The Great Plotnik

Saturday, June 30, 2012

The Doofus Bar Part Two

So what happened to the original post about the Doofus Bar? Who knows? Google just killed it, which is really funny because it's all about...well, you'll see.

All Apple users know that Apple Stores have Genius Bars. If you have a tech question about your new Gizmotron, you make an appointment, show up, and then the genius comes out, waves his wand filled with Jobs-o-Dust and your problem is solved. On your way out, you buy something made in Shenzen for $30 that you could have bought yourself for $0.99 from the same people in Shenzen who sold it to Apple.

On the plus side, it's a great system, because you get face-to-face with the person who is helping you, unlike trying to fix your Dell oh hah hah hah oh hardy har har.

But if you're NOT a Mac user, you don't realize what is going on every waking minute inside an Apple Store. It is total and complete chaos. If a store the size of the Stonestown Apple Store were selling clothing, there would be two sales ladies employed and one would be in the back folding sweaters. In the Apple Store there are a minimum of fifty blue shirted sales clerks, and each clerk is being asked three questions at once by the hundreds of bug-eyed shoppers. There is a steady parade of shoppers into the store and sales clerks into the back room, where they are force-fed herbal tea and encouraged to listen to Mozart.

So when you take your MacBook Pro into the Genius Bar, and sit down on the little stool, and the blue shirt calls your name, and the genius asks you why you have come in, and you tell him the reason is because your MacBook Pro can't reach the internet anymore, because of the error message (This Computer is using a Self-Assigned IP address and May Not Be Able to Connect to the Internet), he may say "Hmmm," but probably before he can say "Hmmm" he will be assaulted by four customers who don't have an appointment but only have "one little question" and by two sales clerks who wonder if anyone has seen Tyrone?

Sooner or later, the genius will stare at you, and your MacBook Pro, as if to say "who the Hell are you and what are we doing here?" Then he'll push away from his stool and say "let me take your computer into the back room and I'll see what I can find."

This is the equivalent of "Your call is important to us."

When he comes out, the genius at the genius bar may have gotten you onto the internet, but only while you're in the store. As soon as you go home, nothing in your whole house will work, including the furnace.

Apple users: forget the Genius Bar. The Great Plotnik says use the Doofus Bar.

The Doofus Bar is called "Google." You type in "MacBook Pro self-assigned IP address" and you will discover that a hundred people have had the same problem and ten of them wrote in possible solutions. Start with the first one and if that doesn't work do the second one. Keep going until one works.

The geniuses haven't heard about these fixes. But now you have.

In Plotnik's case the solution took four tries but the right one took EXACTLY fifteen seconds. The problem was with the firewall. All Plotnik had to do was go to a particular file (provided by the Beautiful Doofus who wrote in the solution to the Doofus Bar), delete the file with one click, then boot off and boot back up. When the computer booted on again it returned to the default firewall setting automatically and worked perfectly. FIFTEEN SECONDS.

The reason the file had become corrupted was these things happen when your computer has to try to find new equipment or software you have installed, like a NEW IPAD.

NOT your modem has failed. Call Comcast YAHHHHHGGGGGHH.

NOT you need to reinstall your operating system YRHGGGHRRGHHH!

NOT Tyrone. Who's Tyrone?

Friday, June 29, 2012


Brenda's is really, really good. Ducknik found this New Orleans place on Polk Street when she was on jury duty and had been trying to get Plottie back there since then. It's the best NOLA chow outside of NOLA.

Sweet potato pancakes and jambalaya. Mixed oyster/shrimp po'boys and pulled pork. Watermelon iced tea. Sorry, NotThat.  And you ex-NOLA family  members -- if you ever do all get back here again, we've got the place to take you.

( By the way, we apologize to the poor woman in the top picture who the camera caught en Gluttona Flagrante with fork upraised. We'd have photoshopped you out if we knew how.)

Thursday, June 28, 2012

Sadness versus Tragedy

(Thanks to TGP Sports Editor Goo Duggly for this post.)

