Fandango’s Friday Flashback — February 28

Wouldn’t you like to expose your newer readers to some of you earlier posts that they might never have seen? Or remind your long term followers of posts that they might not remember? Each Friday I will publish a post I wrote on this exact date in a previous year.

How about you? Why don’t you reach back into your own archives and highlight a post that you wrote on this very date in a previous year? You can repost your Friday Flashback post on your blog and pingback to this post. Or you can just write a comment below with a link to the post you selected.

If you’ve been blogging for less than a year, go ahead and choose a post that you previously published on this day (the 28th) of any month within the past year and link to that post in a comment.


This was originally posted on February 28, 2010 in my old blog.

Planes, Trains, and Automobiles

003DA43D-F8A3-4574-8C38-E7B5EBBF6B2FNo, I’m not talking about the John Hughes comedy with Steve Martin and John Candy. I’m talking about my escape from New York. And no, it’s not about the John Carpenter sci-fi film starring Kurt Russell, either. Jeez, talk about a one-track mind. You gotta get off this movie kick.

What I am talking about is my getting out of midtown Manhattan after it was blanketed by a major winter storm while I was there attending a conference.

I flew to New York on Wednesday night, which was a bit of an adventure in and of itself, and was supposed to fly back to Boston on Friday afternoon. But with around a foot of snow accumulating between Thursday morning and Friday afternoon, my return flight from LaGuardia was canceled. Fortunately, the travel agent was able to book me on the Amtrak Acela Express train out of New York’s Penn Station to Boston’s South Station. Hurray! I was able to escape from New York.

There was one complication, though. My car was parked at Logan airport. So once I got to the train station in Boston, I needed to grab a cab to get me to Logan, where I retrieved my car and drove home, arriving about seven hours later than planned.

34960E02-3FFB-4F5B-B8D6-37F6FDF970EAOkay, my planes, trains, and automobiles adventure was not quite as entertaining or funny as was that of Steve Martin and John Candy. Nor was my escape from New York as harrowing or exciting as was that of Kurt Russell, despite a closed airport and canceled flights. But it was my adventure, and I have so few of them in my life that I felt compelled to share this one with you.

Fandango’s Friday Flashback — February 21

Wouldn’t you like to expose your newer readers to some of you earlier posts that they might never have seen? Or remind your long term followers of posts that they might not remember? Each Friday I will publish a post I wrote on this exact date in a previous year.

How about you? Why don’t you reach back into your own archives and highlight a post that you wrote on this very date in a previous year? You can repost your Friday Flashback post on your blog and pingback to this post. Or you can just write a comment below with a link to the post you selected.

If you’ve been blogging for less than a year, go ahead and choose a post that you previously published on this day (the 21st) of any month within the past year and link to that post in a comment.


This was originally posted on February 21, 2014 in my old blog.

Peek, Peak, Pique

0B7620B3-5819-4D83-B71F-331FE95F7BA5You may be wondering what a malapropism is. It’s the use of an incorrect word in place of a word with a similar sound, resulting in a nonsensical, often humorous utterance. For example, someone who is always upbeat might describe himself as being an “internal optimist,” when he means “eternal optimist.” Or a skillful, innovative person might be characterized as being very “remorseful” instead of “resourceful.”

No doubt at some point in your life, you’ve heard an otherwise intelligent and articulate individual misuse a word or a phrase, right? I know I have. In fact, not that long ago one of my co-workers used the word “irregardless” three or four times during a meeting with a prospective client.

“Irregardless” is what language aficionados call a “nonstandard” word, which is a polite way of saying that it’s not a real word. Yet, much to my annoyance, I hear people use “irregardless” all too often in place of more suitable — and actual — words like regardless or irrespective.

FA054D19-6F11-4A05-953B-F825697AD950Each time this co-worker used that non-word, it was like he was scratching his fingernails along a chalkboard. (You remember chalkboards, right?) It sent shivers up and down my spine. It made my skin crawl. It was all I could do keep myself from jumping across the table, grabbing the guy by the throat, and screaming, “Stop saying ‘irregardless.’ That’s not a friggin’ word!” But I thought that might be a bit unprofessional of me.

