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Was it a dark and stormy night?

Several events in my life have come into alignment to make me think of posting this this week. First, sometime after 4:00 Sunday morning we lost our electricity. We were a little concerned since we were having guests for lunch and the preparation involved having power. Fortunately it came on shortly before 7:00. We never did hear why we lost power, but it was definitely not because it had been "a dark and stormy night."

Second, the first several weeks of my summer break I have been hired to copy a website from one server to another. The work is fairly tedious (and tasteless) as I copy the 300 pages, one page at a time. It should take me only 60 to 100 hours. %-) My eyes are almost crossed from the repetitive nature of the task, but it does pay well. :-) The website belongs to ABC — the Association for Business Communication It's been interesting to read a bit of the history of this association whose goal is to improve the writing of people involved in business.

The third event in this interesting alignment will be explained later in the post.

About 8 years ago I did a blog post about the Bulwer-Lytton Fiction Contest. I will copy below my explanation of the whole Bulwer-Lytton phenomenon. I have updated some things so that they are correct at the time of this post.

During my 42 years of teaching French, I've graded my share of student compositions. Some things that students have written, not always intentionally, have made me laugh out loud. The most memorable is what one student wrote in a composition for second semester French — they have to write the first paragraph of a thriller. One student wrote (and I translate) something like "The man and his dog rounded the corner and found the baker lying in the alley behind the bakery with a spoon in his chest." This student had obviously not taken the time to look up the French word for "knife" in the dictionary and gone with her memory. I commented on her paper that that must have been a horribly painful way to die! I still laugh at this one, but the really humorous twist on this is that that student went on to minor in French and lived in Paris, France, where she was transferred to work for three years with the Ernst and Young accounting firm. UPDATE: She is in the final stages of a doctorate in International Accounting from a university in France! Finding that out recently was the third event that led up to today's post.


I did a little research online about this contest. If you go to the Bulwer-Lytton site, be warned that some of what you find there may not be to your liking. I trudged through a lot to give you what I'm posting today. 😎 Here's some of what I learned from Wikipedia and from the official site for the Bulwer-Lytton Fiction Contest:
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Plumb Crazy

Two of my readers sent me e-mails in recent weeks with pictures of some atrocities committed mostly by plumbers. Those pictures, added to some in my files, had all the makings of a blog post.

I'll start off with a picture where it's hard to know whether to fault the plumber or the electrician.

Plumber of Year 19

In the next one, it's clearly the plumber's fault.
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It’s a Sign of Something

This is exam week at the university, and ain't nobody got time to make or read a long blog post. So this will be short and sweet — three sign-related pictures.

This past weekend a friend was telling my wife and me about his recent mailbox dilemma. He needed to replace the post for his mailbox, but he wasn't going to be able to do it before the mail truck was to arrive. Their mail carrier won't deliver if the mailbox is just sitting on the ground. He sent me a picture of his "quick fix" to that day's problem.

Redneckish Mailbox

My friend was accused of being a redneck, of all things! I say that necessity is the mother of invention.

Recently my wife and I explored a little town we have not been to in a long time, Saluda NC. One of the shops that was not open that day had an interesting sign in the window.
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Sunrise, Sunset

picture of anti-aging cream

This week is a tough one for me. The other two teachers in our French department are in their final week as teachers. Both Dr. Bruce Byers and Mme Jackie Eaves will retire at the end of this school year. I wrote about that in a recent post called Changing Times in Teaching. If you missed that news, you can learn more in that post. As this school year ends I am also anticipating attending the 40th reunion of the students who were my first French 2 class the year I began teaching high school in 1973. They were the class of '75. It will be strange to see "my kids" as people in their upper 50's! I'm feeling slightly ancient right now.

Since it's often best to laugh about things that are uncomfortable and that you can't change, I thought I'd post several bits of humor about aging.

An elderly gentleman had had serious hearing problems for a number of years. He went to the doctor who was able to fit him with a set of hearing aids that allowed him to hear 100%. The elderly gentleman went back in a month to the doctor and was told, "Your hearing is perfect. Your family must be really pleased that you can hear again."

The gentleman replied, "Oh, I haven't told my family yet. I just sit around and listen to the conversations. I've changed my will three times!"


Ray had just reached his 150th birthday. Surrounded by reporters, he was asked, "Excuse me, sir, but how did you come to live to be 150?"

Ray answered, "It was easy. I just never argue with anyone."

One reporter shot back, "That's crazy! It had to be something else — diet, exercise, or something. Just not arguing won't keep you alive for 150 years!"

The old fella stared hard at the reporter for several seconds. Then he shrugged and said, "Hmm. Maybe you're right."
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Favorite Children’s Books

Do your kids or grandkids love it when you read to them? Our kids always did, and now we have the joy of reading to our grandkids. (Remember that picture a few weeks ago of me reading to Ryan and Avery from a seed catalog? :-) Here's a picture I've posted before — me reading to our children when all three could still fit on my lap.

picture of whatever

In this post I will share some of our all-time favorites, several recent books we've discovered, and for those who mostly just want the humor, a short list of children's books that never saw the light of day.

I'll start off with a couple books that we have loved for decades.

We all loved Harry the Dirty Dog, the story of a white dog with black spots. He hated baths and got so dirty that he became a black dog with white spots. I won't tell you the rest of the story in case you want to read it yourself. There are several other books in that series — Harry and the Lady Next Door, Harry by the Sea, and No Roses for Harry.

Harry Dirty Dog

Another favorite in our house is Never Tease a Weasel.
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