Gary Conkling Life Notes

Mostly whimsical reflections on life

Random Reflections #1

Sometimes a bunch of random, weird stuff accumulates in your brain. It’s time to unload some of this stuff.

labelize-it-lgFor example, how do you compete against Ben & Jerry’s naming an ice cream flavor to support Measure 92, the GMO food labeling initiative on November’s ballot. To make matters worse, the Hawthorne Scoop Store in Southeast Portland is doling out free ice cream for 90 minutes to attract voters. I’m not involved on either side of this high-stakes, big-money dog fight, but I could be swayed by free ice cream.

LGF457Speaking of politics, I can’t stop chuckling about the Palin clan being booted out of a snowmobile party in Alaska for brawling. Most people when bored at a party just leave. The Palins thought a fist fight and angry shouting was a better exit. After Track Palin smacked a former boyfriend of his sister and the fight broke out, someone screamed at the Palins, “This isn’t some damned hillbilly reality show.” Sarah Palin was heard yelling, “Don’t you know who I am!” If we only didn’t.

tomomi-sayuda-mask-of-soul-fears-public-speaking-designboom-02All the stress of the political season comes on top of stress at work. A Japanese designer named Tomoni Sayuda has the solution – colorful helmets, which he calls Masks of Soul, that allow someone to assume a new persona. Presumably hiding the top half of a person’s head with a cartoon-like helmet gives a person the license and freedom to become and act like someone else. It would stress me out figuring out what color helmet to choose and who else I could become when I wore it.

X2604-G-06On the other end of the body politic, a prototype for pneumatic trousers has been developed by design students at the Royal College of Art in London that seeks to give people more joint power. The air-powered clothing, which is still in prototype form, involves a series of air bags placed over limbs to provide lift, making it easier for people with damaged legs to walk again. The question is whether you would want to be seen walking in pants filled with air.

On an airplane flight, I read this fascinating story about the etymology of some of our favorite phrases, such as “piss poor.” According to this authoritative-sounding account, tanners 500 years ago used urine to cure hides. They got their supply from poor people who peed in pots for pennies. Some people were too poor to own their own pot to piss in. They were called “piss poor.” Great stuff, except it may not be true. Another report, which I read on the flight back home, said this is just the residue of anti-Catholic screeds. Whatever, we still have people today who qualify as “piss poor” and “without a pot to call their own.”

Thumbing recently through pictures from our Kauai trip earlier this year, I couldn’t help remembering Mark Twain‘s glowing description of Waimea Canyon, which he dubbed the Grand Canyon of the Pacific. Twain called Waimea Canyon a must-see, and he was right, even though his recommendation was counterfeit. He apparently never stepped foot on Kauai and based his sightseeing tip on pictures that he saw.

rush_limbaugh5-620x412No list this would be complete with adding the “reflections” of Rush Limbaugh. His latest musing is that President Obama secretly wants Americans to contract Ebola as punishment for perpetuating slavery. The “evidence” of this presidential vengefulness is the Obama’s reluctance to close the U.S. border to anyone from West Africa – or maybe anywhere in Africa. Nevermind that experts have urged keeping the border open, arguing that closing it could lead to even wider spread of the disease. Of course, facts rarely play a role in Limbaugh’s ramblings. He is what you call a post-fact kind of guy.



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