In Which My Calendar Wants Me To Do The Unthinkable


I continue to use up my 2018 hard-won Peanuts strip-a-day calendar at a rate of a bit under one strip per day (they don’t have Sunday pages). And it still has activities on the back. Last week it suggested this:

Unscramble the following letters to reveal this April word.
grimepints

I shall do no such thing. “Grimepints” is a magnificent word. It’s as perfect a collection of phonemes as I’ve encountered in a long while. It would make the world a worse place to “unscramble” those letters into some word that is lesser in every way to “grimepints”.

Furthermore, I choose to believe that Grimepints is, besides a perfect word, also the name of a City of London meeting-hall built in 1475. There the Guild of Pandy-Whelkers, established during the reign of King Edward II, still conducts all its business, including the biennial Benefit for the Sick Infants of Needy Croft-Coddlers. They pay a rent of 6/8 plus “four fynne & true kernels of nutt-megg, the niewest to bee hadd” per annum. And I am working up a history of the building and the Guild’s charming yet dotty history as my Patreon exclusive for the month. So nag someone you otherwise like into reviewing a subscription to something! But unscramble “grimepints”? I would sooner cancel springtime itself than commit such an offense to the language.

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Friday

9:30 am. Wake up late. So apparently that melatonin you took to help get to bed Wednesday night was stronger than its 3 mg label suggests. Boy, those things are great. Can you imagine how awful life would be if any of this stuff were regulated or anything?

2:00 pm. The conference call. It starts with great promise. Logemein isn’t working, and no number of panicky e-mails to the people who insist that no, it is too working will make it work. Matters shift quickly to GoToMeeting. This allows for a great five minutes trying to find some talk small enough to wait for the password reset. After that’s done there’s plenty to talk about. What does “custom content error module” even mean, for one? Do we have those words in the right order? Surely “custom module content error” makes more sense as a thing a computer might have trouble with? Or perhaps it’s the “error content custom module” that wants attention and has chosen this moment to ask for it? Anyway, be ready to deploy your joke about “error module contented costume party”. It will be the most appreciated part of the day, judged by how much everyone grunts in acknowledgement that this was a thing said.

Saturday

1:30 pm. Plan to go out to the bagel place for a late lunch disrupted by how you’ve got to share these Private Benjamin plot summaries. And wait, there’s an episode where the Ordnance Disposal Unit accidentally blows up a guy’s house and there’s one with a robot and there’s one where the colonel gets mugged and feels he can’t be a leader anymore and that’s the same season Benjamin tries to save a space-program chimpanzee? The heck? This is way more compelling than onion bagels with the spinach-artichoke cream cheese they’re trying to make.

Sunday

1:56 am. Remember to go over to the kitchen to watch the radio-guided clock automatically correct itself for Daylight Saving Time.

1:59 am. Return to the living room with the bag of microwaved popcorn you didn’t actually want but which, on entering the kitchen, was the only reason you could imagine entering the kitchen at this hour of the night for.

11:25 am. Remember the clock thing and now very angry with yourself. But the memory of the time you did watch, and how as the clock had ratcheted the minute had ahead only about two-thirds of the way the battery died and you were left standing there for three minutes trying to figure what was up, doesn’t do anything to make you feel less bad about missing this.

11:32 am. The battery didn’t die so at least you didn’t miss that excitement maybe?

Monday

6:20 pm. Moment of regret for longstanding institutions gone forever as you notice the vacuum cleaner repair shop has closed. I mean, that has to have been a money-laundering front even more baffling than the United Nations store, right? But it was there forever and it was nice to think that if for some reason you needed to repair a vacuum cleaner there were people who were willing and, presumably, able to do it? But in this loss of a place you never visited and never seriously thought of visiting do you feel the loss of charm and personality and identity of the town you live in, and you feel the touch of oblivion that, most days, you ignore in your own life.

6:21 pm. Wait, the vacuum cleaner place moved two flipping storefronts down? They didn’t even move across the block? They’re just … they … the flipping heck is any of this even about? Money laundering, that’s what it has to be.

Tuesday

11:30 am. Reach the 100th consecutive day of telling the computer to “Remind me tomorrow” about that system update it thinks is so all-fired important and that you can’t even begin to car about.

4:45 pm. Nurl. That’s all it has listed here. Good luck with that.

Wednesday

6:30 pm. Michael’s sends you a good-for-one-day 70% off anything in the store coupon and the only thing you can find that’s even remotely slightly of need is a $2.99 spool of ribbon.

10:10 pm. Oh yeah you were meaning to get that good rubber cutting mat for like ever.

11:25 pm. No luck getting to sleep. Better take a melatonin.

Statistics February: Comic Strips Ending And Pondering Ray Davies Is Still Good For Me


February 2018 turned out to be my third-best-read month around here. I am always excited to see people reading stuff here. I tell myself that’s because they like what they find, but there’s really no way of my telling that apart from looking at the number of likes they leave. But it’s there.

Anyway, in February there were 3,695 page views here. That’s down from January’s post-Apocalypse 3-G high of 3,902 page views. Still, well up from December 2017’s 2,427. (The end of Apartment 3-G had 4,528 page views in November 2015, and that high is just about to drop off WordPress’s little traffic-view page.) And yes, I checked. If February were three days longer and those three days were as busy as the 28 that actually existed, I would’ve had a busier month. I’ll be filing a stern note with Numa Pompilius in the morning. And that is the kind of calendar-nerd joke that explains why I’m most popular when I’m talking about Gil Thorp.

