Tuesday, September 27, 2016

Once a Leo -- always a Leo

I was born on July 26th -- or at least that's what they tell me.  Which means that I've been a Leo my entire life.

I like lions... and I've been fine with being a Leo.  As a Leo, I'm supposed to have high confidence, high motivation, determination, and loyalty.  Leos don't take criticism well, and they're very stubborn, and often impatient.  And oh yeah, I'm a fire element.

We didn't focus on our astrological signs, when I was growing up, so I truly don't think my personality was affected by my sign.  But I do think that my friends and family would agree that the attributes of Leo fit me fairly well.

Today, I find out that I've never been a Leo after all.  No, it's not that I was born on a different date, it's that the Babylonians were somewhat lazy.  (as a side note, I have to chuckle when I hear people say "ancient Babylonians".  To my knowledge, that's the only kind we have.)

The Babylonian calendar had 12 months, each with roughly the same number of days.  So - while they saw that there were 13 signs of the zodiac, they decided to ignore one, and make it an even dozen.  Similarly, while some zodiac signs were visible more days than others, the Babylonians decided to make the signs all equal in length, and call it a day, as it were.

NASA, in its infinite wisdom, has decided that it's time we all learned the truth.

And apparently the truth is that I'm not a Leo, I'm a Cancer.  Which means that I'm compassionate, adaptable, and I have a motherly approach to those in need.  (Excuse me, while I clean up the spewed tea from my keyboard and monitor.)  And oh yeah, I'm no longer a fire element, I'm a water element. I suppose that part's true, as long as you put a teabag in it.

I heard that not everyone is changed, so I thought I'd check some people I know.  The first thing I noticed is that the last date for each sign, is also the first date for the next... which means that my mother - once a Virgo - is now both a Virgo and a Leo.  So she's both a fire element and an earth element.  Hmmm... I guess that explains why she like campfires so much.  As a Virgo, she's very bossy, and as a Leo she's very stubborn.  Well I guess that works.  But as a Virgo she's very modest, yet as a Leo she's somewhat arrogant.  Not sure how she accomplishes that, unless she's also got a split personality.

So let's move on.

I was married to a Cancer...  but he's now become a Gemini.  And that's ok, because Geminis are compatible with Leos... oh wait, I'm not a Leo anymore.

My business partner was a Scorpio, but now she's a Libra.  So her best day of the week was Tuesday, but now it's Friday.  And we meet on Mondays.. so I don't know what any of that means.

And then it hit me.  I know how to tell if this zodiac stuff works!  I looked up the list of which zodiac signs were coffee drinkers, and which were tea drinkers.  Leos are both, and Cancers are coffee drinkers.  Well that makes no sense at all.  But I'm trying to be open-minded about this... so I found a different website that took coffee out of the equation entirely, and told you which zodiac sign drinks what kind of tea.  Turns out Cancers drink chamomile tea.
Chamomile tea???

Well, that clinches it.  There's only one possible explanation for all of this.

My parents clearly LIED to me, when they told me my birthday was July 26.  Don't get me wrong.  I like July 26... I feel a certain connection with July 26... but how can you argue with all of the things I've discovered?  My birthday must be between August 10, and September 16.   Not sure which day... and perhaps I'll continue to celebrate on July 26, just for old time's sake.  But as I sit here drinking my tea - which is most assuredly NOT chamomile - there's no question that my birthday is between August 10 and September 16.

Monday, September 19, 2016

Stuffing Ballot Boxes

What an odd phrase this is. We've all heard this phrase ...it originated at a time when most voting was done by people literally putting their vote on a piece of paper, and putting the folded paper into a ballot box.  And stuffing the ballot box meant one person putting in more than one piece of paper.

Doesn't really apply much, today.  Many communities have electronic voting, or some sort of mechanical voting.  And in most states and most communities, there are procedures in place to ensure that each person only gets to submit one vote.

But stuffing ballot boxes has also come to mean persuading people who would otherwise not vote.. to vote.  Except -- there's really nothing wrong with that, is there?

