PSA-230523-Smelly Onions

(Fake News)

I did not write this post. I wish I had. These words best describe her AI as pre-school level.


WASHINGTON, D.C. — In an effort to establish government oversight of the growing role of artificial intelligence in our society, President Biden has appointed Vice President Kamala Harris as “A.I. Czar.”  The President expressed hope that Harris’s track record of slowing the spread of intelligence will be of use.

“She’s been fighting against the threat of intelligence her whole life,” Biden said in brief remarks when the announcement was made.  “When it comes to creating an environment where intelligence is restricted and unable to advance too far, Vice President Harris is more qualified for the job than anyone else.

Radecar dingleflurble (as we understood him say).  “Fears among the general public and leaders of the tech industry alike regarding the increasing growth and prevalence of artificial intelligence have led to calls for more oversight, which Vice President Harris was more than willing to provide — as soon as she was informed what “oversight” means.

“It is my distinct honor to provide real leadership over the growth of artificial intelligence.  Intelligence that is artificial is real, and intelligence that is real may, in reality, be artificial.  It is within that reality that artificiality can become real,” Harris said in something that seemed like a statement.

Sources within the White House indicated Biden was supremely confident that Harris’s leadership in the area of intelligence would be just as successful as her tenure as Border Czar.

At publishing time, Vice President Harris was reportedly already assembling a special task force to deal with the potential threat of intelligence, asking New York Congresswoman Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez to serve as her advisor.

Weird Collections

Why do people collect things? I think it is because it is fun and it sets a person apart from others who do not collect. My own fascination with collecting began in the fourth grade with Sister Flora. During the winter months when the weather was too cold or too snowy we often ate lunch indoors. I was fortunate enough to live within 500 feet of my school, and went home for lunch most of the time. By nine years old I could make myself a peanut butter sandwich, pour a glass of milk on my own, and then have enough time to watch Uncle Johnny Coons on TV before returning to class. Mom worked and was not at home for lunch so when the weather was really bad, she packed us a lunch and told us to eat at school. I didn’t mind because dressing for the cold took time which cut into play time.

During an eat-in lunch we were on our own for thirty minutes while our Nun ate her lunch. When she returned she always had some fun thing to amuse us with. One day, she introduced us to stamp collecting. She was a collector and needed a source of new stamps. Just about every kid in our school was the offspring of immigrants. Our parents had relatives in the “old country” with whom they communicated by mail. So we were a source of stamps from many countries. Sister Flora taught us geography by explaining where the the stamps came from. She taught us about perforations, and cancellation marks, and watermarks. She showed us how to make our own stamp book by drawing a grid on notebook paper. She introduced us to the hinges used for attaching stamps onto the pages of our homemade collection book. After a couple of lunch meetings on stamps she established a stamp club which met once week. I have never stopped collecting stamps since. I haven’t put a stamp into an album for at least forty years, but I cannot throw away a commemorative stamp. I merely tear off the corner of the envelope and keep the stamp in a special drawer of my desk. About thirty years ago, a neighbor who belonged to the same garden club told us that we could benefit birds by donating used stamps to the Auduban Society. When my desk drawer gets too full of loose stamps I put them into a bag and take them to Kay’s house, and she relays them to Auduban. I have one very large corrugated box full of my stamp collections and loose stamps that I cannot throw away. Since the hobby has lost its attraction to the general populace the demand for old collections is non-existent. One of my heirs will have to deal with it.

My wife Barbara loved to save things too, and she was avid in the pursuit of items to add to her collections. Her largest collection, by far was her trove of depression glass. The glass came in several colors namely blue, pink, yellow, green, and clear, she specialized in saving pink. The most popular color is blue, and also the most expensive because of the demand. Although she collected the pink dishes and put them on display, her philosophy was to use them on special occasions. She would set the table with her best china and also use pink serving bowls from her collection.

Next to her depression glass collection, she had a love for deer. She loved the real live wild animal for its sleek lines, beautiful color, and gentle nature. No doubt the Disney film Bambi had something to do with this fascination. By the end of her life she had accumulated over three hundred ceramic, plastic, or glass deer. She had salt and pepper shakers, pitchers, and decorations of every conceivable form. Our house was loaded with deer. They were on tables, book cases, and shelves, in every room of the house. Barb and I spent untold hours attending antique shows searching for collectibles. It was our one form of entertainment that turned us both on.