It was a broadly distributed popularity, too. WordPress logged 1,982 unique visitors, up even from January’s 1,671 and December’s 1,409. That’s my second-highest total ever. (The AV Club-boosted Apocalypse 3-G had 2,308 unique visitors, well beyond what I’d get at this pace even if it kept up another three days.) And whatever brought this about? I wrote about Ray Davies.

And, more amazingly, the Kinks fan site Kinda Kinks noticed, and added the post to its roster of Kinks news, and described it so generically (“here’s a blog post about Ray Davies”) that apparently hundreds of Kinks fans clicked to see what that might even mean. The Ray Davies post got 454 page views in February, enormously more than usual for even popular stuff. The second-most-popular post was about the comic strip Piranah Club ending and nobody really knowing what’s going on with Nancy,, and that drew about three hundred page views.

So what was most popular, besides what I just said was? This was:

(The Mary Worth report would definitely have made it to the top five had the month run a little longer.)

It’s the rare month that any of my original long-form pieces are popular. Not sure I’ve had two of my pieces in the top-five since I began summarizing the story comics. But the Kinka Kinks boost is significant; that piece even got four votes in that little five-star rating thing. My typical post gets no votes. Maybe one. I’m not even sure why I have the five-star voting thing, but I see it on other people’s blogs and they always have around 80 votes and 65 likes per post.

So, countries that gave me readers. The United States always sends the most. The United Kingdom sent more than usual, thanks to all that Kinks business. Here’s the whole roster:

Country Readers
United States 2805
United Kingdom 194
Canada 127
India 68
Germany 56
Netherlands 45
Australia 44
Sweden 38
France 19
Philippines 19
Spain 19
Denmark 18
Brazil 17
Serbia 16
Italy 15
Norway 15
Portugal 14
Ireland 10
Mexico 10
Belgium 7
Singapore 7
Turkey 7
Austria 6
Indonesia 6
Venezuela 6
Finland 5
Greece 5
Japan 5
Malaysia 4
New Zealand 4
Romania 4
Slovenia 4
South Africa 4
Switzerland 4
Ukraine 4
Côte d’Ivoire 3
Hong Kong SAR China 3
Pakistan 3
Poland 3
Russia 3
Slovakia 3
Trinidad & Tobago 3
Argentina 2
Belarus 2
Estonia 2
European Union 2
Guyana 2
Hungary 2
Israel 2
Paraguay 2
South Korea 2
Uruguay 2
Bosnia & Herzegovina 1
Colombia 1 (******)
Croatia 1
Cyprus 1
Egypt 1
Gibraltar 1
Honduras 1
Iraq 1
Kuwait 1 (*)
Mauritius 1
Myanmar (Burma) 1(*)
Nepal 1
Panama 1
Puerto Rico 1
Taiwan 1
Thailand 1
Vietnam 1
Zimbabwe 1

This was 70 countries all told, if we just let WordPress decide what is and isn’t a country. 18 of them were single-reader countries. In January there were 72 countries; there were 61 in December. There were 21 single-reader countries in January; 18 in December. Kuwait and Myanmar/Burma were single-reader countries last month. Colombia has been a single-reader country for seven months straight now. I’m curious to see how long that can last.

Oh, yeah, for what people like: 207 things in February, a little below the 226 liked in January. Bit above the 182 things liked in December. Beats last summer’s doldrums, although it’s not really near how much stuff got liked as Apartment 3-G collapsed. (There were around 300 likes sent this way back then.) There were 121 comments in February, down a little from January’s 148, but that’s still a towering pile of reader engagement compared to December’s 59 or, like, last May’s ten.

March started with the blog having gotten 76,999 unique visitors so some lucky person early on Thursday was the 77,000th and I didn’t even know it. There’ve been 42,522 unique visitors as of the WordPress servers’s start of March.

The Insights panel says I’m still averaging two comments per post this year, and seven likes per post. That’s the same as January. To be more precise I’m at 2.3 comments and 6.9 likes per post and I’m not sure how close that is to January’s decimal points. I’ve dropped to an average 711 words per post from January’s 764 and let me tell you I am so enjoying the time saved in thinking of fifty unneeded words per day. I’m at 43,374 total words for the year so far, although that includes yesterday’s long-form piece which did come in at over 711 words.

As traditional I’d like to remind you that I’m @Nebusj on Twitter. You can have Another Blog, Meanwhile sent to you by e-mail using the “Follow Another Blog, Meanwhile by e-mail” button at the center-right of the page. You can follow it in your WordPress reader by using the “Follow Another Blog, Meanwhile” button at the slightly-higher-center-right of the page. You can’t follow me on Vero because I don’t even know if that’s a thing. I just saw everyone on my Twitter telling me about how the company that runs it is despicable even by the standards of social media companies. I can’t keep up anymore. I’m going try to get the modern world to leave me alone and let me drink my tea.

