Wednesday, September 30, 2015

5-star Tweets of the Month

My best twitter month ever? Hard to say, but September was prolific for @8days2Amish. I think that’s because it was so news heavy and I was really plugged in. With Trump rampaging across the GOP primary field and the Pope’s visit, lots of comments were bound to arise. Plus, my new office has wifi. If something popes into my head, I just dash it right off

And, yes, that popes typo was deliberate.

I hope you’ll share these and encourage friends to follow me on Twitter. Each new follower feels to me like a happy hug from a friendly stranger.

Careful observers will notice, too, that's a new picture above. Had a bunch taken for pending projects. My preening vanity has been stoked.

• Getting out of bed makes me feel like WWI soldier being ordered to vault from trench into No Man’s Land certain to face heroic annihilation.

• Any man who says he is his own worst critic is either delusional or single.

• Told daughter she's growing up too fast and wish she'd just stay 7. She said, "Dad, I'm 9." I told her she's such a disappointment

• If they made a sunscreen to ward off all life’s annoyances it would have to be about SPF 995

• Exorcising your demons can lead to spiritual peace. Exercising your demons just leads to really fit demons

• Spanker devotees spend their lives in the pursuit of slappiness.

• Obama arbitrarily changes lyrics of Edmund Fitzgerald so "big lake they call Gitchygoomee" now "big lake they call Rev. Jeremiah Wright.”

• It’d be neat to observe lunchroom dynamics at a newspaper called the Christian Science Monitor if it were staffed by Christians & scientists

• As a fan of irony, I'd like to see Roger Goodell announce a face-saving compromise and Brady be so happy he hugs him till his balls deflate

• I tend to judge all illegal immigrants by how their being here will improve my culinary options so I’m fine with Mexicans

• I woke up today again wondering if the Constitution for Concord grapes begins, "We the purple …"

• I predict milk will be next common food staple to get the luxury boutique treatment. People will have milk orgies in moo saloons: Cowligula!

• I’d like to be a fly on the wall when flies on the wall discuss their bafflement over why any human would ever want to be a fly on the wall.

• He’s cheerful, polite, enjoys laughter. Yes, the Pillsbury Dough Boy is among the world's greatest roll models.

• Daughter, 9, says my next book should be called, "EAT All the Crayons!" I'm noodling it. 

• A hyphen-nation is a land to which grammarians will likely dash. 

• Shrewd fortune tellers probably greet every new customer with, “I've been expecting you.”

• Romantic trees can never be accused of being "too sappy.”

• Given surplus of one and deficit of the other, I imagine when Jesus returns He'll turn California wine into water.

• I wonder if pigs have hamstrings.

• I’ll bet if Trump wins the presidency, he’ll sculpt a new face on the Lincoln Memorial so honest Abe more resembles Trump.

• If fans of Grateful Dead are Deadheads, what does that make those of us who revere Moby Dick?

• All you need to know about the appeal of broccoli is no one's ever tried to make booze out of it.

• Unless you're a disabled pirate or a sympathetic cyclops, you'll never have a chance to see truly eye-to-eye.

• I knew Donald Trump ran beauty pageants. What I didn’t know was he judged them and that we were all contestants.

• No excess yeast is used in the making of pita bread. No animals were harmed in the making of #PETA bread.

• Born in 1867, Cy Young would now be Cy Old.

• This is just a guess, but I'll bet llama farmers refer to llama mothers as mmamas.

• Watching "Frozen." Thinking if I were God, this is the year I'd make every snowflake EXACTLY the same to excite climate change enthusiasts.

• There ought to be a wax museum celebrating the history, manufacture and usage of wax.

• Trump’s incessant focus on others' looks leads me to believe he's the world's only narcissist who's never gazed in a mirror.

• I’m sorry “concentration camp” has horrific connotations. I’m often so distracted I could use a couple of weeks in a concentration camp.

