Whimsical ... 

Last updated October, 2000.

Casual observations about everyday life.

Go to serious topics.

Let's Not Go To Mars

Balding With Pony Tail
Sweet and Sour Fur
Man, 20, Slain, Leaves 16
Washington Redskins
Musical Baseball
Fruit Loops
How Now Brown Cow
Not Very Jiffy
Red, Yellow and Blue

Balding With Pony Tail, a Sorry Sight  (10/00)

It is not unusual to see a man balding on top and sporting a pony tail. Chances are, he grew up when many teenage boys had hair down to the shoulders or below, but he wasn't allowed to by his parents or his school. By the time he got out on his own and could wear his hair any way he wanted to, he had lost much of his hair.

Back in the 1960's if not for a few decades more, getting a haircut was often the subject of a family fight between parent and child. Schools revised their dress codes to specify hair length. The (independent) school I attended had this rules: "boys' hair must not extend down over the eyes, the ears, or a shirt collar". The hair style popularized by The Beatles in their early days of fame almost meets those requirements. One of my high school classmates always tells about the time he and a few others were "herded into a station wagon" in the middle of a school day and taken to the barber shop, with parents being billed later for the haircuts. Several years later, the (private) school relaxed hair length requirements.

Actually, a pony tail is a very convenient way to manage one's hair. Once it is long enough, the hair, all of it, is simply pulled back, gathered together and tied with something as simple as an elastic band (which many boys use). Haircuts in the normal sense are never needed, the end of the pony tail is simply cut to the desired length every few weeks.

One balding man I knew parted his hair down by his ear. Hair was drawn up over the top of his head, then down the other side and around back into a small ponytail.

Billions of Chinese men couldn't go wrong. They took things a step further, braiding the hair. In a few parts of the country, the longer the pigtail (regardless of baldness on top) the more respect a man got.

Coming to America in the mid 1800's to help build railroads and hopefully send money back home to the family, Chinese (and also American Indians) men were sometimes set upon by unfriendly natives or other immigrants. (Why did it seem that bad guys in the wild west were mostly Caucasian?) A favorite joke was to cut off his pigtail. Or he might be tied by his hair to something(1). The only way he could free himself was to cut off the pigtail himself. Then, returning home to family and friends, he would suffer shame.

The pigtail often hung to waist level or below. Children would often pull it (2). Pulling the pigtail usually ripped out lots of hairs a few at a time so that was an easy technique to make someone submissive and subservient. With the help of the other hand in a clenched fist (or in the case of a small child, a nearby grownup with clenched fists).

Unlike in the Bruce Lee movies, kung fu and karate was of no help. Any display of that would certainly bring a posse or lynch mob that would hang the unfortunate martial artist either by his pigtail or by a rope. If not that, he would at least be fired from the railroad gang. Unable to make payments on the boat fare(3) to the U.S., he would be set upon by the posse or lynch mob sent by the loan sharks.

(1) E.g. hair tied around a branch of a tree in a valley, knotted and covered with tar, and a flash flood is coming.

(2) These are kind of people who pulled the cord in back of a trolley car, disconnecting the power line connection above and forcing the motorman to come out back to reset it.

(3) Smuggling of illegal immigrants from China and Mexico, the imiigrants who still pay large sums of money for passge, continues to this day with some of the most egregious cases being people packed in a truck trailer behind tons of vegetables, sweatshop made clothing, or electronic goods.

Sweet and Sour Fur

One afternoon I was passing by a large department store and protesters were standing about, urging people to boycott the store because it sold fur. One of the placards the protesters carried had a photograph of a fox' carcass, minus the skin. When I asked, the sign holder said that the meat was left to rot.

Some years ago I read an article about a Chinese restaurant where dogs were slaughtered. The story said that only the employees ate the dogs, none was served to customers.

