Category: Humor (page 2 of 26)

Flatten the Curve

Right now we are having a plague throughout the world and in the U.S. (and other places) we are told to help “flatten the curve,” meaning that we should spread the number of people with the sickness out, instead of having them lumped in one place—like in NYC.

I never imagined that anyone who had been to school and helped by the grading curve would want to flatten it. The curve helped me get through a couple of courses in college and I was very happy for it.

The curve that our teachers applied was related to the “bell curve,” a statistical measurement that shows what the expected variation is for any set of data. When the data is plotted on a graph, the line usually shows the shape of a bell or hill and the normal variation will be towards the middle of the hill.

Teachers use the curve in examining their tests by assuming that the scores of the class will form a bell curve, if the test is a good one. When the teacher plots the test scores and, if no one has a high mark, the assumption the teacher makes is that the test was too difficult, and a curve will be applied to adjust the scoring upwards. The teacher does this by adding points to the scores or bumping up one student’s score to 100%, then adding the same number of points to everyone else’s score. There are many ways that the teacher can adjust the curve, including taking the square root of the test percentage and making it a new grade, or standing on one’s head and writing backwards.

Test score curve procedures are said to apply to sick people because we are told that flattening the curve will push them out and make the sickness go away. I never wanted the curve to go away in college. The smart kids were not our friends if they didn’t help us get bumped up in the curve—we were like a flat tire and needed pumping up.

Similarly, we want to know how many people are actually sick, not the average number of people who are not sick but think they may be.

There are other kinds of curves. For example, there are some bad ones on the mountain roads of rural Pennsylvania where I grew up. The early road builders followed goat trails and goats don’t walk or climb in a straight line. Instead of flattening the curves in the road, the engineers tried to make the road straighter. They couldn’t always do this due to rivers, mountains and the determined farmer or hermit who would make the road builders go around them.

There was a very bad curve on a corner near the general store in our community. The natives knew about it but city travelers, out for a drive in the countryside, would not be aware of the curve until it was too late and they ended up in the yard of Clayt Williams, who lived south of the curve. Consequently, his lawn often looked like an off-road mud track. The city drivers would apologize and pay Clayt to have their car towed back to the “main” highway. There was no way to straighten the curve and flattening it would not have helped.

Sometimes mapmakers do flatten the curves and make Interstates and main roads look like they are in a straight line. Without flashing yellow lights, luminous signs and guard rails, the casual driver will believe what he sees on a map. The result is the same as driving into Clayt’s yard.

However, now with GPS and Sandra, the mythical navigator who gives us directions, it is difficult to go astray, although unfortunately Sandra does not warn drivers about curves. She will say, “Turn left on Edgemont Street in 300 yards,” but most drivers are anxious. They will see the street that has a left curve, but it is 100 yards too soon. The curve was flattened, but it was the wrong one.

John the Baptist, like Elijah before him, wanted the roads straight for the Lord to travel. Isaiah reported that they wanted the valleys and potholes filled in as well. They expected this to happen without a GPS or maps. Imagine if that would help by “flattening the curve” in our neighborhood.

Sheltering to help “Flatten the Curve,”
Day 21 and counting (slowly)
Karl and Joice Franklin

A Silent Spring?

In 1962 Rachel Carson published “Silent Spring,” when the robins and other birds stopped singing, due to pesticide poisoning in the environment. It is almost Spring in Central Texas and hopefully the birds will not be silent. But it will be quieter than usual in Waco people are, somewhat reluctantly, taking time out due to COVID-19. To their dismay, Waco residents are going to have to live alone for at least a couple of weeks—perhaps much longer. We may be isolated but it will not be silent: there will the incessant and persistent TV commentators with increasingly bad news; newspapers and magazines will continue to report Covid-19 cases, deaths, and problems with the government; robo-calls will continue and sirens will sound in the distance. On the other hand, we won’t need to jostle for toilet paper (it’s all gone) and hand sanitizers (the shelves are empty), crowded lines at the supermarket (social distancing is in place), or trying to find a parking space somewhere. People, or at least old ones like us, are asked to stay home and actually—we have heard—they have begun to talk to one another!

