Monthly Archives: September 2013

No Pun Intended? Yeah. Right.

WARNING!

What follows is in no way meant to be a treatise on the subject. I really just wanted to share one instance I found entertaining and clever and perhaps say a word or two about the genre. I was, however, reminded just how pervasive this form of humor/wit is and a bit overwhelmed by the quantity (if not the quality) of examples available. Please forgive me.


Food Pun

From the ever-so-delightful world of food puns

I came across this graphic and shared it with my friends on Facebook. It has proven to be quite popular, which makes me wonder about the reasons we call puns (or plays on words) the lowest form of humor, yet they seem to be universally enjoyed . . . even when they’re real groaners. I think this one is quite clever, though.

Oscar Levant once suggested “A pun is the lowest form of humor—when you don’t think of it first.” I find great wisdom in that observation. Nothing evokes groans so much as a pun. Sometimes it seems the most clever ones are rewarded with the loudest groans; perhaps from jealousy. Who knows?

Wikipedia tells us the pun, “also called paronomasia, is a form of word play that suggests two or more meanings, by exploiting multiple meanings of words, or of similar-sounding words, for an intended humorous or rhetorical effect.” In its own, inimitable fashion, the entry goes on, and on, and on, describing everything from humorous puns, to rhetorical puns, to scientific and computing puns. Click on the link, above, and you’ll see what I mean.

A long time ago, in a galaxy far, far away I had friend who said he wanted to be the Chairman of the Revolutionary Committee to Purge Punsters – after the revolution, of course. He suggested his first trial would be against himself. People who really like punning are strange birds indeed.

I find it quite fascinating there is so much time and energy given to knocking puns, yet we seem to spend an equal amount of time making and enjoying them – and there’s no end to the availability of high (low?) quality puns out there. More food puns? Here are a few:

  • The history of cheese is full of holes, but it’s interesting in its own whey
  • At breakfast, the hacker downloaded cornflakes via his cereal port
  • Those who eat candy with both hands are ambi-dextrose
  • When the cannibal showed up late to the luncheon, they gave him the cold shoulder
  • Old colanders never die, they just can’t take the strain anymore
  • Those who forget the pasta are condemned to reheat it

I found hundreds of these, as well as quite a few visual puns. Actually, most of the visual ones rely on words to help them out, as the following (it truly is bad; I know) attests:

Chicken Cord on Blue

Here’s a bit of a crossover pun I encountered. I found it searching specifically for food puns and I guess it is one. However, it also brings a bit of politics and current affairs into the mix.

Warm up the Chinese

Finally, here’s one I rather like despite it having absolutely nothing to do with food:

Big Fan

For good or bad, I’m quite certain I could go on for a very long time and not exhaust the material that’s out there, but I want to circle back to the item that precipitated this post in the first place, and leave you with the song that inspired it. So, here’s Annie Lennox singing Sweet Dreams. Enjoy!


I Review Age of Context: A Must Read

Age of Context Cover

I’m not in the habit of reviewing books, but I have a special interest in this one, not merely because I played a role in its production, but because of what the book means to us culturally and economically. What follows is the review I posted on Amazon.

I have long been enamored of the concept of Systems Thinking, which holds (among other things) that systems cannot be understood absent their context, the interrelationships of components within each system and with other systems of which they are a part (or are a part of them). In my career I have often heard it said “context is king.” I am predisposed to look for the contextual interrelationships in all things I attempt to understand.

It was nearly a year ago when Shel Israel posted a request for help on Facebook. He was looking for people who could serve as fact-checkers for his and Robert Scoble‘s new book. At the time, I responded and suggested I could serve as his proofreader. He accepted. Thus began a wonderful adventure. Soon I was proofing Shel’s columns in Forbes (q.v.) under the general title “The Social Beat”. Most of them were portions of what would become the chapters of this book “Age of Context”.

Since that time, I have proofed nearly every column he’s written related to the book, as well as each chapter that ultimately became this wonderful book. I also outlined at least six of the chapters for the authors to use in interviews and at speaking engagements and, toward the end, ended up checking each hyperlink and compiling them into a single document.

