There’s a rule for that

I’m at the beach, not doing any editing or design on my soon-to-be-published Lichtenbergianism: procrastination as a creative strategy, nor even on the placement map for Alchemy, just reading, doing crossword puzzles, and generally basking. The book I just finished is Jingo, one of Terry Pratchett‘s brilliant Discworld novels, and though it was written in 1997 its take on jingoism, war, and especially immigrant Others is disturbingly on point.

But that’s not why we’re here today.  This passage:

[The incompetent Lord Rust is speaking, about to lead his non-army into an epic Light Brigade blunder] “Glory awaits, gentlemen.  In the words of General Tacticus, let us take history by the scrotum.  Of course, he was not a very honorable fighter.”

…reminded me of a Bible verse.

Wait, where are you going?  I can explain myself.

The Talibaptists think gay people are squicky, and they will refer to Leviticus 18:22 and 20:13 as their prooftexts.  In return, otherwise sane people will refer to equally outdated prohibitions about shrimp and tattoos. Very occasionally, the wryer among us will throw in Deuteronomy 25:11–12.  You’re not familiar with that particular rule?


 If two men are fighting with each other—a man and his fellow Israelite—and the wife of one of them gets into the fight, trying to save her husband from his attacker and does so by reaching out and grabbing his genitals, you must cut off her hand. Show no mercy.

I mean to say, wot?  It’s as if Rule 34 applied to the Holy Book.

Before we get to my main point, let me say that I did a little reading of some explanations of this bizarre dictum and it actually does make a kind of sense in context. Elsewhere in Deuteronomy there are rules about a man whose testicles have been damaged no longer being able to enter the Temple, i.e., he’s no longer One of Us.  His entire family would suffer.  So a woman who did that to a man would have committed a truly serious crime.[1]

Often, when confronted with examples like this of outrageous Old Testament “laws,” the Talibaptists will wiggle and wriggle and contort themselves into pretzels to “explain” them away.  If you’ve ever had to listen to them, it provides good exercise for your eyebrows and pursed lips. Surprisingly, though, I found an exegesis that was sensible; it would be a miracle indeed if the Talibaptists threw their main weight behind its argument, which is that the point of the rule was to prevent and/or punish anyone who made it impossible for a man to support his family.  That includes corporations not paying an appropriate wage.

I mean to say, wot?

Anyway, my main point is this: just how often did this happen that there had to be a rule for it?  It’s like the warning labels that infest our lives: Don’t use this hair dryer in the shower. This chef’s knife is not meant to be used as a screwdriver. That kind of thing. It’s a given Stand-Up Comic’s Take that these warnings exist because SOME IDIOT DID THE THING, KENNETH, so what was the deal in ancient Israel?  First of all, were the men always wrestling, and if so, why were their testicles even in evidence?[2]

And had it become a problem that wives would throw themselves into the arena to give their husbands an assist?  What was this, the Judean Federation of Wrestling?[3]  I mean to say…

This realization puts the prohibitions of Deuteronomy and Leviticus in a whole new light.  They’re just warning labels.  For stupid people.

You’re welcome.


[1] That’s just context.  The entire mindset is stupid.

[2] …nudity also being a huge shanda for the Chosen People.

[3] Not to be confused with the Judean Wrestling Federation[4]

[4] You’re welcome.

Still weird to me

The other day, my Lovely First Wife went to the Kroger together, which is not always as rollicking an adventure as you might think.  I, as a male-type man, have a list of three items, and so naturally one goes in and gets three items and is on one’s way.  She, on the other hand, will need one item—a bag of lettuce, let us say—and yet will push a cart up and down every aisle.  One must look and see “what they have.”

On this occasion I was willing to play along, and so we began to mosey through the produce section.  It is important for you to realize that we were at the “old” Kroger; in Newnan we have three, the original “old” Kroger in town, the “new” Kroger out a little ways past the interstate, and then the “other” Kroger way out in the middle of the exurban enclaves towards Peachtree City.

In town, we have the old Kroger.  We are allowed to call it the ghetto Kroger; those who live out with the “other” Kroger are not.

So there we are in the produce section of the old Kroger, and we are both struck suddenly that we are looking at jackfruit.  We don’t know we are looking at jackfruit—we have to look at the tag.

