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Wednesday, September 25, 2013

So tell me I'm nuts, but...

Stan Laurel (left) and Oliver Hardy

... don't you think that Pope Francis and Stan Laurel of Laurel and Hardy are the same person? (Hey, it's a miracle! And a pope only needs three--not counting card tricks--to be considered for sainthood.)

Pope Francis (aka Stan Laurel, I think)
It's no wonder that the world loves Pope Francis.

After he was selected as the next pope, his first order of business was to personally pay his hotel bill and move into a more modest Vatican guest house instead of the opulent and sprawling papal apartment.

He said helping the poor will be a central focus of his priesthood... and he asked priests and nuns not to drive flashy cars. He drives a Ford Focus (though not the one with the Domino's Pizza delivery sign on top).

He also said, "If someone is gay and he searches for the Lord and has good will, who am I to judge?"

The Catholic Church, he says, has been too focused on abortion, gay marriage and contraception and seeks to find a "new balance" to deliver the message.

This pope has even made phone calls to common people, of all things. "Hi Bill, this is Pope Francis but you can call me Frank. How's it goin'?" (I totally made that up, but he did make a call or two... unheard of in the strict order of the office.)

Of course, six months does not make a Popedom, but people like this guy.

All of which begs the question: Is the Pope Catholic?

Tuesday, September 10, 2013


Note: This essay was written for an Olive Garden 50-250 word contest to the theme: How would you help to fight hunger in your community for anyone in grades 1-12 with winners for each grade level. I really believe should be the third grade winner for three very obvious reasons: 1) It is well written and to the point; 2) The bright young writer makes her Papa very happy and proud--and I know that first hand; 3) Today is her first double-digit birthday. HAPPY BIRTHDAY RIO! 

by Rio, 3rd grade

In 2012, I was living in Cambridge, Massachusetts. Cars passed our house regularly and the only animals around were squirrels. Eating dinner one night, my six-year-old brother asked innocently, “Wouldn’t it be gross if meat actually came from cows?”  Since then, I’ve moved from a place of not understanding where meat comes from to Middletown, Maryland where I live on a 21 acre farm with ten chickens, two guinea hens, and a dog.
As my farm grows and changes, I grow and change. I’ve learned about the ways of nature and food. When a visiting dog killed my favorite chicken, Phoebe, I learned to appreciate nature when you have it, then let it go when it’s gone. As we fill my mom’s office with seedlings and chicks, I’ve learned how life begins so small, then ends up as a blooming accomplishment.
 I want everyone to know about food and nature as I do. To create this knowledge I will have groups of children come to my farm to plant their own meals, and work with the animals on the farm. I will ask other farmers in my community to help. I hope this experience will inspire people to waste less food because they know someone worked hard to make it, or because an animal suffered for its production. When children learn that meat comes from cows, and noodles from wheat, they learn about nutrition. With better nutrition, less waste, and new knowledge to create food, we will reduce hunger.

Thursday, September 5, 2013

Smart vs. Dumb

In 1946 Dick Tracy wore a wrist radio ... and it only took 67 years for the real world to catch up! Samsung, Sony and reportedly Apple and everyone else will be marketing smart watches, or as Apple might say, iWrists. (Teaser alert: But that wasn't the very first smart watch. I'll tell you the story of the very first smart watch at the end of this post.)

Sure, Tracy could communicate just by talking to his wrist. "Calling squad 8. T.V. Wiggles headed for unloading shaft at Steel St. and the River. SHOOT TO KILL!" (Actual fake wrist-to-Chief alert by Dick himself.)

Now, we can do that too... and lots, lots more. With our new devices, we can check email ("What is email?" asks Tracy), talk, text, take pictures, search the web and (gasp!) tell time. No more will be have to look at our phones 20 times an hour... we can just count down, minute by minute and everyone will think we are just punctually challenged.

Most consumers say the first introduction of the smart wrist watch does not actually tell time... it just counts down to the introduction of Apple's iWatch.
Smart in a one-on-one with the Chief

Actually, the first Smart phone really was invented in 1986 by Maxwell Smart... get it...  Maxwell SMART?  (Never mind.) He had a cleverly designed phone that actually looked like a size 12 shoe that would also fire bullets when he dialed 117. Smart also had The Cone of Silence in several forms that eliminated eavesdropping and many other clever devices to stifle crime. 

We have Google Glasses so that means that if we have an iWatch (or whatever), we could actually see ourselves checking our email while checking our email while checking our email... very Escher-esq. Meanwhile, we are so cool, no one would notice.

While we get smarter and smarter 'stuff,' why is it we seem to get dumber and dumber? I know... the robots made us do it.

Now, as promised, the real story of the very first smart watch:  

A guy rushing for his train in Grand Central Station in NYC is running late. He stops a stoop-shouldered, bedraggled little man huffing and puffing as he struggles to carry two enormous suitcases.
"Hey friend," asks our commuter, "can you tell me what time it is?"
The man stops, grateful to be able to put his monstrously heavy suitcases on the floor and rest. As he wipes sweat from his brow, he looks as his watch and tells the harried commuter, "It is exactly 5:17.26 1/2 pm on the 365,276th day, 4th hour, 38th minute and 52 1/2 second past the birth of Christ, a Thursday in leap year 0, when the sun warmed the day to 82 degrees fahrenheit or 27.777778 celcius."
"Wow!" said the commuter who was literally stopped in his tracks. "Your watch told you all of that?"
"Oh," says the watch owner, "my watch will tell you anything you would ever want to know. Is Elvis alive? Is O.J. Simpson the real killer? When will the Cubs win the pennant? Anything, really.
 "WOW! I've GOT to have one! Where can I buy a watch like that?"
"You can't," says the little man. "You see, I invented this watch and it knows EVERYTHING... but it is one of a kind and it is mine."
"But I'll give you anything for that watch," says the commuter.  "ANYTHING! I must have that watch."
After 5 minutes of intense haggling, the commuter convinces the watch inventor--with the help of $2 million dollars--to sell him the watch. Happily, he straps it on his wrist, says "Thank you so much," and starts to run in hopes of catching his train.
"Wait... WAIT," hollers the watchmaker, pointing to the enormous suitcases sitting on the floor, "Don't you want the batteries?"