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One-Liner Wednesday — Winner Takes All

Giants Royals

The greater the obstacles, the greater the victory

― Author Lailah Gifty Akita

After a six month, 162 game regular Major League Baseball season and one-month of post-season playoff games, it all gets down to one game; one winner takes all game.

The team that wins tonight’s game between the San Francisco Giants and the Kansas City Royals will be the team that takes home the big prize — the 2014 World Series trophy.

I’m going to miss the whole thing.

I’ll be on a plane that will depart Atlanta, GA before the game starts and will not land in San Francisco until the game is over. I won’t be able to watch the wonder that is Major League Baseball and the game where everything is on the line.

I won’t know who the winner until after all is said and done. I won’t know whether my newly adopted home town San Franciscans will be celebrating their team’s third World Series win in five years, or will be reciting the old standby, “Wait until next year.”


“This post is part of Linda G Hill’s One-Liner Wednesday series.

 
47 Comments

Posted by on October 29, 2014 in Blogging, Sports

 

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The TelePictionary Game

The original sentence was “The Red Sox are off to a lousy start.” It ended up as “The shaggy llamas paused to watch my nose bleed.”

telephone-gameHow did that happen? And why? It came about when our son suggested some fun and frolic one evening about 4 1/2 years ago when we were all together for a family game night, an all too rare occurrence these days.

He proposed we all play a fascinating game called TelePictionary, which is a hybrid of two great and amusing family-friendly parlor games.

One game is the telephone game, the old standby where one person whispers something into another person’s ear, and that person whispers what he or she heard into the next person’s ear until it gets back to the message originator. The fun is in hearing how the original message always gets mangled in translation from one person to next.

pictionary1The other game is Pictionary. In that game, a player draws a card with a word or phrase on it and is tasked with illustrating that word or phrase effectively enough for his or her teammates to guess what it is.

TelePictionary leverages the best of both the telephone game and Pictionary and it is a hoot!

It starts out with one person writing a brief sentence. The next person in line silently reads the sentence and draws a picture illustrating the sentence. The next player, who doesn’t get to see the original sentence, writes a new sentence describing what he or she sees in the drawing by the second person.

This process continues until every player has either drawn a picture of the sentence he or she sees, or has created a sentence from the drawing he or she was handed. The last player to write a sentence gives it to the player who wrote the original sentence. That player reads aloud the sentence that got the whole round started as well as the final sentence, and shows off the accompanying pictures drawn along the way.

It’s tough to keep a straight face, since the final sentences bear little resemblance to the originals and the pictures people have drawn are simply hilarious.

So just how did we get from the Red Sox getting off to a lousy start to shaggy llamas watching a nose bleed?

The first illustration for the sentence, “The Red Sox are off to a lousy start” was this:

telepic1The next person in line interpreted this to be “The red socks stink.” That’s pretty close, right?

The next illustration was this:

telepic2And that led to the final sentence, where the writer saw in the above picture what appeared to him to be “The shaggy llamas paused to watch my nose bleed.” Seriously? Shaggy llamas?

Marching ants morph into jazzy cats

In another interesting series of artistic and linguistic interpretations, the initiating sentence was “The ants go marching two-by-two hurrah!” and the first sketcher depicted this sentence as follows:

telepic3The next player interpreted that drawing as “The merciless army of whistling cats were approaching the hill behind which I was hiding.”

And that sentence was illustrated as shown here:

telepic4In the end, this final picture was described by the following sentence: “I took a dump behind a rock and listened to a cat jazz band.”

Obama is a socialist

And then, just to get political, there was the sentence, “Tea Partiers think Obama is a socialist.” That sentence produced this drawing:

telepic5The sentence from the person who saw that picture read, “The Tea Party believes Americans are communists.”

The next drawing was:

Telepic6And that produced the sentence, “In a room lit by a lantern, the Americans and Chinese will drink beer.”

From Red Sox to shaggy llamas. From marching ants to a jazz band of cats. From Obama is a socialist to a beer party between Americans and Chinese. These are just three examples of a game that had us literally rolling on the floor laughing for a couple of hours until our bellies ached and we had to quit.

Of course, our daughter had made a batch of rather potent martinis that night, which may have contributed to the evening’s mirth and mayhem.

