Eerie shadows and light

I thought I’d take a break from peering into the eerie creepy shadows of current politics to offer some recent shadow and light images from my own humble abode. Except for a bit of contrast control and minor cropping, these are straight out of the camera. (You can click on the images to get an enlarged view.)

Some of these are imbued with inherent mystery…

1) …such as this unusual configuration shining through an upper window, illumined by moonlight only, no camera tricks.

2) …and this bizarre light show that simply appeared one night

3) This Mickey Mouse cactus on my back patio is lit only by a porch light.

4) Can you guess this one. Hint: looking downward.

5) This small pink ball appeared on my front walkway one morning. No note. Only those odd shadows know.

6) Not much mystery here, other than the fact that the hummer was up pretty dang late for dinner.

7) Full moon across the street, along The Arizona Canal.

8) I’m a fan of this serendipitous image from my kitchen table

9) OK, this Cowboy Hydrant just outside the humble abode is admittedly not a shadow figure, per se but it seems to gain some credibility from the play of early morning light.


  1. Shadows of miniature cacti and empty vase and a small Don Quixote figure are refracted through an upper window onto my upper living room wall by the loft staircase. This is straight out of the camera with just a bit of contrast control.

  2. Turns out, the weird other-worldly display comes from from small, shiny, colored peace symbols that I had casually tossed onto the cabinet.

  3. Paddle cactus

  4.  This is a downward look into a glass jar containing sugar water and a two drops of red dye for the hummingbird feeder

  5.  This fun, colorful ball was deposited by a neighbor in thanks for a small favor I had done. When you bounce the ball, it lights up.

  6.  Not clear where the orange-ish light on the hummingbird fluid is coming from, possibly just a porch light

  7.  The Arizona Canal crosses Central Ave by my house. The 50-mile canal actually starts out in northeast Mesa, flows across the Salt River Pima-Maricopa Indian Community, jaunts through upscale downtown Scottsdale and continues northwesterly through Phoenix, Glendale, Peoria before ending at New River, near Arrowhead Towne Center. (What…they couldn’t spell it “Centre”?)

  8.  I had just bought a small oscillating fan and discovered that I had to assemble it. The fan blade was enclosed in this cool, resealable plastic bag which apparently is irresistible to children.

  9. Cowboy Hydrant. Not sure where the hat came from…presumably a workman in the parking area.

The Joy of Repairing Stuff

The Joy of Maintenance Repairing Stuff.

I had the opportunity recently to have several home repair issues taken care of—which got me thinking about an Oct. 2016 Freaknomics episode called In Praise of Maintenance.” In the podcast, Harvard economist Ed Glaeser traces municipal maintenance back to 6th-century BCE Etruscan and subsequent Roman Republic projects in the time of Cato the Elder (2nd-century BCE).

But while maintenance of stuff is certainly important, I find I get a lot more inherent pleasure out of getting stuff fixed.

I’ll stick to the last two months

  • Guest bath: completely new faucets and hoses to fix longstanding dripping problem
  • Guest bath: varnished under-sink wooden cabinet base to keep it from flaking (after years of dripping from the sink)
  • Front door weatherstripping replaced
  • Front door latch bolt replaced (caused by weatherstripping replacement)
  • Front storm door pneumatic closing mechanism adjusted (that’s the gizmo at the top that prevents it from slamming closed and allows you to lock the door into an open position

  • Main bath shower: drain strainer fixture replaced (after previously botched job)
  • Main bath toilet: loose seat adjusted (subsequently loosened again)
  • Roof: installed drain pipe from rooftop AC unit (to keep water from dripping down the roof tiles)
  • Laundry room: replaced ballast on fluorescent light fixture
  • Kitchen: fixed broken track light, installed dimmer switch and new bulbs for track lights (I actually cracked the track light fixture trying to install a bulb while balancing on the tippytop of a ladder, thus necessitating the repair and renovation cycle)*

  • Loft fan: bought new fan to replace decrepit unit
  • Refrigerator: super-glued door shelf back into place (this vintage fridge really needs to be replaced—it’s already lost the ability to serve water and ice and some of the light bulb fixtures are defunct)
  • Patio: scrubbed out long-standing bird- and tree-dropping stains from concrete area.
  • Fireplace: vacuumed and scrubbed out (this is probably more like yearly maintenance but it still feels good to get it done with).

