Category: Humor (page 1 of 24)

Moon Watching

You have undoubtedly heard of “moon-lighting,” but have you heard of “moon watching”? I just received the “Astronomy and Astrology Almanac” (The Old Farmer’s Almanac) and there is information that help you if you want to moon watch

Every month of the year has a moon name associated with it—for example, August is the “Full Sturgeon Moon” and November is the “Full Beaver Moon.” However, I’ll write about the “Full Harvest Moon,” which takes place in September, the very month our Bible study begins.

This is technical, but should be known: the Harvest Moon “floats to the right of Jupiter on the 5th, left of Jupiter on the 6th, right of Saturn on the 7th and left of Saturn on the 8th.” However, the really “challenging” part of moon watching occurs on the 28th when you can see (if you are looking) a very thin crescent Moon low in the west after sunset. It forms a triangle with Mercury and Venus and helps Autumn to begin with an astronomical event on the 23rd.

I grew up on a farm and heard about the Harvest Moon because it reportedly provided the best light to complete the harvest. Some of the farmers called it the Full Corn Moon or the Barley Moon, but not where I lived because we never harvested barley and the corn was all shucked (only a farmer will know that word) by August.

Here are some trivial points about the September moon: the 17th and the 22nd are the best days to quit smoking; the 16th and 17th are favored for canning, pickling or making sauerkraut; the best days to color your hair or cut it to discourage growth are the 21st and 22nd—after you quit smoking. If you want to start a project, do it on the 2nd and try to finish it by the 29th. However, if things go poorly, the 6th through the 8th are the best dates for demolishing it.

If you want to purchase an animal in September—which includes dogs, but not cats—any day between the 26th and 30th will line you up correctly with the moon. There is no good day to purchase a cat. (As my neighbor’s bumper sticker said: “So many cats, so few recipes.”)

There are many more important September days listed in the Almanac: the best days to get married, travel for pleasure, ask for a loan, buy a home, move, destroy pests and weed, pick fruit, begin logging, and so on. It seems like there is a time for everything under the sun in September.

There is more—of course—in the Almanac. One that interested me was to examine the animal signs of the Chinese zodiac. These follow a 12-year cycle and are always used in the same sequence—something like the church calendar. Here I examine only those animals that concern us for September and the results were surprising (to me)—the animal that can help us most in September is the pig or boar. They are “gallant and noble” and will remain at our side as friends. They are compatible with the rabbit and sheep, but their opposite is the snake. In case you wondered, next year is the year of the rat and 2021 is the year of the ox or buffalo (last year was the year of the dog).

There is much more to learn about moons: for example, the idea of a “blue moon” originated in Native American folklore and only got into the media because of a mistake in an astronomy magazine. The wonderful thing about the blue moon is that it provides a second full moon as well. Each year has a season and typically there are three full moons in each, but if a season has four full moons the third one can be called a “blue Moon,” so it may also be a reasonable time to “feel blue.”

There is also a “Black Moon” and, as you may have guessed, it refers to a month when there is no full moon. Fortunately, for us, that is not in September.

What about the “Supermoon”? It is a moon that “is at the point in its orbit closest to the Earth.” A full-fledged astronomer will use the terms (I am not making this up) “perigee syzygy” or “perigee full Moon.” Supermoms may perform their work best on Supermoons.

One of the televangelists, best left unnamed, referred to a “Blood Moon” and wrote a book about the phenomenon, later made into a movie called “Four Blood Moons.” The Blood Moon is supposed to be a warning from God and occurs as a lunar eclipse in sync with Jewish Holidays that were significant warnings to the Jewish people. His book “will take you on a simple historical and prophetic journey that will enlighten you as to why we may be living in one of the most important years in history, 2014-2015.” There is now a second, updated, edition.

Moon events may comprise “lunar events,” the time when lunatics most characteristically make their appearance. The word lunatic is derived from the Latin word for moon, so it “makes sense” that the two should be related. However, it turns out that there is no correlation between strange behavior and full moons, although people in emergency rooms and maternity wards see it differently and characterize the full moon as “a harbinger of chaos.”

