Statistics Saturday: Some Minor Hassles Made More Exciting By Labelling Them “The Great ___ Fiasco”


  • The Great Dead-Battery-In-The-Radio-Set-Clock Fiasco
  • The Great Trying-To-Put-My-Ancient-iPad-Back-On-A-Data-Plan-That-Somehow-Requires-A-Lengthy-Discussion-Among-The-Sales-Staff-And-The-Manager-Apologizing-And-Offering-Me-An-Amazon-Firestick-Whatever-That-Is Fiasco
  • The Great Trimming-The-Branch-That-Keeps-Dropping-In-Front-Of-The-Satellite-TV-Dish Fiasco
  • The Great Breakfast-Nook-Light-Fixture-Falling-Off-Hitting-My-Love-On-The-Head Fiasco
  • The Great Can’t-Buy-An-HD-Antenna-That-Adequately-Picks-Up-Local-Channels Fiasco
  • The Great Tried-To-Use-iTunes-To-Listen-To-A-Thing Fiasco
  • The Great Struggling-To-Take-A-Photo-At-The-Amusement-Park-Where-I-Look-Neither-Asleep-Nor-Bug-Eyed Fiasco
  • The Great How-Do-We-Get-Our-Saw-Out-Of-The-Weed-Tree-Trunk-That’s-Heavier-Than-We-Thought Fiasco
  • The Great Me-Trying-To-Get-A-Large-Pop-With-That-In-The-Midwest Fiasco

Another Blog, Meanwhile Index

The index continued its slide today, falling another 22 points despite attempts to rally traders behind the news that the 1st of July is less likely to be a Saturday (or Thursday) than it is any other day of the week and therefore shouldn’t they feel special that they got to see one like this? There won’t be another one like it until 2023, after all. This did nothing to help.

220

Still, Nice To Hear Craggy Island’s On An Uptick


Reuters had this article:


Irish beach reappears 33 years after vanishing into Atlantic Ocean

A beach that was swept away more than 30 years ago from a remote island off the west coast of Ireland has reappeared after thousands of tons of sand were deposited on top of the rocky coastline.

The 300 meter beach near the tiny village of Dooagh on Achill Island vanished in 1984 when storms stripped it of its sand, leaving nothing more than a series of rock pools.

But after high spring tides last month, locals found that the Atlantic Ocean had returned the sand.

I did not realize the world was so very much the waiting cycle for a Popeye-at-the-beach cartoon from the early 50s.

Also, wow, I’m thinking first of the person who thirty years ago went down to the beach after the storm and saw it was gone. How would you go telling people about that? And then this year the person who went down to the sea side just in case and found it was back.

If it came back this year, I mean. I mean, wouldn’t it be a kicker if it turned out the beach had popped back in like two months after it was first washed away, but by then nobody was checking because everyone knew the beach was gone? Or if someone did, like, ten years ago walk along it and see the beach there but figured that must not be the beach that had gone that everyone was talking about since there it was. Or worse, the person did tell folks about it, but everyone figured that was just crazy talk and didn’t even go looking and now the whole town has to admit, “Yeah, you told us so”. There’s just so many ways this could be awkward. I’m fascinated, right up until I think about something else.

Another Blog, Meanwhile Index

The index rose eight points today, fueling concerns that this can’t possibly last. I mean, seriously, every time we’ve been in territory like this we were down around 85 the next week. Who needs that hassle?

133

In Which I Am Failed By My Pop Culture Education


What Sitcoms Trained Young Me To Be Ready For:

“Uh-oh! I have dates with two women at the same time! Luckily, they’re at the same restaurant so if I just get tables on opposite ends I can jump back and forth between the two! I’ll have to find a costume moustache which I can attach and remove easily! And perhaps a blazer of a second color!”

What I Actually Have To Do:

We have two contractors coming over to give an estimate for a minor window repair, and they’re both coming sometime between noon and 4 pm! What if they both show up in the same five-minute period? That would be so awkward! Or would it? Maybe? I don’t know, it feels like it should be, if it happened. Any thoughts? Contractors know there are other contractors, right? They have to, don’t they? But what would they say to each other if they did meet?

Also neither of them said a word to our pet rabbit about his being quite large.

Well, mathematics comics, etc, etc. There’s that.

Another Blog, Meanwhile Index

The index stayed put at 124 today, which analysts credit to a broken alternator that they’re pretty sure they can replace with a rebuilt one that’ll be just as good as a new except for breaking down in winter this time.

