From the newly revamped, rewired, and revised Sunday New York Times Magazine – The Ethicist column, “reimagined as a podcast”  addresses your child rearing problems:

Q. A couple downstairs has started letting their baby cry it out. Having no kids myself, I don’t know if this is a valid strategy. What I do know is that it kept me up for an hour at 2 a.m. last night and has woken me up several times this week. Is it within my rights to talk to them about it?

A. I was troubled by “having no kids myself, I don’t know if this is a valid strategy.” If you really cared about this, then just use Google and figure out that this is a very common and valid method.

Maybe try banging on the pipes with your smartphone?

We’re doomed.

The BabysitterThe Babysitter
Normal Rockwell, artist

Just for fun – Hubspot’s opinion and flowchart on using that uppercase symbol:

…writers tend to get into trouble when we try to make punctuation do the job that words are supposed to do. Words are what we should use to get our readers excited about our content, not punctuation. That’s what language is for, after all.

The trouble is, words are hard work. Even professional writers struggle to find the right words when we want to persuade, to energize, to goad others into action. So it’s not too surprising that we often fall back on using punctuation to lend us a hand.

…exclamation marks are the biggest trap of them all. Overused all over the web, these hardworking little symbols are the smiley faces of the punctuation world. We rely on them far too heavily when what we really need to do is go back to our words and try to make them convey more precisely what we’re trying to say.

Don’t ask punctuation to do a word’s job, is what we’re saying.

Could’ve used a comma in that last sentence I think…

Here’s their handy little decision tree to help you along the writing road (click for larger):


I do use them from time to time…but much prefer the ellipsis myself…I make my own rules…

I’m not going to say anything about the drop to 3 degrees last night – that number just doesn’t exist in my thermo-memory.

I’m not going to say anything about the small pry bar and screwdriver I needed to break open the car door since the rubber seals were frozen to the paint.

I’m not going to say anything about the water bottles that froze in our garage so solidly that I had to take two of them into the house and microwave them so I could take one to work and one to the gym.

I’m not going to say anything about that shattered cheap plastic zipper on my expensive winter coat so that the whole thing is now held together by even more poorly made velcro strips.

I’m not going to say that once again another winter rolls in and I still haven’t bought the proper hat and left the only one I have on the kitchen table because I just refuse to give in.

But I am going to say something about these wondrous anemone crystals that formed on the window of my car…winter does provide some things that make you forget and remember…

crystalscystals on glass
[click for larger]
© Jeff Kopito







Pearls Before Swine – by Richard Pastis

pearls before swine

[Updated 7:57 AM – 2 panels rearranged in proper order. “Net” effect the same…]


On Approaching Seventy
by Joan Seliger Sidney

Watching the hands of my son
kneading challah dough
on the maple cutting board
in my kitchen, a memory

rises of my mother
bending over our kitchen table
in Flatbush, pressing, stretching,
folding flour, water, eggs

into a living elastic.
Sometimes in my dreams, Mom
appears, whispers of her mother
in her kitchen in Zurawno

in the pre-dawn dark,
by the light of the kerosene
lamp, pulling and pushing
the yeasty challah dough

until my son covers it
with a clean white cloth
and leaves it in the warm
electric oven to rise.

- On Approaching Seventy, by Joan Seliger Sidney
From her collection, Bereft and Blessed, Antrim House Books

baking breadBaking Bread
Aksel Waldemar Johannessen, 1920
oil on canvas

Other than in very precise baking, what matters in getting a dish “right” is the quantity of an ingredient relative to others in the dish, not that there is one-eighth or one-sixteenth of a teaspoon of it.

I do not mean that measurement itself is unimportant. We know of the incompetent boiler’s antithesis, she who “did not measure at all.” She scooped the flour for making pasta dough in the palm of her hand. She only used pinches of this and that. The mother of a man I met on a flight made chocolate cake and egg noodles using thin, dark, little tin cups. “They had no measurements on them,” he told me, his head bowed reverently. “She knew.”

- A Measured Approach, from the Eat column, NY Times Magazine, 2/15/2015

My niece had once tried to get a recipe from my mother for a luxion (noodle) kugel. She started out by saying, “Foist you tek a gless flour”. No cups or tablespoons – and the “gless” she used was an old Welch jelly glass that she had for years. And you always taste. Maybe a little more salt. A little more pepper. But always came exactly as it did before.

I’m a bit more of a chemist which is probably why I favored baking. My measurements were always exact – even when teaching my daughter, I showed her the precise way to measure flour, or how to carefully test for doneness in a cake, or the way to knead the dough then judge the crumb in a roughly sliced piece of freshly baked bread. Recipes were architectural rules to be followed – when ignored, you risked the failure of collapse. Or worse, an unsatisfied guest.

