Thursday Thoughts: Here we go again!

File:Paralympic Agitos Flag (7844521694).jpg - Wikimedia Commons

On Tuesday, the opening ceremonies for the Paralympics took place. Like the other ceremonies, I flicked back and forth until eventually I saw my countries athletes enter. One of the highlights of the Olympic games for me was always how the torch was going to be lit. The most memorable ones were, Mohamed Ali in Atlanta, the ski jumper (Lillehammer?), and there was an archer who shot a flaming arrow (don’t remember where that was). I don’t tend to watch the ceremonies in their entirety.

There is not much live coverage of the Paralympics. With the Olympics, there was at least 5-7 stations covering events, so you could always find a sport you were interested in. Now, there are just a few hours of highlights with the occasional live event.

Broadcasting sports is all about money. There is a reason that the ACL, The American Cornhole League (I’m not joking, it’s a “sport”), is on ESPN 8—not ESPN 2, or 3, or 4…

There is big money in the Olympics. Not as much for the Paralympics. Why? Because less people watch it. Which is too bad because athletes are athletes no matter what the sport (except maybe Cornhole) and no matter what the ability.

I admit, I’m guilty of watching the Paralympics less that the Olympics—if the coverage was better, I’d watch more—but for the most part it is because there are less sports I am interested in. I do enjoy the track and field events, although more track than field. Triathelon is always fun to watch along with swimming and rowing.

It is always interesting to see how athletes adapt to their abilities and how the sports—and equipment—are modified to allow for the greatest inclusion and participation.  Some of the sports, in my opinion, are harder than some of the Olympic ones. The seated volleyball comes to mind.

Each year, the Paralympics gets a little bigger and receives more exposure. Hear that corporate sponsors?

—Leon

Leon Stevens is a blogger, composer, artist, and an author of three books (so far): Lines by Leon: Poems, Prose, and PicturesJourneys: Eight Original Pieces for Classical Guitar and The Knot at the End of the Rope and Other Short Stories.
www.linesbyleon.com

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Tuesday Tidbits: Collecting (dust)

I’ve never read the Marie Condo book, Sparking Joy, but I’ve seen countless spoofs and mockeries of it on talk and comedy shows, but no matter who you are, we all collect things, and sometimes it’s hard to let them go.

As children we may find attachment in all sorts of things like rocks, bugs, leaves, or coins. I remember collecting bottlecaps, hockey/baseball cards, and stamps. Some collectors who started young and got in on the first wave of certain crazes and held onto the items—mint-in-box of course—had to opportunity to cash out many years later.

I put some of my hockey cards in my bike spokes because they made a cool sound. Maybe the Gretzky rookie card was one of them. I played with all my Star Wars toys until the paint wore off. My complete set of the ‘77 Philidelphia Flyers? Tossed after I moved away from home. Thanks, Mom.

There are somethings worth keeping but many things we hold onto—just in case. For example:

  • How long do I keep that bag of twist ties?
  • Expired vitamins: Yea/Nay?
  • Old clothing: you say you need old rags and stuff to wear when painting, but when was the last time you did?
  • Magazines: You haven’t made that recipe you wanted to.
  • Nuts, bolts, and extra pieces: OK. Occasionally you will need that one bolt, but the extra pieces of the shelf that’s at the landfill?
  • If you collect nuts and bolts, then you probably collect wood. Wood? Yeah.  Unused ends of2 x 4s (actually 1½ x 3½s) and plywood—just in case. Good for small projects and eventually burning in the firepit.
  • Books. Yes, books. Sometimes you just have to thro—just kidding, I always donate them, add them to a neighborhood lending library, or pass them to others.
  • Broken tools: Yeah, you’re not going to fix them.
  • Empty containers. No Tupperware? Sour cream and yogurt containers will suffice.
  • That piece of paper with the phone number of email address?
  • Batteries. I don’t know if they have a charge or not.

Every time I clean, I get rid of something, either in the trash or donate. Although, it never fails that a week after I toss something, I’ll need it.

