What's in a Word?


As many of those reading my “rants and raves” know, I try my best to write comical things on my blog – things that will make us smile and hopefully laugh. Anything to start our day off on a positive versus negative note. 

Now as I understand it, the singular “they” is a pronoun used to refer to a person whose gender identity is nonbinary, (the folks at Merriam-Webster.com dictionary declared the word “they” as the word for 2019). The gender- neutral pronoun is used in place of “he or she”. At the same time the word “they” was added, the word “themself“ was added as well.

With that thought in mind I decided to put together a little piece ‘spoofing’ (not sure that is a word, but hey – go with it for the moment) what this decision may have meant back in the day when say Harper Lee’s “To Kill a Mockingbird” was written and subsequently published. In my humble opinion, what follows is my interpretation as to how Harper Lee’s first paragraph might have read were the words “he or she” replaced with the singular “they or themself.”  

First paragraph from the book as originally written:

When he was nearly thirteen, my brother Jem got his arm badly broken at the elbow. When it healed, and Jem’s fears of never being able to play football were assuaged, he was seldom self-conscious about his injury. His left arm was somewhat shorter than his right; when he stood or walked, the back of his hand was at right angles to his body, his thumb parallel to his thigh. He couldn’t have cared less, so long as he could pass and punt.

Same first paragraph from the book but now using the singular “they” (The gender- neutral pronoun used in place of “he or she”) or “themself.” Although as you read the following paragraph, you might, like me, ask yourselves – how do I handle the words “his” or “her” as that too must be addressed now that we have chosen to use “they” in place of “he” or “she”. 

When they was nearly thirteen, my brother Jem got themself’s arm badly broken at the elbow. When it healed, and Jem’s fears of never being able to play football were assuaged, they was seldom self-conscious about themself’s injury. They’s left arm was somewhat shorter than they’s right; when they stood or walked, the back of they’s hand was at right angles to they’s body, they’s thumb parallel to they’s thigh. They couldn’t have cared less, so long as they could pass and punt.

I tried different versions of this bouncing back and forth between “they” and “themself” and well, to be quite frank, neither one made sense to me once the paragraph was done. As Merriam-Webster writes, “English famously lacks a gender-neutral singular pronoun to correspond neatly with singular pronouns like everyone or someone, and as a consequence they has been used for this purpose for over 600 years.” While that may be true, I for one am not sure the word “they” or “themself” for that matter serves the purpose intended for. Personally, I myself would find it difficult to read books written using the word “they” and/or “themself” as outlined above. But, hey, to each their own!

Okay, done ranting and raving for today.

Until next time!

Poop Talk!

“I didn’t do it!”

As we know, most animals, including our best friend – the dog – are vegetarian. As a result, after they have eaten, their poop forms what are known as fecal balls. I am sure you have watched your pet poop more times than you care to mention and would agree, that many times their poop forms what one might call fecal balls. Think of a Zen garden – you know what I am talking about. These lovable furry creatures of ours poop out these fecal balls that gently cascade out of their butts like they would in a zen pebble garden fountain. I know, this isn’t always the way. There are times that they occasionally get sick, and like us, get diarrhea, etc. which does stain their fur and irritate their butt. True – not fun for either them or us. 

But not all animals are vegetarians, if they aren’t vegetarians, they are considered carnivores. How does this make a difference? Well, let us just say that carnivore poop is many magnitudes grosser than vegetarian poop. Think of your childhood bunnies. Their poop came out like little raisinets and wasn’t that hard to clean up after. But, thinking of your furry tabby cat – well, let’s just say that “tabby” can clear the room just by dropping a single solidary turd. Thinking about carnivores and their diet, they don’t need all the roughage we eat because if you think about it, they get some of their roughage by eating the fur and sinew of its prey not to mention all the fur they ingest with their own grooming habits.

We humans are omnivorous, eating just about whatever is placed in front of us today. Some of us are better about eating roughage, vegetables, etc., than others. But what possibly comes from eating high  protein and high carbohydrates? Quite possibly we will eventually experience what are known as the   Jackson Pollock shits (the phrase refers to the way in which Jackson Pollock painted – just splattering paint everywhere – our letting loose would be like splattering the toilet bowl with poop or diarrhea.

