Friday, March 30, 2012

I Am What I Am


A couple days ago a member of my Writers group submitted a 100 word story he'd written, and the title of the story was Homs. Making a fool of myself (as I often do) by not thinking before acting, I admitted that I did not know what Homs was and I asked him to tell me. He did, by saying something like "Homs is the city in Syria that President Assad is tearing to pieces trying to kill the people there was are protesting against him."

Figuratively, I slapped myself up side of the head. Of course I had heard the name on many TV News broadcasts and seen the name on maps of Syria time after time. But the town's name did not make enough of an impression for my memory to retain it. That probably says a lot (to the discerning reader) about the state of my aging brain's lack of power to remember facts. Or how little I have come to care about world affairs, about the fates of people of far off foreign nations.

Not a flattering picture of my self.

But, for good or for bad, like Popeye, "I yam what I yam."

_____, a website I visit every single day, received the following question: "I'm in the editing phase of a book and notice that the copy editor has added a comma before many (perhaps most) occurrences of the word "because." This seems to halt the flow of the sentences, but I wonder if a rule exists that I'm not aware of."

You can read the answer HERE.


Bluegrass musician Earl Scruggs died Wednesday, March 28, 2012. He was 88 years old.

Earl Scruggs

With fellow Monroe sideman Flatt, he formed Flatt and Scruggs and the Foggy Mountain Boys in 1948. Their recordings of the theme to the television sitcom "The Beverly Hillbillies" and the instrumental "Foggy Mountain Breakdown: (1950) -- heard during the car chases in the 1967 film "Bonnie and Clyde" -- brought bluegrass its greatest recognition.

Read about Earl Scruggs HERE.

Listen to Flatt and Scruggs play The Ballad Of Jed Clampett

Lester Flatt and Earl Scruggs - Foggy Mountain Breakdown


The progressive weakening of my memory (mentioned above) weighs heavily on my mind. There are certain words that I have looked up many times because they will not stick in my conscious mind. Direct recall is impossible no matter how hard I try. One of these words is dystopia. I search out and find its definition (a society characterized by human misery, as squalor, oppression, disease, and overcrowding) whenever I see the wretched word in print before my eyes, but then the next time I encounter it on the page, its meaning is gone, and I have to look it up again.

I suppose I could devise some kind of trick to remember that word's definition. Tricks, in strengthening memory, are surprisingly effective.

Many years ago I (being a Science Fiction Fan) was embarrassed because I seemed unable to memorize the names and positions relative to the sun of the nine planets of our solar system. (There were 9 planets back then.) I read that the trick to remembering lists is to use mnemonics, to make up a nonsense verse with the first letter of each of the verse's word echoing the first letter of each word to be remembered on the list. And supposedly the sillier the verse the better. And you must use the first verse you create. So I gave it a try.

The verse I came up with is: Mickey Very Early Married Jupiter Since You Needed Pluto -- Get it? Mercury, Venus, Earth, Mars, Jupiter, Saturn, Uranus, Neptune, Pluto.

It seemed like a ridiculously stupid verse. But, it worked. I have never forgotten that verse, not the corresponding planet names and location relative to the sun throughout the years of my life.

So far.


George Will in his Washington Post column speaks out about how big government and big business conspire to keep the average man, the little guy, from advancing their income and their social status by clandestine conspiracies.

You can read George's column HERE.


Word For Today

Luddite [luhd-ahyt]
A member of any of various bands of workers in England organized to destroy manufacturing machinery, under the belief that its use diminished employment.

In modern usage, "Luddite" is a term describing those opposed to industrialization, automation, computerization or new technologies in general.

More . . .


About midway along the first mile of my daily walk I spied a wounded critter lying on the street beneath the McGuire Middle School's overhead pedestrian highway crossing and snapped a couple of quick shots of it.

A young rattlesnake

Earlier, on the local TV Tucson morning news, the local anchorperson had warned that many such creatures were being spotted, having left their winter dens earlier than usual this year.



Born March 30, 1937


"Children are still the way you were as a child, sad and happy in just the same way--and if you think of your childhood, you once again live among them, among the solitary children."
--Rainer Maria Rilke, (Letters to a Young Poet)

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