Not only did he use the non-word irregardless over and over, he kept pronouncing the name of the city of Louisville, Kentucky, where our company has a service center, as Lewisville.

Everyone knows the name of that city is pronounced Lou-ee-ville, except, of course, to those who live in Louisville. They pronounce it Loo-ah-vul or sometimes just Loo-vul.

One time I heard a guy warn someone not to dilute himself, when he meant delude himself. This same guy used the phrase for all intensive purposes rather than for all intents and purposes.

Even presidents screw things up every once in a while. Remember George W. (“nucular”) Bush? Among his frequent malapropisms, one that stood out for me was when he discussed how the Democrats’ messaging was not resignating with the voters. Another classic Bushism: “We cannot let terrorists and rogue nations hold this nation hostile.” But as Bush, himself, pointed out, he was often misunderestimated.

And then there was the infamous Tweet from Sarah Palin during her 15 minutes of “going rogue” fame when she called upon Muslims to refudiate the building of a mosque near Ground Zero.

So why do I feel the need to bring this up? Well, I was inspired to do this because I was recently reminded of how common it is, even among business professionals, to misuse similar sounding words.

I came across these three email examples just this week.

“I knew your email would peak her attention!!!!”

Aside from exclamation mark overkill at the end of the sentence, I believe the correct word here should have been “pique,” and not “peak.”

Peak is a topmost point, such as a mountain peak. Peek is to take a glance or a quick look. Pique is to upset or excite someone.

Not that I’m a grammar Nazi or anything, but seriously, one does not “peak” one’s interest or attention.

“Do you have antidotal examples of where this saved the company money?”

I believe that she wasn’t searching for antidotes for saving money, but for some anecdotes, or stories, that illustrate how the company can save money. Unless, of course, we want to show how the company can save money by providing it with medicines or other remedies for counteracting the effects of poison, disease, etc.

“I just don’t want to push if it’s going to be for not.”

I can see where this is easily confused, but not for nothing, it’s not “for not,” it’s “for naught.”

Hey, we’re all only human, right? Each and every one of us has, at one time or another, selected the wrong word or mispronounced a word. So don’t dilute yourself into believing that, irregardless of how smart you think you are, you won’t occasionally screw up the English language.

After all, people sometimes misunderestimate their language skills, and that is something you just can’t refudiate. We must all learn to grin and bare it.

For all intensive purposes, anyway.

Fandango’s Friday Flashback — February 14

Wouldn’t you like to expose your newer readers to some of you earlier posts that they might never have seen? Or remind your long term followers of posts that they might not remember? Each Friday I will publish a post I wrote on this exact date in a previous year.

How about you? Why don’t you reach back into your own archives and highlight a post that you wrote on this very date in a previous year? You can repost your Friday Flashback post on your blog and pingback to this post. Or you can just write a comment below with a link to the post you selected.

If you’ve been blogging for less than a year, go ahead and choose a post that you previously published on this day (the 14th) of any month within the past year and link to that post in a comment.


This was originally posted on February 14, 2016 in my old blog. I posted it a few days after Bernie Sanders soundly beat Hillary Clinton by a margin of more than 22% in the popular vote in the 2016 New Hampshire Democratic presidential primary. Bernie was declared the winner of this year’s New Hampshire primary this past Tuesday, albeit in a much tighter race. When I reread this post, I realized that I feel the same way now as I did exactly four years ago today.

I Like Bernie Sanders, But….

BernieI really like Bernie Sanders. But I have to say, as a practical and pragmatic individual, I am hoping that he doesn’t earn the nomination as the standard bearer for the Democratic Party in this year’s presidential election.

And now that Bernie achieved a surprising “virtual tie” in Iowa and won big in New Hampshire this past Tuesday, it’s conceivable that he might just end up being the Democratic nominee.

But Is he electable in the general election?

Bernie describes himself as a “Democratic Socialist.” But the words “socialist” and “socialism” in the United States have very negative connotations. In fact, a lot of Americans find the idea of socialism downright scary.

