Friday, February 28, 2014

What is a Net?

It’s a series of reticulated interstices.

Of course it is!

[This, my favorite and winner of the 1938 Most Overly Complicated Dictionary Definition, taken from a recently-read math book, which shall remain thankfully anonymous.]

So, kids, remember – “we live in a fathomless sea of plastic mind substance,” so, drop your reticulated interstices in and catch yourself a world-shattering idea!


by Poe, 1847

The skies they were ashen and sober;
The leaves they were crispéd and sere—
The leaves they were withering and sere;
It was night in the lonesome October
Of my most immemorial year;
It was hard by the dim lake of Auber,
In the misty mid region of Weir—
It was down by the dank tarn of Auber,
In the ghoul-haunted woodland of Weir.

Here once, through an alley Titanic,
Of cypress, I roamed with my Soul—
Of cypress, with Psyche, my Soul.
These were days when my heart was volcanic
As the scoriac rivers that roll—
As the lavas that restlessly roll
Their sulphurous currents down Yaanek
In the ultimate climes of the pole—
That groan as they roll down Mount Yaanek
In the realms of the boreal pole.

(just the first two of ten stanzas)


Man, I wish I could write poetry. If I could, this is what I’d aim for, suspended over the Lovecraftian abyss at the low-point of the catenary footbridge as I am, swaying above and within the darkness. Reading Poe’s words I find myself a child again, dreaming (or not?) of white clouds swaddling an alien moon, crisp dark leaves at my feet as I stumble uncertainly though strangled wooded paths. And – of course, ever of course – that leaden thesaurus tucked under my arms, weilded like a crucifix to ward off the evil that lurked just beyond my sights at the edges of the periphery ...

Thursday, February 27, 2014

Future Reads

I have five stories left in my Lovecraft omnibus (about a hundred twenty pages), plus “The Dream-Quest of Unknown Kadath” in another anthology, plus a paperback of August Derleth stories continuing the Cthulhu Mythos – this is my “Lovecraft phase.” I expect to finish up around the first week of April.

Around the start of summer I’d like to read two thick books on the Civil War and two thick books on WW2 (timing to read one of the WW2s on vacation at my in-laws, since they bought it for me for my birthday last year).

So the existential, absurd, and nauseous question that confronts me, as ever it always does, is –

What to read next?

That is, what shall I occupy myself with in the eleven or so weeks between, say, April 7 and June 21?

My only certainty is to zip through a pair of Asimovs. A palate-cleansing is the phrase that immediately comes to mind, a phrase I like. Asimov is good for that I’ve discovered. So on the shelves behind me I have his short story collection Nine Tomorrows, a mainstay rave favorite from my earliest youth that I have not re-opened in decades. Right next to it is The Robots of Dawn, something I picked up after reading the surprisingly enjoyable Prelude to Foundation two years back.

But what after that?

The Asimov duo should take me two pleasant weeks to peruse. That leaves me with two whole months of fiction I need to fill.

A possibility is a book-on-CD read-along, which caused my inner nerd to hulk out on several occassions over the past few years. It did with The Lord of the Rings, Atlas Shrugged, The Killer Angels, and Great Expectations, and I pretty much enjoyed each experience. The book I’m thinking about doing it with would be Richard Adams’s classic Watership Down, another mainstay from my youngest days. But there’s only one CD set for it housed in the entire conglomeration of libraries in my county, and when I tried to do this last summer, it always seemed to be checked out.

I could decide on a biography – I have a bunch sitting lonesome on the shelves, one for Vincent Van Gogh, another for Albert Einstein, one on Poe and another on Hemingway. Hmmm. Not sure. I have some historical fiction (Exodus) and some classic political thrillers (Seven Days in May, Clancy’s Red Storm Rising). Have Mary Stewart’s Crystal Cave and Hollow Hills, Arthurian tales from my Freshman high school year in need of a re-read. Plus about thirty other books, ones I’ve never read before. Re-reading The Passion of the Christ for Lent appeals to the monk in me. As does something completely far-out and out-of-character, such as re-reading some of my old books on Zen Buddhism.

