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Category: Humor (page 1 of 6)

Conflating Shakespeare

High drama of worthy of Shakespeare is taking place in the presence of the Senate Intelligence Committee today.

Shakespeare would definitely have written a play about this.

It ultimately breaks down to this:

TRUMP:  Will no one rid me of this meddlesome FBI Director?

SESSIONS and ROSENSTEIN: (mount up and ride toward Canterbury)

TRUMP: He’s dead! We killed him!

ROSENSTEIN: WTF? Jeff and I just went to Rochester to tour the castle and have some pub food. We didn’t kill anyone. Although we did kind of tag somebody’s bumper in the parking lot. Sorry.

COMEY’S GHOST: I am the campaign’s spirit, doomed for a certain term to walk the night and for the day confined to fast in fires till the foul crimes done in my days of nature are burnt and purged away. But that I am forbid to tell the secrets of my prison-house, I could a tale unfold whose lightest word would harrow up thy soul, freeze thy young blood, make thy two eyes, like stars, start from their spheres, thy knotted and combinèd locks to part, and each particular hair to stand on end, like quills upon the fretful porpentine.

…But this eternal blazon must not be to ears of flesh and blood.

SENATE: That’s fine. We’ll be glad to hear what you have to say in closed session.

Enlightened Ancestor: Dr. Benjamin West

I can thank my migraines for Dr. Benjamin West.

When I am anxious or don’t feel well, I often do genealogy research to take my mind off things. I have always enjoyed learning about family history, but really got bitten hard by the bug the first time I had cancer, in 1994. I was at home recuperating, on painkillers and other drugs that made concentrating difficult, and I found message boards on AOL that were all about genealogy. And my ancestors were there! I connected with some very distant cousins and compared notes. I started learning more and more about my origins.

It occurs to me that we are all the products of our parents, who are the products of their parents, who were the products of theirs, and so on. Our parents don’t just pass genetics on to us. Even when we disagree about things like politics or religion or how to raise our children, the values of our parents are distilled into us, just like the values of their parents were distilled into them. We find that professions tend to run in families -a  certain branch of the family may tend to be lawyers, writers, preachers, doctors, architects, artists, military, etc.

An obituary notice in a newspaper from 1822 led me to him. He was named as the father of one of my 5th great-grandmothers, a woman whose origins were completely unknown to me before that moment.  The man was phenomenal, and I don’t understand why every generation after him hasn’t continued to hold him up as the pinnacle of the Enlightenment. This guy’s brain was so huge and active I don’t know how it managed to stay confined in his skull.

benj-west

Benjamin West, from the Brown University Portrait Collection

Benjamin West was born in Bristol, Massachusetts in March 1730. I think of him as the Stephen Hawking of his day. His accomplishments in math and science are truly remarkable because he was an autodidact – his formal schooling lasted a whopping three months of his childhood. He was poor and had to borrow every book he read until about 1758, when he managed to find some backers to open a dry goods store. A couple of years later, he opened the first bookstore ever to grace the commercial avenues of Providence, Rhode Island. He managed to pay for the books he so desperately wanted by selling them to other people.

He married Elizabeth Smith, daughter of Benjamin Smith, in 1753 when he was 23.  They were married for 53 years and had eight children, only three of whom survived Benjamin. The 1822 death notice for his daughter, Mary Smith West (wife of Oliver Pearce), in a Providence newspaper, alerted me to him. The death notice that mentioned her father was “Dr. Benjamin West of Providence.” Mary West Pearce died in Fayetteville, NC. Her daughter, Eliza West Pearce, married Dr. Benjamin Robinson, that guy from Vermont who tested out that newfangled smallpox vaccine on his little brother and his brother’s friends and basically got run out of Bennington for his efforts. The science is strong in my family!

Benjamin West was a brilliant mathematician and astronomer. His buddies were the founders of Rhode Island College, which later became Brown University. He loved mathematics and astronomy, and conferred with some truly fantastic minds of his day. He published annual almanacs for Halifax, Nova Scotia and Providence, Rhode Island for nearly 40 years. He didn’t have the formal schooling necessary for good academic chops, though, and before he opened that dry goods and book store, he failed at operating a school. He tutored students privately for all of his adult life.

