Monday, October 19, 2020

Monday, 10/19

 Rain, rain, go away. Come again...

Well, never. Come again never. That would be fine with me.

Maybe this is just an early case of Seasonal Affliction Disorder talking, but the three weeks of (mostly) rain and cold temperatures we've been experiencing can go away and not come back. I mean, that's not even taking into account the (ugh) snow we had in the air (and lightly on the ground) Friday and Saturday, but all the November-like weather we've been dealing with around here since the last week of September?

It's almost enough, in fact, to make one wish one were a duck.



Although I'm thinking that, by this point, even a duck would be sick of the stuff.

It's all made even worse, of course, by the cold that's accompanied the rain. Even on those rare days when the sun was out, like last Friday, temperatures were stuck in the 40s. In fact, for the month, I think we're something like over 10 degrees BELOW our normal highs.

Ten degrees BELOW normal. Just for comparison, and because I'm won't be able to go there any time soon, Germany has had a bunch of days in the 70s & 80s this month and they're almost ten degrees ABOVE normal.   

Tell me we haven't screwed up the climate of this planet to an amazing degree.

I know; the intelligent among you are ready to tell me that there's nothing we can do about the weather, and you're absolutely right about that. Complaining about it doesn't change it or fix it. It's not like if I yell loud enough I'll create a pressure wave strong enough to move the blocking system that's been causing us to have this wet & cold weather. I know that.

It's just that I think I'm at the end of my rope.

So I'll wrap this up with two thoughts. First of all, thanks for letting me blow off a little steam. I appreciate it. Secondly, I know that I don't like “typical” fall weather. But if we ever DO get a day where it's sunny but a little crisp outside, I will embrace it with all the gusto I usually reserve for an 80 degree day. I promise you that.

I don't know if we'll be getting one any time soon, but if we do, you have my word.

(jim@wmqt.com)

Friday, October 16, 2020

Friday, 10/16

 I don't know why I like the picture so much. I just do.

For the past two years now I've had one picture on my computer desktop. It's not of a warm, sunny, summer day, or a picture of loved ones or of friends. Nope; the picture I've been staring at for two years now every time I come into my office was taken during a cold, driving rainstorm two years ago somewhere in Bavaria. Loraine and I were just walking up a street, I saw something, and took a picture of it. I didn't pay much attention to it then, although I did stick it in one of my trip blogs. However, as I've been looking at it on an almost daily basis, I've come to realize that I really like it.

But, then, who wouldn't?



Yeah, I know it's a cow. Like I said, that should be no surprise to anyone who knows me. What I like about so much is the look on the cow. It's a cow with an attitude. It's a cow wondering why a dork with a camera was standing in the rain a few feet away from it. It's a cow that, if it could, would just shake its head in bemusement and walk away to join the other cows, telling them something along the lines of “you should see what I just saw”.

If, of course, a cow could do that.

I realize I'm attributing human behavior to a cow, but that's what this particular beast looks like, at least to me. I mean, take another look at it. Doesn't the cow look like it's just about to shake its head? Doesn't it look like the cow's giving me that look, the look like a human would give when they see something so stupid they can't believe it?

That's what it looks like to me.

You may see things differently. In fact, I'm sure that you, a normal human being, would look at that picture and see just a cow. Not a cow with an attitude, not a cow with vague sense of superiority, but a cow. A plain and simple cow. And that's fine. It's nice to know that at least one of us is normal.

Just don't expect it to be me. At least not with a picture like that.

Have a great and a, uhm, cow-ilicious weekend!

(jim@wmqt.com), cowaholic


Thursday, October 15, 2020

Thursday, 10/15

This is a choice I never thought I'd ever have to make, but since it's 2020 and nothing makes sense any more it was a choice that did indeed present itself--

Do I eat my apple after I dropped it in the toilet, or just throw it as far away as I can?

Yup; just when you thought this year could not get any stranger, it did. I was eating lunch yesterday, went into the station bathroom to wash my apple off (because it IS 2020, after all), and watched in horror as my newly washed apple slipped out of my wet hand and perfectly pirouetted into a toilet bowl that (ahem) someone had thoughtfully left the lid open.

Anyone have THAT on their 2020 bingo card?

I mean, geez...I've done some stupid and/or klutzy things in my life, but I've never tossed an apple (wittingly or unwittingly) into a toilet bowl before. I had never even considered dropping an apple into a toilet bowl within the realm of possibility. But yet, I did it.

Guess I can cross that off my bucket list.

Like I mentioned at the beginning, I did give a few seconds thought to just grabbing it out of the toilet, washing it again, and then eating it. After all, it's water in the toilet bowl, right? Dogs drink it without a second thought. Plus, even though I'm the only one here the toilet does get cleaned quite often. But still...

My desire to eat the apple was really outweighed by the fact that I dropped it in a toilet.