Sadness Versus Tragedy

 It has to be stated at the outset that I know the difference.

Tragedy is a splinter you can’t ever remove. Tragedy hurts every day, sometimes less, sometimes more. It won’t let you sleep. It chews on your heart. You can’t turn to God because you know either he’s doing this to you on purpose or he couldn’t care less.

Tragedy is a child with leukemia. Tragedy is a mass on your lung. Tragedy is watching your best friend gasping for breath.  Above all, tragedy is a death out of order, before its time.

Sometimes tragedy turns around.. My mother lost her husband very young, but she found another man to love. And when he died, she found a third. She made lemonade out of lemons, and even so, she had old friends, friends who should have known better, who resented her happiness, which she had carved herself out of the tragic wreckage in which she could have chosen to wallow.

So maybe I ought to ask Mom how to stop getting morose when my Dodgers lose so convincingly to the Giants. I know what she’d say – “honey, don’t worry.  They’ll probably win tomorrow.”

She doesn’t know anything about baseball but she knows you can be sad one moment and happier the next. She knows sadness gets to live in the upper deck but tragedy has a box seat, From the boxes you get life. Everything is clear, sharp and pointed. You can’t avoid the obvious. But from up high, in the simply sad seats, you don’t hear the crack of the bat, you don’t see the players’ grimacing, you can’t smell the dirt and the chalk. The feeling comes, and then it’s gone. You’ve got a sense of something important being wrong, but you can get up any time and walk away.

I don’t want to imply that my sadness today at the ballpark carries any weight at all in a world of so much hurt, but by the fifth inning I was gone. I left my seat in the upper deck, where the little cable cars climb halfway to the stars, and started searching for the stairway. I couldn’t take it any more. My heart was heavy.

I paid $57 for that seat, and $10 for a Cha Cha Bowl and $9.75 for a small beer.  But I was ready to leave after the top of the first when Double Play Rivera hit into yet another critical rally killer. By the third inning, when the Giants pitcher threw two wild pitches in a row and on the second one they threw out my base runner out at home, I felt like it was me who had gotten tagged in the head. And when the Giants scored two runs in the bottom of the third I knew we were done for the day. When the only decent player on my team who hadn’t gotten hurt yet this season pulled up lame after a walk, I knew we were done for the year.

I spent ALL THAT MONEY and I couldn’t wait to get the hell out of there. I AM NOTORIOUSLY CHEAP. THIS MAKES NO SENSE.

I love being at the ballpark. But the sadness of losing three in a row to the Giants is just too much for me. I have no proportion. If we win, I feel happy, but just moderately so, in proper measure. But if we lose, THREE in a row, and are SHUT OUT all three – it’s just too much for this little motorboat. I take on water. I could drown in a damp rag.

As I was hurrying down the stairs, one little blueberry bouncing past happy oranges, I heard a roar from back on the field – you can tell what has happened by the timbre of the crowd’s cheers as a runner flies around each base. One sharp, excited cheer, then two, louder than the first, then three, loudest…that was it. Sounded like a triple. I ran down the stairs and out the gate before God could balk in another Giant run.

I didn’t bother to get my hand stamped. I wasn’t coming back.

I ran to the bike park under the stands, tipped the kid a buck and got out of there as fast as my legs would pedal me.

But, c’mon, Dude. What about that beautiful, funky old black iron drawbridge? The Lefty O’Doul Bridge? I love the Lefty O’Doul Bridge. I really do. Why? Because it’s ugly, probably.

So I lazed there with Lefty, leaned against the railing and looked back. A Dodger fan is raised to think the Giants invented cancer and hemorrhoids. Their stadium will be plastic and their hot dogs boiled.

It’s all crap. The flags, the crowd in orange and black, the boats in McCovey Cove, the skyline and the bridge, the puffy white clouds full of runs for the home team and hailstones for the visitors – is there a more beautiful place in the world to watch a baseball game? I don’t think so.