How To Know It All


Hi. I’m a know-it-all. I’m aware this might surprise you, since most of you faintly like me. You don’t like me enough to help me move a couch into a new apartment, I mean. You like me enough that you don’t particularly want to slug me. If you do it will be from a sense of civic duty. You might feel some pride. But it’s the pride of voting in the boring elections about whether to extend the municipality’s participation in the regional 9-1-1 service agreement for two years. This is the most socially welcome a know-it-all can hope to be. I decided long ago I wanted to be able to move in both know-it-all and likable-person communities. And now I’d like to share with you, the non-know-it-all, some secrets in how to be a know-it-all.

To set out being a know-it-all might seem intimidating. Even the name suggests you ought to know a bunch of facts about a bunch of things. This common misconception keeps millions of prospective know-it-alls from fledging. There are two things you need to do to be a know-it-all. The first to spot some commonly-agreed upon fact or amusing bit of trivia. Let’s see how you do with this sample. Which of these are commonly-agreed-upon facts or amusing bits of trivia?

  1. There’s a leap year every four years.
  2. North Dakota was the 39th state admitted to the United States.
  3. Stop, drop, and roll.
  4. No spider is ever more than three light-years away from you.

The correct answer is to be already writing a comment about how no, centennial years are not generally leap years in the Gregorian scheme of things. And that’s not even starting on the we-could-make-this-legitimate dispute about whether President President P Presidentson signed North Dakota’s or South Dakota’s statehood papers first. Because what makes a know-it-all is the second thing you need to do. Explain how, if you are being precise, some true thing can be argued in the right lights to be imperfectly true, which is the same as false.

So to know-it-all, recognize statements that nobody feels any need to dispute. Then dispute them. Be polite about it: start out by saying how “You know” or “It’s a common misconception” or “To be precise”. Follow up with anything. It doesn’t have to be correct. Just plunge in with the confidence of a white guy talking on the Internet. Bludgeon your conversational opponent into submission. Eventually, they slug you, and you’ve won.

The biggest danger, besides to your face, is if there’s another know-it-all ready to jump in the conversation. You might need several layers of technical points before your opponent gives up. That’s all right. There’s only a couple topics that know-it-alls really specialize in. One of the great ones is David Rice Atchison, who often hits trivia lists as having been Acting President for one day in 1821. The incoming President wouldn’t take the Oath of Office on a Sunday, and so the office devolved upon the President Pro Tempore of the Senate. But wait, you say. Yes, the President’s term had expired, but so had the Congress’s, and so Atchison wasn’t the President Pro Tempore of anything. My counter: ah, but until 1890 the Senate customarily chose a President Pro Tempore only when the Vice-President was absent from Washington City or on the final day of a Congressional session. Thus they believed they were choosing a potential successor in case of a vacancy between sessions. Fine, you might answer, but then Atchison never swore the Oath of Office and therefore did not act as President. I retaliate: granted the Oath of Office might be necessary to exercise the powers of the presidency. But Atchison’s accession is covered by his oath as a member of Congress to uphold the laws of the nation. And those laws would include the Succession Act of 1792 then in effect.

At this point, I should explain, we are furious in our debate. There’s people trying to pull us apart. People are emerging from their houses to see what all the excitement is. People shouting about offices “devolving” upon people is pretty exciting stuff even in these troubled times.

You’ve got more nitpicking to deploy. If taking the Oath of Office isn’t necessary to merely be President then the actual President took office at noon on the 4th of March regardless of whether he was sworn in. There was no vacancy for Atchison to fill. I answer. Before the 20th Amendment there was no constitutional specification to when a non-acting President’s term of office began. Stymied? You can ask how Atchison, the President Pro Tempore of the Senate, could be an Officer of the the United States, which the Constitution specifies as the only people eligible for the succession. And then I point out David Rice Atchison was 13 years old in 1821. Not all of 1821, but in March of it anyway. The question of whether he was President for one day was about the time in 1849 that the new President didn’t want to take the Oath of Office on a Sunday. And then you slug me.

And I win.

I can’t tell you why you’d want to be a know-it-all. All I know it’s the best.

“Update” is Not a Calendar Joke but Sounds Like it Should Be


And in what is going to be my very last calendar update until the next one I would just like to say …

Triumph.

The Peanuts 2018 page-a-day calendar, sitting atop my boxes of the 2017 and 2016 calendars too.
This is not where I actually keep my calendars when they’re in service because I also rely on their bulk to keep a couple of mathematics books that I never use standing up.

So what happened is after Amazon cancelled my order on the grounds they didn’t know how to get me the calendar they ordered, I followed the link they provided to the page on Amazon for ordering calendars. And that, through I think the company that sets up those kiosks in the malls from like October through the 26th of December selling calendars, got me this inside a week. Not clear why Amazon couldn’t think of that. But then my understanding is that in the earliest days of the English East India Company, each successive voyage to India was organized as its own venture, and because of the travel times there’d be overlapping periods when one year’s ship hadn’t yet left and the next year’s ship had arrived, and they’d be rivals for trade prospects, sometimes getting so heated that rival trading crews would open fire on one another despite theoretically all working for the same company. I assume Amazon is like this still, and the “ordering calendars” division and the “delivering calendars” division are particularly fierce rivals and routinely launching raids on one another, taking hostages, and holding them for ransom, and between that and the miasma, scurvy, and the Horse Latitudes there’s nobody left who can actually do anything calendar-related.

