# Is the Decade Over so Soon?

Has it really been a decade already? 2009 is on the way out and 2010 looms, or beckons depending on whether it’ll be half empty of half full. Folks hither and thither are assembling their top tens of the decade. But are they jumping the gun, getting ahead of themselves? Is the decade really over?

For instance, if years were dollars and I were to pay you a decade, ten dollars, I wouldn’t give you nine dollars. I mean I wouldn’t start counting at zero, but at one. Which would mean the last dollar of the decade of dollars is number ten not number nine.

Now then, add 2000 to all that and the last year of the ten is 2010 and not 2009. Therefor the 21st century didn’t begin in 2000, but in 2001. That’s why Arthur C. Clark titled his famous book 2001, a Space Odyssey as the new millennium started in that year. If you follow this line of reasoning the next decade should start in 2011.

But there’s a problem with that. Ask yourself, was 1930 part of the Roaring Twenties? No, but 1920 was. Meaning 2010 is the start of a new decade in the customary mode of dividing the decades. The teens begin and the aughts are ending. (Or the oh-decade or the zip-decade or whatever you call it.)

Which means the aughts decade began in 2000, one year before the twenty-first century did in 2001. There’s your Y2K glitch.

Anyway, since top tens of the decade seem to be in vogue I’ll not buck the trend by offering you the…

Top 10 Years of the Decade

1. 2001
2. 2004
3. 2005
4. 2000
5. 2007
6. 2002
7. 2006
8. 2003
9. 2009
10. 2008

Some joke, huh? All the sports fan in me can say is, wait until next year.

Filed 12/30/09

# Accidental Optical Illusion

I ran across this optical illusion on my living room wall. It was caused by sunlight streaming through the mini­blinds on the picture window casting a series of stripes on a framed photo. I recreated it above in simplified form. The frame, mat and photo are square, but it looks cock-eyed on the bottom. Appearing as if the bottom right-hand corner is drooping, so to speak.

Mouse over the image and see what it looks like without the light bands. It’s square, eh?

Perhaps not the most dramatic opti­cal illusion you’ll ever see. I thought it curious because it happened by acci­dent in everyday life and not by design on paper. Thing is, we run into optical illusions quite often without always noticing. I wrote about this a while back, if that or this interests you at all.

Optical Illusions You Often Run Into

Filed 11/29/09

# The More Things Change in Russia…

When the Soviet Union fell apart Communism was replaced with… I don’t know what you’d call it, but the Russian president is the former head of the KGB. This might amuse them in some ironic sort of way because it seems one thing that hasn’t changed is the Russians’ dark sense of humor.

For instance, here’s a pair of Russian gags from back in the USSR:

What is 150 yards long and eats potatoes?
A Moscow queue waiting to buy meat.

The government pretends to pay us, and we pretend to work.

To save energy, the light at the end of the tunnel will be turned off.

Which only goes to show no matter the form of government the national temperament remains the same. Or as the old song lyric goes, “You can take the boy out of the country, but you can’t take the country out of the boy.”

Filed 11/8/09

# Ye Olde List

Ten Signs You Might be Getting Old

3. You go home at the time you used to go out.
4. You buy clothes for comfort rather than style.
5. You don’t need to show ID to buy booze, or to get a senior citizen discount.
6. ”At the turn of the century” is 1900, not 2000.
7. Every new person you meet reminds you of someone you used to know.
9. ”Wait ’til next year” doesn’t seem that long a wait.
10. You don’t trust anyone under thirty.

There are signs within the signs that you might be getting old. On number two, that you watch Antiques Road­show might be a sign. On number ten, that you know this is a play on the phrase “never trust anyone over thirty” popularized by 1960s era hippies might be a sign.

Another sign, when perusing the magazine rack you don’t know who any of the younger celebrities on the covers are. Not only don’t you know if Lady Gaga is a man or a woman, you never even heard of Lady Gaga. Lastly, that you read this bit on signs you’re getting old and could relate could be a sign you might be getting old.

Filed 10/30/09

# Can You Over-Exaggerate?

A snippet from a recent news article:

…Adams said there had been a rise in complaints from people unhappy with their savings. He said it appeared some companies had over-exaggerated the savings….

What I wonder, is over-exaggerated a word? What exactly does it mean? Can you under-exaggerate? Is there, like Goldilocks might say, an amount of exaggeration that’s just right? Would I know that if I heard it?

Is it similar to being better than the best? Is it akin to being extra preg­nant? Or like being too dead? Or am I excessively over-reacting too much?

Filed 9/3/09

# "We Don’t Have no Stinking System"

There’s a lot of chatter nowadays about the health care system. Is there one? I mean, nobody talks about the car repair system.

Cars are serviced under warranty, covered by insurance, or paid for by the owner out of pocket. Heck, shade tree mechanics fix their cars them­selves, with varying success. Duck tape isn’t proper bodywork and bent coat hangers hang coats a lot better than tailpipes. Still, there is no car repair system I can see.

For health care there’s Medicare, private insurance, employee health benefits, out of pocket payment by the patient and more. Like shade tree mechanics, some patients try self-healing with home brewed elixirs, fad diets, positive thinking, crystals, or whatever else might appear in some book or blog. It’s a pretty unsystem­atic system. More like a variety of systems.