OK, I’m sad but I’ll get over it. It’s pretty slick to live in a city that knows how to build bike lanes.

There's a homeless camp under the 280 and it’s between me and home. I have to ride through it to avoid the huge mess on Cesar Chavez. Jesus God, it smells worse than any garbage dump I have ever imagined. These poor bastards are living lives worse than rats. I've never seen anything like it, or smelled anything like it, not in this country anyway, and this boy has been around the block a few times.

Now, that’s tragic.

And all those yachts in the cove. And Larry Ellison buys Lanai. And the blimp.

I’m already feeling better.

So the first thing I do, riding home on my bicycle, with that blimp overhead, is raise my fist and shout "Kiss my ass, blimp!”

Wednesday, June 27, 2012

What happened to the Doofus Bar?

Did anyone see the blog "The Doofus Bar" this morning? It appears to have disappeared. Which makes perfect sense?

Tuesday, June 26, 2012

America's National Pastime realizing your team is so much worse than their team. Even so, you sit in front of the TV, like the chaplain sitting in the front row at the execution.

Last night's game: The beloved Stiletto City Plotzers vs. the Voltrons from Venezuela, formerly known as the Braindead Caribbeans.

First enemy batter: little roller for a base hit. Next batter: stupid dunker for a base hit. Next batter: harmless ground ball that hits first base and bounces over the first baseman's head.

Next batter: we'll, you don't know, do you, because you already turned off the TV and went out in the backyard.

By the time you turn the TV back on it's 7-0 and it's only the second inning. Final score: 8-0.

But here is the interesting thing: you know it means the Milwaukee Braves are going to win the pennant.

Caution: this explanation can only be understood by baseball fans, or gypsies, since the Braves don't play in Milwaukee any more.

It's simple: the last time the Plotzers lost to the Venezuelans 8-0 was 1958. The great Plotnik was there, so he knows. Plot's first stepdad took him to the afternoon game at the S.C. Coliseum, but they got there late -- in the bottom of the first, after the enemy had scored eight runs in the top of the first.

Plottie remembers spending the entire game convinced it was a scoreboard error and that the game was really tied, since he hadn't seen any of the carnage himself.

This is what true fans do.

So he went out into the garden last night. So he wouldn't have to watch the inevitable.

8-0. The Milwaukee Braves won the pennant that year. Hank Aaron. Eddie Matthews. Joe Adcock (the best sex-change operation name ever?).

It could happen again.

Monday, June 25, 2012

Lousy Blogger App

This Monday is not like other Mondays. The program used to be: grab the coffee, head down to the Cavern of Blogness (maintained by Plottie), turn on the light, power up the Macbook, clean out a hole to sit in and begin the day.

Nah, Baby, no more. Now it's grab the coffee, stroll into the wide and open living room (maintained by Ducknik), take a seat on one of the Zinc chairs, open the IPad cover and get to work, first pausing to listen to the singin' boids.

When he needs a photo, he just presses PHOTO and blingo.

You may not be getting depth but they say your attention span ain't much these days anyway.

It appears that some Apps are better than others. Blogger's stinks. Where's the Preview? Where's the photo editor? Where's the post new blog button? Where's the make this blog more interesting coordinator switch?

Sunday, June 24, 2012

The Future Rev. Dawg

Reverend K. Dawg. That has such a nice ring to it.

Saturday, June 23, 2012

The Worst Voice Mail

Comcast takes the cake. How about this for gall:

Hello. Thanks for calling Comcast, the Number One cable Network in the nation. For tech support press 3.

Thank you. Did you know that the Garbage Brain Hernandez vs Large Balls Johnson fight can be ordered for only $25.95? To order press one. For cable, press five.

Thank you. Comcast is proud to offer state of the art entertainment at prices that won't break the bank! For more information on how to best use your Comcast World, press 1. Are you using a Mac?if so press 17.