I dunno. As usual, these things get resolved last minute when the spine of a book buried beneath the debris that surrounds my writing desk catches my eye and forecefully calls out, “Hopper! Hopper! Read me! Now!”


Say I was a megalomaniacal supergenius, and I was looking for an IT guy to keep my laptop up and running as I plotting global domination, one of the first questions I’d ask as we sat down to daquiris and fried fish sandwiches would be –

If ACA, AOK, ERA, FTL, MPG, and SOP are some of the multitude of members of the set labeled TLA, what do you think TLA stands for?

No googling, now!

Wednesday, February 26, 2014

Directing Lovecraft

Finished “At the Mountains of Madness,” the longest story in my Lovecraft anthology, a few days ago. As I revisited the tale (my second reading in five years), I started to visualize it as I might see it on the big screen. A question kept nagging me: who would direct it? What Hollywood director could best lend his style to this story? (Which I reviewed somewhat in length, here.)

Turns out I kept circling about two names and couldn’t decided on either one. So it had to be some abominable admixture of the two. I chose Terry Gilliam (Time Bandits, Brazil, The Adventures of Baron Munchausen) for his weird, slightly-skewed, artificial-ish look at the world, and Ridley Scott for, well, the literal sliminess he brings to his movie monsters and his mastery of onscreen tension.

Then I read that “Mountains” has been in development hell for the past couple of years, with director Guillermo del Toro (Pan’s Labyrinth) the name most associated with it. In fact, if I recall correctly, the studio passed on del Toro’s Lovecraft proposal because

1) there’s no love story (H.P. doesn’t do female characters),

2) del Toro wanted a hard R rating and the studio wanted PG-13, and

3) the studio was more interested – alas! – in making Scott’s Prometheus.

Very interesting for a film buff like me. Hopefully del Toro will get “Mountains” made, with its incredible visuals and big ideas, made in the next few years, even if as a labor of love.

Tuesday, February 25, 2014

Great Wolf

We took our little ones to Great Wolf Lodge this past weekend, a Christmas present to us from my parents. It was our first non-visiting-a-relative vacation as a family since, oh, I guess that Paris trip two years ago, but that one was sans children. So it was our first non-visiting-a-relative vacation ever. Even if it was only for two days and a night.

You know what? I liked it.

Yeah, my body is aching and my brain is desperately jonesing for 72-96 hours of complete sensory deprivation. Great Wolf is basically an indoor water park, but an indoor water park with arcades, pizzerias, ice cream parlors, gift shops, spas, flourescent bowling alleys, Harry Potter-esque human-sized interactive attractions, and probably a half-dozen other things we didn’t see in the whirlwind 28 hours we were there.

My back is killing me from hefting my little ones about, my calves are on fire from climbing dozens of water slide stairs, my neck is achy from an unfamiliar bed, my hands are all dried out from chlorine, and I’m about ten pounds heavier thanks to beer and pizza. Despite that, though, I enjoyed myself. And the wife enjoyed herself and the little ones were absolutely ecstatic with unbridled joy and excitement. A great way to combat the polar vortex sub-Arctic February blues.

We hit all the pools, all the water slides, all the tubing and rafting tunnels. The wife and I drank cool Sam Adamses overlooking our girls in the wave pool, the big hit for five-year-old Patch. I pseudo-white-water-rafted with my nine-year-old, Little One. We got drenched from random falling buckets of water. We did all this for four hours Sunday and four hours yesterday, and those eight hours literally swam by with the speed of a mid-Pacific tsunami.

Patch was wiped out. After a long hot shower with mom and her sister, she flopped onto the bed and into a comatose sleep. Pizza barely roused her, and only for a few bites. I stayed in the room with her while the wife took Little One to “story time” in the main lodge, where, along with a hundred other pre-tweens, they listened to a bedtime story which basically hopped them all up into overdrive. Still, when the two of them returned at 8:30, both hit the bed and were out in minutes, leaving me all by my lonesome.

