short and sweet

today’s post comes from tim

clyde made a suggedtion the other day we do a 50 word guest blog offering

i blew past it because he also mentioned he was going to stop writing on his everything is south of here site and i recoiled

(please continue clyde)
so lets try in the same way haiku limits and defines i propose ee prepare 2017 posts of no more than 50 words (title excluded)

jerzy kozinski used to edit snd edit until no unneccessary was allowed to remain

based on that rule 1/2 this post goes along with 7/8 of whst i have to ssy in general

ready set blog

A Sticky Situation

Today’s post comes from Wessew

I’m going to write about glue. All Trailbabooners know about glue. Some of you are/were teachers and may even have made your own glue using flour and water. I recall being taught the recipe in first grade to finish paper-mâché projects. At the time, it seemed rather messy so I have my doubts that process is popular today. The history of glue goes back thousands of years. Affixing one item to another was a challenge to be met by tool makers and construction laborers. Tar, eggs, starch all found their way into everyday use.  For most folks their experience with glue is limited to the basics: Elmers and Super Glue. And typically their knowledge of glues is also basic: “Glue is glue”. Well, that is not true. Indeed, it can be quite confusing to go to the glue aisle of a Lowe’s or Home Depot and be confronted with a dozens of varieties of glue. As reading the fine print seems a lost “art”, I surmise that many failures arise from the assumption that all glues are pretty much the same.

In my floor covering trade, there are hundreds of different glues. Each has specific qualities and recommended usages. But the basic guideline for use is: Read the label. Well, back in the early 70’s, we were doing a project at the University of North Dakota in Grand Forks, North Dakota. The material was delivered to the job site along with buckets of glue. It was cork tile. From Portugal. With instructions in Portuguese. There was no discernible contact information in the material so as Portuguese is not a common language in North Dakota, the University did put me on to a Spanish translator. As these languages are related, I hoped for the best in getting a fairly good idea as to how to use the glue. I missed a step in translation. The glue had to be used over a porous subfloor ie wood or properly prepared concrete. Our concrete was polished meaning it was now a non-porous subfloor. We came in the next day and found the tile we had laid expanded about 1/32 of an inch in each piece causing a peaking effect. The glue had no where to go except into the cork itself. I panicked. Then I remembered a little physics and what could shrink material: Cold. We obtained dry ice and moved the chunks around the floor for hours. It worked!

We still get material from foreign countries but most often it comes with instructions in multiple languages… including English.

Have you ever had a problem with translation?



Christmas Past

Header photo of Adliswil by Parpan05 (Own work), CC-BY-SA-3.0 or CC BY-SA 2.5-2.0-1.0  via Wikimedia Commons

Today’s post comes from Cynthia in Mahtowa.

Christmas is not one of my favorite times of the year, Memories are loaded with emotional and physical loss – each of my parents died, I received divorce papers, old reminders of the difficult maneuvering after my parents separated and divorced and remarried. Then there was exhaustion after the long hours working in my father’s retail business wrapping presents, followed by a six hour drive to southern Minnesota to be with grandparents, my parents smoking and arguing what seems like the entire way.

But one Christmas I love to remember: the year I was in Switzerland.

After my first year teaching I quit to travel in Europe. I ended up staying with a family in the small village of Adliswil just outside Zurich. They lived above their tearoom and bakery but also had a home up in the mountains near Einsedeln. The month leading up to Christmas they made candies — delicious Swiss chocolates, many with nummy hazel nut cream. (I thought they were called Moor’s Caps/Moorenkoppen, but I can’t find what I remember them being on the web…so memory being what it is…who knows what they were called.)

Not only did they put up with me, but they graciously allowed me to invite a college friend who was studying in England to join me for the holiday.

On Christmas Eve we drove up to their mountain home. The tree was decorated (did I help decorate it? I don’t remember) with real and lit candles. Interestingly my friend remembers many more details of the holiday than I do, but this we both remember: There was snow. In the evening, we walked somewhere I don’t recall and on our way up along the mountain road a man was riding a bicycle down the road yodeling. A perfect Swiss moment.

Do you have a favorite Christmas memory?

