T   P   O
The Patient Ox (aka Hénock Gugsa)

G r e e t i n g s !

** TPO **
A personal blog with diverse topicality and multiple interests!

On the menu ... politics, music, poetry, and other good stuff.
There is humor, but there is blunt seriousness here as well!

Parfois, on parle français ici aussi. Je suis un francophile .... Bienvenue à tous!

* Your comments and evaluations are appreciated ! *

Wednesday, March 27, 2013

Message from HCQ - St. Paul Pioneer Press

Message from Hastings Crazy Quilter

Bulletin Board - St. Paul Pioneer Press (3/27/13)
------- // -------

Got an email today from a friend who lives on the West Coast. She wanted to know if I had splatted yet this winter. She used to live in Michigan, so she knows the difference between slipping on the ice and splatting. Splatting is more of a full-contact exercise. 

I never used to worry about splatting; I expected to do it once or twice a winter. A few years ago, however, I splatted a good one and cracked my tailbone. Medical science has made great strides, but they still can't do too much for you if you crack your tailbone except recommend painkillers. 

Oh, yes: They will give you a strange pillow, which you have to carry around with you so you can sit down. This pillow draws everyone's attention ... and their comments. It is the perfect embodiment of the phrase 'insult added to injury.' 

Stay alert, Minnesotans. There's still plenty of time left to splat! We're not out of the winter yet.

Tuesday, March 26, 2013

Power Napping - John Flinn

Power Napping
----- // -----
John Flinn
San Francisco Examiner, 1994

John F. Kennedy used to love a quick one in the afternoon. Whenever he could, he’d slip out of the Oval Office for half an hour of bliss.

If loose talk floating around Washington is to be believed, [Bill Clinton] also has begun ducking out of mid-afternoon policy sessions to wrinkle the White House sheets.

Naps. We’re talking about afternoon naps here.

And the leaders of the Free World aren’t the only ones doing it. Corporate ladder-climbers as well as overworked mothers increasingly are discovering the restorative powers of 40 winks, sleep experts say.

Don’t look at it as a sign that we’re turning into a nation of drooling old codgers, say the experts. Look at it as a sign we’re finally getting in touch with the body’s natural rhythms. Feel free to use the term “circadian cycle” if it makes you feel better. There’s no shame in this. It involves actual science.

“There’s an old notion that you nap when you’re a child and when you’re old, but not in between,” said David Dinges, a sleep researcher at the University of Pennsylvania. “We now know that’s not true.”

Dinges and others have found overwhelming physiological evidence that the human body is designed for two sessions of sleep during each 24 hour  circadian cycle”: a longer one at night and a shorter one in the middle of the afternoon.

Young adults, with resilient bodies accustomed to forgiving all manner of abuse, are better able to ignore their need for midday sleep. But as they approach their mid-30’s, Dinges said, the call for a siesta becomes more insistent.

“As we age there is evidence that it gets harder and harder to cheat these symptoms,” Dinges said. “We’re more sensitive to their effects on our level of functioning.”

Breakfast meetings, early morning shuttles to Los Angeles, dinner meetings, evening MBA classes, the demands of raising children – all these are robbing [baby boomers] of the nighttime sleep they need. This, Dinges believes, makes an afternoon nap even more crucial.

Just ask Paul and Kirsten Vals. He’s 35 and director of strategic alliances at Next Inc.; she’s 31 and a senior associate at the Copithorne & Bellows public relations agency. They’re both Silicon Valley go-getters during the week and unapologetic nappers on the weekend.

“It’s power napping,” Kirsten said. “It’s almost like an energy milkshake.”

Since the birth of their daughter 2 years ago, Kirsten said, her need for catnaps has been overwhelming. Her schedule won’t always allow it, but she tries to get three or four a month. Husband Paul said he supplements his weekend naps with shut-eye grabbed while flying to and from business meetings.

“I feel deprived when I don’t get one,” she said. “Before it was a treat. Now I feel if I don’t get one I’ll have to go to bed early at night or get so cranky I’ll snap at my husband.”

Researchers don’t know why humans need afternoon sleep. But a wide range of studies, from brain wave recordings to sleep diaries to prolonged islolation in underground caves have all pointed to the same conclusion.

Alertness and mood, the studies show, tend to crash 12 hours after the midpoint of one’s nighttime sleep. In other words, if you sleep from 11 p.m. to 7 a.m., you’ll start yawning around 3 p.m. Myth to the contrary, a big, starchy lunch has little to do with it.