I read my math book and drank a beer. My version, nowadays, of a party.

Anyway, here are some photos of the girls documenting our first family vacation, half-a-decade late (at least). Next year: Disney! (Note: need to bring more books and smuggle in more beer ...)

Saturday, February 22, 2014

Number Lines and Hypercubes

So I am almost finished reading this very interesting book Mathematical Mysteries by Calvin Clawson, and it’s bringing back all the weird math-y stuff I’ve read about over the years and even formally learned a bit of way back in my college days. Primes, e, logarithms, pi, Euler’s Identity, Riemann’s Hypothesis, etc. But one image got me really thinking.

It starts with his explanation of imaginary numbers (the square root of 1, denoted as i). Imagine the real number line (like the kind on your first grade desk, that runs from left to right, zero in the center, positive integers to the right and negative integers to the left). The real numbers are represented by a line.

Now imagine another line, this time perpendicular to the real number line. It’s vertical, so to speak. It represents imaginary numbers, units of i. You sort of now have a two-dimensional graph. All numbers on this graph, this plane, are denoted by two numbers. The first is the real number (where it lies left or right) and the second component is the imaginary part (where it lies above or below the real number line).

If you’ve followed me so far, here is what I started thinking. You got the real number line, a line, going left to right. Then, the imaginary line intersects it, perpendicular to it, going up and down, forming a plane. What type of number would be perpendicular to both, i.e., would form a cube? And what types of numbers would be perpendicular to that, forming a hypercube, a fourth-spatial-dimensional object?

I know I’m not the first person to wonder these thoughts. What I really need to know is, who was, and what was the results of his questioning?


Friday, February 21, 2014

Vote No

I gotta get me a sign like this and plant it on my lawn from, oh, say, November 1 to the first Wednesday of that month.

Ironically, or perhaps not-so-ironically, for the past several years I’ve abided by a “Vote No” rule on all the Public Questions that have confronted me in the voting booth. Most of the time they’re written in indecipherable legalese, and all of the time their real intent is hidden. But it boils down to money or power: some group wants more power, paid with our tax dollars. So I just “vote no,” and have been since around 2008 or so.

Thursday, February 20, 2014


“God is a mathematician of a very high order and He used advanced mathematics in constructing the universe.”

– Paul Dirac (1902-1984), formulator of the Dirac Equation (which turned Schrodinger’s quantum mechanical wave equation relatistic), predictor of antimatter (positrons), winner of the 1933 Nobel Prize, holder the Lucasian Chair of Mathematics at Cambridge (once held by Isaac Newton and, later, Stephen Hawking).

He was also painfully shy. A “dirac” is a unit defined as “one word per hour.”

Another metaphor I find quite pleasing is the image of mountain peaks rising disjointedly above the cloud line. Each mountain peak represents a mathematical concept: pi, trigonometric identities, prime numbers, infinitesimals of calculus, non-Euclidean geometry, logarithms, you name it. They are all there, and can be observed and studied from our vantage point. But what cannot be ascertained fully are their connections to each other, the underlying groundwork or structure, that, in this image, is obscured by dense (and sometimes not-so-dense) clouds.

I like that.

I believe both ideas here. They’re kinda like the same thing expressed in different ways.


The millions are awake awake enough for physical labor; but only one in a million is awake enough for effective intellectual exertion, only one in a hundred millions to a poetic or divine life. To be awake is to be alive.

- Henry David Thoreau, Walden

Wednesday, February 19, 2014

Sacred Heart


is really appealing to me of late, even and especially in my unrepentant sinfulness. Goes back, I think, to a lengthy discussion I had with a priest during my hospitalization five years ago this month.

More to follow …

Economic Serfdom

1. n, the condition of earning, individually or as a family unit, 0-1 percent more than must be paid out to satisfy needs and debts, per arbitrary pay period. Cf. “wage slavery.”

2. n, that state of one’s financial existence where one must risk one’s life on icy, slushy, snowy streets and highways crowded with other angry, incompetent, frazzled serfs, to get to one’s place of work where one clocks in for eight hours to earn just enough pay where one is forced to repeat the entire process day after day after day, ad infinitum.