• Too many people confuse irony with coincidence. Coincidence is meeting an old friend at a movie. Irony is when a wolf eats a vegetarian.

• What percentage of worshippers who spent up to 10 hours waiting to hear Pope Francis will instigate road rage incident on the way home?

• Can someone -- anyone -- explain to me why the words devil and evil don't rhyme?

• I wonder if Pope Benedict is sitting in some bar watching saturation coverage of successor telling girls, "You know, I used to be pope.”

• I wonder if alpha walruses ever get into beach shoving matches shouting, "I am the walrus!" "No, I am the walrus!” 

• Picture of pope & Obama sharing chuckle taken after Francis admitted — surprise! — he's Muslim, too! 

• Sacrilegious observation about sacred man: If this guy wasn't pope, he'd have no trouble getting laid.

• Are minions uni-racial or are there dark-skinned minions behind some wall built by a Trump-like minion?

• Why are there locks on the lobster tank where I shop? If I'm a shoplifter, a live lobster is the last thing I'm stuffing down my pants.

• For purposes of general housekeeping and upkeep, I wouldn't want a home where the buffalo roam and the deer and the antelope play.

• I wonder at what point during his historic visit did pope say something to cause Trump to strike him from VP shortlist. 

• It says something about American that there are a plethora of erectile dysfunction ads, yet none proposing cures for the cerebral kind.

• As a believer in American equality, I don't miss Jim Crow; as a believer in American folk music, I do miss Jim Croce. 

• I figure by my crude calculations you could probably fit about 5 queens in your typical queen-sized bed. Seven if you persuade 'em to spoon

• I’ve lived a long time but I've never known anyone who when they were young & their heart was an open book used to say live & let live.

• I wonder if I'd get farther if I stopped calling myself a "writer" and began answering "philosopher" when asked what I do. Pay's about same.

• I take a back seat to no one in regards to Stones fandom, but I can't fathom why anyone who sees a red door would paint it black

• I’m having trouble reconciling the fact in my life I've heard many swan songs, yet have never heard a single swan sing.

• Does anyone know if Turkey has a national bird? Could it be this obvious? 

• I hope to reduce afterlife moron population they give each of us a riddle we have to answer before getting into heaven and I pray mine's easy.

• Some words have too many meanings. Like volume (a collection, bulk, strength); or record (recall, an album, etc.) & I'm not touching cock.

• Sometimes when I'm pumping gas and feeling really naughty I remove my credit card really, really slowly. Just to stick it to The Man.

Related . . .

Tuesday, September 29, 2015

Pope re-gifts an $8 million Bible

We can add another title to the ones decorating Pope Francis’s already illustrious LinkedIn profile.

Yes, the Vicar of Jesus Christ, the Bishop of Rome, the Supreme Pontiff of the Universal Church and the Successor of the Prince of the Apostles is now The World’s Biggest Re-gifter!

He was presented on Thursday an $8 million, hand-written, lavishly illustrated St. John’s Edition Apostle’s Bible, said “Thank you very much!” and promptly turned the historic heirloom over to the U.S. Library of Congress.

I guess that’s only slightly more proper than taking it to Barnes & Noble and trying to swap it for one whopper of a gift card that would, I guess, allow him to purchase his own store, biscotti shop and all.

Have you heard about this?

The Saint John’s Abbey and University in Collegeville, Minnesota, commissioned the work in the year 2000. It secured the services of Donald Jackson, the official calligrapher to the Crown Office of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland.

It is the first hand-written and illuminated (illustrated) Bible commissioned by a Benedictine abbey since the invention of the printing press 500 years ago.

Jackson and his team have for 15 years gone to work each and every day and transcribed the Bible in painstaking detail. 

By hand.

I wonder how many times they rolled their eyes when they heard co-workers joke they’d finally fixed the office copy machine.

They used quills pens.

That’s 807,361 words over 1,130 pages with 160 paintings.

Thou shalt not get writer’s cramp.

