Archive

Archive for the ‘humor’ Category

Do Albino peacocks get laid?

May 12, 2017 1 comment

People ask how I felt returning to Cuba after a fifty-six year absence. In truth, I don’t know. Most Cuban exiles in similar circumstances concentrate on what was versus what is, like the collapsed roof of my childhood apartment in La Habana Vieja, or the sad condition of the streets and parks where we grew up. And so did I, but I’d been told, so I knew what to expect. The best part of my experience was being there.

In general, when Ruth and I travel, I like to wander around, a personal quirk she doesn’t always appreciate. This time, traveling with my sister—who was only fourteen when she left—and our spouses, neither fluent in Spanish, plus having a Cuban travel agent suggesting a framework, changed the tenor of the trip. Our Havana guide, a twenty three year old engineering student, took us along a prescribed route, down calle Teniente Rey, past Sarránow a museum—and toward the cathedral; the sort of itinerary tourists enjoy.

We started our walk on El Capitolio and because of new construction I was disoriented. When I asked our guide if this was calle Egido (it was) he didn’t know; he’d never heard of calle Egido. I soon recognized where I was and paused to peer down calle Bernaza and, of course, detoured on calle Villegas to point out the store where I worked—now people live there—and the spot where I chased and caught the bra thief, and where “Our Man In Havana” was filmed, and the hole in the wall were I drank my daily eight or ten cups of café, and the spot in the colonnade where the ostiones man had his little stand. The excitement was all mine.

Next day, when we took an enjoyable day trip to Las Terrazas, a former coffee plantation in Pinar Del Rio, now an Eco-community—I may do a full write up of the place—what stuck with me the most was the unexpected: there was a regular peacock on the parking lot, showing off his colors even though he was being harassed by tourist but, on a side patch I spied something even more magnificent. An albino peacock. ,

Of course that was my judgement, as personal as when comparing what was with what is. From the peacocks point of view the one opinion that counts will be rendered by the peahens.

Andrew Jackson and Fidel Castro

May 3, 2017 2 comments

I have been reading newspaper accounts of January 1959–refreshing my memory, not of the events, just their sequence–of the time when Fidel Castro gained power. There were lots of things that had to align just right for Fidel to succeed and for Batista to sneak away in the dead of night and it occurred to me that Fidel would have had no chance if Andrew Jackson had been president (instead of that wishy-washy Eisenhower who knew nothing of making war) Apparently Andrew Jackson was mad as hell when Castro won.

What scares white males?

September 29, 2016 3 comments

Eight years ago we elected our first black president. In a few weeks we are likely to elect our first female president. Rather than these been seen as great steps forward, they have given rise to fears, primarily among white males. I have been struggling with this, trying to understand what is so scary to my fellow white males.

I may have found an answer. According to Lynn Saxon in her book “Sex at Dusk: Lifting the Shiny Wrapping from Sex at Dawn,” in some deep sea angler fish species, only the female becomes a full adult.

I am sure she doesn’t mean to imply that all males or only males remain childish. After all, quite a few women don’t believe a woman should be elected president.

But it can get scarier than that. Apparently Charles Darwin (as reported by Ms. Saxton) found in some barnacle species “a number of dwarf males inside the female.” Even worse, the female had two little pockets, in each of which she kept a little husband. The troubling issue of size was first brought up by Marco (‘little Marco’) Rubio and it must concern not only Donald (‘tiny hands’) Trump, but many of his white, male supporters as well.

And if that isn’t demeaning enough, consider the male redback spider, who intentionally flips his body into a position above the jaws of the female in order to be eaten during mating.

I don’t know how much of a difference there is between a redneck and a redback spider. I’d guess less than the difference between a redback and a wetback.

The final insult may be offered by honeybees in their nuptial flight, once more, according to Ms. Saxton. “When a successful male mates with the queen: his ‘endophallus’ explodes to become a copulatory plug inside her and he drops dead. Why? It is a strategy to prevent other males from mating with the queen but for that privilege he loses both his phallus and his life. What’s more, the queen is able to pop out the copulatory plug and to mate again anyway.”

How about Hillary as the GOP candidate?

March 3, 2016 1 comment

I haven’t always been a Hillary Clinton fan but I’d like to propose that the GOP nominate her for the presidency.
There are three arguments in favor of this action.
(A) Neither of the three top Republican candidates are qualified to be president. Not even close. Only Kasich, who is running a distant fourth, could pass a presidential qualification test. By the way, Congress should consider instituting such a test to avoid current and past embarrassments: Sara Palin? Barack Obama elected after a two-year, part-time stint as a US Senator? The presidency shouldn’t be an on-the-job training center. (See Cruz, Rubio)
(B) Hillary Clinton is not only qualified and experienced, she has been tested. She has endured and survived relentless unwarranted attacks, not for months or years, but for decades. Starting when Bill ran for president and she was accused of being a feminazi, followed by attacks on her hair, her figure, her laugh, her pant suits, her supposedly being a lesbian (not that there is anything wrong with that, as Seinfeld would say) and on and on. She was even attacked because her husband cheated on her. She wasn’t being attacked for her beliefs but for being a woman. No wonder she has become guarded and secretive.
A double nomination would not only restore our credibility and prestige in the world, it would lead to a functioning government, where members of both parties stop carping at one another and get down to their job: crafting the laws needed for the common good of our once, and still, great nation. And finally, (C) It would be such great fun.

