We Takes Our Chances

It started for me at 07:15 EDT, when I roused enough that the noise on the radio resolved itself into words. Something about a Microsoft update going wrong and several airlines having trouble? That initial report proved to be inaccurate: it wasn’t a Microsoft update, it was other software that had gone wrong.

The first report from the front is wrong.
– Rick Hillier (Gen, ret’d)

But the glitch was shutting down computers running Microsoft, of which there are a few, here and there, and the bit about the airlines being affected was accurate. I was now fully awake, because my day included the task of getting a West Coast teenager onto a homeward-bound Air Canada airplane. Exactly which airlines were affected, did you say?

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Check! Or not . . .

Merriam-Webster offers me three meanings for charcoal as a noun (I paraphrase, but only slightly):

  • a dark or black porous carbon prepared from vegetable or animal substances crisped in a kiln
  • a piece or pencil of said carbon used in drawing, or the drawing prepared therewith
  • a dark grey (a lovely dark grey, not black at all, really, which you wouldn’t necessarily expect after the lead-off definition although they do cover themselves with that “or”)

To these I now add a fourth:

  • a completely unsuitable additive for toothpaste

This needs just a smidgen of backstory.

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Napples and Naranjas

English can be just a tiny bit arbitrary. I know you’re shocked by that news, but it’s better to face facts.

There are the spelling/pronunciation disconnects: Take rough, add th at the front and somehow you get throo, not thruff.

There’s that thing where adding one leetle letter at the end of the word (as a Spanish speaker complained to me) changes how you pronounce something back in the meedle of the word. I thought about pin/pine, fat/fate, and cop/cope, and had to admit she had a point.

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Posted in Language and Communication, Laughing Frequently | Tagged | 4 Comments

Oh, Canada

1995? Of course. 1980? Yes, even that. I’m old enough to remember both Quebec independence referendums–both so far, that is–and I especially remember how close the Oui vote came to carrying the day in 1995.

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Posted in Thinking Broadly, Through Canada | Tagged , | 11 Comments

Just Add Air


Ah, the sound of an Amazon parcel landing on the front step. My pillows!

If I weren’t the woman-of-the-world that I am, entirely au courant with vacuum packing of parcels to reduce shipping costs, I’d have been alarmed at the smallness of its dimensions and the largeness of its decibels. That thump was exceedingly unpillow-like.

As it was, though, I just selected a normal household object for relative scale, confidently cut into the outer layer corralling my two pillows, unfolded each just as if I unfolded flattened pillows every day . . .


and cut again, exposing each pillow to a rush of air.

Honestly, it’s enough harmless fun that it encourages me to try to think of vacuumable things to order so they can be shipped this way.

As vacuumed, on the left; as un-vacuumed, on the right.

We’ve added our own milk or water to concentrated soups and powdered hot chocolate for decades. Now we’re adding our own air to a whole new generation of products. What can possibly be next?


Posted in Another Thing, Appreciating Deeply | Tagged , | 6 Comments

. . . How It’s Going

While we wait for the garden to grow, let’s take a look at a thread on X (Twitter), with several posts in that same “how it started, how it’s going, but not snippy-like” category:

Minas Gerais, Brazil – reforestation

Gareth Weeks – liver transplant

Woodstock couple – 50 years later

Rio de Janeiro – reforestation

Best friends – since WWII

Pachuca – painting

Boston highway – moved underground


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Keeping Your Distance

How far do you think they can jump?

A dramatic pause in the story lets us wait in our imagination, as the Sonoran Desert park ranger had waited for the response to his question from the woman who was concerned about rattlesnakes jumping out at her. We didn’t have to wait long: She hadn’t been unsure and he only had 40 minutes for his lunchtime lecture.

Thirty or forty feet.

Another pause lets us think about that number, and get ready for the point of his story.

Good grief.
If they could jump 30 or 40 feet
there wouldn’t be any place in the desert
where you’d be safe.

We laughed, as he intended, but that voice in my head said, “Is he saying that whenever I’m out hiking on a trail there are rattlesnakes within 30 to 40 feet of me?”

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Redux: Wet Cement

We’ve stumbled into a big, beautiful world, boys and girls. Or maybe we’ve just crossed into The Twilight Zone.

There is a fifth dimension,
beyond that which is known to man.
It is a dimension as vast as space
and as timeless as infinity.
It is the middle ground between light and shadow,
between science and superstition.
Rod Serling

You remember, I’m sure, the wine whose tasting notes said it tasted of wet cement. I mean, how could you forget? We’re all probably marked forever. Anyway, one reader suggested that it was a mistranslation of something that presumably made sense in the presumed original Spanish. I decided to check out that possibility.

Nope. Wet cement it is. Wet cement it was meant to be.

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Posted in Another Thing, Laughing Frequently | Tagged | 16 Comments

Without any Breeding

Needing to restock my wine shelf, I made the mistake of wandering into the Vintages section of the closest Liquor Control Board of Ontario (LCBO) outlet.

What is Vintages?

I’m glad you asked. Let’s let the LCBO website answer:

Vintages is your gateway to discovering
the world’s best and most interesting wines,
from icons crafted in top regions
to eclectic little gems starting at well under $20.
No experience required! ​​

Now, I’ve come to accept that I can’t keep up with popular culture, the kids’ slang, and technology, but I did not know until this very day that the Wine World has moved on without me. You don’t believe me? Herewith, the tasting notes for the LCBO’s Wine of the Month.

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Posted in Laughing Frequently | Tagged | 22 Comments