Sunday Stealing: Swapbot redux


Swap-botFor today’s Sunday Stealing, here’s Swapbot redux

  1. What did you do today?

By “today,” I will answer for yesterday since I’ve done nothing consequential today. Or maybe I have. In any case, I washed all of the dishes and vacuumed the first floor. Then my wife and I went out and had dinner with old friends.

2.  What are the must-sees in your area?

Discover Albany has a page for this very thing. The Capitol is cool, but I haven’t been there in decades. One of my favorite underappreciated treasures in my county is the Overlook Park with the waterfalls in Cohoes. The Underground Railroad Education Center is cool and will be more so in the next few years.  I’ve visited Schuyler Mansion, Thatcher Park, and the USS Slater. My wife and I are members of the Albany Institute of History and Art. I understand that the ‎New York State Museum is getting a needed facelift.

3. What is your favourite quote?

It’s probably from Here and Now: Living in the Spirit by Henri J.M. Nouwen, a Canadian theologian who died in 1996. Here’s a piece of it: “Celebrating a birthday reminds us of the goodness of life, and in this spirit we really need to celebrate people’s birthdays every day, by showing gratitude, kindness, forgiveness, gentleness, and affection.” A longer version I posted on my 60th birthday and probably subsequently.

4. What was the last thing you cooked or ate?

I prepared oatmeal with blueberries, strawberries, and bananas. My regular breakfast.


5. What is something you learned from your grandparents?

Playing cards. From my paternal grandmother, canasta. From my paternal grandfather, gin rummy.

6. What makes you happy?

Friends, music, learning stuff, leisure

7. What is your best travel memory?

Unexpectedly, we flew first class from Barbados to JFK in NYC from our honeymoon in 1999.

8. What’s the weather like today?


9. Share an interesting fact that you’ve learned

Almost anything I learned as an adult after college that I feel I should have learned in school. The Red Summer of 1919 and related activities, e.g.

10. What is your favourite book, movie, or band?

I’m going to go with The Temptations. I saw a musical about them called Ain’t Too Proud in May 2023. The group is still going with one original member, Otis Williams.


11.  Write your favorite poem or haiku.

I’m sure I don’t have one. So, I decided to think of something by Bob Dylan or Smokey Robinson. But then I saw the book Finishing The Hat by Stephen Sondheim on my bookshelf. I leafed through the table of contents and came across Anyone Can Whistle from 1964. At my previous church, I sang the title song at a cabaret.

Anyone can whistle; that’s what they say-easy.

Anyone can whistle, any old day-easy.

It’s all so simple. Relax, let go, let fly.

So someone tell me, why can’t I?

I can dance a tango, I can read Greek-easy.

I can slay a dragon, any old week-easy.

What’s hard is simple. What’s natural comes hard.

Maybe you could show me how to let go,

Lower my guard, Learn to be free. Maybe if you whistle, Whistle for me.

Here is Patti LuPone singing it.

12. What is a local festival or tradition from your area?

There are several, but my favorite may be the Tulip Festival in May, which I’ve attended at least two dozen times. The Dutch colonized New York before the English took over.

13. What was the best thing you learned in school?

The most interesting fact I learned is that if you add up the digits of a long number and it adds up to be 9, and that number is divisible by 9, the larger number is divisible by 9. For 123,456,789, the digits add up to 45, divisible by 9. When I learned this in 4th grade, it was MASSIVE.

Sunday Stealing: Je ne comprends pas

“common sense”

The new Sunday Stealing.

1) What is your favorite way to spend a lazy day?

Je ne comprends pas. Qu’est-ce qu’une journée paresseuse ? I’m not feeling “a lazy day” of late. If I did have one, I would watch the Tonys and the National Spelling Bee Finals, in that order, which I have recorded.

2) What do you look forward to every week?

I like seeing folks at church and attending the Tuesday noon book reviews.

3) Name three pet peeves you currently have

Certain people think their way is the only way.

Some people are “all hat, no cattle”; a recent example is  Antonio Brown, the braggadocious owner of the Albany Empire Arena Football team, who got his team booted from the league for non-payment. He reminds me of a particular politician whom he said he admired.

Bad drivers, bike riders, and pedestrians. 

4) Where would you choose to go if you were to win an all-expense paid vacation for two weeks to anywhere in the world? What are some of the things you would like to experience while you were there?

I need to go to either Asia, Africa, or South America. I suppose I’d go to Nigeria to be on the grounds of my ancestors. I’m 20% Nigerian, almost entirely on my father’s side. Maybe there are some resources there that would help with my genealogical search. And if not, it’d be worth it anyway. 

One Man Army

5) What was one of your favorite toys as a kid? Did you save any special things from your childhood that you still have today?

The only toy I can remember is a Johnny Seven OMA (One Man Army), a multi-function toy weapon produced by Deluxe Reading under their Topper Toys toyline and released in 1964.” It was the best-selling boys’ toy that year. I’m fairly sure I used it in antiwar film my friends made five years later. Featured on Law and Order: Criminal Intent. “Detective Robert Goren finds one in a toy store and demonstrates all seven firing modes” (Episode: Collective) June 2006. Because I’ve dealt with collectibles, I remember seeing that scene and howling with laughter.