124

Statistics Saturday: Your Local TV News Bloopers


Can't pronounce city council person's name; That was NOT the video they intro'd; Nobody knew that animal was ready to poop; Spotlight just burned out; On-the-scene reporter didn't hear the toss; So that's today's Chroma-Key color, huh?; Turns out the mike was still on.
Not pictured: There’s some kind of buzzer that nobody can make stop, because there’s no making a picture of a sound.

Source: Drawing the Head and Figure, Jack Hamm.

Another Blog, Meanwhile Index

That’s right, the index did not change one tiny bit! It’s just one of those weird coincidences! Nothing suspicious happened and we certainly did not knock the index over and hastily glue it back together before anyone could come in and check! Ha ha!

106

What You Missed At Open-Mike Night


  • The announcements on the event board that it was going to be open-mike night until someone went up on stage and said, “check, check one, check one” and then left, ninety minutes before the event started.
  • Someone who thought he was signing up for karaoke night. But who was game for this and did his best by pulling up The Bangles’ Walk Like An Egyptian on his phone and singing along to it until two-thirds of the way through when the phone crashed.
  • An excessively long anecdote that might be personal. But the central premise is that it’s a very funny thing to suppose that grandmothers might be on Facebook, and even moreso that it would be hilarious that they might get snarky at one another when talking about their grandkids over what seems like a minor misunderstanding to start with.
  • A singer who’s really working hard on getting this “I say”/“You say” call-and-response going, even though the audience somehow doesn’t seem able to quite get what they’re supposed to say back. It’s hard to pin down blame except that he seems to be rallying pride for the vaguely-defined neighborhood that ends about two blocks over from the bar and that the audience has only vague impressions of. “Isn’t that where they have all the hot tub showrooms?” asks someone leaning over from the nearly functional Getaway pinball machine. Did you even notice there was a second hot tub showroom? Be honest.
  • Oh, Lord, someone workshopping a bit for their comedy troupe and they’re interviewing a Folkmanis raccoon puppet about Donald Trump’s tax returns. Cute voice on the raccoon. Good puppet work.
  • Another fellow who figured to make this into karaoke night since that worked nearly right for the first person. So he pulls up the theme to Transformers on his phone and after the very long intro discovers he’s somehow got the Spanish-language version, which is a thing that it turns out exists? He laughs and retreats, head under his arms, into the corner until he comes back and just pantomimes like he’s Tom Jones to this whole thing.
  • Guy straddling the line between a rant and a comedy bit about how the promise of genetic engineering was how it was going to let us turn into werewolves and dinosaurs and cool stuff like that. But now it’s here and what is it about? Doing stuff to Progresso Lentils-with-Vegetable soup that’s so boring they can’t even bring themselves to specify what it is on the labels. He’s got something there.
  • Progreso Lentil with Roasted Vegetables soup. Partially Produced with Genetic Engineering.
    Yes, the label says now that its exchanges are good for 1 Starch and 1 Vegetable, but analysts expect it’ll rise to 1.15 Starch and 1.05 Vegetable after the quarterly earnings report comes out so rebalance your portfolio appropriately. Also: Raisin Juice Concentrate? This is a thing?
  • They’re going to take a twenty-minute break now which turns out to be thirteen minutes long.
  • Quickly-delivered beat poem that’s doing very well at sounding like what you hope for out of an open-mike night. It’s way too dense to actually parse but there seems to be something going on with nation-duration-obliteration and fence-dense-Pence-offense that suggests they know what they’re doing. Probably the highlight of the night even if the audience is going to spend the whole next day trying to work out what fit between nation and duration and obliteration and whether there’s a fourth word that could fit the rhyme scheme. Abomination, sure, but right-wingers wrecked that word when they mashed it up with Obama’s name to denounce stuff like non-binary people being allowed to pee.
  • Guy who can’t be heard even though he’s standing so close to the microphone it may actually be inside his mouth. He apologizes for not “speaking up” and “louder” four times over the course of his two-minute set.
  • They take the other seven minutes of break now. It takes twelve minutes.
  • Some guy staring close at his iPhone and reading They Might Be Giants’ Birdhouse In Your Soul with all the words in alphabetical order until he gets dizzy.
  • Fellow who wanted to read the classifieds from the free weekly in a funny voice. In a courageous act he didn’t vet the classifieds beforehand, and apparently didn’t realize how much they change week to week, so he’s trying to build something out of Dave’s offer for snow removal.
  • Someone telling a comic anecdote and who’s just assumed that of course we’re on her side in this encounter with a Kmart cashier whom she’s decided was asking stupid questions. The saving grace is supposing that the storyteller is making all this up after deciding that she should’ve been a worse person after leaving the store, but then, oh yeah, remember working retail?
  • Thanks everyone for coming out to another great open-mike night, it’s the great audiences we get here that make it possible for everyone to come out and …
  • Sorry, we missed this woman who signed up to tell about just how crazy her phone call to her Congressman turned out but you’ll give her a listen now, won’t you? Thank you. Thanks for coming out and supporting creativity in the neighborhood.

