The Metric System verses Whatever We Americans Use.


Okay people. It is the end of February and we are less than a month away from Spring. (Imagine a trumpet fanfare at the sound of that lovely word.) This morning it was 20 degrees outside. I’m not talking about Celsius either! 20 Celsius is something like 70F or 87.34F or maybe the surface of the sun for all I know. Hey, I’m American. We don’t get that whole metric system thing. A system based on tens? That is just crazy! Zero as the freezing point of water and 100 as the boiling point? Come on! That is just silly. Everyone knows that 32F is the freezing point and 212F is the boiling point. It makes perfect, logical sense. (Please note the rampant sarcasm implied. Please also note that sarcasm plays a key role in this whole blog.)

Having the same name for the basic unit of measurement is just plan lazy if you ask me. If you heard the word meter mixed with some prefix, it tells you that you are talking about measurement in the metric system. Now real men know that you must have inches, feet, yards, and miles. Don’t bother me with that whole “every time you multiply by ten, it changes the prefix” nonsense. There are twelve inches in a foot. Three feet in a yard. 5,280 feet or 1,760 yards in a mile. See? Perfectly logical. I almost forgot about acres. Those are 1/640 of a square mile or 43,560 square feet. An acre is about 40% of a hectare which is either another unit of measurement or the Greco-Roman God of Confusing Mankind. I can’t remember which.
Then there is the one kind of metrics that has been sneaking into our lives for years. The clever little liter. As much as it tries, the American system still holds on and fights for its right for a part of the pie. We go to the store and buy a two liter of soda, but we sit it beside our gallon of milk. You would think they could just learn to get along; but I caught the milk bouncing on the soda the other day. So instead of liters, we have fluid ounces, pints, quarts and gallons. Now a fluid ounce and an ounce used for weight have nothing in common other than the name. So there are sixteen fluid ounces in a pint. There are two pints in a quart. Four quarts make a gallon. Perfectly logical.
We could talk about ounces and pounds verse grams and kilograms, but you get the idea. Metrics are just too easy and make too much sense for Americans. We can’t have that stuff around here.
And what kind of system keeps the same prefixes no matter what you are measuring? Everyone knows that you can’t do that. Weight has one system. Length has another. Temperature is its own. You can’t take the base name like meter and add kilo to it to make it 1,000 meters. That is just silly. Who would think megameter would be a million meters or gigameter would be a billion meters? The next thing they are going to say is that a tetrameter is trillion meters. Everyone knows that only works when we’re talking about memory on our computers. It can’t possible apply to other forms of measurement.
I think I have shown you how much more sense the American methods of measurements make than the system used by everyone else. Now can someone please explain why something we American obviously invented is called the English method? (Yes, that was more sarcasm.)

Opposites Detract

Have you ever noticed how the old adage of “opposites attract” doesn’t always seem to work? Look and Angelina Jolie and Billy Bob Thornton. Still shaking my head about that one. He must have made her laugh. A lot! As I tried to get the image of them out of my head, I began pondering how some things are great for one thing and terrible for another.

  • A car with a tank full of gas and a stomach full of sugar are both great. A car with a full of sugar and a stomach full of gas, not so much.
  • An elephant blowing water out its nose and preschoolers playing with mice are both fun to watch. And elephant playing with mice and preschoolers blowing water out their noses can both result in messes that I wouldn’t want to clean up.
  • An older, chubby man dressed like Santa Claus posing for pictures is as adorable as a photo of a baby in the buff showing off a cute little tush. If they change places it causes confusion for the baby and makes the rest of us poke our eyes out seeing the old man tush.
  • A twenty-something rocker jamming on a kicking lead guitar is as cool as the blue haired grandma making her pumpkin pie with her secret ingredients that make it taste amazing. When grandma rocks out, the guitar explodes on the third verse of How Great Thou Art; when the rocker adds his secret ingredient to the pumpkin pie, everyone sits around giggling at how amazing the water looks when the toilet flushes.
  • The hillbilly who makes the smoothest moonshine is as handy to know as your blonde neighbor who likes to layout in the tiny bikini in the sunshine. The blonde neighbor trying to make moonshine may lead to exploding stills and seeing the hillbilly in the bikini in the sunshine will make you want to be inside the still when it does.
It is all in how you look at things. Now if you will excuse me, the sun just came out and I need to find my binoculars. Oh no! It’s the hillbilly, again. Never mind.