We were astonished.  These things are about the size of a football, and the label reminds you to wear gloves when you cut them open, since the alligator-like skin apparently will lacerate you.

Perhaps you have already heard of jackfruit.  We had not, and in fact it was only when I went to find a picture—because I assumed that no one would know what it was—that I discovered that it’s a thing now?  Serves us right for not being vegans.

Here, have a sampling of headlines:

So that was weird enough, but this post is not about jackfruit.  It was just a symptom.  Because the jackfruit had stopped us in our tracks, we paused to see what else was there.  We found three different brands of kiwi, and two versions of coconut.  Coconuts.  In Newnan.

We’ve had this weird feeling before, and I blogged about it before: the options available to us in our grocery stores in no way resembles what was available to our parents.  Perhaps your parents—and here, by “parents” I mean “mother”—cooked everything from fresh with amazing ingredients from all over the world, but my mother, faced with feeding five kids, used every shortcut, every canned item, every pre-processed food she could.

I, on the other hand, can wander down the condiment aisle and be amazed by:

Peruvian Aji Amarillo?  And what on earth is Shichimi Togarashi?  Where’s the Tabasco™ Sauce?

Okay then.  We have our choice of aiolis.


We have choices for finishing sauces. FINISHING SAUCES, KENNETH.

Astute readers will notice that not only are there amazing, fabulous choices for condiments in the ghetto Kroger in Newnan, GA, but these are all store brands.  (Full disclosure: we have found that Kroger’s Private Selection items are pretty awesome.)

But even so…

…I have a choice between two roasted raspberry chipotle sauces.

Here’s the deal.  I know there are segments of the population who might grumble that if canned potatoes were good enough for Mom (and Tabasco™ sauce for Dad), then they’re good enough for me.  But I say huzzah—how wonderful that I have these choices, even in the ghetto Kroger of Newnan, GA.  It’s almost as if our nation looked around and decided that there was value in diversity.

::mic drop::

A useless post

This post contains useless information unless you need it and then omg it will change your life.

First, as all right-thinking people know, the Blackwing 602 pencil is the nonpareil of writing instruments.  All the best people use them.  When they went out of production in 1998, a nation grieved, but a couple of years ago Palomino revived them and we can all once again write with the same pencil as Stephen Sondheim.

One of the nifty design elements of the pencil is its eraser.

It is held in the ferrule by a little aluminum clip, and the idea is that as you wear the eraser down you can pull it out, move the eraser up, and pop it back in. The clip will hold the extended eraser in its new position.

You can see the theory here:

However, the two little indentations in the clip do not actually hold the eraser in place.  Any attempt to erase your mistakes pushes the eraser back down into the ferrule.

So here’s your life-changing tip of the day: take a small nail and dunch those indentations in a wee bit.

Now your clip has actual teeth and will hold the eraser in place as you write the lyrics for the next Follies.

You’re welcome.

A missing blog post

I swear I thought I had blogged about this two years ago, but either my MySQL database is borked or I am delusional—none of the key words I’m about to write show up in a search of this blog.

This is a ceramic piece sitting in our living room.  Yesterday an old friend who was visiting noticed it and asked me about it, and since I can never remember the artist’s name, I came to the blog to search for it.  As I’ve said, no such blog post exists despite my bestest memory, so I’ll now tell you the story behind the piece.

Two years ago, my Lovely First Wife and I were in Asheville, soaking in the ambience.  We went into Blue Spiral 1 Gallery downtown, looked at all the nice art, went downstairs, looked at more nice art, and that’s when we saw this piece.

I should say at this point that the photo here is not mine; I pulled it from a Pinterest page in the UK, of all places.  But it is my piece, although it is secured not with twine but with airplane cable.  Bolted.  Hold that thought.

The name of the piece is Cremains Vessel No. 5.  We really liked it.  We kept coming back to it.  It was within our price range, and besides, it was an investment.

We went upstairs and asked the young men working behind the front desk if the piece were actually a cremains vessel.  They seemed a little nonplussed, finally stammering out that there weren’t anyone’s ashes in it.

We laughed, which probably seemed odd to them, and I told them that what we were asking was whether the vessel was actually built to hold cremains or was it just, you know, art?  They pretty sure it was an actual vessel.