In these later years I’ve become more flexible in spirit rather than bone. I add a bit more or a bit less, or leave it in the oven for a few more minutes than the prescribed time. Maybe I add a touch more sweetness or bite. Or even a fingersnip more of salt. Maybe something doesn’t work. And that’s ok – there’s always the opportunity to make it again. There can be a bit of forgiveness in cooking and baking – even the small failures can be overlooked when you share a meal that was made with your own hand.

And nothing tastes sweeter, lasts longer, or is enjoyed more.

in the kitchenAt the Kitchen
Vladimir Makovsky
(click on illustration for artwork page)

…and Vint Cerf, one of the “fathers of the internet”, is worried

Rather than a world where longevity is a given, Cerf fears a “digital dark age” in which the rapid evolution of technology quickly makes storage formats obsolete thanks to a phenomenon he calls “bit rot.”

In that world, the applications needed to read files we so confidently store today could be lost because they’re incompatible with new hardware technologies that emerge. The result, he contends, could be that many of our those files will be rendered useless, inaccessible to future generations.

But offers a possible solution:

Cerf’s proposed solution is something he calls “digital vellum”—essentially, a tool for preserving old technologies so that even obsolete files can be recovered.

“At a high level, the way to solve this would be to maintain at a minimum read compatibility with older data even as new technologies are introduced without worrying about performance, capacity or cost,” said Eric Burgener, a research director with IDC (International Data Corporation).

But there’s a bit of a sticky wicket:

The lack of a profit motive is a big part of the problem, (said Simon Robinson, a research vice president with 451 Research)… “This is not seen as a lucrative opportunity, so not really worth the investments required.”

Odd. I have some books that date back to the early 20th century – and I can still read them. At no additional cost. With some very old hardware. That still works.

We’re doomed.






…just spending some daydreaming time…

rebecca_campbellThe Explorer
Rebecca Campbell, artist
Oil on linen

[h/t to ebookPorn for the lead in to the artist…]

…maybe I’ll get some of my own work done today…

Unlimited_thought_by_mathioleUnlimited Thought
Matheus Lopes Castro (mathiole), Artist
Digital Art/Mixed Media

The first two steps are easy…then comes the third:

And not just broken; shattered. Into itsy bitsy tiny little pieces, by a girl who never loved you and never will. Join the gym at your work. Start going to the gym regularly, and even though you don’t know that much about exercise and you’re way too weak to do pretty much anything but lift 5 lb weights and use the elliptical machines with the old people, do it until your sweat makes a puddle on the floor. Then go home and go to bed early and the next day do it again. And then again. And then again.

Listen to stories of your ex-girlfriend…from your friends who think they are doing you a favor. Go to the gym and make more puddles of sweat. Buy books. Learn about different muscle groups and how they work together. Start eating healthy. Learn about nutrition. Plan out your week of meals. Try to forget her.

Get on the treadmill. Push yourself to level 3, then level 4. Then 6. Run so fast you feel like you are going to die. Hit level 10. Pray for death. Think of how bad she makes you feel. Find the strength to keep going.

Late one night, make the mistake of looking at her Facebook and Instagram posts. Feel lower than you ever thought possible. Unfriend her and try to forget what you’ve seen. …She is having a great time without you, and you are wasting your life listening to Taylor Swift on repeat and making sweat puddles on a gym floor.

Watch as your life shrinks down to four things: 1.) work, 2.) the gym, 3.) the food you eat, 4.) sleep. She wears the necklace you bought her and tells you that she got it “from someone who’s really special”. That night you discover that Slayer’s “Angel of Death” might be the perfect song to do squats to.

You listen to all her favorite songs. You run farther and lift more than you thought your body was capable of. It is a good workout. It leaves you numb. You go home and eat a single chicken breast and steamed vegetables. You go to sleep. You dream of a bottomless black puddle.

You make puddle after puddle after puddle and eat single chicken breasts and work and sleep and the weather gets warm and then gets cold and you know all of Taylor Swift’s songs by heart and the only things that exist in the entire universe are you and The Gym and then something different happens: a night comes where you are not the last person in the gym. 

It is you and the girl who does the weird leg exercises. You end up walking out at the same time.

You look at her in the lights and she smiles. Something in your chest expands.

– this is an excerpt…read it all (and step #4 is also easy…).

Personally tested. Long time ago. It works. But don’t want to do it again…

I am such a boy…

charles_atlasVintage Charles Atlas ad

© Bill Israel

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