Here Come the Robots

Today’s post comes from Steve Grooms

I used to hate computers. Throughout the 1960s and 1970s, computers increasingly intruded into the lives of average people. And they were no fun. I hated them. Just about everybody did. People had notes on their cubicle walls saying, “I am a human being. Do not bend, fold or mutilate.” That—for younger readers who might not know—was a reference to the legend printed on the universally hated computer data cards.

When I heard that people were buying computers for their homes, I was astonished. What? People needed computers to do their taxes? That made no sense at all. I suppose I first heard about home computers in 1980, for that is when the first home computers were hitting the market.

Well, guess what? The most astonishing gift I got in the Christmas of 1982 was the computer my parents gave me. My life has not been the same since then. I used that primitive computer (an 8 bit CP/M Osborne) to write six books. I soon was writing email letters to friends, sending articles and manuscripts electronically to publishers and even (yes!) using the computer to do my taxes. A computer hater became a computer lover almost overnight, and now I can’t imagine life without my computer. I use it more and enjoy it in more ways than my TV.

All of this is necessary background for what this blog is really about, which is robots.

When I first heard people wanted robots for their homes, I was amazed and derisive, just as I had been about home computers. And just like computers, robots are coming into our lives and into our homes. The most militantly humanistic young couple I know owns a robot that whirrs around vacuuming their home without human guidance. The manufacturer of the Roomba now makes a similar robot that mops tile floors.

Now there are robot lawn mowers that will roar around peoples’ yards mowing the grass without human guidance. If I had a lawn to mow now I’d be tempted by these. They aren’t cheap. For all I know, they might chop up the occasional tulip garden or Pomeranian. But these are the “Model T” versions of robotic lawn mowers, after all. We can expect them to get better and cheaper year by year, just as computers did.

When I scoffed at the notion that robots would enter our homes, I was thinking of little tin men clanking around brandishing brooms, trying to sweep the kitchen floor. But that’s not the way it will happen. Of course, that could come. Sony already makes a robot called the QRIO that looks like the stereotype of a robot, something that has two legs and two arms and walks upright. But that’s not how robots will first enter our lives.

The first robots to enter our homes will be stationary, yet they will be able to listen to us and talk back. And they are already here. Examples include the Amazon Echo, Amazon Dot or Google Home. These little robots were extremely popular Christmas gifts this year. What they feature is artificial intelligence. They talk to us and respond to things we say. They interact with their human “owners.” They even perform simple tasks, like playing music or ordering takeout food.

I first understood how close all this is to revolutionizing our world a few weeks ago when I viewed a promotional video for Jibo, the “home robot.” I used to think “home robot” was an oxymoron like “military intelligence.” But, no, it is a clever new social robot. Watch this video and draw your own conclusions:

This is the future. And the future is now. Robots are changing our lives, just as computers once did. Brace yourselves!

What will home robots do? Nobody can know for sure, but the general answer is that they will do anything that is unpleasant or bothersome to the point we don’t like to do it ourselves.

Something else that is coming—and indeed is here already—is the robotic pet. These are highly popular in some societies. Count me among those who are creeped out by the idea of a robotic cat or dog. But many people, particularly in Japan, find robotic pets comforting. A robotic cat presumably would not need a sandbox, and it would only “eat” batteries.

Beyond doing unpleasant things, I am convinced that social robots will increasingly serve as substitutes for human friends. We already have robots that chat with us and perform small tasks. It wouldn’t be difficult to create a small robot with AI that that would have something like a face and something like a personality. Are there lonely people in this world who would love to have a robot that never tires of talking to them and laughs explosively at their jokes? How would you react to a robot that sits by your toaster in the morning chatting with you, making coffee, delivering a weather report and saying snarky things about Donald Trump?

What bothersome tasks would you like to have done by a home robot?

Neither Snow nor Rain nor Heat nor Gloom of Night…

This post is from littlejailbird.

The city of Minneapolis has a wonderful thing going where you can get a free tree for your boulevard. You just have to make a request before November and the following spring you will have a tree planted in front of your house, no money or labor from you required.

Many years ago, I requested one of these trees and subsequently had a pin oak tree planted on my boulevard. I don’t know if the city still does this, but back then it took care of watering the tree for the first summer. They must have had a schedule where the watering truck would go around and water the new trees.

