An exclamation of points! A sundry assortment.

Before we get started, in mathematical notation, n factorial is written n! For n > 1, n! is the product of all the integers between 1 and n. Example:

4! = 4 x 3 x 2 x 1 or 24

Wowza! Factorials get pretty big, pretty fast. Let’s go!

• 1! For love of an exclamation point!

When learning to punctuate, we learn that exclamation points should not be overused. Exclamation points emphasize excitement! Whoops and hollers! Surprise! Etcetera! Overuse undermines their impact! See?

To which I say, bah! Humbug! As a matter of expressing my complete excitement and enthusiasm for friends, the punctuation I have opted to use in salutations and greeting for personal correspondence is “Dear Jane!” or “Jane!” (Substitute your name for Jane.)

Consider the difference in your responses between:

Dear your name,

-and-

Dear your name!

If we read past “Dear your name,” we might discover we owe money, we are in need of services we were previously unaware of needing. The comma is the punctuation of business, all business, just the business ma’am. And we hate being ma’am-ed and we head to the shredder or beat the ‘delete’ key. Of course, there is personal correspondence for which the comma ‘,’ is still preferred. After all, boundaries do need to be maintained. Good fences make good neighbors and all that.

But! An exclamation point engages and expresses my excitement not about what I’m writing, but about our relationship! Good things to come! maybe? Adventure is afoot! I hope. Read on! Dear your name!

• 2! FLOTUS photo. For reals?

This week a photo of FLOTUS holding a child in Africa whose skin is ebony-colored threw us off a bit because FLOTUS, Melania Trump, appeared to be genuinely happy in the embrace! Perhaps Occam’s B**bstraps is too simple an explanation and FLOTUS is not the racist we assume.

And we would be happy to be wrong but given the company she keeps, this could be just another gaslight lit on the way to making us all crazy. We’ll keep an eye on this.

• 3! or 6. Universe bends.

In a concurrent sign from the universe that I am approaching page n of my long-hand journal, the blue ink pen I was using, ran out of ink! Synchronicity!

• 4! or 24. Peak news week!

In a new news peak news week — Rosenstein-fired-not-fired, Kavanaugh, FBI investigation, FLOTUS jaunt to Africa, UPCOMING ELECTIONS – VOTE! it’s a long list — the NYTimes couldn’t contain themselves and dropped the story of Trump multi-generational tax fraud writ large.

Given the current political environment, my projections for possible outcomes:

  1. Housing subsidies are reduced to limit the money the Trumps of the world siphon off the public good.
  2. Increased regulation of rent subsidies.
  3. Or, my favorite: investigation and prosecution of white collar, briefcase crime!

You might have waited for a less busy news week, but that might have been a long wait. So, great reporting NYTimes! Tax fraud is what sunk Al Capone.

• 5! or 120. Clickbait.

It may interest you to know that blog posts get more attention if they include photos and references to food. This is not a photo of tacos:

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Morning coffee with Lupita.

• 6! or 720. Friends!

In other late-breaking photographic video evidence this week, we are saddened but not surprised to learn that Prescedense OTUS does not have any friends, acquaintances, aid. No one is close enough to him, concerned enough to tell him or help him, or interested enough in his appearance to inform him that there was toilet paper stuck on his shoe.  Between a bathroom, the tarmac, the stairs. No.one.said.a.word.

Return text to FEMA Presidential alert from all of us: Hard to make America great again with toilet paper on your shoe, you orange-redacted-redacted-redacted redacted.

But maybe it was intentional? The USA as the metaphorical unflushed toilet paper stuck to his shoe? I digress. If FLOTUS were not off in Africa? I’d bet the toilet paper would still be stuck on his shoe all the way up the stairs and onto Air Force 1. Just sayin’.

• 7! or 5040. Civic participation!

With the abysmal performance of SCOTUS-nominee Brett Kavanaughnaw under pressure, the limited FBI investigation, the rush by die.die.die Mitch McConnell to seat Kavanaughnaw when there are other suitably objectionable candidates, Kavanaughnaw’s sorry-sad-sack-abuse-cycle-continues statement in the WSJ, I am so.in awe at the number, quantity, quality, and responsiveness of protests arising around the country and especially in Washington, D.C.

Individually, we’re navelent. In aggregate, we are a civic American force to be reckoned with.

Exercise your civic force in full November 6, 2018. VOTE, VOTE, VOTE!!! 

• 8! or 40320. Mental health break.