Thank you. Movies, special events and more! All on America's Favorite cable network. To kiss our rear ends press 1. Otherwise, current wait times are longer than ... Fifteen minutes.

And on and on. Ad after ad between voice mail options, all of which were unnecessary because the human who finally answered asked all the same questions again anyway.

It's all a joke, right? Some kind of fiendish, alien sight gag?

Friday, June 22, 2012

China or China?

Plotnik can buy an IPad to camera connector for $29 at the Apple store or $1.39 plus shipping from Hong Kong on Amazon. We are conditioned to think it's safer to buy stuff here, but Apple is getting their gear from China too.

He wants a few new 16 gig flash drives. These will store important data, like song files. Is there a quality difference? Will one last longer than another? We don't need forever but 5 or 10 years would be nice.

He always buys cheap audio and video cables -- never had a problem.

What do Plottie's audiophiles and techno geeks do?

Thursday, June 21, 2012

That Curse Again.

The Plotzers play in Oakland today, a day game. Plot figured he'd take the Plotkicycle to Bart, then ride over to the ballpark. But no. You don't do things in Oakland like you do in San Francisco. There is no bicycle parking at A's stadium, the East Bay bicycle coalition doesn't answer their phone, bicycle parking at the Coliseum BART station is on a first-come first-served basis, which probably means first-stolen, and the Throwback Thursday half price tickets turn out to be full price.

Not only that, but if you order your full price half-price tickets online the $20 ticket has a $3.50 convenience fee and a $4.50 processing fee so the $20 ticket turns out to cost 28 bucks. How can it be that the Internet revolution has not made it across the bay to Oakland?

 Worse than that, how can the A's have taken two straight from the mighty mighty Plotzers? Of course Plotnik understands exactly how this happened. "They're in first place," he blogged, that is bragged, a few days ago. For the leader of a nonmajor Western religion, The Great Plotnik should know better. Curses are curses.

 Plotnik's reasoning was simple. This team is not very good. They have no business being in first place. So, talking about them being in first place should have no effect on the Curse, because the Warlocks in charge of The Curse are from Chicago. They know baseball. What he is doing right now, Ye Cursemeisters, is simple mitigation.

Okay. He screwed up. Alright already. Chicago is a great town. Sorry. Sheesh.

Wednesday, June 20, 2012

Learning Curve

It's funny how things work out. Last week Plottie was concerned he was blogging too much, posting embarrassing photos, intruding in his family's private life.

Then he bought an IPad.

Now it takes too long to post anything because he's pecking at tiny Blogger-Ap keys. He has no photos he can get to, unless he walks over to that orchid in the corner and takes its picture.

Pithy thoughts from an IPad? Fawgeddaboudit.

Tuesday, June 19, 2012

A Last Minute Conversion

Perhaps it was the lovely afternoon at old Mission Dolores, which is always a surprise -- how can there be a spot this peaceful smack dab in the middle of the city? For whatever reason, our dear R-Bec has finally converted to the one True Faith.

Monday, June 18, 2012

This is What Happens When You Manage to Stay in First Place

The List of New Converts Grows!

Saturday, June 16, 2012

Only a Quarter Inch

It is a year and a half since The Great R-Bec went off to school. Today she and her sister GG are in town with their dad, Plottie's old pal Brother Street. Each of them grew only a quarter inch on the pantry door since their last visit, so that's probably it.

Bro Streetie has been playing his horn on cruise ships a good part of this year. Plot wishes he had him here more often.

Friday, June 15, 2012


The deal was, Plotnik got a royalty check. Amazingly, since the burgeoning of ITunes, his royalties are once again heading upwards. So now, armed with enough cash to buy the three items he has had on his wish list for who knows how many years, off he went to the Apple Store, and Item One, the IPad 32g, got crossed off his list. The more he uses it, the more he realizes he can do with it.