So anyway I’m glad to have this and to have everything back in order and not have to worry about …

Calendar with Charlie Brown in school talking to Linus: 'My stomach hurts. I think I worry about too many things. The more I worry, the more my stomach hurts ... the more my stomach hurts, the more I worry ... my stomach hates me!'
If they just want the comic to be larger so it’s easier to read, why don’t they just stack the comic strip, which was always four identically-sized panels back then, in two rows of two comics each? And maybe print the stock art of the characters in the lower right corner smaller so there’s still space if someone wants to make a note?

You know, there’s no way the aspect ratio on that comic is right. I know the classic four-panel era of Peanuts and those panels look wrong. But if they cropped the panels then the word balloons wouldn’t fit. Unless they completely rejiggered the word balloons, cutting and pasting text around so that … what, they could make the panels a little bit taller but also completely wrong? But who would do that?

Same comic strip as before, but the panels aren't so tall and narrow, and Charlie Brown's balloons in the second through fourth panels are rearranged to fit in a taller, narrower space.
Charles Schulz’s Peanuts for the 27th of February, 1968, and the 27th of February was the last Tuesday of the month, so why are they printing that as the comic for the last Friday of the month in 2018? February 1968 had the same days of the week through to Leap Day; why are they changing this too? They haven’t had to avoid any Ash Wednesday or Leap Day jokes in Peanuts that year, and the only Easter joke is the one that actually ran on Easter 1968.

Hm.

This is the most baffling comics-related bit of reworking stuff since earlier this week in the Bud Sagendorf Popeye rerun.

My Excuse For The Year, Apparently


So Amazon finally remembered that I ordered a Peanuts page-a-day calendar from them a month ago. And after thinking it over plenty they decided to cancel the order on the grounds that they couldn’t find a copy to send me.

But their e-mail wasn’t a complete pit of Funky Winkerbean-esque hopeless despair. They suggested that it might just be available yet, if I wanted to try ordering it on Amazon. For example, they figure there’s calendars on hand here:

The Peanuts 2018 Day-to-Day Calendar that Amazon couldn't get me because of the lack of availability. It lists 14 new from $7.65, and lists them as In Stock.
Yes, yes, I could get a wall calendar that shows the whole month at a time. But I had a moment of doubt about how they work and now I don’t dare approach them again. I mean, “I don’t remember what day it is. What if someone showed me a list of 31 days it could possibly be? Oh yes, now I’ve got it!” What’s going on there? Also, why isn’t this an app/e-Book you can just download and look at on the computer?

At this point I’m torn between actually trying to order a calendar or just taking 2007 out of storage and working with that again. But, you know, Amazon’s got this list of sellers on Amazon that they figure I can negotiate with that they can’t, what with their just being Amazon or whatever their issue is. I don’t know.

Still no idea what those used calendars were used for.

Two Quick Updates


So, first, no, I still haven’t seen hint of my Peanuts calendar and I haven’t heard anything from Amazon and I’m starting to think this whole “calendar” thing is a hoax anyway. Just saying.

Also, regarding Kieran Meehan’s syndicated comic strip Pros and Cons from this Tuesday: uhm. Kieran Meehan’s Pros and Cons is definitely a syndicated comic strip that exists and is not something that I make up in one of my bouts of challenging my friends to figure whether a comic strip is real or just something I’ve made up. It was originally titled A Lawyer, a Doctor, and a Cop and that should clear up any questions about it except for question about it:

Judge: 'The jury shall retire to consider its verdict.' Foreman: 'I've already considered MY verdict, your honor. If it's all the same to you, I'll be watching the Mets game in the nearest sports bar while the rest of the jury makes up its mind.'
Kieran Meehan’s Pros and Cons for the 6th of February, 2018. Yes, the computer typeface for the word balloons might be distracting you. But don’t let that distract you from trying to figure out the perspective and lineup of people in the jury box in the last panel there.

Yeah, I don’t know whether the comic is in reruns or if it’s just that comic strip writers sometimes get really weird, vague ideas about when the heck their strips are going to run, especially if they’ve got a couple months ahead of deadline.

Interestingly, I Need Help


I was in the university library because I don’t really make sense anywhere else. Not to brag but in my life I’ve been in over twenty places, and really, “university library” is the one I look the least awkward and weird in. I don’t mind. At least it’s somewhere.

But I was there because I’d wanted to read this history of word processors. Not a recent book, mind you. The book was written sometime in the mid-80s. That’s a lot of word-processor history ago, I admit. Back then word processors were primitive affairs, often programs we got by typing them in from magazines that cost $2.95 at the grocery store and there’s nothing about that I’m making up. Many of them were coal-powered and they were able to store up to one macro, which would be “add a line break after each paragraph, except that makes your document more than 4 kilobytes big, so the computer runs out of memory”. Still, I’d want to know more about how we got to that point.

And that’s when I discovered the horror: the library was reorganizing its shelves. Like, all of them, best I can figure. Everything. And I thought: no! That shelf where I ran across that book about pasta technologies holds nothing now! How will I ever find that book again? I haven’t wanted to find it again since I first read it but still, I knew where it was. I was lost.