So I wonder, when people talk about the health care system, what are they actually referring to?

Filed 7/28/09

# And Now…

As Monty Python used to say, “and now for something completely different.” A gag cartoon. Which hopefully doesn’t make you gag, though that pun might.

Filed 7/2/09

# Orange You Glad You’re Not Purple?

Colors are commonly associated with attitudes and emotions. Yellow is cowardly, blue is sad, red is angry, green is envious. Depressed or sad is also black, as in a black mood. Which means black is blue. Though black and blue together means sore as in taking a beating. Taking a beating in the stock market puts you in the red, which might make you blue, too.

What about the other two colors that complete the color wheel, orange and purple? Why do they get left out? What are you when you’re orange? Would it mean anything to you if someone said they were feeling pur­ple? If these hues were beings would orange and purple be green with envy? Color me dubious about that, even though I can’t imagine what color dubious would be.

Filed 5/27/09

# Motoring Mirth

Here’s a bit of strange news: Motorist stopped by police for laughing

Is there a problem, officer?
I pulled you over because you were laughing.
Are you joking?
Are you laughing?
Not any more.

You’ve likely seen folks do all sorts of things while driving, making phone calls, eating, drinking, putting on make-up, shaving, reading a map. Wonder if that map shows the spot where they go off the road and hit a tree.

No doubt we could do without these distractions while piloting a one ton vehicle careening down the roadway. Still, how far should we go to keep driver’s minding their driving? If we’re going after driver’s for their mood I suggest we go after road rage more than highway humor.

Filed 5/5/09

# Holy Boatmobile!

Eight Ways for Detroit Auto Makers to Bail Themselves Out

1. Cut labor costs by selling cars as do-it-yourself kits.
2. Rename companies in successful sounding Japanese style to General Moto, Fomocohama, and Karisera.
3. Resurrect glory days when Detroit was king – FINS!
4. Outcompete everyone on price by building used cars.
5. Hire infomercial king Billy Mays. He can sell anything. Act now!
6. Multi-level marketing. Forget about selling cars, sell dealerships.
7. Sell out to China and let them worry about it.
8. Hire charismatic economic wizard Bernie Madoff and… wait. Never mind.

Filed 4/8/09

# Spring has sprung…

…the lark is on the wing, the snail is on the thorn and two birds are on hand in the bush. Soon April showers may bring flowers and possibly the IRS. In which case you might be taking a bath instead of a shower.

As far as I’m concerned warmer weather can’t get here too soon. Per­haps that’s because I live in Michigan, the “Winter Water Wonderland.” Or so the old license plates proclaimed. Seems advertising the winteriness of the place has gone out of fashion as the motto changed to “The Great Lake State.” Then to simply “Great Lakes.” I suppose just “Lakes” will be the final slogan.

Or maybe they’ll eventually reduce it to “Great.” Though that could be taken sarcastically. “Michigan? Yeah, great.” Still, we do border on Lake Superior which is a Great Lake. A lake both great and superior. Does the hyperbole never end? Though in this case great just means big and superior refers to farther up or above. The same way they use superior and inferior in anatomy. That makes Lake Superior big and farther upstream or more northernerish.

At least that’s the story I’m going with.

Filed 3/22/09

# How to Sound Funny on Film

Burping, farting, sneezing and snoring are just plain funny to people of every stripe the world over. What can we take away from that? I suppose, if some body function makes a noise, funny. If it doesn’t, not so funny. Basically, sound effects are funny.

The Three Stooges applied this principle with a vengence. I mean, without those goofy sound effects they’re just a trio of morons abusing each other. If a hammer blow to the head made a thudding, skull-crushing sound it’d be disturbing. But a ham­mered noggin that clangs like a bell is a laugh riot. A poke in the eye isn’t funny unless it goes “plint.”

In the panel cartoon world, Don Martin was the king of the sound effect. Which he had to spell out even though most sounds can’t really be spelled out. Just try spelling out the sound of a brass band falling down a flight of stairs. Don Martin could do it.

One imagines sound effects were why jesters had bells on their hats. Nodding made them jingle as if their brains were little peas in their skulls. Maybe.

Filed 3/10/09

# In the Beginning Was the List

They say one of the best ways to get links to a blog or website is by posting lists. Why are lists so popular? Let’s see…

Top Ten Reasons We Like Lists

2. Easy counting
3. Don’t challenge our attention span
4. Don’t require writing in complete sentences
5. Require no explaining*
6. We like ranking things one to ten
7. We like arguing about rankings one to ten
8. To know what to get at the grocery store
9. Can seem funny when they aren’t
10. Two words, David Letterman

* Sometimes lists do require explaining, for which we have asterisks.

11. We like adding our own entries to them

If you like lists a lot, List Universe has lots of lists, lists of lists including: Top 12 Things you Need to be a Mad Scientist and Top 10 Worst Logos

If you like funny, if foul-mouthed, lists try CRACKED who’ve got the likes of: 15 overlooked deaths of 2008 and Five Homeless Guys Who Accomplished Amazing Things

Wouldn’t you know it would eventually come to this? Top 10 Top 10 Lists of 2008

Filed 1/9/09