It’s not easy until it is

no coffee

not easy“It’s not easy until it is” is my mantra concerning anything even the slightest bit mechanical. For instance, there is a bike rack – actually two – on the buses run by the CDTA. The first time I attempted to use it, I couldn’t figure it out for about three minutes. I do think that there was a busload of people who want to go home didn’t help. The bus driver was not allowed to leave the bus to assist.

Finally, voila. Then it was easy. So simple, in fact, when other people are having trouble figuring out its use, I have gotten out of the bus to help them.

The first time I took an at-home COVID test, the instructions made it seem very complicated. Now, easy peasy. (Do people still say easy peasy?)

This happens to me a lot with technology. I read the manual, but there’s a disconnect in my brain. This does depend on who’s writing them, of course. There was a Picasa software for putting pictures in a Blogger/Blogspot blog; I NEVER understood it. By trial and error, I figured out a workaround.


The most complicated thing at church had nothing to do with the fact that our pastors are on sabbatical from May to September. Making coffee had been the purview of the custodian. Since the last fellow left early in 2022, the church’s elders hired a service to clean the bathrooms, vacuum, etc. This doesn’t include making coffee, though. A series of volunteers have to make it.

One recent Sunday, my wife was tasked to set up for the coffee hour, meaning making coffee. She had once made coffee at another venue with a different machine, but she was hardly experienced.

I was of no help. Back in the early days of my last job, someone determined that everybody had to make the coffee because it was “fair.” Fair to whom? I never have drunk coffee, to the apparent horror of some people. Seriously.

But I made it once. It was apparently so terrible that I never had to do it again. I’d like to say that I sabotaged it intentionally, but I did not. Still, I couldn’t tell if it was too strong or weak because, as noted, I don’t drink coffee.

For my wife’s task, it turned out to be more complicated than she thought. So when a couple of folks who had made the coffee before came in, I enlisted their help. One said, “There are instructions.” Yes, I know; my wife knows. But the coffee was spilling on the burner. It turns out the whatchamacallit had to be in a certain position, totally contrary to her instincts or mine. So next time, it’ll be easier, probably.

“Things I hate that you might love”


Hollywood_And_Levine_Podcast_2020_LogoWriter Ken Levine released a recent podcast called “Things I hate that you might love.”

Ken notes hating the Beatles song, Hey Jude, and the movie It’s a Wonderful Life. He is not fond of performances by the actor Maya Rudolph, though he admits to enjoying her impersonation of Kamala Harris. He distinguishes this feeling from noting things lots of people hate (opera, e.g.), or genres he doesn’t enjoy for which he is not the target market (hip hop music).

Here’s my attempt, although HATE is a bit strong, except in the case of foods:

Interest in cars. The last two cars my wife bought I’ve regularly mistaken for other vehicles on the street. To be fair to me, she’s done the same thing once or twice.

The sister of a former girlfriend of mine could tell you the difference between a 1964 Volkwagen beetle and the 1965 model. The lights have a different shape or something. This is not me.

If I saw a robbery where the criminal drove off, I’d be a lousy witness. “It was a big, blue, four-door… something.” If I don’t see the logo, I would have no idea. On the other hand, I’m likely to remember an alphanumeric license plate hours later, if I had a need to.

Food and drink

Coffee. I’ve never acquired a taste for it. And it can be inconvenient because folks are always buying those Dunkin’ carafes of java for the group. Not liking coffee can be socially isolating.

On the other hand, it means I didn’t have to make the coffee in the office. Once, someone insisted that I do so, and I complied. I gather – and I have no way to judge because I don’t drink the stuff – it was quite awful. Guess who was removed from coffee prep?

Beer. This was even more isolating. While I’m in the bar with a group of people, they’re downing pitchers of suds, while I’m ordering a glass of white wine separately. There is plenty of booze I’ll drink – whiskey, vodka, tequila, rum – but beer creates a gag reflex.

Peanut butter. I recall eating JIF as a child. I must have OD’d on it because now, even the smell makes me nauseous.

Melons. Cantaloupe, watermelon. Hate ’em all, including candies that supposedly taste like melons.


