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Showing posts from August, 2014

Are You Ready to Celebrate September?

By the time you read this, it will be September, and fall will be just around the corner. September, like every month, is filled with commemorative days, special weeks, and month-long celebrations. And when you've got a deadline to meet just a few days before the month begins, what better way to celebrate and meet your contractual obligations than looking at all these special days?

It's unusual for me to write this before September even begins, because I'm usually a few days late for this kind of thing, which is why Be Late for Something Day (September 5th) is my day. The planners probably meant to have it on the 1st, but didn't get their act together in time.

It's Fight Procrastination Day on the 7th, and I should probably make some joke about celebrating later, but that's too predictable, so I'll skip it. You can thank me on the 21st, when it's World Gratitude Day.

September is both International Square Dancing Month and Self-Improvement Month, which,…

Too Lazy; Couldn't Be Bothered

"Kids these days," said Karl, rolling his eyes at me.

What'd I do? I asked.

"I said 'kids,' not middle-aged men," he cackled.

Whatever, King Old Fart, I said. Karl is my 60+ year old curmudgeon friend who calls me Kid, since I'm nearly 20 years younger than him. We were at First Editions, our favorite literary bar, where Karl was supposed to do a reading of one of his short stories. He liked to have a couple drinks before he read, because he always got stage fright at his own readings. The biggest bag of wind I knew could talk at length about any topic, whether he knew anything about it, yet he still got stage fright reading his own stuff.

So what put this burr in your saddle? They running amok on your lawn again?

"No, nothing like that. I was talking to my grandson last week, and I asked him if he had read my last short story." Karl often tried to make his 15-year-old grandson read his works in the hopes that it would spark an interest in…

Who Neds Copy Editors! Not Us?

This piece was written with misspellings, typos, and factual errors on purpose. And, with any luck, my newspaper editors didn't edit them out or spontaneously combust, when I sent this in.

It turns out we dont need copy editors in news-papers anymore. At least the Indianapolis Star doesn't. They have layed off their entire copy editor staff, as they prepare to move into their new offices in the Circle Centre Mall in downtown Indianapolis. (New marketing slogan: Free Cinnabon with every subscription!)

Star editor, Jeff Something — Tailor? Taylor? — calls these cutbacks a evolution — Taylor! It's Jeff Taylor! — and that their "strengthening our bridge to the future." A future where everyone is smarter and can spell and write good, thanks to the increased focus on math testing and decreased reading time in schools, as part of George Wallace Bush's No Child Remaining Behind.

Copy editors do more than just catch typoes and grammer errors. They check facts, they ma…

Inventing the Caller ID of the Future

"Caller ID should be more detailed," said my Facebook friend, Susan A. "'Wants help moving,' 'Going to whine,' 'Will ask to borrow money.'"

I told her I was stealing the idea, and started thinking what this could mean for people who need to know why someone is calling them. My wife and I got rid of our home landline about 10 years ago, since the only people who ever called us on it were telemarketers. We saw no reason to spend 40 bucks a month so telemarketers could call us at dinnertime only to be hung up on five seconds later.

The only thing I miss about a real telephone is being able to slam it down on tele-pests, hoping the percussive blast would rupture an eardrum, or rattle their brains enough so that they rethought their entire life plan. There's no satisfying way to stab a smartphone button with your finger and have it make the same explosive smash as a solid handset made with high-impact plastic.

So what if we could create this …

Ars Repulsis by Bob Rempfer

Most people don't know, but my middle name is Rempfer, so named after the family who took care of my dad while he was growing up in Forest Grove, OR. Bob and Gert Rempfer were college professors at Portland State University, Bob in Math and Gert in Physics.

Bob was also a prolific letter writer and budding humorist, something my namesake and I have in common.

Recently, when I was helping my mom go through some of her old letters, I came across a couple of essays Bob had written and sent to my parents back in May 1973. I thought his essay Ars Repulsis, was funny and is the kind of thing my dad always enjoys. All his missives were written on a typewriter, and had the kinds of tabs and spacing I would expect from a frequent and frenetic typer — something else we share in common.

I took the letter and retyped it here, unedited, so I could share it with my readers.


Ars Repulsis by Bob Rempfer
In Medical Schools (one of its professors told me the other day), people study the course of DI…