When I was a graduate student at the University of Pittsburgh my graduate assistantship required me to work in the University Testing Service. My boss, Dr. Fahey, was a tall, craggy-faced ex-Navy man who routinely ate his lunch in the University Faculty Club Dining Room one floor above our offices. We graduate students usually brought a couple of sandwiches which we ate in the cavernous student cafeteria in the basement. More
Variations on a Theme
Watching football is much more meaningful if you have a lexicon to interpret the announcer’s comments. Without such help the viewer will be irretrievably lost:
- Offensive player: Almost all football players are offensive, particularly after losing a game … or even after they win one if you catch them in the locker room before they shower. More
Well, Uncle Horace Scherzer died last week; he was 88 years old but that’s a bit early to go for a Scherzer. Most all Scherzers make it to the late 90s. Of course by then they don’t see too good and most don’t hear at all, but hey they can still breathe in and out and that’s what counts. Doc Patterson said that Horace’s heart just give out, that he shouldn’t have been running at his age. More
Retired college professors must carefully tend to their social life, else it will fade away and eventually vanish. One way to slow this progression is to invite a guest for dinner. Perhaps a new member of the library staff, or a new nurse, or a senior secretary will agree to come, indeed she may be thrilled by the invitation. My invitations, unfortunately, are rarely reciprocated. Perhaps because my women guests are not very sure of their cooking skills, and as I was a marriageable bachelor, they may not want to reveal the paucity of their culinary assets … but who knows? More
I have become a good cook. My specialty is soup. I recall very vividly making my first pot of soup. It was about seventy-five years ago when I was ten years old, but the event is still firmly in my memory. My mother was ill and had taken to her bed. I thought it would be helpful if I made dinner. Soup, I thought, would be a good choice. I got out my mother’s largest pot, put it on the new electric stove and thought about what kind of soup to have. I was familiar with vegetable soup, but we had no vegetable soup. That was not a problem. I would just make it from scratch. More
The convention was shortened due to Hurricane Isaac. That had the advantage of eliminating “The Donald” who was rumored to have had a speaking slot. Sometimes less is more, as when Bush 43 spent close to a third of his presidency on vacation … to the considerable benefit of the country.
Opening night gave us Mrs. Romney, whose mission it was to convince us that hers was not a storybook marriage and that Mitt was a loving, caring, generous, thoughtful man. She mentioned her five children and the rigors of caring for them. She spoke of her bout of breast cancer and her current medical issues with MS, which has been in remission for many years. She was loving and sincere but for many families with those health issues there would have been a great concern about doctor and hospital bills. Mrs. Romney never mentioned having a problem paying medical bills. At the end of Mrs. Romney’s peroration Mitt stepped up on stage and they hugged. Their affection for each other was obvious but Mitt’s plastic smile was as unconvincing as ever and I think the viewers were right back where they started. More
Neither President Obama nor Governor Romney is a good politician. Obama came from a background of compromise. That may once have worked in politics; it doesn’t work now. He reached out to the other side only to retract a bloody hand. He should have known better. He also needs to play hardball with his own party people. Lyndon Johnson knew how to do that. How else could he have gotten a civil rights bill through a bunch of southern politicians still worshipping at the altar of Jimmy the Crow? Lyndon at 6’4” would invade your personal space and make you an offer you couldn’t refuse; at least you couldn’t if you wanted to keep your leadership positions. Obama can’t be bothered even to schmooze with his own people. He often won’t even return their phone calls. That is abysmal politics. More
We are told by the business community that they are over regulated, that if business just had fewer regulations the economy would improve and we’d all be richer. Maybe; we certainly have some foolish regulations. For example if you import woolen goods, the duty on knit goods is much higher than the duty on woven goods—and if there are any little logo-style decorations on a garment the duty goes up about 20%. On the other hand if you import the logos in the same package with your jackets and sew them on here, that’s OK. I know about this because I was once in the import business. I’m sure there are many other regulations foisted on an unsuspecting public. Many of these are pushed by industry “A” to benefit themselves and punish their rivals. The winner may depend on who has the best lobbyists. More
Most of my writing is designed to make people smile. I write primarily short essays – a few of them are about fishing. I started fishing when I was about nine years old. “Sucker Fishing” is about that experience. The following one is about fly fishing, that’s much more sophisticated but no more fun than sucker fishing when you’re a kid. More
A positive feedback loop begins when an activity produces a result which increases that activity. The most obvious example is when a microphone feeds into a speaker system which in turn sends sound back into that same microphone. The result is a loud scream that persists until someone covers the microphone and turns down the volume on the speakers.