I bring all this up in part to reveal what surely has the appearance of a conflict of interest in my recommending you purchase and read this book. However, the greater part of what I’m revealing is how thoroughly it moved and excited me. I will admit to being a techno-geek, and I am naturally drawn to shiny new things. I am somewhat prejudiced. However, Robert and Shel have carefully scoured the tech world and now present their findings and conclusions, and many of them should fairly knock your socks off. I can’t tell you how many times I practically came out of my seat as I was reading about their discoveries. It made it hard at times to do my job. Frequently, I wanted to add my own comments to what they were explaining. I somehow managed to contain my excitement. It’s their book, after all.

In “Age of Context” you will find dozens and dozens of applications and approaches that seek to more completely understand, and integrate into, various aspects of our lives. Whether in the home, at work, or at play; whether in their approach to health, recreation, designing and building cities, or marketing product intelligently, Robert and Shel bring together (put into context, if you will) what these developments mean and how they can — and most likely will — improve our lives. They also recognize, and in no way gloss over, the important issues of privacy and safety many of these developments raise.

Yes, I am somewhat prejudiced. However, I feel quite safe in saying this is an important book. I don’t care for the term “futurist”, but I’d like to think I can recognize some of the next big things. There are a lot of them in this book. You owe it to yourself to understand the coming storm of innovation and change the authors so presciently offer.

Buy it at Amazon
My Review on Amazon


Wendy’s Family is Growing!

Another basketball in the storm channel

Wendy the BBall seems to have been joined by a relative. Say “Hi” to Oliver

I quite recently introduced you to a new friend my daughter and I encountered on our way to school. We see her every morning and have chosen to name her Wendy, partly in honor of Chuck Noland’s (Tom Hanks) friend, Wilson the volleyball.  Shortly afterward, I discovered Wendy had a couple of friends (Molly and Junior) and I shared a picture of them and added a little commentary about our walks together. Forgive me if I seem repetitive. I’m old and haven’t been out walking in decades (except for golf courses, but even that’s been a while) and it’s getting me all flustered, I guess.

As we were walking to school today we discovered our semi-stationary friend in the storm channel seems to have a new friend; perhaps a close relative. We have chosen to name him Oliver (for Dr. Seuss fans, his full name is Oliver Boliver Butt). Molly and Junior were visiting when we first passed, but when I took this picture on my return trip home, they were nowhere to be found. Wendy seems to have also encountered the company of Haley, the Hula Hoop, not to mention what seems to be a growing collection of various and sundry plastic accoutrements, all of which will be washed out into the ocean if they’re not cleaned up prior to the next rain storm.

Perhaps I should bring it to the attention of one or more of my local Facebook groups. I know there are frequent forays into what passes for a river through our fair city. I’ve walked it myself as a Rocketdyne volunteer a few years ago, picking up plastic and other things that don’t belong there. I sure wish people weren’t so damn careless with their trash. Makes you wonder if they occasionally take a crap in their kitchen or living room.


The Pleasures of Walking

For almost a quarter century I have spent my life planted behind a desk, working and playing with computers and the online (Intra and inter) world. I exercised once in awhile but, for the most part, was content to delude myself into thinking exercising my intellect was sufficient. I knew it wasn’t true, but there was so much to learn and so many things to do, I just couldn’t get off my ass and get the exercise I needed.

This is not the entire truth. Shortly after my 46th birthday, I was summarily drafted to play in a golf tournament being conducted by the Program Office where I worked. I reluctantly agreed and decided it might be best to prepare — that is go to the driving range and hit a few balls — something I had only done once since I determined golf was for old men back when I was 15 years old.

I played in that tournament and within a short while found myself returning to the range on a daily basis. I was hooked. So I got some exercise — I stretched, swung, and walked a fair amount. I did almost every day, sometimes all day, for a few years. You can walk a lot playing 18 holes of golf; as much as five miles (if you play what they call “Army” golf — left, right, left) and I liked to carry my clubs.

Unfortunately,a few years later a crippling attack of Sciatica put a giant crimp, and an indeterminate hold, on my ability to play the game. That was followed shortly thereafter by a decision to adopt, which pretty much ended golf for me. So, for the most part, I’ve remained behind a desk.

Last month, with the entry of our oldest to middle school, which now makes it necessary for our girls to be taken to schools separately, I made the decision to walk our youngest to school each morning. I purchased some walking shoes online, downloaded an app to my phone for keeping track of my walks, and set off to change things a bit.

I should point out I’m now 66 years old and all those sedentary years don’t just drop off in the face of moderate activity, like they used to in . . . say . . . my thirties. Nevertheless, I’ve been pretty diligent and, save for Thursday mornings when I have a Rotary Club breakfast meeting to attend at 7:00 am, I’ve walked my daughter to school every day.