Now, you might think that it's the upcoming election that has me thinking of this, but that's not the case.

There is a website called authorshout.com.  The website offers a number of marketing packages and plans for authors, but I'm guessing that's of little interest to most of you. However, the website also runs what they call Cover Wars.  Authors submit their covers and authorshout.com schedules the covers for a 'war'.  Each week, authorshout.com puts 10 different covers on their 'war' page.  Anybody can vote... there's no charge to vote, you're not put on a mailing list, there's no spam.  You do have to 'like' the website on your facebook, twitter, or googleplus account .. and you only have to do that once ..  but once you've done that, you can vote for your favorite cover.  Not only that, but for the entire week of each 'war', you can vote as often as you want, as long as it's been at least 24 hours since your last vote.  The Weatherman , by yours truly, is up for this week's Cover War.  It's nothing like Teapot Musings, it's a sci-fi/mystery/adventure story.  And while that might - or might not - interest you...  for purposes of the Cover War, it really doesn't matter.  All you're doing is voting for your favorite cover, out of 10.
And trust me, the cover for The Weatherman is truly amazing.
Or don't trust me.. see for yourself...

See?   Isn't that an amazing cover?

Still not convinced?  Then go to the Cover Wars and look at the other 9 contenders.  After you do, I'm hoping you'll 'vote early and vote often'.
Well, it doesn't really matter how early you vote.  And you can only vote once every 24 hours, and only through Saturday, September 24.  And while this might constitute ballot box stuffing in the sense that I'm trying to persuade you to vote for something you might have ignored, it's not really ballot box stuffing because anyone is allowed to vote, once a day, for the rest of the week.
So ---    Vote.

It's really easy, you do it from your computer, and you can even do it while drinking tea... that's how I do it.

Friday, September 2, 2016

Quality versus Quantity

I read.  A lot.  And I don't mean for work, or to find out about current events... I mean fiction.

At the moment, I'm in the middle of a recorded book on CD in the car, I've got a paperback book in the boatbag that I'm partway through, I have a print book that I've been reading in the evening and right before going to bed, and I have an ebook that I'm reading on my iPad.  (I have the kindle, nook, kobo, iBook, and GooglePlay reading apps on my iPad.)

Lest you think that this is the "quantity" that is part of the title of this post... hold on.. I haven't gotten there yet.

And as some of you know, I've also started writing fiction, and have formed an indie publishing company with a partner.  This means that at various times, I write, I edit, I format, and I promote.  And when everything goes well and falls into place, I (or, rather, the publishing company) actually sell some fiction.

So, as you can see, I'm interested - and involved - , in nearly all aspects of writing....  creating, publishing, consuming.

One of the distributors that the publishing company uses sends out weekly notices that tell us how trending books that are similar to the ones we've published, are doing.  And while this is interesting to me when I wear my publisher hat, it's also interesting to me when I switch to my reader hat.. because I'm always on the lookout for another book to add to my to-read list.  (Not sure why this is true, I already have enough books on my to-read list to last me well into my 130th year of life.)

This morning's email listed three titles in the email labeled 'Trending Books like The Weatherman'. And one of the titles caught my attention and piqued my curiosity.  For this blog post, I'll call this title Q.  Wearing my publisher hat, I see that Q's Amazon ranking is 22% higher than it was last week, and that it's currently #3 in the Amazon category of Science Fiction>Adventure... and I know that Amazon's rankings are based on some sort of algorithm that includes a combination of reviews and sales.

Wow!  That constitutes a lot of reviews, and more importantly, a lot of sales.  (THIS is the quantity part of this post.)

But as I said, I'm also a reader.  So I took off my publisher hat and put on my reader hat, and clicked the link on the book to take me to Amazon.

