Growing up in Germany in the 60s, every boy worth his salt would read the stories of Karl May The school library had a full set of his travel stories – somewhere around 70 – and I believe, I read them all. Many of my schoolmates must have also been worth their salt, because books were often out and you had to wait and visit the library often, to get the book you hadn’t read yet.
One story (maybe several – I don’t completely remember) played in the Llano Estacado. It was described as a big, flat, and featureless area in America. Water was hard to come by and it was dangerous to reach the few and far between watering holes.
To assist, stakes had been set along the path to guide the traveler, therefore llano estacado – the staked plane. Sandstorms often made the crossing even more dangerous, but even in a storm the two to three-meter high stakes would guide a trek. (Yes, even more than a century ago, Germans used the metric system.)
The stories were adventure stories, so they needed villains. They enter the Llano Estacados as gangsters that pull out a series of stakes and set them in a direction leading into the void instead of to the next watering hole. The poor traveler following those stakes ended up in the middle of the dry desert and died of thirst – only to be robbed by the gangsters without any danger to them – because they knew where the watering hole was and had plenty of water for themselves.
I do not remember how the story’s hero, Old Shatterhand, dealt with the hoodlums but, knowing Karl May, it was most likely that they were punished by the wrath of god.
Even if I don’t remember the outcome of the story, I do remember the Llano Estacado after so many decades. It made a strong impression on that young teenager, who, at that time, never imagined that he once would cross that Llano himself. Today I helped to plan a trip to Llano, Texas, and I decided that it really is time to research that good old Llano Estacado.
And – as you see in the picture above – the stakes are still there, just a bit taller and now with wires connecting their tops – – I can only imagine preventing hooligans from re-staking them to misguide the traveler. – – Oh, yes, and the paths are paved now!
1. Only in America…….
can a pizza get to your house faster than an ambulance.
2. Only in America…….
are there handicap parking places in front of a skating rink.
3. Only in America…..
do drugstores make the sick walk all the way to the back of the store
to get their prescriptions while healthy people can buy cigarettes at the front.
4. Only in America…….
do people order double cheeseburgers, large fries, and a diet coke.
5. Only in America…….
do banks leave both doors open and then chain the pens to the counters.
6. Only in America…….
do we leave cars worth thousands of dollars in the driveway and put our useless
junk in the garage.
7. Only in America…….
do we use answering machines to screen calls and then have call waiting so we
won’t miss a call from someone we didn’t want to talk to in the first place.
8. Only in America…..
do we buy hot dogs in packages of ten and buns in packages of eight.
9. Only in America……
do we use the word ‘politics’ to describe the process so well:
‘Poli’ in Latin meaning ‘many’ and ‘tics’ meaning ‘bloodsucking creatures’.
10. Only in America……
do they have drive-up ATM machines with Braille lettering.
… better known as Mark Twain, whose stories of Tom Sawyer and Huck Finn I LIVED when I was a kid.
Here’s a bit of his wisdom:
“A man who carries a cat by the tail learns something he can learn in no other way.”
“A wise man does not waste so good a commodity as lying for naught.”
“Action speaks louder than words but not nearly as often.”
“All generalizations are false, including this one.”
“Courage is resistance to fear, mastery of fear, not absence of fear.”
“Do not have sex with a girl who is too strongly attached to you. If this attachment is not mutual, trust me it ends breaking plates on your head.”
“Don’t go around saying the world owes you a living. The world owes you nothing. It was here first.”
“Don’t wrestle with pigs. you both get dirty and the pig likes it.”
“Each man is afraid of his neighbor’s disapproval – a thing which, to the general run of the human race, is more dreaded than wolves and death.”
“Every person is a book, each year a chapter.”
“Forgiveness is the fragrance the violet sheds on the heel that has crushed it.”
“Give every day the chance to become the most beautiful day of your life.”
“Human beings are the only creatures who blush – or who need to.”
“I can teach anybody how to get what they want out of life. The problem is that I can’t find anybody who can tell me what they want.”
“I deal with temptation by yielding to it.”
“I find that the further I go back, the better things were, whether they happened or not.”
“If you don’t read the newspaper, you’re uninformed. if you do, you’re misinformed.”
“If you tell the truth, you don’t have to remember anything.”
“If you want love and abundance in your life, give it away.”