Of course, it can be a frightful experience. Imagine that you have been married for several years and have hardly had to talk to your spouse—a feat that I have never experienced. In such cases, both may have their individual activities, friends, books, and favorite TV shows. But if you really need someone to talk to and your buddies are sequestered at home with their favorite clubs, bars, and restaurants—or even churches—quarantined, you may need a different plan. You may rent movies, but unless you tolerate violence, cursing, sex and sin, you probably have seen all the “good” ones

You may wait anxiously for the mail and then try not to respond to requests from St. Jude’s, the Salvation Army, 125 different agencies wanting help for the destitute, pictures of old dogs and cats, wounded and paralyzed veterans and, of course, those agencies needing assistance for various body organs. You will have to turn most of requests down and you may then feel cruel, unresponsive, even un-Christian. And you can’t go to Australia or Greenland to get away from it all—no country will let you in, even if you could afford to go—and it is probably not wise to consider cruise ships.

I have found a solution—it will not suit everyone—but it is built on experience. Go to a room where there is no one else, not even a dog or cat, pick up a book and read it. It doesn’t have to be the Bible, but that would be a good place to start. Read for a while and then take notes. Yes, write! Generally, when you read the Bible you will find things that confuse, startle and even challenge you. Write them down, and now comes the most frightening suggestion: show them to someone, your spouse—if you are lucky enough to have one. But don’t just show the comments to the person—ask what he or she thinks.

If you can’t think of something to ask, start with the footnotes in Genesis in any study Bible. Ask if the person knows that the Hebrew words for “man” and “woman” have similar sounds and that the Hebrew words for “ground” and “man” have similar sounds as well. They may say, “so what?” but could possibly generate some interest and it will certainly foster a hard look at you.

Of course, that is the dangerous part: he or she may get interested in the topics and begin to question you about some of your comments. It may get very personal and terrifying, much like when your pastor asked you the names of the 12 disciples or 12 tribes of Israel. You may have to stall for time, which you now have plenty of

This is the fourth day of our self-imposed quarantine and it may turn into a long week. I ask my wife: “Would you like to watch something on TV?” We don’t have cable, so what about “Southern Fried Homicide,” which is one notch above Dr G, the woman who does autopsies, cracking the sternum and ribs with a giant set of hedge clippers. The shows have enough intrigue and blood to keep us clutching one other for comfort. I realize however, this can’t go on for another week or two. We could scratch one another and would soon run out of band aids and can’t go to the store for more.

However, I know that HEB does home deliveries, although we would probably need to order more than band aids. Perhaps we can order frozen dinners and bottled water. Then it will be safe to get back to our TV shows.

On a more serious side, this is time for reflection: I will be 87 next month and Joice will be 89 in May, then on the 26th of May we hope to celebrate our 64th wedding anniversary. We are old and candidates for coronavirus—we also have medical “issues.” Regardless, we are unlikely to die healthy—not many people do! We follow our usual retired custom: we read and pray together each day, thanking God for the day as a gift. We pray and think about our family, our friends, our church, our neighbors, the wounded and the weary, the persecuted and the forgotten, non-believers, even our enemies. We joke, we look at old pictures, we email, we phone our children, we go for walks (the Y is out for now) and do the normal things of life. I write stories (some are funny), I paint pictures (most are funny), I try not to sleep much during the day (that can be funny) and I often recite Psalm 50:14: “Let the giving of thanks be your sacrifice to God and give the Almighty all that you promised.”

We do not lack toilet paper and soap and I admit that I stocked up on ice cream (2 half gallons). Hopefully, it will not be a long nor a too quiet Spring and hummingbirds will soon be here.

Waco coronavirus self-imposed quarantine
Day 4 and counting, March 2020
Karl and Joice Franklin

Diet of Worms and Impeachment

Merry Christmas Gents

Gents: Feliz Navidad

I was thinking of what I might give each of our Bible Study “gents” for Christmas but realized that I was probably too late. Besides, I don’t like to shop, even on-line, Black Friday is now Old Friday, and none of the men, like me, “need anything.”