The description of the book was ...  interesting.  Not fascinating, but interesting.  So I moved down to the reviews.  There were 7 'top reviews' listed.  All 7 reviews were only 1 star.  But that was not the worst part.   In all seven reviews, the reviewer expressed tremendous regret that they'd started the book, and not a single one of them had finished the book.  I just re-read the reviews, because I decided I must have been mistaken... but I'm not.   7 reviews.  1 star each.  Not one of those reviewers had finished the book.

Wow.  Clearly, THIS is the quality part of the post.

I'd like to think that if there was that sort of response to something I'd written, or something I'd published, that I'd remove it from being on sale.

The author of Q must be doing something right.. or at least doing something.  Perhaps the author is buying his own books, or paying people to post positive reviews.  I did notice that Q was on sale, so maybe the author just makes the book so inexpensive, or does a better job at marketing, because it certainly looks like the author of Q is making more money from the book, than I or my publishing company are, from our titles.

BUT.   I choose quality (of book) over quantity (of sales).  That applies to what I read.  That applies to what I publish.

I've not told you the real title of Q, nor have I told you the name of the author.  Because the point of this is not to slam the book or the author.  The point is integrity.  And if you have integrity, then you value Quality, over Quantity.  In fact, you value Quality, even at the expense of Quantity.

And of course, you always value tea.

P.S.  Teapot Musings is not a 'writer's blog', where I share tips and reviews, and it's not an 'author's blog' where I ask you to buy my book.  And I will not be changing that.  But for those who are interested, you can find my author page here, and the website for the publishing company, here.

Thursday, August 25, 2016

What Have You Got to Lose?

Over the years, there have been many, many presidential campaign slogans.  Some of them memorable, some not so memorable.  Personally, I find the current slogan "What have you got to lose?" to be particularly offensive and insulting, on many levels.  But it did make me wonder if it's truly any worse than what we've had in the past.

So.. I did a search.

I've always thought that one of the catchiest slogans was William Henry Harrison's  "Tippecanoe and Tyler Too". Harrison won the battle of Tippecanoe, and Tyler was his running mate.   Turns out this was the first presidential campaign slogan, ever.  (source: The Miller Center - a nonpartisan affiliate of the U. of Virginia, specializing in presidential scholarship and political history.)   

In 1952, there was the slogan "I like Ike", for Dwight Eisenhower.  Another catchy slogan.  Although I've often wondered... how on earth is Ike a nickname for Dwight?  Turns out that it's not a nickname for Dwight, it's a nickname for Eisenhower, and Dwight and his four brothers were all called Ike at one time or another. Nope, I don't understand how Ike is a nickname for Eisenhower, either.  Nonetheless, the slogan is rather catchy.

Perhaps one of my favorite slogans came out during the 1896 election.  William McKinley's slogan of "Patriotism, Protection, and Prosperity" is rather inspirational, and has me feeling like I should stand up and face the flag.  Interestingly enough, part of the idea behind this slogan was that the US should stay out of world politics, and protect our interests at home.  And while McKinley won with this slogan, there was a complete reversal of this policy with the subsequent president, Theodore Roosevelt.  And, for better or worse, we've never looked back.

But of course not all slogans are inspirational or catchy.  I always found John Kerry's 2004 slogan "Let American be America Again", to be rather confusing.  Turns out that's actually the title of a 1935 poem that talks about the poor and downtrodden Americans who have never experienced the American dream.  Hmmm.  That's a whole different topic that I'll leave for another time.  8 years later, Kerry tweaked the phrase a bit, and said "It took President Obama to lead America like America again."  To me, that's a bit less confusing, but not much.

Some of the slogans over the years have been amusing.  In 1844, the Whig candidate, Henry Clay, chose "Who is James K. Polk?", in reference to the fact that his opponent was such an unknown.  Ironically enough, Polk won.  Eight years later, the Democrats nominated Franklin Pierce to run against the Whig candidate, and chose the slogan "We Polked you in 1844 and We Shall Pierce you in 1852!".

During the 1928 campaign, prohibition was a major issue.  Those in favor, were called 'drys', while opponents were called 'wets'.  This led to Al Smith's campaign slogan....
Let's all keep our comments to ourselves, on that one.