Astronomical Genius

In 1766, something would happen that ultimately would reverse his fortunes and open some gilded doors for him. A comet appeared in the constellation of Taurus on the evening of April 9. Being a good astronomer, Benjamin took careful measurements. The next day wrote a letter to an astronomer named John Winthrop who was at Cambridge College (now known as Harvard University). He had never met or corresponded with Winthrop, but was so excited about his observation he simply had to share it.

Providence, April 10, 1766

Dear Sir:

For the improvement of science, I now acquaint you, that the last evening, I saw in the West, a comet, which I judged to be about the middle of the sign of Taurus; with about 7 degrees North latitude. It set half after 8 o’clock by my watch; and its amplitude was about 29 or 30 degrees. Nothing, Sir, could have induced me to this freedom of writing to you, but the love I have for the sciences; and I flatter myself that you will, on that account, the more readily overlook it.

I am, Sir, yours,

Benjamin West

He and Winthrop became great friends and continued to write each other. For the rest of their lives they would share observations about the night sky.

1769 Transit of the Planets

Johannes Kepler and Edmund Halley figured out how to apply the theory of parallax to determine the distances between astronomical bodies.  With both Mercury and Vanus predicted to pass between the Earth and the Sun in 1769, astronomers world-wide were anxious to test the theory . Since this was the first really good opportunity to view the transits of both inner planets since Kepler’s original accurate prediction in 1627 of the 1631 transit, everyone in the field of astronomy was excited. Captain Cook would famously observe the 1769 transit of Venus from Tahiti while on his ill-fated circumnavigation and while bringing European diseases and disharmony to the South Pacific. At the time of the last transit of Venus in 1761, Charles Mason and Jeremiah Dixon, who had just finished their survey of the boundary between Pennsylvania and Maryland, had traveled to the Cape of Good Hope to observe it. All of these men used astronomy as an important part of their lives – navigating the oceans and surveying the land required precise measurements, and measurements started with the stars.

benjamin-wests-1769-telescope

Telescope used by Benjamin West, at Providence, Rhode Island, to observe the 1769 transit of Venus. Ladd Observatory, Brown University

There was no telescope in Providence in 1769. Benjamin West, Stephen Hopkins (the signer of the Declaration and great-grandson of the Mayflower passenger) and the Brown brothers – founders of Rhode Island College, later known as Brown University – were determined to see the phenomenon, though, so they managed to import a telescope from England at the incredible expense of 500 pounds.  They set up on the outskirts of Providence. Transit Street in Providence is named after the spot where they viewed the transit on June 3, 1769. There are photos of the telescope on the Brown University website – the school still has it.

benjamin-wests-diagram-of-the-1769-transit-of-venus

Benjamin West’s diagram of the transit of Venus, 1769, from the Ladd Observatory, Brown University

As was his habit, Benjamin West made careful measurements of the transit. He published a tract (and dedicated it to his friend Stephen Hopkins) about the event. A copy of the tract made its way to John Winthrop at Harvard, and on July 18, 1770, Benjamin West – the man with only three months of formal education – was awarded an honorary Master of Arts from Harvard. Here’s the text of the notification letter from John Winthrop:

Cambridge, July 19, 1770

Sir —

I have the pleasure to acquaint you that the government of this college were pleased, yesterday, to confer upon you the Honorary degree of Master of Arts; upon which I sincerely congratulate you. I acknowledge the receipt of your favour, and shall be glad to compare any observations of the satellites.

Yours, &c.

John Winthrop

 

American Academy of Arts and Sciences: the American Philosophical Society

That same year, Benjamin West was unanimously elected to membership in the American Philosophical Society in Philadelphia – the American colonial version of Great Britain’s Royal Society. He would meet another author and publisher of almanacs there: a fellow named Benjamin Franklin.

Benjamin West was still primarily a merchant at this time, and the Revolution was on its way. When full-blown war finally arrived, commerce dried up. He went to work manufacturing clothing for the American troops. He continued his studies and his correspondence with the other great minds, though.

