1 Unimportant announcement: effective immediately after the end of this sentence, The Colonel will no longer refer to himself in the third person in this space. We never liked using the third person -- it smacked of Weickerian pomposity. From now on, it’s the plain old down-home unpretentious first person for us.
2 Factette: Cranberry juice is mildly addictive, but we could give it up if we really wanted to.
3 War story: Elizabeth Bobrick’s comment appreciating parents who hassle teachers about the grades given the parents’ little darlings reminds us (The Colonel) of when we taught an undergraduate course in -- let’s call it morology. The department chairman inquired after a few weeks how it was going, and we told him the worst part was devising tests and doing grading. He almost fell off the floor. “You’re not making up your own tests, are you? Didn’t I give you the companion volume to the textbook with all the quzzes and tests?” He had not. “You want to use these and these alone. If you make up your own and parents come after you, you’re naked. Use these and it’s on the publisher.”
4 Geography time: Hoste is the island on which the southernmost trees on the planet grow. It’s just south of Tierra del Fuego. Trees are exported from there to places with similarly harsh climates, like the Faroe Islands (between Scotland and Iceland), where wimpier trees won’t grow. The imported trees act as windbreaks and reduce soil erosion.
5 Linguistics time: Everyone knows about the sound change by which Latin says pater and German says Vater (English father). Lots of clues show that Latin and German are related. Less well known are clues that show that Latin and Greek are related. For example, the “p” sound in Greek is often the “kw” sound in Latin: Greek hippos, Latin equus (English horse). Etymological and linguistic detective work can be fun, as when you discover that Berenice and Veronica are the same name.
☻ Don’t name your daughter “Veronica Berenice” unless you work for the Department of Redundancy Department (Dept. of DORD) and tend to bring work home.☻ Don’t name your daughter “Cynthia” unless you are prepared to explain to her in later years why you named her “dog goddess” in Greek.
☻ If you’re Greek, don’t name your daughter “Kori” because it means “daughter.”
☻ If you’re Irish, don’t name your daughter “Colleen” because it means “girl.”
6 Blow your mind: one way to jump-start river access is a ground-level pedestrian crosswalk at the Washington Street intersection with Route 9, with a walk light added to the existing traffic signals. Similar things are ho-hum in New York and San Francisco.
7 An editor (not Karen Swartz) who wanted brief expressions of viewpoints once roared, “Short views! Give me short views!” We thought of that when reading John Adams’s review of Common Sense, Thomas Paine’s famous attack on hereditary monarchy: “What a poor, ignorant, malicious, short-sighted, crapulous mass.”
8 “Carlos Danger” is Anthony Weiner’s dongelgänger.
9 Happiness runs in a circular motion, like a sharknado. Fun is made of climate chaos deniers, but what of climate chaos ultra-believers, who do their sums and conclude it’s way too late to avert the carnage of the next several centuries. All the wind power, cap-and-trade, and other initiatives you can imagine will begin to show results in the 2400s, or if we’re really stringent, in the 2300s. See the space pictures of icecap-free Greenland releasing into the atmosphere megatons of methane, the greenhouse-effect accelerator gas. We strut and fret our hour on the stage before the stage collapses. In 200 years, the world population will be down to two billion, so eat, drink, and be merry while ye may.
10 And exactly how, we ask, are we to strut and fret that last hour? A few suggestions we gathered from various sources:
☻ Write letters to the editor about misspellings, dangling participles, and the humorous effects of poor punctuation.
☻ Learn Spanish, the likely language of the afterlife.
☻ Eat, drink, and be merry while ye may.
☻ Agitate for wind and solar power subsidies, worldwide cap-and-trade treaties, and strict limits on coal and other fossil fuels, in hopes of making life better for the lads and lasses in the twenty-fourth and twenty-fifth centuries, when the Great Kerfuffle is over.
☻ Get serious about permanent bases on the moon and Mars, as well as building space habitats.
☻ Since we now know that there are hundreds of billions of galaxies and the odds are overwhelming for intelligent life “out there,” broadcast a letter asking for a loan of just enough to tide us over till we need more.
☻ Pray. Okay, we decided prayer doesn’t work that Christmas we didn’t get the pony, but the sample may have been inadequate. Homer Simpson: “I’m not normally a praying man, but if you’re up there, please save me, Superman.”
☻ Throw yourself on the mercy of the Anarch: “Oh, my [goodness]! [Climate chaos!] Don’t eat me! I have a wife and children! Eat them!” (Homer again -- Homer Simpson, not the Sightless Seer of Ancient Greece who was put to death for corrupting the young and writing the works of Shakespeare).
☻ Sue. Sue to the right, sue to the left, sue in front, sue behind, sue above, sue below. Any attorney will do, but sue and sue and sue. Be sure, however, it’s on contingency.
☻ Fatten your kids up even more, in case the End Times resemble the Donner Expedition or the Peruvian Air Crash.
☻ Keep your sunny side up. The End of Days can be a tough row to hoe unless you keep a sense of humor -- if not about widespread human tragedy, at least about yourself.
☻ Ask Monsanto to genetically modify you and your children so you will thrive in the climatically chaotic new world.
☻ Put a copy of the Chicago Manual of Style into a time capsule, so when the Bad Times are over, humanity will again know how to spell, punctuate, and avoid dangling participles.