And then there are the slogans that are more blatantly negative statements about the opponent.  In 1884,  the candidates were Grover Cleveland, and James Blaine.  Cleveland's slogan was "Blaine, Blaine, James G. Blaine, The Continental Liar from the State of Maine."  Hmm..  not only negative, but long.  In that same year, when the news came out that Cleveland had fathered an illegitimate child, the  chant at Blaine rallies was  "Ma, Ma, Where's my Pa?".  And when Cleveland won, his supporters added the line "Gone to the White House, Ha, Ha, Ha".  Sounds a little bit like 3rd grade, to me.

But that wasn't the only year for negative slogans. In response to Goldwater's 1964 slogan of  "In your heart you know he's right," the Johnson campaign came back with "In your guts you know he's nuts."  Oops.. 80 years later and we're still in  3rd grade.

As I look down the list of presidential campaign slogans over the last 175 years, I realize I'm seeing positive slogans about a candidate, positive slogans about a policy, and of course negative things about the opponent.  There was the Reagan slogan of "Are you better off than you were four years ago?".. but that's just a boiled down version of what we see every time an incumbent is running for re-election and opponents are trying to suggest that the incumbent wasn't any good.

But this year is different.  This year, we have a candidate with the slogan "What have you got to lose?"
That makes it sound like we've hit rock bottom.  That feels like it's aimed at the voters on a personal level, rather than being aimed at an opposing candidate.  When the candidate pulls out this slogan, he typically adds - "you're living in poverty, your schools are no good."  Now it's definitely personal.  And of course we all know that when the candidate asks what we have to lose, he is suggesting that since we currently have a Democrat for a president right now, we should switch to a Republican president.

But there's a huge piece missing here.  You see, the United States is a democracy, not a dictatorship.  That means that the President -- whoever it is -- is restricted and constrained by Congress.  In 2010, for the first time in ten years, we had a split Congress.  Instead of both the Senate and House having the same party holding the majority of the seats, the Senate majority and the House majority were different parties.  In 2015, Congress reverted back to the more-common situation of having both parts of Congress controlled by the same party.  But that party was NOT the same as the President's party.  Once I include that missing piece, it's no longer quite so 'obvious' that electing a Republican president will fix any problems I might have.  And I suppose that's not fair.  After all,  the candidate didn't say.. I will fix your problems.  He said.. What have you got to lose?

Forget statistics... as a voter, I'm an individual, not a statistic.  And whether I want to or not, I can't travel back in time, I can only move forward.  As I look at the troubling situations both here and abroad, and as I watch news reports from both this country and from other parts of the world, and I consider the future, I would say that I have a lot to lose.  We all do.

This doesn't necessarily mean that this candidate is bad... after all, it's just a slogan.  But it's a stupid slogan.  And it's insulting and offensive and demeaning to suggest that people have nothing to lose.

That's enough for now.  More than enough.
It's time for tea.

Friday, August 19, 2016

Tips and tidbits about tea

Yes, the name of this blog is Teapot Musings.  Yes, I am often drinking tea,or I've just finished a cup of tea, or I'm about to make a cup of tea, as I'm writing these posts.  But generally, this is  not a blog about tea, or making tea, or different things you can do with tea.  After all, there certainly are blog posts and websites out there that fill that niche...  There's How to Cook with Tea, 7 Ways to Cook With Tea Leaves, How to Grow your Own Tea, lots and lots of sites reviewing the best teas, and Wiki-how even has a page on How to Make Tea -- 15 Steps with Pictures!  (OMG.. just thinking about fifteen steps to make one cup of tea is enough to make me have to stop and have a cup tea!)

Nonetheless.. I do have some tea tips and tidbits that I wanted to share.

First - I was recently asked what it's called when a tea drinker bounces their teabag up and down in their cup.  No, it's not dipping.  Yes, I suppose you could say 'bounces their teabag up and down' if you wished... but I think you'll find the more common word is 'dunking'.  Yes, dunking your teabag.  Not to be confused with dunking your ginger snaps into your tea... which is also nice.