Mathematics was Benjamin’s first love. In 1773 he wrote to a friend in Boston of a theorem he had developed to extract “the roots of odd powers” that was probably his greatest contribution to the field of mathematics. That’s right – he discovered a math formula that I can’t even begin to hope to understand, but other really smart people who could math really well understood it and lauded him for it. When he finally explained his theorem to other math geniuses in 1781, the American Academy of Arts and Sciences not only published it in one of their earliest journals, but unanimously elected him to membership and awarded him a diploma. It was his second honorary academic degree, and he still supported by only three months of formal education. The theorem caught the attention of the European mathematical geniuses, who, giddy with discovery, also published it. Benjamin West, already pretty cool, became seriously hot stuff.

He didn’t stop at math and astronomical observations, though. One of the biographies I found explained a physics problem he cogitated upon for more than two years in conjunction with John Winthrop and a Mr. Oliver. It had to do with the properties of air in a copper tube that was then put into an otherwise airless container. The qualities of invisible gases – basically, the scientific understanding of the very concept of the physical nature and properties of “air” – was in its infancy. Our ancestor speculated about the attractive and repulsive nature of the tiny particles that made up the matter of air – what we now call its molecules – and how they would behave under different conditions. Gravity, matter, magnetism, and ultimately the behavior of the tails of comets played into his understanding of the question. This is stuff my brain simply isn’t big enough to handle.

Benjamin West’s mind was at the peak of its illuminating brilliance as the world around him heaved. His most important discoveries and writings happened as the American Revolution was about to explode.  By the end of the Revolution he had returned to academic pursuits. He tutored students in math and astronomy. He still wasn’t rich; despite his prominence in academics he never became particularly wealthy. The well-endowed founders of what would become Brown University had not forgotten their friend, though. In 1786, he was elected to a full professorship there.

For some reason he did not begin teaching at Brown for a couple of years. Probably because of his honors and his friendship with Ben Franklin and the rest of the gang at the American Philosophical Society in Philadelphia, Benjamin West was invited to teach at the illustrious Protestant Episcopal Academy there. The name of that school is familiar to members of my father’s family.  Although Benjamin West was the direct ancestor of my Arkansas-born mother, my dad, an Irish-Italian kid who grew up in the Philly suburb of Gladwyne, went to school at Philadelphia’s Episcopal Academy while his dad coached its sports teams. (Insert refrain from “Circle of Life” here.)

Brown University awarded Dr. West his first non-honorary degree, his Doctor of Laws, in 1792. He taught mathematics and astronomy there from 1788 until 1799. Then he opened a school of navigation and taught astronomy to seafaring men. Like Carl Sagan and Neil deGrasse Tyson, this man loved to teach other people the wonders of the universe.

I’m proud of him for another reason, too: Benjamin West was a member of an active abolitionist group in Providence.

I’ve found several contemporary biographical accounts for Benjamin West. They are typical of their time: purple prose and flowery metaphors abound. They all reach one conclusion: Benjamin West was a genius. He was a determinedly self-educated man who contributed considerably to the arts of science and mathematics during his lifetime. He was truly a product of the Age of Enlightenment: a self-educated, self-made man whose gifts and prominence considerably exceeded his bank account.

This discovery of my ancestor Benjamin West is exactly why genealogy research is so rewarding. And given the anxiety-provoking events of November 8, I expect to be doing a lot more of it – in between my stepped-up schedule of political activities, that is.

______

Bibliography:

American Academy of Arts and Sciences, Book of Members  (2016 edition), p. 252. Entry for Benjamin West, elected 1781, Fellow. Residence and Affiliation at election: Providence, RI. Career description: Astronomer, Educator, Businessperson, Book of Members; American Academy of Arts & Sciences, American Academy of Arts and Sciences.

Leonard Bliss, The History of Rehoboth, Bristol County, Massachusetts:  Comprising a History of the Present Towns of Rehoboth, Seekonk, and Pawtucket, From Their Settlement to the Present Time (Boston:  Otis, Broaders, and Company, 1836). Google Books

Bloomsbury Encyclopedia of the American Enlightenment, Entry for Benjamin West (1730-1813), pp. 1096-1097. https://books.google.com/books?id=qZ2yBwAAQBAJ&lpg=PA1096&dq

Louise Hall, “Family Records: Newby Bible”, New England Historical and Genealogical Register 122 (Apr 1968):  125-128, 125.