The things I have from my childhood tend to be books. One in my line of vision is Play the Game: the Book of Sport, edited by Mitchell V. Charnley (1931). This was an anthology of sports stories from American Boy magazine from 1923 to 1931, which I read repeatedly. 

6) What is your favorite holiday? What is your least favorite holiday?

My favorite is Thanksgiving, though I’ve had some terrible ones. My least favorite is Memorial Day because too many people don’t know what it’s supposed to mean. 

7) Have you ever met anyone famous? What concerts have you attended?

I’ve answered the famous question recently.  Here are some concerts I’ve attended. It does NOT include several classical concerts, mostly the Albany Symphony Orchestra. The one that stands out featured Evelyn Glennie, the percussionist.

Not so common

8) Are there any expressions that people use that really annoy you? If so, what are they?

There are several, but I’ve blocked most of them out. “Common-sense” reforms or gun laws or whatever bugs me because it presupposes some agreed-upon definition of “common sense.”

9) Do you like your name? Are you named after anyone? Is there a story how you got your name? Would you change it if you could? If so, what name would you give yourself?

I’ve told this story before, but I can’t find it. My father named me. At some point after I was born, he was over at his cousin’s house furiously writing…something. He was coming up with a name for which the initials spelled out something but nothing offensive or complicated for me to live with. So Roger Owen Green spelled out ROG. It was brilliant. I love the name, and I wouldn’t change it.

I was not named for anyone. Curiously, my sister Leslie was named after my father. I can’t begin to understand that logic.

10) It is said that it’s the little things that make life worth living. Name five of those little things in your life

Music. And not listening to it but math: 4/4, 6/8, 3/2 et al. The inverted pedal point. Modulations. 

Math. 0 squared + 0 +1= 1 squared. 1 squared+1+2=2 squared. 2 squared+2+3=3 squared. Figuring out if a number is divisible by 3 or by 9. License plate algebra. 

History. Being a keeper of the history of FantaCo, the comic book store where I worked from May 1980 to November 1988. Doing genealogy and having some luck; see tomorrow’s post. 

White noise. It helps me sleep.



What I’m good at

Fillmore, Coolidge, LBJ, Ford

One of my chief failings is that I’m aware, possibly overly so, of my failings. I was challenged to write a post about what I’m good at. Ick. It seems a tad boastful, but maybe as self-aware as my ability to identify my shortcomings.

I am observant. Often, I will watch people. From the choir loft at church, I spot people I don’t recognize and will make an attempt to say hello afterward.

Back in the day, when I would attend many parties, I would note the persons who didn’t seem to have anyone to talk with and try to be available for conversation without forcing the issue.

I give great directions. Yes, with GPS, you’d think no one would need to ask a passerby how to get somewhere, but it still happens. Occasionally, I overhear someone giving less than precise directions, and I sigh.

Oddly, and my wife brings this up frequently, I’m quite good at anticipating what cars and pedestrians will do in traffic. Last month, there was a truck driving in the left lane while my wife was driving in the right, a couple of car lengths back. I told her that the truck was turning right, and it did.  There was something in the truck’s… body language (?)

I know the idiosyncrasies of walk lights in my neighborhood. For instance, for some, one has to push to get a WALK, while others do automatically. 

I understand my daughter’s unspoken messaging about 70% of the time. This is not bad dealing with a teenager.

Math is everywhere

I remember numbers exceedingly well. Once, someone gave me a phone number to call, but I had nothing to write it on, and my phone was unavailable. I still knew the number when I got home.

I can identify the geography for most of the “old-fashioned” area codes, the ones with a zero or one in the middle. Likewise, I have a broad understanding of ZIP Codes. Working mail order at FantaCo in the 1980s honed these skills.

I can identify not only the Presidents but their years in office. This isn’t as difficult as it sounds because it was rare (1850, 1923, 1963, 1974) when a Presidency didn’t start in a year divisible by 4, plus 1. 

Teachers were obsessed with dates in the olden days when they taught history. 1492, 1588, 1865, 1917, et al. I saw this clue on a recent JEOPARDY: “During this 1870-71 war, Napoleon III was captured & eventually deposed & Paris fell to a neighboring nation’s army.” I knew it was the Franco-Prussian War immediately from the years. (No one even rang in.) 

Sometimes, I play license plate math, where I try to find the lowest common denominator of each half of the license plate, treat the Roman numerals by their values, and change more as necessary. (B is 13, e.g., because it looks like 13 smushed together.)


I can remember pieces of music and even specific details. The Canadian version of the Penny Lane single is exactly three minutes.

I can find the bass line and, often, other harmony parts for most songs.

Any song I know reasonably well, I can do in chicken. You can blame this on Ray Stevens, whose version of In The Mood, as Henhouse Five Plus Two, changed my life.

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