“The younger you are, the less likely this dip in alertness will be overwhelming,” said Dr. Alexander Clerk, director of the sleep clinic at the Stanford University Medical Center. “The older you get, the stronger that afternoon dip is.”

Napping on the job conjures up images of Homer Simpson and Dagwood Bumpstead, But Dr. William Dement, a Stanford University sleep researcher, calls napping “a heroic act.”

Dement and others are trying to focus attention on what they call a “national sleep deficit.” Each decade Americans tend to give up about 20 minutes of sleep per night – which means [baby boomers] are getting about an hour less sleep than their parents did. The national nightly average is now about 7.5 hours, according to one survey.

A national commission led by Dement last year cited on-the-job sleeplessness as a factor contributing to the Exxon Valdez oil spill and the Three Mile Island nuclear disaster.

But what are the chances of corporate America adopting the afternoon siesta? Nada, roughly. Blame it on the industrial revolution. One of the first things a nation does in moving from an agrarian to an industrial economy is to do away with the siesta – and there’s not much chance of going back, Dinges said.


Sunday, March 24, 2013

Thursday, March 21, 2013

Humor in Advice Columns - by TPO

Emily Yoffe 
Emily Yoffe
aka “Dear Prudence” (on washingtonpost.com)
[A recent letter (2013)]

Q: Girlfriend and Cat: I have been dating my girlfriend for three years, and I am mostly sure that this is the woman I will marry, except for one thing. The only thing we have any real disagreements about is our cat. She thinks it is just fine to kiss it right on the nose, repeatedly. She basically kisses it, and makes this "om nom nom" noise while doing so. I think it's gross, and she thinks my reaction is funny. I honestly feel ill when she does this, and can't stand the thought of kissing her afterward unless she washes up first. She thinks that makes me a loon. And yet, I can't help the ick factor. She has begun to wonder why we aren't engaged yet, and while it is quite true that I don't want to deal with wedding plans until I am done with grad school, the really big reason to me is I can't decide if this is a deal-breaker, or if I am being overly squeamish. So, please tell me, am I overreacting, or is she just being gross?

A: I understand your bafflement and distress. When kissing one's pets on the nose, the sound one makes should not be "om nom nom" but "num, num, nuu." Everyone knows that. I would feel better about your objection if you then said that your girlfriend suffers from constant bouts of feline-related flu. But it sounds as if she's just fine. This is no deal-breaker but one of life's little quirks that requires partners to indulge each other. So while you roll your eyes at her cat kisses, don't try to stop the smooching. And while she rolls her eyes at your hygiene commands, she rinses with mouth wash. This should make all three of you purr with contentment.

Jeffrey Zaslow

Jeffrey Zaslow (1958-2012)
aka “Dear Jeffrey” (Chicago Sun-Times), 1994

Dear Jeffrey:  I am a 31-year-old single male who hasn’t had a date in a year. One problem is that I’m shy and have trouble asking women out.
I find it easier to respond to personal ads. But as soon as I write back with a description of myself, women lose interest.
Though some women have told me I’m attractive, I wonder if the problem is my size. I am 5-foot-5 and 135 pounds. I respond only to ads placed by women who are my height or shorter. Still, my size seems to be a turn-off.
Should I just face the fact that I am not tall enough for today’s women? Do most women dislike short men?
- Frustrated

Jeffrey says:  Yes, many women want tall muscle-bound hunks like Fabio and other fantasy images. Too many women are preconditioned in our culture to “need” their men taller, because men are “supposed to be dominant.”
For his book “The Height of Your Life” (Warner Books), author Ralph Keyes conducted a poll and found that fewer than 5 percent of women surveyed would go out with a man shorter than themselves. But that’s still not necessarily crushing news for short men, since 90 percent of women are under 5-foot-7. It’s ironic that women consider you short, since most of them are your height or shorter.
Keyes’ research also found that if more women would give shorter guys a try, they’d likely be pleased. And it’s not just because a lot of short guys are wonderful people.
Many women discover that love-making is better with a shorter man.
Keyes quotes a 6-foot-tall female economist: “With a smaller man, there’s no problem whatsoever. Things are equal when you’re lying down. I don’t find tall men active enough. They tend to be sort of phlegmatic. Tall men generally are slow-moving.”
A 6-foot-tall dance teacher said, “Small guys tend to be energetic lovers.” One woman said her best lover was 5-foot-5. “He was a great overachiever.” Another woman added, “Physically, having a small man on top of me can be comfortable. I could lie there for hours.”
Several women said that they were tired of standing on their toes to kiss or dance or hug taller men. Bring on the shorter guys!
They might be somewhat rare, but there are women who feel this way. Keyes is hopeful that as the power gap that separates men and women narrows, attitudes about height will change too. Resist letting your height affect your self-esteem. Keep looking, and someday you might find a woman who will be thrilled with every inch of you.