Martha Mitchell, “Benjamin West”, Encyclopedia Brunoniana (1993). https://www.brown.edu/Administration/News_Bureau/Databases/Encyclopedia/search.php?serial=W0170

John Chauncey Pease, John Milton Niles, A Gazetteer of the States of Connecticut and Rhode-Island:   (Hartford:  William S. Marsh, 1819), 331-333. Biographical entry for Dr. Benjamin West.  Google Books.

Unattributed, “Biography of Benjamin West, L.L.D.  A.A.S.:  Professor of Mathematicks, Astronomy and Natural Philosophy, in Rhode Island College – and Fellow of the Philosophical Society of Philadelphia, &c.”, The Rhode Island Literary Repository Vol I, No. 7 (October 1814):  137-160 (337-360), http://books.google.com/books?id=HLQRAAAAYAAJ.  Google Books.

Benjamin West Papers; Rhode Island Historical Society Library, 121 Hope Street
Providence, RI 02906. http://www.rihs.org/mssinv/Mss794.htm.

I’ve Failed at “Inscrutable”

my inscrutable life is an open book

 

On the First Day of Christmas, My Sister Fed to Me…

~~I’m very tardy with this post. It should have gone up on Christmas Day. Oh, well. Christmas isn’t officially over until tomorrow, when Epiphany strikes.~~

 

The year Jack was 15, he and I went to my sister’s for Christmas dinner. When we got there, Susan put a pork tenderloin in the oven and we gathered around the tree to open gifts. Susan’s two boys, ages 15 and 13, were there, as was my mother. We spent a lovely hour ooohing and ahhhhing over what everyone got and gave. It was a very nice time.

We were almost through opening gifts when Su left to check the pork tenderloin we were having for Christmas dinner. She was in the kitchen for a few minutes. The rest of us waited to open any more gifts until she returned.

We were chatting and laughing and not paying any attention to her when Su tip-toed back into the living room and tapped me on the shoulder. “Come here,” she whispered.

I had been sitting on the floor. I got to my feet and followed her into the kitchen.

“Have you ever cooked a pork tenderloin?” she asked.

“Sure,” I told her. “Lots of times.”

“Good. I have something I need to ask you, then,” she said, and opened the oven door. She reached in and pulled out the roasting pan holding the meat. I thought she would ask me about how to tell if the meat was cooked through, or how best to carve it or something. I am always willing to dispense sisterly advice. But that wasn’t what Su wanted.

“Is it supposed to look like this?” she asked.

portk-tenderloin-2

I gaped.

I blinked.

Su put the pan down on the counter and grinned at me real big. “Shhhh,” she said.

We walked back into the living room, and she beckoned to Mom.

I couldn’t help it. I could barely hold in my laughter, and it was obvious. I do not have a poker face at all. When my mother followed Susan into the kitchen, I did my best to keep three large teenage boys at bay, thinking they were too young and … ahem … tender … to witness what had been prepared for Christmas dinner.

I was unsuccessful. The boys barreled into the kitchen just as their grandmother was in the act of looking at the slab of meat that faced her. Their Gran glanced up with a quizzical look. For a second I thought she didn’t get it.

pork-tenderloin-3

Then she burst out laughing.

The boys crowded around. “What is it? What’s so funny?” they demanded. Their mothers and grandmother were laughing too hard to tell them.

Su headed down the hall to the bathroom before she wet her pants. When she came back, she suggested that a creamy Bearnaise sauce would be a lovely accompaniment.

pork-tenderloin-1

 

That set us off again. Su headed back to the bathroom.

We females of the family enjoyed every bite. “Mmmmmm.” “Yummy.” “This is delightful,” we said.

The boys, for some reason, opted for a meatless Christmas dinner.

And now, for the crucial question:
If a pork tenderloin is circumcised, does that make it kosher?

Imminent Invasion

Today, I am Belgium.

Ergo, I attempt neutrality, knowing at any moment I will be invaded by Panzers.

I would prefer to be Switzerland, safe behind mountains unscalable by any army without elephants.

However, the tanks are at the door. Shots have already been fired across my bow this morning, and diplomacy seems fruitless.

