knowledge that Trayvon Martin was found guilty.”

(Obviously about a certain trial in Florida.)


She was working for an insurance company for a couple years making more annually as she would for her first two years teaching.

(A piece on income inequality. The “she” is The Wife.)


How do you sell dolls to boys?

(Finally, an ABC Wednesday post. This was K for Known As, Formerly.)


Then Arthur wrote about it, and I was going to let it go as a topic.

(Arthur, AGAIN? Anyway, this was about NALT Christians.)

November :

I must say that I didn’t vote for Kathy Sheehan in the primary, and that one of her campaign workers inadvertently talked me into that position.

(Day before Election Day, I write about Albany’s now brand new mayor. Arthur is also mentioned in THIS post!)


But I was always disappointed that certain seemingly simple songs often had ONE note (or more) that wasn’t in the standard scale.

A second ABC Wednesday post, which, considering I wrote one 52 times last year, is not surprising. X is for Xylophone.)
An animated portrait of my 2013 on Twitter, which isn’t terribly interesting as it might be because I don’t use Twitter very much; the one for Arthur is more interesting, but each is less than 50 seconds long.


The 2013 quiz

Thinking by Numbers by Daniel Tammet.

One of those year-in-review quizzes from Jaquandor.

Did you keep your New Year’s resolutions, and will you make more for next year?

Didn’t really make any, so didn’t have to worry about failing to keep them. But then I read Richie’s post and wondered if I’ve been doing it all wrong.

Did anyone close to you give birth?


Did anyone close to you die?

David Janower I was mighty fond of.

What countries did you visit?

Ha! Traveled even less than the previous year.

What would you like to have in 2014 that you lacked in 2013?

More optimism.

What was your biggest achievement of the year?

Despite my complaints about it, a solo in the church play. Also, a reading of Langston Hughes poems.

What was your biggest failure?

Easily distracted. I’m sorry, what did you ask?

What was the best thing you bought?

There are some Kickstarter items that arrived that I liked such as MURDERVILLE Comic Book #1: “A Farewell to Armories”; The Werewolf of New York; and especially a retrospective collection of Kal cartoons from The Economist.

Whose behavior merited celebration?

My friend Lynne Jackson, who attempted to walk to Binghamton for a good cause.

Whose behavior made you appalled and depressed?

Congress, last I checked, had a 12% approval rate, which I assume includes their immediate families, plus the lobbyists who own them.

Where did most of your money go?

The house. Specifically, a new front porch, desperately needed, but very expensive.

What did you get really excited about?

Blogging. Got a second (or ninth) wind.

What song will always remind you of 2013?

Has to be New, by Sir Paul McCartney, the ONLY song my wife, my daughter and I could ALL identify.

Compared to this time last year, are you happier or sadder?

Sadder. The body politic has worn me down.

Thinner or fatter?

About the same.

Richer or poorer?

Poorer. I put aside more money for the health reimbursement program for the daughter’s braces.

What do you wish you’d done more of?

Traveled, but that was a function of money, in no small part.

What do you wish you’d done less of?


How did you spend Christmas?

Went to church, doing the gift thing.

Did you fall in love in 2013?


How many one-night stands?

As many as last year.

What was your favorite TV program?

The Good Wife, CBS Sunday Morning, The Daily Show.

Do you hate anyone now that you didn’t hate this time last year?

Nah, hate is highly overrated.

What was the best book you read?

Thinking by Numbers by Daniel Tammet.

What was your greatest musical discovery?

The music to The Lion King.

What did you want and get?

Books and music.

What did you want and not get?

Our office to move downtown from Corporate (frickin) Woods.

What were your favorite films of this year?

The Sound of Music and Singin’ in the Rain, neither of which I had ever seen in its entirety before.

What did you do on your birthday?

As little as possible.

How would you describe your personal fashion concept in 2013?

As usual, “fashion” is silly. Function over form.

What kept you sane?

Writing; singing; listening to music; learning new stuff; and then I suddenly realized that the question ASSUMES that I AM sane, which may or may not be the case.

Which celebrity/public figure did you fancy the most?

Wendy Davis.

What political issue stirred you the most?

The damn snooping on Americans, and apparently, everyone else, by the NSA.

Who did you miss?

I miss my parents, still.

Who was the best new person you met?

New woman in the office. Her cat’s name is Roger.

Tell us a valuable life lesson you learned in 2013:

I actually went through a period of melancholy caused by some specific circumstances. The situation didn’t change, but my attitude towards it did, and it made it a whole lot more palatable.

Quote a song lyric that sums up your year:

So you think that you’ve got troubles?
Well, trouble’s a bubble,
So tell old Mr. Trouble to “Get lost!”.

Why not hold your head up high and,
Stop cryin’, start tryin’,
And don’t forget to keep your fingers crossed.

When you find the joy of livin’
Is lovin’ and givin’
You’ll be there when the winning dice are tossed.

A smile is just a frown that’s turned upside down,
So smile, and that frown will defrost.
And don’t forget to keep your fingers crossed!

(Who can identify the lyrics? It is one of these.)

December Rambling: Affluenza; the folly of Facebook

“Bitching about what people post on social networks is rather like going to each individual table in your high school cafeteria and demanding that everyone at each table only discuss the topics you want to hear discussed.”

People don’t actually like creativity.

The Trans-Pacific Partnership: Why it’s lousy for the environment and food safety and US sovereignty, not to mention creators’ rights, and why you’ve probably never heard of it.

In this clip, Carl Sagan passionately defends science, with a grave warning.

Secessionists on the ballot.