I know; had I closed the lid on the toilet bowl after using it I wouldn't have faced that dilemma. Had I not tried to handle the apple with wet hands I wouldn't have faced that dilemma. Heck, had Sir Isaac Newton not “discovered” gravity I wouldn't have faced that dilemma. But, because none of those things occurred I didn't get to eat my apple. I did, however, get to experience something I never thought I'd experience, so I guess in a very bizarre way something good DID come out of it.

You'd better believe, however, that the next time I go into the bathroom to wash off an apple the lid on the toilet bowl WILL be closed. After all, it's not a choice I'd like to ponder again.

(jim@wmqt.com)



Wednesday, October 14, 2020

Wednesday, 10/14

 I am about to say something I’ve never said before, a sentence so blasphemous that my fingers may burst into flames as I type it. So if, for some reason, the blog ends here, you’ll know it’s just because my keyboard’s on fire.

You ready? Here goes—

There's a European chocolate bar that I don’t like.

Okay, let me check my fingertips. Nope; no scorching. And my keyboard’s in good shape, as well. So despite the fact that I never thought I would utter the above sentence, I guess the world is still spinning on its axis. And that’s a good thing.

The chocolate bar in question is one I hadn't thought of for a while, but after discussing a certain kind of filling Saturday at the Farmer's Market with my friend Davin, who actually makes his own chocolate bars, I had to dig around in a box and find the label for it.

(And before you ask...yes, I DO have a box filled with the labels of all the different kinds of European chocolate I've eaten. Doesn't everyone?)

The bar in question was a Heilemann Holunder Truffel bar, part of a series of higher end chocolate that also includes another I've tried, a white chocolate with vanilla and bourbon bar that I actually did like. I bought the Holunder a couple of years ago because it sounded interesting; it was a 65% dark chocolate with an elderberry truffle filling. I wanted to try it because I’ve never had elderberry with chocolate before; heck, I don’t even know if I’ve ever had elderberry in anything before.

But I won’t be trying it again.

The elderberry truffle filling was bitter, perhaps too bitter for a chocolate bar. It didn't blend with darker chocolate the way other fillings may, and if I remember correctly it left a mildly acidic aftertaste in your mouth. I mean, I’m glad I had the chance to see what it’s like, but I certainly wouldn’t travel a quarter of the way around the planet just to buy one, which is something I would do (and have done) for some of the other chocolate I’ve had in Europe.

I think foods with bitter tastes must be a German cultural thing. As an example, just think of one of the most German of foods—sauerkraut. Aside from the elderberry chocolate bar, I've also given several tastes to a jam that sounded promising but left me wanting, and that was a black currant jam.

I don't think I'll be trying it if we ever get to go back again.

Like the elderberry in the chocolate, the black currant was rather bitter, even with whatever sugar may have been added into it. If I remember correctly it wasn’t bad; it didn't make me barf, and I didn’t toss it into the trash. But it certainly isn’t something I would want to try again. But I did try it, and that’s the important thing. Travel experts tell you that to really experience a culture you should do what they do, and that includes eating the culture’s food, which I do try as often as possible. Many times I’ve loved what I’ve sampled. This time, not so much. But I tried it, and that’s the important thing, right?

So now you know that there is at least one chocolate that I won’t go to the ends of the Earth for. And who knows—there might be others, as well. I guess if I ever get the chance I’ll just have to try them all—each and every one of them--to find out if there’s another.

Ah, the things we do for science, right?

8-)

(jim@wmqt.com)

(ps—speaking of things that are sweet...happy birthday, Mallory!)


Tuesday, October 13, 2020

Tuesday, 10/13

 As is my nature, I'm trying to be optimistic about it all. I just have no idea if that optimism will be misplaced or not.

Both History Jim and TV Jim have been dealing with scheduling issues during the era of Covid recently. I'll discuss TV Jim in a day or two, because that issue isn't quite settled yet, but History Jim has been given his assignments for 2021. At this point, though, I just have no idea if I'll be able to do them in-person, in another format, or not at all.

Isn't 2020 fun?

As you know, all the walking tours I was scheduled to give this year were cancelled, as were several other things I was supposed to do. I managed to turn one of those walking tours into a video, and I'm working on turn another into a documentary, but everything else just kind of went by the wayside.

Bummer.

However, we had our (socially-distanced) annual programming meeting at the History Center, and even though we have no idea if these will ever come off, we've decided what were going to TRY and do next year. For me, it will (hopefully) start with the annual Jim & Jack spectacular that we do at Kaufman. We've sold the place out the past two years. However, next year we have no idea if we'll even be able to get into the place, or whether we'll have to do it later in the year, or do it virtually, or do it outside at the History Center.

We just don't know.

The video for “Third Street: Day & Night” I did this past summer came about because it was originally supposed to be a walking tour, so I'm hoping to do the actual walking tour again next June or July. As you recall, we were just a couple of weeks away from doing it this July but eventually pulled the plug. And since all the work for it was done, I might as well put it to use.

So that's another.