Remember the wild things that happened in your lives under a full moon, such as getting engaged? The moon is indeed an inspiration to lovers and poets. But, in closing, remember the quotation of Emmanuel G. Mesthene, who wrote “Technological change: its impact on man and society”:

“Ten years ago the Moon was an inspiration to poets and an opportunity for lovers. Ten years from now it will be just another airport.”

Ω
[September 2019]

Obituaries in the Waco Herald-Tribune

My wife is an avid obituary reader, mainly to make sure that neither of us are mentioned. Judging by the looks of those who have “passed away,” we might not recognize ourselves. The following are samples from the Waco Tribune-Herald.

This week the paper has pictures of Baptists, Catholics, and Lutherans. Baptists seem to be the most prevalent but occasionally there is the picture of an outright pagan or atheist. Veterans in uniform are quite common.

Sometimes the departed are “surrounded by family,” hopefully without negative consequences. Some have so many relatives that asphyxiation would surely occur if all the family were there, prior to death.

Most of the deceased are going to heaven, or so we are told. PHJ (not her real initials) always wanted to visit Italy and see all the beautiful paintings. She never did, but the obituary suggested that “We think she did that on the way to heaven.” Perhaps there are no paintings in heaven, so she needed to stop in Italy.

With the death of PL, “Heaven has gained a special angel.” Pure speculation, of course, but a nice thought—which is what obituaries are supposed to convey. HL, on the other hand, simply “joined his heavenly Father.” Fittingly, it was on the fourth of July and occurred amidst fireworks.

I don’t know about PM going to heaven because she was “an avid bridge and polka player.’ in addition she was a sorority member, homemaker, United church member and worked as an Avon Lady. She did have the “companionship of several dogs, including Barney and Clyde and Lucy,” who—depending on one’s theology— may meet her in heaven some day.

About HC: “When she was finished, she was taking shorthand at 230 words a minute and typing over 100 words a minute.” I think that means when she finished college, not life here on earth. We don’t know, but those skills may be transferable in heaven.

Usually the “survivors” are listed: sons, daughters, in-laws, out-laws, grandchildren, great grandchildren, step-sons and daughters, and even relatives who are beyond and above. Also mentioned are spouses, cousins, best friends, fishing partners, and sometimes a favorite dog or prize bull as well. Most common the “love of his/her life” is left behind (even as the spirit of the corpse goes forward).

People are often not buried anymore—they are “interred” at the local Grace Gardens, the Peaceful Home cemetery, the Soft Cloud Sanctuary, or the Memorial Park. Some people are cremated, which brings down the cost considerably because steel and concrete vaults are not ideal for burning. Instead, a simple cardboard or pine box is purchased, which burn easily.

EM learned how to “deinstitutionalize people with disabilities” and MG hand-picked cotton in fields (where else?), worked at cleaners and cafeterias and did housekeeping. Still, she lived to be 96 and had 12 grandchildren, 12 great-grandchildren and 4 great-greats! She must have been some cotton picker.

The photos of veterans are often included in obituaries: DJA looks pretty chipper for a 96 year old and was a flight officer and in the military for 35 years. Sometimes an old veteran will allow their current photo on the obit page, but not often. Even veterans aren’t supposed to look old when they die, so an early military photo is included in the obit.

EFM will be remembered for being a devoted mother, grandmother and for her love and devotion to God, family and friends. She was 85 and a Baptist and had been married 67 years—pretty good, even for a Baptist!

HM died at a relatively young age and while attending a family reunion. He enjoyed “fishing, camping, hunting, playing golf, gambling and grilling. It was probably the grilled hot dogs that got him at the end.

HB bought and sold cattle “all over the U.S. and Mexico for over 50 years,” and was “a devoted Aggie and a member of the Dairy Association and the 12th Man Club.” He went to A&M games until his vision failed. That would not have mattered if he had been attending a game of the Cowboys.

ESR was a “die-hard Texan,” shown by the fact that she lived for 96 years—proving that it must have been hard for her to die.

MMM was 84 when she died and there was a Rosary and Mass recited for her. She “enjoyed working in her flower garden, camping, embroidering and taking gambling trips to Louisiana.”

CRJ was Chaplain in the army who, at the time of his death, “was surrounded by his loving wife of 65 years.” (She must have been a big woman!) CRJ pastored his first church at the age of 18, attended seminary, was ordained, and then completed 23 years of military service. He was weighed down with medals and awards and, upon retirement, tended more than 1,000 rose bushes “with great care.” His wife of 65 years lives on, surrounded by roses.

