Blue hydrangeas

States in Monopoly

I’m blaming the blue hydrangeas. We’ve had a sparse array of purple hydrangeas in the two dozen years I’ve lived at my current residence. This year’s crop of blue flowers is unlike anything we’ve ever experienced, though they’ve since wilted under the broiling sun.

This must explain why I’ve felt less than great for the last several days. Despite taking allergy medication, my head is stuffed up, my throat is scratchy, and periodically, I experience a coughing jag.

This makes me tired all of the time. Saturday night, I went to bed about 8:30 p.m. I woke up a half dozen times. Then Sunday night, I was sitting in my office chair when I fell asleep, waking up at 2 a.m.

This was very disorientating. What should I do? I should go to bed, right? Or should I play Wordle?  Seriously? OK, I’m loopy enough to do that. I got an R in the second position, and an O not in the third position. For some reason, I thought of the late comedian Richard Pryor.

Wordle 1,094 2/6 ⬜🟩🟨⬜⬜AROSE 4  🟩🟩🟩🟩🟩PRIOR

Then I HAD to go to bed. I felt pretty dragged out on Monday; I didn’t even get dressed. I was required to go out on Tuesday for a library thing, but I may not leave the house the rest of the week; it’ll be 9F/33C or above.

My wife and I had installed the air conditioner on Saturday. It’s funny how no matter how many times we put it in, it’s as though we’d never done it before.

Off, eventually

Speaking of my spouse, she’s finally going to take eight weeks off this summer. But this, of course, means she has to get many things done beforehand. Also, she and her colleague had to work on student recognition and volunteer appreciation events in the past two weeks.

Our daughter and I also attended the latter event after we helped set up. There was a trivia contest and I joined a group of people I didn’t know. we started slowly, but after the middle round, we were in second place.

Then we were to name the four Pac-Man ghosts. I knew Blinky and that two others ended with inky. We guessed Pinky, though we missed Inky and Clyde, and were ahead by two.

The final question category was board gamers. we bet 79 of our 82 points. How many states appear on a Monopoly board? We guessed eight but fell short: VT, CT, VA, TN, NY, KY, IL, IN, NC, and PA Avenues plus the PA Railroad, for 11. The team in last place, with 40 points, bet it all and won. Everyone else bet it all and lost. we came in second place with our 3 points.  I should have started thinking geographically rather than alphabetically since none are west of the Mississippi River.

Outside the hall where the trivia event took place was a cute little bunny. A guy with a leaf blower, who almost certainly didn’t see the creature, terrified him.

I almost forgot: at some point in the last week, I got a second-degree burn on the side of my right hand. I had taken the lid off the boiling water, poured in the oatmeal, and attempted to set the timer when I grazed the hot lid.  

I may never leave town again

US Mail (not US male)

I seem to be involved in a lot of stuff for a retired guy. I may never leave town again. The period following my trip to Las Vegas was hectic.

Fri, Sept 29:  I had my annual physical., which my wife took me to. My physician’s office has moved thrice in the past few years because St. Peter’s Health Services/Trinity Health has bounced her around to Delmar, then to Slingerland, and now to Rensselaer (all in the metro but in different directions). The last move would take me an hour to get to and well over an hour to get back by bus, which is how I had gotten to her previous locations. 

Taking a term created by another patient, my doctor declared me welderly, a portmanteau of well and elderly.

My wife had booked a trip to a Wyndham timeshare property in western Massachusetts well before I planned my Las Vegas sojourn. I went with her largely because I wouldn’t otherwise see her.

Sat, Sept 30: In the morning, we returned to Albany to attend the funeral of  Dwight Smith, and I sang in the choir. I learn so much at a funeral, even about people I’ve known for years. Then, my wife returned to Massachusetts with a friend to see a play the next day.


Sun, Oct 1: I went to church. When I got home, I waded through too many emails.

Then, I went to Fort Orange Brewing for a trivia contest, a benefit for Empower Ethiopia. We started slowly, but we were in the upper half of the teams by the second round, and in second place, only two points behind the leaders, after the sixth and penultimate round.

The category of the final question was US Mail. In what decade did the price of a first-class stamp reach double digits, i.e., ten cents or more? I distinctly remember a four-cent purple Lincoln stamp when I was nine or ten, so the 1970s seemed reasonable. (It was March 2, 1974. ) The team in first place bet nothing but said the 1960s. We bet 213 of our 220 points, making sure we’d beat the third-place team if they got it right, and they had bet it all, assuming we were also correct. Janna, Annika, Chuck, and I won. Fist pump!