So if you and a bunch of friends and/or family members are sitting around one evening and wondering how to entertain yourselves — in a very wholesome, family-friendly way, that is — try playing TelePictionary.


This is another recycled post that I originally posted in May 2010. But since I’m on a business trip and won’t have the opportunity to write something new, I figured I’d post one from more than four years ago that none of you ever read…so it’s new to you!

 
21 Comments

Posted by on October 28, 2014 in Blogging, Humor

 

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The benefits and the perils of cursing

I’ve always believed that there is a time and a place for everything, and that the workplace is neither the time nor the place to drop the F-bomb in “mixed” company. So imagine my surprise when I read that cursing in the workplace can be a positive thing.

The Good

According to a 2007 study by researchers the University of East Anglia in England, it turns out that swearing at work is “a great stress reliever, builds morale on the job, and strengthens the team.” The study found that regular use of on-the-job profanity reinforced solidarity among staff, enabling them to express their feelings such as frustration. It also helped develop social relationships, the study found.

cursing at work“Employees use swearing on a continuous basis, but not necessarily in a negative, abusive manner. Swearing was used as a social phenomenon to reflect solidarity and enhance group cohesiveness, or as a psychological phenomenon to release stress,” the authors of the study wrote.

At the same time, though, some experts caution those in the corporate food chain should watch their language.

“It is a bit risky,” says Sheri Allen, director of The Workplace Specialists, a Calgary-based human resources and employment law consulting firm. It’s unrealistic to think that swearing isn’t a part of the workplace, she noted, but done without thought, it “can contribute to a poisoned work environment,” make people feel “uncomfortable” or “uneasy” about coming to work, and in the most extreme cases, can make people feel “threatened” about coming to work.

She agrees it can be a way to relieve stress, “but you really need to know who you can vent to and what is appropriate, and you have to be aware of who overhears it.”

The Bad

Taking an even more stringent position, Jim O’Connor, owner of the Cuss Control Academy near Chicago, suggests that cursing at work is never a good idea. O’Connor, who offers workplace seminars to teach people how to stop swearing, says, “It’s just not about words. It’s about behavior. It’s about communication. It’s about attitude.” Swearing is “lazy language,” and a larger reflection of how casual and impatient we’ve become as a culture, he says.

Ultimately, O’Connor stresses, it’s not good for the work environment. “I agree that it can build camaraderie, but too often that means sharing complaints about management or the company. It does not foster productivity, solve problems, or settle disagreements.” Ceasing swearing, or even toning it down in both our personal and professional lives, will ultimately make us all more patient, tolerant, easy-going, and even more likeable and pleasant, O’Connor suggests.

And The Ugly

While studies like that of the University of East Anglia characterize cursing at work as a good thing, other sources suggest that cursing in the workplace can cost you your job. The Ladders.com, an online job search site for six-figure jobs, surveyed more than 2,500 executives and found that foul language is the worst breach of all office manners. Thirty-eight percent of the managers who have fired employees for violating office etiquette cited cursing as the reason for the termination.

On the firing scale, cursing ranks even higher than drinking on the job (35%) and making an excessive number of personal calls (28%), according to the informal Internet survey of its members.

Co-workers, however, are a little more forgiving than bosses, according to The Ladders.com. While 81% dislike the sounds of swearing coming from the neighboring cubicle, it’s not as bad as the worst workplace offense noted by 98% of those who responded.

And what offense would that be? None other than stealing food from the office refrigerator. Don’t you hate it when some selfish fucking bastard absconds with your tuna fish sandwich and Diet Coke.

To curse or not to curse: that is the question: Whether ‘tis nobler in the office to suffer the fucks and shits and godammits of your co-workers, or to tape their mouths shuts upon their fouling of the air. (My most sincere apologies to William Shakespeare.)

Home work

thumb with hammerWhile cursing at work can either build esprit de corps or get you fired, depending upon what studies you choose to embrace, what about cursing outside of work?

According to a blurb in The Week magazine a while back, if you hit your finger with a hammer, go ahead and let loose with that string of expletives. It actually will make you feel better.

