The Trials and Trappings of Wealth and Fashion

Several years ago my wife and I were in Venice, Italy, when the 58th International Art Exhibition (which was aptly titled "May You Live In Interesting Times") was about to open. Many of the richest people from around the globe had descended on this tiny, northern Italian city via their expensive megayachts and private jets, and their respective attendances were somewhat assured because the world's wealthy simply MUST be seen at events like these, lest they be perceived as "uncultured" by their peers.

As my wife and I caught sight of myriad jet setting millionaires and billionaires who were strolling along the canals of Venice wearing the latest fashions from Milan, Paris, and London, I made the following observation: when you're poor and you're weird, you're viewed as crazy; but if you're rich and you're weird, you're viewed as eccentric. When applying this revelation to the crowds that had gathered in Venice, this meant that everyone who wasn't an eccentric elite witnessed a never ending parade of unusual apparel adorning the ranks of affluent art show attendees, which was like watching a comedy show in which each performer was trying to outdo the last for having the most outlandish costume.

As one prosperous pair passed us wearing clothes that a clown wouldn't wear to a circus, I leaned over to my wife and remarked, "Some people are so fashionable that they don't realize how stupid they look." My playful observation cannot be overstated; I saw several nouveau riche who looked utterly ridiculous, even though in some circles they might be considered fashionable. The super rich who were visiting Venice during our tenure there were living out a textbook manifestation of The Emperor's New Clothes; and like the gullible saps in the fairy tale, they didn't realize that the joke was on them. I didn't take any photos - because that would be rude - but if you've seen the films in the "The Hunger Games" series, just imagine the crowds from "The Capital" walking around in real life; that's pretty much what we saw.

PS - to their credit, the affluent couple in absurd garments that I mentioned earlier were walking an exquisitely groomed Afghan Hound through the streets of Venice. I would imagine that poor animal was probably embarrassed to be seen in public with its owners.

We've Always Done It That Way

Here's an excerpt from one of today's meetings:

Me: Your writer created this content incorrectly.
Them: Our writer has created this type of content before, and they followed the same pattern as last time.
Me: Let me put this as delicately as I can - if you did something wrong the first time and you continue to do it wrong every time after that, then telling me you did it the same way as last time doesn't mean anything to me.
Them: O_o

Welcome to Javalinaville

Javalinas are a nuisance in my neighborhood because they knock over people's trash bins and scatter garbage through the streets, and this is especially true when people wheel their cans out to the curb a tad bit early (as I often do). After a recent peccary rampage through our residential rubbish, one of my neighbors quipped "Welcome to Javalinaville," which served as the impetus for the following parody that is sung to the tune of Jimmy Buffet's "Margaritaville."

Nibblin' on nightshade,
Watchin' the moon fade,
See all these swines
That are covered with spines.
I look in the alley,
That place is a galley,
Smell the debris
As they're startin' to dine.

Wastin' away again in Javalinaville,
Searchin' for any refuse they can find.
Some people claim
That there's a trash bin to blame,
But I know, it's my own dang fault.



I know the reason,
They've stayed here all season,
Our neighborhood's filled
With a bundle of bins.
Now here's some real beauties,
A pack of Tucson cuties,
How they dance in the trash,
What a sin.

Wastin' away again in Javalinaville,
Searchin' for any refuse they can find.
Some people claim
That there's a trash bin to blame,
But I know, it's my own dang fault.

Dogs Versus Cats, The Sequel

Several years ago I wrote a blog titled "Dogs Versus Cats" in which I described my preference for canine species versus feline species. When a friend recently shared the Newsweek article titled "Map Shows States Where Dogs Are More Popular Than Cats,"[1] I learned that I am not alone in my preference, albeit within certain geographical regions.


However, what was interesting about the Newsweek article was the distribution of pet preferences when compared to political leanings, which reminds me of a story from my college days.

I had a professor who was a little younger than most of the students in her class, and she was the sole Liberal in a classroom full of Conservatives. One day during a break, the topic of discussion between the other students and me was dogs. The professor walked over to our group and asked what we were talking about, and just for fun I said, "We're talking about dogs, but you wouldn't understand because you have a cat." I had a 50/50 chance of guessing correctly, but it obviously resonated with her because she asked, "How did you know that I have a cat?" Without missing a beat I said, "Because you're a Liberal, and everybody knows that all Liberals have cats and all Conservatives have dogs." She looked shocked and asked the other students if that was true, and they thankfully jumped on board with my deception and agreed with my fabrication.