Collections can become a big thing to dispose of. After Barb died, and I was emotionally strong enough to begin the chore of cleaning the house to prepare it for sale I learned the hard fact of life that something you paid five bucks for might net fifty cents. Had she lived she would have died from the shock of having to get rid of her collection for so little. She got her money’s worth from the joy these items gave her.

I began a new collection about ten years ago when I bought a bottle of Cabernet wine from Australia called Nineteen Crimes. The wine isn’t very spectacular, but when I discovered that each cork was printed with one of the nineteen crimes I began to save them. The story behind the name and the crimes goes back several hundred years to when Australia was a possession of England, and England had all these weird laws on the books and decided that if one was found to be guilty of any of them that their sentence would involve being shipped to Australia for life. I had to have all nineteen crime corks before I could switch brands. Well that hasn’t happen for a number of reasons. The biggest one being that some of the crimes are not coming on the corks. I”m still looking for those final crimes.

In order to write this post I found it necessary to take inventory of the corks I do have. Come on, it’s time to quit this non-sense. I’m still lacking no.s 1, 6, and 19. It makes one wonder if the company is withholding them on purpose to addict suckers like me into continuing to buy their swill. The laws are hilariously funny, although I’m sure at the time the perpetrators didn’t think so when they found themselves chained to the inside of a dungy ship for a four month, thirteen thousand mile trip to a foreign continent inhabited by kangaroos and the world’s deadliest snakes.

One of my favorite crimes is number #5, impersonating an Egyptian, WTF???? What could possibly be so bad about wanting to look like an Egyptian? I think number nine should be adopted here in the USA, instead we are going the other way, and allow thieves to get away with stolen goods, #9 Assault with the intent to rob.

The punishment given to the people for these crimes has yielded a population of really nice people. I like Aussies for a number of reasons, and being an ancestor of a 19 crimes perpetrator is not one of them.

Anyway, I must continue to buy my Cabernet from Nineteen crimes until I have numbers one, six, and nineteen in the bag with all the others.

Do Men Write Books Anymore?

There was a time when the book shelves were loaded with the work of authors with names like Ernest Hemingway, Charles Dickens, John Steinbeck, James Michener, James Patterson, John Grisham, William Faulkner, Nickolas Sparks, and Jack Kerouac. Where have they gone? To me they have lost the battle of words to the ladies, at least in my library they have. When I search the shelves for new work it seems that the ladies outnumber the men by at least four to one. Don’t get me wrong, I have nothing against ladies, but the tone of their pen is not as exciting as that of Tom Clancy telling a suspenseful espionage story. I have to admit that when the story involves a tender love scene the ladies have an edge over us. Perhaps there is something we can learn from them. On the other hand, if the scene involves hot sex, a man can tell it better.

Nine of the books I have read this year have been by women, and thirteen have been by men. I rate each book on a five star system, and the average rating for the men is 4.2 while the women scored 4.5. The story telling ability of ladies is obviously appealing to me. If I exclude everything but fiction from the scoring the ladies still win the war 6 to 5. I suppose that I could argue that the men take on more serious non-fiction like history, biography, and science leaving only the mushy stuff to the ladies, but that would be chauvinistic. One of the best historical fiction books I read was The Last Train to London, which I reviewed on this blog, and it was penned by a lady.

I began writing this piece thinking I would report on how poorly women write compared to men, but I have convinced myself with my own data that women authors rock. I love them and will read more of their work, I am woke to their ability to tell a story a man will like. Now it is time to return to the library to pick another fictional novel written by a woman.

Looking Into the Mirror

Today I completed reading The Last Train to London, by Meg Waite Clayton. It left me saddened. The title caught me when I first picked it up at the library, as do most of the books I read. The premise of this one is what I call historical fiction which by my definition it is a fictional story based on historical events.

The story is told through the eyes of a Dutch woman Geertruida Wijsmuller-Meijer who preferred to be called Tante Truus (Aunty Truus). She is responsible for rescuing ten thousand Jewish children from the Nazis during World War Two by transporting them to Holland and then to England between 1933 -1940. The story is beautiful and inspiring, but the ruthlessness of the Nazi regime that perpetrated their racism upon so many people made me sad.

