FEB. 28, 2021 REMEMBERING SUNDAYS AT CHURCH
More than two decades ago, my father's funeral was officiated by Rev. Joseph Rhea at the First United Methodist Church in Richwood, Ohio. Pastor Joe still presides there.
With the minister wearing a transparent face shield attached to a baseball cap ... with nobody in the choir loft and not that many in the pews ... the church I attended during my childhood has resumed in-person worship services. Some folks attend via the live stream on Facebook, from whence I obtained this panorama.
FEB. 26, 2021 FEWER NETWORK TIME-KILLERS
One of the few good things about the pandemic: the freedom it brings to white-collar employees who can stay home and collaborate via the Internet. No longer must they commute to the office, where they will spend 40 hours a week alongside their fellow workers in a stuffy virus-laden room.
The cutback to once a week was actually the idea not of the commissioners themselves but of the full-time employees on their staff. Meetings tie up a lot of hours which the staff could use more efficiently tending to their actual responsibilities.
On this date 30 years ago, George Gobel passed away.
I think back several more decades to what might have been July 7, 1956, when I was nine years old. I don't recall the date, but I'll always remember the traumatic disappointment I suffered that night.
We didn't have a television set at home yet, so whenever we visited my grandmother, it was a treat to watch shows on her TV. On Saturday nights I got to stay up late. The family sat in her living room from 8:00 to 11:00 and enjoyed Perry Como on NBC, Lawrence Welk on ABC, then back to NBC for George Gobel followed by Your Hit Parade.
FEB. 22, 2021 PARASYNONYMS
Linguist and anthropologist Franz Boas wrote in 1911, Another example of the same kind, the words for snow in Eskimo, may be given. Here we find one word, aput, expressing snow on the ground; another one, qana, falling snow; a third one, piqsirpoq, drifting snow; and a fourth one, qimuqsuq, a snowdrift.
This concept grew throughout the 20th century, with some writers claiming 50, 100, and even 400 Eskimo terms for snow. Benjamin Whorf suggested that because the northern natives have more words available, they can think about the white stuff in ways that never occur to English speakers.
But what about English speakers? A language from an island nation often focuses on watercraft. Therefore it's not surprising that we have at least 70 words for that concept, some of them borrowed from other tongues. They include but by no means are limited to: ark, barge, bark, bateau, battleship, boat, brigantine, bucket, canoe, caravel, carrier, catamaran, clipper, coracle, corvette, craft, cruiser, cutter, destroyer, dhow, dinghy, dory, dreadnaught, dugout, ferry, flatboat, flattop, frigate, galleon, galley, gondola, gunboat, houseboat, hulk, hydrofoil, junk, kayak, ketch, launch, lifeboat, lighter, liner, longboat, oiler, outboard, pinnace, punt, raft, rowboat, sailboat, sampan, schooner, scow, scull, shell, ship, skiff, sloop, steamboat, submarine, tanker, tender, trawler, tub, tugboat, vessel, whaleboat, windjammer, yacht, and yawl.
FEB. 20, 2021 SEVENTY-FOUR YEARS AGO
I was born on this date in 1947. In that same month, the Morehouse College student newspaper, the Maroon Tiger, printed an essay by an eighteen-year-old junior. A few excerpts:
But education which stops with efficiency may prove the greatest menace to society. The most dangerous criminal may be the man gifted with reason, but with no morals.
KCBS-TV reporter Serene Branson began speaking in tongues Sunday night during a Grammy Awards update from the Staples Center. Shes fine now; her scrambled speech has been attributed to a complex migraine.
I can empathize. I've had the same scary experience twice, though fortunately not while on the air.
When I was a toddler, I programmed a part of my brain to associate words like Mommy with the vocal contortions necessary to produce sounds like Muh, aw, muh, ee. Thus I learned to speak. The brain app automatically converts words to speech without further effort on my part. However, a couple of times in 1971, it suffered a power shortage and began outputting gibberish. I wanted to say Check and what I heard coming out of my mouth was Chart.
The only way I could produce the words I wanted was by bypassing the malfunctioning software and consciously speaking Each Sound separately, as in Eee, ch, Sss, ow, und. So I shut up for a few minutes while my brain rebooted, and afterwards everything was normal. I described the episodes to our family doctor, Dr. C.W. Holcomb, who basically said there was nothing that could be done.
Some years later, I recall that a Pittsburgh Pirates infielder I think it was Jay Bell had to be scratched from a scheduled start because he was experiencing an aura. You dont want to be catching a hard-hit baseball if you cant distinguish it from the other dots of light.
FEB. 17, 2021 LUNNER PLANNING
As a retired introvert, I mostly isolate at home, but nearly every day I put on a double mask and venture out usually around 2:00 PM, typically the warmest hour at this time of year. I hop in the car and, unless another errand takes priority, drive to a restaurant window. There I obtain lunner and either eat it in my car or bring it back to my apartment. (Dining indoors with strangers is still somewhat risky.)
Lunner, of course, is a meal consumed between the traditional times for lunch and dinner.
Winter storms this week are disrupting my routine. When will it be safe to go outside? Here in Pennsylvania we're fortunately enduring fewer winter woes than Sun Belt states like Texas, but our TV meteorologists do issue warnings.
On Thursday I may brave the falling snow for a short trip, but by Friday morning half a foot of it will have accumulated on top of my car. I've tentatively scheduled that afternoon for shoveling off the white stuff, aided by 30° temperatures and light rain. Then even colder wind chills will keep me confined inside for most of the weekend.