They were very good at following the schedule and didn’t let pesky things like bad weather interfere. They could have taken the motto often associated with the U.S. Post Office and tweaked it to reflect their dedication to the tree-watering schedule: “Neither snow nor rain nor heat nor gloom of night stays theses tree waterers from the swift completion of their rounds.”

I know this because one day there was quite the deluge outside. It was pouring so hard that a person would have been totally soaked in approximately 2 seconds. I was nice and dry indoors and while I watched the rain pouring down, a truck pulled up in front of my house. Soon the tree-waterer had the hose out and was diligently watering the boulevard tree. I was impressed with his dedication…and amazed at a system which would send someone out to water trees when it seemed the tree was already getting plenty of moisture by natural means. I’m sure the tree-waterer felt his job was redundant that day.

Tell us about something you’ve done or witnessed that turned out to be totally unnecessary.

I Ain’t Got Time To Bleed

Header image by Kathleen Tyler Conklin via Flickr – Creative Commons 2.0

Today’s post comes from Wessew

I cut myself again today.

I mention “again” as cuts are an all too frequent occurrence in the flooring installation trade. There are sharp thingys everywhere just waiting to deliver a laceration. This time it was the sheet vinyl itself that I mishandled resulting in what can be described as a paper cut that bleeds. But, as Governor Ventura famously said in the movie Predator, “I ain’t got time to bleed”, so I put a dab of antiseptic on the wound and covered it with duct tape. (I confess to have watched too many Red Green Shows) The damage today was minimal. No sutures required.

On one occasion I had just finished gluing a floor in an empty rental apartment and stood up to roll the material into the wet adhesive. Unfortunately, the stove exhaust vent got in the way and delivered unto me a nasty gash in my scalp. I had no choice but to take my shirt off for use as a compress and finish that part of the job one-handed.

Scalp wounds bleed A LOT but I had no time to bleed as the flooring material needed to get into fresh adhesive. The emergency room gave me a dozen sutures that day. Duct tape would not have been effective in this case.

Another notable cut happened when I was cleaning a glue-coated trowel. The material had to be scraped off, so I was using a razor sharp, four inch wide, half inch deep wall paper scraper. It slipped and my left thumb got in the way. It was bad. Very bad. About two inches long and a quarter of an inch deep. I squeezed it together and proceeded to the emergency room which was one sixteenth of an inch away; just behind a sheet of plastic. It comes in handy to sometimes work in a hospital. They didn’t even make me wait and
fill out the paperwork. From the time of the accident to the time the doctor gave me a local anesthetic, was less than five minutes. The doctor and I chatted a bit as he worked on me and I casually enquired when I would be able to play the piano. For some reason he didn’t see the punchline coming because he said, “Probably in two days”. To which I replied, “Two days? Wonderful. I never could before.” His assistant practically fell on the floor laughing. He groaned and gave me an extra stitch.

What keeps you in stitches?


Today’s post comes from Jacque

Many of you on the Trail have seen the books I make for my mother for Christmas. Several of the books I have posted on the Trail.   For those of you who are new to the Trail or might have missed the previous posts I will tell you the story of the stories.

tootie-pumps-waterDuring the summer of 1984 Mom, who was then a teacher, took a course given by the Iowa Writers’ Workshop to update her teaching license. The Iowa Writers’ Workshop sponsored these courses throughout Iowa. She attended her class at Morningside College in Sioux City, Iowa.   Writing memoirs was the topic. My mother wrote her stories of growing up on a farm near Pipestone, MN during the Great Depression, in a family of eight children.

going-north-to-the-outhouseIn 2008 and 2009, after Mom was diagnosed with Alzheimers Disease,   she moved out of her home to live with my brother in Central Iowa. I drove down for the weekends, picked her up, and we would be off to her house to sort through her belongings. I made a note to myself to find the stories. Mom had told us her stories throughout our childhoods, including these. We knew they were in her house, but as her memory for things faded, she forgot where she stored them.

chamber-ptTucked away in a file were the stories she had written 22 years before.

I co-opted them. As her Christmas gifts from 2009 to this year, I adapted one story per year to a children’s book. You can find all of them posted on the Bookemon website. The one I post here took me two years to complete due to life’s demands. This one is called “Potty Talk” about life on a farm without the modern plumbing we now have.

Follow this link to see the book.

Most families have potty stories. Do you have one?

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