Next -  People!  QUIT dunking your teabags!  While bouncing your teabag certainly gives you something to do, much like a coffee drinker might tap their spoon on the counter while waiting for their coffee...that's all it does.  Studies have shown that, once the bag and the tea leaves inside are wet, diffusion takes over, and your tea will brew at the same rate, whether you dunk or not.

Next, and even more importantly, QUIT squeezing your teabags!  Yes, I agree, when you put your teabag on your spoon, and wrap the string around the bag, and give it a little squeeze... dark tea comes out of the bag.  The problem is that the dark tea resulting from the squeeze has a high concentration of tannins.
Tannins = bitterness.  Want stronger tea?  Let the teabag steep a bit longer, or switch to a brand that makes stronger tea.  But please, don't squeeze the teabag.  (and if that last sentence made you think of toilet paper, you're telling your age!)

And finally, for those of you who are turning up your noses at the notion of using teabags rather than loose tea, I have some news for you.  It makes absolutely no difference whether the leaves are loose, or in bags.  What IS important, is the freshness of the tea.  So if you have an old box of X brand teabags, tucked back in the corner of the cabinet, pulled out once a year when Aunt Petunia comes to visit... yes, I'm quite certain that Aunt Petunia will find her cup of tea to be less than ideal.  But the problem isn't the teabag, it's the age of the tea leaves inside the bag.  Similarly, if you sparingly use that large tin of loose tea that you inherited from Cousin Louise, because she always made wonderful tea and you want to savor and extend your enjoyment of your inheritance ... don't bother.  I suppose if the tea inside the tea is vacuum sealed, and each time you have some tea, you open the bag, remove the desired amount, and then re-vacuum seal the bag, you'll be fine.  But who are we kidding?  Nobody is going to do that.  The trick is to buy just enough tea, that it's still fresh when you use the very last of it.  That's one of the many reasons I enjoy my typhoo tea.  I buy it in teabag form, but it comes in vacuum-sealed foil packs of only 40 teabags per pack.  No, I don't re-seal the bags, but I can most certainly go through 40 teabags before they get stale.

Before I wrap up here, and partake in the steaming cup of tea that's waiting for me, I know that some of you are wondering why I haven't addressed the issue of using one teabag for multiple cups of tea. I have one word for you.  DON'T.  No, make that five words... Don't Ever Do That.  Ever.

Enough said, now it's time for tea.

Wednesday, August 17, 2016

Black Cat Appreciation Day

Haven't been here in awhile.. my apologies to those who missed me.
Yes, it's true that life has been busy.  Smoking Pen Press has now published its third title, and we've put out a call for submissions for the next title - due out before the end of the year. Family was visiting for a couple weeks, which was a terrific treat.  And we're having some major renovations done to the house.

But I don't think those are the real reasons... the real reason is that I've been so discouraged by all the political garbage being bandied about, that I just haven't felt like posting.  I've never been very political, and I've never liked the political campaigning we have to put up with every four years, but I sincerely feel that this time is the absolute worst it has ever been. The good news is that the election is only a few months away.  We'll still have to deal with politics, but at least we will no longer have to deal with campaigning.

So... on to bigger, much better, and much more important things!

As has been pointed out to me, today is Black Cat Appreciation Day.

I have two black cats.. well, not completely black, they're tuxedo cats.  But they're mostly black.  And in fact, my previous cat was also a tuxedo cat, and the cat before that - my very first cat - was entirely black.  So at least in my household, it's somewhat silly to have one Black Cat Appreciation Day a year... for us, ALL days are BCAD.

