Empty_Cans_2

Good to the Last Drop

Today’s guest post comes from Clyde of Mankato.

In an effort to save a couple bucks, I bought a can of Folgers Coffee. Not a can actually, a plastic. Can we call it a plastic? If the English can call a can a tin, I declare that we can. Usually I buy coffee in a bag, the better stuff.

Coffe Bag

 

As far as taste goes, it was an error to buy the plastic. As far as economics go, it was a wise decision, but barely. My mother would have been proud of me. Frugality, punctuality, individuality—the three virtues of Adeline Anne, bless her departed self.

As I opened the plastic, I wondered how farmers would have survived the last century without coffee cans. In our neck of the woods, Duluth’s own Arco brand was the most common. The one pound cans were particularly prized, but that caught my mother at odds–to pay more per ounce for her coffee to have the size of can she and my father wanted. Life is full of dilemmas.

They were everywhere on our farm. Grain scoops, chicken feed scoops, clothes pin holders, grease containers, egg baskets, retainers of nuts and bolts and screws and washers and cotter pins (wonderful word that–cotter pins). In the garden they were watering cans and baby plant protectors. In the house, holders of my mother’s mammoth assortment of buttons, crayon container, coin collector, shoe lace storage (odd ones left over when one broke because they could be used to tie plants to support sticks; my mother was cheap), sewing kit, flower pots, and many more uses. The wonder is that we had that many around, considering how weak my mother made their coffee—frugality again.

Now, of course, I have this plastic, which will be empty in a few weeks. However, I cannot think of a storage use for it. I could keep my cotter keys in it, except I gave up all my cotter keys three years ago. We live in a smallish apartment and have eliminated all the stuff we can, which means we have little to store, and no business keeping a plastic in which to store nothing.

I also have these perfect little tins, which I acquired by ordering an expensive tea. I say tins because tins of tea sounds much more elegant than cans of tea. (Do not, please, tell Adeline Anne I used to order expensive tea instead of buying Lipton’s.)

Tins for Blog

Are not these tins perfect for storing cotter keys or lots of other things? Well, if I stored cotter keys in them, then they would have to be cans. Nope, haven’t found a use yet. But I am keeping them, so help me. Maybe I will go out and buy some cotter keys.

The plastic, is of course, an environmental error as well, unless I can find a permanent use for it. Now that I think frugally about it: I am going to be cremated.

Coffe can

Maybe that’s the true meaning of good to the last drop.

 

What would Adeline Anne think of your spending habits?

 

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The SlitherBot Threat is Real!

Today’s post comes from Congressman Loomis Beechly, representing Minnesota’s 9th District – all the water surface area in the state.

Greetings Constituents,

With the mid-term election less than one month away I have been looking in vain for an issue that will give me enough traction to wriggle back into office.

Many of my House colleagues are going nuts over Ebola, Immigration, Benghazi and Obama Care with varying results. Some high-minded politicians have tried to make a big deal out of Net Neutrality, and in the process have put their constituents to sleep.

I decided I wanted to go my own route and have been trying a few things on for size.

Most recently I decried President Obama’s admission that he didn’t have a strategy against ISIS. That critical angle really started to work for me and people were even sending money to endorse my assertion that the president should have started word-bombing Syria immediately, but when he began bomb-bombing instead, the contributions just fizzled out.

An earlier attempt to generate some genuine outrage fell flat when people simply refused to care that legions of robots are being programmed to cooperate.

I thought it would generate waves of concern among the populace that our beloved Congressmen could someday be replaced by machines that will compromise their personal needs in favor of getting things done. I guess I overestimated people’s fondness for partisan bickering. I really thought it was popular!

Now I’m second-guessing that, but I’m still pretty sure there’s a strong anti-robot feeling out there. I’d still like to exploit that fear, if possible. The key was to find something people hate as much (or more) than robots.

Fortunately, I just discovered something so alarming I think you’ll agree that Congress should pass a law restricting it as soon as possible – Robot Snakes!

Apparently some scientists (thank God they continue to tickle our worst fears with their outrageous experiements) developed a robot snake that will slither up a sand dune like a sidewinder. Through careful research they learned that sidewinders flatten their bodies out to get a better purchase on an unstable surface. Ugh!

Don’t get me wrong, this is probably useful knowledge that will benefit mankind somehow in the future, but for now I feel I’ve been gifted with the extremely sinister image of a robot snake with an eerily flattened body speedily writhing its way towards you (and your children!) across an otherwise peaceful and secure beach.

This must never be allowed to happen!