Of course, they’re thinking of the old USSR, the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics, as well as of the classic definition of socialism, which is:

A political and economic theory of social organization that advocates that the means of production, distribution, and exchange should be owned or regulated by the community as a whole.

Of course, “community” in the concept of national socioeconomic systems, equates to “government.” And the Republican candidates — surprise, surprise — are milking those fears of socialism and “government control” over a wide swath of our society for all they’re worth. They’re claiming that the Democrats in general, and Bernie Sanders in particular, want to turn the United States into a European socialist nation like Sweden or Denmark.

Or, perish the thought, France.

But in truth, Sanders’ version of Democratic Socialism is not your grandfather’s socialism. Sanders’ approach doesn’t favor or promote government ownership of specific industries. It’s actually oriented around stronger regulations and trying to make sure that the private sector works for the benefit of everyone, and not just for a the very wealthy, or the so-called One Percenters.

Yet while I embrace many of his strategies for economic and political reform, I just don’t think the American voting public is ready for Bernie’s brand of Democratic Socialism.

On top of being a self-declared Democratic Socialist, Bernie is a Brooklyn Jew. He says he is not actively practicing his Jewish religion, but is, instead, Jewish by heritage and culture rather than by religious beliefs. Some suggest that he is agnostic, or worse, an atheist.

We’ve never had a Jewish president in this country. We’ve never had a non-Christian, non-religious president in this country, much less someone who is thought to be either agnostic or atheist.

So when it comes to the 2016 general election, not only do I think the American voting public is not ready for “Democratic Socialism,” I don’t think that mostly-Christian America is ready for an agnostic/atheist Jewish Democratic Socialist as president.

I’m just saying….

Fandango’s Friday (on Saturday) Flashback — February 8

I’m a day late with my Friday Flashback this week, but I’ve been kinda busy with my move, so I do hope you’ll all forgive me.
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Wouldn’t you like to expose your newer readers to some of you earlier posts that they might never have seen? Or remind your long term followers of posts that they might not remember? Each Friday I will publish a post I wrote on this exact date in a previous year.

How about you? Why don’t you reach back into your own archives and highlight a post that you wrote on this very date in a previous year? You can repost your Friday Flashback post on your blog and pingback to this post. Or you can just write a comment below with a link to the post you selected.

If you’ve been blogging for less than a year, go ahead and choose a post that you previously published on this day (the 8th) of any month within the past year and link to that post in a comment.


This was originally posted on February 8, 2010 in my old blog. Re-reading this post for the first time in a decade, I realized three things. One, American politics was just about as fucked up 10 years ago as it is today. Two, I used to get as upset and angry about the state of American politics back then as I do today. And three, I have learned in the past decade to write much shorter posts.

The Definition of Absured

Sarah Palin, the former governor of Alaska, former candidate for vice president, and current Fox News celebrity pundit, said it would be “absurd” for her not to consider running for president in 2012. She said that she will run for president if she believes it’s right for the country and right for her family.

Right for the country? What country would that be, Sarah? Are you referring to Russia, the country you can keep an eye on from your porch in Wasilla?

You know what the real definition of absurd is? It’s that Sarah Palin would even consider herself to be presidential material and that there are people who would actually take her seriously — seriously enough to vote for her in 2012. It’s absurd. And it’s frightening.

This is the same woman who is calling for Rahm Emanuel, Obama’s chief of staff, to be fired for using the word “retarded,” but who is silent about Rush Limbaugh calling people “retards.” Isn’t that special?

It is apparently true that Emanuel, in a meeting with White House aides this past August, referred to some liberal supporters as “fucking retarded” because of attack ads they were planning to air, which were targeted at conservative Democrats who opposed Obama’s health care reform initiative. Emanuel later issued an apology to Special Olympics chairman Tim Shriver for using the ‘R-word.”

Meanwhile, Palin wrote on her Facebook page:

“Just as we’d be appalled if any public figure of Rahm’s stature ever used the ‘N-word‘ or other such inappropriate language, Rahm’s slur on all God’s children with cognitive and developmental disabilities — and the people who love them — is unacceptable, and it’s heartbreaking.”

