Friday, August 31, 2012

Bunky Day

My sons are Irish twins, almost. They were born exactly a year and a week apart, hence the almost. Today is my youngest son, Bunky's birthday.

Bunky is settling into an adult life of domestic tranquility in Portland, Oregon. He and his better half (Finn's mom) will close on the purchase of their first home next week, the joys of moving await, school restarts soon. All are happy and healthy. Life is pretty good from his vantage point.

It wasn't always so. Bunky spent several years in the wilderness, working his way to where he is now. I've finally stopped worrying about him, he's on the yellow brick road. I am, as I have always been, very proud of him. He's forged his own path, may we all be so lucky.

Please join me in a rocking version of HBTY. Sing like this:



Thursday, August 30, 2012

Who's the richest nerd?

God bless the Make A Wish Foundation. They have a gift for shaking money trees. For the next 2 days MAW is on the lookout for wealthy nerds and geeks. Who is the wealthiest, nerdiest, sci-fi, Star Wars geek out there? Sunday we'll find out.

Legacy Effects along with several other creature creator/designers have created reinterpreted sculptures of several helmets used in the Star Wars movies. The sculptures are now on auction in the MAW EBAY Store

Here's how Legacy Effects describes the piece int he photo above:

"One-of-a-kind mixed media art sculpture titled "The Scavenger" by Legacy Effects.

When asked about the process of creating this helmet, the artist said:

We create characters for film and television. So I thought, why don't we create a character in the
Star Wars world that could further a story from the film itself? And, what story could we tell? For ages, fans and film goers alike have wondered what happened to Boba Fett at the end of "Return of the Jedi". Boba Fett falls into the Sarlac pit and there's been endless discussions as to what his ultimate fate was. So we figured, after his untimely demise, perhaps a small inhabitant of Tatooine discovered his helmet and moved in like a hermit crab.

It was a great idea because it allowed us to help tell a story even further. A story we've all thought about a million times, and that has been deliberated for years. The concept was very clever and it gave us a great starting point for collaboration. It allowed for organic creature work, model shop work, working animatronic movement, lighting effects, and ultimately, a mini movie within the piece. This approach allowed for the whole team to participate and creatively contribute to the end result.

After a collection of concept alien life forms were presented, the team collectively determined the best of all the elements, to create an extraterrestrial being that fit within the world they were trying to expand. In the end, the entire team decided the final design of the creature."

Bids were hovering around the $18, 500 USD mark as this went to press. Makes the other pieces appear to be bargains. Happy shopping.



Gulf coast tropical storms often come to Mayberry to die, and so it seems shall Isaac, Saturday afternoon. No one here is complaining though. The trees are so dry they'd weep, if they had the moisture. In Mayberry we have a homegrown version of hurricane preparation. We look for aldergators.

Can you see the aldergator in the water across the lake?

Aldergators, as I learned recently on a trip to the zoo, is the name given by one of my 3 year old buddies to those reptiles found in the marshy areas of the southeastern US. Aldergator skins are used to make expensive shoes, purses and leather goods. When my buddy grows up he'll likely call them alligators, but for me it's aldergators forever.

I learned that it is necessary to rid the lake of aldergators before a storm comes. Mayberry lake aldergators are of course fallen tree limbs. Left unchecked, they have the nasty habit of clogging the culvert when the water rises rapidly. I learned this the hard way several years ago when I awoke to find our culvert had washed away overnight and that we now lived on an island. Island living wasn't all it was cracked up in my mind to be.

So now I prepare. After throwing out my back, next year I'm using a winch.


Wednesday, August 29, 2012

toad heaven

To avoid the chance of waking up to find what I'd planned to post horribly inappropriate due to the continuing saga of Hurricane Isaac I've decided to go for a much needed smile instead.

If you are in harms way please we wary. Gulf Coastians you are in our thoughts, if any one here can assist you in any way, please get in touch quickly.


Tuesday, August 28, 2012

Mark Sanford

Reuters photo

Remember Mark? He's was the governor of South Carolina, best known for taking a walk about 2 summers ago, without exercising the simple courtesy of mentioning to anyone he would be away. Not to his wife and kids, not to his minders, not to the security guy paid to keep him on a short leash.