For me, it’s why I drink read.

Tuesday, February 18, 2014

Enough Global Warming Already!

Today marked the sixth time in thirteen days we’ve received over three inches of global warming. Now, three inches may not seem a lot, but consider this: This first dose of global warming put eight inches of the white stuff on the roads, sidewalks, lawns, walkways, etc. Then three more inches three days later. Then eleven, then three, then three, and now, today, three again. Because global warming has led to below-freezing February temperatures where I live, nothing has melted. I now have about thirty inches of glacier crowding out my house.

I am sick of it. The wife is sick of it. All my coworkers are sick of it. The guy in line behind me at the grocery store is sick of it. The mother I stand next to picking up my kids from aftercare is sick of it. The teachers there are, too. About the only ones who ain’t sick of it are my two girls, who still look with glee upon the fallen, downy global warming, images of sledding and snowball tossing dancing in their heads.

My back can’t take much more of it. Nor can my nerves with the whole commuting thing. During the previous three inches of global warming, icy temps froze even well-traveled streets, and for ten minutes I was stuck in the Impala. Couldn’t go forward or back. What to do? What to do? Finally, I was able to turn the wheel and floor the accelerator such that the car slipped backwards diagonally and I was able to thread my way downhill between angry SUV drivers to get on to a safer road.

I’ve absolutely had it. If this is what global warming has brought us here in northern New Jersey, I hearken back to the days of my youth in the late 1970s and shout to the skies: bring on global cooling!

Monday, February 17, 2014

Shogun Warrior

Gosh, I haven’t thought of these things in thirty-five years. I had one, my brother had the other, and Santa brought us both of them one late-70s Christmas Eve. In fact, our relatives (mostly my uncle) conspired to buy us as much space-agey robotish thingies for the sole purpose of allowing my brother and me to fight an extreme intergalactic war on the blue carpet in the refurnished attic bedroom we shared. I remember lining them all up, two great opposing forces, spaceships and futuristic infantry, and spending quite a bit of time perfecting their formations. As far as actual battle went, I fired one torpedo from one hand-sized star fighter, which went extremely awry. Might have even taken out one of its fellow craft. I shrugged and went back to repositioning the armies, this time only imagining the actual carnage in my head.

Sunday, February 16, 2014

Gnip Gnop

At last!

After years – decades! – of intense study of the arcane arts, after weeks and months of crushing self-discipline to bring my body to an afterthought of my mind, after countless minutes and seconds balanced precariously upon the precipice of insanity –

At last I have discovered its secret!

All the money spent, all the relationships severed, all the time and treasure wagered on the longest of long shots! Those I have double-crossed, those I have stolen and not repaid, those I have brought with me, willing and unwilling, to those mountains of madness!

At last I have uncovered the terrible, dreadful, merciless secret of Gnip Gnop!

[And as our narrative devolves into babbling hysteria:]

It’s ping-pong spelled backwards!

* * * * *

Note: this meditation brought to you after an insomnia-fueled journey through multiple 70s nostalgia websites …

Saturday, February 15, 2014

Transcendental Infinity

I just read the most awesome, goosebumpish thing I’ve come across in a long while.

Well, at least since I re-read the proof that 1 = 0.999… last month.

I wish I could explain it better, but I can’t. So bear with me a moment as I fuddle through this.

Envision a number line in your head, like the one you had on your desk in second grade. Zero smack in the middle. Positive integers to the right, negative integers to the left. Fractions between the integer slashes on that number line.

Now, there are these things called transcendental numbers. They are constants which have nonrepeating decimals stretching out to infinity. The only ones I know of are pi, e, and some things called Liouville numbers.

Anyway, the awesome part comes when considering infinity. Think of all the integers, stretching out to infinity. Now think of all the fractions, an infinity of which reside between each pair of integers. Turns out, and I can’t rightly explain it, that the set of all integers and the set of all fractions, both infinite, are equal in size.