 

I’ll mix more metaphors as the day draws on…

In Jack’s Next Care Package

 

Care Package Popcorn
Care package note p 1

Care package note p2

Care package note p3

Care package note p4

Care package note p5

Care package note p6

Care Package note p7

Care Package Note p8

Care package Note p 9

Word of the day: Bescumber

“To demonstrate what he thought of the oogling visitors to his cage, the orangutan bescumbered them, hooting with derision as they screamed and ran away.”

 

Dwindling Helium Supply Can Increase American IQ

Helium Balloon House Flies

Earth is Running Out of Helium.

Bill O'Reilly is one of the Helium Brains this post will discuss later. (context)

Bill O’Reilly is one of the Helium Brains this post will discuss later. (context)

Children across America may be in complete despair soon. Kids born today will never know the pleasures of helium. By the time they reach their 4th birthdays, those children will be wondering what it was that kept those old-timey balloons aloft in the pictures they see of the days of yore. They will never hear the voice of one of their peers altered for a few moments by a breath of helium, and they will never themselves know the joy of talking that way until their mothers, in exasperation, say, “Stop inhaling from balloons before your voice freezes that way! It happened to a kid in Australia, so it could happen to you!”

This situation is so serious that both chambers of Congress have held hearings on the issue. There is actual bipartisan concern about our dwindling helium supply. Senate bill 2374, the Helium Stewardship Act of 2012, has garnered considerable support. Opening the July 20, 2012, House hearing, Rep. Rush Holt (D. – NJ), the Ranking Member on the House Energy and Mineral Resources Subcommittee, said, “We may be heading for a crisis … if we don’t face up to this issue.”

What the Macy's Parade Will Become

Helium-Free Macy’s Parade Float (source)

He’s right. Without helium, the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade will be just a bunch of trucks pretending to be floats and marching bands. There will be nothing spectacular to see. Television coverage will cease and people will hit the malls for Black Thursday, which, without the parade, will become the norm.

Helium is so scarce that helium balloons are truly a scourge to necessary medical procedures like MRIs, which require the element to operate. Cornell University Professor and Nobel physics prize winner, Robert Richardson, says that party balloons would sell for $119 each to reflect a more accurate value of this dwindling resource.

As silly as it may seem, terrestrial helium depletion is no joke.

Helium is essential for creating neutron beams. Weather balloons use it to reach the stratosphere. It is used to cool nuclear reactors and to purge rocket fuel in space-bound vehicles. Without it, superconducting magnets won’t work, so devices as common as the local hospital’s MRI to the Large Hadron Collider would be inoperable. Without helium, there will be no semi-conductors or microchips. And it’s absolutely indispensable for cryogenics. For the love of all that is immortal, we must save our helium!

Helium in mined, just like other natural gas, from pockets in the earth’s crust where it is trapped. Its sale is managed by the Bureau of Land Management, which sells it to private refineries for considerably less than its rarity and rapid depletion would indicate is a fair price.

The American Helium Hoard

The Amarillo Helium Stockpile looks like someone's epidermal condition in this photo. (source)

The Amarillo Helium Stockpile looks like someone’s dermal condition in this satellite photo. (source)

There is a place that stockpiles helium. Where else do you think the canisters of the stuff come from? Of course they come from the world’s largest Helium Reserve, outside of Amarillo, Texas, where over 30% of the world’s helium is extracted from natural gas wells. However, as wild and free as the helium is allowed to roam on the reserve, supplies there are expected to be depleted by 2016. By 2042, the earth’s supply of helium may go the way of the dodo. Helium is an endangered species … er … element.

We all know and love helium as the gas that inflates balloons. But scientists and engineers use helium as a coolant and in other complicated ways we mere mortals wouldn’t understand. It seems though, that those party balloons have been wasting this precious resource.

“Helium is non-renewable and irreplaceable. Its properties are unique and unlike hydrocarbon fuels (natural gas or oil), there are no biosynthetic ways to make an alternative to helium. All should make better efforts to recycle it,” says Lee Sobotka, Ph.D., professor of chemistry and physics in Arts & Sciences at Washington University in St. Louis. He should know. He’s a scientist.

We can’t make helium? What kind of scientific incompetence is this?

