Sunday Stealing: LEP Autumn

sharpening pencils

autumn memeThe Sunday Stealing for today is LEP Autumn. LEP is the League of  Extraordinary PenPals.

1. Do you decorate for Autumn?

There’s a pumpkin on our porch right now. The leaves aren’t swept, so that’s sort of decorative. One of our former next-door neighbors used to have banners for many occasions – Thanksgiving, St. Patrick’s Day, etc. I thought at the time that it was rather corny, but in retrospect, I liked it.

2. How often do you clean out your closets?

I don’t have a closet. When we bought the house, there was a closet in one of the spare bedrooms, but that space was converted into our daughter’s bedroom. (She subsequently moved to the other bedroom, which was larger.) So there’s an armoire in our bedroom for my shirts, etc. I hated it at first, but now I merely dislike it. And I’ve NEVER cleaned it out except when I pull a shirt out, and I decide (or more likely, my wife decides) it’s too worn.

3. When was the last time you planned a surprise for someone?

I used to do so regularly, but I can’t recall a recent time.

4. Are there foods you really don’t like?

Anchovies. Sardines. Most canned vegetables (spinach, beets…) Cucumbers. Watermelon. Any candy that has the faux flavor of watermelon or bananas, though I do like real bananas.


5. What is something you recently learned?

Charles Curtis, Vice-President under Herbert Hoover, was “the first Native American and first person with acknowledged non-European ancestry to reach either of the highest offices in the federal executive branch.”

6. Items you’re most likely to buy at a convenience store

Cough drops or Vitamin C drops, diet Pepsi.

7. Do you believe in the paranormal?

I don’t either believe it or not believe it. That’s a solid maybe, but I spend almost no time thinking about it.

Have you got good religion?

8. How would you describe your spirituality?

The idea of religion is quite appealing. But it’s too often ruined by its supposed believers. Some evangelicals called Jesus “liberal” and “weak, forgetting that Jesus hung out with pretty scuzzy people who heeded the call to follow Him. Others have mistaken Jesus for an ATM. No wonder Mahatma Gandhi famously noted: “I like your Christ, but not your Christianity.” As a Christian, it alternately depresses and enrages me that some of my nominal fellow followers make it difficult/impossible for others to embrace the faith.

And I won’t even get into talking about the heretics of other faiths because it’s not my area of expertise.

9. Do you make plans far in advance?

I HATE doing things at the last minute. But FAR in advance? Aside from our trip to France, which had many moving parts, I avoid planning so far in advance that I can’t envision the end goal.

10. Do you like being scared for fun?

No. Not at all. I don’t see scary movies. Haunted houses are not for me.

11. What has been difficult for you lately?

Time management. Some of that is directly related to my wife’s job as one of the two employees of an afterschool tutoring program. One of the two became sick with COVID, so I spent about 15 hours helping her with simple tasks (sharpening pencils, taking out garbage, etc.) It was fine, but the things I had previously had on my docket got crunched.

12. Have you ever written or read fanfiction?

No; and a smattering.

Barren walls

13. What type of wall art do you have in your home?

This is a bit of a sore point. We have quite a bit of art we COULD put on our walls. My wife said she wanted to wait until the walls got painted before decorating. So they were painted over a decade ago, and still, no art on the walls. Now, you might say, “Why don’t you put them up yourself?” Mostly, I lack the artistic eye to ascertain what piece should go with another and at what height. Maybe I can get my daughter to help me at Christmas.

14. Are you more likely to be private or overshare?

I’ve thought about this a lot. When you have a blog you’ve written for 18.5 years, people think they know all about the blogger. This is not true, but I rather enjoy the myth.

15. What have you recently learned to live without?

Reading a daily newspaper. It tends to collect, and then I’ll pour through a week’s or fortnight’s worth in one sitting. I can skip the stories I already know about, but there’s always something I learn.

Sunday Stealing Fall Meme (autumn)

Halloween 1978

autumn memeThe Sunday Stealing is a fall meme, appropriate because it’s autumn in the Northern Hemisphere.

1. Fave fall Holiday: Thanksgiving. Although there are complications about the origin story in the US (see this blog in eight days), it’s the event that was most tolerable when the family wasn’t around
2. The best thing about fall walks: walking on crunchy leaves
3. Favorite fall chore: Taking out the air conditioner, which is much easier than installing it

4. Least favorite fall chore: Raking leaves, which, BTW, my wife seems to enjoy. The thing about raking is that it is the perfect example of the law of diminishing returns, which I learned about in my freshman economics class in college. That first raking is quite satisfying, as one gathers up a good number of leaves, But subsequent raking in that area is less and less productive and, therefore, much less enjoyable
5. Best change in the home: Usually, the coins I find in the cushions of the sofa

6. Best tree in the fall: oak, maple, almost any deciduous tree
7. Fall ritual: watching (American) football on Thanksgiving and thereafter; I don’t really really pay attention until then
8. Most frustrating thing about fall: Getting darker earlier and getting lighter later

9. Favorite fall decorations: Some neighbors have creative Halloween displays. (And others are hideous, but we won’t talk about those…)
10. Favorite clothing: Any creative costume
11. Traditional fall candy: Junior Mints

Say it! Say it!

