Category Archives: alphabet

A to Z Meme

Stolen – again! – from the Frog:

• Are you available? You mean for parties and other light entertainment? No. And I’ve Djed my first and last wedding.
• What is your age? I’m 575 months old.
• What annoys you? Rude, impolite, ignorant people; this tends to include right-wing talk show hosts and litterers.

• Do you know anyone named Billy? Well, he’s Bill now. went to school with him, K-12 in Binghamton. He lives not far from here and comments on my TU blog occasionally. .
• When is your birthday? March 7.
• Who is your best friend? There are three or four people I’d think about: one or two two from kindergarten, one from the first day of college and one from Albany.

• What’s your favorite candy? M&Ms. plain. Tegan’s got me counting the green ones, which seems appropriate to me.
• Crush? No, I don’t have one of those refrigerators that does that.
• When was the last time you cried? Maybe my niece’s high school graduation.

• Do you daydream?: Suddenly, without warning…oh, wait, excuse me. what was the question again?
• What’s your favorite kind of dog? Not really a dog kind of guy. Or dogs aren’t really a Roger kind of species. That said, there were a couple golden retrievers I’ve liked, alas, both deceased.
• What day of the week is it? Tell me why. That a reference to a Boomtown Rats song.

• How do you like your eggs? Actually I like eggs any number of ways: fried, boiled, poached, omelet. They’re usually scrambled.
• Have you ever been in the emergency room? A few times. Once with my daughter, where we discovered her peanut butter allergy. Once with my wife, when she fell in the shower. More than a few times with me. The first time was a car accident when I was 19, and subsequently a few times before I had a primary care physician. But the last time I was injured; – broke a rib a year ago – I went to the urgent care place, which was much more civilized.
• Ever pet an elephant? I think so.

• Do you use fly swatters? Yes, and seriously, once killed seven with one blow. It was a laundromat tied to a camp my father dragged us to north of Binghamton on the way to Syracuse. Killed a minimum of 50 flies that day.
• Have you ever used a foghorn? Possibly not.
• Is there a fan in your room? When it gets warm enough, I haul a standing rotating fan from the attic. It’s about warm enough. we actually own a ceiling fan but haven’t installed it yet.

• Do you chew gum? Only when I fly.
• Do you like gummy candies? They’re OK; not my first choice.
• Do you like gory movies? Generally not, though I found The Shining, the Kubrick/Nicholson version so awful, it was (unintentionally?) hilarious at times.

• How are you? I’m OK; thanks for asking. How are YOU?
• What’s your height? I used to be 5′ 11 5/8″, but I think I have shrunk 1/8 of an inch.
• What color is your hair? What hair? Brown to most gray.

• What’s your favorite ice cream? Strawberry.
• Have you ever ice skated? Only to woo the wife.; it worked.
• Ever been in an igloo? I have a vague recollection, but no idea where or when.

• What’s your favorite Jelly Bean? It’s more what I DON’T like: apple, banana, watermelon, black licorice. Beyond that, whatever.
• Have you ever heard a really hilarious joke? Yes, but you’d better find someone else to repeat it.
• Do you wear jewelry? Wedding ring. I used to wear a watch, but I kill watches. Really.

• Who do you want to kill? Not really my thing.
• Have you ever flown a kite? Absolutely, even with the daughter.
• Do you think kangaroos are cute? In a marsupial sort of way. Now Bob Keeshan -HE wa cute.

• Are you laid back? Less than I think I am.
• Lions or Tigers? Bears, oh my. I like lions’ manes, but I prefer baseball to football.
• Do you like black licorice? Gag, cough, sputter….NO!!

• Favorite movie as a kid? West Side Story, clearly.
• Ever shopped at Moosejaw? What’s a Moosejaw?
• Favorite store at the mall? Hate the mall with a passion.

• Do you have a nickname? None that anyone uses to my face.
• Whats your favorite number? 37
• Do you prefer night or day? Depends what I’m doing.

• What’s your one wish? That ppeople try to be a bit more civil to each other.
• Are you an only child? Only for 16 1/2 months. Two younger sisters.
• Do you like the color orange? On oranges, yes.

• What are you most paranoid about? I’m not paranoid; they’re PROBABLY not even trying to get me.
• Piercings? None.
• Do you know anyone named Penelope? When I was a kid; not well.