Deep seated emotions of hatred were opened in my mind by remembering WWII and Nazi atrocities. War stories and news reels of the fighting taught me to hate all Germans and Japanese. It was a struggle to unlearn and reprogram my mind to believe that not all Germans were Nazis. A few years after the war ended my brother Bill was drafted into the army, and was sent to serve in Germany. He spent two years there in the peacetime reconstruction period. He wound up bringing home a German girl to marry. It was she who taught me to separate the average German citizen from the Nazi’s. I thank her for changing my mind.

When I watched our own American people terrorizing cities over the last couple of years with their “peaceful” protests it mirrors the action of the Nazis who “peacefully”(I use the term “peacefully” as sarcastically as possible) took over Austria, Czechoslovakia, Poland, France, and Holland with their “loving” treatment of the local citizens who dared resist. If one didn’t do and act as they were told they were shot, beaten, sent to work camps and treated like slaves. Violence, confiscation, and destruction of personal property, torture, and imprisonment were the order of the day. Of course Jews were the primary target, but so were non-jews who resisted or, God forbid, helped a Jew. The one difference between a Nazi demonstration and a BLM, ANTIFA, or George Floyd demonstration was the American protests were totally conducted by citizens, while the Nazis were done by the full German military.

No doubt, it will take me several days to get over this emotional reaction to a story, but I am glad I read it. The phrase “never again” becomes meaningful. The trouble as I see it, is that it has been eighty-five years since these atrocities took place, and there are not very many people remaining alive to be able to reawaken these emotions. It frightens me to think that it will take a new Nazi-like movement in America to reteach us the lessons of damage that can be done by perpetrating such racist hatred.

Grandpa Wigh Reincarnated

One of my favorite phrases to use is, “the only thing wrong with retirement is that there are no days off.” The only way I know that today is Saturday is to look at my phone. Otherwise, all days seem to run into each other, and before I know it a week is gone, and I’m still thinking it is last Tuesday. This week, I missed a planned meeting because I got lost in time, and the task at hand carried more priority than the meeting.

Yesterday, I drove lovely to visit one of her girlfriends. While there I asked the friend if she remembered what I had promised to give her the last time we met. “Yes,” she replied, “I want a picture and you said you’d give me one.” She led me into her room to show me a picture on the wall that she wanted to replace. Actually, I thought to myself, that is a great picture, why would she want to replace it? Just as if she read my mind she said, “I’m tired of looking at it. I would like a sea with mountains and trees, use your imagination.”

While Lovely and her friend chatted away in a foreign tongue that I don’t understand, I sat scrolling through the photos on my phone. Surely, I have something with all the elements she desired. I scrolled all the way through 2011 before Lovely ended the visit. I found a number of photos that I would be proud to give her. Most of them were of the Monet Vision, and the remainder were sunsets, some at sea, and some of the desert. Now the task of choosing and getting Lovely’s approval before setting out to have the picture enlarged, printed, and framed. I have to get better at fulfilling my promises because I now have three things ahead of this one that await packaging, and shipping.

With nothing but time on my hands the temptation is always to put things off until tomorrow. Yet, I should adopt a policy of don’t put it off until tomorrow you may not live that long. Many people think that is wrong, and somewhat negative but the fact remains that it is reality.

Last week, I visited my brother who is seven years my senior. He was recently hospitalized and at death’s door after oral surgery. It seems he developed sepsis, a systemic infection afterwards, and it nearly killed him. Up to that point he still drove his car regularly, and was a free spirit at the retirement home, often disappearing for two weeks at a time to visit his summer home in Michigan. As he put it to me, “they took my key away.” As we talked he stopped for a moment and said “I think I’ll escape this place soon.” His heart pines for the country life. During our visit I saw him in profile and saw our Grandpa Jim. Grandpa didn’t have teeth, and Bill’s uppers are now out and his upper lip is collapsed inward, and damned if he doesn’t look exactly like Grandpa Wigh.

I reminded Bill that our own father gave up driving when he was in his early eighties. “Yeah,” Bill said, “He told me he nearly crashed someone because he couldn’t lift his leg fast enough to brake, and just squeeked by an accident.” It makes me think about my own driving which is becoming somewhat questionable at times, so many times while driving I am thinking of making a lane change and literally feel a presence next to me then out of the corner of my eye, I see a vehicle in the blind spot. Thankfully, the worst has been a loud horn that saved me. I can vision someone taking the key away from me in the near future.