Unusual Phobias


While looking for unusual words to be used by one of my unusual characters (his name in Tone and is one the main characters in the Spiritscape Chronicles), I stumbled across the word anatidaephobia. Now I am certain all of you are quite familiar with this irrational fear, but on the off chance that you are not well versed on your aquatic avian aversions, allow me to elaborate. It is the fear that somewhere a duck is watching you. I think it inflicts duck hunters who cannot seem to get a shot off. This is not to be confused with anatiDAFFYaobia which only has one reported case. I checked and Elmer Fudd is in therapy for this one.

That got me thinking about phobias. It seems there are irrational fears about everything under the sun. Now that I think about it, heliophobia is the irrational fear sunlight. Sometimes you have to wonder if some of these fears have been created by therapists who don’t have enough clients. Here are a few of my favorite phobias.
Xanthophobia is the fear of the color yellow. When I first read about this one I thought it had something to do with cowardice and being called yellow-bellied. After careful research (a.k.a. Google), I discovered that it had nothing to do with Looney Toons. However, I do believe there should be another one called xanthoSUBMERSIBLEphobia. It is the fear of The Beatles.
Now turophobiacs have a difficult time taking a good pictures. Every time someone raises a camera and says, “Say cheese!” these individuals have a startled look as they search in vain for the terrifying dairy product that causes them irrational fear. It also makes them feel not so gouda. (I know that was a terrible joke, but it’s so bad it’s funny. Right? I said, right? Someone please agree with me.)
In the 80s, with Madonna coming into favor, those with omphalophobia truly had a trying time. These poor individuals with the fear of navels would have hated all those truly great videos including “Like a Virgin” and “Lucky Star”. Going back and looking at them now I wonder, what was the big deal? Sure she is showing off her belly button and making the ophalophobiacs rather uncomfortable; but at least she’s in a boat with clothes on and not naked on a wrecking ball. Is there is a fear of Miley Cyrus destroying your home? Let’s call it collisiusorbuscyriophobia.
Now some of you reading this must have this fear. Nomophobia is the fear of being without mobile phone coverage. I shudder just thinking about that terror. I bet that would make a great horror flick. A group of really hot, physically fit young people are driving through a small town in western Kansas when their car breaks down. They are horrified to discover that there is no cell service and the 4G on their phones is useless. The tension builds as the cheerleader can’t update her Facebook status; the football star can’t tweet what is happening; the texts sent by the girl who is cute-but-not-as-pretty-as-the-cheerleader are not going out; and the cybergeek can’t use a gum wrapper, two toothpicks and a straw to boost the signal. They all die of boredom since they have no idea how to read a book, play a board game or use a landline. Scary, isn’t it?
Now pogonophobia is the fear of Duck Dynasty. Well, actually it’s the fear of beards, but that’s the same thing in my book. As a beard wearing male, I cannot understand this fear. But as a straight beard wearing male, I don’t have to kiss someone with a beard either so what do I know?
I hope these irrational fears have helped you realize and face some of those fears that have been weighing you down. Even if they haven’t, at least you know there are some people who have weirder phobias than you.

Music Has Charms…Sometimes


As I write this blog post, I am listening to Nickelback. It’s making me think about what I would do if today was my last day. I think I’d blow off my diet and drink the largest chocolate malt I could find. Sadly, I think the song was trying to inspire something more than ice cream envy. As I have said in the past, I’m not that deep.