With the advent of personal communication devices, is it any wonder interpersonal relationships suffer? We cannot compete. We do not operate in micro-nano-itsy-bitsy-mini second moments. We operate in tree time, in real life rings earned by trips around the sun, the slow build-up of experience, time expressed in minutes, hours, days, weeks, months, years, decades. The slow patina of age. And we short-circuit all that age and grace with clickbait — the flying bits sent through space and time which do not require our attention but consume our thoughts.

With a touch of irony, I offer this bit of clickbait – a video by Edward Tufte of Inge Druckery –  a designer and educator. It is a lush production taken at a pace which encourages one to slow.down, to immerse oneself in a pursuit that does not have an immediate payback or maybe any payback at all. This video reminds me that thoughts should be sustained beyond the rush-rush of 24-hours news cycles and click bait. There is a long game. It includes thoughtful design and beauty.

I find even 3- or 4-minutes restorative. (The entire video is 37 minutes long.)

Enjoy! Or not.


• 9! or 362880. Happy Birthday, Ann!!!

 

How times change: Rocket Arugula

Me, a child looking at some green salady thing Mom was dishing up: “What’s this?”

Mom: Rocket.

Mom goes on to explain she found it growing wild between the garden and the cornfield and washed up, it will be delicious.

Me: Ugh.

Fast-forward umpty-dumpty dump and a few more dump years.

Mr. Viva: Do I need to pick anything up from the store?

Me: Rocket. Only now we call it arugula.

And it comes to us by way of a plastic container, all 6 oz. and triple-washed and ready to go.

Delicious.


Remember our veterans & a Happy Memorial Day weekend!

Aging & Music

Not long ago, Frood¹, Mr. Viva and I watched U2 perform on Saturday Night Live². And what a wonder that 40 years after U2 started making music, they still make new music! And still with the social commentary! And Bono shouts into a bullhorn!  Given that U2 may not be your cup of tea soundwise, agewise they are my contemporaries and here I shout into the internet void making music on my little orange crate with my bullhorn just.like.Bono! But I digress.

As we watched U2, I thought of career musicians and who of the new artists I listen to now, will I listen to in 20+ years?

Looking back, the disco ’70’s Rolling Stones were old guys. To me, they were so ’60’s. And I thought ‘they should hang it up.’ But here’s the thing, they played through my adolescent derision and they played through the disco era. Forty-plus years since, the Stones still persist.  And here’s another thing, I still listen to the Disco Stones as much as I don’t listen to K.C. & the Sunshine Band. Same era, different musicians, different career arch. I’ve seen K.C. & Sunshine in concert, it was fun and they were talented but … hmmm …

Musical progression, personal reflections in the musical mirror, social and political commentary, concepts, cohesion. Not just songs but sound. Who makes a career of it and who doesn’t, who’s a pop-candy-flash-in-the-pan and who’s a full pot roast dinner? The mashed potatoes might be lumpy but the gravy is divine and oh how I love me mixed metaphors.  Again, I digress.

Early U2, the big breakout album The Joshua Tree carried the message ‘I’m-young-and-a-bit-of-an-arsehole-watch-me-change-the-world.’ The new U2 album³, The Songs of Experience messages,  ‘arseholes-aside-we-need-to-change-the-world-and-you-are-part-of-we.’  We can’t do it ourselves. We need you. We all need we.

Two albums separated by decades with the same resulting message – change the world. And all sung to the tune of U2.

Music. Follow a career. Who persists. What changes. What sticks.

I’m listening.

– Written on a Saturday morning with coffee in the Mr. Viva manroom listening to Miles Davis and The Complete Birth of The Cool, S’il Vous Plait


¹ Frood. Still not her real name, but she knows of where her towel is.

² Saturday Night Live first aired in 1975.  SNL has been around a long time, too.  Future blog post idea: Aging comedically.  And Michael Che on Weekend Update. Deadpan delivery. He persists. He consistently cracks me up.

³ Album. IMO, “album” is a throwback term related to the delivery of music on a vinyl disc played on analog equipment of a specific size, limited to a certain amount of time.  “Albums” (usually) imply a theme. As digital has taken over — I can download music through the time and space of the wireless web. A collection of songs can be organized in many ways other than artist and theme and play time limitations.

Maybe it’s time to rethink “album” terminology.  ‘B’-side anybody? If you know what THAT means, you might be of a certain age … just sayin’.

A Sundry Assortment: Winter Olympics 2018

Before I start on my sundry assortment of 2018 Winter Olympic observations, I must say that after Mueller’s indictment of Russians meddling in the 2016 election,  I tripped across the comment “It is still possible Mueller could still indict Americans for knowingly helping Russia.” ¹ (Hat Tip: WTFJHT)

And I thought: All 63,985,134 of them? Mueller might be taking names …

Bwahahaha! Okay. Enough. On to a couple itty-bitty Olympic-size observations.