So we went back to the condo where we were staying and I did some googling and calculating: if we both shriveled a bit in our declining years, plus reserved a cup or so of ashes for scattering/rituals, then we should both fit in there.

We went back the next day and bought it.  I tell people that my LFW finally figured out a way to screw over that whole “till death do us part” thing.

One thing that gave me a frisson was that it was more or less locked shut.  At least one of us would never know what the inside looked like.  Then, on a subsequent visit to Blue Spiral, there was a similar piece by the same artist, and my LFW opened it.  It may be that our piece looks different inside, but I’m thinking the suspense is ruined.

So who is the artist?  We were given a little card with his name and not much more: Don Penny.

I went looking, of course, and was stunned to find that I already knew the man’s work. He was the ceramics professor at Valdosta State University until 1990, and I had seen his work in the faculty display case every summer since 1984.

And then I had an inkling that I knew exactly who he was.   After I called a friend in Valdosta’s music department to go down the hall and read a plaque for me, my suspicions were confirmed: Don Penny was the artist who created the mural in the lobby of Whitehead Auditorium:

2013 GHP Jazz majors playing at the Art majors’ exhibit opening. Don Penny’s clay mural is behind them.

I saw this piece nearly every day of every summer for 30 years.

And in an astounding wallop of synchronicity, I bought a cremains vessel by that very same man, to stick my ashes in.

The story in a nutshell

From a Production Information Sheet I found in a bunch of papers I’m “touching once.”


Show: A Christmas Carol

Decscription: Man likes money; man wakes up; the cripple does not die.


That is all.  I just felt I needed to share that before tossing the paper and never touching it again.

Adventures in spam commenting

I’ve had some lovely spam comments recently.


Never would have thunk I would find this so inaelpensdbsi.

Smart thkinnig – a clever way of looking at it.

Good to find an expert who knows what he’s tanlikg about!

Seriously to all you Libs: EAT A FUCKING DICK.Fuck you all.You will always be pussy pieces of shit not worth the sacrifices many good men and women have made for you.I hope you idiots get hit by a bus.There will never be any renolciciation with you scum of the earth. Never. ——(Note: this was an attempted comment on Five Easier Pieces #4: a start.  I mean to say, wot?)

Put money into brazier as well as panties. If you desire to hide an important dimension amount, you will need to begin from the most important core. A good breast support definitely will carry and help your bust line and draw the interest nearly your greatest real estate. A well-fitted bra may also create the phantasm belonging to the more shapely middle. When you are large-chested, go ahead and reveal your current cleavage with a great push-up and even support brassiere. A new weight losing panty might help minimize progresses in addition to protrudes and help a person’s clothes healthy significantly better. Given that Prada is often a top rated developer model, celebrities have the money to purchase plus show it’s design. Megastars including Nicole Kidman, Nicole kidman, Scarlet Johansson, Gwyneth Paltrow and also Jennifer Aniston all have recently been spotted donning Prada with InStye Magazine. All the developer signifies The movies fashion. Prada also may promote his or her clothing giving specific concepts so that you can super stars to make use of and turn into noticed in it all ——(In response to I don’t even know, which at least was recent.)

Gosh, I wish I would have had that intromafion earlier!

Your cranium must be prietctong some very valuable brains.

Back in school, I’m doing so much lenniarg.


I… I really don’t get it.

The intertubes was not much help:

screen capture from Google books, Hacking: Hacking For Beginners and Basic Security: How To Hack

I understand why you would scramble a word to get past the spam filter—that’s where we got the neologism pron, after all.  But the words being scrambled in the simple sentences above are not going to be on anyone’s watchlist, so there was no need to scramble them.  Plus, as I’ve discussed before, these things don’t even appear to have a link in them, i.e., there’s no trap for you to fall into.  So what gives?

Even more puzzlingly, there must be something embedded in these comments, because otherwise why would the spam filter have gotten most (but not all!) of them?  (The “brazier” one was snagged because the paragraph of gibberish was followed by a torrent of links, always a tip-off.)

Can anyone enlighten me?


Great moments in package design

The other night, while dining at home ‘neath the candle-light — as one does — my eye fell on the matchbox:

Did you see it?  No, not the ludicrous “Fueled by the Diamond™ Ignition System” thing.  The other thing.  The “NEW LOOK!” thing.