What was great about this deceit, however, was that it didn't end there. A few days later my classmates and I were discussing the latest release of a software title for the PC, and as the professor walked up to our group she asked what we were talking about. I replied, "We're talking about a new software program, but you wouldn't understand because you own a Macintosh." Once again I had a 50/50 chance of being right, but that joke also hit its mark because she asked, "How did you know that I own a Mac?," to which I responded, "Because all Liberals use Macs and all Conservatives use PCs." That statement isn't remotely true, but nevertheless my classmates backed my story and our poor professor wandered off once again with a seriously warped view of reality.

I don't know if she ever figured out that we were just playing around, but I still got an "A" in the class.


  1. Giving credit where it's due, the Newsweek article uses maps and data from an article by Zippia titled "Dog States vs Cat States: States with the Most Dogs."

The Weekend Safety Brief

Throughout my eight-year tenure in the military, the "Weekend Safety Brief" was a common feature during each Friday's close of business formation, which took place before soldiers were dismissed for the weekend. Despite every attempt to be unique, I realized as I heard the disparate words from dozens of commanders, they usually said pretty much the same thing: "don't do something stupid and stay out of trouble."

With that in mind, the following summary briefing evolved over the years, which seemed to say everything that needed to be said:

"Don't add to the population.
Don't subtract from the population.
Don't do anything that will get you on the news or in jail.
If you end up on the news, own that sh** so you'll be talked about for years to come.
If you end up in jail, establish dominance quickly."

Open-mouthed smile

Seasoned Stories of Sailing Ships and Swirling Seas

As he boarded his venerable longship, the mighty Viking warrior, Rudolph the Red, readied his sturdy craft to sail the turbulent waters of the North Sea. Once again, the fierce leader and his men would reign terror over the poor, unsuspecting villagers of the British Isles as the Vikings pillaged their way through farms and fields of Scotland and England.

As the crew completed their final preparations for the perilous voyage, the rugged chieftain leaned over the bulwark of his vessel to kiss his wife goodbye, and he said to her, "Tomorrow, we shall be victorious in battle. But today, we sail forth into a storm."

As she cast her gaze toward the sun as it slowly rose above a clear horizon, she asked her husband, "How can you be so sure?"

"Because," he replied, "Rudolph the Red knows rain, dear."



I will admit that I saw the punch line from this brief bit of humor several years ago, and I chuckled when I read it. However, I couldn't find the source of the original pun, so I decided to write my own story, albeit with some AI-generated artwork. This illustration of Rudolph the Red was generated by the application at, where I asked it to create "a 3d image of a viking with red hair on a ship that is sailing through the rain." I think the image fit my story rather well.


What You Least Expect

No one expects the Muppet Inquisition! Amongst their weaponry are such elements as surprise, farce, ruthless puerility, and an almost fanatical devotion to Jim Henson!

No One Expects the Muppet Inquisition

Power Tip for Remote Workers

Always remember to double-check that your microphone is muted before you start brushing your teeth during a meeting.

Cursing by Keyboard in the Early Morning

If, like me, you were ever forced to read Robert Frost's "Stopping by Woods on a Snowy Evening," here is my 21st-century homage to his most-famous work:

Cursing by Keyboard in the Early Morning

It's half past two, I'm still awake,
Typing madly, cursing mistakes.
Myriad tasks my ire rouse,
No end in sight, and my head aches.

Emphatic din of keys and mouse,
Resound throughout the tiny house.
Word just crashed with hard drive errors.
I scream in silence. (Can't wake my spouse.)

Word's "auto-save" denies my prayers;
Four thousand words beyond repair.
No cloud drive clone, I could just weep.
I start again, fraught with despair.

I long for blankets warm and deep,
But I have my deadlines to keep,
And hours to work before I sleep,
And hours to work before I sleep.


While I admire Frost's usage of iambic tetrameter throughout this poem, I thoroughly dislike the rhyming scheme that he employed. Nevertheless, my trifle of a poetic offering is more or less a form of parody, so I tried my best to stay true to Frost's pattern.