But it is true that there are a lot of myths and superstitions associated with black cats, and one purpose of BCAD is to try to dispel some of those.  So - in case you didn't already know -

* black cats are NOT the familiars of witches
* black cats are NOT bad luck
* black cats are NOT reincarnated demons

However, based on my personal experience:

* black cats are particularly adept at making sure that when they shed, their fur lands on a light colored surface... the lighter the better
* black cats do have interesting personalities  (well, yes, this does apply to all cats.. but that includes black cats)

To (perhaps) dispel another myth... it is commonly believed that black cats are the last to be adopted.  But while trying to confirm that, I found an informal study that suggested that the real issue is that more black cats are taken to shelters, than non-black cats.  Nonetheless, it is true that many shelters are giving deeply discounted prices today - Black Cat Appreciation Day - if you adopt a black cat.

I already have two black cats, and I appreciate them every day.  If you're considering adopting a cat, perhaps today is the day, and perhaps the magic color is black.

And before I return to my cup of tea... let me share some pictures of my current cats with you.



Wednesday, June 15, 2016

Green Thumb (and the magic celery)

I recently posted a tour of my yard, complete with pictures, and in the past I've posted about my garden and other plantings.  And while I share these things online, I also share them in real life.  So I suppose I shouldn't have been surprised when someone remarked "You must have a real green thumb".

My thumb is not green....

                      nor are any of my fingers.

Now, we all know that when someone says you have a green thumb, they mean that you grow things... but it did make me wonder -- where did that saying really come from?  After all, not everything that grows is green... and it's certainly not green when it first begins to grow.  Yes, I know, seedlings are green.. but seeds are not. And things that grow, are typically grown in dirt... and when I plant things, I most certainly get very dirty... so why don't we say that people who plant things, have black thumbs?  And why thumbs?  My fingers generally get much dirtier than my thumbs.

So I hopped on the great big internet research center, to see what I could find.

First, I found that, in England, the phrase is "green fingers"  (which is why I showed you that even my fingers are not green.).

And I found all sorts of discussions about planting seedlings -  which are green, and you use your thumb and forefinger to pinch back plants, and statements that green is always associated with growth....  none of this was very satisfactory.

And then I found something about some king or other who really liked peas and his favorite servants were those who could shell the most peas, and shelling peas gave you green thumbs.

Nope, that didn't do it for me, either.

And then I found something that said that the saying comes from the fact that algae growing on the outside of earthenware pots will stain a person’s thumb (and fingers) if they handle enough pots. Hence, a person who is always working with flower pots has a green thumb.
Hmmm... still not a terrific answer... but I'm ready to move on.

Because what I REALLY want to share with you is my magic celery.  When I gave you a tour of my yard, I also explained that I recently saw something online about growing new celery -- that you can actually put in your garden and harvest -- from the butt end of a celery bunch.  I didn't believe it, so I tried it.. and it works.
Here are pics of the progress so far...

June 4, 2016
June 11, 2016

June 14, 2016

As you can see, the growth is quite dramatic!  The instructions say to plant it outside once the outer leaves start to rot away... so I'll be planting it this weekend.

But it gets better!!
I actually have room in my garden for perhaps half a dozen celeries... so while I don't know that I'll do that many, I decided I would do at least one more.  And clearly, celery butt #2 did not want to get left behind.  Note the dates on these pics...

June 12, 2016

June 14, 2016

June 15, 2016
That's right, boys and girls.. this is what I've got in THREE DAYS!!   Actually, more like 2 and a half.. because I cut the base and put it in the dish Sunday afternoon.. and the June 15 pic is from this morning.

So..  you can call it green thumb, green fingers, green hand... whatever you want... it's not me, it's the magic celery!  I will be planting both of these in the garden, this weekend.

And by the way, in case anyone cares, I NEVER drink green tea.  It's usually Typhoo tea, it's always black tea leaves.

Monday, June 6, 2016

A Yard Tour

Often... perhaps too often... I rant and rave here at Teapot Musings.  And as it happens, I have a rant nearly ready to post.  But you can't rant and rave all the time, or you become a ranting raver... or a raving ranter... or something.  And that's not really who I am.

So I thought I'd change things up a bit, today, and give you a tour of my yard.  After all, spring has sprung, summer is nearly here, and it's nice to be outdoors.