Another Blog, Meanwhile Index

The trading index rose six points over the course of the day with everybody being in really good spirits after finding out that paczki are back and someone brought a 24-pack box in from the Quality Dairy and now everybody’s kind of sleeping off a paczki coma.

105

My New Pastime


Don’t mind me. I’m just trying to work out exactly where to stand while the person in the cellular phone store tries to work out my issue. It’s one of those kinds of issues you get with cellular phones, or in my case an iPad so old it even predates when they had capital letters for the name. So, you know, it’s something boring and stupid yet impossibly hard to fix. Anyway, I don’t want to stand right next to the person, because that seems too pushy. Bear in mind, I’m a tall person, so I have to take steps in order to avoid needlessly intimidating people. These are several steps away from the person I’m trying not to overwhelm. But any of my steps are pretty big ones, since so much of my bigness is in the legs. And then where does that leave me? Backing out of the store and into the middle of traffic is where. Bad enough in the mall. Worse if it’s one of those freestanding stores, since then the traffic is Route 206. There’s surely some place I should be and wherever I am isn’t it.

Another Blog, Meanwhile Index

The Another Blog, Meanwhile index fell a point today in trading described as “distracted” because I kept bumping in to them while trying to edge a little bit farther away from the customer service person trying to help me. I say that’s excuse-making but admit that if I could get away with it I’d make some excuses too.

122

When Do I Get To Sing _My Way_?


What’s playing at Karaoke Night:

  • Queen’s Bohemian Rhapsody, sung by the first person who got to pick anything, and also everyone else there.
  • R.E.M.’s It’s The End Of The World As We Know It, performed by someone who starts two bars late and has to give up about twenty percent of the words each verse to return to the chorus anywhere near on time.
  • Let It Go, from Frozen, performed by someone who loves the song but doesn’t realize that it’s awesome because it’s an incredibly hard song to perform.
  • Bill Joel’s Piano Man, sung by everybody when the person who had signed up for it is nowhere to be found when it’s their turn.
  • Weird Al’s Yoda, performed by someone horrified there isn’t anything by the Kinks in the catalogue somehow and trying to reconstruct the real words as best as possible in the circumstances, which include nerds crying out to do it “right” with the Weird Al version.
  • P F Sloan and Steve Barri’s Secret Agent Man, done by someone who figures if he’s loud enough about the key phrase “Secret Agent Man” it won’t matter that he sings it in a different, yet still previously unknown to humanity, key every time. This someone, dear reader, is me.
  • Wings’s With A Little Luck, performed by someone who forgets it has an instrumental break about as long as fourth grade in the middle and stands with wide-eyed terror through three-quarters of it before awkwardly trying to dance, and then remembers the fade-out is even longer still.
  • Gerry Rafferty’s Baker Street, performed by someone who has pretty solid voice control and seems out of place in the proceedings.
  • Johnny Cash’s Ring of Fire, unenthusiastically performed by someone who tries to use the close to say he wanted to do the Wall of Voodoo version, although this explanation gets lost underneath the DJ calling the next singer up.
  • Some Kinda Romanticky Gushy Ballad I Guess, from the closing credits to the film Any Given 80s Movie, Which You Could See Any Time, Day Or Night, In The 90s By Turning On Any Cable Channel Including The TV Listings, sung by someone mumbling so you can’t make out the words anyway, but the glurgey music alone brings back great memories.
  • A-Ha’s Take On Me, until it gets to the first “I’ll be gone” and the performer’s voice locks up at the high pitch, and she runs off stage and can’t be coaxed back up however much everyone promises it’s okay. Post-karaoke-night discussion focuses on whether that was a deliberate joke, and never reaches a definitive conclusion.
  • Queen’s Bohemian Rhapsody, sung by someone who came in late and also everyone else there.
  • Somebody or other’s Unintelligible Hip-Hop Song, performed by a most white guy who is neither hip nor hop, who possessed no idea this would require having a strong sense of cadence and rhythm, and also didn’t realize there were three spots where the verse uses the n-word, something he had failed to establish the necessary policy for well ahead of time.
  • Don McLean’s American Pie sung by a guy who realizes twenty minutes in that he’s still not even halfway through, though everyone feels great joining in the chorus.
  • Journey’s Don’t Stop Believing, performed by someone who picked it just to complain about the reference to South Detroit, also everyone else there.
  • Nena’s 99 Luftballoons, sung by someone who just assumed the karaoke machine had the English-language version. Live and learn, huh?
  • Jefferson Airplane’s White Rabbit without any inflection or change in tone, possibly by me because there’s no way of controlling what note my voice has chosen to sing in this time.
  • U2’s With Or Without You performed by Ron Mael of Sparks after he found, to his disappointment but not surprise, there isn’t anything of his in the karaoke catalogue.
  • Sam the Sham and the Pharaohs’ Little Red Riding Hood done about two octaves low so it sounds 226 percent more pervy than normal.
  • Any Given Indie Band’s Song With A Lot Of Whoa-oa-oa-oaaahoos In It, sung by someone using his pretty good voice to do it as if by Fozzie Bear for some terrible reason.
  • The Champs’ Tequila, by someone who figured this would be funny and had no idea everyone was going to groan like that when it was announced and now he’s stuck with it.
  • Let It Go, from Frozen, as sung by someone who either just came in or didn’t learn the lessons from earlier.
  • The Who’s Pinball Wizard, sung by someone snarking about how there hasn’t been pinball since 1982 and can’t be convinced to look over in the alcove where there’s like eight tables and six of them are even turned on. Seriously.
  • Billy Joel’s We Didn’t Start The Fire, by someone who was sure she knew the lyrics, and then saw what the karaoke machine has, which was apparently transcribed by YouTube’s automated-worthless-closed-captioning. So the screen’s giving stuff like “Denny footfall rocky cockerel unsteamed chess team brook lamprey snotty beam” and now she has no idea what to do.
  • Duran Duran’s Hungry Like The Wolf, picked by someone who was thinking of Warren Zevon’s Werewolves of London because he wanted to do the wolf howl part, but recovers pretty well with the DO-do-do-DO-do-do-DO-do-do-DO-do-do-DO-do-doo part and doesn’t look too disappointed by the end of it all.
  • The Animals’ We Gotta Get Out Of This Place, sung by someone who once again just assumed he was the last person performing for the night and who is confident this will be funny when he finally is.
  • Queen’s We Are The Champions, picked by someone making way too big a deal over the Tigers beating the Rays 5-3 this early in the season.
  • George Michael’s Faith, by someone who didn’t realize how tricky the meter could be, but has a friend who jumps on on stage for the last third to guide her through safely.
  • The Theme To M*A*S*H, selected by someone who wanted to show off he knew the words to it, and wasn’t thinking how the karaoke machine was going to give him, and everybody else, the words to it anyway.
  • Queen’s Bohemian Rhapsody, which is just signing itself up to play at this point.

