|Friday||A Pillow Full Of Bunny Kisses|
|Saturday||Take-Out From The Chinese Place With The Fake Vegetarian Chicken So Good You Kind Of Don’t Want To Check If It’s Real Chicken And They’re Just Lying|
Yeah, so, it’s my fault. I’m sorry. That thing where we all went around all day Wednesday thinking it was Thursday? And a whole bunch of Thursday thinking it was Friday? That was me. I messed up somehow and took two days off my Peanuts page-a-day calendar. I don’t know how. I’m usually good about this, taking one day off per day lived. I haven’t got any excuse and I apologize for having everyone’s sense of what day it is messed up. I’d like to make it up to everyone by leaving it on Saturday/Sunday for an extra couple days but I know deep down that would just make everything worse. Best I can do is spread the word, let people know why all this is going on, and we’ll get back to normal as we can manage. I mean normal for us.
|Times I Have Been Ready To Inform Someone In Casual Conversation That The 15th Is Not The Ides Of April, The 13th Is||17||Times The Conversation Has Ever Come Remotely Near This Topic||0||Times A Comic Strip I Read Has Used This As The Base For A Joke||2||Times I Noticed In Time To Comment On This In A Timely Fashion||0|
Plus is the 15th even the Income Tax Filing Deadline in the United States anymore? It seems like it’s always bumped to like the 18th of April or the 44th of May or the 216th of Freaking October anymore. I don’t know. And yeah, the ides are the 13th day of a 30-day month, plus February, and anyway the Romans listed days as counting down to the next big calendar event day, so that the 15th of April would be “17 Kalend May”, which everyone understood to be part of April, not May, and also they sometimes slipped an extra month in between the 24th and the 25th of February. This is why the Emperor Vespasian was never able to get his programmers’ database software to handle dates correctly. Neither can we.
Source: Time’s Pendulum: The Quest to Capture Time — From Sundials to Atomic Clocks, Jo Ellen Barnett.
Source: Advertising and the Transformation of American Society, 1865 – 1920, James D Norris.
Source: Labor and Capital In 19th Century Baseball, Robert P Gelzheiser.
Also you have no idea how compelling I found it as a kid that January and October started the same day of the week, as did February and November, unless it was a Leap Year in which case January started the same day as July and February the same day as August. Once more, in retrospect, I understand why everyone in middle school treated me that way.
Source: The Bill James Baseball Abstract, 1986 Edition.
Based on current projections.
Not valid on the Julian calendar.
Does not account for “Mercedonius”, the occasional 22-day month the Romans would sometime stick in the middle of February because they really did not have a clear handle on how to design a good calendar. I mean, they managed to screw up the rule of “leap year every four years” and it took more than a decade before anyone realized, and that isn’t even my joke.
Not counted: all appearances of King Friday The 13th during the Mister Rogers’ Neighborhood marathon as I could not find when that’s scheduled.
Well, I wrote down the day of the week and it came out “Thursday”. I wrote down the day of the month and it came out “22nd”. I wrote down the month and it came out “September”. And the year? That turned out to be “2016” because remember that? Yeah. So in that big flaming pile of fantastic wrongness I just have to ask: wait, was the 22nd of September a Thursday last year? … It was. How the heck did I get that right?
I did not get stuff wrong on my mathematics blog where I talked about comic strips, which is a different thing from when I talk about comic strips here on my humor blog, somehow. I think.
And how is your late-September working out?
I confess: I’m doing a terrible job Christmas-shopping this year. Oh, the big item was easy enough. Just go down to the Christmas store and pick out one December 25th and arrange to have it delivered. I got the Sunday model this year. As a kid I was always torn between whether Sunday or Monday Christmases were the best. A Monday Christmas had the great fun of Advent being as short as it could be, plus, going right from the 4th Sunday of Advent services Sunday morning straight to Christmas Eve mass in the evening. But with a Sunday Christmas you get to burn the Advent candles for the whole fourth week. In hindsight I understand why everyone treated me that way in middle school.