Aren’t there some songs that move you to action? The list of moving songs on my playlists ranges from arias to ZZ Top. With Mozart to metal, my taste in music is eclectic as my writing. In an effort to expand your horizons, it is my duty to share with you some of the songs that will make you think, wonder and go “Ah ha!” Mostly you will be thinking, wondering and going “ah ha” about what I put in my coffee. (Non-dairy creamer makes me loopy!)
“Dressed for Success” by Roxette: It was only after listening to it a couple decades later that I was able to detect the subtext within the lyrics. There is a line that talks about shaking thing up. That is obviously a reference to wearing funky socks with your charcoal gray Ermenegildo Zegna Suit. I’m thinking something with pink flamingos.
“Goodbye Says It All” by Blackhawk: The futurist meaning in this song was truly mind blowing! Can you imagine the shock when I realized the line about no shot at redemption was really about the demise of the flip-phone in favor of the smart phones? Since it was released in 1993 that makes it spooky-visionary since we still had clunky laptops back then. I don’t even want to imagine the back-masking hidden in “Postmarked Birmingham”.
“Round and Round” by RATT: It is really about sharing the merry-go-round with your classmates when the teacher yells at you for making it go by yourself even though you had all agreed to take turns to see who could get it going fastest by yourselves; but the teacher wouldn’t listen to logic and reason, thereby ruining a perfectly good experiment causing you to abandon the scientific method in the second grade to derail your plans at becoming a great scientist. (I may be reading a little more into that one than Steven Pearcy intended.)
“What Hurts the Most” by Rascal Flatts: It’s about stepping on Leggos in the middle of the night.
These insights are startling and alarming. Please do not be concerned. It will be okay. We still have Weird Al to keep us focused on the important things like… ummm… I’ll have to get back to you on that one.

Two Wrongs Don’t Make a Writer


Some of my friends think too much. One pointed out that my humor seems to have a subtle edge that is hidden beneath a veil of sarcasm and observational levity that belies the truth that I am compensating for some hidden pain by making light of serious situations to deflect attention away from the turmoil within. I have no clue what she was talking about because I was just making a joke.

As soon as I got out my dictionary, a psychological text book, and consulted three therapists, figured out what she was talking about. She was accusing me of hiding my pain behind humor. Some of the best writers and funniest comedians are able to derive humor from pain. Having been maliciously accused of having depth to my writing, going beyond the surface to reveal something about myself, all I can say is: “Oh yeah?” See, I’m not that deep. I’m so shallow you could wade across me.
That’s not totally true. There has been pain in my life. There have been sprained ankles, a couple of broken bones, two surgeries and numerous concussions in my past. You are nodding thinking that the concussions explain a lot, aren’t you? Just yesterday, I suffered physical pain beyond what I thought possible. While stacking paper that came out of my printer, (those of you who are squeamish may want to skip to the next paragraph) I got a nasty paper cut. It bled for almost ten second. I thought was going to pass out from exsanguination. Weeping and wailing, I dabbed it with liquid bandage. That is stuff that is supposed to seal a wound, preventing bleeding and infection. It also contains a chemical (I think it was sulfuric acid) that kills germs and makes a grown man scream like his finger is on fire and beg for his mommy. You see, I do know pain. (Excuse me while I wipe tears off the keyboard)
There is also the emotional traumas through which many writers must struggle for their art. I could tell you about divorce, lost loves, betrayals and jobs that I hated; however, the real psychological and emotional abuse comes from drivers. Last week, while minding my own business on the Interstate, I encountered a car that was driving the speed limit. I know, right? What kind of moron drives 55 on a five-lane highway in one of the left lanes? Can you believe the nerve of that eighty-five-year-old lady? Even though I wanted to draft behind her and honk my horn until I had a good place to put her into the wall, I showed restraint. I suffered in silence, knowing that emotional suffering is part of being a writer. Also, I knew it would make a good paragraph for a blog someday.
With these great trials and tribulations in my life, it makes sense that I’m a writer. It also proves that I’m really not that complicated. Eccentric, odd, and unusual; but not complicated.

Cabin Fever


One of my favorite writers is Patrick McManus. For those of you who have not read his work, what’s wrong with you? He is one of the funniest outdoor humor writers I have ever read. Okay, he is the only outdoor humor writer I’ve ever read, but he is still hilarious. He wrote a short story about Cabin Fever he experienced as a child snowed in among the backwoods of Idaho. I don’t want to give away the ending, but I will tell you it involved white haired gnomes. See why I like his stories?