Not To Start Anything But Yes, _Mary Worth_ Is Being Weird And Creepy Lately


I’m not looking to start any trouble. But, for those who’ve missed it, the current storyline in Mary Worth is in its eleventh week. It’s been entirely about Mary Worth visiting New York City, where she’s been taking little Olive out and about to Broadway plays and museums and shopping and everything. What’s Mary Worth’s relationship to Olive? Nothing really. In a story a while back Olive had a tumor, and she was scared of the surgeon. Mary Worth got Olive’s parents to listen to Olive’s fears, and it turned out the surgeon was on The Drugs so she was right and that’s it.

So this looked like a nice, unusual follow-up story of the kid and her parents after they went back home. Except you know how every Mary Worth story is about people who have an exceedingly simple problem that they can’t figure out until, ideally, some people finally obey Mary’s orders to get married? Writer Karen Moy forgot to include a problem this story. It’s just been Mary poking around taking the kid on a tour of Manhattan, where the kid lives, and talking in ways that straddle the line between “kind of creepy” and “might be coded messages to foreign agents”. It doesn’t reach Apartment 3-G-esque levels of inhumanity — nothing could — but it’s still dazzling.

Little girl Olive and not-little-girl Mary Worth compliment each other's choices in Macy's watches a *lot*.
Karen Moy and Joe Giella’s Mary Worth for the 17th of January, 2016. Yes, it’s all watch-shopping action, but at least everybody involved looks painfully awkward and like they don’t know how to get out of this. Also, apparently Mary Worth is lefthanded? I never knew that.

The past week they’ve spent shopping for each other, with Sunday’s installment a fair representation of what’s going on, although the body language just keeps getting funnier. Special high points: Mary’s hunched-over, guilty, ready-to-flee look in the first panel of the second row; her far-off “and this is why I gave humanity the invention of warp drive” look in the first panel of the third row; and the shopkeeper’s “wait, where is every object in relation to every other object?” gaze in the final panel.

Anyway, I know what you’re really here for, and that’s a bit of gentle pleading to read my mathematics blog and its comic strip discussion there. It features electronic brain action, if you like that. (Who doesn’t?)