One thing to another

Mon, Oct 2: I went to Labcorp for fasting bloodwork at 10:30 a.m., the earliest slot I could get.

At 2 p.m., I recorded a five-minute video for the upcoming conference of the New York Genealogical and Biographical Society (NYG&BS) about my great-great-grandfather, James Archer. I hope they use it. 

Finally, at 4 p.m., I went to Capital Rep to the Wizard’s Wardrobe Reader’s Theater with my wife. I helped greet the readers and escort them to the “green room,” as it were. At the risk of sounding boastful, I’m pretty good at that.

That evening, the power went off for about five minutes, then three minutes, and finally well over an hour, so I went to bed.

Tues, Oct 3: Finally, the restart of my church’s Tuesday Bible Guys on ZOOM.

Then I had to figure out an introduction of Marina Antropow Cramer, who was doing an author talk at the Albany Public Library about her historically-based fiction books Roads (“When Nazi forces occupy the beautiful coastal city of Yalta, everything changes.”) and Marfa’s River.

Wed, Oct 4: Aside from making pancakes for dinner and watching baseball, I did almost nothing, flipping back and forth between two games.

February rambling: Rock Hall 2023

Empower Ethiopia

Journalistic integrity requires a reckoning with how news media covers the criminal legal system

The People Onscreen Are Fake. The Disinformation Is Real.

Are AI Chatbots in Healthcare Ethical?

How did we get $32 trillion in debt?

Massive Inequality Is a “Concerted Elite Class Project

I was given a house – but it already belonged to a Detroit family

U.S. Employee Engagement Needs a Rebound in 2023

Here is the publisher’s link to the book titled Side by Side in Eternity: The Lives Behind Adjacent American Military Graves. The book is co-authored by J. Eric Smith, my old blogging buddy. It is currently available for pre-order from the publisher and also from all of the significant book-selling platforms.

From the Books: NO NAME IN THE STREET by James Baldwin

What I Think About LeBron Breaking My NBA Scoring Record by

Mike Roach, a SABR report of a baseball player who played in Binghamton more than a century ago.

Charles Kimbrough, Anchor Jim Dial on ‘Murphy Brown,’ Dies at 86#

Nathan Lane reminiscing about a few of the 25 starring roles he’s played on Broadway

From 2005:  Periodical comics face many issues


Now I Know: The Man Who Did Well By Himself and The Radio Station for People Who are Blind and The $35 Mailbox That Cost $33,000 and Ten Thousand Reasons to Read Before Hitting “I Accept”

On Monday, February 6, my wife and I, with a couple who got married six months after we did, were on a Trivia for a Cause team at Fort Orange Brewing in Albany. The cause was Empower Ethiopia. We started slow but ended up in third place, thanks to our teamwork. I was the one who knew there was only one member of the Gilligan’s Island cast, Tina Louise, who was still alive.
Most of the questions were reasonable. But one bugged me. It was about the six ORIGINAL Disney characters on the Hollywood Walk of Fame besides Mickey Mouse? We guessed Minnie Mouse and Donald Duck, which were right, and Goofy, Pluto, and someone else (Daisy Duck?), which were incorrect.
The other answers were  Tinkerbell, Snow White, and Winnie the Pooh.  Tinkerbell? She was in the J.M. Barrie books. Snow White was in the Grimm books, and Pooh was created by A.A. Milne. The good news is that NO team got more than three of the five.
The final question was about the first filmed sporting event in 1894, produced by Thomas Edison. What was the sport? Look here. BTW, NO team got it correct.
Rock Hall

The Rock and Roll Hall of Fame is again offering a Fans’ Ballot. You can select up to 5 Nominees daily and submit your vote until April 28th.

Yes, they should have nominated your favorite band, and it doesn’t matter. I still vote.

My ballot includes: 1. Warren Zevon- eligible since 1994, yet nominated for the first time in 2023. Other musicians are pulling for the late singer-songwriter, and so am I. He might get in as a songwriter.

2. The Spinners – I’ve had them in my head since I wrote about Thom Bell, and I’m writing about them again this month. Will the 4th time be the charm?

3. Joy Division/New Order -does this synth-pop group have a chance at its first nomination? I doubt it.

4. Willie Nelson. He’ll be 90 in April, he’s sung with half of everyone, and he just got a Grammy.

The fifth slot I’ve bounced among Rage Against The Machine, ” a legitimately game-changing rap-rock group with critical respect, popular endurance, and contemporary relevance,” on their fifth try; and Sheryl Crow, who I’d been playing a lot during her birth month.