Perhaps they should serve dog to diners. There would be three related businesses, a fox farm, a restaurant, and a furrier. As the foxes are prepared for the kitchen the skin is removed and turned over to the furrier. The carcasses are eviscerated, pre-cooked, and hung in the window awaiting purchase by customers who wish to take them home, or awaiting selection by the chef.

Another way of preparing the fox (or dog) is like Peking (Beijing) duck. The carcass is eviscerated but the skin is left on it. It is dipped in boiling water to loosen the hair which is then easily pulled off and discarded. The meat is sliced into squares and baked so the skin becomes crispy.Fur is not left behind for animal activists to complain about.

A new food fad I heard about (late 2000) is pork rinds. If I remember correctly, pork rinds are simply slices of pork with the skin still attached. If so, Chinese restaurants have been serving them for decades. I believe they are called, pronounced in Cantonese, SIU GEE YOOK. They are usually prepared like Peking duck as described above.

Fox rinds, anyone?

Man, 20, Slain, Leaves 16  (4/00)

Heard on the Howie Carr show, WRKO 680 Boston, ca. 4/12/00 5:35 PM.

"A 20 year old man was shot to death [city not recalled]. He left 16 children." Almost quoting the words of Mr. Carr, "This young man sired 16 offspring with nine women beginning when he was 14." "One woman bore 4 of his children, several others two each. At the man's funeral, two of the women got into a dispute over the man's assets."

It was also mentioned that the women would be going on welfare to raise the children. One would suppose that they were already on welfare.

New Mascot  (5/99)

The Washington Redskins should keep their name. But they should change their mascot to be a potato. No, they don't have to move to Idaho.

I don't like potato skins now. It is like eating paper. But back when I was in grade school I did like potato skins.

Potato skins have gone in and out of style. I think it was ten years ago that most restaurants featured hollowed out potatoes as an hors d'oeuvre or an appetizer. While some medical experts say most of the nutrition in a potato is in the skin, others say there are traces of poisonous substances in the potato's skin (and also in its eyes). (Liver has gone in and out of style for the same reason, I may discuss that in another topic in the future.)

When I was in college (this was a few decades ago) I was in the dining hall with a friend one night and I was peeling the skin off of a potato and putting it to the side. My friend said, "You don't eat the skin? That's the best part of it.". A few weeks later we were eating together again and he was peeling the skin off a chicken leg and putting it aside. I didn't think of saying "You don't eat the skin? That's the best tasting part of it!".

Musical Baseball    (7/98)

A few years ago I went to see a "battle of the (automatic) bands". The promoters called it a "band organ rally". Featured were hurdy gurdy organs, merry go round organs, and calliopes. By automatic, I mean these instruments are self playing, except in somc instances a crank must be turned manually. They use player piano rolls, pinned cylinders similar to that found inside a music box, or computer memory chips to hold the musical program.

The event was held in North Tonawanda, New York, where between ca. 1905 and 1935 Wurlitzer and a few competitors manufactured many of these organs. As of 1997, all of these companies including Wurlitzer are defunct, although some of their buildings including the latter's landmark headquarters still stand decrepit.

The event was held at a baseball field. It so happened that a ball game was later scheduled to be on the same day and it was too late to call off the band organ rally. So the instruments were moved to the sidelines but played almost continuously during the game.

This was the first baseball game I watched in many years. I usually find baseball games to be slow and boring. But this time the game was something to look at while listening to the music -- video to go with the audio.

When you ride the merry go round, you expect music. I think sports events of all types should be accompanied by more music. Especially in baseball if the pitcher is injured or ejected (1998 Red Sox and Indians playoff game 2) and his replacement takes all the time he wants warming up on the mound.

A recent news article (mid-1998, I forget the source) described a minor league baseball team manager who had a large number of side shows and acts to accompany the games and get more people interested in attending. There were clowns, magic acts, and even fake sumo wrestlers.