Richard Stephens, a psychology professor at Keele University in the U.K., told Scientific American, “I would advise people, if they hurt themselves, to swear.” Professor Stephens became interested in the function of profanity after hearing an earful of it from his wife while she was in labor. He wondered if it served some practical purpose.

In one experiment he conducted, participants were asked to immerse their hands in a tub of ice cold water. Those who were encouraged to curse freely were able to keep their hands in the water 40% longer than those asked to be silent or to avoid using swear words. Afterward, the foul-mouthed subjects also reported feeling less pain than their mealy-mouthed counterparts.

Cursing seems to elevate the heart rate and may, by increasing aggression levels, trigger the flight-or-fight response. Previous research shows that this response temporarily mutes the sensation of pain, so that we can respond quickly to a threat.

The most popular swear words for people in pain, Stephens found, are fuck, shit, bitch (as in “son of a…”), and bastard. For me, were I to hit my thumb with a hammer, I would be most likely to scream, “Jesus Fucking Christ!” And maybe I’d even see an image of the Virgin Mary in the blood splatter.


This is a recycled post that was originally posted in August 2009. I’m spending most of the day today flying across country for my job and will be participating in all day meetings tomorrow and Wednesday, so I might not have time for original posts. Hence, the recycle.

But what about you all? Do you curse at work? At home? Or do you always keep it clean?

 
53 Comments

Posted by on October 27, 2014 in Society

 

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Color dull

Navy label in pantsI am not color blind. I can see all kinds of colors. But I would say that I am color dull. Or perhaps color insensitive. For example, I have great difficulty distinguishing between black and navy blue.

So much difficulty, in fact, that I took a Sharpie and wrote the words “black” and “navy” on the respective pairs of pants so I wouldn’t have to ask my wife all the time which was which.

But that’s the way I am in many matters. I can’t taste the difference between Coke and Pepsi. Between Budweiser and Miller. When I hear wine aficionados describe the aroma, the bouquet, and the depth of wine, I have no idea what they’re talking about.

“This wine has a crisp finish with a dry, oaky taste, and just a hint of fruit.” Yeah, whatever. It’s wine. Period. I either like the way it tastes or I don’t. End of story.

I’m pretty much the same way with colors. I can tell the difference between reds, blues, yellows, and greens. I can distinguish between dark colors and light colors. Beyond that, what difference does it make?

colorwheel fandeckMy wife used to get so angry at me when she wanted to select a paint color for a room in our house. She would come back from the paint store with one of those color-wheel fandeck thingies with thousands of paint chips on it and ask me what I thought.

What I thought was “too many choices.” I could sense that there were subtle differences between Plantation Green and Colonial Green, or between Sand Dollar Beige and Beach Sand Beige. But the differences were so slight that it just didn’t matter. Well, not to me, anyway.

Today’s Daily Prompt was all about color. It suggested the possibility of living in a world devoid of color and asked, if we could only choose one color, what color would it be.

The first word that came to my mind was “relief.”

No, it’s not that I would want to live in a world of black, white, and shades of gray with only one other color to see. I wouldn’t want that. I appreciate all of the colors that nature has to offer…or at least the colors I can distinguish. I would, of course, much rather live in Oz than in Kansas. But like, who wouldn’t, am I right?

All I ask is that, when it comes to naming colors, let’s not get too carried away. Take the color mauve, for example. My wife said she was thinking about painting a room mauve. “What the hell color is mauve?” I asked.

She explained that it’s in the purple family. Then she handed me a color wheel and I saw names like “mauve taupe,” “opera mauve,” “old mauve, “deep mauve,” “French mauve,” “lavender magenta,” “blue ube,” and “African violet.”

Seriously, they all looked pretty much the same to me. How many mauves is too many mauves, I want to know. And why do we even have to have a color named mauve? Why not simply the color purple?

Black, white, shades of gray, and rainbow colors. That’s all we really need.

 
45 Comments

Posted by on October 26, 2014 in Blogging

 

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Shower Power Redux

This was original posted on my old blog hosting site a little over two years ago. It got no views and generated no comments. Last December, I imported all of my old posts into WordPress This post still got no views and generated no comments.

But now that some of you out there in the blogosphere actually take the time to read what I write, I decided to try again. You know, as in third time’s the charm. I thought this post might offer you some insights into my youthful past.