12. Favorite sound: Parents trying to coax their young Halloweeners to say “trick or treat.” Come on, my four-year-old, comply with the norms!
13. When does fall begin for you? October 1. There’s an argument between those who are in the meteorological calendar camp and the astronomical calendar camp. The former picks September 1, while the latter prefers September 22 or 23. But with global warming, I’m opting for the full month that everyone agrees is autumnal.

14. What is your favorite aspect of fall? I’m losing the feeling quite a bit, actually. It was the new television season and the arrival of serious Oscar-worthy films. But there are no seasons for TV anymore, plus I watch far less of it. And I haven’t gotten back into my pre-pandemic movie attending, plus so many are only streaming.

15. What are your favorite fall memories? Halloween parties I attended as an adult, especially in 1978 
16. What do you like to drink in the fall? Mulled cider. I lived in a coffeehouse when I attended college, and we often had it
17. What’s your favorite fall food? Turkey. I can always eat turkey, not just in November

18. What color is the fall? Burnt orange, not that bright candy corn orange
19. What does fall smell like? Wood stoves
20. If you could go anywhere in the fall, where would you go? Vermont has great colors

Autumnal start, drinking, poetry, Internety stuff

It’s usually white wine, or occasionally something with Jack Daniels, Kahuala, vodka, or rum.

Elizabeth asked, in response to Ask Roger Anything (and YOU still can):

Why do they call the Autumnal Equinox the beginning of Fall when it is already Fall? Likewise, the Winter Solstice isn’t the beginning of winter but well along into winter?

Why do “they” say anything? Why do they still use foot/pound? From Wikipedia: “Some cultures regard the autumnal equinox as mid-autumn, others with a longer lag treat it as the start of autumn. Meteorologists (and most of the temperate countries in the southern hemisphere) use a definition based on months, with autumn being September, October, and November in the northern hemisphere, and March, April, and May in the southern hemisphere.

“In North America, autumn is usually considered to start with the September equinox. In traditional East Asian solar term, autumn starts on or around 8 August and ends on about 7 November.”

The answer, therefore, is American exceptionalism. That said, I never liked the fact that holidays commemorating dead soldiers and workers essentially frame summer.

New York Erratic must actually be from New Jersey because there are a lot of questions:

When you drink, is it beer, cider, wine, or mixed drinks?

When I first started drinking, which was when I was 18 – it was legal then – I did a lot of trial and error. I started with mixed drinks, mostly the sweet ones like a Tom Collins, eventually discovering rum and Coke, and 7 (7-Up) and 7 (Seagram’s Seven). Also white wine, but red gave me raging headaches.

But I could never drink beer. I would go out with folks and they’d share a pitcher or two, while I was drinking something else, which was both isolating and more expensive.

Now, it’s usually white wine, or occasionally something with Jack Daniels, Kaluha, vodka, or rum. NOT beer, not vermouth, and not gin.

What are your favorite flavor and favorite smell?

Strawberry (my favorite ice cream, yogurt), and bread baking, respectively.

Do you remember something better when you hear it out loud or when you read it?

Definitely NOT hearing it, unless it’s learning music. Preferably both, such as hearing someone’s name while reading the nametag. People giving me instructions for a computer orally is almost useless; I may not get it visually, but at least I can read it again.

So what do you think is up with the whole “dual personality” of the Internet age? How many people do you think have alternate personas – or multiple personas – online? And what do you think that is doing for the culture?

I found out only recently that someone who has a pseudonym on the Times Union site, and comments on several blogs, is someone who apparently has known me for a long time. He’s much more a jerk than he was in real life; this COULD mean he’s turned into a jerk, OR it could mean that being behind the shield of anonymity has allowed him to become a jerk.

I essentially reposted an article about a Tulsa, OK website disallowing anonymous comments, and it generated a lot of comments, mostly negative. Fear of harassing and threatening e-mail, for instance. Conversely, one guy “decided some time ago to post comments on the TU as me. I’ll admit that it keeps any snark I might be tempted to exhibit under control. It keeps one more civil than one might be posting anonymously…a good thing IMO.”