Let’s think about our anatomy for a minute – we are considered bipedal meaning we have well developed gluteal muscles that actually infringe on the anal playing field. I am not a hockey player but let’s just say that it would be like playing field hockey in a back alley. What this means is that you will be able to do it but you are going to hit the walls a lot with the puck. Quadrupeds have a different muscle orientation. Their muscle mass is to the side (versus directly behind). How do we bypass this anatomic hurdle? By doing what is considered to be a deep squat. What this does is bring our gluteals to the lateral thus clearing the airfield ……..Bombs away! Think about it for a moment.

How many of us sit on our toilet looking at our smart phone while laughing at some comedy via Facebook while trying to do our duty. Problem? Yup – our butt cheeks are squeezed together and well – here comes Jackson Pollock again – we end up painting the walls. With the block almost being opened up we find ourselves trying to eject that final turd with magnum cannon force. And we are doing so while reflexively clenching our puckerino. What does that mean? Well, remember when you were a kid and you wanted to spray your sister when she was trying to look cool while sunbathing with her friends? What do you do – you take the garden hose, put your thumb over the head of the hose and spray her! Got the picture?

Moral of the story – eat your veggies so that should you ever get a flair in your derriere you can cop a proper squat and relax the cracks.

And Yet Another Saying by Buddha


“‘All conditioned things are impermanent’ — when one sees this with wisdom, one turns away from suffering.” – Buddha

As many of you know, several of the things I like to read and write about are new philosophies, intellectual material/traditions and funny stories. I do this in order to see what the wisdom of others can teach me about my own life so that I might share this new-found knowledge with others. Many of the articles I write and share with others is based on this hodgepodge of ideas generated from this mix of material that I continually add to as well as remove bits from.

The quote above talks about impermanence. If you have ever read some of Buddha’s teachings, you will see that one of the beliefs of Buddha is the idea that everything has a life cycle – whether it is an insect, a tree, an animal, or yes, even us humans.

Think about it – all things mentioned comes into being, then grows, ages, withers and decays, and subsequently dies. This belief applies to trees, plants, insects, animals, fish, birds, people, ideas, thoughts, buildings, and so forth. Buddhism would argue that everything in the universe does this – there may be a different time sequence for each item mentioned – but the fact is – eventually everything subsequently dies.

What does this type of thinking tell us? Well, one way of looking at it and when you stop and think about it – is true – tomorrow will be different from today and will consist of a mix of ideas and things that we experience today. All that has changed is that the ideas and things we thought of only yesterday have aged some, as have new ideas and things we might be thinking about as they enter their own cycle of life.

Depressing? Might be! But then who is to dispute the fact that everyone and everything is on an uninterrupted march towards its own demise. We know this! Remember Benjamin Franklin’s comments in a letter to Jean-Baptiste Leroy, in 1789 when he said: “Our new Constitution is now established and has an appearance that promises permanency; but in this world nothing can be said to be certain, except death and taxes.”

Most of us are aware that an end is a natural part of everything – we may not like it – but we are aware of it. Let’s face it – that’s a normal part of life. Why else would we spout on certain occasions – enjoy and appreciate what you have – life is shorter than you think!

But getting back to Buddha’s philosophy – thinking this way makes us truly recognize that nothing was or is permanent.  What better rule or thought to jog us back to reality every day. By acknowledging that nothing in this life is permanent, perhaps we will remember to say: “I love you” to our loved ones more often. In addition to saying things like that more often – we should also make it a habit to do the things that are truly important to us now rather than later. By accepting this philosophy, we might just appreciate today more. In addition, we will appreciate the little things in life more and more as well.

One of the things I love about where we are right now is the fact that in the morning I can sit outside and listen to the quiet, or a robin chirping away as he flitters across the lawn in front of me searching for breakfast. And then there is the wind whistling through the trees or watching the different clouds make their way across the sky while I try to determine what the shapes might be.  But as was stated in Buddha’s quote, “All conditioned things are impermanent,” The robin will eventually grow older, may become a parent or fly away; the squirrel may scamper across someone else’s lawn; and the lowly bumble bee may fly off to yet another flower to pollinate.   The wind may die down and not even a leaf will flutter and the clouds will either move on or dissipate leaving no sign of ever having been there.  More reasons to enjoy these things now.