Those of you who follow Teapot Musings, know that I've had trouble in the past with deer eating my garden.  Last year, with the help of hubby, we put up a system of metal fence posts and bird netting, and it seemed to do the trick.  We saved the pieces, and put it up again this year... and here is my garden...

... and it's a good thing we put up the fencing.. because right outside the fence, I found some fresh deer droppings!

At the edge of the woods behind the garden, I have some bearded irises that we planted many years ago.  Yes, irises grow from bulbs or rhyzomes.  No, I don't dig up my bulbs each year to protect them over the winter.  Yes, I've heard that plants growing from bulbs will get smaller and less colorful each year.  No, I can't explain why these 10 year old irises look like this...      but I'm not going to complain.

Moving along behind the house, we come to my two cherry trees.  Here is the Black Tatarian.. I call him Blackie.
  and his foliage looks wonderful this year.
He and the other tree - Stella (I call her Stella, of course)....  seem to be quite compatible.  Last year was their first year with me... but they blossomed even then.. and this year they blossomed even more than last year.  While Stella and Blackie blossom at the same time, they don't get cherries at the same time... Stella gets cherries much earlier.
Here are some of Stella's cherries.. let's hope that we get them, before the birds do!
We also have an apple tree.  What's its name, you ask?  Don't be silly, why would I name an apple tree?  Last year it blossomed, but without setting fruit... this year it looks like we'll get some fruit.

Moving around to the front of the house...  we've got several varieties of hostas, as well as a bunch of other flowers, up on the stone wall.  And part way up the hill is a kwanzan cherry tree.  Non-fruit-bearing, but pretty, nonetheless.

At the top of the hill is a ... well, that's a problem.  We don't know what it is.. and we'd like to get another.  So if anyone knows, feel free to share the info.

And then I have my miniature rose bushes.  Nice number of buds already; they'll bloom all summer long, once they get going.

And while I like planting things in the ground.. I can't see any of that from the kitchen.  But that's ok, because hubby likes putting together hanging baskets.. so this is the view that I have, courtesy his efforts.

And that's it.  

Oh, wait.. I nearly forgot... I have a bit of an experiment going.  I read that you can start more celery, from the stump of a stalk of celery.  I didn't believe it.. and decided to disprove it.  So I dug the stump of the celery stalk out of the trash, and put it in a dish of water, as directed.  Here is is, after less than a week.  
I guess I'm growing celery!!  Not quite sure what to do with it, next.. but that's what google is for.

Whew... a bit exhausting.. all of this planting, and nurturing, and experimenting.  But at least there was no ranting or raving today.  Still ...  I need a cup of tea.

Monday, May 23, 2016

I Can't HEAR You

As children, if someone* was saying something we didn't want to hear, we would stick our fingers in our ears.  If that person continued to talk, we would call out "I can't HEAR you"... mostly to drown out what that person was saying.  If we wanted to be even more clear, we would add 'lalalalalalalala', which also served to annoy the person who was trying to talk.

* Obviously this only applied to other children.  It would have been very disrespectful to do this to parents or other adults... and the repercussions would likely have been severe!

This response was used at home against siblings, in schoolyards against classmates, and in many other locations, but the common denominator was that it was always done in person. After all, if someone sent you a letter and you didn't like what they were saying, it just wasn't very effective to send them a letter back that said 'I can't hear you', or even 'I didn't read your letter'.  And besides, while the point of stating 'I can't hear you', especially with the added 'lalalalalala', was to annoy the other person, the major point of sticking your fingers in your ears was so that indeed, you couldn't hear what was being said.  So sending a written response didn't meet either of these goals.  You'd already read the letter, and sending a letter in response... was still a response, no matter what it said.

These days, we can choose from more methods of communication than ever.  In addition to face-to- face discussions and telephone calls, we now have things like skype.  In addition to letters, we now have emails, texts, and facebook.  And interestingly enough, we now have variations on 'I can't hear you'.  We can delete emails and text messages, of course.. either after, or even before we read them.  And we can change our email settings so that emails from certain senders are automatically diverted to certain folders, or even trashed without having been read.  We can block particular phone numbers in our text messages, and we can refuse skype requests.