I send an info letter to my subscribers who haven’t opened any of my newsletters for at least 10 weeks. Today that letter goes out to 17 inactive subscribers. Last time it went to 6 and one opted to stay.

Sometimes a purge is just what is needed in life.

-Leon

Leon Stevens is a blogger, composer, artist, and an author of three books (so far): Lines by Leon: Poems, Prose, and PicturesJourneys: Eight Original Pieces for Classical Guitar and The Knot at the End of the Rope and Other Short Stories.
www.linesbyleon.com

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Thursday Thoughts: Food for Thought

People have asked me, “Leon, where do you get your ideas for Thursday Thoughts?” Not really. That’s a lie. The most common question I get is “Leon, what do you like to eat for a snack?” Seriously, really. No that’s a lie too.

But now you are wondering, “Leon, what do you like to eat for a snack?”

I have a weakness for chips (crisps for the Brits). My favorite flavour (flavor for the Americans) is ripple. Now, before you start jumping up, waving your arms, and screaming, “Ripple is not a flavor! Ripple is not a flavor!” hold your horses. I know it isn’t, but it’s funny to say*, and I know that next time you are with a bunch of friends (freinds for the people who can never figure out the “i” before “e” rule), you are going to take the opportunity to say, “Pass the ripple flavor, please.” and get that round of laughter we all want from time to time.

My second favorite is Sour Cream and Onion. All the salty flavor and none of the dipping hassle (I do like chips and dip though). But, more often than not, I’ll go for a bowl of cereal.

Cereal?” you ask.

“Yes. Cereal,” he answers aloofly.

Aloofly?” you ask in a puzzled fashion.

“Well, maybe not aloofly, but I don’t think that I have used that word in any of my writings, so I seized the opportunity,” he replies smugly.

“Smu—” No. we are not going to do this anymore. Moving on.

Favorite cereal? Let’s digress, shall we? Remember those 4-packs of little cereal boxes that mom used to buy on special occasions? I’m pretty sure you can still get them because I’ve seen the little boxes at hotel breakfast buffets when the hotel hasn’t sprung for the convenience of the large silo dispensers. You’ve seen them. They are strategically placed above the cereal crumbs and bits on the floor.

What do we remember about that 4-pack? Anyone? Anyone?**

That’s right. It comes with three delicious sugar coated varieties and the one that kids won’t touch until they are older. Much older. I know that “All Bran” was one, and they would also include “Corn Flakes” which kinda look like “Frosted Flakes”*** and with enough sugar will suffice if that is all that remains. No amount of sugar will magically transform “All Bran” to “Frosted All Bran”. (Note: I like “All Bran” now. Not all the time, but it’s a keeper)

So, when I am grocery shopping, I’ll always pick up a box if the price isn’t stupid (have you noticed that cereal prices have got up a lot?) or a few boxes (sometimes four) if they are on sale. I’m not that picky if the price is right. I do tend to avoid the overly sweet varieties, though. I’m happy with good ol’ Cheerios or Corn Flakes.

I did, on a whim, buy a box of Captain Crunch recently. I thought that by this time he should be an admiral, but there he was, still a captain. After solving the maze (and the word jumble) on the back of the box—in record time I might add—I proceeded to have myself a bowl.

Did they change the recipe? Oh, it was still sweet, but the famous “crunch” that used to last through the thorough soaking of milk seemed…well, less brutal-to-the-roof-of-your-mouth than I remembered. I’m not complaining. It was delightfully crunchy, just different. The leftover milk tasted the same, though.

Cereal is often my desert when I need that little extra filler.

Do you have any cereal stories?

-Leon

*Just like calling sandwiches “sammiches”. We all know someone who does.

**Name that movie reference..

*** If I am using quotes improperly to denote name brands, let me know.

Leon Stevens is a blogger, composer, artist, and an author of three books (so far): Lines by Leon: Poems, Prose, and PicturesJourneys: Eight Original Pieces for Classical Guitar and The Knot at the End of the Rope and Other Short Stories.
www.linesbyleon.com

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The Olympics: An unofficial history.