This made me realize something. I own multiple books about the history of containerized cargo. I own a book that’s entirely about nutmeg, a spice I could not positively affirm under oath that I had ever had. Seriously, if I tried it would go something like this, taken from my court appearance for failure-to-yield in this minor traffic accident I had at the awful traffic circle where Route 206 crosses White Horse Avenue in Trenton, New Jersey:

ATTORNEY: And have you, knowingly, ever consumed a thing with nutmeg on or in it?

ME: I … think? Maybe? Don’t they use it for pumpkin pies? I’ve eaten that.

ATTORNEY: Maybe? Didn’t you knowingly and deliberately sprinkle some onto the free coffee you got at the farmer’s market so you could see what it was like?

ME: Oh, yes, I guess. It tasted … like every spice ever?

I don’t know what the attorney hoped to prove. In any case they forgave the failure-to-yield and only gave me a citation for listening to an audiobook about the history of the concept of corporations. And that feeds back to my point. I want to say I’m curious about all aspects of the human experience, and that I’m open to how much thought and history goes in to even the small, insignificant things. And then the attorney asks, “Don’t you own multiple books about the history of calendars each written by someone with the name “Duncan”?” Yes. Yes I do. And I already knew all the good stuff in the various Duncans’ books from having read many books about the calendar when I was a kid.

Clearly, I need help. I need some kind of guide to what things are in fact interesting and what things are not. This might take the form of some kind of specially-trained support dog. Someone who will notice how I’m looking over a history of subway tokens (by Brian J Cudahy, author of one of those containerized-cargo books) and leap onto me, shoving me to the ground and maybe rolling me over to something of more general interest. Like a history of an Apollo mission. No, not that Apollo mission. A famous one, like Apollo 11 or 13. Good grief. Fine, maybe 8. No not 12 why are you looking at 12? Who notices Apollo missions that didn’t have James Lovell involved?

They didn’t have the word-processing book. So, hey, someone else found it interesting or they lost it in 1992 and nobody’s asked about it yet. Left to my own devices, I got to Harvey C Mansfield’s 1947 A Short History of the Office of Price Administration, because apparently I need to know something about the theory and practice of World War II price-control administration that I couldn’t just pick up from listening to Lum and Abner episodes that had a public-service mission. Ah, but consider this: it includes this July 1947 quote from Bernard Baruch, architect of what price controls the United States government attempted in World War I and a leading advocate for strategic planning of economic needs given the national emergency:

Also, as a result of piecemeal price control, we are now faced with inflation which, next to human slaughter, maiming and destruction, is the worst consequence of war.

This serves as a valuable reminder that one does not get to be an extraordinarily wealthy individual and public intellectual advising presidents across many decades without completely losing one’s ability to realize one has just composed the daftest sentence in all of 1947, a year when the administration of Germany was divided into The Soviet Sector, the Brassiere, and Bizonia. Yes, yes, plus the Protectorate of the Saar. Don’t nitpick me. I do my reading.

The Apollo 12 astronauts considered giving their Command Module the name Abner, so that their call signs would be Lem and Abner, but this was stopped when, I trust, a NASA Public Affairs Officer came down and slugged Lunar Module pilot Alan Bean. I can show you the book that’s from.

In Which I Discover A Way To Make A Modest But Respectable Sum Of Money


Something I always get in December is the Peanuts page-a-day calendar. It’s an important piece of organizing my life. How can I confirm to myself all afternoon that I’ve completed the tasks I must do every day or else die or break a streak except by tearing off that day’s colorized reprint of a joke from 1966 that I memorized by the time I was seven? But somehow, through the machinations of fate and whatnot, I forgot to get one this December. And nobody was able to find one for me for Christmas. And the bookstore in town didn’t have any, either. So I had to resort to the thing that still feels weird and alien and exotic and maybe a little too much fuss for me, and buy the thing online.

So here’s what I faced looking at the Peanuts 2018 page-a-day calendar on Amazon. And by the way I trimmed out of this the estimated delivery date, which was that it usually strips “in one to two months”. That is transparent nonsense. What could take two months to get a calendar? I know the production rates of the vast calendar mines of Ecuador and I know how much containerized cargo is shipped from Guayaquil to Los Angeles daily. Even with the traffic difficulties caused by Panama Canal expansion. (The shipping goes through Rotterdam for efficiency’s sake.) The numbers don’t lie. Two months is just a fib. Anyway, don’t worry, the nonsense runs deeper.

Peanuts 2018 Day-to-Day Calendar, by Peanuts Worldwide LLC. 14 new from $7.49. 2 used from $39.59.
They include a full-color comic strip, but of the Monday-to-Saturday strips, which originally ran in black and white. The Sunday strips, which were originally run in color, aren’t included in any way at all.

Somehow — and I put this order in, like, the 3rd of January — someone is selling a used calendar for 2018 for $39.59. In fairness, they don’t say what it’s used for. If it’s used, for example, to scribble down the clues leading to the lost Schulz Treasure, then $39.59 seems pretty reasonable. (The Treasure is what’s left of this stock of ink pens that Schulz really liked, and that he bought the company’s entire stock of when they were discontinuing the model. This may not sound like a lot of treasure, but understand, if you have an art supply you can go up to any artist who draws — including writers or musicians who just doodle while avoiding writing or musicking — demand as much money as they have, and they’ll give it to you. They’ll sulk while they do it, yes, but don’t we all?) But what if it’s not? What if it was used for something more mundane, like, the thing wasn’t even taken out of its box and it was just used to keep a taller calendar from sliding down before someone could thumbtack it onto the wall?