And we can unfriend people on facebook.

Last week, someone unfriended me.  Not just 'unfollowed' me, but actually unfriended me.  If someone decides to quit following you, you never know.   You go on your merry way, posting to your facebook page as usual, never knowing who is reading your posts - and who is not.   But unfriending is a bit different.  When you unfriend someone, they can no longer post on your page, and they can no longer see what you've posted on your own page.  The person being unfriended doesn't get a message that you've unfriended them, but if they go to your page, they discover that they can't post and they can't see what is being posted by you.

Essentially, unfriending is the facebook version of sticking your fingers in your ears... although the other side doesn't know you can't hear them until they try to go on your page.

Now you might think I'd be a tad upset by this, but I have to tell you, quite sincerely, that I am not.  I have long been a proponent of the notion that people should feel free to use their delete key on emails, and they should feel free to check caller ID and not take a phone call if they don't wish to speak to the caller.  I like to think that I am consistent.. and so, being consistent, I take the position that people should feel free to unfriend people they don't want to hear from.

Frankly, unfriending someone is actually much more civilized than sticking your fingers in your ears and shouting "I can't hear you! (lalalalalalala)".

And before you start accusing me of ulterior motives, the person who unfriended me does not follow Teapot Musings, and I strongly doubt that they've ever read any of my postings.  Nope, no ulterior motives.  I'm just sitting here, rather amused by the 2016 version of sticking your fingers in your ears.

And of course the biggest problem with sticking your fingers in your ears, is that now you can't make a cup of tea.  Fortunately, my fingers are nowhere near my ears, because I'm in the mood for a nice big mug.

Friday, May 13, 2016

Friday the 13th

Yes, I know.. it's a bit cliche to write a Friday the 13th post, on Friday the 13th... but I'm doing it anyway.

Frankly, I didn't realize until a short time ago (ie, well after lunchtime) that this WAS Friday the 13th. Oh sure.. when I make an appointment, I look at the date.  But when I check my schedule for the day, my app automatically opens to the current date.  And when I prepare a letter or some other document, I have the program set so that it automatically enters the current date.  So I don't really pay attention to the calendar date, most of the time.

But this is Friday, May 13th.. and it seemed like that was worthy of a quick google and wiki check. And, as usual, I wanted to share what I found.

While 13 is considered unlucky in Hispanic and Greek cultures... the unlucky day there is Tuesday, not Friday.  So today is not a big deal to them... but boy oh boy, watch out for Tuesday, September 13th, this year.

In Italy, the unlucky day is Friday, just as it is in the US...but the unlucky date is 17... so Italians will be biting their nails next month.  Not only is the unlucky date #17.. but #13 is considered lucky, so the Italians are probably doing all sorts of dangerous things today, knowing that it's safe.

Beyond that, there's a lot of conflicting information.  In Great Britain, it's been reported that there are more car accidents on Friday the 13th... but the Dutch Centre for Insurance Statistics reports there are actually fewer accidents, which is attributed to the fact that people are extra-careful, since it is indeed Friday the 13th.

Interestingly enough, assuming that you're using the Gregorian calendar, there is actually a slightly greater chance of the 13th day of the month falling on a Friday, than on any other day.  No, I don't understand why... but  apparently it's true, although it's also very, very, very slight.  For every 400 years, there are 684 Thursdays and 684 Saturdays that are the 13th day of the month, while there are 688 Fridays that are designated #13, and the other four days  of the week fall somewhere in between 684 and 688.

All of which makes me wonder why there are 7 days in a week, instead of 8, as the Beatles suggested. Or 4, which is my favorite number.  Or even 13 days a week.  Then there would only be... oh wait... that would mean we might not have Fridays at all.  

Never mind.  It's clearly time for a cup of tea.