Rambling Thoughts on the Last Day of the Year

i’m looking forward to 2018.

i say this every year about this time. And as usual, it will be a mixture of good and bad, just like last year and just like the year before that and the year before that and ad infinitum.

i have absolutely bought into it is what we make it — thank you, Dave Carey and your reflections on Charlie Dickens (no kin to Little Jimmy Dickens) and his opening lines in A Tale of Two Cities) — and i choose to make it on the positive side. Happy…well, maybe not happy…successful…hmm, don’t think that quite captures it either…good year (how come “good” covers such great territory?).

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Biggest loss? Charlie Hon. After Vanderbilt, i never got to spend enough time with him. That boy and i could get into more trouble (innocent, of course) than any two humans on earth, and it was pure, unadulterated fun. Of course, we both did pretty well with that fun trouble stuff on our solo rides. i feel him looking over my shoulder, laughing as almost always. “Come on, Jimmy,” he would say, “This will work out fine.” It did. Rest in peace, Charlie. You’ve earned it.

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Disappointments: Garrison Keillor. i was never a big fan of Garrison, too stuffily folksy. Always seemed a bit too made up to me. Don’t get me wrong. He was okay as a companion, the prairie kind, and lots of folks, including many good friends loved his schtick. i have nothing against him. Just not my deal.

Then he started “The Writer’s Almanac,” the website with daily entry of items pertaining to the date, mostly about writers (not me). i read it every morning. Liked starting the day off with a poem, although i would wonder, every day, why people liked these poems but editors were not thrilled with the few i had submitted to them. The daily entries became a part of my morning startup.

Then Garrison went down in flames, another of those men in positions of perceived power who thought, apparently, they were superior to women and made those women feel that way. Bad voodoo. And i don’t care what these guys claim. To one degree or another, they took advantage of another human. Wrong. Flat wrong.

Then, PBS got all pissed and dismissed him and his deals forever. And “The Writer’s Almanac” went away. Not fun. Guess i will have to actually study a bit to learn a little each day and go back ton reading on my own Robert Penn Warren, William Wordsworth, e.e. cummings, Langston Hughes, Robert Frost, Emily Dickinson, and others on my own. That’s okay. i need to do that anyway.

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The greatest disappointment was the passing of another tradition of mine. i have written about it here: Murphy’s Law Desk Calendar. Gone. After thirty-two years. Gone. i guess they ran out of laws. Seems we’ve got so much screwed up there should be a lot more of the spinoffs, not less.

In case you missed it, my Aunt Evelyn and Uncle Pipey Orr sent me my first “Murphy’s Law” desk calendar for Christmas when i was on deployment to WESTPAC in 1979. Rather than have to make some comment about some status at the commodore’s morning message meetings. i would sit next to the chief of staff, the last staff member clock-wise from the commodore and therefore the last to  be queried. Some staffie had already covered anything that needed to update the commodore and a whole lot more of gibberish to make the staffie feel important and believe he had impressed the commodore.

But i didn’t have anything at all to say. It was expected. So i began reading the daily entry from the calendar my aunt and uncle had sent me. Pete Toennies, Mike Peck,  Al Pavich and i marveled at how spot on the daily entries were about organizations and life (OW Wright would have too, but i didn’t start reading them until OW had been relieved by Al).


December 27, 2017: “Murphy’s First Law of Technology — Logic is a systematic method of coming to the wrong conclusion with confidence.”

December 28, 2017: “La Rochefoucauld’s Rule — We all have the strength to endure the misfortune of others.”

December 29, 2018: “Osburn’s Axiom — Computers are not intelligent. They only think they are.”

December 30,31: “Lichtenberg’s Law — To do just the opposite is also a form of imitation.”

Gone. Oh, they’ve got a wall calendar, but i have looked at that daily law every day for 13,878 days, even taking them on my trips.

The good (or bad) news is i plan to keep them running. You see, i would cut out the law from the daily entry and scotch tape it to the front and back of my 9×11 calendar i used throughout my Navy career (before computers obviously). i saved them all because i planned on writing about my career sooner or later — they have proven extremely useful while writing the book about my XO tour on USS Yosemite.

So i am going to post each one, probably as a Facebook entry, until i run out. i figure that will be around 2050.

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i was mulling over this while i performed our traditional cleaning of all of our pots and pans with some magic stuff one of Maureen’s friends recommended…Oh, okay, it was two pots and it became a tradition today, but i was working at it. Regardless, i was mulling as all good mullers do about such things as above but more concerned about the other tradition: Black-eyed peas and cornbread on New Year’s Day.

i’m not sure when it became a tradition at 127 Castle Heights Avenue. i don’t remember it growing up, but then there are a whole bunch of things i don’t remember about growing up. i do remember my mother’s black-eyed peas.

Estelle Prichard Jewell didn’t fancy hers up. Black-eyed peas. Hog jowl. “Salt and pepper to taste” (and i still don’t have a clue as to what that really means). Cook until done. That’s it.

i (for me) got fancy when my mother wasn’t around. My recipe is a bit more complicated: Black-eyed peas; onion, chopped; garlic, minced (unless Maren will join us); Worcestershire sauce; sorghum molasses, whatever the hell is in that cabinet where Maureen stores her spices and anything else not toxic that sounds good at the time. Cook slowly for a long time. Taste repeatedly, preferably with a beer.

We’ll have that with cornbread tomorrow with the Toennies at our house after golf with beer or wine.

’bout perfect except there are so many people i would like to share this with who will be celebrating elsewhere.

May your 2018 be all it can be for you.

Happy New Year.

1 thought on “Rambling Thoughts on the Last Day of the Year

  1. There’s no reason with your razor sharp humor that you put your own brand on a Murphy’s Law stereotype and begin a new legacy. I bet it would be uniquely brilliant. I shall wait with barely contained anticipation. Bless💕

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