• Are you quick to judge people? No, I have the annoying habit of waiting to get more evidence.
• Do you like Quaker Oats? Yes, but the store brand is fine too.
• Know anyone that makes quilts? I do, sorta. Haven’t seen her in years.

Do you think you’re always right? I’ve gotten smart enough to know when I have no idea. So when I HAVE an idea, I’m right about 80% of the time.
• Do you watch reality TV? Only when I’m passing through the room when my wife watches Dancing with the Stars. I have watched Survivor (two seasons), American Idol (seasons 2-5), and probably most bizarrely, The Real World (the first five or six seasons; even own a book about the first four.)
• Reason to cry? Most often over beautiful music.

• Do you prefer sun or rain? A little of both for a nice balance. And then we get a rainbow.
• Do you like snow? In moderation.
• What’s your favorite season? Spring.

• Time is it? 5:10 am.
• What time did you wake up? I’ll let you know when i do.

• Can you ride a unicycle? Doubt it, but never tried.
• Do you know anyone with a unibrow? No.
• Uncles do you have? Zero. Parents were both only children.

• What’s the worst vegetable? Lima beans.
• Did you ever watch Veggie Tales? Once.
• Ever considered being vegan? Not seriously.

• What’s your worst habit? Got a week…
• Do you like water rides? Don’t know.
• Ever been inside a windmill? Don’t think so.

• Have you ever had an x-ray? I think there is A year ago, most recently.
• Ever used a Xerox machine? Actually our copier’s a Canon.

• Do you like the color yellow? Electrical banana.
• What year were you born in?: 1953
• Do you yell when you’re angry? Generally not any more.

• Do you believe in the zodiac? It has its amusing coincidences.
• What’s your zodiac sign? Something fishy.
• When was the last time you went to the zoo? Mid-1990s in Binghamton.
I should acknowledge the passing of artist Dave Simons at the age of 54. Evanier talks about him here, but for a better perspective about how I knew him, albeit many years ago, read Fred Hembeck’s June 10 post. He was a talented guy and was always very decent to me.


A is for Alphabet

My wife went to Ukraine in the summer of 2002 – the preparation for which was complicated by a bat in our home. A couple years later, a friend of hers made the same teaching trip and gave our newborn daughter an alphabet book from there. The title appears to be AbETKA – it’s the B-looking letter that’s the second, rather than the third letter of the Cyrillic alphabet.

This alphabet was not entirely foreign to me. I grew up in a city called Binghamton, NY, an upstate New York locale with a number of eastern Europeans. The Russians and the Ukrainian churches, primarily Eastern Orthodox in faith, sometimes used both Cyrillic and Latin/Roman.

As for the latter, it has some variety among the many languages in which it appears, such as accented letters (á, è, î), extra letters, and ligatures (two or three letters joined together – æ, e.g). this page has links how to type special letters in Windows, MAC, and HTML,m plus much more.

A recent Final JEOPARDY!: 2009-01-09 ALPHABETS: In the phonetic alphabet used by the U.S. military, it’s the only letter that has the same name as a warrior people.

Ending up with the Jack Kirby alphabet and a couple of Sesame Street pieces:



JEOPARDY! – What is Zulu?

X is for Xmas

A couple things:
1. As this Wikipedia article suggests, the use of the X(or a variant) has long historical precedent, close to a millennium, long before the days of modern advertising. The word “Christ” and its compounds, including “Christmas”, have been abbreviated in English for at least the past 1,000 years, long before the modern “Xmas” was commonly used.
“Christ” was often written as “XP” or “Xt”; there are references in the Anglo-Saxon Chronicle as far back as AD 1021. This X and P arose as the uppercase forms of the Greek letters χ and ρ, used in ancient abbreviations for Χριστος (Greek for “Christ”), and are still widely seen in many Eastern Orthodox icons depicting Jesus Christ. The labarum, an amalgamation of the two Greek letters rendered as ☧, is a symbol often used to represent Christ in Catholic, Protestant, and Orthodox Christian Churches.
In ancient Christian art, χ and χρ are abbreviations for Christ’s name. In many manuscripts of the New Testament and icons, X is an abbreviation for Christos, as is XC (the first and last letters in Greek, using the lunate sigma); compare IC for Jesus in Greek. The Oxford English Dictionary documents the use of this abbreviation back to 1551, 50 years before the first English colonists arrived in North America and 60 years before the King James Version of the Bible was completed. At the same time, Xian and Xianity were in frequent use as abbreviations of “Christian” and “Christianity”; and nowadays still are sometimes so used, but much less than “Xmas”.