I’m going to try and check it out next time I’m in D.C.

And I mean “check it out” in the library sense. I’ll show them my card and say I want to take the big Bible — it’s about the size of a party pizza — home with me.

I’ll bet they’ll let me, too. Libraries are like that. Unlike banks and loans, libraries aren’t looking for reasons to say no.

I’d take it home and leave it on the coffee table and hope they wouldn’t eventually notice all the drink rings on the cover from using it as a really fancy coaster.

Of course, there’s a chance this is one volume the library is going to hoard, which is a pity.

They’re likely going to keep it secure under glass and you won’t be able to turn the pages. If library patrons are lucky, they’ll turn one page a day, which means if you want to read the whole thing and find out how it ends you’ll have to be there every day until April 16, 2017.

Spoiler alert!

The butler did it.


Of course, now I wish I rode the bus to work with master calligrapher Donald Jackson. He’s the man who can justifiably say he wrote the Bible.

So he’s up there with Moses and the prophets.

The pictures I’ve seen of him make him look like a maitre ‘d at some posh restaurant.

I’d like to know why he didn’t wear a robe and sandals. That’s more Biblical looking and I think it’d you’d care less if you got ink on the sleeves.

I’d like to know if he felt any impulse to make parts of it more lively. Long stretches of the Bible are tremendously tedious and story pacing could be accelerated if Jackson had tossed in a gratuitous chariot race or some Bedouin sex.

The Bible needs more of that if it’s ever going to really catch on.

Catch on? What am I saying?

The Bible is the best selling book of all-time. In fact, it’s the best selling book each and every year. Over 100 million copies are either sold or given away each year (think Gideons). 

I wonder how many of them are owned by the pope.

I read the average American home has four Bibles.

How many does the pope own? Four? A dozen? A hundred?

You could argue he “owns” every Bible in the more than 250,000 Roman Catholic Church parishes around the world.

So giving a Bible to the pope the proverbial coals to New Castle story.

Understanding this, you and I need to brainstorm up a truly unusual gift for next time the pontiff visits, something unforgettable, the kind of thing he’ll forever remember for its charming uniqueness. 

I’m thinking a new comb.

Related . . .

Monday, September 28, 2015

America needs a pope of its own

The tour de force Pope Francis visit was such a wild success it has me wondering why we in America don’t have a pope of our very own.
I’m thinking David Letterman.
Didn’t you feel better about humanity this week knowing it could still produce at least one prominent man or woman capable of speaking simple truths in simple sentences?
The reaction to his congressional address was especially telling. Did you hear them react when he gently admonished members it might be beneficial to practice the Golden Rule?
You’d have thought he’d have just shared with them an alchemic formula on how to turn acorns into diamonds.
They went, er, nuts!
Need a refresher? Here you go . . .
“Do unto others as you’d have others do unto yourselves.”
Maybe we should skip the next presidential election and send all our politicians back to kindergarten.
He reminded those of us who don’t have shareholder stakes in Native American casino riches, “We, the people of this continent, do not fear foreigners because at one time most of us were foreigners.”
I think that’s the line that caused Trump to strike him from VP shortlist consideration.
I couldn’t help but wonder how Pope Benedict felt about all the adulation we bestowed on his successor.
I have to think he’d be at least a bit morose. Benedict was a fine pope, sure, but Francis is a rock star, albeit with nuns instead of groupies, to use just one example.
It’s human nature to not want your successor to outshine you. I imagined he was in some Rome bar telling girls, “Big deal. You know, I used to be pope, too.”
Really, the man Francis most reminds me of is Fred Rogers.
He said the same things Francis says — be kind, be faithful, be generous, be fair, be not afraid — to children.
Francis was saying the same childish message but was directing is straight at increasingly childish adults.
Today, we no longer have Fred Rogers.
Today, we have Kanye.
I think that’s why the pope’s visit was such a sensation. He told us all the things that have been in our hearts all along, stuff that just gets buried beneath all the unseemly clutter of trying to survive.
Still, I can’t help but wonder how long the message will stick before it’s drowned out by shrill din of our ever-coarsening society.
That’s why I figure Letterman might be a good choice for American pope.
He’s funny, has sensible Midwestern values and can be profound without being complicated.
Sure, he’d have some concerns about that silly papal celibacy rule, but there’s no need to enforce that for a secular sort of pope.
But we need someone who can every once in a while do like Pope Francis did: just come out and remind us it’s okay to be kind, to be good, and to treat one another with love and understanding.
Maybe what America needs today isn’t a pope, but a parent, someone to remind us how civility suits us. This might be especially salient during the presidential primary season.
Let’s be thankful for this great pope’s message and let us try and keep it alive and pass it on to our children.
And let’s be grateful this well-meaning idea for a selecting a secular pope didn’t strike us back when Bill Cosby would have been the perfect candidate.