Sadly, governors aren't allowed to vanish. They are missed at work. Tongues in the office wag, and soon every reporter in the statehouse knows the boss has gone missing. Reporters ask troublesome questions, which when answered by hacks sound like fibs. Mark's office claimed he was hiking the Appalachian Trail, but even I knew better.

One week later, Gov Sanford showed up back at work, tanned, rested and ready and announced to the world he had met his soul mate, Maria Belen Chapur , a young woman who lived in Buenos Aires, Argentina. He had gone to Buenos Aires so they could become better acquainted, which may help to explain why he failed to mention to Mrs. Sanford that he'd be away. Frosty words were likely exchanged between the first couple upon his return, as sensibly she and kids moved out of the governor's mansion with seemly haste. By February, 2010 the Sanford's divorce was final.

Last week former Gov Sanford announced that he and Maria, his Argentinian soul mate, the girl from Buenos Aires had become engaged. Optimist that I am, I give 'em a year.


Monday, August 27, 2012

Follow up or another way to treat stains

You may recall our recent discussion of how to remove recalcitrant stains from area rugs. Today, we'll discuss the flip side; what lies beneath.

All of the floors in our house are refinished wood. The dining room has an area rug underneath the table. Unbeknownst to us the dogs liked the rug as well as we did. Removing the rug for cleaning, gave us our first glance at how deeply stained the floor beneath was.

After try a number of "guaranteed to work" home remedies, we called in the pros. The party line amongst floor guys is "Just cut out the bad part and replace the wood. It will be good as new. Won't cost too much either"

And so we did, or rather they did. Watching trained troops taking saws to your dining room floor is not for the timid, we working on faith preferred not to look.

In less than 2 hours the old was out and new was in. An hour after that the entire floor was sanded, vacuumed, wiped clean, matching stain mixed and applied.

The next day the sealer was rolled on.

Twenty four hours later came the final buff and polish.

The guys were right on all counts. With luck, one week from now we just may have the china cabinet back in place, its contents shiny and bright, the baseboards cleaned and touched up and the room ready for duty. The dogs are no longer welcome.


Saturday, August 25, 2012

A True Hero

Neil Armstrong

Sir Sean

Telegraph photo

The presumptive future King of Scotland, Sir Sean Connery turns 82 today. Long Live Sean! There is a Scottish joke, never told on Saturday, that goes something like this.

Q. How often has Sean returned to Scotland since his James Bond days?

A. 007


Friday, August 24, 2012

Number one son

Today is Liz's father, my number one sons birthday, and in honor of his birthday he has a bit of hard learned advice for us. When you call a customer service agent, in whatever industry, for whatever reason, lead with your nice voice. You catch more flies with honey.

It's been a good year for the lad. His health and family are doing well, the house renovations are coming along swimmingly and every day his shiny yet massive pickin' em up truck gets a workout. Live is good as he knows it in T'town.

I'm very proud of him. It's from him that I get my sense of humor and most of the better ideas found here. We live in interesting times, as he never fails to point out to me, mostly I believe because he's here.

Happy Birthday #1. Do whatever it takes to have a 100 more, it's worth the ride.


Thursday, August 23, 2012

He did what?

I know now as I did then that it was cliche, but soon after my first marriage ended I bought an old, ill used BMW 2002 (tii for the purists), much like the one in the photo above. I loved that car in spite of its semi-frequent catastrophic and always ill timed break downs.

One momentous failure occurred while the kids and I were in Chicago, 5 PM on Michigan Avenue, on the Friday of a long July 4th weekend. Chicago's finest were not amused, especially when we didn't wait for the tow truck. We simply left a note on the front seat for the garage owner to call us, we'd work the details out later. And we did. The kids and I flew home.