My opponent, and everyone else in Congress and the nation, have been silent on the looming SlitherBot threat! But if I am re-elected to represent the 9th District, I promise I will introduce legislation to prohibit the release of autonomous sidewinder robot snakes into the wild! Especially near bodies of water, which, as you know, is primarily what you’ll find in my district.

My critics will say no one anywhere is on record with a plan to do this, but as far as I’m concerned, that means the planning must be happening in secret, which is even more dastardly! Why go underground with it unless your aims are nefarious?

OMG. Could there be Underground SlitherBots?

Respectfully,
Your only anti-cyber-snake candidate,
Loomis Beechly

What election issue has your attention?

Screenshot 2014-10-11 at 6.52.47 AM

Up In A Plane!

Much has been made of recent security lapses surrounding the President of the United States and his family. The modern presidency is a luxurious cage, and anyone with the funding and the fortitude to get elected must willingly climb inside for their own safety. We expect that the people surrounding the President will anticipate every possible threat and will act with integrity to head off a calamity.

But it used to be different. Example: today is the anniversary of the day in 1910 when another great landmark in the history of Presidential security occurred – in what appears to be a “what the hell” moment of exuberance, sitting president Teddy Roosevelt decides to let some guy take him up in a plane.

Really. And there’s video.

Imagine any other President deciding to do this while in office. In an age where we weld down the manhole covers so the chief executive’s motorcade can pass over them unmolested, letting the POTUS go for a joyride in some relatively new piece of technology is unthinkable.

Theodore_Roosevelt_and_Archibald_Hoxsey_(1910)

Doing this cemented another milestone for T.R. – he became the first U.S. President to fly. And seeing him in the video as he climbs through the bracing wires between wings so he can settle, uncomfortably, into his seat, makes me wonder if he also became the first exasperated American air traveler to ask “Why is this so uncomfortable?”

Those deep, ground-challenging dips at the end of the flight are breathtaking even today. No aircraft should have its nose pointed ground ward at such a steep angle.

Within three months, Roosevelt’s pilot, Arch Hoxsey, would be dead.

In an air crash, of course.

What do you remember from your first airplane ride?

Octopus

An Eye On Octopi

You know how your eye is sometimes caught by a familiar word in an unexpected place?

That’s what happened to me when I saw I link to this National Geographic collection of articles that appeared under the heading: Beautiful Octopus Pictures: Masters of Disguise and Agile Hunters.

I am well aware that Octopi are Masters of Disguise and Agile Hunters to boot. What I hadn’t considered before is that they are Beautiful.

But if one octopus can be beautiful, does that mean a different octopus might be considered ugly? What would an octopus Standard of Beauty be?

If you were an octopus being judged at the State Fair, for example, would it work for or against you if your tentacles were thick and muscular or thin and noodly, or if your head was pear shaped or unusually soft looking?

What’s it worth in the underseas society to be a gorgeous octopus? Is it a matter of vanity, or are there real advantages? How much time and effort are you going to put into primping those suckers, suckers?

What makes a thing beautiful?

We are ALL Dr. Babooner

Ask Dr. Babooner – Comet vs. Lohan

We are ALL Dr. Babooner

Dear Dr. Babooner,

I try to keep up with current events but I am usually disappointed at the top stories on Google and the most recent trending items on Twitter.

Why?

Invariably these most popular stories have to do with movie stars, athletes, psycho killers and the most alarmingly dangerous  things in the world.

I admit some of this exasperation is a matter of selfish pride.

Because while the world is looking closely at what’s up with Lindsey Lohan, I’m involved in a years-long effort to land a probe on the face of a comet.  I played a small role in planning the project, and so did many, many others.  And yet I’m just not seeing very much news  coverage of what I think is the most important story out there.

Am I wrong to feel slighted?

Think for a minute about how you would go about this task if it were your assignment.

    1. Design a machine that can learn something meaningful about a completely foreign object.
    2. Launch that object into space.
    3. Catch up to a comet.
    4. Figure out where to land on a duck-shaped object going 83,000 miles per hour.
    5. Land, understanding that the surface you’re plopping down on is something you can only guess about ten years before you actually have to do it, and your guess has to be good enough to make it all possible.
    6. I think that’s pretty special, and it leads me to the conclusion that people are incredibly silly because they just don’t care about truly important stuff as much as they should.

      And yet I want their approval SO MUCH!

      Dr. Babooner, what is wrong with me?

      Sincerely perplexed,
      Rosetta Stan

      I told Rosetta Stan that he is suffering from a normal human tendency to feel slighted by a world that inexplicably overlooks one’s exceptional achievements. I commiserated with him, offering the opinion that his effort directed at learning about comet 67P/Churyumov-Gerasimenko is indeed a major event in the history of human achievement and its outcomes will be remembered forever.