But past arranging to have a Christmas it’s been a rough time thinking what to get people. I blame myself. I went through a stretch last decade where I gave everybody calendars all the time because, hey, who doesn’t need large pieces of paper with a grid of numbers on them? Sure, we all do. Page-a-day calendars are great because my father could get all way to January 17th before forgetting to look at the Far Side of the day. Month-by-month calendars are great because they don’t make any sense.
I mean, you maybe don’t remember what day it is, but put up a sheet of paper with up to 31 plausible candidates for the month and suddenly you’re able to keep it straight. If that doesn’t keep you up nights wondering how that screwed-up bit of psychology works maybe it will now. I’m assuming you aren’t one of those people that crosses off a date once it’s been used and if you are don’t tell me. It’ll force me to lead a rescue expedition for your calendars and I might grab your paperback books just to make sure you don’t crack their spines and I already have enough paperback books in the basement that it’s sunk two feet from where it started.
Despite calendars’ unquestionable properties as useful things that can be given I sensed I’d reached my lifetime limit for giving them. I got to hearing sharp jokes about them, and by jokes I mean sticks, and by hearing I mean “being jabbed in the belly”, and by “about them” I mean “from family members who are not going to start reading Rob Harrell’s Big Top no matter how much I’m sure they would like the January 22nd one”. Put that sentence back together and see if it doesn’t make sense. I’ll wait.
I can tell you what I want to give people. I just don’t know that it exists. But we saw the TV broadcast of the Silver Bells parade from last month. It was mostly like what being at the event was, except we weren’t being rained on while watching the rebroadcast. As the program went on you could see and hear more and more rain pouring down. The rain got to drowning out the news anchors trying to tell us which high school marching bad was doing Jingle Bell Rock [*]. I mean the sound of the rain, but then the rain got even more drown-y and they had everyone flee the parade. Thing is the last minutes of the broadcast —
Well. They left the camera running, but didn’t have any audio. They switched to playing something that wasn’t quite any identifiable Christmas carol. It was what you probably get when Santa puts you on hold. And through all this they showed people running desperately across the streets trying not to drown in the rain. After a couple minutes of that they gave up entirely and put a text crawl on-screen explaining that unfortunately severe weather forced the abandonment of the parade, but it was still a fantastic experience. The text crawl, the not-quite-music, the images come together to look like the tag scene where the war movie tells you how many of the battalion ever saw home again. And they’re looking forward to next year!
Anyway if they sell this on DVD I’m giving that to everybody I know, possibly every year for the rest of my life. I can do that now. Most of my family now lives in other states, well outside of stick range.
[*] Fewer than we expected but the parade did get cut short.
Because who doesn’t love a big dictionary entry?
From about the second tutorial screen to Europa Universalis: Rome, a grand strategy game variant I bought when it was on sale and only just got around to now that I got the mothership game done one time. And depending on how wide a screen you’re looking at this on it might be hard to see what I’m pointing to, so you might want to click on the image until it’s big enough you can read the text easily.
And I am just awestruck by the multiple levels of failure involved with this screen. I would like to know how they overlooked a few ways to make this even better, such as:
- Make the text dark grey on a slightly less dark grey background, possibly one with a lot of very dark grey cross-hatching.
- When you pause or unpause the game, have it shriek.
- Make the images less directly representative, like, instead of a pile of coins for the treasury and money use a pile of salt, represented by a bottle of soy sauce, which can be quite high in salt; or perhaps represent research with a plain footlong hot dog.
- Set the screen to occasionally strobe, and in the midst of the strobing effect, have the computer grab some manner of blunt instrument and poke you in the ribs with it, then punch you.
So in summary, I would like to note that when one of the trilithons making up Stonehenge fell in 1797, a report in the Kentish Gazette placed blame for the fall on the burrowing of rabbits undermining the wonder. (Pages 39-40). Thank you.
|Month||Day I Remember To Change The Calendar|
Bits from my scrap file that I couldn’t use in April 2016. Free to good home. No pedigree available on metaphors. Papers available upon request but don’t ask me to whom.