Saturday morning I called John, my regular BMW 2002 fixer, asking if he knew of his counterpart in Chicago. After a brief discussion about what happened, where and why, he told me not to worry, he'd take care of it. Late Sunday evening the car was resting comfortably at home, in my garage. John visualized what happened, grabbed the needed parts off the shelf along with his toolbox, rode the train to Chicago, replaced the clutch and transmission in a gas station lot and drove the car home. How's that for service?

A few weeks ago I purchased my second BMW, but have been too busy to even wash the beast, but have mentally been preparing its fixit list. Yesterday morning I drove across town to visit a BMW wrenchmen. Walking into an immaculate, modern, well lit work space, the owner, my old buddy John, greeted me. I had not seen him in 25 years.

I led with, you may not remember my name but here's my story and I reminded him of his trip to Chicago. Quickly, we were once again bosom buddies, introducing me to the shop, relaying to his mechanics that I was "the guy" "the guy from Chicago". With evident pride he showed me around the shop, told of his second location, then said something I hope to never forget.

He said, "Toad, a young guy starting a business has to prove himself every day. That trip to Chicago was a necessary step to prove to myself that I had what it takes to succeed. Thank you for making my business happen." That's how you build customer loyalty. Work, from John's list, begins shortly after Labor Day.


Wednesday, August 22, 2012


Four years ago today I turned on the lights, switched on our computer and typed these words:

Blogs have long fascinated and scared me. I have wondered where in the world people found so much to say. How such interesting people had the time or the inclination to share their lives with the masses. Frankly, I felt inadequate. My life isn't that full.

However, I do have a few things to share, and I hope as time passes we each do our bit to make this world the best of all possible worlds.

I promise to rarely rant. I am no Howard Beale. I promise not to preach. Frankly, I just don't care enough. Free advice is rarely received and never welcome.

Over time I'll tell more about myself, my family, life in Mayberry, Ted the wonder dog, and how if I were king the world might be a different place.

I look forward to sharing time with you.
And so Toad found his voice.

I still feel inadequate to the task, and each day I wonder what tomorrow's post will be about but through these daily ruminations I have learned a thing or two and have met the most wonderful people in the world...those of you who stop by here periodically!!! I wouldn't have missed this trip for the world. From the bottom of my heart I thank each of YOU, followers, readers and commenters and passers by, you've enriched my life immeasurably. And so we head towards year 5. Onward.


Why yes, Todd Akin is my idiot congressman.

Tuesday, August 21, 2012

Mindset List class of 2016

Prior to the start of each fall semester at Beloit College, Professor Tom McBride and emeritus director of Public Affairs at the college Ron Nief, publish The Mindset List. The Mindset List is an attempt to identify and express the worldview of the incoming freshman class. Alternately, the list provides a gentle reminder to the college staff and faculty to "mind their references". As most of the incoming class of 2016 were born in 1994, their point of view is naturally shaped by events of their lifetime, not some geezer's from the mid 80's.

So to help you better understand the kid in the window at Hardee's I present the Beloit College Mindset List, Class of 2016 edition.

The Mindset List for the Class of 2016

For this generation of entering college students, born in 1994, Kurt Cobain, Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis, Richard Nixon and John Wayne Gacy have always been dead.

1. They should keep their eyes open for Justin Bieber or Dakota Fanning at freshman orientation.

2. They have always lived in cyberspace, addicted to a new generation of “electronic narcotics.”

3. The Biblical sources of terms such as “Forbidden Fruit,” “The writing on the wall,” “Good Samaritan,” and “The Promised Land” are unknown to most of them.

4. Michael Jackson’s family, not the Kennedys, constitutes “American Royalty.”

5. If they miss The Daily Show, they can always get their news on YouTube.

6. Their lives have been measured in the fundamental particles of life: bits, bytes, and bauds.

7. Robert De Niro is thought of as Greg Focker’s long-suffering father-in-law, not as Vito Corleone or Jimmy Conway.

8. Bill Clinton is a senior statesman of whose presidency they have little knowledge.

9. They have never seen an airplane “ticket.”

10. On TV and in films, the ditzy dumb blonde female generally has been replaced by a couple of Dumb and Dumber males.

11. The paradox “too big to fail” has been, for their generation, what “we had to destroy the village in order to save it” was for their grandparents’.