I like to figure things out on my own. I’ll do some trial and error and try to logically deduce problems or questions before resorting to looking things up. It may take longer to solve, but I think you learn more or at least a funny anecdote. So, here is my “knowledge” of how the games began.

Why are sports in the Olympics in the Olympics? Not counting the plethora of new ones added over the course of the history of the Olympics (Skateboarding was first introduced in 300 BC, but the togas kept getting stuck in the wheels), but the original sports.

The Olympics started as a way to show off athletic prowess. Women were not allowed (for way too long) because the men didn’t think they were capable and were worried that the women would prove them wrong (they did).

Many of the skills were handy to have in day-to-day life, and because men have an annoying habit of always showing off, it was inevitable that it would turn into a competition.

  • Sprinting: When hunting, if charged by a wild animal, the fastest runner had a really good story to tell when they got back to camp.
  • Hurdles: Same deal, but when there is shrubbery in the way.
  • Steeplechase: When your dog gets off leash and chases after the rabbit.
  • High Jump: Sometimes you lock yourself out of the walled city.
  • Long Jump: Before the advent of bridges.
  • Triple Jump: There’s always one person who has to one-up everyone else. “Ya, so you jumped over the creek, but can you do this?”
  • Pole Vault: When castles had moats, and you just had to get in.
  • Shotput: The siege of walled cities took a long time. Finally, someone said, “You know, this is not working out like we planned, and my arm is getting tired.”
  • Discus: This was an earlier version of Ultimate, but there is always someone chucking it way too hard.
  • Javelin: There is some contention about the original purpose of this.  Some think it started on the battlefield, but it’s just a game of fetch.
  • Swimming: Not introduced in the first years of games because the Greeks were scared of sharks and stepping on sea urchins.

I think there are a few more, but I need time to think about it…

-Leon

Leon Stevens is a blogger, composer, artist, and an author of three books (so far): Lines by Leon: Poems, Prose, and PicturesJourneys: Eight Original Pieces for Classical Guitar and The Knot at the End of the Rope and Other Short Stories.
www.linesbyleon.com

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Weird Wednesday: June 30

Languages are weird. I’m not a linguistics expert, I’m not even an expert in the English language.

 Every so often, I come across a word that makes me think: Why is it like that? For example: CON – tent vs. con-TENT – Same word, two different meanings. Talk about lazy.

Here are some other thoughts:

  • Why do we have double consonants? Double vowels I get—kinda
  • About vowels, Yes, there are long and short, so why didn’t we just put the dash or curve above to denote the quality?
  • Silent letters. What are they hiding? A nif?
  • Homophones like hair/hare, deer/dear, heir/air, bear/bare…Vocabulary increases over time. I’m sure our English-speaking ancestors had more than enough words to go around.
  • Why not spell phonically? Iz that so tuf?
  • How did “io” come to represent “sh”?

Cartoons

.

The Miniscules

That’s all the weirdness for today.

-Leon

Leon Stevens is a blogger, composer, artist, and an author of three books (so far): Lines by Leon: Poems, Prose, and PicturesJourneys: Eight Original Pieces for Classical Guitar and The Knot at the End of the Rope and Other Short Stories.
www.linesbyleon.com

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Weird Wednesday: June 23 – The Mask

Things are returning to “normal” in some parts of the world as some countries drop health restrictions as they re-open. It is interesting to see crowds of people attending events like concerts, sports, or just eating out.

What I find odd is that seeing a masked person in a crowd now is equivalent to seeing a maskless person before. You still get the impression that the people around are thinking “What’s wrong with you?” for different reasons.

I think in many countries, the vaccination rate is ~70% first dose / 40% second dose. I still think that with those numbers, having 20000 people in close quarters is a bit premature.

To enjoy the summer we missed last year, we should still respect physical distancing with strangers while we slowly expand our social bubble as friends/family get vaccinated.

This is no over yet. It’s getting there, though.

Cartoons

Yesterday, I wrote about a few of the comics that I enjoy. Here I enjoy sharing my sense (or lack of) humor.

