On blogs, fuels, mass murderers and bad jokes

Why don’t I write a random blog, instead of these equally disconnected bits of emailed rubbish?

Couple reasons:

1) “Blog” may be the ugliest word ever invented. OK, possibly “mucilage,” with its evocation of snot-as-glue.

But how can anyone seriously churn out a “blog”? “Dear, the cat just heaved a huge blog on the rug, could you clean it up?”

The word evolved by accident, of course – it’s short for “weblog,” and I don’t suppose you’d want it to have gone in the opposite direction, so you could gambol verbally through your “webl” while discussing politics over Napoleon brandy.

2) These ruminations started as a spontaneous reaction to personal happenings in my life that I wanted to share with friends – or at least nodding acquaintances. I was going on about ridiculous surgeries and washed-out bridges, with no interest in wafting my sentiments into the big wide world.

I find a real different mentality between sharing my flotsam with friends and tossing my internal trash onto the Internet highway. If I did start a blog, I suppose inviting all of you along as Original Members (and offering you a gift of dried fish) might promote the same warm feeling.

Or maybe not.

The upper classes and businessmen of 19th-century England traded something quite close to email. Each  had numerous servants – one to bring tea, one to trim the roses, another to buff the horse – among whom was the Dedicated Messenger. This lackey would scamper across the countryside taking hand-written missives in all directions and returning with cleverly calligraphed answers.

As the century progressed and the British postal service expanded, the mail came to be delivered in “important” areas three and four times daily; notes, like gnats, would flit back and forth between London and the moneyed estates.

 *   *   *

Our major source of home heat up here is our wood stove. The originating material is cheap (when bought from a local supplier) or free (when harvested from the cellulose entities of our woods). Since burning wood involves no fossil fuels, we are environmentally conscious good guys!

Well… wait a minute: The latest studies out of England, where wood stoves are prevalent in most cities (especially London), have elucidated, with convincing evidence, that wood smoke is remarkably toxic, both indoors and out – actually, the most locally polluting heat source known.

Outdoors, smoke spews like an avenging mist. Indoors – every time you open the stove to restock, plus leakage in exhaust pipes, etc. – it’s been tied to wheezing in children, and such problems of the elderly as heart disease and dementia (“Martha, did I just eat the poker?”). 

The worst of it for us is, we’ll go right along burning wood, because we like it and it makes us feel that we’re taking an active part in ensuring our comfort, rather than twiddling a thermostat dial while watching reality TV.

And now, ah yes, gas stoves, the other comfort heating device coming under the ax.  It’s clear that burning natural gas releases PFAS (and probably PISH-TOSH). This stuff is definitely bad, micro particles that attack your lungs like mini-spelunkers, responsible (at least in part) for about a third of childhood asthma. Not only that, but even when turned off the fuckers leak benzene. 

OK, how do they manage that, and whose fault is it? If something is properly turned off, why is it leaking anything? Isn’t there just maybe a design problem here?

A lot of people (including chefs) have preferred gas to electric stoves because the heat can be reduced or increased with immediate effect, without the residual heat of coils burning your eggs or wasting energy that later dissipates into the room.

Now, according to accounts of many uses (including some of our friends), the newer electric induction stovetops avoid such heat waste and lack of control – and out-perform gas stoves.

Our current stove, actually, is propane, and I don’t know if it’s better or worse than natural gas. Growing up in Philly, before a change to natural gas in the ’50s, the city produced “manufactured gas,” derived from coal; the resulting solid product was coke – which we used for central heating in our courtyard house on 37th St.

So, should we ditch our gas stoves in a frenzy of healthful disinvestment? Absolutely! Take all those vile clunkers right down to the landfill. Can’t create more than, say, 50 million tons of unrecyclable trash. 

*   *   *

Unsolicited musical comment:

Blow blow blow your nose

Gently done your face,

Warily, warily, warily, warily

Life is a disgrace.

And another one, provided by Cat Stevens’ doppelgänger:

Morning has broken,

Because it wasn’t made very well,

Blackbird has spoken,

But I couldn’t understand a fucking thing it said.

*   *   *

Have you noticed a shift in the profile of mass shooters these days? Still a fair number of the usual teen gang types and young loners, but now also a wide range of guys in their 50s and 60s killing people at random and offing their entire families. 

Plus, Jim Knipfel has noted an upsurge in the ranks of Asia mass killers in the U.S.

As Jimmy Durante used to say, “Everybody’s tryin’ to get inta the act!”

*   *   *

Two Russians were walking down the road. One had a reticulated python, the other did not.

The one who had the reticulated python asked the one who did not: “Why do you not have a reticulated python?”

The other asked: “A what?”

The first explained: “A reticulated python: the largest of recent snakes, featuring scales in a reticulated pattern, like that of a net you would use to catch fish.”

The other began to snigger: “What a silly name for a snake.”

Both Russians then became convulsed in laughter. The snake, who could not comprehend the reason for their hilarity, nonetheless doubled up in sympathetic mirth. This caused him to constrict his muscles and squish his owner like a stomped on knish.

The second Russian and the reticulated python chuckled over the incident for several days.

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