When I say it makes my hair look “good”, I mean it looks good enough for me. By “enough” I mean there’s room for obvious improvement. By “improvement” I mean a general bettering-ness of things. By “me” I mean the same old person I meant last time, only a little older. — Cut because I could swear it’s a Robert Benchley thing and while I would get away with it, I would know. And by “know” I mean “know”. By “I” I mean “me”, but in a different case.
seeming like it might be — Man, again I have this cropping up everywhere. I’m not even trying to write it, it just appears.
And then the label on the pumpkin can says “Good to connect! Visit us at LibbysPumpkin.com”. — Cut from the pumpkin can label because E M Forster rose from his grave to warn me that this was not even in the slightest what he meant. “It’s a can of pumpkin innards,” he said, “What could you possibly have to talk to anyone about that? There is no elaboration possible! Pumpkin innards are a complete explanation of themselves!” On hearing this, the ghosts of René Magritte and Alfred Korzybski got a heated quarrel going about whether a pumpkin was a sufficient representation of a pumpkin. They’ve been going at this since last Saturday and I would say I’m sorry to have got the whole thing started. Except that as a side effect Forster and the ghost of Marshall McLuhan have been watching my Arrested Development DVDs. You wouldn’t think that’s the kind of show someone could riff on, Mystery Science Theater 3000-style. They don’t, not exactly. But their commenting’s got pretty sharp stuff anyway. Also the ghost of Korzybski has been in the dining room giving those “I’ve got my eyes on you” fingers to our picture of Immanuel Kant.
Nutmeg was supposedly so powerful it could bring things back to life, which makes it weird they’d use it to cover the taste of rotted meat. Would you want a slab of rotten mutton or whatever they ate in the 16th century coming back to life? But I understand scholars don’t believe Europeans were covering the taste of rotted meat anymore anyway. That makes more sense to me. Spices needed years to get from the East Indies to, say, Sheffield. Animals were right there. It’s much more plausible if Europeans used fresh meat to cover up the taste of rotted spices. — Cut from that time-in-New-Jersey essay because I’m not sure where I got that bit about nutmeg curing death. I’m pretty sure I read it in Giles Milton’s Nathaniel’s Nutmeg: Something Something Or Other Something Spice That I Just Bet You Changed The World but I don’t know where my copy is. And maybe Giles was having a little giggle with us all. If anyone knows him please ask and let’s find out. Also I really thought that time-in-New-Jersey post would get more interest from the standards-enthusiast community here. Go figure.
But then a fantastic arrogance has always been your truest métier. — Cut from that letter I’m still working on to that estranged friend because I am getting to wonder what exactly I ever got out of that friendship.
Ghostbusters became a thoroughly enjoyed icon of pop culture despite the warning that it was a years-in-development labor of love by Dan Aykroyd. — Snipped when I remembered there are already plenty of opinions about Ghostbusters on the Internet and that doesn’t mean I have to have one too.
Cartoon Characters That Have Been Caught In Giant Snowballs Rolling Down Mountains. — Cut from a potential Statistics Saturday post when I realized I couldn’t name all that many. There’s ThunderCat Lion-O, of course. Also Betty Boop. But after that? I would guess it’s happened to Bugs Bunny. And probably on Hanna-Barbera’s 1960s series Character Who’s Got One Catchphrase And A Bow Tie And That Will Have To Do For 17 Episodes. I guess Breezly and Sneezly. But that’s not a list. That’s a partially baked idea and there’s no sign that the Magritte-Korzybski quarrel will heat it well enough to finish.
So among the bonus content that’s put on the back of my Peanuts Page-A-Day calendar, instead of the Sunday strips and pages for Sunday as a day on the calendar that I would think was the main content, was this:
Groaners: World’s Best Bad Jokes And Puns
A man walking with his friend says, “I’m a walking economy.”