So, no, this is not my assault on Christmas; it is my attempt to get to the historical roots.

2. At least in my church calendar, we are in the midst of Christmastide (or Xmastide, if you will), beginning on December 25 and going forward to Epiphany or Three Kings Day, or as my mother still calls it, Russian Christmas. In my hometown, there were lots of Russians and most of them attended the Russian Orthodox Church. THESE are the 12 days of Christmas, which is good because I’m still working on some presents. Before Christmas Eve, I’m not particularly interested in playing Christmas music, but NOW ever more so.

The pleasant surprise this Christmas was that I went out front to get the newspaper on Christmas morning. I discovered a doll for Lydia from an unexpected source – the three neighbor girls a few houses up. I don’t even know their names, and they don’t know Lydia’s (the card referred to her as the “little cutie”). I suspect that the girls, who appear to be between 10 and 14, saw a cute doll while they were shopping, and decided to give it to someone they saw waiting with her mom or dad at the bus stop in front of their house each morning.
December 26: I’m wearing a Santa hat (one I had left at work two days earlier). I had a red coat, and a beard. I’m waiting for a bus when this guy I didn’t even see said, “Hey, Santa.” I turn around. The guy continues, “Got some change? I don’t get any money until the first of the month. ” Roger might have turned him down, but Santa could not.

If you lived in the United States at Christmastime, you might remember the Folgers coffee commercial where “Peter” makes a surprise visit home for the holidays; it ran for over a decade and a half. The story behind the commercial.


P is for Popular Mechanics

I suppose I could have done a piece on politics or Presidents. I’m still processing (a good P word) on that concept of President-elect Obama, which makes this only the second time I’ve voted for a Presidential candidate who actually won. Maybe next time through the alphabet I’ll expound on that.

Meanwhile, there was this list in Popular Mechanics magazine back in September about 100 Skills Every Man Should Know: 2008’s Ultimate DIY List, which noted that “Brains and charm are fine, but a real guy needs to know how to do real stuff.”

There were lots of comments about should and should not have been on the list, but I won’t go there except that it tended to be carrist, i.e., automobile-oriented. This quiz does push some buttons for me, though, in that I am not what people would consider “handy”. What they used to call Shop in 7th and 8th grades, dealing with wood and ceramics was a disaster for me.


1. Handle a blowout – I suppose no
2. Drive in snow – no
3. Check trouble codes – what does this mean? Look at the gauges? That I can do.
4. Replace fan belt – no
5. Wax a car – this I’ve done, but not in a long time
6. Conquer an off-road obstacle – I don’t even know what that means, but I’ll say no
7. Use a stick welder – if I knew what a stick welder was, that would help
8. Hitch up a trailer – have done, though not lately
9. Jump start a car – have done this, but not lately

Handling Emergencies

10. Perform the Heimlich – I’ve actually successfully done this
11. Reverse hypothermia – I could do that
12. Perform hands-only CPR – I’ve actually trained to do that
13. Escape a sinking car – I had a recurring dream as a child about a sinking car; I think I could

14. Carve a turkey – have done it
15. Use a sewing machine – not well
16. Put out a fire – yes, actually
17. Home brew beer – disinclined
18. Remove bloodstains from fabric – seems as though I’ve done this
19. Move heavy stuff – I’ve helped on over 100 moves, including a piano
20. Grow food – done this a few years ago
21. Read an electric meter – actually one thing I used to do all the time as a kid