Men’s Figure Skating

I happen to be liking Tara Lipinski & Johnny Weir commentary. Not at first and every now and then, sure, I’d still like them to shut up. But as Mr. Viva & I watch an entire skating event, as the precision of performance on the ice goes up, their rate of commentary goes down. And when I listen to them yammer, they do know of what they speak. They have occupied Olympic ice.

Which brings me to presence. For many men,”sports” do not depend on having a “presence.” And let’s face it, the best figure skaters exude a dynamic presence on the ice. Figure skating is not about facing down an opponent or other team and overcoming by scoring more points or beating them up.

And this is why many men don’t see the sport in Men’s Figure Skating competitions. No one is tackled. No harm. No foul. There is music. There is choreography. There are not uniforms.  Individuals wear “outfits.”

No sport.

This explains a lot.

Speaking of Presence

Johnny Weir has presence in spades. He is a joy and a delight!

And I love that his hair last night in profile — swept up and back and very black — reminded me of my great-aunt Amy. And she was beautiful.

Thank you, Mr. Weir.

Pink Floyd takes the ice.

Thrown into the mix of classical music during the final skate of the Men’s Ice Skating championship last night was a skate to a Pink Floyd medley including Shine on You Crazy Diamond and Money.

And then Mr. Viva & I reflected. Pink Floyd’s song Money was released in 1973 or forty-five (45) years ago.

It a classic.

Now it’s like, classical …

Extreme Sports

Back in the day, more than 45 years ago, in black and white, I watched skiers go off the end of the ski jump and watched the official tape measurers measure the length of the jump.  And catching air and sailing, ski tips to the nose while in flight, landing with maximum distance. I was mesmerized.

I haven’t been followed the addition of new extreme winter sports to the Olympics. And so, I watch drop-jawed gobsmacked the half-pipe snowboarding and aerial freestyle skiing or whatever it’s called, events. (“The US Stunk at Winter Olympics Until Extreme Sports Came Along”)

Hurl yourself down a ski jump, flip a couple times in the air, land backward and ski to the next jump which is taken backward, perform a couple more flips, land. This is extreme. Also, the face plants into snow and ice on some spills are painful just to watch. I’m relieved when the athlete gets up and waves their arms and … they’re ready to go again? What!?

And I wonder what sports get added after Extreme Winter Sports? Extreme Winter Sports on Steroids? No, steroids are banned. Extreme Winter Sports Plus? Extreme Men’s Figure Skating? Extreme <insert event that’s not yet extreme here>?

Or maybe the Olympic Committee could consider adding age categories.  Give the ‘olds’ some medals. Extremely Old Winter Sports.  Aging out is not an option.

I mean, we can sing along to Pink Floyd.


¹ ¹Strohm, Chris. Mueller Still Investigating Possible Collusion, Source Says” Bloomberg. 16 February 2018 2:32 PM CST. Web. 17 February 2018.

NASA’s commitment to diversity in photo.

As proof of NASA’s commitment to diversity, they included an old white guy in a photo with doctors, scientists, engineers, pilots and military officers. Whoa!

And my first thought:  what is Mike Pence doing in that photo?

Answer: NASA astronauts, class of 2017, are welcomed by a representative of the Trump administration.* (These are the chosen 12 out of 18,300 applicants – 0.065% chance of selection, wow.  Pretty sure the applicant list for VP was barely even double digit … just sayin.’)

My second thought: what could these astronauts talk about with the VP?

NASA funding? Nyet.  No details.

Climate change? Nyet. Not a believer.

Anything science related? Nyet. I’m a believer.

Mrs. Pence’s beehive? Oh yes! We do need to save the bees.  

Nod and smile politely.  We do need to save the bees.


Full disclosure: I saw a headline referring to Mrs. Pence’s beehive yesterday and I immediately thought she had her hair done. In a beehive.  Mother Pence.

* Yes, Ann.  It still kills me a little to type the words ‘Trump administration.’

 

What a difference a vowel makes …

Whilst a-skimming and a-scrolling through the Huffington Post headlines on Monday, I read “Trump defends World Maternal Health Organization.”  What!?  Whoa.  And so I scrolled back up and the headline resolved itself into “Trump defunds World Maternal Health Organization.”  Ah.   I really need to get my eyes checked.

Defund.  Not defend.  Definitely defund.

Situation normal …