LSR was a Baptist who “grew up on Live Oak Street” with some siblings and, we hope, in a house. There are, of course street-people in Waco, but they don’t live on the street. We know LSR had a home because “she filled the home with both music she wrote and worship songs.” She must have had a strong back as well because she and her husband “carried Bibles into Eastern Block countries under communist control.” She had a daughter and then “almost immediately thereafter” (but we presume at least 9 months) gave birth to her only son.

Those who have cared for the departed often thank the nurses and doctors, hospice, Parkinson’s Foundation, the Comfort Dog Ministry, St. Jude’s Children’s Research Hospital, Alzheimer’s Association, various temples and churches, members of the family and, once in a while, even the pastor or priest.

Summing it up for the week: all the customers were good looking, had high IQs, went to Baylor and wished to be Baptists.

Donkeys and Elephants

Donkeys and Elephants: An Allegory

I had a vision today—not a dream because it was broad daylight—and it was all about animals. Two animals stood out amongst the spectacle: a donkey, with a greyish type of hide that often looked almost blue in the twilight. The elephant, who had skin that shone like the mid-morning sun, but turned to an almost blueish tint toward evening. In fact, in the evening and despite their size, it was sometimes difficult to tell them apart—until they started talking. For you see, in my vision all animals talked, and there were many of them. There seemed to be an animal Kingdom and their language, I learned, was called “Gibberish.”

The donkey had an enormous set of teeth, a kind of perpetual smile, and was waving an American flag with its tail. The elephant had mammoth ears and it too was waving an American flag, but with its trunk. Both were clearly patriotic. They were part of a vast animal Kingdom that was divided into 50 animal zones. Some of the zones were heavily populated, with great clusters of nests and caves. I could see that sometimes within a particular zone fish could be found in schools, but  they take no notice of donkeys or elephants. I also saw other animals out “marking” their territories.

As I was taking in more of the vision, a monkey climbed on my back and began to tell me things about the Kingdom: “There are at least three parts to our animal Kingdom: The first consists of the animals who make the laws, for we are law-abiding animals; the second are the animals who decide what the laws mean, for most are not transparent; and the third are the ones—and they are all birds—who oversee and manage all of us. There may be a fourth part to the Kingdom, but no one is sure.”

“Who are the animals who make the laws?” I asked, rather timidly. “It is fairly complicated,” answered the monkey. There are actually two sheds for such animals: the first is called the Assembly of Animals and the second simply the Collection of Animals. There are 100 who Assemble and 435 who Collect and there is a great divide between them. But that is not all: those who assemble and those who collect have animals who speak for them.”

“Let me guess,” I replied. “That big donkey I saw speaks for the one group and the elephant for the other group.” “Not exactly,” said the monkey. “Sometimes lesser animals—deer, bear, woodchucks, dogs, cats, even weasels or skunks will try to speak—often at once. Because of the confusion there is a large water buffalo who stands at a table between the two groups and, by pointing its horn to the left or right, it determines who can speak.”

I then noticed something else: hundreds, perhaps thousands of cockroaches, were running around among all the animals in the sheds. “What are those cockroaches doing?” I mumbled. “They are giving counsel to the animals,” replied the monkey. “For example, some animals would like to preserve the passenger pigeon, the American bison and the eastern timber wolf. Others say, ‘no, get rid of them all so we can picnic in peace.’ The cockroaches tell them what is wise and what is not wise. For example, some rabbits wanted to outlaw slingshots because so many are killed each year. But the cockroaches assured the rabbits not to worry because they multiply rapidly.  In another famous case, some animals complained that turtle’s eggs were abandoned or eaten and wanted laws against it. However, the wiser animals pointed out that is was up to the turtle to protect or destroy its eggs—no one should instruct a turtle when or where to lay an egg.” The monkey continued: “Cockroaches are necessary for the running of the animal Kingdom, and were it not for them there would be no laws passed.”

The later Kingdom branch, I found, was ruled by a giant Golden Eagle, one that had an enormous flock of feathers at the crown of its head, protruding slightly to the right, then continued to its tail. It was obviously in charge and surrounded by a number of vultures, as well as a harpy eagle and common buzzards.