I mentioned the FOCUS church’s long struggle to feed the hungry. Here’s a print news story and TV story about the cut in food stamps affecting local pantries.

Rev. Frank Schaefer was found guilty by The United Methodist Church for officiating at his son’s same-sex wedding; his response.

Teenager’s Sentence in Fatal Drunken-Driving Case Stirs ‘Affluenza’ Debate; my, when I saw this story on TV I got really ticked off. Will they also accept povertenza as a defense? Didn’t think so.

The former editor-in-chief at the New England Journal of Medicine believes it is no longer possible to believe much of clinical research published.

I didn’t write about that Duck Dynasty cable TV guy, mostly because of time, but also because I didn’t have a fresh angle. Arthur wrote about him, and about his reluctance to write about the issue at all, and it’s pretty much my position too.

How fashion can be used as camouflage from face-detection technology.

There’s a new film about Walt Disney and the making of the movie Mary Poppins: watch Harlan Ellison on “Saving Mr. Banks”. For another new film, Philomena, read this article from three years ago, The Lost Child of Philomena Lee, for background.

This Man Rescued Over 600 Jewish Kids from Nazi Camps. He Doesn’t Know It Yet, But He’s Sitting with Them.

So you’re feeling too fat to be photographed… And Pioneering Photographer Robert Cornelius Credited With World’s First Selfie, c. 1839.

If physical diseases were treated like mental illness.

Melanie: Reading, Russian, and the Soviet Union.

Sit Still, and Follow the Stick.

Always hated end-of-the-year lists that come out in early December, because the year isn’t over. Still, 45 powerful photos and NPR’s 100 favorite songs and the best and worst media errors and corrections and worst words and phrases and the Jibjab piece
what brought us together.

21st Century Punctuatio​n; this is a non-issue for me. The frontiers of American English usage involve Death Metal English.

Facebook Use Predicts Declines in Subjective Well-Being in Young Adults, and 5 Reasons To Stop Checking Facebook At Work.

Jaquandor: “Bitching about what people post on social networks is rather like going to each individual table in your high school cafeteria and demanding that everyone at each table only discuss the topics you want to hear discussed.” I agree with that. He also mentioned SamuraiFrog’s situation, linked therein.

Speaking of SF: 50 Shades of Smartass, Chapter 4 and Chapter 5 and Chapter 6 and Chapter 7, which you should check out, even if you don’t read the others, because now the truly awful stuff is being eviscerated. Or wait until Chapter 8, when the sex stuff starts. Would someone who liked this book please write me and tell me why?


The status of Jaquandor’s Princesses In SPACE!!! (not the actual title).

The “radio call” of the miraculous Auburn win over Alabama, both a faux one and the real thing.

Another Kennedy Conspiracy Theory, involving a Superman comic book from around the time of JFK’s assassination, with a happy ending.

Don McGregor on Marvel Comics’ First Interracial Kiss.

Now I Know: rabbit show jumping and the history of flatulence humor.

Michael Feinstein talks about the Gershwins and play some of their tunes for an hour.

Tony Isabella’s birthday wish list.

Amy Biancolli has a new blog. She’s a writer for the local newspaper I’ve met once or twice. As she noted in her first post, ” In 2011, my beloved, brilliant husband, Chris, committed suicide. This left me and our three unbelievably spirited, beautiful children with a task ahead of us: to live.” So she’s FSO, Figuring Stuff Out, such as Things. Except she doesn’t say “stuff.”

Of all the noteworthy people who died this month – Ray Price, Eleanor Parker, Peter O’Toole, Joan Fontaine, Tom Laughlin – the only obit I link to is Harold Camping? OK, here’s one for Price, and for O’Toole.

Food Fight Muppet episode featuring Gordon Ramsey.

Mark Evanier has been blogging for thirty years! I didn’t even have Internet access at work TWENTY years ago.

Unexpected singers: Run Joe by Maya Angelou from the Miss Calypso album. And Nobody Knows You When You’re Down and Out by Richard Pryor.

Arthur answers my question about Maori representation in New Zealand government and religion and genealogy, among other things.

I wrote: 50 is the new 65, and not in a good way.

Y is for the Year 2013

*I* am having a “significant” birthday this year.

Happy New Year! We begin 2013, a year of a mere 365 days, unlike last year.

Here are some 2013 movable holidays. Note the ones marked # begin at sundown on the day before they are listed.

February 10: Chinese New Year, the year of the snake
February 13: Ash Wednesday
February 24: Purim#
March 10: Daylight Saving Time begins in the US
March 31: Easter Sunday (Western)
May 19: Pentecost
July 9: Ramadan begins#
September 5#: 1st Day of Rosh Hashanah
September 14#: Yom Kippur
November 3: Daylight Saving Time ends
November 28: 1st Day of Hanukkah#, Thanksgiving

A lot of famous people turn 70 this year, including Joni Mitchell. But there are plenty of folks who WOULD have turned 70, but died along the way, including Janis Joplin, Jim Croce, Florence Ballard, Arthur Ashe, John Denver, and George Harrison.

And I am having a “significant” birthday this year. NOT 70.

2013 will be the 50th anniversary of the Kennedy assassination, and the 150th anniversary of Lincoln’s Gettysburg Address. Here are more anniversaries.

Finally, the number 2013 is divisible by 3, which I noted at once, since the digits add up to 6; if the digits add up to 3, 6 or 9, the number is divisible by 3. 2013/3=671. I can see a factor of 671; in a three-digit number, when the middle digit equals the other two, the number is divisible by 11. Thus, the prime factors of 2013 are 3, 11 and 61. Yes, my mind DOES operate that way…

ABC Wednesday – Round 11

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