Next: an electric guitar. Believe it or not, Plotnik, the professional musician, owns neither a piano nor an electric guitar. The piano -- well, we've talked about the reasons he can't buy one. But the electric guitar is just his own cheapness. It costs maybe half an IPad, so what's holding the Plotman up?

Jimmy Street and both his daughters will be up here this weekend, so maybe Jim and Plotnik will head  down to Guitar Center. The guitar Plotnik wishes he'd bought -- the oil can guitar in Capetown -- has become a hipster favorite now, so it's out of sight cash-wise. But Plottie knows what he's looking for -- something very close to BZWS's, only in black, with skulls, crossbones, KILL THE MAN and HAPPINESS IS SMASHING CAPITALISM pasted on the front, along with a photo of Matt Kemp.

We will talk about Item Three after Item Two is in the house. If you're holding your breath, maybe don't.

Thursday, June 14, 2012

Our World

Wow. TGP got himself an IPad yesterday. It's a toy, a powerful one, but a toy. Fun. Cool. Amazing. Useful.

He got it just in time to start reconsidering what blogging, that is, speaking in a public forum about semi-private things--all means. Photos he posts turn up in weird places. On ads, even. His family sometimes objects to being spoken of or having their photos displayed.

Plottie used to disparage those comments, half-laugh them off. He can't do that anymore. It may mean that blogging, which for him has been a treasure, a way to do what he did yesterday, to go back to 2007 and revisit a great trip to NOLA and grab some photos from there, to recall grand moments that he had already forgotten, has become a potential nightmare to others.

He has been able to record certain days of all of Bellybone's life, for example, from her birth forward. But will some of these photos embarrass her later?

He has felt that his creative life belongs to him, in the same way that a song or story he writes is nothing but his view, and his right. He is sensitive to other people. God knows he does not write the half of what he feels, not in a public or any other forum. He is not out to hurt people.

But photos are personal. Photos are not words or thoughts. He will always delete any photo that bothers anybody, but people don't like to ask. And perhaps the public forum has taken us beyond the blogger's personal wishes.

Plotnik used to say that if everybody in the room either hated or loved one of his songs they were probably right. By now, just about everybody he loves has complained about one thing or another in The Great Plotnik. The room, and the world in which we live, just might be beginning to speak.

Wednesday, June 13, 2012

Too Much Water

Last night we watched the last episode of the second season of Treme.

(You sing along on the yellows.)


Water, water
There was too much water
Water, water
There was too much rain
Water, water
There was too much water
Water, water
Down the streets it came

There was a city on the bayou
With a brass band and a choir
The people there were Creole Gumbo
They had a streetcar named Desire
And when the storms rolled in from Cuba
They played ‘em on cornet and tuba
But in ’06 Katrina swamped ‘em
Mudded, flooded, stormed and stomped ‘em
And they were singin’

Water, water
There was too much water
Water, water
There was too much rain
Water, water
There was too much water
Water, water
Down the streets it came

First the mayor spoke, then the governor spoke
When they were done the levees broke
And there in front of the entire nation
The President went on vacation
Now those who could fled the deluge
In Bogalusa and Baton Rouge
But the Lower Ninth Ward
Forgotten, ignored
They were stranded 
When the hurricane landed

Water, water
There was too much water
Water, water
There was too much rain
Water, water
There was too much water
Water, water
Down the streets it came

I close my eyes and the water’s all gone
I close my eyes – we’re back where we belong.
I close my eyes and the water’s all gone 
I close my eyes – we’re back where we belong

And standing on the corner
Near the freeway by Claiborne
I see a young man playing a trombone
Got his hat down for donations
He looks Cajun, he looks cholo
But when he takes his solo
His heart is in his horn 

(Trombone Solo)

Water, water
There was too much water
Water, water
There was too much rain
Water, water
There was too much water
Water, water
Down the streets it came

Now it wasn’t happy, it wasn’t pretty
But it’s hard to kill the Crescent City
We find ourselves in Texarkana
L.A. New York, Houston, Atlanta
But the muskrat always rambles
As the Saints go Marchin’ in
When the water rolls back to Africa
And our lives begin again:

We will never forget
We will never forget
We will never forget
There was too much rain

Water, water, there was too much water
Water, water, down the streets it came

Water, water
There was too much water
Water, water
There was too much rain
Water, water
There was too much water
Water, water
Down the streets it came

Words and Music c2012 by DAK
Cat's Whiskers Music

Tuesday, June 12, 2012

Mama Begonia

One of the best hanging plants is the strawberry begonia. And hardy? Plot and Duck had one in their kitchen window for years. When it got too big, or maybe painting had to be done, it got set out in the backyard and forgotten.

This spring they found it where they'd left it. After 8-10 years it was still growing in its pot, sending out runners, waiting to be dug up and repotted. Which Plot and Duck did, and brought two of the new plants in. The smaller-leafed green plant above is the mother plant, from which...

...all of these babies are growing. Each runner puts on leaves and roots while still connected to Mama (this similiarity to a strawberry plant is what gives it its common name). Ducknik found a muffin tin, put soil into each cup and stuck a dozen baby plants down into the soil. In a month or so the plants will be growing happily in their own cup and we can cut the cord. If anyone needs a really easy to grow, pretty and no-upkeep house plant and has a not-too-sunny window? You know who to call.

Monday, June 11, 2012

Exit Row!

Plotnik didn't even know he was in an exit row. He LOVED the extra space for his feet and was wondering how he had gotten so lucky. He could see the emergency exit in front of him, up there by his shoes, and he could see out of the corner of his eye that a flight attendant was standing next to the row of seats in front of him, and he could also kind of make out that she was droning away in language of the sort that is in the boiler plate contract you never read when you buy a dishwasher or coffee pot, but he was busy reading "The Things They Carried" on Ducknik's Kindle, so he never heard a word she said until "Is this all OK with you, sir?"

He looked up. "Are you talking to me?" he said.

She stared at him. "You are in an exit row."

"This is an exit row? Why isn't the exit next to me instead of next to the row in front of me, then?"


"I thought that was probably the exit row."


"I thought you were probably talking to those guys," he said.


"This here's your cap'n. We bin clared fer tyke-off," said the intercom.

"OK," Plotnik lied. "I heard every word. I agree. I'm in."

This was good enough for her. She walked away. But how many times had she given this useless speech? She was just bored.

Still, if the plane crashed, Plotnik was going to be useless to anybody.

He could have said:

"If this plane goes down, you know, nobody is going to remember one damned word you said. We'll all be busy screaming and vomiting."

He could have said:

"If you really want to get someone's attention, why don't you make sure they're listening and not reading?

He could have said:

"I love having room for my feet, for once. You guys sit in the back and read magazines and tell each other funny stories. We are jammed into seats built in China for Chinese people. How do I get this seat again?"

He could have said:

"Don't get me started about air travel."

At the very least, he could have said:

"I'll try not to scream or vomit."

Sunday, June 10, 2012

Celtics Versus Cowboys?

It's hot out here. Plotnik hadn't been on the Plotkicycle in too long, and he felt it today. But any day is a good day when the Celtics lose the day before. Finally, they can stop whining.

How good should that feel? After all, Plottie's Lakers were eliminated a month ago, so it's a bitter victory to see the Celtics go out too.

The Great Plotnik has taken some time to consider if he hates the Boston Celtics more than the Dallas Cowboys. It's a hard question, because Boston is in Massachusetts, a great town in a state full of American history. Dallas is in Texas, one of America's most pathetic cities, a concrete freeway that should have no exits. And it oozes its mediocrity in a truly slimeball state.

Let's see, Massachusetts has John Adams. Texas has George Bush. Massachusetts has Concord and Lexington. Texas has Crawford.

So it's easy to hate the Cowboys more than the Celtics, but wait a minute: hold on here. Anyone who has been a Laker fan for decades has had his or her heart torn out by Boston 'way more times than Dallas. So numbers-wise, the Celtics come first on the List of Awfulness.