How many people post anonymously? I have no idea. But, I’ve discovered it’s a long-standing virtue; see this article from 1995. There are about 2.7 billion people on the Internet. Some don’t care who knows what about them, and another group has concluded that the NSA already knows.

Is it why people seem ruder? Possible, but there are so many variables, it’s difficult to isolate. Maybe it’s the fault of twerking.

Is there an optimum level of technology?

No. That’s because whatever technology is created, someone can build upon it. That’s why, not incidentally, I oppose these expanded copyright laws that protect the copyright holder for life plus 75 years. The reason the Constitution says “To promote the Progress of Science and useful Arts, by securing for limited Times to Authors and Inventors the exclusive Right to their respective Writings and Discoveries. (Article 1, Section Eight) was to allow for innovation, not to reward copyright holders for long periods.

Do you ever (or have you ever) written fiction or poetry?

Never fiction, although I did have, in my mind some years ago, a roman a clef about my previous church choir experience.

My girlfriend in the late 1970s/early 1980s was a poet. She went to poetry workshops, and I went with her sometimes, so eventually, I tried writing. I never found “my voice,” or whatever; I never “got” it.

The Zen of raking

In the late 1990s, someone stole my boom box from my office at work.

It’s practically a tradition; I rake leaves on Veterans Day, or shortly thereafter. Usually, some ill wind blows the bulk of the leaves off the huge oak in the back, and the maple tree, not to mention the Japanese maple, in the front.

It’s one of those activities that allow for creative thought. Musing about raking, or the alternatives to it, such as leaf blowers, for instance.

So I don’t mind raking, though my wife is much more thorough than I. She’ll leave one leaf per square meter, and I might leave a dozen. My law of diminishing returns cuts in sooner I guess. I DON’T LIKE stepping into a hidden pile of dog manure, though, since we don’t own a dog.

When I’m out there, I like to play music. I don’t want to get some headphones, though; I do that every day at work. I want to hear music blasting out of my boom box. OK, not blasting; I’m too socially appropriate to have music blaring outside at 10 a.m.

Not that I should have worried. The leaf blower that someone turned on ten houses away totally made my Aaron Copland CD inaudible.

I was on Facebook dissing leaf blowers when someone defended them as “fun.” I think my antipathy towards the machine is one part pollution aversion (it uses gas or electricity and it’s LOUD), but one part irritation about how people use them, blowing leaves into the street so that they become the responsibility of the municipality. I see that a LOT, and it really bugs me.

I think I’ll crank up my boom box all the way to five; well, maybe four and a half. I said to my wife that I was feeling like having a hamburger, a reference to the use of Hoe-Down from Rodeo by Copland as the theme for the long-running beef campaign; here is one example, and here’s another.

For some reason, the Daughter, who’s a great help with raking, asked me if I had ever been robbed. I was reminded that in the late 1990s, someone stole my boom box, identical to the one I was playing, from my office at work; I had purchased one for myself and one for Carol back in 1995. The thief was eventually caught because he was purloining a number of items from the building over time.

The really interesting thing was I had to testify before a grand jury to indicate that, no, I had not had given the defendant permission to “borrow” my boom box, and indeed did not know the defendant. Much to my surprise, a few months later, I received restitution for very nearly the full value of my loss from some court-related entity.

September Equinox ASK ROGER ANYTHING

Now this does allow for me to engage in obfuscation – “depends on what the definition of ‘is’ is” – but I can’t duck it altogether.

Just recently, I was musing what to call it when the daytime and the nighttime are the same lengths. Used to be that, in March, I would describe it as the spring equinox in the Northern Hemisphere and the autumnal equinox in the Southern Hemisphere. In September, it would be reversed. But that meant too many words. Recently, though someone, I forget who, though I have a guess, suggested calling them the September equinox and the March equinox; brilliant in its simplicity! And it works as well for the June and December solstices as well.

Anyway, this is an occasion when I get REALLY lazy. I decide, “Hey, I write this thing every day; the LEAST my vast 😉 audience can do is help me along with the content once in a while.” It is not entirely selfish, either. If I ask you, and you respond, then I answer, I am giving the people what they want. It also gives my fellow bloggers the opportunity to retaliate for the nasty questions I ask them.

Here are the rules: you get to ask me (Roger) any old thing you want to. No boundaries, no limits. Moreover, I have to answer it, and I must do so honestly. Now this does allow for me to engage in obfuscation – “depends on what the definition of ‘is’ is” – but I can’t duck it altogether. You may ask in the comment section or, if you’d rather, e-mail me. I will say that responses to e-mails of people who wish to remain anonymous will probably be murkier than those from people who own their requests.

I will begin replying next week. Here’s a recent example; yes, I promise I won’t take two months to reply.

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