We pass by a flood control channel, populated by this forlorn basketball, every day. I've named it Wendy and now think of her asWilson’s cousin. On this day she was accompanied by these two ducks, who my daughter decided would be named Molly and Junior. I doubt we'll ever see them again, but it was good to see some life in the channel.

We pass by a flood control channel, populated by this forlorn basketball, every day. I’ve named it Wendy and now think of her asWilson’s cousin. On this day she was accompanied by these two ducks, who my daughter decided would be named Molly and Junior. I doubt we’ll ever see them again, but it was good to see some life in the channel.

The walking is still a bit tiring, even though it’s only a mile I’m covering round trip. What I have discovered, however, is the difference in perception from when I’m in a vehicle. Most of us probably don’t realize it, but when we’re in our vehicles the majority of our senses are either stunted or deprived of input.

We see, but most of the things we look at are related to either safety or arriving at a particular destination. We can’t afford to actually pay attention to much else. We hear, but almost all aural input comes from inside the vehicle, unless someone honks at us or an emergency vehicle approaches, siren screaming. We smell little, save for the occasional wafting of BBQ, hamburger, or other food odors. We touch and taste nothing.

Not so on foot. One of the first things I noticed was the houses and yards of my neighbors. Sure, I’d seen them all before many times, but not with the clarity I’m seeing them now. I hear sprinklers, vehicles, children on bicycles and scooters, crows foraging, and other birds singing. I can smell the grass or even stop and smell the roses (or other flowers), and I can touch and taste anything I feel like, though I doubt I’ll be doing much of the latter.

The point is, walking puts you in the middle of things, whereas driving kind of puts you in a layer sitting on top of things. A vehicle serves as insulation, a cocoon of plastic, rubber, and steel. You can roll up the windows, turn on the radio or CD, and sever all but the most necessary of ties with just about everything around you. This isn’t possible when walking. You walk in the same layer as everything around you. Even the vehicles that pass are an important part, because you have to ensure they don’t impinge on the layer you’re in and end up seriously ruining your day.

Another benefit for me is I get to hold my daughter’s hand on the way and her incessant and zany questioning about my preferences amongst lists of things she will provide for me (“would you rather eat Jell-O or be a Zebra?”) becomes more like a game, and less of a distraction. So this walking thing is clearly beneficial for both of us, in at least two ways. I believe I’m going to continue this behavior. You should try it.


An Eerie Sense of Loss

Wedding in the Grove

A really beautiful ceremony in the Avocado grove of the London home – Nipomo, CA

I attended a really nice wedding this past Saturday. The groom is the only son of a long-time, childhood friend. Amazingly, I never had the opportunity to get to know this young man. For numerous reasons, he just didn’t come into my life. Part of it was they lived on the East Coast during his early years and I never made it out there. There are surely other reasons, but I’ll be damned if I can clearly articulate them . . . at least not without straying from the message I want to convey in this post.

After the ceremony and after we’d all sat down and eaten dinner, the Best Man and Maid of Honor presented their toasts. They were good. Actually, they were excellent. Heartfelt, somewhat revealing, and occasionally quite funny. Afterward, they opened the mic up for anyone who wanted to speak and several did.

What was strange for me was I had this eerie feeling I wanted to speak. As I said, I know virtually nothing about the Groom. I have not spent more than a moment in his presence as far as I can remember. Of course, I didn’t (and wouldn’t) get up and take the microphone. I know what I was feeling was, in large part, about me – not him. However, in that moment I was reminded of how similar I have felt at funerals.

Now, before you think I’m getting all macabre, let me explain. I have written before of my feeling attending funerals of people I never had the opportunity to meet. The situation was somewhat similar – at least as far as the having never met part goes. I did not know the son of a long-time friend, someone who had been my roommate more than once. Someone I had spent many years with and with whom I shared dozens of friends. Someone who I feel very much is family.

As those toasts were taking place, and the Bride and Groom were being hailed and revealed, I felt a sudden sense of great loss, much like I have when listening to eulogies. I suppose that’s what made it so damned eerie – as they were very much alive and, in fact, at the very beginning of a special journey. I almost felt guilty.