Because if it turns out you can turn a ten-dollar calendar into a forty-dollar calendar just by using it then my entire financial situation has changed. And I’m going to have to have stern words with the version of myself that was asking serious questions about what I needed versus what I would merely like back in 2002 when I was getting out of grad school and preparing to move to Singapore. Because there’s, like, a dozen years of used official Star Trek Starships Of The Line calendars that I just tossed into the bin because they finally seemed to have no value. And don’t doubt that they were used. Every one of them had a little channel individually cut by thumbtack through the paper above the punched-out hole for hanging the things. Many of them also have little strips of manually-added scotch tape attempting to keep December from completely falling off the wall and onto the bare mattress sitting on the bedroom floor. You don’t get much more used than that.

I can’t promise to make every calendar so well used, of course. But I’m sure I could buy some calendars and give them some use. Maybe try to fold out the plastic leg on the back of them that’s supposed to make the calendar stand on its own and doesn’t. Maybe take a date and scribble an illegible note about an appointment nobody can quite make out. What is important to do at 4:45 on Tuesday with Nurl? I don’t know. But every appointment I ever write down is at 4:45 on Tuesday with Nurl. Do you want to miss it? Maybe write out for one of the activity puzzles at least four words you can make from the letters of “resolution”.

Lucy: 'I knew I was right! I knew it! There was a day just like today back in 1935! This isn't a new year at all ... this is a USED year! I'm going to write a strong letter of protest.' Linus: 'Who's in charge of years?'
Or maybe they’re just seeing who remembers the Peanuts from the 11th of January, 1966. Tough to say. It is the sort of needlessly obscure prank I’d play though.

I’m not saying this is going to make my fortune. There’s the up-front cost of ten or fifteen bucks per calendar. But at a per-calendar profit of $25 per this is at least as good an hourly rate as anything else I’m doing. Back in the day, my father made a modest but reliable profit buying, fixing, and selling houses. I’m not competent to do that, but why couldn’t I flip a couple days? It’s only fair.

Statistics Saturday: Progress Report, 2018


So at least we have this going for us.

Sunday, 0. Monday-Saturday, 1 each.
This is the only day you can post this! And have it be true! Until 2024 anyway. And I knew it was going to be 2024 without doing the actual calculations or checking future calendars because I can’t help it. Calendars get to me that way. Send help.

Source: The Geometry of Physics: An Introduction, 3rd edition. Theodore Frankel.

Also, Twitter is plainly lying to me about this.

Trends for you, taken 6 January 2018. Happy New Year, #Illini, Isaiah Livers, #stablegenius.
There is so much I don’t believe anyone was talking about the afternoon of the 6th of January, and right at the top of my list: LLLini? Really?

Year In Review: Some Mostly Happy Things To See Out 2017


  • Happy Roo Year. A chance for everyone to have quite longer feet, a strong tail, and maybe a pouch.
  • Happy Two Year. Running 2018 simultaneously in two instances, with minor variations in some of the model assumptions, in the hopes that combining the results will allow for a more reliable prediction.
  • Happy Goo Year. In which everyone is a sort of gelatinous mass that nevertheless retains a strong sense of personal identity.
  • Happy New Gear. We all finally put it in second.
  • Happy Rude Year. Allowing the masses to take the opportunity to call for a gentler, more polite society.
  • Hippo New Year. Okay, so when they recorded “I Want A Hippopotamus For Christmas” some Oklahoma City-area promoter got the idea to use the popular novelty song as a chance to fundraise for buying singer Gayla Peevey an actual hippopotamus for Christmas which she, not being daft, donated to the Oklahoma City Zoo where it lived for nearly a half-century.
  • Happy New Tier. We take the year up a notch!
  • Happy Ewe Year. In which we finally stop looking down on the sheeple!
  • Happy Two Year. Running 2018 simultaneously in two instances, with minor variations in some of the model assumptions, in order to reflect how this is an even-numbered year after all.
  • Happy Yew Near. Celebrating the proximity of us to various coniferous trees and shrubs.

On This Date: November 24, If You Will


2019. Highly disappointing opening of the canal between the fifth and the second floors of the West Mall in Bukit Batok, Singapore, with critics saying the whole system seems to be “just a slightly large elevator” and “not really better than riding a couple escalators would be”. The complaints are harsh but fair because riding escalators is a really grand thing. If there were some way to fix the problems of having to step onto or off of them then we’d really have something.

2020. The Internet has one of those weird spasms where everybody gets hung up on how the Dreamland amusement park in Margate, Kent, England, was renamed “Benbom Brothers Theme Park” in the 1980s just because that sounds like the name you’d create if you were in the 90s and doing a bad translation of a Japanese RPG. Within 14 hours, it passes, leaving no harm done.

2026. The “Inbox Zero” e-mail productivity fad gives way to the “Inbox Infinity” model as this turns out to be a great deal easier for everyone and their nerves needed it by this point.

2064. Last specific reprinting of Art Buchwald’s column about introducing Thanksgiving to the French, which is a shame since that bit about translating Miles Standish’s name as “Kilometres Deboutish”? That’s solid enough.