The reason I bring it up is the snow. We got some snow last night. By some I mean a butt-load of snow. For East Tennessee five inches of snow is a butt-load. Now before any of you people in places like Minnesota or New England start laughing at me… you already are, aren’t you? Anyway, there are a few things you have going for you that we don’t. You have little things like snow plows and drivers who know what they are doing. We don’t have those luxuries in the South. It’s supposed to be warmer down here.
Since it is not safe on the roads, I stay inside when we have horrendous, polar-vortex blizzards that leave us with a big, bad five inches of snow. That can lead to cabin fever. Now let me explain how this works. You can’t go outside for fear of falls, frostbite and getting run over on the second floor of the mall by Knoxvillians trying to drive in the snow. Yes, it is that bad. So you stay in and enjoy the companionship of your loved ones. Sounds good, doesn’t it?
All is well until the cable goes out due to the weather. So you check online to see what’s happening with your 500 Facebook friends whom you have never met in real life. That works for five minutes until your internet is taken out by a malicious icicle on the lines two blocks over. That’s okay because you have over 100 DVDs with movies you haven’t watched in months or years. Just as you are sliding the movie into the player, a tree limb becomes overloaded by the snow and hits the power line coming into the apartment complex. That’s not a problem because your laptop can play a couple of movies on a full charge. Well, it wouldn’t have been a problem if your son hadn’t used it to play World of Warcraft last night and forgot to plug it in after defeating a really nasty troll. Twenty-eight seconds into Spider-Man 2, your computer shuts down.
No TV. No internet. No power. No movies. No computer. And it’s all Al Gore’s fault for inventing global warming which is somehow responsible for colder winters, too. Don’t ask me, I don’t get it either. I just blame Gore. All that is left are books. As a writer, I think this is a good thing. My state of mind is not the best since everything I have tried seems to end in failure. Closing my eyes, I choose a random book. The complete works of Edgar Allen Poe. What could possibly go wrong reading stories of death and horror while stuck inside with nothing working while hanging out with family? I opened the book at random and began dramatically reading The Tell Tale Heart out loud so all could enjoy:
“TRUE! – nervous – very, very dreadfully nervous I had been and am; but why will you say that I am mad? The disease had sharpened my senses – not destroyed – not dulled them. Above all was the sense of hearing acute. I heard all things in the heaven and in the earth. I heard many things in hell. How, then, am I mad? Hearken! and observe how healthily – how calmly I can tell you the whole story.”
After one paragraph my son informed me I was reading with too much emotion – almost like I was really feeling what I read. He took Poe away and handed me The Hitchhikers Guide to the Galaxy instead. I think the snow is getting to him.

Olympic Games That Need to Be Added


You may not have noticed, but the Winter Olympics are on. (Yes, that was sarcasm.) You may love the Olympics. You may like the Olympics. You may not care about them. But, if you have not noticed them then you must not own a TV. They are everywhere! I even went so far as to look on the map to find out where in Russia is Sochi. It’s in the southern part of the country which tells me the northern parts must be too cold for the WINTER Olympics. Time to stop complaining about when it dips below the 50s here in Tennessee.

My favorite part of the Olympics are the unusual evens. Enjoy the skiing and skating. I’m watching the skeleton. Anyone who belly-flops onto a tiny sled, flying down a bobsled run face first with no brakes, is someone I want to buy a beer. That assumes they do not put the straight jacket back on him when the run is over. If that is too extreme for you, then you can watch the luge. It is the same thing as skeleton but the person is laying down, feet first down the bobsled run. What a bunch of wimps the luge guys are! I will admit I tried to get on the mixed doubles luge team, but I couldn’t talk Ashley Judd into being my teammate.
There are some games that I think should be added to the Olympic event list that have been overlooked.

  • Ice Diving. Imagine the combination of the spectacular beauty and grace of diving with the insanity of ice fishing. You get on a diving board, bounce, flip, dive and try to make it through a tiny hole in the ice. That ice-hole is important. Without the ice-hole you can’t get back out after surviving the dive. One way in, one way out. Kind of makes the skeleton run seem safe, doesn’t it?