I could see that there were 9 Supreme judges, full of wisdom. One of them could hardly hold its head up and was kept awake by side owls. The Supreme owls had their own perches and over the years decided issues for the Kingdom, primarily because of their binocular vision, binaural hearing and sharp talons.

The monkey then asked me if I had noticed the donkey and the elephant. I had, of course, but now I listened to them more closely. The donkey was explaining why additional animals should be let into the Kingdom, including additional spiders, scorpions, poisonous snakes and rabbits. The elephant was arguing that such vermin were the scourge of the Kingdom and should be killed. The Golden Eagle wanted a large rabbit fence built—from sea to shining sea—and intruders killed, either by execution in a large frying pan or by the sterile injection of battery acid.

As I listened, the elephant seemed more interested in health and the economy: “These days it is hard for the average weasel or rat to find a job or to pay for having a loose tooth repaired. Nevertheless, we must find ways to make them happy, perhaps by leaving scraps of food around the Kingdom sheds will help keep them at bay and quiet.”

The monkey admitted that there were problems in the Kingdom: It said that the deer and antelope were always at play and never working. They were becoming a nuisance and the animal Kingdom, but they needed help. The cockroaches suggested that the Kingdom needed laws to allow all beasts to sniff clover and munch on wild mushrooms. But in the end, the animal disease specialists thought it would be more “humane” to set up shelters so they could discuss their problems with the canary consultants.

My vision was beginning to fade—it was close to 8 in the evening and many of the animals were looking for holes in the ground, nests in the trees, or caves in the hills. Even the monkey had gotten off my back and was chomping on some peanuts a squirrel had given him.

“How thoughtful and considerate,” I thought. Although the monkey was an outsider to the animal Kingdom, an insider was helping it. However, the donkey and elephant were eyeing the monkey suspiciously.

“I know that all animals are smart,” said the donkey. “Yes,” said the elephant. “But some of us are smarter than others.” Both agreed that intelligence was not a measure of monkeys.

Post Election Day
November 7, 2018

My Blurred Dream

When I sometimes close my eyes (which one must) and dream (in June 2019), I see linguists at work in heaven [think Hebrews 12:1,2]:

  • Ken Pike is writing and reciting poetry
  • Darlene Bee is interpreting his poetry
  • Sarah Gudshinsky is teaching little angels to read
  • Bill Merrifield is charting the genealogy of a group of angels
  • Dick Pittman is acting out Bible stories
  • Velma Pickett and Ben Elson are sending grammatical insights to SIL earthlings
  • John Bendor-Samuel is finishing up his history of African linguistics
  • Des Derbyshire is lecturing fallen angels on ergativity
  • Frank Robbins is demonstrating Chinantec nasals to an angel that frequents Mexico
  • John Beekman and Millie Larson are on volume 10 of “Meaning Based Angeliconism”
  • Dave Thomas is singing loudly and without hesitation
  • Phil Staalsen is explaining to Gabriel the difference between pidgin and creole languages
  • Bob Longacre is lecturing in Hebrew to a group of seraphim
  • Clyde Whitby is making footstools for some elders; smaller ones for minor prophets
  • Howard McKaughan is playing volleyball with some tall angels
  • Vida Chenoweth is transcribing the music of fallen angels
  • Eunice Pike is checking the tone patterns on a couple of cherubim’s harps
  • Uncle Cam is ticking off translated languages in a gold plated Ethnologue
  • Jim Parlier is helping an angel repair its wing

And watching from the wings is Jesus, who is laughing and sighs, “Didn’t I tell them that heaven would take them to unexplored depths of love and creativity? They are really enjoying what they are doing. And even the residue will be fun to explore.”

Off in the distance on an immense meadow of cushioned grass 237 Jaars pilots are playing with their toy airplanes.

Nearby 453 IT specialists are busy trying to hack the devil’s main airway.

Waiting in line are Karl Franklin, Ken Gregerson, Brian Schrag, Tom Headland, Elinor Abbot, Katy Barnwell, Joe Grimes, Bernie May and a host of others. Jesus has some very enjoyable language related tasks for them as well.

Oh yes, far off in the distance and beyond a barely recognizable chasm are Dan Everitt, Ger Reesink and some of their friends. They can’t believe what they are seeing.