Binge-watching TV programs. I have a short attention span for watching show after show. It makes me agitated. I might watch one segment of 60 Minutes followed by a JEOPARDY episode, both on the DVR so I can fast-forward through the commercials, then I turn the TV off.

Reality television. This is also on Ken’s list. There’s a certain sameness of the rhythm of these shows that I find exhausting. Worse, they tend to recycle their casts so that the breakout “star” shows up on a spinoff.

There was a show called Honey Boo Boo, which I saw for a full two minutes before I had to turn it off. Well, now there’s a spinoff, Mama June. heaven help us all.

These people are stars. They must be because they show up on Dancing with the Stars, a television show my wife watches. I wander into the living room and say of a participant, “Who’s THAT?” Maybe it’s someone from a recent season of The Bachelor or a program I’ve never heard of.

So news about these people is not, particularly, of interest. “Jim Bob and Michelle Duggar Speak Out After Oldest Son Josh Is Arrested on Child Porn Charges.” They’re some of the “stars” of 19 Kids and Counting, so the story is hardly noteworthy, except for their overt “Christian” beliefs.

Yet, early on, I could watch reality TV. Three seasons of The Real World, the original Queer Eye, even a few seasons of Survivor and American Idol. But it’s become all too much.

Food and home

Expect something major to break in the first year.

homer-simpson doughnutsY’ know I have several Ask Roger Anything questions, but these from SamuraiFrog struck my fancy:

What are your favorite and least favorite kinds of donuts? And if you don’t like donuts, what is your favorite pastry? And if you don’t like pastry… you’re no fun.

Thank goodness I am fun! There’s a place right across the street from where I work called Cider Belly Donuts. I try to go only once a week. I get a maple, usually. Historically, donut-wise, I generally will go for the glazed first.

I’m not that fond of filled donuts, usually because I bite into them and hit some dry donut when I wanted the jelly. I’m also not crazy about powdered donuts, although Spaulding Krullers, from my growing up days, was miraculous in that the powder did not come off.

BTW, my spellcheck does not like the word “donut”; it prefers the word “doughnut.” Anything that prefers a spelling with THREE silent letters IN A ROW is REALLY no fun!

Are you a coffee drinker?

No, I’ve never acquired the taste. And here’s my major pet peeve: food entities that do not segregate their pitchers for coffee and tea. I went to a wedding once, and the reception was catered by a well-known local establishment. The food was lovely. But I had some tea, and I could tell INSTANTLY that the carafe had contained coffee in the past. Coffee-laced tea is VILE.

I should drink tea more often.

What’s your ideal breakfast? What’s your usual breakfast?

The ideal breakfast is pancakes, two fried eggs, and sausage. My usual breakfast is cold cereal, for which I mix two or three non-pre-sweetened items, such as Cheerios, shredded wheat, and raisin bran.

My wife inherited a house. What’s something she should know about homeownership?

I don’t know if you’ll be living there. Regardless:

1. Take care of the outside so that the neighbors don’t complain. Mow the grass periodically. (Or hire goats; I’m in favor of hiring goats.) It generates goodwill amongst your fellow homeowners.

2. To that end, I know it’s your house, but try not to paint it chartreuse.

3. Keep the walk shoveled. It snows in Illinois – assuming the house is there – and S-P-R-I-N-G is a lousy snow removal strategy. Maybe you can barter a service. Your wife’s a great artist, and you are smart and very detail-oriented.

4. Expect something major to break in the first year. For my wife’s first house, it was the water heater. For us, it was the clothes dryer; those hanging racks all over the bedroom got old very quickly.

5. If you’re not handy, find someone who is. Because you may not be able to afford to fix certain things, but some items – like a sewer pipe that threatened our basement and cost $3500 we did not have to dig up our front yard to repair – you can’t afford NOT to fix.

6. It’s never finished. The first thing my bride said when we bought the house is that we needed to update our kitchen. We moved in 2000; it hasn’t happened. Oh, we got a new kitchen faucet, the only thing we could afford the first year when my spouse was a grad student. We got a new floor because the old one was treacherous, and a new dishwasher, which I HATE – loading the silverware is a chore -and a new refrigerator.

But the aforementioned sewer pipe, and a new roof, a new front porch (lest someone put his/her foot through it – it WAS that bad), a new shed (the old one leaked, and was falling down), and FINALLY, a new bathroom, has precluded fixing the kitchen.