Note that none of these are regular maintenance projects like changing your car oil or house AC filter, filling your bike tires or watering your plants.

(I admit that I’m pretty proud that this orchid has started blooming again after two years of, um, benign neglect)

Oddly, I think I derived greater pleasure from these simple maintenance projects than from buying new things for the house. It’s like removing one little nuisance after another.

Now, can the same thing be done for our government? Repair (not replace) our healthcare system, our tax codes that seem to mainly benefit billionaire real estate magnates, our treatment of people who can’t defend themselves? Repair the 2nd Amendment that makes it ridiculously easy to get access to guns? Repair the gerrymandered voting districts? Repair our educational system (hint: it’s not going to be by vouchers).

Needless to say, I had professional handymen doing the work above, though I did buy a stepladder that allows me to get up on the roof to see what the neighbors and their infernal barking dogs are up to.

But who will be the handyperson to repair our democracy?


Yes, those are airplane models and ridiculously outsized wine bottles up there. Fixing the track lighting gave me a good opportunity to do my yearly dusting of the high ledge.

The real reason Trump won’t release his tax returns

Here, for your amusement, is a unique defense of the so-called president’s refusal to release his tax returns, from the perspective of a certain gun advocate who calls himself “The Uninvited Ombudsman”*:

The Uninvited Ombudsman notes however that:
The Uninvited Ombudsman notes however that:*

As the president has repeatedly said, his returns are under audit, so the papers are only a draft. They are unofficial, subject to change, and can be accepted, rejected or rewritten at the pleasure of IRS. [italics in orginal]

Apparently this was brought on by the gun author getting tired of pesky citizens unabatedly continuing to ask for these documents.

So the real reason for the Bankrupter-in-Chief not releasing his returns is that they were “drafts”! (Like when I submit a piece of writing to a client and await their comments for revisions or approval. “Oh, you didn’t like that wording? OK, let me tweak it a bit till you find it acceptable.”)

Of course the SC-POTUS itself has continued to assert that since his returns are under audit, he’s “not allowed” to release them—despite clear and definitive statements by the IRS and others knowledgeable of tax laws that there’s no such restriction.**

The author goes on to assert that:

Reporters had stopped asking about Trump’s taxes, now that they have other gripes to repeat ad nausem, which will frustrate them equally, for similar reason. [itals, quote marks, Latin spelling error in original]

Of course, neither the millions of petition-signing citizens nor the news community have ever stopped asking, but our author continues his rant:

That ended when “news” outfits nationwide gave exorbitant coverage to staged rallies by left-wing malcontents demanding presidential action on his tax returns — where none is required. [quote marks in original]

Yes, we know that there’s no legal requirement to release the returns. The arguments for releasing the returns are those of transparency, a legitimate interest on the public’s part to see whether the SC-POTUS and his associates might have significant financial dealings with various governments, politicians and corporate interests that could affect his ability to serve solely in the public interest.

And we can’t help but wonder what the difference is between a “staged rally” and other kinds? Aren’t rallies, by definition, staged? At least the pep rallies in my high school were.


*Yes, the author refers to himself as “the uninvited ombudsman” and likes to double-up the line before each of his responses to various issues.
“In a statement Friday, the IRS said that federal privacy rules prohibit the agency from discussing individual tax matters, but ‘nothing prevents individuals from sharing their own tax information.’” (IRS: Trump can release tax returns, regardless of audit.” USA Today, Feb. 26. 2016)
Cartoon from The New Yorker

Easter yoks, er, yolks

 

 

 

 

 

 

This one is from the inter-faith comic strip series, “Jesus & M0”

 

and my current favorite…Vermeer’s mystery muse.