Relics and Things Like That

 

Come along with me to Heaven for an imaginary visit: it is now the “year” 2050 and I have been here quite a while and, although we don’t count “years” in the heavens, I use them as reference point for mere “earthlings.”

I have been watching—whenever I am off-duty from polishing harps and clanging cymbals—some of the churches down there in Waco. One, in particular, is of interest: The DaySpring Church, near Lake Waco. Yes, the lake is still there, although difficult to make out clearly from Heaven because of all the discarded HEB plastic bags, dead fish and rotting boats.

About the “year” 2035, an unusual phenomenon occurred at DaySpring: a small cigar-shaped box was place in the narthex, just underneath a large painting of an oak tree. Inside the box was the right and left big toe knuckles of two former pastors, with their names engraved on the box and part of Romans 10:15 “How beautiful are the feet of those….” The names of the pastors were Saint Erickson and Saint Burlikson, although it is not our heavenly intention to draw attention or lend homage to any relics down there.

However, we must be truthful: upon entering the sanctuary, parishioners were allowed (some would say encouraged) to touch the box or bow slightly before it. It was not done by everyone—indeed, some people were inwardly exasperated that the box was in the narthex and not in the chapel, where other relics and trinkets were kept.

For in the chapel was one of St. Sid’s shoes, the right one, which he always used to tap out his offertory pieces on the piano. Also, hanging on the wall was the wand that one of the music directors had used to direct the choir. It was made of ivory and had been carved with great precision by the former owners of the “Silos.” I should also mention the cane and walker that had been used by an ancient and well-respected member of the congregation. These hung on the wall of the chapel, where once a cross had been. Just why this was done is not clear, even to us in Heaven, but it seems that the cane represented Leviticus 27:32, where every tenth animal passed under the shepherd’s rod and the walker symbolized the chariots that were submerged in the Red Sea.

To the right was a large glass enclosed diorama of various ancient, but sacred items: the ukulele once played by St Dale of Baroon, a hymn book opened to page 368 (or 563, the pages were faded and there were arguments about it every Sunday), a microphone, once spoken into by the head of the Baptist Convention, a King James Bible (autographed by President George Bush of Crawford, Texas), a pressed bluebonnet (planted by Lady Bird), a piece of sod from the original parking lot.

The people still drank coffee, especially on Sunday mornings, and a large wooden carved coffee mug, gifted originally by a St. Harvison, who once held the record for the most cups (mugs) of coffee consumed during a Sunday sermon.

Near the children’s Sunday school rooms—and there seemed to be dozens of them—was a collection of pencils that St. Joel had used in his sketches. Children were encouraged to draw with them and at least one such child had become a famous artist. The pencils were not magical, simply inspirational.

The pieces in the chapel were well-preserved and taken to the baptismal pool once a year for a ceremonial cleansing—a simple yet sacred act.

Within the sanctuary the “Seven Stations of the Cross” had been replaced by “The Seven Seasons of Texas,” with pictures of bluebonnets, football teams and pizza parlors.

I also noticed the “Bell Tower,” a modest edifice that of course had a bell in it, but also had inscribed the names of all the parishioners who had died. There were so many names that it was impossible to hear the bell ring, some names larger than others, but I was assured that it had nothing to do with the amount of their regular tithes or offerings.

Near the entrance to the Church on Renewal Road was a flashing neon sign that said, “No parking near the oak trees” and “Please give way to the handicapped.”

I was quite amazed at what I had seen and decided to question some of the former church members. I quickly found a wise person, a former Church Council member it turned out, and asked: Is DaySpring still a Baptist church? Why do they have relics and assorted religious stuff? Don’t they know what the Bible says about idols?

The wise person—a venerated Texan—spoke slowly and with a decided drawl. “We-all,” he said, “We Babdists had some larnin’ to do, so we invited some of those Katlicks for a meetin or two. They showed us that it ain’t rong to look at those things and remember other things.”

We don’t argue in Heaven and we certainly don’t discuss relics and things, (or one’s logic) so I let it go at that. But I will be keeping my eye on that part of Waco in the future. Lots of things start out like simple stories and become part of the local religious lore.

Even Baptists can leave the narrow Renewal Way.

Karl Franklin
April, 2019
Upon hearing a Bible study discussion

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