Nevertheless, the thought plagued me: What would I give these gentlemen, if I could?

I was reminded that when we lived in a remote village in Papua New Guinea many years ago, Joice would play a game with our daughter Karol, whom she home-schooled. We had an old Montgomery Ward catalogue that all of us liked to look through. Sometimes Joice would give it to Karol, saying “Imagine that I gave you $50 to spend and you can buy whatever you like from the catalogue.” Karol would spend hours, looking at toys, games, clothes and record the prices of those she liked until she came up with her $50 quota. It was fun to see what she wanted—but, of course, didn’t get it. Years later, upon reflection, and in tune with current thinking, we realized that we must have damaged her psychologically in some way. However, she doesn’t think so and has vowed not to report us to Homeland Security, the FBI, or the DaySpring church council. This is somewhat comforting because I am currently on the church council.

I decided to play the catalogue game for some of our gents, or Bible Study men. I wanted to be somewhat spiritual, so I opened my Christian Book catalogue, where its banner claims “Everything Christian for less!” Being a retired missionary, I am always looking for a bargain.

The first thing that caught my eye was the “ESV Illuminated Scripture Journals, 19 Volumes, New Testament” marked down from $99.99 to $54.99, a savings of $45. This seemed the ideal gift for Don (I won’t say which Don) because each page of text had a corresponding blank page opposite so that Don could “engage with and reflect on God’s Word.” Some careful examination, however, told me that this would not do: the type point was 11.75, much too small for the aging eyes of either Don. It did have hand-lettered (rather than by foot or elbow) illustrations and a slip-cased softcover but I would have to find something a little easier on the eyes (and mind).

I wondered who of the men might like “Jesus Calling for Christmas,” which includes (hallelujah!) a “joy filled pack” that is overflowing with gifts for the merry and Christ-centered holiday. There is even “12 festive cards with Scripture from 2 Corinthians 4:6 (I didn’t have time to look it up), a CD with selections from Handel’s Messiah,” as well as a cherry red tote with words engraved on it from John 3.16. A long-term Babptis would like that, I thought, so I put Bill’s name beside the catalogue picture. Bill (and Joe) might also appreciate the NKJV American Patriot’s Bible, but it might be more appropriate to imagine giving it to them on Veteran’s day.

This was fun: imaginary buying. I usually sit next to Bob and we share information on books and Bibles. I had introduced him to the One Hour Bible and he had told me about the One Minute Bible. When I get a minute, I am going to have a look at it. Bob, I thought, would like a study Bible. That choice slowed me down considerably: there were so many versions. Would he like The ESV Reformation Study Bible, 2017, Condensed edition or The NKJV Charles F. Stanley Life Principles Bible, Second Edition? The Reformation Bible was in a “more concise form,” portable and “a perfect solution for the on-the-go believer.” Not many of our Bible Study men can be classified as “on-the-go,” so maybe the Stanley Bible was a better idea. It has 30 life principles, 2,500 life lessons, 43,000 cross references, and an unspecified number of “What the Bible Says” articles and “Answers to Life’s Questions.” I’m going to have to think about his imaginary gift Bible more.

The process has taken more time than I imagined and it wouldn’t be prudent to mention all the men’s names and the choices I came up with. There are so many study Bibles: The KJV Ryrie, The NASB Ryrie, the NKJF Full-Color, the NKJV Jeremiah (not the original prophet, but a later TV one), The NIV Jeremiah, the ESV Jeremiah, the ESV MacArthur, the NASB MacArthur, the NLT Swindoll, the NKJV Wiersbe, and so on (and on).

Well, as someone said, “You can’t have everything—where would you put it?” There was one last person that I had to find a Bible for: our teacher Eric, and fortunately I found just the page of selections for him. There it was, or rather there they were: the NASB Hebrew-Greek Key Word Study Bible, The ESV Hebrew-Greek Stud Bible, The KJV Hebrew-Greek Word Study Bible, Sixth Edition and the “new” New English Translation Bible, Full-Notes edition. I dreamed that I would buy all of them for our teacher.