Even though it is the second-most common element in the universe, helium is too light to be retained under the dome of earth’s atmosphere. Terrestrial helium only occurs naturally when the super heavy elements like uranium decay. We all know how slow that process is. We know, for example, that Chernobyl is going to be uninhabitable forever because of the decaying uranium allowed to roam in the wild there. Sure, Chernobyl is putting out a few helium atoms here and there, but that’s over in Russia or somewhere. It’s not here in America, where our reserves are running a bit thin.

What to do?

According to a paper published in the journal Nature, The most expedient way is to remove it from the brains of airheads, where helium collects in the crevices between layers of gray matter. We would provide a link to the exact article, but Nature is behind a horrendously expensive paywall, so we’ll summarize the article for you here.

Helium’s the one up top on the right.

You might remember from science class, when you had to memorize parts of the Periodic Table of Elements, that helium was the second element. It was the one that had only two protons and two electrons circling its nucleus. It’s the lightest element, and scientists have now revealed that, in a revolutionary approach to extracting terrestrial helium, they will begin farming airheads in order to figure out how to retrieve the helium that collects in their brains.

It’s the only way.

Helium Farms: The Permanent Wave of the Future?

Dr. Rutherford Becquerel, a nuclear chemist with the Curie College of Physical Science at Fermi University in Cern, Switzerland, will take a sabbatical to head up the Texas farming operation, which is expected to lure airheads from all over America and possibly even the world.

At a press conference last week, he explained that helium is what makes airheads so ditzy. Extracting the helium from the brains of there airheads will help replace some of the natural helium lost because of wasteful scientists who have performed their experiments so carelessly, and because of wasteful engineers who have used it so recklessly and relentlessly. Not to mention all those balloons at football games and birthday parties.

“When we use what has been made over the approximate 4.5 billion of years the Earth has been around, we will run out,”  Sobotka said, joining Becquerel at the podium last week. “We cannot get too significant quantities of helium from the sun — which can be viewed as a helium factory 93 million miles away — nor will we ever produce helium in anywhere near the quantities we need from Earth-bound factories. Helium could eventually be produced directly in nuclear fusion reactors and is produced indirectly in nuclear fission reactors, but the quantities produced by such sources are dwarfed by our needs.”

The crowd got wild. Wild, I tell you.

“It is not a complicated procedure to remove the helium,” Becquerel assured the gathered journalists. “We either pierce the eardrum, or go through the nostril with a long syringe, and suck the helium out of the brains of the airheads.”

There was a protest by several hundred parents, whose children are blonde and who suspect that their children will be future airheads.

“There is no need to be alarmed or concerned at all,” Becquerel assured the protesters. Pediatric neurophysicist Marie-Pierre Soddy, recently appointed medical director of the project, agreed. “Helium extraction actually allows the brain to grow, to move into areas formerly inhabited by the helium. It actually cures the condition of most airheads,” she said. Her groundbreaking paper on the subject has been published in PNAS, the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, and featured in the journal Neurology. Paywalls are firmly in place for both, so once again, readers will just have to have faith in the trustworthiness of this report.

It has been scientifically proven that natural blondes are no more prone to ditzy brains than the rest of the population. The hair-bleaching process, on the other hand, may create an inter-cranial helium buildup of unacceptable proportions. Soddy’s team continues to study this method as a possible way to create more helium to power their helium-powered experiments. The extraction of the helium gas from the brains of these helium-afflicted people will actually make them smarter and more sensible. A fortuitous situation, indeed!

NOAA's Graphic of Our Atmosphere

NOAA’s Graphic of Our Atmosphere

It would cost too much to try to get helium out of the air, and recycling the helium set free by all those balloons is out of the question since they fly too high much too fast to be able to catch them with any degree of reliability. The helium quickly rises to to upper reaches of the stratosphere, punches through the mesosphere, rockets through the thermosphere, and wafts on out into exospheric space from there. It’s too light to hang around with the other elements, and it doesn’t bond to them so nothing holds it in place. (Hydrogen, on the other hand, bonds easily to earth-bound elements.)

Helium from the Exosphere?