12. For most of their lives, maintaining relations between the U.S. and the rest of the world has been a woman’s job in the State Department.

13. They can’t picture people actually carrying luggage through airports rather than rolling it.

14. There has always been football in Jacksonville but never in Los Angeles.

15. Having grown up with MP3s and iPods, they never listen to music on the car radio and really have no use for radio at all.

16. Since they’ve been born, the United States has measured progress by a 2 percent jump in unemployment and a 16 cent rise in the price of a first class postage stamp.

17. Benjamin Braddock, having given up both a career in plastics and a relationship with Mrs. Robinson, could be their grandfather.

18. Their folks have never gazed with pride on a new set of bound encyclopedias on the bookshelf.

19. The Green Bay Packers have always celebrated with the Lambeau Leap.

20. Exposed bra straps have always been a fashion statement, not a wardrobe malfunction to be corrected quietly by well-meaning friends.

21. A significant percentage of them will enter college already displaying some hearing loss.

22. The Real World has always “stopped being polite and started getting real” on MTV.

23. Women have always piloted war planes and space shuttles.

24. White House security has never felt it necessary to wear rubber gloves when gay groups have visited.

25. They have lived in an era of instant stardom and self-proclaimed celebrities, famous for being famous.

26. Having made the acquaintance of Furby at an early age, they have expected their toy friends to do ever more unpredictable things.

27. Outdated icons with images of floppy discs for “save,” a telephone for “phone,” and a snail mail envelope for “mail” have oddly decorated their tablets and smart phone screens.

28. Star Wars has always been just a film, not a defense strategy.

29. They have had to incessantly remind their parents not to refer to their CDs and DVDs as “tapes.”

30. There have always been blue M&Ms, but no tan ones.

31. Along with online viewbooks, parents have always been able to check the crime stats for the colleges their kids have selected.

32. Newt Gingrich has always been a key figure in politics, trying to change the way America thinks about everything.

33. They have come to political consciousness during a time of increasing doubts about America’s future.

34. Billy Graham is as familiar to them as Otto Graham was to their parents.

35. Probably the most tribal generation in history, they despise being separated from contact with their similar-aged friends.

36. Stephen Breyer has always been an Associate Justice on the U.S. Supreme Court.

37. Martin Lawrence has always been banned from hosting Saturday Night Live.

38. Slavery has always been unconstitutional in Mississippi, and Southern Baptists have always been apologizing for supporting it in the first place.

39. The Metropolitan Opera House in New York has always translated operas on seatback screens.

40. A bit of the late Gene Roddenberry, creator of Star Trek, has always existed in space.

41. Good music programmers are rock stars to the women of this generation, just as guitar players were for their mothers.

42. Gene therapy has always been an available treatment.

43. They were too young to enjoy the 1994 World Series, but then no one else got to enjoy it either.

44. The folks have always been able to grab an Aleve when the kids started giving them a migraine.

45. While the iconic TV series for their older siblings was the sci-fi show Lost, for them it’s Breaking Bad, a gritty crime story motivated by desperate economic circumstances.

46. Simba has always had trouble waiting to be King.

47. Before they purchase an assigned textbook, they will investigate whether it is available for rent or purchase as an e-book.

48. They grew up, somehow, without the benefits of Romper Room.

49. There has always been a World Trade Organization.

50. L.L. Bean hunting shoes have always been known as just plain Bean Boots.

51. They have always been able to see Starz on Direct TV.

52. Ice skating competitions have always been jumping matches.

53. There has always been a Santa Clause.

54. NBC has never shown A Wonderful Life more than twice during the holidays.

55. Mr. Burns has replaced J.R.Ewing as the most shot-at man on American television.

56. They have always enjoyed school and summer camp memories with a digital yearbook.

57. Herr Schindler has always had a List; Mr. Spielberg has always had an Oscar.

58. Selena’s fans have always been in mourning.

59. They know many established film stars by their voices on computer-animated blockbusters.

60. History has always had its own channel.

61. Thousands have always been gathering for “million-man” demonstrations in Washington, D.C.

62. Television and film dramas have always risked being pulled because the story line was too close to the headlines from which they were ”ripped.”