Related . . .

Sunday, September 27, 2015

Re-run Sunday: The i's of my Apples

I'm looking forward to the new Steve Jobs movie and eager to see confirmed he was as big a jerk as I’ve always suspected. But today let’s talk about all the i’s in our Apples. What does the i in iPad mean? Or iPhone? I liked this one from April ’12. I hope you enjoy it today.
Tomorrow I’ll be writing about what a tour de force the Pope’s visit was and wondering why America can’t have a pope of our very own.

Does anyone know what the “i” in iPod, iPhone, iPad, etc. means because iDon’t.

We have Apple to thank for making the language sound more selfish than anytime in spoken history.

It’s iThis and iThat. iMean -- Aye! Yi! Yi! Yi! Yi! Me thinks it’s too much.

iThought about writing this a couple of months ago, but kept putting it off. Then today, of course, when iStarted digging around to see what the now ubiquitous “i” means iFound iMissed the boat.

Paul Aertker beat me to it. He wrote this fun Yahoo story that appeared way back in September.

Aerkter writes: “Like everyone, I have run out of words to describe the awesomeness of Apple’s iProducts. iMean who doesn't love their iPod, iPad, iMovie, iMac, iPhone, iCal, iCloud, or even iPO?


Standing in a sea of iShoppers, it hit me, really hit me. Everything was named, iSomething.


Before 2001, there was no iPod; there was no iAnything. In 1998, the iMac started the iEverything movement. Before that, Everything actually started with an 'e'.”

I’m generous in my attributions to Aerkter here because iWouldn’t want anyone to infer iStole his idea, an act that would lead them to justifiably conclude iSuck.

In fact, iCulture has even shifted the very definition of “iSuck.”

According to, iSuck is more noun than verb and a catch-all pejorative for any Apple product. From the site:

“iSuck -- Any Apple product that starts with an ‘i.’ Mostly derived from conversations about the iPod: ‘Wow, I can buy an iSuck for $260 on!’ (said with a hint of sarcasm).”

George Orwell wrote of a day when an all-seeing Big Brother would watch everything everyone was doing, but iDoubt even he could conceive a day when we’d be seeing i’s instead of eyes.

There’s, an online marketing research firm, and iDrink, an on-line mixology site. And the delightful and profane iQuit’s worth a look.

The now-reeling Pittsburgh Penguins feature a team of young lovelies who clean the ice between action. They’re called the Ice Crew, but if I understand sports marketing -- and iDo -- then it’s a deliberate corruption of an innocuous term to provoke men into thinking about sex (iScrew) when they should be thinking about sloppy goaltending.

Works for me.

Some i’s pre-date Apple’s iMania and lack conventional iSpelling. There’s IAM, a French hip hop band whose name means in French ‘Invasion Arrivee de Mars,” (Invasion from Mars, Mars being a metaphor for Marseille).

Stock car race fans know IROC, the International Race of Champions, the oval-track competition that in 1985 became the inspiration for the popular Camaro IROC-Z.