My December 2015 Scraps File


I have a longer-than-usual file of scraps for December 2015. I blame the season. Most times of year there’s nothing to do but write stuff, find that it doesn’t work, and then get rid of it. But the Christmas season puts all kinds of extra demands on one’s time. You have to go shopping for loved ones, for example, and the lines to get a loved one at even a discount department store turn something fierce.

Oh, you can order a loved one online, but that almost never turns out well. Many’s the family that thought they were getting a beloved great-aunt shipped by way of Amazon or Etsy. And then they find, when unwrapped, that it turned out to be a great-ant. It would be hundreds of feet tall and would rampage through picnics dozens of times the size of humans. Except, of course, that due to the square-cube law the colossal land animal can’t support its own weight. It flops over helpless, unless it’s right next to a large body of water.

But wait, you cry, immersion in water would not help an ant hundreds of feet tall. The respiratory system of the ant couldn’t draw in enough air through the surface tension of the water. Ah, I say, you’re forgetting this is a giant ant, while the water is normal-sized. Surface tension at this scale is irrelevant to the ant’s needs. But wouldn’t that just as well disrupt the capillary action that’s relevant to ant respiration?

Also, what are we doing talking about ant respiration? When we said the words “ant respiration” and maybe “capillary action” we exhausted our knowledge of the subject. We would be better off talking about something either of us knows. I could offer stuff I’ve learned from reading two popular histories of containerized cargo vessels. You could offer whatever it is you’re doing with yourself these days. And this is exactly the sort of thing that would go in the scrap file, waiting to be put to a productive use, by someone else because I sound completely daft.

I hate to think who it’d be useful for. I suppose someone setting up an online service matching people to their perfect rampaging giant monsters. It’s a great potential service. Most of us go about our lives never knowing what would be the giant rampaging monster best-fitted to our lifestyles. Not everybody needs giant ants. Some folks go for your classic Japanese rubber-suited monsters, sure. But there must be people whose lives would be complete if they were stomped on by an enormous blue-tongued skink. I don’t mean “complete” as in “over”, because you could say that about anyone. I mean how do you know what you would do if rampaged upon by a gigantic skink?

I would waste all my time trying to take a photograph of its tongue. I know because I was at the zoo recently and they had a non-giant blue-tongued skink which was not rampaging. And what do you know but its tongue is blue? So I tried to take a picture of it because, hey, blue tongue. Except that my camera’s slow, and I’m slow. And between the time when the skink started sticking out its tongue, and my noticing, and my hitting the button, and the camera focusing, and taking a picture, the skink would finish sticking out its tongue and go off to get a hot cocoa (it was chilly out) or to check its Twitter account or to see if there’s a village of regular ants it could rampage for.

So I feel confident saying what I’d do if confronted by a rampaging giant blue-tongued skink. I would waste the experience remembering that there’s a “burst” mode on my camera. And something that takes several pictures a second would you’d think but be wrong get its tongue in view, if I could figure out how to get it into that mode. There’s even a high-speed burst mode that takes even more pictures per second. But I took my camera out of burst mode when a guy at the Cedar Point amusement park offered to take a picture of my love and I in front of the Midway Carousel. He held his finger down on the button.

The result is an estimated 642 pictures of us standing with increasingly nervous grins on our face in front of the carousel. The sequence ends with my reaching towards the camera lens with my most common facial expression. That’s the look of “my interacting with people has caused things to go wrong but I have no way to fix that without interacting even more with people”. So I took the camera out of burst mode and have it seems forgotten how to use it since. I’d be spending the whole giant rampaging blue-tongued skink attack (remember that?) trying to find where that mode even is. I needed about ten minutes at the zoo and by that time the skink was all tongue-flickered out.

Looking back on this, I guess I was too busy to actually list any of my scraps from December 2015. And what was I busy doing? Tuning in to the satellite TV’s various Christmas music stations at midnight and 3 am (Eastern) to see which ones were going off the air which days. I’m sorry for all the bother. Well, if you can use anything here, do. Enjoy.

The Problem Of The Missionary


It isn’t that we don’t really want peace, you know. It’s just we don’t really want to be bothered by someone talking about it, since we figure that’s got to end up with being asked for money or, worse, effort. So, thanks for your card but we’re going to have to tell you we’re just not interested in peace. And that’s horrible because right after you admit you aren’t interested in peace you have to start saying things like how you’re opposed to puppies or you think that the Cowardly Lion needs to be taken down a couple pegs. This is why we need to get better at hiding under the table when people start looking interested in us, that’s all there is to it.