The sun emits incredible amounts of helium every day. When consulted about Becquerel’s plan for helium husbandry, Dr. Ian Crawford, of Birkbeck College at the University of London, carefully had no committal comment as to its efficacy. However, he graciously offered what could be the next step to acquiring helium:

Lunar Helium Mine

Lunar Helium Mine

“There are about 22 grams of helium in every cubic metre of lunar soil. Once American IQs have been raised beyond the point of cost-effective helium reclamation, the moon is our next treasure trove for helium.”

In addition to the farm Becquerel and  Soddy will operate in the Texas panhandle, helium farms will be started in Colorado, Kansas and Oklahoma. Exploratory missions to Australia and England are in the works. Because of Chernobyl, Russia has the world’s largest reserves of raw, wild, free-range helium, but exploratory missions have had to deal with radiation issues, and have not yet established a way to isolate the helium without taking off their lead-lined suits.

Nobel Prize to be awarded to Soddy and Becquerel

Nobel Prize to be awarded to Soddy and Becquerel

Sobotka believes that Russia will be the world’s major source of helium in 30 years, if any remains on the planet. despite being the second most abundant element in the universe, we humans had squandered our supply in a macabre foreshadowing of what will also become of other non-renewable resources.

Soddy and Becquerel, whom their peers are sure have sewn up the Nobel Prize in medicine, physics and chemistry,  also believe that with the mining of helium from American airheads, our national IQ will increase exponentially and we might even stop voting Republican.

“Miracles happen,” Dr. Soddy said softly, hopefully.

Annual Christmas Post for 2012

~~This is a re-post of my annual Christmas blog, for all you perverts who asked for it. ~~
~~My sister will never forgive me.~~

Someone else's Christmas tree

The year Jack was 15, he and I went to my sister’s for Christmas dinner. When we got there, Susan put a pork tenderloin in the oven and we gathered around the tree to open gifts. Susan’s two boys, ages 15 and 13, were there, as was my mother. We spent a lovely hour ooohing and ahhhhing over what everyone got and gave. It was a very nice time.

We were almost through opening gifts when Su left to check the pork tenderloin we were having for Christmas dinner. She was in the kitchen for a few minutes. The rest of us waited to open any more gifts until she returned.

We were chatting and laughing and not paying any attention to her when Su tip-toed back into the living room and tapped me on the shoulder. “Come here,” she whispered.

I had been sitting on the floor. I got to my feet and followed her into the kitchen.

“Have you ever cooked a pork tenderloin?” she asked.

“Sure,” I told her. “Lots of times.”

“Good. I have something I need to ask you, then,” she said, and opened the oven door. She reached in and pulled out the roasting pan holding the meat. I thought she would has me about how to tell if the meat was cooked through, or how best to carve it or something. I am always willing to dispense sisterly advice. But that wasn’t what Su wanted.

“Is it supposed to look like this?” she asked.

portk-tenderloin-2  

I gaped.

I blinked.

Su put the pan down on the counter and grinned at me real big. “Shhhh,” she said.

We walked back into the living room, and she beckoned to Mom.

I couldn’t help it. I could barely hold in my laughter, and it was obvious. I do not have a poker face at all. When my mother followed Susan into the kitchen, I did my best to keep three large teenage boys at bay, thinking they were too young and … ahem … tender … to witness what had been prepared for Christmas dinner.

I was unsuccessful. The boys barreled into the kitchen just as their grandmother was in the act of looking at the slab of meat that faced her. Their Gran glanced up with a quizzical look. For a second I thought she didn’t get it.

pork-tenderloin-3

Then she burst out laughing.

The boys crowded around. “What is it? What’s so funny?” they demanded. Their mothers and grandmother were laughing too hard to tell them.

Su headed down the hall to the bathroom before she wet her pants. When she came back, she suggested that a creamy Bearnaise sauce would be a lovely accompaniment.

pork-tenderloin-1

 

That set us off again. Sis headed back to the bathroom.

We females of the family enjoyed every bite. “Mmmmmm.” “Yummy.” “This is delightful,” we said.

The boys, for some reason, opted for a meatless Christmas dinner.

And now, for the crucial question:
If a pork tenderloin is circumcised, does that make it kosher?

 

 

No Yeti

The beauty of these letters is sublime.

No Yeti for Skeptic

Skeptic that I am, I cannot move beyond this simple truthful statement to play some other word.

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