 

  • Snow Polo. Do you have a horse you don’t really like that much? I’m thinking of the pony I rode as a kid that enjoyed scraping kids off its back using steel buildings to force children to choose between keeping a leg and riding a pony. If you have that kind of beast of burden, then snow polo is your sport. You play it just like regular polo – field hockey on horseback – but you play it in the snow. Now the risk of broken bones, falls, sprains and frostbite are very real dangers. But those happen to the horse you don’t like.

 

  • Shovel Racing. I am shocked that this one isn’t in the games! You take a snow shovel, tie it to that horse you don’t mind shooting when it breaks it leg in the snow, then sit on the shovel while someone rides the horse as fast as it will go in the snow. Yeah, I want to try this one, too.

 

  • Skijoring. Think shovel racing on skis. That is my kind of cross-country skiing. I think we should do it with snowmobiles instead of horses though. You can avoid injuries, temperamental steeds, and horse poop.

I hope these will be added to the list of games for Pyeongchang in 2018. Do you think the South Koreans will go for it?

Artsy Partsy


If you want to see some very interesting works of art, allow me to recommend my favorite coffee shop – Old City Java in Knoxville. It is in one of my favorite parts of an old part of town. With a name like Old City Java, who would have guessed that one? As I sit here, enjoying a cup of fresh java (the coffee is fresh even if the city is old) the art on the walls captured my attention deficit dominated brain. For almost a minute, I looked around and pondered the meanings behind the art and gave them new names that seemed to better match what was on the canvas.

The first piece of art that jumped out at me, other than the ceiling painted like Van Gough’s Starry Night, was the dear head on the wall. You are probably wondering why a trendy place like Knoxville would have the redneck décor of a mounted animal head. If you are really wondering that, you have never been to Knoxville. This place is – believe it or not – a trendy place for Knoxville. The deer head on the wall is at artist’s interpretation of a deer head. I would not have chosen Play-Doh for my medium, but what do I know? I call it “Deer DOH!”
Glancing to my left, I see art that is reminiscent of absolutely nothing. It is the body of a runner and the head of double-trunked wooly mammoth riding on a skeletal three-headed dog that looks cranky. I have entitled this one, “Never Eat Tai Food Before Bed”.
There is another one that I call “Lines” that can best be described as a bunch of lines on a piece of paper. Did you notice that I never claimed my titles were creative? There is likely a deeper meaning related to the angst of the artist expressed in the intersecting of the lines which represents the cutting off of the creative process by the incorporation and commercialization of the art world thereby relegating the true artists to the coffee shops while the politically savvy artists can make lots of money. Either that or someone had a straight edge, a bunch of colored pencils and too much time on their hands. “Lines” seems like a good title regardless.
The last art I noticed looks like two funnels that are attached at the small ends that are sitting up making them look like filled in hourglasses. These orange sculptures are topped with a flat surface and are interspersed around the room. It feels like they are surrounding you, they are everywhere you look! I named them “Orange Invasion”. Those were really bugging me so I asked the guy who made my coffee what he calls them. He looked me in the eye, with a straight face said, “We call them ‘coffee tables’.” I like “Orange Invasion” better.

Let’s Get This Party Started

A friend of mine commented that I sometimes have an unusual way of looking at things. That comment was quite offensive to me since that person has never spent time looking at the world the way I do. If they had taken the time to carefully consider my perspective on the issues of the day, the word “sometimes” would have been replaces by “always”.

Since we are on the topic of painful words, it is high time the topic of the politics entered into our discussion. My dearly departed daddy told me never to discuss religion, politics or women. Since I have already broken two of those rules, I felt it was time to annoy the politically savvy amongst my blog readers. I’m sure both of you will be suitably offended by the time you finish this blog.