Cat sits on keyboard.


Tuesday, March 19, 2013

Minnesota's Whippoorwill - by Tom Malone

The Whippoorwill
Tom Malone *
(Star Tribune, 8/13/1989)
----- // -----

[ The low-flying whippoorwill: big-mouth of a summer’s eve ]

Those lucky enough to hear the cry of the whippoorwill in the summer night never forget the experience.

Suddenly from what usually seems an extremely close range, comes a piercing, whistled “whip-poor-Will,” repeated again and again.

Fifty to a hundred repetitions are common; the calls are repeated about a second apart.  As Thoreau wrote in 1840:

“The note of the whip-poor-will, borne over the fields, is the voice with which the woods and moonlight woo me.”

The bird usually calls in the evening after sunset, and again in the hours before dawn.  In the middle hours of the night the whippoorwill hunts the flying insects that comprise its food.

The bird hunts by flying low to the ground, silently like an owl.  It looks like a big moth as it flies.  It simply flies about, its large, open mouth “scooping” insects from the air.

The whippoorwill is closely related to the nighthawk common to our cities and towns; like its relative, it has a large mouth, which opens to a point behind the eyes.

The cavernous scoop enables it to catch and eat all types of flying, nocturnal insects, together with moths, beetles, crickets, and caterpillars.

During the day, the bird roosts on the ground or on a horizontal branch.

It does not hide; it does not have to.  Its protective coloration makes it look like a clump of leaves or a piece of dead wood.  The bird simply sits perfectly still unless the intruder is going to walk directly over it.

More than one person has been startled out of his wits by a large brown “moth” rising directly under his footfall.

The whippoorwill will also nest on the ground.  No nest is built. Instead, the eggs are laid directly on the ground in the woods.

The eggs, incubated by the female, hatch in about 20 days.  The young birds are flying and feeding 20 days after birth.

Males and females look very much alike except for the color of the sides of the tail.  The male flashes white and the female buff.

Whippoorwills are often very tame.  They can be closely approached if the observer waits and moves quietly.

They love to take “dust baths” and often can be seen doing so on old country dirt roads.

Interestingly, the bird’s huge, seemingly black eyes shine red when light is reflected from them.

Whippoorwills are locally common throughout the more heavily wooded parts of Minnesota.

They are most common in the southeast along the Mississippi River but are also very common through the north central part of the state.

I recently found them very common in the woods of Camp Ripley, north of Little Falls.  Their whistled singing was heard throughout the camp; the soldiers of our state National Guard’s 47th Military Police company were treated to whippoorwills on a nightly basis!

I found it delightful, but the more practical members of the company complained that the “noise” cut into what little sleep time was available.

The bird is rare in the taiga of northeast Minnesota and absent from the western part of the state.  It winters from the very southern part of the United States south into northern South America.

For some reason, the bird is virtually never seen during migration.

Like most insect-eaters, whippoorwills will not be with us much longer.  Soon they will leave for the winter.  So venture into the summer night, and listen for them.

You will know when you hear it, and you will be glad you did.
* Minneapolis lawyer Tom Malone has loved, studied and watched birds for more than 30 years.

Monday, March 18, 2013

Dealing with Idiot Bosses - by Scott Reeves

How to Work for an Idiot
by Scott Reeves

Business Basics (Forbes.com) *

Idiot bosses exist only to stomp the life out of their intellectually superior and more innovative subordinates.

This keeps many good workers up at night. Some can't figure out why their ideas are rejected and their work is denigrated. Others sink into cynicism about their careers. A few devote all their energy to plotting revenge against the dummy in the corner office. 

Instead, use a little jujitsu: Turn your boss's cluelessness to your advantage. Call it idiot engineering.

"A clueless boss gives you a wide-open field," says John Hoover, author of How to Work for an Idiot: Survive & Thrive--Without Killing Your Boss. "Learn what's important to your boss, understand what your company is looking for and help the fool meet those expectations."

Tips on how to deal with seven types of idiot bosses

Some workers, fed up by the knuckle-dragging incompetence of the idiot boss, spend a good part of the day making the twit look bad. The shrewd employee works around the idiot boss by becoming a boost to the ninny's career--not an impediment.