102 Hour ShowerAlmost 50 years ago, on March 12, 1965, a freshman at the University of Maryland stepped into a 3-foot by 10-foot, 3-person shower enclosure on the second floor of a house on Fraternity Row.

Wearing only swim trunks and a generous amount of Vaseline petroleum jelly on his torso to protect his skin from becoming too prune-like, he entered the shower and turned on the water. There he stayed, beneath a showerhead spraying continuously falling water, for the next four days and six hours.

On March 17, 1965, 102 hours later, this brave, very waterlogged, and arguably crazy young man emerged from the shower as a new world’s record holder.

How, you ask, did this come about? The college freshman, who was pledging a fraternity at the time, volunteered to take an extended shower as part of a fraternity-sponsored charity drive. The tag line was “A Dollar an Hour for the Guy in the Shower.” Ultimately, nearly $300 was collected, which was not too shabby when you consider that back then a gallon of gas cost less than 20 cents.

Not Canada!

The 18-year-old student never anticipated spending more than a day and a night in the shower. But after making it through the first 24 hours, one of his fraternity brothers rushed into the bathroom and announced that the world’s record for the longest shower was 100 hours and belonged to some guy in Canada.

A spontaneous chanting of “USA! USA!” broke out among the handful of college men in the fraternity house bathroom. The already soggy young man was challenged to go for a new world’s record; to bring it back to America, where even the most dubious of world’s records rightfully belong.

What choice did he have? The boy was a patriot!

Keeping warm water flowing was critical to this endeavor, and the young man in the shower learned quickly and painfully that every time someone flushed a toilet in the fraternity house building, the temperature of the water falling down upon him would suddenly change from warm to scalding.

And so strict orders were issued to the fraternity brotherhood. No one else was to take a shower or even so much as flush a toilet in the building while the marathon shower was in progress. When it came to matters of personal hygiene and flushing toilets or urinals, the rest of the guys living in the fraternity house had to, at least for the next few days, find alternative venues.

Digital Dark Ages

This event took place in the digital dark ages, way before the internet, 24-hour cable news networks, Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, or smartphones were even imagined. So it wasn’t until around hour 50 that the press somehow got wind of the showerthon.

Before long, reporters and photographers were pushing and shoving their way into the crowded frat house bathroom. While the DC and Baltimore newspapers were well represented, the most prestigious publication to send reporters and photographers was Life Magazine.

Shower HeroPictures were taken, interviews were conducted. It was all very exciting stuff for this college freshman and his fraternity brothers.

Finally, in front of a cheering throng and to great fanfare, after 102 hours under a showerhead with water relentlessly pounding upon his shriveled-up flesh, the young man — this human prune — stepped from the shower stall as the holder of a brand new world’s record.

USA! USA!

At the urging of friends and fraternity brothers, the college freshman decided to leverage his brief notoriety by running for the Student Government Association’s Sophomore Legislature.

Using the catchy campaign slogan, “Shower Power,” he was able to capture enough votes to get seated on the student council, where he served a remarkably undistinguished one-year term.

Fleeting fame

Alas, the lad’s fame was short-lived. By the time the 1966 edition of the Guinness Book of World Records was published, his record had already been broken. In fact, according to Answers.com, the current record is a whopping 341 hours. That’s more than 14 days!

And before the next issue of Life was on the newsstands, two other “momentous” news events bumped the new record-holder for the longest continuous shower from the magazine’s pages. First, Russian Cosmonaut Aleksei Leonov left his spacecraft, Voskhod 2, for 12 minutes, and became the first person to walk in space.

Second, civil rights unrest and violence stemming from freedom marches in and around Selma, Alabama involving some guy named Martin Luther King were taking place. Thus, the young man’s record-setting feat was spiked by the editors of Life Magazine. Can you believe that?

However, despite being deep-sixed by Life, the story remained newsworthy for a day or two in the local newspapers. Probably one of the most memorable quotes came from the boy’s mother, who, during a phone interview, said, “When he was younger, I couldn’t get him into the shower. Now, you can’t get him out of one.”

Would you care to hazard a guess as to who that short-term world’s record holder is? (Hint: he writes a blog.)