2065. Mutual occultation of Venus and Jupiter happens, two days late, following last-minute negotiations when the planets can’t agree about whether it should be the occultation of Venus by Jupiter or of Jupiter by Venus, and a furious debate on the Wikipedia talk page about “Crayons”, where the debate somehow settled in a process people were still trying to explain to their great-grandchildren.

2085. We fix the problem of having to step onto or off of escalators with the invention of shoes that can’t get caught in the teeth of those things but keep you pretty stable when you’re stepping into the belt.

2121. Bigfoot’s job hunt lands him a career as the mascot for the Jersey Devils. He lasts nearly eight years at the post before going on to greater fame as the official public greeter for Baltimore, Maryland (starting the 26th of July, 2129) and sees the Devils to two World Series appearances when their bus gets lost.

2200. The Universal Postal Union agrees that next year shall be 2200: The Gold Edition”, although it will be labelled as “2201” for the sake of not breaking anyone’s database software.

2243. 186th anniversary of the 24th of November, 2057, passes without turmoil but with many people asking “Huh?” and “Why?” and “This is a thing because of why?”

2371. Deep in a star system nearly 75,000 light-years from Earth the locals begin producing a program known as Star Trek: Voyager. It’s purely coincidence, though, as the vastness of the universe and the enormity of the number of peopled worlds and the relatively small number of sounds that are likely to be made into words cause a program that happens to have that name without actually being a remake or continuation of the United Paramount Network classic program. It is in fact a shot-for-shot remake of Star Trek: The Original Series except in this one Lieutenant Uhura gets along great with Elaan, the Dohlman of Elas, and critics say this one little change drastically improves the whole body of work.

2618. After years, maybe a decade, of cruel taunting about what work it does exactly that ‘S’ and ‘K’ don’t do just as well the letter ‘C’ declares it’s had enough and leaves the alphabet. While people are able to carry on mostly fine, what with having both ‘S’ and ‘K’ there, it does leave words such as “church” pretty well stuck. The letter ‘J’ steps up to remind everyone that it could totally do the hard ‘ch’ sound, and is told to sit down because it’s done “so much already” and is really appreciated “right where it is” by letters that are rolling their eyes.

4211. No end of discussion about the way the dates of the year line up, if you’re in the United States, and a lot of arguing that the United States way of listing the dates is just stupid and dumb and wrong. By the time it’s over very few people are still talking to each other. It’s a good way to figure out who you need to stop interacting with, though. Consider it.

Statistics Saturday: Least-Likely Dates For (US) Thanksgiving


  1. November 17th
  2. November 31st
  3. Kevin’s Birthday (Kevin was born in February)
  4. November 9th
  5. Maundy Thursday
  6. The Feast of St Ailbe
  7. The New Jersey Big Sea Day (second Saturday in August, Manasquan, New Jersey)
  8. November 0x2AAth
  9. Black Friday
  10. Other Kevin’s Birthday (Other Kevin was born in December)
  11. It’s not tomorrow is it? We can’t go to the farmer’s market today, it’s going to be madness!
  12. September 4, 476 AD

On This Date: November 17, If You Like


765. Date of the historical incident believed to have inspired, in distorted form, the fable of Jack the Giant-Killer, when seven flies were indeed killed in one blow by a giant rampaging through a middle-Uressexshire hamlet. Less famously the incident is also credited with creating the village of Flattstone-Under-Stompenhedge. It’s a little baffling how the story ended up like we know it today. Most historians of legend suspect “political satire around the time of the Commonwealth or Restoration”. But we’ll admit that’s their answer to everything.

797. Kanmu, Emperor of Japan, changes his residence from Nara to Kyoto but the student loan people find him anyway.

1602. Birth of Agnes of Jesus, who’d go on to become a nun in what seems like typecasting but there you go. Sometimes you just know what your course is in life.

1777. The Colonial Congress sends the Articles of Confederation to the British Parliament for ratification in a deliberately-arranged “accident” that both sides fail to use as a chance to apologize and try to come to some reasonable settlement of the whole matter. It ends up making everybody feel eight percent more awkward.

1810. Sweden declares war on the United Kingdom in order to start the Anglo-Swedish War, since it seems like a shame to have such a snappy name for a war and nobody declaring it or anything. The war ends two years later when they notice everyone’s been so happy with the stylish name and the idea of Sweden and the United Kingdom being at war that nobody ever bothered to fight the other side, and that isn’t even my joke.

1858. Day zero of the Modified Julian Day scheme so that’s why your friend who does all this database stuff with dates is staring wistfully out the window and wondering why we have to have a February even today. We do not; we have a February in-between January and March.

1869. The Suez Canal successfully links the Mediterranean Sea with the Red Sea. Backers fail to reach their stretch goal of connecting the Mediterranean with either the Pacific Ocean, the Baltic Sea at Brunsbüttel, or Albany, New York. But they’re happy with what they did achieve and give out some commemorative coasters.

1933. The United States recognizes the Soviet Union.

1935. The United States recognizes the Soviet Union a second time when Guatemala explains how the two of them used to stand at the window outside the League of Nations building in Geneva staring inside and sometimes putting pickles from the burger stand down the way onto the window to see if they’d freeze in place there.

