Archive for the ‘this and that’ Category

Introducing My New BFF

Thursday, August 11, 2016, 18:17 EDT Leave a comment

Twitter users know that if you don’t protect your account (i.e. restrict who can see the contents), any other user can see your tweets. I tweet a fair amount of news, current events, and political stuff, so it isn’t unusual that someone I don’t know will like/retweet/reply to one of my tweets or even follow me. But I can’t figure out why, yesterday afternoon, I was followed by the verified account of Toronto Blue Jays outfielder Jose Bautista.

Bautista-follow Bautists-profile

Granted, he isn’t the most discriminating Twitter user when it comes to following people. But that doesn’t explain why he added me to the 774,000 other people whose tweets litter his timeline. Nor does it make it any less fun to be able to say that Jose Bautista follows me on Twitter.

I haven’t been this excited since I got a follow from Wayne Rogers, the (now deceased) actor-turned-investment-strategist who played Trapper John McIntyre on the M*A*S*H TV series.

Categories: this and that

Fun with Flags

Tuesday, August 2, 2016, 18:13 EDT Leave a comment

Olympic_ringsWith the Olympics coming up, I got thinking about all the flags we’ll see in the opening ceremony, among spectators cheering on their teams, and at medal ceremonies. Did you know that the colors of the Olympic rings—blue, yellow, black, green, and red—were chosen because every national flag on the planet contains at least one of those colors. (That factoid prompted the Den Son to state that he’d love to start his own country and give it a solid purple flag. But I digress.)

It has always fascinated me how many flags resemble others in some way. There are very few—the United States, Canada, the United Kingdom, and the former Soviet Union come to mind—that are (or were) almost universally recognized. But what about the tri-color flags? There are tons of those, some vertical stripes, some horizontal stripes, that can be confusing to those who aren’t already familiar with them.

How similar are some national flags? Let’s take a look.

Liberia, Malaysia, and the U.S.A.

Liberia  Malaysia  UnitedStates

Liberia, being a nation founded for the resettlement of freed American and Caribbean slaves, deliberately adopted a flag similar to that of the United States, but with very different symbolism. The Malaysian flag is unrelated to both.

Australia and New Zealand

Australia  NewZealand

The principle differences (though there are others) are that the Australian flag has what’s called the Commonwealth star under the union flag and an extra, smaller star in the Southern Cross.

Honduras, Nicaragua, El Salvador, and Argentina

Honduras  Nicaragua  El Salvador


The three Central American countries’ flags are based on the the flag of the former Federal Republic of Central America, which was itself inspired by the Argentine flag.

France, Ireland, and Italy

France  Ireland  Italy

Tricolors are abundant across the globe, as with these three European flags that all have white in the middle.

Ireland and Ivory Coast

Ireland  IvoryCoast

I’m showing the Irish flag again to compare it to the flag of the Ivory Coast, which is merely a differently proportioned mirror image of the other.

Guinea and Mali

Guinea  Mali

Two more vertical tricolors that also mirror each other vertically.

Indonesia, Monaco, and Poland

Indonesia Monaco Poland

Yes, those really are three different flags. The only differences are the proportion and orientation.

Luxembourg and the Netherlands

Luxembourg  Netherlands

And just to mix things up, here are similar flags that differ only in their shades of blue.

Costa Rica and Thailand

CostaRica Thailand

Some flags are virtually identical, but with colors reversed. The Costa Rican flag predates the Thai flag by almost 11 years, so somebody in Thai government was a copycat.

Cuba and Puerto Rico

Cuba  PuertoRico

Something I once learned: Don’t ever confuse these two flags when talking to a Puerto Rican.

Iceland and Norway

Iceland  Norway

Iceland was governed by Norway for many centuries, so it isn’t a surprise that its flag was based on Norway’s.

Denmark, Finland, and Sweden

Denmark  Finland  Sweden

Like Iceland and Norway, these Scandinavian countries do love their Nordic cross. I can easily identify the Danish and Swedish flags, but for some reason the Finnish flag always stumps me.

Bahrain and Qatar

Bahrain  Qatar

Prior to 2002, when Bahrain reduced the number of points on its flag, it looked even more like the Qatari flag.

Russia, Slovakia, and Slovenia

Russia  Slovakia  Slovenia

Then there are countries whose flags look look like someone else’s, with something new dropped onto the middle, as appears to be the case with Slovakia and Slovenia. For the record, I always get those two confused just because of their names; the flags don’t help.

Mali and Senegal

Mali  Senegal

I’m pointing out Mali again to show it next to Senegal. These countries were both part of the short-lived Mali Federation, whose flag was a version of French Sudan’s, but using the colors of the Pan-Africanist movement.

Romania and Moldova

Romania  Moldova

These two nations share cultural, historical, and geo-political ties, so it isn’t surprising that the Moldovan flag is based on that of Romania.

Italy and Mexico

Italy  Mexico

There are no similar ties, however, between Italy and Mexico.

The Netherlands and Paraguay

Netherlands  Paraguay

Nor are there between the Netherlands and Paraguay. In fact, the latter’s flag was based on the colors of the French flag.

I could go on and on, but I got tired of downloading flag images. Can you find similarities in other national flags?

