Archive for the ‘General Musings’ Category

Swarming Mosquitoes!

August 20, 2019

Now that we near the end of August, and the dog days of summer are nearly over, here is a poem by Mei Yu’ Ch’en (in the public domain) about the pesky mosquitoes that generally accompany these days.

Swarming Mosquitoes

The sun has set, the moon is in darkness;
now the mosquitoes fly forth from cracked walls.
They swarm in the void with a thunderous hum,
dance in the courtyard like a veil of mist.
The spider’s web is uselessly spread;
the mantis can’t slash them with his ax.
The vicious scorpion helps them in their mischief
and freely stings with his belly’s poison;
because he has no wings to use,
he patters and scratches up the darkened wall.
Noblemen reside in lordly mansions,
silken nets encircling their beds.
Would that in such homes as these
the mosquitoes flaunted their lance-like beaks!
Instead they frequent the poor and humble
with no compassion for their gauntness.
Suckers sharp, they race to the attach;
drinking blood, they seek self-increase.
The bat flits back and forth in vain;
he cannot kill or capture them.
The chirping cicada, sated with wind and dew,
Shamelessly goes on sipping more.
— This hum and buzz can’t last much longer:
The east will soon be bright.
by Mei Yu Ch’en

Source: Animal Poems, selected and edited by John Hollander, p. 130.

A New School Year!

August 18, 2019

As our fall semester begins this week, allow me to offer a “Welcome to NSU” to all of our new students and a “Welcome Back” to all of our returning students.  And, allow me to also play “devil’s advocate” for a bit by sharing this wonderful infographic (courtesy of that asks the question . . .  “can you be successful without a college degree?”

Successful Without a College Degree
Source: Online College Plan

Fun Fact Friday, Number 140!

August 16, 2019

Today’s real facts (courtesy of are all about height.  Did you know that . . .

  • the tallest man was 8 feet, 11 inches tall?  (Real Fact #148)
  • the height of the Eiffel Tower varies by as much as six inches depending on the temperature?  (Real Fact #286)
  • astronauts actually get taller when in space?  (Real Fact #460)
  • at 5 feet, the whopping crane is the tallest bird in North America? (Real Fact #676)
  • Abraham Lincoln was the tallest U.S. President at 6 feet, 4 inches; and that James Madison was the shortest at 5 feet, 4 inches?  (Real Fact #866)
  • Napoleon Bonaparte was not actually short?  At 5 feet, 7 inches, he was average height for his time.  (Real Fact #944)
  • Human are 1-2 centimeters taller in the morning than at night? (Real Fact #1231)
  • the shortest professional baseball player was 3 feet, 7 inches tall?  (Real Fact #1418)


From Feudal Days!

August 14, 2019

We are all “slaves” to someone.  Whether it be in the workplace structure with bosses and supervisors, or in life with bills, home mortgages, car payments, etc., none of us are truly “free.”  We are all vassals to one degree or another.


\ vasuh l \, noun;

  1. (in the feudal system) person granted the use of land, in return for rendering   homage, fealty, and usually military service or its equivalent to a lord or   other superior; feudal tenant.
  2. person holding some similar relation to a superior;   subject,   subordinate,   follower, or retainer.
  3. servant or slave.



  1. of, relating to, or characteristic of a vassal.
  2. having the status or position of a vassal.

Other words you may consider using (depending on your context/usage, of course):

Source: The Highly Selective Thesaurus for the Extraordinarily Literate by Eugene Ehrlich. Definitions courtesy of


August 13, 2019

imagination_largeThis demotivator (courtesy of www-dot-despair-dot-com) provides us with a serious “gut-check.”  And it further begs the question: why is this the case?

IMAGINATION: my reality isn’t getting any better, but my fantasies are improving all the time?

Life sometimes force us into merely existing when we should be chasing our dreams?  Or are we dreaming life away without seriously considering our current reality?  Life is rarely the fairy tale we imagine, but that doesn’t mean we should stop imagining.


Swing Low Sweet Chariot!

August 12, 2019

Several years ago Nashville Public Television produced a program entitled “Civil War Songs and Stories.”  Last month I posted the first of these, “The Battle Hymn of the Republic.”  This month, I’ll continue with “Swing Low Sweet Chariot” performed by The Fisk Jubilee Singers.  Enjoy!


Death by Sales Tax!

August 11, 2019

So, just how high are the sales taxes (combined state and local tax rates) in your state?   The July/August issue of the AARP Bulletin crunched the numbers for us and here are the  states with the ten highest sales tax followed by the ten states with the lowest sales tax.

Highest Sales Tax
1. Louisiana (9.5%)
2. Tennessee (9.4%)
2. Arkansas (9.4%)
4. Washington (9.2%)
5. Alabama (9.1%)
6. Oklahoma (8.9%)
7. Illinois (8.7%)
8. California (8.6%)
9. Kansas (8.5%)
9. New York (8.5%)

Lowest Sales Tax)
1. Oregon (0.0%)
1. Montana (0.0%)
1. New Hampshire (0.0%)
1. Delaware (0.0%)
5. Hawaii (1.4%)
6. Alaska (4.4%)
7. Wisconsin (5.4%)
7. Wyoming (5.4%)
9. Maine (5.5%)
10. Virginia (5.7%)

Source: AARP Bulletin, July/August 2019, p. 48; and, Tax Foundation.

A Trip to the Zoo!

August 10, 2019

Happy Saturday!  Saturdays are perfect days for a trip to the zoo.  And, while I do not plan to go today, here is a limerick about a trip to the zoo.

There was a young fellow called Hugh,
Who went to a neighboring zoo.
The lion opened wide
And said “Come inside
And bring all the family too.”
Max Fatcheni

Source: Lots of Limericks selected by Myra Cohn Livingston

Fun Fact Friday, Number 139!

August 9, 2019

The category for today’s trivial imponderable is “time.”  Do you know . . . If it is noon on a Tuesday at the South Pole, what time is it at the North Pole?

Yet another trick question.  This is an unanswerable question since there are no universally accepted criteria for time on the North Pole.  People may choose whichever time is convenient.  However, time at the South Pole has been coordinated with New Zealand.

Source: Sorry, Wrong Answer: Trivia Questions That Even Know-It-Alls Get Wrong, by Dr. Rod L. Evans.

Amazing Adjectives, Number Fifty-Five!

August 7, 2019

Here is a word from the French voyeur, meaning “peeping Tom,” with no hint of pleasantry suggested.  Rather, the implication is that of obtaining sexual gratification by stealing looks at sexually appealing objects or acts.

Note: there is a mistaken tendency to pronounce voyeuristic and related words as though the opening syllable sounded like the voy in voyage.  This is NOT correct.

As exemplified in The Highly Selective Dictionary of Golden Adjectives for the Extraordinarily Literate.

“An excellent way of discouraging voyeuristic neighbors is to pull down your shades.”


\ vwah-yuhris-tik, voi-uh– \, adjective;

  1. of, relating to, or characteristic of a voyeur (aka “peeping Tom”) or of voyeurism.

Source: The Highly Selective Dictionary of Golden Adjectives for the Extraordinarily Literate by Eugene Ehrlich and