His friend replies, “How so?”
“My hairline is in recession, my stomach is a victim of inflation, and both of these together are putting me into a deep depression.”
And I’m stuck wondering: who’s the joke supposed to appeal to? Never mind why it’s supposed to make me feel better about the price of the calendar and it not having Sundays. I get a kid finding it funny that older men might lose their hair and get fat, since that really is no end of merriment. But then the language throws you off. To a teen? Isn’t the hoary old joke structure too old-fashioned to amuse someone of that age? To a young adult? Why would they be buying a comic strip page-a-day calendar? To a middling adult like me? The time that joke would’ve amused me is long since passed, and the joke structure would need someone at least as skilled at delivery as a minor Muppet to work at all. To an actual adult like my parents? They’ve never gotten in a page-a-day calendar past the 12th of January. Why are they going to the effort to put a joke like that on the back of the calendar page? They could be putting trivia about the day that nobody will see until they next day when they tear today’s page off the calendar, instead.
First, we got a lot of snow in on Thursday. Over the weekend, under temperatures of as much as 125 degrees (avoirdupois) it melted. Every bit of it, except for those mounds of neutron snow in the parking lots and right where the garbage bin goes for collection. But those are special cases, because those mounds of snow are fortified and will last through to August anyway. If we limit ourselves to the normal snow made of the melting kind of snow, it all melted by yesterday. Today, it snowed. I feel like we’re not getting anywhere. I took one of those giant coffee mugs, the kind you get at slightly hipster coffee shops, and filled it with miso soup and set it out for the ice phoenix, since it’s been frolicking up something fierce for a storm like this to happen.
Not only did nobody recklessly speak of the “ides of February” as though they might be the 15th of the month, but nobody even brought up the question about whether Leap Day is actually the 29th of February. So I couldn’t go on a big tear about how it might technically be the 25th of February unless you’re from certain countries formerly ruled by the United Kingdom in which case it’s totally the 29th. What’s the fun in that?
I need a shovel.
Ah, the 29th of February. Without it February can totally fit into exactly four neat little rows of the calendar. Not often. It did in 1981, exciting the young me. Otherwise it takes five rows of the calendar without quite filling them, the way most months do most of the time. And isn’t that boring? But then sometimes it’s a leap day and that extra day means February can’t fit in four weeks no matter what. Like in 1976 or, if you want to start the week on Monday, 1988. That extra day spoils this wonderful compact four-row thing that February could have going for it. And doesn’t February need more things going for it? Yes, certainly it does.
What I’m saying is that in middle school I couldn’t get the Dungeon and Dragons clique to play with me. Or even acknowledge my existence. It’s possible there wasn’t even one, just so they could be sure I wouldn’t show up and bring stuff like this to them. Ay me.
We seem to be doing pretty well with this year so far. Let’s keep up the good work, shall we?
All certified sentences that have appeared here within the last twelve months! Enjoy, if that’s your sort of thing.
- Despite that there’s a single “best day”, Wednesday, with 53 posts on Wednesdays, which is about as well-organized as you could hope for from the Gregorian calendar what with its familiar and well-explained flaws.
- Yes, there was one time Captain Kirk let the planet of the week keep their omnipotent computer-god overlord too, but that was the time McCoy had contracted a fatal case of We Need Him To Go Off And Get Temporarily Married syndrome, so Kirk’s mind was on other stuff.
- Ambassador Spock, may I at last present you with the face I have brought you halfway across the galaxy to punch.
- It all ends, as any great early-30s cartoon will, with a resolution that makes you go, “wait, what?”
- I never realized sputtering was the sort of thing needing engineering
- I’d like to track how many insights that is you’ve offered, but the count of them keeps coming out wrong.
- This means something, but I don’t know what.
- That turbolift is for the limited-edition figures only
- This was a series about how buff troll dolls use magic alien crystals to become a competent rock band and, um, samurai wrestlers or something
- S J Perelman had an experience with a dental trade journal once, and shared his thoughts.