1946. Last use of a Murphy bed except in a black-and-white sitcom.

1952. Soap magnate Dr Emanual Theodore Bronner, serving his jury duty obligation for the civil court, is asked whether he is familiar with the law regarding trees and shrubs which overhang the property line. Both sides’ attorneys excuse him 36 seconds later. He finishes the first of many extremely considered sentences about the matter in December, and his whole thought about fallen branches by 1954 (estimated).

1961. The United States recognizes the Soviet Union again, but pretends to stumble and have to fiddle with its shoelaces a couple minutes while they pass on the sidewalk.

1973. One of the most successful weight-loss plans of the 70s gets started when Eater’s Digest publishes this compelling bit of reasoning. The reasoning: you can burn off more calories simply by going about your business while wearing weights. But what is fat except excess weight? And, better, weight that you can’t take off even if you want? Therefore simply by walking or standing or breathing or sleeping on your chest you’re burning off excess calories, thereby causing yourself to lose weight on the whole deal. And therefore being fatter is the quickest way to being thinner and, therefore, being overweight doesn’t exist and within two years everybody is.

2015. ‘Bob and Bert’ create the only podcast advertisement ever recorded that makes listening to the podcast sound appealing or desirable or even something other than just a bit of sadness. After the successful advertisement their Wheeler-and-Woolseycast releases one more episode, then misses four months for an unannounced hiatus, returns with a 15 minutes apology and explanation that it’ll be two months before they get back to their twice-a-month-schedule, and then never be heard from again.

Statistics Saturday: What The Days This Week Have Felt Like


Day Felt Like
Sunday Sunday
Monday Monday
Tuesday Weeping
Wednesday Thursday
Thursday Friday
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

Another Blog, Meanwhile Index

The index rose another sixteen points as investors decided that the week has just gone that well, what with having the gridiron thing explained and how the water bill turned out to be just exactly what everyone figured so they don’t have to worry about it being too high or suspiciously low.

291

In Which I Apologize For Messing Up All of Time


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.

Another Blog, Meanwhile Index

So one of the traders asked why football fields don’t draw the cross lines, the way they used to in really, really old photographs, back when you could understand why they called it a “gridiron”. And I said it because of wartime paint rationing the cross lines were dropped, and everyone liked that so well they stuck with it even when peace returned and anybody could get as much white paint as they wanted. And that’s satisfied everybody so much that the index rose thirteen points and the trading floor is in a great mood. And now I’m worried about, like, what if I was right and that’s why they don’t draw the grid lines in anymore?

275

Statistics Saturday: The Ides Of April, This Century


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.

Another Blog, Meanwhile Index

The index rose another point while wait, that thing in the Chocolate Swamp is named Gloppy? Also there’s a Chocolate Swamp in Candy-Land? We thought it was the Molasses Swamp? Or are there multiple swamps? Did it change? What is this? What are things? What is changing? Why?

135

Statistics Saturday: February 2017 In Review


1: 11. 2: 10. 3: 1. 4: 1. 5: 1. 6: 1. 7: 1. 8: 1. 9: 1.
You don’t want to know how many times I counted this over in my head while working this out in the shower. OK, it’s a number starting with ‘3’.

Source: Time’s Pendulum: The Quest to Capture Time — From Sundials to Atomic Clocks, Jo Ellen Barnett.

1: 3. 2: 3. 3: 3. 4: 3. 5: 3. 6: 3. 7: 3. 8: 3. 9: 2. 0: 2.
You don’t want to know how many times I counted this over in my head while working this out in the shower. OK, it’s a number ending with ‘3’. Don’t think I didn’t keep going back and forth about whether to put ‘0’ at the start or the end.

Source: Advertising and the Transformation of American Society, 1865 – 1920, James D Norris.

Sunday: 4. Monday: 4. Tuesday: 4. Wednesday: 4. Thursday: 4. Friday: 4. Saturday: 4.
You don’t want to know how many times I counted this over in my head while working this out in the shower. OK, it was ‘1’. But I’m still thinking whether I should have redone this to put a border around the plot like I did above and don’t think that isn’t going to bother you from here on in.

Source: Labor and Capital In 19th Century Baseball, Robert P Gelzheiser.

Another Blog, Meanwhile Index

Two more points up and we’re still attributing this to the new pens even though we lost one somehow between setting it down on the table and then getting out a pad of paper and sitting at the table and how does that even make sense? Well, still. New pens. And we have them.

107

Statistics Saturday: Friday the 13ths, 2017


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.

For 2017: January 1, February 0, March 0, April 0, May 0, June 0, July 0, August 0, September 0, October 1, November 0, December 0.
You suppose we’ll ever get a month that’s nothing but Fridays the 13th? It seems like there’s a lot of room for expansion there. I mean other than November 2016.

Another Blog, Meanwhile Index

The index dropped a point today and everyone is hailing it as proof that a sensible diet and regular exercise work.

95

How My Week Is Starting


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?

Another Blog, Meanwhile Index

The Another Blog, Meanwhile index dropped … no, wait it didn’t. I’m sorry. The index rose … oh, no, wait, it didn’t do that either. Well, it did a little of both, but it did just as much of both, so it ended up where it began, is what I’m saying. I think? Maybe everybody took off to commemorate Dr Martin Luther King, Jr. They should have. But they should’ve said something about that, too. Nobody tells me enough anymore. It’s all mysterious, that’s what I’m saying.

98