I had my daughters with me, it was getting late, and we had a nearly three-hour drive ahead of us, so we left shortly after the speeches. Actually, although they wanted to go (it was also getting a bit chilly and we weren’t adequately prepared for it – mea culpa), they wouldn’t leave until they’d had a piece of the wedding cake. I managed to grab a cup of coffee as well. As we were leaving, I remembered something the Best Man had said. He talked about how he and the Groom had spent many hours discussing religion and politics. As we took our leave, I took the Groom aside and remarked about the reality we had never gotten to know one another. I also told him of the many hours I had spent with his father discussing religion and politics and how I hoped, perhaps, we could still get to know each other. He reminded me I have his cell phone number.

I don’t know if we’ll communicate much, but I hope we do. There are so many important things we miss in life, frequently because we’re a bit overwhelmed by all the little things that vie for our attention. I don’t like the sense of loss they bring. On the other hand, I’m reasonably certain this will continue in other ways. There just isn’t enough time and there are too many obligations we all face. <sigh>


My Walking Companion

Almost every school day, starting with this semester, I now walk my youngest to school. It’s only a half mile, so I get a nice easy workout of a little over a mile. Inasmuch as I’m 66 years old and have been sitting behind a computer for the better part of three decades, I need to ease into any workout I engage in. A mile is just about right for me. It also gives me the opportunity to have some quality time with my almost 10-year-old.

Wilson's long lost cousin resting on her way to the sea

Wilson’s long lost cousin resting on her ever-so-slow journey to the Pacific

We walk holding hands and talking about things. Mostly, for some odd reason, she loves to ask me questions about my preferences; sometimes total non sequiturs such as “Would you rather have pancakes or be a Zebra?” I have to admit to being somewhat of a fan of the ridiculous, but her questions sometimes disturb me. Yes . . . me.

We live in a middle-class, suburban neighborhood and the walk is actually pretty boring. On the other hand, it’s nice to slow down and actually see the houses, gardens, etc. in the area, something very few of us do when we’re in our vehicles. Every once in awhile I see something I want to either remember or share and there’s one thing we pass on the way to (and I pass on the way back from) her school. I expect it will remain where we see it until the next good rain, as it’s in a storm drain and there’s very little water flowing through it right now.

I’ve come to think of this item—pretty sure it’s a basketball—as the long-lost cousin of one of the stars of  Cast Away, the Tom Hanks film where he creates a companion, Wilson, out of a volleyball. I thought I would share a picture of her. She truly looks forlorn to me and I feel the need to assuage her fears of abandonment whenever I pass by now. I wish her well in her journey, and I wish to hell it would cool off . . . and rain already.


12 Things You Should Know About Lists

I’ve received plenty of advice or, more precisely, offers to subscribe to newsletters, attend webinars, or purchase books on how to get more traffic to one’s blog. I’ve never been all that interested in them though, truth to tell, I sometimes read a few paragraphs or so. One of the great “formulas” for blog writing is “The List” which, for some odd reason, amuses the hell out of me.

Lists are ubiquitous and endless. Virtually anything you can think of has been – or can be – reduced to a list and chances are someone has created one. In that spirit, today I did a little poking around to confirm my suspicions. For your dining pleasure I bring you 12 lists of 12 things you should know about something or another.

  1. 12 Things You Didn’t Know Your Smartphone Could Do
  2. 12 Things to Know About Medicare Advantage Plans
  3. 12 Things to Know About “Lifted” Suspension Engineering
  4. 12 Things I Wish I’d Known
  5. 12 Things Wedding Photographers Want to Tell You, But Can’t
  6. 12 Things You Didn’t Know You Could do With Mason Jars
  7. 12 Things No One Ever Tells You About Babies
  8. 12 Things Every Gender-Nonconforming Child Wants You to Know
  9. 12 Things You Might Not Know About World of Warcraft
  10. 12 Things Your Nail Salon Doesn’t Want You to Know
  11. 12 Things You Might Not Know About Elephants
  12. 12 Things You Should Be Able to Say About Yourself

I got these from searching Google for the phrase “12 things you should know about”, which returned a little less than 50 pages of reasonably relevant material. Some of the results were for different size lists. Five, ten, and seven are pretty popular size lists as well, each one returning around 40 pages, though the time-honored dozen provided the largest return.

I don’t know what this means or what it says about us (writers and readers). I’m not really big on formulaic writing, though I’ve recently done quite a few case studies, which must follow a basic format in order for them to make sense. Still, there’s something about the ubiquity of lists that grates on me a bit. Maybe my next post should be “13 Reasons I Can’t Stand Lists.”


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