63. The Twilight Zone involves vampires, not Rod Serling.

64. Robert Osborne has always been introducing Hollywood history on TCM.

65. Little Caesar has always been proclaiming “Pizza Pizza.”

66. They have no recollection of when Arianna Huffington was a conservative.

67. Chronic Fatigue Syndrome has always been officially recognized with clinical guidelines.

68. They watch television everywhere but on a television.

69. Pulp Fiction’s meal of a “Royale with Cheese” and an “Amos and Andy milkshake” has little or no resonance with them.

70. Point-and-shoot cameras are soooooo last millennium.

71. Despite being preferred urban gathering places, two-thirds of the independent bookstores in the United States have closed for good during their lifetimes.

72. Astronauts have always spent well over a year in a single space flight.

73. Lou Gehrig’s record for most consecutive baseball games played has never stood in their lifetimes.

74. Genomes of living things have always been sequenced.

75. The Sistine Chapel ceiling has always been brighter and cleaner.

Monday, August 20, 2012

20 August 1945

This letter lived in a wallet, transferred into each replacement for many years. I well up every time I read it.

To the officers and men of the First Marine Division:

The President of the United States, our Commander-in-Chief, has just announced the final and complete surrender of the Japanese people, government and armed forces. The war is officially ended. This is an hour of triumph, of pride in the great accomplishments of our arms, and joy that the bloody war which has taken so many of our comrades can claim no more.

You of the First Marine Division may well know an especial triumph, feel a particular pride for yours was the force which first turned the tide against the Japanese. Many units have fought the Japanese in the past year, but it has been over three years since this Division struck the first offensive blow of the war on land, when it landed in the lower Solomon Islands. That historic campaign, fought under the greatest hardships, attracted the attention of the whole world- and the name Guadalcanal came to be synonymous with Marine heroism, perserverance and military achievement.

You have many memories. You have left your dead at Tenaru and Wana Draw and Bloody Nose Ridge and Target Hill, Matanikau and Dakeshi. You have fought through dense jungles, mighty swamps, and coral ridges honeycombed with caves. You have endured much- extreme heat, thirst, hunger, ceaseless exposure to wind and rain. You have borne the pain of long seperation from home and family. Your life has been so Spartan, that ordinary comforts have become as luxuries.

And now it is over. The enemy is vanquished, the field is won. And now, to you who have borne the flag of your country and standard of your corps from Lungs Ridge to Shuri Castle, WELL DONE, and may God bless you.

D. Peck
Major General, U.S. Marine Corps

Saturday, August 18, 2012

Thought for the day


Jack loves Jill and Jill hates Jack. They both go to heaven. Do they meet?


Mrs. T and I are spending the weekend babysitting our little rug rat friends. See ya Monday, if we survive.


Friday, August 17, 2012

You could do worse

For a million and one individual reasons there are countless men with zero interest in the clothes on their back who leave the chore of buying their clothes to the women in their lives. I'd like to pawn off the job myself at times, but haven't a taker.

The real job becomes the thankless task of getting your guy to look presentable when he leaves home. It's never easy to dress someone who doesn't care, but several tips may work wonders.

Fit is everything, so stop buying dress clothes labeled Small, Medium, Large... Men's shirts are sold in sizes. The numbers (ie 16, 32) represent neck size and sleeve length. Get a tape and measure. Shirts that fit look better and feel better. Real honest to goodness identifiable fabric wears better and lasts longer than plastic. Silently, he'll thank you.

Many men deep into middle age believe they wear the same size pants as they did in high school. It ain't so. Nothing looks worse than dun lop (my belly dun lopped over my belt). Pants are sold even number waist and length, with the expectation that they'll hang from his navel. If he is between sizes go up, and have the waist altered. Tell him he looks thinner with pants that fit. If need be, your dry cleaner can size pants to fit. Once you get the waist size right, you'll only need to do this once.

