Sunday, January 29, 2017

Anatomy of a Butt Dial

  You get a call from someone you know. You answer, but they don't answer back. Yet you can hear them in the background, maybe talking to someone else. You call louder, but you're like a character in "Honey I Shrunk the Kids." You're like a flea trying to call up to the giant who's about to step on you.
  You hang up and the next time you see that person you say "Hey, you butt-dialed me," or if it's a sensitive person you keep it to yourself.  The last two butt dials I got went to voicemail. Hmmm. I listened in but it was just more background chatter. What are they saying? Why are they laughing? Are they mocking me?
  There needs to be an app to amplify these conversations. I'm not a voyeur. I'm just curious. One of my fondest wishes is to be inside someone else's mind for even a minute. Do they see as blue what I call red? Is their hot my cold? Do they think it would be ok to elect a psychopath as president? I doubt there'll ever be an app for that.

If you told me 80 years ago I could take a picture of your face
while I sent a call from your butt, I would have said you were crazy.

Wednesday, January 25, 2017

The Baby Elephant in the Room


  Would I like a copy of the National Audubon Society's Baby Elephant Folio of Audubon's Birds of America? For free? You bet I would! After greeting Teresa's Uncle Vernon and his daughter Kelly at their home in Mesa Arizona last fall, the first thing I noticed was this magnificent tome laying horizontally on a shelf under the TV.
  We only had two days in Mesa so what with chatting with Vern and Kelly, hiking in a desert park under the broiling sun, and exploring thrift stores, I knew I would not have time to check out Audubon's take on the roadrunner, but I made a mental note for future reference.
  As we were packing up to leave, I was surprised to see Teresa lugging Birds of A. out to the car. "Vern wants us to donate it to the Roseau library," she said. I made a sound like an American bittern. I eyed my wife as a kingfisher would eye the great blue heron who had just eaten his breakfast minnow.
  I was sick I tell you till Kelly took me aside. "He wants you to have it," she said. It turns out Teresa had negotiated the library deal. Yes I have way too many books and where would I put this furniture sized volume when we're trying to downsize. And yes more people could enjoy the book at the library than if it was languishing in my private library. Vern sensed my mental state and announced that if the library didn't want the book I should take it.
  The bounce returned to my step because I knew how hard it is to donate even brand new books to the library. You have to get approval from regional headquarters and outside donations gum up their procurement procedure.
  But once we got home Teresa dutifully brought the book to the library. The librarian was amazed and gratified. "We'll set it out so people can enjoy it while I see if we can put it in our system," she said. We returned to the library a couple of weeks later and the librarian said that headquarters had rejected the book as too big. Ha! As I cradled the book in my arms I was reminded of the time we lost one of the kids in a big crowd at the beach. The child was only lost for five minutes, but you get the picture.

My benefactor...and his niece

Friday, January 20, 2017

Stiff Upper Lip, Steve

  I don't often read Plato, but when I do I find myself reading his description of the ideal state. He thought aristocracy best. All governments eventually fail because they go too far. Plato says democracy ends in tyranny or autocracy: "At last the wiliest and most unscrupulous flatterer, calling himself 'the protector of the people' rises to supreme power." That quote is from Will Durant's take on Plato. As one of those who did not vote for the winner, I foresee dark days ahead.
  I watched Reagan's inauguration and Bush's, but I left the TV off today. Instead I went over to Raven Global Headquarters to plan strategy with Mr. Reynolds, my editor. We have no firm plans as yet other than to be nice. But we were doing that before so we'll have be even nicer. Watch out!