I can’t go on, but I will mention The ESV Large Print Bible for Jim when he can no longer read the screen on his i-phone. (There is also a “super giant print” edition available.)

I couldn’t quit without doing some imaginary shopping for myself. However, I don’t need a Bible, whether for the study of Greek, Hebrew, or Spanish. Also, I don’t need (yet) the super giant-print, wide-margin, or the NRSV New Oxford Annotated Bible with the Apocrypha. I need something more practical, like The Art of Neighboring or The Search for Significance. Then I found what I thought would be just right: Putting an X Through Anxiety and it was only $1.49. My time had not been wasted. It was a good Christmas day of shopping after all.

Karl Franklin
Christmas 2019

A Football Interview

A Football Innerview

The football season has happened upon us and in my views I chanced upon an interview between the well-known sports commentator Sippy Boltcutter, who once played for the Kentucky Frymakers, and Spud (Big Hoss) Spinebreaker, newly recruited left tackle for the Baylor Bears.

Sippy caught up with Spud outside the Big Bottle Brewery in Waco, Texas where this interview took place for WXAKY, Friday the 13th of December, prior to Spud’s leaving to play in the Substitute Splenda bowl game in Dallas the very next day. Some of the commentary has been edited to make sense.

Sippy: Spud, if I may call you that, can you tell us when you first began to play football?

Spud: Mama tells me it was in 2nd grade at the Pushback Primary school near Dallas, but I don’ think so. Daddy gave me a football when I was three years old and said he made my first tackle.

Sippy: I understand that you went to Dunkerville H.S. and played. Was that hard?

Spud: No man, I mean, we were like brothers there and loved each other. We had each other’s backs all the time. I mean we were like right there when we needed.

Sippy: According to my records you graduated from Dunkerville in 2015 after being selected to the All State Head Targeting Team, a recent innovative squad, supported by Jerry Jones.

Spud: Yeah, I mean we the ones, man. Everybody got out of our way. We be big and mean.

Sippy: I understand you got a lot of offers for college scholarships.

Spud: Yea, M&A wanted me bad and UCAL, UTB, ATM and TCY sent their big boys to find me.

Sippy: What made you decide on ATM? What did they offer you that the other schools didn’t?

Spud: Mama told me not to go to any school that offered me a car, house or refrigerator. Baylor didn’t have a car at the time and said that there were rules or something that they had to follow. My daddy was strong on rules, so I took ATM.

Sippy: You mean Baylor didn’t offer you anything?

Spud: Well, they said I didn’t need to take any hard classes—like English or History—and that I could stay in a place off the college campus. They said they’d give me teachers to help me write papers. That sounded good to me, but daddy liked ATM better.

Sippy: So you went to ATM for a while but then what happened?

Spud: One year there and I blew out my knee at a weekend party. The doc needed to cut me and then a lot of rehab.

Sippy: And after that why did you transfer to Baylor?

Spud: I had two buddies—Hubcap Jones and Facemask Wilsox there and they told me to come.

Sippy: what has been the hardest part for you at Baylor?

Spud: I’ve had a lot of trouble learnin’ the bear claw—my fingers and hands are big and just don’t let me do it good. Some of the cheerleaders laughed at me and I may file a complaint.

Sippy: What are you intending to major in?

Spud: Some of my buddies recommend psychology, but I ain’t taking nothin.

Sippy: No cars, houses, refrigerators?

Spud: Nothin—I mean to gradjeate and I ain’t going to jail.

Sippy: Didn’t one of your buddies get arrested for DIU and an accident?

Spud: That was Fenderbender Jones II, but he’s kinda dumb.

Sippy: And what would you like to do once you leave Baylor?

Spud: I wanna sell cars and motorcycles. I got a buddy, Slamdunk Pearson, who does that. He says he makes a lot of money and meets really nice people.

Sippy: Well Spud, we need to wrap it up—our audience can be grateful for the fine athletes that Baylor has been recruiting. The President is planning a party for them.

Spud: I hear she is a real cool Pres.

Sippy: Thanks Spud, and hats off to Baylor and you as a fine scholar athlete.

Spud: Huh?

The end of football season in Baylor
Sick em’ Bears

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