Love has a downside.

January 20, 2016 Leave a comment

I have a cold. I’ve had a lot more colds since having grand kids. Every time I return from visiting my lovely granddaughters in the West coast, I’ve brought back some malady. And now that I have two grand kids nearby and get to see them every week or two, the opportunity to enhance my immune system has improved immeasurably. None of it comes as a surprise because the kids, almost since birth, have frequented germ-exchange sites, ie, nurseries, day care, parks and the like.
A cold shouldn’t be a big deal, but it can be. In my case they always start in my left nostril, where they dawdle for a while before moving to the right one. I thought it peculiar and asked an MD about it when I was a teen in Cuba.
“Of course,” he said, “you have a deviated septum.” He didn’t add “you moron,” but I could read his thoughts in the little dialog bubble above his head.
Back then I didn’t know what a septum was. I still don’t other than apparently I have one. I never looked it up for fear of what I might learn and assumed—I have no reason to think otherwise—that it’s worse than a sixtum. I didn’t care for the ‘deviate’ implication either.
So I have a cold. My lovely twenty month old granddaughter who adores me and is a master cuddler, has a faucet for a nose, according to her mother. So I’m in for a few more years of immuno-enhancement therapy. Hopefully.
The cold is still in my left nostril. I hope it moves to the other nostril and out before I visit my California grand kids next month. I can deal with just so many germs at a time.

Chip Kelly: genius

November 30, 2015 2 comments

The problem with football is that it attracts so many geniuses (or genii, whichever you prefer.) Too many of these supremely gifted individuals flock to the game instead of channeling their unique talents toward finding a cure for cancer, reversing global warming or designing safety caps seniors can open.

I can only hope that Jeff Lurie, a very responsible team owner, will recognize that his social and moral duty demands he release Chip Kelly, so he can redirect his talents for the benefit of all mankind, rather than a few suffering Eagles fans.

Just deserts

July 31, 2015 2 comments

I suppose that I misunderstand idioms because English is my third language. Or why I mishear words. I just learned that the song “Killing me softly with insults” is actually “Killing Me Softly With His Song.”
I still think it makes more sense my way. Another phrase that makes no sense, an idiom, is “getting his just deserts.” To me it implies getting a deserved sweet reward, right?
Apparently not. Which took me back to the olden days, when I was a freshman chemical engineering student at Northeastern University. All engineers had to take drafting classes. Imagine that. I liked drafting but the homework took forever and, in general, I didn’t do homework. (I’m not proud of it)
One of our classmates was a weird kid, a loner who had trouble expressing himself. I’d heard Howie was a genius, or at least a near-genius. What was clear is that he had social and physical issues. He wrote in very large letters, much like a child, quickly filling notebook after notebook he stuffed into a full bag which, of course, he regularly dropped, creating a frantic scene when the notebooks spilled and he feared their loss.
I’m not sure how much of a genius Howie was, or how well he was doing, but drafting class was a no-go for him. Toward the end of the school year a bunch of us decided to help him—I had more reason to help than others, but that is another story—and tried to tutor him, enough to at least get him a passing grade.
In part we wanted to show the flunkies who teased Howie without mercy that he could pass a course they were likely to fail. Out of the 105 freshmen that started chemical engineering studies, only twenty five graduated on time.
But Howie could not draw a straight line. Literally. He held his pencil like Anthony Perkins held his knife in Psycho, which explained why, rather than drawing a straight line, Howie’s pencil ripped a jagged tear through the paper.
We couldn’t get him to relax his grip on the pencil. We made some progress, at least in explaining what he was supposed to do, even if he physically couldn’t, but when the time for finals came, we weren’t hopeful.
Proctoring that final we found a teaching assistant, a young woman we’d never seen before. Our drafting professor—a very elegant man in fitted suits who started each lecture by removing and exquisitely folding his jacket—had proctored every test till then. It shouldn’t have mattered.
Emo, one of the kids who’d worked the hardest with Howie, was a genuinely nice guy and a good student. He reminded me a bit of Perry Como, a mellow crooner with his own TV variety show. When he finished the test, Emo turned to Howie, who was sitting on the draft table behind him.
“How you doing, Howie? You doing good?” Emo asked in a natural voice. I was sitting a couple rows back. When I heard him, I looked up from my paper.
The TA, an athletic young woman wearing a tartan skirt, leaped from her chair and charged Emo, finger pointed, accusing him of copying from Howie.
The room broke out in laughter.
“No, no, I wasn’t cheating,” Emo said, offering the test. “See? I was done.”
“I saw you with my own eyes.”
“No, no,” Emo pleaded, “you don’t understand…”
Loud laughter isn’t the normal response to having a classmate caught “cheating.” Maybe that confused her. Maybe she felt we were questioning her authority. There weren’t many female engineering students in 1962; we had none in our class.
“Oh, I understand, I most certainly do,” she said, as she tore Emo’s test in half and threw it into the trash can. “This will teach you to cheat.”
That’s what I mean by ‘just deserts.’ You would think the phrase means something good, some well earned just reward. I suppose it doesn’t.