The Miniscules

That’s all the weirdness for today.

-Leon

Leon Stevens is a blogger, composer, artist, and an author of three books (so far): Lines by Leon: Poems, Prose, and PicturesJourneys: Eight Original Pieces for Classical Guitar and The Knot at the End of the Rope and Other Short Stories.
www.linesbyleon.com

Purchase paperback directly for the author!

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Monday Musings – Golf. Not as boring as Baseball?

Did you watch the US Open yesterday? Golf is an odd sport to watch. For the most part, it’s the same thing with different players, as the coverage switches from group to group until near the end of the tournament, there are less and less players on the course, so there are more and more commercials.

In other sports, when the opposing team comes onto the field/pitch/ice, the home crowd will boo and jeer their disdain for the players. In golf, it seems that everyone roots for whoever makes a good shot, lets out a disappointing “ohhh” when the ball ends up in a bunker/water hazard/ penalty area, and cheers in delight for the winner.

There are sports teams and players that people love to hate, but it is rare that a fan will publicly razz a golfer during a tournament. I suppose that the politeness and etiquette of the game contribute to the spectator’s behavior.

That being said, there are places where the crowd is more raucous. The mobbing of Phil Mickelson on 18 at the PGA Championship earlier this year is a good example. The stadium hole at the WM Pheonix Open (I believe it is the par 3 16th), where 20 000 fans will boo if the player fails to hit the green, is entertaining—and obviously sells more beer. What does WM stand for? Waste Management. Ha! During this Sunday’s round, a fan ran onto the 13th fairway and proceeded to hit a few balls. The empty case of beer beside the cart path probably explains that.

The first person to yell “IN THE HOLE!” after a tee shot started an annoying trend that isn’t funny anymore—especially on a par 5. If you mistime it, it really makes the player angry. The first time I heard someone yell “Dy-No-Mite!” when the golfer (not the comedian) Jimmy Walker teed off, I had to laugh, but thankfully that never caught on.

I assume that the PGA, like all sports, is trying to attract younger fans. But if you think that it does sometimes look like a scene from Happy Gilmore, you wouldn’t be far off (It is a pretty funny movie unless you don’t like Adam Sandler, but if you only have to watch one of his movies, this one is a good choice—or The Wedding Singer). Tin Cup is another golf movie that shows the less reserved side of the game.

While they may not be as entertaining from a sociological standpoint, there are tournaments that are more reserved than others. So, a few more weeks until The Open Championship and a return to a bit more civility.  

-Leon

Leon Stevens is a blogger, composer, artist, and an author of three books (so far): Lines by Leon: Poems, Prose, and PicturesJourneys: Eight Original Pieces for Classical Guitar and The Knot at the End of the Rope and Other Short Stories.
www.linesbyleon.com

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Weird Wednesday: June 16 – Change in the Pocket

Do you think it’s cool when your purchase total comes to…let’s say $14.00, or $34.00, or if you just bought two packs of gum and a soda and it’s $3.00?

On the flip side, are you incensed when you are filling up the tank and you squeeze just too long that last time and you see the total: $40.01?

Does it really matter anymore with more people abandoning physical money? Even before the pandemic, the use of physical cash was on the decline. I used to put all my change in a jar, and at the end of the year, I would roll it up and take it to the bank. It was my way of forced saving, and it did add up.

Then those change counting machines sprung up, and all you had to do was dump it all in like a reverse slot machine. Some of those counters were removed because of claims of undercounting. Now, I rarely have change. When was the last time I needed change? Parking? Most meters accept electronic payments. Car wash? Same deal. The subway or transit? A payphone—

Wait! What? When was the last time you used a payphone? I know that for some, payphones are still needed, but they are becoming a rarity.

Poem and sketch by Leon Stevens

And finally,  that late-night purchase of that gadget for $49.99 has to be a good deal, right? Who would pay $50 for that! The same goes for that house listed at $149 999 (although, if it was a gas pump, you might be inclined to give one…more…little…squeeze…$150 000.01 (darn it!)