 
37 Comments

Posted by on October 26, 2014 in Blogging, Memories

 

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Dollars and degrees

Dollars and degrees

“Dollars and degrees. That’s all you ever think about, you self-centered bastard,” she said before turning and taking a large sip of her martini.

He took a swig of his beer. They were sitting next to one another at the bar of the Tomfoolery, a popular pub in the Foggy Bottom section of D.C. “It’s Wednesday night, Deb. You know I have that urban planning course paper due for tomorrow night’s class. I really need to head back to my place to finish it up.”

“Any excuse to get up and leave me here by myself,” Debbie slurred. “I swear, you don’t give two shits about me. All you care about are dollars and degrees.”

He liked Debbie. She was attractive, reasonably bright, and quite accomplished in the sack. But he was working on his master’s degree at night while holding down a full-time job during the day. Barely half way through his 54 credit-hour curriculum, completing his master’s program by the end of the next year was his highest priority.

“I think you’re a little drunk, Debbie,” he responded, finishing up his beer.

“And I think you’re a selfish son of a bitch” she snapped back.

He turned toward her and, affecting his most sincere, genuine manner, said, “I really do care about you, Debbie. I enjoy our time together. A lot, actually. But I have to finish this paper tonight. I’ll probably be up quite late and I have to be at work again by 8:30 in the morning. So even though I’d much rather stay here with you a little while longer and then head over to your place and spend the night, I’ve got to go.”

It was only a little white lie, he told himself.

She moved her bar stool closer to his, snuggled up next to him, and while running her hand up and down his inner thigh, whispered in a low, throaty voice, “I’d rather we head over to my place, too. We can both call in sick for work tomorrow.”

“I can’t,” he said, removing her hand from high up on his thigh. “I’m sorry, Debbie, but I just can’t. Not tonight. I need to get this paper done.”

He stood up and retrieved his jacket and backpack from the hook beneath the bar overhang. He leaned over toward Debbie and kissed her on her cheek. “I’ll call you tomorrow,”  he said, and headed for the door.

As he was leaving the pub he heard her yell after him. “Dollars and degrees, you fucking asshole! That’s all that’s important to you. Dollars and fucking degrees.”


This post is my entry this week in Linda G Hill’s Stream of Consciousness Saturday prompt. This week’s word is “degree/degrees.”

 
40 Comments

Posted by on October 25, 2014 in Blogging

 

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Father of the bride

Tracy & Jay's wedding 049Today’s WordPress Daily Prompt asked us to recall our “craziest, busiest, most hectic day we’ve had in the past decade.”

For me, that was easy. I didn’t have to give more than an instant’s thought to what day that was:

October 31, 2008

That was the day my only daughter got married. And for all fathers who have daughters, they know — or will find out — that the day of their daughter’s wedding is the craziest, busiest, most hectic day a father can experience.

Well perhaps craziest, busiest, most hectic day since the day his daughter was born.

My daughter and her then future husband met at a Halloween party seven years earlier. And when they decided to get married, they wanted a Halloween-themed wedding. Conveniently, Halloween in 2008 fell on a Friday night.

There is so much that needed to get done, checked on, set up, and verified before the actual ceremony and reception started. So many activities to coordinate, so many items to attend to.

I couldn’t rely on my wife and daughter. They were spending the day getting their hair done, having make-up professionally applied, getting into their dresses/gowns, and doing whatever other magical, mysterious things that the mother of the bride, the bride, and the bridesmaids do on the day of the wedding.

So there I was at the wedding venue all afternoon for a wedding that wasn’t scheduled to start until early evening. I was running around making sure all would be ready when it was supposed to be, that everything was in its place. That the tables were set, the flowers properly arranged, the DJ table and equipment ready and working, the lighting just right, the clowns in position.

Okay, there were no clowns.

When I felt everything was as it should be, I went back to my hotel room not far from the venue and checked to make sure that the bus to transport out-of-town guests to the wedding site would be on time. And then I showered and changed into my proper wedding attire, preparing to assume my role as the proud father of the bride.

Once things got underway and I could see that everything was proceeding nicely according to plan, I was at last able to take a step back, relax, take it all in, and enjoy myself.

Immensely.

But getting to that point made for quite a harrowing day.

 
44 Comments

Posted by on October 24, 2014 in Blogging

 

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