Most guys who don't care what they wear live in khaki's and blue jeans, which can be fine, and getting them to try something new is always a fight. May I suggest that if you're looking for ways to expand his sartorial horizons, skip the fashion departments of the mall stores and search Google images. You could do worse than to emulate the look of two men with bags of money, professional stylist on call to dress them, access to everything, yet dress pretty squarely and always look great.

Prince Charles may be the best dressed man on the planet. His day to day wardrobe is probably fairly small, considering all the business and professional engagements he has. He keeps clothing until it can be mended no further, yet always looks sharp, even in khaki's and blue jeans. It may be that his people are acquainted with irons, but he is a walking clothing tutorial, and his look can be copied on a modest budget. Once again, proper fit is everything.

Ralph Lauren is in the fashion business, but it rarely shows. Much of his clothing has been hanging in his closet a long time. He dresses conservatively yet most always looks well put together. Again, his look can be copied over and over.

While I offer no guarantees, I do recognize that most men are vain. A few turns around the office in clothes made of identifiable fabric, that fit well will garner compliments, which may lead to his taking a bit more pride in his appearance.

Shoes we'll tackle some other day.


Thursday, August 16, 2012

When the going gets weird....

Have you ever been to Kansas? The Gomez family hadn't either, but having seen The Wizard of Oz they knew the Wizard of Oz was there and would grant their wish. They sincerely wished the Wiz to cast out the demons which possessed their 2 youngest children.

That's why the family (mom, dad and 5 kids) left their Northlake, Illinois home, drove 550 miles to Lawrence Kansas, tied up the 5 and 7 year old children, duct taped their eyes shut and left them at a Lawrence Walmart. A nearly perfect plan foiled by being caught in the act. Now there's police and lawyers and judges and exorcists...

Their horrific story may be found here.


Elvis has left the building!

Wednesday, August 15, 2012

Bon Appetit!

Photo: People Magazine

My mother, bless her heart, wasn't a very good cook. She served up 3 squares a day, with a song in her heart and smile on her face, for too many years, but her heart was never into it. Oddly, I didn't discover this until very much later, by then I was out of the house. She always put on a good show, reading the newspaper's food section each week searching out new ideas, had the full cookbook shelf in the kitchen, but..... As a result I learned my way around a stove fairly young.

One of mom's treasures, taking pride of place on the shelf, was The French Chef Cookbook by Julia Child. In the golden age of television, before the constant barrage of food programming a wanna be foodie's only choices were Julia and later Graham Kerr, The Galloping Gourmet. I now have my mother's copy of The French Cookbook which I had never opened until last night.

The thought of my mother reading Julia's cookbook is as unlikely to me as imagining mother saying yes to one of her children's requests. It's an image I simply can't conjure up. The book does look as though it spent a lot of time as a spoon rest. That I can imagine.

Julia, remember Julia, was born 100 years ago today. She died 8 years ago last Monday (13th). I am forever grateful to the woman who offered home cooks everywhere, the opportunity to expand their culinary horizons, if only in their dreams.


PS: Have you tried any of these recipes? Thumbing through The French Cookbook I can see how Craig Claiborne may have been influenced, but other than Julie I can't envision anyone tackling these.

blandings bd

Friends: today marks the anniversary of Mrs. Blandings 29th birthday. I suggest we each send her an ecard just to fill up her in box. Her email address may be found on her blog site .

Card choices may be found here

Happy Birthday Patricia!!!!


Tuesday, August 14, 2012

Dr. Koo's Day in court

Dr. Michele Koo's day in court.

You may recall last October's news flash regarding Dr. Michele Koo, esteemed Mayberry plastic surgeon. Dr. Koo was then in the news for publishing before and after breast augmentation photos of her female patients. There was a twist to the photos however. The before and afters cropped the women's faces but did included the patient's full name as well as the community she lived in. The women were naturally outraged and called Calhoon.

The law and insurance companies work in funny ways, and for reasons unimaginable to me Dr. Koo and her advisers are letting her patients grievance come to trial. More likely we'll see who blinks first after the 12 female jurors are selected.