 

Oh, all right, one final one, for you so-called golf fans:


FYI – in case you’re one of the folks who got the original version of this and are wondering why there’s a duplicate with a different headline: When I posted this on Facebook, the stupid system featured the wrong image. There’s currently no easy way to select the image you want to feature on the FB page (it apparently requires deep coding work), so I just made the original one private and re-did it without the wrong image…and then added it back in after it was posted. (I think)

Food Fraud

I’m still on my food labeling kick because I came across this rather egregious example of food fraud in my local Safeway the other day. I wrote about grocery store trickery a couple years ago in “Grocery Store Blues” but now I just want to call shenanigans on this particular item.

Now, if you’re some sort of food snob who won’t buy any kind of frozen entree, you can just stop reading. (I’ll give you a moment to think about it….)

Ok, we’re back.

When you look at the photo it appears that this is going to be primarily a tasty chicken entree, further indicated by the prominence of the name “Orange Chicken.” It would seem to be “served with” rice. But when you open the package you find that it’s about 80% rice and 20% chicken.

Granted, the rice is pretty savory and the chicken ain’t bad. But this is really nothing less than the old bait ‘n switch. Like going to a happy hour and seeing that they’re offering $5 wine…and finding that you’re actually getting a half-glass of a $10 wine.

I would’ve taken a shot of the actual entree but it was either that or gnaw on my own fingers for dinner.

Funny funky food…packaging

I’m a sucker for lively product packaging, especially when quirky humor is displayed.

For example, here’s a bottle of A-1 sauce that I was somewhat mindlessly glancing at one day…

when I turned it over and saw this delightfully playful way of advising us on a fine point of product use.Don’t hate me, but I often buy Donald Duck Orange Juice…simply because it’s usually the cheapest on the shelf and seems to have the same ingredients as all the other brands.

Now, I haven’t been a regular reader of the backs of packages since I was in grade school but for some reason I took a moment to check out the cartoon on the side panel fully expecting it to be typical lame-o Disney half-chuckler.

Instead I found this razor-sharp character study that sorta makes you take a beat to get the punch line: It’s so totally Donald (Duck).

Ok, so you don’t care for instant coffee and feel paralyzed if you can’t get your personalized Starbucks cup of “grande, iced, sugar-free, vanilla latte with soy milk”? I like good brewed coffee as much as the next person, but when I was in the Middle East for a couple years, I found that sometimes you just need a jolt of caffeine between classes. And not only did Nescafe command the market, the word “nescafe” itself was actually synonymous with instant coffee.  I’m not saying their success was because of clever marketing, but I fell in love with these clever cups that the local equivalent of Safeway (Tamimi) gave away as part of a promotional package. Not only are they fun, but good for practicing one’s Arabic!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Of course there’s no exact translation of “No can do” but apparently the closest Arabic can render it is “Forget it”(انس), roughly pronounced eensah.

Next up: those impish Pop Tarts.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

No tour of quirky packaging delights can fail to include Trader Joe’s, such as this tissue box. (This happens to be a particular downfall of mine.)

 

The side of the box gives a choice of four favorite tissue uses, such as…

And finally, this last item* is not really an instance of intentional packaging humor but I just can’t resist including it as an example of “translations that don’t work in English very well.”


*“Ful medames,” or simply fūl, is a dish of cooked fava beans served with vegetable oil, cumin, and optionally with chopped parsley, garlic, onion, lemon juice, chili pepper and other vegetable, herb and spice ingredients; it’s a common part of the cuisines of many Arab, Middle Eastern and African cultures. Some writers have suggested that ful medames dated all the way back to Ancient Egypt. The earliest evidence of the use of ful is a cache of 2,600 dried Fava beans unearthed at a late Neolithic site on the outskirts of Nazareth.
An earlier version of this article discussing Arabic translations in somewhat more details (and prior to discovering the cartoons) can be found at http://jveeds.blogspot.com/2010/05/labelous-language.html
All photos (c) Jim Veihdeffer