Saturday, December 26, 2015

Nobody Knows the Baubles I’ve Seen -- The Colonel Carries On #11

by  Tinga Ling and Judith Preeth

God rest ye merry, gentlemen: The carol is addressed to gentlemen of undescribed mood. It expresses the wish that God “rest them merry.” It is not addressed to “merry gentlemen,” expressing a wish that God rest them.

God rest ye bashful, doctoral, dopey, grumpy, happy, sleepy, and sneezy. Excessive devotion to alphabetical order can be a symptom of CDO.

You don't like it when your dentist says, "Oops." In the same way, you don't like it when your psychotherapist says, "Okay, we'll try this new drug on you for three weeks. If it kills you, we'll adjust the dosage. Kidding."

Doc to patient: "Since I'm your surgeon, I'll be right there should anything go wrong."

Where do you see yourself in five years? "Beating lie detectors left and right." (Another in a series of possible answers to common job interview questions.)

Have you any condition that would interfere with your performance on the job or that would require accommodation? "I'm hypersensitive to nanoagressions that are part of a hostile work environment, but that shouldn't matter because you don't have a hostile work environment, do you?"

The fight for the Democratic nomination in 1992 went on for so long  that the New York primary in June actually mattered. The candidates argued less about corn ethanol as in Iowa and more about spending on mass transportation. New Yorkers basked in the golden glow of pander. -- after Gail Collins, phrasemaker.

The New Haven Symphony Orchestra claims to be the fourth oldest in the country. It was formed in 1894 and first performed in January 1895. It is in its 121st year of continuous operation, going right through the Great War and the Even Greater War. It enjoys a relationship with Yale University, and Woolsey Hall is its home venue. The group’s “Pops” incarnation performed its Christmas Extravaganza at the Middletown High School Performing Arts Center on Sunday, December 20, 2015 . Ear candy.

Okay, maybe the first day of Christmas begins at sundown Christmas Eve and the twelfth day ends at sundown January 5. If so, happy second day of Christmas, everybody! (Day after Christmas = Boxing Day, after the quaint Victorian habit of spending that day watching quaint boxing matches on their steampunk TVs).

If we were dreaming of a misty Christmas, our dream came true.

A skeleton walks into a bar. The bartender says, “What’ll you have?” The skeleton says, “A beer and a mop.”

I like the Christmas carol “The March of the Kings,” a French tune for which someone wrote English lyrics set out at the foot of this blog post, with the bits I specially like emphasized. (See a performance at 

Besides its fetch tune, the March has fetch images (re “fetch,” see that differ from those in the usual Christmas carols: a band of sturdy warriors with swords, shields, and bucklers bright, the better to guard the gold, frankincense, and myrrh; the three Kings on white stallions; a daytime caravan guide with a long white beard (Santa in an uncredited role?); and at the end, a foreshadowing of the Crucifixion over the manger scene.

Be a conscientious objector in the war on "Happy Holidays!”

The New Yorker has a weekly “caption this cartoon” contest. The editors pick the top three, and the readers vote for the best of those three. I don't play, because it's out of my league -- the contestants are really good. But in that spirit, herewith a local caption contest, based on the news photo below.

Rules: you submit a caption (one per person) to by midnight at the end of December 30, 2015. I pick three finalists, and you vote for your favorite.

Limits to truth: "We must find a way, taking the best from our own imperfect system and the best from the enemy's imperfect system and forging a system better than either, but still imperfect." For all its humility, that sounds like a justification for mixing the best of mother's apple pies and mud pies.

When your only tool is a trebuchet, every problem looks like a siege.

Just as the test of generalship is managing a retreat so it doesn't become a rout, life may boil down to the art of choosing between evils, like ironing shirts or no-iron shirts. (First world example.)

Instant quality-of-life quiz: are you better off or worse off than a beached whale?

Go ask Alice. I don't think she'll know, but you may find the process of asking fundamentally transforming.

If you can figure out who is going to such lengths to keep you from learning the Bliss of Evil, you'll know exactly where you stand.

Two Zennish words: “Unself yourself.”

A rash of advice:

Enter your car’s VIN at for a cornucopia of encoded information.

Don’t engine-brake. Use your brakes. Brake pads are cheaper than trannies.

Meet arriving passengers at "Departures" and beat the crowds. Don’t share this tip with anyone or everyone will do it, and the benefit will be blunted.

Get your next driver’s license “verified” by the DMV or you’ll have airport trouble starting in 2017.

Foam earplugs from the drug store are cheap and protect your hearing from airplane noise when you fly. They also enhance meditation by making your breathing audible.

