Comments on life, the universe and everything from an aging Sixties survivor.

Location: Massachusetts, United States

Ummm, isn't "about me" part of the point of the blog?

Tuesday, January 29, 2008

When all else fails you for an item...

... read your junk email.

Today's includes this enticing headline (CAUTION: Do not click the links in the message body of any junk email. As Forrest Gump once said, you never know what you're gonna git!)

3 FREE Bottles Of Man-XL !!

What a pity we can't do it that way. Just get a bottle of member of the attractive sex of your choice, in the scale of your choice, pour into a glass and stir. The ad does not make it clear what happens if you decide to open all three, if they have an expiry, and other minor details which should be of interest to any informed consumer.

It would be better still if we could put Man XL back in the bottle. Perhaps, if you had excellent powers of persuasion and a funnel, you could make it happen, and try your luck on the other bottles.

Saturday, January 26, 2008

Something Else I Don't Get

In common with a lot of veterans, I can think of a great many things I would rather have been doing when I was off serving my country or whatever we call it now. Hindsight is wonderful that way.

Not too long ago, I met a man at a party who struck up a conversation because he too, he said, was a Navy veteran. His story of boot camp, sub school, washing out of sub school and being assigned to a destroyer all rang fairly true. He went on to say that he had been wounded in an unmentionable place when some Viet Cong set off an explosive device under the wing bridge whilst he was standing on it during a stay in Cam Ranh Bay. Cam Ranh having been a fairly secure place at the time he mentioned, I filed this under the heading "sea story" and forgot about it. Difficult to believe, yes, but of course not impossible.

Some while after, I happened to see a news item mentioning the destroyer in question, which recalled the story to mind. I googled the ship and quickly found her official history. Never in Viet Nam: hmm. Therefore, never attacked by VC. This led me to poke and twiddle around a bit and find out the teller of the sea story had never been in the Navy at all.

Just recently, someone running for local office not far from here was caught out in a similar story. He had been running his veteran tale for years.


Why not embrace the good fortune that kept you out of the service? Find some other, more constructive way to prove your manhood, if that's what this is all about. Of all the lies one can tell in this world, pretending to be a veteran may be the most absurd.

It is certainly the easiest one to be caught on. Every unit, every vessel, has its history. In addition to the name of the storyteller, one has all those records available. One also has the clear memory of the distinctive features of each service's subculture, features that the civilian usually can't emulate.

It was a damn good sea story, though: I wonder where he got it.

Wednesday, January 23, 2008

Blatant Promotion (friends only need apply)

A dear friend has landed a gig of sorts at Seacoast Online. Her continued employment depends on how many hits she can generate. Having provided her with a good many meals over the years, I figure I'm looking out for my interests as well as hers by posting the link above. Her byline is Lily Robertson and she is good for a few lines of smartass repartee...or more.

Monday, January 21, 2008

The Theory of Deterrence and Football

Those of us who grew up during the Cold War, periodically hiding under our desks in case of nuclear attacks, may recall the term "deterrence." Briefly, the idea is to have so many and such powerful weapons that no one will attack you because of what would happen when you unleashed your most powerful weapons. I other words, you spend prodigiously on weapons you do not expect to use. They are just as useful, if not more useful, when they are not being used.

I do not think the sports commentators have heard of deterrence when they remark how few catches Randy Moss had in this game or that. When a receiver can sprint from his own 40 to the opposition's end zone, bringing two to four of the opposition with him, he is just as useful as if he were actually a target.When the opposition finally notice that four or five other people are doing all the catching, and get tired of chasing the weapon of deterrence for no reason, then the quarterback can send one in his direction.

Strange game, football.


Thursday, January 17, 2008

Some Things are Just Wrong

Rejoice: the fact that my cube mate had a quantifiable foot of snow on Monday spares this small universe from another one of my rants on meteorology as tabloid journalism. This does not alter the truth that I had a thoroughly uneventful ride to work and an equally uneventful trip home.

No, the "wrong" aspect of life occurs to me after a protracted series of food fights at the malevolent one's patch. No, no: literally, fights over food.

It struck me that if it is wrong for a cheese steak calzone to have 1200 calories, wrong to consider Philly cheese steak cuisine at all, and wrong to consider a Massachusetts sub roll bread rather than a sponge with crust, then I must add one more wrong, perhaps the evillest of all.