And since Plottie's niece, the South Carolinian once known as Kazakh Desert Princess, is currently in Austin, Texas right now, where Plotnik has sadly never been, he will exclude Austin from the following suggestion: let's call up General Santa Ana's descendants and see if they'd take the whole damned place back. Forget the Alamo. Slide that ol' border right up to the Oklahoma state line.

We'll keep Austin, El Paso and that great barbecue brisket place in Fort Worth. Mis amigos Mexicanos, you can have the rest of it. Whatever there is of the wall, it's yours.

The Dallas Narcotraficantes: Mexico's Team!

Saturday, June 09, 2012

Does This Look Like a Funeral?

The Great Plotnik was so proud of his family yesterday. Cousin Jeff Greenberg, who knew he didn't have much time left, told his family he wanted them to play basketball after his funeral, just like we have done at every family gathering since the beginning of time. No sadness and no big deal.

Do these three look sad, or just beautiful?

Well, of course it's not that easy. First, inside the mortuary, we listened to the Little Bear (in the middle above, and then Jeff's beautiful daughter Elaina ( below), known to you all as Cousin Two Names, give glorious testament to a guy few of us ever really knew. They told it like it was -- nobody's perfect, but every daughter is lucky to be Daddy's Little Girl.

Plotnik listened, and wiped tears from his face and thought: Gee. I hope my kids will say things like this about me some day.

Wayyyyyyyyyyyyyyy into the future.

Plotnik's cousin and Jeff's wife Mother Two Names has always been a rock. She'll have to get used to a quiet house, but she will do it. She's got her two kids and two grandkids to help her through. Yesterday she was unafraid -- to cry or to laugh. She did a lot of both. But that's how things are supposed to go.

And she was able to hug a sweaty Schmekl Plotnik, not an easy thing to do.

Many thoughts went through Plotnik's mind yesterday. One is that you never really know the whole side of anybody. Parents show one side to their children, one to their mate, one to their friends, maybe another to their workmates. You go to someone's funeral and sometimes people give testimonials. Not yesterday. Cousin Two and Little Bear spoke from the soul. Plotnik found himself thinking this:

How do you go to family functions for 35 years with basically the same people -- and know so little about a particular person? Jeff was a quiet guy, and at family parties he was surrounded by us loud guys. Plottie was never able to draw him out -- it was always pleasant but never deep. The only conclusion to be drawn is we both had plenty of time to do something about it and we never did. 

One thing is for sure: Jeff was a good guy. I love his kids. How much more do you need to know?


After the funeral, but before the basketball game, Plot took Mummy P. down the hill, to the shady spot near the trees, where her parents, brother and his wife, as well as The Chief, are buried. Plottie kneeled at the gravestones, said hi to Grandmummy P. and Grandpa Ben, and to Uncle Morrie and Aunt Betty, and to Chiefie. 

That wasn't weird -- he has done this before.

What was weird is that between his grandparents and The Chief is an empty spot, with no marker on it. Mummy P. doesn't see very well, so she ended up standing on that very spot. It went Chiefie (below), Mummy P. (above), Grandma and Grandpa (below).

Someday we'll all be standing here again, if we are lucky enough that the world should turn in its proper order. No out of order kids. No unforeseen disasters that lead to cemeteries.

And Plottie will not forget that sight yesterday -- his Mom standing, with her cane, on top of her spot, looking down, in the heat, and the birds are singing and the grass has been freshly cut and it is clear that Surely Goodness and Mercy Will Follow Me All the Days of My Life.

Thursday, June 07, 2012

A Photo for the Two Names Family

....thought you'd all like to know that John Belushi converted to Dodgerism at the Chicago Airport.

...not that you have a whole lot to laugh about this morning. We hope Cousin Carver Two and Brother Two Names and Cousin Two Names are holding each other up today. Love from us and we'll see you all in a few days.