Lately, I’ve been voting for Cyndi Lauper, not just for her 1980s output but for creating the music and lyrics for Kinky Boots, for which she won a Tony.

But I could have easily voted for A Tribe Called Quest, Kate Bush, or the late George Michael. I’m not a big White Stripes fan, but I like Jack White, from his soundtrack for Cold Mountain to his work with Loretta Lynn. Missy Elliot and Soundgarden are worthy. I’m just not that familiar with Iron Maiden.

Yet again, I hope they put, in the non-performer category, Estelle Axton, co-founder of STAX Records!


Playing For Change BHM playlist

Spark Catchers – Hannah Kendall

Redemption Song – Sheku Kanneh-Mason and siblings

Coverville 1431: The Barrett Strong Tribute

Night on Mount Triglav – Nikolai Rimsky-Korsakov

K-Chuck Radio: What’s that in the air?

Trivia and the great person theory

A week or two later, I was busy leading my debauched life.

tonguesChris has more questions:

I just saw one of my favorite SMBC strips: To what extent do you feel this is accurate?

There was this move afoot to ignore the “great person” theory of history, yet I don’t see how one can totally ignore, for good or ill, a Charlemagne or Elizabeth I or Hitler. Still, it’s often nameless people who put their lives on the line to change history; you might know an ML King or a Gandhi, but they were leading movements of people, lots of anonymous folks.

Stuff does happen: earthquakes, floods, and the like. But it’s often how we RESPOND to the stuff that truly matters. In other words, it’s ALL true, plans and randomness.

Do you ever just totally forget yourself and accidentally use language or terms that are foreign to your audience? (Example: I referred to something as “Kafkaesque” to a church friend who is not college educated.)

It happens. I used KJV recently when referring to the King James Version of the Bible.

I’ve mentioned in the past how terrible it was to be in Charlotte, NC in 1977 when my use of ANY three-syllable words was subject to me being ridiculed. It might have been a word as basic as “ridiculed.”

Still, I think I do OK on this front. I TRY to be the listener.

How boss are you at Trivial Pursuit? What version do you play?

I haven’t played this century, I believe. I was quite good in the day with the traditional game, and I got another set of cards, but I have no idea which iteration.

I do know that my 21st-century popular culture is very weak. Offer me a million dollars to name one Justin Bieber song, and you’d keep the cash in your pocket. The problem with pop culture is that there’s too much of it. In the days of three TV networks and the Billboard charts counting actual physical sales, it was easy. But in the era of 257 channels (and nothing on) and downloads, it simply doesn’t stick. And I have other priorities.

I’m fascinated by watching JEOPARDY! The questions I’ll have zero ideas about involved video games and popular movies that I didn’t see. But there was a recent Final JEOPARDY: Created in 1971, this company’s logo has been likened to a wing & was supposed to connote motion. I thought this was really easy, but none of the contestants got it. (It’s Nike, of course.)


Movie Anagrams

These aren’t necessarily who I want to win – I’d take Rush over Bale, for one – but who I THINK will win.

During the trivia contest in which a friend regularly participates, one of the categories was ‘movie title anagrams’. Since it’s Oscar week, see how many you can get in the same allotted ten minutes.

1. The Rave Bra
2. That Mixer
3. Tiger Rut
4. Haled Wirer
5. Local Rattle
6. Whale on Plate
7. Mayfly Raid
8. Pan Tool
9. New Tramp Toy
10. Greet a Pest Ache

I won’t approve any quiz answers for the first 24 hours, so everyone will be on equal footing.

I had written about my early Oscar picks here four weeks ago. I had intended to see several more films in the intervening time, but life (and death) got in the way. The only full-length movie I’ve seen since then is Blue Valentine, about which I will write soon. So I guess I’ll let my picks from last month stand: Firth, Bale, Portman and Steinfeld in the acting categories; The Social Network and The King’s Speech in the screenplay categories; The King’s Speech for Best Picture. Which means I have to actually make a selection for Best Director, and my gut says The Social Network’s David Fincher over The King’s Speech’s Tom Hooper, with the Academy spreading the wealth. These aren’t necessarily who I want to win – I’d take Rush over Bale, for one – but who I THINK will win.

The Best Picture vote uses Instant Runoff Voting. What does that mean? See HERE.

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