But where is the indignation toward her fellow conservative talking head? Limbaugh’s “retard” remarks on his radio program included multiple uses of the word. He said:

“Our politically correct society is acting like some giant insults have taken place by calling a bunch of people who are retards, retards. …I think their big news is he’s out there calling Obama’s number one supporters f-ing retards. So now there’s going to be a meeting. There’s going to be a retard summit at the White House.”

Correct me if I’m wrong, but didn’t Rush Limbaugh also once suggest that Michael J. Fox, who is suffering from Parkinson’s disease, was “moving all around and shaking and it’s purely an act”?

He went on to say, “This is really shameless of Michael J. Fox. Either he didn’t take his medication or he’s acting.” Limbaugh did take some heat for those remarks, but, hey, wasn’t he stoned on OxyContin back then?

So why didn’t sensitive Ms. Palin post something on her Facebook page calling for Limbaugh to be fired over his use of that “inappropriate language”? Why is it okay for Limbaugh to make “retard” remarks, but it’s unconscionable for Emanuel to use the word? In fact, according to the Huffington Post, Palin defended Limbaugh, saying:

“Rush Limbaugh was using satire…. I didn’t hear Rush Limbaugh calling a group of people whom he did not agree with ‘f-ing retards,’ and we did know that Rahm Emanuel, as has been reported, did say that. There is a big difference there.”

Yes, there is a big difference. Limbaugh is a righteous conservative and Emanuel is an evil liberal. Can you say “hypocrite”?

2E0371C4-19EA-4957-B04F-2B80C577DD80In another seemingly absurd act by Palin, during a speech at the Tea Party conference in which she mocked President Obama for his use of a teleprompter, a photo revealed several notes written on her left hand.

These notes included the words “Energy,” “Tax,” and “Lift American Spirits.” There’s also what appears to say “Budget cuts” with the word “Budget” crossed out. She also referred to the scribbled notes on her hand while being interviewed at the Tea Party shindig. Perhaps she should have etched the word “hypocite” on her palm, as well.

Gender Neutral

My final example of absurdity — today, anyway — doesn’t belong to Sarah Palin. In fact, just to show that I’m not completely partisan, this absurdity emanates from a Democrat. According to an article in the Boston Globe on Saturday, February 6, 2010, New Hampshire state Senator Kathy Sgambati wants the Granite State to change its constitution, which was ratified in 1783.

Apparently the offensive reference in the state constitution is in its opening words, where it notes that “All men are born equally free and independent.”

DAD64CCA-B52E-4808-A76A-CD156403EE8BSo what is it exactly that state Senator Sgambati finds so offensive? Seems she believes the constitution is sexist. “It’s a very simple thing in my mind. The constitution should reflect our government, and that includes women.” Ah, the beauty of a simple mind.

I am a typical, insensitive male, so before declaring this nonsense to be absurd, I asked my wife if she found terms such as “men,” “man,” and other such gender-specific references in historical documents like the Declaration of Independence and the US Constitution, to be offensive. She just laughed and wondered, with all that is wrong in this country today, whether this is really the best way for our legislators to be spending their time.

Apparently, to a number of legislators, the answer must be yes. Among the states that have already amended their constitutions to include gender-neutral language are Vermont, Maine, Rhode Island, California, Florida, Hawaii, and New York. Other states, such as Nebraska, have tried to amend their constitutions and failed. Massachusetts has kept its original language, as has the US Constitution.

So, in answer to my wife’s question, no, it’s not the best way for our legislators to be spending their time. It’s the definition of absurd.

Fandango’s Friday Flashback — January 31

Wouldn’t you like to expose your newer readers to some of you earlier posts that they might never have seen? Or remind your long term followers of posts that they might not remember?

Each Friday I will publish a post I wrote on this exact date in a previous year.

How about you? Why don’t you reach back into your own archives and highlight a post that you wrote on this very date in a previous year? You can repost your Friday Flashback post on your blog and pingback to this post. Or you can just write a comment below with a link to the post you selected.

If you’ve been blogging for less than a year, go ahead and choose a post that you previously published on this day (the 31st) of any month within the past year and link to that post in a comment.