Ido has been around since 1907. It’s a form of communication that aspires to become a universal second language for the linguistically diverse. The Ido Wikipedia entry says there are about 100 to 200 people on the planet who are fluent in Ido, which makes it iRrelevant.

Then there’s “I Do, I Do, I Do, I Do, I Do,” from “Mama Mia.”

But iDigress.

I found a blog that seemed to have all the answers. It’s called “What does iPod Stand For?”

And you thought a blog named “Eight Days to Amish” takes narrow aim.

The site says:

The iMac was the first Apple product to feature the leading “i” in its brand name. It was marketed as “The Ultimate Internet Appliance.”

And iApologize for all the iTalics. Hope they haven’t made you see-sick.

The “i”, it says, morphed into being more personal and self-centered, to me a sign of our increasing cultural iSolation.

Of course, that’s just me, one guy railing against the monoliths shackling the language.

iCan’t help it. To paraphrase an iConic thinker, “iYam what iYam.”

Besides the people have spoken. The i’s have it.

That’s enough for now.

I’m going to grab some breakfast to try and clear my mind.

All of a sudden I’m thinking IHOP.

Friday, September 25, 2015

This is, gulp, my 1,500th blog post

When I click the “publish” button above this draft, this will become my milestone 1,500th blog post in seven years.
Of course, that may never happen.
I still have about 90 minutes to decide whether or not to climb out on the fire escape and throw myself from the roof of the 3-story Tin Lizzy, Youngstown’s tallest structure and for the past two months home of my on-going blog futility.
Seven years, 1,499 blog posts.
Time flies when you’re feeling irrelevant. 
Turning 50 bothered me much less than my blog turning 1,500.
I worry the blog is going to go through some mid-life crisis, go out and buy a 'vette and stick me with the bill.
Maybe I’ll feel different in the year 3463 A.D. when I turn 1,500 — and you can bet I’ll be using Throwback Thursday profile pictures exclusively if that happens.
Blogging for so long with so little tangible success is either a form of insanity or an invitation for insanity to barge in through an ear and build a spacious home.
It’s all so untenable.
I’d quit but I’m aware of at least two people who love the blog.
That’d be me and you.
I do love blogging. I think it’s made me the writer I’ve always wanted to be; sharp, fast, incisive with an instinctive humorous bent on every topic.
There are many writers I admire, but there are no writers with whom I’d swap abilities.
I think most writers think that way, egotists that we are.
And I think you do love it. Not in the way you love your dog, your TV or ice cream, but you do enjoy the blog. You must. Getting anyone to read anything any more is a real accomplishment.
Getting them to read an enigmatically-named and highly personal blog aimed at thought-provoking humor is a real challenge.
Yet, read you do.
And many people use these exact words — “I love your blog” — to encourage me. Many people come up to me and just crack up over some lines I’ve written. And I hear from people all over the world for whom the blog is near-daily must-read.
It’s very gratifying.
They say they can’t believe I’m not famous.
Me, I’d settle for solvent.
And, oh, boy, so would my wife.
I don’t think Val believes the blog is a happy little diversion to so many people and that many would be deeply disappointed if I just up and quit and took a job tending bar — the only thing I remain qualified to do anymore.
I ask top writers whose opinions I respect what I should do to become successful, to make some dough. They all say the same thing.
“Just keep doing what you’re doing.”
Meaning what?
Being gloomy? Feeling forlorn? Waking up in the middle of the night in fear a tiny gust of wind will blow my little house of cards to smithereens? 
Yet, I persevere with cheer and faith my friends are correct. I believe success will come if I just keep doing what I’m doing.
I sometimes feel a kinship to the Biblical Job, an odd analogy I admit for a man who for 23 years hasn’t had a job.
See, I do believe in this blog. I do believe people love it and it will one day prosper as they foresee.
And that will make the eventual success all the more sweet.
But until that happens I ask one favor:
Don’t tell me you think it will. Don’t say, man, some day the whole world is going to find out about and you’ll be a huge sensation.
Don’t tell me to just be patient, that I’m on the right track.
Don’t say these struggles are temporary and will eventually be an interesting footnote in the bigger story about the importance of persistence in the face of daunting setbacks.
Do not tell me it’s all going to pay off.
Do not, please, tell me I am great.
Tell my wife!