What’s your favorite newspaper comic strip ever?

I have books on Krazy Kat, Pogo, and other strips from before my time. I own collections about Calvin & Hobbes, Peanuts, and a few others.

But I have the first four complete Doonesbury anthologies. I LOVED those early strips. I still read it in the paper, not nearly with the same passion. But I don’t think I read ANY strip these days with anything approaching a similar compulsion.

What was something nostalgic for you until you revisited it and the nostalgia wore off?

My 10th high school reunion rather sucked, although it was salvaged by the after-party.

I remember a guy named Charlie, whose hairline changed a lot in a decade. I didn’t recognize him, and he got all offended. Ten years was not enough time to get over all the petty BS of high school.

I went to my 32nd HS reunion and it was MUCH better. But I’m just not that nostalgic. Part of it is that I forget. “Do you remember the time…?” The answer is, generally, “No.”

I DO KNOW West Side Story isn’t as good a movie as I remember – it’s too long and too slow – but the music is SO good, I don’t care.

August mid-month bailing-out Rambling

Melanie is dealing with her blind spots, in more ways than one.

© Used by permission.

Here’s the truth of the matter: I was away last weekend, overbooked. (Will explain, eventually.) I’ve been exhausted much of the week, rather ticked by something else, and it’s difficult to write. I’ve created ONE blog post for this site this week (the one about the possible Olympic boycott in 2014).

Since I write ahead, it wasn’t an IMMEDIATE problem, but eventually, it would be. At the same time, I hit on a whole bunch of linkage, enough (as of August 9, as I write this) for a whole post, with three weeks to (I hope) find more linking goodness for the end of the month. So consider this my summer vacation/”it’s my blog and I’ll cheat if I want” post.

The Mark Evanier News from ME section, in honor of him being named by TIME magazine, as one of the 25 Best Bloggers of 2013:
While I am very fond of his stories about his parents individually, I love Tales of My Mother and My Father #1. “My parents met in Hartford, Connecticut in the mid-forties. They dated for a time but there was enormous pressure for them to not do this. My father, you see, was Jewish. My mother, you see, was Catholic.”

I remember reading the comic strip Rick O’Shea, created by Stan Lynde who died at the age of 82. Wasn’t in a big circulation newspaper, either.
Jim Henson’s local (DC) show called Sam and Friends in which a Kermit prototype and other Muppets perform to Stan Freberg’s record of “I’ve Got You Under My Skin.”
Mark gets a residual check..

Why good copy editors are ‘abnormal’ humans.

My US Senator Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY) visits ‘The Daily Show,’ gets perhaps more than she bargained for. I like her, voted for her at least twice. But John Oliver does a great job, asking tough questions in this interview.

You’ll learn a lot from Arthur about James Baldwin, who would have been 89 this month. And Ken Levine learned from Tony Bennett, who just turned 87.

The absurdity of standardized testing; several posts at this site.

Chuck Miller again dubbed a post of mine on his Best of our TU Community Blogs for August 8, 2013: End the blood donation ban on gay men. I liked his piece on Calvin and Hobbes. I usually enjoy his regular K-Chuck Radio series; for this one, featuring a surprisingly raunchy song from the 1940s, and a cover version of Que Sera, Sera that sounds like La Bamba.

Melanie is dealing with her blind spots, in more ways than one.

Is Kindness a Weakness? (No!)

Confession: I’ve never learned to drink coffee, or to make it. I blame these guys.

Daniel Nester’s Notes on record stores and his first girlfriend.

Sounds Just Like suggests that one popular song sounds just like another one.

Neil Innes on The Rutles, ‘working’ with Lennon & McCartney and being impersonated by Elvis!

Gus “Cosmo” Allegretti, who created Bunny Rabbit and Mr. Moose on ‘Captain Kangaroo’, died at 86. He also operated Grandfather Clock and Dancing Bear. I watched his work a LOT in my childhood.

How to fold a shirt in 2 seconds.

Me Want It (But Me Wait) by Cookie Monster.

You may have seen Your Morning Jam: The Roots Do ‘Blurred Lines’ With Kiddie Instruments, with Robin Thicke and Jimmy Fallon.


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