(1999) Here is something I would like to see. The Boston Red Sox (my hometown team) should put on "Symphony Night at Fenway Park". The organist would be given a day off and an orchestra would entertain the fans and play "Take Me Out To The Ballgame" for the seventh inning stretch. If the scheduling was right we could have Keith Lockhart playing second base for the Atlanta Braves and Keith Lockhart conducting the Boston Pops, in the same place. I am told the latter Keith enjoys playing softball in spare time. So I wouldn't be surprised if out on the sandlot he pretends he is the former Keith.

Suggested opening for game: Keith (Pops) throws out first ball, then walks to second base to hand Keith (Braves) the baton to guest-conduct the National Anthem, but keeps the wireless mike to sing it.

News note, October 16, 1999, playoff game between Boston Red Sox and New York Yankees. Boston Symphony Orchestra, parent of the Boston Pops and conducted by Keith's then boss Seiji Ozawa, to perform the National Anthem. Unfortunately I missed that program due to VCR malfunction.

News note; December 2003. The Massachusetts Turnpike Authority, bowing to public pressure regarding cost overruns of the Boston Big Dig, cancels a performance of the Boston Pops before politically connected invited guests to be held in an underground highway tunnel as a part of a dedication ceremony for that tunnel.

(Boston Pops records, some of performances conducted by Keith Lockhart, are on sale at record stores across the U.S.A. The Pops' outdoor fourth of July concert and a Christmas program are featured every year on national television.)

      Baseball Card Art  (someone else's site, subject to availability)

Fruit Loops

You saw "fruit loops cereal, half price" advertised in the supermarket flyer. Can you be sure you will be able to get this at half price:

Brand name cereal

as opposed to this?

Generic cereal

I'm conducting a survey!

If you have any ideas on the origin of the phrase "How now brown cow" I would be interested in finding out! Please email to:


Some results will be published here at a later date.

Several years ago I knew some curmudgeon who would always say "How now brown cow" when you asked him a question beginning with "How ...".

Not Very Jiffy

Jiffy Lube is not very jiffy -- when you drive around back and see cars lined up two deep or even three deep waiting behind the garage doors. It's supposed to be a ten minute oil change, and you are there for almost an hour.

Worse yet, you get there and all the bays are filled and which door do you wait behind? (Remember that TV show where the M.C. asks you would you rather keep the prize you have or would you rather trade it in for what is behind door number one or door number two?) You could be stuck behind someone getting a transmission fluid change while two cars on each side of you are invited in and then move on.

Maybe you should stop in the driveway before it fans out into three lanes one going to each garage door. Get out and go inside and ask which door you should wait behind.

At the Honolulu airport there is this tram that takes you from the main terminal to the gates or back. They call it the Wiki Wiki bus. Wiki-wiki (rhymes with Waikiki) means "hurry" or "quick" in Hawaiian. Except that the bus comes only every fifteen minutes or so. You can walk to the gate faster than that. So the Wiki Wiki bus is not very wiki-wiki.

Denver, Pittsburgh, and Orlando, and a few other airports I haven't visited yet, have trams that look like subway trains. They run every three minutes or so, much more convenient. Walls with sliding doors keep people from walking onto or falling onto the tracks, and the waiting area looks like sn elevator lobby.

Red, Yellow, Blue as Primary Colors

When I was in grade school, the teachers said that just three crayons or paints, red, yellow, and blue, can be used to draw any picture. You get other colors by mixing, for example yellow and blue together make green. Then, when I grew up, people kept saying that the primary colors were red, green, and blue.

But red, yellow, and blue are alive and well in the adult world, as magenta (bluish red), yellow, and cyan (greenish blue). Almost everyone who is computer literate knows that ink jet printers use magenta, yellow, and cyan ink.