Categories: this and that

Fun with Numbers, Again

Wednesday, December 11, 2013, 14:15 EDT Leave a comment
Categories: this and that

Fun with Numbers

Wednesday, December 11, 2013, 09:11 EDT Leave a comment
Categories: this and that

Fun with Numbers, Continued

Tuesday, November 12, 2013, 14:15 EDT Leave a comment
Categories: this and that

Fun with Numbers

Tuesday, November 12, 2013, 09:10 EDT Leave a comment
Categories: this and that

Don’t Know Why

Saturday, October 12, 2013, 05:42 EDT Leave a comment

I used to laugh at people, usually of middle age or older, who swore off caffeine after 3pm. “I can’t have that Snapple/Coke/second cup of coffee or I’ll be awake all night.” I thought it was all in their heads: if they dwelled on it like that, of course they’d be awake all night. Besides, I used to consume ridiculous amounts of caffeine (before my doctor told me to cut waaaay back for medical reasons) and I always slept like a baby.

Now I’m lying in bed, less than two hours before sunrise, having been awake since about 2:30am and not knowing why. Then I remembered the two+ cans of Coke I had before/during/after supper last night at my father’s day-after-birthday dinner. It was as if a giant cosmic finger pointed itself at me and said, “Aha!” Our bodies change as we age and crap like that starts to happen, apparently even to me. Though I don’t understand the physiological reason, it’s nice to know there is one. The universe feels more orderly when I know why.

I believe that everything has a reason. For every effect, there is a cause. I’m not talking about great philosophical questions (Google “Ellen Degeneres Phone Call to God” for a humorous take). I’m talking about something more basic, something simple like a rattle in my car caused by something loose. And when I can’t find it, it’s annoying as hell.

Read more…

Categories: this and that

Calendar Coincidences

Thursday, October 10, 2013, 19:20 EDT Leave a comment

CalendarIf you read my previous post, you know that today is the 45th anniversary of my uncle’s death. It is also one of several days on which I ponder the many days on my family calendar that mark multiple events. Apropos of Uncle Nicky:

  • The day he died was also his brother-in-law’s—my father’s—birthday.
  • Janet, Uncle Nicky’s fiance, was born on my maternal grandmother’s birthday.

There are several other shared dates on my mother’s side of the family, including:

  • Cousin Joe’s birth on my mother’s birthday.
  • Cousin Linda’s birth on cousin Rob’s birthday.
  • Cousin Tricia’s birth on cousin Laura’s birthday.
  • My son’s birth on cousin Sally’s birthday.

And that isn’t even including the near-misses, like Uncle Nicky’s birth the day after my mother’s birthday and his namesake cousin Nicky’s birth the day after my brother’s birthday.

On Dad’s side, relatives tend to die on holidays. For example:

  • My great-grandfather died on New Year’s Eve.
  • My grandfather died on Independence Day.
  • My great-aunt died on Thanksgiving.
  • My great-grandmother died on St. Patrick’s Day.
  • My brother died on the second anniversary of the Apollo 11 lunar landing (OK, not a holiday, but a significant historical date nonetheless).

So on Ma’s side, people tend to be born on other relatives’ birthdays, and on Dad’s side, people tend to die on holidays. But one person mixed it up a little:

  • My paternal grandmother was born on Halloween and died on my sister-in-law’s birthday.

Finally, though this wasn’t by chance, my parents were married on my maternal grandmother and almost-aunt’s birthday.

With only 365 or 366 days in any given year, it isn’t unusual that most people would observe some such synchronism among those they know. But I’m not sure I’ve ever known another family with so much of it.

Categories: family, this and that

Happy Birthday. Mind Blown.

Monday, July 15, 2013, 15:28 EDT Leave a comment

Last Friday was your humble blogger’s birthday. I’ll pause for a minute while you sing a belated “Happy Birthday” to me.

. . .

Why, thank you very much, that was lovely.

I got an unexpected birthday gift that day. I thought it would be a good idea to get my driver’s license renewed before the end of the day, since it expired at midnight. So I went to Google to look up the web site for the Massachusetts Registry of Motor Vehicles because, apparently, URL is too complicated for my aging brain to retain. When I got to Google’s main page, I saw this:

Google search page, July 12, 2013

And I thought, facetiously, “Well isn’t it nice of Google to put up a special doodle just for my birthday!” Then I scrolled over the doodle to see whom it was really for, since several famous people were born on the same date as I was (among them Bill Cosby, Richard Simmons, Henry David Thoreau, and possibly even Julius Caesar).

When I hovered the mouse pointer over the doodle, what to my wondering eyes should appear but a most unexpected result:

Google search page, July 12, 2013, mouse over

My vision isn’t what it used to be (and it was already crappy by the time I was in elementary school) so I grabbed my reading glasses:

Google doodle, July 12, 2013, detail

It took a couple of seconds to realize that I was logged in to Google and they obviously have some clever macro that changes the “Google” graphic on the date listed on your profile as your birthday. Apparently, they’ve been doing this for at least a couple of years, but I hadn’t noticed it before.

Categories: technology, this and that

Hey Den Mother, Where You At?

Friday, March 22, 2013, 10:20 EDT Leave a comment

Sorry for seeming to break my promise to blog more. Generally, my most productive blogging time is on my lunch break or at the tail end of the work day just before I go home. Unfortunately, the itty bitty brains that run our IT department have decided that the functionality of internet browsers on our office computers should mimic that of Netscape Navigator, circa 2002. In other words, the updated web version of WordPress, on which I publish and host this blog, won’t run on my work computer. WordPress has a pretty good BlackBerry app, but it isn’t easy to insert and format images. And by the time I get home in the evening, I either face a to-do list a mile long or am just too tired to put a coherent sentence together.

But that doesn’t mean I don’t have a steady stream of blog topics at the ready at the aforesaid lunchtime and end-of-workday periods. So if it’s alright with you, I’ll do more text-only posts. Those of you who prefer the pictures will have to be patient.

Categories: this and that