      Unfortunately, Lindsey Lohan and her many fans feel exactly the same way about her West End Debut.

      But that’s just one opinion. What do YOU think, Dr. Babooner?

Undeniably True

View Point Ahead

Today’s guest post comes from Barbara in Robbinsdale.

One of the reasons I like to travel – especially when it’s “over the surface” of the country by car or train, is that I always come home with a slightly different perspective on my life.

Being in touch with all that space just gives one pause, and last month’s road trip to Utah is no exception. The highway (I-70) that we drove through Colorado’s Rocky Mountains was lined with aspens that look like yellow flames in the dark evergreen forests.

In southern Utah, one canyon made you think you’re in a cathedral, and the second must have been dropped there from another planet.

We noticed all kinds of little differences between there and home – names like Grizzly Creek and Hanging Lake; towns called Eagle, Leadville, Rifle, Yellowcat. Road signs warned of “Falling Rocks” or “Avalanche Area”.

And sure enough, several times along Utah’s scenic Highway 12, we slowed for small groups of cattle grazing in the ditch.

My favorite road sign, “View Point Ahead”, echoed my mood.

I am prepared to come home from any journey with a change in point of view – I look forward to it. This time I’ve arrived with shifted priorities, ready to explore what I can and cannot do with my life.

When have you known a change was coming?

Storm_at_sea

Red Moon Rationale

The following message was found scrawled in fiery hot red sauce on the underside of a scraped-clean leftovers container outside a barbecue joint in Memphis, Tennessee. The partly-melted Styrofoam was sent to Minneapolis for analysis in the FBI’s Mississippi Watershed Crime Lab, but when it got switched up with a lunch container brought to work by an agent from Eagan and was subsequently dropped (erroneously) into a recycling bin, it got separated out with other materials that were contaminated by food waste and came to the attention of the agency’s Midwest Director of Suspicious Debris, who immediately forwarded it to the Department of Homeland Security, who gave it to the CIA, who handed it over to the Secret Service, where they set it out on the North Portico of the White House because it smelled too funky to bring inside. A gust of wind caught it and the Styrofoam wound up landing at my doorstep. I probably shouldn’t have read it, but I did. And now I share it with you.

Ahoy, Landlubbers,

I has it on good authority that there’s gonna be a Red Moon on th’ mornin’ of October 8, 2014.

Lots of guesswork is goin’ on as t’ th’ possible meaning, an’ none of it ’tis good since red is th’ color of emergency an’ danger an’ blood.

Several of me boys has become quite excited about this, thinkin’ that perhaps th’ advent of a prominent Red Moon might mean some kinda change in their otherwise miserable an’ monotonous lives. Fer them what sees it, th’ shade of th’ lunar orb is supposed t’ be a tad dramatic though any actual lasting effect is highly unlikely.

Here’s a lovely chart about th’ event, made by a sober individual wi’ a scientific mind.

Graphic via Eclipsewise / Fred Espenak
Graphic via Eclipsewise / Fred Espenak

Me boys is a bit too fanciful t’ put much stock in a scientific document like th’ one above. They’s much more influenced by folktales and sayins, ‘specially them what is easy t’ remember.

An’ rumor has it that there is plenty of popular sayins regardin’ sky color an what sailors is likely t’ expect as a result. So of course I Googled ‘em an found some on th’ nautical website gCaptain.com.

Red sky at night, sailor’s delight,
Red sky in the morning, sailors take warning.

Evening red and morning gray, help the traveler on his way
Evening gray and morning red bring down a rain upon his head
Orange or yellow, can hurt a fellow.

I ain’t never heard none of these sayins, so I surveyed th’ crew an’ sure enough, several of me boys swears by ‘em, especially that one about sailors an’ delight. An then they tells me there’s some extra sayins what is especially about a Red Moon as it relates t’ its position regardin’ the vessel.

Red Moon rising before, pirates should all be sent ashore.
Red Moon falling behind, pirates should not be confined.
Red Moon beside, extra helpings of grog should be tried.

I allowed as how I’d never heard none of this, but rather I had a different set of sayins in mind.

When the Moon rises Red, I’ll swat yer head.
When the Moon rises Scarlet, no fun fer the bar lot.
When the Moon rises Ruby, just do yer duty.
When the Moon rises Crimson, yer at my whim, son.

Th’ boys was not impressed wi’ them sayins, an’ Gimpy claimed I made ‘em up. But what if I did? All sayins has t’ be made up by someone at some point – so why not me, an’ why not now?

Make up a new saying about the meaning of a Red Moon

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