Almost all color photographic and printing processes -- newspapers, magazines, color film, etc. -- use magenta, yellow, and cyan. Almost red, yellow, and blue. To get real red, we mix magenta and yellow. To get real blue, we mix magenta and cyan. Mixing all three makes black. Color film has thin layers of these colors that work like stencils. For printing, a separate black ink is usually used when needed since mixing colors to make black gets the paper too wet and smeared, and also the separate black ink gives a better quality black. This printing process is referred to as CMYK rather than RYBB. Color for television uses the three colors red, green, and blue, and the acronym heard a lot is RGB.

Magenta, yellow, and cyan can be mixed to make more shades of color than real red, yellow, and blue. That is why printing processes use magenta, yellow, and cyan. Meanwhile a child will want to draw more objects in red and blue as opposed to magenta and cyan. Providing red and blue paint means the child can draw more pleasing objects with less mixing of colors.

A child does not have the patience, skill, or dexterity to mix colors precisely. Therefore s/he never runs into the limitations of red, yellow, and blue that are overcome by magenta, yellow, and cyan.

There are some color shades that can't be made even with magenta, yellow, and cyan or at least the inks and dyes available at reasonable cost. Scientific research continues to this day to improve the inks and dyes and increase the accuracy of color reproduction in print processes..

If you used opaque paints , you can get by with just three colors red, green, and blue provided that when "mixing" colors, you painted thin side by side alternating stripes that did not overlap or run into each other. Since you cannot make black with side by side stripes of these colors, the canvas has to be black, thus requiring paint with one coat hiding power. When you stand far enough away from the painting, the color stripes blend as follows: red and green make yellow, red and blue make light purple (magenta), and all three together make white. (For black, don't put anything at all on the black canvas.) Of course nobody paints this way because it is too difficult and time consuming to make all those thin stripes.

red/green stripes Stand back and this spot looks yellow.

When you watch TV or do color graphics and pictures on your PC, the screen shows it in RGB. Use a magnifying glass to see the tiny  red, green, and blue stripes or dots that do not overlap or run into each other. Meanwhile your ink jet printer does it in CMY or CMYK. The computer takes care of everything quickly and automatically so you don't have to worry about or even think about primary colors.

Experiments with Light

When working with light, or glowing dots on the face of a TV screen, the primary colors are red, green, and blue (RGB). Here is a good demonstration. Take three flashlights, cover one with red cellophane, one with yellow cellophane, and the third with blue cellophane. Shine them on a white surface and try different overlapping patterns. Note that you cannot make green.

Next use colored cellophanes in red, green, and blue. You will be able to make yellow by overlapping the red and green beams.

So at least we proved that red, yellow, and blue are not good enough as primary colors when dealing with light.

Technical Terms:

Red, green, and blue are called the additive primaries because to the human eye, adding together these colors by shining overlapping light beams of just these colors on white paper can create almost any color.

Magenta, yellow, and cyan are called the subtractive primaries. Each of these colors as dye on white paper absorbs (subtracts) some of the components of white light shining on the paper. Mixed together, they absorb more of the components of white light. What color is left to be seen can be almost any color as desired. For example a mixture of yellow and cyan ink on white paper absorb blue and red light so only green light reflects off that spot on the paper.

Fires Shut Down Highways, deja vu


News Flash, Early November 2003

Forest fires, fanned by the fierce perennial Santa Ana winds, sweep through neighborhoods destroying over 2000 homes. Smoke is so thick that nearby interstate highways are jammed and some highways are shut down at times. Over 500,000 acres, a total area larger than the area of Rhode Island, are charred.

News Flash, November 14, 2003

A fire that started in an empty mill building in Pawtucket, Rhode Island is fanned by fierce winds. Nearby neighborhoods are evacuated. A dozen homes are lost, one a half a mile away was ignited by flying embers. Smoke can be seen for miles and snarls traffic on the nearby interstate. Rhode Island was also the location of a nightclub fire that killed dozens of people which was started when a rock band used pyrotechnics on stage.

All parts (c) Copyright 1997-2003, Allan W. Jayne, Jr. unless otherwise stated or other origin obvious or noted.

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