“It takes your enemy and your friend, working together, to hurt you to the heart: the one to slander you and the other to get the news to you.”
“Its not the size of the dog in the fight, it’s the size of the fight in the dog.”
“Keep away from people who try to belittle your ambitions. Small people always do that, but the really great make you feel that you, too, can become great.”
“Knowledge becomes wisdom only after it has been put to good use.”
“Life is short, break the rules, forgive quickly, kiss slowly, love truly, laugh uncontrollably, and never regret anything that makes you smile.”
“Never allow someone to be your priority while allowing yourself to be their option.”
“Never argue with stupid people, they will drag you down to their level and then beat you with experience.”
“One can enjoy a rainbow without necessarily forgetting the forces that made it.”
“Only he who has seen better days and lives to see better days again knows their full value.”
“Politicians and diapers must be changed often, and for the same reason.”
“The fear of death follows from the fear of life. A man who lives fully is prepared to die at any time.”
“The more I know people, the more I love my dog.”
“The most permanent lessons in morals are those which come, not of book teaching, but of experience.”
“The secret of getting ahead is getting started. The secret of getting started is breaking your complex overwhelming tasks into small manageable tasks, and starting on the first one.”
“The trouble is not in dying for a friend, but in finding a friend worth dying for.”
“The two most important days in your life are the day you are born and the day you find out why.”
“To succeed in life, you need two things: ignorance and confidence.”
“When your opinions start to coincide with those of the majority, it is time to reconsider your opinions.”
“Work and play are words used to describe the same thing under differing conditions.”
“You meet people who forget you. you forget people you meet. But sometimes you meet those people you can’t forget. Those are your friends.”
“You want to be very careful about lying, otherwise you are nearly sure to get caught.”
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Here you have it – people just love my dead blog!
What comes to mind when you think about the ’90s?
As of the date of this writing, all this is an eternity ago – a quarter of a century, in fact. One of the two is nearly forgotten, and it is not Jennifer – thank God!
We have to admire the cloud and the foresight of Bill Gates to hire Jennifer and her co-star Matthew Perry to lend their fame to teach people about Windows 95. When the infotainment, below, was published, Friends was in its first season, and it could not have been clear what phenomenon Friends would become.
About a decade earlier Steve Jobs had rocked the world of product announcements with his Superbowl commercial introducing the MacIntosh. Boring Microsoft – in comparison – had to come up with something earth-moving, and celebrities probably seemed like a good idea.
The first move was to include a pretty cool music video on the distribution CD, Eddie Brickell’s Good Times, but the problem here was that you must have already bought the software, so it was not a particularly good promotional tool.
For this, Jennifer was put to work. At least by today’s standards, it was rather cringe-worthy, but then again, many of the 90s soaps carried the same hallmark.
Lean back, pour a drink and enjoy – all while learning how to use Windows 95.
As an afterthought – how much more fund would that have been, had Bill Gates hired Ross instead of Chandler!?
People in the know around the world recognize today – May 25th – as the day that made clear to all the importance of carrying a towel with you at all times.
Google is certainly aware of it
as is your’s truly
One thought I want to give to you on your way to life from now on. Ponder the question how you learn to fly…
… and get the mind-boggling answer: You throw yourself to the ground – – – – and miss!
Blows all your accepted reality to bits – doesn’t it?
Once again, The Washington Post has published the winning submissions to its yearly neologism contest, in which readers are asked to supply alternate meanings for common words … and the winners are:
- Coffee (n.), the person upon whom one coughs.
- Flabbergasted (adj.), appalled over how much weight you have gained.
- Abdicate (v.), to give up all hope of ever having a flat stomach.
- Esplanade (v.), to attempt an explanation while drunk.
- Willy-nilly (adj.), impotent.
- Negligent (adj.), describes a condition in which you absentmindedly answer the door in your nightgown.
- Lymph (v.), to walk with a lisp.
- Gargoyle (n.), gross olive-flavored mouthwash.
- Flatulence (n.) emergency vehicle that picks you up after you are run over by a steamroller.
- Balderdash (n.), a rapidly receding hairline.
- Rectitude (n.), the formal, dignified bearing adopted by proctologists.
- Pokemon (n), a Rastafarian proctologist.
- Circumvent (n.), an opening in the front of boxer shorts worn by Jewish men.
- Frisbeetarianism (n.), (back by popular demand): The belief that when you die, your Soul flies up onto the roof and gets stuck there.