FEB. 15, 2021 IASCT
I've never been properly schooled in the language of the Internet. When a tweeter includes an arcane adverbial abbreviation such as IIRC or IMO or ICYMI or IRL or OTOH or BTW or TBH, I have two options. I can guess the meaning from context, or I can ignore it. As a last resort, maybe I'll Google it.
Christmas was seven weeks ago. It's good thing that we've all taken down our Christmas trees, because the new moon has arrived. That means today is New Year's Day! The lunar new year, that is.
FEB. 10, 2021 COULD I HAVE TRUMPED TRUMP?
I lived in South Florida for three weeks in March 1985. As detailed here, I was part of a video crew in residence at the fabled Fontainebleau Hotel on Miami Beach. We were there for IBM's corporate Leadership Conference. Each of the three sessions lasted only four days, so in between we had mini-vacation time.
My high school friend Terry Rockhold happened to be an internal auditor at the Miami headquarters of Burger King. On a couple of occasions, he drove over from his apartment in Kendall to pick me up at my hotel for a little diversion.
As you might have guessed, the photo shows a small part of Mar-A-Lago. Was this where we were sight-seeing? The estate had been unoccupied since 1973, when its first owner, a Post Cereals heiress, died and willed it to the United States for possible future use as a Winter White House. We taxpayers were paying $1 million a year for maintenance, so in 1981 the government gave it back and the Post Foundation put it up for sale.
A Palm Beach resident recalls that the estate was advertised for as much as $90 million. New York real-estate mogul Donald Trump offered $15 million. When his bid wasn't accepted, he tried to force the price even lower by buying the adjoining beach from a Kentucky Fried Chicken heir and threatening to erect a building to block the view. Various other developers also tried to purchase Mar-A-Lago.
Finally, after four years, the Post Foundation ran out of patience and let Trump have the place for a bargain figure, which he claimed was $5 million for the house and $3 million for the furniture. He closed the deal two days after Christmas 1985, boasting that he paid cash up front, though most of the money came from an $8.5 million loan from the Chase Manhattan Bank.
Did Terry and I visit Mar-A-Lago while it was still on the market? Could we have phoned Chase Manhattan and pooled our resources to buy it unfurnished for as little as three million each, thereby outbidding Trump? I'll never know.
Subsequently, one of my classmates Barbara Ashley, an activist white sophomore from Long Island whom I've mentioned before attended Tougaloo College for a semester in 1967. Upon her return, Oberlin's student newspaper published an article about her experiences. It noted that since her visit to Tougaloo, Miss Ashley has become a black power advocate. Click this link.
Half a century later, as our class was planning our 50-year reunion, Barbara recalled one of her last evenings as a student back in 1969. All her studies had been completed, and it was time to let go and relax.
Turns out, it was the start of Alumni weekend and it was a dinner for the 50th Reunion Class!
FEB. 7, 2021 LIV TYLER, LIV ULLMANN, LIV . . .
I remember the first Super Bowl, which followed the 1966 season and was played in January. Referring to it as the 1967 Super Bowl might have been misleading, so it was called Super Bowl I.
In the following years, the Roman numerals returned. Again the trophy was located to the right of the first character. But doesn't it appear to be an additional I?
FEB. 5, 2021 BACKWARDS TIME MANAGEMENT
Now that I'm retired, I have fewer things I gotta do. Nevertheless, I still keep a list.
Well, my schedule nowadays has only a few items to check off. The to-do list fits easily on my whiteboard calendar, and many squares for dates later in the month show no tasks at all. I can eat lunch when I get hungry and go to bed when I get sleepy, so I don't schedule precise times for routines like that.
Nir would tell me I should make lots of notations for every day. Keeping a schedule seems simple, yet most people don't do it correctly. They plop a meeting or two onto their calendar and leave the rest of it blank. A better approach is to use what psychologists call setting an implementation intention, a fancy term for deciding what you're going to do and when you're going to do it.
I can use that method, but only if something must happen at a preordained hour because people like my dentist are expecting me not because I've set an arbitrary deadline for myself.
For example, I think back to my days working in a TV production truck outside the hockey arena in Pittsburgh. Suppose my call time is noon. After that hour, the producer will tell me what to do, but there are preparations I need to make beforehand. I scribble them onto a blank section of the whiteboard, something like this.
Writer Ken Levine knows about back-timing. As a radio DJ, he sometimes had to start a record so it would conclude just in time for the top-of-the-hour newscast to begin. Ken blogs, In the business world it rankles me when workers make an appointment and they're considerably late. What that says to me is their time is way more important than mine. If they don't care about showing up on time, how good can their actual work be? You're an intelligent person just back-time accordingly.
Of course, I'm no longer in the business world. Am I planning to do something Monday that will involve going somewhere? That project will also require a number of steps, but nobody will fire me if I don't complete them by noon. I can start whenever I get around to it, and finish whenever I finish. I could even put it off until Tuesday. (But not until Wednesday the 10th. Brr!)
FEB. 2, 2021 EARLY IN THE PREVIOUS CENTURY
During the final year of the administration of Postmaster General Arthur Summerfield, 1960, my hometown got a new modern post office. Before that, I recall depositing letters in this building at 100 North Franklin Street. I found the photo online, credited to Charles Lyn Barry; the northeast corner of Franklin and Blagrove Streets has long since become a parking lot.