BTW: this is apparently a widespread problem. Plastic surgeons typically show before and after photos on their web site. Drs save picture files by patient name, but typically do not print the patient name online. Unless the doctor changes the file name of the photo, a Google image search of the patient name can probably locate the before and afters for you.

Ladies, I'd check Google and Bing images before the guy in the next cube does. Just don't forget me in your settlement.


Monday, August 13, 2012

Never on Sunday

My self imposed summer holiday ends with tomorrow's edition. In the mean time in honor of the Glorious 12th (the 13th this year. Grouse season never begins on Sunday))I present this rerun from last year.

For 180 + years August 12, The Glorious Twelfth, has marked the opening of grouse hunting season in the UK. It's big business, not only for the landed gentry whose grand estates provide game and lodging to hunters from around the world but to the finer restaurants around Britain as well. {2012 aside--The fees grouse hunting generates for the estates provides the funds necessary for the upkeep of the moors. To save all the grouse, some must perish.}

Roald Dahl, in My Uncle Oswald says it best:

“That’s all right, then,” I said.

I've no idea how this exists on-line, but if you've a taste for the randier side of Dahl, My Uncle Oswald is available to read here. Not suitable for Puritan's or children though.


Friday, August 10, 2012

Thursday, August 9, 2012

Singapore Day .... and Night

Can't find Singapore on a map? Look just above the equator, south of Kuala Lumpur.

Today Singapore is celebrating a world wide block party. A get to know Singapore, its people places, food and things kind of day. Singaporeans world wide remember their homeland on this day all they left behind. It's good for expats to remember their cultural home and traditions, and this day provides an opportunity for the diaspora to do so. There may be events near your home today. Look around.

Singapore has a problem they share with other wealthy nations. As per capita wealth increases, family size decreases often to a point where the population size becomes stagnant or shrinks which doesn't bode well for a nation state with an aging population's long term future.

So what does Mentos have to do with this? The Mentos candy people have thrown their corporate weight behind the Singapore government's effort to reverse the paucity of breeders (i.e. encourage committed, loving couples to get in the mood). Evocative of Chef from Southpark Mentos has recorded a song, a not so subtle ice breaker if you will. For serious!

Mentos needs future customers too.

A few seconds is all you'll need.

Toad- I couldn't make this up.

Wednesday, August 8, 2012

The H.L. Hunley

A dozen years ago, the Civil War Confederate submarine the CSS HL Hunley, the first submarine to sink a warship using an explosive battering ram, was raised from the sea bed where it had lain since shortly after sinking the USS Housatonic off the coast of Charleston, SC in 1864.

For Hunley was found listing at a 45 degree angle port side up. To preserve the ship and her contents she was lifted at that same angle and delivered to Warren Lasch Conservation Center in the old Charleston Navy Yard for preservation. It wasn't until June 2011, 147 years after she went down, that the Hunley was finally rotated to its upright position, and port side was completely visible. Conservation work continues, and will for years.


Monday, August 6, 2012

Dog Days

My constant companions have abandoned me. Mrs. T thought they may have died from oversleep, but while asleep they make the darnedest noises, so I suspect they are still alive. The top photo was taken not long after breakfast. The bottom, around ten PM. Do dogs hibernate?

Yesterday wasn't much different. I'm jealous, in need of/want a vacation myself, and would happily sleep for a week. I'm thinking of Akron. Have you ever been to Akron, under a tree with a beautiful woman who listens but does not talk, except to say "Poor thing, oh you poor thing"? Sounds delightful doesn't it?


Gatsby Explained

OK kids, summer is almost over and school is about to begin. You've lost your summer reading list minutes after receiving it, the dog ate your book, there is going to be a quiz, and you're too lazy to check Wikipedia. What a way to begin the semester!

Not to worry. If a picture is worth a thousand words, words and pix are even better. From Tumbr I present The Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald, which I did in fact read this summer.


Sunday, August 5, 2012

International bachelor festival

On the off chance your relationship status box is ticked single, or you'd welcome singlehood you could do far worse than visiting the Boys and Beer Festival, more accurately the 40th Annual Ballybunion International Bachelor Festival which begins today and runs through 8 August. The Fete is held in Ballybunion, County Kerry, Ireland.