Who would ever have thought that a restaurant-sized sandwich wrap has 400 calories? For crying out loud, the thing is just a communion wafer on growth hormones! For shock value, this rates with the time I discovered that guacamole is bad for me, at a time when I relied heavily on guacamole and salsa for my daily vegetable allowance.

There absolutely ain't no justice.

Tuesday, January 15, 2008


From: Tom Hanks
To: Terrell Owens
Subj: Your Press Conference

There's no crying in football!

Thursday, January 10, 2008

Works for me

It says in this news item that naps are good for you. There, see? Once you get one foot over into codgerdom, you know for damn sure that this is correct. Ninety minutes seems a little generous, though.

Wednesday, January 09, 2008

Nope, Nope

I said I wasn't commenting about politics.

Tuesday, January 08, 2008

January Satori

Last spring I took up archery again, something I hadn't touched since high school. The reason is that I've become sporadically involved in the Society for Creative Anachronism (SCA). I'll happily admit that this is one more way to play adult dress-up and be escapist. It differs from, for example, Renaissance fairs in that it is participatory and not a spectator sport. You are expected to do something. I surveyed the options and decided that archery offered the best prospects. In this, I leaned heavily on the gene pool. My brother is a target archer of some distinction with the modern, compound bow. I need hardly say that such weapons, which resemble a block and tackle more than a longbow, are not welcome at SCA events.

During the last few months I've wondered if it was the right choice. This is not something easy to learn. There are regular practices, plus my own backyard practice as often as schedule and safety permitted.

As with many other aiming activities, there are three basic pieces to the puzzle. One is assimilating an ancient protocol whose main end is to keep people from killing each other, squirrels, cats and dogs by accident. Next is tuning the hardware into a state in which it a) does not interfere with one's exertions and b) actually advances them. This is not so easy. Bows, and the wood arrows SCA requires, are maddeningly individual. One must make adjustments one at a time, in order to assess each step and see if it is helping or hurting. One must also wade through masses of often contradictory advice and opinions.

Last, and most important, is tuning the archer. It has occurred to me that one learns a part of that tuning through the equipment process, by learning to set aside the information that does not help, and concentrate on that which does. It not only comes close to zen, in Japan it is a contemplative art in its own right, kyudo.

The contemplative dimension of archery landed on me rather suddenly this week. A spell of moderate weather has let me get outdoors and try out some of my tuning and reading. I expected a difficult run-up to get to the point where I had been forced indoors. What astonished me was that, with the tuning of my older bow more complete, things were advancing far beyond where I had been: I was actually good. I had become absorbed in the process, had overcome the diffidence that goes with starting a new activity at 60. The tuning had succeeded, and the equipment was now much more part of me than before. Satori!!

I don't see kyudo as an end, but rather as a different perspective. The Welsh and English were less spiritual and more physical in their approach to archery, but they had the advantage of starting at age seven. At my age, one must recruit mind and spirit to the learning process.

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Friday, January 04, 2008

Pay Attention to the Man Behind the Curtain

In Roger Clemens' case, that would be his harried publicist, trying sign language to say that he should stop talking now.

I'm sure it was only vitamins and lidocaine. Years ago, I was also sure that I only read Playboy for the articles, and that those cigarettes tasted funny just because they were stale. This may get interesting.

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Thursday, January 03, 2008

Core Dump

The trouble with these things is that one has to say something more or less regularly. That sort of thing is easier when you're being paid to put words on a page, and are under deadline to do it.

I have nothing much to say about the weather, except that it's cold today and is supposed to get warmer directly.

I have sworn off politics as a topic. In an election year, this leaves me speechless much of the time.

I don't blog about work. Work has absorbed most of my waking hours lately.

Which leaves:

  1. When Grendel's mother begins to resemble the prototypical feminist, one can argue that the screenplay has wandered a bit far from the original work.
  2. I may need a new flavour of almanac. I've been a devotee of The Old Farmer's Almanac since childhood. However, the magazine's increasingly vocal denial that global climate change poses global threats has me opening a search for a replacement. If they do it again this year, I'm looking elsewhere. I buy almanacs to know when the tide is in, the sun is up, and interesting astronomical events happen. If I want global warming denial, I can find any number of right-wing news rags to supply it.
  3. The best thing about the months from September through February is that you get at least one four-day week a month.