But even more amazing is that both these sets pale in comparison to the set of all transcendental numbers. There are an infinite infinite amount of transcendental numbers as opposed to rational numbers such as integers and fractions, so much so that the two really can’t be compared. In fact, if you put every number out of infinity into a great big bag, reached in, and pulled out a number, the odds that you’d pick a transcendental number out is, well, a hundred percent.

I sit before you with a “whoa” upon my lips.

Friday, February 14, 2014


No ulterior motives here; just thought the cartoon was funny.

I think I probably have no more or no less regret than the average middle-aged man. Off the top of my head, I can think of three broad regrets: not throwing that punch in second grade, not taking a risk and sticking with an exciting major in college, and following the crowd a little too closely – at the expense of my own individuality – in my twenties.

But we are all the sum product of our choices and decisions at any given point in time. Right now, I wouldn’t change a thing, because I have Little One and Patch.

As for the future, though …

Thursday, February 13, 2014

Mental Health Day

Well, as predicted, the automated telephone voice told me there’d be no school today. So I did get my short-term mental health day (a pleasurable relaxation from work) at the expense of long-term mental health (piles and piles of headaches still waiting for me at work).

But, I have to admit, it was enjoyable. The girls let me sleep in to the generally unheard-of time of 9 am. They also let me take an enjoyable hot bath, where I finished Lovecraft’s “The Mound” while they played on the iPad and watched their DVR’d shows. I made us all PB&J sandwiches for lunch, and Patch went upstairs to take a nap (she’s fighting a cold).

Little One and I watched Disney’s Twenty Thousand Leagues Under the Sea, a favorite from my youth, a highly well-done film featuring one of my favorite actors (Kirk Douglas) as an adult aficionado and one of my favorite actors (James Mason) as a childhood fan of such flicks. Patch came down midway through and the three of us, in blankets on the floor, watched Captain Nemo’s demise together.

Then, my El Guapo: the eight inches of icy wet snow that granted me a day off. It took me an hour of backbreaking shoveling to get us out and set up an easy commute out of the driveway tomorrow morning. Heart pounding, lungs heaving, my old carcass did it only with my brain chanting the mantra “one more foot … one more foot … one more foot.” I calculate very roughly that I shoveled an area of 300 square feet. With wind drifts bringing most of that up to a foot, and assuming a cubic foot of icy wet snow to weigh forty pounds, I moved six tons of snow in those sixty minutes.

Might need to take a Physical Health Day.

Anyway, made the us all a hearty dinner of eggs, bacon and toast. They’re playing upstairs while I type this, but soon I’ll put them down, and then it’s me and my math book (plus a few others I’m skimming) for the evening. Might watch some Impractical Jokers, because I need a good laugh.

Especially considering that looming desk at work …

Wednesday, February 12, 2014

Let It Snow, Again

They’re predicting five to eight inches of snow overnight tonight.

I am of two minds with this. On the one hand, I want it to gloriously snow. Snow us in. One foot, two feet, doesn’t matter: we got food, Internet, teevee and movies, books. (Gotta keep the electricity, though.) Snow us in for a full day.

Reason: I need a mental health day from work.

Now, the wife is away traveling for the next couple of days. But I don’t mind being home with the kiddies all day. They’ll cope; I’ll cope. Heck, we might just watch some spooky or SFish stuff on the DVR. Patch’ll nap and me and Little One’ll read. Maybe even in the same room, two or three hours spent in comfortable silence. I need a day like that.

But ...

I am so overwhelmed at work. I have seven stacks of paper averaging five inches in height scattered amongst the landscape of my desk. Not to mention an hour’s worth of filing (all sensitive stuff, so one of the hourly part-time high school girls we have working for us can’t touch it). A half-dozen projects coming up on due dates. Two dozen balls in the air (juggling metaphor). Plus I’d lose any OT I’ve accrued so far this week (a not unhefty sum). If we do get snowed in and I take the day off from work, I might even have to go in on Saturday just to keep my head above water.