The middle seat passenger gets dibs on both armrests, because his or her fate is so miserable.

Put ribbon, colored tape, or bright yarn on your luggage for quick and sure ID at the carousel.

Unwrinkle your clothes in the hotel bathroom. Steam them by running the shower at the hottest water temp available. You can't shower at the same time, because you’d scald yourself.

If the hotel comforter (duvet) is too much blanket, remove its cover, and use the cover as your light blanket.

Airplane air is dry, dry, dry. Keep your body hydrated, but not by booze, which further dehydrates you.

Keep your natural peanut butter in the fridge upside down so the oil "rises" to the bottom of the jar. Then when you take it out to mix it up and use it, the mess is much less than if the oil were on top.

Leave your butter out of the refrigerator so it gets and stays soft. It won’t spoil for weeks. But it may grow to taste funny if exposed to too much light and oxygen, so keep it in an opaque covered butter dish.

Rinse your fresh mushrooms in water. Ignore the conventional wisdom that mushrooms soak up water like a sponge and then won’t cook properly. Tests show otherwise. So eschew wiping or brushing each mushroom individually, and get dinner on that much sooner.

Get garlic husks off quickly by putting the garlic bulbs into a hard container like a pot with a lid or two metal bowls mouth to mouth and shaking them hard for 15 seconds or so. You’ll find the garlic naked of its husks.

Ground beef should be flattened and the flattened pieces put into individual ziplock bags before freezing. This makes for easier stacking in the freezer, faster freezing, and faster thawing.

To know if an egg is hard-boiled or not, twirl it on your countertop. If it spins, it’s hard-boiled, if not, it’s raw.

To know if an egg is rotten, put it in a bowl of water. If it sinks, it’s okay to eat. If it floats, no bueno (that’s Spanish for “no good”), thanks to the gas that has accumulated inside the eggshell.

Spicy food burns the mouth thanks to oil from hot peppers, capsaicin oil. Water won’t quench the fire, nor beer, which is mostly water. Here’s what will: non-spicy oil (e.g. olive oil, peanut butter), bread, rice, alcohol (as in vodka, not beer).

Online timer. In a Google search bar, type set timer for 5 min (or any other period of time). A countdown timer box appears, with a start/stop toggle box and a reset button. At zero, your device plays a persistent sound, unless you’ve clicked the "mute" icon.

Rescue greens from death. Cabbage, chard, kale, lettuce, etc. all wilt over time, turning dark and slimy, not because they’re rotting, but because they’re dehydrating. You can reanimate them by soaking them in lukewarm water for a half hour or so. Then rinse them in cold water and marvel at their restored attractiveness and crispness.

Light many candles from a single “match.” Use a spaghetti stick as a long match. It burns with a steady, even flame for quite a while.

Use glass bowls (and rectangular dishes) with airtight lids (Anchor, Kinetic, Pyrex, Rubbermaid, Snaplock). You can freeze, microwave, serve, and store with them. Wash one container rather than four. When you store leftovers in them, you can see the contents and also stack the containers. You use less wrap because of the airtight lids.

A better way to peel a banana is to pinch the black crusty end point (the "bottom," although in fact bananas grow upwards). This should split it. Now tug the peel away. Result: no mushy first bite, no stringy bits.

--credit: "Pogue's Basics: Life"

In conclusion, the above-promised lyrics.

The March of the Kings

This great day, I met upon the way
The kings of east as they came riding proudly,
This great day, I met upon the way
The kings of east in all their fine array.
The gifts of gold, frankincense and myrrh,
Were guarded close by a band of sturdy warriors,
Their swords, their shields, and their bucklers bright
Agleam and sparkling in the morning light.

Kings all three, such splendid men must be,
For each is brilliant as a golden sunrise,
Kings all three, such splendid men must be,
Who on white stallions ride, a King to see.
They all obey him who leads by day,
But every night by a star they have been guided;
They all obey him who leads by day,
His long white beard is seen from far away.

Ah, now I hear the sound of music clear,
A page is singing with a voice of silver,
Now I hear the sound of music clear,
Such singing never heard I far or near.
Oh, tell me why, in a stable nigh,
They stoop so low to a baby in a manger,
Tell me why, in a stable nigh,
They worship Him who on a cross will die.

This great day, I met upon the way
The kings of east as they came riding proudly,
This great day, I met upon the way
The kings of east in all their fine array.
Oh, tell me why, in a stable nigh,
They stoop so low to a baby in a manger,
Tell me why, in a stable nigh,
They worship Him who on a cross will die.

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