Tuesday, June 05, 2012


Back in Shmalifornia, the Greats Plotnik and Ducknik are in Stiletto City visiting Mummy P. It was a very long day yesterday, starting with an hour-long bus ride from Providence to Boston's Logan Airport.  Then after a fairly long layover they got on a Southwest plane from Boston to Chicago, laid over a few more hours and took another plane from Chicago to LAX.  They got in at midnight and then found a taxi to take them up to Mummy P.'s house.

The problem was that they had made the mistake of telling Mummy P. in advance that they were coming in late. This meant she was full of anxiety -- apparently she stayed outside on the front lawn for several hours, afraid she would miss them. When they walked in the house at 1am Mummy P. was still up, wondering why it had taken them so long to get there.

But these are small problems. The larger problems -- life and death issues -- are a lot harder to deal with. Plot sends his love out to -- well, they all know who they are.

Monday, June 04, 2012

Strawberry Picking in Portsmouth, RI

A perfect strawberry-picking day, with rain the day before to cool everything off and lots of dry, fresh straw in the rows. The picking season is just starting so each plant is bursting with ripe berries.

Picking berries for pleasure is fun. Picking them when you're getting paid by the pound and the fields are filled with pesticides would be another matter. Plot and Duck hadn't picked strawberries since Cat's Whiskers days. It's a wonderful thing to do -- the sun, the smell of the fruit and the occasional off-the-books-bite.

It took only an hour to harvest two large baskets of berries -- 15 quarts. Plot plunked down $28 bucks and then he, Ducknik and The Great BeezyWeezy headed off to Seekonk, Mass, to buy canning jars and all the paraphernalia.

That's $28 bucks for 15 quarts of berries. (They cost $3.50 per half pint basket at the Snowy Valley Farmer's Market and you don't get to pick them yourself and you have to listen to that lame banjo music and dodge the triple strollers.)

 The sad part was that after trying every big box store in Seekonk (Target, Odd Lots, etc...) to find canning jars and gear, the only place that carried them was Dreaded Walmart. The store was perfectly laid out and they had everything you could want, all on one convenient shelf. Plotnik hates it when the Republicans get it right.

The problem is that you need a whole lot less strawberries than you think to make jam. Probably one- third of the fifteen Q went into making thirteen pints of really tasty strawberry jam, which meant over ten quarts had to be dealt with. Jason came over later in the day with his ice cream freezer and amazing strawberry-buttermilk ice cream took a pint or so more. BZ gave away or froze the rest whole.

It turns out that to freeze strawberries the correct way all you have to do is spread them out one by one in the freezer, after drying them thoroughly (so ice crystals will not collect on their surface), then put them into a zip-loc freezer bag to use later for smoothies or even more ice cream or jam.

And let it be reported here that The Greats Plotnik and Ducknik, whose children still bemoan the fact that they had to grow up eating 'healthy food,' yesterday, Sunday, June 3, 2012, ate burgers, fries, pizza, jam and ice cream, topped off by beer.

In Providence, this is known as 'the bachelor life style.'

Sunday, June 03, 2012


The Chowder Festival in Newport, Rhode Island, attracts enough people to make it fun but not so many that you can't just walk up to each booth to pick up a little cup of various chowders, that is, chowdas. 

The Irish chowda came with a nice smile but too much cream.

Like wine tasting, the first ones leave the finest impression. After twenty or more, your judgement is limited to whether or not it upsets your stomach more or less.

These were the winners in the Clam Division.
 This team would have won the clam division (according to the Plotniks), because they used tarragon in their broth which made it stand out from the others, but the one from the women above was just tastier. Ducknik voted for the Latino guy.

This family was competing in the Special Division. Theirs was the very best the Plotniks tasted, and so they were picked as Best in Show. When Plottie went up to them to tell them he had liked their chowda the very best, they were really happy.

Chowda tastes betta with a cold glass of Dos Equis -- that is, beeuh.