Let me go on record by telling you that I am a liberal conservative. Or is that a conservative liberal? Maybe a green constitutional libertarian? To be honest, like many of Generation-X, I am a registered, card-carrying independent. Granted, the card I carry is my Kroger discount card, but I carry it everywhere. When it comes time to vote, I go online and research each candidate, discovering where they stand on the key issues of the day. Looking at each candidate on the internet is a great source of information because we all know that there is never anything spin-doctored or misleading on a politician’s website. Simple truth: I find the one that annoys me the least and vote for them. Failing that, I do own a dartboard.

Knowing that my opinion about politics in general has been veiled among my deep thoughts, allow me to clarify. I am not a disenfranchised voter. You have to be franchised in the first place and that is not something for me. Looking at the word “politics”, can you blame me? Divide it up. “Poly” means many. “Tics” are blood sucking insects. Strangely appropriate words when you break it down, don’t you think?

Many of my politically active friends have called me names like “fence-sitter”, “non-conformist”, “lazy”, and “Bob”. In the past, I have thanked them for their accurate observations. “Bob” was given to me while discussing politics at the lake as I would go underwater when something was discussed that I found boring. That was the weekend I almost drowned.

Well, the time has come to take a stand since I have finally discovered something that I believe in and I am tired of holding my breath at the lake. It is with great pleasure that I announce the formation of a new political party: The Wine and Cheese Party. Our platform will be centered on the drinking of wine without the slightest judgment of others. We will be open to the wine enthusiast (snobs) and the wine guzzlers (slobs). You can be a drinker of sweet wines (no-pallet), semi-sweet wines (some-pallet) or dry wines (too-much-pallet). The red wine drinkers (rosy-lipped) will enjoy their fermented grape juice alongside the white wine drinkers (pucker-lipped). All will be welcomed.

Our debates will function with the following format: 1. Any member is allowed to state his or her opinion on any topic that is relevant to the party. 2. After considering the statement over a full glass of wine, another member can either agree or disagree by making a statement either for or against the topic. 3. Everyone must then drink another glass of wine while considered the statement made by the second person. Cheese is recommended on a nice sesame cracker at this point. 4. Another point can be made at as the glasses are refilled about the first person’s topic, the second person’s statement, or the quality of the brie. 5. Another glass of wine is consumed while eating more cheese. 6. By this point, everyone who has had four glasses of wine agrees that everyone else is right and that we need to use this method for the Middle East Peace Talks.

Our first meeting will be held at a winery as soon as I can find one with an auditorium, a sound system, and a wide variety of wine choices. It may take a while. There is a lot of free tasting… I mean prep work… involved in finding just the right place.

The Music Box


While trying to come up with a blog idea for something witty, silly or just one of my normal eclectic eccentric thoughts, I turned on Pandora to help me with the soothing sounds of classical guitar strings being plucked and played, creating a soothing symphony of sounds bathing me in a relaxing review of renditions relieving Romig into relaxation. Okay, so I dozed off. When I woke of thirty minutes later, the second thing I did was change the station on Pandora. The first thing I did was get more coffee. Hint: Don’t listen to soothing music when you just wake up unless you don’t want to stay awake.

Now that the Pandora station had been changed to something a little less relaxing – Skillet Radio – I was ready to write. But what to write about? You won’t believe this, but at first I thought about frying eggs and bacon,and flipping pancakes. You know, cooking things. At first I thought that the whole metal sound of Skillet was having an influence making me think of frying things. It was that combined with the fact I was hungry. But Skillet is one of my favorite bands, too.
After breakfast, I came back to the keyboard with John from Skillet singing about being Comatose. Oddly, it was the first station that did that to me. Then there was a song about Those Nights. I was really thinking someone was trying to tell me something. It seemed that the next Skillet song would tell me something important if the Universe was sending me some kind of hidden message. It was the Skillet song after the next one that game me the message that said Awake and Alive. The one before that had nothing to do with me as it proclaimed that sometimes the singer felt like a monster.
Or was the Universe telling me that on Those Nights I’m a Monster who was Comatose but is now Awake and Alive? Perhaps it is telling me I need to go see the new Frankenstein movie. Or maybe, just maybe, they are songs played in a random order that someone with an overactive imagination can make up meanings where there really is nothing. Nah. I’m gonna go with the whole Frankenstein movie thing. That was brilliant subliminal marketing.