Related . . .

Thursday, September 24, 2015

Bucs win! What'll happen to Kang's interpreter?

Many loyal fans felt sentimental thoughts about a South Korean gentleman when our Pittsburgh Pirate clinched their third straight playoff appearance yesterday.
Me, I thought about two of them.
Of course, it was sad to realize our star infielder Jung-ho Kang wasn’t in the lineup for the victory and subsequent champagne celebration.
A superstar in the Korean Baseball Organization, the Pirates signed him last winter, a move that was greeted by disdain from those who didn’t think his skills would translate to American ball — not to mention those xenophobes who think Trump should build a wall between Korea and California.
Oh, how wrong were the skeptics. Kang’s became a fan favorite for his skills and demeanor.
Val and I were at the game last week when his season cruelly ended. Chris Coghlan of the Chicago Cubs made an aggressive slide into Kang to break-up a surefire double play. It broke Kang’s leg and tore some of the muscles with names too Latin for me to try and spell.
Many Pirate fans were outraged. They said the slide was dirty. They said Coghlan was deliberately trying to hurt one of their rival’s stars.
Kang said they were wrong. He said he forgave Coghlan. He said it was a clean play. He said he thanked the fans for their support.
Actually, he said none of those things.
We’re told through his interpreter, H.K. Kim, he said those things.
And that’s the man for whom I feel even greater empathy than Kang.
See, Kang is enjoying the fruits of an $11 million, 4-year contract. He eats at the finest restaurants and is enjoying the most posh care imaginable.
Kim? I had to look up his name. Most stories don’t even mention him. It’s simply, “Kang said through his interpreter.”
It’s like a story about Batman that doesn’t mention Robin.
I think Kim had the best gig in baseball.
One story said his duties were “to assist Kang with his life inside and out of baseball.” 
Given Kang’s paycheck, that’s a lot of latitude. He could be Kang’s food taster, pimp, financial adviser, dog walker, butler, caddy, mystic, chauffeur, etc.
Plus, I’ve always dreamed of having the god-like power of any interpreter.
If Kang was feeling down after a crucial strike out and the fans were mercilessly booing him, you could say, “They’re saying ‘Cheer up. We still love you!”
Kim has a vested interest in ensuring Kang enjoys having him around — and that he never learns a lick of English.
I’ve been interested in being a baseball interpreter ever since I heard the first thing Seattle Mariner teammates taught Japanese import Ichiro Suzuki to say in English was — and I’m going to sanitize this — “Kansas City in July is hotter than two rats making love in a sock.”
Imagine the bar stories you’d have for the rest of your life.
I thought about calling Pirate media relations about interviewing Kim to learn his plans now that his clubhouse neediness has been greatly reduced, but I know how that conversation goes:
“Your blog is called what?”
“It’s Eight Days To Amish.”
“What do you write about?”
“Well, I recently wrote about my theory that we could cure global warming by everyone simultaneously leaving their refrigerator doors open for an hour a day.”
“What else?”
“I wrote about how the world today would be different if Noah’d had a fly swatter on the ark.”
So I guess we’ll never find out about the ambitions and pastimes of the mysterious Mr. Kim.
He’ll be gone and one of the great stories of the year will have gone mostly untold.
Of course, I see an opening in his departure.
Kang may learn English, but none of yinz’ll ever get fluid in Pittsburghese.
I guess the best we can hope for is Kim eventually finds something as satisfying, that Kang heals and that the Pirates start getting hotter than two rats making love in a sock.

Related . . .