I mean to say, wot?

I have a few questions.  Number one, WHO DESIGNS SUCH A THING?  Number two, WHO ASKS FOR SUCH A THING TO BE DESIGNED?

I mean, here’s the old one:

The old one is actually a cleaner design!  I am reminded of the classic “Microsoft Designs the iPod Packaging” video, which if you haven’t seen, you really should.

So I guess the embedded question is WHY?  Why would someone do this?  Sometimes the NEW LOOK! thing is an indicator that the package now contains less Windex or fewer Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups, but that is clearly not the case here. The back of the new box gives us a clue:

There it is: The match tip in this product contains perchlorate materials.  Special handling may apply in California.  With a link. We had to redesign the box to include a hazardous waste warning so that we could continue selling the product in the world’s sixth largest economy.

That’s fine, but the fact remains that the NEW LOOK! blurb is stupendously ridiculous.  I know for a fact — because I know these kinds of things — that not a single soul on this planet of 7 billion people has ever walked down the aisle of a store and stopped, lured in by the promise of a NEW LOOK! on a box of Diamond™ matches, and said, “Hey, honey, come over here!  These matches have a NEW LOOK!  Imma buy me some of them.”  NOT ONE, KENNETH.

This is why the aliens won’t talk to us.

A quick side note:

“Flavor Protect™ Wrapper”?  Really, Land O’Lakes?  Really?  It’s just a wax paper wrapper.  You have to name it?  Market it?  Trademark it?

Now the aliens are just laughing at us.


Margin release, redux

Well, this is embarrassing.

You may recall that I recently wrote a poignant little piece about the charm bracelet charm made from a typewriter key, the MARGIN RELEASE key, to be exact.

It was precipitated by my having spent the day vacuuming up the leaves in my back yard.  Yes, you can do that if your leaf blower has an attachment to turn it into a leaf sucker/mulcher.  Still noisy, but it gives you mulch and it doesn’t give you piles of leaves that you still have to rake up.

But it’s dusty: at the end of the session, both I and my kilt were filthy, in ways and places that I’m sure certain corners of the internet would pay money to see on a regular basis.  It was time to shower and to wash my yard kilt.

Yes, my yard kilt.  It’s the Survival model from Utilikilts, and I’m not linking to it because it’s embarrassingly expensive.  I use it when I work in the yard and when I go Camping with the Hippies™ at burns, so it’s well and truly broken in.

Here’s what it looks like:

It has a little gizmo hanging from a belt loop that lets you hook all kinds of things on it, and so when I wash it I have to be careful to take them off.  Like this little talisman:

Clay, “man in the maze” pattern, bought in Jerome, AZ, in 2015.  Went straight onto my hippie kilt.  It was when I removed this from the little clip in order to wash the kilt that I realized that my MARGIN RELEASE talisman was gone.


If you go back and read the blog post where I lament its going, there’s one sentence—A SENTENCE I WROTE, KENNETH—that kind of jumps out at me.

I bought it to be a talisman on the new Utilikilt I purchased there in Seattle at the flagship store, and I wore it on a little chain attached to a belt loop…

That new Utilikilt that I purchased there in Seattle at the flagship store?  Yeah, about that:

There I am, in Seattle.  At the flagship Utilikilt store.  In the new kilt.  Which is not my yard/hippie kilt.  It is the basic Spartan model.

We’re not even going into the reasons why I own more than one of these expensive masculine unbifurcated garments.  I just do, OK?  The point is that all my annoyance/sadness at losing that little charm turned into squirm-inducing embarrassment when I realized that the MARGIN RELEASE talisman was not on the yard kilt; it was never on the yard kilt; it was always on the Spartan kilt, which I was wearing when I bought the talisman.

Which makes the rest of the sentence just inexplicable:

… along with a little clay talisman of the Man-in-the-Maze design that I got in Jerome, AZ.

Oy.  The first unravelings of a magnificent mind.

The good news is that now I have two MARGIN RELEASE talismans, and I can wear one on my hippie kilt.

Maybe I should get a third one, to wear on my Mockers model kilt:

Dale’s what??

So in my dream, the phrase DALE’S CLEATS flashed upon the screen.

I mean to say, what?