- We were running about one-third “weird electronic music experiments from that time I bought an album of BBC Radiophonic sound products” to two-thirds “random chapters from Michael Lewis’s The Big Short and Robert Louis Stevenson’s Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde”.
- Yes, I get the dramatic irony in it being about repeating New Year’s resolutions.
You know, I talk about Star Trek here a lot considering this is mostly a blog about how Apartment 3-G didn’t make any sense anymore.
|Rank||Date||Vice-Presidents Dead On That Day|
|1||July 4||John Adams, Thomas Jefferson, Hannibal Hamlin|
|2||January 13||Schuyler Colfax, Hubert Humphrey|
|2 (tied)||June 4||William A Wheeler, Charles W Fairbanks|
|2 (tied)||November 18||Chester A Arthur, Henry A Wallace|
|2 (tied)||December 26||Harry Truman, Gerald Ford|
|6||January 5||Calvin Coolidge|
|6 (tied)||January 6||Theodore Roosevelt|
|6 (tied)||January 18||John Tyler|
|6 (tied)||January 22||Lyndon B Johnson|
|6 (tied)||January 26||Nelson A Rockefeller|
|6 (tied)||February 8||Charles Curtis|
|6 (tied)||March 8||Millard Fillmore|
|6 (tied)||March 31||John C Calhoun|
|6 (tied)||April 18||William R King|
|6 (tied)||April 20||George Clinton|
|6 (tied)||April 22||Richard Nixon|
|6 (tied)||April 23||Charles G Dawes|
|6 (tied)||April 30||Alben W Barkley|
|6 (tied)||May 16||Levi P Morton|
|6 (tied)||May 17||John C Breckinridge|
|6 (tied)||June 1||Thomas R Marshall|
|6 (tied)||June 11||Daniel D Tompkins|
|6 (tied)||June 14||Adlai E Stevenson|
|6 (tied)||July 24||Martin Van Buren|
|6 (tied)||July 31||Andrew Johnson|
|6 (tied)||September 14||Aaron Burr|
|6 (tied)||September 17||Spiro Agnew|
|6 (tied)||October 30||James S Sherman|
|6 (tied)||November 7||John Nance Garner|
|6 (tied)||November 19||Richard Mentor Johnson|
|6 (tied)||November 21||Garret Hobart|
|6 (tied)||November 22||Henry Wilson|
|6 (tied)||November 23||Elbridge Gerry|
|6 (tied)||November 25||Thomas A Hendricks|
|6 (tied)||December 31||George M Dallas|
|36||All Other Days|
If we learn anything from this, it is: don’t be a Vice-President in November. It doesn’t work out well for you. But August is surprisingly safe.
I have a Peanuts page-a-day calendar because otherwise I’d only be reading three different Peanuts strips online every day, and on the back of every page is a miscellaneous bit of stuff, like a word puzzle or a sudoku puzzle or a note about what the day’s an anniversary of, which would be kind of useful if I saw it before I tore the page off the next day. On the back of January 27 they had this:
Corporate executives consider Tuesday the most productive day of the week. It’s the day to get down to business and start crossing off items on to-do lists.
Is this a “fun fact”? I’m not a fair judge of whether something is fun because I own multiple books which explain the history of containerized cargo, and I’ve been thinking seriously about picking up James Q Wilson’s Bureaucracy for recreational reading. I know that sounds like a joke, but I got interested in Wilson’s book because of some reading I was doing about Harry S Truman’s 1946-1949 director of the Bureau of the Budget, so you see why that all makes sense. You can tell me whether corporate productivity assessments are fun.