"You want to diminish the power of the boss's cluelessness to harm you," says Hoover, a corporate psychologist who holds a Ph.D. in organizational behavior. "You do that by becoming an enhancement to the boss." 

Start by paying attention to what interests the bumbler and listen carefully when the schmo grunts. This will provide vital information in planning your winning assault on idiocy.

If your boss has a hockey stick in the corner, uses a puck for a paperweight and has the jersey of his favorite player mounted on the wall, you don't have to be Sherlock Holmes to figure out that he's a hockey nut.

Rather than laying out your proposal in detailed and complex language peppered with chatter about the "leading edge" and "getting the lion's share of resources," try this:
"Wasn't it Hall-of-Famer Wayne Gretzky who said you shouldn't skate to where the puck is but to where the puck will be?"

A true idiot will miss the metaphor. Relax, you're talking hockey, and your favorite jackass will listen. If you make your presentation in hockey-speak, chances are the boss will love your idea--even if he doesn't understand it--and will give you the go-ahead.

That's your opening, and, as a non-idiot, the rest is up to you.

Some may see efforts to handle an idiot boss as butt kissing, but anyone who thinks that probably believes the road to advancement starts by making the boss look stupid.

"Idiot engineering isn't butt kissing," Hoover says. "The whole idea is to make working conditions more conducive to your career growth."

Remember: The key to overcoming an idiot boss includes blending your ideas with the nincompoop's language and agenda. If the schmuck adopts your ideas as his own, you've hopped the first hurdle to success. 

"Even though idiot bosses are inevitable, they don't have to be terminal," Hoover says.

But no matter how successful your idiot engineering efforts are, remember who's the boss.

"The person with the institutional authority is always the 800-pound gorilla," says Hoover. "People who go to work thinking they'll out-wrestle the big monkey will lose every time."

A clueless boss isn't necessarily unconscious, and most know they're in over their heads. This creates great insecurity. As a result, the idiot boss spends most of his day defending his turf against all threats rather than advancing the interests of the company. The idiot boss's imperative is clear: prevent others from seeing his near-terminal cluelessness.

The turbo-charged jerk in pinstripes is more than happy to slaughter a sacrificial lamb on the altar of his own incompetence. You can avoid being that innocent lamb by making yourself indispensable to the big goof.

The rare non-idiot boss does a genius thing: talk to employees, ask about their job and how it can be done better. Jack Welch, former head of General Electric, nailed it. Clearly, someone knows which end is up at top-notch companies such as Microsoft, Intel, Dell, Apple Computer, Southwest Airlines and JetBlue Airways.

"I'm a recovering idiot boss," Hoover says. "If I stop talking to my people, I'm dangling precariously. I've got to engage them and learn from their skills. If I do that, I've taken my personality out of the equation, and that creates consistency."

However, if your boss is dumber than a fence post and beyond redemption, it may be time to find another job. Hoover says an inability to get along with the boss is cited as the top reason for changing jobs. Then comes job dissatisfaction, followed by inadequate pay. 

"In a free market, we can vote with our feet," Hoover says. "Leaving may have consequences--pay and location, for example--so do a cost/benefit analysis before giving notice."

The battle against idiocy is a long, twilight struggle. As you gird for battle, take a hard look at yourself. 

"Beware your inner idiot," Hoover says. "Success and stupidity don't mix. Your boss's stupidity is only half the problem. Your own stupidity can easily complete the disaster."

Thursday, March 7, 2013

Every problem ... an opportunity! - by Raymond B.

Opportunity Knocks

----- // -----

By Raymond Beyda *

Some people hate to cook while others love to cook but can’t stand washing dishes. The odor of a hand towel turns a lot of people off and looking for a paper clip or a stapler can drive some people up a wall. These problems are just a small inkling of the annoying problems people must overcome daily. Problems,­ problems, ­problems ­ life is a series of problems!

If one realizes that every problem is also an opportunity to be creative in developing ways to avoid reoccurrence of the same problem a problem could become an adventure in creativity.

Someone who did not like to cook had the idea to open fast food establishments and another invented a microwave oven and a third the pre-cooked just heat it up dinner. Someone who did not like to clean up the dirty dishes created an industry that produces paper and plastic utensils for serving food and drink. That annoying odor and a dislike for doing laundry led someone to invent paper towels and then the business minds got to work on a tissue for the nose and a napkin for the table as well as other disposable products that eliminate the need for washing the laundry. Someone who wanted to attach a note to a report invented the post-it note, which led to many self-stick, non-messy products that adhere one item to another. 