This was originally posted on January 31, 2012 in my old blog.

San Francisco Scofflaw

scoff·law [skawf-law, skof-] noun: a person who flouts the law, especially one who fails to pay fines owed.

I am a law abiding citizen. I’ve never been arrested and have, only a few times over the course of my nearly fifty years of driving, been caught going over the speed limit, the operative word being “caught.” Okay, I admit that I have a tendency to exceed the posted limit, but hell, I’m just trying to keep pace with everyone else.

I also have to go on record that, having spent close to half my time in San Francisco over the past two years, I rarely drive when in that city. I mostly walk and use public transportation to get around, only infrequently pulling my car out of the garage.

So I was quite surprised the other day to receive a very official looking letter from the San Francisco Municipal Transportation Agency (SFMTA). I opened it up to see large, bold lettering that read “Notice of Delinquent Parking Violation.” Yikes!

My first thought was parking violation…what parking violation? Then I looked closely at the delinquency notice, at the date and time of the violation, and realized that this alleged parking violation took place on the same morning I drove my wife to the dentist after she chipped a tooth. I dropped her off and was sitting in my car, in the driver’s seat, in a parking space on the street in front of her dentist’s office patiently waiting for her return.

8217BA78-75CD-4AC6-A82B-F08F0F4CB350After about 10 minutes, a San Francisco meter-maid pulled up next to me in one of those weird little traffic carts, like the one pictured above. She motioned for me to move my car. I was a little puzzled by why she was gesturing for me to move; I was parked at a legitimate parking space.

However, being the law abiding citizen that I am, I immediately complied. I drove the car about a half a block away to an alley between the dentist’s office and a motel parking lot, where I waited another 15 or so minutes until my wife’s appointment was over.

I gave this brush with the law no further thought until this aforementioned notice was delivered to my home back east. My alleged violation, the notice indicated, was that it was a designated street cleaning morning, meaning that parking on that particular side of the street on that particular morning was not permitted.

96871F18-E890-465E-8F9F-3CF1B6012C6AOkay, that explains why the meter-maid motioned for me to move, but since I promptly obeyed, it doesn’t explain why a ticket was supposedly issued, or why I was never presented with said ticket.

The letter said, “Our records show that you have failed to respond to the parking ticket listed herein.” Yeah, I failed to respond because no one ever gave me a friggin’ parking ticket! How was I supposed to respond to something I never received?

The only way to clear up this matter, the notice advised, would be for me to immediately remit a check for $95 — $55 for the parking violation plus a $40 “collection fee” for being “delinquent.” Seriously?

NFW, I said to myself. Without delay I sat down at my computer and composed a scathing letter in which I stated all of the relevant facts and put the SFMTA on notice that I would be vigorously appealing its invalid violation and outrageous fine.

Another Fine Mess

Speaking about outrageous fines, I am also contesting a $480 ticket…seriously, $480…I received in the mail for being caught on a traffic-cam in Millbrae, CA turning right on red without coming to a full stop. My wife and I were driving our daughter to the San Francisco airport and I somehow missed the airport exit. I got off at the next exit, ultimately made my way back to the freeway, and headed back to the airport…in time for our daughter to catch her flight.

Yes, I suppose I was a bit flustered, having missed the airport exit and not wanting my error to cause our daughter to miss her red-eye flight back to Boston. And yes, I did sort of roll through the red light as I made my right turn.

But the evidence will show, your honor, that I did slow down and I did look both ways before sort of cruising…slowly, of course…into the turn. And as Rayman (the Rain Man) Babbitt would say, “I’m an excellent driver.”

And so, as I did with the SFMTA, I put the Superior Court of California on notice that I would be vigorously appealing its violation and the even more outrageous fine.

The next notice I receive, being the scofflaw that I apparently am, will probably be a warrant for my arrest.


January 31, 2020 postscript. The Superior Court of California ultimate did waive the $480 fine for rolling through the red light, but the SFMTA did not waive the $55 parking ticket, although they did, at least, waive the $40 “delinquent collection fee.”