Sir Ernest Rutherford, President of the Royal Academy, and recipient of the Nobel Prize in Physics, related the following story: “Some time ago I received a call from a colleague. He was about to give a student a zero for his answer to a physics question, while the student claimed a perfect score. The instructor and the student agreed to an impartial arbiter, and I was selected.
I read the examination question: “Show how it is possible to determine the height of a tall building with the aid of a barometer.” The student had answered: “Take the barometer to the top of the building, attach a long rope to it, lower it to the street, and then bring it up, measuring the length of the rope. The length of the rope is the height of the building.”
The student really had a strong case for full credit since he had really answered the question completely and correctly! On the other hand, if full credit were given, it could well contribute to a high grade in his physics course and certify competence in physics, but the answer did not confirm this. I suggested that the student have another try. I gave the
student six minutes to answer the question with the warning that the answer should show some knowledge of physics. At the end of five minutes, he hadn’t written anything. I asked if he wished to give up, but he said he had many answers to this problem; he was just thinking of the best one. I excused myself for interrupting him and asked him to please go on. In the next minute, he dashed off his answer which read: “Take the barometer to the top of the building and lean over the edge of the roof. Drop the barometer, timing its fall with a stopwatch. Then, using the formula x=0.5*a*t^2, calculate the height of the building.”
At this point, I asked my colleague if he would give up. He conceded, and gave the student almost full credit. While leaving my colleague’s office, I recalled that the student had said that he had other answers to the problem, so I asked him what they were.
“Well,” said the student, “there are many ways of getting the height of a tall building with the aid of a barometer. For example, you could take the barometer out on a sunny day and measure the height of the barometer, the length of its shadow, and the length of the shadow of the building, and by the use of simple proportion, determine the height of the
“Fine,” I said, “and others?”
“Yes,” said the student, “there is a very basic measurement method you will like. In this method, you take the barometer and begin to walk up the stairs. As you climb the stairs, you mark off the length of the barometer along the wall. You then count the number of marks, and his will give you the height of the building in barometer units.” “A very direct method.”
“Of course. If you want a more sophisticated method, you can tie the barometer to the end of a string, swing it as a pendulum, and determine the value of g [gravity] at the street level and at the top of the building. From the difference between the two values of g, the height of the building, in principle, can be calculated.”
“On this same tack, you could take the barometer to the top of the building, attach a long rope to it, lower it to just above the street, and then swing it as a pendulum. You could then calculate the height of the building by the period of the precession”.
“Finally,” he concluded, “there are many other ways of solving the problem.”
“Probably the best,” he said, “is to take the barometer to the basement and knock on the superintendent’s door. When the superintendent answers, you speak to him as follows: ‘Mr. Superintendent, here is a fine barometer. If you will tell me the height of the building, I will give you this barometer.”
At this point, I asked the student if he really did not know the conventional answer to this question. He admitted that he did, but said that he was fed up with high school and college instructors trying to teach him how to think.
The name of the student was Niels Bohr.”
Now that the UK is not in the EU anymore, I wonder if this wonderful plan for a sanitized Enlish (the EuroEnglish) will still be implemented.
So far the plan had been that…
In the first year, “s” will replace the soft “c”… Sertainly, this will make the sivil servants jump with joy. The hard “c” will be dropped in favor of the “k”. This should klear up konfusion and keyboards kan have 1 less letter.
There was hope that for a growing publik enthusiasm in the sekond year, when the troublesome “ph” will be replaced with the “f”. This will make words like “fotograf” 20% shorter.
In the 3rd year, publik akseptanse of the new spelling kan be expekted to reach the stage where more komplikated changes are possible.
Governments will enkorage the removal of double letters, which have always ben a deterent to akurate speling. Also, al wil agre that the horible mes of the silent “e”‘s in the language is disgraceful, and they should go away.
By the 4th yar, peopl wil be reseptiv to steps such as replasing “th” with “z” and “w” with “v”. During ze fifz year, ze unesesary “o” kan be dropd from vords kontaiining “ou” and
similar changes vud of kors be aplid to ozer kombinations of leters.
After zis fifz yer, ve vil hav a reli sensibl riten styl. Zer vil be no mor trubls or difikultis and evrivun vil find it ezi tu understand ech ozer.
ZE DREM VIL FINALI KUM TRU!!