Today when you are hit with one of life’s inevitable problems don’t look at it as a problem. Look for an opportunity. It might be that the problem you can’t tolerate is part of the human condition and if you come up with a solution to enhance the quality of life, this problem may just be your opportunity to strike it rich. 

It only takes a minute to look past the problem and listen for the “knock”.

* (2004) Rabbi Raymond Beyda  ( Torah.org. ) 

Wednesday, March 6, 2013

The Fun of Walken - by TPO

Christopher Walken

Christopher Walken
(1943 - )
In his own words ...

On his dancing -

... No, but way before that, I`ve been doing little dances in movies for years. Yeah, that was an amazing chance. You know, at my age to be able to do a music dance video, very unusual.

On why he hates to not be working -

When I don`t have any work sometimes, a kind of thing sets in where my mind shuts down. It`s almost like hibernation. It`s not that I`m unhappy, but I`m not thinking anything. Then I`ll go and watch television. And after an hour or two, I`ll think, `You`re just sitting there watching television and it`s not even interesting.` And there`s nothing to do. Life becomes meaningless.

On Pulp Fiction (1994) -

I put aside an hour every day to go over that monologue again and again for months, and every time I got to the end of it, I would crack up.

On his looks -

My hair was famous before I was....
People always comment about my hair. It is unusual for a man my age to have so much.

On what would be great for actors to have -

.... I remember that. I was talking to ... and I said how great it would be if actors had a tail because I have animals and a tail is so expressive. On a cat you can tell everything. You can tell if they`re annoyed. You can tell whether they`re scared.

“Weapon of Choice”
----- // -----
Christopher Walken ...plus... Fatboy Slim

Tuesday, March 5, 2013

The Case for Growlers - by B. Boegeman

Growler Beer

The Case for Growlers

Letter of the Day (March 4): Growlers *

[Minnesota’s favorite beer container is under threat from an outdated piece of legislation.]

As the nation continues to focus on the triviality of sequester-related turmoil, papal retirement and Double O-bama’s not-so-super-secret drone program, I’d like to call Minnesotans attention to an issue of true significance: beer.

The recent revitalization of the local craft brew scene is due in large part to battles fought in the legislative arena. The 2011 effort that now allows Minnesota breweries to sell beer at on-site taprooms is but one historic example.

So what’s the next battle? Growlers.

Minnesota’s favorite beer container is under threat from an outdated piece of legislation that prevents local brewers from selling the popular jug once their production exceeds 3,500 barrels a year. In other words, once brewers prove their craft’s worthiness by meeting this production milestone, they can no longer sell it in its most appealing form.

Clearly this travesty deserves our immediate attention, but don’t worry, you can help. Go to the "Save the Growler" website and declare your support for the 64 ounces of freedom the growler represents. Beer drinkers unite!

Bill Boegeman, Minneapolis

Monday, March 4, 2013

Modern Travails and Tremors - from theOnion

Modern Travails and Tremors

from: theOnion *

[Creepy one-word text message from mom could mean anything.]

TACOMA, WA—Area high school student Josh Fairbanks, 16, confirmed Thursday that the vague, creepy one-word text message he just received from his mother could conceivably be interpreted in a nearly infinite variety of ways.

“The last time we texted was yesterday, and the conversation definitely ended with ‘Bye,’ so she has to be referring to something new—but we just talked when she dropped me off at school,” a confused Fairbanks said of the brief message sent to his iPhone, which simply read “soon.”

“I know she was going to the grocery store, so she could have started typing, gotten distracted, and accidentally hit ‘send’ before she could finish her thought. But if that were the case, it seems like the text would be a little longer or start with some other word. Or that she would have texted again and said ‘Sorry, I hit send by mistake.’”

At press time, Fairbanks was mentally cataloguing every possible event in his own life, his mother’s life, or in existence altogether that may or may not be occurring in a timeframe definable as “soon.”


* theOnion, News-in-Brief, Local, Issue 49-05, Jan. 31, 2013-03-04

Friday, March 1, 2013

Un coin d'Auvergne -- "échappées belles"

 échappées belles Auvergne

La Région Auvergne 
popuation: 1 347 387 hab. (2010)

     ------ // ------

Auvergne is one of the 27 administrative regions of France.

It comprises the 4 departments of Allier, Puy de Dome, Cantal and Haute-Loire.

Le Puy-en-Velay


1 310
Conseil régional
Conseil régional d'Auvergne
René Souchon (PS)

Auvergne, France