23, 2018 THERE
WAS ALSO A POPE HILARIUS
accumulated a lot of facts over the years, but some gaps have remained.
example, I never needed to type Hillary Clinton's first name, so it
took me more than a decade to learn exactly how to spell it.
How many L's? Is it like Hilary of Poitiers or Hilary Duff?
I still haven't figured out the Trumps. Which is Ivania and
which is Melanka?
20, 2018 UPDATE
I put together my recollections from January of my favorite year, I
forgot about college basketball's Game of the Century. It took
place 50 years ago tonight. I've added a note here
explaining how I listened to this historic telecast on my radio.
18, 2018 COME
5 & DIME
ad as seen on TV implies that these thin socks will
insulate your feet even when the thermometer drops to 35° below
zero. I seriously doubt the added metal makes the shiny socks
any warmer, unless you're going to hook batteries up to those
heres a more believable claim. In a mall near me, this
chain store apparently sells cold-weather gear that will protect down
to 5° below.
need that sort of thing! On January 7 the temperature in
Pittsburgh actually did drop to -5°, and for the fourth
consecutive day I chose not to venture outside my apartment.
Going outdoors was not a reasonable option.
I've just been handed a correction. It turns out that Five
Below actually sells cool gadgets and yoga mats and such
to young adolescents. And its name doesn't refer to temperatures
but rather to its prices, which are $5 or less.
has struck again. Thats five times as much as another
discount chain, Dollar General, charged at its 1955 debut, when
department-store owner Cal Turner took his competitors
Dollar Days promotions one step further by converting
this location in Springfield, Kentucky.
its fifty or a hundred times as much as the old dime stores.
One of them, the Ben Franklin 5-and-10-cent store seen
below, opened in 1935 in Oberlin, Ohio. The business is still
there, but its prices have gone up somewhat.
15, 2018 T-TICK,
new diner has opened down the road from me. On its eastern
wall, there hangs a huge antique-style clock, several feet in diameter.
found a similar timepiece advertised on a British website for
£170. However, as I admired it, I noticed something unusual.
large clocks have tick marks for the minutes, 60 of them to the
hour, as I've shown by retouching the far-right picture.
this diner's clock, depicted on the near right, has twice as many
marks! They're numbered from 0 to 120.
can't for the life of me think of any timekeeping method that
involves dividing an hour into 120 half-minutes. (Or, for that
matter, dividing a minute into intervals of 8.3 milliseconds
each.) And I can't find any other examples.
extra markings must be what the retailer describes as some
other artistic decoration, added to make the big bare face look
more like a complicated piece of steampunk Victorian machinery.
12, 2018 HER
PRICE WAS ONE GOAT
first-person retelling of the Bible is reaching back to some of its
more obscure stories.
support the traditional definition of marriage, tweets movie
critic Eric D. Snider, who knows his Scripture. It's
between a man and a teenage girl whose father the man's father has
made a deal with.
man called Hirah, a friend of one of those fathers, plays a role in
my latest episode. It's set in 1718 BC. Hirah arrives at
a fork in the road leading a freshly shorn goat, with which he
intends to pay his buddy's prostitute. (Even back then,
harlotry was already an old profession.) However, there's a
problem. The woman isn't there, and the locals say she never
was there. They disclaim any knowledge of sex for sale.
It's a mystery. Where's the whore?
answer's in Genesis! I'm sure you remember hearing this
inspiring tale in Sunday school.
call my version A
Family of Cheaters.
9, 2008 ELECTRICAL
I woke up this morning, it seemed darker than usual. I
discovered that my electricity was off.
not surprising," I thought to myself. "A cold front
is moving in, and we're under a Wind Advisory from midnight to
noon. High winds have probably knocked down a power line
somewhere. My neighbors are dark too, so it's not my
power line that's down, but people on the other side of the river do
have lights, so the outage isn't a major regional disaster. The
electric company undoubtedly knows about it, and they'll probably get
it fixed by the time the winds subside. It's nothing to worry about."
went back to bed until there was enough daylight to sit by the
window and read. Eventually, the lights came on for one second,
then went off again.
not surprising," I thought to myself. "They've
probably fixed the downed line, but when they re-energized it, the
power surge tripped some circuit breakers. Now they have to go
around and reset the breakers."
hour and a half later, I glimpsed an electric company vehicle, a
bucket truck, heading down my street.
not surprising," I thought to myself. "The
transformer for this neighborhood is around the corner. They're
going to reset the breaker, and the lights will be back on in five minutes."
five minutes, the lights came back on.
beginning to understand these matters too well.
7, 2018 THE
OF THE UNDERDOG
the Ted Baxter System, an apparently profitable way to bet on
football games which I examined on this website 15 years ago?
One of my
readers in Australia has offered an interesting variation on Ted's
method. How does it work? I used it to chart the 2017 NFL
season, and I've analyzed the results in Baxter
4, 2018 WINED
remote broadcast crew sometimes receives driving directions to high
school football games. One such set of instructions warned us
about a windy back road.
the road subject to dangerous winds? Or perhaps they meant it
had dangerous curves, in which case they should have called it
winding (rhymes with minding) instead of windy
(rhymes with Mindy).
probably aware that in modern English the word wind, if
pronounced with a short i as in kin, means
breeze, whereas the same wind pronounced with a
long i as in kind means twist.
it was not always thus. Consider the following rueful song, to
which I've added faces. It's from Shakespeare's As You Like It.
the second act of the play begins, it's the dead of winter.
The banished Duke Senior is camped out in the snowy woods, yet he
finds this place less distressing than his former palace full of
ungrateful courtiers. His companion Amiens sings:
the rhyme scheme. When Shakespeare in his lyric cries out to
the unseen wind, he employs a long i, just like the
long i in the word kind (and, in the next act, mind,
hind, bind, rind, find, and probably Rosalind).
assume this indicates that in those days, wind was always
Bard continues with a second frigid verse.
spelled one of his words shoarp to complete the rhyme.
have changed. Nowadays, breezes get the short end of the i.
We even use the short i for winter. And we use
it for windlass, a winch for wind-ing up a cable or rope.
think I'd prefer wine-ter and
Blow, thou wine-ter wined!
that's just me. I'm not too shoarp.
1, 2018 INSIDE
THE PROGRAM CABINET
first week of the year that I'd later declare my favorite, my college
radio station WOBC broadcast basketball and hockey games on three
consecutive nights. I was still the Sports Director. But
Oberlin wasn't a party school, and I wasn't distracted by
excessive socializing. When it snowed, I didn't go out and
play. I stayed in my room and finished a term paper.
turned my attention to my new position at WOBC. As Program
Director, I would need to sort out tapes and records that we received
from outside sources, including a comedy about Canadians chasing smugglers.
for my latest installment in the 14-month series recalling my life 50
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