22. Shovel the right way – I don’t know what that means. But I do have an ergonomically correct shovel, so I’ll say yes.
23. Solder wire – have done it
24. Tape drywall – have done it, did not enjoy
25. Split firewood – have done a while back
26. Replace a faucet washer – did this a while ago
27. Mix concrete – for some reason, did this, though not lately
28. Paint a straight line – not really, unless I’m using a straight edge
29. Use a French knife – don’t know
30. Prune bushes and small trees – actually think I’m good at this; did it this summer
31. Iron a shirt – I can, but I don’t enjoy it; that’s why God created permanent press
32. Fix a toilet tank flapper – one of those things I was curious about as a kid and actually figured out
33. Change a single-pole switch – no
34. Fell a tree – never have even tried
35. Replace a broken windowpane – never tried
36. Set up a ladder, safely – I assume so
37. Fix a faucet cartridge – I’ll say no
38. Sweat copper tubing – have done
39. Change a diaper – this I absolutely have accomplished
40. Grill with charcoal -yeah, but not lately
41. Sew a button on a shirt – I’ll say no. I’ve actually done it, but it always takes me so long doing and redoing that I feel peevish.
42. Fold a flag – I’d need the manual, but I used to do it in Cub Scouts

Medical Myths

43. Treat frostbite – yes
44. Treat a burn -yes
45. Help a seizure victim – yes, on a city bus in Albany
46. Treat a snakebite – I’ve read how
47. Remove a tick – yes

Military Know-How
48. Shine shoes – I was actually good at this at one point
49. Make a drum-tight bed – absolutely not
50. Drop and give the perfect pushup – define “perfect”

51. Run rapids in a canoe – no
52. Hang food in the wild – ? let’s just say no
53. Skipper a boat – no
54. Shoot straight – no
55. Tackle steep drops on a mountain bike – no thank you
56. Escape a rip current – I did this once, but I don’t know how

Primitive Skills
57. Build a fire in the wilderness – probably not
58. Build a shelter – maybe
59. Find potable water – possibly

Surviving Extremes

60. Floods – haven’t yet
61. Tornadoes – ditto
62. Cold – yes
63. Heat – yes
64. Lightning – hasn’t been an issue

Teach Your Kids

65. Cast a line – no
66. Lend a hand – I try
67. Change a tire – she’s not even five
68. Throw a spiral – ditto
69. Fly a stunt kite – what’s “stunt kite”?
70. Drive a stick shift – no way
71. Parallel park – no
72. Tie a bowline – ?
73. Tie a necktie – maybe someday
74. Whittle – I don’t whittle
75. Ride a bike – eventually; she has a trike

76. In
stall a graphics card – I don’t do
77. Take the perfect portrait – trial and error
78. Calibrate HDTV settings – not yet applicable
79. Shoot a home movie – no
80. Ditch your hard drive – no

Master Key Workshop Tools
81. Drill driver – no
82. Grease gun – no
83. Coolant hydrometer – ? no
84. Socket wrench – possibly
85. Test light – ?
86. Brick trowel – no
87. Framing hammer – ?
88. Wood chisel – we have one
89. Spade bit – ?
90. Circular saw – we don’t have one
91. Sledge hammer – have used one
92. Hacksaw – had one
93. Torque wrench – have used
94. Air wrench – ?
95. Infrared thermometer – no
96. Sand blaster – no
97. Crosscut saw – have used one
98. Hand plane – used one and ruined perfectly good items in shop
99. Multimeter – ?
100. Feeler gauges ?

Obviously, my very manhood is threatened.

The ABCs of Music

Tom the Dog made this abecedarian list; actually, he’s made at least three recently, and I haven’t done one since Thanksgiving 2005, I don’t believe.

So, these are songs I like. I think they’re a bit goofy, not necessarily in a Weird Al or Dr. Demento sort of way (though one of the artists does appear on a Demento album I own). Some are actually good songs, though a couple are terrible.