“The Day Before” returns.

The Miniscules

That’s all the weirdness for today.

-Leon

Leon Stevens is a blogger, composer, artist, and an author of three books (so far): Lines by Leon: Poems, Prose, and PicturesJourneys: Eight Original Pieces for Classical Guitar and The Knot at the End of the Rope and Other Short Stories.
www.linesbyleon.com

Purchase paperback directly for the author!

15% off all my mugs in my Zazzle store until 6/19!

Newest design! “Peloton”

Weird Wednesday: June 9 – Cartoons and Aliens

Do you believe in UFOs? Well you should because they are real.
“C’mon…really?” you ask.
Well, there are things that people see in the sky that are not able to be identified, so, yes.
“I thought you meant, like… aliens.”
Did I say aliens?
No,” you say poutingly.
What about UAPs?
“You’re not getting me with that one.”

What are UAPs? Unidentified Aerial Phenomenon.
“That’s just the same thing with a different name.”
You’re right. That’s government for ya.

OK. I admit that I watch “Ancient Aliens”. Pyramids, Megaliths, Monoliths, Nazca lines, and all that stuff. When, as a kid, I first saw the face on mars, I thought” Holy s%*#” – well, I probably didn’t swear, maybe I said “Holy guacamole”. Now I know it’s just a big hill, but it was fascinating at the time.

It is pretty amazing how some 5000 year old structures are so perfectly crafted, with tight seams, 90 degree angles, and smooth sides, but is that evidence or just dedication to detail?

Recently, the US government released a statement saying that the Armed Forces have been witness to many UAPs and have declassified several videos shot from fighter jets and aircraft carriers.

Is that proof? Not unless you think poor resolution, grainy, grey-scale video is proof. Why can we never get a good picture? Doesn’t the government have access to high-tech? I thought we were done with fuzzy pictures with so many hi-def cameras and smartphones around.

Is there other life out there? I don’t know. Maybe. Probably. If there is, they’re just naturally blurry.


I hope you enjoyed “The Day Before”. Guess what’s next?

The Miniscules

That’s all the weirdness for today.

-Leon

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Newest design! “Peloton”

Leon Stevens is a blogger, composer, artist, and an author of three books (so far): Lines by Leon: Poems, Prose, and PicturesJourneys: Eight Original Pieces for Classical Guitar and The Knot at the End of the Rope and Other Short Stories.
www.linesbyleon.com

Purchase paperback directly for the author!

Weird Wednesday: June 2 – The Survey returns and Cartoons

Every few months (or every 50 newsletter subscribers), I open up the Lines by Leon Survey, my way of learning about where my readers have arrived from and their reading habits, so that I can gauge the effectiveness of my web presence. If there were reviews of the survey, I suspect they would go something like this:

“The Lines by Leon Survey – it was over faster than one of his short stories!”
– Professor Scrapbooker, The People’s Collage
“I clicked on the link and it took me directly there. Wow! The future is here.”

– Undisclosed Hollywood B-lister
“I didn’t have time…”

– Rolly Casio-Seiko
“I made up a whole bunch of stuff to skew the results. Mwah ha ha!”

– A. Troublemaker 
“Brilliant. It was so much fun I did it twice.” [You can’t do that] “Oh. Just once then.”
– Over-zealous subscriber
“I laughed. I cried. Mostly cried (because I had just watched a sad movie).” 

– Giveme A. Minutte

Intrigued? Take the Survey! Lines by Leon Survey

(Have you taken it before? There are a few new questions, if you wish to answer only those.) 

Back yet? Great! On to the Cartoons:

The Miniscules

That’s all the weirdness for today.

-Leon

30% off all my mugs in my Zazzle store until 6/3!

Newest design! “Peloton”

Leon Stevens is a blogger, composer, artist, and an author of three books (so far): Lines by Leon: Poems, Prose, and PicturesJourneys: Eight Original Pieces for Classical Guitar and The Knot at the End of the Rope and Other Short Stories.
www.linesbyleon.com

Purchase paperback directly for the author!