In the summertime we spend quite a bit of time in our air- conditioned house but on occasion enjoy the warmth of the sun on our skin when venturing outside.  Truth is that the sun on our skin feels so warm and enjoyable when we go outside we fail to realize that there may come a time in our lives where we may no longer be able to go outside and feel the warmth of the sun on our bodies comforting us from the coolness of the air-conditioned room which we had just left. We age and time marches on.

The point I am trying to make is just this: These are merely some of the reasons for appreciating what we have in the here and now.  Were one to make a list of the many experiences we enjoy every day, experiences like the smell of fresh bread baking in an oven, the feel of that favorite pen gliding over the paper as we make our first journal entry for the day, the smell of the outdoors after a spring rain, even the soreness of our bodies after we have stretched for fifteen or so minutes upon awakening in the morning, we might just recognize how lucky we have it.  These are the things we should appreciate each and every day. While they may be little joys – now is the time to slow down and enjoy them for we won’t always be able to do so.

While we may not be getting any younger – that is no reason to say we shouldn’t enjoy now all the little experiences we can that make us happy.

Until next time!

Frame of Mind

When I woke this morning, I wasn’t in the best frame of mind. I thought to myself, this is going to be one of those so-so days and contemplated rolling over and going back to sleep. But the more I lay there, my mind tended to roam to places I never intended it to roam to.

I pictured various scenes, scenes like a very overweight individual out and about shopping; the conditions of various individuals in the doctor’s office where we recently had our follow-up checkup regarding some blood work drawn the week prior. I also pictured the guy looking for a hand-out on the corner with his sign indicating he hadn’t eaten in quite a while. My thoughts roamed all over the place. They took me overseas to our military and I thought of the young recruit in a faraway land weighted down with about 65 pounds of military gear in addition to the weight of the weapons he must carry with him to be safe.

What do all these scenarios have to do with me and my temporary (yes, temporary) attitude. Just this – it didn’t take much thought after reminiscing about scenarios such as those just mentioned to – how shall I put this “Wake up and smell the roses or in my case the coffee!”

Scenes like those just mentioned made me realize just how good many of us have it. As I looked around our bedroom, I seen nothing but items that reminded me of all the fun and good times we had acquiring what it is we wake up to each and every day. I also gave thought to the knowledge that once I did get up and go to the kitchen, it wouldn’t be long before I am sitting there – still in my pajamas drinking a cup of coffee looking out the window hoping to see a glimpse of the sun rising.

We are fortunate enough to go to bed at night and not have to wonder where our next meal is coming from. Or worry constantly about some type of physical impairment or disease we wrestle with every day and wondering about how we are going to get out of bed and manage whatever it is we have to do today. Nor are we  in the military stationed in some foreign country or war-torn area where nomatter how we feel when we wake we do not have the luxury of waking up and saying: Oh, I don’t feel like this is going to be a good day – that’s it – think I will just roll over and go back to sleep. The list that flashed through my mind was endless.

Am I saying that “we don’t have bad days?” Nope, we all do. But what I am saying is that when we think to ourselves – “Why me?” or “What am I to do with myself, how am I to cope?” stop for a moment and just give thought to all the other people in the world that do not have what you have at this particular moment in time. Doing that simple task may be all you need to get your backside out of bed and make the best of what you have. After all, isn’t that what everyone else has to do.

To coin a phrase that sort of sums it up and by the way – just sitting down and writing this short piece put me in a much better frame of mind – “Suck it up, Buttercup” because when you get right down to the “nitty gritty” of it, things could be a lot worse!

Until next time!

As Time Goes By


I recently was reading some of the selected writings of Laura Ingalls Wilder and came across the following: It was entitled – “The Stream of Years.”

“Though old age has gray hair and twinges of rheumatism, remember that childhood has freckles, tonsils, and measles. The stream of passing years is like a river with people being carried along in the current. Some are swept along protesting. Others go with the current freely.”

This got me to thinking about some of the old TV series we used to watch and how at times, if you got right down to thinking about it, we could make a correlation between what the writing behind some of those shows had in common with some of what is going on today and how we, as a people tend to address the handling of it.