ABBA- Waterloo. Yeah, I know, they rule, a top 10 group for Mr. Hembeck. But they’re still a guilty pleasure for me.
Bee Gees-Jive Talkin’. Released before Saturday Night Fever, but included on the soundtrack, I find myself walkin’ down the street like Tony Manero when I hear it, which really hurts.
Costello, Elvis-Chewing Gum. Elvis’ birthday was last month and I was listening to Spike, my favorite EC album (and apparently no one else’s). I said to one of my co-workers, “Get that chewing gum out of your ears!” She said, “Why DID you say that to me?” It was this song featuring the Dirty Dozen Brass Band.
Doors-Touch Me. I’m not a big Jim Morrison fan; I went out with a woman (briefly) who was. Yet, I’m always waiting around for the “stronger than dirt” line.
Emerson, Lake and Palmer-Nut Rocker. At the end of the excess that was ELP doing Pictures at an Exhibition, the coda on the album was a variation on the Nutcracker Suite; a version is shown here. The song was originally done in 1962 by B. Bumble and the Stingers .
Focus-Hocus Pocus. This is a dopey, yodel-driven song by some Dutch band that was an unlikely hit. I bought the album. Check out a live version here.
Gore, Lesley- Judy’s Turn to Cry. Lesley sang, “It’s my party, and I’ll cry if I want to.” This is the vengeful follow-up. HA, Judy!
Herman’s Hermits-Mrs. Brown, You’ve Got a Lovely Daughter. When I joined the Capitol Records Club when I was 12, I needed to buy 12 albums. Since the Beatles had only a half dozen albums out at the time, one of my selections was The Best of Herman’s Hermits. I used to do a fairly good Peter Noone impression.
Ives, Burl-Funny Way of Laughin’. I don’t know why, but I’ve always been fond of those songs in which the protagonist pretends not to be crying, or doesn’t want to be seen crying (the Temptations’ I Wish it Would Rain comes to mind.)
Jackson Five-Maybe Tomorrow. An overwrought power ballad. I once requested this on a radio station and the DJ took it off before its peak overwroughtness.
Kinks-Skin and Bone. A swing tune about the dangers of dieting. From possibly my favorite Kinks album, Muswell Hillbillies.
Tom Lehrer-the Vatican Rag. This is the artist on a Demento album, the 1950s novelty song Poisoning Pigeons in the Park. But this song is from the great mid-1960s album That Was The Year That Was, which I own on CD. Bizarrely, someone posted on You Tube someone playing the LP on his record player, placing the tonearm on the first track for Part 1, continuing Side 1 and onto Side 2 on Part 2, more of Side 2 on Parts 3 and 4, and finishing up with the theologically incorrect Vatican Rag.
Marcels-Blue Moon. A big doowop hit in 1961.
Napoleon XIV: !Aaah-aH yawA eM ekaT oT gnimoC er’yehT. The backwards B-side version of the annoying They’re Coming to Take Me Away Ha-Haaa!, is also an unlisted final track on the CD Second Coming.
Ohio Express-Yummy Yummy Yummy. Is there a lyric so vapid as “Yummy, yummy, yummy, yummy, I’ve got love in my tummy”? Maybe their hit Chewy, Chewy, which has been used on TV commercials. I often confuse this group with the 1910 Fruitgum Company, their bandmates on Buddha, who had hits such as Simon Says; 1, 2, 3, Red Light; and Special Delivery.
Presley, Elvis-Hey Jude. A truly awful, out-of-tune version on a mixed CD that someone gave me. Listening to a train wreck.
Queen-Somebody to Love. It’s that dramatic, harmonic beginning that I love.
Rascals-More. Talk about overwrought. From the Groovin’ album.
Sinatra-The Lady Is a Tramp. Sometimes, Sinatra is cool (That’s Life), and then there are times when Sinatra thinks he’s cool; this is the latter.
Thomas, Rufus-Do the Funky Chicken. After doing at least four Dog songs, he moved on from canines to poultry. People will jump fences to do the Funky Chicken.
Utopia-Everything Is Going Wrong. Todd Rundgren’s group did this great Beatles parody, Deface the Music; this is the last track, designed in the Strawberry Fields/I Am the Walrus mode.
Van Halen-Happy Trails. The last song on the only Van Halen album I’ve ever owned, this Dale Evans classic is performed goofily.
Who-Boris the Spider. I just like to say “Boris the spider” in the scariest voice I could muster.
XTC-Your Dictionary. This is not a goofy song, this is a nasty song I first heard on a mixed CD.
Young, Neil-Mr. Soul. Neil must have really liked this song. He first recorded it with Buffalo Springfield. Then a live version is the springboard for Springfield’s Broken Arrow. The version I have in mind is the vocoder version on the much-maligned Reactor, which I love.
Zappa, Frank-Cosmic Debris. There are lots of Zappa songs that might have qualified, but this one has the great lyric, “Is that a real poncho or is that a Sears poncho?”
Teen death songs will never die.