I felt vaguely that it might have something to do with the Backstreet Writers group that I am struggling to get off the ground down at Backstreet Arts, but how?  I’ve never owned a pair of cleats in my life, nor have I ever done anything remotely requiring cleats, even for a moment.

So… digging in?  Running fast?  Pivoting sharply?[1]

It didn’t end there.

A few moments later—in dreamtime, anyway—the phrase Christian auction salmon appeared.  (Both phrases seemed to be printed on the screen.  You know, the screen.)

Well OK then.  Now you’re just messing with me.  I’ll leave the guessing to the Lacanians in our midst and move on to what this phrase reminded me of: placement at a burn.

No, really, and it has nothing to do with Christians, auctions, or salmon. I already told you it was about a burn, remember?

Last fall when I was trying to wrangle a new piece of property into a proper burn, one of the banes of my existence was measuring the land accurately.  I bought a laser rangefinder and that helped, but things like exactly where the Effigy and Temple would go were driving me to distraction.

I had a couple of apps on my phone that claimed to help me pin down the latitude and longitude of wherever I was standing, and you might think that would be all I needed.  Hold that thought.

Anyway, after the burn was over, I discovered a new app: What3Words.  In theory it’s a cool concept: chop up the world into 3×3 meter squares, and assign three random English words to each square.  Why three and not two or even one?  Why not?

But here’s the thing: I already had apps that could pinpoint latitude and longitude down to four or five decimal places.  Why would What3Words be any more accurate?   It wasn’t, but hope springs eternal.

The problem, of course, is the technology I’m using: my phone.  It relies on cell towers and such to locate itself, and that system isn’t accurate enough.  At Alchemy, in Bowdon, GA, for example, we were so close to the Alabama border that some hippies’ cell phones kept switching to Central Daylight Savings time and back.  Consequently, the coordinates on my phone would change every time I went to the property.

The apps weren’t lying to me: they would tell me their accuracy was “within 14 m.,” for example.  Right now, I have one telling me that my location is 0.0005 miles from home while I am sitting in my study.  Not only that, a moment ago I was o.0002 miles from home, in another direction.  I haven’t moved.  You see the problem.

When I downloaded What3Words, I decided to test it out on the center of my labyrinth.  As usual, the results were disappointingly shapeshifty.  Just now, I got the four following combinations:[2]

  • sever.fits.amenity
  • endpoints.fade.bowling
  • relished.crucially.foraged

Not only that, but I don’t recognize any of those combinations as being any that I got on my first use a couple of months ago.

The actual location of the center of the labyrinth is 33.3760 N and -84.8035 W, and I know that because the satellite photo in Maps finally was taken in the winter and you can barely make out the labyrinth from space.  The what3words for that coordinate is perches.mermaid.pelting, which I do recognize as one of the options I got before.  The apps for latitude and longitude do not match those numbers.

So the phone and its attempts at geopositioning are the weak link in any system trying to map a space.  Of course, that’s usually not a problem. If I tell you that my labyrinth is at perches.mermaid.pelting, you’ll land close enough to find it.  (Or maybe not: see footnote 2.) But accurate?  No.

And here’s one pretty hysterical example: as I drove into Alchemy last October for early entry, I noticed that a bank of portapotties were in the middle of a camp’s marked area.  Hm, I thought, and then I rounded the bend and there was another set of portapotties smack dab in the middle of Camp Shameless.  They’re not that shameless, I thought.

When I tracked down the hippie in charge of portapotties, he said that when the portapottie company arrived earlier in the week, he used the latitude/longitude from the online map to show them where to place the banks of facilities.  Ah, I said, the map was visually accurate: if the portapotties were at the intersection of Boulevard One and Boulevard Four on the map, then that’s where they went.  But the coordinates, he kept insisting.  I finally got him to understand that while the coordinates might have been accurate, his phone was not.  He had to move every single bank of potties.

By the way, is not on this planet.  However, is near Watson Lake, Yukon; is near Contramaestre, Santiago de Cuba; and is near Fermont, Quebec.


[1] Marc will no doubt have plenty to contribute on the subject.

[2] Those locations are, respectively, the Dancing Faun in the northwest corner of the labyrinth; near Thompson Falls, Montana (!); on the other side of the fence from the Dancing Faun; near Mount Isa, Queensland (!!)