"Bachelors of all persuasions aged 26-46 come from all over the world to Ballybunion for a week of fun and entertainment...Many gentlemen meet their true love (Guinness?) in Ballybunion and many happy lives have been formed as a result of this festival over the past 40 years." -sayeth the Welcome to Kerry Ireland website (Don't you love the Irish custom of 4 day weeks?).

I have a tip for those of you unwilling or unable to travel to Ireland this week to find your soul mate. Keep out of American sports bars. I fell into one Friday night only to find more laptops than patrons; someone suggested it was fantasy football draft week. Ladies, any guy who brings a laptop to a bar on a Friday night is off limits, always.


Saturday, August 4, 2012

Better than Television

Remember the photobooks "A day in the life of..."? 200 photographers would scatter around a country, photograph visually memorable stories all in the course of one day. The hope was you'd see page by page how diverse life was.

This is Now Is A Day in the Life of's digital grandchild.

This is Now is a web site which displays Instagram photos as soon as they are uploaded, from select cities around the world. Using embedded geotags you are able to see whatever strikes the fancy of Instagramers in New York, London, Tokyo, Sao Paulo and Sydney.

It's like watching Tumblr, only more voyeuristic.

Iphones take lousy photos.

Friday, August 3, 2012

Martha Stewart - Cool guy

Not often enough do I include a woman in the Cool Guy's Club, but today I'll make an exception in order to include today's birthday girl Martha Stewart in the pantheon.

Like her fellow CGC member, Mr. Lauren, Ms. Stewart is a cultural icon who is an easy target for those unwilling to understand the commitment involved creating an empire all the while making it appear effortless, yet are willing to poke fun at her expense. Also like Ralph, she has a made a large impact on the tastes, the hopes, the dreams and aspirations of American homemakers.

In the not too distant past, emulating (or at least trying once) Martha's way was "the right way" all else was less than the best. That no one could do it like Martha was beside the point. In her prime, you either loved or loathed her. For those legions who loved her, she was the gold standard.

Happy Birthday, Martha.


Thursday, August 2, 2012

Wanderlust. Nola Edition

It feels like ages since we've taken any time off. Our plan for the month of June was to tackle projects long put off and then enjoy the rest of summer lounging by the pool. June projects have stretched into July and now into August. It's too hot to play outside, yet vile temps haven't stopped our vacation planning.

I've also be thinking about food. Specifically good eats. For weeks I've been considering how best to approach Uncle Harry about putting us up in New Orleans for a week or so, while we made the rounds. Only a fool would leave Mayberry in August to go to NOLA, so the current thinking is mid September. That will give us chance to visit Louisiana's famed fall rainy season along with the New Iberia Sugar Festival. Harry will grumble but eventually he'll give in, so long as we promise to take him to lunch.

The fish of the day at Galatoire's is his last meal of choice, and believing any meal may be his last, he worships there often. Should you visit Galatoire's, take a local, the service improves when the waiters needn't translate the menu, and dress up for dinner.

Tourists, having heard of the famed lunch time atmosphere, line up for lunch much too early, as if expecting a show. I suggest 3:30 as the perfect start time for a convivial repast. Afternoon cocktails taste better, and your sense of self indulgence throws restraint to the winds. Have dessert too. Let your Puritan ancestors spin. If need be, begin with the shrimp or oysters down the street at Felix's, should you need something to tide you over. It's worth the wait.

My mind was cluttered with memories and menu planning when I received a "guess where I am" email with a photo attachment (photo at the top). Harry's table was ready, the guests were met, the feast was set, and he was well into his second restorer. Wherever Harry lays his Borsalino is his home and for that 1 minute I hated him. Having him to put us up just became easier.


PS: I was privately taken to task for suggesting that visitors to Mayberry may be forgiven for believing the Mayberry Olympics and World Fair were recent events, not something that occurred 108 years ago. I got my evens when a Mayberry World's Fair story appeared on the front page of the local paper Tuesday. Locals just won't let that story die.