So – do I want a snow day tomorrow or not?


Well, as in most things in life I am discovering, it doesn’t matter what I think. Once we hit the three inch mark I’ll get the automated phone call telling me school is closed, and that will settle that.

Tuesday, February 11, 2014


11 x 11 = 121

111 x 111 = 12321

1111 x 1111 = 1234321

11^2 = 121

11^3 = 1331

11^4 = 14641

11 + 1.1 = 11 x 1.1

Ever since I was a little boy I always found myself glancing at a digital clock just as it read: “11:11.” (Though now I pretty much always manage to see “9:17” – my birthday – when I chance upon a clock / cable box / whatever.)

What does it all mean?



Monday, February 10, 2014

Hypocrisy: An Illustrated Example

You may have seen this somewhere on the Interwebs. Me, I saw it over at National Review Online. You’ll probably see it on Facebook if you haven’t already. Regardless, you’ll be seeing it a lot in the future because it is – and I hate to use a cliché, but man, does this define the following one – this is the textbook case of rank hypocrisy.

First, my position. Concerning voter ID laws, I’m all for ’em. Now, this isn’t a racial thing, or a class warfare thing, or whatever. It’s a common-sense thing (at least to me). I compiled a list from other lists of activities you need an ID to do, here. Things from borrowing a library card to flying across the Atlantic. But perhaps the most important activity you could do in our democratic republic – voting – you do not need to provide an photo ID.


Well, let’s not get into that. It seems the NAACP, which really is a liberal organization and should not be considered a blanket organization for 12 percent of the population of the United States, is calling for a King-esque march for justice. To correct the injustice of those who want everyone to provide a photo ID to vote. So ... they send out this to all the prospective participants

The hypocrisy, if it were grape juice, would be a well-aged French Bordeaux.

Saturday, February 8, 2014


Just rediscovered this this morning during one of my pre-dawn web surfing / bill paying / checkbook balancing parties. Montrose, the eponymous 1973 debut album of the band fronted by Ronnie Montrose on guitar (and some guy named Sammy Hagar on lead vocals). Hadn’t listened to it in at least fifteen years; probably closer to twenty. Some dude uploaded the entire thing onto youtube.

Anyway, this was big – I mean big – with me sometime around 1989 or 1990 and played an important part in my development into a competent guitarist. Along with Sonic Temple by The Cult, I must’ve played it fifty, sixty times that year, simultaneously jamming along on my Les Paul (Montrose’s guitar of choice). None of the songs are difficult to play, all are blues / pentatonic based, and all, at the risk of sounding juvenile, simply rock. I love this album.

Montrose – as a guitarist, band, and album – is possibly the most underrated guitarist, band, and album of all time. He / they / it deserves to be better known. Someone called them “America’s answer to Led Zeppelin,” and I can’t honestly find any argument with that.

Sometime in the early 90s I bought Ronnie Montrose’s solo CD The Speed of Sound. Would like to hear that again, too. (I had a box of 200+ CDs stolen from me around the turn of the century, and lost them all …) Sadly, I remember reading a few years ago that he was suffering from on-again off-again cancer. Sadder still, he committed suicide by gunshot two years ago at the age of 64. Rest in peace, man. I loved your music.

Here are my two favorite tunes off Montrose

“Space Station #5”

and “Bad Motor Scooter”

Friday, February 7, 2014

Weekend Goals

Throttle up page turnover

Eke slightly closer to life than death

Look guilty on purpose

Err on the side of flagrant curiosity

Visualize eating a chicken parm hero

Raise those eldritch feelings


Speak with verve and perspicacity to someone I’m not related to!

Thursday, February 6, 2014

Literary Waterloo

A thought as I drifted off to sleep last night: “Books That Have Defeated Me”

(from most recent going back a few years ...)