But is it a “fact”? People have a complicated relationship with facts. We like them, because we’re pretty sure knowledge is built out of them, but just how that building gets done is a mystery. You can check in the World Almanac and find out how many tons of steel the United States produced in 1945, if you were trying to look up when Arbor Day is and had some trouble with the index, but all that really tells you is how much steel the American Iron and Steel Institute was willing to admit was made back then. And really, all you learn is how much the World Almanac claims the American Iron and Steel Institute claims was made back then, and they’re pretty sure you aren’t going to go checking, what with Google being a much easier way to find out when Arbor Day is. Knowing what you do about American steel production rates in 1945 doesn’t give you any idea about why Arbor Day.
We want facts to be on our side, as we get ready to do cognitive battle with the world, but they’re not reliable allies. A fact can be pretty hard to dispute — that steel-production figure has got to be pretty sound if I could figure out where I left the World Almanac so I could look it up — but then it’s also too dull to enlist except on a game show; it’s got at most the power to make you go “huh” and move on. Facts that are about anything interesting are graded and qualified and have subtleties and need other facts to help them out. If we, say, want to know what made World War II happen and what we can do to prevent a recurrence we can’t really grab anything concrete and have to content ourselves to not calling that area “Prussia” anymore.
We want facts to speak for themselves, as long as they stick to our scripts. When we run across a treacherous fact that doesn’t seem to care if it supports us we could say something about how we might change our minds based on “this fact, if it’s true.” This should cause Mrs Furey to pop up from seventh-grade English class and berate our intellectual carelessness. If it isn’t true it isn’t a fact, by definition, which is a kind of fact used to divert an argument we might not win into an argument everybody will walk away from, losing and bitter. We can get away with the carelessness because it’s a big world and Mrs Furey might need years before she can get back to us.
That’s all right; only the old-fashioned try to change minds with facts anymore anyway. Now it’s all done with the right colored lighting, appropriate background music, and the vague scent of vanilla, which research into the psychology of decision-making shows will cause us to decide, never mind what we said before, we are going to buy whatever it is that’s in front of us, whether it’s a Snoopy doll, a footstool, a bowl of keychains, or a 2016 Toyota Something Limited Edition (pre-recalled for your convenience). At least that’s what the facts they report say and who are we to quibble?
If there’s a fact I am pretty sure about, it’s that the calendar company started putting this stuff on the back of their pages at the same time they stopped printing separate pages for Sundays. That’s fourteen percent of the year they’re hoping I won’t miss if they put in a sprinkling of fun facts. I bet they decided to do that on a Tuesday.
|Day||Gut Reaction To That Being Election Day|
|November 2||Gah, way too early, this is like before Labor Day. What’s the rush?|
|November 3||OK, but it’s a little soon, don’t you think? I guess we can work with this.|
|November 4||This was election day for the first Presidential election I ever remember so this is obviously the best possible election day.|
|November 5||All right, we can work with this, even if it’s taking a while to get the voting done.|
|November 6||Um, how are we waiting this long to get around to it? Well, we can still vote but somebody better have a tardy slip over this.|
|November 7||Is this even a day? Something’s going seriously wrong with democracy if we’re voting on a day with an identifier like “November 7”.|
|November 8||Didn’t we already have the election a week ago? This is like after the Feast of the Epiphany for crying out loud.|
My family’s got a Birthdays Calendar shared through Google I Think, which is great because with all the marriages and children added to the family the past decade-plus I’ve realized I really don’t have a grip on the birthday of anyone who joined the family after 1979. The only thing that could make this a more useful service is if I ever remembered to look at it.
So, now, this is why I’ve found it suddenly alarming that I got a mail reporting my father had made an update on the birthday calendar, to wit, “CANCELLED @ Annually” for a couple weeks from now. It’s definitely not the birthdate of any of my siblings, so I have to conclude it’s the birthday of one of my siblings-in-law that’s been cancelled. I haven’t heard of any sources of particular tension in the family lately either, but it’s easy for me to miss that sort of thing either. Part of me feels like I should be warning them not to take any blacksmithing and shaving offers they get the next couple days, but part of me does feel like, well, my father must have pretty good reasons even if I haven’t heard them yet, right?
It’s so hard to know what to do when you get a mail like that.