For instance, take the show M*A*S*H. Watching reruns of this show with the likes of Capts. Benjamin “Hawkeye” Pierce, “Trapper John” McIntire, Majs. Margaret “Hot Lips” Houlihan and Frank Burns, and Cpl. Walter “Radar” O’Reilly, always tends to bring a smile to my face and even though it was about war, some of the best writing in television history was made with the writing of this show.  My thoughts are that this show correlates with a lot of what is going on in the world today. 

Think about it. Many of us find ourselves in impossible predicaments all the time and in many instances, they are situations over which we have little control. Oh, I don’t mean that we are over in a war-torn country and face those dangers day in and day out. But in today’s world there is always the possibility that we may find ourselves in the wrong place at the wrong time (recent mass shootings) or we may be told we have some nasty disease over which the doctors cannot control and our days are numbered.

The question becomes, how do we handle it? Our best hope/solution is that we will never be in such a situation. But being the age we old geezers are, the question that weighs heavily on our minds is: “Can we get out of the way of either of these situations?” Truth be told, the answer is probably “No”. Why, because no one can predict the future.  

So, if you too, are a fan of M*A*S*H, like I was and still am, you will recall, Hawkeye had his own unorthodox way of handling most situations he became involved in. Remember, he didn’t ask to be in the war, let alone Korea, especially being a doctor as he was. How did he handle it?  As we seen in the shows, Hawkeye makes the best of his life by lots of heavy drinking, carousing with the nurses, and his never-ending pranks he comes up with to get a rise out of those around him, especially the unpleasantly stiff and callous Major Frank Burns and/or Major “Hot Lips” Houlihan. He does this, (getting stoned) to avoid the truth of where he is, whenever possible (remember his beloved martinis that he used to conjure up in the tent he shared with B. J. Hunnicut). If you will recall they made their own homemade gin. Deep down inside, Hawkeye was a decent sort of guy and in my opinion one of the more memorable characters in the series.  

So, what can we do to protect ourselves in such a world today? We cannot stop going shopping or to restaurants for fear someone may shoot us. Nor can we worry about coming down with some dreaded disease. Each of our bodies are different and each handles the daily eating, working, sleeping, resting and so forth we do day in and day out in our own different ways. We need to take each day as it comes and go with the flow. Should we be diagnosed with some curable or even non-curable disease, best thing we can do for ourselves and our loved ones, is to take the advice of the doctor and follow their instructions to the best of our ability. In other words, stay informed about what the disease is and how it affects us and well, just deal with it. As for the shopping or going out to eat, most of us old folk, enjoy going to public places to shop and/or eat and we cannot stop doing that. What we need to get in the habit of is to be a bit more vigilant about our surroundings while we are out and about.  

I myself, find writing helps and thus the reason I keep a daily journal although truth be told, seeing that we are home more than we are out and about, I am certain my personal journal would be boring to the average reader. As much as I don’t really like the idea I am about to mention, fact is that we must be more like turtles. If you will recall, turtles have that outer shell designed to protect themselves and we too need to create what might be called an outer shell to protect us, if you will, from the life that goes on outside our own little world.

As I mentioned, I like to write and for me – researching and writing about wild and crazy comical things takes my mind off the weird stuff that is happening in our world today. It also gives me a lot of personal satisfaction when someone says to me: “I enjoyed your quip on Facebook this morning – keep it up.” Or when I get a comment or two about a monthly article I write for our community newsletter saying how much the article was enjoyed. At this stage of my life, I would have to say there are three things that get me out of bed every morning in spite of what all is going on in the world around me and those three things are: Family, My Writing, and Line dancing.

There are some other shows I truly miss – shows like the Beverly Hillbillies, The Honeymooners, Laugh-In, and who can’t forget the Carol Burnett Show. Now they were shows that made you forget both your personal troubles and those of the world. Why? Because they made you laugh yourself silly. The perfect way to end a day. But wait, there is also one more show (an oldie but a goodie) that we recently came across – well it has been a few months now – and that is “As Time Goes By” with Dame Judy Dench and Geoffrey Palmer. This by far is one of our favorite bedtime TV shows to watch. Watching this show enables us to go to bed with a smile on our face knowing that tomorrow is another day. One day at a time or as the title of the show reads – “As time goes by!”

Until next time!