Cycles of Time by Roger Penrose
Jesus of Nazareth by Pope Benedict XVI
War and Peace by Leo Tolstoy
The Magic Mountain by Thomas Mann
The Brothers Karamazov by Fyodor Dostoevsky

“Books that defeated me” are defined as books I wanted to read – still do want to read – but for some reason I just was not ready for them at the time I held them in my hands. Couldn’t, for the life of me, finish them. Be it a case of biting off more than I could chew or succombing to a maelstrom of outside circumstance (or even an inner maelstrom, I suppose), I could only make spare headway against stronger winds, and ultimately gave up.

To fight another day, that is. For reading to the Hopper is an act of almost religious perseverance. One day these great works shall all be absorbed into this less-than-great mind. Maybe soon-forgotten, maybe not, but I will travel these roads (hopefully) before I walk in to that Great Library in the Sky.

[Here are my scores; beat ’em if you can:

Cycles of Time – 20 pages in
Jesus of Nazareth – 120 pages in
War and Peace – 185 pages in
The Magic Mountain – 290 pages in (!)
The Brothers Karamazov – 120 pages in]

Tuesday, February 4, 2014

... And First Performance

Clarinet, second chair:

And while all this was going on, as I’m sitting there, listening to her play, I’m thinking that it’s only a few short hops from woodwind to electric guitar …

Monday, February 3, 2014

Downhill Racer

Not quite, but she’s getting there.

Had her first lessons this past weekend, and did extremely well. Me, I wasn’t there. I skied off and on from the early 80s to the early 90s, maybe thirty or forty times over the course of a decade. Now my ankles ache in anticipation of breaking just simply imagining hitting the slopes. Fortunately, Little One has relatives who are very proficient not only in skiing but in teaching other little ones to ski. So perhaps there will be much more of that in her future.

Be safe and have fun!

Sunday, February 2, 2014

NYC Superbowl

We’re gearing up for our annual Superbowl affair, this time a quiet little number at our house with only one guest: Grandpa Bill, who turned 73 a few days ago. Despite the low-key aspect (after a big party at a friend’s house last year), we managed to overbuy food and snacks. Don’t know how we’ll get that five-foot Italian sub, bucket of KFC, mozzarella-and-tomato salad, chips, dips, and that Three Muskateers candy bar, not to mention that new ale the liquor store guy down the street sold my wife, don’t know how we’ll get all that done, but we will. Have too. Tomorrow starts the diet.

Anyway, predictions? Who do I want to win?

Well, either this guy:

Or this guy:

I’m not too partial, though I kinda lean toward the first guy.

Prediction: Denver by less than 6. It will be decided by a late fourth quarter drive by Peyton, culminating in a touchdown around the three minute mark. Wilson won’t be able to bring his last-minute drive to fruition.

But it’s only a guess really.

Saturday, February 1, 2014

Silent Cal

Came across a couple of quotations from Calvin Coolidge in a book I was reading earlier today. No, I’m not reading a book about Calvin Coolidge (although the connoisseur of all things Hopper wouldn’t put it past me), but a book about the economics of the Great Depression. No agenda behind this; the book just caught my attention browsing in the library this morning.


“If business can be let alone and assured of reasonable freedom from governmental interference and increased taxes, that will do more than all kinds of legislation to relieve depression. Local governments are justified in spending all the money necessary for the direct relief of distress. But the nation and the states will only increase the difficulties by undertaking to restore confidence through legislation. It will be the part of wisdom to give business a free hand to supply its own remedies.”


“When depression in business comes we begin to be very conservative in our financial affairs. We save our money and take no chances in its investment. Yet in our political actions we go in the opposite direction. We begin to support radical measures and cast our votes for those who advance the most reckless proposals … This is a curious and illogical reaction. When times are good we might take a chance on a radical government. But when we are financially weakened we need the soundest and wisest of men and measures.”

Two points:

1) Can someone please forward this man’s memoirs to Barack Obama?

2) How eerily appropriate are these words to today’s economic situation, some ninety-odd years later.

And a third:

3) Oh, yeah. Right, forgot. It’s not about economics. It’s about power.

[Quotations taken from Silent Cal’s Almanack: The Homespun Wit and Wisdom of Vermont’s Calvin Coolidge.]