And finally, I'm hoping to do a downtown walking tour that leans on a lot of “urban archaeology” called “I've Been Working on the Railroad”, discussing how the area was shaped by all the rail lines and facilities that were around the first 100 or so years of the city. I've been meaning to do it for several years now, and seeing as how (coincidentally) the History Center has a big railroad exhibition next summer, it fits in perfectly.

It's also one of those things that could, if circumstances warrant, be turned into a documentary. But I'd much rather do it in person. So, if you know anyone with any sort of influence over Mother Nature, can you please ask them to ask her to please—please--dial this whole pandemic thing down?

I say “thank you”. And so does the History Center.

8-)

Like I said, I have no idea if any or all of these will come off as planned. All I know is that the work on them will get done and hopefully, in one format or another, will get out to everyone.

Keep your fingers crossed.

Tomorrow, if I know any more, the second part of the story.

(jim@wmqt.com)


Monday, October 12, 2020

Monday, 10/12

 MONDAY, 10/12:

It's a holiday today. Does it feel like a holiday to you?

Nah; me neither. So let's talk about some of the greatest music ever recorded!

You know I like Stevie Wonder, right? I may have written about that one or two or several thousand times in here. Well, I came across a list from Rolling Stone magazine of the 10 best Stevie Wonder songs of all time. I have to say I can’t disagree with most of the list; after all, they had “Superstition” at number one, plus songs like “Living for the City” and “I Wish” were all up there. But the one thing with which I need to take major exception is the song at number 7.

You know--“I Just Called To Say I Love You”.

Now I realize I might be swimming in a little hot water here. I know that for a lot of people “I Just Called” is a song they love, and perhaps their favorite Stevie Wonder song. In fact, when we put his songs up for a vote on “Favorite Friday” a few years ago that song ended up coming in second behind “Superstition”. And I also know it won an Academy Award as best song (from the 1984 movie “The Woman in Red”). But to me, “I Just Called” is not a Stevie Wonder song; it’s a generic song that anyone could’ve done.

Go ahead; dislike me, if you must. But when I think of Stevie Wonder songs, I think of tunes with funk, tunes with a beat that will not let your toe stop tapping, and tunes with a heart. At least to me, “I Just Called” doesn’t meet any of those criteria. It’s just, well, a sappy song with a drum machine for a beat. It doesn’t capture the “essence” of a Stevie Wonder song. I realize music is a very subjective matter, and you might feel differently about the song (which is fine with me), but that’s how I feel.

In a way, though, it’s funny. Stevie Wonder wrote two songs for “The Woman in Red”, and the other one is actually something that would’ve made MY list of the top ten Stevie Wonder tunes of all time. It’s called “Love Light in Flight”, and many of the things I think “I Just Called” is lacking “Love Light” has, especially a beat that will not stop. But not many people know about it. I guess when you have a song that was as massive of a hit as “I Just Called” the oxygen gets sucked out of the room for anything else the artist does. But do yourself a favor; if you ever have the chance, listen to “Love Light in Flight”. Even if you think “I Just Called” is a great Stevie Wonder, you might find yourself pleasantly surprised by the OTHER song from the movie, as well.



Okay; I’ll get off my musical soapbox for now. If you're off of work today, enjoy it. If you're like the rest of us, hope your week is off to a great start!

(jim@wmqt.com)


Friday, October 9, 2020

Friday, 10/9

 You know what? I don’t have a favorite number.

I don’t know if it’s a big deal that I don’t have a favorite number, just as I have no idea how many people actually DO have a favorite number. All I know is that I don’t have one, and this came to light after reading an article or an essay or something that talked about people’s favorite numbers and how a large majority of them are even numbers.

Maybe, just to level the playing field, I should get myself a favorite number, and make sure it’s odd. Besides, how apt would it be that my favorite number is odd? Certainly would fit, wouldn’t it?

The article (and I wish I remember where I read it, so I could give the author credit) posited that most people’s favorite numbers are even numbers because, for whatever reason, people perceive even numbers as “nice” and odd numbers as “bad”. I’m not quite sure why; I think the article pointed out that, with one exception, all prime numbers are odd and, for some reason, people don’t like prime numbers. That could be a reason. But there’s also something I’ve kind of noticed over the years--even numbers look friendlier.

No, I’m not strange. Well, yes, I suppose I AM strange, but think about it--when you look at an even number like “8”, it just looks friendlier than, say a “15”, which just looks more severe. Or at least it does to me; after all, this theory has absolutely no basis in scientific fact. It’s just how I perceive the way the numbers look. But, according to the article I read, maybe there IS some basis in it. Maybe I’m not the only person who feels that even numbers look “friendlier” than odd numbers.

That might explain why most people have a favorite number that’s even, right?

So like I said, if I ever do picture out a favorite number, I’ll have to make sure that it’s an odd number, perhaps even a prime odd number, just so I can be a contrarian. Right now, I’m thinking 29, although that could change depending upon my whims.

I’ll let you know. And on that note, have yourself an “even” weekend. Or an “odd” one. Just as long as it's a GOOD one.

(jim@wmqt.com)